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Concept: Cytotoxicity


BackgroundIpilimumab is a recently approved immunotherapy that has demonstrated an improvement in the overall survival (OS) of patients with metastatic melanoma. We report a single-institution experience in patients treated in a compassionate-use program.Patients and methodsIn this prospective study, patients were treated between June 2010 and September 2011. Inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of unresectable stage III or IV melanoma, at least one previous line of chemotherapy, and survival 12 weeks after the first perfusion. Four courses of ipilimumab were administered at a dose of 3 mg/kg every 3 weeks.ResultsSeventy-three patients were included. Median OS was 9.1 months (95% CI 6.4-11.3) from the start of ipilimumab. Immune-related adverse events were observed in 45 patients (62%), including 19 grade 3-4 events (26%). No drug-related death occurred. A lymphocyte count >1000/mm(3) at the start of the second course and an increase in the eosinophil count >100/mm(3) between the first and second infusions were correlated with an improved OS.ConclusionIpilimumab toxic effect is manageable in real life. Biological data such as lymphocyte and eosinophil counts at the time of the second ipilimumab infusion appear to be early markers associated with better OS.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, Better, Improve, Lymph node, Chemotherapy, Melanoma, Cytotoxicity


Natural killer (NK) cells represent a key component of the innate immune system against cancer. Nevertheless, malignant diseases arise in immunocompetent individuals despite tumor immunosurveillance. Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is characterized by CD30+ tumor cells and a massive infiltration of immune effector cells in affected lymph nodes. The latter obviously fail to eliminate the malignant cell population. Here, we tested for functional NK cell defects in HL and suggest an improvement of NK function by therapeutic means. We demonstrate that peripheral NK cells (pNK) from patients with HL fail to eliminate HL cell lines in ex vivo killing assays. Impaired NK cell function correlated with elevated serum levels of soluble ligands for NK cell receptors NKp30 (BAG6/BAT3) and NKG2D (MICA), factors known to constrict NK cell function. In vitro, NK cell cytotoxicity could be restored by an NKG2D/NKp30-independent bispecific antibody construct (CD30xCD16A). It artificially links the tumor receptor CD30 with the cytotoxicity NK cell receptor CD16A. Moreover, we observed that NK cells from patients treated with this construct were generally activated and displayed a restored cytotoxicity against HL target cells. These data suggest that reversible suppression of NK cell activity contributes to immune evasion in HL and can be antagonized therapeutically.Molecular Therapy (2013); doi:10.1038/mt.2013.14.

Concepts: Immune system, Lymphocyte, Antibody, Protein, Cancer, Innate immune system, Natural killer cell, Cytotoxicity


Two populations of human natural killer (NK) cells can be identified in peripheral blood. The majority are CD3(-)CD56(dim) cells while the minority exhibits a CD3(-)CD56(bright) phenotype. In vitro evidence indicates that CD56(bright) cells are precursors of CD56(dim) cells, but in vivo evidence is lacking. Here, we studied NK cells from a patient that suffered from a melanoma and opportunistic fungal infection during childhood. The patient exhibited a stable phenotype characterized by a reduction in the frequency of peripheral blood CD3(-)CD56(dim) NK cells, accompanied by an overt increase in the frequency and absolute number of CD3(-)CD56(bright) cells. These NK cells exhibited similar expression of perforin, CD57 and CD158, the major activating receptors CD16, NKp46, NKG2D, DNAM-1, and 2B4, as well as the inhibitory receptor CD94/NKG2A, on both CD56(bright) and CD56(dim) NK cells as healthy controls. Also, both NK cell subpopulations produced IFN-γ upon stimulation with cytokines, and CD3(-)CD56(dim) NK cells degranulated in response to cytokines or K562 cells. However, upon stimulation with cytokines, a substantial fraction of CD56(dim) cells failed to up-regulate CD57 and CD158, showed a reduction in the percentage of CD16(+) cells, and CD56(bright) cells did not down-regulate CD62L, suggesting that CD56(dim) cells could not acquire a terminally differentiated phenotype and that CD56(bright) cells exhibit a maturation defect that might result in a potential altered migration pattern. These observations, support the notion that NK cells of this patient display a maturation/activation defect that precludes the generation of mature NK cells at a normal rate accompanied by CD56(dim) NK cells that cannot completely acquire a terminally differentiated phenotype. Thus, our results provide evidence that support the concept that in vivo CD56(bright) NK cells differentiate into CD56(dim) NK cells, and contribute to further understand human NK cell ontogeny.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Natural killer cell, Interferon, Interleukin, Cytotoxicity, Perforin, Granzyme


