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1.  Potent stimulation of fibroblast growth factor 19 expression in the human ileum by bile acids 
Fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) is proposed to be a negative feedback regulator of hepatic bile acid (BA) synthesis. We aimed to clarify the distribution of FGF19 expression in human intestine and to investigate induction in a novel explant system. Ileal and colonic mucosal biopsies were obtained at endoscopy and analyzed for FGF19 transcript expression. Primary explants were incubated with physiological concentrations of various BA for up to 6 h, and expression of FGF19 and other genes was determined. FGF19 transcripts were detected in ileum but were unquantifiable in colon. No loss of FGF19 mRNA occurred as a consequence of the explant system. Ileal FGF19 transcript expression was induced 350-fold by 50 μM chenodeoxycholate (CDCA, n = 24, P < 0.0001) and 161-fold by 50 μM glycochenodeoxycholate (GCDCA, n = 12, P = 0.0005). The responses of other genes to CDCA or GCDCA (50 μM) were smaller: median increases of ileal bile acid binding protein, organic solute transporter-α and -β, and short heterodimer partner were 2.4- to 4.0-fold; apical membrane sodium bile acid transporter and farnesoid X receptor (FXR) showed little change. The EC50 for FGF19 transcript induction by CDCA was 20 μM. FGF19 protein concentrations were significantly higher in the culture fluid from BA-stimulated explants. FGF19 induction with cholate was 81% of that found with CDCA, but deoxycholate (40%) and lithocholate (4%) were significantly less potent. The synthetic FXR agonist obeticholic acid was much more potent than CDCA with a 70-fold FGF19 stimulation at 1 μM. We concluded that FGF19 expression in human ileum is very highly responsive to BA. Changes in FGF19 induction are a potential mechanism involved in disorders of BA homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3652069  PMID: 23518683
organ culture; intestine; enterohepatic circulation; bile acid diarrhea
2.  Total protein, albumin and low-molecular-weight protein excretion in HIV-positive patients 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:85.
Chronic kidney disease is common in HIV positive patients and renal tubular dysfunction has been reported in those receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Tenofovir (TFV) in particular has been linked to severe renal tubular disease as well as proximal tubular dysfunction. Markedly elevated urinary concentrations of retinal-binding protein (RBP) have been reported in patients with severe renal tubular disease, and low-molecular-weight proteins (LMWP) such as RBP may be useful in clinical practice to assess renal tubular function in patients receiving TFV. We analysed 3 LMWP as well as protein and albumin in the urine of a sample of HIV positive patients.
In a cross-sectional fashion, total protein, albumin, RBP, cystatin C, and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) were quantified in random urine samples of 317 HIV positive outpatients and expressed as the ratio-to-creatinine (RBPCR, CCR and NGALCR). Exposure to cART was categorised as none, cART without TFV, and cART containing TFV and a non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase-inhibitor (TFV/NNRTI) or TFV and a protease-inhibitor (TFV/PI).
Proteinuria was present in 10.4 % and microalbuminuria in 16.7 % of patients. Albumin accounted for approximately 10 % of total urinary protein. RBPCR was within the reference range in 95 % of patients while NGALCR was elevated in 67 % of patients. No overall differences in urine protein, albumin, and LMWP levels were observed among patients stratified by cART exposure, although a greater proportion of patients exposed to TFV/PI had RBPCR >38.8 μg/mmol (343 μg/g) (p = 0.003). In multivariate analyses, black ethnicity (OR 0.43, 95 % CI 0.24, 0.77) and eGFR <75 mL/min/1.73 m2 (OR 3.54, 95 % CI 1.61, 7.80) were independently associated with upper quartile (UQ) RBPCR. RBPCR correlated well to CCR (r2 = 0.71), but not to NGALCR, PCR or ACR.
In HIV positive patients, proteinuria was predominantly of tubular origin and microalbuminuria was common. RBPCR in patients without overt renal tubular disease was generally within the reference range, including those receiving TFV. RBP therefore appears a promising biomarker for monitoring renal tubular function in patients receiving TFV and for distinguishing patients with normal tubular function or mild tubular dysfunction from those with severe renal tubular disease or Fanconi syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3444380  PMID: 22883485
Proteinuria; Albuminuria; Retinol-binding protein; RBP; Cystatin C; Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin; NGAL; Tenofovir; HIV
3.  Fibroblast Growth Factor 19 and 7α-Hydroxy-4-Cholesten-3-one in the Diagnosis of Patients With Possible Bile Acid Diarrhea 
Increased colonic bile acids can cause chronic diarrhea. Bile acid diarrhea (BAD) is treatable by sequestrants, and may be secondary to ileal disease or primary BAD. It is underdiagnosed, partly because the selenium-75-homocholic acid taurine (SeHCAT) retention test is not available in many countries, and is underutilized in others. Serum 7α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (C4), a measure of bile acid synthesis, is available for diagnosis in specialist centers. Recently, deficiency of the ileal hormone fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) has been shown in BAD. Our aim is to evaluate the diagnostic value of FGF19 in a large and prospective group of patients with chronic diarrhea, previously investigated with C4.
