BACKGROUND. The clinical management of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) patients is based exclusively on virological parameters that cannot independently determine in which patients nucleos(t)ide-analogue (NUC) therapy can be safely discontinued. NUCs efficiently suppress viral replication, but do not eliminate HBV. Thus, therapy discontinuation can be associated with virological and biochemical relapse and, consequently, therapy in the majority is life-long. METHODS. Since antiviral immunity is pivotal for HBV control, we investigated potential biomarkers for the safe discontinuation of NUCs within immune profiles of chronic HBV patients by utilizing traditional immunological assays (ELISPOT, flow cytometry) in conjunction with analyses of global non–antigen-specific immune populations (NanoString and CyTOF). Two distinct cohorts of 19 and 27 chronic HBV patients, respectively, were analyzed longitudinally prior to and after discontinuation of 2 different NUC therapy strategies. RESULTS. Absence of hepatic flares following discontinuation of NUC treatment correlated with the presence, during NUC viral suppression, of HBV core and polymerase-specific T cells that were contained within the ex vivo PD-1+ population. CONCLUSIONS. This study identifies the presence of functional HBV-specific T cells as a candidate immunological biomarker for safe therapy discontinuation in chronic HBV patients. Furthermore, the persistent and functional antiviral activity of PD-1+ HBV–specific T cells highlights the potential beneficial role of the expression of T cell exhaustion markers during human chronic viral infection. FUNDING. This work was funded by a Singapore Translational Research Investigator Award (NMRC/STaR/013/2012), the Eradication of HBV TCR Program (NMRC/TCR/014-NUHS/2015), the Singapore Immunology Network, the Wellcome Trust (107389/Z/15/Z), and a Barts and The London Charity (723/1795) grant.
Laura Rivino, Nina Le Bert, Upkar S. Gill, Kamini Kunasegaran, Yang Cheng, Damien Z.M. Tan, Etienne Becht, Navjyot K. Hansi, Graham R. Foster, Tung-Hung Su, Tai-Chung Tseng, Seng Gee Lim, Jia-Horng Kao, Evan W. Newell, Patrick T.F. Kennedy, Antonio Bertoletti
Before insulin can stimulate myocytes to take up glucose, it must first move from the circulation to the interstitial space. The continuous endothelium of skeletal muscle (SkM) capillaries restricts insulin’s access to myocytes. The mechanism by which insulin crosses this continuous endothelium is critical to understand insulin action and insulin resistance; however, methodological obstacles have limited understanding of endothelial insulin transport in vivo. Here, we present an intravital microscopy technique to measure the rate of insulin efflux across the endothelium of SkM capillaries. This method involves development of a fully bioactive, fluorescent insulin probe, a gastrocnemius preparation for intravital microscopy, an automated vascular segmentation algorithm, and the use of mathematical models to estimate endothelial transport parameters. We combined direct visualization of insulin efflux from SkM capillaries with modeling of insulin efflux kinetics to identify fluid-phase transport as the major mode of transendothelial insulin efflux in mice. Model-independent experiments demonstrating that insulin movement is neither saturable nor affected by insulin receptor antagonism supported this result. Our finding that insulin enters the SkM interstitium by fluid-phase transport may have implications in the pathophysiology of SkM insulin resistance as well as in the treatment of diabetes with various insulin analogs.
Ian M. Williams, Francisco A. Valenzuela, Steven D. Kahl, Doraiswami Ramkrishna, Adam R. Mezo, Jamey D. Young, K. Sam Wells, David H. Wasserman
Combination checkpoint blockade (CCB) targeting inhibitory CTLA4 and PD1 receptors holds promise for cancer therapy. Immune-related adverse events (IRAEs) remain a major obstacle for the optimal application of CCB in cancer. Here, we analyzed B cell changes in patients with melanoma following treatment with either anti-CTLA4 or anti-PD1, or in combination. CCB therapy led to changes in circulating B cells that were detectable after the first cycle of therapy and characterized by a decline in circulating B cells and an increase in CD21lo B cells and plasmablasts. PD1 expression was higher in the CD21lo B cells, and B cell receptor sequencing of these cells demonstrated greater clonality and a higher frequency of clones compared with CD21hi cells. CCB induced proliferation in the CD21lo compartment, and single-cell RNA sequencing identified B cell activation in cells with genomic profiles of CD21lo B cells in vivo. Increased clonality of circulating B cells following CCB occurred in some patients. Treatment-induced changes in B cells preceded and correlated with both the frequency and timing of IRAEs. Patients with early B cell changes experienced higher rates of grade 3 or higher IRAEs 6 months after CCB. Thus, early changes in B cells following CCB may identify patients who are at increased risk of IRAEs, and preemptive strategies targeting B cells may reduce toxicities in these patients.
