As representatives of 50 leading academic medical centers focusing on clinical research and many of academic medicine’s scientific leaders, the Clinical Research Forum and Association of American Physicians disagree with the JCI’s recent editorials on the NIH Roadmap, Elias Zerhouni’s leadership, and the future directions of biomedical research.
The epidemic scourge of rickets in the 19th century was caused by vitamin D deficiency due to inadequate sun exposure and resulted in growth retardation, muscle weakness, skeletal deformities, hypocalcemia, tetany, and seizures. The encouragement of sensible sun exposure and the fortification of milk with vitamin D resulted in almost complete eradication of the disease. Vitamin D (where D represents D2 or D3) is biologically inert and metabolized in the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the major circulating form of vitamin D that is used to determine vitamin D status. 25(OH)D is activated in the kidneys to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], which regulates calcium, phosphorus, and bone metabolism. Vitamin D deficiency has again become an epidemic in children, and rickets has become a global health issue. In addition to vitamin D deficiency, calcium deficiency and acquired and inherited disorders of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus metabolism cause rickets. This review summarizes the role of vitamin D in the prevention of rickets and its importance in the overall health and welfare of infants and children.
Gout is an autoinflammatory disorder associated with deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in joints and periarticular tissues. Recent advances suggest that the innate immune system may drive the gouty inflammatory response to MSU. These findings prompt questions concerning how the innate immune system recognizes MSU and the identities of the receptors involved. In this issue of the JCI, Chen et al. show that the IL-1 receptor and its signaling protein myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 (MyD88) but not the “classical” innate immune receptors, TLRs, are central for MSU-induced inflammation (see the related article beginning on page 2262).
In this issue of the JCI, a study by Cauwels and colleagues suggests a central role for eNOS, the endothelial isoform of nitric oxide synthase, as a mediator of anaphylaxis (see the related article beginning on page 2244). Why is an enzyme originally described as a physiological mediator of vascular homeostasis implicated in the spectacular vascular collapse that is characteristic of anaphylaxis? And is the eNOS involved in anaphylaxis necessarily exerting its effect solely in the vascular endothelium, or might this “endothelial enzyme” actually be playing a more fundamental role in an entirely different tissue? After all, what’s in a name?
AIDS is characterized by CD4+ T lymphocyte depletion, yet the mechanisms underlying this central aspect of HIV pathogenesis are still poorly understood. In this issue of the JCI, Espert et al. identify a mechanism by which the HIV envelope glycoprotein can induce death in uninfected CD4+ T cells (see the related article beginning on page 2161). The HIV envelope glycoprotein interacts with CXC chemokine receptor 4 to activate the lysosomal degradation pathway of autophagy, which is necessary for both apoptotic and nonapoptotic cell death.
Negative or inhibitory costimulatory pathways regulate T cell activation and play a role in peripheral tolerance. Targeting these pathways harnesses the physiologic mechanisms of regulating autoimmunity and could prove beneficial for the therapy of autoimmune diseases. However, attempts at targeting these pathways have been fraught with difficulties. In this issue of the JCI, Fife et al. describe a creative approach for targeting CTL-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) on activated T cells via genetically engineered B cells to prevent autoimmune diabetes in the NOD mouse (see the related article beginning on page 2252). Novel “designer” strategies targeting negative costimulatory pathways provide reasons for optimism in the search for a cure for devastating autoimmune diseases.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease unique to humans. In this issue of the JCI, 2 studies of very different mouse models of psoriasis both report that macrophages play a key role in inducing psoriasis-like skin disease. Psoriasis is clearly a polygenic, inherited disease of uncontrolled cutaneous inflammation. The debate that currently rages in the field is whether psoriasis is a disease of autoreactive T cells or whether it reflects an intrinsic defect within the skin — or both. However, these questions have proven difficult to dissect using molecular genetic tools. In the current studies, the authors have used 2 different animal models to address the role of macrophages in disease pathogenesis: Wang et al. use a mouse model in which inflammation is T cell dependent, whereas the model used by Stratis et al. is T cell independent (see the related articles beginning on pages 2105 and 2094, respectively). Strikingly, both groups report an important contribution by macrophages, implying that macrophages can contribute to both epithelial-based and T cell–mediated pathways of inflammation.
Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamide) is a lipid signal molecule that was the first endogenous agonist for cannabinoid receptors to be discovered. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) is widely distributed in neurons and nonneuronal cells in brain and peripheral organs including sperm, eggs, and preimplantation embryos. A study by Wang and colleagues in this issue of the JCI demonstrates that a critical balance between anandamide synthesis by N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine–selective phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD) and its degradation by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in mouse embryos and oviducts creates locally an appropriate “anandamide tone” required for normal embryo development, oviductal transport, implantation, and pregnancy (see the related article beginning on page 2122). Adverse effects of elevated levels of anandamide on these processes resulting from FAAH inactivation are mimicked by administration of (-)-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; the major psychoactive constituent of marijuana), due to enhanced signaling via CB1. These findings show that exogenous THC can swamp endogenous anandamide signaling systems, thereby affecting multiple physiological processes.
The glomerular capillaries function as the filtration barrier that retains albumin and other plasma proteins in the circulation. The unresolved question that has been asked for more than 50 years is, Which structural component of these capillaries constitutes the main molecular sieve that normally retains albumin and allows its passage in diseases associated with proteinuria? There is considerable evidence implicating both the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) and the epithelial filtration slits as the barrier. However, the prevailing point of view at present is that the slit diaphragms bridging the filtration slits are responsible for this important function, and evidence implicating the GBM is largely ignored or forgotten. In this issue of the JCI, Jarad et al. show that in laminin β2–deficient (Lamb2–/–) mice, proteinuria can be directly attributed to the altered composition of the GBM (see the related article beginning on page 2272). Changes in the permeability of the GBM and its organization were primary to changes in the epithelium, as they preceded foot process effacement and loss of slit diaphragms.
Psoriasis is a common skin disease, the pathogenesis of which has not yet been resolved. In mice, epidermis-specific deletion of inhibitor of NF-κB (IκB) kinase 2 (IKK2) results in a skin phenotype that mimics human psoriasis in several aspects. Like psoriasis, this skin disease shows pronounced improvement when mice are treated with a TNF-neutralizing agent. We have found previously that this phenotype does not depend on the presence of αβ T lymphocytes. In order to evaluate contributions of other immune cell populations to the skin disease, we selectively eliminated macrophages and granulocytes from the skin of mice with epidermis-specific deletion of IKK2 (K14-Cre-IKK2fl/fl mice). Elimination of skin macrophages by subcutaneous injection of clodronate liposomes was accompanied by inhibition of granulocyte migration into the skin and resulted in a dramatic attenuation of psoriasis-like skin changes. The hyperproliferative, inflammatory skin disease in K14-Cre-IKK2fl/fl mice was a direct consequence of the presence of macrophages in the skin, as targeted deletion of CD18, which prevented accumulation of granulocytes but not macrophages, did not lead to major changes in the phenotype. Targeted deletion of the receptor for IFN-γ revealed that the pathogenesis of the skin disease does not depend on classical IFN-γ–mediated macrophage activation. Our results demonstrate that in mice epidermal keratinocytes can initiate a hyperproliferative, inflammatory, IFN-γ–independent, psoriasis-like skin disease whose development requires essential contributions from skin macrophages but not from granulocytes or αβ T lymphocytes.
The CD18 hypomorphic (CD18hypo) PL/J mouse model clinically resembling human psoriasis is characterized by reduced expression of the common chain of β2 integrins (CD11/CD18) to only 2–16% of WT levels. Previously we found that this chronic psoriasiform skin inflammation also depends on the presence of CD4+ T cells. Herein we investigated the role of macrophages in this CD18hypo mouse model. Activated macrophages were significantly increased in lesional skin as well as in inflamed skin draining lymph nodes (DLNs) of affected CD18hypo mice and were identified as being an important source of TNF-α in vivo. Both depletion of macrophages and neutralization of TNF-α resulted in a significant alleviation of psoriasiform skin inflammation. As monocyte chemotactic protein 1 was enhanced in lesional skin of affected CD18hypo mice, we intradermally injected recombinant murine monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (rJE/MCP-1) alone or in combination with rTNF-α into the skin of healthy CD18hypo mice. Only simultaneous injection of rJE/MCP-1 and rTNF-α, but neither substance alone, resulted in the induction of psoriasiform skin inflammation around the injection sites with recruitment and activation of macrophages. Collectively, our data suggest that maintenance of psoriasiform skin inflammation critically depends on efficient recruitment and activation of macrophages with sufficient release of TNF-α.
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is caused by the production of a truncated prelamin A, called progerin, which is farnesylated at its carboxyl terminus. Progerin is targeted to the nuclear envelope and causes misshapen nuclei. Protein farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTI) mislocalize progerin away from the nuclear envelope and reduce the frequency of misshapen nuclei. To determine whether an FTI would ameliorate disease phenotypes in vivo, we created gene-targeted mice with an HGPS mutation (LmnaHG/+) and then examined the effect of an FTI on disease phenotypes. LmnaHG/+ mice exhibited phenotypes similar to those in human HGPS patients, including retarded growth, reduced amounts of adipose tissue, micrognathia, osteoporosis, and osteolytic lesions in bone. Osteolytic lesions in the ribs led to spontaneous bone fractures. Treatment with an FTI increased adipose tissue mass, improved body weight curves, reduced the number of rib fractures, and improved bone mineralization and bone cortical thickness. These studies suggest that FTIs could be useful for treating humans with HGPS.
Synchronized preimplantation embryo development and passage through the oviduct into the uterus are prerequisites for implantation, dysregulation of which often leads to pregnancy failure in women. Cannabinoid/endocannabinoid signaling via cannabinoid receptor CB1 is known to influence early pregnancy. Here we provide evidence that a critical balance between anandamide synthesis by N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine–selective phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD) and its degradation by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in mouse embryos and oviducts creates locally an appropriate “anandamide tone” for normal development of embryos and their oviductal transport. FAAH inactivation yielding higher anandamide or experimentally induced higher cannabinoid [(-)-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol] levels constrain preimplantation embryo development with aberrant expression of Cdx2, Nanog, and Oct3/4, genes known to direct lineage specification. Defective oviductal embryo transport arising from aberrant endocannabinoid signaling also led to deferred on-time implantation and poor pregnancy outcome. Intercrossing between wild-type and Faah–/– mice rescued developmental defects, not oviductal transport, implying that embryonic and maternal FAAH plays differential roles in these processes. The results suggest that FAAH is a key metabolic gatekeeper, regulating on-site anandamide tone to direct preimplantation events that determine the fate of pregnancy. This study uncovers what we believe to be a novel regulation of preimplantation processes, which could be clinically relevant for fertility regulation in women.
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are associated with tumor progression and metastasis. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that legumain, a member of the asparaginyl endopeptidase family functioning as a stress protein, overexpressed by TAMs, provides an ideal target molecule. In fact, a legumain-based DNA vaccine served as a tool to prove this point, as it induced a robust CD8+ T cell response against TAMs, which dramatically reduced their density in tumor tissues and resulted in a marked decrease in proangiogenic factors released by TAMs such as TGF-β, TNF-α, MMP-9, and VEGF. This, in turn, led to a suppression of both tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth and metastasis. Importantly, the success of this strategy was demonstrated in murine models of metastatic breast, colon, and non–small cell lung cancers, where 75% of vaccinated mice survived lethal tumor cell challenges and 62% were completely free of metastases. In conclusion, decreasing the number of TAMs in the tumor stroma effectively altered the tumor microenvironment involved in tumor angiogenesis and progression to markedly suppress tumor growth and metastasis. Gaining better insights into the mechanisms required for an effective intervention in tumor growth and metastasis may ultimately lead to new therapeutic targets and better anticancer strategies.
The neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn) plays a major role in regulating host IgG levels and transporting IgG and associated antigens across polarized epithelial barriers. Selective expression of FcRn in the epithelium is shown here to be associated with secretion of IgG into the lumen that allows for defense against an epithelium-associated pathogen (Citrobacter rodentium). This pathway of host resistance to a bacterial pathogen as mediated by FcRn involves retrieval of bacterial antigens from the lumen and initiation of adaptive immune responses in regional lymphoid structures. Epithelial-associated FcRn, through its ability to secrete and absorb IgG, may thus integrate luminal antigen encounters with systemic immune compartments and as such provide essential host defense and immunoregulatory functions at the mucosal surfaces.
The pathogenesis of glucocorticoid-induced (GC-induced) bone loss is unclear. For example, osteoblast apoptosis is enhanced by GCs in vivo, but they stimulate bone formation in vitro. This conundrum suggests that an intermediary cell transmits a component of the bone-suppressive effects of GCs to osteoblasts in the intact animal. Bone remodeling is characterized by tethering of the activities of osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Hence, the osteoclast is a potential modulator of the effect of GCs on osteoblasts. To define the direct impact of GCs on bone-resorptive cells, we compared the effects of dexamethasone (DEX) on WT osteoclasts with those derived from mice with disruption of the GC receptor in osteoclast lineage cells (GRoc–/– mice). While the steroid prolonged longevity of osteoclasts, their bone-degrading capacity was suppressed. The inhibitory effect of DEX on bone resorption reflects failure of osteoclasts to organize their cytoskeleton in response to M-CSF. DEX specifically arrested M-CSF activation of RhoA, Rac, and Vav3, each of which regulate the osteoclast cytoskeleton. In all circumstances GRoc–/– mice were spared the impact of DEX on osteoclasts and their precursors. Consistent with osteoclasts modulating the osteoblast-suppressive effect of DEX, GRoc–/– mice are protected from the steroid’s inhibition of bone formation.
HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env), expressed at the cell surface, induce apoptosis of uninfected CD4+ T cells, contributing to the development of AIDS. Here we demonstrate that, independently of HIV replication, transfected or HIV-infected cells that express Env induced autophagy and accumulation of Beclin 1 in uninfected CD4+ T lymphocytes via CXCR4. The same phenomena occurred in a T cell line and in transfected HEK.293 cells that expressed both wild-type CXCR4 and a truncated form of CD4 that is unable to bind the lymphocyte-specific protein kinase Lck. Env-mediated autophagy is required to trigger CD4+ T cell apoptosis since blockade of autophagy at different steps, by either drugs (3-methyladenine and bafilomycin A1) or siRNAs specific for Beclin 1/Atg6 and Atg7 genes, totally inhibited the apoptotic process. Furthermore, CD4+ T cells still underwent Env-mediated cell death with autophagic features when apoptosis was inhibited. These results suggest that HIV-infected cells can induce autophagy in bystander CD4+ T lymphocytes through contact of Env with CXCR4, leading to apoptotic cell death, a mechanism most likely contributing to immunodeficiency.
Adenosine has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In vitro studies suggest that activation of the A2B adenosine receptor (A2BAR) results in proinflammatory and profibrotic effects relevant to the progression of lung diseases; however, in vivo data supporting these observations are lacking. Adenosine deaminase–deficient (ADA-deficient) mice develop pulmonary inflammation and injury that are dependent on increased lung adenosine levels. To investigate the role of the A2BAR in vivo, ADA-deficient mice were treated with the selective A2BAR antagonist CVT-6883, and pulmonary inflammation, fibrosis, and airspace integrity were assessed. Untreated and vehicle-treated ADA-deficient mice developed pulmonary inflammation, fibrosis, and enlargement of alveolar airspaces; conversely, CVT-6883–treated ADA-deficient mice showed less pulmonary inflammation, fibrosis, and alveolar airspace enlargement. A2BAR antagonism significantly reduced elevations in proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines as well as mediators of fibrosis and airway destruction. In addition, treatment with CVT-6883 attenuated pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis in wild-type mice subjected to bleomycin-induced lung injury. These findings suggest that A2BAR signaling influences pathways critical for pulmonary inflammation and injury in vivo. Thus in chronic lung diseases associated with increased adenosine, antagonism of A2BAR-mediated responses may prove to be a beneficial therapy.
The adipocyte fatty acid–binding protein aP2 regulates systemic glucose and lipid metabolism. We report that aP2, in addition to being abundantly expressed by adipocytes, is also expressed by human airway epithelial cells and shows a striking upregulation following stimulation of epithelial cells with the Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-13. Regulation of aP2 mRNA expression by Th2 cytokines was highly dependent on STAT6, a transcription factor with a major regulatory role in allergic inflammation. We examined aP2-deficient mice in a model of allergic airway inflammation and found that infiltration of leukocytes, especially eosinophils, into the airways was highly dependent on aP2 function. T cell priming was unaffected by aP2 deficiency, suggesting that aP2 was acting locally within the lung, and analysis of bone marrow chimeras implicated non-hematopoietic cells, most likely bronchial epithelial cells, as the site of action of aP2 in allergic airway inflammation. Thus, aP2 regulates allergic airway inflammation and may provide a link between fatty acid metabolism and asthma.
Acute lung injury (ALI), which is associated with a mortality of 30–40%, is attributable to inflammation that develops rapidly across the lung’s vast vascular surface, involving an entire lung or even both lungs. No specific mechanism explains this extensive inflammatory spread, probably because of the lack of approaches for detecting signal conduction in lung capillaries. Here, we addressed this question by applying the photolytic uncaging approach to induce focal increases in Ca2+ levels in targeted endothelial cells of alveolar capillaries. Uncaging caused Ca2+ levels to increase not only in the targeted cell, but also in vascular locations up to 150 μm from the target site, indicating that Ca2+ was conducted from the capillary to adjacent vessels. No such conduction was evident in mouse lungs lacking endothelial connexin 43 (Cx43), or in rat lungs in which we pretreated vessels with peptide inhibitors of Cx43. These findings provide the first direct evidence to our knowledge that interendothelial Ca2+ conduction occurs in the lung capillary bed and that Cx43-containing gap junctions mediate the conduction. A proinflammatory effect was evident in that induction of increases in Ca2+ levels in the capillary activated expression of the leukocyte adherence receptor P-selectin in venules. Further, peptide inhibitors of Cx43 completely blocked thrombin-induced microvascular permeability increases. Together, our findings reveal a novel role for Cx43-mediated gap junctions, namely as conduits for the spread of proinflammatory signals in the lung capillary bed. Gap junctional mechanisms require further consideration in the understanding of ALI.
Epidermal nevi are common congenital skin lesions with an incidence of 1 in 1,000 people; however, their genetic basis remains elusive. Germline mutations of the FGF receptor 3 (FGFR3) cause autosomal dominant skeletal disorders such as achondroplasia and thanatophoric dysplasia, which can be associated with acanthosis nigricans of the skin. Acanthosis nigricans and common epidermal nevi of the nonorganoid, nonepidermolytic type share some clinical and histological features. We used a SNaPshot multiplex assay to screen 39 epidermal nevi of this type of 33 patients for 11 activating FGFR3 point mutations. In addition, exon 19 of FGFR3 was directly sequenced. We identified activating FGFR3 mutations, almost exclusively at codon 248 (R248C), in 11 of 33 (33%) patients with nonorganoid, nonepidermolytic epidermal nevi. In 4 of these cases, samples from adjacent histologically normal skin could be analyzed, and FGFR3 mutations were found to be absent. Our results suggest that a large proportion of epidermal nevi are caused by a mosaicism of activating FGFR3 mutations in the human epidermis, secondary to a postzygotic mutation in early embryonic development. The R248C mutation appears to be a hot spot for FGFR3 mutations in epidermal nevi.
Recent studies have shown that nicotine, a component of cigarette smoke, can stimulate the proliferation of non-neuronal cells. While nicotine is not carcinogenic by itself, it has been shown to induce cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Here we find that mitogenic effects of nicotine in non–small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) are analogous to those of growth factors and involve activation of Src, induction of Rb–Raf-1 interaction, and phosphorylation of Rb. Analysis of human NSCLC tumors show enhanced levels of Rb–Raf-1 complexes compared with adjacent normal tissue. The mitogenic effects of nicotine were mediated via the α7-nAChR subunit and resulted in enhanced recruitment of E2F1 and Raf-1 on proliferative promoters in NSCLC cell lines and human lung tumors. Nicotine stimulation of NSCLC cells caused dissociation of Rb from these promoters. Proliferative signaling via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) required the scaffolding protein β-arrestin; ablation of β-arrestin or disruption of the Rb–Raf-1 interaction blocked nicotine-induced proliferation of NSCLCs. Additionally, suppression of β-arrestin also blocked activation of Src, suppressed levels of phosphorylated ERK, and abrogated Rb–Raf-1 binding in response to nicotine. It appears that nicotine induces cell proliferation by β-arrestin–mediated activation of the Src and Rb–Raf-1 pathways.
The carboxypeptidase ACE2 is a homologue of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). To clarify the physiological roles of ACE2, we generated mice with targeted disruption of the Ace2 gene. ACE2-deficient mice were viable, fertile, and lacked any gross structural abnormalities. We found normal cardiac dimensions and function in ACE2-deficient animals with mixed or inbred genetic backgrounds. On the C57BL/6 background, ACE2 deficiency was associated with a modest increase in blood pressure, whereas the absence of ACE2 had no effect on baseline blood pressures in 129/SvEv mice. After acute Ang II infusion, plasma concentrations of Ang II increased almost 3-fold higher in ACE2-deficient mice than in controls. In a model of Ang II–dependent hypertension, blood pressures were substantially higher in the ACE2-deficient mice than in WT. Severe hypertension in ACE2-deficient mice was associated with exaggerated accumulation of Ang II in the kidney, as determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Although the absence of functional ACE2 causes enhanced susceptibility to Ang II–induced hypertension, we found no evidence for a role of ACE2 in the regulation of cardiac structure or function. Our data suggest that ACE2 is a functional component of the renin-angiotensin system, metabolizing Ang II and thereby contributing to regulation of blood pressure.
Celiac disease is associated with HLA-DQ2 and, to a lesser extent, HLA-DQ8. Type 1 diabetes is associated with the same DQ molecules in the opposite order and with possible involvement of trans-encoded DQ heterodimers. T cells that are reactive with gluten peptides deamidated by transglutaminase 2 and invariably restricted by DQ2 or DQ8 can be isolated from celiac lesions. We used intestinal T cells from celiac patients to map DQ2 and DQ8 epitopes within 2 representative gluten proteins, α-gliadin AJ133612 and γ-gliadin M36999. For α-gliadin, DQ2- and DQ8-restricted T cells recognized deamidated peptides of 2 separate regions. For γ-gliadin, DQ2- and DQ8-restricted T cells recognized deamidated peptides of the same region. Some γ-gliadin peptides were recognized by T cells in the context of DQ2 or DQ8 when bound in exactly the same registers, but with different requirements for deamidation; deamidation at peptide position 4 (P4) was important for DQ2-restricted T cells, whereas deamidation at P1 and/or P9 was important for DQ8-restricted T cells. Peptides combining the DQ2 and DQ8 signatures could be presented by DQ2, DQ8, and trans-encoded DQ heterodimers. Our findings shed light on the basis for the HLA associations in celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.
Topical microbicides represent a promising new approach to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. TLR agonists are ideal candidates for microbicides, as they trigger a multitude of antiviral genes effective against a broad range of viruses. Although vaginal application of CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) and poly I:C has been shown to protect mice from genital herpes infection, the mechanism by which these agents provide protection remains unclear. Here, we show that plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) are required for CpG ODN–mediated protection against lethal vaginal challenge with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Moreover, we demonstrate that cells of both the hematopoietic and stromal compartments must respond to CpG ODN via TLR9 and to type I IFNs through IFN-αβ receptor (IFN-αβR) for protection. Thus, crosstalk between pDCs and vaginal stromal cells provides for optimal microbicide efficacy. Our results imply that temporally and spatially controlled targeting of CpG ODN to pDCs and epithelial cells can potentially maximize their effectiveness as microbicides while minimizing the associated inflammatory responses.
Anaphylactic shock is a sudden, life-threatening allergic reaction associated with severe hypotension. Platelet-activating factor (PAF) is implicated in the cardiovascular dysfunctions occurring in various shock syndromes, including anaphylaxis. Excessive production of the vasodilator NO causes inflammatory hypotension and shock, and it is generally accepted that transcriptionally regulated inducible iNOS is responsible for this. Nevertheless, the contribution of NO to PAF-induced shock or anaphylactic shock is still ambiguous. We studied PAF and anaphylactic shock in conscious mice. Surprisingly, hyperacute PAF shock depended entirely on NO, produced not by inducible iNOS, but by constitutive eNOS, rapidly activated via the PI3K pathway. Soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) is generally regarded as the principal vasorelaxing mediator of NO. Nevertheless, although methylene blue partially prevented PAF shock, neither 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazole[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ) nor sGCα1 deficiency did. Also, in 2 different models of active systemic anaphylaxis, inhibition of NOS, PI3K, or Akt or eNOS deficiency provided complete protection. In contrast to the unsubstantiated paradigm that only excessive iNOS-derived NO underlies cardiovascular collapse in shock, our data strongly support the unexpected concept that eNOS-derived NO is the principal vasodilator in anaphylactic shock and define eNOS and/or PI3K or Akt as new potential targets for treating anaphylaxis.
CTL-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) engagement negatively regulates T cell activation and function and promotes immune tolerance. However, it has been difficult to explore the biology of selective engagement of CTLA-4 in vivo because CTLA-4 shares its ligands, B7-1 and B7-2, with CD28. To address this issue, we developed a Tg mouse expressing a single-chain, membrane-bound anti–CTLA-4 Ab (scFv) on B cells. B and T cells developed normally and exhibited normal phenotype in the steady state and after activation in these mice. However, B cells from scFv Tg+ mice (scαCTLA4+) prevented T cell proliferation and cytokine production in mixed lymphocyte reactions. Additionally, mice treated with scαCTLA4+ B cells had decreased T cell–dependent B cell Ab production and class switching in vivo after antigen challenge. Furthermore, expression of this CTLA-4 agonist protected NOD mice from spontaneous autoimmune diabetes. Finally, this disease prevention occurred in Treg-deficient NOD.B7-1/B7-2 double-knockout mice, suggesting that the effect of the CTLA-4 agonist directly attenuates autoreactive T cell activation, not Treg activation. Together, results from this study demonstrate that selective ligation of CTLA-4 attenuates in vivo T cell responses, prevents development of autoimmunity, and represents a novel immunotherapeutic approach for the induction and maintenance of peripheral tolerance.
While it is known that monosodium urate (MSU) crystals cause the disease gout, the mechanism by which these crystals stimulate this inflammatory condition has not been clear. Here we find that the Toll/IL-1R (TIR) signal transduction adaptor myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 (MyD88) is required for acute gouty inflammation. In contrast, other TIR adaptor molecules, TIRAP/Mal, TRIF, and TRAM, are not required for this process. The MyD88-dependent TLR1, -2, -4, -6, -7, -9, and -11 and IL-18 receptor (IL-18R) are not essential for MSU-induced inflammation. Moreover, MSU does not stimulate HEK cells expressing TLR1–11 to activate NF-κB. In contrast, mice deficient in the MyD88-dependent IL-1R showed reduced inflammatory responses, similar to those observed in MyD88-deficient mice. Similarly, mice treated with IL-1 neutralizing antibodies also showed reduced MSU-induced inflammation, demonstrating that IL-1 production and IL-1R activation play essential roles in MSU-triggered inflammation. IL-1R deficiency in bone marrow–derived cells did not affect the inflammatory response; however, it was required in non–bone marrow–derived cells. These results indicate that IL-1 is essential for the MSU-induced inflammatory response and that the requirement of MyD88 in this process is primarily through its function as an adaptor molecule in the IL-1R signaling pathway.
Primary defects in either podocytes or the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) cause proteinuria, a fact that complicates defining the barrier to albumin. Laminin β2 (LAMB2) is a GBM component required for proper functioning of the glomerular filtration barrier. To investigate the GBM’s role in glomerular filtration, we characterized GBM and overlying podocyte architecture in relation to development and progression of proteinuria in Lamb2–/– mice, which model Pierson syndrome, a rare congenital nephrotic syndrome. We found ectopic deposition of several laminins and mislocalization of anionic sites in the GBM, which together suggest that the Lamb2–/– GBM is severely disorganized, although it is ultrastructurally intact. Importantly, albuminuria was detectable shortly after birth and preceded podocyte foot process effacement and loss of slit diaphragms by at least 7 days. Expression and localization of slit diaphragm and foot process–associated proteins appeared normal at early stages. GBM permeability to the electron-dense tracer ferritin was dramatically elevated in Lamb2–/– mice, even before widespread foot process effacement. Increased ferritin permeability was not observed in nephrotic CD2-associated protein–null (Cd2ap–/–) mice, which have a primary podocyte defect. Together these data show that the GBM serves as a barrier to protein in vivo and that the glomerular slit diaphragm alone is not sufficient to prevent the passage of albumin into the urinary space.
While it has long been known that inflammation and infection reduce expression of hepatic cytochrome P450 (CYP) genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism and that exposure to xenobiotic chemicals can impair immune function, the molecular mechanisms underlying both of these phenomena have remained largely unknown. Here we show that activation of the nuclear steroid and xenobiotic receptor (SXR) by commonly used drugs in humans inhibits the activity of NF-κB, a key regulator of inflammation and the immune response. NF-κB target genes are upregulated and small bowel inflammation is significantly increased in mice lacking the SXR ortholog pregnane X receptor (PXR), thereby demonstrating a direct link between SXR and drug-mediated antagonism of NF-κB. Interestingly, NF-κB activation reciprocally inhibits SXR and its target genes whereas inhibition of NF-κB enhances SXR activity. This SXR/PXR–NF-κB axis provides a molecular explanation for the suppression of hepatic CYP mRNAs by inflammatory stimuli as well as the immunosuppressant effects of xenobiotics and SXR-responsive drugs. This mechanistic relationship has clinical consequences for individuals undergoing therapeutic exposure to the wide variety of drugs that are also SXR agonists.
Neurotoxicity from accumulation of misfolded/mutant proteins is thought to drive pathogenesis in neurodegenerative diseases. Since decreasing levels of proteins responsible for such accumulations is likely to ameliorate disease, a therapeutic strategy has been developed to downregulate almost any gene in the CNS. Modified antisense oligonucleotides, continuously infused intraventricularly, have been demonstrated to distribute widely throughout the CNS of rodents and primates, including the regions affected in the major neurodegenerative diseases. Using this route of administration, we found that antisense oligonucleotides to superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), one of the most abundant brain proteins, reduced both SOD1 protein and mRNA levels throughout the brain and spinal cord. Treatment initiated near onset significantly slowed disease progression in a model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) caused by a mutation in SOD1. This suggests that direct delivery of antisense oligonucleotides could be an effective, dosage-regulatable means of treating neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS, where appropriate target proteins are known.
Many respiratory pathogens, including Hemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, express neuraminidases that can cleave α2,3-linked sialic acids from glycoconjugates. As mucosal surfaces are heavily sialylated, neuraminidases have been thought to modify epithelial cells by exposing potential bacterial receptors. However, in contrast to neuraminidase produced by the influenza virus, a role for bacterial neuraminidase in pathogenesis has not yet been clearly established. We constructed a mutant of P. aeruginosa PAO1 by deleting the PA2794 neuraminidase locus (Δ2794) and tested its virulence and immunostimulatory capabilities in a mouse model of infection. Although fully virulent when introduced i.p., the Δ2794 mutant was unable to establish respiratory infection by i.n. inoculation. The inability to colonize the respiratory tract correlated with diminished production of biofilm, as assessed by scanning electron microscopy and in vitro assays. The importance of neuraminidase in biofilm production was further demonstrated by showing that viral neuraminidase inhibitors in clinical use blocked P. aeruginosa biofilm production in vitro as well. The P. aeruginosa neuraminidase has a key role in the initial stages of pulmonary infection by targeting bacterial glycoconjugates and contributing to the formation of biofilm. Inhibiting bacterial neuraminidases could provide a novel mechanism to prevent bacterial pneumonia.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation