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

Journal: Molecular and cellular pediatrics


About 150 human rhinovirus serotypes are responsible for more than 50 % of recurrent upper respiratory infections. Despite having similar 3D structures, some bind members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor family, some ICAM-1, and some use CDHR3 for host cell infection. This is also reflected in the pathways exploited for cellular entry. We found that even rhinovirus serotypes binding the same receptor can travel along different endocytic pathways and release their RNA genome into the cytosol at different locations. How this may account for distinct immune responses elicited by various rhinoviruses and the observed symptoms of the common cold is briefly discussed.

Concepts: Immune system, Asthma, Influenza, Otitis media, Fatigue, Upper respiratory tract infection, Common cold, Rhinovirus


Incomplete intestinal absorption of fructose might lead to abdominal complaints such as pain, flatulence and diarrhoea. Whether defect fructose transporters such as GLUT5 or GLUT2 are involved in the pathogenesis of fructose malabsorption is a matter of debate. The hydrogen production by colonic bacteria is used for diagnosis with the hydrogen breath test. However, the appropriate fructose test dose for correct diagnosis is unclear. Subjects with fructose malabsorption show increased breath hydrogen levels and abdominal symptoms after fructose administration but do not report any symptoms when fructose is given together with glucose. This beneficial effect of glucose, however, cannot be explained yet but might be used for clinical care of these subjects.

Concepts: Glucose, Intestine, Gastroenterology, Small intestine, Fructose, Diarrhea, Fructose malabsorption, Hydrogen breath test


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease in which bacterial infections of the airways play a major role in the long-term clinical outcome. In recent years, a number of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based studies aimed at deciphering the structure and composition of the airways' microbiota. It was shown that the nasal cavity of CF patients displays dysbiosis early in life indicating a failure in the first establishment of a healthy microbiota. In contrast, within the conducting and lower airways, the establishment occurs normally first, but is sensitive to future dysbiosis including chronic infections with classical pathogens in later life. The objective of this mini-review is to give an update on the current knowledge about the development of the microbiota in the early life of CF patients. Microbial acquisition in the human airways can be described by the island model: Microbes found in the lower airways of CF patients represent “islands” that are at first populated from the upper airways reflecting the “mainland.” Colonization can be modeled following the neutral theory in which the most abundant bacteria in the mainland are also frequently found in the lower airways initially. At later times, however, the colonization process of the lower airways segregates by active selection of specific microbes. Future research should focus on those processes of microbial and host interactions to understand how microbial communities are shaped on short- and long-term scales. We point out what therapeutic consequences arise from the microbiome data obtained within ecological framework models.

Concepts: Immune system, Archaea, Natural selection, Bacteria, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Cystic fibrosis, Respiratory system


Retinoic acid (RA), the active form of vitamin A, regulates key developmental processes in multiple organs. In the developing lung, RA is crucial for normal growth and differentiation of airways. Disruption in RA signaling or vitamin A deficiency (VAD) has been linked to aberrant development of the lung including alterations in the airway smooth muscle (SM) differentiation, development, and function. These alterations have been linked to disease states including asthma in both human and animal models.

Concepts: Asthma, Lung, Developmental biology, Heart, Smooth muscle, Developmental psychology, Vitamin A, Retinoic acid


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects a large number of children throughout the world. The symptom expression of IBS is heterogeneous, and several factors which may be interrelated within the IBS biopsychosocial model play a role. These factors include visceral hyperalgesia, intestinal permeability, gut microbiota, psychosocial distress, gut inflammation, bile acids, food intolerance, colonic bacterial fermentation, and genetics. The molecular and cellular mechanisms of these factors are being actively investigated. In this mini-review, we present updates of these mechanisms and, where possible, relate the findings to childhood IBS. Mechanistic elucidation may lead to the identification of biomarkers as well as personalized childhood IBS therapies.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Yeast, Digestive system, Constipation, Gastroenterology, Irritable bowel syndrome, Flatulence


Primary cilia are membrane-bound microtubule-based protuberances of the cell membrane projecting to the extracellular environment. While little attention was paid to this subcellular structure over a long time, recent research has highlighted multiple cellular functions of primary cilia and has brought cilia to the focus of medical and cell biological research.

Concepts: Medicine, Gene, Cell, Cell membrane, Organelle, Organ, Lipid bilayer, Cilium


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a lethal monogenic disease caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene that entails the (diagnostic) increase in sweat electrolyte concentrations, progressive lung disease with chronic inflammation and recurrent bacterial infections, pancreatic insufficiency, and male infertility. Therapies aimed at restoring the CFTR defect have emerged. Thus, a small molecule which facilitates chloride channel opening, the potentiator Ivacaftor, has been approved for the treatment of CF patients bearing a particular class of rare CFTR mutations. However, small molecules that directly target the most common misfolded CFTR mutant, F508del, and improve its intracellular trafficking in vitro, have been less effective than expected when tested in CF patients, even in combination with Ivacaftor. Thus, new strategies are required to circumvent the F508del-CFTR defect. Airway and intestinal epithelial cells from CF patients bearing the F508del-CFTR mutation exhibit an impressive derangement of cellular proteostasis, with oxidative stress, overactivation of the tissue transglutaminase (TG2), and disabled autophagy. Proteostasis regulators such as cysteamine can rescue and stabilize a functional F508del-CFTR protein through suppressing TG2 activation and restoring autophagy in vivo in F508del-CFTR homozygous mice, in vitro in CF patient-derived cell lines, ex vivo in freshly collected primary patient’s nasal cells, as well as in a pilot clinical trial involving homozygous F508del-CFTR patients. Here, we discuss how the therapeutic normalization of defective proteostasis can be harnessed for the treatment of CF patients with the F508del-CFTR mutation.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Bacteria, In vivo, Cystic fibrosis, In vitro, Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator


Birth cohort studies can contribute substantially to the understanding of health and disease - in childhood and over the life course. The KUNO-Kids birth cohort study was established to investigate various aspects of child health, using novel omics technologies in a systems medicine approach.


β-Thalassemia is an inherited hematological disorder caused by mutations in the human hemoglobin beta (HBB) gene that reduce or abrogate β-globin expression. Although lentiviral-mediated expression of β-globin and autologous transplantation is a promising therapeutic approach, the risk of insertional mutagenesis or low transgene expression is apparent. However, targeted gene correction of HBB mutations with programmable nucleases such as CRISPR/Cas9, TALENs, and ZFNs with non-viral repair templates ensures a higher safety profile and endogenous expression control.


Survival rates of children with cancer are steadily increasing. This urges our attention to neurocognitive and psychiatric outcomes, as these can markedly influence the quality of life of these children. Neurobehavioral morbidity in childhood cancer survivors affects diverse aspects of cognitive function, which can include attention, memory, processing speed, intellect, academic achievement, and emotional health. Reasons for neurobehavioral morbidity are multiple with one major contributor being chemotherapy-induced central nervous system (CNS) toxicity. Clinical studies investigating the effects of chemotherapy on the CNS in children with cancer have reported causative associations with the development of leukoencephalopathies as well as smaller regional grey and white matter volumes, which have been found to correlate with neurocognitive deficits.Preclinical work has provided compelling evidence that chemotherapy drugs are potent neuro- and gliotoxins in vitro and in vivo and can cause brain injury via excitotoxic and apoptotic mechanisms. Furthermore, chemotherapy triggers DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) damage directly or through increased oxidative stress. It can shorten telomeres and accelerate cell aging, cause cytokine deregulation, inhibit hippocampal neurogenesis, and reduce brain vascularization and blood flow. These mechanisms, when allowed to operate on the developing brain of a child, have high potential to not only cause brain injury, but also alter crucial developmental events, such as myelination, synaptogenesis, neurogenesis, cortical thinning, and formation of neuronal networks.This short review summarizes key publications describing neurotoxicity of chemotherapy in pediatric cancers and potential underlying pathomechanisms.