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Topical Collection "Feature Papers in Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics"

Editor

Prof. Dr. Kurt A. Jellinger
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Institute of Clinical Neurobiology, Alberichgasse 5/13, A1150 Wien, Austria
Interests: Alzheimer disease; classification of proteinopathies; dementia; dementia with Lewy bodies; immunohistochemistry; Lewy bodies; mild cognitve impairment; movement disorders; multiple system atrophy; neurodegeneration; neuropathology; Parkinson disease; pathogenesis of dementia and movement disorders; pathology and diagnosis of dementia and movement disorders; tau-pathology; vascular dementia; α-synuclein pathology
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Dear Colleagues,

 “Feature Papers in Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics” aims to collect high-quality research articles, communications, and review articles in the cutting-edge field of pathology, diagnostics, and therapeutics science. We encourage Editorial Board Members of this Section of International Journal of Molecular Sciences to contribute feature papers reflecting the latest progress in their research field or to invite relevant experts and colleagues to do so.

Prof. Dr. Kurt A. Jellinger
Collection Editor

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Published Papers (89 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021

Article
A Novel Cell-Based Model for a Rare Disease: The Tks4-KO Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line as a Frank-Ter Haar Syndrome Model System
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(15), 8803; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23158803 - 08 Aug 2022
Viewed by 237
Abstract
Tyrosine kinase substrate with four SH3 domains (Tks4) scaffold protein plays roles in cell migration and podosome formation and regulates systemic mechanisms such as adult bone homeostasis and adipogenesis. Mutations in the Tks4 gene (SH3PXD2b) cause a rare developmental disorder called [...] Read more.
Tyrosine kinase substrate with four SH3 domains (Tks4) scaffold protein plays roles in cell migration and podosome formation and regulates systemic mechanisms such as adult bone homeostasis and adipogenesis. Mutations in the Tks4 gene (SH3PXD2b) cause a rare developmental disorder called Frank-Ter Haar syndrome (FTHS), which leads to heart abnormalities, bone tissue defects, and reduced adiposity. We aimed to produce a human stem cell-based in vitro FTHS model system to study the effects of the loss of the Tks4 protein in different cell lineages and the accompanying effects on the cell signalome. To this end, we used CRISPR/Cas9 (clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR associated (Cas9)) to knock out the SH3PXD2b gene in the HUES9 human embryonic stem cell line (hESC), and we obtained stable homo- and heterozygous knock out clones for use in studying the potential regulatory roles of Tks4 protein in embryonic stem cell biology. Based on pluripotency marker measurements and spontaneous differentiation capacity assays, we concluded that the newly generated Tks4-KO HUES9 cells retained their embryonic stem cell characteristics. We propose that the Tks4-KO HUES9 cells could serve as a tool for further cell differentiation studies to investigate the involvement of Tks4 in the complex disorder FTHS. Moreover, we successfully differentiated all of the clones into mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The derived MSC cultures showed mesenchymal morphology and expressed MSC markers, although the expression levels of mesodermal and osteogenic marker genes were reduced, and several EMT (epithelial mesenchymal transition)-related features were altered in the Tks4-KO MSCs. Our results suggest that the loss of Tks4 leads to FTHS by altering cell lineage differentiation and cell maturation processes, rather than by regulating embryonic stem cell potential. Full article
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Article
Functional Characterization of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Endothelial Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(15), 8507; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23158507 - 31 Jul 2022
Viewed by 350
Abstract
Endothelial cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-ECs) provide a new opportunity for mechanistic research on vascular regeneration and drug screening. However, functions of hiPSC-ECs still need to be characterized. The objective of this study was to investigate electrophysiological and functional [...] Read more.
Endothelial cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-ECs) provide a new opportunity for mechanistic research on vascular regeneration and drug screening. However, functions of hiPSC-ECs still need to be characterized. The objective of this study was to investigate electrophysiological and functional properties of hiPSC-ECs compared with primary human cardiac microvascular endothelial cells (HCMECs), mainly focusing on ion channels and membrane receptor signaling, as well as specific cell functions. HiPSC-ECs were derived from hiPS cells that were generated from human skin fibroblasts of three independent healthy donors. Phenotypic and functional comparison to HCMECs was performed by flow cytometry, immunofluorescence staining, quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), tube formation, LDL uptake, exosome release assays and, importantly, patch clamp techniques. HiPSC-ECs were successfully generated from hiPS cells and were identified by endothelial markers. The mRNA levels of KCNN2, KCNN4, KCNMA1, TRPV2, and SLC8A1 in hiPSC-ECs were significantly higher than HCMECs. AT1 receptor mRNA level in hiPSC-ECs was higher than in HCMECs. AT2 receptor mRNA level was the highest among all receptors. Adrenoceptor ADRA2 expression in hiPSC-ECs was lower than in HCMECs, while ADRA1, ADRB1, ADRB2, and G-protein GNA11 and Gai expression were similar in both cell types. The expression level of muscarinic and dopamine receptors CHRM3, DRD2, DRD3, and DRD4 in hiPSC-ECs were significantly lower than in HCMECs. The functional characteristics of endothelial cells, such as tube formation and LDL uptake assay, were not statistically different between hiPSC-ECs and HCMECs. Phenylephrine similarly increased the release of the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1) in hiPSC-ECs and HCMECs. Acetylcholine also similarly increased nitric oxide generation in hiPSC-ECs and HCMECs. The resting potentials (RPs), ISK1–3, ISK4 and IK1 were similar in hiPSC-ECs and HCMECs. IBK was larger and IKATP was smaller in hiPSC-ECs. In addition, we also noted a higher expression level of exosomes marker CD81 in hiPSC-ECs and a higher expression of CD9 and CD63 in HCMECs. However, the numbers of exosomes extracted from both types of cells did not differ significantly. The study demonstrates that hiPSC-ECs are similar to native endothelial cells in ion channel function and membrane receptor-coupled signaling and physiological cell functions, although some differences exist. This information may be helpful for research using hiPSC-ECs. Full article
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Article
Low-Dose Tacrolimus Promotes the Migration and Invasion and Nitric Oxide Production in the Human-Derived First Trimester Extravillous Trophoblast Cells In Vitro
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(15), 8426; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23158426 - 29 Jul 2022
Viewed by 304
Abstract
Placentation is one of the most important determinants for a successful pregnancy, and this is dependent on the process of trophoblast migration and invasion. Progesterone receptors (PGR) are critical effectors of progesterone (P4) signaling that is required for trophoblast migration and invasion conducive [...] Read more.
Placentation is one of the most important determinants for a successful pregnancy, and this is dependent on the process of trophoblast migration and invasion. Progesterone receptors (PGR) are critical effectors of progesterone (P4) signaling that is required for trophoblast migration and invasion conducive to a successful gestation. In immune complicated pregnancies, evidence has shown that abnormal placentation occurs because of aberrant expression of PGR. Therapeutic intervention with tacrolimus (FK506) was able to restore PGR expression and improve pregnancy outcomes in immune-complicated gestations; however, the exact mode of action of tacrolimus in assisting placentation is not clear. Here, we attempt to uncover the mode of action of tacrolimus by examining its effects on trophoblast invasion and migration in the human-derived extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cell line, the HTR-8/SVneo cells. Using a variety of functional assays, we demonstrated that low-dose tacrolimus (10 ng/mL) was sufficient to significantly (p < 0.001) stimulate the migration and invasion of the HTR-8/SVneo cells, inducing their cytosolic/nuclear progesterone receptor expression and activation, and modulating their Nitric Oxide (NO) production. Moreover, tacrolimus abrogated the suppressive effect of the NOS inhibitor Nω- Nitro-L-Arginine Methyl Ester (L-NAME) on these vital processes critically involved in the establishment of human pregnancy. Collectively, our data suggest an immune-independent mode of action of tacrolimus in positively influencing placentation in complicated gestations, at least in part, through promoting the migration and invasion of the first trimester extravillous trophoblast cells by modulating their NO production and activating their cytosolic/nuclear progesterone-receptors. To our knowledge, this is the first report to show that the mode of action of tacrolimus as a monotherapy for implantation failure is plausibly PGR-dependent. Full article
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Article
Catalytic Antibodies in Bipolar Disorder: Serum IgGs Hydrolyze Myelin Basic Protein
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7397; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137397 - 02 Jul 2022
Viewed by 467
Abstract
The pathogenesis of bipolar affective disorder is associated with immunological imbalances, a general pro-inflammatory status, neuroinflammation, and impaired white matter integrity. Myelin basic protein (MBP) is one of the major proteins in the myelin sheath of brain oligodendrocytes. For the first time, we [...] Read more.
The pathogenesis of bipolar affective disorder is associated with immunological imbalances, a general pro-inflammatory status, neuroinflammation, and impaired white matter integrity. Myelin basic protein (MBP) is one of the major proteins in the myelin sheath of brain oligodendrocytes. For the first time, we have shown that IgGs isolated from sera of bipolar patients can effectively hydrolyze human myelin basic protein (MBP), unlike other test proteins. Several stringent criteria were applied to assign the studied activity to serum IgG. The level of MBP-hydrolyzing activity of IgG from patients with bipolar disorder was statistically significantly 1.6-folds higher than that of healthy individuals. This article presents a detailed characterization of the catalytic properties of MBP-hydrolyzing antibodies in bipolar disorder, including the substrate specificity, inhibitory analysis, pH dependence of hydrolysis, and kinetic parameters of IgG-dependent MBP hydrolysis, providing the heterogeneity of polyclonal MBP-hydrolyzing IgGs and their difference from canonical proteases. The ability of serum IgG to hydrolyze MBP in bipolar disorder may become an additional link between the processes of myelin damage and inflammation. Full article
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Article
TAS2R38 Bitter Taste Receptor Expression in Chronic Rhinosinusitis with Nasal Polyps: New Data on Polypoid Tissue
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7345; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137345 - 01 Jul 2022
Viewed by 444
Abstract
Studies have shown differences in TAS2R38 receptor expression in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) compared to healthy controls. Known agonists of TAS2R38 stimulate epithelial cells, leading to robust intracellular nitric oxide (NO) production, which damages bacterial membranes, enzymes, and DNA, but also increases [...] Read more.
Studies have shown differences in TAS2R38 receptor expression in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) compared to healthy controls. Known agonists of TAS2R38 stimulate epithelial cells, leading to robust intracellular nitric oxide (NO) production, which damages bacterial membranes, enzymes, and DNA, but also increases ciliary beat frequency. In this study we examined, using qRT-PCR, the expression of TAS2R38 receptor in nasal polyps (NP) of patients with CRS (N = 107) and in inferior turbinate mucosa (ITM) of patients with CRS and controls (N = 39), and confronted it with clinical features and the severity of the disease. The expression was shown in 43 (50.00%) samples of ITM in the study group (N = 107), in 28 (71.79%) in the control group (N = 39) (p = 0.037), and in 43 (46.24%) of NP. There were no differences in levels of the expression in all analyzed tissues. Patients who rated their symptoms at 0–3 showed higher TAS2R38 expression in ITM in comparison to the patients with 8–10 points on the VAS scale (p = 0.020). A noticeable, however not significant, correlation between the TAS2R38 expression in ITM and the Lund–Mackay CT score was shown (p = 0.068; R = −0.28). Patients with coexisting asthma had significantly higher receptor expression in the NP (p = 0.012). Our study is the first to confirm the presence of the TAS2R38 receptor in NP. Expression of the TAS2R38 receptor is reduced in the sinonasal mucosa in patients with more advanced CRS with NP. Full article
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Article
Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) as Partaker in the Modulation of UV-Response in Cultured Human Conjunctival Fibroblasts
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(11), 6337; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23116337 - 06 Jun 2022
Viewed by 620
Abstract
Corroborating data sustain the pleiotropic effect of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the protection of the visual system from dangerous stimuli, including ultraviolet (UV). Since UV exposure might promote ocular surface changes (conjunctival inflammation and matrix rearrangement), as previously reported from in vivo [...] Read more.
Corroborating data sustain the pleiotropic effect of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the protection of the visual system from dangerous stimuli, including ultraviolet (UV). Since UV exposure might promote ocular surface changes (conjunctival inflammation and matrix rearrangement), as previously reported from in vivo studies sustaining some protective NGF effects, in vitro cultures of human conjunctival fibroblasts (FBs) were developed and exposed to a single UV exposure over 15 min (0.277 W/m2), either alone or supplemented with NGF (1–10–100 ng/mL). Conditioned media and cell monolayers were collected and analyzed for protein release (ELISA, ELLA microfluidic) and transcript expression (real-time PCR). A specific “inflammatory to remodeling” pattern (IL8, VEGF, IL33, OPN, and CYR61) as well as a few epigenetic transcripts (known as modulator of cell differentiation and matrix-remodeling (DNMT3a, HDAC1, NRF2 and KEAP1)) were investigated in parallel. UV-exposed FBs (i), showed no proliferation or significant cytoskeleton rearrangement; (ii), displayed a trkANGFR/p75NTR phenotype; and (iii), synthesized/released IL8, VEGF-A, IL33, OPN, and CYR61, as compared to unexposed ones. NGF addition counteracted IL8, IL33, OPN, and CYR61 protein release merely at lower NGF concentrations but not VEGF. NGF supplementation did not affect DNMT3a or HDAC1 transcripts, while it significantly upregulated NRF2 at lowest NGF doses and did not change KEAP1 expression. Taken together, a single UV exposure activated conjunctival FBs to release pro-inflammatory/fibrogenic factors in association with epigenetic changes. The effects were selectively counteracted by NGF supplementation in a dose-dependent fashion, most probably accountable to the trkANGFR/p75NTR phenotype. Further in vitro studies are underway to better understand this additional NGF pleiotropic effect. Since UV-shield impairments represent a worldwide alert and UV radiation can slowly affect ocular surface homeostasis (photo-ageing, cataract) or might exacerbate ocular diseases with a preexisting fibrosis (pterygium, VKC), these findings on NGF modulation of UV-exposed FBs might provide additional information for protecting the ocular surface (homeostasis) from low-grade long-lasting UV insults. Full article
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Review
MITF in Normal Melanocytes, Cutaneous and Uveal Melanoma: A Delicate Balance
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(11), 6001; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23116001 - 26 May 2022
Viewed by 509
Abstract
Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is an important regulator of melanogenesis and melanocyte development. Although it has been studied extensively in cutaneous melanoma, the role of MITF in uveal melanoma (UM) has not been explored in much detail. We review the literature about the [...] Read more.
Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is an important regulator of melanogenesis and melanocyte development. Although it has been studied extensively in cutaneous melanoma, the role of MITF in uveal melanoma (UM) has not been explored in much detail. We review the literature about the role of MITF in normal melanocytes, in cutaneous melanoma, and in UM. In normal melanocytes, MITF regulates melanocyte development, melanin synthesis, and melanocyte survival. The expression profile and the behaviour of MITF-expressing cells suggest that MITF promotes local proliferation and inhibits invasion, inflammation, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transition. Loss of MITF expression leads to increased invasion and inflammation and is more prevalent in malignant cells. Cutaneous melanoma cells switch between MITF-high and MITF-low states in different phases of tumour development. In UM, MITF loss is associated with loss of BAP1 protein expression, which is a marker of poor prognosis. These data indicate a dual role for MITF in benign and malignant melanocytic cells. Full article
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Review
Monoclonal Antibodies and Invasive Aspergillosis: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Perspectives
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(10), 5563; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23105563 - 16 May 2022
Viewed by 511
Abstract
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a life-threatening fungal disease that causes high morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed patients. Early and accurate diagnosis and treatment of IA remain challenging. Given the broad range of non-specific clinical symptoms and the shortcomings of current diagnostic techniques, most [...] Read more.
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a life-threatening fungal disease that causes high morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed patients. Early and accurate diagnosis and treatment of IA remain challenging. Given the broad range of non-specific clinical symptoms and the shortcomings of current diagnostic techniques, most patients are either diagnosed as “possible” or “probable” cases but not “proven”. Moreover, because of the lack of sensitive and specific tests, many high-risk patients receive an empirical therapy or a prolonged treatment of high-priced antifungal agents, leading to unnecessary adverse effects and a high risk of drug resistance. More precise diagnostic techniques alongside a targeted antifungal treatment are fundamental requirements for reducing the morbidity and mortality of IA. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with high specificity in targeting the corresponding antigen(s) may have the potential to improve diagnostic tests and form the basis for novel IA treatments. This review summarizes the up-to-date application of mAb-based approaches in assisting IA diagnosis and therapy. Full article
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Article
Transcriptomic Profiling of Peripheral Edge of Lesions to Elucidate the Pathogenesis of Psoriasis Vulgaris
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(9), 4983; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23094983 - 30 Apr 2022
Viewed by 802
Abstract
Elucidating transcriptome in the peripheral edge of the lesional (PE) skin could provide a better understanding of the molecules or signalings that intensify inflammation in the PE skin. Full-thickness biopsies of PE skin and uninvolved (UN) skin were obtained from psoriasis patients for [...] Read more.
Elucidating transcriptome in the peripheral edge of the lesional (PE) skin could provide a better understanding of the molecules or signalings that intensify inflammation in the PE skin. Full-thickness biopsies of PE skin and uninvolved (UN) skin were obtained from psoriasis patients for RNA-seq. Several potential differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the PE skin compared to those in the UN skin were identified. These DEGs enhanced functions such as angiogenesis, growth of epithelial tissue, chemotaxis and homing of cells, growth of connective tissues, and degranulation of myeloid cells beneath the PE skin. Moreover, the canonical pathways of IL-17A, IL-6, and IL-22 signaling were enriched by the DEGs. Finally, we proposed that inflammation in the PE skin might be driven by the IL-36/TLR9 axis or IL-6/Th17 axis and potentiated by IL-36α, IL-36γ, IL-17C, IL-8, S100A7, S100A8, S100A9, S100A15, SERPINB4, and hBD-2. Along with IL-36α, IL-17C, and IκBζ, ROCK2 could be an equally important factor in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, which may involve self-sustaining circuits between innate and adaptive immune responses via regulation of IL-36α and IL-36γ expression. Our finding provides new insight into signaling pathways in PE skin, which could lead to the discovery of new psoriasis targets. Full article
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Article
Low-Dose SARS-CoV-2 S-Trimer with an Emulsion Adjuvant Induced Th1-Biased Protective Immunity
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(9), 4902; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23094902 - 28 Apr 2022
Viewed by 625
Abstract
During the sustained COVID-19 pandemic, global mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity can prevent further viral spread and mutation. A protein subunit vaccine that is safe, effective, stable, has few storage restrictions, and involves a liable manufacturing process would be advantageous to distribute [...] Read more.
During the sustained COVID-19 pandemic, global mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity can prevent further viral spread and mutation. A protein subunit vaccine that is safe, effective, stable, has few storage restrictions, and involves a liable manufacturing process would be advantageous to distribute around the world. Here, we designed and produced a recombinant spike (S)-Trimer that is maintained in a prefusion state and exhibits a high ACE2 binding affinity. Rodents received different doses of S-Trimer (0.5, 5, or 20 μg) antigen formulated with aluminum hydroxide (Alum) or an emulsion-type adjuvant (SWE), or no adjuvant. After two vaccinations, the antibody response, T-cell responses, and number of follicular helper T-cells (Tfh) or germinal center (GC) B cells were assessed in mice; the protective efficacy was evaluated on a Syrian hamster infection model. The mouse studies demonstrated that adjuvating the S-Trimer with SWE induced a potent humoral immune response and Th1-biased cellular immune responses (in low dose) that were superior to those induced by Alum. In the Syrian hamster studies, when S-Trimer was adjuvanted with SWE, higher levels of neutralizing antibodies were induced against live SARS-CoV-2 from the original lineage and against the emergence of variants (Beta or Delta) with a slightly decreased potency. In addition, the SWE adjuvant demonstrated a dose-sparing effect; thus, a lower dose of S-Trimer as an antigen (0.5 μg) can induce comparable antisera and provide complete protection from viral infection. These data support the utility of SWE as an adjuvant to enhance the immunogenicity of the S-Trimer vaccine, which is feasible for further clinical testing. Full article
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Article
Ostarine-Induced Myogenic Differentiation in C2C12, L6, and Rat Muscles
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(8), 4404; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23084404 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 676
Abstract
Ostarine (also known as enobosarm or Gtx-024) belongs to the selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). It is a substance with an aryl-propionamide structure, classified as a non-steroidal compound that is not subjected to the typical steroid transformations of aromatization and reduction by α5 [...] Read more.
Ostarine (also known as enobosarm or Gtx-024) belongs to the selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). It is a substance with an aryl-propionamide structure, classified as a non-steroidal compound that is not subjected to the typical steroid transformations of aromatization and reduction by α5 reductase. Despite ongoing research on ostarine, knowledge about it is still limited. Earlier studies indicated that ostarine may affect the metabolism of muscle tissue, but this mechanism has not been yet described. We aimed to investigate the effect of ostarine on the differentiation and metabolism of muscle. Using C2C12 and L6 cells, as well as muscles obtained from rats administered ostarine, we showed that ostarine stimulates C2C12 and L6 proliferation and cell viability and that this effect is mediated by androgen receptor (AR) and ERK1/2 kinase activation (p < 0.01). We also found that ostarine stimulates muscle cell differentiation by increasing myogenin, MyoD, and MyH expression in both types of cells (p < 0.01). Moreover, pharmacological blocking of AR inhibits the stimulatory effect of ostarine. We further demonstrated that 30 days of ostarine administration increases myogenin, MyoD, and MyH expression, as well as muscle mass, in rats (p < 0.01). Based on our research, we conclude that ostarine stimulates muscle tissue proliferation and differentiation via the androgen receptor. Full article
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Article
The Tumor Microenvironment Drives Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma Progression
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(8), 4187; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23084187 - 10 Apr 2022
Viewed by 667
Abstract
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) is a highly aggressive cancer with limited therapeutic options and short overall survival. iCCA is characterized by a strong desmoplastic reaction in the surrounding ecosystem that likely affects tumoral progression. Overexpression of the Notch pathway is implicated in iCCA development [...] Read more.
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) is a highly aggressive cancer with limited therapeutic options and short overall survival. iCCA is characterized by a strong desmoplastic reaction in the surrounding ecosystem that likely affects tumoral progression. Overexpression of the Notch pathway is implicated in iCCA development and progression. Our aim was to investigate the effectiveness of Crenigacestat, a selective inhibitor of NOTCH1 signaling, against the cross-talk between cancer cells and the surrounding ecosystem in an in vivo HuCCT1-xenograft model. In the present study, a transcriptomic analysis approach, validated by Western blotting and qRT-PCR on iCCA tumor masses treated with Crenigacestat, was used to study the molecular pathways responsive to drug treatment. Our results indicate that Crenigacestat significantly inhibited NOTCH1 and HES1, whereas tumor progression was not affected. In addition, the drug triggered a strong immune response and blocked neovascularization in the tumor ecosystem of the HuCCT1-xenograft model without affecting the occurrence of fibrotic reactions. Therefore, although these data need further investigation, our observations confirm that Crenigacestat selectively targets NOTCH1 and that the desmoplastic response in iCCA likely plays a key role in both drug effectiveness and tumor progression. Full article
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Review
Overcoming Steroid Resistance in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia—The State-of-the-Art Knowledge and Future Prospects
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(7), 3795; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23073795 - 30 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 920
Abstract
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common malignancy among children. Despite the enormous progress in ALL therapy, resulting in achieving a 5-year survival rate of up to 90%, the ambitious goal of reaching a 100% survival rate is still being pursued. A [...] Read more.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common malignancy among children. Despite the enormous progress in ALL therapy, resulting in achieving a 5-year survival rate of up to 90%, the ambitious goal of reaching a 100% survival rate is still being pursued. A typical ALL treatment includes three phases: remission induction and consolidation and maintenance, preceded by a prednisone prephase. Poor prednisone response (PPR) is defined as the presence of ≥1.0 × 109 blasts/L in the peripheral blood on day eight of therapy and results in significantly frequent relapses and worse outcomes. Hence, identifying risk factors of steroid resistance and finding methods of overcoming that resistance may significantly improve patients’ outcomes. A mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK-ERK) pathway seems to be a particularly attractive target, as its activation leads to steroid resistance via a phosphorylating Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death (BIM), which is crucial in the steroid-induced cell death. Several mutations causing activation of MAPK-ERK were discovered, notably the interleukin-7 receptor (IL-7R) pathway mutations in T-cell ALL and rat sarcoma virus (Ras) pathway mutations in precursor B-cell ALL. MAPK-ERK pathway inhibitors were demonstrated to enhance the results of dexamethasone therapy in preclinical ALL studies. This report summarizes steroids’ mechanism of action, resistance to treatment, and prospects of steroids therapy in pediatric ALL. Full article
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Article
ELK3 Controls Gastric Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion by Regulating ECM Remodeling-Related Genes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(7), 3709; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23073709 - 28 Mar 2022
Viewed by 546
Abstract
Current therapeutic strategies for gastric cancer, including surgery and chemotherapy improve patient survival; however, the survival rate of patients with metastatic gastric cancer is very low. The molecular mechanisms underlying the dissemination of gastric cancer cells to distant organs are currently unknown. Here, [...] Read more.
Current therapeutic strategies for gastric cancer, including surgery and chemotherapy improve patient survival; however, the survival rate of patients with metastatic gastric cancer is very low. The molecular mechanisms underlying the dissemination of gastric cancer cells to distant organs are currently unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the E26 transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factor ELK3 (ELK3) gene is required for the migration and invasion of gastric cancer cells. The ELK3 gene modulates the expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling-related genes, such as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP1), lysyl oxidase like 2 (LOXL2), Snail family transcriptional repressor 1 (SNAI1), serpin family F member 1 (SERPINF1), decorin (DCN), and nidogen 1 (NID1) to facilitate cancer cell dissemination. Our in silico analyses indicated that ELK3 expression was positively associated with these ECM remodeling-related genes in gastric cancer cells and patient samples. The high expressions of ELK3 and other ECM remodeling-related genes were also closely associated with a worse prognosis of patients with gastric cancer. Collectively, these findings suggest that ELK3 acts as an important regulator of gastric cancer cell dissemination by regulating ECM remodeling. Full article
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Article
Heme Oxygenase-1 Has a Greater Effect on Melanoma Stem Cell Properties Than the Expression of Melanoma-Initiating Cell Markers
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(7), 3596; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23073596 - 25 Mar 2022
Viewed by 818
Abstract
Melanoma-initiating cells (MICs) contribute to the tumorigenicity and heterogeneity of melanoma. MICs are identified by surface and functional markers and have been shown to display cancer stem cell (CSC) properties. However, the existence of MICs that follow the hierarchical CSC model has been [...] Read more.
Melanoma-initiating cells (MICs) contribute to the tumorigenicity and heterogeneity of melanoma. MICs are identified by surface and functional markers and have been shown to display cancer stem cell (CSC) properties. However, the existence of MICs that follow the hierarchical CSC model has been questioned by studies showing that single unselected melanoma cells are highly tumorigenic in xenotransplantation assays. Herein, we characterize cells expressing MIC markers (CD20, CD24, CD133, Sca-1, ABCB1, ABCB5, ALDHhigh) in the B16-F10 murine melanoma cell line. We use flow cytometric phenotyping, single-cell sorting followed by in vitro clonogenic assays, and syngeneic in vivo serial transplantation assays to demonstrate that the expression of MIC markers does not select CSC-like cells in this cell line. Previously, our group showed that heme-degrading enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) can be upregulated in melanoma and increase its aggressiveness. Here, we show that HO-1 activity is important for non-adherent growth of melanoma and HO-1 overexpression enhances the vasculogenic mimicry potential, which can be considered protumorigenic activity. However, HO-1 overexpression decreases clone formation in vitro and serial tumor initiation in vivo. Thus, HO-1 plays a dual role in melanoma, improving the progression of growing tumors but reducing the risk of melanoma initiation. Full article
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Review
The Role of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and NLRP3 Inflammasome in Liver Disorders
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(7), 3528; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23073528 - 24 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 824
Abstract
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a key organelle responsible for the synthesis, modification, folding and assembly of proteins; calcium storage; and lipid synthesis. When ER homeostatic balance is disrupted by a variety of physiological and pathological factors—such as glucose deficiency, environmental toxins, Ca [...] Read more.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a key organelle responsible for the synthesis, modification, folding and assembly of proteins; calcium storage; and lipid synthesis. When ER homeostatic balance is disrupted by a variety of physiological and pathological factors—such as glucose deficiency, environmental toxins, Ca2+ level changes, etc.—ER stress can be induced. Abnormal ER stress can be involved in many diseases. NOD-like receptor family pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3), an intracellular receptor, can perceive internal and external stimuli. It binds to apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) and caspase-1 to assemble into a protein complex called the NLRP3 inflammasome. Evidence indicates that ER stress and the NLRP3 inflammasome participate in many pathological processes; however, the exact mechanism remains to be understood. In this review, we summarized the role of ER stress and the NLRP3 inflammasome in liver disorders and analyzed the mechanisms, to provide references for future related research. Full article
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Article
Inhaled Placental Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Secretome from Two- and Three-Dimensional Cell Cultures Promotes Survival and Regeneration in Acute Lung Injury Model in Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(7), 3417; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23073417 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 880
Abstract
Acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a common clinical problem, leading to significant morbidity and mortality, and no effective pharmacotherapy exists. The problem of ARDS causing mortality became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biotherapeutic products containing multipotent [...] Read more.
Acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a common clinical problem, leading to significant morbidity and mortality, and no effective pharmacotherapy exists. The problem of ARDS causing mortality became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Biotherapeutic products containing multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell (MMSC) secretome may provide a new therapeutic paradigm for human healthcare due to their immunomodulating and regenerative abilities. The content and regenerative capacity of the secretome depends on cell origin and type of cultivation (two- or three-dimensional (2D/3D)). In this study, we investigated the proteomic profile of the secretome from 2D- and 3D-cultured placental MMSC and lung fibroblasts (LFBs) and the effect of inhalation of freeze-dried secretome on survival, lung inflammation, lung tissue regeneration, fibrin deposition in a lethal ALI model in mice. We found that three inhaled administrations of freeze-dried secretome from 2D- and 3D-cultured placental MMSC and LFB protected mice from death, restored the histological structure of damaged lungs, and decreased fibrin deposition. At the same time, 3D MMSC secretome exhibited a more pronounced trend in lung recovery than 2D MMSC and LFB-derived secretome in some measures. Taking together, these studies show that inhalation of cell secretome may also be considered as a potential therapy for the management of ARDS in patients suffering from severe pneumonia, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), however, their effectiveness requires further investigation. Full article
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Article
Sodium-Iodate Injection Can Replicate Retinal Degenerative Disease Stages in Pigmented Mice and Rats: Non-Invasive Follow-Up Using OCT and ERG
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(6), 2918; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23062918 - 08 Mar 2022
Viewed by 755
Abstract
Purpose: The lack of suitable animal models for (dry) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has hampered therapeutic research into the disease, so far. In this study, pigmented rats and mice were systematically injected with various doses of sodium iodate (SI). After injection, the retinal [...] Read more.
Purpose: The lack of suitable animal models for (dry) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has hampered therapeutic research into the disease, so far. In this study, pigmented rats and mice were systematically injected with various doses of sodium iodate (SI). After injection, the retinal structure and visual function were non-invasively characterized over time to obtain in-depth data on the suitability of these models for studying experimental therapies for retinal degenerative diseases, such as dry AMD. Methods: SI was injected into the tail vein (i.v.) using a series of doses (0–70 mg/kg) in adolescent C57BL/6J mice and Brown Norway rats. The retinal structure and function were assessed non-invasively at baseline (day 1) and at several time points (1–3, 5, and 10-weeks) post-injection by scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and electroretinography (ERG). Results: After the SI injection, retinal degeneration in mice and rats yielded similar results. The lowest dose (10 mg/kg) resulted in non-detectable structural or functional effects. An injection with 20 mg/kg SI did not result in an evident retinal degeneration as judged from the OCT data. In contrast, the ERG responses were temporarily decreased but returned to baseline within two-weeks. Higher doses (30, 40, 50, and 70 mg/kg) resulted in moderate to severe structural RPE and retinal injury and decreased the ERG amplitudes, indicating visual impairment in both mice and rat strains. Conclusions: After the SI injections, we observed dose-dependent structural and functional pathological effects on the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and retina in the pigmented mouse and rat strains that were used in this study. Similar effects were observed in both species. In particular, a dose of 30 mg/kg seems to be suitable for future studies on developing experimental therapies. These relatively easily induced non-inherited models may serve as useful tools for evaluating novel therapies for RPE-related retinal degenerations, such as AMD. Full article
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Article
SPATA18 Expression Predicts Favorable Clinical Outcome in Colorectal Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(5), 2753; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23052753 - 02 Mar 2022
Viewed by 616
Abstract
Dysregulation of mitochondrial quality control has been reported to be associated with cancer and degenerative diseases. SPATA18 (spermatogenesis-associated 18, also known as Mieap) encodes a p53-inducible protein that can induce lysosome-like organelles within mitochondria that eliminate oxidized mitochondrial proteins and has tumor suppressor [...] Read more.
Dysregulation of mitochondrial quality control has been reported to be associated with cancer and degenerative diseases. SPATA18 (spermatogenesis-associated 18, also known as Mieap) encodes a p53-inducible protein that can induce lysosome-like organelles within mitochondria that eliminate oxidized mitochondrial proteins and has tumor suppressor functions in mitochondrial quality control. In the present study, 268 primary colorectal cancers (CRCs) were evaluated immunohistochemically for SPATA18 expression to assess its predictive utility and its association with cellular proliferation activity. Furthermore, the association with p53 immunoreactivity, a surrogate marker for TP53 mutation, was analyzed. Non-neoplastic colonic mucosa showed cytoplasmic SPATA18 expression. Seventy-two percent of the lesions (193/268) displayed high SPATA18 expression in the cytoplasm of CRC cells. Univariate analyses revealed significant associations between SPATA18 expression and tumor size (p < 0.0001), histological differentiation (p = 0.0017), and lymph node metastasis (p = 0.00039). The log-rank test revealed that patients with SPATA18-high CRCs had significantly better survival than SPATA18-low patients (p < 0.0001). Multivariate Cox hazards regression analysis identified tubular-forming histology (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.25), age < 70 years (HR = 0.50), and SPATA18-high (HR = 0.55) as potential favorable factors. Lymph node metastasis (HR = 1.98) and peritoneal metastasis (HR = 5.45) were cited as potential independent risk factors. Cellular proliferation activity was significantly higher in SPATA18-high tumors. However, no significant correlation was detected between SPATA18 expression and p53 immunoreactivity or KRAS/BRAF mutation status. On the basis of our observations, SPATA18 immunohistochemistry can be used in the prognostication of CRC patients. Full article
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Article
Micro-Current Stimulation Suppresses Inflammatory Responses in Peptidoglycan-Treated Raw 264.7 Macrophages and Propionibacterium acnes-Induced Skin Inflammation via TLR2/NF-κB Signaling Pathway
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(5), 2508; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23052508 - 24 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 648
Abstract
Acne is a common inflammatory disorder of the human skin and a multifactorial disease caused by the sebaceous gland and Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). This study aimed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of micro-current stimulation (MC) on peptidoglycan (PGN)-treated raw 264.7 [...] Read more.
Acne is a common inflammatory disorder of the human skin and a multifactorial disease caused by the sebaceous gland and Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). This study aimed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of micro-current stimulation (MC) on peptidoglycan (PGN)-treated raw 264.7 macrophages and P. acnes-induced skin inflammation. To specify the intensity with anti-inflammatory effects, nitric oxide (NO) production was compared according to various levels of MC. As the lowest NO production was shown at an intensity of 50 μA, subsequent experiments used this intensity. The changes of expression of the proteins related to TLR2/NF-κB signaling were examined by immunoblotting. Also, immunofluorescence analysis was performed for observing NF-κB p65 localization. All of the expression levels of proteins regarding TLR2/NF−κB signaling were decreased by the application of MC. Moreover, the application of MC to PGN−treated raw 264.7 cells showed a significant decrease in the amount of nuclear p65−protein. In the case of animal models with P. acnes−induced skin inflammation, various pro−inflammatory cytokines and mediators significantly decreased in MC−applied mice. In particular, the concentration of IL−1β in serum decreased, and the area of acne lesions, decreased from the histological analysis. We suggest for the first time that MC can be a novel treatment for acne. Full article
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Article
Amyloid Beta Pathology Exacerbates Weight Loss and Brain Cytokine Responses following Low-Dose Lipopolysaccharide in Aged Female Tg2576 Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(4), 2377; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23042377 - 21 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
Systemic inflammation has been implicated in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD); however, less is understood about how existing AD pathology contributes to adverse outcomes following acute inflammatory insults. In the present study, our goal was to determine how AD-associated amyloid beta (Aβ) [...] Read more.
