In a stunningly short period of time, the unexpected coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has turned the unprepared world topsy-turvy. Although the rapidity with which the virus struck was indeed overwhelming, scientists throughout the world have also been up to the task of deciphering the mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 induces the multisystem- and multiorgan-inflammatory response that, collectively, contribute to the high mortality rate in affected individuals. In this issue of the JCI, Skendros et al., is one such team who report that the complement system plays a substantial role in creating the hyper-inflammation and thrombotic microangiopathy that appear to contribute to the severity of COVID-19. In support of the hypothesis that the complement system along with neutrophils and platelets contributes to COVID-19, the authors presented empirical evidence showing that treatment with the complement inhibitor, compstatin Cp-40, inhibited the expression of tissue factor in neutrophils. These results confirm that the complement axis plays a critical role and suggests that targeted therapy using complement inhibitors is a potential therapeutic option to treat COVID-19 induced inflammation.
Berhane Ghebrehiwet, Ellinor I. Peerschke
The newly emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) highlights the urgent need for assays that detect protective levels of neutralizing antibodies. We studied the relationship between anti-spike ectodomain (ECD), anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG titers, and SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralization (VN) titers generated by two in vitro assays using convalescent plasma samples from 68 COVID-19 patients. We report a strong positive correlation between both plasma anti-RBD and anti-ECD IgG titers and in vitro VN titer. The probability of a VN titer ≥160, the FDA-recommended level for convalescent plasma used for COVID-19 treatment, was ≥80% when anti-RBD or anti-ECD titers were ≥1:1350. Of all donors, 37% lacked VN titers ≥160. Dyspnea, hospitalization, and disease severity were significantly associated with higher VN titer. Frequent donation of convalescent plasma did not significantly decrease VN or IgG titers. Analysis of 2,814 asymptomatic adults found 73 individuals with anti-ECD IgG titers of ≥1:50 and strong positive correlation with anti-RBD and VN titers. Fourteen of these individuals had VN titers ≥1:160, all of which had anti-RBD titer ≥1:1350. We conclude that anti-RBD or anti-ECD IgG titers can serve as a surrogate for VN titers to identify suitable plasma donors. Plasma anti-RBD or anti-ECD titers of ≥1:1350 may provide critical information about protection against COVID-19 disease.
Eric Salazar, Suresh V. Kuchipudi, Paul A. Christensen, Todd Eagar, Xin Yi, Picheng Zhao, Zhicheng Jin, S. Wesley Long, Randall J. Olsen, Jian Chen, Brian Castillo, Christopher Leveque, Dalton Towers, Jason J. Lavinder, Jimmy Gollihar, Jose A. Cardona, Gregory C. Ippolito, Ruth H. Nissly, Ian Bird, Denver Greenawalt, Randall M. Rossi, Abhinay Gontu, Sreenidhi Srinivasan, Indira Poojary, Isabella M. Cattadori, Peter Hudson, Nicole M. Josleyn, Laura Prugar, Kathleen E. Huie, Andrew S. Herbert, David W. Bernard, John M. Dye, Vivek Kapur, James M. Musser
Homeostasis of bone metabolism is regulated by the central nervous system and mood disorders such as anxiety are associated with bone metabolism abnormalities, yet our understanding of the central neural circuits regulating bone metabolism is limited. Here, we demonstrate that chronic stress in crewmembers resulted in decreased bone density and elevated anxiety in an isolated habitat mimicking a space station. We then used a mouse model to demonstrate that GABAergic neural circuitry in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) mediates chronic stress-induced bone loss. We show that GABAergic inputs in the VMHdm arise from a specific group of somatostatin neurons in the posterior region of bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), which is indispensable for stress-induced bone loss and is able to trigger bone loss in the absence of stressors. In addition, the sympathetic system and glutamatergic neurons in nucleus tractus solitaries (NTS) were employed to regulate stress-induced bone loss. Our study has therefore identified the central neural mechanism by which chronic stress induced mood disorders, such as anxiety, influence bone metabolism.
