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1.  Expression and regulation of CCL18 in synovial fluid neutrophils of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by the recruitment of leukocytes and the accumulation of inflammatory mediators within the synovial compartment. Release of the chemokine CCL18 has been widely attributed to antigen-presenting cells, including macrophages and dendritic cells. This study investigates the production of CCL18 in polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN), the predominant cell type recruited into synovial fluid (SF). Microarray analysis, semiquantitative and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction identified SF PMN from patients with RA as a novel source for CCL18 in diseased joints. Highly upregulated expression of other chemokine genes was observed for CCL3, CXCL8 and CXCL10, whereas CCL21 was downregulated. The chemokine receptor genes were differentially expressed, with upregulation of CXCR4, CCRL2 and CCR5 and downregulation of CXCR1 and CXCR2. In cell culture experiments, expression of CCL18 mRNA in blood PMN was induced by tumor necrosis factor α, whereas synthesis of CCL18 protein required additional stimulation with a combination of IL-10 and vitamin D3. In comparison, recruited SF PMN from patients with RA were sensitized for CCL18 production, because IL-10 alone was sufficient to induce CCL18 release. These results suggest a release of the T cell-attracting CCL18 by PMN when recruited to diseased joints. However, its production is tightly regulated at the levels of mRNA expression and protein synthesis.
PMCID: PMC2212580  PMID: 17875202
2.  Expression and Antimicrobial Function of Bactericidal Permeability-Increasing Protein in Cystic Fibrosis Patients  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(8):4708-4714.
In cystic fibrosis (CF), the condition limiting the prognosis of affected children is the chronic obstructive lung disease accompanied by chronic and persistent infection with mostly mucoid strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The majority of CF patients have antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) primarily directed against the bactericidal permeability-increasing protein (BPI) potentially interfering with antimicrobial effects of BPI. We analyzed the expression of BPI in the airways of patients with CF. In their sputum samples or bronchoalveolar lavage specimens, nearly all patients expressed BPI mRNA and protein, which were mainly products of neutrophil granulocytes as revealed by intracellular staining and subsequent flow cytometry. Repeated measurements revealed consistent individual BPI expression levels during several months quantitatively correlating with interleukin-8. In vitro, P. aeruginosa isolates from CF patients initiated the rapid release of BPI occurring independently of protein de novo syntheses. Furthermore, purified natural BPI as well as a 27-mer BPI-derived peptide displayed antimicrobial activity against even patient-derived mucoid P. aeruginosa strains and bacteria resistant against all antibiotics tested. Thus, BPI that is functionally active against mucoid P. aeruginosa strains is expressed in the airways of CF patients but may be hampered by autoantibodies, resulting in chronic infection.
PMCID: PMC1539578  PMID: 16861658
3.  Induction of SAP7 Correlates with Virulence in an Intravenous Infection Model of Candidiasis but Not in a Vaginal Infection Model in Mice  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(10):7061-7063.
SAP7 of Candida albicans is induced after vaginal infection of mice. Conversely, virulence during vaginal infection was not affected in a Δsap7/Δsap7 mutant strain. Only a partial virulence phenotype was detectable after intravenous injection. In conclusion, SAP7 expression does not correlate with C. albicans virulence in mice.
PMCID: PMC1230973  PMID: 16177393
4.  Profile of Candida albicans-Secreted Aspartic Proteinase Elicited during Vaginal Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(3):1828-1835.
Vaginal infections caused by the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans are a significant problem in women of child-bearing age. Several factors are recognized as playing a crucial role in the pathogenesis of superficial candidiasis; these factors include hyphal formation, phenotypic switching, and the expression of virulence factors, including a 10-member family of secreted aspartic proteinases. In the present investigation, we analyzed the secreted aspartic proteinase gene (SAP) expression profile of C. albicans that is elicited in the course of vaginal infection in mice and how this in vivo expression profile is associated with hyphal formation. We utilized two different genetic reporter systems that allowed us to observe SAP expression on a single-cell basis, a recombination-based in vivo expression technology and green fluorescent protein-expressing Candida reporter strains. Of the six SAP genes that were analyzed (SAP1 to SAP6), only SAP4 and SAP5 were detectably induced during infection in this model. Expression of both of these genes was associated with hyphal growth, although not all hyphal cells detectably expressed SAP4 and SAP5. SAP5 expression was induced soon after infection, whereas SAP4 was expressed at later times and in fewer cells compared with SAP5. These findings point to a link between morphogenetic development and expression of virulence genes during Candida vaginitis in mice, where host signals induce both hyphal formation and expression of SAP4 and SAP5, but temporal gene expression patterns are ultimately controlled by other factors.
PMCID: PMC1064921  PMID: 15731084
5.  High Levels of Susceptibility and T Helper 2 Response in MyD88-Deficient Mice Infected with Leishmania major Are Interleukin-4 Dependent 
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(12):7215-7218.
Myeloid differentiation protein 88 (MyD88) is a general adaptor for the signaling cascade through receptors of the Toll/IL-1R family. When infected with Leishmania major parasites, MyD88-deficient mice displayed a dramatically enhanced parasite burden in their tissues similar to that found in susceptible BALB/c mice. In contrast, MyD88 knockout mice did not develop ulcerating lesions despite a lack of interleukin-12 (IL-12) production and a predominant T helper 2 cell response. Blockade of IL-4 produced early (day 1) after infection restored a protective T helper 1 response in MyD88 knockout mice.
PMCID: PMC308890  PMID: 14638820
6.  High Diversity of ankA Sequences of Anaplasma phagocytophilum among Ixodes ricinus Ticks in Germany 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(11):5033-5040.
In Germany humans with acute granulocytic ehrlichiosis have not yet been described. Here, we characterized three different genes of Anaplasma phagocytophilum strains infecting German Ixodes ricinus ticks in order to test whether they differ from strains in other European countries and the United States. A total of 1,022 I. ricinus ticks were investigated for infection with A. phagocytophilum by nested PCR and sequence analysis. Forty-two (4.1%) ticks were infected. For all positive ticks, parts of the 16S rRNA and groESL genes were sequenced. The complete coding sequence of the ankA gene could be determined in 24 samples. The 16S rRNA and groESL gene sequences were as much as 100% identical to known sequences. Fifteen ankA sequences were ≥99.37% identical to sequences derived from humans with granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Europe and from a horse with granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Germany. Thus, German I. ricinus ticks most likely harbor A. phagocytophilum strains that can cause disease in humans. Nine additional sequences were clearly different from known ankA sequences. Because these newly described sequences have never been obtained from diseased humans or animals, their biological significance is currently unknown. Based on this unexpected sequence heterogeneity, we propose to use the ankA gene for further phylogenetic analyses of A. phagocytophilum and to investigate the biology and pathogenicity of strains that differ in the ankA gene.
PMCID: PMC262509  PMID: 14605135
7.  Expression of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase in Skin Lesions of Patients with American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(8):4638-4642.
Cytokine-inducible (or type 2) nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is indispensable for the resolution of Leishmania major or Leishmania donovani infections in mice. In contrast, little is known about the expression and function of iNOS in human leishmaniasis. Here, we show by immunohistological analysis of skin biopsies from Mexican patients with local (LCL) or diffuse (DCL) cutaneous leishmaniasis that the expression of iNOS was most prominent in LCL lesions with small numbers of parasites whereas lesions with a high parasite burden (LCL or DCL) contained considerably fewer iNOS-positive cells. This is the first study to suggest an antileishmanial function of iNOS in human Leishmania infections in vivo.
PMCID: PMC128200  PMID: 12117977
8.  Deficiency in the Transcription Factor Interferon Regulatory Factor (Irf)-2 Leads to Severely Compromised Development of Natural Killer and T Helper Type 1 Cells 
Interferon (IFN) regulatory factor (IRF)-2 was originally described as an antagonist of IRF-1–mediated transcriptional regulation of IFN-inducible genes. IRF-1−/− mice exhibit defective T helper type 1 (Th1) cell differentiation. We have used experimental leishmaniasis to show that, like IRF-1−/− mice, IRF-2−/− mice are susceptible to Leishmania major infection due to a defect in Th1 differentiation. Natural killer (NK) cell development is compromised in both IRF-1−/− and IRF-2−/− mice, but the underlying mechanism differs. NK (but not NK+ T) cell numbers are decreased in IRF-2−/− mice, and the NK cells that are present are immature in phenotype. Therefore, like IRF-1, IRF-2 is required for normal generation of Th1 responses and for NK cell development in vivo. In this particular circumstance the absence of IRF-2 cannot be compensated for by the presence of IRF-1 alone. Mechanistically, IRF-2 may act as a functional agonist rather than antagonist of IRF-1 for some, but not all, IFN-stimulated regulatory element (ISRE)-responsive genes.
PMCID: PMC2193225  PMID: 10934221
interferon regulatory factor; Th1; natural killer cells; Leishmania; interleukin 15
9.  Fibroblasts as Host Cells in Latent Leishmaniosis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2000;191(12):2121-2130.
Intracellular parasites are known to persist lifelong in mammalian hosts after the clinical cure of the disease, but the mechanisms of persistence are poorly understood. Here, we show by confocal laser microscopy that in the draining lymph nodes of mice that had healed a cutaneous infection with Leishmania major, 40% of the persisting parasites were associated with fibroblasts forming the reticular meshwork of the lymph nodes. In vitro, both promastigotes and amastigotes of L. major infected primary skin or lymph node fibroblasts. Compared with macrophages, cytokine-activated fibroblasts had a reduced ability to express type 2 nitric oxide synthase and to kill intracellular L. major. These data identify fibroblasts as an important host cell for Leishmania during the chronic phase of infection and suggest that they might serve as safe targets for the parasites in clinically latent disease.
PMCID: PMC2193203  PMID: 10859337
Leishmania major; fibroblasts; persistent infection; nitric oxide; macrophages
10.  Repression of Hyphal Proteinase Expression by the Mitogen-Activated Protein (MAP) Kinase Phosphatase Cpp1p of Candida albicans Is Independent of the MAP Kinase Cek1p 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(12):7159-7161.
Cpp1p is a putative mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase phosphatase that suppresses Candida albicans hyphal formation at 25°C through its probable substrate, the Cek1p filamentation MAP kinase. Here we report that expression of the serum-induced genes SAP4-6 and HYR1 increased several fold in hyphal forms of a cpp1/cpp1 null mutant, while the rate and extent of hyphal development up to 5 h were normal. Therefore, we provide evidence that Cpp1p represses hyphal gene expression by acting through a Cek1p-independent mechanism. SAP4-6 and HYR1 transcripts were undetectable in a null mutant of another key regulator of filamentation, Efg1p; thus, Efg1p and Cpp1p oppose each other during the expression of these genes in hyphal forms.
PMCID: PMC97832  PMID: 11083847
11.  Tumor Necrosis Factor Sustains the Generalized Lymphoproliferative Disorder (gld) Phenotype 
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and Fas ligand (FasL) play major roles in the homeostasis of the peripheral immune system. This becomes dramatically obvious in the absence of a functional FasL. Mice with such a deficiency develop a profound lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, hypergammaglobulinemia, and strain-dependent systemic autoimmune disease, and succumb to premature death. It is consequently termed generalized lymphoproliferative disorder (gld). By contrast, TNF deficiency alone does not result in a striking phenotype. Thus, we sought to determine what role TNF might play in contributing to the gld phenotype by creating C57BL/6.gld.TNF−/− mice. Contrary to the expected outcome, mice deficient for both FasL and TNF had a substantially milder gld phenotype with regard to mortality, lymphoaccumulation, germinal center formation, and hypergammaglobulinemia. To confirm these data in a strain highly permissive for the phenotype, C3H/HeJ.gld and C3H.HeJ.lpr mice were treated with a TNF-specific monoclonal antibody. This transient neutralization of TNF also resulted in a significantly attenuated lymphoproliferative phenotype. We conclude that TNF is necessary for the full manifestation of the lymphoproliferative disorder, in particular playing a critical role in lymphoaccumulation. Most importantly, absence of TNF protects gld mice against premature death.
PMCID: PMC2195803  PMID: 10620607
lymphoproliferation; apoptosis; lymphadenopathy; Fas ligand; gene targeting
12.  Prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi and Granulocytic and Monocytic Ehrlichiae in Ixodes ricinus Ticks from Southern Germany 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(11):3448-3451.
A total of 287 adult Ixodes ricinus ticks, collected in two regions of southern Germany (Frankonia and Baden-Württemberg) where Borrelia burgdorferi infections are known to be endemic, were examined for the presence of 16S ribosomal DNA specific for the Ehrlichia phagocytophila genogroup, E. chaffeensis, E. canis, and B. burgdorferi by nested PCR. Totals of 2.2% (6 of 275) and 21.8% (65 of 275) of the ticks were positive for the E. phagocytophila genogroup and B. burgdorferi, respectively. Two ticks (0.7%) were coinfected with both bacteria. Of 12 engorged I. ricinus ticks collected from two deer, 8 (67%) were positive for the E. phagocytophila genogroup and one (8%) was positive for B. burgdorferi. There was no evidence of infection with E. canis or E. chaffeensis in the investigated tick population. The nucleotide sequences of the 546-bp Ehrlichia PCR products differed at one or two positions from the original sequence of the human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) agent (S.-M. Chen, J. S. Dumler, J. S. Bakken, and D. H. Walker, J. Clin. Microbiol. 32:589–595, 1994). Three groups of sequence variants were detected; two of these were known to occur in other areas in Europe or the United States, whereas one has not been reported before. Thus, in the German I. ricinus tick population closely related granulocytic ehrlichiae are prevalent, which might represent variants of E. phagocytophila or the HGE agent.
PMCID: PMC85664  PMID: 10523532
13.  Quantitative Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi by Real-Time PCR 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(6):1958-1963.
Currently, no easy and reliable methods allowing for the quantification of Borrelia burgdorferi in tissues of infected humans or animals are available. Due to the lack of suitable assays to detect B. burgdorferi CFU and the qualitative nature of the currently performed PCR assays, we decided to exploit the recently developed real-time PCR. This technology measures the release of fluorescent oligonucleotides during the PCR. Flagellin of B. burgdorferi was chosen as the target sequence. A linear quantitative detection range of 5 logs with a calculated detection limit of one to three spirochetes per assay reaction mixture was observed. The fact that no signals were obtained with closely related organisms such as Borrelia hermsii argues for a high specificity of this newly developed method. A similar method was developed to quantify mouse actin genomic sequences to allow for the standardization of spirochete load. The specificity and sensitivity of the B. burgdorferi and the actin real-time PCR were not altered when samples were spiked with mouse cells or spirochetes, respectively. To evaluate the applicability of the real-time PCR, we used the mouse model of Lyme disease. The fate of B. burgdorferi was monitored in different tissues from inbred mice and from mice treated with antibiotics. Susceptible C3H/HeJ mice had markedly higher burdens of bacterial DNA than resistant BALB/c mice, and penicillin G treatment significantly reduced the numbers of spirochetes. Since these results show a close correlation between clinical symptoms and bacterial burden of tissues, we are currently analyzing human biopsy specimens to evaluate the real-time PCR in a diagnostic setting.
PMCID: PMC84995  PMID: 10325354
14.  Antrum- and Corpus Mucosa-Infiltrating CD4+ Lymphocytes in Helicobacter pylori Gastritis Display a Th1 Phenotype 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(11):5543-5546.
In this study, cytokine patterns produced by CD4+ T cells isolated from antrum or corpus gastral biopsy specimens of 10 patients with Helicobacter pylori-positive gastritis were compared. To this end, expression of intracellular cytokines (interleukin-4 [IL-4] and gamma interferon) and of CD4 was assessed by flow cytometry. Ten to 60% of the isolated CD4+ T cells produced gamma interferon upon stimulation. With the exception of one patient, IL-4-positive CD4+ cells were not detected. Therefore, CD4+ cells infiltrating antrum and corpus stomach mucosa during H. pylori infection show a Th1 phenotype. This polarized Th1-type response may contribute to the inability of the immune system to eradicate H. pylori infection.
PMCID: PMC108696  PMID: 9784570
15.  Effective and Long-Lasting Immunity against the Parasite Leishmania major in CD8-Deficient Mice 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(8):3968-3970.
The results of earlier investigations that tested whether CD8+ T cells are required in the defense against Leishmania major have been inconsistent. We used CD8-deficient mice to directly address this issue. After primary infection with L. major, CD8-deficient mice controlled the infection for over 1 year and mounted strong T helper 1 cell responses. Thus, CD8+ T cells are not required for the long-term control of a primary infection with L. major.
PMCID: PMC108466  PMID: 9673288
16.  Interleukin 2 Induction in Lyt 1+23− T Cells from Listeria monocytogenes-Immune Mice 
Infection and Immunity  1982;37(3):1292-1294.
Peritoneal exudate T lymphocytes from mice experimentally infected with the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes secreted high interleukin 2 activities after interaction with syngeneic normal macrophage presenting listerial antigen in vitro. L. monocytogenes-immune cells secreting IL 2 were radioresistant and bore the phenotype Thy 1+ Lyt 1+23−.
PMCID: PMC347679  PMID: 6127317
Induction of tumor-specific immunity in vitro was accomplished by cocultivation of cortisone-resistant murine thymocytes or spleen cells with irradiated syngeneic plasma cell tumors (PCT). The cytotoxic activity generated could be detected in a short-term 51Cr-release assay. Optimal cytotoxic activity against PCT-associated transplantation antigens (TATA) was generated after 7 days in culture. Unlike cytotoxic responses to tumor allografts in which the cytotoxic activity was directed against allogeneic transplantation antigens, the cytotoxic activity obtained in the syngeneic tumor system was specific to the immunizing syngeneic PCT. Similar parameters of induction of cytotoxic responses in in vitro tumor allograft responses and in the syngeneic tumor system suggested that both reactions are cell-mediated cytotoxic immune responses. With regard to the magnitude of cytotoxic responses obtained, allogeneic transplantation antigens induced about a 30-fold higher cytotoxic immune response than plasma cell TATA. The results are consistent with the concept that in vitro tumor allograft responses and in vitro responses against TATA of PCT are similar in quality, but differ in the magnitude of the cytotoxic response provoked.
PMCID: PMC2180543  PMID: 4541509
18.  Derepressed Hyphal Growth and Reduced Virulence in a VH1 Family-related Protein Phosphatase Mutant of the Human Pathogen Candida albicans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1997;8(12):2539-2551.
Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases are pivotal components of eukaryotic signaling cascades. Phosphorylation of tyrosine and threonine residues activates MAP kinases, but either dual-specificity or monospecificity phosphatases can inactivate them. The Candida albicans CPP1 gene, a structural member of the VH1 family of dual- specificity phosphatases, was previously cloned by its ability to block the pheromone response MAP kinase cascade in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cpp1p inactivated mammalian MAP kinases in vitro and acted as a tyrosine-specific enzyme. In C. albicans a MAP kinase cascade can trigger the transition from the budding yeast form to a more invasive filamentous form. Disruption of the CPP1 gene in C. albicans derepressed the yeast to hyphal transition at ambient temperatures, on solid surfaces. A hyphal growth rate defect under physiological conditions in vitro was also observed and could explain a reduction in virulence associated with reduced fungal burden in the kidneys seen in a systemic mouse model. A hyper-hyphal pathway may thus have some detrimental effects on C. albicans cells. Disruption of the MAP kinase homologue CEK1 suppressed the morphological effects of the CPP1 disruption in C. albicans. The results presented here demonstrate the biological importance of a tyrosine phosphatase in cell-fate decisions and virulence in C. albicans.
PMCID: PMC25726  PMID: 9398674

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