The term “prion” was introduced by Stanley Prusiner in 1982 to describe the atypical infectious agent that causes transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, a group of infectious neurodegenerative diseases that include scrapie in sheep, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, chronic wasting disease in cervids, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle. Over the past twenty years, the word “prion” has been taken to signify various subtly different concepts. In this article, we refer to the prion as the transmissible principle underlying prion diseases, without necessarily implying any specific biochemical or structural identity. When Prusiner started his seminal work, the study of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies was undertaken by only a handful of scientists. Since that time, the “mad cow” crisis has put prion diseases on the agenda of both politicians and the media. Significant progress has been made in prion disease research, and many aspects of prion pathogenesis are now understood. And yet the diagnostic procedures available for prion diseases are not nearly as sensitive as they ought to be, and no therapeutic intervention has been shown to reliably affect the course of the diseases. This article reviews recent progress in the areas of pathogenesis of, diagnostics of, and therapy for prion diseases and highlights some conspicuous problems that remain to be addressed in each of these fields.
Adriano Aguzzi, Mathias Heikenwalder, Gino Miele
Obesity and its associated comorbidities are among the most prevalent and challenging conditions confronting the medical profession in the 21st century. A major metabolic consequence of obesity is insulin resistance, which is strongly associated with the deposition of triglycerides in the liver. Hepatic steatosis can either be a benign, noninflammatory condition that appears to have no adverse sequelae or can be associated with steatohepatitis: a condition that can result in end-stage liver disease, accounting for up to 14% of liver transplants in the US. Here we highlight recent advances in our understanding of the molecular events contributing to hepatic steatosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Jeffrey D. Browning, Jay D. Horton
Although it has been known for more than a decade that Marfan syndrome — a dominantly inherited connective tissue disorder characterized by tall stature, arachnodactyly, lens subluxation, and a high risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection — results from mutations in the FBN1 gene, which encodes fibrillin-1, the precise mechanism by which the pleiotropic phenotype is produced has been unclear. A report in this issue now proposes that loss of fibrillin-1 protein by any of several mechanisms and the subsequent effect on the pool of TGF-β may be more relevant in the development of Marfan syndrome than mechanisms previously proposed in a dominant-negative disease model. The model proposed in this issue demonstrates several strategies for clinical intervention.
Peter H. Byers
Lipodystrophy and insulin resistance are the core features of human PPARγ deficiency states. Metabolic complications in PPARγ deficiency, such as hypertension, have been considered to be secondary to insulin resistance. However, a new mouse model that expresses the analog of a human PPARG mutation displays minimal lipodystrophy and insulin resistance but rather severe hypertension. Furthermore, the mutant protein appears to directly modulate the renin-angiotensin system in adipose tissue, providing evidence of the pleiotropic effects of PPARγ.
Robert A. Hegele, Todd Leff
New data support the importance of the innate immune response in the resolution or progression of pulmonary fibrosis. The presence of CXC chemokine receptor 3–expressing cells, specifically pulmonary NK cells, is necessary to produce IFN-γ. This is critical in the polarization of the immune response to injury toward a favorable Th1 response and resolution. In contrast, a Th2 response is associated with progressive fibrosis.
Robert M. Strieter, Michael P. Keane
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are common and life threatening. Although CD4+ T cells are abundant in aneurysm tissue, their role in disease progression remains unclear. A new study shows that mouse aortic allografts placed in animals lacking IFN-γ receptors develop a Th2 inflammatory response with aortic aneurysms, whereas Th1 responses promote intimal hyperplasia. It is expected that these surprising findings will stimulate further efforts to clarify whether adaptive cellular immunity in aneurysm disease is detrimental or potentially beneficial.
John A. Curci, Robert W. Thompson
Marfan syndrome is a connective tissue disorder caused by mutations in the gene encoding fibrillin-1 (FBN1). A dominant-negative mechanism has been inferred based upon dominant inheritance, mulitimerization of monomers to form microfibrils, and the dramatic paucity of matrix-incorporated fibrillin-1 seen in heterozygous patient samples. Yeast artificial chromosome–based transgenesis was used to overexpress a disease-associated mutant form of human fibrillin-1 (C1663R) on a normal mouse background. Remarkably, these mice failed to show any abnormalities of cellular or clinical phenotype despite regulated overexpression of mutant protein in relevant tissues and developmental stages and direct evidence that mouse and human fibrillin-1 interact with high efficiency. Immunostaining with a human-specific mAb provides what we believe to be the first demonstration that mutant fibrillin-1 can participate in productive microfibrillar assembly. Informatively, use of homologous recombination to generate mice heterozygous for a comparable missense mutation (C1039G) revealed impaired microfibrillar deposition, skeletal deformity, and progressive deterioration of aortic wall architecture, comparable to characteristics of the human condition. These data are consistent with a model that invokes haploinsufficiency for WT fibrillin-1, rather than production of mutant protein, as the primary determinant of failed microfibrillar assembly. In keeping with this model, introduction of a WT FBN1 transgene on a heterozygous C1039G background rescues aortic phenotype.
