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Concept: Chemokine


Although some signs of inflammation have been reported previously in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), the data are limited and contradictory. High-throughput methods now allow us to interrogate the human immune system for multiple markers of inflammation at a scale that was not previously possible. To determine whether a signature of serum cytokines could be associated with ME/CFS and correlated with disease severity and fatigue duration, cytokines of 192 ME/CFS patients and 392 healthy controls were measured using a 51-multiplex array on a Luminex system. Each cytokine’s preprocessed data were regressed on ME/CFS severity plus covariates for age, sex, race, and an assay property of newly discovered importance: nonspecific binding. On average, TGF-β was elevated (P = 0.0052) and resistin was lower (P = 0.0052) in patients compared with controls. Seventeen cytokines had a statistically significant upward linear trend that correlated with ME/CFS severity: CCL11 (Eotaxin-1), CXCL1 (GROα), CXCL10 (IP-10), IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-5, IL-7, IL-12p70, IL-13, IL-17F, leptin, G-CSF, GM-CSF, LIF, NGF, SCF, and TGF-α. Of the 17 cytokines that correlated with severity, 13 are proinflammatory, likely contributing to many of the symptoms experienced by patients and establishing a strong immune system component of the disease. Only CXCL9 (MIG) inversely correlated with fatigue duration.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Asthma, Infection, Cytokines, Interleukin, Chemokine, Chronic fatigue syndrome


Toll like receptors (TLRs) are pattern-recognition molecules that initiate the innate immune response to pathogens. Pulmonary surfactant protein (SP)-A is an endogenously produced ligand for TLR2 and TLR4. SP-A has been proposed as a fetally produced signal for the onset of parturition in the mouse. We examined the effect of interactions between SP-A and the pathogenic TLR agonists lipopolysaccharide (LPS), peptidoglycan (PGN) and polyinosinic:cytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) (ligands for TLR4, TLR2 and TLR3, respectively) on the expression of inflammatory mediators and preterm delivery. Three types of mouse macrophages (the cell line RAW 264.7, and fresh amniotic fluid and peritoneal macrophages, including macrophages from TLR4 and TLR2 knockout mice) were treated for up to 7 hours with pathogenic TLR agonists with or without SP-A. SP-A alone had no effect upon inflammatory mediators in mouse macrophages and did not independently induce preterm labor. SP-A significantly suppressed TLR ligand-induced expression of inflammatory mediators (interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and the chemokine CCL5) via a TLR2 dependent mechanism. In a mouse inflammation-induced preterm delivery model, intrauterine administration of SP-A significantly inhibited preterm delivery, suppressed the expression of proinflammatory mediators and enhanced the expression of the CXCL1 and anti-inflammatory mediator IL-10. We conclude that SP-A acts via TLR2 to suppress TLR ligand-induced preterm delivery and inflammatory responses.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Childbirth, Bacteria, Innate immune system, Toll-like receptor, Chemokine, Tumor necrosis factor-alpha


Interactions between C-C chemokine receptor types 2 (CCR2) and 5 (CCR5) and their ligands, including CCL2 and CCL5, mediate fibrogenesis by promoting monocyte/macrophage recruitment and tissue infiltration, as well as hepatic stellate cell activation. Cenicriviroc (CVC) is an oral, dual CCR2/CCR5 antagonist with nanomolar potency against both receptors. CVC’s anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effects were evaluated in a range of preclinical models of inflammation and fibrosis.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Glucose, Fibrosis, Cirrhosis, Liver, CCR5, Organ, Chemokine


Otitis media (OM) is the most common childhood bacterial infection, and leading cause of conductive hearing loss. Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is a major bacterial pathogen for OM. OM characterized by the presence of overactive inflammatory responses is due to the aberrant production of inflammatory mediators including C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 5 (CXCL5). The molecular mechanism underlying induction of CXCL5 by NTHi is unknown. Here we show that NTHi up-regulates CXCL5 expression by activating IKKβ-IκBα and p38 MAPK pathways via NF-κB nuclear translocation-dependent and -independent mechanism in middle ear epithelial cells. Current therapies for OM are ineffective due to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant NTHi strains and risk of side effects with prolonged use of immunosuppressant drugs. In this study, we show that curcumin, derived from Curcuma longa plant, long known for its medicinal properties, inhibited NTHi-induced CXCL5 expression in vitro and in vivo. Curcumin suppressed CXCL5 expression by direct inhibition of IKKβ phosphorylation, and inhibition of p38 MAPK via induction of negative regulator MKP-1. Thus, identification of curcumin as a potential therapeutic for treating OM is of particular translational significance due to the attractiveness of targeting overactive inflammation without significant adverse effects.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Infection, Chemokine, Otitis media, Haemophilus influenzae, Turmeric


