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Science And Society
Women’s health and clinical trials
Women have traditionally been underrepresented in clinical trials. In order to translate recent advances in our understanding of the molecular and physiological bases of sex differences into new therapeutics and health practices, sound sex-specific clinical data are imperative. Since the founding of the Office of Research on Women’s Health within the Office of the Director at the NIH in 1990, inequities in federally funded biomedical research, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting women in the US have been reviewed. Discussed herein is the evolution of gender-related research innovations, primarily within the last decade, and strategies and challenges involved in the success of this recent development.
Hepatoprotection via the IL-6/Stat3 pathway
Stat3 is a vital transcription factor that is activated downstream of the gp130 receptor, primarily via IL-6 signaling in adult liver. A new study demonstrates that Stat3 provides hepatoprotection against Fas-mediated apoptotic liver damage by two mechanisms: direct inactivation of caspases and reduction of reactive oxygen species.
Selectin and selectin ligand binding: a bittersweet attraction
Inhibition of leukocyte migration into target organs has long been an attractive, though challenging, basis for anti-inflammatory strategies. However, to date, the manipulation of leukocyte rolling along blood vessels has not yielded successful new therapies. An important study may now open new avenues in this exciting field of anti-inflammatory therapies by introducing a putative inhibitor of poly-N-acetyllactosamine biosynthesis that affects selectin ligand activity and shows efficacy in a rodent skin inflammation model.
Finding NEMO: genetic disorders of NF-κB activation
The pathways between a receptor and transcriptional activation mediated by NF-κB are complex. The study of human gene mutations that result in dysregulation of these pathways has provided insight into the functions of individual components of the pathway, their interrelations, and the significance of these systems to the organism .
Diabetes, microvascular complications, and cardiovascular complications: what is it about glucose?
Glycemic control is the primary mediator of diabetic microvascular complications and also contributes to macrovascular complications. A new study (see related article beginning on page 1049) reveals a previously unrecognized association between oxidant activation of poly(ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP) and upregulation of known mediators of glycemic injury. Inhibitors of PARP may have potential therapeutic roles in the prevention of diabetic complications.
Stat3 protects against Fas-induced liver injury by redox-dependent and -independent mechanisms
Sanae Haga, Keita Terui, Hui Qi Zhang, Shin Enosawa, Wataru Ogawa, Hiroshi Inoue, Torayuki Okuyama, Kiyoshi Takeda, Shizuo Akira, Tetsuya Ogino, Kaikobad Irani, Michitaka OzakiAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 989)
Signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (Stat3) is one of the most important molecules involved in the initiation of liver development and regeneration. In order to investigate the hepatoprotective effects of Stat3, we examined whether Stat3 protects against Fas-mediated liver injury in the mouse. A constitutively activated form of Stat3 (Stat3-C) was adenovirally overexpressed in mouse liver by intravenous injection, and then a nonlethal dose of Fas agonist (Jo2) was injected intraperitoneally into the mouse (0.3 μg/g body wt). Stat3-C dramatically suppressed both apoptosis and necrosis induced by Jo2. In contrast, liver-specific Stat3-knockout mice failed to survive following Jo2 injection. Stat3-C upregulated expression of FLICE inhibitor protein (FLIP), Bcl-XL, and Bcl-2, and accordingly downregulated activities of FLICE and caspase-3 that were redox-independent. Interestingly, Stat3-C also upregulated the redox-associated protein redox factor-1 (Ref-1) and reduced apoptosis in liver following Jo2 injection by suppressing oxidative stress and redox-sensitive caspase-3 activity. These findings indicate that Stat3 activation protects against Fas-mediated liver injury by inhibiting caspase activities in redox-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
A novel protective effect of erythropoietin in the infarcted heart
Cyrus J. Parsa, Akio Matsumoto, Jihee Kim, Ryan U. Riel, Laura S. Pascal, G. Brant Walton, Richard B. Thompson, Jason A. Petrofski, Brian H. Annex, Jonathan S. Stamler, Walter J. KochAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 999)
Erythropoietin (EPO) has been shown to protect neurons from ischemic stroke, but can also increase thrombotic events and mortality rates in patients with ischemic heart disease. We reasoned that benefits of EPO might be offset by increases in hematocrit and evaluated the direct effects of EPO in the ischemic heart. We show that preconditioning with EPO protects H9c2 myoblasts in vitro and cardiomyocytes in vivo against ischemic injury. EPO treatment leads to significantly improved cardiac function following myocardial infarction. This protection is associated with mitigation of myocyte apoptosis, translating into more viable myocardium and less ventricular dysfunction. EPO-mediated myocyte survival appears to involve Akt activation. Importantly, cardioprotective effects of EPO were seen without an increase in hematocrit (eliminating oxygen delivery as an etiologic factor in myocyte survival and function), demonstrating that EPO can directly protect the ischemic and infarcted heart.
Prevention of leukocyte migration to inflamed skin with a novel fluorosugar modifier of cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen
E-selectin and P-selectin on dermal postcapillary venules play critical roles in the migration of effector T cells into inflamed skin. P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1) modified by α1,3-fucosyltransferase is the principal selectin ligand on skin-homing T cells and is required for effector T cell entry into inflamed skin. We have previously shown that a fluorinated analog of N-acetylglucosamine peracetylated-4-fluorinated-D-glucosamine (4-F-GlcNAc), inhibits selectin ligand expression on human T cell PSGL-1. To analyze 4-F-GlcNAc efficacy in dampening effector T cell migration to inflamed skin, we elicited allergic contact hypersensitivity (CHS) reactions in mice treated with 4-F-GlcNAc. We also investigated 4-F-GlcNAc efficacy on lymphocyte E-selectin ligand expression in LNs draining antigen-sensitized skin and on other immunological processes requisite for CHS responses. Our results showed that 4-F-GlcNAc treatment attenuated lymphocyte E-selectin ligand expression in skin-draining LNs and prevented CHS reactions. Significant reductions in inflammatory lymphocytic infiltrate were observed, while pathways related to antigenic processing and presentation and naive T cell recognition within skin-draining LNs were unaffected. These data indicate that 4-F-GlcNAc prevents CHS by inhibiting selectin ligand activity and the capacity of effector T cells to enter antigen-challenged skin without affecting the afferent phase of CHS.
Congenital sick sinus syndrome caused by recessive mutations in the cardiac sodium channel gene (SCN5A)
D. Woodrow Benson, Dao W. Wang, Macaira Dyment, Timothy K. Knilans, Frank A. Fish, Margaret J. Strieper, Thomas H. Rhodes, Alfred L. George Jr.Abstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1019)
Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) describes an arrhythmia phenotype attributed to sinus node dysfunction and diagnosed by electrocardiographic demonstration of sinus bradycardia or sinus arrest. Although frequently associated with underlying heart disease and seen most often in the elderly, SSS may occur in the fetus, infant, and child without apparent cause. In this setting, SSS is presumed to be congenital. Based on prior associations with disorders of cardiac rhythm and conduction, we screened the α subunit of the cardiac sodium channel (SCN5A) as a candidate gene in ten pediatric patients from seven families who were diagnosed with congenital SSS during the first decade of life. Probands from three kindreds exhibited compound heterozygosity for six distinct SCN5A alleles, including two mutations previously associated with dominant disorders of cardiac excitability. Biophysical characterization of the mutants using heterologously expressed recombinant human heart sodium channels demonstrate loss of function or significant impairments in channel gating (inactivation) that predict reduced myocardial excitability. Our findings reveal a molecular basis for some forms of congenital SSS and define a recessive disorder of a human heart voltage-gated sodium channel.
Anti-IL-5 treatment reduces deposition of ECM proteins in the bronchial subepithelial basement membrane of mild atopic asthmatics
Patrick Flood-Page, Andrew Menzies-Gow, Simon Phipps, Sun Ying, Arun Wangoo, Mara S. Ludwig, Neil Barnes, Douglas Robinson, A. Barry KayAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1029)
Eosinophil-derived TGF-β has been implicated in remodeling events in asthma. We hypothesized that reduction of bronchial mucosal eosinophils with anti–IL-5 would reduce markers of airway remodeling. Bronchial biopsies were obtained before and after three infusions of a humanized, anti–IL-5 monoclonal antibody (mepolizumab) in 24 atopic asthmatics in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The thickness and density of tenascin, lumican, and procollagen III in the reticular basement membrane (RBM) were quantified immunohistochemically by confocal microscopy. Expression of TGF-β1 mRNA by airway eosinophils was assessed by in situ hybridization, and TGF-β1 protein was measured in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid by ELISA. At baseline, airway eosinophil infiltration and ECM protein deposition was increased in the RBM of asthmatics compared with nonasthmatic controls. Treating asthmatics with anti–IL-5 antibody, which specifically decreased airway eosinophil numbers, significantly reduced the expression of tenascin, lumican, and procollagen III in the bronchial mucosal RBM when compared with placebo. In addition, anti–IL-5 treatment was associated with a significant reduction in the numbers and percentage of airway eosinophils expressing mRNA for TGF-β1 and the concentration of TGF-β1 in BAL fluid. Therefore eosinophils may contribute to tissue remodeling processes in asthma by regulating the deposition of ECM proteins.