Daniel P. Judge, Nancy J. Biery, Douglas R. Keene, Jessica Geubtner, Loretha Myers, David L. Huso, Lynn Y. Sakai, Harry C. Dietz
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a common X-linked disease characterized by widespread muscle damage that invariably leads to paralysis and death. There is currently no therapy for this disease. Here we report that a subpopulation of circulating cells expressing AC133, a well-characterized marker of hematopoietic stem cells, also expresses early myogenic markers. Freshly isolated, circulating AC133+ cells were induced to undergo myogenesis when cocultured with myogenic cells or exposed to Wnt-producing cells in vitro and when delivered in vivo through the arterial circulation or directly into the muscles of transgenic scid/mdx mice (which allow survival of human cells). Injected cells also localized under the basal lamina of host muscle fibers and expressed satellite cell markers such as M-cadherin and MYF5. Furthermore, functional tests of injected muscles revealed a substantial recovery of force after treatment. As these cells can be isolated from the blood, manipulated in vitro, and delivered through the circulation, they represent a possible tool for future cell therapy applications in DMD disease or other muscular dystrophies.
Yvan Torrente, Marzia Belicchi, Maurilio Sampaolesi, Federica Pisati, Mirella Meregalli, Giuseppe D’Antona, Rossana Tonlorenzi, Laura Porretti, Manuela Gavina, Kamel Mamchaoui, Maria Antonietta Pellegrino, Denis Furling, Vincent Mouly, Gillian S. Butler-Browne, Roberto Bottinelli, Giulio Cossu, Nereo Bresolin
Since cAMP blocks meiotic maturation of mammalian and amphibian oocytes in vitro and cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A) is primarily responsible for oocyte cAMP hydrolysis, we generated PDE3A-deficient mice by homologous recombination. The Pde3a–/– females were viable and ovulated a normal number of oocytes but were completely infertile, because ovulated oocytes were arrested at the germinal vesicle stage and, therefore, could not be fertilized. Pde3a–/– oocytes lacked cAMP-specific PDE activity, contained increased cAMP levels, and failed to undergo spontaneous maturation in vitro (up to 48 hours). Meiotic maturation in Pde3a–/– oocytes was restored by inhibiting protein kinase A (PKA) with adenosine-3′,5′-cyclic monophosphorothioate, Rp-isomer (Rp-cAMPS) or by injection of protein kinase inhibitor peptide (PKI) or mRNA coding for phosphatase CDC25, which confirms that increased cAMP-PKA signaling is responsible for the meiotic blockade. Pde3a–/– oocytes that underwent germinal vesicle breakdown showed activation of MPF and MAPK, completed the first meiotic division extruding a polar body, and became competent for fertilization by spermatozoa. We believe that these findings provide the first genetic evidence indicating that resumption of meiosis in vivo and in vitro requires PDE3A activity. Pde3a–/– mice represent an in vivo model where meiotic maturation and ovulation are dissociated, which underscores inhibition of oocyte maturation as a potential strategy for contraception.
Silvia Masciarelli, Kathleen Horner, Chengyu Liu, Sun Hee Park, Mary Hinckley, Steven Hockman, Taku Nedachi, Catherine Jin, Marco Conti, Vincent Manganiello
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which includes HIV protease inhibitors (PIs), has been associated with bone demineralization. To determine if this complication reflects accelerated resorptive activity, we studied the impact of two common HIV PIs, ritonavir and indinavir, on osteoclast formation and function. Surprisingly, we find that ritonavir, but not indinavir, inhibits osteoclast differentiation in a reversible manner and also abrogates bone resorption by disrupting the osteoclast cytoskeleton, without affecting cell number. Ritonavir given in vivo completely blunts parathyroid hormone–induced osteoclastogenesis in mice, which confirms that the drug is bone sparing. In keeping with its antiresorptive properties, ritonavir impairs receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand–induced (RANKL-induced) activation of NF-κB and Akt signaling pathways, both critical to osteoclast formation and function. In particular, ritonavir is found to inhibit RANKL-induced Akt signaling by disrupting the recruitment of TNF receptor–associated factor 6/c-Src complex to lipid rafts. Thus, ritonavir may represent a bone-sparing PI capable of preventing development of osteopenia in patients currently on HAART.
