Triggered by an encounter with survivors of the studies on twins conducted in Auschwitz by Joseph Mengele, who held both MD and PhD degrees, I offer thoughts on the extraordinary powers physician-scientists have to enhance or degrade human dignity. Biomedical science lacks intrinsic morality, but attains moral status by virtue of its purpose and the ethical framework that controls its conduct, both of which derive from the principles of medical humanism codified in the physician’s oath. Physician-scientists have responsibilities to humankind that transcend the state. Careful analysis of historical examples of abuses of human rights committed in the name of medical science or the state is an important mechanism to safeguard current and future human participants.
The deiodinases activate or inactivate thyroid hormone, and their importance in thyroid hormone homeostasis has become increasingly clear with the availability of deiodinase-deficient animals. At the same time, heightened interest in the field has been generated following the discovery that the type 2 deiodinase can be an important component in both the Hedgehog signaling pathway and the G protein–coupled bile acid receptor 1–mediated (GPBAR1-mediated) signaling cascade. The discovery of these new roles for the deiodinases indicates that tissue-specific deiodination plays a much broader role than once thought, extending into the realms of developmental biology and metabolism.
Treatment with anti-CD3 antibody (anti-CD3) causes transient diarrhea. In this issue of the JCI, Clayburgh et al. show that, in jejunum of mice injected with anti-CD3 or with TNF, fluid accumulation and changes in epithelial phenotype develop, the latter including an increase in the passive permeability to proteins, smaller solutes, and water and the endocytosis of the brush border Na+/H+ exchanger, thereby inhibiting Na+ absorption (a second cytokine, LIGHT, has the former effect, but not the latter) (see the related article beginning on page 2682). These phenotypic changes, by themselves, do not, however, explain increased fluid secretion. Since active anion secretion is not stimulated (in fact it is inhibited), a non–epithelial cell–mediated driving force must be present — most likely an increase in interstitial pressure due to an effect of TNF on capillary permeability, smooth muscle contractility, or both.
Enterococcus faecalis is an important agent of endocarditis and urinary tract infections, which occur frequently in hospitals. Antimicrobial therapy is complicated by the emergence of drug-resistant strains, which contribute significantly to mortality associated with E. faecalis infection. In this issue of the JCI, Nallapareddy and colleagues report that E. faecalis produces pili on its surface and that these proteinaceous fibers are used for bacterial adherence to host tissues and for the establishment of biofilms and endocarditis (see the related article beginning on page 2799). This information may enable new vaccine strategies for the prevention of E. faecalis infections.
Since the discovery of vascular-specific growth factors with angiogenic activity, there has been a significant effort to develop cancer drugs that restrict tumorigenesis by targeting the blood supply. In this issue of the JCI, Mancuso et al. use mouse models to better understand the plasticity of the tumor vasculature in the face of antiangiogenic therapy (see the related article beginning on page 2610). They describe a rapid regrowth of the tumor vasculature following withdrawal of VEGFR inhibitors, emphasizing the importance of fully understanding the function of these and similar treatments used in the clinic at the cellular and molecular level.
Inflammation resultant from tumor growth, infection with certain pathogens, or in some cases, trauma, can result in systemic release of cytokines, especially GM-CSF, that in turn stimulate the abundant production and activation of a population of immature myeloid cells, termed myeloid suppressor cells (MSCs), that have potent immunosuppressive functions. In this issue of the JCI, Gallina and colleagues have illuminated some complex issues concerning the development, activation, and function of MSCs (see the related article beginning on page 2777). They show that activation of MSCs is initiated in response to IFN-γ, presumably produced in situ by antitumor T cells in the tumor microenvironment. After this triggering event, MSCs express 2 enzymes involved in l-arginine metabolism, Arginase I and iNOS, whose metabolic products include diffusible and highly reactive peroxynitrites, the ultimate biochemical mediators of T cell immune suppression. The multifaceted regulation of this complex suppressive effector system provides several potential therapeutic targets.
The activation of lymphocytes and development of adaptive immune responses is initiated by the engagement of TCRs by antigenic peptide–MHC complexes and shaped at the clonal level by both positive and negative costimulatory signals. The B7 family members are involved at several stages in this process. In this issue of the JCI, Vogt et al. show that the B7 family–related protein V-set and Ig domain–containing 4 (VSIG4) can act as an inhibitor of T cell activation (see the related article beginning on page 2817). Intriguingly, the same molecule was recently independently identified as a complement receptor of the Ig superfamily (CRIg) and was convincingly demonstrated to be a receptor for complement component 3 fragments. These findings raise interesting questions regarding the physiological roles and mechanisms of action of this molecule. Identification of dual functions of this molecule provides an additional level of complexity in T cell costimulation.
HSCs differ during ontogeny in some important parameters, including anatomic site of residence and cell cycling characteristics. In this issue of the JCI, Bowie et al. show that postnatal HSCs as well as fetal liver HSCs in mice are active in the cell cycle at much higher rates than that of adult HSCs; however, this increased frequency of cycling abruptly ceases 4 weeks after birth (see the related article beginning on page 2808). The cycling postnatal HSCs expressed high levels of CXC chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12, also known as stromal cell–derived factor 1 [SDF-1]), a chemokine previously implicated in stem cell trafficking to the marrow cavity and shown to be expressed by cells within the hematopoietic microenvironment. These cells also possessed an engraftment defect impeding reconstitution in irradiated recipient mice, which was reversible by pretransplant administration of antagonists of the CXCL12 receptor, CXCR4. Such agents are currently clinically available, suggesting that this approach could be used to improve stem cell transplantation and engraftment.
Pulmonary surfactant proteins and lipids are required for lung function after birth. Lung immaturity and resultant surfactant deficiency cause respiratory distress syndrome, a common disorder contributing to morbidity and mortality in preterm infants. Surfactant synthesis increases prior to birth in association with formation of the alveoli that mediate efficient gas exchange. To identify mechanisms controlling perinatal lung maturation, the Calcineurin b1 (Cnb1) gene was deleted in the respiratory epithelium of the fetal mouse. Deletion of Cnb1 caused respiratory failure after birth and inhibited the structural maturation of the peripheral lung. Synthesis of surfactant and a lamellar body–associated protein, ABC transporter A3 (ABCA3), was decreased prior to birth. Nuclear factor of activated T cells (Nfat) calcineurin-dependent 3 (Nfatc3), a transcription factor modulated by calcineurin, was identified as a direct activator of Sftpa, Sftpb, Sftpc, Abca3, Foxa1, and Foxa2 genes. The calcineurin/Nfat pathway controls the morphologic maturation of lungs prior to birth and regulates expression of genes involved in surfactant homeostasis that are critical for adaptation to air breathing.
Inhibitors of VEGF signaling can block angiogenesis and reduce tumor vascularity, but little is known about the reversibility of these changes after treatment ends. In the present study, regrowth of blood vessels in spontaneous RIP-Tag2 tumors and implanted Lewis lung carcinomas in mice was assessed after inhibition of VEGF receptor signaling by AG-013736 or AG-028262 for 7 days. Both agents caused loss of 50%–60% of tumor vasculature. Empty sleeves of basement membrane were left behind. Pericytes also survived but had less α–SMA immunoreactivity. One day after drug withdrawal, endothelial sprouts grew into empty sleeves of basement membrane. Vessel patency and connection to the bloodstream followed close behind. By 7 days, tumors were fully revascularized, and the pericyte phenotype returned to baseline. Importantly, the regrown vasculature regressed as much during a second treatment as it did in the first. Inhibition of MMPs or targeting of type IV collagen cryptic sites by antibody HUIV26 did not eliminate the sleeves or slow revascularization. These results suggest that empty sleeves of basement membrane and accompanying pericytes provide a scaffold for rapid revascularization of tumors after removal of anti-VEGF therapy and highlight their importance as potential targets in cancer therapy.
Ectopic expression of CC chemokine ligand 21 (CCL21) in the thyroid leads to development of lymphoid structures that resemble those observed in Hashimoto thyroiditis. Deletion of the inhibitor of differentiation 2 (Id2) gene, essential for generation of CD3–CD4+ lymphoid tissue–inducer (LTi) cells and development of secondary lymphoid organs, did not affect formation of tertiary lymphoid structures. Rather, mature CD3+CD4+ T cells were critical for the development of tertiary lymphoid structures. The initial stages of this process involved interaction of CD3+CD4+ T cells with DCs, the appearance of peripheral-node addressin–positive (PNAd+) vessels, and production of chemokines that recruit lymphocytes and DCs. These findings indicate that the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures does not require Id2-dependent conventional LTis but depends on a program initiated by mature CD3+CD4+ T cells.
Tyrosine kinases play a central role in the activation of signal transduction pathways and cellular responses that mediate the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Imatinib mesylate (imatinib) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed to treat Bcr/Abl-expressing leukemias and subsequently found to treat c-Kit–expressing gastrointestinal stromal tumors. We demonstrate that imatinib potently prevents and treats murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). We further show that micromolar concentrations of imatinib abrogate multiple signal transduction pathways implicated in RA pathogenesis, including mast cell c-Kit signaling and TNF-α release, macrophage c-Fms activation and cytokine production, and fibroblast PDGFR signaling and proliferation. In our studies, imatinib attenuated PDGFR signaling in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) and TNF-α production in synovial fluid mononuclear cells (SFMCs) derived from human RA patients. Imatinib-mediated inhibition of a spectrum of signal transduction pathways and the downstream pathogenic cellular responses may provide a powerful approach to treat RA and other inflammatory diseases.
We studied the vascular effects of invasive human cytotrophoblasts in vivo by transplanting placental villi to the fifth mammary fat pads or beneath the kidney capsules of Scid mice. Over 3 weeks, robust cytotrophoblast invasion was observed in both locations. The architecture of the mammary fat pad allowed for detailed analysis of the cells’ interactions with resident murine blood vessels, which revealed specific induction of apoptosis in the endothelial cells and smooth muscle walls of the arterioles. This finding, and confirmation of the results in an in vitro coculture model, suggests that a parallel process is important for enabling cytotrophoblast endovascular invasion during human pregnancy. Cytotrophoblast invasion of the kidney parenchyma was accompanied by a robust lymphangiogenic response, while in vitro, the cells stimulated lymphatic endothelial cell migration via the actions of VEGF family members, FGF, and TNF-α. Immunolocalization analyses revealed that human pregnancy is associated with lymphangiogenesis in the decidua since lymphatic vessels were not a prominent feature of the nonpregnant endometrium. Thus, the placenta triggers the development of a decidual lymphatic circulation, which we theorize plays an important role in maintaining fluid balance during pregnancy, with possible implications for maternal-fetal immune cell trafficking.
Adrenomedullin (AM) is a multifunctional peptide vasodilator that is essential for life. Plasma AM expression dramatically increases during pregnancy, and alterations in its levels are associated with complications of pregnancy including fetal growth restriction (FGR) and preeclampsia. Using AM+/– female mice with genetically reduced AM expression, we demonstrate that fetal growth and placental development are seriously compromised by this modest decrease in expression. AM+/– female mice had reduced fertility characterized by FGR. The incidence of FGR was also influenced by the genotype of the embryo, since AM–/– embryos were more often affected than either AM+/– or AM+/+ embryos. We demonstrate that fetal trophoblast cells and the maternal uterine wall have coordinated and localized increases in AM gene expression at the time of implantation. Placentas from growth-restricted embryos showed defects in trophoblast cell invasion, similar to defects that underlie human preeclampsia and placenta accreta. Our data provide a genetic in vivo model to implicate both maternal and, to a lesser extent, embryonic levels of AM in the processes of implantation, placentation, and subsequent fetal growth. This study provides the first genetic evidence to our knowledge to suggest that a modest reduction in human AM expression during pregnancy may have an unfavorable impact on reproduction.
Kennedy disease, a degenerative disorder characterized by androgen-dependent neuromuscular weakness, is caused by a CAG/glutamine tract expansion in the androgen receptor (Ar) gene. We developed a mouse model of Kennedy disease, using gene targeting to convert mouse androgen receptor (AR) to human sequence while introducing 113 glutamines. AR113Q mice developed hormone and glutamine length–dependent neuromuscular weakness characterized by the early occurrence of myopathic and neurogenic skeletal muscle pathology and by the late development of neuronal intranuclear inclusions in spinal neurons. AR113Q males unexpectedly died at 2–4 months. We show that this androgen-dependent death reflects decreased expression of skeletal muscle chloride channel 1 (CLCN1) and the skeletal muscle sodium channel α-subunit, resulting in myotonic discharges in skeletal muscle of the lower urinary tract. AR113Q limb muscles show similar myopathic features and express decreased levels of mRNAs encoding neurotrophin-4 and glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor. These data define an important myopathic contribution to the Kennedy disease phenotype and suggest a role for muscle in non–cell autonomous toxicity of lower motor neurons.
High levels of microphthalmia transcription factor (MITF) expression have been described in several cell types, including melanocytes, mast cells, and osteoclasts. MITF plays a pivotal role in the regulation of specific genes in these cells. Although its mRNA has been found to be present in relatively high levels in the heart, its cardiac role has never been explored. Here we show that a specific heart isoform of MITF is expressed in cardiomyocytes and can be induced by β-adrenergic stimulation but not by paired box gene 3 (PAX3), the regulator of the melanocyte MITF isoform. In 2 mouse strains with different MITF mutations, heart weight/body weight ratio was decreased as was the hypertrophic response to β-adrenergic stimulation. These mice also demonstrated a tendency to sudden death following β-adrenergic stimulation. Most impressively, 15-month-old MITF-mutated mice had greatly decreased heart weight/body weight ratio, systolic function, and cardiac output. In contrast with normal mice, in the MITF-mutated mice, β-adrenergic stimulation failed to induce B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), an important modulator of cardiac hypertrophy, while atrial natriuretic peptide levels and phosphorylated Akt were increased, suggesting a cardiac stress response. In addition, cardiomyocytes cultured with siRNA against MITF showed a substantial decrease in BNP promoter activity. Thus, for what we believe is the first time, we have demonstrated that MITF plays an essential role in β-adrenergic–induced cardiac hypertrophy.
Acute T cell–mediated diarrhea is associated with increased mucosal expression of proinflammatory cytokines, including the TNF superfamily members TNF and LIGHT. While we have previously shown that epithelial barrier dysfunction induced by myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) is required for the development of diarrhea, MLCK inhibition does not completely restore water absorption. In contrast, although TNF-neutralizing antibodies completely restore water absorption after systemic T cell activation, barrier function is only partially corrected. This suggests that, while barrier dysfunction is critical, other processes must be involved in T cell–mediated diarrhea. To define these processes in vivo, we asked whether individual cytokines might regulate different events in T cell–mediated diarrhea. Both TNF and LIGHT caused MLCK-dependent barrier dysfunction. However, while TNF caused diarrhea, LIGHT enhanced intestinal water absorption. Moreover, TNF, but not LIGHT, inhibited Na+ absorption due to TNF-induced internalization of the brush border Na+/H+ exchanger NHE3. LIGHT did not cause NHE3 internalization. PKCα activation by TNF was responsible for NHE3 internalization, and pharmacological or genetic PKCα inhibition prevented NHE3 internalization, Na+ malabsorption, and diarrhea despite continued barrier dysfunction. These data demonstrate the necessity of coordinated Na+ malabsorption and barrier dysfunction in TNF-induced diarrhea and provide insight into mechanisms of intestinal water transport.
EGFR is frequently mutated and amplified in lung adenocarcinomas sensitive to EGFR inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib. A secondary mutation, T790M, has been associated with acquired resistance but has not been shown to be sufficient to render EGFR mutant/amplified lung cancers resistant to EGFR inhibitors. We created a model for studying acquired resistance to gefitinib by prolonged exposure of a gefitinib-sensitive lung carcinoma cell line (H3255; EGFR mutated and amplified) to gefitinib in vitro. The resulting resistant cell line acquired a T790M mutation in a small fraction of the amplified alleles that was undetected by direct sequencing and identified only by a highly sensitive HPLC-based technique. In gefitinib-sensitive lung cancer cells with EGFR mutations and amplifications, exogenous introduction of EGFR T790M effectively conferred resistance to gefitinib and continued ErbB-3/PI3K/Akt signaling when in cis to an activating mutation. Moreover, continued activation of PI3K signaling by the PIK3CA oncogenic mutant, p110α E545K, was sufficient to abrogate gefitinib-induced apoptosis. These findings suggest that allelic dilution of biologically significant resistance mutations may go undetected by direct sequencing in cancers with amplified oncogenes and that restoration of PI3K activation via either a T790M mutation or other mechanisms can provide resistance to gefitinib.
We previously identified a rearrangement of mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene (also known as ALL-1, HRX, and HTRX1), consisting of an in-frame partial tandem duplication (PTD) of exons 5 through 11 in the absence of a partner gene, occurring in approximately 4%–7% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and normal cytogenetics, and associated with a poor prognosis. The mechanism by which the MLL PTD contributes to aberrant hematopoiesis and/or leukemia is unknown. To examine this, we generated a mouse knockin model in which exons 5 through 11 of the murine Mll gene were targeted to intron 4 of the endogenous Mll locus. MllPTD/WT mice exhibit an alteration in the boundaries of normal homeobox (Hox) gene expression during embryogenesis, resulting in axial skeletal defects and increased numbers of hematopoietic progenitor cells. MllPTD/WT mice overexpress Hoxa7, Hoxa9, and Hoxa10 in spleen, BM, and blood. An increase in histone H3/H4 acetylation and histone H3 lysine 4 (Lys4) methylation within the Hoxa7 and Hoxa9 promoters provides an epigenetic mechanism by which this overexpression occurs in vivo and an etiologic role for MLL PTD gain of function in the genesis of AML.
Defects in purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) enzyme activity result in abnormal nucleoside homeostasis, severe T cell immunodeficiency, neurological dysfunction, and early death. Protein transduction domain (PTD) can transfer molecules into cells and may help restore PNP activity in cases of PNP deficiency. However, long-term use of PTD to replace enzymes in animal models or patients has not previously been described. We fused human PNP to the HIV-TAT PTD and found that the fusion with TAT changed the retention and distribution of PNP in PNP-deficient mice. TAT induced rapid intracellular delivery of PNP into tissues, including the brain, prevented urinary excretion of PNP, and protected PNP from neutralizing antibodies, resulting in significant extension of the enzyme’s biological activity in vivo. Frequent TAT-PNP injections in PNP-deficient mice corrected the metabolic disorder and immune defects with no apparent toxicity. TAT-PNP remained effective over 24 weeks of treatment, resulting in continued improvement in immune function and extended survival. Our data demonstrate that TAT changes the properties of PNP in vivo and that long-term intracellular delivery of PNP by TAT corrects PNP deficiency in mice. We provide evidence to promote further use of PTD to treat diseases that require repeated intracellular enzyme or protein delivery.
Tight regulation of COX-2 expression is a key feature controlling eicosanoid production in atherosclerosis and other inflammatory syndromes. Adhesive interactions between platelets and monocytes occur in these conditions and deliver specific signals that trigger inflammatory gene expression. Using a cellular model of monocyte signaling induced by activated human platelets, we identified the central posttranscriptional mechanisms that regulate timing and magnitude of COX-2 expression. Tethering of monocytes to platelets and to purified P-selectin, a key adhesion molecule displayed by activated platelets, induces NF-κB activation and COX-2 promoter activity. Nevertheless, COX-2 mRNA is rapidly degraded, leading to aborted protein synthesis. Time-dependent signaling of monocytes induces a second phase of transcript accumulation accompanied by COX-2 enzyme synthesis and eicosanoid production. Here, generation of IL-1β, a proinflammatory cytokine, promoted stabilization of COX-2 mRNA by silencing of the AU-rich mRNA decay element (ARE) in the 3′-untranslated region (3'UTR) of the mRNA. Consistent with observed mRNA stabilization, activated platelets or IL-1β treatment induced cytoplasmic accumulation and enhanced ARE binding of the mRNA stability factor HuR in monocytes. These findings demonstrate that activated platelets induce COX-2 synthesis in monocytes by combinatorial signaling to transcriptional and posttranscriptional checkpoints. These checkpoints may be altered in disease and therefore useful as targets for antiinflammatory intervention.
In this study we investigated why bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense cross human brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs), a human blood-brain barrier (BBB) model system, at much greater efficiency than do T. b. brucei. After noting that T. b. gambiense displayed higher levels of cathepsin L–like cysteine proteases, we investigated whether these enzymes contribute to parasite crossing. First, we found that T. b. gambiense crossing of human BMECs was abrogated by N-methylpiperazine-urea-Phe-homopheylalanine-vinylsulfone-benzene (K11777), an irreversible inhibitor of cathepsin L–like cysteine proteases. Affinity labeling and immunochemical studies characterized brucipain as the K11777-sensitive cysteine protease expressed at higher levels by T. b. gambiense. K11777-treated T. b. gambiense failed to elicit calcium fluxes in BMECs, suggesting that generation of activation signals for the BBB is critically dependant on brucipain activity. Strikingly, crossing of T. b. brucei across the BBB was enhanced upon incubation with brucipain-rich supernatants derived from T. b. gambiense. The effects of the conditioned medium, which correlated with ability to evoke calcium fluxes, were canceled by K11777, but not by the cathepsin B inhibitor CA074. Collectively, these in vitro studies implicate brucipain as a critical driver of T. b. gambiense transendothelial migration of the human BBB.
Mast cells are involved in many disorders where the triggering mechanism that leads to degranulation and/or cytokine secretion has not been defined. Several chronic inflammatory diseases are associated with increased mast cell numbers and upregulation of the TNF receptor family member CD30, but the role of elevated CD30 expression is poorly understood. Here we report what we believe to be a novel way to activate mast cells with CD30 that leads to degranulation-independent secretion of chemokines. CD30 induced a de novo synthesis and secretion of the chemokines IL-8, macrophage inflammatory protein-1α (MIP-1α), and MIP-1β, a process involving the MAPK/ERK pathway. Mast cells were found to be the predominant CD30 ligand–positive (CD30L-positive) cell in the chronic inflammatory skin diseases psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, and both CD30 and CD30L expression were upregulated in lesional skin in these conditions. Furthermore, the number of IL-8–positive mast cells was elevated both in psoriatic and atopic dermatitis lesional skin as well as in ex vivo CD30-treated healthy skin organ cultures. In summary, characterization of CD30 activation of mast cells has uncovered an IgE-independent pathway that is of importance in understanding the entirety of the role of mast cells in diseases associated with mast cells and CD30 expression. These diseases include Hodgkin lymphoma, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Transgenic mice overexpressing PKCα in the epidermis (K5-PKCα mice) exhibit an inducible severe intraepidermal neutrophilic inflammation and systemic neutrophilia when PKCα is activated by topical 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). This inducible model of cutaneous inflammation was used to define mediators of skin inflammation that may have clinical relevance. Activation of cutaneous PKCα increased the production of the chemotactic factors cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant (KC) and macrophage inflammatory protein 2 (MIP-2) in murine plasma. TPA treatment of cultured K5-PKCα keratinocytes also released KC and MIP-2 into culture supernatants through an NF-κB–dependent pathway. MIP-2 and KC mediated the infiltration of neutrophils into the epidermis, since this was prevented by ablating CXCR2 in K5-PKCα mice or administering neutralizing antibodies against KC or MIP-2. The neutrophilia resulted from PKCα-mediated upregulation of cutaneous G-CSF released into the plasma independent of CXCR2. These responses could be inhibited by topical treatment with a PKCα-selective inhibitor. Inhibiting PKCα also reduced the basal and TNF-α– or TPA-induced expression of CXCL8 in cultured psoriatic keratinocytes, suggesting that PKCα activity may contribute to psoriatic inflammation. Thus, skin can be the source of circulating factors that have both local and systemic consequences, and these factors, their receptors, and possibly PKCα could be therapeutic targets for inhibition of cutaneous inflammation.
Scavenger receptor SR-BI has been implicated in HDL-dependent atheroprotective mechanisms. We report the generation of an SR-BI conditional knockout mouse model in which SR-BI gene targeting by loxP site insertion produced a hypomorphic allele (hypomSR-BI). Attenuated SR-BI expression in hypomSR-BI mice resulted in 2-fold elevation in plasma total cholesterol (TC) levels. Cre-mediated SR-BI gene inactivation of the hypomorphic SR-BI allele in hepatocytes (hypomSR-BI–KOliver) was associated with high plasma TC concentrations, increased plasma free cholesterol/TC (FC/TC) ratio, and a lipoprotein-cholesterol profile typical of SR-BI–/– mice. Plasma TC levels were increased 2-fold in hypomSR-BI and control mice fed an atherogenic diet, whereas hypomSR-BI–KOliver and SR-BI–/– mice developed severe hypercholesterolemia due to accumulation of FC-rich, VLDL-sized particles. Atherosclerosis in hypomSR-BI mice was enhanced (2.5-fold) compared with that in controls, but to a much lower degree than in hypomSR-BI–KOliver (32-fold) and SR-BI–/– (48-fold) mice. The latter models did not differ in either plasma lipid levels or in the capacity of VLDL-sized lipoproteins to induce macrophage cholesterol loading. However, reduced atherosclerosis in hypomSR-BI–KOliver mice was associated with decreased lesional macrophage content as compared with that in SR-BI–/– mice. These data imply that, in addition to its major atheroprotective role in liver, SR-BI may exert an antiatherogenic role in extrahepatic tissues.
Active suppression of tumor-specific T lymphocytes can limit the efficacy of immune surveillance and immunotherapy. While tumor-recruited CD11b+ myeloid cells are known mediators of tumor-associated immune dysfunction, the true nature of these suppressive cells and the fine biochemical pathways governing their immunosuppressive activity remain elusive. Here we describe a population of circulating CD11b+IL-4 receptor α+ (CD11b+IL-4Rα+), inflammatory-type monocytes that is elicited by growing tumors and activated by IFN-γ released from T lymphocytes. CD11b+IL-4Rα+ cells produced IL-13 and IFN-γ and integrated the downstream signals of these cytokines to trigger the molecular pathways suppressing antigen-activated CD8+ T lymphocytes. Analogous immunosuppressive circuits were active in CD11b+ cells present within the tumor microenvironment. These suppressor cells challenge the current idea that tumor-conditioned immunosuppressive monocytes/macrophages are alternatively activated. Moreover, our data show how the inflammatory response elicited by tumors had detrimental effects on the adaptive immune system and suggest novel approaches for the treatment of tumor-induced immune dysfunctions.
Obesity is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation. Thus, at metabolically relevant sites, including adipose tissue and muscle, there is abnormal production of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α. Here we demonstrate that eNOS expression was reduced, with a concomitant reduction of mitochondrial biogenesis and function, in white and brown adipose tissue and in the soleus muscle of 3 different animal models of obesity. The genetic deletion of TNF receptor 1 in obese mice restored eNOS expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in fat and muscle; this was associated with less body weight gain than in obese wild-type controls. Furthermore, TNF-α downregulated eNOS expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in cultured white and brown adipocytes and muscle satellite cells of mice. The NO donors DETA-NO and SNAP prevented the reduction of mitochondrial biogenesis observed with TNF-α. Our findings demonstrate that TNF-α impairs mitochondrial biogenesis and function in different tissues of obese rodents by downregulating eNOS expression and suggest a novel pathophysiological process that sustains obesity.
Increasing multidrug resistance in Enterococcus faecalis, a nosocomial opportunist and common cause of bacterial endocarditis, emphasizes the need for alternative therapeutic approaches such as immunotherapy or immunoprophylaxis. In an earlier study, we demonstrated the presence of antibodies in E. faecalis endocarditis patient sera to recombinant forms of 9 E. faecalis cell wall–anchored proteins; of these, we have now characterized an in vivo–expressed locus of 3 genes and an associated sortase gene (encoding sortase C; SrtC). Here, using mutation analyses and complementation, we demonstrated that both the ebp (encoding endocarditis and biofilm-associated pili) operon and srtC are important for biofilm production of E. faecalis strain OG1RF. In addition, immunogold electron microscopy using antisera against EbpA–EbpC proteins as well as patient serum demonstrated that E. faecalis produces pleomorphic surface pili. Assembly of pili and their cell wall attachment appeared to occur via a mechanism of cross-linking of the Ebp proteins by the designated SrtC. Importantly, a nonpiliated, allelic replacement mutant was significantly attenuated in an endocarditis model. These biologically important surface pili, which are antigenic in humans during endocarditis and encoded by a ubiquitous E. faecalis operon, may be a useful immunotarget for studies aimed at prevention and/or treatment of this pathogen.
The regulation of HSC proliferation and engraftment of the BM is an important but poorly understood process, particularly during ontogeny. Here we show that in mice, all HSCs are cycling until 3 weeks after birth. Then, within 1 week, most became quiescent. Prior to 4 weeks of age, the proliferating HSCs with long-term multilineage repopulating activity displayed an engraftment defect when transiting S/G2/M. During these cell cycle phases, their expression of CXC chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12; also referred to as stromal cell–derived factor 1 [SDF-1]) transiently increased. The defective engrafting activity of HSCs in S/G2/M was reversed when cells were allowed to progress into G1 prior to injection or when the hosts (but not the cells) were pretreated with a CXCL12 antagonist. Interestingly, the enhancing effect of CXCL12 antagonist pretreatment was exclusive to transplants of long-term multilineage repopulating HSCs in S/G2/M. These results demonstrate what we believe to be a new HSC regulatory checkpoint during development. They also suggest an ability of HSCs to express CXCL12 in a fashion that changes with cell cycle progression and is associated with a defective engraftment that can be overcome by in vivo administration of a CXCL12 antagonist.
T cell activation by APCs is positively and negatively regulated by members of the B7 family. We have identified a previously unknown function for B7 family–related protein V-set and Ig domain–containing 4 (VSIG4). In vitro experiments using VSIG4-Ig fusion molecules showed that VSIG4 is a strong negative regulator of murine and human T cell proliferation and IL-2 production. Administration to mice of soluble VSIG4-Ig fusion molecules reduced the induction of T cell responses in vivo and inhibited the production of Th cell–dependent IgG responses. Unlike that of B7 family members, surface expression of VSIG4 was restricted to resting tissue macrophages and absent upon activation by LPS or in autoimmune inflammatory foci. The specific expression of VSIG4 on resting macrophages in tissue suggests that this inhibitory ligand may be important for the maintenance of T cell unresponsiveness in healthy tissues.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation