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1.  The NOD2 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism rs72796353 (IVS4+10 A>C) Is a Predictor for Perianal Fistulas in Patients with Crohn's Disease in the Absence of Other NOD2 Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0116044.
A previous study suggested an association of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs72796353 (IVS4+10 A>C) in the NOD2 gene with susceptibility to Crohn’s disease (CD). However, this finding has not been confirmed. Given that NOD2 variants still represent the most important predictors for CD susceptibility and phenotype, we evaluated the association of rs72796353 with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) susceptibility and the IBD phenotype.
Genomic DNA from 2256 Caucasians, including 1073 CD patients, 464 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 719 healthy controls, was genotyped for the NOD2 SNP rs72796353 and the three main CD-associated NOD2 mutations rs2066844, rs2066845, and rs2066847. Subsequently, IBD association and genotype-phenotype analyses were conducted.
In contrast to the strong associations of the NOD2 SNPs rs2066844 (p=3.51 x 10-3), rs2066845 (p=1.54 x 10-2), and rs2066847 (p=1.61 x 10-20) with CD susceptibility, no significant association of rs72796353 with CD or UC susceptibility was found. However, in CD patients without the three main CD-associated NOD2 mutations, rs72796353 was significantly associated with the development of perianal fistulas (p=2.78 x 10-7, OR 5.27, [95% CI 2.75-10.12] vs. NOD2 wild-type carriers).
Currently, this study represents the largest genotype-phenotype analysis of the impact of the NOD2 variant rs72796353 on the disease phenotype in IBD. Our data demonstrate that in CD patients the IVS4+10 A>C variant is strongly associated with the development of perianal fistulas. This association is particularly pronounced in patients who are not carriers of the three main CD-associated NOD2 mutations, suggesting rs72796353 as additional genetic marker for the CD disease behaviour.
PMCID: PMC4493062  PMID: 26147989
2.  Effects of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist liraglutide in juvenile transgenic pigs modeling a pre-diabetic condition 
The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP1R) agonist liraglutide improves glycemic control and reduces body weight of adult type 2 diabetic patients. However, efficacy and safety of liraglutide in adolescents has not been systematically investigated. Furthermore, possible pro-proliferative effects of GLP1R agonists on the endocrine and exocrine pancreas need to be further evaluated. We studied effects of liraglutide in adolescent pigs expressing a dominant-negative glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide receptor (GIPRdn) in the beta-cells, leading to a pre-diabetic condition including disturbed glucose tolerance, reduced insulin secretion and progressive reduction of functional beta-cell mass.
Two-month-old GIPRdn transgenic pigs were treated daily with liraglutide (0.6-1.2 mg per day) or placebo for 90 days. Glucose homeostasis was evaluated prior to and at the end of the treatment period by performing mixed meal and intravenous glucose tolerance tests (MMGTT and IVGTT). Finally animals were subjected to necropsy and quantitative-stereological analyses were performed for evaluation of alpha- and beta-cell mass, beta-cell proliferation as well as acinus-cell proliferation.
MMGTT at the end of the study revealed 23% smaller area under the curve (AUC) for glucose, a 36% smaller AUC insulin, and improved insulin sensitivity, while IVGTT showed a 15% smaller AUC glucose but unchanged AUC insulin in liraglutide- vs. placebo-treated animals. Liraglutide led to marked reductions in body weight gain (-31%) and food intake (-30%) compared to placebo treatment, associated with reduced phosphorylation of insulin receptor beta (INSRB)/insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor beta (IGF1RB) and protein kinase B (AKT) in skeletal muscle. Absolute alpha- and beta-cell mass was reduced in liraglutide-treated animals, but alpha- and beta-cell mass-to-body weight ratios were unchanged. Liraglutide neither stimulated beta-cell proliferation in the endocrine pancreas nor acinus-cell proliferation in the exocrine pancreas, excluding both beneficial and detrimental effects on the pig pancreas.
Although plasma liraglutide levels of adolescent transgenic pigs treated in our study were higher compared to human trials, pro-proliferative effects on the endocrine or exocrine pancreas or other liraglutide-related side-effects were not observed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0431-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4362632  PMID: 25890210
Transgenic pig model; Type 2 diabetes; GIP receptor; GLP1 receptor agonist; Incretin-based therapeutics; Liraglutide; Adolescents; Beta-cell mass
3.  Overexpression of heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) increases gemcitabine sensitivity in pancreatic cancer cells through S-phase arrest and apoptosis 
We previously established a role for HSP27 as a predictive marker for therapeutic response towards gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer. Here, we investigate the underlying mechanisms of HSP27-mediated gemcitabine sensitivity. Utilizing a pancreatic cancer cell model with stable HSP27 overexpression, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction were analysed by flow cytometry, nuclear staining, immunoblotting and mitochondrial staining. Drug sensitivity studies were performed by proliferation assays. Hyperthermia was simulated using mild heat shock at 41.8°C. Upon gemcitabine treatment, HSP27-overexpressing cells displayed an early S-phase arrest subsequently followed by a strongly increased sub-G1 fraction. Apoptosis was characterized by PARP-, CASPASE 3-, CASPASE 8-, CASPASE 9- and BIM- activation along with a mitochondrial membrane potential loss. It was reversible through chemical caspase inhibition. Importantly, gemcitabine sensitivity and PARP cleavage were also elicited by heat shock-induced HSP27 overexpression, although to a smaller extent, in a panel of pancreatic cancer cell lines. Finally, HSP27-overexpressing pancreatic cancer cells displayed an increased sensitivity also towards death receptor-targeting agents, suggesting another pro-apoptotic role of HSP27 along the extrinsic apoptosis pathway. Taken together, in contrast to the well-established anti-apoptotic properties of HSP27 in cancer, our study reveals novel pro-apoptotic functions of HSP27—mediated through both the intrinsic and the extrinsic apoptotic pathways—at least in pancreatic cancer cells. HSP27 could represent a predictive marker of therapeutic response towards specific drug classes in pancreatic cancer and provides a novel molecular rationale for current clinical trials applying the combination of gemcitabine with regional hyperthermia in pancreatic cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4407596  PMID: 25331547
apoptosis; gemcitabine; HSP27; hyperthermia; pancreatic cancer
4.  The NOD2 p.Leu1007fsX1008 Mutation (rs2066847) Is a Stronger Predictor of the Clinical Course of Crohn's Disease than the FOXO3A Intron Variant rs12212067 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e108503.
Very recently, a sub-analysis of genome-wide association scans revealed that the non-coding single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs12212067 in the FOXO3A gene is associated with a milder course of Crohn's disease (CD) (Cell 2013;155:57–69). The aim of our study was to evaluate the clinical value of the SNP rs12212067 in predicting the severity of CD by correlating CD patient genotype status with the most relevant complications of CD such as stenoses, fistulas, and CD-related surgery.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We genotyped 550 CD patients for rs12212067 (FOXO3A) and the three common CD-associated NOD2 mutations rs2066844, rs2066847, and rs2066847 and performed genotype-phenotype analyses.
No significant phenotypic differences were found between the wild-type genotype TT of the FOXO3A SNP rs12212067 and the minor genotypes TG and GG independently from NOD2 variants. The allele frequency of the minor G allele was 12.7%. Age at diagnosis, disease duration, body mass index, surgery rate, stenoses, fistula, need for immunosuppressive therapy, and disease course were not significantly different. In contrast, the NOD2 mutant p.Leu1007fsX1008 (rs2066847) was highly associated with penetrating CD (p = 0.01), the development of fistulas (p = 0.01) and stenoses (p = 0.01), and ileal disease localization (p = 0.03). Importantly, the NOD2 SNP rs2066847 was a strong separator between an aggressive and a mild course of CD (p = 2.99×10−5), while the FOXO3A SNP rs12212067 did not separate between mild and aggressive CD behavior in our cohort (p = 0.35). 96.2% of the homozygous NOD2 p.Leu1007fsX1008 carriers had an aggressive disease behavior compared to 69.3% of the patients with the NOD2 wild-type genotype (p = 0.007).
In clinical practice, the NOD2 variant p.Leu1007fsX1008 (rs2066847), in particular in homozygous form, is a much stronger marker for a severe clinical phenotype than the FOXO3A rs12212067 SNP for a mild disease course on an individual patient level despite its important impact on the inflammatory response of monocytes.
PMCID: PMC4217717  PMID: 25365249
5.  Aspirin inhibits cell viability and mTOR downstream signaling in gastroenteropancreatic and bronchopulmonary neuroendocrine tumor cells 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(29):10038-10049.
AIM: To investigate the effect of aspirin on neuroendocrine tumor (NET) cell growth and signaling in vitro.
METHODS: Human pancreatic BON1, bronchopulmonary NCI-H727 and midgut GOT1 neuroendocrine tumor cells were treated with different concentrations of aspirin (from 0.001 to 5 mmol/L), and the resulting effects on metabolic activity/cell proliferation were measured using cell proliferation assays and SYBR-DNA-labeling after 72, 144 and 216 h of incubation. The effects of aspirin on the expression and phosphorylation of several critical proteins that are involved in the most common intracellular growth factor signaling pathways (especially Akt protein kinase B) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) were determined by Western blot analyses. Propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry were used to evaluate changes in cell cycle distribution and apoptosis. Statistical analysis was performed using a 2-tailed Student’s t-test to evaluate the proliferation assays and cell cycle analyses. The results are expressed as the mean ± SD of 3 or 4 independently performed experiments. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.
RESULTS: Treatment with aspirin suppressed the viability/proliferation of BON1, NCI-H727 and GOT1 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Significant effects were observed at starting doses of 0.5-1 mmol/L and peaked at 5 mmol/L. For instance, after treatment with 1 mmol/L aspirin for 144 h, the viability of pancreatic BON1 cells decreased to 66% ± 13% (P < 0.05), the viability of bronchopulmonary NCI-H727 cells decreased to 53% ± 8% (P < 0.01) and the viability of midgut GOT1 cells decreased to 89% ± 6% (P < 0.01). These effects were associated with a decreased entry into the S phase, the induction of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 and reduced expression of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and cyclin D3. Aspirin suppressed mTOR downstream signaling, evidenced by the reduced phosphorylation of the mTOR substrates 4E binding protein 1, serine/threonine kinase P70S6K and S6 ribosomal protein and inhibited glycogen synthase kinase 3 activity. We observed the (compensatory) activation of tuberous sclerosis 2, the serine/threonine specific protein kinase AKT and extracellular signal-regulated kinases.
CONCLUSION: Aspirin demonstrates promising anticancer properties for NETs in vitro. Further preclinical and clinical studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC4123333  PMID: 25110431
Neuroendocrine tumors; Aspirin; Cell Viability; Mammalian target of rapamycin protein
6.  Rate and Predictors of Mucosal Healing in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated with Anti-TNF-Alpha Antibodies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99293.
Mucosal healing (MH) is an important treatment goal in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but factors predicting MH under medical therapy are largely unknown. In this study, we aimed to characterize predictive factors for MH in anti-TNF-alpha antibody-treated IBD patients.
We retrospectively analyzed 248 IBD patients (61.3% CD, 38.7% UC) treated with anti-TNF-alpha antibodies (infliximab and/or adalimumab) for MH, defined as macroscopic absence of inflammatory lesions (Mayo endoscopy score 0 or SES-CD score 0) in colonoscopies which were analyzed before and after initiation of an anti-TNF-alpha antibody treatment.
In patients treated with only one anti-TNF-alpha antibody (“TNF1 group”, n = 202), 56 patients (27.7%) achieved complete MH at follow-up colonoscopy (median overall follow-up time: 63 months). In a second cohort (n = 46), which comprised patients who were consecutively treated with two anti-TNF-alpha antibodies (“TNF2 group”), 13 patients (28.3%) achieved complete MH (median overall follow-up time: 64.5 months). Compared to patients without MH, CRP values at follow-up colonoscopy were significantly lower in patients with MH (TNF1 group: p = 8.35×10−5; TNF2 group: p = 0.002). Multivariate analyses confirmed CRP at follow-up colonoscopy as predictor for MH in the TNF1 group (p = 0.012). Overall need for surgery was lower in patients with MH (TNF1 group: p = 0.01; TNF2 group: p = 0.03).
We identified low serum CRP level at follow-up colonoscopy as predictor for MH, while MH was an excellent negative predictor for the need for surgery.
PMCID: PMC4059645  PMID: 24932476
7.  Oncostatin M Mediates STAT3-Dependent Intestinal Epithelial Restitution via Increased Cell Proliferation, Decreased Apoptosis and Upregulation of SERPIN Family Members 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93498.
Oncostatin M (OSM) is produced by activated T cells, monocytes, and dendritic cells and signals through two distinct receptor complexes consisting of gp130 and LIFR (I) or OSMR-β and gp130 (II), respectively. Aim of this study was to analyze the role of OSM in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) and intestinal inflammation.
OSM expression and OSM receptor distribution was analyzed by PCR and immunohistochemistry experiments, signal transduction by immunoblotting. Gene expression studies were performed by microarray analysis and RT-PCR. Apoptosis was measured by caspases-3/7 activity. IEC migration and proliferation was studied in wounding and water soluble tetrazolium assays.
The IEC lines Caco-2, DLD-1, SW480, HCT116 and HT-29 express mRNA for the OSM receptor subunits gp130 and OSMR-β, while only HCT116, HT-29 and DLD-1 cells express LIFR mRNA. OSM binding to its receptor complex activates STAT1, STAT3, ERK-1/2, SAPK/JNK-1/2, and Akt. Microarray analysis revealed 79 genes that were significantly up-regulated (adj.-p≤0.05) by OSM in IEC. Most up-regulated genes belong to the functional categories “immunity and defense” (p = 2.1×10−7), “apoptosis” (p = 3.7×10−4) and “JAK/STAT cascade” (p = 3.4×10−6). Members of the SERPIN gene family were among the most strongly up-regulated genes. OSM significantly increased STAT3- and MEK1-dependent IEC cell proliferation (p<0.05) and wound healing (p = 3.9×10−5). OSM protein expression was increased in colonic biopsies of patients with active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
OSM promotes STAT3-dependent intestinal epithelial cell proliferation and wound healing in vitro. Considering the increased OSM expression in colonic biopsy specimens of patients with active IBD, OSM upregulation may modulate a barrier-protective host response in intestinal inflammation. Further in vivo studies are warranted to elucidate the exact role of OSM in intestinal inflammation and the potential of OSM as a drug target in IBD.
PMCID: PMC3977870  PMID: 24710357
8.  Stromal Targeting of Sodium Iodide Symporter Using Mesenchymal Stem Cells Allows Enhanced Imaging and Therapy of Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Human Gene Therapy  2013;24(3):306-316.
The tumor-homing property of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) has lead to their use as delivery vehicles for therapeutic genes. The application of the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) as therapy gene allows noninvasive imaging of functional transgene expression by 123I-scintigraphy or PET-imaging, as well as therapeutic application of 131I or 188Re. Based on the critical role of the chemokine RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T-cell expressed and presumably secreted)/CCL5 secreted by MSCs in the course of tumor stroma recruitment, use of the RANTES/CCL5 promoter should allow tumor stroma-targeted expression of NIS after MSC-mediated delivery. Using a human hepatocellular cancer (HCC) xenograft mouse model (Huh7), we investigated distribution and tumor recruitment of RANTES-NIS-engineered MSCs after systemic injection by gamma camera imaging. 123I-scintigraphy revealed active MSC recruitment and CCL5 promoter activation in the tumor stroma of Huh7 xenografts (6.5% ID/g 123I, biological half-life: 3.7 hr, tumor-absorbed dose: 44.3 mGy/MBq). In comparison, 7% ID/g 188Re was accumulated in tumors with a biological half-life of 4.1 hr (tumor-absorbed dose: 128.7 mGy/MBq). Administration of a therapeutic dose of 131I or 188Re (55.5 MBq) in RANTES-NIS-MSC-treated mice resulted in a significant delay in tumor growth and improved survival without significant differences between 131I and 188Re. These data demonstrate successful stromal targeting of NIS in HCC tumors by selective recruitment of NIS-expressing MSCs and by use of the RANTES/CCL5 promoter. The resulting tumor-selective radionuclide accumulation was high enough for a therapeutic effect of 131I and 188Re opening the exciting prospect of NIS-mediated radionuclide therapy of metastatic cancer using genetically engineered MSCs as gene delivery vehicles.
Knoop and colleagues demonstrate selective recruitment of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) expressing sodium iodide symporter (NIS) under the control of the RANTES/CCL5 promoter (RANTES-NIS-MSCs) into xenografted tumors in a human hepatocellular cancer mouse model. Administration of a therapeutic dose of either 131I or 188Re radionuclide results in significantly delayed tumor growth and improves survival in mice treated with RANTES-NIS-MSCs.
PMCID: PMC3609610  PMID: 23402366
9.  Comprehensive analysis of β-catenin target genes in colorectal carcinoma cell lines with deregulated Wnt/β-catenin signaling 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:74.
Deregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling is a hallmark of the majority of sporadic forms of colorectal cancer and results in increased stability of the protein β-catenin. β-catenin is then shuttled into the nucleus where it activates the transcription of its target genes, including the proto-oncogenes MYC and CCND1 as well as the genes encoding the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins ASCL2 and ITF-2B. To identify genes commonly regulated by β-catenin in colorectal cancer cell lines, we analyzed β-catenin target gene expression in two non-isogenic cell lines, DLD1 and SW480, using DNA microarrays and compared these genes to β-catenin target genes published in the PubMed database and DNA microarray data presented in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database.
Treatment of DLD1 and SW480 cells with β-catenin siRNA resulted in differential expression of 1501 and 2389 genes, respectively. 335 of these genes were regulated in the same direction in both cell lines. Comparison of these data with published β-catenin target genes for the colon carcinoma cell line LS174T revealed 193 genes that are regulated similarly in all three cell lines. The overlapping gene set includes confirmed β-catenin target genes like AXIN2, MYC, and ASCL2. We also identified 11 Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways that are regulated similarly in DLD1 and SW480 cells and one pathway – the steroid biosynthesis pathway – was regulated in all three cell lines.
Based on the large number of potential β-catenin target genes found to be similarly regulated in DLD1, SW480 and LS174T cells as well as the large overlap with confirmed β-catenin target genes, we conclude that DLD1 and SW480 colon carcinoma cell lines are suitable model systems to study Wnt/β-catenin signaling and associated colorectal carcinogenesis. Furthermore, the confirmed and the newly identified potential β-catenin target genes are useful starting points for further studies.
PMCID: PMC3909937  PMID: 24467841
Colorectal cancer; β-catenin; Target genes; DLD1; SW480; LS174T; DNA microarray
10.  Intestinal DMBT1 Expression Is Modulated by Crohn’s Disease-Associated IL23R Variants and by a DMBT1 Variant Which Influences Binding of the Transcription Factors CREB1 and ATF-2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e77773.
DMBT is an antibacterial pattern recognition and scavenger receptor. In this study, we analyzed the role of DMBT1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) regarding inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) susceptibility and examined their functional impact on transcription factor binding and downstream gene expression.
Seven SNPs in the DMBT1 gene region were analyzed in 2073 individuals including 818 Crohn’s disease (CD) patients and 972 healthy controls in two independent case-control panels. Comprehensive epistasis analyses for the known CD susceptibility genes NOD2, IL23R and IL27 were performed. The influence of IL23R variants on DMBT1 expression was analyzed. Functional analysis included siRNA transfection, quantitative PCR, western blot, electrophoretic mobility shift and luciferase assays.
IL-22 induces DMBT1 protein expression in intestinal epithelial cells dependent on STAT3, ATF-2 and CREB1. IL-22 expression-modulating, CD risk-associated IL23R variants influence DMBT1 expression in CD patients and DMBT1 levels are increased in the inflamed intestinal mucosa of CD patients. Several DMBT1 SNPs were associated with CD susceptibility. SNP rs2981804 was most strongly associated with CD in the combined panel (p = 3.0×10−7, OR 1.42; 95% CI 1.24–1.63). All haplotype groups tested showed highly significant associations with CD (including omnibus P-values as low as 6.1×10−18). The most strongly CD risk-associated, non-coding DMBT1 SNP rs2981804 modifies the DNA binding sites for the transcription factors CREB1 and ATF-2 and the respective genomic region comprising rs2981804 is able to act as a transcriptional regulator in vitro. Intestinal DMBT1 expression is decreased in CD patients carrying the rs2981804 CD risk allele.
We identified novel associations of DMBT1 variants with CD susceptibility and discovered a novel functional role of rs2981804 in regulating DMBT1 expression. Our data suggest an important role of DMBT1 in CD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3818382  PMID: 24223725
11.  EGFR-Targeted Adenovirus Dendrimer Coating for Improved Systemic Delivery of the Theranostic NIS Gene 
We recently demonstrated tumor-selective iodide uptake and therapeutic efficacy of combined radiovirotherapy after systemic delivery of the theranostic sodium iodide symporter (NIS) gene using a dendrimer-coated adenovirus. To further improve shielding and targeting we physically coated replication-selective adenoviruses carrying the hNIS gene with a conjugate consisting of cationic poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimer linked to the peptidic, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-specific ligand GE11. In vitro experiments demonstrated coxsackie-adenovirus receptor-independent but EGFR-specific transduction efficiency. Systemic injection of the uncoated adenovirus in a liver cancer xenograft mouse model led to high levels of NIS expression in the liver due to hepatic sequestration, which were significantly reduced after coating as demonstrated by 123I-scintigraphy. Reduction of adenovirus liver pooling resulted in decreased hepatotoxicity and increased transduction efficiency in peripheral xenograft tumors. 124I-PET-imaging confirmed EGFR-specificity by significantly lower tumoral radioiodine accumulation after pretreatment with the EGFR-specific antibody cetuximab. A significantly enhanced oncolytic effect was observed following systemic application of dendrimer-coated adenovirus that was further increased by additional treatment with a therapeutic dose of 131I. These results demonstrate restricted virus tropism and tumor-selective retargeting after systemic application of coated, EGFR-targeted adenoviruses therefore representing a promising strategy for improved systemic adenoviral NIS gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC3889187  PMID: 24193032
12.  Potent antitumor activity of the novel HSP90 inhibitors AUY922 and HSP990 in neuroendocrine carcinoid cells 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;43(6):1824-1832.
The heat shock protein (HSP) 90 chaperone machine involved in numerous oncogenic signaling pathways is over-expressed in cancer cells and is currently being evaluated for anticancer therapy. Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of the gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) system comprise a heterogeneous group of tumors with increasing incidence and poor prognosis. Here, we report the antiproliferative effects of the HSP90 inhibitors AUY922 and HSP990 in neuroendocrine tumor cells. Treatment of human pancreatic BON1, bronchopulmonary NCI-H727 and midgut carcinoid GOT1 neuroendocrine tumor cells with increasing concentrations of AUY922 and HSP990 dose-dependently suppressed cell viability. Significant effects on neuroendocrine cell viability were observed with inhibitor concentrations as low as 5 nM. Inhibition of cell viability was associated with the induction of apoptosis as demonstrated by an increase in sub-G1 events and PARP cleavage. HSP90 inhibition was associated with decreased neuroendocrine ErbB and IGF-I receptor expression, decreased Erk and Akt phosphorylation and the induction of HSP70 expression. These findings provide evidence that targeted inhibition of upregulated HSP90 activity could be useful for the treatment of aggressive neuroendocrine tumors resistant to conventional therapy.
PMCID: PMC3834873  PMID: 24100469
heat shock protein 90; heat shock protein 90 inhibitors; gastroenteropancreatic; neuroendocrine tumor
13.  The Role of Endogenous Incretin Secretion as Amplifier of Glucose-Stimulated Insulin Secretion in Healthy Subjects and Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2012;61(9):2349-2358.
In order to quantify the role of incretins in first- and second-phase insulin secretion (ISR) in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a double-blind, randomized study with 12 T2DM subjects and 12 healthy subjects (HS) was conducted using the hyperglycemic clamp technique together with duodenal nutrition perfusion and intravenous infusion of the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor antagonist exendin(9-39). Intravenous glucose alone resulted in a significantly greater first- and second-phase ISR in HS compared with T2DM subjects. Duodenal nutrition perfusion augmented both first- and second-phase ISR but first-phase ISR more in T2DM subjects (approximately eight- vs. twofold). Glucose-related stimulation of ISR contributed only 20% to overall ISR. Infusion with exendin(9-39) significantly reduced first- and second-phase ISR in both HS and T2DM subjects. Thus, both GLP-1 and non–GLP-1 incretins contribute to the incretin effect. In conclusion, both phases of ISR are impaired in T2DM. In particular, the responsiveness to glucose in first-phase ISR is blunted. GLP-1 and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) secretions are unaltered. The absolute incretin effect is reduced in T2DM; its relative importance, however, appears to be increased, highlighting its role as an important amplifier of first-phase ISR in T2DM.
PMCID: PMC3425423  PMID: 22721966
14.  Changing Metabolic Signatures of Amino Acids and Lipids During the Prediabetic Period in a Pig Model With Impaired Incretin Function and Reduced β-Cell Mass 
Diabetes  2012;61(8):2166-2175.
Diabetes is generally diagnosed too late. Therefore, biomarkers indicating early stages of β-cell dysfunction and mass reduction would facilitate timely counteraction. Transgenic pigs expressing a dominant-negative glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide receptor (GIPRdn) reveal progressive deterioration of glucose control and reduction of β-cell mass, providing a unique opportunity to study metabolic changes during the prediabetic period. Plasma samples from intravenous glucose tolerance tests of 2.5- and 5-month-old GIPRdn transgenic and control animals were analyzed for 163 metabolites by targeted mass spectrometry. Analysis of variance revealed that 26 of 163 parameters were influenced by the interaction Genotype × Age (P ≤ 0.0001) and thus are potential markers for progression within the prediabetic state. Among them, the concentrations of seven amino acids (Phe, Orn, Val, xLeu, His, Arg, and Tyr) were increased in 2.5-month-old but decreased in 5-month-old GIPRdn transgenic pigs versus controls. Furthermore, specific sphingomyelins, diacylglycerols, and ether phospholipids were decreased in plasma of 5-month-old GIPRdn transgenic pigs. Alterations in plasma metabolite concentrations were associated with liver transcriptome changes in relevant pathways. The concentrations of a number of plasma amino acids and lipids correlated significantly with β-cell mass of 5-month-old pigs. These metabolites represent candidate biomarkers of early phases of β-cell dysfunction and mass reduction.
PMCID: PMC3402307  PMID: 22492530
15.  A role for O-1602 and G protein-coupled receptor GPR55 in the control of colonic motility in mice 
Neuropharmacology  2013;71(100):255-263.
The G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55) is a novel cannabinoid (CB) receptor, whose role in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract remains unknown. Here we studied the significance of GPR55 in the regulation of GI motility.
GPR55 mRNA and protein expression were measured by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. The effects of the GPR55 agonist O-1602 and a selective antagonist cannabidiol (CBD) were studied in vitro and in vivo and compared to a non-selective cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN55,212-2. CB1/2−/− and GPR55−/− mice were employed to identify the receptors involved.
GPR55 was localized on myenteric neurons in mouse and human colon. O-1602 concentration-dependently reduced evoked contractions in muscle strips from the colon (∼60%) and weakly (∼25%) from the ileum. These effects were reversed by CBD, but not by CB1 or CB2 receptor antagonists. I.p. and i.c.v. injections of O-1602 slowed whole gut transit and colonic bead expulsion; these effects were absent in GPR55−/− mice. WIN55,212-2 slowed whole gut transit effects, which were counteracted in the presence of a CB1 antagonist AM251. WIN55,212-2, but not O-1602 delayed gastric emptying and small intestinal transit. Locomotion, as a marker for central sedation, was reduced following WIN55,212-2, but not O-1602 treatment.
GPR55 is strongly expressed on myenteric neurons of the colon and it is selectively involved in the regulation of colonic motility. Since activation of GPR55 receptors is not associated with central sedation, the GPR55 receptor may serve as a future target for the treatment of colonic motility disorders.
•G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55) is a binding site for cannabinoids.•No conclusive information was available on function of GPR55 in the GI tract.•We found that targeting GPR55 at peripheral or central sites slows GI motility.•Slowing effect of GPR55 activation on GI motility is primarily observed in colon.•Targeting GPR55 may be a future tool for treatment of colonic motility disorders.
PMCID: PMC3677091  PMID: 23603203
Cannabidiol; Cannabinoid; Colon; Gastrointestinal motility; GPR55; CBD, cannabidiol; CB1, cannabinoid-1; CB2, cannabinoid-2; cDNA, complementary DNA; COX-2, cyclooxygenase-2; GE, gastric emptying; GPR55, G protein-coupled receptor 55; EFS, electrical field stimulation; ECS, endocannabinoid system; FAAH, fatty acid amide hydrolase; GI, gastrointestinal; i.c.v., intracerebroventricular administration; i.p., intraperitoneal; KRS, Krebs–Ringer solution; LMMP, longitudinal muscle-myenteric plexus layer; MAGL, monoacylglycerol lipase; PPARα, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha; RT-PCR, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; TRPV1, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1
16.  Effect of sleeve gastrectomy on postprandial lipoprotein metabolism in morbidly obese patients 
Obesity is associated with abnormal fasting and postprandial lipids, which may link obesity with atherosclerosis. We explored fasting and postprandial lipids in morbidly obese patients treated with sleeve gastrectomy and in control subjects.
After fasting for 12 h 15 morbidly obese patients (BMI 51.4±6.5 kg/m2, 43.7±12.6 years) received a standardized oral fat load before and 3 months after bariatric surgery (sleeve gastrectomy). Controls (n=9, BMI 23.1±1.4 kg/m2) were studied once. Plasma was obtained fasting and then postprandially every 2 h for 8 h. Triglycerides (TG), chylomicron-TG (CM-TG), VLDL/chylomicron-remnant (VLDL/CR)-TG, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL/CR-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol were isolated by ultracentrifugation at each time point. Postprandial values were expressed as area under the curve (AUC) and incremental area under the curve (iAUC). In addition, fasting glucose and insulin values and HOMA-IR-Index was measured (n=14).
Compared to controls morbidly obese patients had elevated TG and slightly altered postprandial lipids. Following surgery (weight loss 23.4 kg±6.2 kg; p<0.001) fasting TG (−19.1%; p=0.04), VLDL/CR-TG (−20.0%; p=0.05) decreased significantly, while fasting cholesterol, VLDL-, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol did not change. AUC and iAUC decreased significantly for VLDL/CR-TG (−20.4%, p=0.04 and −38.5%, p=0.04, respectively). Neither fasting nor postprandial changes correlated with the change in weight. In patients with preoperatively elevated TG (>150 mg/dl) a similar pattern was observed. Fasting insulin and HOMA were reduced significantly (−51.9%; p=0.004 and −47.9%; p=0.011).
Three months after sleeve gastrectomy fasting and postprandial lipoprotein metabolism and glucose metabolism is improved in morbidly obese patients. The potential mechanisms may relate to decreased caloric intake but also to hormonal changes.
PMCID: PMC3680214  PMID: 23725203
Postprandial lipids; Chylomicron; Chylomicron remnant; Dyslipidemia; VLDL-triglycerides
17.  Loss of TRAIL-Receptors Is a Recurrent Feature in Pancreatic Cancer and Determines the Prognosis of Patients with No Nodal Metastasis after Surgery 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56760.
Agonistic antibodies targeting TRAIL-receptors 1 and 2 (TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2) are being developed as a novel therapeutic approach in cancer therapy including pancreatic cancer. However, the cellular distribution of these receptors in primary pancreatic cancer samples has not been sufficiently investigated and no study has yet addressed the issue of their prognostic significance in this tumor entity.
Aims and Methods
Applying tissue microarray (TMA) analysis, we performed an immunohistochemical assessment of TRAIL-receptors in surgical samples from 84 consecutive patients affected by pancreatic adenocarcinoma and in 26 additional selected specimens from patients with no lymph nodes metastasis at the time of surgery. The prognostic significance of membrane staining and staining intensity for TRAIL-receptors was evaluated.
The fraction of pancreatic cancer samples with positive membrane staining for TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2 was lower than that of cells from surrounding non-tumor tissues (TRAIL-R1: p<0.001, TRAIL-R2: p = 0.006). In addition, subgroup analyses showed that loss of membrane staining for TRAIL-R2 was associated with poorer prognosis in patients without nodal metastases (multivariate Cox regression analysis, Hazard Ratio: 0.44 [95% confidence interval: 0.22−0.87]; p = 0.019). In contrast, analysis of decoy receptors TRAIL-R3 and -R4 in tumor samples showed an exclusively cytoplasmatic staining pattern and no prognostic relevance.
This is a first report on the prognostic significance of TRAIL-receptors expression in pancreatic cancer showing that TRAIL-R2 might represent a prognostic marker for patients with early stage disease. In addition, our data suggest that loss of membrane-bound TRAIL-receptors could represent a molecular mechanism for therapeutic failure upon administration of TRAIL-receptors-targeting antibodies in pancreatic cancer. This hypothesis should be evaluated in future clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3584093  PMID: 23460812
18.  IRGM Variants and Susceptibility to Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the German Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54338.
Background & Aims
Genome-wide association studies identified the autophagy gene IRGM to be strongly associated with Crohn's disease (CD) but its impact in ulcerative colitis (UC), its phenotypic effects and potential epistatic interactions with other IBD susceptibility genes are less clear which we therefore analyzed in this study.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2060 individuals including 817 CD patients, 283 UC patients, and 961 healthy, unrelated controls (all of Caucasian origin) was analyzed for six IRGM single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs13371189, rs10065172 = p.Leu105Leu, rs4958847, rs1000113, rs11747270, rs931058). In all patients, a detailed genotype-phenotype analysis and testing for epistasis with the three major CD susceptibility genes NOD2, IL23R and ATG16L1 were performed.
Our analysis revealed an association of the IRGM SNPs rs13371189 (p = 0.02, OR 1.31 [95% CI 1.05–1.65]), rs10065172 = p.Leu105Leu (p = 0.016, OR 1.33 [95% CI 1.06–1.66]) and rs1000113 (p = 0.047, OR 1.27 [95% CI 1.01–1.61]) with CD susceptibility. There was linkage disequilibrium between these three IRGM SNPs. In UC, several IRGM haplotypes were weakly associated with UC susceptibility (p<0.05). Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed no significant associations with a specific IBD phenotype or ileal CD involvement. There was evidence for weak gene-gene-interaction between several SNPs of the autophagy genes IRGM and ATG16L1 (p<0.05), which, however, did not remain significant after Bonferroni correction.
Our results confirm IRGM as susceptibility gene for CD in the German population, supporting a role for the autophagy genes IRGM and ATG16L1 in the pathogenesis of CD.
PMCID: PMC3554777  PMID: 23365659
19.  Microsatellite Instability, KRAS Mutations and Cellular Distribution of TRAIL-Receptors in Early Stage Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51654.
The fact that the receptors for the TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) are almost invariably expressed in colorectal cancer (CRC) represents the rationale for the employment of TRAIL-receptors targeting compounds for the therapy of patients affected by this tumor. Yet, first reports on the use of these bioactive agents provided disappointing results. We therefore hypothesized that loss of membrane-bound TRAIL-R might be a feature of some CRC and that the evaluation of membrane staining rather than that of the overall expression of TRAIL-R might predict the response to TRAIL-R targeting compounds in this tumor.
Aim and Methods
Thus, we evaluated the immunofluorescence pattern of TRAIL-receptors and E-cadherin to assess the fraction of membrane-bound TRAIL-receptors in 231 selected patients with early-stage CRC undergoing surgical treatment only. Moreover, we investigated whether membrane staining for TRAIL-receptors as well as the presence of KRAS mutations or of microsatellite instability (MSI) had an effect on survival and thus a prognostic effect.
As expected, almost all CRC samples stained positive for TRAIL-R1 and 2. Instead, membrane staining for these receptors was positive in only 71% and 16% of samples respectively. No correlation between KRAS mutation status or MSI-phenotype and prognosis could be detected. TRAIL-R1 staining intensity correlated with survival in univariate analysis, but only membranous staining of TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2 on cell membranes was an independent predictor of survival (cox multivariate analysis: TRAIL-R1: p = 0.019, RR 2.06[1.12–3.77]; TRAIL-R2: p = 0.033, RR 3.63[1.11–11.84]).
In contrast to the current assumptions, loss of membrane staining for TRAIL-receptors is a common feature of early stage CRC which supersedes the prognostic significance of their staining intensity. Failure to achieve therapeutic effects in recent clinical trials using TRAIL-receptors targeting compounds might be due to insufficient selection of patients bearing tumors with membrane-bound TRAIL-receptors.
PMCID: PMC3527471  PMID: 23284732
20.  Image-Guided Tumor-Selective Radioiodine Therapy of Liver Cancer After Systemic Nonviral Delivery of the Sodium Iodide Symporter Gene 
Human Gene Therapy  2011;22(12):1563-1574.
We reported the induction of tumor-selective iodide uptake and therapeutic efficacy of 131I in a hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) xenograft mouse model, using novel polyplexes based on linear polyethylenimine (LPEI), shielded by polyethylene glycol (PEG), and coupled with the epidermal growth factor receptor-specific peptide GE11 (LPEI-PEG-GE11). The aim of the current study in the same HCC model was to evaluate the potential of biodegradable nanoparticle vectors based on pseudodendritic oligoamines (G2-HD-OEI) for systemic sodium iodide symporter (NIS) gene delivery and to compare efficiency and tumor specificity with LPEI-PEG-GE11. Transfection of HCC cells with NIS cDNA, using G2-HD-OEI, resulted in a 44-fold increase in iodide uptake in vitro as compared with a 22-fold increase using LPEI-PEG-GE11. After intravenous application of G2-HD-OEI/NIS HCC tumors accumulated 6–11% ID/g 123I (percentage of the injected dose per gram tumor tissue) with an effective half-life of 10 hr (tumor-absorbed dose, 281 mGy/MBq) as measured by 123I scintigraphic gamma camera or single-photon emission computed tomography computed tomography (SPECT CT) imaging, as compared with 6.5–9% ID/g with an effective half-life of only 6 hr (tumor-absorbed dose, 47 mGy/MBq) for LPEI-PEG-GE11. After only two cycles of G2-HD-OEI/NIS/131I application, a significant delay in tumor growth was observed with markedly improved survival. A similar degree of therapeutic efficacy had been observed after four cycles of LPEI-PEG-GE11/131I. These results clearly demonstrate that biodegradable nanoparticles based on OEI-grafted oligoamines show increased efficiency for systemic NIS gene transfer in an HCC model with similar tumor selectivity as compared with LPEI-PEG-GE11, and therefore represent a promising strategy for NIS-mediated radioiodine therapy of HCC.
Klutz and colleagues evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of biodegradable nanoparticle vectors based on pseudodendritic oligoamines (G2-HD-OEI) for systemic sodium iodide symporter gene delivery in a xenograft mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma. This approach led to a significant delay in tumor growth and marked improvement in survival.
PMCID: PMC3237693  PMID: 21851208
21.  Sodium Iodide Symporter (NIS)-Mediated Radionuclide (131I, 188Re) Therapy of Liver Cancer After Transcriptionally Targeted Intratumoral in Vivo NIS Gene Delivery 
Human Gene Therapy  2011;22(11):1403-1412.
We reported the therapeutic efficacy of 131I in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells stably expressing the sodium iodide symporter (NIS) under the control of the tumor-specific α-fetoprotein (AFP) promoter. In the current study we investigated the efficacy of adenovirus-mediated in vivo NIS gene transfer followed by 131I and 188Re administration for the treatment of HCC xenografts. We used a replication-deficient adenovirus carrying the human NIS gene linked to the mouse AFP promoter (Ad5-AFP-NIS) for in vitro and in vivo NIS gene transfer. Functional NIS expression was confirmed by in vivo γ-camera imaging, followed by analysis of NIS protein and mRNA expression. Human HCC (HepG2) cells infected with Ad5-AFP-NIS concentrated 50% of the applied activity of 125I, which was sufficiently high for a therapeutic effect in an in vitro clonogenic assay. Four days after intratumoral injection of Ad5-AFP-NIS (3×109 plaque-forming units) HepG2 xenografts accumulated 14.5% injected dose (ID)/g 123I with an effective half-life of 13 hr (tumor-absorbed dose, 318 mGy/MBq 131I). In comparison, 9.2% ID/g 188Re was accumulated in tumors with an effective half-life of 12.8 hr (tumor-absorbed dose, 545 mGy/MBq). After adenovirus-mediated NIS gene transfer in HepG2 xenografts administration of a therapeutic dose of 131I or 188Re (55.5 MBq) resulted in a significant delay in tumor growth and improved survival without a significant difference between 188Re and 131I. In conclusion, a therapeutic effect of 131I and 188Re was demonstrated in HepG2 xenografts after tumor-specific adenovirus-mediated in vivo NIS gene transfer.
Targeted gene transfer of sodium iodide symporter (NIS) into tumors followed by radionuclide administration is a promising therapeutic approach. In this report, Klutz and colleagues investigate the in vivo efficacy of transcriptionally targeted adenovirus vector-mediated NIS gene transfer followed by 131I and 188Re administration for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) xenografts. The authors report that significant delays in tumor growth and improved survival were seen in the HCC-xenograft mouse model that received this treatment course.
PMCID: PMC3225037  PMID: 21488714
22.  Prognosis of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Validation and Ranking of Established Staging-Systems in a Large Western HCC-Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e45066.
HCC is diagnosed in approximately half a million people per year, worldwide. Staging is a more complex issue than in most other cancer entities and, mainly due to unique geographic characteristics of the disease, no universally accepted staging system exists to date. Focusing on survival rates we analyzed demographic, etiological, clinical, laboratory and tumor characteristics of HCC-patients in our institution and applied the common staging systems. Furthermore we aimed at identifying the most suitable of the current staging systems for predicting survival.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Overall, 405 patients with HCC were identified from an electronic medical record database. The following seven staging systems were applied and ranked according to their ability to predict survival by using the Akaike information criterion (AIC) and the concordance-index (c-index): BCLC, CLIP, GETCH, JIS, Okuda, TNM and Child-Pugh. Separately, every single variable of each staging system was tested for prognostic meaning in uni- and multivariate analysis. Alcoholic cirrhosis (44.4%) was the leading etiological factor followed by viral hepatitis C (18.8%). Median survival was 18.1 months (95%-CI: 15.2–22.2). Ascites, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, AFP, number of tumor nodes and the BCLC tumor extension remained independent prognostic factors in multivariate analysis. Overall, all of the tested staging systems showed a reasonable discriminatory ability. CLIP (closely followed by JIS) was the top-ranked score in terms of prognostic capability with the best values of the AIC and c-index (AIC 2286, c-index 0.71), surpassing other established staging systems like BCLC (AIC 2343, c-index 0.66). The unidimensional scores TNM (AIC 2342, c-index 0.64) and Child-Pugh (AIC 2369, c-index 0.63) performed in an inferior fashion.
Compared with six other staging systems, the CLIP-score was identified as the most suitable staging system for predicting prognosis in a large German cohort of predominantly non-surgical HCC-patients.
PMCID: PMC3465308  PMID: 23071507
23.  Heat shock protein 27 as a prognostic and predictive biomarker in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma 
A role of heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) as a potential biomarker has been reported in various tumour entities, but comprehensive studies in pancreatic cancer are lacking. Applying tissue microarray (TMA) analysis, we correlated HSP27 protein expression status with clinicopathologic parameters in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma specimens from 86 patients. Complementary, we established HSP27 overexpression and RNA-interference models to assess the impact of HSP27 on chemo- and radiosensitivity directly in pancreatic cancer cells. In the TMA study, HSP27 expression was found in 49% of tumour samples. Applying univariate analyses, a significant correlation was found between HSP27 expression and survival. In the multivariate Cox-regression model, HSP27 expression emerged as an independent prognostic factor. HSP27 expression also correlated inversely with nuclear p53 accumulation, indicating either protein interactions between HSP27 and p53 or TP53 mutation-dependent HSP27-regulation in pancreatic cancer. In the sensitivity studies, HSP27 overexpression rendered HSP27 low-expressing PL5 pancreatic cancer cells more susceptible towards treatment with gemcitabine. Vice versa, HSP27 protein depletion in HSP27 high-expressing AsPC-1 cells caused increased gemcitabine resistance. Importantly, HSP27 expression was inducible in pancreatic cancer cell lines as well as primary cells. Taken together, our study suggests a role for HSP27 as a prognostic and predictive marker in pancreatic cancer. Assessment of HSP27 expression could thus facilitate the identification of specific patient subpopulations that might benefit from individualized treatment options. Additional studies need to clarify whether modulation of HSP27 expression could represent an attractive concept to support the incorporation of hyperthermia in clinical treatment protocols for pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3822691  PMID: 22004109
HSP27; biomarker; gemcitabine; pancreatic cancer; TMA
24.  Analysis of IL12B Gene Variants in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34349.
IL12B encodes the p40 subunit of IL-12, which is also part of IL-23. Recent genome-wide association studies identified IL12B and IL23R as susceptibility genes for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, the phenotypic effects and potential gene-gene interactions of IL12B variants are largely unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We analyzed IL12B gene variants regarding association with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Genomic DNA from 2196 individuals including 913 CD patients, 318 UC patients and 965 healthy, unrelated controls was analyzed for four SNPs in the IL12B gene region (rs3212227, rs17860508, rs10045431, rs6887695). Our analysis revealed an association of the IL12B SNP rs6887695 with susceptibility to IBD (p = 0.035; OR 1.15 [95% CI 1.01–1.31] including a trend for rs6887695 for association with CD (OR 1.41; [0.99–1.31], p = 0.066) and UC (OR 1.18 [0.97–1.43], p = 0.092). CD patients, who were homozygous C/C carriers of this SNP, had significantly more often non-stricturing, non-penetrating disease than carriers of the G allele (p = 6.8×10−5; OR = 2.84, 95% CI 1.66–4.84), while C/C homozygous UC patients had less often extensive colitis than G allele carriers (p = 0.029; OR = 0.36, 95% CI 0.14–0.92). In silico analysis predicted stronger binding of the minor C allele of rs6887695 to the transcription factor RORα which is involved in Th17 differentiation. Differences regarding the binding to the major and minor allele sequence of rs6887695 were also predicted for the transcription factors HSF1, HSF2, MZF1 and Oct-1. Epistasis analysis revealed weak epistasis of the IL12B SNP rs6887695 with several SNPs (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs7568275, rs8179673, rs10181656, rs7582694) in the STAT4 gene which encodes the major IL-12 downstream transcription factor STAT4 (p<0.05) but there was no epistasis between IL23R and IL12B variants.
The IL12B SNP rs6887695 modulates the susceptibility and the phenotype of IBD, although the effect on IBD susceptibilty is less pronounced than that of IL23R gene variants.
PMCID: PMC3316707  PMID: 22479607
25.  PTPN2 Gene Variants Are Associated with Susceptibility to Both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Supporting a Common Genetic Disease Background 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33682.
Genome-wide association studies identified PTPN2 (protein tyrosine phosphatase, non-receptor type 2) as susceptibility gene for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). However, the exact role of PTPN2 in Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) and its phenotypic effect are unclear. We therefore performed a detailed genotype-phenotype and epistasis analysis of PTPN2 gene variants.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2131 individuals of Caucasian origin (905 patients with CD, 318 patients with UC, and 908 healthy, unrelated controls) was analyzed for two SNPs in the PTPN2 region (rs2542151, rs7234029) for which associations with IBD were found in previous studies in other cohorts. Our analysis revealed a significant association of PTPN2 SNP rs2542151 with both susceptibility to CD (p = 1.95×10−5; OR 1.49 [1.34–1.79]) and UC (p = 3.87×10−2, OR 1.31 [1.02–1.68]). Moreover, PTPN2 SNP rs7234029 demonstrated a significant association with susceptibility to CD (p = 1.30×10−3; OR 1.35 [1.13–1.62]) and a trend towards association with UC (p = 7.53×10−2; OR 1.26 [0.98–1.62]). Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed an association of PTPN2 SNP rs7234029 with a stricturing disease phenotype (B2) in CD patients (p = 6.62×10−3). Epistasis analysis showed weak epistasis between the ATG16L1 SNP rs2241879 and PTPN2 SNP rs2542151 (p = 0.024) in CD and between ATG16L1 SNP rs4663396 and PTPN2 SNP rs7234029 (p = 4.68×10−3) in UC. There was no evidence of epistasis between PTPN2 and NOD2 and PTPN2 and IL23R. In silico analysis revealed that the SNP rs7234029 modulates potentially the binding sites of several transcription factors involved in inflammation including GATA-3, NF-κB, C/EBP, and E4BP4.
Our data confirm the association of PTPN2 variants with susceptibility to both CD and UC, suggesting a common disease pathomechanism for these diseases. Given recent evidence that PTPN2 regulates autophagosome formation in intestinal epithelial cells, the potential link between PTPN2 and ATG16L1 should be further investigated.
PMCID: PMC3310077  PMID: 22457781

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