This brief report summarizes Dr. Pao's talk at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Thomas L. Petty Aspen Lung Conference, in Aspen, Colorado, on June 11, 2011. In this talk, Dr. Pao discussed three main topics: (1) DETECT (DNA Evaluation of Tumors for Enhanced Cancer Treatment), (2) MyCancerGenome.org (web-based decision support), and (3) DIRECT (DNA-mutation Inventory to Refine and Enhance Cancer Treatment).
lung cancer; driver mutations; targeted therapy; MyCancerGenome
Cigarette smoke exposure generates both acute and chronic inflammatory cell infiltrates that are operative in numerous pulmonary disorders. Cigarette smoke induces a complex signaling cascade within the lung mediated by epithelial cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, and others. The net result is a destructive and self-perpetuating inflammatory environment that is capable of creating lung diseases such as emphysema, while simultaneously fueling lung tumor growth using both matrix-dependent and -independent means.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; lung cancer; inflammation
A growing body of evidence indicates that oxidative stress plays a central role in the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic oxidative stress caused by cigarette smoke generates damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), such as oxidatively or nitrosatively modified proteins and extracellular matrix fragments, which induce abnormal airway inflammation by activating innate and adaptive immune responses. Furthermore, oxidative stress–induced histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) inactivity is implicated in amplifying inflammatory responses and corticosteroid resistance in COPD. Oxidative stress also mediates disruption of innate immune defenses, which is associated with acute exacerbation of COPD. Host defense transcription factor Nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates a multifaceted cytoprotective response to counteract oxidative stress–induced pathological injuries. A decrease in Nrf2 signaling is associated with the progression of diseases. Recent evidence indicates that targeting Nrf2 can be a novel therapy to mitigate inflammation, improve innate antibacterial defenses, and restore corticosteroid responses in patients with COPD.
COPD; Nrf2; bacteria; exacerbation; therapeutics
There is a growing realization that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease involves several processes present in aging and cellular senescence. The impact of these processes in the pathogenesis of the main manifestations is multiple, particularly in the propagation of a proinflammatory phenotype, loss of reparative potential, and amplification of oxidative stress, all ultimately leading to tissue damage. This review highlights salient aspects related to senescence discussed in the 2011 Aspen Lung Conference.
aging; senescence; oxidative stress; inflammation
Epigenetic abnormalities in lung and other cancers continue to be defined at a rapid pace. We are coming to appreciate that cancers have an “epigenetic landscape” wherein genes vulnerable to abnormalities, such as promoter DNA hypermethylation and associated gene silencing, tend to reside in defined nuclear positions and chromosome domains and relationships to chromatin regulation, which facilitates states of stem cell renewal. These same genes and domains are also vulnerable to epigenetic abnormalities induced by factors to which cells are exposed during cancer risk states, such as chronic inflammation. We can use all of this basic information for translational purposes in terms of deriving biomarkers for cancer risk states and detection and therapeutic strategies.
epigenetic; cancer; DNA hypermethylation
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and the majority of diagnoses are made in former smokers. Although avoidance of tobacco abuse and smoking cessation clearly will have the greatest impact on lung cancer development, effective chemoprevention could prove to be more effective than treatment of established, advanced-stage disease. Chemoprevention is the use of dietary or pharmaceutical agents to reverse or block the carcinogenic process and has been successfully applied to common malignancies other than lung (including recent reports on the prevention of breast cancer in high-risk individuals). Despite previous studies in lung cancer chemoprevention failing to identify effective agents, our ability to define the highest-risk populations and the understanding of lung tumor and premalignant biology continue to make advances. Squamous cell carcinogenesis in the bronchial epithelium starts with normal epithelium and progresses through hyperplasia, metaplasia, dysplasia, and carcinoma in situ to invasive cancer. Precursor lesions also have been identified for adenocarcinoma, and these premalignant lesions are targeted by chemopreventive agents in current and future trials. Chemopreventive agents can currently only be recommended as part of well-designed clinical trials, and multiple trials have recently been completed or are enrolling subjects.
lung cancer; chemoprevention; premalignant dysplasia; biomarkers; clinical trials
It is becoming increasingly clear that our residential microbes, the key constituents in the human microbiome, are centrally involved in many aspects of our physiology. In particular, the ancient and dominant gastric bacteria Helicobacter pylori are highly interactive with human physiology. In modern times, H. pylori has been disappearing, which consequently affects the interactions between luminal bacteria and epithelial, lymphoid, and neuroendocrine cells. A growing body of evidence indicates that H. pylori protects against childhood-onset asthma, probably through the gastric recruitment of regulatory T cells. The phenomenon of disappearing ancient microbiota may be a general paradigm driving the diseases of modernity.
allergy; T cells; Helicobacter pylori; microbiota; immunity
This report explains how our studies of asthma and Th2 inflammation led us to investigate the roles of chitinase-like proteins (CLPs) in lung injury and repair and puts forth an overall hypothesis that can explain the roles that these moieties play in biology and a hypothesis regarding the ways that dysregulated CLP expression may contribute to the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases. We test this hypothesis by assessing the contributions of the CLP breast regression protein (BRP)-39 in the pathogenesis of malignant melanoma metastasis to the lung.
BRP-39/YKL-40; inflammation; injury; repair; metastasis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer represent two diseases that share a strong risk factor in smoking, and COPD increases risk of lung cancer even after adjusting for the effects of smoking. These diseases not only occur jointly within an individual but also there is evidence of shared occurrence within families. Understanding the genetic contributions to these diseases, both individually and jointly, is needed to identify the highest risk group for screening and targeted prevention, as well as aiding in the development of targeted treatments. The chromosomal regions that have been identified as being associated either jointly or independently with lung cancer, COPD, nicotine addiction, and lung function are presented. Studies jointly measuring genetic variation in lung cancer and COPD have been limited by the lack of detailed COPD diagnosis and severity data in lung cancer populations, the lack of lung cancer–specific phenotypes (histology and tumor markers) in COPD populations, and the lack of inclusion of minorities. African Americans, who smoke fewer cigarettes per day and have different linkage disequilibrium and disease patterns than whites, and Asians, also with different patterns of exposure to lung carcinogens and linkage patterns, will provide invaluable information to better understand shared and independent genetic contributions to lung cancer and COPD to more fully define the highest risk group of individuals who will most benefit from screening and to develop molecular signatures to aid in targeted treatment and prevention efforts.
lung cancer; COPD; smoking; genetics
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent stimulator of vascular angiogenesis, permeability, and remodeling that also plays important roles in wound healing and tissue cytoprotection. To begin to define the roles of VEGF in diseases like asthma and COPD, we characterized the effects of lung-targeted transgenic VEGF165 and defined the innate immune pathways that regulate VEGF tissue responses. The former studies demonstrated that VEGF plays an important role in Th2 inflammation because, in addition to stimulating angiogenesis and edema, VEGF induced eosinophilic inflammation, mucus metaplasia, subepithelial fibrosis, myocyte hyperplasia, dendritic cell activation, and airways hyperresponsiveness via IL-13–dependent and -independent mechanisms. VEGF was also produced at sites of aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation, and VEGF receptor blockade ameliorated adaptive Th2 inflammation and Th2 cytokine elaboration. The latter studies demonstrated that activation of the RIG-like helicase (RLH) innate immune pathway using viral pathogen–associated molecular patterns such as Poly(I:C) or viruses ameliorated VEGF-induced tissue responses. In accord with these findings, Poly(I:C)-induced RLH activation also abrogated aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation. When viewed in combination, these studies suggest that VEGF excess can contribute to the pathogenesis of Th2 inflammatory disorders such as asthma and that abrogation of VEGF signaling via RLH activation can contribute to the pathogenesis of viral disorders such as virus-induced COPD exacerbations. They also suggest that RLH activation may be a useful therapeutic strategy in asthma and related disorders.
asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; virus; RIG-like helicase; mitochondrial antiviral signaling molecule
Lung cells experience hypoxia during development, during travel to high altitude, and in acute and chronic lung diseases. The functional responses evoked by hypoxia are diverse and generally act to protect the cells from hypoxic injury, although some lung cell responses are counterproductive because they degrade normal function of the organ. The cellular O2 sensor responsible for many of these responses involves the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Under hypoxic conditions, increased release of reactive oxygen species from the inner mitochondrial membrane to the intermembrane space leads to the activation of transcription factors, including hypoxia-inducible factor, activation of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction, activation of AMP-dependent protein kinase, and internalization of the membrane Na,K-ATPase from the basolateral membrane of alveolar epithelial cells. Although the specific targets of reactive oxygen species signals are not fully understood, this signaling pathway is critical for development and for normal lung responses in the newborn and the mature lung.
oxygen sensing; lung injury; hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction; pulmonary circulation; alveolar epithelium
Cor pulmonale has long been described in very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. Cross-sectional results from population-based studies show that left ventricular filling and a variety of vascular measures in the systemic circulation are abnormal in preclinical COPD and emphysema and that a predominant vascular change in COPD and emphysema is endothelial and microvascular dysfunction. These findings suggest that pulmonary vascular changes may occur early in COPD and emphysema and might contribute to pathogenesis. However, longitudinal epidemiologic studies with direct measures of the pulmonary vasculature are lacking; therefore, inferences are limited at present. New imaging-based approaches to the assessment of the pulmonary vasculature are applicable to epidemiologic studies and may help in defining the relationship of pulmonary vascular damage to progression of COPD and emphysema. These measures may also provide imaging-based surrogate markers, and novel therapeutics targeted to the pulmonary vasculature might reduce symptoms and improve function in these common diseases.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; pulmonary emphysema; pulmonary hypertension; vascular disease; pulmonary vasculature
Blood vessels and lymphatic vessels in the respiratory tract play key roles in inflammation. By undergoing adaptive remodeling and growth, blood vessels undergo changes that enable the extravasation of plasma and leukocytes into inflamed tissues, and lymphatic vessels adjust to the increased fluid clearance and cell traffic involved in immune responses. Blood vessels and lymphatics in adult airways are strikingly different from those of late-stage embryos. Before birth, blood vessels in mouse airways make up a primitive plexus similar to that of the yolk sac. This plexus undergoes rapid and extensive remodeling at birth. In the early neonatal period, parts of the plexus regress. Capillaries then rapidly regrow, and with arterioles and venules form the characteristic adult vascular pattern. Lymphatic vessels of the airways also undergo rapid changes around birth, when lymphatic endothelial cells develop button-like intercellular junctions specialized for efficient fluid uptake. Among the mechanisms that underlie the onset of rapid vascular remodeling at birth, changes in tissue oxygen tension and mechanical forces associated with breathing are likely to be involved, along with growth factors that promote the growth and maturation of blood vessels and lymphatics. Whatever the mechanisms, the dynamic nature of airway blood vessels and lymphatics during perinatal development foretells the extraordinary vascular plasticity found in many diseases.
angiogenesis; blood vessels; lymphatics; lymphangiogenesis; respiratory tract
The maintenance of the alveolar structure is required throughout life. To accomplish this goal, alveolar cells, including endothelial, epithelial, and fibroblastic cells, provide key molecules with broad survival and antiapoptotic effects. These complex interactions are disrupted by cigarette smoke, leading to emphysema. Smoke imposes an environmental stress to the lung with the activation of “sensor-like” molecular signaling. Activation of RTP801, leading to mTOR inhibition, is paradigmatic of these responses. The accumulation of cellular damage, with the generation of endogenous mediators of inflammation, may proceed toward an aging phenotype. These alterations may impose significant challenges to cell-based regenerative or pharmacological therapies.
alveolus; emphysema; cigarette smoke; COPD; mTOR
The nuclear factor (NF)-κB is considered the master regulator of inflammatory responses. Studies in mouse models have established this transcription factor as an important mediator of many inflammatory disease states, including pulmonary diseases such as acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Endothelial cells provide the first barrier for leukocytes migrating to the inflamed sites and hence offer an attractive cellular context for targeting NF-κB for treatment of these diseases. However, recent studies showing that NF-κB also plays an important role in resolution phase of inflammation and in tissue repair and homeostasis have challenged the view of therapeutic inhibition of NF-κB. This article reviews the regulation of NF-κB in the context of endothelial cell signaling and provides a perspective on why “dampening” rather than “abolishing” NF-κB activation may be a safe and effective treatment strategy for inflammation-associated pulmonary and other inflammatory diseases.
endothelium; transcription factors; signal transduction; lung inflammation; injury
Ceramides are signaling sphingolipids involved in cellular homeostasis but also in pathological processes such as unwanted apoptosis, growth arrest, oxidative stress, or senescence. Several enzymatic pathways are responsible for the synthesis of ceramides, which can be activated in response to exogenous stimuli such as cytokines, radiation, or oxidative stress. Endothelial cells are particularly rich in acid sphingomyelinases, which can be rapidly activated to produce ceramides, both intracellular and at the plasma membrane. In addition, neutral sphingomyelinases, the de novo pathway and the ceramide recycling pathway, may generate excessive ceramides involved in endothelial cell responses. When up-regulated, ceramides trigger signaling pathways that culminate in endothelial cell death, which in murine lungs has been linked to the development of emphysema-like disease. Furthermore, ceramides may be released paracellularly where they are believed to exert paracrine activities. Such effects, along with ceramides released by inflammatory mediators, may contribute to lung inflammation and pulmonary edema, because ceramide-challenged pulmonary endothelial cells exhibit decreased barrier function, independent of apoptosis. Reestablishing the sphingolipid homeostasis, either by modulating ceramide synthesis or by opposing its biological effects through augmentation of the prosurvival sphingosine-1 phosphate, may alleviate acute or chronic pulmonary conditions characterized by vascular endothelial cell death or dysfunction.
sphingolipids; apoptosis; pulmonary emphysema; acute lung injury; pulmonary circulation
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a rare genetic disorder of ciliary structure and function. The diagnosis can be challenging, particularly when using nongenetic assays. The “gold standard” diagnostic test is ultrastructural analysis of respiratory cilia obtained by nasal scrape or brush biopsy. A few specialized centers use high-speed videomicroscopy to examine ciliary beat. Certain beat patterns correlate with ultrastructural defects, and, in some cases, subtle alterations in beat pattern can be seen when ultrastructure is normal. Recent studies have shown that nasal nitric oxide (NO) is very low in patients with PCD compared with healthy control subjects; therefore, this assay may be a useful screening or adjunctive test for PCD. Because acute respiratory illnesses may yield alterations in ciliary ultrastructure, ciliary beat, and nasal NO values, these tests should be performed during a stable baseline period. Identification of an array of PCD genes has provided the opportunity for making a definitive genetic diagnosis for PCD in some cases. All of these approaches have a role in diagnosing PCD. For example, PCD has been confirmed by identifying disease-causing mutations in a heavy dynein chain gene in individuals with normal ciliary ultrastructure but subtle defects in ciliary beat and low nasal NO. Priorities to improve nongenetic diagnostic capability include standardization of nasal NO as a screening test and the development of specialized centers using uniform approaches for the analysis of ciliary ultrastructure and ciliary beat pattern. Another chapter in this issue (see Zariwala and colleagues, pp. 430) addresses the progress toward improved capabilities for definitive genetic testing
primary ciliary dyskinesia; nitric oxide; ciliary ultrastructure; ciliary beat pattern
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an autosomal recessive, rare, genetically heterogeneous condition characterized by oto-sino-pulmonary disease together with situs abnormalities (Kartagener syndrome) owing to abnormal ciliary structure and function. Most patients are currently diagnosed with PCD based on the presence of defective ciliary ultrastructure. However, diagnosis often remains challenging due to variability in the clinical phenotype and ciliary ultrastructural changes. Some patients with PCD have normal ciliary ultrastructure, which further confounds the diagnosis. A genetic test for PCD exists but is of limited value because it investigates only a limited number of mutations in only two genes. The genetics of PCD is complicated owing to the complexity of axonemal structure that is highly conserved through evolution, which is comprised of multiple proteins. Identifying a PCD-causing gene is challenging due to locus and allelic heterogeneity. Despite genetic heterogeneity, multiple tools have been used, and there are 11 known PCD-causing genes. All of these genes combined explain approximately 50% of PCD cases; hence, more genes need to be identified. This review briefly describes the current knowledge regarding the genetics of PCD and focuses on the methodologies used to identify novel PCD-causing genes, including a candidate gene approach using model organisms, next-generation massively parallel sequencing techniques, and the use of genetically isolated populations. In conclusion, we demonstrate the multipronged approach that is necessary to circumvent challenges due to genetic heterogeneity to uncover genetic causes of PCD.
cilia; dynein; Kartagener syndrome; dextrocardia; heterotaxy
The ciliopathies are a category of diseases caused by disruption of the physiological functions of cilia. Ciliary dysfunction results in a broad range of phenotypes, including renal, hepatic, and pancreatic cyst formation; situs abnormalities; retinal degeneration; anosmia; cerebellar or other brain anomalies; postaxial polydactyly; bronchiectasis; and infertility. The specific clinical features are dictated by the subtype, structure, distribution, and function of the affected cilia. This review highlights the clinical variability caused by dysfunction of motile and nonmotile primary cilia and emphasizes the genetic heterogeneity and phenotypic overlap that are characteristics of these disorders. There is a need for additional research to understand the shared and unique functions of motile and nonmotile cilia and the pathophysiology resulting from mutations in cilia, basal bodies, or centrosomes. Increased understanding of ciliary biology will improve the diagnosis and management of primary ciliary dyskinesia, syndromic ciliopathies, and cilia-related cystic diseases.
primary cilia; ciliopathy; heterotaxy; nephronophthisis; cyst
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a rare genetic disease characterized by abnormal ciliary structure and function leading to impaired mucociliary clearance and chronic progressive sinopulmonary disease. Upper and lower respiratory tract manifestations are cardinal features of PCD. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge of respiratory tract disease in individuals with PCD and highlights the challenges in identifying and quantifying lung disease in very young children with PCD. No specific therapies are available to correct ciliary dysfunction in PCD. Treatment is not evidence based, and recommendations are largely extrapolated from cystic fibrosis and other conditions with impaired mucociliary clearance. There is a pressing need to develop and validate outcome measures, including patient-reported outcomes, that could be used to evaluate potential therapies in PCD. This review concludes with recommendations for clinical endpoints and outcome measures and a prioritized list of treatments to study in PCD clinical trials.
primary ciliary dyskinesia; lung disease; outcome measure; patient-reported outcome; clinical trial
Because of the highly conserved nature of the ciliary axoneme, researchers studying the structure and function of cilia have used many different model systems. Each system has advantages and disadvantages, but all provide important information relevant to the understanding and treatment of the ciliopathies. For example, Chlamydomonas is easy to grow and amenable to rapid genetic manipulation and therefore is excellent for motility studies and studies of the structural components of the axoneme. However, this organism cannot be used to study developmental defects or physiological abnormalities that occur in higher organisms (e.g., mucociliary clearance). Human cilia have the advantage of being obtained directly from the tissue of interest but are obtainable only in limited quantities and are difficult to manipulate. Mouse models of ciliopathies are more difficult to study than Chlamydomonas but can be useful to elucidate more aspects of the human diseases. In this review, the overlap between the structure of primary and motile cilia is discussed, and recent advancements in our understanding of cilia structure and function using these three different model systems are presented. Potential therapeutic approaches, based on fundamental knowledge gained from work in these model systems, are also presented.
proteomics; suppressor screens; heterotaxy; congenital heart disease
Biomarker development in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a nascent field, in part because of the complexity underlying COPD pathogenesis. The objective of this review is to provide examples of how biomarkers may be effectively applied in clinical trials of COPD by limiting their use to specific contexts and using them to answer well delineated questions. Types of novel outcomes or “biomarkers” that may be useful in clinical trials in COPD include analyses performed on bronchoscopically obtained samples, sputum, exhaled gases, blood, and urine and “ex vivo” assays performed using biological samples obtained from trial participants. These novel biological outcomes are rarely useful as primary end points in phase III clinical trials in COPD, because they are not typically recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or other regulatory agencies. More commonly, the applications of these outcomes include “proof-of-concept” decisions, demonstration that the intervention had the intended pharmacologic or biological effect, identification of patient subgroups that benefit most, and safety monitoring. Examples given in this review include outcomes used in a phase IIA study of an inhaled small molecule inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor. Large observational studies of COPD, including the ECLIPSE, COPDGene, and SPIROMICS studies will further inform our use of biomarkers in COPD clinical trials. To encourage the application of novel biomarkers in clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration has developed a new process for biomarker “qualification.” This process has been designed to be more efficient and to promote consensus building and sharing of preclinical data.
biomarker; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; clinical trials