In recent years, great strides in understanding and regulating the immune system have led to new hope for harnessing its exquisite specificity to destroy cancer cells without affecting normal tissues. This review examines the fundamental immunologic advances and the novel vaccine strategies arising from these advances, as well as the early clinical trials studying new approaches to treat or prevent cancer.
Numerous signaling pathways have been shown to mediate cardioprotection, but the end effectors that mediate protection are only beginning to be elucidated. Numerous cardioprotective drugs are shown to converge on glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) . The phosphorylation and inhibition of GSK-3β lead to inhibition or delayed activation of the mitochondrial permeability transition, a key regulator of apoptosis.
The collecting ducts of the kidney are composed of intercalated cells (responsible for acid/base transport), principal cells (mediating salt and water absorption), and inner medullary cells, which mediate all three types of transport. Forkhead box (Fox) genes are a large family of transcription factors that are important in cell-type specification during organogenesis. In this issue, Blomqvist et al. find that mice lacking Foxi1 have no intercalated cells in the kidney . The collecting ducts of the null mice contained primitive cells that expressed both intercalated cell and principal cell proteins, yet the acid/base transport function of the kidney was disrupted and the mice exhibited distal renal tubular acidosis. These findings suggest that Foxi1 plays a critical role in determining cell identity during collecting duct development.
Increased plasma fatty acid concentrations may be responsible for many of the metabolic abnormalities associated with abdominal obesity. Excessive visceral fat is associated with insulin resistance and other metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease. A study reported in this issue of the JCI evaluates the relative contribution of fatty acids released during lipolysis of visceral adipose tissue triglycerides to portal and systemic fatty acid flux in human subjects.
Implantation of expandable stents into stenotic arteries after percutaneous coronary intervention to relieve arterial narrowing has become a standard therapeutic tool. The improvement in vascular interventional technology, and especially stent technology, has, arguably, outstripped understanding of the biologic consequences of opening an obstructed artery. In the case of bifurcation stenoses, new evidence suggests that opening a stenotic subsidiary branch may create unfavorable hemodynamics in the stented main branch that can lead to in-stent restenosis.
Environmental stresses converge on the mitochondria that can trigger or inhibit cell death. Excitable, postmitotic cells, in response to sublethal noxious stress, engage mechanisms that afford protection from subsequent insults. We show that reoxygenation after prolonged hypoxia reduces the reactive oxygen species (ROS) threshold for the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) in cardiomyocytes and that cell survival is steeply negatively correlated with the fraction of depolarized mitochondria. Cell protection that exhibits a memory (preconditioning) results from triggered mitochondrial swelling that causes enhanced substrate oxidation and ROS production, leading to redox activation of PKC, which inhibits glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). Alternatively, receptor tyrosine kinase or certain G protein–coupled receptor activation elicits cell protection (without mitochondrial swelling or durable memory) by inhibiting GSK-3β, via protein kinase B/Akt and mTOR/p70s6k pathways, PKC pathways, or protein kinase A pathways. The convergence of these pathways via inhibition of GSK-3β on the end effector, the permeability transition pore complex, to limit MPT induction is the general mechanism of cardiomyocyte protection.
Lichen sclerosus is a common, acquired chronic inflammatory skin disease of unknown etiology, although circulating autoantibodies to the glycoprotein extracellular matrix protein 1 (ECM1) have been detected in most patients’ sera. We have examined the nature of ECM1 epitopes in lichen sclerosus sera, developed an ELISA system for serologic diagnosis, and assessed clinicopathological correlation between ELISA titer and disease. Epitope-mapping studies revealed that lichen sclerosus sera most frequently recognized the distal second tandem repeat domain and carboxyl-terminus of ECM1. We analyzed serum autoantibody reactivity against this immunodominant epitope in 413 individuals (95 subjects with lichen sclerosus, 161 normal control subjects, and 157 subjects with other autoimmune basement membrane or sclerosing diseases). The ELISA assay was highly sensitive; 76 of 95 lichen sclerosus patients (80.0%) exhibited IgG reactivity. It was also highly specific (93.7%) in discriminating between lichen sclerosus and other disease/control sera. Higher anti-ECM1 titers also correlated with more longstanding and refractory disease and cases complicated by squamous cell carcinoma. Furthermore, passive transfer of affinity-purified patient IgG reproduced some histologic and immunopathologic features of lichen sclerosus skin. This new ELISA is valuable for the accurate detection and quantification of anti-ECM1 autoantibodies. Moreover, the values may have clinical significance in patients with lichen sclerosus.
