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    ABSTRACT: In this review article we examine the role of inflammation-related genes in osteoarthritis (OA) from the perspective of genetics, epigenetics and gene expression. There have been great strides in such genomic analyses of OA in recent years thanks to the study of adequately powered patient cohorts, the detailed analysis of candidate genes, and the application of genome-wide approaches. These have led to some unexpected and therefore exciting discoveries, implicating pathways that would not necessarily have been predicted to have a role in this common arthritis. Inflammatory-related genes sit firmly in the candidate camp based on prior observations that the OA disease process can have an inflammatory component. What is clear from the genetic studies published to date is that there is no compelling evidence that DNA variation in inflammatory genes is an OA risk factor. This conclusion may of course change as ever more powerful association studies are conducted. There is, however, compelling evidence that epigenetic effects involving inflammatory genes are a component of OA and that alteration in the expression of these genes is also highly relevant to the disease process. We may in fact be close to demonstrating, at the genomic level, a clear separation of OA patients into those in whom inflammation is a key driver of the disease and those in whom it is not. This has obvious implications for the design of trials of novel OA interventions and may also guide the intelligent re-purposing of anti-inflammatory therapies.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
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    ABSTRACT: The uterus and heart share the important physiological feature whereby contractile activation of the muscle tissue is regulated by the generation of periodic, spontaneous electrical action potentials (APs). Preterm birth arising from premature uterine contractions is a major complication of pregnancy and there remains a need to pursue avenues of research that facilitate the use of drugs, tocolytics, to limit these inappropriate contractions without deleterious actions on cardiac electrical excitation. A novel approach is to make use of mathematical models of uterine and cardiac APs, which incorporate many ionic currents contributing to the AP forms, and test the cell-specific responses to interventions. We have used three such models-of uterine smooth muscle cells (USMC), cardiac sinoatrial node cells (SAN), and ventricular cells-to investigate the relative effects of reducing two important voltage-gated Ca currents-the L-type (ICaL) and T-type (ICaT) Ca currents. Reduction of ICaL (10%) alone, or ICaT (40%) alone, blunted USMC APs with little effect on ventricular APs and only mild effects on SAN activity. Larger reductions in either current further attenuated the USMC APs but with also greater effects on SAN APs. Encouragingly, a combination of ICaL and ICaT reduction did blunt USMC APs as intended with little detriment to APs of either cardiac cell type. Subsequent overlapping maps of ICaL and ICaT inhibition profiles from each model revealed a range of combined reductions of ICaL and ICaT over which an appreciable diminution of USMC APs could be achieved with no deleterious action on cardiac SAN or ventricular APs. This novel approach illustrates the potential for computational biology to inform us of possible uterine and cardiac cell-specific mechanisms. Incorporating such computational approaches in future studies directed at designing new, or repurposing existing, tocolytics will be beneficial for establishing a desired uterine specificity of action.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Frontiers in Physiology
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    ABSTRACT: Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune cholestatic liver disease characterised by a breakdown of immune tolerance to mitochondrial and nuclear antigens, causing injury to the biliary epithelial cells (BEC) lining the small intrahepatic bile ducts. This leads to bile duct injury and the retention of hydrophobic bile acids which cause further BEC injury leading to a self-sustaining cycle of bile duct injury. Initially the BEC respond to injury via a homeostatic response including through proliferation. Ultimately they become senescent; an active process with accompanying release of inflammatory cytokines ('the senescent secretome') which contributes to the process of interface hepatitis which is a feature of high-risk and treatment-unresponsive disease. This model for pathogenesis of PBC has implications for potential therapy approaches in targeting both the 'upstream' immune injury and 'downstream' BEC response to the immune injury. Fatigue is the commonest reported symptom in PBC and has a negative impact on patients' perceived quality of life, often through social isolation. It is unrelated to the severity of liver disease and appears unresponsive to current therapies, including ursodeoxycholic acid and transplantation. Fatigue in PBC is complex, with numerous associated peripheral and CNS features. Initially, cholestasis causes degenerative CNS change affecting areas of the brain regulating autonomic dysfunction and sleep, and these changes lead directly to some manifestations of fatigue and the associated cognitive impairment. In addition to this, the anti-mitochondrial antibody has direct muscle level metabolic effects leading to over-utilisation of anaerobic metabolism. Autonomic dysfunction contributes to the impact of this metabolic change by limiting the capacity of the muscle to respond through increased proton/lactate efflux from cells and outflow from tissues. The model has a number of implications for potential therapy approaches.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Digestive Diseases
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