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    ABSTRACT: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in several countries. The underlying process is atherosclerosis, a slowly progressing chronic disorder that can lead to intravascular thrombosis. There is overwhelming evidence for the underlying importance of our immune system in atherosclerosis. Monocytes, which comprise part of the innate immune system, can be recruited to inflamed endothelium and this recruitment has been shown to be proportional to the extent of atherosclerotic disease. Monocytes undergo migration into the vasculature, they differentiate into macrophage phenotypes, which are highly phagocytic and can scavenge modified lipids, leading to foam cell formation and development of the lipid-rich atheroma core. This increased influx leads to a highly inflammatory environment and along with other immune cells can increase the risk in the development of the unstable atherosclerotic plaque phenotype. The present review provides an overview and description of the immunological aspect of innate and adaptive immune cell subsets in atherosclerosis, by defining their interaction with the vascular environment, modified lipids and other cellular exchanges. There is a particular focus on monocytes and macrophages, but shorter descriptions of dendritic cells, lymphocyte populations, neutrophils, mast cells and platelets are also included.
    Clinical Science 09/2013; 125(5):221-35.
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    ABSTRACT: Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells protect vertebrates by killing infected or transformed cells using granzyme B (GrB) to induce apoptosis. However, GrB-induced apoptosis of target cells causes inflammatory disease and chronic transplant rejection and so is an important disease target. The aim of this study was to prevent apoptosis of the target cells by delivering a plasmid encoding GrB inhibitor proteinase inhibitor-9 (PI-9) using cationic polymers as a non-viral vector. Polyethyleneimine (PEI, branched, Mn 10 kDa) gives a high degree of gene transfection efficiency in many types of cell lines, but it is highly cytotoxic. To reduce this cytotoxicity, we modified PEI by blocking primary amine groups through nucleophilic addition between primary amine and a protected mannose-functionalized cyclic carbonate (MTC-ipman), generating a carbamate linkage through the ring-opening of the cyclic carbonate. Deprotection of the mannose yielded a PEI polymer that is decorated with the carbohydrate. PEI with 7 or 20 of 67 primary amine groups substituted by the carbohydrate had similar gene binding ability compared to unmodified PEI, leading to almost 100% transfection efficiency of a GFP-reporter plasmid in HEK293T human embryonic kidney cells. Furthermore, modification of PEI resulted in a decrease in the cytotoxicity of PEI/DNA complexes. However, PEI with all primary amine groups blocked was unable to form a complex with DNA, and so reporter transfection was negligible. The PI-9 encoding plasmid was transfected into HEK293T cells effectively using the modified PEIs with the optimal degree of primary amine substitution, protecting up to 80% HEK293T cells from killing by human natural killer-like leukemic YT cells. Therefore, these carbamate-mannose modified PEI/PI-9 encoding plasmid complexes have potential clinical utility in the prevention of chronic transplant rejection and inflammatory disease caused by GrB.
    Biomaterials 05/2013; 34(14):3697-705.
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    ABSTRACT: Serine Proteases control a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes in multi-cellular organisms, including blood clotting, cancer, cell death, osmo-regulation, tissue re-modeling and immunity to infection. T lymphocytes are required for adaptive cell mediated immunity and serine proteases are not only important for effector function but also homeostatic regulation of cell numbers. Serine Proteases Inhibitors (Serpins) are the physiological regulators of serine proteases activity. In this review, I will discuss the role of serpins in controlling the recognition of antigen, effector function and homeostatic control of T lymphocytes through the inhibition of physiological serine protease targets. An emerging view of serpins is that they are important promoters of cellular viability through their inhibition of executioner proteases. This will be discussed in the context of the T lymphocyte survival during effector responses and the development and persistence of long-lived memory T cells. The potent anti-apoptotic properties of serpins can also work against adaptive cell immunity by protecting viruses and tumors from eradication by cytotoxic T cells (CTL). Recent insights from knock-out mouse models demonstrate that these serpins also are required for hematological progenitor cells and so are critical for the development of lineages other than T lymphocytes. Given the emerging role of serpins in multiple aspects of lymphocyte immunity and blood development I will review the progress to date in developing new immunotherapeutic approaches based directly on serpins or knowledge gained from identifying their physiologically relevant protease targets.
    Immunology letters 04/2013;
  • Ophthalmology 11/2012; 119(11):2412-2412.e2.
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    ABSTRACT: The bias of αβ T cells for MHC ligands has been proposed to be intrinsic to the T-cell receptor (TCR). Equally, the CD4 and CD8 coreceptors contribute to ligand restriction by colocalizing Lck with the TCR when MHC ligands are engaged. To determine the importance of intrinsic ligand bias, the germ-line TCR complementarity determining regions were extensively diversified in vivo. We show that engagement with MHC ligands during thymocyte selection and peripheral T-cell activation imposes remarkably little constraint over TCR structure. Such versatility is more consistent with an opportunist, rather than a predetermined, mode of interface formation. This hypothesis was experimentally confirmed by expressing a hybrid TCR containing TCR-γ chain germ-line complementarity determining regions, which engaged efficiently with MHC ligands.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The persistence of memory T lymphocytes confers lifelong protection from pathogens. Memory T cells survive and undergo homeostatic proliferation (HSP) in the absence of Ag, although the cell-intrinsic mechanisms by which cytokines drive the HSP of memory T cells are not well understood. In this study we report that lysosome stability limits the long-term maintenance of memory CD8(+) T cell populations. Serine protease inhibitor (Spi) 2A, an anti-apoptotic cytosolic cathepsin inhibitor, is induced by both IL-15 and IL-7. Mice deficient in Spi2A developed fewer memory phenotype CD44(hi)CD8(+) T cells with age, which underwent reduced HSP in the bone marrow. Spi2A was also required for the maintenance of central memory CD8(+) T cell populations after acute infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. Spi2A-deficient Ag-specific CD8(+) T cell populations declined more than wild-type competitors after viral infection, and they were eroded further after successive infections. Spi2A protected memory cells from lysosomal breakdown by inhibiting cathepsin B. The impaired maintenance of Spi2A-deficient memory CD8(+) T cells was rescued by concomitant cathepsin B deficiency, demonstrating that cathepsin B was a physiological target of Spi2A in memory CD8(+) T cell survival. Our findings support a model in which protection from lysosomal rupture through cytokine-induced expression of Spi2A determines the long-term persistence of memory CD8(+) T cells.
    The Journal of Immunology 06/2012; 189(3):1133-43.
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    ABSTRACT: CCN2, a secreted profibrotic protein, is highly expressed in diabetic nephropathy (DN) and implicated in its pathogenesis; however, the actions of CCN2 in DN remain elusive. We previously demonstrated that CCN2 triggers signaling via tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA). Trace expression of TrkA is found in normal kidneys, but its expression is elevated in several nephropathies; yet its role in DN is unexplored. In this study we show de novo expression of TrkA in human and murine DN. We go on to study the molecular mechanisms leading to TrkA activation and show that it involves hypoxia, as demonstrated by ischemia-reperfusion injury and in vitro experiments mimicking hypoxia, implicating hypoxia as a common pathway leading to disease. We also expose renal cells to hyperglycemia, which led to TrkA phosphorylation in mesangial cells, tubular epithelial cells, and podocytes but not in glomerular endothelial cells and renal fibroblasts. In addition, we report that hyperglycemia caused an induction of phosphorylated extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 and Snail1 that was abrogated by silencing of TrkA or CCN2 using small interfering RNA. In conclusion, we provide novel evidence that TrkA is activated in diabetic kidneys and suggest that anti-TrkA therapy may prove beneficial in DN.
    Diabetes 05/2012; 61(9):2280-8.
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the impact of macular edema on visual acuity and visual field sensitivity in uveitis. This study utilized baseline data from the Multicenter Uveitis Steroid Treatment (MUST) Trial, a randomized, parallel treatment clinical trial comparing alternative treatments for intermediate, posterior and panuveitis. 255 patients (481 eyes with uveitis) recruited at 23 subspecialty centers. Visual acuity, optical coherence tomography and Humphrey 24-2 visual field testing. Macular edema was associated with impaired visual acuity (p < 0.01). Different phenotypes of macular edema were associated with different degrees of visual impairment: cystoid changes without retinal thickening were associated with moderately impaired visual acuity (-5 ETDRS letters), but visual acuity was worse in eyes with retinal thickening (-13 letters) and with both cysts and thickening (-19 letters). Uveitis sufficient to satisfy the study's inclusion criteria was associated with impaired visual field sensitivity, but eyes with macular edema had even worse visual field sensitivity (p < 0.01). The observation that macular edema substantially reduces visual function suggests macular edema itself is an important endpoint to study in the treatment of uveitis. As uveitis and macular edema both impair visual field sensitivity as measured by Humphrey 24-2 perimetry, both should be considered when evaluating patients with uveitis and raised intraocular pressure for glaucoma.
    Ocular immunology and inflammation 04/2012; 20(3):171-81.
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    ABSTRACT: Although the accelerating effect of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) on atherosclerosis is well established, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the hypothesis that lupus autoimmunity modulates the effect of hypercholesterolemia in driving arterial pathologic development. Low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (Ldlr(-/-) ) mice were crossed with B6.129-Sle16 (Sle16)-congenic autoimmune mice to obtain Sle16. Ldlr(-/-) mice, which were compared with Ldlr(-/-) and Sle16 control mice. All mice were fed either a low-fat or high-fat diet. Groups of mice were compared, by strain and by diet group, for features of accelerated atherosclerosis and autoimmunity. Presence of the Sle16 locus significantly increased the extent of atherosclerosis in Ldlr(-/-) mice. Circulating C3 levels were significantly reduced in Sle16.Ldlr(-/-) mice compared to Ldlr(-/-) control mice and this was paralleled by a marked reduction in arterial lesion C3 deposition despite similar levels of IgG deposition between the groups. Increased numbers of apoptotic cells in plaques were observed in the high-fat-fed Sle16.Ldlr(-/-) mice, consistent with the observed defective clearance of cellular debris. After receiving the high-fat diet, Sle16.Ldlr(-/-) mice developed glomerulonephritis and displayed enhanced glomerular C3 deposition. These results indicate that accelerated atherosclerosis and renal inflammation in SLE are closely linked via immune complex formation and systemic complement depletion. However, whereas hyperlipidemia will enhance renal immune complex-mediated complement activation and the development of nephritis, accelerated atherosclerosis is, instead, related to complement depletion and a reduction in the uptake of apoptotic/necrotic debris. These results suggest that aggressive treatment of hyperlipidemia in patients with SLE may reduce the occurrence of lupus nephritis, as well as diminish the risk of accelerated atherosclerosis.
    Arthritis & Rheumatology 03/2012; 64(8):2707-18.
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    ABSTRACT: Although it has been known for a long time that ubiquitylation has a major role in the activation and regulation of the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathway, recent studies have revealed that the picture is a lot more complex than originally thought. NF-κB and ubiquitylation initially became linked when it was recognised that lysine (K)48-linked ubiquitin chains are involved in the processing of NF-κB precursors and the degradation of inhibitor of kappa B (IκB) proteins. Soon thereafter, it was reported that K63-linked chains were involved in the assembly of IκB kinase (IKK)-activating complexes and required for activation of the NF-κB signalling pathway. Recently, the discovery that atypical ubiquitin linkages, including linear and K11 linkages, are also involved in the activation of NF-κB has led to the need to re-evaluate existing models of how activation of this transcription factor is initiated and regulated. It is now becoming apparent that not only the canonical types of ubiquitin chains but possibly all linkage types have to be investigated in order to fully comprehend NF-κB activation. This can be considered a turning point in our view of the regulation of one of the most important pathways of gene induction. Hence, in this Commentary, we summarise the information that is currently available and incorporate it into a new model of NF-κB activation, thereby highlighting the emerging new challenges in understanding the role of ubiquitylation in NF-κB activation.
    Journal of Cell Science 02/2012; 125(Pt 3):549-59.
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