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Malik AN, Vierbuchen T, Hemberg M, Rubin AA, Ling E, Couch CH, Stroud H, Spiegel I, Farh KK-H, Harmin DA, Greenberg ME. Genome-wide identification and characterization of functional neuronal activity-dependent enhancers. Nat Neurosci 2014;17(10):1330-9.Abstract

Experience-dependent gene transcription is required for nervous system development and function. However, the DNA regulatory elements that control this program of gene expression are not well defined. Here we characterize the enhancers that function across the genome to mediate activity-dependent transcription in mouse cortical neurons. We find that the subset of enhancers enriched for monomethylation of histone H3 Lys4 (H3K4me1) and binding of the transcriptional coactivator CREBBP (also called CBP) that shows increased acetylation of histone H3 Lys27 (H3K27ac) after membrane depolarization of cortical neurons functions to regulate activity-dependent transcription. A subset of these enhancers appears to require binding of FOS, which was previously thought to bind primarily to promoters. These findings suggest that FOS functions at enhancers to control activity-dependent gene programs that are critical for nervous system function and provide a resource of functional cis-regulatory elements that may give insight into the genetic variants that contribute to brain development and disease.

Brodowska K, Theodoropoulou S, Meyer Zu Hörste M, Paschalis EI, Takeuchi K, Scott G, Ramsey DJ, Kiernan E, Hoang M, Cichy J, Miller JW, Gragoudas ES, Vavvas DG. Effects of metformin on retinoblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. Int J Oncol 2014;45(6):2311-24.Abstract
Recent studies suggest that the anti-diabetic drug metformin may reduce the risk of cancer and have anti-proliferative effects for some but not all cancers. In this study, we examined the effects of metformin on human retinoblastoma cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Two different human retinoblastoma cell lines (Y79, WERI) were treated with metformin in vitro and xenografts of Y79 cells were established in nu/nu immune-deficient mice and used to assess the effects of pharmacological levels of metformin in vivo. Metformin inhibited proliferation of the retinoblastoma cells in vitro. Similar to other studies, high concentrations of metformin (mM) blocked the cell cycle in G0‑G1, indicated by a strong decrease of G1 cyclins, especially cyclin D, cyclin-dependent kinases (4 and 6), and flow cytometry assessment of the cell cycle. This was associated with activation of AMPK, inhibition of the mTOR pathways and autophagy marker LC3B. However, metformin failed to suppress growth of xenografted tumors of Y79 human retinoblastoma cells in nu/nu mice, even when treated with a maximally tolerated dose level achieved in human patients. In conclusion, suprapharmacological levels (mM) of metformin, well above those tolerated in vivo, inhibited the proliferation of retinoblastoma cells in vitro. However, physiological levels of metformin, such as seen in the clinical setting, did not affect the growth of retinoblastoma cells in vitro or in vivo. This suggests that the potential beneficial effects of metformin seen in epidemiological studies may be limited to specific tumor types or be related to indirect effects/mechanisms not observed under acute laboratory conditions.
Springelkamp H, Höhn R, Mishra A, Hysi PG, Khor C-C, Loomis SJ, Bailey JCN, Gibson J, Thorleifsson G, Janssen SF, Luo X, Ramdas WD, Vithana E, Nongpiur ME, Montgomery GW, Xu L, Mountain JE, Gharahkhani P, Lu Y, Amin N, Karssen LC, Sim K-S, van Leeuwen EM, Iglesias AI, Verhoeven VJM, Hauser MA, Loon S-C, Despriet DDG, Nag A, Venturini C, Sanfilippo PG, Schillert A, Kang JH, Landers J, Jonasson F, Cree AJ, van Koolwijk LME, Rivadeneira F, Souzeau E, Jonsson V, Menon G, Menon G, Weinreb RN, de Jong PTVM, Oostra BA, Uitterlinden AG, Hofman A, Ennis S, Thorsteinsdottir U, Burdon KP, Burdon KP, Burdon KP, Spector TD, Mirshahi A, Saw S-M, Vingerling JR, Teo Y-Y, Haines JL, Wolfs RCW, Lemij HG, Tai E-S, Jansonius NM, Jonas JB, Cheng C-Y, Aung T, Viswanathan AC, Klaver CCW, Craig JE, Macgregor S, Mackey DA, Lotery AJ, Stefansson K, Bergen AAB, Young TL, Wiggs JL, Pfeiffer N, Wong T-Y, Pasquale LR, Hewitt AW, van Duijn CM, Hammond CJ, Hammond CJ, Hammond CJ, Hammond CJ. Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies novel loci that influence cupping and the glaucomatous process. Nat Commun 2014;5:4883.Abstract