Fan Yang, Yunhui Liu, Shanping Chen, Zhongquan Dai, Dazhi Yang, Dashuang Gao, Jie Shao, Yuyao Wang, Ting Wang, Zhijian Zhang, Lu Zhang, William W. Lu, Yinghui Li, Liping Wang
People with COVID-19 can develop pneumonia and severe inflammatory response with excessive cytokine release known as the cytokine storm. The Janus kinase inhibitor baricitinib used to treat rheumatoid arthritis reduces inflammation by modifying the cytokine pathway. In this issue of the JCI, Bronte and Ugel et al. performed an observational longitudinal study to evaluated the use of baricitinib in 20 patients with COVID-19. Treated subjects showed reduced levels of plasma interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), IL-1β and phosphorylated STAT3 and swift lymphocyte restoration. Notably, these patients had a dramatically favorable clinical outcome. While bias can plague uncontrolled research, this study has biological credibility and warrants randomized control studies.
David L. Thomas
Gene editing of the erythroid-specific BCL11A enhancer in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) from sickle cell disease (SCD) patients induces fetal hemoglobin (HbF) without detectable toxicity as assessed by mouse xenotransplant. Here, we evaluated autologous engraftment and HbF induction potential of erythroid-specific BCL11A enhancer edited HSPCs in four non-human primates. We utilized a single guide RNA (sgRNA) with identical human and rhesus target sequences to disrupt a GATA1 binding site at the BCL11A +58 erythroid enhancer. Cas9 protein and sgRNA ribonucleoprotein complex (RNP) was electroporated into rhesus HSPCs, followed by autologous infusion after myeloablation. We found that gene edits persisted in peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow (BM) for up to 101 weeks similarly for BCL11A enhancer or control locus (AAVS1) targeted cells. Biallelic BCL11A enhancer editing resulted in robust γ-globin induction, with the highest levels observed during stress erythropoiesis. Indels were evenly distributed across PB and BM lineages. Off-target edits were not observed. Non-homologous end-joining repair alleles were enriched in engrafting HSCs. In summary, we find that edited HSCs can persist for at least 101 weeks post-transplant, and biallelic edited HSCs provide substantial HbF levels in PB red blood cells, together supporting further clinical translation of this approach.
Selami Demirci, Jing Zeng, Yuxuan Wu, Naoya Uchida, Anne H. Shen, Danilo Pellin, Jackson Gamer, Morgan Yapundich, Claire Drysdale, Jasmine Bonanno, Aylin C. Bonifacino, Allen Krouse, Nathaniel Seth Linde, Theresa Engels, Robert E. Donahue, Juan J. Haro-Mora, Alexis Leonard, Tina Nassehi, Kevin Luk, Shaina N. Porter, Cicera R. Lazzarotto, Shengdar Q. Tsai, Mitchell Weiss, Shondra M. Pruett-Miller, Scot A. Wolfe, Daniel E. Bauer, John F. Tisdale
Chronic viral infections are often established by the exploitation of immune regulatory mechanisms that result in non-functional T cell responses. Viruses that establish persistent infections remain a serious threat to human health. Sphingosine kinase (SphK) 2 generates sphingosine 1-phosphate, which is a molecule known to regulate multiple cellular processes. However, little is known about SphK2’s role during the host immune responses to viral infection. Here, we demonstrate that SphK2 functions during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus Cl 13 (LCMV Cl 13) infection to limit T cell immune pathology, which subsequently aids in the establishment of virus-induced immunosuppression and the resultant viral persistence. The infection of Sphk2-deficient (Sphk2-/-) mice with LCMV Cl 13 led to the development of nephropathy and mortality via T cell-mediated immunopathology. Following LCMV infection, Sphk2-/- CD4+ T cells displayed increased activity and proliferation, and these cells promoted overactive LCMV Cl 13-specific CD8+ T cell responses. Notably, oral instillation of an SphK2-selective inhibitor promoted protective T cell responses and accelerated the termination of LCMV Cl 13 persistence in mice. Thus, SphK2 is indicated as an immunotherapeutic target for the control of persistent viral infections.
