Publications by authors named "Joe G N Garcia"

390 Publications

Endothelial Upregulation of Mechanosensitive Channel Piezo1 in Pulmonary Hypertension.

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2021 Oct 20. Epub 2021 Oct 20.

Section of Physiology, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States.

Piezo is a mechanosensitive cation channel responsible for stretch-mediated Ca and Na influx in multiple types of cells. Little is known about the functional role of Piezo1 in the lung vasculature and its potential pathogenic role in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Pulmonary arterial endothelial cells (PAECs) are constantly under mechanic stretch and shear stress that are sufficient to activate Piezo channels. Here we report that Piezo1 is significantly upregulated in PAECs from patients with idiopathic PAH and animals with experimental pulmonary hypertension (PH) compared to normal controls. Membrane stretch by decreasing extracellular osmotic pressure or by cyclic stretch (18% CS) increases Ca-dependent phosphorylation (p) of AKT and ERK, and subsequently upregulates expression of Notch ligands, Jagged1/2 (Jag1 and Jag-2), and Delta like-4 (DLL4) in PAECs. siRNA-mediated downregulation of Piezo1 significantly inhibited the stretch-mediated pAKT increase and Jag-1 upregulation, while downregulation of AKT by siRNA markedly attenuated the stretch-mediated Jag1 upregulation in human PAECs. Furthermore, the mRNA and protein expression level of Piezo1 in the isolated pulmonary artery, which mainly contains pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs), from animals with severe PH was also significantly higher than that from control animals. Taken together, our study suggests that membrane stretch-mediated Ca influx through Piezo1 is an important trigger for pAKT-mediated upregulation of Jag-1 in PAECs. Upregulation of the mechanosensitive channel Piezo1 and the resultant increase in the Notch ligands (Jag-1/2 and DLL4) in PAECs may play a critical pathogenic role in the development of pulmonary vascular remodeling in PAH and PH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00147.2021DOI Listing
October 2021

The Right Ventricular-Pulmonary Arterial Coupling and Diastolic Function Response to Therapy in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.

Chest 2021 Oct 9. Epub 2021 Oct 9.

Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep, and Allergy Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Electronic address:

Background: Multiparametric risk assessment is used in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) to target therapy. However, this strategy is imperfect as most patients remain in intermediate or high risk after initial treatment with low risk being the goal. Metrics of right ventricular (RV) adaptation are promising tools that may help refine our therapeutic strategy.

Research Question: Does RV adaptation predict therapeutic response over time?

Study Design And Methods: We evaluated 52 incident treatment naïve patients with advanced PAH by catheterization and cardiac imaging longitudinally at baseline, follow-up 1 (∼3 mo.) and follow-up 2 (∼18 mo.). All patients were placed on goal-directed therapy with parenteral treprostinil and/or combination therapy with treatment escalation if functional class I-II was not achieved. Therapeutic response was evaluated at follow-up 1 as non-responders (died) or responders and again at follow-up 2 as super-responders (low risk) or partial-responders (high/intermediate risk). Multiparametric risk was based on a simplified ERS/ESC guideline score. RV adaptation was evaluated with the single-beat coupling ratio (Ees/Ea) and diastolic function with diastolic elastance (Eed). Data are expressed as mean±SD or odds ratio [95%CI].

Results: Nine patients (17%) were non-responders. PAH-directed therapy improved ERS low risk from 1 (2%) at baseline to 23 (55%) at follow-up 2. Ees/Ea at presentation was non-significantly higher in responders (0.9±0.4) versus non-responders (0.6±0.4, p=0.09) but was unable to predict super-responder status at follow-up 2 (odds ratio 1.40 [0.28-7.0], p=0.84). Baseline RVEF and change in Eed successfully predicted super-responder status at follow-up 2 (odds ratio 1.15 [1.0-1.27], p=0.009 and 0.29 [0.86-0.96], p=0.04, respectively).

Interpretation: In patients with advanced PAH, RV-PA coupling could not discriminate irreversible RV failure (non-responders) at presentation but showed a late trend to improvement by follow-up 2. Early change in Eed and baseline RVEF were the best predictors of therapeutic response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2021.09.040DOI Listing
October 2021

EVL is a novel focal adhesion protein involved in the regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics and vascular permeability.

Pulm Circ 2021 Oct-Dec;11(4):20458940211049002. Epub 2021 Oct 4.

Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Increases in lung vascular permeability is a cardinal feature of inflammatory disease and represents an imbalance in vascular contractile forces and barrier-restorative forces, with both forces highly dependent upon the actin cytoskeleton. The current study investigates the role of Ena-VASP-like (EVL), a member of the Ena-VASP family known to regulate the actin cytoskeleton, in regulating vascular permeability responses and lung endothelial cell barrier integrity. Utilizing changes in transendothelial electricial resistance (TEER) to measure endothelial cell barrier responses, we demonstrate that EVL expression regulates endothelial cell responses to both sphingosine-1-phospate (S1P), a vascular barrier-enhancing agonist, and to thrombin, a barrier-disrupting stimulus. Total internal reflection fluorescence demonstrates that EVL is present in endothelial cell focal adhesions and impacts focal adhesion size, distribution, and the number of focal adhesions generated in response to S1P and thrombin challenge, with the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) a key contributor in S1P-stimulated EVL-transduced endothelial cell but a limited role in thrombin-induced focal adhesion rearrangements. In summary, these data indicate that EVL is a focal adhesion protein intimately involved in regulation of cytoskeletal responses to endothelial cell barrier-altering stimuli. Keywords: cytoskeleton, vascular barrier, sphingosine-1-phosphate, thrombin, focal adhesion kinase (FAK), Ena-VASP like protein (EVL), cytoskeletal regulatory protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/20458940211049002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8493322PMC
October 2021

Whole-Blood Mitochondrial DNA Copies Are Associated With the Prognosis of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome After Sepsis.

Front Immunol 2021 7;12:737369. Epub 2021 Sep 7.

