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A cell therapy platform permitting long-term delivery of peptide hormones in vivo would be a significant advance for patients with hormonal deficiencies. Here we report the utility of antigen-specific T lymphocytes as a regulatable peptide delivery platform for in vivo therapy. piggyBac transposon modification of murine cells with luciferase allows us to visualize T cells after adoptive transfer. Vaccination stimulates long-term T-cell engraftment, persistence, and transgene expression enabling detection of modified cells up to 300 days after adoptive transfer. We demonstrate adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells expressing erythropoietin (EPO) elevating the hematocrit in mice for more than 20 weeks. We extend our observations to human T cells demonstrating inducible EPO production from Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigen-specific T lymphocytes. Our results reveal antigen-specific T lymphocytes to be an effective delivery platform for therapeutic molecules such as EPO in vivo, with important implications for other diseases that require peptide therapy.
Hypoxia is a common clinical problem that has profound effects on renal homeostasis. Prolyl-4-hydroxylases PHD1, 2 and 3 function as oxygen sensors and control the activity of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), an oxygen-sensitive transcription factor that regulates a multitude of hypoxia responses, which help cells and tissues to adapt to low oxygen environments. This review provides an overview of the molecular mechanisms that govern these hypoxia responses and discusses clinical experience with compounds that inhibit prolyl-4-hydroxylases to harness HIF responses for therapy in nephrology.
Copyright © 2017 Société francophone de néphrologie, dialyse et transplantation. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
A classic response to systemic hypoxia is the increase in red blood cell production. This response is controlled by the prolyl hydroxylase domain/hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway, which regulates a broad spectrum of cellular functions. The discovery of this pathway as a key regulator of erythropoiesis has led to the development of small molecules that stimulate the production of endogenous erythropoietin and enhance iron metabolism. This review provides a concise overview of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern HIF-induced erythropoietic responses and provides an update on clinical experience with compounds that target HIF-prolyl hydroxylases for anemia therapy.
© 2017 International Society for Hemodialysis.
Methods enabling kidney-specific gene transfer in adult mice are needed to develop new therapies for kidney disease. We attempted kidney-specific gene transfer following hydrodynamic tail vein injection using the kidney-specific podocin and gamma-glutamyl transferase promoters, but found expression primarily in the liver. In order to achieve kidney-specific transgene expression, we tested direct hydrodynamic injection of a DNA solution into the renal pelvis and found that luciferase expression was strong in the kidney and absent from extra-renal tissues. We observed heterogeneous, low-level transfection of the collecting duct, proximal tubule, distal tubule, interstitial cells, and rarely glomerular cells following injection. To assess renal injury, we performed the renal pelvis injections on uninephrectomised mice and found that their blood urea nitrogen was elevated at two days post-transfer but resolved within two weeks. Although luciferase expression quickly decreased following renal pelvis injection, the use of the piggyBac transposon system improved long-term expression. Immunosuppression with cyclophosphamide stabilised luciferase expression, suggesting immune clearance of the transfected cells occurs in immunocompetent animals. Injection of a transposon expressing erythropoietin raised the haematocrit, indicating that the developed injection technique can elicit a biologic effect in vivo. Hydrodynamic renal pelvis injection enables transposon mediated-kidney specific gene transfer in adult mice.
A classic response to systemic hypoxia is the increased production of red blood cells due to hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-mediated induction of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a glycoprotein hormone that is essential for normal erythropoiesis and is predominantly synthesized by peritubular renal interstitial fibroblast-like cells, which express cellular markers characteristic of neuronal cells and pericytes. To investigate whether the ability to synthesize EPO is a general functional feature of pericytes, we used conditional gene targeting to examine the von Hippel-Lindau/prolyl-4-hydroxylase domain (PHD)/HIF axis in cell-expressing neural glial antigen 2, a known molecular marker of pericytes in multiple organs. We found that pericytes in the brain synthesized EPO in mice with genetic HIF activation and were capable of responding to systemic hypoxia with the induction of Epo. Using high-resolution multiplex in situ hybridization, we determined that brain pericytes represent an important cellular source of Epo in the hypoxic brain (up to 70% of all Epo-expressing cells). We furthermore determined that Epo transcription in brain pericytes was HIF-2 dependent and cocontrolled by PHD2 and PHD3, oxygen- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent prolyl-4-hydroxylases that regulate HIF activity. In summary, our studies provide experimental evidence that pericytes in the brain have the ability to function as oxygen sensors and respond to hypoxia with EPO synthesis. Our findings furthermore suggest that the ability to synthesize EPO may represent a functional feature of pericytes in the brain and kidney.
Numerous compounds stimulate rodent β-cell proliferation; however, translating these findings to human β-cells remains a challenge. To examine human β-cell proliferation in response to such compounds, we developed a medium-throughput in vitro method of quantifying adult human β-cell proliferation markers. This method is based on high-content imaging of dispersed islet cells seeded in 384-well plates and automated cell counting that identifies fluorescently labeled β-cells with high specificity using both nuclear and cytoplasmic markers. β-Cells from each donor were assessed for their function and ability to enter the cell cycle by cotransduction with adenoviruses encoding cell cycle regulators cdk6 and cyclin D3. Using this approach, we tested 12 previously identified mitogens, including neurotransmitters, hormones, growth factors, and molecules, involved in adenosine and Tgf-1β signaling. Each compound was tested in a wide concentration range either in the presence of basal (5 mM) or high (11 mM) glucose. Treatment with the control compound harmine, a Dyrk1a inhibitor, led to a significant increase in Ki-67 β-cells, whereas treatment with other compounds had limited to no effect on human β-cell proliferation. This new scalable approach reduces the time and effort required for sensitive and specific evaluation of human β-cell proliferation, thus allowing for increased testing of candidate human β-cell mitogens.
