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1.  Suppression of PTRF Alleviates the Polymicrobial Sepsis Induced by Cecal Ligation and Puncture in Mice 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(11):1803-1812.
Background. Sepsis and sepsis-associated organ failure are devastating conditions. Understanding the detailed cellular/molecular mechanisms involved in sepsis should lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets.
Methods. Cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) was used as a polymicrobial sepsis model in vivo to determine mortality and end-organ damage. Macrophages were adopted as the cellular model in vitro for mechanistic studies.
Results. PTRF+/− mice survived longer and suffered less organ damage after CLP. Reductions in nitric oxide (NO) and iNOS biosynthesis were observed in plasma, macrophages, and vital organs in the PTRF+/− mice. Using an acute sepsis model after CLP, we found that iNOS−/− mice had a comparable level of survival as the PTRF+/− mice. Similarly, polymerase I transcript release factor (PTRF) deficiency resulted in decreased iNOS and NO/ROS production in macrophages in vitro. Mechanistically, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) enhanced the co-localization and interaction between PTRF and TLR4 in lipid rafts. Deletion of PTRF blocked formation of the TLR4/Myd88 complex after LPS. Consistent with this, lack of PTRF impaired the TLR4 signaling, as shown by the decreased p-JNK, p-ERK, and p-p38, which are upstream factors involved in iNOS transcription.
Conclusion. PTRF is a crucial regulator of TLR4 signaling in the development of sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3814834  PMID: 23908488
PTRF; sepsis; macrophage; CLP; nitric oxide; ROS; TLR4
2.  Extracellular Vesicles Derived from Gut Microbiota, Especially Akkermansia muciniphila, Protect the Progression of Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76520.
Gut microbiota play an important part in the pathogenesis of mucosal inflammation, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, owing to the complexity of the gut microbiota, our understanding of the roles of commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the maintenance of immune homeostasis in the gut is evolving only slowly. Here, we evaluated the role of gut microbiota and their secreting extracellular vesicles (EV) in the development of mucosal inflammation in the gut. Experimental IBD model was established by oral application of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) to C57BL/6 mice. The composition of gut microbiota and bacteria-derived EV in stools was evaluated by metagenome sequencing using bacterial common primer of 16S rDNA. Metagenomics in the IBD mouse model showed that the change in stool EV composition was more drastic, compared to the change of bacterial composition. Oral DSS application decreased the composition of EV from Akkermansia muciniphila and Bacteroides acidifaciens in stools, whereas increased EV from TM7 phylum, especially from species DQ777900_s and AJ400239_s. In vitro pretreatment of A. muciniphila-derived EV ameliorated the production of a pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 from colon epithelial cells induced by Escherichia coli EV. Additionally, oral application of A. muciniphila EV also protected DSS-induced IBD phenotypes, such as body weight loss, colon length, and inflammatory cell infiltration of colon wall. Our data provides insight into the role of gut microbiota-derived EV in regulation of intestinal immunity and homeostasis, and A. muciniphila-derived EV have protective effects in the development of DSS-induced colitis.
PMCID: PMC3811976  PMID: 24204633
3.  Flotillin-2 Modulates Fas Signaling Mediated Apoptosis after Hyperoxia in Lung Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77519.
Lipid rafts are subdomains of the cell membrane with distinct protein composition and high concentrations of cholesterol and glycosphingolipids. Raft proteins are thought to mediate diverse cellular processes including signal transduction. However, its cellular mechanisms remain unclear. Caveolin-1 (cav-1, marker protein of caveolae) has been thought as a switchboard between extracellular matrix (ECM) stimuli and intracellular signals. Flotillin-2/reggie-1(Flot-2) is another ubiquitously expressed raft protein which defines non-caveolar raft microdomains (planar raft). Its cellular function is largely uncharacterized. Our novel studies demonstrated that Flot-2, in conjunction with cav-1, played important functions on controlling cell death via regulating Fas pathways. Using Beas2B epithelial cells, we found that in contrast to cav-1, Flot-2 conferred cytoprotection via preventing Fas mediated death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) formation, subsequently suppressed caspase-8 mediated extrinsic apoptosis. Moreover, Flot-2 reduced the mitochondria mediated intrinsic apoptosis by regulating the Bcl-2 family and suppressing cytochrome C release from mitochondria to cytosol. Flot-2 further modulated the common apoptosis pathway and inhibited caspase-3 activation via up-regulating the members in the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) family. Last, Flot-2 interacted with cav-1 and limited its expression. Taken together, we found that Flot-2 protected cells from Fas induced apoptosis and counterbalanced the pro-apoptotic effects of cav-1. Thus, Flot-2 played crucial functions in cellular homeostasis and cell survival, suggesting a differential role of individual raft proteins.
PMCID: PMC3799625  PMID: 24204853
4.  CCN1 Secretion Induced by Cigarette Smoking Extracts Augments IL-8 Release from Bronchial Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68199.
Inflammation involves in many cigarette smoke (CS) related diseases including the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lung epithelial cell released IL-8 plays a crucial role in CS induced lung inflammation. CS and cigarette smoke extracts (CSE) both induce IL-8 secretion and subsequently, IL-8 recruits inflammatory cells into the lung parenchyma. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which CSE triggers IL-8 release remain not completely understood. In this study, we identified a novel extracellular matrix (ECM) molecule, CCN1, which mediated CSE induced IL-8 secretion by lung epithelial cells. We first found that CS and CSE up-regulated CCN1 expression and secretion in lung epithelial cells in vivo and in vitro. CSE up-regulated CCN1 via induction of reactive oxygen spices (ROS) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. p38 MAPK and JNK activation were also found to mediate the signal pathways in CSE induced CCN1. CCN1 was secreted into ECM via Golgi and membrane channel receptor aquaporin4. After CSE exposure, elevated ECM CCN1 functioned via an autocrine or paracrine manner. Importantly, CCN1 activated Wnt pathway receptor LRP6, subsequently stimulated Wnt pathway component Dvl2 and triggered beta-catenin translocation from cell membrane to cytosol and nucleus. Treatment of Wnt pathway inhibitor suppressed CCN1 induced IL-8 secretion from lung epithelial cells. Taken together, CSE increased CCN1 expression and secretion in lung epithelial cells via induction of ROS and ER stress. Increased ECM CCN1 resulted in augmented IL-8 release through the activation of Wnt pathway.
PMCID: PMC3706594  PMID: 23874538
5.  Acetyl salicylic acid inhibits Th17 airway inflammation via blockade of IL-6 and IL-17 positive feedback 
T-helper (Th)17 cell responses are important for the development of neutrophilic inflammatory disease. Recently, we found that acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) inhibited Th17 airway inflammation in an asthma mouse model induced by sensitization with lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-containing allergens. To investigate the mechanism(s) of the inhibitory effect of ASA on the development of Th17 airway inflammation, a neutrophilic asthma mouse model was generated by intranasal sensitization with LPS plus ovalbumin (OVA) and then challenged with OVA alone. Immunologic parameters and airway inflammation were evaluated 6 and 48 h after the last OVA challenge. ASA inhibited the production of interleukin (IL)-17 from lung T cells as well as in vitro Th17 polarization induced by IL-6. Additionally, ASA, but not salicylic acid, suppressed Th17 airway inflammation, which was associated with decreased expression of acetyl-STAT3 (downstream signaling of IL-6) in the lung. Moreover, the production of IL-6 from inflammatory cells, induced by IL-17, was abolished by treatment with ASA, whereas that induced by LPS was not. Altogether, ASA, likely via its acetyl moiety, inhibits Th17 airway inflammation by blockade of IL-6 and IL-17 positive feedback.
PMCID: PMC3584657  PMID: 23306703
Acetyl salicylic acid; IL-6; IL-17A; STAT3; Th17
6.  Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Is a Key Mediator in the Development of T Cell Priming and Its Polarization to Type 1 and Type 17 T Helper Cells in the Airways 
Chronic inflammatory airway diseases including asthma are characterized by immune dysfunction to inhaled allergens. Our previous studies demonstrated that T cell priming to inhaled allergens requires LPS, which is ubiquitously present in household dust allergens. In this study, we evaluated the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the development of T cell priming and its polarization to Th1 or Th17 cells when exposed to LPS-contaminated allergens. An asthma mouse model was induced by airway sensitization with LPS-contaminated allergens and then challenged with allergens alone. Therapeutic intervention was performed during allergen sensitization. The present study showed that lung inflammation induced by sensitization with LPS-contaminated allergens was decreased in mice with homozygous disruption of the IL-17 gene; in addition, allergen-specific Th17 immune response was abolished in IL-6 knockout mice. Meanwhile, in vivo production of VEGF was up-regulated by airway exposure of LPS. In addition, airway sensitization of allergen plus recombinant VEGF induced both type 1 and type 17 Th cell (Th1 and Th17) responses. Th1 and Th17 responses induced by airway sensitization with LPS-contaminated allergens were blocked by treatment with a pan-VEGF receptor (VEGFR; VEGFR-1 plus VEGFR-2) inhibitor during sensitization. These effects were accompanied by inhibition of the production of Th1 and Th17 polarizing cytokines, IL-12p70 and IL-6, respectively. These findings indicate that VEGF produced by LPS plays a key role in activation of naive T cells and subsequent polarization to Th1 and Th17 cells.
PMCID: PMC3385973  PMID: 19786548
7.  Therapeutic Effects of Autologous Tumor-Derived Nanovesicles on Melanoma Growth and Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33330.
Cancer vaccines with optimal tumor-associated antigens show promise for anti-tumor immunotherapy. Recently, nano-sized vesicles, such as exosomes derived from tumors, were suggested as potential antigen candidates, although the total yield of exosomes is not sufficient for clinical applications. In the present study, we developed a new vaccine strategy based on nano-sized vesicles derived from primary autologous tumors. Through homogenization and sonication of tumor tissues, we achieved high yields of vesicle-bound antigens. These nanovesicles were enriched with antigenic membrane targets but lacked nuclear autoantigens. Furthermore, these nanovesicles together with adjuvant activated dendritic cells in vitro, and induced effective anti-tumor immune responses in both primary and metastatic melanoma mouse models. Therefore, autologous tumor-derived nanovesicles may represent a novel source of antigens with high-level immunogenicity for use in acellular vaccines without compromising safety. Our strategy is cost-effective and can be applied to patient-specific cancer therapeutic vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3305328  PMID: 22438914
8.  Protective effects of basic fibroblast growth factor in the development of emphysema induced by interferon-γ 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2011;43(4):169-178.
Recent clinical evidence indicates that the non-eosinophilic subtype of severe asthma is characterized by fixed airway obstruction, which may be related to emphysema. Transgenic studies have demonstrated that high levels of IFN-γ in the airways induce emphysema. Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), which is the downstream mediator of TGF-β, is important in wound healing. We investigated the role of FGF2 in IFN-γ-induced emphysema and the therapeutic effects of recombinant FGF2 in the prevention of emphysema in a severe non-eosinophilic asthma model. To evaluate the role of FGF2 in IFN-γ-induced emphysema, lung targeted IFN-γ transgenic mice were cross-bred with FGF2-deficient mice. A severe non-eosinophilic asthma model was generated by airway application of LPS-containing allergens twice a week for 4 weeks. To evaluate protective effects of FGF2, recombinant FGF2 (10 µg) was injected subcutaneously during allergen challenge in the severe asthma model. We found that non-eosinophilic inflammation and emphysema induced by transgenic overexpression of IFN-γ in the airways were aggravated by the absence of FGF2. Airway challenge with LPS-containing allergens induced more inflammation in mice sensitized with LPS-containing allergens compared to challenge with allergens alone. In addition, LPS-induced lung inflammation and emphysema depended on IFN-γ but not on IL-13. Interestingly, emphysema in the severe asthma model was significantly inhibited by treatment with recombinant FGF2 during allergen challenge, whereas lung inflammation was unaffected. Therefore, our present data suggest that FGF2 may help protect against IFN-γ-induced emphysema, and that recombinant FGF2 may help lessen the severity of emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3085735  PMID: 21297377
asthma; emphysema; fibroblast growth factor 2; interferon-γ; pulmonary eosinophilia
9.  T cell factor 1 initiates the T helper type 2 fate by inducing the transcription factor GATA-3 and repressing interferon-γ 
Nature immunology  2009;10(9):992-999.
The differentiation of activated CD4+ T cells into the T helper type 1 (TH1) or TH2 fate is regulated by cytokines and the transcription factors T-bet and GATA-3. Whereas interleukin 12 (IL-12) produced by antigen-presenting cells initiates the TH1 fate, signals that initiate the TH2 fate are not completely characterized. Here we show that early GATA-3 expression, required for TH2 differentiation, was induced by T cell factor 1 (TCF-1) and its cofactor β-catenin, mainly from the proximal Gata3 promoter upstream of exon 1b. This activity was induced after T cell antigen receptor (TCR) stimulation and was independent of IL-4 receptor signaling through the transcription factor STAT6. Furthermore, TCF-1 blocked TH1 fate by negatively regulating interferon-γ (IFN-γ) expression independently of β-catenin. Thus, TCF-1 initiates TH2 differentiation of activated CD4+ T cells by promoting GATA-3 expression and suppressing IFN-γ expression.
PMCID: PMC2824257  PMID: 19648923
10.  Aspirin attenuates the anti-inflammatory effects of theophylline via inhibition of cAMP production in mice with non-eosinophilic asthma 
Theophylline is commonly used to treat severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characterized by non-eosinophilic inflammation. Acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) is one of the most widely used medications worldwide, but up to 20% of patients with asthma experience aggravated respiratory symptoms after taking ASA. Here we evaluated the adverse effect of ASA on the therapeutic effect of theophylline in mice with non-eosinophilic asthma. A non-eosinophilic asthma mouse model was induced by airway sensitization with lipopolysaccharide-containing allergen and then challenged with allergen alone. Therapeutic intervention was performed during allergen challenge. Theophylline inhibited lung inflammation partly induced by Th1 immune response. ASA attenuated the beneficial effects of theophylline. However, co-administration of the ASA metabolite salicylic acid (SA) showed no attenuating effect on theophylline treatment. The therapeutic effect of theophylline was associated with increase in cAMP levels, which was blocked by co-treatment of theophylline and ASA. ASA co-treatment also attenuated the anti-inflammatory effects of a specific phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor. These results demonstrate that ASA reverses anti-inflammatory effects of theophylline, and that ASA exerts its adverse effects through the inhibition of cAMP production. Our data suggest that ASA reverses lung inflammation in patients taking theophylline, although clinical evidence will be needed.
PMCID: PMC2811820  PMID: 19887894
adverse effect; aspirin; asthma, aspirin-induced; cyclic AMP; cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases, type 4; drug toxicity; pneumonia; theophylline

Results 1-10 (10)