Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: JCI insight


Newly emerging viruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome CoVs (MERS-CoV), and H7N9, cause fatal acute lung injury (ALI) by driving hypercytokinemia and aggressive inflammation through mechanisms that remain elusive. In SARS-CoV/macaque models, we determined that anti-spike IgG (S-IgG), in productively infected lungs, causes severe ALI by skewing inflammation-resolving response. Alveolar macrophages underwent functional polarization in acutely infected macaques, demonstrating simultaneously both proinflammatory and wound-healing characteristics. The presence of S-IgG prior to viral clearance, however, abrogated wound-healing responses and promoted MCP1 and IL-8 production and proinflammatory monocyte/macrophage recruitment and accumulation. Critically, patients who eventually died of SARS (hereafter referred to as deceased patients) displayed similarly accumulated pulmonary proinflammatory, absence of wound-healing macrophages, and faster neutralizing antibody responses. Their sera enhanced SARS-CoV-induced MCP1 and IL-8 production by human monocyte-derived wound-healing macrophages, whereas blockade of FcγR reduced such effects. Our findings reveal a mechanism responsible for virus-mediated ALI, define a pathological consequence of viral specific antibody response, and provide a potential target for treatment of SARS-CoV or other virus-mediated lung injury.


Fructose has been implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity and type 2 diabetes. In contrast to glucose, CNS delivery of fructose in rodents promotes feeding behavior. However, because circulating plasma fructose levels are exceedingly low, it remains unclear to what extent fructose crosses the blood-brain barrier to exert CNS effects. To determine whether fructose can be endogenously generated from glucose via the polyol pathway (glucose → sorbitol → fructose) in human brain, 8 healthy subjects (4 women/4 men; age, 28.8 ± 6.2 years; BMI, 23.4 ± 2.6; HbA1C, 4.9% ± 0.2%) underwent (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy scanning to measure intracerebral glucose and fructose levels during a 4-hour hyperglycemic clamp (plasma glucose, 220 mg/dl). Using mixed-effects regression model analysis, intracerebral glucose rose significantly over time and differed from baseline at 20 to 230 minutes. Intracerebral fructose levels also rose over time, differing from baseline at 30 to 230 minutes. The changes in intracerebral fructose were related to changes in intracerebral glucose but not to plasma fructose levels. Our findings suggest that the polyol pathway contributes to endogenous CNS production of fructose and that the effects of fructose in the CNS may extend beyond its direct dietary consumption.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Regression analysis, Brain, Nutrition, Diabetes mellitus, Glucose, Diabetes, Human brain


The underlying pathology of atopic dermatitis (AD) includes impaired skin barrier function, susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus skin infection, immune dysregulation, and cutaneous dysbiosis. Our recent investigation into the potential role of Gram-negative skin bacteria in AD revealed that isolates of one particular commensal, Roseomonas mucosa, collected from healthy volunteers (HVs) improved outcomes in mouse and cell culture models of AD. In contrast, isolates of R. mucosa from patients with AD worsened outcomes in these models. These preclinical results suggested that interventions targeting the microbiome could provide therapeutic benefit for patients with AD. As a first test of this hypothesis in humans, 10 adult and 5 pediatric patients were enrolled in an open-label phase I/II safety and activity trial (the Beginning Assessment of Cutaneous Treatment Efficacy for Roseomonas in Atopic Dermatitis trial; BACTERiAD I/II). Treatment with R. mucosa was associated with significant decreases in measures of disease severity, topical steroid requirement, and S. aureus burden. There were no adverse events or treatment complications. We additionally evaluated differentiating bacterial metabolites and topical exposures that may contribute to the skin dysbiosis associated with AD and/or influence future microbiome-based treatments. These early results support continued evaluation of R. mucosa therapy with a placebo-controlled trial.


BACKGROUNDMetabolic syndrome (MetS) is highly correlated with obesity and cardiovascular risk, but the importance of dietary carbohydrate independent of weight loss in MetS treatment remains controversial. Here, we test the theory that dietary carbohydrate intolerance (i.e., the inability to process carbohydrate in a healthy manner) rather than obesity per se is a fundamental feature of MetS.METHODSIndividuals who were obese with a diagnosis of MetS were fed three 4-week weight-maintenance diets that were low, moderate, and high in carbohydrate. Protein was constant and fat was exchanged isocalorically for carbohydrate across all diets.RESULTSDespite maintaining body mass, low-carbohydrate (LC) intake enhanced fat oxidation and was more effective in reversing MetS, especially high triglycerides, low HDL-C, and the small LDL subclass phenotype. Carbohydrate restriction also improved abnormal fatty acid composition, an emerging MetS feature. Despite containing 2.5 times more saturated fat than the high-carbohydrate diet, an LC diet decreased plasma total saturated fat and palmitoleate and increased arachidonate.CONCLUSIONConsistent with the perspective that MetS is a pathologic state that manifests as dietary carbohydrate intolerance, these results show that compared with eucaloric high-carbohydrate intake, LC/high-fat diets benefit MetS independent of whole-body or fat mass.TRIAL Identifier: NCT02918422.FUNDINGDairy Management Inc. and the Dutch Dairy Association.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lethal interstitial lung disease characterized by airway remodeling, inflammation, alveolar destruction, and fibrosis. We utilized single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to identify epithelial cell types and associated biological processes involved in the pathogenesis of IPF. Transcriptomic analysis of normal human lung epithelial cells defined gene expression patterns associated with highly differentiated alveolar type 2 (AT2) cells, indicated by enrichment of RNAs critical for surfactant homeostasis. In contrast, scRNA-seq of IPF cells identified 3 distinct subsets of epithelial cell types with characteristics of conducting airway basal and goblet cells and an additional atypical transitional cell that contributes to pathological processes in IPF. Individual IPF cells frequently coexpressed alveolar type 1 (AT1), AT2, and conducting airway selective markers, demonstrating “indeterminate” states of differentiation not seen in normal lung development. Pathway analysis predicted aberrant activation of canonical signaling via TGF-β, HIPPO/YAP, P53, WNT, and AKT/PI3K. Immunofluorescence confocal microscopy identified the disruption of alveolar structure and loss of the normal proximal-peripheral differentiation of pulmonary epithelial cells. scRNA-seq analyses identified loss of normal epithelial cell identities and unique contributions of epithelial cells to the pathogenesis of IPF. The present study provides a rich data source to further explore lung health and disease.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Molecular biology, Lung, Epithelium, Basement membrane, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis


Pre-existing cross-reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 may occur in absence of prior viral exposure. However, this has been difficult to quantify at the population level due to a lack of reliably defined seroreactivity thresholds. Using an orthogonal antibody testing approach, we estimated that ~0.6% of non-triaged adults from the greater Vancouver area, Canada between May 17th and June 19th 2020 showed clear evidence of a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, after adjusting for false-positive and false-negative test results. Using a highly sensitive multiplex assay and positive/negative thresholds established in infants in whom maternal antibodies have waned, we determine that more than 90% of uninfected adults showed antibody reactivity against the spike, receptor-binding domain (RBD), N-terminal domains (NTD) or the nucleocapsid (N) protein from SARS-CoV-2. This sero-reactivity was evenly distributed across age and sex, correlated with circulating coronaviruses reactivity, and was partially outcompeted by soluble circulating coronaviruses' spike. Using a custom SARS-CoV-2 peptide mapping array, we found that this antibody reactivity broadly mapped to spike, and to conserved non-structural viral proteins. We conclude that most adults display pre-existing antibody cross-reactivity against SARS-CoV-2, which further supports investigation of how this may impact the clinical severity of COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses.


MD-PhD programs were established in the 1950s as a new curriculum for training physician-scientists. Since then, the number of programs has grown considerably; however, concerns about the health of the US physician-scientist workforce have grown, as well. The largest attempt to date to assess whether MD-PhD programs are fulfilling their mission was the national MD-PhD program outcomes study, which was released as an American Association of Medical Colleges report in 2018. That study gathered information on 10,591 graduates of 80 MD-PhD programs over 50 years and concluded that most graduates have followed careers consistent with their training. Here, we provide additional analysis, drawing on survey data provided by 64.1% of alumni (75.9% of alumni with valid email addresses), plus program-supplied current workplace data for survey nonresponders to examine the relationships between medical specialty choices, training duration, research effort, and success in obtaining research funding. The results show that residency choices affect critical aspects of the physician-scientist career path, including where graduates work, how long it takes them to obtain an independent appointment in academia, and the amount of their professional time that is devoted to research. Entrants into MD-PhD programs are older, on average, now than when the programs were first established and are taking longer to graduate and complete postgraduate training. Although we found a positive relationship between professional effort devoted to research and the likelihood of having research funding, we found little evidence that the increase in training duration produces an increase in subsequent research effort. These data should provide both guidance for anyone considering this career path and insights for those who train and hire the next generation of physician-scientists.


A large portion of the global population carries latent herpes simplex virus (HSV), which can periodically reactivate, resulting in asymptomatic shedding or formation of ulcerative lesions. Current anti-HSV drugs do not eliminate latent virus from sensory neurons where HSV resides, and therefore do not eliminate the risk of transmission or recurrent disease. Here, we report the ability of HSV-specific endonucleases to induce mutations of essential HSV genes both in cultured neurons and in latently infected mice. In neurons, viral genomes are susceptible to endonuclease-mediated mutagenesis, regardless of the time of treatment after HSV infection, suggesting that both HSV lytic and latent forms can be targeted. Mutagenesis frequency after endonuclease exposure can be increased nearly 2-fold by treatment with a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Using a mouse model of latent HSV infection, we demonstrate that a targeted endonuclease can be delivered to viral latency sites via an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector, where it is able to induce mutation of latent HSV genomes. These data provide the first proof-of-principle to our knowledge for the use of a targeted endonuclease as an antiviral agent to treat an established latent viral infection in vivo.

Concepts: HIV, DNA, Virus, Infection, Herpes simplex virus, Herpesviridae, Herpes simplex, Virus latency


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoid used in multiple sclerosis and intractable epilepsies. Preclinical studies show CBD has numerous cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced blood pressure (BP) response to stress. The aim of this study was to investigate if CBD reduces BP in humans.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Blood, Crossover study, Multiple sclerosis, Pre-clinical development, Cultural studies


Successful reproduction is a fundamental physiological process that relies on the integration of sensory cues of attraction with appropriate emotions and behaviors and the reproductive axis. However, the factors responsible for this integration remain largely unexplored. Using functional neuroimaging, hormonal, and psychometric analyses, we demonstrate that the reproductive hormone kisspeptin enhances brain activity in response to olfactory and visual cues of attraction in men. Furthermore, the brain regions enhanced by kisspeptin correspond to areas within the olfactory and limbic systems that govern sexual behavior and perception of beauty as well as overlap with its endogenous expression pattern. Of key functional and behavioral significance, we observed that kisspeptin was most effective in men with lower sexual quality-of-life scores. As such, our results reveal a previously undescribed attraction pathway in humans activated by kisspeptin and identify kisspeptin signaling as a new therapeutic target for related reproductive and psychosexual disorders.