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1.  Exercise Prevents Weight Gain and Alters the Gut Microbiota in a Mouse Model of High Fat Diet-Induced Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92193.
Diet-induced obesity (DIO) is a significant health concern which has been linked to structural and functional changes in the gut microbiota. Exercise (Ex) is effective in preventing obesity, but whether Ex alters the gut microbiota during development with high fat (HF) feeding is unknown.
Determine the effects of voluntary Ex on the gastrointestinal microbiota in LF-fed mice and in HF-DIO.
Male C57BL/6 littermates (5 weeks) were distributed equally into 4 groups: low fat (LF) sedentary (Sed) LF/Sed, LF/Ex, HF/Sed and HF/Ex. Mice were individually housed and LF/Ex and HF/Ex cages were equipped with a wheel and odometer to record Ex. Fecal samples were collected at baseline, 6 weeks and 12 weeks and used for bacterial DNA isolation. DNA was subjected both to quantitative PCR using primers specific to the 16S rRNA encoding genes for Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes and to sequencing for lower taxonomic identification using the Illumina MiSeq platform. Data were analyzed using a one or two-way ANOVA or Pearson correlation.
HF diet resulted in significantly greater body weight and adiposity as well as decreased glucose tolerance that were prevented by voluntary Ex (p<0.05). Visualization of Unifrac distance data with principal coordinates analysis indicated clustering by both diet and Ex at week 12. Sequencing demonstrated Ex-induced changes in the percentage of major bacterial phyla at 12 weeks. A correlation between total Ex distance and the ΔCt Bacteroidetes: ΔCt Firmicutes ratio from qPCR demonstrated a significant inverse correlation (r2 = 0.35, p = 0.043).
Ex induces a unique shift in the gut microbiota that is different from dietary effects. Microbiota changes may play a role in Ex prevention of HF-DIO.
PMCID: PMC3966766  PMID: 24670791
2.  Joint effect of insulin signalling genes on cardiovascular events and on whole body and endothelial insulin resistance 
Atherosclerosis  2012;226(1):140-145.
Insulin resistance (IR) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) share a common soil. We investigated the combined role of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affecting insulin signaling (ENPP1 K121Q, rs1044498; IRS1 G972R, rs1801278; TRIB3 Q84R, rs2295490) on CVD, age at myocardial infarction (MI), in vivo insulin sensitivity and in vitro insulin-stimulated nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity.
Design and Setting
1. We first studied, incident cardiovascular events (a composite endpoint comprising myocardial infarction -MI-, stroke and cardiovascular death) in 733 patients (2,186 person-years, 175 events). 2. In a replication attempt, age at MI was tested in 331 individuals. 3. OGTT-derived insulin sensitivity index (ISI) was assessed in 829 individuals with fasting glucose < 126 mg/dl. 4. NOS activity was measured in 40 strains of human vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).
1. Risk variants jointly predicted cardiovascular events (HR=1.181; p=0.0009) and, when added to clinical risk factors, significantly improved survival C-statistics; they also allowed a significantly correct reclassification (by net reclassification index) in the whole sample (135/733 individuals) and, even more, in obese patients (116/204 individuals). 2. Risk variants were jointly associated with age at MI (p=0.006). 3. A significant association was also observed with ISI (p=0.02). 4. Finally, risk variants were jointly associated with insulin-stimulated NOS activity in HUVECs (p=0.009).
Insulin signaling genes variants jointly affect cardiovascular disease, very likely by promoting whole body and endothelium-specific insulin resistance. Further studies are needed to address whether their genotyping help identify very high-risk patients who need specific and/or more aggressive preventive strategies.
PMCID: PMC3529747  PMID: 23107043
genetic susceptibility; non synonymous polymorphism; insulin sensitivity; insulin dependent endothelial function
3.  Transcriptional Regulation of an Insulin-Sensitizing Adipokine Adipolin/CTRP12 in Adipocytes by Krüppel-Like Factor 15 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83183.
Obese states characterized by chronic inflammation are closely linked to the development of metabolic dysfunction. We identified adipolin/CTRP12 as an insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory adipokine. Although obese conditions down-regulate adipolin expression, its molecular mechanism is largely unknown. Here we show that the transcriptional regulator Krüppel-like factor (KLF) 15 is involved in the regulation of adipolin expression in adipocytes. White adipose tissue from diet-induced obese (DIO) mice showed decreased expression of KLF9 and KLF15 among several KLFs, which was accompanied by reduced expression of adipolin. In cultured 3T3L1 adipocytes, treatment with TNFα significantly reduced the mRNA levels of KLF9, KLF15 and adipolin. Adenovirus-mediated overexpression of KLF15 but not KLF9 reversed TNFα-induced reduction of adipolin expression in adipocytes. Conversely, gene targeting ablation of KLF15 attenuated adipolin expression in adipocytes. Expression of KLF15 but not KLF9 enhanced the promoter activity of adipolin in HEK293 cells. Pretreatment of 3T3L1 adipocytes with the JNK inhibitor SP600125, but not p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 blocked the inhibitory effects of TNFα on adipolin and KLF15 expression. These data suggest that adipose inflammation under conditions of obesity suppresses adipolin expression via JNK-dependent down-regulation of KLF15 in adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC3865152  PMID: 24358263
4.  Overexpressing STAMP2 Improves Insulin Resistance in Diabetic ApoE−/−/LDLR−/− Mice via Macrophage Polarization Shift in Adipose Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78903.
STAMP2 is a counterregulator of inflammation and insulin resistance. The aim of this study is to investigate whether activation of STAMP2 improves insulin resistance by regulating macrophage polarization in adipose tissues. The diabetic ApoE−/−/LDLR−/− mouse model was induced by high-fat diet and low-dose streptozotocin. Samples were obtained from epididymal, subcutaneous and brown adipose tissues. Infiltration of M1/M2 macrophages and inflammatory cytokines were investigated by immunohistochemistry. We then used gene overexpression to investigate the effect of STAMP2 on macrophages infiltration and polarization and inflammatory cytokines expression. Our results showed that infiltration of macrophages, the ratio of M1/M2 macrophages and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines were enhanced and STAMP2 was downregulated in adipose tissues of diabetic ApoE−/−/LDLR−/− mice compared with control mice. STAMP2 gene overexpression could significantly reduce macrophages infiltration, the ratio of M1/M2 macrophages and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in epididymal and brown adipose tissues, improving insulin resistance. Our results suggested that STAMP2 gene overexpression may improve insulin resistance via regulating macrophage polarization in visceral and brown adipose tissues.
PMCID: PMC3827284  PMID: 24236066
5.  Energy Expenditure Evaluation in Humans and Non-Human Primates by SenseWear Armband. Validation of Energy Expenditure Evaluation by SenseWear Armband by Direct Comparison with Indirect Calorimetry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73651.
The purpose of this study was to compare and validate the use of SenseWear Armband (SWA) placed on the arm (SWA ARM) and on the back (SWA BACK) in healthy humans during resting and a cycle-ergometer exercise and to evaluate the SWA to estimate Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) and Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) in healthy baboons.
We studied 26 (15F/11M) human subjects wearing SWA in two different anatomical sites (arm and back) during resting and a cycle-ergometer test and directly compared these results with indirect calorimetry evaluation (IC), performed at the same time. We then inserted the SWA in a metabolic jacket for baboons and evaluated the TEE and REE in free living condition for 6 days in 21 (8F/13M) non-human primates.
In humans we found a good correlation between SWA place on the ARM and on the BACK with IC during the resting experiment (1.1±0.3 SWAs, 1±0.2 IC kcal/min) and a slight underestimation in the SWAs data compared with IC during the cycle-ergometer exercise (5±1.9 SWA ARM, 4.5±1.5 SWA BACK and 5.4±2.1 IC kcal/min). In the non-human primate (baboons) experiment SWA estimated a TEE of 0.54±0.009 kcal/min during free living and a REE of 0.82±0.06 kcal/min.
SWA, an extremely simple and inexpensive apparatus, provides quite accurate measurements of energy expenditure in humans and in baboons. Energy expenditure data obtained with SWA are highly correlated with the data obtained with “gold standard”, IC, in humans.
PMCID: PMC3777938  PMID: 24069218
6.  Brachial Artery Constriction during Brachial Artery Reactivity Testing Predicts Major Adverse Clinical Outcomes in Women with Suspected Myocardial Ischemia: Results from the NHLBI-Sponsored Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74585.
Limited brachial artery (BA) flow-mediated dilation during brachial artery reactivity testing (BART) has been linked to increased cardiovascular risk. We report on the phenomenon of BA constriction (BAC) following hyperemia.
To determine whether BAC predicts adverse CV outcomes and/or mortality in the women’s ischemic Syndrome Evaluation Study (WISE). Further, as a secondary objective we sought to determine the risk factors associated with BAC.
We performed BART on 377 women with chest pain referred for coronary angiography and followed for a median of 9.5 years. Forearm ischemia was induced with 4 minutes occlusion by a cuff placed distal to the BA and inflated to 40mm Hg > systolic pressure. BAC was defined as >4.8% artery constriction following release of the cuff. The main outcome was major adverse events (MACE) including all-cause mortality, non-fatal MI, non-fatal stroke, or hospitalization for heart failure.
BA diameter change ranged from -20.6% to +44.9%, and 41 (11%) women experienced BAC. Obstructive CAD and traditional CAD risk factors were not predictive of BAC. Overall, 39% of women with BAC experienced MACE vs. 22% without BAC (p=0.004). In multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression, BAC was a significant independent predictor of MACE (p=0.018) when adjusting for obstructive CAD and traditional risk factors.
BAC predicts almost double the risk for major adverse events compared to patients without BAC. This risk was not accounted for by CAD or traditional risk factors. The novel risk marker of BAC requires further investigation in women.
PMCID: PMC3776820  PMID: 24058592
7.  Human Gut Microbiota Changes Reveal the Progression of Glucose Intolerance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71108.
To explore the relationship of gut microbiota with the development of type 2 diabetes (T2DM), we analyzed 121 subjects who were divided into 3 groups based on their glucose intolerance status: normal glucose tolerance (NGT; n = 44), prediabetes (Pre-DM; n = 64), or newly diagnosed T2DM (n = 13). Gut microbiota characterizations were determined with 16S rDNA-based high-throughput sequencing. T2DM-related dysbiosis was observed, including the separation of microbial communities and a change of alpha diversity between the different glucose intolerance statuses. To assess the correlation between metabolic parameters and microbiota diversity, clinical characteristics were also measured and a significant association between metabolic parameters (FPG, CRP) and gut microbiota was found. In addition, a total of 28 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were found to be related to T2DM status by the Kruskal-Wallis H test, most of which were enriched in the T2DM group. Butyrate-producing bacteria (e.g. Akkermansia muciniphila ATCCBAA-835, and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii L2-6) had a higher abundance in the NGT group than in the pre-DM group. At genus level, the abundance of Bacteroides in the T2DM group was only half that of the NGT and Pre-DM groups. Previously reported T2DM-related markers were also compared with the data in this study, and some inconsistencies were noted. We found that Verrucomicrobiae may be a potential marker of T2DM as it had a significantly lower abundance in both the pre-DM and T2DM groups. In conclusion, this research provides further evidence of the structural modulation of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3754967  PMID: 24013136
8.  Decreased Naive and Increased Memory CD4+ T Cells Are Associated with Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71498.
Adaptive immunity has been implicated in atherosclerosis in animal models and small clinical studies. Whether chronic immune activation is associated with atherosclerosis in otherwise healthy individuals remains underexplored. We hypothesized that activation of adaptive immune responses, as reflected by higher proportions of circulating CD4+ memory cells and lower proportions of naive cells, would be associated with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Findings
We examined cross-sectional relationships of circulating CD4+ naive and memory T cells with biomarkers of inflammation, serologies, and subclinical atherosclerosis in 912 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Circulating CD4+ naive cells were higher in women than men and decreased with age (all p-values <0.0001). European-Americans had higher levels of naive cells and lower levels of memory cells compared with African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans (all p-values ≤0.0005). Lower naive/higher memory cells were associated with interleukin-6 levels. In multivariate models, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and H. Pylori titers were strongly associated with higher memory and lower naive cells (all p-values <0.05). Higher memory cells were associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC) level in the overall population [β-Coefficient (95% confidence interval (CI))  = 0.20 (0.03, 0.37)]. Memory and naive (inversely) cells were associated with common carotid artery intimal media thickness (CC IMT) in European-Americans [memory: β =  0.02 (0.006, 0.04); naive: β = −0.02 (−0.004, −0.03)].
These results demonstrate that the degree of chronic adaptive immune activation is associated with both CAC and CC IMT in otherwise healthy individuals, consistent with the known role of CD4+ T cells, and with innate immunity (inflammation), in atherosclerosis. These data are also consistent with the hypothesis that immunosenescence accelerates chronic diseases by putting a greater burden on the innate immune system, and suggest the importance of prospective studies and research into strategies to modulate adaptive immune activation in chronic disease states such as atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3751895  PMID: 24009662
9.  Identification of Differential Responses to an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test in Healthy Adults 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72890.
In recent years an individual’s ability to respond to an acute dietary challenge has emerged as a measure of their biological flexibility. Analysis of such responses has been proposed to be an indicator of health status. However, for this to be fully realised further work on differential responses to nutritional challenge is needed. This study examined whether metabolic phenotyping could identify differential responders to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and examined the phenotypic basis of the response.
Methods and Results
A total of 214 individuals were recruited and underwent challenge tests in the form of an OGTT and an oral lipid tolerance test (OLTT). Detailed biochemical parameters, body composition and fitness tests were recorded. Mixed model clustering was employed to define 4 metabotypes consisting of 4 different responses to an OGTT. Cluster 1 was of particular interest, with this metabotype having the highest BMI, triacylglycerol, hsCRP, c-peptide, insulin and HOMA- IR score and lowest VO2max. Cluster 1 had a reduced beta cell function and a differential response to insulin and c-peptide during an OGTT. Additionally, cluster 1 displayed a differential response to the OLTT.
This work demonstrated that there were four distinct metabolic responses to the OGTT. Classification of subjects based on their response curves revealed an “at risk” metabolic phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3749984  PMID: 23991163
10.  MiR-155 Has a Protective Role in the Development of Non-Alcoholic Hepatosteatosis in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72324.
Hepatic steatosis is a global epidemic that is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. MicroRNAs (miRs) are regulators that can functionally integrate a range of metabolic and inflammatory pathways in liver. We aimed to investigate the functional role of miR-155 in hepatic steatosis. Male C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) and miR-155−/− mice were fed either normal chow or high fat diet (HFD) for 6 months then lipid levels, metabolic and inflammatory parameters were assessed in livers and serum of the mice. Mice lacking endogenous miR-155 that were fed HFD for 6 months developed increased hepatic steatosis compared to WT controls. This was associated with increased liver weight and serum VLDL/LDL cholesterol and alanine transaminase (ALT) levels, as well as increased hepatic expression of genes involved in glucose regulation (Pck1, Cebpa), fatty acid uptake (Cd36) and lipid metabolism (Fasn, Fabp4, Lpl, Abcd2, Pla2g7). Using miRNA target prediction algorithms and the microarray transcriptomic profile of miR-155−/− livers, we identified and validated that Nr1h3 (LXRα) as a direct miR-155 target gene that is potentially responsible for the liver phenotype of miR-155−/− mice. Together these data indicate that miR-155 plays a pivotal role regulating lipid metabolism in liver and that its deregulation may lead to hepatic steatosis in patients with diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3749101  PMID: 23991091
11.  Association of Genetic Variation in Adaptor Protein APPL1/APPL2 Loci with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71391.
The importance of genetics and epigenetic changes in the pathogenesis of non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been increasingly recognized. Adiponectin has a central role in regulating glucose and lipid metabolism and controlling inflammation in insulin-sensitive tissues and low adiponectin levels have been linked to NAFLD. APPL1 and APPL2 are adaptor proteins that interact with the intracellular region of adiponectin receptors and mediate adiponectin signaling and its effects on metabolism. The aim of our study was the evaluation of a potential association between variants at APPL1 and APPL2 loci and NAFLD occurrence. The impact on liver damage and hepatic steatosis severity has been also evaluated. To this aim allele frequency and genotype distribution of APPL1- rs3806622 and -rs4640525 and APPL2-rs 11112412 variants were evaluated in 223 subjects with clinical diagnosis of NAFLD and compared with 231 healthy subjects. The impact of APPL1 and APPL2 SNPs on liver damage and hepatic steatosis severity has been also evaluated. The minor-allele combination APPL1-C/APPL2-A was associated with an increased risk of NAFLD (OR = 2.50 95% CI 1.45–4.32; p<0.001) even after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), triglycerides and adiponectin levels. This allele combination carrier had higher plasma alanine aminotransferase levels (Diff = 15.08 [7.60–22.57] p = 0.001) and an increased frequency of severe steatosis compared to the reference allele combination (OR = 3.88; 95% CI 1.582–9.531; p<0.001). In conclusion, C-APPL1/A-APPL2 allele combination is associated with NAFLD occurrence, with a more severe hepatic steatosis grade and with a reduced adiponectin cytoprotective effect on liver.
PMCID: PMC3747137  PMID: 23977033
12.  The Severity of Nocturnal Hypoxia but Not Abdominal Adiposity Is Associated with Insulin Resistance in Non-Obese Men with Sleep Apnea 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71000.
Beyond obesity, sleep apnea syndrome is frequently associated with excess abdominal adiposity that could contribute to the deteriorated cardiometabolic risk profile of apneic patients.
The present study addressed the respective contribution of the severity of sleep apnea syndrome and excess abdominal adiposity to the cardiometabolic risk profile of 38 non obese men with polysomnography-diagnosed sleep apnea syndrome (apnea-hypopnea index >15 events/hour). These otherwise healthy men performed a 75g-oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) with plasma lipid/inflammatory and redox profiles. Twenty-one apneic men with high-waist circumference (>94 cm) were compared to 17 apneic men with low-waist circumference.
Apneic men with high-waist circumference had higher AUC glucose and AUC insulin than apneic men with low-waist circumference. Accordingly, apneic men with high-waist circumference had higher hepatic insulin resistance as reflected by higher HOMA-resistance index, and lower global insulin sensitivity as reflected by lower insulin sensitivity index of Matsuda (derived from OGTT). The sleep structure and the apnea-hypopnea index were not different between the two groups. However, apneic men with high-waist circumference presented with lower mean nocturnal oxyhemoglobin (SpO2). In the 38 men, waist circumference and mean nocturnal SpO2 were inversely correlated (r = −0.43, p = 0.011) and were both associated with plasma glucose/insulin homeostasis indices: the higher the waist circumference, the lower the mean nocturnal SpO2, the lower the insulin-sensitivity. Finally, in multivariable regression model, mean nocturnal SpO2 and not waist circumference was associated with insulin-resistance.
Thus, excess abdominal adiposity in non obese apneic men was associated with a deteriorated insulin-sensitivity that could be driven by a more severe nocturnal hypoxemia.
PMCID: PMC3741390  PMID: 23951064
13.  Small, Dense LDL Particles Predict Changes in Intima Media Thickness and Insulin Resistance in Men with Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes – A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72763.
The association of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (sdLDL) particles with an increased cardiovascular risk is well established. However, its predictive value with regard to glucose metabolism and arterial disease in patients with type 2 diabetes has not been thoroughly investigated. We conducted a prospective longitudinal cohort study in patients with (pre)diabetes who were seen at baseline and after two years. sdLDL particles were determined by gradient gel electrophoresis. Insulin resistance was estimated by using the homeostatic model assessment 2 (HOMA2). Intima media thickness (IMT) and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) were assessed by ultrasound measurements. Fifty-nine patients (mean age 63.0 ± 12.2 years) were enrolled and 39 were seen at follow-up. IMT increased in the whole cohort during follow-up. The change in IMT was predicted by the proportion of sdLDL particles at baseline (p=0.03), and the change in FMD was predicted by LDL-cholesterol levels at baseline (p=0.049). HOMA2 and changes in HOMA2 correlated with the proportion of sdLDL particles and changes in this proportion, respectively (p<0.05 for both). Serum resistin levels increased in parallel with the increasing sdLDL particle number, while serum adiponectin increased only in patients with unaltered sdLDL particle number at follow-up (p<0.01 for both). In conclusion, the proportion of small, dense LDL particles and changes in this proportion are predictive of changes in intima media thickness and insulin resistance, and are closely associated with other determinants of an adverse metabolic status. Thus, this parameter extends the individual risk assessment beyond the limitations of traditional risk markers in patients with dysglycemia.
PMCID: PMC3738563  PMID: 23951331
14.  Metformin Therapy and Risk of Cancer in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71583.
Diabetes treatments were related with either an increased or reduced risk of cancer. There is ongoing debate about a potential protective action of metformin. To summarize evidence on the association between metformin and risk of cancer and cancer mortality in patients with diabetes.
Data source: MEDLINE and EMBASE (January 1966-April 2012). We selected randomized studies comparing metformin and other hypoglycaemic agents and observational studies exploring the association between exposure to metformin and cancer. Outcomes were cancer mortality, all malignancies and site-specific cancers.
Of 25307 citations identified, 12 randomized controlled trials (21,595 patients) and 41 observational studies (1,029,389 patients) met the inclusion criteria. In observational studies there was a significant association of exposure to metformin with the risk of cancer death [6 studies, 24,410 patients, OR:0.65, 95%CI: 0.53-0.80], all malignancies [18 studies, 561,836 patients, OR:0.73, 95%CI: 0.61-0.88], liver [8 studies, 312,742 patients, OR:0.34; 95%CI: 0.19-0.60] colorectal [12 studies, 871,365 patients, OR:0.83, 95%CI: 0.74–0.92], pancreas [9 studies, 847,248 patients, OR:0.56, 95%CI: 0.36–0.86], stomach [2 studies, 100701 patients, OR:0.83, 95%CI: 0.76–0.91], and esophagus cancer [2 studies, 100694 patients, OR:0.90, 95%CI: 0.83–0.98]. No significant difference of risk was observed in randomized trials. Metformin was not associated with the risk of: breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, uterus cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and melanoma.
Results suggest that Metformin might be associated with a significant reduction in the risk of cancer and cancer-related mortality. Randomized trials specifically designed to evaluate the efficacy of metformin as an anticancer agent are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3732236  PMID: 23936520
15.  Lesional Accumulation of CD163-Expressing Cells in the Gut of Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69839.
Monocytes/macrophages displaying different markers of activation/differentiation infiltrate the inflamed gut of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), but the role that each monocyte/macrophage subpopulation plays in the pathogenesis of IBD is not fully understood. The hemoglobin scavenger receptor CD163, a specific marker of monocytes/macrophages, has been associated with either anti-inflammatory or inflammatory functions of macrophages in several pathologies. In this study we examined the tissue distribution and function of CD163-expressing monocytes/macrophages in IBD. CD163 RNA and protein expression was more pronounced in IBD in comparison to normal controls, with no significant difference between Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis. In IBD, over-expression of CD163 was restricted to areas with active inflammation and not influenced by current therapy. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the accumulation of CD163-expressing cells in IBD, mostly around and inside blood vessels, thus suggesting that these cells are partly recruited from the systemic circulation. Indeed, FACS analysis of circulating mononuclear cells showed that the fractions of CD163-positive monocytes were increased in IBD patients as compared to controls. Functionally, interleukin-6 up-regulated CD163 expression in lamina propria mononuclear cells and mucosal explants of normal subjects. In IBD blood and mucosal cell cultures, cross-linking of CD163 with a specific monoclonal anti-CD163 antibody enhanced tumor necrosis factor-α synthesis. These findings indicate that IBD mucosa is abundantly infiltrated with CD163-positive cells, which could contribute to amplify the inflammatory cytokine response.
PMCID: PMC3724902  PMID: 23922818
16.  The Acute Effects of Grape Polyphenols Supplementation on Endothelial Function in Adults: Meta-Analyses of Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69818.
The acute effects of grape polyphenols on endothelial function in adults are inconsistent. Here, we performed meta-analyses to determine these acute effects as measured by flow-mediated dilation (FMD).
Trials were searched in PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library database. Summary estimates of weighted mean differences (WMDs) and 95% CIs were obtained by using random-effects models. Meta-regression and subgroup analyses were performed to identify the source of heterogeneity. The protocol details of our meta-analysis have been submitted to the PROSPERO register and our registration number is CRD42013004157.
Nine studies were included in the present meta-analyses. The results showed that the FMD level was significantly increased in the initial 120 min after intake of grape polyphenols as compared with controls. Meta-regression and subgroup analyses were performed and showed that a health status was the main effect modifier of the significant heterogeneity. Subgroups indicated that intake of grape polyphenols could significantly increase FMD in healthy subjects, and the increased FMD appeared to be more obviously in subjects with high cardiovascular risk factors. Moreover, the peak effect of grape polyphenols on FMD in healthy subjects was found 30 min after ingestion, which was different from the effect in subjects with high cardiovascular risk factors, in whom the peak effect was found 60 min after ingestion.
Endothelial function can be significantly improved in healthy adults in the initial 2 h after intake of grape polyphenols. The acute effect of grape polyphenols on endothelial function may be more significant but the peak effect is delayed in subjects with a smoking history or coronary heart disease as compared with the healthy subjects.
PMCID: PMC3722169  PMID: 23894543
17.  A Standardized Vascular Disease Health Check in Europe: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e66454.
No clinical trials have assessed the effects or cost-effectiveness of health check strategies to detect and manage vascular disease. We used a mathematical model to estimate the cost-effectiveness of several health check strategies in six European countries.
We used country-specific data from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom to generate simulated populations of individuals aged 40–75 eligible for health checks in those countries (e.g. individuals without a previous diagnosis of diabetes, myocardial infarction, stroke, or serious chronic kidney disease). For each country, we used the Archimedes model to compare seven health check strategies consisting of assessments for diabetes, hypertension, lipids, and smoking. For patients diagnosed with vascular disease, treatment was simulated in a standard manner. We calculated the effects of each strategy on the incidence of type 2 diabetes, major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), and microvascular complications in addition to quality of life, costs, and cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY).
Compared with current care, health checks reduced the incidence of MACE (6–17 events prevented per 1000 people screened) and diabetes related microvasular complications (5–11 events prevented per 1000 people screened), and increased QALYs (31–59 discounted QALYs) over 30 years, in all countries. The cost per QALY of offering a health check to all individuals in the study cohort ranged from €14903 (France) to cost saving (Poland). Pre-screening the population and offering health checks only to higher risk individuals lowered the cost per QALY. Pre-screening on the basis of obesity had a cost per QALY of €10200 (France) or less, and pre-screening with a non-invasive risk score was similar.
A vascular disease health check would likely be cost effective at 30 years in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
PMCID: PMC3712021  PMID: 23869204
18.  Haplotypes in IL-8 Gene Are Associated to Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66978.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the main cause of blindness in the developed world. The etiology of AMD is multifactorial due to the interaction between genetic and environmental factors. IL-8 has a role in inflammation and angiogenesis; we report the genetic characterization of IL-8 allele architecture and evaluate the role of SNPs or haplotypes in the susceptibility to wet AMD, case-control study.
Case-control study including 721 AMD patients and 660 controls becoming from Italian population. Genotyping was carried out by Real Time-PCR. Differences in the frequencies were estimated by the chi-square test. Direct sequencing was carried out by capillary electrophoresis trough ABI3130xl.
rs2227306 showed a p–value of 4.15*10−5 and an Odds Ratio (OR) for T allele of 1.39 [1.19–1.62]. After these positive results, we sequenced the entire IL-8 regulatory and coding regions of 60 patients and 30 controls stratified for their genotype at rs2227306. We defined two different haplotypes involving rs4073 (A/T), rs2227306 (C/T), rs2227346 (C/T) and rs1126647 (A/T): A-T-T-T (p-value: 2.08*10−9; OR: 1.68 [1.43–1.97]) and T-C-C-A (p-value: 7.07*10−11; OR: 0.60 [0.51–0.70]). To further investigate a potential functional role of associated haplotypes, we performed an expression study on RNA extracted from whole blood of 75 donors to verify a possible direct correlation between haplotype and gene expression, failing to reveal significant differences.
These results suggest a possible secondary role of IL-8 gene in the development of the disease. This paper outlines the importance of association between inflammation and AMD. Moreover IL-8 is a new susceptibility genomic biomarker of AMD.
PMCID: PMC3686762  PMID: 23840568
19.  Body Adiposity Index versus Body Mass Index and Other Anthropometric Traits as Correlates of Cardiometabolic Risk Factors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65954.
The worldwide prevalence of obesity mandates a widely accessible tool to categorize adiposity that can best predict associated health risks. The body adiposity index (BAI) was designed as a single equation to predict body adiposity in pooled analysis of both genders. We compared body adiposity index (BAI), body mass index (BMI), and other anthropometric measures, including percent body fat (PBF), in their correlations with cardiometabolic risk factors. We also compared BAI with BMI to determine which index is a better predictor of PBF.
The cohort consisted of 698 Mexican Americans. We calculated correlations of BAI, BMI, and other anthropometric measurements (PBF measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, waist and hip circumference, height, weight) with glucose homeostasis indices (including insulin sensitivity and insulin clearance from euglycemic clamp), lipid parameters, cardiovascular traits (including carotid intima-media thickness), and biomarkers (C-reactive protein, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and adiponectin). Correlations between each anthropometric measure and cardiometabolic trait were compared in both sex-pooled and sex-stratified groups.
BMI was associated with all but two measured traits (carotid intima-media thickness and fasting glucose in men), while BAI lacked association with several variables. BAI did not outperform BMI in its associations with any cardiometabolic trait. BAI was correlated more strongly than BMI with PBF in sex-pooled analyses (r = 0.78 versus r = 0.51), but not in sex-stratified analyses (men, r = 0.63 versus r = 0.79; women, r = 0.69 versus r = 0.77). Additionally, PBF showed fewer correlations with cardiometabolic risk factors than BMI. Weight was more strongly correlated than hip with many of the cardiometabolic risk factors examined.
BAI is inferior to the widely used BMI as a correlate of the cardiometabolic risk factors studied. Additionally, BMI’s relationship with total adiposity may not be the sole determinate of its association with cardiometabolic risk.
PMCID: PMC3679008  PMID: 23776578
20.  Serum Resistin, Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64729.
High serum resistin has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population, Only sparse and conflicting results, limited to Asian individuals, have been reported, so far, in type 2 diabetes. We studied the role of serum resistin on coronary artery disease, major cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality in type 2 diabetes.
We tested the association of circulating resistin concentrations with coronary artery disease, major cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction and non-fatal stroke) and all-cause mortality in 2,313 diabetic patients of European ancestry from two cross-sectional and two prospective studies. In addition, the expression of resistin gene (RETN) was measured in blood cells of 68 diabetic patients and correlated with their serum resistin levels.
In a model comprising age, sex, smoking habits, BMI, HbA1c, and insulin, antihypertensive and antidyslipidemic therapies, serum resistin was associated with coronary artery disease in both cross-sectional studies: OR (95%CI) per SD increment = 1.35 (1.10–1.64) and 1.99 (1.55–2.55). Additionally, serum resistin predicted incident major cardiovascular events (HR per SD increment = 1.31; 1.10–1.56) and all-cause mortality (HR per SD increment = 1.16; 1.06–1.26). Adjusting also for fibrinogen levels affected the association with coronary artery disease and incident cardiovascular events, but not that with all cause-mortality. Finally, serum resistin was positively correlated with RETN mRNA expression (rho = 0.343).
This is the first study showing that high serum resistin (a likely consequence, at least partly, of increased RETN expression) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in diabetic patients of European ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3670852  PMID: 23755138
22.  Promoting Effects of the Adipokine, Apelin, on Diabetic Nephropathy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60457.
Angiogenesis, increased glomerular permeability, and albuminuria are thought to contribute to the progression of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Apelin receptor (APLNR) and the endogenous ligand of APLNR, apelin, induce the sprouting of endothelial cells in an autocrine or paracrine manner, which may be one of the mechanisms of DN. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of apelin in the pathogenesis of DN. Therefore, we observed apelin/APLNR expression in kidneys from patients with type 2 diabetes as well as the correlation between albuminuria and serum apelin in patients with type 2 diabetes. We also measured the proliferating, migrating, and chemotactic effects of apelin on glomerular endothelial cells. To measure the permeability of apelin in glomerular endothelial cells, we used transwells to detect FITC-BSA penetration through monolayered glomerular endothelial cells. The results showed that serum apelin was significantly higher in the patients with type 2 diabetes compared to healthy people (p<0.05, Fig. 1B) and that urinary albumin was positively correlated with serum apelin (R = 0.78, p<0.05). Apelin enhanced the migration, proliferation, and chemotaxis of glomerular endothelial cells in a dose-dependent manner (p<0.05). Apelin also promoted the permeability of glomerular endothelial cells (p<0.05) and upregulated the expression of VEGFR2 and Tie2 in glomerular endothelial cells (p<0.05). These results indicated that upregulated apelin in type 2 diabetes, which may be attributed to increased fat mass, promotes angiogenesis in glomeruli to form abnormal vessels and that enhanced apelin increases permeability via upregulating the expression of VEGFR2 and Tie2 in glomerular endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3618333  PMID: 23577111
23.  Common Genetic Variants of Surfactant Protein-D (SP-D) Are Associated with Type 2 Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60468.
Surfactant protein-D (SP-D) is a primordial component of the innate immune system intrinsically linked to metabolic pathways. We aimed to study the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affecting SP-D with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (T2D).
Research Design and Methods
We evaluated a common genetic variant located in the SP-D coding region (rs721917, Met31Thr) in a sample of T2D patients and non-diabetic controls (n = 2,711). In a subset of subjects (n = 1,062), this SNP was analyzed in association with circulating SP-D concentrations, insulin resistance, and T2D. This SNP and others were also screened in the publicly available Genome Wide Association (GWA) database of the Meta-Analyses of Glucose and Insulin-related traits Consortium (MAGIC).
We found the significant association of rs721917 with circulating SP-D, parameters of insulin resistance and T2D. Indeed, G carriers showed decreased circulating SP-D (p = 0.004), decreased fasting glucose (p = 0.0002), glycated hemoglobin (p = 0.0005), and 33% (p = 0.002) lower prevalence of T2D, estimated under a dominant model, especially among women. Interestingly, these differences remained significant after controlling for origin, age, gender, and circulating SP-D. Moreover, this SNP and others within the SP-D genomic region (i.e. rs10887344) were significantly associated with quantitative measures of glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, and T2D, according to GWAS datasets from MAGIC.
SP-D gene polymorphisms are associated with insulin resistance and T2D. These associations are independent of circulating SP-D concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3618429  PMID: 23577114
24.  CD160Ig Fusion Protein Targets a Novel Costimulatory Pathway and Prolongs Allograft Survival 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60391.
CD160 is a cell surface molecule expressed by most NK cells and approximately 50% of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Engagement of CD160 by MHC class-I directly triggers a costimulatory signal to TCR-induced proliferation, cytokine production and cytotoxic effector functions. The role of CD160 in alloimmunity is unknown. Using a newly generated CD160 fusion protein (CD160Ig) we examined the role of the novel costimulatory molecule CD160 in mediating CD4+ or CD8+ T cell driven allograft rejection. CD160Ig inhibits alloreactive CD8+ T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production in vitro, in particular in the absence of CD28 costimulation. Consequently CD160Ig prolongs fully mismatched cardiac allograft survival in CD4−/−, CD28−/− knockout and CTLA4Ig treated WT recipients, but not in WT or CD8−/− knockout recipients. The prolonged cardiac allograft survival is associated with reduced alloreactive CD8+ T cell proliferation, effector/memory responses and alloreactive IFN-γ production. Thus, CD160 signaling is particularly important in CD28-independent effector/memory CD8+ alloreactive T cell activation in vivo and therefore may serve as a novel target for prevention of allograft rejection.
PMCID: PMC3617215  PMID: 23593209
25.  Toll-Like Receptor Induced CD11b and L-Selectin Response in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60467.
Toll-Like Receptor (TLR) -2 and -4 expression and TLR-induced cytokine response of inflammatory cells are related to atherogenesis and atherosclerotic plaque progression. We examined whether immediate TLR induced changes in CD11b and L-selectin (CD62L) expression are able to discriminate the presence and severity of atherosclerotic disease by exploring single dose whole blood TLR stimulation and detailed dose-response curves. Blood samples were obtained from 125 coronary artery disease (CAD) patients and 28 controls. CD11b and L-selectin expression on CD14+ monocytes was measured after whole blood stimulation with multiple concentrations of the TLR4 ligand LPS (0.01–10 ng/ml) and the TLR2 ligand P3C (0.5–500 ng/ml). Subsequently, dose-response curves were created and the following parameters were calculated: hillslope, EC50, area under the curve (AUC) and delta. These parameters provide information about the maximum response following activation, as well as the minimum trigger required to induce activation and the intensity of the response. CAD patients showed a significantly higher L-selectin, but not CD11b response to TLR ligation than controls after single dose stimulations as well as significant differences in the hillslope and EC50 of the dose-response curves. Within the CAD patient group, dose-response curves of L-selectin showed significant differences in the presence of hypertension, dyslipidemia, coronary occlusion and degree of stenosis, whereas CD11b expression had the strongest discriminating power after single dose stimulation. In conclusion, single dose stimulations and dose-response curves of CD11b and L-selectin expression after TLR stimulation provide diverse but limited information about atherosclerotic disease severity in stable angina patients. However, both single dose stimulation and dose-response curves of LPS-induced L-selectin expression can discriminate between controls and CAD patients.
PMCID: PMC3616095  PMID: 23573259

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