Sweet metabolic surrender. Stanhope and colleagues examined the effects of prolonged consumption of fructose- or glucose-sweetened beverages on lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and adiposity in overweight and obese adults (page 1322). The two sugars had divergent metabolic effects. The authors found that consumption of fructose- but not glucose-sweetened beverages increased de novo hepatic lipogenesis and insulin resistance. Despite comparable weight gain in both groups of subjects, intra-abdominal fat volume was only increased in subjects consuming fructose.
In the two years that I have been Editor in Chief of the JCI, the editors and I have sent approximately 2,500 papers for external review. The referee reports that we’ve received have spanned the spectrum from incredibly insightful to completely unhelpful. Together with a longer piece immediately following this editorial, I would like to reflect on what I think makes a good review.
Most scientists learn how to review papers by being thrown into the deep end of the pool: here’s a paper, write a review. Perhaps this is not the best way to keep an enterprise afloat. But what should be included in a review? What should the tone of a review be? Here I want to outline the specifics of what we at the JCI are looking for in a referee report.
Translation of novel therapies for type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases to the clinic has been slow despite significant new initiatives from funding agencies. One reason for this is that different incentives drive industry, academia, and funding bodies. These communities therefore lack common goals and often communicate poorly, resulting in unintended obstacles that hamper progress in efficiently translating basic scientific discoveries into medical practice. Here, based on our own personal experiences, we discuss some of the drivers within each community that cause these problems, existing mechanisms to facilitate the translation of science into medical practice, and remaining issues that need to be solved.
SLE, a chronic, multisystem autoimmune disorder with a broad range of symptoms, involves defective B cell selection and elimination of self-reactive B cells. B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a soluble ligand of the TNF cytokine family, is a prominent factor in B cell differentiation, homeostasis, and selection. BLyS levels affect survival signals and selective apoptosis of autoantibody-producing B cells. High levels of BLyS may relax B cell selection and contribute to autoantibody production, exacerbating the SLE disease state. This review discusses the mechanism of BLyS action on B cells, its role in SLE, and specific targeting of BLyS in the treatment of SLE.
Little is known about the potential role of T cells in the inflammatory renal disease glomerulonephritis (GN). GN has been historically viewed as a product of immune complex–mediated complement activation, and the presence of autoantibodies made identifying T cell–specific effector contributions difficult to elucidate. In this issue of the JCI, Heymann et al. generate what they believe to be a novel, transgenic murine model of GN, demonstrating a direct role for CD8+ T cells, activated CD4+ T cells, and DCs in the pathogenesis of GN (see the related article, doi:10.1172/JCI38399).
Gain-of-function mutations in FGF receptor 3 (FGFR3) have been implicated in severe skeletal dysplasias and in a variety of cancers. In their study in this issue of the JCI, Qing et al. used specific shRNA probes to demonstrate that FGFR3 functions as an important driver of bladder carcinoma cell proliferation (see the related article beginning on page 1216). A unique anti-FGFR3 mAb was shown to exhibit antitumor activity in human bladder carcinoma cells in vitro and in mouse bladder cancer or multiple myeloma xenograft tumor models bearing either wild-type or mutant FGFR3. These results suggest that clinical development of anti-FGFR3 mAbs should be considered for targeted therapy of cancer and other diseases.
Anti-TNF immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of some inflammatory diseases, such as RA. However, a major concern is that patients receiving this therapy have an increased risk of fungal and bacterial infection, particularly of reactivating latent tuberculosis (TB). In this issue of the JCI, in an effort to understand how anti-TNF immunotherapy affects host mechanisms required to control TB, Bruns and colleagues examined the effects of the anti-TNF therapeutic infliximab on Mycobacterium tuberculosis–specific human lymphocytes (see the related article beginning on page 1167). The authors report that a granulysin-expressing CD45RA+ subset of effector memory CD8+ T cells that contributes to the killing of intracellular M. tuberculosis is depleted in vivo by infliximab in patients with RA, and that these cells are susceptible to complement-mediated lysis in the presence of infliximab in vitro. The study provides insight into host defense mechanisms that act to control TB infection and how they are affected during anti-TNF immunotherapy for autoimmune disease.
Patients with systolic left ventricular dysfunction die progressively from congestive heart failure or die suddenly from cardiac arrhythmias. Myocardial hypertrophy is an early event in most forms of heart failure, but the majority of patients with myocardial hypertrophy do not develop heart failure. Developing improved therapies for targeting the cell signaling pathways that enable this deadly transition from early myocardial insult to heart failure and sudden death is a key goal for improving public health. In this issue of the JCI, Ling and colleagues provide new evidence that activation of the multifunctional Ca2+/calmodulin–dependent kinase IIδ is a decisive step on the path to heart failure in mice (see the related article beginning on page 1230).
HIV-1–associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is a common complication of HIV-1 infection, and its skewed incidence in certain ethnic groups suggests that there is a genetic basis to HIVAN susceptibility. In their study reported in this issue of the JCI, Papeta and colleagues used a combination of gene expression profiling and linkage analysis to identify three genomic loci that regulate a network of genes expressed by podocytes — cells that are crucial to the filtration of fluid and waste by the kidney (see the related article beginning on page 1178). Surprisingly, two of these loci confer disease susceptibility in a transgenic mouse model of HIVAN. This report confirms the central role of podocytes in the pathogenesis of HIVAN and demonstrates the power of this combination of genomic analysis techniques in elucidating the pathogenesis of glomerular disease.
Coronary heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Western societies. The metabolic syndrome, characterized by obesity, insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, confers substantial risk of coronary heart disease. Current pathogenetic models suggest that postprandial hyperlipidemia is one specific metabolic abnormality that is typically associated with increased morbidity. In this issue of the JCI, Stanhope and colleagues demonstrate that consumption of fructose-sweetened but not glucose-sweetened beverages for 10 weeks increases de novo lipid synthesis, promotes dyslipidemia, impairs insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight or obese adults (see the related article beginning on page 1322).
The identification of biomarkers that distinguish between aggressive and indolent forms of prostate cancer (PCa) is crucial for diagnosis and treatment. In this study, we used cultured cells derived from prostate tissue from patients with PCa to define a molecular mechanism underlying the most aggressive form of PCa that involves the functional activation of eNOS and HIFs in association with estrogen receptor β (ERβ). Cells from patients with poor prognosis exhibited a constitutively hypoxic phenotype and increased NO production. Upon estrogen treatment, formation of ERβ/eNOS, ERβ/HIF-1α, or ERβ/HIF-2α combinatorial complexes led to chromatin remodeling and transcriptional induction of prognostic genes. Tissue microarray analysis, using an independent cohort of patients, established a hierarchical predictive power for these proteins, with expression of eNOS plus ERβ and nuclear eNOS plus HIF-2α being the most relevant indicators of adverse clinical outcome. Genetic or pharmacologic modulation of eNOS expression and activity resulted in reciprocal conversion of the transcriptional signature in cells from patients with bad or good outcome, respectively, highlighting the relevance of eNOS in PCa progression. Our work has considerable clinical relevance, since it may enable the earlier diagnosis of aggressive PCa through routine biopsy assessment of eNOS, ERβ, and HIF-2α expression. Furthermore, proposing eNOS as a therapeutic target fosters innovative therapies for PCa with NO inhibitors, which are employed in preclinical trials in non-oncological diseases.
Imatinib mesylate (IM), a potent inhibitor of the BCR/ABL tyrosine kinase, has become standard first-line therapy for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), but the frequency of resistance increases in advancing stages of disease. Elimination of BCR/ABL-dependent intracellular signals triggers apoptosis, but it is unclear whether this activates additional cell survival and/or death pathways. We have shown here that IM induces autophagy in CML blast crisis cell lines, CML primary cells, and p210BCR/ABL-expressing myeloid precursor cells. IM-induced autophagy did not involve c-Abl or Bcl-2 activity but was associated with ER stress and was suppressed by depletion of intracellular Ca2+, suggesting it is mechanistically nonoverlapping with IM-induced apoptosis. We further demonstrated that suppression of autophagy using either pharmacological inhibitors or RNA interference of essential autophagy genes enhanced cell death induced by IM in cell lines and primary CML cells. Critically, the combination of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), i.e., IM, nilotinib, or dasatinib, with inhibitors of autophagy resulted in near complete elimination of phenotypically and functionally defined CML stem cells. Together, these findings suggest that autophagy inhibitors may enhance the therapeutic effects of TKIs in the treatment of CML.
Long-term neurological deficiencies resulting from hippocampal cytotoxicity induced by cranial irradiation (IR) present a challenge in the treatment of primary and metastatic brain cancers, especially in children. Previously, we showed that lithium protected hippocampal neurons from IR-induced apoptosis and improved neurocognitive function in treated mice. Here, we demonstrate accelerated repair of IR-induced chromosomal double-strand breaks (DSBs) in lithium-treated neurons. Lithium treatment not only increased IR-induced DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) threonine 2609 foci, a surrogate marker for activated nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair, but also enhanced double-strand DNA end-rejoining activity in hippocampal neurons. The increased NHEJ repair coincided with reduced numbers of IR-induced γ-H2AX foci, well-characterized in situ markers of DSBs. These findings were confirmed in vivo in irradiated mice. Consistent with a role of NHEJ repair in lithium-mediated neuroprotection, attenuation of IR-induced apoptosis of hippocampal neurons by lithium was dramatically abrogated when DNA-PK function was abolished genetically in SCID mice or inhibited biochemically by the DNA-PK inhibitor IC86621. Importantly, none of these findings were evident in glioma cancer cells. These results support our hypothesis that lithium protects hippocampal neurons by promoting the NHEJ repair–mediated DNA repair pathway and warrant future investigation of lithium-mediated neuroprotection during cranial IR, especially in the pediatric population.
Leukocyte and platelet accumulation at sites of cerebral ischemia exacerbate cerebral damage. The ectoenzyme CD39 on the plasmalemma of endothelial cells metabolizes ADP to suppress platelet accumulation in the ischemic brain. However, the role of leukocyte surface CD39 in regulating monocyte and neutrophil trafficking in this setting is not known. Here we have demonstrated in mice what we believe to be a novel mechanism by which CD39 on monocytes and neutrophils regulates their own sequestration into ischemic cerebral tissue, by catabolizing nucleotides released by injured cells, thereby inhibiting their chemotaxis, adhesion, and transmigration. Bone marrow reconstitution and provision of an apyrase, an enzyme that hydrolyzes nucleoside tri- and diphosphates, each normalized ischemic leukosequestration and cerebral infarction in CD39-deficient mice. Leukocytes purified from Cd39–/– mice had a markedly diminished capacity to phosphohydrolyze adenine nucleotides and regulate platelet reactivity, suggesting that leukocyte ectoapyrases modulate the ambient vascular nucleotide milieu. Dissipation of ATP by CD39 reduced P2X7 receptor stimulation and thereby suppressed baseline leukocyte αMβ2-integrin expression. As αMβ2-integrin blockade reversed the postischemic, inflammatory phenotype of Cd39–/– mice, these data suggest that phosphohydrolytic activity on the leukocyte surface suppresses cell-cell interactions that would otherwise promote thrombosis or inflammation. These studies indicate that CD39 on both endothelial cells and leukocytes reduces inflammatory cell trafficking and platelet reactivity, with a consequent reduction in tissue injury following cerebral ischemic challenge.
Neuropathy and myopathy can cause weakness during critical illness. To determine whether reduced excitability of peripheral nerves, rather than degeneration, is the mechanism underlying acute neuropathy in critically ill patients, we prospectively followed patients during the acute phase of critical illness and early recovery and assessed nerve conduction. During the period of early recovery from critical illness, patients recovered from neuropathy within days. This rapidly reversible neuropathy has not to our knowledge been previously described in critically ill patients and may be a novel type of neuropathy. In vivo intracellular recordings from dorsal root axons in septic rats revealed reduced action potential amplitude, demonstrating that reduced excitability of nerve was the mechanism underlying neuropathy. When action potentials were triggered by hyperpolarizing pulses, their amplitudes largely recovered, indicating that inactivation of sodium channels was an important contributor to reduced excitability. There was no depolarization of axon resting potential in septic rats, which ruled out a contribution of resting potential to the increased inactivation of sodium channels. Our data suggest that a hyperpolarized shift in the voltage dependence of sodium channel inactivation causes increased sodium inactivation and reduced excitability. Acquired sodium channelopathy may be the mechanism underlying acute neuropathy in critically ill patients.
HIF transcription factors (HIF-1 and HIF-2) are central mediators of cellular adaptation to hypoxia. Because the resting partial pressure of oxygen is low in the intestinal lumen, epithelial cells are believed to be mildly hypoxic. Having recently established a link between HIF and the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin, we hypothesized that HIFs, stabilized in the hypoxic intestinal epithelium, may also play critical roles in regulating intestinal iron absorption. To explore this idea, we first established that the mouse duodenum, the site of iron absorption in the intestine, is hypoxic and generated conditional knockout mice that lacked either Hif1a or Hif2a specifically in the intestinal epithelium. Using these mice, we found that HIF-1α was not necessary for iron absorption, whereas HIF-2α played a crucial role in maintaining iron balance in the organism by directly regulating the transcription of the gene encoding divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), the principal intestinal iron transporter. Specific deletion of Hif2a led to a decrease in serum and liver iron levels and a marked decrease in liver hepcidin expression, indicating the involvement of an induced systemic response to counteract the iron deficiency. This finding may provide a basis for the development of new strategies, specifically in targeting HIF-2α, to improve iron homeostasis in patients with iron disorders.
The incidence of tuberculosis is increased during treatment of autoimmune diseases with anti-TNF antibodies. This is a significant clinical complication, but also provides a unique model to study immune mechanisms in human tuberculosis. Given the key role for cell-mediated immunity in host defense against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, we hypothesized that anti-TNF treatment impairs T cell–directed antimicrobial activity. Anti-TNF therapy reduced the expression in lymphocytes of perforin and granulysin, 2 components of the T cell–mediated antimicrobial response to intracellular pathogens. Specifically, M. tuberculosis–reactive CD8+CCR7–CD45RA+ effector memory T cells (TEMRA cells) expressed the highest levels of granulysin, lysed M. tuberculosis, and infected macrophages and mediated an antimicrobial activity against intracellular M. tuberculosis. Furthermore, TEMRA cells expressed cell surface TNF and bound the anti-TNF therapeutic infliximab in vitro, making them susceptible to complement-mediated lysis. Immune therapy with anti-TNF was associated with reduced numbers of CD8+ TEMRA cells and decreased antimicrobial activity against M. tuberculosis, which could be rescued by the addition of CD8+ TEMRA cells. These results suggest that anti-TNF therapy triggers a reduction of CD8+ TEMRA cells with antimicrobial activity against M. tuberculosis, providing insight into the mechanism whereby key effector T cell subsets contribute to host defense against tuberculosis.
Multiple studies have linked podocyte gene variants to diverse sporadic nephropathies, including HIV-1–associated nephropathy (HIVAN). We previously used linkage analysis to identify a major HIVAN susceptibility locus in mouse, HIVAN1. We performed expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis of podocyte genes in HIV-1 transgenic mice to gain further insight into genetic susceptibility to HIVAN. In 2 independent crosses, we found that transcript levels of the podocyte gene nephrosis 2 homolog (Nphs2), were heritable and controlled by an ancestral cis-eQTL that conferred a 3-fold variation in expression and produced reactive changes in other podocyte genes. In addition, Nphs2 expression was controlled by 2 trans-eQTLs that localized to the nephropathy susceptibility intervals HIVAN1 and HIVAN2. Transregulation of podocyte genes was observed in the absence of HIV-1 or glomerulosclerosis, indicating that nephropathy susceptibility alleles induce latent perturbations in the podocyte expression network. Presence of the HIV-1 transgene interfered with transregulation, demonstrating effects of gene-environment interactions on disease. These data demonstrate that transcript levels of Nphs2 and related podocyte-expressed genes are networked and suggest that the genetic lesions introduced by HIVAN susceptibility alleles perturb this regulatory pathway and transcriptional responses to HIV-1, increasing susceptibility to nephropathy.
Chronic bacterial airway infections are the major cause of mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF). Normal airway defenses include reflex stimulation of submucosal gland mucus secretion by sensory neurons that release substance P (SubP). CFTR is an anion channel involved in fluid secretion and mutated in CF; the role of CFTR in secretions stimulated by SubP is unknown. We used optical methods to measure SubP-mediated secretion from human submucosal glands in lung transplant tissue. Glands from control but not CF subjects responded to mucosal chili oil. Similarly, serosal SubP stimulated secretion in more than 60% of control glands but only 4% of CF glands. Secretion triggered by SubP was synergistic with vasoactive intestinal peptide and/or forskolin but not with carbachol; synergy was absent in CF glands. Pig glands demonstrated a nearly 10-fold greater response to SubP. In 10 of 11 control glands isolated by fine dissection, SubP caused cell volume loss, lumen expansion, and mucus flow, but in 3 of 4 CF glands, it induced lumen narrowing. Thus, in CF, the reduced ability of mucosal irritants to stimulate airway gland secretion via SubP may be another factor that predisposes the airways to infections.
Hepatic steatosis is present in insulin-resistant obese rodents and is concomitant with active lipogenesis. Hepatic lipogenesis depends on the insulin-induced activation of the transcription factor SREBP-1c. Despite prevailing insulin resistance, SREBP-1c is activated in the livers of genetically and diet-induced obese rodents. Recent studies have reported the presence of an ER stress response in the livers of obese ob/ob mice. To assess whether ER stress promotes SREBP-1c activation and thus contributes to lipogenesis, we overexpressed the chaperone glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) in the livers of ob/ob mice using an adenoviral vector. GRP78 overexpression reduced ER stress markers and inhibited SREBP-1c cleavage and the expression of SREBP-1c and SREBP-2 target genes. Furthermore, hepatic triglyceride and cholesterol contents were reduced, and insulin sensitivity improved, in GRP78-injected mice. These metabolic improvements were likely mediated by restoration of IRS-2 expression and tyrosine phosphorylation. Interestingly, GRP78 overexpression also inhibited insulin-induced SREBP-1c cleavage in cultured primary hepatocytes. These findings demonstrate that GRP78 inhibits both insulin-dependent and ER stress–dependent SREBP-1c proteolytic cleavage and explain the role of ER stress in hepatic steatosis in obese rodents.
Overexpression of FGF receptor 3 (FGFR3) is implicated in the development of t(4;14)-positive multiple myeloma. While FGFR3 is frequently overexpressed and/or activated through mutations in bladder cancer, the functional importance of FGFR3 and its potential as a specific therapeutic target in this disease have not been elucidated in vivo. Here we report that inducible knockdown of FGFR3 in human bladder carcinoma cells arrested cell-cycle progression in culture and markedly attenuated tumor progression in xenografted mice. Further, we developed a unique antibody (R3Mab) that inhibited not only WT FGFR3, but also various mutants of the receptor, including disulfide-linked cysteine mutants. Biochemical analysis and 2.1-Å resolution crystallography revealed that R3Mab bound to a specific FGFR3 epitope that simultaneously blocked ligand binding, prevented receptor dimerization, and induced substantial conformational changes in the receptor. R3Mab exerted potent antitumor activity against bladder carcinoma and t(4;14)-positive multiple myeloma xenografts in mice by antagonizing FGFR3 signaling and eliciting antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). These studies provide in vivo evidence demonstrating an oncogenic role of FGFR3 in bladder cancer and support antibody-based targeting of FGFR3 in hematologic and epithelial cancers driven by WT or mutant FGFR3.
Ca2+/calmodulin–dependent kinase II (CaMKII) has been implicated in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. We generated mice in which the predominant cardiac isoform, CaMKIIδ, was genetically deleted (KO mice), and found that these mice showed no gross baseline changes in ventricular structure or function. In WT and KO mice, transverse aortic constriction (TAC) induced comparable increases in relative heart weight, cell size, HDAC5 phosphorylation, and hypertrophic gene expression. Strikingly, while KO mice showed preserved hypertrophy after 6-week TAC, CaMKIIδ deficiency significantly ameliorated phenotypic changes associated with the transition to heart failure, such as chamber dilation, ventricular dysfunction, lung edema, cardiac fibrosis, and apoptosis. The ratio of IP3R2 to ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2) and the fraction of RyR2 phosphorylated at the CaMKII site increased significantly during development of heart failure in WT mice, but not KO mice, and this was associated with enhanced Ca2+ spark frequency only in WT mice. We suggest that CaMKIIδ contributes to cardiac decompensation by enhancing RyR2-mediated sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ leak and that attenuating CaMKIIδ activation can limit the progression to heart failure.
The accumulation of certain species of bacteria in the intestine is involved in both tissue homeostasis and immune-mediated pathologies. The host mechanisms involved in controlling intestinal colonization with commensal bacteria are poorly understood. We observed that under specific pathogen–free or germ-free conditions, intragastric administration of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, or Lactobacillus gasseri resulted in increased colonization of the small intestine and bacterial translocation in mice lacking Cd1d, an MHC class I–like molecule, compared with WT mice. In contrast, activation of Cd1d-restricted T cells (NKT cells) with α-galactosylceramide caused diminished intestinal colonization with the same bacterial strains. We also found prominent differences in the composition of intestinal microbiota, including increased adherent bacteria, in Cd1d–/– mice in comparison to WT mice under specific pathogen–free conditions. Germ-free Cd1d–/– mice exhibited a defect in Paneth cell granule ultrastructure and ability to degranulate after bacterial colonization. In vitro, NKT cells were shown to induce the release of lysozyme from intestinal crypts. Together, these data support a role for Cd1d in regulating intestinal colonization through mechanisms that include the control of Paneth cell function.
NK cells use a variety of receptors to detect abnormal cells, including tumors and their metastases. However, in the case of melanoma, it remains to be determined what specific molecular interactions are involved and whether NK cells control metastatic progression and/or the route of dissemination. Here we show that human melanoma cell lines derived from LN metastases express ligands for natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) and DNAX accessory molecule-1 (DNAM-1), two emerging NK cell receptors key for cancer cell recognition, but not NK group 2 member D (NKG2D). Compared with cell lines derived from metastases taken from other anatomical sites, LN metastases were more susceptible to NK cell lysis and preferentially targeted by adoptively transferred NK cells in a xenogeneic model of cell therapy. In mice, DNAM-1 and NCR ligands were also found on spontaneous melanomas and melanoma cell lines. Interference with DNAM-1 and NCRs by antibody blockade or genetic disruption reduced killing of melanoma cells. Taken together, these results show that DNAM-1 and NCRs are critical for NK cell–mediated innate immunity to melanoma cells and provide a background to design NK cell–based immunotherapeutic strategies against melanoma and possibly other tumors.
Heritable and acquired diseases of podocytes can result in focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). We modeled FSGS by passively transferring mouse podocyte–specific sheep Abs into BALB/c mice. BALB/c mice deficient in the key complement regulator, decay-accelerating factor (DAF), but not WT or CD59-deficient BALB/c mice developed histological and ultrastructural features of FSGS, marked albuminuria, periglomerular monocytic and T cell inflammation, and enhanced T cell reactivity to sheep IgG. All of these findings, which are characteristic of FSGS, were substantially reduced by depleting CD4+ T cells from Daf–/– mice. Furthermore, WT kidneys transplanted into Daf–/– recipients and kidneys of DAF-sufficient but T cell–deficient Balb/cnu/nu mice reconstituted with Daf–/– T cells developed FSGS. In contrast, DAF-deficient kidneys in WT hosts and Balb/cnu/nu mice reconstituted with DAF-sufficient T cells did not develop FSGS. Thus, we have described what we believe to be a novel mouse model of FSGS attributable to DAF-deficient T cell immune responses. These findings add to growing evidence that complement-derived signals shape T cell responses, since T cells that recognize sheep Abs bound to podocytes can lead to cellular injury and development of FSGS.
The mechanism of mitochondrial damage, a key contributor to renal tubular cell death during acute kidney injury, remains largely unknown. Here, we have demonstrated a striking morphological change of mitochondria in experimental models of renal ischemia/reperfusion and cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. This change contributed to mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, release of apoptogenic factors, and consequent apoptosis. Following either ATP depletion or cisplatin treatment of rat renal tubular cells, mitochondrial fragmentation was observed prior to cytochrome c release and apoptosis. This mitochondrial fragmentation was inhibited by Bcl2 but not by caspase inhibitors. Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), a critical mitochondrial fission protein, translocated to mitochondria early during tubular cell injury, and both siRNA knockdown of Drp1 and expression of a dominant-negative Drp1 attenuated mitochondrial fragmentation, cytochrome c release, caspase activation, and apoptosis. Further in vivo analysis revealed that mitochondrial fragmentation also occurred in proximal tubular cells in mice during renal ischemia/reperfusion and cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. Notably, both tubular cell apoptosis and acute kidney injury were attenuated by mdivi-1, a newly identified pharmacological inhibitor of Drp1. This study demonstrates a rapid regulation of mitochondrial dynamics during acute kidney injury and identifies mitochondrial fragmentation as what we believe to be a novel mechanism contributing to mitochondrial damage and apoptosis in vivo in mouse models of disease.
The progression of kidney disease to renal failure correlates with infiltration of mononuclear immune cells into the tubulointerstitium. These infiltrates contain macrophages, DCs, and T cells, but the role of each cell type in disease progression is unclear. To investigate the underlying immune mechanisms, we generated transgenic mice that selectively expressed the model antigens ovalbumin and hen egg lysozyme in glomerular podocytes (NOH mice). Coinjection of ovalbumin-specific transgenic CD8+ CTLs and CD4+ Th cells into NOH mice resulted in periglomerular mononuclear infiltrates and inflammation of parietal epithelial cells, similar to lesions frequently observed in human chronic glomerulonephritis. Repetitive T cell injections aggravated infiltration and caused progression to structural and functional kidney damage after 4 weeks. Mechanistic analysis revealed that DCs in renal lymph nodes constitutively cross-presented ovalbumin and activated CTLs. These CTLs released further ovalbumin for CTL activation in the lymph nodes and for simultaneous presentation to Th cells by distinct DC subsets residing in the kidney tubulointerstitium. Crosstalk between tubulointerstitial DCs and Th cells resulted in intrarenal cytokine and chemokine production and in recruitment of more CTLs, monocyte-derived DCs, and macrophages. The importance of DCs was established by the fact that DC depletion rapidly resolved established kidney immunopathology. These findings demonstrate that glomerular antigen–specific CTLs and Th cells can jointly induce renal immunopathology and identify kidney DCs as a mechanistic link between glomerular injury and the progression of kidney disease.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) can lead to the development of secondary pulmonary hypertension (PH) and ultimately death. Despite this known association, the precise mechanism of disease remains unknown. Using a rat model of IPF, we explored the role of the proangiogenic and antiapoptotic growth factor VEGF in the vascular remodeling that underlies PH. In this model, adenoviral delivery of active TGF-β1 induces pulmonary arterial remodeling, loss of the microvasculature in fibrotic areas, and increased pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP). Immunohistochemistry and mRNA analysis revealed decreased levels of VEGF and its receptor, which were inversely correlated with PAP and endothelial cell apoptosis in both the micro- and macrovasculature. Treatment of IPF rats with adenoviral delivery of VEGF resulted in reduced endothelial apoptosis, increased vascularization, and improved PAP due to reduced remodeling but worsened PF. These data show that experimental pulmonary fibrosis (PF) leads to loss of the microvasculature through increased apoptosis and to remodeling of the pulmonary arteries, with both processes resulting in PH. As administration of VEGF ameliorated the PH in this model but concomitantly aggravated the fibrogenic process, VEGF-based therapies should be used with caution.
Nicotinic acid is one of the most effective agents for both lowering triglycerides and raising HDL. However, the side effect of cutaneous flushing severely limits patient compliance. As nicotinic acid stimulates the GPCR GPR109A and Gi/Go proteins, here we dissected the roles of G proteins and the adaptor proteins, β-arrestins, in nicotinic acid–induced signaling and physiological responses. In a human cell line–based signaling assay, nicotinic acid stimulation led to pertussis toxin–sensitive lowering of cAMP, recruitment of β-arrestins to the cell membrane, an activating conformational change in β-arrestin, and β-arrestin–dependent signaling to ERK MAPK. In addition, we found that nicotinic acid promoted the binding of β-arrestin1 to activated cytosolic phospholipase A2 as well as β-arrestin1–dependent activation of cytosolic phospholipase A2 and release of arachidonate, the precursor of prostaglandin D2 and the vasodilator responsible for the flushing response. Moreover, β-arrestin1–null mice displayed reduced cutaneous flushing in response to nicotinic acid, although the improvement in serum free fatty acid levels was similar to that observed in wild-type mice. These data suggest that the adverse side effect of cutaneous flushing is mediated by β-arrestin1, but lowering of serum free fatty acid levels is not. Furthermore, G protein–biased ligands that activate GPR109A in a β-arrestin–independent fashion may represent an improved therapeutic option for the treatment of dyslipidemia.
Studies in animals have documented that, compared with glucose, dietary fructose induces dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. To assess the relative effects of these dietary sugars during sustained consumption in humans, overweight and obese subjects consumed glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages providing 25% of energy requirements for 10 weeks. Although both groups exhibited similar weight gain during the intervention, visceral adipose volume was significantly increased only in subjects consuming fructose. Fasting plasma triglyceride concentrations increased by approximately 10% during 10 weeks of glucose consumption but not after fructose consumption. In contrast, hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and the 23-hour postprandial triglyceride AUC were increased specifically during fructose consumption. Similarly, markers of altered lipid metabolism and lipoprotein remodeling, including fasting apoB, LDL, small dense LDL, oxidized LDL, and postprandial concentrations of remnant-like particle–triglyceride and –cholesterol significantly increased during fructose but not glucose consumption. In addition, fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels increased and insulin sensitivity decreased in subjects consuming fructose but not in those consuming glucose. These data suggest that dietary fructose specifically increases DNL, promotes dyslipidemia, decreases insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the accumulation of oxidized lipoproteins and apoptotic cells. Adaptive immune responses to various oxidation-specific epitopes play an important role in atherogenesis. However, accumulating evidence suggests that these epitopes are also recognized by innate receptors, such as scavenger receptors on macrophages, and plasma proteins, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Here, we provide multiple lines of evidence that oxidation-specific epitopes constitute a dominant, previously unrecognized target of natural Abs (NAbs) in both mice and humans. Using reconstituted mice expressing solely IgM NAbs, we have shown that approximately 30% of all NAbs bound to model oxidation-specific epitopes, as well as to atherosclerotic lesions and apoptotic cells. Because oxidative processes are ubiquitous, we hypothesized that these epitopes exert selective pressure to expand NAbs, which in turn play an important role in mediating homeostatic functions consequent to inflammation and cell death, as demonstrated by their ability to facilitate apoptotic cell clearance. These findings provide novel insights into the functions of NAbs in mediating host homeostasis and into their roles in health and diseases, such as chronic inflammatory diseases and atherosclerosis.
The fatal immune dysregulation that sometimes follows EBV infection in boys has been linked to mutations in two X chromosome–encoded genes, SLAM-associated protein (SAP) and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP). In this study we describe 2 girls from a consanguineous Turkish family who died after developing severe immune dysregulation and therapy-resistant EBV-positive B cell proliferation following EBV infection. SNP array–based genome-wide linkage analysis revealed IL-2–inducible T cell kinase (ITK) as a candidate gene for this immunodeficiency syndrome. Both girls harbored a homozygous missense mutation that led to substitution of a highly conserved residue (R335W) in the SH2 domain of ITK. Characteristics of ITK deficiency in mouse models, such as absence of NKT cells and high levels of eomesodermin in CD8+ cells, were seen in either one or both of the girls. Two lines of evidence suggested that R335W caused instability of the ITK protein. First, in silico modeling of the mutant protein predicted destabilization of the SH2 domain. Additionally, Western blot analysis revealed that, unlike wild-type ITK, the R335W mutant was nearly undetectable when expressed in 293 T cells. Our results suggest that ITK deficiency causes what we believe to be a novel immunodeficiency syndrome that leads to a fatal inadequate immune response to EBV. Because ITK deficiency resembles EBV-associated lymphoproliferative disorders in boys, we suggest that this molecular cause should be considered during diagnosis and treatment.
Autophagy can promote cell survival or cell death, but the molecular basis underlying its dual role in cancer remains obscure. Here we demonstrate that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, induces human glioma cell death through stimulation of autophagy. Our data indicate that THC induced ceramide accumulation and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) phosphorylation and thereby activated an ER stress response that promoted autophagy via tribbles homolog 3–dependent (TRB3-dependent) inhibition of the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) axis. We also showed that autophagy is upstream of apoptosis in cannabinoid-induced human and mouse cancer cell death and that activation of this pathway was necessary for the antitumor action of cannabinoids in vivo. These findings describe a mechanism by which THC can promote the autophagic death of human and mouse cancer cells and provide evidence that cannabinoid administration may be an effective therapeutic strategy for targeting human cancers.
The uptake of lipoproteins by macrophages is a critical step in the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Cultured monocyte-derived macrophages take up large amounts of native LDL by receptor-independent fluid-phase pinocytosis, either constitutively or in response to specific activating stimuli, depending on the macrophage phenotype. We therefore sought to determine whether fluid-phase pinocytosis occurs in vivo in macrophages in atherosclerotic lesions. We demonstrated that fluorescent pegylated nanoparticles similar in size to LDL (specifically nontargeted Qtracker quantum dot and AngioSPARK nanoparticles) can serve as models of LDL uptake by fluid-phase pinocytosis in cultured human monocyte–derived macrophages and mouse bone marrow–derived macrophages. Using fluorescence microscopy, we showed that atherosclerosis-prone Apoe-knockout mice injected with these nanoparticles displayed massive accumulation of the nanoparticles within CD68+ macrophages, including lipid-containing foam cells, in atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic arch. Similar results were obtained when atherosclerotic mouse aortas were cultured with nanoparticles in vitro. These results show that macrophages within atherosclerotic lesions can take up LDL-sized nanoparticles by fluid-phase pinocytosis and indicate that fluid-phase pinocytosis of LDL is a mechanism for macrophage foam cell formation in vivo.
Our aging society is confronted with a dramatic increase of patients suffering from tauopathies, which include Alzheimer disease and certain frontotemporal dementias. These disorders are characterized by typical neuropathological lesions including hyperphosphorylation and subsequent aggregation of TAU protein and neuronal cell death. Currently, no mechanism-based cures are available. We generated fluorescently labeled TAU transgenic zebrafish, which rapidly recapitulated key pathological features of tauopathies, including phosphorylation and conformational changes of human TAU protein, tangle formation, neuronal and behavioral disturbances, and cell death. Due to their optical transparency and small size, zebrafish larvae are well suited for both in vivo imaging and drug development. TAU-induced neuronal cell death was imaged by time-lapse microscopy in vivo. Furthermore, we used this zebrafish model to identify compounds targeting the TAU kinase glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β). We identified a newly developed highly active GSK3β inhibitor, AR-534, by rational drug design. AR-534 reduced TAU phosphorylation in TAU transgenic zebrafish. This transgenic zebrafish model may become a valuable tool for further studies of the neuropathology of dementia.
Copyright © 2014 American Society for Clinical Investigation