BACKGROUND. Sporadic vascular malformations (VMs) are complex congenital anomalies of blood vessels that lead to stroke, life-threatening bleeds, disfigurement, overgrowth, and/or pain. Therapeutic options are severely limited and multi-disciplinary management remains challenging, particularly for high-flow arteriovenous malformations (AVM). METHODS. To investigate the pathogenesis of sporadic intracranial and extracranial VMs in 160 children in which known genetic causes had been excluded, we sequenced DNA from affected tissue and optimised analysis for detection of low mutant allele frequency. RESULTS. We discovered multiple mosaic activating variants in four genes of the RAS-MAPK pathway, KRAS, NRAS, BRAF, and MAP2K1, a pathway commonly activated in cancer and responsible for the germ-line RAS-opathies. These variants were more frequent in high-flow than low-flow VMs. In vitro characterisation and two transgenic zebrafish AVM models which recapitulated the human phenotype validated the pathogenesis of the mutant alleles. Importantly, treatment of AVM-BRAF mutant zebrafish with the BRAF inihibitor, Vemurafinib, restored blood flow in AVM. CONCLUSIONS. Our findings uncover a major cause of sporadic vascular malformations of different clinical types, and thereby offer the potential of personalised medical treatment by repurposing existing licensed cancer therapies. FUNDING. This work was funded or supported by grants from AVM Butterfly Charity, the Wellcome Trust (UK), the Medical Research Council (UK), the UK National Institute for Health Research, L’Oreal-Melanoma Research Alliance, the European Research Council, and the National Human Genome Research (US).
Lara Al-Olabi, Satyamaanasa Polubothu, Katherine Dowsett, Katrina A. Andrews, Paulina Stadnik, Agnel P. Joseph, Rachel Knox, Alan Pittman, Graeme Clark, William Baird, Neil Bulstrode, Mary Glover, Kristiana Gordon, Darren Hargrave, Susan M. Huson, Thomas S. Jacques, Gregory James, Hannah Kondolf, Loshan Kangesu, Kim M. Keppler-Noreuil, Amjad Khan, Marjorie J. Lindhurst, Mark Lipson, Sahar Mansour, Justine O'Hara, Caroline Mahon, Anda Mosica, Celia Moss, Aditi Murthy, Juling Ong, Victoria E. Parker, Jean-Baptiste Rivière, Julie C. Sapp, Neil J. Sebire, Rahul Shah, Branavan Sivakumar, Anna Thomas, Alex Virasami, Regula Waelchli, Zhiqiang Zeng, Leslie G. Biesecker, Alex Barnacle, Maya Topf, Robert K. Semple, E. Elizabeth Patton, Veronica A. Kinsler
BACKGROUND. The link between mucus plugs and airflow obstruction has not been established in chronic severe asthma, and the role of eosinophils and their products in mucus plug formation is unknown. METHODS. In clinical studies, we developed and applied a bronchopulmonary segment–based scoring system to quantify mucus plugs on multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) lung scans from 146 subjects with asthma and 22 controls, and analyzed relationships among mucus plug scores, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and airway eosinophils. Additionally, we used airway mucus gel models to explore whether oxidants generated by eosinophil peroxidase (EPO) oxidize cysteine thiol groups to promote mucus plug formation. RESULTS. Mucus plugs occurred in at least 1 of 20 lung segments in 58% of subjects with asthma and in only 4.5% of controls, and the plugs in subjects with asthma persisted in the same segment for years. A high mucus score (plugs in ≥ 4 segments) occurred in 67% of subjects with asthma with FEV1 of less than 60% of predicted volume, 19% with FEV1 of 60%–80%, and 6% with FEV1 greater than 80% (P < 0.001) and was associated with marked increases in sputum eosinophils and EPO. EPO catalyzed oxidation of thiocyanate and bromide by H2O2 to generate oxidants that crosslink cysteine thiol groups and stiffen thiolated hydrogels. CONCLUSION. Mucus plugs are a plausible mechanism of chronic airflow obstruction in severe asthma, and EPO-generated oxidants may mediate mucus plug formation. We propose an approach for quantifying airway mucus plugging using MDCT lung scans and suggest that treating mucus plugs may improve airflow in chronic severe asthma. TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01718197, NCT01606826, NCT01750411, NCT01761058, NCT01761630, NCT01759186, NCT01716494, and NCT01760915. FUNDING. NIH grants P01 HL107201, R01 HL080414, U10 HL109146, U10 HL109164, U10 HL109172, U10 HL109086, U10 HL109250, U10 HL109168, U10 HL109257, U10 HL109152, and P01 HL107202 and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grants UL1TR0000427, UL1TR000448, and KL2TR000428.
Eleanor M. Dunican, Brett M. Elicker, David S. Gierada, Scott K. Nagle, Mark L. Schiebler, John D. Newell, Wilfred W. Raymond, Marrah E. Lachowicz-Scroggins, Selena Di Maio, Eric A. Hoffman, Mario Castro, Sean B. Fain, Nizar N. Jarjour, Elliot Israel, Bruce D. Levy, Serpil C. Erzurum, Sally E. Wenzel, Deborah A. Meyers, Eugene R. Bleecker, Brenda R. Phillips, David T. Mauger, Erin D. Gordon, Prescott G. Woodruff, Michael C. Peters, John V. Fahy, The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP)
BACKGROUND. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte–mediated (CTL-mediated) severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCARs), including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), are rare but life-threatening adverse reactions commonly induced by drugs. Although high levels of CTL-associated cytokines, chemokines, or cytotoxic proteins, including TNF-α and granulysin, were observed in SJS-TEN patients in recent studies, the optimal treatment for these diseases remains controversial. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and therapeutic mechanism of a TNF-α antagonist in CTL-mediated SCARs. METHODS. We enrolled 96 patients with SJS-TEN in a randomized trial to compare the effects of the TNF-α antagonist etanercept versus traditional corticosteroids. RESULTS. Etanercept improved clinical outcomes in patients with SJS-TEN. Etanercept decreased the SCORTEN-based predicted mortality rate (predicted and observed rates, 17.7% and 8.3%, respectively). Compared with corticosteroids, etanercept further reduced the skin-healing time in moderate-to-severe SJS-TEN patients (median time for skin healing was 14 and 19 days for etanercept and corticosteroids, respectively; P = 0.010), with a lower incidence of gastrointestinal hemorrhage in all SJS-TEN patients (2.6% for etanercept and 18.2% for corticosteroids; P = 0.03). In the therapeutic mechanism study, etanercept decreased the TNF-α and granulysin secretions in blister fluids and plasma (45.7%–62.5% decrease after treatment; all P < 0.05) and increased the Treg population (2-fold percentage increase after treatment; P = 0.002), which was related to mortality in severe SJS-TEN. CONCLUSIONS. The anti–TNF-α biologic agent etanercept serves as an effective alternative for the treatment of CTL-mediated SCARs. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01276314. FUNDING. Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan.
