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1.  Mycophenolic Acid Differentially Impacts B Cell Function Depending on the Stage of Differentiation 
Production of pathogenic Abs contributes to disease progression in many autoimmune disorders. The immunosuppressant agent mycophenolic acid (MPA) has shown clinical efficacy for patients with autoimmunity. The goal of these studies was to elucidate the mechanisms of action of MPA on B cells isolated from healthy individuals and autoimmune patients. In this study, we show that MPA significantly inhibited both proliferation and differentiation of primary human B cells stimulated under various conditions. Importantly, MPA did not globally suppress B cell responsiveness or simply induce cell death, but rather selectively inhibited early activation events and arrested cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. Furthermore, MPA blocked expansion of both naive and memory B cells and prevented plasma cell (PC) differentiation and Ab production from healthy controls and individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, whereas MPA potently suppressed Ig secretion from activated primary B cells, terminally differentiated PCs were not susceptible to inhibition by MPA. The target of MPA, IMPDH2, was found to be downregulated in PCs, likely explaining the resistance of these cells to MPA. These results suggest that MPA provides benefit in settings of autoimmunity by directly preventing activation and PC differentiation of B cells; however, MPA is unlikely to impact autoantibody production by preexisting, long-lived PCs.
PMCID: PMC4180087  PMID: 21873529
2.  Genomic-Based High Throughput Screening Identifies Small Molecules That Differentially Inhibit the Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Effects of IFN-α 
Molecular Medicine  2008;14(7-8):374-382.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that inhibition of Type I Interferons, including IFN-α, may provide a therapeutic benefit for autoimmune diseases. Using a chemical genomics approach integrated with cellular and in vivo assays, we screened a small compound library to identify modulators of IFN-α biological effects. A genomic fingerprint was developed from both ex vivo patient genomic information and in vitro gene modulation from IFN-α cell-based stimulation. A high throughput genomic-based screen then was applied to prioritize 268 small molecule inhibitors targeting 41 different intracellular signaling pathways. Active compounds were profiled further for their ability to inhibit the activation and differentiation of human monocytes using disease-related stimuli. Inhibitors targeting NF-κB or Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling emerged as “dissociated inhibitors” because they did not modulate IFN-α anti-viral effects against HSV-1 but potently inhibited other immune-related functions. This work describes a novel strategy to identify small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC2376640  PMID: 18475307
3.  Opposing Roles of Membrane and Soluble Forms of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products in Primary Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(8):1311-1320.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory pathogen in infants and the older population, causes pulmonary inflammation and airway occlusion that leads to impairment of lung function. Here, we have established a role for receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) in RSV infection. RAGE-deficient (ager−/−) mice were protected from RSV-induced weight loss and inflammation. This protection correlated with an early increase in type I interferons, later decreases in proinflammatory cytokines, and a reduction in viral load. To assess the contribution of soluble RAGE (sRAGE) to RSV-induced disease, wild-type and ager−/− mice were given doses of sRAGE following RSV infection. Of interest, sRAGE treatment prevented RSV-induced weight loss and neutrophilic inflammation to a degree similar to that observed in ager−/− mice. Our work further elucidates the roles of RAGE in the pathogenesis of respiratory infections and highlights the opposing roles of membrane and sRAGE in modulating the host response to RSV infection.
PMCID: PMC3308901  PMID: 22262795

Results 1-3 (3)