Regulatory functions of CD8+CD28– T cells in an autoimmune disease model
Nader Najafian, Tanuja Chitnis, Alan D. Salama, Bing Zhu, Christina Benou, Xueli Yuan, Michael R. Clarkson, Mohamed H. Sayegh, Samia J. KhouryAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1037)
CD8+ T cell depletion renders CD28-deficient mice susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). In addition, CD8–/–CD28–/– double-knockout mice are susceptible to EAE. These findings suggest a role for CD8+ T cells in the resistance of CD28-deficient mice to disease. Adoptive transfer of CD8+CD28– T cells into CD8–/– mice results in significant suppression of disease, while CD8+CD28+ T cells demonstrate no similar effect on the clinical course of EAE in the same recipients. In vitro, CD8+CD28– but not CD8+CD28+ T cells suppress IFN-γ production of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein–specific CD4+ T cells. This suppression requires cell-to-cell contact and is dependent on the presence of APCs. APCs cocultured with CD8+CD28– T cells become less efficient in inducing a T cell–dependent immune response. Such interaction prevents upregulation of costimulatory molecules by APCs, hence decreasing the delivery of these signals to CD4+ T cells. These are the first data establishing that regulatory CD8+CD28– T cells occur in normal mice and play a critical role in disease resistance in CD28–/– animals.
Inhibition of GAPDH activity by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activates three major pathways of hyperglycemic damage in endothelial cells
Xueliang Du, Takeshi Matsumura, Diane Edelstein, Luciano Rossetti, Zsuzsanna Zsengellér, Csaba Szabó, Michael BrownleeAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1049)
In this report, we show that hyperglycemia-induced overproduction of superoxide by the mitochondrial electron transport chain activates the three major pathways of hyperglycemic damage found in aortic endothelial cells by inhibiting GAPDH activity. In bovine aortic endothelial cells, GAPDH antisense oligonucleotides activated each of the pathways of hyperglycemic vascular damage in cells cultured in 5 mM glucose to the same extent as that induced by culturing cells in 30 mM glucose. Hyperglycemia-induced GAPDH inhibition was found to be a consequence of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of GAPDH by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), which was activated by DNA strand breaks produced by mitochondrial superoxide overproduction. Both the hyperglycemia-induced decrease in activity of GAPDH and its poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation were prevented by overexpression of either uncoupling protein–1 (UCP-1) or manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), which decrease hyperglycemia-induced superoxide. Overexpression of UCP-1 or MnSOD also prevented hyperglycemia-induced DNA strand breaks and activation of PARP. Hyperglycemia-induced activation of each of the pathways of vascular damage was abolished by blocking PARP activity with the competitive PARP inhibitors PJ34 or INO-1001. Elevated glucose increased poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of GAPDH in WT aortae, but not in the aortae from PARP-1–deficient mice. Thus, inhibition of PARP blocks hyperglycemia-induced activation of multiple pathways of vascular damage.
IL-10 is critical for Th2 responses in a murine model of allergic dermatitis
Dhafer Laouini, Harri Alenius, Paul Bryce, Hans Oettgen, Erdyni Tsitsikov, Raif S. GehaAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1058)
We found that mechanical injury to mouse skin, which can be caused by tape stripping, results in rapid induction of IL-10 mRNA. IL-10–/– mice were used to examine the role of IL-10 in a mouse model of allergic dermatitis induced by epicutaneous (EC) sensitization with OVA on tape-stripped skin. Skin infiltration by eosinophils and expression of eotaxin, IL-4, and IL-5 mRNA in OVA-sensitized skin sites were severely diminished in IL-10–/– mice. Following in vitro stimulation with OVA, splenocytes from EC-sensitized IL-10–/– mice secreted significantly less IL-4, but significantly more IFN-γ, than splenocytes from WT controls. A similar skewing in cytokine secretion profile was observed in the splenocytes of IL-10–/– mice immunized intraperitoneally with OVA. IL-10–/– APCs skewed the in vitro response of OVA T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic T cells towards Th1. Examination of the Th response of WT and IL-10–/– mice immunized with OVA-pulsed WT or IL-10–/– DCs revealed that both DCs and T cells participate in IL-10 skewing of the Th2 response in vivo. These results suggest that IL-10 plays an important role in the Th2 response to antigen and in the development of skin eosinophilia in a murine model of allergic dermatitis.
Inhibition of receptor-localized PI3K preserves cardiac β-adrenergic receptor function and ameliorates pressure overload heart failure
Jeffrey J. Nienaber, Hideo Tachibana, Sathyamangla V. Naga Prasad, Giovanni Esposito, Dianqing Wu, Lan Mao, Howard A. RockmanAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1067)
β-Adrenergic receptor (βAR) downregulation and desensitization are hallmarks of the failing heart. However, whether abnormalities in βAR function are mechanistically linked to the cause of heart failure is not known. We hypothesized that downregulation of cardiac βARs can be prevented through inhibition of PI3K activity within the receptor complex, because PI3K is necessary for βAR internalization. Here we show that in genetically modified mice, disrupting the recruitment of PI3K to agonist-activated βARs in vivo prevents receptor downregulation in response to chronic catecholamine administration and ameliorates the development of heart failure with pressure overload. Disruption of PI3K/βAR colocalization is required to preserve βAR signaling, since deletion of a single PI3K isoform (PI3Kγ knockout) is insufficient to prevent the recruitment of other PI3K isoforms and subsequent βAR downregulation with catecholamine stress. These data demonstrate a specific role for receptor-localized PI3K in the regulation of βAR turnover and show that abnormalities in βAR function are associated with the development of heart failure. Thus, a strategy that blocks the membrane translocation of PI3K and leads to the inhibition of βAR-localized PI3K activity represents a novel therapeutic approach to restore normal βAR signaling and preserve cardiac function in the pressure overloaded failing heart.
Identification of App1 as a regulator of phagocytosis and virulence of Cryptococcus neoformans
Chiara Luberto, Beatriz Martinez-Mariño, Daniel Taraskiewicz, Benjamin Bolaños, Pasquale Chitano, Dena L. Toffaletti, Gary M. Cox, John R. Perfect, Yusuf A. Hannun, Edward Balish, Maurizio Del PoetaAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1080)
Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen that, after inhalation, can disseminate to the brain. Host alveolar macrophages (AMs) represent the first defense against the fungus. Once phagocytosed by AMs, fungal cells are killed by a concerted mechanism, involving the host-cellular response. If the cellular response is impaired, phagocytosis of the fungus may be detrimental for the host, since C. neoformans can grow within macrophages. Here, we identified a novel cryptococcal gene encoding antiphagocytic protein 1 (App1). App1 is a cryptococcal cytoplasmic protein that is secreted extracellularly and found in the serum of infected patients. App1 does not affect melanin production, capsule formation, or growth of C. neoformans. Treatment with recombinant App1 inhibited phagocytosis of fungal cells through a complement-mediated mechanism, and Δapp1 mutant is readily phagocytosed by AMs. Interestingly, the Δapp1 mutant strain showed a decreased virulence in mice deficient for complement C5 (A/Jcr), but it was hypervirulent in mice deficient for T and NK cells (Tgε26). This study identifies App1 as a novel regulator of virulence for C. neoformans, and it highlights that internalization of fungal cells by AMs increases the dissemination of C. neoformans when the host cellular response is impaired.
