Although mutant forms of the gene encoding surfactant protein C (SFTPC) have been linked to interstitial lung disease, the mechanisms by which the most common of these mutations, SFTPCI73T, results in lung fibrosis are uncertain. In this issue of the JCI, Nureki et al. developed a knockin mouse model and showed that SFTPCI73T is expressed by alveolar type II (AT2) epithelial cells in the lungs. These mice developed an age-related fibrotic phenotype when the mutant allele was expressed at low levels and acute lung inflammation/injury followed by lung fibrosis when mutant SFTPCI73T expression was enhanced. This work provides important information regarding the impact of AT2 cell dysfunction on fibrotic remodeling in the lungs.
Timothy S. Blackwell
Under normal conditions, there is a paucity of neutrophils within the intestinal mucosa; however, these innate immune cells rapidly infiltrate the mucosa in response to infection and are critical for pathogen control. Unfortunately, these cells can cause extensive damage to the intestine if the initial inflammatory influx is not resolved. Factors that promote resolution of inflammation are of great interest, as they have therapeutic potential for limiting uncontrolled inflammatory damage. In this issue of the JCI, Szabady et al. demonstrate that the multidrug resistance transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) secretes endocannabinoids into the intestinal lumen that counteract the proinflammatory actions of the eicosanoid hepoxilin A3, which is secreted into the lumen by the efflux pump MRP2 and serves as a potent neutrophil chemoattractant. Moreover, the antiinflammatory actions of P-gp–secreted endocannabinoids were mediated by peripheral cannabinoid receptor CB2 on neutrophils. Together, the results of this study identify an important mechanism by which endogenous endocannabinoids facilitate the resolution of inflammation; this mechanism has potential to be therapeutically exploited.
Andrew S. Neish
RBCs are the most abundant circulating cells in humans and typically comprise 35% to 45% of the blood volume (hematocrit). Anemia is associated with an increase in bleeding, and epidemiological studies have shown an association between an elevated hematocrit and thrombosis. RBCs may contribute to hemostasis and thrombosis via mechanisms that include platelet margination leading to an increase in the near-wall platelet concentration, blood viscosity, thrombin generation, and platelet activation. In this issue of the JCI, Klatt et al. report that binding of the Fas ligand FasL on the surface of platelets to its cognate receptor FasR on the surface of RBCs increases thrombin generation in vitro and thrombosis in mouse models. This represents a new mechanism by which RBCs contribute to thrombosis.
The introduction of a whole-cell vaccine against Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, dramatically reduced disease incidence. Unfortunately, the whole-cell formulation also induces severe reactions in some infants. Because of this, acellular vaccines have been developed, but they are used exclusively in high-income countries. However, the acellular vaccines do not provide long-term protection, and despite the use of routine boosters, the disease is on the rise. In this issue of the JCI, da Silva Antunes and colleagues demonstrate that the whole-cell vaccines promote long-term polarization toward Th1 and Th17 responses, while the acellular vaccines induce Th2 polarization. Moreover, this polarization is long term, as the response to acellular boosters is dependent on the initial vaccine given in infancy. The authors speculate that Tregs may be induced by initial acellular vaccine administration. The results of this study have important implications for the development of pertussis vaccination strategies that would induce Th1 and Th17 polarization.
Stanley A. Plotkin
The mechanisms responsible for the development of the impaired awareness of hypoglycemia often seen in insulin-treated patients with diabetes remain uncertain, but cerebral adaptations to recurrent hypoglycemia are frequently hypothesized. In this issue of the JCI, Ma et al. demonstrate that neuropeptide Y (NPY) secretion from adrenal chromaffin cells persists during exposure to recurrent hypoglycemia and activation of the sympathetic nerves at the same time that epinephrine secretion is reduced. This results in the inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme for catecholamine synthesis. These observations suggest that a peripheral mechanism downstream from the brain contributes to the development of impaired awareness of hypoglycemia.
Elizabeth R. Seaquist
While disorders of impaired vitamin D activation and action have long been appreciated, the consequences of abnormalities in pathways leading to the inactivation of vitamin D metabolites have only recently been identified. Two recent articles have shed new light on this area of vitamin D biology. The report by Martineau et al., published in the JCI, describes a pathway in which binding of the vitamin D metabolite 24R,25(OH)2D3 to its effector molecule FAM57B2 plays an important role in endochondral ossification during bone repair. This work follows, and adds to, another recent JCI publication by Roizen et al., showing that rapid inactivation of vitamin D metabolites causes vitamin D deficiency, leading to vitamin D–dependent rickets.
Marie B. Demay
The use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in empirical antimicrobial therapy is a lifesaving strategy for patients in intensive care. At the same time, antibiotics dramatically increase the risk for nosocomial infections, such as hospital‑acquired pneumonia caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In this issue of the JCI, Robak and colleagues identified a mechanism by which depletion of resident gut and lung microbiota by antibiotic treatment results in secondary IgA deficiency and impaired anti–P. aeruginosa host defense. Impaired defenses could be improved by substitution of polyclonal IgA via the intranasal route in a mouse model of pneumonia. Importantly, antibiotic treatment caused lung IgA deficiency that involved reduced TLR-dependent production of a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) and B cell–activating factor (BAFF) in intensive care unit patients. These patients might therefore benefit from future strategies to increase pulmonary IgA levels.
Juergen Lohmeyer, Rory E. Morty, Susanne Herold
Brown et al. report that two weeks of exogenous leptin administration to leptin-naive individuals with lipodystrophy resulted in increased energy expenditure and lipolysis, decreased ectopic liver fat, improved hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity, and attenuated dyslipidemia. Leptin withdrawal in individuals with lipodystrophy did not produce reciprocal effects on these phenotypes and resulted in significant improvements only in hepatic insulin sensitivity. This asymmetry in responses to leptin initiation and cessation is consistent with the other aspects of leptin biology that are dependent on the metabolic context in which this adipocyte-derived hormone functions.
Michael Rosenbaum, Rudolph L. Leibel
Resolution of inflammation is a critical process that is facilitated by specialized proresolving mediators (SPMs). In this issue, Bang et al. show that the G protein–coupled receptor GPR37 is a receptor for one such SPM, neuroprotectin D1. They also show that GPR37 activation in macrophages enhances phagocytosis, shifts cytokine release toward an antiinflammatory profile, and thereby helps to reverse inflammatory pain.
Lintao Qu, Michael J. Caterina
Langerhans cells (LCs) are likely among the first targets of HIV-1 infection due to their localization in mucosal tissues. In their recent work, Pena-Cruz and colleagues were able to study HIV-1 infection in vaginal epithelial DCs (VEDCs), termed CD1a+ VEDCs. They show that VEDCs are distinct from other blood- and tissue-derived DCs or LCs because they express the protein langerin but not the lectin receptor DC-SIGN, and they do not have Birbeck granules. The results from this study indicate that HIV-1 using CXCR4 replicates poorly in VEDCs but that a higher replication for HIV-1 using CCR5 strains is supported by VDECs. Furthermore, Pena-Cruz and colleagues demonstrate that VDECs can represent a viral reservoir in HIV-1–infected virologically suppressed women. As such, VDECs may represent another sanctuary of viral persistence and can be an additional obstacle to viral eradication.
Stephan Caucheteux, Vincent Piguet
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