45 total articles
In the “Policy on enhancing public access to archived publications resulting from NIH-funded research,” the NIH requests that all publications resulting from primary research supported by NIH grants be deposited in PubMed Central (PMC), the online repository of the National Library of Medicine. The NIH requests that all manuscripts accepted for publication after May 2, 2005 be deposited in PMC, and that those manuscripts be made freely available to the public within 12 months of publication. The JCI supports this policy: we will continue to make all content freely available in PMC immediately upon publication, and the entire JCI archive is freely available through PMC.
Ushma S. Neill, Karen Kosht
Qing Wang, Shaoqi Rao, Eric J. Topol
The remarkable achievements in human genetics over the years have been due to technological advances in gene mapping and in statistical methods that relate genetic variants to disease. Nearly every Mendelian genetic disorder has now been mapped to a specific gene or set of genes, but these discoveries have been limited to high-risk, variant alleles that segregate in rare families. With a working draft of the human genome now in hand, the availability of high-throughput genotyping, a plethora of genetic markers, and the development of new analytical methods, scientists are now turning their attention to common complex disorders such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and Alzheimer disease. In this issue, the JCI provides readers with a series dedicated to complex genetic disorders, offering a view of genetic medicine in the 21st century.
The mapping of disease genes to specific loci has received a great deal of attention in the last decade, and many advances in therapeutics have resulted. Here we review family-based and population-based methods for association analysis. We define the factors that determine statistical power and show how study design and analysis should be designed to maximize the probability of localizing disease genes.
Derek Gordon, Stephen J. Finch
Recent advances in statistical methods and genomic technologies have ushered in a new era in mapping clinically important quantitative traits. However, many refinements and novel statistical approaches are required to enable greater successes in this mapping. The possible impact of recent findings pertaining to the structure of the human genome on efforts to map quantitative traits is yet unclear.
Partha P. Majumder, Saurabh Ghosh
The causal chain between a gene and its effect on disease susceptibility cannot be understood until the effect has been localized in the DNA sequence. Recently, polymorphisms incorporated in the HapMap Project have made linkage disequilibrium (LD) the most powerful tool for localization. The genetics of LD, the maps and databases that it provides, and their use for association mapping, as well as alternative methods for gene localization, are briefly described.
Newton E. Morton
Conventional genetic analysis focuses on the genes that account for specific phenotypes, while traditional epidemiology is more concerned with the environmental causes and risk factors related to traits. Genetic epidemiology is an alliance of the 2 fields that focuses on both genetics, including allelic variants in different populations, and environment, in order to explain exactly how genes convey effects in different environmental contexts and to arrive at a more complete comprehension of the etiology of complex traits. In this review, we discuss the epidemiology of diabetes and the current understanding of the genetic bases of obesity and diabetes and provide suggestions for accelerated accumulation of clinically useful genetic information.
M. Alan Permutt, Jonathon Wasson, Nancy Cox
Genetic epidemiological studies suggest that individual variation in susceptibility to schizophrenia is largely genetic, reflecting alleles of moderate to small effect in multiple genes. Molecular genetic studies have identified a number of potential regions of linkage and 2 associated chromosomal abnormalities, and accumulating evidence favors several positional candidate genes. These findings are grounds for optimism that insight into genetic factors associated with schizophrenia will help further our understanding of this disease and contribute to the development of new ways to treat it.
George Kirov, Michael C. O’Donovan, Michael J. Owen
Gene defects play a major role in the pathogenesis of degenerative disorders of the nervous system. In fact, it has been the very knowledge gained from genetic studies that has allowed the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the etiology and pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative disorders. In this review, we discuss the current status of genetic epidemiology of the most common neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington disease, and prion diseases, with a particular focus on similarities and differences among these syndromes.
