The ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E (apo E) is associated with an increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). This may be due to interactions between apo E and the amyloid-β protein (Aβ). To assess the effects of human apo E isoforms on Aβ deposition in vivo, we bred apo E3 and apo E4 hemizygous (+/–) transgenic mice expressing apo E by astrocytes to mice homozygous (+/+) for a mutant amyloid precursor protein (APPV717F) transgene that develop age-dependent AD neuropathology. All mice were on a mouse apo E null (–/–) background. By nine months of age, APPV717F+/–, apo E–/– mice had developed Aβ deposition, and, as reported previously, the quantity of Aβ deposits was significantly less than that seen in APPV717F+/– mice expressing mouse apo E. In contrast to effects of mouse apo E, similar levels of human apo E3 and apo E4 markedly suppressed early Aβ deposition at nine months of age in APPV717F+/– transgenic mice, even when compared with mice lacking apo E. These findings suggest that human apo E isoforms decrease Aβ aggregation or increase Aβ clearance relative to an environment in which mouse apo E or no apo E is present. The results may have important implications for understanding mechanisms underlying the link between apo E and AD.
The earliest recognizable atherosclerotic lesions are fatty streaks composed of lipid-laden macrophages (foam cells). Circulating monocytes are the precursors of these foam cells, but the molecular mechanisms that govern macrophage trafficking through the vessel wall are poorly understood. Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), a member of the chemokine (chemotactic cytokine) family, is a potent monocyte agonist that is upregulated by oxidized lipids. Recent studies in hypercholesterolemic mice lacking apo E or the low-density lipoprotein receptor have suggested a role for MCP-1 in monocyte recruitment to early atherosclerotic lesions. To determine if MCP-1 is critically involved in atherogenesis in the setting of elevated physiological plasma cholesterol levels, we deleted the MCP-1 gene in transgenic mice expressing human apo B. Here we report that the absence of MCP-1 provides dramatic protection from macrophage recruitment and atherosclerotic lesion formation in apo B transgenic mice, without altering lipoprotein metabolism. Taken together with the results of earlier studies, these data provide compelling evidence that MCP-1 plays a critical role in the initiation of atherosclerosis.
Interleukin (IL)-13 is a pleiotropic cytokine produced in large quantities by activated CD4+ Th2 lymphocytes. To define further its potential in vivo effector functions, the Clara cell 10-kDa protein promoter was used to express IL-13 selectively in the lung, and the phenotype of the resulting transgenic mice was characterized. In contrast to transgene-negative littermates, the lungs of transgene-positive mice contained an inflammatory response around small and large airways and in the surrounding parenchyma. It was mononuclear in nature and contained significant numbers of eosinophils and enlarged and occasionally multinucleated macrophages. Airway epithelial cell hypertrophy, mucus cell metaplasia, the hyperproduction of neutral and acidic mucus, the deposition of Charcot-Leyden–like crystals, and subepithelial airway fibrosis were also prominently noted. Eotaxin protein and mRNA were also present in large quantities in the lungs of the transgene-positive, but not the transgene-negative, mice. IL-4, IL-5, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-5 were not similarly detected. Physiological evaluations revealed significant increases in baseline airways resistance and airways hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine in transgene-positive animals. Thus, the targeted pulmonary expression of IL-13 causes a mononuclear and eosinophilic inflammatory response, mucus cell metaplasia, the deposition of Charcot-Leyden–like crystals, airway fibrosis, eotaxin production, airways obstruction, and nonspecific AHR. IL-13 may play an important role in the pathogenesis of similar responses in asthma or other Th2-polarized tissue responses.
Thrombin and angiotensin II (angII) have trophic properties as mediators of vascular remodeling. Focal adhesions and actin cytoskeleton are involved in cell growth, shape, and movement and may be important in vascular remodeling. To characterize mechanisms by which thrombin and angII modulate vessel structure, we studied the effects of these G protein–coupled receptor ligands on focal adhesions in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Both thrombin and angII stimulated bundling of actin filaments to form stress fibers, assembly of focal adhesions, and protein tyrosine phosphorylation at focal adhesions, such as p130Cas, paxillin, and tensin. To test whether c-Src plays a critical role in focal adhesion rearrangement, we analyzed cells with altered c-Src activity by retroviral transduction of wild-type (WT) and kinase-inactive (KI) c-Src into rat VSMCs, and by use of VSMCs from WT (src+/+) and Src-deficient (src–/–) mice. Tyrosine phosphorylation of Cas, paxillin, and tensin were markedly decreased in VSMCs expressing KI-Src and in src–/– VSMCs. Expression of KI-Src did not inhibit stress fiber formation by thrombin. Surprisingly, actin bundling was markedly decreased in VSMCs from src–/– mice both basally and after thrombin stimulation, compared with src+/+ mice. We also studied the effect of KI-Src and WT-Src on VSMC spreading. Expression of KI-Src reduced the rate of VSMC spreading on collagen, whereas WT-Src enhanced cell spreading. In conclusion, c-Src plays a critical role in agonist-stimulated cytoskeletal reorganization and signal transduction at focal adhesions in VSMCs. c-Src kinase activity is required for the cytoskeletal turnover that occurs in cell spreading, whereas c-Src appears to regulate actin bundling via a kinase-independent mechanism.
The endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) gene is induced by a variety of extracellular signals under both in vitro and in vivo conditions. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying environmental regulation of eNos expression, transgenic mice were generated with the 1,600-bp 5′ flanking region of the human eNos promoter coupled to the coding region of the LacZ gene. In multiple independent lines of mice, transgene expression was detected within the endothelium of the brain, heart, skeletal muscle, and aorta. β-galactosidase activity was consistently absent in the vascular beds of the liver, kidney, and spleen. In stable transfection assays of murine endothelial progenitor cells, the 1,600-bp promoter region was selectively induced by conditioned media from cardiac myocytes, skeletal myocytes, and brain astrocytes. Cardiac myocyte–mediated induction was partly abrogated by neutralizing anti–platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) antibodies. In addition, promoter activity was upregulated by PDGF-AB. Analysis of promoter deletions revealed that a PDGF response element lies between –744 and –1,600 relative to the start site of transcription, whereas a PDGF-independent cardiac myocyte response element is present within the first 166 bp of the 5′ flanking region. Taken together, these results suggest that the eNos gene is regulated in the cardiac endothelium by both a PDGF-dependent and PDGF-independent microvascular bed–specific signaling pathway.
Chemokines direct tissue invasion by specific leukocyte populations. Thus, chemokines may play a role in multiple sclerosis (MS), an idiopathic disorder in which the central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory reaction is largely restricted to mononuclear phagocytes and T cells. We asked whether specific chemokines were expressed in the CNS during acute demyelinating events by analyzing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), whose composition reflects the CNS extracellular space. During MS attacks, we found elevated CSF levels of three chemokines that act toward T cells and mononuclear phagocytes: interferon-γ–inducible protein of 10 kDa (IP-10); monokine induced by interferon-γ (Mig); and regulated on activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted (RANTES). We then investigated whether specific chemokine receptors were expressed by infiltrating cells in demyelinating MS brain lesions and in CSF. CXCR3, an IP-10/Mig receptor, was expressed on lymphocytic cells in virtually every perivascular inflammatory infiltrate in active MS lesions. CCR5, a RANTES receptor, was detected on lymphocytic cells, macrophages, and microglia in actively demyelinating MS brain lesions. Compared with circulating T cells, CSF T cells were significantly enriched for cells expressing CXCR3 or CCR5. Our results imply pathogenic roles for specific chemokine–chemokine receptor interactions in MS and suggest new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.