Michael W.-H. Wang, Shi Wei, Roberta Faccio, Sunao Takeshita, Pablo Tebas, William G. Powderly, Steven L. Teitelbaum, F. Patrick Ross
The role of different tissues in insulin action and their contribution to the pathogenesis of diabetes remain unclear. To examine this question, we have used genetic reconstitution experiments in mice. Genetic ablation of insulin receptors causes early postnatal death from diabetic ketoacidosis. We show that combined restoration of insulin receptor function in brain, liver, and pancreatic β cells rescues insulin receptor knockout mice from neonatal death, prevents diabetes in a majority of animals, and normalizes adipose tissue content, lifespan, and reproductive function. In contrast, mice with insulin receptor expression limited to brain or liver and pancreatic β cells are rescued from neonatal death, but develop lipoatrophic diabetes and die prematurely. These data indicate, surprisingly, that insulin receptor signaling in noncanonical insulin target tissues is sufficient to maintain fuel homeostasis and prevent diabetes.
Haruka Okamoto, Jun Nakae, Tadahiro Kitamura, Byung-Chul Park, Ioannis Dragatsis, Domenico Accili
We investigated the chronic in vivo effect of resistin on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism by overexpressing resistin protein in male Wistar rats using intravenous administration of an adenovirus encoding mouse resistin. After 7 days of elevated resistin levels at a supraphysiological concentration, the animals displayed glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia during glucose tolerance tests, and insulin tolerance tests demonstrated an impaired glucose-lowering effect of insulin. The glucose clamp studies were performed at submaximal (4 mU/kg/min) and maximal (25 mU/kg/min) insulin infusion rates and demonstrated the presence of insulin resistance induced by elevated resistin levels. Indeed, the insulin-stimulated glucose infusion rate was decreased by 12–31%; suppression of hepatic glucose output was attenuated by 28–55%; and insulin suppression of circulating FFA levels was inhibited by 7%. Insulin receptor substrate–1 and –2 phosphorylation and Akt activation were impaired in muscle and adipose tissue. Interestingly, activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in skeletal muscle, liver, and adipose tissue was also significantly downregulated. Together, these results indicate that chronic “hyper-resistinemia” leads to whole-body insulin resistance involving impaired insulin signaling in skeletal muscle, liver, and adipose tissue, resulting in glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and hypertriglyceridemia. Thus elevated resistin levels in normal rats fed a regular chow diet produce many of the features of human syndrome X.
Hiroaki Satoh, M.T. Audrey Nguyen, Philip D.G. Miles, Takeshi Imamura, Isao Usui, Jerrold M. Olefsky
Resistin is an adipose-derived hormone postulated to link adiposity to insulin resistance. To determine whether resistin plays a causative role in the development of diet-induced insulin resistance, we lowered circulating resistin levels in mice by use of a specific antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (ASO) directed against resistin mRNA and assessed in vivo insulin action by the insulin-clamp technique. After 3 weeks on a high-fat (HF) diet, mice displayed severe insulin resistance associated with an approximately 80% increase in plasma resistin levels. In particular, the rate of endogenous glucose production (GP) increased more than twofold compared with that in mice fed a standard chow. Treatment with the resistin ASO for 1 week normalized the plasma resistin levels and completely reversed the hepatic insulin resistance. Importantly, in this group of mice, the acute infusion of purified recombinant mouse resistin, designed to acutely elevate the levels of circulating resistin up to those observed in the HF-fed mice, was sufficient to reconstitute hepatic insulin resistance. These results provide strong support for a physiological role of resistin in the development of hepatic insulin resistance in this model.
Evan D. Muse, Silvana Obici, Sanjay Bhanot, Brett P. Monia, Robert A. McKay, Michael W. Rajala, Philipp E. Scherer, Luciano Rossetti
Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ), the molecular target of a class of insulin sensitizers, regulates adipocyte differentiation and lipid metabolism. A dominant negative P467L mutation in the ligand-binding domain of PPARγ in humans is associated with severe insulin resistance and hypertension. Homozygous mice with the equivalent P465L mutation die in utero. Heterozygous mice grow normally and have normal total adipose tissue weight. However, they have reduced interscapular brown adipose tissue and intra-abdominal fat mass, and increased extra-abdominal subcutaneous fat, compared with wild-type mice. They have normal plasma glucose levels and insulin sensitivity, and increased glucose tolerance. However, during high-fat feeding, their plasma insulin levels are mildly elevated in association with a significant increase in pancreatic islet mass. They are hypertensive, and expression of the angiotensinogen gene is increased in their subcutaneous adipose tissues. The effects of P465L on blood pressure, fat distribution, and insulin sensitivity are the same in both male and female mice regardless of diet and age. Thus the P465L mutation alone is sufficient to cause abnormal fat distribution and hypertension but not insulin resistance in mice. These results provide genetic evidence for a critical role for PPARγ in blood pressure regulation that is not dependent on altered insulin sensitivity.