The disease severity of Entamoeba histolytica infection ranges from asymptomatic to life-threatening. Recent human and animal data implicate the gut microbiome as a modifier of E. histolytica virulence. Here we have explored the association of the microbiome with susceptibility to amebiasis in infants and in the mouse model of amebic colitis. Dysbiosis occurred symptomatic E. histolytica infection in children, as evidenced by a lower Shannon diversity index of the gut microbiota. To test if dysbiosis was a cause of susceptibility, wild type C57BL/6 mice (which are innately resistant to E. histiolytica infection) were treated with antibiotics prior to cecal challenge with E. histolytica. Compared with untreated mice, antibiotic pre-treated mice had more severe colitis and delayed clearance of E. histolytica. Gut IL-25 and mucus protein Muc2, both shown to provide innate immunity in the mouse model of amebic colitis, were lower in antibiotic pre-treated mice. Moreover, dysbiotic mice had fewer cecal neutrophils and myeloperoxidase activity. Paradoxically, the neutrophil chemoattractant chemokines CXCL1 and CXCL2, as well as IL-1β, were higher in the colon of mice with antibiotic-induced dysbiosis. Neutrophils from antibiotic pre-treated mice had diminished surface expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR2, potentially explaining their inability to migrate to the site of infection. Blockade of CXCR2 increased susceptibility of control non-antibiotic treated mice to amebiasis. In conclusion, dysbiosis increased the severity of amebic colitis due to decreased neutrophil recruitment to the gut, which was due in part to decreased surface expression on neutrophils of CXCR2.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene, Bacteria, Gut flora, Innate immune system, Chemokine, Shannon index, Entamoeba histolytica


Chemokines function via G-protein coupled receptors in a robust network to recruit immune cells to sites of inflammation. Due to the complexity of this network, targeting single chemokines or receptors has not been successful in inflammatory disease. Dog tick saliva contains polyvalent CC-chemokine binding peptides termed evasins 1 and 4, that efficiently disrupt the chemokine network in models of inflammatory disease. Here we develop yeast surface display as a tool for functionally identifying evasins, and use it to identify 10 novel polyvalent CC-chemokine binding evasin-like peptides from salivary transcriptomes of eight tick species in Rhipicephalus and Amblyomma genera. These evasins have unique binding profiles compared to evasins 1 and 4, targeting CCL2 and CCL13 in addition to other CC-chemokines. Evasin binding leads to neutralisation of chemokine function including that of complex chemokine mixtures, suggesting therapeutic efficacy in inflammatory disease. We propose that yeast surface display is a powerful approach to mine potential therapeutics from inter-species protein interactions that have arisen during evolution of parasitism in ticks.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Protein, Signal transduction, Chemokine, G protein-coupled receptor, Tick, Ixodidae


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major barrier to successful allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT). The chemokine receptor CCR5 appears to play a role in alloreactivity. We tested whether CCR5 blockade would be safe and limit GVHD in humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Signal transduction, Graft-versus-host disease, CCR5, Chemokine, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Transplantation medicine, Chemokine receptor


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major infectious agent causing serious respiratory tract inflammation in infants and young children. However, an effective vaccine and anti-viral therapy for RSV infection have not yet been developed. Hop-derived bitter acids have potent pharmacological effects on inflammation. Therefore, we investigated the effects of humulone, which is the main constituent of hop bitter acids, on the replication of RSV and release of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-8 and chemokine RANTES in RSV-infected human nasal epithelial cells (HNECs). We found that humulone prevented the expression of RSV/G-protein, formation of virus filaments and release of IL-8 and RANTES in a dose-dependent manner in RSV-infected HNECs. These findings suggest that humulone has protective effects against the replication of RSV, the virus assembly and the inflammatory responses in HNECs and that it is a useful biological product for the prevention and therapy for RSV infection.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Microbiology, Infection, Endothelium, Chemokine, Human respiratory syncytial virus


Short interfering RNA (siRNA) is a potent activator of the mammalian innate immune system. When considering possible clinical applications of siRNA for humans, the adverse immunostimulatory effects must also be taken into account. Here, we show that atelocollagen-mediated systemic delivery of siRNA without chemical modifications did not cause any immunostimulation in both animals and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), even if the siRNA harbored an interferon (IFN)-inducible sequence. In contrast, systemic delivery of immunostimulatory RNA (isRNA)-mediated by a cationic lipid (such as Invivofectamine) induced potent type-I IFNs and inflammatory cytokines. Regarding the mechanism by which the isRNA/atelocollagen complex avoided adverse effects on immunostimulation, we revealed that this complex was not incorporated into PBMCs. On the other hand, Invivofectamine delivered isRNA into PBMCs. The use of either atelocollagen or Invivofectamine as a vehicle elicited significant and undistinguishable therapeutic effects in a contact hypersensitivity (CHS) inflammatory model mouse, when we intravenously injected the siRNA targeting monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 as the complex. For the goal of realizing siRNA-based medicines for humans, atelocollagen is an excellent and promising delivery vehicle, and it has the useful advantage of evading detection by the “radar” of innate immunity.

Concepts: Immune system, RNA, Innate immune system, Immunity, Interferon, Chemokine, PBMC, Systemic acquired resistance


We report the crystal structure of a 40mer mirror-image RNA oligonucleotide completely built from nucleotides of the non-natural L-chirality in complex with the pro-inflammatory chemokine L-CLL2 (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1), a natural protein composed of regular L-amino acids. The L-oligonucleotide is an L-aptamer (a Spiegelmer) identified to bind L-CCL2 with high affinity, thereby neutralizing the chemokine’s activity. CCL2 plays a key role in attracting and positioning monocytes; its overexpression in several inflammatory diseases makes CCL2 an interesting pharmacological target. The PEGylated form of the L-aptamer, NOX-E36 (emapticap pegol), already showed promising efficacy in clinical Phase II studies conducted in diabetic nephropathy patients. The structure of the L-oligonucleotide·L-protein complex was solved and refined to 2.05 Å. It unveils the L-aptamer’s intramolecular contacts and permits a detailed analysis of its structure-function relationship. Furthermore, the analysis of the intermolecular drug-target interactions reveals insight into the selectivity of the L-aptamer for certain related chemokines.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Clinical trial, Signal transduction, Chemotaxis, Cytokines, Chemokine, CCL2