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1.  Syndecan-2 Exerts Antifibrotic Effects by Promoting Caveolin-1–mediated Transforming Growth Factor-β Receptor I Internalization and Inhibiting Transforming Growth Factor-β1 Signaling 
Rationale: Alveolar transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 signaling and expression of TGF-β1 target genes are increased in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and in animal models of pulmonary fibrosis. Internalization and degradation of TGF-β receptor TβRI inhibits TGF-β signaling and could attenuate development of experimental lung fibrosis.
Objectives: To demonstrate that after experimental lung injury, human syndecan-2 confers antifibrotic effects by inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling in alveolar epithelial cells.
Methods: Microarray assays were performed to identify genes differentially expressed in alveolar macrophages of patients with IPF versus control subjects. Transgenic mice that constitutively overexpress human syndecan-2 in macrophages were developed to test the antifibrotic properties of syndecan-2. In vitro assays were performed to determine syndecan-2–dependent changes in epithelial cell TGF-β1 signaling, TGF-β1, and TβRI internalization and apoptosis. Wild-type mice were treated with recombinant human syndecan-2 during the fibrotic phase of bleomycin-induced lung injury.
Measurements and Main Results: We observed significant increases in alveolar macrophage syndecan-2 levels in patients with IPF. Macrophage-specific overexpression of human syndecan-2 in transgenic mice conferred antifibrotic effects after lung injury by inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling and downstream expression of TGF-β1 target genes, reducing extracellular matrix production and alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis. In vitro, syndecan-2 promoted caveolin-1–dependent internalization of TGF-β1 and TβRI in alveolar epithelial cells, which inhibited TGF-β1 signaling and epithelial cell apoptosis. Therapeutic administration of human syndecan-2 abrogated lung fibrosis in mice.
Conclusions: Alveolar macrophage syndecan-2 exerts antifibrotic effects by promoting caveolin-1–dependent TGF-β1 and TβRI internalization and inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling in alveolar epithelial cells. Hence, molecules that facilitate TβRI degradation via endocytosis represent potential therapies for pulmonary fibrosis.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201303-0434OC
PMCID: PMC3826270  PMID: 23924348
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; TGF-β1 signaling; syndecan-2; alveolar macrophage
2.  Metabolomic Derangements Are Associated with Mortality in Critically Ill Adult Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87538.
Objective
To identify metabolomic biomarkers predictive of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) mortality in adults.
Rationale
Comprehensive metabolomic profiling of plasma at ICU admission to identify biomarkers associated with mortality has recently become feasible.
Methods
We performed metabolomic profiling of plasma from 90 ICU subjects enrolled in the BWH Registry of Critical Illness (RoCI). We tested individual metabolites and a Bayesian Network of metabolites for association with 28-day mortality, using logistic regression in R, and the CGBayesNets Package in MATLAB. Both individual metabolites and the network were tested for replication in an independent cohort of 149 adults enrolled in the Community Acquired Pneumonia and Sepsis Outcome Diagnostics (CAPSOD) study.
Results
We tested variable metabolites for association with 28-day mortality. In RoCI, nearly one third of metabolites differed among ICU survivors versus those who died by day 28 (N = 57 metabolites, p<.05). Associations with 28-day mortality replicated for 31 of these metabolites (with p<.05) in the CAPSOD population. Replicating metabolites included lipids (N = 14), amino acids or amino acid breakdown products (N = 12), carbohydrates (N = 1), nucleotides (N = 3), and 1 peptide. Among 31 replicated metabolites, 25 were higher in subjects who progressed to die; all 6 metabolites that are lower in those who die are lipids. We used Bayesian modeling to form a metabolomic network of 7 metabolites associated with death (gamma-glutamylphenylalanine, gamma-glutamyltyrosine, 1-arachidonoylGPC(20:4), taurochenodeoxycholate, 3-(4-hydroxyphenyl) lactate, sucrose, kynurenine). This network achieved a 91% AUC predicting 28-day mortality in RoCI, and 74% of the AUC in CAPSOD (p<.001 in both populations).
Conclusion
Both individual metabolites and a metabolomic network were associated with 28-day mortality in two independent cohorts. Metabolomic profiling represents a valuable new approach for identifying novel biomarkers in critically ill patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087538
PMCID: PMC3907548  PMID: 24498130
3.  Inflammasome-regulated Cytokines Are Critical Mediators of Acute Lung Injury 
Rationale: Despite advances in clinical management, there are currently no reliable diagnostic and therapeutic targets for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The inflammasome/caspase-1 pathway regulates the maturation and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-18). IL-18 is associated with injury in animal models of systemic inflammation.
Objectives: We sought to determine the contribution of the inflammasome pathway in experimental acute lung injury and human ARDS.
Methods: We performed comprehensive gene expression profiling on peripheral blood from patients with critical illness. Gene expression changes were assessed using real-time polymerase chain reaction, and IL-18 levels were measured in the plasma of the critically ill patients. Wild-type mice or mice genetically deficient in IL-18 or caspase-1 were mechanically ventilated using moderate tidal volume (12 ml/kg). Lung injury parameters were assessed in lung tissue, serum, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
Measurements and Main Results: In mice, mechanical ventilation enhanced IL-18 levels in the lung, serum, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. IL-18–neutralizing antibody treatment, or genetic deletion of IL-18 or caspase-1, reduced lung injury in response to mechanical ventilation. In human patients with ARDS, inflammasome-related mRNA transcripts (CASP1, IL1B, and IL18) were increased in peripheral blood. In samples from four clinical centers, IL-18 was elevated in the plasma of patients with ARDS (sepsis or trauma-induced ARDS) and served as a novel biomarker of intensive care unit morbidity and mortality.
Conclusions: The inflammasome pathway and its downstream cytokines play critical roles in ARDS development.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201201-0003OC
PMCID: PMC3373064  PMID: 22461369
acute respiratory distress syndrome; inflammasome; interleukin-18; mechanical ventilation
4.  Autophagy 
Autophagy is a highly conserved homeostatic pathway by which cells transport damaged proteins and organelles to lysosomes for degradation. Dysregulation of autophagy contributes to the pathogenesis of clinically important disorders in a variety of organ systems but, until recently, little was known about its relationship to diseases of the lung. However, there is now growing evidence at the basic research level that autophagy is linked to the pathogenesis of important pulmonary disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, and tuberculosis. In this review, we provide an introduction to the field of autophagy research geared to clinical and research pulmonologists. We focus on the best-studied autophagic mechanism, macroautophagy, and summarize studies that link the regulation of this pathway to pulmonary disease. Last, we offer our perspective on how a better understanding of macroautophagy might be used for designing novel therapies for pulmonary disorders.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201106-0966CI
PMCID: PMC3262043  PMID: 21836133
autophagy; macroautophagy; lung; disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
5.  Autophagy in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41394.
Background
Autophagy is a basic cellular homeostatic process important to cell fate decisions under conditions of stress. Dysregulation of autophagy impacts numerous human diseases including cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease. This study investigates the role of autophagy in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods
Human lung tissues from patients with IPF were analyzed for autophagy markers and modulating proteins using western blotting, confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. To study the effects of TGF-β1 on autophagy, human lung fibroblasts were monitored by fluorescence microscopy and western blotting. In vivo experiments were done using the bleomycin-induced fibrosis mouse model.
Results
Lung tissues from IPF patients demonstrate evidence of decreased autophagic activity as assessed by LC3, p62 protein expression and immunofluorescence, and numbers of autophagosomes. TGF-β1 inhibits autophagy in fibroblasts in vitro at least in part via activation of mTORC1; expression of TIGAR is also increased in response to TGF-β1. In the bleomycin model of pulmonary fibrosis, rapamycin treatment is antifibrotic, and rapamycin also decreases expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin by fibroblasts in vitro. Inhibition of key regulators of autophagy, LC3 and beclin-1, leads to the opposite effect on fibroblast expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin.
Conclusion
Autophagy is not induced in pulmonary fibrosis despite activation of pathways known to promote autophagy. Impairment of autophagy by TGF-β1 may represent a mechanism for the promotion of fibrogenesis in IPF.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041394
PMCID: PMC3399849  PMID: 22815997
6.  Characterization of macroautophagic flux in vivo using a leupeptin-based assay 
Autophagy  2011;7(6):629-642.
Macroautophagy is a highly conserved catabolic process that is crucial for organ homeostasis in mammals. However, methods to directly measure macroautophagic activity (or flux) in vivo are limited. In this study we developed a quantitative macroautophagic flux assay based on measuring LC3b protein turnover in vivo after administering the protease inhibitor leupeptin. Using this assay we then characterized basal macroautophagic flux in different mouse organs. We found that the rate of LC3b accumulation after leupeptin treatment was greatest in the liver and lowest in spleen. Interestingly we found that LC3a, an ATG8/LC3b homologue and the LC3b-interacting protein p62 were degraded with similar kinetics to LC3b. However, the LC3b-related proteins GABARAP and GATE-16 were not rapidly turned over in mouse liver, implying that different LC3b homologues may contribute to macroautophagy via distinct mechanisms. Nutrient starvation augmented macroautophagic flux as measured by our assay, while refeeding the animals after a period of starvation significantly suppressed flux. We also confirmed that beclin 1 heterozygous mice had reduced basal macroautophagic flux compared to wild-type littermates. These results illustrate the usefulness of our leupeptin-based assay for studying the dynamics of macroautophagy in mice.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.6.15100
PMCID: PMC3127049  PMID: 21460622
macroautophagy; autophagy; flux; mice; in vivo; LC3; GABARAP; GATE-16; leupeptin; cycloheximide
7.  Autophagy proteins regulate innate immune response by inhibiting NALP3 inflammasome-mediated mitochondrial DNA release 
Nature immunology  2010;12(3):222-230.
Autophagy, a cellular process for organelle and protein turnover, regulates innate immune responses. We demonstrate that depletion of autophagic proteins microtubule associated protein-1 light chain 3B (LC3B) and Beclin 1 enhances caspase-1 activation and secretion of interleukin-1β and interleukin-18. Autophagic protein depletion promoted accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria and cytosolic translocation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and ATP in macrophages. Release of mtDNA into the cytosol depended on the NALP3 inflammasome and mitochondrial ROS. Cytosolic mtDNA contributed to IL-1β and IL-18 secretion in response to LPS and ATP. LC3B-deficient mice produced more caspase-1-dependent cytokines in two sepsis models and were susceptible to LPS-induced mortality. Our study suggests that autophagic proteins regulate NALP3-dependent inflammation by preserving mitochondrial integrity.
doi:10.1038/ni.1980
PMCID: PMC3079381  PMID: 21151103
8.  Cell Adhesion Molecule L1 in Folded (Horseshoe) and Extended Conformations 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(6):1765-1773.
We have investigated the structure of the cell adhesion molecule L1 by electron microscopy. We were particularly interested in the conformation of the four N-terminal immunoglobulin domains, because x-ray diffraction showed that these domains are bent into a horseshoe shape in the related molecules hemolin and axonin-1. Surprisingly, rotary-shadowed specimens showed the molecules to be elongated, with no indication of the horseshoe shape. However, sedimentation data suggested that these domains of L1 were folded into a compact shape in solution; therefore, this prompted us to look at the molecules by an alternative technique, negative stain. The negative stain images showed a compact shape consistent with the expected horseshoe conformation. We speculate that in rotary shadowing the contact with the mica caused a distortion of the protein, weakening the bonds forming the horseshoe and permitting the molecule to extend. We have thus confirmed that the L1 molecule is primarily in the horseshoe conformation in solution, and we have visualized for the first time its opening into an extended conformation. Our study resolves conflicting interpretations from previous electron microscopy studies of L1.
PMCID: PMC37339  PMID: 11408583

Results 1-8 (8)