STAT6-Dependent Collagen Synthesis in Human Fibroblasts Is Induced by Bovine Milk
- Since the domestication of the urus, 10.000 years ago, mankind utilizes bovine milk for different purposes. Besides usage as a nutrient also the external application of milk on skin has a long tradition going back to at least the ancient Aegypt with Cleopatra VII as a great exponent. In order to test whether milk has impact on skin physiology, cultures of human skin fibroblasts were exposed to commercial bovine milk. Our data show significant induction of proliferation by milk (max. 2,3-fold, EC50: 2,5% milk) without toxic effects. Surprisingly, bovine milk was identified as strong inducer of collagen 1A1 synthesis at both, the protein (4-fold, EC50: 0,09% milk) and promoter level. Regarding the underlying molecular pathways, we show functional activation of STAT6 in a p44/42 and p38-dependent manner. More upstream, we identified IGF-1 and insulin as key factors responsible for milk-induced collagen synthesis. These findings show that bovine milk contains bioactive molecules that act on human skin cells. Therefore, it is tempting to test the herein introduced concept in treatment of atrophic skin conditions induced e.g. by UV light or corticosteroids.
Inhibition of Thrombopoietin/Mpl Signaling in Adult Hematopoiesis Identifies New Candidates for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Maintenance
Daniel C. Breuer
Martijn H. Brugman
- Thrombopoietin (Thpo) signals via its receptor Mpl and regulates megakaryopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) maintenance and post-transplant expansion. Mpl expression is tightly controlled and deregulation of Thpo/Mpl-signaling is linked to hematological disorders. Here, we constructed an intracellular-truncated, signaling-deficient Mpl protein which is presented on the cell surface (dnMpl). The transplantation of bone marrow cells retrovirally transduced to express dnMpl into wildtype mice induced thrombocytopenia, and a progressive loss of HSC. The aplastic BM allowed the engraftment of a second BM transplant without further conditioning. Functional analysis of the truncated Mpl in vitro and in vivo demonstrated no internalization after Thpo binding and the inhibition of Thpo/Mpl-signaling in wildtype cells due to dominant-negative (dn) effects by receptor competition with wildtype Mpl for Thpo binding. Intracellular inhibition of Mpl could be excluded as the major mechanism by the use of a constitutive-dimerized dnMpl. To further elucidate the molecular changes induced by Thpo/Mpl-inhibition on the HSC-enriched cell population in the BM, we performed gene expression analysis of Lin-Sca1+cKit+ (LSK) cells isolated from mice transplanted with dnMpl transduced BM cells. The gene expression profile supported the exhaustion of HSC due to increased cell cycle progression and identified new and known downstream effectors of Thpo/Mpl-signaling in HSC (namely TIE2, ESAM1 and EPCR detected on the HSC-enriched LSK cell population). We further compared gene expression profiles in LSK cells of dnMpl mice with human CD34+ cells of aplastic anemia patients and identified similar deregulations of important stemness genes in both cell populations. In summary, we established a novel way of Thpo/Mpl inhibition in the adult mouse and performed in depth analysis of the phenotype including gene expression profiling.
Inverted Perceptual Judgment of Nociceptive Stimuli at Threshold Level following Inconsistent Cues
Michael J. Parnham
Bruno G. Oertel
The perception of pain is susceptible to modulation by psychological and contextual factors. It has been shown that subjects judge noxious stimuli as more painful in a respective suggestive context, which disappears when the modifying context is resolved. However, a context in which subjects judge the painfulness of a nociceptive stimulus in exactly the opposite direction to that of the cues has never been shown so far.
Nociceptive stimuli (300 ms intranasal gaseous CO2) at the individual pain threshold level were applied after a visual cue announcing the stimulus as either “no pain”, merely a “stimulus”, or “pain”. Among the stimuli at threshold level, other CO2 stimuli that were clearly below or above pain threshold were randomly interspersed. These were announced beforehand in 12 subjects randomly with correct or incorrect cues, i.e., clearly painful or clearly non-painful stimuli were announced equally often as not painful or painful. By contrast, in a subsequent group of another 12 subjects, the stimuli were always announced correctly with respect to the evoked pain.
The random and often incorrect announcement of stimuli clearly below or above pain threshold caused the subjects to rate the stimuli at pain-threshold level in the opposite direction of the cue, i.e., when the stimuli were announced as “pain” significantly more often than as non-painful and vice versa (p < 10-4). By contrast, in the absence of incongruence between announcement and perception of the far-from-threshold stimuli, stimuli at pain threshold were rated in the cued direction.
The present study revealed the induction of associations incongruent with a given message in the perception of pain. We created a context of unreliable cues whereby subjects perceived the stimulus opposite to that suggested by a prior cue, i.e., potentially nociceptive stimuli at pain threshold level that were announced as painful were judged as non-painful and vice versa. These findings are consistent with reported data on the effects of distrust on non-painful cognitive responses.
Dynamics of the Glycophorin A Dimer in Membranes of Native-Like Composition Uncovered by Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations
- Membranes are central for cells as borders to the environment or intracellular organelle definition. They are composed of and harbor different molecules like various lipid species and sterols, and they are generally crowded with proteins. The membrane system is very dynamic and components show lateral, rotational and translational diffusion. The consequence of the latter is that phase separation can occur in membranes in vivo and in vitro. It was documented that molecular dynamics simulations of an idealized plasma membrane model result in formation of membrane areas where either saturated lipids and cholesterol (liquid-ordered character, Lo) or unsaturated lipids (liquid-disordered character, Ld) were enriched. Furthermore, current discussions favor the idea that proteins are sorted into the liquid-disordered phase of model membranes, but experimental support for the behavior of isolated proteins in native membranes is sparse. To gain insight into the protein behavior we built a model of the red blood cell membrane with integrated glycophorin A dimer. The sorting and the dynamics of the dimer were subsequently explored by coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. In addition, we inspected the impact of lipid head groups and the presence of cholesterol within the membrane on the dynamics of the dimer within the membrane. We observed that cholesterol is important for the formation of membrane areas with Lo and Ld character. Moreover, it is an important factor for the reproduction of the dynamic behavior of the protein found in its native environment. The protein dimer was exclusively sorted into the domain of Ld character in the model red blood cell plasma membrane. Therefore, we present structural information on the glycophorin A dimer distribution in the plasma membrane in the absence of other factors like e.g. lipid anchors in a coarse grain resolution.
Host Jumps and Radiation, Not Co‐Divergence Drives Diversification of Obligate Pathogens. A Case Study in Downy Mildews and Asteraceae
- Even though the microevolution of plant hosts and pathogens has been intensely studied, knowledge regarding macro-evolutionary patterns is limited. Having the highest species diversity and host-specificity among Oomycetes, downy mildews are a useful a model for investigating long-term host-pathogen coevolution. We show that phylogenies of Bremia and Asteraceae are significantly congruent. The accepted hypothesis is that pathogens have diverged contemporarily with their hosts. But maximum clade age estimation and sequence divergence comparison reveal that congruence is not due to long-term coevolution but rather due to host-shift driven speciation (pseudo-cospeciation). This pattern results from parasite radiation in related hosts, long after radiation and speciation of the hosts. As large host shifts free pathogens from hosts with effector triggered immunity subsequent radiation and diversification in related hosts with similar innate immunity may follow, resulting in a pattern mimicking true co-divergence, which is probably limited to the terminal nodes in many pathogen groups.
Translation Elongation Factor Tuf of Acinetobacter baumannii Is a Plasminogen-Binding Protein
Peter F. Zipfel
- Acinetobacter baumannii is an important nosocomial pathogen, causing a variety of opportunistic infections of the skin, soft tissues and wounds, urinary tract infections, secondary meningitis, pneumonia and bacteremia. Over 63% of A. baumannii infections occurring in the United States are caused by multidrug resistant isolates, and pan-resistant isolates have begun to emerge that are resistant to all clinically relevant antibiotics. The complement system represents the first line of defense against invading pathogens. However, many A. baumannii isolates, especially those causing severe bacteremia are resistant to complement-mediated killing, though the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we show for the first time that A. baumannii binds host-derived plasminogen and we identify the translation elongation factor Tuf as a moonlighting plasminogen-binding protein that is exposed on the outer surface of A. baumannii. Binding of plasminogen to Tuf is at least partly dependent on lysine residues and ionic interactions. Plasminogen, once bound to Tuf can be converted to active plasmin and proteolytically degrade fibrinogen as well as the key complement component C3b. Thus, Tuf acts as a multifunctional protein that may contribute to virulence of A. baumannii by aiding in dissemination and evasion of the complement system.
Benefit of Treatment Individualization in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Receiving Peginterferon Alfa-2a and Ribavirin in a Large Noninterventional Cohort Study
Wolf Peter Hofmann
Michael P. Manns
- Background and Aims: Individualization of treatment with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin in patients with chronic hepatitis C showed benefit in controlled trials and was implemented in treatment guidelines to increase response rates and to reduce side effects and costs. However, it is unknown whether individualization was adopted in routine daily practice and whether it translated into improved outcomes.
Methods: From a large noninterventional cohort study, clinical and virologic response data of 10,262 HCV patients who received peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin between 2003-2007 and 2008-2011 were analyzed. To account for treatment individualization, a matched-pair analysis (2,997 matched pairs) was performed. Variation in treatment duration and dosing of ribavirin were analyzed as indicators for individualization.
Results: Sustained virological response (SVR) rates were similar between 2003-2007 and 2008-2011 (62.0% vs. 63.7%). Patients with comorbidities were more abundant in the later period, (44.3% vs. 57.1%). The subsequent matched-pair analysis demonstrated higher SVR rates in the 2008-2011 period (64.3%) than in the 2003-2007 period (61.2%, p=0.008). More patients received abbreviated or extended treatment regimens in the later than the earlier period as an indicator of treatment individualization. To the same end, ribavirin doses were higher in the later period (12.6 versus 11.6 mg/kg/day). Factors independently associated with SVR included HCV genotype, low baseline viral load, younger age, route of infection, absence of concomitant diseases, lower APRI score, normal gamma-GT, higher ribavirin doses, no substitution for drug abuse, treatment duration, and treatment in the 2008-2011 period.
Conclusions: Treatment individualization with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin was implemented in daily routine between 2003-2007 and 2008-2011, SVR rates improved in the same period. These findings may be most relevant in resource-limited settings.
Individual Organ Failure and Concomitant Risk of Mortality Differs According to the Type of Admission to ICU – A Retrospective Study of SOFA Score of 23,795 Patients
Tobias M. Bingold
Organ dysfunction or failure after the first days of ICU treatment and subsequent mortality with respect to the type of intensive care unit (ICU) admission is poorly elucidated. Therefore we analyzed the association of ICU mortality and admission for medical (M), scheduled surgery (ScS) or unscheduled surgery (US) patients mirrored by the occurrence of organ dysfunction/failure (OD/OF) after the first 72h of ICU stay.
For this retrospective cohort study (23,795 patients; DIVI registry; German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care Medicine (DIVI)) organ dysfunction or failure were derived from the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score (excluding the Glasgow Coma Scale). SOFA scores were collected on admission to ICU and 72h later. For patients with a length of stay of at least five days, a multivariate analysis was performed for individual OD/OF on day three.
M patients had the lowest prevalence of cardiovascular failure (M 31%; ScS 35%; US 38%), and the highest prevalence of respiratory (M 24%; ScS 13%; US 17%) and renal failure (M 10%; ScS 6%; US 7%). Risk of death was highest for M- and ScS-patients in those with respiratory failure (OR; M 2.4; ScS 2.4; US 1.4) and for surgical patients with renal failure (OR; M 1.7; ScS 2.7; US 2.4).
The dynamic evolution of OD/OF within 72h after ICU admission and mortality differed between patients depending on their types of admission. This has to be considered to exclude a systematic bias during multi-center trials.
Simultaneous and dose dependent melanoma cytotoxic and immune stimulatory activity of betulin
Josef M. Pfeilschifter
Heinfried H. Radeke
- Conventional cytostatic cancer treatments rarely result in the complete eradication of tumor cells. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies focus on antagonizing the immunosuppressive activity of established tumors. In particular, recent studies of antigen-loaded dendritic cells (DCs) eliciting a specific antitumor immune response has raised the hopes of achieving the complete elimination of tumor tissue. Genistein, fingolimod and betulin have already been described as active compounds in different types of cancer. Herein, we applied an integrated screening approach to characterize both their cytostatic and their immune-modulating properties side-by-side. As will be described in detail, our data confirmed that all three compounds exerted proapoptotic and antiproliferative activity in different B16 melanoma cell lines to a given extent, as revealed by an MTT assay, CFSE and DAPI staining. However, while genistein and fingolimod also affected the survival of primary bone marrow (BM) derived DCs of C57BL/6 mice, betulin exhibited a lower cytotoxicity for BMDCs in comparison to the melanoma cells. Moreover, we could show for the first time, that only betulin caused a simultaneous, highly specific immune-stimulating activity, as measured by the IL-12p70 release of Toll-like receptor 4-stimulated BMDCs by ELISA, which was due to increased IL-12p35 mRNA expression. Interestingly, the activation of DCs resulted in enhanced T lymphocyte stimulation, indicated by increased IL-2 and IFN-γ production of cytotoxic T cells in spleen cell co-culture assays which led to a decreased viability of B16 cells in an antigen specific model system. This may overcome the immunosuppressive environment of a tumor and destroy tumor cells more effectively in vivo if the immune response is specific targeted against the tumor tissue by antigen-loaded dendritic cells. In summary, cytostatic agents, such as betulin, that simultaneously exhibit immune stimulatory activity may serve as lead compounds and hold great promise as a novel approach for an integrated cancer therapy.
Charge reduction and thermodynamic stabilization of substrate RNAs inhibit RNA editing
H. Ulrich Göringer
Andreas J. Reuss
- African trypanosomes cause a parasitic disease known as sleeping sickness. Mitochondrial transcript maturation in these organisms requires a RNA editing reaction that is characterized by the insertion and deletion of U-nucleotides into otherwise non-functional mRNAs. Editing represents an ideal target for a parasite-specific therapeutic intervention since the reaction cycle is absent in the infected host. In addition, editing relies on a macromolecular protein complex, the editosome, that only exists in the parasite. Therefore, all attempts to search for editing interfering compounds have been focused on molecules that bind to proteins of the editing machinery. However, in analogy to other RNA-driven biochemical pathways it should be possible to stall the reaction by targeting its substrate RNAs. Here we demonstrate inhibition of editing by specific aminoglycosides. The molecules bind into the major groove of the gRNA/pre-mRNA editing substrates thereby causing a stabilization of the RNA molecules through charge compensation and an increase in stacking. The data shed light on mechanistic details of the editing process and identify critical parameters for the development of new trypanocidal compounds.