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Tian B, Al-Moujahed A, Bouzika P, Hu Y, Notomi S, Tsoka P, Miller JW, Lin H, Vavvas DG. Atorvastatin Promotes Phagocytosis and Attenuates Pro-Inflammatory Response in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. Sci Rep 2017;7(1):2329.Abstract
Phagocytosis of daily shed photoreceptor outer segments is an important function of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and it is essential for retinal homeostasis. RPE dysfunction, especially impairment of its phagocytic ability, plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Statins, or HMG CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A) reductase inhibitors, are drugs with multiple properties that have been extensively used to treat hyperlipidemia. However, their effect on RPE cells has not been fully elucidated. Here we report that high dose atorvastatin increased the phagocytic function of ARPE-19 cells, as well as rescue the cells from the phagocytic dysfunction induced by cholesterol crystals and oxidized low-density lipoproteins (ox-LDL), potentially by increasing the cellular membrane fluidity. Similar effects were observed when evaluating two other hydrophobic statins, lovastatin and simvastatin. Furthermore, atorvastatin was able to block the induction of interleukins IL-6 and IL-8 triggered by pathologic stimuli relevant to AMD, such as cholesterol crystals and ox-LDL. Our study shows that statins, a well-tolerated class of drugs with rare serious adverse effects, help preserve the phagocytic function of the RPE while also exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties. Both characteristics make statins a potential effective medication for the prevention and treatment of AMD.
Wiggs JL, Pasquale LR. Genetics of Glaucoma. Hum Mol Genet 2017;Abstract
Genetic and genomic studies, including genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have accelerated the discovery of genes contributing to glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide. Glaucoma can occur at all ages, with Mendelian inheritance typical for rare early onset disease (before age 40) and complex inheritance evident in common adult-onset forms of disease. Recent studies have suggested possible therapeutic targets for some patients with early-onset glaucoma based on the molecular and cellular events caused by MYOC, OPTN and TBK1 mutations. Diagnostic genetic tests using early-onset glaucoma genes are also proving useful for pre-symptomatic disease detection and genetic counseling. Recent GWAS completed for three types of common adult-onset glaucoma have identified novel loci for POAG (primary-open-angle glaucoma) (ABCA1, AFAP1, GMDS, PMM2, TGFBR3, FNDC3B, ARHGEF12, GAS7, FOXC1, ATXN2, TXNRD2); PACG (primary angle-closure glaucoma (EPDR1, CHAT, GLIS3, FERMT2, DPM2-FAM102); and exfoliation syndrome (XFS) glaucoma (CACNA1A). In total sixteen genomic regions have been associated with POAG (including the normal tension glaucoma (NTG) subgroup), 8 with PACG and 2 with XFS. These studies are defining important biological pathways and processes that contribute to disease pathogenesis.
Wang T, Huang T, Kang JH, Zheng Y, Jensen MK, Wiggs JL, Pasquale LR, Fuchs CS, Campos H, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB, Qi L. Habitual coffee consumption and genetic predisposition to obesity: gene-diet interaction analyses in three US prospective studies. BMC Med 2017;15(1):97.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Whether habitual coffee consumption interacts with the genetic predisposition to obesity in relation to body mass index (BMI) and obesity is unknown. METHODS: We analyzed the interactions between genetic predisposition and habitual coffee consumption in relation to BMI and obesity risk in 5116 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), in 9841 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), and in 5648 women from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The genetic risk score was calculated based on 77 BMI-associated loci. Coffee consumption was examined prospectively in relation to BMI. RESULTS: The genetic association with BMI was attenuated among participants with higher consumption of coffee than among those with lower consumption in the HPFS (P interaction  = 0.023) and NHS (P interaction  = 0.039); similar results were replicated in the WHI (P interaction  = 0.044). In the combined data of all cohorts, differences in BMI per increment of 10-risk allele were 1.38 (standard error (SE), 0.28), 1.02 (SE, 0.10), and 0.95 (SE, 0.12) kg/m(2) for coffee consumption of < 1, 1-3 and > 3 cup(s)/day, respectively (P interaction  < 0.001). Such interaction was partly due to slightly higher BMI with higher coffee consumption among participants at lower genetic risk and slightly lower BMI with higher coffee consumption among those at higher genetic risk. Each increment of 10-risk allele was associated with 78% (95% confidence interval (CI), 59-99%), 48% (95% CI, 36-62%), and 43% (95% CI, 28-59%) increased risk for obesity across these subgroups of coffee consumption (P interaction  = 0.008). From another perspective, differences in BMI per increment of 1 cup/day coffee consumption were 0.02 (SE, 0.09), -0.02 (SE, 0.04), and -0.14 (SE, 0.04) kg/m(2) across tertiles of the genetic risk score. CONCLUSIONS: Higher coffee consumption might attenuate the genetic associations with BMI and obesity risk, and individuals with greater genetic predisposition to obesity appeared to have lower BMI associated with higher coffee consumption.
Ying Y, Ueta T, Jiang S, Lin H, Wang Y, Vavvas D, Wen R, Chen Y-G, Luo Z. Metformin inhibits ALK1-mediated angiogenesis via activation of AMPK. Oncotarget 2017;8(20):32794-32806.Abstract
Anti-VEGF therapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of pathological angiogenesis. However, therapy resistance often occurs, leading to development of alternative approaches. The present study examines if AMPK negatively regulates ALK1-mediated signaling events and associated angiogenesis. Thus, we treated human umbilical vein endothelial cells with metformin as well as other pharmacological AMPK activators and showed that activation of AMPK inhibited Smad1/5 phosphorylation and tube formation induced by BMP9. This event was mimicked by expression of the active mutant of AMPKα1 and prevented by the dominant negative AMPKα1. Metformin inhibition of BMP9 signaling is possibly mediated by upregulation of Smurf1, leading to degradation of ALK1. Furthermore, metformin suppressed BMP9-induced angiogenesis in mouse matrigel plug. In addition, laser photocoagulation was employed to evaluate the effect of metformin. The data revealed that metformin significantly reduced choroidal neovascularization to a level comparable to LDN212854, an ALK1 specific inhibitor. In conjunction, metformin diminished expression of ALK1 in endothelium of the lesion area. Collectively, our study for the first time demonstrates that AMPK inhibits ALK1 and associated angiogenesis/neovascularization. This may offer us a new avenue for the treatment of related diseases using clinically used pharmacological AMPK activators like metformin in combination with other strategies to enhance the treatment efficacy or in the case of anti-VEGF resistance.
Phanphruk W, Alkharashi M, Bilge A, Hunter DG. Sedated suture adjustment in children undergoing adjustable-suture strabismus surgery. J AAPOS 2017;Abstract
PURPOSE: To study methods and adverse events of postoperative, sedated suture adjustment after strabismus surgery in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). METHODS: We reviewed the postoperative experience of all children ≤18 years of age undergoing adjustable suture strabismus surgery at Boston Children's Hospital over a 3-year period. Time in the hospital, adverse events, and surgical outcomes were reviewed to evaluate safety and healthcare resource utilization. RESULTS: Of 356 patients, 113 required suture adjustment in the PACU, including 24 adjusted while awake and 89 adjusted under sedation. For sedation, sequential boluses of propofol were administered until adjustment was complete. Complete data from the sedated adjustment was available in 76 patients. The median initial bolus was 30 mg; the median total propofol rate was 273 mcg/kg/min. Twelve patients (16%) required only a single bolus of propofol. Of remaining 64 patients, median time from initial to final propofol dose was 7 minutes. Median anesthesiologist time in the PACU was 13 minutes. In the sedated adjustment group, there were no clinically significant adverse events, and the pain score never exceeded 6 (of a possible 10). Median duration of PACU stay was shortest in the group not requiring adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: Sedated suture adjustment allows for fine-tuning of postoperative binocular alignment in children and uncooperative adults. No adverse events were observed in our study group, but the procedure does increase the time patients spend in the hospital. This work will inform disclosure of risks and benefits of sedated adjustment while allowing for more accurate assessment of the cost and quality of adjustable sutures in children.
