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Clostridioides (formerly Clostridium) difficile is a Gram-positive, spore-forming anaerobe and a leading cause of hospital-acquired infection and gastroenteritis-associated death in US hospitals. The disease state is usually preceded by disruption of the host microbiome in response to antibiotic treatment and is characterized by mild to severe diarrhoea. C. difficile infection is dependent on the secretion of one or more AB-type toxins: toxin A (TcdA), toxin B (TcdB) and the C. difficile transferase toxin (CDT). Whereas TcdA and TcdB are considered the primary virulence factors, recent studies suggest that CDT increases the severity of C. difficile infection in some of the most problematic clinical strains. To better understand how CDT functions, we used cryo-electron microscopy to define the structure of CDTb, the cell-binding component of CDT. We obtained structures of several oligomeric forms that highlight the conformational changes that enable conversion from a prepore to a β-barrel pore. The structural analysis also reveals a glycan-binding domain and residues involved in binding the host-cell receptor, lipolysis-stimulated lipoprotein receptor. Together, these results provide a framework to understand how CDT functions at the host cell interface.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has increased in Western countries due to the prevalence of obesity. Current interests are aimed at identifying the type and function of immune cells that infiltrate the liver and key factors responsible for mediating their recruitment and activation in NASH. We investigated the function and phenotype of CD8 T cells under obese and nonobese NASH conditions. We found an elevation in CD8 staining in livers from obese human subjects with NASH and cirrhosis that positively correlated with α-smooth muscle actin, a marker of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation. CD8 T cells were elevated 3.5-fold in the livers of obese and hyperlipidemic NASH mice compared with obese hepatic steatosis mice. Isolated hepatic CD8 T cells from these mice expressed a cytotoxic IL-10-expressing phenotype, and depletion of CD8 T cells led to significant reductions in hepatic inflammation, HSC activation, and macrophage accumulation. Furthermore, hepatic CD8 T cells from obese and hyperlipidemic NASH mice activated HSCs in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, in the lean NASH mouse model, depletion and knockdown of CD8 T cells did not impact liver inflammation or HSC activation. We demonstrated that under obese/hyperlipidemia conditions, CD8 T cell are key regulators of the progression of NASH, while under nonobese conditions they play a minimal role in driving the disease. Thus, therapies targeting CD8 T cells may be a novel approach for treatment of obesity-associated NASH. Our study demonstrates that CD8 T cells are the primary hepatic T cell population, are elevated in obese models of NASH, and directly activate hepatic stellate cells. In contrast, we find CD8 T cells from lean NASH models do not regulate NASH-associated inflammation or stellate cell activation. Thus, for the first time to our knowledge, we demonstrate that hepatic CD8 T cells are key players in obesity-associated NASH.
Obesity increases the risk for cardiometabolic diseases. N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamines (NAPEs) are precursors of N-acylethanolamides, which are endogenous lipid satiety factors. Incorporating engineered bacteria expressing NAPEs into the gut microbiota retards development of diet induced obesity in wild-type mice. Because NAPEs can also exert anti-inflammatory effects, we hypothesized that administering NAPE-expressing bacteria to low-density lipoprotein receptor (Ldlr) mice fed a Western diet would improve various indices of cardiometabolic disease manifested by these mice. NAPE-expressing E. coli Nissle 1917 (pNAPE-EcN), control Nissle 1917 (pEcN), or vehicle (veh) were given via drinking water to Ldlr mice for 12 weeks. Compared to pEcN or veh treatment, pNAPE-EcN significantly reduced body weight and adiposity, hepatic triglycerides, fatty acid synthesis genes, and increased expression of fatty acid oxidation genes. pNAPE-EcN also significantly reduced markers for hepatic inflammation and early signs of fibrotic development. Serum cholesterol was reduced with pNAPE-EcN, but atherosclerotic lesion size showed only a non-significant trend for reduction. However, pNAPE-EcN treatment reduced lesion necrosis by 69% indicating an effect on preventing macrophage inflammatory death. Our results suggest that incorporation of NAPE expressing bacteria into the gut microbiota can potentially serve as an adjuvant therapy to retard development of cardiometabolic disease.
