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1.  Towards a Tissue-Engineered Contractile Fontan-Conduit: The Fate of Cardiac Myocytes in the Subpulmonary Circulation 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(11):e0166963.
The long-term outcome of patients with single ventricles improved over time, but remains poor compared to other congenital heart lesions with biventricular circulation. Main cause for this unfavourable outcome is the unphysiological hemodynamic of the Fontan circulation, such as subnormal systemic cardiac output and increased systemic-venous pressure. To overcome this limitation, we are developing the concept of a contractile extracardiac Fontan-tunnel. In this study, we evaluated the survival and structural development of a tissue-engineered conduit under in vivo conditions. Engineered heart tissue was generated from ventricular heart cells of neonatal Wistar rats, fibrinogen and thrombin. Engineered heart tissues started beating around day 8 in vitro and remained contractile in vivo throughout the experiment. After culture for 14 days constructs were implanted around the right superior vena cava of Wistar rats (n = 12). Animals were euthanized after 7, 14, 28 and 56 days postoperatively. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed cardiomyocytes arranged in thick bundles within the engineered heart tissue-conduit. Immunostaining of sarcomeric actin, alpha-actin and connexin 43 revealed a well -developed cardiac myocyte structure. Magnetic resonance imaging (d14, n = 3) revealed no constriction or stenosis of the superior vena cava by the constructs. Engineered heart tissues survive and contract for extended periods after implantation around the superior vena cava of rats. Generation of larger constructs is warranted to evaluate functional benefits of a contractile Fontan-conduit.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166963
PMCID: PMC5119816  PMID: 27875570
2.  Ca2+-Currents in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Effects of Two Different Culture Conditions 
Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM) provide a unique opportunity to study human heart physiology and pharmacology and repair injured hearts. The suitability of hiPSC-CM critically depends on how closely they share physiological properties of human adult cardiomyocytes (CM). Here we investigated whether a 3D engineered heart tissue (EHT) culture format favors maturation and addressed the L-type Ca2+-current (ICa,L) as a readout. The results were compared with hiPSC-CM cultured in conventional monolayer (ML) and to our previous data from human adult atrial and ventricular CM obtained when identical patch-clamp protocols were used. HiPSC-CM were two- to three-fold smaller than adult CM, independently of culture format [capacitance ML 45 ± 1 pF (n = 289), EHT 45 ± 1 pF (n = 460), atrial CM 87 ± 3 pF (n = 196), ventricular CM 126 ± 8 pF (n = 50)]. Only 88% of ML cells showed ICa, but all EHT. Basal ICa density was 10 ± 1 pA/pF (n = 207) for ML and 12 ± 1 pA/pF (n = 361) for EHT and was larger than in adult CM [7 ± 1 pA/pF (p < 0.05, n = 196) for atrial CM and 6 ± 1 pA/pF (p < 0.05, n = 47) for ventricular CM]. However, ML and EHT showed robust T-type Ca2+-currents (ICa,T). While (−)-Bay K 8644, that activates ICa,L directly, increased ICa,Lto the same extent in ML and EHT, β1- and β2-adrenoceptor effects were marginal in ML, but of same size as (−)-Bay K 8644 in EHT. The opposite was true for serotonin receptors. Sensitivity to β1 and β2-adrenoceptor stimulation was the same in EHT as in adult CM (−logEC50: 5.9 and 6.1 for norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (Epi), respectively), but very low concentrations of Rp-8-Br-cAMPS were sufficient to suppress effects (−logEC50: 5.3 and 5.3 respectively for NE and Epi). Taken together, hiPSC-CM express ICa,L at the same density as human adult CM, but, in contrast, possess robust ICa,T. Increased effects of catecholamines in EHT suggest more efficient maturation.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00300
PMCID: PMC5018497  PMID: 27672365
human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes; L-type Ca2+-channel; T-type Ca2+-channel; β-adrenoceptor; 5-hydroxytryptamine; protein kinase A
3.  Human Engineered Heart Tissue: Analysis of Contractile Force 
Stem Cell Reports  2016;7(1):29-42.
Summary
Analyzing contractile force, the most important and best understood function of cardiomyocytes in vivo is not established in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM). This study describes the generation of 3D, strip-format, force-generating engineered heart tissues (EHT) from hiPSC-CM and their physiological and pharmacological properties. CM were differentiated from hiPSC by a growth factor-based three-stage protocol. EHTs were generated and analyzed histologically and functionally. HiPSC-CM in EHTs showed well-developed sarcomeric organization and alignment, and frequent mitochondria. Systematic contractility analysis (26 concentration-response curves) reveals that EHTs replicated canonical response to physiological and pharmacological regulators of inotropy, membrane- and calcium-clock mediators of pacemaking, modulators of ion-channel currents, and proarrhythmic compounds with unprecedented precision. The analysis demonstrates a high degree of similarity between hiPSC-CM in EHT format and native human heart tissue, indicating that human EHTs are useful for preclinical drug testing and disease modeling.
Graphical Abstract
Highlights
•Engineered heart tissues (EHTs) from hiPSC-CM are generated with high reproducibility•EHTs show aligned cardiomyocytes with organized sarcomeres and immature t tubules•Spontaneous beating is regulated by both, membrane- and calcium-clock mechanisms•EHTs respond to physiological and pharmacological interventions like human heart tissue
Hansen and Eschenhagen and colleagues describe the analysis of contractile force in human engineered heart tissue from hiPSC. The physiological and pharmacological characterization of EHTs revealed a high degree of similarity to human heart tissue, indicating that human EHTs might be useful for preclinical drug testing and disease modeling.
doi:10.1016/j.stemcr.2016.04.011
PMCID: PMC4944531  PMID: 27211213
4.  Analysis of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor-Mediated Decline in Contractile Force in Rat Engineered Heart Tissue 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0145937.
Introduction
Left ventricular dysfunction is a frequent and potentially severe side effect of many tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). The mode of toxicity is not identified, but may include impairment of mitochondrial or sarcomeric function, autophagy or angiogenesis, either as an on-target or off-target mechanism.
Methods and Results
We studied concentration-response curves and time courses for nine TKIs in three-dimensional, force generating engineered heart tissue (EHT) from neonatal rat heart cells. We detected a concentration- and time-dependent decline in contractile force for gefitinib, lapatinib, sunitinib, imatinib, sorafenib, vandetanib and lestaurtinib and no decline in contractile force for erlotinib and dasatinib after 96 hours of incubation. The decline in contractile force was associated with an impairment of autophagy (LC3 Western blot) and appearance of autophagolysosomes (transmission electron microscopy).
Conclusion
This study demonstrates the feasibility to study TKI-mediated force effects in EHTs and identifies an association between a decline in contractility and inhibition of autophagic flux.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145937
PMCID: PMC4740402  PMID: 26840448
5.  Immunobiology of Fibrin-Based Engineered Heart Tissue 
This study demonstrated that immune responses directed against a novel fibrin-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) were primarily mediated by a Th1 response. Rejection of xenogeneic EHT matrix containing syngeneic cells was selective for the matrix, without evidence of cell rejection. Degradation of such an immunogenic matrix can be voluntarily controlled by withdrawal of temporary immunosuppression.
Different tissue-engineering approaches have been developed to induce and promote cardiac regeneration; however, the impact of the immune system and its responses to the various scaffold components of the engineered grafts remains unclear. Fibrin-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) was generated from neonatal Lewis (Lew) rat heart cells and transplanted onto the left ventricular surface of three different rat strains: syngeneic Lew, allogeneic Brown Norway, and immunodeficient Rowett Nude rats. Interferon spot frequency assay results showed similar degrees of systemic immune activation in the syngeneic and allogeneic groups, whereas no systemic immune response was detectable in the immunodeficient group (p < .001 vs. syngeneic and allogeneic). Histological analysis revealed much higher local infiltration of CD3- and CD68-positive cells in syngeneic and allogeneic rats than in immunodeficient animals. Enzyme-linked immunospot and immunofluorescence experiments revealed matrix-directed TH1-based rejection in syngeneic recipients without collateral impairment of heart cell survival. Bioluminescence imaging was used for in vivo longitudinal monitoring of transplanted luciferase-positive EHT constructs. Survival was documented in syngeneic and immunodeficient recipients for a period of up to 110 days after transplant, whereas in the allogeneic setting, graft survival was limited to only 14 ± 1 days. EHT strategies using autologous cells are promising approaches for cardiac repair applications. Although fibrin-based scaffold components elicited an immune response in our studies, syngeneic cells carried in the EHT were relatively unaffected.
Significance
An initial insight into immunological consequences after transplantation of engineered heart tissue was gained through this study. Most important, this study was able to demonstrate cell survival despite rejection of matrix components. Generation of syngeneic human engineered heart tissue, possibly using human induced pluripotent stem cell technology with subsequent directed rejection of matrix components, may be a potential future approach to replace diseased myocardium.
doi:10.5966/sctm.2013-0202
PMCID: PMC4449088  PMID: 25947338
Engineered heart tissue; Rat; Immune response; Scaffold; Rejection; Bioluminescence imaging
6.  Development of Long Noncoding RNA-Based Strategies to Modulate Tissue Vascularization 
Background
Long noncoding ribonucleic acids (lncRNAs) are a subclass of regulatory noncoding ribonucleic acids for which expression and function in human endothelial cells and angiogenic processes is not well studied.
Objectives
The authors discovered hypoxia-sensitive human lncRNAs via next-generation ribonucleic acid sequencing and microarray approaches. To address their functional importance in angiogenic processes, several endothelial lncRNAs were characterized for their angiogenic characteristics in vitro and ex vivo.
Methods
Ribonucleic acid sequencing and microarray-derived data showed specific endothelial lncRNA expression changes after hypoxia. Validation experiments confirmed strong hypoxia-dependent activation of 2 intergenic lncRNAs: LINC00323 and MIR503HG.
Results
Silencing of these lncRNA transcripts led to angiogenic defects, including repression of growth factor signaling and/or the key endothelial transcription factor GATA2. Endothelial loss of these hypoxia-driven lncRNAs impaired cell-cycle control and inhibited capillary formation. The potential clinical importance of these endothelial lncRNAs to vascular structural integrity was demonstrated in an ex vivo model of human induced pluripotent stem cell–based engineered heart tissue.
Conclusions
The authors report an expression atlas of human hypoxia-sensitive lncRNAs and identified 2 lncRNAs with important functions to sustain endothelial cell biology. LncRNAs hold great promise to serve as important future therapeutic targets of cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2015.07.081
PMCID: PMC4631810  PMID: 26516004
angiogenesis; endothelial cell biology; hypoxia; lncRNA; EC, endothelial cell; EHT, engineered heart tissue; GFP, green fluorescent protein; HIF1α, hypoxia-inducible factor 1α; HUVEC, human umbilical vein endothelial cell; lincRNA, long intergenic noncoding ribonucleic acid; lncRNA, long noncoding ribonucleic acid; miR, mature micro–ribonucleic acid; miRNA, micro–ribonucleic acid; mRNA, messenger ribonucleic acid; RNA, ribonucleic acid; RNA-seq, ribonucleic acid sequencing; siRNA, small interfering ribonucleic acid; VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor
7.  Effects of proarrhythmic drugs on relaxation time and beating pattern in rat engineered heart tissue 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2014;109(6):436.
The assessment of proarrhythmic risks of drugs remains challenging. To evaluate the suitability of rat engineered heart tissue (EHT) for detecting proarrhythmic effects. We monitored drug effects on spontaneous contractile activity and, in selected cases, on action potentials (sharp microelectrode) and Ca2+ transients (Fura-2) and contraction under electrical pacing. The Ito-blocker inhibitor 4-aminopyridine increased action potential duration and T2 and caused aftercontractions, which were abolished by inhibitors of ryanodine receptors (RyR2; JTV-519) or sodium calcium exchanger (NCX; SEA0400). 77 Drugs were then tested at 1-10-100× free therapeutic plasma concentrations (FTPC): Inhibitors of IKr, IKs, Ito, antiarrhythmics (8), drugs withdrawn from market for torsades des pointes arrhythmias (TdP, 5), drugs with measurable (7) or isolated TdP incidence (13), drugs considered safe (14), 28 new chemical entities (NCE). Inhibitors of IKr or IKs had no effect alone, but substantially prolonged relaxation time (T2) when combined at high concentration. 15/33 drugs associated with TdP and 6/14 drugs considered non-torsadogenic (cibenzoline, diltiazem, ebastine, ketoconazole, moxifloxacin, and phenytoin) induced concentration-dependent T2 prolongations (10-100× FTPC). Bepridil, desipramine, imipramine, thioridazine, and erythromycin induced irregular beating. Three NCE prolonged T2, one reduced force. Drugs inhibiting repolarization prolong relaxation in rat EHTs and cause aftercontractions involving RyR2 and NCX. Insensitivity to IKr inhibitors makes rat EHTs unsuitable as general proarrhythmia screen, but favors detection of effects on Ito, IKs + Ito or IKs + IKr. Screening a large panel of drugs suggests that effects on these currents, in addition to IKr, are more common than anticipated.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-014-0436-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00395-014-0436-7
PMCID: PMC4160570  PMID: 25209140
Arrhythmia; Torsades des pointes; Drugs; In vitro screening; Engineered heart tissue
8.  Functional MicroRNA Library Screening Identifies the HypoxaMiR MiR-24 as a Potent Regulator of Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation and Vascularization 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;21(8):1167-1176.
Abstract
Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are key components within the vasculature. Dependent on the stimulus, SMC can either be in a proliferative (synthetic) or differentiated state. Alterations of SMC phenotype also appear in several disease settings, further contributing to disease progression. Aims: Here, we asked whether microRNAs (miRNAs, miRs), which are strong posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression, could alter SMC proliferation. Results and Innovation: Employing a robotic-assisted high-throughput screening method using miRNA libraries, we identified hypoxia-regulated miR-24 as a master regulator of SMC proliferation. Proteome profiling showed a strong miR-24-dependent impact on cellular stress-associated factors, overall resulting in reduced stress resistance. In vitro, synthetic miR-24 overexpression had detrimental effects on SMC functional capacity inducing apoptosis, migration defects, enhanced autophagy, and loss of contractile marker genes. Impaired SMC function was mediated in part by the herein identified direct target gene heme oxygenase 1. Ex vivo, miR-24 was shown to inhibit the development of vasculature in a model of engineered heart tissue. Conclusion: Collectively, we report the identification of the hypoxamir-24 as an inhibitor of SMC proliferation, contributing to loss of vascularization. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 21, 1167–1176.
doi:10.1089/ars.2013.5418
PMCID: PMC4142777  PMID: 24063572
9.  Aberrant ZNF423 impedes B cell differentiation and is linked to adverse outcome of ETV6-RUNX1 negative B precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(11):2289-2304.
Aberrant ZNF423 inhibits EBF-1 target genes, leads to a B cell maturation arrest in vivo, and is associated with poor outcome of ETV6-RUNX1 negative ALL.
Differentiation arrest is a hallmark of acute leukemia. Genomic alterations in B cell differentiation factors such as PAX5, IKZF1, and EBF-1 have been identified in more than half of all cases of childhood B precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Here, we describe a perturbed epigenetic and transcriptional regulation of ZNF423 in ALL as a novel mechanism interfering with B cell differentiation. Hypomethylation of ZNF423 regulatory sequences and BMP2 signaling result in transactivation of ZNF423α and a novel ZNF423β-isoform encoding a nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylase complex–interacting domain. Aberrant ZNF423 inhibits the transactivation of EBF-1 target genes and leads to B cell maturation arrest in vivo. Importantly, ZNF423 expression is associated with poor outcome of ETV6-RUNX1–negative B precursor ALL patients. Our work demonstrates that ALL is more than a genetic disease and that epigenetics may uncover novel mechanisms of disease with prognostic implications.
doi:10.1084/jem.20130497
PMCID: PMC3804944  PMID: 24081948
10.  Increased afterload induces pathological cardiac hypertrophy: a new in vitro model 
Basic Research in Cardiology  2012;107(6):307.
Increased afterload results in ‘pathological’ cardiac hypertrophy, the most important risk factor for the development of heart failure. Current in vitro models fall short in deciphering the mechanisms of hypertrophy induced by afterload enhancement. The aim of this study was to develop an experimental model that allows investigating the impact of afterload enhancement (AE) on work-performing heart muscles in vitro. Fibrin-based engineered heart tissue (EHT) was cast between two hollow elastic silicone posts in a 24-well cell culture format. After 2 weeks, the posts were reinforced with metal braces, which markedly increased afterload of the spontaneously beating EHTs. Serum-free, triiodothyronine-, and hydrocortisone-supplemented medium conditions were established to prevent undefined serum effects. Control EHTs were handled identically without reinforcement. Endothelin-1 (ET-1)- or phenylephrine (PE)-stimulated EHTs served as positive control for hypertrophy. Cardiomyocytes in EHTs enlarged by 28.4 % under AE and to a similar extent by ET-1- or PE-stimulation (40.6 or 23.6 %), as determined by dystrophin staining. Cardiomyocyte hypertrophy was accompanied by activation of the fetal gene program, increased glucose consumption, and increased mRNA levels and extracellular deposition of collagen-1. Importantly, afterload-enhanced EHTs exhibited reduced contractile force and impaired diastolic relaxation directly after release of the metal braces. These deleterious effects of afterload enhancement were preventable by endothelin-A, but not endothelin-B receptor blockade. Sustained afterload enhancement of EHTs alone is sufficient to induce pathological cardiac remodeling with reduced contractile function and increased glucose consumption. The model will be useful to investigate novel therapeutic approaches in a simple and fast manner.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-012-0307-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00395-012-0307-z
PMCID: PMC3505530  PMID: 23099820
Afterload enhancement; Cardiac hypertrophy; Cardiac metabolism; Cardiac tissue engineering; Endothelin receptor antagonist; Fibrosis
11.  Complex Interactions between Human Myoblasts and the Surrounding 3D Fibrin-Based Matrix 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36173.
Anchorage of muscle cells to the extracellular matrix is crucial for a range of fundamental biological processes including migration, survival and differentiation. Three-dimensional (3D) culture has been proposed to provide a more physiological in vitro model of muscle growth and differentiation than routine 2D cultures. However, muscle cell adhesion and cell-matrix interplay of engineered muscle tissue remain to be determined. We have characterized cell-matrix interactions in 3D muscle culture and analyzed their consequences on cell differentiation. Human myoblasts were embedded in a fibrin matrix cast between two posts, cultured until confluence, and then induced to differentiate. Myoblasts in 3D aligned along the longitudinal axis of the gel. They displayed actin stress fibers evenly distributed around the nucleus and a cortical mesh of thin actin filaments. Adhesion sites in 3D were smaller in size than in rigid 2D culture but expression of adhesion site proteins, including α5 integrin and vinculin, was higher in 3D compared with 2D (p<0.05). Myoblasts and myotubes in 3D exhibited thicker and ellipsoid nuclei instead of the thin disk-like shape of the nuclei in 2D (p<0.001). Differentiation kinetics were faster in 3D as demonstrated by higher mRNA concentrations of α-actinin and myosin. More important, the elastic modulus of engineered muscle tissues increased significantly from 3.5±0.8 to 7.4±4.7 kPa during proliferation (p<0.05) and reached 12.2±6.0 kPa during differentiation (p<0.05), thus attesting the increase of matrix stiffness during proliferation and differentiation of the myocytes. In conclusion, we reported modulations of the adhesion complexes, the actin cytoskeleton and nuclear shape in 3D compared with routine 2D muscle culture. These findings point to complex interactions between muscle cells and the surrounding matrix with dynamic regulation of the cell-matrix stiffness.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036173
PMCID: PMC3338613  PMID: 22558372
12.  Human Engineered Heart Tissue as a Versatile Tool in Basic Research and Preclinical Toxicology 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26397.
Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) progenies hold great promise as surrogates for human primary cells, particularly if the latter are not available as in the case of cardiomyocytes. However, high content experimental platforms are lacking that allow the function of hESC-derived cardiomyocytes to be studied under relatively physiological and standardized conditions. Here we describe a simple and robust protocol for the generation of fibrin-based human engineered heart tissue (hEHT) in a 24-well format using an unselected population of differentiated human embryonic stem cells containing 30–40% α-actinin-positive cardiac myocytes. Human EHTs started to show coherent contractions 5–10 days after casting, reached regular (mean 0.5 Hz) and strong (mean 100 µN) contractions for up to 8 weeks. They displayed a dense network of longitudinally oriented, interconnected and cross-striated cardiomyocytes. Spontaneous hEHT contractions were analyzed by automated video-optical recording and showed chronotropic responses to calcium and the β-adrenergic agonist isoprenaline. The proarrhythmic compounds E-4031, quinidine, procainamide, cisapride, and sertindole exerted robust, concentration-dependent and reversible decreases in relaxation velocity and irregular beating at concentrations that recapitulate findings in hERG channel assays. In conclusion this study establishes hEHT as a simple in vitro model for heart research.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026397
PMCID: PMC3197640  PMID: 22028871
13.  Epratuzumab targeting of CD22 affects adhesion molecule expression and migration of B-cells in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(6):R204.
Introduction
Epratuzumab, a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody, is under investigation as a therapeutic antibody in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but its mechanism of action on B-cells remains elusive. Treatment of SLE patients with epratuzumab leads to a reduction of circulating CD27negative B-cells, although epratuzumab is weakly cytotoxic to B-cells in vitro. Therefore, potential effects of epratuzumab on adhesion molecule expression and the migration of B-cells have been evaluated.
Methods
Epratuzumab binding specificity and the surface expression of adhesion molecules (CD62L, β7 integrin and β1 integrin) after culture with epratuzumab was studied on B-cell subsets of SLE patients by flow cytometry. In addition, in vitro transwell migration assays were performed to analyze the effects of epratuzumab on migration towards different chemokines such as CXCL12, CXCL13 or to CXCR3 ligands, and to assess the functional consequences of altered adhesion molecule expression.
Results
Epratuzumab binding was considerably higher on B-cells relative to other cell types assessed. No binding of epratuzumab was observed on T-cells, while weak non-specific binding of epratuzumab on monocytes was noted. On B-cells, binding of epratuzumab was particularly enhanced on CD27negative B-cells compared to CD27positive B-cells, primarily related to a higher expression of CD22 on CD27negative B-cells. Moreover, epratuzumab binding led to a decrease in the cell surface expression of CD62L and β7 integrin, while the expression of β1 integrin was enhanced. The effects on the pattern of adhesion molecule expression observed with epratuzumab were principally confined to a fraction of the CD27negative B-cell subpopulation and were associated with enhanced spontaneous migration of B-cells. Furthermore, epratuzumab also enhanced the migration of CD27negative B-cells towards the chemokine CXCL12.
Conclusions
The current data suggest that epratuzumab has effects on the expression of the adhesion molecules CD62L, β7 integrin and β1 integrin as well as on migration towards CXCL12, primarily of CD27negative B-cells. Therefore, induced changes in migration appear to be part of the mechanism of action of epratuzumab and are consistent with the observation that CD27negative B-cells were found to be preferentially reduced in the peripheral blood under treatment.
doi:10.1186/ar3179
PMCID: PMC3046510  PMID: 21050432
14.  B cells in Sjögren's syndrome: indications for disturbed selection and differentiation in ectopic lymphoid tissue 
Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by specific pathological features. A hallmark of pSS is B-cell hyperactivity as manifested by the production of autoantibodies, hypergammaglobulinemia, formation of ectopic lymphoid structures within the inflamed tissues, and enhanced risk of B-cell lymphoma. Changes in the distribution of peripheral B-cell subsets and differences in post-recombination processes of immunoglobulin variable region (IgV) gene usage are also characteristic features of pSS. Comparison of B cells from the peripheral blood and salivary glands of patients with pSS with regard to their expression of the chemokine receptors CXCR4 and CXCR5, and their migratory capacity towards the corresponding ligands, CXCL12 and CXCL13, provide a mechanism for the prominent accumulation of CXCR4+CXCR5+ memory B cells in the inflamed glands. Glandular B cells expressing distinct features of IgV light and heavy chain rearrangements, (re)circulating B cells with increased mutations of cμ transcripts in both CD27- and CD27+ memory B-cell subsets, and enhanced frequencies of individual peripheral B cells containing IgV heavy chain transcripts of multiple isotypes indicate disordered selection and incomplete differentiation processes of B cells in the inflamed tissues in pSS. This may possibly be related to a lack of appropriate censoring mechanisms or different B-cell activation pathways within the ectopic lymphoid structures of the inflamed tissues. These findings add to our understanding of the pathogenesis of this autoimmune inflammatory disorder and may result in new therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1186/ar2210
PMCID: PMC2206371  PMID: 17697366
15.  Developments in lupus 2006 
Published reports in 2006 on systemic lupus erythematosus are reviewed with regard to preclinical and clinical studies on disturbances of the immune system including co-stimulation, cytokines and recent insights into new therapeutic approaches. Increasing knowledge of components of the innate immune system, such as certain receptors (Toll-like receptors, Fc receptors and complement receptors) and cytokines as well as immune cells (dendritic cells, plasmacytoid cells and neutrophils) supports their immunopathogenic relevance and enhance our understanding of the pathogenic complexity of lupus. Although it remains to be shown which of those could be targets for therapy or biomarkers, lymphocyte-directed therapy is currently under promising clinical investigation.
doi:10.1186/ar2183
PMCID: PMC2206361  PMID: 17634152
17.  Analysis of immunoglobulin light chain rearrangements in the salivary gland and blood of a patient with Sjögren's syndrome 
Arthritis Research  2002;4(4):R4.
Patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) have characteristic lymphocytic infiltrates of the salivary glands. To determine whether the B cells accumulating in the salivary glands of SS patients represent a distinct population and to delineate their potential immunopathologic impact, individual B cells obtained from the parotid gland and from the peripheral blood were analyzed for immunglobulin light chain gene rearrangements by PCR amplification of genomic DNA. The productive immunglobulin light chain repertoire in the parotid gland of the SS patient was found to be restricted, showing a preferential usage of particular variable lambda chain genes (Vλ2E) and variable kappa chain genes (VκA27). Moreover, clonally related VL chain rearrangements were identified; namely, VκA27–Jκ5 and VκA19–Jκ2 in the parotid gland, and Vλ1C–Jλ3 in the parotid gland and the peripheral blood. Vκ and Vλ rearrangements from the parotid gland exhibited a significantly elevated mutational frequency compared with those from the peripheral blood (P < 0.001). Mutational analysis revealed a pattern of somatic hypermutation similar to that found in normal donors, and a comparable impact of selection of mutated rearrangements in both the peripheral blood and the parotid gland. These data indicate that there is biased usage of VL chain genes caused by selection and clonal expansion of B cells expressing particular VL genes. In addition, the data document an accumulation of B cells bearing mutated VL gene rearrangements within the parotid gland of the SS patient. These results suggest a role of antigen-activated and selected B cells in the local autoimmune process in SS.
doi:10.1186/ar423
PMCID: PMC125296  PMID: 12106503
B cells; parotid gland; Sjögren's syndrome; somatic mutation; V light chain genes
18.  Perturbations in the impact of mutational activity on Vλ genes in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research  2001;3(6):368-374.
To assess the impact of somatic hypermutation and selective influences on the Vλ light chain repertoire in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the frequency and pattern of mutations were analyzed in individual CD19+ B cells from a patient with previously undiagnosed SLE. The mutational frequency of nonproductive and productive rearrangements in the SLE patient was greater (3.1 × 10-2 vs 3.4 × 10-2, respectively) than that in normal B cells (1.2 × 10-2 vs 2.0 × 10-2, both P < 0.001). The frequencies of mutated rearrangements in both the nonproductive and productive repertoires were significantly higher in the patient with SLE than in normal subjects. Notably, there were no differences in the ratio of replacement to silent (R/S) mutations in the productive and nonproductive repertoires of the SLE patient, whereas the R/S ratio in the framework regions of productive rearrangements of normal subjects was reduced, consistent with active elimination of replacement mutations in this region. The pattern of mutations was abnormal in the SLE patient, with a significant increase in the frequency of G mutations in both the productive and nonproductive repertoires. As in normal subjects, however, mutations were found frequently in specific nucleotide motifs, the RGYW/WRCY sequences, accounting for 34% (nonproductive) and 46% (productive) of all mutations. These data are most consistent with the conclusion that in this SLE patient, the mutational activity was markedly greater than in normal subjects and exhibited some abnormal features. In addition, there was decreased subsequent positive or negative selection of mutations. The enhanced and abnormal mutational activity along with disturbances in selection may play a role in the emergence of autoreactivity in this patient with SLE.
PMCID: PMC64848  PMID: 11714391
autoimmunity; B cells; SLE; somatic hypermutation; V genes

Results 1-18 (18)