IL-7 enhances peripheral T cell reconstitution after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Önder Alpdogan, Stephanie J. Muriglan, Jeffrey M. Eng, Lucy M. Willis, Andrew S. Greenberg, Barry J. Kappel, Marcel R.M. van den BrinkAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1095)
We used clinically relevant murine allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) models to study the mechanisms by which IL-7 administration can improve posttransplant peripheral T cell reconstitution. After transplant we could distinguish two populations of mature donor T cells: (a) alloreactive T cells with decreased expression of CD127 (IL-7 receptor α chain) and (b) nonalloreactive T cells, which express CD127 and undergo homeostatic proliferation. IL-7 administration increased the homeostatic proliferation of nonalloreactive T cells, but had no effect on alloreactive T cells and the development of graft-versus-host disease. Allogeneic transplant of purified hematopoietic stem cells and adoptive transfer of thymocytes into lethally irradiated hosts suggested that recent thymic emigrants can undergo homeostatic proliferation and acquire a memory-like phenotype. We found by BrdU pulse-chase, cell cycle, and annexin V analyses that IL-7 administration has significant proliferative and antiapoptotic effects on posttransplant peripheral T cells. We conclude that homeostatic expansion is important for T cell reconstitution after allogeneic BMT and involves both transferred mature T cells and recent thymic emigrants. Apart from its thymopoietic effects, IL-7 promotes peripheral T cell reconstitution through its selective proliferative and antiapoptotic effects on nonalloreactive and de novo–generated T cells, but has no effect on alloreactive T cells.
A hypermorphic IκBα mutation is associated with autosomal dominant anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia and T cell immunodeficiency
Gilles Courtois, Asma Smahi, Janine Reichenbach, Rainer Döffinger, Caterina Cancrini, Marion Bonnet, Anne Puel, Christine Chable-Bessia, Shoji Yamaoka, Jacqueline Feinberg, Sophie Dupuis-Girod, Christine Bodemer, Susanna Livadiotti, Francesco Novelli, Paolo Rossi, Alain Fischer, Alain Israël, Arnold Munnich, Françoise Le Deist, Jean-Laurent CasanovaAbstract | Full text | PDF | Supplemental material (Page 1108)
X-linked anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia with immunodeficiency (XL-EDA-ID) is caused by hypomorphic mutations in the gene encoding NEMO/IKKγ, the regulatory subunit of the IκB kinase (IKK) complex. IKK normally phosphorylates the IκB-inhibitors of NF-κB at specific serine residues, thereby promoting their ubiquitination and degradation by the proteasome. This allows NF-κB complexes to translocate into the nucleus where they activate their target genes. Here, we describe an autosomal-dominant (AD) form of EDA-ID associated with a heterozygous missense mutation at serine 32 of IκBα. This mutation is gain-of-function, as it enhances the inhibitory capacity of IκBα by preventing its phosphorylation and degradation, and results in impaired NF-κB activation. The developmental, immunologic, and infectious phenotypes associated with hypomorphic NEMO and hypermorphic IKBA mutations largely overlap and include EDA, impaired cellular responses to ligands of TIR (TLR-ligands, IL-1β, and IL-18), and TNFR (TNF-α, LTα1/β2, and CD154) superfamily members and severe bacterial diseases. However, AD-EDA-ID but not XL-EDA-ID is associated with a severe and unique T cell immunodeficiency. Despite a marked blood lymphocytosis, there are no detectable memory T cells in vivo, and naive T cells do not respond to CD3-TCR activation in vitro. Our report highlights both the diversity of genotypes associated with EDA-ID and the diversity of immunologic phenotypes associated with mutations in different components of the NF-κB signaling pathway.
TGF-β switches from tumor suppressor to prometastatic factor in a model of breast cancer progression
Binwu Tang, Mary Vu, Timberly Booker, Steven J. Santner, Fred R. Miller, Miriam R. Anver, Lalage M. WakefieldAbstract | Full text | PDF (Page 1116)
The TGF-β signaling network plays a complex role in carcinogenesis because it has the potential to act as either a tumor suppressor or a pro-oncogenic pathway. Currently, it is not known whether TGF-β can switch from tumor suppressor to pro-oncogenic factor during the course of carcinogenic progression in a single cell lineage with a defined initiating oncogenic event or whether the specific nature of the response is determined by cell type and molecular etiology. To address this question, we have introduced a dominant negative type II TGF-β receptor into a series of genetically related human breast–derived cell lines representing different stages in the progression process. We show that decreased TGF-β responsiveness alone cannot initiate tumorigenesis but that it can cooperate with an initiating oncogenic lesion to make a premalignant breast cell tumorigenic and a low-grade tumorigenic cell line histologically and proliferatively more aggressive. In a high-grade tumorigenic cell line, however, reduced TGF-β responsiveness has no effect on primary tumorigenesis but significantly decreases metastasis. Our results demonstrate a causal role for loss of TGF-β responsiveness in promoting breast cancer progression up to the stage of advanced, histologically aggressive, but nonmetastatic disease and suggest that at that point TGF-β switches from tumor suppressor to prometastatic factor.