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author:("dula, Jozef")
1.  TGF-β1/Smads and miR-21 in Renal Fibrosis and Inflammation 
Mediators of Inflammation  2016;2016:8319283.
Renal fibrosis, irrespective of its etiology, is a final common stage of almost all chronic kidney diseases. Increased apoptosis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and inflammatory cell infiltration characterize the injured kidney. On the molecular level, transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1)-Smad3 signaling pathway plays a central role in fibrotic kidney disease. Recent findings indicate the prominent role of microRNAs, small noncoding RNA molecules that inhibit gene expression through the posttranscriptional repression of their target mRNAs, in different pathologic conditions, including renal pathophysiology. miR-21 was also shown to play a dynamic role in inflammatory responses and in accelerating injury responses to promote organ failure and fibrosis. Understanding the cellular and molecular bases of miR-21 involvement in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases, including inflammatory reaction, could be crucial for their early diagnosis. Moreover, the possibility of influencing miR-21 level by specific antagomirs may be considered as an approach for treatment of renal diseases.
PMCID: PMC5005604  PMID: 27610006
2.  Role of Nrf2/HO-1 system in development, oxidative stress response and diseases: an evolutionarily conserved mechanism 
The multifunctional regulator nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (Nrf2) is considered not only as a cytoprotective factor regulating the expression of genes coding for anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying proteins, but it is also a powerful modulator of species longevity. The vertebrate Nrf2 belongs to Cap ‘n’ Collar (Cnc) bZIP family of transcription factors and shares a high homology with SKN-1 from Caenorhabditis elegans or CncC found in Drosophila melanogaster. The major characteristics of Nrf2 are to some extent mimicked by Nrf2-dependent genes and their proteins including heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), which besides removing toxic heme, produces biliverdin, iron ions and carbon monoxide. HO-1 and their products exert beneficial effects through the protection against oxidative injury, regulation of apoptosis, modulation of inflammation as well as contribution to angiogenesis. On the other hand, the disturbances in the proper HO-1 level are associated with the pathogenesis of some age-dependent disorders, including neurodegeneration, cancer or macular degeneration. This review summarizes our knowledge about Nrf2 and HO-1 across different phyla suggesting their conservative role as stress-protective and anti-aging factors.
PMCID: PMC4967105  PMID: 27100828
Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1); Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1); Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2); Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species (ROS)
3.  Curcumin enhances the cytogenotoxic effect of etoposide in leukemia cells through induction of reactive oxygen species 
Curcumin may exert a more selective cytotoxic effect in tumor cells with elevated levels of free radicals. Here, we investigated whether curcumin can modulate etoposide action in myeloid leukemia cells and in normal cells of hematopoietic origin. HL-60 cell line, normal myeloid progenitor cluster of differentiation (CD)-34+ cells, and granulocytes were incubated for 4 or 24 hours at different concentrations of curcumin and/or etoposide. Brown Norway rats with acute myeloid leukemia (BNML) were used to prove the influence of curcumin on etoposide action in vivo. Rats were treated with curcumin for 23 days and etoposide was administered for the final 3 days of the experiment. Curcumin synergistically potentiated the cytotoxic effect of etoposide, and it intensified apoptosis and phosphorylation of the histone H2AX induced by this cytostatic drug in leukemic HL-60 cells. In contrast, curcumin did not significantly modify etoposide-induced cytotoxicity and H2AX phosphorylation in normal CD34+ cells and granulocytes. Curcumin modified the cytotoxic action of etoposide in HL-60 cells through intensification of free radical production because preincubation with N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) significantly reduced the cytotoxic effect of curcumin itself and a combination of two compounds. In contrast, NAC did not decrease the cytotoxic effect of etoposide. Thus, oxidative stress plays a greater role in the cytotoxic effect of curcumin than that of etoposide in HL-60 cells. In vitro results were confirmed in a BNML model. Pretreatment with curcumin enhanced the antileukemic activity of etoposide in BNML rats (1.57-fold tumor reduction versus etoposide alone; P<0.05) and induced apoptosis of BNML cells more efficiently than etoposide alone (1.54-fold change versus etoposide alone; P<0.05), but this treatment protected nonleukemic B-cells from apoptosis. Thus, curcumin can increase the antileukemic effect of etoposide through reactive oxygen species in sensitive myeloid leukemia cells, and it is harmless to normal human cells.
PMCID: PMC4745860  PMID: 26893544
acute myeloid leukemia; curcumin; etoposide; ROS; γ-H2AX; apoptosis
4.  The role of oxidative stress in skeletal muscle injury and regeneration: focus on antioxidant enzymes 
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated in skeletal muscle both during the rest and contractile activity. Myogenic cells are equipped with antioxidant enzymes, like superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase and heme oxygenase-1. These enzymes not only neutralise excessive ROS, but also affect myogenic regeneration at several stages: influence post-injury inflammatory reaction, enhance viability and proliferation of muscle satellite cells and myoblasts and affect their differentiation. Finally, antioxidant enzymes regulate also processes accompanying muscle regeneration—induce angiogenesis and reduce fibrosis. Elevated ROS production was also observed in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a disease characterised by degeneration of muscle tissue and therefore—increased rate of myogenic regeneration. Antioxidant enzymes are consequently considered as target for therapies counteracting dystrophic symptoms. In this review we present current knowledge regarding the role of oxidative stress and systems of enzymatic antioxidant defence in muscular regeneration after both acute injury and persistent muscular degeneration.
PMCID: PMC4762917  PMID: 26728750
Reactive oxygen spices; Muscle regeneration; Superoxide dismutase; Catalase; Glutathione peroxidase; Heme oxygenase-1
5.  The Role of miR-378a in Metabolism, Angiogenesis, and Muscle Biology 
MicroRNA-378a (miR-378a, previously known as miR-378) is one of the small noncoding RNA molecules able to regulate gene expression at posttranscriptional level. Its two mature strands, miR-378a-3p and miR-378a-5p, originate from the first intron of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 beta (ppargc1b) gene encoding PGC-1β. Embedding in the sequence of this transcriptional regulator of oxidative energy metabolism implies involvement of miR-378a in metabolic pathways, mitochondrial energy homeostasis, and related biological processes such as muscle development, differentiation, and regeneration. On the other hand, modulating the expression of proangiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor, angiopoietin-1, or interleukin-8, influencing inflammatory reaction, and affecting tumor suppressors, such as SuFu and Fus-1, miR-378a is considered as a part of an angiogenic network in tumors. In the latter, miR-378a can evoke broader actions by enhancing cell survival, reducing apoptosis, and promoting cell migration and invasion. This review describes the current knowledge on miR-378a linking oxidative/lipid metabolism, muscle biology, and blood vessel formation.
PMCID: PMC4709675  PMID: 26839547
6.  Spheroid-plug model as a tool to study tumor development, angiogenesis, and heterogeneity in vivo 
Tumour Biology  2015;37(2):2481-2496.
Subcutaneous injection of the tumor cell suspension is a simple and commonly used tool for studying tumor development in vivo. However, subcutaneous models poorly resemble tumor complexity due to the fast growth not reflecting the natural course. Here, we describe an application of the new spheroid-plug model to combine the simplicity of subcutaneous injection with improved resemblance to natural tumor progression. Spheroid-plug model relies on in vitro formation of tumor spheroids, followed by injection of single tumor spheroid subcutaneously in Matrigel matrix. In spheroid-plug model, tumors grow slower in comparison to tumors formed by injection of cell suspension as assessed by 3D ultrasonography (USG) and in vivo bioluminescence measurements. The slower tumor growth rate in spheroid-plug model is accompanied by reduced necrosis. The spheroid-plug model ensures increased and more stable vascularization of tumor than classical subcutaneous tumor model as demonstrated by 3D USG Power Doppler examination. Flow cytometry analysis showed that tumors formed from spheroids have enhanced infiltration of endothelial cells as well as hematopoietic and progenitor cells with stem cell phenotype (c-Kit+ and Sca-1+). They also contain more tumor cells expressing cancer stem cell marker CXCR4. Here, we show that spheroid-plug model allows investigating efficiency of anticancer drugs. Treatment of spheroid-plug tumors with known antiangiogenic agent axitinib decreased their size and viability. The antiangiogenic activity of axitinib was higher in spheroid-plug model than in classical model. Our results indicate that spheroid-plug model imitates natural tumor growth and can become a valuable tool for cancer research.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13277-015-4065-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4842223  PMID: 26385771
Cancer stem cells; Necrosis; Tumor infiltration; Tumor vascularization; B16 melanoma; Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC); Tumor complexity
8.  Myoblast-conditioned media improve regeneration and revascularization of ischemic muscles in diabetic mice 
Diabetes is associated with reduced expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a heme-degrading enzyme with cytoprotective and proangiogenic properties. In myoblasts and muscle satellite cells HO-1 improves survival, proliferation and production of proangiogenic growth factors. Induction of HO-1 in injured tissues facilitates neovascularization, the process impaired in diabetes. We aimed to examine whether conditioned media from the HO-1 overexpressing myoblast cell line can improve a blood-flow recovery in ischemic muscles of diabetic mice.
Analysis of myogenic markers was performed at the mRNA level in primary muscle satellite cells, isolated by a pre-plate technique from diabetic db/db and normoglycemic wild-type mice, and then cultured under growth or differentiation conditions. Hind limb ischemia was performed by femoral artery ligation in db/db mice and blood recovery was monitored by laser Doppler measurements. Mice were treated with a single intramuscular injection of conditioned media harvested from wild-type C2C12 myoblast cell line, C2C12 cells stably transduced with HO-1 cDNA, or with unconditioned media.
Expression of HO-1 was lower in muscle satellite cells isolated from muscles of diabetic db/db mice when compared to their wild-type counterparts, what was accompanied by increased levels of Myf5 or CXCR4, and decreased Mef2 or Pax7. Such cells also displayed diminished differentiation potential when cultured in vitro, as shown by less effective formation of myotubes and reduced expression of myogenic markers (myogenic differentiation antigen - myoD, myogenin and myosin). Blood flow recovery after induction of severe hind limb ischemia was delayed in db/db mice compared to that in normoglycemic individuals. To improve muscle regeneration after ischemia, conditioned media collected from differentiating C2C12 cells (control and HO-1 overexpressing) were injected into hind limbs of diabetic mice. Analysis of blood flow revealed that media from HO-1 overexpressing cells accelerated blood-flow recovery, while immunohistochemical staining assessment of vessel density in injected muscle confirmed increased angiogenesis. The effect might be mediated by stromal-cell derived factor-1α proangiogenic factor, as its secretion is elevated in HO-1 overexpressing cells.
In conclusion, paracrine stimulation of angiogenesis in ischemic skeletal muscle using conditioned media may be a safe approach exploiting protective and proangiogenic properties of HO-1 in diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4431532  PMID: 25889676
9.  Role of Heme Oxygenase-1 in Postnatal Differentiation of Stem Cells: A Possible Cross-Talk with MicroRNAs 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(11):1827-1850.
Significance: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) converts heme to biliverdin, carbon monoxide, and ferrous ions, but its cellular functions are far beyond heme metabolism. HO-1 via heme removal and degradation products acts as a cytoprotective, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and proangiogenic protein, regulating also a cell cycle. Additionally, HO-1 can translocate to nucleus and regulate transcription factors, so it can also act independently of enzymatic function. Recent Advances: Recently, a body of evidence has emerged indicating a role for HO-1 in postnatal differentiation of stem and progenitor cells. Maturation of satellite cells, skeletal myoblasts, adipocytes, and osteoclasts is inhibited by HO-1, whereas neurogenic differentiation and formation of cardiomyocytes perhaps can be enhanced. Moreover, HO-1 influences a lineage commitment in pluripotent stem cells and maturation of hematopoietic cells. It may play a role in development of osteoblasts, but descriptions of its exact effects are inconsistent. Critical Issues: In this review we discuss a role of HO-1 in cell differentiation, and possible HO-1-dependent signal transduction pathways. Among the potential mediators, we focused on microRNA (miRNA). These small, noncoding RNAs are critical for cell differentiation. Recently we have found that HO-1 not only influences expression of specific miRNAs but also regulates miRNA processing enzymes. Future Directions: It seems that interplay between HO-1 and miRNAs may be important in regulating fates of stem and progenitor cells and needs further intensive studies. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1827–1850.
PMCID: PMC3961774  PMID: 24053682
10.  Novel Faces of Heme Oxygenase-1: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Potentials 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(11):1673-1676.
Not only double, Janus face, but numerous appearances characterize heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an inducible enzyme which main role is to degrade heme. Recently, the noncanonical functions of HO-1 have particularly attracted researchers' attention. Indeed, understanding the enzyme-independent activities of HO-1 can provide additional chances for translational application of research on HO-1. In this Forum, eight reviews and two original articles describe a plethora of mechanisms in which this pleiotropic protein is involved. Further understanding of HO-1 functions is of particular significance for elucidating the pathology of various human diseases and providing rationale for novel therapies. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1673–1676.
PMCID: PMC3961789  PMID: 24341409
11.  Nrf2 Regulates Angiogenesis: Effect on Endothelial Cells, Bone Marrow-Derived Proangiogenic Cells and Hind Limb Ischemia 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(11):1693-1708.
Aims: Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a key cytoprotective transcription factor, regulates also proangiogenic mediators, interleukin-8 and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). However, hitherto its role in blood vessel formation was modestly examined. Particularly, although Nrf2 was shown to affect hematopoietic stem cells, it was not tested in bone marrow-derived proangiogenic cells (PACs). Here we investigated angiogenic properties of Nrf2 in PACs, endothelial cells, and inflammation-related revascularization. Results: Treatment of endothelial cells with angiogenic cytokines increased nuclear localization of Nrf2 and induced expression of HO-1. Nrf2 activation stimulated a tube network formation, while its inhibition decreased angiogenic response of human endothelial cells, the latter effect reversed by overexpression of HO-1. Moreover, lack of Nrf2 attenuated survival, proliferation, migration, and angiogenic potential of murine PACs and affected angiogenic transcriptome in vitro. Additionally, angiogenic capacity of PAC Nrf2−/− in in vivo Matrigel assay and PAC mobilization in response to hind limb ischemia of Nrf2−/− mice were impaired. Despite that, restoration of blood flow in Nrf2-deficient ischemic muscles was better and accompanied by increased oxidative stress and inflammatory response. Accordingly, the anti-inflammatory agent etodolac tended to diminish blood flow in the Nrf2−/− mice. Innovation: Identification of a novel role of Nrf2 in angiogenic signaling of endothelial cells and PACs. Conclusion: Nrf2 contributes to angiogenic potential of both endothelial cells and PACs; however, its deficiency increases muscle blood flow under tissue ischemia. This might suggest a proangiogenic role of inflammation in the absence of Nrf2 in vivo, concomitantly undermining the role of PACs in such conditions. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1693–1708.
PMCID: PMC3961841  PMID: 24053644
12.  Clock and clock-controlled genes are differently expressed in the retina, lamina and in selected cells of the visual system of Drosophila melanogaster 
The retina and the first optic neuropil (lamina) of Drosophila show circadian rhythms in various processes. To learn about the regulation of circadian rhythms in the retina and lamina and in two cell types, glial and the lamina L2 interneurons, we examined expression of the following clock genes; per, tim, clk, and cry and clock-controlled genes (ccgs); Atpα, nrv2, brp, Pdfr. We found that the expression of gene studied is specific for the retina and lamina. The rhythms of per and tim expression in the retina and glial cells are similar to that observed in the whole head and in clock neurons, while they differ in the lamina and L2 cells. In both the retina and lamina, CRY seems to be a repressor of clk expression. In L2 interneurons per expression is not cyclic indicating the other function of PER in those cells than in the circadian molecular clock. In contrast to per and tim, the pattern of clk and cry expression is similar in both the retina and lamina. The retina holds the autonomous oscillators but the expression of cry and ccgs, Atpα and nrv2, is also regulated by inputs from the pacemaker transmitted by PDF and ITP neuropeptides.
PMCID: PMC4569741  PMID: 26441524
circadian rhythms; photoreceptors; visual interneurons; glial cells; BRP synaptic protein; sodium pump; PDF receptors
13.  PPARγ activation but not PPARγ haplodeficiency affects proangiogenic potential of endothelial cells and bone marrow-derived progenitors 
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) agonists, which have been used as insulin sensitizers in diabetic patients, may improve functions of endothelial cells (ECs). We investigated the effect of PPARγ on angiogenic activities of murine ECs and bone marrow-derived proangiogenic cells (PACs).
PACs were isolated from bone marrow of 10–12 weeks old, wild type, db/db and PPARγ heterozygous animals. Cells were cultured on fibronectin and gelatin coated dishes in EGM-2MV medium. For in vitro stimulations, rosiglitazone (10 μmol/L) or GW9662 (10 μmol/L) were added to 80% confluent cell cultures for 24 hours. Angiogenic potential of PACs and ECs was tested in vitro and in vivo in wound healing assay and hind limb ischemia model.
ECs and PACs isolated from diabetic db/db mice displayed a reduced angiogenic potential in ex vivo and in vitro assays, the effect partially rescued by incubation of cells with rosiglitazone (PPARγ activator). Correction of diabetes by administration of rosiglitazone in vivo did not improve angiogenic potential of isolated PACs or ECs. In a hind limb ischemia model we demonstrated that local injection of conditioned media harvested from wild type PACs improved the blood flow restoration in db/db mice, confirming the importance of paracrine action of the bone marrow-derived cells.
Transcriptome analysis showed an upregulation of prooxidative and proinflammatory pathways, and downregulation of several proangiogenic genes in db/db PACs. Interestingly, db/db PACs had also a decreased level of PPARγ and changed expression of PPARγ-regulated genes. Using normoglycemic PPARγ+/− mice we demonstrated that reduced expression of PPARγ does not influence neovascularization either in wound healing or in hind limb ischemia models.
In summary, activation of PPARγ by rosiglitazone improves angiogenic potential of diabetic ECs and PACs, but decreased expression of PPARγ in diabetes does not impair angiogenesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0150-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4233236  PMID: 25361524
Diabetes; PPARγ; Therapeutic angiogenesis; Endothelial progenitor cells
14.  Differential Inflammatory MicroRNA and Cytokine Expression in Pulmonary Sarcoidosis 
Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disease of unknown etiology. The disease has an important inflammatory and immune component; however, its immunopathogenesis is not completely understood. Recently, the role of microRNAs (miRNAs), the small non-coding RNAs, has attracted attention as both being involved in pathogenesis and serving as disease markers. Accordingly, changes in the expression of some miRNAs have been also associated with different autoimmune pathologies. However, not much is known about the role of miRNAs in sarcoidosis. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the level of expression of selected miRNAs in healthy individuals and patients with sarcoidosis. We detected significantly increased level of miR-34a in peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from sarcoidosis patients. Moreover, significantly up-regulated levels of interferon (IFN)-γ, IFN-γ inducible protein (IP-10) and vascular endothelial growth factor were detected in sera of patients when compared to healthy subjects. Our results add to a known inflammatory component in sarcoidosis. Changes in the levels of miR-34a may suggest its involvement in the pathology of this disease.
PMCID: PMC4359280  PMID: 25366387
Sarcoidosis; miRNA; miR-34a; IFN-γ; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Inflammation
15.  Interplay Between Heme Oxygenase-1 and miR-378 Affects Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma Growth, Vascularization, and Metastasis 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;19(7):644-660.
Aims: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1, HMOX1) can prevent tumor initiation; while in various tumors, it has been demonstrated to promote growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Here, we investigated whether HMOX1 can modulate microRNAs (miRNAs) and regulate human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) development. Results: Stable HMOX1 overexpression in NSCLC NCI-H292 cells up-regulated tumor-suppressive miRNAs, whereas it significantly diminished the expression of oncomirs and angiomirs. The most potently down-regulated was miR-378. HMOX1 also up-regulated p53, down-regulated angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) and mucin-5AC (MUC5AC), reduced proliferation, migration, and diminished angiogenic potential. Carbon monoxide was a mediator of HMOX1 effects on proliferation, migration, and miR-378 expression. In contrast, stable miR-378 overexpression decreased HMOX1 and p53; while enhanced expression of MUC5AC, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), interleukin-8 (IL-8), and Ang-1, and consequently increased proliferation, migration, and stimulation of endothelial cells. Adenoviral delivery of HMOX1 reversed miR-378 effect on the proliferation and migration of cancer cells. In vivo, HMOX1 overexpressing tumors were smaller, less vascularized and oxygenated, and less metastatic. Overexpression of miR-378 exerted opposite effects. Accordingly, in patients with NSCLC, HMOX1 expression was lower in metastases to lymph nodes than in primary tumors. Innovation and Conclusion: In vitro and in vivo data indicate that the interplay between HMOX1 and miR-378 significantly modulates NSCLC progression and angiogenesis, suggesting miR-378 as a new therapeutic target. Rebound Track: This work was rejected during standard peer review and rescued by Rebound Peer Review (Antioxid Redox Signal 16, 293–296, 2012) with the following serving as open reviewers: James F. George, Mahin D. Maines, Justin C. Mason, and Yasufumi Sato. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 19, 644–660.
PMCID: PMC3740397  PMID: 23617628
16.  Hypoxia-regulated over expression of soluble VEGFR2 controls angiogenesis and inhibits tumor growth 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2013;13(1):165-178.
Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are found at high levels in hypoxic tumors. As major components directing pathologic neo-vascularisation, they regulate stromal reactions. Consequently, novel strategies, targeting and inhibiting VEGF over-production upon hypoxia offer considerable potential for modern anti-cancer therapies controlling rather than destroying tumor angiogenesis.
Here we report the design of a vector expressing the soluble form of VEGF receptor-2 (sVEGFR2) driven by a hypoxia responsive element (HRE)-regulated promoter. To enable in vivo imaging by infrared visualization, mCherry and IFP1.4 coding sequences were built into the vector. Plasmid construction was validated through transfection into embryonic human kidney HEK293 and murine B16F10 melanoma cells. sVEGFR2 was expressed in hypoxic conditions only, confirming that the gene was regulated by the HRE-promoter.
sVEGFR2 was found to bind efficiently and specifically to murine and human VEGF-A, reducing the growth of tumor and endothelial cells as well as impacting angiogenesis in vitro. The hypoxia-conditioned sVEGFR2 expression was shown to be functional in vivo: tumor angiogenesis was inhibited and, on stable transfection of B16F10 melanoma cells, tumor growth was reduced. Enhanced expression of sVEGFR2 was accompanied by a modulation in levels of VEGF-A. The resulting balance reflected the effect on tumor growth and on the control of angiogenesis. A concomitant increase of intra-tumor oxygen tension also suggested an influence on vessel normalization.
The possibility to express an angiogenesis regulator as sVEGFR2, in a hypoxia-conditioned manner, significantly opens new strategies for tumor vessel-controlled normalization and the novel design of adjuvants for combined cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3893111  PMID: 24170768
soluble VEGFR-2; hypoxia conditioning; tumor angiogenesis; near infrared imaging
17.  Regulation and Novel Action of Thymidine Phosphorylase in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Crosstalk with Nrf2 and HO-1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97070.
Proangiogenic enzyme thymidine phosphorylase (TP) is a promising target for anticancer therapy, yet its action in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is not fully understood. To elucidate its role in NSCLC tumor growth, NCI-H292 lung mucoepidermoid carcinoma cells and endothelial cells were engineered to overexpress TP by viral vector transduction. NSCLC cells with altered expression of transcription factor Nrf2 or its target gene heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were used to study the regulation of TP and the findings from pre-clinical models were related to gene expression data from clinical NSCLC specimens. Overexpression of Nrf2 or HO-1 resulted in upregulation of TP in NCI-H292 cells, an effect mimicked by treatment with an antioxidant N-acetylcysteine and partially reversed by HO-1 knockdown. Overexpression of TP attenuated cell proliferation and migration in vitro, but simultaneously enhanced angiogenic potential of cancer cells supplemented with thymidine. The latter was also observed for SK-MES-1 squamous cell carcinoma and NCI-H460 large cell carcinoma cells. TP-overexpressing NCI-H292 tumors in vivo exhibited better oxygenation and higher expression of IL-8, IL-1β and IL-6. TP overexpression in endothelial cells augmented their angiogenic properties which was associated with enhanced generation of HO-1 and VEGF. Correlation of TP with the expression of HO-1 and inflammatory cytokines was confirmed in clinical samples of NSCLC. Altogether, the increased expression of IL-1β and IL-6 together with proangiogenic effects of TP-expressing NSCLC on endothelium can contribute to tumor growth, implying TP as a target for antiangiogenesis in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4018251  PMID: 24819505
18.  Heme Oxygenase-1 Is Required for Angiogenic Function of Bone Marrow-Derived Progenitor Cells: Role in Therapeutic Revascularization 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(11):1677-1692.
Aims: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a cytoprotective enzyme that can be down-regulated in diabetes. Its importance for mature endothelium has been described, but its role in proangiogenic progenitors is not well known. We investigated the effect of HO-1 on the angiogenic potential of bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) and on blood flow recovery in ischemic muscle of diabetic mice. Results: Lack of HO-1 decreased the number of endothelial progenitor cells (Lin−CD45−cKit-Sca-1+VEGFR-2+) in murine bone marrow, and inhibited the angiogenic potential of cultured BMDCs, affecting their survival under oxidative stress, proliferation, migration, formation of capillaries, and paracrine proangiogenic potential. Transcriptome analysis of HO-1−/− BMDCs revealed the attenuated up-regulation of proangiogenic genes in response to hypoxia. Heterozygous HO-1+/− diabetic mice subjected to hind limb ischemia exhibited reduced local expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placental growth factor (PlGF), stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and CXCR-4. This was accompanied by impaired revascularization of ischemic muscle, despite a strong mobilization of bone marrow-derived proangiogenic progenitors (Sca-1+CXCR-4+) into peripheral blood. Blood flow recovery could be rescued by local injections of conditioned media harvested from BMDCs, but not by an injection of cultured BMDCs. Innovation: This is the first report showing that HO-1 haploinsufficiency impairs tissue revascularization in diabetes and that proangiogenic in situ response, not progenitor cell mobilization, is important for blood flow recovery. Conclusions: HO-1 is necessary for a proper proangiogenic function of BMDCs. A low level of HO-1 in hyperglycemic mice decreases restoration of perfusion in ischemic muscle, which can be rescued by a local injection of conditioned media from cultured BMDCs. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1677–1692.
PMCID: PMC3961799  PMID: 24206054
19.  Arteriogenic therapy based on simultaneous delivery of VEGF-A and FGF4 genes improves the recovery from acute limb ischemia 
Vascular Cell  2013;5:13.
Gene therapy stimulating the growth of blood vessels is considered for the treatment of peripheral and myocardial ischemia. Here we aimed to achieve angiogenic synergism between vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A, VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) in murine normoperfused and ischemic limb muscles.
Adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs) carrying β-galactosidase gene (AAV-LacZ), VEGF-A (AAV-VEGF-A) or two angiogenic genes (AAV-FGF4-IRES-VEGF-A) were injected into the normo-perfused adductor muscles of C57Bl/6 mice. Moreover, in a different experiment, mice were subjected to unilateral hindlimb ischemia by femoral artery ligation followed by intramuscular injections of AAV-LacZ, AAV-VEGF-A or AAV-FGF4-IRES-VEGF-A below the site of ligation. Post-ischemic blood flow recovery was assessed sequentially by color laser Doppler. Mice were monitored for 28 days.
VEGF-A delivered alone (AAV-VEGF-A) or in combination with FGF4 (AAV-FGF4-IRES-VEGF-A) increased the number of capillaries in normo-perfused hindlimbs when compared to AAV-LacZ. Simultaneous overexpression of both agents (VEGF-A and FGF4) stimulated the capillary wall remodeling in the non-ischemic model. Moreover, AAV-FGF4-IRES-VEGF-A faster restored the post-ischemic foot blood flow and decreased the incidence of toe necrosis in comparison to AAV-LacZ.
Synergy between VEGF-A and FGF4 to produce stable and functional blood vessels may be considered a promising option in cardiovascular gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC3703285  PMID: 23816205
AAV; Angiogenesis; Arteriogenesis; FGF4; VEGF-A
20.  Murine Bone Marrow Lin−Sca-1+CD45− Very Small Embryonic-Like (VSEL) Cells Are Heterogeneous Population Lacking Oct-4A Expression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63329.
Murine very small embryonic-like (VSEL) cells, defined by the Lin−Sca-1+CD45− phenotype and small size, were described as pluripotent cells and proposed to be the most primitive hematopoietic precursors in adult bone marrow. Although their isolation and potential application rely entirely on flow cytometry, the immunophenotype of VSELs has not been extensively characterized. Our aim was to analyze the possible heterogeneity of Lin−Sca+CD45− population and investigate the extent to which VSELs characteristics may overlap with that of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). The study evidenced that murine Lin−Sca-1+CD45− population was heterogeneous in terms of c-Kit and KDR expression. Accordingly, the c-Kit+KDR−, c-Kit−KDR+, and c-Kit−KDR− subpopulations could be distinguished, while c-Kit+KDR+ events were very rare. The c-Kit+KDR− subset contained almost solely small cells, meeting the size criterion of VSELs, in contrast to relatively bigger c-Kit−KDR+ cells. The c-Kit−KDR−FSClow subset was highly enriched in Annexin V-positive, apoptotic cells, hence omitted from further analysis. Importantly, using qRT-PCR, we evidenced lack of Oct-4A and Oct-4B mRNA expression either in whole adult murine bone marrow or in the sorted of Lin−Sca-1+CD45−FSClow population, even by single-cell qRT-PCR. We also found that the Lin−Sca-1+CD45−c-Kit+ subset did not exhibit hematopoietic potential in a single cell-derived colony in vitro assay, although it comprised the Sca-1+c-Kit+Lin− (SKL) CD34−CD45−CD105+ cells, expressing particular HSC markers. Co-culture of Lin−Sca-1+CD45−FSClow with OP9 cells did not induce hematopoietic potential. Further investigation revealed that SKL CD45−CD105+ subset consisted of early apoptotic cells with fragmented chromatin, and could be contaminated with nuclei expelled from erythroblasts. Concluding, murine bone marrow Lin−Sca-1+CD45−FSClow cells are heterogeneous population, which do not express the pluripotency marker Oct-4A. Despite expression of some hematopoietic markers by a Lin−Sca-1+CD45−c-Kit+KDR− subset of VSELs, they do not display hematopoietic potential in a clonogenic assay and are enriched in early apoptotic cells.
PMCID: PMC3656957  PMID: 23696815
21.  Stable tumor vessel normalization with pO2 increase and endothelial PTEN activation by inositol trispyrophosphate brings novel tumor treatment 
Tumor hypoxia is a characteristic of cancer cell growth and invasion, promoting angiogenesis, which facilitates metastasis. Oxygen delivery remains impaired because tumor vessels are anarchic and leaky, contributing to tumor cell dissemination. Counteracting hypoxia by normalizing tumor vessels in order to improve drug and radio therapy efficacy and avoid cancer stem-like cell selection is a highly challenging issue. We show here that inositol trispyrophosphate (ITPP) treatment stably increases oxygen tension and blood flow in melanoma and breast cancer syngeneic models. It suppresses hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) and proangiogenic/glycolysis genes and proteins cascade. It selectively activates the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) in vitro and in vivo at the endothelial cell (EC) level thus inhibiting PI3K and reducing tumor AKT phosphorylation. These mechanisms normalize tumor vessels by EC reorganization, maturation, pericytes attraction, and lowering progenitor cells recruitment in the tumor. It strongly reduces vascular leakage, tumor growth, drug resistance, and metastasis. ITPP treatment avoids cancer stem-like cell selection, multidrug resistance (MDR) activation and efficiently enhances chemotherapeutic drugs activity. These data show that counteracting tumor hypoxia by stably restoring healthy vasculature is achieved by ITPP treatment, which opens new therapeutic options overcoming hypoxia-related limitations of antiangiogenesis-restricted therapies. By achieving long-term vessels normalization, ITPP should provide the adjuvant treatment required in order to overcome the subtle definition of therapeutic windows for in vivo treatments aimed by the current strategies against angiogenesis-dependent tumors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00109-013-0992-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3695680  PMID: 23471434
Angiogenesis; Normalization; Oxygen; PTEN; Tumor hypoxia
22.  Heme Oxygenase-1 Inhibits Myoblast Differentiation by Targeting Myomirs 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2012;16(2):113-127.
Heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX1) is a cytoprotective enzyme degrading heme to biliverdin, iron ions, and carbon monoxide, whose expression is induced in response to oxidative stress. Its overexpression has been suggested as a strategy improving survival of transplanted muscle precursors. Results: Here we demonstrated that HMOX1 inhibits differentiation of myoblasts and modulates miRNA processing: downregulates Lin28 and DGCR8, lowers the total pool of cellular miRNAs, and specifically blocks induction of myomirs. Genetic or pharmacological activation of HMOX1 in C2C12 cells reduces the abundance of miR-1, miR-133a, miR-133b, and miR-206, which is accompanied by augmented production of SDF-1 and miR-146a, decreased expression of MyoD, myogenin, and myosin, and disturbed formation of myotubes. Similar relationships between HMOX1 and myomirs were demonstrated in murine primary satellite cells isolated from skeletal muscles of HMOX1+/+, HMOX1+/−, and HMOX1−/− mice or in human rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines. Inhibition of myogenic development is independent of antioxidative properties of HMOX1. Instead it is mediated by CO-dependent inhibition of c/EBPδ binding to myoD promoter, can be imitated by SDF-1, and partially reversed by enforced expression of miR-133b and miR-206. Control C2C12 myoblasts injected to gastrocnemius muscles of NOD-SCID mice contribute to formation of muscle fibers. In contrast, HMOX1 overexpressing C2C12 myoblasts form fast growing, hyperplastic tumors, infiltrating the surrounding tissues, and disseminating to the lungs. Innovation: We evidenced for the first time that HMOX1 inhibits differentiation of myoblasts, affects the miRNA processing enzymes, and modulates the miRNA transcriptome. Conclusion: HMOX1 improves the survival of myoblasts, but concurrently through regulation of myomirs, may act similarly to oncogenes, increasing the risk of hyperplastic growth of myogenic precursors. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 16, 113–127.
PMCID: PMC3222100  PMID: 21827279
23.  Heme Oxygenase-1 Regulates the Progression of K/BxN Serum Transfer Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52435.
Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is induced in many cell types as a defense mechanism against stress. We have investigated the possible role of endogenous HO-1 in the effector phase of arthritis using the K/BxN serum transfer model of arthritis in HO-1 heterozygous and homozygous knock-out mice.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Arthritis was induced in C57/Black-6 xFVB (HO-1+/+, HO-1+/− and HO-1−/−) mice by intraperitoneal injection of 150 µl serum from arthritic K/BxN mice at days 0 and 2. Blood was collected and animals were sacrificed at day 10. Histological analysis was performed in ankle sections. The levels of inflammatory mediators were measured in serum and paw homogenates by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or Multiplex technology. The incidence of arthritis was higher in HO-1+/− and HO-1−/− groups compared with HO-1+/+. The inflammatory response was aggravated in HO-1+/− mice as shown by arthritic score and the migration of inflammatory cells that could be related to the enhancement of CXCL-1 production. In addition, the HO-1+/− group showed proteoglycan depletion significantly higher than HO-1+/+ mice. Serum levels of matrix metalloproteinase-3, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, E-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 were increased in arthritic HO-1−/− mice, whereas vascular endothelial growth factor and some cytokines such as interferon-γ showed a reduction compared to HO-1+/+ or HO-1+/− mice. In addition, down-regulated gene expression of ferritin, glutathione S-reductase A1 and superoxide dismutase-2 was observed in the livers of arthritic HO-1+/− animals.
Endogenous HO-1 regulates the production of systemic and local inflammatory mediators and plays a protective role in K/BxN serum transfer arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3527514  PMID: 23285041
24.  Targeting Nrf2-Mediated Gene Transcription by Triterpenoids and Their Derivatives 
Biomolecules & Therapeutics  2012;20(6):499-505.
Chemoprevention represents a strategy designed to protect cells or tissues against various carcinogens and carcinogenic metabolites derived from exogenous or endogenous sources. Recent studies indicate that plant-derived triterpenoids, like oleanolic acid, may exert cytoprotective functions via regulation of the activity of different transcription factors. The chemopreventive effects may be mediated through induction of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) transcription factor. Activation of Nrf2 by triterpenoids induces the expression of phase 2 detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes such as NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) - proteins which can protect cells or tissues against various toxic metabolites. On the other hand, inhibition of other transcription factors, like NF-κB leads to the decrease in the pro-inflammatory gene expression. Moreover, the modulation of microRNAs activity may constitute a new mechanism responsible for valuable effects of triterpenoids. Recently, based on the structure of naturally occurring triterpenoids and with involvement of bioinformatics and computational chemistry, many synthetic analogs with improved biological properties have been obtained. Data from in vitro and in vivo experiments strongly suggest synthetic derivatives as promising candidates in the chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3762293  PMID: 24009841
Anti-oxidant response; Betulin; Chemoprevention; Oleanolic acid; Triterpenoids
25.  Pre-emptive hypoxia-regulated HO-1 gene therapy improves post-ischaemic limb perfusion and tissue regeneration in mice 
Cardiovascular Research  2012;97(1):115-124.
Haem oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a haem-degrading enzyme that generates carbon monoxide, bilirubin, and iron ions. Through these compounds, HO-1 mitigates cellular injury by exerting antioxidant, anti-apoptotic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Here, we examined the influence of HO-1 deficiency and transient hypoxia/ischaemia-induced HO-1 overexpression on post-injury hindlimb recovery.
Methods and results
Mice lacking functional HO-1 (HO-1−/−) showed reduced reparative neovascularization in ischaemic skeletal muscles, impaired blood flow (BF) recovery, and increased muscle cell death compared with their wild-type littermates. Human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1) transfected with plasmid vector (pHRE-HO-1) carrying human HO-1 driven by three hypoxia response elements (HREs) and cultured in 0.5% oxygen demonstrated markedly increased expression of HO-1. Such upregulated HO-1 levels were effective in conferring protection against H2O2-induced cell death and in promoting the proangiogenic phenotype of HMEC-1 cells. More importantly, when delivered in vivo, pHRE-HO-1 significantly improved the post-ischaemic foot BF in mice subjected to femoral artery ligation. These effects were associated with reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and CXCL1) and lower numbers of transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labelling-positive cells. Moreover, HO-1 delivered into mouse skeletal muscles seems to influence the regenerative potential of myocytes as it significantly changed the expression of transcriptional (Pax7, MyoD, myogenin) and post-transcriptional (miR-146a, miR-206) regulators of skeletal muscle regeneration.
Our results suggest the therapeutic potential of HO-1 for prevention of adverse effects in critical limb ischaemia.
PMCID: PMC3527762  PMID: 23087099
Angiogenesis; Gene therapy; HO-1; MicroRNA; Satellite cells

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