The esophagus is exposed to a wide variety of injurious agents, and the cells that line it can regenerate and differentiate quickly to form a continuous barrier. Kalabis and colleagues have now identified and characterized a population of putative stem cells responsible for the maintenance of the esophageal epithelium (page 3860).
Given the dramatic increase in skeletal size during growth, the need to preserve skeletal mass during adulthood, and the large capacity of bone to store calcium and phosphate, juxtaposed with the essential role of phosphate in energy metabolism and the adverse effects of hyperphosphatemia, it is not surprising that a complex systems biology has evolved that permits cross-talk between bone and other organs to adjust phosphate balance and bone mineralization in response to changing physiological requirements. This review examines the newly discovered signaling pathways involved in the endocrine functions of bone, such as those mediated by the phosphaturic and 1,25(OH)2D-regulating hormone FGF23, and the broader systemic effects associated with abnormalities of calcium and phosphate homeostasis.
During pregnancy, the muscular layer of the uterine wall known as the myometrium, which is composed mainly of smooth muscle cells, is maintained in a state of relative quiescence. A switch from myometrial quiescence to myometrial activation is required to establish uterine contractions during labor. Researchers have long been perplexed by the fact that the major prostaglandin produced by the uterus just prior to labor, prostacyclin, is a smooth muscle relaxant. In this issue of the JCI, Fetalvero et al. provide data that they propose explains this paradox, at least in part (see the related article beginning on page 3966). The authors examined uterine tissue from pregnant women near term and found that prostacyclin stimulation, which raises cAMP levels that were previously thought to affect only myometrial quiescence, can promote myometrial activation over time by increasing the expression of a select group of proteins thought to be indicative of a uterine contractile state.
Successful embryo implantation requires complex interactions between the uterus and embryo, including the establishment of maternal immunologic tolerance of fetal material. The maternal-fetal interface is dynamically populated by a wide variety of innate immune cells; however, the relevance of uterine DCs (uDCs) within the decidua to the success of implantation has remained unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Plaks et al. show, in a transgenic mouse model, that uDCs are essential for pregnancy, as their ablation results in a failure of decidualization, impaired implantation, and embryonic resorption (see the related article beginning on page 3954). Depletion of uDCs altered decidual angiogenesis, suggesting that uDCs contribute to successful implantation via their effects on decidual tissue remodeling, including angiogenesis, and independent of their anticipated role in the establishment of maternal-fetal tolerance.
Tumors contain well-oxygenated (aerobic) and poorly oxygenated (hypoxic) regions, which were thought to utilize glucose for oxidative and glycolytic metabolism, respectively. In this issue of the JCI, Sonveaux et al. show that human cancer cells cultured under hypoxic conditions convert glucose to lactate and extrude it, whereas aerobic cancer cells take up lactate via monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) and utilize it for oxidative phosphorylation (see the related article beginning on page 3930). When MCT1 is inhibited, aerobic cancer cells take up glucose rather than lactate, and hypoxic cancer cells die due to glucose deprivation. Treatment of tumor-bearing mice with an inhibitor of MCT1 retarded tumor growth. MCT1 expression was detected exclusively in nonhypoxic regions of human cancer biopsy samples, and in combination, these data suggest that MCT1 inhibition holds potential as a novel cancer therapy.
Autophagy — a process of “self-eating” that involves enzymatic digestion and recycling of cellular constituents in response to stress — contributes to both cancer cell death and survival. In this issue of the JCI, Lu et al. report that controlled induction of tumor suppressor gene aplasia Ras homolog member I (ARHI) results in autophagic cell death of human ovarian cancer cells in vitro (see the related article beginning on page 3917). However, within xenograft tumors in mice, multiple factors within the tumor microenvironment switched ARHI-induced autophagy to a mechanism of tumor cell survival, leading to tumor dormancy. Since ARHI expression is suppressed in the majority of breast and ovarian cancers but is high in premalignant lesions, ARHI-induced autophagy could be manipulated for therapeutic benefit.
Irreversible destruction and widening of the airways due to acquired infections or genetic mutations as well as those of unknown cause are more severe in females. Differences between male and female anatomy, behavior, and hormonal state have been proposed to explain the increased incidence and severity in females with airway disease such as cystic fibrosis (CF); however, a mechanism to explain a sex-related difference has remained elusive. In this issue of the JCI, Coakley et al. report that elevations in the major estrogen hormone in humans — 17β-estradiol — reduce Ca2+-activated Cl– secretion by airway epithelial cells in culture, thereby disrupting ion and water balance (see the related article beginning on page 4025). They measure a similar diminution of nasal epithelial Ca2+-activated Cl– secretion in women with CF during the menstrual cycle phase at which 17β-estradiol level is at its highest. These data suggest that for about one week of a four-week menstrual cycle, women with CF will have a reduced ability to efficiently clear airway secretions, the buildup of which is a hallmark of CF. The authors suggest that these data warrant the testing of antiestrogen therapy in females with CF and propose an alternative avenue for CF therapeutic development.
Mutations in contractile proteins in heart muscle can cause anatomical changes that result in cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. However, a conundrum has existed because mutations in one such contractile protein, a so-called Ca2+ sensor troponin T (TnT), can promote ventricular rhythm disturbances even in the absence of hypertrophy or fibrosis. Thus, these mutations must enhance abnormal electrophysiological events via alternative means. In this issue of the JCI, Baudenbacher et al. report a novel mechanism to explain this puzzle (see the related article beginning on page 3893). They show that a selected TnT mutation in the adult mouse heart can markedly increase the sensitivity of cardiac muscle myofilaments to Ca2+ and enhance the susceptibility to arrhythmia, even in the absence of anatomical deformities. As these same mutations can cause some forms of arrhythmias in humans, these findings are of both basic and translational significance.
Vascular proliferative diseases are characterized by VSMC proliferation and migration. Kinase interacting with stathmin (KIS) targets 2 key regulators of cell proliferation and migration, the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1 and the microtubule-destabilizing protein stathmin. Phosphorylation of p27Kip1 by KIS leads to cell-cycle progression, whereas the target sequence and the physiological relevance of KIS-mediated stathmin phosphorylation in VSMCs are unknown. Here we demonstrated that vascular wound repair in KIS–/– mice resulted in accelerated formation of neointima, which is composed predominantly of VSMCs. Deletion of KIS increased VSMC migratory activity and cytoplasmic tubulin destabilizing activity, but abolished VSMC proliferation through the delayed nuclear export and degradation of p27Kip1. This promigratory phenotype resulted from increased stathmin protein levels, caused by a lack of KIS-mediated stathmin phosphorylation at serine 38 and diminished stathmin protein degradation. Downregulation of stathmin in KIS–/– VSMCs fully restored the phenotype, and stathmin-deficient mice demonstrated reduced lesion formation in response to vascular injury. These data suggest that KIS protects against excessive neointima formation by opposing stathmin-mediated VSMC migration and that VSMC migration represents a major mechanism of vascular wound repair, constituting a relevant target and mechanism for therapeutic interventions.
The esophageal epithelium is a prototypical stratified squamous epithelium that exhibits an exquisite equilibrium between proliferation and differentiation. After basal cells proliferate, they migrate outward toward the luminal surface, undergo differentiation, and eventually slough due to apoptosis. The identification and characterization of stem cells responsible for the maintenance of the esophageal epithelium remains elusive. Here, we employed Hoechst dye extrusion and BrdU label–retaining assays to identify in mice a potential esophageal stem cell population that localizes to the basal cell compartment. The self-renewing capacity of this population was characterized using a clonogenic assay and a 3D organotypic culture model. The putative esophageal stem cells were also capable of epithelial reconstitution in vivo in direct esophageal epithelial injury models. In both the 3D organotypic culture and direct mucosal injury models, the putative stem cells gave rise to undifferentiated and differentiated cells. These studies therefore provide a basis for understanding the regenerative capacity and biology of the esophageal epithelium when it is faced with injurious insults.
The response of cardiomyocytes to biomechanical stress can determine the pathophysiology of hypertrophic cardiac disease, and targeting the pathways regulating these responses is a therapeutic goal. However, little is known about how biomechanical stress is sensed by the cardiomyocyte sarcomere to transduce intracellular hypertrophic signals or how the dysfunction of these pathways may lead to disease. Here, we found that four-and-a-half LIM domains 1 (FHL1) is part of a complex within the cardiomyocyte sarcomere that senses the biomechanical stress–induced responses important for cardiac hypertrophy. Mice lacking Fhl1 displayed a blunted hypertrophic response and a beneficial functional response to pressure overload induced by transverse aortic constriction. A link to the Gαq (Gq) signaling pathway was also observed, as Fhl1 deficiency prevented the cardiomyopathy observed in Gq transgenic mice. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that FHL1 plays an important role in the mechanism of pathological hypertrophy by sensing biomechanical stress responses via the N2B stretch sensor domain of titin and initiating changes in the titin- and MAPK-mediated responses important for sarcomere extensibility and intracellular signaling. These studies shed light on the physiological regulation of the sarcomere in response to hypertrophic stress.
Iminoglycinuria (IG) is an autosomal recessive abnormality of renal transport of glycine and the imino acids proline and hydroxyproline, but the specific genetic defect(s) have not been determined. Similarly, although the related disorder hyperglycinuria (HG) without iminoaciduria has been attributed to heterozygosity of a putative defective glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline transporter, confirming the underlying genetic defect(s) has been difficult. Here we applied a candidate gene sequencing approach in 7 families first identified through newborn IG screening programs. Both inheritance and functional studies identified the gene encoding the proton amino acid transporter SLC36A2 (PAT2) as the major gene responsible for IG in these families, and its inheritance was consistent with a classical semidominant pattern in which 2 inherited nonfunctional alleles conferred the IG phenotype, while 1 nonfunctional allele was sufficient to confer the HG phenotype. Mutations in SLC36A2 that retained residual transport activity resulted in the IG phenotype when combined with mutations in the gene encoding the imino acid transporter SLC6A20 (IMINO). Additional mutations were identified in the genes encoding the putative glycine transporter SLC6A18 (XT2) and the neutral amino acid transporter SLC6A19 (B0AT1) in families with either IG or HG, suggesting that mutations in the genes encoding these transporters may also contribute to these phenotypes. In summary, although recognized as apparently simple Mendelian disorders, IG and HG exhibit complex molecular explanations depending on a major gene and accompanying modifier genes.
In human cardiomyopathy, anatomical abnormalities such as hypertrophy and fibrosis contribute to the risk of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death. Here we have shown that increased myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity, also a common feature in both inherited and acquired human cardiomyopathies, created arrhythmia susceptibility in mice, even in the absence of anatomical abnormalities. In mice expressing troponin T mutants that cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in humans, the risk of developing ventricular tachycardia was directly proportional to the degree of Ca2+ sensitization caused by the troponin T mutation. Arrhythmia susceptibility was reproduced with the Ca2+-sensitizing agent EMD 57033 and prevented by myofilament Ca2+ desensitization with blebbistatin. Ca2+ sensitization markedly changed the shape of ventricular action potentials, resulting in shorter effective refractory periods, greater beat-to-beat variability of action potential durations, and increased dispersion of ventricular conduction velocities at fast heart rates. Together these effects created an arrhythmogenic substrate. Thus, myofilament Ca2+ sensitization represents a heretofore unrecognized arrhythmia mechanism. The protective effect of blebbistatin provides what we believe to be the first direct evidence that reduction of Ca2+ sensitivity in myofilaments is antiarrhythmic and might be beneficial to individuals with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
ASK1-interacting protein-1 (AIP1), a recently identified member of the Ras GTPase-activating protein family, is highly expressed in vascular ECs and regulates EC apoptosis in vitro. However, its function in vivo has not been established. To study this, we generated AIP1-deficient mice (KO mice). Although these mice showed no obvious defects in vascular development, they exhibited dramatically enhanced angiogenesis in 2 models of inflammatory angiogenesis. In one of these models, the enhanced angiogenesis observed in the KO mice was associated with increased VEGF-VEGFR2 signaling. Consistent with this, VEGF-induced ear, cornea, and retina neovascularization were greatly augmented in KO mice and the enhanced retinal angiogenesis was markedly diminished by overexpression of AIP1. In vitro, VEGF-induced EC migration was inhibited by AIP1 overexpression, whereas it was augmented by both AIP1 knockout and knockdown, with the enhanced EC migration caused by AIP1 knockdown being associated with increased VEGFR2 signaling. We present mechanistic data that suggest AIP1 is recruited to the VEGFR2-PI3K complex, binding to both VEGFR2 and PI3K p85, at a late phase of the VEGF response, and that this leads to inhibition of VEGFR2 signaling. Taken together, our data demonstrate that AIP1 functions as an endogenous inhibitor in VEGFR2-mediated adaptive angiogenesis in mice.
The role of autophagy in oncogenesis remains ambiguous, and mechanisms that induce autophagy and regulate its outcome in human cancers are poorly understood. The maternally imprinted Ras-related tumor suppressor gene aplasia Ras homolog member I (ARHI; also known as DIRAS3) is downregulated in more than 60% of ovarian cancers, and here we show that re-expression of ARHI in multiple human ovarian cancer cell lines induces autophagy by blocking PI3K signaling and inhibiting mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), upregulating ATG4, and colocalizing with cleaved microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) in autophagosomes. Furthermore, ARHI is required for spontaneous and rapamycin-induced autophagy in normal and malignant cells. Although ARHI re-expression led to autophagic cell death when SKOv3 ovarian cancer cells were grown in culture, it enabled the cells to remain dormant when they were grown in mice as xenografts. When ARHI levels were reduced in dormant cells, xenografts grew rapidly. However, inhibition of ARHI-induced autophagy with chloroquine dramatically reduced regrowth of xenografted tumors upon reduction of ARHI levels, suggesting that autophagy contributed to the survival of dormant cells. Further analysis revealed that autophagic cell death was reduced when cultured human ovarian cancer cells in which ARHI had been re-expressed were treated with growth factors (IGF-1, M-CSF), angiogenic factors (VEGF, IL-8), and matrix proteins found in xenografts. Thus, ARHI can induce autophagic cell death, but can also promote tumor dormancy in the presence of factors that promote survival in the cancer microenvironment.
Tumors contain oxygenated and hypoxic regions, so the tumor cell population is heterogeneous. Hypoxic tumor cells primarily use glucose for glycolytic energy production and release lactic acid, creating a lactate gradient that mirrors the oxygen gradient in the tumor. By contrast, oxygenated tumor cells have been thought to primarily use glucose for oxidative energy production. Although lactate is generally considered a waste product, we now show that it is a prominent substrate that fuels the oxidative metabolism of oxygenated tumor cells. There is therefore a symbiosis in which glycolytic and oxidative tumor cells mutually regulate their access to energy metabolites. We identified monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) as the prominent path for lactate uptake by a human cervix squamous carcinoma cell line that preferentially utilized lactate for oxidative metabolism. Inhibiting MCT1 with α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamate (CHC) or siRNA in these cells induced a switch from lactate-fueled respiration to glycolysis. A similar switch from lactate-fueled respiration to glycolysis by oxygenated tumor cells in both a mouse model of lung carcinoma and xenotransplanted human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells was observed after administration of CHC. This retarded tumor growth, as the hypoxic/glycolytic tumor cells died from glucose starvation, and rendered the remaining cells sensitive to irradiation. As MCT1 was found to be expressed by an array of primary human tumors, we suggest that MCT1 inhibition has clinical antitumor potential.
JNK proteins have been shown to be involved in liver carcinogenesis in mice, but the extent of their involvement in the development of human liver cancers is unknown. Here, we show that activation of JNK1 but not JNK2 was increased in human primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). Further, JNK1 was required for human HCC cell proliferation in vitro and tumorigenesis after xenotransplantation. Importantly, mice lacking JNK1 displayed decreased tumor cell proliferation in a mouse model of liver carcinogenesis and decreased hepatocyte proliferation in a mouse model of liver regeneration. In both cases, impaired proliferation was caused by increased expression of p21, a cell-cycle inhibitor, and reduced expression of c-Myc, a negative regulator of p21. Genetic inactivation of p21 in JNK1–/– mice restored hepatocyte proliferation in models of both liver carcinogenesis and liver regeneration, and overexpression of c-Myc increased proliferation of JNK1–/– liver cells. Similarly, JNK1 was found to control the proliferation of human HCC cells by affecting p21 and c-Myc expression. Pharmacologic inhibition of JNK reduced the growth of both xenografted human HCC cells and chemically induced mouse liver cancers. These findings provide a mechanistic link between JNK activity and liver cell proliferation via p21 and c-Myc and suggest JNK targeting can be considered as a new therapeutic approach for HCC treatment.
Implantation is a key stage during pregnancy, as the fate of the embryo is often decided upon its first contact with the maternal endometrium. Around this time, DCs accumulate in the uterus; however, their role in pregnancy and, more specifically, implantation, remains unknown. We investigated the function of uterine DCs (uDCs) during implantation using a transgenic mouse model that allows conditional ablation of uDCs in a spatially and temporally regulated manner. Depletion of uDCs resulted in a severe impairment of the implantation process, leading to embryo resorption. Depletion of uDCs also caused embryo resorption in syngeneic and T cell–deficient pregnancies, which argues against a failure to establish immunological tolerance during implantation. Moreover, even in the absence of embryos, experimentally induced deciduae failed to adequately form. Implantation failure was associated with impaired decidual proliferation and differentiation. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI revealed perturbed angiogenesis characterized by reduced vascular expansion and attenuated maturation. We suggest therefore that uDCs directly fine-tune decidual angiogenesis by providing two critical factors, sFlt1 and TGF-β1, that promote coordinated blood vessel maturation. Collectively, uDCs appear to govern uterine receptivity, independent of their predicted role in immunological tolerance, by regulating tissue remodeling and angiogenesis. Importantly, our results may aid in understanding the limited implantation success of embryos transferred following in vitro fertilization.
An incomplete understanding of the molecular events that regulate the myometrial transition from the quiescent pregnant state to the active contractile state during labor has hindered the development of improved therapies for preterm labor. During myometrial activation, proteins that prime the smooth muscle for contraction are upregulated, allowing maximal responsiveness to contractile agonists and thereby producing strong phasic contractions. Upregulation of one such protein, COX-2, generates PGs that induce contractions. Intriguingly, the predominant myometrial PG produced just prior to labor is prostacyclin (PGI2), a smooth muscle relaxant. However, here we have shown that activation of PGI2 receptor (IP) upregulated the expression of several contractile proteins and the gap junction protein connexin 43 through cAMP/PKA signaling in human myometrial tissue in organ and cell culture. Functionally, these IP-dependent changes in gene expression promoted an enhanced contractile response to oxytocin in pregnant human myometrial tissue strips, which was inhibited by the IP antagonist RO3244794. Furthermore, contractile protein induction was dependent on the concentration and time of exposure to the PGI2 analog iloprost and was blocked by both RO3244794 and PKA knockdown. We therefore propose that PGI2-mediated upregulation of contractile proteins and connexin 43 is a critical step in myometrial activation, allowing for a maximal contractile response. Our observations have important implications regarding activation of the myometrium prior to the onset of labor.
Environmental arsenic exposure, through drinking contaminated water, is a significant risk factor for developing vascular diseases and is associated with liver portal hypertension, vascular shunting, and portal fibrosis through unknown mechanisms. We found that the addition of low doses of arsenite to the drinking water of mice resulted in marked pathologic remodeling in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs), including SEC defenestration, capillarization, increased junctional PECAM-1 expression, protein nitration, and decreased liver clearance of modified albumin. Furthermore, the pathologic changes observed after in vivo exposure were recapitulated in isolated mouse SECs exposed to arsenic in culture. To investigate the role of NADPH oxidase–generated ROS in this remodeling, we examined the effect of arsenite in the drinking water of mice deficient for the p47 subunit of the NADPH oxidase and found that knockout mice were protected from arsenite-induced capillarization and protein nitration. Furthermore, ex vivo arsenic exposure increased SEC superoxide generation, and this effect was inhibited by addition of a Nox2 inhibitor and quenched by the cell-permeant superoxide scavenger. In addition, inhibiting either oxidant generation or Rac1-GTPase blocked ex vivo arsenic-stimulated SEC differentiation and dysfunction. Our data indicate that a Nox2-based oxidase is required for SEC capillarization and that it may play a central role in vessel remodeling following environmentally relevant arsenic exposures.
Vaccine strategies that utilize human DCs to enhance antitumor immunity have yet to realize their full potential. Approaches that optimally target a spectrum of antigens to DCs are urgently needed. Here we report the development of a platform for loading DCs with antigen. It is based on killed but metabolically active (KBMA) recombinant Listeria monocytogenes and facilitates both antigen delivery and maturation of human DCs. Highly attenuated KBMA L. monocytogenes were engineered to express an epitope of the melanoma-associated antigen MelanA/Mart-1 that is recognized by human CD8+ T cells when presented by the MHC class I molecule HLA-A*0201. The engineered KBMA L. monocytogenes induced human DC upregulation of costimulatory molecules and secretion of pro-Th1 cytokines and type I interferons, leading to effective priming of Mart-1–specific human CD8+ T cells and lysis of patient-derived melanoma cells. KBMA L. monocytogenes expressing full-length NY-ESO-1 protein, another melanoma-associated antigen, delivered the antigen for presentation by MHC class I and class II molecules independent of the MHC haplotype of the DC donor. A mouse therapeutic tumor model was used to show that KBMA L. monocytogenes efficiently targeted APCs in vivo to induce protective antitumor responses. Together, our data demonstrate that KBMA L. monocytogenes may be a powerful platform that can both deliver recombinant antigen to DCs for presentation and provide a potent DC-maturation stimulus, making it a potential cancer vaccine candidate.
Neurotoxic amyloid β peptide (Aβ) accumulates in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer disease (AD). The APOE4 allele is a major risk factor for sporadic AD and has been associated with increased brain parenchymal and vascular amyloid burden. How apoE isoforms influence Aβ accumulation in the brain has, however, remained unclear. Here, we have shown that apoE disrupts Aβ clearance across the mouse blood-brain barrier (BBB) in an isoform-specific manner (specifically, apoE4 had a greater disruptive effect than either apoE3 or apoE2). Aβ binding to apoE4 redirected the rapid clearance of free Aβ40/42 from the LDL receptor–related protein 1 (LRP1) to the VLDL receptor (VLDLR), which internalized apoE4 and Aβ-apoE4 complexes at the BBB more slowly than LRP1. In contrast, apoE2 and apoE3 as well as Aβ-apoE2 and Aβ-apoE3 complexes were cleared at the BBB via both VLDLR and LRP1 at a substantially faster rate than Aβ-apoE4 complexes. Astrocyte-secreted lipo-apoE2, lipo-apoE3, and lipo-apoE4 as well as their complexes with Aβ were cleared at the BBB by mechanisms similar to those of their respective lipid-poor isoforms but at 2- to 3-fold slower rates. Thus, apoE isoforms differentially regulate Aβ clearance from the brain, and this might contribute to the effects of APOE genotype on the disease process in both individuals with AD and animal models of AD.
Food intake is regulated by a network of signals that emanate from the gut and the brainstem. The peripheral satiety signal cholecystokinin is released from the gut following food intake and acts on fibers of the vagus nerve, which project to the brainstem and activate neurons that modulate both gastrointestinal function and appetite. In this study, we found that neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarii of the brainstem that express prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP) are activated rapidly by food ingestion. To further examine the role of this peptide in the control of food intake and energy metabolism, we generated PrRP-deficient mice and found that they displayed late-onset obesity and adiposity, phenotypes that reflected an increase in meal size, hyperphagia, and attenuated responses to the anorexigenic signals cholecystokinin and leptin. Hypothalamic expression of 6 other appetite-regulating peptides remained unchanged in the PrRP-deficient mice. Blockade of endogenous PrRP signaling in WT rats by central injection of PrRP-specific mAb resulted in an increase in food intake, as reflected by an increase in meal size. These data suggest that PrRP relays satiety signals within the brain and that selective disturbance of this system can result in obesity and associated metabolic disorders.
Normal airways homeostatically regulate the volume of airway surface liquid (ASL) through both cAMP- and Ca2+-dependent regulation of ion and water transport. In cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic defect causes a lack of cAMP-regulated CFTR activity, leading to diminished Cl– and water secretion from airway epithelial cells and subsequent mucus plugging, which serves as the focus for infections. Females with CF exhibit reduced survival compared with males with CF, although the mechanisms underlying this sex-related disadvantage are unknown. Despite the lack of CFTR, CF airways retain a limited capability to regulate ASL volume, as breathing-induced ATP release activates salvage purinergic pathways that raise intracellular Ca2+ concentration to stimulate an alternate pathway to Cl– secretion. We hypothesized that estrogen might affect this pathway by reducing the ability of airway epithelia to respond appropriately to nucleotides. We found that uridine triphosphate–mediated (UTP-mediated) Cl– secretion was reduced during the periovulatory estrogen maxima in both women with CF and normal, healthy women. Estrogen also inhibited Ca2+ signaling and ASL volume homeostasis in non-CF and CF airway epithelia by attenuating Ca2+ influx. This inhibition of Ca2+ signaling was prevented and even potentiated by estrogen antagonists such as tamoxifen, suggesting that antiestrogens may be beneficial in the treatment of CF lung disease because they increase Cl– secretion in the airways.
Infection with influenza A virus (IAV) presents a substantial threat to public health worldwide, with young, elderly, and immunodeficient individuals being particularly susceptible. Inflammatory responses play an important role in the fatal outcome of IAV infection, but the mechanism remains unclear. We demonstrate here that the absence of invariant NKT (iNKT) cells in mice during IAV infection resulted in the expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which suppressed IAV-specific immune responses through the expression of both arginase and NOS, resulting in high IAV titer and increased mortality. Adoptive transfer of iNKT cells abolished the suppressive activity of MDSCs, restored IAV-specific immune responses, reduced IAV titer, and increased survival rate. The crosstalk between iNKT and MDSCs was CD1d- and CD40-dependent. Furthermore, IAV infection and exposure to TLR agonists relieved the suppressive activity of MDSCs. Finally, we extended these results to humans by demonstrating the presence of myeloid cells with suppressive activity in the PBLs of individuals infected with IAV and showed that their suppressive activity is substantially reduced by iNKT cell activation. These findings identify what we believe to be a novel immunomodulatory role of iNKT cells, which we suggest could be harnessed to abolish the immunosuppressive activity of MDSCs during IAV infection.
Vertebrate cells require a very narrow pH range for survival. Cells accordingly possess sensory and defense mechanisms for situations where the pH deviates from the viable range. Although the monitoring of acidic pH by sensory neurons has been attributed to several ion channels, including transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 channel (TRPV1) and acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), the mechanisms by which these cells detect alkaline pH are not well understood. Here, using Ca2+ imaging and patch-clamp recording, we showed that alkaline pH activated transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily A, member 1 (TRPA1) and that activation of this ion channel was involved in nociception. In addition, intracellular alkalization activated TRPA1 at the whole-cell level, and single-channel openings were observed in the inside-out configuration, indicating that alkaline pH activated TRPA1 from the inside. Analyses of mutants suggested that the two N-terminal cysteine residues in TRPA1 were involved in activation by intracellular alkalization. Furthermore, intraplantar injection of ammonium chloride into the mouse hind paw caused pain-related behaviors that were not observed in TRPA1-deficient mice. These results suggest that alkaline pH causes pain sensation through activation of TRPA1 and may provide a molecular explanation for some of the human alkaline pH–related sensory disorders whose mechanisms are largely unknown.
Eosinophils are multifunctional leukocytes that degrade and remodel tissue extracellular matrix through production of proteolytic enzymes, release of proinflammatory factors to initiate and propagate inflammatory responses, and direct activation of mucus secretion and smooth muscle cell constriction. Thus, eosinophils are central effector cells during allergic airway inflammation and an important clinical therapeutic target. Here we describe the use of an injectable MMP-targeted optical sensor that specifically and quantitatively resolves eosinophil activity in the lungs of mice with experimental allergic airway inflammation. Through the use of real-time molecular imaging methods, we report the visualization of eosinophil responses in vivo and at different scales. Eosinophil responses were seen at single-cell resolution in conducting airways using near-infrared fluorescence fiberoptic bronchoscopy, in lung parenchyma using intravital microscopy, and in the whole body using fluorescence-mediated molecular tomography. Using these real-time imaging methods, we confirmed the immunosuppressive effects of the glucocorticoid drug dexamethasone in the mouse model of allergic airway inflammation and identified a viridin-derived prodrug that potently inhibited the accumulation and enzyme activity of eosinophils in the lungs. The combination of sensitive enzyme-targeted sensors with noninvasive molecular imaging approaches permitted evaluation of airway inflammation severity and was used as a model to rapidly screen for new drug effects. Both fluorescence-mediated tomography and fiberoptic bronchoscopy techniques have the potential to be translated into the clinic.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation