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1.  Failure to Improve the Oxygenation Index is a Useful predictor of Therapy Failure in ARDS Clinical Trials 
Critical care medicine  2016;44(1):e40-e44.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) trials powered for mortality require significant resources, limiting the number of evaluable therapies. Validation of intermediate endpoints would enhance the feasibility of testing novel ARDS therapies in pilot studies and potentially reduce the frequency of failed large clinical trials. We sought to determine whether a change in the oxygenation index (OI) over the first seven days of ARDS could discriminate between therapies likely or unlikely to show benefit in larger clinical trials.
A derivation cohort from three ARDS studies was used to estimate the seven-day change in OI. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to calculate optimal thresholds and predictability of the change in OI for 28-day mortality and ventilator-free days (VFD). The thresholds were then validated in two cohorts. Then for each individual ARDS study, the threshold 7-day OI change was tested as an outcome measure and compared to mortality and VFD as reported in the original study.
Medical Intensive Care Units
ARDS patients
Change in OI, 28-day mortality and VFD
Main Results
In the derivation cohort, the mean 7-day OI improved by 4.2 (+/−11.7) in 28-day survivors compared to an increase of 2.4 (+/−11.6) in 28-day non-survivors (p<0.001). The mean 7-day OI decreased by 5.9 (+/−8.4) in patients with >14 VFD, compared to a decrease of 1.9 (+/−12.4) among those with <14 VFD (p=0.001). The optimal 7-day OI threshold for predicting mortality was an increase of 1.71, and for predicting <14 VFD a decrease of 2.34. When used as a surrogate endpoint, the optimal 7-day OI change closely approximated mortality and VFD outcomes in three ARDSNet studies used for the derivation cohort and a distinct study used for validation. The change in OI was a poor predictor of individual patient outcome.
Failure to meet a threshold improvement in the OI over the first 7 days of therapy can be used to identify therapies unlikely to succeed in subsequent trials powered for mortality and VFD. By reducing trial time and costs, use of the 7-day OI change as an intermediate endpoint could increase the number of clinical trials of promising therapies for ARDS and reduce the number of large scale trials of therapies unlikely to be of benefit.
PMCID: PMC5224531  PMID: 26427588
ARDS; Compliance; Mortality; Mechanical Ventilation; Outcome Oxygenation Index
2.  A Prospective Pilot Study of 89Zr-J591/Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen Positron Emission Tomography in Men with Localized Prostate Cancer Undergoing Radical Prostatectomy 
The Journal of urology  2013;191(5):1439-1445.
In this pilot study we explored the feasibility of 89Zr labeled J591 monoclonal antibody positron emission tomography of localized prostate cancer.
Materials and Methods
Before scheduled radical prostatectomy 11 patients were injected intravenously with 89Zr-J591, followed 6 days later by whole body positron emission tomography. Patients underwent surgery the day after imaging. Specimens were imaged by ex vivo micro positron emission tomography and a custom 3 Tesla magnetic resonance scanner coil. Positron emission tomography images and histopathology were correlated.
Median patient age was 61 years (range 47 to 68), median prostate specific antigen was 5.2 ng/ml (range 3.5 to 12.0) and median biopsy Gleason score of the 11 index lesions was 7 (range 7 to 9). On histopathology 22 lesions were identified. Median lesion size was 5.5 mm (range 2 to 21) and median Gleason score after radical prostatectomy was 7 (range 6 to 9). Eight of 11 index lesions (72.7%) were identified by in vivo positron emission tomography. Lesion identification improved with increasing lesion size for in vivo and ex vivo positron emission tomography (each p <0.0001), and increasing Gleason score (p = 0.14 and 0.01, respectively). Standardized uptake values appeared to correlate with increased Gleason score but not significantly (p = 0.19).
To our knowledge this is the first report of 89Zr-J591/prostate specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography in localized prostate cancer cases. In this setting 89Zr-J591 bound to tumor foci in situ and positron emission tomography identified primarily Gleason score 7 or greater and larger tumors, likely corresponding to clinically significant disease warranting definitive therapy. A future, larger clinical validation trial is planned to better define the usefulness of 89Zr-J591 positron emission tomography for localized prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4411555  PMID: 24135437
prostatic neoplasms; positron-emission tomography; glutamate carboxypeptidase II; human; zirconium; J591 monoclonal antibody
3.  Multiphoton microscopy to identify and characterize the transition zone in a mouse model of Hirschsprung disease 
Journal of pediatric surgery  2013;48(6):1288-1293.
