As a contribution to the functionality of scaffolds in tissue engineering, here we report on advanced scaffold design through introduction and evaluation of topographical, mechanical and chemical cues. For scaffolding, we used silk fibroin (SF), a well established biomaterial. Biomimetic alignment of fibers was achieved as a function of the rotational speed of the cylindrical target during electrospinning of a SF solution blended with polyethylene oxide. Seeding fibrous SF scaffolds with human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) demonstrated that fiber alignment could guide hMSC morphology and orientation demonstrating the impact of scaffold topography on the engineering of oriented tissues. Beyond currently established methodologies to measure bulk properties, we assessed the mechanical properties of the fibers by conducting extension at breakage experiments on the level of single fibers. Chemical modification of the scaffolds was tested using donor/acceptor fluorophore labeled fibronectin. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer imaging allowed to assess the conformation of fibronectin when adsorbed on the SF scaffolds, and demonstrated an intermediate extension level of its subunits. Biological assays based on hMSC showed enhanced cellular adhesion and spreading as a result of fibronectin adsorbed on the scaffolds. Our studies demonstrate the versatility of SF as a biomaterial to engineer modified fibrous scaffolds and underscore the use of biofunctionally relevant analytical assays to optimize fibrous biomaterial scaffolds.
A personal history of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is associated with increased risk of other malignancies, but the reason is unknown. The hedgehog pathway is critical to the etiology of BCC, and is also believed to contribute to susceptibility to other cancers. This study tested the hypothesis that hedgehog pathway and pathway-related gene variants contribute to the increased risk of subsequent cancers among those with a history of BCC.
The study was nested within the ongoing CLUE II cohort study, established in 1989 in Washington County, Maryland, USA. The study consisted of a cancer-free control group (n=2,296) compared to three different groups of cancer cases ascertained through 2007, those diagnosed with: 1) Other (non-BCC) cancer only (n=2,349); 2) BCC only (n=534); and 3) BCC plus other cancer (n=446). The frequencies of variant alleles were compared among these four groups for 20 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 6 hedgehog pathway genes (SHH, IHH, PTCH2, SMO, GLI1, SUFU), and also 22 SNPs in VDR and 8 SNPs in FAS, which have cross-talk with the hedgehog pathway.
Comparing those with both BCC and other cancer versus those with no cancer, no significant associations were observed for any of the hedgehog pathway SNPs, or for the FAS SNPs. One VDR SNP was nominally significantly associated with the BCC cancer-prone phenotype, rs11574085 [per minor allele odds ratio (OR) 1.38, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05–1.82; p-value=0.02].
The hedgehog pathway gene SNPs studied, along with the VDR and FAS SNPs studied, are not strongly associated with the BCC cancer-prone phenotype.
skin cancer; genetics; polymorphisms; hedgehog; vitamin D receptor; fas
Escape of prostate cancer (PCa) cells from ionizing radiation–induced (IR-induced) killing leads to disease progression and cancer relapse. The influence of sphingolipids, such as ceramide and its metabolite sphingosine 1-phosphate, on signal transduction pathways under cell stress is important to survival adaptation responses. In this study, we demonstrate that ceramide-deacylating enzyme acid ceramidase (AC) was preferentially upregulated in irradiated PCa cells. Radiation-induced AC gene transactivation by activator protein 1 (AP-1) binding on the proximal promoter was sensitive to inhibition of de novo ceramide biosynthesis, as demonstrated by promoter reporter and ChIP-qPCR analyses. Our data indicate that a protective feedback mechanism mitigates the apoptotic effect of IR-induced ceramide generation. We found that deregulation of c-Jun induced marked radiosensitization in vivo and in vitro, which was rescued by ectopic AC overexpression. AC overexpression in PCa clonogens that survived a fractionated 80-Gy IR course was associated with increased radioresistance and proliferation, suggesting a role for AC in radiotherapy failure and relapse. Immunohistochemical analysis of human PCa tissues revealed higher levels of AC after radiotherapy failure than those in therapy-naive PCa, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, or benign tissues. Addition of an AC inhibitor to an animal model of xenograft irradiation produced radiosensitization and prevention of relapse. These data indicate that AC is a potentially tractable target for adjuvant radiotherapy.
