Marjamaa A, Newton-Cheh C, Porthan K, Reunanen A, Lahermo P, Väänänen H, Jula A, Karanko H, Swan H, Toivonen L, Nieminen MS, Viitasalo M, Peltonen L, Oikarinen L, Palotie A, Kontula K, Salomaa V (Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland; Finnish Genome Center, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Laboratory of Biomedical Engineering, Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland; and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland). Common candidate gene variants are associated with QT interval duration in the general population.
QT interval prolongation is associated with increased risk of sudden cardiac death at the population level. As 30–40% of the QT-interval variability is heritable, we tested the association of common LQTS and NOS1AP gene variants with QT interval in a Finnish population-based sample.
We genotyped 12 common LQTS and NOS1AP genetic variants in Health 2000, an epidemiological sample of 5043 Finnish individuals, using Sequenom MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. ECG parameters were measured from digital 12-lead ECGs and QT intervals were adjusted for age, gender and heart rate with a nomogram (Nc) method derived from the present study population.
The KCNE1 D85N minor allele (frequency 1.4%) was associated with a 10.5 ms (SE 1.6) or 0.57 SD prolongation of the adjusted QTNc interval (P = 3.6 × 10−11) in gender-pooled analysis. In agreement with previous studies, we replicated the association with QTNc interval with minor alleles of KCNH2 intronic SNP rs3807375 [1.6 ms (SE 0.4) or 0.08 SD, P = 4.7 × 10−5], KCNH2 K897T [−2.6 ms (SE 0.5) or −0.14 SD, P = 2.1 × 10−7] and NOSA1P variants including rs2880058 [4.0 ms (SE 0.4) or 0.22 SD, P = 3.2 × 10−24] under additive models.
We demonstrate that each additional copy of the KCNE1 D85N minor allele is associated with a considerable 10.5 ms prolongation of the age-, gender- and heart rate-adjusted QT interval and could thus modulate repolarization-related arrhythmia susceptibility at the population level. In addition, we robustly confirm the previous findings that three independent KCNH2 and NOSA1P variants are associated with adjusted QT interval.
epidemiology; genetics; KCNE1; long-QT syndrome; QT interval
Metabolism plays a key role in many major human diseases. Generation of high-throughput omics data has ushered in a new era of systems biology. Genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions provide a platform to interpret omics data in a biochemically meaningful manner. The release of the global human metabolic network, Recon 1, in 2007 has enabled new systems biology approaches to study human physiology, pathology, and pharmacology. There are currently over 20 publications that utilize Recon 1, including studies of cancer, diabetes, host-pathogen interactions, heritable metabolic disorders, and off-target drug binding effects. In this mini-review, we focus on the reconstruction of the global human metabolic network and four classes of its application. We show that computational simulations for numerous pathologies have yielded clinically relevant results, many corroborated by existing or newly generated experimental data.
human metabolism; systems biology; constraints-based modeling
Current vaccines primarily work by inducing protective antibodies. However, in many infections like HIV, malaria and tuberculosis as well as cancers there remains a need for durable and protective T-cell immunity. Here, we summarize our efforts to develop a safe T-cell based protein vaccine that exploits the pivotal role of dendritic cells (DC) in initiating adaptive immunity. Focusing on HIV, gag-p24 protein antigen is introduced into a monoclonal antibody (mAb) that efficiently and specifically targets the DEC-205 antigen uptake receptor on DC. When administered together with synthetic double stranded RNA, polyriboinosinic:polyribocytidylic acid (poly IC) or its analogue poly ICLC (poly IC stabilized with carboxymethylcellulose and poly-L-lysine), as adjuvant, HIV gag-p24 within anti-DEC-205 mAb is highly immunogenic in mice, rhesus macaques, and in ongoing research, healthy human volunteers. Human subjects form both T and B cell responses to DC-targeted protein. Thus, DC-targeted protein vaccines are a potential new vaccine platform, either alone or in combination with highly attenuated viral vectors, to induce integrated immune responses against microbial or cancer antigens, with improved ease of manufacturing and clinical use.
dendritic cells; protein vaccine; adjuvant; T cells; DEC-205; cross-presentation
One of the strongest associations with autoantibodies directed to components of the SSA/Ro-SSB/La ribonucleoprotein complex is the development of congenital heart block (CHB) in an offspring, an alarming prospect facing 2% of primigravid mothers with these reactivities. This risk is 10-fold higher in women who have had a previously affected child with CHB. Anti-Ro/La antibodies are necessary but insufficient to cause disease. In vitro and in vivo experiments suggest that the pathogenesis involves exaggerated apoptosis, macrophage/myfibroblast crosstalk, TGFβ expression and extensive fibrosis in the conducting system and in some cases surrounding myocardium. A disturbing observation is the rapidity of disease progression, with advanced heart block and life-threatening cardiomyopathy observed <2 weeks from normal sinus rhythm. Once 3rd degree (complete) block is identified, reversal has never been achieved, despite dexamethasone. Current strategies include the evaluation of an early echocardiographic marker of injury, such as a prolonged PR interval and the use of IVIG as a preventative measure for pregnancies of mothers with previously affected children.
anti-Ro/La antibodies; congenital heart block; PR interval
To determine mRNA expression differences in genes involved in signaling and modulating sensory fatigue, and muscle pain in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FM) at baseline, and following moderate exercise.
Forty eight Patients with CFS-only, or CFS with comorbid FM, 18 Patients with FM that did not meet criteria for CFS, and 49 healthy Controls underwent moderate exercise (25 minutes at 70% maximum age predicted heart-rate). Visual-analogue measures of fatigue and pain were taken before, during, and after exercise. Blood samples were taken before, and 0.5, 8, 24, and 48 hours after exercise. Leukocytes were immediately isolated from blood, number coded for blind processing and analyses, and flash frozen. Using real-time, quantitative PCR, the amount of mRNA for 13 genes (relative to control genes) involved in sensory, adrenergic, and immune functions was compared between groups at baseline, and following exercise. Changes in amounts of mRNA were correlated with behavioral measures, and functional clinical assessments.
No gene expression changes occurred following exercise in Controls. In 71% of CFS patients, moderate exercise increased most sensory and adrenergic receptor’s and one cytokine gene’s transcription for 48 hours. These post-exercise increases correlated with behavioral measures of fatigue and pain. In contrast, for the other 29% of CFS patients, adrenergic α-2A receptor’s transcription was decreased at all time points after exercise; other genes were not altered. History of orthostatic intolerance was significantly more common in the α-2A decrease subgroup. FM only patients showed no post-exercise alterations in gene expression, but their pre-exercise baseline mRNA for two sensory ion channels and one cytokine were significantly higher than Controls.
At least two subgroups of CFS patients can be identified by gene expression changes following exercise. The larger subgroup showed increases in mRNA for sensory and adrenergic receptors and a cytokine. The smaller subgroup contained most of the CFS patients with orthostatic intolerance, showed no post-exercise increases in any gene, and was defined by decreases in mRNA for α-2A. FM only patients can be identified by baseline increases in 3 genes. Post-exercise increases for 4 genes meet published criteria as an objective biomarker for CFS, and could be useful in guiding treatment selection for different subgroups.
chronic fatigue syndrome; fatigue; orthostatic symptoms; autonomic dysfunction; gene expression; fibromyalgia
Apolipoprotein A-V (apoAV) contributes to the regulation of triglyceride metabolism, which plays a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic diseases. We therefore ascertained determinants of hepatic APOA5 transcript and apoAV plasma levels in humans.
We determined influences of anthropometric variables, biochemical factors related to lipid and glucose metabolism, hepatic mRNA levels transcribed from the APOA1/C3/A4/A5 cluster and transcription factor genes implicated in the regulation of APOA5 as well as common SNPs at the APOA5 locus on APOA5 expression in 89 obese patients and 22 non-obese controls.
Mean, age and sex adjusted, hepatic APOA5 mRNA or apoAV plasma levels did not differ by obesity status, HOMA-IR or inflammatory markers. In multivariate regression models, the c56C>G SNP, plasma apoCIII, plasma non-esterified fatty acids, hepatic APOA5 transcripts, sex and a weak association with obesity status explained 61% of the variance in apoAV plasma levels. Hepatic transcript levels of CPT1A1 and PPARA, plasma non-esterified fatty acids and the c56C>G SNP explained 48% of the variance in hepatic APOA5 transcript levels.
ApoAV plasma levels are independently associated with plasma free fatty acid and hepatic APOA5 mRNA levels. Associations of APOA5 transcripts with PPARA and CPT1A1 transcripts suggest that APOA5 expression is intimately linked to hepatic lipid metabolism.
Apolipoprotein A-V; APOA5; triglycerides; PPARA; CPT1A; SNP
Background and methods
Endogenous ouabain (EO) is markedly raised in patients with chronic renal failure. As high EO induces myocardial cell hypertrophy in vitro and it is associated with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in essential hypertensives and in patients with heart failure we investigated the relationship between plasma EO and LV mass and geometry in 156 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. EO was measured by a specific radioimmunoassay and by mass spectrometry.
On univariate analysis, plasma EO was directly related to LV mass (r = 0.26, P = 0.001) and LV end diastolic volume (r = 0.25, P = 0.002) and these relationships held true in multiple linear regression models including a series of potential confounders. Patients with eccentric LVH (n = 41, i.e. 26%) had the highest plasma levels of EO when compared to patients with other patterns of LV geometry (P = 0.001). Furthermore, plasma EO had diagnostic value for eccentric LVH because the area under the corresponding ROC curve (68%) was significantly greater (P = 0.002) than the threshold of diagnostic indifference. In this analysis, the sensitivity was 91% and the specificity was 36%. The positive predictive value was 33% but EO had a remarkably high negative predictive value (92%) for the exclusion of eccentric hypertrophy.
In ESRD patients, plasma EO is independently associated with LV mass, LV volume and eccentric LVH. The results of this study are compatible with the hypothesis that EO is involved in alterations of LV mass in ESRD.
dialysis; endogenous ouabain-like factor; left ventricular end diastolic volume; left ventricular hypertrophy
Concern has been recently raised about possible adverse cardio-metabolic effects of high selenium status, such as increased risks of diabetes and hyperlipidemia. However, most of the evidence comes from selenium-replete populations such as the US.
To examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of serum selenium with cardiovascular risk factors in Finland where selenium levels were among the lowest in the world until the early 1980s before the implementation of a nationwide selenium fertilization program.
Serum selenium was measured in 1,235 young Finns aged 3-18 years at baseline in 1980 (pre-fertilization), and in a subgroup (N=262) at the 6-year follow-up (1986, post-fertilization). During the 27-year follow-up, serum lipids, blood pressure, BMI, and smoking were assessed five times (1980, 1983, 1986, 2001, and 2007).
Mean (±SD) serum selenium concentrations were 74.3±14.0 ng/mL in 1980 and 106.6±12.5 ng/mL in 1986 (average increase 32.3 ng/mL; 95% CI: 30.3 to 34.3, p<0.0001). In univariate and multivariable cross-sectional models in 1980 and 1986, increased serum selenium levels were consistently associated with increased total, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol. However, the average longitudinal changes in lipids were −0.20 mmol/L (95% CI: −0.30 to −0.10, p<0.0001) for total cholesterol, 0.06 mmol/L (95% CI: 0.03 to 0.10, p<0.0001) for HDL-cholesterol, and −0.23 mmol/L (95% CI: −0.31 to −0.14, p<0.0001) for LDL-cholesterol. Selenium measured in 1986 was not associated with lipids assessed in 2001 and 2007.
Cross-sectional findings from the Young Finns study corroborate positive associations of selenium status with serum lipids. However, longitudinal evidence does not support the causality of this link.
cardiovascular; cross-sectional; follow-up; lipids; risk factors; selenium
Epidemiological evidence suggests that infections may contribute to atherogenesis. However, with the exception of Chlamydophila pneumoniae, cultivable bacteria have not been recovered from atherosclerotic lesions. Therefore, we aimed at developing an approach to recover uncultivable bacteria from atherectomy tissues.
We cultured homogenates from atherectomy specimens from seven non-septic patients undergoing surgery for arterial obstruction either alone or together with THP-1 monocyte-like cells. We performed 16S rDNA analysis, biochemical tests, random amplification of polymorphic DNA PCR analysis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and immunohistofluorescence to identify the cultivated bacteria. Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Tests were used to determine whether THP-1 treatment yielded a higher number of isolates than did the untreated controls.
We recovered more bacteria from co-cultures of atherectomy specimens with THP-1 cells than atherectomy specimens cultured alone. On average, tissue homogenates incubated with THP-1 cells vs control yielded 124 vs 22 colony-forming units (CFUs), a median of 140 vs. 7, respectively (p = 0.02). We recovered 872 isolates of limited number of species, including Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Streptococcus infantis and the fastidious anaerobe Porphyromonas gingivalis, and confirmed its presence in tissue using double immunofluorescence imaging. qPCR demonstrated the presence of ≥3.5 × 103 P. gingivalis genomes/g of atheromatous tissue.
These results indicate that viable previously uncultivable bacterial species are present within atheromas. Our results suggest revisiting the hypothesis that infections may have a causative role in atherosclerotic inflammation and have implications for research regarding novel diagnostics and treatments for cardiovascular disease.
atherosclerosis; monocytes; Porphyromonas gingivalis; periodontal disease; bacterial infection
Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCω3PUFAs), selenium (Se) and mercury (Hg) are three important components in fish. The cardioprotective effect of LCω3PUFA intake has been recognized; however, the hypothesis that this benefit may be greatest with high Se and low Hg levels has not been investigated.
A cohort of 4,508 American adults aged 18–30, without hypertension at baseline in 1985, were enrolled. Six follow-ups were conducted at exams in 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2005. Diet was assessed by a validated interviewer-administered quantitative food frequency questionnaire at exams in 1985, 1992 and 2005. Incident hypertension was defined as first occurrence at any follow-up examination of systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg, or taking anti-hypertensive medication. Toenail clippings were collected in 1987, and Se and Hg levels were quantified by instrumental neutron-activation analysis.
Participants in the highest LCω3PUFAintake quartile had a significantly lower incidence of hypertension (Hazard Ratio: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.53–0.79; Ptrend<0.01) compared to those in the lowest quartile after adjustment for potential confounders. Docosahexaenoic acid showed a greater inverse association than eicosapentaenoic acid. The inverse association of LCω3PUFA intake with hypertension appeared more pronounced at higher Se and lower Hg levels, although interaction tests were statistically non-significant.
Out findings indicated that LCω3PUFA intake was inversely associated with incidence of hypertension. The prior hypothesis that the potential anti-hypertensive effect of LCω3PUFA intake varies depending on joint levels of Se and Hg received modest support, and cannot be ruled out.
omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; selenium; mercury; hypertension; effect modification
Genescà M, McChesney MB, Miller CJ (Center for Comparative Medicine and California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, CA, USA). Antiviral CD8+ T cells in the genital tract control viral replication and delay progression to AIDS after vaginal SIV challenge in rhesus macaques immunized with virulence attenuated SHIV 89.6 (Review).
The recently failed clinical efficacy trial of an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) vaccine that elicits antiviral CD8+ T-cell responses has emphasized the challenge of producing an effective vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/rhesus monkey model of AIDS, live-attenuated lentivirus ‘vaccines’ provide the best protection from uncontrolled viral replication and clinical disease after pathogenic SIV challenge. This review summarizes a recent series of studies in which we show that after vaginal SIV challenge of rhesus macaques immunized with an attenuated lentivirus protection from uncontrolled viral replication is primarily mediated by CD8+ T cells in the vaginal mucosa. Immunization with a chimeric simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) results in a systemic infection that induces a moderate population of SIV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells with cytolytic potential in the vaginal mucosa. Depletion of CD8+ T cells at the time of SIV challenge completely abrogates the protection mediated by prior infection with attenuated SHIV. Further after vaginal SIV challenge, the only significant expansion of SIV-specific T cells occurs in the vagina in these animals. No significant expansion of T-cell responses was observed in systemic lymphoid tissues. Thus, the presence of SIV-specific CD8+ T cells in the vagina on the day of vaginal SIV challenge and a modest expansion of local effector T cells is sufficient to stop uncontrolled SIV replication. It seems that T-cell based vaccine strategies that can elicit mucosal effector CD8+ T-cell populations and avoid inducing systemic T-cell proliferation upon exposure to HIV have the greatest potential for mimicking the success of live-attenuated lentiviral vaccines.
caspase-3; CD107; cytolytic T cells; Ki67; T-cell activation; vagina
The mechanisms responsible for heterosubtypic immunity to influenza virus are not well understood but might hold the key for new vaccine strategies capable of providing lasting protection against both seasonal and pandemic strains. Memory CD4 T cells are capable of providing substantial protection against influenza both through direct effector mechanisms as well as indirectly through regulatory and helper functions. Here, we discuss the broad impact of memory CD4 T cells on heterosubtypic immunity against influenza and the prospects of translating findings from animal models into improved human influenza vaccines.
influenza; CD4 T cell; immunological memory; vaccination
The clinical onset of type 1 diabetes or autoimmune diabetes occurs after a prodrome of islet autoimmunity. The warning signals for the ensuing loss of pancreatic islet beta cells are autoantibodies against insulin, GAD65, IA-2, and ZnT8, alone or in combinations. Autoantibodies against e.g. insulin alone have only a minor risk for type 1 diabetes. However, progression to clinical onset is increased by the induction of multiple islet autoantibodies. At the time of clinical onset, insulitis may be manifest, which seem to reduce the efficacy of immunosuppression. Autoantigen-specific immunotherapy with alum-formulated GAD65 (Diamyd®) show promise to reduce the loss of beta-cell function after the clinical onset of type 1 diabetes. The mechanisms are unclear but may involve the induction of T regulatory cells, which may suppress islet autoantigen reactivity. Past and on-going clinical trials have been safe. Future clinical trials, perhaps as combination autoantigen-specific immunotherapy may increase the efficacy to prevent the clinical onset in subjects with islet autoantibodies or preserve residual beta-cell function in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients.
Coeliac disease is a widespread, lifelong disorder for which dietary control represents the only accepted form of therapy. There is an unmet need for non-dietary therapies to treat this condition. Most ongoing and emerging drug discovery programmes are based on the understanding that coeliac disease is caused by an inappropriate T-cell-mediated immune response to dietary gluten proteins. Recent genome-wide association studies lend further support to this pathogenic model. The central role of human leukocyte antigen genes has been validated, and a number of new risk loci have been identified, most of which are related to the biology of T cells and antigen-presenting cells. Here we review the status of potential non-dietary therapies under consideration for coeliac disease. We conclude that future development of novel therapies will be aided by the identification of new, preferably non-invasive, surrogate markers for coeliac disease activity.
Coeliac disease; gluten; T cell; HLA; transglutaminase; drug; therapy
Declining cell-mediated immunity to varicella zoster virus (VZV) in elderly individuals results in virus reactivation manifest by zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). To prevent virus reactivation, a new VZV vaccine (Zostavax, Merck) that boosts cell-mediated immunity to VZV was developed. The 3-year Shingles Prevention Study showed that Zostavax significantly reduced burden of disease due to zoster and PHN. Despite its cost-effectiveness for adults ages 65 to 75 years, as determined in the US, Canada and UK, less than 2% of immunocompetent adults over age 60 years in the US were immunized in 2007. This was due to a combination of lack of patient awareness of the vaccine, physicians’ uncertainty about the duration of protection, and different cost-sharing plans for immunization. Nevertheless, zoster vaccine is safe, effective, and highly recommended for immunization of immunocompetent individuals over age 60 years with no history of recent zoster.
zoster; shingles; immunization; postherpetic neuralgia
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by the presence of autoantibodies that can mediate tissue damage in multiple organs. The underlying aetiology of SLE autoantibodies remains unknown, and treatments aimed at eliminating B cells, or limiting their function, have demonstrated limited therapeutic benefit. Thus, the current therapies for SLE are based on the concept of nonspecific immunosuppression and consist of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), corticosteroids, anti-malarials and cytotoxic drugs, all of which have serious adverse side effects including organ damage. The major auto-specificity in SLE is double-stranded (ds) DNA. Many anti-dsDNA antibodies cross-react with non-DNA antigens that may be the direct targets for their pathogenic activity. Studying anti-dsDNA antibodies present in SLE patients and in animal models of lupus, we have identified a subset of anti-dsDNA antibodies which is pathogenic in the brain as well as in the kidney. We have recently demonstrated that specific peptides, or small molecules, can protect target organs from antibody-mediated damage. Thus, it might be possible to treat the aspects of autoimmune disease without inducing major immunosuppression and ensuing infectious complications.
autoantibodies; systemic lupus erythematosus; therapeutic strategy
T cells can reject established tumors when adoptively transferred into patients, thereby demonstrating the power of the immune system for cancer therapy. However, it has proven difficult to maintain adoptively transferred T cells in the long term. Vaccines have the potential to induce tumor-specific effector and memory T cells. However, clinical efficacy of current vaccines is limited, possibly because tumors skew the immune system by means of myeloid-derived suppressor cells, inflammatory type 2 T cells and regulatory T cells (Tregs), all of which prevent the generation of effector cells. To improve the clinical efficacy of cancer vaccines in patients with metastatic disease, we need to design novel and improved strategies that can boost adaptive immunity to cancer, help overcome Tregs and allow the breakdown of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. This can be achieved by exploiting the fast increasing knowledge about the dendritic cell (DC) system, including the existence of distinct DC subsets which respond differentially to distinct activation signals, (functional plasticity), both contributing to the generation of unique adaptive immune responses. We foresee that these novel cancer vaccines will be used as monotherapy in patients with resected disease, and in combination with drugs targeting regulatory/suppressor pathways in patients with metastatic disease.
dendritic cells; cancer; vaccines; T cells
An expanding spectrum of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases are considered “autoinflammatory” diseases. This review considers autoinflammatory diseases as being distinct from “autoimmune” diseases. Autoimmune diseases are associated with dysfunctional T-cells and treated with “biologicals” including anti-TNFα, CTLA-Ig, anti-IL-12/23, anti-CD20, anti-IL-17 and anti-IL-6 receptor. In contrast, autoinflammatory diseases are uniquely due to a dysfunctional monocyte caspase-1 activity and secretion of IL-1β; indeed, blocking IL-1β results in a rapid and sustained reduction in the severity of most autoinflammatory diseases. Flares of gout, Type-2 diabetes, heart failure and smoldering multiple myeloma are examples of seemingly unrelated diseases, which are uniquely responsive to IL-1β neutralization.
cytokines; inflammation; diabetes; heart failure
In 1999 a vaccine approach was found to reduce amyloid deposits in transgenic mice overproducing the amyloid precursor protein. This was followed closely by demonstrations that vaccines or passive immunotherapy could rescue memory deficits in these mice. Initial human clinical trials revealed apparent autoimmune reactions in a subset of patients, but also some cases of cognitive benefit and amyloid clearance. Further work with passive immunotherapy in mouse models confirmed exceptional clearing abilities of anti-amyloid antibodies even in older mice. However, in parallel with parenchymal amyloid clearance was the appearance of microhemorrhages and increased vascular amyloid deposition. Additional clinical trials with passive immunotherapy confirmed occasional appearance of microhemorrhage and occurrence of vasogenic edema in some patients, particularly those with the apolipoprotein E4 genotype. Recent data with positron emission tomography demonstrates trial participants passively immunized with anti-Aβ antibodies have reduced signals with amyloid binding ligands after 18 mo of therapy. Several anti-Aβ immunotherapies have reached phase 3 testing and immunotherapy is likely to be the first test of the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Identifying antibody variants that retain amyloid clearance with fewer adverse reactions remains a major focus of translational research in this area.
Alzheimer’s disease; antibody; transgenic mice; microhemorrhage
Living systems have three major types of cell signaling systems that are dependent upon high-energy chemicals, redox environment and transmembranal ion gating mechanisms. Development of integrated systems biology descriptions of cell signaling require conceptual models incorporating all three. Recent advances in redox biology show that thiol/disulfide redox systems are regulated under dynamic, non-equilibrium conditions, progressively oxidized with the life cycle of cells and distinct in terms of redox potentials among subcellular compartments. The present article uses these observations as a basis to distinguish “redox-sensing” mechanisms, which are more global biologic redox control mechanisms, from “redox signaling”, which involves conveyance of discrete activating or inactivating signals. Both redox sensing and redox signaling use sulfur switches, especially cysteine (Cys) residues in proteins which are sensitive to reversible oxidation, nitrosylation, glutathionylation, acylation, sulfhydration or metal binding. Unlike specific signaling mechanisms, the redox-sensing mechanisms provide means to globally affect the rates and activities of the high-energy, ion gating and redox-signaling systems by controlling sensitivity, distribution, macromolecular interactions and mobility of signaling proteins. Effects mediated through Cys residues not directly involved in signaling means redox-sensing control can be orthogonal to the signaling mechanisms. This provides a capability to integrate signals according to cell cycle and physiologic state without fundamentally altering the signaling mechanisms. Recent findings that thiol/disulfide pools in humans are oxidized with age, environmental exposures and disease risk suggest that redox-sensing thiols could provide a central mechanistic link in disease development and progression.
Redox signaling; oxidative stress; glutathione; thioredoxin; apoptosis; cell cycle
A genetic predisposition has been recognized for paragangliomas and adrenal or extra-adrenal pheochromocytomas was recognized years ago. Well known syndromes associated with an increased risk of pheochromocytoma include Von Hippel Lindau disease, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, and neurofibromatosis type 1 and are discussed elsewhere. The study of inherited predisposition to head and neck paragangliomas led to the discovery of three genes encoding subunits of the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) enzyme (SDHB, SDHC and SDHD) thus opening an unexpected connection between mitochondrial tumour suppressor genes and neural crest-derived cancers. In this review we summarize the most recent knowledge about the role of SDH in tumorigenesis, including spectrum and prevalence of mutations, related phenotypes, and the biological hypotheses attempting to explain tumorigenesis, as well as current questions and ongoing research.
Succinate dehydrogenase; neuroendocrine tumours; tumour suppressor genes
Several important advances have been made over the last 2 years, since the last international workshop on multiple endocrine neoplasias (MENs) that was held in Marseilles, France (MEN2006). The series of articles that are included in this issue summarize the most important of these advances as they were presented in Delphi, Greece, during the 11th International Workshop on MENs, September 25–27, 2008 (MEN2008). This editorial summarizes some of these advances: the identification of the AIP, and the PDE11A and PDE8B genes by genome-wide association (GWA) studies as predisposing genes for pituitary and adrenal tumours, respectively, the discovery of p27 mutations in a new form of MEN similar to MEN type 1 (MEN 1) that is now known as MEN 4, the molecular investigations of Carney triad (CT), a disorder that associates paragangliomas (PGLs), gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GISTs), and pulmonary chondromas (PCH) with pheochromocytomas and adrenocortical adenomas and other lesions, and the molecular elucidation of the association of GISTs with paragangliomas (Carney–Stratakis syndrome) that is now known to be because of SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD mutations. Molecular investigations in Carney complex (another MEN also described by Dr. Carney, who during the meeting, along with Dr. Charles E. (‘Gene’) Jackson was honoured for his life-long and many contributions to the field) have also revealed the role of cyclic AMP signalling in tumorigenesis. As our knowledge of the molecular causes of MENs increases, the challenge is to translate these discoveries in better treatments for our patients. Indeed, new advances in the preventive diagnosis and molecular treatment of MEN 1 and MEN 2, respectively, continued unabated, and an update on this front was also presented at MEN2008 and is included in this issue.
Carney triad (CT) describes the association of paragangliomas (PGLs) with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) and pulmonary chondromas (PCH). A number of other lesions have been described in the condition including pheochromocytomas, oesophageal leiomyomas and adrenocortical adenomas; CT is a novel form of multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN), a genetic condition with a female predilection. Inactivating mutations of the mitochondrial complex II succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) enzyme subunits SDHB, SDHC and SDHD have been found in familial and sporadic PGLs, and gain-of-function mutations of the oncogenes c-kit (KIT) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor A (PDGFRA) cause sporadic and familial GISTs. We recently reported an international series of patients with CT, 34 females and three males (median age of presentation 21 years) who did not carry SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, KIT or PDGFRA gene mutations. Comparative genomic hybridization revealed a number of DNA copy number changes. The most frequent and greatest contiguous change was a deletion within the 1pcen13-q21 region, which harbours the SDHC gene. Another frequent change was loss of 1p. Although GISTs showed more frequent losses of 1p than PGLs, the pattern of chromosomal changes was similar in the two tumours despite their different tissue origin and histology; the findings were consistent with a common genetic aetiology of these two tumours in CT. In a separate condition, in which the association (or dyad) of GISTs with PGLs is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner (Carney–Stratakis syndrome, CSS), germline mutations of the SDHB, SDHC and SDHD genes (but not KIT or PDFGRA) were found; GISTs in this condition were caused by SDH deficiency. We conclude that CT is a novel MEN syndrome whose genetic defect remains elusive. CSS is caused by SDH defects, suggesting that sarcomas (GISTs) can be caused by defective mitochondrial oxidation, consistent with recent data implicating this enzyme in a variety of endocrine and other tumours. The above have clinical implications (i) for patients with GISTs that are cKIT- and PDGFRA-mutation negative: these tumours are usually resistant to treatment with currently available tyrosine kinase inhibitors and may be part of a syndrome such as CT or CSS; and (ii) for patients with an inherited PGL syndrome, family history should be explored to identify any other tumours in the family, and in particular other endocrine lesions and GISTs.
Loewendorf A, Benedict CA (La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, CA, USA). Modulation of host innate and adaptive immune defenses by cytomegalovirus: timing is everything (Symposium).
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) (HHV-5, a β-herpesvirus) causes the vast majority of infection-related congenital birth defects, and can trigger severe disease in immune suppressed individuals. The high prevalence of societal infection, the establishment of lifelong persistence and the growing number of immune-related diseases where HCMV is touted as a potential promoter is slowly heightening public awareness to this virus. The millions of years of co-evolution between CMV and the immune system of its host provides for a unique opportunity to study immune defense strategies, and pathogen counterstrategies. Dissecting the timing of the cellular and molecular processes that regulate innate and adaptive immunity to this persistent virus has revealed a complex defense network that is shaped by CMV immune modulation, resulting in a finely tuned host–pathogen relationship.
cytokines; herpes virus; immunity; immunology; infectious disease; virology