Caleb J. Studstill, Curtis J. Pritzl, Young-Jin Seo, Dae Young Kim, Chuan Xia, Jennifer J. Wolf, Ravi Nistala, Madhuvanthi Vijayan, Yong-Bin Cho, Kyung Won Kang, Sang-Myeong Lee, Bumsuk Hahm
Regulatory T (Treg) cells require Foxp3 expression and induction of a specific DNA hypomethylation signature during development, after which Treg cells persist as a self-renewing population that regulates immune system activation. Whether maintenance DNA methylation is required for Treg cell lineage development and stability and how methylation patterns are maintained during lineage self-renewal remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the epigenetic regulator Uhrf1 is essential for maintenance of methyl-DNA marks that stabilize Treg cellular identity by repressing effector T cell transcriptional programs. Constitutive and induced deficiency of Uhrf1 within Foxp3+ cells resulted in global yet non-uniform loss of DNA methylation, derepression of inflammatory transcriptional programs, destabilization of the Treg cell lineage, and spontaneous inflammation. These findings support a paradigm in which maintenance DNA methylation is required in distinct regions of the Treg cell genome for both lineage establishment and stability of identity and suppressive function.
Kathryn A. Helmin, Luisa Morales-Nebreda, Manuel A. Torres Acosta, Kishore R. Anekalla, Shang-Yang Chen, Hiam Abdala-Valencia, Yuliya Politanska, Paul Cheresh, Mahzad Akbarpour, Elizabeth M. Steinert, Samuel E. Weinberg, Benjamin D. Singer
Germ cell tumors (GCTs) are the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15-40. While most patients are cured, those with disease arising in the mediastinum have distinctly poor outcomes. One in every 17 patients with primary mediastinal non-seminomatous GCTs develop an incurable hematologic malignancy and prior data intriguingly suggests a clonal relationship exists between hematologic malignancies and GCTs in these cases. To date however, the precise clonal relationship between GCTs and the diverse additional somatic malignancies arising in such individuals has not been determined. Here, we traced the clonal evolution and characterized the genetic features of each neoplasm from a cohort of fifteen patients with GCTs and associated hematologic malignancies. We discovered that GCTs and hematologic malignancies developing in such individuals evolved from a common shared precursor, nearly all of which harbored allelically imbalanced TP53 and/or RAS pathway mutations. Hematologic malignancies arising in this setting genetically resembled mediastinal GCTs rather than de novo myeloid neoplasms. Our findings argue that this scenario represents a unique clinical syndrome, distinct from de novo GCTs or hematologic malignancies, initiated by an ancestral precursor which gives rise to the parallel evolution of GCTs and blood cancers in these patients.
