Elizabeth Mellins, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Environmental Microcystin exposure in underlying NAFLD-induced exacerbation of neuroinflammation, blood-brain barrier dysfunction, and neurodegeneration are NLRP3 and S100B dependent.
2021; 461: 152901
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been shown to be associated with extrahepatic comorbidities including neuronal inflammation and Alzheimer's-like pathology. Environmental and genetic factors also act as a second hit to modulate severity and are expected to enhance the NAFLD-linked neuropathology. We hypothezied that environmental microcystin-LR (MC-LR), a toxin produced by harmful algal blooms of cyanobacteria, exacerbates the neuroinflammation and degeneration of neurons associated with NAFLD. Using a mouse model of NAFLD, exposed to MC-LR subsequent to the onset of fatty liver, we show that the cyanotoxin could significantly increase proinflammatory cytokine expression in the frontal cortex and cause increased expression of Lcn2 and HMGB1. The above effects were NLRP3 inflammasome activation-dependent since the use of NLRP3 knockout mice abrogated the increase in inflammation. NLRP3 was also responsible for decreased expression of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) tight junction proteins Occludin and Claudin 5 suggesting BBB dysfunction was parallel to neuroinflammation following microcystin exposure. An increased circulatory S100B release, a hallmark of astrocyte activation in MC-LR exposed NAFLD mice also confirmed BBB integrity loss, but the astrocyte activation observed in vivo was NLRP3 independent suggesting an important role of a secondary S100B mediated crosstalk. Mechanistically, conditioned medium from reactive astrocytes and parallel S100B incubation in neuronal cells caused increased inducible NOS, COX-2, and higher BAX/ Bcl2 protein expression suggesting oxidative stress-mediated neuronal cell apoptosis crucial for neurodegeneration. Taken together, MC-LR exacerbated neuronal NAFLD-linked comorbidities leading to cortical inflammation, BBB dysfunction, and neuronal apoptosis.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tox.2021.152901
View details for PubMedID 34416350
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8503918
Higher intestinal and circulatory lactate associated NOX2 activation leads to an ectopic fibrotic pathology following microcystin co-exposure in murine fatty liver disease
COMPARATIVE BIOCHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY C-TOXICOLOGY & PHARMACOLOGY
2020; 238: 108854
Clinical studies implicated an increased risk of intestinal fibrosis in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Our previous studies have shown that microcystin-LR (MC-LR) exposure led to altered gut microbiome and increased abundance of lactate producing bacteria and intestinal inflammation in underlying NAFLD. This led us to further investigate the effects of the MC-LR, a PP2A inhibitor in activating the TGF-β fibrotic pathway in the intestines that might be mediated by increased lactate induced redox enzyme NOX2. Exposure to MC-LR led to higher lactate levels in circulation and in the intestinal content. The higher lactate levels were associated with NOX2 activation in vivo that led to increased Smad2/3-Smad4 co-localization and high alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) immunoreactivity in the intestines. Mechanistically, primary mouse intestinal epithelial cells treated with lactate and MC-LR separately led to higher NOX2 activation, phosphorylation of TGFβR1 receptor and subsequent Smad 2/3-Smad4 co-localization inhibitable by apocynin (NOX2 inhibitor), FBA (a peroxynitrite scavenger) and DMPO (a nitrone spin trap), catalase and superoxide dismutase. Inhibition of NOX2-induced redox signaling also showed a significant decrease in collagen protein thus suggesting a strong redox signaling induced activation of an ectopic fibrotic manifestation in the intestines. In conclusion, the present study provides mechanistic insight into the role of microcystin in dysbiosis-linked lactate production and subsequently advances our knowledge in lactate-induced NOX2 exacerbation of the cell differentiation and fibrosis in the NAFLD intestines.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cbpc.2020.108854
View details for Web of Science ID 000576813300002
View details for PubMedID 32781293
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7541568
Obesity Worsens Gulf War Illness Symptom Persistence Pathology by Linking Altered Gut Microbiome Species to Long-Term Gastrointestinal, Hepatic, and Neuronal Inflammation in a Mouse Model.
