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  1. Brodsky, Igor E. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT The opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 has an extensive metabolism, enabling it to utilize a wide range of structurally diverse compounds to meet its nutritional and energy needs. Interestingly, the utilization of some of the more unusual compounds often associated with a eukaryotic-host environment is regulated via enhancer-binding proteins (EBPs) in P. aeruginosa . Whether the utilization of such compounds and the EBPs involved contribute to the pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa remains to be fully understood. To narrow this gap, we investigated the roles of the EBPs EatR (regulator of ethanolamine catabolism), DdaR (regulator of methylarginine catabolism), and MifR (regulator of α-ketoglutarate or α-KG transport) in the virulence of P. aeruginosa PAO1 in a pneumonia-induced septic mouse model. Deletion of genes encoding EatR and DdaR had no significant effect on the mortality of P. aeruginosa PAO1-infected mice compared to wide-type (WT) PAO1-infected mice. In contrast, infected mice with Δ mifR mutant exhibited a significant reduction (~50%) in the mortality rate compared with WT PAO1 ( P < 0.05). Infected mice with Δ mifR PAO1 had lower lung injury scores, fewer inflammatory cells, decreased proinflammatory cytokines, and decreased apoptosis and cell death compared to mice infected with WT PAO1 ( P < 0.05). Furthermore, molecular analysis revealed decreased NLRP3 inflammasome activation in infected mice with Δ mifR PAO1 compared to WT PAO1 ( P < 0.05). These results suggested that the utilization of α-KG was a contributing factor in P. aeruginosa -mediated pneumonia and sepsis and that MifR-associated regulation may be a potential therapeutic target for P. aeruginosa infectious disease. 
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  2. Otitis media (OM) is the most common disease among young children and one of the most frequent reasons to visit the pediatrician. Development of OM requires nasopharyngeal colonization by a pathogen which must gain access to the tympanic cavity through the eustachian tube (ET) along with being able to overcome the defense mechanisms of the immune system and middle ear mucosa. OM can be caused by viral or bacterial infection. The three main bacterial pathogens are Streptococcus pneumoniae, nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), and Moraxella catarrhalis. Innate immunity is important in OM resolution as the disease occurs in very young children before the development of specific immunity. Elements of innate immunity include natural barriers and pattern recognition receptors such as Toll like receptors (TLRs), and Nod like receptors (NLRs). Surfactant proteins A (SP-A) and D (SP-D) act as pattern recognition receptors and are found in the lung and many other tissues including the ET and the middle ear where they probably function in host defense. Surfactant has a potential for use in the treatment of OM due to surface tension lowering function in the ET, and the possible immune functions of SP-D and SP-A in the middle ear and ET. 
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  3. Surfactant protein D (SP-D) is a C-type collectin and plays an important role in innate immunity and homeostasis in the lung. This study studied SP-D role in the nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi)-induced otitis media (OM) mouse model. Wild-type C57BL/6 (WT) and SP-D knockout (KO) mice were used in this study. Mice were injected in the middle ear (ME) with 5 μL of NTHi bacterial solution (3.5 × 105 CFU/ear) or with the same volume of sterile saline (control). Mice were sacrificed at 3 time points, days 1, 3, and 7, after treatment. We found SP-D expression in the Eustachian tube (ET) and ME mucosa of WT mice but not in SP-D KO mice. After infection, SP-D KO mice showed more intense inflammatory changes evidenced by the increased mucosal thickness and inflammatory cell infiltration in the ME and ET compared to WT mice (p < 0.05). Increased bacterial colony-forming units and cytokine (IL-6 and IL-1β) levels in the ear washing fluid of infected SP-D KO mice were compared to infected WT mice. Molecular analysis revealed higher levels of NF-κB and NLRP3 activation in infected SP-D KO compared to WT mice (p < 0.05). In vitro studies demonstrated that SP-D significantly induced NTHi bacterial aggregation and enhanced bacterial phagocytosis by macrophages (p < 0.05). Furthermore, human ME epithelial cells showed a dose-dependent increased expression of NLRP3 and SP-D proteins after LPS treatment. We conclude that SP-D plays a critical role in innate immunity and disease resolution through enhancing host defense and regulating inflammatory NF-κB and NLRP3 activation in experimental OM mice. 
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  4. Disorders of cartilage homeostasis and chondrocyte apoptosis are major events in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA). Herein, we sought to assess the chondroprotective effect and underlying mechanisms of a novel chemically modified curcumin, CMC2.24, in modulating extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis and inhibiting chondrocyte apoptosis. Rats underwent the anterior cruciate ligament transection and medial menisci resection were treated by intra-articular injection with CMC2.24. In vitro study, rat chondrocytes were pretreated with CMC2.24 before stimulation with sodium nitroprusside (SNP). The effects of CMC2.24 on cartilage homeostasis and chondrocyte apoptosis were observed. The results from in vivo studies demonstrated that the intra-articular administration of CMC2.24 delayed cartilage degeneration and suppressed chondrocyte apoptosis. CMC2.24 ameliorated osteoarthritic cartilage destruction by promoting collagen 2a1 production and inhibited cartilage degradation and apoptosis by suppressing hypoxia-inducible factor-2a (Hif-2α), matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3), runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), cleaved caspase-3, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the phosphorylation of IκBα and NF-κB p65. The in vitro results revealed that CMC2.24 exhibited a strong inhibitory effect on SNP-induced chondrocyte catabolism and apoptosis. The SNP-enhanced expression of Hif-2α, catabolic and apoptotic factor, decreased after CMC2.24 treatment in a dose-dependent manner. CMC2.24 pretreatment effectively inhibited SNP-induced IκBα and NF-κB p65 phosphorylation in rat chondrocytes, whereas the pretreatment with NF-κB antagonist BMS-345541 significantly enhanced the effects of CMC2.24. Taken together, these results demonstrated that CMC2.24 attenuates OA progression by modulating ECM homeostasis and chondrocyte apoptosis via suppression of the NF-κB/Hif-2α axis, thus providing a new perspective for the therapeutic strategy of OA. 
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