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1.  N-acetylated Proline–Glycine–Proline induced G-protein dependent chemotaxis of neutrophils is independent of CXCL8 release 
European journal of pharmacology  2011;668(3):428-434.
Chronic inflammation in lung diseases contributes to lung tissue destruction leading to the formation of chemotactic collagen fragments such as N-acetylated Proline–Glycine–Proline (N-ac-PGP). In this study, we investigated in more detail the mechanism of action of N-ac-PGP in neutrophilic inflammation. N-ac-PGP was chemotactic for human neutrophils via pertussis toxin sensitive G protein-coupled receptors in vitro and directly activated this cell type, which led to cytosolic calcium mobilization and release of CXCL8. Furthermore, using a selective CXCR2 antagonist confirmed that N-ac-PGP-induced neutrophil chemotaxis is mediated through CXCR2 activation. To determine whether N-ac-PGP was solely responsible for the migration and activation of human neutrophils in vitro and not the released CXCL8 upon stimulation with N-ac-PGP, an antibody directed against CXCL8 was used. Performing chemotaxis and calcium influx assays in the presence of this antibody did not alter the effects of N-ac-PGP whereas effects of CXCL8 were attenuated. These experiments indicate that N-ac-PGP, in addition to the direct induction of chemotaxis, also directly activates neutrophils to release CXCL8. In vivo, this may lead in the long term to a self-maintaining situation enhanced by both N-ac-PGP and CXCL8, leading to a further increase in neutrophil infiltration and chronic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3761398  PMID: 21458443
N-ac-PGP; Chemotaxis; Neutrophil; Chronic airway inflammation; CXCL8
2.  Antigen Binding Characteristics of Immunoglobulin Free Light Chains: Crosslinking by Antigen is Essential to Induce Allergic Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40986.
Beside the production of complete immunoglobulins IgG, IgE, IgA, IgM and IgD, consisting of tetrameric heterodimers of immunoglobulin heavy and light chains, B cells also secrete immunoglobulin free light chains (Ig-fLC). Previous studies showed that Ig-fLCs are able to induce immediate hypersensitivity reactions. It is apparent that recognition and binding of antigen are crucial steps in the onset of these inflammatory responses. In this study, the binding characteristics of Ig-fLC to antigen were further investigated using various biochemical approaches. In addition, we investigated whether antigen-mediated crosslinking of Ig-fLC is required to initiate allergic skin inflammation in vivo. Our study shows that binding of Ig-fLCs to antigen can be measured with different experimental setups. Surface plasmon resonance analysis showed real-time antigen binding characteristics. Specific antigen binding by Ig-fLCs was further detected using immunoblotting and ELISA. Using the ELISA-based assay, a binding affinity of 76.9±3.8 nM was determined for TNP-specific Ig-fLC. Antigen-induced ear swelling in mice passively sensitized with trinitrophenol-specific Ig-fLC was inhibited when multivalent antigen was combined with excess of monovalent antigen during challenge. We conclude that Ig-fLCs are able to interact with antigen, a prerequisite for antigen-specific cellular activation. In analogy to antigen-specific Fc receptor-induced mast cell activation, crosslinking of Ig-fLCs is necessary to initiate a local allergic response.
PMCID: PMC3401207  PMID: 22911727
3.  Inflammatory changes in the airways of mice caused by cigarette smoke exposure are only partially reversed after smoking cessation 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):99.
Tobacco smoking irritates and damages the respiratory tract and contributes to a higher risk of developing lung emphysema. At present, smoking cessation is the only effective treatment for reducing the progression of lung emphysema, however, there is hardly anything known about the effects of smoking cessation on cytokine and chemokine levels in the airways. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported in vivo study in which cytokine profiles were determined after cessation of cigarette smoke exposure.
The severity of airway remodeling and inflammation was studied by analyzing alveolar enlargement, heart hypertrophy, inflammatory cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lung tissue and by determining the cytokine and chemokine profiles in the BALF of A/J mice exposed to cigarette smoke for 20 weeks and 8 weeks after smoking cessation.
The alveolar enlargement and right ventricle heart hypertrophy found in smoke-exposed mice remained unchanged after smoking cessation. Although the neutrophilic inflammation in the BALF of cigarette smoke-exposed animals was reduced after smoking cessation, a sustained inflammation in the lung tissue was observed. The elevated cytokine (IL-1α and TNF-α) and chemokine (CCL2 and CCL3) levels in the BALF of smoke-exposed mice returned to basal levels after smoking cessation, while the increased IL-12 levels did not return to its basal level. The cigarette smoke-enhanced VEGF levels did not significantly change after smoking cessation. Moreover, IL-10 levels were reduced in the BALF of smoke-exposed mice and these levels were still significantly decreased after smoking cessation compared to the control animals.
The inflammatory changes in the airways caused by cigarette smoke exposure were only partially reversed after smoking cessation. Although smoking cessation should be the first step in reducing the progression of lung emphysema, additional medication could be provided to tackle the sustained airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2918562  PMID: 20649997
4.  Cigarette smoke attenuates the production of cytokines by human plasmacytoid dendritic cells and enhances the release of IL-8 in response to TLR-9 stimulation 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):47.
Myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (mDCs, pDC) are crucial to the immune system, detecting microorganisms and linking the innate and adaptive immunity. pDC are present in small quantities in tissues that are in contact with the external environment; mainly the skin, the inner lining of the nose, lungs, stomach and intestines. They produce large amounts of IFN-α after stimulation and are pivotal for the induction of antiviral responses. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients are known to be more susceptible to viral infections. We have demonstrated that exposure of mDC to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) leads to the release of chemokines, however, not much is known about the role of pDC in COPD. In this study, we addressed several key questions with respect to the mechanism of action of CSE on human pDC in an in vitro model. Human pDCs were isolated from normal healthy volunteers and subjected to fresh CSE and the levels of IL-8, TNF-α, IP-10, IL-6, IL-1, IL-12 and IL-10 and IFN-α were studied by both ELISA and real time PCR methods. We observed that CSE augmented the production of IL-8 and suppressed the release of TNF-α, IL-6 and IFN-α. Moreover, CSE suppressed PI3K/Akt signalling in pDC. In conclusion, our data indicate that CSE has both the potential to diminish anti-viral immunity by downregulating the release of IFN-α and other pro-inflammatory cytokines while, at the same time, augmenting the pathogenesis of COPD via an IL-8 induced recruitment of neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC2701931  PMID: 19515231
5.  Cigarette smoke regulates the expression of TLR4 and IL-8 production by human macrophages 
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are present on monocytes and alveolar macrophages that form the first line of defense against inhaled particles. The importance of those cells in the pathophysiology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has well been documented. Cigarette smoke contains high concentration of oxidants which can stimulate immune cells to produce reactive oxygen species, cytokines and chemokines.
In this study, we evaluated the effects of cigarette smoke medium (CSM) on TLR4 expression and interleukin (IL)-8 production by human macrophages investigating the involvement of ROS.
Results and Discussion
TLR4 surface expression was downregulated on short term exposure (1 h) of CSM. The downregulation could be explained by internalization of the TLR4 and the upregulation by an increase in TLR4 mRNA. IL-8 mRNA and protein were also increased by CSM. CSM stimulation increased intracellular ROS-production and decreased glutathione (GSH) levels. The modulation of TLR4 mRNA and surface receptors expression, IRAK activation, IκB-α degradation, IL-8 mRNA and protein, GSH depletion and ROS production were all prevented by antioxidants such as N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC).
TLR4 may be involved in the pathogenesis of lung emphysema and oxidative stress and seems to be a crucial contributor in lung inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2683828  PMID: 19409098
6.  Effect of Cigarette Smoke Extract on Dendritic Cells and Their Impact on T-Cell Proliferation 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4946.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic airway inflammation. Cigarette smoke has been considered a major player in the pathogenesis of COPD. The inflamed airways of COPD patients contain several inflammatory cells including neutrophils, macrophages,T lymphocytes, and dendritic cells (DCs). The relative contributions of these various inflammatory cells to airway injury and remodeling are not well documented. In particular, the potential role of DCs as mediators of inflammation in the smoker's airways and COPD patients is poorly understood. In the current study we analyzed the effects of cigarette smoke extract on mouse bone marrow derived DC and the production of chemokines and cytokines were studied. In addition, we assessed CSE-induced changes in cDC function in the mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) examining CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation. Cigarette smoke extract induces the release of the chemokines CCL3 and CXCL2 (but not cytokines), via the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In a mixed-leukocyte reaction assay, cigarette smoke-primed DCs potentiate CD8+T cell proliferation via CCL3. In contrast, proliferation of CD4+T cells is suppressed via an unknown mechanism. The cigarette smoke-induced release of CCL3 and CXCL2 by DCs may contribute to the influx of CD8+T cells and neutrophils into the airways, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2655711  PMID: 19293939
7.  Salmeterol with fluticasone enhances the suppression of IL-8 release and increases the translocation of glucocorticoid receptor by human neutrophils stimulated with cigarette smoke 
The combination of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting β2-adrenoceptor agonists is increasingly used in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recently, we have demonstrated that combination of salmeterol and fluticasone propionate (FP) additionally suppress the production of IL-8 by human monocyte. In this study, the molecular mechanism behind the effectiveness of this combination therapy is investigated in human neutrophils. Human neutrophils were preincubated with salmeterol or FP or the combination. The amount of interleukin-8 (IL-8), elastase and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and -9 releases, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and expression of MAP kinase phosphatase (MKP-1) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) were determined. Cigarette smoke medium (CSM) induces an increased expression of CXC receptors and the production of ROS that may explain the strong production of IL-8 by neutrophils. The expression of CXC receptors, the production of ROS, and the release of elastase and MMP-2 and -9 were not influenced by salmeterol, FP, or the combination. Interestingly, the combination therapy had an additive suppressive effect on the CSM-induced production of IL-8. The latter could be explained by an increased mRNA expression of MKP-1, the GR and an increased translocation of the GR to the nucleus. This leads eventually to suppression of both the NF-κB and MAPK pathways and, hence, to less IL-8 production by the neutrophil. These data are in support for the use of a combination therapy in COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC2517086  PMID: 18600309
Glucocorticoids; Neutrophil; Chemokine
8.  Chlamydophila pneumoniae induces a sustained airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in mice 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):83.
It has been reported that Chlamydophila (C.) pneumoniae is involved in the initiation and promotion of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). Surprisingly, the effect of C. pneumoniae on airway function has never been investigated.
In this study, mice were inoculated intranasally with C. pneumoniae (strain AR39) on day 0 and experiments were performed on day 2, 7, 14 and 21.
We found that from day 7, C. pneumoniae infection causes both a sustained airway hyperresponsiveness and an inflammation. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and macrophage inflammatory chemokine-2 (MIP-2) levels in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)-fluid were increased on all experimental days with exception of day 7 where MIP-2 concentrations dropped to control levels. In contrast, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels were only increased on day 7. From day 7 to 21 epithelial damage and secretory cell hypertrophy was observed. It is suggested that, the inflammatory cells/mediators, the epithelial damage and secretory cell hypertrophy contribute to initiation of airway hyperresponsiveness.
Our study demonstrates for the first time that C. pneumoniae infection can modify bronchial responsiveness. This has clinical implications, since additional changes in airway responsiveness and inflammation-status induced by this bacterium may worsen and/or provoke breathlessness in asthma and COPD.
PMCID: PMC2194694  PMID: 18021431
9.  Trimellitic anhydride-conjugated serum albumin activates rat alveolar macrophages in vitro 
Occupational exposure to airborne low molecular weight chemicals, like trimellitic anhydride (TMA), can result in occupational asthma. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are among the first cells to encounter these inhaled compounds and were previously shown to influence TMA-induced asthma-like symptoms in the Brown Norway rat. TMA is a hapten that will bind to endogenous proteins upon entrance of the body. Therefore, in the present study we determined if TMA and TMA conjugated to serum albumin induced the production of the macrophage mediators nitric oxide (NO), tumour necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukin 6 (IL-6) in vitro using the rat AM cell line NR8383 and primary AMs derived from TMA-sensitized and naïve Brown Norway rats.
Cells were incubated with different concentrations of TMA, TMA conjugated to bovine serum albumin (BSA), and BSA as a control for 24 h and the culture supernatant was analyzed for mediator content.
TMA alone was not able to induce the production of mediators by NR8383 cells and primary AMs from sensitized and sham-treated rats. TMA-BSA, on the contrary, dose-dependently stimulated the production of NO, TNF, and IL-6 by NR8383 cells and of NO and TNF, but not IL-6, by primary AMs independent of sensitization.
Results suggest that although TMA is a highly reactive compound, conjugation to a suitable protein is necessary to induce mediator production by AMs. Furthermore, the observation that effects of TMA-BSA were independent of sensitization suggests involvement of an immunologically non-specific receptor. In the discussion it is argued that a macrophage scavenger receptor is a likely candidate.
PMCID: PMC1562430  PMID: 16796737
10.  Toll-like receptor-4 mediates cigarette smoke-induced cytokine production by human macrophages 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):66.
The major risk factor for the development of COPD is cigarette smoking. Smoking causes activation of resident cells and the recruitment of inflammatory cells into the lungs, which leads to release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemotactic factors, oxygen radicals and proteases. In the present study evidence is found for a new cellular mechanism that refers to a link between smoking and inflammation in lungs.
Employing human monocyte-derived macrophages, different techniques including FACS analysis, Cytometric Bead Array Assay and ELISA were achieved to evaluate the effects of CS on pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion including IL-8. Then, Toll-like receptor neutralization was performed to study the involvement of Toll-like receptor-4 in IL-8 production. Finally, signaling pathways in macrophages after exposure to CS medium were investigated performing ELISA and Western analysis.
We demonstrate that especially human monocytes are sensitive to produce IL-8 upon cigarette smoke stimulation compared to lymphocytes or neutrophils. Moreover, monocyte-derived macrophages produce high amounts of the cytokine. The IL-8 production is dependent on Toll-like receptor 4 stimulation and LPS is not involved. Further research resolved the cellular mechanism by which cigarette smoke induces cytokine production in monocyte-derived macrophages. Cigarette smoke causes subsequently a concentration-dependent phosphorylation of IRAK and degradation of TRAF6. Moreover, IκBα was phosphorylated which suggests involvement of NF-κB. In addition, NFκB -inhibitor blocked cigarette smoke-induced IL-8 production.
These findings link cigarette smoke to inflammation and lead to new insights/therapeutic strategies in the pathogenesis of lung emphysema.
PMCID: PMC1481582  PMID: 16620395
11.  Overexpression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase suppresses features of allergic asthma in mice 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):58.
Asthma is associated with airway hyperresponsiveness and enhanced T-cell number/activity on one hand and increased levels of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) with expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) on the other hand. These findings are in paradox, as NO also relaxes airway smooth muscle and has immunosuppressive properties. The exact role of the endothelial NOS (eNOS) isoform in asthma is still unknown. We hypothezised that a delicate regulation in the production of NO and its bioactive forms by eNOS might be the key to the pathogenesis of asthma.
The contribution of eNOS on the development of asthmatic features was examined. We used transgenic mice that overexpress eNOS and measured characteristic features of allergic asthma after sensitisation and challenge of these mice with the allergen ovalbumin.
eNOS overexpression resulted in both increased eNOS activity and NO production in the lungs. Isolated thoracic lymph nodes cells from eNOS overexpressing mice that have been sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin produced significantly less of the cytokines IFN-γ, IL-5 and IL-10. No difference in serum IgE levels could be found. Further, there was a 50% reduction in the number of lymphocytes and eosinophils in the lung lavage fluid of these animals. Finally, airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine was abolished in eNOS overexpressing mice.
These findings demonstrate that eNOS overexpression attenuates both airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in a model of allergic asthma. We suggest that a delicate balance in the production of bioactive forms of NO derived from eNOS might be essential in the pathophysiology of asthma.
PMCID: PMC1456969  PMID: 16597326
12.  The role of sensory nerve endings in nerve growth factor-induced airway hyperresponsiveness to histamine in guinea-pigs 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2001;134(4):771-776.
Nerve growth factor induces an airway hyperresponsiveness in vivo in guinea-pigs, as we have shown previously. Since antagonizing the neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptor can prevent this NGF-induced airway hyperresponsiveness and since sensory nerves release tachykinins, we investigated the role of sensory nerves in the NGF-induced airway hyperresponsiveness.We used isolated tracheal rings from guinea-pigs to measure tracheal contractility. In these rings sensory nerve endings are present, but these endings lack any contact with their cell bodies.In this in vitro system, NGF dose-dependently induced a tracheal hyperresponsiveness to histamine. The NK1 receptor antagonist SR140333 could block the induction of tracheal hyperresponsiveness.To further investigate the involvement of sensory nerve endings we used the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) agonist R-methanandamide to inhibit excitatory events at the nerve terminal. The CB1 receptor agonist was capable of blocking the tracheal hyperresponsiveness to NGF in the isolated system, as well as the airway hyperresponsiveness to NGF in vivo.This indicates that NGF can induce an increase in airway responsiveness in the absence of sensory nerve cell bodies. NGF may act by increasing substance P release from sensory nerve endings, without upregulation of substance P in the neurons. Substance P in its turn is responsible for the induction of the NGF-induced airway hyperresponsiveness.
PMCID: PMC1573003  PMID: 11606317
Nerve growth factor; airway hyperresponsiveness; guinea-pig; sensory nerve ending; substance P; SR140333; methanandamide
13.  Apocynin and 1400 W prevents airway hyperresponsiveness during allergic reactions in mice 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2001;134(2):434-440.
The contribution of reactive nitrogen species to the development of airway hyperresponsiveness in a mouse model of allergic inflammation was investigated by the use of selective inhibitors of nitric oxide and superoxide formation.Sensitized mice, repeatedly challenged with ovalbumin showed a significant (P<0.001, n=9) increase in airway responsiveness measured using whole body plethysmography. This hyperresponsiveness was accompanied by an influx of eosinophils into the airway lumen and increased levels of ovalbumin-specific serum IgE.Treatment of mice with the iNOS inhibitor 1400 W or the NADPH-oxidase inhibitor apocynin did not significantly alter cellular influx into the airway lumen nor serum ovalbumin specific IgE. In contrast, apocynin as well as 1400 W inhibited ovalbumin-induced airway hyperresponsiveness (P<0.001 and P<0.05 respectively, n=9). Furthermore, the airways of allergen challenged animals showed clear 3-nitrotyrosine staining, which was mainly located in eosinophils. Remarkably, treatment with apocynin or 1400 W did not alter 3-nitrotyrosine staining.These data suggest that the development of airway hyperresponsiveness during the airway inflammation upon ovalbumin challenge is dependent on the release of both superoxide and nitric oxide and is therefore likely to be dependent on reactive nitrogen species. This mechanism, however, is not reflected by 3-nitrotyrosine formation in the airways.
PMCID: PMC1572946  PMID: 11564663
Nitric oxide; superoxide; hyperresponsiveness; asthma
14.  Evidence for in vitro expression of B1 receptor in the mouse trachea and urinary bladder 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1999;126(6):1293-1300.
Motor responses to des-Arg9-bradykinin and bradykinin were studied in the isolated mouse trachea (precontracted with carbachol, 10 μM) and the urinary bladder of either Swiss, C57Bl/6J or bradykinin B2 receptor knockout (Bk2r−/−) mice after 1–6 h in vitro. The expression of mRNA for the mouse B1 receptor in tracheal and urinary bladder tissues was also studied by using Northern blot analysis.In isolated tracheae, des-Arg9-bradykinin produced a relaxant response that increased over time: no response was observed after 1 h of incubation, whereas after 6 h the maximum response (1 μM) was 68–84% of the relaxation produced by isoproterenol (1 μM) in the three mouse strains. The relaxant response to bradykinin (1 μM) observed at 1 h (38–51% of isoproterenol) was increased (62–65% of isoproterenol) after 6 h in Swiss and C57Bl/6J mice, but was absent in Bk2r−/− mice. In the presence of cycloheximide, des-Arg9-bradykinin did not cause any response at 6 h.Similar findings were obtained in the urinary bladder: at 1 h des-Arg9-bradykinin (1 μM) did not cause any motor effect, whereas at 6 h it caused a contraction that was 28–59% of that produced by carbachol (1 μM) in the three mouse strains. Cycloheximide blocked the response to des-Arg9-bradykinin. Bradykinin (1 μM) contracted urinary bladders at 1 h (34–35% of carbachol), as well as at 6 h (66–77% of carbachol) in Swiss and C57Bl/6J strains, but was without effect in Bk2r−/− mice.Northern blot hybridization with a specific cDNA probe against mouse B1 receptor mRNA using total RNA extracted from tracheae and urinary bladders freshly removed from Swiss and Bk2r−/− mice revealed minimal expression. However, marked hybridization was detected 150 min after in vitro exposure in both tissues.Evidence is provided that in vitro exposure of mouse trachea and urinary bladder causes a time-dependent induction of B1 receptors that cause relaxation and contraction, respectively.
PMCID: PMC1565899  PMID: 10217521
B1 receptor; des-Arg9-bradykinin; B2 receptor knockout mice; receptor induction
15.  Characterization of the endothelin receptor subtype mediating epithelium-derived relaxant nitric oxide release from guinea-pig trachea 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1998;125(5):963-968.
The endothelin (ET) receptor subtype that mediates niric oxide (NO)-dependent airway relaxation in tracheal tube preparations precontracted with carbachol and pretreated with indomethacin was investigated. The release of NO induced by ET from guinea-pig trachea using a recently developed porphyrinic microsensor was also measured.ET-1 (1 pM–100 nM) contracted tracheal tube preparations pretreated with the NO-synthase inhibitor, L-NMMA, and relaxed, in an epithelium-dependent manner, preparations pretreated with the inactive enantiomer D-NMMA. The effect of L-NMMA was reversed by L-Arg, but not by D-Arg.The selective ETB receptor agonists, IRL 1620 or sarafotoxin S6c, both (1 pM–100 nM) contracted tracheal tube preparations in a similar manner either after treatment with D-NMMA or with L-NMMA. In the presence of the ETA receptor antagonist, FR139317 (10 μM), ET-1 administration resulted in a contraction that was similar after either L-NMMA or D-NMMA. In the presence of the ETB receptor antagonist, BQ788 (1 μM), ET-1 relaxed and contracted tracheas pretreated with D-NMMA and L-NMMA, respectively.Exposure of tracheal segments to ET-1 (1–1000 nM) caused a concentration-dependent increase in NO release that was reduced by L-NMMA. IRL1620 (1 μM) did not cause any significant NO release. FR139317 (10 μM), but not, BQ788 (1 μM), inhibited the NO release induced by ET-1.These results demonstrate that in the isolated guinea-pig trachea activation of ETB receptors results in a contractile response, whereas activation of ETA receptors cause both a contraction, and an epithelium-dependent relaxation that is mediated by NO release.
PMCID: PMC1565678  PMID: 9846633
Endothelin; ETA and ETB receptors; nitric oxide; trachea; airway epithelium

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