Clinical Studies

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Last updated: 13th August 2010

Clinical Studies
Synbiotic therapy (Bifidobacterium longum/Synergy 1) initiates resolution of inflammation in patients with active ulcerative colitis: a randomised controlled pilot trial
Gut. 2005 Feb;54(2):242-9
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an acute and chronic inflammatory disease of the large bowel with unknown aetiology. The immune response against normal commensal microorganisms is believed to drive inflammatory processes associated with UC. Therefore, modulation of bacterial communities on the gut mucosa, through the use of probiotics and prebiotics, may be used to modify the disease state. METHODS: A synbiotic was developed for use in UC patients combining a probiotic, Bifidobacterium longum, isolated from healthy rectal epithelium, and a prebiotic (Synergy 1), a preferential inulin-oligofructose growth substrate for the probiotic strain. Treatment was employed in a double blinded randomised controlled trial using 18 patients with active UC for a period of one month. Clinical status was scored and rectal biopsies were collected before and after treatment, and transcription levels of epithelium related immune markers were measured. RESULTS: Sigmoidoscopy scores (scale 0-6) were reduced in the test group (start 4.5 (1.4), end 3.1 (2.5)) compared with placebo (start 2.6 (2.1), end 3.2 (2.2)) (p=0.06). mRNA levels for human beta defensins 2, 3, and 4, which are strongly upregulated in active UC, were significantly reduced in the test group after treatment (p=0.016, 0.038, and 0.008, respectively). Tumour necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1alpha, which are inflammatory cytokines that drive inflammation and induce defensin expression, were also significantly reduced after treatment (p=0.018 and 0.023, respectively). Biopsies in the test group had reduced inflammation and regeneration of epithelial tissue. CONCLUSIONS: Short term synbiotic treatment of active UC resulted in improvement of the full clinical appearance of chronic inflammation in patients receiving this therapy.

Concentrations of alpha- and beta-defensins in gastric juice of patients with various gastroduodenal diseases.
World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jan 7;11(1):99-103.
AIM: To determine the concentration of alpha- and beta-defensins in gastric juice of patients with various gastroduodenal diseases. METHODS: Concentrations of human neutrophil peptides (HNPs) 1-3, the major forms of alpha-defensins, and human beta-defensin (HBD)-1 and HBD-2 were measured by radioimmunoassay in plasma and gastric juice of 84 subjects, consisting of 54 Helicobacter pylori-infected and 30 uninfected subjects. They included 33 patients with chronic gastritis (CG), 12 with gastric ulcer (GU), 11 with duodenal ulcer (DU), 11 with benign gastric polyp (BGP) and 16 with normal mucosa (N group) on upper endoscopy. Plasma pepsinogen I and II levels, biomarkers for gastric mucosal inflammation and atrophy, were also measured. RESULTS: Gastric juice HNPs 1-3 levels in patients with CG, GU and BGP were significantly higher than those in patients with DU and N. Gastric juice HBD-2 concentrations in patients with CG and GU were significantly higher than those in the N group, but were significantly lower in DU patients than in GU patients. Gastric juice HBD-1 levels and plasma levels of these peptides were similar in the patient groups. Concentrations of gastric juice HNPs 1-3 and HBD-2 of in H pylori-infected patients were significantly different from those in uninfected subjects. HNPs 1-3 concentrations in gastric juice correlated negatively with plasma pepsinogen I levels and I/II ratios. HBD-2 levels in gastric juice correlated positively and negatively with plasma pepsinogen II concentrations and I/II ratios, respectively. CONCLUSION: HNPs 1-3 and HBD-2 levels in gastric juice are diverse among various gastrointestinal diseases, reflecting the inflammatory and atrophic events of the background gastric mucosa affected by H pylori.

Host defense proteins in vernix caseosa and amniotic fluid
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Dec;191(6):2090-6
OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to define the spectrum, activity, and spatial distribution of antimicrobial peptides in vernix caseosa and amniotic fluid in the absence of clinical chorioamnionitis. STUDY DESIGN: Characterization of innate immune proteins in vernix and amniotic fluid obtained from pregnancies with gestational ages greater than 37 weeks by Western analysis, immunohistochemistry, and antimicrobial growth inhibition assay. RESULTS: Lysozyme, lactoferrin, human neutrophil peptides 1-3, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor were identified by Western analysis in vernix suspensions (n = 25) and amniotic fluid samples (n = 10). Three other important antimicrobial proteins, human beta defensin-2, lactoperoxidase, and LL-37 were not detected. Amniotic fluid and soluble extracts of vernix exhibited muramidase (lysozyme) activity, and there was selective efficacy in inhibiting growth of common perinatal pathogens. Antimicrobial peptides were concentrated in discrete, organized, acellular "granules" embedded in the vernix lipid matrix. CONCLUSION: In the absence of chorioamnionitis, vernix and amniotic fluid contain an organized pool of antimicrobial peptides with a defined spectrum of bioactivity against common bacterial and fungal pathogens.

Expression of LL-37, human beta defensin-2, and CCR6 mRNA in patients with psoriasis vulgaris.
J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 2004;24(4):404-6.
To investigate whether LL-37 and human beta defensin-2 (hBD-2) is related to the patients with psoriasis seldom having skin infections and explore the role of the two peptides and CCR6 (the receptor of hBD-2) in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, the expression levels of mRNA of LL-37, hBD-2, and CCR6 in skin lesions of patients with psoriasis vulgaris were detected by using RT-PCR. The results showed that the mRNA expression levels of the two peptides and CCR6 in psoriatic lesions all increased compared with the normal skin (P<0.001). It was suggested that up-regulated expression of LL-37 and hBD-2 might be the main reason that result in the the skin of patients with psoriasis being seldom infected, and the two peptides and CCR6 might play crucial roles in the pathogenesis of psoriasis.

Correlation of HDEFB1 polymorphism and susceptibility to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Chinese Han population.
Chin Med J (Engl). 2004 Nov;117(11):1637-41.
BACKGROUND: Inherited factors are involved in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study was designed to investigate the relationship between polymorphisms of HDEFB1 668 C/G and 1654G/A loci and susceptibility to COPD in Chinese Han population. METHODS: After the process of extracting genomic DNA from peripheral blood of COPD smokers and healthy smokers, the loci of genotypes 668C/G and 1654G/A were determined by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and polymerase chain reaction-single strand conformation polymorphism analysis. RESULTS: With respect to HDEFB1 668 locus, the occurences of CC, CG, GG genotypes were 72.7%, 25.0%, 2.3% in COPD smokers and 53.2%, 38.3%, 8.5% in healthy smokers (P < 0.05, respectively). The allele frequencies of 668 C and 668G were 85.2% and 14.8% in COPD smokers and 72.3% and 27.7% in healthy smokers (P < 0.01, respectively, odds ratio was 2.32 with 95% confidence interval 1.37 to 3.72). As to HDEFB1 1654G/A locus, neither genotype distribution difference nor allele distribution difference was found when comparing COPD smokers with healthy smokers. CONCLUSION: The polymorphism of HDEFB1 668C/G is associated with susceptibility to COPD in Chinese Han population; furthermore, the 668G allele represents relatively lower susceptibility to COPD.

theta-Defensin pseudogenes in HIV-1-exposed, persistently seronegative female sex-workers from Thailand.
Infect Genet Evol. 2005 Jan;5(1):11-5.
The leukocytes of rhesus monkeys contain cyclic octadecapeptides (theta;-defensins) that can protect cells from infection by HIV-1 in vitro. Although humans express mRNA from one or more theta;-defensin pseudogenes, these transcripts contain a premature stop codon that prevents formation of theta;-defensin peptides. We hypothesized that some highly exposed persistently seronegative (HEPS) individuals might have intact theta;-defensin (DEFT) genes and produce functional theta;-defensins that might account for their resistance to HIV-1 infection. We sequenced DEFT genes from 30 women in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand: 11 HEPS female sex-workers and 19 control women (10 HIV-1 infected and 9 HIV-1 uninfected). We found that theta;-defensin genes from all 11 HEPS women contained the crucial signal sequence stop codon, as did the 19 control women. Synthetic theta;-defensins based on the cDNA sequences to generate a human theta;-defensin (termed retrocyclin-1 and -2) were capable of inhibiting replication of Thai HIV-1 subtype B and CRF01_AE isolates regardless of the coreceptor utilization of the isolates. Although our study indicates that synthetic theta;-defensin peptides are effective in vitro against Thai subtype B and CRF01_AE isolates of HIV-1, the presence of premature stop codons in the DEFT genes of these HEPS women makes it unlikely that endogenous theta;-defensin production accounts for their resistance to HIV-1.

Lysozyme levels in the nasal secretions of patients with perennial allergic rhinitis and recurrent sinusitis
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004 Sep;93(3):288-92
BACKGROUND: The association of perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR) with recurrent sinusitis (RS) is well recognized. Anatomic abnormalities at the osteomeatal complex or ciliary dysfunction may play a significant role in some patients. However, for most patients with allergy, the determinants of RS are unknown. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether altered concentrations of antimicrobial peptides and proteins, such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, human beta-defensin-2 (HBD-2), and human neutrophil peptides 1 to 3 (HNP-1 to 3), contribute to the development of RS in patients with PAR. METHODS: Nasal secretions were collected by vacuum aspiration from 15 individuals with PAR+RS, 16 with PAR alone, and 16 controls. Lysozyme and lactoferrin levels were determined in nasal secretions by using quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and HBD-2 and HNP-1 to 3 levels were determined in nasal secretions by using semiquantitative Western blot analysis. Eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN) levels were measured by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay as a marker of nasal eosinophilia in all 3 groups. RESULTS: Levels of EDN were elevated significantly in patients with PAR+RS compared with controls. Lysozyme levels were decreased significantly in patients with PAR+RS compared with PAR alone or controls. Mean lysozyme levels were significantly lower in patients with EDN levels greater than 1,000 ng/mL vs those with levels of 1,000 ng/mL or less in the PAR+RS group. There were no statistically significant differences in lactoferrin, HBD-2, and HNP-1 to 3 levels among the 3 groups. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of eosinophils and their products and reduced lysozyme concentrations may be critical factors that predispose the airways of patients with PAR to RS.

