Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic and ultimately fatal disease, characterized by excessive accumulation of fibroblasts, extensive deposition of extracellular matrix, and destruction of alveolar architecture. IPF is associated with an epithelial-dependent fibroblast-activated process, termed the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, there is still a lack of strategies to target EMT for the treatment of IPF. Sunitinib, a small-molecule multi-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor, targets multiple kinases that may play an important role in developing pulmonary fibrosis. Here, we explored the therapeutic potential of sunitinib using a mouse model of pulmonary fibrosis. Mice received intratracheal instillation of bleomycin (BLM). Then, the mice were intragastrically administrated with sunitinib or normal saline until the end of the experiment. Distinguished destruction of pulmonary architecture, conspicuous proliferation of fibroblasts and extensive deposition of collagen fibers were found in BLM mice. Sunitinib attenuated the pulmonary fibrosis and inhibited the accumulation of fibroblasts in the lung of BLM mice. To investigate if the inhibition of fibroblast accumulation in the lung by sunitinib was associated with EMT, we used human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEs) and W138 human lung fibroblasts. Sunitinib suppressed the degree of EMT induced by TGF-β, a profibrotic factor, in HBEs and the proliferation of WI38 fibroblasts. Moreover, sunitinib reduced the degree of phosphorylation of serine residues on Smad2/3 that was induced by TGF-β in HBEs. As EMT and accumulation of fibroblasts are critical for the development of pulmonary fibrosis, targeting multiple pro-fibrosis signaling pathways with sunitinib may be a novel strategy to treat pulmonary fibrosis.
Patients with renal failure undergoing hemodialysis (HD) are susceptible to muscle cramps during and after HD. Muscle cramps are defined as the sudden onset of a prolonged involuntary muscle contraction accompanied by severe pain. Through HD, water-soluble vitamins are drawn out with water. Since biotin, a water-soluble vitamin, plays an essential role as one of the coenzymes in producing energy, we have hypothesized that deficiency of biotin may be responsible for HD-associated cramps. We previously reported that biotin administration ameliorated the muscle cramps, despite the elevated plasma biotin levels before HD and biotin administration, as judged by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). However, the ELISA measures not only biotin but also total avidin-binding substances (TABS) including biotin metabolites. In the present study, we determined biotin in HD patients as well as healthy controls, using a newly developed method with ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). The plasma samples were collected from 28 HD patients (16 patients with cramps and 12 patients without cramps) before HD and biotin administration and from 11 controls. The results showed that the accumulation of biotin and TABS in plasma of HD patients compared to controls. Importantly, the levels of biotin metabolites, i.e. TABS subtracted by biotin, increased significantly in patients with cramps over those without cramps. Moreover, the levels of biotin metabolites were significantly higher in patients with a poor response to administered biotin, compared to those with a good response. We propose that accumulated biotin metabolites impair biotin’s functions as a coenzyme.
Glioma has a poor prognosis due to its rapid overgrowth, diffuse invasion, and chemotherapy resistance. The improvements in clinical outcome are still limited and the identification of novel biomarkers involved in the progression of gliomas is still under critical demands. Amino acid ADP-ribosyltransferase 1 (ART1) is an enzyme that catalyzes the mono-ADP-ribosylation, a reversible post-translational modification. For example, the mono-ADP-ribosylation of transcription factors can affect their binding to target gene promoters. However, the functional significance of ART1 in glioma has not been reported. We collected 107 glioma cases from Qianfoshan Hospital and Yidu Central Hospital of Weifang between April 2008 and September 2015 to analyze the prognosis value of ART1 in gliomas. RT-qPCR analysis showed that the expression level of ART1 mRNA in glioma tissues was 4-fold higher than that in normal brain tissues. According to the immunohistochemical staining results, 44 patients (41.1%) were categorized as ART1 positive (≥ 20% of stained glioma cells), while the other 63 patients (58.9%) categorized as ART1 negative (< 20% of stained glioma cells). Moreover, the mean percentage of ART1-positive cells was 43.7%, 53.6% and 64.2% in WHO grade II, III and IV specimens, respectively. Through univariate and multivariate analyses, we identified ART1 as an independent prognostic factor. We also found that ART1 overexpression in U251 glioblastoma cells could significantly decrease the susceptibility to vincristine, one of tubulin-targeted drugs, which is widely used in clinical treatment for glioma. Taken together, we propose that up-regulation of ART1 expression is associated with the aggressiveness of glioma.
Selenium is an essential trace element with an inhibitory effect on many types of human cancers, including gastric cancer. Selenium-binding protein 1 (SBP1) has been shown as a possible mediator of selenium’s anti-cancer functions. Indeed, SBP1 was downregulated in gastric cancer, which is related with poor prognosis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-tumor effects of SBP1 remain poorly understood. In this study, we aimed to assess the effects of selenium and/or SBP1 on the proliferation of gastric cancer cells. We used SGC7901 and N87 human gastric cancer cell lines and nude mice carrying subcutaneously implanted SGC7901 cells. Treatment with sodium selenite for 48 h caused the inhibition of cell proliferation and the increase in apoptosis of SGC7901 and N87 cells. Furthermore, sodium selenite increased the expression level of SBP1 and decreased the levels of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and the Wnt pathway components and its downstream targets, including β-catenin, GSK-3β, c-myc and cyclinD1 in these cell lines. However, these effects of sodium selenite were attenuated in SGC7901 and N87 cells by knockdown of SBP1 expression. Thus, the sodium selenite-induced SBP1 expression is associated with the inhibition of cell proliferation and with the induced apoptosis. Importantly, sodium selenite treatment retarded the growth of the transplanted SGC7901 cells in nude mice, with the induction of SBP1 expression, which was associated with the decrease of Nrf2 expression and the inactivation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. We suggest that sodium selenite may have a potential application in gastric cancer treatment.
Placental-derived mesenchymal stem cells (pMSCs) are promising candidates for regenerative medicine because they possess high proliferative capacity and multi-differentiation potential. Human pMSCs are residing in an environment with low oxygen tension in the body. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is known to participate in the regulation of MSC differentiation. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of hypoxia on the osteogenic differentiation of human pMSCs, and to elucidate the role of HO-1 in the osteogenic differentiation of hypoxic pMSCs. Human pMSCs were cultured under normoxia (21% O2) or hypoxia (5% O2) for 3 days. We found that hypoxia maintained the morphology and immunophenotype of human pMSCs. The expression of stemness markers Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2 was increased under hypoxia. After a 5-day hypoxic culture, the proliferation ability of pMSCs was increased, which might be correlated with the increased expression of stem cell factor. During osteogenic induction, hypoxia increased the expression of osteogenic genes including osteopontin, osteocalcin, and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Moreover, hypoxia increased the mineralization and ALP levels of human pMSCs as evidenced by Alizarin Red staining and ALP staining. Upregulation of HO-1 by cobalt-protoporphyrin treatment increased the osteogenic differentiation of pMSCs under hypoxia, while inhibition of HO-1 by Zn-protoporphyrin reduced the osteogenic differentiation of hypoxic pMSCs. Taken together, our data suggest that hypoxia can promote the osteogenic differentiation of human pMSCs. Upregulation of HO-1 can further increase the osteogenesis of human pMSCs under hypoxia. Our findings will highlight the therapeutic potential of MSCs in the tissue engineering of bones.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by extensive fibrosis and autoantibodies. Its clinical manifestations are diverse and include Raynaud’s phenomenon, gastrointestinal dysmotility, interstitial lung disease (ILD), pulmonary hypertension, and renal crisis. Among these, ILD is the primary cause of SSc-related death. It has been considered that acute exacerbation of ILD (AE-ILD) is not common in patients with SSc; however, little is known about the prevalence of AE-ILD in Japanese patients with SSc. In this study, we aimed to clarify the prevalence, clinical characteristics, and prognosis of patients with SSc who developed AE-ILD and to identify predictive factors for AE-ILD in our Japanese cohorts. Clinical data of patients who visited our department from 1990 to 2014 and fulfilled the 2013 classification criteria for SSc were retrospectively reviewed. A total of 139 patients were enrolled. The mean age of onset was 49.1 years, and 113 (81.3%) patients were female; 116 (83.5%) had limited cutaneous involvement, and the overall 10-year survival rate was 92.0%. Among 66 (47.5%) patients with ILD, 13 (9.4%) developed AE-ILD. Patients with AE-ILD had a significantly higher incidence of overlap with polymyositis (PM) or dermatomyositis (DM) and lower prevalence of anticentromere antibodies with higher mortality rate compared with those without AE-ILD. Multivariate Cox regression analysis identified that an overlap with PM or DM was the most significant predictive factor for AE-ILD. Our study results suggest that Japanese patients with SSc, particularly patients overlapped with PM or DM, have a high risk of AE-ILD.
Several studies have reported that not only patients with chronic diseases but also their partners are likely to face major psychosocial problems. This study examined the association between a partner’s ongoing treatment for chronic disease and the risk of psychological distress after the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE). In 2012, a questionnaire was distributed as part of a cross-sectional study of participants aged 20 years or older living in a municipality that had been severely inundated by the tsunami following the GEJE. We identified couples using the household numbers of the municipality and collected self-reported information on ongoing chronic disease treatment for stroke, cancer, myocardial infarction, and angina. Psychological distress was evaluated using the Kessler 6 scale (K6) and was defined as a score ≥ 5/24 points. Among 1,246 couples (2,492 participants) thus identified, 2,369 completed the K6. The number of participants whose partners were under treatment for chronic diseases was 209 (9%). Overall, participants with partners who were receiving treatment for chronic diseases (odds ratio [OR] = 1.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95-1.8, P = 0.09) did not show a significantly higher risk of psychological distress using logistic regression analysis. Women, but not men, whose partners were receiving treatment for chronic diseases, had a higher risk of psychological distress (women: OR = 1.6, P = 0.02; men: OR = 1.0, P = 0.92). After the GEJE, only in women the presence of partners under treatment for chronic diseases appears to be a risk factor for psychological distress.
Transplantation using grafts obtained after cardiac death (CD) is considered a promising solution for graft shortages. However, no standard criteria for organ preservation have been established for CD donors. High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a DNA-binding protein that is released from dying hepatocytes as an early mediator of inflammation and organ tissue damage. HMGB1 stimulates immunocytes to produce inflammatory cytokines, thereby amplifying the inflammatory response. Thrombomodulin is an integral membrane protein that functions as an endothelial anticoagulant cofactor, and it binds HMGB1 through the extracellular domain. We investigated the effects of ART-123, recombinant human soluble thrombomodulin, on warm ischemia-reperfusion injury in liver grafts. Male Wistar rats were divided into four ex vivo groups: heart-beating (HB) group, in which livers were isolated from HB donors; CD group, in which livers were isolated from CD donors exposed to apnea-induced conditions and warm ischemic conditions for 30 min after cardiac arrest; and two CD groups pretreated with ART-123 (1 or 5 mg/kg). Each isolated liver was reperfused for 1 h after cold preservation for 6 h. The perfusate levels of HMGB1, LDH, TNF-α, and IL-6 were significantly lower in the CD group pretreated with ART-123 (5 mg/kg) than in the CD group. Bile production was significantly higher in the CD group pretreated with ART-123 (5 mg/kg) than in the CD group. The sinusoidal spaces were significantly narrower in the CD group than in the other groups. We propose that ART-123 maintains sinusoidal microcirculation by reducing endothelial cell damage during warm ischemia-reperfusion injury.
The evidence suggests that mentoring is one of useful teaching methods in academic medicine but it is not clear for which outcome mentoring is effective. In this study, the authors investigated the number of original research articles that the participants had published in peer-reviewed English-language journals (as a first or a corresponding author) within one year prior to investigation and what characteristics of the participants who published at least one paper would be like compared to those who did not. In March 2015, the authors recruit early- and mid-career Japanese physicians (238 men and 240 women; mean age 40.6 years old) in a web survey. In total, 23.9% of physicians had published at least one original research article as a first author, 10.0% had published as a corresponding author, and 23.4% had a research mentor. A multivariate logistic regression model adjusting for variables selected at p < 0.15 in univariable models showed that even after adjusting for their motivation levels for clinical research, physicians with a research mentor [odds ratio (OR) 6.68; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3.74-11.93], physicians who obtained DMSc, roughly equivalent to PhD in the West (OR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.26-3.72), and physicians who worked at teaching hospitals (OR 6.39; 95% CI, 2.54-16.04) were more likely to publish an original paper in a peer-reviewed journal. Having a research mentor or DMSc is associated with an experience of successfully publishing original papers in peer-reviewed journals for young and mid-career physician-researchers.
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011 and thyroid examinations of children in Fukushima, the Radiation Medical Science Center began “Explanatory meetings on thyroid examination” as a method of communication with residents such as the subjects themselves and their guardians. Through questionnaires, we examined the relationship between anxiety (regarding the effects of radiation on the thyroid) before the meetings and individual attributes including attitudes on radiation, and then verified the effects of the meetings using measures of anxiety, comprehension, and satisfaction, as the outcomes. Of the meetings in 2014-2015, 799 people attended 30 sessions in Kenchu, Kenpoku, Iwaki, Soso, and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, and 594 people responded the questionnaires before and after the meetings on the same day. Level of anxiety before the meetings varied depending on individual attributes (including attitudes regarding collection information on radiation, advisors on radiation, and levels of subjective understanding), highlighting the importance of presenting information about radiation in a manner that is easy to understand, as well as providing opportunities for the exchange of opinions. Participation in meetings reduced anxiety. This was largely attributed to explanations about general characteristics of cancer and objective facts, including doses; status of the Chernobyl accident; and comparison in results of thyroid examinations with other prefectures in Japan. An opportunity for a question-and-answer session also contributed to increased overall satisfaction. The lower number of meeting participants was associated with anxiety reduction and higher subjective comprehension. The present findings obtained will be useful to facilitate evidence-based risk communication.