BACKGROUND. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused over one million deaths worldwide, thus there is an urgent need to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies. The anti-tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) demonstrates non-specific protective innate immune-boosting effects. Here, we determined if history of BCG vaccination was associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 infection and seroconversion in a retrospective observational study of a diverse cohort of health care workers (HCWs). METHODS. We assessed SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and collected medical questionnaires, including BCG vaccination status and pre-existing demographic and clinical characteristics, from an observational cohort of HCWs in a multi-site Los Angeles healthcare organization. We used multi-variate analysis to estimate if history of BCG vaccination was associated with decreased rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection and seroconversion. RESULTS. Of the 6,201 HCWs, 29.6% reported a history of BCG vaccination whereas 68.9% did not receive BCG vaccination. Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG as well as incidence of self-reported clinical symptoms associated with COVID-19 were significantly decreased among HCWs with a history of BCG vaccination compared to those without BCG vaccination. After adjusting for age and sex, we found that history of BCG vaccination, but not meningococcal, pneumococcal or influenza vaccination, was associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 IgG seroconversion. CONCLUSIONS. History of BCG vaccination was associated with decreased seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG and reduced reported COVID-19-related clinical symptoms in this cohort of HCWs. Therefore, large randomized prospective clinical trials of BCG vaccination are urgently needed to confirm if BCG vaccination can induced a protective effect against SARS-CoV2 infection. FUNDING. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute (U54 CA26059) and the Erika J. Glazer Family Foundation. Key words: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, BCG, anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG, healthcare workers, trained immunity.
Magali Noval Rivas, Joseph E. Ebinger, Min Wu, Nancy Sun, Jonathan Braun, Kimia Sobhani, Jennifer E. Van Eyk, Susan Cheng, Moshe Arditi
BACKGROUND Kisspeptin is a key regulator of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and is essential for reproductive health. A specific kisspeptin receptor (KISS1R) agonist could significantly expand the potential clinical utility of therapeutics targeting the kisspeptin pathway. Herein, we investigate the effects of a KISS1R agonist, MVT-602, in healthy women and in women with reproductive disorders.METHODS We conducted in vivo and in vitro studies to characterize the action of MVT-602 in comparison with native kisspeptin-54 (KP54). We determined the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of MVT-602 (doses 0.01 and 0.03 nmol/kg) versus KP54 (9.6 nmol/kg) in the follicular phase of healthy women (n = 9), and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS; n = 6) or hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA; n = 6). Further, we investigated their effects on KISS1R-mediated inositol monophosphate (IP1) and Ca2+ signaling in cell lines and on action potential firing of GnRH neurons in brain slices.RESULTS In healthy women, the amplitude of luteinizing hormone (LH) rise was similar to that after KP54, but peaked later (21.4 vs. 4.7 hours; P = 0.0002), with correspondingly increased AUC of LH exposure (169.0 vs. 38.5 IU∙h/L; P = 0.0058). LH increases following MVT-602 were similar in PCOS and healthy women, but advanced in HA (P = 0.004). In keeping with the clinical data, MVT-602 induced more potent signaling of KISS1R-mediated IP1 accumulation and a longer duration of GnRH neuron firing than KP54 (115 vs. 55 minutes; P = 0.0012).CONCLUSION Taken together, these clinical and mechanistic data identify MVT-602 as having considerable therapeutic potential for the treatment of female reproductive disorders.TRIAL REGISTRATION International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) Registry, ISRCTN21681316.FUNDING National Institute for Health Research and NIH.