Background. The ecological validity of neurocognitive and functional measures in severe mental illness is poorly understood because of a lack of validated research methods to study community life-as-lived. We describe the development of a video ethnography method that measures naturalistic behaviors with codes called community performance indicators (CPIs). The method could provide a strategy to test the ecological validity of neurocognitive and functional assessments. Methods. We gathered up to 18.5 hours of video ethnography data on each of 9 subjects with schizophrenia selected for high or low composite scores on the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). We used video ethnography to capture subjects’ everyday behaviors in their usual environments. We established 4 CPIs that showed excellent inter-rater and promising test-retest reliability: (1) behavioral activity level, (2) goal pursuit, (3) social interaction, and (4) problem solving. Results. (1) High and low MCCB subjects showed statistically significantly differences on all 4 CPIs. (2) MCCB composite scores were correlated with all 4 CPIs (r = .54 to −.77, P < .01 to .07). (3) The MCCB domain scores demonstrated some specificity in their correlations with the CPIs; eg, verbal learning, reasoning/problem solving, and social cognition were correlated with CPI domains of social interaction and problem solving. Conclusions. We present a method for reliably measuring everyday functional performance in schizophrenia. Results from a small select sample suggest that CPIs capture skills associated with neurocognition, supporting their use in a larger study of ecological validity.
schizophrenia; neurocognition; functional performance
For unknown reasons, non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is associated with increased risk of other malignancies. Focusing solely on DNA repair or DNA repair-related genes, this study tested the hypothesis that DNA repair gene variants contribute to the increased cancer risk associated with a personal history of NMSC. From the parent CLUE II cohort study, established in 1989 in Washington County, MD, the study consisted of a cancer-free control group (n 5 2296) compared with three mutually exclusive groups of cancer cases ascertained through 2007: (i) Other (non-NMSC) cancer only (n 5 2349); (ii) NMSC only (n 5 694) and (iii) NMSC plus other cancer (n 5 577). The frequency of minor alleles in 759 DNA repair gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was compared in these four groups. Comparing those with both NMSC and other cancer versus those with no cancer, 10 SNPs had allelic trend P-values <0.01. The two top-ranked SNPs were both within the thymine DNA glycosylase gene (TDG). One was a non-synonymous coding SNP (rs2888805) [per allele odds ratio (OR) 1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16–1.70; P-value 5 0.0006] and the other was an intronic SNP in high linkage disequilibrium with rs2888805 (rs4135150). None of the associations had a P-value <6.6310−5, the threshold for statistical significance after correcting for multiple comparisons. The results pinpoint DNA repair genes most likely to contribute to the NMSC cancer-prone phenotype. A promising lead is genetic variants in TDG, important not only in base excision repair but also in regulating the epigenome and gene expression, which may contribute to the NMSC-associated increase in overall cancer risk.
Poor sleep is often independently associated with greater pain sensitivity and dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (e.g., greater basal cortisol and exaggerated stress-induced cortisol reactivity). However, the interactions among sleep, pain, and the HPA axis have not been adequately evaluated. In this study, 40 healthy adults provided self-report regarding perceived sleep quality over the past month prior to completion of an acute noxious physical stressor (i.e., cold pressor task; CPT). Following the CPT, they reported on the severity of pain experienced. Salivary cortisol was sampled before, immediately following, and during recovery from CPT. Using bootstrapped confidence intervals with a bias correction, results showed that poor sleep quality was significantly associated with greater reports of CPT-induced pain severity and greater cortisol reactivity (i.e., increase from baseline). Furthermore, greater cortisol reactivity to the CPT was found to significantly mediate the relationship between poor sleep and pain severity.
sleep quality; HPA axis; pain; cortisol; reactivity
Due to increased needs for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning, high demands for a wide variety of radiolabeled compounds will have to be met by exploiting novel radiochemistry and engineering technologies to improve the production and development of PET probes. The application of microfluidic reactors to perform radiosyntheses is currently attracting a great deal of interest because of their potential to deliver many advantages over conventional labeling systems. Microfluidic-based radiochemistry can lead to the use of smaller quantities of precursors, accelerated reaction rates and easier purification processes with greater yield and higher specific activity of desired probes. Several ‘proof-of-principle’ examples, along with basics of device architecture and operation, and potential limitations of each design are discussed here. Along with the concept of radioisotope distribution from centralized cyclotron facilities to individual imaging centers and laboratories (“decentralized model”), an easy-to-use, standalone, flexible, fully-automated radiochemical microfluidic platform can open up to simpler and more cost-effective procedures for molecular imaging using PET.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET); microfluidic; PET probe; molecular imaging; single-patient dose on demand
A new miniature high-resolution pocket-mobile echocardiographic (PME) device has become available to clinicians, but there are no data available comparing this technology with standard transthoracic echo (TTE) examination.
To assess the potential validity of PME imaging as a quick assessment of cardiovascular disease by direct comparison to standard TTE.
Ultrasonographers attempted to acquire seven standard echocardiography views with the PME prior to performing comprehensive standard TTEs. In blinded fashion, images from the two modalities were compared by two experienced echocardiographers and two cardiology fellows.
PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE
This work was funded in part by Scripps Health and the NIH UL1 RR025774 (Scripps Translational Science Institute, Clinical and Translational Science Award).
Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital
97 consecutive unselected patients
Comparisons were made in regards to ejection fraction (EF), segmental wall motion abnormalities (WMA), left ventricular end-diastolic dimension (LVEDD), inferior vena cava (IVC) size, aortic and mitral valve pathology, and pericardial effusion.
PME images were adequate for interpretation of EF in 95% of the studies, LVEDD 95%, mitral valve 90%, WMA 83%, aortic valve 83%, and IVC 75%. Compared to standard TTE, PME interpretation by attendings and fellows had an accuracy of 97% and 93% for EF, respectively. Likewise, accuracy for WMA was 90% and 87% ; LVEDD 94% and 91%; aortic stenosis 97% and 95%; mitral abnormality 88% and 82%; and IVC size 81% and 74%.
As this was a validation study of imaging alone, further evaluation with clinician image acquisition is needed.
PME images obtained rapidly by skilled ultrasonographers provide excellent visualization in the vast majority of patients and correlate well with standard, comprehensive TTE. Such validation needs to be extended to untrained clinicians in larger and diverse patient populations before broad dissemination of this technology can be recommended.
cardiovascular disease; echocardiography; imaging
Assess individual-subject long-term and within-day variability of a combined behavioral and EEG test of working memory.
EEGs were recorded from 16 adults performing n-back working memory tasks, with 10 tested in morning and afternoon sessions over several years. Participants were also tested after ingesting non-prescription medications or recreational substances. Performance and EEG measures were analyzed to derive an Overall score and three constituent sub-scores characterizing changes in performance, cortical activation, and alertness from each individual’s baseline. Long-term and within-day variability were determined for each score; medication effects were assessed by reference to each individual’s normal day-to-day variability.
Over the several year period, the mean Overall score and sub-scores were approximately zero with standard deviations less than one. Overall scores were lower and their variability higher in afternoon relative to morning sessions. At the group level, alcohol, diphenhydramine and marijuana produced significant effects, but there were large individual differences.
Objective working memory measures incorporating performance and EEG are stable over time and sensitive at the level of individual subjects to interventions that affect neurocognitive function.
With further research these measures may be suitable for use in individualized medical care by providing a sensitive assessment of incipient illness and response to treatment.
working memory; EEG; long-term variability; circadian variability; drug effects; individual differences
Diagnostic errors in primary care are harmful but poorly studied. To facilitate understanding of diagnostic errors in real-world primary care settings using electronic health records (EHRs), this study explored the use of the Situational Awareness (SA) framework from aviation human factors research.
A mixed-methods study was conducted involving reviews of EHR data followed by semi-structured interviews of selected providers from two institutions in the US. The study population included 380 consecutive patients with colorectal and lung cancers diagnosed between February 2008 and January 2009. Using a pre-tested data collection instrument, trained physicians identified diagnostic errors, defined as lack of timely action on one or more established indications for diagnostic work-up for lung and colorectal cancers. Twenty-six providers involved in cases with and without errors were interviewed. Interviews probed for providers' lack of SA and how this may have influenced the diagnostic process.
Of 254 cases meeting inclusion criteria, errors were found in 30 (32.6%) of 92 lung cancer cases and 56 (33.5%) of 167 colorectal cancer cases. Analysis of interviews related to error cases revealed evidence of lack of one of four levels of SA applicable to primary care practice: information perception, information comprehension, forecasting future events, and choosing appropriate action based on the first three levels. In cases without error, the application of the SA framework provided insight into processes involved in attention management.
A framework of SA can help analyze and understand diagnostic errors in primary care settings that use EHRs.
diagnostic error; decision-making; patient safety; primary care; medical errors; human factors; cancer; electronic health records; diagnostic delays
Crustaceans are key components of marine ecosystems which, like other exploited marine taxa, show seasonable patterns of distribution and activity, with consequences for their availability to capture by targeted fisheries. Despite concerns over the sustainability of crab fisheries worldwide, difficulties in observing crabs’ behaviour over their annual cycles, and the timings and durations of reproduction, remain poorly understood. From the release of 128 mature female edible crabs tagged with electronic data storage tags (DSTs), we demonstrate predominantly westward migration in the English Channel. Eastern Channel crabs migrated further than western Channel crabs, while crabs released outside the Channel showed little or no migration. Individual migrations were punctuated by a 7-month hiatus, when crabs remained stationary, coincident with the main period of crab spawning and egg incubation. Incubation commenced earlier in the west, from late October onwards, and brooding locations, determined using tidal geolocation, occurred throughout the species range. With an overall return rate of 34%, our results demonstrate that previous reluctance to tag crabs with relatively high-cost DSTs for fear of loss following moulting is unfounded, and that DSTs can generate precise information with regards life-history metrics that would be unachievable using other conventional means.
Transportation of goods on railways is increasing and the majority of the increased numbers of freight trains run during the night. Transportation noise has adverse effects on sleep structure, affects the heart rate (HR) during sleep and may be linked to cardiovascular disease. Freight trains also generate vibration and little is known regarding the impact of vibration on human sleep. A laboratory study was conducted to examine how a realistic nocturnal railway traffic scenario influences HR during sleep.
24 healthy volunteers (11 men, 13 women, 19–28 years) spent six consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory.
All participants slept during one habituation night, one control and four experimental nights in which train noise and vibration were reproduced. In the experimental nights, 20 or 36 trains with low-vibration or high-vibration characteristics were presented.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Polysomnographical data and ECG were recorded.
The train exposure led to a significant change of HR within 1 min of exposure onset (p=0.002), characterised by an initial and a delayed increase of HR. The high-vibration condition provoked an average increase of at least 3 bpm per train in 79% of the participants. Cardiac responses were in general higher in the high-vibration condition than in the low-vibration condition (p=0.006). No significant effect of noise sensitivity and gender was revealed, although there was a tendency for men to exhibit stronger HR acceleration than women.
Freight trains provoke HR accelerations during sleep, and the vibration characteristics of the trains are of special importance. In the long term, this may affect cardiovascular functioning of persons living close to railways.
Aminoglycoside antibiotics, like gentamicin, kill inner ear sensory hair cells in a variety of species including chickens, mice, and humans. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has been used to study hair cell cytotoxicity in the lateral line organs of larval and adult animals. Little is known about whether aminoglycosides kill the hair cells within the inner ear of adult zebrafish. We report here the ototoxic effects of gentamicin on hair cells in the saccule, the putative hearing organ, and utricle of zebrafish. First, adult zebrafish received a single 30 mg/kg intraperitoneal injection of fluorescently-tagged gentamicin (GTTR) to determine the distribution of gentamicin within inner ear sensory epithelia. After 4 hours, GTTR was observed in hair cells throughout the saccular and utriclar sensory epithelia. To assess the ototoxic effects of gentamicin, adult zebrafish received a single 250 mg/kg intraperitoneal injection of gentamicin and, 24 hours later, auditory evoked potential recordings (AEPs) revealed significant shifts in auditory thresholds compared to untreated controls. Zebrafish were then euthanized, the inner ear fixed, and labeled for apoptotic cells (TUNEL reaction), and the stereociliary bundles of hair cells labeled with fluorescently-tagged phalloidin. Whole mounts of the saccule and utricle were imaged and cells counted. There were significantly more TUNEL-labeled cells found in both organs 4 hours after gentamicin injection compared to vehicle-injected controls. As expected, significantly fewer hair cell bundles were found along the rostral-caudal axis of the saccule and in the extrastriolar and striolar regions of the utricle in gentamicin-treated animals compared to untreated controls. Therefore, as in other species, gentamicin causes significant inner ear sensory hair cell death and auditory dysfunction in zebrafish.
Sleep quality and ethnicity are related to a host of general health outcomes including the experience of pain, yet it remains unclear whether poor sleep quality and ethnicity might interactively affect pain catastrophizing and laboratory-evoked acute pain reports. The current study examined the cross-sectional associations of subjective sleep quality, ethnicity, and their interaction with pain catastrophizing and pain reports.
Healthy (N = 149), ethnically diverse (58% Caucasian American, 23% Asian American, 19% African American) young adults were subjected to a cold pressor task (CPT). Prior to CPT, participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and a standard version of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS). Following CPT, participants completed a situation-specific version of the PCS.
Adjusted analyses revealed a significant sleep quality by ethnicity interaction for standard catastrophizing reports. Particularly, African Americans with poor overall sleep quality reported the greatest level of catastrophizing on the standard PCS relative to their Caucasian and Asian American counterparts. Furthermore, African Americans with poorer sleep efficiency reported greater catastrophizing on the situation-specific PCS compared to Caucasian and Asian Americans. Catastrophizing was significantly correlated with pain reports.
These results suggest that African Americans with poorer sleep quality may be at greater risk for catastrophizing, a known contributor to more intense pain and increased pain-related emotional distress. Whether interventions that improve the sleep quality of ethnic minorities affect pain catastrophizing is in need of investigation.
Ethnicity; sleep quality; pain catastrophizing; cold pressor; disparities
Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) mutations must choose between prophylactic surgeries and screening to manage their high risks of breast and ovarian cancer, comparing options in terms of cancer incidence, survival, and quality of life. A clinical decision tool could guide these complex choices.
We built a Monte Carlo model for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, simulating breast screening with annual mammography plus magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from ages 25 to 69 years and prophylactic mastectomy (PM) and/or prophylactic oophorectomy (PO) at various ages. Modeled outcomes were cancer incidence, tumor features that shape treatment recommendations, overall survival, and cause-specific mortality. We adapted the model into an online tool to support shared decision making.
We compared strategies on cancer incidence and survival to age 70 years; for example, PO plus PM at age 25 years optimizes both outcomes (incidence, 4% to 11%; survival, 80% to 83%), whereas PO at age 40 years plus MRI screening offers less effective prevention, yet similar survival (incidence, 36% to 57%; survival, 74% to 80%). To characterize patients' treatment and survivorship experiences, we reported the tumor features and treatments associated with risk-reducing interventions; for example, in most BRCA2 mutation carriers (81%), MRI screening diagnoses stage I, hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, which may not require chemotherapy.
Cancer risk-reducing options for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers vary in their impact on cancer incidence, recommended treatments, quality of life, and survival. To guide decisions informed by multiple health outcomes, we provide an online tool for joint use by patients with their physicians (http://brcatool.stanford.edu).
A substantial increase in transportation of goods on railway may be hindered by public fear of increased vibration and noise leading to annoyance and sleep disturbance. As the majority of freight trains run during night time, the impact upon sleep is expected to be the most serious adverse effect. The impact of nocturnal vibration on sleep is an area currently lacking in knowledge. We experimentally investigated sleep disturbance with the aim to ascertain the impact of increasing vibration amplitude.
The impacts of various amplitudes of horizontal vibrations on sleep disturbance and heart rate were investigated in a laboratory study. Cardiac accelerations were assessed using a combination of polysomnography and ECG recordings. Sleep was assessed subjectively using questionnaires. Twelve young, healthy subjects slept for six nights in the sleep laboratory, with one habituation night, one control night and four nights with a variation of vibration exposures whilst maintaining the same noise exposure. With increasing vibration amplitude, we found a decrease in latency and increase in amplitude of heart rate as well as a reduction in sleep quality and increase in sleep disturbance.
We concluded that nocturnal vibration has a negative impact on sleep and that the impact increases with greater vibration amplitude. Sleep disturbance has short- and long-term health consequences. Therefore, it is necessary to define levels that protect residents against sleep disruptive vibrations that may arise from night time railway freight traffic.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal disorder of reproductive-age women. Yet the cause of BV has not been established. To uncover key determinants of BV, we employed a multi-omic, systems-biology approach, including both deep 16S rRNA gene-based sequencing and metabolomics of lavage samples from 36 women. These women varied demographically, behaviorally, and in terms of health status and symptoms.
16S rRNA gene-based community composition profiles reflected Nugent scores, but not Amsel criteria. In contrast, metabolomic profiles were markedly more concordant with Amsel criteria. Metabolomic profiles revealed two distinct symptomatic BV types (SBVI and SBVII) with similar characteristics that indicated disruption of epithelial integrity, but each type was correlated to the presence of different microbial taxa and metabolites, as well as to different host behaviors. The characteristic odor associated with BV was linked to increases in putrescine and cadaverine, which were both linked to Dialister spp. Additional correlations were seen with the presence of discharge, 2-methyl-2-hydroxybutanoic acid, and Mobiluncus spp., and with pain, diethylene glycol and Gardnerella spp.
The results not only provide useful diagnostic biomarkers, but also may ultimately provide much needed insight into the determinants of BV.
The extended-release formulation of zolpidem (Ambien CR®) is approved for the treatment of insomnia without a treatment duration limit. Acutely zolpidem impairs performance, and no research to date has examined whether tolerance develops to these performance impairments during nighttime awakening. The present double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined whether tolerance develops to zolpidem-induced acute performance impairment after repeated (22–30 days) nightly use. Effects of bedtime administration of zolpidem extended-release (ZOL; 12.5 mg) were tested on a battery of performance measures assessed during a forced nighttime awakening in 15 healthy male volunteers who completed overnight polysomnographic recording sessions in our laboratory at baseline and after approximately a month of at-home ZOL. As expected, bedtime ZOL administration was associated with changes in sleep architecture and impairments across all performance domains during nighttime testing (psychomotor function, attention, working memory, episodic memory, metacognition) with no residual next morning impairment. Tolerance did not develop to the observed ZOL-related impairments on any outcome. Possible evidence of acute abstinence effects following discontinuation of ZOL was observed on some performance and sleep outcomes. Overall, these findings suggest that performance is significantly impaired during nighttime awakening even after a month of nightly ZOL administration and these impairments could significantly impact safety should nighttime awakening require unimpaired functioning (e.g., driving; combat-related activities in the military).
zolpidem; Ambien; psychomotor; cognition; tolerance; memory
A simple method for birdcage coil design (high pass, low pass, and band pass) is presented. Rather than iteratively approaching the Larmor resonant frequency with known capacitances and calculated inductances, a more versatile approach to birdcage coil design is developed and validated, in which the necessary capacitances are calculated using a desired current pattern, a calculated inductance, and a predetermined resonant frequency. In order to expedite coil design for experienced and novice coil builders, a computer program (BirdcageBuilder) is also implemented based on this method. Experimental results show that the calculated capacitances and actual capacitances for several existing birdcage coils are in good agreement.
birdcage coil; radio frequency coil; coil; software
Thermoresponsive hydrogel nanoparticles composed of poly(N-isopropylmethacrylamide) (pNIPMAm) and the disulfide-based cross-linker N,N’-bis(acryloyl)cystamine (BAC) have been prepared using a redox-initiated, aqueous precipitation polymerization approach, leading to improved stability of the disulfide bond compared to traditional thermally-initiated methods. The resultant particles demonstrate complete erosion in response to reducing conditions or thiol competition. This stands in contrast to the behavior of thermally-initiated particles, which retain a cross-linked network following disulfide cleavage due to uncontrolled chain-branching and self-cross-linking side reactions. The synthetic strategy has also been combined with the non-degradable cross-linker N,N-methylenebisacrylamide (BIS) to generate “co-cross-linked” pNIPMAm-BAC-BIS microgels. These particles are redox-responsive, swell upon BAC cross-link scission and present reactive thiols. This pendant thiol functionality was demonstrated to be useful for conjugation of thiol-reactive probes and in reversible network formation by assembling particles cross-linked by disulfide linkages.
The mitogen-activated protein–kinase pathway consisting of the kinases RAF, MEK, and ERK is central to cell proliferation and survival and is deregulated in more than 90% of melanomas. MEK inhibitors are currently trialled in the clinic, but despite efficient target inhibition, cytostatic rather than cytotoxic activity limits their efficacy.
We assessed the cytotoxicity to MEK inhibitors (PD184352 and selumetinib) in melanoma cells by toluidine-blue staining, caspase 3 cleavage, and melanoma-sphere growth. Western blotting and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction were applied to determine SMAD-specific E3 ubiquitin protein ligase 2 (SMURF2), PAX3, and MITF expression. Human melanoma samples (n = 77) from various stages were analyzed for SMURF2 and PAX3 expression. RNA interference was performed to target SMURF2 during MEK inhibition in vivo in melanoma xenografts in mice and zebrafish. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Activation of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signalling sensitized melanoma cells to the cytotoxic effects of MEK inhibition. Melanoma cells resistant to the cytotoxic effects of MEK inhibitors counteracted TGF-β signalling through overexpression of the E3 ubiquitin ligase SMURF2, which resulted in increased expression of the transcription factors PAX3 and MITF. High MITF expression protected melanoma cells against MEK inhibitor cytotoxicity. Depleting SMURF2 reduced MITF expression and substantially lowered the threshold for MEK inhibitor–induced apoptosis. Moreover, SMURF2 depletion sensitized melanoma cells to the cytotoxic effects of selumetinib, leading to cell death at concentrations approximately 100-fold lower than the concentration required to induce cell death in SMURF2-expressing cells. Mice treated with selumetinib alone at a dosage of 10mg/kg body weight once daily produced no response, but in combination with SMURF2 depletion, selumetinib suppressed tumor growth by 97.9% (95% confidence interval = 38.65% to 155.50%, P = .005).
Targeting SMURF2 may be a novel therapeutic approach for increasing the antitumor efficacy of MEK inhibitors.
The structural proteins of the extracellular matrix (ECM) form fibers with finely tuned mechanical properties matched to the time scales of cell traction forces. Several proteins such as fibronectin (Fn) and fibrin undergo molecular conformational changes that extend the proteins and are believed to be a major contributor to the extensibility of bulk fibers. The dynamics of these conformational changes have been thoroughly explored since the advent of single molecule force spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations but remarkably, these data have not been rigorously applied to the understanding of the time dependent mechanics of bulk ECM fibers. Using measurements of protein density within fibers, we have examined the influence of dynamic molecular conformational changes and the intermolecular arrangement of Fn within fibers on the bulk mechanical properties of Fn fibers. Fibers were simulated as molecular strands with architectures that promote either equal or disparate molecular loading under conditions of constant extension rate. Measurements of protein concentration within micron scale fibers using deep ultraviolet transmission microscopy allowed the simulations to be scaled appropriately for comparison to in vitro measurements of fiber mechanics as well as providing estimates of fiber porosity and water content, suggesting Fn fibers are approximately 75% solute. Comparing the properties predicted by single molecule measurements to in vitro measurements of Fn fibers showed that domain unfolding is sufficient to predict the high extensibility and nonlinear stiffness of Fn fibers with surprising accuracy, with disparately loaded fibers providing the best fit to experiment. This work shows the promise of this microstructural modeling approach for understanding Fn fiber properties, which is generally applicable to other ECM fibers, and could be further expanded to tissue scale by incorporating these simulated fibers into three dimensional network models.
