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The Journal of Clinical Investigation RSS feed -- Current issue

SDF1 induction by acidosis from principal cells regulates intercalated cell subtype distribution
  By: George J. Schwartz, XiaoBo Gao, Shuichi Tsuruoka, Jeffrey M. Purkerson, Hu Peng, Vivette D’Agati, Nicolas Picard, Dominique Eladari, Qais Al-Awqati

The nephron cortical collecting duct (CCD) is composed of principal cells, which mediate Na, K, and water transport, and intercalated cells (ICs), which are specialized for acid-base transport. There are two canonical IC forms: acid-secreting α-ICs and HCO3-secreting β-ICs. Chronic acidosis increases α-ICs at the expense of β-ICs, thereby increasing net acid secretion by the CCD. We found by growth factor quantitative PCR array that acidosis increases expression of mRNA encoding SDF1 (or CXCL12) in kidney cortex and isolated CCDs from mouse and rabbit kidney cortex. Exogenous SDF1 or pH 6.8 media increased H+ secretion and decreased HCO3 secretion in isolated perfused rabbit CCDs. Acid-dependent changes in H+ and HCO3 secretion were largely blunted by AMD3100, which selectively blocks the SDF1 receptor CXCR4. In mice, diet-induced chronic acidosis increased α-ICs and decreased β-ICs. Additionally, IC-specific Cxcr4 deletion prevented IC subtype alterations and magnified metabolic acidosis. SDF1 was transcriptionally regulated and a target of the hypoxia-sensing transcription factor HIF1α. IC-specific deletion of Hif1a produced no effect on mice fed an acid diet, as α-ICs increased and β-ICs decreased similarly to that observed in WT littermates. However, Hif1a deletion in all CCD cells prevented acidosis-induced IC subtype distribution, resulting in more severe acidosis. Cultured principal cells exhibited an HIF1α-dependent increase of Sdf1 transcription in response to media acidification. Thus, our results indicate that principal cells respond to acid by producing SDF1, which then acts on adjacent ICs.

Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition drives atherosclerosis progression
  By: Pei-Yu Chen, Lingfeng Qin, Nicolas Baeyens, Guangxin Li, Titilayo Afolabi, Madhusudhan Budatha, George Tellides, Martin A. Schwartz, Michael Simons

The molecular mechanisms responsible for the development and progression of atherosclerotic lesions have not been fully established. Here, we investigated the role played by endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) and its key regulator FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) in atherosclerosis. In cultured human endothelial cells, both inflammatory cytokines and oscillatory shear stress reduced endothelial FGFR1 expression and activated TGF-β signaling. We further explored the link between disrupted FGF endothelial signaling and progression of atherosclerosis by introducing endothelial-specific deletion of FGF receptor substrate 2 α (Frs2a) in atherosclerotic (Apoe–/–) mice. When placed on a high-fat diet, these double-knockout mice developed atherosclerosis at a much earlier time point compared with that their Apoe–/– counterparts, eventually demonstrating an 84% increase in total plaque burden. Moreover, these animals exhibited extensive development of EndMT, deposition of fibronectin, and increased neointima formation. Additionally, we conducted a molecular and morphometric examination of left main coronary arteries from 43 patients with various levels of coronary disease to assess the clinical relevance of these findings. The extent of coronary atherosclerosis in this patient set strongly correlated with loss of endothelial FGFR1 expression, activation of endothelial TGF-β signaling, and the extent of EndMT. These data demonstrate a link between loss of protective endothelial FGFR signaling, development of EndMT, and progression of atherosclerosis.

Phosphorylation-mediated EZH2 inactivation promotes drug resistance in multiple myeloma
  By: Jiro Kikuchi, Daisuke Koyama, Taeko Wada, Tohru Izumi, Peter O. Hofgaard, Bjarne Bogen, Yusuke Furukawa