While macro- and microscopic kidney development appear to proceed normally in mice that lack Foxi1, electron microscopy reveals an altered ultrastructure of cells lining the distal nephron. Northern blot analyses, cRNA in situ hybridizations, and immunohistochemistry demonstrate a complete loss of expression of several anion transporters, proton pumps, and anion exchange proteins expressed by intercalated cells of the collecting ducts, many of which have been implicated in hereditary forms of distal renal tubular acidosis (dRTA). In Foxi1-null mutants the normal epithelium with its two major cell types — principal and intercalated cells — has been replaced by a single cell type positive for both principal and intercalated cell markers. To test the functional consequences of these alterations, Foxi1–/– mice were compared with WT littermates in their response to an acidic load. This revealed an inability to acidify the urine as well as a lowered systemic buffer capacity and overt acidosis in null mutants. Thus, Foxi1–/– mice seem to develop dRTA due to altered cellular composition of the distal nephron epithelium, thereby denying this epithelium the proper gene expression pattern needed for maintaining adequate acid-base homeostasis.
Uncontrolled hepatic glucose production contributes significantly to hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Hyperglucagonemia is implicated in the etiology of this condition; however, effective therapies to block glucagon signaling and thereby regulate glucose metabolism do not exist. To determine the extent to which blocking glucagon action would reverse hyperglycemia, we targeted the glucagon receptor (GCGR) in rodent models of type 2 diabetes using 2′-methoxyethyl–modified phosphorothioate-antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) inhibitors. Treatment with GCGR ASOs decreased GCGR expression, normalized blood glucose, improved glucose tolerance, and preserved insulin secretion. Importantly, in addition to decreasing expression of cAMP-regulated genes in liver and preventing glucagon-mediated hepatic glucose production, GCGR inhibition increased serum concentrations of active glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and insulin levels in pancreatic islets. Together, these studies identify a novel mechanism whereby GCGR inhibitors reverse the diabetes phenotype by the dual action of decreasing hepatic glucose production and improving pancreatic β cell function.
Elevated FFA concentrations have been shown to reproduce some of the metabolic abnormalities of obesity. It has been hypothesized that visceral adipose tissue lipolysis releases excess FFAs into the portal vein, exposing the liver to higher FFA concentrations. We used isotope dilution/hepatic vein catheterization techniques to examine whether intra-abdominal fat contributes a greater portion of hepatic FFA delivery in visceral obesity. Obese women (n = 24) and men (n = 20) with a range of obesity phenotypes, taken together with healthy, lean women (n = 12) and men (n = 12), were studied. Systemic, splanchnic, and leg FFA kinetics were measured. The results showed that plasma FFA concentrations were approximately 20% greater in obese men and obese women. The contribution of splanchnic lipolysis to hepatic FFA delivery ranged from less than 10% to almost 50% and increased as a function of visceral fat in women (r = 0.49, P = 0.002) and in men (r = 0.52, P = 0.002); the slope of the relationship was greater in women than in men (P < 0.05). Leg and splanchnic tissues contributed a greater portion of systemic FFA release in obese men and women than in lean men and women. We conclude that the contribution of visceral adipose tissue lipolysis to hepatic FFA delivery increases with increasing visceral fat in humans and that this effect is greater in women than in men.
Thyrotropin receptor (TSHR) Ab’s of the stimulating variety are the cause of hyperthyroid Graves disease. MS-1 is a hamster mAb with TSHR-stimulating activity. To examine the in vivo biological activity of MS-1, mice were treated with purified MS-1 intraperitoneally and the thyroid response evaluated. MS-1 induced a dose-dependent increase in serum thyroxine (T4), with a maximum effect after 10 ∝g of MS-1 was administered. MS-1–secreting hybridoma cells were then transferred into the peritoneum of nude mice to study chronic thyroid stimulation. Serum MS-1 levels detected after 2 weeks were approximately 10–50 ∝g/ml, and the serum TSH was suppressed in all animals. Serum triiodothyronine levels were elevated, but only in animals with low serum MS-1 concentrations. In addition, there was a negative correlation between serum T4 and the serum MS-1 concentrations. These in vivo studies suggested a partial TSHR inactivation induced by excessive stimulation by MS-1. We confirmed this inactivation by demonstrating MS-1 modulation of TSHR function in vitro as evidenced by downregulation and desensitization of the TSHR at concentrations of MS-1 achieved in the in vivo studies. Thus, inactivation of the TSHR by stimulating TSHR autoantibodies (TSHR-Ab’s) in Graves disease patients may provide a functional explanation for the poor correlation between thyroid function and serum TSHR-Ab concentrations.