Ali Abbara, Pei Chia Eng, Maria Phylactou, Sophie A. Clarke, Rachel Richardson, Charlene M. Sykes, Chayarndorn Phumsatitpong, Edouard Mills, Manish Modi, Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya, Debbie Papadopoulou, Kate Purugganan, Channa N. Jayasena, Lisa Webber, Rehan Salim, Bryn Owen, Paul Bech, Alexander N. Comninos, Craig A. McArdle, Margaritis Voliotis, Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, Suzanne Moenter, Aylin Hanyaloglu, Waljit S. Dhillo
BACKGROUND Interpatient differences in the accumulation of methotrexate’s active polyglutamylated metabolites (MTXPGs) in leukemia cells influence its antileukemic effects.METHODS To identify genomic and epigenomic and patient variables determining the intracellular accumulation of MTXPGs, we measured intracellular MTXPG levels in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells from 388 newly diagnosed patients after in vivo high-dose methotrexate (HDMTX) (1 g/m2) treatment, defined ALL subtypes, and assessed genomic and epigenomic variants influencing folate pathway genes (mRNA, miRNA, copy number alterations [CNAs], SNPs, single nucleotide variants [SNVs], CpG methylation).RESULTS We documented greater than 100-fold differences in MTXPG levels, which influenced its antileukemic effects (P = 4 × 10–5). Three ALL subtypes had lower MTXPG levels (T cell ALL [T-ALL] and B cell ALL [B-ALL] with the TCF3-PBX1 or ETV6-RUNX1 fusions), and 2 subtypes had higher MTXPG levels (hyperdiploid and BCR-ABL like). The folate pathway genes SLC19A1, ABCC1, ABCC4, FPGS, and MTHFD1 significantly influenced intracellular MTXPG levels (P = 2.9 × 10–3 to 3.7 × 10–8). A multivariable model including the ALL subtype (P = 1.1 × 10–14), the SLC19A1/(ABCC1 + ABCC4) transporter ratio (P = 3.6 × 10–4), the MTX infusion time (P = 1.5 × 10–3), FPGS mRNA expression (P = 2.1 × 10–3), and MTX systemic clearance (P = 4.4 × 10–2) explained 42% of the variation in MTXPG accumulation (P = 1.1 × 10–38). Model simulations indicated that a longer infusion time (24 h vs. 4 h) was superior in achieving higher intracellular MTXPG levels across all subtypes if ALL.CONCLUSIONS These findings provide insights into mechanisms underlying interpatient differences in intracellular accumulation of MTXPG in leukemia cells and its antileukemic effectsFUNDING THE National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH, the Basque Government Programa Posdoctoral de Perfeccionamiento de Personal Investigador doctor, and the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC).
Elixabet Lopez-Lopez, Robert J. Autry, Colton Smith, Wenjian Yang, Steven W. Paugh, John C. Panetta, Kristine R. Crews, Erik J. Bonten, Brandon Smart, Deqing Pei, J. Robert McCorkle, Barthelemy Diouf, Kathryn G. Roberts, Lei Shi, Stanley Pounds, Cheng Cheng, Charles G. Mullighan, Ching-Hon Pui, Mary V. Relling, William E. Evans
BACKGROUND Data from studies conducted in rodent models have shown that decreased adipose tissue (AT) oxygenation is involved in the pathogenesis of obesity-induced insulin resistance. Here, we evaluated the potential influence of AT oxygenation on AT biology and insulin sensitivity in people.METHODS We evaluated subcutaneous AT oxygen partial pressure (pO2); liver and whole-body insulin sensitivity; AT expression of genes and pathways involved in inflammation, fibrosis, and branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolism; systemic markers of inflammation; and plasma BCAA concentrations, in 3 groups of participants that were rigorously stratified by adiposity and insulin sensitivity: metabolically healthy lean (MHL; n = 11), metabolically healthy obese (MHO; n = 15), and metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO; n = 20).RESULTS AT pO2 progressively declined from the MHL to the MHO to the MUO group, and was positively associated with hepatic and whole-body insulin sensitivity. AT pO2 was positively associated with the expression of genes involved in BCAA catabolism, in conjunction with an inverse relationship between AT pO2 and plasma BCAA concentrations. AT pO2 was negatively associated with AT gene expression of markers of inflammation and fibrosis. Plasma PAI-1 increased from the MHL to the MHO to the MUO group and was negatively correlated with AT pO2, whereas the plasma concentrations of other cytokines and chemokines were not different among the MHL and MUO groups.CONCLUSION These results support the notion that reduced AT oxygenation in individuals with obesity contributes to insulin resistance by increasing plasma PAI-1 concentrations and decreasing AT BCAA catabolism and thereby increasing plasma BCAA concentrations.TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02706262.FUNDING This study was supported by NIH grants K01DK109119, T32HL130357, K01DK116917, R01ES027595, P42ES010337, DK56341 (Nutrition Obesity Research Center), DK20579 (Diabetes Research Center), DK052574 (Digestive Disease Research Center), and UL1TR002345 (Clinical and Translational Science Award); NIH Shared Instrumentation Grants S10RR0227552, S10OD020025, and S10OD026929; and the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Vincenza Cifarelli, Scott C. Beeman, Gordon I. Smith, Jun Yoshino, Darya Morozov, Joseph W. Beals, Brandon D. Kayser, Jeramie D. Watrous, Mohit Jain, Bruce W. Patterson, Samuel Klein
BACKGROUND Corticosteroids are widely used in patients with COVID 19, although their benefit-to-risk ratio remains controversial.METHODS Patients with severe COVID-19–related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were included from December 29, 2019 to March 16, 2020 in 5 tertiary Chinese hospitals. Cox proportional hazards and competing risks analyses were conducted to analyze the impact of corticosteroids on mortality and SARS–CoV-2 RNA clearance, respectively. We performed a propensity score (PS) matching analysis to control confounding factors.RESULTS Of 774 eligible patients, 409 patients received corticosteroids, with a median time from hospitalization to starting corticosteroids of 1.0 day (IQR 0.0–3.0 days) . As compared with usual care, treatment with corticosteroids was associated with increased rate of myocardial (15.6% vs. 10.4%, P = 0.041) and liver injury (18.3% vs. 9.9%, P = 0.001), of shock (22.0% vs. 12.6%, P < 0.001), of need for mechanical ventilation (38.1% vs. 19.5%, P < 0.001), and increased rate of 28-day all-cause mortality (44.3% vs. 31.0%, P < 0.001). After PS matching, corticosteroid therapy was associated with 28-day mortality (adjusted HR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01–2.13, P = 0.045). High dose (>200 mg) and early initiation (≤3 days from hospitalization) of corticosteroid therapy were associated with a higher 28-day mortality rate. Corticosteroid use was also associated with a delay in SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus RNA clearance in the competing risk analysis (subhazard ratio 1.59, 95% CI 1.17–2.15, P = 0.003).CONCLUSION Administration of corticosteroids in severe COVID-19–related ARDS is associated with increased 28-day mortality and delayed SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus RNA clearance after adjustment for time-varying confounders.FUNDING None.
Jiao Liu, Sheng Zhang, Xuan Dong, Zhongyi Li, Qianghong Xu, Huibin Feng, Jing Cai, Sisi Huang, Jun Guo, Lidi Zhang, Yizhu Chen, Wei Zhu, Hangxiang Du, Yongan Liu, Tao Wang, Limin Chen, Zhenliang Wen, Djillali Annane, Jieming Qu, Dechang Chen
BACKGROUND Therapeutic vaccinations against cancer have mainly targeted differentiation antigens, cancer-testis antigens, and overexpressed antigens and have thus far resulted in little clinical benefit. Studies conducted by multiple groups have demonstrated that T cells recognizing neoantigens are present in most cancers and offer a specific and highly immunogenic target for personalized vaccination.METHODS We recently developed a process using tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to identify the specific immunogenic mutations expressed in patients’ tumors. Here, validated, defined neoantigens, predicted neoepitopes, and mutations of driver genes were concatenated into a single mRNA construct to vaccinate patients with metastatic gastrointestinal cancer.RESULTS The vaccine was safe and elicited mutation-specific T cell responses against predicted neoepitopes not detected before vaccination. Furthermore, we were able to isolate and verify T cell receptors targeting KRASG12D mutation. We observed no objective clinical responses in the 4 patients treated in this trial.CONCLUSION This vaccine was safe, and potential future combination of such vaccines with checkpoint inhibitors or adoptive T cell therapy should be evaluated for possible clinical benefit in patients with common epithelial cancers.TRIAL REGISTRATION Phase I/II protocol (NCT03480152) was approved by the IRB committee of the NIH and the FDA.FUNDING Center for Clinical Research, NCI, NIH.
Gal Cafri, Jared J. Gartner, Tal Zaks, Kristen Hopson, Noam Levin, Biman C. Paria, Maria R. Parkhurst, Rami Yossef, Frank J. Lowery, Mohammad S. Jafferji, Todd D. Prickett, Stephanie L. Goff, Christine T. McGowan, Samantha Seitter, Mackenzie L. Shindorf, Anup Parikh, Praveen D. Chatani, Paul F. Robbins, Steven A. Rosenberg
BACKGROUND HIV-1 viremia that is not suppressed by combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) is generally attributed to incomplete medication adherence and/or drug resistance. We evaluated individuals referred by clinicians for nonsuppressible viremia (plasma HIV-1 RNA above 40 copies/mL) despite reported adherence to ART and the absence of drug resistance to the current ART regimen.METHODS Samples were collected from at least 2 time points from 8 donors who had nonsuppressible viremia for more than 6 months. Single templates of HIV-1 RNA obtained from plasma and viral outgrowth of cultured cells and from proviral DNA were amplified by PCR and sequenced for evidence of clones of cells that produced infectious viruses. Clones were confirmed by host-proviral integration site analysis.RESULTS HIV-1 genomic RNA with identical sequences were identified in plasma samples from all 8 donors. The identical viral RNA sequences did not change over time and did not evolve resistance to the ART regimen. In 4 of the donors, viral RNA sequences obtained from plasma matched those sequences from viral outgrowth cultures, indicating that the viruses were replication competent. Integration sites for infectious proviruses from those 4 donors were mapped to the introns of the MATR3, ZNF268, ZNF721/ABCA11P, and ABCA11P genes. The sizes of the clones were estimated to be from 50 million to 350 million cells.CONCLUSION These findings show that clones of HIV-1–infected cells producing virus can cause failure of ART to suppress viremia. The mechanisms involved in clonal expansion and persistence need to be defined to effectively target viremia and the HIV-1 reservoir.FUNDING National Cancer Institute, NIH; Howard Hughes Medical Research Fellows Program, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Office of AIDS Research; American Cancer Society; National Cancer Institute through a Leidos subcontract; National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, to the I4C Martin Delaney Collaboratory; University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research and University of Rochester HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit.
Elias K. Halvas, Kevin W. Joseph, Leah D. Brandt, Shuang Guo, Michele D. Sobolewski, Jana L. Jacobs, Camille Tumiotto, John K. Bui, Joshua C. Cyktor, Brandon F. Keele, Gene D. Morse, Michael J. Bale, Wei Shao, Mary F. Kearney, John M. Coffin, Jason W. Rausch, Xiaolin Wu, Stephen H. Hughes, John W. Mellors
BACKGROUND. Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) improves diagnostic rates in individuals with suspected Mendelian conditions to varying degrees, primarily by directing the prioritization of candidate DNA variants identified on exome or genome sequencing (ES/GS). Here we implemented an RNA-seq guided method to diagnose individuals across a wide range of ages and clinical phenotypes. METHODS. One hundred fifteen undiagnosed adult and pediatric patients with diverse phenotypes and 67 family members (182 total individuals) underwent RNA-seq from whole blood and fibroblasts at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) clinical site from 2014-2020. We implemented a workflow to detect outliers in gene expression and splicing for cases that remained undiagnosed despite standard genomic and transcriptomic analysis. RESULTS. The transcriptome-directed approach resulted in a diagnostic rate of 12% across the entire cohort, or 17% after excluding cases solved on ES/GS alone. Newly diagnosed conditions included Koolen-de Vries syndrome (KANSL1), Renpenning syndrome (PQBP1), TBCK-associated encephalopathy, NSD2- and CLTC-related intellectual disability, and others, all with negative conventional genomic testing, including ES and chromosomal microarray (CMA). Fibroblasts exhibited higher and more consistent expression of clinically relevant genes than whole blood. In solved cases with RNA-seq from both tissues, the causative defect was missed in blood in half the cases but none from fibroblasts. CONCLUSION. For our cohort of undiagnosed individuals with suspected Mendelian conditions, transcriptome-directed genomic analysis facilitated diagnoses, primarily through the identification of variants missed on ES and CMA.
