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1.  Chemokine Receptor CCR6-Dependent Accumulation of γδ T Cells in Injured Liver Restricts Hepatic Inflammation and Fibrosis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2013;59(2):630-642.
Chronic liver injury promotes hepatic inflammation, representing a prerequisite for organ fibrosis. We hypothesized a contribution of chemokine receptor CCR6 and its ligand, CCL20, which may regulate migration of T-helper (Th)17, regulatory, and gamma-delta (γδ) T cells. CCR6 and CCL20 expression was intrahepatically up-regulated in patients with chronic liver diseases (n = 50), compared to control liver (n = 5). Immunohistochemistry revealed the periportal accumulation of CCR6+ mononuclear cells and CCL20 induction by hepatic parenchymal cells in liver disease patients. Similarly, in murine livers, CCR6 was expressed by macrophages, CD4 and γδ T-cells, and up-regulated in fibrosis, whereas primary hepatocytes induced CCL20 upon experimental injury. In two murine models of chronic liver injury (CCl4 and methionine-choline-deficient diet), Ccr6−/− mice developed more severe fibrosis with strongly enhanced hepatic immune cell infiltration, compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Although CCR6 did not affect hepatic Th-cell subtype composition, CCR6 was explicitly required by the subset of interleukin (IL)-17- and IL-22-expressing γδ T cells for accumulation in injured liver. The adoptive transfer of WT γδ, but not CD4 T cells, into Ccr6−/− mice reduced hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in chronic injury to WT level. The anti-inflammatory function of hepatic γδ T cells was independent of IL-17, as evidenced by transfer of Il-17−/− cells. Instead, hepatic γδ T cells colocalized with hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in vivo and promoted apoptosis of primary murine HSCs in a cell-cell contact-dependent manner, involving Fas-ligand (CD95L). Consistent with γδ T-cell-induced HSC apoptosis, activated myofibroblasts were more frequent in fibrotic livers of Ccr6−/− than in WT mice. Conclusion: γδ T cells are recruited to the liver by CCR6 upon chronic injury and protect the liver from excessive inflammation and fibrosis by inhibiting HSCs.
PMCID: PMC4139146  PMID: 23959575
2.  Tuberous-sclerosis complex-related cell signaling in the pathogenesis of lung cancer 
Diagnostic Pathology  2014;9:48.
Hamartin (TSC1) and tuberin (TSC2), encoded by the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) genes, form a tumor-suppressor heterodimer which is implicated in PI3K-Akt signaling and acts as a functional inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Dysregulation of mTOR has been assigned to carcinogenesis and thus may be involved in cancer development. We have addressed the role of hamartin, phospho-tuberin (p-TSC2) and phospho-mTOR (p-mTOR) in a series of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) samples.
We collected 166 NSCLC and SCLC samples for immunohistochemical studies and performed western blot analyses in NSCLC and SCLC cell lines as well as comparative analyses with EGFR phosphorylation and downstream effectors.
In cell lines we found an inverse correlation between hamartin and p-mTOR expression. In surgical specimens cytoplasmic hamartin expression was observed in more than 50% of adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) compared to 14% of SCLC. P-mTOR and p-TSC2 staining was found in a minority of cases.
There was a significant correlation between p-EGFR Tyr-1068, p-EGFR Tyr-992 and hamartin, and also between p-mTOR and p-EGFR Tyr-1173 in AC. In SCC an inverse correlation between hamartin and p-EGFR Tyr-992 was detected. Phosphorylation of TSC2 was associated with expression of MAP-Kinase. Hamartin, p-TSC2 and p-mTOR expression was not dependant of the EGFR mutation status. Hamartin expression is associated with poorer survival in SCC and SCLC.
Our findings confirm the inhibitory role of the tuberous sclerosis complex for mTOR activation in lung cancer cell lines. These results reveal hamartin expression in a substantial subset of NSCLC and SCLC specimens, which may be due to EGFR signaling but is not dependant on EGFR mutations. Our data provide evidence for a functional role of the tuberous sclerosis complex in lung cancer.
Virtual slides
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3975884  PMID: 24593867
Tuberous sclerosis complex; TSC; EGFR; Hamartin; Tuberin; Lung cancer
3.  Cyclin E1 controls proliferation of hepatic stellate cells and is essential for liver fibrogenesis in mice 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(3):1140-1149.
Liver fibrogenesis is associated with the transition of quiescent hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) into the cell cycle. Exit from quiescence is controlled by E-type cyclins (CcnE1, CcnE2). Thus, the aim of the current study was to investigate the contribution of E-type cyclins for liver fibrosis in man and mice.
Expression of CcnE1, but not of its homologue CcnE2 was induced in fibrotic and cirrhotic livers from human patients with different etiologies and in murine wildtype (WT) livers after periodical administration of the pro-fibrotic toxin carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). To further evaluate the potential function of E-type cyclins for liver fibrogenesis, we repetitively treated constitutive CcnE1−/− and CcnE2−/− knockout mice with CCl4 to induce liver fibrosis. Interestingly, CcnE1−/− mice were protected against CCl4–mediated liver fibrogenesis as evidenced by reduced collagen type I α1 expression and lack of septum formation. In contrast, CcnE2−/− mice showed accelerated fibrogenesis following CCl4 treatment. We isolated primary HSC from WT, CcnE1−/− and CcnE2−/− mice and analyzed their activation, proliferation and survival in vitro. CcnE1 expression in WT HSC was maximal when they started to proliferate, but decreased after the cells transdifferentiated into myofibroblasts. CcnE1−/− HSC showed dramatically impaired survival, cell cycle arrest and strongly reduced expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin, indicating deficient HSC activation. In contrast, CcnE2-deficient HSC expressed elevated level of CcnE1 and showed enhanced cell cycle activity and proliferation compared to WT cells.
CcnE1 and CcnE2 have antagonistic roles in liver fibrosis. CcnE1 is indispensable for activation, proliferation and survival of HSC and thus promotes synthesis of extracellular matrix and liver fibrogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3396430  PMID: 22454377
cell cycle; liver fibrosis; Carbon tetrachloride; Cyclin E2; cell cycle arrest; apoptosis
4.  Sex Determining Region Y-Box 2 (SOX2) Amplification Is an Independent Indicator of Disease Recurrence in Sinonasal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59201.
The transcription factor SOX2 (3q26.3-q27) is an embryonic stem cell factor contributing to the induction of pluripotency in terminally differentiated somatic cells. Recently, amplification of the SOX2 gene locus has been described in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of different organ sites. Aim of this study was to investigate amplification and expression status of SOX2 in sinonasal carcinomas and to correlate the results with clinico-pathological data.
Materials and Methods
A total of 119 primary tumor samples from the sinonasal region were assessed by fluorescence in-situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for SOX2 gene amplification and protein expression, respectively. Of these, 59 were SSCs, 18 sinonasal undifferentiated carcinomas (SNUC), 10 carcinomas associated with an inverted papilloma (INVC), 19 adenocarcinomas (AD) and 13 adenoid cystic carcinomas (ACC).
SOX2 amplifications were found in subsets of SCCs (37.5%), SNUCs (35.3%), INVCs (37.5%) and ADs (8.3%) but not in ACCs. SOX2 amplification resulted in increased protein expression. Patients with SOX2-amplified sinonasal carcinomas showed a significantly higher rate of tumor recurrences than SOX2 non-amplified tumors.
This is the first study assessing SOX2 amplification and expression in a large cohort of sinonasal carcinomas. As opposed to AD and ACC, SOX2 amplifications were detected in more than 1/3 of all SCCs, SNUCs and INVCs. We therefore suggest that SNUCs are molecularly closely related to SCCs and INVCs and that these entities represent a subgroup of sinonasal carcinomas relying on SOX2 acquisition during oncogenesis. SOX2 amplification appears to identify sinonasal carcinomas that are more likely to relapse after primary therapy, suggesting that these patients might benefit from a more aggressive therapy regime.
PMCID: PMC3609820  PMID: 23544055
5.  Deficiency in four and one half LIM domain protein 2 (FHL2) aggravates liver fibrosis in mice 
BMC Gastroenterology  2013;13:8.
Four and one half LIM domain protein 2 (FHL2) has been reported to be a key regulator in many cellular processes being associated with fibrogenesis such as cell migration and contraction. Moreover, hepatic FHL2 is involved in regulation pathways mediating proliferation and cell death machineries. We here investigated the role of FHL2 in the setting of experimental and clinical liver fibrosis.
FHL2−/− and wild type (wt) mice were challenged with CCl4. Fibrotic response was assessed by quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) of fibrotic marker genes, measurement of hydroxyproline content and histological methods. Murine FHL2−/− and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) were isolated and investigated via immunofluorescence. Human fibrotic and normal liver samples were analysed immunohistochemically using antibodies directed against FHL2.
FHL2−/− mice displayed aggravated liver fibrosis compared to wt mice. However, immunofluorescence revealed no significant morphological changes in cultured FHL2−/− and wt myofibroblasts (MFB). In human liver samples, FHL2 was strongly expressed both in the nucleus and cytoplasm in MFB of fibrotic livers. In contrast, FHL2 expression was absent in normal liver tissue.
Deficiency of FHL2 results in aggravation of murine liver fibrosis. In human liver samples, FHL2 is expressed in activated HSCs and portal fibroblasts in human fibrotic livers, pointing to a central role of FHL2 for human hepatic fibrogenesis as well.
PMCID: PMC3562203  PMID: 23311569
6.  Embalmed and fresh frozen human bones in orthopedic cadaveric studies: which bone is authentic and feasible? 
Acta Orthopaedica  2012;83(5):543-547.
Background and purpose
The most frequently used bones for mechanical testing of orthopedic and trauma devices are fresh frozen cadaveric bones, embalmed cadaveric bones, and artificial composite bones. Even today, the comparability of these different bone types has not been established.
We tested fresh frozen and embalmed cadaveric femora that were similar concerning age, sex, bone mineral density, and stiffness. Artificial composite femora were used as a reference group. Testing parameters were pullout forces of cortex and cancellous screws, maximum load until failure, and type of fracture generated.
Stiffness and type of fracture generated (Pauwels III) were similar for all 3 bone types (fresh frozen: 969 N/mm, 95% confidence interval (CI): 897–1,039; embalmed: 999 N/mm, CI: 875–1,121; composite: 946 N/mm, CI: 852–1,040). Furthermore, no significant differences were found between fresh frozen and embalmed femora concerning pullout forces of cancellous screws (fresh frozen: 654 N, CI: 471–836; embalmed: 595 N, CI: 365–823) and cortex screws (fresh frozen: 1,152 N, CI: 894–1,408; embalmed: 1,461 N, CI: 880–2,042), and axial load until failure (fresh frozen: 3,427 N, CI: 2,564–4290; embalmed: 3,603 N, CI: 2,898–4,306). The reference group showed statistically significantly different results for pullout forces of cancellous screws (2,344 N, CI: 2,068–2,620) and cortex screws (5,536 N, CI: 5,203–5,867) and for the axial load until failure (> 7,952 N).
Embalmed femur bones and fresh frozen bones had similar characteristics by mechanical testing. Thus, we suggest that embalmed human cadaveric bone is a good and safe option for mechanical testing of orthopedic and trauma devices.
PMCID: PMC3488184  PMID: 22978564
7.  Transgenic Overexpression of Tcfap2c/AP-2gamma Results in Liver Failure and Intestinal Dysplasia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22034.
The transcription factor Tcfap2c has been demonstrated to be essential for various processes during mammalian development. It has been found to be upregulated in various undifferentiated tumors and is implicated with poor prognosis. Tcfap2c is reported to impinge on cellular proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. However, the physiological consequences of Tcfap2c-expression remain largely unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Therefore we established a gain of function model to analyze the role of Tcfap2c in development and disease. Induction of the transgene led to robust expression in all tissues (except brain and testis) and lead to rapid mortality within 3–7 days. In the liver cellular proliferation and apoptosis was detected. Accumulation of microvesicular lipid droplets and breakdown of major hepatic metabolism pathways resulted in steatosis. Serum analysis showed a dramatic increase of enzymes indicative for hepatic failure. After induction of Tcfap2c we identified a set of 447 common genes, which are deregulated in both liver and primary hepatocyte culture. Further analysis showed a prominent repression of the cytochrome p450 system, PPARA, Lipin1 and Lipin2. These data indicate that in the liver Tcfap2c represses pathways, which are responsible for fatty acid metabolism. In the intestine, Tcfap2c expression resulted in expansion of Sox9 positive and proliferative active epithelial progenitor cells resulting in dysplastic growth of mucosal crypt cells and loss of differentiated mucosa.
The transgenic mice show that ectopic expression of Tcfap2c is not tolerated. Due to the phenotype observed, iTcfap2c-mice represent a model system to study liver failure. In intestine, Tcfap2c induced cellular hyperplasia and suppressed terminal differentiation indicating that Tcfap2c serves as a repressor of differentiation and inducer of proliferation. This might be achieved by the Tcfap2c mediated activation of Sox9 known to be expressed in intestinal and hepatic stem/progenitor cell populations.
PMCID: PMC3135619  PMID: 21779369
8.  Web-based database for the management of tissue specimens in a transregional histological research facility 
Diagnostic Pathology  2011;6:17.
In the setting of a histological research core facility sample tracking and project specific archiving of tissue specimens and communication of related data is of central importance.
Over a 24-month period 10 laboratories from two transregional research centers submitted in excess of 3000 tissue samples for histological processing and evaluation to our core facility. A web based database was set up to overcome the logistical problem of managing samples with inconsistent, duplicate and missing labels and to allow for efficient sample tracking, archiving and communication with the collaborating research laboratories. The database allows the users to remotely generate unique sample identifiers and enter sample annotation prior to sample processing. Furthermore the database facilitates communication about experimental set-up results and media files such as histological images.
Our newly constructed web based portal is an important tool for the management of research samples of our histological core facility and facilitates significantly interdisciplinary and transregional research. It is freely available for scientific use.
PMCID: PMC3061891  PMID: 21392381
9.  Development and evaluation of an open source Delphi-based software for morphometric quantification of liver fibrosis 
Computer-based morphometry can minimize subjectivity in the assessment of liver fibrosis. An image processing program was developed with Delphi for the quantification of fibrosis in liver tissue samples stained with Sirius Red. Bile duct ligated and sham operated wild type C57BL/6 mice served as a model of time-dependent induction of liver fibrosis. Formation of fibrosis was determined with the developed software at day 0, 3, 7, 10, 14, 20, 30 and 60. The results were compared to a semi-quantitative scoring system.
Quantitative accumulation of collagen fibres was observed from day 3 to day 14, with a slight further increase thereafter. During ongoing fibrogenesis, there was a significant elevation of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST) and bilirubin. The results from our computer-based morphometric analysis were highly correlated with the results that were obtained in a standardized pathology semi-quantitative scoring system (R 2 = 0.89, n = 38).
Using our Delphi-based image analysing software, the morphometric assessment of fibrosis is as precise as semi-quantitative scoring by an experienced pathologist. This program can be a valuable tool in any kind of experimental or clinical setting for standardized quantitative assessment of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2903497  PMID: 20565730
10.  Oral administration of the anti-proliferative substance taurolidine has no impact on dextran sulfate sodium induced colitis-associated carcinogenesis in mice 
New chemopreventive strategies for ulcerative colitis (UC)-associated dysplasia and cancer have to be evaluated. Taurolidine (TRD) has anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-neoplastic properties with almost absent toxicity. The aim of the study was to determine whether TRD decreases dysplasia in the well-characterized Dextran Sulfate Sodium – Azoxymethane (DSS-AOM) animal model for UC-associated carcinogenesis.
Material and Methods:
The DSS-AOM model of carcinogenesis was induced in female inbred C57BL/6 mice. Half of the mice were treated with TRD, the other served as control. After 100 days macroscopic, histological and immunhistochemical (β-Catenin, E-Cadherin, SOX9, Ki-67, Cyclin-D1) examination of the colon was performed.
Incidence, multiplicity, grading and growth pattern of adenomas did not differ significantly between TRD and control group. In all animals, inflammatory changes were absent. Immunhistochemistry revealed increased expression of Ki-67, β-catenin, SOX9 and Cyclin-D1 in adenomas compared to normal mucosa – without significant difference between TRD and control treatment.
Oral administration of TRD has no impact on DSS-induced colitis-associated carcinogenesis. However, SOX9 and Cyclin-D1 representing key members of the Wnt pathway have not yet been described in the DSS-AOM model of carcinogenesis – underlining the importance of this oncogenic pathway in this setting.
PMCID: PMC2862504  PMID: 20442801
Carcinogenesis; C57BL6 mice; Dextran Sulfate Sodium; experimental colitis; inflammatory bowel disease; Taurolidin; Taurolin; TRD
11.  A subset of gastrointestinal stromal tumors previously regarded as wild-type tumors carries somatic activating mutations in KIT exon 8 (p.D419del) 
Modern Pathology  2013;26(7):1004-1012.
About 10–15% of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) carry wild-type sequences in all hot spots of KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) (wt-GISTs). These tumors are currently defined by having no mutations in exons 9, 11, 13, and 17 of the KIT gene and exons 12, 14, and 18 of the PDGFRA gene. Until now, the analysis of further exons is not recommended. However, we have previously published a report on a KIT exon 8 germline mutation, which was associated with familial GIST and mastocytosis. We therefore investigated whether KIT exon 8 mutations might also occur in sporadic GIST. We screened a cohort of 145 wt-GISTs from a total of 1351 cases from our registry for somatic mutations in KIT exon 8. Two primary GISTs with an identical exon 8 mutation (p.D419del) were detected, representing 1.4% of all the cases analyzed. Based on all GISTs from our registry, the overall frequency of KIT exon 8 mutations was 0.15%. The first tumor originating in the small bowel of a 53-year-old male patient had mostly a biphasic spindled-epithelioid pattern with a high proliferative activity (14 mitoses/50 HPF) combined with a second low proliferative spindle cell pattern (4/50 HPF). The patient developed multiple peritoneal metastases 29 months later. The second case represented a jejunal GIST in a 67-year old woman who is relapse-free under adjuvant imatinib treatment. We conclude that about 1–2% of GISTs being classified as ‘wild type' so far might, in fact, carry KIT mutations in exon 8. Moreover, this mutational subtype was shown to be activating and imatinib sensitive in vitro. We therefore propose that screening for KIT exon 8 mutations should become a routine in the diagnostic work-up of GIST and that patients with an exon 8 mutation and a significant risk for tumor progression should be treated with imatinib.
PMCID: PMC3701292  PMID: 23599150
GIST; KIT exon 8; wild type
12.  Definition of a fluorescence in-situ hybridization score identifies high- and low-level FGFR1 amplification types in squamous cell lung cancer 
Modern Pathology  2012;25(11):1473-1480.
We recently reported fibroblast growth factor receptor-type 1 (FGFR1) amplification to be associated with therapeutically tractable FGFR1 dependency in squamous cell lung cancer. This makes FGFR1 a novel target for directed therapy in these tumors. To reproducibly identify patients for clinical studies, we developed a standardized reading and evaluation strategy for FGFR1 fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) and propose evaluation criteria, describe different patterns of low- and high-level amplifications and report on the prevalence of FGFR1 amplifications in pulmonary carcinomas. A total of 420 lung cancer patients including 307 squamous carcinomas, 100 adenocarcinomas of the lung and 13 carcinomas of other types were analyzed for FGFR1 amplification using a dual color FISH. We found heterogeneous and different patterns of gene copy numbers. FGFR1 amplifications were observed in 20% of pulmonary squamous carcinomas but not in adenocarcinomas. High-level amplification (as defined by an FGFR1/centromer 8 (CEN8) ratio ≥2.0, or average number of FGFR1 signals per tumor cell nucleus ≥6, or the percentage of tumor cells containing ≥15 FGFR1 signals or large clusters ≥10%) was detected at a frequency of 16% and low-level amplification (as defined by ≥5 FGFR1 signals in ≥50% of tumor cells) at a frequency of 4%. We conclude that FGFR1 amplification is one of the most frequent therapeutically tractable genetic lesions in pulmonary carcinomas. Standardized reporting of FGFR1 amplification in squamous carcinomas of the lung will become increasingly important to correlate therapeutic responses with FGFR1 inhibitors in clinical studies. Thus, our reading and evaluation strategy might serve as a basis for identifying patients for ongoing and upcoming clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4089812  PMID: 22684217
FGFR1; FISH; lung cancer; squamous cell; targeted therapy

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