Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a central mechanism for diversifying the cells found in complex tissues. This dynamic process helps organize the formation of the body plan, and while EMT is well studied in the context of embryonic development, it also plays a role in the genesis of fibroblasts during organ fibrosis in adult tissues. Emerging evidence from studies of renal fibrosis suggests that more than a third of all disease-related fibroblasts originate from tubular epithelia at the site of injury. This review highlights recent advances in the process of EMT signaling in health and disease and how it may be attenuated or reversed by selective cytokines and growth factors.
Obesity is associated with a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation. Two manuscripts in this issue of the JCI (see the related articles beginning on pages 1796 and 1821) now report that obese adipose tissue is characterized by macrophage infiltration and that these macrophages are an important source of inflammation in this tissue. These studies prompt consideration of new models to include a major role for macrophages in the molecular changes that occur in adipose tissue in obesity.
The development of type 2 diabetes requires impaired β cell function. Hyperglycemia itself causes further decreases in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. A new study demonstrates that hyperglycemia-induced mitochondrial superoxide production activates uncoupling protein 2, which decreases the ATP/ADP ratio and thus reduces the insulin-secretory response. These data suggest that pharmacologic inhibition of mitochondrial superoxide overproduction in β cells exposed to hyperglycemia could prevent a positive feed-forward loop of glucotoxicity that drives impaired glucose tolerance toward frank type 2 diabete
Neurofibromas are benign tumors comprised primarily of Schwann cells and fibroblasts. Mast cell infiltration is a well-known phenomenon; however, their role in tumor pathogenesis has been enigmatic. In an elegant set of experiments using cells derived from a murine model of neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), Yang et al. dissect the molecular pathways involved in mast cell migration to neurofibromin-deficient Schwann cells. These results set the stage for rational development of therapeutics that could influence the multicellular microenvironment of neurofibromas to inhibit the development and/or progression of these tumors in human NF
Ulcerative colitis (UC), a chronic inflammatory condition associated with a predisposition to colon cancer, is frequently characterized by DNA damage in the form of microsatellite instability (MSI). A new report links inflammation in UC with increases in the DNA repair enzymes 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase and apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease, and, paradoxically, with increased MSI. These findings may represent a novel mechanism contributing to MSI in chronic inflammation.
Obesity alters adipose tissue metabolic and endocrine function and leads to an increased release of fatty acids, hormones, and proinflammatory molecules that contribute to obesity associated complications. To further characterize the changes that occur in adipose tissue with increasing adiposity, we profiled transcript expression in perigonadal adipose tissue from groups of mice in which adiposity varied due to sex, diet, and the obesity-related mutations agouti (Ay) and obese (Lepob). We found that the expression of 1,304 transcripts correlated significantly with body mass. Of the 100 most significantly correlated genes, 30% encoded proteins that are characteristic of macrophages and are positively correlated with body mass. Immunohistochemical analysis of perigonadal, perirenal, mesenteric, and subcutaneous adipose tissue revealed that the percentage of cells expressing the macrophage marker F4/80 (F4/80+) was significantly and positively correlated with both adipocyte size and body mass. Similar relationships were found in human subcutaneous adipose tissue stained for the macrophage antigen CD68. Bone marrow transplant studies and quantitation of macrophage number in adipose tissue from macrophage-deficient (Csf1op/op) mice suggest that these F4/80+ cells are CSF-1 dependent, bone marrow–derived adipose tissue macrophages. Expression analysis of macrophage and nonmacrophage cell populations isolated from adipose tissue demonstrates that adipose tissue macrophages are responsible for almost all adipose tissue TNF-α expression and significant amounts of iNOS and IL-6 expression. Adipose tissue macrophage numbers increase in obesity and participate in inflammatory pathways that are activated in adipose tissues of obese individuals.
Malignant cells often display defects in autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved pathway for degrading long-lived proteins and cytoplasmic organelles. However, as yet, there is no genetic evidence for a role of autophagy genes in tumor suppression. The beclin 1 autophagy gene is monoallelically deleted in 40–75% of cases of human sporadic breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Therefore, we used a targeted mutant mouse model to test the hypothesis that monoallelic deletion of beclin 1 promotes tumorigenesis. Here we show that heterozygous disruption of beclin 1 increases the frequency of spontaneous malignancies and accelerates the development of hepatitis B virus–induced premalignant lesions. Molecular analyses of tumors in beclin 1 heterozygous mice show that the remaining wild-type allele is neither mutated nor silenced. Furthermore, beclin 1 heterozygous disruption results in increased cellular proliferation and reduced autophagy in vivo. These findings demonstrate that beclin 1 is a haplo-insufficient tumor-suppressor gene and provide genetic evidence that autophagy is a novel mechanism of cell-growth control and tumor suppression. Thus, mutation of beclin 1 or other autophagy genes may contribute to the pathogenesis of human cancers.