Gaucher disease is an autosomal recessive inborn error of glycosphingolipid metabolism caused by the deficient activity of the lysosomal hydrolase, acid β-glucosidase. Three phenotypically distinct subtypes result from different acid β-glucosidase mutations encoding enzymes with absent or low activity. A severe neonatal type 2 variant who presented with collodion skin, ichthyosis, and a rapid neurodegenerative course had two novel acid β-glucosidase alleles: a complex, maternally derived allele, E326K+L444P, and a paternally inherited nonsense mutation, E233X. Because the only other non–pseudogene-derived complex allele, D140H+E326K, also had the E326K lesion and was reported in a mild type 1 patient with a D140H+E326K/K157Q genotype, these complex alleles and their individual mutations were expressed and characterized. Because the E233X mutation expressed no activity and the K157Q allele had ∼1% normal specific activity based on cross-reacting immunologic material (CRIM SA) in the baculovirus system, the residual activity in both patients was primarily from their complex alleles. In the type 1 patient, the D140H+E326K allele was neuroprotective, encoding an enzyme with a catalytic efficiency similar to that of the N370S enzyme. In contrast, the E326K+L444P allele did not have sufficient activity to protect against the neurologic manifestations and, in combination with the inactive E233X lesion, resulted in the severe neonatal type 2 variant. Thus, characterization of these novel genotypes with non–pseudogene-derived complex mutations provided the pathogenic basis for their diverse phenotypes.
Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is a hematopoietic growth factor that is widely used to treat neutropenia. In addition to stimulating polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) production, G-CSF may have significant effects on PMN function. Because G-CSF receptor (G-CSFR)–deficient mice do not have the expected neutrophilia after administration of human interleukin-8 (IL-8), we examined the effect of the loss of G-CSFR on IL-8–stimulated PMN function. Compared with wild-type PMNs, PMNs isolated from G-CSFR–deficient mice demonstrated markedly decreased chemotaxis to IL-8. PMN emigration into the skin of G-CSFR–deficient mice in response to IL-8 was also impaired. Significant chemotaxis defects were also seen in response to N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine, zymosan-activated serum, or macrophage inflammatory protein-2. The defective chemotactic response to IL-8 does not appear to be due to impaired chemoattractant receptor function, as the number of IL-8 receptors and chemoattractant-induced calcium influx, actin polymerization, and release of gelatinase B were comparable to those of wild-type PMNs. Chemoattractant-induced adhesion of G-CSFR–deficient PMNs was significantly impaired, suggesting a defect in β2-integrin activation. Collectively, these data demonstrate that selective defects in PMN activation are present in G-CSFR–deficient mice and indicate that G-CSF plays an important role in regulating PMN chemokine responsiveness.
Template-independent nucleotide additions (N regions) generated at sites of V(D)J recombination by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) increase the diversity of antigen receptors. Two inborn errors of purine metabolism, deficiencies of adenosine deaminase (ADA) and purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), result in defective lymphoid development and aberrant pools of 2′-deoxynucleotides that are substrates for TdT in lymphoid precursors. We have asked whether selective increases in dATP or dGTP pools result in altered N regions in an extrachromosomal substrate transfected into T-cell or pre–B-cell lines. Exposure of the transfected cells to 2′-deoxyadenosine and an ADA inhibitor increased the dATP pool and resulted in a marked increase in A–T insertions at recombination junctions, with an overall decreased frequency of V(D)J recombination. Sequence analysis of VH-DH-JH junctions from the IgM locus in B-cell lines from ADA-deficient patients demonstrated an increase in A–T insertions equivalent to that found in the transfected cells. In contrast, elevation of dGTP pools, as would occur in PNP deficiency, did not alter the already rich G–C content of N regions. We conclude that the frequency of V(D)J recombination and the composition of N-insertions are influenced by increases in dATP levels, potentially leading to alterations in antigen receptors and aberrant lymphoid development. Alterations in N-region insertions may contribute to the B-cell dysfunction associated with ADA deficiency.
