Trophoblasts, the specialized cells of the placenta, play a major role in implantation and formation of the maternal-fetal interface. Through an unusual differentiation process examined in this review, these fetal cells acquire properties of leukocytes and endothelial cells that enable many of their specialized functions. In recent years a great deal has been learned about the regulatory mechanisms, from transcriptional networks to oxygen tension, which control trophoblast differentiation. The challenge is to turn this information into clinically useful tests for monitoring placental function and, hence, pregnancy outcome.
Kristy Red-Horse, Yan Zhou, Olga Genbacev, Akraporn Prakobphol, Russell Foulk, Michael McMaster, Susan J. Fisher
Retinitis pigmentosa is a heritable group of blinding diseases resulting from loss of photoreceptors, primarily rods and secondarily cones, that mediate central vision. Loss of retinal vasculature is a presumed metabolic consequence of photoreceptor degeneration. A new study shows that autologous bone marrow–derived lineage-negative hematopoietic stem cells, which incorporate into the degenerating blood vessels in two murine models of retinitis pigmentosa, rd1 and rd10, prevent cone loss. The use of autologous bone marrow might avoid problems with rejection while preserving central cone vision in a wide variety of genetically disparate retinal degenerative diseases.
Lois E.H. Smith
Members of the family of prostanoids, made up of prostaglandins and thromboxanes, are generated via COX-mediated metabolism of arachidonic acid. These lipid mediators exhibit wide-ranging biological actions that include regulating both vasomotor tone and renal sodium excretion. As COX inhibition is often associated with sodium retention leading to edema and hypertension, prostanoids appear to have a role in preventing the development of high blood pressure. On the other hand, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and PGI2 have also been implicated as determinants of renin secretion. A new study suggests that PGI2 plays a critical role in stimulating renin release and promoting hypertension following renal artery stenosis.
Helene Francois, Thomas M. Coffman
Finding mutations in nuclear genes responsible for disorders in the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation system has been a tedious matter. A “Venn diagram” approach — not unlike a classic complementation experiment — reported in this issue will now make the search easier.
Eric A. Schon
Vascularized organ transplants often fail because of smooth muscle cell migration and proliferation in the intima of graft arteries, leading to progressive lumenal narrowing and resultant ischemic damage. Graft arterial disease is caused by IFN-γ secreted by alloreactive T cells. New evidence indicates that IFN-γ dysregulates expression of the enzymes eNOS and iNOS in graft-infiltrating leukocytes. Dysregulated NO synthase expression occurs prior to and is causally linked to intimal smooth muscle cell accumulation.
Richard N. Mitchell, Andrew H. Lichtman
Inherited retinal degenerations afflict 1 in 3,500 individuals and are a heterogeneous group of diseases that result in profound vision loss, usually the result of retinal neuronal apoptosis. Atrophic changes in the retinal vasculature are also observed in many of these degenerations. While it is thought that this atrophy is secondary to diminished metabolic demand in the face of retinal degeneration, the precise relationship between the retinal neuronal and vascular degeneration is not clear. In this study we demonstrate that whenever a fraction of mouse or human adult bone marrow–derived stem cells (lineage-negative hematopoietic stem cells [Lin– HSCs]) containing endothelial precursors stabilizes and rescues retinal blood vessels that would ordinarily completely degenerate, a dramatic neurotrophic rescue effect is also observed. Retinal nuclear layers are preserved in 2 mouse models of retinal degeneration, rd1 and rd10, and detectable, albeit severely abnormal, electroretinogram recordings are observed in rescued mice at times when they are never observed in control-treated or untreated eyes. The normal mouse retina consists predominantly of rods, but the rescued cells after treatment with Lin– HSCs are nearly all cones. Microarray analysis of rescued retinas demonstrates significant upregulation of many antiapoptotic genes, including small heat shock proteins and transcription factors. These results suggest a new paradigm for thinking about the relationship between vasculature and associated retinal neuronal tissue as well as a potential treatment for delaying the progression of vision loss associated with retinal degeneration regardless of the underlying genetic defect.
Atsushi Otani, Michael Ian Dorrell, Karen Kinder, Stacey K. Moreno, Steven Nusinowitz, Eyal Banin, John Heckenlively, Martin Friedlander
Skeletal myoblast transplantation is a potential treatment for congestive heart failure. To study the functional activity of both donor and host myocytes following transplantation, skeletal myoblasts expressing an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) transgene were transplanted into hearts of nontransgenic recipients, and changes in intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) were monitored in donor and host cells. While the vast majority of donor-derived myocytes were observed to be functionally isolated from the host myocardium, a small population of donor myocytes exhibited action potential–induced calcium transients in synchrony with adjacent host cardiomyocytes. In many cases, the durations of these [Ca2+]i transients were heterogeneous compared with those in neighboring host cardiomyocytes. In other studies, EGFP-expressing donor myoblasts were transplanted into the hearts of adult transgenic recipient mice expressing a cardiomyocyte-restricted β-gal reporter gene. A small population of myocytes was observed to express both reporter transgenes, indicating that the transplanted myoblasts fused with host cardiomyocytes at a very low frequency. These cells also expressed connexin43, a component of gap junctions. Thus engraftment of skeletal myoblasts generated spatial heterogeneity of [Ca2+]i signaling at the myocardial/skeletal muscle interface, most likely as a consequence of fusion events between donor myoblasts and host cardiomyocytes.
Michael Rubart, Mark H. Soonpaa, Hidehiro Nakajima, Loren J. Field
Production of thromboxane (TX) A2 and PG I2/prostacyclin (PGI2) is increased in patients with atherosclerosis. However, their roles in atherogenesis have not been critically defined. To examine this issue, we cross-bred atherosclerosis-prone apoE-deficient mice with mice deficient in either the TXA receptor (TP) or the PGI receptor (IP). Although they showed levels of serum cholesterol and triglyceride similar to those of apoE-deficient mice, apoE–/–TP–/– mice exhibited a significant delay in atherogenesis, and apoE–/–IP–/– mice exhibited a significant acceleration in atherogenesis compared with mice deficient in apoE alone. The plaques in apoE–/–IP–/– mice showed partial endothelial disruption and exhibited enhanced expression of ICAM-1 and decreased expression of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 (PECAM-1) in the overlying endothelial cells compared with those of apoE–/–TP–/– mice. Platelet activation with thrombin ex vivo revealed higher and lower sensitivity for surface P-selectin expression in platelets of apoE–/–IP–/– and apoE–/–TP–/– mice, respectively, than in those of apoE–/– mice. Intravital microscopy of the common carotid artery revealed a significantly greater number of leukocytes rolling on the vessel walls in apoE–/–IP–/– mice than in either apoE–/–TP–/– or apoE–/– mice. We conclude that TXA2 promotes and PGI2 prevents the initiation and progression of atherogenesis through control of platelet activation and leukocyte-endothelial cell interaction.
Takuya Kobayashi, Yoshio Tahara, Mayumi Matsumoto, Masako Iguchi, Hideto Sano, Toshinori Murayama, Hidenori Arai, Hiroji Oida, Takami Yurugi-Kobayashi, Jun K. Yamashita, Hiroyuki Katagiri, Masataka Majima, Masayuki Yokode, Toru Kita, Shuh Narumiya
Many adult organs contain stem cells, which are pluripotent and are involved in organ maintenance and repair after injury. In situ, these cells often have a low cycling rate and locate in specialized regions (niches). To detect such cells in the kidney, we administered a pulse of the nucleotide bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to rat and mouse pups and, after a long (more than 2-month) chase, examined whether the kidney contained a population of low-cycling cells. We found that in the adult kidney, BrdU-retaining cells were very sparse except in the renal papilla, where they were numerous. During the repair phase of transient renal ischemia, these cells entered the cell cycle and the BrdU signal quickly disappeared from the papilla, despite the absence of apoptosis in this part of the kidney. In vitro isolation of renal papillary cells showed them to have a plastic phenotype that could be modulated by oxygen tension and that when injected into the renal cortex, they incorporated into the renal parenchyma. In addition, like other stem cells, papillary cells spontaneously formed spheres. Single-cell clones of these cells coexpressed mesenchymal and epithelial proteins and gave rise to myofibroblasts, cells expressing neuronal markers, and cells of uncharacterized phenotype. These data indicate that the renal papilla is a niche for adult kidney stem cells.
Juan A. Oliver, Omar Maarouf, Faisal H. Cheema, Timothy P. Martens, Qais Al-Awqati
Persistent reduction of renal perfusion pressure induces renovascular hypertension by activating the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system; however, the sensing mechanism remains elusive. Here we investigated the role of PGI2 in renovascular hypertension in vivo, employing mice lacking the PGI2 receptor (IP–/– mice). In WT mice with a two-kidney, one-clip model of renovascular hypertension, the BP was significantly elevated. The increase in BP in IP–/– mice, however, was significantly lower than that in WT mice. Similarly, the increases in plasma renin activity, renal renin mRNA, and plasma aldosterone in response to renal artery stenosis were all significantly lower in IP–/– mice than in WT mice. All these parameters were measured in mice lacking the four PGE2 receptor subtypes individually, and we found that these mice had similar responses to WT mice. PGI2 is produced by COX-2 and a selective inhibitor of this enzyme, SC-58125, also significantly reduced the increases in plasma renin activity and renin mRNA expression in WT mice with renal artery stenosis, but these effects were absent in IP–/– mice. When the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system was activated by salt depletion, SC-58125 blunted the response in WT mice but not in IP–/– mice. These results indicate that PGI2 derived from COX-2 plays a critical role in regulating the release of renin and consequently renovascular hypertension in vivo.
Takayuki Fujino, Naoki Nakagawa, Koh-ichi Yuhki, Akiyoshi Hara, Takehiro Yamada, Koji Takayama, Shuhko Kuriyama, Yayoi Hosoki, Osamu Takahata, Takanobu Taniguchi, Jun Fukuzawa, Naoyuki Hasebe, Kenjiro Kikuchi, Shuh Narumiya, Fumitaka Ushikubi
The ABC transporters ABCG5 and ABCG8 limit absorption and promote excretion of dietary plant sterols. It is not known why plant sterols are so assiduously excluded from the body. Here we show that accumulation of plant sterols in mice lacking ABCG5 and ABCG8 (G5G8–/– mice) profoundly perturbs cholesterol homeostasis in the adrenal gland. The adrenal glands of the G5G8–/– mice were grossly abnormal in appearance (brown, not white) due to a 91% reduction in cholesterol content. Despite the very low cholesterol levels, there was no compensatory increase in cholesterol synthesis or in lipoprotein receptor expression. Moreover, levels of ABCA1, which mediates sterol efflux, were increased 10-fold in the G5G8–/– adrenals. Adrenal cholesterol levels returned to near-normal levels in mice treated with ezetimibe, which blocks phytosterol absorption. To determine which plant sterol(s) caused the metabolic changes, we examined the effects of individual plant sterols on cholesterol metabolism in cultured adrenal cells. Addition of stigmasterol, but not sitosterol, inhibited SREBP-2 processing and reduced cholesterol synthesis. Stigmasterol also activated the liver X receptor in a cell-based reporter assay. These data indicate that selected dietary plant sterols disrupt cholesterol homeostasis by affecting two critical regulatory pathways of lipid metabolism.
Chendong Yang, Liqing Yu, Weiping Li, Fang Xu, Jonathan C. Cohen, Helen H. Hobbs
Insulin resistance plays a primary role in the development of type 2 diabetes and may be related to alterations in fat metabolism. Recent studies have suggested that local accumulation of fat metabolites inside skeletal muscle may activate a serine kinase cascade involving protein kinase C–θ (PKC-θ), leading to defects in insulin signaling and glucose transport in skeletal muscle. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether mice with inactivation of PKC-θ are protected from fat-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle and hepatic insulin action as assessed during hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps did not differ between WT and PKC-θ KO mice following saline infusion. A 5-hour lipid infusion decreased insulin-stimulated skeletal muscle glucose uptake in the WT mice that was associated with 40–50% decreases in insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate–1 (IRS-1) and IRS-1–associated PI3K activity. In contrast, PKC-θ inactivation prevented fat-induced defects in insulin signaling and glucose transport in skeletal muscle. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that PKC-θ is a crucial component mediating fat-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and suggest that PKC-θ is a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Jason K. Kim, Jonathan J. Fillmore, Mary Jean Sunshine, Bjoern Albrecht, Takamasa Higashimori, Dong-Wook Kim, Zhen-Xiang Liu, Timothy J. Soos, Gary W. Cline, William R. O’Brien, Dan R. Littman, Gerald I. Shulman
Inadequate compensatory β cell hyperplasia in insulin-resistant states triggers the development of overt diabetes. The mechanisms that underlie this crucial adaptive response are not fully defined. Here we show that the compensatory islet-growth response to insulin resistance in 2 models — insulin receptor (IR)/IR substrate–1 (IRS-1) double heterozygous mice and liver-specific IR KO (LIRKO) mice — is severely restricted by PDX-1 heterozygosity. Six-month-old IR/IRS-1 and LIRKO mice both showed up to a 10-fold increase in β cell mass, which involved epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. In both models, superimposition of PDX-1 haploinsufficiency upon the background of insulin resistance completely abrogated the adaptive islet hyperplastic response, and instead the β cells showed apoptosis resulting in premature death of the mice. This study shows that, in postdevelopmental states of β cell growth, PDX-1 is a critical regulator of β cell replication and is required for the compensatory response to insulin resistance.
Rohit N. Kulkarni, Ulupi S. Jhala, Jonathon N. Winnay, Stan Krajewski, Marc Montminy, C. Ronald Kahn
Complex I deficiency, the most common respiratory chain defect, is genetically heterogeneous: mutations in 8 nuclear and 7 mitochondrial DNA genes encoding complex I subunits have been described. However, these genes account for disease in only a minority of complex I–deficient patients. We investigated whether there may be an unknown common gene by performing functional complementation analysis of cell lines from 10 unrelated patients. Two of the patients were found to have mitochondrial DNA mutations. The other 8 represented 7 different (nuclear) complementation groups, all but 1 of which showed abnormalities of complex I assembly. It is thus unlikely that any one unknown gene accounts for a large proportion of complex I cases. The 2 patients sharing a nuclear complementation group had a similar abnormal complex I assembly profile and were studied further by homozygosity mapping, chromosome transfers, and microarray expression analysis. NDUFS6, a complex I subunit gene not previously associated with complex I deficiency, was grossly underexpressed in the 2 patient cell lines. Both patients had homozygous mutations in this gene, one causing a splicing abnormality and the other a large deletion. This integrated approach to gene identification offers promise for identifying other unknown causes of respiratory chain disorders.
Denise M. Kirby, Renato Salemi, Canny Sugiana, Akira Ohtake, Lee Parry, Katrina M. Bell, Edwin P. Kirk, Avihu Boneh, Robert W. Taylor, Hans-Henrik M. Dahl, Michael T. Ryan, David R. Thorburn
Allograft vascular dysfunction predisposes to arteriosclerosis and graft loss. We examined how dysfunction develops in transplanted human arteries in response to circulating allogeneic T cells in vivo using immunodeficient murine hosts. Within 7–9 days, transplanted arteries developed endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction but remained sensitive to exogenous NO. By 2 weeks, the grafts developed impaired contractility and desensitization to NO, both signs of VSMC dysfunction. These T cell–dependent changes correlated with loss of eNOS and expression of iNOS — the latter predominantly within infiltrating T cells. Neutralizing IFN-γ completely prevented both vascular dysfunction and changes in NOS expression; neutralizing TNF reduced IFN-γ production and partially prevented dysfunction. Inhibiting iNOS partially preserved responses to NO at 2 weeks and reduced graft intimal expansion after 4 weeks in vivo. In vitro, memory CD4+ T cells acted on allogeneic cultured ECs to reduce eNOS activity and expression of protein and mRNA. These effects required T cell activation by class II MHC antigens and costimulators (principally lymphocyte function-associated antigen–3, or LFA-3) on the ECs and were mediated by production of soluble mediators including IFN-γ and TNF. We conclude that IFN-γ is a central mediator of vascular dysfunction and, through dysregulation of NOS expression, links early dysfunction with late arteriosclerosis.
Kian Peng Koh, Yinong Wang, Tai Yi, Stephen L. Shiao, Marc I. Lorber, William C. Sessa, George Tellides, Jordan S. Pober
A serine/threonine protein kinase, Cot/Tpl2, is indispensable for extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) activation and production of TNF-α and PGE2 in LPS-stimulated macrophages. We show here that Cot/Tpl2 is also activated by other Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands. Bacterial DNA rich in the dinucleotide CG (CpG-DNA), unlike LPS or synthetic lipopeptide, activated ERK in a Cot/Tpl2–independent manner. Peritoneal macrophages and bone marrow–derived DCs from Cot/Tpl2–/– mice produced significantly more IL-12 in response to CpG-DNA than those from WT mice. Enhanced IL-12 production in Cot/Tpl2–/– macrophages is, at least partly, regulated at the transcriptional level, and the elevated IL-12 mRNA level in Cot/Tpl2–/– macrophages is accompanied by decreased amounts of IL-12 repressors, such as c-musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma (c-Maf) and GATA sequence in the IL-12 promoter–binding protein (GA-12–binding protein; GAP-12) in the nucleus. Consistently, Cot/Tpl2–/– mice showed Th1-skewed antigen-specific immune responses upon OVA immunization and Leishmania major infection in vivo. These results indicate that Cot/Tpl2 is an important negative regulator of Th1-type adaptive immunity, that it achieves this regulation by inhibiting IL-12 production from accessory cells, and that it might be a potential target molecule in CpG-DNA–guided vaccination.
Kenji Sugimoto, Mutsuhiro Ohata, Jun Miyoshi, Hiroyoshi Ishizaki, Naotake Tsuboi, Akio Masuda, Yasunobu Yoshikai, Masaya Takamoto, Kazuo Sugane, Seiichi Matsuo, Yasuhiro Shimada, Tetsuya Matsuguchi