Yau-Sheng Tsai, Hyo-Jeong Kim, Nobuyuki Takahashi, Hyung-Suk Kim, John R. Hagaman, Jason K. Kim, Nobuyo Maeda
The high incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) persistence raises the question of how HCV interferes with host immune responses. Studying a single-source HCV outbreak, we identified an HCV mutation that impaired correct carboxyterminal cleavage of an immunodominant HLA-A2–restricted CD8 cell epitope that is frequently recognized by recovered patients. The mutation, a conservative HCV nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) tyrosine to phenylalanine substitution, was absent in 54 clones of the infectious source, but present in 15/21 (71%) HLA-A2–positive and in 11/24 (46%) HLA-A2–negative patients with chronic hepatitis C. In order to analyze whether the mutation affected the processing of the HLA-A2–restricted CD8 cell epitope, mutant and wild-type NS3 polypeptides were digested in vitro with 20S constitutive proteasomes and with immunoproteasomes. The presence of the mutation resulted in impaired carboxyterminal cleavage of the epitope. In order to analyze whether impaired epitope processing affected T cell priming in vivo, HLA-A2–transgenic mice were infected with vaccinia viruses encoding either wild-type or mutant HCV NS3. The mutant induced fewer epitope-specific, IFN-γ;–producing and fewer tetramer+ cells than the wild type. These data demonstrate how a conservative mutation in the flanking region of an HCV epitope impairs the induction of epitope-specific CD8+ T cells and reveal a mechanism that may contribute to viral sequence evolution in infected patients.
Ulrike Seifert, Heike Liermann, Vito Racanelli, Anne Halenius, Manfred Wiese, Heiner Wedemeyer, Thomas Ruppert, Kay Rispeter, Peter Henklein, Alice Sijts, Hartmut Hengel, Peter-M. Kloetzel, Barbara Rehermann
The antiatherogenic properties of apoA-IV suggest that this protein may act as an anti-inflammatory agent. We examined this possibility in a mouse model of acute colitis. Mice consumed 3% dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) in their drinking water for 7 days, with or without daily intraperitoneal injections of recombinant human apoA-IV. apoA-IV significantly and specifically delayed the onset, and reduced the severity and extent of, DSS-induced inflammation, as assessed by clinical disease activity score, macroscopic appearance and histology of the colon, and tissue myeloperoxidase activity. Intravital fluorescence microscopy of colonic microvasculature revealed that apoA-IV significantly inhibited DSS-induced leukocyte and platelet adhesive interactions. Furthermore, apoA-IV dramatically reduced the upregulation of P-selectin on colonic endothelium during DSS-colitis. apoA-IV knockout mice exhibited a significantly greater inflammatory response to DSS than did their WT littermates; this greater susceptibility to DSS-induced inflammation was reversed upon exogenous administration of apoA-IV to knockout mice. These results provide the first direct support for the hypothesis that apoA-IV is an endogenous anti-inflammatory protein. This anti-inflammatory effect likely involves the inhibition of P-selectin–mediated leukocyte and platelet adhesive interactions.
Thorsten Vowinkel, Mikiji Mori, Christian F. Krieglstein, Janice Russell, Fumito Saijo, Sulaiman Bharwani, Richard H. Turnage, W. Sean Davidson, Patrick Tso, D. Neil Granger, Theodore J. Kalogeris
Epidemiological evidence points to the inverse relationship between microbial exposure and the prevalence of allergic asthma and autoimmune diseases in Westernized countries. The molecular basis for this observation has not yet been completely delineated. Here we report that the administration of certain toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, via the activation of innate immunity, induces high levels of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), the rate-limiting enzyme of tryptophan catabolism in various organs. TLR9 ligand–induced pulmonary IDO activity inhibits Th2-driven experimental asthma. IDO activity expressed by resident lung cells rather than by pulmonary DCs suppressed lung inflammation and airway hyperreactivity. Our results provide a mechanistic insight into the various formulations of the hygiene hypothesis and underscore the notion that activation of innate immunity can inhibit adaptive Th cell responses.
