Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Dimensionality reduction of diffusion MRI measures for improved tractometry of the human brain.
    Chamberland, M ; Raven, EP ; Genc, S ; Duffy, K ; Descoteaux, M ; Parker, GD ; Tax, CMW ; Jones, DK (Elsevier BV, 2019-10-15)
    Various diffusion MRI (dMRI) measures have been proposed for characterising tissue microstructure over the last 15 years. Despite the growing number of experiments using different dMRI measures in assessments of white matter, there has been limited work on: 1) examining their covariance along specific pathways; and on 2) combining these different measures to study tissue microstructure. Indeed, it quickly becomes intractable for existing analysis pipelines to process multiple measurements at each voxel and at each vertex forming a streamline, highlighting the need for new ways to visualise or analyse such high-dimensional data. In a sample of 36 typically developing children aged 8-18 years, we profiled various commonly used dMRI measures across 22 brain pathways. Using a data-reduction approach, we identified two biologically-interpretable components that capture 80% of the variance in these dMRI measures. The first derived component captures properties related to hindrance and restriction in tissue microstructure, while the second component reflects characteristics related to tissue complexity and orientational dispersion. We then demonstrate that the components generated by this approach preserve the biological relevance of the original measurements by showing age-related effects across developmentally sensitive pathways. In summary, our findings demonstrate that dMRI analyses can benefit from dimensionality reduction techniques, to help disentangling the neurobiological underpinnings of white matter organisation.
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    Cigarette smoke extract exacerbates hyperpermeability of cerebral endothelial cells after oxygen glucose deprivation and reoxygenation
    Bernard, A ; Ku, JM ; Vlahos, R ; Miller, AA (NATURE RESEARCH, 2019-10-30)
    Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for stroke and is linked to stroke severity. Previous studies have shown that cigarette smoke extract (CSE) triggers endothelial dysfunction in vitro by initiating oxidative stress and/or an inflammatory response. In addition, cerebral endothelial dysfunction (particularly at the level of the blood-brain barrier [BBB]) contributes to stroke pathogenesis. Therefore, we hypothesized that cigarette smoking may influence stroke, at least in part, by exacerbating ischaemia-induced BBB disruption. To test this, we examined the effect of CSE on the permeability of cerebral endothelial cells exposed to oxygen glucose deprivation and reoxygenation (OGD + RO). We found that the loss of BBB integrity following ischaemic/reperfusion-like conditions was significantly worsened by CSE. Despite this being associated with increased mRNA expression of Nox catalytic subunits, reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were however markedly lower. Furthermore, this occurred in association with elevated expression of antioxidant enzymes (SOD1, SOD2, and Gpx-1), suggesting an antioxidant defence response. Lastly, we found that CSE significantly upregulated mRNA expression of cytokines (IL-6 and TGF-β). Collectively, these results show that acute exposure to CSE worsens BBB disruption caused by OGD + RO, however, this is not linked to elevated ROS levels but may involve inflammatory mechanisms.
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    Losartan does not inhibit cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation in mice
    Hepworth, ML ; Passey, SL ; Seow, HJ ; Vlahos, R (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-10-21)
    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease largely caused by cigarette smoking (CS) and is characterized by lung inflammation and airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. Approximately 50% of people with COPD die of a cardiovascular comorbidity and current pharmacological strategies provide little benefit. Therefore, drugs that target the lung and the cardiovascular system concurrently may be an advantageous therapeutic strategy. The aim of this study was to see whether losartan, an angiotensin-II AT1a receptor antagonist widely used to treat hypertension associated with cardiovascular disease, protects against CS-induced lung inflammation in mice. Male BALB/c mice were exposed to CS for 8 weeks and treated with either losartan (30 mg/kg) or vehicle daily. Mice were euthanized and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) inflammation, and whole lung cytokine, chemokine and protease mRNA expression assessed. CS caused significant increases in BALF total cells, macrophages, neutrophils and whole lung IL-6, TNF-α, CXCL-1, IL-17A and MMP12 mRNA expression compared to sham-exposed mice. However, losartan only reduced CS-induced increases in IL-6 mRNA expression. Angiotensin-II receptor expression was reduced in lung tissue from CS-exposed mice. In conclusion, losartan did not inhibit CS-induced BALF cellularity despite reducing whole lung IL-6 mRNA and Ang-II receptor expression.
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    Novel endosomal NOX2 oxidase inhibitor ameliorates pandemic influenza A virus-induced lung inflammation in mice.
    To, EE ; Luong, R ; Diao, J ; O' Leary, JJ ; Brooks, DA ; Vlahos, R ; Selemidis, S (Wiley, 2019-10)
    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Influenza A viruses (IAV) cause respiratory tract infections that can be fatal when the virus spreads to the alveolar space (i.e. alveolitis), and this is mainly observed with highly pathogenic strains. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production by the NOX2 NADPH oxidase in endosomes has been directly implicated in IAV pathology. Recently, we demonstrated that treatment with a novel endosome-targeted NOX2 oxidase inhibitor, cholestanol-conjugated gp91dsTAT (Cgp91ds-TAT), attenuated airway inflammation and viral replication to infection with a low pathogenic influenza A viral strain. Here, we determined whether suppression of endosome NOX2 oxidase prevents the lung inflammation following infection with a highly pathogenic IAV strain. METHODS: C57Bl/6 mice were intranasally treated with either DMSO vehicle (2%) or Cgp91ds-TAT (0.2 mg/kg/day) 1 day prior to infection with the high pathogenicity PR8 IAV strain (500 PFU/mouse). At Day 3 post-infection, mice were culled for the evaluation of airway and lung inflammation, viral titres and ROS generation. RESULTS: PR8 infection resulted in a marked degree of airway inflammation, epithelial denudation, alveolitis and inflammatory cell ROS production. Cgp91ds-TAT treatment significantly attenuated airway inflammation, including neutrophil influx, the degree of alveolitis and inflammatory cell ROS generation. Importantly, the anti-inflammatory phenotype affected by Cgp91ds-TAT significantly enhanced the clearance of lung viral mRNA following PR8 infection. CONCLUSION: Endosomal NOX2 oxidase promotes pathogenic lung inflammation to IAV infection. The localized delivery of endosomal NOX2 oxidase inhibitors is a novel therapeutic strategy against IAV, which has the potential to limit the pathogenesis caused during epidemics and pandemics.
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    Complement 3(+)-astrocytes are highly abundant in prion diseases, but their abolishment led to an accelerated disease course and early dysregulation of microglia
    Hartmann, K ; Sepulveda-Falla, D ; Rose, IVL ; Madore, C ; Muth, C ; Matschke, J ; Butovsky, O ; Liddelow, S ; Glatzel, M ; Krasemann, S (BMC, 2019-05-22)
    Astrogliosis and activation of microglia are hallmarks of prion diseases in humans and animals. Both were viewed to be rather independent events in disease pathophysiology, with proinflammatory microglia considered to be the potential neurotoxic species at late disease stages. Recent investigations have provided substantial evidence that a proinflammatory microglial cytokine cocktail containing TNF-α, IL-1α and C1qa reprograms a subset of astrocytes to change their expression profile and phenotype, thus becoming neurotoxic (designated as A1-astrocytes). Knockout or antibody blockage of the three cytokines abolish formation of A1-astrocytes, therefore, this pathway is of high therapeutic interest in neurodegenerative diseases. Since astrocyte polarization profiles have never been investigated in prion diseases, we performed several analyses and could show that C3+-PrPSc-reactive-astrocytes, which may represent a subtype of A1-astrocytes, are highly abundant in prion disease mouse models and human prion diseases. To investigate their impact on prion disease pathophysiology and to evaluate their potential therapeutic targeting, we infected TNF-α, IL-1α, and C1qa Triple-KO mice (TKO-mice), which do not transit astrocytes into A1, with prions. Although formation of C3+-astrocytes was significantly reduced in prion infected Triple-KO-mice, this did not affect the amount of PrPSc deposition or titers of infectious prions. Detailed characterization of the astrocyte activation signature in thalamus tissue showed that astrocytes in prion diseases are highly activated, showing a mixed phenotype that is distinct from other neurodegenerative diseases and were therefore termed C3+-PrPSc-reactive-astrocytes. Unexpectedly, Triple-KO led to a significant acceleration of prion disease course. While pan-astrocyte and -microglia marker upregulation was unchanged compared to WT-brains, microglial homeostatic markers were lost early in disease in TKO-mice, pointing towards important functions of different glia cell types in prion diseases.
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    New frontiers in the treatment of comorbid cardiovascular disease in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    Brassington, K ; Selemidis, S ; Bozinovski, S ; Vlahos, R (PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2019-04-15)
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease characterised by persistent airflow limitation that is not fully reversible and is currently the fourth leading cause of death globally. It is now well established that cardiovascular-related comorbidities contribute to morbidity and mortality in COPD, with approximately 50% of deaths in COPD patients attributed to a cardiovascular event (e.g. myocardial infarction). Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and COPD share various risk factors including hypertension, sedentarism, smoking and poor diet but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully established. However, there is emerging and compelling experimental and clinical evidence to show that increased oxidative stress causes pulmonary inflammation and that the spill over of pro-inflammatory mediators from the lungs into the systemic circulation drives a persistent systemic inflammatory response that alters blood vessel structure, through vascular remodelling and arterial stiffness resulting in atherosclerosis. In addition, regulation of endothelial-derived vasoactive substances (e.g. nitric oxide (NO)), which control blood vessel tone are altered by oxidative damage of vascular endothelial cells, thus promoting vascular dysfunction, a key driver of CVD. In this review, the detrimental role of oxidative stress in COPD and comorbid CVD are discussed and we propose that targeting oxidant-dependent mechanisms represents a novel strategy in the treatment of COPD-associated CVD.
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    Prior cigarette smoke exposure does not affect acute post-stroke outcomes in mice
    Austin, V ; Miller, A ; Vlahos, R ; Larcombe, A (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-03-21)
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is currently the third leading cause of death globally and is characterized by airflow limitation that is progressive and not fully reversible. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of COPD. Fifty percent of deaths in the COPD population are due to a cardiovascular event and it is now recognised that COPD is a risk factor for stroke. Whether COPD increases stroke severity has not been explored. The aim of this study was to investigate whether functional and histological endpoints of stroke outcomes in mice after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAo) were more severe in mice exposed to cigarette smoke (CS). 7-week-old male C57BL/6 mice were exposed to room air or CS generated from 9 cigarettes/day, 5 days/week for 2, 8 and 12 weeks. Following air or CS exposure, mice underwent tMCAO surgery with an ischaemic period of 30-40 min or sham surgery. Mice were euthanised 24 h following the induction of ischaemia and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), lungs and brains collected. Mice exposed to CS for 2 weeks and subjected to a stroke had similar BALF macrophages to air-exposed and stroke mice. However, CS plus stroke mice had significantly more BALF total cells, neutrophils and lymphocytes than air plus stroke mice. Mice exposed to CS for 8 and 12 weeks had significantly greater BALF total cells, macrophages, neutrophils and lymphocytes than air-exposed mice, but stroke did not affect CS-induced BALF cellularity. Prior CS exposure did not worsen stroke-induced neurological deficit scores, reduced foregrip strength, infarct and oedema volumes. Collectively, we found that although CS exposure caused significant BALF inflammation, it did not worsen acute post-stroke outcomes in mice. This data suggests that while patients with COPD are at increased risk of stroke, it may not translate to COPD patients having more severe stroke outcomes.
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    Ischaemic stroke in mice induces lung inflammation but not acute lung injury
    Austin, V ; Ku, JM ; Miller, AA ; Vlahos, R (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-03-06)
    Stroke is a major cause of death worldwide and ischemic stroke is the most common subtype accounting for approximately 80% of all cases. Pulmonary complications occur in the first few days to weeks following ischemic stroke and are a major contributor to morbidity and mortality. Acute lung injury (ALI) occurs in up to 30% of patients with subarachnoid haemorrhage but the incidence of ALI after ischemic stroke is unclear. As ischemic stroke is the most common subtype of stroke, it is important to understand the development of ALI following the initial ischemic injury to the brain. Therefore, this study investigated whether focal ischemic stroke causes lung inflammation and ALI in mice. Ischemic stroke caused a significant increase in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) macrophages and neutrophils and whole lung tissue proinflammatory IL-1β mRNA expression but this did not translate into histologically evident ALI. Thus, it appears that lung inflammation, but not ALI, occurs after experimental ischemic stroke in mice. This has significant implications for organ donors as the lungs from patient's dying of ischemic stroke are not severely damaged and could thus be used for transplantation in people awaiting this life-saving therapy.
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    ADAM17 selectively activates the IL-6 trans-signaling/ERK MAPK axis in KRAS-addicted lung cancer
    Saad, MI ; Alhayyani, S ; McLeod, L ; Yu, L ; Alanazi, M ; Deswaerte, V ; Tang, K ; Jarde, T ; Smith, JA ; Prodanovic, Z ; Tate, MD ; Balic, JJ ; Watkins, DN ; Cain, JE ; Bozinovski, S ; Algar, E ; Kohmoto, T ; Ebi, H ; Ferlin, W ; Garbers, C ; Ruwanpura, S ; Sagi, I ; Rose-John, S ; Jenkins, BJ (WILEY, 2019-04-01)
    Oncogenic KRAS mutations are major drivers of lung adenocarcinoma (LAC), yet the direct therapeutic targeting of KRAS has been problematic. Here, we reveal an obligate requirement by oncogenic KRAS for the ADAM17 protease in LAC In genetically engineered and xenograft (human cell line and patient-derived) Kras G12D-driven LAC models, the specific blockade of ADAM17, including with a non-toxic prodomain inhibitor, suppressed tumor burden by reducing cellular proliferation. The pro-tumorigenic activity of ADAM17 was dependent upon its threonine phosphorylation by p38 MAPK, along with the preferential shedding of the ADAM17 substrate, IL-6R, to release soluble IL-6R that drives IL-6 trans-signaling via the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway. The requirement for ADAM17 in Kras G12D-driven LAC was independent of bone marrow-derived immune cells. Furthermore, in KRAS mutant human LAC, there was a significant positive correlation between augmented phospho-ADAM17 levels, observed primarily in epithelial rather than immune cells, and activation of ERK and p38 MAPK pathways. Collectively, these findings identify ADAM17 as a druggable target for oncogenic KRAS-driven LAC and provide the rationale to employ ADAM17-based therapeutic strategies for targeting KRAS mutant cancers.
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    Intranasal and epicutaneous administration of Toll- like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonists provides protection against influenza A virus-induced morbidity in mice
    To, EE ; Erlich, J ; Liong, F ; Luong, R ; Liong, S ; Bozinovski, S ; Seow, HJ ; O'Leary, JJ ; Brooks, DA ; Vlahos, R ; Selemidis, S (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-02-20)
    Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) is a pattern recognition receptor that recognizes viral RNA following endocytosis of the virus and initiates a powerful immune response characterized by Type I IFN production and pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Despite this immune response, the virus causes very significant pathology, which may be inflammation-dependent. In the present study, we examined the effect of intranasal delivery of the TLR7 agonist, imiquimod or its topical formulation Aldara, on the inflammation and pathogenesis caused by IAV infection. In mice, daily intranasal delivery of imiquimod prevented peak viral replication, bodyweight loss, airway and pulmonary inflammation, and lung neutrophils. Imiquimod treatment also resulted in a significant reduction in pro-inflammatory neutrophil chemotactic cytokines and prevented the increase in viral-induced lung dysfunction. Various antibody isotypes (IgG1, IgG2a, total IgG, IgE and IgM), which were increased in the BALF following influenza A virus infection, were further increased with imiquimod. While epicutaneous application of Aldara had a significant effect on body weight, it did not reduce neutrophil and eosinophil airway infiltration; indicating less effective drug delivery for this formulation. We concluded that intranasal imiquimod facilitates a more effective immune response, which can limit the pathology associated with influenza A virus infection.