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1.  HMGB1–LPS complex promotes transformation of osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts to a rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblast-like phenotype 
Qin, Y | Chen, Y | Wang, W | Wang, Z | Tang, G | Zhang, P | He, Z | Liu, Y | Dai, S-M | Shen, Q
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(2):e1077-.
It is generally believed that some inflammatory antigens can recognize Toll-like receptors on synovial fibroblasts (SFs) and then activate downstream signals, leading to the formation of RASFs and inducing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of the current work was to study on the hypothesis that outer PAMP (LPS) binds to the inner DAMP (HMGB1) and becomes a complex that recognizes TLRs/RAGE on SFs, thus initiating a signaling cascade that leads to the secretion of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, production of tissue-destructive enzymes, and formation of RASFs, finally resulting in RA. Osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) were co-cultured with HMGB1–LPS complex in vitro for five generations to induce the transformation of human SFs to RA-like SFs (tOASFs). Then, changes of tOASFs in cell cycle and apoptosis–autophagy balance were investigated in vitro, and the pathogenicity of tOASFs was evaluated in a SCID mouse model in vivo. In vitro cell cycle analysis showed more tOASFs passing through the G1/S checkpoint and moving to S or G2 phase. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy showed that apoptosis was reduced and autophagy was enhanced significantly in tOASFs as compared with those in OASFs. The expression of certain receptors and adhesion molecules in tOASFs was upregulated. In vivo experiments showed that tOASFs attached to, invaded, and degraded the co-implanted cartilage. In addition, histochemistry showed excessive proliferation of tOASFs and the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Based on the above findings, we conclude that HMGB1–LPS complex could promote the formation of RASFs.
PMCID: PMC3944262  PMID: 24556692
rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblast; HMGB1; autophagy
2.  Autophagy induction and CHOP under-expression promotes survival of fibroblasts from rheumatoid arthritis patients under endoplasmic reticulum stress 
Synovial fibroblasts from rheumatoid arthritis show resistance to apoptotic stimuli, indicating they may be difficult to treat. To clearly understand these mechanisms of resistance, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF and OASF) were exposed to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress such as thapsigargin, Ca2+-ATPase inhibitor.
Fibroblasts were assessed microscopically for cell viability by trypan blue exclusion and for autophagic cells by LC-3II formation. Caspase-3 activity was measured as aminomethyl-coumarin (AMC) liberated from AC-DEVD-AMC. Immunoblotting was performed to compare protein expression in OASF and RASF.
ER stress caused cell death in OASF but not in RASF. Thapsigargin, a Ca2+-ATPase inhibitor, did not change the expression of GRP78, an ER chaperone in OASF and RASF, but induced another ER stress protein, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) homologous protein (CHOP) differently, showing high levels in OASF and low levels in RASF. Thapsigargin increased the autophagy response in RASF, with autophagosome formation, beclin expression, and LC3-II conversion. Transfection with beclin siRNA inhibited autophagy and increased the susceptibility to ER stress-induced cell death. On the other hand, CHOP siRNA increased autophagy and improved cell survival, especially in RASF, indicating that CHOP is involved in regulation of autophagy and cell death, but that low expression of CHOP protects RASF from apoptosis.
Autophagy induction and CHOP under-expression increases cell resistance against ER stress-induced cell death in fibroblasts from rheumatoid arthritis patients.
PMCID: PMC2875648  PMID: 20122151
3.  Up-regulation of dorsal root ganglia BDNF and trkB receptor in inflammatory pain: an in vivo and in vitro study 
During inflammation, immune cells accumulate in damaged areas and release pro-inflammatory cytokines and neurotrophins. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a neuromodulatory role in spinal cord dorsal horn via the post-synaptic tyrosine protein kinase B (trkB) receptor to facilitate pain transmission. However, the precise role of BDNF and trkB receptor in the primary sensory neurons of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) during inflammation remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how BDNF-trkB signaling in the DRG is involved in the process of inflammatory pain.
We used complete Freund's adjuvant- (CFA-) induced and tumor necrosis factor-α- (TNF-α-) induced inflammation in rat hindpaw as animal models of inflammatory pain. Quantification of protein and/or mRNA levels of pain mediators was performed in separate lumbar L3-L5 DRGs. The cellular mechanism of TNF-α-induced BDNF and/or trkB receptor expression was examined in primary DRG cultures collected from pooled L1-L6 DRGs. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), BDNF and substance P release were also evaluated by enzyme immunoassay.
CFA injection into rat hindpaw resulted in mechanical hyperalgesia and significant increases in levels of TNF-α in the inflamed tissues, along with enhancement of BDNF and trkB receptor as well as the pain mediators CGRP and transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (TRPV1) in DRG. Direct injection of TNF-α into rat hindpaw resulted in similar effects with retrograde transport of TNF-α along the saphenous nerve to DRG during CFA-induced inflammation. Primary DRG cultures chronically treated with TNF-α showed significant enhancement of mRNA and protein levels of BDNF and trkB receptor, BDNF release and trkB-induced phospho-ERK1/2 signal. Moreover, CGRP and substance P release were enhanced in DRG cultures after chronic TNF-α treatment or acute BDNF stimulation. In addition, we found that BDNF up-regulated trkB expression in DRG cultures.
Based on our current experimental results, we conclude that inflammation and TNF-α up-regulate the BDNF-trkB system in DRG. This phenomenon suggests that up-regulation of BDNF in DRG may, in addition to its post-synaptic effect in spinal dorsal horn, act as an autocrine and/or paracrine signal to activate the pre-synaptic trkB receptor and regulate synaptic excitability in pain transmission, thereby contributing to the development of hyperalgesia.
PMCID: PMC3203068  PMID: 21958434
4.  Paradoxical Role of BDNF: BDNF+/− Retinas Are Protected against Light Damage–Mediated Stress 
Photoreceptors can be prevented from undergoing apoptosis in response to constant light by the application of exogenous neuroprotective agents, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF, however, cannot exert its effect directly on photoreceptors because they do not express receptors for BDNF. It has been proposed that BDNF released from Müller cells provides a feed-forward loop, increasing ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) production in Müller cells, which may enhance photoreceptor survival. The authors hypothesized that retinas with reduced BDNF levels in which the BDNF-mediated release of neuroprotective signals is dampened are more susceptible to light-induced photoreceptor degeneration.
Young adult BDNF+/+ and BDNF+/− littermates (B6.129-BDNFtm1-LT) were analyzed. Retinal neurotrophin and growth factor mRNA levels were determined by quantitative RT-PCR, photoreceptor function was assessed through electroretinography, and survival was documented in morphologic sections and in TUNEL assays. Oxidative stress was assayed by measuring glutathione peroxidase activity.
baseline, BDNF+/− animals had significantly increased levels of glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) mRNA compared with their wild-type littermates. After light damage GDNF, CNTF, and BDNF mRNA levels dropped 14- to 16-fold in the BDNF+/+ mice but remained almost unchanged compared with baseline levels in the BDNF+/− mice. Preservation of neurotrophin levels in BDNF+/− mice correlated with photoreceptor cell survival, preservation of function, and reduced oxidative stress.
Contrary to the hypothesis, reducing BDNF levels resulted in photoreceptor protection against light damage. Survival was paralleled by a reduction in oxidative stress and the preservation of neurotrophin levels, suggesting that chronic reduction of BDNF in the retina provides a level of preconditioning against stress.
PMCID: PMC1964504  PMID: 17525224
5.  Adiponectin Enhances Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 Expression and Promotes Monocyte Adhesion in Human Synovial Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92741.
Adiponectin is a protein hormone secreted predominantly by differentiated adipocytes and is involved in energy homeostasis. Adiponectin expression is significantly high in the synovial fluid of patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) is an important adhesion molecule that mediates monocyte adhesion and infiltration during OA pathogenesis. Adiponectin-induced expression of ICAM-1 in human OA synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) was examined by using qPCR, flow cytometry and western blotting. The intracellular signaling pathways were investigated by pretreated with inhibitors or transfection with siRNA. The monocyte THP-1 cell line was used for an adhesion assay with OASFs. Stimulation of OASFs with adiponectin induced ICAM-1 expression. Pretreatment with AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) inhibitors (AraA and compound C) or transfection with siRNA against AMPKα1 and two AMPK upstream activator- liver kinase B1 (LKB1) and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) diminished the adiponectin-induced ICAM-1 expression. Stimulation of OASFs with adiponectin increased phosphorylation of LKB1, CaMKII, AMPK, and c-Jun, resulting in c-Jun binding to AP-1 element of ICAM-1 promoter. In addition, adiponectin-induced activation of the LKB1/CaMKII, AMPK, and AP-1 pathway increased the adhesion of monocytes to the OASF monolayer. Our results suggest that adiponectin increases ICAM-1 expression in human OASFs via the LKB1/CaMKII, AMPK, c-Jun, and AP-1 signaling pathway. Adiponectin-induced ICAM-1 expression promoted the adhesion of monocytes to human OASFs. These findings may provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of OA and can utilize this knowledge to design a new therapeutic strategy.
PMCID: PMC3965461  PMID: 24667577
6.  BDNF Regulates the Expression and Distribution of Vesicular Glutamate Transporters in Cultured Hippocampal Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53793.
BDNF is a pro-survival protein involved in neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. BDNF strengthens excitatory synapses and contributes to LTP, presynaptically, through enhancement of glutamate release, and postsynaptically, via phosphorylation of neurotransmitter receptors, modulation of receptor traffic and activation of the translation machinery. We examined whether BDNF upregulated vesicular glutamate receptor (VGLUT) 1 and 2 expression, which would partly account for the increased glutamate release in LTP. Cultured rat hippocampal neurons were incubated with 100 ng/ml BDNF, for different periods of time, and VGLUT gene and protein expression were assessed by real-time PCR and immunoblotting, respectively. At DIV7, exogenous application of BDNF rapidly increased VGLUT2 mRNA and protein levels, in a dose-dependent manner. VGLUT1 expression also increased but only transiently. However, at DIV14, BDNF stably increased VGLUT1 expression, whilst VGLUT2 levels remained low. Transcription inhibition with actinomycin-D or α-amanitine, and translation inhibition with emetine or anisomycin, fully blocked BDNF-induced VGLUT upregulation. Fluorescence microscopy imaging showed that BDNF stimulation upregulates the number, integrated density and intensity of VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 puncta in neurites of cultured hippocampal neurons (DIV7), indicating that the neurotrophin also affects the subcellular distribution of the transporter in developing neurons. Increased VGLUT1 somatic signals were also found 3 h after stimulation with BDNF, further suggesting an increased de novo transcription and translation. BDNF regulation of VGLUT expression was specifically mediated by BDNF, as no effect was found upon application of IGF-1 or bFGF, which activate other receptor tyrosine kinases. Moreover, inhibition of TrkB receptors with K252a and PLCγ signaling with U-73122 precluded BDNF-induced VGLUT upregulation. Hippocampal neurons express both isoforms during embryonic and neonatal development in contrast to adult tissue expressing only VGLUT1. These results suggest that BDNF regulates VGLUT expression during development and its effect on VGLUT1 may contribute to enhance glutamate release in LTP.
PMCID: PMC3543267  PMID: 23326507
7.  Endothelial protein C receptor-associated invasiveness of rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts is likely driven by group V secretory phospholipase A2 
Rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) mediate joint inflammation and destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) is a specific receptor for the natural anticoagulant activated protein C (APC). It mediates the cytoprotective properties of APC and is expressed in rheumatoid synovial tissue. A recent report shows that group V secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2V) prevents APC from binding to EPCR in endothelium and inhibits EPCR/APC function. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and function of EPCR on RASFs.
Human synovial fibroblasts (SFs) were isolated from RA or osteoarthritis (OA) synovial tissues and treated with control, EPCR, or sPLA2V small interfering RNA (siRNA); recombinant human APC, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), or sPLA2V. RASF viability and migration/invasion were measured by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and collagen gel migration/invasion assays, respectively, and cartilage degradation by 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay in the presence of human OA articular cartilage explants. The expression or activation of cytokines, EPCR, cadherin-11, mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, and nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-κB) or both were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, Western blotting, or immunostaining.
EPCR was expressed by both OASFs and RASFs but was markedly increased in RASFs. When EPCR was suppressed by siRNA or blocking antibody cell viability, cell invasion and cartilage degradation were reduced by more than 30%. Inflammatory mediators interleukin-1-beta (IL-1β), cadherin-11, and NF-κB were significantly reduced by EPCR suppression under control or TNF-α-stimulated conditions. The expression or activation (or both) of MAP kinases ERK, p38, and JNK were also markedly decreased in cells transfected with EPCR siRNA. Further analysis revealed that sPLA2V co-localized with EPCR on RASFs. Suppression of sPLA2V reduced cell viability and cartilage degradation and increased APC binding to RASFs. Conversely, recombinant sPLA2V increased cartilage degradation, blocked APC binding to RASFs, and could not rescue the effects induced by EPCR suppression.
Our results demonstrate that EPCR is overexpressed by RASFs and mediates the aggressive behavior of RASFs. This function of EPCR is contrary to its cytoprotective role in other settings and is likely driven by sPLA2V.
PMCID: PMC3979138  PMID: 24495480
8.  Leptin Induces IL-6 Expression through OBRl Receptor Signaling Pathway in Human Synovial Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75551.
Leptin, an adipocyte-secreted hormone that centrally regulates weight control, may exert proinflammatory effects in the joint, depending on the immune response. Leptin is abundantly expressed in osteoarthritis (OA) cartilage and synovium. However, the relationship between leptin and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in OA synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) remains obscure.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Stimulation of OASFs with leptin induced IL-6 expression in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. OASFs expressed the long (OBRl) and short (OBRs) isoforms of the leptin receptor. However, OBRl, but not OBRs, antisense oligonucleotide (AS-ODN) abolished the leptin-mediated increase of IL-6 expression. Transfection with insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 siRNA decreased leptin-induced IL-6 production. In addition, pretreatment of cells with PI3K, Akt, or AP-1 inhibitor also inhibited the potentiating action of leptin. Leptin-induced AP-1 activation was inhibited by OBRl, IRS-1, PI3K, or Akt inhibitors and siRNAs.
Our results showed that leptin activates the OBRl receptor, which in turn activates IRS-1, PI3K, Akt, and AP-1 pathway, leading to up-regulation of IL-6 expression.
PMCID: PMC3785513  PMID: 24086566
9.  BDNF Secretion by Human Pulmonary Artery Endothelial Cells in Response to Hypoxia 
Within human pulmonary artery, neurotrophin growth factors [NTs; e.g. brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)] and their high-affinity receptors (tropomyosin-related kinase; Trk) and low-affinity receptors p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) have been reported, but their functional role is incompletely understood. We tested the hypothesis that BDNF is produced by human pulmonary artery endothelial cells (PAECs). In the context of hypoxia as a risk factor for pulmonary hypertension, we examined the effect of hypoxia on BDNF secretion and consequent autocrine effects on pulmonary endothelium. Initial ELISA analysis of circulating BDNF in 30 healthy human volunteers showed that 72h exposure to high altitude (~11,000 ft, alveolar PO2=100mmHg) results in higher BDNF compared to samples taken at sea level. Separately, in human PAECs exposed for 24h to normoxia vs. hypoxia (1–3% O2), ELISA of extracellular media showed increased BDNF levels. Furthermore, quantitative PCR of PAECs showed 3-fold enhancement of BDNF gene transcription with hypoxia. In PAECs, BDNF induced NO production (measured using an NO-sensitive fluorescent dye DAF2-DA) that was significantly higher under hypoxic conditions, an effect also noted with the TrkB agonist 7,8-DHF. Importantly, hypoxia-induced NO was blunted by neutralization of secreted BDNF using the chimeric TrkB-Fc. Both hypoxia and BDNF increased iNOS (but not eNOS) mRNA expression. In accordance, BDNF enhancement of NO in hypoxia was not blunted by 50 nM L-NAME (eNOS inhibition) but substantially lower with 100μM L-NAME (eNOS and iNOS inhibition). Hypoxia and BDNF also induced expression of hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α), a subunit of the transcription factor HIF-1, and pharmacological inhibition of HIF-1 diminished hypoxia effects on BDNF expression and secretion, and NO production. These results indicate that human PAECs express and secrete BDNF in response to hypoxia via a HIF-1- regulated pathway.
PMCID: PMC3977651  PMID: 24462831
Neurotrophin; Tropomyosin related kinase; Nitric oxide; Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1; iNOS; eNOS
10.  Increased production of BDNF in colonic epithelial cells induced by fecal supernatants from diarrheic IBS patients 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:10121.
Colonic brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an essential role in pathogenesis of abdominal pain in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D), but regulation on its expression remains unclear. We investigated the role of fecal supernatants (FSN) from IBS-D patients on regulating BDNF expression in colonic epithelial cells of human and mice. Using human Caco-2 cells, we found that IBS-D FSN significantly increased BDNF mRNA and protein levels compared to control FSN, which were remarkably suppressed by the serine protease inhibitor. To further explore the potential mechanisms, we investigated the impact of protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) on BDNF expression. We found a significant increase in PAR-2 expression in Caco-2 after IBS-D FSN stimulation. Knockdown of PAR-2 significantly inhibited IBS-D FSN-induced upregulation of BDNF. Moreover, we found that phosphorylation of p38 MAPK, not NF-κB p65, contributed to PAR-2-mediated BDNF overexpression. To confirm these results, we intracolonically infused IBS-D or control FSN in mice and found that IBS-D FSN significantly elevated colonic BDNF and visceral hypersensitivity in mice, which were both suppressed by the inhibitor of serine protease or antagonist of PAR-2. Together, our data indicate that activation of PAR-2 signaling by IBS-D FSN promotes expression of colonic BDNF, thereby contributing to IBS-like visceral hypersensitivity.
PMCID: PMC4441152  PMID: 25998025
11.  Thrombin induces heme oxygenase-1 expression in human synovial fibroblasts through protease-activated receptor signaling pathways 
Thrombin is a key factor in the stimulation of fibrin deposition, angiogenesis, and proinflammatory processes. Abnormalities in these processes are primary features of osteoarthritis (OA). Heme oxygenase (HO)-1 is a stress-inducible rate-limiting enzyme in heme degradation that confers cytoprotection against oxidative injury. Here, we investigated the intracellular signaling pathways involved in thrombin-induced HO-1 expression in human synovial fibroblasts (SFs).
Thrombin-mediated HO-1 expression was assessed with quantitative real-time (q)PCR. The mechanisms of action of thrombin in different signaling pathways were studied by using Western blotting. Knockdown of protease-activated receptor (PAR) proteins was achieved by transfection with siRNA. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were used to study in vivo binding of Nrf2 to the HO-1 promoter. Transient transfection was used to examine HO-1 activity.
Osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) showed significant expression of thrombin, and expression was higher than in normal SFs. OASFs stimulation with thrombin induced concentration- and time-dependent increases in HO-1 expression. Pharmacologic inhibitors or activators and genetic inhibition by siRNA of protease-activated receptors (PARs) revealed that the PAR1 and PAR3 receptors, but not the PAR4 receptor, are involved in thrombin-mediated upregulation of HO-1. Thrombin-mediated HO-1 expression was attenuated by thrombin inhibitor (PPACK), PKCδ inhibitor (rottlerin), or c-Src inhibitor (PP2). Stimulation of cells with thrombin increased PKCδ, c-Src, and Nrf2 activation.
Our results suggest that the interaction between thrombin and PAR1/PAR3 increases HO-1 expression in human synovial fibroblasts through the PKCδ, c-Src, and Nrf2 signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3446465  PMID: 22541814
12.  CTGF Increases IL-6 Expression in Human Synovial Fibroblasts through Integrin-Dependent Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51097.
Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF; also known as CCN2) is an inflammatory mediator, and shows elevated levels in regions of severe injury and inflammatory diseases. CTGF is abundantly expressed in osteoarthritis (OA). However, the relationship between CTGF and IL-6 in OA synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) is mostly unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
OASFs showed significant expression of CTGF, and expression was higher than in normal SFs. OASFs stimulation with CTGF induced concentration-dependent increases in IL-6 expression. CTGF mediated IL-6 production was attenuated by αvβ5 integrin neutralized antibody and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) shRNA. Pretreatment with p38 inhibitor (SB203580), JNK inhibitor (SP600125), AP-1 inhibitors (Curcumin and Tanshinone IIA), and NF-κB inhibitors (PDTC and TPCK) also inhibited the potentiating action of CTGF. CTGF-mediated increase of NF-κB and AP-1 luciferase activity was inhibited by SB203580 and SP600125 or ASK1 shRNA or p38 and JNK mutant.
Our results suggest that CTGF increased IL-6 production in OASFs via the αvβ5 integrin, ASK1, p38/JNK, and AP-1/NF-κB signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3515445  PMID: 23227240
13.  Ampakines cause sustained increases in BDNF signaling at excitatory synapses without changes in AMPA receptor subunit expression 
Neuroscience  2008;159(1):283-295.
Recent demonstrations that positive modulators of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (ampakines) increase neuronal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression have suggested a novel strategy for treating neurodegenerative diseases. However, reports that AMPA and BDNF receptors are down-regulated by prolonged activation raise concerns about the extent to which activity-induced increases in BDNF levels can be sustained without compromising glutamate receptor function. The present study constitutes an initial test of whether ampakines can cause enduring increases in BDNF content and signaling without affecting AMPA receptor (AMPAR) expression. Prolonged (12–24 h) treatment with the ampakine CX614 reduced AMPAR subunit (GluR1-3) mRNA and protein levels in cultured hippocampal slices whereas treatment with AMPAR antagonists had the opposite effects. The cholinergic agonist carbachol also depressed GluR1-3 mRNA levels, suggesting that AMPAR down-regulation is a global response to extended periods of elevated neuronal activity. Analyses of time courses and thresholds indicated that BDNF expression is influenced by lower doses of, and shorter treatments with, the ampakine than is AMPAR expression. Accordingly, daily 3 h infusions of CX614 chronically elevated BDNF content with no effect on GluR1-3 concentrations. Restorative deconvolution microscopy provided the first evidence that chronic up-regulation of BDNF is accompanied by increased activation of the neurotrophin’s TrkB receptor at spine synapses. These results show that changes in BDNF and AMPAR expression are dissociable and that up-regulation of the former leads to enhanced trophic signaling at excitatory synapses. These findings are thus encouraging with regard to the feasibility of using ampakines to tonically enhance BDNF-dependent functions in adult brain.
PMCID: PMC2746455  PMID: 19141314
AMPA receptor modulator; synaptic scaling; gene expression; TrkB; histone deacetylase; neurotrophin
14.  Altered Expression of MicroRNA-203 in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts and Its Role in Fibroblast Activation 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(2):373-381.
MicroRNA (miRNA) are recognized as important regulators of a variety of fundamental biologic processes. Previously, we described increased expression of miR-155 and miR-146a in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and showed a repressive effect of miR-155 on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression in RA synovial fibroblasts (RASFs). The present study was undertaken to examine alterations in expression of miR-203 in RASFs and analyze its role in fibroblast activation.
Differentially expressed miRNA in RASFs versus osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) were identified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–based screening of 260 individual miRNA. Transfection of miR-203 precursor was used to analyze the function of miR-203 in RASFs. Levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and MMPs were measured by real-time PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RASFs were stimulated with IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and 5-azacytidine (5-azaC). Activity of IκB kinase 2 was inhibited with SC-514.
Expression of miR-203 was higher in RASFs than in OASFs or fibroblasts from healthy donors. Levels of miR-203 did not change upon stimulation with IL-1β, TNFα, or LPS; however, DNA demethylation with 5-azaC increased the expression of miR-203. Enforced expression of miR-203 led to significantly increased levels of MMP-1 and IL-6. Induction of IL-6 by miR-203 overexpression was inhibited by blocking of the NF-κB pathway. Basal expression levels of IL-6 correlated with basal expression levels of miR-203.
The current results demonstrate methylation-dependent regulation of miR-203 expression in RASFs. Importantly, they also show that elevated levels of miR-203 lead to increased secretion of MMP-1 and IL-6 via the NF-κB pathway and thereby contribute to the activated phenotype of synovial fibroblasts in RA.
PMCID: PMC3116142  PMID: 21279994
15.  High mobility group box protein 1 in complex with lipopolysaccharide or IL-1 promotes an increased inflammatory phenotype in synovial fibroblasts 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(4):R136.
In addition to its direct proinflammatory activity, extracellular high mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) can strongly enhance the cytokine response evoked by other proinflammatory molecules, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), CpG-DNA and IL-1β, through the formation of complexes. Extracellular HMGB1 is abundant in arthritic joint tissue where it is suggested to promote inflammation as intra-articular injections of HMGB1 induce synovitis in mice and HMGB1 neutralizing therapy suppresses development of experimental arthritis. The aim of this study was to determine whether HMGB1 in complex with LPS, interleukin (IL)-1α or IL-1β has enhancing effects on the production of proinflammatory mediators by rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF) and osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (OASF). Furthermore, we examined the toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and IL-1RI requirement for the cytokine-enhancing effects of the investigated HMGB1-ligand complexes.
Synovial fibroblasts obtained from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) patients were stimulated with HMGB1 alone or in complex with LPS, IL-1α or IL-1β. Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) production was determined by enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISPOT) assessment. Levels of IL-10, IL-1-β, IL-6 and IL-8 were measured using Cytokine Bead Array and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 3 production was determined by ELISA.
Stimulation with HMGB1 in complex with LPS, IL-1α or IL-1β enhanced production of TNF, IL-6 and IL-8. HMGB1 in complex with IL-1β increased MMP production from both RASF and OASF. The cytokine production was inhibited by specific receptor blockade using detoxified LPS or IL-1 receptor antagonist, indicating that the synergistic effects were mediated through the partner ligand-reciprocal receptors TLR4 and IL-1RI, respectively.
HMGB1 in complex with LPS, IL-1α or IL-1β boosted proinflammatory cytokine- and MMP production in synovial fibroblasts from RA and OA patients. A mechanism for the pathogenic role of HMGB1 in arthritis could thus be through enhancement of inflammatory and destructive mechanisms induced by other proinflammatory mediators present in the arthritic joint.
PMCID: PMC3239379  PMID: 21871094
16.  Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor Promotes Differentiation and Maturation of Adult-born Neurons Through GABAergic Transmission 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in regulating adult neurogenesis in the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus; however, the mechanism underlying this regulation remains unclear. In this study, we found that Bdnf mRNA localized to distal dendrites of dentate gyrus granule cells isolated from wild-type mice, but not from Bdnfklox/klox mice where the long 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of Bdnf mRNA is truncated. KCl-induced membrane depolarization stimulated release of dendritic BDNF translated from long 3′ UTR Bdnf mRNA in cultured hippocampal neurons, but not from short 3′ UTR Bdnf mRNA. Bdnfklox/klox mice exhibited reduced expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (a GABA synthase), increased proliferation of progenitor cells, and impaired differentiation and maturation of newborn neurons in the SGZ. These deficits in adult neurogenesis were rescued with administration of phenobarbital, an enhancer of GABAA receptor activity. Furthermore, we observed similar neurogenesis deficits in mice where the receptor for BDNF, TrkB, was selectively abolished in parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic interneurons. Thus, our data suggest that locally synthesized BDNF in dendrites of granule cells promotes differentiation and maturation of progenitor cells in the SGZ by enhancing GABA release, at least in part, from parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic interneurons.
PMCID: PMC3519245  PMID: 23055503
17.  The CCL2/CCR2 Axis Enhances Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Expression in Human Synovial Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49999.
Chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), also known as monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), belongs to the CC chemokine family that is associated with the disease status and outcomes of osteoarthritis (OA). Here, we investigated the intracellular signaling pathways involved in CCL2-induced vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) expression in human OA synovial fibroblasts (OASFs).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Stimulation of OASFs with CCL2 induced VCAM-1 expression. CCL2-mediated VCAM-1 expression was attenuated by CCR2 inhibitor (RS102895), PKCδ inhibitor (rottlerin), p38MAPK inhibitor (SB203580), and AP-1 inhibitors (curcumin and tanshinone IIA). Stimulation of cells with CCL2 increased PKCδ and p38MAPK activation. Treatment of OASFs with CCL2 also increased the c-Jun phosphorylation and c-Jun binding to the AP-1 element on the VCAM-1 promoter. Moreover, CCL2-mediated CCR2, PKCδ, p38MAPK, and AP-1 pathway promoted the adhesion of monocytes to the OASFs monolayer.
Our results suggest that CCL2 increases VCAM-1 expression in human OASFs via the CCR2, PKCδ, p38MAPK, c-Jun, and AP-1 signaling pathway. The CCL2-induced VCAM-1 expression promoted monocytes adhesion to human OASFs.
PMCID: PMC3503714  PMID: 23185512
18.  Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes adaptive plasticity within the spinal cord and mediates the beneficial effects of controllable stimulation 
Neuroscience  2011;200C:74-90.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been characterized as a potent modulator of neural plasticity in both the brain and spinal cord. The present experiments use an in vivo model system to demonstrate that training with controllable stimulation increases spinal BDNF expression and engages a BDNF-dependent process that promotes adaptive plasticity.
Spinally transected rats administered legshock whenever one hindlimb is extended (controllable stimulation) exhibit a progressive increase in flexion duration. This simple form of response-outcome (instrumental) learning is not observed when shock is given independent of leg position (uncontrollable stimulation). Uncontrollable electrical stimulation also induces a lasting effect that impairs learning for up to 48 hrs. Training with controllable shock can counter the adverse consequences of uncontrollable stimulation, to both prevent and reverse the learning deficit. Here it is shown that the protective and restorative effect of instrumental training depends on BDNF.
Cellular assays showed that controllable stimulation increased BDNF mRNA expression and protein within the lumbar spinal cord. These changes were associated with an increase in the BDNF receptor TrkB protein within the dorsal horn. Evidence is then presented that these changes play a functional role in vivo. Application of a BDNF inhibitor (TrkB-IgG) blocked the protective effect of instrumental training. Direct (intrathecal) application of BDNF substituted for instrumental training to block both the induction and expression of the learning deficit. Uncontrollable stimulation also induced an increase in mechanical reactivity (allodynia) and this too was prevented by BDNF. TrkB-IgG blocked the restorative effect of instrumental training and intrathecal BDNF substituted for training to reverse the deficit. Taken together, these findings outline a critical role for BDNF in mediating the beneficial effects of controllable stimulation on spinal plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3249495  PMID: 22056599
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF); spinal cord; plasticity; instrumental learning
Neuroscience  2009;161(1):301-310.
Chemical-induced seizures up-regulated brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA expression. Intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of endogenous opioids preferentially activating μ opioid receptor (MOR) could also increase BDNF mRNA expression. The aim of this study was to determine to what extent i.c.v. administration of synthetic MOR-selective agonists in rats can modulate both seizure activity and up-regulation of BDNF mRNA expression. Effects and potencies of i.c.v. administration of morphine and [D-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4,Gly5-ol]-enkephalin (DAMGO), were directly investigated by scoring behavioral seizures and measuring BDNF mRNA expression. In addition, effects of the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone and antiepileptic drugs, diazepam, phenobarbital, and valproate, on i.c.v. MOR agonist-induced behavioral seizures and up-regulation of BDNF mRNA expression were determined. A single i.c.v. administration of morphine (10–100 μg) or DAMGO (0.15–1.5 μg) dose-dependently elicited behavioral seizures and increased BDNF mRNA expression in the widespread brain regions. However, subcutaneous administration of MOR agonists neither produced behavioral seizures nor increased BDNF mRNA expression. Pretreatment with naloxone 1 mg/kg significantly reduced behavioral seizure scores and the up-regulation of BDNF mRNA expression elicited by i.c.v. morphine or DAMGO. Similarly, diazepam 10 mg/kg and phenobarbital 40 mg/kg significantly blocked i.c.v. MOR agonist-induced actions. Pretreatment with valproate 300 mg/kg only attenuated behavioral seizures, but it did not affect morphine-induced increase of BDNF mRNA expression. This study provides supporting evidence that seizure activity plays an important role in the up-regulation of BDNF mRNA expression elicited by central MOR activation and that decreased inhibitory action of GABAergic system through the modulation on GABA receptor synaptic function by central MOR activation is involved in its regulation of BDNF mRNA expression.
PMCID: PMC2680449  PMID: 19303919
neurotrophins; opioids; behavioral seizures; in situ hybridization; hippocampus; frontal cortex
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) stimulates local dendritic mRNA translation and is involved in formation and consolidation of memory. CX614, one of the best studied positive AMPA receptor modulators (a.k.a. ampakines), increases BDNF mRNA and protein and facilitates LTP induction. Several other ampakines also improve performance in various behavioral and learning tasks. Since local dendritic protein synthesis has been implicated in LTP stabilization and in memory consolidation, this study investigated whether CX614 could influence synaptic plasticity by upregulating dendritic protein translation. CX614 treatment of primary neuronal cultures and acute hippocampal slices rapidly activated the translation machinery and increased local dendritic protein synthesis. CX614-induced activation of translation was blocked by K252a, CNQX, APV, and TTX, and was inhibited in the presence of an extracellular BDNF scavenger, TrkB-Fc. The acute effect of CX614 on translation was mediated by increased BDNF release as demonstrated with a BDNF scavenging assay using TrkB-Fc during CX614 treatment of cultured primary neurons and was blocked by nifedipine, ryanodine, and by lack of extracellular Ca++ in acute hippocampal slices. Finally, CX614, like BDNF, rapidly increased dendritic translation of an exogenous translation reporter. Together, our results demonstrate that positive modulation of AMPA receptors rapidly stimulates dendritic translation, an effect mediated by BDNF secretion and TrkB receptor activation. They also suggest that increased BDNF secretion and stimulation of local protein synthesis contribute to the effects of ampakines on synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2761758  PMID: 19587275
Ampakine; ARC; BDNF; dendrites; mTOR; translation
21.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Regulates TRPC3/6 Channels and Protects Against Myocardial Infarction in Rodents 
Background: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is associated with coronary artery diseases. However, its role and mechanism in myocardial infarction (MI) is not fully understood.
Methods: Wistar rat and Kunming mouse model of MI were induced by the ligation of left coronary artery. Blood samples were collected from MI rats and patients. Plasma BDNF level, protein expression of BDNF, tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) and its downstream transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC)3/6 channels were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot. Infarct size, cardiac function and cardiomyocyte apoptosis were measured after intra-myocardium injection with recombinant human BDNF. Protective role of BDNF against cardiomyocyte apoptosis was confirmed by BDNF scavenger TrkB-Fc. The regulation of TRPC3/6 channels by BDNF was validated by pretreating with TRPC blocker (2-Aminoethyl diphenylborinate, 2-APB) and TRPC3/6 siRNAs.
Results: Circulating BDNF was significantly enhanced in MI rats and patients. Protein expression of BDNF, TrkB and TRPC3/6 channels were upregulated in MI. 3 days post-MI, BDNF treatment markedly reduced the infarct size and serum lactate dehydrogenase activity. Meanwhile, echocardiography indicated that BDNF significantly improved cardiac function of MI mice. Furthermore, BDNF markedly inhibited cardiomyocyte apoptosis by upregulating Bcl-2 expression and downregulating caspase-3 expression and activity in ischemic myocardium. In neonatal rat ventricular myocytes, cell viability was dramatically increased by BDNF in hypoxia, which was restored by TrkB-Fc. Furthermore, protective role of BDNF against hypoxia-induced apoptosis was reversed by 2-APB and TRPC3/6 siRNAs.
Conclusion: BDNF/TrkB alleviated cardiac ischemic injury and inhibited cardiomyocytes apoptosis by regulating TRPC3/6 channels, which provides a novel potential therapeutic candidate for MI.
PMCID: PMC4400385  PMID: 25892961
Brain derived neurotrophic factor; Myocardial infarction; Transient receptor potential canonical channel; Apoptosis; TrkB-Fc
22.  Neurochemical Changes in the Mouse Hippocampus Underlying the Antidepressant Effect of Genetic Deletion of P2X7 Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66547.
Recent investigations have revealed that the genetic deletion of P2X7 receptors (P2rx7) results in an antidepressant phenotype in mice. However, the link between the deficiency of P2rx7 and changes in behavior has not yet been explored. In the present study, we studied the effect of genetic deletion of P2rx7 on neurochemical changes in the hippocampus that might underlie the antidepressant phenotype. P2X7 receptor deficient mice (P2rx7−/−) displayed decreased immobility in the tail suspension test (TST) and an attenuated anhedonia response in the sucrose preference test (SPT) following bacterial endotoxin (LPS) challenge. The attenuated anhedonia was reproduced through systemic treatments with P2rx7 antagonists. The activation of P2rx7 resulted in the concentration-dependent release of [3H]glutamate in P2rx7+/+ but not P2rx7−/− mice, and the NR2B subunit mRNA and protein was upregulated in the hippocampus of P2rx7−/− mice. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression was higher in saline but not LPS-treated P2rx7−/− mice; the P2rx7 antagonist Brilliant blue G elevated and the P2rx7 agonist benzoylbenzoyl ATP (BzATP) reduced BDNF level. This effect was dependent on the activation of NMDA and non-NMDA receptors but not on Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1,5). An increased 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation was also observed in the dentate gyrus derived from P2rx7−/− mice. Basal level of 5-HT was increased, whereas the 5HIAA/5-HT ratio was lower in the hippocampus of P2rx7−/− mice, which accompanied the increased uptake of [3H]5-HT and an elevated number of [3H]citalopram binding sites. The LPS-induced elevation of 5-HT level was absent in P2rx7−/− mice. In conclusion there are several potential mechanisms for the antidepressant phenotype of P2rx7−/− mice, such as the absence of P2rx7-mediated glutamate release, elevated basal BDNF production, enhanced neurogenesis and increased 5-HT bioavailability in the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC3689833  PMID: 23805233
23.  Disruption of rhythms of molecular clocks in primary synovial fibroblasts of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, role of IL-1β/TNF 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R122.
Circadian rhythms play an important role in the body and in single cells. Rhythms of molecular clocks have not been investigated in synovial fibroblasts (SF) of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study was initiated to fill this gap and to study effects of interleukin (IL)-1β/tumor necrosis factor (TNF) on rhythmicity in synovial fibroblasts of RA and OA patients.
The presence of BMAL-1, CLOCK, Period 1 and Period 2 proteins in synovial tissue was investigated by immunofluorescence. The presence of mRNA of molecular clocks was studied during 72 h by qPCR. Characteristics of rhythms were studied with time series analysis.
BMAL-1, CLOCK, Period 1 and Period 2 proteins were abundantly present in synovial tissue of OA, RA and controls. Receiving synovial tissue at different operation time points during the day (8:00 am to 4:00 pm) did not reveal a rhythm of BMAL-1 or Period 1 protein. In OASF and RASF, no typical rhythm curve of molecular clock mRNA was observed. Time series analysis identified a first peak between 2 and 18 hours after synchronization but a period was not detectable due to loss of rhythm. TNF inhibited mRNA of CLOCK, Period 1 and Period 2 in OASF, while IL-1β and TNF increased these factors in RASF. This was supported by dose-dependently increased levels in MH7A RA fibroblasts. In RASF, IL-1β and TNF shifted the first peak of BMAL-1 mRNA to later time points (8 h to 14 h).
Rhythmicity is not present in primary OASF and RASF, which is unexpected because fibroblasts usually demonstrate perfect rhythms during several days. This might lead to uncoupling of important cellular pathways.
PMCID: PMC3446503  PMID: 22621205
24.  Enhanced synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the lesioned peripheral nerve: different mechanisms are responsible for the regulation of BDNF and NGF mRNA 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1992;119(1):45-54.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are molecules which regulate the development and maintenance of specific functions in different populations of peripheral and central neurons, amongst them sensory neurons of neural crest and placode origin. Under physiological conditions NGF is synthesized by peripheral target tissues, whereas BDNF synthesis is highest in the CNS. This situation changes dramatically after lesion of peripheral nerves. As previously shown, there is a marked rapid increase in NGF mRNA in the nonneuronal cells of the damaged nerve. The prolonged elevation of NGF mRNA levels is related to the immigration of activated macrophages, interleukin-1 being the most essential mediator of this effect. Here we show that transsection of the rat sciatic nerve also leads to a very marked increase in BDNF mRNA, the final levels being even ten times higher than those of NGF mRNA. However, the time-course and spatial pattern of BDNF mRNA expression are distinctly different. There is a continuous slow increase of BDNF mRNA starting after day 3 post-lesion and reaching maximal levels 3-4 wk later. These distinct differences suggest different mechanisms of regulation of NGF and BDNF synthesis in non-neuronal cells of the nerve. This was substantiated by the demonstration of differential regulation of these mRNAs in organ culture of rat sciatic nerve and Schwann cell culture. Furthermore, using bioassays and specific antibodies we showed that cultured Schwann cells are a rich source of BDNF- and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF)- like neurotrophic activity in addition to NGF. Antisera raised against a BDNF-peptide demonstrated BDNF-immunoreactivity in pure cultured Schwann cells, but not in fibroblasts derived from sciatic nerve.
PMCID: PMC2289627  PMID: 1527172
25.  Prebiotic feeding elevates central brain derived neurotrophic factor, N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor subunits and d-serine☆ 
Neurochemistry International  2013;63(8):756-764.
•Prebiotic feeding elevated BDNF and NR1subunit mRNAs, in the rat hippocampus.•The GOS prebiotic increased cortical NR1, d-serine, and hippocampal NR2A subunits.•GOS feeding elevated plasma levels of the gut peptide PYY.•GOS plasma increased BDNF release from human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells.•BDNF secretion from cells by GOS plasma was blocked by PYY antisera.
The influence of the gut microbiota on brain chemistry has been convincingly demonstrated in rodents. In the absence of gut bacteria, the central expression of brain derived neurotropic factor, (BDNF), and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunits are reduced, whereas, oral probiotics increase brain BDNF, and impart significant anxiolytic effects. We tested whether prebiotic compounds, which increase intrinsic enteric microbiota, also affected brain BDNF and NMDARs. In addition, we examined whether plasma from prebiotic treated rats released BDNF from human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, to provide an initial indication of mechanism of action.
Rats were gavaged with fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) or water for five weeks, prior to measurements of brain BDNF, NMDAR subunits and amino acids associated with glutamate neurotransmission (glutamate, glutamine, and serine and alanine enantiomers). Prebiotics increased hippocampal BDNF and NR1 subunit expression relative to controls. The intake of GOS also increased hippocampal NR2A subunits, and frontal cortex NR1 and d-serine. Prebiotics did not alter glutamate, glutamine, l-serine, l-alanine or d-alanine concentrations in the brain, though GOSfeeding raised plasma d-alanine. Elevated levels of plasma peptide YY (PYY) after GOS intake was observed. Plasma from GOS rats increased the release of BDNF from SH-SY5Y cells, but not in the presence of PYY antisera. The addition of synthetic PYY to SH-SY5Y cell cultures, also elevated BDNF secretion.
We conclude that prebiotic-mediated proliferation of gut microbiota in rats, like probiotics, increases brain BDNF expression, possibly through the involvement of gut hormones. The effect of GOS on components of central NMDAR signalling was greater than FOS, and may reflect the proliferative potency of GOS on microbiota. Our data therefore, provide a sound basis to further investigate the utility of prebiotics in the maintenance of brain health and adjunctive treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3858812  PMID: 24140431
Bifidobacteria; Dentate gyrus; Glutamate; HPLC; Western blot; Amino acids

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