Alterations in chromatin modifications, such as histone methylation, have been suggested as mediating chemotherapy resistance in several cancer types; therefore, elucidation of the epigenetic mechanisms that underlie drug resistance may greatly contribute to the advancement of cancer therapies. In the present study, we identified histone H3–lysine 27 (H3K27) as a critical residue for epigenetic modification in multiple myeloma. We determined that abrogation of drug-induced H3K27 hypermethylation is associated with cell adhesion–mediated drug resistance (CAM-DR), which is the most important form of drug resistance, using a coculture system to evaluate stroma cell adhesion–dependent alterations in multiple myeloma cells. Cell adhesion counteracted anticancer drug–induced hypermethylation of H3K27 via inactivating phosphorylation of the transcription regulator EZH2 at serine 21, leading to the sustained expression of antiapoptotic genes, including IGF1, B cell CLL/lymphoma 2 (BCL2), and hypoxia inducible factor 1, α subunit (HIF1A). Pharmacological and genetic inhibition of the IGF-1R/PI3K/AKT pathway reversed CAM-DR by promoting EZH2 dephosphorylation and H3K27 hypermethylation both in vitro and in refractory murine myeloma models. Together, our findings identify and characterize an epigenetic mechanism that underlies CAM-DR and suggest that kinase inhibitors to counteract EZH2 phosphorylation should be included in combination chemotherapy to increase therapeutic index.

MicroRNA-33–dependent regulation of macrophage metabolism directs immune cell polarization in atherosclerosis
  By: Mireille Ouimet, Hasini N. Ediriweera, U. Mahesh Gundra, Frederick J. Sheedy, Bhama Ramkhelawon, Susan B. Hutchison, Kaitlyn Rinehold, Coen van Solingen, Morgan D. Fullerton, Katharine Cecchini, Katey J. Rayner, Gregory R. Steinberg, Phillip D. Zamore, Edward A. Fisher, P’ng Loke, Kathryn J. Moore

Cellular metabolism is increasingly recognized as a controller of immune cell fate and function. MicroRNA-33 (miR-33) regulates cellular lipid metabolism and represses genes involved in cholesterol efflux, HDL biogenesis, and fatty acid oxidation. Here, we determined that miR-33–mediated disruption of the balance of aerobic glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation instructs macrophage inflammatory polarization and shapes innate and adaptive immune responses. Macrophage-specific Mir33 deletion increased oxidative respiration, enhanced spare respiratory capacity, and induced an M2 macrophage polarization–associated gene profile. Furthermore, miR-33–mediated M2 polarization required miR-33 targeting of the energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), but not cholesterol efflux. Notably, miR-33 inhibition increased macrophage expression of the retinoic acid–producing enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase family 1, subfamily A2 (ALDH1A2) and retinal dehydrogenase activity both in vitro and in a mouse model. Consistent with the ability of retinoic acid to foster inducible Tregs, miR-33–depleted macrophages had an enhanced capacity to induce forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) expression in naive CD4+ T cells. Finally, treatment of hypercholesterolemic mice with miR-33 inhibitors for 8 weeks resulted in accumulation of inflammation-suppressing M2 macrophages and FOXP3+ Tregs in plaques and reduced atherosclerosis progression. Collectively, these results reveal that miR-33 regulates macrophage inflammation and demonstrate that miR-33 antagonism is atheroprotective, in part, by reducing plaque inflammation by promoting M2 macrophage polarization and Treg induction.

Saturated phosphatidic acids mediate saturated fatty acid–induced vascular calcification and lipotoxicity
  By: Masashi Masuda, Shinobu Miyazaki-Anzai, Audrey L. Keenan, Kayo Okamura, Jessica Kendrick, Michel Chonchol, Stefan Offermanns, James M. Ntambi, Makoto Kuro-o, Makoto Miyazaki

Recent evidence indicates that saturated fatty acid–induced (SFA-induced) lipotoxicity contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases; however, the molecular mechanisms that underlie SFA-induced lipotoxicity remain unclear. Here, we have shown that repression of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) enzymes, which regulate the intracellular balance of SFAs and unsaturated FAs, and the subsequent accumulation of SFAs in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), are characteristic events in the development of vascular calcification. We evaluated whether SMC-specific inhibition of SCD and the resulting SFA accumulation plays a causative role in the pathogenesis of vascular calcification and generated mice with SMC-specific deletion of both Scd1 and Scd2. Mice lacking both SCD1 and SCD2 in SMCs displayed severe vascular calcification with increased ER stress. Moreover, we employed shRNA library screening and radiolabeling approaches, as well as in vitro and in vivo lipidomic analysis, and determined that fully saturated phosphatidic acids such as 1,2-distearoyl-PA (18:0/18:0-PA) mediate SFA-induced lipotoxicity and vascular calcification. Together, these results identify a key lipogenic pathway in SMCs that mediates vascular calcification.

Evidence against hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression in the antidiabetic action of leptin
  By: Gregory J. Morton, Thomas H. Meek, Miles E. Matsen, Michael W. Schwartz

Leptin administration restores euglycemia in rodents with severe insulin-deficient diabetes, and recent studies to explain this phenomenon have focused on the ability of leptin to normalize excessive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. Here, we employed a streptozotocin-induced rat model (STZ-DM) of uncontrolled insulin-deficient diabetes mellitus (uDM) to investigate the contribution of HPA axis suppression to leptin-mediated glucose lowering. Specifically, we asked if HPA axis activation is required for diabetic hyperglycemia, whether HPA axis normalization can be achieved using a dose of leptin below that needed to normalize glycemia, and if the ability of leptin to lower plasma glucocorticoid levels is required for its antidiabetic action. In STZ-DM rats, neither adrenalectomy-induced (ADX-induced) glucocorticoid deficiency nor pharmacological glucocorticoid receptor blockade lowered elevated blood glucose levels. Although elevated plasma levels of corticosterone were normalized by i.v. leptin infusion at a dose that raises low plasma levels into the physiological range, diabetic hyperglycemia was not altered. Lastly, the potent glucose-lowering effect of continuous intracerebroventricular leptin infusion was not impacted by systemic administration of corticosterone at a dose that maintained elevated plasma levels characteristic of STZ-DM. We conclude that, although restoring low plasma leptin levels into the physiological range effectively normalizes increased HPA axis activity in rats with uDM, this effect is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain leptin’s antidiabetic action.

Pharmacoproteomics identifies combinatorial therapy targets for diffuse large B cell lymphoma
  By: Rebecca L. Goldstein, Shao Ning Yang, Tony Taldone, Betty Chang, John Gerecitano, Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson, Rita Shaknovich, Wayne Tam, John P. Leonard, Gabriela Chiosis, Leandro Cerchietti, Ari Melnick

Rationally designed combinations of targeted therapies for refractory cancers, such as activated B cell–like diffuse large B cell lymphoma (ABC DLBCL), are likely required to achieve potent, durable responses. Here, we used a pharmacoproteomics approach to map the interactome of a tumor-enriched isoform of HSP90 (teHSP90). Specifically, we chemically precipitated teHSP90-client complexes from DLBCL cell lines with the small molecule PU-H71 and found that components of the proximal B cell receptor (BCR) signalosome were enriched within teHSP90 complexes. Functional assays revealed that teHSP90 facilitates BCR signaling dynamics by enabling phosphorylation of key BCR signalosome components, including the kinases SYK and BTK. Consequently, treatment of BCR-dependent ABC DLBCL cells with PU-H71 attenuated BCR signaling, calcium flux, and NF-κB signaling, ultimately leading to growth arrest. Combined exposure of ABC DLBCL cell lines to PU-H71 and ibrutinib, a BCR pathway inhibitor, more potently suppressed BCR signaling than either drug alone. Correspondingly, PU-H71 combined with ibrutinib induced synergistic killing of lymphoma cell lines, primary human lymphoma specimens ex vivo, and lymphoma xenografts in vivo, without notable toxicity. Together, our results demonstrate that a pharmacoproteome-driven rational combination therapy has potential to provide more potent BCR-directed therapy for ABC DLCBL patients.

FGF21 and the late adaptive response to starvation in humans
  By: Pouneh K. Fazeli, Mingyue Lun, Soo M. Kim, Miriam A. Bredella, Spenser Wright, Yang Zhang, Hang Lee, Ciprian Catana, Anne Klibanski, Parth Patwari, Matthew L. Steinhauser

In mice, FGF21 is rapidly induced by fasting, mediates critical aspects of the adaptive starvation response, and displays a number of positive metabolic properties when administered pharmacologically. In humans, however, fasting does not consistently increase FGF21, suggesting a possible evolutionary divergence in FGF21 function. Moreover, many key aspects of FGF21 function in mice have been identified in the context of transgenic overexpression or administration of supraphysiologic doses, rather than in a physiologic setting. Here, we explored the dynamics and function of FGF21 in human volunteers during a 10-day fast. Unlike mice, which show an increase in circulating FGF21 after only 6 hours, human subjects did not have a notable surge in FGF21 until 7 to 10 days of fasting. Moreover, we determined that FGF21 induction was associated with decreased thermogenesis and adiponectin, an observation that directly contrasts with previous reports based on supraphysiologic dosing. Additionally, FGF21 levels increased after ketone induction, demonstrating that endogenous FGF21 does not drive starvation-mediated ketogenesis in humans. Instead, a longitudinal analysis of biologically relevant variables identified serum transaminases — markers of tissue breakdown — as predictors of FGF21. These data establish FGF21 as a fasting-induced hormone in humans and indicate that FGF21 contributes to the late stages of adaptive starvation, when it may regulate the utilization of fuel derived from tissue breakdown.

The Canadian clinician-scientist training program must be reinstated
  By: David D.W. Twa, Jordan W. Squair, Michael A. Skinnider, Jennifer X. Ji

Clinical investigators within the Canadian and international communities were shocked when the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced that their funding for the MD/PhD program would be terminated after the 2015–2016 academic year. The program has trained Canadian clinician-scientists for more than two decades. The cancellation of the program is at odds with the CIHR’s mandate, which stresses the translation of new knowledge into improved health for Canadians, as well as with a series of internal reports that have recommended expanding the program. Although substantial evidence supports the analogous Medical Scientist Training Program in the United States, no parallel analysis of the MD/PhD program has been performed in Canada. Here, we highlight the long-term consequences of the program’s cancellation in the context of increased emphasis on translational research. We argue that alternative funding sources cannot ensure continuous support for students in clinician-scientist training programs and that platform funding of the MD/PhD program is necessary to ensure leadership in translational research.

The C-terminal CGHC motif of protein disulfide isomerase supports thrombosis
  By: Junsong Zhou, Yi Wu, Lu Wang, Lubica Rauova, Vincent M. Hayes, Mortimer Poncz, David W. Essex

Protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) has two distinct CGHC redox-active sites; however, the contribution of these sites during different physiologic reactions, including thrombosis, is unknown. Here, we evaluated the role of PDI and redox-active sites of PDI in thrombosis by generating mice with blood cells and vessel wall cells lacking PDI (Mx1-Cre Pdifl/fl mice) and transgenic mice harboring PDI that lacks a functional C-terminal CGHC motif [PDI(ss-oo) mice]. Both mouse models showed decreased fibrin deposition and platelet accumulation in laser-induced cremaster arteriole injury, and PDI(ss-oo) mice had attenuated platelet accumulation in FeCl3-induced mesenteric arterial injury. These defects were rescued by infusion of recombinant PDI containing only a functional C-terminal CGHC motif [PDI(oo-ss)]. PDI infusion restored fibrin formation, but not platelet accumulation, in eptifibatide-treated wild-type mice, suggesting a direct role of PDI in coagulation. In vitro aggregation of platelets from PDI(ss-oo) mice and PDI-null platelets was reduced; however, this defect was rescued by recombinant PDI(oo-ss). In human platelets, recombinant PDI(ss-oo) inhibited aggregation, while recombinant PDI(oo-ss) potentiated aggregation. Platelet secretion assays demonstrated that the C-terminal CGHC motif of PDI is important for P-selectin expression and ATP secretion through a non-αIIbβ3 substrate. In summary, our results indicate that the C-terminal CGHC motif of PDI is important for platelet function and coagulation.

Fasting and refeeding differentially regulate NLRP3 inflammasome activation in human subjects
  By: Javier Traba, Miriam Kwarteng-Siaw, Tracy C. Okoli, Jessica Li, Rebecca D. Huffstutler, Amanda Bray, Myron A. Waclawiw, Kim Han, Martin Pelletier, Anthony A. Sauve, Richard M. Siegel, Michael N. Sack

BACKGROUND. Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome is associated with metabolic dysfunction, and intermittent fasting has been shown to improve clinical presentation of NLRP3 inflammasome–linked diseases. As mitochondrial perturbations, which function as a damage-associated molecular pattern, exacerbate NLRP3 inflammasome activation, we investigated whether fasting blunts inflammasome activation via sirtuin-mediated augmentation of mitochondrial integrity.

METHODS. We performed a clinical study of 19 healthy volunteers. Each subject underwent a 24-hour fast and then was fed a fixed-calorie meal. Blood was drawn during the fasted and fed states and analyzed for NRLP3 inflammasome activation. We enrolled an additional group of 8 healthy volunteers to assess the effects of the sirtuin activator, nicotinamide riboside, on NLRP3 inflammasome activation.

RESULTS. In the fasting/refeeding study, individuals showed less NLRP3 inflammasome activation in the fasted state compared with that in refed conditions. In a human macrophage line, depletion of the mitochondrial-enriched sirtuin deacetylase SIRT3 increased NLRP3 inflammasome activation in association with excessive mitochondrial ROS production. Furthermore, genetic and pharmacologic SIRT3 activation blunted NLRP3 activity in parallel with enhanced mitochondrial function in cultured cells and in leukocytes extracted from healthy volunteers and from refed individuals but not in those collected during fasting.

CONCLUSIONS. Together, our data indicate that nutrient levels regulate the NLRP3 inflammasome, in part through SIRT3-mediated mitochondrial homeostatic control. Moreover, these results suggest that deacetylase-dependent inflammasome attenuation may be amenable to targeting in human disease.

TRIAL REGISTRATION. NCT02122575 and NCT00442195.

FUNDING. Division of Intramural Research, NHLBI of the NIH.

DLL4 promotes continuous adult intestinal lacteal regeneration and dietary fat transport
  By: Jeremiah Bernier-Latmani, Christophe Cisarovsky, Cansaran Saygili Demir, Marine Bruand, Muriel Jaquet, Suzel Davanture, Simone Ragusa, Stefanie Siegert, Olivier Dormond, Rui Benedito, Freddy Radtke, Sanjiv A. Luther, Tatiana V. Petrova

The small intestine is a dynamic and complex organ that is characterized by constant epithelium turnover and crosstalk among various cell types and the microbiota. Lymphatic capillaries of the small intestine, called lacteals, play key roles in dietary fat absorption and the gut immune response; however, little is known about the molecular regulation of lacteal function. Here, we performed a high-resolution analysis of the small intestinal stroma and determined that lacteals reside in a permanent regenerative, proliferative state that is distinct from embryonic lymphangiogenesis or quiescent lymphatic vessels observed in other tissues. We further demonstrated that this continuous regeneration process is mediated by Notch signaling and that the expression of the Notch ligand delta-like 4 (DLL4) in lacteals requires activation of VEGFR3 and VEGFR2. Moreover, genetic inactivation of Dll4 in lymphatic endothelial cells led to lacteal regression and impaired dietary fat uptake. We propose that such a slow lymphatic regeneration mode is necessary to match a unique need of intestinal lymphatic vessels for both continuous maintenance, due to the constant exposure to dietary fat and mechanical strain, and efficient uptake of fat and immune cells. Our work reveals how lymphatic vessel responses are shaped by tissue specialization and uncover a role for continuous DLL4 signaling in the function of adult lymphatic vasculature.

Myo9b is a key player in SLIT/ROBO-mediated lung tumor suppression
  By: Ruirui Kong, Fengshuang Yi, Pushuai Wen, Jianghong Liu, Xiaoping Chen, Jinqi Ren, Xiaofei Li, Yulong Shang, Yongzhan Nie, Kaichun Wu, Daiming Fan, Li Zhu, Wei Feng, Jane Y. Wu

Emerging evidence indicates that the neuronal guidance molecule SLIT plays a role in tumor suppression, as SLIT-encoding genes are inactivated in several types of cancer, including lung cancer; however, it is not clear how SLIT functions in lung cancer. Here, our data show that SLIT inhibits cancer cell migration by activating RhoA and that myosin 9b (Myo9b) is a ROBO-interacting protein that suppresses RhoA activity in lung cancer cells. Structural analyses revealed that the RhoGAP domain of Myo9b contains a unique patch that specifically recognizes RhoA. We also determined that the ROBO intracellular domain interacts with the Myo9b RhoGAP domain and inhibits its activity; therefore, SLIT-dependent activation of RhoA is mediated by ROBO inhibition of Myo9b. In a murine model, compared with control lung cancer cells, SLIT-expressing cells had a decreased capacity for tumor formation and lung metastasis. Evaluation of human lung cancer and adjacent nontumor tissues revealed that Myo9b is upregulated in the cancer tissue. Moreover, elevated Myo9b expression was associated with lung cancer progression and poor prognosis. Together, our data identify Myo9b as a key player in lung cancer and as a ROBO-interacting protein in what is, to the best of our knowledge, a newly defined SLIT/ROBO/Myo9b/RhoA signaling pathway that restricts lung cancer progression and metastasis. Additionally, our work suggests that targeting the SLIT/ROBO/Myo9b/RhoA pathway has potential as a diagnostic and therapeutic strategy for lung cancer.

Ebola viral load at diagnosis associates with patient outcome and outbreak evolution
  By: Marc-Antoine de La Vega, Grazia Caleo, Jonathan Audet, Xiangguo Qiu, Robert A. Kozak, James I. Brooks, Steven Kern, Anja Wolz, Armand Sprecher, Jane Greig, Kamalini Lokuge, David K. Kargbo, Brima Kargbo, Antonino Di Caro, Allen Grolla, Darwyn Kobasa, James E. Strong, Giuseppe Ippolito, Michel Van Herp, Gary P. Kobinger

BACKGROUND. Ebola virus (EBOV) causes periodic outbreaks of life-threatening EBOV disease in Africa. Historically, these outbreaks have been relatively small and geographically contained; however, the magnitude of the EBOV outbreak that began in 2014 in West Africa has been unprecedented. The aim of this study was to describe the viral kinetics of EBOV during this outbreak and identify factors that contribute to outbreak progression.

METHODS. From July to December 2014, one laboratory in Sierra Leone processed over 2,700 patient samples for EBOV detection by quantitative PCR (qPCR). Viremia was measured following patient admission. Age, sex, and approximate time of symptom onset were also recorded for each patient. The data was analyzed using various mathematical models to find trends of potential interest.

RESULTS. The analysis revealed a significant difference (P = 2.7 × 10–77) between the initial viremia of survivors (4.02 log10 genome equivalents [GEQ]/ml) and nonsurvivors (6.18 log10 GEQ/ml). At the population level, patient viral loads were higher on average in July than in November, even when accounting for outcome and time since onset of symptoms. This decrease in viral loads temporally correlated with an increase in circulating EBOV-specific IgG antibodies among individuals who were suspected of being infected but shown to be negative for the virus by PCR.

CONCLUSIONS. Our results indicate that initial viremia is associated with outcome of the individual and outbreak duration; therefore, care must be taken in planning clinical trials and interventions. Additional research in virus adaptation and the impacts of host factors on EBOV transmission and pathogenesis is needed.

Development of autoantibodies against muscle-specific FHL1 in severe inflammatory myopathies
  By: Inka Albrecht, Cecilia Wick, Åsa Hallgren, Anna Tjärnlund, Kanneboyina Nagaraju, Felipe Andrade, Kathryn Thompson, William Coley, Aditi Phadke, Lina-Marcela Diaz-Gallo, Matteo Bottai, Inger Nennesmo, Karine Chemin, Jessica Herrath, Karin Johansson, Anders Wikberg, A. Jimmy Ytterberg, Roman A. Zubarev, Olof Danielsson, Olga Krystufkova, Jiri Vencovsky, Nils Landegren, Marie Wahren-Herlenius, Leonid Padyukov, Olle Kämpe, Ingrid E. Lundberg

Mutations of the gene encoding four-and-a-half LIM domain 1 (FHL1) are the causative factor of several X-linked hereditary myopathies that are collectively termed FHL1-related myopathies. These disorders are characterized by severe muscle dysfunction and damage. Here, we have shown that patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs) develop autoimmunity to FHL1, which is a muscle-specific protein. Anti-FHL1 autoantibodies were detected in 25% of IIM patients, while patients with other autoimmune diseases or muscular dystrophies were largely anti-FHL1 negative. Anti-FHL1 reactivity was predictive for muscle atrophy, dysphagia, pronounced muscle fiber damage, and vasculitis. FHL1 showed an altered expression pattern, with focal accumulation in the muscle fibers of autoantibody-positive patients compared with a homogeneous expression in anti-FHL1–negative patients and healthy controls. We determined that FHL1 is a target of the cytotoxic protease granzyme B, indicating that the generation of FHL1 fragments may initiate FHL1 autoimmunity. Moreover, immunization of myositis-prone mice with FHL1 aggravated muscle weakness and increased mortality, suggesting a direct link between anti-FHL1 responses and muscle damage. Together, our findings provide evidence that FHL1 may be involved in the pathogenesis not only of genetic FHL1-related myopathies but also of autoimmune IIM. Importantly, these results indicate that anti-FHL1 autoantibodies in peripheral blood have promising potential as a biomarker to identify a subset of severe IIM.

Coordinate expression of heme and globin is essential for effective erythropoiesis
  By: Raymond T. Doty, Susan R. Phelps, Christina Shadle, Marilyn Sanchez-Bonilla, Siobán B. Keel, Janis L. Abkowitz

Erythropoiesis requires rapid and extensive hemoglobin production. Heme activates globin transcription and translation; therefore, heme synthesis must precede globin synthesis. As free heme is a potent inducer of oxidative damage, its levels within cellular compartments require stringent regulation. Mice lacking the heme exporter FLVCR1 have a severe macrocytic anemia; however, the mechanisms that underlie erythropoiesis dysfunction in these animals are unclear. Here, we determined that erythropoiesis failure occurs in these animals at the CFU-E/proerythroblast stage, a point at which the transferrin receptor (CD71) is upregulated, iron is imported, and heme is synthesized — before ample globin is produced. From the CFU-E/proerythroblast (CD71+ Ter119 cells) stage onward, erythroid progenitors exhibited excess heme content, increased cytoplasmic ROS, and increased apoptosis. Reducing heme synthesis in FLVCR1-defient animals via genetic and biochemical approaches improved the anemia, implying that heme excess causes, and is not just associated with, the erythroid marrow failure. Expression of the cell surface FLVCR1 isoform, but not the mitochondrial FLVCR1 isoform, restored normal rbc production, demonstrating that cellular heme export is essential. Together, these studies provide insight into how heme is regulated to allow effective erythropoiesis, show that erythropoiesis fails when heme is excessive, and emphasize the importance of evaluating Ter119 erythroid cells when studying erythroid marrow failure in murine models.

Interleukin-21 combined with ART reduces inflammation and viral reservoir in SIV-infected macaques
  By: Luca Micci, Emily S. Ryan, Rémi Fromentin, Steven E. Bosinger, Justin L. Harper, Tianyu He, Sara Paganini, Kirk A. Easley, Ann Chahroudi, Clarisse Benne, Sanjeev Gumber, Colleen S. McGary, Kenneth A. Rogers, Claire Deleage, Carissa Lucero, Siddappa N. Byrareddy, Cristian Apetrei, Jacob D. Estes, Jeffrey D. Lifson, Michael Piatak Jr., Nicolas Chomont, Francois Villinger, Guido Silvestri, Jason M. Brenchley, Mirko Paiardini

Despite successful control of viremia, many HIV-infected individuals given antiretroviral therapy (ART) exhibit residual inflammation, which is associated with non–AIDS-related morbidity and mortality and may contribute to virus persistence during ART. Here, we investigated the effects of IL-21 administration on both inflammation and virus persistence in ART-treated, SIV-infected rhesus macaques (RMs). Compared with SIV-infected animals only given ART, SIV-infected RMs given both ART and IL-21 showed improved restoration of intestinal Th17 and Th22 cells and a more effective reduction of immune activation in blood and intestinal mucosa, with the latter maintained through 8 months after ART interruption. Additionally, IL-21, in combination with ART, was associated with reduced levels of SIV RNA in plasma and decreased CD4+ T cell levels harboring replication-competent virus during ART. At the latest experimental time points, which were up to 8 months after ART interruption, plasma viremia and cell-associated SIV DNA levels remained substantially lower than those before ART initiation in IL-21–treated animals but not in controls. Together, these data suggest that IL-21 supplementation of ART reduces residual inflammation and virus persistence in a relevant model of lentiviral disease and warrants further investigation as a potential intervention for HIV infection.

Platelet-derived HMGB1 is a critical mediator of thrombosis
  By: Sebastian Vogel, Rebecca Bodenstein, Qiwei Chen, Susanne Feil, Robert Feil, Johannes Rheinlaender, Tilman E. Schäffer, Erwin Bohn, Julia-Stefanie Frick, Oliver Borst, Patrick Münzer, Britta Walker, Justin Markel, Gabor Csanyi, Patrick J. Pagano, Patricia Loughran, Morgan E. Jessup, Simon C. Watkins, Grant C. Bullock, Jason L. Sperry, Brian S. Zuckerbraun, Timothy R. Billiar, Michael T. Lotze, Meinrad Gawaz, Matthew D. Neal

Thrombosis and inflammation are intricately linked in several major clinical disorders, including disseminated intravascular coagulation and acute ischemic events. The damage-associated molecular pattern molecule high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is upregulated by activated platelets in multiple inflammatory diseases; however, the contribution of platelet-derived HMGB1 in thrombosis remains unexplored. Here, we generated transgenic mice with platelet-specific ablation of HMGB1 and determined that platelet-derived HMGB1 is a critical mediator of thrombosis. Mice lacking HMGB1 in platelets exhibited increased bleeding times as well as reduced thrombus formation, platelet aggregation, inflammation, and organ damage during experimental trauma/hemorrhagic shock. Platelets were the major source of HMGB1 within thrombi. In trauma patients, HMGB1 expression on the surface of circulating platelets was markedly upregulated. Moreover, evaluation of isolated platelets revealed that HMGB1 is critical for regulating platelet activation, granule secretion, adhesion, and spreading. These effects were mediated via TLR4- and MyD88-dependent recruitment of platelet guanylyl cyclase (GC) toward the plasma membrane, followed by MyD88/GC complex formation and activation of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (cGKI). Thus, we establish platelet-derived HMGB1 as an important mediator of thrombosis and identify a HMGB1-driven link between MyD88 and GC/cGKI in platelets. Additionally, these findings suggest a potential therapeutic target for patients sustaining trauma and other inflammatory disorders associated with abnormal coagulation.

Aging-associated inflammation promotes selection for adaptive oncogenic events in B cell progenitors
  By: Curtis J. Henry, Matias Casás-Selves, Jihye Kim, Vadym Zaberezhnyy, Leila Aghili, Ashley E. Daniel, Linda Jimenez, Tania Azam, Eoin N. McNamee, Eric T. Clambey, Jelena Klawitter, Natalie J. Serkova, Aik Choon Tan, Charles A. Dinarello, James DeGregori

The incidence of cancer is higher in the elderly; however, many of the underlying mechanisms for this association remain unexplored. Here, we have shown that B cell progenitors in old mice exhibit marked signaling, gene expression, and metabolic defects. Moreover, B cell progenitors that developed from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) transferred from young mice into aged animals exhibited similar fitness defects. We further demonstrated that ectopic expression of the oncogenes BCR-ABL, NRASV12, or Myc restored B cell progenitor fitness, leading to selection for oncogenically initiated cells and leukemogenesis specifically in the context of an aged hematopoietic system. Aging was associated with increased inflammation in the BM microenvironment, and induction of inflammation in young mice phenocopied aging-associated B lymphopoiesis. Conversely, a reduction of inflammation in aged mice via transgenic expression of α-1-antitrypsin or IL-37 preserved the function of B cell progenitors and prevented NRASV12-mediated oncogenesis. We conclude that chronic inflammatory microenvironments in old age lead to reductions in the fitness of B cell progenitor populations. This reduced progenitor pool fitness engenders selection for cells harboring oncogenic mutations, in part due to their ability to correct aging-associated functional defects. Thus, modulation of inflammation — a common feature of aging — has the potential to limit aging-associated oncogenesis.

Rabbit antithymocyte globulin–induced serum sickness disease and human kidney graft survival
  By: Grégoire Couvrat-Desvergnes, Apolline Salama, Ludmilla Le Berre, Gwénaëlle Evanno, Ondrej Viklicky, Petra Hruba, Pavel Vesely, Pierrick Guerif, Thomas Dejoie, Juliette Rousse, Arnaud Nicot, Jean-Marie Bach, Evelyn Ang, Yohann Foucher, Sophie Brouard, Stéphanie Castagnet, Magali Giral, Jean Harb, Hélène Perreault, Béatrice Charreau, Marine Lorent, Jean-Paul Soulillou

BACKGROUND. Rabbit-generated antithymocyte globulins (ATGs), which target human T cells, are widely used as immunosuppressive agents during treatment of kidney allograft recipients. However, ATGs can induce immune complex diseases, including serum sickness disease (SSD). Rabbit and human IgGs have various antigenic differences, including expression of the sialic acid Neu5Gc and α-1-3-Gal (Gal), which are not synthesized by human beings. Moreover, anti-Neu5Gc antibodies have been shown to preexist and be elicited by immunization in human subjects. This study aimed to assess the effect of SSD on long-term kidney allograft outcome and to compare the immunization status of grafted patients presenting with SSD following ATG induction treatment.

METHODS. We analyzed data from a cohort of 889 first kidney graft recipients with ATG induction (86 with SSD [SSD+] and 803 without SSD [SSD]) from the Données Informatisées et Validées en Transplantation data bank. Two subgroups of SSD+ and SSD patients that had received ATG induction treatment were then assessed for total anti-ATG, anti-Neu5Gc, and anti-Gal antibodies using ELISA assays on sera before and after transplantation.

RESULTS. SSD was significantly associated with long-term graft loss (>10 years, P = 0.02). Moreover, SSD+ patients exhibited significantly elevated titers of anti-ATG (P = 0.043) and anti-Neu5Gc (P = 0.007) IgGs in late post-graft samples compared with SSD recipients.

CONCLUSION. In conclusion, our data indicate that SSD is a major contributing factor of late graft loss following ATG induction and that anti-Neu5Gc antibodies increase over time in SSD+ patients.

FUNDING. This study was funded by Société d’Accélération du Transfert de Technologies Ouest Valorisation, the European FP7 “Translink” research program, the French National Agency of Research, Labex Transplantex, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

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