Tomoko Hayashi, Lucinda Beck, Cyprian Rossetto, Xing Gong, Osamu Takikawa, Kenji Takabayashi, David H. Broide, Dennis A. Carson, Eyal Raz
One mechanism contributing to immunologic unresponsiveness toward tumors may be presentation of tumor antigens by tolerogenic host APCs. We show that mouse tumor-draining LNs (TDLNs) contained a subset of plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) that constitutively expressed immunosuppressive levels of the enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). Despite comprising only 0.5% of LN cells, these pDCs in vitro potently suppressed T cell responses to antigens presented by the pDCs themselves and also, in a dominant fashion, suppressed T cell responses to third-party antigens presented by nonsuppressive APCs. Adoptive transfer of DCs from TDLNs into naive hosts created profound local T cell anergy, specifically toward antigens expressed by the transferred DCs. Anergy was prevented by targeted disruption of the IDO gene in the DCs or by administration of the IDO inhibitor drug 1-methyl-D-tryptophan to recipient mice. Within the population of pDCs, the majority of the functional IDO-mediated suppressor activity segregated with a novel subset of pDCs coexpressing the B-lineage marker CD19. We hypothesize that IDO-mediated suppression by pDCs in TDLNs creates a local microenvironment that is potently suppressive of host antitumor T cell responses.
David H. Munn, Madhav D. Sharma, Deyan Hou, Babak Baban, Jeffrey R. Lee, Scott J. Antonia, Jane L. Messina, Phillip Chandler, Pandelakis A. Koni, Andrew L. Mellor
CXC chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR3) is the receptor for the IFN-γ–inducible C-X-C chemokines MIG/CXCL9, IP-10/CXCL10, and I-TAC/CXCL11. CXCR3 is expressed on activated immune cells and proliferating endothelial cells. The role of CXCR3 in fibroproliferation has not been investigated. We examined the role of CXCR3 in pulmonary injury and repair in vivo. CXCR3-deficient mice demonstrated increased mortality with progressive interstitial fibrosis relative to WT mice. Increased fibrosis occurred without increased inflammatory cell recruitment. CXCR3 deficiency resulted in both a reduced early burst of IFN-γ production and decreased expression of CXCL10 after lung injury. We identified a relative deficiency in lung NK cells in the unchallenged CXCR3-deficient lung and demonstrated production of IFN-γ by WT lung NK cells in vivo following lung injury. The fibrotic phenotype in the CXCR3-deficient mice was significantly reversed following administration of exogenous IFN-γ or restoration of endogenous IFN-γ production by adoptive transfer of WT lymph node and spleen cells. Finally, pretreatment of WT mice with IFN-γ–neutralizing Ab’s enhanced fibrosis following lung injury. These data demonstrate a nonredundant role for CXCR3 in limiting tissue fibroproliferation and suggest that this effect may be mediated, in part, by the innate production of IFN-γ following lung injury.
Dianhua Jiang, Jiurong Liang, Jennifer Hodge, Bao Lu, Zhou Zhu, Shuang Yu, Juan Fan, Yunfei Gao, Zhinan Yin, Robert Homer, Craig Gerard, Paul W. Noble
Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) cause death due to complications related to expansion and rupture. The underlying mechanisms that drive AAA development remain largely unknown. We recently described evidence for a shift toward T helper type 2 (Th2) cell responses in human AAAs compared with stenotic atheromas. To evaluate putative pathways in AAA formation, we induced Th1- or Th2-predominant cytokine environments in an inflammatory aortic lesion using murine aortic transplantation into WT hosts or those lacking the receptors for the hallmark Th1 cytokine IFN-γ, respectively. Allografts in WT recipients developed intimal hyperplasia, whereas allografts in IFN-γ receptor–deficient (GRKO) hosts developed severe AAA formation associated with markedly increased levels of MMP-9 and MMP-12. Allografts in GRKO recipients treated with anti–IL-4 antibody to block the characteristic IL-4 Th2 cytokine or allografts in GRKO hosts also congenitally deficient in IL-4 did not develop AAA and likewise exhibited attenuated collagenolytic and elastolytic activities. These observations demonstrate an important dichotomy between cellular immune responses that induce IFN-γ– or IL-4–dominated cytokine environments. The findings establish important regulatory roles for a Th1/Th2 cytokine balance in modulating matrix remodeling and have important implications for the pathophysiology of AAAs and arteriosclerosis.
Koichi Shimizu, Masayoshi Shichiri, Peter Libby, Richard T. Lee, Richard N. Mitchell