Despite the prevalence of viral infections in the American population, we still have a limited understanding of how they affect pregnancy and fetal development. Viruses can gain access to the decidua and placenta by ascending from the lower reproductive tract or via hematogenous transmission. Viral tropism for the decidua and placenta is then dependent on viral entry receptor expression in these tissues as well as on the maternal immune response to the virus. These factors vary by cell type and gestational age and can be affected by changes to the in utero environment and maternal immunity. Some viruses can directly infect the fetus at specific times during gestation, while some only infect the placenta. Both scenarios can result in severe birth defects or pregnancy loss. Systemic maternal viral infections can also affect the pregnancy, and these can be especially dangerous, because pregnant women suffer higher virus-associated morbidity and mortality than do nonpregnant counterparts. In this Review, we discuss the potential contributions of maternal, placental, and fetal viral infection to pregnancy outcome, fetal development, and maternal well-being.
Karen Racicot, Gil Mor
The cardiac extracellular matrix (ECM) not only provides mechanical support, but also transduces essential molecular signals in health and disease. Following myocardial infarction, dynamic ECM changes drive inflammation and repair. Early generation of bioactive matrix fragments activates proinflammatory signaling. The formation of a highly plastic provisional matrix facilitates leukocyte infiltration and activates infarct myofibroblasts. Deposition of matricellular proteins modulates growth factor signaling and contributes to the spatial and temporal regulation of the reparative response. Mechanical stress due to pressure and volume overload and metabolic dysfunction also induce profound changes in ECM composition that contribute to the pathogenesis of heart failure. This manuscript reviews the role of the ECM in cardiac repair and remodeling and discusses matrix-based therapies that may attenuate remodeling while promoting repair and regeneration.
Nikolaos G. Frangogiannis
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a reemerging arbovirus, causes a crippling musculoskeletal inflammatory disease in humans characterized by fever, polyarthralgia, myalgia, rash, and headache. CHIKV is transmitted by
Laurie A. Silva, Terence S. Dermody
Many RNA species have been identified as important players in the development of chronic diseases, including cancer. Over the past decade, numerous studies have highlighted how regulatory RNAs such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play crucial roles in the development of a disease state. It is clear that the aberrant expression of miRNAs promotes tumor initiation and progression, is linked with cardiac dysfunction, allows for the improper physiological response in maintaining glucose and insulin levels, and can prevent the appropriate integration of neuronal networks, resulting in neurodegenerative disorders. Because of this, there has been a major effort to therapeutically target these noncoding RNAs. In just the past 5 years, over 100 antisense oligonucleotide–based therapies have been tested in phase I clinical trials, a quarter of which have reached phase II/III. Most notable are fomivirsen and mipomersen, which have received FDA approval to treat cytomegalovirus retinitis and high blood cholesterol, respectively. The continued improvement of innovative RNA modifications and delivery entities, such as nanoparticles, will aid in the development of future RNA-based therapeutics for a broader range of chronic diseases. Here we summarize the latest promises and challenges of targeting noncoding RNAs in disease.
Brian D. Adams, Christine Parsons, Lisa Walker, Wen Cai Zhang, Frank J. Slack
In addition to being a component of innate immunity and an ancient defense mechanism against invading pathogens, complement activation also participates in the adaptive immune response, inflammation, hemostasis, embryogenesis, and organ repair and development. Activation of the complement system via classical, lectin, or alternative pathways generates anaphylatoxins (C3a and C5a) and membrane attack complex (C5b-9) and opsonizes targeted cells. Complement activation end products and their receptors mediate cell-cell interactions that regulate several biological functions in the extravascular tissue. Signaling of anaphylatoxin receptors or assembly of membrane attack complex promotes cell dedifferentiation, proliferation, and migration in addition to reducing apoptosis. As a result, complement activation in the tumor microenvironment enhances tumor growth and increases metastasis. In this Review, I discuss immune and nonimmune functions of complement proteins and the tumor-promoting effect of complement activation.
Hemolysis is a fundamental feature of sickle cell anemia that contributes to its pathophysiology and phenotypic variability. Decompartmentalized hemoglobin, arginase 1, asymmetric dimethylarginine, and adenine nucleotides are all products of hemolysis that promote vasomotor dysfunction, proliferative vasculopathy, and a multitude of clinical complications of pulmonary and systemic vasculopathy, including pulmonary hypertension, leg ulcers, priapism, chronic kidney disease, and large-artery ischemic stroke. Nitric oxide (NO) is inactivated by cell-free hemoglobin in a dioxygenation reaction that also oxidizes hemoglobin to methemoglobin, a non–oxygen-binding form of hemoglobin that readily loses heme. Circulating hemoglobin and heme represent erythrocytic danger-associated molecular pattern (eDAMP) molecules, which activate the innate immune system and endothelium to an inflammatory, proadhesive state that promotes sickle vaso-occlusion and acute lung injury in murine models of sickle cell disease. Intravascular hemolysis can impair NO bioavailability and cause oxidative stress, altering redox balance and amplifying physiological processes that govern blood flow, hemostasis, inflammation, and angiogenesis. These pathological responses promote regional vasoconstriction and subsequent blood vessel remodeling. Thus, intravascular hemolysis represents an intrinsic mechanism for human vascular disease that manifests clinical complications in sickle cell disease and other chronic hereditary or acquired hemolytic anemias.
Gregory J. Kato, Martin H. Steinberg, Mark T. Gladwin
Regulatory B cells (Bregs) modulate immune responses predominantly, although not exclusively, via the release of IL-10. The importance of human Bregs in the maintenance of immune homeostasis comes from a variety of immune-related pathologies, such as autoimmune diseases, cancers, and chronic infections that are often associated with abnormalities in Breg numbers or function. A continuous effort toward understanding Breg biology in healthy individuals will provide new opportunities to develop Breg immunotherapy that could prove beneficial in treating various immune-mediated pathologies. In this Review, we discuss findings regarding human Bregs, including their mechanisms of suppression and role in different disease settings. We also propose several therapeutic strategies targeting Bregs for better management of immune disorders.
Claudia Mauri, Madhvi Menon
Heart failure is a major source of morbidity and mortality. Replacing lost myocardium with new tissue is a major goal of regenerative medicine. Unlike adult mammals, zebrafish and neonatal mice are capable of heart regeneration following cardiac injury. In both contexts, the regenerative program echoes molecular and cellular events that occur during cardiac development and morphogenesis, notably muscle creation through division of cardiomyocytes. Based on studies over the past decade, it is now accepted that the adult mammalian heart undergoes a low grade of cardiomyocyte turnover. Recent data suggest that this cardiomyocyte turnover can be augmented in the adult mammalian heart by redeployment of developmental factors. These findings and others suggest that stimulating endogenous regenerative responses can emerge as a therapeutic strategy for human cardiovascular disease.
Ravi Karra, Kenneth D. Poss
Circadian rhythms play an influential role in nearly all aspects of physiology and behavior in the vast majority of species on Earth. The biological clockwork that regulates these rhythms is dynamic over the lifespan: rhythmic activities such as sleep/wake patterns change markedly as we age, and in many cases they become increasingly fragmented. Given that prolonged disruptions of normal rhythms are highly detrimental to health, deeper knowledge of how our biological clocks change with age may create valuable opportunities to improve health and longevity for an aging global population. In this Review, we synthesize key findings from the study of circadian rhythms in later life, identify patterns of change documented to date, and review potential physiological mechanisms that may underlie these changes.
Suzanne Hood, Shimon Amir
Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal primary malignant brain tumor in adults. Patients die from recurrent tumors that have become resistant to therapy. New strategies are needed to design future therapies that target resistant cells. Recent genomic studies have unveiled the complexity of tumor heterogeneity in glioblastoma and provide new insights into the genomic landscape of tumor cells that survive and initiate tumor recurrence. Resistant cells also co-opt developmental pathways and display stem-like properties; hence we propose to name them recurrence-initiating stem-like cancer (RISC) cells. Genetic alterations and genomic reprogramming underlie the innate and adaptive resistance of RISC cells, and both need to be targeted to prevent glioblastoma recurrence.
Satoru Osuka, Erwin G. Van Meir
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