In nanotoxicology, the capacity of nanoparticles of the same composition but different shape to induce cytotoxicity and genotoxicity is largely unknown. A series of cytotoxic and genotoxic responses following in vitro exposure to differently shaped CuO nanoparticles (CuO NPs, mass concentrations from 0.1 to 100 μg/ml) were assessed in murine macrophages RAW 264.7 and in peripheral whole blood from healthy volunteers. Cytotoxicity, cytostasis and genotoxicity were evaluated by the colorimetric assay of formazan reduction [3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT)] and by the cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome (CBMN Cyt) assay. The comet assay was applied for detecting DNA strand breaks and information on oxidative damage to DNA (oxidised purines and pyrimidines). The MTT assay revealed a decrease in cell viability in RAW 264.7 cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) with significant dose-effect relationships for the different CuO NP shapes. The comet assay revealed a dose-dependent increase in primary DNA damage, and a significant increase in oxidative damage to DNA was also detectable, as well as increased frequency of micronuclei in binucleated cells, often in a dose-related manner. Proliferative activity, cytotoxicity and apoptotic markers showed a significant trend in the two cell types. Finally, we have differentiated clastogenic events from aneugenic events by fluorescence in situ hybridisation with human and murine pancentromeric probes, revealing for the first time characteristic aneugenic responses related to the shape of CuO NPs and cell type. Independently of size and shape, all CuO NPs revealed a clear-cut cytotoxic and genotoxic potential; this suggests that CuO NPs are good candidates for positive controls in nanotoxicology.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell, Mutation, Adenosine triphosphate, Nanotechnology, Cytotoxicity, MTT assay


Peptide mediated gain-of-toxic function is central to pathology in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes. In each system, self-assembly into oligomers is observed and can also result in poration of artificial membranes. Structural requirements for poration and the relationship of structure to cytotoxicity is unaddressed. Here we focus on islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) mediated loss-of-insulin secreting cells in patients with diabetes. Newly developed methods enable structure-function enquiry to focus on intracellular oligomers composed of hundreds of IAPP. The key insights are that porating oligomers are internally dynamic, grow in discrete steps and are not canonical amyloid. Moreover, two classes of poration occur; an IAPP-specific ligand establishes that only one is cytotoxic. Toxic rescue occurs by stabilising non-toxic poration without displacing IAPP from mitochondria. These insights illuminate cytotoxic mechanism in diabetes and also provide a generalisable approach for enquiry applicable to other partially ordered protein assemblies.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Protein, Cell, Cell biology, Peptide, Amylin, Cytotoxicity, Toxicity


It is known that natural killer (NK) cell function is downregulated in chronic hepatitis B (CHB)-infected patients and in hepatic carcinoma (HCC) patients, but the mechanisms underlying this functional downregulation are largely unclear. In this study, microRNA (miR)-146a expression increased in NK cells from CHB and HCC patients compared with NK cells from healthy donors, and miR-146a levels were negatively correlated to NK cell functions. Overexpression of miR-146a reduced NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity and the production of interferon (IFN)-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α, which were reversed upon inhibition of miR-146a. In NK cells, miR-146a expression was induced by interleukin (IL)-10 and transforming growth factor-β, but reduced after treatment with interleukin-12, IFN-α and IFN-β. We further revealed that miR-146a regulated NK cell functions by targeting STAT1. Taken together, upregulated miR-146a expression, at least partially, attributes to NK cell dysfunction in CHB and HCC patients. Therefore, miR-146a may become a therapeutic target with great potential to ameliorate NK cell functions in liver disease.Cellular & Molecular Immunology advance online publication, 21 March 2016; doi:10.1038/cmi.2015.113.

Concepts: Immune system, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Natural killer cell, Interferon, Cytotoxicity, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B


Carbendazim (MBC) (methyl-2-benzimidazole carbamate) and tebuconazole (TBZ) ((RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-3-(1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-ylmethyl)pentan-3-ol) are widely used in agriculture for the prevention and control of fungal diseases. Solid lipid nanoparticles and polymeric nanocapsules are carrier systems that offer advantages including changes in the release profiles of bioactive compounds and their transfer to the site of action, reduced losses due to leaching or degradation, and decreased toxicity in the environment and humans. The objective of this study was to prepare these two types of nanoparticle as carrier systems for a combination of TBZ and MBC, and then investigate the release profiles of the fungicides as well as the stabilities and cytotoxicities of the formulations. Both nanoparticle systems presented high association efficiency (>99%), indicating good interaction between the fungicides and the nanoparticles. The release profiles of MBC and TBZ were modified when the compounds were loaded in the nanoparticles, and cytotoxicity assays showed that encapsulation of the fungicides decreased their toxicity. These fungicide systems offer new options for the treatment and prevention of fungal diseases in plants.

Concepts: Agriculture, Nanotechnology, Sol-gel, Cytotoxicity, Sulfur, Toxicity, Mycology, Fungicides


The increased use of cathinone-type designer drugs, known as legal highs, has led to concerns about their potential neurotoxicity due to their similarity to methamphetamine (METH). Therefore, closer investigations of their toxic effects are needed. We investigated the effects of the cathinones 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethcathinone (MDMC) and the amphetamine METH on cytotoxicity and mitochondrial respiration in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. We also investigated the contribution of reactive species, dopamine, Bcl-2 and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) on toxicity. Finally, we investigated the effect of cathinone breakdown products using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography/high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry and studied their involvement in toxicity. We observed dose-dependent increases in cytotoxicity and decreases in mitochondrial respiration following treatment with all cathinones and amphetamines. Glutathione depletion increases amphetamine, but not cathinone toxicity. Bcl-2 and TNFα pathways are involved in toxicity but dopamine levels are not. We also show that cathinones, but not amphetamines, spontaneously produce reactive species and cytotoxic methylbenzamide breakdown products when in aqueous solution. These results provide an important first insight into the mechanisms of cathinone cytotoxicity and pave the way for further studies on cathinone toxicity in vivo.

Concepts: Toxicology, Cytotoxicity, Toxicity, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Convention on Psychotropic Substances, Methcathinone, Euphoriants


Previous phytochemical investigation of the leaves and seeds of Pittosporum angustifolium Lodd. led to the isolation and structural elucidation of polyphenols and triterpene saponins. Evaluation for cytotoxicity of isolated saponins revealed that the predominant structural feature for a cytotoxic activity are acyl substituents at the oleanane aglycon backbone. The present work reports the results of a screening of 10 selected acylated saponins for their potential to inhibit the human DNA-topoisomerase I, giving rise to IC50 values in a range of 2.8-46.5 µM. To clarify the mode of observed cytotoxic action and, moreover, to distinguish from a pure surfactant effect which is commonly accompanied with saponins, these results indicate an involvement of the topoisomerase I and its role as a possible target structure for a cytotoxic activity. In addition, computational predictions of the fitting of saponins to the topoisomerase I-DNA complex, indicate a similar binding mode to that of clinically used topoisomerase I inhibitors. Ten acylated triterpene saponins from Pittosporum angustifolium were investigated for their potential to inhibit the human DNA-topoisomerase I and computational predictions of the fitting of saponins to the topoisomerase I-DNA complex were carried out.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cell, Structure, Enzyme inhibitor, Cytotoxicity, Inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Acyl


In vitro models serve as a tool for studies of steatosis. Palmitic and oleic acids can induce steatosis in cultured hepatocytes. The aim of our study was to verify steatogenic and cytotoxic effects of palmitic acid (PA), oleic acid (OA) and their combinations as well as their impact on functional capacity of rat primary hepatocytes. Hepatocytes were exposed to OA or PA (0.125 - 2 mmol/l) or their combination at ratios of 3:1, 2:1 or 1:1 at the final concentrations of 0.5 - 1 mmol/l. Both OA and PA caused a dose-dependent increase in triacylglycerol content in hepatocytes. PA was more steatogenic at 0.25 and 0.5 mmol/l while OA at 0.75 and 1 mmol/l. PA exhibited a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect associated with ROS production, present markers of apoptosis and necrosis and a decrease in albumin production. OA induced a damage of the cytoplasmic membrane from 1 mM concentration. Mixture of OA and PA induced lower cytotoxicity with less weakened functional capacity than did PA alone. Extent of steatosis was comparable to that after exposure to OA alone. In conclusion, OA or combination of OA with PA is more suitable for simulation of simple steatosis than PA alone. This paper is scheduled for Physiological Research, Vol. 64, Supplement 5 (2015).

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Cell membrane, Cytotoxicity, Oleic acid, Molar concentration