Satitpitakul V, Kheirkhah A, Crnej A, Hamrah P, Dana R. Determinants of Ocular Pain Severity in Patients With Dry Eye Disease. Am J Ophthalmol 2017;179:198-204.Abstract
PURPOSE: To quantify the severity of ocular pain in patients with dry eye disease (DED) and evaluate factors associated with pain severity. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. METHODS: Eighty-four patients with DED were asked to score their severity level of ocular pain using a 10-point scale, with 10 indicating the most severe pain. All patients also had a comprehensive ophthalmic assessment including a detailed history, Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaire, and ocular surface examination. Regression analysis was used to determine the factors associated with ocular pain severity. RESULTS: The mean OSDI score was 45.6 ± 23.1. At least some degree of ocular pain (score >1) was reported by 88.1% of patients, including mild pain (scores 2-4) in 46.4%, moderate pain (scores 5-7) in 34.5%, and severe pain (scores 8-10) in 7.1% of patients. Ocular pain levels significantly correlated with the OSDI score (rs = 0.49, P < .001). Regression analysis showed that the severity of ocular pain had a significant association with use of antidepressant medications (P = .045) but not with tear breakup time, corneal fluorescein staining, or ocular medications used by patients. In patients without pain, a significant correlation was seen between OSDI and corneal fluorescein staining scores (rs = 0.67, P = .01). However, such a correlation was not observed in those with ocular pain. CONCLUSIONS: A majority of patients with DED report some degree of ocular pain, which correlates only moderately with the OSDI score. Severity of ocular pain correlates with nonocular comorbidities such as use of antidepressant medications rather than with clinical signs of DED.
Lonfat N, Cepko C. Epigenomics of Retinal Development in Mice and Humans. Neuron 2017;94(3):420-423.Abstract
In this issue of Neuron, Aldiri et al. (2017) present an analysis of epigenetic changes during retinal development, and use these data to probe reprogramming of retinal iPSC cells, as well as the origin of retinoblastoma cells.
Sun Y, Lin Z, Liu C-H, Gong Y, Liegl R, Fredrick TW, Meng SS, Burnim SB, Wang Z, Akula JD, Pu WT, Chen J, Smith LEH. Inflammatory signals from photoreceptor modulate pathological retinal angiogenesis via c-Fos. J Exp Med 2017;214(6):1753-1767.Abstract
Pathological neovessels growing into the normally avascular photoreceptors cause vision loss in many eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and macular telangiectasia. Ocular neovascularization is strongly associated with inflammation, but the source of inflammatory signals and the mechanisms by which these signals regulate the disruption of avascular privilege in photoreceptors are unknown. In this study, we found that c-Fos, a master inflammatory regulator, was increased in photoreceptors in a model of pathological blood vessels invading photoreceptors: the very low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (Vldlr(-/-) ) mouse. Increased c-Fos induced inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), leading to activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and increased TNFα-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3) in Vldlr(-/-) photoreceptors. IL-6 activated the STAT3/vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) pathway directly, and elevated TNFAIP3 suppressed SOCS3 (suppressor of cytokine signaling 3)-activated STAT3/VEGFA indirectly. Inhibition of c-Fos using photoreceptor-specific AAV (adeno-associated virus)-hRK (human rhodopsin kinase)-sh_c-fos or a chemical inhibitor substantially reduced the pathological neovascularization and rescued visual function in Vldlr(-/-) mice. These findings suggested that the photoreceptor c-Fos controls blood vessel growth into the normally avascular photoreceptor layer through the inflammatory signal-induced STAT3/VEGFA pathway.
Omoto M, Suri K, Amouzegar A, Li M, Katikireddy KR, Mittal SK, Chauhan SK. Hepatocyte Growth Factor Suppresses Inflammation and Promotes Epithelium Repair in Corneal Injury. Mol Ther 2017;25(8):1881-1888.Abstract
Corneal injuries are among the major causes of ocular morbidity and vision impairment. Optimal epithelial wound healing is critical for the integrity and transparency of the cornea after injury. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a mitogen and motility factor that primarily regulates epithelial cell function. Herein, we investigate the effect of HGF on proliferation of corneal epithelial cells (CECs) in inflamed conditions both in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that HGF not only promotes CEC proliferation in homeostatic conditions but also reverses the anti-proliferative effect of the inflammatory environment on these cells. Furthermore, using a mouse model of ocular injury, we show that HGF treatment suppresses ocular inflammation and actively augments CEC proliferation, leading to improved and accelerated corneal epithelial repair. These findings have potential translational implications and could provide a framework for the development of novel HGF-based therapies for corneal epithelial defects.
