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Molecular Medicine 2015

Articles from this Volume

Wei Li, Shu Zhu, Jianhua Li, Jason D’Amore, John D’Angelo, Huan Yang, Ping Wang, Kevin J Tracey, and Haichao Wang

Serum amyloid A (SAA) proteins are known to be surrogate markers of sepsis, but their pathogenic roles remain poorly elucidated. Here we provide evidence to support a possible role of SAA as a pathogenic mediator of lethal sepsis. In a subset of septic patients for which serum high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) levels paralleled the clinical scores, some anti-HMGB1 antibodies detected a 12-kDa protein belonging to the SAA family. In contrast to the most abundant SAA1, human SAA induced doublestranded RNA-activated protein kinase R (PKR) expression and HMGB1 release in the wild-type, but not toll-like receptor 4/receptor for advanced glycation end products (TLR4/RAGE)-deficient, macrophages. Pharmacological inhibition of PKR phosphorylation blocked SAA-induced HMGB1 release, suggesting an important role of PKR in SAA-induced HMGB1 release. In animal models of lethal endotoxemia and sepsis, recombinant SAA exacerbated endotoxemic lethality, whereas SAA-neutralizing immunoglobulins G (IgGs) significantly improved animal survival. Collectively, these findings have suggested SAA as an important mediator of inflammatory diseases. Highlights of this study include: human SAA is possibly only expressed in a subset of septic patients; SAA induces HMGB1 release via TLR4 and RAGE receptors; SAA supplementation worsens the outcome of lethal endotoxemia; whereas SAA-neutralizing antibodies confer protection against lethal endotoxemia and sepsis.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 15, 2015 8:38 AM CDT
Makiko Yasuda, Angelika L Erwin, Lawrence U Liu, Manisha Balwani, Brenden Chen, Senkottuvelan Kadirvel, Lin Gan, M Isabel Fiel, Ronald E Gordon, Chunli Yu, Sonia Clavero, Antonios Arvelakis, Hetanshi Naik, L David Martin, John D Phillips, Karl E Anderson,Vaithamanithi M Sadagoparamanujam, Sander S Florman, and Robert J Desnick

Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) is an autosomal-dominant hepatic disorder caused by the half-normal activity of hydroxymethylbilane (HMB) synthase. Symptomatic individuals experience life-threatening acute neurovisceral attacks that are precipitated by factors that induce the hepatic expression of 5-aminolevulinic acid synthase 1 (ALAS1), resulting in the marked accumulation of the putative neurotoxic porphyrin precursors 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) and porphobilinogen (PBG). Here, we provide the first detailed description of the biochemical and pathologic alterations in the explanted liver of an AIP patient who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) due to untreatable and debilitating chronic attacks. After OLT, the recipient’s plasma and urinary ALA and PBG rapidly normalized, and her attacks immediately stopped. In the explanted liver, (a) ALAS1 mRNA and activity were elevated approximately ~3- and 5-fold, and ALA and PBG concentrations were increased ~3- and 1,760-fold, respectively; (b) uroporphyrin III concentration was elevated; (c) microsomal heme content was sufficient, and representative cytochrome P450 activities were essentially normal; (d) HMB synthase activity was approximately half-normal (~42%); (e) iron concentration was slightly elevated; and (f) heme oxygenase I mRNA was increased approximately three-fold. Notable pathologic findings included nodular regenerative hyperplasia, previously not reported in AIP livers, and minimal iron deposition, despite the large number of hemin infusions received before OLT. These findings suggest that the neurovisceral symptoms of AIP are not associated with generalized hepatic heme deficiency and support the neurotoxicity of ALA and/or PBG. Additionally, they indicate that substrate inhibition of hepatic HMB synthase activity by PBG is not a pathogenic mechanism in acute attacks.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 14, 2015 2:38 PM CDT
James L Wynn, Scott O Guthrie, Hector R Wong, Patrick Lahni, Ricardo Ungaro, M Cecilia Lopez, Henry V Baker, and Lyle L Moldawer

Neonates manifest a unique host response to sepsis even among other children. Preterm neonates may experience sepsis soon after birth or during often-protracted birth hospitalizations as they attain physiologic maturity. We examined the transcriptome using genome-wide expression profiling on prospectively collected peripheral blood samples from infants evaluated for sepsis within 24 h after clinical presentation. Simultaneous plasma samples were examined for alterations in inflammatory mediators. Group designation (sepsis or uninfected) was determined retrospectively on the basis of clinical exam and laboratory results over the next 72 h from the time of evaluation. Unsupervised analysis showed the major node of separation between groups was timing of sepsis episode relative to birth (early, <3 d, or late, ≥3 d). Principal component analyses revealed significant differences between patients with early or late sepsis despite the presence of similar key immunologic pathway aberrations in both groups. Unique to neonates, the uninfected state and host response to sepsis is significantly affected by timing relative to birth. Future therapeutic approaches may need to be tailored to the timing of the infectious event based on postnatal age.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 14, 2015 2:16 PM CDT
Carolin Kurz, Maani Hakimi, Matthias Kloor, Caspar Grond-Ginsbach, Marie-Luise Gross-Weissmann, Dittmar Böckler, Magnus von Knebel Doeberitz, and Susanne Dihlmann

Somatic DNA alterations are known to occur in atherosclerotic carotid artery lesions; however, their significance is unknown. The accumulation of microsatellite mutations in coding DNA regions may reflect a deficiency of the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system. Alternatively, accumulation of these coding microsatellite mutations may indicate that they contribute to the pathology. To discriminate between these two possibilities, we compared the mutation frequencies in coding microsatellites (likely functionally relevant) with those in noncoding microsatellites (likely neutral). Genomic DNA was isolated from carotid endarterectomy (CEA) specimens of 26 patients undergoing carotid surgery and from 15 nonatherosclerotic control arteries. Samples were analyzed by DNA fragment analysis for instability at three noncoding (BAT25, BAT26, CAT25) and five coding (AIM2, ACVR2, BAX, CASP5, TGFBR2) microsatellite loci, with proven validity for detection of microsatellite instability in neoplasms. We found an increased frequency of coding microsatellite mutations in CEA specimens compared with control specimens (34.6 versus 0%; p = 0.0013). Five CEA specimens exhibited more than one frameshift mutation, and ACVR2 and CASP5 were affected most frequently (5/26 and 6/26). Moreover, the rate of coding microsatellite alterations (15/130) differed significantly from that of noncoding alterations (0/78) in CEA specimens (p = 0.0013). In control arteries, no microsatellite alterations were observed, neither in coding nor in noncoding microsatellite loci. In conclusion, the specific accumulation of coding mutations suggests that these mutations play a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic carotid lesions, since the absence of mutations in noncoding microsatellites argues against general microsatellite instability, reflecting MMR deficiency.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 14, 2015 1:59 PM CDT
Azhar R Hussain, Maha Al-Romaizan, Maqbool Ahmed, Saravanan Thangavel, Fouad Al-Dayel, Shaham Beg, Shahab Uddin, Abdul K Siraj, and Khawla S Al-Kuraya

Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) are two key components of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. Dysregulation of these pathways have been found in many cancers, including epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), however, the role of mTOR has not been fully elucidated in Middle Eastern EOC. Therefore, we investigated the activation of mTOR complexes (mTORC1 and mTORC2) in a cohort of 156 EOC from Saudi Arabia by immunohistochemistry in a tissue microarray format. mTORC1 and mTORC2 were found to be activated in 55 of 146 (37.7%) and 63 of 140 (45%) of EOC samples, respectively. mTORC1 was significantly associated with mTORC2 (p < 0.0001) activation and both mTOR complexes were significantly associated with p-AKT (p = 0.0205 and 0.0298) and p-P70S6 (p < 0.0001 and 0.0035), respectively. Interestingly, mTOR activation incurred a poor progression-free survival (PFS) (p = 0.0188) in EOC. Next, the in vitro effect of inactivation of mTOR complexes was evaluated using a second-generation mTOR inhibitor, Torin2, on a panel of EOC cell lines. Torin2 treatment decreased cell viability and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner via inactivation of mTORC1 and mTORC2 and their downstream targets in EOC cell lines. Furthermore, treatment of EOC cells with a subtoxic dose of Torin2 potentiated a cisplatin-induced apoptotic response in EOC cell lines. Finally, we studied the in vivo effect of a combination of Torin2 and cisplatin and found that this combination synergistically inhibited tumor growth in nude mice. These studies highlight the importance of targeting the mTOR survival pathway and suggest that cotreatment with cisplatin and Torin2 may be beneficial for the management of EOC.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 10, 2015 9:48 AM CDT
Ilija Jeftic, Nemanja Jovicic, Jelena Pantic, Nebojsa Arsenijevic, Miodrag L Lukic, and Nada Pejnovic

The importance of Galectin-3 (Gal-3) in obesity-associated liver pathology is incompletely defined. To dissect the role of Gal-3 in fibrotic nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), Gal-3-deficient (LGALS3–/–) and wild-type (LGALS3+/+) C57Bl/6 mice were placed on an obesogenic high fat diet (HFD, 60% kcal fat) or standard chow diet for 12 and 24 wks. Compared to WT mice, HFD-fed LGALS3–/– mice developed, in addition to increased visceral adiposity and diabetes, marked liver steatosis, which was accompanied with higher expression of hepatic PPAR-γ, Cd36, Abca-1 and FAS. However, as opposed to LGALS3–/– mice, hepatocellular damage, inflammation and fibrosis were more extensive in WT mice which had an elevated number of mature myeloid dendritic cells, proinflammatory CD11b+Ly6Chi monocytes/macrophages in liver, peripheral blood and bone marrow, and increased hepatic CCL2, F4/80, CD11c, TLR4, CD14, NLRP3 inflammasome, IL-1β and NADPH-oxidase enzymes mRNA expression. Thus, obesity-driven greater steatosis was uncoupled with attenuated fibrotic NASH in Gal-3-deficient mice. HFD-fed WT mice had a higher number of hepatocytes that strongly expressed IL-33 and hepatic CD11b+IL-13+ cells, increased levels of IL-33 and IL-13 and upregulated IL-33, ST2 and IL-13 mRNA in liver compared with LGALS3–/– mice. IL-33 failed to induce ST2 upregulation and IL-13 production by LGALS3–/– peritoneal macrophages in vitro. Administration of IL-33 in vivo enhanced liver fibrosis in HFD-fed mice in both genotypes, albeit to a significantly lower extent in LGALS3–/– mice, which was associated with less numerous hepatic IL-13-expressing CD11b+ cells. The present study provides evidence of a novel role for Gal-3 in regulating IL-33-dependent liver fibrosis.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 1, 2015 12:34 PM CDT
Daniel P Reay, Sheldon I Bastacky, Kathryn E Wack, Donna B Stolz, Paul D Robbins, and Paula R Clemens

In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients and the mdx mouse model of DMD, chronic activation of the classical nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway contributes to the pathogenesis that causes degeneration of muscle fibers, inflammation and fibrosis. Prior studies demonstrate that inhibition of inhibitor of κB kinase (IKK)-mediated NF-κB activation using L-isomer NF-κB essential modulator (NEMO)-binding domain (NBD) peptide-based approaches reduce muscle pathology in the mdx mouse. For our studies, the NBD peptide is synthesized as a fusion peptide with an eight-lysine (8K) protein transduction domain to facilitate intracellular delivery. We hypothesized that the D-isoform peptide could have a greater effect than the naturally occurring L-isoform peptide due to the longer persistence of the D-isoform peptide in vivo. In this study, we compared systemic treatment with low (1 mg/kg) and high (10 mg/kg) doses of L- and D-isomer 8K-wild-type-NBD peptide in mdx mice. Treatment with both L- or D-isoform 8K-wild-type-NBD peptide resulted in decreased activation of NF-κB and improved histology in skeletal muscle of the mdx mouse. However, we observed kidney toxicity (characterized by proteinuria), increased serum creatinine, activation of NF-κB and pathological changes in kidney cortex that were most severe with treatment with the D-isoform of 8K-wild-type-NBD peptide. The observed toxicity was also seen in normal mice.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Aug 31, 2015 10:10 AM CDT
Brendon P Scicluna, Miriam H van Lieshout, Dana C Blok, Sandrine Florquin, and Tom van der Poll

Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spneu) remains the most lethal bacterial pathogen and the dominant agent of community-acquired pneumonia. Treatment has perennially focused on the use of antibiotics, albeit scrutinized due to the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant Spneu strains. Immunomodulatory strategies have emerged as potential treatment options. Although promising, immunomodulation can lead to improper tissue functions either at steady state or upon infectious challenge. This argues for the availability of tools to enable a detailed assessment of whole pulmonary functions during the course of infection, not only those functions biased to the defense response. Thus, through the use of an unbiased tissue microarray and bioinformatics approach, we aimed to construct a comprehensive map of whole-lung transcriptional activity and cellular pathways during the course of pneumococcal pneumonia. We performed genome-wide transcriptional analysis of whole lungs before and 6 and 48 h after Spneu infection in mice. The 4,000 most variable transcripts across all samples were used to assemble a gene coexpression network comprising 13 intercorrelating modules (clusters of genes). Fifty-four percent of this whole-lung transcriptional network was altered 6 and 48 h after Spneu infection. Canonical signaling pathway analysis uncovered known pathways imparting protection, including IL17A/IL17F signaling and previously undetected mechanisms that included lipid metabolism. Through in silico prediction of cell types, pathways were observed to enrich for distinct cell types such as a novel stromal cell lipid metabolism pathway. These cellular mechanisms were furthermore anchored at functional hub genes of cellular fate, differentiation, growth and transcription. Collectively, we provide a benchmark unsupervised map of whole-lung transcriptional relationships and cellular activity during early and late pneumococcal pneumonia.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Aug 27, 2015 9:52 AM CDT
Yao Di, Yun-Ling He, Tong Zhao, Xin Huang, Kui-Wu Wu, Shu-Hong Liu, Yong-Qi Zhao, Ming Fan, Li-Ying Wu, Ling-Ling Zhu

The treatment of stroke is limited by a short therapeutic window and a lack of effective clinical drugs. Methylene blue (MB) has been used in laboratories and clinics since the 1890s. Few studies have reported the neuroprotective role of MB in cerebral ischemiareperfusion injury. However, whether and how MB protects against acute cerebral ischemia (ACI) injury was unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect of MB on this injury and revealed that MB protected against ACI injury by augmenting mitophagy. Using a rat middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) model, we demonstrated that MB improved neurological function and reduced the infarct volume and necrosis after ACI injury. These improvements depended on the effect of MB on mitochondrial structure and function. ACI caused the disorder and disintegration of mitochondrial structure, while MB ameliorated the destruction of mitochondria. In addition, mitophagy was inhibited at 24 h after stroke and MB augmented mitophagy. In an oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) model in vitro, we further revealed that the elevation of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) by MB under OGD conditions mediated the augmented mitophagy. In contrast, exacerbating the decline of MMP during OGD abolished the MB-induced activation of mitophagy. Taken together, MB promotes mitophagy by maintaining the MMP at a relatively high level, which contributes to a decrease in necrosis and an improvement in neurological function, thereby protecting against ACI injury.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Aug 25, 2015 10:25 AM CDT
Davorka Messmer, Kymmy Lorrain, Karin Stebbins, Yalda Bravo, Nicholas Stock, Geraldine Cabrera, Lucia Correa, Austin Chen, Jason Jacintho, Nicholas Chiorazzi, Xiao Jie Yan, David Spaner, Peppi Prasit, and Daniel Lorrain

Tumor-specific metabolic changes can reveal new therapeutic targets. Our findings implicate a supporting role for fatty acid metabolism in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cell survival. Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor (PPAR)-α, a major transcriptional regulator of fatty acid oxidation, was recently shown to be upregulated in CLL. To evaluate PPARα as a potential therapeutic target, we developed a highly selective, potent small molecule antagonist of PPARα, NXT629. NXT629 inhibited agonistinduced transcription of PPARα-regulated genes, demonstrating target engagement in CLL cells. Furthermore, NXT629 induced apoptosis of CLL cells even in the presence of a protective microenvironment. To mimic the proliferative lymphoid compartment of CLL, we examined the activity of NXT629 on CLL cells that were stimulated to proliferate in vitro. NXT629 reduced the number of leukemia cells undergoing cell division. In addition, in two xenograft mouse models of CLL (one a model for nondividing and one for dividing CLL), NXT629 reduced the number of viable CLL cells in vivo. Overall, these results suggest that fatty acid metabolism promotes survival and proliferation of primary CLL cells and that inhibiting PPARα gene regulation could be a new therapeutic approach to treating CLL.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Aug 25, 2015 9:36 AM CDT
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