Recent Submissions

  • Itaconate and derivatives reduce interferon responses and inflammation in influenza A virus infection.

    Sohail, Aaqib; Iqbal, Azeem A; Sahini, Nishika; Chen, Fangfang; Tantawy, Mohamed; Waqas, Fakhar; Winterhoff, Moritz; Ebensen, Thomas; Schultz, Kristin; Geffers, Robert; et al. (PLOS, 2022-01-13)
    Excessive inflammation is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in many viral infections including influenza. Therefore, there is a need for therapeutic interventions that dampen and redirect inflammatory responses and, ideally, exert antiviral effects. Itaconate is an immunomodulatory metabolite which also reprograms cell metabolism and inflammatory responses when applied exogenously. We evaluated effects of endogenous itaconate and exogenous application of itaconate and its variants dimethyl- and 4-octyl-itaconate (DI, 4OI) on host responses to influenza A virus (IAV). Infection induced expression of ACOD1, the enzyme catalyzing itaconate synthesis, in monocytes and macrophages, which correlated with viral replication and was abrogated by DI and 4OI treatment. In IAV-infected mice, pulmonary inflammation and weight loss were greater in Acod1-/- than in wild-type mice, and DI treatment reduced pulmonary inflammation and mortality. The compounds reversed infection-triggered interferon responses and modulated inflammation in human cells supporting non-productive and productive infection, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and in human lung tissue. Itaconates reduced ROS levels and STAT1 phosphorylation, whereas AKT phosphorylation was reduced by 4OI and DI but increased by itaconate. Single-cell RNA sequencing identified monocytes as the main target of infection and the exclusive source of ACOD1 mRNA in peripheral blood. DI treatment silenced IFN-responses predominantly in monocytes, but also in lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Ectopic synthesis of itaconate in A549 cells, which do not physiologically express ACOD1, reduced infection-driven inflammation, and DI reduced IAV- and IFNγ-induced CXCL10 expression in murine macrophages independent of the presence of endogenous ACOD1. The compounds differed greatly in their effects on cellular gene homeostasis and released cytokines/chemokines, but all three markedly reduced release of the pro-inflammatory chemokines CXCL10 (IP-10) and CCL2 (MCP-1). Viral replication did not increase under treatment despite the dramatically repressed IFN responses. In fact, 4OI strongly inhibited viral transcription in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and the compounds reduced viral titers (4OI>Ita>DI) in A549 cells whereas viral transcription was unaffected. Taken together, these results reveal itaconates as immunomodulatory and antiviral interventions for influenza virus infection.
  • Beneficial and detrimental functions of microglia during viral encephalitis.

    Waltl, Inken; Kalinke, Ulrich; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2021-12-11)
    icroglia are resident immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS) with multiple functions in health and disease. Their response during encephalitis depends on whether inflammation is triggered in a sterile or infectious manner, and in the latter case on the type of the infecting pathogen. Even though recent technological innovations advanced the understanding of the broad spectrum of microglia responses during viral encephalitis (VE), it is not entirely clear which microglia gene expression profiles are associated with antiviral and detrimental activities. Here, we review novel approaches to study microglia and the latest concepts of their function in VE. Improved understanding of microglial functions will be essential for the development of new therapeutic interventions for VE.
  • Toll-like Receptors in Viral Encephalitis.

    Gern, Olivia Luise; Mulenge, Felix; Pavlou, Andreas; Ghita, Luca; Steffen, Imke; Stangel, Martin; Kalinke, Ulrich; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-10-14)
    Viral encephalitis is a rare but serious syndrome. In addition to DNA-encoded herpes viruses, such as herpes simplex virus and varicella zoster virus, RNA-encoded viruses from the families of Flaviviridae, Rhabdoviridae and Paramyxoviridae are important neurotropic viruses. Whereas in the periphery, the role of Toll-like receptors (TLR) during immune stimulation is well understood, TLR functions within the CNS are less clear. On one hand, TLRs can affect the physiology of neurons during neuronal progenitor cell differentiation and neurite outgrowth, whereas under conditions of infection, the complex interplay between TLR stimulated neurons, astrocytes and microglia is just on the verge of being understood. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about which TLRs are expressed by cell subsets of the CNS. Furthermore, we specifically highlight functional implications of TLR stimulation in neurons, astrocytes and microglia. After briefly illuminating some examples of viral evasion strategies from TLR signaling, we report on the current knowledge of primary immunodeficiencies in TLR signaling and their consequences for viral encephalitis. Finally, we provide an outlook with examples of TLR agonist mediated intervention strategies and potentiation of vaccine responses against neurotropic virus infections.
  • Congenital deficiency reveals critical role of ISG15 in skin homeostasis.

    Malik, Muhammad Nasir Hayat; Waqas, Syed F Hassnain; Zeitvogel, Jana; Cheng, Jingyuan; Geffers, Robert; Gouda, Zeinab Abu-Elbaha; Elsaman, Ahmed Mahrous; Radwan, Ahmed R; Schefzyk, Matthias; Braubach, Peter; et al. (Society of clinical investigation, 2021-11-30)
    Ulcerating skin lesions are manifestations of human ISG15 deficiency, a type I interferonopathy. However, chronic inflammation may not be their exclusive cause. We describe two siblings with recurrent skin ulcers that healed with scar formation upon corticosteroid treatment. Both had a homozygous nonsense mutation in the ISG15 gene, leading to unstable ISG15 protein lacking the functional domain. We characterized ISG15-/- dermal fibroblasts, HaCaT keratinocytes, and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived vascular endothelial cells. ISG15-deficient cells exhibited the expected hyperinflammatory phenotype, but also dysregulated expression of molecules critical for connective tissue and epidermis integrity, including reduced collagens and adhesion molecules, but increased matrix metalloproteases. ISG15-/- fibroblasts exhibited elevated ROS levels and reduced ROS scavenger expression. As opposed to hyperinflammation, defective collagen and integrin synthesis was not rescued by conjugation-deficient ISG15. Cell migration was retarded in ISG15-/- fibroblasts and HaCaT keratinocytes, but normalized under ruxolitinib treatment. Desmosome density was reduced in an ISG15-/- 3D epidermis model. Additionally, there were loose architecture and reduced collagen and desmoglein expression, which could be reversed by treatment with ruxolitinib/doxycycline/TGF-β1. These results reveal critical roles of ISG15 in maintaining cell migration and epidermis and connective tissue homeostasis, whereby the latter likely requires its conjugation to yet unidentified targets.
  • Long-Lasting Immunity Against SARS-CoV-2: Dream or Reality?

    Gussarow, Daniel; Bonifacius, Agnes; Cossmann, Anne; Stankov, Metodi V; Mausberg, Philip; Tischer-Zimmermann, Sabine; Gödecke, Nina; Kalinke, Ulrich; Behrens, Georg M N; Blasczyk, Rainer; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-11-25)
    Since its declaration as a pandemic in March 2020, SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 217 million people worldwide and despite mild disease in the majority of the cases, more than 4.5 million cases of COVID-19-associated death have been reported as of September 2021. The question whether recovery from COVID-19 results in prevention of reinfection can be answered with a "no" since cases of reinfections have been reported. The more important question is whether during SARS-CoV-2 infection, a protective immunity is built and maintained afterwards in a way which protects from possibly severe courses of disease in case of a reinfection. A similar question arises with respect to vaccination: as of September 2021, globally, more than 5.2 billion doses of vaccines have been administered. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to study the cellular and humoral immunity toward SARS-CoV-2 in a longitudinal manner. In this study, reconvalescent COVID-19 patients have been followed up for more than 1 year after SARS-CoV-2 infection to characterize in detail the long-term humoral as well as cellular immunity. Both SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells and antibodies could be detected for a period of more than 1 year after infection, indicating that the immune protection established during initial infection is maintained and might possibly protect from severe disease in case of reinfection or infection with novel emerging variants. Moreover, these data demonstrate the opportunity for immunotherapy of hospitalized COVID-19 patients via adoptive transfer of functional antiviral T cells isolated from reconvalescent individuals.
  • Transcriptomic Biomarkers for Tuberculosis: Validation of as a Single mRNA Biomarker to Diagnose TB, Predict Disease Progression, and Monitor Treatment Response.

    de Araujo, Leonardo S; Ribeiro-Alves, Marcelo; Wipperman, Matthew F; Vorkas, Charles Kyriakos; Pessler, Frank; Saad, Maria Helena Féres; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-10-09)
    External validation in different cohorts is a key step in the translational development of new biomarkers. We previously described three host mRNA whose expression in peripheral blood is significantly higher (NPC2) or lower (DOCK9 and EPHA4) in individuals with TB compared to latent TB infection (LTBI) and controls. We have now conducted an independent validation of these genes by re-analyzing publicly available transcriptomic datasets from Brazil, China, Haiti, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Comparisons between TB and control/LTBI showed significant differential expression of all three genes (NPC2high&nbsp;p < 0.01, DOCK9low&nbsp;p < 0.01, and EPHA4low&nbsp;p < 0.05). NPC2high had the highest mean area under the ROC curve (AUROC) for the differentiation of TB vs. controls (0.95) and LTBI (0.94). In addition, NPC2 accurately distinguished TB from the clinically similar conditions pneumonia (AUROC, 0.88), non-active sarcoidosis (0.87), and lung cancer (0.86), but not from active sarcoidosis (0.66). Interestingly, individuals progressing from LTBI to TB showed a constant increase in NPC2 expression with time when compared to non-progressors (p < 0.05), with a significant change closer to manifestation of active disease (≤3 months, p = 0.003). Moreover, NPC2 expression normalized with completion of anti-TB treatment. Taken together, these results validate NPC2 mRNA as a diagnostic host biomarker for active TB independent of host genetic background. Moreover, they reveal its potential to predict progression from latent to active infection and to indicate a response to anti-TB treatment.
  • Case Report: Convalescent Plasma Therapy Induced Anti-SARS-CoV-2 T Cell Expansion, NK Cell Maturation and Virus Clearance in a B Cell Deficient Patient After CD19 CAR T Cell Therapy.

    Bošnjak, Berislav; Odak, Ivan; Ritter, Christiane; Stahl, Klaus; Graalmann, Theresa; Steinbrück, Lars; Blasczyk, Rainer; Falk, Christine S; Schulz, Thomas F; Wedemeyer, Hans Heinrich; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-08-12)
    Here, we described the case of a B cell-deficient patient after CD19 CAR-T cell therapy for refractory B cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma with protracted coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For weeks, this patient only inefficiently contained the virus while convalescent plasma transfusion correlated with virus clearance. Interestingly, following convalescent plasma therapy natural killer cells matured and virus-specific T cells expanded, presumably allowing virus clearance and recovery from the disease. Our findings, thus, suggest that convalescent plasma therapy can activate cellular immune responses to clear SARS-CoV-2 infections. If confirmed in larger clinical studies, these data could be of general importance for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
  • Sequential MAVS and MyD88/TRIF signaling triggers anti-viral responses of tick-borne encephalitis virus-infected murine astrocytes.

    Ghita, Luca; Breitkopf, Veronika; Mulenge, Felix; Pavlou, Andreas; Gern, Olivia Luise; Durán, Verónica; Prajeeth, Chittappen Kandiyil; Kohls, Moritz; Jung, Klaus; Stangel, Martin; et al. (Wiley, 2021-07-23)
    Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV), a member of the Flaviviridae family, is typically transmitted upon tick bite and can cause meningitis and encephalitis in humans. In TBEV-infected mice, mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS), the downstream adaptor of retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I)-like receptor (RLR) signaling, is needed to induce early type I interferon (IFN) responses and to confer protection. To characterize the brain-resident cell subset that produces protective IFN-β in TBEV-infected mice, we isolated neurons, astrocytes, and microglia from mice and exposed these cell types to TBEV in vitro. Under such conditions, neurons showed the highest percentage of infected cells, whereas astrocytes and microglia were infected to a lesser extent. In the supernatant (SN) of infected neurons, IFN-β was not detectable, while infected astrocytes showed high and microglia low IFN-β expression. Transcriptome analyses of astrocytes implied that MAVS signaling was needed early after TBEV infection. Accordingly, MAVS-deficient astrocytes showed enhanced TBEV infection and significantly reduced early IFN-β responses. Nevertheless, at later time points, moderate amounts of IFN-β were detected in the SN of infected MAVS-deficient astrocytes. Transcriptome analyses indicated that MAVS deficiency negatively affected the induction of early anti-viral responses, which resulted in significantly increased TBEV replication. Treatment with MyD88 and TRIF inhibiting peptides reduced only late IFN-β responses of TBEV-infected WT astrocytes and blocked entirely IFN-β responses of infected MAVS-deficient astrocytes. Thus, upon TBEV exposure of brain-resident cells, astrocytes are important IFN-β producers showing biphasic IFN-β induction that initially depends on MAVS and later on MyD88/TRIF signaling.
  • B cell depletion impairs vaccination-induced CD8 T cell responses in a type I interferon-dependent manner.

    Graalmann, Theresa; Borst, Katharina; Manchanda, Himanshu; Vaas, Lea; Bruhn, Matthias; Graalmann, Lukas; Koster, Mario; Verboom, Murielle; Hallensleben, Michael; Guzmán, Carlos Alberto; et al. (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-07-05)
    Objectives: The monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab is frequently applied in the treatment of lymphoma as well as autoimmune diseases and confers efficient depletion of recirculating B cells. Correspondingly, B cell-depleted patients barely mount de novo antibody responses during infections or vaccinations. Therefore, efficient immune responses of B cell-depleted patients largely depend on protective T cell responses. Methods: CD8+ T cell expansion was studied in rituximab-treated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and B cell-deficient mice on vaccination/infection with different vaccines/pathogens. Results: Rituximab-treated RA patients vaccinated with Influvac showed reduced expansion of influenza-specific CD8+ T cells when compared with healthy controls. Moreover, B cell-deficient JHT mice infected with mouse-adapted Influenza or modified vaccinia virus Ankara showed less vigorous expansion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells than wild type mice. Of note, JHT mice do not have an intrinsic impairment of CD8+ T cell expansion, since infection with vaccinia virus induced similar T cell expansion in JHT and wild type mice. Direct type I interferon receptor signalling of B cells was necessary to induce several chemokines in B cells and to support T cell help by enhancing the expression of MHC-I. Conclusions: Depending on the stimulus, B cells can modulate CD8+ T cell responses. Thus, B cell depletion causes a deficiency of de novo antibody responses and affects the efficacy of cellular response including cytotoxic T cells. The choice of the appropriate vaccine to vaccinate B cell-depleted patients has to be re-evaluated in order to efficiently induce protective CD8+ T cell responses.
  • Elevated Free Phosphatidylcholine Levels in Cerebrospinal Fluid Distinguish Bacterial from Viral CNS Infections.

    Al-Mekhlafi, Amani; Sühs, Kurt-Wolfram; Schuchardt, Sven; Kuhn, Maike; Müller-Vahl, Kirsten; Trebst, Corinna; Skripuletz, Thomas; Klawonn, Frank; Stangel, Martin; Pessler, Frank; et al. (MDPI, 2021-05-06)
    The identification of CSF biomarkers for bacterial meningitis can potentially improve diagnosis and understanding of pathogenesis, and the differentiation from viral CNS infections is of particular clinical importance. Considering that substantial changes in CSF metabolites in CNS infections have recently been demonstrated, we compared concentrations of 188 metabolites in CSF samples from patients with bacterial meningitis (n = 32), viral meningitis/encephalitis (n = 34), and noninflamed controls (n = 66). Metabolite reprogramming in bacterial meningitis was greatest among phosphatidylcholines, and concentrations of all 54 phosphatidylcholines were significantly (p = 1.2 × 10-25-1.5 × 10-4) higher than in controls. Indeed, all biomarkers for bacterial meningitis vs. viral meningitis/encephalitis with an AUC ≥ 0.86 (ROC curve analysis) were phosphatidylcholines. Four of the five most accurate (AUC ≥ 0.9) phosphatidylcholine biomarkers had higher sensitivity and negative predictive values than CSF lactate or cell count. Concentrations of the 10 most accurate phosphatidylcholine biomarkers were lower in meningitis due to opportunistic pathogens than in meningitis due to typical meningitis pathogens, and they correlated most strongly with parameters reflecting blood-CSF barrier dysfunction and CSF lactate (r = 0.73-0.82), less so with CSF cell count, and not with blood CRP. In contrast to the elevated phosphatidylcholine concentrations in CSF, serum concentrations remained relatively unchanged. Taken together, these results suggest that increased free CSF phosphatidylcholines are sensitive biomarkers for bacterial meningitis and do not merely reflect inflammation but are associated with local disease and a shift in CNS metabolism.
  • Fucosylated lipid nanocarriers loaded with antibiotics efficiently inhibit mycobacterial propagation in human myeloid cells.

    Durán, Verónica; Grabski, Elena; Hozsa, Constantin; Becker, Jennifer; Yasar, Hanzey; Monteiro, João T; Costa, Bibiana; Koller, Nicole; Lueder, Yvonne; Wiegmann, Bettina; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-04-16)
    Antibiotic treatment of tuberculosis (TB) is complex, lengthy, and can be associated with various adverse effects. As a result, patient compliance often is poor, thus further enhancing the risk of selecting multi-drug resistant bacteria. Macrophage mannose receptor (MMR)-positive alveolar macrophages (AM) constitute a niche in which Mycobacterium tuberculosis replicates and survives. Therefore, we encapsulated levofloxacin in lipid nanocarriers functionalized with fucosyl residues that interact with the MMR. Indeed, such nanocarriers preferentially targeted MMR-positive myeloid cells, and in particular, AM. Intracellularly, fucosylated lipid nanocarriers favorably delivered their payload into endosomal compartments, where mycobacteria reside. In an in vitro setting using infected human primary macrophages as well as dendritic cells, the encapsulated antibiotic cleared the pathogen more efficiently than free levofloxacin. In conclusion, our results point towards carbohydrate-functionalized nanocarriers as a promising tool for improving TB treatment by targeted delivery of antibiotics.
  • Establishment, Validation, and Initial Application of a Sensitive LC-MS/MS Assay for Quantification of the Naturally Occurring Isomers Itaconate, Mesaconate, and Citraconate.

    Winterhoff, Moritz; Chen, Fangfang; Sahini, Nishika; Ebensen, Thomas; Kuhn, Maike; Kaever, Volkhard; Bähre, Heike; Pessler, Frank; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-04-26)
    Itaconate is derived from the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate cis-aconitate and links innate immunity and metabolism. Its synthesis is altered in inflammation-related disorders and it therefore has potential as clinical biomarker. Mesaconate and citraconate are naturally occurring isomers of itaconate that have been linked to metabolic disorders, but their functional relationships with itaconate are unknown. We aimed to establish a sensitive high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) assay for the quantification of itaconate, mesaconate, citraconate, the pro-drug 4-octyl-itaconate, and selected TCA intermediates. The assay was validated for itaconate, mesaconate, and citraconate for intra- and interday precision and accuracy, extended stability, recovery, freeze/thaw cycles, and carry-over. The lower limit of quantification was 0.098 µM for itaconate and mesaconate and 0.049 µM for citraconate in 50 µL samples. In spike-in experiments, itaconate remained stable in human plasma and whole blood for 24 and 8 h, respectively, whereas spiked-in citraconate and mesaconate concentrations changed during incubation. The type of anticoagulant in blood collection tubes affected measured levels of selected TCA intermediates. Human plasma may contain citraconate (0.4-0.6 µM, depending on the donor), but not itaconate or mesaconate, and lipopolysaccharide stimulation of whole blood induced only itaconate. Concentrations of the three isomers differed greatly among mouse organs: Itaconate and citraconate were most abundant in lymph nodes, mesaconate in kidneys, and only citraconate occurred in brain. This assay should prove useful to quantify itaconate isomers in biomarker and pharmacokinetic studies, while providing internal controls for their effects on metabolism by allowing quantification of TCA intermediates.
  • Redispersible Spray-Dried Powder Containing Nanoencapsulated Curcumin: the Drying Process Does Not Affect Neuroprotection In vitro.

    de Andrade, Diego Fontana; Vukosavljevic, Branko; Hoppe, Juliana Bender; Pohlmann, Adriana Raffin; Guterres, Sílvia Stanisçuaski; Windbergs, Maike; Külkamp-Guerreiro, Irene; Salbego, Christianne Gazzana; Beck, Ruy Carlos Ruver; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.;TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Springer, 2019-08-12)
    A redispersible spray-dried formulation containing curcumin-loaded, lipid-core nanocapsules (LNC-C) was developed for oral administration. The neuroprotective activity of curcumin after the spray-drying process was evaluated in vitro. The spray-dried powder (SD-LNC-C) was produced using a drying adjuvant composed of a blend of maltodextrin and L-leucine (90:10 w/w). Acceptable process yield (~ 70%) and drug content (6.5 ± 0.2 mg g-1) were obtained. SD-LNC-C was formed by smooth, spherical-shaped particles, and confocal Raman analysis indicated the distribution of the LNC-C on the surface of the leucine/maltodextrin agglomerates. The surface of the agglomerates was formed by a combination of LNC-C and adjuvants, and laser diffraction showed that SD-LNC-C had adequate aqueous redispersion, with no loss of controlled drug release behaviour of LNC-C. The in vitro curcumin activity against the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced proinflammatory response in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures was evaluated. Both formulations (LNC-C and SD-LNC-C) reduced TNF-α to similar levels. Therefore, neuroprotection of curcumin in vitro may be improved by nanoencapsulation followed by spray-drying, with no loss of this superior performance. Hence, the redispersible spray-dried powder proposed here represents a suitable approach for the development of innovative nanomedicines containing curcumin for the prevention/treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Generation of two human ISG15 knockout iPSC clones using CRISPR/Cas9 editing.

    Merkert, S; Jaboreck, M-C; Engels, L; Malik, M N H; Göhring, G; Pessler, F; Martin, U; Olmer, R; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-12-22)
    Background and aims: T cells are the main mediators of allogeneic immune responses. Specific T cell clones can be tracked by their unique T cell receptor (TCR), but specificity and function remain elusive and have not been investigated in human liver biopsies thus far. Methods: TCR repertoire analysis of CD4+, CD8+ and regulatory T cells of the peripheral blood and liver graft was performed in seven liver transplant recipients with either stable course (non-rejector, NR), subclinical cellular rejection (SCR) or acute cellular rejection (ACR) during an observation period from pre-transplant to six years post-transplant. Furthermore, donor-reactive T cells, identified by their expression of CD154 and GARP after allogeneic activation, were tracked longitudinally in peripheral blood and within the liver allograft. Results: While overall clonality of the TCR repertoire did not increase in peripheral blood after liver transplantation, clonality of donor-reactive CD4+ and regulatory T cells increased and these clones accumulated within the liver graft. Surprisingly, the TCR repertoires between the liver graft and the periphery were distinct and showed only little overlap. Notably, during ACR TCR repertoires aligned suggesting either graft-specific homing or release of activated T cells from the graft. Conclusions: This is the first study comparing TCR repertoires between liver graft and blood in patients with NR, SCR and ACR. Moreover, we attribute specificity and function to a subgroup of intragraft T cell populations. Given the little overlap between peripheral blood and intragraft repertoires future studies investigating function and specificities of T cells after liver transplantation should focus on the intragraft immune response. For this purpose, protocol biopsies of patients with normal graft function and subclinical rejection have to be taken into account.
  • Targeted metabolomic profiling of cerebrospinal fluid from patients with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

    Luo, Yi; Möhn, Nora; Al-Mekhlafi, Amani; Schuchardt, Sven; Skripuletz, Thomas; Sühs, Wolfram; Pessler, Frank; Stangel, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-11-24)
    Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), caused by JC polyomavirus, is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that primarily affects oligodendrocytes. It can cause significant morbidity and mortality. An early diagnosis is of high relevance as timely immune reconstitution is essential. However, diagnosis can be challenging if virus detection via cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) PCR remains negative. Hence, identifying CSF biomarkers for this disease is of crucial importance. We applied a targeted metabolomic screen to CSF from 23 PML patients and eight normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) patients as controls. Out of 188 potentially detectable metabolites, 48 (13 amino acids, 4 biogenic amines, 1 acylcarnitine, 21 phosphatidylcholines, 8 sphingolipids, and the sum of hexoses) passed the quality screen and were included in the analyses. Even though there was a tendency towards lower concentrations in PML (mostly of phosphatidylcholines and sphingomyelins), none of the differences between PML and controls in individual metabolite concentrations reached statistical significance (lowest p = 0.104) and there were no potential diagnostic biomarkers (highest area under the ROC curve 0.68). Thus, CSF metabolite changes in PML are likely subtle and possibly larger group sizes and broader metabolite screens are needed to identify potential CSF metabolite biomarkers for PML.
  • Triple RNA-Seq Reveals Synergy in a Human Virus-Fungus Co-infection Model.

    Seelbinder, Bastian; Wallstabe, Julia; Marischen, Lothar; Weiss, Esther; Wurster, Sebastian; Page, Lukas; Löffler, Claudia; Bussemer, Lydia; Schmitt, Anna-Lena; Wolf, Thomas; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-11-17)
    High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) is routinely applied to study diverse biological processes; however, when performed separately on interacting organisms, systemic noise intrinsic to RNA extraction, library preparation, and sequencing hampers the identification of cross-species interaction nodes. Here, we develop triple RNA-seq to simultaneously detect transcriptomes of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) infected with the frequently co-occurring pulmonary pathogens Aspergillus fumigatus and human cytomegalovirus (CMV). Comparing expression patterns after co-infection with those after single infections, our data reveal synergistic effects and mutual interferences between host responses to the two pathogens. For example, CMV attenuates the fungus-mediated activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines through NF-κB (nuclear factor κB) and NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) cascades, while A. fumigatus impairs viral clearance by counteracting viral nucleic acid-induced activation of type I interferon signaling. Together, the analytical power of triple RNA-seq proposes molecular hubs in the differential moDC response to fungal/viral single infection or co-infection that contribute to our understanding of the etiology and, potentially, clearance of post-transplant infections.
  • Mice defective in interferon signaling help distinguish between primary and secondary pathological pathways in a mouse model of neuronal forms of Gaucher disease.

    Vardi, Ayelet; Ben-Dor, Shifra; Cho, Soo Min; Kalinke, Ulrich; Spanier, Julia; Futerman, Anthony H; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (BMC, 2020-09-07)
    Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a latent and oncogenic human herpesvirus. Lytic viral protein expression plays an important role in EBV-associated malignancies. The EBV envelope glycoprotein 350 (gp350) is expressed abundantly during EBV lytic reactivation and sporadically on the surface of latently infected cells. Here we tested T cells expressing gp350-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) containing scFvs derived from two novel gp350-binding, highly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. The scFvs were fused to CD28/CD3ζ signaling domains in a retroviral vector. The produced gp350CAR-T cells specifically recognized and killed gp350+ 293T cells in vitro. The best-performing 7A1-gp350CAR-T cells were cytotoxic against the EBV+ B95-8 cell line, showing selectivity against gp350+ cells. Fully humanized Nod.Rag.Gamma mice transplanted with cord blood CD34+ cells and infected with the EBV/M81/fLuc lytic strain were monitored dynamically for viral spread. Infected mice recapitulated EBV-induced lymphoproliferation, tumor development, and systemic inflammation. We tested adoptive transfer of autologous CD8+gp350CAR-T cells administered protectively or therapeutically. After gp350CAR-T cell therapy, 75% of mice controlled or reduced EBV spread and showed lower frequencies of EBER+ B cell malignant lymphoproliferation, lack of tumor development, and reduced inflammation. In summary, CD8+gp350CAR-T cells showed proof-of-concept preclinical efficacy against impending EBV+ lymphoproliferation and lymphomagenesis.
  • Impact of Physical Exercise on Gut Microbiome, Inflammation, and the Pathobiology of Metabolic Disorders.

    Sohail, Muhammad U; Yassine, Hadi M; Sohail, Aaqib; Al Thani, Asmaa A; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research, 2019-08-04)
    Background: The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) harbors a complex and diverse microbial composition that outnumbers our own body cells and their gene contents. These microbes play a significant role in host metabolism and energy homeostasis. Emerging evidence suggests that the GIT microbiome significantly contributes to host health and that impairments in the microbiome may cause the development of metabolic diseases. The microbiome architecture is shaped by several genetic and environmental factors, including nutrition and physical activity. Physical exercise has preventive or therapeutic effects in respiratory, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and muscular diseases. Yet, we still have little information of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on GIT health and microbial composition. Furthermore, we are not aware whether exercise-derived benefits on microbiome diversity can beneficially influence other tissues and body organs. Objectives: The aim of this article is to review the available literature on exercise-induced microbiome changes and to explain how these changes may induce inflammatory, immune, and oxidative responses that may contribute to the improvement of metabolic disorders. Methods: A systemic and comprehensive search of the relevant literature using MEDLINE and Google Scholar databases was conducted during fall 2018 and spring 2019. The search identified sixty-two research and review articles that discussed exercise-induced microbiome changes. Results: The review of the relevant literature suggests that exercise-induced microbial changes affect the host's immune pathways and improve energy homeostasis. Microbes release certain neuroendocrine and immune-modulatory factors that may lower inflammatory and oxidative stress and relieve patients suffering from metabolic disorders. Conclusions: Exercise-induced changes in microbial diversity are able to improve tissue metabolism, cardiorespiratory fitness, and insulin resistance.
  • Type I Interferon Receptor Signaling in Astrocytes Regulates Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity and Cognitive Function of the Healthy CNS.

    Hosseini, Shirin; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Grigoryan, Gayane; Chhatbar, Chintan; Kalinke, Ulrich; Korte, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.
    Type I interferon receptor (IFNAR) signaling is a hallmark of viral control and host protection. Here, we show that, in the hippocampus of healthy IFNAR-deficient mice, synapse number and synaptic plasticity, as well as spatial learning, are impaired. This is also the case for IFN-β-deficient animals. Moreover, antibody-mediated IFNAR blocking acutely interferes with neuronal plasticity, whereas a low-dose application of IFN-β has a positive effect on dendritic spine structure. Interfering with IFNAR signaling in different cell types shows a role for cognitive function and synaptic plasticity specifically mediated by astrocytes. Intriguingly, levels of the astrocytic glutamate-aspartate transporter (GLAST) are reduced significantly upon IFN-β treatment and increase following inhibition of IFNAR signaling. These results indicate that, besides the prominent role for host defense, IFNAR is important for synaptic plasticity as well as cognitive function. Astrocytes are at the center stage of this so-far-unknown signaling cascade.
  • Human Lentiviral Gene Therapy Restores the Cellular Phenotype of Autosomal Recessive Complete IFN-γR1 Deficiency.

    Hahn, Katharina; Pollmann, Liart; Nowak, Juliette; Nguyen, Ariane Hai Ha; Haake, Kathrin; Neehus, Anna-Lena; Waqas, Syed F Hassnain; Pessler, Frank; Baumann, Ulrich; Hetzel, Miriam; et al. (Elsevier(Cell Press), 2020-04-11)
    Autosomal recessive (AR) complete interferon-γ receptor 1 (IFN-γR1) deficiency, also known as one genetic etiology of Mendelian susceptibility to mycobacterial disease (MSMD), is a life-threatening congenital disease leading to premature death. Affected patients present a pathognomonic predisposition to recurrent and severe infections with environmental mycobacteria or the Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. Current therapeutic options are limited to antibiotic treatment and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, however with poor outcome. Given the clinical success of gene therapy, we introduce the first lentiviral-based gene therapy approach to restore expression and function of the human IFN-γR-downstream signaling cascade. In our study, we developed lentiviral vectors constitutively expressing the human IFN-γR1 and demonstrate stable transgene expression without interference with cell viability and proliferation in transduced human hematopoietic cells. Using an IFN-γR1-deficient HeLa cell model, we show stable receptor reconstitution and restored IFN-γR1 signaling without adverse effect on cell functionality. Transduction of both SV40-immortalized and primary fibroblasts derived from IFN-γR1-deficient MSMD patients was able to recover IFN-γR1 expression and restore type II IFN signaling upon stimulation with IFN-γ. In summary, we highlight lentiviral vectors to correct the IFN-γ mediated immunity and present the first gene therapy approach for patients suffering from AR complete IFN-γR1 deficiency.

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