Rituparna Das, Noffar Bar, Michelle Ferreira, Aaron M. Newman, Lin Zhang, Jithendra Kini Bailur, Antonella Bacchiocchi, Harriet Kluger, Wei Wei, Ruth Halaban, Mario Sznol, Madhav V. Dhodapkar, Kavita M. Dhodapkar
The human lung harbors a large population of resident memory T cells (Trm cells). These cells are perfectly positioned to mediate rapid protection against respiratory pathogens such as influenza virus, a highly contagious respiratory pathogen that continues to be a major public health burden. Animal models show that influenza-specific lung CD8+ Trm cells are indispensable for crossprotection against pulmonary infection with different influenza virus strains. However, it is not known whether influenza-specific CD8+ Trm cells present within the human lung have the same critical role in modulating the course of the disease. Here, we showed that human lung contains a population of CD8+ Trm cells that are highly proliferative and have polyfunctional progeny. We observed that different influenza virus–specific CD8+ T cell specificities differentiated into Trm cells with varying efficiencies and that the size of the influenza-specific CD8+ T cell population persisting in the lung directly correlated with the efficiency of differentiation into Trm cells. To our knowledge, we provide the first ex vivo dissection of paired T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires of human influenza–specific CD8+ Trm cells. Our data reveal diverse TCR profiles within the human lung Trm cells and a high degree of clonal sharing with other CD8+ T cell populations, a feature important for effective T cell function and protection against the generation of viral-escape mutants.
Angela Pizzolla, Thi H.O. Nguyen, Sneha Sant, Jade Jaffar, Tom Loudovaris, Stuart I. Mannering, Paul G. Thomas, Glen P. Westall, Katherine Kedzierska, Linda M. Wakim
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection can be managed clinically with nucleos(t)ide therapy, which suppresses viral replication; however, these drugs must often be used long term, as they are unable to fully eliminate the virus. For many patients, discontinuation of treatment results in viral resurgence and hepatic flare, and there is not a reliable way to identify those individuals that can be successfully taken off nucleos(t)ide therapy. In this issue of the JCI, Rivino and colleagues report on their use of a multipronged approach to investigate potential biomarkers indicative of HBV-infected patients who can safely stop nucleos(t)ide therapy. The authors identified a population of HBV-specific, PD1-positive T cells that was present in HBV-infected patients who successfully discontinued treatment without hepatic flare, but not in those that developed flare upon treatment cessation. Together, these results support the concept that PD1+ cells may play an important role in viral control, the further evaluation of this T cell subset in preventing hepatic flare, and the development of assays to better detect this PD1+ T cell population in HBV-infected patients on nucleos(t)ide therapy.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are becoming a cornerstone of cancer immunotherapy as a result of their clinical success in relieving immune suppression and driving durable antitumor T cell responses in certain subsets of patients. Unfortunately, checkpoint inhibition is also associated with treatment-related toxicities that result in a myriad of side effects, ranging from mild and manageable to severe and debilitating. In this issue of the JCI, Das and colleagues report an association between early therapy-induced changes in circulating B cells and an increased risk of high-grade immune-related adverse events (IRAEs) in patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors that target cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated antigen-4 (CTLA4) and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1). These findings identify potential predictive biomarkers for high-grade IRAEs that may be leveraged to improve patient monitoring and may prompt new treatment strategies to prevent IRAEs.
Shannon M. Liudahl, Lisa M. Coussens
Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe childhood-onset epilepsy commonly due to mutations of the sodium channel gene SCN1A. DS patients have a high risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), believed to be due to cardiac mechanisms. Here we show that DS patients have peri-ictal respiratory dysfunction. One patient who had severe and prolonged postictal hypoventilation later died of SUDEP. Mice with an Scn1aR1407X/+ loss of function mutation died after spontaneous and heat-induced seizures due to central apnea followed by progressive bradycardia. Death could be prevented with mechanical ventilation after seizures induced by hyperthermia or maximal electroshock. Muscarinic receptor antagonists did not prevent bradycardia or death when given at doses selective for peripheral parasympathetic blockade, whereas apnea was prevented at doses known to be high enough to cross the blood brain barrier. Anoxia causes bradycardia due to a direct effect on the heart. We conclude that SUDEP in DS may result in some cases from primary central apnea, which can cause bradycardia presumably via an effect of hypoxemia on cardiac muscle.
YuJaung Kim, Eduardo Bravo, Caitlin K. Thirnbeck, Lori A. Smith-Mellecker, Se Hee Kim, Brian K. Gehlbach, Linda C. Laux, Douglas R. Nordli Jr., George B. Richerson
Epithelial tumor cells undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to gain metastatic activity. Competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) have binding sites for a common set of microRNAs (miRs) and regulate each other’s expression by sponging miRs. Here, we address whether ceRNAs govern EMT–driven metastasis. High miR-181b levels were correlated with an improved prognosis in human lung adenocarcinomas, and metastatic tumor cell lines derived from a murine lung adenocarcinoma model in which metastasis is EMT–driven were enriched in miR-181b targets. The EMT–activating transcription factor ZEB1 relieved a strong basal repression of integrin-α1 (ITGA1), which in turn upregulated adenylyl cyclase 9 (ADCY9) by sponging miR181b. Ectopic expression of the ITGA1 3’ untranslated region reversed miR-181b–mediated metastasis suppression and increased the levels of ADCY9, which promoted ZEB1–driven tumor cell migration and metastasis. In human lung adenocarcinomas, ITGA1 and ADCY9 levels were positively correlated, and an ADCY9–activated transcriptomic signature had poor-prognostic value. Thus, ZEB1 initiates a miR-181b–regulated ceRNA network to drive metastasis.
Xiaochao Tan, Priyam Banerjee, Xin Liu, Jiang Yu, Don L. Gibbons, Ping Wu, Kenneth L. Scott, Lixia Diao, Xiaofeng Zheng, Jing Wang, Ali Jalali, Milind Suraokar, Junya Fujimoto, Carmen Behrens, Xiuping Liu, Chang-gong Liu, Chad J. Creighton, Ignacio I. Wistuba, Jonathan M. Kurie
During epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) epithelial cancer cells trans-differentiate into highly-motile, invasive, mesenchymal-like cells giving rise to disseminating tumor cells. Only few of these disseminated cells successfully metastasize. Immune cells and inflammation in the tumor microenvironment was shown to drive EMT, but few studies investigated the consequences of EMT on tumor immunosurveillance. In addition to initiating metastasis, we demonstrate that EMT confers increased susceptibility to NK cells and contributes, in part, to the inefficiency of the metastatic process. Depletion of NK cells allowed spontaneous metastasis without effecting primary tumor growth. EMT-induced modulation of E-cadherin and cell adhesion molecule 1 (CADM1) mediated increased susceptibility to NK cytotoxicity. Higher CADM1 expression correlates with improved patient survival in two lung and one breast adenocarcinoma patient cohorts and decreased metastasis. Our observation reveal a novel NK-mediated, metastasis-specific, immunosurveillance in lung cancer and presents a window of opportunity for the prevention of metastasis by boosting NK cell activity.
Peter J. Chockley, Jun Chen, Guoan Chen, David G. Beer, Theodore J. Standiford, Venkateshwar G. Keshamouni
In this month’s issue of the JCI, Mishra et al. show that MYC-driven upregulation of the mitochondrial enzyme ADHFE1 leads to metabolic adaptations and dedifferentiation in breast tumors. The cover image depicts the role of mitochondrial ADHFE1 in D-2-hydroxyglutarate production, highlighting the contributions of the enzyme and oncometabolite to breast cancer progression.
JCI This Month is a digest of the research, reviews, and other features published each month.
Fibrosis describes a maladaptive response to injury that results in pathogenic production of extracellular matrix, the formation of stiff scar tissue, and compromised organ function. Although it is most often associated with chronic liver conditions and progressive lung disease, fibrosis can affect any organ of the body. There are few treatment options for this progressive, often fatal condition, but as ongoing research identifies the molecular pathways that initiate and propagate fibrotic remodeling, therapeutic possibilities may become available. The reviews in this series discuss recent insights into genetic predisposition to fibrotic disorders, the origins of fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, scar tissue formation, organ regeneration, and more, revealing opportunities to interrupt or even reverse disease progression.