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1.  Methodological challenges in utilizing miRNAs as circulating biomarkers 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as important regulators in the post-transcriptional control of gene expression. The discovery of their presence not only in tissues but also in extratissular fluids, including blood, urine and cerebro-spinal fluid, together with their changes in expression in various pathological conditions, has implicated these extracellular miRNAs as informative biomarkers of disease. However, exploiting miRNAs in this capacity requires methodological rigour. Here, we report several key procedural aspects of miRNA isolation from plasma and serum, as exemplified by research in cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. We also highlight the advantages and disadvantages of various profiling methods to determine the expression levels of plasma-and serum-derived miRNAs. Attention to such methodological details is critical, as circulating miRNAs become diagnostic tools for various human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3943687  PMID: 24533657
biomarkers; microRNA; circulating microRNAs; plasma; serum; real-time PCR; profiling
2.  Epigenetic Regulation of miR-17∼92 Contributes to the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Rationale: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease of progressive lung fibrosis with a high mortality rate. In organ repair and remodeling, epigenetic events are important. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally and can target epigenetic molecules important in DNA methylation. The miR-17∼92 miRNA cluster is critical for lung development and lung epithelial cell homeostasis and is predicted to target fibrotic genes and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT)-1 expression.
Objectives: We investigated the miR-17∼92 cluster expression and its role in regulating DNA methylation events in IPF lung tissue.
Methods: Expression and DNA methylation patterns of miR-17∼92 were determined in human IPF lung tissue and fibroblasts and fibrotic mouse lung tissue. The relationship between the miR-17∼92 cluster and DNMT-1 expression was examined in vitro. Using a murine model of pulmonary fibrosis, we examined the therapeutic potential of the demethylating agent, 5′-aza-2′-deoxycytidine.
Measurements and Main Results: Compared with control samples, miR-17∼92 expression was reduced in lung biopsies and lung fibroblasts from patients with IPF, whereas DNMT-1 expression and methylation of the miR-17∼92 promoter was increased. Several miRNAs from the miR-17∼92 cluster targeted DNMT-1 expression resulting in a negative feedback loop. Similarly, miR-17∼92 expression was reduced in the lungs of bleomycin-treated mice. Treatment with 5′-aza-2′-deoxycytidine in a murine bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis model reduced fibrotic gene and DNMT-1 expression, enhanced miR-17∼92 cluster expression, and attenuated pulmonary fibrosis.
Conclusions: This study provides insight into the pathobiology of IPF and identifies a novel epigenetic feedback loop between miR-17∼92 and DNMT-1 in lung fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3603596  PMID: 23306545
microRNA; miR-17∼92; pulmonary fibrosis; DNA methylation; DNMT-1
3.  Stabilization of HIF-2α induces sVEGFR-1 production from tumor-associated macrophages and decreases tumor growth in a murine melanoma model1 
Macrophage secretion of VEGF in response to hypoxia contributes to tumor growth and angiogenesis. In addition to VEGF, hypoxic macrophages stimulated with GM-CSF secrete high levels of a soluble form of the VEGF receptor (sVEGFR-1), which neutralizes VEGF and inhibits its biological activity. Using mice with a monocyte/macrophage-selective deletion of HIF-1α or HIF-2α, we recently demonstrated that the anti-tumor response to GM-CSF was dependent on HIF-2α-driven sVEGFR-1 production by tumor-associated macrophages, while HIF-1α specifically regulated VEGF production. We therefore hypothesized that chemical stabilization of HIF-2α using an inhibitor of prolyl hydroxylase 3 (PHD3; an upstream inhibitor of HIF-2α activation) would increase sVEGFR-1 production from GM-CSF-stimulated macrophages. Treatment of macrophages with the PHD3 inhibitor AKB-6899 stabilized HIF-2α and increased sVEGFR-1 production from GM-CSF-treated macrophages, with no effect on HIF-1α accumulation or VEGF production. Treatment of B16F10 melanoma-bearing mice with GM-CSF and AKB-6899 significantly reduced tumor growth compared to either drug alone. Increased levels of sVEGFR-1 mRNA, but not VEGF mRNA, were detected within the tumors of GM-CSF- and AKB-6899-treated mice, correlating with decreased tumor vascularity. Finally, the anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic effects of AKB-6899 were abrogated when mice were simultaneously treated with a sVEGFR-1 neutralizing antibody. These results demonstrate that AKB-6899 decreases tumor growth and angiogenesis in response to GM-CSF by increasing sVEGFR-1 production from tumor-associated macrophages. Specific activation of HIF-2α can therefore decrease tumor growth and angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3436995  PMID: 22869907
4.  sRAGE Induces Human Monocyte Survival and Differentiation 