The neuropeptide neurotensin mediates several intestinal functions, including chloride secretion, motility, and cellular growth. However, whether this peptide participates in intestinal inflammation is not known. Toxin A, an enterotoxin from Clostridium difficile, mediates pseudomembranous colitis in humans. In animal models, toxin A causes an acute inflammatory response characterized by activation of sensory neurons and intestinal nerves and immune cells of the lamina propria. Here we show that neurotensin and its receptor are elevated in the rat colonic mucosa following toxin A administration. Pretreatment of rats with the neurotensin receptor antagonist SR-48,692 inhibits toxin A–induced changes in colonic secretion, mucosal permeability, and histologic damage. Exposure of colonic explants to toxin A or neurotensin causes mast cell degranulation, which is inhibited by SR-48,692. Because substance P was previously shown to mediate mast cell activation, we examined whether substance P is involved in neurotensin-induced mast cell degranulation. Our results show that neurotensin-induced mast cell degranulation in colonic explants is inhibited by the substance P (neurokinin-1) receptor antagonist CP-96,345, indicating that colonic mast activation in response to neurotensin involves release of substance P. We conclude that neurotensin plays a key role in the pathogenesis of C. difficile–induced colonic inflammation and mast cell activation.
Activation of leukocytes by proinflammatory stimuli selectively initiates intracellular signal transduction via sequential phosphorylation of kinases. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation of human neutrophils is known to result in activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPk); however, the upstream activator(s) of p38 MAPk is unknown, and consequences of p38 MAPk activation remain largely undefined. We investigated the MAPk kinase (MKK) that activates p38 MAPk in response to LPS, the p38 MAPk isoforms that are activated as part of this pathway, and the functional responses affected by p38 MAPk activation. Although MKK3, MKK4, and MKK6 all activated p38 MAPk in experimental models, only MKK3 was found to activate recombinant p38 MAPk in LPS-treated neutrophils. Of p38 MAPk isoforms studied, only p38α and p38δ were detected in neutrophils. LPS stimulation selectively activated p38α. Specific inhibitors of p38α MAPk blocked LPS-induced adhesion, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation, and synthesis of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Inhibition of p38α MAPk resulted in a transient decrease in TNF-α mRNA accumulation but persistent loss of TNF-α synthesis. These findings support a pathway by which LPS stimulation of neutrophils results in activation of MKK3, which in turn activates p38α MAPk, ultimately regulating adhesion, NF-κB activation, enhanced gene expression of TNF-α, and regulation of TNF-α synthesis.
The interaction of the T-cell receptor with the major histocomatibility complex (MHC)–peptide complex is central to T-cell activation. Variation in the nature of the peptide bound within the groove of the MHC molecule may result in an altered T-cell response. Because some naturally processed peptides bound within the groove of the class II MHC molecule are derived from the MHC molecules themselves, we studied the inhibitory effects of synthetic class II MHC peptides on alloimmune responses in vitro. Three peptides derived from a highly conserved region of the class II MHC α chains inhibited the rat mixed lymphocyte response (MLR) in a dose-dependent manner, with the human HLA-DQA1 peptide also inhibiting the human and mouse MLR. No effect was seen on mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation. HLA-DQA1 inhibited cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) generation in a dose–response fashion, with no reduction in preformed CTL killing, suggesting that the inhibitory effect is targeted at CD4+ T-cell function. Cell-cycle analysis by flow cytometry showed that restimulation of primed T cells in the presence of HLA-DQA1 resulted in increased apoptosis, whereas unstimulated cells were not affected. These data demonstrate that synthetic peptides derived from highly conserved regions of the class II MHC α chain can alter CD4+ T-lymphocyte alloimmune responses in vitro, and this effect is mediated by the induction of apoptosis in activated T cells.
