The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is among the most important public health crises of our generation. Despite the promise of prevention offered by effective vaccines, patients with severe COVID-19 will continue to populate hospitals and intensive care units for the foreseeable future. The most common clinical presentation of severe COVID-19 is hypoxemia and respiratory failure, typical of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Whether the clinical features and pathobiology of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pneumonia differ from those of pneumonia secondary to other pathogens is unclear. This uncertainty has created variability in the application of historically proven therapies for ARDS to patients with COVID-19. We review the available literature and find many similarities between patients with ARDS from pneumonia attributable to SARS-CoV-2 versus other respiratory pathogens. A notable exception is the long duration of illness among patients with COVID-19, which could result from its unique pathobiology. Available data support the use of care pathways and therapies proven effective for patients with ARDS, while pointing to unique features that might be therapeutically targeted for patients with severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia.
G.R. Scott Budinger, Alexander V. Misharin, Karen M. Ridge, Benjamin D. Singer, Richard G. Wunderink
Neurodegenerative disorders (NDs) affect essential functions not only in the CNS, but also cause persistent gut dysfunctions, suggesting that they have an impact on both CNS and gut-innervating neurons. Although the CNS biology of NDs continues to be well studied, how gut-innervating neurons, including those that connect the gut to the brain, are affected by or involved in the etiology of these debilitating and progressive disorders has been understudied. Studies in recent years have shown how CNS and gut biology, aided by the gut-brain connecting neurons, modulate each other’s functions. These studies underscore the importance of exploring the gut-innervating and gut-brain connecting neurons of the CNS and gut function in health, as well as the etiology and progression of dysfunction in NDs. In this Review, we discuss our current understanding of how the various gut-innervating neurons and gut physiology are involved in the etiology of NDs, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to cause progressive CNS and persistent gut dysfunction.
Alpana Singh, Ted M. Dawson, Subhash Kulkarni
The gut-brain axis (GBA) refers to the complex interactions between the gut microbiota and the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems, together linking brain and gut functions. Perturbations of the GBA have been reported in people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS), suggesting a possible role in disease pathogenesis and making it a potential therapeutic target. While research in the area is still in its infancy, a number of studies revealed that pwMS are more likely to exhibit altered microbiota, altered levels of short chain fatty acids and secondary bile products, and increased intestinal permeability. However, specific microbes and metabolites identified across studies and cohorts vary greatly. Small clinical and preclinical trials in pwMS and mouse models, in which microbial composition was manipulated through the use of antibiotics, fecal microbiota transplantation, and probiotic supplements, have provided promising outcomes in preventing CNS inflammation. However, results are not always consistent, and large-scale randomized controlled trials are lacking. Herein, we give an overview of how the GBA could contribute to MS pathogenesis, examine the different approaches tested to modulate the GBA, and discuss how they may impact neuroinflammation and demyelination in the CNS.
Laura Ghezzi, Claudia Cantoni, Gabriela V. Pinget, Yanjiao Zhou, Laura Piccio
B cells have a prominent role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). They are mediators of inflammation through the production of pathogenic antibodies that augment inflammation and cause direct tissue and cell damage. Multiple therapeutic agents targeting B cells have been successfully used in mouse models of SLE; however, these preclinical studies have led to approval of only one new agent to treat patients with SLE: belimumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting B cell–activating factor (BAFF). Integrating the experience acquired from previous clinical trials with the knowledge generated by new studies about mechanisms of B cell contributions to SLE in specific groups of patients is critical to the development of new treatment strategies that will help to improve outcomes in patients with SLE. In particular, a sharper focus on B cell differentiation to plasma cells is warranted.
Yemil Atisha-Fregoso, Bahtiyar Toz, Betty Diamond
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a chronic and progressive disease, and management requires an understanding of both the primary neurological injury and the secondary sequelae that affect peripheral organs, including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The brain-gut axis is composed of bidirectional pathways through which TBI-induced neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration impact gut function. The resulting TBI-induced dysautonomia and systemic inflammation contribute to the secondary GI events, including dysmotility and increased mucosal permeability. These effects shape, and are shaped by, changes in microbiota composition and activation of resident and recruited immune cells. Microbial products and immune cell mediators in turn modulate brain-gut activity. Importantly, secondary enteric inflammatory challenges prolong systemic inflammation and worsen TBI-induced neuropathology and neurobehavioral deficits. The importance of brain-gut communication in maintaining GI homeostasis highlights it as a viable therapeutic target for TBI. Currently, treatments directed toward dysautonomia, dysbiosis, and/or systemic inflammation offer the most promise.