Justin Taylor, Mark T.A. Donoghue, Caleb Ho, Kseniya Petrova-Drus, Hikmat A. Al-Ahmadie, Samuel A. Funt, Yanming Zhang, Umut Aypar, Pavitra Nagesh Rao, Shweta S. Chavan, Michael Haddadin, Roni Tamari, Sergio Giralt, Martin S. Tallman, Raajit K. Rampal, Priscilla Baez, Rajya Kappagantula, Satyajit Kosuri, Ahmet Dogan, Satish K. Tickoo, Victor E. Reuter, George J. Bosl, Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue, David B. Solit, Barry S. Taylor, Darren R. Feldman, Omar Abdel-Wahab
BACKGROUND. Understanding outcomes and immunologic characteristics of cellular therapy recipients with SARS-CoV-2 is critical to performing these potentially life-saving therapies in the COVID-19 era. In this study of recipients of allogeneic (Allo) and autologous (Auto) hematopoietic cell transplant and CD19-directed chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy (CAR-T) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, we aimed to identify clinical variables associated with COVID-19 severity and assess lymphocyte populations. METHODS. We retrospectively investigated patients diagnosed between March 15th and May 7th, 2020. In a subset of patients, lymphocyte immunophenotyping, quantitative real-time PCR from nasopharyngeal swabs, and SARS-CoV-2 antibody status were available. RESULTS. We identified 77 SARS-CoV-2 + cellular therapy recipients (Allo = 35, Auto = 37, CAR-T = 5; median time from cellular therapy 782 days (IQR 354,1611). Overall survival at 30 days was 78%. Clinical variables significantly associated with the composite endpoint of non-rebreather or higher oxygen requirement and death (n events = 25/77) included number of co-morbidities (HR 5.41, P = 0.004), infiltrates (HR 3.08, P = 0.032), and neutropenia (HR 1.15, P = 0.04). Worsening graft-versus-host-disease was not identified among Allo subjects. Immune profiling revealed reductions and rapid recovery in lymphocyte populations across lymphocyte subsets. Antibody responses were seen in a subset of patients. CONCLUSION. In this series of Allo, Auto, and CAR-T recipients, we report overall favorable clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients without active malignancy and provide preliminary insights into the lymphocyte populations that are key for the anti-viral response and immune reconstitution. FUNDING. NIH P01 CA23766, NIH/NCI P30 CA008748.
Gunjan L. Shah, Susan DeWolf, Yeon Joo Lee, Roni Tamari, Parastoo B. Dahi, Jessica A. Lavery, Josel D. Ruiz, Sean M. Devlin, Christina Cho, Jonathan U. Peled, Ioannis Politikos, Michael Scordo, N. Esther Babady, Tania Jain, Santosha Vardhana, Anthony F. Daniyan, Craig S. Sauter, Juliet N. Barker, Sergio A. Giralt, Cheryl Goss, Peter Maslak, Tobias M. Hohl, Mini Kamboj, Lakshmi Ramanathan, Marcel R.M. van den Brink, Esperanza B. Papadopoulos, Genovefa A. Papanicolaou, Miguel-Angel Perales
The transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) is a central mediator of innate and adaptive immunity. Genetic variations within IRF5 associate with risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and mice lacking Irf5 are protected from lupus onset and severity, but how IRF5 functions in the context of SLE disease progression remains unclear. Using the NZB/W F1 model of murine lupus, we show that murine Irf5 becomes hyper-activated before clinical onset. In SLE patients, IRF5 hyper-activation correlated with dsDNA titers. To test whether IRF5 hyper-activation is a targetable function, we developed novel inhibitors that are cell permeable, non-toxic and selectively bind to the inactive IRF5 monomer. Preclinical treatment of NZB/W F1 mice with inhibitor attenuated lupus pathology by reducing serum ANA, dsDNA titers and the number of circulating plasma cells, which alleviated kidney pathology and improved survival. Clinical treatment of MRL/lpr and pristane-induced mice with inhibitor led to significant reductions in dsDNA levels and improved survival. In ex vivo human studies, the inhibitor blocked SLE serum-induced IRF5 activation in healthy immune cells and reversed basal IRF5 hyper-activation in SLE immune cells. Altogether, this study provides the first in vivo clinical support for treating SLE patients with an IRF5 inhibitor.
Su Song, Saurav De, Victoria Nelson, Samin Chopra, Margaret LaPan, Kyle Kampta, Shan Sun, Mingzhu He, Cherrie D. Thompson, Dan Li, Tiffany Shih, Natalie Tan, Yousef Al-Abed, Eugenio Capitle, Cynthia Aranow, Meggan Mackay, William L. Clapp, Betsy J. Barnes
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is characterized by pulmonary artery remodeling that can subsequently culminate in right heart failure and premature death. Emerging evidence suggests that Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) signaling plays a fundamental and pivotal role in the pathogenesis of PH. This review summarizes the regulation of HIF isoforms and their impact in various PH subtypes, as well as the elaborate conditional and cell specific knockout mouse studies that brought the role of this pathway to light. We also discuss the current preclinical status of pan- and isoform-selective HIF inhibitors, and propose new research areas that may facilitate HIF isoform-specific inhibition as a novel therapeutic strategy for PH and right heart failure.