Lars Bertram, Rudolph E. Tanzi
Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) acts acutely to reduce plasma volume by at least 3 mechanisms: increased renal excretion of salt and water, vasodilation, and increased vascular permeability. Authors of a study in this issue of the JCI performed a knockout of the receptor for ANP in vascular endothelia in order to distinguish the effects of ANP-dependent increases in vascular permeability from those of other endocrine actions of ANP in the regulation of plasma volume. The knockout mice exhibited reduced vascular permeability to plasma protein, resulting in chronically increased plasma volume, arterial hypertension, and cardiac hypertrophy. Renal excretion and vasodilation did not account for these changes. Thus ANP-induced increases in endothelial permeability may be critical to the ability of ANP to lower arterial blood pressure.
Fitz-Roy E. Curry
Hyperplasia of pulmonary artery SMCs (PASMCs) is a pathological hallmark of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). In this issue of the JCI, McMurtry et al. report that adenovirus-mediated overexpression of survivin — a multipotent inhibitor of apoptosis — induces PAH in rats, whereas inhalation of an adenovirus vector encoding a mutant survivin gene with dominant-negative properties reverses established monocrotaline-induced PAH. These findings raise important issues regarding the role of survivin in the pathogenesis of PAH, its value as a prognostic indicator, and its use as a target for new therapeutic strategies.
Transcriptional profiling of patient tumors is a much-heralded advancement in cancer therapy, as it provides the opportunity to identify patients who would benefit from more or less aggressive therapy and thus allows the development of individualized treatment. However, translation of this promise into patient benefit has proven challenging. In this issue of the JCI, Glinsky and colleagues used human and murine models to identify a potential stem cell mRNA signature, based on the hypothesis that tumors with stem cell–like characteristics are likely to have a poor prognosis. Remarkably, an 11-gene “expression signature” associated with “stem cell–ness” separated patients with different cancers into good- and poor-prognosis groups. Such a “magic marker” would, if validated, have a major impact on patient care. However, there remain challenges incumbent with creating and validating such signatures.
John P. Lahad, Gordon B. Mills, Kevin R. Coombes
Adoptive transfer of autologous or allogenic T cells to patients is being used with increased frequency as a therapy for infectious diseases and cancer. However, many questions remain with regard to defining optimized procedures for preparation and selection of T cell populations for transfer. In a new study in this issue of the JCI, Gattinoni and colleagues used a TCR transgenic mouse model to examine in vitro–generated tumor antigen–specific CD8+ T cells at various stages of differentiation for their efficacy in adoptive immunotherapy against transplantable melanoma. The results confirm that CD8+ T cells progressively lose immunocompetence with prolonged in vitro cultivation and suggest that effector CD8+ T cells alone may be considerably less potent at protecting hosts with advanced tumors than are less differentiated T cells.
Daniel E. Speiser, Pedro Romero
A vast excess of α-globin production and inadequate γ-globin compensation lead to the development of severe anemia in human β-thalassemia. Newly identified modifiers of α- and γ-globin synthesis and insights into the mechanisms of globin regulation provide the tools for potential new approaches to treating this and other red blood cell disorders. In the study by Han and colleagues in this issue of the JCI, the activity of a heme-regulated protein, HRI, is shown to modulate the accumulation of excess α-globin chains in murine β-thalassemia and to decrease the severity of the disease.
Lipoxins are potent antiinflammatory lipid mediators that restrain and promote the resolution of a wide variety of inflammatory processes. Recent studies implicating deficient lipoxin production in the pathogenesis of diverse inflammatory diseases, along with numerous reports of the beneficial effects of lipoxin analog administration in animal models of inflammatory pathology, have suggested that harnessing the pleiotropic activities of the lipoxins is a strategy with considerable therapeutic promise. In this issue of the JCI, Bafica et al. address the other side of the coin, reporting that endogenous lipoxins compromise immune-mediated control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in mice. In addition to providing novel insight into the mechanisms that interfere with the development of protective immune responses to M. tuberculosis, the study raises the possibility that pharmacological inhibition of lipoxin synthesis may provide a method of augmenting inefficient immune responses in TB and other important chronic infectious diseases.
