Surgery (Austin & Northern Health) - Research Publications

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    Zinc supplementation as an adjunct therapy for COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities
    Chinni, V ; El-Khoury, J ; Perera, M ; Bellomo, R ; Jones, D ; Bolton, D ; Ischia, J ; Patel, O (WILEY, 2021-06-02)
    An outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or 2019-CoV) infection has posed significant threats to international health and the economy. Patients with COVID-19 are at risk of cytokine storm, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), reduced blood oxygenation, mechanical ventilation, and a high death rate. Although recent studies have shown remdesivir and dexamethasone as treatment options, there is an urgent need to find a treatment to inhibit virus replication and to control the progression of the disease. Essential biometal zinc has generated a lot of excitement as one of the promising candidates to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection. Several published observations outlined in the review are the reasons why there is a global enthusiasm that zinc therapy could be a possible therapeutic option. However, the biggest challenge in realising the therapeutic value of zinc is lack of optimal treatment modalities such as dose, duration of zinc supplementation and the mode of delivery. In this review, we discuss the regulatory mechanism that hinges upon the bioavailability of zinc. Finally, we propose that intravenous zinc could circumvent the confounding factors affecting the bioavailability of zinc and allow zinc to achieve its therapeutic potential. If successful, due to advantages such as lack of toxicity, low cost and ease of availability, intravenous zinc could be rapidly implemented clinically.
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    Metformin may offer no protective effect in men undergoing external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer
    Ranasinghe, WKB ; Williams, S ; Ischia, J ; Wetherell, D ; Baldwin, G ; Shulkes, A ; Sengupta, S ; Bolton, D ; Patel, O (WILEY, 2019-05-01)
    OBJECTIVES: To assess whether metformin reduces radio-resistance and increases survival in men undergoing external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) for prostate cancer (PCa), and to determine its effect on hypoxia inducible factor 1-α (HIF1α). PATIENTS AND METHODS: All patients treated with curative intent with EBRT for PCa at a major cancer centre between 2000 and 2007 were included in this study. The outcome measures of time to biochemical failure (BF), metastasis, PCa-specific mortality and overall survival (OS) were analysed in those taking metformin vs those not, using competing risk and Cox regression models. To determine metformin's effect on HIF1α expression and survival in vitro, PC3 cells with high basal HIF1α levels were subjected to increasing doses of metformin after H2 O2 -induced oxidative stress. RESULTS: A total of 2055 eligible cases, including 113 who were on metformin, were identified, with a median follow-up of 95.7 months. There were no differences in age, initial prostate-specific antigen level, Gleason score, T-stage, D'Amico risk class or duration of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) between patients who were or were not on metformin. Treatment with metformin did not result in any apparent improvement in time to BF, time to metastasis detection or OS, but there was a 1.5-fold increase in PCa-specific deaths (P = 0.045) in patients on metformin and ADT when adjusted for cancer risk and comorbidities. When comparing patients on high-dose metformin (>1 g/d) with those on low-dose metformin (≤1 g), there was no difference in either time to metastases or time to BF. In vitro metformin at a high concentration of 100 μM did not reduce HIF1α expression, nor did metformin affect the PC3 cell survival when exposed to oxidative stress (H2 O2 ). CONCLUSIONS: No association was found between the use of metformin and time to metastasis detection, time to BF or OS in patients undergoing radiation therapy with or without ADT for PCa. In vitro, low therapeutic concentrations of metformin had no effect on HIF1α, and this observation could explain the conflicting evidence for the effectiveness of metformin in men undergoing EBRT for PCa. Higher, more toxic doses of metformin may be required to inhibit the mammalian target of rapamycin-HIF1α pathway in this patient group.
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    A pilot double-blind safety and feasibility randomized controlled trial of high-dose intravenous zinc in hospitalized COVID-19 patients
    Patel, O ; Chinni, V ; El-Khoury, J ; Perera, M ; Neto, AS ; McDonald, C ; See, E ; Jones, D ; Bolton, D ; Bellomo, R ; Trubiano, J ; Ischia, J (WILEY, 2021-03-09)
    Zinc inhibits replication of the SARS-CoV virus. We aimed to evaluate the safety, feasibility, and biological effect of administering high-dose intravenous zinc (HDIVZn) to patients with COVID-19. We performed a Phase IIa double-blind, randomized controlled trial to compare HDIVZn to placebo in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We administered trial treatment per day for a maximum of 7 days until either death or hospital discharge. We measured zinc concentration at baseline and during treatment and observed patients for any significant side effects. For eligible patients, we randomized and administered treatment to 33 adult participants to either HDIVZn (n = 15) or placebo (n = 18). We observed no serious adverse events throughout the study for a total of 94 HDIVZn administrations. However, three participants in the HDIVZn group reported infusion site irritation. Mean serum zinc on Day 1 in the placebo, and the HDIVZn group was 6.9 ± 1.1 and 7.7 ± 1.6 µmol/l, respectively, consistent with zinc deficiency. HDIVZn, but not placebo, increased serum zinc levels above the deficiency cutoff of 10.7 µmol/l (p < .001) on Day 6. Our study did not reach its target enrollment because stringent public health measures markedly reduced patient hospitalizations. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients demonstrated zinc deficiency. This can be corrected with HDIVZn. Such treatment appears safe, feasible, and only associated with minimal peripheral infusion site irritation. This pilot study justifies further investigation of this treatment in COVID-19 patients.
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    Zinc Preconditioning Provides Cytoprotection following Iodinated Contrast Media Exposure in In Vitro Models
    Perera, M ; Ischia, J ; Bolton, D ; Shulkes, A ; Baldwin, GS ; Patel, O ; de Barros, ALB (WILEY-HINDAWI, 2021-02-17)
    Methods: Normal human proximal renal kidney cells (HK-2) were preconditioned with either increasing doses of ZnCl2 or control. Following this preconditioning, cells were exposed to increasing concentrations of Iohexol 300 mg I2/ml for four hours. Key outcome measures included cell survival (MTT colorimetric assay) and ROS generation (H2DCFDA fluorescence assay). Results: Contrast media induced a dose-dependent reduction in survival of HK-2 cells. Compared to control, contrast media at 150, 225, and 300 mg I2/ml resulted in 69.5% (SD 8.8%), 37.3% (SD 4.8%), and 4.8% (SD 6.6%) cell survival, respectively (p < 0.001). Preconditioning with 37.5 μM and 50 μM ZnCl2 increased cell survival by 173% (SD 27.8%) (p < 0.001) and 219% (SD 32.2%) (p < 0.001), respectively, compared to control preconditioning. Zinc preconditioning resulted in a reduction of ROS generation. Zinc pre-conditioning with 37.5 μM μM ZnCl2 reduced ROS generation by 46% (p < 0.001) compared to control pre-conditioning. Conclusions: Zinc preconditioning reduces oxidative stress following exposure to radiographic contrast media which in turn results in increased survival of renal cells. Translation of this in vitro finding in animal models will lay the foundation for future use of zinc preconditioning against contrast induced nephropathy.
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    Randomised controlled trial for high-dose intravenous zinc as adjunctive therapy in SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) positive critically ill patients: trial protocol
    Perera, M ; El Khoury, J ; Chinni, V ; Bolton, D ; Qu, L ; Johnson, P ; Trubiano, J ; McDonald, CF ; Jones, D ; Bellomo, R ; Patel, O ; Ischia, J (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-01-01)
    INTRODUCTION: SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has caused an international pandemic of respiratory illness, resulting in significant healthcare and economic turmoil. To date, no robust vaccine or treatment has been identified. Elemental zinc has previously been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on coronaviruses and other viral respiratory infections due to its effect on RNA polymerase. Additionally, zinc has well-demonstrated protective effects against hypoxic injury-a clear mechanism of end-organ injury in respiratory distress syndrome. We aimed to assess the effect of high-dose intravenous zinc (HDIVZn) on SARS-CoV-2 infection. The end of study analyses will evaluate the reduction of impact of oxygen saturations or requirement of oxygen supplementation. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We designed a double-blind randomised controlled trial of daily HDIVZn (0.5 mg/kg) versus placebo. Primary outcome measures are lowest oxygen saturation (or greatest level of supplemental oxygenation) for non-ventilated patients and worst PaO2/FiO2 for ventilated patients. Following power calculations, 60 hospitalised patients and 100 ventilated patients will be recruited to demonstrate a 20% difference. The duration of follow-up is up to the point of discharge. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval was obtained through the independent Human Research Ethics Committee. Participant recruitment will commence in May 2020. Results will be published in peer-reviewed medical journals. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ACTRN126200000454976.
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    Targeting HIF-1α to Prevent Renal Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury: Does It Work?
    Sethi, K ; Rao, K ; Bolton, D ; Patel, O ; Ischia, J (Hindawi Limited, 2018)
    Partial nephrectomy (open or minimally invasive) usually requires temporary renal arterial occlusion to limit intraoperative bleeding and improve access to intrarenal structures. This is a time-critical step due to the critical ischemia period of renal tissue. Prolonged renal ischemia may lead to irreversible nephron damage in the remaining tissue and, ultimately, chronic kidney disease. This is potentiated by the incompletely understood ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). A key mechanism in IRI prevention appears to be the upregulation of an intracellular transcription protein, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF). HIF mediates metabolic adaptation, angiogenesis, erythropoiesis, cell growth, survival, and apoptosis. Upregulating HIF-1α via ischemic preconditioning (IPC) or drugs that simulate hypoxia (hypoxia-mimetics) has been investigated as a method to reduce IRI. While many promising chemical agents have been trialed for the prevention of IRI in small animal studies, all have failed in human trials. The aim of this review is to highlight the techniques and drugs that target HIF-1α and ameliorate IRI associated with renal ischemia. Developing a technique or drug that could reduce the risk of acute kidney injury associated with renal IRI would have an immediate worldwide impact on multisystem surgeries that would otherwise risk ischemic tissue injury.
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    Experimental rat models for contrast-induced nephropathy; A comprehensive review
    Perera, M ; Ischia, J ; Bolton, D ; Shulkes, A ; Baldwin, GS ; Patel, O (Society of Diabetic Nephropathy Prevention, 2020-04-01)
    Contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) is an iatrogenic disease caused by the parenteral administration of iodinated contrast media (CM). A number of agents are currently being assessed to minimise or prevent CIN. Such agents are typically assessed using rat models. The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive review of the rat models of CIN used in pre-clinical research. The MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science and Cochrane databases were systematically searched. Articles reporting rat models of CIN were included for assessment. Study designs, contrast agents and outcome measures were assessed. Of the assessed studies, a majority report a requirement for pre-existing renal impairment prior to the administration of CM. Outcome measures are heterogenous between studies, but typically include assessment and quantification of serum biochemical markers, cellular oxidative stress and histopathological changes. The significant variation in methodology reported in the current literature highlights the lack of consensus. The use of a reliable pre-contrast insult appears critical to result in the development of contrast nephropathy. The use of acceptable outcome measures appears to include serum laboratory markers, quantification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and objective histopathological outcomes.
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    Corrigendum to "Targeting HIF-1α to Prevent Renal Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury: Does It Work?"
    Sethi, K ; Rao, K ; Shulkes, A ; Baldwin, G ; Bolton, D ; Patel, O ; Ischia, J (Hindawi Limited, 2019)
    [This corrects the article DOI: 10.1155/2018/9852791.].
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    The effects of nonspecific HIF1 alpha inhibitors on development of castrate resistance and metastases in prostate cancer
    Ranasinghe, WKB ; Sengupta, S ; Williams, S ; Chang, M ; Shulkes, A ; Bolton, DM ; Baldwin, G ; Patel, O (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014-04-01)
    Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)1α increases the risk of castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and metastases in patients on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer (PC). We aimed to investigate the effects of nonspecific HIF1α inhibitors (Digoxin, metformin, and angiotensin-2 receptor blockers) on development of CRPC and metastases while on ADT. A retrospective review of prospectively collected medical records was conducted of all men who had continuous ADT as first-line therapy for CRPC at the Austin Hospital from 1983 to 2011. Association between HIF1α inhibitor medications and time to develop CRPC was investigated using actuarial statistics. Ninety-eight patients meeting the criteria were identified. Eighteen patients (21.4%) were treated with the nonspecific HIF1α inhibitors. Both groups had similar characteristics, apart from patients on HIF1α inhibitors being older (70 years vs. 63.9 years). The median CRPC-free survival was longer in men using HIF1α inhibitors compared to those not on inhibitors (6.7 years vs. 2.7 years, P = 0.01) and there was a 71% reduction in the risk of developing CRPC (HR 0.29 [95% CI 0.10-0.78] P = 0.02) after adjustment for Gleason score, age, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA). The median metastasis-free survival in men on HIF1α inhibitors was also significantly longer compared to those on no inhibitors (5.1 years vs. 2.6 years, P = 0.01) with an 81% reduction in the risk of developing metastases (HR 0.19 [CI 0.05-0.76] P = 0.02) after adjustment for Gleason score, age, and PSA. Nonspecific HIF1α inhibitors appear to increase the progression-free survival and reduce the risk of developing CRPC and metastases in patients on continuous ADT.
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    Protective effect of zinc preconditioning against renal ischemia reperfusion injury is dose dependent
    Rao, K ; Sethi, K ; Ischia, J ; Gibson, L ; Galea, L ; Xiao, L ; Yim, M ; Chang, M ; Papa, N ; Bolton, D ; Shulkes, A ; Baldwin, GS ; Patel, O ; Mariat, C (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-07-07)
    OBJECTIVES: Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) is a major cause of acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. Two promising preconditioning methods for the kidney, intermittent arterial clamping (IC) and treatment with the hypoxia mimetic cobalt chloride, have never been directly compared. Furthermore, the protective efficacy of the chemically related transition metal Zn2+ against renal IRI is unclear. Although Co2+ ions have been shown to protect the kidney via hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), the effect of Zn2+ ions on the induction of HIF1α, HIF2α and HIF3α has not been investigated previously. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The efficacy of different preconditioning techniques was assessed using a Sprague-Dawley rat model of renal IRI. Induction of HIF proteins following Zn2+ treatment of the human kidney cell lines HK-2 (immortalized normal tubular cells) and ACHN (renal cancer) was measured using Western Blot. RESULTS: Following 40 minutes of renal ischemia in rats, cobalt preconditioning offered greater protection against renal IRI than IC as evidenced by lower peak serum creatinine and urea concentrations. ZnCl2 (10 mg/kg) significantly lowered the creatinine and urea concentrations compared to saline-treated control rats following a clinically relevant 60 minutes of ischemia. Zn2+ induced expression of HIF1α and HIF2α but not HIF3α in HK-2 and ACHN cells. CONCLUSION: ZnCl2 preconditioning protects against renal IRI in a dose-dependent manner. Further studies are warranted to determine the possible mechanisms involved, and to assess the benefit of ZnCl2 preconditioning for clinical applications.