Insulin resistance arises from the inability of insulin to act normally in regulating nutrient metabolism in peripheral tissues. Increasing evidence from human population studies and animal research has established correlative as well as causative links between chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. However, the underlying molecular pathways are largely unknown. In this report, we show that many inflammation and macrophage-specific genes are dramatically upregulated in white adipose tissue (WAT) in mouse models of genetic and high-fat diet-induced obesity (DIO). The upregulation is progressively increased in WAT of mice with DIO and precedes a dramatic increase in circulating-insulin level. Upon treatment with rosiglitazone, an insulin-sensitizing drug, these macrophage-originated genes are downregulated. Histologically, there is evidence of significant infiltration of macrophages, but not neutrophils and lymphocytes, into WAT of obese mice, with signs of adipocyte lipolysis and formation of multinucleate giant cells. These data suggest that macrophages in WAT play an active role in morbid obesity and that macrophage-related inflammatory activities may contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity-induced insulin resistance. We propose that obesity-related insulin resistance is, at least in part, a chronic inflammatory disease initiated in adipose tissue.
Failure to secrete adequate amounts of insulin in response to increasing concentrations of glucose is an important feature of type 2 diabetes. The mechanism for loss of glucose responsiveness is unknown. Uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), by virtue of its mitochondrial proton leak activity and consequent negative effect on ATP production, impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Of interest, it has recently been shown that superoxide, when added to isolated mitochondria, activates UCP2-mediated proton leak. Since obesity and chronic hyperglycemia increase mitochondrial superoxide production, as well as UCP2 expression in pancreatic β cells, a superoxide-UCP2 pathway could contribute importantly to obesity- and hyperglycemia-induced β cell dysfunction. This study demonstrates that endogenously produced mitochondrial superoxide activates UCP2-mediated proton leak, thus lowering ATP levels and impairing glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Furthermore, hyperglycemia- and obesity-induced loss of glucose responsiveness is prevented by reduction of mitochondrial superoxide production or gene knockout of UCP2. Importantly, reduction of superoxide has no beneficial effect in the absence of UCP2, and superoxide levels are increased further in the absence of UCP2, demonstrating that the adverse effects of superoxide on β cell glucose sensing are caused by activation of UCP2. Therefore, superoxide-mediated activation of UCP2 could play an important role in the pathogenesis of β cell dysfunction and type 2 diabetes.
Relapsing polychondritis is a multisystem autoimmune disease involving cartilage destruction but no known causative antigen. HLA-DQ8 has been associated with various autoimmune diseases in humans. To study the role of DQ8 in autoimmune diseases, we have generated transgenic mice expressing DQ8 (DQA1*0301, DQB1*0302) in a NOD background lacking endogenous class II molecules (Aβo). Upon immunization with type II collagen (CII), 85% of NOD.DQ8 mice develop severe experimental polychondritis, auricular chondritis, and polyarthritis, with clinical and histological similarities to relapsing polychondritis (RP) in humans. CII-immunized mice mount a T cell response and produce Ab’s to type IX collagen (CIX) and self-CII. Transgene-negative littermates do not develop any serological and clinical manifestations following immunization. B10.DQ8 transgenic mice develop polyarthritis and Ab’s to CII only. The susceptibility to auricular chondritis in NOD.DQ8 mice can be attributed to response to CIX. A higher number of activated cells, CD4+CD44hiCD62Llo, and lower regulatory cells CD4+CD152+CD25+ were observed in NOD.DQ8 mice compared with B10.DQ8 mice. The NOD.DQ8 mice provide a model of RP with a high disease incidence and multiple organ involvement to investigate putative autoantigen and regulatory cells involved in disease pathogenesis. An experimental model restricted by the human class II molecule will be valuable when studying the role of various collagens in immunologic and pathologic responses in human RP.