Christopher L. Karp, Andrea M. Cooper
Anorexia is one of several abnormalities characterizing chronic kidney disease (CKD) that cause cachexia, the loss of muscle and adipose stores. It has been attributed to mechanisms ranging from accumulation of toxic “middle molecules” to psychological problems. In this issue of the JCI, Cheung and coworkers used elegant techniques to demonstrate that CKD-associated anorexia is caused by defective hypothalamic regulation of appetite. They attributed the defect to an alteration in the hypothalamus’s response to leptin and inflammation. Since similar hypothalamic defects suppress appetite in inflammatory states and in cancer, it is possible that anorexia in several cachexia-inducing conditions results from a common set of hypothalamic abnormalities. The development of small molecules capable of preventing these regulatory abnormalities holds the promise of eliminating the contribution of anorexia to the development of cachexia.
William E. Mitch
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by genetic and acquired abnormalities that suppress apoptosis and enhance cell proliferation in the vascular wall, including downregulation of the bone morphogenetic protein axis and voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channels. Survivin is an “inhibitor of apoptosis” protein, previously thought to be expressed primarily in cancer cells. We found that survivin was expressed in the pulmonary arteries (PAs) of 6 patients with PAH and rats with monocrotaline-induced PAH, but not in the PAs of 3 patients and rats without PAH. Gene therapy with inhalation of an adenovirus carrying a phosphorylation-deficient survivin mutant with dominant-negative properties reversed established monocrotaline-induced PAH and prolonged survival by 25%. The survivin mutant lowered pulmonary vascular resistance, RV hypertrophy, and PA medial hypertrophy. Both in vitro and in vivo, inhibition of survivin induced PA smooth muscle cell apoptosis, decreased proliferation, depolarized mitochondria, caused efflux of cytochrome c in the cytoplasm and translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor into the nucleus, and increased Kv channel current; the opposite effects were observed with gene transfer of WT survivin, both in vivo and in vitro. Inhibition of the inappropriate expression of survivin that accompanies human and experimental PAH is a novel therapeutic strategy that acts by inducing vascular mitochondria-dependent apoptosis.
M. Sean McMurtry ... Lakshmi Puttagunta, Evangelos D. Michelakis
Overcoming resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy has been a difficult but important goal in the effort to cure cancer. We used gene-expression microarrays to identify differentially expressed genes involved in colorectal cancer resistance to chemotherapy and identified secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine (osteonectin) (SPARC) as a putative resistance-reversal gene by demonstrating low SPARC expression in refractory human MIP101 colon cancer cells. We were able to achieve restoration of their radiosensitivity and sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil and irinotecan by reexpression of SPARC in tumor xenografts. Moreover, treatment of mice with SPARC conferred increased sensitivity to chemotherapy and led to significant regression of xenografted tumors. The results show that modulation of SPARC expression affects colorectal cancer sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapy. SPARC-based gene or protein therapy may ameliorate the emergence of resistant clones and eradicate existing refractory clones and offers a novel approach to treating cancer.
Isabella T. Tai, Meiru Dai, David A. Owen, Lan Bo Chen
Activation in transformed cells of normal stem cells’ self-renewal pathways might contribute to the survival life cycle of cancer stem cells and promote tumor progression. The BMI-1 oncogene–driven gene expression pathway is essential for the self-renewal of hematopoietic and neural stem cells. We applied a mouse/human comparative translational genomics approach to identify an 11-gene signature that consistently displays a stem cell–resembling expression profile in distant metastatic lesions as revealed by the analysis of metastases and primary tumors from a transgenic mouse model of prostate cancer and cancer patients. To further validate these results, we examined the prognostic power of the 11-gene signature in several independent therapy-outcome sets of clinical samples obtained from 1,153 cancer patients diagnosed with 11 different types of cancer, including 5 epithelial malignancies (prostate, breast, lung, ovarian, and bladder cancers) and 5 nonepithelial malignancies (lymphoma, mesothelioma, medulloblastoma, glioma, and acute myeloid leukemia). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that a stem cell–like expression profile of the 11-gene signature in primary tumors is a consistent powerful predictor of a short interval to disease recurrence, distant metastasis, and death after therapy in cancer patients diagnosed with 11 distinct types of cancer. These data suggest the presence of a conserved BMI-1–driven pathway, which is similarly engaged in both normal stem cells and a highly malignant subset of human cancers diagnosed in a wide range of organs and uniformly exhibiting a marked propensity toward metastatic dissemination as well as a high probability of unfavorable therapy outcome.
