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Placenta  2012;33(10):816-823.
Preeclampsia (PE) affects 5–8% of all pregnancies and is associated with significant maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Placental mitochondrial dysfunction has been reported in PE. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression through mRNA degradation and translational repression. MiR-210 has been previously shown to be up regulated in placentas from pregnancies complicated by PE. We hypothesized that placental mitochondrial dysfunction during PE can be mediated by miR-210. Placentas were collected at term from normotensive pregnancies (CTRL) and those complicated by severe PE (n=6 each) following c-section (no labor). Villous tissue from PE showed significantly increased levels of HIF-1α compared to CTRL with no change in corresponding mRNA expression but with reduced DNA-binding activity. Mitochondrial complex III was significantly decreased in PE along with significantly reduced protein expression in complex I and IV during PE. Among the four miRNAs tested, miR-210 showed significant up regulation in PE and significant down regulation of its target, ISCU mRNA. To understand the role of miR-210 in PE, loss- and gain-of-function studies were performed using primary trophoblasts. Trophoblasts were transfected with miR-210 inhibitor or pre-miR-210 and mitochondrial function was measured using Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer. Cells transfected with pre-miR-210 showed significant reduction in oxygen consumption. In contrast, transfection of trophoblast with AntagomiR-210 was sufficient to prevent the DFO-mediated respiratory deficiency. These data collectively suggest that miR-210 over expression during PE could be responsible for placental mitochondria dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3439551  PMID: 22840297
placenta; mitochondria; miR-210; preeclampsia
2.  Resistance to experimental tumorigenesis in cells of a long-lived mammal, the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) 
Aging cell  2010;9(4):626-635.
The naked mole-rat (NMR, Heterocephalus glaber) is a long-lived mammal in which spontaneous cancer has not been observed. In order to investigate possible mechanisms for cancer resistance in this species, we studied the properties of skin fibroblasts from the NMR following transduction with oncogenes that cause cells of other mammalian species to form malignant tumors. NMR fibroblasts were transduced with a retrovirus encoding SV40 large T antigen and oncogenic RasG12V. Following transplantation of transduced cells into immunodeficient mice, cells rapidly entered crisis, as evidenced by the presence of anaphase bridges, giant cells with enlarged nuclei, multinucleated cells, and cells with large number of chromosomes or abnormal chromatin material. In contrast, similarly transduced mouse and rat fibroblasts formed tumors that grew rapidly without crisis. Crisis was also observed after >40 population doublings in SV40 TAg/Ras-expressing NMR cells in culture. Crisis in culture was prevented by additional infection of the cells with a retrovirus encoding hTERT (telomerase reverse transcriptase). SV40 TAg/Ras/hTERT-expressing NMR cells formed tumors that grew rapidly in immunodeficient mice without evidence of crisis. Crisis could also be induced in SV40 TAg/Ras-expressing NMR cells by loss of anchorage, but after hTERT transduction cells were able to proliferate normally following loss of anchorage. Thus, rapid crisis is a response of oncogene-expressing NMR cells to growth in an in vivo environment, which requires anchorage independence, and hTERT permits cells to avoid crisis and to achieve malignant tumor growth. The unique reaction of NMR cells to oncogene expression may form part of the cancer resistance of this species.
PMCID: PMC3743245  PMID: 20550519
Naked mole-rat; longevity; cancer resistance; oncogenes; crisis; DNAdamage
3.  Measurement of mitochondrial respiration in trophoblast culture 
Placenta  2012;33(5):456-458.
Pregnancy is a state of oxidative stress, which becomes exaggerated under pathological conditions, such as preeclampsia, IUGR, diabetes and obesity, where placental mitochondrial dysfunction is observed. The majority of investigations utilize isolated mitochondria when measuring mitochondrial activity in placenta. However, this does not provide a complete physiological readout of mitochondrial function. This technical note describes a method to measure respiratory function in intact primary syncytiotrophoblast from human term placenta.
PMCID: PMC3402169  PMID: 22336334
placenta; mitochondria; trophoblast; oxygen consumption; hypoxia
4.  Nrf2, a Guardian of Healthspan and Gatekeeper of Species Longevity 
Although aging is a ubiquitous process that prevails in all organisms, the mechanisms governing both the rate of decline in functionality and the age of onset remain elusive. A profound constitutively upregulated cytoprotective response is commonly observed in naturally long-lived species and experimental models of extensions to lifespan (e.g., genetically-altered and/or experimentally manipulated organisms), as indicated by enhanced resistance to stress and upregulated downstream components of the cytoprotective nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-signaling pathway. The transcription factor Nrf2 is constitutively expressed in all tissues, although levels may vary among organs, with the key detoxification organs (kidney and liver) exhibiting highest levels. Nrf2 may be further induced by cellular stressors including endogenous reactive-oxygen species or exogenous electrophiles. The Nrf2-signaling pathway mediates multiple avenues of cytoprotection by activating the transcription of more than 200 genes that are crucial in the metabolism of drugs and toxins, protection against oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as playing an integral role in stability of proteins and in the removal of damaged proteins via proteasomal degradation or autophagy. Nrf2 interacts with other important cell regulators such as tumor suppressor protein 53 (p53) and nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-κB) and through their combined interactions is the guardian of healthspan, protecting against many age-related diseases including cancer and neurodegeneration. We hypothesize that this signaling pathway plays a critical role in the determination of species longevity and that this pathway may indeed be the master regulator of the aging process.
PMCID: PMC2965188  PMID: 21031035
5.  Overexpression of Mn Superoxide Dismutase Does Not Increase Life Span in Mice 
Genetic manipulations of Mn superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), SOD2 expression have demonstrated that altering the level of MnSOD activity is critical for cellular function and life span in invertebrates. In mammals, Sod2 homozygous knockout mice die shortly after birth, and alterations of MnSOD levels are correlated with changes in oxidative damage and in the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. In this study, we directly tested the effects of overexpressing MnSOD in young (4–6 months) and old (26–28 months) mice on mitochondrial function, levels of oxidative damage or stress, life span, and end-of-life pathology. Our data show that an approximately twofold overexpression of MnSOD throughout life in mice resulted in decreased lipid peroxidation, increased resistance against paraquat-induced oxidative stress, and decreased age-related decline in mitochondrial ATP production. However, this change in MnSOD expression did not alter either life span or age-related pathology.
PMCID: PMC2759571  PMID: 19633237
Oxidative damage; Mn superoxide dismutase; Pathology; Aging
6.  Is the Oxidative Stress Theory of Aging Dead? 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2009;1790(10):1005-1014.
Currently, the Oxidative Stress (or Free Radical) Theory of Aging is the most popular explanation of how aging occurs at the molecular level. While data from studies in invertebrates (e.g., C. elegans and Drosophila) and rodents show a correlation between increased lifespan and resistance to oxidative stress (and in some cases reduced oxidative damage to macromolecules), direct evidence showing that alterations in oxidative damage/stress play a role in aging are limited to a few studies with transgenic Drosophila that overexpress antioxidant enzymes. Over the past eight years, our laboratory has conducted an exhaustive study on the effect of under- or overexpressing a large number and wide variety of genes coding for antioxidant enzymes. In this review, we present the survival data from these studies together. Because only one (the deletion of the Sod1 gene) of the 18 genetic manipulations we studied had an effect on lifespan, our data calls into serious question the hypothesis that alterations in oxidative damage/stress play a role in the longevity of mice.
PMCID: PMC2789432  PMID: 19524016
Antioxidant defense; oxidative stress; oxidative damage; knockout mice; transgenic mice; longevity
7.  The oxidative stress theory of aging: embattled or invincible? Insights from non-traditional model organisms 
Age  2008;30(2-3):99-109.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS), inevitable byproducts of aerobic metabolism, are known to cause oxidative damage to cells and molecules. This, in turn, is widely accepted as a pivotal determinant of both lifespan and health span. While studies in a wide range of species support the role of ROS in many age-related diseases, its role in aging per se is questioned. Comparative data from a wide range of endotherms offer equivocal support for this theory, with many exceptions and inconclusive findings as to whether or not oxidative stress is either a correlate or a determinant of maximum species lifespan. Available data do not support the premise that metabolic rate and in vivo ROS production are determinants of lifespan, or that superior antioxidant defense contributes to species longevity. Rather, published studies often show either a negative associate or lack of correlation with species longevity. Furthermore, many long-living species such as birds, bats and mole-rats exhibit high levels of oxidative damage even at young ages. Similarly genetic manipulations altering expression of key antioxidants do not necessarily show an impact on lifespan, even though oxidative damage levels may be affected. While it is possible that these multiple exceptions to straightforward predictions of the free radical theory of aging all reflect species-specific, “private” mechanisms of aging, the preponderance of contrary data nevertheless present a challenge to this august theory. Therefore, contrary to accepted dogma, the role of oxidative stress as a determinant of longevity is still open to question.
PMCID: PMC2527631  PMID: 19424860
Aging; Bats; Birds; Comparative biology of aging; Lifespan; Mole-rats; Oxidative stress

Results 1-7 (7)