Review

Abstract

The gut microbiome is at the center of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathogenesis and disease activity. While this has mainly been studied in the context of the bacterial microbiome, recent advances have provided tools for the study of host genetics and metagenomics of host-fungal interaction. Through these tools, strong evidence has emerged linking certain fungal taxa, such as Candida and Malassezia, with cellular and molecular pathways of IBD disease biology. Mouse models and human fecal microbial transplant also suggest that some disease-participatory bacteria and fungi may act not via the host directly, but via their fungal-bacterial ecologic interactions. We hope that these insights, and the study design and multi-omics strategies used to develop them, will facilitate the inclusion of the fungal community in basic and translational IBD research.

Authors

David M. Underhill, Jonathan Braun

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Abstract

Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide, with pathological fibrotic remodeling mediated by activated cardiac myofibroblasts representing a unifying theme across etiologies. Despite the profound contributions of myocardial fibrosis to cardiac dysfunction and heart failure, there currently exist limited clinical interventions that effectively target the cardiac fibroblast and its role in fibrotic tissue deposition. Exploration of novel strategies designed to mitigate or reverse myofibroblast activation and cardiac fibrosis will likely yield powerful therapeutic approaches for the treatment of multiple diseases of the heart, including heart failure with preserved or reduced ejection fraction, acute coronary syndrome, and cardiovascular disease linked to type 2 diabetes. In this Review, we provide an overview of classical regulators of cardiac fibrosis and highlight emerging, next-generation epigenetic regulatory targets that have the potential to revolutionize treatment of the expanding cardiovascular disease patient population.

Authors

Joshua G. Travers, Charles A. Tharp, Marcello Rubino, Timothy A. McKinsey

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Abstract

Myosin modulators are a novel class of pharmaceutical agents that are being developed to treat patients with a range of cardiomyopathies. The therapeutic goal of these drugs is to target cardiac myosins directly to modulate contractility and cardiac power output to alleviate symptoms that lead to heart failure and arrhythmias, without altering calcium signaling. In this Review, we discuss two classes of drugs that have been developed to either activate (omecamtiv mecarbil) or inhibit (mavacamten) cardiac contractility by binding to β-cardiac myosin (MYH7). We discuss progress in understanding the mechanisms by which the drugs alter myosin mechanochemistry, and we provide an appraisal of the results from clinical trials of these drugs, with consideration for the importance of disease heterogeneity and genetic etiology for predicting treatment benefit.

Authors

Sharlene M. Day, Jil C. Tardiff, E. Michael Ostap

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Abstract

Deregulated Wnt/β-catenin signaling is one of the main genetic alterations in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Comprehensive genomic analyses have revealed that gain-of-function mutation of CTNNB1, which encodes β-catenin, and loss-of-function mutation of AXIN1 occur in approximately 35% of human HCC samples. Human HCCs with activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway demonstrate unique gene expression patterns and pathological features. Activated Wnt/β-catenin synergizes with multiple signaling cascades to drive HCC formation, and it functions through its downstream effectors. Therefore, strategies targeting Wnt/β-catenin have been pursued as possible therapeutics against HCC. Here, we review the genetic alterations and oncogenic roles of aberrant Wnt/β-catenin signaling during hepatocarcinogenesis. In addition, we discuss the implication of this pathway in HCC diagnosis, classification, and personalized treatment.

Authors

Chuanrui Xu, Zhong Xu, Yi Zhang, Matthias Evert, Diego F. Calvisi, Xin Chen

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Abstract

The importance of the microbiota in the development of colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasingly evident, but identifying specific microbial features that influence CRC initiation and progression remains a central task for investigators. Studies determining the microbial mechanisms that directly contribute to CRC development or progression are revealing bacterial factors such as toxins that contribute to colorectal carcinogenesis. However, even when investigators have identified bacteria that express toxins, questions remain about the host determinants of a toxin’s cancer-potentiating effects. For other cancer-correlating bacteria that lack toxins, the challenge is to define cancer-relevant virulence factors. Herein, we evaluate three CRC-correlating bacteria, colibactin-producing Escherichia coli, enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, and Fusobacterium nucleatum, for their virulence features relevant to CRC. We also consider the beneficial bioactivity of gut microbes by highlighting a microbial metabolite that may enhance CRC antitumor immunity. In doing so, we aim to elucidate unique and shared mechanisms underlying the microbiota’s contributions to CRC and to accelerate investigation from target validation to CRC therapeutic discovery.

Authors

Slater L. Clay, Diogo Fonseca-Pereira, Wendy S. Garrett

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Abstract

Cellular senescence is a fundamental aging mechanism that is currently the focus of considerable interest as a pathway that could be targeted to ameliorate aging across multiple tissues, including the skeleton. There is now substantial evidence that senescent cells accumulate in the bone microenvironment with aging and that targeting these cells prevents age-related bone loss, at least in mice. Cellular senescence also plays important roles in mediating the skeletal fragility associated with diabetes mellitus, radiation, and chemotherapy. As such, there are ongoing efforts to develop “senolytic” drugs that kill senescent cells by targeting key survival mechanisms in these cells without affecting normal cells. Because senescent cells accumulate across tissues with aging, senolytics offer the attractive possibility of treating multiple age-related comorbidities simultaneously.

Authors

Sundeep Khosla, Joshua N. Farr, David G. Monroe

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Abstract

Prostate cancer exerts a greater toll on African American men than on White men of European descent (hereafter referred to as European American men): the disparity in incidence and mortality is greater than that of any other common cancer. The disproportionate impact of prostate cancer on Black men has been attributed to the genetics of African ancestry, to diet and lifestyle risk factors, and to unequal access to quality health care. In this Review, all of these influences are considered in the context of the evolving understanding that chronic or recurrent inflammatory processes drive prostatic carcinogenesis. Studies of inherited susceptibility highlight the contributions of genes involved in prostate cell and tissue repair (BRCA1/2, ATM) and regeneration (HOXB13 and MYC). Social determinants of health appear to accentuate these genetic influences by fueling prostate inflammation and associated cell and genome damage. Molecular characterization of the prostate cancers that arise in Black versus White men further implicates this inflammatory microenvironment in disease behavior. Yet, when Black and White men with similar grade and stage of prostate cancer are treated equally, they exhibit equivalent outcomes. The central role of prostate inflammation in prostate cancer development and progression augments the impact of the social determinants of health on disease pathogenesis. And, when coupled with poorer access to high-quality treatment, these inequities result in a disparate burden of prostate cancer on African American men.

Authors

William G. Nelson, Otis W. Brawley, William B. Isaacs, Elizabeth A. Platz, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Karen S. Sfanos, Tamara L. Lotan, Angelo M. De Marzo

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Abstract

The reality of life in modern times is that our internal circadian rhythms are often out of alignment with the light/dark cycle of the external environment. This is known as circadian disruption, and a wealth of epidemiological evidence shows that it is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease remains the top cause of death in the United States, and kidney disease in particular is a tremendous public health burden that contributes to cardiovascular deaths. There is an urgent need for new treatments for kidney disease; circadian rhythm–based therapies may be of potential benefit. The goal of this Review is to summarize the existing data that demonstrate a connection between circadian rhythm disruption and renal impairment in humans. Specifically, we will focus on chronic kidney disease, lupus nephritis, hypertension, and aging. Importantly, the relationship between circadian dysfunction and pathophysiology is thought to be bidirectional. Here we discuss the gaps in our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying circadian dysfunction in diseases of the kidney. Finally, we provide a brief overview of potential circadian rhythm–based interventions that could provide benefit in renal disease.

Authors

Rajesh Mohandas, Lauren G. Douma, Yogesh Scindia, Michelle L. Gumz

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Abstract

As cancers progress, they produce a local environment that acts to redirect, paralyze, exhaust, or otherwise evade immune detection and destruction. The tumor microenvironment (TME) has long been characterized as a metabolic desert, depleted of essential nutrients such as glucose, oxygen, and amino acids, that starves infiltrating immune cells and renders them dysfunctional. While not incorrect, this perspective is only half the picture. The TME is not a metabolic vacuum, only consuming essential nutrients and never producing by-products. Rather, the by-products of depleted nutrients, “toxic” metabolites in the TME such as lactic acid, kynurenine, ROS, and adenosine, play an important role in shaping immune cell function and cannot be overlooked in cancer immunotherapy. Moreover, while the metabolic landscape is distinct, it is not unique, as these toxic metabolites are encountered in non-tumor tissues, where they evolutionarily shape immune cells and their response. In this Review, we discuss how depletion of essential nutrients and production of toxic metabolites shape the immune response within the TME and how toxic metabolites can be targeted to improve current cancer immunotherapies.

Authors

McLane J. Watson, Greg M. Delgoffe

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Abstract

Suppressing inflammation has been the primary focus of therapies in autoimmune rheumatic diseases (AIRDs), including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. However, conventional therapies with low target specificity can have effects on cell metabolism that are less predictable. A key example is lipid metabolism; current therapies can improve or exacerbate dyslipidemia. Many conventional drugs also require in vivo metabolism for their conversion into therapeutically beneficial products; however, drug metabolism often involves the additional formation of toxic by-products, and rates of drug metabolism can be heterogeneous between patients. New therapeutic technologies and research have highlighted alternative metabolic pathways that can be more specifically targeted to reduce inflammation but also to prevent undesirable off-target metabolic consequences of conventional antiinflammatory therapies. This Review highlights the role of lipid metabolism in inflammation and in the mechanisms of action of AIRD therapeutics. Opportunities for cotherapies targeting lipid metabolism that could reduce immunometabolic complications and potential increased cardiovascular disease risk in patients with AIRDs are discussed.

Authors

George Robinson, Ines Pineda-Torra, Coziana Ciurtin, Elizabeth C. Jury

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