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2.  Future Directions in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research. An NHLBI Workshop Report 
The median survival of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) continues to be approximately 3 years from the time of diagnosis, underscoring the lack of effective medical therapies for this disease. In the United States alone, approximately 40,000 patients die of this disease annually. In November 2012, the NHLBI held a workshop aimed at coordinating research efforts and accelerating the development of IPF therapies. Basic, translational, and clinical researchers gathered with representatives from the NHLBI, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review the current state of IPF research and identify priority areas, opportunities for collaborations, and directions for future research. The workshop was organized into groups that were tasked with assessing and making recommendations to promote progress in one of the following six critical areas of research: (1) biology of alveolar epithelial injury and aberrant repair; (2) role of extracellular matrix; (3) preclinical modeling; (4) role of inflammation and immunity; (5) genetic, epigenetic, and environmental determinants; (6) translation of discoveries into diagnostics and therapeutics. The workshop recommendations provide a basis for directing future research and strategic planning by scientific, professional, and patient communities and the NHLBI.
PMCID: PMC3983890  PMID: 24160862
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; alveolar epithelial cells; extracellular matrix; interstitial lung disease; inflammation
3.  Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: Time to Get Personal? 
PMCID: PMC3917381  PMID: 24328772
4.  Missing value imputation in high-dimensional phenomic data: imputable or not, and how? 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15(1):346.
In modern biomedical research of complex diseases, a large number of demographic and clinical variables, herein called phenomic data, are often collected and missing values (MVs) are inevitable in the data collection process. Since many downstream statistical and bioinformatics methods require complete data matrix, imputation is a common and practical solution. In high-throughput experiments such as microarray experiments, continuous intensities are measured and many mature missing value imputation methods have been developed and widely applied. Numerous methods for missing data imputation of microarray data have been developed. Large phenomic data, however, contain continuous, nominal, binary and ordinal data types, which void application of most methods. Though several methods have been developed in the past few years, not a single complete guideline is proposed with respect to phenomic missing data imputation.
In this paper, we investigated existing imputation methods for phenomic data, proposed a self-training selection (STS) scheme to select the best imputation method and provide a practical guideline for general applications. We introduced a novel concept of “imputability measure” (IM) to identify missing values that are fundamentally inadequate to impute. In addition, we also developed four variations of K-nearest-neighbor (KNN) methods and compared with two existing methods, multivariate imputation by chained equations (MICE) and missForest. The four variations are imputation by variables (KNN-V), by subjects (KNN-S), their weighted hybrid (KNN-H) and an adaptively weighted hybrid (KNN-A). We performed simulations and applied different imputation methods and the STS scheme to three lung disease phenomic datasets to evaluate the methods. An R package “phenomeImpute” is made publicly available.
Simulations and applications to real datasets showed that MICE often did not perform well; KNN-A, KNN-H and random forest were among the top performers although no method universally performed the best. Imputation of missing values with low imputability measures increased imputation errors greatly and could potentially deteriorate downstream analyses. The STS scheme was accurate in selecting the optimal method by evaluating methods in a second layer of missingness simulation. All source files for the simulation and the real data analyses are available on the author’s publication website.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12859-014-0346-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4228077  PMID: 25371041
Missing data; K-nearest-neighbor; Phenomic data; Self-training selection
6.  Micromanaging microRNAs: using murine models to study microRNAs in lung fibrosis 
Drug discovery today. Disease models  2013;10(3):e145-e151.
MicroRNAs are implicated in many biological and pathological processes and are emerging as key actors in lung health and disease. Specific patterns of dysregulated microRNAs have been found in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), an untreatable interstitial lung disease of unknown etiology. IPF is characterized by dramatic and extensive phenotypic changes in the lung that include alveolar cell hyperplasia, fibroblast proliferation and formation of myofibroblast foci, deposition of extracellular matrix, and changes in lung transcriptional programming. Here, we discuss the latest insights about the role of microRNAs in lung fibrosis with a focus on the contribution of animal models of disease to the derivation of these insights.
PMCID: PMC4201640  PMID: 25328532
7.  Syndecan-2 Exerts Antifibrotic Effects by Promoting Caveolin-1–mediated Transforming Growth Factor-β Receptor I Internalization and Inhibiting Transforming Growth Factor-β1 Signaling 
Rationale: Alveolar transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 signaling and expression of TGF-β1 target genes are increased in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and in animal models of pulmonary fibrosis. Internalization and degradation of TGF-β receptor TβRI inhibits TGF-β signaling and could attenuate development of experimental lung fibrosis.
