Offering payment to clinical research subjects, in an effort to enhance recruitment by providing an incentive to take part or enabling subjects to participate without financial sacrifice, is a common yet uneven and contentious practice in the US. Concern exists regarding the potential for payment to unduly influence participation and thus obscure risks, impair judgment, or encourage misrepresentation. Heightening these concerns is the participation not only of adults but also of children in pediatric research trials. Thorough assessment of risks, careful eligibility screening, and attention to a participant’s freedom to refuse all serve to reduce the possibility of compensation adversely affecting the individual and/or the study. Institutional review boards currently evaluate payment proposals with minimal guidance from federal regulations. Here, reasons for providing payment, payment models, ethical concerns, and areas for further research are examined.
Human parainfluenza viruses cause several serious respiratory diseases in children for which there is no effective prevention or therapy. Parainfluenza viruses initiate infection by binding to cell surface receptors and then, via coordinated action of the 2 viral surface glycoproteins, fuse directly with the cell membrane to release the viral replication machinery into the host cell’s cytoplasm. During this process, the receptor-binding molecule must trigger the viral fusion protein to mediate fusion and entry of the virus into a cell. This review explores the binding and entry into cells of parainfluenza virus type 3, focusing on how the receptor-binding molecule triggers the fusion process. There are several steps during the process of binding, triggering, and fusion that are now understood at the molecular level, and each of these steps represents potential targets for interrupting infection.
In order to examine the factors governing the timing and flexibility of skeletal muscle switching between fat and carbohydrate oxidation, Ukropcova et al. studied the effect of glucose and fatty acid availability on the preference for fat oxidation in myocytes cultured from human male quadriceps muscle taken from subjects with varied BMI, fat mass, and insulin sensitivity. The authors found that in vivo insulin sensitivity was related to a higher in vitro capacity for fat oxidation. These findings support the concept that the capacity of skeletal muscle to oxidize fat under appropriate physiological conditions is related to leanness, aerobic fitness, and insulin sensitivity.
In the days following infection, when the human body develops and refines antibodies and prepares to mount an adaptive immune response, the bulwark of innate host defense against microbial infection is the polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN). PMNs seek out, identify, engulf, and sterilize invading microbes using both O2-dependent and O2-independent antimicrobial systems. A decrease in PMN numbers or function caused by immunosuppression or disease increases the risk of infection. In this issue of the JCI, Peyssonnaux et al. identify a novel and essential role for hypoxia-inducible factor–1α in regulating several important PMN functions relevant to host defense, including transcription of cationic antimicrobial polypeptides and induction of NO synthase.
Epithelial organs such as the intestine and skin have a relatively high rate of cell loss and thus require a reservoir of stem cells capable of both replacing the lost epithelia and maintaining the reservoir. Whether the kidney has such a stem cell niche has been a subject of great interest; the majority of data suggest that replacement of renal epithelial cells occurs via dedifferentiation and proliferation of existing tubular cells, while some studies demonstrate the presence of potential tubular stem cells in the renal interstitium. However, recent reports have suggested that the bone marrow may also be a source of stem cells for tubule turnover and/or repair. In this issue of the JCI, 2 groups explore the role of endogenous cells versus bone marrow–derived cells in mediating tubule repair. Duffield and colleagues demonstrate that bone marrow does contain cells capable of protecting the kidney from ischemic injury, but found that these cells do not act by direct incorporation into the repaired tubular segments. In contrast, Lin and coworkers found that some bone marrow–derived cells do appear to incorporate into the injured tubule as epithelial cells (see the related article beginning on page 1756). Importantly, both groups conclude that the majority of tubule repair occurs via proliferation of endogenous renal cells rather than incorporation of bone marrow–derived cells.
Harlequin ichthyosis (HI) — the most severe form of keratinizing disorders, often lethal in the neonatal period — is characterized by a profound thickening of the keratin skin layer, a dense “armor”-like scale that covers the body, and contraction abnormalities of the eyes, ears, and mouth. In this issue of the JCI, Akiyama et al. report that mutations in ABCA12 caused defective lipid transport that significantly impacted normal development of the skin barrier. Lipid secretion was recovered after corrective ABCA12 gene transfer into patient keratinocytes. These results should allow for early prenatal diagnosis of HI and lend hope to the possibility of a specific treatment for this devastating disorder.
