In this issue, La Cunza, Tan, and colleagues identify a biophysical mechanism that could contribute to the poorly understood pathological features of age-related macular degeneration. Using advanced live imaging, mouse models, and human donor tissue, they show that mitochondrial fragmentation in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) leads to liquid-liquid phase separation of apolipoprotein E, a key component of extracellular aggregates called drusen, which are clinical hallmarks of the disease. The cover image shows 3D reconstructions of mitochondrial networks in the mouse RPE. Warmer colors indicate healthy, integrated mitochondria, whereas cooler colors indicate discrete, fragmented mitochondria. Image credit: Li Xuan Tan.
Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA) is a rare but serious disease with poorly understood mechanisms. Here we report that patients with EGPA have elevated levels of TSLP, IL-25, and sST2, well characterized cytokine “alarmins” that activate or modulate type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s). Patients with active EGPA have a concurrent reduction in circulating ILC2s, suggesting a role for ILC2s in the pathogenesis of this disease. To explore the mechanism of these findings in patients, we established a model of EGPA in which active vasculitis and pulmonary hemorrhage are induced by IL-33 administration in predisposed, hypereosinophilic mice. In this model, induction of pulmonary hemorrhage and vasculitis is dependent on ILC2s and signaling through IL4Ra. In the absence of IL4Ra or STAT6, IL-33-treated mice have less vascular leak and pulmonary edema, less endothelial activation, and reduced eotaxin production, cumulatively leading to a reduction of pathologic eosinophil migration into the lung parenchyma. These results offer a mouse model for use in future mechanistic studies of EGPA, and suggest that IL-33, ILC2s and IL4Ra signaling may be potential targets for further study and therapeutic targeting in patients with EGPA.
Maya E. Kotas, Jérémie Dion, Steven Van Dyken, Roberto R. Ricardo-Gonzalez, Claire J. Danel, Camille Taillé, Luc Mouthon, Richard M. Locksley, Benjamin Terrier
NK cells are innate immune cells implicated in ALS; whether NK cells impact ALS in a sex- and age-specific manner was investigated. In mice, NK cells were depleted in male and female SOD1G93A ALS mice, survival and neuroinflammation were assessed, and data were stratified by sex. NK cell depletion extended survival in female but not male ALS mice with sex-specific effects on spinal cord microglia. In humans, NK cell numbers, NK cell subpopulations, and NK cell surface markers were examined in prospectively collected blood from ALS and control subjects; longitudinal changes in these metrics were correlated to Revised ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R) slope and stratified by sex and age. Expression of NK cell trafficking and cytotoxicity markers were elevated in ALS subjects, and changes in CXCR3+ NK cells and seven trafficking and cytotoxicity markers (CD11a, CD11b, CD38, CX3CR1, NKG2D, NKp30, NKp46) correlated with disease progression. Age impacted the associations between ALSFRS-R and markers NKG2D and NKp46, while sex impacted the NKp30 association. Collectively, these findings suggest that NK cells contribute to ALS progression in a sex- and age-specific manner and demonstrate that age and sex are critical variables when designing and assessing ALS immunotherapy.
Benjamin J. Murdock, Joshua P. Famie, Caroline E. Piecuch, Kristen D. Raue, Faye E. Mendelson, Cole H. Pieroni, Sebastian D. Iniguez, Lili Zhao, Stephen A. Goutman, Eva L. Feldman
BACKGROUND. Whether airspace biomarkers add value to plasma biomarkers in studying ARDS is not well understood. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are an investigational therapy for ARDS, and airspace biomarkers may provide mechanistic evidence for MSCs' impact in patients with ARDS. METHODS. We carried out a nested cohort study within a phase 2a safety trial of treatment with allogeneic MSCs for moderate to severe ARDS. Non-bronchoscopic bronchoalveolar lavage and plasma samples were collected 48 hours after study drug infusion. Airspace and plasma biomarker concentrations were compared between the MSC (n = 17) and placebo (n = 10) treatment arms, and correlation between the two compartments was tested. Airspace biomarkers were also tested for associations with clinical and radiographic outcomes. RESULTS. Compared to placebo, MSC treatment significantly reduced airspace total protein, angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor-1 concentrations. Plasma biomarkers did not differ between groups. Each 10-fold increase in airspace Ang-2 was independently associated with 6.7 fewer days alive and free of mechanical ventilation (95% CI -12.3 to -1.0, p = 0.023), and each 10-fold increase in airspace receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) was independently associated with a 6.6 point increase in day 3 radiographic assessment of lung edema score (95% CI 2.4 to 10.7, p = 0.004). CONCLUSIONS. MSCs reduced biological evidence of lung injury in patients with ARDS. Biomarkers from the airspaces provide additional value for studying pathogenesis, treatment effects, and outcomes in ARDS. TRIAL REGISTRATION. NCT02097641 FUNDING. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Katherine D. Wick, Aleksandra Leligdowicz, Hanjing Zhuo, Lorraine B. Ware, Michael A. Matthay
BACKGROUND. Assessment of risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) after acute kidney injury (AKI) is based on a limited set of markers primarily reflecting glomerular function. We evaluated markers of cell integrity (EGF) and inflammation (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 [MCP-1]) for predicting long-term kidney outcomes after cardiac surgery. METHODS. We measured the urinary biomarkers EGF and MCP-1 in pre- and post-operative urine samples from 865 adult patients who underwent cardiac surgery from 2007–2010 at 2 sites in Canada and the United States and assessed their associations with the composite outcome of CKD incidence or progression. We also used single-cell (Sc) RNAseq of biopsies from patients with AKI to perform a transcriptomic analysis of programs that are coregulated with the genes encoding the 2 biomarkers. RESULTS. Over a median (IQR) follow-up of 5.8 (4.2-7.1) years, 266 (30.8%) patients developed the composite CKD outcome. Post-operatively, higher levels of urinary EGF were protective and higher levels of MCP-1 were associated with the composite CKD outcome (adjusted HR 0.83, 95% CI 0.73-0.95 and 1.10, 95% CI 1.00-1.21, respectively). Intrarenal scRNAseq transcriptomes in patients with AKI-defined cell populations revealed concordant changes in EGF and MCP-1 levels and identified underlying molecular processes associated with loss of EGF expression and gain of CCL2 (encoding MCP-1) expression. CONCLUSION. Urinary EGF and MCP-1 were each independently associated with CKD incidence or progression after cardiac surgery. These markers may serve as noninvasive indicators of tubular damage, supported by tissue transcriptomes and provide opportunity for novel interventions in cardiac surgery. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00774137 FUNDING. NIH (R01HL085757 to CRP) funded the TRIBE-AKI Consortium.
Steven Menez, Wenjun Ju, Rajasree Menon, Dennis G. Moledina, Heather Thiessen Philbrook, Eric McArthur, Yaqi Jia, Wassim Obeid, Sherry G. Mansour, Jay K. Koyner, Michael G. Shlipak, Steven G. Coca, Amit X. Garg, John A. Kellum, Andrew S Bomback, Matthias Kretzler, Chirag R. Parikh
Right ventricular (RV) fibrosis is a key feature of maladaptive RV hypertrophy and dysfunction and is associated with poor outcomes in pulmonary hypertension (PH). However, mechanisms and therapeutic strategies to mitigate RV fibrosis remain unrealized. Previously, we identified that cardiac fibroblast α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) drives smoking induced RV fibrosis. Here we sought to define the role of α7 nAChR in RV dysfunction and fibrosis in the settings of RV pressure overload as seen in PH. We show that RV tissue from PH patients has increased collagen content and ACh expression. Using experimental rat model of PH, we demonstrate that RV fibrosis and dysfunction are associated with increases in ACh and α7 nAChR expression in the RV but not in the LV. In vitro studies show that α7 nAChR activation leads to an increase in adult ventricular fibroblast proliferation and collagen content mediated by a Ca2+/ epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling mechanism. Pharmacological antagonism of nAChR decreases RV collagen content and improves RV function in the PH model. Further, mice lacking α7 nAChR exhibit improved RV diastolic function and have lower RV collagen content in response to persistently increased RV afterload, compared to wild-type controls. These finding indicate that enhanced α7 nAChR signaling is an important mechanism underlying RV fibrosis and dysfunction, and targeted inhibition of α7 nAChR is a novel therapeutic strategy in the setting of increased RV afterload.
Alexander Vang, Denielli da Silva Gonçalves Bos, Ana Fernandez-Nicolas, Peng Zhang, Alan R. Morrison, Thomas J. Mancini, Richard T. Clements, Iuliia Polina, Michael W. Cypress, Bong Sook Jhun, Edward Hawrot, Ulrike Mende, Jin O-Uchi, Gaurav Choudhary
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.