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1.  An alternate binding site for PPARγ ligands 
Nature communications  2014;5:3571.
PPARγ is a target for insulin sensitizing drugs such as glitazones, which improve plasma glucose maintenance in patients with diabetes. Synthetic ligands have been designed to mimic endogenous ligand binding to a canonical ligand-binding pocket to hyperactivate PPARγ. Here we reveal that synthetic PPARγ ligands also bind to an alternate site, leading to unique receptor conformational changes that impact coregulator binding, transactivation and target gene expression. Using structure-function studies we show that alternate site binding occurs at pharmacologically relevant ligand concentrations, and is neither blocked by covalently bound synthetic antagonists nor by endogenous ligands indicating non-overlapping binding with the canonical pocket. Alternate site binding likely contributes to PPARγ hyperactivation in vivo, perhaps explaining why PPARγ full and partial or weak agonists display similar adverse effects. These findings expand our understanding of PPARγ activation by ligands and suggest that allosteric modulators could be designed to fine tune PPARγ activity without competing with endogenous ligands.
PMCID: PMC4070320  PMID: 24705063
2.  Resveratrol modulates the inflammatory response via an estrogen receptor-signal integration network 
eLife  2014;3:e02057.
Resveratrol has beneficial effects on aging, inflammation and metabolism, which are thought to result from activation of the lysine deacetylase, sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), the cAMP pathway, or AMP-activated protein kinase. In this study, we report that resveratrol acts as a pathway-selective estrogen receptor-α (ERα) ligand to modulate the inflammatory response but not cell proliferation. A crystal structure of the ERα ligand-binding domain (LBD) as a complex with resveratrol revealed a unique perturbation of the coactivator-binding surface, consistent with an altered coregulator recruitment profile. Gene expression analyses revealed significant overlap of TNFα genes modulated by resveratrol and estradiol. Furthermore, the ability of resveratrol to suppress interleukin-6 transcription was shown to require ERα and several ERα coregulators, suggesting that ERα functions as a primary conduit for resveratrol activity.
eLife digest
Resveratrol is a compound found in significant quantities in red wine, grapes, and peanuts. Many health benefits have been linked to it, including protecting against certain types of cancer and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. How resveratrol could produce these very different effects is unknown, but evidence is emerging that it is involved in a wide range of biological processes.
However, the ability of resveratrol to bind with, and activate, proteins called estrogen receptors has largely been overlooked. These receptors have a range of roles. For example, estrogen receptors fight against inflammation by preventing the transcription of the gene that encodes a signaling protein called interleukin-6. However, estrogen receptors do not work alone: other molecules called coregulators interact with them and alter how effectively they can prevent gene expression.
Resveratrol has also been associated with anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in tissues that contain large numbers of an estrogen receptor called ERα, though this connection has been little studied. Nwachukwu et al. now reveal that the two are linked—the anti-inflammatory response of resveratrol relies on it being bound to ERα. This binding changes the shape of the receptor in a way that controls which coregulator molecules help it to regulate transcription. Additionally, this binding complex does not produce the cancer-causing side effects often associated with activated ERα. Nwachukwu et al. also found that the effect of resveratrol on the inflammatory response depends on specific other coregulators being present.
The role of ERα in enhancing and activating resveratrol's effects is important because resveratrol has poor bioavailability in humans, and so it is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes it difficult for someone to get a dose high enough to produce beneficial effects. Further research targeting ERα may produce similar beneficial compounds to resveratrol, but with improved bioavailability.
PMCID: PMC4017646  PMID: 24771768
resveratrol; estrogen receptor; inflammation; x-ray crystallography; transcription regulation; Human
3.  PEGylation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor for preserved biological activity and enhanced spinal cord distribution 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was covalently attached to polyethylene glycol (PEG) in order to enhance delivery to the spinal cord via the cerebrospinal fluid (intrathecal administration). By varying reaction conditions, mixtures of BDNF covalently attached to one (primary), two (secondary), three (tertiary) or more (higher order) PEG molecules were produced. The biological activity of each resulting conjugate mixture was assessed with the goal of identifying a relationship between the number of PEG molecules attached to BDNF and biological activity. A high degree of in vitro biological activity was maintained in mixtures enriched in primary and secondary conjugate products, while a substantial reduction in biological activity was observed in mixtures with tertiary and higher order conjugates. When a biologically active mixture of PEG-BDNF was administered intrathecally, it displayed a significantly improved half-life in the cerebrospinal fluid and an enhanced penetration into spinal cord tissue relative to native BDNF. Results from these studies suggest a PEGylation strategy that preserves the biological activity of the protein while also improving the half-life of the protein in vivo. Furthermore, PEGylation may be a promising approach for enhancing intrathecal delivery of therapeutic proteins with potential for treating disease and injury in the spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC3990442  PMID: 19048635
Intrathecal drug delivery; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; PEGylation; Biological activity; Confocal microscopy
4.  Ligand-binding dynamics rewire cellular signaling via Estrogen Receptor-α 
Nature chemical biology  2013;9(5):326-332.
Ligand-binding dynamics control allosteric signaling through the estrogen receptor-α (ERα), but the biological consequences of such dynamic binding orientations are unknown. Here, we compare a set of ER ligands having dynamic binding orientation (dynamic ligands) with a control set of isomers that are constrained to bind in a single orientation (constrained ligands). Proliferation of breast cancer cells directed by constrained ligands is associated with DNA binding, coactivator recruitment and activation of the estrogen-induced gene GREB1, reflecting a highly interconnected signaling network. In contrast, proliferation driven by dynamic ligands is associated with induction of ERα-mediated transcription in a DNA-binding domain (DBD)-dependent manner. Further, dynamic ligands displayed enhanced anti-inflammatory activity. The DBD-dependent profile was predictive of these signaling patterns in a larger diverse set of natural and synthetic ligands. Thus, ligand dynamics directs unique signaling pathways, and reveals a novel role of the DBD in allosteric control of ERα-mediated signaling.
PMCID: PMC3631275  PMID: 23524984
5.  Immunogenicity of intrathecal plasmid gene delivery: cytokine release and effects on transgene expression 
The journal of gene medicine  2009;11(9):782-790.
One method for the delivery of therapeutic proteins to the spinal cord is to inject nonviral gene vectors including plasmid DNA into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds the spinal cord (intrathecal space). This approach has produced therapeutic benefits in animal models of disease and several months of protein expression; however, there is little information available on the immune response to these treatments in the intrathecal space, the relevance of plasmid CpG sequences to any plasmid-induced immune response, or the effect of this immune response on transgene expression.
In the present study, coding or noncoding plasmids were delivered to the intrathecal space of the lumbar spinal region in rats. Lumbosacral CSF was then collected at various time points afterwards for monitoring of cytokines and transgene expression.
This work demonstrates, for the first time, increased tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1 in response to intrathecal plasmid vector injection and provides evidence indicating that this response is largely absent in a CpG-depleted vector. Transgene expression in the CSF is not significantly affected by this immune response. Expression after intrathecal plasmid injection is variable across rats but correlates with the amount of tissue associated plasmid and is increased by disrupting normal CSF flow.
The data obtained in the present study indicate that plasmid immunogenicity may affect intrathecal plasmid gene therapy safety but not transgene expression in the CSF. Furthermore, the development of methods to prevent loss of plasmid via CSF flow out of the central nervous system through the injection hole and/or natural outflow routes may increase intrathecal plasmid gene delivery efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3649870  PMID: 19533588
Plasmid; Intrathecal; Inflammatory; CpG; lipopolysaccharide; gene therapy
6.  Sex-specific differences in the relationship between genetic susceptibility, T cell DNA demethylation and lupus flare severity 
Journal of Autoimmunity  2012;38(2-3):J216-J222.
Lupus is less common in men than women, and the reason is incompletely understood. Current evidence indicates that lupus flares when genetically predisposed individuals encounter environmental agents that trigger the disease, and that the environmental contribution is mediated at least in part by T cell DNA demethylation. We hypothesized that lupus disease activity is directly related to total genetic risk and inversely related to T cell DNA methylation levels in each patient. Since women are predisposed to lupus in part because of their second X chromosome, we also hypothesized that men would require a greater genetic risk, a greater degree of autosomal T cell DNA demethylation, or both, to achieve a lupus flare equal in severity to women. Genetic risk was determined by genotyping men and women with lupus across 32 confirmed lupus susceptibility loci. The methylation status of two T cell autosomal genes known to demethylate in proportion to disease activity, KIR2DL4 (KIR) and PRF1, was measured by bisulfite sequencing. Lupus disease activity was determined by the SLEDAI. Interactions between genetic score, T cell DNA demethylation, and the SLEDAI score were compared between the men and women by regression analysis. Combining the degree of DNA demethylation with the genetic risk score for each patient demonstrated that the (genetic risk)/(DNA methylation) ratio increased directly with disease activity in both men and women with lupus. Importantly, men required a greater (genetic risk)/(DNA methylation) ratio to achieve a SLEDAI score equivalent to women (p=0.010 for KIR and p=0.0054 for PRF1). This difference was not explained by a difference in the genetic risk or T cell DNA demethylation alone, suggesting a genetic-epigenetic interaction. These results suggest that genetic risk and T cell DNA demethylation interact in lupus patients to influence the severity of lupus flares, and that men require a higher genetic risk and/or greater degree of T cell DNA demethylation to achieve a lupus flare equal in severity to women.
PMCID: PMC3313010  PMID: 22305513
Genetic risk; epigenetics; DNA methylation; lupus; genetic-epigenetic interaction; sex-disparity
7.  Analysis of autosomal genes reveals gene–sex interactions and higher total genetic risk in men with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(5):694-699.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a sexually dimorphic autoimmune disease which is more common in women, but affected men often experience a more severe disease. The genetic basis of sexual dimorphism in SLE is not clearly defined. A study was undertaken to examine sex-specific genetic effects among SLE susceptibility loci.
A total of 18 autosomal genetic susceptibility loci for SLE were genotyped in a large set of patients with SLE and controls of European descent, consisting of 5932 female and 1495 male samples. Sex-specific genetic association analyses were performed. The sex–gene interaction was further validated using parametric and nonparametric methods. Aggregate differences in sex-specific genetic risk were examined by calculating a cumulative genetic risk score for SLE in each individual and comparing the average genetic risk between male and female patients.
A significantly higher cumulative genetic risk for SLE was observed in men than in women. (P = 4.52×10−8) A significant sex–gene interaction was seen primarily in the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) region but also in IRF5, whereby men with SLE possess a significantly higher frequency of risk alleles than women. The genetic effect observed in KIAA1542 is specific to women with SLE and does not seem to have a role in men.
The data indicate that men require a higher cumulative genetic load than women to develop SLE. These observations suggest that sex bias in autoimmunity could be influenced by autosomal genetic susceptibility loci.
PMCID: PMC3324666  PMID: 22110124
8.  Fine Mapping of Xq28: Both MECP2 and IRAK1 Contribute to Risk for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Multiple Ancestral Groups 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(3):437-444.
The Xq28 region containing IRAK1 and MECP2 has been identified as a risk locus for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in previous genetic association studies. However, due to the strong linkage disequilibrium between IRAK1 and MECP2, it remains unclear which gene is affected by the underlying causal variant(s) conferring risk of SLE.
We fine-mapped ≥136 SNPs in a ~227kb region on Xq28, containing IRAK1, MECP2 and 7 adjacent genes (L1CAM, AVPR2, ARHGAP4, NAA10, RENBP, HCFC1 and TMEM187), for association with SLE in 15,783 case-control subjects derived from 4 different ancestral groups.
Multiple SNPs showed strong association with SLE in European Americans, Asians and Hispanics at P<5×10−8 with consistent association in subjects with African ancestry. Of these, 6 SNPs located in the TMEM187-IRAK1-MECP2 region captured the underlying causal variant(s) residing in a common risk haplotype shared by all 4 ancestral groups. Among them, rs1059702 best explained the Xq28 association signals in conditional testings and exhibited the strongest P value in trans-ancestral meta-analysis (Pmeta=1.3×10−27, OR=1.43), and thus was considered to be the most-likely causal variant. The risk allele of rs1059702 results in the amino acid substitution S196F in IRAK1 and had previously been shown to increase NF-κB activity in vitro. We also found that the homozygous risk genotype of rs1059702 was associated with lower mRNA levels of MECP2, but not IRAK1, in SLE patients (P=0.0012) and healthy controls (P=0.0064).
These data suggest contributions of both IRAK1 and MECP2 to SLE susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3567234  PMID: 22904263
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Gene Polymorphism; Xq28; IRAK1; MECP2
9.  Evidence for gene-gene epistatic interactions among susceptibility loci for systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(2):485-492.
Several confirmed genetic susceptibility loci for lupus have been described. To date, no clear evidence for genetic epistasis is established in lupus. We test for gene-gene interactions in a number of known lupus susceptibility loci.
Eighteen SNPs tagging independent and confirmed lupus susceptibility loci were genotyped in a set of 4,248 lupus patients and 3,818 normal healthy controls of European descent. Epistasis was tested using a 2-step approach utilizing both parametric and non-parametric methods. The false discovery rate (FDR) method was used to correct for multiple testing.
We detected and confirmed gene-gene interactions between the HLA region and CTLA4, IRF5, and ITGAM, and between PDCD1 and IL21 in lupus patients. The most significant interaction detected by parametric analysis was between rs3131379 in the HLA region and rs231775 in CTLA4 (Interaction odds ratio=1.19, z-score= 3.95, P= 7.8×10−5 (FDR≤0.05), PMDR= 5.9×10−45). Importantly, our data suggest that in lupus patients the presence of the HLA lupus-risk alleles in rs1270942 and rs3131379 increases the odds of also carrying the lupus-risk allele in IRF5 (rs2070197) by 17% and 16%, respectively (P= 0.0028 and 0.0047).
We provide evidence for gene-gene epistasis in systemic lupus erythematosus. These findings support a role for genetic interaction contributing to the complexity of lupus heritability.
PMCID: PMC3268866  PMID: 21952918
10.  Ligand and receptor dynamics contribute to the mechanism of graded PPARγ agonism 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2012;20(1):139-150.
Ligand binding to proteins is not a static process, but rather involves a number of complex dynamic transitions. A flexible ligand can change conformation upon binding its target. The conformation and dynamics of a protein can change to facilitate ligand binding. The conformation of the ligand, however, is generally presumed to have one primary binding mode, shifting the protein conformational ensemble from one state to another. We report solution NMR studies that reveal peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) modulators can sample multiple binding modes manifesting in multiple receptor conformations in slow conformational exchange. Our NMR, hydrogen/deuterium exchange and docking studies reveal that ligand-induced receptor stabilization and binding mode occupancy correlate with the graded agonist response of the ligand. Our results suggest that ligand and receptor dynamics affect the graded transcriptional output of PPARγ modulators.
PMCID: PMC3278220  PMID: 22244763
11.  Regulation of Circadian Behavior and Metabolism by Synthetic REV-ERB Agonists 
Nature  2012;485(7396):62-68.
Synchronizing rhythms of behavior and metabolic processes is important for cardiovascular health and preventing metabolic diseases. The nuclear receptors REV-ERBα and REV-ERBβ play an integral role in regulating the expression of core clock proteins driving rhythms in activity and metabolism. Here we describe the identification of potent synthetic REV-ERB agonists with in vivo activity. Administration of synthetic REV-ERB ligands alters circadian behavior and the circadian pattern of core clock gene expression in the hypothalami of mice. The circadian pattern of expression of an array of metabolic genes in the liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue was also altered resulting in increased energy expenditure. Treatment of diet-induced obese mice with a REV-ERB agonist decreased obesity by reducing fat mass and markedly improving dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia. These results suggest that synthetic REV-ERB ligands that pharmacologically target the circadian rhythm may hold utility in the treatment of sleep disorders as well as metabolic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3343186  PMID: 22460951
12.  A putative functional variant within the ubiquitin-associated domain-containing protein 2 gene (UBAC2) is associated with increased risk of Behçet’s disease 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(11):3607-3612.
Using a genome-wide association scan and DNA pooling, we previously identified 5 novel genetic susceptibility loci for Behçet’s disease. Herein, we establish the genetic effect within the UBAC2 gene, replicate this genetic association, and identify a functional variant within this locus.
A total of 676 Behçet’s disease patients and 1,096 controls were studied. The discovery set included 156 patients and 167 controls from Turkey, and the replication sets included 376 patients and 369 controls, and 144 patients and 560 controls, from Turkey and Italy, respectively. Genotyping of 14 SNPs within and around UBAC2 was performed using TaqMan SNP genotyping assays.
The genetic association between Behçet’s disease and UBAC2 was established, replicated and confirmed (Meta-analysis OR= 1.84, meta-analysis P= 1.69X10−7). Haplotype analysis identified both a disease risk and a protective haplotype (P= 0.00014 and 0.0075, respectively). Using conditional haplotype analysis we identified the SNP rs7999348 (A/G) within UBAC2 as the most likely SNP with a genetic effect independent of the haplotypic effect formed by the remaining associated SNPs in this locus. Indeed, we demonstrate that rs7999348 tags a functional variant associated with increased mRNA expression of a UBAC2 transcript variant in PBMCs of individuals homozygous for the Behçet’s disease-associated “G” allele. Further, our data suggest the possibility of multiple genetic effects that increase susceptibility to Behçet’s disease in the UBAC2 locus.
We established and confirmed the genetic association between UBAC2 and Behçet’s disease in three independent sets of patients and controls. We identified the minor allele in rs7999348 as a disease-risk allele that tags altered UBAC2 expression.
PMCID: PMC3205238  PMID: 21918955
13.  Fine mapping and trans-ethnic genotyping establish IL2/IL21 genetic association with lupus and localize this genetic effect to IL21 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(6):1689-1697.
Genetic association of the IL2/IL21 region at 4q27 has been previously reported in lupus and a number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Herein, using a very large cohort of lupus patients and controls, we localize this genetic effect to the IL21 gene.
We genotyped 45 tag SNPs across the IL2/IL21 locus in two large independent lupus sample sets. We studied a European-derived set consisting of 4,248 lupus patients and 3,818 healthy controls, and an African-American set of 1,569 patients and 1,893 healthy controls. Imputation in 3,004 WTCCC additional control individuals was also performed. Genetic association between the genotyped markers was determined, and pair-wise conditional analysis was performed to localize the independent genetic effect in the IL2/IL21 locus in lupus.
We established and confirmed the genetic association between IL2/IL21 and lupus. Using conditional analysis and trans-ethnic mapping, we localized the genetic effect in this locus to two SNPs in high linkage disequilibrium; rs907715 located within IL21 (OR=1.16 (1.10–1.22), P= 2.17 ×10−8), and rs6835457 located in the 3’-UTR flanking region of IL21 (OR= 1.11 (1.05–1.17), P= 9.35×10−5).
We have established the genetic association between lupus and IL2/IL21 with a genome-wide level of significance. Further, we localized this genetic association within the IL2/IL21 linkage disequilibrium block to IL21. If other autoimmune IL2/IL21 genetic associations are similarly localized, then the IL21 risk alleles would be predicted to operate in a fundamental mechanism that influences the course of a number of autoimmune disease processes.
PMCID: PMC3106139  PMID: 21425124
15.  The role of epigenetic variation in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus 
The focus of the present review is on the extent to which epigenetic alterations influence the development of systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of autoantibodies directed at nuclear self-antigens. A DNA methylation defect in CD4+ T cells has long been observed in idiopathic and drug-induced lupus. Recent studies utilizing high-throughput technologies have further characterized the nature of the DNA methylation defect in lupus CD4+ T cells. Emerging evidence in the literature is revealing an increasingly interconnected network of epigenetic dysregulation in lupus. Recent reports describe variable expression of a number of regulatory microRNAs in lupus CD4+ T cells, some of which govern the expression of DNA methyltransferase 1. While studies to date have revealed a significant role for epigenetic defects in the pathogenesis of lupus, the causal nature of epigenetic variation in lupus remains elusive. Future longitudinal epigenetic studies in lupus are therefore needed.
PMCID: PMC3308098  PMID: 22044622
16.  Early disease onset is predicted by a higher genetic risk for lupus and is associated with a more severe phenotype in lupus patients 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;70(1):151-156.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, multiorgan, autoimmune disease that affects people of all ages and ethnicities.
To explore the relationship between age at disease onset and many of the diverse manifestations of SLE. Additionally, to determine the relationship between age of disease onset and genetic risk in patients with SLE.
The relationship between the age at disease onset and SLE manifestations were explored in a multiracial cohort of 1317 patients. Patients with SLE were genotyped across 19 confirmed genetic susceptibility loci for SLE. Logistic regression was used to determine the relationships between the number of risk alleles present and age of disease onset.
Childhood-onset SLE had higher odds of proteinuria, malar rash, anti-dsDNA antibody, haemolytic anaemia, arthritis and leucopenia (OR=3.03, 2.13, 2.08, 2.50, 1.89, 1.53, respectively; p values <0.0001, 0.0004, 0.0005, 0.0024, 0.0114, 0.045, respectively). In female subjects, the odds of having cellular casts were 2.18 times higher in childhood-onset than in adult-onset SLE (p=0.0027). With age of onset ≥50, the odds of having proteinuria, cellular casts, anti-nRNP antibody, anti-Sm antibody, anti-dsDNA antibody and seizures were reduced. However, late adult-onset patients with SLE have higher odds of developing photosensitivity than early adult-onset patients. Each SLE-susceptibility risk allele carried within the genome of patients with SLE increased the odds of having a childhood-onset disease in a race-specific manner: by an average of 48% in Gullah and 25% in African-Americans, but this was not significant in Hispanic and European-American lupus patients.
The genetic contribution towards predicting early-onset disease in patients with SLE is quantified for the first time. A more severe SLE phenotype is found in patients with early-onset disease in a large multi-racial cohort, independent of gender, race and disease duration.
PMCID: PMC3034281  PMID: 20881011
17.  Evidence that opioids may have toll like receptor 4 and MD-2 effects 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2009;24(1):83-95.
Opioid-induced proinflammatory glial activation modulates wide-ranging aspects of opioid pharmacology including: opposition of acute and chronic opioid analgesia, opioid analgesic tolerance, opioid-induced hyperalgesia, development of opioid dependence, opioid reward, and opioid respiratory depression. However, the mechanism(s) contributing to opioid-induced proinflammatory actions remains unresolved. The potential involvement of toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) was examined using in vitro, in vivo, and in silico techniques. Morphine non-stereoselectively induced TLR4 signaling in vitro, blocked by a classical TLR4 antagonist and non-stereoselectively by naloxone. Pharmacological blockade of TLR4 signaling in vivo potentiated acute intrathecal morphine analgesia, attenuated development of analgesic tolerance, hyperalgesia, and opioid withdrawal behaviors. TLR4 opposition to opioid actions was supported by morphine treatment of TLR4 knockout mice, which revealed a significant threefold leftward shift in the analgesia dose response function, versus wildtype mice. A range of structurally diverse clinically employed opioid analgesics was found to be capable of activating TLR4 signaling in vitro. Selectivity in the response was identified since morphine-3-glucuronide, a morphine metabolite with no opioid receptor activity, displayed significant TLR4 activity, whilst the opioid receptor active metabolite, morphine-6-glucuronide, was devoid of such properties. In silico docking simulations revealed ligands bound preferentially to the LPS binding pocket of MD-2 rather than TLR4. An in silico to in vitro prediction model was built and tested with substantial accuracy. These data provide evidence that select opioids may non-stereoselectively influence TLR4 signaling and have behavioral consequences resulting, in part, via TLR4 signaling.
PMCID: PMC2788078  PMID: 19679181
toll like receptor 4; knockout; opioid; analgesia; dependence; glia; microglia
18.  Immunological priming potentiates non-viral anti-inflammatory gene therapy treatment of neuropathic pain 
Gene therapy  2009;16(10):1210-1222.
We recently described a non-viral gene therapy paradigm offering long-term resolution of established neuropathic pain in several animal models. Here, the requirements for long term therapeutic effects are described, and evidence is provided for a mechanism of action based on immunological priming of the intrathecal space. Long-term pain reversal was achieved when two intrathecal injections of various naked plasmid DNA doses were separated by 5 hr to 3 days. We demonstrate that an initial DNA injection, regardless of whether a transgene is included, leads to an accumulation of phagocytic innate immune cells. This accumulation coincides with the time in which subsequent DNA injection efficacy is potentiated. We demonstrate the ability of non-coding DNA to induce short term pain reversal that is dependent on endogenous interleukin-10 (IL-10) signaling. Long term efficacy requires the inclusion of an IL-10F129S transgene in the second injection. Blockade of IL-10, via neutralizing antibody, either between the two injections or following the second injection induces therapeutic failure. These results demonstrate that this gene therapy paradigm utilizes an initial “priming” injection of DNA to induce accumulation of phagocytic immune cells, allowing for potentiated efficacy of a subsequent “therapeutic” DNA injection in a time and dose dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC2762489  PMID: 19571887
non-viral; interleukin-10; neuropathic pain; CNS
19.  Intrathecal polymer-based interleukin-10* gene delivery for neuropathic pain 
Neuron glia biology  2006;2(4):293-308.
Research on communication between glia and neurons has increased in the past decade. The onset of neuropathic pain, a major clinical problem that is not resolved by available therapeutics, involves activation of spinal cord glia through the release of proinflammatory cytokines in acute animal models of neuropathic pain. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that the spinal action of the proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin 1 (IL-1) is involved in maintaining persistent (2 months) allodynia induced by chronic-constriction injury (CCI). The anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 can suppress proinflammatory cytokines and spinal cord glial amplification of pain. Given that IL-1 is a key mediator of neuropathic pain, developing a clinically viable means of long-term delivery of IL-10 to the spinal cord is desirable. High doses of intrathecal IL-10-gene therapy using naked plasmid DNA (free pDNA-IL-10) is effective, but the dose required limits its potential clinical utility. Here we show that intrathecal gene therapy for neuropathic pain is improved sufficiently using two, distinct synthetic polymers, poly(lactic-co-glycolic) and polyethylenimine, that substantially lower doses of pDNA-IL-10 are effective. In conclusion, synthetic polymers used as i.t. gene-delivery systems are well-tolerated and improve the long-duration efficacy of pDNA-IL-10 gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC2133369  PMID: 18079973
Glia; rats; allodynia; chronic constriction injury; neuropathic pain; polymer plasmid-DNA; gene therapy

Results 1-19 (19)