2020; 12 (9)
Persistence of Gulf War illness (GWI) pathology among deployed veterans is a clinical challenge even after almost three decades. Recent studies show a higher prevalence of obesity and metabolic disturbances among Gulf War veterans primarily due to the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic fatigue, sedentary lifestyle, and consumption of a high-carbohydrate/high-fat diet. We test the hypothesis that obesity from a Western-style diet alters host gut microbial species and worsens gastrointestinal and neuroinflammatory symptom persistence. We used a 5 month Western diet feeding in mice that received prior Gulf War (GW) chemical exposure to mimic the home phase obese phenotype of the deployed GW veterans. The host microbial profile in the Western diet-fed GWI mice showed a significant decrease in butyrogenic and immune health-restoring bacteria. The altered microbiome was associated with increased levels of IL6 in the serum, Claudin-2, IL6, and IL1β in the distal intestine with concurrent inflammatory lesions in the liver and hyperinsulinemia. Microbial dysbiosis was also associated with frontal cortex levels of increased IL6 and IL1β, activated microglia, decreased levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and higher accumulation of phosphorylated Tau, an indicator of neuroinflammation-led increased risk of cognitive deficiencies. Mechanistically, serum from Western diet-fed mice with GWI significantly increased microglial activation in transformed microglial cells, increased tyrosyl radicals, and secreted IL6. Collectively, the results suggest that an existing obese phenotype in GWI worsens persistent gastrointestinal and neuronal inflammation, which may contribute to poor outcomes in restoring cognitive function and resolving fatigue, leading to the deterioration of quality of life.
View details for DOI 10.3390/nu12092764
View details for PubMedID 32927823
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7551189
TLR Antagonism by Sparstolonin B Alters Microbial Signature and Modulates Gastrointestinal and Neuronal Inflammation in Gulf War Illness Preclinical Model
2020; 10 (8)
The 1991 Persian Gulf War veterans presented a myriad of symptoms that ranged from chronic pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, and cognitive deficits. Currently, no therapeutic regimen exists to treat the plethora of chronic symptoms though newer pharmacological targets such as microbiome have been identified recently. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) antagonism in systemic inflammatory diseases have been tried before with limited success, but strategies with broad-spectrum TLR4 antagonists and their ability to modulate the host-microbiome have been elusive. Using a mouse model of Gulf War Illness, we show that a nutraceutical, derived from a Chinese herb Sparstolonin B (SsnB) presented a unique microbiome signature with an increased abundance of butyrogenic bacteria. SsnB administration restored a normal tight junction protein profile with an increase in Occludin and a parallel decrease in Claudin 2 and inflammatory mediators high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the distal intestine. SsnB also decreased neuronal inflammation by decreasing IL-1β and HMGB1, while increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), with a parallel decrease in astrocyte activation in vitro. Mechanistically, SsnB inhibited the binding of HMGB1 and myeloid differentiation primary response protein (MyD88) to TLR4 in the intestine, thus attenuating TLR4 downstream signaling. Studies also showed that SsnB was effective in suppressing TLR4-induced nod-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome activation, a prominent inflammatory disease pathway. SsnB significantly decreased astrocyte activation by decreasing colocalization of glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) and S100 calcium-binding protein B (S100B), a crucial event in neuronal inflammation. Inactivation of SsnB by treating the parent molecule by acetate reversed the deactivation of NLRP3 inflammasome and astrocytes in vitro, suggesting that SsnB molecular motifs may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory activity.
View details for DOI 10.3390/brainsci10080532
View details for Web of Science ID 000568025500001
View details for PubMedID 32784362
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7463890
Lipocalin 2 induces neuroinflammation and blood-brain barrier dysfunction through liver-brain axis in murine model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Journal of neuroinflammation
2020; 17 (1): 201
Recent clinical and basic research implicated a strong correlation between NAFLD/NASH phenotypes with ectopic manifestations including neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, but the mediators and critical pathways involved are not well understood. Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2) is one of the important mediators exclusively produced in the liver and circulation during NASH pathology.Using murine model of NASH, we studied the role of Lcn2 as a potent mediator of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in NASH pathology via the liver-brain axis.Results showed that high circulatory Lcn2 activated 24p3R (Lipocalin2 receptor) in the brain and induced the release of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) preferably from brain cells. Released HMGB1 acted as a preferential ligand to toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and induced oxidative stress by activation of NOX-2 signaling involving activated p65 protein of the NF-κB complex. Further, the HMGB1-derived downstream signaling cascade activated NLRP3 inflammasome and release of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β from brain cells. In addition, to advance our present understanding, in vitro studies were performed in primary brain endothelial cells where results showed high circulatory Lcn2 influenced HMGB1 secretion. Mechanistically, we also showed that elevated Lcn2 level in underlying NASH might be a likely cause for induction of blood-brain barrier dysfunction since the adipokine decreased the expression of tight junction protein Claudin 5 and caused subsequent elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β.In conclusion, the NASH-induced brain pathology might be because of increased Lcn2-induced release of HMGB1 and accompanying neuroinflammation.