Marie Hanscom, David J. Loane, Terez Shea-Donohue
As a result of impressive increases in our knowledge of rodent and human immunology, the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) have dramatically improved in the past 15 years. Despite improved knowledge, translation to clinical care has not proceeded rapidly, with results from experimental models being inconsistent in their ability to predict the clinical utility of new therapeutic agents. In parallel, new tools in immunology have allowed in depth analyses of the human system and have been recently been applied in the field of clinical GVHD. Notwithstanding these advances, there is a relative paucity of mechanistic insights into human translational research, and this remains an area of high unmet need. Here we review selected recent advances both in preclinical experimental transplantation and translational human studies, including new insights into human immunology, the microbiome, and regenerative medicine. We focus on the fact that both approaches can interactively improve our understanding of both acute and chronic GVHD biology and open the door to improved therapeutics and successes.
Gérard Socié, Leslie S. Kean, Robert Zeiser, Bruce R. Blazar
A small percentage of people living with HIV-1 can control viral replication without antiretroviral therapy (ART). These patients are called elite controllers (ECs) if they are able to maintain viral suppression without initiating ART and posttreatment controllers (PTCs) if they control HIV replication after ART has been discontinued. Both types of controllers may serve as a model of a functional cure for HIV-1 but the mechanisms responsible for viral control have not been fully elucidated. In this review, we highlight key lessons that have been learned so far in the study of ECs and PTCs and their implications for HIV cure research.
Jonathan Z. Li, Joel N. Blankson
In recent decades, cancer research has expanded exponentially beyond the study of abnormally dividing cells to include complex and extensive heterotypic interactions between cancer and noncancer cells that constitute the tumor microenvironment (TME). Modulation of stromal, immune, and endothelial cells by cancer cells promotes proliferation, survival, and metabolic changes that support tumor growth and metastasis. Recent evidence demonstrates that tumors can recruit peripheral nerves to the TME, leading to enhanced tumor growth in a range of cancer models through distinct mechanisms. This process, termed tumor innervation, is associated with an aggressive tumor phenotype and correlates with poor prognosis in clinical studies. Therefore, the peripheral nervous system may play an underrecognized role in cancer development, harboring targetable pathways that warrant investigation. To date, nerves have been implicated in driving proliferation, invasion, metastasis, and immune evasion through locally delivered neurotransmitters. However, emerging evidence suggests that cell-cell communication via exosomes induces tumor innervation, and thus exosomes may also mediate neural regulation of the TME. In this Review, seminal studies establishing tumor innervation are discussed, and known and putative signaling mechanisms between peripheral nerves and components of the TME are explored as a means to identify potential opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Stefan M. Gysler, Ronny Drapkin
Iron plays an important role in mammalian physiological processes. It is a critical component for the function of many proteins, including enzymes that require heme and iron-sulfur clusters. However, excess iron is also detrimental because of its ability to catalyze the formation of reactive oxygen species. As a result, cellular and systemic iron levels are tightly regulated to prevent oxidative damage. Iron deficiency can lead to a number of pathological conditions, the most prominent being anemia. Iron deficiency should be corrected to improve adult patients’ symptoms and to facilitate normal growth during fetal development and childhood. However, inappropriate use of intravenous iron in chronic conditions, such as cancer and heart failure, in the absence of clear iron deficiency can lead to unwanted side effects. Thus, this form of therapy should be reserved for certain patients who cannot tolerate oral iron and need rapid iron replenishment. Here, we will review cellular and systemic iron homeostasis and will discuss complications of iron deficiency.
Navid Koleini, Jason S. Shapiro, Justin Geier, Hossein Ardehali
First administered to a human subject as a tuberculosis (TB) vaccine on July 18, 1921, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) has a long history of use for the prevention of TB and later the immunotherapy of bladder cancer. For TB prevention, BCG is given to infants born globally across over 180 countries and has been in use since the late 1920s. With about 352 million BCG doses procured annually and tens of billions of doses having been administered over the past century, it is estimated to be the most widely used vaccine in human history. While its roles for TB prevention and bladder cancer immunotherapy are widely appreciated, over the past century, BCG has been also studied for nontraditional purposes, which include (a) prevention of viral infections and nontuberculous mycobacterial infections, (b) cancer immunotherapy aside from bladder cancer, and (c) immunologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and atopic diseases. The basis for these heterologous effects lies in the ability of BCG to alter immunologic set points via heterologous T cell immunity, as well as epigenetic and metabolomic changes in innate immune cells, a process called “trained immunity.” In this Review, we provide an overview of what is known regarding the trained immunity mechanism of heterologous protection, and we describe the current knowledge base for these nontraditional uses of BCG.
Alok K. Singh, Mihai G. Netea, William R. Bishai
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