How does one treat in a seriously injured astronaut in outer space or even another planet? To answer such a question, the US National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) has embarked on a program of growing tissues--and possibly whole organs--in space. NASA has developed a unique rotating bioreactor that allow cells to be grown in a microgravity environment that eliminates almost all shear forces placed upon a cell culture system while entering space. Back on earth, this novel bioreactor has led to exciting discoveries and applications by scientists trying to get cells to differentiate and form their natural three-dimensional tissue matrices--the holy grail of tissue engineers. NASA's bioreactor has allowed various labs to culture cells and even viruses previously impossible to grow using traditional methods. These successes are attributed to the bioreactor's ability to provide an unique environment that closely resembles tissue differentiation during embryogenesis, and thus allowing cellular expression of surface epitopes similar to that of intact tissues. It also appears that cells grown in a microgravity, low-shear environment allows for greater chemical signaling, probably as a result of more surface contact between cells. Realizing the bioreactor's commercial potential, Santa Monica, California-based VivoRx licensed exclusive rights from NASA for both therapeutic and diagnostic commercial applications. VivoRx has, in the past, successfully transplanted encapsulated islet cells from cadavers and porcine pancreas into insulin-dependent diabetics, perhaps a major breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes. However, pancreas from cadavers are in very short supply. The bioreactor may be the answer; VivoRx hopes the bioreactor will allow them to propagate enough human islet cells to use their cell-based approach to treat a large diabetic population. The company has already successfully grown islet cells generated from the bioreactors, and is beginning FDA-approved Phase I/II clinical trials.
ONYX-015 is an adenovirus with the E1B 55-kDa gene deleted, engineered to selectively replicate in and lyse p53-deficient cancer cells while sparing normal cells. Although ONYX-015 and chemotherapy have demonstrated anti-tumoral activity in patients with recurrent head and neck cancer, disease recurs rapidly with either therapy alone. We undertook a phase II trial of a combination of intratumoral ONYX-015 injection with cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil in patients with recurrent squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. There were substantial objective responses, including a high proportion of complete responses. By 6 months, none of the responding tumors had progressed, whereas all non-injected tumors treated with chemotherapy alone had progressed. The toxic effects that occurred were acceptable. Tumor biopsies obtained after treatment showed tumor-selective viral replication and necrosis induction.
The adenovirus mutant dl1520 (ONYX-015) does not express the E1B-55K protein that binds and inactivates p53. This virus replicates in tumor cells with mutant p53, but not in normal cells with functional p53. Although intra-tumoral injection of dl1520 shows promising responses in patients with solid tumors, previous in vitro studies have not established a close correlation between p53 status and dl1520 replication. Here we identify loss of p14ARF as a mechanism that allows dl1520 replication in tumor cells retaining wild-type p53. We demonstrate that the re-introduction of p14ARF into tumor cells with wild-type p53 suppresses replication of dl1520 in a p53-dependent manner. Our study supports the therapeutic use of dl1520 in tumors with lesions within the p53 pathway other than mutation of p53.
Successful tumor immunotherapy with peptides requires the induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) rather than antibodies. Mice immunized with mannan conjugated to MUC1, a peptide found in large amounts in breast cancer, develop CTL responses. In contrast, immunized patients produce high antibodies with poor CTL responses to MUC1. Here, we provide evidence that this "switch" in the immune response is due to the fact that antibodies against the Gal alpha(1,3)Gal epitope, which are normally present in humans but not mice, cross-react with MUC1 peptides. In particular, mice that lack the gene for the epitope (and that produce anti-Gal antibodies) (Gal-/- mice) are like humans in their response to MUC1 immunization in that they develop antibody rather than CTL responses. After we exposed macrophages from Gal-/- mice in vitro to MUC1, in the absence of Gal antibody, and adoptively transferred them into the mice, Gal-/- mice produced a predominantly CTL response. The findings are of relevance for immunotherapy studies in humans and emphasize the differences seen in preclinical testing in rodents before clinical trials.
The treatment of severe pain with opioids has thus far been limited by their unwanted central side effects. Recent research promises new approaches, including opioid analgesics acting outside the central nervous system, targeting of opioid peptide-containing immune cells to peripheral damaged tissue, and gene transfer to enhance opioid production at sites of injury.
Identifying the molecular alterations that underlie the pathophysiology of critical clinical features of schizophrenia is an essential step in the rational development of new therapeutic interventions for this devastating illness. Cognitive deficits, such as the impairments in working memory that arise from dysfunction of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, are a major determinant of functional outcome in schizophrenia. Here we consider the contributions of disturbances in glutamate, dopamine and GABA neurotransmission to the pathophysiology of working memory impairments in schizophrenia, suggest a cascade of molecular events that might link these disturbances, and argue that the molecular alterations most proximal to the pathophysiology of prefrontal dysfunction offer the most promise as targets for new drug development.
Metastasis is a frequent complication of cancer, yet the process through which circulating tumor cells form distant colonies is poorly understood. We have been able to observe the steps in early hematogenous metastasis by epifluorescence microscopy of tumor cells expressing green fluorescent protein in subpleural microvessels in intact, perfused mouse and rat lungs. Metastatic tumor cells attached to the endothelia of pulmonary pre-capillary arterioles and capillaries. Extravasation of tumor cells was rare, and it seemed that the transmigrated cells were cleared quickly by the lung, leaving only the endothelium-attached cells as the seeds of secondary tumors. Early colonies were entirely within the blood vessels. Although most models of metastasis include an extravasation step early in the process, here we show that in the lung, metastasis is initiated by attachment of tumor cells to the vascular endothelium and that hematogenous metastasis originates from the proliferation of attached intravascular tumor cells rather than from extravasated ones. Intravascular metastasis formation would make early colonies especially vulnerable to intravascular drugs, and this possibility has potential for the prevention of tumor cell attachment to the endothelium.
Current understanding of key transcription factors regulating angiogenesis is limited. Here we show that RNA-cleaving phosphodiester-linked DNA-based enzymes (DNAzymes), targeting a specific motif in the 5' untranslated region of early growth response (Egr-1) mRNA, inhibit Egr-1 protein expression, microvascular endothelial cell replication and migration, and microtubule network formation on basement membrane matrices. Egr-1 DNAzymes blocked angiogenesis in subcutaneous Matrigel plugs in mice, an observation that was independently confirmed by plug analysis in Egr-1-deficient animals, and inhibited MCF-7 human breast carcinoma growth in nude mice. Egr-1 DNAzymes suppressed tumor growth without influencing body weight, wound healing, blood coagulation or other hematological parameters. These agents inhibited endothelial expression of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2, a proangiogenic factor downstream of Egr-1, but not that of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Egr-1 DNAzymes also repressed neovascularization of rat cornea. Thus, microvascular endothelial cell growth, neovascularization, tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth are processes that are critically dependent on Egr-1.
Fibrosis is a pathological feature of most chronic inflammatory diseases. Fibrosis, or scarring, is defined by the accumulation of excess extracellular matrix components. If highly progressive, the fibrotic process eventually leads to organ malfunction and death. Fibrosis affects nearly every tissue in the body. Here we discuss how key components of the innate and adaptive immune response contribute to the pathogenesis of fibrosis. We also describe how cell-intrinsic changes in important structural cells can perpetuate the fibrotic response by regulating the differentiation, recruitment, proliferation and activation of extracellular matrix-producing myofibroblasts. Finally, we highlight some of the key mechanisms and pathways of fibrosis that are being targeted as potential therapies for a variety of important human diseases.
Leptin is a circulating hormone that is expressed abundantly and specifically in the adipose tissue. It is involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis, as well as the neuroendocrine and reproductive systems. Here, we demonstrate production of leptin by nonadipose tissue, namely, placental trophoblasts and amnion cells from uteri of pregnant women. We show that pregnant women secrete a considerable amount of leptin from the placenta into the maternal circulation as compared with nonpregnant obese women. Leptin production was also detected in a cultured human choriocarcinoma cell line, BeWo cells, and was augmented during the course of forskolin-induced differentiation of cytotrophoblasts into syncytiotrophoblasts. Plasma leptin levels were markedly elevated in patients with hydatidiform mole or choriocarcinoma and were reduced after surgical treatment or chemotherapy. Leptin is also produced by primary cultured human amnion cells and is secreted into the amniotic fluid. The present study provides evidence for leptin as a novel placenta-derived hormone in humans and suggests the physiologic and pathophysiologic significance of leptin in normal pregnancy and gestational trophoblastic neoplasms.
To identify new components that regulate the inflammatory cascade during sepsis, we characterized the functions of myeloid-related protein-8 (Mrp8, S100A8) and myeloid-related protein-14 (Mrp14, S100A9), two abundant cytoplasmic proteins of phagocytes. We now demonstrate that mice lacking Mrp8-Mrp14 complexes are protected from endotoxin-induced lethal shock and Escherichia coli-induced abdominal sepsis. Both proteins are released during activation of phagocytes, and Mrp8-Mrp14 complexes amplify the endotoxin-triggered inflammatory responses of phagocytes. Mrp8 is the active component that induces intracellular translocation of myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 and activation of interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase-1 and nuclear factor-kappaB, resulting in elevated expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Using phagocytes expressing a nonfunctional Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), HEK293 cells transfected with TLR4, CD14 and MD2, and by surface plasmon resonance studies in vitro, we demonstrate that Mrp8 specifically interacts with the TLR4-MD2 complex, thus representing an endogenous ligand of TLR4. Therefore Mrp8-Mrp14 complexes are new inflammatory components that amplify phagocyte activation during sepsis upstream of TNFalpha-dependent effects.
Arachidonic acid is metabolized to prostaglandin H(2) (PGH(2)) by cyclooxygenase (COX). COX-2, the inducible COX isozyme, has a key role in intestinal polyposis. Among the metabolites of PGH(2), PGE(2) is implicated in tumorigenesis because its level is markedly elevated in tissues of intestinal adenoma and colon cancer. Here we show that homozygous deletion of the gene encoding a cell-surface receptor of PGE(2), EP2, causes decreases in number and size of intestinal polyps in Apc(Delta 716) mice (a mouse model for human familial adenomatous polyposis). This effect is similar to that of COX-2 gene disruption. We also show that COX-2 expression is boosted by PGE(2) through the EP2 receptor via a positive feedback loop. Homozygous gene knockout for other PGE(2) receptors, EP1 or EP3, did not affect intestinal polyp formation in Apc(Delta 716) mice. We conclude that EP2 is the major receptor mediating the PGE2 signal generated by COX-2 upregulation in intestinal polyposis, and that increased cellular cAMP stimulates expression of more COX-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor in the polyp stroma.
It remains unclear how and why autoimmunity occurs. Here we show evidence for a previously unrecognized and possibly general mechanism of autoimmunity. This new finding was discovered serendipitously using material from patients with inflammatory vascular disease caused by antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA) with specificity for proteinase-3 (PR-3). Such patients harbor not only antibodies to the autoantigen (PR-3), but also antibodies to a peptide translated from the antisense DNA strand of PR-3 (complementary PR-3, cPR-3) or to a mimic of this peptide. Immunization of mice with the middle region of cPR-3 resulted in production of antibodies not only to cPR-3, but also to the immunogen's sense peptide counterpart, PR-3. Both human and mouse antibodies to PR-3 and cPR-3 bound to each other, indicating idiotypic relationships. These findings indicate that autoimmunity can be initiated through an immune response against a peptide that is antisense or complementary to the autoantigen, which then induces anti-idiotypic antibodies (autoantibodies) that cross-react with the autoantigen.
The development of colorectal cancer, one of the most frequent cancers, is influenced by prostaglandins and fatty acids. Decreased prostaglandin production, seen in mice with mutations in the cyclooxygenase 2 gene or in animals and humans treated with cyclooxygenase inhibitors, prevents or attenuates colon cancer development. There is also a strong correlation between the intake of fatty acids from animal origin and colon cancer. Therefore, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), a downstream transcriptional mediator for prostaglandins and fatty acids which is highly expressed in the colon may be involved in this process. Activation of PPARgamma by two different synthetic agonists increased the frequency and size of colon tumors in C57BL/6J-APCMin/+ mice, an animal model susceptible to intestinal neoplasia. Tumor frequency was only increased in the colon, and did not change in the small intestine, coinciding with the colon-restricted expression of PPARgamma. Treatment with PPARgamma agonists increased beta-catenin levels both in the colon of C57BL/61-APCMin/+ mice and in HT-29 colon carcinoma cells. Genetic abnormalities in the Wnt/wingless/APC pathway, which enhance the transcriptional activity of the beta-catenin-T-cell factor/lymphoid enhancer factor 1 transcription complex, often underly the development of colon tumors. Our data indicate that PPARgamma activation modifies the development of colon tumors in C57BL/61-APCMin/+ mice.
Interleukin (IL)-13 is a major inducer of fibrosis in many chronic infectious and autoimmune diseases. In studies of the mechanisms underlying such induction, we found that IL-13 induces transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta(1) in macrophages through a two-stage process involving, first, the induction of a receptor formerly considered to function only as a decoy receptor, IL-13Ralpha(2). Such induction requires IL-13 (or IL-4) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. Second, it involves IL-13 signaling through IL-13Ralpha(2) to activate an AP-1 variant containing c-jun and Fra-2, which then activates the TGFB1 promoter. In vivo, we found that prevention of IL-13Ralpha(2) expression reduced production of TGF-beta(1) in oxazolone-induced colitis and that prevention of IL-13Ralpha(2) expression, Il13ra2 gene silencing or blockade of IL-13Ralpha(2) signaling led to marked downregulation of TGF-beta(1) production and collagen deposition in bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. These data suggest that IL-13Ralpha(2) signaling during prolonged inflammation is an important therapeutic target for the prevention of TGF-beta(1)-mediated fibrosis.
The cell-cycle inhibitor p27 is phosphorylated by the Akt kinase in breast cancer, according to three new studies. This phosphorylation keeps p27 in the cytoplasm and correlates with cancer aggressiveness (pages 1136-1144, 1145-1152 and 1153-1160).
In the past decade, it has become possible to use the nuclear (proton, 1H) signal of the hydrogen atoms in water for noninvasive assessment of functional and physiological parameters with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Here we show that it is possible to produce pH-sensitive MRI contrast by exploiting the exchange between the hydrogen atoms of water and the amide hydrogen atoms of endogenous mobile cellular proteins and peptides. Although amide proton concentrations are in the millimolar range, we achieved a detection sensitivity of several percent on the water signal (molar concentration). The pH dependence of the signal was calibrated in situ, using phosphorus spectroscopy to determine pH, and proton exchange spectroscopy to measure the amide proton transfer rate. To show the potential of amide proton transfer (APT) contrast for detecting acute stroke, pH effects were noninvasively imaged in ischemic rat brain. This observation opens the possibility of using intrinsic pH contrast, as well as protein- and/or peptide-content contrast, as diagnostic tools in clinical imaging.
The intracellular signaling mechanisms that specify tissue-specific responses to the interleukin-6 (IL-6) family of cytokines are not well understood. Here, we evaluated the functions of the two major signaling pathways, the signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 and 3 (STAT1/3) and the Src-homology tyrosine phosphatase 2 (SHP2)-Ras-ERK, emanating from the common signal transducer, gp130, in the gastrointestinal tract. Gp130(757F) mice, with a 'knock-in' mutation abrogating SHP2-Ras-ERK signaling, developed gastric adenomas by three months of age. In contrast, mice harboring the reciprocal mutation ablating STAT1/3 signaling (gp130(Delta STAT)), or deficient in IL-6-mediated gp130 signaling (IL-6(-/-) mice), showed impaired colonic mucosal wound healing. These gastrointestinal phenotypes are highly similar to the phenotypes exhibited by mice deficient in trefoil factor 1 (pS2/TFF1) and intestinal trefoil factor (ITF)/TFF3, respectively, and corresponded closely with the capacity of the two pathways to stimulate transcription of the genes encoding pS2/TFF1 and ITF/TFF3. We propose a model whereby mucosal wound healing depends solely on activation of STAT1/3, whereas gastric hyperplasia ensues when the coordinated activation of the STAT1/3 and SHP2-Ras-ERK pathways is disrupted.
Akt kinases control essential cellular functions, including proliferation, apoptosis, metabolism and transcription, and have been proposed as promising targets for treatment of angiogenesis-dependent pathologies, such as cancer and ischemic injury. But their precise roles in neovascularization remain elusive. Here we show that Akt1 is the predominant isoform in vascular cells and describe the unexpected consequences of Akt1 knockout on vascular integrity and pathological angiogenesis. Angiogenic responses in three distinct in vivo models were enhanced in Akt1(-/-) mice; these enhanced responses were associated with impairment of blood vessel maturation and increased vascular permeability. Although impaired vascular maturation in Akt1(-/-) mice may be attributed to reduced activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), the major phenotypic changes in vascular permeability and angiogenesis were linked to reduced expression of two endogenous vascular regulators, thrombospondins 1 (TSP-1) and 2 (TSP-2). Re-expression of TSP-1 and TSP-2 in mice transplanted with wild-type bone marrow corrected the angiogenic abnormalities in Akt1(-/-) mice. These findings establish a crucial role of an Akt-thrombospondin axis in angiogenesis.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding small RNAs that repress protein translation by targeting specific messenger RNAs. miR-15a and miR-16-1 act as putative tumor suppressors by targeting the oncogene BCL2. These miRNAs form a cluster at the chromosomal region 13q14, which is frequently deleted in cancer. Here, we report that the miR-15a and miR-16-1 cluster targets CCND1 (encoding cyclin D1) and WNT3A, which promotes several tumorigenic features such as survival, proliferation and invasion. In cancer cells of advanced prostate tumors, the miR-15a and miR-16 level is significantly decreased, whereas the expression of BCL2, CCND1 and WNT3A is inversely upregulated. Delivery of antagomirs specific for miR-15a and miR-16 to normal mouse prostate results in marked hyperplasia, and knockdown of miR-15a and miR-16 promotes survival, proliferation and invasiveness of untransformed prostate cells, which become tumorigenic in immunodeficient NOD-SCID mice. Conversely, reconstitution of miR-15a and miR-16-1 expression results in growth arrest, apoptosis and marked regression of prostate tumor xenografts. Altogether, we propose that miR-15a and miR-16 act as tumor suppressor genes in prostate cancer through the control of cell survival, proliferation and invasion. These findings have therapeutic implications and may be exploited for future treatment of prostate cancer.