Soni Savai Pullamsetti, Argen Mamazhakypov, Norbert Weissmann, Werner Seeger, Rajkumar Savai
Epithelial cell dysfunction has emerged as a central component in the pathophysiology of diffuse parenchymal diseases including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Alveolar type 2 (AT2) cells represent a metabolically active lung cell population important for surfactant biosynthesis and alveolar homeostasis. AT2 cells and other distal lung epithelia, like all eukaryotic cells, contain an elegant quality control (QC) network to respond to intrinsic metabolic and biosynthetic challenges imparted by mutant protein conformers, dysfunctional subcellular organelles, and dysregulated telomeres. Failed AT2 QC components (ubiquitin-proteasome system, unfolded protein response, macroautophagy, mitophagy, and telomere maintenance) result in diverse cellular endophenotypes and molecular signatures including ER stress, defective autophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction, apoptosis, inflammatory cell recruitment, profibrotic signaling, and altered progenitor function that ultimately converge to drive downstream fibrotic remodeling in the IPF lung. As this complex network becomes increasingly better understood, opportunities will emerge to identify targets and therapeutic strategies for IPF.
Jeremy Katzen, Michael F. Beers
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) and the HIF-dependent cancer hallmarks angiogenesis and metabolic rewiring are well-established drivers of breast cancer aggressiveness, therapy resistance, and poor prognosis. Targeting of HIF and its downstream targets in angiogenesis and metabolism has been unsuccessful so far in the breast cancer clinical setting, with major unresolved challenges residing in target selection, development of robust biomarkers for response prediction, and understanding and harnessing escape mechanisms. This Review discusses the pathophysiological role of HIFs, angiogenesis, and metabolism in breast cancer and the challenges of targeting these features in breast cancer patients. Rational therapeutic combinations, especially with immunotherapy and endocrine therapy, seem most promising in the clinical exploitation of the intricate interplay of HIFs, angiogenesis, and metabolism in breast cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment.
Ellen C. de Heer, Mathilde Jalving, Adrian L. Harris
Hypoxia/HIF-1α- and extracellular adenosine/A2-adenosine receptor-mediated immunosuppression protects tissues from collateral damage by anti-pathogen immune cells. However, this mechanism also protects cancerous tissues by inhibiting anti-tumor immune cells in hypoxic and extracellular adenosine-rich tumors that are the most resistant to current therapies. Here, we explain a conceptually novel, anti-immunosuppressive reasoning to justify strategies using respiratory hyperoxia and oxygenation agents in cancer treatment. Earlier attempts to use oxygenation of tumors as a monotherapy or to improve radiotherapy have failed because oxygenation protocols were not combined with immunotherapies of cancer. In contrast, the proposal for therapeutic use of anti-hypoxic oxygenation described here was motivated by the need to prevent the hypoxia/HIF-1α-driven accumulation of extracellular adenosine to (i) unleash anti-tumor immune cells from inhibition by intracellular cAMP and (ii) prevent immunosuppressive transcription of cAMP response element- and hypoxia response element-containing immunosuppressive gene products (e.g. TGF-β. Using oxygenation agents together with inhibitors of the A2A adenosine receptor may be required to enable the most effective cancer immunotherapy. The emerging outcomes from clinical trials of cancer patients refractory to all other treatments provide support for the molecular and immunological mechanism-based approach to cancer immunotherapy described here.
Stephen M. Hatfield, Michail V. Sitkovsky
Several important features of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) differentiate it from Kawasaki disease. Rowley et al. discuss what is known about MIS-C and the need to elucidate the specific immune mechanisms underlying hyperinflammatory syndromes caused by SARS-CoV-2 to advance potential targeted treatments and prevention efforts.
Anne H. Rowley, Stanford T. Shulman, Moshe Arditi
The sodium-phosphate co-transporter NPT2a plays a key role in reabsorbing filtered phosphate in proximal renal tubules thereby critically contributing to phosphate homeostasis. Inadequate urinary phosphate excretion can lead to severe hyperphosphatemia as in tumoral calcinosis, and in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Pharmacological inhibition of NPT2a may therefore represent a novel approach for treating hyperphosphatemic conditions. The NPT2a-selective small molecule inhibitor, PF-06869206, was previously shown to reduce phosphate uptake in human proximal tubular cells in vitro. We now investigated the acute and chronic effects of the inhibitor in vivo and report that administration of PF-06869206 was well-tolerated and elicited a dose-dependent increase in fractional phosphate excretion. This phosphaturic effect lowered plasma phosphate levels in wild-type mice and in rats with CKD due to subtotal nephrectomy. PF-06869206 had no effect in Npt2a-null mice, but promoted phosphate excretion and reduced plasma phosphate in normophophatemic mice lacking Npt2c and in hyperphosphatemic mice lacking Fgf23 or Galnt3. In CKD rats, once daily administration of PF-06869206 for eight weeks induced an unabated acute phosphaturic and hypophosphatemic effect, but had no significant effect on FGF23 or PTH levels. Selective pharmacological inhibition of NPT2a thus holds promises as a novel therapeutic option for genetic and acquired hyperphosphatemic disorders.
Valerie Clerin, Hiroshi Saito, Kevin J. Filipski, An Hai Nguyen, Jeonifer Garren, Janka Kisucka, Monica Reyes, Harald Jüppner
Astrocytes play multiple functions in the brain, including blood vessel (BV) homeostasis and function. However, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we provide evidence for astrocytic neogenin (NEO1), a member of deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) family netrin receptors, to be involved in this event. Mice with Neo1 depletion in astrocytes exhibited clustered astrocyte distribution and increased BVs in their cortex. These BVs were leaky with reduced blood flow, disrupted basement membranes (vBMs), decreased pericytes, impaired endothelial cell (EC) barrier, and elevated tip EC proliferation. Increased proliferation was also detected in cultured ECs exposed to the conditional medium (CM) of NEO1 depleted astrocytes. Further screening for angiogenetic factors in the CM identifies netrin-1 (NTN1), whose expression was decreased in NEO1 depleted cortical astrocytes. Adding NTN1 into the CM of NEO1 depleted astrocytes attenuated EC proliferation. Expressing NTN1 in NEO1 mutant cortical astrocytes ameliorated phenotypes in blood–brain barrier (BBB), EC, and astrocyte distribution. NTN1 depletion in astrocytes resulted in similar BV/BBB deficits in the cortex as those of Neo1 mutant mice. In aggregates, these results uncovered an unrecognized pathway, astrocytic NEO1 to NTN1, not only regulating astrocyte distribution, but also promoting cortical BV homeostasis and function.
Ling-ling Yao, Jin-xia Hu, Qiang Li, Daehoon Lee, Xiao Ren, Jun-shi Zhang, Dong Sun, Hong-sheng Zhang, Yong-gang Wang, Lin Mei, Wen-Cheng Xiong
After over three decades of research, an effective anti-HIV vaccine remains elusive. The recently halted HVTN702 clinical trial not only further stresses the challenge to develop an effective HIV vaccine, but also emphasizes that unconventional and novel vaccine strategies are urgently needed. Here, we report that a vaccine focusing the immune response on the sequences surrounding the 12 viral protease cleavage sites (PCSs) provided greater than 80% protection to Mauritian cynomolgus macaques (MCMs) against repeated intravaginal SIVmac251 challenges. The PCS-specific T cell responses correlated with vaccine efficacy. The PCS vaccine did not induce immune activation or inflammation known to be associated with increased susceptibility to HIV infection. Machine learning analyses revealed that the immune microenvironment generated by the PCS vaccine was predictive of vaccine efficacy. Our study demonstrates for the first time that a vaccine which targets only viral maturation, but lacks full-length Env and Gag immunogens, can prevent intravaginal infection in a stringent macaque/SIV challenge model. Targeting HIV maturation thus offers a novel approach to developing an effective HIV vaccine.
