Clinical Studies

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Last updated: 13th August 2010

Clinical Studies
Intestinal antimicrobial gene expression: impact of micronutrients in malnourished adults during a randomized trial.
J Infect Dis. 2010 Sep 15;202(6):971-8.
BACKGROUND: Because both micronutrients and antimicrobial peptides protect against diarrhea, we looked for an effect on intestinal antimicrobial peptide gene expression during a randomized controlled trial of multiple micronutrient (MM) supplementation. METHODS: Consenting adults (n=287) in Lusaka, Zambia, were randomized to receive a daily MM supplement or placebo and were followed up for 3.3 years, with a crossover after 2 years. Intestinal biopsy samples were obtained at annual intervals, and messenger RNA of the intestinal antimicrobial peptides human alpha defensin (HD) 5, HD6, human beta-defensin (hBD) 1, hBD2, and LL-37 were quantified by real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Samples were also obtained during diarrhea episodes and after convalescence. RESULTS: There was no effect overall of treatment allocation. However, in malnourished adults (body mass index < or =18.5), HD5 mRNA was increased by 0.8 log transcripts/microg total RNA in MM recipients, compared with HD5 mRNA in placebo recipients (P=.007). During diarrhea, HD5 expression was reduced by 0.8 log transcripts in placebo recipients (P=.02) but was not reduced in MM recipients, nor was it reduced after the crossover. Correlations between HD5 and nutritional status were found that were sex-specific but not explained by serum leptin or adiponectin concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: Micronutrient supplementation was associated with up-regulation of HD5 only in malnourished adults. Interactions between antimicrobial gene expression and nutritional status may help to explain the increased risk of infection in individuals with malnutrition.

Synergistic effect of antibodies to human leukocyte antigens and defensins in pathogenesis of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome after human lung transplantation.
J Heart Lung Transplant. 2010 Aug 4. [Epub ahead of print]
BACKGROUND: This study aims to determine the role of antibodies to donor-mismatched human leukocyte antigen (HLA) developed during the post-transplant period in inducing defensins and their synergistic role in the pathogenesis of chronic rejection, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), after human lung transplantation (LTx). METHODS: Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and serum from 21 BOS+ LTx patients were assayed for beta-defensins human neutrophil peptides (HNP) 1-3 (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA]) and anti-HLA antibodies (Luminex, Luminex Corp, Austin, TX). Human airway epithelial cells (AEC) were treated with anti-HLA antibodies, HNP-1/2, or both, and the levels of beta-defensin were measured by ELISA. Using a mouse model of obliterative airway disease induced by anti-major histocompatibility (MHC) class-I antibodies, we quantitatively and qualitatively determined neutrophil infiltration by myeloperoxidase (MPO) staining and activity by MPO assay, and defensin levels in the BAL. RESULTS: In human LTx patients, higher defensin levels correlated with presence of circulating anti-HLA antibodies (p < 0.05). AEC treated with anti-HLA antibodies or HNP-1/2, produced beta-defensin with synergistic effects in combination (612 +/- 06 vs 520 +/- 23 pg/ml anti-HLA antibody, or 590 +/- 10 pg/ml for HNP treatment; p < 0.05). Neutrophil numbers (6-fold) and activity (5.5-fold) were higher in the lungs of mice treated with anti-MHC antibodies vs control. A 2-fold increase in alpha-defensin and beta-defensin levels was also present in BAL on Day 5 after anti-MHC administrations. CONCLUSIONS: Anti-HLA antibodies developed during the post-transplant period and alpha-defensins stimulated beta-defensin production by epithelial cells, leading to increased cellular infiltration and inflammation. Chronic stimulation of epithelium by antibodies to MHC and resulting increased levels of defensins induce growth factor production and epithelial proliferation contributing to the development of chronic rejection after LTx.

Over-expression of Paneth cell-derived anti-microbial peptides in the gut of patients with ankylosing spondylitis and subclinical intestinal inflammation.
Rheumatology (Oxford). 2010 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]
Objectives. Subclinical gut inflammation has been demonstrated in patients with AS. Altered expression of paneth cell (PC) anti-microbial peptides have been reported in the inflamed ileum of patients with Crohn's disease (CD). Here, we investigated the expression of PC-derived peptides in subclinical gut inflammation in AS. Methods. Multiple adjacent mucosal biopsies from terminal ileum were obtained from 25 patients with AS, 30 CD and 15 healthy controls (HCs). Expression of human alpha-defensin 5 (HD-5), phospholipase A2 (PLA2), lysozyme and SOX-9 molecules was assessed by quantitative Taqman RT-PCR on mucosal samples. Immunohistochemistry with anti-human HD-5 antibody and genotyping of relevant NOD2 mutations was also performed. Results. HD-5, PLA2 and lysozyme transcript levels were strongly increased in AS and CD with similar degrees of intestinal inflammation when compared with normal controls. Immunohistochemical evaluation showed a normal number of PCs in both AS patients with chronic gut inflammation and CD patients with less-inflamed ileal samples. Conversely, CD patients with higher degree of gut inflammation had a reduced number of PCs and low expression levels of HD-5. Conclusion. In this study, we provide evidence that over-expression of PC-derived anti-microbial peptides occurs in the ileum of AS patients with subclinical gut inflammation, likely representing an important early alteration of the mucosal innate immune component and intestinal host defence in AS.

A genetic association study of maternal and fetal candidate genes that predispose to preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM).
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]
OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine whether maternal/fetal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in candidate genes are associated with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (pPROM). STUDY DESIGN: A case-control study was conducted in patients with pPROM (225 mothers and 155 fetuses) and 599 mothers and 628 fetuses with a normal pregnancy; 190 candidate genes and 775 SNPs were studied. Single locus/haplotype association analyses were performed; false discovery rate was used to correct for multiple testing (q* = 0.15). RESULTS: First, a SNP in tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 in mothers was significantly associated with pPROM (odds ratio, 2.12; 95% confidence interval, 1.47-3.07; P = .000068), and this association remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons. Second, haplotypes for Alpha 3 type IV collagen isoform precursor in the mother were associated with pPROM (global P = .003). Third, multilocus analysis identified a 3-locus model, which included maternal SNPs in collagen type I alpha 2, defensin alpha 5 gene, and endothelin 1. CONCLUSION: DNA variants in a maternal gene involved in extracellular matrix metabolism doubled the risk of pPROM.

The role of inflammation in the genesis of the cystic component of craniopharyngiomas.
Childs Nerv Syst. 2010 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]
BACKGROUND: Craniopharyngioma accounts for 5-10% of childhood tumors and, despite of the benign histological features, its clinical course can be malignant because of critical anatomical relationships with neural and vascular structures and the possible morbidity associated to resection. Only a few studies have addressed the molecular characterization of the cyst fluid so far and the mechanisms of action of intracystic agents are not clearly understood yet. METHODS: The acidic soluble proteins contained in the cystic fluid of six patients with cystic craniopharyngioma, three of them treated with intratumoral interferon-alpha, were analyzed. A high performance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry analysis was performed. FINDINGS: The antimicrobial peptides alpha-defensins 1-3 relevant for innate immunity were detected in the cystic fluid before the intratumoral treatment. Amount of peptides significantly decreased in cystic fluid during pharmacological treatment. INTERPRETATION: Detection of alpha-defensins 1-3 excludes that cyst fluid formation can derive from disruption of blood-brain barrier and suggests the involvement of innate immune response in pathology of craniopharyngioma cyst formation. The reduction of alpha-defensins could derive both from direct antitumoral effect of interferon-alpha on squamous epithelial cells of craniopharyngioma cyst and from its immuno-modulatory effects on the recruitment of cells of innate immune systems. Interestingly, the clinical patient outcome well correlates with the gradual reduction of alpha-defensins 1-3 amount. Additional studies will be necessary to establish the role of these molecules in the pathogenesis of craniopharyngioma, and further investigations will be necessary to confirm the efficacy of the antitumoral activity of interferon-alpha.

Expression of antimicrobial peptides such as LL-37 and hBD-2 in nonlesional skin of atopic individuals.
Pediatr Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;27(4):341-8.
Recurrent skin infection is one of the major complications of atopic dermatitis and can be partly explained by decreased expression of antimicrobial peptides such as human beta-defensin-2 and cathelicidin (LL-37). In the human epidermis, human beta-defensin-2 is packed in the lamellar body and LL-37 is co-localized with intercellular lipid lamellae of the stratum corneum; together, these antimicrobial peptides constitute the primary defense system. IL-1alpha, a potent inducer of LL-37 and human beta-defensin-2, is also secreted from the disrupted epidermis for barrier homeostasis. In this study, we investigated whether expression of human beta-defensin-2 and LL-37 is constitutively decreased in the skin of atopic individuals. Nonlesional foreskins from atopic (n=7) and nonatopic (n=7) individuals were analyzed. The expression of LL-37, human beta-defensin-2 and IL-1alpha was analyzed using immunohistochemical staining, Western blot, and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Lamellar body density and secretion were evaluated by electron microscope. Quantitative analysis showed that the expression of each parameter was not significantly different between groups. Thus, basal expression of LL-37 and human beta-defensin-2 was not changed in atopic individuals. These results indicate that the expression of antimicrobial peptides at baseline was not different between nonlesional skin of atopic individuals and normal skin of nonatopic individuals.

Innate immunity proteins in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Exp Lung Res. 2010 Aug;36(6):373-80.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) may be caused by epithelial cell injury. Epithelial cells respond to injury by secreting innate immunity proteins. To investigate whether altered levels of innate immunity proteins are observed in COPD and IPF, the authors assessed secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), elafin, CC16, and beta-defensin-2 levels by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in sputum supernatants from COPD patients (n = 19), smokers without COPD (n = 21), and never-smokers (n = 10) and in BALF supernatants from patients with IPF (n = 11) and subjects without IPF (n = 11). CC16 levels were decreased, whereas SLPI and elafin levels were increased in COPD patients (0.8 [0-4.2] microg/mL, 2.5 [0.3-10.5] microg/mL, 213 [152-318] pg/mL, respectively) compared to smokers without COPD (1.8 [0.1-21.2] microg/mL, 0.8 [0.2-2.6] microg/mL, 172 [71-473] pg/mL, respectively) and never-smokers (0.5 [0-4.8] microg/mL, 0.1 [0.05-0.6] microg/mL, 188 [129-218] pg/mL, respectively) (CC16: P = .001; SLPI: P <.001; elafin: P = .041). beta-Defensin-2 was detected in smokers without COPD (98 [10-729] pg/mL) and never-smokers (74 [35-410] pg/mL), but not in COPD. SLPI and elafin levels did not differ between IPF patients and controls, but CC16 levels were increased in IPF (0.5 [0-2.3] versus 0.2 [0-0.3] microg/mL; P = .019). beta-Defensin-2 was not detected in BALF. In conclusion, in COPD, secretion of CC16 and beta-defensin-2 might be suppressed, whereas SLPI and elafin secretion is up-regulated. In IPF, only CC16 secretion is up-regulated.

Beta defensin-1 gene (DEFB1) polymorphisms are not associated with atopic dermatitis in children and adolescents from northeast Brazil (Recife, Pernambuco).
Int J Dermatol. 2010 Jun;49(6):653-7.
BACKGROUND: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common inflammatory skin disease resulting from the interplay between environmental, immunological and genetic factors. In our study, we investigated the role of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 5'-UTR of DEFB1 gene, encoding for the human beta defensin-1, on the susceptibility to develop AD in a group of Brazilian children and adolescents. METHODS: Three SNPs, -20 G/A (rs11362), -44 C/G (rs1800972), and -52 G/A (rs1799946) at 5'-UTR of DEFB1 gene were genotyped in two groups of children and adolescents, one affected by AD (96 subjects), the other healthy (191 individuals), from northeast Brazil. RESULTS: -44 C/G frequencies were comparable between the two groups. The -20 GG genotype was more frequent in AD subjects than in healthy controls; the -52 GG, conversely, was more frequent in healthy controls than in AD. However, both these differences did not reach statistical significance. Also, association between SNPs and AD severity has been shown. The analysis of DEFB1 haplotypes did not highlight any association of the three SNPs with AD development or disease severity. CONCLUSIONS: Our results seem to exclude a role for the -44 C/G DEFB1 SNPs on the pathogenesis and severity of AD, while for the -20 C/G and -52 G/A, even if not statistically significant, we evidenced a slight trend for susceptibility (-20 GG) and protection (-52 GG) for the development of AD. However, as controversial findings have been reported in the literature, the role of DEFB1 in the development of AD and in the severity of the phenotype deserves further investigation.

Alterations of the salivary secretory peptidome profile in children affected by type 1 diabetes.
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2010 Jun 28. [Epub ahead of print]
The acidic soluble fraction of whole saliva of type 1 diabetic children was analyzed by RP-HPLC-ESI-MS and compared to that one of sex- and age-matched control subjects. Salivary acidic proline-rich phosphoproteins, histatins, alpha-defensins, salivary cystatins, statherin, proline-rich peptide P-B, beta-thymosins, S100A8 and S100A9*, as well some naturally occurring peptides derived from salivary acidic proline-rich phosphoproteins, histatins, statherin, and P-B peptide, were detected and quantified on the basis of the extracted ion current peak area. The level of phosphorylation of salivary acidic proline-rich phosphoproteins, histatin 1, statherin and S100A9* and the percentage of truncated forms of salivary acidic proline-rich phosphoproteins was also determined in the two groups. The study revealed that statherin, proline-rich peptide P-B, P-C peptide, and histatins, were significantly less concentrated in saliva of diabetic subjects than in controls, while concentration of alpha-defensins 1, 2 and 4 and S100A9* was higher. The low concentration of P-C peptide was paralleled by high levels of some of its fragments. On the whole, the study highlighted the severe impairment of the repertoire of peptides involved in the safeguard of the oral cavity in children with diabetes, as well as an higher concentration of the proinflammatory mediator S100A9* with respect to normal children.

Elevated plasma levels of antimicrobial polypeptides in patients with severe sepsis.
J Innate Immun. 2010;2(5):478-82.
We wanted to investigate if plasma levels of antimicrobial polypeptides (AMPs) are increased in severe sepsis and if they correlate with severity and mortality. Samples were collected from 31 sepsis patients at the intensive care unit. The Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score and 90-day mortality were registered, and inflammatory markers and AMP levels were measured by ELISA. A median SOFA score (13) and cardiovascular SOFA score (3) indicated multiorgan failure with severe circulatory derangement, and elevated cytokine levels indicated inflammatory activation. Levels of bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein, heparin-binding protein, alpha-defensins and lactoferrin but not LL-37 were elevated in sepsis patients compared with controls. Bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein levels correlated with mortality, with lower levels in survivors. Levels of all AMPs, except LL-37, positively correlated with the cardiovascular SOFA score. In conclusion, levels of several AMPs are increased in sepsis and correlate with circulatory derangement. This probably reflects neutrophil activation as part of an innate immune response.