RATIONALE - Atherosclerosis is, in part, caused by immune and inflammatory cell infiltration into the vascular wall, leading to enhanced inflammation and lipid accumulation in the aortic endothelium. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying this disease is critical for the development of new therapies. Our recent studies demonstrate that epsins, a family of ubiquitin-binding endocytic adaptors, are critical regulators of atherogenicity. Given the fundamental contribution lesion macrophages make to fuel atherosclerosis, whether and how myeloid-specific epsins promote atherogenesis is an open and significant question.
OBJECTIVE - We will determine the role of myeloid-specific epsins in regulating lesion macrophage function during atherosclerosis.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We engineered myeloid cell-specific epsins double knockout mice (LysM-DKO) on an ApoE background. On Western diet, these mice exhibited marked decrease in atherosclerotic lesion formation, diminished immune and inflammatory cell content in aortas, and reduced necrotic core content but increased smooth muscle cell content in aortic root sections. Epsins deficiency hindered foam cell formation and suppressed proinflammatory macrophage phenotype but increased efferocytosis and anti-inflammatory macrophage phenotype in primary macrophages. Mechanistically, we show that epsin loss specifically increased total and surface levels of LRP-1 (LDLR [low-density lipoprotein receptor]-related protein 1), an efferocytosis receptor with antiatherosclerotic properties. We further show that epsin and LRP-1 interact via epsin's ubiquitin-interacting motif domain. ox-LDL (oxidized LDL) treatment increased LRP-1 ubiquitination, subsequent binding to epsin, and its internalization from the cell surface, suggesting that epsins promote the ubiquitin-dependent internalization and downregulation of LRP-1. Crossing ApoE/LysM-DKO mice onto an LRP-1 heterozygous background restored, in part, atherosclerosis, suggesting that epsin-mediated LRP-1 downregulation in macrophages plays a pivotal role in propelling atherogenesis.
CONCLUSIONS - Myeloid epsins promote atherogenesis by facilitating proinflammatory macrophage recruitment and inhibiting efferocytosis in part by downregulating LRP-1, implicating that targeting epsins in macrophages may serve as a novel therapeutic strategy to treat atherosclerosis.
Objective- Macrophages express 3 Akt (protein kinase B) isoforms, Akt1, Akt2, and Akt3, which display isoform-specific functions but may be redundant in terms of Akt survival signaling. We hypothesize that loss of 2 Akt isoforms in macrophages will suppress their ability to survive and modulate the development of atherosclerosis. Approach and Results- To test this hypothesis, we reconstituted male Ldlr mice with double Akt2/Akt3 knockout hematopoietic cells expressing only the Akt1 isoform (Akt1). There were no differences in body weight and plasma lipid levels between the groups after 8 weeks of the Western diet; however, Akt1→ Ldlr mice developed smaller (57.6% reduction) atherosclerotic lesions with more apoptotic macrophages than control mice transplanted with WT (wild type) cells. Next, male and female Ldlr mice were reconstituted with double Akt1/Akt2 knockout hematopoietic cells expressing the Akt3 isoform (Akt3). Female and male Akt3→ Ldlr recipients had significantly smaller (61% and 41%, respectively) lesions than the control WT→ Ldlr mice. Loss of 2 Akt isoforms in hematopoietic cells resulted in markedly diminished levels of white blood cells, B cells, and monocytes and compromised viability of monocytes and peritoneal macrophages compared with WT cells. In response to lipopolysaccharides, macrophages with a single Akt isoform expressed low levels of inflammatory cytokines; however, Akt1 macrophages were distinct in expressing high levels of antiapoptotic Il10 compared with WT and Akt3 cells. Conclusions- Loss of 2 Akt isoforms in hematopoietic cells, preserving only a single Akt1 or Akt3 isoform, markedly compromises monocyte and macrophage viability and diminishes early atherosclerosis in Ldlr mice.
Although awareness of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is increasing, this common, potentially fatal, treatable condition remains underdiagnosed. Despite FH being a genetic disorder, genetic testing is rarely used. The Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation convened an international expert panel to assess the utility of FH genetic testing. The rationale includes the following: 1) facilitation of definitive diagnosis; 2) pathogenic variants indicate higher cardiovascular risk, which indicates the potential need for more aggressive lipid lowering; 3) increase in initiation of and adherence to therapy; and 4) cascade testing of at-risk relatives. The Expert Consensus Panel recommends that FH genetic testing become the standard of care for patients with definite or probable FH, as well as for their at-risk relatives. Testing should include the genes encoding the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), apolipoprotein B (APOB), and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 (PCSK9); other genes may also need to be considered for analysis based on patient phenotype. Expected outcomes include greater diagnoses, more effective cascade testing, initiation of therapies at earlier ages, and more accurate risk stratification.
Copyright © 2018 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - We previously showed that mice lacking MΦLRP1 (low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 in macrophages) undergo accelerated atherosclerotic plaque formation due to changes in macrophages including increased apoptosis, decreased efferocytosis, and exaggerated transition to the inflammatory M1 phenotype. Here we sought to explore the role of macrophage low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 during regression of atherosclerosis since regressing plaques are characterized by transitioning of macrophages to M2 status as inflammation resolves.
METHODS - Apolipoprotein E mice on a high-fat diet for 12 weeks were reconstituted with bone marrow from apolipoprotein E-producing wild-type or MΦLRP1 mice, and then placed on a chow diet for 10 weeks (n=9 to 11 mice/group). A cohort of apolipoprotein E mice reconstituted with apolipoprotein E bone marrow served as baseline controls (n=9).
RESULTS - Plaques of both wild-type and MΦLRP1 bone marrow recipients regressed compared with controls (11% and 22%, respectively; P<0.05), and plaques of MΦLRP1 recipients were 13% smaller than those of wild-type recipients ( P<0.05). Recipients of MΦLRP1 marrow had 36% fewer M1 macrophages ( P<0.01) and 2.5-fold more CCR7 (C-C chemokine receptor type 7)-positive macrophages in the plaque relative to wild-type mice ( P<0.01). Additionally, in vivo studies of cellular egress showed a 4.6-fold increase in 5-ethynyl-2´-deoxyuridine-labeled CCR7 macrophages in mediastinal lymph nodes. Finally, in vivo studies of reverse cholesterol transport showed a 1.4-fold higher reverse cholesterol transport in MΦLRP1 recipient mice ( P<0.01).
CONCLUSIONS - Absence of macrophage low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 unexpectedly accelerates atherosclerosis regression, enhances reverse cholesterol transport, and increases expression of the motility receptor CCR7, which drives macrophage egress from lesions.
Background - Rictor is an essential component of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 (mTORC2), a conserved serine/threonine kinase that may play a role in cell proliferation, survival and innate or adaptive immune responses. Genetic loss of inactivates mTORC2, which directly activates Akt S phosphorylation and promotes pro-survival cell signaling and proliferation.
Methods and results - To study the role of mTORC2 signaling in monocytes and macrophages, we generated mice with myeloid lineage-specific deletion (M). These M mice exhibited dramatic reductions of white blood cells, B-cells, T-cells, and monocytes but had similar levels of neutrophils compared to control flox-flox () mice. M bone marrow monocytes and peritoneal macrophages expressed reduced levels of mTORC2 signaling and decreased Akt S phosphorylation, and they displayed significantly less proliferation than control cells. In addition, blood monocytes and peritoneal macrophages isolated from M mice were significantly more sensitive to pro-apoptotic stimuli. In response to LPS, M macrophages exhibited the M1 phenotype with higher levels of pro-inflammatory gene expression and lower levels of gene expression than control cells. Further suppression of LPS-stimulated Akt signaling with a low dose of an Akt inhibitor, increased inflammatory gene expression in macrophages, but genetic inactivation of reversed this rise, indicating that mTORC1 mediates this increase of inflammatory gene expression. Next, to elucidate whether mTORC2 has an impact on atherosclerosis , female and male null mice were reconstituted with bone marrow from M or mice. After 10 weeks of the Western diet, there were no differences between the recipients of the same gender in body weight, blood glucose or plasma lipid levels. However, both female and male M → mice developed smaller atherosclerotic lesions in the distal and proximal aorta. These lesions contained less macrophage area and more apoptosis than lesions of control → mice. Thus, loss of and, consequently, mTORC2 significantly compromised monocyte/macrophage survival, and this markedly diminished early atherosclerosis in mice.
Conclusion - Our results demonstrate that mTORC2 is a key signaling regulator of macrophage survival and its depletion suppresses early atherosclerosis.
BACKGROUND - Numerous epidemiological studies support an inverse association between serum bilirubin levels and the incidence of cardiovascular disease; however, the mechanism(s) by which bilirubin may protect against atherosclerosis is undefined. The goals of the present investigations were to assess the ability of bilirubin to prevent atherosclerotic plaque formation in low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient ( ) mice and elucidate the molecular processes underlying this effect.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Bilirubin, at physiological concentrations (≤20 μmol/L), dose-dependently inhibits THP-1 monocyte migration across tumor necrosis factor α-activated human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayers without altering leukocyte binding or cytokine production. A potent antioxidant, bilirubin effectively blocks the generation of cellular reactive oxygen species induced by the cross-linking of endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) or intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1). These findings were validated by treating cells with blocking antibodies or with specific inhibitors of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 signaling. When administered to mice on a Western diet, bilirubin (30 mg/kg intraperitoneally) prevents atherosclerotic plaque formation, but does not alter circulating cholesterol or chemokine levels. Aortic roots from bilirubin-treated animals exhibit reduced lipid and collagen deposition, decreased infiltration of monocytes and lymphocytes, fewer smooth muscle cells, and diminished levels of chlorotyrosine and nitrotyrosine, without changes in VCAM-1 or ICAM-1 expression.
CONCLUSIONS - Bilirubin suppresses atherosclerotic plaque formation in mice by disrupting endothelial VCAM-1- and ICAM-1-mediated leukocyte migration through the scavenging of reactive oxygen species signaling intermediaries. These findings suggest a potential mechanism for the apparent cardioprotective effects of bilirubin.
© 2017 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley Blackwell.
OBJECTIVE - Antiatherosclerotic effects of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) blockade in patients with systemic inflammatory states are not conclusively demonstrated, which suggests that effects depend on the cause of inflammation. Macrophage LRP1 (low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1) and apoE contribute to inflammation through different pathways. We studied the antiatherosclerosis effects of TNF-α blockade in hyperlipidemic mice lacking either LRP1 (MΦLRP1(-/-)) or apoE from macrophages.
APPROACH AND RESULTS - Lethally irradiated low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)(-/-) mice were reconstituted with bone marrow from either wild-type, MΦLRP1(-/-), apoE(-/-) or apoE(-/-)/MΦLRP1(-/-)(DKO) mice, and then treated with the TNF-α inhibitor adalimumab while fed a Western-type diet. Adalimumab reduced plasma TNF-α concentration, suppressed blood ly6C(hi) monocyte levels and their migration into the lesion, and reduced lesion cellularity and inflammation in both wild-type→LDLR(-/-) and apoE(-/-)→LDLR(-/-) mice. Overall, adalimumab reduced lesion burden by 52% to 57% in these mice. Adalimumab reduced TNF-α and blood ly6C(hi) monocyte levels in MΦLRP1(-/-)→LDLR(-/-) and DKO→LDLR(-/-) mice, but it did not suppress ly6C(hi) monocyte migration into the lesion or atherosclerosis progression.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results show that TNF-α blockade exerts antiatherosclerotic effects that are dependent on the presence of macrophage LRP1.
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.