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1.  Cytoprotective role of heme oxygenase-1 and heme degradation derived end products in liver injury 
World Journal of Hepatology  2013;5(10):541-549.
The activation of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) appears to be an endogenous defensive mechanism used by cells to reduce inflammation and tissue damage in a number of injury models. HO-1, a stress-responsive enzyme that catabolizes heme into carbon monoxide (CO), biliverdin and iron, has previously been shown to protect grafts from ischemia/reperfusion and rejection. In addition, the products of the HO-catalyzed reaction, particularly CO and biliverdin/bilirubin, have been shown to exert protective effects in the liver against a number of stimuli, as in chronic hepatitis C and in transplanted liver grafts. Furthermore, the induction of HO-1 expression can protect the liver against damage caused by a number of chemical compounds. More specifically, the CO derived from HO-1-mediated heme catabolism has been shown to be involved in the regulation of inflammation; furthermore, administration of low concentrations of exogenous CO has a protective effect against inflammation. Both murine and human HO-1 deficiencies have systemic manifestations associated with iron metabolism, such as hepatic overload (with signs of a chronic hepatitis) and iron deficiency anemia (with paradoxical increased levels of ferritin). Hypoxia induces HO-1 expression in multiple rodent, bovine and monkey cell lines, but interestingly, hypoxia represses expression of the human HO-1 gene in a variety of human cell types (endothelial cells, epithelial cells, T cells). These data suggest that HO-1 and CO are promising novel therapeutic molecules for patients with inflammatory diseases. In this review, we present what is currently known regarding the role of HO-1 in liver injuries and in particular, we focus on the implications of targeted induction of HO-1 as a potential therapeutic strategy to protect the liver against chemically induced injury.
PMCID: PMC3812456  PMID: 24179613
Heme oxygenases; Bilirubin; Hepatitis C; Kupffer cells; Polymorphisms; Immunoregulatory; Hypoxia; Liver ischemia
2.  Cytoprotection behind heme oxygenase-1 in renal diseases 
World Journal of Nephrology  2012;1(1):4-11.
Renal insults are considered a public health problem and are linked to increased rates of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The heme oxygenase (HO) system consists of evolutionary specialized machinery that degrades free heme and produces carbon monoxide, biliverdin and free iron. In this sense, the inducible isoform HO-1 seems to develop an important role and is widely studied. The reaction involved with the HO-1 molecule provides protection to injured tissue, directly by reducing the toxic heme molecule and indirectly by the release of its byproducts. The up regulation of HO-1 enzyme has largely been described as providing antioxidant, antiapoptotic, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Several works have explored the importance of HO-1 in renal diseases and they have provided consistent evidence that its overexpression has beneficial effects in such injuries. So, in this review we will focus on the role of HO-1 in kidney insults, exploring the protective effects of its up regulation and the enhanced deleterious effects of its inhibition or gene deletion.
PMCID: PMC3782207  PMID: 24175236
Heme oxigenase-1; Renal cytoprotection; Antioxidants; Anti-inflammatory; Renal diseases
3.  Immune regulatory properties of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells: Where do we stand? 
Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) can be isolated and efficiently expanded from almost every single body tissue and have the ability of self-renewal and differentiation into various mesodermal cell lineages. Moreover, these cells are considered immunologically privileged, related to a lack of surface expression of costimulatory molecules required for complete T cell activation. Recently, it has been observed that MSC are capable of suppressing the immune response by inhibiting the maturation of dendritic cells and suppressing the function of T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes and natural killer cells in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as a new strategy for immunosuppression. The understanding of immune regulation mechanisms by MSC is necessary for their use as immunotherapy in clinical applications for several diseases.
PMCID: PMC3097934  PMID: 21607131
Immunosuppression; Mesenchymal stem cell; Immune system; Inflammation; Autoimmune disease
4.  Nitrotyrosine Level Was Associated with Mortality in Patients with Acute Kidney Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79962.
To examine the characteristics of oxidative stress in patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) and investigate the association between plasma nitrotyrosine levels and 90-day mortality in patients with AKI.
Methodology/Principal Findings
158 patients with hospital-acquired AKI were recruited to this prospective cohort study according to RIFLE (Risk, Injury, Failure, Lost or End Stage Kidney) criteria. Twelve critically ill patients without AKI and 15 age and gender-matched healthy subjects served as control. Plasma 3-nitrotyrosine was analyzed in relation to 90-day all cause mortality of patients with AKI. The patients with AKI were followed up for 90 days and grouped according to median plasma 3-nitrotyrosine concentrations. Highest 3-NT/Tyr was detected in patients with AKI compared with healthy subjects, and critically ill patients without AKI (ANOVA p<0.001). The 90-day survival curves of patients with high 3-NT/Tyr showed significant differences compared with the curves of individuals with low 3-NT/Tyr (p = 0.001 by log rank test). Multivariate analysis (Cox regression) revealed that 3-NT/Tyr (p = 0.025) was independently associated with mortality after adjustment for age, gender, sepsis and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score.
There is excess plasma protein oxidation in patients with AKI, as evidenced by increased nitrotyrosine content. 3-NT/Tyr level was associated with mortality of AKI patients independent of the severity of illness.
PMCID: PMC3835782  PMID: 24278225
5.  Trefoil Factor 3 as an Endocrine Neuroprotective Factor from the Liver in Experimental Cerebral Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77732.
Cerebral ischemia, while causing neuronal injury, can activate innate neuroprotective mechanisms, minimizing neuronal death. In this report, we demonstrate that experimental cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury in the mouse causes upregulation of the secretory protein trefoil factor 3 (TFF3) in the hepatocyte in association with an increase in serum TFF3. Partial hepatectomy (~60% liver resection) immediately following cerebral injury significantly lowered the serum level of TFF3, suggesting a contribution of the liver to the elevation of serum TFF3. Compared to wild-type mice, TFF3-/- mice exhibited a significantly higher activity of caspase 3 and level of cell death in the ischemic cerebral lesion, a larger fraction of cerebral infarcts, and a smaller fraction of the injured cerebral hemisphere, accompanied by severer forelimb motor deficits. Intravenous administration of recombinant TFF3 reversed changes in cerebral injury and forelimb motor function due to TFF3 deficiency. These observations suggest an endocrine neuroprotective mechanism involving TFF3 from the liver in experimental cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury.
PMCID: PMC3799633  PMID: 24204940
6.  Adipose Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Increase Skin Allograft Survival and Inhibit Th-17 Immune Response 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76396.
Adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSC) exhibit immunosuppressive capabilities both in vitro and in vivo. Their use for therapy in the transplant field is attractive as they could render the use of immunosuppressive drugs unnecessary. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ADSC therapy on prolonging skin allograft survival. Animals that were treated with a single injection of donor allogeneic ADSC one day after transplantation showed an increase in donor skin graft survival by approximately one week. This improvement was associated with preserved histological morphology, an expansion of CD4+ regulatory T cells (Treg) in draining lymph nodes, as well as heightened IL-10 expression and down-regulated IL-17 expression. In vitro, ADSC inhibit naïve CD4+ T cell proliferation and constrain Th-1 and Th-17 polarization. In summary, infusion of ADSC one day post-transplantation dramatically increases skin allograft survival by inhibiting the Th-17 pathogenic immune response and enhancing the protective Treg immune response. Finally, these data suggest that ADSC therapy will open new opportunities for promoting drug-free allograft survival in clinical transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3790669  PMID: 24124557
7.  Endotoxin Exposure during Sensitization to Blomia tropicalis Allergens Shifts TH2 Immunity Towards a TH17-Mediated Airway Neutrophilic Inflammation: Role of TLR4 and TLR2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67115.
Experimental evidence and epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (eLPS) or other TLR agonists prevent asthma. We have previously shown in the OVA-model of asthma that eLPS administration during alum-based allergen sensitization blocked the development of lung TH2 immune responses via MyD88 pathway and IL-12/IFN-γ axis. In the present work we determined the effect of eLPS exposure during sensitization to a natural airborne allergen extract derived from the house dust mite Blomia tropicalis (Bt). Mice were subcutaneously sensitized with Bt allergens co-adsorbed onto alum with or without eLPS and challenged twice intranasally with Bt. Cellular and molecular parameters of allergic lung inflammation were evaluated 24 h after the last Bt challenge. Exposure to eLPS but not to ultrapure LPS (upLPS) preparation during sensitization to Bt allergens decreased the influx of eosinophils and increased the influx of neutrophils to the airways. Inhibition of airway eosinophilia was not observed in IFN-γdeficient mice while airway neutrophilia was not observed in IL-17RA-deficient mice as well in mice lacking MyD88, CD14, TLR4 and, surprisingly, TLR2 molecules. Notably, exposure to a synthetic TLR2 agonist (PamCSK4) also induced airway neutrophilia that was dependent on TLR2 and TLR4 molecules. In the OVA model, exposure to eLPS or PamCSK4 suppressed OVA-induced airway inflammation. Our results suggest that B. tropicalis allergens engage TLR4 that potentiates TLR2 signaling. This dual TLR activation during sensitization results in airway neutrophilic inflammation associated with increased frequency of lung TH17 cells. Our work highlight the complex interplay between bacterial products, house dust mite allergens and TLR signaling in the induction of different phenotypes of airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3689683  PMID: 23805294
8.  The Spleen CD4+ T Cell Response to Blood-Stage Plasmodium chabaudi Malaria Develops in Two Phases Characterized by Different Properties 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22434.
The pivotal role of spleen CD4+ T cells in the development of both malaria pathogenesis and protective immunity makes necessary a profound comprehension of the mechanisms involved in their activation and regulation during Plasmodium infection. Herein, we examined in detail the behaviour of non-conventional and conventional splenic CD4+ T cells during P. chabaudi malaria. We took advantage of the fact that a great proportion of CD4+ T cells generated in CD1d-/- mice are I-Ab-restricted (conventional cells), while their counterparts in I-Ab-/- mice are restricted by CD1d and other class IB major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules (non-conventional cells). We found that conventional CD4+ T cells are the main protagonists of the immune response to infection, which develops in two consecutive phases concomitant with acute and chronic parasitaemias. The early phase of the conventional CD4+ T cell response is intense and short lasting, rapidly providing large amounts of proinflammatory cytokines and helping follicular and marginal zone B cells to secrete polyclonal immunoglobulin. Both TNF-α and IFN-γ production depend mostly on conventional CD4+ T cells. IFN-γ is produced simultaneously by non-conventional and conventional CD4+ T cells. The early phase of the response finishes after a week of infection, with the elimination of a large proportion of CD4+ T cells, which then gives opportunity to the development of acquired immunity. Unexpectedly, the major contribution of CD1d-restricted CD4+ T cells occurs at the beginning of the second phase of the response, but not earlier, helping both IFN-γ and parasite-specific antibody production. We concluded that conventional CD4+ T cells have a central role from the onset of P. chabaudi malaria, acting in parallel with non-conventional CD4+ T cells as a link between innate and acquired immunity. This study contributes to the understanding of malaria immunology and opens a perspective for future studies designed to decipher the molecular mechanisms behind immune responses to Plasmodium infection.
PMCID: PMC3141041  PMID: 21814579
9.  Modified Citrus Pectin Reduces Galectin-3 Expression and Disease Severity in Experimental Acute Kidney Injury 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18683.
Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside binding lectin with roles in diverse processes including proliferation, apoptosis, inflammation and fibrosis which are dependent on different domains of the molecule and subcellular distribution. Although galectin-3 is known to be upregulated in acute kidney injury, the relative importance of its different domains and functions are poorly understood in the underlying pathogenesis. Therefore we experimentally modulated galectin-3 in folic acid (FA)-induced acute kidney injury utilising modified citrus pectin (MCP), a derivative of pectin which can bind to the galectin-3 carbohydrate recognition domain thereby predominantly antagonising functions linked to this role. Mice were pre-treated with normal or 1% MCP-supplemented drinking water one week before FA injection. During the initial injury phase, all FA-treated mice lost weight whilst their kidneys enlarged secondary to the renal insult; these gross changes were significantly lessened in the MCP group but this was not associated with significant changes in galectin-3 expression. At a histological level, MCP clearly reduced renal cell proliferation but did not affect apoptosis. Later, during the recovery phase at two weeks, MCP-treated mice demonstrated reduced galectin-3 in association with decreased renal fibrosis, macrophages, pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and apoptosis. Other renal galectins, galectin-1 and -9, were unchanged. Our data indicates that MCP is protective in experimental nephropathy with modulation of early proliferation and later galectin-3 expression, apoptosis and fibrosis. This raises the possibility that MCP may be a novel strategy to reduce renal injury in the long term, perhaps via carbohydrate binding-related functions of galectin-3.
PMCID: PMC3072992  PMID: 21494626
10.  SDF-1/CXCR4 Signaling Preserves Microvascular Integrity and Renal Function in Chronic Kidney Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92227.
The progressive decline of renal function in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterized by both disruption of the microvascular architecture and the accumulation of fibrotic matrix. One angiogenic pathway recently identified as playing an essential role in renal vascular development is the stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1)/CXCR4 pathway. Because similar developmental processes may be recapitulated in the disease setting, we hypothesized that the SDF-1/CXCR4 system would regulate microvascular health in CKD. Expression of CXCR4 was observed to be increased in the kidneys of subtotally nephrectomized (SNx) rats and in biopsies from patients with secondary focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rodent model and human correlate both characterized by aberration of the renal microvessels. A reno-protective role for local SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling was indicated by i) CXCR4-dependent glomerular eNOS activation following acute SDF-1 administration; and ii) acceleration of renal function decline, capillary loss and fibrosis in SNx rats treated with chronic CXCR4 blockade. In contrast to the upregulation of CXCR4, SDF-1 transcript levels were decreased in SNx rat kidneys as well as in renal fibroblasts exposed to the pro-fibrotic cytokine transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), the latter effect being attenuated by histone deacetylase inhibition. Increased renal SDF-1 expression was, however, observed following the treatment of SNx rats with the ACE inhibitor, perindopril. Collectively, these observations indicate that local SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling functions to preserve microvascular integrity and prevent renal fibrosis. Augmentation of this pathway, either purposefully or serendipitously with either novel or existing therapies, may attenuate renal decline in CKD.
PMCID: PMC3956917  PMID: 24637920
11.  Endothelial Dysfunction Exacerbates Renal Interstitial Fibrosis through Enhancing Fibroblast Smad3 Linker Phosphorylation in the Mouse Obstructed Kidney 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84063.
Endothelial dysfunction and enhanced transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)/Smad3 signalling are common features of progressive renal fibrosis. This study investigated a potential link between these mechanisms. In unilateral ureteric obstruction (UUO) we observed an acute (6 hr) down-regulation of nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3/eNOS) levels and increased phosphorylation of the linker region of Smad3 at T179 and S208 in Smad3/JNK complexes. These events preceded Smad3 C-terminal domain phosphorylation and the induction of myofibroblast proliferation at 48 hrs. Mice deficient in NOS3 showed enhanced myofibroblast proliferation and collagen accumulation compared to wild type mice in a 7 day UUO model. This was associated with enhanced phosphorylation of Smad3 T179 and S208 by 92% and 88%, respectively, whereas Smad3-C-terminal phosphorylation was not affected. Resolvin D1 (RvD1) can suppress renal fibrosis in the UUO model, and further analysis herein showed that RvD1 protected against endothelial dysfunction and suppressed Smad3/JNK complex formation with a consequent reduction in phosphorylation of Smad3 T179 and S208 by 78% and 65%, respectively, while Smad3 C-terminal phosphorylation was unaltered. In vitro, conditioned media from mouse microvascular endothelial cells (MMEC) treated with a general inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase (L-NAME) augmented the proliferation and collagen production of renal fibroblasts (NRK49F cells) compared to control MMEC media and this was associated with increased phosphorylation of JNK and Smad3 T179 and S208, whereas Smad3-C-terminal domain phosphorylation was unaffected. The addition of RvD1 to L-NAME treated MMEC abrogated these effects of the conditioned media on renal fibroblasts. Finally, Smad3 T179/V and S208/A mutations significantly inhibit TGF-β1 induced up-regulation collagen I promoter. In conclusion, these data suggest that endothelial dysfunction can exacerbate renal interstitial fibrosis through increased fibroblast proliferation and collagen production via enhanced Smad3 linker phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC3877161  PMID: 24391884
12.  Serotonin Is a Key Factor for Mouse Red Blood Cell Survival 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83010.
Serotonin (5-HT) is a monoamine originally purified from blood as a vasoactive agent. In nonneuronal tissues, its presence is linked with the expression of tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) that catalyzes the rate-limiting step of its synthesis. Targeted disruption in mice of the TPH1 gene results in very low levels of circulating 5-HT. Previous analysis of the TPH1 knockout (TPH1−/−) mouse revealed that they develop a phenotype of macrocytic anemia with a reduced half-life of their circulating red blood cells (RBC). In this study, to establish whether the observed reduced half-life of TPH1−/− RBC is an intrinsic or an extrinsic characteristic, we compared their survival to RBC isolated from wild-type mice. Both in vivo and in vitro data converge to demonstrate an extrinsic protective effect of 5-HT since presence of 5-HT in the RBC environment protects RBC from senescence. The protective effect played by 5-HT is not mediated through activation of a classical pharmacological pathway as no 5-HT receptors were detected on isolated RBC. Rather, 5-HT acts as an effective antioxidant since reduction of 5-HT circulating levels are associated with a decrease in the plasma antioxidant capacity. We further demonstrate a link between oxidation and the removal of damaged RBC following transfusion, as supplementation with 5-HT improves RBC post-transfusion survival in a mouse model of blood banking.
PMCID: PMC3866204  PMID: 24358245
13.  Low-Level Laser Therapy Decreases Renal Interstitial Fibrosis 
Photomedicine and Laser Surgery  2012;30(12):705-713.
Objective: the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on chronic kidney disease (CKD) in a model of unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO). Background data: Regardless of the etiology, CKD involves progressive widespread tissue fibrosis, tubular atrophy, and loss of kidney function. This process also occurs in kidney allograft. At present, effective therapies for this condition are lacking. We investigated the effects of LLLT on the interstitial fibrosis that occurs after experimental UUO in rats. Methods: The occluded kidney of half of the 32 Wistar rats that underwent UUO received a single intraoperative dose of LLLT (AlGaAs laser, 780 nm, 22.5 J/cm2, 30 mW, 0.75 W/cm2, 30 sec on each of nine points). After 14 days, renal fibrosis was assessed by Sirius red staining under polarized light. Immunohistochemical analyses quantitated the renal tissue cells that expressed fibroblast (FSP-1) and myofibroblast (α-SMA) markers. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed to determine the mRNA expression of interleukin (IL)-6, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and Smad3. Results: The UUO and LLLT animals had less fibrosis than the UUO animals, as well having decreased expression inflammatory and pro-fibrotic markers. Conclusions: For the first time, we showed that LLLT had a protective effect regarding renal interstitial fibrosis. It is conceivable that by attenuating inflammation, LLLT can prevent tubular activation and transdifferentiation, which are the two processes that mainly drive the renal fibrosis of the UUO model.
PMCID: PMC3505828  PMID: 23134313
14.  Effects of Interval and Continuous Exercise Training on CD4 Lymphocyte Apoptotic and Autophagic Responses to Hypoxic Stress in Sedentary Men 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80248.
Exercise is linked with the type/intensity-dependent adaptive immune responses, whereas hypoxic stress facilitates the programmed death of CD4 lymphocytes. This study investigated how high intensity-interval (HIT) and moderate intensity-continuous (MCT) exercise training influence hypoxia-induced apoptosis and autophagy of CD4 lymphocytes in sedentary men. Thirty healthy sedentary males were randomized to engage either HIT (3-minute intervals at 40% and 80%VO2max, n=10) or MCT (sustained 60%VO2max, n=10) for 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week for 5 weeks, or to a control group that did not received exercise intervention (CTL, n=10). CD4 lymphocyte apoptotic and autophagic responses to hypoxic exercise (HE, 100W under 12%O2 for 30 minutes) were determined before and after various regimens. The results demonstrated that HIT exhibited higher enhancements of pulmonary ventilation, cardiac output, and VO2 at ventilatory threshold and peak performance than MCT did. Before the intervention, HE significantly down-regulated autophagy by decreased beclin-1, Atg-1, LC3-II, Atg-12, and LAMP-2 expressions and acridine orange staining, and simultaneously enhanced apoptosis by increased phospho-Bcl-2 and active caspase-9/-3 levels and phosphotidylserine exposure in CD4 lymphocytes. However, five weeks of HIT and MCT, but not CTL, reduced the extents of declined autophagy and potentiated apoptosis in CD4 lymphocytes caused by HE. Furthermore, both HIT and MCT regimens manifestly lowered plasma myeloperoxidase and interleukin-4 levels and elevated the ratio of interleukin-4 to interferon-γ at rest and following HE. Therefore, we conclude that HIT is superior to MCT for enhancing aerobic fitness. Moreover, either HIT or MCT effectively depresses apoptosis and promotes autophagy in CD4 lymphocytes and is accompanied by increased interleukin-4/interferon-γ ratio and decreased peroxide production during HE.
PMCID: PMC3827435  PMID: 24236174
15.  Increased Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Response Is Involved in Clopidogrel-Induced Apoptosis of Gastric Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74381.
The widespread use of clopidogrel alone or in combination with aspirin may result in gastrointestinal mucosal injury, clinically represented as recurrent ulceration and bleeding complications. Our recent work suggested that clopidogrel significantly induced human gastric epithelial cell (GES-1) apoptosis and disrupted gastric mucosal barrier, and that a p38 MAPK inhibitor could attenuate such injury. However, their exact mechanisms are largely unknown.
The GES-1 cells were used as a model system, the effects of clopidogrel on the whole gene expression profile were evaluated by human gene expression microarray and gene ontology analysis, changes of the mRNA and protein expression were determined by real-time PCR and Western blot analysis, and cell viability and apoptosis were measured by MTT assay and flow cytometry analysis, respectively.
Gene microarray analysis identified 79 genes that were differentially expressed (P<0.05 and fold-change >3) when cells were treated with or without clopidogrel. Gene ontology analysis revealed that response to stress and cell apoptosis dysfunction were ranked in the top 10 cellular events being affected, and that the major components of endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis pathway – CHOP and TRIB3– were up-regulated in a concentration- and time-dependent manner when cells were treated with clopidogrel. Pathway analysis demonstrated that multiple MAPK kinases were phosphorylated in clopidogrel-treated GES-1 cells, but that only SB-203580 (a p38-specific MAPK inhibitor) attenuated cell apoptosis and CHOP over-expression, both of which were induced by clopidogrel.
Increased endoplasmic reticulum stress response is involved in clopidogrel-induced gastric mucosal injury, acting through p38 MAPK activation.
PMCID: PMC3772828  PMID: 24058556
16.  IVIg Treatment Reduces Catalytic Antibody Titers of Renal Transplanted Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70731.
Catalytic antibodies are immunoglobulins endowed with enzymatic activity. Catalytic IgG has been reported in several human autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In particular, low levels of catalytic IgG have been proposed as a prognostic marker for chronic allograft rejection in patients undergoing kidney transplant. Kidney allograft is a treatment of choice for patients with end-stage renal failure. Intravenous immunoglobulins, a therapeutic pool of human IgG, is used in patients with donor-specific antibodies, alone or in conjunction with other immunosuppressive treatments, to desensitize the patients and prevent the development of acute graft rejection. Here, we followed for a period of 24 months the levels of catalytic IgG towards the synthetic peptide Pro-Phe-Arg-methylcoumarinimide in a large cohort of patients undergoing kidney transplantation. Twenty-four percent of the patients received IVIg at the time of transplantation. Our results demonstrate a marked reduction in levels of catalytic antibodies in all patients three months following kidney transplant. The decrease was significantly pronounced in patients receiving adjunct IVIg therapy. The results suggests that prevention of acute graft rejection using intravenous immunoglobulins induces a transient reduction in the levels of catalytic IgG, thus potentially jeopardizing the use of levels of catalytic antibodies as a prognosis marker for chronic allograft nephropathy.
PMCID: PMC3744545  PMID: 23967092
17.  Progression of Kidney Disease in Non-Diabetic Patients with Coronary Artery Disease: Predictive Role of Circulating Matrix Metalloproteinase-2, -3, and -9 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70132.
Circulating matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, -3 and -9 are well recognized in predicting cardiovascular outcome in coronary artery disease (CAD), but their risks for chronic kidney disease (CKD) are lacking. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate whether circulating MMP levels could independently predict future kidney disease progression in non-diabetic CAD patients.
The prospective study enrolled 251 non-diabetic subjects referred for coronary angiography, containing normal coronary artery (n = 30) and CAD with insignificant (n = 95) and significant (n = 126) stenosis. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated using the CKD-EPI formula. eGFR decline rate was calculated and the primary endpoint was a decline in eGFR over 25% from baseline.
The eGFR decline rate (ml/min/1.73 m2 per year) in patients with CAD (1.22 [−1.27, 1.05]) was greater than that in those with normal coronary artery (0.21 [−2.63, 0.47], P<0.01). The circulating MMP-2, -3 and -9 were independently associated with faster eGFR decline among CAD patients. The mean follow-up period was 8.5±2.4 years, and 39 patients reached the primary endpoint. In multivariate Cox regression model, the adjusted hazard ratios of MMP-2 ≥861 ng/mL, MMP-3 ≥227 ng/mL and MMP-9 ≥49 ng/mL for predicting CKD progression were 2.47 (95% CI, 1.21 to 5.07), 2.15 (1.12 to 4.18), and 4.71 (2.14 to 10.4), respectively. While added to a model of conventional risk factors and baseline eGFR, MMP-2, -3 and -9 further significantly improved the model predictability for CKD progression (c statistic, 0.817). In the sensitivity analyses, the results were similar no matter if we changed the endpoints of a decline of >20% in eGFR from baseline or final eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2.
Circulating MMP-2, -3 and -9 are independently associated with kidney disease progression in non-diabetic CAD patients and add incremental predictive power to conventional risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3724836  PMID: 23922934
18.  Using an Isolated Rat Kidney Model to Identify Kidney Origin Proteins in Urine 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66911.
The use of targeted proteomics to identify urinary biomarkers of kidney disease in urine can avoid the interference of serum proteins. It may provide better sample throughput, higher sensitivity, and specificity. Knowing which urinary proteins to target is essential. By analyzing the urine from perfused isolated rat kidneys, 990 kidney origin proteins with human analogs were identified in urine. Of these proteins, 128 were not found in normal human urine and may become biomarkers with zero background. A total of 297 proteins were not found in normal human plasma. These proteins will not be influenced by other normal organs and will be kidney specific. The levels of 33 proteins increased during perfusion with an oxygen-deficient solution compared to those perfused with oxygen. The 75 proteins in the perfusion-driven urine have a significantly increased abundance ranking compared to their ranking in normal human urine. When compared with existing candidate biomarkers, over ninety percent of the kidney origin proteins in urine identified in this study have not been examined as candidate biomarkers of kidney diseases.
PMCID: PMC3692545  PMID: 23825584
19.  Tightly Regulated and Homogeneous Transgene Expression in Human Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells by Lentivirus with Tet-Off System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66274.
Genetic modification of human adipose tissue–derived multilineage progenitor cells (hADMPCs) is highly valuable for their exploitation in therapeutic applications. Here, we have developed a novel single tet-off lentiviral vector platform. This vector combines (1) a modified tetracycline (tet)-response element composite promoter, (2) a multi-cistronic strategy to express an improved version of the tet-controlled transactivator and the blasticidin resistance gene under the control of a ubiquitous promoter, and (3) acceptor sites for easy recombination cloning of the gene of interest. In the present study, we used the cytomegalovirus (CMV) or the elongation factor 1 α (EF-1α) promoter as the ubiquitous promoter, and EGFP was introduced as the gene of interest. hADMPCs transduced with a lentiviral vector carrying either the CMV promoter or the EF-1α promoter were effectively selected by blasticidin without affecting their stem cell properties, and EGFP expression was strictly regulated by doxycycline (Dox) treatment in these cells. However, the single tet-off lentiviral vector carrying the EF-1α promoter provided more homogenous expression of EGFP in hADMPCs. Intriguingly, differentiated cells from these Dox-responsive cell lines constitutively expressed EGFP only in the absence of Dox. This single tet-off lentiviral vector thus provides an important tool for applied research on hADMPCs.
PMCID: PMC3680377  PMID: 23776652
20.  Utility and Limitation of Cumulative Stone Diameter in Predicting Urinary Stone Burden at Flexible Ureteroscopy with Holmium Laser Lithotripsy: A Single-Center Experience 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65060.
To retrospectively assess the clinical utility in ureteroscopy (URS) planning of cumulative stone diameter (CSD), which does not account for stone width or depth, as a predictor of URS outcome and compare it with stone volume.
Materials and Methods
Patients with renal stones treated at a single institute by flexible URS were retrospectively evaluated. To assess the clinical utility of CSD, relationships between stone-free (SF) status and stone burden (CSD and volume) were analyzed using the area under the receiver operating characteristics (AUROC) curve. To identify stone number impact on CSD, the AUROC of CSD divided by stone number was evaluated. Correlation coefficients of CSD and stone volume were also calculated for groups by stone number.
In cases with CSD <20.0 mm, CSD and stone volume revealed equal ability to predict SF status. In cases with CSD ≥20.0 mm, stone volume showed higher predictive ability. The ROC curves for cases with ≥4 stones showed that CSD was less predictive of SF status than stone volume. The correlation coefficients of CSD and stone volume by stone number were 0.922 for 1 stone, 0.900 for 2–3 stones, and 0.661 for ≥4 stones.
In cases with CSD ≥20.0 mm or ≥4 stones, we should evaluate stone volume for a more predictive stone burden, and pretreatment non-contrast CT seems sufficient. In cases with CSD <20.0 mm or 1–3 stones, CSD was as valid a predictor of preoperative stone burden as stone volume, so preoperative kidney-ureter-bladder (KUB) films may be sufficient.
PMCID: PMC3672212  PMID: 23750229
21.  Green Tea Polyphenols Stimulate Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Improve Renal Function after Chronic Cyclosporin A Treatment in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65029.
Our previous studies showed that an extract from Camellia sinenesis (green tea), which contains several polyphenols, attenuates nephrotoxicity caused by cyclosporine A (CsA). Since polyphenols are stimulators of mitochondrial biogenesis (MB), this study investigated whether stimulation of MB plays a role in green tea polyphenol protection against CsA renal toxicity. Rats were fed a powdered diet containing green tea polyphenolic extract (0.1%) starting 3 days prior to CsA treatment (25 mg/kg, i.g. daily for 3 weeks). CsA alone decreased renal nuclear DNA-encoded oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) protein ATP synthase-β (AS-β) by 42%, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)-encoded OXPHOS protein NADH dehydrogenase-3 (ND3) by 87% and their associated mRNAs. Mitochondrial DNA copy number was also decreased by 78% by CsA. Immunohistochemical analysis showed decreased cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV (COX-IV), an OXPHOS protein, in tubular cells. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator (PGC)-1α, the master regulator of MB, and mitochondrial transcription factor-A (Tfam), the transcription factor that regulates mtDNA replication and transcription, were 42% and 90% lower, respectively, in the kidneys of CsA-treated than in untreated rats. These results indicate suppression of MB by chronic CsA treatment. Green tea polyphenols alone and following CsA increased AS-β, ND3, COX-IV, mtDNA copy number, PGC-1α mRNA and protein, decreased acetylated PGC-1α, and increased Tfam mRNA and protein. In association with suppressed MB, CsA increased serum creatinine, caused loss of brush border and dilatation of proximal tubules, tubular atrophy, vacuolization, apoptosis, calcification, and increased neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin expression, leukocyte infiltration, and renal fibrosis. Green tea polyphenols markedly attenuated CsA-induced renal injury and improved renal function. Together, these results demonstrate that green tea polyphenols attenuate CsA-induced kidney injury, at least in part, through the stimulation of MB.
PMCID: PMC3670924  PMID: 23755172
22.  Renal and Urinary Levels of Endothelial Protein C Receptor Correlate with Acute Renal Allograft Rejection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64994.
The Endothelial Protein C Receptor (EPCR) is expressed on leukocytes, on endothelium of large blood vessels and to a lesser extent on capillaries. Membrane bound EPCR plays an important role in the activation of protein C which has anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects. After cleavage by a protease EPCR is also found as a soluble protein. Acute rejection of kidney allografts can be divided in T-cell-mediated rejection (TCMR) and antibody-mediated (ABMR) rejection. The latter is characterized by strong activation of coagulation. Currently no reliable non-invasive biomarkers are available to monitor rejection.
Renal biopsies were available from 81 renal transplant patients (33 without rejection, 26 TCMR and 22 ABMR), we had access to mRNA material, matched plasma and urine samples for a portion of this cohort. Renal EPCR expression was assessed by RT-PCR and immunostaining. Plasma and urine sEPCR levels were measured by ELISA.
ABMR patients showed higher levels of EPCR mRNA than TCMR patients. EPCR expression on glomeruli was significantly elevated in ABMR patients than in TCMR or control patients. In the peritubular capillaries EPCR expression was higher in ABMR patients than in control patients. EPCR expression was higher in tubules and arteries of rejection patients than in control patients. Plasma sEPCR levels did not differ. Urine sEPCR levels were more elevated in the ABMR group than in patients with TCMR or without rejection. ROC analysis demonstrated that urinary sEPCR is appropriate to discriminate between ABMR patients and TCMR or control patients. We conclude that urinary sEPCR could be a novel non-invasive biomarker of antibody mediated rejection in renal transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3661509  PMID: 23717683
23.  Expression Levels of Obesity-Related Genes Are Associated with Weight Change in Kidney Transplant Recipients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59962.
The aim of this study was to investigate the association of gene expression profiles in subcutaneous adipose tissue with weight change in kidney transplant recipients and to gain insights into the underlying mechanisms of weight gain.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A secondary data analysis was done on a subgroup (n = 26) of existing clinical and gene expression data from a larger prospective longitudinal study examining factors contributing to weight gain in transplant recipients. Measurements taken included adipose tissue gene expression profiles at time of transplant, baseline and six-month weight, and demographic data. Using multivariate linear regression analysis controlled for race and gender, expression levels of 1553 genes were significantly (p<0.05) associated with weight change. Functional analysis using Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes classifications identified metabolic pathways that were enriched in this dataset. Furthermore, GeneIndexer literature mining analysis identified a subset of genes that are highly associated with obesity in the literature and Ingenuity pathway analysis revealed several significant gene networks associated with metabolism and endocrine function. Polymorphisms in several of these genes have previously been linked to obesity.
We have successfully identified a set of molecular pathways that taken together may provide insights into the mechanisms of weight gain in kidney transplant recipients. Future work will be done to determine how these pathways may contribute to weight gain.
PMCID: PMC3609773  PMID: 23544116
24.  The Therapeutic Role of Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1 in a Renal Tissue Engineering Strategy for Diabetic Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57635.
In this study we aim to boost the functional output of the intra-kidney islet transplantation for diabetic patients using a tissue engineered polymeric scaffold. This highly porous electrospun scaffold featured randomly distributed fibers composed of polycaprolactone (PCL) and poliglecaprone (PGC). It successfully sustained murine islets in vitro for up to 4 weeks without detected cytotoxicity. The in vivo study showed that the islet population proliferated by 89% within 12 weeks when they were delivered by the scaffold but only 18% if freely injected. Correspondingly, the islet population delivered by the scaffold unleashed a greater capability to produce insulin that in turn further drove down the blood glucose within 12 weeks after the surgery. Islets delivered by the scaffold most effectively prevented diabetic deterioration of kidney as evidenced by the lack of a kidney or glomerular enlargement and physiological levels of creatinine, urea nitrogen and albumin through week 12 after the surgery. Unlike traditional wisdom in diabetic research, the mechanistic study suggested that monocytes chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) was responsible for the improved preservation of renal functions. This study revealed a therapeutic role of MCP-1 in rescuing kidneys in diabetic patients, which can be integrated into a tissue engineered scaffold to simultaneously preserved renal functions and islet transplantation efficacy. Also, this study affords a simple yet effective solution to improve the clinical output of islet transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3581514  PMID: 23451253
25.  Cysteine-Rich Protein 61 Plays a Proinflammatory Role in Obstructive Kidney Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56481.
Cysteine-rich protein 61 (Cyr61) is a secreted matrix-associated protein that regulates a broad spectrum of biological and cellular activities. This study aimed to investigate the role of Cyr61 in progressive kidney fibrosis induced by unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) surgery in mice. The expression of Cyr61 transcripts and proteins in the obstructed kidneys were increased from day 1 and remained high until day 10 after surgery. Immunohistochemistry indicated that Cyr61 was expressed mainly in renal tubular epithelial cells. The upregulated Cyr61 in UUO kidneys was reduced in mice treated with pan-transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) antibody. The role of TGF-β in tubular Cyr61 upregulation after obstructive kidney injury was further supported by experiments showing that TGF-β1 stimulated Cyr61 expression in cultured tubular epithelial cells. Notably, the upregulation of Cyr61 in UUO kidneys was followed by a marked increase in monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) transcripts and macrophage infiltration, which were attenuated in mice treated with anti-Cyr61 antibodies. This proinflammatory property of Cyr61 in inducing MCP-1 expression was further confirmed in tubular epithelial cells cultured with Cyr61 protein. The anti-Cyr61 antibody in UUO mice also reduced the levels of collagen type 1-α1 transcripts, collagen fibril accumulation evaluated by picrosirius red staining, and the levels of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) transcripts and proteins on day 4 after surgery; however, the antifibrotic effect was not sustained. In conclusion, the TGF-β-mediated increase in tubular Cyr61 expression involved renal inflammatory cell infiltration through MCP-1 induction during obstructive kidney injury. The Cyr61 blockade attenuated kidney fibrosis in the early phase, but the antifibrotic effect could not be sustained.
PMCID: PMC3574066  PMID: 23457573

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