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1.  Content and Quality of Information Websites About Congenital Heart Defects Following a Prenatal Diagnosis 
Pregnant women and their partners use the Internet to search for information following a prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart defect.
Our aim was to explore central subjects of content and to assess the accessibility, reliability, usability, and quality of written information on publicly available information websites about congenital heart defects following a prenatal diagnosis.
Following searches on Bing and Google, we included websites containing patient information in English. Hits ranged from 340,000-67,500,000 and the first 50 hits from each search were screened for inclusion (N=600). Of these hits, 39.3% (236/600) were irrelevant. A total of 67 websites were included, of which 37% (25/67) were affiliated with independent information websites, 25% (17/67) with charity/private organizations, 25% (17/67) with hospitals/clinics, and 13% (8/67) had other affiliations. The majority of the websites (76%, 51/67) could not be attributed to an author. A manifest content analysis was performed to explore central subjects of content. The DISCERN instrument was used to assess the quality of information, and the LIDA tool was used to assess accessibility, usability, and reliability of the included websites.
The content on the majority of the websites included care and treatment of children with congenital heart defects (88%, 59/67), causes of congenital heart defects (88%, 59/67), symptoms of congenital heart defects (85%, 57/67), prevalence of congenital heart defects (81%, 54/67), potential complications of congenital heart defects (75%, 50/67), prenatal diagnostics/screening methods (72%, 48/67), and specific congenital heart defects (72%, 48/67), whereas less than 10% included information about termination of pregnancy (6%, 4/67), care during pregnancy (5%, 3/67), and information specifically directed to partners (1%, 1/67). The mean of the total DISCERN score was 27.9 (SD 9.7, range 16-53). According to the instrument, a majority of the websites were categorized as very poor regarding information about effects of no treatment (88%, 59/67), support for shared decision making (85%, 57/67), achievement of its aims (84%, 56/67), explicit aims (82%, 55/67), risks of each treatment (82%, 55/67), how treatment choices affect overall quality of life (76%, 51/67), and areas of uncertainty (76%, 51/67). The mean of the total LIDA score was 92.3 (SD 13.1, range 61-127). According to the tool, a majority of the websites were categorized as good with regard to registration (97%, 65/67) and browser test (75%, 50/67), whereas a majority were categorized as poor with regard to currency (87%, 58/67), content production (84%, 56/67), and engagability (75%, 50/67).
Difficulties in finding relevant information sources using Web search engines and quality deficits on websites are an incentive for health professionals to take an active part in providing adequate and reliable information online about congenital heart defects.
PMCID: PMC4319076  PMID: 25608457
consumer health information; heart defects, congenital; Internet; prenatal diagnosis
3.  The novel Aryl hydrocarbon receptor inhibitor biseugenol inhibits gastric tumor growth and peritoneal dissemination 
Oncotarget  2014;5(17):7788-7804.
Biseugenol (Eug) is known to antiproliferative of cancer cells; however, to date, the antiperitoneal dissemination effects have not been studied in any mouse cancer model. In this study, Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) expression was associated with lymph node and distant metastasis in patients with gastric cancer and was correlated with clinicolpathological pattern. We evaluated the antiperitoneal dissemination potential of knockdown AhR and Biseugenol in cancer mouse model and assessed mesenchymal characteristics. Our results demonstrate that tumor growth, peritoneal dissemination and peritoneum or organ metastasis implanted MKN45 cells were significantly decreased in shAhR and Biseugenol-treated mice and that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was caused. Biseugenol-exposure tumors showed acquired epithelial features such as phosphorylation of E-cadherin, cytokeratin-18 and loss mesenchymal signature Snail, but not vimentin regulation. Snail expression, through AhR activation, is an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) determinant. Moreover, Biseugenol enhanced Calpain-10 (Calp-10) and AhR interaction resulted in Snail downregulation. The effect of shCalpain-10 in cancer cells was associated with inactivation of AhR/Snail promoter binding activity. Inhibition of Calpain-10 in gastric cancer cells by short hairpin RNA or pharmacological inhibitor was found to effectively reduced growth ability and vessel density in vivo. Importantly, knockdown of AhR completed abrogated peritoneal dissemination. Herein, Biseugenol targeting ER stress provokes Calpain-10 activity, sequentially induces reversal of EMT and apoptosis via AhR may involve the paralleling processes. Taken together, these data suggest that Calpain-10 activation and AhR inhibition by Biseugenol impedes both gastric tumor growth and peritoneal dissemination by inducing ER stress and inhibiting EMT.
PMCID: PMC4202161  PMID: 25226618
ER stress; Calpain-10; AhR; Snail; EMT
4.  Late-onset respiratory failure due to TK2 mutations causing multiple mtDNA deletions 
Neurology  2013;81(23):2051-2053.
Mutations in nuclear genes involved in the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are associated with an extensive spectrum of clinical phenotypes, manifesting as either mtDNA depletion syndromes or multiple mtDNA deletion disorders.1
PMCID: PMC3854830  PMID: 24198295
5.  Is Trichloroacetic Acid an Insufficient Sample Quencher of Redox Reactions? 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(7):795-799.
The global protein thiol pool has been reported to play a major role in the defense against oxidative stress as a redox buffer similar to glutathione. The present study uses a novel method to visualize cellular changes of the global protein thiol pool in response to induced oxidative stress. Unexpectedly, the results showed an uneven distribution of protein thiols in resting cells with no apparent change in their level or distribution in response to diamide as has been reported previously. Further analysis revealed that thiol pool oxidation is artificially high due to insufficient activity of the widely used sample quencher trichloroacetic acid (TCA). This suggests that previously published articles based on TCA as a quencher should be interpreted with caution as TCA could have caused similar artifacts. Overall, the results presented here question the major role for the global thiol pool in the defense against oxidative stress. Instead our hypothesis is that the fraction of proteins involved in response to oxidative stress is much smaller than previously anticipated in support of a fine-tuned cell signaling by redox regulation. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 795–799.
PMCID: PMC3555094  PMID: 23043315
6.  Cord blood neutrophils display a galectin-3 responsive phenotype accentuated by vaginal delivery 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:128.
Term neonates are at increased risk of infections due to undeveloped immune mechanisms, and proper neutrophil function is important for perinatal immune defence. Galectin-3, an endogenous β-galactoside-binding lectin, is emerging as an inflammatory mediator and we have previously shown that primed/activated, but not resting, adult neutrophils respond to this lectin by production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). We investigated if galectin-3 is of importance in perinatal immune defence, focusing on plasma levels and neutrophil responsiveness.
Neutrophils were isolated from peripheral blood of healthy adults and cord blood (CB) after elective Caesarean section (CSCB) and vaginal delivery (VDCB). ROS production was measured by chemiluminescence, L-selectin expression by flow cytometry, and interleukin-8 (IL-8) and galectin-3 concentrations by ELISA. Statistical evaluations were performed using the Mann–Whitney test.
In response to galectin-3, CSCB neutrophils showed a small but clear ROS production not evident in adult cells, signifying that neonatal neutrophils exist in a primed state. IL-8 production was elevated in CSCB cells while L-selectin exposure was equal to adult cells. Comparing CSCB to VDCB neutrophils, the latter showed an extensive galectin-3 responsiveness, indicating that the degree of priming is dependent on mode of delivery. VDCB neutrophils were increasingly prone to shed L-selectin, while the amount of IL-8 was similar to CSCB cells. The endogenous galectin-3 levels were higher in neonatal as compared to adult plasma, unaffected by mode of delivery.
Neutrophils enter a pre-primed state already in the fetus. Upon exposure to the inflammatory stimuli that are associated with labor, the neutrophils develop a reactive phenotype with extensive priming features.
PMCID: PMC3765113  PMID: 23964611
Cord blood, Galectin-3; Neonatal immunity; Neutrophils; Priming; Reactive oxygen species
7.  Molecular Profiling Reveals Low- and High-Grade Forms of Primary Melanoma 
For primary melanomas, tumor thickness, mitotic rate, and ulceration are well-laid cornerstones of prognostication. However, a molecular exposition of melanoma aggressiveness is critically missing. We recently uncovered a four-class structure in metastatic melanoma, which predicts outcome and informs biology. This raises the possibility that a molecular structure exists even in the early stages of melanoma and that molecular determinants could underlie histophenotype and eventual patient outcome.
Experimental Design
We subjected 223 archival primary melanomas to a horizontally integrated analysis of RNA expression, oncogenic mutations at 238 lesions, histomorphometry, and survival data.
Our previously described four-class structure that was elucidated in metastatic lesions was evident within the expression space of primary melanomas. Because these subclasses converged into two larger prognostic and phenotypic groups, we used the metastatic lesions to develop a binary subtype-based signature capable of distinguishing between "high" and "low" grade forms of the disease. The two-grade signature was subsequently applied to the primary melanomas. Compared with low-grade tumors, high-grade primary melanomas were significantly associated with increased tumor thickness, mitotic rate, ulceration (all P < 0.01), and poorer relapse-free (HR = 4.94; 95% CI, 2.84–8.59), and overall (HR = 3.66; 95% CI, 2.40–5.58) survival. High-grade melanomas exhibited elevated levels of proliferation and BRCA1/DNA damage signaling genes, whereas low-grade lesions harbored higher expression of immune genes. Importantly, the molecular-grade signature was validated in two external gene expression data sets.
We provide evidence for a molecular organization within melanomas, which is preserved across all stages of disease.
PMCID: PMC3467105  PMID: 22675174
8.  The Human Neutrophil Subsets Defined by the Presence or Absence of OLFM4 Both Transmigrate into Tissue In Vivo and Give Rise to Distinct NETs In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69575.
Neutrophil heterogeneity was described decades ago, but it could not be elucidated at the time whether the existence of different neutrophil subsets had any biological relevance. It has been corroborated in recent years that neutrophil subsets, defined by differential expression of various markers, are indeed present in human blood, calling for renewed attention to this question. The expression of the granule protein olfactomedin 4 (OLFM4) has been suggested to define two such neutrophil subsets. We confirm the simultaneous presence of one OLFM4-positive and one OLFM4-negative neutrophil subpopulation as well as the localization of the protein to specific granules. In vitro, these neutrophil subsets displayed equal tendency to undergo apoptosis and phagocytose bacteria. In addition, the subpopulations were recruited equally to inflammatory sites in vivo, and this was true both in an experimental model of acute inflammation and in naturally occurring pathological joint inflammation. In line with its subcellular localization, only limited OLFM4 release was seen upon in vivo transmigration, and release through conventional degranulation required strong secretagogues. However, extracellular release of OLFM4 could be achieved upon formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) where it was detected only in a subset of the NETs. Although we were unable to demonstrate any functional differences between the OLFM4-defined subsets, our data show that different neutrophil subsets are present in inflamed tissue in vivo. Furthermore, we demonstrate NETs characterized by different markers for the first time, and our results open up for functions of OLFM4 itself in the extracellular space through exposure in NETs.
PMCID: PMC3726694  PMID: 23922742
9.  Reactivation of Desensitized Formyl Peptide Receptors by Platelet Activating Factor: A Novel Receptor Cross Talk Mechanism Regulating Neutrophil Superoxide Anion Production 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60169.
Neutrophils express different chemoattractant receptors of importance for guiding the cells from the blood stream to sites of inflammation. These receptors communicate with one another, a cross talk manifested as hierarchical, heterologous receptor desensitization. We describe a new receptor cross talk mechanism, by which desensitized formyl peptide receptors (FPRdes) can be reactivated. FPR desensitization is induced through binding of specific FPR agonists and is reached after a short period of active signaling. The mechanism that transfers the receptor to a non-signaling desensitized state is not known, and a signaling pathway has so far not been described, that transfers FPRdes back to an active signaling state. The reactivation signal was generated by PAF stimulation of its receptor (PAFR) and the cross talk was uni-directional. LatrunculinA, an inhibitor of actin polymerization, induced a similar reactivation of FPRdes as PAF while the phosphatase inhibitor CalyculinA inhibited reactivation, suggesting a role for the actin cytoskeleton in receptor desensitization and reactivation. The activated PAFR could, however, reactivate FPRdes also when the cytoskeleton was disrupted prior to activation. The receptor cross talk model presented prophesies that the contact on the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane that blocks signaling between the G-protein and the FPR is not a point of no return; the receptor cross-talk from the PAFRs to the FPRdes initiates an actin-independent signaling pathway that turns desensitized receptors back to a signaling state. This represents a novel mechanism for amplification of neutrophil production of reactive oxygen species.
PMCID: PMC3610682  PMID: 23555913
10.  Thymidine Kinase 2 Deficiency-Induced mtDNA Depletion in Mouse Liver Leads to Defect β-Oxidation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58843.
Thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) deficiency in humans causes mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndrome. To study the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease and search for treatment options, we previously generated and described a TK2 deficient mouse strain (TK2−/−) that progressively loses its mtDNA. The TK2−/− mouse model displays symptoms similar to humans harboring TK2 deficient infantile fatal encephalomyopathy. Here, we have studied the TK2−/− mouse model to clarify the pathological role of progressive mtDNA depletion in liver for the severe outcome of TK2 deficiency. We observed that a gradual depletion of mtDNA in the liver of the TK2−/− mice was accompanied by increasingly hypertrophic mitochondria and accumulation of fat vesicles in the liver cells. The levels of cholesterol and nonesterified fatty acids were elevated and there was accumulation of long chain acylcarnitines in plasma of the TK2−/− mice. In mice with hepatic mtDNA levels below 20%, the blood sugar and the ketone levels dropped. These mice also exhibited reduced mitochondrial β-oxidation due to decreased transport of long chain acylcarnitines into the mitochondria. The gradual loss of mtDNA in the liver of the TK2−/− mice causes impaired mitochondrial function that leads to defect β-oxidation and, as a result, insufficient production of ketone bodies and glucose. This study provides insight into the mechanism of encephalomyopathy caused by TK2 deficiency-induced mtDNA depletion that may be used to explore novel therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3591375  PMID: 23505564
11.  Gene Expression Deregulation in Postnatal Skeletal Muscle of TK2 Deficient Mice Reveals a Lower Pool of Proliferating Myogenic Progenitor Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53698.
Loss of thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) causes a heterogeneous myopathic form of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndrome (MDS) in humans that predominantly affects skeletal muscle tissue. In mice, TK2 deficiency also affects several tissues in addition to skeletal muscle, including brain, heart, adipose tissue, kidneys and causes death about 3 weeks after birth. We analysed skeletal muscle and heart muscle tissues of Tk2 knockout mice at postnatal development phase and observed that TK2 deficient pups grew slower and their skeletal muscles appeared significantly underdeveloped, whereas heart was close to normal in size. Both tissues showed mtDNA depletion and mitochondria with altered ultrastructure, as revealed by transmission electron microscopy. Gene expression microarray analysis showed a strong down-regulation of genes involved in cell cycle and cell proliferation in both tissues, suggesting a lower pool of undifferentiated proliferating cells. Analysis of isolated primary myoblasts from Tk2 knockout mice showed slow proliferation, less ability to differentiate and signs of premature senescence, even in absence of mtDNA depletion. Our data demonstrate that TK2 deficiency disturbs myogenic progenitor cells function in postnatal skeletal muscle and we propose this as one of the causes of underdeveloped phenotype and myopathic characteristic of the TK2 deficient mice, in addition to the progressive mtDNA depletion, mitochondrial damage and respiratory chain deficiency in post-mitotic differentiated tissue.
PMCID: PMC3544874  PMID: 23341978
12.  Endogenous Acute Phase Serum Amyloid A Lacks Pro-Inflammatory Activity, Contrasting the Two Recombinant Variants That Activate Human Neutrophils through Different Receptors 
Most notable among the acute phase proteins is serum amyloid A (SAA), levels of which can increase 1000-fold during infections, aseptic inflammation, and/or trauma. Chronically elevated SAA levels are associated with a wide variety of pathological conditions, including obesity and rheumatic diseases. Using a recombinant hybrid of the two human SAA isoforms (SAA1 and 2) that does not exist in vivo, numerous in vitro studies have given rise to the notion that acute phase SAA is a pro-inflammatory molecule with cytokine-like properties. It is however unclear whether endogenous acute phase SAA per se mediates pro-inflammatory effects. We tested this in samples from patients with inflammatory arthritis and in a transgenic mouse model that expresses human SAA1. Endogenous human SAA did not drive production of pro-inflammatory IL-8/KC in either of these settings. Human neutrophils derived from arthritis patients displayed no signs of activation, despite being exposed to severely elevated SAA levels in circulation, and SAA-rich sera also failed to activate cells in vitro. In contrast, two recombinant SAA variants (the hybrid SAA and SAA1) both activated human neutrophils, inducing L-selectin shedding, production of reactive oxygen species, and production of IL-8. The hybrid SAA was approximately 100-fold more potent than recombinant SAA1. Recombinant hybrid SAA and SAA1 activated neutrophils through different receptors, with recombinant SAA1 being a ligand for formyl peptide receptor 2 (FPR2). We conclude that even though recombinant SAAs can be valuable tools for studying neutrophil activation, they do not reflect the nature of the endogenous protein.
PMCID: PMC3631709  PMID: 23626589
inflammation; neutrophils; acute phase proteins; arthritis
13.  Microglia/Macrophage-Derived Inflammatory Mediators Galectin-3 and Quinolinic Acid are Elevated in Cerebrospinal Fluid from Newborn Infants After Birth Asphyxia 
Translational Stroke Research  2012;4(2):228-235.
Activation of microglia/macrophages is important in neonatal hypoxic–ischemic (HI) brain injury. Based on experimental studies, we identified macrophage/microglia-derived mediators with potential neurotoxic effects after neonatal HI and examined them in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from newborn infants after birth asphyxia. Galectin-3 is a novel inflammatory mediator produced by microglia/macrophages. Galectin-3 is chemotactic for inflammatory cells and activates nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase resulting in production and release of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is a tissue-degrading protease expressed by activated microglia in the immature brain after HI. Both galectin-3 and MMP-9 contribute to brain injury in animal models for neonatal HI. Quinolinic acid (QUIN) is a neurotoxic N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor agonist also produced by activated microglia/macrophages. Galectin-3 and MMP-9 were measured by ELISA and QUIN by mass spectrometry. Asphyxiated infants (n = 20) had higher levels of galectin-3 (mean (SEM) 2.64 (0.43) ng/mL) and QUIN (335.42 (58.9) nM) than controls (n = 15) (1.36 (0.46) ng/mL and 116.56 (16.46) nM, respectively), p < 0.05 and p < 0.01. Infants with septic infections (n = 10) did not differ from controls. Asphyxiated infants with abnormal outcome had higher levels of galectin-3 (3.96 (0.67) ng/mL) than those with normal outcome (1.76 (0.32) ng/mL), p = 0.02, and the difference remained significant in the clinically relevant group of infants with moderate encephalopathy. MMP-9 was detected in few infants with no difference between groups. The potentially neurotoxic macrophage/microglia-derived mediators galectin-3 and QUIN are increased in CSF after birth asphyxia and could serve as markers and may contribute to injury.
PMCID: PMC3685715  PMID: 23807898
Hypoxic–ischemic brain injury; Microglia; Neonate; Cerebrospinal fluid galectin-3; Quinolinic acid
14.  Relation between smoking history and gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinomas 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:22.
Lung cancer is the worldwide leading cause of death from cancer. Tobacco usage is the major pathogenic factor, but all lung cancers are not attributable to smoking. Specifically, lung cancer in never-smokers has been suggested to represent a distinct disease entity compared to lung cancer arising in smokers due to differences in etiology, natural history and response to specific treatment regimes. However, the genetic aberrations that differ between smokers and never-smokers’ lung carcinomas remain to a large extent unclear.
Unsupervised gene expression analysis of 39 primary lung adenocarcinomas was performed using Illumina HT-12 microarrays. Results from unsupervised analysis were validated in six external adenocarcinoma data sets (n=687), and six data sets comprising normal airway epithelial or normal lung tissue specimens (n=467). Supervised gene expression analysis between smokers and never-smokers were performed in seven adenocarcinoma data sets, and results validated in the six normal data sets.
Initial unsupervised analysis of 39 adenocarcinomas identified two subgroups of which one harbored all never-smokers. A generated gene expression signature could subsequently identify never-smokers with 79-100% sensitivity in external adenocarcinoma data sets and with 76-88% sensitivity in the normal materials. A notable fraction of current/former smokers were grouped with never-smokers. Intriguingly, supervised analysis of never-smokers versus smokers in seven adenocarcinoma data sets generated similar results. Overlap in classification between the two approaches was high, indicating that both approaches identify a common set of samples from current/former smokers as potential never-smokers. The gene signature from unsupervised analysis included several genes implicated in lung tumorigenesis, immune-response associated pathways, genes previously associated with smoking, as well as marker genes for alveolar type II pneumocytes, while the best classifier from supervised analysis comprised genes strongly associated with proliferation, but also genes previously associated with smoking.
Based on gene expression profiling, we demonstrate that never-smokers can be identified with high sensitivity in both tumor material and normal airway epithelial specimens. Our results indicate that tumors arising in never-smokers, together with a subset of tumors from smokers, represent a distinct entity of lung adenocarcinomas. Taken together, these analyses provide further insight into the transcriptional patterns occurring in lung adenocarcinoma stratified by smoking history.
PMCID: PMC3447685  PMID: 22676229
Lung cancer; Smoking; Gene expression analysis; Adenocarcinoma; EGFR; Never-smokers; Immune response
16.  Loss of thymidine kinase 2 alters neuronal bioenergetics and leads to neurodegeneration 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(9):1669-1677.
Mutations of thymidine kinase 2 (TK2), an essential component of the mitochondrial nucleotide salvage pathway, can give rise to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes (MDS). These clinically heterogeneous disorders are characterized by severe reduction in mtDNA copy number in affected tissues and are associated with progressive myopathy, hepatopathy and/or encephalopathy, depending in part on the underlying nuclear genetic defect. Mutations of TK2 have previously been associated with an isolated myopathic form of MDS (OMIM 609560). However, more recently, neurological phenotypes have been demonstrated in patients carrying TK2 mutations, thus suggesting that loss of TK2 results in neuronal dysfunction. Here, we directly address the role of TK2 in neuronal homeostasis using a knockout mouse model. We demonstrate that in vivo loss of TK2 activity leads to a severe ataxic phenotype, accompanied by reduced mtDNA copy number and decreased steady-state levels of electron transport chain proteins in the brain. In TK2-deficient cerebellar neurons, these abnormalities are associated with impaired mitochondrial bioenergetic function, aberrant mitochondrial ultrastructure and degeneration of selected neuronal types. Overall, our findings demonstrate that TK2 deficiency leads to neuronal dysfunction in vivo, and have important implications for understanding the mechanisms of neurological impairment in MDS.
PMCID: PMC2850617  PMID: 20123860
17.  Profile of blood cells and inflammatory mediators in periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis and adenitis (PFAPA) syndrome 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:65.
This study aimed to profile levels of blood cells and serum cytokines during afebrile and febrile phases of periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis and adenitis (PFAPA) syndrome to advance pathophysiological understanding of this pediatric disease.
A cohort of patients with a median age of 4.9 years experiencing 'typical PFAPA' episodes participated in this study. Blood cells and serum cytokines were analyzed by CBC analysis and multiplex ELISA.
Oscillations in the concentration of blood cells during the afebrile and febrile phases of typical PFAPA syndrome were observed; novel findings include increased monocytes and decreased eosinophils during a febrile episode and increased thrombocytes in the afebrile interval. Relatively modest levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines were present in sera. IFNγ-induced cytokine IP10/CXCL10 was increased after the onset of fever while T cell-associated cytokines IL7 and IL17 were suppressed during afebrile and febrile periods.
Identification of dysregulated blood cells and serum cytokines is an initial step towards the identification of biomarkers of PFAPA disease and/or players in disease pathogenesis. Future investigations are required to conclusively discern which mediators are associated specifically with PFAPA syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2944328  PMID: 20819226
18.  Mutational Tuning of Galectin-3 Specificity and Biological Function* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(45):35079-35091.
Galectins are defined by a conserved β-galactoside binding site that has been linked to many of their important functions in e.g. cell adhesion, signaling, and intracellular trafficking. Weak adjacent sites may enhance or decrease affinity for natural β-galactoside-containing glycoconjugates, but little is known about the biological role of this modulation of affinity (fine specificity). We have now produced 10 mutants of human galectin-3, with changes in these adjacent sites that have altered carbohydrate-binding fine specificity but that retain the basic β-galactoside binding activity as shown by glycan-array binding and a solution-based fluorescence anisotropy assay. Each mutant was also tested in two biological assays to provide a correlation between fine specificity and function. Galectin-3 R186S, which has selectively lost affinity for LacNAc, a disaccharide moiety commonly found on glycoprotein glycans, has lost the ability to activate neutrophil leukocytes and intracellular targeting into vesicles. K176L has increased affinity for β-galactosides substituted with GlcNAcβ1–3, as found in poly-N-acetyllactosaminoglycans, and increased potency to activate neutrophil leukocytes even though it has lost other aspects of galectin-3 fine specificity. G182A has altered carbohydrate-binding fine specificity and altered intracellular targeting into vesicles, a possible link to the intracellular galectin-3-mediated anti-apoptotic effect known to be lost by this mutant. Finally, the mutants have helped to define the differences in fine specificity shown by Xenopus, mouse, and human galectin-3 and, as such, the evidence for adaptive change during evolution.
PMCID: PMC2966122  PMID: 20807768
Carbohydrate Function; Galactose; Mutant; Neutrophil; Trafficking; Galectin; Specificity
19.  SufA of the Opportunistic Pathogen Finegoldia magna Modulates Actions of the Antibacterial Chemokine MIG/CXCL9, Promoting Bacterial Survival during Epithelial Inflammation* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;284(43):29499-29508.
The anaerobic bacterium Finegoldia magna is part of the human commensal microbiota, but is also an important opportunistic pathogen. This bacterium expresses a subtilisin-like serine proteinase, SufA, which partially degrade the antibacterial chemokine MIG/CXCL9. Here, we show that MIG/CXCL9 is produced by human keratinocytes in response to inflammatory stimuli. In contrast to the virulent human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, the presence of F. magna had no enhancing effect on the MIG/CXCL9 expression by keratinocytes, suggesting poor detection of the latter by pathogen-recognition receptors. When MIG/CXCL9 was exposed to SufA-expressing F. magna, the molecule was processed into several smaller fragments. Analysis by mass spectrometry showed that SufA cleaves MIG/CXCL9 at several sites in the COOH-terminal region of the molecule. At equimolar concentrations, SufA-generated MIG/CXCL9 fragments were not bactericidal against F. magna, but retained their ability to kill S. pyogenes. Moreover, the SufA-generated MIG/CXCL9 fragments were capable of activating the angiostasis-mediating CXCR3 receptor, which is expressed on endothelial cells, in an order of magnitude similar to that of intact MIG/CXCL9. F. magna expresses a surface protein called FAF that is released from the bacterial surface by SufA. Soluble FAF was found to bind and inactivate the antibacterial activity of MIG/CXCL9, thereby further potentially promoting the survival of F. magna. The findings suggest that SufA modulation of the inflammatory response could be a mechanism playing an important role in creating an ecologic niche for F. magna, decreasing antibacterial activity and suppressing angiogenesis, thus providing advantage in survival for this anaerobic opportunist compared with competing pathogens during inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2785583  PMID: 19628464
20.  SpeB of Streptococcus pyogenes Differentially Modulates Antibacterial and Receptor Activating Properties of Human Chemokines 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4769.
CXC chemokines are induced by inflammatory stimuli in epithelial cells and some, like MIG/CXCL9, IP–10/CXCL10 and I–TAC/CXCL11, are antibacterial for Streptococcus pyogenes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
SpeB from S. pyogenes degrades a wide range of chemokines (i.e. IP10/CXCL10, I-TAC/CXCL11, PF4/CXCL4, GROα/CXCL1, GROβ/CXCL2, GROγ/CXCL3, ENA78/CXCL5, GCP-2/CXCL6, NAP-2/CXCL7, SDF-1/CXCL12, BCA-1/CXCL13, BRAK/CXCL14, SRPSOX/CXCL16, MIP-3α/CCL20, Lymphotactin/XCL1, and Fractalkine/CX3CL1), has no activity on IL-8/CXCL8 and RANTES/CCL5, partly degrades SRPSOX/CXCL16 and MIP-3α/CCL20, and releases a 6 kDa CXCL9 fragment. CXCL10 and CXCL11 loose receptor activating and antibacterial activities, while the CXCL9 fragment does not activate the receptor CXCR3 but retains its antibacterial activity.
SpeB destroys most of the signaling and antibacterial properties of chemokines expressed by an inflamed epithelium. The exception is CXCL9 that preserves its antibacterial activity after hydrolysis, emphasizing its role as a major antimicrobial on inflamed epithelium.
PMCID: PMC2652026  PMID: 19274094
21.  Genetic Profiling Differentiates Second Primary Tumors from Metastases in Adult Metachronous Soft Tissue Sarcoma 
Sarcoma  2009;2008:431019.
Purpose. Patients with soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are at increased risk of second primary malignancies, including a second STS, but distinction between metastases and a second primary STS is difficult. Patients and Methods. Array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) was applied to 30 multiple STS of the extremities and the trunk wall from 13 patients. Different histotypes were present with malignant fibrous histiocytomas/undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcomas being the predominant subtype. Results. aCGH profiling revealed genetic complexity with multiple gains and losses in all tumors. In an unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis, similar genomic profiles and close clustering between the first and subsequent STS were identified in 5 cases, suggesting metastatic disease, whereas the tumors from the remaining 8 patients did not cluster and showed only weak pairwise correlation, suggesting development of second primary STS. Discussion. The similarities and dissimilarities identified in the first and second STS suggest that genetic profiles can be used to distinguish soft tissue metastases from second primary STS. The demonstration of genetically different soft tissue sarcomas in the same patient suggests independent tumor origin and serves as a reminder to consider development of second primary STS, which has prognostic and therapeutic implications.
PMCID: PMC2634844  PMID: 19197386
22.  Prognostic Impact of Array-based Genomic Profiles in Esophageal Squamous Cell Cancer 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:98.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a genetically complex tumor type and a major cause of cancer related mortality. Although distinct genetic alterations have been linked to ESCC development and prognosis, the genetic alterations have not gained clinical applicability. We applied array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) to obtain a whole genome copy number profile relevant for identifying deranged pathways and clinically applicable markers.
A 32 k aCGH platform was used for high resolution mapping of copy number changes in 30 stage I-IV ESCC. Potential interdependent alterations and deranged pathways were identified and copy number changes were correlated to stage, differentiation and survival.
Copy number alterations affected median 19% of the genome and included recurrent gains of chromosome regions 5p, 7p, 7q, 8q, 10q, 11q, 12p, 14q, 16p, 17p, 19p, 19q, and 20q and losses of 3p, 5q, 8p, 9p and 11q. High-level amplifications were observed in 30 regions and recurrently involved 7p11 (EGFR), 11q13 (MYEOV, CCND1, FGF4, FGF3, PPFIA, FAD, TMEM16A, CTTS and SHANK2) and 11q22 (PDFG). Gain of 7p22.3 predicted nodal metastases and gains of 1p36.32 and 19p13.3 independently predicted poor survival in multivariate analysis.
aCGH profiling verified genetic complexity in ESCC and herein identified imbalances of multiple central tumorigenic pathways. Distinct gains correlate with clinicopathological variables and independently predict survival, suggesting clinical applicability of genomic profiling in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC2374796  PMID: 18405350
23.  Ability of Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells To Secrete Oxygen Radicals in Response to Formyl Peptide Receptor Family Agonists Compared to That of Myeloid and Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2007;14(3):328-330.
We show that human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DC) differ considerably from freshly isolated blood-derived myeloid and plasmacytoid DC in their abilities to produce reactive oxygen species in response to different agonists to the formyl peptide receptor family and are thus poor representatives of blood DC in this field of research.
PMCID: PMC1828863  PMID: 17215332
24.  Structure of vaccinia virus thymidine kinase in complex with dTTP: insights for drug design 
Development of countermeasures to bioterrorist threats such as those posed by the smallpox virus (variola), include vaccination and drug development. Selective activation of nucleoside analogues by virus-encoded thymidine (dThd) kinases (TK) represents one of the most successful strategies for antiviral chemotherapy as demonstrated for anti-herpes drugs. Vaccinia virus TK is a close orthologue of variola TK but also shares a relatively high sequence identity to human type 2 TK (hTK), thus achieving drug selectivity relative to the host enzyme is challenging.
In order to identify any differences compared to hTK that may be exploitable in drug design, we have determined the crystal structure of VVTK, in complex with thymidine 5'-triphosphate (dTTP). Although most of the active site residues are conserved between hTK and VVTK, we observe a difference in conformation of residues Asp-43 and Arg-45. The equivalent residues in hTK hydrogen bond to dTTP, whereas in subunit D of VVTK, Asp-43 and Arg-45 adopt a different conformation preventing interaction with this nucleotide. Asp-43 and Arg-45 are present in a flexible loop, which is disordered in subunits A, B and C. The observed difference in conformation and flexibility may also explain the ability of VVTK to phosphorylate (South)-methanocarbathymine whereas, in contrast, no substrate activity with hTK is reported for this compound.
The difference in conformation for Asp-43 and Arg-45 could thus be used in drug design to generate VVTK/Variola TK-selective nucleoside analogue substrates and/or inhibitors that have lower affinity for hTK.
PMCID: PMC1636055  PMID: 17062140
25.  Changes in Activation States of Murine Polymorphonuclear Leukocytes (PMN) during Inflammation: a Comparison of Bone Marrow and Peritoneal Exudate PMN 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;13(5):575-583.
To study different activation states in polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) in mice, we compared the function of murine PMN obtained from the bone marrow (BMPMN) with those of PMN obtained by intraperitoneal induction with thioglycolate (TGPMN) or uric acid (UAPMN). When stimulated with chemotactic peptides, e.g., formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF), WKYMVM, or WKYMVm, the TGPMN and UAPMN showed greatly enhanced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) compared with BMPMN, which suggests that exudation to the peritoneum per se induces a primed state in the cells. The WKYMVm peptide was the most potent stimulant of ROS generation, and it desensitized for subsequent stimulation with fMLF or WKYMVM. This desensitization was broken by the addition of cytochalasin B. The TGPMN and UAPMN appeared to be fully primed, since no increase in response was induced by pretreatment with tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). In contrast, the BMPMN response was increased 2.5- to 3-fold. The differences in oxidative responses were supported by degranulation studies. Preincubation with TNF-α promoted CR3 expression on BMPMN, and this level of expression was also enhanced by WKYMVm. In contrast, CR3 expression on untreated TGPMN and UAPMN was already similar to that on TNF-α-primed BMPMN and could be only slightly enhanced by TNF-α treatment. Taken together, these results indicate that BMPMN are in a resting state and have the capacity to become primed, while peritoneal exudate PMN are already fully primed upon isolation. These results have major implications for murine neutrophil research and show the importance of defining which PMN subsets to use when investigating murine models.
PMCID: PMC1459655  PMID: 16682479

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