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1.  Increased Mitochondrial Calcium Sensitivity and Abnormal Expression of Innate Immunity Genes Precede Dopaminergic Defects in Pink1-Deficient Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16038.
PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1) is linked to recessive Parkinsonism (EOPD). Pink1 deletion results in impaired dopamine (DA) release and decreased mitochondrial respiration in the striatum of mice. To reveal additional mechanisms of Pink1-related dopaminergic dysfunction, we studied Ca2+ vulnerability of purified brain mitochondria, DA levels and metabolism and whether signaling pathways implicated in Parkinson's disease (PD) display altered activity in the nigrostriatal system of Pink1−/− mice.
Methods and Findings
Purified brain mitochondria of Pink1−/− mice showed impaired Ca2+ storage capacity, resulting in increased Ca2+ induced mitochondrial permeability transition (mPT) that was rescued by cyclosporine A. A subpopulation of neurons in the substantia nigra of Pink1−/− mice accumulated phospho-c-Jun, showing that Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity is increased. Pink1−/− mice 6 months and older displayed reduced DA levels associated with increased DA turnover. Moreover, Pink1−/− mice had increased levels of IL-1β, IL-12 and IL-10 in the striatum after peripheral challenge with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and Pink1−/− embryonic fibroblasts showed decreased basal and inflammatory cytokine-induced nuclear factor kappa-β (NF-κB) activity. Quantitative transcriptional profiling in the striatum revealed that Pink1−/− mice differentially express genes that (i) are upregulated in animals with experimentally induced dopaminergic lesions, (ii) regulate innate immune responses and/or apoptosis and (iii) promote axonal regeneration and sprouting.
Increased mitochondrial Ca2+ sensitivity and JNK activity are early defects in Pink1−/− mice that precede reduced DA levels and abnormal DA homeostasis and may contribute to neuronal dysfunction in familial PD. Differential gene expression in the nigrostriatal system of Pink1−/− mice supports early dopaminergic dysfunction and shows that Pink1 deletion causes aberrant expression of genes that regulate innate immune responses. While some differentially expressed genes may mitigate neurodegeneration, increased LPS-induced brain cytokine expression and impaired cytokine-induced NF-κB activation may predispose neurons of Pink1−/− mice to inflammation and injury-induced cell death.
PMCID: PMC3020954  PMID: 21249202
2.  Therapeutic potential of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(6):R210.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a T-cell-mediated systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by synovium inflammation and articular destruction. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could be effective in the treatment of several autoimmune diseases. However, there has been thus far no report on umbilical cord (UC)-MSCs in the treatment of RA. Here, potential immunosuppressive effects of human UC-MSCs in RA were evaluated.
The effects of UC-MSCs on the responses of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) and T cells in RA patients were explored. The possible molecular mechanism mediating this immunosuppressive effect of UC-MSCs was explored by addition of inhibitors to indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), Nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) and interleukin 10 (IL-10). The therapeutic effects of systemic infusion of human UC-MSCs on collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in a mouse model were explored.
In vitro, UC-MSCs were capable of inhibiting proliferation of FLSs from RA patients, via IL-10, IDO and TGF-β1. Furthermore, the invasive behavior and IL-6 secretion of FLSs were also significantly suppressed. On the other hand, UC-MSCs induced hyporesponsiveness of T cells mediated by PGE2, TGF-β1 and NO and UC-MSCs could promote the expansion of CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells from RA patients. More importantly, systemic infusion of human UC-MSCs reduced the severity of CIA in a mouse model. Consistently, there were reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (TNF-α, IL-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) and increased levels of the anti-inflammatory/regulatory cytokine (IL-10) in sera of UC-MSCs treated mice. Moreover, such treatment shifted Th1/Th2 type responses and induced Tregs in CIA.
In conclusion, human UC-MSCs suppressed the various inflammatory effects of FLSs and T cells of RA in vitro, and attenuated the development of CIA in vivo, strongly suggesting that UC-MSCs might be a therapeutic strategy in RA. In addition, the immunosuppressive activitiy of UC-MSCs could be prolonged by the participation of Tregs.
PMCID: PMC3046518  PMID: 21080925
3.  RABA (Reductive Alkylation By Acetone): A novel stable isotope labeling approach for quantitative proteomics 
Quantitative proteomics is challenging and various stable isotope based approaches have been developed to meet the challenge.. Hereby we describe a simple, efficient, reliable and inexpensive method named RABA (reductive alkylation by acetone) to introduce stable isotopes to peptides for quantitative analysis. The RABA method leads to alkylation of N-terminal and lysine amino groups with isopropyl moiety. Using unlabeled (d0) and deuterium labeled (d6) acetone, a 6 Da mass split is introduced to each isopropyl modification between the light and heavy isotope labeled peptides, which is ideally suited for quantitative analysis. The reaction specificity, stoichoimetry, labeling efficiency and linear range of the RABA method has been thoroughly evaluated in this study using standard peptides, tryptic digest of proteins as well as human cell lysate. Reliable quantitative results have been consistently obtained in all experiments. We also applied the RABA method to quantitative analysis of proteins in spinal cords of transgenic mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Highly homologous proteins (transgenic human SOD1 and endogenous mouse SOD1) were distinguished and quantified using the method developed in this study. In addition, the quantitative results using the RABA approach were independently validated by Western blot.
PMCID: PMC2731973  PMID: 19419886

Results 1-3 (3)