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Recent publications
Up to now, there is only limited information available on a possible relationship between clinical characteristics and the mineralization of metacarpal bones and finger joint space distance (JSD) in patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Computerized digital imaging techniques like digital X-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) and computer-aided joint space analysis (CAJSA) have significantly improved the structural analysis of hand radiographs and facilitate the recognition of radiographic damage. The objective of this study was to evaluate clinical features which potentially influence periarticular mineralization of the metacarpal bones and finger JSD in PsA-patients. 201 patients with PsA underwent computerized measurements of the metacarpal bone mineral density (BMD) with DXR and JSD of all finger joints by CAJSA. DXR-BMD and JSD were compared with clinical features such as age and sex, disease duration, C-reactive protein (CRP) as well as treatment with prednisone and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). A longer disease duration and an elevated CRP value were associated with a significant reduction of DXR-BMD, whereas JSD-parameters were not affected by both parameters. DXR-BMD was significantly reduced in the prednisone group (–0.0383 g/cm²), but prednisone showed no impact on finger JSD. Patients under the treatment with bDMARDs presented significant lower DXR-BMD (–0.380 g/cm²), JSDMCP (–0.0179 cm), and JSDPIP (–0.0121 cm) values. Metacarpal BMD was influenced by inflammatory activity, prednisone use, and DMARDs. In contrast, finger JSD showed only a change compared to baseline therapy. Therefore, metacarpal BMD as well as finger JSD represent radiographic destruction under different aspects.
The yeast-to-hypha transition is a key virulence attribute of the opportunistic human fungal pathogen Candida albicans, since it is closely tied to infection-associated processes such as tissue invasion and escape from phagocytes. While the nature of hypha-associated gene expression required for fungal virulence has been thoroughly investigated, potential morphotype-dependent activity of metabolic pathways remained unclear. Here, we combined global transcriptome and metabolome analyses for the wild-type SC5314 and the hypha-defective hgc1D and cph1Defg1D strains under three hypha-inducing (human serum, N-acetylglucosamine, and alkaline pH) and two yeast-promoting conditions to identify metabolic adaptions that accompany the filamentation process. We identified morphotype-related activities of distinct pathways and a metabolic core signature of 26 metabolites with consistent depletion or enrichment during the yeast-to-hypha transition. Most strikingly, we found a hypha-associated activation of de novo sphingolipid biosynthesis, indicating a connection of this pathway and filamentous growth. Consequently , pharmacological inhibition of this partially fungus-specific pathway resulted in strongly impaired filamentation, verifying the necessity of de novo sphingolipid bio-synthesis for proper hypha formation. IMPORTANCE The reversible switch of Candida albicans between unicellular yeast and multicellular hyphal growth is accompanied by a well-studied hypha-associated gene expression, encoding virulence factors like adhesins, toxins, or nutrient scavengers. The investigation of this gene expression consequently led to fundamental insights into the pathogenesis of this fungus. In this study, we applied this concept to hypha-associated metabolic adaptations and identified morphotype-dependent activities of distinct pathways and a stimulus-independent metabolic signature of hyphae. Most strikingly, we found the induction of de novo sphingolipid biosynthesis as hypha associated and essential for the filamentation of C. albicans. These findings verified the presence of morphotype-specific metabolic traits in the fungus, which appear connected to the fungal virulence. Furthermore, the here-provided comprehensive description of the fungal metabolome will help to foster future research and lead to a better understanding of fungal physiology.
Candida albicans biofilm maturation is accompanied by enhanced expression of amino acid acquisition genes. Three state-of-the-art omics techniques were applied to detail the importance of active amino acid uptake during biofilm development. Comparative analyses of normoxic wild-type biofilms were performed under three metabolically challenging conditions: aging, hypoxia, and disabled amino acid uptake using a strain lacking the regulator of amino acid permeases Stp2. Aging-induced amino acid acquisition and stress responses to withstand the increasingly restricted environment. Hypoxia paralyzed overall energy metabolism with delayed amino acid consumption, but following prolonged adaptation, the metabolic fingerprints aligned with aged normoxic biofilms. The extracellular metabolome of stp2Δ biofilms revealed deficient uptake for 11 amino acids, resulting in extensive transcriptional and metabolic changes including induction of amino acid biosynthesis and carbohydrate and micronutrient uptake. Altogether, this study underscores the critical importance of a balanced amino acid homeostasis for C. albicans biofilm development.
Background Giant cell arteritis (GCA) with the involvement of extracranial vessels is increasingly coming into focus. Isolated aortic involvement in the acute phase of GCA is probably more frequent than estimated because only a minority of patients show typical symptoms. ¹⁸ F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/CT (PET/CT) is a reliable imaging tool to diagnose patients with extracranial GCA. The aim of this retrospective study was to quantify arterial involvement at the onset of a newly diagnosed GCA by PET/CT and to evaluate the influence of glucocorticoid (GC) treatment on the diagnostic performance of this imaging technique. Methods The study included 60 patients with GCA at the onset of a GCA. All patients had undergone a PET/CT scan. 44 patients were GC naïve and 16 patients received GC. Results The most affected arteries were the ascending aorta (72%), followed by the brachiocephalic trunk (62%), aortic arch (60%) and descending aorta (60%). The aorta and its branches showed an inflammatory involvement in 83.3% of patients. A singular affection of the aorta and the brachiocephalic trunk was revealed in 20% of cases. GC-naïve patients (95.5%) had more frequently affected arteries compared with GC-treated patients (50%). Conclusion Our study showed the frequent involvement of the thoracic aorta and brachiocephalic trunk in patients with GCA using PET/CT. Since these vascular compartments cannot be visualised by ultrasound, we advocate screening imaging of the aorta with PET/CT when GCA is suspected. Because the use of GC is associated with a marked decrease in the inflamed vascular segment in GCA, PET/CT should be performed as soon as possible.
Objectives In hospital hygiene it remains unclear to which extent surface contamination might represent a potential reservoir for nosocomial pathogens. This study investigates the effects of different sanitization strategies on the microbial structures and the ecological balance of the environmental microbiome in the clinical setting. Methods Three cleaning regimes (disinfectants, detergents and probiotics) were applied subsequently in 9 independent patient rooms at a neurological ward (Charité, Berlin). Weekly sampling procedures included 3 different environmental sites: floor, doorhandle and sink. Characterization of the environmental microbiota and detection of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) were performed by 16S rRNA sequencing and multiplex Taq-Man qPCR assays, respectively. Results Our results showed a displacement of the intrinsic environmental microbiota after probiotic sanitization, which reached statistical significance in the sink samples (Median 16S-rRNA copies = 138.3; IQR: 24.38-379.5) when compared to traditional disinfection measures (Median 16S-rRNA copies = 1343; IQR: 330.9-9479; p<0.05). This effect was concomitant with a significant increase of the alpha-diversity metrics in both the floor (p<0.001) and the sink samples (p<0.01) during the probiotic strategy. We did not observe a sanitization-dependent change of relative pathogen abundance at any tested site, but a significant reduction of the total ARGs counts in the sink samples during probiotic cleaning (mean ARGs/sample: 0.095 ± 0.067) when compared to the disinfection strategy (mean ARGs/sample: 0.386 ± 0.116; p<0.01). Conclusions The data presented in this study suggest the probiotic sanitization as interesting strategy in hospital hygiene management to be further analyzed and validated in randomized clinical studies.
Background: Up to now, there is only limited information available on a possible relationship between clinical characteristics and the mineralization of metacarpal bones and finger joint space distance (JSD) in patients with psoriasis arthritis (PsA). Computerized digital imaging techniques like digital X-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) and computer-aided joint space analysis (CAJSA) have significantly improved the structural analysis of hand radiographs and facilitate the recognition of radiographic damage. The objective of this study was to evaluate clinical features which potentially influence periarticular mineralization of the metacarpal bones and finger JSD in PsA-patients. Methods: 201 patients with PsA underwent computerized measurements of the metacarpal bone mineral density (BMD) with DXR and JSD of all finger joints by CAJSA. DXR-BMD and JSD were compared with clinical features such as age and sex, disease duration, C-reactive protein (CRP) as well as treatment with prednisone and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Results: A longer disease duration and an elevated CRP value were associated with a significant reduction of DXR-BMD, whereas JSD-parameters were not affected by both parameters. DXR-BMD was significantly reduced in the prednisone group (-6.6%), but prednisone showed no impact on finger JSD. Patients under the treatment with bDMARDs presented significant lower DXR-BMD (-9.1%), JSDMCP (-16.8%), and JSDPIP (-12.4%) values. Conclusion: Metacarpal BMD was influenced by inflammatory activity, prednisone use, and DMARDs. In contrast, finger JSD showed only a change compared to baseline therapy. Therefore, metacarpal BMD as well as finger JSD represent radiographic destruction under different aspects.
Background Up to now, there is only limited information available on a possible relationship between clinical characteristics and the mineralization of metacarpal bones and finger joint space distance (JSD) in patients with psoriasis arthritis (PsA). Computerized digital imaging techniques like digital X-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) and computer-aided joint space analysis (CAJSA) have significantly improved the structural analysis of hand radiographs and facilitate the recognition of radiographic damage. The objective of this study was to evaluate clinical features which potentially influence periarticular mineralization of the metacarpal bones and finger JSD in PsA-patients. Methods 201 patients with PsA underwent computerized measurements of the metacarpal bone mineral density (BMD) with DXR and JSD of all finger joints by CAJSA. DXR-BMD and JSD were compared with clinical features such as age and sex, disease duration, C-reactive protein (CRP) as well as treatment with prednisone and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Results A longer disease duration and an elevated CRP value were associated with a significant reduction of DXR-BMD, whereas JSD-parameters were not affected by both parameters. DXR-BMD was significantly reduced in the prednisone group (-6.6%), but prednisone showed no impact on finger JSD. Patients under the treatment with bDMARDs presented significant lower DXR-BMD (-9.1%), JSDMCP (-16.8%), and JSDPIP (-12.4%) values. Conclusion Metacarpal BMD was influenced by inflammatory activity, prednisone use, and DMARDs. In contrast, finger JSD showed only a change compared to baseline therapy. Therefore, metacarpal BMD as well as finger JSD represent radiographic destruction under different aspects.
Background Humans spend the bulk of their time in indoor environments. This space is shared with an indoor ecosystem of microorganisms, which are in continuous exchange with the human inhabitants. In the particular case of hospitals, the environmental microorganisms may influence patient recovery and outcome. An understanding of the bacterial community structure in the hospital environment is pivotal for the prevention of hospital-acquired infections and the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes. In this study, we performed a longitudinal metagenetic approach in a newly opened ward at the Charité Hospital (Berlin) to characterize the dynamics of the bacterial colonization process in the hospital environment after first patient occupancy. Results The sequencing data showed a site-specific taxonomic succession, which led to stable community structures after only a few weeks. This data was further supported by network analysis and beta-diversity metrics. Furthermore, the fast colonization process was characterized by a significant increase of the bacterial biomass and its alpha-diversity. The compositional dynamics could be linked to the exchange with the patient microbiota. Over a time course of 30 weeks, we did not detect a rise of pathogenic bacteria in the hospital environment, but a significant increase of antibiotic resistance determinants on the hospital floor. Conclusions The results presented in this study provide new insights into different aspects of the environmental microbiome in the clinical setting, and will help to adopt infection control strategies in hospitals and health care-related buildings. 5mTrZ2ucm6mSpTSBiSbhUMVideo Abstract
Streptococcus pneumoniae two-component regulatory systems (TCSs) are important systems that perceive and respond to various host environmental stimuli. In this study, we have explored the role of TCS09 on gene expression and phenotypic alterations in S. pneumoniae D39. Our comparative transcriptomic analyses identified 67 differently expressed genes in total. Among those, agaR and the aga operon involved in galactose metabolism showed the highest changes. Intriguingly, the encapsulated and nonencapsulated hk09-mutants showed significant growth defects under nutrient-defined conditions, in particular with galactose as a carbon source. Phenotypic analyses revealed alterations in the morphology of the nonencapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants, whereas the encapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants produced higher amounts of capsule. Interestingly, the encapsulated D39∆hk09 showed only the opaque colony morphology, while the D39∆rr09- and D39∆tcs09-mutants had a higher proportion of transparent variants. The phenotypic variations of D39ΔcpsΔhk09 and D39ΔcpsΔtcs09 are in accordance with their higher numbers of outer membrane vesicles, higher sensitivity against Triton X-100 induced autolysis, and lower resistance against oxidative stress. In conclusion, these results indicate the importance of TCS09 for pneumococcal metabolic fitness and resistance against oxidative stress by regulating the carbohydrate metabolism and thereby, most likely indirectly, the cell wall integrity and amount of capsular polysaccharide.
Several studies have recently identified the main factors contributing to the bacterial colonization of newborns and the dynamics of the infant microbiome development. However, most of these studies address large time periods of weeks or months after birth, thereby missing on important aspects of the early microbiome maturation, such as the acquisition of antibiotic resistance determinants during postpartum hospitalization. The pioneer bacterial colonization and the extent of its associated antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) dissemination during this early phase of life are largely unknown. Studies addressing resistant bacteria or ARGs in neonates often focus only on the presence of particular bacteria or genes from a specific group of antibiotics. In the present study, we investigated the gut-, the oral-, and the skin-microbiota of neonates within the first 72 h after birth using 16S rDNA sequencing approaches. In addition, we screened the neonates and their mothers for the presence of 20 different ARGs by directed TaqMan qPCR assays. The taxonomic analysis of the newborn samples revealed an important shift of the microbiota during the first 72 h after birth, showing a clear site-specific colonization pattern in this very early time frame. Moreover, we report a substantial acquisition of ARGs during postpartum hospitalization, with a very high incidence of macrolide resistance determinants and mecA detection across different body sites of the newborns. This study highlights the importance of antibiotic resistance determinant dissemination in neonates during hospitalization, and the need to investigate the implication of the mothers and the hospital environment as potential sources of ARGs.
A dynamic coarse-grained model of microalgal growth considering light availability and temperature under discontinuous bioprocess operation was parameterized using experimental data from 15 batch cultivations of Nannochloropsis granulata in a pilot-scale tubular photobioreactor. The methodology applied consists of a consecutive two-step model parameter estimation using pooled, clustered and reorganized data to obtain initial estimates and multi-experiment fitting to obtain the final estimates, which are: maximum specific growth rate μmax = 1.56 d−1, specific photon half-saturation constant KS,ph = 1.89 molphgX-1d-1, specific photon maintenance coefficient mph = 0.346 molphgX-1d-1 and the cardinal temperatures Tmin = 2.3°C, Topt = 27.93°C and Tmax = 32.59°C. Biomass productivity prediction proved highly accurate, expressed by the mean absolute percent error MAPE = 7.2%. Model-based numerical optimization of biomass productivity for repeated discontinuous operation with respect to the process parameters cultivation cycle time, inoculation biomass concentration and temperature yielded productivity gains of up to 35%. This optimization points to best performance under continuous operation. The approach successfully applied here to small pilot-scale confirms an earlier one to lab-scale, indicating its transferability to larger scale tubular photobioreactors.
The fungal pathogen Candida albicans forms polymorphic biofilms where hyphal morphogenesis and metabolic adaptation are tightly coordinated by a complex intertwined network of transcription factors. The sensing and metabolism of amino acids play important roles during various phases of biofilm development – from adhesion to maturation. Stp2 is a transcription factor that activates the expression of amino acid permease genes and is required for environmental alkalinization and hyphal growth in vitro and during macrophage phagocytosis. While it is well established that Stp2 is activated in response to external amino acids, its role in biofilm formation remains unknown. In addition to widely used techniques, we applied newly developed approaches for automated image analysis to quantify Stp2-regulated filamentation and biofilm growth. Our results show that in the stp2Δ deletion mutant adherence to abiotic surfaces and initial germ tube formation were strongly impaired, but formed mature biofilms with cell density and morphological structures comparable to the control strains. Stp2-dependent nutrient adaptation appeared to play an important role in biofilm development: stp2Δ biofilms formed under continuous nutrient flow displayed an overall reduction in biofilm formation, whereas under steady conditions the mutant strain formed biofilms with lower metabolic activity, resulting in increased cell survival and biofilm longevity. A deletion of STP2 led to increased rapamycin susceptibility and transcriptional activation of GCN4, the transcriptional regulator of the general amino acid control pathway, demonstrating a connection of Stp2 to other nutrient-responsive pathways. In summary, the transcription factor Stp2 is important for C. albicans biofilm formation, where it contributes to adherence and induction of morphogenesis, and mediates nutrient adaption and cell longevity in mature biofilms.
Candida albicans is a major human fungal pathogen and the leading cause of systemic Candida infections. In recent years, Als3 and Ece1 were identified as important factors for fungal virulence. Transcription of both corresponding genes is closely associated with hyphal growth. Here, we describe how Tup1, normally a global repressor of gene expression as well as of filamentation, and the transcription factor Ahr1 contribute to full expression of ALS3 and ECE1 in C. albicans hyphae. Both regulators are required for high mRNA amounts of the two genes to ensure functional relevant protein synthesis and localization. These observations identified a new aspect of regulation in the complex transcriptional control of virulence-associated genes in C. albicans .
IntroductionExisting osteoporosis models in sheep exhibit some disadvantages, e.g., challenging surgical procedures, serious ethical concerns, failure of reliable induction of substantial bone loss, or lack of comparability to the human condition. This study aimed to compare bone morphological and mechanical properties of old and young sheep, and to evaluate the suitability of the old sheep as a model for senile osteopenia.Materials and methodsThe lumbar vertebral body L3 of female merino sheep with two age ranges, i.e., old animals (6–10 years; n = 41) and young animals (2–4 years; n = 40), was analyzed concerning its morphological and mechanical properties by bone densitometry, quantitative histomorphometry, and biomechanical testing of the corticalis and/or central spongious region.ResultsIn comparison with young sheep, old animals showed only marginally diminished bone mineral density of the vertebral bodies, but significantly decreased structural (bone volume, − 15.1%; ventral cortical thickness, − 11.8%; lateral cortical thickness, − 12.2%) and bone formation parameters (osteoid volume, osteoid surface, osteoid thickness, osteoblast surface, all − 100.0%), as well as significantly increased bone erosion (eroded surface, osteoclast surface). This resulted in numerically decreased biomechanical properties (compressive strength; − 6.4%).Conclusion Old sheep may represent a suitable model of senile osteopenia with markedly diminished bone structure and formation, and substantially augmented bone erosion. The underlying physiological aging concept reduces challenging surgical procedures and ethical concerns and, due to complex alteration of different facets of bone turnover, may be well representative of the human condition.
Background Omics data provide deep insights into overall biological processes of organisms. However, integration of data from different molecular levels such as transcriptomics and proteomics, still remains challenging. Analyzing lists of differentially abundant molecules from diverse molecular levels often results in a small overlap mainly due to different regulatory mechanisms, temporal scales, and/or inherent properties of measurement methods. Module-detecting algorithms identifying sets of closely related proteins from protein-protein interaction networks (PPINs) are promising approaches for a better data integration. Results Here, we made use of transcriptome, proteome and secretome data from the human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus challenged with the antifungal drug caspofungin. Caspofungin targets the fungal cell wall which leads to a compensatory stress response. We analyzed the omics data using two different approaches: First, we applied a simple, classical approach by comparing lists of differentially expressed genes (DEGs), differentially synthesized proteins (DSyPs) and differentially secreted proteins (DSePs); second, we used a recently published module-detecting approach, ModuleDiscoverer, to identify regulatory modules from PPINs in conjunction with the experimental data. Our results demonstrate that regulatory modules show a notably higher overlap between the different molecular levels and time points than the classical approach. The additional structural information provided by regulatory modules allows for topological analyses. As a result, we detected a significant association of omics data with distinct biological processes such as regulation of kinase activity, transport mechanisms or amino acid metabolism. We also found a previously unreported increased production of the secondary metabolite fumagillin by A. fumigatus upon exposure to caspofungin. Furthermore, a topology-based analysis of potential key factors contributing to drug-caused side effects identified the highly conserved protein polyubiquitin as a central regulator. Interestingly, polyubiquitin UbiD neither belonged to the groups of DEGs, DSyPs nor DSePs but most likely strongly influenced their levels. Conclusion Module-detecting approaches support the effective integration of multilevel omics data and provide a deep insight into complex biological relationships connecting these levels. They facilitate the identification of potential key players in the organism’s stress response which cannot be detected by commonly used approaches comparing lists of differentially abundant molecules.
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