• 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.
    • The Immunological Factors Predisposing to Severe Covid-19 Are Already Present in Healthy Elderly and Men.

      Kilic, Gizem; Bulut, Ozlem; Jaeger, Martin; Ter Horst, Rob; Koeken, Valerie A C M; Moorlag, Simone J C F M; Mourits, Vera P; de Bree, Charlotte; Domínguez-Andrés, Jorge; Joosten, Leo A B; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-08-09)
      Male sex and old age are risk factors for COVID-19 severity, but the underlying causes are unknown. A possible explanation for this might be the differences in immunological profiles in males and the elderly before the infection. With this in mind, we analyzed the abundance of circulating proteins and immune populations associated with severe COVID-19 in 2 healthy cohorts. Besides, given the seasonal profile of COVID-19, the seasonal response against SARS-CoV-2 could also be different in the elderly and males. Therefore, PBMCs of female, male, young, and old subjects in different seasons of the year were stimulated with heat-inactivated SARS-CoV-2 to investigate the season-dependent anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune response. We found that several T cell subsets, which are known to be depleted in severe COVID-19 patients, were intrinsically less abundant in men and older individuals. Plasma proteins increasing with disease severity, including HGF, IL-8, and MCP-1, were more abundant in the elderly and males. Upon in vitro SARS-CoV-2 stimulation, the elderly produced significantly more IL-1RA and had a dysregulated IFNγ response with lower production in the fall compared with young individuals. Our results suggest that the immune characteristics of severe COVID-19, described by a differential abundance of immune cells and circulating inflammatory proteins, are intrinsically present in healthy men and the elderly. This might explain the susceptibility of men and the elderly to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
    • Polymorphisms within Autophagy-Related Genes Influence the Risk of Developing Colorectal Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of Four Large Cohorts.

      Sainz, Juan; García-Verdejo, Francisco José; Martínez-Bueno, Manuel; Kumar, Abhishek; Sánchez-Maldonado, José Manuel; Díez-Villanueva, Anna; Vodičková, Ludmila; Vymetálková, Veronika; Martin Sánchez, Vicente; Da Silva Filho, Miguel Inacio; et al. (MDPI, 2021-03-12)
      The role of genetic variation in autophagy-related genes in modulating autophagy and cancer is poorly understood. Here, we comprehensively investigated the association of autophagy-related variants with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk and provide new insights about the molecular mechanisms underlying the associations. After meta-analysis of the genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from four independent European cohorts (8006 CRC cases and 7070 controls), two loci, DAPK2 (p = 2.19 × 10-5) and ATG5 (p = 6.28 × 10-4) were associated with the risk of CRC. Mechanistically, the DAPK2rs11631973G allele was associated with IL1 β levels after the stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with Staphylococcus aureus (p = 0.002), CD24 + CD38 + CD27 + IgM + B cell levels in blood (p = 0.0038) and serum levels of en-RAGE (p = 0.0068). ATG5rs546456T allele was associated with TNF α and IL1 β levels after the stimulation of PBMCs with LPS (p = 0.0088 and p = 0.0076, respectively), CD14+CD16- cell levels in blood (p = 0.0068) and serum levels of CCL19 and cortisol (p = 0.0052 and p = 0.0074, respectively). Interestingly, no association with autophagy flux was observed. These results suggested an effect of the DAPK2 and ATG5 loci in the pathogenesis of CRC, likely through the modulation of host immune responses.
    • 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.
    • Validation of GWAS-Identified Variants for Anti-TNF Drug Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Meta-Analysis of Two Large Cohorts.

      Sánchez-Maldonado, Jose Manuel; Cáliz, Rafael; López-Nevot, Miguel Ángel; Cabrera-Serrano, Antonio José; Moñiz-Díez, Ana; Canhão, Helena; Ter Horst, Rob; Quartuccio, Luca; Sorensen, Signe B; Glintborg, Bente; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-10-27)
      We aimed to validate the association of 28 GWAS-identified genetic variants for response to TNF inhibitors (TNFi) in a discovery cohort of 1361 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients monitored in routine care and ascertained through the REPAIR consortium and DANBIO registry. We genotyped selected markers and evaluated their association with response to TNFi after 6 months of treatment according to the change in disease activity score 28 (ΔDAS28). Next, we confirmed the most interesting results through meta-analysis of our data with those from the DREAM cohort that included 706 RA patients treated with TNFi. The meta-analysis of the discovery cohort and DREAM registry including 2067 RA patients revealed an overall association of the LINC02549 rs7767069 SNP with a lower improvement in DAS28 that remained significant after correction for multiple testing (per-allele ORMeta=0.83, P Meta=0.000077; P Het=0.61). In addition, we found that each copy of the LRRC55 rs717117G allele was significantly associated with lower improvement in DAS28 in rheumatoid factor (RF)-positive patients (per-allele ORMeta=0.67, P=0.00058; P Het=0.06) whereas an opposite but not significant effect was detected in RF-negative subjects (per-allele ORMeta=1.38, P=0.10; P Het=0.45; P Interaction=0.00028). Interestingly, although the identified associations did not survive multiple testing correction, the meta-analysis also showed overall and RF-specific associations for the MAFB rs6071980 and CNTN5 rs1813443 SNPs with decreased changes in DAS28 (per-allele ORMeta_rs6071980 = 0.85, P=0.0059; P Het=0.63 and ORMeta_rs1813443_RF+=0.81, P=0.0059; P Het=0.69 and ORMeta_rs1813443_RF-=1.00, P=0.99; P Het=0.12; P Interaction=0.032). Mechanistically, we found that subjects carrying the LINC02549 rs7767069T allele had significantly increased numbers of CD45RO+CD45RA+ T cells (P=0.000025) whereas carriers of the LINC02549 rs7767069T/T genotype showed significantly increased levels of soluble scavengers CD5 and CD6 in serum (P=0.00037 and P=0.00041). In addition, carriers of the LRRC55 rs717117G allele showed decreased production of IL6 after stimulation of PBMCs with B burgdorferi and E coli bacteria (P=0.00046 and P=0.00044), which suggested a reduced IL6-mediated anti-inflammatory effect of this marker to worsen the response to TNFi. In conclusion, this study confirmed the influence of the LINC02549 and LRRC55 loci to determine the response to TNFi in RA patients and suggested a weak effect of the MAFB and CNTN5 loci that need to be further investigated.