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1.  Inflammation and oxidative stress caused by nitric oxide synthase uncoupling might lead to left ventricular diastolic and systolic dysfunction in patients with hypertension 
To investigate the role of oxidative stress, inflammation, hypercoagulability and neuroendocrine activation in the transition of hypertensive heart disease to heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF).
We performed echocardiography for 112 patients (≥ 60 years old) with normal EF (18 controls and 94 with hypertension), and determined protein carbonylation (PC), and tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), fibrinogen, plasminogen activator inhibitor type-I (PAI-I), von Willebrand factor, chromogranin A (cGA) and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels from their blood samples.
We found that 40% (38/94) of the patients with hypertension (HT) had no diastolic dysfunction (HTDD−), and 60% (56/94) had diastolic dysfunction (HTDD+). Compared to the controls, both patient groups had increased PC and BH4, TNF-α, PAI-I and BNP levels, while the HTDD+ group had elevated cGA and CRP levels. Decreased atrial and longitudinal left ventricular (LV) systolic and diastolic myocardial deformation (strain and strain rate) was demonstrated in both patient groups versus the control. Patients whose LV diastolic function deteriorated during the follow-up had elevated PC and IL-6 level compared to their own baseline values, and to the respective values of patients whose LV diastolic function remained unchanged. Oxidative stress, inflammation, BNP and PAI-I levels inversely correlated with LV systolic, diastolic and atrial function.
In patients with HT and normal EF, the most common HFPEF precursor condition, oxidative stress and inflammation may be responsible for LV systolic, diastolic and atrial dysfunction, which are important determinants of the transition of HT to HFPEF.
PMCID: PMC4308452
Hypertension; Heart failure; Inflammation; Oxidative stress
2.  Common Genetic Variants of the Human Steroid 21-Hydroxylase Gene (CYP21A2) Are Related to Differences in Circulating Hormone Levels 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107244.
Systematic evaluation of the potential relationship between the common genetic variants of CYP21A2 and hormone levels.
The relationships of CYP21A2 intron 2 polymorphisms and haplotypes with diverse baseline and stimulated blood hormone levels were studied in 106 subjects with non-functioning adrenal incidentaloma (NFAI). The rationale for using NFAI subjects is dual: i) their baseline hormone profiles do not differ from those of healthy subjects and ii) hormone levels after stimulation tests are available.
The carriers (N = 27) of a well-defined CYP21A2 haplotype cluster (c5) had significantly elevated levels of cortisol (p = 0.0110), and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (p = 0.0001) after ACTH stimulation, and 11-deoxycortisol after metyrapone administration (p = 0.0017), but the hormone values were in normal ranges. In addition, the carriers (N = 33) of the C allele of the rs6462 polymorphism had a higher baseline aldosterone level (p = 0.0006). The prevalence of these genetic variants of CYP21A2 did not differ between NFAI and healthy subjects.
The common CYP21A2 variants presumably exert the same effect on hormone levels in the healthy and disease-affected populations. Therefore, they may contribute to complex diseases such as some cardiovascular diseases, and may influence the genotype-phenotype correlation in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) including the individual need for hormone substitution.
PMCID: PMC4161435  PMID: 25210767
3.  Elevated extracellular HSP70 (HSPA1A) level as an independent prognostic marker of mortality in patients with heart failure 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2013;18(6):809-813.
Predicting the survival of a patient with heart failure (HF) is a complex problem in clinical practice. Our previous study reported that extracellular HSP70 (HSPA1A) correlates with markers of heart function and disease severity in HF, but the predictive value of HSP70 is unclear. The goal of this study was to analyze extracellular HSP70 as predictive marker of mortality in HF. One hundred ninety-five patients with systolic heart failure were enrolled and followed up for 60 months. By the end of follow-up, 85 patients were alive (survivors) and 110 died (nonsurvivors). HSP70 (measured by ELISA in the serum) was elevated in nonsurvivors, compared with survivors (0.39 [0.27–0.59] vs. 0.30 [0.24–0.43] ng/ml, respectively, p = 0.0101). In Kaplan–Meier survival analysis higher HSP70 levels above median were associated with a significantly increased mortality. In multivariable survival models, we show that HSP70 level above the median is an age-, sex-, body mass index-, creatinine-, and NT-proBNP-independent predictor of 5-year mortality in HF. Extracellular HSP70 could prove useful for estimating survival in patients with HF.
PMCID: PMC3789876  PMID: 23564583
HSP70; HSPA1A; Heart failure; Inflammation; Prognostic marker; Five-year survival
4.  Persistently elevated extracellular HSP70 (HSPA1A) level as an independent prognostic marker in post-cardiac-arrest patients 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2013;18(4):447-454.
Predicting the prognosis of comatose, post-cardiac-arrest patients is a complex problem in clinical practice. There are several established methods to foretell neurological outcome; however, further prognostic markers are needed. HSP70 (HSPA1A), which increases rapidly in response to severe stress (among others after ischemic or hypoxic events), is a biomarker of cell damage in the ischemic brain and spinal cord. We hypothesized that HSP70 might be a reliable predictor of mortality in post-cardiac-arrest patients. The aim of this study was to analyze the role of extracellular HSP70 in the systemic inflammatory response over time, as well as the predictive value in cardiac arrest patients. Here, we show that the elevation of HSP70 levels in resuscitated patients and their persistence is an independent predictor of 30-day mortality after a cardiac arrest. Forty-six cardiac arrest patients were successfully cooled to 32–34 °C for 24 h, and followed up for 30 days. Twenty-four patients (52.2 %) were alive by the end of follow-up, and 22 patients (47.8 %) died. Forty-six patients with stable cardiovascular disease served as controls. Extracellular HSP70 (measured by ELISA in blood samples) was elevated in all resuscitated patients (1.31 [0.76–2.73] and 1.70 [1.20–2.37] ng/ml for survivors and non-survivors, respectively), compared with the controls (0.59 [0.44–0.83] ng/ml). HSP70 level decreased significantly in survivors, but persisted in non-survivors, and predicted 30-day mortality regardless of age, sex, complications, and the APACHE II score. Extracellular HSP70 could prove useful for estimating prognosis in comatose post-cardiac-arrest patients.
PMCID: PMC3682023  PMID: 23321917
HSP70; HSPA1A; Cardiac arrest; Hypoxia–ischemia; Inflammation; Mild hypothermia
5.  Both Positive and Negative Selection Pressures Contribute to the Polymorphism Pattern of the Duplicated Human CYP21A2 Gene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81977.
The human steroid 21-hydroxylase gene (CYP21A2) participates in cortisol and aldosterone biosynthesis, and resides together with its paralogous (duplicated) pseudogene in a multiallelic copy number variation (CNV), called RCCX CNV. Concerted evolution caused by non-allelic gene conversion has been described in great ape CYP21 genes, and the same conversion activity is responsible for a serious genetic disorder of CYP21A2, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). In the current study, 33 CYP21A2 haplotype variants encoding 6 protein variants were determined from a European population. CYP21A2 was shown to be one of the most diverse human genes (HHe=0.949), but the diversity of intron 2 was greater still. Contrary to previous findings, the evolution of intron 2 did not follow concerted evolution, although the remaining part of the gene did. Fixed sites (different fixed alleles of sites in human CYP21 paralogues) significantly accumulated in intron 2, indicating that the excess of fixed sites was connected to the lack of effective non-allelic conversion and concerted evolution. Furthermore, positive selection was presumably focused on intron 2, and possibly associated with the previous genetic features. However, the positive selection detected by several neutrality tests was discerned along the whole gene. In addition, the clear signature of negative selection was observed in the coding sequence. The maintenance of the CYP21 enzyme function is critical, and could lead to negative selection, whereas the presumed gene regulation altering steroid hormone levels via intron 2 might help fast adaptation, which broadly characterizes the genes of human CNVs responding to the environment.
PMCID: PMC3843699  PMID: 24312389
6.  Association of Ficolin-3 with Severity and Outcome of Chronic Heart Failure 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60976.
Inflammatory mechanisms involving complement activation has been shown to take part in the pathophysiology of congestive heart failure, but the initiating mechanisms are unknown. We hypothesized that the main initiator molecules of the lectin complement pathway mannose-binding lectin (MBL), ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 were related to disease severity and outcome in chronic heart failure.
Methods and Results
MBL, ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 plasma concentrations were determined in two consecutive cohorts comprising 190 patients from Hungary and 183 patients from Norway as well as controls. Disease severity and clinical parameters were determined at baseline, and all-cause mortality was registered after 5-years follow-up. In univariate analysis a low level of ficolin-3, but not that of MBL or ficolin-2, was significantly associated with advanced heart failure (New York Heart Association Class IV, p<0.001 for both cohorts) and showed inverse correlation with B- type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels (r = −0.609, p<0.001 and r = −0.467, p<0.001, respectively). In multivariable Cox regression analysis, adjusted for age, gender and BNP, decreased plasma ficolin-3 was a significant predictor of mortality (HR 1.368, 95% CI 1.052–6.210; and HR 1.426, 95% CI 1.013–2.008, respectively). Low ficolin-3 levels were associated with increased complement activation product C3a and correspondingly decreased concentrations of complement factor C3.
This study provides evidence for an association of low ficolin-3 levels with advanced heart failure. Concordant results from two cohorts show that low levels of ficolin-3 are associated with advanced heart failure and outcome. The decrease of ficolin-3 was associated with increased complement activation.
PMCID: PMC3626638  PMID: 23596511
7.  Intraspecific Evolution of Human RCCX Copy Number Variation Traced by Haplotypes of the CYP21A2 Gene 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;5(1):98-112.
The RCCX region is a complex, multiallelic, tandem copy number variation (CNV). Two complete genes, complement component 4 (C4) and steroid 21-hydroxylase (CYP21A2, formerly CYP21B), reside in its variable region. RCCX is prone to nonallelic homologous recombination (NAHR) such as unequal crossover, generating duplications and deletions of RCCX modules, and gene conversion. A series of allele-specific long-range polymerase chain reaction coupled to the whole-gene sequencing of CYP21A2 was developed for molecular haplotyping. By means of the developed techniques, 35 different kinds of CYP21A2 haplotype variant were experimentally determined from 112 unrelated European subjects. The number of the resolved CYP21A2 haplotype variants was increased to 61 by bioinformatic haplotype reconstruction. The CYP21A2 haplotype variants could be assigned to the haplotypic RCCX CNV structures (the copy number of RCCX modules) in most cases. The genealogy network constructed from the CYP21A2 haplotype variants delineated the origin of RCCX structures. The different RCCX structures were located in tight groups. The minority of groups with identical RCCX structure occurred once in the network, implying monophyletic origin, but the majority of groups occurred several times and in different locations, indicating polyphyletic origin. The monophyletic groups were often created by single unequal crossover, whereas recurrent unequal crossover events generated some of the polyphyletic groups. As a result of recurrent NAHR events, more CYP21A2 haplotype variants with different allele patterns belonged to the same RCCX structure. The intraspecific evolution of RCCX CNV described here has provided a reasonable expectation for that of complex, multiallelic, tandem CNVs in humans.
PMCID: PMC3595039  PMID: 23241443
allele-specific long-range PCR; CNV; genealogy network; nonallelic homologous recombination
8.  Comparison of epitope specificity of anti-heat shock protein 60/65 IgG type antibodies in the sera of healthy subjects, patients with coronary heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2011;17(2):215-227.
Previously, we reported on the presence of antibodies to linear epitopes of human and mycobacterial 60 kD heat shock proteins (HSP) in the sera of healthy blood donors. Since many recent findings indicate that the levels of these antibodies may be altered in coronary heart disease (CHD) and also inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), it seemed worthwhile to compare the epitope specificity of the anti-HSP60 and anti-HSP65 antibodies in the sera of patients with these diseases to those in healthy subjects. The multipin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method was applied with a large overlapping set of synthetic 10-mer peptides covering selected regions of human HSP60 and Mycobacterium bovis HSP65. Sera of 12 healthy persons (HP), 14 CHD, and 14 IBD patients with the same concentration of total anti-HSP60 and HSP65 IgG antibodies were tested. We have identified CHD-specific epitopes in the equatorial domain of the HSP60 protein but in neither region of the HSP65 molecule, indicating that the formation of anti-HSP60 antibodies is not or only partially due to the cross-reaction between human HSP60 and bacterial HSP65. IBD-specific epitopes were found in many regions of the HSP60 and in even more regions of the HSP65 molecule including an IBD-specific T cell epitope in region X as well. These findings indicate that the epitope specificity of the anti-human and anti-mycobacterial HSP60 antibodies associated with various diseases is different.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12192-011-0301-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3273563  PMID: 22038196
Coronary heart disease; Inflammatory bowel disease; Human HSP60; Mycobacterial HSP65; Epitope analysis
9.  Low ficolin-3 levels in early follow-up serum samples are associated with the severity and unfavorable outcome of acute ischemic stroke 
A number of data indicate that the lectin pathway of complement activation contributes to the pathophysiology of ischemic stroke. The lectin pathway may be triggered by the binding of mannose-binding lectin (MBL), ficolin-2 or ficolin-3 to different ligands. Although several papers demonstrated the significance of MBL in ischemic stroke, the role of ficolins has not been examined.
Sera were obtained within 12 hours after the onset of ischemic stroke (admission samples) and 3-4 days later (follow-up samples) from 65 patients. The control group comprised 100 healthy individuals and 135 patients with significant carotid stenosis (patient controls). The concentrations of ficolin-2 and ficolin-3, initiator molecules of the lectin complement pathway, were measured by ELISA methods. Concentration of C-reactive protein (CRP) was also determined by a particle-enhanced immunturbidimetric assay.
Concentrations of both ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 were significantly (p < 0.001) decreased in both the admission and in the follow-up samples of patients with definite ischemic stroke as compared to healthy subjects. Concentrations of ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 were even higher in patient controls than in healthy subjects, indicating that the decreased levels in sera during the acute phase of stroke are related to the acute ischemic event. Ficolin-3 levels in the follow-up samples inversely correlated with the severity of stroke indicated by NIH scale on admission. In follow-up samples an inverse correlation was observed between ficolin-3 levels and concentration of S100β, an indicator of the size of cerebral infarct. Patients with low ficolin-3 levels and high CRP levels in the follow up samples had a significantly worse outcome (adjusted ORs 5.6 and 3.9, respectively) as measured by the modified Rankin scale compared to patients with higher ficolin-3 and lower CRP concentrations. High CRP concentrations were similarly predictive for worse outcome, and the effects of low ficolin-3 and high CRP were independent.
Our findings indicate that ficolin-mediated lectin pathways of complement activation contribute to the pathogenesis of ischemic stroke and may be additive to complement-independent inflammatory processes.
PMCID: PMC3314397  PMID: 22206485
stroke; ischemic stroke; outcome; complement; lectin pathway; ficolins; ficolin-2; ficolin-3; CRP
10.  Serum level of soluble Hsp70 is associated with vascular calcification 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2010;16(3):257-265.
It has been previously reported that serum levels of 70-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp70) are elevated in peripheral artery disease. The aim of the present study was to examine whether increased serum Hsp70 levels are related to the extent of arterial calcification and standard laboratory parameters of patients with peripheral artery disease, as well as to markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein), atherosclerosis (homocysteine), and calcification (fetuin-a). One hundred eighty chronic atherosclerotic patients with significant carotid stenosis and/or lower extremity vascular disease were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. Systemic atherosclerosis and calcification was assessed by ultrasound (carotid intima–media thickness (IMT), presence of calcification at the abdominal aorta, carotid and femoral bifurcations, and aortic and mitral cardiac valves). Standard serum markers of inflammation, diabetes, renal function, ankle-brachial indexes, and traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis were noted. Serum Hsp70 levels were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Standard laboratory parameters (clinical chemistry), C-reactive protein (CRP), and homocysteine levels were determined by an autoanalyzer using the manufacturer’s kits. Fetuin-a levels were measured by radial immunodiffusion. Patients’ median age was 64 (57–71) years, 69% were men, and 34.5% had diabetes. Serum heat shock protein 70 levels were significantly higher in patients with more severe arterial calcification (p < 0.02) and showed significant positive correlations with serum bilirubin (r = 0.23, p = 0.002) and homocysteine levels (r = 0.18, p = 0.02). Serum Hsp70 did not correlate with body mass index, IMT, CRP, or fetuin-a levels in this cohort. Logistic regression analysis confirmed the association between sHsp70 and calcification score (OR, 2.189; CI, 1.156–4.144, p = 0.016) and this correlation remained significant (OR, 2.264; CI, 1.021–5.020, p = 0.044) after the adjustment for age, sex, eGFR, smoking, CRP, and homocysteine levels. Our data show that serum Hsp70 levels correlate with the severity of atherosclerosis in patients with carotid artery disease and chronic lower limb ischemia. These data support a putative role for plasma Hsp70 in the development of arterial calcification. Nevertheless, further studies are required to investigate the usefulness of circulating Hsp70 level as a marker of atherosclerotic calcification.
PMCID: PMC3077222  PMID: 21046302
Heat shock protein 70; Vascular; Biomarker; Calcification; Peripheral; Atherosclerosis
11.  Serum leptin levels in relation to circulating cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules and angiogenic factors in normal pregnancy and preeclampsia 
In this study, we determined circulating levels of C-reactive protein, several cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules and angiogenic factors along with those of leptin in healthy non-pregnant and pregnant women and preeclamptic patients, and investigated whether serum leptin levels were related to the clinical characteristics and measured laboratory parameters of the study participants.
Sixty preeclamptic patients, 60 healthy pregnant women and 59 healthy non-pregnant women were involved in this case-control study. Levels of leptin and transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 in maternal sera were assessed by ELISA. Serum levels of interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12p40, IL-12p70, IL-18, interferon (IFN)-gamma, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interferon-gamma-inducible protein (IP)-10, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1, intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 were determined by multiplex suspension array. Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations were measured by an autoanalyzer. Serum total soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) and biologically active placental growth factor (PlGF) levels were determined by electrochemiluminescence immunoassay. For statistical analyses, non-parametric methods were applied.
There were significant differences in most of the measured laboratory parameters among the three study groups except for serum IL-1beta and TGF-beta1 levels. Serum leptin levels were significantly higher in preeclamptic patients and healthy pregnant women than in healthy non-pregnant women. Additionally, preeclamptic patients had significantly higher leptin levels as compared to healthy pregnant women. Serum leptin levels were independently associated with BMI in healthy non-pregnant women. In healthy pregnant women, both BMI and serum CRP concentrations showed significant positive linear association with leptin levels. There were significant positive correlations between serum leptin concentrations of healthy pregnant women and systolic blood pressure, as well as serum levels of IP-10, while their serum leptin levels correlated inversely with fetal birth weight. In preeclamptic patients, a significant positive correlation was observed between serum concentrations of leptin and IP-10. Furthermore, elevated serum leptin level and sFlt-1/PlGF ratio had an additive (joint) effect in the risk of preeclampsia, as shown by the substantially higher odds ratios of their combination than of either alone.
Simultaneous measurement of leptin with several inflammatory molecules and angiogenic factors in this study enabled us to investigate their relationship, which can help to understand the role of circulating leptin in normal pregnancy and preeclampsia.
PMCID: PMC3184629  PMID: 21906313
12.  High levels of acute phase proteins and soluble 70 kDa heat shock proteins are independent and additive risk factors for mortality in colorectal cancer 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2010;16(1):49-55.
Recently, we reported that high soluble Hsp70 (sHsp70) level was a significant predictor of mortality during an almost 3-year-long follow-up period in patients with colorectal cancer. This association was the strongest in the group of <70-year-old female patients as well as in those who were in a less advanced stage of the disease at baseline. According to these observations, measurement of the serum level of sHsp70 is a useful, stage-independent prognostic marker in colorectal cancer, especially in patients without distant metastasis. Since many literature data indicated that measurement of C-reactive protein (CRP) and other acute phase proteins (APPs) may also be suitable for predicting the mortality of patients with colorectal cancer, it seemed reasonable to study whether the effect of sHsp70 and other APPs are related or independent. In order to answer this question, we measured the concentrations of CRP as well as of other complement-related APPs (C1 inhibitor, C3, and C9) along with that of the MASP-2 complement component in the sera of 175 patients with colorectal cancer and known levels of sHsp70, which have been used in our previous study. High (above median) levels of CRP, C1 esterase inhibitor (C1-INH), and sHsp70 were found to be independently associated with poor patient survival, whereas no such association was observed with the other proteins tested. According to the adjusted Cox proportional hazards analysis, the additive effect of high sHsp70, CRP, and C1-INH levels on the survival of patients exceeded that of high sHsp70 alone, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 2.83 (1.13–70.9). In some subgroups of patients, such as in females [HR 4.80 (1.07–21.60)] or in ≤70-year-old patients [HR 11.53 (2.78–47.70)], even greater differences were obtained. These findings indicate that the clinical mortality–prediction value of combined measurements of sHsp70, CRP, and C1-INH with inexpensive methods can be very high, especially in specific subgroups of patients with colorectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3024085  PMID: 20730518
Colorectal cancer; Heat shock proteins; HSP70; Soluble HSP70; Surival; CRP; C3; C9; MASP-2; C1-inhbitor; Acute phase proteins; APP
13.  The R1141X Loss-of-Function Mutation of the ABCC6 Gene Is a Strong Genetic Risk Factor for Coronary Artery Disease 
Loss-of-function mutations of ABCC6 cause pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE). This Mendelian disorder is characterized by elastic calcification leading to dermal, ocular, and cardiovascular symptoms like coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke. Although PXE is a recessive disease, microscopic dermal lesions, serum alterations, and higher anecdotal incidence of stroke or CAD among carriers were reported. Here we investigated the association of the c.3421C>T loss-of-function mutation of ABCC6 and CAD and stroke. A previous study demonstrated the association of the c.3421C>T mutation with CAD; however, the frequency found in the control population was unexpectedly high, contradicting, thus, the prevalence of PXE. In the present study, genomic DNA from 749 healthy blood donors was used as control, while 363 and 361 patients suffering from stroke and CAD were investigated, respectively. One carrier was found in our control group, which is in accordance with the reported prevalence of this mutation. No significant association was found between carrier status and stroke in our cohort. In contrast, a significant association of carrier status and CAD was observed (5/361 carriers: p = 0.016, odds ratio [OR] = 10.5). We propose that carriers of ABCC6 loss-of-function mutations benefit from CAD prevention therapy.
PMCID: PMC2935842  PMID: 19929409
14.  Increased circulating heat shock protein 70 levels in pregnant asthmatics 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2009;15(3):295-300.
Asthma is one of the most common diseases complicating pregnancy and represents a risk factor for several maternal and perinatal complications. The natural history of asthma is known to change in pregnancy, but very few data are available in the terms of pathomechanism of this change during gestation. Circulating heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) levels are decreased in healthy pregnancy, which might reflect physiological immunotolerance. The aim of our study was to determine the serum levels of Hsp70 in asthmatic women during gestation. Forty pregnant women with bronchial asthma and 40 healthy pregnant women matched for maternal and gestational age were involved in this case-control study. Serum Hsp70 levels were measured using the ELISA Kit of R&D Systems. Spirometry and oxygen saturation measurements were performed in asthmatic patients. In asthmatic pregnant women, an increase of serum Hsp70 levels was observed compared to healthy pregnant women (median (25–75 percentile): 0.44 ng/ml (0.36–0.53) versus 0.21 ng/ml (0–0.27), p < 0.001). Fetal birth weight of asthmatic mothers was significantly smaller than of healthy controls, but in the normal range (3,230 g (2,690–3,550) versus 3,550 g (3,450–3,775), p < 0.05). A statistically significant negative correlation between maternal age and serum Hsp70 concentrations (Spearman R = −0.48, p = 0.0018) and a significant positive correlation between gestational age and serum Hsp70 levels (Spearman R = 0.83, p < 0.001) were detected in healthy pregnant women. In conclusion, this study proves an elevation of circulating Hsp70 levels during asthmatic pregnancy compared to healthy pregnant women. However, further studies are warranted to determine the role of circulating Hsp70 in the pathogenesis of maternal and perinatal complications of asthma in pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2866990  PMID: 19777374
Asthma; Pregnancy; Heat shock protein; Immunological tolerance
15.  Circulating heat shock protein 70 (HSPA1A) in normal and pathological pregnancies 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2009;15(3):237-247.
Heat shock proteins (Hsps) are ubiquitous and phylogenetically conserved molecules. They are usually considered to be intracellular proteins with molecular chaperone and cytoprotective functions. However, Hsp70 (HSPA1A) is present in the peripheral circulation of healthy nonpregnant and pregnant individuals. In normal pregnancy, circulating Hsp70 levels are decreased, and show a positive correlation with gestational age and an inverse correlation with maternal age. The capacity of extracellular Hsp70 to elicit innate and adaptive proinflammatory (Th1-type) immune responses might be harmful in pregnancy and may lead to the maternal immune rejection of the fetus. Decreased circulating Hsp70 level, consequently, may promote the maintenance of immunological tolerance to the fetus. Indeed, elevated circulating Hsp70 concentrations are associated with an increased risk of several pregnancy complications. Elevated Hsp70 levels in healthy pregnant women at term might also have an effect on the onset of labor. In preeclampsia, serum Hsp70 levels are increased, and reflect systemic inflammation, oxidative stress and hepatocellular injury. Furthermore, serum Hsp70 levels are significantly higher in patients with the syndrome of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count (HELLP syndrome) than in severely preeclamptic patients without HELLP syndrome. In HELLP syndrome, elevated serum Hsp70 level indicates tissue damage (hemolysis and hepatocellular injury) and disease severity. Increased circulating Hsp70 level may not only be a marker of these conditions, but might also play a role in their pathogenesis. Extracellular Hsp70 derived from stressed and damaged, necrotic cells can elicit a proinflammatory (Th1) immune response, which might be involved in the development of the maternal systemic inflammatory response and resultant endothelial damage in preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Circulating Hsp70 level is also elevated in preterm delivery high-risk patients, particularly in treatment-resistant cases, and may be a useful marker for evaluating the curative effects of treatment for preterm delivery. In addition, increased circulating Hsp70 levels observed in asthmatic pregnant patients might play a connecting role in the pathomechanism of asthmatic inflammation and obstetrical/perinatal complications. Nevertheless, a prospective study should be undertaken to determine whether elevated serum Hsp70 level precedes the development of any pregnancy complication, and thus can help to predict adverse maternal or perinatal pregnancy outcome. Moreover, the role of circulating Hsp70 in normal and pathological pregnancies is not fully known, and further studies are warranted to address this important issue.
PMCID: PMC2866993  PMID: 19821156
Heat shock protein 70; HSPA1A; Pregnancy; Preeclampsia; HELLP syndrome; Preterm delivery; Asthma
16.  Serum level of soluble 70-kD heat shock protein is associated with high mortality in patients with colorectal cancer without distant metastasis 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2009;15(2):143-151.
Many findings indicate that measuring the serum concentration of soluble 70-kD heat shock protein (soluble HSP70) may provide important information in cardiovascular, inflammatory, and pregnancy-related diseases; however, only scarce data are available in cancer. Therefore, using a commercial ELISA kit, we measured soluble HSP70 concentration in the sera of 179 patients with colorectal cancer. We investigated the relationship between soluble HSP70 concentration and mortality, during 33.0 (24.4–44.0) months long follow-up. High (>1.65 pg/ml, median concentration) soluble HSP70 level was a significant (hazard ratio: 1.88 (1.20–2.96, p = 0.005) predictor of mortality during the follow-up period. When we compared the soluble HSP70 levels in patients with non-resected primary tumors as compared to those who were recruited into the study 4–6 weeks after the tumor resection they were found to be significantly (p = 0.020) higher in the former group. Since the patients with non-resected primary tumors had also distant metastasis and died early, we limited the further analysis to 142 patients with no distant metastasis at the beginning of the follow-up. This association remained significant even after multiple Cox-regression analysis had been performed to adjust the data for age and sex (p = 0.028); age, sex, and TNM-T stage (p = 0.041); age, sex, and TNM-N stage (p = 0.021); age, sex, and histological grade (p = 0.023); or age, sex, and tumor localization (p = 0.029). Further analysis showed that the significant association between high HSP70 levels and poor survival is in the strongest in the group of <70-year-old female patients (HR: 5.52 (2.02-15.15), p = 0.001), as well as in those who were in a less advanced stage of the disease at baseline. These novel findings indicate that the serum level of soluble HSP70 might prove a useful, stage-independent prognostic marker in colorectal cancer without distant metastasis.
PMCID: PMC2866989  PMID: 19578980
Colorectal cancer; Mortality; Heat shock proteins; HSP70; Predictive marker
17.  4G/5G polymorphism of PAI-1 gene is associated with multiple organ dysfunction and septic shock in pneumonia induced severe sepsis: prospective, observational, genetic study 
Critical Care  2010;14(2):R79.
Activation of inflammation and coagulation are closely related and mutually interdependent in sepsis. The acute-phase protein, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is a key element in the inhibition of fibrinolysis. Elevated levels of PAI-1 have been related to worse outcome in pneumonia. We aimed to evaluate the effect of functionally relevant 4G/5G polymorphism of PAI-1 gene in pneumonia induced sepsis.
We enrolled 208 Caucasian patients with severe sepsis due to pneumonia admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Patients were followed up until ICU discharge or death. Clinical data were collected prospectively and the PAI-1 4G/5G polymorphism was genotyped by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism technique. Patients were stratified according to the occurrence of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, septic shock or death.
We found that carriers of the PAI-1 4G/4G and 4G/5G genotypes have a 2.74-fold higher risk for multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (odds ratio [OR] 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.335 - 5.604; p = 0.006) and a 2.57-fold higher risk for septic shock (OR 95%CI = 1.180 - 5.615; p = 0.018) than 5G/5G carriers. The multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for independent predictors, such as age, nosocomial pneumonia and positive microbiological culture also supported that carriers of the 4G allele have a higher prevalence of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.957; 95%CI = 1.306 -6.698; p = 0.009) and septic shock (aOR = 2.603; 95%CI = 1.137 - 5.959; p = 0.024). However, genotype and allele analyses have not shown any significant difference regarding mortality in models non-adjusted or adjusted for acute physiology and chronic health evaluation (APACHE) II. Patients bearing the 4G allele had higher disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) score at admission (p = 0.007) than 5G/5G carriers. Moreover, in 4G allele carriers the length of ICU stay of non-survivors was longer (p = 0.091), fewer ventilation-free days (p = 0.008) and days without septic shock (p = 0.095) were observed during the first 28 days.
In Caucasian patients with severe sepsis due to pneumonia carriers of the 4G allele of PAI-1 polymorphism have higher risk for multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and septic shock and in agreement they showed more fulminant disease progression based on continuous clinical variables.
PMCID: PMC2887202  PMID: 20429897
18.  Circulating anti-heat-shock-protein antibodies in normal pregnancy and preeclampsia 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2009;14(5):491-498.
It has been previously reported that circulating anti-heat-shock-protein (Hsp) antibody levels are elevated in cardiovascular disorders. The aim of the present study was to determine circulating antihuman Hsp60, antimycobacterial Hsp65, and antihuman Hsp70 antibody levels in healthy pregnant women and preeclamptic patients and to investigate their relationship to the clinical characteristics of the study subjects, as well as to the markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein (CRP)), endothelial activation (von Willebrand factor antigen), or endothelial injury (fibronectin), oxidative stress (malondialdehyde) and to serum Hsp70 levels. Ninety-three preeclamptic patients and 127 normotensive healthy pregnant women were involved in this case control study. Serum anti-Hsp60, anti-Hsp65, anti-Hsp70, and Hsp70 levels were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Serum CRP levels were determined by an autoanalyzer using the manufacturer’s kit. Plasma von Willebrand factor antigen levels were quantified by ELISA, while plasma fibronectin concentration by nephelometry. Plasma malondialdehyde levels were measured by the thiobarbituric-acid-based colorimetric assay. For statistical analyses, nonparametric methods were applied. Anti-Hsp60, anti-Hsp65, and anti-Hsp70 antibodies were detected in all of our serum samples. There were no significant differences in serum anti-Hsp60, anti-Hsp65, and anti-Hsp70 antibody levels between the control and preeclamptic groups. Serum levels of Hsp70 and CRP, as well as plasma levels of VWF antigen, fibronectin, and malondialdehyde, were significantly higher in preeclamptic patients than in normotensive healthy pregnant women. Serum anti-Hsp60 antibody levels showed significant correlations with serum anti-Hsp65 antibody levels both in the control and the preeclamptic groups (Spearman R = 0.55 and 0.59; p < 0.001, respectively). However, no other relationship was found between clinical features (maternal age, smoking status, parity, body mass index, gestational age at blood draw, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, gestational age at delivery, and fetal birth weight) and measured laboratory parameters of the study subjects and serum anti-Hsp antibody levels in either study group. In conclusion, anti-Hsp60 and anti-Hsp70 antibodies as naturally occurring autoantibodies are present in the peripheral circulation of healthy pregnant women. Nevertheless, humoral immunity against heat shock proteins was not associated with preeclampsia. Further studies are warranted to explore the role of heat shock proteins and immune reactivity to them in the immunobiology of normal pregnancy and preeclampsia.
PMCID: PMC2728282  PMID: 19205928
Antibody; Anti-Hsp; Heat shock protein; Preeclampsia; Pregnancy
19.  Relationship of circulating cell-free DNA levels to cell-free fetal DNA levels, clinical characteristics and laboratory parameters in preeclampsia 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:120.
The aim of our study was to examine whether increased circulating total cell-free DNA levels are related to the clinical characteristics and standard laboratory parameters of preeclamptic patients, to markers of inflammation, endothelial activation or injury, oxidative stress and to cell-free fetal DNA levels.
Circulating total cell-free DNA was measured by real-time quantitative PCR in plasma samples obtained from 67 preeclamptic and 70 normotensive pregnant women. Standard laboratory parameters, C-reactive protein, plasma von Willebrand factor antigen, plasma fibronectin, plasma malondialdehyde and cell-free fetal DNA levels were also determined.
Results and Conclusion
Circulating total cell-free and fetal deoxyribonucleic acid levels were significantly elevated in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia (median: 11.395 vs. 32.460 and 0.001 vs. 0.086 pg/μl; P < .001). The quantity of plasma total cell-free DNA did not correlate with most of the laboratory parameters, except for serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase activities (correlation coefficient: 0.31; P = 0.012 and 0.46; P < .001). There was no correlation with clinical characteristics, including body mass index. The releases of both free fetal and total cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid were found to be affected in preeclampsia. Hepatocellular necrosis seems to be responsible - at least partly - for increased circulating total DNA levels in preeclampsia, as suggested by the significant correlation with liver enzyme activities.
PMCID: PMC2789064  PMID: 19930583
20.  Increased serum heat-shock protein 70 levels reflect systemic inflammation, oxidative stress and hepatocellular injury in preeclampsia 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2008;14(2):151-159.
It has been previously reported that serum levels of 70-kDa heat-shock protein (Hsp70) are elevated in preeclampsia. The aim of the present study was to examine whether increased serum Hsp70 levels are related to clinical characteristics and standard laboratory parameters of preeclamptic patients, as well as to markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein), endothelial activation (von Willebrand factor antigen) or endothelial injury (fibronectin), trophoblast debris (cell-free fetal DNA) and oxidative stress (malondialdehyde). Sixty-seven preeclamptic patients and 70 normotensive, healthy pregnant women were involved in this case-control study. Serum Hsp70 levels were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Standard laboratory parameters (clinical chemistry) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were determined by an autoanalyzer using the manufacturer’s kits. Plasma von Willebrand factor antigen (VWF:Ag) levels were quantified by ELISA, and plasma fibronectin concentration by nephelometry. The amount of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma was determined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis of the sex-determining region Y gene. Plasma malondialdehyde levels were measured by the thiobarbituric acid-based colorimetric assay. Serum Hsp70 levels were increased in preeclampsia. Furthermore, serum levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, bilirubin and CRP, serum alanine aminotransferase and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activities, as well as plasma levels of VWF:Ag, fibronectin, cell-free fetal DNA and malondialdehyde were also significantly higher in preeclamptic patients than in normotensive, healthy pregnant women. In preeclamptic patients, serum Hsp70 levels showed significant correlations with serum CRP levels (Spearman R = 0.32, p = 0.010), serum aspartate aminotransferase (R = 0.32, p = 0.008) and LDH activities (R = 0.50, p < 0.001), as well as with plasma malondialdehyde levels (R = 0.25, p = 0.043). However, there was no other relationship between serum Hsp70 levels and clinical characteristics (age, parity, body mass index, blood pressure, gestational age, fetal birth weight) and laboratory parameters of preeclamptic patients, including markers of endothelial activation or injury and trophoblast debris. In conclusion, increased serum Hsp70 levels seem to reflect systemic inflammation, oxidative stress and hepatocellular injury in preeclampsia. Nevertheless, further studies are required to determine whether circulating Hsp70 plays a causative role in the pathogenesis of the disease.
PMCID: PMC2727991  PMID: 18686014
Biomarker; Heat-shock protein 70; Hepatocellular injury; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; Preeclampsia
21.  Association of Smoking Behavior with an Odorant Receptor Allele Telomeric to the Human Major Histocompatibility Complex 
Genetic testing  2008;12(4):481-486.
Smoking behavior has been associated in two independent European cohorts with the most common Caucasian human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype (A1-B8-DR3). We aimed to test whether polymorphic members of the two odorant receptor (OR) clusters within the extended HLA complex might be responsible for the observed association, by genotyping a cohort of Hungarian women in which the mentioned association had been found. One hundred and eighty HLA haplotypes from Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain families were analyzed in silico to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within OR genes that are in linkage disequilibrium with the A1-B8-DR3 haplotype, as well as with two other haplotypes indirectly linked to smoking behavior. A nonsynonymous SNP within the OR12D3 gene (rs3749971T) was found to be linked to the A1-B8-DR3 haplotype. This polymorphism leads to a 97Thr → Ile exchange that affects a putative ligand binding region of the OR12D3 protein. Smoking was found to be associated in the Hungarian cohort with the rs3749971T allele (p = 1.05×10−2), with higher significance than with A1-B8-DR3 (p = 2.38×10−2). Our results link smoking to a distinct OR allele, and demonstrate that the rs3749971T polymorphism is associated with the HLA haplotype-dependent differential recognition of cigarette smoke components, at least among Caucasian women.
PMCID: PMC2635552  PMID: 18939942
22.  Interaction of serum 70-kDa heat shock protein levels and HspA1B (+1267) gene polymorphism with disease severity in patients with chronic heart failure 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2008;13(2):199-206.
Circulating heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is present in the circulation of healthy individuals and in patients with various disorders, including chronic heart failure (CHF). However, the source and routes of release of Hsp70 is only partially characterised in clinical samples.
The purpose of this study was to study the clinical and biological correlates of Hsp70 in a CHF population and, for the first time, to investigate the association of HspA1B (also known as Hsp70-2) +1267 alleles with serum Hsp70 levels.
A total of 167 patients (123 men, 44 women) with <45% left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) were enrolled; serum Hsp70 level was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and HspA1B +1267 polymorphism by polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism.
Increased Hsp70 levels were present in patients with severe CHF (NYHA III–IV) as compared to the group of NYHA I–II (p = 0.003). Hsp70 levels correlated with LVEF, NT-proBNP, serum bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, γGT (p < 0.05) concentrations in patients with severe CHF, although no correlation was observed between Hsp70 and CRP, TNF-α, or IL-6. HspA1B allele G was associated with higher Hsp70 levels (p = 0.001) in patients in NYHA IV class as compared to carriers of allele A.
Serum Hsp70 levels were associated with disease severity in heart failure patients. An interaction with the presence of HspA1B +1267 allele G was observed for Hsp70 concentrations. Hsp70 correlates with markers of heart function and hepatic injury, but not with signs of inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2673893  PMID: 18759004
Heart failure; Inflammation; Liver; Stress proteins
23.  Antibodies against C-Reactive Protein Cross-React with 60-Kilodalton Heat Shock Proteins▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2007;14(4):335-341.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute-phase reactant frequently used in histochemistry as a marker of ongoing inflammation. Furthermore, CRP is a powerful biomarker for the prediction of coronary artery disease risk. Heat-shock protein 60 (Hsp60) and CRP are complement-activating molecules, and the effect of their interactions on the regulation of complement activation was studied. However, during the first experiments, we learned that polyclonal anti-CRP antibodies cross-react with Hsp60. Therefore, the aim of our present study was to analyze the cross-reactivity of anti-CRP antibodies (Ab) with Hsp60 in solid-phase enzyme immune assays, in epitope studies using a series of overlapping synthetic peptides, and in Ouchterlony analyses. We found that three different commercial rabbit polyclonal antibodies and two monoclonal (9C9 and CRP-8) anti-CRP antibodies specifically recognize recombinant human Hsp60 and recombinant Mycobacterium tuberculosis Hsp65, respectively. Hsp60 was found to inhibit the binding of anti-CRP polyclonal Ab to Hsp60. Six epitope regions of Hsp60 were recognized by the anti-CRP antibodies, and one region (amino acids [AA] 218 to 232) was recognized by monoclonal antibodies CRP-8 and 9C9. This epitope region of Hsp60 displays 26.6% amino acid identity to CRP AA region 77 to 90. These data suggest that the B-cell epitopes shared between CRP and Hsp60 give rise to a true mimicry-based cross-reaction and the induction of cross-reactive antibodies. Our study underlines the importance of thorough study design and careful interpretation of results while using polyclonal anti-CRP antibodies for histochemistry, especially at low dilutions. Furthermore, analytical interference with Hsp60 in CRP assays should also be tested.
PMCID: PMC1865608  PMID: 17301219
24.  Human serum fetuin A/α2HS-glycoprotein level is associated with long-term survival in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis, comparison with the Child-Pugh and MELD scores 
BMC Gastroenterology  2007;7:15.
Serum concentration of fetuin A/α2HS-glycoprotein (AHSG) is a good indicator of liver cell function and 1-month mortality in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. We intended to determine whether decreased serum AHSG levels are associated with long-term mortality and whether the follow-up of serum AHSG levels can add to the predictive value of the Child-Pugh (CP) and MELD scores.
We determined serum AHSG concentrations in 89 patients by radial immunodiffusion. Samples were taken at the time of enrolment and in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, and the 12th month thereafter.
Forty-one patients died during the 1-year follow-up period, 37 of them had liver failure. Data of these patients were analysed further. Deceased patients had lower baseline AHSG levels than the 52 patients who survived (293 ± 77 vs. 490 ± 106 μg/ml, mean ± SD, p < 0.001). Of all laboratory parameters serum AHSG level, CP and MELD scores showed the greatest difference between deceased and survived patients. The cutoff AHSG level 365 μg/ml could differentiate between deceased and survived patients (AUC: 0.937 ± 0.025, p < 0.001, sensitivity: 0.865, specificity: 0.942) better than the MELD score of 20 (AUC: 0.739 ± 0.052, p < 0.001, sensitivity: 0.595, specificity: 0.729). Initial AHSG concentrations < 365 μg/ml were associated with high mortality rate (91.4%, relative risk: 9.874, 95% C.I.: 4.258–22.898, p < 0.001) compared to those with ≥ 365 μg/ml (9.3%). Fourteen out of these 37 fatalities occurred during the first month of observation. During months 1–12 low AHSG concentration proved to be a strong indicator of mortality (relative risk: 9.257, 95% C.I.: 3.945–21.724, p < 0.001). Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that decrease of serum AHSG concentration was independent of all variables that differed between survived and deceased patients during univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis showed that correlation of low serum AHSG levels with mortality was stronger than that with CP and MELD scores. Patients with AHSG < 365 μg/ml had significantly shortened survival both in groups with MELD < 20 and MELD ≥ 20 (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0014, respectively).
Serum AHSG concentration is a reliable and sensitive indicator of 1-year mortality in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis that compares well to the predictive value of CP score and may further improve that of MELD score.
PMCID: PMC1852564  PMID: 17394649
25.  Heat shock protein 70 is a potent activator of the human complement system 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2002;7(1):17-22.
According to new hypotheses, extracellular heat shock proteins (Hsps) may represent an ancestral danger signal of cellular death or lysis-activating innate immunity. Recent studies demonstrating a dual role for Hsp70 as both a chaperone and cytokine, inducing potent proinflammatory response in human monocytes, provided support for the hypothesis that extracellular Hsp is a messenger of stress. Our previous work focused on the complement-activating ability of human Hsp60. We demonstrated that Hsp60 complexed with specific antibodies induces a strong classical pathway (CP) activation. Here, we show that another chaperone molecule also possesses complement-activating ability. Solid-phase enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was applied for the experiments. Human Hsp70 activated the CP independently of antibodies. No complement activation was found in the case of human Hsp90. Our data further support the hypothesis that chaperones may messenger stress to other cells. Complement-like molecules and primitive immune cells appeared together early in evolution. A joint action of these arms of innate immunity in response to free chaperones, the most abundant cellular proteins displaying a stress signal, may further strengthen the effectiveness of immune reactions.
PMCID: PMC514798  PMID: 11892984

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