1. Targeted apoptosis of myofibroblasts with the BH3 mimetic ABT-263 reverses established fibrosis.
Persistent myofibroblast activation distinguishes pathological fibrosis from physiological wound healing, suggesting that therapies selectively inducing myofibroblast apoptosis could prevent progression and potentially reverse established fibrosis in diseases such as scleroderma, a heterogeneous autoimmune disease characterized by multiorgan fibrosis. David Lagares at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA and his colleagues demonstrate that fibroblast-to-myofibroblast differentiation driven by matrix stiffness increases the mitochondrial priming (proximity to the apoptotic threshold) of these activated cells. Mitochondria in activated myofibroblasts, but not quiescent fibroblasts, are primed by death signals such as the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM, which creates a requirement for tonic expression of the antiapoptotic protein BCL-XL to sequester BIM and ensure myofibroblast survival. Myofibroblasts become particularly susceptible to apoptosis induced by “BH3 mimetic” drugs inhibiting BCL-XL such as ABT-263. ABT-263 displaces BCL-XL binding to BIM, allowing BIM to activate apoptosis on stiffness-primed myofibroblasts. Therapeutic blockade of BCL-XL with ABT-263 (navitoclax) effectively treats established fibrosis in a mouse model of scleroderma dermal fibrosis by inducing myofibroblast apoptosis. Using a BH3 profiling assay to assess mitochondrial priming in dermal fibroblasts derived from patients with scleroderma, we demonstrate that the extent of apoptosis induced by BH3 mimetic drugs correlates with the extent of their mitochondrial priming, indicating that BH3 profiling could predict apoptotic responses of fibroblasts to BH3 mimetic drugs in patients with scleroderma. Together, their findings elucidate the potential efficacy of targeting myofibroblast antiapoptotic proteins with BH3 mimetic drugs in scleroderma and other fibrotic diseases.
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2.Urine lipoarabinomannan glycan in HIV-negative patients with pulmonary tuberculosis correlates with disease severity.
An accurate urine test for pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), affecting 9.6 million patients worldwide, is critically needed for surveillance and treatment management. Past attempts failed to reliably detect the mycobacterial glycan antigen lipoarabinomannan (LAM), a marker of active TB, in HIV-negative, pulmonary TB–infected patients’ urine (85% of 9.6 million patients). Luisa Paris at George Mason University in Manassas, USA and her colleagues apply a copper complex dye within a hydrogel nanocage that captures LAM with very high affinity, displacing interfering urine proteins. The technology was applied to study pretreatment urine from 48 Peruvian patients, all negative for HIV, with microbiologically confirmed active pulmonary TB. LAM was quantitatively measured in the urine with a sensitivity of >95% and a specificity of >80% (n = 101) in a concentration range of 14 to 2000 picograms per milliliter, as compared to non-TB, healthy and diseased, age-matched controls (evaluated by receiver operating characteristic analysis; area under the curve, 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.9005 to 0.9957). Urinary LAM was elevated in patients with a higher mycobacterial burden (n = 42), a higher proportion of weight loss (n = 37), or cough (n = 50). The technology can be configured in a variety of formats to detect a panel of previously undetectable very-low-abundance TB urinary analytes. Eight of nine patients who were smear-negative and culture-positive for TB tested positive for urinary LAM. This technology has broad implications for pulmonary TB screening, transmission control, and treatment management for HIV-negative patients.
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3.Durability and correlates of vaccine protection against Zika virus in rhesus monkeys.
An effective Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine will require long-term durable protection. Several ZIKV vaccine candidates have demonstrated protective efficacy in nonhuman primates, but these studies have typically involved ZIKV challenge shortly after vaccination at peak immunity. Peter Abbink at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA and his colleagues show that a single immunization with an adenovirus vector–based vaccine, as well as two immunizations with a purified inactivated virus vaccine, afforded robust protection against ZIKV challenge in rhesus monkeys at 1 year after vaccination. In contrast, two immunizations with an optimized DNA vaccine, which provided complete protection at peak immunity, resulted in reduced protective efficacy at 1 year that was associated with declining neutralizing antibody titers to subprotective levels. These data define a microneutralization log titer of 2.0 to 2.1 as the threshold required for durable protection against ZIKV challenge in this model. Moreover, their findings demonstrate that protection against ZIKV challenge in rhesus monkeys is possible for at least 1 year with a single-shot vaccine.
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4.Aging impairs both primary and secondary RIG-I signaling for interferon induction in human monocytes.
Adults older than 65 account for most of the deaths caused by respiratory influenza A virus (IAV) infections, but the underlying mechanisms for this susceptibility are poorly understood. IAV RNA is detected by the cytosolic sensor retinoic acid–inducible gene I (RIG-I), which induces the production of type I interferons (IFNs) that curtail the spread of the virus and promote the elimination of infected cells. Ryan D. Molony at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, USA and his colleagues have previously identified a marked defect in the IAV-inducible secretion of type I IFNs, but not proinflammatory cytokines, in monocytes from older (>65 years) healthy human donors. They found that monocytes from older adults exhibited decreased abundance of the adaptor protein TRAF3 (tumor necrosis factor receptor–associated factor 3) because of its increased proteasomal degradation with age, thereby impairing the primary RIG-I signaling pathway for the induction of type I IFNs. They determined that monocytes from older adults also failed to effectively stimulate the production of the IFN regulatory transcription factor IRF8, which compromised IFN induction through secondary RIG-I signaling. IRF8 played a central role in IFN induction in monocytes, because knocking down IRF8 in monocytes from younger adults was sufficient to replicate the IFN defects observed in monocytes from older adults, whereas restoring IRF8 expression in older adult monocytes was sufficient to restore RIG-I–induced IFN responses. Aging thus compromises both the primary and secondary RIG-I signaling pathways that govern expression of type I IFN genes, thereby impairing antiviral resistance to IAV.
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5.C-reactive protein promotes bone destruction in human myeloma through the CD32–p38 MAPK–Twist axis.
Bone destruction is a hallmark of myeloma and affects 80% of patients. Myeloma cells promote bone destruction by activating osteoclasts. In investigating the underlying mechanism, Jing Yang at Affiliated Cancer Hospital and Institute of Guangzhou Medical University in Guangzhou, China and her colleagues found that C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein secreted in increased amounts by hepatocytes in response to myeloma-derived cytokines, activated myeloma cells to promote osteoclastogenesis and bone destruction in vivo. In mice bearing human bone grafts and injected with multiple myeloma cells, CRP bound to surface CD32 (also known as FcγRII) on myeloma cells, which activated a pathway mediated by the kinase p38 MAPK and the transcription factor Twist that enhanced the cells’ secretion of osteolytic cytokines. Furthermore, analysis of clinical samples from newly diagnosed myeloma patients revealed a positive correlation between the amount of serum CRP and the number of osteolytic bone lesions. These findings establish a mechanism by which myeloma cells are activated to promote bone destruction and suggest that CRP may be targeted to prevent or treat myeloma-associated bone disease in patients.
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