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Abstract

Chemokines are important modulators of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. In the brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and in AD animal models, the chemokine CXCL10 is found in high concentrations, suggesting a pathogenic role for this chemokine and its receptor, CXCR3. Recent studies aimed at addressing the role of CXCR3 in neurological diseases indicate potent, but diverse, functions for CXCR3. Here, we examined the impact of CXCR3 in the amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin 1 (PS1) transgenic mouse model of AD. We found that, compared with control APP/PSI animals, plaque burden and Aβ levels were strongly reduced in CXCR3-deficient APP/PS1 mice. Analysis of microglial phagocytosis in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that CXCR3 deficiency increased the microglial uptake of Aβ. Application of a CXCR3 antagonist increased microglial Aβ phagocytosis, which was associated with reduced TNF-α secretion. Moreover, in CXCR3-deficient APP/PS1 mice, microglia exhibited morphological activation and reduced plaque association, and brain tissue from APP/PS1 animals lacking CXCR3 had reduced concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines compared with controls. Further, loss of CXCR3 attenuated the behavioral deficits observed in APP/PS1 mice. Together, our data indicate that CXCR3 signaling mediates development of AD-like pathology in APP/PS1 mice and suggest that CXCR3 has potential as a therapeutic target for AD.

Authors

Marius Krauthausen ... Michael T. Heneka, Marcus Müller

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Abstract

Glucagon-like peptide-1–based (GLP-1–based) therapies improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. While these agents augment insulin secretion, they do not mimic the physiological meal-related rise and fall of GLP-1 concentrations. Here, we tested the hypothesis that increasing the number of intestinal L cells, which produce GLP-1, is an alternative strategy to augment insulin responses and improve glucose tolerance. Blocking the NOTCH signaling pathway with the γ-secretase inhibitor dibenzazepine increased the number of L cells in intestinal organoid–based mouse and human culture systems and augmented glucose-stimulated GLP-1 secretion. In a high-fat diet–fed mouse model of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes, dibenzazepine administration increased L cell numbers in the intestine, improved the early insulin response to glucose, and restored glucose tolerance. Dibenzazepine also increased K cell numbers, resulting in increased gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) secretion. Using a GLP-1 receptor antagonist, we determined that the insulinotropic effect of dibenzazepine was mediated through an increase in GLP-1 signaling. Together, our data indicate that modulation of the development of incretin-producing cells in the intestine has potential as a therapeutic strategy to improve glycemic control.

Authors

Natalia Petersen ... Fiona M. Gribble, Eelco J.P. de Koning

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Abstract

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major worldwide health problem. Recent studies suggest that the gut microbiota influences NAFLD pathogenesis. Here, a murine model of high-fat diet–induced (HFD-induced) NAFLD was used, and the effects of alterations in the gut microbiota on NAFLD were determined. Mice treated with antibiotics or tempol exhibited altered bile acid composition, with a notable increase in conjugated bile acid metabolites that inhibited intestinal farnesoid X receptor (FXR) signaling. Compared with control mice, animals with intestine-specific Fxr disruption had reduced hepatic triglyceride accumulation in response to a HFD. The decrease in hepatic triglyceride accumulation was mainly due to fewer circulating ceramides, which was in part the result of lower expression of ceramide synthesis genes. The reduction of ceramide levels in the ileum and serum in tempol- or antibiotic-treated mice fed a HFD resulted in downregulation of hepatic SREBP1C and decreased de novo lipogenesis. Administration of C16:0 ceramide to antibiotic-treated mice fed a HFD reversed hepatic steatosis. These studies demonstrate that inhibition of an intestinal FXR/ceramide axis mediates gut microbiota–associated NAFLD development, linking the microbiome, nuclear receptor signaling, and NAFLD. This work suggests that inhibition of intestinal FXR is a potential therapeutic target for NAFLD treatment.

Authors

Changtao Jiang ... Andrew D. Patterson, Frank J. Gonzalez

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Abstract

SCN5A encodes the α subunit of the major cardiac sodium channel NaV1.5. Mutations in SCN5A are associated with conduction disease and ventricular fibrillation (VF); however, the mechanisms that link loss of sodium channel function to arrhythmic instability remain unresolved. Here, we generated a large-animal model of a human cardiac sodium channelopathy in pigs, which have cardiac structure and function similar to humans, to better define the arrhythmic substrate. We introduced a nonsense mutation originally identified in a child with Brugada syndrome into the orthologous position (E558X) in the pig SCN5A gene. SCN5AE558X/+ pigs exhibited conduction abnormalities in the absence of cardiac structural defects. Sudden cardiac death was not observed in young pigs; however, Langendorff-perfused SCN5AE558X/+ hearts had an increased propensity for pacing-induced or spontaneous VF initiated by short-coupled ventricular premature beats. Optical mapping during VF showed that activity often began as an organized focal source or broad wavefront on the right ventricular (RV) free wall. Together, the results from this study demonstrate that the SCN5AE558X/+ pig model accurately phenocopies many aspects of human cardiac sodium channelopathy, including conduction slowing and increased susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias.

Authors

David S. Park ... Larry A. Chinitz, Glenn I. Fishman

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Abstract

Genome integrity is continuously challenged by the DNA damage that arises during normal cell metabolism. Biallelic mutations in the genes encoding the genome surveillance enzyme ribonuclease H2 (RNase H2) cause Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), a pediatric disorder that shares features with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here we determined that heterozygous parents of AGS patients exhibit an intermediate autoimmune phenotype and demonstrated a genetic association between rare RNASEH2 sequence variants and SLE. Evaluation of patient cells revealed that SLE- and AGS-associated mutations impair RNase H2 function and result in accumulation of ribonucleotides in genomic DNA. The ensuing chronic low level of DNA damage triggered a DNA damage response characterized by constitutive p53 phosphorylation and senescence. Patient fibroblasts exhibited constitutive upregulation of IFN-stimulated genes and an enhanced type I IFN response to the immunostimulatory nucleic acid polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid and UV light irradiation, linking RNase H2 deficiency to potentiation of innate immune signaling. Moreover, UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation was markedly enhanced in ribonucleotide-containing DNA, providing a mechanism for photosensitivity in RNase H2–associated SLE. Collectively, our findings implicate RNase H2 in the pathogenesis of SLE and suggest a role of DNA damage–associated pathways in the initiation of autoimmunity.

Authors

Claudia Günther ... Andrew P. Jackson, Min Ae Lee-Kirsch

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Abstract

Persistent HPV infection is recognized as the main etiologic factor for cervical cancer. HPV expresses the oncoproteins E6 and E7, both of which play key roles in maintaining viral infection and promoting carcinogenesis. While siRNA-mediated targeting of E6 and E7 transcripts temporarily induces apoptosis in HPV-positive cells, it does not eliminate viral DNA within the host genome, which can harbor escape mutants. Here, we demonstrated that specifically targeting E6 and E7 within host DNA with transcription activator–like effector nucleases (TALENs) induces apoptosis, inhibits growth, and reduces tumorigenicity in HPV-positive cell lines. TALEN treatment efficiently disrupted E6 and E7 oncogenes, leading to the restoration of host tumor suppressors p53 and retinoblastoma 1 (RB1), which are targeted by E6 and E7, respectively. In the K14-HPV16 transgenic mouse model of HPV-driven neoplasms, direct cervical application of HPV16-E7–targeted TALENs effectively mutated the E7 oncogene, reduced viral DNA load, and restored RB1 function and downstream targets transcription factor E2F1 and cycling-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), thereby reversing the malignant phenotype. Together, the results from our study suggest that TALENs have potential as a therapeutic strategy for HPV infection and related cervical malignancy.

Authors

Zheng Hu ... Ding Ma, Hui Wang

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Abstract

BACKGROUND. Previous efforts to preserve β cell function in individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) have focused largely on the use of single immunomodulatory agents administered within 100 days of diagnosis. Based on human and preclinical studies, we hypothesized that a combination of low-dose anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) and pegylated granulocyte CSF (G-CSF) would preserve β cell function in patients with established T1D (duration of T1D >4 months and <2 years).

METHODS. A randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 25 subjects: 17 subjects received ATG (2.5 mg/kg intravenously) followed by pegylated G-CSF (6 mg subcutaneously every 2 weeks for 6 doses) and 8 subjects received placebo. The primary outcome was the 1-year change in AUC C-peptide following a 2-hour mixed-meal tolerance test (MMTT). At baseline, the age (mean ± SD) was 24.6 ± 10 years; mean BMI was 25.4 ± 5.2 kg/m2; mean A1c was 6.5% ± 1.1%; insulin use was 0.31 ± 0.22 units/kg/d; and length of diagnosis was 1 ± 0.5 years.

RESULTS. Combination ATG/G-CSF treatment tended to preserve β cell function in patients with established T1D. The mean difference in MMTT-stimulated AUC C-peptide between treated and placebo subjects was 0.28 nmol/l/min (95% CI 0.001–0.552, P = 0.050). A1c was lower in ATG/G-CSF–treated subjects at the 6-month study visit. ATG/G-CSF therapy was associated with relative preservation of Tregs.

CONCLUSIONS. Patients with established T1D may benefit from combination immunotherapy approaches to preserve β cell function. Further studies are needed to determine whether such approaches may prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01106157.

FUNDING. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and Sanofi.

Authors

Michael J. Haller ... Mark A. Atkinson, Desmond A. Schatz

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Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a severe autoimmune disease characterized by the presence of nucleic acid– and protein-targeting autoantibodies and an aberrant type I IFN expression signature. Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is an autosomal-recessive encephalopathy in children that is characterized by mutations in numerous nucleic acid repair enzymes and elevated IFN levels. Phenotypically, patients with AGS and SLE share many similarities. Ribonuclease H2 (RNase H2) is a nucleic acid repair enzyme that removes unwanted ribonucleotides from DNA. In this issue of the JCI, Günther and colleagues provide an in-depth investigation of the mechanisms underlying the link between defective removal of ribonucleotides in AGS and SLE, and these findings will likely serve as a strong springboard to provide novel therapeutic inroads.

Authors

William F. Pendergraft III, Terry K. Means

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Abstract

For hepatitis C virus (HCV) and other highly variable viruses, broadly neutralizing mAbs are an important guide for vaccine development. The development of resistance to anti-HCV mAbs is poorly understood, in part due to a lack of neutralization testing against diverse, representative panels of HCV variants. Here, we developed a neutralization panel expressing diverse, naturally occurring HCV envelopes (E1E2s) and used this panel to characterize neutralizing breadth and resistance mechanisms of 18 previously described broadly neutralizing anti-HCV human mAbs. The observed mAb resistance could not be attributed to polymorphisms in E1E2 at known mAb-binding residues. Additionally, hierarchical clustering analysis of neutralization resistance patterns revealed relationships between mAbs that were not predicted by prior epitope mapping, identifying 3 distinct neutralization clusters. Using this clustering analysis and envelope sequence data, we identified polymorphisms in E2 that confer resistance to multiple broadly neutralizing mAbs. These polymorphisms, which are not at mAb contact residues, also conferred resistance to neutralization by plasma from HCV-infected subjects. Together, our method of neutralization clustering with sequence analysis reveals that polymorphisms at noncontact residues may be a major immune evasion mechanism for HCV, facilitating viral persistence and presenting a challenge for HCV vaccine development.

Authors

Justin R. Bailey ... Steven K.H. Foung, Stuart C. Ray

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Abstract

Patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) rapidly lose β cell function and/or mass, leading to a life-long dependence on insulin therapy. β Cell destruction is mediated by aberrant immune responses; therefore, immune modulation has potential to ameliorate disease. While immune intervention in animal models of diabetes has shown promising results, treatment of patients with T1D with the same agents has not been as successful. In this issue of the JCI, Haller and colleagues present data from a small clinical trial that tested the efficacy of a combination of immunomodulatory agents, anti-thymocyte globulin and pegylated granulocyte CSF, neither of which have shown benefit for T1D as single treatment agents. Many patients that received combination therapy maintained β cell function at baseline levels up to a year after treatment. The results from this study challenge current trial design paradigm that for combined therapy to be successful individual agents should show benefit.

Authors

Jay S. Skyler

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Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of chronic liver disease, and efforts to develop therapeutic vaccine strategies have been limited by immune escape due to HCV variants that are resistant to current vaccines or HCV variants that rapidly acquire new resistance-conferring mutations. Recently, the crystal structure of the viral envelope protein E2 region was resolved as well as how E2 docks to the host CD81 protein; therefore, antibodies that block this interaction should prevent viral entry into host cells. In this issue of the JCI, Bailey and colleagues show that immune escape of HCV can occur by naturally occurring polymorphisms in E2 that are distinct from those at mapped sites of antibody binding. These data reveal alternative mechanisms of resistance that need to be considered in both natural viral escape as well as in rationale vaccine design against HCV.

Authors

Jay K. Kolls, Gyongyi Szabo

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Abstract

Mutations in SCN5A, which encodes the α subunit of the major cardiac sodium channel NaV1.5, are associated with multiple cardiac arrhythmias, including Brugada syndrome. It is not clear why mutations in SCN5A result in such a variety of cardiac phenotypes, and introduction of analogous Scn5a mutations into small-animal models has not recapitulated alterations in cardiac physiology associated with human disease. In this issue of the JCI, Park and colleagues present a pig model of cardiac sodium channelopathy that was generated by introducing a human Brugada syndrome–associated SCN5A allele. This large-animal model exhibits many phenotypes seen in patients with SCN5A loss-of-function mutations and has the potential to provide important insight into sodium channelopathies.

Authors

Arthur A.M. Wilde, Pieter G. Postema

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December 2014


124-12-cover

December 2014 Issue

On the cover:
JC virus infection targets astrocytes

The cover image shows a JC virus–infected oligodendrocyte stained for oligodendrocyte marker O4 (red), phospho-p53 (Ser15) (green), and viral T antigen (blue). On page 5323, Kondo et al. describe a human glial chimeric mouse model of JC virus infection and uncover a role for astrocytes as the primary reservoir for infection.

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Jci_impact_2014_12

December 2014 Impact

JCI Impact is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published in each month's issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Review Series - More

Gut Microbiome

Series edited by Martin J. Blaser

The human gastrointestinal tract harbors approximately one hundred trillion microbial cells, collectively known as the gut microbiome. We have been aware of these friendly bacteria for around a century, but we are only now beginning to appreciate their influence in multiple aspects of human physiology and disease. Our understanding of the gut microbiome is constantly evolving and is currently being aided by new technologies and approaches that combine ecological principles with biomedical techniques. These new studies take into account both the pathological and commensal aspects of the microbes that inhabit our bodies. Reviews in this series explore how perturbation of the microbiome not only contributes to disease, but also helps to reveal its function; the impact of the microbiome on the metabolism of therapeutics and dietary nutrients; the contributions of commensal bacteria to disease, including cancer and cardiovascular disease; and the role of the microbiome in the development and maintenance of the immune system.

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