Chuang-Wei Wang, Lan-Yan Yang, Chun-Bing Chen, Hsin-Chun Ho, Shuen-Iu Hung, Chih-Hsun Yang, Chee-Jen Chang, Shih-Chi Su, Rosaline Chung-Yee Hui, See-Wen Chin, Li-Fang Huang, Yang Yu-Wei Lin, Wei-Yang Chang, Wen-Lang Fan, Chin-Yi Yang, Ji-Chen Ho, Ya-Ching Chang, Chun-Wei Lu, Wen-Hung Chung, the Taiwan Severe Cutaneous Adverse Reaction (TSCAR) Consortium
BACKGROUND. Drugs and vaccines that can interrupt the transmission of Plasmodium falciparum will be important for malaria control and elimination. However, models for early clinical evaluation of candidate transmission-blocking interventions are currently unavailable. Here we describe a new model for evaluating malaria transmission from humans to Anopheles mosquitoes using controlled human malaria infection (CHMI). METHODS. Seventeen healthy malaria-naïve volunteers underwent CHMI by intravenous inoculation of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes to initiate blood-stage infection. Seven to eight days after inoculation participants received piperaquine (480 mg) to attenuate asexual parasite replication while allowing gametocytes to develop and mature. Primary endpoints were development of gametocytemia, the transmissibility of gametocytes from humans to mosquitoes, and the safety and tolerability of the CHMI transmission model. To investigate in-vivo gametocytocidal drug activity in this model, participants were either given an experimental antimalarial, artefenomel (500 mg), a known gametocytocidal drug, primaquine (15 mg), or remained untreated during the period of gametocyte carriage. RESULTS. Male and female gametocytes were detected in all participants, and transmission to mosquitoes was achieved from 8/11 (73%) participants evaluated. Compared to untreated controls (n = 7), primaquine (15 mg, n = 5) significantly reduced gametocyte burden (P = 0.01), while artefenomel (500 mg, n = 4) had no effect. Adverse events (AEs) were mostly mild or moderate. Three AEs were assessed as severe — fatigue, elevated alanine aminotransferase, and elevated aspartate aminotransferase — and were attributed to malaria infection. Transaminase elevations were transient, asymptomatic, and resolved without intervention. CONCLUSION. We report the safe and reproducible induction of P. falciparum gametocytes in healthy malaria-naïve volunteers at densities infectious to mosquitoes, thereby demonstrating the potential for evaluating transmission-blocking interventions in this model. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02431637 and NCT02431650 FUNDING. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Katharine A. Collins, Claire Y.T. Wang, Matthew Adams, Hayley Mitchell, Melanie Rampton, Suzanne Elliott, Isaie J. Reuling, Teun Bousema, Robert Sauerwein, Stephan Chalon, Jörg J. Möhrle, James S. McCarthy
BACKGROUND. Amongst non-diabetic individuals, mild glucose decrements alter brain activity in regions linked to reward, motivation and executive control. Whether these effects differ in T1DM patients with and without hypoglycemia awareness remains unclear. METHODS. 42 individuals (13 healthy control subjects (HC), 16 T1DM individuals with hypoglycemia awareness (T1DM-Aware) and 13 T1DM individuals with hypoglycemia unawareness (T1DM-Unaware)) underwent BOLD fMRI brain imaging during a 2-step hyperinsulinemic euglycemic (90 mg/dl)-hypoglycemic (60 mg/dl) clamp for assessment of neural responses to mild hypoglycemia. RESULTS. Mild hypoglycemia in HC altered activity in the caudate, insula, prefrontal cortex, and angular gyrus, whereas T1DM-Aware subjects showed no caudate and insula changes, but showed altered activation patterns in the prefrontal cortex and angular gyrus. Most strikingly, in direct contrast to HC and T1DM-Aware subjects, T1DM-Unaware subjects failed to show any hypoglycemia-induced changes in brain activity. These findings were also associated with blunted hormonal counterregulatory responses and hypoglycemia symptoms scores during mild hypoglycemia. CONCLUSION. In T1DM, and in particular T1DM-Unaware patients, there is a progressive blunting of brain responses in cortico-striatal and fronto-parietal neurocircuits in response to mild-moderate hypoglycemia. These findings have implications for understanding why individuals with impaired hypoglycemia awareness fail to respond appropriately to falling blood glucose levels. FUNDING. This study was supported in part by grants from the NIH R01DK020495 and P30 DK045735 (Sherwin), K23DK109284 (Hwang), K08AA023545 (Seo), the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation supported by the Clinical Translational Science Award (UL1 RR024139).
