Arachidonic acid lipoxygenases (ALOXs) have been implicated in the immune response of mammals. The reaction specificity of these enzymes is decisive for their biological functions and ALOX classification is based on this enzyme property. Comparing the amino acid sequences and the functional properties of selected mammalian ALOX15 orthologs we previously hypothesized that the reaction specificity of these enzymes can be predicted based on their amino acid sequences (Triad Concept) and that mammals, which are ranked in evolution below gibbons, express arachidonic acid 12-lipoxygenating ALOX15 orthologs. In contrast, Hominidae involving the great apes and humans possess 15-lipoxygenating enzymes (Evolutionary Hypothesis). These two hypotheses were based on sequence data of some 60 mammalian ALOX15 orthologs and about half of them were functionally characterized. Here, we compared the ALOX15 sequences of 152 mammals representing all major mammalian subclades expressed 44 novel ALOX15 orthologs and performed extensive mutagenesis studies of their triad determinants. We found that ALOX15 genes are absent in extant Prototheria but that corresponding enzymes frequently occur in Metatheria and Eutheria. More than 90% of them catalyze arachidonic acid 12-lipoxygenation and the Triad Concept is applicable to all of them. Mammals ranked in evolution above gibbons express arachidonic acid 15-lipoxygenating ALOX15 orthologs but enzymes with similar specificity are only present in less than 5% of mammals ranked below gibbons. This data suggests that ALOX15 orthologs have been introduced during Prototheria-Metatheria transition and put the Triad Concept and the Evolutionary Hypothesis on a much broader and more reliable experimental basis.View less
Historical clinical trial registry data can only be retrieved by manually accessing individual clinical trials through registry websites. This limits the feasibility, accuracy and reproducibility of certain kinds of research on clinical trial activity and presents challenges to the transparency of the enterprise of human research. This paper presents cthist, a novel, free and open source R package that enables automated scraping of clinical trial registry entry histories and returns structured data for analysis. Documentation of the implementation of the package cthist is provided, as well as 3 brief case studies with example code.View less
Background: Antiviral drugs have shown little impact in patient infected with acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Especially for immunocompromised persons positive for SARS-CoV-2, novel treatments are warranted. Recently, the U.S. FDA has granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) to two monoclonal antibodies (mAb) targeting the viral spike protein: bamlanivimab and casivirimab and imdevimab. As per the EUA, all SARS-CoV-2 positive organ transplant recipients can receive mAb treatment.
Patients and methods: We queried our center's transplant registry to identify SARS-CoV-2 infected recipients treated with single doses of either Bamlanivimab or casivirimab/imdevimab up to May 31, 2021. We analyzed clinical outcomes, renal function and virus-specific antibodies. The co-primary endpoints were hospitalization due to COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR negativity.
Results: Thirteen patients at a median interval of 55 (IQR, 26-110) months from transplant were treated: 8 with bamlanivimab and 5 with casivirimab/imdevimab. In all, 4/13 (31%) patients were hospitalized at some time, while 11/13 (85%) achieved PCR negativity. 2/4 hospitalized patients received mAb as rescue treatment. Overall mortality was 23%, with one death attributable to transplant-associated lymphoma. All six patients infected with the B 1.1.7 variant were alive at last contact.