The potential roles of adhesion molecules in the expansion of T cell–mediated immune responses in the periphery were examined using DNA immunogen constructs as model antigens. We coimmunized cDNA expression cassettes encoding the adhesion molecules intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), lymphocyte function associated-3 (LFA-3), and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) along with DNA immunogens, and we analyzed the resulting antigen-specific immune responses. We observed that antigen-specific T-cell responses can be enhanced by the coexpression of DNA immunogen and adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and LFA-3. Coexpression of ICAM-1 or LFA-3 molecules along with DNA immunogens resulted in a significant enhancement of T-helper cell proliferative responses. In addition, coimmunization with pCICAM-1 (and more moderately with pCLFA-3) resulted in a dramatic enhancement of CD8-restricted cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses. Although VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 are similar in size, VCAM-1 coimmunization did not have any measurable effect on cell-mediated responses. These results suggest that ICAM-1 and LFA-3 provide direct T-cell costimulation. These observations are further supported by the finding that coinjection with ICAM-1 dramatically enhanced the level of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and β-chemokines macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α), MIP-1β, and regulated on activation normal T-cell expression and secreted (RANTES) produced by stimulated T cells. Through comparative studies, we observed that ICAM-1/LFA-1 T-cell costimulatory pathways are independent of CD86/CD28 pathways and that they may synergistically expand T-cell responses in vivo.
Because of the role of thrombin and platelets in myocardial infarction and other pathological processes, identifying and blocking the receptors by which thrombin activates platelets has been an important goal. Three protease-activated receptors (PARs) for thrombin — PAR1, PAR3, and PAR4 — are now known. PAR1 functions in human platelets, and the recent observation that a PAR4-activating peptide activates human platelets suggests that PAR4 also acts in these cells. Whether PAR1 and PAR4 account for activation of human platelets by thrombin, or whether PAR3 or still other receptors contribute, is unknown. We have examined the roles of PAR1, PAR3, and PAR4 in platelets. PAR1 and PAR4 mRNA and protein were detected in human platelets. Activation of either receptor was sufficient to trigger platelet secretion and aggregation. Inhibition of PAR1 alone by antagonist, blocking antibody, or desensitization blocked platelet activation by 1 nM thrombin but only modestly attenuated platelet activation by 30 nM thrombin. Inhibition of PAR4 alone using a blocking antibody had little effect at either thrombin concentration. Strikingly, simultaneous inhibition of both PAR1 and PAR4 virtually ablated platelet secretion and aggregation, even at 30 nM thrombin. These observations suggest that PAR1 and PAR4 account for most, if not all, thrombin signaling in platelets and that antagonists that block these receptors might be useful antithrombotic agents.
The high incidence of sudden death in heart failure may reflect abnormalities of repolarization and heightened susceptibility to arrhythmogenic early afterdepolarizations (EADs). We hypothesized that overexpression of the human K+ channel HERG (human ether-a-go-go-related gene) could enhance repolarization and suppress EADs. Adult rabbit ventricular myocytes were maintained in primary culture, which suffices to prolong action potentials and predisposes to EADs. To achieve efficient gene transfer, we created AdHERG, a recombinant adenovirus containing the HERG gene driven by a Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) promoter. The virally expressed HERG current exhibited pharmacologic and kinetic properties like those of native IKr. Transient outward currents in AdHERG-infected myocytes were similar in magnitude to those in control cells, while stimulated action potentials (0.2 Hz, 37°C) were abbreviated compared with controls. The occurrence of EADs during a train of action potentials was reduced by more than fourfold, and the relative refractory period was increased in AdHERG-infected myocytes compared with control cells. Gene transfer of delayed rectifier potassium channels represents a novel and effective strategy to suppress arrhythmias caused by unstable repolarization.
