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    ABSTRACT: Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is an inflammatory disorder caused by mutations in any of six genes (TREX1, RNASEH2A, RNASEH2B, RNASEH2C, SAMHD1, and ADAR). The disease is severe and effective treatments are urgently needed. We investigated the status of interferon-related biomarkers in patients with AGS with a view to future use in diagnosis and clinical trials. In this case-control study, samples were collected prospectively from patients with mutation-proven AGS. The expression of six interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) was measured by quantitative PCR, and the median fold change, when compared with the median of healthy controls, was used to create an interferon score for each patient. Scores higher than the mean of controls plus two SD (>2·466) were designated as positive. Additionally, we collated historical data for interferon activity, measured with a viral cytopathic assay, in CSF and serum from mutation-positive patients with AGS. We also undertook neutralisation assays of interferon activity in serum, and looked for the presence of autoantibodies against a panel of interferon proteins. 74 (90%) of 82 patients had a positive interferon score (median 12·90, IQR 6·14-20·41) compared with two (7%) of 29 controls (median 0·93, IQR 0·57-1·30). Of the eight patients with a negative interferon score, seven had mutations in RNASEH2B (seven [27%] of all 26 patients with mutations in this gene). Repeat sampling in 16 patients was consistent for the presence or absence of an interferon signature on 39 of 41 occasions. Interferon activity (tested in 147 patients) was negatively correlated with age (CSF, r=-0·604; serum, r=-0·289), and was higher in CSF than in serum in 104 of 136 paired samples. Neutralisation assays suggested that measurable antiviral activity was related to interferon α production. We did not record significantly increased concentrations of autoantibodies to interferon subtypes in patients with AGS, or an association between the presence of autoantibodies and interferon score or serum interferon activity. AGS is consistently associated with an interferon signature, which is apparently sustained over time and can thus be used to differentiate patients with AGS from controls. If future studies show that interferon status is a reactive biomarker, the measurement of an interferon score might prove useful in the assessment of treatment efficacy in clinical trials. European Union's Seventh Framework Programme; European Research Council.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · The Lancet Neurology
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    ABSTRACT: Non-myeloablative allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is rarely achievable clinically, except where donor cells have selective advantages. Murine non-myeloablative conditioning regimens have limited clinical success, partly through use of clinically unachievable cell doses or strain combinations permitting allograft acceptance using immunosuppression alone. We found that reducing busulfan conditioning in murine syngeneic HSCT, increases bone marrow (BM):blood SDF-1 ratio and total donor cells homing to BM, but reduces the proportion of donor cells engrafting. Despite this, syngeneic engraftment is achievable with non-myeloablative busulfan (25 mg/kg) and higher cell doses induce increased chimerism. Therefore we investigated regimens promoting initial donor cell engraftment in the major histocompatibility complex barrier mismatched CBA to C57BL/6 allo-transplant model. This requires full myeloablation and immunosuppression with non-depleting anti-CD4/CD8 blocking antibodies to achieve engraftment of low cell doses, and rejects with reduced intensity conditioning (≤75 mg/kg busulfan). We compared increased antibody treatment, G-CSF, niche disruption and high cell dose, using reduced intensity busulfan and CD4/8 blockade in this model. Most treatments increased initial donor engraftment, but only addition of co-stimulatory blockade permitted long-term engraftment with reduced intensity or non-myeloablative conditioning, suggesting that signal 1 and 2 T-cell blockade is more important than early BM niche engraftment for transplant success.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic testing is of increasing clinical utility for diagnosing inherited eye disease. Clarifying a clinical diagnosis is important for accurate estimation of prognosis, facilitating genetic counselling and management of families, and in the future will direct gene-specific therapeutic strategies. Often, precise diagnosis of genetic ophthalmic conditions is complicated by genetic heterogeneity, a difficulty that the so-called 'next generation sequencing' (NGS) technologies promise to overcome. Despite considerable counselling and ethical complexities, NGS offers to revolutionize clinical practice. This will necessitate considerable adjustment to standard practice but has the power to deliver a personalized approach to genomic medicine for many more patients and enhance the potential for preventing vision loss.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
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