Liver fibrosis is the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins including collagen that occurs in most types of chronic liver diseases. Advanced liver fibrosis results in cirrhosis, liver failure, and portal hypertension and often requires liver transplantation. Our knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of liver fibrosis has greatly advanced. Activated hepatic stellate cells, portal fibroblasts, and myofibroblasts of bone marrow origin have been identified as major collagen-producing cells in the injured liver. These cells are activated by fibrogenic cytokines such as TGF-β1, angiotensin II, and leptin. Reversibility of advanced liver fibrosis in patients has been recently documented, which has stimulated researchers to develop antifibrotic drugs. Emerging antifibrotic therapies are aimed at inhibiting the accumulation of fibrogenic cells and/or preventing the deposition of extracellular matrix proteins. Although many therapeutic interventions are effective in experimental models of liver fibrosis, their efficacy and safety in humans is unknown. This review summarizes recent progress in the study of the pathogenesis and diagnosis of liver fibrosis and discusses current antifibrotic strategies.
Ramón Bataller, David A. Brenner
Type 1 diabetes is the result of an autoimmune attack against the insulin-producing β cells of the endocrine pancreas. Current treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes typically involves a rigorous and invasive regimen of testing blood glucose levels many times a day along with subcutaneous injections of recombinant DNA–derived insulin. Islet transplantation, even with its substantially improved outcome in recent years, is still not indicated for pediatric patients. However, in light of the fact that some regenerative capabilities of the endocrine pancreas have been documented and recent research has shown that human ES cell lines can be derived in vitro, this review discusses whether it is practical or even possible to combine these lines of research to more effectively treat young diabetic patients.
T and B lymphocytes, as well as endothelial cells, express distinctive profiles of G protein–coupled receptors for sphingosine 1–phosphate, which is a major regulator of T cell development, B and T cell recirculation, tissue homing patterns, and chemotactic responses to chemokines. The capacity of drugs that act on type 1 sphingosine 1–phosphate receptors to suppress organ graft rejection in humans and autoimmunity in animal models without apparent impairment of host defenses against infections suggests that this system is a promising target for new forms of immunotherapy.
Edward J. Goetzl, Hugh Rosen
Effective immune responses against pathogens are sometimes accompanied by strong inflammatory reactions. To minimize damage to self, the activation of the immune system also triggers anti-inflammatory circuits. Both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory reactions are normal components of the same immune response, which coordinately fight infections while preventing immune pathology. IL-10 is an important suppressive cytokine, produced by a large number of immune cells in addition to the antigen-driven IL-10–producing regulatory and the naturally occurring suppressor CD4+ T cells, which is a key player in anti-inflammatory immune responses. However, additional mechanisms have evolved to ensure that pathogen eradication is achieved with minimum damage to the host. Here we discuss those mechanisms that operate to regulate effector immune responses.
Anne O’Garra, Pedro L. Vieira, Paulo Vieira, Anne E. Goldfeld
NKT cells are a unique T lymphocyte sublineage that has been implicated in the regulation of immune responses associated with a broad range of diseases, including autoimmunity, infectious diseases, and cancer. In stark contrast to both conventional T lymphocytes and other types of Tregs, NKT cells are reactive to the nonclassical class I antigen–presenting molecule CD1d, and they recognize glycolipid antigens rather than peptides. Moreover, they can either up- or downregulate immune responses by promoting the secretion of Th1, Th2, or immune regulatory cytokines. This review will explore the diverse influences of these cells in various disease models, their ability to suppress or enhance immunity, and the potential for manipulating these cells as a novel form of immunotherapy.
Dale I. Godfrey, Mitchell Kronenberg
Allergic diseases such as asthma, rhinitis, and eczema are increasing in prevalence and affect up to 15% of populations in Westernized countries. The description of Tregs as T cells that prevent development of autoimmune disease led to considerable interest in whether these Tregs were also normally involved in prevention of sensitization to allergens and whether it might be possible to manipulate Tregs for the therapy of allergic disease. Current data suggest that Th2 responses to allergens are normally suppressed by both CD4+CD25+ Tregs and IL-10 Tregs. Furthermore, suppression by these subsets is decreased in allergic individuals. In animal models, Tregs could be induced by high- or low-dose inhaled antigen, and prior induction of such Tregs prevented subsequent development of allergen sensitization and airway inflammation in inhaled challenge models. For many years, allergen-injection immunotherapy has been used for the therapy of allergic disease, and this treatment may induce IL-10 Tregs, leading to both suppression of Th2 responses and a switch from IgE to IgG4 antibody production. Improvements in allergen immunotherapy, such as peptide therapy, and greater understanding of the biology of Tregs hold great promise for the treatment and prevention of allergic disease.
Douglas S. Robinson, Mark Larché, Stephen R. Durham
The induction and maintenance of immune tolerance to transplanted tissues constitute an active process involving multiple mechanisms that work cooperatively to prevent graft rejection. These mechanisms are similar to inherent tolerance toward self antigens and have a requirement for active immunoregulation, largely T cell mediated, that promotes specific unresponsiveness to donor alloantigens. This review outlines our current understanding of the Treg subsets that contribute to allotolerance and the mechanisms by which these cells exert their effects as well as their potential for therapy.
Patrick T. Walsh, Devon K. Taylor, Laurence A. Turka
The creation of human embryonic stem cells through the destruction of a human embryo pits the value of a potential therapeutic tool against that of an early human life. This contest of values has resulted in a polarized debate that neglects areas of common interest and perspective. We suggest that a common ground for pursuing research on human embryonic stem cells can be found by reconsidering the death of the human embryo and by applying to this research the ethical norms of essential organ donation.
Donald W. Landry, Howard A. Zucker
Patients requiring prolonged intensive care are at high risk for multiple organ failure and death. Insulin resistance and hyperglycemia accompany critical illness, and the severity of this “diabetes of stress” reflects the risk of death. Recently it was shown that preventing hyperglycemia with insulin substantially improves outcome of critical illness. This article examines some potential mechanisms underlying prevention of glucose toxicity as well as the effects of insulin independent of glucose control. Unraveling the molecular mechanisms will provide new insights into the pathogenesis of multiple organ failure and open avenues for novel therapeutic strategies.
Greet Van den Berghe
Recent years have seen Tregs become a popular subject of immunological research. Abundant experimental data have now confirmed that naturally occurring CD25+CD4+ Tregs in particular play a key role in the maintenance of self tolerance, with their dysfunction leading to severe or even fatal immunopathology. The sphere of influence of Tregs is now known to extend well beyond just the maintenance of immunological tolerance and to impinge on a host of clinically important areas from cancer to infectious diseases. The identification of specific molecular markers in both human and murine immune systems has enabled the unprecedented investigation of these cells and should prove key to ultimately unlocking their clinical potential.
Zoltán Fehérvari, Shimon Sakaguchi
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