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1.  Killing of Staphylococcus aureus in murine macrophages by chloroquine used alone and in combination with ciprofloxacin or azithromycin 
This study aimed to determine any alteration in the killing of Staphylococcus aureus in murine peritoneal macrophages when chloroquine (CQ) is used alone compared with when it is used in combination with ciprofloxacin (CIP) or azithromycin (AZM). The study also aimed to find out the implication of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and cytokine release in the intracellular killing of S. aureus in macrophages. We present here data obtained with a model of S. aureus-infected mouse peritoneal macrophages in which the intracellular growth of the bacteria and the influence of antibiotics was monitored for 30, 60, and 90 minutes in the presence or absence of CQ along with the production of ROS and alteration in levels of antioxidant enzymes and cytokines. It was observed that S. aureus-triggered cytokine response was regulated when macrophages were co-cultured with CQ and AZM as compared with CQ stimulation only. It can be suggested that action of AZM in mediating bacterial killing is enhanced by the presence of CQ, indicating enhanced uptake of AZM during early infection that may be essential for bacteria killing by AZM. Reduction of oxidative stress burden on the S. aureus-infected macrophages may pave the way for better killing of internalized S. aureus by CQ plus ciprofloxacin (CIP) or CQ plus AZM. Based on these observations, one may speculate that in an inflammatory milieu, CQ loaded with AZM elicits a stronger proinflammatory response by increasing the intracellular uptake of AZM or CIP, thus enabling the immune system to mount a more robust and prolonged response against intracellular pathogens.
PMCID: PMC4309780  PMID: 25653549
azithromycin; ciprofloxacin; intracellular survival
2.  Targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome in chronic inflammatory diseases: current perspectives 
The inflammasome is a molecular platform formed by activation of an innate immune pattern recognition receptor seed, such as NLRP3. Once activated, NLRP3 recruits the adapter ASC (apoptosis-related speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain), which in turn recruits procaspase-1. Procaspase-1 autocatalyzes its cleavage and activation, resulting in maturation of the precursor forms of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 into active proinflammatory cytokines and initiation of pyroptotic cell death. The NLRP3 inflammasome has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a wide variety of diseases, including genetically inherited autoinflammatory conditions as well as chronic diseases in which NLRP3 is abnormally activated. The NLRP3 inflammasome has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, and age-related macular degeneration. In this review, we describe the NLRP3 inflammasome complex and its activation in disease, and detail the current therapies that modulate either the NLRP3 inflammasome complex itself or the two cytokines it is responsible for activating, ie, IL-1β and IL-18.
PMCID: PMC4303395  PMID: 25653548
NLRP3; interleukin-1; interleukin-18; caspase-1; therapeutics; inflammasome
3.  An extract of the medicinal plant Artemisia annua modulates production of inflammatory markers in activated neutrophils 
To investigate the ability of a commercial extract from the medicinal plant Artemisia annua to modulate production of the cytokine, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and the cyclooxygenase (COX) inflammatory marker, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in activated neutrophils.
Neutrophils were harvested from rat whole blood and cultured in the presence of plant extract or control samples. Neutrophils, except unactivated control cells, were activated with 10 μg/mL lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The cells were cultured with a range of different concentrations of the A. annua extracts (400–1 μg/mL) and artemisinin (200 and 100 μg/mL) and the supernatants were then tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the concentrations of TNF-α and PGE2. Each sample was assayed in triplicate. Positive controls with an inhibitor were assayed in triplicate: chloroquine 2.58 and 5.16 μg/mL for TNF-α, and ibuprofen 400 μg/mL for PGE2. An unsupplemented group was also assessed in triplicate as a baseline control.
Neutrophils were stimulated to an inflammatory state by the addition of LPS. A. annua extract significantly inhibited TNF-α production by activated neutrophils in a dose-dependent manner. There was complete inhibition by the A. annua extract at 200, 100, and 50 μg/mL (all P≤0.0003). At A. annua extract concentrations of 25, 10, and 5 μg/mL, TNF-α production was inhibited by 89% (P<0.0001), 54% (P=0.0002), and 38% (P=0.0014), respectively. A. annua 1 μg/mL did not significantly inhibit TNF-α production (8.8%; P>0.05). Concentrations of 400, 200, and 100 μg/mL A. annua extract significantly inhibited PGE2 production by 87% (P=0.0128), 91% (P=0.0017), and 93% (P=0.0114), respectively.
An extract of A. annua was shown to be a potent inhibitor of TNF-α and a strong inhibitor of PGE2 production in activated neutrophils at the concentrations tested. Further studies are warranted with this promising plant extract.
PMCID: PMC4298291  PMID: 25609991
in vitro; TNF-α; COX-2; PGE2; artemisinin; Arthrem
4.  Effects of Wharton’s jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells on neonatal neutrophils 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been proposed as autologous therapy for inflammatory diseases in neonates. MSCs from umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly (WJ-MSCs) are accessible, with high proliferative capacity. The effects of WJ-MSCs on neutrophil activity in neonates are not known. We compared the effects of WJ-MSCs on apoptosis and the expression of inflammatory, oxidant, and antioxidant mediators in adult and neonatal neutrophils.
WJ-MSCs were isolated, and their purity and function were confirmed by flow cytometry. Neutrophils were isolated from cord and adult blood by density centrifugation. The effects of neutrophil/WJ-MSC co-culture on apoptosis and gene and protein expression were measured.
WJ-MSCs suppressed neutrophil apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. WJ-MSCs decreased gene expression of NADPH oxidase-1 in both adult and neonatal neutrophils, but decreased heme oxygenase-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor and increased catalase and cyclooxygenase-2 in the presence of lipopolysaccharide only in adult cells. Similarly, generation of interleukin-8 was suppressed in adult but not neonatal neutrophils. Thus, WJ-MSCs dampened oxidative, vascular, and inflammatory activity by adult neutrophils, but neonatal neutrophils were less responsive. Conversely, Toll-like receptor-4, and cyclooxygenase-2 were upregulated in WJ-MSCs only in the presence of adult neutrophils, suggesting an inflammatory MSC phenotype that is not induced by neonatal neutrophils.
Whereas WJ-MSCs altered gene expression in adult neutrophils in ways suggesting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, these responses were attenuated in neonatal cells. In contrast, inflammatory gene expression in WJ-MSCs was increased in the presence of adult but not neonatal neutrophils. These effects should be considered in clinical trial design before WJ-MSC-based therapy is used in infants.
PMCID: PMC4317142
inflammation; umbilical cord; apoptosis; neutrophil; mesenchymal stem cells
5.  Differential NF-κB and MAPK activation underlies fluoride- and TPA-mediated CXCL8 (IL-8) induction in lung epithelial cells 
Different toxic agents have a varying potential to induce the production of the proinflammatory chemokine, CXCL8 (interleukin [IL]-8), in lung cells. A critical question is which mechanisms determine the magnitude and persistence of the CXCL8 responses to different stimuli. To approach this, we compared the potential of the phorbol ester, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), and sodium fluoride (NaF) to induce CXCL8 responses in A549 cells, with emphasis on the importance of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)- and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Notably, TPA induced a greater release of CXCL8 than did NaF. Furthermore, TPA induced a strong, rapid, but transient upregulation of CXCL8 messenger (m)RNA, whereas NaF induced a weaker, more delayed, but persistent upregulation. With respect to signaling, TPA led to an early, strong, and relatively transient extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 phosphorylation, and a less marked and even more transient phosphorylation of c-jun-N-terminal kinases (JNK1/2) and p38. In contrast, NaF elicited a lower, but relatively sustained increase in phosphorylation of ERK1/2, and a marked phosphorylation of p38 and JNK1/2, with the JNK1/2 response as most transient. Only ERK1/2 inhibition affected the TPA response, whereas inhibition of all the three MAPK cascades reduced NaF-induced CXCL8 release. TPA also induced an early, marked phosphorylation/translocation of p65 (NF-κB), whereas NaF induced slower, less pronounced effects on p65. The CXCL8 responses by TPA and NaF were reduced by p65-siRNA. In conclusion, all MAPK cascades were involved in NaF-induced CXCL8 release, whereas only ERK1/2 activation was involved in response to TPA. Furthermore, NF-κB activation appeared to be indispensable for CXCL8 induction. The early response, magnitude, and persistency of MAPK and NF-κB signaling seemed to be critical determinants for the potential to induce CXCL8. These findings underscore that a strong, rapid, and relatively transient activation of ERK1/2 in combination with NF-kB may be sufficient for a strong induction of CXCL8, which may exceed the effects of a more moderate ERK1/2 activation in combination with activation of p38, JNK1/2, and NF-κB.
PMCID: PMC4270361  PMID: 25540590
TPA; sodium fluoride; CXCL8; MAPK; NF-κB; A549 cells
6.  Inhibiting TNF-α signaling does not attenuate induction of endotoxin tolerance 
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) is a central mediator of inflammatory responses elicited by Toll-like receptor agonists, such as the Gram-negative bacterial outer membrane antigen lipopolysaccharide (LPS). TNF-α is responsible for altering vascular permeability and activating infiltrating inflammatory cells, such as monocytes and neutrophils. Interestingly, TNF-α has also demonstrated the ability to induce tolerance to subsequent challenges with TNF-α or LPS in monocyte and macrophage cell populations. Tolerance is characterized by the inability to mount a typical inflammatory response during subsequent challenges following the initial exposure to an inflammatory mediator such as LPS. The ability of TNF-α to induce a tolerant-like state with regard to LPS is most likely a regulatory mechanism to prevent excessive inflammation. We hypothesized that the induction of tolerance or the degree of tolerance is dependent upon the production of TNF-α during the primary response to LPS. To investigate TNF-α-dependent tolerance, human monocytic THP-1 cells were treated with TNF-α-neutralizing antibodies or antagonistic TNF-α receptor antibodies before primary LPS stimulation and then monitored for the production of TNF-α during the primary and challenge stimulation. During the primary stimulation, anti-TNF-α treatment effectively attenuated the production of TNF-α and interleukin-1β; however, this reduced production did not impact the induction of endotoxin tolerance. These results demonstrate that interfering with TNF-α signaling attenuates production of inflammatory cytokines without affecting the induction of tolerance.
PMCID: PMC4259568  PMID: 25506235
endotoxin tolerance; lipopolysaccharide; tumor necrosis factor-alpha; anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha; THP-1 cells
7.  β-glycosphingolipids ameliorated non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in the Psammomys obesus model 
Liver steatosis is a common characteristic of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease is increasingly recognized as a major health burden. Accumulating evidence suggests that β-glycosphingolipids play an important role in insulin sensitivity and thus could affect hepatic steatosis. To determine the effect associated with β-glycosphingolipid-mediated amelioration of liver injury, seven groups of Psammomys obesus on a high-energy diet were studied. Animals were treated with daily injections of β-glucosylceramide, β-lactosylceramide, or a combination of both. β-glycosphingolipids ameliorated the hepatic injury manifested by decreased liver enzymes, liver weight, and hepatic fat, and improved liver histology. Administration of both β-glucosylceramide and β-lactosylceramide also decreased interferon (IFN)-γ serum levels. These effects were associated with improved serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These data suggest that β-glycosphingolipids ameliorate liver injury in an animal model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
PMCID: PMC4200037  PMID: 25336983
NAFLD; glycolipids; STAT; NASH; insulin resistance; diabetes
8.  Systemic administration of 6-OHDA to rhesus monkeys upregulates HLA-DR expression in brain microvasculature 
We recently developed a nonhuman primate model of cardiac dysautonomia by systemic dosing of the catecholaminergic neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). The aim of this study was to assess whether systemic 6-OHDA affects the central nervous system of nonhuman primates, in particular the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system.
Brain sections from adult rhesus monkeys that received systemic 6-OHDA (50 mg/kg intravenously; n=5) and were necropsied 3 months later, as well as normal controls (n=5) were used in this study. Tissue was cut frozen at 40 μm on a sliding microtome, processed for immunohistochemistry, and blindly evaluated.
Neither the optical density of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity (TH-ir; a dopaminergic neuronal marker) in the caudate and putamen nucleus nor the TH-ir cell number and volume in the substantia nigra showed significant differences between groups. Yet within groups, statistical analysis revealed significant individual differences in the 6-OHDA-treated group, with two animals showing a lower cell count and volume. Optical density quantification of α-synuclein-ir in the substantia nigra did not show differences between groups. As α-synuclein intracellular distribution was noted to vary between animals, it was further evaluated with a semiquantitative scale. A greater intensity and presence of α-synuclein-positive nigral cell bodies was associated with larger TH-positive nigral cell volumes. Increased human leukocyte antigen (HLA-DR; a microglial marker) expression was observed in 6-OHDA-treated animals compared with controls. HLA-DR-ir was primarily localized in endothelial cells and perivascular spaces throughout cortical and subcortical structures. Semiquantitative evaluation using a rating scale revealed higher HLA-DR-ir in blood vessels of 6-OHDA-treated animals than controls, specifically in animals with the lowest number of dopaminergic nigral neurons.
Our results demonstrate that systemic 6-OHDA administration to rhesus monkeys can affect the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system and upregulate inflammatory markers in the cerebrovasculature that persist 3 months post neurotoxin challenge. The variability of the subject response suggests differences in individual sensitivity to 6-OHDA.
PMCID: PMC4173661  PMID: 25258551
6-hydroxydopamine; blood–brain barrier; nonhuman primates; neuroinflammation; parkinsonism
9.  NFκB activation in cutaneous lesions of leprosy is associated with development of multibacillary infection 
Nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) transcription factors play a central role in controlling the expression of genes involved in inflammatory reactions, proliferation, and survival of human cells. However, the in situ evaluation of NFκB activity in leprosy has not been completed previously. The aim of this study was to determine whether NFκB activity correlates with susceptibility or resistance to Mycobacterium leprae infection in biopsies from skin lesions of 38 patients with the clinical and laboratory diagnosis of leprosy.
The NFκB activation profile was evaluated in biopsies from skin lesions of 38 patients with the clinical and laboratory diagnosis of leprosy. NFκB activation was evaluated and quantified by Southwestern histochemistry, and its activation index (range, 0–4) was calculated according to the percentage of nuclear positivity by the histochemistry. Activation index >1 was considered representative of activation of NFκB.
Fifteen patients (39.5%) demonstrated activated NFκB. Multibacillary leprosy was associated with activated NFκB (54.5%, P=0.028). Borderline leprosy was most strongly associated with NFκB activation (80%), with an odds ratio of 32.7 (P=0.016). These clinical forms are characterized by increased susceptibility to M. leprae and by immunological instability. Activation of NFκB was absent in the granulomas in tuberculoid leprosy, which represents an effective inflammatory reaction pattern against M. leprae.
These results indicate that NFκB activation could favor susceptibility and immunological instability to M. leprae infection, potentially by the stimulation of phagocytosis and the regulation of apoptotic mechanisms of infected cells, leading to the proliferation of this intracellular bacillus. Further studies are needed to evaluate if inhibition of NFκB activation in multibacillary leprosy could favor resistance and an effective granulomatous immune response.
PMCID: PMC4173660  PMID: 25258550
transcription factors; nuclear factor kappa B; immunomodulation; Mycobacterium leprae; leprosy resistance; leprosy susceptibility
10.  Generation and characterization of tabalumab, a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes both soluble and membrane-bound B-cell activating factor 
B-cell activating factor (BAFF) is a B-cell survival factor with a key role in B-cell homeostasis and tolerance. Dysregulated BAFF expression may contribute to autoimmune diseases or B-cell malignancies via effects on abnormal B-lymphocyte activation, proliferation, survival, and immunoglobulin secretion. Monoclonal antibodies were generated against human BAFF, characterized for species specificity and affinity, and screened for the ability to neutralize both membrane-bound and soluble BAFF. In addition, studies were undertaken to determine the relative potency of membrane-bound and soluble BAFF. Tabalumab has a high affinity for human, cynomolgus monkey, and rabbit BAFF. No binding to mouse BAFF was detected. Tabalumab was able to neutralize soluble human, cynomolgus monkey, or rabbit BAFF with equal potency. Our data demonstrate that membrane-bound BAFF can be a more potent stimulus for B-cells than soluble BAFF, and tabalumab also neutralized membrane-bound BAFF. Tabalumab prevented BAFF from binding to BAFF receptors and demonstrated pharmacodynamic effects in human BAFF transgenic mice. Tabalumab is a high-affinity human antibody with neutralizing activity against membrane-bound and soluble BAFF. Given our findings that membrane-bound BAFF can have greater in vitro potency than soluble BAFF, neutralization of both forms of BAFF is likely to be important for optimal therapeutic effect.
PMCID: PMC4173659  PMID: 25258549
autoimmunity; B-cell malignancies; B-cell survival factor; BAFF
11.  Effect of plant extracts on H2O2-induced inflammatory gene expression in macrophages 
Arctium lappa (AL), Camellia sinensis (CS), Echinacea angustifolia, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Panax ginseng (PG), and Vaccinium myrtillus (VM) are plants traditionally used in many herbal formulations for the treatment of various conditions. Although they are well known and already studied for their anti-inflammatory properties, their effects on H2O2-stimulated macrophages are a novel area of study.
Materials and methods
Cell viability was tested after treatment with increasing doses of H2O2 and/or plant extracts at different times of incubation to identify the optimal experimental conditions. The messenger (m)RNA expression of TNFα, COX2, IL1β, NFκB1, NFκB2, NOS2, NFE2L2, and PPARγ was analyzed in macrophages under H2O2 stimulation. The same genes were also quantified after plant extract treatment on cells pre-stimulated with H2O2.
A noncytotoxic dose (200 μM) of H2O2 induced active mRNA expression of COX2, IL1β, NFE2L2, NFκB1, NFκB2, NOS2, and TNFα, while PPARγ was depressed. The expression of all genes tested was significantly (P<0.001) regulated by plant extracts after pre-stimulation with H2O2. COX2 was downregulated by AL, PG, and VM. All extracts depressed IL1β expression, but upregulated NFE2L2. NFκB1, NFκB2, and TNFα were downregulated by AL, CS, PG, and VM. NOS2 was inhibited by CS, PG, and VM. PPARγ was decreased only after treatment with E. angustifolia and E. senticosus.
The results of the present study indicate that the stimulation of H2O2 on RAW267.4 cells induced the transcription of proinflammatory mediators, showing that this could be an applicable system by which to activate macrophages. Plant extracts from AL, CS, PG, and VM possess in vitro anti-inflammatory activity on H2O2-stimulated macrophages by modulating key inflammation mediators. Further in vitro and in vivo investigation into molecular mechanisms modulated by herbal extracts should be undertaken to shed light on the development of novel modulating therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC4106015  PMID: 25075197
inflammation; qRT-PCR; RAW264.7 cells; nutraceuticals
12.  Inflammatory bowel disease: clinical aspects and treatments 
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is defined as a chronic intestinal inflammation that results from host-microbial interactions in a genetically susceptible individual. IBDs are a group of autoimmune diseases that are characterized by inflammation of both the small and large intestine, in which elements of the digestive system are attacked by the body’s own immune system. This inflammatory condition encompasses two major forms, known as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients affected by these diseases experience abdominal symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stools, and vomiting. Moreover, defects in intestinal epithelial barrier function have been observed in a number of patients affected by IBD. In this review, we first describe the types and symptoms of IBD and investigate the role that the epithelial barrier plays in the pathophysiology of IBD as well as the major cytokines involved. We then discuss steps used to diagnose this disease and the treatment options available, and finally provide an overview of the recent research that aims to develop new therapies for such chronic disorders.
PMCID: PMC4106026  PMID: 25075198
inflammatory bowel disease; Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; cytokines
13.  Epigallocatechin-3-gallate suppresses proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines induced by Toll-like receptor 9 agonists in prostate cancer cells 
Chronic inflammation of the prostate contributes to the increased risk of prostate cancer. Microbial pathogens in the prostate cause inflammation that leads to prostatitis and proliferative inflammatory atrophy frequently associated with the development of prostate cancer. Bacterial lipopolysaccharides and DNA mediate immune responses by engaging Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and 9, respectively. Synthetic oligodeoxynucleotides containing CpG motifs (CpG-ODN) mimic bacterial DNA and signal through TLR9 to initiate innate immune responses. Here, we show that stimulation of DU145, PC3, or LnCap prostate cancer cells by the TLR9 agonists, CpG-ODN, induces mRNA expression of IL-6, IL-8, CXCL1, IP-10, CCL5, and TGFβ. In addition, activity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and -2 and cell migration increased on CpG-ODN treatment. Induction of cytokines and chemokines was mediated by NF-κB activation and translocation to the nucleus. Treatment with epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the major constituent of green tea, prior to CpG-ODN stimulation, inhibits cytokine and chemokine gene induction, activity of MMP-9 and -2, and cell migration. EGCG treatment sequesters the p65 subunit of transcription factor NF-κB in the cytoplasm and inhibits transcriptional activity of the NF-κB-driven promoter in response to CpG-ODN. Our results suggest that the ability of the TLR9 agonists, CpG-ODN, to induce cytokines, chemokines, and MMP activity, as well as suppression by EGCG are independent of the androgen receptor and p53 status of the cells. EGCG may provide protective effects against inflammation in the prostate and benefit prostate cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC4070858  PMID: 24971028
CpG-ODN; EGCG; inflammation; NF-κB
14.  Vitamin D and inflammatory diseases 
Beyond its critical function in calcium homeostasis, vitamin D has recently been found to play an important role in the modulation of the immune/inflammation system via regulating the production of inflammatory cytokines and inhibiting the proliferation of proinflammatory cells, both of which are crucial for the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases. Several studies have associated lower vitamin D status with increased risk and unfavorable outcome of acute infections. Vitamin D supplementation bolsters clinical responses to acute infection. Moreover, chronic inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and others, tend to have lower vitamin D status, which may play a pleiotropic role in the pathogenesis of the diseases. In this article, we review recent epidemiological and interventional studies of vitamin D in various inflammatory diseases. The potential mechanisms of vitamin D in regulating immune/inflammatory responses in inflammatory diseases are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC4070857  PMID: 24971027
asthma; atherosclerosis; chronic kidney disease; inflammatory bowel disease
15.  Prostacyclin mediates endothelial COX-2-dependent neuroprotective effects during excitotoxic brain injury 
In a previous study, we found that intracerebral administration of excitotoxin (RS)-(tetrazole-5yl) glycine caused increased neural damage in the brain in an endothelial COX-2 deleted mouse line (Tie2Cre COX-2flox/flox). In this study, we investigated whether prostacyclin might mediate this endothelial COX-2-dependent neuroprotection. Administration of excitotoxin into the striatum induced the production of prostacyclin (PGI2) in wild type, but not in endothelial COX-2 deleted mice. Inhibition of PGI2 synthase exacerbated brain lesions induced by the excitotoxin in wild type, but not in endothelial COX-2 deleted mice. Administration of a PGI2 agonist reduced neural damage in both wild type and endothelial COX-2 deleted mice. Increased PGI2 synthase expression was found in infiltrating neutrophils. In an ex vivo assay, PGI2 reduced the excitotoxin-induced calcium influx into neurons, suggesting a cellular mechanism for PGI2 mediated neuroprotection. These results reveal that PGI2 mediates endothelial COX-2 dependent neuroprotection.
PMCID: PMC4070856  PMID: 24971026
neural injury; prostaglandins; neutrophil; conditional COX-2 deletion; PGI2
16.  Seasonal changes in nasal cytology in mite-allergic patients 
House dust mites (HDMs) are a major cause of allergic rhinitis (AR) and asthma worldwide. Recent studies suggested that the allergen load presents seasonal modifications, giving rise to seasonal variation in nasal inflammation and symptoms. The aim of this study was to evaluate by nasal cytology whether nasal inflammation in mite-allergic patients changes with the seasons of the year.
The study included 16 patients (seven males and nine females, mean age 38.1 years) with persistent AR caused by monosensitization to HDMs. Nasal cytology was performed in all patients once monthly for 1 year.
Nasal cytology showed that the cells most commonly detected in the nasal mucosa were neutrophils. During the period from October to April, a peak in the number of neutrophils and also the presence of significant numbers of eosinophils, mast cells, and lymphocytes/plasma cells were found, which shows the occurrence of more intense inflammation during these months.
Nasal cytology provides useful data in detecting nasal inflammation and its association with the clinical stage of AR. The seasonal variations in nasal cytology are likely to be induced by the fluctuations in the HDM allergen that have been uncovered in recent investigations.
PMCID: PMC3977553  PMID: 24715761
allergens; allergic rhinitis; house dust mite; nasal inflammation
17.  High-sensitivity C-reactive protein and exercise-induced changes in subjects suspected of coronary artery disease 
Inflammation plays a major role in the development of atherosclerosis. We wanted to investigate the effects of exercise on high-sensitivity (hs) C-reactive protein (CRP) in subjects who were suspected of having coronary artery disease (CAD).
Blood samples were obtained before, 5 minutes after, and 20 hours after an exercise test in 155 subjects who were suspected of CAD. Coronary anatomy was evaluated by computed tomography coronary angiography and/or coronary angiography.
Median baseline hs-CRP was higher in subjects with ≥50% coronary artery lumen diameter stenosis (n=41), compared with non-CAD-subjects (n=114), 2.93 mg/L (interquartile range 1.03–5.06 mg/L) and 1.30 mg/L (interquartile range 0.76–2.74 mg/L), respectively, P=0.007. In multivariate analyses testing conventional risk factors, hs-CRP proved borderline significant, odds ratio =2.32, P=0.065. Adding baseline hs-CRP to the results of the exercise test did not improve the diagnostic evaluation. Baseline natural logarithm (Ln) hs-CRP was positively associated with body mass index and baseline Ln-transformed hs troponin T levels, and negatively associated with the daily life activity level. An increase in hs-CRP of 0.13 mg/L (interquartile range 0.05–0.24 mg/L) from baseline to 5 minutes after peak exercise was found (P<0.0001), but the increase was not associated with presence of CAD. From baseline to 20 hours after exercise, no increase in hs-CRP was found.
In conclusion, hs-CRP was not independently associated with CAD. Hs-CRP increased immediately as a response to the exercise, and the increase was modest and not associated with CAD. The results indicate that exercise has potential to cause unwanted variations in hs-CRP and that exercise prior to hs-CRP measurements in subjects included in epidemiological studies, therefore, should be avoided.
PMCID: PMC3977554  PMID: 24715762
inflammation; stable angina pectoris; atherosclerosis; exercise testing
18.  Systemic sensitization with the protein allergen ovalbumin augments local sensitization in atopic dermatitis 
Mouse models of atopic dermatitis based on epicutaneous sensitization have shed light on the role of epicutaneous allergen entry in the development of respiratory and gastrointestinal allergy. However, the contribution of non-cutaneous modes of sensitization to skin diseases has not been evaluated. We assessed if systemic ovalbumin administration, in conjunction with local sensitization, could prime for a robust inflammatory response. Furthermore, we attempted to elucidate important aspects of disease pathogenesis previously unaddressed in mouse models. Mice that underwent intraperitoneal ovalbumin sensitization prior to epicutaneous challenge demonstrated an acute (Th2-polarized) atopic dermatitis-like phenotype upon local challenge. The inflammatory response was strikingly more robust than in mice that underwent epicutaneous sensitization alone. The lesional infiltrate contained a dendritic cell population that corresponded phenotypically with inflammatory dendritic epidermal cells of significance in human disease. Finally, in accordance with observations in human atopic dermatitis, there was an increase in cluster of differentiation (CD) 103 (αE subunit)-expressing CD4+ T lymphocytes. However, the absence of CD103 on approximately 50% of infiltrating cells argues against a primary role for the αEβ7 integrin in tissue homing. In conclusion, we present a mouse model of atopic dermatitis that reveals novel insights into the pathogenesis of this complex disease.
PMCID: PMC3959805  PMID: 24672255
atopic dermatitis; mouse model; ovalbumin; sensitization; Th2; dendritic cells
19.  Alemtuzumab in the treatment of multiple sclerosis 
Alemtuzumab (formerly known as Campath-1H) has recently been approved by the European Medicines Agency for highly-active, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). The molecule targets the CD52 surface glycoprotein on certain T cells and B cells and is thought to exert its effect in MS through a “resetting” of the lymphocyte population. Approval was granted on the strength of two pivotal studies, Comparison of Alemtuzumab and Rebif® Efficacy in Multiple Sclerosis (CARE-MS)-1 in the first-line setting and CARE-MS-2 in patients who had failed first-line therapy. In both studies, alemtuzumab significantly reduced the relapse rate compared to the comparator, interferon beta-1a (44 μg) given subcutaneously three-times per week (Rebif®). In the first-line study, alemtuzumab was also found to significantly reduce the number of patients with sustained progression compared to interferon beta-1a therapy. Autoimmune disorders represent the major side effect of alemtuzumab therapy although they can be managed by careful monitoring and early treatment. Overall, alemtuzumab is likely to be a valuable addition to the neurologist’s armamentarium for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS.
PMCID: PMC3959804  PMID: 24672254
alemtuzumab; multiple sclerosis; new therapies; interferon beta-1a; monoclonal antibody; treatment
20.  High-intensity interval training induces a modest systemic inflammatory response in active, young men 
The purpose of this study was to determine: 1) the extent to which an acute session of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) increases systemic inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and 2) whether 2 weeks of HIIT training alters the inflammatory response. Eight recreationally active males (aged 22±2 years) performed 2 weeks of HIIT on a cycle ergometer (six HIIT sessions at 8–12 intervals; 60-second intervals, 75-second active rest) at a power output equivalent to 100% of their predetermined peak oxygen uptake (VO2max). Serum samples were collected during the first and sixth HIIT sessions at rest and immediately, 15, 30, and 45 minutes post-exercise. An acute session of HIIT induced significant increases in interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-α, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 compared with rest. The concentrations of interferon-γ, granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor, and IL-1β were unaltered with an acute session of HIIT Two weeks of training did not alter the inflammatory response to an acute bout of HIIT exercise. Maximal power achieved during a VO2max test significantly increased 4.6%, despite no improvements in VO2max after 2 weeks of HIIT. These data suggest that HIIT exercise induces a small inflammatory response in young, recreationally active men; however, 2 weeks of HIIT does not alter this response.
PMCID: PMC3920540  PMID: 24520199
cycle ergometer; inflammatory cytokines; exercise training
21.  Circulating levels of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and interleukin-7 in women who have undergone bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy 
The aim of the study reported here was to determine the effect of surgical menopause by bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) on circulating levels of cytokines and chemokines related to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.
Patients and methods
A total of 110 women were recruited for this study from the outpatient clinic of our facility. We divided the women into three groups: 1) women with a regular menstrual cycle, 2) women in whom less than 5 years had passed since their BSO, and 3) women in whom 5 years or more had passed since their BSO. Concentrations of nine cytokines and chemokines in serum were measured.
The serum monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) level in women in whom less than 5 years had passed since their BSO was significantly higher than in women with a regular menstrual cycle (P<0.05). There were significant differences in serum interleukin (IL)-7 among the three groups (P=0.035). MCP-1 showed a significant positive correlation (r=0.320, P=0.008) with follicle-stimulating hormone in women with a regular menstrual cycle and in women in whom less than 5 years had passed since their BSO.
A hypoestrogenic state due to BSO induced changes in MCP-1 and IL-7 levels. MCP-1 level showed a significant increase in the early period after BSO, while IL-7 level showed a significant decrease in the late period after BSO.
PMCID: PMC3881980  PMID: 24399882
follicle-stimulating hormone; cytokines; chemokines; hypoestrogenism; surgical menopause
22.  Clinical utility of the oral JAK inhibitor tofacitinib in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 
Immune/inflammatory cells act in rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-affected patients by synthesizing several inflammatory mediators, including cytokines that initiate intracellular signaling. Recently, small molecule inhibitors of transduction and transcription signals that influence the intracellular pathways (such as the Janus kinase [JAK] family of tyrosine kinases) have been tested for RA treatment. Four members of the JAK family are known: JAK1, JAK2, JAK3, and TyK2. JAK1/JAK3 constitutively binds to the cytoplasmic portion of the cytokine receptor – the common gamma chain – that represents a common subunit of several cytokines involved in T-cell and natural killer cell development, as well as in B-cell activation. Tofacitinib is an oral JAK inhibitor that is now available and effective in RA treatment, as shown in multiple Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. However, long-term safety data and comparisons with other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and small molecule inhibitors are necessary to better determine the role of tofacitinib in RA.
PMCID: PMC3890964  PMID: 24453498
Janus kinase inhibitors; tofacitinib; rheumatoid arthritis; kinases; small molecules inhibitors; intracellular signaling
23.  Anti-inflammatory effects of budesonide in human lung fibroblast are independent of histone deacetylase 2 
Objective and design
Reduced expression of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) in alveolar macrophages and epithelial cells may account for reduced response of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients to glucocorticoids. HDAC2 expression and its role in mediating glucocorticoid effects on fibroblast functions, however, has not been fully studied. This study was designed to investigate whether HDAC2 mediates glucocorticoid effects on release of inflammatory cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) from human lung fibroblasts.
Human lung fibroblasts (HFL-1 cells) were stimulated with interleukin (IL)-1 β plus tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in the presence or absence of the glucocorticoid budesonide. Cytokines (IL-6 and IL-8) were quantified by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and MMPs (MMP-1 and MMP-3) by immunoblotting in culture medium. The role of HDAC2 was investigated using a pharmacologic inhibitor as well as a small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA) targeting HDAC2.
We have demonstrated that budesonide concentration-dependently (10−10–10−7 M) inhibited IL-6, IL-8, MMP-1, and MMP-3 release by HFL-1 cells in response to IL-1β plus TNF-α. While an HDAC inhibitor significantly blocked the inhibitory effect of budesonide on human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) and monocytes (THP-1 cells), it did not block the inhibitory effect of budesonide on release of cytokines and MMPs from HFL-1 cells. Similarly, an HDAC2-siRNA blocked budesonide inhibition of cytokine release in HBECs, but it did not block the inhibitory effect of budesonide on HFL-1 cytokine and MMP release. Furthermore, budesonide significantly blocked release of cytokines and MMPs to a similar degree in normal and COPD lung fibroblasts as well as in HFL-1 cells exposed or not exposed to cigarette smoke extract.
These findings suggest that, in contrast to airway epithelial cells and monocytes/macrophages, HDAC2 is not required for budesonide to inhibit MMP and cytokine release by lung fibroblasts and this inhibitory pathway appears to be intact in cultured fibroblasts from COPD patients. These results also suggest that budesonide has the potential to modulate fibroblast-mediated tissue remodeling following airway inflammation in COPD, which is mediated via an HDAC2 independent pathway.
PMCID: PMC3780291  PMID: 24062615
budesonide; fibroblasts; HDAC2
24.  The role of inflammation and interleukin-1 in acute cerebrovascular disease 
Acute cerebrovascular disease can affect people at all stages of life, from neonates to the elderly, with devastating consequences. It is responsible for up to 10% of deaths worldwide, is a major cause of disability, and represents an area of real unmet clinical need. Acute cerebrovascular disease is multifactorial with many mechanisms contributing to a complex pathophysiology. One of the major processes worsening disease severity and outcome is inflammation. Pro-inflammatory cytokines of the interleukin (IL)-1 family are now known to drive damaging inflammatory processes in the brain. The aim of this review is to discuss the recent literature describing the role of IL-1 in acute cerebrovascular disease and to provide an update on our current understanding of the mechanisms of IL-1 production. We also discuss the recent literature where the effects of IL-1 have been targeted in animal models, thus reviewing potential future strategies that may limit the devastating effects of acute cerebrovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3780292  PMID: 24062616
cerebral ischemia; stroke; inflammation; microglia; interleukin-1; caspase-1
25.  Estrogen modulates the influence of cardiac inflammatory cells on function of cardiac fibroblasts 
Inflammatory cells play a major role in the pathology of heart failure by stimulating cardiac fibroblasts to regulate the extracellular matrix in an adverse way. In view of the fact that inflammatory cells have estrogen receptors, we hypothesized that estrogen provides cardioprotection by decreasing the ability of cardiac inflammatory cells to influence fibroblast function.
Male rats were assigned to either an untreated or estrogen-treated group. In the treated group, estrogen was delivered for 2 weeks via a subcutaneous implanted pellet containing 17β-estradiol. A mixed population of cardiac inflammatory cells, including T-lymphocytes (about 70%), macrophages (about 12%), and mast cells (about 12%), was isolated from each rat and cultured in a Boyden chamber with cardiac fibroblasts from untreated adult male rats for 24 hours. To examine if tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) produced by inflammatory cells represents a mechanism contributing to the stimulatory effects of inflammatory cells on cardiac fibroblasts, inflammatory cells from the untreated group were incubated with cardiac fibroblasts in a Boyden chamber system for 24 hours in the presence of a TNF-α-neutralizing antibody. Cardiac fibroblasts were also incubated with 5 ng/mL of TNF-α for 24 hours. Fibro-blast proliferation, collagen synthesis, matrix metalloproteinase activity, β1 integrin protein levels, and the ability of fibroblasts to contract collagen gels were determined in all groups and statistically compared via one-way analysis of variance.
Inflammatory cells from the untreated group resulted in: 1) an increased fibroblast proliferation, collagen production and matrix metalloproteinase activity; and 2) a loss of β1 integrin protein and a reduced ability to contract collagen gels. In contrast, inflammatory cells from the treated group resulted in: 1) an attenuated fibroblast proliferation; 2) a nonsignificant reduction in collagen production; 3) the prevention of matrix metalloproteinase activation and the loss of β1 integrin by fibroblasts and 4) a preservation of the fibroblasts’ ability to contract collagen gels. The TNF-α neutralizing antibody attenuated or prevented the untreated inflammatory cell-induced fibroblast proliferation, collagen production, matrix metalloproteinase activation and loss of β1 integrin protein as well as preserved fibroblast contractile ability. Incubation with TNF-α yielded changes in the cardiac fibroblast parameters that were directionally similar to the results obtained with untreated inflammatory cells.
These results and those of our previous in vivo studies suggest that a major mechanism by which estrogen provides cardioprotection is its ability to modulate synthesis of TNF-α by inflammatory cells, thereby preventing inflammatory cell induction of cardiac fibroblast events that contribute to adverse extracellular matrix remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3780290  PMID: 24062614
tumor necrosis factor-alpha; neutralizing antibody; fibroblast proliferation; matrix metalloproteinase activity; β1 integrin; collagen gel contraction

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