The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) is produced either as a transmembrane or soluble form (sRAGE). Substantial evidence supports a role for RAGE and its ligands in disease. sRAGE is reported to be a competitive, negative regulator of membrane RAGE activation, inhibiting ligand binding. However, some reports indicate that sRAGE is associated with inflammatory disease. We sought to define the biological function of sRAGE on inflammatory cell recruitment, survival, and differentiation in vivo and in vitro. To test the in vivo impact of sRAGE, the recombinant protein was intratracheally administered to mice, which demonstrated monocyte- and neutrophil-mediated lung inflammation. We also observed that sRAGE induced human monocyte and neutrophil migration in vitro. Human monocytes treated with sRAGE produced proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Our data demonstrated that sRAGE directly bound human monocytes and monocyte-derived macrophages. Binding of sRAGE to monocytes promoted their survival and differentiation to macrophages. Furthermore, sRAGE binding to cells increased during maturation, which was similar in freshly isolated mouse monocytes compared with mature tissue macrophages. Because sRAGE activated cell survival and differentiation, we examined intracellular pathways that were activated by sRAGE. In primary human monocytes and macrophages, sRAGE treatment activated Akt, Erk, and NF-κB, and their activation appeared to be critical for cell survival and differentiation. Our data suggest a novel role for sRAGE in monocyte- and neutrophil-mediated inflammation and mononuclear phagocyte survival and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3671884  PMID: 20574008
5.  Transcription Factor ets-2 Plays an Important Role in the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Ets-2 is a ubiquitous transcription factor activated after phosphorylation at threonine-72. Previous studies highlighted the importance of phosphorylated ets-2 in lung inflammation and extracellular matrix remodeling, two pathways involved in pulmonary fibrosis. We hypothesized that phosphorylated ets-2 played an important role in pulmonary fibrosis, and we sought to determine the role of ets-2 in its pathogenesis. We challenged ets-2 (A72/A72) transgenic mice (harboring a mutated form of ets-2 at phosphorylation site threonine-72) and ets-2 (wild-type/wild-type [WT/WT]) control mice with sequential intraperitoneal injections of bleomycin, followed by quantitative measurements of lung fibrosis and inflammation and primary cell in vitro assays. Concentrations of phosphorylated ets-2 were detected via the single and dual immunohistochemical staining of murine lungs and lung sections from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Ets-2 (A72/A72) mice were protected from bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, compared with ets-2 (WT/WT) mice. This protection was characterized by decreased lung pathological abnormalities and the fibrotic gene expression of Type I collagen, Type III collagen, α–smooth muscle actin, and connective tissue growth factor. Immunohistochemical staining of lung sections from bleomycin-treated ets-2 (WT/WT) mice and from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis demonstrated increased staining of phosphorylated ets-2 that colocalized with Type I collagen expression and to fibroblastic foci. Lastly, primary lung fibroblasts from ets-2 (A72/A72) mice exhibited decreased expression of Type I collagen in response to stimulation with TGF-β, compared with fibroblasts from ets-2 (WT/WT) mice. These data indicate the importance of phosphorylated ets-2 in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis through the expression of Type I collagen and (myo)fibroblast activation.
PMCID: PMC3262682  PMID: 21562315
ets-2; Type I collagen; pulmonary fibrosis; bleomycin; fibroblast
6.  HIF-2α regulates GM-CSF-derived sVEGFR-1 production from macrophages and inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis1 
Macrophage secretion of VEGF in response to the hypoxic tumor microenvironment contributes to tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis. We have recently demonstrated that macrophages stimulated with GM-CSF at low O2 secrete high levels of a soluble form of the VEGF receptor (sVEGFR-1), which neutralizes VEGF and inhibits its biological activity. Using siRNA targeting to deplete HIF-1α or HIF-2α in murine macrophages, we found that macrophage production of sVEGFR-1 in response to low O2 was dependent on HIF-2α, while HIF-1α specifically regulated VEGF production. In our current report, we evaluated the growth of B16F10 malignant melanoma in mice with a monocyte/macrophage-selective deletion of HIF-1α or HIF-2α (HIF-1αflox/flox-or HIF-2αflox/+/LysMcre mice). GM-CSF treatment increased intra-tumoral VEGF and sVEGFR-1 in control mice, an effect that was associated with a decrease in microvessel density. GM-CSF treatment of HIF-1αflox/flox/LysMcre mice induced sVEGFR-1 but not VEGF, resulting in an overall greater reduction in tumor growth and angiogenesis compared to control mice. In addition, real-time PCR for melanoma-specific genes revealed a significantly reduced presence of lung micrometastases in HIF-1αflox/flox/LysMcre mice treated with GM-CSF. Conversely, GM-CSF treatment induced VEGF but not sVEGFR-1 in HIF-2αflox/+/LysMcre mice, and correspondingly, GM-CSF did not decrease tumor growth, angiogenesis, or lung metastasis in these mice. This study reveals opposing roles for the HIFs in the regulation of angiogenesis by tumor-associated macrophages, and suggests that administration of GM-CSF might be an effective means of inducing sVEGFR-1 and inhibiting tumor growth and angiogenesis in patients with melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3150377  PMID: 21765015
7.  Thrombospondin-1–Deficient Mice Are Not Protected from Bleomycin-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) is an extracellular protein critical to normal lung homeostasis, and is reported to activate latent transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β). Because active TGF-β is causally involved in lung fibrosis after bleomycin challenge, alterations in TSP-1 may be relevant to pulmonary fibrosis. We sought to determine the effects of TSP-1 deficiency on the susceptibility to bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in a murine model. Age-matched and sex-matched C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) and TSP-1–deficient mice were treated twice weekly for 4 weeks with intraperitoneal bleomycin (0.035 U/g) or PBS, and were allowed to rest 1 week before being killed. Their lungs were inflated with PBS, fixed in formalin, paraffin-embedded, and sectioned. A certified veterinary pathologist blindly scored each slide for inflammation and fibrosis. Lungs were homogenized to obtain RNA and protein for the real-time RT-PCR analysis of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and collagen I, and for Western blotting to detect phospho-Smad2, or total Smad2/3, respectively. In response to bleomycin treatment, measures of fibrosis and inflammation, along with CTGF and collagen I mRNA concentrations, were increased in TSP-1–deficient mice compared with WT mice. Notably, Smad 2/3 signaling was of equal strength in WT and TSP-1 knockout mice treated with bleomycin, suggesting that TSP-1 is not required for the activation of TGF-β. These results demonstrate that TSP-1 deficiency does not protect mice from systemic bleomycin challenge, and that TSP-1 deficiency is associated with increased expression of lung collagen and CTGF.
PMCID: PMC3095927  PMID: 20581099
TSP-1; pulmonary fibrosis; TGF-β; bleomycin
8.  Social disruption induces lung inflammation 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2009;24(3):394-402.
Social disruption (SDR) is a well-characterized mouse stressor that causes changes in immune cell reactivity in response to inflammatory stimuli. In this study, we found that SDR in the absence of an immune challenge induced pulmonary inflammation and increased pulmonary myeloperoxidase activity. The percentage of neutrophils within the lungs increased 2-fold after social disruption. Monocyte accumulation in the lungs was also significantly increased. In addition, SDR increased the percentage of neutrophils that expressed CD11b, indicating that more neutrophils were in an activated state. In the lungs, we observed an increased level of the inflammatory cytokine, IL-1β, as well as higher levels of KC/CXCL1, MIP2/CXCL2, and MCP-1/CCL2, which are chemokines responsible for neutrophil and monocyte recruitment. Furthermore, social disruption led to increased lung expression of the adhesion molecules P-selectin, E-selectin, and ICAM-1, which localize and recruit immune cells. These data support previous findings of an inflammatory environment induced by SDR. We demonstrate that this effect also occurs in the pulmonary milieu and in the absence of an inflammatory stimulus.
PMCID: PMC2826531  PMID: 19903521
Innate immunity; social stress; psychoneuroimmunology; lung; inflammation; Social disruption (SDR)
Cancer research  2009;69(5):2133-2140.
Tumor-educated macrophages facilitate tumor metastasis and angiogenesis. We discovered that GM-CSF blocked macrophages VEGF activity by producing soluble VEGF receptor-1 (sVEGFR-1) and determined the effect on tumor-associated macrophage behavior and tumor growth. We show GM-CSF treatment of murine mammary tumors slowed tumor growth and slowed metastasis. These tumors had more macrophages, fewer blood vessels, and lower oxygen concentrations. This effect was sVEGFR-1 dependent. In situ hybridization and flow cytometry identified macrophages as the primary source of sVEGFR-1. These data suggest that GM-CSF can re-educate macrophages to reduce angiogenesis and metastases in murine breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2722508  PMID: 19223554
10.  Important Roles for Macrophage Colony-stimulating Factor, CC Chemokine Ligand 2, and Mononuclear Phagocytes in the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Rationale: An increase in the number of mononuclear phagocytes in lung biopsies from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) worsens prognosis. Chemokines that recruit mononuclear phagocytes, such as CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), are elevated in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid (BALF) from patients with IPF. However, little attention is given to the role of the mononuclear phagocyte survival and recruitment factor, macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), in pulmonary fibrosis.
Objectives: To investigate the role of mononuclear phagocytes and M-CSF in pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods: Wild-type, M-CSF−/−, or CCL2−/− mice received intraperitoneal bleomycin. Lung inflammation and fibrosis were measured by immunohistochemistry, ELISA, collagen assay, BAL differentials, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and Western blot analysis. Human and mouse macrophages were stimulated with M-CSF for CCL2 expression. BALF from patients with IPF was examined for M-CSF and CCL2.
Measurements and Main Results: M-CSF−/− and CCL2−/− mice had less lung fibrosis, mononuclear phagocyte recruitment, collagen deposition, and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression after bleomycin administration than wild-type littermates. Human and mouse macrophages stimulated with M-CSF had increased CCL2 production, and intratracheal administration of M-CSF in mice induced CCL2 production in BALF. Finally, BALF from patients with IPF contained significantly more M-CSF and CCL2 than BALF from normal volunteers. Elevated levels of M-CSF were associated with elevated CCL2 in BALF and the diagnosis of IPF.
Conclusions: These data suggest that M-CSF contributes to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis in mice and in patients with IPF through the involvement of mononuclear phagocytes and CCL2 production.
PMCID: PMC2049062  PMID: 17431224
bleomycin; CC chemokine ligand 2; macrophage colony-stimulating factor; mononuclear phagocytes; pulmonary fibrosis
11.  Organ-derived coatings on electrospun nanofibers as ex vivo microenvironments 
Biomaterials  2010;32(2):538-546.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an interstitial lung disease characterized by irreversible scarring. Collagen deposition, myofibroblast expansion, and the development of fibroblastic foci are the hallmark pathological events. The origin and mechanism of recruitment of myofibroblasts, the key cell contributing to these events, is unknown. We hypothesize that the fibrotic lung microenvironment causes differentiation of arriving bone marrow-derived cells into myofibroblasts. Therefore, a method of isolating the effects of fibrotic microenvironment components on various cell types was developed. Electrospun nanofibers were coated with lung extracts from fibrotic or nonfibrotic mice and used to determine effects on bone marrow cells from naïve mice. Varying moduli nanofibers were also employed to determine matrix stiffness effects on these cells. At structured time points, bone marrow cell morphology was recorded and changes in fibrotic gene expression determined by real-time PCR. Cells plated on extracts isolated from fibrotic murine lungs secreted larger amounts of extracellular matrix, adopted a fibroblastic morphology, and exhibited increased myofibroblast gene expression after 8 and 14 days; cells plated on extracts from nonfibrotic lungs did not. Similar results were observed when the nanofiber modulus was increased. This ex vivo system appears to recapitulate the three-dimensional fibrotic lung microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3671867  PMID: 20875916
Fibrosis; ECM; Electrospinning; Polycaprolactone; Fibroblast; Three-dimensional cell culture
12.  The Role of the NADPH Oxidase Complex, p38 MAPK, and Akt in Regulating Human Monocyte/Macrophage Survival 
M-CSF induces PI 3-kinase activation, resulting in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Previously, we reported that ROS mediate macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF)–induced extracellular regulated kinase (Erk) activation and monocyte survival. In this work, we hypothesized that M-CSF–stimulated ROS products modulated Akt1 and p38 activation. Furthermore, we sought to clarify the source of these ROS and the role of ROS and Akt in monocyte/macrophage survival. Macrophages from p47phox−/− mice, lacking a key component of the NADPH oxidase complex required for ROS generation, had reduced cell survival and Akt1 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation compared with wild-type macrophages in response to M-CSF stimulation, but had no difference in M-CSF–stimulated Erk. To understand how ROS affected monocyte survival and signaling, we observed that NAC and DPI decreased cell survival and Akt1 and p38 MAPK phosphorylation. Using bone marrow–derived macrophages from mice expressing constitutively activated Akt1 (Myr-Akt1) or transfecting Myr-Akt1 constructs into human peripheral monocytes, we concluded that Akt is a positive regulator of monocyte survival. Moreover, the p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, inhibited p38 activity and M-CSF–induced monocyte survival. These findings demonstrate that ROS generated from the NADPH oxidase complex contribute to monocyte/macrophage survival induced by M-CSF via regulation of Akt and p38 MAPK.
PMCID: PMC1899309  PMID: 16931806
Akt; macrophage/monocyte; p47phox; p38 MAP; ROS
13.  Future Directions in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research. An NHLBI Workshop Report 
The median survival of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) continues to be approximately 3 years from the time of diagnosis, underscoring the lack of effective medical therapies for this disease. In the United States alone, approximately 40,000 patients die of this disease annually. In November 2012, the NHLBI held a workshop aimed at coordinating research efforts and accelerating the development of IPF therapies. Basic, translational, and clinical researchers gathered with representatives from the NHLBI, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review the current state of IPF research and identify priority areas, opportunities for collaborations, and directions for future research. The workshop was organized into groups that were tasked with assessing and making recommendations to promote progress in one of the following six critical areas of research: (1) biology of alveolar epithelial injury and aberrant repair; (2) role of extracellular matrix; (3) preclinical modeling; (4) role of inflammation and immunity; (5) genetic, epigenetic, and environmental determinants; (6) translation of discoveries into diagnostics and therapeutics. The workshop recommendations provide a basis for directing future research and strategic planning by scientific, professional, and patient communities and the NHLBI.
PMCID: PMC3983890  PMID: 24160862
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; alveolar epithelial cells; extracellular matrix; interstitial lung disease; inflammation
14.  Activation of Estrogen Receptor Alpha Reduces Aortic Smooth Muscle Differentiation 
Circulation research  2006;99(5):477-484.
Women are at high risk of dying from unrecognized cardiovascular disease. Many differences in cardiovascular disease between men and women appear to be mediated by vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC). Since estrogen reduces the proliferation of SMC, we hypothesized that activation of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) by agonists or by growth factors altered SMC function. To determine the effect of growth factors, estrogen, and ERα expression on SMC differentiation, human aortic SMC were cultured in serum-free conditions for 10 days. SMC from men had lower spontaneous expression of ERα and higher levels of the differentiation markers calponin and smooth muscle α-actin than SMC from women. When SMC containing low expression of ERα were transduced with a lentivirus containing ERα, activation of the receptor by ligands or growth factors reduced differentiation markers. Conversely, inhibiting ERα expression by small interfering (si) RNA in cells expressing high levels of ERα enhanced the expression of differentiation markers. ERα expression and activation reduced the phosphorylation of Smad2, a signaling molecule important in differentiation of SMC, and initiated cell death through cleavage of caspase-3. We conclude that ERα activation switched SMC to a dedifferentiated phenotype and may contribute to plaque instability.
PMCID: PMC1905928  PMID: 16873715
apoptosis; cardiovascular disease; gene expression; nuclear receptors; smooth muscle differentiation
15.  Involvement of Tumor Macrophage HIFs in Chemotherapy Effectiveness: Mathematical Modeling of Oxygen, pH, and Glutathione 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e107511.
The four variables, hypoxia, acidity, high glutathione (GSH) concentration and fast reducing rate (redox) are distinct and varied characteristics of solid tumors compared to normal tissue. These parameters are among the most significant factors underlying the metabolism and physiology of solid tumors, regardless of their type or origin. Low oxygen tension contributes to both inhibition of cancer cell proliferation and therapeutic resistance of tumors; low extracellular pH, the reverse of normal cells, mainly enhances tumor invasion; and dysregulated GSH and redox potential within cancer cells favor their proliferation. In fact, cancer cells under these microenvironmental conditions appreciably alter tumor response to cytotoxic anti-cancer treatments. Recent experiments measured the in vivo longitudinal data of these four parameters with tumor development and the corresponding presence and absence of tumor macrophage HIF-1α or HIF-2α in a mouse model of breast cancer. In the current paper, we present a mathematical model-based system of (ordinary and partial) differential equations to monitor tumor growth and susceptibility to standard chemotherapy with oxygen level, pH, and intracellular GSH concentration. We first show that our model simulations agree with the corresponding experiments, and then we use our model to suggest treatments of tumors by altering these four parameters in tumor microenvironment. For example, the model qualitatively predicts that GSH depletion can raise the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) above a toxic threshold and result in inhibition of tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC4189793  PMID: 25295611
16.  MicroRNA 17-92 Cluster Mediates ETS1 and ETS2-Dependent RAS-Oncogenic Transformation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100693.
The ETS-family transcription factors Ets1 and Ets2 are evolutionarily conserved effectors of the RAS/ERK signaling pathway, but their function in Ras cellular transformation and biology remains unclear. Taking advantage of Ets1 and Ets2 mouse models to generate Ets1/Ets2 double knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we demonstrate that deletion of both Ets1 and Ets2 was necessary to inhibit HrasG12V induced transformation both in vitro and in vivo. HrasG12V expression in mouse embryonic fibroblasts increased ETS1 and ETS2 expression and binding to cis-regulatory elements on the c-Myc proximal promoter, and consequently induced a robust increase in MYC expression. The expression of the oncogenic microRNA 17-92 cluster was increased in HrasG12V transformed cells, but was significantly reduced when ETS1 and ETS2 were absent. MYC and ETS1 or ETS2 collaborated to increase expression of the oncogenic microRNA 17-92 cluster in HrasG12V transformed cells. Enforced expression of exogenous MYC or microRNA 17-92 rescued HrasG12V transformation in Ets1/Ets2-null cells, revealing a direct function for MYC and microRNA 17-92 in ETS1/ETS2-dependent HrasG12V transformation.
PMCID: PMC4072627  PMID: 24968297
17.  Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor Augments Tie2-Expressing Monocyte Differentiation, Angiogenic Function, and Recruitment in a Mouse Model of Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98623.
Reports demonstrate the role of M-CSF (CSF1) in tumor progression in mouse models as well as the prognostic value of macrophage numbers in breast cancer patients. Recently, a subset of CD14+ monocytes expressing the Tie2 receptor, once thought to be predominantly expressed on endothelial cells, has been characterized. We hypothesized that increased levels of CSF1 in breast tumors can regulate differentiation of Tie2- monocytes to a Tie2+ phenotype. We treated CD14+ human monocytes with CSF1 and found a significant increase in CD14+/Tie2+ positivity. To understand if CSF1-induced Tie2 expression on these cells improved their migratory ability, we pre-treated CD14+ monocytes with CSF1 and used Boyden chemotaxis chambers to observe enhanced response to angiopoietin-2 (ANG2), the chemotactic ligand for the Tie2 receptor. We found that CSF1 pre-treatment significantly augmented chemotaxis and that Tie2 receptor upregulation was responsible as siRNA targeting Tie2 receptor abrogated this effect. To understand any augmented angiogenic effect produced by treating these cells with CSF1, we cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) with conditioned supernatants from CSF1-pre-treated CD14+ monocytes for a tube formation assay. While supernatants from CSF1-pre-treated TEMs increased HUVEC branching, a neutralizing antibody against the CSF1R abrogated this activity, as did siRNA against the Tie2 receptor. To test our hypothesis in vivo, we treated PyMT tumor-bearing mice with CSF1 and observed an expansion in the TEM population relative to total F4/80+ cells, which resulted in increased angiogenesis. Investigation into the mechanism of Tie2 receptor upregulation on CD14+ monocytes by CSF1 revealed a synergistic contribution from the PI3 kinase and HIF pathways as the PI3 kinase inhibitor LY294002, as well as HIF-1α-deficient macrophages differentiated from the bone marrow of HIF-1αfl/fl/LysMcre mice, diminished CSF1-stimulated Tie2 receptor expression.
PMCID: PMC4043882  PMID: 24892425
18.  Hypoxia Inducible Factors-Mediated Inhibition of Cancer by GM-CSF: A Mathematical Model 
Bulletin of mathematical biology  2012;74(11):2752-2777.
Under hypoxia, tumor cells, and tumor-associated macrophages produce VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), a signaling molecule that induces angiogenesis. The same macrophages, when treated with GM-CSF (granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor), produce sVEGFR-1 (soluble VEGF receptor-1), a soluble protein that binds with VEGF and inactivates its function. The production of VEGF by macrophages is regulated by HIF-1α (hypoxia inducible factor-1α), and the production of sVEGFR-1 is mediated by HIF-2α. Recent experiments measured the effect of inhibiting tumor growth by GM-CSF treatment in mice with HIF-1α-deficient or HIF-2α-deficient macrophages. In the present paper, we represent these experiments by a mathematical model based on a system of partial differential equations. We show that the model simulations agree with the above experiments. The model can then be used to suggest strategies for inhibiting tumor growth. For example, the model qualitatively predicts the extent to which GM-CSF treatment in combination with a small molecule inhibitor that stabilizes HIF-2α will reduce tumor volume and angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3936579  PMID: 23073704
Free boundary model; Tumor growth
19.  Thiol-redox antioxidants protect against lung vascular endothelial cytoskeletal alterations caused by pulmonary fibrosis inducer, bleomycin: comparison between classical thiol-protectant, N-acetyl-l-cysteine, and novel thiol antioxidant, N,N′-bis-2-mercaptoethyl isophthalamide 
Toxicology mechanisms and methods  2012;22(5):383-396.
Lung vascular alterations and pulmonary hypertension associated with oxidative stress have been reported to be involved in idiopathic lung fibrosis (ILF). Therefore, here, we hypothesize that the widely used lung fibrosis inducer, bleomycin, would cause cytoskeletal rearrangement through thiol-redox alterations in the cultured lung vascular endothelial cell (EC) monolayers. We exposed the monolayers of primary bovine pulmonary artery ECs to bleomycin (10 µg) and studied the cytotoxicity, cytoskeletal rearrangements, and the macromolecule (fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran, 70,000 mol. wt.) paracellular transport in the absence and presence of two thiol-redox protectants, the classic water-soluble N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) and the novel hydrophobic N,N′-bis-2-mercaptoethyl isophthalamide (NBMI). Our results revealed that bleomycin induced cytotoxicity (lactate dehydrogenase leak), morphological alterations (rounding of cells and filipodia formation), and cytoskeletal rearrangement (actin stress fiber formation and alterations of tight junction proteins, ZO-1 and occludin) in a dose-dependent fashion. Furthermore, our study demonstrated the formation of reactive oxygen species, loss of thiols (glutathione, GSH), EC barrier dysfunction (decrease of transendothelial electrical resistance), and enhanced paracellular transport (leak) of macromolecules. The observed bleomycin-induced EC alterations were attenuated by both NAC and NBMI, revealing that the novel hydrophobic thiol-protectant, NBMI, was more effective at µM concentrations as compared to the water-soluble NAC that was effective at mM concentrations in offering protection against the bleomycin-induced EC alterations. Overall, the results of the current study suggested the central role of thiol-redox in vascular EC dysfunction associated with ILF.
PMCID: PMC3914546  PMID: 22409285
Cytoskeletal rearrangement; endothelial barrier function; interstitial pulmonary fibrosis; lung vascular endothelial cell; oxidative stress; thiol-redox
20.  Chronic Restraint Stress Upregulates Erythropoiesis through Glucocorticoid Stimulation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77935.
In response to elevated glucocorticoid levels, erythroid progenitors rapidly expand to produce large numbers of young erythrocytes. Previous work demonstrates hematopoietic changes in rodents exposed to various physical and psychological stressors, however, the effects of chronic psychological stress on erythropoiesis has not be delineated. We employed laboratory, clinical and genomic analyses of a murine model of chronic restraint stress (RST) to examine the influence of psychological stress on erythropoiesis. Mice exposed to RST demonstrated markers of early erythroid expansion involving the glucocorticoid receptor. In addition, these RST-exposed mice had increased numbers of circulating reticulocytes and increased erythropoiesis in primary and secondary erythroid tissues. Mice also showed increases in erythroid progenitor populations and elevated expression of the erythroid transcription factor KLF1 in these cells. Together this work reports some of the first evidence of psychological stress affecting erythroid homeostasis through glucocorticoid stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3799740  PMID: 24205034
21.  Hyperglycemic oxoaldehyde, glyoxal, causes barrier dysfunction, cytoskeletal alterations, and inhibition of angiogenesis in vascular endothelial cells: aminoguanidine protection 
Vascular endothelium is vulnerable to the attack of glucose-derived oxoaldehydes (glyoxal and methylglyoxal) during diabetes, through the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Although aminoguanidine (AG) has been shown to protect against the AGE-induced adverse effects, its protection against the glyoxal-induced alterations in vascular endothelial cells (ECs) such as cytotoxicity, barrier dysfunction, and inhibition of angiogenesis has not been reported and we investigated this in the bovine pulmonary artery ECs (BPAECs). The results showed that glyoxal (1–10 mM) significantly induced cytotoxicity and mitochondrial dysfunction in a dose- and time-dependent (4–12 h) fashion in ECs. Glyoxal was also observed to significantly inhibit EC proliferation. The study also revealed that glyoxal induced EC barrier dysfunction (loss of trans-endothelial electrical resistance), actin cytoskeletal rearrangement, and tight junction alterations in BPAECs. Furthermore, the results revealed that glyoxal significantly inhibited in vitro angiogenesis on the Matrigel. For the first time, this study demonstrated that AG significantly protected against the glyoxal-induced cytotoxicity, barrier dysfunction, cytoskeletal rearrangement, and inhibition of angiogenesis in BPAECs. Therefore, AG appears as a promising protective agent in the treatment of AGE-induced vascular endothelial alterations and dysfunction during diabetes, presumably by blocking the reactivity of the sugar-derived dicarbonyls such as glyoxal and preventing the formation of AGEs.
PMCID: PMC3671881  PMID: 19585224
Glyoxal; Vascular endothelial cell; Barrier dysfunction; Cytoskeletal rearrangement; Cytotoxicity; Advanced glycation end products; Diabetes
22.  In Vivo Monitoring of pH, Redox Status, and Glutathione Using L-Band EPR for Assessment of Therapeutic Effectiveness in Solid Tumors 
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine  2011;67(6):1827-1836.
Approach for in vivo real-time assessment of tumor tissue extracellular pH (pHe), redox, and intracellular glutathione based on L-band EPR spectroscopy using dual function pH and redox nitroxide probe and disulfide nitroxide biradical, is described. These parameters were monitored in PyMT mice bearing breast cancer tumors during treatment with granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor. It was observed that tumor pHe is about 0.4 pH units lower than that in normal mammary gland tissue. Treatment with granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor decreased the value of pHe by 0.3 units compared with PBS control treatment. Tumor tissue reducing capacity and intracellular glutathione were elevated compared with normal mammary gland tissue. Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor treatment resulted in a decrease of the tumor tissue reducing capacity and intracellular glutathione content. In addition to spectroscopic studies, pHe mapping was performed using recently proposed variable frequency proton–electron double-resonance imaging. The pH mapping superimposed with MRI image supports probe localization in mammary gland/tumor tissue, shows high heterogeneity of tumor tissue pHe and a difference of about 0.4 pH units between average pHe values in tumor and normal mammary gland. In summary, the developed multifunctional approach allows for in vivo, noninvasive pHe, extracellular redox, and intracellular glutathione content monitoring during investigation of various therapeutic strategies for solid tumors. Magn Reson Med 000:000–000, 2011.
PMCID: PMC3305854  PMID: 22113626
solid tumors; bitroxides; glutathione; redox status; pH; L-Band EPR; PyMT mice; mammary gland; in vivo
23.  Program in pharmacogenomics at the Ohio State University Medical Center 
Pharmacogenomics  2012;13(7):751-756.
Established in 2002, the Ohio State University Medical Center Program in Pharmacogenomics, lead by Wolfgang Sadee, is comprised of nearly 50 members dedicated to the discovery, investigation and translation of genetic biomarkers with the primary goal of advancing personalized healthcare. This article describes the research teams, bioinformatics infrastructure, supporting laboratories and Centers for Personalized Healthcare and for Clinical and Translational Science, current molecular genetic studies, translational and clinical pharmacogenomic studies, examples of biomarkers under development, and the future directions of the program.
PMCID: PMC3650730  PMID: 22594506
24.  Prolonged Restraint Stress Increases IL-6, Reduces IL-10, and Causes Persistent Depressive-Like Behavior That Is Reversed by Recombinant IL-10 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58488.
Altered inflammatory cytokine profiles are often observed in individuals suffering from major depression. Recent clinical work reports on elevated IL-6 and decreased IL-10 in depression. Elevated IL-6 has served as a consistent biomarker of depression and IL-10 is proposed to influence depressive behavior through its ability to counterbalance pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. Clinical and animal studies suggest a role for IL-10 in modifying depressive behavior. Murine restraint stress (RST) is regularly employed in the study of behavioral and biological symptoms associated with depressive disorders. While responses to acute RST exposure have been widely characterized, few studies have examined the ongoing and longitudinal effects of extended RST and fewer still have examined the lasting impact during the post-stress period. Consistent with clinical data, we report that a protocol of prolonged murine RST produced altered cytokine profiles similar to those observed in major depressive disorder. Parallel to these changes in circulating cytokines, IL-10 mRNA expression was diminished in the cortex and hippocampus throughout the stress period and following cessation of RST. Moreover, chronic RST promoted depressive-like behavior throughout the 28-day stress period and these depressive-like complications were maintained weeks after cessation of RST. Because of the correlation between IL-10 suppression and depressive behavior and because many successful antidepressant therapies yield increases in IL-10, we examined the effects of IL-10 treatment on RST-induced behavioral changes. Behavioral deficits induced by RST were reversed by exogenous administration of recombinant IL-10. This work provides one of the first reports describing the biological and behavioral impact following prolonged RST and, taken together, this study provides details on the correlation between responses to chronic RST and those seen in depressive disorders.
PMCID: PMC3592793  PMID: 23520517
25.  Pulmonary Fibrosis Inducer, Bleomycin, Causes Redox-Sensitive Activation of Phospholipase D and Cytotoxicity Through Formation of Bioactive Lipid Signal Mediator, Phosphatidic Acid, in Lung Microvascular Endothelial Cells 
The mechanisms of lung microvascular complications and pulmonary hypertension known to be associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a debilitating lung disease, are not known. Therefore, we investigated whether bleomycin, the widely used experimental IPF inducer, would be capable of activating phospholipase D (PLD) and generating the bioactive lipid signal-mediator phosphatidic acid (PA) in our established bovine lung microvascular endothelial cell (BLMVEC) model. Our results revealed that bleomycin induced the activation of PLD and generation of PA in a dose-dependent (5, 10, and 100 μg) and time-dependent (2-12 hours) fashion that were significantly attenuated by the PLD-specific inhibitor, 5-fluoro-2-indolyl des-chlorohalopemide (FIPI). PLD activation and PA generation induced by bleomycin (5 μg) were significantly attenuated by the thiol protectant (N-acetyl-L-cysteine), antioxidants, and iron chelators suggesting the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation, and iron therein. Furthermore, our study demonstrated the formation of ROS and loss of glutathione (GSH) in cells following bleomycin treatment, confirming oxidative stress as a key player in the bleomycin-induced PLD activation and PA generation in ECs. More noticeably, PLD activation and PA generation were observed to happen upstream of bleomycin-induced cytotoxicity in BLMVECs, which was protected by FIPI. This was also supported by our current findings that exposure of cells to exogenous PA led to internalization of PA and cytotoxicity in BLMVECs. For the first time, this study revealed novel mechanism of the bleomycin-induced redox-sensitive activation of PLD that led to the generation of PA, which was capable of inducing lung EC cytotoxicity, thus suggesting possible bioactive lipid-signaling mechanism/mechanisms of microvascular disorders encountered in IPF.
PMCID: PMC3503147  PMID: 21131602
bioactive lipid signaling; interstitial pulmonary fibrosis; lung microvascular endothelial cell; oxidative stress; phosphatidic acid; phospholipase D; thiol redox

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