Systemic inflammation has been implicated in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD); however, less is understood about how existing AD pathology contributes to adverse outcomes following acute inflammatory insults. In the present study, our goal was to determine how AD-associated amyloid beta (Aβ) pathology influences the acute neuroinflammatory and behavioral responses to a moderate systemic inflammatory insult. We treated 16–18-month-old female Tg2576 (Tg) mice, which overproduce human Aβ and develop plaques, and age-matched wild-type (WT) littermate mice with an intraperitoneal injection of 0.33 mg/kg lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or saline. Mice were then evaluated over the next 28 h for sickness/depressive-like behaviors (food intake, weight loss, locomotion, and sucrose preference), systemic inflammation (serum amyloid A, SAA), blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption, astrogliosis (glial fibrillary acidic protein/GFAP), Aβ, and cytokine levels in the brain. We found that LPS caused a larger reduction in body weight in Tg vs. WT mice, but that other behavioral responses to LPS did not differ by genotype. BBB disruption was not apparent in either genotype following LPS. Concentrations of the systemic inflammatory marker, SAA, in the blood and brain were significantly increased with LPS but did not significantly differ by genotype. GFAP was increased in Tg mice vs. WT but was not significantly affected by LPS in either genotype. Finally, LPS-induced increases of eight cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12 (p40), IL-10, IL-17A, MIP-1α/CCL3, MIP-1β/CCL4, and RANTES/CCL5) were found to be significantly higher in Tg mice vs. WT. In summary, our data show that Aβ pathology exacerbates the neuroinflammatory response to LPS and identifies cytokines that are selectively regulated by Aβ. The association of worse neuroinflammation with greater weight loss in Tg mice suggests that Aβ pathology could contribute to poor outcomes following a systemic inflammatory insult. Full article
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Article
Association of Tim-3/Gal-9 Axis with NLRC4 Inflammasome in Glioma Malignancy: Tim-3/Gal-9 Induce the NLRC4 Inflammasome
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(4), 2028; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23042028 - 12 Feb 2022
Viewed by 825
Abstract
Tim-3/Gal-9 and the NLRC4 inflammasome contribute to glioma progression. However, the underlying mechanisms involved are unclear. Here, we observed that Tim-3/Gal-9 expression increased with glioma malignancy and found that Tim-3/Gal-9 regulate NLRC4 inflammasome formation and activation. Tim-3/Gal-9 and NLRC4 inflammasome-related molecule expression levels [...] Read more.
Tim-3/Gal-9 and the NLRC4 inflammasome contribute to glioma progression. However, the underlying mechanisms involved are unclear. Here, we observed that Tim-3/Gal-9 expression increased with glioma malignancy and found that Tim-3/Gal-9 regulate NLRC4 inflammasome formation and activation. Tim-3/Gal-9 and NLRC4 inflammasome-related molecule expression levels increased with WHO glioma grade, and this association was correlated with low survival. We investigated NLRC4 inflammasome formation by genetically regulating Tim-3 and its ligand Gal-9. Tim-3/Gal-9 regulation was positively correlated with the NLRC4 inflammasome, NLRC4, and caspase-1 expression. Tim-3/Gal-9 did not trigger IL-1β secretion but were strongly positively correlated with caspase-1 activity as they induced programmed cell death in glioma cells. A protein–protein interaction analysis revealed that the FYN-JAK1-ZNF384 pathways are bridges in NLRC4 inflammasome regulation by Tim-3/Gal-9. The present study showed that Tim-3/Gal-9 are associated with poor prognosis in glioma patients and induce NLRC4 inflammasome formation and activation. We proposed that a Tim-3/Gal-9 blockade could be beneficial in glioma therapy as it would reduce the inflammatory microenvironment by downregulating the NLRC4 inflammasome. Full article
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Review
New Insights on the Nuclear Functions and Targeting of FAK in Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(4), 1998; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23041998 - 11 Feb 2022
Viewed by 689
Abstract
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase over-expressed and activated in both adult and pediatric cancers, where it plays important roles in the regulation of pathogenesis and progression of the malignant phenotype. FAK exerts its functions in cancer by two different [...] Read more.
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase over-expressed and activated in both adult and pediatric cancers, where it plays important roles in the regulation of pathogenesis and progression of the malignant phenotype. FAK exerts its functions in cancer by two different ways: a kinase activity in the cytoplasm, mainly dependent on the integrin signaling, and a scaffolding activity into the nucleus by networking with different gene expression regulators. For this reason, FAK has to be considered a target with high therapeutic values. Indeed, evidence suggests that FAK targeting could be effective, either alone or in combination, with other already available treatments. Here, we propose an overview of the novel insights about FAK’s structure and nuclear functions, with a special focus on the recent findings concerning the roles of this protein in cancer. Additionally, we provide a recent update on FAK inhibitors that are currently in clinical trials for patients with cancer, and discuss the challenge and future directions of drug-based anti-FAK targeted therapies. Full article
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Review
Epigenetic Links between Microbiota and Gestational Diabetes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1831; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031831 - 06 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 871
Abstract
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is considered a significant and increasing worldwide problem. The growing body of evidence on this topic has allowed us to point out that a hostile intrauterine environment in mothers with GDM via epigenetic mechanisms induces “diabetogenic” and “obesogenic” changes [...] Read more.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is considered a significant and increasing worldwide problem. The growing body of evidence on this topic has allowed us to point out that a hostile intrauterine environment in mothers with GDM via epigenetic mechanisms induces “diabetogenic” and “obesogenic” changes in an offspring’s DNA. This sets a vicious intergenerational cycle of metabolic diseases in motion, gradually deteriorating the health of the human population. One of the most important participants of this process seems to be altered microbiota. There is a chance that the identification of specific epigenetic marks may provide a key for future diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic solutions in the field of personalised medicine. Given the reversibility of most epigenetic changes, there is an opportunity to improve the long-term health of the human population. In this manuscript, we aim to summarise available data on epigenetic changes among women suffering from GDM and their progeny, in association with alterations in the microbiome. Full article
Article
The Isoxazole Derivative of Usnic Acid Induces an ER Stress Response in Breast Cancer Cells That Leads to Paraptosis-like Cell Death
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1802; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031802 - 04 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 814
Abstract
Derivatives of usnic acid (UA), a secondary metabolite from lichens, were synthesized to improve its anticancer activity and selectivity. Recently we reported the synthesis and activity of an UA isoxazole derivative, named 2b, against cancer cells of different origins. Herein, the molecular [...] Read more.
Derivatives of usnic acid (UA), a secondary metabolite from lichens, were synthesized to improve its anticancer activity and selectivity. Recently we reported the synthesis and activity of an UA isoxazole derivative, named 2b, against cancer cells of different origins. Herein, the molecular mechanisms underlying its activity and efficacy in vivo were tested. The viability of breast cancer or normal cells has been tested using an MTT assay. Cell and organelle morphology was analyzed using light, electron and fluorescence microscopy. Gene expression was evaluated by RNAseq and protein levels were evaluated by Western blotting. In vivo anticancer activity was evaluated in a mice xenograft model. We found that 2b induced massive vacuolization which originated from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). ER stress markers were upregulated both at the mRNA and protein levels. ER stress was caused by the release of Ca2+ ions from the ER by IP3R channels which was mediated, at least partly, by phospholipase C (PLC)-synthetized 1,4,5-inositol triphosphate (IP3). ER stress led to cell death with features of apoptosis and paraptosis. When applied to nude mice with xenografted breast cancer cells, 2b stopped tumour growth. In mice treated with 2b, vacuolization was observed in tumour cells, but not in other organs. This study shows that the antiproliferative activity of 2b relates to the induction of ER stress in cancer, not in healthy, cells and it leads to breast cancer cell death in vitro and in vivo. Full article
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Review
Wnt and PI3K/Akt/mTOR Survival Pathways as Therapeutic Targets in Glioblastoma
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1353; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031353 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1515
Abstract
Glioblastoma (GBM) is a devastating type of brain tumor, and current therapeutic treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, are palliative at best. The design of effective and targeted chemotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of GBM require a thorough analysis of specific signaling pathways [...] Read more.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is a devastating type of brain tumor, and current therapeutic treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, are palliative at best. The design of effective and targeted chemotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of GBM require a thorough analysis of specific signaling pathways to identify those serving as drivers of GBM progression and invasion. The Wnt/β-catenin and PI3K/Akt/mTOR (PAM) signaling pathways are key regulators of important biological functions that include cell proliferation, epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), metabolism, and angiogenesis. Targeting specific regulatory components of the Wnt/β-catenin and PAM pathways has the potential to disrupt critical brain tumor cell functions to achieve critical advancements in alternative GBM treatment strategies to enhance the survival rate of GBM patients. In this review, we emphasize the importance of the Wnt/β-catenin and PAM pathways for GBM invasion into brain tissue and explore their potential as therapeutic targets. Full article
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Article
Sp1 Plays a Key Role in Vasculogenic Mimicry of Human Prostate Cancer Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1321; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031321 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
Sp1 transcription factor regulates genes involved in various phenomena of tumor progression. Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) is the alternative neovascularization by aggressive tumor cells. However, there is no evidence of the relationship between Sp1 and VM. This study investigated whether and how Sp1 plays [...] Read more.
Sp1 transcription factor regulates genes involved in various phenomena of tumor progression. Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) is the alternative neovascularization by aggressive tumor cells. However, there is no evidence of the relationship between Sp1 and VM. This study investigated whether and how Sp1 plays a crucial role in the process of VM in human prostate cancer (PCa) cell lines, PC-3 and DU145. A cell viability assay and three-dimensional culture VM tube formation assay were performed. Protein and mRNA expression levels were detected by Western blot and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, respectively. The nuclear twist expression was observed by immunofluorescence assay. A co-immunoprecipitation assay was performed. Mithramycin A (MiA) and Sp1 siRNA significantly decreased serum-induced VM, whereas Sp1 overexpression caused a significant induction of VM. Serum-upregulated vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin) protein and mRNA expression levels were decreased after MiA treatment or Sp1 silencing. The protein expression and the nuclear localization of twist were increased by serum, which was effectively inhibited after MiA treatment or Sp1 silencing. The interaction between Sp1 and twist was reduced by MiA. On the contrary, Sp1 overexpression enhanced VE-cadherin and twist expressions. Serum phosphorylated AKT and raised matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and laminin subunit 5 gamma-2 (LAMC2) expressions. MiA or Sp1 silencing impaired these effects. However, Sp1 overexpression upregulated phosphor-AKT, MMP-2 and LAMC2 expressions. Serum-upregulated Sp1 was significantly reduced by an AKT inhibitor, wortmannin. These results demonstrate that Sp1 mediates VM formation through interacting with the twist/VE-cadherin/AKT pathway in human PCa cells. Full article
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Review
p27, The Cell Cycle and Alzheimer´s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1211; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031211 - 21 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1150
Abstract
The cell cycle consists of successive events that lead to the generation of new cells. The cell cycle is regulated by different cyclins, cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and their inhibitors, such as p27Kip1. At the nuclear level, p27Kip1 has the ability [...] Read more.
The cell cycle consists of successive events that lead to the generation of new cells. The cell cycle is regulated by different cyclins, cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and their inhibitors, such as p27Kip1. At the nuclear level, p27Kip1 has the ability to control the evolution of different phases of the cell cycle and oppose cell cycle progression by binding to CDKs. In the cytoplasm, diverse functions have been described for p27Kip1, including microtubule remodeling, axonal transport and phagocytosis. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), alterations to cycle events and a purported increase in neurogenesis have been described in the early disease process before significant pathological changes could be detected. However, most neurons cannot progress to complete their cell division and undergo apoptotic cell death. Increased levels of both the p27Kip1 levels and phosphorylation status have been described in AD. Increased levels of Aβ42, tau hyperphosphorylation or even altered insulin signals could lead to alterations in p27Kip1 post-transcriptional modifications, causing a disbalance between the levels and functions of p27Kip1 in the cytoplasm and nucleus, thus inducing an aberrant cell cycle re-entry and alteration of extra cell cycle functions. Further studies are needed to completely understand the role of p27Kip1 in AD and the therapeutic opportunities associated with the modulation of this target. Full article
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Article
Airway Delivery of Hydrogel-Encapsulated Niclosamide for the Treatment of Inflammatory Airway Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031085 - 19 Jan 2022
Viewed by 949
Abstract
Repurposing of the anthelminthic drug niclosamide was proposed as an effective treatment for inflammatory airway diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Niclosamide may also be effective for the treatment of viral respiratory infections, such as SARS-CoV-2, respiratory syncytial [...] Read more.
Repurposing of the anthelminthic drug niclosamide was proposed as an effective treatment for inflammatory airway diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Niclosamide may also be effective for the treatment of viral respiratory infections, such as SARS-CoV-2, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza. While systemic application of niclosamide may lead to unwanted side effects, local administration via aerosol may circumvent these problems, particularly when the drug is encapsulated into small polyethylene glycol (PEG) hydrospheres. In the present study, we examined whether PEG-encapsulated niclosamide inhibits the production of mucus and affects the pro-inflammatory mediator CLCA1 in mouse airways in vivo, while effects on mucociliary clearance were assessed in excised mouse tracheas. The potential of encapsulated niclosamide to inhibit TMEM16A whole-cell Cl currents and intracellular Ca2+ signalling was assessed in airway epithelial cells in vitro. We achieved encapsulation of niclosamide in PEG-microspheres and PEG-nanospheres (Niclo-spheres). When applied to asthmatic mice via intratracheal instillation, Niclo-spheres strongly attenuated overproduction of mucus, inhibited secretion of the major proinflammatory mediator CLCA1, and improved mucociliary clearance in tracheas ex vivo. These effects were comparable for niclosamide encapsulated in PEG-nanospheres and PEG-microspheres. Niclo-spheres inhibited the Ca2+ activated Cl channel TMEM16A and attenuated mucus production in CFBE and Calu-3 human airway epithelial cells. Both inhibitory effects were explained by a pronounced inhibition of intracellular Ca2+ signals. The data indicate that poorly dissolvable compounds such as niclosamide can be encapsulated in PEG-microspheres/nanospheres and deposited locally on the airway epithelium as encapsulated drugs, which may be advantageous over systemic application. Full article
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Review
Development of the Ontogenetic Self-Regulation Clock
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(2), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23020993 - 17 Jan 2022
Viewed by 674
Abstract
To date, there is no overarching proposition for the ontogenetic-neurobiological basis of self-regulation. This paper suggests that the balanced self-regulatory reaction of the fetus, newborn and infant is based on a complex mechanism starting from early brainstem development and continuing to progressive control [...] Read more.
To date, there is no overarching proposition for the ontogenetic-neurobiological basis of self-regulation. This paper suggests that the balanced self-regulatory reaction of the fetus, newborn and infant is based on a complex mechanism starting from early brainstem development and continuing to progressive control of the cortex over the brainstem. It is suggested that this balance occurs through the synchronous reactivity between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, both which originate from the brainstem. The paper presents an evidence-based approach in which molecular excitation-inhibition balance, interchanges between excitatory and inhibitory roles of neurotransmitters as well as cardiovascular and white matter development across gestational ages, are shown to create sympathetic-parasympathetic synchrony, including the postnatal development of electroencephalogram waves and vagal tone. These occur in developmental milestones detectable in the same time windows (sensitive periods of development) within a convergent systematic progress. This ontogenetic stepwise process is termed “the self-regulation clock” and suggest that this clock is located in the largest connection between the brainstem and the cortex, the corticospinal tract. This novel evidence-based new theory paves the way towards more accurate hypotheses and complex studies of self-regulation and its biological basis, as well as pointing to time windows for interventions in preterm infants. The paper also describes the developing indirect signaling between the suprachiasmatic nucleus and the corticospinal tract. Finally, the paper proposes novel hypotheses for molecular, structural and functional investigation of the “clock” circuitry, including its associations with other biological clocks. This complex circuitry is suggested to be responsible for the developing self-regulatory functions and their neurobehavioral correlates. Full article
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Review
Neuroinflammation: A Potential Risk for Dementia
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(2), 616; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23020616 - 06 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1145
Abstract
Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that is considered a major factor contributing to cognitive decline that reduces independent function. Pathophysiological pathways are not well defined for neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia; however, published evidence has shown the role of numerous inflammatory processes in [...] Read more.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that is considered a major factor contributing to cognitive decline that reduces independent function. Pathophysiological pathways are not well defined for neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia; however, published evidence has shown the role of numerous inflammatory processes in the brain contributing toward their pathology. Microglia of the central nervous system (CNS) are the principal components of the brain’s immune defence system and can detect harmful or external pathogens. When stimulated, the cells trigger neuroinflammatory responses by releasing proinflammatory chemokines, cytokines, reactive oxygen species, and nitrogen species in order to preserve the cell’s microenvironment. These proinflammatory markers include cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNFα chemokines such as CCR3 and CCL2 and CCR5. Microglial cells may produce a prolonged inflammatory response that, in some circumstances, is indicated in the promotion of neurodegenerative diseases. The present review is focused on the involvement of microglial cell activation throughout neurodegenerative conditions and the link between neuroinflammatory processes and dementia. Full article
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Article
Glycosylation of Receptor Binding Domain of SARS-CoV-2 S-Protein Influences on Binding to Immobilized DNA Aptamers
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 557; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010557 - 05 Jan 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 847
Abstract
Nucleic acid aptamers specific to S-protein and its receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2) virions are of high interest as potential inhibitors of viral infection and recognizing elements in biosensors. Development of specific therapy and biosensors is [...] Read more.
Nucleic acid aptamers specific to S-protein and its receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2) virions are of high interest as potential inhibitors of viral infection and recognizing elements in biosensors. Development of specific therapy and biosensors is complicated by an emergence of new viral strains bearing amino acid substitutions and probable differences in glycosylation sites. Here, we studied affinity of a set of aptamers to two Wuhan-type RBD of S-protein expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cell line and Pichia pastoris that differ in glycosylation patterns. The expression system for the RBD protein has significant effects, both on values of dissociation constants and relative efficacy of the aptamer binding. We propose glycosylation of the RBD as the main force for observed differences. Moreover, affinity of a several aptamers was affected by a site of biotinylation. Thus, the robustness of modified aptamers toward new virus variants should be carefully tested. Full article
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Article
The Beneficial Effects of Combining Anti-Aβ Antibody NP106 and Curcumin Analog TML-6 on the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease in APP/PS1 Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010556 - 05 Jan 2022
Viewed by 810
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with a multifactorial etiology. A multitarget treatment that modulates multifaceted biological functions might be more effective than a single-target approach. Here, the therapeutic efficacy of combination treatment using anti-Aβ antibody NP106 and curcumin analog TML-6 [...] Read more.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with a multifactorial etiology. A multitarget treatment that modulates multifaceted biological functions might be more effective than a single-target approach. Here, the therapeutic efficacy of combination treatment using anti-Aβ antibody NP106 and curcumin analog TML-6 versus monotherapy was investigated in an APP/PS1 mouse model of AD. Our data demonstrate that both combination treatment and monotherapy attenuated brain Aβ and improved the nesting behavioral deficit to varying degrees. Importantly, the combination treatment group had the lowest Aβ levels, and insoluble forms of Aβ were reduced most effectively. The nesting performance of APP/PS1 mice receiving combination treatment was better than that of other APP/PS1 groups. Further findings indicate that enhanced microglial Aβ phagocytosis and lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines were concurrent with the aforementioned effects of NP106 in combination with TML-6. Intriguingly, combination treatment also normalized the gut microbiota of APP/PS1 mice to levels resembling the wild-type control. Taken together, combination treatment outperformed NP106 or TML-6 monotherapy in ameliorating Aβ pathology and the nesting behavioral deficit in APP/PS1 mice. The superior effect might result from a more potent modulation of microglial function, cerebral inflammation, and the gut microbiota. This innovative treatment paradigm confers a new avenue to develop more efficacious AD treatments. Full article
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Article
Mast Cells Differentiated in Synovial Fluid and Resident in Osteophytes Exalt the Inflammatory Pathology of Osteoarthritis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 541; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010541 - 04 Jan 2022
Viewed by 815
Abstract
Introduction: Osteophytes are a prominent feature of osteoarthritis (OA) joints and one of the clinical hallmarks of the disease progression. Research on osteophytes is fragmentary and modes of its contribution to OA pathology are obscure. Aim: To elucidate the role of osteophytes in [...] Read more.
Introduction: Osteophytes are a prominent feature of osteoarthritis (OA) joints and one of the clinical hallmarks of the disease progression. Research on osteophytes is fragmentary and modes of its contribution to OA pathology are obscure. Aim: To elucidate the role of osteophytes in OA pathology from a perspective of molecular and cellular events. Methods: RNA-seq of fully grown osteophytes, collected from tibial plateau of six OA patients revealed patterns corresponding to active extracellular matrix re-modulation and prominent participation of mast cells. Presence of mast cells was further confirmed by immunohistochemistry, performed on the sections of the osteophytes using anti-tryptase alpha/beta-1 and anti-FC epsilon RI antibodies and the related key up-regulated genes were validated by qRT-PCR. To test the role of OA synovial fluid (SF) in mast cell maturation as proposed by the authors, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and ThP1 cells were cultured in a media supplemented with 10% SF samples, obtained from various grades of OA patients and were monitored using specific cell surface markers by flow cytometry. Proteomics analysis of SF samples was performed to detect additional markers specific to mast cells and inflammation that drive the cell differentiation and maturation. Results: Transcriptomics of osteophytes revealed a significant upregulation of mast cells specific genes such as chymase 1 (CMA1; 5-fold) carboxypeptidase A3 (CPA3; 4-fold), MS4A2/FCERI (FCERI; 4.2-fold) and interleukin 1 receptor-like 1 (IL1RL1; 2.5-fold) indicating their prominent involvement. (In IHC, anti-tryptase alpha/beta-1 and anti- FC epsilon RI-stained active mast cells were seen populated in cartilage, subchondral bone, and trabecular bone.) Based on these outcomes and previous learnings, the authors claim a possibility of mast cells invasion into osteophytes is mediated by SF and present in vitro cell differentiation assay results, wherein ThP1 and HSCs showed differentiation into HLA-DR+/CD206+ and FCERI+ phenotype, respectively, after exposing them to medium containing 10% SF for 9 days. Proteomics analysis of these SF samples showed an accumulation of mast cell-specific inflammatory proteins. Conclusions: RNA-seq analysis followed by IHC study on osteophyte samples showed a population of mast cells resident in them and may further accentuate inflammatory pathology of OA. Besides subchondral bone, the authors propose an alternative passage of mast cells invasion in osteophytes, wherein OA SF was found to be necessary and sufficient for maturation of mast cell precursor into effector cells. Full article
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Review
Flubendazole Plays an Important Anti-Tumor Role in Different Types of Cancers
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 519; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010519 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 700
Abstract
Flubendazole, belonging to benzimidazole, is a broad-spectrum insect repellent and has been repurposed as a promising anticancer drug. In recent years, many studies have shown that flubendazole plays an anti-tumor role in different types of cancers, including breast cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, colorectal [...] Read more.
Flubendazole, belonging to benzimidazole, is a broad-spectrum insect repellent and has been repurposed as a promising anticancer drug. In recent years, many studies have shown that flubendazole plays an anti-tumor role in different types of cancers, including breast cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. Although the anti-tumor mechanism of flubendazole has been studied, it has not been fully understood. In this review, we summarized the recent studies regarding the anti-tumor effects of flubendazole in different types of cancers and analyzed the related mechanisms, in order to provide the theoretical reference for further studies in the future. Full article
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Article
Activated Protein C Protects against Murine Contact Dermatitis by Suppressing Protease-Activated Receptor 2
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 516; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010516 - 03 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 803
Abstract
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with excessive inflammation and defective skin barrier function. Activated protein C (APC) is a natural anticoagulant with anti-inflammatory and barrier protective functions. However, the effect of APC on AD and its engagement with [...] Read more.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with excessive inflammation and defective skin barrier function. Activated protein C (APC) is a natural anticoagulant with anti-inflammatory and barrier protective functions. However, the effect of APC on AD and its engagement with protease activated receptor (PAR)1 and PAR2 are unknown. Methods: Contact hypersensitivity (CHS), a model for human AD, was induced in PAR1 knockout (KO), PAR2KO and matched wild type (WT) mice using 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB). Recombinant human APC was administered into these mice as preventative or therapeutic treatment. The effect of APC and PAR1KO or PARKO on CHS was assessed via measurement of ear thickness, skin histologic changes, inflammatory cytokine levels, Th cell phenotypes and keratinocyte function. Results: Compared to WT, PAR2KO but not PAR1KO mice displayed less severe CHS when assessed by ear thickness; PAR1KO CHS skin had less mast cells, lower levels of IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-17 and IL-22, and higher levels of IL-1β, IL-6 and TGF-β1, whereas PAR2KO CHS skin only contained lower levels of IL-22 and IgE. Both PAR1KO and PAR2KO spleen cells had less Th1/Th17/Th22/Treg cells. In normal skin, PAR1 was present at the stratum granulosum and spinosum, whereas PAR2 at the upper layers of the epidermis. In CHS, however, the expression of PAR1 and PAR2 were increased and spread to the whole epidermis. In vitro, compared to WT cells, PAR1KO keratinocytes grew much slower, had a lower survival rate and higher para permeability, while PAR2KO cells grew faster, were resistant to apoptosis and para permeability. APC inhibited CHS as a therapeutic but not as a preventative treatment only in WT and PAR1KO mice. APC therapy reduced skin inflammation, suppressed epidermal PAR2 expression, promoted keratinocyte growth, survival, and barrier function in both WT and PAR1KO cells, but not in PAR2KO cells. Conclusions: APC therapy can mitigate CHS. Although APC acts through both PAR1 and PAR2 to regulate Th and mast cells, suppression of clinical disease in mice is achieved mainly via inhibition of PAR2 alone. Thus, APC may confer broad therapeutic benefits as a disease-modifying treatment for AD. Full article
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2021

Jump to: 2022

Article
CCN2 Increases TGF-β Receptor Type II Expression in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells: Essential Role of CCN2 in the TGF-β Pathway Regulation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010375 - 29 Dec 2021
Viewed by 566
Abstract
The cellular communication network factor 2 (CCN2/CTGF) has been traditionally described as a mediator of the fibrotic responses induced by other factors including the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β). However, several studies have defined a direct role of CCN2 acting as a growth [...] Read more.
The cellular communication network factor 2 (CCN2/CTGF) has been traditionally described as a mediator of the fibrotic responses induced by other factors including the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β). However, several studies have defined a direct role of CCN2 acting as a growth factor inducing oxidative and proinflammatory responses. The presence of CCN2 and TGF-β together in the cellular context has been described as a requisite to induce a persistent fibrotic response, but the precise mechanisms implicated in this relation are not described yet. Considering the main role of TGF-β receptors (TβR) in the TGF-β pathway activation, our aim was to investigate the effects of CCN2 in the regulation of TβRI and TβRII levels in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). While no differences were observed in TβRI levels, an increase in TβRII expression at both gene and protein level were found 48 h after stimulation with the C-terminal fragment of CCN2 (CCN2(IV)). Cell pretreatment with a TβRI inhibitor did not modify TβRII increment induced by CCN2(VI), demonstrating a TGF-β-independent response. Secondly, CCN2(IV) rapidly activated the SMAD pathway in VSMCs, this being crucial in the upregulation of TβRII since the preincubation with an SMAD3 inhibitor prevented it. Similarly, pretreatment with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor erlotinib abolished TβRII upregulation, indicating the participation of this receptor in the observed responses. Our findings suggest a direct role of CCN2 maintaining the TGF-β pathway activation by increasing TβRII expression in an EGFR-SMAD dependent manner activation. Full article
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Article
Classification of Amyloidosis by Model-Assisted Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomics
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010319 - 28 Dec 2021
Viewed by 545
Abstract
Amyloidosis is a rare disease caused by the misfolding and extracellular aggregation of proteins as insoluble fibrillary deposits localized either in specific organs or systemically throughout the body. The organ targeted and the disease progression and outcome is highly dependent on the specific [...] Read more.
Amyloidosis is a rare disease caused by the misfolding and extracellular aggregation of proteins as insoluble fibrillary deposits localized either in specific organs or systemically throughout the body. The organ targeted and the disease progression and outcome is highly dependent on the specific fibril-forming protein, and its accurate identification is essential to the choice of treatment. Mass spectrometry-based proteomics has become the method of choice for the identification of the amyloidogenic protein. Regrettably, this identification relies on manual and subjective interpretation of mass spectrometry data by an expert, which is undesirable and may bias diagnosis. To circumvent this, we developed a statistical model-assisted method for the unbiased identification of amyloid-containing biopsies and amyloidosis subtyping. Based on data from mass spectrometric analysis of amyloid-containing biopsies and corresponding controls. A Boruta method applied on a random forest classifier was applied to proteomics data obtained from the mass spectrometric analysis of 75 laser dissected Congo Red positive amyloid-containing biopsies and 78 Congo Red negative biopsies to identify novel “amyloid signature” proteins that included clusterin, fibulin-1, vitronectin complement component C9 and also three collagen proteins, as well as the well-known amyloid signature proteins apolipoprotein E, apolipoprotein A4, and serum amyloid P. A SVM learning algorithm were trained on the mass spectrometry data from the analysis of the 75 amyloid-containing biopsies and 78 amyloid-negative control biopsies. The trained algorithm performed superior in the discrimination of amyloid-containing biopsies from controls, with an accuracy of 1.0 when applied to a blinded mass spectrometry validation data set of 103 prospectively collected amyloid-containing biopsies. Moreover, our method successfully classified amyloidosis patients according to the subtype in 102 out of 103 blinded cases. Collectively, our model-assisted approach identified novel amyloid-associated proteins and demonstrated the use of mass spectrometry-based data in clinical diagnostics of disease by the unbiased and reliable model-assisted classification of amyloid deposits and of the specific amyloid subtype. Full article
Review
Pathomechanisms of Vascular Depression in Older Adults
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 308; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010308 - 28 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1053
Abstract
Depression in older individuals is a common complex mood disorder with high comorbidity of both psychiatric and physical diseases, associated with high disability, cognitive decline, and increased mortality The factors predicting the risk of late-life depression (LLD) are incompletely understood. The reciprocal relationship [...] Read more.
Depression in older individuals is a common complex mood disorder with high comorbidity of both psychiatric and physical diseases, associated with high disability, cognitive decline, and increased mortality The factors predicting the risk of late-life depression (LLD) are incompletely understood. The reciprocal relationship of depressive disorder and age- and disease-related processes has generated pathogenic hypotheses and provided various treatment options. The heterogeneity of depression complicates research into the underlying pathogenic cascade, and factors involved in LLD considerably differ from those involved in early life depression. Evidence suggests that a variety of vascular mechanisms, in particular cerebral small vessel disease, generalized microvascular, and endothelial dysfunction, as well as metabolic risk factors, including diabetes, and inflammation that may induce subcortical white and gray matter lesions by compromising fronto–limbic and other important neuronal networks, may contribute to the development of LLD. The “vascular depression” hypothesis postulates that cerebrovascular disease or vascular risk factors can predispose, precipitate, and perpetuate geriatric depression syndromes, based on their comorbidity with cerebrovascular lesions and the frequent development of depression after stroke. Vascular burden is associated with cognitive deficits and a specific form of LLD, vascular depression, which is marked by decreased white matter integrity, executive dysfunction, functional disability, and poorer response to antidepressive therapy than major depressive disorder without vascular risk factors. Other pathogenic factors of LLD, such as neurodegeneration or neuroimmune regulatory dysmechanisms, are briefly discussed. Treatment planning should consider a modest response of LLD to antidepressants, while vascular and metabolic factors may provide promising targets for its successful prevention and treatment. However, their effectiveness needs further investigation, and intervention studies are needed to assess which interventions are appropriate and effective in clinical practice. Full article
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Review
Neuroinflammation in Cerebral Ischemia and Ischemia/Reperfusion Injuries: From Pathophysiology to Therapeutic Strategies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010014 - 21 Dec 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1493
Abstract
Its increasing incidence has led stroke to be the second leading cause of death worldwide. Despite significant advances in recanalization strategies, patients are still at risk for ischemia/reperfusion injuries in this pathophysiology, in which neuroinflammation is significantly involved. Research has shown that in [...] Read more.
Its increasing incidence has led stroke to be the second leading cause of death worldwide. Despite significant advances in recanalization strategies, patients are still at risk for ischemia/reperfusion injuries in this pathophysiology, in which neuroinflammation is significantly involved. Research has shown that in the acute phase, neuroinflammatory cascades lead to apoptosis, disruption of the blood–brain barrier, cerebral edema, and hemorrhagic transformation, while in later stages, these pathways support tissue repair and functional recovery. The present review discusses the various cell types and the mechanisms through which neuroinflammation contributes to parenchymal injury and tissue repair, as well as therapeutic attempts made in vitro, in animal experiments, and in clinical trials which target neuroinflammation, highlighting future therapeutic perspectives. Full article
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Article
Effect of Mineral-Balanced Deep-Sea Water on Kidney Function and Renal Oxidative Stress Markers in Rats Fed a High-Salt Diet
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(24), 13415; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222413415 - 14 Dec 2021
Viewed by 755
Abstract
This study investigated the effect of mineral-balanced deep-sea water (DSW) on kidney health using an animal model of kidney injury due to a high-sodium diet. High magnesium/low sodium (HMLS) and high magnesium/high calcium (HMHC) DSW samples with different mineral contents were prepared. Sprague–Dawley [...] Read more.
This study investigated the effect of mineral-balanced deep-sea water (DSW) on kidney health using an animal model of kidney injury due to a high-sodium diet. High magnesium/low sodium (HMLS) and high magnesium/high calcium (HMHC) DSW samples with different mineral contents were prepared. Sprague–Dawley rats were fed an 8% sodium chloride (NaCl) diet for four weeks to induce kidney injury, and each group was supplied with purified water or mineral water. Kidney injury was observed in the NaCl group according to increased kidney injury markers and malondialdehydes, providing evidence of oxidative stress. However, the kidney injury was repaired by the intake of mineral-balanced DSW. It was confirmed that the HMLS and HMHC groups showed improved Na+ excretion through the urine. Kidney injury markers in urine decreased and upregulation of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein2 mRNA expression was observed in the HMLS and HMHC groups. In addition, superoxide dismutase activity was increased in the HMHC groups. The gene expression patterns of the RNA sequencing were similar between the CON and HMLS groups. These results suggest that DSW has beneficial effects on kidney health due to the balanced magnesium and calcium levels in models of kidney injury caused by excessive sodium intake. Full article
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Article
The Secretome of Human Neonatal Mesenchymal Stem Cells Modulates Doxorubicin-Induced Cytotoxicity: Impact in Non-Tumor Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 13072; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222313072 - 03 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1178
Abstract
Doxorubicin (Dox) is one of the most widely used treatments for breast cancer, although limited by the well-documented cardiotoxicity and other off-target effects. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) secretome has shown immunomodulatory and regenerative properties, further potentiated under 3D conditions. This work aimed to [...] Read more.
Doxorubicin (Dox) is one of the most widely used treatments for breast cancer, although limited by the well-documented cardiotoxicity and other off-target effects. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) secretome has shown immunomodulatory and regenerative properties, further potentiated under 3D conditions. This work aimed to uncover the effect of the MSC-derived secretome from 3D (CM3D) or 2D (CM2D) cultures, in human malignant breast cells (MDA-MB-231), non-tumor breast epithelial cells (MCF10A) and differentiated AC16 cardiomyocytes, co-treated with Dox. A comprehensive proteomic analysis of CM3D/CM2D was also performed to unravel the underlying mechanism. CM3D/CM2D co-incubation with Dox revealed no significant differences in MDA-MB-231 viability when compared to Dox alone, whereas MCF10A and AC16 viability was consistently improved in Dox+CM3D-treated cells. Moreover, neither CM2D nor CM3D affected Dox anti-migratory and anti-invasive effects in MDA-MB-231. Notably, Ge-LC-MS/MS proteomic analysis revealed that CM3D displayed protective features that might be linked to the regulation of cell proliferation (CAPN1, CST1, LAMC2, RANBP3), migration (CCN3, MMP8, PDCD5), invasion (TIMP1/2), oxidative stress (COX6B1, AIFM1, CD9, GSR) and inflammation (CCN3, ANXA5, CDH13, GDF15). Overall, CM3D decreased Dox-induced cytotoxicity in non-tumor cells, without compromising Dox chemotherapeutic profile in malignant cells, suggesting its potential use as a chemotherapy adjuvant to reduce off-target side effects. Full article
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Review
Emerging Role of TCA Cycle-Related Enzymes in Human Diseases
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 13057; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222313057 - 02 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
The tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is the main source of cellular energy and participates in many metabolic pathways in cells. Recent reports indicate that dysfunction of TCA cycle-related enzymes causes human diseases, such as neurometabolic disorders and tumors, have attracted increasing interest in [...] Read more.
The tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is the main source of cellular energy and participates in many metabolic pathways in cells. Recent reports indicate that dysfunction of TCA cycle-related enzymes causes human diseases, such as neurometabolic disorders and tumors, have attracted increasing interest in their unexplained roles. The diseases which develop as a consequence of loss or dysfunction of TCA cycle-related enzymes are distinct, suggesting that each enzyme has a unique function. This review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the relationship between each TCA cycle-related enzyme and human diseases. We also discuss their functions in the context of both mitochondrial and extra-mitochondrial (or cytoplasmic) enzymes. Full article
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Review
Role and Perspectives of Inflammation and C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in Psychosis: An Economic and Widespread Tool for Assessing the Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 13032; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222313032 - 02 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1010
Abstract
Schizophrenia is a major psychotic disorder affecting nearly 23.6 million people globally and greatly impacting the cognitive and social functioning of individuals. Multiple risk factors, including genetic, environmental, and epigenetic factors have been identified. However, the exact mechanism by which some factors aid [...] Read more.
Schizophrenia is a major psychotic disorder affecting nearly 23.6 million people globally and greatly impacting the cognitive and social functioning of individuals. Multiple risk factors, including genetic, environmental, and epigenetic factors have been identified. However, the exact mechanism by which some factors aid in the development of schizophrenia is still uncertain. Acute and/or long-standing inflammation has been implicated as both a cause and effect of schizophrenia. Heightened immune responses have been documented in large cohorts of individuals with schizophrenia. While not completely known, multiple hypotheses, such as disruption of the blood–brain barrier, alterations in the kynurenine/tryptophan pathway, and increased microglial activation, have been presented to correlate inflammation with schizophrenic symptoms. Measurement of C-reactive protein (CRP) is a commonly performed and inexpensive test on patients’ serum to determine levels of systemic inflammation in the body. Multiple studies have reported an elevated CRP level in different stages of schizophrenia, indicating its potential to be used as a viable biomarker in the diagnosis and monitoring of schizophrenia along with assessing treatment response to conventional and non-conventional treatment regimens. This review aims to evaluate the role of inflammation, in general, and CRP, in particular, in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and its potential significance in diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative approaches towards schizophrenia and psychosis. Full article
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Article
PCSK9 Imperceptibly Affects Chemokine Receptor Expression In Vitro and In Vivo
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 13026; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222313026 - 01 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 847
Abstract
Proprotein convertase subtilin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a protease secreted mainly by hepatocytes and in lesser quantities by intestines, pancreas, and vascular cells. Over the years, this protease has gained importance in the field of cardiovascular biology due to its regulatory action on [...] Read more.
Proprotein convertase subtilin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a protease secreted mainly by hepatocytes and in lesser quantities by intestines, pancreas, and vascular cells. Over the years, this protease has gained importance in the field of cardiovascular biology due to its regulatory action on the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR). However, recently, it has also been shown that PCSK9 acts independent of LDLR to cause vascular inflammation and increase the severity of several cardiovascular disorders. We hypothesized that PCSK9 affects the expression of chemokine receptors, major mediators of inflammation, to influence cardiovascular health. However, using overexpression of PCSK9 in murine models in vivo and PCSK9 stimulation of myeloid and vascular cells in vitro did not reveal influences of PCSK9 on the expression of certain chemokine receptors that are known to be involved in the development and progression of atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation. Hence, we conclude that the inflammatory effects of PCSK9 are not associated with the here investigated chemokine receptors and additional research is required to elucidate which mechanisms mediate PCSK9 effects independent of LDLR. Full article
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Article
AXIN2 Reduces the Survival of Porcine Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (piPSCs)
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 12954; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222312954 - 30 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 682
Abstract
The establishment of porcine pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs) is critical but remains challenging. All piPSCs are extremely sensitive to minor perturbations of culture conditions and signaling network. Inhibitors, such as CHIR99021 and XAV939 targeting the WNT signaling pathway, have been added in a [...] Read more.
The establishment of porcine pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs) is critical but remains challenging. All piPSCs are extremely sensitive to minor perturbations of culture conditions and signaling network. Inhibitors, such as CHIR99021 and XAV939 targeting the WNT signaling pathway, have been added in a culture medium to modify the cell regulatory network. However, potential side effects of inhibitors could confine the pluripotency and practicability of piPSCs. This study aimed to investigate the roles of AXIN, one component of the WNT pathway in piPSCs. Here, porcine AXIN1 and AXIN2 genes were knocked-down or overexpressed. Digital RNA-seq was performed to explore the mechanism of cell proliferation and apoptosis. We found that (1) overexpression of the porcine AXIN2 gene significantly reduced survival and negatively impacted the pluripotency of piPSCs, and (2) knockdown of AXIN2, a negative effector of the WNT signaling pathway, enhanced the expression of genes involved in cell cycle but reduced the expression of genes related to cell differentiation, death, and apoptosis. Full article
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Article
Lentiviral-Induced Spinal Cord Gliomas in Rat Model
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 12943; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222312943 - 30 Nov 2021
Viewed by 776
Abstract
Intramedullary spinal cord tumors are a rare and understudied cancer with poor treatment options and prognosis. Our prior study used a combination of PDGF-B, HRAS, and p53 knockdown to induce the development of high-grade glioma in the spinal cords of minipigs. In this [...] Read more.
Intramedullary spinal cord tumors are a rare and understudied cancer with poor treatment options and prognosis. Our prior study used a combination of PDGF-B, HRAS, and p53 knockdown to induce the development of high-grade glioma in the spinal cords of minipigs. In this study, we evaluate the ability of each vector alone and combinations of vectors to produce high-grade spinal cord gliomas. Eight groups of rats (n = 8/group) underwent thoracolumbar laminectomy and injection of lentiviral vector in the lateral white matter of the spinal cord. Each group received a different combination of lentiviral vectors expressing PDGF-B, a constitutively active HRAS mutant, or shRNA targeting p53, or a control vector. All animals were monitored once per week for clinical deficits for 98 days. Tissues were harvested and analyzed using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and immunohistochemical (IHC) staining. Rats injected with PDGF-B+HRAS+sh-p53 (triple cocktail) exhibited statistically significant declines in all behavioral measures (Basso Beattie Bresnahan scoring, Tarlov scoring, weight, and survival rate) over time when compared to the control. Histologically, all groups except the control and those injected with sh-p53 displayed the development of tumors at the injection site, although there were differences in the rate of tumor growth and the histopathological features of the lesions between groups. Examination of immunohistochemistry revealed rats receiving triple cocktail displayed the largest and most significant increase in the Ki67 proliferation index and GFAP positivity than any other group. PDGF-B+HRAS also displayed a significant increase in the Ki67 proliferation index. Rats receiving PDGF-B alone and PDGF-B+ sh-p53 displayed more a significant increase in SOX2-positive staining than in any other group. We found that different vector combinations produced differing high-grade glioma models in rodents. The combination of all three vectors produced a model of high-grade glioma more efficiently and aggressively with respect to behavioral, physiological, and histological characteristics than the rest of the vector combinations. Thus, the present rat model of spinal cord glioma may potentially be used to evaluate therapeutic strategies in the future. Full article
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Review
Ferroptosis: A Double-Edged Sword in Gastrointestinal Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(22), 12403; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222212403 - 17 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2335
Abstract
Ferroptosis is a novel form of regulated cell death (RCD) that is typically accompanied by iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation. In contrast to apoptosis, autophagy, and necroptosis, ferroptosis has unique biological processes and pathophysiological characteristics. Since it was first proposed in 2012, ferroptosis [...] Read more.
Ferroptosis is a novel form of regulated cell death (RCD) that is typically accompanied by iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation. In contrast to apoptosis, autophagy, and necroptosis, ferroptosis has unique biological processes and pathophysiological characteristics. Since it was first proposed in 2012, ferroptosis has attracted attention worldwide. Ferroptosis is involved in the progression of multiple diseases and could be a novel therapeutic target in the future. Recently, tremendous progress has been made regarding ferroptosis and gastrointestinal diseases, including intestinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastric cancer (GC), and colorectal cancer (CRC). In this review, we summarize the recent progress on ferroptosis and its interaction with gastrointestinal diseases. Understanding the role of ferroptosis in gastrointestinal disease pathogenesis could provide novel therapeutic targets for clinical treatment. Full article
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Review
Alveologenesis: What Governs Secondary Septa Formation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(22), 12107; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222212107 - 09 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 869
Abstract
The simplification of alveoli leads to various lung pathologies such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and emphysema. Deep insight into the process of emergence of the secondary septa during development and regeneration after pneumonectomy, and into the contribution of the drivers of alveologenesis and neo-alveolarization [...] Read more.
The simplification of alveoli leads to various lung pathologies such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and emphysema. Deep insight into the process of emergence of the secondary septa during development and regeneration after pneumonectomy, and into the contribution of the drivers of alveologenesis and neo-alveolarization is required in an efficient search for therapeutic approaches. In this review, we describe the formation of the gas exchange units of the lung as a multifactorial process, which includes changes in the actomyosin cytoskeleton of alveocytes and myofibroblasts, elastogenesis, retinoic acid signaling, and the contribution of alveolar mesenchymal cells in secondary septation. Knowledge of the mechanistic context of alveologenesis remains incomplete. The characterization of the mechanisms that govern the emergence and depletion of αSMA will allow for an understanding of how the niche of fibroblasts is changing. Taking into account the intense studies that have been performed on the pool of lung mesenchymal cells, we present data on the typing of interstitial fibroblasts and their role in the formation and maintenance of alveoli. On the whole, when identifying cell subpopulations in lung mesenchyme, one has to consider the developmental context, the changing cellular functions, and the lability of gene signatures. Full article
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Article
Affibody Functionalized Beads for the Highly Sensitive Detection of Cancer Cell-Derived Exosomes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 12014; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222112014 - 06 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 991
Abstract
Exosomes belong to the class of extracellular vesicles of endocytic origin, which are regarded as a promising source of cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsy. As a result, an accurate, sensitive, and specific quantification of these nano-sized particles is of significant importance. Affinity-based approaches [...] Read more.
Exosomes belong to the class of extracellular vesicles of endocytic origin, which are regarded as a promising source of cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsy. As a result, an accurate, sensitive, and specific quantification of these nano-sized particles is of significant importance. Affinity-based approaches are recognized as the most valuable technique for exosome isolation and characterization. Indeed, Affibody biomolecules are a type of protein scaffold engineered with small size and enjoy the features of high thermal stability, affinity, and specificity. While the utilization of antibodies, aptamers, and other biologically active substances for exosome detection has been reported widely, there are no reports describing Affibody molecules’ usage for exosome detection. In this study, for the first time, we have proposed a novel strategy of using Affibody functionalized microbeads (AffiBeads) for exosome detection with a high degree of efficiency. As a proof-of-concept, anti-EGFR-AffiBeads were fabricated and applied to capture and detect human lung A549 cancer cell-derived EGFR-positive exosomes using flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy. Moreover, the capture efficiency of the AffiBeads were compared with its counterpart antibody. Our results showed that the Affibody probe had a detection limit of 15.6 ng exosomes per mL (~12 exosomes per AffiBead). The approach proposed in the current study can be used for sensitive detection of low expression level markers on tumor-derived exosomes, providing a basis for early-stage cancer diagnosis. Full article
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Review
Clinical and Molecular Biomarkers for Diagnosis and Staging of NAFLD
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11905; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111905 - 02 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1551
Abstract
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common hepatic pathology in industrialized countries, affecting about 25% of the general population. NAFLD is a benign condition, however, it could evolve toward more serious diseases, including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and finally, hepatocellular [...] Read more.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common hepatic pathology in industrialized countries, affecting about 25% of the general population. NAFLD is a benign condition, however, it could evolve toward more serious diseases, including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and finally, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Liver biopsy is still the gold standard for NAFLD diagnosis. Due to the risks associated with liver biopsy and the impossibility to apply it on a large scale, it is now necessary to identify non-invasive biomarkers, which may reliably identify patients at higher risk of progression. Therefore, several lines of research have tried to address this issue by identifying novel biomarkers using omics approaches, including lipidomics, metabolomics and RNA molecules’ profiling. Thus, in this review, we firstly report the conventional biomarkers used in clinical practice for NAFL and NASH diagnosis as well as fibrosis staging, and secondly, we pay attention to novel biomarkers discovered through omics approaches with a particular focus on RNA biomarkers (microRNAs, long-noncoding RNAs), showing promising diagnostic performance for NAFL/NASH diagnosis and fibrosis staging. Full article
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Review
Sex-Specific MicroRNAs in Neurovascular Units in Ischemic Stroke
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11888; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111888 - 02 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1029
Abstract
Accumulating evidence pinpoints sex differences in stroke incidence, etiology and outcome. Therefore, more understanding of the sex-specific mechanisms that lead to ischemic stroke and aggravation of secondary damage after stroke is needed. Our current mechanistic understanding of cerebral ischemia states that endothelial quiescence [...] Read more.
Accumulating evidence pinpoints sex differences in stroke incidence, etiology and outcome. Therefore, more understanding of the sex-specific mechanisms that lead to ischemic stroke and aggravation of secondary damage after stroke is needed. Our current mechanistic understanding of cerebral ischemia states that endothelial quiescence in neurovascular units (NVUs) is a major physiological parameter affecting the cellular response to neuron, astrocyte and vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) injury. Although a hallmark of the response to injury in these cells is transcriptional activation, noncoding RNAs such as microRNAs exhibit cell-type and context dependent regulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. This review assesses whether sex-specific microRNA expression (either derived from X-chromosome loci following incomplete X-chromosome inactivation or regulated by estrogen in their biogenesis) in these cells controls NVU quiescence, and as such, could differentiate stroke pathophysiology in women compared to men. Their adverse expression was found to decrease tight junction affinity in endothelial cells and activate VSMC proliferation, while their regulation of paracrine astrocyte signaling was shown to neutralize sex-specific apoptotic pathways in neurons. As such, these microRNAs have cell type-specific functions in astrocytes and vascular cells which act on one another, thereby affecting the cell viability of neurons. Furthermore, these microRNAs display actual and potential clinical implications as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in ischemic stroke and in predicting therapeutic response to antiplatelet therapy. In conclusion, this review improves the current mechanistic understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to ischemic stroke in women and highlights the clinical promise of sex-specific microRNAs as novel diagnostic biomarkers for (silent) ischemic stroke. Full article
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Article
Fibulin 2 Is Hypermethylated and Suppresses Tumor Cell Proliferation through Inhibition of Cell Adhesion and Extracellular Matrix Genes in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11834; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111834 - 31 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 777
Abstract
Fibulins (FBLNs), interacting with cell adhesion receptors and extracellular matrix (ECM) components, play multiple roles in ECM structures and tissue functions. Abnormal expression of FBLN2, one of the fibulin family members, contributes to tumor initiation and development. However, the function of FBLN2 in [...] Read more.
Fibulins (FBLNs), interacting with cell adhesion receptors and extracellular matrix (ECM) components, play multiple roles in ECM structures and tissue functions. Abnormal expression of FBLN2, one of the fibulin family members, contributes to tumor initiation and development. However, the function of FBLN2 in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has not yet been elucidated. In this study, we found that FBLN2 was downregulated in 9 out of 11 lung cancer cell lines compared to normal bronchial epithelial cells, which was associated with DNA hypermethylation. Primary lung squamous cell carcinoma expressed significantly more FBLN2 protein compared to adenocarcinoma (p = 0.047). Ectopic expression of FBLN2 led to decreased cell proliferation, migration and invasion, accompanied by inactivated MAPK/ERK and AKT/mTOR pathways, while FBLN2 siRNA knockdown resulted in an opposite biological behaviour in NSCLC cells. Additionally, overexpression of FBLN2 led to dysregulation of cell adhesion molecules, ECM markers and a panel of lysate/exosome-derived-microRNAs, which are involved in cell adhesion and ECM remodelling. Taken together, our data indicate that FBLN2 is methylated and exerts a tumor suppressor function through modulation of MAPK/ERK and AKT pathways and regulation of cell adhesion and ECM genes. Moreover, FBLN2 might be a potential biomarker for the sub-classification of NSCLC. Full article
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Article
Ventricular TLR4 Levels Abrogate TLR2-Mediated Adverse Cardiac Remodeling upon Pressure Overload in Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11823; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111823 - 30 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 927
Abstract
Involvement of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in maladaptive cardiac remodeling and heart failure (HF) upon pressure overload has been studied extensively, but less is known about the role of TLR2. Interplay and redundancy of TLR4 with TLR2 have been reported in other [...] Read more.
Involvement of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in maladaptive cardiac remodeling and heart failure (HF) upon pressure overload has been studied extensively, but less is known about the role of TLR2. Interplay and redundancy of TLR4 with TLR2 have been reported in other organs but were not investigated during cardiac dysfunction. We explored whether TLR2 deficiency leads to less adverse cardiac remodeling upon chronic pressure overload and whether TLR2 and TLR4 additively contribute to this. We subjected 35 male C57BL/6J mice (wildtype (WT) or TLR2 knockout (KO)) to sham or transverse aortic constriction (TAC) surgery. After 12 weeks, echocardiography and electrocardiography were performed, and hearts were extracted for molecular and histological analysis. TLR2 deficiency (n = 14) was confirmed in all KO mice by PCR and resulted in less hypertrophy (heart weight to tibia length ratio (HW/TL), smaller cross-sectional cardiomyocyte area and decreased brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) mRNA expression, p < 0.05), increased contractility (QRS and QTc, p < 0.05), and less inflammation (e.g., interleukins 6 and 1β, p < 0.05) after TAC compared to WT animals (n = 11). Even though TLR2 KO TAC animals presented with lower levels of ventricular TLR4 mRNA than WT TAC animals (13.2 ± 0.8 vs. 16.6 ± 0.7 mg/mm, p < 0.01), TLR4 mRNA expression was increased in animals with the largest ventricular mass, highest hypertrophy, and lowest ejection fraction, leading to two distinct groups of TLR2 KO TAC animals with variations in cardiac remodeling. This variation, however, was not seen in WT TAC animals even though heart weight/tibia length correlated with expression of TLR4 in these animals (r = 0.078, p = 0.005). Our data suggest that TLR2 deficiency ameliorates adverse cardiac remodeling and that ventricular TLR2 and TLR4 additively contribute to adverse cardiac remodeling during chronic pressure overload. Therefore, both TLRs may be therapeutic targets to prevent or interfere in the underlying molecular processes. Full article
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Article
Retinal Degeneration and Microglial Dynamics in Mature Progranulin-Deficient Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11557; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111557 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 694
Abstract
Progranulin (PGRN) is a secreted glycoprotein that regulates numerous cellular processes. The role of PGRN as a regulator of lysosomes has recently received attention. The purpose of this study was to characterize the retinal phenotype in mature PGRN knockout (Grn−/−) [...] Read more.
Progranulin (PGRN) is a secreted glycoprotein that regulates numerous cellular processes. The role of PGRN as a regulator of lysosomes has recently received attention. The purpose of this study was to characterize the retinal phenotype in mature PGRN knockout (Grn−/−) mice. The a-wave amplitude of scotopic electroretinogram and outer nuclear thickness were significantly reduced at 6 months of age in Grn−/− mice compared to wild-type (Grn+/+) mice. In Grn−/− mice, retinal microglial cells accumulated on the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) apical layer, and the number of infiltrated microglia and white fundus lesions between 2 and 6 months of age showed a close affinity. In Grn+/+ mice, PGRN was located in the retina, while the strongest PGRN signals were detected in the RPE-choroid. The different effects of PGRN deficiency on the expression of lysosomal proteins between the retina and RPE-choroid were demonstrated. Our data suggest that the subretinal translocation of microglia is a characteristic phenotype in the retina of mature PGRN knockout mice. The different effects of PGRN deficiency on the expression of lysosomal proteins between the retina and RPE-choroid might modulate microglial dynamics in PGRN knockout mice. Full article
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Article
Expression Pattern of Purinergic Signaling Components in Colorectal Cancer Cells and Differential Cellular Outcomes Induced by Extracellular ATP and Adenosine
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11472; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111472 - 25 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 941
Abstract
The purine nucleotide adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is known for its fundamental role in cellular bioenergetics. However, in the last decades, different works have described emerging functions for ATP, such as that of a danger signaling molecule acting in the extracellular space on both [...] Read more.
The purine nucleotide adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is known for its fundamental role in cellular bioenergetics. However, in the last decades, different works have described emerging functions for ATP, such as that of a danger signaling molecule acting in the extracellular space on both tumor and stromal compartments. Beside its role in immune cell signaling, several studies have shown that high concentrations of extracellular ATP can directly or indirectly act on cancer cells. Accordingly, it has been reported that purinergic receptors are widely expressed in tumor cells. However, their expression pattern is often associated with contradictory cellular outcomes. In this work, we first investigated gene expression profiles through “RNA-Sequencing” (RNA Seq) technology in four colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines (HT29, LS513, LS174T, HCT116). Our results demonstrate that CRC cells mostly express the A2B, P2X4, P2Y1, P2Y2 and P2Y11 purinergic receptors. Among these, the P2Y1 and P2Y2 coding genes are markedly overexpressed in all CRC cells compared to the HCEC-1CT normal-like colonic cells. We then explored the cellular outcomes induced by extracellular ATP and adenosine. Our results show that in terms of cell death induction extracellular ATP is consistently more active than adenosine against CRC, while neither compound affected normal-like colonic cell survival. Intriguingly, while for the P2Y2 receptor pharmacological inhibition completely abolished the rise in cytoplasmic Ca2+ observed after ATP exposure in all CRC cell lines, Ca2+ mobilization only impacted the cellular outcome for HT29. In contrast, non-selective phosphodiesterase inhibition completely abolished the effects of extracellular ATP on CRC cells, suggesting that cAMP and/or cGMP levels might determine cellular outcome. Altogether, our study provides novel insights into the characterization of purinergic signaling in CRC. Full article
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Article
Custodiol® Supplemented with Synthetic Human Relaxin Decreases Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury after Porcine Kidney Transplantation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11417; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111417 - 22 Oct 2021
Viewed by 727
Abstract
Objective. Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) is inevitable after kidney transplantation (KT), impairing outcomes. Relaxin-2 (RLX) is a promising insulin-related peptide hormone that protects against renal IRI in rodents, although large animal models are needed before RLX can be tested in a human setting. Methods. [...] Read more.
Objective. Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) is inevitable after kidney transplantation (KT), impairing outcomes. Relaxin-2 (RLX) is a promising insulin-related peptide hormone that protects against renal IRI in rodents, although large animal models are needed before RLX can be tested in a human setting. Methods. In this blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled experimental study kidneys from 19 donor pigs were retrieved after perfusion with Custodiol® ± RLX (5 or 20 nmol/L) and underwent static cold storage (SCS) for 24 and 48 h, respectively. Subsequently, KT was performed after unilateral right nephrectomy. Study outcomes included markers for kidney function, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and endothelial cell damage. PCR analysis for oxidative stress and apoptosis-related gene panels as well as immunohistochemistry were performed. Results. RLX upregulated SOD2 and NFKB expression to 135% (p = 0.042) and 125% (p = 0.019), respectively, while RIPK1 expression was downregulated to 82% (p = 0.016) of corresponding controls. Further RLX significantly downregulated RIPK1 and MLKL expression and decreased the number of Caspase 3- and MPO-positive cells in grafts after SCS. Conclusions. RLX supplemented Custodiol® significantly decreased IRI via both antioxidant and anti-apoptotic mechanisms. Clinical trials are warranted to implement synthetic human RLX as a novel additive to preservation solutions against IRI. Full article
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