The leukocyte integrin αMβ2/Mac-1 appears to support the inflammatory response through multiple ligands, but local engagement of fibrin(ogen) may be particularly important for leukocyte function. To define the biological significance of fibrin(ogen)-αMβ2 interaction in vivo, gene-targeted mice were generated in which the αMβ2-binding motif within the fibrinogen γ chain (N390RLSIGE396) was converted to a series of alanine residues. Mice carrying the Fibγ390–396A allele maintained normal levels of fibrinogen, retained normal clotting function, supported platelet aggregation, and never developed spontaneous hemorrhagic events. However, the mutant fibrinogen failed to support αMβ2-mediated adhesion of primary neutrophils, macrophages, and αMβ2-expressing cell lines. The elimination of the αMβ2-binding motif on fibrin(ogen) severely compromised the inflammatory response in vivo as evidenced by a dramatic impediment in leukocyte clearance of Staphylococcus aureus inoculated into the peritoneal cavity. This defect in bacterial clearance was due not to diminished leukocyte trafficking but rather to a failure to fully implement antimicrobial functions. These studies definitively demonstrate that fibrin(ogen) is a physiologically relevant ligand for αMβ2, integrin engagement of fibrin(ogen) is critical to leukocyte function and innate immunity in vivo, and the biological importance of fibrinogen in regulating the inflammatory response can be appreciated outside of any alteration in clotting function.
Although arterial bifurcations are frequent sites for obstructive atherosclerotic lesions, the optimal approach to these lesions remains unresolved. Benchtop models of arterial bifurcations were analyzed for flow disturbances known to correlate with vascular disease. These models possess an adaptable geometry capable of simulating the course of arterial disease and the effects of arterial interventions. Chronic in vivo studies evaluated the effect of flow disturbances on the pattern of neointimal hyperplasia. Acute in vivo studies helped propose a mechanism that bridges the early mechanical stimulus and the late tissue effect. Side-branch (SB) dilation adversely affected flow patterns in the main branch (MB) and, as a result, the long-term MB patency of stents implanted in pig arteries. Critical to this effect is chronic MB remodeling that seems to compensate for an occluded SB. Acute leukocyte recruitment was directly influenced by the changes in flow patterns, suggesting a link between flow disturbance on the one hand and leukocyte recruitment and intimal hyperplasia on the other. It is often impossible to simultaneously maximize the total cross-sectional area of both branches and to minimize flow disturbance in the MB. The apparent trade-off between these two clinically desirable goals may explain many of the common failure modes of bifurcation stenting.
Activation of PKCβII is associated with the response to ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), though its role, either pathogenic or protective, has not been determined. In a murine model of single-lung I/R, evidence linking PKCβ to maladaptive responses is shown in the following studies. Homozygous PKCβ-null mice and WT mice fed the PKCβ inhibitor ruboxistaurin subjected to I/R displayed increased survival compared with controls. In PKCβ-null mice, phosphorylation of extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase-1 and -2 (ERK1/2), JNK, and p38 MAPK was suppressed in I/R. Expression of the immediate early gene, early growth response-1 (Egr-1), and its downstream target genes was significantly increased in WT mice in I/R, particularly in mononuclear phagocytes (MPs), whereas this expression was attenuated in PKCβ-null mice or WT mice fed ruboxistaurin. In vitro, hypoxia/reoxygenation-mediated induction of Egr-1 in MPs was suppressed by inhibition of PKCβ, ERK1/2, and JNK, but not by inhibition of p38 MAPK. These findings elucidate key roles for PKCβII activation in I/R by coordinated activation of MAPKs (ERK1/2, JNK) and Egr-1.
