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2015 Anniversary Issue


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Molecular Medicine 2015

Articles from this Volume

Jana Drgonova, Donna Walther, Katherine J Wang, G Luke Hartstein, Bryson Lochte, Juan Troncoso, Noriko Uetani, Yoichiro Iwakura, and George R Uhl

The receptor type protein tyrosine phosphatase D (PTPRD) gene encodes a cell adhesion molecule likely to influence development and connections of addiction- , locomotion- and sleep-related brain circuits in which it is expressed. The PTPRD gene harbors genome-wide association signals in studies of restless leg syndrome (Willis-Ekbom disease [WED]/restless leg syndrome [RLS]; p < 10–8) and addiction-related phenotypes (clusters of nearby single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs] with 10–2 > p > 10–8 associations in several reports). We now report work that seeks (a) association between PTPRD genotypes and expression of its mRNA in postmortem human brains and (b) RLS-related, addiction-related and comparison behavioral phenotypes in hetero- and homozygous PTPRD knockout mice. We identify associations between PTPRD SNPs and levels of PTPRD mRNA in human brain samples that support validity of mouse models with altered PTPRD expression. Knockouts display less behaviorally defined sleep at the end of their active periods. Heterozygotes move more despite motor weakness/impersistence. Heterozygotes display shifted doseresponse relationships for cocaine reward. They display greater preference for places paired with 5 mg/kg cocaine and less preference for places paired with 10 or 20 mg/kg. The combined data provide support for roles for common, level-of-expression PTPRD variation in locomotor, sleep and drug reward phenotypes relevant to RLS and addiction. Taken together, mouse and human results identify PTPRD as a novel therapeutic target for RLS and addiction phenotypes.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Leah Caracappa on Jan 8, 2016 3:00 PM CST
Lamia Heikal, Pietro Ghezzi, Manuela Mengozzi, and Gordon Ferns

Erythropoietin (EPO) has both erythropoietic and tissue-protective properties. The EPO analogues carbamylated EPO (CEPO) and pyroglutamate helix B surface peptide (pHBSP) lack the erythropoietic activity of EPO but retain the tissue-protective properties that are mediated by a heterocomplex of EPO receptor (EPOR) and the β common receptor (βCR). We studied the action of EPO and its analogues in a model of wound healing where a bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) monolayer was scratched and the scratch closure was assessed over 24 h under different oxygen concentrations. We related the effects of EPO and its analogues on repair to their effect on BAECs proliferation and migration (evaluated using a micro-Boyden chamber). EPO, CEPO and pHBSP enhanced scratch closure only at lower oxygen (5%), while their effect at atmospheric oxygen (21%) was not significant. The mRNA expression of EPOR was doubled in 5% compared with 21% oxygen, and this was associated with increased EPOR assessed by immunofluorescence and Western blot. By contrast, βCR mRNA levels were similar in 5% and 21% oxygen. EPO and its analogues increased both BAECs proliferation and migration, suggesting that both may be involved in the reparative process. The priming effect of low oxygen tension on the action of tissue-protective cytokines may be of relevance to vascular disease, including atherogenesis and restenosis.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 22, 2015 1:01 PM CST
William M Hanes, Peder S Olofsson, Kevin Kwan, LaQueta K Hudson, Sangeeta S Chavan, Valentin A Pavlov, and Kevin J Tracey

Type 1 diabetes in mice is characterized by autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Disease pathogenesis involves invasion of pancreatic islets by immune cells, including macrophages and T cells, and production of antibodies to self-antigens, including insulin. Activation of the inflammatory reflex, the neural circuit that inhibits inflammation, culminates on cholinergic receptor signals on immune cells to attenuate cytokine release and inhibit B-cell antibody production. Here, we show that galantamine, a centrally acting acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and an activator of the inflammatory reflex, attenuates murine experimental type 1 diabetes. Administration of galantamine to animals immunized with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) significantly suppressed splenocyte release of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-6 during KLH challenge ex vivo. Administration of galantamine beginning at 1 month of age in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice significantly delayed the onset of hyperglycemia, attenuated immune cell infiltration in pancreatic islets and decreased anti-insulin antibodies in serum. These observations indicate that galantamine attenuates experimental type 1 diabetes in mice and suggest that activation of the inflammatory reflex should be further studied as a potential therapeutic approach.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 22, 2015 12:39 PM CST
Pravin B Sehgal, Yang-Ming Yang, and Edmund J Miller