Glaucoma is characterized by irreversible optic nerve degeneration and is the most frequent cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Here, the International Glaucoma Genetics Consortium conducts a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of vertical cup-disc ratio (VCDR), an important disease-related optic nerve parameter. In 21,094 individuals of European ancestry and 6,784 individuals of Asian ancestry, we identify 10 new loci associated with variation in VCDR. In a separate risk-score analysis of five case-control studies, Caucasians in the highest quintile have a 2.5-fold increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma as compared with those in the lowest quintile. This study has more than doubled the known loci associated with optic disc cupping and will allow greater understanding of mechanisms involved in this common blinding condition.

Jakobiec FA, Rai R, Lefebvre DR. Papillary hidradenoma of the eyelid margin: clinical and immunohistochemical observations further supporting an apocrine rather than an eccrine origin. Surv Ophthalmol 2014;59(5):540-7.Abstract
A 46-year-old woman was evaluated for a "recurring papilloma" of the left medial upper eyelid margin. Beneath the papillary lesion medial to the punctum was a 5-mm diameter cutaneous mass thought to be cystic. After excisional biopsy, histopathologic analysis documented the presence of an epidermal keratinizing squamous papilloma surmounting a circumscribed dermal papillary hidradenoma composed of deeply eosinophilic columnar cells. Additionally, there was intraductal proliferation of tumor extending toward a subclinical poral opening through the epidermis. Immunohistochemistry proved the apocrine nature of the benign, non-cystic lesion by virtue of its nuclear androgen receptor and cytoplasmic gross-cystic disease fluid protein-15 positivity, along with its smooth muscle actin-positive myoepithelial layer. This and prior cases establish that apocrine tumors, both benign and malignant, are strictly localized at or near the eyelid margin where only apocrine glands are found. These tumors are more often papillary than solid adenomas, and most exceptionally can be malignant. We review the differential diagnosis of simulating eccrine eyelid tumors. We recommend wide local excision for benign lesions, in view of possible intraductal extension that can be eccentric to the main tumor and the miniscule potential for malignant transformation.
Scotti F, Maestroni A, Palini A, Introini U, Setaccioli M, Lorenzi M, Zerbini G. Endothelial progenitor cells and response to ranibizumab in age-related macular degeneration. Retina 2014;34(9):1802-10.Abstract

BACKGROUND: Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the main cause of vision loss in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In experimental CNV, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) contribute to the formation of new vessels. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the behavior of EPCs in patients with AMD supports a role for EPCs in human CNV. METHODS: The number of circulating EPCs that are considered pure endothelial precursors and EPCs with monocytic characteristics, and the plasma levels of regulatory cytokines were evaluated in 23 patients with AMD with active CNV and 20 matched controls. In the patients, this profile was re-evaluated after ranibizumab. RESULTS: When compared with controls, the patients with AMD showed a lower number of both EPC types (P = 0.03) and higher plasma levels (P = 0.03) of stromal cell-derived factor 1. Three monthly injections of ranibizumab returned to control levels the number of circulating EPCs considered pure endothelial precursors and of stromal cell-derived factor 1, but not of monocytic EPCs. CONCLUSION: The observations indicate responsiveness of circulating EPCs to the CNV process in AMD. They suggest the hypothesis that increased stromal cell-derived factor 1 production at the CNV site (reflected in higher plasma levels) recruits EPCs from the circulation, and that antivascular endothelial growth factor therapy selectively decreases the recruitment of cells to be incorporated into new vessels.

Samuel MA, Voinescu EP, Lilley BN, de Cabo R, Foretz M, Viollet B, Pawlyk B, Sandberg MA, Vavvas DG, Sanes JR. LKB1 and AMPK regulate synaptic remodeling in old age. Nat Neurosci 2014;17(9):1190-7.Abstract
Age-related decreases in neural function result in part from alterations in synapses. To identify molecular defects that lead to such changes, we focused on the outer retina, in which synapses are markedly altered in old rodents and humans. We found that the serine/threonine kinase LKB1 and one of its substrates, AMPK, regulate this process. In old mice, synaptic remodeling was accompanied by specific decreases in the levels of total LKB1 and active (phosphorylated) AMPK. In the absence of either kinase, young adult mice developed retinal defects similar to those that occurred in old wild-type animals. LKB1 and AMPK function in rod photoreceptors where their loss leads to aberrant axonal retraction, the extension of postsynaptic dendrites and the formation of ectopic synapses. Conversely, increasing AMPK activity genetically or pharmacologically attenuates and may reverse age-related synaptic alterations. Together, these results identify molecular determinants of age-related synaptic remodeling and suggest strategies for attenuating these changes.
Hasegawa E, Sweigard H, Husain D, Olivares AM, Chang B, Smith KE, Birsner AE, D'Amato RJ, Michaud NA, Han Y, Vavvas DG, Miller JW, Haider NB, Connor KM. Characterization of a spontaneous retinal neovascular mouse model. PLoS One 2014;9(9):e106507.Abstract

BACKGROUND: Vision loss due to vascular disease of the retina is a leading cause of blindness in the world. Retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP) is a subgroup of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), whereby abnormal blood vessels develop in the retina leading to debilitating vision loss and eventual blindness. The novel mouse strain, neoretinal vascularization 2 (NRV2), shows spontaneous fundus changes associated with abnormal neovascularization. The purpose of this study is to characterize the induction of pathologic angiogenesis in this mouse model. METHODS: The NRV2 mice were examined from postnatal day 12 (p12) to 3 months. The phenotypic changes within the retina were evaluated by fundus photography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and immunohistochemical and electron microscopic analysis. The pathological neovascularization was imaged by confocal microscopy and reconstructed using three-dimensional image analysis software. RESULTS: We found that NRV2 mice develop multifocal retinal depigmentation in the posterior fundus. Depigmented lesions developed vascular leakage observed by fluorescein angiography. The spontaneous angiogenesis arose from the retinal vascular plexus at postnatal day (p)15 and extended toward retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). By three months of age, histological analysis revealed encapsulation of the neovascular lesion by the RPE in the photoreceptor cell layer and subretinal space. CONCLUSIONS: The NRV2 mouse strain develops early neovascular lesions within the retina, which grow downward towards the RPE beginning at p15. This retinal neovascularization model mimics early stages of human retinal angiomatous proliferation (RAP) and will likely be a useful in elucidating targeted therapeutics for patients with ocular neovascular disease.

Wang R, Wiggs JL. Common and Rare Genetic Risk Factors for Glaucoma. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2014;Abstract

The characterization of genes responsible for glaucoma is the critical first step toward the development of gene-based diagnostic and screening tests, which could identify individuals at risk for disease before irreversible optic nerve damage occurs. Early-onset forms of glaucoma affecting children and young adults are typically inherited as Mendelian autosomal dominant or recessive traits whereas glaucoma affecting older adults has complex inheritance. In this report, we present a comprehensive overview of the genes and genomic regions contributing to inherited glaucoma.

Stevenson W, Chen Y, Lee S-M, Lee HS, Hua J, Dohlman T, Shiang T, Dana R. Extraorbital lacrimal gland excision: a reproducible model of severe aqueous tear-deficient dry eye disease. Cornea 2014;33(12):1336-41.Abstract
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to establish and characterize extraorbital lacrimal gland excision (LGE) as a model of aqueous tear-deficient dry eye disease in mice. METHODS: Female C57BL/6 mice at 6 to 8 weeks of age were randomized to extraorbital LGE, sham surgery, or scopolamine groups. Mice that underwent extraorbital LGE or sham surgery were housed in the standard vivarium. Scopolamine-treated mice were housed in a controlled environment chamber that allowed for the continuous regulation of airflow (15 L/min), relative humidity (30%), and temperature (21-23°C). Clinical disease severity was assessed over the course of 14 days using the phenol red thread test and corneal fluorescein staining. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to assess corneal mRNA expression of interleukin 1β, tumor necrosis factor α, and matrix metalloproteinase 9. Flow cytometry was used to assess T helper cell frequencies in the conjunctivae and draining lymph nodes. RESULTS: Extraorbital LGE markedly reduced aqueous tear secretion as compared with the sham procedure and induced a more consistent decrease in aqueous tear secretion than was observed in mice that received scopolamine while housed in the controlled environment chamber. Extraorbital LGE significantly increased corneal fluorescein staining scores as compared with those of both the sham surgery and scopolamine-treated groups. Extraorbital LGE significantly increased the corneal expression of interleukin 1β, tumor necrosis factor α, and matrix metalloproteinase 9. Further, extraorbital LGE increased T helper 17-cell frequencies in the conjunctivae and draining lymph nodes. CONCLUSIONS: Extraorbital LGE induces aqueous tear-deficient dry eye disease in mice as evidenced by decreased aqueous tear secretion, increased corneal epitheliopathy, and induced ocular surface inflammation and immunity.
Pennock S, Haddock LJ, Mukai S, Kazlauskas A. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Acts Primarily via Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor α to Promote Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy. Am J Pathol 2014;Abstract

Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is a nonneovascular blinding disease and the leading cause for failure in surgical repair of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments. Once formed, PVR is difficult to treat. Hence, there is an acute interest in developing approaches to prevent PVR. Of the many growth factors and cytokines that accumulate in vitreous as PVR develops, neutralizing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A has recently been found to prevent PVR in at least one animal model. The goal of this study was to test if Food and Drug Administration-approved agents could protect the eye from PVR in multiple animal models and to further investigate the underlying mechanisms. Neutralizing VEGF with aflibercept (VEGF Trap-Eye) safely and effectively protected rabbits from PVR in multiple models of disease. Furthermore, aflibercept reduced the bioactivity of both experimental and clinical PVR vitreous. Finally, although VEGF could promote some PVR-associated cellular responses via VEGF receptors expressed on the retinal pigment epithelial cells that drive this disease, VEGF's major contribution to vitreal bioactivity occurred via platelet-derived growth factor receptor α. Thus, VEGF promotes PVR by a noncanonical ability to engage platelet-derived growth factor receptor α. These findings indicate that VEGF contributes to nonangiogenic diseases and that anti-VEGF-based therapies may be effective on a wider spectrum of diseases than previously appreciated.

Yonekawa Y, Kim IK, Gragoudas ES, Njauw C-NJ, Tsao H, Jakobiec FA, Stacy RC. Aggressive skull base metastasis from uveal melanoma: a clinicopathologic study. Eur J Ophthalmol 2014;24(5):811-3.Abstract
PURPOSE: We present the clinical, pathologic, and genetic findings of the first reported case of choroidal melanoma that developed a late recurrence and aggressive metastasis to the skull base without evidence of hepatic involvement. METHODS: Retrospective chart review and clinicopathologic correlation of ocular and brain tissue, including sequencing of BAP1 for mutations. RESULTS: A 55-year-old woman was diagnosed with choroidal melanoma and treated with proton radiotherapy. Six years later, she developed a rapidly growing local recurrence involving the ciliary body and iris. Upon enucleation, histopathology revealed an iris and ciliary body epithelioid melanoma that was contiguous with the previously treated, regressed spindle cell choroidal melanoma. Imaging was initially negative for brain involvement. Two months later, she developed cranial neuropathies and was found to have a large skull base lesion that required surgical debulking for pain palliation. Histopathology confirmed the lesion to be metastatic melanoma. Both ocular and brain tumor specimens were wild-type for BAP1. Throughout her course, she developed no hepatic metastases. CONCLUSIONS: Uveal melanoma may metastasize to the skull base. The present case was characterized by delayed onset and unusual aggressiveness of the metastatic disease, and lack of BAP1 mutation. The unusual course highlights a unique phenotype that may reflect an alternate molecular mechanism for metastatic disease.
Aggarwal S, Jakobiec FA, Hamrah P. Bilateral adult epibulbar xanthogranulomas suspicious for Erdheim-Chester disease. Cornea 2014;33(10):1113-7.Abstract