View details for DOI 10.1186/s12974-020-01876-4
View details for PubMedID 32622362
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7335438
Gut DNA Virome Diversity and Its Association with Host Bacteria Regulate Inflammatory Phenotype and Neuronal Immunotoxicity in Experimental Gulf War Illness.
2019; 11 (10)
Gulf War illness (GWI) is characterized by the persistence of inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue, neuroinflammation, headache, cognitive impairment, and other medically unexplained conditions. Results using a murine model show that enteric viral populations especially bacteriophages were altered in GWI. The increased viral richness and alpha diversity correlated positively with gut bacterial dysbiosis and proinflammatory cytokines. Altered virome signature in GWI mice also had a concomitant weakening of intestinal epithelial tight junctions with a significant increase in Claudin-2 protein expression and decrease in ZO1 and Occludin mRNA expression. The altered virome signature in GWI, decreased tight junction protein level was followed by the presence an activation of innate immune responses such as increased Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathways. The altered virome diversity had a positive correlation with serum IL-6, IL-1β, and IFN-γ, intestinal inflammation (IFN-γ), and decreased Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a neurogenesis marker. The co-exposure of Gulf War chemical and antibiotic (for gut sterility) or Gulf War chemical and Ribavirin, an antiviral compound to suppress virus alteration in the gut showed significant improvement in epithelial tight junction protein, decreased intestinal-, systemic-, and neuroinflammation. These results showed that the observed enteric viral dysbiosis could activate enteric viral particle-induced innate immune response in GWI and could be a novel therapeutic target in GWI.
View details for DOI 10.3390/v11100968
View details for PubMedID 31640184
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6832151
Acinetobacter baumannii transfers the blaNDM-1 gene via outer membrane vesicles.
The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
2017; 72 (8): 2201-2207
To investigate the transmission of the gene encoding New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 ( bla NDM-1 ) through outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) released from an Acinetobacter baumannii strain (A_115).Isolation and purification of OMVs by density gradient from a carbapenem-resistant clinical strain of A. baumannii harbouring plasmid-mediated bla NDM-1 and aac(6')-Ib-cr genes was performed. DNA was purified from the OMVs and used for PCR and dot-blot analysis. Vesicles treated with DNase I and proteinase K were used to transform A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and Escherichia coli JM109 strains. MIC values for the transformants were determined, followed by PCR and restriction digestion of plasmids. PFGE was done for A_115 and transformants of ATCC 19606 and JM109.The A. baumannii strain (ST 1462) released vesicles (25-100 nm) during in vitro growth at late log phase. PCR and dot-blot analysis confirmed the presence of bla NDM-1 and aac(6')-Ib-cr genes in intravesicular DNA. bla NDM-1 and aac(6')-Ib-cr genes were transferred to both the A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and E. coli JM109 recipient cells. The transformation frequency of the purified OMVs was in the range of 10 -5 -10 -6 and gradually reduced with storage of OMVs. The sizes of the plasmids in the transformants and their restriction digestion patterns were identical to the plasmid in A_115. The transformants showed elevated MIC values of the β-lactam group of antibiotics, which confirmed the presence of a bla NDM-1 -harbouring plasmid.This is the first experimental evidence of intra- and inter-species transfer of a plasmid harbouring a bla NDM-1 gene in A. baumannii via OMVs with high transformation frequency.
View details for DOI 10.1093/jac/dkx131
View details for PubMedID 28505330
Cytotoxic and Inflammatory Responses Induced by Outer Membrane Vesicle-Associated Biologically Active Proteases from Vibrio cholerae.
Infection and immunity
2016; 84 (5): 1478-1490
Proteases in Vibrio cholerae have been shown to play a role in its pathogenesis. V. cholerae secretes Zn-dependent hemagglutinin protease (HAP) and calcium-dependent trypsin-like serine protease (VesC) by using the type II secretion system (TIISS). Our present studies demonstrated that these proteases are also secreted in association with outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) and transported to human intestinal epithelial cells in an active form. OMV-associated HAP induces dose-dependent apoptosis in Int407 cells and an enterotoxic response in the mouse ileal loop (MIL) assay, whereas OMV-associated VesC showed a hemorrhagic fluid response in the MIL assay, necrosis in Int407 cells, and an increased interleukin-8 (IL-8) response in T84 cells, which were significantly reduced in OMVs from VesC mutant strain. Our results also showed that serine protease VesC plays a role in intestinal colonization of V. cholerae strains in adult mice. In conclusion, our study shows that V. cholerae OMVs secrete biologically active proteases which may play a role in cytotoxic and inflammatory responses.
View details for DOI 10.1128/IAI.01365-15
View details for PubMedID 26930702
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4862697