Research Unit, Hospital Universitario N.S. de Candelaria, Universidad de La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is an inflammatory process of the lungs that develops primarily in response to pulmonary or systemic sepsis, resulting in a disproportionate death toll in intensive care units (ICUs). Given its role as a critical activator of the inflammatory and innate immune responses, previous studies have reported that an increase of circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a biomarker for fatal outcome in the ICU. Here we analyzed the association of whole-blood mtDNA (wb-mtDNA) copies with 28-day survival from sepsis and sepsis-associated ARDS. We analyzed mtDNA data from 687 peripheral whole-blood samples within 24 h of sepsis diagnosis from unrelated Spanish patients with sepsis (264 with ARDS) included in the GEN-SEP study. The wb-mtDNA copies were obtained from the array intensities of selected probes, with 100% identity with mtDNA and with the largest number of mismatches with the nuclear sequences, and normalized across the individual-probe intensities. We used Cox regression models for testing the association with 28-day survival. We observed that wb-mtDNA copies were significantly associated with 28-day survival in ARDS patients (hazard ratio = 3.65, 95% confidence interval = 1.39-9.59, p = 0.009) but not in non-ARDS patients. Our findings support that wb-mtDNA copies at sepsis diagnosis could be considered an early prognostic biomarker in sepsis-associated ARDS patients. Future studies will be needed to evaluate the mechanistic links of this observation with the pathogenesis of ARDS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.737369DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8453061PMC
September 2021

Identification of early and intermediate biomarkers for ARDS mortality by multi-omic approaches.

Sci Rep 2021 Sep 23;11(1):18874. Epub 2021 Sep 23.

The University of Arizona Health Sciences, 1501 N. Campbell Ave, PO Box 245035, Tucson, AZ, 85724, USA.

The lack of successful clinical trials in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has highlighted the unmet need for biomarkers predicting ARDS mortality and for novel therapeutics to reduce ARDS mortality. We utilized a systems biology multi-"omics" approach to identify predictive biomarkers for ARDS mortality. Integrating analyses were designed to differentiate ARDS non-survivors and survivors (568 subjects, 27% overall 28-day mortality) using datasets derived from multiple 'omics' studies in a multi-institution ARDS cohort (54% European descent, 40% African descent). 'Omics' data was available for each subject and included genome-wide association studies (GWAS, n = 297), RNA sequencing (n = 93), DNA methylation data (n = 61), and selective proteomic network analysis (n = 240). Integration of available "omic" data identified a 9-gene set (TNPO1, NUP214, HDAC1, HNRNPA1, GATAD2A, FOSB, DDX17, PHF20, CREBBP) that differentiated ARDS survivors/non-survivors, results that were validated utilizing a longitudinal transcription dataset. Pathway analysis identified TP53-, HDAC1-, TGF-β-, and IL-6-signaling pathways to be associated with ARDS mortality. Predictive biomarker discovery identified transcription levels of the 9-gene set (AUC-0.83) and Day 7 angiopoietin 2 protein levels as potential candidate predictors of ARDS mortality (AUC-0.70). These results underscore the value of utilizing integrated "multi-omics" approaches in underpowered datasets from racially diverse ARDS subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-98053-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8460799PMC
September 2021

Essential role for paxillin tyrosine phosphorylation in LPS-induced mitochondrial fission, ROS generation and lung endothelial barrier loss.

Sci Rep 2021 09 2;11(1):17546. Epub 2021 Sep 2.

Department of Pharmacology, University of Illinois at Chicago, COMRB Room # 3137, 909, South Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA.

We have shown that both reactive oxygen species (ROS) and paxillin tyrosine phosphorylation regulate LPS-induced human lung endothelial permeability. Mitochondrial ROS (mtROS) is known to increase endothelial cell (EC) permeability which requires dynamic change in mitochondrial morphology, events that are likely to be regulated by paxillin. Here, we investigated the role of paxillin and its tyrosine phosphorylation in regulating LPS-induced mitochondrial dynamics, mtROS production and human lung microvascular EC (HLMVEC) dysfunction. LPS, in a time-dependent manner, induced higher levels of ROS generation in the mitochondria compared to cytoplasm or nucleus. Down-regulation of paxillin expression with siRNA or ecto-expression of paxillin Y31F or Y118F mutant plasmids attenuated LPS-induced mtROS in HLMVECs. Pre-treatment with MitoTEMPO, a scavenger of mtROS, attenuated LPS-induced mtROS, endothelial permeability and VE-cadherin phosphorylation. Further, LPS-induced mitochondrial fission in HLMVECs was attenuated by both a paxillin siRNA, and paxillin Y31F/Y118F mutant. LPS stimulated phosphorylation of dynamin-related protein (DRP1) at S616, which was also attenuated by paxillin siRNA, and paxillinY31/Y118 mutants. Inhibition of DRP1 phosphorylation by P110 attenuated LPS-induced mtROS and endothelial permeability. LPS challenge of HLMVECs enhanced interaction between paxillin, ERK, and DRP1, and inhibition of ERK1/2 activation with PD98059 blocked mitochondrial fission. Taken together, these results suggest a key role for paxillin tyrosine phosphorylation in LPS-induced mitochondrial fission, mtROS generation and EC barrier dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97006-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8413352PMC
September 2021

Upregulation of Calcium Homeostasis Modulators in Contractile-To-Proliferative Phenotypical Transition of Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells.

Front Physiol 2021 2;12:714785. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Section of Physiology, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, La Jolla, CA, United States.

Excessive pulmonary artery (PA) smooth muscle cell (PASMC) proliferation and migration are implicated in the development of pathogenic pulmonary vascular remodeling characterized by concentric arterial wall thickening and arteriole muscularization in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell contractile-to-proliferative phenotypical transition is a process that promotes pulmonary vascular remodeling. A rise in cytosolic Ca concentration [(Ca) ] in PASMCs is a trigger for pulmonary vasoconstriction and a stimulus for pulmonary vascular remodeling. Here, we report that the calcium homeostasis modulator (CALHM), a Ca (and ATP) channel that is allosterically regulated by voltage and extracellular Ca, is upregulated during the PASMC contractile-to-proliferative phenotypical transition. Protein expression of CALHM1/2 in primary cultured PASMCs in media containing serum and growth factors (proliferative PASMC) was significantly greater than in freshly isolated PA (contractile PASMC) from the same rat. Upregulated CALHM1/2 in proliferative PASMCs were associated with an increased ratio of pAKT/AKT and pmTOR/mTOR and an increased expression of the cell proliferation marker PCNA, whereas serum starvation and rapamycin significantly downregulated CALHM1/2. Furthermore, CALHM1/2 were upregulated in freshly isolated PA from rats with monocrotaline (MCT)-induced PH and in primary cultured PASMC from patients with PAH in comparison to normal controls. Intraperitoneal injection of CGP 37157 (0.6 mg/kg, q8H), a non-selective blocker of CALHM channels, partially reversed established experimental PH. These data suggest that CALHM upregulation is involved in PASMC contractile-to-proliferative phenotypical transition. Ca influx through upregulated CALHM1/2 may play an important role in the transition of sustained vasoconstriction to excessive vascular remodeling in PAH or precapillary PH. Calcium homeostasis modulator could potentially be a target to develop novel therapies for PAH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.714785DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8364962PMC
August 2021

Transcriptomics of bronchoalveolar lavage cells identifies new molecular endotypes of sarcoidosis.

Eur Respir J 2021 Jun 3. Epub 2021 Jun 3.

Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.

Sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disease of unknown origin with a variable and often unpredictable course and pattern of organ involvement. In this study we sought to identify specific bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell gene expression patterns indicative of distinct disease phenotypic traits.RNA sequencing by Ion Torrent Proton was performed on BAL cells obtained from 215 well characterised patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis enrolled in the multicenter Genomic Research in Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and Sarcoidosis (GRADS) study. Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis (WGCNA) and non-parametric statistics were used to analyse genome wide BAL transcriptome. Validation of results was performed using a microarray expression data set of an independent sarcoidosis cohort (Freiburg, Germany (n=50)).Our supervised analysis found associations between distinct transcriptional programs and major pulmonary phenotypic manifestations of sarcoidosis including TH1 and TH17 pathways associated with hilar lymphadenopathy, TGFB1 and MTOR signaling with parenchymal involvement, and IL7 and IL2 with airway involvement. Our unsupervised analysis revealed gene modules that uncovered four potential sarcoidosis endotypes including hilar lymphadenopathy with increased acute T cell immune response; extraocular organ involvement with PI3 K activation pathways; chronic and multiorgan disease with increased immune response pathways; and multiorgan with increased IL-1 and IL-18 immune and inflammatory responses. We validated the occurrence of these endotypes using gene expression, pulmonary function tests and cell differentials from Freiburg. Taken together our results identify BAL gene expression programs that characterise major pulmonary sarcoidosis phenotypes and suggest the presence of distinct disease molecular endotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1183/13993003.02950-2020DOI Listing
June 2021

Integrative omics provide biological and clinical insights into acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Intensive Care Med 2021 07 25;47(7):761-771. Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, 655 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.

Purpose: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is accompanied by a dysfunctional immune-inflammatory response following lung injury, including during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Limited causal biomarkers exist for ARDS development. We sought to identify novel genetic susceptibility targets for ARDS to focus further investigation on their biological mechanism and therapeutic potential.

Methods: Meta-analyses of ARDS genome-wide association studies were performed with 1250 cases and 1583 controls in Europeans, and 387 cases and 387 controls in African Americans. The functionality of novel loci was determined in silico using multiple omics approaches. The causality of 114 factors potentially involved in ARDS development was assessed using Mendelian Randomization analysis.

Results: There was distinct genetic heterogeneity in ARDS between Europeans and African Americans. rs7967111 at 12p13.2 was functionally associated with ARDS susceptibility in Europeans (odds ratio = 1.38; P = 2.15 × 10). Expression of two genes annotated at this locus, BORCS5 and DUSP16, was dynamic but ultimately decreased during ARDS development, as well as downregulated in immune cells alongside COVID-19 severity. Causal inference implied that comorbidity of inflammatory bowel disease and elevated levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-10 causally increased ARDS risk, while vitamin D supplementation and vasodilator use ameliorated risk.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest a novel susceptibility locus in ARDS pathophysiology that implicates BORCS5 and DUSP16 as potentially acting in immune-inflammatory processes. This locus warrants further investigation to inform the development of therapeutic targets and clinical care strategies for ARDS, including those induced by COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00134-021-06410-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144871PMC
July 2021

Non-canonical NRF2 activation promotes a pro-diabetic shift in hepatic glucose metabolism.

Mol Metab 2021 Sep 30;51:101243. Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA; University of Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85724, USA. Electronic address:

Objective: NRF2, a transcription factor that regulates cellular redox and metabolic homeostasis, plays a dual role in human disease. While it is well known that canonical intermittent NRF2 activation protects against diabetes-induced tissue damage, little is known regarding the effects of prolonged non-canonical NRF2 activation in diabetes. The goal of this study was to determine the role and mechanisms of prolonged NRF2 activation in arsenic diabetogenicity.

Methods: To test this, we utilized an integrated transcriptomic and metabolomic approach to assess diabetogenic changes in the livers of wild type, Nrf2, p62, or Nrf2; p62 mice exposed to arsenic in the drinking water for 20 weeks.

Results: In contrast to canonical oxidative/electrophilic activation, prolonged non-canonical NRF2 activation via p62-mediated sequestration of KEAP1 increases carbohydrate flux through the polyol pathway, resulting in a pro-diabetic shift in glucose homeostasis. This p62- and NRF2-dependent increase in liver fructose metabolism and gluconeogenesis occurs through the upregulation of four novel NRF2 target genes, ketohexokinase (Khk), sorbitol dehydrogenase (Sord), triokinase/FMN cyclase (Tkfc), and hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 (Hnf4A).

Conclusion: We demonstrate that NRF2 and p62 are essential for arsenic-mediated insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, revealing a pro-diabetic role for prolonged NRF2 activation in arsenic diabetogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2021.101243DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8164084PMC
September 2021

Epitope mapping of novel monoclonal antibodies to human angiotensin I-converting enzyme.

Protein Sci 2021 Aug 11;30(8):1577-1593. Epub 2021 May 11.

Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE, CD143) plays a crucial role in blood pressure regulation, vascular remodeling, and immunity. A wide spectrum of mAbs to different epitopes on the N and C domains of human ACE have been generated and used to study different aspects of ACE biology, including establishing a novel approach-conformational fingerprinting. Here we characterized a novel set of 14 mAbs, developed against human seminal fluid ACE. The epitopes for these novel mAbs were defined using recombinant ACE constructs with truncated N and C domains, species cross-reactivity, ACE mutagenesis, and competition with the previously mapped anti-ACE mAbs. Nine mAbs recognized regions on the N domain, and 5 mAbs-on the C domain of ACE. The epitopes for most of these novel mAbs partially overlap with epitopes mapped onto ACE by the previously generated mAbs, whereas mAb 8H1 recognized yet unmapped region on the C domain where three ACE mutations associated with Alzheimer's disease are localized and is a marker for ACE mutation T877M. mAb 2H4 could be considered as a specific marker for ACE in dendritic cells. This novel set of mAbs can identify even subtle changes in human ACE conformation caused by tissue-specific glycosylation of ACE or mutations, and can detect human somatic and testicular ACE in biological fluids and tissues. Furthermore, the high reactivity of these novel mAbs provides an opportunity to study changes in the pattern of ACE expression or glycosylation in different tissues, cells, and diseases, such as sarcoidosis and Alzheimer's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pro.4091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8284578PMC
August 2021

NHLBI-CMREF Workshop Report on Pulmonary Vascular Disease Classification: JACC State-of-the-Art Review.

J Am Coll Cardiol 2021 04;77(16):2040-2052

Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Cardiovascular Medical Research and Education Fund held a workshop on the application of pulmonary vascular disease omics data to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of pulmonary vascular disease. Experts in pulmonary vascular disease, omics, and data analytics met to identify knowledge gaps and formulate ideas for future research priorities in pulmonary vascular disease in line with National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Strategic Vision goals. The group identified opportunities to develop analytic approaches to multiomic datasets, to identify molecular pathways in pulmonary vascular disease pathobiology, and to link novel phenotypes to meaningful clinical outcomes. The committee suggested support for interdisciplinary research teams to develop and validate analytic methods, a national effort to coordinate biosamples and data, a consortium of preclinical investigators to expedite target evaluation and drug development, longitudinal assessment of molecular biomarkers in clinical trials, and a task force to develop a master clinical trials protocol for pulmonary vascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2021.02.056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8065203PMC
April 2021

Genetic and epigenetic regulation of the non-muscle myosin light chain kinase isoform by lung inflammatory factors and mechanical stress.

Clin Sci (Lond) 2021 04;135(7):963-977

Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, U.S.A.

Rationale: The myosin light chain kinase gene, MYLK, encodes three proteins via unique promoters, including the non-muscle isoform of myosin light chain kinase (nmMLCK), a cytoskeletal protein centrally involved in regulation of vascular integrity. As MYLK coding SNPs are associated with severe inflammatory disorders (asthma, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)), we explored clinically relevant inflammatory stimuli and promoter SNPs in nmMLCK promoter regulation.

Methods: Full-length or serially deleted MYLK luciferase reporter promoter activities were measured in human lung endothelial cells (ECs). SNP-containing non-muscle MYLK (nmMYLK) DNA fragments were generated and nmMYLK promoter binding by transcription factors (TFs) detected by protein-DNA electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Promoter demethylation was evaluated by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza). A preclinical mouse model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung injury (ALI) was utilized for nmMLCK validation.

Results: Lung EC levels of nmMLCK were significantly increased in LPS-challenged mice and LPS, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), 18% cyclic stretch (CS) and 5-Aza each significantly up-regulated EC nmMYLK promoter activities. EC exposure to FG-4592, a prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor that increases hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) expression, increased nmMYLK promoter activity, confirmed by HIF1α/HIF2α silencing. nmMYLK promoter deletion studies identified distal inhibitory and proximal enhancing promoter regions as well as mechanical stretch-, LPS- and TNFα-inducible regions. Insertion of ARDS-associated SNPs (rs2700408, rs11714297) significantly increased nmMYLK promoter activity via increased transcription binding (glial cells missing homolog 1 (GCM1) and intestine-specific homeobox (ISX), respectively). Finally, the MYLK rs78755744 SNP (-261G/A), residing within a nmMYLK CpG island, significantly attenuated 5-Aza-induced promoter activity.

Conclusion: These findings indicate nmMYLK transcriptional regulation by clinically relevant inflammatory factors and ARDS-associated nmMYLK promoter variants are consistent with nmMLCK as a therapeutic target in severe inflammatory disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/CS20201448DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8047480PMC
April 2021

UCHL1, a deubiquitinating enzyme, regulates lung endothelial cell permeability in vitro and in vivo.

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2021 04 13;320(4):L497-L507. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Increasing evidence suggests an important role for deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) in modulating a variety of biological functions and diseases. We previously identified the upregulation of the DUB ubiquitin carboxyl terminal hydrolase 1 (UCHL1) in murine ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). However, the role of UCHL1 in modulating vascular permeability, a cardinal feature of acute lung injury (ALI) in general, remains unclear. We investigated the role of UCHL1 in pulmonary endothelial cell (EC) barrier function in vitro and in vivo and examined the effects of UCHL1 on VE-cadherin and claudin-5 regulation, important adherens and tight junctional components, respectively. Measurements of transendothelial electrical resistance confirmed decreased barrier enhancement induced by hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and increased thrombin-induced permeability in both UCHL1-silenced ECs and in ECs pretreated with LDN-57444 (LDN), a pharmacological UCHL1 inhibitor. In addition, UCHL1 knockdown (siRNA) was associated with decreased expression of VE-cadherin and claudin-5, whereas silencing of the transcription factor FoxO1 restored claudin-5 levels. Finally, UCHL1 inhibition in vivo via LDN was associated with increased VILI in a murine model. These findings support a prominent functional role of UCHL1 in regulating lung vascular permeability via alterations in adherens and tight junctions and implicate UCHL1 as an important mediator of ALI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajplung.00492.2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8238159PMC
April 2021

Cohesive cancer invasion of the biophysical barrier of smooth muscle.

Cancer Metastasis Rev 2021 03 4;40(1):205-219. Epub 2021 Jan 4.

Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, The University of Arizona Cancer Center, 1515 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85724, USA.

Smooth muscle is found around organs in the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive tracts. Cancers arising in the bladder, prostate, stomach, colon, and other sites progress from low-risk disease to high-risk, lethal metastatic disease characterized by tumor invasion into, within, and through the biophysical barrier of smooth muscle. We consider here the unique biophysical properties of smooth muscle and how cohesive clusters of tumor use mechanosensing cell-cell and cell-ECM (extracellular matrix) adhesion receptors to move through a structured muscle and withstand the biophysical forces to reach distant sites. Understanding integrated mechanosensing features within tumor cluster and smooth muscle and potential triggers within adjacent adipose tissue, such as the unique damage-associated molecular pattern protein (DAMP), eNAMPT (extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase), or visfatin, offers an opportunity to prevent the first steps of invasion and metastasis through the structured muscle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10555-020-09950-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8189031PMC
March 2021

Strategies to DAMPen COVID-19-mediated lung and systemic inflammation and vascular injury.

Transl Res 2021 06 20;232:37-48. Epub 2020 Dec 20.

College of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences, Tucson, Arizona. Electronic address:

Approximately 15%-20% of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) progress beyond mild and self-limited disease to require supplemental oxygen for severe pneumonia; 5% of COVID-19-infected patients further develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiorgan failure. Despite mortality rates surpassing 40%, key insights into COVID-19-induced ARDS pathology have not been fully elucidated and multiple unmet needs remain. This review focuses on the unmet need for effective therapies that target unchecked innate immunity-driven inflammation which drives unchecked vascular permeability, multiorgan dysfunction and ARDS mortality. Additional unmet needs including the lack of insights into factors predicting pathogenic hyperinflammatory viral host responses, limited approaches to address the vast disease heterogeneity in ARDS, and the absence of clinically-useful ARDS biomarkers. We review unmet needs persisting in COVID-19-induced ARDS in the context of the potential role for damage-associated molecular pattern proteins in lung and systemic hyperinflammatory host responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection that ultimately drive multiorgan dysfunction and ARDS mortality. Insights into promising stratification-enhancing, biomarker-based strategies in COVID-19 and non-COVID ARDS may enable the design of successful clinical trials of promising therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.12.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7749994PMC
June 2021

Transcriptomic profiles in pulmonary arterial hypertension associate with disease severity and identify novel candidate genes.

Pulm Circ 2020 Oct-Dec;10(4):2045894020968531. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Using RNAseq, we identified a 61 gene-based circulating transcriptomic profile most correlated with four indices of pulmonary arterial hypertension severity. In an independent dataset, 13/61 (21%) genes were differentially expressed in lung tissues of pulmonary arterial hypertension cases versus controls, highlighting potentially novel candidate genes involved in pulmonary arterial hypertension development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2045894020968531DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7727059PMC
December 2020

Endothelial platelet-derived growth factor-mediated activation of smooth muscle platelet-derived growth factor receptors in pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Pulm Circ 2020 Jul-Sep;10(3):2045894020948470. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Departments of Medicine and Physiology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.

Platelet-derived growth factor is one of the major growth factors found in human and mammalian serum and tissues. Abnormal activation of platelet-derived growth factor signaling pathway through platelet-derived growth factor receptors may contribute to the development and progression of pulmonary vascular remodeling and obliterative vascular lesions in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. In this study, we examined the expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor isoforms in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle and pulmonary arterial endothelial cells and investigated whether platelet-derived growth factor secreted from pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell or pulmonary arterial endothelial cell promotes pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation. Our results showed that the protein expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor α and platelet-derived growth factor receptor β in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell was upregulated in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension compared to normal subjects. Platelet-derived growth factor activated platelet-derived growth factor receptor α and platelet-derived growth factor receptor β in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell, as determined by phosphorylation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor α and platelet-derived growth factor receptor β. The platelet-derived growth factor-mediated activation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor α/platelet-derived growth factor receptor β was enhanced in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell compared to normal cells. Expression level of platelet-derived growth factor-AA and platelet-derived growth factor-BB was greater in the conditioned media collected from idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial endothelial cell than from normal pulmonary arterial endothelial cell. Furthermore, incubation of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell with conditioned culture media from normal pulmonary arterial endothelial cell induced more platelet-derived growth factor receptor α activation than in normal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell. Accordingly, the conditioned media from idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial endothelial cell resulted in more pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation than the media from normal pulmonary arterial endothelial cell. These data indicate that (a) the expression and activity of platelet-derived growth factor receptor are increased in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell compared to normal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell, and (b) pulmonary arterial endothelial cell from idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension patients secretes higher level of platelet-derived growth factor than pulmonary arterial endothelial cell from normal subjects. The enhanced secretion (and production) of platelet-derived growth factor from idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial endothelial cell and upregulated platelet-derived growth factor receptor expression (and function) in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension-pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell may contribute to enhancing platelet-derived growth factor/platelet-derived growth factor receptor-associated pulmonary vascular remodeling in pulmonary arterial hypertension.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2045894020948470DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7707860PMC
September 2020

Differential transcriptomics in sarcoidosis lung and lymph node granulomas with comparisons to pathogen-specific granulomas.

Respir Res 2020 Dec 4;21(1):321. Epub 2020 Dec 4.

Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Rationale: Despite the availability of multi-"omics" strategies, insights into the etiology and pathogenesis of sarcoidosis have been elusive. This is partly due to the lack of reliable preclinical models and a paucity of validated biomarkers. As granulomas are a key feature of sarcoidosis, we speculate that direct genomic interrogation of sarcoid tissues, may lead to identification of dysregulated gene pathways or biomarker signatures.

Objective: To facilitate the development sarcoidosis genomic biomarkers by gene expression profiling of sarcoidosis granulomas in lung and lymph node tissues (most commonly affected organs) and comparison to infectious granulomas (coccidiodomycosis and tuberculosis).

Methods: Transcriptomic profiles of immune-related gene from micro-dissected sarcoidosis granulomas within lung and mediastinal lymph node tissues and compared to infectious granulomas from paraffin-embedded blocks. Differentially-expressed genes (DEGs) were profiled, compared among the three granulomatous diseases and analyzed for functional enrichment pathways.

Results: Despite histologic similarities, DEGs and pathway enrichment markedly differed in sarcoidosis granulomas from lymph nodes and lung. Lymph nodes showed a clear immunological response, whereas a structural regenerative response was observed in lung. Sarcoidosis granuloma gene expression data corroborated previously reported genomic biomarkers (STAB1, HBEGF, and NOTCH4), excluded others and identified new genomic markers present in lung and lymph nodes, ADAMTS1, NPR1 and CXCL2. Comparisons between sarcoidosis and pathogen granulomas identified pathway divergences and commonalities at gene expression level.

Conclusion: These findings suggest the importance of tissue and disease-specificity evaluation when exploring sarcoidosis genomic markers. This relevant translational information in sarcoidosis and other two histopathological similar infections provides meaningful specific genomic-derived biomarkers for sarcoidosis diagnosis and prognosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12931-020-01537-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7716494PMC
December 2020

Endothelial eNAMPT amplifies pre-clinical acute lung injury: efficacy of an eNAMPT-neutralising monoclonal antibody.

Eur Respir J 2021 05 6;57(5). Epub 2021 May 6.

Dept of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Rationale: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2/coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has highlighted the serious unmet need for effective therapies that reduce acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) mortality. We explored whether extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (eNAMPT), a ligand for Toll-like receptor (TLR)4 and a master regulator of innate immunity and inflammation, is a potential ARDS therapeutic target.

Methods: Wild-type C57BL/6J or endothelial cell (EC)-c knockout mice (targeted EC deletion) were exposed to either a lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced ("one-hit") or a combined LPS/ventilator ("two-hit")-induced acute inflammatory lung injury model. A NAMPT-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) imaging probe (Tc-ProNamptor) was used to detect NAMPT expression in lung tissues. Either an eNAMPT-neutralising goat polyclonal antibody (pAb) or a humanised monoclonal antibody (ALT-100 mAb) were used and .

Results: Immunohistochemical, biochemical and imaging studies validated time-dependent increases in NAMPT lung tissue expression in both pre-clinical ARDS models. Intravenous delivery of either eNAMPT-neutralising pAb or mAb significantly attenuated inflammatory lung injury (haematoxylin and eosin staining, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) protein, BAL polymorphonuclear cells, plasma interleukin-6) in both pre-clinical models. human lung EC studies demonstrated eNAMPT-neutralising antibodies (pAb, mAb) to strongly abrogate eNAMPT-induced TLR4 pathway activation and EC barrier disruption. studies in wild-type and EC-c mice confirmed a highly significant contribution of EC-derived NAMPT to the severity of inflammatory lung injury in both pre-clinical ARDS models.

Conclusions: These findings highlight both the role of EC-derived eNAMPT and the potential for biologic targeting of the eNAMPT/TLR4 inflammatory pathway. In combination with predictive eNAMPT biomarker and genotyping assays, this offers the opportunity to identify high-risk ARDS subjects for delivery of personalised medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1183/13993003.02536-2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8100338PMC
May 2021

IL-18 mediates sickle cell cardiomyopathy and ventricular arrhythmias.

Blood 2021 03;137(9):1208-1218

Department of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN.

Previous reports indicate that IL18 is a novel candidate gene for diastolic dysfunction in sickle cell disease (SCD)-related cardiomyopathy. We hypothesize that interleukin-18 (IL-18) mediates the development of cardiomyopathy and ventricular tachycardia (VT) in SCD. Compared with control mice, a humanized mouse model of SCD exhibited increased cardiac fibrosis, prolonged duration of action potential, higher VT inducibility in vivo, higher cardiac NF-κB phosphorylation, and higher circulating IL-18 levels, as well as reduced voltage-gated potassium channel expression, which translates to reduced transient outward potassium current (Ito) in isolated cardiomyocytes. Administering IL-18 to isolated mouse hearts resulted in VT originating from the right ventricle and further reduced Ito in SCD mouse cardiomyocytes. Sustained IL-18 inhibition via IL-18-binding protein resulted in decreased cardiac fibrosis and NF-κB phosphorylation, improved diastolic function, normalized electrical remodeling, and attenuated IL-18-mediated VT in SCD mice. Patients with SCD and either myocardial fibrosis or increased QTc displayed greater IL18 gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and QTc was strongly correlated with plasma IL-18 levels. PBMC-derived IL18 gene expression was increased in patients who did not survive compared with those who did. IL-18 is a mediator of sickle cell cardiomyopathy and VT in mice and a novel therapeutic target in patients at risk for sudden death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020005944DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7933768PMC
March 2021

Role of secreted extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (eNAMPT) in prostate cancer progression: Novel biomarker and therapeutic target.

EBioMedicine 2020 Nov 9;61:103059. Epub 2020 Oct 9.

Department of Medicine, The University of Arizona Health Sciences, United States. Electronic address:

Background: There remains a serious need to prevent the progression of invasive prostate cancer (PCa). We previously showed that secreted extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (eNAMPT) is a multifunctional innate immunity regulator via TLR4 ligation which has been implicated in PCa progression. Here we investigate the role of eNAMPT as a diagnostic biomarker and therapeutic target in the progression of PCa.

Methods: Tumor NAMPT expression and plasma eNAMPT level were evaluated in human subjects with various PCa tumor stages and high risk subjects followed-up clinically for PCa. The genetic regulation of NAMPT expression in PCa cells and the role of eNAMPT in PCa invasion were investigated utilizing in vitro and in vivo models.

Findings: Marked NAMPT expression was detected in human extraprostatic-invasive PCa tissues compared to minimal expression of organ-confined PCa. Plasma eNAMPT levels were significantly elevated in PCa subjects compared to male controls, and significantly greater in subjects with extraprostatic-invasive PCa compared to subjects with organ-confined PCa. Plasma eNAMPT levels showed significant predictive value for diagnosing PCa. NAMPT expression and eNAMPT secretion were highly upregulated in human PCa cells in response to hypoxia-inducible factors and EGF. In vitro cell culture and in vivo preclinical mouse model studies confirmed eNAMPT-mediated enhancement of PCa invasiveness into muscle tissues and dramatic attenuation of PCa invasion by weekly treatment with an eNAMPT-neutralizing polyclonal antibody.

Interpretation: This study suggests that eNAMPT is a potential biomarker for PCa, especially invasive PCa. Neutralization of eNAMPT may be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent PCa invasion and progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.103059DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559260PMC
November 2020

Targeting NOX4 alleviates sepsis-induced acute lung injury via attenuation of redox-sensitive activation of CaMKII/ERK1/2/MLCK and endothelial cell barrier dysfunction.

Redox Biol 2020 09 13;36:101638. Epub 2020 Jul 13.

Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Electronic address:

Increased pulmonary vascular permeability due to endothelial cell (EC) barrier dysfunction is a major pathological feature of acute respiratory distress syndrome/acute lung injury (ARDS/ALI), which is a devastating critical illness with high incidence and excessive mortality. Activation of NADPH oxidase (NOX) induces EC dysfunction via production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, the role(s) of NOX isoform(s), and their downstream signaling events, in the development of ARDS/ALI have remained unclear. Cecal Ligation Puncture (CLP) was used to induce preclinical septic ALI in wild-type mice and mice deficient in NOX2 or p47phox, or mice transfected of control siRNA, NOX1 or NOX4 siRNA in vivo. The survival rate of the CLP group at 24 h (26.6%, control siRNA treated) was substantially improved by NOX4 knockdown (52.9%). Mice lacking NOX2 or p47phox, however, had worse outcomes after CLP (survival rates at 0% and 8.3% respectively), whereas NOX1-silenced mice had similar survival rate (30%). NOX4 knockdown attenuated lung ROS production in septic mice, whereas NOX1 knockdown, NOX2 knockout, or p47phox knockout in mice had no effects. In addition, NOX4 knockdown attenuated redox-sensitive activation of the CaMKII/ERK1/2/MLCK pathway, and restored expression of EC tight junction proteins ZO-1 and Occludin to maintain EC barrier integrity. Correspondingly, NOX4 knockdown in cultured human lung microvascular ECs also reduced LPS-induced ROS production, CaMKII/ERK1/2/MLCK activation and EC barrier dysfunction. Scavenging superoxide in vitro and in vivo with TEMPO, or inhibiting CaMKII activation with KN93, had similar effects as NOX4 knockdown in preserving EC barrier dysfunction. In summary, we have identified a novel, selective and causal role of NOX4 (versus other NOX isoforms) in inducing lung EC barrier dysfunction and injury/mortality in a preclinical CLP-induced septic model, which involves redox-sensitive activation of CaMKII/ERK1/2/MLCK pathway. Targeting NOX4 may therefore prove to an innovative therapeutic option that is markedly effective in treating ALI/ARDS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2020.101638DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7381685PMC
September 2020

MicroRNA and protein-coding gene expression analysis in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis yields novel biomarker signatures associated to survival.

Transl Res 2021 02 22;228:1-12. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences, Tucson, Arizona. Electronic address:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic, progressive interstitial lung disease of unknown etiology that poses significant challenges in early diagnosis and prediction of progression. Analyses of microRNA and gene expression in IPF have yielded potentially predictive information. However, the relationship between microRNA/gene expression and quantitative phenotypic value in IPF remains controversial, as is the added value of this approach to current molecular signatures in IPF. To identify biomarkers predictive of survival in IPF via a microRNA-driven strategy. We profiled microRNA and protein-coding gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 70 IPF subjects in a discovery cohort. We linked the microRNA/gene expression level with the quantitative phenotypic variation in IPF, including diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide and the forced vital capacity percent predicted. In silico analyses of expression profiles and quantitative phenotypic data allowed the generation of 2 sets of IPF molecular signatures (unique for microRNAs and protein-coding genes) that predict IPF survival. Each signature performed well in a validation cohort comprised of IPF patients aggregated from distinct patient populations recruited from different sites. Resampling test suggests that the protein-coding gene based signature is comparable and potentially superior to published IPF prognostic gene signatures. In conclusion, these results highlight the utility of microRNA-driven peripheral blood molecular signatures as valuable and novel biomarkers associated to individuals at high survival risk and for potentially facilitating individualized therapies in this enigmatic disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.07.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7779721PMC
February 2021

The acute respiratory distress syndrome biomarker pipeline: crippling gaps between discovery and clinical utility.

Transl Res 2020 12 26;226:105-115. Epub 2020 Jun 26.

College of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences, Tucson, Arizona.

Recent innovations in translational research have ushered an exponential increase in the discovery of novel biomarkers, thereby elevating the hope for deeper insights into "personalized" medicine approaches to disease phenotyping and care. However, a critical gap exists between the fast pace of biomarker discovery and the successful translation to clinical use. This gap underscores the fundamental biomarker conundrum across various acute and chronic disorders: how does a biomarker address a specific unmet need? Additionally, the gap highlights the need to shift the paradigm from a focus on biomarker discovery to greater translational impact and the need for a more streamlined drug approval process. The unmet need for biomarkers in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is for reliable and validated biomarkers that minimize heterogeneity and allow for stratification of subject selection for enrollment in clinical trials of tailored therapies. This unmet need is particularly highlighted by the ongoing SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented numbers of COVID-19-induced ARDS cases has strained health care systems across the world and exposed the need for biomarkers that would accelerate drug development and the successful phenotyping of COVID-19-infected patients at risk for development of ARDS and ARDS mortality. Accordingly, this review discusses the current state of ARDS biomarkers in the context of the drug development pipeline and highlight gaps between biomarker discovery and clinical implementation while proposing potential paths forward. We discuss potential ARDS biomarkers by category and by context of use, highlighting progress in the development continuum. We conclude by discussing challenges to successful translation of biomarker candidates to clinical impact and proposing possible novel strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.06.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7319618PMC
December 2020

Medin Oligomer Membrane Pore Formation: A Potential Mechanism of Vascular Dysfunction.

Biophys J 2020 06 1;118(11):2769-2782. Epub 2020 May 1.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona; Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. Electronic address:

Medin, a 50-amino-acid cleavage product of the milk fat globule-EGF factor 8 protein, is one of the most common forms of localized amyloid found in the vasculature of individuals older than 50 years. Medin induces endothelial dysfunction and vascular inflammation, yet despite its prevalence in the human aorta and multiple arterial beds, little is known about the nature of its pathology. Medin oligomers have been implicated in the pathology of aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection, and more recently, vascular dementia. Recent in vitro biomechanical measurements found increased oligomer levels in aneurysm patients with altered aortic wall integrity. Our results suggest an oligomer-mediated toxicity mechanism for medin pathology. Using lipid bilayer electrophysiology, we show that medin oligomers induce ionic membrane permeability by pore formation. Pore activity was primarily observed for preaggregated medin species from the growth-phase and rarely for lag-phase species. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging of medin aggregates at different stages of aggregation revealed the gradual formation of flat domains resembling the morphology of supported lipid bilayers. Transmission electron microscopy images showed the coexistence of compact oligomers, largely consistent with the AFM data, and larger protofibrillar structures. Circular dichroism spectroscopy revealed the presence of largely disordered species and suggested the presence of β-sheets. This observation and the significantly lower thioflavin T fluorescence emitted by medin aggregates compared to amyloid-β fibrils, along with the absence of amyloid fibers in the AFM and transmission electron microscopy images, suggest that medin aggregation into pores follows a nonamyloidogenic pathway. In silico modeling by molecular dynamics simulations provides atomic-level structural detail of medin pores with the CNpNC barrel topology and diameters comparable to values estimated from experimental pore conductances.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2020.04.026DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7264854PMC
June 2020

More to Add to E-Cigarette Regulations: Unified Approaches.

Chest 2020 04;157(4):771-773

Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, China-Japan Friendship Hospital; Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/Peking Union Medical College.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2019.11.024DOI Listing
April 2020

Arg mediates LPS-induced disruption of the pulmonary endothelial barrier.

Vascul Pharmacol 2020 May - Jun;128-129:106677. Epub 2020 Mar 30.

Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States of America. Electronic address:

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a devastating disease process that involves dysregulated inflammation and decreased alveolar-capillary barrier function. Despite increased understanding of the pathophysiology, no effective targeted therapies exist to treat ARDS. Recent preclinical studies suggest that the multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, imatinib, which targets the Abl kinases c-Abl and Arg, has the potential to restore endothelial dysfunction caused by inflammatory agonists. Prior work demonstrates that imatinib attenuates LPS (lipopolysaccharide)-induced vascular leak and inflammation; however, the mechanisms underlying these effects remain incompletely understood. In the current study, we demonstrate that imatinib inhibits LPS-induced increase in the phosphorylation of CrkL, a specific substrate of Abl kinases, in human pulmonary endothelial cells. Specific silencing of Arg, and not c-Abl, attenuated LPS-induced pulmonary vascular permeability as measured by electrical cellular impedance sensing (ECIS) and gap formation assays. In addition, direct activation of Abl family kinases with the small molecule activator DPH resulted in endothelial barrier disruption that was attenuated by Arg siRNA. In complementary studies to characterize the mechanisms by which Arg mediates endothelial barrier function, Arg silencing was found to inhibit LPS-induced disruption of adherens junctions and phosphorylation of myosin light chains (MLC). Overall, these results characterize the mechanisms by which imatinib protects against LPS-induced endothelial barrier disruption and suggest that Arg inhibition may represent a novel strategy to enhance endothelial barrier function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vph.2020.106677DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7234901PMC
October 2020

Docking Studies of Fingolimod and S1P Agonists.

Front Pharmacol 2020 10;11:247. Epub 2020 Mar 10.

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States.

The sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P), originally the endothelial differentiation gene 1 receptor (EDG-1), is one of five G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) S1P that bind to and are activated by sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). The lipid S1P is an intermediate in sphingolipid homeostasis, and S1P is a major medical target for immune system modulation; agonism of the receptor produces a myriad of biological responses, including endothelial cell barrier integrity, chemotaxis, lymphocyte trafficking/targeting, angiogenesis, as well as regulation of the cardiovascular system. Use of docking simulations on the crystal structure of S1P allows for pinpointing the residues within the receptor's active site that actively contribute to the binding of S1P, and point to how these specific interactions can be exploited to design more effective synthetic analogs to specifically target S1P in the presence of the closely related receptors S1P, S1P, S1P, and S1P. We examined the binding properties of the endogenous substrate as well as a selection of synthetic sphingosine-derived S1P modulators of S1P with docking simulations using the software package Molecular Operating Environment (MOE). The modeling studies reveal the relevance of phosphorylation, i.e., the presence of a phosphate or phosphonate moiety within the substrate for successful binding to occur, and indicate which residues are responsible for S1P binding of the most prominent sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulators, including fingolimod and its structural relatives. Furthermore, trends in steric preferences as for the binding of enantiomers to S1P could be observed, facilitating future design of receptor-specific substrates to precisely target the active site of S1P.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.00247DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7076195PMC
March 2020

Direct Extracellular NAMPT Involvement in Pulmonary Hypertension and Vascular Remodeling. Transcriptional Regulation by SOX and HIF-2α.

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2020 07;63(1):92-103

Department of Medicine.

We previously demonstrated involvement of (nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase) in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and now examine regulation and extracellular NAMPT's (eNAMPT's) role in PAH vascular remodeling. transcription and protein expression in human lung endothelial cells were assessed in response to PAH-relevant stimuli (PDGF [platelet-derived growth factor], VEGF [vascular endothelial growth factor], TGF-β1 [transforming growth factor-β1], and hypoxia). Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition was detected by SNAI1 (snail family transcriptional repressor 1) and PECAM1 (platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1) immunofluorescence. An eNAMPT-neutralizing polyclonal antibody was tested in a PAH model of monocrotaline challenge in rats. Plasma eNAMPT concentrations, significantly increased in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, were highly correlated with indices of PAH severity. eNAMPT increased endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and each PAH stimulus significantly increased endothelial cell promoter activity involving transcription factors STAT5 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 5), SOX18 (SRY-box transcription factor 18), and SOX17 (SRY-box transcription factor 17), a PAH candidate gene newly defined by genome-wide association study. The hypoxia-induced transcription factor HIF-2α (hypoxia-inducible factor-2α) also potently regulated promoter activity, and HIF-2α binding sites were identified between -628 bp and -328 bp. The PHD2 (prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing protein 2) inhibitor FG-4592 significantly increased promoter activity and protein expression in an HIF-2α-dependent manner. Finally, the eNAMPT-neutralizing polyclonal antibody significantly reduced monocrotaline-induced vascular remodeling, PAH hemodynamic alterations, and NF-κB activation. eNAMPT is a novel and attractive therapeutic target essential to PAH vascular remodeling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1165/rcmb.2019-0164OCDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7328254PMC
July 2020
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