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to report the clinical, imaging, and histopathological findings of bilateral, conjunctival adult-onset xanthogranulomas that raised the prospect of a mild form of Erdheim-Chester disease. METHODS: This is a case report. RESULTS: A 35-year-old white male complaining of ocular irritation, presented with bilateral, nasal and temporal, yellow, elevated conjunctival lumps first noticed 1.5 years back, which were not associated with other ocular findings. The lesions were firm, attached to the underlying episclera, and measured 1.1 × 0.9, 1.1 × 0.8, 1.2 × 0.5, and 0.5 × 0.5 cm in the temporal and nasal right and left eyes, respectively. Each mass was fleshy with vascularity at the peripheral margin. Histopathologic evaluation after excisional biopsy revealed lipidized xanthoma cells, multiple Touton giant cells, and lymphocytes. Immunohistochemical staining was positive for adipophilin (lipid), CD68, CD163 histiocytes, CD3 T cells (with CD8 cytotoxic T cells > CD4 T-helper cells), and virtually no CD20 B cells or IgG4 plasma cells. The patient later acquired similar xanthogranulomatous subcutaneous lesions on the extremities. Positron emission tomography scans showed sclerosis in the medullary cavities of the tibia and the radius of both legs and arms, and an absence of retroperitoneal lesions. A normal serum immunoelectrophoresis and the absence of a BRAF gene mutation were demonstrated. CONCLUSIONS: Adult-onset xanthogranuloma can present as a solitary conjunctival mass without periocular or orbital involvement. The clinical, histopathologic, and radiologic findings in this case are suggestive of Erdheim-Chester disease without displaying any life-threatening lesions to date. Histopathologic and imaging studies can help in obtaining a diagnosis. Ophthalmologists should be aware that xanthogranulomatous conditions may have potential systemic implications, and a thorough systemic evaluation is recommended for lesions that initially seemed to be isolated in nature.

van der Ent W, Burrello C, Teunisse AFAS, Ksander BR, Van der Velden PA, Jager MJ, Jochemsen AG, Snaar-Jagalska EB. Modelling of human uveal melanoma in Zebrafish xenograft embryos. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2014;Abstract

PURPOSE. Uveal melanoma (UM) is fatal in up to 50% of patients because of liver metastases, that are refractory to therapies currently available. While murine xenograft models for human uveal melanoma are available, they have limited utility for screening large compound libraries in drug discovery studies. Therefore, new robust preclinical models are needed that can efficiently evaluate drug efficacy for treatment of this malignancy. METHODS. UM cell lines generated from primary tumors (92.1, Mel270) and metastases (OMM2.3, OMM2.5, OMM1) were injected into the yolk of two-day-old zebrafish embryos. After six days, proliferation and active migration was quantified via automated confocal image analysis. To determine the suitability of this xenotransplantation model for drug testing, drugs with three different activities (Dasatinib, Quisinostat and MLN-4924) were added to the water of uveal melanoma-engrafted embryos. RESULTS. All tested UM cell lines proliferated and migrated in the embryos; significant differences could be discerned between cell lines: cells derived from metastases showed more migration and proliferation than cells derived from the primary tumors, and provided preclinical models for drug testing. Addition of the Src-inhibitor Dasatinib in the water of engrafted embryos reduced proliferation and migration of high Src-expressing 92.1 cells, but did not affect low Src-expressing metastatic OMM2.3 cells. Two experimental anticancer drugs, Quisinostat (a histone deacetylase inhibitor) and MLN-4924 (neddylation pathway inhibitor), blocked migration and proliferation of 92.1 and OMM2.3. CONCLUSIONS. We established a zebrafish xenograft model of human uveal melanoma with demonstrated applicability for screening large libraries of compounds in drug discovery studies.

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