Chromogranin A (CHGA) and its derived peptides, which are stored and released from dense-core secretory granules of neuroendocrine cells, have been implicated as playing multiple roles in the endocrine, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. In this issue of the JCI, Mahapatra et al. present in vivo evidence for 2 important functions of CHGA: the regulation of catecholamine-containing dense-core chromaffin granule biogenesis in the adrenal gland and the control of blood pressure. Obliteration of CHGA expression in a KO mouse model led to decreased size and number of chromaffin granules as well as hypertension in these animals. Transgenic expression of human Chga and exogenous injection of human catestatin, a CHGA-derived nicotinic cholinergic antagonist, restored normal blood pressure in these mice. These results suggest a coupled relationship between CHGA-mediated chromaffin granule biogenesis, necessary for catecholamine storage, and catestatin-induced inhibition of cholinergic-stimulated catecholamine release, which regulates autonomic control of blood pressure.
In the present study, we demonstrated that human skin cancers frequently overexpress TGF-β1 but exhibit decreased expression of the TGF-β type II receptor (TGF-βRII). To understand how this combination affects cancer prognosis, we generated a transgenic mouse model that allowed inducible expression of TGF-β1 in keratinocytes expressing a dominant negative TGF-βRII (ΔβRII) in the epidermis. Without ΔβRII expression, TGF-β1 transgene induction in late-stage, chemically induced papillomas failed to inhibit tumor growth but increased metastasis and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), i.e., formation of spindle cell carcinomas. Interestingly, ΔβRII expression abrogated TGF-β1–mediated EMT and was accompanied by restoration of membrane-associated E-cadherin/catenin complex in TGF-β1/ΔβRII compound tumors. Furthermore, expression of molecules thought to mediate TGF-β1–induced EMT was attenuated in TGF-β1/ΔβRII–transgenic tumors. However, TGF-β1/ΔβRII–transgenic tumors progressed to metastasis without losing expression of the membrane-associated E-cadherin/catenin complex and at a rate higher than those observed in nontransgenic, TGF-β1–transgenic, or ΔβRII-transgenic mice. Abrogation of Smad activation by ΔβRII correlated with the blockade of EMT. However, ΔβRII did not alter TGF-β1–mediated expression of RhoA/Rac and MAPK, which contributed to increased metastasis. Our study provides evidence that TGF-β1 induces EMT and invasion via distinct mechanisms. TGF-β1–mediated EMT requires functional TGF-βRII, whereas TGF-β1–mediated tumor invasion cooperates with reduced TGF-βRII signaling in tumor epithelia.
Recent evidence suggests that the heart possesses a greater regeneration capacity than previously thought. In the present study, we isolated undifferentiated precursors from the cardiac nonmyocyte cell population of neonatal hearts, expanded them in culture, and induced them to differentiate into functional cardiomyocytes. These cardiac precursors appear to express stem cell antigen–1 and demonstrate characteristics of multipotent precursors of mesodermal origin. Following infusion into normal recipients, these cells home to the heart and participate in physiological and pathophysiological cardiac remodeling. Cardiogenic differentiation in vitro and in vivo depends on FGF-2. Interestingly, this factor does not control the number of precursors but regulates the differentiation process. These findings suggest that, besides its angiogenic actions, FGF-2 could be used in vivo to facilitate the mobilization and differentiation of resident cardiac precursors in the treatment of cardiac diseases.
In the developing growth plate, periarticular chondrocytes proliferate, differentiate into columnar chondrocytes, and then further differentiate into postmitotic hypertrophic chondrocytes. Parathyroid hormone–related (PTH-related) protein (PTHrP), regulated by Indian hedgehog (Ihh), prevents premature hypertrophic differentiation, thereby maintaining the length of columns. Ihh regulates cartilage development through PTHrP-independent pathways as well. Here we show that Ihh stimulates differentiation of periarticular to columnar chondrocytes (periarticular chondrocyte differentiation) and thereby regulates the length of columns independently of PTHrP. Mosaic ablation of the PTH/PTHrP receptor in the growth plate caused upregulation of Ihh action, PTHrP upregulation, acceleration of periarticular chondrocyte differentiation, and elongation of the columnar region. Decreasing Ihh action in these mice reduced elongation of columns, whereas decreasing PTHrP showed only a modest effect on column length. Overexpression of Ihh caused PTHrP upregulation, elongation of columns, and acceleration of periarticular chondrocyte differentiation. PTHrP heterozygosity in this model had a minimal effect on the elongation of columns. Moreover, the elongation of columns and stimulation of periarticular chondrocyte differentiation in these models were still observed when PTHrP signaling was maintained so that it remained constant. These results demonstrate that Ihh acts on periarticular chondrocytes to stimulate their differentiation, thereby regulating the columnar cell mass independently of PTHrP.