Beta-defensins and LL-37 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with cystic fibrosis
J Cyst Fibros. 2004 Mar;3(1):45-50
BACKGROUND: The antimicrobial peptides human beta-defensin 1 and 2 (hBD-1 and 2) and the cathelicidin LL-37/hCAP-18 are key factors in innate immune responses of the respiratory tract. The aim of this study was to determine the concentrations of these peptides in airway surface fluid of CF patients with mild lung disease. METHODS: We measured the concentrations of hBD-1, hBD-2, and LL-37 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of 20 patients (5-34 years) participating in the prospective BEAT-study (bronchoalveolar lavage for the evaluation of anti-inflammatory treatment) using an immuno-dot blot-assay. RESULTS: All three peptides could be detected in lavage fluid of the study population. Increased levels of inflammatory markers in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were associated with elevated concentrations of LL-37/hCAP-18 (total cell count, P = 0.006; relative neutrophil count, P = 0.002). Deterioration of lung function, measured by MEF25 (maximal flow rate at 25% of residual forced vital capacity), correlated with decreased hBD-2 (P = 0.026), but increased LL-37/hCAP-18 concentrations (P = 0.016). CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that concentrations of antimicrobial peptides are correlated with severity of CF lung disease: Levels of LL-37/hCAP-18 are associated with bronchial inflammation and, therefore disease severity, whereas decreased levels of beta-defensins in advanced lung disease likely contribute to a secondary defect of the local host defense.

Elevated concentrations of alpha-defensins in gastric juice of patients with Helicobacter pylori infection.
Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 Oct;99(10):1916-23.
OBJECTIVE: Defensins (alpha- and beta-defensins) are endogenous antimicrobial peptides. Little is known about alpha-defensins during Helicobacter pylori infection. METHODS: The concentrations of human neutrophil peptides (HNP-1, -2, and -3), the major components of neutrophils-derived alpha-defensins, were measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA) in plasma and gastric juice of 61 H. pylori-infected and 33 uninfected subjects, and before and after anti-H. pylori treatment in 12 patients with H. pylori-associated gastritis. Interleukin (IL)-8 concentrations in gastric juice were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Histological grades of gastritis and neutrophil counts (/mm(2)) infiltrating in the gastric mucosa were determined using two biopsy specimens taken from the antrum and corpus. Immunohistochemistry and reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) were used to identify HNPs 1-3. RESULTS: HNP 1-3 concentrations in gastric juice were significantly higher in H. pylori-positive than in H. pylori-negative patients and significantly decreased after cure. HNP 1-3 concentrations in gastric juice correlated with IL-8 levels and neutrophil densities in the gastric mucosa and were associated with histological degree of gastritis, especially the grades of activity. Intense immunoreactivity for anti-HNPs 1-3 antiserum was noted in infiltrating neutrophils in H. pylori-infected mucosa. In RP-HPLC analysis, all of the HNP 1-3 molecules were identified as their mature forms. Plasma HNP 1-3 concentrations were similar in H. pylori-infected and non-infected groups and showed no correlations with other parameters. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated significantly elevated levels of HNPs 1-3 in gastric juice during H. pylori infection. The elevation of HNPs is presumably secondary to H.pylori-associated gastric inflammation involving neutrophil infiltration.

Novel hairpin-shaped primer assay to study the association of the -44 single-nucleotide polymorphism of the DEFB1 gene with early-onset periodontal disease
Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 Jul;11(4):766-9
A powerful, cost-effective new method for studying single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) is described. This method is based on the use of hairpin-shaped primers (HP), which give a sensitive and specific PCR amplification of each specific allele, without the use of costly fluorophore-labeled probes and any post-PCR manipulation. The amplification is monitored in real-time using SYBR Green I dye and takes only 2 h to yield results. The HP assay has a simple design and utilizes a conventional real-time PCR apparatus. The -44 C-->G transversion in the DEFB1 gene (which encodes human beta-defensin 1) has been previously associated with Candida carriage in oral epithelia. In this study, we analyzed the association between early-onset periodontal disease (EOP) and the -44 SNP. We used an HP assay to study the distribution of the -44 SNP in 264 human DNAs obtained from two cohorts of EOP patients and healthy controls from different ethnic backgrounds. The results indicate that the -44 SNP has a similar distribution between EOP and healthy patients, suggesting that it is not associated with the disease.