The distribution of ganglion cells in the transition zone of Hirschsprung Disease (HD) colons is extremely variable. Determining the resection margin based on intraoperative biopsies may be imprecise. Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) is a novel imaging technology with the ability to visualize tissues in real time. In this study, we evaluate the potential of MPM to quantify ganglion cells in a murine model of HD.
After IACUC approval, formalin-fixed colons from 7 wild type (WT) and 6 Endothelin Receptor B gene (EdnrB) homozygous knockout (KO) mice with distal colonic aganglionosis were assessed by MPM for the presence of myenteric ganglion cells. MPM images were captured starting from the anus progressing proximally at 5 mm intervals. Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained biopsies of the imaged were correlated with MPM findings.
WT specimens showed normal myenteric plexus ganglia throughout the examined colon. In contrast, distal colons of EdnrB KO animals were devoid of ganglia up to 10 mm from the anus. Ganglion cells were visible starting at 20–30 mm proximal to the anus. The density of ganglion cells seen by MPM and histology correlated well.
MPM can clearly identify the myenteric plexus ganglia in both WT and KO mouse colons. Comparison with the H&E-stained sections showed reproducible correlation. MPM-based real-time imaging of the myenteric plexus may become a useful intraoperative decision-making tool in the future.
PMCID: PMC4372128  PMID: 23845620
Hirschsprung; Ganglion cells; Multiphoton microscopy; Mouse; Autofluorescence
4.  Rapid evaluation of fresh ex vivo kidney tissue with full-field optical coherence tomography 
Full-field optical coherence tomography (FFOCT) is a real-time imaging technique that rapidly generates images reminiscent of histology without any tissue processing, warranting its exploration for evaluation of ex vivo kidney tissue.
Fresh tissue sections from tumor and adjacent nonneoplastic kidney (n = 25 nephrectomy specimens; clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC) = 12, papillary RCC (PRCC) = 4, chromophobe RCC (ChRCC) = 4, papillary urothelial carcinoma (PUC) = 1, angiomyolipoma (AML) = 2 and cystic nephroma = 2) were imaged with a commercial FFOCT device. Sections were submitted for routine histopathological diagnosis.
Glomeruli, tubules, interstitium, and blood vessels were identified in nonneoplastic tissue. In tumor sections, the normal architecture was completely replaced by either sheets of cells/trabeculae or papillary structures. The former pattern was seen predominantly in CCRCC/ChRCC and the latter in PRCC/PUC (as confirmed on H&E). Although the cellular details were not very prominent at this resolution, we could identify unique cytoplasmic signatures in some kidney tumors. For example, the hyper-intense punctate signal in the cytoplasm of CRCC represents glycogen/lipid, large cells with abundant hyper-intense cytoplasm representing histiocytes in PRCC, and signal-void large polygonal cell representing adipocytes in AML. According to a blinded analysis was performed by an uropathologist, all nonneoplastic tissues were differentiated from neoplastic tissues. Further, all benign tumors were called benign and malignant were called malignant. A diagnostic accuracy of 80% was obtained in subtyping the tumors.
The ability of FFOCT to reliably differentiate nonneoplastic from neoplastic tissue and identify some tumor types makes it a valuable tool for rapid evaluation of ex vivo kidney tissue e.g. for intraoperative margin assessment and kidney biopsy adequacy. Recently, higher resolution images were achieved using an experimental FFOCT setup. This setup has the potential to further increase the diagnostic accuracy of FFOCT.
PMCID: PMC4629311  PMID: 26605118
Ex vivo microscopy; full-field optical coherence tomography; histopathology; kidney; tumors
5.  Rethinking Antioxidants in the Intensive Care Unit 
Recently there was yet another clinical trial using antioxidants that failed in patients with critical illness. In this perspective, we suggest that antioxidants likely interfere with the normal immune response, thus contributing to the lack of efficacy in patients with critical illness.
PMCID: PMC3919077  PMID: 24117139
6.  Multiphoton tomographic imaging: a potential optical biopsy tool for detecting gastrointestinal inflammation and neoplasia 
Endoscopy is widely used to detect and remove premalignant lesions with the goal of preventing gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Because current endoscopes do not provide cellular resolution, all suspicious lesions are biopsied and subjected to histological evaluation. Technologies that facilitate directed biopsies should decrease both procedure-related morbidity and cost. Here we explore the use of multiphoton microscopy (MPM), an optical biopsy tool that relies on intrinsic tissue emissions, to evaluate pathology in both experimental and human GI specimens, using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained sections from these tissues for comparison. After evaluating the entire normal mouse GI tract, MPM was used to investigate disease progression in mouse models of colitis and colorectal carcinogenesis. MPM provided sufficient histological detail to identify all relevant substructures in ex vivo normal GI tissue, visualize both acute and resolving stages of colitis, and show the progression of colorectal carcinogenesis. Next, ex vivo specimens from human subjects with celiac sprue, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal neoplasia were imaged by MPM. Finally, colonic mucosa in live anesthetized rats was imaged in vivo using a flexible endoscope prototype. In both animal models and human specimens, MPM images demonstrated a striking similarity to the results of H&E staining, as demonstrated by the 100% concordance achieved by the study pathologists’ diagnoses. In summary, MPM is a promising technique that accurately visualizes histology in fresh, unstained tissues. Our findings support the continued development of MPM as a technology to enhance the early detection of GI pathologies including premalignant lesions.
PMCID: PMC3491145  PMID: 22961775
7.  Results of a phase IIa study of VX-809, an investigational CFTR corrector compound, in subjects with cystic fibrosis homozygous for the F508del-CFTR mutation 
Thorax  2011;67(1):12-18.
VX-809, a cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator, has been shown to increase the cell surface density of functional F508del-CFTR in vitro.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the safety, tolerability and pharmacodynamics of VX-809 in adult patients with cystic fibrosis (n=89) who were homozygous for the F508del-CFTR mutation. Subjects were randomised to one of four VX-809 28 day dose groups (25, 50, 100 and 200 mg) or matching placebo.
The type and incidence of adverse events were similar among VX-809- and placebo-treated subjects. Respiratory events were the most commonly reported and led to discontinuation by one subject in each active treatment arm. Pharmacokinetic data supported a once-daily oral dosing regimen. Pharmacodynamic data suggested that VX-809 improved CFTR function in at least one organ (sweat gland). VX-809 reduced elevated sweat chloride values in a dose-dependent manner (p=0.0013) that was statistically significant in the 100 and 200 mg dose groups. There was no statistically significant improvement in CFTR function in the nasal epithelium as measured by nasal potential difference, nor were there statistically significant changes in lung function or patient-reported outcomes. No maturation of immature F508del-CFTR was detected in the subgroup that provided rectal biopsy specimens.
In this study, VX-809 had a similar adverse event profile to placebo for 28 days in F508del-CFTR homozygous patients, and demonstrated biological activity with positive impact on CFTR function in the sweat gland. Additional data are needed to determine how improvements detected in CFTR function secondary to VX-809 in the sweat gland relate to those measurable in the respiratory tract and to long-term measures of clinical benefit. Clinical trial number NCT00865904
PMCID: PMC3746507  PMID: 21825083
8.  Proteasomal inhibition after injury prevents fibrosis by modulating TGF-β1 signalling 
Thorax  2011;67(2):139-146.
The development of organ fibrosis after injury requires activation of transforming growth factor β1 which regulates the transcription of profibrotic genes. The systemic administration of a proteasomal inhibitor has been reported to prevent the development of fibrosis in the liver, kidney and bone marrow. It is hypothesised that proteasomal inhibition would prevent lung and skin fibrosis after injury by inhibiting TGF-β1-mediated transcription.
Bortezomib, a small molecule proteasome inhibitor in widespread clinical use, was administered to mice beginning 7 days after the intratracheal or intradermal administration of bleomycin and lung and skin fibrosis was measured after 21 or 40 days, respectively. To examine the mechanism of this protection, bortezomib was administered to primary normal lung fibroblasts and primary lung and skin fibroblasts obtained from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and scleroderma, respectively.
Bortezomib promoted normal repair and prevented lung and skin fibrosis when administered beginning 7 days after the initiation of bleomycin. In primary human lung fibroblasts from normal individuals and patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and in skin fibroblasts from a patient with scleroderma, bortezomib inhibited TGF-β1-mediated target gene expression by inhibiting transcription induced by activated Smads. An increase in the abundance and activity of the nuclear hormone receptor PPARγ, a repressor of Smad-mediated transcription, contributed to this response.
Proteasomal inhibition prevents lung and skin fibrosis after injury in part by increasing the abundance and activity of PPARγ. Proteasomal inhibition may offer a novel therapeutic alternative in patients with dysregulated tissue repair and fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3595535  PMID: 21921091
9.  Full-field optical coherence tomography for the analysis of fresh unstained human lobectomy specimens 
Full-field optical coherence tomography (FFOCT) is a real-time imaging technique that generates high-resolution three-dimensional tomographic images from unprocessed and unstained tissues. Lack of tissue processing and associated artifacts, along with the ability to generate large-field images quickly, warrants its exploration as an alternative diagnostic tool.
Materials and Methods:
One section each from the tumor and from adjacent non-neoplastic tissue was collected from 13 human lobectomy specimens. They were imaged fresh with FFOCT and then submitted for routine histopathology. Two blinded pathologists independently rendered diagnoses based on FFOCT images.
Normal lung architecture (alveoli, bronchi, pleura and blood vessels) was readily identified with FFOCT. Using FFOCT images alone, the study pathologists were able to correctly identify all tumor specimens and in many cases, the histological subtype of tumor (e.g., adenocarcinomas with various patterns). However, benign diagnosis was provided with high confidence in roughly half the tumor-free specimens (others were diagnosed as equivocal or false positive). Further analysis of these images revealed two major confounding features: (a) Extensive lung collapse and (b) presence of smoker's macrophages. On a closer inspection, however, the smoker's macrophages could often be identified as distinct from tumor cells based on their relative location in the alveoli, size and presence of anthracosis. We posit that greater pathologist experience, complemented with morphometric analysis and color-coding of image components, may help minimize the contribution of these confounders in the future.
Our study provides evidence for the potential utility of FFOCT in identifying and differentiating lung tumors from non-neoplastic lung tissue. We foresee its potential as an adjunct to intra-surgical frozen section analysis for margin assessment, especially in limited lung resections.
PMCID: PMC3814996  PMID: 24244883
Full-field optical coherence tomography; histopathology; lobectomy; neoplastic tissue
10.  Nuclear β-Catenin Is Increased in Systemic Sclerosis Pulmonary Fibrosis and Promotes Lung Fibroblast Migration and Proliferation 
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.
PMCID: PMC3262680  PMID: 21454805
Wnt/β-catenin signaling; scleroderma; fibrosis
11.  Leptin Promotes Fibroproliferative Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome by Inhibiting Peroxisome Proliferator–activated Receptor-γ 
Rationale: Diabetic patients have a lower incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and those who develop ARDS are less likely to die. The mechanisms that underlie this protection are unknown.
Objectives: To determine whether leptin resistance, a feature of diabetes, prevents fibroproliferation after lung injury.
Methods: We examined lung injury and fibroproliferation after the intratracheal instillation of bleomycin in wild-type and leptin-resistant (db/db) diabetic mice. We examined the effect of leptin on transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1–mediated transcription in primary normal human lung fibroblasts. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL) samples from patients with ARDS and ventilated control subjects were obtained for measurement of leptin and active TGF-β1 levels.
Measurements and Main Results: Diabetic mice (db/db) were resistant to lung fibrosis. The db/db mice had higher levels of peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ (PPARγ), an inhibitor of the transcriptional response to TGF-β1, a cytokine critical in the pathogenesis of fibroproliferative ARDS. In normal human lung fibroblasts, leptin augmented the transcription of profibrotic genes in response to TGF-β1 through a mechanism that required PPARγ. In patients with ARDS, BAL leptin levels were elevated and correlated with TGF-β1 levels. Overall, there was no significant relationship between BAL leptin levels and clinical outcomes; however, in nonobese patients, higher BAL leptin levels were associated with fewer intensive care unit– and ventilator-free days and higher mortality.
Conclusions: Leptin signaling is required for bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. Leptin augments TGF-β1 signaling in lung fibroblasts by inhibiting PPARγ. These findings provide a mechanism for the observed protection against ARDS observed in diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC3266063  PMID: 21317313
acute lung injury; fibrosis; lung; diabetes mellitus
12.  Epithelial Cell Death Is an Important Contributor to Oxidant-mediated Acute Lung Injury 
Rationale: Acute lung injury and the acute respiratory distress syndrome are characterized by increased lung oxidant stress and apoptotic cell death. The contribution of epithelial cell apoptosis to the development of lung injury is unknown.
Objectives: To determine whether oxidant-mediated activation of the intrinsic or extrinsic apoptotic pathway contributes to the development of acute lung injury.
Methods: Exposure of tissue-specific or global knockout mice or cells lacking critical components of the apoptotic pathway to hyperoxia, a well-established mouse model of oxidant-induced lung injury, for measurement of cell death, lung injury, and survival.
Measurements and Main Results: We found that the overexpression of SOD2 prevents hyperoxia-induced BAX activation and cell death in primary alveolar epithelial cells and prolongs the survival of mice exposed to hyperoxia. The conditional loss of BAX and BAK in the lung epithelium prevented hyperoxia-induced cell death in alveolar epithelial cells, ameliorated hyperoxia-induced lung injury, and prolonged survival in mice. By contrast, Cyclophilin D–deficient mice were not protected from hyperoxia, indicating that opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore is dispensable for hyperoxia-induced lung injury. Mice globally deficient in the BH3-only proteins BIM, BID, PUMA, or NOXA, which are proximal upstream regulators of BAX and BAK, were not protected against hyperoxia-induced lung injury suggesting redundancy of these proteins in the activation of BAX or BAK.
Conclusions: Mitochondrial oxidant generation initiates BAX- or BAK-dependent alveolar epithelial cell death, which contributes to hyperoxia-induced lung injury.
PMCID: PMC3086743  PMID: 20959557
cell death; epithelium; Bcl-2 proteins; acute respiratory distress syndrome
13.  Clinical Significance of Microbial Infection and Adaptation in Cystic Fibrosis 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2011;24(1):29-70.
Summary: A select group of microorganisms inhabit the airways of individuals with cystic fibrosis. Once established within the pulmonary environment in these patients, many of these microbes adapt by altering aspects of their structure and physiology. Some of these microbes and adaptations are associated with more rapid deterioration in lung function and overall clinical status, whereas others appear to have little effect. Here we review current evidence supporting or refuting a role for the different microbes and their adaptations in contributing to poor clinical outcomes in cystic fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3021203  PMID: 21233507
14.  Full field optical coherence tomography can identify spermatogenesis in a rodent sertoli-cell only model 
Microdissection testicular sperm extraction (micro-TESE) has replaced conventional testis biopsies as a method of choice for obtaining sperm for in vitro fertilization for men with nonobstructive azoospermia. A technical challenge of micro-TESE is that the low magnification inspection of the tubules with a surgical microscope is insufficient to definitively identify sperm-containing tubules, necessitating tissue removal and cytologic assessment. Full field optical coherence tomography (FFOCT) uses white light interference microscopy to generate quick high-resolution tomographic images of fresh (unprocessed and unstained) tissue. Furthermore, by using a nonlaser safe light source (150 W halogen lamp) for tissue illumination, it ensures that the sperm extracted for in vitro fertilization are not photo-damaged or mutagenized.
Materials and Methods:
A focal Sertoli-cell only rodent model was created with busulfan injection in adult rats. Ex vivo testicular tissues from both normal and busulfan-treated rats were imaged with a commercial modified FFOCT system, Light-CT™, and the images were correlated with gold standard hematoxylin and eosin staining.
Light-CT™ identified spermatogenesis within the seminiferous tubules in freshly excised testicular tissue, without the use of exogenous contrast or fixation. Normal adult rats exhibited tubules with uniform size and shape (diameter 328 ±11 μm). The busulfan-treated animals showed marked heterogeneity in tubular size and shape (diameter 178 ± 35 μm) and only 10% contained sperm within the lumen.
FFOCT has the potential to facilitate real-time visualization of spermatogenesis in humans, and aid in micro-TESE for men with infertility.
PMCID: PMC3307228  PMID: 22439124
micro-TESE; rat model; sertoli cell only; testis
15.  Regulation of Matrix Remodeling by Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ: A Novel Link Between Metabolism and Fibrogenesis 
The intractable process of fibrosis underlies the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis (SSc) and other diseases, and in aggregate contributes to 45% of deaths worldwide. Because currently there is no effective anti-fibrotic therapy, a better understanding of the pathways and cellular differentiation programs underlying fibrosis are needed. Emerging evidence points to a fundamental role of the nuclear hormone receptor peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) in modulating fibrogenesis. While PPAR-γ has long been known to be important in lipid metabolism and in glucose homeostasis, its role in regulating mesenchymal cell biology and its association with pathological fibrosis had not been appreciated until recently. This article highlights recent studies revealing a consistent association of fibrosis with aberrant PPAR-γ expression and activity in various forms of human fibrosis and in rodent models, and reviews studies linking genetic manipulation of the PPAR-γ pathway in rodents and fibrosis. We survey the broad range of anti-fibrotic activities associated with PPAR-γ and the underlying mechanisms. We also summarize the emerging data linking PPAR-γ dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which together with fibrosis is responsible for the mortality in patients in SSc. Finally, we consider current and potential future strategies for targeting PPAR-γ activity or expression as a therapy for controlling fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3396343  PMID: 22802908
PPAR-γ; SPPARM; systemic sclerosis; TGF-β.
16.  Beyond Mortality 
Mortality in National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute–sponsored clinical trials of treatments for acute lung injury (ALI) has decreased dramatically during the past two decades. As a consequence, design of such trials based on a mortality outcome requires ever-increasing numbers of patients. Recognizing that advances in clinical trial design might be applicable to these trials and might allow trials with fewer patients, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute convened a workshop of extramural experts from several disciplines. The workshop assessed the current state of clinical research addressing ALI, identified research needs, and recommended: (1) continued performance of trials evaluating treatments of patients with ALI; (2) development of strategies to perform ALI prevention trials; (3) observational studies of patients without ALI undergoing prolonged mechanical ventilation; and (4) development of a standardized format for reporting methods, endpoints, and results of ALI trials.
PMCID: PMC2874454  PMID: 20224063
clinical trials; acute respiratory distress syndrome; pulmonary diseases; edema; inflammation
17.  Proteasomal Regulation of Pulmonary Fibrosis 
It is estimated that, combined, 400,000 people are diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) or acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome annually in the United States, and both diseases are associated with an unacceptably high mortality rate. Although these disorders are distinct clinical entities, they share pathogenic mechanisms that may provide overlapping therapeutic targets. One example is fibroblast activation, which occurs concomitant with acute lung injury as well as in the progressive fibrosis of IPF. Both clinical entities are characterized by elevations of the profibrotic cytokine, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1. Protein degradation by the ubiquitin–proteasomal system modulates TGF-β1 expression and signaling. In this review, we highlight the effects of proteasomal inhibition in various animal models of tissue fibrosis and mechanisms by which it may regulate TGF-β1 expression and signaling. At present, there are no effective therapies for fibroproliferative acute respiratory distress syndrome or IPF, and proteasomal inhibition may provide a novel, attractive target in these devastating diseases.
PMCID: PMC3137153  PMID: 20160152
acute respiratory distress syndrome; transforming growth factor-β1; Smad; ubiquitination
18.  Modified full-field optical coherence tomography: A novel tool for rapid histology of tissues 
Here, we report the first use of a commercial prototype of full-field optical coherence tomography called Light-CT™. Based on the principle of white light interferometry, Light-CT™ generates quick high-resolution three-dimensional tomographic images from unprocessed tissues. Its advantage over the current intra-surgical diagnostic standard, i.e. frozen section analysis, lies in the absence of freezing artifacts, which allows real-time diagnostic impressions, and/or for the tissues to be triaged for subsequent conventional histopathology.
Materials and Methods:
In this study, we recapitulate known normal histology in nine formalin fixed ex vivo rat organs (skin, heart, lung, liver, stomach, kidney, prostate, urinary bladder, and testis). Large surface and virtually sectioned stacks of images at varying depths were acquired by a pair of 10×/0.3 numerical aperture water immersion objectives, processed and visualized in real time.
Normal histology of the following organs was recapitulated by identifying various tissue microstructures. Skin: epidermis, dermal-epidermal junction and hair follicles with surrounding sebaceous glands in the dermis. Stomach: mucosa with surface pits, submucosa, muscularis propria and serosa. Liver: hepatocytes separated by sinusoidal spaces, central veins and portal triad. Kidney: convoluted tubules, medullary rays (straight tubules) and collecting ducts. Prostate: acini and fibro-muscular stroma. Lung: bronchi, bronchioles, alveolar ducts, alveoli and pleura. Urinary bladder: urothelium, lamina propria, muscularis propria, and serosa. Testis: seminiferous tubules with intra-tubular sperms.
Light-CT™ is a powerful imaging tool to perform fast histology on fresh and fixed tissues, without introducing artifacts. Its compact size, ease of handling, fast image acquisition and safe incident light levels makes it well-suited for various intra-operative and intra-procedural triaging and decision making applications.
PMCID: PMC3132994  PMID: 21773059
Ex vivo; histology; optical coherence tomography; organs; rat
19.  PPARγ Downregulation by TGFß in Fibroblast and Impaired Expression and Function in Systemic Sclerosis: A Novel Mechanism for Progressive Fibrogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13778.
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.
PMCID: PMC2970611  PMID: 21072170
20.  Evolution of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type III secretion in cystic fibrosis: a paradigm of chronic infection 
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) from acute and chronic (e.g. cystic fibrosis [CF]) infections differ in several respects though they can worsen prognosis in each context. Factors that facilitate conversion from an acute to chronic phenotype are poorly understood. Type III (T3) secretion proteins are virulence factors associated with poorer outcomes in acute infections, but little is known about their role in CF. We wished to characterize T3 secretion in CF PA isolates and examine its role in clinical outcomes. One-hundred fourteen CF subjects were divided into 3 cohorts: 1st infected individuals, chronically infected (CI) children, and adults. Serial respiratory cultures were analyzed for T3 secretion. Serial spirometry and exacerbation data were prospectively collected. In 1st infection, 45.2% +/− 9.1% of PA isolates secreted T3 proteins compared to 29.1% +/− 4.2% and 11.5% +/− 3.0% in CI children and CI adults, respectively (p<0.001). There was an inverse correlation between duration of PA infection and percent T3 positive isolates (r=−0.32, p<0.001). Overall there was no association between T3 secretion and pulmonary outcomes, but in the subgroup of subjects who had at least one T3 positive organism, T3 secretion was inversely correlated with FEV1 decline (r=−0.35, p=0.02). In 1st infection, 82% of cultures grew either all or no T3 positive organisms. In these patients, T3 secretion was associated with greater risk of subsequent PA isolation (p<0.001). In CF, PA T3 secretion decreases with residence time in lung, may predict FEV1 decline in patients who have detectable T3 organisms, and may facilitate persistence following 1st infection.
PMCID: PMC2628760  PMID: 19059160
cystic fibrosis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; type III secretion; virulence factors; outcome; FEV1
21.  BH3 Peptides Induce Mitochondrial Fission and Cell Death Independent of BAX/BAK 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5646.
BH3 only proteins trigger cell death by interacting with pro- and anti-apoptotic members of the BCL-2 family of proteins. Here we report that BH3 peptides corresponding to the death domain of BH3-only proteins, which bind all the pro-survival BCL-2 family proteins, induce cell death in the absence of BAX and BAK. The BH3 peptides did not cause the release of cytochrome c from isolated mitochondria or from mitochondria in cells. However, the BH3 peptides did cause a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential but did not induce the opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Interestingly, the BH3 peptides induced mitochondria to undergo fission in the absence of BAX and BAK. The binding of BCL-XL with dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1), a GTPase known to regulate mitochondrial fission, increased in the presence of BH3 peptides. These results suggest that pro-survival BCL-2 proteins regulate mitochondrial fission and cell death in the absence of BAX and BAK.
PMCID: PMC2681411  PMID: 19468307
22.  Head CT is of limited diagnostic value in critically ill patients who remain unresponsive after discontinuation of sedation 
BMC Anesthesiology  2009;9:3.
Prolonged sedation is common in mechanically ventilated patients and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. We sought to determine the diagnostic value of head computed tomography (CT) in mechanically ventilated patients who remain unresponsive after discontinuation of sedation.
A retrospective review of adult (age >18 years of age) patients consecutively admitted to the medical intensive care unit of a tertiary care medical center. Patients requiring mechanical ventilation for management of respiratory failure for longer than 72 hours were included in the study group. A group that did not have difficulty with awakening was included as a control.
The median time after sedation was discontinued until a head CT was performed was 2 days (interquartile range 1.375–2 days). Majority (80%) of patients underwent head CT evaluation within the first 48 hours after discontinuation of sedation. Head CT was non-diagnostic in all but one patient who had a small subarachnoid hemorrhage. Twenty-five patients (60%) had a normal head CT. Head CT findings did not alter the management of any of the patients. The control group was similar to the experimental group with respect to demographics, etiology of respiratory failure and type of sedation used. However, while 37% of subjects in the control group had daily interruption of sedation, only 19% in the patient group had daily interruption of sedation (p < 0.05).
In patients on mechanical ventilation for at least 72 hours and who remain unresponsive after sedative discontinuation and with a non-focal neurologic examination, head CT is performed early and is of very limited diagnostic utility. Routine use of daily interruption of sedation is used in a minority of patients outside of a clinical trial setting though it may decrease the frequency of unresponsiveness from prolonged sedation and the need for head CT in patients mechanically ventilated for a prolonged period.
PMCID: PMC2685364  PMID: 19422697
23.  Bench-to-bedside review: Distal airways in acute respiratory distress syndrome 
Critical Care  2007;11(1):206.
Distal airways are less than 2 mm in diameter, comprising a relatively large cross-sectional area that allows for slower, laminar airflow. The airways include both membranous bronchioles and gas exchange ducts, and have been referred to in the past as the 'quiet zone', in part because these structures were felt to contribute little to lung mechanics and in part because they were difficult to study directly. More recent data suggest that distal airway dysfunction plays a significant role in acute respiratory distress syndrome. In addition, injurious mechanical ventilation strategies may contribute to distal airway dysfunction. The presence of elevated airway resistance, intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure or a lower inflection point on a pressure–volume curve of the respiratory system may indicate the presence of impaired distal airway function. There are no proven specific treatments for distal airway dysfunction, and protective ventilation strategies to minimize distal airway injury may be the best therapeutic approach at this time.
PMCID: PMC2151900  PMID: 17306039
24.  Type III Secretion Phenotypes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Strains Change during Infection of Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(11):5229-5237.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a frequent cause of respiratory exacerbations in individuals with cystic fibrosis. An important virulence determinant of this pathogen is its type III protein secretion system. In this study, the type III secretion properties of 435 P. aeruginosa respiratory isolates from 56 chronically infected individuals with cystic fibrosis were investigated. Although it had been previously reported that 75 to 90% of P. aeruginosa isolates from patients with hospital-acquired pneumonia secreted type III proteins, only 12% of isolates from cystic fibrosis patients did so, with nearly all of these isolates secreting ExoS and ExoT but not ExoU. Despite the low overall prevalence of type III protein-secreting isolates, at least one secreting isolate was cultured from one-third of cystic fibrosis patients. Interestingly, the fraction of cystic fibrosis patient isolates capable of secreting type III proteins decreased with duration of infection. Although 90% of isolates from the environment, the presumed reservoir for the majority of P. aeruginosa strains that infect patients with cystic fibrosis, secreted type III proteins, only 49% of isolates from newly infected children, 18% of isolates from chronically infected children, and 4% of isolates from chronically infected adults with cystic fibrosis secreted these proteins. Within individual patients, isolates of clonal origin differed in their secretion phenotypes, indicating that as strains persisted in cystic fibrosis patient airways, their type III protein secretion properties changed. Together, these findings indicate that following infection of cystic fibrosis patient airways, P. aeruginosa strains gradually change from a type III protein secretion-positive phenotype to a secretion-negative phenotype.
PMCID: PMC525189  PMID: 15528719

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