Gennadi V. Glinsky, Olga Berezovska, Anna B. Glinskii
Mutations in developmental regulatory genes have been found to be responsible for some cases of congenital heart defects. One such regulatory gene is Gata4, a zinc finger transcription factor. In order to circumvent the early embryonic lethality of Gata4-null embryos and to investigate the role of myocardial Gata4 expression in cardiac development, we used Cre/loxP technology to conditionally delete Gata4 in the myocardium of mice at an early and a late time point in cardiac morphogenesis. Early deletion of Gata4 by Nkx2-5Cre resulted in hearts with striking myocardial thinning, absence of mesenchymal cells within the endocardial cushions, and selective hypoplasia of the RV. RV hypoplasia was associated with downregulation of Hand2, a transcription factor previously shown to regulate formation of the RV. Cardiomyocyte proliferation was reduced, with a greater degree of reduction in the RV than in the LV. Late deletion of Gata4 by Cre recombinase driven by the α myosin heavy chain promoter did not selectively affect RV development or generation of endocardial cushion mesenchyme but did result in marked myocardial thinning with decreased cardiomyocyte proliferation, as well as double-outlet RV. Our results demonstrate a general role of myocardial Gata4 in regulating cardiomyocyte proliferation and a specific, stage-dependent role in regulating the morphogenesis of the RV and the atrioventricular canal.
Elisabeth M. Zeisberg ... Seigo Izumo, William T. Pu
Missense mutations in ferroportin1 (fpn1), an intestinal and macrophage iron exporter, have been identified between transmembrane helices 3 and 4 in the zebrafish anemia mutant weissherbst (wehTp85c–/–) and in patients with type 4 hemochromatosis. To explore the effects of fpn1 mutation on blood development and iron homeostasis in the adult zebrafish, wehTp85c–/– zebrafish were rescued by injection with iron dextran and studied in comparison with injected and uninjected WT zebrafish and heterozygotes. Although iron deposition was observed in all iron-injected fish, only wehTp85c–/– zebrafish exhibited iron accumulation in the intestinal epithelium compatible with a block in iron export. Iron injections initially reversed the anemia. However, 8 months after iron injections were discontinued, wehTp85c–/– zebrafish developed hypochromic anemia and impaired erythroid maturation despite the persistence of iron-loaded macrophages and elevated hepatic nonheme iron stores. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR revealed a significant decrease in mean hepatic transcript levels of the secreted iron-regulator hepcidin and increased intestinal expression of fpn1 in anemic wehTp85c–/– adults. Injection of iron dextran into WT or mutant zebrafish embryos, however, resulted in significant increases in hepcidin expression 18 hours after injection, demonstrating that hepcidin expression in zebrafish is iron responsive and independent of fpn1’s function as an iron exporter.
Paula G. Fraenkel, David Traver, Adriana Donovan, David Zahrieh, Leonard I. Zon
Neovascularization depends on vascular cell proliferation and on the stabilization of vessels by association of vascular smooth muscle–like pericytes with ECs. Here we show that integrin α4β1 (VLA-4) and VCAM-1 promote close intercellular adhesion between ECs and pericytes and that this interaction is required for blood vessel formation. Integrin α4β1 is expressed by proliferating but not quiescent ECs, while its ligand VCAM-1 is expressed by proliferating but not quiescent mural cells. Antagonists of this integrin-ligand pair block the adhesion of mural cells to proliferating endothelia in vitro and in vivo, thereby inducing apoptosis of ECs and pericytes and inhibiting neovascularization. These studies indicate that integrin α4β1 and VCAM-1 facilitate a critical cell-cell adhesion event required for survival of endothelial and mural cells during vascularization.
Barbara Garmy-Susini, Hui Jin, Yuhong Zhu, Rou-Jia Sung, Rosa Hwang, Judy Varner
Anticoagulant protein C (PC) is important not only for maintenance of normal hemostasis, but also for regulating the host immune response during inflammation. Because mice with a designed total genetic deficiency in PC (PC–/– mice) die soon after birth, attempts to dissect PC function in various coagulation/inflammation-based pathologies through use of mice with less than 50% of normal PC levels have not been successful to date. In the current investigation, we have used a novel transgenic strategy to generate different mouse models expressing 1–18% of normal PC levels. In contrast to PC–/– mice, mice with only partial PC deficiency survived beyond birth and also developed thrombosis and inflammation. The onset and severity of these phenotypes vary significantly and are strongly dependent on plasma PC levels. Our findings additionally provide the first evidence that maternal PC is vital for sustaining pregnancy beyond 7.5 days postcoitum, likely by regulating the balance of coagulation and inflammation during trophoblast invasion. These low PC–expressing transgenic mouse lines provide novel animal models that can be used to elucidate the importance of PC in maintenance of the organism and in disease.
Angelina J. Lay, Zhong Liang, Elliot D. Rosen, Francis J. Castellino
Heme-regulated eIF2α kinase (HRI) controls protein synthesis by phosphorylating the α-subunit of eukaryotic translational initiation factor 2 (eIF2α). In heme deficiency, HRI is essential for translational regulation of α- and β-globins and for the survival of erythroid progenitors. HRI is also activated by a number of cytoplasmic stresses other than heme deficiency, including oxidative stress and heat shock. However, to date, HRI has not been implicated in the pathogenesis of any known human disease or mouse phenotype. Here we report the essential role of HRI in 2 mouse models of human rbc disorders, namely erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) and β-thalassemia. In both cases, lack of HRI adversely modifies the phenotype: HRI deficiency exacerbates EPP and renders β-thalassemia embryonically lethal. This study establishes the protective function of HRI in inherited rbc diseases in mice and suggests that HRI may be a significant modifier of many rbc disorders in humans. Our findings also demonstrate that translational regulation could play a critical role in the clinical manifestation of rbc diseases.
An-Ping Han, Mark D. Fleming, Jane-Jane Chen
Joint ankylosis is a major cause of disability in the human spondyloarthropathies. Here we report that this process partially recapitulates embryonic endochondral bone formation in a spontaneous model of arthritis in DBA/1 mice. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling appears to be a key molecular pathway involved in this pathological cascade. Systemic gene transfer of noggin, a BMP antagonist, is effective both as a preventive and a therapeutic strategy in the mouse model, mechanistically interfering with enthesial progenitor cell proliferation in early stages of the disease process. Immunohistochemical staining for phosphorylated smad1/5 in enthesial biopsies of patients with spondyloarthropathy reveals active BMP signaling in similar target cells. Our data suggest that BMP signaling is an attractive therapeutic target for interfering with structural changes in spondyloarthropathy either as an alternative or complementary approach to current antiinflammatory treatments.
Rik J.U. Lories, Inge Derese, Frank P. Luyten
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) growth contributes to the mechanism of airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. Here we demonstrate that CD4+ T cells, central to chronic airway inflammation, drive ASM remodeling in experimental asthma. Adoptive transfer of CD4+ T cells from sensitized rats induced an increase in proliferation and inhibition of apoptosis of airway myocytes in naive recipients upon repeated antigen challenge, which resulted in an increase in ASM mass. Genetically modified CD4+ T cells expressing enhanced GFP (EGFP) were localized by confocal microscopy in juxtaposition to ASM cells, which suggests that CD4+ T cells may modulate ASM cell function through direct cell-cell interaction in vivo. Coculture of antigen-stimulated CD4+ T cells with cell cycle–arrested ASM cells induced myocyte proliferation, dependent on T cell activation and direct T cell–myocyte contact. Reciprocally, direct cell contact prevented postactivation T cell apoptosis, which suggests receptor-mediated T cell–myocyte crosstalk. Overall, our data demonstrate that activated CD4+ T cells drive ASM remodeling in experimental asthma and suggest that a direct cell-cell interaction participates in CD4+ T cell regulation of myocyte turnover and induction of remodeling.
David Ramos-Barbón, John F. Presley, Qutayba A. Hamid, Elizabeth D. Fixman, James G. Martin
The role of complement component C5 in asthma remains controversial. Here we examined the contribution of C5 at 3 critical checkpoints during the course of disease. Using an mAb specific for C5, we were able to evaluate the contribution of C5 during (a) the initiation of airway inflammation, (b) the maintenance of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), and (c) sustainment of an ongoing airway response to allergen provocation. Our results indicate that C5 is probably activated intrapulmonarily after infections or exposures to allergen and C5 inhibition has profound effects at all 3 critical checkpoints. In contrast to an earlier report, C5-deficient mice with established airway inflammation did not have elevated AHR to nonspecific stimuli. In the presence of airway inflammation, C5a serves as a direct link between the innate immune system and the development of AHR by engaging directly with its receptors expressed in airways. Through their powerful chemotactic and cell activation properties, both C5a and C5b-9 regulate the downstream inflammatory cascade, which results in a massive migration of inflammatory cells into the bronchial airway lumen and triggers the release of multiple harmful inflammatory mediators. This study suggests that targeting C5 is a potential clinical approach for treating patients with asthma.
Tao Peng ... Stephen Squinto, Yi Wang
Th1 type cytokine responses are critical in the control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Recent findings indicate that 5-lipoxygenase–dependent (5-LO–dependent) lipoxins regulate host IL-12 production in vivo. Here, we establish lipoxins as key chemical mediators in resistance to M. tuberculosis infection. High levels of lipoxin A4 (LXA4) were detected in sera from infected WT but not infected 5-LO–deficient mice. Moreover, lungs from M. tuberculosis–infected 5-lo–/– animals showed increased IL-12, IFN-γ, and NO synthase 2 (NOS2) mRNA levels compared with the same tissues in WT mice. Similarly, splenocyte recall responses were enhanced in mycobacteria-infected 5-lo–/– versus WT mice. Importantly, bacterial burdens in 5-lo–/– lungs were significantly lower than those from WT mice, and this enhancement in the resistance of the 5-lo–/– animals to M. tuberculosis was completely prevented by administration of a stable LXA4 analog. Together our results demonstrate that lipoxins negatively regulate protective Th1 responses against mycobacterial infection in vivo and suggest that the inhibition of lipoxin biosynthesis could serve as a strategy for enhancing host resistance to M. tuberculosis.
Andre Bafica ... Alan Sher, Julio Aliberti
Major barriers separating the blood from tissue compartments in the body are composed of endothelial cells. Interaction of bacteria with such barriers defines the course of invasive infections, and meningitis has served as a model system to study endothelial cell injury. Here we report the impressive ability of Streptococcus pneumoniae, clinically one of the most important pathogens, to induce 2 morphologically distinct forms of programmed cell death (PCD) in brain-derived endothelial cells. Pneumococci and the major cytotoxins H202 and pneumolysin induce apoptosis-like PCD independent of TLR2 and TLR4. On the other hand, pneumococcal cell wall, a major proinflammatory component, causes caspase-driven classical apoptosis that is mediated through TLR2. These findings broaden the scope of bacterial-induced PCD, link these effects to innate immune TLRs, and provide insight into the acute and persistent phases of damage during meningitis.
Daniela Bermpohl ... Nicolas W.J. Schröder, Joerg R. Weber
T cell differentiation is a progressive process characterized by phenotypic and functional changes. By transferring tumor-specific CD8+ T cells into tumor-bearing mice at various stages of differentiation, we evaluated their efficacy for adoptive immunotherapy. We found that administration of naive and early effector T cells, in combination with active immunization and IL-2, resulted in the eradication of large, established tumors. Despite enhanced in vitro antitumor properties, more-differentiated effector T cells were less effective for in vivo tumor treatment. Several events may underlie this paradoxical phenomenon: (a) downregulation of lymphoid-homing and costimulatory molecules; (b) inability to produce IL-2 and access homeostatic cytokines; and (c) entry into a proapoptotic and replicative senescent state. While the progressive acquisition of terminal effector properties is characterized by pronounced in vitro tumor killing, in vivo T cell activation, proliferation, and survival are progressively impaired. These findings suggest that the current methodology for selecting T cells for transfer is inadequate and provide new criteria for the generation and the screening of optimal lymphocyte populations for adoptive immunotherapy.
Luca Gattinoni ... Steven A. Rosenberg, Nicholas P. Restifo
Diabetes mellitus is a major health concern, affecting more than 5% of the population. Here we describe a potential novel therapeutic agent for this disease, FGF-21, which was discovered to be a potent regulator of glucose uptake in mouse 3T3-L1 and primary human adipocytes. FGF-21–transgenic mice were viable and resistant to diet-induced obesity. Therapeutic administration of FGF-21 reduced plasma glucose and triglycerides to near normal levels in both ob/ob and db/db mice. These effects persisted for at least 24 hours following the cessation of FGF-21 administration. Importantly, FGF-21 did not induce mitogenicity, hypoglycemia, or weight gain at any dose tested in diabetic or healthy animals or when overexpressed in transgenic mice. Thus, we conclude that FGF-21, which we have identified as a novel metabolic factor, exhibits the therapeutic characteristics necessary for an effective treatment of diabetes.
Alexei Kharitonenkov ... S. Richard Jaskunas, Armen B. Shanafelt
B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a disease of expanding monoclonal B cells whose B cell receptor (BCR) mutational status defines 2 subgroups; patients with mutated BCRs have a more favorable prognosis than those with unmutated BCRs. CLL B cells express a restricted BCR repertoire including antibodies with quasi-identical complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3), which suggests specific antigen recognition. The antigens recognized by CLL antibodies may include autoantigens since about half of CLL B cells produce autoreactive antibodies. However, the distribution of autoreactive antibodies between Ig heavy-chain variable–unmutated (IgV-unmutated) CLL (UM-CLL) and IgV-mutated CLL (M-CLL) is unknown. To determine the role of antibody reactivity and the impact of somatic hypermutation (SHM) on CLL antibody specificity, we cloned and expressed in vitro recombinant antibodies from M- and UM-CLL B cells and tested their reactivity by ELISA. We found that UM-CLL B cells expressed highly polyreactive antibodies whereas most M-CLL B cells did not. When mutated nonautoreactive CLL antibody sequences were reverted in vitro to their germline counterparts, they encoded polyreactive and autoreactive antibodies. We concluded that both UM-CLLs and M-CLLs originate from self-reactive B cell precursors and that SHM plays an important role in the development of the disease by altering original BCR autoreactivity.
Maxime Hervé ... Nicholas Chiorazzi, Eric Meffre
We used a proteomic approach for identifying molecules involved in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We investigated 14 patients who were completely concordant for IgVH mutational status (unmutated vs. mutated), CD38 expression (positive vs. negative), and clinical behavior (progressive vs. stable); these patients were characterized as having either poor or good prognoses. The 2 patient subsets differed in the expression of hematopoietic lineage cell-specific protein 1 (HS1). In patients with poor prognoses, most HS1 protein was constitutively phosphorylated, whereas only a fraction was phosphorylated in patients with good prognoses. This difference was investigated in a larger cohort of 26 unselected patients. The survival curve of all 40 patients analyzed revealed that patients with predominately phosphorylated HS1 experience a significantly shorter median survival time. As HS1 is a protein pivotal in the signal cascade triggered by B cell receptor (BCR) stimulation, we studied its pattern of expression following BCR engagement. Normal mature B cells stimulated by anti-IgM shifted the non- or less-phosphorylated form of HS1 toward the more phosphorylated form. Naive B cells showed both HS1 forms while memory B cells expressed mainly the phosphorylated fraction. These data indicate a central role for antigen stimulation in CLL and suggest a new therapeutic target for patients with aggressive disease.
Cristina Scielzo ... Massimo Alessio, Federico Caligaris-Cappio
Thiazide diuretics enhance renal Na+ excretion by blocking the Na+-Cl– cotransporter (NCC), and mutations in NCC result in Gitelman syndrome. The mechanisms underlying the accompanying hypocalciuria and hypomagnesemia remain debated. Here, we show that enhanced passive Ca2+ transport in the proximal tubule rather than active Ca2+ transport in distal convolution explains thiazide-induced hypocalciuria. First, micropuncture experiments in mice demonstrated increased reabsorption of Na+ and Ca2+ in the proximal tubule during chronic hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) treatment, whereas Ca2+ reabsorption in distal convolution appeared unaffected. Second, HCTZ administration still induced hypocalciuria in transient receptor potential channel subfamily V, member 5–knockout (Trpv5-knockout) mice, in which active distal Ca2+ reabsorption is abolished due to inactivation of the epithelial Ca2+ channel Trpv5. Third, HCTZ upregulated the Na+/H+ exchanger, responsible for the majority of Na+ and, consequently, Ca2+ reabsorption in the proximal tubule, while the expression of proteins involved in active Ca2+ transport was unaltered. Fourth, experiments addressing the time-dependent effect of a single dose of HCTZ showed that the development of hypocalciuria parallels a compensatory increase in Na+ reabsorption secondary to an initial natriuresis. Hypomagnesemia developed during chronic HCTZ administration and in NCC-knockout mice, an animal model of Gitelman syndrome, accompanied by downregulation of the epithelial Mg2+ channel transient receptor potential channel subfamily M, member 6 (Trpm6). Thus, Trpm6 downregulation may represent a general mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of hypomagnesemia accompanying NCC inhibition or inactivation.
Tom Nijenhuis ... Joost G.J. Hoenderop, René J.M. Bindels
The pathogenesis of cachexia in patients with uremia is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that uremia-associated cachexia is caused by leptin signaling through the hypothalamic melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4-R). We performed either subtotal nephrectomy (N) or sham operations in WT, leptin receptor–deficient (db/db), and MC4-R knockout (MC4-RKO) mice. The animals were on 17% protein diets, and none of the uremic animals were acidotic. WT-N mice produced a classic syndrome of cachexia characterized by decreased food intake, increased metabolic rate, and loss of lean body mass. Corrected leptin levels were elevated. db/db mice and MC4-RKO mice resisted the cachexic effects of uremia on weight gain, body composition, and metabolic rate. Likewise, treatment of WT mice with intracranial agouti-related peptide reversed the cachexic effects of uremia on appetite, weight gain, body composition, and metabolic rate. Gene expression of ubiquitin C and proteasome subunits C2, C3, and C9 was not changed in the uremic animals, suggesting that other pathways are involved in this model of nonacidotic uremic cachexia. The results of this study suggest that elevated circulating levels of cytokines such as leptin may be an important cause of uremia-associated cachexia via signaling through the central melanocortin system.
Wai Cheung, Pin X. Yu, Brian M. Little, Roger D. Cone, Daniel L. Marks, Robert H. Mak
Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), via its vasodilating and diuretic effects, has an important physiological role in the maintenance of arterial blood pressure and volume. Its guanylyl cyclase-A (GC-A) receptor is highly expressed in vascular endothelium, but the functional relevance of this is controversial. To dissect the endothelium-mediated actions of ANP in vivo, we inactivated the GC-A gene selectively in endothelial cells by homologous loxP/Tie2-Cre–mediated recombination. Notably, despite full preservation of the direct vasodilating effects of ANP, mice with endothelium-restricted deletion of the GC-A gene (EC GC-A KO) exhibited significant arterial hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy. Echocardiographic and Doppler flow evaluations together with the Evan’s blue dilution technique showed that the total plasma volume of EC GC-A KO mice was increased by 11–13%, even under conditions of normal dietary salt intake. Infusion of ANP caused immediate increases in hematocrit in control but not in EC GC-A KO mice, which indicated that ablation of endothelial GC-A completely prevented the acute contraction of intravascular volume produced by ANP. Furthermore, intravenous ANP acutely enhanced the rate of clearance of radio-iodinated albumin from the circulatory system in control but not in EC GC-A KO mice. We conclude that GC-A–mediated increases in endothelial permeability are critically involved in the hypovolemic, hypotensive actions of ANP.
Karim Sabrane ... Masashi Yanagisawa, Michaela Kuhn
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