There is growing awareness of the role of mechanical properties within biological tissues. Cells both generate force and are sensitive to applied forces, however nuanced sensitivity to externally applied forces also extends outside the cell to the fibrous structural proteins of the extracellular matrix. It has been shown that stretching these proteins under force can change their biochemical properties in a way that impacts tissue function. In this work we were able, for the first time, to measure the concentration of protein within fibronectin extracellular matrix fibers. This key measurement then enabled us to evaluate a model that links mechanical properties of fibers directly to molecular structural changes that form the physical basis for force sensitivity. The model was found to be predictive of fiber mechanical properties without fitting. This combination of modeling and experiment also offers insights into molecular forces, as well as estimates of fiber hydration and porosity.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is accompanied by smell dysfunction, as measured by psychophysical tests. Currently it is unknown whether AD-related alterations in central olfactory system neural activity, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), are detectable beyond those observed in healthy elderly. Moreover, it is not known whether such changes are correlated with indices of odor perception and dementia. To investigate these issues, twelve early stage AD patients and thirteen non-demented controls underwent fMRI while being exposed to each of three concentrations of lavender oil odorant. All participants were administered the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2), and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR). The Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal at primary olfactory cortex (POC) was weaker in AD than in HC subjects. At the lowest odorant concentration, the BOLD signals within POC, hippocampus, and insula were significantly correlated with UPSIT, MMSE, DRS-2, and CDR scores. The BOLD signal intensity and activation volume within the POC increased significantly as a function of odorant concentration in the AD group, but not in the control group. These findings demonstrate that olfactory fMRI is sensitive to the AD-related olfactory and functional cognitive decline.
olfaction; Alzheimer’s disease; functional magnetic resonance imaging; microsmia; primary olfactory cortex
Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is responsible for protecting DNA in skin cells against ultraviolet radiation-induced damage. Using a candidate pathway approach, a matched case-control study nested within a prospective, community-based cohort was carried out to test the hypothesis that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in NER genes are associated with susceptibility to non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Histologically-confirmed cases of NMSC (n=900) were matched to controls (n=900) on age, gender, and skin type. Associations were measured between NMSC and 221 SNPs in 26 NER genes. Using the additive model, two tightly linked functional SNPs in ERCC6 were significantly associated with increased risk of NMSC: rs2228527 (odds ratio (OR) 1.57, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20 – 2.05), and rs2228529 (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.20 – 2.05). These associations were confined to basal cell carcinoma of the skin (BCC) (rs2228529, OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.30 – 2.44; rs2228527 OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.31 – 2.43). These hypothesis-generating findings suggest functional variants in ERCC6 may be associated with an increased risk of NMSC that may be specific to BCC.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is amongst the most lethal of all cancers. GBM consist of a heterogeneous population of tumor cells amongst which a tumor initiating and treatment-resistant subpopulation, here termed GBM stem cells (GSC), have been identified as primary therapeutic targets. Here, we describe a high-throughput small molecule screening approach that enables the identification and characterization of chemical compounds that are effective against GSC. The paradigm uses a tissue culture model to enrich for GSC derived from human GBM resections and combines a phenotype-based screen with gene target-specific screens for compound identification. We used 31,624 small molecules from seven chemical libraries that we characterized and ranked based on their effect on a panel of GSC-enriched cultures as well as their effect on the expression of a module of genes whose expression negatively correlates with clinical outcome: MELK, ASPM, TOP2A and FOXM1b. Of the 11 compounds meeting criteria for exerting differential effects across cell types used, 4 compounds demonstrated selectivity by inhibiting multiple GSC-enriched cultures compared to non-enriched cultures: Emetine, N-Arachidonoyldopamine (NADA), N-Oleoyldopamine (OLDA), and N-Palmitoyldopamine (PALDA). ChemBridge compounds #5560509 and #5256360 inhibited the expression of the 4 mitotic module genes. OLDA, Emetine, and compounds #5560509 and #5256360 were chosen for more detailed study and inhibited GSC in self-renewal assays in vitro and in a xenograft model in vivo. These studies demonstrate that our screening strategy provides potential candidates as well as a blueprint for lead compound identification in larger scale screens or screens involving other cancer types.
5256360; 5485415; 5560509; 6-Formylindolo Carbazole; Anisomycin; Benzethonium; Biomol; C8 Ceramine; Camptothecin; Cancer; Chelidonine monohydrate; ChemBridge; Chrysenequinone; Emetine; Methiazole; N-Arachidonoyldopamine; NADA; Neurosphere; N-Oleoyldopamine; OLDA; N-Palmitoyldopamine; PALDA; Prestwick; Ro 31-8220; Cancer Stem Cell; Glioma; Neural Stem Cell; Chemical Screen