Objectives: To demonstrate that after experimental lung injury, human syndecan-2 confers antifibrotic effects by inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling in alveolar epithelial cells.
Methods: Microarray assays were performed to identify genes differentially expressed in alveolar macrophages of patients with IPF versus control subjects. Transgenic mice that constitutively overexpress human syndecan-2 in macrophages were developed to test the antifibrotic properties of syndecan-2. In vitro assays were performed to determine syndecan-2–dependent changes in epithelial cell TGF-β1 signaling, TGF-β1, and TβRI internalization and apoptosis. Wild-type mice were treated with recombinant human syndecan-2 during the fibrotic phase of bleomycin-induced lung injury.
Measurements and Main Results: We observed significant increases in alveolar macrophage syndecan-2 levels in patients with IPF. Macrophage-specific overexpression of human syndecan-2 in transgenic mice conferred antifibrotic effects after lung injury by inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling and downstream expression of TGF-β1 target genes, reducing extracellular matrix production and alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis. In vitro, syndecan-2 promoted caveolin-1–dependent internalization of TGF-β1 and TβRI in alveolar epithelial cells, which inhibited TGF-β1 signaling and epithelial cell apoptosis. Therapeutic administration of human syndecan-2 abrogated lung fibrosis in mice.
Conclusions: Alveolar macrophage syndecan-2 exerts antifibrotic effects by promoting caveolin-1–dependent TGF-β1 and TβRI internalization and inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling in alveolar epithelial cells. Hence, molecules that facilitate TβRI degradation via endocytosis represent potential therapies for pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3826270  PMID: 23924348
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; TGF-β1 signaling; syndecan-2; alveolar macrophage
8.  MicroRNA mimicry blocks pulmonary fibrosis 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2014;6(10):1347-1356.
Over the last decade, great enthusiasm has evolved for microRNA (miRNA) therapeutics. Part of the excitement stems from the fact that a miRNA often regulates numerous related mRNAs. As such, modulation of a single miRNA allows for parallel regulation of multiple genes involved in a particular disease. While many studies have shown therapeutic efficacy using miRNA inhibitors, efforts to restore or increase the function of a miRNA have been lagging behind. The miR-29 family has gained a lot of attention for its clear function in tissue fibrosis. This fibroblast-enriched miRNA family is downregulated in fibrotic diseases which induces a coordinate increase of many extracellular matrix genes. Here, we show that intravenous injection of synthetic RNA duplexes can increase miR-29 levels in vivo for several days. Moreover, therapeutic delivery of these miR-29 mimics during bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis restores endogenous miR-29 function whereby decreasing collagen expression and blocking and reversing pulmonary fibrosis. Our data support the feasibility of using miRNA mimics to therapeutically increase miRNAs and indicate miR-29 to be a potent therapeutic miRNA for treating pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC4287936  PMID: 25239947
microRNA; mimic; miR-29; pulmonary fibrosis; therapeutics
9.  Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Gene Expression Profiles Predict Poor Outcome in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(205):205ra136.
We aimed to identify peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) gene expression profiles predictive of poor outcomes in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) by performing microarray experiments of PBMCs in discovery and replication cohorts of IPF patients. Microarray analyses identified 52 genes associated with transplant-free survival (TFS) in the discovery cohort. Clustering the microarray samples of the replication cohort using the 52-gene outcome-predictive signature distinguished two patient groups with significant differences in TFS. We studied the pathways associated with TFS in each independent microarray cohort and identified decreased expression of “The costimulatory signal during T cell activation” Biocarta pathway and, in particular, the genes CD28, ICOS, LCK, and ITK, results confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). A proportional hazards model, including the qRT-PCR expression of CD28, ICOS, LCK, and ITK along with patient’s age, gender, and percent predicted forced vital capacity (FVC%), demonstrated an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 78.5% at 2.4 months for death and lung transplant prediction in the replication cohort. To evaluate the potential cellular source of CD28, ICOS, LCK, and ITK expression, we analyzed and found significant correlation of these genes with the PBMC percentage of CD4+CD28+ T cells in the replication cohort. Our results suggest that CD28, ICOS, LCK, and ITK are potential outcome biomarkers in IPF and should be further evaluated for patient prioritization for lung transplantation and stratification in drug studies.
PMCID: PMC4175518  PMID: 24089408
10.  Biomarkers in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 
Purpose of review
This review examines the recent literature on molecular biomarkers of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Specific attention is dedicated to the recent studies that identified the genes associated with IPF and the peripheral blood biomarkers that predict outcome in IPF.
Recent findings
Multiple studies attempted to identify diagnostic and predictive biomarkers in IPF. Until recently, these studies were limited in size and lacked replication, but still when taken together provided convincing evidence that changes in blood proteins (KL-6, SP-A, MMP-7, CCL-18, among others) or cells (fibrocytes and T-cell subpopulations) are indicative of the disease presence and outcome. More recently, larger studies have identified gene polymorphisms associated with IPF, as well as protein markers and integrated clinical and molecular prediction rules that accurately predict outcome in patients with IPF.
The peripheral blood contains disease presence and outcome relevant information, and suggests distinct biologically defined outcome trajectories in patients with IPF. Although recently identified biomarkers should still be validated in multiple clinical contexts, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that collection of peripheral blood biomarkers needs to be incorporated in the design of drug studies and that some of these markers be clinically evaluated in lung transplant prioritization.
PMCID: PMC4165635  PMID: 22847105
genomics; MMP-7; MUC5b; PCMI; personalized medicine
11.  Functional Genomic Assessment of Phosgene-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice 
In this study, a genetically diverse panel of 43 mouse strains was exposed to phosgene and genome-wide association mapping performed using a high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assembly. Transcriptomic analysis was also used to improve the genetic resolution in the identification of genetic determinants of phosgene-induced acute lung injury (ALI). We prioritized the identified genes based on whether the encoded protein was previously associated with lung injury or contained a nonsynonymous SNP within a functional domain. Candidates were selected that contained a promoter SNP that could alter a putative transcription factor binding site and had variable expression by transcriptomic analyses. The latter two criteria also required that ≥10% of mice carried the minor allele and that this allele could account for ≥10% of the phenotypic difference noted between the strains at the phenotypic extremes. This integrative, functional approach revealed 14 candidate genes that included Atp1a1, Alox5, Galnt11, Hrh1, Mbd4, Phactr2, Plxnd1, Ptprt, Reln, and Zfand4, which had significant SNP associations, and Itga9, Man1a2, Mapk14, and Vwf, which had suggestive SNP associations. Of the genes with significant SNP associations, Atp1a1, Alox5, Plxnd1, Ptprt, and Zfand4 could be associated with ALI in several ways. Using a competitive electrophoretic mobility shift analysis, Atp1a1 promoter (rs215053185) oligonucleotide containing the minor G allele formed a major distinct faster-migrating complex. In addition, a gene with a suggestive SNP association, Itga9, is linked to transforming growth factor β1 signaling, which previously has been associated with the susceptibility to ALI in mice.
PMCID: PMC3824050  PMID: 23590305
ARDS; countermeasures; genetics; sodium absorption; lipoxygenase
12.  Plasma B-Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS) and B-cell Differentiation in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patients* 
We hypothesized B-cells are involved in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive, restrictive lung disease that is refractory to glucocorticoids and other nonspecific therapies, and almost invariably lethal. Accordingly, we sought to identify clinically-associated B-cell-related abnormalities in these patients. Phenotypes of circulating B-cells were characterized by flow cytometry. Intrapulmonary processes were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Plasma B-lymphocyte stimulating factor (BLyS) was assayed by ELISA. Circulating B-cells of IPF subjects were more antigen-differentiated, with greater plasmablast proportions (3.1±0.8%) than in normal controls (1.3±0.3%) (p<0.03), and the extent of this differentiation correlated with IPF patient lung volumes (r=0.44, p<0.03). CD20+ B-cell aggregates, diffuse parenchymal and perivascular immune complexes, and complement depositions were all prevalent in IPF lungs, but much less prominent or absent in normal lungs. Plasma concentrations of BLyS, an obligate factor for B-cell survival and differentiation, were significantly greater (p<0.0001) in 110 IPF (2.05±0.05 ng/ml) than among 53 normal (1.40±0.04 ng/ml) and 90 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) subjects (1.59±0.05 ng/ml). BLyS levels were uniquely correlated among IPF patients with pulmonary artery pressures (r=0.58, p<0.0001). The 25% of IPF subjects with the greatest BLyS values also had diminished one-year survival (46±11%), compared to those with lesser BLyS concentrations (81±5%) (HR=4.0, 95%CI=1.8-8.7, p=0.0002). Abnormalities of B-cells and BLyS are common in IPF patients, and highly associated with disease manifestations and patient outcomes. These findings have implications regarding IPF pathogenesis, and illuminate the potential for novel treatment regimens that specifically target B-cells in patients with this lung disease.
PMCID: PMC3804013  PMID: 23872052
B-cells; Adaptive Immunity; Interstitial Lung Disease; COPD
13.  Pneumocystis jirovecii colonization is associated with enhanced Th1 inflammatory gene expression in lungs of humans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Microbiology and immunology  2014;58(3):202-211.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex disease, the pathogenesis of which remains incompletely understood. Colonization with Pneumocystis jirovecii may play a role in COPD pathogenesis; however, the mechanisms by which such colonization contributes to COPD are unknown. The objective of this study was to determine lung gene expression profiles associated with Pneumocystis colonization in patients with COPD to identify potential key pathways involved in disease pathogenesis. Using COPD lung tissue samples made available through the Lung Tissue Research Consortium (LTRC), Pneumocystis colonization status was determined by nested PCR. Microarray gene expression profiles were performed for each sample and the profiles of colonized and non-colonized samples compared. Overall, 18 participants (8.5%) were Pneumocystis-colonized. Pneumocystis colonization was associated with fold increase in expression of four closely related genes: INF-γ and the three chemokine ligands CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11. These ligands are chemoattractants for the common cognate receptor CXCR3, which is predominantly expressed on activated Th1 T-lymphocytes. Although these ligand–receptor pairs have previously been implicated in COPD pathogenesis, few initiators of ligand expression and subsequent lymphocyte trafficking have been identified: our findings implicate Pneumocystis as a potential trigger. The finding of upregulation of these inflammatory genes in the setting of Pneumocystis colonization sheds light on infectious-immune relationships in COPD.
PMCID: PMC4106795  PMID: 24438206
chronic obstructive; microarray; Pneumocystis jirovecii; Pulmonary disease; Th1 cells
14.  Assessment of Lung Volume Collapsibility in Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease Patients Using CT 
European radiology  2013;23(6):1564-1572.
To investigate the collapsibility of the lung and individual lobes in patients with COPD during inspiration/expiration and assess the association of whole lung and lobar volume changes with pulmonary function tests (PFTs) and disease severity.
PFT measures used were RV/TLC%, FEV1% predicted, FVC, FEV1/FVC%, DLco% predicted and GOLD category. A total of 360 paired inspiratory and expiratory CT examinations acquired in 180 subjects were analysed. Automated computerised algorithms were used to compute individual lobe and total lung volumes. Lung volume collapsibility was assessed quantitatively using the simple difference between CT computed inspiration (I) and expiration (E) volumes (I-E), and a relative measure of volume changes, (I-E)/I.
Mean absolute collapsibility (I-E) decreased in all lung lobes with increasing disease severity defined by GOLD classification. Relative collapsibility (I-E)/I showed a similar trend. Upper lobes had lower volume collapsibility across all GOLD categories and lower lobes collectively had the largest volume collapsibility. Whole lung and left lower lobe collapsibility measures tended to have the highest correlations with PFT measures. Collapsibility of lung lobes and whole lung were also negatively correlated with the degree of air trapping between expiration and inspiration, as measured by mean lung density. All measured associations were statistically significant (P < 0.01).
Severity of COPD appears associated with increased collapsibility in the upper lobes, but change (decline) in collapsibility is faster in the lower lobes.
PMCID: PMC3657332  PMID: 23494492
lung volume; collapsibility; COPD; computed tomography; disease severity
15.  Genetic variants associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis susceptibility and mortality: a genome-wide association study 
The lancet. Respiratory medicine  2013;1(4):309-317.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating disease that probably involves several genetic loci. Several rare genetic variants and one common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of MUC5B have been associated with the disease. Our aim was to identify additional common variants associated with susceptibility and ultimately mortality in IPF.
First, we did a three-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS): stage one was a discovery GWAS; and stages two and three were independent case-control studies. DNA samples from European-American patients with IPF meeting standard criteria were obtained from several US centres for each stage. Data for European-American control individuals for stage one were gathered from the database of genotypes and phenotypes; additional control individuals were recruited at the University of Pittsburgh to increase the number. For controls in stages two and three, we gathered data for additional sex-matched European-American control individuals who had been recruited in another study. DNA samples from patients and from control individuals were genotyped to identify SNPs associated with IPF. SNPs identified in stage one were carried forward to stage two, and those that achieved genome-wide significance (p<5 × 10−8) in a meta-analysis were carried forward to stage three. Three case series with follow-up data were selected from stages one and two of the GWAS using samples with follow-up data. Mortality analyses were done in these case series to assess the SNPs associated with IPF that had achieved genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis of stages one and two. Finally, we obtained gene-expression profiling data for lungs of patients with IPF from the Lung Genomics Research Consortium and analysed correlation with SNP genotypes.
In stage one of the GWAS (542 patients with IPF, 542 control individuals matched one-by-one to cases by genetic ancestry estimates), we identified 20 loci. Six SNPs reached genome-wide significance in stage two (544 patients, 687 control individuals): three TOLLIP SNPs (rs111521887, rs5743894, rs5743890) and one MUC5B SNP (rs35705950) at 11p15.5; one MDGA2 SNP (rs7144383) at 14q21.3; and one SPPL2C SNP (rs17690703) at 17q21.31. Stage three (324 patients, 702 control individuals) confirmed the associations for all these SNPs, except for rs7144383. Linkage disequilibrium between the MUC5B SNP (rs35705950) and TOLLIP SNPs (rs111521887 [r2=0.07], rs5743894 [r2=0.16], and rs5743890 [r2=0.01]) was low. 683 patients from the GWAS were included in the mortality analysis. Individuals who developed IPF despite having the protective TOLLIP minor allele of rs5743890 carried an increased mortality risk (meta-analysis with fixed-effect model: hazard ratio 1.72 [95% CI 1.24–2.38]; p=0.0012). TOLLIP expression was decreased by 20% in individuals carrying the minor allele of rs5743890 (p=0.097), 40% in those with the minor allele of rs111521887 (p=3.0 × 10−4), and 50% in those with the minor allele of rs5743894 (p=2.93 × 10−5) compared with homozygous carriers of common alleles for these SNPs.
Novel variants in TOLLIP and SPPL2C are associated with IPF susceptibility. One novel variant of TOLLIP, rs5743890, is also associated with mortality. These associations and the reduced expression of TOLLIP in patients with IPF who carry TOLLIP SNPs emphasise the importance of this gene in the disease.
National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation; Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis; and Instituto de Salud Carlos III.
PMCID: PMC3894577  PMID: 24429156
16.  Activation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Impacts Their Therapeutic Abilities in Lung Injury by Increasing Interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-1RN Levels 
Stem Cells Translational Medicine  2013;2(11):884-895.
The objective of this study was to improve the protective anti-inflammatory capacity of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) by evaluating the consequences of preactivating them before use in a murine model of acute respiratory distress syndrome. It was found that the immunomodulatory capacity was better in hMSCs obtained with minimal manipulation, showing that it is possible to improve the protective anti-inflammatory capacity of hMSCs.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality, with no currently effective therapies. Several preclinical studies have shown that human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have therapeutic potential for patients with ARDS because of their immunomodulatory properties. The clinical use of hMSCs has some limitations, such as the extensive manipulation required to isolate the cells from bone marrow aspirates and the heterogeneity in their anti-inflammatory effect in animal models and clinical trials. The objective of this study was to improve the protective anti-inflammatory capacity of hMSCs by evaluating the consequences of preactivating hMSCs before use in a murine model of ARDS. We injected endotoxemic mice with minimally manipulated hMSCs isolated from the bone marrow of vertebral bodies with or without prior activation with serum from ARDS patients. Minimally manipulated hMSCs were more efficient at reducing lung inflammation compared with isolated and in vitro expanded hMSCs obtained from bone marrow aspirates. Where the most important effect was observed was with the activated hMSCs, independent of their source, which resulted in increased expression of interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-1 receptor antagonist (RN), which was associated with enhancement of their protective capacity by reduction of the lung injury score, development of pulmonary edema, and accumulation of bronchoalveolar lavage inflammatory cells and cytokines compared with nonactivated cells. This study demonstrates that a low manipulation during hMSC isolation and expansion increases, together with preactivation prior to the therapeutic use of hMSCs, would ensure an appropriate immunomodulatory phenotype of the hMSCs, reducing the heterogeneity in their anti-inflammatory effect.
PMCID: PMC3808203  PMID: 24089414
Adult stem cells; Bone marrow stromal cells; Lung; Mesenchymal stem cells
17.  Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis with Antibodies to Heat Shock Protein 70 Have Poor Prognoses 
Rationale: Diverse autoantibodies are present in most patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We hypothesized that specific autoantibodies may associate with IPF manifestations.
Objectives: To identify clinically relevant, antigen-specific immune responses in patients with IPF.
Methods: Autoantibodies were detected by immunoblots and ELISA. Intrapulmonary immune processes were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Anti–heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) IgG was isolated from plasma by immunoaffinity. Flow cytometry was used for leukocyte functional studies.
Measurements and Main Results: HSP70 was identified as a potential IPF autoantigen in discovery assays. Anti-HSP70 IgG autoantibodies were detected by immunoblots in 3% of 60 control subjects versus 25% of a cross-sectional IPF cohort (n = 122) (P = 0.0004), one-half the patients with IPF who died (P = 0.008), and 70% of those with acute exacerbations (P = 0.0005). Anti-HSP70 autoantibodies in patients with IPF were significantly associated with HLA allele biases, greater subsequent FVC reductions (P = 0.0004), and lesser 1-year survival (40 ± 10% vs. 80 ± 5%; hazard ratio = 4.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.0–8.6; P < 0.0001). HSP70 protein, antigen–antibody complexes, and complement were prevalent in IPF lungs. HSP70 protein was an autoantigen for IPF CD4 T cells, inducing lymphocyte proliferation (P = 0.004) and IL-4 production (P = 0.01). IPF anti-HSP70 autoantibodies activated monocytes (P = 0.009) and increased monocyte IL-8 production (P = 0.049). ELISA confirmed the association between anti-HSP70 autoreactivity and IPF outcome. Anti-HSP70 autoantibodies were also found in patients with other interstitial lung diseases but were not associated with their clinical progression.
Conclusions: Patients with IPF with anti-HSP70 autoantibodies have more near-term lung function deterioration and mortality. These findings suggest antigen-specific immunoassays could provide useful clinical information in individual patients with IPF and may have implications for understanding IPF progression.
PMCID: PMC3678112  PMID: 23262513
B cells; T cells; adaptive immunity; interstitial lung disease
18.  Oral Antimycobacterial Therapy in Chronic Cutaneous Sarcoidosis 
JAMA dermatology  2013;149(9):1040-1049.
Sarcoidosis is a chronic granulomatous disease for which there are limited therapeutic options. This is the first randomized, placebo-controlled study to demonstrate that antimycobacterial therapy reduces lesion diameter and disease severity among patients with chronic cutaneous sarcoidosis.
To evaluate the safety and efficacy of once-daily antimycobacterial therapy on the resolution of chronic cutaneous sarcoidosis lesions.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, single-masked trial on 30 patients with symptomatic chronic cutaneous sarcoidosis lesions deemed to require therapeutic intervention.
A tertiary referral dermatology center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Participants were randomized to receive either the oral concomitant levofloxacin, ethambutol, azithromycin, and rifampin (CLEAR) regimen or a comparative placebo regimen for 8 weeks with a 180-day follow-up.
Participants were monitored for absolute change in lesion diameter and decrease in granuloma burden, if present, on completion of therapy.
In the intention-to-treat analysis, the CLEAR-treated group had a mean (SD) decrease in lesion diameter of −8.4 (14.0) mm compared with an increase of 0.07 (3.2) mm in the placebo-treated group (P = .05). The CLEAR group had a significant reduction in granuloma burden and experienced a mean (SD) decline of −2.9 (2.5) mm in lesion severity compared with a decline of −0.6 (2.1) mm in the placebo group (P = .02).
Antimycobacterial therapy may result in significant reductions in chronic cutaneous sarcoidosis lesion diameter compared with placebo. These observed reductions, associated with a clinically significant improvement in symptoms, were present at the 180-day follow-up period. Transcriptome analysis of sarcoidosis CD4+ T cells revealed reversal of pathways associated with disease severity and enhanced T-cell function following T-cell receptor stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3927541  PMID: 23863960
19.  Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83120.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and life threatening disease with median survival of 2.5–3 years. The IPF lung is characterized by abnormal lung remodeling, epithelial cell hyperplasia, myofibroblast foci formation, and extracellular matrix deposition. Analysis of gene expression microarray data revealed that cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), a non-collagenous extracellular matrix protein is among the most significantly up-regulated genes (Fold change 13, p-value <0.05) in IPF lungs. This finding was confirmed at the mRNA level by nCounter® expression analysis in additional 115 IPF lungs and 154 control lungs as well as at the protein level by western blot analysis. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that COMP was expressed in dense fibrotic regions of IPF lungs and co-localized with vimentin and around pSMAD3 expressing cells. Stimulation of normal human lung fibroblasts with TGF-β1 induced an increase in COMP mRNA and protein expression. Silencing COMP in normal human lung fibroblasts significantly inhibited cell proliferation and negatively impacted the effects of TGF-β1 on COL1A1 and PAI1. COMP protein concentration measured by ELISA assay was significantly increased in serum of IPF patients compared to controls. Analysis of serum COMP concentrations in 23 patients who had prospective blood draws revealed that COMP levels increased in a time dependent fashion and correlated with declines in force vital capacity (FVC). Taken together, our results should encourage more research into the potential use of COMP as a biomarker for disease activity and TGF-β1 activity in patients with IPF. Hence, studies that explore modalities that affect COMP expression, alleviate extracellular matrix rigidity and lung restriction in IPF and interfere with the amplification of TGF-β1 signaling should be persuaded.
PMCID: PMC3869779  PMID: 24376648
20.  Genome-wide association study identifies multiple susceptibility loci for pulmonary fibrosis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(6):613-620.
We performed a genome-wide association study in non-Hispanic white subjects with fibrotic idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (N=1616) and controls (N=4683); replication was assessed in 876 cases and 1890 controls. We confirmed association with TERT and MUC5B on chromosomes 5p15 and 11p15, respectively, the chromosome 3q26 region near TERC, and identified 7 novel loci (PMeta = 2.4×10−8 to PMeta = 1.1×10−19). The novel loci include FAM13A (4q22), DSP (6p24), OBFC1 (10q24), ATP11A (13q34), DPP9 (19p13), and chromosomal regions 7q22 and 15q14-15. Our results demonstrate that genes involved in host defense, cell-cell adhesion, and DNA repair contribute to the risk of fibrotic IIP.
PMCID: PMC3677861  PMID: 23583980
21.  Profibrotic Role of miR-154 in Pulmonary Fibrosis 
In this study, we explored the regulation and the role of up-regulated microRNAs in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive interstitial lung disease of unknown origin. We analyzed the expression of microRNAs in IPF lungs and identified 43 significantly up-regulated microRNAs. Twenty-four of the 43 increased microRNAs were localized to the chromosome 14q32 microRNA cluster. We validated the increased expression of miR-154, miR-134, miR-299–5p, miR-410, miR-382, miR-409–3p, miR-487b, miR-31, and miR-127 by quantitative RT-PCR and determined that they were similarly expressed in embryonic lungs. We did not find evidence for differential methylation in this region, but analysis of transcription factor binding sites identified multiple SMAD3-binding elements in the 14q32 microRNA cluster. TGF-β1 stimulation of normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF) caused up-regulation of microRNAs on chr14q32 that were also increased in IPF lungs. Chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed binding of SMAD3 to the putative promoter of miR-154. Mir-154 was increased in IPF fibroblasts, and transfection of NHLF with miR-154 caused significant increases in cell proliferation and migration. The increase in proliferation induced by TGF-β was not observed when NHLF or IPF fibroblasts were transfected with a mir-154 inhibitor. Transfection with miR-154 caused activation of the WNT pathway in NHLF. ICG-001 and XAV939, inhibitors of the WNT/β-catenin pathway, reduced the proliferative effect of miR-154. The potential role of miR-154, one of multiple chr14q32 microRNA cluster members up-regulated in IPF and a regulator of fibroblast migration and proliferation, should be further explored in IPF.
PMCID: PMC3547095  PMID: 23043088
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; microRNA; TGF-β; WNT/β-catenin; developmental pathways
22.  An R package suite for microarray meta-analysis in quality control, differentially expressed gene analysis and pathway enrichment detection 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(19):2534-2536.
Summary: With the rapid advances and prevalence of high-throughput genomic technologies, integrating information of multiple relevant genomic studies has brought new challenges. Microarray meta-analysis has become a frequently used tool in biomedical research. Little effort, however, has been made to develop a systematic pipeline and user-friendly software. In this article, we present MetaOmics, a suite of three R packages MetaQC, MetaDE and MetaPath, for quality control, differentially expressed gene identification and enriched pathway detection for microarray meta-analysis. MetaQC provides a quantitative and objective tool to assist study inclusion/exclusion criteria for meta-analysis. MetaDE and MetaPath were developed for candidate marker and pathway detection, which provide choices of marker detection, meta-analysis and pathway analysis methods. The system allows flexible input of experimental data, clinical outcome (case–control, multi-class, continuous or survival) and pathway databases. It allows missing values in experimental data and utilizes multi-core parallel computing for fast implementation. It generates informative summary output and visualization plots, operates on different operation systems and can be expanded to include new algorithms or combine different types of genomic data. This software suite provides a comprehensive tool to conveniently implement and compare various genomic meta-analysis pipelines.
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3463115  PMID: 22863766
24.  Integrative Assessment of Chlorine-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice 
The genetic basis for the underlying individual susceptibility to chlorine-induced acute lung injury is unknown. To uncover the genetic basis and pathophysiological processes that could provide additional homeostatic capacities during lung injury, 40 inbred murine strains were exposed to chlorine, and haplotype association mapping was performed. The identified single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations were evaluated through transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling. Using ≥ 10% allelic frequency and ≥ 10% phenotype explained as threshold criteria, promoter SNPs that could eliminate putative transcriptional factor recognition sites in candidate genes were assessed by determining transcript levels through microarray and reverse real-time PCR during chlorine exposure. The mean survival time varied by approximately 5-fold among strains, and SNP associations were identified for 13 candidate genes on chromosomes 1, 4, 5, 9, and 15. Microarrays revealed several differentially enriched pathways, including protein transport (decreased more in the sensitive C57BLKS/J lung) and protein catabolic process (increased more in the resistant C57BL/10J lung). Lung metabolomic profiling revealed 95 of the 280 metabolites measured were altered by chlorine exposure, and included alanine, which decreased more in the C57BLKS/J than in the C57BL/10J strain, and glutamine, which increased more in the C57BL/10J than in the C57BLKS/J strain. Genetic associations from haplotype mapping were strengthened by an integrated assessment using transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling. The leading candidate genes associated with increased susceptibility to acute lung injury in mice included Klf4, Sema7a, Tns1, Aacs, and a gene that encodes an amino acid carrier, Slc38a4.
PMCID: PMC3423464  PMID: 22447970
ARDS; countermeasures; glutamine; genetics; metabolomics
25.  First-in-human trial of a STAT3 decoy oligonucleotide in head and neck tumors: implications for cancer therapy 
Cancer discovery  2012;2(8):694-705.
Despite evidence implicating transcription factors, including STAT3, in oncogenesis, these proteins have been regarded as “undruggable”. We developed a decoy targeting STAT3 and performed a phase 0 trial. Expression levels of STAT3 target genes were decreased in the head and neck cancers following injection with the STAT3 decoy compared with tumors receiving saline control. Decoys have not been amenable to systemic administration due to instability. To overcome this barrier, we linked the oligonucleotide strands using hexa-ethyleneglycol spacers. This cyclic STAT3 decoy bound with high affinity to STAT3 protein, reduced cellular viability, and suppressed STAT3 target gene expression in cancer cells. Intravenous injection of the cyclic STAT3 decoy inhibited xenograft growth and downregulated STAT3 target genes in the tumors. These results provide the first demonstration of a successful strategy to inhibit tumor STAT3 signaling via systemic administration of a selective STAT3 inhibitor, thereby paving the way for broad clinical development.
PMCID: PMC3668699  PMID: 22719020
STAT3; decoy oligonucleotide; phase 0; head and neck cancer

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