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1.  Athletic humans and horses: Comparative analysis of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in trained and untrained subjects at rest 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:3.
Horses and humans share a natural proclivity for athletic performance. In this respect, horses can be considered a reference species in studies designed to optimize physical training and disease prevention. In both species, interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays a major role in regulating the inflammatory process induced during exercise as part of an integrated metabolic regulatory network. The aim of this study was to compare IL-6 and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in trained and untrained humans and horses.
Nine highly trained male swimmers (training volume: 21.6 ± 1.7 h/wk in 10-12 sessions) were compared with two age-matched control groups represented by eight lightly trained runners (training volume: 6.4 ± 2.6 h/wk in 3-5 sessions) and nine untrained subjects. In addition, eight trained horses (training volume: 8.0 ± 2.1 h/wk in 3-4 sessions) were compared with eight age-matched sedentary mares. In humans, IL-6 mRNA levels in PBMCs determined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction were significantly higher in highly trained subjects, whereas IL-6R expression did not differ among groups. In horses, transcripts of both IL-6 and IL-6R were significantly up-regulated in the trained group.
Up-regulation of IL-6R expression in PBMCs in horses could reflect a mechanism that maintains an adequate anti-inflammatory environment at rest through ubiquitous production of anti-inflammatory cytokines throughout the body. These findings suggest that the system that controls the inflammatory response in horses is better adapted to respond to exercise than that in humans.
PMCID: PMC3036646  PMID: 21255427
2.  Quantitative Real-Time PCR detection of TRPV1–4 gene expression in human leukocytes from healthy and hyposensitive subjects 
Molecular Pain  2008;4:51.
Besides functioning as chemosensors for a broad range of endogenous and synthetic ligands, transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) 1–4 channels have also been related to capsaicin (TRPV1), pain, and thermal stimuli perception, and itching sensation (TRPV1–4). While the expression of the TRPV1–4 genes has been adequately proved in skin, sensory fibres and keratinocytes, less is known about TRPV3 and TRPV4 expression in human blood cells.
To study the gene expression of TRPV1–4 genes in human leukocytes, a quantitative Real-Time PCR (qRT-PCR) method, based on the calculation of their relative expression, has been developed and validated. The four commonly used house-keeping genes (HKGs), β-Actin (Act-B), glyceraldehyde-3P-dehydrogenase (GAPDH), hypoxanthine ribosyltransferase (HPRT1), and cyclophilin B (hCyPB), were tested for the stability of their expression in several human leukocyte samples, and used in the normalization procedure to determine the mRNA levels of the TRPV 1–4 genes in 30 healthy subjects. cDNAs belonging to all the TRPV1–4 genes were detected in leukocytes but the genes appear to be expressed at different levels. Our analysis did not show significant sex differences in TRPV1–4 cDNA levels in the 30 healthy subjects. The same qRT-PCR assay was used to compare TRPV1–4 expression between healthy controls and patients hyposensitive to capsaicin, pain and thermal stimuli: an almost doubled up-regulation of the TRPV1 gene was found in the pathological subjects.
The qRT-PCR assay developed and tested in this study allowed us to determine the relative expression of TRPV1–4 genes in human leukocytes: TRPV3 is the least expressed gene of this pool, followed by TRPV4, TRPV1 and TRPV2. The comparison of TRPV1–4 gene expression between two groups of healthy and hyposensitive subjects highlighted the evident up-regulation of TRPV1, which was almost doubly expressed (1.9× normalized fold induction) in the latter group. All the four house-keeping genes tested in this work (Act-B, GAPDH, hCyPB, HPRT1) were classified as optimal controls and showed a constant expression in human leukocytes samples. We recommend the use of these genes in similar qRT-PCR studies on human blood cells.
PMCID: PMC2588574  PMID: 18983665
3.  Exercise induced stress in horses: Selection of the most stable reference genes for quantitative RT-PCR normalization 
Adequate stress response is a critical factor during athlete horses' training and is central to our capacity to obtain better performances while safeguarding animal welfare.
In order to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying this process, several studies have been conducted that take advantage of microarray and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) technologies to analyse the expression of candidate genes involved in the cellular stress response.
Appropriate application of qRT-PCR, however, requires the use of reference genes whose level of expression is not affected by the test, by general physiological conditions or by inter-individual variability.
The expression of nine potential reference genes was evaluated in lymphocytes of ten endurance horses during strenuous exercise. These genes were tested by qRT-PCR and ranked according to the stability of their expression using three different methods (implemented in geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper). Succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit A (SDHA) and hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) always ranked as the two most stably expressed genes. On the other hand, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), transferrin receptor (TFRC) and ribosomal protein L32 (RPL32) were constantly classified as the less reliable controls.
This study underlines the importance of a careful selection of reference genes for qRT-PCR studies of exercise induced stress in horses. Our results, based on different algorithms and analytical procedures, clearly indicate SDHA and HPRT as the most stable reference genes of our pool.
PMCID: PMC2412902  PMID: 18489742
4.  Selection of reference genes for quantitative RT-PCR studies in striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) skin biopsies 
Odontocete cetaceans occupy the top position of the marine food-web and are particularly sensitive to the bioaccumulation of lipophilic contaminants. The effects of environmental pollution on these species are highly debated and various ecotoxicological studies have addressed the impact of xenobiotic compounds on marine mammals, raising conservational concerns. Despite its sensitivity, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) has never been used to quantify gene induction caused by exposure of cetaceans to contaminants. A limitation for the application of qRT-PCR is the need for appropriate reference genes which allow the correct quantification of gene expression. A systematic evaluation of potential reference genes in cetacean skin biopsies is presented, in order to validate future qRT-PCR studies aiming at using the expression of selected genes as non-lethal biomarkers.
Ten commonly used housekeeping genes (HKGs) were partially sequenced in the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) and, for each gene, PCR primer pairs were specifically designed and tested in qRT-PCR assays. The expression of these potential control genes was examined in 30 striped dolphin skin biopsy samples, obtained from specimens sampled in the north-western Mediterranean Sea. The stability of selected control genes was determined using three different specific VBA applets (geNorm, NormFinder and BestKeeper) which produce highly comparable results. Glyceraldehyde-3P-dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and tyrosine 3-monooxygenase (YWHAZ) always rank as the two most stably expressed HKGs according to the analysis with geNorm and Normfinder, and are defined as optimal control genes by BestKepeer. Ribosomal protein L4 (RPL4) and S18 (RPS18) also exhibit a remarkable stability of their expression levels. On the other hand, transferrin receptor (TFRC), phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK1), hypoxanthine ribosyltransferase (HPRT1) and β-2-microglobin (B2M) show variable expression among the studied samples and appear as less suitable reference genes for data normalization.
In this work, we have provided essential background information for the selection of control genes in qRT-PCR studies of cetacean skin biopsies, as a molecular technique to investigate ecotoxicological hazard in marine mammals. Of 10 HKGs tested, those encoding for YWHAZ and GAPDH appear as the most reliable control genes for the normalization of qRT-PCR data in the analysis of striped dolphin skin biopsies. Potentially useful reference genes are also those encoding for ribosomal proteins L4 and S18.
PMCID: PMC1599742  PMID: 16984641

Results 1-4 (4)