Patients undergoing routine investigation provided fasting blood samples. C4 was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography, and used to stratify two groups: group 1 (n=119), consisting of patients with normal C4 (≤ 28 ng/ml), and group 2 (n=139), consisting of patients with high C4 (>28 ng/ml), including any of the possible causes of BAD. Serum FGF19 was measured in stored samples by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
FGF19 and C4 were significantly inversely related (rs=−0.64, P<0.001). Patients with raised C4 had significantly lower median FGF19 values. Both of these were more marked when secondary to ileal disease, in particular ileal resection, than in primary BAD. The sensitivity and specificity of FGF19 at 145 pg/ml for detecting a C4 level >28 ng/ml were 58% and 79%, respectively. For C4 >60 ng/ml, these were 74% and 72% on receiver-operating characteristic analysis, the area under the curve was 0.80 (95% confidence interval 0.74–0.87).
Serum FGF19 could be developed as a simple blood test to increase the diagnostic rates of BAD.
PMCID: PMC3412680  PMID: 23238290
4.  Blood profile holds clues to role of infection in a premonitory state for idiopathic parkinsonism and of gastrointestinal infection in established disease 
Gut Pathogens  2009;1:20.
The two-stage neuroinflammatory process, containment and progression, proposed to underlie neurodegeneration may predicate on systemic inflammation arising from the gastrointestinal tract. Helicobacter infection has been described as one switch in the pathogenic-circuitry of idiopathic parkinsonism (IP): eradication modifies disease progression and marked deterioration accompanies eradication-failure. Moreover, serum Helicobacter-antibody-profile predicts presence, severity and progression of IP. Slow gastrointestinal-transit precedes IP-diagnosis and becomes increasingly-apparent after, predisposing to small-intestinal bacterial-overgrowth (SIBO). Although IP is well-described as a systemic illness with a long prodrome, there has been no comprehensive overview of the blood profile. Here, it is examined in relation to Helicobacter status and lactulose-hydrogen-breath-testing for SIBO.
A robust finding of reduced lymphocyte count in 126 IP-probands and 79 spouses (without clinically-definite IP), compared with that in 381 controls (p < 0.001 in each case), was not explained by Helicobacter-status or breath-hydrogen. This complements a previous report that spouses were 'down-the-pathway' to 'clinically-definite' disease. In 205 other controls without clinically-definite IP, there were strong associations between sporadic cardinal features and immunoglobulin class concentration, not explained by Helicobacter-status. Premonitory states for idiopathic parkinsonism associated with relative lymphopenia, higher serum immunoglobulin concentrations and evidence of enteric-nervous-system damage may prove viral in origin.
Although only 8% of the above 79 spouses were urea-breath-test-positive for Helicobacter, all 8 spouses with clinically-definite IP were (p < 0.0001). Transmission of a 'primer' to a Helicobacter-colonised recipient might result in progression to the diagnostic threshold.
Twenty-five percent of the 126 probands were seropositive for anti-nuclear autoantibody. In 20 probands, monitored before and serially after anti-Helicobacter therapy, seropositivity marked a severe hypokinetic response (p = 0.03). It may alert to continuing infection, even at low-density. Hyperhomocysteinemia is a risk factor for dementia and depression. Serum homocysteine exceeded the target in 43% of the 126 IP-probands. It was partially explained by serum B12 (12% variance, p < 0.001), but not by Helicobacter-status (gastric-atrophy uncommon in IP) or levodopa treatment. Immune-inflammatory activation increases homocysteine production. Since an estimated 60% of probands are hydrogen-breath-test positive, SIBO, with its increased bacterial utilisation of B12, is a likely cause. Thus, two prognostic indicators in established IP fit with involvement of Helicobacter and SIBO.
PMCID: PMC2795757  PMID: 19941660

Results 1-4 (4)