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a disease with high morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) and hereditary pulmonary arterial hypertension (HPAH) is approximately two- to four-fold higher in women than in men. Paradoxically, there is an opposite male bias in typical rodent models of PH (chronic hypoxia or monocrotaline); in these models, administration of estrogenic compounds (for example, estradiol-17β [E2]) is protective. Further complexities are observed in humans ingesting anorexigens (female bias) and in rodent models, such as after hypoxia plus SU5416/Sugen (little sex bias) or involving serotonin transporter overexpression or dexfenfluramine administration (female bias). These complexities in sex bias in PH remain incompletely understood. We recently discovered that conditional deletion of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5a/b (STAT5a/b) in vascular smooth muscle cells abrogated the male bias in PH in hypoxic mice and that late-stage obliterative lesions in patients of both sexes with IPAH and HPAH showed reduced STAT5a/b, reduced Tyr-P-STAT5 and reduced B-cell lymphoma 6 protein (BCL6). In trying to understand the significance of these observations, we realized that there existed a wellcharacterized E2-sensitive central neuroendocrine mechanism of sex bias, studied over the last 40 years, that, at its peripheral end, culminated in species-specific male (“pulsatile”) versus female (“more continuous”) temporal patterns of circulating growth hormone (GH) levels leading to male versus female patterned activation of STAT5a/b in peripheral tissues and thus sex-biased expression of hundreds of genes. In this report, we consider the contribution of this neuroendocrine mechanism (hypothalamus-GHSTAT5) in the generation of sex bias in different PH situations.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 18, 2015 10:51 AM CST
Hee Kyoung Chung, Yu Chen, Jaladanki N Rao, Lan Liu, Lan Xiao, Douglas J Turner, Peixin Yang, Myriam Gorospe, and Jian-Ying Wang

Defects in intestinal epithelial integrity occur commonly in various pathologies. miR-222 is implicated in many aspects of cellular function and plays an important role in several diseases, but its exact biological function in the intestinal epithelium is underexplored. We generated mice with intestinal epithelial tissue-specific overexpression of miR-222 to investigate the function of miR-222 in intestinal physiology and diseases in vivo. Transgenic expression of miR-222 inhibited mucosal growth and increased susceptibility to apoptosis in the small intestine, thus leading to mucosal atrophy. The miR-222–elevated intestinal epithelium was vulnerable to pathological stress, since local overexpression of miR-222 not only delayed mucosal repair after ischemia/reperfusion-induced injury, but also exacerbated gut barrier dysfunction induced by exposure to cecal ligation and puncture. miR-222 overexpression also decreased expression of the Wnt receptor Frizzled-7 (FZD7), cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and tight junctions in the mucosal tissue. Mechanistically, we identified the Fzd7 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) as a novel target of miR-222 and found that [miR-222/Fzd7 mRNA] association repressed Fzd7 mRNA translation. These results implicate miR-222 as a negative regulator of normal intestinal epithelial regeneration and protection by downregulating expression of multiple genes including the Fzd7. Our findings also suggest a novel role of increased miR-222 in the pathogenesis of mucosal growth inhibition, delayed healing and barrier dysfunction.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 10, 2015 12:32 PM CST
Attila Brunyanszki, Katalin Erdelyi, Bartosz Szczesny, Gabor Olah, Reinaldo Salomao, David N Herndon, and Csaba Szabo

The classical role of hemoglobin in the erythrocytes is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues via the circulation. However, hemoglobin also acts as a redox regulator and as a scavenger of the gaseous mediators nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Here we show that upregulation of hemoglobin (α, β and δ variants of globin proteins) occurs in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in critical illness (patients with severe third-degree burn injury and patients with sepsis). The increase in intracellular hemoglobin concentration is a result of a combination of enhanced protein expression and uptake from the extracellular space via a CD163-dependent mechanism. Intracellular hemoglobin preferentially localizes to the mitochondria, where it interacts with complex I and, on the one hand, increases mitochondrial respiratory rate and mitochondrial membrane potential, and on the other hand, protects from H2O2-induced cytotoxicity and mitochondrial DNA damage. Both burn injury and sepsis were associated with increased plasma levels of H2S. Incubation of mononuclear cells with H2S induced hemoglobin mRNA upregulation in PBMCs in vitro. Intracellular hemoglobin upregulation conferred a protective effect against cell dysfunction elicited by H2S. Hemoglobin uptake also was associated with a protection from, and induced the upregulation of, HIF-1α and Nrf2 mRNA. In conclusion, PBMCs in critical illness upregulate their intracellular hemoglobin levels by a combination of active synthesis and uptake from the extracellular medium. We propose that this process serves as a defense mechanism protecting the cell against cytotoxic concentrations of H2S and other gaseous transmitters, oxidants and free radicals produced in critically ill patients.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 10, 2015 10:50 AM CST
Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 8, 2015 8:35 AM CST
Padma Murthi, Sophie Brouillet, Anita Pratt, Anthony Borg, Bill Kalionis, Frederic Goffin, Vassilis Tsatsaris, Carine Munaut, Jean-Jacques Feige, Mohamed Benharouga, Thierry Fournier, and Nadia Alfaidy

