Endothelin 1 (ET-1) is a key regulator of vascular homeostasis. We have recently reported that the presence of Human antigen class I, HLA-B35, contributes to human dermal microvascular endothelial cell (HDMEC) dysfunction by upregulating ET-1 and proinflammatory genes. Likewise, a Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) ligand, Poly(I:C), was shown to induce ET-1 expression in HDMECs. The goal of this study was to determine the molecular mechanism of ET-1 induction by these two agonists. Because HLA-B35 expression correlated with induction of Binding Immunoglobulin Protein (BiP/GRP78) and several heat shock proteins, we first focused on ER stress and unfolded protein response (UPR) as possible mediators of this response. ER stress inducer, Thapsigargin (TG), HLA-B35, and Poly(I:C) induced ET-1 expression with similar potency in HDMECs. TG and HLA-B35 activated the PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 branch of the UPR and modestly increased the spliced variant of XBP1, but did not affect the ATF6 pathway. Poly(I:C) also activated eIF2α/ATF4 in a protein kinase R (PKR)-dependent manner. Depletion of ATF4 decreased basal expression levels of ET-1 mRNA and protein, and completely prevented upregulation of ET-1 by all three agonists. Additional experiments have demonstrated that the JNK and NF-κB pathways are also required for ET-1 upregulation by these agonists. Formation of the ATF4/c-JUN complex, but not the ATF4/NF-κB complex was increased in the agonist treated cells. The functional role of c-JUN in responses to HLA-B35 and Poly(I:C) was further confirmed in ET-1 promoter assays. This study identified ATF4 as a novel activator of the ET-1 gene. The ER stress/UPR and TLR3 pathways converge on eIF2α/ATF4 during activation of endothelial cells.
Tenascin (TN)-C is an extracellular matrix protein associated with injury and remodeling. Since Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-β induces both TN-C and Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein (IGFBP)-3, we sought to determine the role of IGFBP-3 in mediating TGF-β’s effects on TN-C production and to assess the levels of TN-C in vivo in SSc-associated pulmonary fibrosis (PF).
Primary human lung fibroblasts were stimulated with TGF-β or IGFBP-3 in the presence or absence of specific siRNAs and chemical signaling cascade inhibitors. TN-C levels were examined in lung tissues of patients with Systemic Sclerosis (SSc)-associated pulmonary fibrosis using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and compared to those of normal donors. TN-C levels were quantified in serum from normal donors and patients with SSc with or without PF using ELISA.
IGFBP-3 mediated TGF-β induction of TN-C. Direct induction of TN-C by IGFBP-3 occurred in a p38K-dependent manner. TN-C levels were abundant in SSc lung tissues and localized to subepithelial layers of the distal airways. No TN-C was detectable around proximal airways. Patients with SSc-associated pulmonary fibrosis had significantly greater levels of circulating TN-C compared to patients without this complication. Longitudinal samples obtained from patients with SSc before and after the onset of PF showed increased levels post-PF.
IGFBP-3, which is overexpressed in fibrotic lungs, induces production of TN-C by subepithelial fibroblasts. The increased lung tissue levels of TN-C parallel levels detected in sera of patients with SSc and lung fibrosis, suggesting that TN-C may be a useful biomarker for SSc-PF.
Reports of low sexual activity rates and high impairment rates among women with chronic diseases have not included comparisons to general population data. The objective of this study was to compare sexual activity and impairment rates of women with systemic sclerosis (SSc) to general population data and to identify domains of sexual function driving impairment in SSc.
Canadian women with SSc were compared to women from a UK population sample. Sexual activity and, among sexually active women, sexual impairment were evaluated with a 9-item version of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).
Among women with SSc (mean age = 57.0 years), 296 of 730 (41%) were sexually active, 181 (61%) of whom were sexually impaired, resulting in 115 of 730 (16%) who were sexually active without impairment. In the UK population sample (mean age = 55.4 years), 956 of 1,498 women (64%) were sexually active, 420 (44%) of whom were impaired, with 536 of 1,498 (36%) sexually active without impairment. Adjusting for age and marital status, women with SSc were significantly less likely to be sexually active (OR = 0.34, 95%CI = 0.28–0.42) and, among sexually active women, significantly more likely to be sexually impaired (OR = 1.88, 95%CI = 1.42–2.49) than general population women. Controlling for total FSFI scores, women with SSc had significantly worse lubrication and pain scores than general population women.
Sexual functioning is a problem for many women with scleroderma and is associated with pain and poor lubrication. Evidence-based interventions to support sexual activity and function in women with SSc are needed.
Heightened production of collagen and other matrix proteins underlies the fibrotic phenotype of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Roscovitine is an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases that promote cell cycling (CDK1, 2), neuronal development (CDK5) and control transcription (CDK7,9). In an in vivo glomerulonephritis model, roscovitine treatment decreased mesangial cell proliferation and matrix proteins . We investigated whether roscovitine could regulate fibrotic protein production directly rather than through cell cycling. Our investigations revealed that roscovitine coordinately inhibited the expression of collagen, fibronectin, and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in normal and SSc fibroblasts. This effect occurred on a transcriptional basis and did not result from roscovitine-mediated cell cycle inhibition. Roscovitine-mediated suppression of matrix proteins could not be reversed by the exogenous profibrotic cytokines TGF-β or IL-6. To our knowledge, we are the first to report that roscovitine modulates matrix protein transcription. Roscovitine may thus be a viable treatment option for SSc and other fibrosing diseases.
Genetic analysis of TP63 implicates ΔNp63 isoforms in preservation of replicative capacity and cellular lifespan within adult stem cells. ΔNp63α is also an oncogene and survival factor that mediates therapeutic resistance in squamous carcinomas. These diverse activities are the result of genetic and functional interactions between TP63 and an array of morphogenic and morphostatic signals that govern tissue and tumor stasis, mitotic polarity, and cell fate; however the cellular signals that account for specific functions of TP63 are incompletely understood. To address this we sought to identify signaling pathways that regulate expression, stability or activity of ΔNp63α. An siRNA-based screen of the human kinome identified the Type 1 TGFβ receptor, ALK5, as the kinase required for phosphorylation of ΔNp63α at Serine 66/68 (S66/68). This activity is TGFβ-dependent and sensitive to either ALK5-directed siRNA or the ALK5 kinase inhibitor A83-01. Mechanistic studies support a model in which ALK5 is proteolytically cleaved at the internal juxtamembrane region resulting in the translocation of the C-terminal ALK5-intracellular kinase domain (ALK5IKD). In this study, we demonstrate that ALK5-mediated phosphorylation of ΔNp63α is required for the anti-clonogenic effects of TGFΒ and ectopic expression of ALK5IKD mimics these effects. Finally, we present evidence that ultraviolet irradiation-mediated phosphorylation of ΔNp63α is sensitive to ALK5 inhibitors. These findings identify a non-canonical TGFβ-signaling pathway that mediates the anti-clonogenic effects of TGFβ and the effects of cellular stress via ΔNp63α phosphorylation.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that results in loss of normal lung architecture, but the signaling events that drive tissue destruction are incompletely understood. Wnt/β-catenin signaling is important in normal lung development, but whether abnormal signaling occurs in lung fibrosis due to systemic sclerosis and the consequences of β-catenin signaling toward the fibrogenic phenotype remain poorly defined. In this study, we show nuclear β-catenin accumulation in fibroblastic foci from lungs of patients with systemic sclerosis–associated advanced pulmonary fibrosis. Forced activation of β-catenin signaling in three independently derived sources of normal human lung fibroblasts promotes proliferation and migratory activities but is not sufficient to activate classic markers of fibroblast activation, such as TGF-β, type 1 collagen, α-smooth muscle actin, and connective tissue growth factor. These findings indicate that activation of β-catenin signaling in pulmonary fibroblasts may be a common feature of lung fibrosis, contributing to fibroproliferative and migratory activities associated with the disease.
Wnt/β-catenin signaling; scleroderma; fibrosis
Extracellular matrix deposition and tissue scarring characterize the process of fibrosis. Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) and Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of fibrosis in various tissues by inducing mesenchymal cell proliferation and extracellular matrix deposition. We identified Syndecan-2 (SDC2) as a gene induced by TGFβ in an IGFBP-3-dependent manner. TGFβ induction of SDC2 mRNA and protein required IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 independently induced production of SDC2 in primary fibroblasts. Using an ex-vivo model of human skin in organ culture expressing IGFBP-3, we demonstrate that IGFBP-3 induces SDC2 ex vivo in human tissue. We also identified Mitogen-activated protein kinase-interacting kinase (Mknk2) as a gene induced by IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 triggered Mknk2 phosphorylation resulting in its activation. Mknk2 independently induced SDC2 in human skin. Since IGFBP-3 is over-expressed in fibrotic tissues, we examined SDC2 levels in skin and lung tissues of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and lung tissues of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). SDC2 levels were increased in fibrotic dermal and lung tissues of patients with SSc and in lung tissues of patients with IPF. This is the first report describing elevated levels of SDC2 in fibrosis. Increased SDC2 expression is due, at least in part, to the activity of two pro-fibrotic factors, TGFβ and IGFBP-3.
Fibrosis is a deregulated and ultimately defective form of tissue repair that underlies a large number of chronic human diseases, as well as obesity and aging. The pathogenesis of fibrosis involves multiple cell types and extracellular signals, of which transforming growth factor- β (TGF-β) is pre-eminent. The prevalence of fibrosis is rising worldwide, and to date no agents has shown clinical efficacy in the attenuating or reversing the process. Recent studies implicate the immediate-early response transcription factor Egr-1 in the pathogenesis of fibrosis. Egr-1 couples acute changes in the cellular environment to sustained alterations in gene expression, and mediates a broad spectrum of biological responses to injury and stress. In contrast to other ligand-activated transcription factors such as NF-κB, c-jun and Smad2/3 that undergo post-translational modification such as phosphorylation and nuclear translocation, Egr-1 activity is regulated via its biosynthesis. Aberrant Egr-1 expression or activity is implicated in cancer, inflammation, atherosclerosis, and ischemic injury and recent studies now indicate an important role for Egr-1 in TGF-β-dependent profibrotic responses. Fibrosis in various animal models and human diseases such as scleroderma (SSc) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is accompanied by aberrant Egr-1 expression. Moreover Egr-1 appears to be required for physiologic and pathological connective tissue remodeling, and Egr-1-null mice are protected from fibrosis. As a novel profibrotic mediator, Egr-1 thus appears to be a promising potential target for the development of anti-fibrotic therapies.
Egr-1; TGF-β; fibrosis; Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis); fibroblast
Our previous studies have demonstrated increased expression of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-5 (IGFBP-5) in fibrotic tissues and IGFBP-5 induction of extracellular matrix (ECM) components. The mechanism resulting in increased IGFBP-5 in the extracellular milieu of fibrotic fibroblasts is unknown. Since Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) has been implicated to play a role in membrane trafficking and signal transduction in tissue fibrosis, we examined the effect of Cav-1 on IGFBP-5 internalization, trafficking, and secretion. We demonstrated that IGFBP-5 localized to lipid rafts in human lung fibroblasts and bound Cav-1. Cav-1 was detected in the nucleus in IGFBP-5-expressing fibroblasts, within aggregates enriched with IGFBP-5, suggesting a coordinate trafficking of IGFBP-5 and Cav-1 from the plasma membrane to the nucleus. This trafficking was dependent on Cav-1 as fibroblasts from Cav-1 null mice had increased extracellular IGFBP-5, and as fibroblasts in which Cav-1 was silenced or lipid raft structure was disrupted through cholesterol depletion also had defective IGFBP-5 internalization. Restoration of Cav-1 function through administration of Cav-1 scaffolding peptide dramatically increased IGFBP-5 uptake. Finally, we demonstrated that IGFBP-5 in the ECM protects fibronectin from proteolytic degradation. Taken together, our findings identify a novel role for Cav-1 in the internalization and nuclear trafficking of IGFBP-5. Decreased Cav-1 expression in fibrotic diseases likely leads to increased deposition of IGFBP-5 in the ECM with subsequent reduction in ECM degradation, thus identifying a mechanism by which reduced Cav-1 and increased IGFBP-5 concomitantly contribute to the perpetuation of fibrosis.
Caveolin-1; insulin-like growth factor binding protein-5; fibrosis; extracellular matrix
Pulmonary complications in systemic sclerosis (SSc), including pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), are the leading cause of mortality. We compared the molecular fingerprint of SSc lung tissues and matching primary lung fibroblasts to those of normal donors, and patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH).
Lung tissues were obtained from 33 patients with SSc who underwent lung transplantation. Tissues and cells from a subgroup of SSc patients with predominantly PF or PAH were compared to those from normal donors, patients with IPF, or IPAH. Microarray data was analyzed using Efficiency Analysis for determination of optimal data processing methods. Real time PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to confirm differential levels of mRNA and protein, respectively.
We identified a consensus of 242 and 335 genes that were differentially expressed in lungs and primary fibroblasts, respectively. Enriched function groups in SSc-PF and IPF lungs included fibrosis, insulin-like growth factor signaling and caveolin-mediated endocytosis. Functional groups shared by SSc-PAH and IPAH lungs included antigen presentation, chemokine activity, and IL-17 signaling.
Using microarray analysis on carefully phenotyped SSc and comparator lung tissues, we demonstrated distinct molecular profiles in tissues and fibroblasts of patients with SSc-associated lung disease compared to idiopathic forms of lung disease. Unique molecular signatures were generated that are disease- (SSc) and phenotype- (PF vs PAH) specific. These signatures provide new insights into pathogenesis and potential therapeutic targets for SSc lung disease.
Rationale: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive disease with unclear etiology. The significance of autophagy in PH remains unknown.
Objectives: To determine the mechanisms by which autophagic proteins regulate tissue responses during PH.
Methods: Lungs from patients with PH, lungs from mice exposed to chronic hypoxia, and human pulmonary vascular cells were examined for autophagy using electron microscopy and Western analysis. Mice deficient in microtubule-associated protein-1 light chain-3B (LC3B−/−), or early growth response-1 (Egr-1−/−), were evaluated for vascular morphology and hemodynamics.
Measurements and Main Results: Human PH lungs displayed elevated lipid-conjugated LC3B, and autophagosomes relative to normal lungs. These autophagic markers increased in hypoxic mice, and in human pulmonary vascular cells exposed to hypoxia. Egr-1, which regulates LC3B expression, was elevated in PH, and increased by hypoxia in vivo and in vitro. LC3B−/− or Egr-1−/−, but not Beclin 1+/−, mice displayed exaggerated PH during hypoxia. In vitro, LC3B knockdown increased reactive oxygen species production, hypoxia-inducible factor-1α stabilization, and hypoxic cell proliferation. LC3B and Egr-1 localized to caveolae, associated with caveolin-1, and trafficked to the cytosol during hypoxia.
Conclusions: The results demonstrate elevated LC3B in the lungs of humans with PH, and of mice with hypoxic PH. The increased susceptibility of LC3B−/− and Egr-1−/− mice to hypoxia-induced PH and increased hypoxic proliferation of LC3B knockdown cells suggest adaptive functions of these proteins during hypoxic vascular remodeling. The results suggest that autophagic protein LC3B exerts a protective function during the pathogenesis of PH, through the regulation of hypoxic cell proliferation.
autophagy; hypoxia; hypertension, pulmonary
Evidence is lacking for direct pathogenicity of human anti-proteinase-3 (PR3) antibodies in development of systemic vasculitis and granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA, Wegener's granulomatosis). Progress in study of these antibodies in rodents has been hampered by lack of PR3 expression on murine neutrophils, and by different Fc-receptor affinities for IgG across species. Therefore, we tested whether human anti-PR3 antibodies can induce acute vasculitis in mice with a human immune system. Chimeric mice were generated by injecting human haematopoietic stem cells into irradiated NOD-scid-IL2Rγ−/− mice. Matched chimera mice were treated with human IgG from patients with: anti-PR3 positive renal and lung vasculitis; patients with non-vasculitic renal disease; or healthy controls. Six-days later, 39% of anti-PR3 treated mice had haematuria, compared with none of controls. There was punctate bleeding on the surface of lungs of anti-PR3 treated animals, with histological evidence of vasculitis and haemorrhage. Anti-PR3 treated mice had mild pauci-immune proliferative glomerulonephritis, with infiltration of human and mouse leukocytes. In 3 mice (17%) more severe glomerular injury was present. There were no glomerular changes in controls. Human IgG from patients with anti-PR3 autoantibodies is therefore pathogenic. This model of anti-PR3 antibody-mediated vasculitis may be useful in dissecting mechanisms of microvascular injury.
Fibrosis involves an orchestrated cascade of events including activation of fibroblasts, increased production and deposition of extracellular matrix components, and differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. Epithelial-mesenchymal cross-talk plays an important role in this process, and current hypotheses of organ fibrosis liken it to an aberrant wound healing response in which epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cellular senescence may also contribute to disease pathogenesis. The fibrotic response is associated with altered expression of growth factors and cytokines, including increased levels of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and the more recent observation that increased levels of several insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) are associated with a number of fibrotic conditions. IGFBPs have been implicated in virtually every cell type and process associated with the fibrotic response, making the IGFBPs attractive targets for the development of novel anti-fibrotic therapies. In this review, the current state of knowledge regarding the classical IGFBP family in organ fibrosis will be summarized and the clinical implications considered.
Extracellular matrix; fibrosis; IGFBP; senescence; systemic sclerosis; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Fibrotic tissue in the liver is mainly composed of collagen. Fibronectin, which is also present in fibrotic matrices, is required for collagen matrix assembly in vitro. It also modulates the amount of growth factors and their release from the matrix. We therefore examined the effects of the absence of fibronectin on the development of fibrosis in mice.
Conditional deletion of fibronectin in the liver using the Mx promoter to drive cre expression resulted in increased collagen production and hence a more pronounced fibrosis in response to dimethylnitrosamine in mice. Exclusive deletion of fibronectin in hepatocytes or normalization of circulating fibronectin in Mx-cKO mice did not affect the development of fibrosis suggesting a role for fibronectin production by other liver cell types. The boosted fibrosis in fibronectin-deficient mice was associated with enhanced stellate cell activation and proliferation, elevated concentrations of active TGF-β, and increased TGF-β-mediated signaling.
In vitro experiments revealed that collagen-type-I production by fibronectin-deficient hepatic stellate cells stimulated with TGF-β was more pronounced, and was associated with augmented Smad3-mediated signaling. Interfering with TGF-β signaling using SB431542 normalized collagen-type-I production in fibronectin-deficient hepatic stellate cells. Furthermore, precoating culture plates with fibronectin, but not collagen, or providing fibronectin fibrils unable to interact with RGD binding integrins via the RGD domain significantly diminished the amount of active TGF-β in fibronectin-deficient stellate cells and normalized collagen-type-I production in response to TGF-β stimulation. Thus, excessive stellate cell activation and production of collagen results from increased active TGF-β and TGF-β signaling in the absence of fibronectin.
In conclusion, our data indicate that fibronectin controls the availability of active TGF-β in the injured liver, which impacts the severity of the resulting fibrosis. We therefore propose a novel role for locally produced fibronectin in protecting the liver from an excessive TGF-β-mediated response.
Previous studies demonstrated that protein kinase C- δ (PKC-δ) inhibition with the selective inhibitor, rottlerin, resulted in potent downregulation of type I collagen expression and production in normal human dermal fibroblasts and abrogated the exaggerated type I collagen production and expression in fibroblasts cultured from affected skin from patients with the fibrosing disorder systemic sclerosis (SSc). To elucidate the mechanisms involved in the ability of PKC-δ to regulate collagen production in fibroblasts, we examined the effects of PKC-δ inhibition on the transcriptome of normal and SSc human dermal fibroblasts. Normal and SSc human dermal fibroblasts were incubated with rottlerin (5 µM), and their gene expression was analyzed by microarrays. Pathway analysis and gene ontology analysis of differentially expressed genes in each comparison were performed. Identification of significantly overrepresented transcriptional regulatory elements (TREs) was performed using the Promoter Analysis and Interaction Network Toolset (PAINT) program. PKC-δ activity was also inhibited using RNA interference (siRNA) and by treating fibroblasts with a specific PKC-δ inhibitory cell permeable peptide. Differential gene expression of 20 genes was confirmed using real time PCR. PKC-δ inhibition caused a profound change in the transcriptome of normal and SSc human dermal fibroblasts in vitro. Pathway and gene ontology analysis identified multiple cellular and organismal pathways affected by PKC-δ inhibition. Furthermore, both pathway and PAINT analyses indicated that the transcription factor NFκB played an important role in the transcriptome changes induced by PKC-δ inhibition. Multiple genes involved in the degradation of the extracellular matrix components were significantly reduced in SSc fibroblasts and their expression was increased by PKC-δ inhibition. These results indicate that isoform-specific inhibition of PKC-δ profibrotic effects may represent a novel therapeutic approach for SSc and other fibrotic diseases.
Longitudinal studies examining the baseline predictors of fatigue in SSc have not been reported. Our objectives were to examine the course of fatigue severity over time and to identify baseline clinical, demographic, and psychosocial predictors of sequentially obtained fatigue scores in early SSc. We also examined baseline predictors of change in fatigue severity over time.
We analyzed 1090 longitudinal Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) scores belonging to 256 patients who were enrolled in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcomes Study (GENISOS). Predictive significance of baseline variables for sequentially obtained FSS scores was examined with generalized linear mixed models. Predictors of change in FSS over time were examined by adding an interaction term between the baseline variable and time-in-study to the model.
The patients' mean age was 48.6 years, 47% were Caucasians, and 59% had diffuse cutaneous involvement. The mean disease duration at enrollment was 2.5 years. The FSS was obtained at enrollment and follow-up visits (mean follow-up time = 3.8 years). Average baseline FSS score was 4.7(±0.96). The FSS was relatively stable and did not show a consistent trend for change over time (p = 0.221). In a multivariable model of objective clinical variables, higher Medsger Gastrointestinal (p = 0.006) and Joint (p = 0.024) Severity Indices, and anti-U1-RNP antibodies (p = 0.024) were independent predictors of higher FSS. In the final model, ineffective coping skills captured by higher Illness Behavior Questionnaire scores (p<0.001), higher self-reported pain (p = 0.006), and higher Medsger Gastrointestinal Severity Index (p = 0.009) at enrollment were independent predictors of higher longitudinal FSS scores. Baseline DLco % predicted was the only independent variable that significantly predicted a change in FSS scores over time (p = 0.013), with lower DLco levels predicting an increase in FSS over time.
This study identified potentially modifiable clinical and psychological factors that predict longitudinal fatigue severity in early SSc.
A subset of patients with Ewing's sarcoma responds to anti-insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) antibodies. Mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance are unknown. We investigated whether an anti-IGF-1R antibody acts via a pathway that could also be suppressed by small interfering (si) RNA against the EWS/FLI-1 fusion protein, the hallmark of Ewing's sarcoma. The growth of two Ewing's sarcoma cell lines (TC-32 and TC-71) was inhibited by the fully human anti-IGF-1R antibody, R1507 (clonogenic and MTT assays). TC-32 and TC-71 cells express high levels of IGF-2, while RD-ES and A4573 Ewing's cell lines, which were less responsive to R1507 in our assays, express low or undetectable IGF-2, respectively. TC-71 cells also expressed high levels of IGF-1R, and R1507 decreased steady-state levels of this receptor by internalization/degradation, an effect which was associated with a decrease in p-IGF-1R, p-IRS-1, and p-Akt. EWS/FLI-1 siRNA also decreased p-Akt, due to its ability to increase IGF-BP3 levels and subsequently decrease IGF-1 and IGF-2 levels, thus inhibiting signaling through p-IGF-1R. This inhibition correlated with growth suppression and apoptosis. The attenuation of Akt activation was confirmed in TC-71 and HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney) cells by transfecting them with IGF-1R siRNA. We conclude that antibodies and siRNA to IGF-1R, as well as siRNA to EWS/FLI-1, act via intersecting IGF/IGF-1R signals that suppress a common point in this pathway, namely the phosphorylation of Akt.
In rheumatoid arthritis, a significant proportion of cytokine and chemokine synthesis is attributed to innate immune mechanisms. TLR4 is a prominent innate receptor since several endogenous ligands known to activate the innate immune system bind to it and may thereby promote joint inflammation. We generated TLR4 deficient DBA1J mice by backcrossing the TLR4 mutation present in C3H/HeJ strain onto the DBA1J strain and investigated the course of collagen-induced arthritis in TLR4 deficient mice in comparison to wild type littermates. The incidence of collagen- induced arthritis was significantly lower in TLR4 deficient compared to wild type mice (59 percent vs. 100 percent). The severity of arthritis was reduced in the TLR4 deficient mice compared to wild type littermates (mean maximum score 2,54 vs. 6,25). Mice deficient for TLR4 were virtually protected from cartilage destruction, and infiltration of inflammatory cells was reduced compared to wt mice. In parallel to the decreased clinical severity, lower anti-CCP antibody concentrations and lower IL-17 concentrations were found in the TLR4 deficient mice. The study further supports the role of TLR4 in the propagation of joint inflammation and destruction. Moreover, since deficiency in TLR4 led to decreased IL-17 and anti-CCP antibody production, the results indicate a link between TLR4 stimulation and the adaptive autoimmune response. This mechanism might be relevant in human rheumatoid arthritis, possibly in response to activating endogenous ligands in the affected joints.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis exhibits differential progression from the time of diagnosis but the molecular basis for varying progression rates is poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to ascertain whether differential miRNA expression might provide one explanation for rapidly versus slowly progressing forms of IPF.
Methodology and Principal Findings
miRNA and mRNA were isolated from surgical lung biopsies from IPF patients with a clinically documented rapid or slow course of disease over the first year after diagnosis. A quantitative PCR miRNA array containing 88 of the most abundant miRNA in the human genome was used to profile lung biopsies from 9 patients with rapidly progressing IPF, 6 patients with slowly progressing IPF, and 10 normal lung biopsies. Using this approach, 11 miRNA were significantly increased and 36 were significantly decreased in rapid biopsies compared with normal biopsies. Slowly progressive biopsies exhibited 4 significantly increased miRNA and 36 significantly decreased miRNA compared with normal lung. Among the miRNA present in IPF with validated mRNA targets were those with regulatory effects on epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Five miRNA (miR-302c, miR-423-5p, miR-210, miR-376c, and miR-185) were significantly increased in rapid compared with slow IPF lung biopsies. Additional analyses of rapid biopsies and fibroblasts grown from the same biopsies revealed that the expression of AGO1 and AGO2 (essential components of the miRNA processing RISC complex) were lower compared with either slow or normal lung biopsies and fibroblasts.
These findings suggest that the development and/or clinical progression of IPF might be the consequence of aberrant miRNA processing.
Therapy of atopic dermatitis (AD) relies on immunosuppression and/or UV irradiation. Here, we assessed clinical efficacy and histopathological alterations induced by blue light-treatment of AD within an observational, non-interventional study.
36 patients with severe, chronic AD resisting long term disease control with local corticosteroids were included. Treatment consisted of one cycle of 5 consecutive blue light-irradiations (28.9 J/cm2). Patients were instructed to ask for treatment upon disease exacerbation despite interval therapy with topical corticosteroids. The majority of patients noted first improvements after 2–3 cycles. The EASI score was improved by 41% and 54% after 3 and 6 months, respectively (p≤0.005, and p≤0.002). Significant improvement of pruritus, sleep and life quality was noted especially after 6 months. Also, frequency and intensity of disease exacerbations and the usage of topical corticosteroids was reduced. Finally, immunohistochemistry of skin biopsies obtained at baseline and after 5 and 15 days revealed that, unlike UV light, blue light-treatment did not induce Langerhans cell or T cell depletion from skin.
Blue light-irradiation may represent a suitable treatment option for AD providing long term control of disease. Future studies with larger patient cohorts within a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial are required to confirm this observation.
Allergic asthma is associated with airway eosinophilia, which is regulated by
different T-effector cells. T cells express transcription factors T-bet, GATA-3,
RORγt and Foxp3, representing Th1, Th2, Th17 and Treg cells respectively. No
study has directly determined the relative presence of each of these T cell
subsets concomitantly in a model of allergic airway inflammation. In this study
we determined the degree of expansion of these T cell subsets, in the lungs of
allergen challenged mice. Cell proliferation was determined by incorporation of
5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) together with 7-aminoactnomycin (7-AAD).
The immunohistochemical localisation of T cells in the lung microenvironments
was also quantified. Local expression of cytokines, chemokines and receptor
genes was measured using real-time RT-PCR array analysis in tissue sections
isolated by laser microdissection and pressure catapulting technology. Allergen
exposure increased the numbers of T-bet+,
GATA-3+, RORγt+ and
Foxp3+ cells in CD4+CD25+
and CD4+CD25- T cells, with the greatest expansion of
GATA-3+ cells. The majority of
GATA-3+, RORγt+ and
Foxp3+ cells had incorporated BrdU and underwent
proliferation during allergen exposure. Allergen exposure led to the
accumulation of T-bet+, GATA-3+ and
Foxp3+ cells in peribronchial and alveolar tissue,
GATA-3+ and Foxp3+ cells in perivascular
tissue, and RORγt+ cells in alveolar tissue. A total of 28
cytokines, chemokines and receptor genes were altered more than 3 fold upon
allergen exposure, with expression of half of the genes claimed in all three
microenvironments. Our study shows that allergen exposure affects all T effector
cells in lung, with a dominant of Th2 cells, but with different local cell
distribution, probably due to a distinguished local inflammatory milieu.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and medically refractory lung disease with a grim prognosis. Although the etiology of IPF remains perplexing, abnormal adaptive immune responses are evident in many afflicted patients. We hypothesized that perturbations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele frequencies, which are often seen among patients with immunologic diseases, may also be present in IPF patients.
HLA alleles were determined in subpopulations of IPF and normal subjects using molecular typing methods. HLA-DRB1*15 was over-represented in a discovery cohort of 79 Caucasian IPF subjects who had lung transplantations at the University of Pittsburgh (36.7%) compared to normal reference populations. These findings were prospectively replicated in a validation cohort of 196 additional IPF subjects from four other U.S. medical centers that included both ambulatory patients and lung transplantation recipients. High-resolution typing was used to further define specific HLA-DRB1*15 alleles. DRB1*1501 prevalence in IPF subjects was similar among the 143 ambulatory patients and 132 transplant recipients (31.5% and 34.8%, respectively, p = 0.55). The aggregate prevalence of DRB1*1501 in IPF patients was significantly greater than among 285 healthy controls (33.1% vs. 20.0%, respectively, OR 2.0; 95%CI 1.3–2.9, p = 0.0004). IPF patients with DRB1*1501 (n = 91) tended to have decreased diffusing capacities for carbon monoxide (DLCO) compared to the 184 disease subjects who lacked this allele (37.8±1.7% vs. 42.8±1.4%, p = 0.036).
DRB1*1501 is more prevalent among IPF patients than normal subjects, and may be associated with greater impairment of gas exchange. These data are novel evidence that immunogenetic processes can play a role in the susceptibility to and/or manifestations of IPF. Findings here of a disease association at the HLA-DR locus have broad pathogenic implications, illustrate a specific chromosomal area for incremental, targeted genomic study, and may identify a distinct clinical phenotype among patients with this enigmatic, morbid lung disease.
Interstitial flow directly affects cells that reside in tissues and regulates
tissue physiology and pathology by modulating important cellular processes
including proliferation, differentiation, and migration. However, the structures
that cells utilize to sense interstitial flow in a 3-dimensional (3D) environment
have not yet been elucidated. Previously, we have shown that interstitial
flow upregulates matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression in rat vascular
smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and fibroblasts/myofibroblasts via activation of
an ERK1/2-c-Jun pathway, which in turn promotes cell migration in collagen.
Herein, we focused on uncovering the flow-induced mechanotransduction mechanism
Cleavage of rat vascular SMC surface glycocalyx heparan sulfate (HS) chains
from proteoglycan (PG) core proteins by heparinase or disruption of HS biosynthesis
by silencing N-deacetylase/N-sulfotransferase
1 (NDST1) suppressed interstitial flow-induced ERK1/2 activation, interstitial
collagenase (MMP-13) expression, and SMC motility in 3D collagen. Inhibition
or knockdown of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) also attenuated or blocked flow-induced
ERK1/2 activation, MMP-13 expression, and cell motility. Interstitial flow
induced FAK phosphorylation at Tyr925, and this activation was blocked when
heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) were disrupted. These data suggest that
HSPGs mediate interstitial flow-induced mechanotransduction through FAK-ERK.
In addition, we show that integrins are crucial for mechanotransduction through
HSPGs as they mediate cell spreading and maintain cytoskeletal rigidity.
We propose a conceptual mechanotransduction model wherein cell surface
glycocalyx HSPGs, in the presence of integrin-mediated cell-matrix adhesions
and cytoskeleton organization, sense interstitial flow and activate the FAK-ERK
signaling axis, leading to upregulation of MMP expression and cell motility
in 3D. This is the first study to describe a flow-induced mechanotransduction
mechanism via HSPG-mediated FAK activation in 3D. This study will be of interest
in understanding the flow-related mechanobiology in vascular lesion formation,
tissue morphogenesis, cancer cell metastasis, and stem cell differentiation
in 3D, and also has implications in tissue engineering.
The nuclear orphan receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-γ) is expressed in multiple cell types in addition to adipocytes. Upon its activation by natural ligands such as fatty acids and eicosanoids, or by synthetic agonists such as rosiglitazone, PPAR-γ regulates adipogenesis, glucose uptake and inflammatory responses. Recent studies establish a novel role for PPAR-γ signaling as an endogenous mechanism for regulating transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-ß)-dependent fibrogenesis. Here, we sought to characterize PPAR-γ function in the prototypic fibrosing disorder systemic sclerosis (SSc), and delineate the factors governing PPAR-γ expression. We report that PPAR-γ levels were markedly diminished in skin and lung biopsies from patients with SSc, and in fibroblasts explanted from the lesional skin. In normal fibroblasts, treatment with TGF-ß resulted in a time- and dose-dependent down-regulation of PPAR-γ expression. Inhibition occurred at the transcriptional level and was mediated via canonical Smad signal transduction. Genome-wide expression profiling of SSc skin biopsies revealed a marked attenuation of PPAR-γ levels and transcriptional activity in a subset of patients with diffuse cutaneous SSc, which was correlated with the presence of a “TGF-ß responsive gene signature” in these biopsies. Together, these results demonstrate that the expression and function of PPAR-γ are impaired in SSc, and reveal the existence of a reciprocal inhibitory cross-talk between TGF-ß activation and PPAR-γ signaling in the context of fibrogenesis. In light of the potent anti-fibrotic effects attributed to PPAR-γ, these observations lead us to propose that excessive TGF-ß activity in SSc accounts for impaired PPAR-γ function, which in turn contributes to unchecked fibroblast activation and progressive fibrosis.
Usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) is a specific histopathologic pattern of interstitial lung fibrosis that may be idiopathic or secondary to autoimmune diseases and environmental exposures. In this study, we compared gene expression patterns in primary fibroblasts isolated from lung tissues with UIP histology and fibroblasts isolated from lung tissues with normal histology using expression microarrays. We found that WNT5A was significantly increased in fibroblasts obtained from UIP lung tissues compared with normal lung fibroblasts, an observation verified by quantitative real-time RT-PCR and Western blot. Because the role of WNT5A in UIP is unknown, we treated normal lung fibroblasts or UIP lung fibroblasts with WNT5A, and found that WNT5A increased proliferation as well as relative resistance to H2O2-induced apoptosis. This effect was not mediated through the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway, as WNT5A induced a decrease in β-catenin levels in the same cells. In addition, WNT5A induced increases in fibronectin and α5-integrin in normal lung fibroblasts. Collectively, our data suggest that WNT5A may play a role in fibroblast expansion and survival characteristics of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other fibrotic interstitial lung diseases that exhibit UIP histological patterns.
gene expression; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; cell growth; apoptosis; extracellular matrix