Computational modeling guides tissue-engineered heart valve design for long-term in vivo performance in a translational sheep model

Content introduction:

  • Computational modeling guides tissue-engineered heart valve design for long-term in vivo performance in a translational sheep model
  • Survival of syngeneic and allogeneic iPSC–derived neural precursors after spinal grafting in minipigs
  • High-throughput sequencing of the T cell receptor β gene identifies aggressive early-stage mycosis fungoides
  • PGD2/DP2 receptor activation promotes severe viral bronchiolitis by suppressing IFN-λ production
  • Global assessment of its network dynamics reveals that the kinase Plk1 inhibits the phosphatase PP6 to promote Aurora A activity

1. Computational modeling guides tissue-engineered heart valve design for long-term in vivo performance in a translational sheep model

Valvular heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Current heart valve prostheses have considerable clinical limitations due to their artificial, nonliving nature without regenerative capacity. To overcome these limitations, heart valve tissue engineering (TE) aiming to develop living, native-like heart valves with self-repair, remodeling, and regeneration capacity has been suggested as next-generation technology. A major roadblock to clinically relevant, safe, and robust TE solutions has been the high complexity and variability inherent to bioengineering approaches that rely on cell-driven tissue remodeling. For heart valve TE, this has limited long-term performance in vivo because of uncontrolled tissue remodeling phenomena, such as valve leaflet shortening, which often translates into valve failure regardless of the bioengineering methodology used to develop the implant. Maximilian Y. Emmert at University of Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland and his colleagues tested the hypothesis that integration of a computationally inspired heart valve design into their TE methodologies could guide tissue remodeling toward long-term functionality in tissue-engineered heart valves (TEHVs). In a clinically and regulatory relevant sheep model, TEHVs implanted as pulmonary valve replacements using minimally invasive techniques were monitored for 1 year via multimodal in vivo imaging and comprehensive tissue remodeling assessments. TEHVs exhibited good preserved long-term in vivo performance and remodeling comparable to native heart valves, as predicted by and consistent with computational modeling. TEHV failure could be predicted for nonphysiological pressure loading. Beyond previous studies, this work suggests the relevance of an integrated in silico, in vitro, and in vivo bioengineering approach as a basis for the safe and efficient clinical translation of TEHVs.


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2. Survival of syngeneic and allogeneic iPSC–derived neural precursors after spinal grafting in minipigs

The use of autologous (or syngeneic) cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) holds great promise for future clinical use in a wide range of diseases and injuries. It is expected that cell replacement therapies using autologous cells would forego the need for immunosuppression, otherwise required in allogeneic transplantations. However, recent studies have shown the unexpected immune rejection of undifferentiated autologous mouse iPSCs after transplantation. Whether similar immunogenic properties are maintained in iPSC-derived lineage-committed cells (such as neural precursors) is relatively unknown. Jan Strnadel at University of California in San Diego, USA and his colleagues demonstrate that syngeneic porcine iPSC-derived neural precursor cell (NPC) transplantation to the spinal cord in the absence of immunosuppression is associated with long-term survival and neuronal and glial differentiation. No tumor formation was noted. Similar cell engraftment and differentiation were shown in spinally injured transiently immunosuppressed swine leukocyte antigen (SLA)–mismatched allogeneic pigs. These data demonstrate that iPSC-NPCs can be grafted into syngeneic recipients in the absence of immunosuppression and that temporary immunosuppression is sufficient to induce long-term immune tolerance after NPC engraftment into spinally injured allogeneic recipients. Collectively, their results show that iPSC-NPCs represent an alternative source of transplantable NPCs for the treatment of a variety of disorders affecting the spinal cord, including trauma, ischemia, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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3. High-throughput sequencing of the T cell receptor β gene identifies aggressive early-stage mycosis fungoides

Mycosis fungoides (MF), the most common cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a malignancy of skin-tropic memory T cells. Most MF cases present as early stage (stage I A/B, limited to the skin), and these patients typically have a chronic, indolent clinical course. However, a small subset of early-stage cases develop progressive and fatal disease. Because outcomes can be so different, early identification of this high-risk population is an urgent unmet clinical need. Adele de Masson at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA and his colleagues evaluated the use of next-generation high-throughput DNA sequencing of the T cell receptor β gene (TCRB) in lesional skin biopsies to predict progression and survival in a discovery cohort of 208 patients with CTCL (177 with MF) from a 15-year longitudinal observational clinical study. They compared these data to the results in an independent validation cohort of 101 CTCL patients (87 with MF). The tumor clone frequency (TCF) in lesional skin, measured by high-throughput sequencing of the TCRB gene, was an independent prognostic factor of both progression-free and overall survival in patients with CTCL and MF in particular. In early-stage patients, a TCF of >25% in the skin was a stronger predictor of progression than any other established prognostic factor (stage IB versus IA, presence of plaques, high blood lactate dehydrogenase concentration, large-cell transformation, or age). The TCF therefore may accurately predict disease progression in early-stage MF. Early identification of patients at high risk for progression could help identify candidates who may benefit from allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation before their disease becomes treatment-refractory.

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4. PGD2/DP2 receptor activation promotes severe viral bronchiolitis by suppressing IFN-λ production

Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) signals through PGD2 receptor 2 (DP2, also known as CRTH2) on type 2 effector cells to promote asthma pathogenesis; however, little is known about its role during respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis, a major risk factor for asthma development. Rhiannon B. Werder at University of Queensland in Queensland, Australia and his colleagues show that RSV infection up-regulated hematopoietic prostaglandin D synthase expression and increased PGD2 release by cultured human primary airway epithelial cells (AECs). Moreover, PGD2 production was elevated in nasopharyngeal samples from young infants hospitalized with RSV bronchiolitis compared to healthy controls. In a neonatal mouse model of severe viral bronchiolitis, DP2 antagonism decreased viral load, immunopathology, and morbidity and ablated the predisposition for subsequent asthma onset in later life. This protective response was abolished upon dual DP1/DP2 antagonism and replicated with a specific DP1 agonist. Rather than mediating an effect via type 2 inflammation, the beneficial effects of DP2 blockade or DP1 agonism were associated with increased interferon-λ (IFN-λ) [interleukin-28A/B (IL-28A/B)] expression and were lost upon IL-28A neutralization. In RSV-infected AEC cultures, DP1 activation up-regulated IFN-λ production, which, in turn, increased IFN-stimulated gene expression, accelerating viral clearance. Their findings suggest that DP2 antagonists or DP1 agonists may be useful antivirals for the treatment of viral bronchiolitis and possibly as primary preventatives for asthma.

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5. Global assessment of its network dynamics reveals that the kinase Plk1 inhibits the phosphatase PP6 to promote Aurora A activity

Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is an essential protein kinase that promotes faithful mitotic progression in eukaryotes. The subcellular localization and substrate interactions of Plk1 are tightly controlled and require its binding to phosphorylated residues. To identify phosphorylation-dependent interactions within the Plk1 network in human mitotic cells, Arminja N. Kettenbach at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, USA and his colleagues performed quantitative proteomics on HeLa cells cultured with kinase inhibitors or expressing a Plk1 mutant that was deficient in phosphorylation-dependent substrate binding. They found that many interactions were abolished upon kinase inhibition; however, a subset was protected from phosphatase opposition or was unopposed, resulting in persistent interaction of the substrate with Plk1. This subset includes phosphoprotein phosphatase 6 (PP6), whose activity toward Aurora kinase A (Aurora A) was inhibited by Plk1. Their data suggest that this Plk1-PP6 interaction generates a feedback loop that coordinates and reinforces the activities of Plk1 and Aurora A during mitotic entry and is terminated by the degradation of Plk1 during mitotic exit. Thus, they have identified a mechanism for the previously puzzling observation of the Plk1-dependent regulation of Aurora A.

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