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author:("kmeth, Simone")
1.  Personalized treatment strategies in glioblastoma: MGMT promoter methylation status 
OncoTargets and therapy  2013;6:1363-1372.
The identification of molecular genetic biomarkers considerably increased our current understanding of glioma genesis, prognostic evaluation, and treatment planning. In glioblastoma, the most malignant intrinsic brain tumor entity in adults, the promoter methylation status of the gene encoding for the repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) indicates increased efficacy of current standard of care, which is concomitant and adjuvant chemoradiotherapy with the alkylating agent temozolomide. In the elderly, MGMT promoter methylation status has recently been introduced to be a predictive biomarker that can be used for stratification of treatment regimes. This review gives a short summery of epidemiological, clinical, diagnostic, and treatment aspects of patients who are currently diagnosed with glioblastoma. The most important molecular genetic markers and epigenetic alterations in glioblastoma are summarized. Special focus is given to the physiological function of DNA methylation–in particular, of the MGMT gene promoter, its clinical relevance, technical aspects of status assessment, its correlation with MGMT mRNA and protein expressions, and its place within the management cascade of glioblastoma patients.
PMCID: PMC3792931  PMID: 24109190
glioblastoma; MGMT; temozolomide; personalized treatment; outcome
2.  Selection of reliable reference genes for quantitative real-time PCR in human T cells and neutrophils 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:427.
The choice of reliable reference genes is a prerequisite for valid results when analyzing gene expression with real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR). This method is frequently applied to study gene expression patterns in immune cells, yet a thorough validation of potential reference genes is still lacking for most leukocyte subtypes and most models of their in vitro stimulation. In the current study, we evaluated the expression stability of common reference genes in two widely used cell culture models-anti-CD3/CD28 activated T cells and lipopolysaccharide stimulated neutrophils-as well as in unselected untreated leukocytes.
The mRNA expression of 17 (T cells), 7 (neutrophils) or 8 (unselected leukocytes) potential reference genes was quantified by reverse transcription qPCR, and a ranking of the preselected candidate genes according to their expression stability was calculated using the programs NormFinder, geNorm and BestKeeper. IPO8, RPL13A, TBP and SDHA were identified as suitable reference genes in T cells. TBP, ACTB and SDHA were stably expressed in neutrophils. TBP and SDHA were also the most stable genes in untreated total blood leukocytes. The critical impact of reference gene selection on the estimated target gene expression is demonstrated for IL-2 and FIH expression in T cells.
The study provides a shortlist of suitable reference genes for normalization of gene expression data in unstimulated and stimulated T cells, unstimulated and stimulated neutrophils and in unselected leukocytes.
PMCID: PMC3229292  PMID: 22011438
3.  Identification of valid endogenous control genes for determining gene expression in human glioma 
Neuro-Oncology  2010;12(6):570-579.
In human glioma, quantitative real-time reverse-transcription PCR (qPCR) is a frequently used research tool. However, no systematic analysis of suitable reference genes for reliable gene expression analysis has been performed so far. In the current study, we tested 19 commonly used reference genes for their expression stability in human astrocytoma WHO Grade II, astrocytoma WHO Grade III, and glioblastoma (WHO Grade IV) both alone and compared with normal brain. First, equivalence tests for equal expression of candidate genes were applied, and those genes showing differential expression were ruled out from further analyses. Second, expression stability of the remaining candidate genes was determined by the NormFinder software. Generally, glioblastoma exhibited the highest expression levels and largest variability of candidate genes, whereas the opposite was true for normal brain. Even though Normfinder analyses revealed a large number of genes suitable for normalization in each of the tumor subgroups and across these groups, this number was drastically reduced after inclusion of normal brain into the analyses: Only GAPDH, IPO8, RPL13A, SDHA, and TBP were expected not to be differentially expressed; NormFinder analysis indicated favorable stability values for all of these genes, with TBP and IPO8 being the most stable ones. These 5 genes represent different physiological pathways and may be regarded as universal reference genes applicable for accurate normalization of gene expression in human astrocytomas of different grades (WHO Grades II–IV) alone and compared with normal brain, thereby enabling longitudinally designed studies (eg, in astrocytoma before and after malignant transformation).
PMCID: PMC2940642  PMID: 20511187
astrocytoma; glioblastoma; reference genes; stereotactic biopsy; qPCR
4.  O6-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase (MGMT) mRNA Expression Predicts Outcome in Malignant Glioma Independent of MGMT Promoter Methylation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17156.
We analyzed prospectively whether MGMT (O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase) mRNA expression gains prognostic/predictive impact independent of MGMT promoter methylation in malignant glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant temozolomide or temozolomide alone. As DNA-methyltransferases (DNMTs) are the enzymes responsible for setting up and maintaining DNA methylation patterns in eukaryotic cells, we analyzed further, whether MGMT promoter methylation is associated with upregulation of DNMT expression.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Adult patients with a histologically proven malignant astrocytoma (glioblastoma: N = 53, anaplastic astrocytoma: N = 10) were included. MGMT promoter methylation was determined by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and sequencing analysis. Expression of MGMT and DNMTs mRNA were analysed by real-time qPCR. Prognostic factors were obtained from proportional hazards models. Correlation between MGMT mRNA expression and MGMT methylation status was validated using data from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database (N = 229 glioblastomas). Low MGMT mRNA expression was strongly predictive for prolonged time to progression, treatment response, and length of survival in univariate and multivariate models (p<0.0001); the degree of MGMT mRNA expression was highly correlated with the MGMT promoter methylation status (p<0.0001); however, discordant findings were seen in 12 glioblastoma patients: Patients with methylated tumors with high MGMT mRNA expression (N = 6) did significantly worse than those with low transcriptional activity (p<0.01). Conversely, unmethylated tumors with low MGMT mRNA expression (N = 6) did better than their counterparts. A nearly identical frequency of concordant and discordant findings was obtained by analyzing the TCGA database (p<0.0001). Expression of DNMT1 and DNMT3b was strongly upregulated in tumor tissue, but not correlated with MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT mRNA expression.
MGMT mRNA expression plays a direct role for mediating tumor sensitivity to alkylating agents. Discordant findings indicate methylation-independent pathways of MGMT expression regulation. DNMT1 and DNMT3b are likely to be involved in CGI methylation. However, their exact role yet has to be defined.
PMCID: PMC3041820  PMID: 21365007
5.  Motion Sickness, Stress and the Endocannabinoid System 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10752.
A substantial number of individuals are at risk for the development of motion sickness induced nausea and vomiting (N&V) during road, air or sea travel. Motion sickness can be extremely stressful but the neurobiologic mechanisms leading to motion sickness are not clear. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) represents an important neuromodulator of stress and N&V. Inhibitory effects of the ECS on N&V are mediated by endocannabinoid-receptor activation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We studied the activity of the ECS in human volunteers (n = 21) during parabolic flight maneuvers (PFs). During PFs, microgravity conditions (<10−2 g) are generated for approximately 22 s which results in a profound kinetic stimulus. Blood endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, 2-AG) were measured from blood samples taken in-flight before start of the parabolic maneuvers, after 10, 20, and 30 parabolas, in-flight after termination of PFs and 24 h later. Volunteers who developed acute motion sickness (n = 7) showed significantly higher stress scores but lower endocannabinoid levels during PFs. After 20 parabolas, blood anandamide levels had dropped significantly in volunteers with motion sickness (from 0.39±0.40 to 0.22±0.25 ng/ml) but increased in participants without the condition (from 0.43±0.23 to 0.60±0.38 ng/ml) resulting in significantly higher anandamide levels in participants without motion sickness (p = 0.02). 2-AG levels in individuals with motion sickness were low and almost unchanged throughout the experiment but showed a robust increase in participants without motion sickness. Cannabinoid-receptor 1 (CB1) but not cannabinoid-receptor 2 (CB2) mRNA expression in leucocytes 4 h after the experiment was significantly lower in volunteers with motion sickness than in participants without N&V.
These findings demonstrate that stress and motion sickness in humans are associated with impaired endocannabinoid activity. Enhancing ECS signaling may represent an alternative therapeutic strategy for motion sickness in individuals who do not respond to currently available treatments.
PMCID: PMC2873996  PMID: 20505775
6.  Targeted Deletion of HIF-1α Gene in T Cells Prevents their Inhibition in Hypoxic Inflamed Tissues and Improves Septic Mice Survival 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e853.
Sepsis patients may die either from an overwhelming systemic immune response and/or from an immunoparalysis-associated lack of anti-bacterial immune defence. We hypothesized that bacterial superantigen-activated T cells may be prevented from contribution into anti-bacterial response due to the inhibition of their effector functions by the hypoxia inducible transcription factor (HIF-1α) in inflamed and hypoxic areas.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using the Cre-lox-P-system we generated mice with a T–cell targeted deletion of the HIF-1α gene and analysed them in an in vivo model of bacterial sepsis. We show that deletion of the HIF-1α gene leads to higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, stronger anti-bacterial effects and much better survival of mice. These effects can be at least partially explained by significantly increased NF-κB activation in TCR activated HIF-1 α deficient T cells.
T cells can be recruited to powerfully contribute to anti-bacterial response if they are relieved from inhibition by HIF-1α in inflamed and hypoxic areas. Our experiments uncovered the before unappreciated reserve of anti-bacterial capacity of T cells and suggest novel therapeutic anti-pathogen strategies based on targeted deletion or inhibition of HIF-1 α in T cells.
PMCID: PMC1959117  PMID: 17786224

Results 1-6 (6)