Lon protease: a novel mitochondrial matrix protein in the interconnection between drug-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum stress.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs) are specific endoplasmic reticulum (ER) domains that enable it to interact directly with mitochondria and mediate metabolic flow and Ca2+ transfer. A growing list of proteins have been identified as MAMs components, but how they are recruited and function during complex cell stress situations is still not understood, while the participation of mitochondrial matrix proteins is largely unrecognized.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: This work compares mitochondrial/ER contact during combined ER stress/mitochondrial dysfunction using a model of human hepatoma cells (Hep3B cell line) treated for 24 h with classic pharmacological inducers of ER stress (thapsigargin), mitochondrial dysfunction (carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone or rotenone) or both (the antiretroviral drug efavirenz used at clinically relevant concentrations).
KEY RESULTS: Markers of mitochondrial dynamics (dynamin-related protein 1, optic atrophy 1 and mitofusin 2) were expressed differently with these stimuli, pointing to a specificity of combined ER/mitochondrial stress. Lon, a matrix protease involved in protein and mtDNA quality control, was up-regulated at mRNA and protein levels under all conditions. However, only efavirenz decreased the mitochondrial content of Lon while increasing its extramitochondrial presence and its localization to MAMs. This latter effect resulted in an enhanced mitochondria/ER interaction, as shown by co-immunoprecipitation experiments of MAMs protein partners and confocal microscopy imaging.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: A specific dual drug-induced mitochondria-ER effect enhances the MAMs content of Lon and its extramitochondrial expression. This is the first report of this phenomenon and suggests a novel MAMs-linked function of Lon protease.
Efavirenz: What is known about the cellular mechanisms responsible for its adverse effects.
The HIV infection remains an important health problem worldwide. However, due to the efficacy of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), it has ceased to be a mortal condition, becoming a chronic disease instead. Efavirenz, the most prescribed non-nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), has been a key component of cART since its commercialization in 1998. Though still a drug of choice in many countries, its primacy has been challenged by the arrival of newer antiretroviral agents with better toxicity profiles and treatment adherence. The major side effects related to EFV have been widely described in clinical studies, however the mechanisms that participate in their pathogenesis remain largely ununderstood. This review provides an insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of the most significant undesired effects induced by efavirenz, both short- and long-term, revealed by in vitro and in vivo experimental pharmacological research. Growing evidence implicates the drug in energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, and other cellular processes involved in stress responses including oxidative stress, inflammation and autophagy.
Metabolic syndrome enhances endoplasmic reticulum, oxidative stress and leukocyte-endothelium interactions in PCOS.
OBJECTIVE: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with insulin resistance, which can lead to metabolic syndrome (MetS). Oxidative stress and leukocyte-endothelium interactions are related to PCOS. Our aim was to evaluate whether the presence of MetS in PCOS patients can influence endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and oxidative stress and leukocyte-endothelium interactions.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: This was a prospective controlled study conducted in an academic medical center. The study population consisted of 148 PCOS women (116 without/32 with MetS) and 112 control subjects (87 without / 25 with MetS). Metabolic parameters, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, ER stress markers (GRP78, sXBP1, ATF6), leukocyte-endothelium interactions, adhesion molecules (VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-Selectin), TNF-α and IL-6 were determined.
RESULTS: Total ROS, inflammatory parameters and adhesion molecules were enhanced in the presence of MetS (p<0.05), and the PCOS+MetS group showed higher levels of IL-6 and ICAM-1 than controls (p<0.05). Increased adhesion and leukocyte rolling flux were observed in PCOS and PCOS+MetS groups vs their respective controls (p<0.05). GRP78 protein expression was higher in the PCOS groups (p CONCLUSION: Our findings support the hypothesis of an association between altered metabolic status, increased ROS production, ER stress and leukocyte-endothelium interactions in PCOS, all of which are related to vascular complications.
Cardiovascular toxicity of Abacavir: a clinical controversy in need of a pharmacological explanation.
There is a long-lasting controversy surrounding an association between Abacavir (ABC) and an increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease in HIV-positive subjects. While differing in their specifics, a number of published cohort studies and clinical trials support such an association, usually relating it to recent exposure to the drug, independently of traditional predisposing factors. However, other clinical trials have failed to reveal such a relation, and have pointed to methodological differences to explain discrepancies. Significantly, the controversy has been fueled by the lack of a credible mechanism of action to justify the putative detrimental actions of ABC. There is a myriad of contradictory clinical indicators which are not clearly compatible with known profiles of either vascular physiopathology or pharmacological interference. However, basic research has recently hinted at altered homeosthatic mechanisms, though this requires clinical validation. In particular, recurrent evidence - both clinical and experimental - relates ABC with vascular inflammation, a leading contributor to the atherosclerotic plaque and thrombosis. ABC's chemical structure is very close to that of endogenous purines (ATP, ADP and AMP), major paracrine signalling molecules capable of triggering prothrombotic and proinflammatory vascular programmes. Other proposed mechanisms are a competitive inhibition of guanylyl cyclase in platelets and a subsequent decrease in cGMP. The present review aims to shed light on this complex subject by summarizing and critically evaluating all the available clinical data regarding a relationship between ABC and CV disease, and to put forward potential pharmacological explanations compatible with both the clinical scenario and experimental findings.
Stimulation of autophagy prevents intestinal mucosal inflammation and ameliorates murine colitis.
BACKGROUND AND POURPOSE: Defective autophagy contributes to the pathogenesis of inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and there are interactions between autophagy and inflammation. Here we have analysed the effects of autophagy stimulators on murine colitis.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Mice were treated with intrarectal administration of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS) (3.5 mg·20 g -1 ) and body weight was measured daily. Histological damage was scored 2 or 4 days after treatment. Some mice received trehalose (3% in drinking water 3 weeks before TNBS administration) or a daily administration of rapamycin (1.25 mg·kg -1 , i.p.), betanin (1 g·kg -1 , i.p.) or betanin + 3-methyladenine (3MA) (10 mg·kg -1 , i.p.). Protein levels of p-mTOR, p62, LC3, BCL10, NFκB, IκBα and p-IκBα in mucosa were determined by Western blots and mRNA expression of TNFα, IL1β, IL6, IL10, COX2, CCR7, CD11c, inducible NOS and CD86 by qRT-PCR.
KEY RESULTS: Impaired autophagy associated with body weight loss and intestinal damage was detected in the mucosa of TNBS-treated mice. Administration of trehalose, rapamycin or betanin prevented the impaired autophagic flux induced by TNBS and decreased mucosal protein levels of BCL10, p-IκBα and NFκB-p65 and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and M1 macrophage markers. Blockade of autophagosome formation by treatment with 3MA, prevented the reduction in protein levels of p62, BCL10, p-IκBα and NFκB-p65 induced by betanin in TNBS-treated mice and weakened the protective effects of betanin on murine colitis.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Pharmacological stimulation of mucosal autophagy reduced intestinal inflammation and improved murine colitis.
Abacavir induces platelet-endothelium interactions by interfering with purinergic signalling: A step from inflammation to thrombosis.
The controversy connecting Abacavir (ABC) with cardiovascular disease has been fuelled by the lack of a credible mechanism of action. ABC shares structural similarities with endogenous purines, signalling molecules capable of triggering prothrombotic/proinflammatory programmes. Platelets are leading actors in the process of thrombosis. Our study addresses the effects of ABC on interactions between platelets and other vascular cells, while exploring the adhesion molecules implicated and the potential interference with the purinergic signalling pathway. The effects of ABC on platelet aggregation and platelet-endothelium interactions were evaluated, respectively, with an aggregometer and a flow chamber system that reproduced conditions in vivo. The role of adhesion molecules and purinergic receptors in endothelial and platelet populations was assessed by selective pre-incubation with specific antagonists and antibodies. ABC and carbovir triphosphate (CBT) levels were evaluated by HPLC. The results showed that ABC promoted the adherence of platelets to endothelial cells, a crucial step for the formation of thrombi. This was not a consequence of a direct effect of ABC on platelets, but resulted from activation of the endothelium via purinergic ATP-P2X7 receptors, which subsequently triggered an interplay between P-selectin and ICAM-1 on endothelial cells with constitutively expressed GPIIb/IIIa and GPIbα on platelets. ABC did not induce platelet activation (P-selectin expression or Ca2+ mobilization) or aggregation, even at high concentrations. CBT levels in endothelial cells were lower than those required to induce platelet-endothelium interactions. Thus, ABC interference with endothelial purinergic signalling leads to platelet recruitment. This highlights the endothelium as the main cell target of ABC in this interaction, which is in line with previous experimental evidence that ABC induces manifestations of vascular inflammation.


The mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ modulates oxidative stress, inflammation and leukocyte-endothelium interactions in leukocytes isolated from type 2 diabetic patients.
It is not known if the mitochondria-targeted antioxidants such as mitoquinone (MitoQ) can modulate oxidative stress and leukocyte-endothelium interactions in T2D patients. We aimed to evaluate the beneficial effect of MitoQ on oxidative stress parameters and leukocyte-endothelium interactions in leukocytes of T2D patients. The study population consisted of 98 T2D patients and 71 control subjects. We assessed metabolic and anthropometric parameters, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPX-1), NFκB-p65, TNFα and leukocyte-endothelium interactions. Diabetic patients exhibited higher weight, BMI, waist circumference, SBP, DBP, glucose, insulin, HOMA-IR, HbA1c, triglycerides, hs-CRP and lower HDL-c with respect to controls. Mitochondrial ROS production was enhanced in T2D patients and decreased by MitoQ. The antioxidant also increased GPX-1 levels and PMN rolling velocity and decreased PMN rolling flux and PMN adhesion in T2D patients. NFκB-p65 and TNFα were augmented in T2D and were both reduced by MitoQ treatment. Our findings support that the antioxidant MitoQ has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action in the leukocytes of T2D patients by decreasing ROS production, leukocyte-endothelium interactions and TNFα through the action of NFκB. These data suggest that mitochondria-targeted antioxidants such as MitoQ should be investigated as a novel means of preventing cardiovascular events in T2D patients.
Editorial: Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Diseases: Molecular Targets.
Proton Pump Inhibitors Display Antitumor Effects in Barrett's Adenocarcinoma Cells.
Recent evidence has reported that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can exert antineoplastic effects through the disruption of pH homeostasis by inhibiting vacuolar ATPase (H+-VATPase), a proton pump overexpressed in several tumor cells, but this aspect has not been deeply investigated in EAC yet. In the present study, the expression of H+-VATPase was assessed through the metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence in Barrett's esophagus (BE) and the antineoplastic effects of PPIs and cellular mechanisms involved were evaluated in vitro. H+-VATPase expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry in paraffined-embedded samples or by immunofluorescence in cultured BE and EAC cell lines. Cells were treated with different concentrations of PPIs and parameters of citotoxicity, oxidative stress, and autophagy were evaluated. H+-VATPase expression was found in all biopsies and cell lines evaluated, showing differences in the location of the pump between the cell lines. Esomeprazole inhibited proliferation and cell invasion and induced apoptosis of EAC cells. Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) seemed to be involved in the cytotoxic effects observed since the addition of N-acetylcysteine significantly reduced esomeprazole-induced apoptosis in EAC cells. Esomeprazole also reduced intracellular pH of tumor cells, whereas only disturbed the mitochondrial membrane potential in OE33 cells. Esomeprazole induced autophagy in both EAC cells, but also triggered a blockade in autophagic flux in the metastatic cell line. These data provide in vitro evidence supporting the potential use of PPIs as novel antineoplastic drugs for EAC and also shed some light on the mechanisms that trigger PPIs cytotoxic effects, which differ upon the cell line evaluated.
Insulin Resistance in PCOS Patients Enhances Oxidative Stress and Leukocyte Adhesion: Role of Myeloperoxidase.
Cardiovascular diseases and oxidative stress are related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance (IR). We have evaluated the relationship between myeloperoxidase (MPO) and leukocyte activation in PCOS patients according to homeostatic model assessment of IR (HOMA-IR), and have explored a possible correlation between these factors and endocrine and inflammatory parameters. This was a prospective controlled study conducted in an academic medical center. The study population consisted of 101 PCOS subjects and 105 control subjects. We divided PCOS subjects into PCOS non-IR (HOMA-IR<2.5) and PCOS IR (HOMA-IR>2.5). Metabolic and anthropometric parameters, total and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, MPO levels, interactions between human umbilical vein endothelial cells and leukocytes, adhesion molecules (E-selectin, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) and proinflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and TNF-α) were evaluated. Oxidative stress was observed in PCOS patients, in whom there was an increase in total and mitochondrial ROS production and MPO levels. Enhanced rolling flux and adhesion, and a decrease in polymorphonuclear cell rolling velocity were also detected in PCOS subjects. Increases in IL-6 and TNF-α and adhesion molecules (E-selectin, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) were also observed, particularly in the PCOS IR group, providing evidence that inflammation and oxidative stress are related in PCOS patients. HOMA-IR was positively correlated with hsCRP (p<0.001, r = 0.304), ROS production (p<0.01, r = 0.593), leukocyte rolling flux (p<0.05, r = 0.446), E-selectin (p<0.01, r = 0.436) and IL-6 (p<0.001, r = 0.443). The results show an increase in the rate of ROS and MPO levels in PCOS patients in general, and particularly in those with IR. Inflammation in PCOS induces leukocyte-endothelium interactions and a simultaneous increase in IL-6, TNF-α, E-selectin, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1. These conditions are aggravated by the presence of IR.
Are Mitochondrial Fusion and Fission Impaired in Leukocytes of Type 2 Diabetic Patients?
Mitochondrial fusion/fission alterations have been evaluated in different tissues of type 2 diabetic (T2D) patients. However, it is not known whether mitochondrial dynamics is disturbed in the leukocytes of T2D patients and whether glycemic control affects its regulation. Anthropometric and metabolic parameters in 91 T2D patients (48 with glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c] <6.5% and 43 with HbA1c >6.5%) were characteristic of the disease when compared with 78 control subjects. We observed increased reactive oxygen species production in leukocytes from diabetic patients, together with a reduced mitochondrial oxygen consumption rate, especially in poorly controlled patients. Mitochondrial fusion was reduced and fission was increased in diabetic patients, and both features were accentuated in patients with poor glycemic control. Furthermore, leukocyte rolling flux rose in parallel to HbA1c levels. The induction of leukocyte-endothelial interactions in diabetic patients was related to reduced mitochondrial fusion and higher mitochondrial fission. Our findings suggest that mitochondrial dynamics could be influenced by glycemic control in leukocytes of diabetic patients, in which there is decreased mitochondrial fusion and elevated fission related to enhanced leukocyte-endothelial interactions. These findings lead to the hypothesis that poor glycemic control during T2D may alter mitochondrial dynamics and could eventually promote leukocyte-endothelial interactions and the onset of cardiovascular diseases. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 25, 108-115.
Interference with purinergic signalling: an explanation for the cardiovascular effect of abacavir?
OBJECTIVE: The association of Abacavir (ABC), a guanosine analogue, with cardiovascular toxicity is a long-lasting matter of controversy engendered by the lack of a mechanism of action. Clinical data point to an acute mechanism of vascular inflammation. Previous studies have shown that ABC induces leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions, an indicator of vascular inflammation. These effects are reproduced by another purine analogue, didanosine (ddI), but not by pyrimidine or acyclic nucleotide analogues, hinting at an interference with the purinergic system. The aim of the present study was to assess the role of ATP-receptors in leukocyte accumulation induced by ABC.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Clinical concentrations of ABC were analysed in an animal model in vivo (intravital microscopy using Male C57BL/6-WT or P2rx7-KO mice), in human endothelial cells and leukocytes in vitro (flow chamber), or in leukocyte Mac-1 expression (flow cytometry).
RESULTS: ABC reduced leukocyte rolling velocity and increased rolling flux and adhesion both in vivo and in vitro. These effects were absent in P2rx7-KO mice and following the specific blockade of ATP-P2X7 receptors in WT animals. Further pharmacological characterisation in flow chamber experiments confirmed the role of ATP-P2X7 receptors and suggested that those located on leukocytes were particularly implicated. Activation of ATP-P2X7 receptors is needed for expression of leukocytic Mac-1. Similar effects were obtained with ddI.
CONCLUSIONS: ABC induces leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions through a mechanism involving interference with purine-signalling pathways via ATP-P2X7 receptors located mainly on leukocytes. Our data is compatible with existing clinical data revealing an increased cardiovascular risk in ABC-treated patients
The flesh ethanolic extract of Hylocereus polyrhizus exerts anti-inflammatory effects and prevents murine colitis.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: IBD is a chronic disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by mucosal inflammation and epithelial damage. Biologic therapy has significantly improved the course of the disease but there are still a high percentage of patients that do not respond to current therapies. We aim to determine the effects of the flesh ethanolic extract of Hylocereus polyrhizus (EH) in a mice model of colitis induced by TNBS.
METHODS: Balb/c mice received TNBS (175 mg/kg, 100 μl, i.r.) and six and thirty hours later were administered with EH (1 g/kg, i.p.). Mice were weighted daily and after sacrificing (2 and 4 days after TNBS) we analyzed mucosal histology, myeloperoxidase activity (MPO), the expression of pro-inflammatory molecules (qPCR) and NF-κB and Iκβ-α protein levels. The chemical characterization of the EH was determined by LC-MS/MS.
RESULTS: The administration of EH to TNBS-treated mice prevented (P < 0.05) the loss of body weight and significantly reduced in the colon: a) histological damage score, b) MPO enzymatic activity c) the expression of pro-inflammatory molecules and d) Iκβ-α degradation and nuclear NF-κβ protein levels. The LC-MS analysis detected metabolites such as polyphenols and fatty acids.
CONCLUSION: Systemic administration of the ethanolic extract of H. polyrhizus exerts an anti-inflammatory effect and prevents murine colitis induced by TNBS.
Endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria: independent roles and crosstalk in fatty liver diseases and hepatic inflammation.
Proper function of the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria is essential for cellular homeostasis and the regulation of metabolic pathways. Perturbation of their function has been linked to pathophysiological states, including metabolic and liver diseases. Fatty liver diseases are a major health problem whose prevalence is dramatically increasing, may be induced by several factors (mainly chronic alcohol consumption, drugs or metabolic alterations), and share common features as lipid deposition, inflammation oxidative stress and progression to more severe clinical stages, such as fibrosis, cirrhosis or even hepatocellular carcinoma. Besides their independent contributions to metabolic and hepatic pathologies, mitochondria and ER directly interact regulating each other's function, and ER-mitochondria interface is involved in several molecular pathways, as induction of autophagy and triggering of inflammatory cascades. Disturbances in these interactions have already been implicated in different human diseases, and increasing interest is arising in their role on liver illnesses. This review summarizes the current understanding regarding mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum implication in fatty liver diseases, focusing on lipid accumulation and inflammation, and the relevance of both the individual functions of these organelles and of ER-mitochondria interactions in such processes. In addition, it describes the clinical implications and the available therapeutic options targeting directly these organelles or associated molecular mechanisms.
The heat stress response and diabetes: more room for mitochondrial implication.
Heat preconditioning is a rapid cellular adaptive mechanism shared by many cells/ organs / organisms that results in synthesis and accumulation of heat shock proteins (HSPs), which are responsible for increased tolerance and survival of animals during and after heat stress (HS). HSPs function as molecular chaperones by restoring cellular homeostasis and promoting cell survival, and their major functions include protection of cells from injury by preventing protein damage and aggregation. Abundant evidence points to the ability of one kind of stress caused by external factors that induce primary adaptations in the organism to provide protection against additional stress of the same or another type, a phenomenon known as cross-tolerance. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is one of the diseases which have been associated with increased tissue sensitivity and vulnerability due to incorrect protein folding. Thus, HSPs may play an important role in minimizing the protein damage that can occur under the stressful conditions created by the disease. By increasing HSP production, heat preconditioning may be a promising therapy for patients with lifestyle-related diseases such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, DM and obesity. Also, pancreatic β-cells exposed to acute HS activate defence mechanisms which include HSP synthesis and are less sensitive to the effects of cytotoxic agents such as NO, oxygen radicals and β-cytotoxic diabetogenic agents, such as STZ. Mitochondrial dysfunction and mitochondria-specific cell stress are associated and can even be a primary abnormality caused by DM-induced hyperglycaemia and oxidative stress. There are an increasing number of genetic and/or pharmacological modulations of HSPs that have revealed the connection between HSPs, mitochondria and diabetes. HSPs may affect mitochondrial function in multiple ways, but the influence on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, as well as on the pancreas, has attracted most interest as a key element in the development of novel pharmacological approaches to treating DB and associated metabolic conditions.
M1 Macrophages Activate Notch Signalling in Epithelial Cells: Relevance in Crohn's Disease.
BACKGROUND: The Notch signalling pathway plays an essential role in mucosal regeneration, which constitutes a key goal of Crohn's disease (CD) treatment. Macrophages coordinate tissue repair and several phenotypes have been reported which differ in the expression of surface proteins, cytokines and hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). We analysed the role of HIFs in the expression of Notch ligands in macrophages and the relevance of this pathway in mucosal regeneration.
METHODS: Human monocytes and U937-derived macrophages were polarized towards the M1 and M2 phenotypes and the expression levels of HIF-1α, HIF-2α, Jagged 1 (Jag1) and delta-like 4 (Dll4) were evaluated. The effects of macrophages on the expression of hairy and enhancer of split-1 (HES1, the main target of Notch signalling) and intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP, enterocyte marker) in epithelial cells in co-culture were also analysed. Phenotype macrophage markers and Notch signalling were evaluated in the mucosa of CD patients.
RESULTS: M1 macrophages were associated with HIF-1-dependent induction of Jag1 and Dll4, which increased HES1 protein levels and IAP activity in co-cultured epithelial cells. In the mucosa of CD patients a high percentage of M1 macrophages expressed both HIF-1α and Jag1 while M2 macrophages mainly expressed HIF-2α and we detected a good correlation between the ratio of M1/M2 macrophages and both HES1 and IAP protein levels.
CONCLUSION: M1, but not M2, macrophages are associated with HIF-1-dependent induction of Notch ligands and activation of epithelial Notch signalling pathway. In the mucosa of chronic CD patients, the prevalence of M2 macrophages is associated with diminution of Notch signalling and impaired enterocyte differentiation.
The purine analogues abacavir and didanosine increase acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity by enhancing mitochondrial dysfunction.
BACKGROUND: NRTIs are essential components of HIV therapy with well-documented, long-term mitochondrial toxicity in hepatic cells, but whose acute effects on mitochondria are unclear. As acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity also involves mitochondrial interference, we hypothesized that it would be exacerbated in the context of ART.
METHODS: We evaluated the acute effects of clinically relevant concentrations of the most widely used NRTIs, alone or combined with acetaminophen, on mitochondrial function and cellular viability.
RESULTS: The purine analogues abacavir and didanosine produced an immediate and concentration-dependent inhibition of oxygen consumption and complex I and III activity. This inhibition was accompanied by an undermining of mitochondrial function, with increased production of reactive oxygen species and reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential and intracellular ATP levels. However, this interference did not compromise cell survival. Co-administration with concentrations of acetaminophen below those considered hepatotoxic exacerbated the deleterious effects of both compounds on mitochondrial function and compromised cellular viability, showing a clear correlation with diminished glutathione levels.
CONCLUSIONS: The simultaneous presence of purine analogues and low concentrations of acetaminophen significantly potentiates mitochondrial dysfunction, increasing the risk of liver injury. This new mechanism is relevant given the liver's susceptibility to mitochondrial dysfunction-related toxicity and the tendency of the HIV infection to increase oxidative stress.
Effects of simvastatin, ezetimibe and simvastatin/ezetimibe on mitochondrial function and leukocyte/endothelial cell interactions in patients with hypercholesterolemia.
BACKGROUND: Cholesterol-lowering therapy has been related with several beneficial effects; however, its influence on oxidative stress and endothelial function is not fully elucidated.
AIMS: To investigate the effect of simvastatin and ezetimibe on mitochondrial function and leukocyte-endothelium interactions in polymorphonuclear cells of hyperlipidemic patients.
METHODS: Thirty-nine hyperlipidemic patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one received simvastatin (40 mg/day) and the other received ezetimibe (10 mg/day) for 4 weeks, after which both groups were administered combined therapy for an additional 4-week period. Lipid profile, mitochondrial parameters (oxygen consumption, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and membrane potential), glutathione levels, superoxide dismutase activity, catalase activity and leukocyte/endothelial cell interactions and adhesion molecules -VCAM-1, ICAM-1, E-selectin, were evaluated.
RESULTS: An improvement in lipid profile was observed after administration of simvastatin or ezetimibe alone (LDLc: -40.2 vs -19.6%, respectively), though this effect was stronger with the former (p < 0.001), and a further reduction was registered when the two were combined (LDLc: -50.7% vs -56.8%, respectively). In addition to this, simvastatin, ezetimibe and simvastatin + ezetimibe significantly increased oxygen consumption, membrane potential and glutathione content, and decreased levels of ROS, thereby improving mitochondrial function. Furthermore, simvastatin + ezetimibe increased catalase activity. In addition, simvastatin and simvastatin/ezetimibe improved leukocyte/endothelium interactions by decreasing leukocyte rolling and adhesion and increasing leukocyte rolling velocity. Finally, simvastatin, ezetimibe and simvastatin + ezetimibe reduced levels of the adhesion molecule ICAM-1, and ezetimibe + simvastatin significantly decreased levels of E-selectin.
CONCLUSION: Co-administration of simvastatin and ezetimibe has an additive cholesterol-lowering effect and beneficial consequences for mitochondrial function and leukocyte/endothelium interactions in leukocytes of hypercholesterolemic patients.


