• BCG Vaccination in Humans Elicits Trained Immunity via the Hematopoietic Progenitor Compartment.

      Cirovic, Branko; de Bree, L Charlotte J; Groh, Laszlo; Blok, Bas A; Chan, Joyce; van der Velden, Walter J F M; Bremmers, M E J; van Crevel, Reinout; Händler, Kristian; Picelli, Simone; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-06-09)
      Induction of trained immunity by Bacille-Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination mediates beneficial heterologous effects, but the mechanisms underlying its persistence and magnitude remain elusive. In this study, we show that BCG vaccination in healthy human volunteers induces a persistent transcriptional program connected to myeloid cell development and function within the hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) compartment in the bone marrow. We identify hepatic nuclear factor (HNF) family members 1a and b as crucial regulators of this transcriptional shift. These findings are corroborated by higher granulocyte numbers in BCG-vaccinated infants, HNF1 SNP variants that correlate with trained immunity, and elevated serum concentrations of the HNF1 target alpha-1 antitrypsin. Additionally, transcriptomic HSPC remodeling was epigenetically conveyed to peripheral CD14+ monocytes, displaying an activated transcriptional signature three months after BCG vaccination. Taken together, transcriptomic, epigenomic, and functional reprogramming of HSPCs and peripheral monocytes is a hallmark of BCG-induced trained immunity in humans.
    • BCG-induced protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection: Evidence, mechanisms, and implications for next-generation vaccines.

      Foster, Mitchell; Hill, Philip C; Setiabudiawan, Todia Pediatama; Koeken, Valerie A C M; Alisjahbana, Bachti; van Crevel, Reinout; CiiM, Zentrum für individualisierte Infektionsmedizin, Feodor-Lynen-Str.7, 30625 Hannover. (2021-03-12)
      The tuberculosis (TB) vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) was introduced 100 years ago, but as it provides insufficient protection against TB disease, especially in adults, new vaccines are being developed and evaluated. The discovery that BCG protects humans from becoming infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and not just from progressing to TB disease provides justification for considering Mtb infection as an endpoint in vaccine trials. Such trials would require fewer participants than those with disease as an endpoint. In this review, we first define Mtb infection and disease phenotypes that can be used for mechanistic studies and/or endpoints for vaccine trials. Secondly, we review the evidence for BCG-induced protection against Mtb infection from observational and BCG re-vaccination studies, and discuss limitations and variation of this protection. Thirdly, we review possible underlying mechanisms for BCG efficacy against Mtb infection, including alternative T cell responses, antibody-mediated protection, and innate immune mechanisms, with a specific focus on BCG-induced trained immunity, which involves epigenetic and metabolic reprogramming of innate immune cells. Finally, we discuss the implications for further studies of BCG efficacy against Mtb infection, including for mechanistic research, and their relevance to the design and evaluation of new TB vaccines.
    • Cerebrospinal fluid IL-1β is elevated in tuberculous meningitis patients but not associated with mortality.

