• Evaluation of latent tuberculosis infection in patients with inflammatory arthropathies before treatment with TNF-alpha blocking drugs using a novel flow-cytometric interferon-gamma release assay.

      Dinser, R; Fousse, M; Sester, U; Albrecht, K; Singh, M; Köhler, H; Müller-Ladner, U; Sester, M; Department of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, Kerckhoff Clinic, Benekestrasse 2-8, D-61231 Bad Nauheim, Germany. r.dinser@kerckhoff-klinik.de (2008-02)
      OBJECTIVE: To compare the efficacy of the conventional skin test and a novel flow cytometric whole blood assay in the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in patients with rheumatological diseases evaluated for treatment with TNF-alpha-blocking agents. METHODS: Prospective study of 97 consecutively enrolled patients, who were assessed for the presence of LTBI through clinical history, Mendel-Mantoux skin testing and chest X-ray. In addition, T-cell reactivity towards tuberculin (PPD, purified protein derivative) and the Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific proteins ESAT-6 and CFP-10 was determined ex vivo using a flow cytometric whole blood assay. RESULTS: After standard screening, 15% of patients receiving TNF-alpha-blocking therapy were pretreated with isoniazide (INH), another 5% of patients did not receive TNF-alpha-blocking therapy because of LTBI. PPD-reactivity in the skin was observed in 14% of patients compared with 39% with the whole blood test. Analysis of the M. tuberculosis-specific response to ESAT-6 and CFP-10 revealed positive results in 16% of patients. Using a decision tree incorporating history, chest X-ray and either skin-test or ESAT-6/CFP-10 results, 18 or 22% of the patients, respectively, were classified as latently infected with M. tuberculosis. Four patients treated with INH because of a positive skin reaction did not show reactivity to ESAT-6/CFP-10 in the whole blood assays. Another six patients not pretreated with INH because of negative skin tests would have received INH, had the results of the whole blood assay been taken into account. CONCLUSION: The Mendel-Mantoux skin test has a low sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of LTBI in this cohort of patients, potentially resulting in both over- and under-treatment with prophylactic INH when compared with the flow cytometric analysis of whole blood T-cell reactivity to proteins specific to M. tuberculosis. Use of T-cell based in vitro tests may help to refine diagnostic testing for LTBI.
    • Genome-Wide Sequencing Reveals MicroRNAs Downregulated in Cerebral Cavernous Malformations.

      Kar, Souvik; Bali, Kiran Kumar; Baisantry, Arpita; Geffers, Robert; Samii, Amir; Bertalanffy, Helmut; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-02)
      Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are vascular lesions associated with loss-of-function mutations in one of the three genes encoding KRIT1 (CCM1), CCM2, and PDCD10. Recent understanding of the molecular mechanisms that lead to CCM development is limited. The role of microRNAs (miRNAs) has been demonstrated in vascular pathologies resulting in loss of tight junction proteins, increased vascular permeability and endothelial cell dysfunction. Since the relevance of miRNAs in CCM pathophysiology has not been elucidated, the primary aim of the study was to identify the miRNA-mRNA expression network associated with CCM. Using small RNA sequencing, we identified a total of 764 matured miRNAs expressed in CCM patients compared to the healthy brains. The expression of the selected miRNAs was validated by qRT-PCR, and the results were found to be consistent with the sequencing data. Upon application of additional statistical stringency, five miRNAs (let-7b-5p, miR-361-5p, miR-370-3p, miR-181a-2-3p, and miR-95-3p) were prioritized to be top CCM-relevant miRNAs. Further in silico analyses revealed that the prioritized miRNAs have a direct functional relation with mRNAs, such as MIB1, HIF1A, PDCD10, TJP1, OCLN, HES1, MAPK1, VEGFA, EGFL7, NF1, and ENG, which are previously characterized as key regulators of CCM pathology. To date, this is the first study to investigate the role of miRNAs in CCM pathology. By employing cutting edge molecular and in silico analyses on clinical samples, the current study reports global miRNA expression changes in CCM patients and provides a rich source of data set to understand detailed molecular machinery involved in CCM pathophysiology.
    • Impact of 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate for induction of human regulatory T cells.

      Kehrmann, Jan; Tatura, Roman; Zeschnigk, Michael; Probst-Kepper, Michael; Geffers, Robert; Steinmann, Joerg; Buer, Jan; Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. (2014-07)
      The epigenetic regulation of transcription factor genes is critical for T-cell lineage specification. A specific methylation pattern within a conserved region of the lineage specifying transcription factor gene FOXP3, the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR), is restricted to regulatory T (Treg) cells and is required for stable expression of FOXP3 and suppressive function. We analysed the impact of hypomethylating agents 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate on human CD4(+)  CD25(-) T cells for generating demethylation within FOXP3-TSDR and inducing functional Treg cells. Gene expression, including lineage-specifying transcription factors of the major T-cell lineages and their leading cytokines, functional properties and global transcriptome changes were analysed. The FOXP3-TSDR methylation pattern was determined by using deep amplicon bisulphite sequencing. 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine induced FOXP3-TSDR hypomethylation and expression of the Treg-cell-specific genes FOXP3 and LRRC32. Proliferation of 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine-treated cells was reduced, but the cells did not show suppressive function. Hypomethylation was not restricted to FOXP3-TSDR and expression of master transcription factors and leading cytokines of T helper type 1 and type 17 cells were induced. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate induced global DNA hypomethylation to a lesser extent than 5-aza-2'-deoxycitidine, but no relevant hypomethylation within FOXP3-TSDR or expression of Treg-cell-specific genes. Neither of the DNA methyltransferase inhibitors induced fully functional human Treg cells. 5-aza-2'-deoxycitidine-treated cells resembled Treg cells, but they did not suppress proliferation of responder cells, which is an essential capability to be used for Treg cell transfer therapy. Using a recently developed targeted demethylation technology might be a more promising approach for the generation of functional Treg cells.
    • Interleukin-2 improves amyloid pathology, synaptic failure and memory in Alzheimer's disease mice.

      Alves, Sandro; Churlaud, Guillaume; Audrain, Mickael; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Fol, Romain; Souchet, Benoit; Braudeau, Jérôme; Korte, Martin; Klatzmann, David; Cartier, Nathalie; et al. (2017-03-01)
      Interleukin-2 (IL-2)-deficient mice have cytoarchitectural hippocampal modifications and impaired learning and memory ability reminiscent of Alzheimer's disease. IL-2 stimulates regulatory T cells whose role is to control inflammation. As neuroinflammation contributes to neurodegeneration, we investigated IL-2 in Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, we investigated IL-2 levels in hippocampal biopsies of patients with Alzheimer's disease relative to age-matched control individuals. We then treated APP/PS1ΔE9 mice having established Alzheimer's disease with IL-2 for 5 months using single administration of an AAV-IL-2 vector. We first found decreased IL-2 levels in hippocampal biopsies of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In mice, IL-2-induced systemic and brain regulatory T cells expansion and activation. In the hippocampus, IL-2 induced astrocytic activation and recruitment of astrocytes around amyloid plaques, decreased amyloid-β42/40 ratio and amyloid plaque load, improved synaptic plasticity and significantly rescued spine density. Of note, this tissue remodelling was associated with recovery of memory deficits, as assessed in the Morris water maze task. Altogether, our data strongly suggest that IL-2 can alleviate Alzheimer's disease hallmarks in APP/PS1ΔE9 mice with established pathology. Therefore, this should prompt the investigation of low-dose IL-2 in Alzheimer's disease and other neuroinflammatory/neurodegenerative disorders.
    • Methylome analysis and integrative profiling of human HCCs identify novel protumorigenic factors.

      Neumann, Olaf; Kesselmeier, Miriam; Geffers, Robert; Pellegrino, Rossella; Radlwimmer, Bernhard; Hoffmann, Katrin; Ehemann, Volker; Schemmer, Peter; Schirmacher, Peter; Lorenzo Bermejo, Justo; et al. (2012-11)
      To identify new tumor-suppressor gene candidates relevant for human hepatocarcinogenesis, we performed genome-wide methylation profiling and vertical integration with array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), as well as expression data from a cohort of well-characterized human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). Bisulfite-converted DNAs from 63 HCCs and 10 healthy control livers were analyzed for the methylation status of more than 14,000 genes. After defining the differentially methylated genes in HCCs, we integrated their DNA copy-number alterations as determined by aCGH data and correlated them with gene expression to identify genes potentially silenced by promoter hypermethylation. Aberrant methylation of candidates was further confirmed by pyrosequencing, and methylation dependency of silencing was determined by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) treatment. Methylation profiling revealed 2,226 CpG sites that showed methylation differences between healthy control livers and HCCs. Of these, 537 CpG sites were hypermethylated in the tumor DNA, whereas 1,689 sites showed promoter hypomethylation. The hypermethylated set was enriched for genes known to be inactivated by the polycomb repressive complex 2, whereas the group of hypomethylated genes was enriched for imprinted genes. We identified three genes matching all of our selection criteria for a tumor-suppressor gene (period homolog 3 [PER3], insulin-like growth-factor-binding protein, acid labile subunit [IGFALS], and protein Z). PER3 was down-regulated in human HCCs, compared to peritumorous and healthy liver tissues. 5-aza-dC treatment restored PER3 expression in HCC cell lines, indicating that promoter hypermethylation was indeed responsible for gene silencing. Additionally, functional analysis supported a tumor-suppressive function for PER3 and IGFALS in vitro. CONCLUSION: The present study illustrates that vertical integration of methylation data with high-resolution genomic and transcriptomic data facilitates the identification of new tumor-suppressor gene candidates in human HCC.
    • Protumorigenic role of Timeless in hepatocellular carcinoma.

      Elgohary, Nahla; Pellegrino, Rossella; Neumann, Olaf; Elzawahry, Heba M; Saber, Magdy M; Zeeneldin, Ahmed A; Geffers, Robert; Ehemann, Volker; Schemmer, Peter; Schirmacher, Peter; et al. (2015-02)
      The mammalian timeless (TIM) protein interacts with proteins of the endogenous clock and essentially contributes to the circadian rhythm. In addition, TIM is involved in maintenance of chromosome integrity, growth control and development. Thus, we hypothesized that TIM may exert a potential protumorigenic function in human hepatocarcinogenesis. TIM was overexpressed in a subset of human HCCs both at the mRNA and the protein level. siRNA-mediated knockdown of TIM reduced cell viability due to the induction of apoptosis and G2 arrest. The latter was mediated via CHEK2 phosphorylation. In addition, siRNA-treated cells showed a significantly reduced migratory capacity and reduced expression levels of various proteins. Mechanistically, TIM directly interacts with the eukaryotic elongation factor 1A2 (EEF1A2), which binds to actin filaments to promote tumor cell migration. siRNA-mediated knockdown of TIM reduced EEF1A2 protein levels thereby affecting ribosomal protein biosynthesis. Thus, overexpression of TIM exerts oncogenic function in human HCCs, which is mediated via CHEK2 and EEF1A2.