Idiopathic fetal growth restriction (FGR) is frequently associated with placental insufficiency. Previous reports have provided evidence that endocrine gland–derived vascular endothelial growth factor (EG-VEGF), a placental secreted protein, is expressed during the first trimester of pregnancy, controls both trophoblast proliferation and invasion, and its increased expression is associated with human FGR. In this study, we hypothesize that EG-VEGF-dependent changes in placental homeobox gene expressions contribute to trophoblast dysfunction in idiopathic FGR. The changes in EG-VEGF-dependent homeobox gene expressions were determined using a homeobox gene cDNA array on placental explants of 8-12 wks gestation after stimulation with EG-VEGF in vitro for 24 h. The homeobox gene array identified a greater-than-five-fold increase in HOXA9, HOXC8, HOXC10, HOXD1, HOXD8, HOXD9 and HOXD11, while NKX 3.1 showed a greater-than-two-fold decrease in mRNA expression compared with untreated controls. Homeobox gene NKX3.1 was selected as a candidate because it is a downstream target of EG-VEGF and its expression and functional roles are largely unknown in control and idiopathic FGR-affected placentae. Real-time PCR and immunoblotting showed a significant decrease in NKX3.1 mRNA and protein levels, respectively, in placentae from FGR compared with control pregnancies. Gene inactivation in vitro using short-interference RNA specific for NKX3.1 demonstrated an increase in BeWo cell differentiation and a decrease in HTR-8/SVneo proliferation. We conclude that the decreased expression of homeobox gene NKX3.1 downstream of EG-VEGF may contribute to the trophoblast dysfunction associated with idiopathic FGR pregnancies.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 3, 2015 12:10 PM CST
Tatiana Iordanskaia, Miroslav Malesevic, Gunter Fischer, Tatiana Pushkarsky, Michael Bukrinsky, and Evan P Nadler

Biliary atresia (BA) is a devastating liver disease of unknown etiology affecting children generally within the first 3 months of life. The disease is manifested by inflammation and subsequent obstruction of the extrahepatic bile ducts, fibrosis and liver failure. The mechanisms responsible for disease pathogenesis are not fully understood, but a number of factors controlled by the SMAD signaling pathway have been implicated. In this study, we investigated the role of a known proinflammatory factor, extracellular cyclophilin A (CypA), in the pathogenesis of biliary atresia using the rhesus rotavirus (RRV) murine model. We used a unique cyclosporine A derivative, MM284, which does not enter cells and therefore inactivates exclusively extracellular cyclophilins, as a
potential treatment. We demonstrated that levels of CypA in plasma of RRV-infected mice were increased significantly, and that treatment of mice with MM284 prior to or one day after disease initiation by RRV infection significantly improved the status of mice with experimental BA: weight gain was restored, bilirubinuria was abrogated, liver infiltration by inflammatory cells was reduced and activation of the SMAD pathway and SMAD-controlled fibrosis mediators and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-4 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-7 was alleviated. Furthermore, treatment of human hepatic stellate cells with recombinant cyclophilin recapitulated SMAD2/3 activation, which was also suppressed by MM284 treatment. Our data provide the first evidence that extracellular cyclophilins activate the SMAD pathway and promote inflammation in experimental BA, and suggest that MM284 may be a promising therapeutic agent for treating BA and possibly other intrahepatic chronic disorders.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Dec 1, 2015 2:28 PM CST
Nikhil Mulchandani, Weng-Lang Yang, Mohammad Moshahid Khan, Fangming Zhang,Philippe Marambaud, Jeffrey Nicastro, Gene F Coppa, and Ping Wang

Sepsis and septic shock are enormous public health problems with astronomical financial repercussions on health systems worldwide. The central nervous system (CNS) is closely intertwined in the septic process but the underlying mechanism is still obscure. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a ubiquitous energy sensor enzyme and plays a key role in regulation of energy homeostasis and cell survival. In this study, we hypothesized that activation of AMPK in the brain would attenuate inflammatory responses in sepsis, particularly in the lungs. Adult C57BL/6 male mice were treated with 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide (AICAR, 20 ng), an AMPK activator, or vehicle (normal saline) by intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection, followed by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) at 30 min post-ICV. The septic mice treated with AICAR exhibited elevated phosphorylation of AMPKα in the brain along with reduced serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared with the vehicle. Similarly, the expressions of TNF-α, IL-1β, keratinocyte-derived chemokine and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 as well as myeloperoxidase activity in the lungs of AICAR-treated mice were significantly reduced. Moreover, histological findings in the lungs showed improvement of morphologic features and reduction of apoptosis with AICAR treatment. We further found that the beneficial effects of AICAR on septic mice were diminished in AMPKα2 deficient mice, showing that AMPK mediates these effects. In conclusion, our findings reveal a new functional role of activating AMPK in the CNS to attenuate inflammatory responses and acute lung injury in sepsis.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Nov 17, 2015 2:50 PM CST
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