      Koeken, Valerie A C M; Ganiem, Ahmad R; Dian, Sofiati; Ruslami, Rovina; Chaidir, Lidya; Netea, Mihai G; Kumar, Vinod; Alisjahbana, Bachti; van Crevel, Reinout; van Laarhoven, Arjan; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-07-30)
      Background & aims: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a cancer with multiple aetiologies and widespread prevalence. Largely refractory to current treatments, HCC is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators in HCCs. We aimed to identify tumour suppressor miRNAs during tumour regression in a conditional c-MYC-driven mouse model (LT2/MYC) of HCC, and to evaluate their therapeutic potential for HCC treatment. Methods: We performed miRNA expression profiling of developed and regressing LT2/MYC tumours and in-depth in vitro gain- and loss-of-function analyses. The effect of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector-mediated miR-342-3p treatment was evaluated in 3 HCC mouse models. Results: We identified miR-342-3p as a tumour suppressor miRNA in HCC, with increased expression in regressing tumours. Forced miR-342-3p expression in hepatoma cells showed significantly decreased cell proliferation, migration, and colony formation. In vivo administration of AAV-miR-342-3p led to significant attenuation of tumour development and increased overall survival. We identified monocarboxylic acid transporter 1 (MCT1) as a bona fide target of miR-342-3p in HCC. We show that the tumour suppressor role of miR-342-3p is executed partly by modulating the lactate transport function of MCT1. Importantly, we find miR-342-3p downregulated in tumours from patients with HCC compared with matched non-tumour tissues, inversely correlating with MCT1 expression. We observed similar findings in TCGA-LIHC data. Conclusions: In our study, we identified and validated miR-342-3p as a tumour suppressor miRNA in HCC. We demonstrated its therapeutic efficacy in significantly attenuating tumour development, and prolonging survival, in different HCC mouse models. Identification of miR-342-3p as an effective tumour suppressor opens a therapeutic avenue for miRNA-mediated attenuation of HCC development. Lay summary: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, affects diverse populations and has a global impact, being the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. There are currently no systemic therapies for HCC that can significantly prolong long-term survival. Thus, novel effective treatment options are urgently required. To understand the molecular basis of tumour regression, we compared tumours and regressing liver tumours in mice. We show that a small non-coding miRNA, miR-342-3p, is a tumour suppressor in HCC. Expression of miR-342-3p is low in tumours and high in regressing tumours. When miR-342-3p is delivered to mouse livers with HCC, it can significantly slow down liver tumour development and improve survival. Our study highlights the promising therapeutic potential of miR-342-3p intervention in HCC.
    • Comparative host transcriptome in response to pathogenic fungi identifies common and species-specific transcriptional antifungal host response pathways.

      Bruno, Mariolina; Dewi, Intan M W; Matzaraki, Vicky; Ter Horst, Rob; Pekmezovic, Marina; Rösler, Berenice; Groh, Laszlo; Röring, Rutger J; Kumar, Vinod; Li, Yang; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-12-26)
      Candidiasis, aspergillosis, and mucormycosis cause the majority of nosocomial fungal infections in immunocompromised patients. Using an unbiased transcriptional profiling in PBMCs exposed to the fungal species causing these infections, we found a core host response in healthy individuals that may govern effective fungal clearance: it consists of 156 transcripts, involving canonical and non-canonical immune pathways. Systematic investigation of key steps in antifungal host defense revealed fungal-specific signatures. As previously demonstrated, Candida albicans induced type I and Type II interferon-related pathways. In contrast, central pattern recognition receptor, reactive oxygen species production, and host glycolytic pathways were down-regulated in response to Rhizopus oryzae, which was associated with an ER-stress response. TLR5 was identified to be uniquely regulated by Aspergillus fumigatus and to control cytokine release in response to this fungus. In conclusion, our data reveals the transcriptional profiles induced by C. albicans, A. fumigatus, and R. oryzae, and describes both the common and specific antifungal host responses that could be exploited for novel therapeutic strategies.
    • COVID-19 immune signatures reveal stable antiviral T cell function despite declining humoral responses.

      Bonifacius, Agnes; Tischer-Zimmermann, Sabine; Dragon, Anna C; Gussarow, Daniel; Vogel, Alexander; Krettek, Ulrike; Gödecke, Nina; Yilmaz, Mustafa; Kraft, Anke R M; Hoeper, Marius M; et al.
      Cellular and humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is critical to control primary infection and correlates with severity of disease. The role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity, its relationship to antibodies, and pre-existing immunity against endemic coronaviruses (huCoV), which has been hypothesized to be protective, were investigated in 82 healthy donors (HDs), 204 recovered (RCs), and 92 active COVID-19 patients (ACs). ACs had high amounts of anti-SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid and spike IgG but lymphopenia and overall reduced antiviral T cell responses due to the inflammatory milieu, expression of inhibitory molecules (PD-1, Tim-3) as well as effector caspase-3, -7, and -8 activity in T cells. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity conferred by polyfunctional, mainly interferon-γ-secreting CD4+ T cells remained stable throughout convalescence, whereas humoral responses declined. Immune responses toward huCoV in RCs with mild disease and strong cellular SARS-CoV-2 T cell reactivity imply a protective role of pre-existing immunity against huCoV.
    • EASL position paper on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in patients with chronic liver diseases, hepatobiliary cancer and liver transplant recipients.

      Cornberg, Markus; Buti, Maria; Eberhardt, Christiane S; Grossi, Paolo Antonio; Shouval, Daniel; CiiM, Zentrum für individualisierte Infektionsmedizin, Feodor-Lynen-Str.7, 30625 Hannover. (Elsevier, 2021-02-06)
      According to a recent World Health Organization estimate, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, which originated in China in 2019, has spread globally, infecting nearly 100 million people worldwide by January 2021. Patients with chronic liver diseases (CLD), particularly cirrhosis, hepatobiliary malignancies, candidates for liver transplantation, and immunosuppressed individuals after liver transplantation appear to be at increased risk of infections in general, which in turn translates into increased mortality. This is also the case for SARS-CoV-2 infection, where patients with cirrhosis, in particular, are at high risk of a severe COVID-19 course. Therefore, vaccination against various pathogens including SARS-CoV-2, administered as early as possible in patients with CLD, is an important protective measure. However, due to impaired immune responses in these patients, the immediate and long-term protective response through immunisation may be incomplete. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has led to the exceptionally fast development of several vaccine candidates. A small number of these SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates have already undergone phase III, placebo-controlled, clinical trials in healthy individuals with proof of short-term safety, immunogenicity and efficacy. However, although regulatory agencies in the US and Europe have already approved some of these vaccines for clinical use, information on immunogenicity, duration of protection and long-term safety in patients with CLD, cirrhosis, hepatobiliary cancer and liver transplant recipients has yet to be generated. This review summarises the data on vaccine safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy in this patient population in general and discusses the implications of this knowledge on the introduction of the new SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.
    • Epigenome-wide association study identifies DNA methylation markers for asthma remission in whole blood and nasal epithelium.

      Qi, Cancan; Vonk, Judith M; van der Plaat, Diana A; Nieuwenhuis, Maartje A E; Dijk, F Nicole; Aïssi, Dylan; Siroux, Valérie; Boezen, H Marike; Xu, Cheng-Jian; Koppelman, Gerard H; et al. (BMC, 2020-12-11)
      Background: Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease which is not curable, yet some patients experience spontaneous remission. We hypothesized that epigenetic mechanisms may be involved in asthma remission. Methods: Clinical remission (ClinR) was defined as the absence of asthma symptoms and medication for at least 12 months, and complete remission (ComR) was defined as ClinR with normal lung function and absence of airway hyperresponsiveness. We analyzed differential DNA methylation of ClinR and ComR comparing to persistent asthma (PersA) in whole blood samples (n = 72) and nasal brushing samples (n = 97) in a longitudinal cohort of well characterized asthma patients. Significant findings of whole blood DNA methylation were tested for replication in two independent cohorts, Lifelines and Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA). Results: We identified differentially methylated CpG sites associated with ClinR (7 CpG sites) and ComR (129 CpG sites) in whole blood. One CpG (cg13378519, Chr1) associated with ClinR was replicated and annotated to PEX11 (Peroxisomal Biogenesis Factor 11 Beta). The whole blood DNA methylation levels of this CpG were also different between ClinR and healthy subjects. One ComR-associated CpG (cg24788483, Chr10) that annotated to TCF7L2 (Transcription Factor 7 Like 2) was replicated and associated with expression of TCF7L2 gene. One out of seven ClinR-associated CpG sites and 8 out of 129 ComR-associated CpG sites identified from whole blood samples showed nominal significance (P < 0.05) and the same direction of effect in nasal brushes. Conclusion: We identified DNA methylation markers possibly associated with clinical and complete asthma remission in nasal brushes and whole blood, and two CpG sites identified from whole blood can be replicated in independent cohorts and may play a role in peroxisome proliferation and Wnt signaling pathway.
    • Host immune genetic variations influence the risk of developing acute myeloid leukaemia: results from the NuCLEAR consortium.

      Sánchez-Maldonado, J M; Campa, D; Springer, J; Badiola, J; Niazi, Y; Moñiz-Díez, A; Hernández-Mohedo, F; González-Sierra, P; Ter Horst, R; Macauda, A; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-07-16)
      The purpose of this study was to conduct a two-stage case control association study including 654 acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients and 3477 controls ascertained through the NuCLEAR consortium to evaluate the effect of 27 immune-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on AML risk. In a pooled analysis of cohort studies, we found that carriers of the IL13rs1295686A/A genotype had an increased risk of AML (PCorr = 0.0144) whereas carriers of the VEGFArs25648T allele had a decreased risk of developing the disease (PCorr = 0.00086). In addition, we found an association of the IL8rs2227307 SNP with a decreased risk of developing AML that remained marginally significant after multiple testing (PCorr = 0.072). Functional experiments suggested that the effect of the IL13rs1295686 SNP on AML risk might be explained by its role in regulating IL1Ra secretion that modulates AML blast proliferation. Likewise, the protective effect of the IL8rs2227307 SNP might be mediated by TLR2-mediated immune responses that affect AML blast viability, proliferation and chemorresistance. Despite the potential interest of these results, additional functional studies are still warranted to unravel the mechanisms by which these variants modulate the risk of AML. These findings suggested that IL13, VEGFA and IL8 SNPs play a role in modulating AML risk.
    • Mendelian randomization while jointly modeling cis genetics identifies causal relationships between gene expression and lipids.

      van der Graaf, Adriaan; Claringbould, Annique; Rimbert, Antoine; Westra, Harm-Jan; Li, Yang; Wijmenga, Cisca; Sanna, Serena; CiiM, Zentrum für individualisierte Infektionsmedizin, Feodor-Lynen-Str.7, 30625 Hannover. (Nature publishing group (NPG), 2020-10-01)
      Inference of causality between gene expression and complex traits using Mendelian randomization (MR) is confounded by pleiotropy and linkage disequilibrium (LD) of gene-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). Here, we propose an MR method, MR-link, that accounts for unobserved pleiotropy and LD by leveraging information from individual-level data, even when only one eQTL variant is present. In simulations, MR-link shows false-positive rates close to expectation (median 0.05) and high power (up to 0.89), outperforming all other tested MR methods and coloc. Application of MR-link to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) measurements in 12,449 individuals with expression and protein QTL summary statistics from blood and liver identifies 25 genes causally linked to LDL-C. These include the known SORT1 and ApoE genes as well as PVRL2, located in the APOE locus, for which a causal role in liver was not known. Our results showcase the strength of MR-link for transcriptome-wide causal inferences.
    • Pilot Study Using Machine Learning to Identify Immune Profiles for the Prediction of Early Virological Relapse After Stopping Nucleos(t)ide Analogues in HBeAg-Negative CHB.

      Wübbolding, Maximilian; Lopez Alfonso, Juan Carlos; Lin, Chun-Yen; Binder, Sebastian; Falk, Christine; Debarry, Jennifer; Gineste, Paul; Kraft, Anke R M; Chien, Rong-Nan; Maasoumy, Benjamin; et al. (Wiley, 2020-11-05)
      Treatment with nucleos(t)ide analogues (NAs) may be stopped after 1-3 years of hepatitis B virus DNA suppression in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative patients according to Asian Pacific Association for the Study of Liver and European Association for the Study of Liver guidelines. However, virological relapse (VR) occurs in most patients. We aimed to analyze soluble immune markers (SIMs) and use machine learning to identify SIM combinations as predictor for early VR after NA discontinuation. A validation cohort was used to verify the predictive power of the SIM combination. In a post hoc analysis of a prospective, multicenter therapeutic vaccination trial (ABX-203, NCT02249988), hepatitis B surface antigen, hepatitis B core antigen, and 47 SIMs were repeatedly determined before NA was stopped. Forty-three HBeAg-negative patients were included. To detect the highest predictive constellation of host and viral markers, a supervised machine learning approach was used. Data were validated in a different cohort of 49 patients treated with entecavir. VR (hepatitis B virus DNA ≥ 2,000 IU/mL) occurred in 27 patients. The predictive value for VR of single SIMs at the time of NA stop was best for interleukin (IL)-2, IL-17, and regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES/CCL5) with a maximum area under the curve of 0.65. Hepatitis B core antigen had a higher predictive power than hepatitis B surface antigen but lower than the SIMs. A supervised machine-learning algorithm allowed a remarkable improvement of early relapse prediction in patients treated with entecavir. The combination of IL-2, monokine induced by interferon γ (MIG)/chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 9 (CCL9), RANTES/CCL5, stem cell factor (SCF), and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) was reliable in predicting VR (0.89; 95% confidence interval: 0.5-1.0) and showed viable results in the validation cohort (0.63; 0.1-0.99). Host immune markers such as SIMs appear to be underestimated in guiding treatment cessation in HBeAg-negative patients. Machine learning can help find predictive SIM patterns that allow a precise identification of patients particularly suitable for NA cessation.
    • Polymorphisms within the and Loci Influence the Risk of Developing Invasive Aspergillosis: A Two-Stage Case Control Study in the Context of the aspBIOmics Consortium.

      ánchez-Maldonado, Jose Manuel; Moñiz-Díez, Ana; Rob Ter Horst, Daniele Campa; Cabrera-Serrano, Antonio José; Garrido-Collado, María Del Pilar; Hernández-Mohedo, Fracisca; Fernández-Puerta, Laura; López-Nevot, , Miguel Ángel; Cunha, Ctistina; González-Sierra, Pedro Antonio; et al. (MDPI, 2020-12-23)
      Here, we assessed whether 36 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the TNFSF4 and MAPKAPK2 loci influence the risk of developing invasive aspergillosis (IA). We conducted a two-stage case control study including 911 high-risk patients diagnosed with hematological malignancies that were ascertained through the aspBIOmics consortium. The meta-analysis of the discovery and replication populations revealed that carriers of the TNFSF4rs7526628T/T genotype had a significantly increased risk of developing IA (p = 0.00022). We also found that carriers of the TNFSF4rs7526628T allele showed decreased serum levels of TNFSF14 protein (p = 0.0027), and that their macrophages had a decreased fungicidal activity (p = 0.048). In addition, we observed that each copy of the MAPKAPK2rs12137965G allele increased the risk of IA by 60% (p = 0.0017), whereas each copy of the MAPKAPK2rs17013271T allele was estimated to decrease the risk of developing the disease (p = 0.0029). Mechanistically, we found that carriers of the risk MAPKAPK2rs12137965G allele showed increased numbers of CD38+IgM-IgD- plasmablasts in blood (p = 0.00086), whereas those harboring two copies of the allele had decreased serum concentrations of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (p = 0.00097). Finally, we also found that carriers of the protective MAPKAPK2rs17013271T allele had decreased numbers of CD27-IgM-IgD- B cells (p = 0.00087) and significantly lower numbers of CD14+ and CD14+CD16- cells (p = 0.00018 and 0.00023). Altogether, these results suggest a role of the TNFSF4 and MAPKAPK2 genes in determining IA risk.
    • A pulmonary mucus surrogate for investigating antibiotic permeation and activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms.

      Frisch, Sarah; Boese, Annette; Huck, Benedikt; Horstmann, Justus C; Ho, Duy-Khiet; Schwarzkopf, Konrad; Murgia, Xabier; Loretz, Brigitta; de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz, Cristiane; Lehr, Claus-Michael; et al. (Cell Press, 2021-03-13)
      A growing number of studies show that innate immune cells can undergo functional reprogramming, facilitating a faster and enhanced response to heterologous secondary stimuli. This concept has been termed "trained immunity." We outline here a protocol to recapitulate this in vitro using adherent monocytes from consecutive isolation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The induction of trained immunity and the associated functional reprogramming of monocytes is described in detail using β-glucan (from Candida albicans) and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin as examples. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Repnik et al. (2003) and Bekkering et al. (2016).
    • Reprogramming of bone marrow myeloid progenitor cells in patients with severe coronary artery disease.

      Noz, Marlies P; Bekkering, Siroon; Groh, Laszlo; Nielen, Tim Mj; Lamfers, Evert Jp; Schlitzer, Andreas; El Messaoudi, Saloua; van Royen, Niels; Huys, Erik Hjpg; Preijers, Frank Wmb; et al. (elifesciences.org, 2020-11-10)
      Atherosclerosis is the major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Monocyte-derived macrophages are the most abundant immune cells in atherosclerotic plaques. In patients with atherosclerotic CVD, leukocytes have a hyperinflammatory phenotype. We hypothesize that immune cell reprogramming in these patients occurs at the level of myeloid progenitors. We included 13 patients with coronary artery disease due to severe atherosclerosis and 13 subjects without atherosclerosis in an exploratory study. Cytokine production capacity after ex vivo stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (MNCs) and bone marrow MNCs was higher in patients with atherosclerosis. In BM-MNCs this was associated with increased glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. The BM composition was skewed towards myelopoiesis and transcriptome analysis of HSC/GMP cell populations revealed enrichment of neutrophil- and monocyte-related pathways. These results show that in patients with atherosclerosis, activation of innate immune cells occurs at the level of myeloid progenitors, which adds exciting opportunities for novel treatment strategies.
    • Resolving trained immunity with systems biology.

      Koeken, Valerie A C M; van Crevel, Reinout; Netea, Mihai G; Li, Yang; CiiM, Zentrum für individualisierte Infektionsmedizin, Feodor-Lynen-Str.7, 30625 Hannover. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-02-11)
      Trained immunity is characterized by long-term functional reprogramming of innate immune cells following challenge with pathogens or microbial ligands during infection or vaccination. This cellular reprogramming leads to increased responsiveness upon re-stimulation, and is mediated through epigenetic and metabolic modifications. In this review, we describe how molecular mechanisms underlying trained immunity, for example induced by β-glucan or Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination, can be investigated by using and integrating different layers of information, including genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, microbiome, immune cell phenotyping and function. We also describe the most commonly used experimental and computational techniques. Finally, we provide a number of examples of how a systems biology approach was applied to study trained immunity to understand inter-individual variation or the complex interplay between molecular layers. In conclusion, trained immunity represents an opportunity for regulating innate immune function, and understanding the complex interplay of mechanisms that mediate trained immunity might enable us to employ it as a clinical tool in the future. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    • Sex-Specific Regulation of Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome in Obesity.

      Ter Horst, Rob; van den Munckhof, Inge C L; Schraa, Kiki; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raul; Jaeger, Martin; Smeekens, Sanne P; Brand, Tessa; Lemmers, Heidi; Dijkstra, Helga; Galesloot, Tessel E; et al. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2020-05-28)
      Metabolic dysregulation and inflammation are important consequences of obesity and impact susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. Anti-inflammatory therapy in cardiovascular disease is being developed under the assumption that inflammatory pathways are identical in women and men, but it is not known if this is indeed the case. In this study, we assessed the sex-specific relation between inflammation and metabolic dysregulation in obesity. Approach and Results: Three hundred two individuals were included, half with a BMI 27 to 30 kg/m2 and half with a BMI>30 kg/m2, 45% were women. The presence of metabolic syndrome was assessed according to the National Cholesterol Education Program-ATPIII criteria, and inflammation was studied using circulating markers of inflammation, cell counts, and ex vivo cytokine production capacity of isolated immune cells. Additionally, lipidomic and metabolomic data were gathered, and subcutaneous fat biopsies were histologically assessed. Metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased inflammatory profile that profoundly differs between women and men: women with metabolic syndrome show a lower concentration of the anti-inflammatory adiponectin, whereas men show increased levels of several pro-inflammatory markers such as IL (interleukin)-6 and leptin. Adipose tissue inflammation showed similar sex-specific associations with these markers. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from men, but not women, with metabolic syndrome display enhanced cytokine production capacity.
    • Systematic Prioritization of Candidate Genes in Disease Loci Identifies as a Master Regulator of IFNγ Signaling in Celiac Disease.

      van der Graaf, Adriaan; Zorro, Maria M; Claringbould, Annique; Võsa, Urmo; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raúl; Li, Chan; Mooiweer, Joram; Ricaño-Ponce, Isis; Borek, Zuzanna; Koning, Frits; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-01-25)
      Celiac disease (CeD) is a complex T cell-mediated enteropathy induced by gluten. Although genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genomic regions associated with CeD, it is difficult to accurately pinpoint which genes in these loci are most likely to cause CeD. We used four different in silico approaches-Mendelian randomization inverse variance weighting, COLOC, LD overlap, and DEPICT-to integrate information gathered from a large transcriptomics dataset. This identified 118 prioritized genes across 50 CeD-associated regions. Co-expression and pathway analysis of these genes indicated an association with adaptive and innate cytokine signaling and T cell activation pathways. Fifty-one of these genes are targets of known drug compounds or likely druggable genes, suggesting that our methods can be used to pinpoint potential therapeutic targets. In addition, we detected 172 gene combinations that were affected by our CeD-prioritized genes in trans. Notably, 41 of these trans-mediated genes appear to be under control of one master regulator, TRAF-type zinc finger domain containing 1 (TRAFD1), and were found to be involved in interferon (IFN)γ signaling and MHC I antigen processing/presentation. Finally, we performed in vitro experiments in a human monocytic cell line that validated the role of TRAFD1 as an immune regulator acting in trans. Our strategy confirmed the role of adaptive immunity in CeD and revealed a genetic link between CeD and IFNγ signaling as well as with MHC I antigen processing, both major players of immune activation and CeD pathogenesis.
    • Tissue alarmins and adaptive cytokine induce dynamic and distinct transcriptional responses in tissue-resident intraepithelial cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

      Zorro, Maria Magdalena; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raul; Mayassi, Toufic; Ciszewski, Cezary; Barisani, Donatella; Hu, Shixian; Weersma, Rinse K; Withoff, Sebo; Li, Yang; Wijmenga, Cisca; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-02-04)
      The respective effects of tissue alarmins interleukin (IL)-15 and interferon beta (IFNβ), and IL-21 produced by T cells on the reprogramming of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that cause tissue destruction in celiac disease is poorly understood. Transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling of primary intestinal CTLs showed massive and distinct temporal transcriptional changes in response to tissue alarmins, while the impact of IL-21 was limited. Only anti-viral pathways were induced in response to all the three stimuli, albeit with differences in dynamics and strength. Moreover, changes in gene expression were primarily independent of changes in H3K27ac, suggesting that other regulatory mechanisms drive the robust transcriptional response. Finally, we found that IL-15/IFNβ/IL-21 transcriptional signatures could be linked to transcriptional alterations in risk loci for complex immune diseases. Together these results provide new insights into molecular mechanisms that fuel the activation of CTLs under conditions that emulate the inflammatory environment in patients with autoimmune diseases.