The NF1 tumor suppressor gene encodes a GTPase-activating protein called neurofibromin that negatively regulates Ras signaling. Mutations in NF1 cause neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). The development of neurofibromas, which are complex tumors composed of multiple cell types, is a hallmark of NF1. Somatic inactivation of murine Nf1 in Schwann cells is necessary, but not sufficient, to initiate neurofibroma formation. Neurofibromas occur with high penetrance in mice in which Nf1 is ablated in Schwann cells in the context of a heterozygous mutant (Nf1+/–) microenvironment. Mast cells infiltrate neurofibromas, where they secrete proteins that can remodel the ECM and initiate angiogenesis. Thus, identification of mechanisms responsible for mast cell migration to tumor microenvironments is important for understanding tumorigenesis and for designing potential therapies. Here, we show that homozygous Nf1 mutant (Nf1–/–) Schwann cells secrete Kit ligand (KitL), which stimulates mast cell migration, and that Nf1+/– mast cells are hypermotile in response to KitL. Furthermore, we link hyperactivation of the Ras-class IA-PI3K-Rac2 pathway to increased Nf1+/– mast cell migration. Thus, these studies identify a novel interaction between Nf1–/– Schwann cells and Nf1+/– mast cells that is likely to be important in neurofibroma formation.
Invasive aspergillosis is a severe pneumonia that is usually fatal despite currently available therapy. The disease disproportionately afflicts immunocompromised patients, indicating the critical importance of the immune status of the host in this infection, but the defense mechanisms against this pathogen remain incompletely understood. In the current study, we hypothesized that the chemokine ligand monocyte chemotactic protein-1, also designated CC chemokine ligand-2 (MCP-1/CCL2) is necessary for effective host defense against invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised hosts. We found a rapid and marked induction of MCP-1/CCL2 in the lungs of neutropenic mice with invasive aspergillosis. Neutralizing MCP-1/CCL2 resulted in twofold greater mortality and greater than threefold increase in pathogen burden in the lungs. Neutralization of MCP-1/CCL2 also resulted in reduced recruitment of NK cells to the lungs at early time points, but did not affect the number of other leukocyte effector cells in the lungs. Ab-mediated depletion of NK cells similarly resulted in impaired defenses against the infection, resulting in a greater than twofold increase in mortality and impaired clearance of the pathogen from the lungs. These data establish MCP-1/CCL2–mediated recruitment of NK cells to the lungs as a critical early host defense mechanism in invasive aspergillosis and demonstrate NK cells to be an important and previously unrecognized effector cell in this infection.
The endothelium plays an important role in maintaining vascular homeostasis by synthesizing and releasing several vasodilating factors, including prostacyclin, NO, and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). We have recently identified that endothelium-derived H2O2 is an EDHF in mesenteric arteries of mice and humans and in porcine coronary microvessels. However, the mechanism for the endothelial production of H2O2 as an EDHF remains to be elucidated. In this study, we tested our hypothesis that Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn-SOD) plays a pivotal role in endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization, using control and Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice. In mesenteric arteries, EDHF-mediated relaxations and hyperpolarizations were significantly reduced in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice with no inhibitory effect of catalase, while endothelium-independent relaxations and hyperpolarizations were preserved. Endothelial H2O2 production also was significantly reduced in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice. In Langendorff isolated heart, bradykinin-induced increase in coronary flow was significantly reduced in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice, again with no inhibitory effect of catalase. The exogenous SOD mimetic tempol significantly improved EDHF-mediated relaxations and hyperpolarizations and coronary flow response in Cu,Zn-SOD–/– mice. These results prove the novel concept that endothelial Cu,Zn-SOD plays an important role as an “EDHF synthase” in mice, in addition to its classical role to scavenge superoxide anions.