Conclusion: mAb treatment appears effective when administered early to SARS-CoV-2-infected transplant recipients.View less
Placental hypoperfusion and hypoxia are key drivers in complications during fetal development such as fetal growth restriction and preeclampsia. In order to study the mechanisms of disease in mouse models, the development of quantitative biomarkers of placental hypoxia is a prerequisite. The goal of this exploratory study was to establish a technique to noninvasively characterize placental partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) in vivo in the Lgals1 (lectin, galactoside-binding, soluble, 1) deficient mouse model of preeclampsia using fluorine magnetic resonance imaging. We hypothesized a decrease in placental oxygenation in knockout mice. Wildtype and knockout animals received fluorescently labeled perfluoro-5-crown-15-ether nanoemulsion i.v. on day E14-15 during pregnancy. Placental PO2 was assessed via calibrated F-19 MRI saturation recovery T-1 mapping. A gas challenge with varying levels of oxygen in breathing air (30%, 60% and 100% O-2) was used to validate that changes in oxygenation can be detected in freely breathing, anesthetized animals. At the end of the experiment, fluorophore-coupled lectin was injected i.v. to label the vasculature for histology. Differences in PO2 between breathing conditions and genotype were statistically analyzed with linear mixed-effects modeling. As expected, a significant increase in PO2 with increasing oxygen in breathing air was found. PO2 in Lgals1 knockout animals was decreased but this effect was only present at 30% oxygen in breathing air, not at 60% and 100%. Histological examinations showed crossing of the perfluorocarbon nanoemulsion to the fetal blood pool but the dominating contribution of 19F MR signal is estimated at>70% from maternal plasma based on volume fraction measurements of previous studies. These results show for the first time that 19F MRI can characterize oxygenation in mouse models of placental malfunction.View less
Mortality of patients with end-stage renal disease tremendously exceeds that of the general population due to excess cardiovascular morbidity. Large middle-sized molecules (LMM) including pro-inflammatory cytokines are major drivers of uremic cardiovascular toxicity and cannot be removed sufficiently by conventional high-flux (HFL) hemodialysis. We tested the ability of plasma from 19 hemodialysis patients participating in a trial comparing HFL with high cut-off (HCO) membranes facilitating removal of LMM to induce calcification in mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) functioning as vascular progenitors. HCO dialysis favorably changed plasma composition resulting in reduced pro-calcific activity. LMM were removed more effectively by HCO dialysis including FGF23, a typical LMM we found to promote osteoblastic differentiation of MSC. Protein-bound uremic retention solutes with known cardiovascular toxicity but not LMM inhibited proliferation of MSC without direct toxicity in screening experiments. We could not attribute the effect of HCO dialysis on MSC calcification to distinct mediators. However, we found evidence of sustained reduced inflammation that might parallel other anti-calcifying mechanisms such as altered generation of extracellular vesicles. Our findings imply protection of MSC from dysfunctional differentiation by novel dialysis techniques targeted at removal of LMM. HCO dialysis might preserve their physiologic role in vascular regeneration and improve outcomes in dialysis patients.View less
Micro-CT provides critical data for musculoskeletal research, yielding three-dimensional datasets containing distributions of mineral density. Using high-resolution scans, we quantified changes in the fine architecture of bone in the spine of young mice. This data is made available as a reference to physiological cancellous bone growth. The scans (n = 19) depict the extensive structural changes typical for female C57BL/6 mice pups, aged 1-, 3-, 7-, 10- and 14-days post-partum, as they attain the mature geometry. We reveal the micro-morphology down to individual trabeculae in the spine that follow phases of mineral-tissue rearrangement in the growing lumbar vertebra on a micrometer length scale. Phantom data is provided to facilitate mineral density calibration. Conventional histomorphometry matched with our micro-CT data on selected samples confirms the validity and accuracy of our 3D scans. The data may thus serve as a reference for modeling normal bone growth and can be used to benchmark other experiments assessing the effects of biomaterials, tissue growth, healing, and regeneration.View less
Taste is one of the crucial organoleptic properties involved in the perception of food by humans. Taste of a chemical compound present in food stimulates us to take in food and avoid poisons. Bitter taste of drugs presents compliance problems and early flagging of potential bitterness of a drug candidate may help with its further development. Similarly, the taste of chemicals present in food is important for evaluation of food quality in the industry. In this work, we have implemented machine learning models to predict three different taste endpoints-sweet, bitter and sour. The VirtualTaste models achieved an overall accuracy of 90% and an AUC of 0.98 in 10-fold cross-validation and in an independent test set. The web server takes a two-dimensional chemical structure as input and reports the chemical's taste profile for three tastes-using molecular fingerprints along with confidence scores, including information on similar compounds with known activity from the training set and an overall radar chart. Additionally, insights into 25 bitter receptors are also provided via target prediction for the predicted bitter compounds. VirtualTaste, to the best of our knowledge, is the first freely available web-based platform for the prediction of three different tastes of compounds. It is accessible via http://virtualtaste.charite.de/VirtualTaste/without any login requirements and is free to use.View less
Genetic variants in UMOD associate with kidney function and hypertension. These phenotypes are also linked to sex-related differences and impairment in cognitive and physical function in older age. Here we evaluate longitudinal associations between a common UMOD rs4293393-A>G variant and changes in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), blood pressure (BP), cognitive and physical function parameters in older participants in the BASE-II after long-term follow-up as part of the GendAge study. Overall, 1010 older participants (mean age 75.7 ± 3.7 years, 51.6% women) were analyzed after follow-up (mean 7.4 years) both in cross-sectional analysis and in longitudinal analysis as compared to baseline. In cross-sectional analysis, heterozygous G-allele carriers exhibited significantly higher eGFR values (AA, 71.3 ml/min/1.73 m2, 95% CI, 70.3-72.3 vs. AG, 73.5 ml/min/1.73 m2, 95% CI, 72.1-74.9, P = 0.033). Male heterozygous G-allele carriers had lower odds of eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 (OR 0.51, 95% CI, 0.28-0.95, P = 0.032) and in Timed Up and Go-Test ≥ 10 s (OR 0.50, 95% CI, 0.29-0.85, P = 0.011) whereas women were less likely to have hypertension (OR 0.58, CI, 0.37-0.91, P = 0.018). UMOD genotypes were not significantly associated with longitudinal changes in any investigated phenotype. Thus, while the impact of UMOD rs4293393 on kidney function is maintained in aging individuals, this variant has overall no impact on longitudinal changes in BP, kidney, cognitive or functional phenotypes. However, our results suggest a possible sex-specific modifying effect of UMOD on eGFR and physical function in men and hypertension prevalence in women.View less
In genome-wide association studies, genetic variants in the UMOD gene associate with kidney function, blood pressure (BP), and hypertension. Elevated BP is linked to kidney function and impaired cognitive as well as physical performance in later life. We investigated the association between UMOD rs4293393-A > G and kidney function, BP, cognitive and physical function in the Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II). Data of 1556 older BASE-II participants (mean age 68.2 ± 3.7 years) were analyzed. BP was determined by standardized automated measurements, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) by CKD Epidemiology Collaboration creatinine equation. Cognitive function was assessed by Mini-Mental State Examination and Digit Symbol Substitution Test, while physical function by Handgrip Strength and Timed Up and Go-Test. Association analyses were performed by covariance and logistic regression models adjusting for sex. G-allele carriers at UMOD rs4293393 exhibited significantly higher eGFR values compared to non-carriers (AA, 76.4 ml/min/1.73 m², CI: 75.7-77.2 vs. AG, 78.4 ml/min/1.73 m², CI: 77.3-79.5 vs. GG, 78.5 ml/min/1.73 m², CI: 75.4-81.7; P = 0.010), and a lower risk of eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 (AG, OR: 0.63, CI: 0.41-0.97, P = 0.033). However, UMOD rs4293393 genotypes were not associated with BP, diagnosis of hypertension or cognitive and physical function parameters. Our data corroborate previous findings on the association of UMOD rs4293393-G with better kidney function in older adults. However, no association between UMOD and BP or physical and cognitive parameters in these community-dwelling older adults was detected.View less
Die Bestandsaufnahme widmet sich der seit Corona so viel diskutierten RNA. Sie versucht, den gesamten Bereich der RNA-Forschung abzubilden und beschreibt den aktuellen Stand der Grundlagenforschung zur RNA-Biologie wie auch die immer wichtigere Rolle unterschiedlicher RNAs in der medizinischen Diagnostik und in der Therapie von Krankheiten.
In this case-control study, the erythropoietin (EPO) promoter variant s1617640, linked to high intravitreal EPO concentrations and increased risk of diabetic retinopathy, was not associated with severe retinopathy of prematurity. This finding was observed both in infants with and without recombinant EPO administration.
Generation of circadian rhythms is cell-autonomous and relies on a transcription/translation feedback loop controlled by a family of circadian clock transcription factor activators including CLOCK, BMAL1 and repressors such as CRY1 and CRY2. The aim of the present study was to examine both the molecular mechanism and the hemopoietic implication of circadian erythropoietin expression. Mutant mice with homozygous deletion of the core circadian clock genes cryptochromes 1 and 2 (Cry-null) were used to elucidate circadian erythropoietin regulation. Wild-type control mice exhibited a significant difference in kidney erythropoietin mRNA expression between circadian times 06 and 18. In parallel, a significantly higher number of erythropoietin-producing cells in the kidney (by RNAscope®) and significantly higher levels of circulating erythropoietin protein (by ELISA) were detected at circadian time 18. Such changes were abolished in Cry-null mice and were independent from oxygen tension, oxygen saturation, or expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 2 alpha, indicating that circadian erythropoietin expression is transcriptionally regulated by CRY1 and CRY2. Reporter gene assays showed that the CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimer activated an E-box element in the 5' erythropoietin promoter. RNAscope® in situ hybridization confirmed the presence of Bmal1 in erythropoietin-producing cells of the kidney. In Cry-null mice, a significantly reduced number of reticulocytes was found while erythrocyte numbers and hematocrit were unchanged. Thus, circadian erythropoietin regulation in the normoxic adult murine kidney is transcriptionally controlled by master circadian activators CLOCK/BMAL1, and repressors CRY1/CRY2. These findings may have implications for kidney physiology and disease, laboratory diagnostics, and anemia therapy.View less
We have recently reported that hypoxia stimulates transcription of the TrkB neurotrophin receptor in cultured cells via stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha. Here we investigated whether the expression of TrkB and other neurotrophin receptors is oxygen-sensitive also in vivo, and explored the functional consequences of an oxygen-regulated TrkB expression.
Rats were exposed either to 21% O(2) or 8% O(2) for 6 h and TrkB was analysed by reverse transcription real-time PCR, in situ mRNA hybridization, and immunological techniques. The importance of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-TrkB pathway in the control of mechanical airway function was assessed on isolated tracheal segments from normoxic and hypoxic rats.
TrkB transcripts were increased approx. 15-fold in the lungs of hypoxic rats, and the respiratory epithelium was identified as the site of enhanced TrkB expression in hypoxia. The TrkB ligand, BDNF, significantly increased the contractile response to acetylcholine (ACh) of isolated tracheal segments from hypoxic but not from normoxic rats. This effect of BDNF was prevented by pre-incubation of the tissue specimens with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor K252a and by mechanical removal of the TrkB containing airway epithelium. Likewise, the nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor l-NAME abrogated the influence of BDNF on ACh-induced contractions of isolated tracheal segments from hypoxic rats.
These results demonstrate that systemic hypoxia stimulates expression of the TrkB neurotrophin receptor in the airway epithelium. Furthermore, activation of TrkB signalling by BDNF in hypoxia enhances mechanical airway contractility to ACh through a mechanism that requires NO.View less
Cytokine signaling, especially interferon (IFN) signaling is closely linked to several aspects of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. During initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic patients present with impaired type I/III IFN-mediated antiviral responses. Interestingly, IFNs regulate the cellular entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2 on epithelial and endothelial cells. As reported recently, critically ill COVID-19 patients show genetic polymorphisms in one IFN receptor gene (IFNRA2) and in a gene locus near the Janus kinase (JAK) TYK2, which is key for IFN, interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23 signaling, and T helper (Th) 1/Th17 cell-mediated antiviral immune responses. In the advanced stage of the disease, critically ill COVID-19 patients develop a cytokine storm where many inflammatory mediators using the JAK/STAT signaling pathway such as IL-6, IFN-gamma, the granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or IL-2, and chemokines result in an influx of macrophages and neutrophils damaging the lung tissue. The knowledge on the cytokine and JAK/STAT signaling pathways in severe COVID-19 disease explains the promising first results with JAK inhibitors like baricitinib, which not only dampen the inflammation but in the case of baricitinib also affect virus replication and endocytosis in target cells. Here, we summarize the current immunological associations of SARS-CoV-2 infection with cytokine signaling, the JAK/STAT pathway, and the current clinical stage of JAK inhibitors for improving severe COVID-19 disease.View less
The interferon pathway, a key antiviral defense mechanism, is being considered as a therapeutic target in COVID-19. Both, substitution of interferon and JAK/STAT inhibition to limit cytokine storms have been proposed. However, little is known about possible abnormalities in STAT signaling in immune cells during SARS-CoV-2 infection. We investigated downstream targets of interferon signaling, including STAT1, STAT2, pSTAT1 and 2, and IRF1, 7 and 9 by flow cytometry in 30 patients with COVID-19, 17 with mild, and 13 with severe infection. We report upregulation of STAT1 and IRF9 in mild and severe COVID-19 cases, which correlated with the IFN-signature assessed by Siglec-1 (CD169) expression on peripheral monocytes. Interestingly, Siglec-1 and STAT1 in CD14+ monocytes and plasmablasts showed lower expression among severe cases compared to mild cases. Contrary to the baseline STAT1 expression, the phosphorylation of STAT1 was enhanced in severe COVID-19 cases, indicating a dysbalanced JAK/STAT signaling that fails to induce transcription of interferon stimulated response elements (ISRE). This abnormality persisted after IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma stimulation of PBMCs from patients with severe COVID-19. Data suggest impaired STAT1 transcriptional upregulation among severely infected patients may represent a potential predictive biomarker and would allow stratification of patients for certain interferon-pathway targeted treatments.View less
Aims: Viral-induced cardiac inflammation can induce heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF)-like syndromes. COVID-19 can lead to myocardial damage and vascular injury. We hypothesised that COVID-19 patients frequently develop a HFpEF-like syndrome, and designed this study to explore this.
Methods and results: Cardiac function was assessed in 64 consecutive, hospitalized, and clinically stable COVID-19 patients from April-November 2020 with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≥50% (age 56 ± 19 years, females: 31%, severe COVID-19 disease: 69%). To investigate likelihood of HFpEF presence, we used the HFA-PEFF score. A low (0-1 points), intermediate (2-4 points), and high (5-6 points) HFA-PEFF score was observed in 42%, 33%, and 25% of patients, respectively. In comparison, 64 subjects of similar age, sex, and comorbidity status without COVID-19 showed these scores in 30%, 66%, and 4%, respectively (between groups: P = 0.0002). High HFA-PEFF scores were more frequent in COVID-19 patients than controls (25% vs. 4%, P = 0.001). In COVID-19 patients, the HFA-PEFF score significantly correlated with age, estimated glomerular filtration rate, high-sensitivity troponin T (hsTnT), haemoglobin, QTc interval, LVEF, mitral E/A ratio, and H2 FPEF score (all P < 0.05). In multivariate, ordinal regression analyses, higher age and hsTnT were significant predictors of increased HFA-PEFF scores. Patients with myocardial injury (hsTnT ≥14 ng/L: 31%) vs. patients without myocardial injury, showed higher HFA-PEFF scores [median 5 (interquartile range 3-6) vs. 1 (0-3), P < 0.001] and more often showed left ventricular diastolic dysfunction (75% vs. 27%, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Hospitalized COVID-19 patients frequently show high likelihood of presence of HFpEF that is associated with cardiac structural and functional alterations, and myocardial injury. Detailed cardiac assessments including echocardiographic determination of left ventricular diastolic function and biomarkers should become routine in the care of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.View less
Objectives: The prevalence of eating disorders is rising worldwide. The low body weight in anorexia nervosa as well as the increase in body mass index due to binge eating disorder are contributing to a strikingly high morbidity and mortality. In a similar pattern, the prevalence and burden of the disease of functional gastrointestinal disorders such as functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome is increasing. As gastrointestinal complaints are commonly reported by patients with eating disorders, the question arose whether there is a relationship between eating disorders and functional gastrointestinal disorders.
Methods: To address the need to better understand the interplay between eating disorders and functional gastrointestinal disorders as well as factors that might influence this connection, the data bases Medline, Web of Science and Embase were systematically searched.
Results: After removal of duplicates the search yielded 388 studies which were screened manually. As a result, 36 publications were selected for inclusion in this systematic review.
Conclusion: The occurrence of functional gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia in patients with eating disorders is considerably high and often associated with psychological, hormonal and functional alterations. In the future, further research addressing the underlying mechanisms accounting for this relationship is required.View less