Current therapies directed at controlling vascular abnormalities in cancers and neovascular eye diseases target VEGF and can slow the progression of these diseases. While the critical role of VEGF in development has been well described, the function of locally synthesized VEGF in the adult eye is incompletely understood. Here, we show that conditionally knocking out Vegfa in adult mouse retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells, which regulate retinal homeostasis, rapidly leads to vision loss and ablation of the choriocapillaris, the major blood supply for the outer retina and photoreceptor cells. This deletion also caused rapid dysfunction of cone photoreceptors, the cells responsible for fine visual acuity and color vision. Furthermore, Vegfa deletion showed significant downregulation of multiple angiogenic genes in both physiological and pathological states, whereas the deletion of the upstream regulatory transcriptional factors HIFs did not affect the physiological expressions of angiogenic genes. These results suggest that endogenous VEGF provides critical trophic support necessary for retinal function. Targeting factors upstream of VEGF, such as HIFs, may be therapeutically advantageous compared with more potent and selective VEGF antagonists, which may have more off-target inhibitory trophic effects.
Toshihide Kurihara, Peter D. Westenskow, Stephen Bravo, Edith Aguilar, Martin Friedlander
Although endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is a pathologic mechanism in a variety of chronic diseases, it is unclear what role it plays in chronic hypertension (HTN). Dysregulation of brain mechanisms controlling arterial pressure is strongly implicated in HTN, particularly in models involving angiotensin II (Ang II). We tested the hypothesis that ER stress in the brain is causally linked to Ang II–dependent HTN. Chronic systemic infusion of low-dose Ang II in C57BL/6 mice induced slowly developing HTN, which was abolished by co-infusion of the ER stress inhibitor tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) into the lateral cerebroventricle. Investigations of the brain regions involved revealed robust increases in ER stress biomarkers and profound ER morphological abnormalities in the circumventricular subfornical organ (SFO), a region outside the blood-brain barrier and replete with Ang II receptors. Ang II–induced HTN could be prevented in this model by selective genetic supplementation of the ER chaperone 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78) in the SFO. These data demonstrate that Ang II–dependent HTN is mediated by ER stress in the brain, particularly the SFO. To our knowledge, this is the first report that ER stress, notably brain ER stress, plays a key role in chronic HTN. Taken together, these findings may have broad implications for the pathophysiology of this disease.
Colin N. Young, Xian Cao, Mallikarjuna R. Guruju, Joseph P. Pierce, Donald A. Morgan, Gang Wang, Costantino Iadecola, Allyn L. Mark, Robin L. Davisson
Progranulin (PGRN) is a widely expressed secreted protein that is linked to inflammation. In humans, PGRN haploinsufficiency is a major inherited cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but how PGRN deficiency causes neurodegeneration is unknown. Here we show that loss of PGRN results in increased neuron loss in response to injury in the CNS. When exposed acutely to 1-methyl-4-(2′-methylphenyl)-1,2,3,6-tetrahydrophine (MPTP), mice lacking PGRN (Grn–/–) showed more neuron loss and increased microgliosis compared with wild-type mice. The exacerbated neuron loss was due not to selective vulnerability of Grn–/– neurons to MPTP, but rather to an increased microglial inflammatory response. Consistent with this, conditional mutants lacking PGRN in microglia exhibited MPTP-induced phenotypes similar to Grn–/– mice. Selective depletion of PGRN from microglia in mixed cortical cultures resulted in increased death of wild-type neurons in the absence of injury. Furthermore, Grn–/– microglia treated with LPS/IFN-γ exhibited an amplified inflammatory response, and conditioned media from these microglia promoted death of cultured neurons. Our results indicate that PGRN deficiency leads to dysregulated microglial activation and thereby contributes to increased neuron loss with injury. These findings suggest that PGRN deficiency may cause increased neuron loss in other forms of CNS injury accompanied by neuroinflammation.
Lauren Herl Martens, Jiasheng Zhang, Sami J. Barmada, Ping Zhou, Sherry Kamiya, Binggui Sun, Sang-Won Min, Li Gan, Steven Finkbeiner, Eric J. Huang, Robert V. Farese Jr.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) is the second most common primary malignancy in the liver. ICC has been classified as a malignant tumor arising from cholangiocytes; however, the co-occurrence of ICC and viral hepatitis suggests that ICC originates in hepatocytes. In order to determine the cellular origin of ICC, we used a mouse model of ICC in which hepatocytes and cholangiocytes were labeled with heritable, cell type–specific reporters. Our studies reveal that ICC is generated by biliary lineage cells derived from hepatocytes, rather than cholangiocytes. Additionally, we found that Notch activation is critical for hepatocyte conversion into biliary lineage cells during the onset of ICC and its subsequent malignancy and progression. These findings will help to elucidate the pathogenic mechanism of ICC and to develop therapeutic strategies for this refractory disease.
Sayaka Sekiya, Atsushi Suzuki
Hyperprolactinemia is the most common cause of hypogonadotropic anovulation and is one of the leading causes of infertility in women aged 25–34. Hyperprolactinemia has been proposed to block ovulation through inhibition of GnRH release. Kisspeptin neurons, which express prolactin receptors, were recently identified as major regulators of GnRH neurons. To mimic the human pathology of anovulation, we continuously infused female mice with prolactin. Our studies demonstrated that hyperprolactinemia in mice induced anovulation, reduced GnRH and gonadotropin secretion, and diminished kisspeptin expression. Kisspeptin administration restored gonadotropin secretion and ovarian cyclicity, suggesting that kisspeptin neurons play a major role in hyperprolactinemic anovulation. Our studies indicate that administration of kisspeptin may serve as an alternative therapeutic approach to restore the fertility of hyperprolactinemic women who are resistant or intolerant to dopamine agonists.
Charlotte Sonigo, Justine Bouilly, Nadège Carré, Virginie Tolle, Alain Caraty, Javier Tello, Fabian-Jesus Simony-Conesa, Robert Millar, Jacques Young, Nadine Binart
The osteoporosis associated with human hyperthyroidism has traditionally been attributed to elevated thyroid hormone levels. There is evidence, however, that thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is low in most hyperthyroid states, directly affects the skeleton. Importantly, Tshr-knockout mice are osteopenic. In order to determine whether low TSH levels contribute to bone loss in hyperthyroidism, we compared the skeletal phenotypes of wild-type and Tshr-knockout mice that were rendered hyperthyroid. We found that hyperthyroid mice lacking TSHR had greater bone loss and resorption than hyperthyroid wild-type mice, thereby demonstrating that the absence of TSH signaling contributes to bone loss. Further, we identified a TSH-like factor that may confer osteoprotection. These studies suggest that therapeutic suppression of TSH to very low levels may contribute to bone loss in people.
Ramkumarie Baliram, Li Sun, Jay Cao, Jianhua Li, Rauf Latif, Amanda K. Huber, Tony Yuen, Harry C. Blair, Mone Zaidi, Terry F. Davies
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the gene encoding huntingtin (HTT). Therapeutic approaches to lower mutant HTT (mHTT) levels are expected to proceed to human trials, but noninvasive quantification of mHTT is not currently possible. The importance of the peripheral immune system in neurodegenerative disease is becoming increasingly recognized. Peripheral immune cells have been implicated in HD pathogenesis, but HTT levels in these cells have not been quantified before. A recently described time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) immunoassay was used to quantify mutant and total HTT protein levels in leukocytes from patients with HD. Mean mHTT levels in monocytes, T cells, and B cells differed significantly between patients with HD and controls and between pre-manifest mutation carriers and those with clinical onset. Monocyte and T cell mHTT levels were significantly associated with disease burden scores and caudate atrophy rates in patients with HD. mHTT N-terminal fragments detected in HD PBMCs may explain the progressive increase in mHTT levels in these cells. These findings indicate that quantification of mHTT in peripheral immune cells by TR-FRET holds significant promise as a noninvasive disease biomarker.
Andreas Weiss, Ulrike Träger, Edward J. Wild, Stephan Grueninger, Ruth Farmer, Christian Landles, Rachael I. Scahill, Nayana Lahiri, Salman Haider, Douglas Macdonald, Chris Frost, Gillian P. Bates, Graeme Bilbe, Rainer Kuhn, Ralph Andre, Sarah J. Tabrizi
Although long considered a promising treatment option for type 1 diabetes, pancreatic islet cell transformation has been hindered by immune system rejection of engrafted tissue. The identification of pathways that regulate post-transplant detrimental inflammatory events would improve management and outcome of transplanted patients. Here, we found that CXCR1/2 chemokine receptors and their ligands are crucial negative determinants for islet survival after transplantation. Pancreatic islets released abundant CXCR1/2 ligands (CXCL1 and CXCL8). Accordingly, intrahepatic CXCL1 and circulating CXCL1 and CXCL8 were strongly induced shortly after islet infusion. Genetic and pharmacological blockade of the CXCL1-CXCR1/2 axis in mice improved intrahepatic islet engraftment and reduced intrahepatic recruitment of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and NKT cells after islet infusion. In humans, the CXCR1/2 allosteric inhibitor reparixin improved outcome in a phase 2 randomized, open-label pilot study with a single infusion of allogeneic islets. These findings indicate that the CXCR1/2-mediated pathway is a regulator of islet damage and should be a target for intervention to improve the efficacy of transplantation.
Antonio Citro, Elisa Cantarelli, Paola Maffi, Rita Nano, Raffaella Melzi, Alessia Mercalli, Erica Dugnani, Valeria Sordi, Paola Magistretti, Luisa Daffonchio, Pier Adelchi Ruffini, Marcello Allegretti, Antonio Secchi, Ezio Bonifacio, Lorenzo Piemonti
Asthma is a chronic condition with unknown pathogenesis, and recent evidence suggests that enhanced airway epithelial chloride (Cl–) secretion plays a role in the disease. However, the molecular mechanism underlying Cl– secretion and its relevance in asthma pathophysiology remain unknown. To determine the role of the solute carrier family 26, member 9 (SLC26A9) Cl– channel in asthma, we induced Th2-mediated inflammation via IL-13 treatment in wild-type and Slc26a9-deficient mice and compared the effects on airway ion transport, morphology, and mucus content. We found that IL-13 treatment increased Cl– secretion in the airways of wild-type but not Slc26a9-deficient mice. While IL-13–induced mucus overproduction was similar in both strains, treated Slc26a9-deficient mice exhibited airway mucus obstruction, which did not occur in wild-type controls. In a study involving healthy children and asthmatics, a polymorphism in the 3′ UTR of SLC26A9 that reduced protein expression in vitro was associated with asthma. Our data demonstrate that the SLC26A9 Cl– channel is activated in airway inflammation and suggest that SLC26A9-mediated Cl– secretion is essential for preventing airway obstruction in allergic airway disease. These results indicate that SLC26A9 may serve as a therapeutic target for airway diseases associated with mucus plugging.
Pinelopi Anagnostopoulou, Brigitte Riederer, Julia Duerr, Sven Michel, Aristea Binia, Raman Agrawal, Xuemei Liu, Katrin Kalitzki, Fang Xiao, Mingmin Chen, Jolanthe Schatterny, Dorothee Hartmann, Thomas Thum, Michael Kabesch, Manoocher Soleimani, Ursula Seidler, Marcus A. Mall
Mutations in the photoreceptor-specific flippase ABCA4 are associated with Stargardt disease and many other forms of retinal degeneration that currently lack curative therapies. Gene replacement is a logical strategy for ABCA4-associated disease, particularly given the current success of traditional viral-mediated gene delivery, such as with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors. However, the large size of the ABCA4 cDNA (6.8 kbp) has hampered progress in the development of genetic treatments. Nonviral DNA nanoparticles (NPs) can accommodate large genes, unlike traditional viral vectors, which have capacity limitations. We utilized an optimized DNA NP technology to subretinally deliver ABCA4 to Abca4-deficient mice. We detected persistent ABCA4 transgene expression for up to 8 months after injection and found marked correction of functional and structural Stargardt phenotypes, such as improved recovery of dark adaptation and reduced lipofuscin granules. These data suggest that DNA NPs may be an excellent, clinically relevant gene delivery approach for genes too large for traditional viral vectors.
Zongchao Han, Shannon M. Conley, Rasha S. Makkia, Mark J. Cooper, Muna I. Naash
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