Ischemia causes kidney tubular cell damage and abnormal renal function. The kidney is capable of morphological restoration of tubules and recovery of function. Recently, it has been suggested that cells repopulating the ischemically injured tubule derive from bone marrow stem cells. We studied kidney repair in chimeric mice expressing GFP or bacterial β-gal or harboring the male Y chromosome exclusively in bone marrow-derived cells. In GFP chimeras, some interstitial cells but not tubular cells expressed GFP after ischemic injury. More than 99% of those GFP interstitial cells were leukocytes. In female mice with male bone marrow, occasional tubular cells (0.06%) appeared to be positive for the Y chromosome, but deconvolution microscopy revealed these to be artifactual. In β-gal chimeras, some tubular cells also appeared to express β-gal as assessed by X-gal staining, but following suppression of endogenous (mammalian) β-gal, no tubular cells could be found that stained with X-gal after ischemic injury. Whereas there was an absence of bone marrow–derived tubular cells, many tubular cells expressed proliferating cell nuclear antigen, which is reflective of a high proliferative rate of endogenous surviving tubular cells. Upon i.v. injection of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, postischemic functional renal impairment was reduced, but there was no evidence of differentiation of these cells into tubular cells of the kidney. Thus, our data indicate that bone marrow–derived cells do not make a significant contribution to the restoration of epithelial integrity after an ischemic insult. It is likely that intrinsic tubular cell proliferation accounts for functionally significant replenishment of the tubular epithelium after ischemia.
Ischemic injury to the kidney produces acute tubular necrosis and apoptosis followed by tubular regeneration and recovery of renal function. Although mitotic cells are present in the tubules of postischemic kidneys, the origins of the proliferating cells are not known. Bone marrow cells (BMCs) can differentiate across lineages to repair injured organs, including the kidney. However, the relative contribution of intrarenal cells and extrarenal cells to kidney regeneration is not clear. We produced transgenic mice that expressed enhanced GFP (EGFP) specifically and permanently in mature renal tubular epithelial cells. Following ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI), EGFP-positive cells showed incorporation of BrdU and expression of vimentin, which provides direct evidence that the cells composing regenerating tubules are derived from renal tubular epithelial cells. In BMC-transplanted mice, 89% of proliferating epithelial cells originated from host cells, and 11% originated from donor BMCs. Twenty-eight days after IRI, the kidneys contained 8% donor-derived cells, of which 8.4% were epithelial cells, 10.6% were glomerular cells, and 81% were interstitial cells. No renal functional improvement was observed in mice that were transplanted with exogenous BMCs. These results show that intrarenal cells are the main source of renal repair, and a single injection of BMCs does not make a significant contribution to renal functional or structural recovery.
Disruption of the cell-cell junction with concomitant changes in the expression of junctional proteins is a hallmark of cancer cell invasion and metastasis. The role of adherent junction proteins has been studied extensively in cancer, but the roles of tight junction (TJ) proteins are less well understood. Claudins are recently identified members of the tetraspanin family of proteins, which are integral to the structure and function of TJs. Recent studies show changes in expression/cellular localization of claudins during tumorigenesis; however, a causal relationship between claudin expression/localization and cancer has not been established. Here, we report an increased expression of claudin-1 in human primary colon carcinoma and metastasis and in cell lines derived from primary and metastatic tumors. We also report frequent nuclear localization of claudin-1 in these samples. Genetic manipulations of claudin-1 expression in colon cancer cell lines induced changes in cellular phenotype, with structural and functional changes in markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, we demonstrate that changes in claudin-1 expression have significant effects on growth of xenografted tumors and metastasis in athymic mice. We further provide data suggesting that the regulation of E-cadherin expression and β-catenin/Tcf signaling is a possible mechanism underlying claudin-1–dependent changes.
Harlequin ichthyosis (HI) is a devastating skin disorder with an unknown underlying cause. Abnormal keratinocyte lamellar granules (LGs) are a hallmark of HI skin. ABCA12 is a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter family, and members of the ABCA subfamily are known to have closely related functions as lipid transporters. ABCA3 is involved in lipid secretion via LGs from alveolar type II cells, and missense mutations in ABCA12 have been reported to cause lamellar ichthyosis type 2, a milder form of ichthyosis. Therefore, we hypothesized that HI might be caused by mutations that lead to serious ABCA12 defects. We identify 5 distinct ABCA12 mutations, either in a compound heterozygous or homozygous state, in patients from 4 HI families. All the mutations resulted in truncation or deletion of highly conserved regions of ABCA12. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that ABCA12 localized to LGs in normal epidermal keratinocytes. We confirmed that ABCA12 defects cause congested lipid secretion in cultured HI keratinocytes and succeeded in obtaining the recovery of LG lipid secretion after corrective gene transfer of ABCA12. We concluded that ABCA12 works as an epidermal keratinocyte lipid transporter and that defective ABCA12 results in a loss of the skin lipid barrier, leading to HI. Our findings not only allow DNA-based early prenatal diagnosis but also suggest the possibility of gene therapy for HI.
TNF-α modulates EC proliferation and thereby plays a central role in new blood vessel formation in physiologic and pathologic circumstances. TNF-α is known to downregulate cyclin A, a key cell cycle regulatory protein, but little else is known about how TNF-α modulates EC cell cycle and angiogenesis. Using primary ECs, we show that ezrin, previously considered to act primarily as a cytoskeletal protein and in cytoplasmic signaling, is a TNF-α–induced transcriptional repressor. TNF-α exposure leads to Rho kinase–mediated phosphorylation of ezrin, which translocates to the nucleus and binds to cell cycle homology region repressor elements within the cyclin A promoter. Overexpression of dominant-negative ezrin blocks TNF-α–induced modulation of ezrin function and rescues cyclin A expression and EC proliferation. In vivo, blockade of ezrin leads to enhanced transplanted EC proliferation and angiogenesis in a mouse hind limb ischemia model. These observations suggest that TNF-α regulates angiogenesis via Rho kinase induction of a transcriptional repressor function of the cytoskeletal protein ezrin and that ezrin may represent a suitable therapeutic target for processes dependent on EC proliferation.
To examine the impact of tumors on the immune system, we compared global gene expression profiles of peripheral blood T cells from previously untreated patients with B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) with those from age-matched healthy donors. Although the cells analyzed were not part of the malignant clone, analysis revealed differentially expressed genes, mainly involved in cell differentiation in CD4 cells and defects in cytoskeleton formation, vesicle trafficking, and cytotoxicity in CD8 cells of the CLL patients. In coculture experiments using CLL cells and T cells from healthy allogeneic donors, similar defects developed in both CD4 and CD8 cells. These changes were induced only with direct contact and were not cytokine mediated. Identification of the specific pathways perturbed in the T cells of cancer-bearing patients will allow us to assess steps to repair these defects, which will likely be required to enhance antitumor immunity.
Hypoxia is a characteristic feature of the tissue microenvironment during bacterial infection. Here we report on our use of conditional gene targeting to examine the contribution of hypoxia-inducible factor 1, α subunit (HIF-1α) to myeloid cell innate immune function. HIF-1α was induced by bacterial infection, even under normoxia, and regulated the production of key immune effector molecules, including granule proteases, antimicrobial peptides, nitric oxide, and TNF-α. Mice lacking HIF-1α in their myeloid cell lineage showed decreased bactericidal activity and failed to restrict systemic spread of infection from an initial tissue focus. Conversely, activation of the HIF-1α pathway through deletion of von Hippel–Lindau tumor-suppressor protein or pharmacologic inducers supported myeloid cell production of defense factors and improved bactericidal capacity. HIF-1α control of myeloid cell activity in infected tissues could represent a novel therapeutic target for enhancing host defense.
NO has been shown to mediate angiogenesis; however, its role in vessel morphogenesis and maturation is not known. Using intravital microscopy, histological analysis, α–smooth muscle actin and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 staining, microsensor NO measurements, and an NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor, we found that NO mediates mural cell coverage as well as vessel branching and longitudinal extension but not the circumferential growth of blood vessels in B16 murine melanomas. NO-sensitive fluorescent probe 4,5-diaminofluorescein imaging, NOS immunostaining, and the use of NOS-deficient mice revealed that eNOS in vascular endothelial cells is the predominant source of NO and induces these effects. To further dissect the role of NO in mural cell recruitment and vascular morphogenesis, we performed a series of independent analyses. Transwell and under-agarose migration assays demonstrated that endothelial cell–derived NO induces directional migration of mural cell precursors toward endothelial cells. An in vivo tissue-engineered blood vessel model revealed that NO mediates endothelial–mural cell interaction prior to vessel perfusion and also induces recruitment of mural cells to angiogenic vessels, vessel branching, and longitudinal extension and subsequent stabilization of the vessels. These data indicate that endothelial cell–derived NO induces mural cell recruitment as well as subsequent morphogenesis and stabilization of angiogenic vessels.
Inhibitors of HIV protease have been shown to have antiapoptotic effects in vitro, yet whether these effects are seen in vivo remains controversial. In this study, we have evaluated the impact of the HIV protease inhibitor (PI) nelfinavir, boosted with ritonavir, in models of nonviral disease associated with excessive apoptosis. In mice with Fas-induced fatal hepatitis, Staphylococcal enterotoxin B–induced shock, and middle cerebral artery occlusion–induced stroke, we demonstrate that PIs significantly reduce apoptosis and improve histology, function, and/or behavioral recovery in each of these models. Further, we demonstrate that both in vitro and in vivo, PIs block apoptosis through the preservation of mitochondrial integrity and that in vitro PIs act to prevent pore function of the adenine nucleotide translocator (ANT) subunit of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore complex.
Administration of IL-2 to HIV-infected patients leads to expansion of a unique subset of CD4+CD45RO–CD25+ cells. In this study, the origin, clonality, and function of these cells were investigated. Analysis of TCR excision circles revealed that the CD4+CD45RO–CD25+ cells were the product of peripheral expansion but remained polyclonal as determined by TCR repertoire analysis. Phenotypically, these cells were distinct from naturally occurring Tregs; they exhibited intermediate features, between those of memory and naive cells, and had lower susceptibility to apoptosis than CD45RO–CD25– or memory T cells. Studies of intracellular cytokine production and proliferation revealed that cytokine-expanded naive CD25+ cells had low IL-2 production and required costimulation for proliferation. Despite elevated expression of forkhead transcription factor P3 (foxP3), they exerted only weak suppression compared with CD45RO+CD25+high cells (Tregs). In summary, in vivo IL-2 administration to HIV-infected patients leads to peripheral expansion of a population of long-lived CD4+CD45RO–CD25+ cells that express high levels of foxP3 but exert weak suppressive function. These CD4+CD25+ cytokine-expanded naive cells, distinct from antigen-triggered cells and Tregs, play a role in the maintenance of a state of low turnover and sustained expansion of the CD4+ T cell pool.
NF-κB is an important component of both autoimmunity and bone destruction in RA. NF-κB–inducing kinase (NIK) is a key mediator of the alternative arm of the NF-κB pathway, which is characterized by the nuclear translocation of RelB/p52 complexes. Mice lacking functional NIK have no peripheral lymph nodes, defective B and T cells, and impaired receptor activator of NF-κB ligand–stimulated osteoclastogenesis. We investigated the role of NIK in murine models of inflammatory arthritis using Nik–/– mice. The serum transfer arthritis model is initiated by preformed antibodies and required only intact neutrophil and complement systems in recipients. While Nik–/– mice had inflammation equivalent to that of Nik+/+ controls, they showed significantly less periarticular osteoclastogenesis and less bone erosion. In contrast, Nik–/– mice were completely resistant to antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), which requires intact antigen presentation and lymphocyte function but not lymph nodes. Additionally, transfer of Nik+/+ splenocytes or T cells to Rag2–/– mice conferred susceptibility to AIA, while transfer of Nik–/– cells did not. Nik–/– mice were also resistant to a genetic, spontaneous form of arthritis, generated in mice expressing both the KRN T cell receptor and H-2g7. Thus, NIK is important in the immune and bone-destructive components of inflammatory arthritis and represents a possible therapeutic target for these diseases.
More than 70% of patients survive childhood leukemia, but chemotherapy and radiation therapy cause irreversible impairment of spermatogenesis. Although autotransplantation of germ cells holds promise for restoring fertility, contamination by leukemic cells may induce relapse. In this study, we isolated germ cells from leukemic mice by FACS sorting. The cell population in the high forward-scatter and low side-scatter regions of dissociated testicular cells from leukemic mice were analyzed by staining for MHC class I heavy chain (H-2Kb/H-2Db) and for CD45. Cells that did not stain positively for H-2Kb/H-2Db and CD45 were sorted as the germ cell–enriched fraction. The sorted germ cell–enriched fractions were transplanted into the testes of recipient mice exposed to alkylating agents. Transplanted germ cells colonized, and recipient mice survived. Normal progeny were produced by intracytoplasmic injection of sperm obtained from recipient testes. When unsorted germ cells from leukemic mice were transplanted into recipient testes, all recipient mice developed leukemia. The successful birth of offspring from recipient mice without transmission of leukemia to the recipients indicates the potential of autotransplantation of germ cells sorted by FACS to treat infertility secondary to anticancer treatment for childhood leukemia.
The luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR), mainly expressed in gonads, is essential for normal reproduction. However, numerous recent studies have also demonstrated LHR expression in multiple extragonadal reproductive and nonreproductive tissues. Although some effects of luteinizing hormone (LH) or its agonist, human chorionic gonadotropin, have been shown in extragonadal sites, their physiological significance remains open. In the present study, we have addressed the function of the extragonadal LHR using LHR-KO mice (LuRKO mice), in which the ovaries of prepubertal mice were orthotopically replaced with pieces of WT ovary using similarly transplanted WT mice as controls. Most ovarian transplants attained normal endocrine function in both groups of mice, as demonstrated by normal age at vaginal opening, estrous cycles, and sexual behavior. Both the LuRKO and WT mice repeatedly became pregnant (9/16 vs. 16/20 after first mating; difference not significant) and delivered similarly sized litters, which grew normally after birth, indicating normal lactation. In conclusion, fertility is restored in LuRKO mice by transplantation of WT ovarian tissue. This is achieved in the absence of extragonadal LHR expression, which indicates physiological redundancy for such receptor sites.
Sle3 is an NZM2410-derived lupus susceptibility locus on murine chromosome 7. Congenic recombination has resulted in a novel mouse strain, B6.Sle3, associated with serum antinuclear autoantibodies (ANAs), T cell hyperactivity, and elevated CD4/CD8 ratios. An OVA-specific TCR transgene was used as a tool to demonstrate that Sle3 facilitated heightened T cell expansion in vitro, and in vivo, following antigen challenge. Indeed, continued T cell expansion was noted even in response to a tolerogenic signal. However, these phenotypes did not appear to be T cell intrinsic but were dictated by hyperstimulatory B6.Sle3 APCs. Importantly, B6.Sle3-derived DCs and macrophages appeared to be significantly more mature/activated, less apoptotic, and more proinflammatory and were better at costimulating T cells in vitro, compared with the B6 counterparts. Finally, the adoptive transfer of B6.Sle3-derived DCs into healthy B6 recipients elicited increased CD4/CD8 ratios and serum ANAs, 2 cardinal Sle3-associated phenotypes. We posit that their heightened expression of various costimulatory molecules, including CD80, CD106, I-Ab, and CD40, and their elevated production of various cytokines, including IL-12 and IL-1β, may explain why Sle3-bearing DCs may be superior at breaching self tolerance. These studies provide mechanistic evidence indicating that intrinsic abnormalities in DCs and possibly other myeloid cells may dictate several of the phenotypes associated with systemic lupus, including ANA formation and T cell hyperactivity.
The progression of immune responses is generally associated with an increase in the overall avidity of antigen-specific T cell populations for peptide-MHC. This is thought to result from preferential expansion of high-avidity clonotypes at the expense of their low-avidity counterparts. Since T cell antigen-receptor genes do not mutate, it is puzzling that high-avidity clonotypes do not predominate from the outset. Here we provide a developmental basis for this phenomenon in the context of autoimmunity. We have carried out comprehensive studies of the diabetogenic CD8+ T cell population that targets residues 206–214 of the β cell antigen islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit–related protein (IGRP206–214) and undergoes avidity maturation as disease progresses. We find that the succession of IGRP206–214–specific clonotypes with increasing avidities during the progression of islet inflammation to overt diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice is fueled by autoimmune inflammation but opposed by systemic tolerance. As expected, naive high-avidity IGRP206–214–specific T cells respond more efficiently to antigen and are significantly more diabetogenic than their intermediate- or low-avidity counterparts. However, central and peripheral tolerance selectively limit the contribution of these high-avidity T cells to the earliest stages of disease without abrogating their ability to progressively accumulate in inflamed islets and kill β cells. These results illustrate the way in which incomplete deletion of autoreactive T cell populations of relatively high avidity can contribute to the development of pathogenic autoimmunity in the periphery.
Williams syndrome (WS), caused by microdeletion of some 21 genes on chromosome 7q11.23, is characterized by dysmorphic features, mental retardation or learning difficulties, elastin arteriopathy, and striking neurocognitive and social-behavioral abnormalities. Recent studies of murine knockouts of key genes in the microdeleted region, LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) and cytoplasmatic linker protein 2 (CYLN2), demonstrated significant functional and metabolic abnormalities, but grossly normal structure, in the hippocampal formation (HF). Furthermore, deficits in spatial navigation and long-term memory, major cognitive domains dependent on hippocampal function, have been described in WS. We used multimodal neuroimaging to characterize hippocampal structure, function, and metabolic integrity in 12 participants with WS and 12 age-, sex-, and IQ-matched healthy controls. PET and functional MRI studies showed profound reduction in resting blood flow and absent differential response to visual stimuli in the anterior HF in WS. Spectroscopic measures of N-acetyl aspartate, considered a marker of synaptic activity, were reduced. Hippocampal size was preserved, but subtle alterations in shape were present. These data demonstrate abnormalities in HF in WS in agreement with murine models, implicate LIMK1 and CYLN2 in human hippocampal function, and suggest that hippocampal dysfunction may contribute to neurocognitive abnormalities in WS.
Anergic T cells generated ex vivo are reported to have immunosuppressive effects in vitro and in vivo. Here, we tested this concept in nonhuman primates. Alloreactive T cells were rendered anergic ex vivo by coculture with donor alloantigen in the presence of anti-CD80/CD86 mAbs before adoptive transfer via renal allograft to rhesus monkey recipients. The recipients were briefly treated with cyclophosphamide and cyclosporine A during the preparation of the anergic cells. Thirteen days after renal transplantation, the anergic T cells were transferred to the recipient, after which no further immunosuppressive agents were administered. Rejection-free survival was prolonged in all treated recipients, and 3 of 6 animals survived long term (410–880 days at study’s end). In the long-surviving recipients, proliferative responses against alloantigen were inhibited in a donor-specific manner, and donor-type, but not third-party, skin allografts were also accepted, which demonstrated that antigen-specific tolerance had been induced. We conclude that anergic T cells generated ex vivo by blocking CD28/B7 costimulation can suppress renal allograft rejection after adoptive transfer in nonhuman primates. This strategy may be applicable to the design of safe clinical trials in humans.
Immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic melanoma remains a major clinical challenge. The melanoma microenvironment may lead to local T cell tolerance in part through downregulation of costimulatory molecules, such as B7.1 (CD80). We report the results from the first clinical trial, to our knowledge, using a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing B7.1 (rV-B7.1) for monthly intralesional vaccination of accessible melanoma lesions. A standard 2-dose–escalation phase I clinical trial was conducted with 12 patients. The approach was well tolerated with only low-grade fever, myalgias, and fatigue reported and 2 patients experiencing vitiligo. An objective partial response was observed in 1 patient and disease stabilization in 2 patients, 1 of whom is alive without disease 59 months following vaccination. All patients demonstrated an increase in postvaccination antibody and T cell responses against vaccinia virus. Systemic immunity was tested in HLA-A*0201 patients who demonstrated an increased frequency of gp100 and T cells specific to melanoma antigen recognized by T cells 1 (MART-1), also known as Melan-A, by ELISPOT assay following local rV-B7.1 vaccination. Local immunity was evaluated by quantitative real-time RT-PCR, which suggested that tumor regression was associated with increased expression of CD8 and IFN-γ. The local delivery of vaccinia virus expressing B7.1 was well tolerated and represents an innovative strategy for altering the local tumor microenvironment in patients with melanoma.
The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system controls blood pressure and salt-volume homeostasis. Renin, which is the first enzymatic step of the cascade, is critically regulated at the transcriptional level. In the present study, we investigated the role of liver X receptor α (LXRα) and LXRβ in the regulation of renin. In vitro, both LXRs could bind to a noncanonical responsive element in the renin promoter and regulated renin transcription. While LXRα functioned as a cAMP-activated factor, LXRβ was inversely affected by cAMP. In vivo, LXRs colocalized in juxtaglomerular cells, in which LXRα was specifically enriched, and interacted with the renin promoter. In mouse models, renin-angiotensin activation was associated with increased binding of LXRα to the responsive element. Moreover, acute administration of LXR agonists was followed by upregulation of renin transcription. In LXRα–/– mice, the elevation of renin triggered by adrenergic stimulation was abolished. Untreated LXRβ–/– mice exhibited reduced kidney renin mRNA levels compared with controls. LXRα–/–LXRβ–/– mice showed a combined phenotype of lower basal renin and blunted adrenergic response. In conclusion, we show herein that LXRα and LXRβ regulate renin expression in vivo by directly interacting with the renin promoter and that the cAMP/LXRα signaling pathway is required for the adrenergic control of the renin-angiotensin system.
Mucosal tolerance prevents pathological reactions against environmental and food antigens, and its failure results in exacerbated inflammation typical of allergies and asthma. One of the proposed mechanisms of oral tolerance is the induction of Tregs. Using a mouse model of hyper-IgE and asthma, we found that oral tolerance could be effectively induced in the absence of naturally occurring thymus-derived Tregs. Oral antigen administration prior to i.p. immunization prevented effector/memory Th2 cell development, germinal center formation, class switching to IgE, and lung inflammation. Oral exposure to antigen induced development of antigen-specific CD4+CD25+Foxp3+CD45RBlow cells that were anergic and displayed suppressive activity in vivo and in vitro. Oral tolerance to the Th2 allergic response was in large part dependent on TGF-β and independent of IL-10. Interestingly, Tregs were also induced by single i.p. immunization with antigen and adjuvant. However, unlike oral administration of antigen, which induced Tregs but not effector T cells, i.p. immunization led to the simultaneous induction of Tregs and effector Th2 cells displaying the same antigen specificity.
Metabolic flexibility of skeletal muscle, that is, the preference for fat oxidation (FOx) during fasting and for carbohydrate oxidation in response to insulin, is decreased during insulin resistance. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the capacity of myotubes to oxidize fat in vitro reflects the donor’s metabolic characteristics. Insulin sensitivity (IS) and metabolic flexibility of 16 healthy, young male subjects was determined by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp. Muscle samples were obtained from vastus lateralis, cultured, and differentiated into myotubes. In human myotubes in vitro, we measured suppressibility (glucose suppression of FOx) and adaptability (an increase in FOx in the presence of high palmitate concentration). We termed these dynamic changes in FOx metabolic switching. In vivo, metabolic flexibility was positively correlated with IS and maximal oxygen uptake and inversely correlated with percent body fat. In vitro suppressibility was inversely correlated with IS and metabolic flexibility and positively correlated with body fat and fasting FFA levels. Adaptability was negatively associated with percent body fat and fasting insulin and positively correlated with IS and metabolic flexibility. The interindividual variability in metabolic phenotypes was preserved in human myotubes separated from their neuroendocrine environment, which supports the hypothesis that metabolic switching is an intrinsic property of skeletal muscle.
The secretory prohormone chromogranin A (CHGA) is overexpressed in essential hypertension, a complex trait with genetic predisposition, while its catecholamine release–inhibitory fragment catestatin is diminished, and low catestatin predicts augmented adrenergic pressor responses. These findings from studies on humans suggest a mechanism whereby diminished catestatin might increase the risk for hypertension. We generated Chga–/– and humanized mice through transgenic insertion of a human CHGA haplotype in order to probe CHGA and catestatin in vivo. Chga–/– mice displayed extreme phenotypic changes, including: (a) decreased chromaffin granule size and number; (b) elevated BP; (c) loss of diurnal BP variation; (d) increased left ventricular mass and cavity dimensions; (e) decreased adrenal catecholamine, neuropeptide Y (Npy), and ATP contents; (f) increased catecholamine/ATP ratio in the chromaffin granule; and (g) increased plasma catecholamine and Npy levels. Rescue of elevated BP to normalcy was achieved by either exogenous catestatin replacement or humanization of Chga–/– mice. Loss of the physiological “brake” catestatin in Chga–/– mice coupled with dysregulation of transmitter storage and release may act in concert to alter autonomic control of the circulation in vivo, eventuating in hypertension.
CD4+CD25+ Tregs play a central role in the maintenance of peripheral self tolerance by keeping autoreactive T cells in check. Whereas the thymic origin of CD4+CD25+ Tregs, as a distinct lineage, has been inferred, understanding of their developmental pathways has remained elusive. In both mice and humans, peripheral CD4+CD25+ Treg populations have been described as composed of antigen-experienced T cells that fail to significantly proliferate following TCR stimulation but suppress proliferation and effector functions of CD25– T cells. Here we show that analysis of CD25 expression in human circulating CD4+ T lymphocytes with respect to their in vivo differentiation stages identifies a distinct subset of CD25+CCR7+CD62L+CTLA-4+FOXP3+ cells contained in the CD45RA+/RO– naive fraction. The subset, which we have named natural naive Tregs (NnTregs), is prominent in young adults and decreases with age together with the total naive CD4+ population. NnTregs are anergic following stimulation in the absence of IL-2 and exert ex vivo cell-cell contact–mediated suppressor functions. In addition, they proliferate in response to stimulation with autologous APCs, which indicates a high enrichment in T cells bearing self-reactive TCRs. The definition of this subset has important implications for the analysis of human naturally occurring Tregs and for their targeting in therapeutic immune interventions.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation