Publications by authors named "Wendy Stam"

10 Publications

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Netrin-4 expression by human endothelial cells inhibits endothelial inflammation and senescence.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2021 Feb 23;134:105960. Epub 2021 Feb 23.

Einthoven Laboratory for Vascular and Regenerative Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Netrin-4, recognized in neural and vascular development, is highly expressed by mature endothelial cells. The function of this netrin-4 in vascular biology after development has remained unclear. We found that the expression of netrin-4 is highly regulated in endothelial cells and is important for quiescent healthy endothelium. Netrin-4 expression is upregulated in endothelial cells cultured under laminar flow conditions, while endothelial cells stimulated with tumor necrosis factor alpha resulted in decreased netrin-4 expression. Targeted reduction of netrin-4 in endothelial cells resulted in increased expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 and intercellular adhesion molecule 1. Besides, these endothelial cells were more prone to monocyte adhesion and showed impaired barrier function, measured with electric cell-substrate impedance sensing, as well as in an 'organ-on-a-chip' microfluidic system. Importantly, endothelial cells with reduced levels of netrin-4 showed increased expression of the senescence-associated markers cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor-1 and -2A, an increased cell size and decreased ability to proliferate. Consistent with the gene expression profile, netrin-4 reduction was accompanied with more senescent associated β-galactosidase activity, which could be rescued by adding netrin-4 protein. Finally, using human decellularized kidney extracellular matrix scaffolds, we found that pre-treatment of the scaffolds with netrin-4 increased numbers of endothelial cells adhering to the matrix, showing a pro-survival effect of netrin-4. Taken together, netrin-4 acts as an anti-senescence and anti-inflammation factor in endothelial cell function and our results provide insights as to maintain endothelial homeostasis and supporting vascular health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocel.2021.105960DOI Listing
February 2021

Metabolic response of blood vessels to TNFα.

Elife 2020 08 4;9. Epub 2020 Aug 4.

Division of Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology, Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands.

TNFα signaling in the vascular endothelium elicits multiple inflammatory responses that drive vascular destabilization and leakage. Bioactive lipids are main drivers of these processes. In vitro mechanistic studies of bioactive lipids have been largely based on two-dimensional endothelial cell cultures that, due to lack of laminar flow and the growth of the cells on non-compliant stiff substrates, often display a pro-inflammatory phenotype. This complicates the assessment of inflammatory processes. Three-dimensional microvessels-on-a-chip models provide a unique opportunity to generate endothelial microvessels in a more physiological environment. Using an optimized targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry measurements of a panel of pro- and anti-inflammatory bioactive lipids, we measure the profile changes upon administration of TNFα. We demonstrate that bioactive lipid profiles can be readily detected from three-dimensional microvessels-on-a-chip and display a more dynamic, less inflammatory response to TNFα, that resembles more the human situation, compared to classical two-dimensional endothelial cell cultures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.54754DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7476757PMC
August 2020

Robust and Scalable Angiogenesis Assay of Perfused 3D Human iPSC-Derived Endothelium for Anti-Angiogenic Drug Screening.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Jul 7;21(13). Epub 2020 Jul 7.

Einthoven Laboratory for Vascular and Regenerative Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine (Nephrology), Leiden University Medical Center, 2333ZA Leiden, The Netherlands.

To advance pre-clinical vascular drug research, assays are needed that closely mimic the process of angiogenesis . Such assays should combine physiological relevant culture conditions with robustness and scalability to enable drug screening. We developed a perfused 3D angiogenesis assay that includes endothelial cells (ECs) from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and assessed its performance and suitability for anti-angiogenic drug screening. Angiogenic sprouting was compared with primary ECs and showed that the microvessels from iPSC-EC exhibit similar sprouting behavior, including tip cell formation, directional sprouting and lumen formation. Inhibition with sunitinib, a clinically used vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor type 2 inhibitor, and 3-(3-pyridinyl)-1-(4-pyridinyl)-2-propen-1-one (3PO), a transient glycolysis inhibitor, both significantly reduced the sprouting of both iPSC-ECs and primary ECs, supporting that both cell types show VEGF gradient-driven angiogenic sprouting. The assay performance was quantified for sunitinib, yielding a minimal signal window of 11 and Z-factor of at least 0.75, both meeting the criteria to be used as screening assay. In conclusion, we have developed a robust and scalable assay that includes physiological relevant culture conditions and is amenable to screening of anti-angiogenic compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21134804DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7370283PMC
July 2020

MicroRNA-132 regulates salt-dependent steady-state renin levels in mice.

Commun Biol 2020 May 14;3(1):238. Epub 2020 May 14.

Department of Internal Medicine (Nephrology) and the Einthoven Laboratory for Vascular and Regenerative Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

The body's salt and fluid balance is regulated by the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Generation of prostaglandin-E2 (PGE2) in a cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2)-dependent manner in the macula densa, the salt-sensing cells of the kidney, plays a dominant role in renin regulation. Here we show that miR-132 directly targets Cox-2 and affects subsequent PGE2 and renin levels. MiR-132 is induced and reduced by low- and high salt treatment, respectively, in a p38- and ERK1/2-independent and CREB- and salt inducible kinase-dependent manner. Silencing of miR-132 in mice increases macula densa COX-2 expression and elevates PGE2 and renin levels, which are abrogated by the selective COX-2-inhibitor Celecoxib. Furthermore, a low or high salt diet induces and reduces macula densa miR-132 expression, while low salt diet combined with silencing miR-132 further increases renin levels. Taken together, we demonstrate a posttranscriptional regulatory role for salt-dependent miR-132 in fine-tuning the steady-state levels of renin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-0967-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7224281PMC
May 2020

Ebola Hemorrhagic Shock Syndrome-on-a-Chip.

iScience 2020 Jan 12;23(1):100765. Epub 2019 Dec 12.

Division of Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology, Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, Leiden University, Leiden 2333 CC, Netherlands. Electronic address:

Ebola virus, for which we lack effective countermeasures, causes hemorrhagic fever in humans, with significant case fatality rates. Lack of experimental human models for Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a major obstacle that hinders the development of treatment strategies. Here, we model the Ebola hemorrhagic syndrome in a microvessel-on-a-chip system and demonstrate its applicability to drug studies. Luminal infusion of Ebola virus-like particles leads to albumin leakage from the engineered vessels. The process is mediated by the Rho/ROCK pathway and is associated with cytoskeleton remodeling. Infusion of Ebola glycoprotein (GP) generates a similar phenotype, indicating the key role of GP in this process. Finally, we measured the potency of a recently developed experimental drug FX06 and a novel drug candidate, melatonin, in phenotypic rescue. Our study confirms the effects of FX06 and identifies melatonin as an effective, safe, inexpensive therapeutic option that is worth investigating in animal models and human trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2019.100765DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6941864PMC
January 2020

Standardized and Scalable Assay to Study Perfused 3D Angiogenic Sprouting of iPSC-derived Endothelial Cells In Vitro.

J Vis Exp 2019 11 6(153). Epub 2019 Nov 6.

Department of Internal Medicine (Nephrology) and the Einthoven Laboratory for Vascular and Regenerative Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center.

Pre-clinical drug research of vascular diseases requires in vitro models of vasculature that are amendable to high-throughput screening. However, current in vitro screening models that have sufficient throughput only have limited physiological relevance, which hinders the translation of findings from in vitro to in vivo. On the other hand, microfluidic cell culture platforms have shown unparalleled physiological relevancy in vitro, but often lack the required throughput, scalability and standardization. We demonstrate a robust platform to study angiogenesis of endothelial cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC-ECs) in a physiological relevant cellular microenvironment, including perfusion and gradients. The iPSC-ECs are cultured as 40 perfused 3D microvessels against a patterned collagen-1 scaffold. Upon the application of a gradient of angiogenic factors, important hallmarks of angiogenesis can be studied, including the differentiation into tip- and stalk cell and the formation of perfusable lumen. Perfusion with fluorescent tracer dyes enables the study of permeability during and after anastomosis of the angiogenic sprouts. In conclusion, this method shows the feasibility of iPSC-derived ECs in a standardized and scalable 3D angiogenic assay that combines physiological relevant culture conditions in a platform that has the required robustness and scalability to be integrated within the drug screening infrastructure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/59678DOI Listing
November 2019

Diabetic Nephropathy Alters the Distribution of Circulating Angiogenic MicroRNAs Among Extracellular Vesicles, HDL, and Ago-2.

Diabetes 2019 12 10;68(12):2287-2300. Epub 2019 Sep 10.

Department of Internal Medicine (Nephrology), Amsterdam University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Previously, we identified plasma microRNA (miR) profiles that associate with markers of microvascular injury in patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN). However, miRs circulate in extracellular vesicles (EVs) or in association with HDL or the RNA-binding protein argonaute-2 (Ago-2). Given that the EV- and HDL-mediated miR transfer toward endothelial cells (ECs) regulates cellular quiescence and inflammation, we hypothesized that the distribution of miRs among carriers affects microvascular homeostasis in DN. Therefore, we determined the miR expression in EV, HDL, and Ago-2 fractions isolated from EDTA plasma of healthy control subjects, patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) with or without early DN (estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR] >30 mL/min/1.73 m), and patients with DN (eGFR <30 mL/min/1.73 m). Consistent with our hypothesis, we observed alterations in miR carrier distribution in plasma of patients with DM and DN compared with healthy control subjects. Both miR-21 and miR-126 increased in EVs of patients with DN, whereas miR-660 increased in the Ago-2 fraction and miR-132 decreased in the HDL fraction. Moreover, in vitro, differentially expressed miRs improved EC barrier formation (EV-miR-21) and rescued the angiogenic potential (HDL-miR-132) of ECs cultured in serum from patients with DM and DN. In conclusion, miR measurement in EVs, HDL, and Ago-2 may improve the biomarker sensitivity of these miRs for microvascular injury in DN, while carrier-specific miRs can improve endothelial barrier formation (EV-miR-21/126) or exert a proangiogenic response (HDL-miR-132).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/db18-1360DOI Listing
December 2019

Long Non-coding RNAs Rian and Miat Mediate Myofibroblast Formation in Kidney Fibrosis.

Front Pharmacol 2019 11;10:215. Epub 2019 Mar 11.

Department of Internal Medicine (Nephrology) and the Einthoven Laboratory for Experimental Vascular and Regenerative Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands.

There is an increasing prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD), which associates with the development of interstitial fibrosis. Pericytes (perivascular fibroblasts) provide a major source of α-SMA-positive myofibroblasts that are responsible for the excessive deposition of extracellular matrix. In order to identify pericyte long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that could serve as a target to decrease myofibroblast formation and counteract the progression of kidney fibrosis we employed two models of experimental kidney injury, one focused on kidney fibrosis (unilateral ureteral obstruction; UUO), and one focused on acute kidney injury that yields kidney fibrosis in the longer term (unilateral ischemia-reperfusion injury; IRI). This was performed in FoxD1-GC;tdTomato stromal cell reporter mice that allowed pericyte fate tracing. Tomato red-positive FoxD1-derivative cells of control and injured kidneys were FACS-sorted and used for lncRNA and mRNA profiling yielding a distinctive transcriptional signature of pericytes and myofibroblasts with 244 and 586 differentially expressed lncRNAs (>twofold, < 0.05), in the UUO and IRI models, respectively. Next, we selected two differentially expressed and conserved lncRNAs, Rian (RNA imprinted and accumulated in nucleus) and Miat (Myocardial infarction associated transcript), and explored their potential regulatory role in myofibroblast formation through knockdown of their function with gapmers. While Miat was upregulated in myofibroblasts of UUO and IRI in mice, gapmer silencing of Miat attenuated myofibroblast formation as evidenced by decreased expression of , , , and , as well as decreased α-SMA and pro-collagen-1α1 protein levels. In contrast, silencing Rian, which was found to be downregulated in kidney myofibroblast after IRI and UUO, resulted in increased myofibroblast formation. In addition, we found microRNAs that were previously linked to Miat (miR-150) and Rian (14q32 miRNA cluster), to be dysregulated in the FoxD1-derivative cells, suggesting a possible interaction between miRNAs and these lncRNAs in myofibroblast formation. Taken together, lncRNAs play a regulatory role in myofibroblast formation, possibly through interacting with miRNA regulation, implicating that understanding their biology and their modulation may have the potential to counteract the development of renal fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6421975PMC
March 2019

Human USP18 deficiency underlies type 1 interferonopathy leading to severe pseudo-TORCH syndrome.

J Exp Med 2016 06 20;213(7):1163-74. Epub 2016 Jun 20.

Department of Clinical Genetics, Erasmus University Medical Center, 3015 CE Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Pseudo-TORCH syndrome (PTS) is characterized by microcephaly, enlarged ventricles, cerebral calcification, and, occasionally, by systemic features at birth resembling the sequelae of congenital infection but in the absence of an infectious agent. Genetic defects resulting in activation of type 1 interferon (IFN) responses have been documented to cause Aicardi-Goutières syndrome, which is a cause of PTS. Ubiquitin-specific peptidase 18 (USP18) is a key negative regulator of type I IFN signaling. In this study, we identified loss-of-function recessive mutations of USP18 in five PTS patients from two unrelated families. Ex vivo brain autopsy material demonstrated innate immune inflammation with calcification and polymicrogyria. In vitro, patient fibroblasts displayed severely enhanced IFN-induced inflammation, which was completely rescued by lentiviral transduction of USP18. These findings add USP18 deficiency to the list of genetic disorders collectively termed type I interferonopathies. Moreover, USP18 deficiency represents the first genetic disorder of PTS caused by dysregulation of the response to type I IFNs. Therapeutically, this places USP18 as a promising target not only for genetic but also acquired IFN-mediated CNS disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20151529DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4925017PMC
June 2016