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1.  The pathophysiology of hypertension in patients with obesity 
Nature reviews. Endocrinology  2014;10(6):364-376.
The combination of obesity and hypertension is associated with high morbidity and mortality because it leads to cardiovascular and kidney disease. Potential mechanisms linking obesity to hypertension include dietary factors, metabolic, endothelial and vascular dysfunction, neuroendocrine imbalances, sodium retention, glomerular hyperfiltration, proteinuria, and maladaptive immune and inflammatory responses. Visceral adipose tissue also becomes resistant to insulin and leptin and is the site of altered secretion of molecules and hormones such as adiponectin, leptin, resistin, TNF and IL-6, which exacerbate obesity-associated cardiovascular disease. Accumulating evidence also suggests that the gut microbiome is important for modulating these mechanisms. Uric acid and altered incretin or dipeptidyl peptidase 4 activity further contribute to the development of hypertension in obesity. The pathophysiology of obesity-related hypertension is especially relevant to premenopausal women with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus who are at high risk of developing arterial stiffness and endothelial dysfunction. In this Review we discuss the relationship between obesity and hypertension with special emphasis on potential mechanisms and therapeutic targeting that might be used in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC4308954  PMID: 24732974
2.  Genomic Features of a Bumble Bee Symbiont Reflect Its Host Environment 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(13):3793-3803.
Here, we report the genome of one gammaproteobacterial member of the gut microbiota, for which we propose the name “Candidatus Schmidhempelia bombi,” that was inadvertently sequenced alongside the genome of its host, the bumble bee, Bombus impatiens. This symbiont is a member of the recently described bacterial order Orbales, which has been collected from the guts of diverse insect species; however, “Ca. Schmidhempelia” has been identified exclusively with bumble bees. Metabolic reconstruction reveals that “Ca. Schmidhempelia” lacks many genes for a functioning NADH dehydrogenase I, all genes for the high-oxygen cytochrome o, and most genes in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. “Ca. Schmidhempelia” has retained NADH dehydrogenase II, the low-oxygen specific cytochrome bd, anaerobic nitrate respiration, mixed-acid fermentation pathways, and citrate fermentation, which may be important for survival in low-oxygen or anaerobic environments found in the bee hindgut. Additionally, a type 6 secretion system, a Flp pilus, and many antibiotic/multidrug transporters suggest complex interactions with its host and other gut commensals or pathogens. This genome has signatures of reduction (2.0 megabase pairs) and rearrangement, as previously observed for genomes of host-associated bacteria. A survey of wild and laboratory B. impatiens revealed that “Ca. Schmidhempelia” is present in 90% of individuals and, therefore, may provide benefits to its host.
PMCID: PMC4054214  PMID: 24747890
3.  Salt Loading Exacerbates Diastolic Dysfunction and Cardiac Remodeling in Young Female Ren2 Rats 
Metabolism: clinical and experimental  2013;62(12):10.1016/j.metabol.2013.08.010.
Recent data would suggest pre-menopausal insulin resistant women are more prone to diastolic dysfunction than men, yet it is unclear why. We and others have reported that transgenic (mRen2)27 (Ren2) rats overexpressing the murine renin transgene are insulin resistant due to oxidative stress in insulin sensitive tissues. As increased salt intake promotes inflammation and oxidative stress, we hypothesized that excess dietary salt would promote diastolic dysfunction in transgenic females under conditions of excess tissue Ang II and circulating aldosterone levels.
For this purpose we evaluated cardiac function in young female Ren2 rats or age-matched Sprague-Dawley (SD) littermates exposed to a high (4%) salt or normal rat chow intake for three weeks.
Compared to SD littermates, at 10 weeks of age, female Ren2 rats fed normal chow showed elevations in left ventricular (LV) systolic pressures, LV and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, and displayed reductions in LV initial filling rate accompanied by increases in 3-nitrotyrosine content as a marker of oxidant stress. Following 3 weeks of a salt diet, female Ren2 rats exhibited no further changes in LV systolic pressure, insulin resistance, or markers of hypertrophy but exaggerated increases in type 1 collagen, 3-nitrotryosine content, and diastolic dysfunction. These findings occurred in parallel with ultrastructural findings of pericapillary fibrosis, increased LV remodeling, and mitochondrial biogenesis.
These data suggest that a diet high in salt in hypertensive female Ren2 rats promotes greater oxidative stress, maladaptive LV remodeling, fibrosis, and associated diastolic dysfunction without further changes in LV systolic pressure or hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC3833978  PMID: 24075738
angiotensin II; TG (mRen2) 27 rat; Diastolic Dysfunction; Cardiac Remodeling; Oxidative Stress; Perivascular Fibrosis
4.  Maladaptive immune and inflammatory pathways lead to cardiovascular insulin resistance 
Metabolism: clinical and experimental  2013;62(11):10.1016/j.metabol.2013.07.001.
Insulin resistance is a hallmark of obesity, the cardiorenal metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The progression of insulin resistance increases the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The significance of insulin resistance is underscored by the alarming rise in the prevalence of obesity and its associated comorbidities in the Unites States and worldwide over the last 40-50 years. The incidence of obesity is also on the rise in adolescents. Furthermore, premenopausal women have lower CVD risk compared to men, but this protection is lost in the setting of obesity and insulin resistance. Although systemic and cardiovascular insulin resistance are associated with impaired insulin metabolic signaling and cardiovascular dysfunction, the mechanisms underlying insulin resistance and cardiovascular dysfunction remain poorly understood. Recent studies show that insulin resistance in obesity and diabetes is linked to a metabolic inflammatory response, a state of systemic and tissue specific chronic low grade inflammation. Evidence is also emerging that there is polarization of macrophages and lymphocytes towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype that contribute to progression of insulin resistance in obesity, cardiorenal metabolic syndrome and diabetes. In this review, we provide new insights into factors, such as, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, sympathetic activation and incretin modulators (e.g., DPP-4) and immune responses that mediate this inflammatory state in obesity and other conditions characterized by insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3809332  PMID: 23932846
Obesity; DPP-4; immunity; uric acid; gender
6.  Renin Inhibition and AT1R blockade improve metabolic signaling, oxidant stress and myocardial tissue remodeling 
Strategies that block angiotensin II actions on its angiotensin type 1 receptor or inhibit actions of aldosterone have been shown to reduce myocardial hypertrophy and interstitial fibrosis in states of insulin resistance. Thereby, we sought to determine if combination of direct renin inhibition with angiotensin type 1 receptor blockade in vivo, through greater reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and aldosterone would attenuate left ventricular hypertrophy and interstitial fibrosis to a greater extent than either intervention alone.
We utilized the transgenic Ren2 rat which manifests increased tissue expression of murine renin which, in turn, results in increased renin-angiotensin system activity, aldosterone secretion and insulin resistance. Ren2 rats were treated with aliskiren, valsartan, the combination (aliskiren+valsartan), or vehicle for 21 days.
Compared to Sprague-Dawley controls, Ren2 rats displayed increased systolic blood pressure, elevated serum aldosterone levels, cardiac tissue hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis and ultrastructural remodeling. These biochemical and functional alterations were accompanied by increases in the NADPH oxidase subunit Nox2 and 3-nitrotyrosine content along with increases in mammalian target of rapamycin and reductions in protein kinase B phosphorylation. Combination therapy contributed to greater reductions in systolic blood pressure and serum aldosterone but did not result in greater improvement in metabolic signaling or markers of oxidative stress, fibrosis or hypertrophy beyond either intervention alone.
Thereby, our data suggest that the greater impact of combination therapy on reductions in aldosterone does not translate into greater reductions in myocardial fibrosis or hypertrophy in this transgenic model of tissue renin overexpression.
PMCID: PMC3640616  PMID: 23352204
Direct Renin Inhibition; Angiotensin II Type 1 receptor; Echocardiography; Ren2 rat
7.  Physiotherapy Needs Assessment of People with Stroke Following Discharge from Hospital, Stratified by Acute Functional Independence Measure Score 
Physiotherapy Canada  2013;65(3):204-214.
Purpose: To determine the physiotherapy-related needs of people with stroke at discharge, 6 months after discharge, and 1 year after discharge from hospital, and to examine the results stratified by participants' acute Functional Independence Measure (FIM) scores. Methods: A total of 241 adults with recent stroke were recruited into this longitudinal cohort study. As well as participating in a semi-structured interview that included questions about mobility needs and barriers, participants were asked to complete and return a closed-ended needs-assessment survey. Results: During the interview, participants reported needs and barriers related to motor control, walking, stairs, fatigue, prevention of falls, and access to physiotherapy services. The survey identified many more needs, including transfers, wheelchair use, higher-level balance and mobility skills, and access to physiotherapy and suitable exercise facilities. Frequencies of needs and barriers tended to be lower among participants with higher acute FIM scores. There was no consistent trend for needs and barriers to decrease over time. Conclusions: Over the first year after discharge from hospital, people with stroke report a large and varied number of persistent mobility-related needs. Physiotherapists have a role to play in advocating for adequate follow-up services and informing health policy with respect to the needs of their patients with stroke.
PMCID: PMC3740982  PMID: 24403687
mobility limitation; needs assessment; rehabilitation; stroke; AVC; évaluation des besoins; spécialité de la physiothérapie; limitations dans la mobilité; réadaptation
8.  Mutation and Gender Specific Risk in Type-2 Long QT Syndrome 
Men and women with type-2 long QT syndrome (LQT2) exhibit time-dependent differences in the risk for cardiac events. We hypothesized that data regarding the location of the disease-causing mutation in the KCNH2 channel may affect gender-specific risk in LQT2
To risk stratify LQT2 patients for life-threatening cardiac events based on clinical and genetic information.
The risk for life-threatening cardiac events from birth through age 40 (comprising aborted cardiac arrest [ACA] or sudden cardiac death [SCD]) years was assessed among 1,166 LQT2 males (n=490) and females (n=676) by the location of the LQTS-causing mutation in the KCNH2 channel (pre-specified in the primary analysis as pore-loop vs. nonpore-loop).
During follow-up, the cumulative probability of life-threatening cardiac events years was significantly higher among LQT2 women (26%) as compared with men (14%; p<0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that the risk for life-threatening cardiac events was not significantly different between women with and without pore-loop mutations (HR=1.20; p=0.33). In contrast, men with pore-loop mutations displayed a significant >2-fold higher risk of a first ACA or SCD as compared with those with nonpore-loop mutations (HR=2.18; p=0.01). Consistently, women experienced a high rate of life-threatening events regardless of mutation-location (pore-loop: 35%, nonpore-loop: 23%), whereas in men the rate of ACA or SCD was high among those with pore-loop mutations (28%) and relatively low among those with nonpore-loop mutations (8%).
Combined assessment of clinical and mutation-specific data can be used for improved risk stratification for life-threatening cardiac events in type-2 long QT syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4028036  PMID: 21440677
long-QT syndrome; pore-loop mutations; sudden cardiac death; gender
9.  Inhibition of Fungal Plant Pathogens by Synergistic Action of Chito-Oligosaccharides and Commercially Available Fungicides 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93192.
Chitosan is a linear heteropolymer consisting of β 1,4-linked N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) and D-glucosamine (GlcN). We have compared the antifungal activity of chitosan with DPn (average degree of polymerization) 206 and FA (fraction of acetylation) 0.15 and of enzymatically produced chito-oligosaccharides (CHOS) of different DPn alone and in combination with commercially available synthetic fungicides, against Botrytis cinerea, the causative agent of gray mold in numerous fruit and vegetable crops. CHOS with DPn in the range of 15–40 had the greatest anti-fungal activity. The combination of CHOS and low dosages of synthetic fungicides showed synergistic effects on antifungal activity in both in vitro and in vivo assays. Our study shows that CHOS enhance the activity of commercially available fungicides. Thus, addition of CHOS, available as a nontoxic byproduct of the shellfish industry, may reduce the amounts of fungicides that are needed to control plant diseases.
PMCID: PMC4000203  PMID: 24770723
10.  The Draft Genome Sequence of European Pear (Pyrus communis L. ‘Bartlett’) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92644.
We present a draft assembly of the genome of European pear (Pyrus communis) ‘Bartlett’. Our assembly was developed employing second generation sequencing technology (Roche 454), from single-end, 2 kb, and 7 kb insert paired-end reads using Newbler (version 2.7). It contains 142,083 scaffolds greater than 499 bases (maximum scaffold length of 1.2 Mb) and covers a total of 577.3 Mb, representing most of the expected 600 Mb Pyrus genome. A total of 829,823 putative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were detected using re-sequencing of ‘Louise Bonne de Jersey’ and ‘Old Home’. A total of 2,279 genetically mapped SNP markers anchor 171 Mb of the assembled genome. Ab initio gene prediction combined with prediction based on homology searching detected 43,419 putative gene models. Of these, 1219 proteins (556 clusters) are unique to European pear compared to 12 other sequenced plant genomes. Analysis of the expansin gene family provided an example of the quality of the gene prediction and an insight into the relationships among one class of cell wall related genes that control fruit softening in both European pear and apple (Malus×domestica). The ‘Bartlett’ genome assembly v1.0 ( is an invaluable tool for identifying the genetic control of key horticultural traits in pear and will enable the wide application of marker-assisted and genomic selection that will enhance the speed and efficiency of pear cultivar development.
PMCID: PMC3974708  PMID: 24699266
11.  Molecular and Metabolic Mechanisms of Cardiac Dysfunction in Diabetes 
Life sciences  2012;92(11):601-608.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM) is a widespread chronic medical condition with prevalence bordering on the verge of an epidemic. It is of great concern that cardiovascular disease is more common in patients with diabetes than the non-diabetic population. While hypertensive and ischemic heart disease is more common in diabetic patients, there is another type of heart disease in diabetes that is not associated with hypertension or coronary artery disease. This muscle functional disorder is termed “diabetic cardiomyopathy”. Diastolic dysfunction characterized by impaired diastolic relaxation time and reduced contractility precedes systolic dysfunction and is the main pathogenic hallmark of this condition. Even though the pathogenesis of “diabetic cardiomyopathy” is still controversial, impaired cardiac insulin sensitivity and metabolic overload are emerging as major molecular and metabolic mechanisms for cardiac dysfunction. Systemic insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, dysregulation of adipokine secretion, increases in circulating levels of inflammatory mediators, aberrant activation of renin angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS), and increased oxidative stress contribute dysregulated insulin and metabolic signaling in the heart and development of diastolic dysfunction. In addition, maladaptive calcium homeostasis and endothelial cell dysregulation endoplasmic reticular stress play a potential role in cardiomyocyte fibrosis/diastolic dysfunction. In this review, we will focus on emerging molecular and metabolic pathways underlying cardiac dysfunction in diabetes. Elucidation of these mechanisms should provide a better understanding of the various cardiac abnormalities associated with diastolic dysfunction and its progression to systolic dysfunction and heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3594135  PMID: 23147391
Diabetes; RAAS; Cardiac Dysfunction; Cardiorenal Metabolic syndrome; Diabetic Cardiomyopathy; Insulin Resistance
12.  Heterologous Protein Secretion in Lactobacilli with Modified pSIP Vectors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91125.
We describe new variants of the modular pSIP-vectors for inducible gene expression and protein secretion in lactobacilli. The basic functionality of the pSIP system was tested in Lactobacillus strains representing 14 species using pSIP411, which harbors the broad-host-range Lactococcus lactis SH71rep replicon and a β-glucuronidase encoding reporter gene. In 10 species, the inducible gene expression system was functional. Based on these results, three pSIP vectors with different signal peptides were modified by replacing their narrow-host-range L. plantarum 256rep replicon with SH71rep and transformed into strains of five different species of Lactobacillus. All recombinant strains secreted the target protein NucA, albeit with varying production levels and secretion efficiencies. The Lp_3050 derived signal peptide generally resulted in the highest levels of secreted NucA. These modified pSIP vectors are useful tools for engineering a wide variety of Lactobacillus species.
PMCID: PMC3948729  PMID: 24614815
13.  Risk Factors for Aborted Cardiac Arrest and Sudden Cardiac Death in Children with the Congenital Long-QT Syndrome 
Circulation  2008;117(17):2184-2191.
The congenital long-QT syndrome (LQTS) is an important cause of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in children without structural heart disease. However, specific risk factors for life-threatening cardiac events in children with this genetic disorder have not been identified
Methods and Results
Cox proportional hazards regression modeling was used to identify risk factors for aborted cardiac arrest (ACA) or SCD in 3,015 LQTS children from the International LQTS Registry who were followed up from age 1 through 12 years. The cumulative probability of the combined end point was significantly higher in males (5%) than in females (1%; p<0.001). Risk factors for ACA or SCD during childhood included QTc duration >500 msec (HR=2.72 [95%CI 1.50 - 4.92]; p=0.001) and prior syncope (recent syncope [<2 years]: HR=6.16 [95%CI 3.41 - 11.15], p<0.001; remote syncope [≥2 years]: HR=2.67 [95% CI 1.22 - 5.85], p=0.01) in males, whereas prior syncope was the only significant risk factor among females (recent syncope: HR=27.82 [95%CI 9.72 - 79.60], p<0.001]; remote syncope: HR=12.04 [95%CI 3.79 - 38.26], p<0.001). β-blocker therapy was associated with a significant 53% reduction in the risk of ACA or SCD (p=0.01).
LQTS males experience a significantly higher rate of fatal or near-fatal cardiac events than females during childhood. A QTc duration >500 msec and a history of prior syncope identify risk in males, whereas prior syncope is the only significant risk factor among females. β-blocker therapy is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of life-threatening cardiac events during childhood.
PMCID: PMC3944375  PMID: 18427136
long-QT syndrome; risk factors; sudden death
14.  Establishment of a Simple Lactobacillus plantarum Cell Consortium for Cellulase-Xylanase Synergistic Interactions 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(17):5242-5249.
Lactobacillus plantarum is an attractive candidate for bioprocessing of lignocellulosic biomass due to its high metabolic variability, including its ability to ferment both pentoses and hexoses, as well as its high acid tolerance, a quality often utilized in industrial processes. This bacterium grows naturally on biomass; however, it lacks the inherent ability to deconstruct lignocellulosic substrates. As a first step toward engineering lignocellulose-converting lactobacilli, we have introduced genes coding for a GH6 cellulase and a GH11 xylanase from a highly active cellulolytic bacterium into L. plantarum. For this purpose, we employed the recently developed pSIP vectors for efficient secretion of heterologous proteins. Both enzymes were secreted by L. plantarum at levels estimated at 0.33 nM and 3.3 nM, for the cellulase and xylanase, respectively, in culture at an optical density at 600 nm (OD600) of 1. Transformed cells demonstrated the ability to degrade individually either cellulose or xylan and wheat straw. When mixed together to form a two-strain cell-based consortium secreting both cellulase and xylanase, they exhibited synergistic activity in the overall release of soluble sugar from wheat straw. This result paves the way toward metabolic harnessing of L. plantarum for novel biorefining applications, such as production of ethanol and polylactic acid directly from plant biomass.
PMCID: PMC3753964  PMID: 23811500
15.  New Type of Antimicrobial Protein Produced by the Plant Pathogen Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(18):5721-5727.
It has previously been shown that the tomato pathogen Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis secretes a 14-kDa protein, C. michiganensis subsp. michiganensis AMP-I (CmmAMP-I), that inhibits growth of Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus, the causal agent of bacterial ring rot of potato. Using sequences obtained from tryptic fragments, we have identified the gene encoding CmmAMP-I and we have recombinantly produced the protein with an N-terminal intein tag. The gene sequence showed that CmmAMP-I contains a typical N-terminal signal peptide for Sec-dependent secretion. The recombinant protein was highly active, with 50% growth inhibition (IC50) of approximately 10 pmol, but was not toxic to potato leaves or tubers. CmmAMP-I does not resemble any known protein and thus represents a completely new type of bacteriocin. Due to its high antimicrobial activity and its very narrow inhibitory spectrum, CmmAMP-1 may be of interest in combating potato ring rot disease.
PMCID: PMC3754172  PMID: 23851100
16.  Cardiac work-up protocol for liver transplant candidates: Experience from a single liver transplant centre 
Ischemic cardiac events can cause significant morbidity and mortality postliver transplantation; however, no validated protocols to screen patients before transplantation exist.
To report the introduction of a noninvasive cardiac screening protocol used at the Liver Unit, University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta); to determine whether the protocol decreases use of coronary angiograms; and to compare cardiac outcomes using the new protocol with an appropriately matched historical control group.
A new cardiac screening protocol was introduced into the program in 2005, which uses perfusion scintigraphy to screen high-risk cardiac patients, reserving coronary angiograms for abnormal results. Transplanted patients screened using this protocol were compared with matched historical controls. Electronic charts were reviewed for cardiac outcomes intra- and postliver transplantation.
A total of 396 patients were screened between April 2005 and February 2009. Eighty-two were transplanted by February 2009 and included in the study. Eighty-one patients were successfully matched according to age, sex, cardiac history and presence of diabetes. Twelve of 82 (14.6%) and 11 of 81 (13.6%) in the study and control groups, respectively, underwent coronary angiograms (P=0.85). Coronary artery disease was found in six of 12 (50.0%) study patients and three of 11 (27.3%) control patients who underwent coronary angiography (P=0.27). The mean (± SD) length of the follow-up period was 1.87±0.91 years and 4.45±1.89 years in the study and control groups, respectively. One of 81 in the control group and zero of 82 in the study group experienced an acute coronary syndrome event postoperatively.
Coronary events are infrequent in liver transplant recipients. The described protocol is an effective method of coronary artery disease screening before liver transplant but does not reduce the number of cardiac investigations performed.
PMCID: PMC3495698  PMID: 23166904
Acute coronary syndrome; Coronary angiogram; Coronary artery disease; Liver transplantation; Myocardial perfusion imaging
17.  Clinical, Pathologic, and Functional Outcomes After Nephron-Sparing Surgery in Patients with a Solitary Kidney: A Multicenter Experience 
Journal of Endourology  2012;26(10):1361-1366.
Background and Purpose
Surgical management of a renal neoplasm in a solitary kidney is a balance between oncologic control and preservation of renal function. We analyzed patients with a renal mass in a solitary kidney undergoing nephron-sparing procedures to determine perioperative, oncologic, and renal functional outcomes.
Patients and Methods
A multicenter study was performed from 12 institutions. All patients with a functional or anatomic solitary kidney who underwent nephron-sparing surgery for one or more renal masses were included. Tumor size, complications, and recurrence rates were recorded. Renal function was assessed with serum creatinine level and estimated glomerular filtration rate.
Ninety-eight patients underwent 105 ablations, and 100 patients underwent partial nephrectomy (PN). Preoperative estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was similar between the groups. Tumors managed with PN were significantly larger than those managed with ablation (P<0.001). Ablations were associated with a lower overall complication rate (9.5% vs 24%, P=0.01) and higher local recurrence rate (6.7% vs 3%, P=0.04). Eighty-four patients had a preoperative eGFR ≥60 mL/min/1.73 m2. Among these patients, 19 (23%) fell below this threshold after 3 months and 15 (18%) at 12 months. Postoperatively, there was no significant difference in eGFR between the groups.
Extirpation and ablation are both reasonable options for treatment. Ablation is more minimally invasive, albeit with higher recurrence rates compared with PN. Postoperative renal function is similar in both groups and is not affected by surgical approach.
PMCID: PMC3727568  PMID: 22667344
18.  Soluble HMGB1 Is a Novel Adipokine Stimulating IL-6 Secretion through RAGE Receptor in SW872 Preadipocyte Cell Line: Contribution to Chronic Inflammation in Fat Tissue 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e76039.
Low-grade inflammation (LGI) is a central phenomenon in the genesis of obesity and insulin-resistance characterized by IL-6 in human serum. Whereas this LGI was initially thought to be mainly attributed to macrophage activation, it is now known that pre-adipocytes and adipocytes secrete several adipokines including IL-6 and participate to LGI and associated pathologies. In macrophages, HMGB1 is a nuclear yet secreted protein and acts as a cytokine to drive the production of inflammatory molecules through RAGE and TLR2/4. In this paper we tested the secretion of HMGB1 and the auto- and paracrine contribution to fat inflammation using the human preadipocyte cell line SW872 as a model. We showed that 1) human SW872 secreted actively HMGB1, 2) IL-6 production was positively linked to high levels of secreted HMGB1, 3) recombinant HMGB1 boosted IL-6 expression and this effect was mediated by the receptor RAGE and did not involve TLR2 or TLR4. These results suggest that HMGB1 is a major adipokine contributing to LGI implementation and maintenance, and can be considered as a target to develop news therapeutics in LGI associated pathologies such as obesity and type II diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3779194  PMID: 24073286
19.  MAGE-A3-specific anticancer immunotherapy in the clinical practice 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(10):e25995.
Antigen-specific immunotherapy may offer a unique approach to fight cancer. We have demonstrated that specific immunotherapeutic regimens involving recombinant melanoma antigen family A3 (MAGE-A3) and different immunostimulants exert clinical anticancer activity. In particular, the combination of recombinant MAGE-A3 and AS15, a multicomponent immunostimulant, was found to elicit robust antigen-specific immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3827067  PMID: 24244898
biomarkers; cancer; immunotherapy; immunization; MAGE-A3
20.  Increased Duration of Dual Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin Therapy for Genotype 1 Hepatitis C Post-liver Transplantation Increases Sustained Virologic Response: A Retrospective Review 
In patients with advanced post-transplant hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurrence, antiviral treatment (AVT) with interferon and ribavirin is indicated to prevent graft failure. The aim of this study was to determine and report Canadian data with respect to the safety, efficacy, and spontaneous virologic response (SVR) predictors of AVT among transplanted patients with HCV recurrence.
Patients and Methods:
A retrospective chart review was performed on patients transplanted in London, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta from 2002 to 2012 who were treated for HCV. Demographic, medical, and treatment information was collected and analyzed.
A total of 85 patients with HCV received pegylated interferon with ribavirin post-liver transplantation and 28 of the 65 patients (43%) with genotype 1 achieved SVR. Of the patients having genotype 1 HCV who achieved SVR, there was a significantly lower stage of fibrosis (1.37 ± 0.88 vs. 1.89 ± 0.96; P = 0.03), increased ribavirin dose (total daily dose 1057 ± 230 vs. 856 ± 399 mg; P = 0.02), increased rapid virologic response (RVR) (6/27 vs. 0/31; P = 0.05), increased early virologic response (EVR) (28/28 vs. 18/35; P = 0.006), and longer duration of therapy (54.7 ± 13.4 weeks vs. 40.2 ± 18.7; P = 0.001). A logistic regression model using gender, age, RVR, EVR, anemia, duration of therapy, viral load, years’ post-transplant, and type of organ (donation after cardiac death vs. donation after brain death) significantly predicted SVR (P < 0.001), with duration of therapy having a significant odds ratio of 1.078 (P = 0.007).
This study identified factors that predict SVR in HCV-positive patients who received dual therapy post-transplantation. Extending therapy from 48 weeks to 72 weeks of dual therapy is associated with increased SVR rates. Future studies examining the role of extended therapy are needed to confirm these findings, since the current study is a retrospective one.
PMCID: PMC3793474  PMID: 24045596
Hepatitis C virus; liver transplant; retrospective study
21.  The Novel Angiotensin II Receptor Blocker Azilsartan Medoxomil Ameliorates Insulin Resistance Induced by Chronic Angiotensin II Treatment in Rat Skeletal Muscle 
Cardiorenal Medicine  2013;3(2):154-164.
Angiotensin receptor (type 1) blockers (ARBs) can reduce both hypertension and insulin resistance induced by local and systemic activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. The effectiveness of azilsartan medoxomil (AZIL-M), a novel imidazole-based ARB, to facilitate metabolic improvements in conditions of angiotensin II (Ang II)-associated insulin resistance is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of chronic AZIL-M treatment on glucose transport activity and key insulin signaling elements in red skeletal muscle of Ang II-treated rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated for 8 weeks with or without Ang II (200 ng/kg/min) combined with either vehicle or AZIL-M (1 mg/kg/day). Ang II induced significant (p < 0.05) increases in blood pressure, which were completely prevented by AZIL-M. Furthermore, Ang II reduced insulin-mediated glucose transport activity in incubated soleus muscle, and AZIL-M co-treatment increased this parameter. Moreover, AZIL-M treatment of Ang II-infused animals increased the absolute phosphorylation of insulin signaling molecules, including Akt [both Ser473 (81%) and Thr308 (23%)] and AS160 Thr642 (42%), in red gastrocnemius muscle frozen in situ. Absolute AMPKα (Thr172) phosphorylation increased (98%) by AZIL-M treatment, and relative Thr389 phosphorylation of p70 S6K1, a negative regulator of insulin signaling, decreased (51%) with AZIL-M treatment. These results indicate that ARB AZIL-M improves the in vitro insulin action on glucose transport in red soleus muscle and the functionality of the Akt/AS160 axis in red gastrocnemius muscle in situ in Ang II-induced insulin-resistant rats, with the latter modification possibly associated with enhanced AMPKα and suppressed p70 S6K1 activation.
PMCID: PMC3721134  PMID: 23922555
Angiotensin II; Glucose transport; Red skeletal muscle; Akt; AS160; AMPK; p70 S6K1

22.  Mutations in Cytoplasmic Loops of the KCNQ1 Channel and the Risk of Life-Threatening Events: Implications for Mutation-Specific Response to Beta-Blocker Therapy in Type-1 Long QT Syndrome 
Circulation  2012;125(16):1988-1996.
β-adrenergic stimulation is the main trigger for cardiac events in type-1 long QT syndrome (LQT1). We evaluated a possible association between ion channel response to β-adrenergic stimulation and clinical response to β-blocker therapy according to mutation location.
Methods and Results
The study sample comprised 860 patients with genetically-confirmed mutations in the KCNQ1 channel. Patients were categorized into carriers of missense mutations located in the cytoplasmic loops (C-loops), membrane spanning domain, C/N-terminus, and non-missense mutations. There were 27 aborted cardiac arrest [ACA] and 78 sudden cardiac death [SCD] events from birth through age 40 years. After multivariable adjustment for clinical factors, the presence of C-loop mutations was associated with the highest risk for ACA or SCD (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval] vs. non-missense mutations = 2.75 [1.29-5.86, P=0.009]). β-blocker therapy was associated with a significantly greater reduction in the risk of ACA or SCD among patients with C-loop mutations than among all other patients (hazard ratios = 0.12 [0.02-0.73, P=0.02] and 0.82 [0.31-2.13, P=0.68], respectively; P-for interaction = 0.04). Cellular expression studies showed that membrane spanning and C-loop mutations produced a similar decrease in current, but only C-loop mutations showed a pronounced reduction in channel activation in response to β-adrenergic stimulation.
Patients with C-loop missense mutations in the KCNQ1 channel exhibit a high-risk for life-threatening events and derive a pronounced benefit from treatment with β-blockers. Reduced channel activation following sympathetic activation can explain the increased clinical risk and response to therapy in patients with C-loop mutations.
PMCID: PMC3690492  PMID: 22456477
beta-blockers; ion channels; long QT syndrome; mutation
23.  Risk of Syncope in Family Members Who Are Genotype Negative for a Family-Associated Long QT Syndrome Mutation 
Current clinical diagnosis of long-QT syndrome (LQTS) includes genetic testing of family members of mutation positive patients. The present study was designed to assess the clinical course of individuals who are found negative for the LQTS-causing mutation in their families.
Methods and Results
Multivariate Cox proportional hazards model was used to assess the risk for cardiac events (comprising syncope, aborted cardiac arrest [ACA], or sudden cardiac death [SCD]) from birth through age 40 years among 1828 subjects from the LQTS Registry who were found negative for their family LQTS-causing mutation. The median QTc of study subjects was 423 msec (interquartile-range: 402–442 msec). The cumulative probability of a first syncope through age 40 years was 15%. However, only 2 patients (0.1%) experienced ACA and none died suddenly during follow-up. Independent risk factors for syncope in genotype negative subjects included female gender (HR 1.60, p = 0.002), prolonged QTc (HR = 1.63 per 100 msec increment, p = 0.02), family history of ACA or SCD (HR = 1.89, p = 0.002), and LQT2 vs. LQT1 family mutation (HR = 1.41, p = 0.03). Subgroup analysis showed that the presence of the K897T polymorphism in the LQT2 gene in an affected family was associated with an 11-fold (p = 0.001) increase in the risk of recurrent syncope in genotype negative subjects.
Our findings suggest that cardiac events among genotype-negative family members of LQTS patients are dominated by nonfatal syncopal episodes without occurrence of sudden cardiac death. The risk for nonfatal events in this population may be mediated by the presence of common polymorphisms in LQTS genes.
PMCID: PMC3690290  PMID: 21831960
gene mutation; genetic polymorphisms; long-QT syndrome; sudden cardiac death arrhythmia; syncope
24.  Transcriptional Dominance of Pax7 in Adult Myogenesis is Due to High-Affinity Recognition of Homeodomain Motifs 
Developmental Cell  2012;22(6):1208-1220.
Pax3 and Pax7 regulate stem cell function in skeletal myogenesis. However, molecular insight into their distinct roles has remained elusive. Using gene expression data combined with genome wide binding-site analysis we show that both Pax3 and Pax7 bind identical DNA motifs and jointly activate a large panel of genes involved in muscle stem cell function. Surprisingly, in adult myoblasts Pax3 binds a subset (6.4%) of Pax7 targets. Despite a significant overlap in their transcriptional network, Pax7 regulates distinct panels of genes involved in the promotion of proliferation and inhibition of myogenic differentiation. We show that Pax7 has a higher binding affinity to the homeodomain-binding motif relative to Pax3, suggesting that intrinsic differences in DNA binding contribute to the observed functional difference between Pax3 and Pax7 binding in myogenesis. Together, our data demonstrates distinct attributes of Pax7 function and provides mechanistic insight into the non-redundancy of Pax3 and Pax7 in muscle development.
PMCID: PMC3376216  PMID: 22609161
Cancer  2011;118(9):2394-2402.
Molecular profiling of renal cell carcinomas (RCC) may improve the distinction between oncocytoma and malignant RCC subtypes and aid in early detection of metastasis. Hyaluronic acid (HA) family includes HA-synthases (HAS1, HAS2, HAS3), hyaluronidases (HYAL-1, HYAL-2, HYAL-3, HYAL-4, PH20, HYAL-P1), and HA receptors (CD44s, CD44v and RHAMM). HA family members promote tumor growth and metastasis. We evaluated the expression of HA family members in kidney specimens.
Using quantitative PCR, mRNA levels of twelve HA family members were measured in tumor specimens obtained from 86 consecutive patients undergoing nephrectomy; 80 of them also provided normal specimens. Mean and median follow-up: 15.2 ± 8.8 and 13.8 months. RCC specimens included: clear cell RCC (ccRCC): 65; papillary: 10; chromophobe: 5; oncocytoma: 6; metastasis (+): 17.
Median HAS1, CD44s and RHAMM transcript levels were 3–25 elevated in ccRCC, papillary and chromophobe tumors when compared to normal tissues. HYAL-4, CD44s and RHAMM levels were 4–12-fold elevated in ccRCC and papillary tumors when compared to oncocytomas; only HYAL-4 levels distinguished between chromophobe and oncocytoma (P=0.009). CD44s and RHAMM levels were significantly higher in tumors < 4-cm (510±611; 19.6±20.8, respectively) when compared to oncocytoma (46.4±20; 3.8±2.5; P≤0.006). In univariate and multivariate analyses, CD44s (P<0.0001), RHAMM (P<0.0001), stage, tumor size, and/or renal vein involvement significantly associated with metastasis. The combined CD44s+RHAMM marker had 82% sensitivity and 86% specificity to predict metastasis.
CD44s and RHAMM levels distinguish between oncocytoma and RCC subtypes regardless of tumor size and are potential predictors of RCC metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3232339  PMID: 21887686
Prognostic markers; HA-synthase; Hyaluronidase; HA-receptors; Renal cell carcinoma; metastasis; oncocytoma

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