Aspirin-induced gastrointestinal damage is associated with aninhibition of epithelial cell autophagy.
BACKGROUND: Aspirin (ASA) causes gastrotoxicity by hampering the epithelial defense against luminal contents through cyclooxygenase inhibition. Since cell survival in tough conditions may depend on rescue mechanisms like autophagy, we analyzed whether epithelial cells rely on this process to defend themselves from aspirin's damaging action.
METHODS: Rats received a single dose of ASA (150 mg/kg, p.o.) with or without pretreatment with the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine, and gastric injury and epithelial autophagy were evaluated 3 h later. The effects of ASA on cell viability and autophagy were also evaluated in gastric epithelial AGS cells.
RESULTS: Basal autophagy in the gastric mucosa was inhibited by ASA as demonstrated by increased levels of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins and total LC3 and a reduced LC3-II/LC3-I ratio. Similarly, ASA increased p62 and decreased LC3-II accumulation and the number of EmGFP/LC3B puncta in AGS cells. ASA activated the PI3K/Akt-GSK3-mTOR pathway, which phosphorylates ULK1 to prevent autophagy initiation, changes that were inhibited by the PI3K-inhibitor wortmannin. Autophagy inhibition seems to enhance the vulnerability of gastric epithelial cells as a combination of ASA with 3-methyladenine exacerbated rat gastric damage and AGS cell apoptosis.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data highlight the importance of autophagy in the gastric mucosa as a protective mechanism when the epithelium is injured. In the stomach, aspirin induces mucosal damage and reduces autophagy, thus, eliminating a protective mechanism that epithelial cells could use to escape death. We hypothesize that the combination of aspirin with drugs that activate autophagy could protect against gastric damage.
The activation of Wnt signaling by a STAT6-dependent macrophage phenotype promotes mucosal repair in murine IBD.
The complete repair of the mucosa constitutes a key goal in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment. The Wnt signaling pathway mediates mucosal repair and M2 macrophages that coordinate efficient healing have been related to Wnt ligand expression. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) mediates M2 polarization in vitro and we hypothesize that a STAT6-dependent macrophage phenotype mediates mucosal repair in acute murine colitis by activating the Wnt signaling pathway. Our results reveal an impaired mucosal expression of M2 macrophage-associated genes and delayed wound healing in STAT6-/- mice treated with 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS). These mice also exhibited decreased mucosal expression of Wnt2b, Wnt7b, and Wnt10a, diminished protein levels of nuclear β-catenin that is mainly located in crypts adjacent to damage, and reduced mRNA expression of two Wnt/β-catenin target molecules Lgr5 and c-Myc when compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Murine peritoneal macrophages treated with interleukin-4 (IL-4) and polarized toward an M2a phenotype overexpressed Wnt2b, Wnt7b, and Wnt10a in a STAT6-dependent manner. Administration of a Wnt agonist as well as transfer of properly polarized M2a macrophages to STAT6-/- mice activated the Wnt signaling pathway in the damaged mucosa and accelerated wound healing. Our results demonstrate that a STAT6-dependent macrophage phenotype promotes mucosal repair in TNBS-treated mice through activation of the Wnt signaling pathway.Mucosal Immunology advance online publication, 25 November 2015; doi:10.1038/mi.2015.123.
Differential effects of anti-TNF-α and anti-IL-12/23 agents on human leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions.
Enhanced leukocyte recruitment is an inflammatory process that occurs during early phases of the vascular dysfunction that characterises atherosclerosis. We evaluated the impact of anti-TNF-α (adalimumab, infliximab and etanercept) and anti-IL-12/23 (ustekinumab) on interactions between human leukocytes and endothelial cells in a flow chamber that reproduced in vivo conditions. Clinical concentrations of anti-TNF-α were evaluated on the leukocyte recruitment induced by a variety of endothelial (TNF-α, interleukin-1β, lymphotoxin-α and angiotensin-II) and leukocyte (PAF, IL-12 and IL-23) stimuli related to inflammation and atherosclerosis. Treatment with anti-TNF-α, even before or after establishing the inflammatory situation induced by TNF-α, diminished leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions induced by this stimuli. Our results also implicated adhesion molecules (ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin) in the actions of anti-TNF-α in terms of leukocyte adhesion to endothelium. However, anti-TNF-α drugs did not influence the actions of interleukin-1β, but prevented those of lymphotoxin-α and angiotensin-II. However, once established, inflammatory response elicited by the latter three stimuli could not be reversed. Pre-treatment with anti-TNF-α, also prevented leukocyte actions induced by IL-23 on PBMC rolling flux and rolling velocity and by IL-12 on PMN adhesion. Ustekinumab exhibited a more discreet profile, having no effect on leukocyte recruitment induced by any of the endothelial stimuli, while blocking the effects of IL-23 on leukocyte activation and those of IL-12 on PMN adhesion and PAF on PBMC rolling velocity. These findings endorse the idea that biological anti-inflammatory drugs, in particular anti-TNF-α, have the capacity to influence cardiovascular risk accompanying psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis by ameliorating vascular inflammation.
Efavirenz and the CNS: what we already know and questions that need to be answered.
The NNRTI efavirenz has long been one of the most frequently employed antiretroviral drugs in the multidrug regimens used to treat HIV infection, in accordance with its well-demonstrated antiretroviral efficacy and favourable pharmacokinetics. However, growing concern about its adverse effects has sometimes led to efavirenz being replaced by other drugs in the initial treatment selection or to switching of therapy to efavirenz-free regimens in experienced patients. Neurological and neuropsychiatric reactions are the manifestations most frequently experienced by efavirenz-treated patients and range from transitory effects, such as nightmares, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness and lack of concentration, to more severe symptoms including depression, suicidal ideation or even psychosis. In addition, efavirenz has recently been associated with mild/moderate neurocognitive impairment, which is of specific relevance given that half of the patients receiving ART eventually suffer some form of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder. The mechanisms responsible for efavirenz-induced neurotoxicity are unclear, although growing evidence points to disturbances in brain mitochondrial function and bioenergetics. This review offers a comprehensive overview of the current evidence on the interaction that efavirenz displays with the CNS, including the penetration and concentration of the drug in the brain. We discuss the prevalence, types and specificities of its side effects and recently uncovered cellular mechanisms that may be involved in their development.
Involvement of leucocyte/endothelial cell interactions in anorexia nervosa.
BACKGROUND: Anorexia nervosa is a common psychiatric disorder in adolescence and is related to cardiovascular complications. Our aim was to study the effect of anorexia nervosa on metabolic parameters, leucocyte-endothelium interactions, adhesion molecules and proinflammatory cytokines.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This multicentre, cross-sectional, case-control study employed a population of 24 anorexic female patients and 36 controls. We evaluated anthropometric and metabolic parameters, interactions between leucocytes polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), proinflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) and soluble cellular adhesion molecules (CAMs) including E-selectin, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1).
RESULTS: Anorexia nervosa was related to a decrease in weight, body mass index, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, glucose, insulin and HOMA-IR, and an increase in HDL cholesterol. These effects disappeared after adjusting for BMI. Anorexia nervosa induced a decrease in PMN rolling velocity and an increase in PMN rolling flux and PMN adhesion. Increases in IL-6 and TNF-α and adhesion molecule VCAM-1 were also observed.
CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the hypothesis of an association between anorexia nervosa, inflammation and the induction of leucocyte-endothelium interactions. These findings may explain, in part at least, the increased risk of vascular disease among patients with anorexia nervosa.
Molecular strategies for targeting antioxidants to mitochondria: therapeutic implications.
Mitochondrial function and specifically its implication in cellular redox/oxidative balance is fundamental in controlling the life and death of cells, and has been implicated in a wide range of human pathologies. In this context, mitochondrial therapeutics, particularly those involving mitochondria-targeted antioxidants, have attracted increasing interest as potentially effective therapies for several human diseases. For the past 10 years, great progress has been made in the development and functional testing of molecules that specifically target mitochondria, and there has been special focus on compounds with antioxidant properties. In this review, we will discuss several such strategies, including molecules conjugated with lipophilic cations (e.g., triphenylphosphonium) or rhodamine, conjugates of plant alkaloids, amino-acid- and peptide-based compounds, and liposomes. This area has several major challenges that need to be confronted. Apart from antioxidants and other redox active molecules, current research aims at developing compounds that are capable of modulating other mitochondria-controlled processes, such as apoptosis and autophagy. Multiple chemically different molecular strategies have been developed as delivery tools that offer broad opportunities for mitochondrial manipulation. Additional studies, and particularly in vivo approaches under physiologically relevant conditions, are necessary to confirm the clinical usefulness of these molecules.
Metformin modulates human leukocyte/endothelial cell interactions and proinflammatory cytokines in polycystic ovary syndrome patients.
OBJECTIVE: We aim to assess the effect of metformin treatment on metabolic parameters, endothelial function and inflammatory markers in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) subjects.
METHODS: The study population consisted of 40 reproductive-age women with PCOS, who underwent treatment with metformin during a 12-week period, and their corresponding matched controls (n = 44). We evaluated endocrinological parameters, adhesion molecules (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), intercellular cell adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and E-selectin) and proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα)) in serum. In addition, interactions between human umbilical vein endothelial cells and polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells were assessed by flow chamber microscopy. In addition, a group of type 2 diabetes patients who underwent treatment with metformin during a 12-week period was incorporated into the study.
RESULTS: Metformin produced beneficial effects on PCOS patients by decreasing polymorphonuclear (PMN) rolling flux and adhesion. It also decreased levels of ICAM-1, E-selectin, IL-6 and ΤΝFα. In addition, metformin induced an improvement of endocrine and anthropometric parameters in PCOS subjects by reducing glucose, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and androstendione, and by increasing dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S). Metformin also had beneficial effects in type 2 diabetic subjects by reducing body weight, waist circumference and PMN adhesion, and by increasing PMN rolling velocity.
CONCLUSION: Our results highlight the modulating effect of metformin on leukocyte/endothelium interactions. These findings may explain the potential beneficial effect of metformin in reducing the risk of vascular events in PCOS patients and in insulin resistance conditions.
Is Autophagy Altered in the Leukocytes of Type 2 Diabetic Patients?
It is unknown whether autophagy is altered in the leukocytes of type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients and whether oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stresses regulate this mechanism. We studied anthropometric and metabolic parameters and evaluated oxidative stress, chromatin condensation, ER stress, and autophagy parameters in leukocytes of 103 T2D patients versus 109 sex- and age-matched controls. Patients showed increases in glucose, insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) compared with controls (p < 0.001). Leukocytes displayed enhanced total and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), reduced mitochondrial mass, and increased chromatin condensation (p < 0.05). ER stress was also activated in diabetic patients, who displayed augmented glucose-regulated protein 78 kDa (GRP78), phosphorylated eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2, subunit 1 alpha (P-eIF2α), and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) levels (p < 0.05). We also observed an increase in the autophagy markers, microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3)-II and Beclin 1 (p < 0.05), and significant positive correlations between Beclin 1 and total ROS (r = 0.667), GRP78 (r = 0.925) and P-eIF2α (r = 0.644), and between LC3-II and P-eIF2α (r = 0.636) and ATF6 (r = 0.601). Our results lead to the hypothesis that autophagy is activated in the leukocytes of T2D patients and that both oxidative and ER stress signaling pathways may be implicated in the induction of autophagy.


Involvement of nitric oxide in the mitochondrial action of efavirenz: a differential effect on neurons and glial cells.
The anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drug efavirenz (EFV) alters mitochondrial function in cultured neurons and glial cells. Nitric oxide (NO) is a mediator of mitochondrial dysfunction associated with HIV central nervous system symptoms. We show that EFV promotes inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression in cultured glial cells and generated NO undermines their mitochondrial function, as inhibition of NOS partially reverses this effect. EFV inhibits mitochondrial Complex I in both neurons and glia; however, when the latter cells are treated for longer periods, other mitochondrial complexes are also affected in accordance with the increased NO production. These findings shed light on the mechanisms responsible for the frequent EFV-associated neurotoxicity.
Lack of mitochondrial toxicity of darunavirraltegravir and rilpivirine in neurons and hepatocytes: a comparisonwith efavirenz.
Growing evidence associates the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor efavirenz with several adverse events. Newer antiretrovirals, such as the integrase inhibitor raltegravir, the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor rilpivirine and the protease inhibitordarunavir, claim to have a better toxicological profile than efavirenz while producing similar levels of efficacy and virological suppression. The objective of this study was to determine the in vitro toxicological profile of these three new antiretrovirals by evaluating their effects on themitochondrial and cellular parameters altered by efavirenz in hepatocytes and neurons.
Hep3B cells and primary rat neurons were treated with clinically relevant concentrations of efavirenzdarunavirrilpivirine or raltegravir. Parameters of mitochondrial function, cytotoxicity and oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress were assessed using standard cell biology techniques.
None of the new compounds altered the mitochondrial function of hepatic cells or neurons, while efavirenz decreased mitochondrialmembrane potential and enhanced superoxide production in both cell types, effects that are known to significantly compromise the functioning of mitochondria, cell viability and, ultimately, cell number. Of the four drugs assayed, efavirenz was the only one to alter the protein expression of LC3-II, an indicator of autophagy, and CHOP, a marker of endoplasmic reticulum stress and the unfolded protein response.
Darunavirrilpivirine and raltegravir do not induce toxic effects on Hep3B cells and primary rat neurons, which suggests a safer hepatic and neurological profile than that of efavirenz.
Neuronal bioenergetics and acute mitochondrial dysfunction: a clue to understanding the central nervoussystem side effects of efavirenz.
Neurological pathogenesis is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and differences in neuronal/glial handling of oxygen and glucose. The main side effects attributed to efavirenz involve the CNS, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear.
Human cell lines and rat primary cultures of neurons and astrocytes were treated with clinically relevant efavirenz concentration.
Efavirenz alters mitochondrial respiration, enhances reactive oxygen species generation, undermines mitochondrial membrane potential, and reduces adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels in a concentration-dependent fashion in both neurons and glial cells. However, it activates adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase only in glial cells, upregulating glycolysis and increasing intracellular ATP levels, which do not occur in neurons. To reproduce the conditions that often exist in human immunodeficiency virus-related neuroinflammatory disorders, the effects ofefavirenz were evaluated in the presence of exogenous nitric oxide, an inflammatory mediator and mitochondrial inhibitor. The combination potentiated the effects on mitochondrial parameters in both neurons and glial cells, but ATP generation and lactate production were enhanced only in glial cells.
Efavirenz affects the bioenergetics of neurons through a mechanism involving acutemitochondrial inhibition, an action exacerbated in neuroinflammatory conditions. A similar scenario of glial cells survival and degeneration of neurons with signs of mitochondrialdysfunction and oxidative stress has been associated with neurocognitive disorders.
Is glycemic control modulating endoplasmic reticulum stress in leukocytes of type 2 diabetic patients?
Oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is related to type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the influence of glycemic control on these parameters and its relationship with leukocyte-endothelial interactions is not known. In our study population consisting of 164 diabetic patients, (102 with glycated hemoglobin [HbA1c] <7% and 62 with HbA1c >7%) and 84 nondiabetic controls, we have verified a common anthropometric and metabolic pattern of T2D with dyslipidemia. Inflammatory parameters (high-sensitive C-reactive protein [hs-CRP] and tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNFα]) and E-selectin levels were enhanced in the HbA1c >7% group with regard to controls. O2 consumption and mitochondrial membrane potential were lower in diabeticpatients than in controls. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was enhanced in diabetic patients than in controls and positively correlated with HbA1c levels. GRP78 levels were higher in both diabetic groups. However, HbA1c <7% patients displayed higher levels of spliced X-box binding protein 1 (sXBP1), whereas HbA1c >7% patients exhibited preferentially enhanced levels of CHOP (CCAAT/enhancer binding protein [C/EBP] homologous protein) and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). Reduced leukocyte rolling velocity and increased rolling flux and adhesion were observed in diabetic patients. Our findings lead to the hypothesis of an association between poor glycemic control in T2D and increased leukocyte ROS production and chronic ER stress that could finally promote leukocyte-endothelial interactions, which, in turn, poses a risk of vascular complications for these patients.
How to compare biologic drugs. [Article in English, Spanish]
This consensus document reviews the evidence on the evaluation of biological drugs. The main conclusions of the group are: a) the current evidence on biological comparisons is based on indirect comparisons and is generally unreliable and with important methodological limitations. Therefore, b) it is considered necessary to amend the regulatory directives in the sense of strongly favoring randomized non-inferiority studies comparing face to face the new biological treatment with current standards, avoiding trials versus placebo, c) A key element in this process will be determined by consensus among regulatory agencies, scientific societies, the pharmaceutical industry and health authorities regarding the clinical differences that should be considered relevant in each of the conditions tested.
Efavirenz induces interactions between leucocytes and endothelium through the activation of Mac-1 and gp150,95.
The potential cardiovascular (CV) toxicity associated with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) has been attributed mainly to the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors abacavir and didanosine. However, the other two components of cART--non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and protease inhibitors (PIs)--may also be implicated, either directly or by influencing the action of the other drugs. This study evaluates the acute direct effects of the NNRTIs efavirenz and nevirapine and one of the most widely employed PIs, lopinavir, on leucocyte-endothelium interactions, a hallmark of CV disease.
Drugs were analysed in vitro in human cells (interactions of peripheral blood polymorphonuclear or mononuclear cells with human umbilical vein endothelial cells) using a flow chamber system, and in vivo in rat mesenteric vessels by means of intravital microscopy. The expression of adhesion molecules in leucocytes and endothelial cells was studied by flow cytometry, and the role of these molecules in white cell recruitment was evaluated by pre-treating human cells or rats with blocking antibodies.
Efavirenz and nevirapine, but not lopinavir, increased the rolling flux and adhesion of leucocytes in vitro and in vivo while inducing emigration in rat venules. Efavirenz, but not nevirapine, augmented the levels of CD11b, CD11c and CD18 in neutrophils and monocytes. The actions of efavirenz, but not of nevirapine, were reversed by antibodies against Mac-1 (CD11b/CD18), gp150,95 (CD11c/CD18) or ICAM-1 (CD54).
NNRTIs, but not PIs, interfere with leucocyte-endothelial interactions. However, differences between efavirenz and nevirapine suggest a specific CV profile for each compound.
Role of endothelial nitric oxide in pulmonary and systemic arteries during hypoxia.
Our aim was to investigate the role played by endothelial nitric oxide (NO) during acute vascular response to hypoxia, as a modulator of both vascular tone (through guanylate cyclase (sGC) activation) and mitochondrial O2 consumption (through competitive inhibition of cytochrome-c-oxydase (CcO)). Organ bath experiments were performed and O2 consumption (Clark electrode) was determined in isolated aorta, mesenteric andpulmonary arteries of rats and eNOS-knockout mice. All pre-contracted vessels exhibited a triphasic hypoxic response consisting of an initial transient contraction (not observed in vessels from eNOS-knockout mice) followed by relaxation and subsequent sustained contraction. Removal of the endothelium, inhibition of eNOS (by L-NNA) and inhibition of sGC (by ODQ) abolished the initial contraction without altering the other two phases. The initial hypoxic contraction was observed in the presence of L-NNA+NO-donors. L-NNA and ODQ increases O2 consumption in hypoxic vessels and increases the arterial tone in normoxia but not in hypoxia. When L-NNA+mitochondrial inhibitors (cyanide, rotenone or myxothiazol) were added, the increase in tone was similar in normoxic and hypoxic vessels, which suggests that inhibition of the binding of NO to reduced CcO restored the action of NO on sGC.
A complex equilibrium is established between NO, sGC and CcO in vessels in function of the concentration of O2: as O2 falls, NO inhibition of mitochondrial O2 consumption increases and activation of sGC decreases, thus promoting a rapid increase in tone in both pulmonaryand systemic vessels, which is followed by the triggering of NO-independent vasodilator/vasoconstrictor mechanisms.
Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants as a therapeutic strategy for protecting endothelium in cardiovascular diseases.
Endothelial dysfunction involving dysfunctional mitochondria precedes the development of cardiovascular diseases. This impairment results from an increase in reactive oxygen species, which leads to oxidative stress and a reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide. It has been demonstrated that oxidative stress and alterations in glucose and lipid homeostasis (e.g. hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia) are linked to mitochondrial impairment and that all of them contribute to endothelial dysfunction. Anti-hyperlipidemic drugs such as statins, anti-hypertensive drugs and angiotensin receptor antagonists have been shown to exert protection through anti-oxidative stress mechanisms. Other substances with antioxidant properties, such as vitamins, are also capable of abolishing the oxidative stress associated with cardiometabolicdiseases. However, the results obtained with general antioxidants in clinical trials are contradictory, perhaps due to the unspecific nature of the targets selected. This study correlates endothelial dysfunction and mitochondrial dysfunction and examines current research for the selective targeting of specific molecules (such as ·NO donors and antioxidants) to mitochondria with the aim of protecting the endothelium against oxidative stress in cardiovascular diseases.
Using exomarkers to assess mitochondrial reactive species in vivo.
The ability to measure the concentrations of small damaging and signalling molecules such asreactiveoxygenspecies(ROS)in vivois essential to understanding their biological roles. While a range of methods can be applied toinvitro systems, measuring the levels and relative changesinreactivespeciesin vivois challenging.
One approach towards achieving this goal is the use of exomarkers. In this, exogenous probe compounds are administered to the intact organism and are then transformed by the reactive molecules in vivo to produce a diagnostic exomarker. The exomarker and the precursor probe can be analysed ex vivo to infer the identity and amounts of the reactive species present in vivo. This is akin to the measurement of biomarkers produced by the interaction of reactive species with endogenous biomolecules.
Our laboratories have developed mitochondria-targeted probes that generate exomarkersthat can be analysed ex vivo by mass spectrometry to assess levels of reactive species within mitochondria in vivo. We have used one of these compounds, MitoB, to infer the levels of mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide within flies and mice. Here we describe the development of MitoB and expand on this example to discuss how better probes and exomarkers can be developed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Current methods to study reactive oxygen species - pros and cons and biophysics of membrane proteins.
Perspectives and potential applications of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants in cardiometabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes.
There is abundant evidence to suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction is a main cause of insulin resistance and related cardiometaboliccomorbidities. On the other hand, insulin resistance is one of the main characteristics of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Lipid and glucose metabolism require mitochondria to generate energy, and when O2 consumption is low due to inefficient nutrient oxidation, there is an increase in reactive oxygen species, which can impair different types of molecules, including DNA, lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates, thereby inducing proinflammatory processes. Factors which contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction, such as mitochondrial biogenesis and genetics, can also lead to insulin resistance in different insulin-target tissues, and its association with mitochondrial dysfunction can culminate in the development of cardiovascular diseases. In this context, therapies that improve mitochondrial function may also improve insulin resistance. This review explains mechanisms of mitochondrial function related to the pathological effects of insulin resistance in different tissues. The pathogenesis ofcardiometabolic diseases will be explained from a mitochondrial perspective and the potential beneficial effects of mitochondria-targeted antioxidantsas a therapy for modulating mitochondrial function in cardiometabolic diseases, especially diabetes, will also be considered.
Hypoxic macrophages impair autophagy in epithelial cells through Wnt1: relevance in IBD.
A defective induction of epithelial autophagy may have a role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases. This process is regulated mainly by extracellular factors such as nutrients and growth factors and is highly induced by diverse situations of stress. We hypothesized that epithelialautophagy is regulated by the immune response that in turn is modulated by local hypoxia and inflammatory signals present in the inflamed mucosa. Our results reveal that HIF-1α and Wnt1 were co-localized with CD68 in cells of the mucosa of IBD patients. We have observed increased protein levels of β-catenin, phosphorylated mTOR, and p62 and decreased expression of LC3II in colonic epithelial crypts from damaged mucosa in which β-catenin positively correlated with phosphorylated mTOR and negatively correlated with autophagic protein markers. In cultured macrophages, HIF-1 mediated the increase in Wnt1 expression induced by hypoxia, which enhanced protein levels of β-catenin, activated mTOR, and decreasedautophagy in epithelial cells in co-culture. Our results demonstrate a HIF-1-dependent induction of Wnt1 in hypoxic macrophages that underminesautophagy in epithelial cells and suggest a role for Wnt signaling and mTOR pathways in the impaired epithelial autophagy observed in the mucosa of IBD patients.
The pivotal role of nitric oxide: effects on the nervous and immune systems.
Nitric oxide (NO) has an important role in physiological and pathological processes in general, and in particular plays a homeostatic role in thenervous and immune systems. The many different physiological functions of NO include those of a mediator of blood vessel dilation, neurotransmitter, neuromodulator and inductor of mitochondrial biogenesis. In addition, NO can transform into highly reactive and harmful molecules producing an impairment of the DNA, lipids or proteins, and thus altering their function. This dual action of NO, by which it plays an important role in homeostasis and aids the development of pathological processes, makes this molecule an interesting target for medical therapies, especially with respect to the nervous and immune systems. This review describes the multiple roles of NO played out in the nervous and immune systems during different physiological and pathophysiological processes.

Progastrin represses the alternative activation of human macrophages and modulates their influence on coloncancer epithelial cells.

Macrophage infiltration is a negative prognostic factor for most cancers but gastrointestinal tumors seem to be an exception. The effect ofmacrophages on cancer progression depends on their phenotype, which may vary between M1 (pro-inflammatory, defensive) to M2 (tolerogenic, pro-tumoral). Gastrointestinal cancers often become an ectopic source of gastrins and macrophages present receptors for these peptides. The aim of the present study is to analyze whether gastrins can affect the pattern of macrophage infiltration in colorectal tumors. We have evaluated the relationship between gastrin expression and the pattern of macrophage infiltration in samples from colorectal cancer and the influence of these peptides on the phenotype of macrophages differentiated from human peripheral monocytes in vitro. The total number of macrophages (CD68+ cells) was similar in tumoral and normal surrounding tissue, but the number of M2 macrophages (CD206+ cells) was significantly higher in the tumor. However, the number of these tumor-associated M2 macrophages correlated negatively with the immunoreactivity for gastrin peptides in tumor epithelial cells.Macrophages differentiated from human peripheral monocytes in the presence of progastrin showed lower levels of M2-markers (CD206, IL10) with normal amounts of M1-markers (CD86, IL12). Progastrin induced similar effects in mature macrophages treated with IL4 to obtain a M2-phenotype or with LPS plus IFNγ to generate M1-macrophages. Macrophages differentiated in the presence of progastrin presented a reduced expression of Wnt ligands and decreased the number and increased cell death of co-cultured colorectal cancer epithelial cells. Our results suggest that progastrininhibits the acquisition of a M2-phenotype in human macrophages. This effect exerted on tumor associated macrophages may modulate cancerprogression and should be taken into account when analyzing the therapeutic value of gastrin immunoneutralization.
Gene mutations in primary ciliary dyskinesia related to otitis media.
Otitis media with effusion (OME) is the most common cause of conductive hearing loss in children and is strongly associated with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Approximately half of the children with PCD require otolaryngology care, posing a major problem in this population. Early diagnosis of PCD is critical in these patients to minimise the collateral damage related to OME. The current gold standard for PCD diagnosis requires determining ciliary structure defects by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) or clearly documenting ciliary dysfunction via digital high-speed video microscopy (DHSV). Although both techniques are useful for PCD diagnosis, they have limitations and need to be supported by new methodologies, including genetic analysis of genes related to PCD. In this article, we review classical and recently associated mutations related tociliary alterations leading to PCD, which can be useful for early diagnosis of the disease and subsequent early management of OME.


Profile of leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions induced in venules and arterioles by nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors in vivo.
There is controversy regarding cardiovascular (CV) toxicity of the nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors used to treat human immunodeficiency virus infection.
We evaluated the effects of nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors on leukocyte-endothelium interactions, a hallmark of CV diseases, in rat mesenteric vessels using intravital microscopy and in human arterial cells using a flow chamber system.
Abacavir and didanosine increased rolling, adhesion and emigration in rat vessels. These effects were reversed with antibodies against Macrophage-1 antigen (Mac-1) or intercellular adhesion molecule 1 and were reproduced in human cells. Lamivudine, zidovudine, emtricitabine, and tenofovir had no effects.
Our results support the association of abacavir and didanosine with CV diseases.
ER stress in human hepatic cells treated with Efavirenz: mitochondria again.
ER stress is associated with a growing number of liver diseases, including drug-induced hepatotoxicity. The non-nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor Efavirenz, a cornerstone of the multidrug strategy employed to treat HIV1 infection, has been related to the development of various adverse events, including metabolic disturbances and hepatic toxicity, the mechanisms of which remain elusive. Recent evidence has pinpointed a specific mitochondrial effect of Efavirenz in human hepatic cells. This study assesses the induction ofER stress by Efavirenz in the same model and the implication of mitochondria in this process.
Primary human hepatocytes and Hep3B were treated with clinically relevant concentrations of Efavirenz and parameters of ER stresswere studied using standard cell biology techniques.
ER stress markers, including CHOP and GRP78 expression (both protein and mRNA), phosphorylation of eIF2α, and presence of the spliced form of XBP1 were upregulated. Efavirenz also enhanced cytosolic Ca(2+) content and induced morphological changes in the ER suggestive of ER stress. This response was greatly attenuated in cells with altered mitochondrial function (Rho°). The effects of Efavirenz on the ER, and particularly in regard to the mitochondrial involvement, differed from those elicited by a standard pharmacological ER stressor.
This newly discovered mechanism of cellular insult involving ER stress and UPR response may help comprehend the hepatictoxicity that has been associated with the widespread and life-long use of Efavirenz. In addition, the specificity of the actions of Efavirenz observed expands our knowledge of the mechanisms that trigger ER stress and shed some light on the mitochondria/ER interplay in drug-induced hepaticchallenge.
M2 macrophages activate WNT signaling pathway in epithelial cells: relevance in ulcerative colitis.
Macrophages, which exhibit great plasticity, are important components of the inflamed tissue and constitute an essential element of regenerative responses. Epithelial Wnt signalling is involved in mechanisms of proliferation and differentiation and expression of Wnt ligands by macrophages has been reported. We aim to determine whether the macrophage phenotype determines the expression of Wnt ligands, the influence of the macrophage phenotype in epithelial activation of Wnt signalling and the relevance of this pathway in ulcerative colitis. Human monocyte-derived macrophages and U937-derived macrophages were polarized towards M1 or M2 phenotypes and the expression of Wnt1 and Wnt3a was analyzed by qPCR. The effects of macrophages and the role of Wnt1 were analyzed on the expression of β-catenin, Tcf-4, c-Myc and markers of cell differentiation in a co-culture system with Caco-2 cells. Immunohistochemical staining of CD68, CD206, CD86, Wnt1, β-catenin and c-Myc were evaluated in the damaged and non-damaged mucosa of patients with UC. We also determined the mRNA expression of Lgr5 and c-Myc by qPCR and protein levels of β-catenin by western blot. Results show that M2, and no M1, activated the Wnt signaling pathway in co-culture epithelial cells through Wnt1 which impaired enterocyte differentiation. A significant increase in the number of CD206+ macrophages was observed in the damaged mucosa of chronic vs newly diagnosed patients. CD206 immunostaining co-localized with Wnt1 in the mucosa and these cells were associated with activation of canonical Wnt signalling pathway in epithelial cells and diminution of alkaline phosphatase activity. Our results show that M2 macrophages, and not M1, activate Wnt signalling pathways and decrease enterocyte differentiation in co-cultured epithelial cells. In the mucosa of UC patients, M2macrophages increase with chronicity and are associated with activation of epithelial Wnt signalling and diminution in enterocyte differentiation.
Rationalizing the use of PPIs: an unresolved matter.
The abnormally high use of proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) has been repeatedly denounced for many years (1), and attention has been drawn towards the economic burden it represents (2,3). Multiple scientific publications have reported this problem in many countries. In the present issue of the Journal an observational, prospective study based on a survey to analyze the inappropriate (not recommended by clinical guidelines) indication of chronic PPI use (daily for over one year) in outpatients seen at a specialty hospital in Mexico is reported (4). The authors find an overall rate of inappropriateness of 35.3 %, a figure within the lower range of those reported, which exceed 60 % in many countries including Australia (5,6), United Kingdom (7), and Greece (8), and in four studies performed in Spain (9,10-12). All these studies discuss oral therapy with PPIs, but inappropriateness is also very high (above 75 %) in terms of dosage and length of intravenous therapy (13).
Induction of CD36 and Thrombospondin-1 in Macrophages by Hypo xia-Inducible Factor 1 and Its Relevance in the Inflammatory Process.

Inflammation is part of a complex biological response of vascular tissue to pathogens or damaged cells. First inflammatory cells attempt to remove the injurious stimuli and this is followed by a healing process mediated principally by phagocytosis of senescent cells. Hypoxia and p38-MAPK are associated with inflammation, and hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) has been detected in inflamed tissues. We aimed to analyse the role of p38-MAPK and HIF-1 in the transcriptional regulation of CD36, a class B scavenger receptor, and its ligand thrombospondin (TSP-1) in macrophages and to evaluate the involvement of this pathway in phagocytosis of apoptotic neutrophils. We have also assessed HIF-1α, p38-MAPK and CD36 immunostaining in the mucosa of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Results show that hypoxia increases neutrophil phagocytosis by macrophages and induces the expression of CD36 and TSP-1. Addition of a p38-MAPK inhibitor significantly reduced the increase in CD36 and TSP-1 expression provoked by hypoxia and decreased HIF-1α stabilization in macrophages. Transient transfection of macrophages with a miHIF-1α-targeting vector blocked the increase in mRNA expression of CD36 and TSP-1 during hypoxia and reduced phagocytosis, thus highlighting a role for the transcriptional activity of HIF-1. CD36 and TSP-1 were necessary for the phagocytosis of neutrophils induced by hypoxic macrophages, since functional blockade of these proteins undermined this process. Immunohistochemical studies revealed CD36, HIF-1α and p38-MAPK expression in the mucosa of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. A positive and significant correlation between HIF-1α and CD36 expression and CD36 and p38-MAPK expression was observed in cells of the lamina propria of the damaged mucosa. Our results demonstrate a HIF-1-dependent up-regulation of CD36 and TSP-1 that mediates the increased phagocytosis of neutrophils by macrophages during hypoxia. Moreover, they suggest that CD36 expression in the damaged mucosa of patients with inflammatory bowel disease depends on p38-MAPK and HIF-1 activity.

Differential effects of tenofovir/emtricitabine and abacavir/lamivudine on human leukocyte recruitment. 
The association of abacavir (ABC) with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) has led to HIV treatment guidelines favouring the combination of tenofovir/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) over that of ABC/lamivudine (ABC/3TC). We have analysed the effects of plasma- relevant concentrations of TDF, FTC, ABC or 3TC, individually and in clinically employed combinations, on human leukocyte accumulation.The effects of ABC, 3TC, TDF and FTC on the expression of adhesion molecules were also evaluated.
Interactions between human leukocytes - specifically peripheral blood polymorphonuclear (PMN) or mononuclear (PBMC) cells - and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were evaluated in a flow chamber reproducing in vivo conditions. The expression of adhesion molecules was analysed by flow cytometry.
Concentrations of TDF, FTC or 3TC mimicking those in the plasma of patients did not have any effect on human leukocyte- endothelial cell interactions, while contrasting results were obtained with ABC. This distinct pattern was reproduced when the drugs were administered in combination; namely, ABC/3TC had a significant influence on rolling and adhesion while TDF/FTC did not.However, the effects produced by ABC alone did not differ when it was combined with 3TC, which suggests the former drug was responsible for the effects observed. ABC, 3TC, TDF and FTC did not modify the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules. Conversely, only ABC enhanced the expression of leukocyte CD11b/CD18 in neutrophils and monocytes.
Our results provide evidence that the combination TDF/FTC has a better vascular profile than ABC/3TC.


Profile of stress and toxicity gene expression in human hepatic cells treated with Efavirenz.

Hepatic toxicity and metabolic disorders are major adverse effects elicited during the pharmacological treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Efavirenz (EFV), the most widely used non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), has been associated with these events, with recent studies implicating it in stress responses involving mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in human hepatic cells. To expand these findings, we analyzed the influence of EFV on the expression profile of selected stress and toxicity genes in these cells. Significant up-regulation was observed with Cytochrome P450, family 1, subfamily A, polypeptide 1 (CYP1A1), which indicated metabolic stress. Several genes directly related to oxidative stress and damage exhibited increased expression, including Methalothionein 2A (MT2A), Heat shock 70kDa protein 6 (HSPA6), Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) and DNA-damage-inducible transcript 3 (DDIT3). In addition, Early growth response protein 1 (EGR1) was enhanced, whereas mRNA levels of the inflammatory genes Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 10 (CXCL10) and Serpin peptidase inhibitor (nexin, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1), member 1 (SERPINE1) decreased and increased, respectively. This profile of gene expression supports previous data demonstrating altered mitochondrial function and presence of oxidative stress/damage in EFV-treated hepatic cells, and may be of relevance in the search for molecular targets with therapeutic potential to be employed in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the hepatic toxicity associated with HIV therapy.

Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy.
In 2008 we published the first set ofguidelines for standardizing research inautophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update theseguidelines formonitoringautophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range ofassays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measureautophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through theautophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increasedautophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with moreautophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set ofguidelines for the selection andinterpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. Theseguidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriateassays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multipleassays to monitorautophagy. In theseguidelines, we consider these various methods of assessingautophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particularautophagyassays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.


Gold nanoparticles supported on nanoparticulate ceria as a powerful agent against intracellular oxidative stress.
Ceria-supported gold nanoparticles are prepared exhibiting peroxidase activity and acting as radical traps. Au/CeO(2) shows a remarkable biocompatibility as demonstrated by measuring cellular viability, proliferation, and lack of apoptosis for two human cell lines (Hep3B and HeLa). The antioxidant activity of Au/CeO(2) against reactive oxygen species (ROS) is demonstrated by studying the cellular behavior of Hep3B and HeLa in a model of cellular oxidative stress. It is determined that Au/CeO(2) exhibits higher antioxidant activity than glutathione, the main cytosolic antioxidant compound, and its CeO(2) carrier. Overall the result presented here shows the potential of implementing well-established nanoparticulated gold catalysts with remarkable biocompatibility in cellular biology.


Evidence for a relationship between mitochondrial Complex I activity and mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase during nitroglycerin tolerance: Effects of mitochondrial antioxidants.

The medical use of nitroglycerin (GTN) is limited by patient tolerance. The present study evaluated the role of mitochondrial Complex I in GTN biotransformation and the therapeutic effect of mitochondrial antioxidants. The development of GTN tolerance (in rat and human vessels) produced a decrease in mitochondrial O(2) consumption. Co-incubation with the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant mitoquinone (MQ, 10(-6)mol/L) or with glutathione ester (GEE, 10(-4)mol/L) blocked GTN tolerance and the effects of GTN on mitochondrial respiration and aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH-2) activity. Biotransformation of GTN depended on the mitochondria being functionally active, particularly mitochondrial Complex I. Tolerance induced mitochondrial ROS production and oxidative stress, though these effects were not detected in HUVECρ(0) cells or Complex I mutant cells. Experiments performed to evaluate Complex I-dependent respiration demonstrated that its inhibition by GTN was prevented by the antioxidants in control samples. These results point to a key role for mitochondrial Complex I in the adequate functioning of ALDH-2. In addition, we have identified mitochondrial Complex I as one of the targets at which the initial oxidative stress responsible for GTN tolerance takes place. Our data also suggest a role for mitochondrial-antioxidants as therapeutic tools in the control of the tolerance that accompanies chronic nitrate use.


Metabolomics of the effect of AMPK activation by AICAR on humanumbilical vein endothelial cells.

AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a metabolic master switch expressed in a great number ofcells and tissues. AMPK is thought to modulate the cellular response to different stresses that increase cellular AMP concentration. The adenosine analog, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR) is an AMPK activator used in many studies to assess the effects ofAMPK activation on cellular metabolism and function. However, the effect of AICAR on cell metabolism reaches many different pathways and metabolites, some of which do not seem to be fully related to AMPK activation. We have now for the first time used NMR metabolomics onhuman umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) for the study of the global metabolic impact ofAMPK activation by AICAR. In our study, incubation with AICAR activates AMPK and is associated with, among others, broad metabolic alterations in energy metabolism and phospholipid biosynthesis. Using NMR spectroscopy and metabolic network tools, we analyzed the connections between the different metabolic switches activated by AICAR. Our approach reveals a strong interconnection between different phospholipid precursors and oxidation by-products. Metabolomicsprofiling is a useful tool for detecting major metabolic alterations, generating new hypotheses and provides some insight about the different molecular correlations in a complex system. The present study shows that AICAR induces metabolic effects in cell metabolism well beyond energy production pathways.

Compromising mitochondrial function with the antiretroviral drug efavirenz induces cell survival-promoting autophagy.

Hepatotoxicity is a very common side effect associated with the pharmacological treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and its pathogenesis is poorly understood. Efavirenz (EFV) is the most widely used nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor administered for the control of HIV and some of its toxic effects in hepatic cells have been recently shown to display features of mitochondrial dysfunction. Here we studied the activation of autophagy and, in particular, mitophagy, the main mitochondrial turnover mechanism, in human hepatic cells treated with clinically relevant concentrations of this drug. EFV-treated cells had altered mitochondria, characterized by a relative increase in mitochondrial mass and defective morphology. This was followed by induction of autophagy as shown by the presence of autophagic vacuoles and the presence of the specific autophagic marker proteins microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B light chain 3 and Beclin-1. Importantly, whereas moderate levels of EFV activated autophagy, higher concentrations led to blockage in the autophagic flux, a condition that promotes "autophagic stress" and produces severe cellular damage. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of autophagy exacerbated the deleterious effect of EFV on cell survival/proliferation promoting apoptosis, which suggests that autophagy acts as an adaptive mechanism of cell survival. Conclusion: Clinical concentrations of EFV induce autophagy and, in particular, mitophagy in hepatic cells. Activation of this process promotes cell survival, but exceeding a certain threshold of mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with an autophagic overload or stress. This effect could be involved in the EFV-associated hepatotoxicity and may constitute a new mechanism implicated in the genesis of drug-induced liver damage.

Autophagy as a rescue mechanism in efavirenz-induced mitochondrial dysfunction: a lesson from hepatic cells.

Efavirenz (EFV) is the most widely used non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor applied in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the combined pharmacological treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus infection. Its use has been associated with the development of several adverse events including hepatotoxicity. The molecular pathogenesis of this effect is poorly understood but recent reports have highlighted features of mitochondrial dysfunction in hepatic cells exposed to clinically relevant concentrations of EFV. In this study, we investigated the activation of autophagy and, in particular, mitophagy, in human hepatic cells exposed to EFV. We detected the presence of altered mitochondria with abnormal morphology and relative increase in mitochondrial mass. Several autophagic markers reveal specific induction of autophagy. Of special note, while moderate levels of EFV activate autophagy, higher concentrations exceeding the threshold of mitochondrial dysfunction, lead to a blockage in the autophagic flux, thus promoting "autophagic stress". Pharmacological inhibition of autophagy exacerbates the deleterious effect of EFV on cell survival/proliferation thereby promoting apoptosis, a finding which points to the fact that autophagy is triggered as a rescue mechanism enabling cell survival. The effect described in this study could be involved in the EFV-associated hepatotoxicity. It may constitute a new mechanism implicated in the genesis of pharmacological liver damage and in the recovery of hepatic homeostasis upon a drug-induced cellular insult.

Twenty years of HIV-1 non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors: time to reevaluate their toxicity.
Twenty years of effective clinical application have consolidated non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) as essential components of the Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) employed in the treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). However, as the disease has come under control, there has been growing emphasis on the long-term adverse effects induced by this chronic pharmacological therapy. Although traditionally considered to be safe and well-tolerated drugs, there is mounting evidence that associates NNRTI with the onset of cutaneous reactions, neuropsychiatric symptoms, hepatotoxicity, metabolic disturbances and gastrointestinal toxicity. Though the clinical manifestations of these detrimental events are increasingly recognised, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying them have received little attention. This review revaluates the toxicities associated with the use of NNRTI by analysing data from both clinical trials and recent in vitro studies. Particular emphasis is placed on the specific characteristics of each of the compounds that comprise this class of anti-HIV drugs, including some that are currently in clinical development. A deeper understanding of the causes of NNRTI-induced side effects would greatly help to improve existing anti-HIV-1 therapies and to develop safer and better tolerated drugs in the future, thus increasing the long term efficacy of NNRTI-containing regimens.

Nano-jewels in biology. Gold and platinum on diamond nanoparticles as antioxidant systems against cellular oxidative stress.

Diamond nanoparticles (DNPs) obtained by explosive detonation have become commercially available. These commercial DNPs can be treated under Fenton conditions (FeSO(4) and H(2)O(2) at acidic pH) to obtain purer DNP samples with a small average particle size (4 nm) and a large population of surface OH groups (HO-DNPs). These Fenton-treated HO-DNPs have been used as a support of gold and platinum nanoparticles (≤2 nm average size). The resulting materials (Au/HO-DNP and Pt/HO-DNP) exhibit a high antioxidant activity against reactive oxygen species induced in a hepatoma cell line. In addition to presenting good biocompatibility, Au/HO- and Pt/HO-DNP exhibit about a two-fold higher antioxidant activity than glutathione, one of the reference antioxidant systems. The most active material against cellular oxidative stress was Au/HO-DNP.
Abacavir and didanosine induce the interaction between human leukocytes and endothelial cells through Mac-1 upregulation.
Abacavir and didanosine are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) widely used in therapy for HIV-infection but which have been linked to cardiovascular complications. The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of clinically relevant doses of abacavir and didanosine on human leukocyte-endothelium interactions and to compare them with those of other NRTIs.
The interactions between human leukocytes - specifically peripheral blood polymorphonuclear (PMN) or mononuclear (PBMC) cells - and human umbilical vein endothelial cells were evaluated in a flow chamber system that reproduces conditions in vivo. The expression of adhesion molecules was analyzed by flow cytometry.
Abacavir induced a dose-dependent increase in PMN and PBMC rolling and adhesion. This was reproduced by didanosine but not by lamivudine or zidovudine. Both abacavir and didanosine increased Mac-1 expression in neutrophils and monocytes, but produced no effects on either lymphocytes or the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules. The PMN/PBMC rolling and adhesion induced by abacavir or didanosine did not occur when antibodies against Mac-1 or its ligand ICAM-1 were blocked.
Abacavir induces significant human leukocyte accumulation through the activation of Mac-1, which in turn interacts with its endothelial ligand ICAM-1. The fact that didanosine exhibits similar effects and that lamivudine and zidovudine do not points to a relationship between the chemical structure of NRTIs and the induction of leukocyte/endothelial cell interactions. This mechanism may be especially relevant to the progression of the vascular damage associated with atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction in abacavir and didanosine-treated patients.


Enhanced oxidative stress and increased mitochondrial mass during efavirenz-induced apoptosis in human hepatic cells.
Efavirenz (EFV) is widely used in the treatment of HIV-1 infection. Though highly efficient, there is growing concern about EFV-related side effects, the molecular basis of which remains elusive.
In vitro studies were performed to address the effect of clinically relevant concentrations of EFV (10, 25 and 50 microM) on human hepatic cells.
Cellular proliferation and viability were reduced in a concentration-dependent manner. Analyses of the cell cycle and several cell death parameters (chromatin condensation, phosphatidylserine exteriorization, mitochondrial proapoptotic protein translocation and caspase activation) revealed that EFV triggered apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway. In addition, EFV directly affected mitochondrial function in a reversible manner, inducing a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and an increase in mitochondrial superoxide production, followed by a reduction in cellular glutathione content. The rapidity of these actions rules out any involvement of mitochondrial DNA replication, which, until now, was thought to be the main mechanism of mitochondrial toxicity of antiretroviral drugs. Importantly, we also observed an increase in mitochondrial mass, manifested as an elevated cardiolipin content and enhanced expression of mitochondrial proteins, which was not paralleled by an increase in the mtDNA/nuclear DNA copy number ratio. The toxic effect of EFV was partially reversed by antioxidant pretreatment, which suggests ROS generation is involved in this effect.
Clinically relevant concentrations of EFV were shown to be mitotoxic in human hepatic cells in vitro, which may be pertinent to the understanding of the hepatotoxicity associated with this drug.

Inhibition of mitochondrial function by efavirenz increases lipid content in hepatic cells.

Efavirenz (EFV) is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) widely used in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection therapy. It has been associated with hepatotoxic effects and alterations in lipid and body fat composition. Given the importance of the liver in lipid regulation, we have evaluated the effects of clinically used concentrations of EFV on the mitochondria and lipid metabolism of human hepatic cells in vitro. Mitochondrial function was rapidly undermined by EFV to an extent that varied with the concentration employed; in particular, respiration and intracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels were reduced whereas reactive oxygen species (ROS) production increased. Results in isolated mitochondria suggest that the mechanism responsible for these actions was a specific inhibition of complex I of the respiratory chain. The reduction in energy production triggered a compensatory mechanism mediated by the enzyme adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), the master switch of cellular bioenergetics. Fluorescence and nuclear magnetic resonance demonstrated a rapid intracellular increase of neutral lipids, usually in the form of droplets. This was prevented by the AMPK inhibitor compound C and by removal of fatty acids from the culture medium. These effects were not reproduced by Nevirapine, another NNRTI. EFV is clinically coadministered with two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Evaluation of one of the most common combination, EFV/Lamivudine/Abacavir, revealed that the effects of EFV on ROS production were enhanced. CONCLUSION: Clinical concentrations of EFV induce bioenergetic stress in hepatic cells by acutely inhibiting mitochondrial function. This new mechanism of mitochondrial interference leads to an accumulation of lipids in the cytoplasm that is mediated by activation of AMPK.


Nitric oxide, derived from inducible nitric oxide synthase, decreases hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha in macrophages during aspirin-induced mesenteric inflammation.
Nitric oxide (NO) modulates expression of hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), a transcription factor regulating function of myeloid cells. Here, we have assessed the role played by NO, formed by inducible NOS (iNOS), in the inflammation induced by aspirin in the gut, by modulating HIF-1 activity.
The role of iNOS-derived NO on leucocyte-endothelial interactions induced by aspirin was evaluated by intravital microscopy in mesenteric venules of rats pretreated with selective iNOS inhibitors, 1400W or l-N6-(1-iminoethyl)-lysine. NO was localized by fluorescence microscopy, using DAF-FM. iNOS, HIF-1alpha and CD36 were localized by immunohistochemistry.
Leucocyte-endothelial interactions increased at 6 h and returned to normal levels 24 h after aspirin administration. Numbers of migrated leucocytes were similar between 6 and 24 h after aspirin. iNOS expression and iNOS-derived NO synthesis were observed in leucocytes of the mesentery of aspirin-treated rats. Blockade of iNOS activity in aspirin-treated rats: (i) did not modify leucocyte infiltration at 6 h, but reduced the number of polymorphonuclear leucocyte and increased that of macrophages at 24 h; (ii) increased HIF-1alpha immunostaining in macrophages of the mesentery; and (iii) prevented the decrease in CD36 immunostaining induced by aspirin in these cells.
NO, associated with acute gut inflammation induced by aspirin, diminished HIF-1alpha stabilization in macrophages. Early inhibition of iNOS-derived NO synthesis, by increasing the activity of HIF-1 in these cells, may accelerate the clearance of leucocytes.


Gastrin: an acid-releasing, proliferative and immunomodulatory peptide?

Gastrin release is affected by gastric inflammatory conditions. Antral G cells respond to inflammatory mediators by increasing gastrin secretion. Accumulating experimental evidence suggests that gastrin exerts immunomodulatory and proinflammatory effects. Gastrin could be a contributing factor to these pathologies, which may constitute a new justification for pharmacological blockade of gastrin action.


Oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction in cardiovascular disease: mitochondria-targeted therapeutics.

Functional impairment of endothelial activity (endothelial dysfunction) precedes the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This condition is a result of a reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO), a well known vasodilator, which is mainly due to increased NO degradation caused by its reaction with reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although there are several conditions that contribute independently to endothelial dysfunction, such as hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and dyslipidemia, increased oxidative stress seems to play a key role. In addition to their original pharmacological properties, drugs used clinically at present, including anti-hypertension reagents, angiotensin receptor blockers and anti-hyperlipidemic reagents such as statins, protect various organs via anti-oxidative stress mechanisms. Moreover, some substances with antioxidant properties, such as vitamin C or vitamin E, have been used to eradicate the oxidative stress associated with CVD. The results of the clinical trials employing anti-oxidative stress reagents in patients with CVD are contradictory, which could be a result of inadequate study design or selected targets. This review considers the process of endothelial dysfunction and CVD from a mitochondrial perspective and evaluates strategies currently under development for the targeted delivery of antioxidants or NO to mitochondria. It endorses the idea that selectively targeting specific antioxidants and NO donors to mitochondria is an effective strategy for modulating mitochondrial respiration and ROS production and protecting mitochondria against oxidative stress.



iNOS-derived nitric oxide mediates the increase in TFF2 expression associated with gastric damage: role of HIF-1.

Trefoil (TFF) peptides are involved in gastrointestinal mucosal restitution. An hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1)-dependent induction of TFF genes has been reported in gastric epithelial cells. Nitric oxide (NO) is associated with mucosal damage and modulates HIF-1 activity. The aim of the present study was to analyze the role of iNOS-derived NO in HIF-1alpha stabilization and TFF gene expression in damaged gastric mucosa. Aspirin caused gastric injury that peaked 6 h after dosing and returned to normality at 24 h. iNOS mRNA expression occurs in the corpus in parallel with damage. Blockade of iNOS activity did not modify gastric lesions induced by aspirin but delayed mucosal healing. Aspirin induced HIF-1alpha stabilization and TFF2 mRNA up-regulation in the mucosa, but these effects were diminished when iNOS activity was inhibited. Results obtained using a coculture setup showed that iNOS-derived NO from activated macrophages induced HIF-1alpha stabilization, TFF gene expression, and accelerated wound healing in cultured epithelial cells. Finally, transient silencing of endogenous HIF-1alpha in epithelial cells significantly undermined activated macrophage-induced TFF gene expression. Evidence suggests that the iNOS-derived NO associated with NSAID-induced gastric injury is implicated in mucosal restitution via the HIF-1-mediated induction of TFF genes.


Regulation of homocysteine homeostasis through the transcriptional coactivator PGC-1alpha.

Plasma homocysteine (Hcy) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Hcy is a nonprotein amino acid derivative that is generated from the methionine cycle, which provides the methyl group for essentially all biological methylation reactions. Although plasma Hcy levels are elevated in patients with cardiovascular disease, the mechanisms that regulate Hcy homeostasis remain poorly defined. In this study, we found that the expression of key enzymes involved in Hcy metabolism is induced in the liver in response to fasting. This induction coincides with increased expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator (PGC)-1alpha, a transcriptional coactivator that regulates hepatic gluconeogenesis and mitochondrial function. PGC-1alpha stimulates the expression of genes involved in Hcy metabolism in cultured primary hepatocytes as well as in the liver. Adenoviral-mediated expression of PGC-1alpha in vivo leads to elevated plasma Hcy levels. In contrast, mice deficient in PGC-1alpha have lower plasma Hcy concentrations. These results define a novel role for the PGC-1alpha coactivator pathway in the regulation of Hcy homeostasis and suggest a potential pathogenic mechanism that contributes to hyperhomocysteinemia.


Regulation of oxygen distribution in tissues by endothelial nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide (NO) decreases cellular oxygen (O(2)) consumption by competitively inhibiting cytochrome c oxidase. Here, we show that endogenously released endothelial NO, either basal or stimulated, can modulate O(2) consumption both throughout the thickness of conductance vessels and in the microcirculation. Furthermore, we have shown that such modulation regulates O(2) distribution to the surrounding tissues. We have demonstrated these effects by measuring O(2) consumption in blood vessels in a hypoxic chamber and O(2) distribution in the microcirculation using the fluorescent oxygen-probe Ru(phen)(3)(2+). Removal of NO by physical or pharmacological means, or in eNOS(-/-) mice, abolishes this regulatory mechanism. Our results indicate that, in addition to its well-known effect on the regulation of vascular tone, endothelial NO plays a major role in facilitating the distribution of O(2), an action which is crucial for the adaptation of tissues, including the vessel wall itself, to hypoxia. It is possible that changes in the distribution of O(2) throughout the vessel wall may be implicated in the origin of vascular pathologies such as atherosclerosis.


Gastrin induces the interaction between human mononuclear leukocytes and endothelial cells through the endothelial expression of P-selectin and VCAM-1.

Gastric mucosal inflammation is frequently associated with hypergastrinemia, and a correlation exists between the level of gastrin and degree of gastritis. We have previously observed that gastrin promotes leukocyte-endothelial interactions and contributes to Helicobacter-induced inflammation in the rat mesentery. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate a possible proinflammatory activity of gastrin in humans. The interaction between human leukocytes [U-937 cells, peripheral blood polymorphonuclear (PMN), and peripheral blood mononuclear (PBMC) cells] and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) was analyzed in static and dynamic conditions. The endothelial expression of adhesion molecules [P-selectin, E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1] was analyzed by flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy screening. Gastrin increased the static adhesion of U-937 cells to HUVEC (1 h; 10(-9) M: 122 +/- 9%; 10(-8) M: 143 +/- 17%; 10(-7) M: 162 +/- 14% vs. control, all P < 0.05). Incubation of HUVEC with gastrin (4 h) also increased PBMC rolling (vehicle: 63 +/- 12; 10(-9) M: 109 +/- 29; 10(-8) M: 141 +/- 24; 10(-7) M: 261 +/- 16 leukocytes/min, P < 0.05) and adhesion (vehicle: 3 +/- 2, 10(-9) M: 11 +/- 4, 10(-8) M: 17 +/- 5, 10(-7) M: 15 +/- 5 leukocytes/mm(2), all P < 0.05) in the parallel-plate flow chamber. Treatment of PBMC with gastrin had no effects. The cholecystokinin (CCK)-2 receptor antagonist (L-365,260, 10(-7) M) prevented the effects of gastrin. P-selectin and VCAM-1 expression were enhanced by gastrin, and neutralizing antibodies against these molecules prevented PBMC rolling and adhesion. Gastrin did not affect the interactions between HUVEC and PMN. Gastrin induces interactions between human mononuclear leukocytes and endothelial cells through the activation of CCK-2 receptors and the enhancement of endothelial P-selectin and VCAM-1.


Mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants and oxidative stress: a proteomic prospective study.

Mitochondria produce large amounts of free radicals and play an important role in the life and death of a cell, regulating the signalling, metabolism, and energy production needed for cellular function. In this way, mitochondrial oxidative damage and dysfunction contribute to a number of cell pathologies that are manifested through a range of conditions that include cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Although the molecular mechanisms responsible for mitochondria-mediated disease processes are not yet completely understood, oxidative stress definitely seems to play an important role. When examined at the protein level, both expression levels and protein modifications are altered by oxidative stress. While these effects have been studied in the past by classic biochemical methods, recent developments in proteomics have allowed the oxidative stress response to be studied in more depth. The focus of this work is the mitochondrial proteome/genome interplay that is currently believed to be implicated in a range of human diseases. Particular attention is given to the current knowledge of the role of mitochondria in the development of oxidative-stress-based diseases; e.g. CVD is highlighted together with the prospective proteomics perspective as an alternative prognostic and diagnostic tool for interpreting many mitochondria-related anomalies. Accordingly, strategies for the targeted delivery of antioxidants to mitochondria are being developed. The insight provided by recent proteomic research and the effects of mitochondrial-antioxidants on possible interventions are also discussed.



Induction of trefoil factor (TFF)1, TFF2 and TFF3 by hypoxia is mediated by hypoxia inducible factor-1: implications for gastric mucosal healing.

Mucosal microcirculation is compromised during gastric damage induced by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. Consequently, oxygen supply to epithelial cells is decreased. The trefoil factor (TFF) peptides are involved in mechanisms of defence and repair in the gastrointestinal tract but their regulation at sites of gastric injury is unknown.
Hypoxia and expression of TFF genes and peptides were measured in the damaged stomach of aspirin-treated rats. In a human gastric cell line (AGS cells), the effects of hypoxia and of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1 (through transient transfection of HIF-1alpha siRNA or over-expression of HIF-1alpha) on TFF gene expression were evaluated.
Hypoxyprobe immunostaining, up-regulation of TFF2 (1.9-fold) and TFF3 (1.8-fold) and a non-significant increase of TFF1 (1.5-fold) mRNA were observed in the damaged stomach of aspirin-treated rats, compared with control animals. Hypoxia (3% O(2), 16 h) induced mRNA for TFF1 (5.8-fold), TTF2 (9.1-fold) and TFF3 (9.3-fold) in AGS cells, an effect mediated by HIF-1, as transient transfection of HIF-1alpha siRNA reduced the effects of hypoxia. Over-expression of HIF-1alpha by transfection in non-hypoxic epithelial cells produced a similar pattern of TFF induction to that observed with hypoxia and transactivated a TFF1 reporter construct.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1 mediated the induction of TFF gene expression by hypoxia in gastric epithelial cells. Low oxygen levels and up-regulation of TFF gene expression in the damaged stomach of aspirin-treated rats suggest that hypoxia induced expression of TFF genes at sites of gastric injury.



Endothelial nitric oxide synthase regulates N-Ras activation on the Golgi complex of antigen-stimulated T cells.

Ras/ERK signaling plays an important role in T cell activation and development. We recently reported that endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-derived NO regulates T cell receptor (TCR)-dependent ERK activation by a cGMP-independent mechanism. Here, we explore the mechanisms through which eNOS exerts this regulation. We have found that eNOS-derived NO positively regulates Ras/ERK activation in T cells stimulated with antigen on antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Intracellular activation of N-, H-, and K-Ras was monitored with fluorescent probes in T cells stably transfected with eNOS-GFP or its G2A point mutant, which is defective in activity and cellular localization. Using this system, we demonstrate that eNOS selectively activates N-Ras but not K-Ras on the Golgi complex of T cells engaged with APC, even though Ras isoforms are activated in response to NO from donors. We further show that activation of N-Ras involves eNOS-dependent S-nitrosylation on Cys(118), suggesting that upon TCR engagement, eNOS-derived NO directly activates N-Ras on the Golgi. Moreover, wild-type but not C118S N-Ras increased TCR-dependent apoptosis, suggesting that S-nitrosylation of Cys(118) contributes to activation-induced T cell death. Our data define a signaling mechanism for the regulation of the Ras/ERK pathway based on the eNOS-dependent differential activation of N-Ras and K-Ras at specific cell compartments.


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