Saint-Geniez M, Rosales MAB. Eyeing the Fountain of Youth. Cell Stem Cell 2017;20(5):583-584.Abstract
Stem cell-based disease modeling is an emerging technology for the mechanistic study and therapeutic screening of complex ocular pathologies. In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Saini et al. (2017) show that iPSC-derived RPE cells from age-related macular degeneration patients express increased levels of pro-inflammatory factors that can be normalized by the anti-aging drug nicotinamide.
Olivares AM, Han Y, Soto D, Flattery K, Marini J, Molemma N, Haider A, Escher P, Deangelis MM, Haider NB. The nuclear hormone receptor gene Nr2c1 (Tr2) is a critical regulator of early retina cell patterning. Dev Biol 2017;429(1):343-355.Abstract
Nuclear hormone receptors play a major role in the development of many tissues. This study uncovers a novel role for testicular receptor 2 (Tr2, Nr2c1) in defining the early phase of retinal development and regulating normal retinal cell patterning and topography. The mammalian retina undergoes an overlapping yet biphasic period of development to generate all seven retinal cell types. We discovered that Nr2c1 expression coincides with development of the early retinal cells. Loss of Nr2c1 causes a severe vision deficit and impacts early, but not late retina cell types. Retinal cone cell topography is disrupted with an increase in displaced amacrine cells. Additionally, genetic background significantly impacts phenotypic outcome of cone photoreceptor cells but not amacrine cells. Chromatin-IP experiments reveal NR2C1 regulates early cell transcription factors that regulate retinal progenitor cells during development, including amacrine (Satb2) and cone photoreceptor regulators thyroid and retinoic acid receptors. This study supports a role for Nr2c1 in defining the biphasic period of retinal development and specifically influencing the early phase of retinal cell fate.
Laíns I, Duarte D, Barros AS, Martins AS, Gil J, Miller JB, Marques M, Mesquita T, Kim IK, da Cachulo ML, Vavvas D, Carreira IM, Murta JN, Silva R, Miller JW, Husain D, Gil AM. Human plasma metabolomics in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. PLoS One 2017;12(5):e0177749.Abstract
PURPOSE: To differentiate the plasma metabolomic profile of patients with age related macular degeneration (AMD) from that of controls, by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. METHODS: Two cohorts (total of 396 subjects) representative of central Portugal and Boston, USA phenotypes were studied. For each cohort, subjects were grouped according to AMD stage (early, intermediate and late). Multivariate analysis of plasma NMR spectra was performed, followed by signal integration and univariate analysis. RESULTS: Small changes were detected in the levels of some amino acids, organic acids, dimethyl sulfone and specific lipid moieties, thus providing some biochemical information on the disease. The possible confounding effects of gender, smoking history and age were assessed in each cohort and found to be minimal when compared to that of the disease. A similar observation was noted in relation to age-related comorbidities. Furthermore, partially distinct putative AMD metabolite fingerprints were noted for the two cohorts studied, reflecting the importance of nutritional and other lifestyle habits in determining AMD metabolic response and potential biomarker fingerprints. Notably, some of the metabolite changes detected were noted as potentially differentiating controls from patients diagnosed with early AMD. CONCLUSION: For the first time, this study showed metabolite changes in the plasma of patients with AMD as compared to controls, using NMR. Geographical origins were seen to affect AMD patients´ metabolic profile and some metabolites were found to be valuable in potentially differentiating controls from early stage AMD patients. Metabolomics has the potential of identifying biomarkers for AMD, and further work in this area is warranted.
Ibberson CB, Stacy A, Fleming D, Dees JL, Rumbaugh K, Gilmore MS, Whiteley M. Co-infecting microorganisms dramatically alter pathogen gene essentiality during polymicrobial infection. Nat Microbiol 2017;2:17079.Abstract
Identifying genes required by pathogens during infection is critical for antimicrobial development. Here, we use a Monte Carlo simulation-based method to analyse high-throughput transposon sequencing data to determine the role of infection site and co-infecting microorganisms on the in vivo 'essential' genome of Staphylococcus aureus. We discovered that co-infection of murine surgical wounds with Pseudomonas aeruginosa results in conversion of ∼25% of the in vivo S. aureus mono-culture essential genes to non-essential. Furthermore, 182 S. aureus genes are uniquely essential during co-infection. These 'community dependent essential' (CoDE) genes illustrate the importance of studying pathogen gene essentiality in polymicrobial communities.

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