Are you Veronika Lang?

Claim your profile

Publications (8)55.15 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The morphogen pathways Hedgehog, Wnt and Notch are attractive targets for antifibrotic therapies in systemic sclerosis. Interference with stem cell regeneration, however, may complicate the use of morphogen pathway inhibitors. We therefore tested the hypothesis that combination therapies with low doses of Hedgehog, Wnt and Notch inhibitors maybe safe and effective for the treatment of fibrosis. Skin fibrosis was induced by bleomycin and by overexpression of a constitutively active TGF-β receptor type I. Adverse events were assessed by clinical monitoring, pathological evaluation and quantification of Lgr5-positive intestinal stem cells. Inhibition of Hedgehog, Wnt and Notch signalling dose-dependently ameliorated bleomycin-induced and active TGF-β receptor type I-induced fibrosis. Combination therapies with low doses of Hedgehog/Wnt inhibitors or Hedgehog/Notch inhibitors demonstrated additive antifibrotic effects in preventive as well as in therapeutic regimes. Combination therapies were well tolerated. In contrast with high dose monotherapies, combination therapies did not reduce the number of Lgr5 positive intestinal stem cells. Combined inhibition of morphogen pathways exerts additive antifibrotic effects. Combination therapies are well tolerated and, in contrast to high dose monotherapies, may not impair stem cell renewal. Combined targeting of morphogen pathways may thus help to overcome dose-limiting toxicity of Hedgehog, Wnt and Notch signalling.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 01/2014; · 8.11 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Fibrosis is a predominant cause of death in systemic sclerosis (SSc). First epigenetic modifications have recently been shown to contribute to activation of SSc fibroblasts. Here, we investigated inhibition of sumoylation as a novel antifibrotic approach. Sumoylation was inhibited by siRNA-mediated knockdown of the Small Ubiquitin-like MOdifiers (SUMO) E2-conjugating enzyme Ubc9, which is essential for sumoylation. The effects of knockdown of Ubc9 were analysed in bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis, and in the model of fibrosis induced by overexpression of a constitutively active TGF-beta receptor type I (TBR). SUMO-1 and phosphorylated Smad3 were detected by immunohistochemistry. Increased staining for SUMO-1 was detected in patients with SSc and in experimental fibrosis. Inhibition of sumoylation exerted potent antifibrotic effects and prevented dermal thickening, myofibroblast differentiation and accumulation of collagen induced by bleomycin, or by overexpression of constitutively active TBR. Moreover, knockdown of Ubc9 reduced the accumulation of phosphorylated Smad3 in experimental fibrosis indicating that inhibition of sumoylation may normalise canonical TGF-β signalling in vivo. We demonstrate that inhibition of sumoylation reduces canonical TGF-β signalling and prevents experimental fibrosis in different preclinical models. These data provide first evidence that targeting of aberrant sumoylation may be a novel therapeutic approach for fibrotic diseases.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 08/2012; 71(11):1904-8. · 8.11 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To investigate whether JAK-2 contributes to the pathologic activation of fibroblasts in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and to evaluate the antifibrotic potential of JAK-2 inhibition for the treatment of SSc. Activation of JAK-2 in human skin and in experimental fibrosis was determined by immunohistochemical analysis. JAK-2 signaling was inhibited by the selective JAK-2 inhibitor TG101209 or by small interfering RNA. Bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis in mice and TSK-1 mice were used to evaluate the antifibrotic potential of specific JAK-2 inhibition in vivo. Increased activation of JAK-2 was detected in the skin of patients with SSc, particularly in fibroblasts. The activation of JAK-2 was dependent on transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) and persisted in cultured SSc fibroblasts. Inhibition of JAK-2 reduced basal collagen synthesis selectively in SSc fibroblasts but not in resting healthy dermal fibroblasts. Moreover, inhibition of JAK-2 prevented the stimulatory effects of TGFβ on fibroblasts. Treatment with TG101209 not only prevented bleomycin-induced fibrosis but also effectively reduced skin fibrosis in TSK-1 mice. We demonstrated that JAK-2 is activated in a TGFβ-dependent manner in SSc. Considering the potent antifibrotic effects of JAK-2 inhibition, our study might have direct translational implications, because inhibitors of JAK-2 are currently being evaluated in clinical trials for myeloproliferative disorders and would also be available for evaluation in patients with SSc.
    Arthritis & Rheumatology 05/2012; 64(9):3006-15. · 7.48 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Idiopathic and inflammation-dependent fibrotic diseases such systemic sclerosis (SSc) impose a major burden on modern societies. Understanding endogenous mechanisms, which counteract fibrosis, may yield new therapeutic approaches. Lipoxins are highly potent lipid mediators, which have recently been found to be decreased in SSc. To determine the potential role of 12/15-lipoxygenase (12/15-LO), the key enzyme for the synthesis of lipoxins, in fibrosis. Two mouse models for experimental dermal fibrosis (bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis and tight-skin 1 mouse model) together with bone marrow transfers were used in wildtype and 12/15-LO(-/-) mice to elucidate the role of this enzyme during dermal fibrosis. Primary dermal fibroblasts of wildtype and 12/15-LO(-/-) mice, and 12/15-LO-derived eicosanoids, were used to identify underlying molecular mechanisms In both models, 12/15-LO(-/-) mice exhibited a significant exacerbation of the fibrotic tissue response. Bone marrow transfer experiments disclosed a predominant role of mesenchymal cell-derived 12/15-LO in these antifibrotic effects. Indeed, 12/15-LO(-/-) fibroblasts showed an enhanced activation of the mitogen-activated protein-kinase pathway and an increased col 1a2 mRNA expression in response to stimulation with transforming growth factor β (TGFβ), whereas 12/15-LO-derived eicosanoids blocked these TGFβ-induced effects. These data indicate that 12/15-LO and its metabolites have a prominent antifibrotic role during dermal fibrosis. This opens new opportunities for therapeutic approaches in the treatment of fibrotic diseases.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 01/2012; 71(6):1081-7. · 8.11 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The hallmark of systemic sclerosis (SSc) is the accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins by pathologically activated fibroblasts. This study analysed the antifibrotic effects of the selective c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor, CC-930, which recently entered first clinical trials as a novel antifibrotic approach. Phosphorylated c-Jun was detected by western blot and immunohistochemistry. The model of bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis and the tight skin 1 (TSK1) mouse model were used to investigate the effects of CC-930 on the prevention of experimental fibrosis. The potential of CC-930 to induce regression of fibrosis was assessed in a modified model of established fibrosis. Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) activate JNK and stimulate the phosphorylation of its downstream target c-Jun. Incubation with CC-930 prevented the phosphorylation of c-Jun and reduced the stimulatory levels of these cytokines on the release of collagen. Inhibition of JNK prevented dermal thickening, myofibroblast differentiation and the accumulation of collagen in a dose-dependent manner in mice challenged with bleomycin and in TSK1 mice. In addition to the prevention of fibrosis, treatment with pharmacologically relevant doses of CC-930 also induced regression of established experimental fibrosis. These data identify JNK as a downstream mediator of the pro-fibrotic effects of of TGFβ and PDGF in SSc fibroblasts. Selective inhibition of JNK by CC-930 exerted potent antifibrotic effects in vitro and in different models in vivo. JNK might thus be a novel molecular target for the treatment of fibrosis in SSc.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 01/2012; 71(5):737-45. · 8.11 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To investigate the occurrence and risk factors for infections in RA patients treated with tocilizumab. A cohort of all RA patients (n = 112) starting tocilizumab therapy between October 2008 and March 2010 in Northern Bavaria was screened for infections. Mild/moderate and severe infections were recorded. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to define risk factors for infection. Overall, 26 patients developed infections [23.2%; 58.0/100 patient-years (py)], 18 of them were mild to moderate (16.1%, 40.1/100 py) and 8 were severe (17.9/100 py). Concomitant use of LEF and prednisone, high disease activity and previous therapy with rituximab were associated with the occurrence of mild/moderate infections. Severe infections were related to longer disease duration, exposure to more than three previous DMARDs and concomitant therapy with proton-pump inhibitors. The rate of infection in RA patients treated with tocilizumab in clinical practice is higher than in the clinical trial populations. Increased attention should especially be given to patients with longer disease duration, previous exposure to multiple DMARDs, i.e. previous exposure to rituximab and those receiving concomitant LEF, prednisone or proton-pump inhibitor treatment.
    Rheumatology (Oxford, England) 08/2011; 51(5):852-7. · 4.24 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib is approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. We recently demonstrated that bortezomib eliminates autoreactive plasma cells in systemic lupus erythematosus mouse models, thereby representing a promising novel treatment for Ab-mediated diseases. In this study, we investigated the effects of bortezomib on the just developing and pre-existing T-dependent Ab response toward dinitrophenyl-keyhole limpet hemocyanin and the T-independent type 2 response toward (4-hydroxy-3-iodo-5-nitrophenyl)acetyl (NIP)-Ficoll in BALB/c mice. Bortezomib treatment strongly reduced T-dependent Ab titers mainly due to depletion of plasma cells. In contrast, the early T-independent type 2 response against i.v. administered NIP-Ficoll, which is predominantly dependent on marginal zone (MZ) B cells, resisted bortezomib. Upon bortezomib treatment, immunoproteasome subunits and the antiapoptotic unfolded protein response including NF-κB were induced in NIP-Ficoll-stimulated MZ B cells, but not in plasma cells and follicular B cells. In summary, bortezomib treatment decreases Ab titers arising from T-dependent immune responses predominantly by eliminating plasma cells. In contrast, the early T-independent type 2 response protecting the organism against blood-borne pathogens remains largely intact due to a remarkable resistance of MZ B cells against proteasome inhibition.
    The Journal of Immunology 10/2010; 185(9):5637-47. · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib is clinically approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma. However, long-term remissions are difficult to achieve, and myeloma cells often develop secondary resistance to proteasome inhibitors. We recently demonstrated that the extraordinary sensitivity of myeloma cells toward bortezomib is dependent on their extensive immunoglobulin synthesis, thereby triggering the terminal unfolded protein response (UPR). Here, we investigated whether verapamil, an inhibitor of the multidrug resistance (MDR) gene product, can enhance the cytotoxicity of bortezomib. The combination of bortezomib and verapamil synergistically decreased the viability of myeloma cells by inducing cell death. Importantly, bortezomib-mediated activation of major UPR components was enhanced by verapamil. The combination of bortezomib and verapamil resulted in caspase activation followed by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, whereas nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) activity declined in myeloma cells. Also, we found reduced immunoglobulin G secretion along with increased amounts of ubiquitinylated proteins within insoluble fractions of myeloma cells when using the combination treatment. Verapamil markedly induced reactive oxygen species production and autophagic-like processes. Furthermore, verapamil decreased MDR1 expression. We conclude that verapamil increased the antimyeloma effect of bortezomib by enhancing ER stress signals along with NF-kappaB inhibition, leading to cell death. Thus, the combination of bortezomib with verapamil may improve the efficacy of proteasome inhibitory therapy.
    Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 07/2010; 12(7):550-61. · 5.48 Impact Factor