Publications by authors named "Quanfu Mao"

31 Publications

Increased placental expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, the receptor of SARS-CoV-2, associated with hypoxia in twin anemia-polycythemia sequence (TAPS).

Placenta 2021 02 15;105:7-13. Epub 2021 Jan 15.

From the Departments of Pathology and Pediatrics, Women and Infants Hospital; and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. Electronic address:

Introduction: Recent reports suggest SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, may be transmittable from pregnant mother to placenta and fetus, albeit rarely. The efficacy of vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 critically depends on the availability of its receptor, ACE2, in the placenta. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that placental ACE2 expression is oxygenation-dependent by studying the expression of ACE2 and associated cell entry regulators in the monochorionic twin anemia-polycythemia (TAPS) placenta, a model of discordant placental oxygenation.

Methods: We performed a retrospective comparative immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis of ACE2, TMPRSS2 and Cathepsin B expression in anemic and polycythemic territories of TAPS placentas (N = 14).

Results: ACE2 protein levels were significantly higher in the anemic twin territories than in the corresponding polycythemic territories, associated with upregulation of the key ACE2-related cell entry regulators, TMPRSS2 and Cathepsin B, immunolocalized to villous trophoblastic and stromal cells. Cellular colocalization of ACE2 and TMPRSS2, suggestive of functionality of this cell entry axis, was demonstrated by double immunofluorescence studies.

Discussion: Placental hypoxia is associated with upregulation of ACE2 expression, concomitant with increased expression of its key cell entry proteases. ACE2-regulated placental functions, both infection- and non-infection related, may be highly oxygenation-dependent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2021.01.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7833196PMC
February 2021

Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) expression in very preterm human lungs: potential relevance for stem cell therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

Exp Lung Res 2020 May - Jun;46(5):146-156. Epub 2020 Apr 11.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Women and Infants Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

The axis formed by CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), expressed on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1), expressed in recipient organs, is a critical mediator of MSC migration in non-pulmonary injury models. The role and regulation of SDF-1 expression in preterm lungs, of potential relevance for MSC-based cell therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the spatiotemporal pattern of CXCR4/SDF-1 expression in lungs of extremely preterm infants at risk for BPD. Postmortem lung samples were collected from ventilated extremely preterm infants who died between 23 and 29 wks ("short-term ventilated") or between 36 and 39 wks ("long-term ventilated") corrected postmenstrual age. Results were compared with age-matched infants who had lived <12 h or stillborn infants ("early" and "late" controls). CXCR4 and SDF-1 expression was studied by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence/confocal microscopy, and qRT-PCR analysis. Compared with age-matched controls without antenatal infection, lungs of early control infants with evidence of intrauterine infection/inflammation showed significant upregulation of SDF-1 expression, localized to the respiratory epithelium, and of CXCR4 expression, localized to stromal cells. Similarly, pulmonary SDF-1 mRNA levels were significantly higher in long-term ventilated ex-premature infants with established BPD than in age-matched controls. The pulmonary vasculature was devoid of SDF-1 expression at all time points. Endogenous CXCR4-positive stromal cells were preferentially localized along the basal aspect of SDF-1-positive bronchial and respiratory epithelial cells, suggestive of functionality of the CXCR4/SDF-1 axis. Incipient and established neonatal lung injury is associated with upregulation of SDF-1 expression, restricted to the respiratory epithelium. Knowledge of the clinical associations, time-course and localization of pulmonary SDF-1 expression may guide decisions about the optimal timing and delivery route of MSC-based cell therapy for BPD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01902148.2020.1751899DOI Listing
April 2020

Discordant placental oxygenation and autophagy in twin anemia-polycythemia sequence (TAPS).

Placenta 2020 01 25;90:9-17. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

From the Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. Electronic address:

Background: (Macro)autophagy is an important process of self-degradation of macromolecules and organelles that ensures cellular homeostasis and energy preservation during stressful conditions. Dysregulated placental autophagy has been implicated in a wide range of pregnancy complications. Recent studies identified hypoxia as a key regulator of trophoblast autophagy in vitro; however, its effects on placental autophagy in vivo remain incompletely understood. In this study, we evaluated the monochorionic twin anemia-polycythemia sequence (TAPS) placenta as model of discordant placental oxygenation to determine the effects of hypoxia on placental autophagy in utero.

Methods: We performed a retrospective comparative analysis of tissue oxygenation and autophagy in anemic and polycythemic territories of TAPS placentas (N = 12). Archival tissues were subjected to immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence and Western blot analyses of carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX (hypoxia marker) and key autophagy/lysosomal markers.

Results: CAIX protein levels were significantly higher in anemic twin territories than in corresponding polycythemic territories, consistent with relative tissue hypoxia. Anemic placental shares further displayed significantly higher levels of LC3I/II (autophagosome markers) and LAMP1/2 (lysosome markers), associated with upregulated expression of lysosome/autophagosome activity-associated markers, transcription factor EB and cathepsin D. The accumulation of autophagosomes and lysosomes in anemic shares was accompanied by elevated p62 protein expression, suggestive of inhibition of the downstream autophagy pathway.

Conclusions: TAPS placentas display striking intertwin discordance in tissue oxygenation and autophagic activity and may provide a suitable model for study of the interrelationship between hypoxia, autophagy, and pregnancy outcome in a monochorionic twin setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2019.11.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7912434PMC
January 2020

Galectin-3 expression and effect of supplementation in neonatal mice with disseminated Candida albicans infection.

Pediatr Res 2019 03 16;85(4):527-532. Epub 2019 Jan 16.

Department of Pediatrics, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

Background: Invasive candidiasis is an important cause of fungal infections in immunocompromised patients, including premature infants. The S-type lectin, galectin-3 (gal3), is increasingly recognized for its role in antifungal host defense. This study tested the hypothesis that tissue gal3 expression is affected by disseminated infection with Candida albicans and that supplementation with gal3 will provide a benefit in this setting.

Methods: To determine the expression of gal3 at the tissue level in response to disseminated infection with C. albicans, adult and neonatal mice were infected using previously established models. End points were chosen that reflected substantive tissue fungal burden but before mortality.

Results: No differences in gal3 were detected in tissues of adult animals relative to uninfected controls. In neonatal animals, gal3 concentration was lower in the spleen of infected animals compared to uninfected. Pretreatment of neonatal mice with recombinant gal3 was associated with reduced mortality and reduced fungal burden in the kidney, spleen, and lung at 24 h following infection.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that gal3 has an active role in host defense against candidiasis and that neonatal animals can benefit from supplementation with this lectin in the setting of disseminated candidiasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41390-019-0279-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6397689PMC
March 2019

Pathology of Neonatal Non- albicans Candidiasis: Autopsy Study and Literature Review.

Pediatr Dev Pathol 2019 Mar-Apr;22(2):98-105. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

1 Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island.

Introduction/objectives: Non- albicans Candida species such as Candida parapsilosis and Candida glabrata have emerged as prevalent pathogens in premature infants. The aim of this study was to systematically delineate the histopathologic findings in neonatal non- albicans candidiasis.

Methods: We performed a retrospective clinicopathologic analysis of extremely premature (23-28 weeks' gestation) infants diagnosed with invasive candidiasis. Archival autopsy tissues were subjected to periodic acid-Schiff, methenamine-silver and anti- Candida (immuno)histochemical stains, as well as dual anti- Candida and anti-cytokeratin or anti-CD31 immunofluorescence assays. In addition, we studied the prevalence of intestinal Candida colonization in a consecutive autopsy series of extremely premature infants.

Results: Based on positive postmortem blood and/or lung cultures, invasive candidiasis (3 non- albicans and 11 Candida albicans) was diagnosed in 14 of the 187 extremely premature infants examined between 1995 and 2017. In contrast to the well-known inflammatory and tissue-destructive phenotype of congenital C. albicans infection, invasive non- albicans candidiasis/candidemia caused by C. parapsilosis and C. glabrata was inconspicuous by routine hematoxylin-eosin-based histopathologic analysis despite a heavy fungal presence detected in intestines, lungs, and blood by targeted (immuno)histochemical assays. Intestinal colonization by Candida species was identified in 16 of the 26 (61%) extremely premature neonates who had lived for at least 1 week, as assessed by anti- Candida immunostaining.

Conclusion: Invasive neonatal non- albicans candidiasis/candidemia appears to have no distinct histopathologic signature. Based on the notoriously low sensitivity of fungal blood cultures and the observed high frequency of Candida intestinal colonization (>50%), it is likely that non- albicans candidiasis/candidemia may be underdiagnosed in (deceased) preterm infants. Routine inclusion of targeted (immuno)histochemical fungal detection strategies in the perinatal autopsy may lead to deeper insight into the prevalence and clinical relevance of neonatal non- albicans candidiasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1093526618798773DOI Listing
April 2019

Redness discordance in monochorionic twin placentas: Correlation with clinical and placental findings.

Placenta 2017 Dec 26;60:54-60. Epub 2017 Oct 26.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI, 02905, United States.

Introduction/objectives: Recent studies suggest redness (color) discordance of the placental basal plate may be a marker for twin anemia-polycythemia sequence (TAPS), a recently described complication of diamniotic-monochorionic twinning characterized by marked intertwin hemoglobin (Hb) discordance in the absence of oligohydramnios-polyhydramnios. In this study, we determined the clinicoplacental and choriovascular correlates of basal plate color discordance in monochorionic twin placentas, and assessed its value as postnatal indicator of TAPS.

Methods: We performed a clinicoplacental analysis of 100 consecutive non-TTTS diamniotic-monochorionic twin placentas with available photographic documentation of the basal plate. Basal plate redness was quantified by computer-assisted analysis of digital images and expressed as intertwin color difference ratio (CDR).

Results: The CDR ranged between 1.00 and 3.58 (median CDR: 1.14; 90 %ile: 1.98). Compared to twins with low CDR (N = 90), twins with high CDR (≥2.0; N = 10) had significantly higher hemoglobin difference (11.25 g/dL versus 2.55 g/dL) and significantly fewer and smaller artery-to-artery (AA) and artery-to-vein (AV) anastomoses. Apgar scores and birth weights were equivalent in both groups. Among the 10 twin sets with high CDR, six (60%) qualified as TAPS, as defined by intertwin Hb difference >8 g/dL and absent or very small AA and AV anastomoses. Conversely, 6 of 8 (75%) twin sets with TAPS had a CDR ≥ 2.0.

Conclusion: Intertwin CDR correlates with intertwin hemoglobin difference and chorionic angioarchitecture. A CDR value ≥ 2.0 (the 90%ile value for CDR derived from the present cohort) has high specificity (96%), but relatively low positive predictive value (60%) as indicator of TAPS, as currently defined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2017.10.007DOI Listing
December 2017

Clinicoplacental correlates of amniocyte vacuolization in association with gastroschisis.

Placenta 2017 Sep 6;57:87-93. Epub 2017 Jun 6.

Department of Surgery, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02905, United States.

Introduction/objectives: Gastroschisis has been associated with a characteristic type of amniocyte vacuolization. In this study, we determined the frequency and clinicoplacental correlates of this apparently unique alteration of the amniotic epithelium.

Methods: We performed a retrospective clinicopathologic analysis of 74 consecutive cases of isolated gastroschisis. Placental membrane sections were reviewed for presence and extent of amniocyte vacuolization, and immunostained for adipophilin, a lipid droplet-associated protein. Controls included placentas from pregnancies complicated by omphalocele, meconium exposure or chorioamnionitis.

Results: A distinct type of diffuse, fine and homogeneous amniocyte vacuolization was present in 15/74 (20%), absent in 41/74 (55%), and equivocal in 18/74 (24%) gastroschisis cases. Similar amniocyte vacuolization was seen in only 1/30 meconium-stained controls, and in none of the other non-gastroschisis controls. Adipophilin immunostaining enhanced the visualization of the cytoplasmic vacuoles and confirmed their lipid nature. Compared to gastroschisis cases without such vacuolization, cases with typical, extensive amniocyte vacuolization had a tendency to lower birth weight percentile (26% versus 40%; P < 0.08), a significantly lower fetal:placental weight ratio (4.72 versus 5.51; P < 0.01), and a significantly higher frequency of associated meconium exposure (14/15 versus 15/41, P < 0.001) and/or chorioamnionitis (8/15 versus 6/41; P < 0.01). The length of hospital stay was equivalent for infants with or without amniocyte vacuolization.

Conclusion: Diffuse, fine and homogeneous lipid droplet accumulation in amniocytes is highly characteristic of gastroschisis, but only seen in about 20% of cases. The functional implications of excessive lipid accumulation, and the exact mechanisms underlying the strong association between amniocyte lipid accumulation and chorioamnionitis/meconium exposure in a subset of gastroschisis cases remain undetermined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2017.06.002DOI Listing
September 2017

Effects of human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells on respiratory system mechanics in a murine model of neonatal lung injury.

Exp Lung Res 2017 03 29;43(2):66-81. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

a Department of Pathology , Women and Infants Hospital , Providence , Rhode Island , USA.

Background: Mononuclear cells (MNCs) have well-documented beneficial effects in a wide range of adult pulmonary diseases. The effects of human umbilical cord blood-derived MNCs on neonatal lung injury, highly relevant for potential autologous application in preterm newborns at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), remain incompletely established. The aim of this study was to determine the long-term morphologic and functional effects of systemically delivered MNCs in a murine model of neonatal lung injury.

Materials And Methods: MNCs from cryopreserved cord blood (1 × 10 cells per pup) were given intravenously to newborn mice exposed to 90% O from birth; controls received cord blood total nucleated cells (TNCs) or granular cells, or equal volume vehicle buffer (sham controls). In order to avoid immune rejection, we used SCID mice as recipients. Lung mechanics (flexiVent™), engraftment, growth, and alveolarization were evaluated eight weeks postinfusion.

Results: Systemic MNC administration to hyperoxia-exposed newborn mice resulted in significant attenuation of methacholine-induced airway hyperreactivity, leading to reduction of central airway resistance to normoxic levels. These bronchial effects were associated with mild improvement of alveolarization, lung compliance, and elastance. TNCs had no effects on alveolar remodeling and were associated with worsened methacholine-induced bronchial hyperreactivity. Granular cell administration resulted in a marked morphologic and functional emphysematous phenotype, associated with high mortality. Pulmonary donor cell engraftment was sporadic in all groups.

Conclusions: These results suggest that cord blood MNCs may have a cell type-specific role in therapy of pulmonary conditions characterized by increased airway resistance, such as BPD and asthma. Future studies need to determine the active MNC subtype(s), their mechanisms of action, and optimal purification methods to minimize granular cell contamination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01902148.2017.1300713DOI Listing
March 2017

Intussusceptive-like angiogenesis in human fetal lung xenografts: Link with bronchopulmonary dysplasia-associated microvascular dysangiogenesis?

Exp Lung Res 2015 ;41(9):477-88

a Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University , Providence , Rhode Island , USA.

Background: Human fetal lung xenografts display an unusual pattern of non-sprouting, plexus-forming angiogenesis that is reminiscent of the dysmorphic angioarchitecture described in bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). The aim of this study was to determine the clinicopathological correlates, growth characteristics and molecular regulation of this aberrant form of graft angiogenesis.

Methods: Fetal lung xenografts, derived from 12 previable fetuses (15 to 22 weeks' gestation) and engrafted in the renal subcapsular space of SCID-beige mice, were analyzed 4 weeks posttransplantation for morphology, vascularization, proliferative activity and gene expression.

Results: Focal plexus-forming angiogenesis (PFA) was observed in 60/230 (26%) of xenografts. PFA was characterized by a complex network of tortuous nonsprouting vascular structures with low endothelial proliferative activity, suggestive of intussusceptive-type angiogenesis. There was no correlation between the occurrence of PFA and gestational age or time interval between delivery and engraftment. PFA was preferentially localized in the relatively hypoxic central subcapsular area. Microarray analysis suggested altered expression of 15 genes in graft regions with PFA, of which 7 are known angiogenic/lymphangiogenic regulators and 5 are known hypoxia-inducible genes. qRT-PCR analysis confirmed significant upregulation of SULF2, IGF2, and HMOX1 in graft regions with PFA.

Conclusion: These observations in human fetal lungs ex vivo suggest that postcanalicular lungs can switch from sprouting angiogenesis to an aberrant intussusceptive-type of angiogenesis that is highly reminiscent of BPD-associated dysangiogenesis. While circumstantial evidence suggests hypoxia may be implicated, the exact triggering mechanisms, molecular regulation and clinical implications of this angiogenic switch in preterm lungs in vivo remain to be determined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/01902148.2015.1080321DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4764792PMC
August 2016

Intranasal versus intraperitoneal delivery of human umbilical cord tissue-derived cultured mesenchymal stromal cells in a murine model of neonatal lung injury.

Am J Pathol 2014 Dec 22;184(12):3344-58. Epub 2014 Nov 22.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Electronic address:

Clinical trials investigating mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia have been initiated; however, the optimal delivery route and functional effects of MSC therapy in newborns remain incompletely established. We studied the morphologic and functional effects of intranasal versus i.p. MSC administration in a rodent model of neonatal lung injury. Cultured human cord tissue MSCs (0.1, 0.5, or 1 × 10(6) cell per pup) were given intranasally or i.p. to newborn severe combined immunodeficiency-beige mice exposed to 90% O2 from birth; sham controls received an equal volume of phosphate-buffered saline. Lung mechanics, engraftment, lung growth, and alveolarization were evaluated 8 weeks after transplantation. High-dose i.p. MSC administration to newborn mice exposed to 90% O2 resulted in the restoration of normal lung compliance, elastance, and pressure-volume loops (tissue recoil). Histologically, high-dose i.p. MSC administration was associated with alveolar septal widening, suggestive of interstitial matrix modification. Intranasal MSC or lower-dose i.p. administration had no significant effects on lung function or alveolar remodeling. Pulmonary engraftment was rare in all the groups. These findings suggest that high-dose systemic administration of human cultured MSCs can restore normal compliance in neonatally injured lungs, possibly by paracrine modulation of the interstitial matrix. Intranasal delivery had no obvious pulmonary effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpath.2014.08.010DOI Listing
December 2014

Ex vivo expanded human cord blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells induce lung growth and alveolarization in injured newborn lungs.

Respir Res 2013 Mar 23;14:37. Epub 2013 Mar 23.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.

Background: We investigated the capacity of expanded cord blood-derived CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells to undergo respiratory epithelial differentiation ex vivo, and to engraft and attenuate alveolar disruption in injured newborn murine lungs in vivo.

Methods: Respiratory epithelial differentiation was studied in CD34+ cells expanded in the presence of growth factors and cytokines ("basic" medium), in one group supplemented with dexamethasone ("DEX"). Expanded or freshly isolated CD34+ cells were inoculated intranasally in newborn mice with apoptosis-induced lung injury. Pulmonary engraftment, lung growth and alveolarization were studied at 8 weeks post-inoculation.

Results: SP-C mRNA expression was seen in 2/7 CD34+ cell isolates expanded in basic media and in 6/7 isolates expanded in DEX, associated with cytoplasmic SP-C immunoreactivity and ultrastructural features suggestive of type II cell-like differentiation. Administration of expanding CD34+ cells was associated with increased lung growth and, in animals treated with DEX-exposed cells, enhanced alveolar septation. Freshly isolated CD34+ cells had no effect of lung growth or remodeling. Lungs of animals treated with expanded CD34+ cells contained intraalveolar aggregates of replicating alu-FISH-positive mononuclear cells, whereas epithelial engraftment was extremely rare.

Conclusion: Expanded cord blood CD34+ cells can induce lung growth and alveolarization in injured newborn lungs. These growth-promoting effects may be linked to paracrine or immunomodulatory effects of persistent cord blood-derived mononuclear cells, as expanded cells showed limited respiratory epithelial transdifferentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1465-9921-14-37DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3610254PMC
March 2013

Correlation between cord insertion type and chorionic villus vascularization of the co-twin in diamniotic-monochorionic twin pregnancies.

Early Hum Dev 2013 Apr 16;89(4):243-7. Epub 2013 Feb 16.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Background: Recent evidence suggests that cord insertion type of one twin correlates with chorionic plate vascularization of the monochorionic co-twin. Specifically, for twins with paracentral cords, chorionic plate vascularization is significantly greater when the co-twin has a velamentous, rather than paracentral cord insertion.

Aims: To determine whether this correlation between cord insertion type and vascularization of the co-twin also extends to the deeper chorionic villus tree.

Study Design: Morphometric analysis of chorionic villus vascularization in CD31-immunostained sections of a retrospective cohort of gestational age-matched third trimester monochorionic placentas with discordant paracentral/velamentous (PC/V) or concordant paracentral/paracentral (PC/PC) cord insertions.

Outcome Measures: Vascular numerical density (number of vascular profiles per unit villus stromal area) of intermediate villi (>80 μm diameter) and terminal villi (<80 μm).

Results: For twins with paracentral cord insertion, the vascular numerical density of intermediate villi was significantly higher for twins in a discordant PC/V relationship than for those in a concordant PC/PC relationship (P<0.05), thus replicating previous findings in superficial chorionic vessels. For terminal villi, in contrast, the vascular numerical density of twins with paracentral cords in a PC/V combination was significantly lower than of those in a PC/PC combination, and similar to that of their co-twins with velamentous cord insertion.

Conclusions: Early placental angiogenesis in monochorionic twin gestations may be influenced by implantation and cord localization of the co-twin. The regulation of terminal villus angiogenesis appears to be dissociated from more proximal villus angiogenesis and independent of cord insertion of the co-twin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2013.01.009DOI Listing
April 2013

Long-term outcome of human cord blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells in murine lungs.

Exp Lung Res 2013 Mar 9;39(2):59-69. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.

Intranasally delivered human cord blood-derived CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells have the capacity to engraft and undergo transdifferentiation to surfactant-containing alveolar epithelial type II cell-like cells in lungs of newborn mice. The aim of this study was to determine the long-term fate of such transplanted cells as well as their effects on alveolar development in neonatally injured lungs. Double transgenic CCSP+/FasL+ mice with inducible lung-specific FasL expression, targeted to induce respiratory epithelial apoptosis in the perinatal period, served as model of neonatal lung injury. Non-injured single transgenic CCSP+/FasL- littermates served as controls. Freshly isolated umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells (0.5 to 1.0×10(6)) were administered at postnatal day 5 by intranasal inoculation; sham controls received equal volume PBS. Engraftment, alveolar epithelial differentiation, lung growth, and alveolarization were evaluated one year after transplantation. Engrafted cord blood-derived cells, detected by human-specific FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) analysis, and cord blood-derived alveolar type II-like cells, detected by double immunofluorescence analysis, while sparse, were seen in all conditions and more frequent in double than single transgenic recipients. The total lung volume and volume of air-exchanging parenchyma, assessed by stereological volumetry, were significantly greater in CD34-treated double transgenic animals than in PBS-treated double transgenic controls. Alveolarization, assessed by histomorphometry, was equivalent in these groups. These results suggest that transdifferentiated alveolar epithelial cells, derived from cord blood CD34+ cells, can persist up to one year after intrapulmonary delivery. Cord blood-CD34+ cell administration appears to have growth-promoting effects in injured newborn lungs, without affecting alveolar development in this model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/01902148.2012.752548DOI Listing
March 2013

The human fetal lung xenograft: validation as model of microvascular remodeling in the postglandular lung.

Pediatr Pulmonol 2012 Dec 18;47(12):1192-203. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

Background: Coordinated remodeling of epithelium and vasculature is essential for normal postglandular lung development. The value of the human-to-rodent lung xenograft as model of fetal microvascular development remains poorly defined.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the fate of the endogenous (human-derived) microvasculature in fetal lung xenografts.

Methods: Lung tissues were obtained from spontaneous pregnancy losses (14-22 weeks' gestation) and implanted in the renal subcapsular or dorsal subcutaneous space of SCID-beige mice (T, B, and NK-cell-deficient) and/or nude rats (T-cell-deficient). Informed parental consent was obtained. Lung morphogenesis, microvascular angiogenesis, and epithelial differentiation were assessed at 2 and 4 weeks post-transplantation by light microscopy, immunohistochemical, and gene expression studies. Archival age-matched postmortem lungs served as control.

Results: The vascular morphology, density, and proliferation of renal subcapsular grafts in SCID-beige mice were similar to age-matched control lungs, with preservation of the physiologic association between epithelium and vasculature. The microvasculature of subcutaneous grafts in SCID-beige mice was underdeveloped and dysmorphic, associated with significantly lower VEGF, endoglin, and angiopoietin-2 mRNA expression than renal grafts. Grafts at both sites displayed mild airspace dysplasia. Renal subcapsular grafts in nude rats showed frequent infiltration by host lymphocytes and obliterating bronchiolitis-like changes, associated with markedly decreased endogenous angiogenesis.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates the critical importance of host and site selection to ensure optimal xenograft development. When transplanted to severely immune suppressed, NK-cell-deficient hosts and engrafted in the renal subcapsular site, the human-to-rodent fetal lung xenograft provides a valid model of postglandular microvascular lung remodeling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ppul.22617DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3504188PMC
December 2012

Efficacy of a non-hypercalcemic vitamin-D2 derived anti-cancer agent (MT19c) and inhibition of fatty acid synthesis in an ovarian cancer xenograft model.

PLoS One 2012 3;7(4):e34443. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Molecular Therapeutics Laboratory, Program in Women's Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women and Infants' Hospital of Rhode Island, Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America.

Background: Numerous vitamin-D analogs exhibited poor response rates, high systemic toxicities and hypercalcemia in human trials to treat cancer. We identified the first non-hypercalcemic anti-cancer vitamin D analog MT19c by altering the A-ring of ergocalciferol. This study describes the therapeutic efficacy and mechanism of action of MT19c in both in vitro and in vivo models.

Methodology/principal Finding: Antitumor efficacy of MT19c was evaluated in ovarian cancer cell (SKOV-3) xenografts in nude mice and a syngenic rat ovarian cancer model. Serum calcium levels of MT19c or calcitriol treated animals were measured. In-silico molecular docking simulation and a cell based VDR reporter assay revealed MT19c-VDR interaction. Genomewide mRNA analysis of MT19c treated tumors identified drug targets which were verified by immunoblotting and microscopy. Quantification of cellular malonyl CoA was carried out by HPLC-MS. A binding study with PPAR-Y receptor was performed. MT19c reduced ovarian cancer growth in xenograft and syngeneic animal models without causing hypercalcemia or acute toxicity. MT19c is a weak vitamin-D receptor (VDR) antagonist that disrupted the interaction between VDR and coactivator SRC2-3. Genome-wide mRNA analysis and western blot and microscopy of MT19c treated xenograft tumors showed inhibition of fatty acid synthase (FASN) activity. MT19c reduced cellular levels of malonyl CoA in SKOV-3 cells and inhibited EGFR/phosphoinositol-3kinase (PI-3K) activity independently of PPAR-gamma protein.

Significance: Antitumor effects of non-hypercalcemic agent MT19c provide a new approach to the design of vitamin-D based anticancer molecules and a rationale for developing MT19c as a therapeutic agent for malignant ovarian tumors by targeting oncogenic de novo lipogenesis.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0034443PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317945PMC
August 2012

Resilience of the human fetal lung following stillbirth: potential relevance for pulmonary regenerative medicine.

Exp Lung Res 2012 Feb 14;38(1):43-54. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, and Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.

Recent advances in pulmonary regenerative medicine have increased the demand for alveolar epithelial progenitor cells. Fetal lung tissues from spontaneous pregnancy losses may represent a neglected, yet ethically and societally acceptable source of alveolar epithelial cells. The aim of this study was to determine the regenerative capacity of fetal lungs obtained from second trimester stillbirths. Lung tissues were harvested from 11 stillborn fetuses (13 to 22 weeks' gestation) at postdelivery intervals ranging from 10 to 41 hours and grafted to the renal subcapsular space of immune-suppressed rats to provide optimal growth conditions. Histology, epithelial and alveolar type II cell proliferation, and surfactant protein-C mRNA expression were studied in preimplantation lung tissues and in xenografts at posttransplantation week 2. All xenografts displayed advanced architectural maturation compared with their respective preimplantation tissues, regardless of gestational age and postdelivery interval. The proliferative activity of the grafts was significantly higher than that of the preimplantation tissues (mean Ki-67 labeling index 26.7%±7.7% versus 14.7%±10.5%; P<.01). The proliferative activity of grafts obtained after a long (>36 hours) postdelivery interval was significantly higher than that of the corresponding preimplantation tissue, and equivalent to that of grafts obtained after a short postdelivery interval (<14 hours). The regenerative capacity of fetal lung tissue was greater at younger (13 to 17 weeks) than at older (19 to 22 weeks) gestational ages. The presence of inflammation/chorioamnionitis did not appear to affect graft regeneration. All grafts studied displayed robust surfactant protein-C mRNA expression. In conclusion, fetal lung tissues from second trimester stillbirths can regain their inherent high regenerative potential following short-term culture, even if harvested more than 36 hours after delivery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/01902148.2011.641139DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3677542PMC
February 2012

β-Adrenergic receptor-PI3K signaling crosstalk in mouse heart: elucidation of immediate downstream signaling cascades.

PLoS One 2011 19;6(10):e26581. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.

Sustained β-adrenergic receptors (βAR) activation leads to cardiac hypertrophy and prevents left ventricular (LV) atrophy during LV unloading. The immediate signaling pathways downstream from βAR stimulation, however, have not been well investigated. The current study was to examine the early cardiac signaling mechanism(s) following βAR stimulation. In adult C57BL/6 mice, acute βAR stimulation induced significant increases in PI3K activity and activation of Akt and ERK1/2 in the heart, but not in lungs or livers. In contrast, the same treatment did not elicit these changes in β(1)/β(2)AR double knockout mice. We further showed the specificity of β(2)AR in this crosstalk as treatment with formoterol, a β(2)AR-selective agonist, but not dobutamine, a predominantly β(1)AR agonist, activated cardiac Akt and ERK1/2. Acute βAR stimulation also significantly increased the phosphorylation of mTOR (the mammalian target of rapamycin), P70S6K, ribosomal protein S6, GSK-3α/β (glycogen synthase kinase-3α/β), and FOXO1/3a (the forkhead box family of transcription factors 1 and 3a). Moreover, acute βAR stimulation time-dependently decreased the mRNA levels of the muscle-specific E3 ligases atrogin-1 and muscle ring finger protein-1 (MuRF1) in mouse heart. Our results indicate that acute βAR stimulation in vivo affects multiple cardiac signaling cascades, including the PI3K signaling pathway, ERK1/2, atrogin-1 and MuRF1. These data 1) provide convincing evidence for the crosstalk between βAR and PI3K signaling pathways; 2) confirm the β(2)AR specificity in this crosstalk in vivo; and 3) identify novel signaling factors involved in cardiac hypertrophy and LV unloading. Understanding of the intricate interplay between β(2)AR activation and these signaling cascades should provide critical clues to the pathogenesis of cardiac hypertrophy and enable identification of targets for early clinical interaction of cardiac lesions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0026581PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197531PMC
February 2012

Alveolar epithelial cell therapy with human cord blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells.

Am J Pathol 2011 Mar;178(3):1329-39

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.

The role of umbilical cord blood (CB)-derived stem cell therapy in neonatal lung injury remains undetermined. We investigated the capacity of human CB-derived CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells to regenerate injured alveolar epithelium in newborn mice. Double-transgenic mice with doxycycline (Dox)-dependent lung-specific Fas ligand (FasL) overexpression, treated with Dox between embryonal day 15 and postnatal day 3, served as a model of neonatal lung injury. Single-transgenic non-Dox-responsive littermates were controls. CD34(+) cells (1 × 10(5) to 5 × 10(5)) were administered at postnatal day 5 by intranasal inoculation. Engraftment, respiratory epithelial differentiation, proliferation, and cell fusion were studied at 8 weeks after inoculation. Engrafted cells were readily detected in all recipients and showed a higher incidence of surfactant immunoreactivity and proliferative activity in FasL-overexpressing animals compared with non-FasL-injured littermates. Cord blood-derived cells surrounding surfactant-immunoreactive type II-like cells frequently showed a transitional phenotype between type II and type I cells and/or type I cell-specific podoplanin immunoreactivity. Lack of nuclear colocalization of human and murine genomic material suggested the absence of fusion. In conclusion, human CB-derived CD34(+) cells are capable of long-term pulmonary engraftment, replication, clonal expansion, and reconstitution of injured respiratory epithelium by fusion-independent mechanisms. Cord blood-derived surfactant-positive epithelial cells appear to act as progenitors of the distal respiratory unit, analogous to resident type II cells. Graft proliferation and alveolar epithelial differentiation are promoted by lung injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpath.2010.11.062DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128500PMC
March 2011

Angiogenesis-related gene expression profiling in ventilated preterm human lungs.

Exp Lung Res 2010 Sep;36(7):399-410

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.

Preterm infants exposed to oxygen and mechanical ventilation are at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a multifactorial chronic lung disorder characterized by arrested alveolar development and nonsprouting, dysmorphic microvascular angiogenesis. The molecular regulation of this BPD-associated pathological angiogenesis remains incompletely understood. In this study, the authors used focused microarray technology to characterize the angiogenic gene expression profile in postmortem lung samples from short-term ventilated preterm infants (born at 24 to 27 weeks' gestation) and age-matched control infants. Microarray analysis identified differential expression of 13 of 112 angiogenesis-related genes. Genes significantly up-regulated in ventilated lungs included the antiangiogenic genes thrombospondin-1, collagen XVIII alpha-1, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP1), as well as endoglin, transforming growth factor-alpha, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (CCL2). Increased expression of thrombospondin-1 in ventilated lungs was verified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunolocalized primarily to intravascular platelets and fibrin aggregates. Down-regulated genes included proangiogenic angiogenin and midkine, as well as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-B, VEGF receptor-2, and the angiopoietin receptor TEK/Tie-2. In conclusion, short-term ventilated lungs show a shift from traditional angiogenic growth factors to alternative, often antisprouting regulators. This angiogenic shift may be implicated in the regulation of dysmorphic angiogenesis and, consequently, deficient alveolarization characteristic of infants with BPD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/01902141003714031DOI Listing
September 2010

Effects of Fas-ligand overexpression on alveolar type II cell growth kinetics in perinatal murine lungs.

Pediatr Res 2010 Jul;68(1):57-62

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, and Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.

We determined the time-specific effects of FasL overexpression on perinatal alveolar type II cell growth kinetics. To achieve temporal overexpression of respiratory epithelium-specific FasL expression, tetracycline inducible CCSP-rtTA/FasL-TetOp transgenic mice were given doxycycline (Dox) from gestational d 14 (E14) to E19 (antenatal treatment group), from postnatal d 1 (P1) to P7 (postnatal group), or from E14 to P7 (combined antenatal and postnatal group). Antenatal Dox administration induced an increase of pulmonary FasL mRNA levels in double transgenic animals up to >300-fold over single transgenic littermate controls, associated with massive fetal respiratory epithelial apoptosis and excessive postnatal lethality. Although animals from the combined antenatal/postnatal Dox treatment group continued to display evidence of increased apoptosis, there was a paradoxical increase in alveolar type II cell proliferation, resulting in a net increase in type II cell density, elevated pulmonary surfactant protein C levels and improved postnatal survival. Postnatal Dox administration was also associated with increased type II cell density, although FasL up-regulation was more variable. In conclusion, these results, and our previous studies, suggest that FasL signaling has dual timing-dependent proapoptotic and proproliferative effects on postcanalicular type II cell kinetics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181e084afDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888646PMC
July 2010

Pulmonary dendritic cells in lungs of preterm infants: neglected participants in bronchopulmonary dysplasia?

Pediatr Dev Pathol 2011 Jan-Feb;14(1):20-7. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.

Preterm infants are at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease characterized by disrupted alveolar remodeling and microvascular dysangiogenesis. The pathogenesis of BPD is multifactorial, with contributions from antenatal and/or postnatal infection and inflammation. The potential role of dendritic cells, critical immune regulatory cells with potent angiogenic activities, remains undetermined. We studied the prevalence and topography of dendritic cells in postmortem lungs of short- and long-term ventilated preterm infants born between 23 and 29 weeks in gestation. Controls were age-matched infants who had lived less than 12 hours. Dendritic cells were identified by anti-DC-SIGN immunohistochemistry and were co-localized with endothelial and smooth muscle cells by double immunofluorescence. Lungs of early and late control infants without evidence of antenatal infection contained scattered DC-SIGN-positive dendritic cells in the peripheral lung parenchyma. Lungs of early control infants with a history of chorioamnionitis/antenatal infection and lungs of short- or long-term ventilated preterm infants showed a dramatic (more than 3-fold) increase in dendritic cells. Double labeling highlighted a close association between dendritic cells and small- or medium-sized pulmonary vessels. In conclusion, we demonstrated that dendritic cells are an integral component of normal postcanalicular lung development. Antenatal infection and ventilation/BPD are associated with significant pulmonary recruitment of dendritic cells. The recently described angiogenic effects of dendritic cells and their intimate association with the pulmonary microvasculature indicate that dendritic cells may participate in BPD-associated dysangiogenesis. Elucidation of the role of this immunovascular axis may lead to novel therapeutic approaches to BPD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2350/09-09-0709-OA.1DOI Listing
June 2011

Fate and effects of adult bone marrow cells in lungs of normoxic and hyperoxic newborn mice.

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2009 May 6;40(5):575-87. Epub 2008 Nov 6.

Women and Infants Hospital, Dept. of Pathology, 101 Dudley Street, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Cell-based therapy in adult lung injury models is associated with highly variable donor cell engraftment and epithelial reconstitution. The role of marrow-derived cell therapy in neonatal lung injury is largely unknown. In this study, we determined the fate and effects of adult bone marrow cells in a model of neonatal lung injury. Wild-type mice placed in a normoxic or hyperoxic (95% O(2)) environment received bone marrow cells from animals expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) at Postnatal Day (P)5. Controls received vehicle buffer. Lungs were analyzed between Post-Transplantation (TPX) Day 2 and Week 8. The volume of GFP-immunoreactive donor cells, monitored by stereologic volumetry, remained constant between Post-TPX Weeks 1 and 8 and was similar in normoxic and hyperoxia-exposed recipients. Virtually all marrow-derived cells showed colocalization of GFP and the pan-macrophage marker, F4/80, by double immunofluorescence studies. Epithelial transdifferentiation was not seen. Marrow cell administration had adverse effects on somatic growth and alveolarization in normoxic mice, while no effects were discerned in hyperoxia-exposed recipients. Reexposure of marrow-treated animals to hyperoxia at P66 resulted in significant expansion of the donor-derived macrophage population. In conclusion, intranasal administration of unfractionated bone marrow cells to newborn mice does not achieve epithelial reconstitution, but establishes persistent alveolar macrophage chimerism. The predominantly adverse effects of marrow treatment in newborn lungs are likely due to macrophage-associated paracrine effects. While this model and route of cell therapy may not achieve epithelial reconstitution, the role of selected stem cell populations and/or alternate routes of administration for cell-based therapy in injured newborn lungs deserve further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1165/rcmb.2008-0176OCDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677437PMC
May 2009

The Fas system confers protection against alveolar disruption in hyperoxia-exposed newborn mice.

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008 Dec 27;39(6):717-29. Epub 2008 Jun 27.

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02905, USA.

The functional significance of the Fas/Fas-ligand (FasL) system in hyperoxia-induced lung injury and alveolar disruption in newborn lungs in vivo remains undetermined. To assess the role of the Fas/FasL system, we compared the effects of hyperoxia (95% O2 from birth to Postnatal Day [P]7) in Fas-deficient lpr mice and wild-type mice. Alveolar disruption was more severe in hyperoxic lpr mice than in wild-type mice. In addition, a transient alveolarization defect was noted in normoxic lpr mice. Hyperoxia induced marked up-regulation of pulmonary Fas expression in wild-type mice, as well as elevated mRNA levels of pro-apoptotic Bax, Bad, and Bak. Pulmonary apoptotic activity was similar in hyperoxic wild-type and lpr mice. In contrast, lung growth and proliferation, assessed by stereologic volumetry and Ki67 proliferation studies, were significantly higher in hyperoxic wild-type mice compared with lpr mice, suggesting the Fas/FasL system has a pro-proliferative role in hyperoxic conditions. Levels of the prosurvival MAPkinase, pERK1/2, were significantly higher in hyperoxic wild-type mice compared with lpr mice, while pAkt levels were similar. These data suggest that the primary role of the Fas/FasL system in hyperoxic newborn lungs is pro-proliferative, rather than pro-apoptotic, and likely mediated through a Fas-ERK1/2 pathway. Fas-induced proliferation and lung growth in hyperoxic newborn lungs may counteract, in part, the detrimental effects of apoptosis mediated by non-Fas pathways, such as pro-apoptotic Bax/Bcl-2 family members. The capacity of the Fas/FasL signaling pathway to mediate protective rather than destructive functions in hyperoxic newborn lungs highlights the versatility of this complex pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1165/rcmb.2008-0052OCDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586047PMC
December 2008

Fas-ligand-induced apoptosis of respiratory epithelial cells causes disruption of postcanalicular alveolar development.

Am J Pathol 2008 Jul 5;173(1):42-56. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Women and Infants Hospital, Dept. of Pathology, 101 Dudley St., Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Premature infants are at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a complex condition characterized by impaired alveolar development and increased alveolar epithelial apoptosis. The functional involvement of pulmonary apoptosis in bronchopulmonary dysplasia- associated alveolar disruption remains undetermined. The aims of this study were to generate conditional lung-specific Fas-ligand (FasL) transgenic mice and to determine the effects of FasL-induced respiratory epithelial apoptosis on alveolar remodeling in postcanalicular lungs. Transgenic (TetOp)(7)-FasL responder mice, generated by pronuclear microinjection, were bred with Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP)-rtTA activator mice. Doxycycline (Dox) was administered from embryonal day 14 to postnatal day 7, and lungs were studied between embryonal day 19 and postnatal day 21. Dox administration induced marked respiratory epithelium-specific FasL mRNA and protein up-regulation in double-transgenic CCSP-rtTA(+)/(TetOp)(7)-FasL(+) mice compared with single-transgenic CCSP-rtTA(+) littermates. The Dox-induced FasL up-regulation was associated with dramatically increased apoptosis of alveolar type II cells and Clara cells, disrupted alveolar development, decreased vascular density, and increased postnatal lethality. These data demonstrate that FasL-induced alveolar epithelial apoptosis during postcanalicular lung remodeling is sufficient to disrupt alveolar development after birth. The availability of inducible lung-specific FasL transgenic mice will facilitate studies of the role of apoptosis in normal and disrupted alveologenesis and may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for perinatal and adult pulmonary diseases characterized by dysregulated apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2353/ajpath.2008.071123DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2438284PMC
July 2008

Endoglin (CD105) up-regulation in pulmonary microvasculature of ventilated preterm infants.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2008 Jul 17;178(2):180-7. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Women and Infants Hospital, Department of Pathology, 101 Dudley Street, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Rationale: Preterm infants exposed to mechanical ventilation and oxygen are at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a multifactorial chronic lung disorder characterized by arrested alveolar development. Studies have described disruption of microvascular development in BPD, characterized by primitive angioarchitectural patterns reminiscent of the canalicular/saccular stages of lung development. The molecular regulation of this BPD-associated dysangiogenesis remains undetermined.

Objectives: Endoglin (CD105), a hypoxia-inducible transforming growth factor-beta coreceptor, has been implicated as an important regulator of angiogenesis in various neoplastic and nonneoplastic conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of endoglin and other angiogenesis-related factors in ventilated preterm human lungs.

Methods: We have studied endoglin protein and mRNA expression in postmortem lungs of short-term and long-term ventilated preterm infants. Control subjects were age-matched infants who had lived for less than 1 hour.

Measurements And Main Results: Lungs of short-term ventilated preterm infants showed significant upregulation of endoglin mRNA and protein levels, immunolocalized to the microvasculature. Similar but more variable endoglin upregulation was noted in lungs of long-term ventilated infants with BPD. The mRNA levels of vascular endothelial growth factor, angiopoietin-1, and their respective receptors were significantly lower in ventilated lungs than in age-matched nonventilated control lungs.

Conclusions: BPD is associated with a shift from traditional angiogenic growth factors (vascular endothelial growth factor, angiopoietin-1) to alternative regulators such as endoglin, which may contribute to BPD-associated microvascular dysangiogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.200608-1240OCDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2453512PMC
July 2008

Growth of pulmonary microvasculature in ventilated preterm infants.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2006 Jan 6;173(2):204-11. Epub 2005 Oct 6.

Women and Infants Hospital, Department of Pathology, 101 Dudley Street, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Rationale: Density-based morphometric studies have demonstrated decreased capillary density in infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and in BPD-like animal models, leading to the prevailing view that microvascular development is disrupted in BPD.

Objective: To perform a comprehensive analysis of the early and late effects of ventilation on pulmonary microvascular growth in preterm infants.

Methods: Postmortem lung samples were collected from ventilated preterm infants who died between 23 and 29 wk ("short-term ventilated") or between 36 and 39 wk ("long-term ventilated") corrected postmenstrual age. Results were compared with age-matched infants or stillborn infants ("early" and "late" control subjects). Microvascular growth was studied by anti-platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM)-1 immunohistochemistry, quantitative stereology, analysis of endothelial cell proliferation, and Western blot analysis of pulmonary PECAM-1 protein levels.

Measurements: Measurements were made of capillary density, volume of air-exchanging parenchyma, volume of microvascular endothelial cells, Ki67 labeling index of endothelial cells, and PECAM-1/actin protein levels.

Main Results: Lungs of long-term ventilated infants showed a significant (more than twofold) increase in volume of air-exchanging parenchyma and a 60% increase in total pulmonary microvascular endothelial volume compared with late control subjects, associated with 60% higher pulmonary PECAM-1 protein levels. The marked expansion of the pulmonary microvasculature in ventilated lungs was, at least partly, attributable to brisk endothelial cell proliferation. The microvasculature of ventilated lungs appeared immature, retaining a saccular architectural pattern.

Conclusions: The pulmonary microvasculature of ventilated preterm infants displayed marked angiogenesis, nearly proportionate to the growth of the air-exchanging lung parenchyma. These results challenge the paradigm of microvascular growth arrest as a major pathogenic factor in BPD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.200506-927OCDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2662989PMC
January 2006

Hyperoxia-induced apoptosis and Fas/FasL expression in lung epithelial cells.

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2005 Oct;289(4):L647-59

Dept. of Pathology, Women and Infants Hospital, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Alveolar epithelial apoptosis is an important feature of hyperoxia-induced lung injury in vivo and has been described in the early stages of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (chronic lung disease of preterm newborn). Molecular regulation of hyperoxia-induced alveolar epithelial cell death remains incompletely understood. In view of functional involvement of Fas/FasL system in physiological postcanalicular type II cell apoptosis, we speculated this system may also be a critical regulator of hyperoxia-induced apoptosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of hyperoxia on apoptosis and apoptotic gene expression in alveolar epithelial cells. Apoptosis was studied by TUNEL, electron microscopy, DNA size analysis, and caspase assays. Fas/FasL expression was determined by Western blot analysis and RPA. We determined that in MLE-12 cells exposed to hyperoxia, caspase-mediated apoptosis was the first morphologically and biochemically recognizable mode of cell death, followed by necrosis of residual adherent cells. The apoptotic stage was associated with a threefold upregulation of Fas mRNA and protein expression and increased susceptibility to direct Fas receptor activation, concomitant with a threefold increase of FasL protein levels. Fas gene silencing by siRNAs significantly reduced hyperoxia-induced apoptosis. In murine fetal type II cells, hyperoxia similarly induced markedly increased Fas/FasL protein expression, confirming validity of results obtained in transformed MLE-12 cells. Our findings implicate the Fas/FasL system as an important regulator of hyperoxia-induced type II cell apoptosis. Elucidation of regulation of hyperoxia-induced lung apoptosis may lead to alternative therapeutic strategies for perinatal or adult pulmonary diseases characterized by dysregulated type II cell apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajplung.00445.2004DOI Listing
October 2005

Expression of apoptosis-related genes after fetal tracheal occlusion in rabbits.

J Pediatr Surg 2004 Nov;39(11):1616-25

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants' Hospital, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Background/purpose: Late-gestation lung remodeling is associated with alveolar type II cell apoptosis early in the saccular stage (day 28 in fetal rabbits). Intrauterine tracheal occlusion (TO), a potent stimulus of fetal lung growth and maturation, significantly increases type II cell apoptosis. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of fetal TO on the spatiotemporal expression of key apoptosis-related signaling molecules.

Methods: Tracheal occlusion of fetal rabbits was performed at gestational day 25 (term, 31 days), and apoptotic gene expression was studied between days 26 and 28.

Results: At days 26 and 27, the protein levels of Fas and Fas-ligand (FasL) in lung lysates were similar in TO fetuses and sham-operated controls. At day 28, however, synchronous with the onset of TO-induced pulmonary distension and type II cell apoptosis, the FasL protein content was 8-fold higher in TO lungs compared with controls (P < .01), whereas Fas levels were comparable. In contrast, Bax and Bcl-2 protein levels were similar in TO and control fetuses at all time-points. TO significantly increased the cellular concentration of immunoreactive FasL in type II cells and bronchial epithelial Clara cells. Furthermore, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL) from TO fetuses at day 28 induced significantly more type II cell apoptosis in vitro compared with control BAL, an effect that was inhibited by neutralizing anti-FasL antibody.

Conclusions: Our findings show that TO results in time-specific increase of both cellular and soluble FasL in fetal lungs and implicate the Fas/FasL pathway as a pivotal autocrine and/or paracrine regulator of TO- induced type II cell apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2004.07.021DOI Listing
November 2004

Fas/FasL-mediated apoptosis in perinatal murine lungs.

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2004 Oct;287(4):L730-42

Program of Fetal Medicine, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

Postcanalicular lung development is characterized by a time-specific increase in alveolar epithelial type II cell apoptosis. We have previously demonstrated that, in fetal rabbits, developmental type II cell apoptosis coincides with transient upregulation of the cell death regulator Fas ligand (FasL). The aims of this study were 1) to determine the spatiotemporal patterns of pulmonary apoptosis and Fas/FasL gene expression in the murine model [embryonic day 17 (E17) through postnatal day 5 (P5)], and 2) to investigate the functional involvement of the Fas/FasL system by determining the effect of Fas activation and inhibition on perinatal pulmonary apoptosis. The apoptotic activity of alveolar epithelial type II cells, determined by combined TUNEL labeling and anti-surfactant protein B immunohistochemistry, showed a dramatic increase during the perinatal transition (type II cell apoptotic index <0.1% at E17, 1.5% at P1-P3, and 0.3% at P5). This timing of enhanced type II cell apoptosis coincided with a robust 14-fold increase in Fas mRNA and protein levels and a threefold increase in FasL protein levels; both Fas and FasL immunolocalized to type II and bronchial epithelial cells. In vitro and in vivo exposure of fetal and postnatal murine type II cells to anti-Fas antibody induced a fourfold increase in apoptotic activity that was prevented by administration of a broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor; the pulmonary apoptotic activity of Fas-deficient lpr mice remained unchanged. Conversely, administration of a caspase inhibitor to newborn mice (P1) resulted in marked diminution of pulmonary apoptotic activity. These combined findings strongly implicate the Fas/FasL system as a critical regulator of perinatal type II cell apoptosis. The developmental time dependence of apoptosis-related events in the murine model should facilitate investigations of the regulation of perinatal pulmonary apoptotic gene expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajplung.00120.2004DOI Listing
October 2004

Postmortem RNA and protein stability in perinatal human lungs.

Diagn Mol Pathol 2002 Sep;11(3):170-6

Department of Pathology, Women and Infants' Hospital, Providence, RI 02905, USA.

The availability of fetal and neonatal lung tissue is an invaluable resource to elucidate the molecular regulation of human lung development. In this study, we have investigated the mRNA and protein stability of perinatal lung tissues treated with RNA (Ambion Inc., Austin, TX) or snap frozen in liquid nitrogen (LN ). Lung samples were obtained from 25 consecutive perinatal autopsies of live-born and stillborn infants (median gestational age, 23 weeks) with various clinical presentations. Treatment of lung tissue with RNA yielded more total RNA and protein than LN freezing. The integrity of RNA, assessed by spectrophotometry and gel electrophoresis, was equivalent between both tissue preservation methods, and both methods produced RNA suitable for reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis of representative genes (beta-actin and surfactant protein-B [SP-B]). Similarly, the protein integrity of RNA -treated tissues was equivalent to that of LN -frozen tissues, as judged by Western blot analysis of SP-B/actin protein expression. Although the total yield was similar in live-born, nonmacerated stillborn and macerated stillborn infants, only RNA and protein from live-born or nonmacerated stillborn infants was suitable for subsequent molecular analyses. Within the 41-hour range studied, the duration of the postmortem interval did not affect the yield or integrity of RNA and protein with either tissue preservation method. In summary, high-quality RNA and protein, suitable for routine molecular analyses, can be obtained from postmortem lung tissue from live-born and nonmacerated stillborn infants, even with prolonged postmortem intervals. RNA is equivalent, if not superior, to LN for preservation of postmortem RNA and protein in developing human lungs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00019606-200209000-00008DOI Listing
September 2002