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Medical Specialties / Rheumatology / Chronic Inflammation


Understanding Autoimmunity in the Eye: From Animal Models to Novel Therapies

Abstract: In recent years considerable headway has been made on understanding the mechanisms underlying inflammatory diseases of the eye. This includes the role of the innate vs. adaptive arms of the immune systems in disease, the concept that distinct immune pathways can drive end-organ pathology, and the role as well as limitations of immune privilege in controlling the innate and adaptive effector responses that lead to eye pathology and loss of vision. These insights have largely been derived from basic studies in established and in newly developed animal models of uveitis. The increased understanding of disease mechanisms has the potential to guide development of rational therapies for human uveitis. Many novel biologics currently in use or being evaluated have been developed, or validated, in animal models of autoimmune and inflammatory disease, including experimental uveitis. Paradoxically, and fueled in part by dwindling research budgets, a campaign has been gathering momentum against use of animal models in preclinical research, as being poorly representative of responses in humans. Given the extensive genetic similarity between humans and laboratory rodents as revealed by the Human, Mouse and Rat Genome Projects, and the finding that almost all known disease-associated genes have orthologs in mice and rats, perhaps the problem is our still-insufficient understanding of mechanisms and inadequate knowledge of species differences, resulting in poor choice of models, rather than in an inherent unsuitability of animal models to represent human disease. ... Read more

Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

Abstract: Diabetes has increasingly become a worldwide health problem, causing huge burden on healthcare system and economy. Type 1 diabetes (T1D), traditionally termed "juvenile diabetes" because of an early onset age, is affecting 5~10% of total diabetic population. Insulin injection, the predominant treatment for T1D, is effective to ameliorate the hyperglycemia but incompetent to relieve the autoimmunity and to regenerate lost islets. Islet transplantation, an experimental treatment for T1D, also suffers from limited supply of human islets and poor immunosuppression. The recent progress in regenerative medicine, especially stem cell therapy, has suggested several novel and potential cures for T1D. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) based cell therapy is among one of them. MSCs are a type of adult stem cells residing in bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord blood, and many other tissues. MSCs, with self-renewal potential and transdifferentiation capability, can be expanded in vitro and directed to various cell lineages with relatively less efforts. MSCs have well-characterized hypoimmunogenicity and immunomodulatory effect. All these features make MSCs attractive for treating T1D. Here, we review the properties of MSCs and some of the recent progress using MSCs as a new therapeutic in the treatment of T1D. We also discuss the strength and limitations of using MSC therapy in human trials. ... Read more

Treating IgA Nephropathy: Quid Novi?

Abstract: IgA nephropathy is a common autoimmune renal disease resulting in kidney failure for patients with significant proteinuria. The therapeutic options are limited including non-specific treatment to reduce proteinuria accomplished by renin-angiotensin blockade. Strategies to control intrarenal inflammation include the administration of fish oil and for severe disease the use of immunosuppressive agents such as cyclophosphamide, glucocorticosteroids, and mycophenolate mofetil. In light of the limited option, there is an unmet need for novel therapeutic intervention in patients with progressive disease. Herein, we review the evidence for existing treatment choices and explore new immunopharmacologic agents being investigated for IgA nephropathy. ... Read more

Advances in Mechanisms of Anti-oxidation

Abstract: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a family of molecules that are continuously produced from oxygen consumption in aerobic cells. Controlled generation of ROS in normal cells serves useful purposes to regulate important cellular processes such as cell proliferation, inflammation, and immune response, but overproduction of ROS causes oxidative stress that contributes to the development of cancer, chronic disease, and aging. These hugely different consequences of ROS exposure demand a carefully balanced control of ROS production and disposition, which is largely achieved through the body's elaborate antioxidant system. The human antioxidant system consists of small antioxidants, antioxidant proteins, ROS-metabolizing enzymes, as well as many regulator proteins that mediate adaptive responses to oxidant stress. How such a complex system reacts with oxidants and achieves the required specificity and sensitivity for proper anti-oxidation is incompletely understood. In this respect, new advances in the understanding of the chemistry that determines the reaction of a given oxidant or antioxidant with a protein target provide considerable insights into these and related questions. The findings hold certain promise for new drug development for preventing and treating diseases associated with oxidant tissue damage. ... Read more

Novel Insight into the Role of Alpha-actinin-1 in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Abstract: The knowledge of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathology is rapidly advancing and becoming more and more complex, and a simple fact is that the major organ targeted by RA pathogenic factors is the synovium. It is well known that fibroblast-like synovial (FLS) cell is the major cell-type for constructing synovium. Following stimulation by pro-inflammatory cytokines, FLS cells are phenotypically changed to have the capability to proliferate abnormally. Recently we demonstrated that α-actinin-1 (ACTN1) gene is significantly increased in synovial tissues obtained from RA, as compared to osteoarthritis (OA). We therefore reviewed the literature about α-actinins (ACTNs) and we now propose that ACTN1 may function as a "terminal effector" of intracellular signalings initiated by tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) in RA. Future research on ACTN1 may help to improve the current therapeutic and diagnostic strategies of RA. ... Read more

The Development of Biomarkers for Degenerative Musculoskeletal Conditions

Abstract: With an aging population, degenerative musculoskeletal conditions will become more prevalent with significantly increasing costs to society over the next several decades. The majority of these conditions are diagnosed radiographically, at which point the disease process is often more advanced and challenging to treat. The commonly available radiographic studies also do not adequately provide information as to the exact pain generator and findings often do not correlate either to patient symptoms or function. Personalized medicine involves formulating treatments based on a patient's own biology. The development of biological markers (biomarkers) pertaining to disease is a rapidly growing area within this field of medicine. For degenerative musculoskeletal conditions, biomarkers have the potential to provide an early non-invasive method of assessing the location and severity of tissue damage and presence of inflammation. By outlining mechanisms of disease they could allow the formulation of further treatment targets and through sub-categorizing patients into different groups based on their biomarker profile, one could provide more efficacious treatments for patients. The present article is a review of the development of biomarkers for these purposes specifically as they pertain to degenerative musculoskeletal conditions. ... Read more

Pharmacogenomics in Childhood Rheumatic Disorders: A Foundation for Future Individualized Therapy

Abstract: Investigating the effect of genotype on drug response in children is an evolving field, with many challenges, but there is great potential to optimize safe and effective use of drugs in children. An exponential increase in available medications for use in children with rheumatic disease has opened seemingly endless genotype/phenotype relationships to explore, but challenges inherent in studying rare diseases and the often overlooked role of ontogeny contribute to limitations in pharmacogenomic studies in this population. With careful recognition of the importance of development, improved phenotyping with the incorporation of biomarkers, and expanding collaborative efforts on a national and even international scale, the field of pediatric rheumatology has the opportunity to strategically study the new therapeutic armamentarium available and provide individualized safe and effective therapies to our population of patients. ... Read more

Mechanisms and Treatments for Renal Artery Stenosis

Abstract: Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis (ARAS) is a common and complicated disease, which can result in high blood pressure and loss of kidney function. Although progress has been made in the understanding and treatment of hypertension in relation to ARAS, much less progress has been made in the area of renal function. Here we discuss current treatment options in regard to medical therapy and revascularization. We also describe the proposed mechanisms leading to renal dysfunction, including the CD40 signaling cascade, which is a particularly attractive signaling mechanism that may provide a mechanistic rationale for the development of renal disease in ARAS. ... Read more

A Feedback Regulatory Pathway Between LDL and Alpha 1 Proteinase Inhibitor in Chronic Inflammation and Infection

Abstract: Dietary lipids are transported via lymph to the liver and transformed to lipoproteins which bind to members of the low density lipoprotein receptor family (LDL-RFMs). Certain LDL-RFMs, e.g., very low density lipoprotein receptor (VLDLR), are also bound by inactivated proteinase inhibitors, the most abundant being α1proteinase inhibitor (α1PI, α1antitrypsin). Inflammation/infection, including HIV-1 infection, is accompanied by low levels of CD4+ T cells and active α1PI and high levels of inactivated α1PI. By inducing LDL-RFMs-mediated cellular locomotion, active α1PI regulates the number of CD4+ T cells. We sought to investigate whether CD4+ T cells and α1PI directly impact lipoprotein levels. At the cellular level, we show that active α1PI is required for VLDLR-mediated uptake of receptor-associated cargo, specifically CD4-bound HIV-1. We show that active α1PI levels linearly correlate with LDL levels in HIV-1 infected individuals (P<0.001) and that therapeutic, weekly infusions of active α1PI elevate the number of CD4+ T cells and HDL levels while lowering LDL levels in patients on antiretroviral therapy with controlled HIV-1. Based on the unusual combination of lipodystrophy and low levels of α1PI and CD4+ T cells in HIV-1 disease, we reveal that LDL and α1PI participate in a feedback regulatory pathway. We demonstrate integral roles for sequentially acting active and inactive α1PI in the uptake and recycling of receptors and cargo aggregated with VLDLR including CD4 and chemokine receptors. Evidence supports a role for α1PI as a primary sentinel to deploy the immune system as a consequence of its role in lipoprotein transport. ... Read more

Generalized Pure Cutaneous Rosai-Dorfman Disease: a Link Between Inflammation and Cancer Not Associated with Mitochondrial DNA and SLC29A3 Gene Mutation?

Abstract: Recently, we described a case of generalized pure cutaneous Rosai-Dorfman disease in a 43-year-old Asian man in JAMA. The lesions distributed on nearly all of the skin of the whole body, except for mucous sites. Molecular, immunophenotypic, and sequencing analyses seem to define it as a histiocytic-mesenchymal transition and intermediate proliferative histiocytosis not associated with mtDNA large deletion and pathogenic mutation, as well as the SLC29A3 gene mutation. ... Read more

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