Hongzhao Li, Robert W. Omange, Binhua Liang, Nikki Toledo, Yan Hai, Lewis R. Liu, Dane Schalk, Jose Crecente-Campo, Tamara G. Dacoba, Andrew B. Lambe, So-Yon Lim, Lin Li, Mohammad Abul Kashem, Yanmin Wan, Jorge F. Correia-Pinto, Michael S. Seaman, Xiao-Qing Liu, Robert F. Balshaw, Qingsheng Li, Nancy Schultz-Darken, Maria Jose Alonso, Francis A. Plummer, James B. Whitney, Ma Luo
Heterotopic ossification (HO) is pathological bone formation characterized by ossification within muscle, tendons, or other soft tissues. However, the cells of origin and mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of HO remain elusive. Here we show that deletion of Suppressor of fused (Sufu) in Cathepsin K-Cre-expressing (Ctsk-Cre-expressing) cells resulted in spontaneous and progressive ligament, tendon, and periarticular ossification. Lineage tracing studies and cell functional analysis demonstrated that Ctsk-Cre could label a subpopulation of tendon-derived progenitor cells (TDPCs) marked by tendon marker Scleraxis (Scx). Ctsk+Scx+ TDPCs are enriched for tendon stem cell markers and show the highest self-renewal capacity and differentiation potential. Sufu deficiency caused enhanced chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation of Ctsk-Cre-expressing tendon-derived cells via upregulating Hedgehog (Hh) signaling. Furthermore, pharmacological intervention of hedgehog signaling using JQ1 suppressed the development of HO. Thus, our results display that Cathepsin K-Cre labels a subpopulation of TDPCs contributing to HO and their cell fate changes are driven by activation of Hh signaling.
Heng Feng, Wenhui Xing, Yujiao Han, Jun Sun, Mingxiang Kong, Bo Gao, Yang Yang, Zi Yin, Xiao Chen, Yun Zhao, Qing Bi, Weiguo Zou
Background: Marked progress is achieved in understanding the physiopathology of COVID-19 that caused global pandemics. However, CD4+ T cell population that is critical for antibody response in COVID-19 is poorly understood. Methods: In this study, we provided a comprehensive analysis of peripheral CD4+ T cells of 13 COVID-19 convalescent patients, as defined as confirmed free of SARS-CoV-2 for 2-4 weeks, using flow cytometry, magnetic chemiluminescence enzyme antibody immunoassay and correlated the data with clinical characteristics. Results: We observed that relative to healthy individuals, convalescent patients displayed an altered peripheral CD4+ T cell spectrum. Specifically, consistent with other viral infections, cTFH1 cell associated with SARS-CoV-2 targeting antibodies, which was found to skew with disease severity as more severe individuals showed higher frequency of TEM and TFH-EM cells but a lower frequency of TCM, TFH-CM and TNaive cells, relative to mild and moderate patients. Interestingly, higher frequency of cTFH-EM cells correlated with lower number of recorded admission blood oxygen level in convalescent patients. These observations might constitute residual effects by which COVID-19 can impact the homeostasis of CD4+ T cells in the long-term and explain the highest ratio of class-switched virus-specific antibody producing individuals found in our severe COVID-19 cohort. Conclusion: Together, our study demonstrated close connection between CD4+ T cells and antibody production in COVID-19 convalescents.Funding: This study was supported by Six Talent Peaks Project in Jiangsu Province and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) grants 81970759.
Fang Gong, Yaping Dai, Ting Zheng, Liang Cheng, Dan Zhao, Hao Wang, Min Liu, Hao Pei, Tengchuan Jin, Di Yu, Pengcheng Zhou