David R. Murdock, Hongzheng Dai, Lindsay C. Burrage, Jill A. Rosenfeld, Shamika Ketkar, Michaela F. Müller, Vicente A. Yépez, Julien Gagneur, Pengfei Liu, Shan Chen, Mahim Jain, Gladys Zapata, Carlos A. Bacino, Hsiao-Tuan Chao, Paolo Moretti, William J. Craigen, Neil A. Hanchard, Brendan Lee
BACKGROUND. Serological assays are of critical importance to investigate correlates of response and protection in COVID-19, to define previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in populations and to verify the development of an adaptive immune response in infected individuals. METHODS. We studied 509 confirmed COVID-19 patients from the San Raffaele Hospital of Milan and 480 pre-pandemic organ donor sera collected in 2010-2012. Using fluid-phase luciferase immune precipitation (LIPS) assays, we characterized IgG, IgM, IgA antibodies to the spike Receptor Binding Domain (RBD), S1+S2, nucleocapsid, and ORF6 to 10 of SARS-CoV-2, to the HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 betacoronaviruses spike S2, and the H1N1Ca2009 flu virus hemagglutinin. Sequential samples at 1 and 3 months post-hospital discharge were also tested in 95 patients for SARS-CoV-2 RBD antibodies. RESULTS. Antibodies developed rapidly against multiple SARS-CoV-2 antigens in 95% of patients by 4 weeks post-symptoms onset and IgG to the RBD increased until the 3rd month of follow-up. We observed a major synchronous expansion of antibodies to the HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 spike S2. A likely co-infection with influenza was neither linked to a more severe presentation of the disease nor to a worse outcome. Of the measured antibody responses positivity for IgG against the SARS-CoV-2 spike RBD was predictive of survival. CONCLUSIONS. The measurement of antibodies to selected epitopes of SARS-CoV-2 antigens can offer a more accurate assessment of the humoral response in patients and its impact on survival. The presence of partially cross-reactive antibodies with other betacoronoviruses is likely to impact on serological assay specificity and interpretation.
Massimiliano Secchi, Elena Bazzigaluppi, Cristina Brigatti, Ilaria Marzinotto, Cristina Tresoldi, Patrizia Rovere-Querini, Andrea Poli, Antonella Castagna, Gabriella Scarlatti, Alberto Zangrillo, Fabio Ciceri, Lorenzo Piemonti, Vito Lampasona
Background. Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common histologically defined renal cancer. However, it is not a uniform disease and includes several genetic subtypes with different prognosis. ccRCC is also characterized by distinguished metabolic reprogramming. Tobacco smoking (TS) is an established risk factor for ccRCC with unknown effects on tumor pathobiology. Methods. We investigated the landscape of ccRCCs and paired normal kidney tissues (NKTs) using integrated transcriptomic, metabolomic and metallomic approaches in a cohort of never smokers (NS) and long-term current smokers (LTS) Caucasian males. Results. All three Omics domains consistentl identified a distinct metabolic subtype of ccRCCs in LTS, characterized by activation of oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) coupled with reprogramming of the malate-aspartate shuttle and metabolism of aspartate, glutamate, glutamine and histidine. Cadmium, copper and inorganic arsenic accumulated in LTS tumors showing redistribution among intracellular pools, including relocation of copper into the cytochrome c oxidase complex. Gene expression signature based on the LTS metabolic subtype provided prognostic stratification of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) ccRCC tumors that was independent from genomic alterations. Conclusions. The work identifies the TS related metabolic subtype of ccRCC with vulnerabilities that can be exploited for precision medicine approaches targeting metabolic pathways. The results provide rationale for the development of metabolic biomarkers with diagnostic and prognostic applications using evaluation of OxPhos status. The metallomic analysis reveals the role of disrupted metal homeostasis in ccRCC highlighting the importance of studying effects of metals from e-cigarettes and environmental exposures.
James Reigle, Dina Secic, Jacek Biesiada, Collin Wetzel, Behrouz Shamsaei, Johnson Chu, Yuanwei Zang, Xiang Zhang, Nicholas J. Talbot, Megan E. Bischoff, Yongzhen Zhang, Charuhas V. Thakar, Krishnanath Gaitonde, Abhinav Sidana, Hai Bui, John T. Cunningham, Qing Zhang, Laura S. Schmidt, W. Marston Linehan, Mario Medvedovic, David R. Plas, Julio A. Landero Figueroa, Jarek Meller, Maria F. Czyzyk-Krzeska
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