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1.  Production and validation of a good manufacturing practice grade human fibroblast line for supporting human embryonic stem cell derivation and culture 
Introduction
The development of reproducible methods for deriving human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines in compliance with good manufacturing practice (GMP) is essential for the development of hESC-based therapies. Although significant progress has been made toward the development of chemically defined conditions for the maintenance and differentiation of hESCs, efficient derivation of new hESCs requires the use of fibroblast feeder cells. However, GMP-grade feeder cell lines validated for hESC derivation are not readily available.
Methods
We derived a fibroblast cell line (NclFed1A) from human foreskin in compliance with GMP standards. Consent was obtained to use the cells for the production of hESCs and to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). We compared the line with a variety of other cell lines for its ability to support derivation and self-renewal of hESCs.
Results
NclFed1A supports efficient rates (33%) of hESC colony formation after explantation of the inner cell mass (ICM) of human blastocysts. This compared favorably with two mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cell lines. NclFed1A also compared favorably with commercially available foreskin fibroblasts and MEFs in promoting proliferation and pluripotency of a number of existing and widely used hESCs. The ability of NclFed1A to maintain self-renewal remained undiminished for up to 28 population doublings from the master cell bank.
Conclusions
The human fibroblast line Ncl1Fed1A, produced in compliance with GMP standards and qualified for derivation and maintenance of hESCs, is a useful resource for the advancement of progress toward hESC-based therapies in regenerative medicine.
doi:10.1186/scrt103
PMCID: PMC3392772  PMID: 22472092
2.  Beta-Carotene Reduces Body Adiposity of Mice via BCMO1 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20644.
Evidence from cell culture studies indicates that β-carotene-(BC)-derived apocarotenoid signaling molecules can modulate the activities of nuclear receptors that regulate many aspects of adipocyte physiology. Two BC metabolizing enzymes, the BC-15,15′-oxygenase (Bcmo1) and the BC-9′,10′-oxygenase (Bcdo2) are expressed in adipocytes. Bcmo1 catalyzes the conversion of BC into retinaldehyde and Bcdo2 into β-10′-apocarotenal and β-ionone. Here we analyzed the impact of BC on body adiposity of mice. To genetically dissect the roles of Bcmo1 and Bcdo2 in this process, we used wild-type and Bcmo1-/- mice for this study. In wild-type mice, BC was converted into retinoids. In contrast, Bcmo1-/- mice showed increased expression of Bcdo2 in adipocytes and β-10′-apocarotenol accumulated as the major BC derivative. In wild-type mice, BC significantly reduced body adiposity (by 28%), leptinemia and adipocyte size. Genome wide microarray analysis of inguinal white adipose tissue revealed a generalized decrease of mRNA expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) target genes. Consistently, the expression of this key transcription factor for lipogenesis was significantly reduced both on the mRNA and protein levels. Despite β-10′-apocarotenoid production, this effect of BC was absent in Bcmo1-/- mice, demonstrating that it was dependent on the Bcmo1-mediated production of retinoids. Our study evidences an important role of BC for the control of body adiposity in mice and identifies Bcmo1 as critical molecular player for the regulation of PPARγ activity in adipocytes
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020644
PMCID: PMC3106009  PMID: 21673813
3.  The Micronutrient Genomics Project: a community-driven knowledge base for micronutrient research 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;5(4):285-296.
Micronutrients influence multiple metabolic pathways including oxidative and inflammatory processes. Optimum micronutrient supply is important for the maintenance of homeostasis in metabolism and, ultimately, for maintaining good health. With advances in systems biology and genomics technologies, it is becoming feasible to assess the activity of single and multiple micronutrients in their complete biological context. Existing research collects fragments of information, which are not stored systematically and are thus not optimally disseminated. The Micronutrient Genomics Project (MGP) was established as a community-driven project to facilitate the development of systematic capture, storage, management, analyses, and dissemination of data and knowledge generated by biological studies focused on micronutrient–genome interactions. Specifically, the MGP creates a public portal and open-source bioinformatics toolbox for all “omics” information and evaluation of micronutrient and health studies. The core of the project focuses on access to, and visualization of, genetic/genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic information related to micronutrients. For each micronutrient, an expert group is or will be established combining the various relevant areas (including genetics, nutrition, biochemistry, and epidemiology). Each expert group will (1) collect all available knowledge, (2) collaborate with bioinformatics teams towards constructing the pathways and biological networks, and (3) publish their findings on a regular basis. The project is coordinated in a transparent manner, regular meetings are organized and dissemination is arranged through tools, a toolbox web portal, a communications website and dedicated publications.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0192-8
PMCID: PMC2989004  PMID: 21189865
Micronutrient; Bioinformatics; Database; Genomics
4.  The Micronutrient Genomics Project: a community-driven knowledge base for micronutrient research 
Genes & Nutrition  2010;5(4):285-296.
Micronutrients influence multiple metabolic pathways including oxidative and inflammatory processes. Optimum micronutrient supply is important for the maintenance of homeostasis in metabolism and, ultimately, for maintaining good health. With advances in systems biology and genomics technologies, it is becoming feasible to assess the activity of single and multiple micronutrients in their complete biological context. Existing research collects fragments of information, which are not stored systematically and are thus not optimally disseminated. The Micronutrient Genomics Project (MGP) was established as a community-driven project to facilitate the development of systematic capture, storage, management, analyses, and dissemination of data and knowledge generated by biological studies focused on micronutrient–genome interactions. Specifically, the MGP creates a public portal and open-source bioinformatics toolbox for all “omics” information and evaluation of micronutrient and health studies. The core of the project focuses on access to, and visualization of, genetic/genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic information related to micronutrients. For each micronutrient, an expert group is or will be established combining the various relevant areas (including genetics, nutrition, biochemistry, and epidemiology). Each expert group will (1) collect all available knowledge, (2) collaborate with bioinformatics teams towards constructing the pathways and biological networks, and (3) publish their findings on a regular basis. The project is coordinated in a transparent manner, regular meetings are organized and dissemination is arranged through tools, a toolbox web portal, a communications website and dedicated publications.
doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0192-8
PMCID: PMC2989004  PMID: 21189865
Micronutrient; Bioinformatics; Database; Genomics
5.  Knockout of the Bcmo1 gene results in an inflammatory response in female lung, which is suppressed by dietary beta-carotene 
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences   2010;67(12):2039-2056.
Beta-carotene 15,15′-monooxygenase 1 knockout (Bcmo1−/−) mice accumulate beta-carotene (BC) similarly to humans, whereas wild-type (Bcmo1+/+) mice efficiently cleave BC. Bcmo1−/− mice are therefore suitable to investigate BC-induced alterations in gene expression in lung, assessed by microarray analysis. Bcmo1−/− mice receiving control diet had increased expression of inflammatory genes as compared to BC-supplemented Bcmo1−/− mice and Bcmo1+/+ mice that received either control or BC-supplemented diets. Differential gene expression in Bcmo1−/− mice was confirmed by real-time quantitative PCR. Histochemical analysis indeed showed an increase in inflammatory cells in lungs of control Bcmo1−/− mice. Supported by metabolite and gene-expression data, we hypothesize that the increased inflammatory response is due to an altered BC metabolism, resulting in an increased vitamin A requirement in Bcmo1−/− mice. This suggests that effects of BC may depend on inter-individual variations in BC-metabolizing enzymes, such as the frequently occurring human polymorphisms in BCMO1.
doi:10.1007/s00018-010-0341-7
PMCID: PMC2877315  PMID: 20372966
ATBC and CARET study; Beta-carotene 15,15′-monooxygenase 1; Whole-mouse genome microarray gene expression; Inflammation; Vitamin A deficiency; ADH7; LRAT
6.  β-Carotene conversion products and their effects on adipose tissue 
Genes & Nutrition  2009;4(3):179-187.
Recent epidemiological data suggest that β-carotene may be protective against metabolic diseases in which adipose tissue plays a key role. Adipose tissue constitutes the major β-carotene storage tissue and its functions have been shown to be modulated in response to β-carotene breakdown products, especially retinal produced after cleavage by β-carotene 15,15′-monooxygenase (BCMO1), and retinoic acid arising from oxidation of retinal. However, the possibility exists that β-carotene in its intact form can also affect adipocyte function. Development of a knock out model and identification of a loss-of-function mutation have pointed out BCMO1 as being probably the sole enzyme responsible for provitamin A conversion into retinal in mammals. The utilisation of BCMO1−/−mice should provide insights on β-carotene effect on its own in the future. In humans, intervention studies have highlighted the huge interindividual variation of β-carotene conversion efficiency, possibly due to genetic polymorphisms, which might impact on response to β-carotene. This brief review discusses the processes involved in β-carotene conversion and the effect of cleavage products on body fat and adipose tissue function.
doi:10.1007/s12263-009-0128-3
PMCID: PMC2745744  PMID: 19557453
β-Carotene; Vitamin A; Adipose tissue; Metabolic diseases; Genetic variants
7.  The challenges for molecular nutrition research 1: linking genotype to healthy nutrition 
Genes & Nutrition  2008;3(2):41-49.
Nutrition science finds itself at a major crossroad. On the one hand we can continue the current path, which has resulted in some substantial advances, but also many conflicting messages which impair the trust of the general population, especially those who are motivated to improve their health through diet. The other road is uncharted and is being built over the many exciting new developments in life sciences. This new era of nutrition recognizes the complex relation between the health of the individual, its genome, and the life-long dietary exposure, and has lead to the realisation that nutrition is essentially a gene–environment interaction science. This review on the relation between genotype, diet and health is the first of a series dealing with the major challenges in molecular nutrition, analyzing the foundations of nutrition research. With the unravelling of the human genome and the linking of its variability to a multitude of phenotypes from “healthy” to an enormously complex range of predispositions, the dietary modulation of these propensities has become an area of active research. Classical genetic approaches applied so far in medical genetics have steered away from incorporating dietary effects in their models and paradoxically, most genetic studies analyzing diet-associated phenotypes and diseases simply ignore diet. Yet, a modest but increasing number of studies are accounting for diet as a modulator of genetic associations. These range from observational cohorts to intervention studies with prospectively selected genotypes. New statistical and bioinformatics approaches are becoming available to aid in design and evaluation of these studies. This review discusses the various approaches used and provides concrete recommendations for future research.
doi:10.1007/s12263-008-0086-1
PMCID: PMC2467452  PMID: 18850186
Nutrigenetics; Nutrigenomics; Genotype; Candidate gene

Results 1-7 (7)