[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based on their essential role in concerting immunological and inflammatory responses we hypothesized that the homeostatic chemokines CCL19 and CCL21 may play a pathogenic role in rickettsiae infection.
Serum levels of CCL19 and CCL21 in patients with R. africae and R. conorii infection were analyzed by enzyme immunoassays. Lungs from R. conorii infected mice were examined for CCL19, CCL21 and CCR7 expression by immunohistochemistry.
We found that patients with R. africae infection (n = 15) and in particular those with R. conorii infection (n = 16) had elevated serum levels of CCL19 on admission, with a decline during follow-up. While a similar pattern was seen for CCL21 in R. africae infection, patients with R. conorii infection showed persistently increased CCL21 levels during follow-up. In experimental R. conorii infection, we found strong immunostaining of CCL19 and CCL21 in the lungs, particularly in individuals that had received lethal doses. Immunofluorescence showed co-localization of CCR7 to endothelial cells, macrophages and fibroblasts within the lung tissue of R. conorii infected mice.
Our findings suggest that the CCL19/CCL21/CCR7 axis is up-regulated during R. africae and in particular during R. conorii infection, which may potentially contribute to the pathogenesis of these disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AIMS: Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-Like Receptor with a Pyrin domain 3 (NLRP3) is considered necessary for initiating a profound sterile inflammatory response. NLRP3 forms multi-protein complexes with Apoptosis-associated Speck-like protein containing a Caspase recruitment domain (ASC) and Caspase-1, which activate pro-interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and pro-IL-18. The role of NLRP3 in cardiac cells is not known. Thus, we investigated the expression and function of NLRP3 during myocardial ischemia.Methods and ResultsMyocardial infarction (MI) was induced in adult C57BL/6 mice and Wistar rats by ligation of the coronary artery. A marked increase of NLRP3, IL-1β and IL-18 mRNA expression was found in the left ventricle after MI, primarily located to myocardial fibroblasts. In vitro studies in cells from adult mice showed that myocardial fibroblasts released IL-1β and IL-18 when primed with lipopolysaccharide and subsequently exposed to the danger signal adenosine triphosphate, a molecule released after tissue damage during MI. When hearts were isolated from NLRP3 deficient mice, perfused and subjected to global ischemia and reperfusion, a marked improvement of cardiac function and reduction of hypoxic damage was found compared to wild-type hearts. This was not observed in ASC deficient hearts, potentially reflecting a protective role of other ASC-dependent inflammasomes or inflammasome independent effects of NLRP3. CONCLUSION: This study shows that the NLRP3 inflammasome is up-regulated in myocardial fibroblasts post-MI, and may be a significant contributor to infarct size development during ischemia-reperfusion.
Cardiovascular research 04/2013; · 5.80 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Valve calcification and inflammation play key roles in the development of aortic stenosis (AS). The Wnt pathways have been linked to inflammation, bone metabolism, angiogenesis, and heart valve formation. We hypothesized that soluble Wnt modulators may be dysregulated in symptomatic AS.
We measured circulating levels (n=136) and aortic valve tissue expression (n=16) of the secreted Wnt modulators secreted frizzled related protein-3, dickkopf-1 (DKK-1), and Wnt inhibitory factor-1 (WIF-1) by enzyme immunoassay, immunostaining, and RT-PCR in patients with symptomatic, severe AS and investigated associations with echocardiographic parameters of AS and cardiac function. Finally, we assessed the prognostic value of these Wnt modulators in relation to all-cause mortality (n=35) during long-term follow-up (median 4.6 years; survivors, 4.8 years; nonsurvivors, 1.9 years) in these patients. Our main findings were: (1) serum levels of all Wnt modulators were markedly elevated in patients with symptomatic AS (mean increase 231% to 278%, P<0.001), (2) all Wnt modulators were present in calcified aortic valves but correlated poorly with systemic levels or degree of AS, (3) some modulators (ie, WIF-1) were associated with the degree of myocardial function and valvular calcification, (4) all Wnt modulators, and DKK-1 in particular, predicted long-term mortality in these patients also after adjusting for conventional predictors including NT-proBNP.
Together, these in vivo data support the involvement of Wnt signaling in the development of AS and suggest that circulating Wnt modulators should be further investigated as risk markers in larger AS populations, including patients with asymptomatic disease.
Journal of the American Heart Association. 12/2012; 1(6):e002261.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based on the newly recognized role of the homeostatic chemokines in inflammation, we hypothesized that CXCL13 could modulate atherogenesis and plaque destabilization.
The study included in vivo analyses in patients with carotid atherosclerosis and in vitro experiments in cells involved in atherogenesis (ie, monocytes/macrophages, vascular smooth muscle cells [SMC], and platelets).
Our main findings were: (i) Patients with carotid atherosclerosis (n = 130) had increased plasma levels of CXCL13 with particularly high levels in symptomatic disease. (ii) CXCL13 showed increased expression within atherosclerotic carotid plaques as compared with non-atherosclerotic vessels. (iii) Within the atherosclerotic lesions, CXCR5 and CXCL13 were expressed by macrophages and SMC in all stages of plaque progression. (iv) Releasate from activated platelets and toll-like receptor activation enhanced the expression of CXCL13 in THP-1 monocytes and primary monocytes. (v) In vitro, CXCL13 exerted anti-apoptotic effects in primary monocytes, THP-1 macrophages, and vascular SMC. (vi) CXCL13 increased arginase-1, transforming growth factor-β, and interleukin-10 expression in THP-1 cells and in samples from isolated carotid plaques.
Levels of CXCL13 are increased in carotid atherosclerosis both systemically and within the atherosclerotic lesion. Based on our in vitro findings, we hypothesize a potential plaque stabilizing effects of CXCL13-CXCR5 interaction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CCL19 and CCL21, acting through CCR7, are termed homeostatic chemokines. Based on their role in concerting immunological responses and their proposed involvement in tissue remodeling, we hypothesized that these chemokines could play a pathogenic role in heart failure (HF).
Our main findings were: (i) Serum levels of CCL19 and particularly CCL21 were markedly raised in patients with chronic HF (n = 150) as compared with healthy controls (n = 20). A CCL21 level above median was independently associated with all-cause mortality. (ii) In patients with HF following acute myocardial infarction (MI; n = 232), high versus low CCL21 levels 1 month post-MI were associated with cardiovascular mortality, even after adjustment for established risk factors. (iii). Explanted failing human LV tissue (n = 29) had markedly increased expression of CCL21 as compared with non-failing myocardium (n = 5). (iv) Our studies in CCR7(-/-) mice showed improved survival and attenuated increase in markers of myocardial dysfunction and wall stress in post-MI HF after 1 week, accompanied by increased myocardial expression of markers of regulatory T cells. (v) Six weeks post-MI, there was an increase in markers of myocardial dysfunction and wall stress in CCR7 deficient mice.
High serum levels of CCL21 are independently associated with mortality in chronic and acute post-MI HF. Our findings in CCR7 deficient mice may suggest that CCL21 is not only a marker, but also a mediator of myocardial failure. However, while short term inhibition of CCR7 may be beneficial following MI, a total lack of CCR7 during long-term follow-up could be harmful.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e33038. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In addition to lowering cholesterol, statins are thought to beneficially modulate inflammation. Several chemokines including CXCL1/growth-related oncogene (GRO)-α, CXCL8/interleukin (IL)-8 and CCL2/monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 are important in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and can be influenced by statin-treatment. Recently, we observed that atorvastatin-treatment alters the intracellular content and subcellular distribution of GRO-α in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). The objective of this study was to investigate the mechanisms involved in this phenomenon. METHODOLOGY/ PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The effect of atorvastatin on secretion levels and subcellular distribution of GRO-α, IL-8 and MCP-1 in HUVECs activated by interleukin (IL)-1β were evaluated by ELISA, confocal microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy. Atorvastatin increased the intracellular contents of GRO-α, IL-8, and MCP-1 and induced colocalization with E-selectin in multivesicular bodies. This effect was prevented by adding the isoprenylation substrate GGPP, but not the cholesterol precursor squalene, indicating that atorvastatin exerts these effects by inhibiting isoprenylation rather than depleting the cells of cholesterol. CONCLUSIONS/ SIGNIFICANCE: Atorvastatin targets inflammatory chemokines to the endocytic pathway and multivesicular bodies and may contribute to explain the anti-inflammatory effect of statins at the level of endothelial cell function.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e40673. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Accumulation of modified low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in macrophages is a key event in all stages of atherogenesis. We have previously shown increased level of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (nampt) in symptomatic, compared to asymptomatic, atherosclerotic carotid lesions, primarily located to macrophages. Here we sought to investigate the regulation and effect of intracellular nampt in macrophages.
The expression of nampt was assessed by real-time PCR in THP-1 cells that was exposed to different pro-atherogenic stimuli. The effect of nampt on lipid accumulation was examined in phorbol myristate acetate-differentiated THP-1 and in primary monocyte-derived macrophages.
Our main findings were: (1) Nampt is increased during macrophage differentiation. (2) Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, oxidized (ox)LDL, and hypoxia increased nampt expression in macrophages, with further enhancing effect when these stimuli were combined. The effect of hypoxia seems to involve hypoxia inducing factor 1α. (3) Silencing of nampt increased lipid accumulation in macrophages as shown by increased protein levels of the lipid droplet marker adipose differentiation-related protein (ADRP). (4) A specific inhibitor of nampt enzymatic activity, increased ADRP and cholesterol levels in oxLDL stimulated macrophages, and enhanced the binding of acetylated LDL in these cells. (5). Nampt inhibition decreased the relative amount of cholesterol efflux in oxLDL-exposed macrophages.
Our data suggest that the regulation of nampt in macrophages is linked to pro-atherogenic stimuli, potentially mediating counteracting effects on lipid accumulation and foam cell formation. These findings suggest a rather complex role of nampt in atherogenesis, potentially mediating both adaptive and maladaptive responses.
European Journal of Clinical Investigation 03/2011; 41(10):1098-104. · 3.37 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in Western and non-Western countries, but its pathogenesis is not fully understood.
Based on the role of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) in fat and glucose metabolism and cell survival, we hypothesized a role for NAMPT/visfatin in the pathogenesis of NAFLD-related disease.
We conducted clinical studies at a referral medical center in well-characterized NAFLD patients (n = 58) and healthy controls (n = 27). In addition we performed experimental in vitro studies in hepatocytes.
We examined 1) the hepatic and systemic expression of NAMPT/visfatin in patients with NAFLD and control subjects, 2) the hepatic regulation of NAMPT/visfatin, and 3) the effect of NAMPT/visfatin on hepatocyte apoptosis.
Our main findings were as follows. 1) Patients with NAFLD had decreased NAMPT/visfatin expression both systemically in serum and within the hepatic tissue, with no difference between simple steatosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. 2) By studying the hepatic regulation of NAMPT/visfatin in wild-type and peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor (PPAR)alpha(-/-) mice as well as in hepatocytes, we showed that PPARalpha activation and glucose may be involved in the down-regulation of hepatic NAMPT/visfatin expression in NAFLD. 4) Within the liver, NAMPT/visfatin was located to hepatocytes, and our in vitro studies showed that NAMPT/visfatin exerts antiapoptotic effects in these cells, involving enzymatic synthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.
Based on these findings, we suggest a role for decreased NAMPT/visfatin levels in hepatocyte apoptosis in NAFLD-related disease.
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism 06/2010; 95(6):3039-47. · 6.50 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We hypothesized a role for the inflammatory protein YKL-40 in atherogenesis and plaque destabilization based on its role in macrophage activation, tissue remodeling, and angiogenesis.
Serum YKL-40 levels were measured by enzyme immunoassay in 89 patients with carotid atherosclerosis and 20 healthy controls. Carotid expression of YKL-40 was examined by real time RT-PCR in 57 of the patients. Regulation and effect of YKL-40 were examined in THP-1 monocytes.
Our main findings were: (1) serum YKL-40 levels were significantly elevated in patients with carotid atherosclerosis, with particularly high levels in those with symptomatic disease; (2) patients with recent ischemic symptoms (within 2 months) had higher YKL-40 mRNA levels in carotid plaque than other patients; (3) in vitro, the beta-adrenergic receptor agonist isoproterenol, toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 and TLR4 agonists, and in particular releasate from activated platelets significantly increased the expression of YKL-40 in THP-1 monocytes and (4) in vitro, YKL-40 increased matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression and activity in THP-1 monocytes, involving activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase.
Our findings suggest that YKL-40 might be a marker of plaque instability, potentially reflecting macrophage activation and matrix degradation within the atherosclerotic lesion.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inherited low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol may be due to mutations in the genes encoding the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), apolipoprotein (apo) A-I or lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT).
The ABCA1, apoA-I and LCAT genes of a 40-year-old male subject with serum HDL cholesterol of 0.06mmol/l were subjected to DNA sequencing. The proband's family was examined for co-segregation between mutations and levels of HDL cholesterol. Cholesterol efflux in fibroblasts from the proband and a normocholesterolemic subject was compared. The effects of an ABCA1 mutation on cholesterol efflux and membrane localization of ABCA1 were studied in transfected HEK293 and HeLa cells, respectively.
The proband was a compound heterozygote for ABCA1 mutations R282X (c.844 C>T) and Y1532C (c.4595 A>G). Relatives who were heterozygous for one of these mutations, had about half-normal HDL cholesterol levels. Cholesterol efflux was reduced in fibroblasts from the proband, as was cholesterol efflux from HEK293 cells transfected with an human (h) ABCA1 expression plasmid harboring the Y1532C mutation. Confocal microscopy of HeLa cells transfected with the Y1532C-hABCA1 plasmid revealed that the Y1532C mutation inhibits ABCA1 from reaching the cellular membrane.
Compound heterozygosity for the nonsense mutation R282X and the missense mutation Y1532C in the ABCA1 gene causes Tangier disease. R282X has a detrimental effect on the function of ABCA1 since a premature stop codon is introduced. Mutation Y1532C disrupts the normal function of ABCA1 as determined by in vitro analyses.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) mediates cholesterol homeostasis through endocytosis of lipoprotein particles, particularly low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). Normally, the lipoprotein particles are released in the endosomes and the receptors recycle to the cell surface. Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the gene encoding the LDLR. These mutations are divided into five functional classes where Class 5 mutations encode receptors that suffer from ligand-induced degradation and recycling deficiency. The aim of this study was to investigate whether it is possible to prevent the fast ligand-induced degradation of Class 5-mutant LDLR and to restore its ability to recycle to the cell surface. E387K is a naturally occurring Class 5 mutation found in FH patients, and in the present study, we used Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with an E387K-mutant LDLR. Abrogation of endosomal acidification by adding bafilomycin A1 or addition of the irreversible serine protease inhibitors, 4-(2-aminoethyl)-benzenesulfonyl fluoride (AEBSF) and 3,4-dichloroisocoumarin (DCI), prevented the degradation of the E387K-mutant LDLR. However, the undegraded receptor did not recycle to the cell surface in the presence of LDL. Unexpectedly, AEBSF caused aggregation of early endosome antigen-1- positive endosomes and the intracellular trapped LDLR co-localized with these aggregated early endosomes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Screening for mutations in the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene has identified more than 1000 mutations as the cause of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). In addition, numerous intronic mutations with uncertain effects on pre-mRNA splicing have also been identified. In this study, we have selected 18 intronic mutations in the LDLR gene for comprehensive studies of their effects on pre-mRNA splicing. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transformed lymphocytes from subjects heterozygous for these mutations were established and mRNA was studied by Northern blot analyses and reverse transcription polymerase chain reactions. Furthermore, functional studies of the LDLRs were performed by flow cytometry. The results of the wet-lab analyses were compared to the predictions obtained from bioinformatics analyses using the programs MaxEntScan, NetGene2 and NNSplice 0.9, which are commonly used software packages for prediction of abnormal splice sites. Thirteen of the 18 intronic mutations were found to affect pre-mRNA splicing in a biologically relevant way as determined by wet-lab analyses. Skipping of one or two exons was observed for eight of the mutations, intron inclusion was observed for four of the mutations and activation of a cryptic splice site was observed for two of the mutations. Transcripts from eight of the mutant alleles were subjected to degradation. The computational analyses of the normal and mutant splice sites, predicted abnormal splicing with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 60%. Thus, bioinformatics analyses are valuable tools as a first screening of the effects of intronic mutations in the LDLR gene on pre-mRNA splicing.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 03/2009; 96(4):245-52. · 2.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objective of this project was to determine whether nonsense mutation in the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) induces nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD).
Four known nonsense mutations (W23X, S78X, E207X and W541X) in the LDLR gene, which are found in Norwegian familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) patients, were investigated. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transformed lymphocytes from patients heterozygous for these mutations in the LDLR gene were analysed. Flow cytometric analysis was used to determine the amount and function of the cell surface LDLRs. The expression of LDLR mRNA in lymphocytes was quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The presence of NMD was tested using the inhibitors gentamicin, emetine or cycloheximide.
Cells from heterozygous FH patients with nonsense mutations in the LDLR gene contained significantly less LDLR protein (p<0.05). In addition, flow cytometric analysis revealed that these patients had a reduced LDL-uptake compared to controls (p<0.005). Cells from heterozygous FH patients with nonsense mutations W23X, S78X or W541X in the LDLR gene showed significantly decreased levels of LDLR mRNA (p<0.005). LDLR mRNA was reduced in the mutant lymphocyte S78X prior to treatment with pharmacological inhibitors, and after treatment the level of LDLR mRNA increased to the same level as that of normal cells.
In the present study, NMD was confirmed in the LDLR gene. Translation inhibitors showed reduced NMD caused by nonsense mutated LDLR transcripts. Knowledge of NMD might have an important impact in clinical medicine as genetic intervention develops.
Scandinavian journal of clinical and laboratory investigation 01/2009; 69(3):409-17. · 1.38 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) interferes with the recycling of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR). This leads to LDLR degradation and reduced cellular uptake of plasma LDL. Naturally occurring human PCSK9 loss-of-function mutations are associated with low levels of plasma LDL cholesterol and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. PCSK9 gain-of-function mutations result in lower LDL clearance and increased risk of atherosclerosis. The exact mechanism by which PCSK9 disrupts the normal recycling of LDLR remains to be determined. In this study, we have assembled homologs of human PCSK9 from 20 vertebrates, a cephalochordate and mollusks in order to search for conserved regions of PCSK9 that may be important for the PCSK9-mediated degradation of LDLR. We found a large, conserved protrusion on the surface of the PCSK9 catalytic domain and have performed site-directed mutagenesis experiments for 13 residues on this protrusion. A cluster of residues that is important for the degradation of LDLR by PCSK9 was identified. Another cluster of residues, at the opposite end of the conserved protrusion, appears to be involved in the physical interaction with a putative inhibitor of PCSK9. This study identifies the residues, sequence segments and surface patches of PCSK9 that are under strong purifying selection and provides important information for future studies of PCSK9 mutants and for investigations on the function of this regulator of cholesterol homeostasis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a key regulator of serum cholesterol. The possibility that PCSK9 also functions in other pathways needs to be addressed. We have transfected HepG2 cells with mutant D374Y-PCSK9 or control vector. Gene expression signatures were determined using the Affymetrix GeneChip technology, and the expression pattern of selected genes was confirmed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Data was normalized and analyzed using a model-based background adjustment for oligonucleotide expression arrays, then filtered based upon expression within treatments group, and subjected to moderated t-statistics. Five hundred twenty transcripts had altered expression levels between D374Y-PCSK9 and control vector. Among the 520 probes on our top list, 312 were found to have an assigned Gene Ontology (GO) term, and 96 were found in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways. Genome-wide expression profiling revealed that "steroid biosynthesis," "sterol metabolism," and "cholesterol biosynthsis" were affected by D374Y-PCSK9. Also, the GO biological process terms "response to stresss," "response to virus," "response to unfolded protein," and "immune response" were influenced by D374Y-PCSK9. Our results suggest that D374Y-PCSK9 results in up-regulation of genes involved in sterol biosynthesis and down-regulation of stress-response genes and specific inflammation pathways.
Journal of Cellular Physiology 07/2008; 217(2):459-67. · 4.22 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To expand our understanding of the structure and function of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) by studying how naturally occurring mutations in PCSK9 disrupt the function of PCSK9.
Mutations in PCSK9 were identified by sequencing of DNA from subjects with hypo- or hypercholesterolemia. The effect of the identified mutations on the autocatalytic cleavage and secretion of PCSK9, as well as the effect on PCSK9-mediated degradation of the low density lipoprotein receptors, were determined in HepG2 or HEK293 cells transiently transfected with mutant PCSK9-containing plasmids. The findings were collated to the clinical characteristics of the subjects possessing these mutations, and the phenotypic effects were analysed in terms of available structural data for PCSK9.
Five novel mutations in PCSK9 were identified. Mutation R215H was a gain-of-function mutation which causes hypercholesterolemia. Mutation G236S and N354I were loss-of-function mutations due to failure to exit the endoplasmic reticulum or failure to undergo autocatalytic cleavage, respectively. Mutations A245T and R272Q were most likely normal genetic variants. By comparing the number of patients with gain-of-function mutations in PCSK9 with the number of familial hypercholesterolemia heterozygotes among subjects with hypercholesterolemia, the prevalence of subjects with gain-of-function mutations in PCSK9 in Norway can be estimated to one in 15,000.
This study has provided novel information about the structural requirements for the normal function of PCSK9. However, more studies are needed to determine the mechanisms by which gain-of-function mutations in PCSK9 cause hypercholesterolemia.
Journal of Internal Medicine 05/2008; 263(4):420-31. · 6.46 Impact Factor