Trophoblasts, the specialized cells of the placenta, play a major role in implantation and formation of the maternal-fetal interface. Through an unusual differentiation process examined in this review, these fetal cells acquire properties of leukocytes and endothelial cells that enable many of their specialized functions. In recent years a great deal has been learned about the regulatory mechanisms, from transcriptional networks to oxygen tension, which control trophoblast differentiation. The challenge is to turn this information into clinically useful tests for monitoring placental function and, hence, pregnancy outcome.
Kristy Red-Horse, Yan Zhou, Olga Genbacev, Akraporn Prakobphol, Russell Foulk, Michael McMaster, Susan J. Fisher
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
Acute renal failure (ARF), characterized by sudden loss of the ability of the kidneys to excrete wastes, concentrate urine, conserve electrolytes, and maintain fluid balance, is a frequent clinical problem, particularly in the intensive care unit, where it is associated with a mortality of between 50% and 80%. In this review, the epidemiology and pathophysiology of ARF are discussed, including the vascular, tubular, and inflammatory perturbations. The clinical evaluation of ARF and implications for potential future therapies to decrease the high mortality are described.
Robert W. Schrier, Wei Wang, Brian Poole, Amit Mitra
Chronic and excessive inflammation in skin and joints causes significant morbidity in psoriasis patients. As a prevalent T lymphocyte–mediated disorder, psoriasis, as well as the side effects associated with its treatment, affects patients globally. In this review, recent progress is discussed in the areas of genetics, the immunological synapse, the untangling of the cytokine web and signaling pathways, xenotransplantation models, and the growing use of selectively targeted therapies. Since psoriasis is currently incurable, new management strategies are proposed to replace previous serendipitous approaches. Such strategic transition from serendipity to the use of novel selective agents aimed at defined targets in psoriatic lesions is moving rapidly from research benches to the bedsides of patients with this chronic and debilitating disease.
Brian J. Nickoloff, Frank O. Nestle
The kidney plays a central role in our ability to maintain appropriate sodium balance, which is critical to determination of blood pressure. In this review we outline current knowledge of renal salt handling at the molecular level, and, given that Westernized societies consume more salt than is required for normal physiology, we examine evidence that the lowering of salt intake can combat hypertension.
Kevin M. O’Shaughnessy, Fiona E. Karet
Multiple sclerosis is a complex genetic disease associated with inflammation in the CNS white matter thought to be mediated by autoreactive T cells. Clonal expansion of B cells, their antibody products, and T cells, hallmarks of inflammation in the CNS, are found in MS. This review discusses new methods to define the molecular pathology of human disease with high-throughput examination of germline DNA haplotypes, RNA expression, and protein structures that will allow the generation of a new series of hypotheses that can be tested to develop better understanding of and therapies for this disease.
David A. Hafler
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with cutaneous hyperreactivity to environmental triggers and is often the first step in the atopic march that results in asthma and allergic rhinitis. The clinical phenotype that characterizes atopic dermatitis is the product of interactions between susceptibility genes, the environment, defective skin barrier function, and immunologic responses. This review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of the pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis and the implications for new management strategies.
Donald Y.M. Leung, Mark Boguniewicz, Michael D. Howell, Ichiro Nomura, Qutayba A. Hamid
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. Current therapy with melarsoprol for CNS HAT has unacceptable side-effects with an overall mortality of 5%. This review discusses the issues of diagnosis and staging of CNS disease, its neuropathogenesis, and the possibility of new therapies for treating late-stage disease.
Peter G.E. Kennedy
Helicobacter pylori are bacteria that have coevolved with humans to be transmitted from person to person and to persistently colonize the stomach. Their population structure is a model for the ecology of the indigenous microbiota. A well-choreographed equilibrium between bacterial effectors and host responses permits microbial persistence and health of the host but confers risk of serious diseases, including peptic ulceration and gastric neoplasia.
Martin J. Blaser, John C. Atherton
A set of lung diseases share the tendency for the development of progressive fibrosis ultimately leading to respiratory failure. This review examines the common pathogenetic features of these disorders in light of recent observations in both humans and animal models of disease, which reveal important pathways of lung matrix remodeling.
Harold A. Chapman
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