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Open access

Elizabeth Yan Zhang and Bao-Ting Zhu

The endogenous estrogens are important modulators of the immune system and its functions. However, their effects are rather complex and many aspects have not been studied. In this study, we used the 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (DNCB)-induced contact dermatitis as a disease model and investigated the effect of estriol (E3), along with two other estrogens, 17β-estradiol and estrone, on the pathogenesis of contact hypersensitivity. A series of parameters, such as ear swelling, skin inflammation, antigen-specific immunoglobulins, and lymphocyte compositions in peripheral lymphoid organs, were evaluated in mice following development of contact dermatitis. We found that administration of all three estrogens elicited strong inhibition of DNCB-induced dermatitis, while E3 exerted the strongest suppressive effect. Administration of E3 alleviated dermatitis, and this effect was accompanied by decreases in serum DNCB-specific immunoglobulins, such as IgA, IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b. Besides, treatment with E3 reduced B cell population, especially IgG-producing cells in the peripheral lymphoid organs following the induction of dermatitis. These observations consistently suggest that the antibody (Ab)-mediated humoral immune reactions play a critical role in the pathogenesis of DNCB-induced contact dermatitis. The results from this study demonstrate, for the first time, that estrogen administration has a strong suppressive effect on the pathogenesis of contact dermatitis. These findings offer important insights concerning the pathogenic role of antigen-specific Abs in contact dermatitis and the treatment of chemical-induced, Ab-mediated skin hypersensitivity reactions in humans.

Open access

Renea A Taylor, Jennifer Lo, Natasha Ascui, and Matthew J Watt

The global epidemic of obesity is closely linked to the development of serious co-morbidities, including many forms of cancer. Epidemiological evidence consistently shows that obesity is associated with a similar or mildly increased incidence of prostate cancer but, more prominently, an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer and prostate cancer-specific mortality. Studies in mice demonstrate that obesity induced by high-fat feeding increases prostate cancer progression; however, the mechanisms underpinning this relationship remain incompletely understood. Adipose tissue expansion in obesity leads to local tissue dysfunction and is associated with low-grade inflammation, alterations in endocrine function and changes in lipolysis that result in increased delivery of fatty acids to tissues of the body. The human prostate gland is covered anteriorly by the prominent peri-prostatic adipose tissue and laterally by smaller adipose tissue depots that lie directly adjacent to the prostatic surface. We discuss how the close association between dysfunctional adipose tissue and prostate epithelial cells might result in bi-directional communication to cause increased prostate cancer aggressiveness and progression. However, the literature indicates that several ‘mainstream’ hypotheses regarding obesity-related drivers of prostate cancer progression are not yet supported by a solid evidence base and, in particular, are not supported by experiments using human tissue. Understanding the links between obesity and prostate cancer will have major implications for the health policy for men with prostate cancer and the development of new therapeutic or preventative strategies.

Open access

Angelo Maria Patti, Kalliopi Pafili, Nikolaos Papanas, and Manfredi Rizzo

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger gestational diabetes (GDM), which is constantly increasing. Its main characteristic is pronounced insulin resistance, but it appears to be a multifactorial process involving several metabolic factors; taken together, the latter leads to silent or clinically evident cardiovascular (CV) events. Insulin resistance and central adiposity are of crucial importance in the development of metabolic syndrome, and they appear to correlate with CV risk factors, including hypertension and atherogenic dyslipidaemia. Hypertensive disease of pregnancy (HDP) is more likely to be an accompanying co-morbidity in pregnancies complicated with GDM. There is still inconsistent evidence as to whether or not co-existent GDM and HDP have a synergistic effects on postpartum risk of cardiometabolic disease; however, this synergism is becoming more accepted since both these conditions may promote endothelial inflammation and early atherosclerosis. Regardless of the presence or absence of the synergism between GDM and HDP, these conditions need to be dealt early enough, in order to reduce CV morbidity and to improve health outcomes for both women and their offspring.

Open access

Karim Gariani, Geneviève Drifte, Irène Dunn-Siegrist, Jérôme Pugin, and François R Jornayvaz

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a key regulator in glucose and lipid metabolism and its plasma levels have been shown to be increased not only in humans in different situations such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease but also in animal models of sepsis and pancreatitis. FGF21 is considered as a pharmacological candidate in conditions associated with insulin resistance. The aim of this study was to compare FGF21 plasma levels in patients with sepsis, in patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and in healthy controls. We measured FGF21 plasma concentrations in 22 patients with established sepsis, in 11 with SIRS, and in 12 healthy volunteers. Here, we show that FGF21 levels were significantly higher in plasma obtained from patients with sepsis and SIRS in comparison with healthy controls. Also, FGF21 levels were significantly higher in patients with sepsis than in those with noninfectious SIRS. FGF21 plasma levels measured at study entry correlated positively with the APACHE II score, but not with procalcitonin levels, nor with C-reactive protein, classical markers of sepsis. Plasma concentrations of FGF21 peaked near the onset of shock and rapidly decreased with clinical improvement. Taken together, these results indicate that circulating levels of FGF21 are increased in patients presenting with sepsis and SIRS, and suggest a role for FGF21 in inflammation. Further studies are needed to explore the potential role of FGF21 in sepsis as a potential therapeutic target.

Open access

Stavroula A Paschou, Nektaria Papadopoulou-Marketou, George P Chrousos, and Christina Kanaka-Gantenbein

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) results from the autoimmune destruction of β cells of the endocrine pancreas. Pathogenesis of T1DM is different from that of type 2 diabetes mellitus, where both insulin resistance and reduced secretion of insulin by the β cells play a synergistic role. We will present genetic, environmental and immunologic factors that destroy β cells of the endocrine pancreas and lead to insulin deficiency. The process of autoimmune destruction takes place in genetically susceptible individuals under the triggering effect of one or more environmental factors and usually progresses over a period of many months to years, during which period patients are asymptomatic and euglycemic, but positive for relevant autoantibodies. Symptomatic hyperglycemia and frank diabetes occur after a long latency period, which reflects the large percentage of β cells that need to be destroyed before overt diabetes become evident.

Open access

Nancy J Olsen, Ann L Benko, and William J Kovacs

Clinical and experimental evidence support a role for gonadal steroids in modulating the expression and course of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Whether or not inherited variation in sensitivity to circulating androgenic hormones could influence the manifestations of such disease is, however, unknown. We sought to determine whether differences in androgen sensitivity conferred by variation in the exon 1 CAG repeat region of the androgen receptor (AR) gene were associated with differences in the clinical or humoral immune manifestations of lupus in a cohort of female subjects. We found that shorter AR CAG repeat lengths in lupus subjects correlated with a higher Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index score, higher ANA levels, and expression of a broader array of IgG autoantibodies. Our findings of more severe clinical manifestations and more exuberant humoral autoimmunity in women with a shorter AR exon 1 CAG repeat length suggest a role for genetically determined sensitivity to androgens as a modulator of autoimmune processes.

Open access

Weiwei He, Bin Wang, Kaida Mu, Jing Zhang, Yanping Yang, Wei Yao, Sheli Li, and Jin-an Zhang

Background

Accumulating data have shown that interleukin-27 (IL27) polymorphisms are linked to the susceptibility of some autoimmune diseases. We assessed whether there was an association between three single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of IL27 gene and autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs).

Methods

Three SNPs (rs153109, rs17855750 and rs181206) of IL27 gene were genotyped by Hi-SNP high-throughput genotyping in 843 patients with AITDs (516 Graves’ disease (GD) and 327 Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT)) and 677 healthy controls in Chinese Han population.

Results

Compared with controls, rs153109 displayed significant associations with GD in allele and genotype frequencies (P = 0.002 and P = 0.008, respectively) and rs17855750 displayed significant associations with HT in allele frequencies (P = 0.02), whereas no differences in genotype or allele frequencies were found between AITD patients and controls at rs181206.

Conclusion

Our study, for the first time, showed the significant association of the IL27 gene SNPs with AITD.

Open access

Aaron Lerner, Patricia Jeremias, and Torsten Matthias

Autoimmune thyroiditis has an increased prevalence in patients with celiac disease and vice versa. The objective of the current review is to highlight the epidemiological, clinical, serological, pathological, pathophysiological, hormonal, genetic and immunological factors shared between the two entities. They might represent the two ends of the gut-thyroid axis where the cross-talks’ pathways are still unravelled. New observations are reviewed, highlighting some gut-thyroid interrelated pathways that potentially might lead to new therapeutic strategies.

Open access

Peter Ergang, Anna Mikulecká, Martin Vodicˇka, Karla Vagnerová, Ivan Mikšík, and Jirˇí Pácha

Stress is an important risk factors for human diseases. It activates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and increases plasma glucocorticoids, which are powerful regulators of immune system. The response of the target cells to glucocorticoids depends not only on the plasma concentrations of cortisol and corticosterone but also on their local metabolism. This metabolism is catalyzed by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases type 1 and 2, which interconvert glucocorticoid hormones cortisol and corticosterone and their 11-oxo metabolites cortisone and 11-dehydrocorticosterone. The goal of this study was to determine whether stress modulates glucocorticoid metabolism within lymphoid organs – the structures where immune cells undergo development and activation. Using the resident-intruder paradigm, we studied the effect of social stress on glucocorticoid metabolism in primary and secondary lymphoid organs of Fisher 344 (F344) and Lewis (LEW) rats, which exhibit marked differences in their HPA axis response to social stressors and inflammation. We show that repeated social defeat increased the regeneration of corticosterone from 11-dehydrocorticosterone in the thymus, spleen and mesenteric lymphatic nodes (MLN). Compared with the F344 strain, LEW rats showed higher corticosterone regeneration in splenocytes of unstressed rats and in thymic and MLN mobile cells after stress but corticosterone regeneration in the stroma of all lymphoid organs was similar in both strains. Inactivation of corticosterone to 11-dehydrocorticosterone was found only in the stroma of lymphoid organs but not in mobile lymphoid cells and was not upregulated by stress. Together, our findings demonstrate the tissue- and strain-dependent regeneration of glucocorticoids following social stress.

Open access

Estíbaliz Castillero, Ana Isabel Martín, Maria Paz Nieto-Bona, Carmen Fernández-Galaz, María López-Menduiña, María Ángeles Villanúa, and Asunción López-Calderón

Chronic inflammation induces skeletal muscle wasting and cachexia. In arthritic rats, fenofibrate, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα (PPARA)) agonist, reduces wasting of gastrocnemius, a predominantly glycolytic muscle, by decreasing atrogenes and myostatin. Considering that fenofibrate increases fatty acid oxidation, the aim of this study was to elucidate whether fenofibrate is able to prevent the effect of arthritis on serum adipokines and on soleus, a type I muscle in which oxidative metabolism is the dominant source of energy. Arthritis was induced by injection of Freund's adjuvant. Four days after the injection, control and arthritic rats were gavaged daily with fenofibrate (300 mg/kg bw) or vehicle over 12 days. Arthritis decreased serum leptin, adiponectin, and insulin (P<0.01) but not resistin levels. In arthritic rats, fenofibrate administration increased serum concentrations of leptin and adiponectin. Arthritis decreased soleus weight, cross-sectional area, fiber size, and its Ppar α mRNA expression. In arthritic rats, fenofibrate increased soleus weight, fiber size, and Ppar α expression and prevented the increase in Murf1 mRNA. Fenofibrate decreased myostatin, whereas it increased MyoD (Myod1) and myogenin expressions in the soleus of control and arthritic rats. These data suggest that in oxidative muscle, fenofibrate treatment is able to prevent arthritis-induced muscle wasting by decreasing Murf1 and myostatin expression and also by increasing the myogenic regulatory factors, MyoD and myogenin. Taking into account the beneficial action of adiponectin on muscle wasting and the correlation between adiponectin and soleus mass, part of the anticachectic action of fenofibrate may be mediated through stimulation of adiponectin secretion.