PURPOSE - To test the efficacy of systemic gene delivery of a mutant form of erythropoietin (EPO-R76E) that has attenuated erythropoietic activity, in a mouse model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa.
METHODS - Ten-day old mice carrying one copy of human rhodopsin with the P23H mutation and both copies of wild-type mouse rhodopsin (hP23H RHO+/-,mRHO+/+) were injected into the quadriceps with recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) carrying either enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or EpoR76E. Visual function (electroretinogram) and retina structure (optical coherence tomography, histology, and immunohistochemistry) were assessed at 7 and 12 months of age.
RESULTS - The outer nuclear layer thickness decreased over time at a slower rate in rAAV.EpoR76E treated as compared to the rAAV.eGFP injected mice. There was a statistically significant preservation of the electroretinogram at 7, but not 12 months of age.
CONCLUSIONS - Systemic EPO-R76E slows death of the photoreceptors and vision loss in hP23H RHO+/-,mRHO+/+ mice. Treatment with EPO-R76E may widen the therapeutic window for retinal degeneration patients by increasing the number of viable cells. Future studies might investigate if co-treatment with EPO-R76E and gene replacement therapy is more effective than gene replacement therapy alone.
PURPOSE - Erythropoietin (EPO) is a promising neuroprotective agent and is currently in Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of traumatic brain injury. The goal of this study was to determine if EPO is also protective in traumatic eye injury.
METHODS - The left eyes of anesthetized DBA/2J or Balb/c mice were exposed to a single 26 psi overpressure air-wave while the rest of the body was shielded. DBA/2J mice were given intraperitoneal injections of EPO or buffer and analyses were performed at 3 or 7 days post-blast. Balb/c mice were given intramuscular injections of rAAV.EpoR76E or rAAV.eGFP either pre- or post-blast and analyses were performed at 1 month post-blast.
RESULTS - EPO had a bimodal effect on cell death, glial reactivity, and oxidative stress. All measures were increased at 3 days post-blast and decreased at 7-days post-blast. Increased retinal ferritin and NADPH oxygenases were detected in retinas from EPO-treated mice. The gene therapy approach protected against axon degeneration, cell death, and oxidative stress when given after blast, but not before.
CONCLUSIONS - Systemic, exogenous EPO and EPO-R76E protects the retina after trauma even when initiation of treatment is delayed by up to 3 weeks. Systemic treatment with EPO or EPO-R76E beginning before or soon after trauma may exacerbate protective effects of EPO within the retina as a result of increased iron levels from erythropoiesis and, thus, increased oxidative stress within the retina. This is likely overcome with time as a result of an increase in levels of antioxidant enzymes. Either intraocular delivery of EPO or treatment with non-erythropoietic forms of EPO may be more efficacious.
Renal peritubular interstitial fibroblast-like cells are critical for adult erythropoiesis, as they are the main source of erythropoietin (EPO). Hypoxia-inducible factor 2 (HIF-2) controls EPO synthesis in the kidney and liver and is regulated by prolyl-4-hydroxylase domain (PHD) dioxygenases PHD1, PHD2, and PHD3, which function as cellular oxygen sensors. Renal interstitial cells with EPO-producing capacity are poorly characterized, and the role of the PHD/HIF-2 axis in renal EPO-producing cell (REPC) plasticity is unclear. Here we targeted the PHD/HIF-2/EPO axis in FOXD1 stroma-derived renal interstitial cells and examined the role of individual PHDs in REPC pool size regulation and renal EPO output. Renal interstitial cells with EPO-producing capacity were entirely derived from FOXD1-expressing stroma, and Phd2 inactivation alone induced renal Epo in a limited number of renal interstitial cells. EPO induction was submaximal, as hypoxia or pharmacologic PHD inhibition further increased the REPC fraction among Phd2-/- renal interstitial cells. Moreover, Phd1 and Phd3 were differentially expressed in renal interstitium, and heterozygous deficiency for Phd1 and Phd3 increased REPC numbers in Phd2-/- mice. We propose that FOXD1 lineage renal interstitial cells consist of distinct subpopulations that differ in their responsiveness to Phd2 inactivation and thus regulation of HIF-2 activity and EPO production under hypoxia or conditions of pharmacologic or genetic PHD inactivation.
The adult kidney plays a central role in erythropoiesis and is the main source of erythropoietin (EPO), an oxygen-sensitive glycoprotein that is essential for red blood cell production. Decreases of renal pO2 promote hypoxia-inducible factor 2-mediated (HIF-2-mediated) induction of EPO in peritubular interstitial fibroblast-like cells, which serve as the cellular site of EPO synthesis in the kidney. It is not clear whether HIF signaling in other renal cell types also contributes to the regulation of EPO production. Here, we used a genetic approach in mice to investigate the role of renal epithelial HIF in erythropoiesis. Specifically, we found that HIF activation in the proximal nephron via induced inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor, which targets the HIF-α subunit for proteasomal degradation, led to rapid development of hypoproliferative anemia that was associated with a reduction in the number of EPO-producing renal interstitial cells. Moreover, suppression of renal EPO production was associated with increased glucose uptake, enhanced glycolysis, reduced mitochondrial mass, diminished O2 consumption, and elevated renal tissue pO2. Our genetic analysis suggests that tubulointerstitial cellular crosstalk modulates renal EPO production under conditions of epithelial HIF activation in the kidney.