Hypercholesterolemia is a central pathogenic factor of endothelial dysfunction caused in part by an impairment of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) production through mechanisms that remain poorly characterized. The activity of the endothelial isoform of NO synthase (eNOS) was recently shown to be modulated by its reciprocal interactions with the stimulatory Ca2+–calmodulin complex and the inhibitory protein caveolin. We examined whether hypercholesterolemia may reduce NO production through alteration of this regulatory equilibrium. Bovine aortic endothelial cells were cultured in the presence of serum obtained from normocholesterolemic (NC) or hypercholesterolemic (HC) human volunteers. Exposure of endothelial cells to the HC serum upregulated caveolin abundance without any measurable effect on eNOS protein levels. This effect of HC serum was associated with an impairment of basal NO release paralleled by an increase in inhibitory caveolin–eNOS complex formation. Similar treatment with HC serum significantly attenuated the NO production stimulated by the calcium ionophore A23187. Accordingly, higher calmodulin levels were required to disrupt the enhanced caveolin–eNOS heterocomplex from HC serum–treated cells. Finally, cell exposure to the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) fraction alone dose-dependently reproduced the inhibition of basal and stimulated NO release, as well as the upregulation of caveolin expression and its heterocomplex formation with eNOS, which were unaffected by cotreatment with antioxidants. Together, our data establish a new mechanism for the cholesterol-induced impairment of NO production through the modulation of caveolin abundance in endothelial cells, a mechanism that may participate in the pathogenesis of endothelial dysfunction and the proatherogenic effects of hypercholesterolemia.
It has been proposed that the plasma phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP) facilitates the transfer of phospholipids and cholesterol from triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRL) into high-density lipoproteins (HDL). To evaluate the in vivo role of PLTP in lipoprotein metabolism, we used homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells and produced mice with no PLTP gene expression. Analysis of plasma of F2 homozygous PLTP–/– mice showed complete loss of phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, sphingomyelin, and partial loss of free cholesterol transfer activities. Moreover, the in vivo transfer of [3H]phosphatidylcholine ether from very-low-density proteins (VLDL) to HDL was abolished in PLTP–/– mice. On a chow diet, PLTP–/– mice showed marked decreases in HDL phospholipid (60%), cholesterol (65%), and apo AI (85%), but no significant change in non-HDL lipid or apo B levels, compared with wild-type littermates. On a high-fat diet, HDL levels were similarly decreased, but there was also an increase in VLDL and LDL phospholipids (210%), free cholesterol (60%), and cholesteryl ester (40%) without change in apo B levels, suggesting accumulation of surface components of TRL. Vesicular lipoproteins were shown by negative-stain electron microscopy of the free cholesterol– and phospholipid-enriched IDL/LDL fraction. Thus, PLTP is the major factor facilitating transfer of VLDL phospholipid into HDL. Reduced plasma PLTP activity causes markedly decreased HDL lipid and apoprotein, demonstrating the importance of transfer of surface components of TRL in the maintenance of HDL levels. Vesicular lipoproteins accumulating in PLTP–/– mice on a high-fat diet could influence the development of atherosclerosis.
The accepted importance of circulatory impairment to sickle cell anemia remains to be verified by in vivo experimentation. Intravital microscopy studies of blood flow in patients are limited to circulations that can be viewed noninvasively and are restricted from deliberate perturbations of the circulation. Further knowledge of sickle blood flow abnormalities has awaited an animal model of human sickle cell disease. We compared blood flow in the mucosal–intestinal microvessels of normal mice with that in transgenic knockout sickle cell mice that have erythrocytes containing only human hemoglobin S and that exhibit a degree of hemolytic anemia and pathological complications similar to the human disease. In sickle cell mice, in addition to seeing blood flow abnormalities such as sludging in all microvessels, we detected decreased blood flow velocity in venules of all diameters. Flow responses to hyperoxia in both normal and sickle cell mice were dramatic, but opposite: Hyperoxia promptly slowed or halted flow in normal mice but markedly enhanced flow in sickle cell mice. Intravital microscopic studies of this murine model provide important insights into sickle cell blood flow abnormalities and suggest that this model can be used to evaluate the causes of abnormal flow and new approaches to therapy of sickle cell disease.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation