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The current study focused on blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and neurovascular damage induced by engineered nanomaterials. Exposure to nanoalumina, but not to nanocarbon, induced a dose-dependent mitochondrial potential collapse, increased autophagy of brain endothelial cells, and decreased expression of tight junction proteins, occludin and claudin-5. Inhibition of autophagy by pretreatment with Wortmannin attenuated the effects of nanoalumina on decreased claudin-5 expression; however, it did not affect the disruption of occludin. These finding were confirmed in mice by administration of nanoalumina into the cerebral circulation. Systemic treatment with nanoalumina elevated autophagy-related genes and autophagic activity in the brain, decreased tight junction protein expression, and elevated BBB permeability. Finally, exposure to nanoalumina, but not to nanocarbon, increased brain infarct volume in mice subjected to a focal ischemic stroke model. Overall, our study reveals that autophagy constitutes an important mechanism involved in nanoalumina-induced neurovascular toxicity in the central nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3482418  PMID: 22687898
nanoalumina; autophagy; blood-brain barrier; central nervous system
2.  Correction: TLR4 Signaling Is Involved in Brain Vascular Toxicity of PCB153 Bound to Nanoparticles 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/e34adc2a-f73a-4055-8519-fa2deb2e852f.
PMCID: PMC3887117
3.  Lipopolysaccharide Potentiates Polychlorinated Biphenyl-induced Disruption of the Blood–Brain Barrier via TLR4/IRF-3 Signaling 
Toxicology  2012;302(2-3):212-220.
Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is associated with numerous adverse health effects. Although the main route of exposure to PCBs is through the gastrointestinal tract, little is known about the contribution of the gut to the health effects of PCBs. We hypothesize that PCBs can disrupt intestinal integrity, causing lipopolysaccharide (LPS) translocation into the bloodstream and potentiation of the systemic toxicity of PCBs. C57BL/6 mice were exposed to individual PCB congeners by oral gavage, followed by the assessment of small intestine morphology and plasma levels of proinflammatory mediators. In addition, mice and human brain endothelial cells were exposed to PCB118 in the presence or absence of LPS to evaluate the contribution of LPS to PCB-induced toxicity at the blood–brain barrier (BBB) level. Oral administration of PCB153, PCB118, or PCB126 disrupted intestinal morphology and increased plasma levels of LPS and proinflammatory cytokines. Direct injection of LPS and PCB118 into the cerebral microvasculature resulted in synergistic disruption of BBB integrity and decreased expression of tight junction proteins in brain microvessels. In vitro experiments confirmed these effects and indicated that stimulation of the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathway can be responsible for these effects via activation of interferon regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3). These results indicate that LPS may be a contributing factor in PCB-induced dysfunction of the brain endothelium via stimulation of the TLR4/IRF-3 pathway.
PMCID: PMC3511608  PMID: 22906770
blood–brain barrier; inflammation; interferon regulatory factor-3; polychlorinated biphenyls; tight junctions; Toll-like receptor 4
Environmental polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are frequently bound onto nanoparticles (NPs). However, the toxicity and health effects of PCBs assembled onto nanoparticles are unknown. The aim of this study was to study the hypothesis that binding PCBs to silica NPs potentiates PCB-induced cerebrovascular toxicity and brain damage in an experimental stroke model. Mice (C57BL/6, males, 12-week-old) were exposed to PCB153 bound to NPs (PCB153-NPs), PCB153, or vehicle. PCB153 was administered in the amount of 5 ng/g body weight. A group of treated animals was subjected to a 40 min ischemia, followed by a 24 h reperfusion. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, brain infarct volume, expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins, and inflammatory mediators were assessed. As compared to controls, a 24 h exposure to PCB153-NPs injected into cerebral vasculature resulted in significant elevation of the BBB permeability, disruption of TJ protein expression, increased proinflammatory responses, and enhanced monocyte transmigration in mouse brain capillaries. Importantly, exposure to PCB153-NPs increased stroke volume and potentiated brain damage in mice subjected to ischemia/reperfusion. A long-term (30 days) oral exposure to PCB153-NPs resulted in a higher PCB153 content in the abdominal adipose tissue and amplified adhesion of leukocytes to the brain endothelium as compared to treatment with PCB153 alone. This study provides the first evidence that binding to NPs increases cerebrovascular toxicity of environmental toxicants, such as PCB153.
PMCID: PMC3518694  PMID: 23081707
blood-brain barrier; polychlorinated biphenyls; silica nanoparticles; stroke; tight junctions
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection of the central nervous system (CNS) affects cross-talk between the individual cell types of the neurovascular unit, which then contributes to disruption of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and the development of neurological dysfunctions. While the toxicity of HIV-1 on neurons, astrocytes, and brain endothelial cells has been widely studied, there are no reports addressing the influence of HIV-1 on pericytes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate whether pericytes can be infected with HIV-1 and how such an infection affects the barrier function of brain endothelial cells. Our results indicate that human brain pericytes express the major HIV-1 receptor CD4 and coreceptors CXCR4 and CCR5. We also determined that HIV-1 can replicate, though at a low level, in human brain pericytes as detected by HIV-1 p24 ELISA. Pericytes were susceptible to infection with both the X4-tropic NL4-3 and R5-tropic JR-CSF HIV-1 strains. Moreover, HIV-1 infection of pericytes resulted in compromised integrity of an in vitro model of the BBB. These findings indicate that human brain pericytes can be infected with HIV-1 and suggest that infected pericytes are involved in the progression of HIV-1-induced CNS damage.
PMCID: PMC3524391  PMID: 22947176
HIV-1; pericytes; blood–brain barrier; neurovascular unit
IUBMB life  2012;65(1):43-49.
In recent years we face an increase in the aging of the HIV-1-infected population, which is not only due to effective antiretroviral therapy but also to new infections among older people. Even with the use of the antiretroviral therapy, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders represent an increasing problem as the HIV-1-infected population ages. Increased amyloid beta (Aβ) deposition is characteristic of HIV-1-infected brains, and it has been hypothesized that brain vascular dysfunction contributes to this phenomenon, with a critical role suggested for the blood-brain barrier in brain Aβ homeostasis. This review will describe the mechanisms by which the BBB may contribute to brain Aβ accumulation, and our findings in the context of HIV-1 infection will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC3804005  PMID: 23225609
HIV-1; HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders; blood-brain barrier; brain endothelial cell; amyloid beta
7.  Methamphetamine-induced Occludin Endocytosis Is Mediated by the Arp2/3 Complex-regulated Actin Rearrangement*♦ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(46):33324-33334.
Background: Methamphetamine is a drug of abuse that disrupts the blood-brain barrier.
Results: Blocking actin nucleation protects against methamphetamine-induced occludin internalization and disruption of blood-brain barrier integrity.
Conclusion: Methamphetamine-induced transendothelial breaches may result from actin-mediated redistribution of occludin.
Significance: Actin cytoskeletal dynamics modulates redistribution of occludin and blood-brain barrier integrity.
Methamphetamine (METH) is a drug of abuse with neurotoxic and neuroinflammatory effects, which include disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and alterations of tight junction protein expression. This study focused on the actin cytoskeletal rearrangement as a modulator of METH-induced redistribution of tight junction protein occludin in brain endothelial cells. Exposure to METH resulted in a shift of occludin localization from plasma membranes to endosomes. These changes were accompanied by activation of the actin-related protein 2/3 (Arp2/3) complex, which stimulates actin polymerization by promoting actin nucleation. In addition, METH-induced coronin-1b phosphorylation diminishes the inhibitory effect of nonphosphorylated coronin-1b on actin nucleation. Blocking actin nucleation with CK-666, a specific inhibitor of the Arp2/3 complex, protected against METH-induced occludin internalization and increased transendothelial monocyte migration. Importantly, treatment with CK-666 attenuated a decrease in occludin levels in brain microvessels and BBB permeability of METH-injected mice. These findings indicate that actin cytoskeletal dynamics is detrimental to METH-induced BBB dysfunction by increasing internalization of occludin.
PMCID: PMC3829179  PMID: 24081143
Actin; Brain; Cytoskeleton; Endocytosis; Endothelium; Tight Junctions; Methamphetamine; Arp2/3 Complex; Actin; Nucleation; Blood-Brain Barrier; Occludin; Endocytosis; Endo
8.  HIV-1 Tat-induced cerebrovascular toxicity is enhanced in mice with amyloid deposits 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(8):1579-1590.
HIV-1-infected brains are characterized by elevated depositions of amyloid beta (Aβ); however, the interactions between Aβ and HIV-1 are poorly understood. In the present study, we administered specific HIV-1 protein Tat into the cerebral vasculature of 50–52 week old double transgenic (B6C3-Tg) mice that express a chimeric mouse/human amyloid precursor protein (Mo/HuAPP695swe) and a mutant human presenilin 1 (PS1-dE9) and are characterized by increased Aβ depositions in the brain. Exposure to Tat increased permeability across cerebral capillaries, enhanced disruption of zonula occludens (ZO)-1 tight junction protein, and elevated brain expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in B6C3-Tg mice as compared to age-matched littermate controls. These changes were associated with increased leukocyte attachment and their transcapillary migration. The majority of Tat-induced effects were attenuated by treatment with a specific Rho inhibitor, hydroxyfasudil. The results of animal experiments were reproduced in cultured brain endothelial cells exposed to Aβ and/or Tat. The present data indicate that increased brain levels of Aβ can enhance vascular toxicity and proinflammatory responses induced by HIV-1 protein Tat.
PMCID: PMC3206197  PMID: 21764480
HIV-1 infection; amyloid; HIV-1; aging; blood-brain barrier; tight junction proteins; inflammation
9.  Voluntary exercise protects against methamphetamine-induced oxidative stress in brain microvasculature and disruption of the blood–brain barrier 
There is no effective therapeutic intervention developed targeting cerebrovascular toxicity of drugs of abuse, including methamphetamine (METH). We hypothesize that exercise protects against METH-induced disruption of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) by enhancing the antioxidant capacity of cerebral microvessels and modulating caveolae-associated signaling. Mice were subjected to voluntary wheel running for 5 weeks resembling the voluntary pattern of human exercise, followed by injection with METH (10 mg/kg). The frequency, duration, and intensity of each running session were monitored for each mouse via a direct data link to a computer and the running data are analyzed by Clock lab™ Analysis software. Controls included mice sedentary that did not have access to running wheels and/or injections with saline.
METH induced oxidative stress in brain microvessels, resulting in up regulation of caveolae-associated NAD(P)H oxidase subunits, and phosphorylation of mitochondrial protein 66Shc. Treatment with METH disrupted also the expression and colocalization of tight junction proteins. Importantly, exercise markedly attenuated these effects and protected against METH-induced disruption of the BBB integrity.
The obtained results indicate that exercise is an important modifiable behavioral factor that can protect against METH-induced cerebrovascular toxicity. These findings may provide new strategies in preventing the toxicity of drug of abuse.
PMCID: PMC3698182  PMID: 23799892
Methamphetamine; Drug abuse; Exercise; Blood-brain; Oxidative stress; Tight junctions
10.  EGCG protects endothelial cells against PCB 126-induced inflammation through inhibition of AhR and induction of Nrf2-regulated genes 
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology  2012;261(2):181-188.
Tea flavonoids such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) protect against vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis via their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. Persistent and widespread environmental pollutants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), can induce oxidative stress and inflammation in vascular endothelial cells. Even though PCBs are no longer produced, they are still detected in human blood and tissues and thus considered a risk for vascular dysfunction. We hypothesized that EGCG can protect endothelial cells against PCB-induced cell damage via its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. To test this hypothesis, primary vascular endothelial cells were pretreated with EGCG, followed by exposure to the coplanar PCB 126. Exposure to PCB 126 significantly increased cytochrome P450 1A1 (Cyp1A1) mRNA and protein expression and superoxide production, events which were significantly attenuated following pretreatment with EGCG. Similarly, EGCG also reduced DNA binding of NF-κB and downstream expression of inflammatory markers such as monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and vascular cell adhesion protein-1 (VCAM-1) after PCB exposure. Furthermore, EGCG decreased endogenous or base-line levels of Cyp1A1, MCP-1 and VCAM-1 in endothelial cells. Most of all, treatment of EGCG upregulated expression of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-controlled antioxidant genes, including glutathione S transferase (GST) and NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, silencing of Nrf2 increased Cyp1A1, MCP-1 and VCAM-1 and decreased of GST and NQO1 expression, respectively. These data suggest that EGCG can inhibit AhR regulated genes and induce Nrf2-regulated antioxidant enzymes, thus providing protection against PCB-induced inflammatory responses in endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3358429  PMID: 22521609
PCB; EGCG; polyphenol; endothelial cell; inflammation; atherosclerosis
11.  Exercise Attenuates PCB-Induced Changes in the Mouse Gut Microbiome 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;121(6):725-730.
Background: The gut microbiome, a dynamic bacterial community that interacts with the host, is integral to human health because it regulates energy metabolism and immune functions. The gut microbiome may also play a role in risks from environmental toxicants.
Objectives: We investigated the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and exercise on the composition and structure of the gut microbiome in mice.
Methods: After mice exercised voluntarily for 5 weeks, they were treated by oral gavage with a mixture of environmentally relevant PCB congeners (PCB153, PCB138, and PCB180; total PCB dose, 150 µmol/kg) for 2 days. We then assessed the microbiome by determination of 16S rRNA using microarray analysis.
Results: Oral exposure to PCBs significantly altered the abundance of the gut microbiome in mice primarily by decreasing the levels of Proteobacteria. The activity level of the mice correlated with a substantial shift in abundance, biodiversity, and composition of the microbiome. Importantly, exercise attenuated PCB-induced changes in the gut microbiome.
Conclusions: Our results show that oral exposure to PCBs can induce substantial changes in the gut microbiome, which may then influence their systemic toxicity. These changes can be attenuated by behavioral factors, such as voluntary exercise.
PMCID: PMC3672930  PMID: 23632211
environmental toxicants; exercise; gut microbiome; polychlorinated biphenyls; PhyloChip
12.  TLR4 Signaling Is Involved in Brain Vascular Toxicity of PCB153 Bound to Nanoparticles 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63159.
PCBs bind to environmental particles; however, potential toxicity exhibited by such complexes is not well understood. The aim of the present study is to study the hypothesis that assembling onto nanoparticles can influence the PCB153-induced brain endothelial toxicity via interaction with the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). To address this hypothesis, TLR4-deficient and wild type control mice (males, 10 week old) were exposed to PCB153 (5 ng/g body weight) bound to chemically inert silica nanoparticles (PCB153-NPs), PCB153 alone, silica nanoparticles (NPs; diameter, 20 nm), or vehicle. Selected animals were also subjected to 40 min ischemia, followed by a 24 h reperfusion. As compared to exposure to PCB153 alone, treatment with PCB153-NP potentiated the brain infarct volume in control mice. Importantly, this effect was attenuated in TLR4-deficient mice. Similarly, PCB153-NP-induced proinflammatory responses and disruption of tight junction integrity were less pronounced in TLR4-deficient mice as compared to control animals. Additional in vitro experiments revealed that TLR4 mediates toxicity of PCB153-NP via recruitment of tumor necrosis factor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6). The results of current study indicate that binding to seemingly inert nanoparticles increase cerebrovascular toxicity of PCBs and suggest that targeting the TLR4/TRAF6 signaling may protect against these effects.
PMCID: PMC3653967  PMID: 23690990
Amyloid beta (Aβ) levels are increased in HIV-1 infected brains due to not yet fully understood mechanisms. In the present study, we investigate the role of lipid rafts, functional caveolae, and caveolae-associated signaling in HIV-1-induced Aβ accumulation in HBMEC. Both silencing of caveolin-1 (cav-1) and disruption of lipid rafts by pretreatment with beta-methyl-cyclodextrin (MCD) protected against Aβ accumulation in HBMEC. Exposure to HIV-1 and Aβ activated caveolae-associated Ras and p38. While inhibition of Ras by farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) effectively protected against HIV-1-induced accumulation of Aβ, blocking of p38 did not have such an effect. We also evaluated the role of caveolae in HIV-1-induced upregulation of the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), which regulates Aβ transfer from the blood stream into the central nervous system. HIV-1-induced RAGE expression was prevented by infecting HBMEC with cav-1 specific shRNA lentiviral particles or by pretreatment of cells with FTS. Overall, the present results indicate that Aβ accumulation in HBMEC is lipid raft and caveolae dependent and involves the caveolae-associated Ras signaling.
PMCID: PMC3348457  PMID: 22490665
HIV-1; blood-brain barrier; amyloid beta
14.  Proinflammatory Adhesion Molecules Facilitate Polychlorinated Biphenyl–Mediated Enhancement of Brain Metastasis Formation 
Toxicological Sciences  2012;126(2):362-371.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmental toxicants that cause vascular inflammation and facilitate the development of brain metastases. The crucial event in metastasis formation is adhesion of blood-borne tumor cells to the vascular endothelium, followed by their transcapillary migration. The aim of the present study was to examine the mechanisms of PCB118-induced brain metastasis formation at the blood-brain barrier level with the focus on tumor cell adhesion to the brain endothelium. PCB118 was administered orally to wild-type or intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)–deficient mice, followed by an injection of Lewis lung carcinoma cells into the carotid artery. Treatment with PCB118 resulted in enhanced development of brain metastases. Injection of tumor cells induced overexpression of ICAM-1 and vascular endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in brain endothelium that was further potentiated in mice exposed to PCB118. PCB118 did not affect the number of adhered and extravasated tumor cells in ICAM-1–deficient mice. Additional in vitro studies indicated that VCAM-1–neutralizing antibody protected against PCB118-induced adhesion of tumor cells to cultured brain endothelial cells. These results indicate that exposure to selected PCB congeners, such as PCB118, induces adhesion and transcapillary migration of tumor cells. This process is facilitated by proinflammatory adhesion molecules and results in potentiation of brain metastasis formation.
PMCID: PMC3307603  PMID: 22240979
blood-brain barrier; ICAM-1; VCAM-1; tumor cell adhesion; vascular inflammation
15.  HIV-1 Tat triggers nuclear localization of ZO-1 via Rho signaling and CREB activation 
The HIV specific protein Tat can contribute to the dysfunction of brain endothelial cells and HIV trafficking into the brain by disrupting tight junction (TJ) integrity at the blood-brain barrier (BBB) level. Specific TJ proteins, such as zonula occludens (ZO) proteins, localize not only at the cell-cell borders but are also present in the nuclei. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the mechanisms and significance of Tat-induced nuclear localization of ZO-1. Treatment of a brain endothelial cell line (hCMEC/D3 cells) with Tat resulted in a decrease in total levels of ZO-1 but significantly upregulated ZO-1 protein expression in the nuclei. In addition, exposure to Tat stimulated Rho signaling and induced phosphorylation and activity of transcription factor cAMP response element-binding (CREB), binding sites which have been identified in the proximal region of the ZO-1-promoter. Interestingly, inhibition of the Rho cascade protected against Tat-induced upregulation of ZO-1 in the nuclei and activation of CREB. Depletion of CREB by infection of cells with specific shRNA lentiviral particles attenuated both Tat-induced Rho signaling and nuclear targeting of ZO-1. A decrease in CREB levels also attenuated Tat-induced endothelial and BBB hyperpermeability as well as transendothelial migration of monocytic cells. The role of CREB in Tat-mediated alterations of ZO-1 was confirmed in brain microvessels in mice with CREB shRNA lentiviral particles injected into the cerebral circulation. The present results indicate the crucial role of Rho signaling and CREB in modulation of nuclear localization of ZO-1 and maintaining the integrity of endothelial monolayers.
PMCID: PMC3566645  PMID: 22219277
Blood-brain barrier; brain endothelial cells; cell signaling; HIV-1; tight junctions; transcription factors
Methamphetamine (METH) is a drug of abuse with neurotoxic and vascular effects that may be mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, potential sources of METH-induced generation of ROS are not fully understood. The present study is focused on the role of NAD(P)H oxidase (NOX) in METH-induced dysfunction of brain endothelial cells. Treatment with METH induced a time-dependent increase in phosphorylation of NOX subunit p47, followed by its binding with gp91 and p22, and the formation of an active NOX complex. An increase in NOX activity was associated with elevated production of ROS, alterations of occludin levels, and increased transendothelial migration of monocytes. Inhibition of NOX by NSC 23766 attenuated METH-induced ROS generation, changes in occludin protein levels, and monocyte migration. Because an active NOX complex is localized to caveolae, we next evaluated the role of caveolae in METH-mediated toxicity to brain endothelial cells. Treatment with METH induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and caveolin-1 protein. Inhibition of ERK1/2 activity or caveolin-1 silencing protected against METH-induced alterations of occludin levels. These findings indicate an important role of NOX and functional caveolae in METH-induced oxidative stress in brain endothelial cells that contribute to the subsequent alterations of occludin levels and transendothelial migration of inflammatory cells.
PMCID: PMC3133868  PMID: 21435178
blood-brain barrier; brain endothelial cells; drug abuse; methamphetamine; oxidative stress; tight junctions
17.  EMMPRIN Regulates Cytoskeleton Reorganization and Cell Adhesion in Prostate Cancer 
The Prostate  2011;72(1):72-81.
Proteins on cell surface play important roles during cancer progression and metastasis via their ability to mediate cell-to-cell interactions and navigate the communication between cells and the microenvironment.
In this study a targeted proteomic analysis was conducted to identify the differential expression of cell surface proteins in human benign (BPH-1) vs. malignant (LNCaP and PC-3) prostate epithelial cells. We identified EMMPRIN (extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer) as a key candidate and shRNA functional approaches were subsequently applied to determine the role of EMMPRIN in prostate cancer cell adhesion, migration, invasion as well as cytoskeleton organization.
EMMPRIN was found to be highly expressed on the surface of prostate cancer cells compared to BPH-1 cells, consistent with a correlation between elevated EMMPRIN and metastasis found in other tumors. No significant changes in cell proliferation, cell cycle progression or apoptosis were detected in EMMPRIN knockdown cells compared to the scramble controls. Furthermore, EMMPRIN silencing markedly decreased the ability of PC-3 cells to form filopodia, a critical feature of invasive behavior, while it increased expression of cell-cell adhesion and gap junction proteins.
Our results suggest that EMMPRIN regulates cell adhesion, invasion and cytoskeleton reorganization in prostate cancer cells. This study identifies a new function for EMMPRIN as a contributor to prostate cancer cell-cell communication and cytoskeleton changes towards metastatic spread, and suggests its potential value as a marker of prostate cancer progression to metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3158271  PMID: 21563192
Prostate Cancer; EMMPRIN; Cytoskeleton; shRNA; Filopodia
18.  Diffuse optical monitoring of repeated cerebral ischemia in mice 
Optics Express  2011;19(21):20301-20315.
Occlusions of bilateral common carotid arteries (bi-CCA) in mice are popular models for the investigation of transient forebrain ischemia. Currently available technologies for assessing cerebral blood flow (CBF) and oxygenation in ischemic mice have limitations. This study tests a novel near-infrared diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) flow-oximeter for monitoring both CBF and cerebral oxygenation in mice undergoing repeated transient forebrain ischemia. Concurrent flow measurements in a mouse brain were first conducted for validation purposes; DCS measurement was found highly correlated with laser Doppler measurement (R2 = 0.94) and less susceptible to motion artifacts. With unique designs in experimental protocols and fiber-optic probes, we have demonstrated high sensitivities of DCS flow-oximeter in detecting the regional heterogeneity of CBF responses in different hemispheres and global changes of both CBF and cerebral oxygenation across two hemispheres in mice undergoing repeated 2-minute bi-CCA occlusions over 5 days. More than 75% CBF reductions were found during bi-CCA occlusions in mice, which may be considered as a threshold to determine a successful bi-CCA occlusion. With the progress of repeated 2-minute bi-CCA occlusions over days, a longitudinal decline in the magnitudes of CBF reduction was observed, indicating the brain adaptation to cerebral ischemia through the repeated preconditioning.
PMCID: PMC3495871  PMID: 21997041
(170.0170) Medical optics and biotechnology; (170.3660) Light propagation in tissues; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (170.6480) Spectroscopy, speckle
19.  Caveolae: a regulatory platform for nutritional modulation of inflammatory diseases 
Dietary intervention strategies have proven to be an effective means of decreasing several risk factors associated with the development of atherosclerosis. Endothelial cell dysfunction influences vascular inflammation and is involved in promoting the earliest stages of lesion formation. Caveolae are lipid raft microdomains abundant within the plasma membrane of endothelial cells and are responsible for mediating receptor-mediated signal transduction. Caveolae have been implicated in the regulation of enzymes associated with several key signaling pathways capable of determining intracellular redox status. Diet and plasma-derived nutrients may modulate an inflammatory outcome by interacting with and altering caveolae-associated cellular signaling. For example, omega-3 fatty acids and several polyphenolics have been shown to improve endothelial cell function by decreasing the formation of ROS and increasing NO bioavailability, events associated with altered caveolae composition. Thus, nutritional modulation of caveolae-mediated signaling events may provide an opportunity to ameliorate inflammatory signaling pathways capable of promoting the formation of vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3139026  PMID: 21292468
20.  The Role of Fatty Acids and Caveolin-1 in TNF-α-Induced Endothelial Cell Activation 
Metabolism  2008;57(10):1328-1339.
Hypertriglyceridemia and associated high circulating free fatty acids are important risk factors of atherosclerosis. In contrast to omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid, the major omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid in the American diet, may be atherogenic by amplifying an endothelial inflammatory response. We hypothesize that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can differentially modulate TNF-α-induced endothelial cell activation and that functional plasma membrane microdomains called caveolae are required for endothelial cell activation. Caveolae are particularly abundant in endothelial cells and play a major role in endothelial trafficking and the regulation of signaling pathways associated with the pathology of vascular diseases. To test our hypothesis, endothelial cells were pre-enriched with either linoleic acid or α-linolenic acid prior to TNF-α-induced endothelial activation. Measurements included oxidative stress and NF-κB-dependent induction of COX-2 and PGE2 under experimental conditions with intact caveolae and with cells in which caveolin-1 was silenced by siRNA. Exposure to TNF-α induced oxidative stress and inflammatory mediators, such as p38 MAPK, NF-κB, COX-2 and PGE2, which were all amplified by pre-enrichment with linoleic acid but blocked or reduced by α-linolenic acid. The p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 blocked TNF-α-mediated induction of COX-2 protein expression, suggesting a regulatory mechanism through p38 MAPK signaling. Image overlay demonstrated TNF-α-induced co-localization of TNF receptor type 1 (TNFR-1) with caveolin-1. Caveolin-1 was significantly induced by TNF-α, which was further amplified by linoleic acid and blocked by α-linolenic acid. Furthermore, silencing of the caveolin-1 gene completely blocked TNF-α-induced production of COX-2 and PGE2 and significantly reduced the amplified response of linoleic acid plus TNF-α. These data suggest that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can differentially modulate TNF-α-induced inflammatory stimuli and that caveolae and its fatty acid composition play a regulatory role during TNF-α-induced endothelial cell activation and inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3349996  PMID: 18803934
atherosclerosis; inflammation; endothelial activation; omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; tumor necrosis factor-α; oxidative stress; caveolae
21.  HIV-1-Induced Alterations of Claudin-5 Expression at the Blood–Brain Barrier Level 
HIV-1 crosses the blood–brain barrier (BBB) early in the course of systemic infection and resides in brain macrophages and microglia. The integrity of the brain endothelium is regulated by intercellular tight junctions, which also play a critical role in HIV-1-entry into the brain. Disruption of tight junctions, including changes in claudin-5 expression, is common in HIV-1-infected patients. Recent evidence indicates that both exposure to HIV-1 and HIV-1 specific proteins, such as Tat protein, can contribute to alterations of expression and distribution of claudin-5 in brain endothelial cells and brain microvessels.
PMCID: PMC3292788  PMID: 21717370
Claudin-5; Brain microvascular endothelial cell; Blood–brain barrier; HIV-1
22.  Omega-3 fatty acid oxidation products prevent vascular endothelial cell activation by coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls 
Coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may facilitate development of atherosclerosis by stimulating pro-inflammatory pathways in the vascular endothelium. Nutrition, including fish oil-derived long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6ω-3), can reduce inflammation and thus the risk of atherosclerosis. We tested the hypothesis that cyclopentenone metabolites produced by oxidation of DHA can protect against PCB-induced endothelial cell dysfunction. Oxidized DHA (oxDHA) was prepared by incubation of the fatty acid with the free radical generator 2,2-azo-bis(2-amidinopropane) dihydrochloride (AAPH). Cellular pretreatment with oxDHA prevented production of superoxide induced by PCB77, and subsequent activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). A4/J4-neuroprostanes (NPs) were identified and quantitated using HPLC ESI tandem mass spectrometry. Levels of these NPs were markedly increased after DHA oxidation with AAPH.. The protective actions of oxDHA were reversed by treatment with sodium borohydride (NaBH4), which concurrently abrogated A4/J4-NP formation. Up-regulation of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1)by PCB77 was markedly reduced by oxDHA, but not by un-oxidized DHA. These protective effects were proportional to the abundance of A4/J4NPs in the oxidized DHA sample. Treatment of cells with oxidized eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5ω-3) also reduced MCP-1 expression, but less than oxDHA. Treatment with DHA-derived cyclopentenones also increased DNA binding of NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2)and downstream expression of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1), similarly to the Nrf-2 activator sulforaphane. Furthermore, sulforaphane prevented PCB77-induced MCP-1 expression, suggesting that activation of Nrf-2 mediates the observed protection against PCB77 toxicity. Our data implicate A4/J4-NPs as mediators of omega-3 fatty acid-mediated protection against the endothelial toxicity of coplanar PCBs.
PMCID: PMC3026064  PMID: 21130106
Polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs); endothelial cells; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1); NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2); oxidative stress
23.  Quercetin blocks caveolae-dependent proinflammatory responses induced by coplanar PCBs 
Environment international  2009;36(8):931-934.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are widespread environmental contaminants, and co-planar PCBs can induce oxidative stress and activation of pro-inflammatory signaling cascades which are associated with atherosclerosis. The majority of the toxicological effects elicited by co-planar PCB exposure are associated to activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and subsequent induction of responsive genes. Previous studies from our group have shown that quercetin, a nutritionally relevant flavonoid can significantly reduce PCB77 induction of oxidative stress and expression of the AHR responsive gene cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1). We also have evidence that membrane domains called caveolae may regulate PCB-induced inflammatory parameters. Thus, we hypothesized that quercetin can modulate PCB-induced endothelial inflammationassociated with caveolae. To test this hypothesis, endothelial cells were exposed to co-planar PCBs in combination with quercetin, and expression of pro-inflammatory genes was analyzed by real time PCR. Quercetin co-treatment significantly blocked both PCB77 and PCB126 induction of CYP1A1, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), E-selectin and P-selectin. Exposure to PCB77 also induced caveolin-1 protein expression, which was reduced by cotreatment with quercetin. Our results suggest that inflammatory pathways induced by co-planar PCBs can be down-regulated by the dietary flavonoid quercetin through mechanisms associated with functional caveolae.
PMCID: PMC2889233  PMID: 19608276
Quercetin; PCBs; caveolae; AHR; CYP1A1; VCAM-1; MAPKs
Journal of neuroscience research  2010;88(13):2859-2868.
Epidemiology and genetic studies indicate that patients with telomere length shorter than average are at higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. Telomeres are located at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes which demonstrate progressive length reduction in most somatic cells during aging. The enzyme telomerase can compensate for telomere loss during cell replication. The present study is aimed to investigate the contribution of telomerase to stroke and the blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction. Telomerase reverse transcriptase knock-out (TERT−/−) mice and littermate controls with normal TERT expression were subjected to a 24 h permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). The stroke outcomes were assessed in terms of neurological scores and infarct volumes. In addition, we evaluated oxidative stress, permeability across the BBB, and the integrity of tight junctions in brain microvessels. Neurological testing revealed that TERT−/− mice showed enhanced deficits as compared to controls. These changes were associated with a greater infarct volume. The expression of tight junction protein ZO-1 decreased markedly in ischemic hemispheres of TERT−/− mice. The brain microvessels of TERT−/− mice also were more susceptible to oxidative stress, revealing higher superoxide and lower glutathione levels as compared to mice with normal TERT expression. Importantly, TERT deficiency potentiated the production of inflammatory mediators, such as TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and ICAM-1 in the ischemic hemispheres of mice with pMCAO. Our study suggests that TERT deficiency can predispose to the development of stroke in an experimental model of this disease.
PMCID: PMC2919635  PMID: 20564349
telomerase reverse transcriptase; stroke; blood-brain barrier; tight junction proteins; cerebral microvessels
25.  The role of caveolae in endothelial cell dysfunction with a focus on nutrition and environmental toxicants 
Complications of vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, are the number one cause of death in Western societies. Dysfunction of endothelial cells is a critical underlying cause of the pathology of atherosclerosis. Lipid rafts, and especially caveolae, are enriched in endothelial cells, and down-regulation of the caveolin-1 gene may provide protection against the development of atherosclerosis. There is substantial evidence that exposure to environmental pollution is linked to cardiovascular mortality, and that persistent organic pollutants can markedly contribute to endothelial cell dysfunction and an increase in vascular inflammation. Nutrition can modulate the toxicity of environmental pollutants, and evidence suggests that these affect health and disease outcome associated with chemical insults. Because caveolae can provide a regulatory platform for proinflammatory signaling associated with vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, we hypothesize a link between atherogenic risk and functional changes of caveolae by environmental factors such as dietary lipids and organic pollutants. For example, we have evidence that endothelial caveolae play a role in uptake of persistent organic pollutants, an event associated with subsequent production of inflammatory mediators. Functional properties of caveolae can be modulated by nutrition, such as dietary lipids (e.g. fatty acids) and plant-derived polyphenols (e.g., flavonoids), which change activation of caveolae-associated signaling proteins. The following review will focus on caveolae providing a platform for proinflammatory signaling, and the role of caveolae in endothelial cell functional changes associated with environmental mediators such as nutrients and toxicants, which are known to modulate the pathology of vascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC2965309  PMID: 20406324
Endothelial cells; caveolae; environmental contaminants; nutrition; flavonoids

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