Janice Jin Hwang, Lisa Parikh, Cheryl Lacadie, Dongju Seo, Wai Lam, Muhammad Hamza, Christian Schmidt, Feng Dai, Anne-Sophie Sejling, Renata Belfort-DeAguiar, R. Todd Constable, Rajita Sinha, Robert Sherwin
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
BACKGROUND. Targeting CD30 with monoclonal antibodies in Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) has had profound clinical success. However, adverse events, mainly mediated by the toxin component of the conjugated antibodies, cause treatment discontinuation in many patients. Targeting CD30 with T cells expressing a CD30-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) may reduce the side effects and augment antitumor activity. METHODS. We conducted a phase I dose escalation study in which 9 patients with relapsed/refractory HL or ALCL were infused with autologous T cells that were gene-modified with a retroviral vector to express the CD30-specific CAR (CD30.CAR-Ts) encoding the CD28 costimulatory endodomain. Three dose levels, from 0.2 × 108 to 2 × 108 CD30.CAR-Ts/m2, were infused without a conditioning regimen. All other therapy for malignancy was discontinued at least 4 weeks before CD30.CAR-T infusion. Seven patients had previously experienced disease progression while being treated with brentuximab. RESULTS. No toxicities attributable to CD30.CAR-Ts were observed. Of 7 patients with relapsed HL, 1 entered complete response (CR) lasting more than 2.5 years after the second infusion of CD30.CAR-Ts, 1 remained in continued CR for almost 2 years, and 3 had transient stable disease. Of 2 patients with ALCL, 1 had a CR that persisted 9 months after the fourth infusion of CD30.CAR-Ts. CD30.CAR-T expansion in peripheral blood peaked 1 week after infusion, and CD30.CAR-Ts remained detectable for over 6 weeks. Although CD30 may also be expressed by normal activated T cells, no patients developed impaired virus-specific immunity. CONCLUSION. CD30.CAR-Ts are safe and can lead to clinical responses in patients with HL and ALCL, indicating that further assessment of this therapy is warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01316146. FUNDING. National Cancer Institute (3P50CA126752, R01CA131027 and P30CA125123), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01HL114564), and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLSTR 6227-08).
Carlos A. Ramos, Brandon Ballard, Huimin Zhang, Olga Dakhova, Adrian P. Gee, Zhuyong Mei, Mrinalini Bilgi, Meng-Fen Wu, Hao Liu, Bambi Grilley, Catherine M. Bollard, Bill H. Chang, Cliona M. Rooney, Malcolm K. Brenner, Helen E. Heslop, Gianpietro Dotti, Barbara Savoldo
BACKGROUND. The tumor immune response is increasingly associated with better clinical outcomes in breast and other cancers. However, the evaluation of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) relies on histopathological measurements with limited accuracy and reproducibility. Here, we profiled DNA methylation markers to identify a methylation of TIL (MeTIL) signature that recapitulates TIL evaluations and their prognostic value for long-term outcomes in breast cancer (BC). METHODS. MeTIL signature scores were correlated with clinical endpoints reflecting overall or disease-free survival and a pathologic complete response to preoperative anthracycline therapy in 3 BC cohorts from the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels and in other cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas. RESULTS. The MeTIL signature measured TIL distributions in a sensitive manner and predicted survival and response to chemotherapy in BC better than did histopathological assessment of TILs or gene expression–based immune markers, respectively. The MeTIL signature also improved the prediction of survival in other malignancies, including melanoma and lung cancer. Furthermore, the MeTIL signature predicted differences in survival for malignancies in which TILs were not known to have a prognostic value. Finally, we showed that MeTIL markers can be determined by bisulfite pyrosequencing of small amounts of DNA from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue, supporting clinical applications for this methodology. CONCLUSIONS. This study highlights the power of DNA methylation to evaluate tumor immune responses and the potential of this approach to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast and other cancers. FUNDING. This work was funded by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and Télévie, the INNOVIRIS Brussels Region BRUBREAST Project, the IUAP P7/03 program, the Belgian “Foundation against Cancer,” the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), and the Fonds Gaston Ithier.
Jana Jeschke, Martin Bizet, Christine Desmedt, Emilie Calonne, Sarah Dedeurwaerder, Soizic Garaud, Alexander Koch, Denis Larsimont, Roberto Salgado, Gert Van den Eynden, Karen Willard Gallo, Gianluca Bontempi, Matthieu Defrance, Christos Sotiriou, François Fuks
BACKGROUND. Ibrutinib has been shown to have immunomodulatory effects by inhibiting Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) and IL-2–inducible T cell kinase (ITK). The relative importance of inhibiting these 2 kinases has not been examined despite its relevance to immune-based therapies. METHODS. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients on clinical trials of ibrutinib (BTK/ITK inhibitor; n = 19) or acalabrutinib (selective BTK inhibitor; n = 13) were collected serially. T cell phenotype, immune function, and CLL cell immunosuppressive capacity were evaluated. RESULTS. Ibrutinib markedly increased CD4+ and CD8+ T cell numbers in CLL patients. This effect was more prominent in effector/effector memory subsets and was not observed with acalabrutinib. Ex vivo studies demonstrated that this may be due to diminished activation-induced cell death through ITK inhibition. PD-1 and CTLA-4 expression was significantly markedly reduced in T cells by both agents. While the number of Treg cells remained unchanged, the ratio of these to conventional CD4+ T cells was reduced with ibrutinib, but not acalabrutinib. Both agents reduced expression of the immunosuppressive molecules CD200 and BTLA as well as IL-10 production by CLL cells. CONCLUSIONS. Ibrutinib treatment increased the in vivo persistence of activated T cells, decreased the Treg/CD4+ T cell ratio, and diminished the immune-suppressive properties of CLL cells through BTK-dependent and -independent mechanisms. These features provide a strong rationale for combination immunotherapy approaches with ibrutinib in CLL and other cancers. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01589302 and NCT02029443. Samples described here were collected per OSU-0025. FUNDING. The National Cancer Institute.
Meixiao Long, Kyle Beckwith, Priscilla Do, Bethany L. Mundy, Amber Gordon, Amy M. Lehman, Kami J. Maddocks, Carolyn Cheney, Jeffrey A. Jones, Joseph M. Flynn, Leslie A. Andritsos, Farrukh Awan, Joseph A. Fraietta, Carl H. June, Marcela V. Maus, Jennifer A. Woyach, Michael A. Caligiuri, Amy J. Johnson, Natarajan Muthusamy, John C. Byrd
BACKGROUND. The histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor vorinostat (VOR) can increase HIV RNA expression in vivo within resting CD4+ T cells of aviremic HIV+ individuals. However, while studies of VOR or other HDAC inhibitors have reported reversal of latency, none has demonstrated clearance of latent infection. We sought to identify the optimal dosing of VOR for effective serial reversal of HIV latency. METHODS. In a study of 16 HIV-infected, aviremic individuals, we measured resting CD4+ T cell–associated HIV RNA ex vivo and in vivo following a single exposure to VOR, and then in vivo after a pair of doses separated by 48 or 72 hours, and finally following a series of 10 doses given at 72-hour intervals. RESULTS. Serial VOR exposures separated by 72 hours most often resulted in an increase in cell-associated HIV RNA within circulating resting CD4+ T cells. VOR was well tolerated by all participants. However, despite serial reversal of latency over 1 month of VOR dosing, we did not observe a measurable decrease (>0.3 log10) in the frequency of latent infection within resting CD4+ T cells. CONCLUSIONS. These findings outline parameters for the experimental use of VOR to clear latent infection. Latency reversal can be achieved by VOR safely and repeatedly, but effective depletion of persistent HIV infection will require additional advances. In addition to improvements in latency reversal, these advances may include the sustained induction of potent antiviral immune responses capable of recognizing and clearing the rare cells in which HIV latency has been reversed. TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01319383. FUNDING. NIH grants U01 AI095052, AI50410, and P30 CA016086 and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grant KL2 TR001109.
Nancie M. Archin, Jennifer L. Kirchherr, Julia A.M. Sung, Genevieve Clutton, Katherine Sholtis, Yinyan Xu, Brigitte Allard, Erin Stuelke, Angela D. Kashuba, Joann D. Kuruc, Joseph Eron, Cynthia L. Gay, Nilu Goonetilleke, David M. Margolis
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