Administration of an agonistic anti-CD28 mAb paradoxically inhibits donor T cell expansion and prevents graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in mice. Here we examined the mechanism of anti-CD28–mediated immunosuppression and found that anti-CD28 mAb activated, rather than blocked, CD28-mediated signaling in vivo. Anti-CD28 treatment prevented GVHD by selectively depleting alloantigen-activated donor T cells through apoptosis but spared the T cells that did not recognize recipient alloantigens. Overexpression of Bcl-xL did not protect T cells from depletion and did not affect GVHD prevention after anti-CD28 treatment. Depletion of activated T cells mediated through CD28 did not depend on the expression of death receptors Fas and TNF receptors type I and II, but both the depletion of activated T cells and the suppressive effect of anti-CD28 mAb on GVHD lethality required donor-derived IFN-γ production. This study demonstrates that agonistic Ab’s specific for the CD28 costimulatory molecule may be used as novel therapeutic agents to abrogate pathogenic T cell responses by selective depletion of activated T cells.
OCH, a sphingosine-truncated analog of α-galactosylceramide (αGC), is a potential therapeutic reagent for a variety of Th1-mediated autoimmune diseases through its selective induction of Th2 cytokines from natural killer T (NKT) cells. We demonstrate here that the NKT cell production of IFN-γ is more susceptible to the sphingosine length of glycolipid ligand than that of IL-4 and that the length of the sphingosine chain determines the duration of NKT cell stimulation by CD1d-associated glycolipids. Furthermore, IFN-γ production by NKT cells requires longer T cell receptor stimulation than is required for IL-4 production by NKT cells stimulated either with immobilized mAb to CD3 or with immobilized “αGC-loaded” CD1d molecules. Interestingly, transcription of IFN-γ but not that of IL-4 was sensitive to cycloheximide treatment, indicating the intrinsic involvement of de novo protein synthesis for IFN-γ production by NKT cells. Finally, we determined c-Rel was preferentially transcribed in αGC-stimulated but not in OCH-stimulated NKT cells and was essential for IFN-γ production by activated NKT cells. Given the dominant immune regulation by the remarkable cytokine production of ligand-stimulated NKT cells in vivo, in comparison with that of (antigen-specific) T cells or NK cells, the current study confirms OCH as a likely therapeutic reagent for use against Th1-mediated autoimmune diseases and provides a novel clue for the design of drugs targeting NKT cells.
While the initiation of the adaptive and innate immune response is well understood, less is known about cellular mechanisms propagating inflammation. The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), a transmembrane receptor of the immunoglobulin superfamily, leads to perpetuated cell activation. Using novel animal models with defective or tissue-specific RAGE expression, we show that in these animal models RAGE does not play a role in the adaptive immune response. However, deletion of RAGE provides protection from the lethal effects of septic shock caused by cecal ligation and puncture. Such protection is reversed by reconstitution of RAGE in endothelial and hematopoietic cells. These results indicate that the innate immune response is controlled by pattern-recognition receptors not only at the initiating steps but also at the phase of perpetuation.
The IL-12Rβ2 gene is expressed in human mature B cell subsets but not in transformed B cell lines. Silencing of this gene may be advantageous to neoplastic B cells. Our objective was to investigate the mechanism(s) and the functional consequence(s) of IL-12Rβ2 gene silencing in primary B cell tumors and transformed B cell lines. Purified tumor cells from 41 patients with different chronic B cell lymphoproliferative disorders, representing the counterparts of the major mature human B cell subsets, tested negative for IL-12Rβ2 gene expression. Hypermethylation of a CpG island in the noncoding exon 1 was associated with silencing of this gene in malignant B cells. Treatment with the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine restored IL-12Rβ2 mRNA expression in primary neoplastic B cells that underwent apoptosis following exposure to human recombinant IL-12 (hrIL-12). hrIL-12 inhibited proliferation and increased the apoptotic rate of IL-12Rβ2–transfected B cell lines in vitro. Finally, hrIL-12 strongly reduced the tumorigenicity of IL-12Rβ2–transfected Burkitt lymphoma RAJI cells in SCID-NOD mice through antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects, coupled with neoangiogenesis inhibition related to human IFN-γ–independent induction of hMig/CXCL9. The IL-12Rβ2 gene acts as tumor suppressor in chronic B cell malignancies, and IL-12 exerts direct antitumor effects on IL-12Rβ2–expressing neoplastic B cells.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation