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1.  Chronic variable stress activates hematopoietic stem cells 
Nature medicine  2014;20(7):754-758.
Exposure to psychosocial stress is a risk factor for many diseases, including atherosclerosis1,2. While incompletely understood, interaction between the psyche and the immune system provides one potential mechanism linking stress and disease inception and progression. Known crosstalk between the brain and immune system includes the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which centrally drives glucocorticoid production in the adrenal cortex, and the sympathetic–adrenal–medullary axis, which controls stress–induced catecholamine release in support of the fight–or–flight reflex3,4. It remains unknown however if chronic stress changes hematopoietic stem cell activity. Here we show that stress increases proliferation of these most primitive progenitors, giving rise to higher levels of disease–promoting inflammatory leukocytes. We found that chronic stress induced monocytosis and neutrophilia in humans. While investigating the source of leukocytosis in mice, we discovered that stress activates upstream hematopoietic stem cells. Sympathetic nerve fibers release surplus noradrenaline, which uses the β3 adrenergic receptor to signal bone marrow niche cells to decrease CXCL12 levels. Consequently, elevated hematopoietic stem cell proliferation increases output of neutrophils and inflammatory monocytes. When atherosclerosis–prone ApoE−/− mice encounter chronic stress, accelerated hematopoiesis promotes plaque features associated with vulnerable lesions that cause myocardial infarction and stroke in humans.
doi:10.1038/nm.3589
PMCID: PMC4087061  PMID: 24952646
2.  The innate immune system after ischemic injury — lessons to be learned from the heart and brain 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(2):233-236.
Innate immune cells are critically involved in ischemic complications of atherosclerosis. While new insight emerged on the origin and role of leukocytes in steady state, the knowledge about myeloid cell's sources, functions and fate after stroke is limited. In our review, we highlight open questions in this important area while examining potential parallels in the immune response after stroke and myocardial infarction. We stress the need to better understand systemic interactions between ischemic tissue, immunity and hematopoiesis, as turn over of leukocytes in inflammatory sites can be rapid, and cell production and supply may serve as future therapeutic targets to modulate inflammation in the vessel wall, the brain and heart.
doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.5026
PMCID: PMC3946050  PMID: 24296962
3.  Monocyte-directed RNAi targeting CCR2 improves infarct healing in atherosclerosis-prone mice 
Circulation  2013;127(20):2038-2046.
Background
Exaggerated and prolonged inflammation after myocardial infarction (MI) accelerates left ventricular remodeling. Inflammatory pathways may present a therapeutic target to prevent post-MI heart failure. However, the appropriate magnitude and timing of interventions are largely unknown, in part because noninvasive monitoring tools are lacking. We here employed nanoparticle-facilitated silencing of CCR2, the chemokine receptor that governs inflammatory Ly-6Chigh monocyte subset traffic, to reduce infarct inflammation in apoE−/− mice after MI. We used dual target PET/MRI of transglutaminase factor XIII (FXIII) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity to monitor how monocyte subset-targeted RNAi altered infarct inflammation and healing.
Methods and Results
Flow cytometry, gene expression analysis and histology revealed reduced monocyte numbers and enhanced resolution of inflammation in infarcted hearts of apoE−/− mice that were treated with nanoparticle-encapsulated siRNA. To follow extracellular matrix crosslinking non-invasively, we developed a fluorine-18 labeled PET agent (18F-FXIII). Recruitment of MPO-rich inflammatory leukocytes was imaged using a molecular MRI sensor of MPO activity (MPO-Gd). PET/MRI detected anti-inflammatory effects of intravenous nanoparticle-facilitated siRNA therapy (75% decrease of MPO-Gd signal, p<0.05) while 18F-FXIII PET reflected unimpeded matrix crosslinking in the infarct. Silencing of CCR2 during the first week after MI improved ejection fraction on day 21 after MI from 29 to 35% (p<0.05).
Conclusion
CCR2 targeted RNAi reduced recruitment of Ly-6Chigh monocytes, attenuated infarct inflammation and curbed post-MI left ventricular remodeling.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.000116
PMCID: PMC3661714  PMID: 23616627
myocardial infarction; remodeling; monocytes; RNAi; PET/MRI
4.  Myocardial infarction accelerates atherosclerosis 
Nature  2012;487(7407):325-329.
SUMMARY
During progression of atherosclerosis, myeloid cells destabilize lipid-rich plaque in the arterial wall and cause its rupture, thus triggering myocardial infarction and stroke. Survivors of acute coronary syndromes have a high risk of recurrent events for unknown reasons. Here we show that the systemic response to ischemic injury aggravates chronic atherosclerosis. After myocardial infarction or stroke, apoE−/− mice developed larger atherosclerotic lesions with a more advanced morphology. This disease acceleration persisted over many weeks and was associated with markedly increased monocyte recruitment. When seeking the source of surplus monocytes in plaque, we found that myocardial infarction liberated hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from bone marrow niches via sympathetic nervous system signaling. The progenitors then seeded the spleen yielding a sustained boost in monocyte production. These observations provide new mechanistic insight into atherogenesis and provide a novel therapeutic opportunity to mitigate disease progression.
doi:10.1038/nature11260
PMCID: PMC3401326  PMID: 22763456
6.  Therapeutic siRNA silencing in inflammatory monocytes 
Nature Biotechnology  2011;29(11):1005-1010.
Inflammatory monocytes -- but not the non-inflammatory subset -- depend on the chemokine receptor CCR2 for distribution to injured tissue and stimulate disease progression. Precise therapeutic targeting of this inflammatory monocyte subset could spare innate immunity's essential functions for maintenance of homeostasis and thus limit unwanted effects. Here we developed siRNA nanoparticles targeting CCR2 expression in inflammatory monocytes. We identified an optimized lipid nanoparticle and silencing siRNA sequence that when administered systemically, had rapid blood clearance, accumulated in spleen and bone marrow and showed high cellular localization of fluorescently tagged siRNA inside monocytes. Efficient degradation of CCR2 mRNA in monocytes prevented their accumulation in sites of inflammation. Specifically, the treatment attenuated their number in atherosclerotic plaques, reduced infarct size following coronary artery occlusion, prolonged normoglycemia in diabetic mice after pancreatic islet transplantation and resulted in reduced tumor volumes and lower numbers of tumor-associated macrophages. Taken together, siRNA nanoparticle-mediated CCR2 gene silencing in leukocytes selectively modulates functions of innate immune cell subtypes and may allow for the development of specific anti-inflammatory therapy.
doi:10.1038/nbt.1989
PMCID: PMC3212614  PMID: 21983520
8.  IL-6-Dependent PGE2 Secretion by Mesenchymal Stem Cells Inhibits Local Inflammation in Experimental Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14247.
Background
Based on their capacity to suppress immune responses, multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are intensively studied for various clinical applications. Although it has been shown in vitro that the immunomodulatory effect of MSCs mainly occurs through the secretion of soluble mediators, the mechanism is still not completely understood. The aim of the present study was to better understand the mechanisms underlying the suppressive effect of MSCs in vivo, using cells isolated from mice deficient in the production of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) or interleukin (IL)-6 in the murine model of collagen-induced arthritis.
Principal Findings
In the present study, we show that primary murine MSCs from various strains of mice or isolated from mice deficient for iNOS or IL-6 exhibit different immunosuppressive potential. The immunomodulatory function of MSCs was mainly attributed to IL-6-dependent secretion of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) with a minor role for NO. To address the role of these molecules in vivo, we used the collagen-induced arthritis as an experimental model of immune-mediated disorder. MSCs effectively inhibited collagen-induced inflammation during a narrow therapeutic window. In contrast to wild type MSCs, IL-6-deficient MSCs and to a lesser extent iNOS-deficient MSCs were not able to reduce the clinical signs of arthritis. Finally, we show that, independently of NO or IL-6 secretion or Treg cell induction, MSCs modulate the host response by inducing a switch to a Th2 immune response.
Significance
Our data indicate that MSCs mediate their immunosuppressive effect via two modes of action: locally, they reduce inflammation through the secretion of anti-proliferative mediators, such as NO and mainly PGE2, and systemically they switch the host response from a Th1/Th17 towards a Th2 immune profile.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014247
PMCID: PMC2998425  PMID: 21151872

Results 1-8 (8)