Minor histocompatibility antigens with expression restricted to the recipient hematopoietic compartment represent prospective immunological targets for graft-versus-leukemia therapy. It remains unclear, however, whether donor T cell recognition of these hematopoietically derived minor histocompatibility antigens will induce significant graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Using established bone marrow irradiation chimeras across the multiple minor histocompatibility antigen–disparate, C57BL/6→BALB.B combination, we studied the occurrence of lethal GVHD mediated by CD4+ T cells in recipient mice expressing only hematopoietically derived alloantigens. Even substantial dosages of donor C57BL/6 CD4+ T cells were unable to elicit lethal GVHD when transplanted into [BALB.B→C57BL/6] chimeras. Instead, chimeric mice displayed transient cachexia with reduced target-tissue injury over time, reflecting an early, limited, graft-versus-host response. On the other hand, the importance of minor histocompatibility antigens derived from nonhematopoietic tissues was demonstrated by the finding that [C57BL/6→BALB.B] chimeric mice succumbed to C57BL/6 CD4+ T cell–mediated GVHD. These data suggest that severe acute CD4+ T cell–mediated GVHD across this minor histocompatibility antigen barrier depends on the expression of nonhematopoietically rather than hematopoietically derived alloantigens for maximal target-tissue infiltration and injury.
Chronic infection and associated inflammation are key contributors to human carcinogenesis. Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an oxyradical overload disease and is characterized by free radical stress and colon cancer proneness. Here we examined tissues from noncancerous colons of ulcerative colitis patients to determine (a) the activity of two base excision–repair enzymes , AAG, the major 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase, and APE1, the major apurinic site endonuclease; and (b) the prevalence of microsatellite instability (MSI). AAG and APE1 were significantly increased in UC colon epithelium undergoing elevated inflammation and MSI was positively correlated with their imbalanced enzymatic activities. These latter results were supported by mechanistic studies using yeast and human cell models in which overexpression of AAG and/or APE1 was associated with frameshift mutations and MSI. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the adaptive and imbalanced increase in AAG and APE1 is a novel mechanism contributing to MSI in patients with UC and may extend to chronic inflammatory or other diseases with MSI of unknown etiology.
This study tests the hypothesis that P2X1 receptors mediate pressure-induced afferent arteriolar autoregulatory responses. Afferent arterioles from rats and P2X1 KO mice were examined using the juxtamedullary nephron technique. Arteriolar diameter was measured in response to step increases in renal perfusion pressure (RPP). Autoregulatory adjustments in diameter were measured before and during P2X receptor blockade with NF279 or A1 receptor blockade with 1,3-dipropyl-8-cyclopentylxanthine (DPCPX). Acute papillectomy or furosemide perfusion was performed to interrupt distal tubular fluid flow past the macula densa, thus minimizing tubuloglomerular feedback–dependent influences on afferent arteriolar function. Under control conditions, arteriolar diameter decreased by 17% and 29% at RPP of 130 and 160 mmHg, respectively. Blockade of P2X1 receptors with NF279 blocked pressure-mediated vasoconstriction, reflecting an attenuated autoregulatory response. The A1 receptor blocker DPCPX did not alter autoregulatory behavior or the response to ATP. Deletion of P2X1 receptors in KO mice significantly blunted autoregulatory responses induced by an increase in RPP, and this response was not further impaired by papillectomy or furosemide. WT control mice exhibited typical RPP-dependent vasoconstriction that was significantly attenuated by papillectomy. These data provide compelling new evidence indicating that tubuloglomerular feedback signals are coupled to autoregulatory preglomerular vasoconstriction through ATP-mediated activation of P2X1 receptors.
Ca2+ ions play a fundamental role in many cellular processes, and the extracellular concentration of Ca2+ is kept under strict control to allow the proper physiological functions to take place. The kidney, small intestine, and bone determine the Ca2+ flux to the extracellular Ca2+ pool in a concerted fashion. Transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channel subfamily V, members 5 and 6 (TRPV5 and TRPV6) have recently been postulated to be the molecular gatekeepers facilitating Ca2+ influx in these tissues and are members of the TRP family, which mediates diverse biological effects ranging from pain perception to male aggression. Genetic ablation of TRPV5 in the mouse allowed us to investigate the function of this novel Ca2+ channel in maintaining the Ca2+ balance. Here, we demonstrate that mice lacking TRPV5 display diminished active Ca2+ reabsorption despite enhanced vitamin D levels, causing severe hypercalciuria. In vivo micropuncture experiments demonstrated that Ca2+ reabsorption was malfunctioning within the early part of the distal convolution, exactly where TRPV5 is localized. In addition, compensatory hyperabsorption of dietary Ca2+ was measured in TRPV5 knockout mice. Furthermore, the knockout mice exhibited significant disturbances in bone structure, including reduced trabecular and cortical bone thickness. These data demonstrate the key function of TRPV5 in active Ca2+ reabsorption and its essential role in the Ca2+ homeostasis.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation