Lone et al. characterize mutations in a subunit of serine palmitoyltransferase that cause childhood-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; and define specific lipid signatures and defects in ceramide synthesis. The cover art depicts ALS motor neurons drowning in a flood of sphingolipids from a sphingolipid-synthesizing enzyme cloud. Image credit: Sofia Ahola.
During cutaneous tick attachment, the feeding cavity becomes a site of transmission for tick salivary compounds and tick-borne pathogens. However, the immunological consequences of tick feeding on human skin remain unclear. Here, we assessed human skin and blood samples upon tick bite and developed a human skin explant model mimicking Ixodes ricinus bite and tick-borne pathogen infection. Following tick attachment, we observed rapidly occurring patterns of immunomodulation including increase in neutrophils and cutaneous B and T cells. T cells up-regulated tissue-residency markers, while lymphocytic cytokine production was impaired. In early stages of Borrelia burgdorferi model infections, we detected strain-specific immune responses and close spatial relationships of macrophages and spirochetes. Pre-incubation of spirochetes with tick salivary gland extracts hampered accumulation of immune cells and increased spirochete loads. Collectively, we showed that tick feeding exerts profound changes on the skin immune network, which interfere with the primary response against tick-borne pathogens.
Johanna Strobl, Verena Muendler, Sophie Müller, Anna Gindl, Sara Berent, Anna-Margarita Schötta, Lisa Kleissl, Clement Staud, Anna Redl, Luisa Unterluggauer, Ana Elena Aguilar González, Sophie Therese Weninger, Denise Atzmüller, Romana Klasinc, Gerold Stanek, Mateusz Markowicz, Hannes Stockinger, Georg Stary
Fusion oncoproteins are the initiating event in the pathogenesis of many pediatric AML. The CBFA2T3-GLIS2 (C/G) fusion is a product of a cryptic translocation primarily seen in infants and early childhood and is associated with dismal outcome. Here, we demonstrate that the expression of the C/G oncogenic fusion protein promotes the transformation of human cord blood hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (CB HSPCs) in an endothelial cell (EC) co-culture system, that recapitulates the transcriptome, morphology and immunophenotype of C/G AML and induces highly aggressive leukemia in xenograft models. Interrogating the transcriptome of C/G-CB cells and primary C/G AML identified a library of C/G fusion-specific genes that are potential targets for therapy. We developed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells directed against one of the targets, FOLR1, and demonstrated their pre-clinical efficacy against C/G AML using in vitro and xenograft models. FOLR1 is also expressed in renal and pulmonary epithelium, raising concerns for toxicity that must be addressed for the clinical application of this therapy. Our findings underscore the role of the endothelial niche in promoting leukemic transformation of C/G-transduced CB HSPCs. Furthermore, this work has broad implications for studies of leukemogenesis applicable to a variety of oncogenic fusion-driven pediatric leukemias, providing a robust and tractable model system to characterize the molecular mechanisms of leukemogenesis and identify biomarkers for disease diagnosis and targets for therapy.
Quy Le, Brandon Hadland, Jenny L. Smith, Amanda Leonti, Benjamin J. Huang, Rhonda Ries, Tiffany A. Hylkema, Sommer Castro, Thao T. Tang, Cyd N. McKay, LaKeisha Perkins, Laura Pardo, Jay Sarthy, Amy K. Beckman, Robin Williams, Rhonda Idemmili, Scott Furlan, Takashi Ishida, Lindsey Call, Shivani Srivastava, Anisha M. Loeb, Filippo Milano, Suzan Imren, Shelli M. Morris, Fiona Pakiam, James M. Olson, Michael R. Loken, Lisa Eidenschink Brodersen, Stanley R. Riddell, Katherine Tarlock, Irwin D. Bernstein, Keith R. Loeb, Soheil Meshinchi
Astrocytes are highly heterogenic in their phenotype and function, which contribute to CNS disease, repair and aging; however, the molecular mechanism of their functional states remains largely unknown. Here we show that activation of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), a protein deacetylase, plays an important role in the detrimental actions of reactive astrocytes, whereas its inactivation endorsed these cells with anti-inflammatory functions that inhibited the production of proinflammatory mediators by myeloid cells/microglia and promoted the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Mice with astrocyte-specific Sirt1 knockout had suppressed progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of CNS inflammatory demyelinating diseases. Ongoing EAE was also suppressed when Sirt1 expression in astrocytes was diminished by CRISPR/Cas vector, resulting in reduced demyelination, decreased numbers of T cells, and increased rate of IL-10-producing macrophages/microglia in the CNS, whereas peripheral immune response remained unaffected. Mechanistically, Sirt1-/- astrocytes expressed a range of nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 (Nfe2l2) target genes, and Nfe2l2 deficiency shifted the beneficial action of Sirt1-/- astrocytes to a detrimental one. These findings identify a novel approach for switching functional state of reactive astrocytes and facilitate the development of astrocyte-targeting therapies for inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Weifeng Zhang, Dan Xiao, Xing Li, Yuan Zhang, Javad Rasouli, Giacomo Casella, Alexandra Boehm, Daniel Hwang, Larissa L.W. Ishikawa, Rodolfo Thome, Bogoljub Ciric, Mark T. Curtis, Abdolmohamad Rostami, Guang-Xian Zhang
Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age. Premature infants who receive life-saving oxygen therapy often develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease. Infants with BPD are at a high risk of abnormal neurodevelopment, including motor and cognitive difficulties. While neural progenitor cells (NPCs) are crucial for proper brain development, it is unclear whether they play a role in BPD-associated neurodevelopmental deficits. Here, we showed that hyperoxia-induced experimental BPD in newborn mice led to life-long impairments in cerebrovascular structure and function, as well as impairments in NPC self-renewal and neurogenesis. A neurosphere assay utilizing non-human primate preterm baboon NPCs confirmed impairment in NPC function. Moreover, gene expression profiling revealed that genes involved in cell proliferation, angiogenesis, vascular autoregulation, neuronal formation, and neurotransmission were dysregulated following neonatal hyperoxia. These impairments were associated with motor and cognitive decline in aging hyperoxia-exposed mice, reminiscent of deficits observed in patients with BPD. Altogether, our findings established a relationship between BPD and abnormal neurodevelopmental outcomes and identified molecular and cellular players of neonatal brain injury that persist throughout adulthood, that may be targeted for early intervention to aid this vulnerable patient population.
Marissa A. Lithopoulos, Xavier Toussay, Shumei Zhong, Liqun Xu, Shamimunisa B. Mustafa, Julie Ouellette, Moises Freitas-Andrade, Cesar C. Comin, Hayam A. Bassam, Adam N. Baker, Yiren Sun, Michael Wakem, Alvaro G. Moreira, Cynthia L. Blanco, Arul Vadivel, Catherine Tsilfidis, Steven R. Seidner, Ruth S. Slack, Diane C. Lagace, Jing Wang, Baptiste Lacoste, Bernard Thébaud
As representatives for our entire team, we thank Jhaveri et al. (1) for their insightful comments on our recent study investigating the increased expression of programmed cell death protein-1 (PD1) in kidneys during aging and FSGS.(2) In our manuscript we showed that PD1 was predominantly increased in podocytes and kidney tubular epithelial cells in both mice and humans. Moreover, in humans, age-elevated glomerular PCDC1 (gene encoding human PD1) levels were associated with a lower eGFR, increased segmental glomerulosclerosis, and reduced arterial intima-to-lumen ratio. We also demonstrated a mechanistic link between increased PD1 levels in podocytes and their shortened lifespan. Finally, specifically antagonizing the PD1 pathway with a specific anti-PD1 antibody (similar to humanized Pembrolizumab or Nivolumab) in aged mice and mice with experimental FSGS had major benefits on kidney histology, podocyte life- and health-span, and tubular epithelial injury.(2) In their response, Jhaveri and colleagues, experts in onco-nephrology, eloquently discuss the clinical kidney-specific adverse events (AEs) when using immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in cancer patients.(1) They provide important clinical insights and an up-to-date summary of the incidence and types of glomerular lesions, acute kidney injury and acute interstitial nephritis observed in patients receiving ICI for cancer treatment.(3,4) Importantly, complete or partial remission of kidney-specific AEs upon discontinuation of ICI treatment in a subset of patients suggests a causal link.(3, 4) We unreservedly agree with Jhaveri et al. that caution is warranted when using ICI clinically. In fact, we have not advocated the clinical use of anti-PD1 treatment to limit or reverse kidney aging, nor to be used as a therapy for FSGS. The clinical data highlighted by Jhaveri et al. underscore the importance of gaining a better understanding of the mechanism(s) underlying kidney complications in patients. While T cell activation, proliferation and subsequent kidney infiltration is the leading hypothesis,(3, 4) how this cumulates into kidney dysfunction is unknown. ICIs block the CTLA-4 and/or PD1 pathways. CTLA-4 acts early in tolerance induction, stopping potentially autoreactive T cells at the initial stage of naive T-cell activation, while PD1 acts late to maintain long-term tolerance, primarily in peripheral tissues.(5) Typically a lower incidence of AEs is associated with PD1 blockade compared with CTLA-4 blockade.(3, 4) Interestingly, in our study mice Ctla4 mRNA levels in contrast to PD1 were not elevated in podocytes with age. There are also several differences between humans and mice that may influence the response to anti-PD1 treatments. To reconcile these, one needs to experimentally align the animal studies with the therapeutic scenario in human cancer patients. Possible considerations include: (i) the duration of therapy - in our study mice received 8 weeks of treatment, while human patients typically receive a 13-week median drug exposure before glomerular disease is first detected; (ii) the presence of comorbid conditions is oftentimes present in humans (e.g., patients receiving additional medications or already exhibiting altered kidney function before receiving ICI agents), but was absent in our mice; (iii) sex and age – the median age of patients developing glomerular disease after ICI treatment is 63 years and 75% thereof are male,(4) while our mouse study was based on males only; (iv) drug dosing – the therapeutic doses of ICIs used in humans might be much higher than the doses of the mouse-specific anti-PD1 antibody yielding beneficial effects in mouse podocytes; (v) finally, genetic variation in humans may influence the response to anti-PD1 treatments, while mice strains are genetically very homogenous. We believe that our study has provided some exciting new considerations that has moved us ahead scientifically. First, the PD1 signaling is a new pathway contributing to the aging of podocytes and other kidney epithelial cells, as well as the response of podocytes in disease. Second, podocyte aging and diseased-induced podocyte injury share a new common pathway – PD1. This raises the possibility that PD1 signaling is one of the pathways responsible for the more severe kidney injury when FSGS is superimposed on an aged kidney. Third, the effects of the anti-PD1 antibody treatment are not restricted to the kidney, but also reduced some aspects of liver aging. This suggests that it might be a common aging pathway, that needs to be studied further. Fourth, the unexpected discovery of PD1 signaling in aging leads us to predict that there will be additional surprises in new pathways contributing to kidney aging and disease that will translate into new druggable targets.
Stuart J. Shankland, Jeffrey W. Pippin, Oliver Wessely
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.
Aging plays a central role in many chronic diseases affecting all systems of the body. Nine hallmarks of aging have been identified: genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion, and altered intercellular communication. This new review series on Aging closely examines how these hallmarks contribute to the initiation and progression of disease. Curated by series editor Dr. James Kirkland, topics span aging’s role in immune system function, cancer, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease, and metabolism. The reviews also discuss the latest developments in senotherapeutic strategies that destroy senescent cells, reverse senescence, or target specific aging hallmarks with a critical eye.