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1.  Growth differentiation factor-15 and prognosis in acute respiratory distress syndrome: a retrospective cohort study 
Critical Care  2013;17(3):R92.
We sought to determine whether higher levels of the novel biomarker growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15) are associated with poor outcomes and the presence of pulmonary vascular dysfunction (PVD) in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
We conducted a retrospective cohort study in patients enrolled in the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Network Fluid and Catheter Treatment (FACT) Trial. Patients enrolled in the FACT Trial who received a pulmonary artery catheter (PAC), had plasma available from the same study day and sufficient hemodynamic data to determine the presence of PVD were included. Logistic regression was used to determine the association between GDF-15 level and 60-day mortality.
Of the 513 patients enrolled in the FACT Trial assigned to receive a PAC, 400 were included in this analysis. Mortality at 60 days was significantly higher in patients whose GDF-15 levels were in the third (28%) or fourth (49%) quartile when compared to patients with GDF-15 levels in the first quartile (12%) (P <0.001). Adjusting for severity of illness measured by APACHE III score, the odds of death for patients with GDF-15 levels in the fourth quartile when compared to the first quartile was 4.26 (95% CI 2.18, 10.92, P <0.001). When added to APACHE III alone for prediction of 60-day mortality, GDF-15 levels increased the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve from 0.72 to 0.77. At an optimal cutoff of 8,103 pg/mL, the sensitivity and specificity of GDF-15 for predicting 60-day mortality were 62% (95% CI 53%, 71%) and 76% (95% CI 71%, 81%), respectively. Levels of GDF-15 were not useful in identifying the presence of PVD, as defined by hemodynamic measurements obtained by a PAC.
In patients with ARDS, higher levels of GDF-15 are significantly associated with poor outcome but not PVD.
PMCID: PMC3706804  PMID: 23706007
Acute respiratory distress syndrome; pulmonary vascular dysfunction; risk prediction; growth differentiation factor-15
2.  Alveolar Macrophage Gene Expression is altered in the Setting of Alcohol Use Disorders 
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are associated with an increased susceptibility to a variety of common and devastating pulmonary diseases including community- and hospital-acquired pneumonias, as well as the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Alveolar macrophages play an important role in preventing the development of these disorders through maintaining lung sterility and resolving lung inflammation. Although alcohol exposure has been associated with aberrant alveolar macrophage function in animal models, the clinical relevance of these observations in humans is not established. Therefore, we sought to determine the effects of AUDs on human alveolar macrophage gene expression.
Whole genome microarray analysis was performed on alveolar macrophages obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage from a test cohort of subjects with AUDs (n=7), and controls (n=7) who were pair-matched on age, gender, and smoking. Probe set expression differences in this cohort were validated by real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT RT-PCR). Functional analysis with web-based bioinformatics tools was utilized with microarray data to assess differentially expressed candidate genes (p<0.01) based on alcohol consumption. Alveolar macrophage mRNA samples from a second cohort of subjects with AUDs (n=7) and controls (n=7) were used to confirm gene expression differences related to AUDs. Results: In both the test and confirmatory cohorts, AUDs were associated with upregulation of alveolar macrophage gene expression related to apoptosis, including perforin-1, granzyme A, and CXCR4 (fusin). Pathways governing the regulation of progression through cell cycle and immune response were also affected, as was upregulation of gene expression for mitochondrial superoxide dismutase. Overall, 12 genes’ expression was affected by AUDs independent of smoking.
AUDs are associated with unique changes in human alveolar macrophage gene expression. Novel therapies targeting alveolar macrophage gene expression in the setting of AUDs may prove to be clinically useful in limiting susceptibility for pulmonary disorders in these individuals.
PMCID: PMC3059108  PMID: 21121937
pneumonia; acute lung injury; apoptosis; perforin; human
3.  Acute Lung Injury but Not Sepsis Is Associated with Increased Colony Formation by Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
Acute lung injury (ALI) and severe sepsis are common critical illnesses associated with the mobilization of bone marrow–derived cells into the circulation. By identifying and determining these cells' functional characteristics, unique prognostic biomarkers can be developed to help investigators understand the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of these disorders. We previously demonstrated an increased colony-forming unit (CFU) ability of circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in patients with ALI, compared with healthy control subjects, that also correlated with improved survival. Here we hypothesized that the increased CFUs in ALI are associated with lung injury, and therefore ALI will result in an increased number of CFUs compared with patients exhibiting severe sepsis. To test this, blood was collected from 80 patients (63 with ALI, and 17 with severe sepsis) within 72 hours of diagnosis, and from 5 healthy control subjects. A CFU assay was performed on isolated PBMCs. Lung injury scores and the need for mechanical ventilation were greater in patients with ALI than in patients with severe sepsis (P < 0.0001 for each). CFU numbers were highest in patients with ALI compared with patients manifesting severe sepsis or control subjects (median CFU number [25–75% quartiles] of 61 [13–104] versus 17 [3–34] versus 5 [2–13], P < 0.0005). A trend toward improved survival was demonstrated in patients with high (≥ 48) CFUs (P = 0.06). No relationship between CFUs and mechanical ventilation was evident. Our findings suggest that increased colony-forming ability by PBMCs in ALI results from lung injury, independent of sepsis and mechanical ventilation. Factors contributing to colony formation by PBMCs in ALI, and the role PBMCs play in its pathogenesis remain to be fully established.
PMCID: PMC2933548  PMID: 19843706
endothelium; critical illness; repair; prognosis; ARDS
4.  Alcohol Use Disorders Affect Antimicrobial Proteins and Anti-pneumococcal Activity in Epithelial Lining Fluid Obtained via Bronchoalveolar Lavage 
Aims: Our overall objective was to examine whether characteristics of epithelial lining fluid (ELF) from subjects with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) obtained via bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) contribute to their predisposition to pneumococcal pneumonia. We sought to compare the anti-pneumococcal activity of acellular human BAL from subjects with AUDs to matched controls. Further, differences in BAL lysozyme activity and lactoferrin concentrations between these two groups were examined to determine the effect of AUDs on these antimicrobial proteins. Methods: BAL was performed in subjects with AUDs and matched controls. Acellular BAL was used at varying concentrations in an in vitro killing assay of Streptococcus pneumoniae, type 2, and the percent kill of organisms per microgram per milliliter total BAL protein was ascertained. Lysozyme activity and lactoferrin concentrations were measured in BAL from subjects and controls at measured concentrations of BAL protein. Results: AUD subjects (n = 15) and controls (n = 10) were enrolled in these investigations who were balanced in terms of smoking history. Using a mixed effect model, across the range of BAL protein concentrations, killing of pneumococcus tended to be less potent with BAL fluid from AUD subjects. Additionally, lysozyme activity and lactoferrin concentrations were significantly lower in the AUD group. Conclusions: The predisposition for pneumococcal pneumonia among those with AUDs may be in part mediated through effects of alcohol on substances within ELF that include antimicrobial proteins. Clarifying the composition and activity of ELF antimicrobial proteins in the setting of AUDs via investigations with human BAL fluid can help establish their contribution to the susceptibility for pulmonary infections in these individuals.
PMCID: PMC2930253  PMID: 20729531
5.  The PhenoGen Informatics website: tools for analyses of complex traits 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:59.
With the advent of "omics" (e.g. genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and phenomics), studies can produce enormous amounts of data. Managing this diverse data and integrating with other biological data are major challenges for the bioinformatics community. Comprehensive new tools are needed to store, integrate and analyze the data efficiently.
The PhenoGen Informatics website is a comprehensive toolbox for storing, analyzing and integrating microarray data and related genotype and phenotype data. The site is particularly suited for combining QTL and microarray data to search for "candidate" genes contributing to complex traits. In addition, the site allows, if desired by the investigators, sharing of the data. Investigators can conduct "in-silico" microarray experiments using their own and/or "shared" data.
The PhenoGen website provides access to tools that can be used for high-throughput data storage, analyses and interpretation of the results. Some of the advantages of the architecture of the website are that, in the future, the present set of tools can be adapted for the analyses of any type of high-throughput "omics" data, and that access to new tools, available in the public domain or developed at PhenoGen, can be easily provided.
PMCID: PMC2034588  PMID: 17760997

Results 1-5 (5)