Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are chemically synthesized nucleic acid analogs designed to bind to RNA by Watson-Crick base pairing. Following binding to the targeted RNA, the ASO perturbs RNA function by promoting selective degradation of the targeted RNA, altering RNA intermediary metabolism, or disrupting function of the RNA. Most antisense drugs are chemically modified to enhance their pharmacological properties and for passive targeting of the tissues of therapeutic interest. Recent advances in selective tissue targeting have resulted in a newer generation of ASO drugs that are more potent and better tolerated than previous generations, spawning renewed interest in identifying selective ligands that enhance targeted delivery of ASOs to tissues.
Punit P. Seth, Michael Tanowitz, C. Frank Bennett
Although platelets are best known for their role in hemostasis, they are also crucial in development, host defense, inflammation, and tissue repair. Many of these roles are regulated by the immune-like receptors glycoprotein VI (GPVI) and C-type lectin receptor 2 (CLEC-2), which signal through an immunoreceptor tyrosine–based activation motif (ITAM). GPVI is activated by collagen in the subendothelial matrix, by fibrin and fibrinogen in the thrombus, and by a remarkable number of other ligands. CLEC-2 is activated by the transmembrane protein podoplanin, which is found outside of the vasculature and is upregulated in development, inflammation, and cancer, but there is also evidence for additional ligands. In this Review, we discuss the physiological and pathological roles of CLEC-2 and GPVI and their potential as targets in thrombosis and thrombo-inflammatory disorders (i.e., disorders in which inflammation plays a critical role in the ensuing thrombosis) relative to current antiplatelet drugs.
Julie Rayes, Steve P. Watson, Bernhard Nieswandt
Donor age and recipient age are factors that influence transplantation outcomes. Aside from age-associated differences in intrinsic graft function and alloimmune responses, the ability of young and old cells to exert either rejuvenating or aging effects extrinsically may also apply to the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells or solid organ transplants. While the potential for rejuvenation mediated by the transfer of youthful cells is currently being explored for therapeutic applications, aspects that relate to accelerating aging are no less clinically significant. Those effects may be particularly relevant in transplantation with an age discrepancy between donor and recipient. Here, we review recent advances in understanding the mechanisms by which young and old cells modify their environments to promote rejuvenation- or aging-associated phenotypes. We discuss their relevance to clinical transplantation and highlight potential opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Ashley Lau, Brian K. Kennedy, James L. Kirkland, Stefan G. Tullius
Fibrosis, the progressive accumulation of connective tissue that occurs in response to injury, causes irreparable organ damage and may result in organ failure. The few available antifibrotic treatments modify the rate of fibrosis progression, but there are no available treatments to reverse established fibrosis. Thus, more effective therapies are urgently needed. Molecular imaging is a promising biomedical methodology that enables noninvasive visualization of cellular and subcellular processes. It provides a unique means to monitor and quantify dysregulated molecular fibrotic pathways in a noninvasive manner. Molecular imaging could be used for early detection, disease staging, and prognostication, as well as for assessing disease activity and treatment response. As fibrotic diseases are often molecularly heterogeneous, molecular imaging of a specific pathway could be used for patient stratification and cohort enrichment with the goal of improving clinical trial design and feasibility and increasing the ability to detect a definitive outcome for new therapies. Here we review currently available molecular imaging probes for detecting fibrosis and fibrogenesis, the active formation of new fibrous tissue, and their application to models of fibrosis across organ systems and fibrotic processes. We provide our opinion as to the potential roles of molecular imaging in human fibrotic diseases.
Sydney B. Montesi, Pauline Désogère, Bryan C. Fuchs, Peter Caravan
Mitochondrial respiratory deficiencies have been observed in numerous neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. For decades, these reductions in oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) have been presumed to trigger an overall bioenergetic crisis in the neuron, resulting in cell death. While the connection between respiratory defects and neuronal death has never been proven, this hypothesis has been supported by the detection of nonspecific mitochondrial DNA mutations in these disorders. These findings led to the notion that mitochondrial respiratory defects could be initiators of these common neurodegenerative disorders, instead of being consequences of a prior insult, a theory we believe to be misconstrued. Herein, we review the roots of this mitochondrial hypothesis and offer a new perspective wherein mitochondria are analyzed not only from the OxPhos point of view, but also as a complex organelle residing at the epicenter of many metabolic pathways.
Estela Area-Gomez, Cristina Guardia-Laguarta, Eric A. Schon, Serge Przedborski
A complex DNA repair machinery has evolved to protect genomic integrity in the face of a myriad of DNA damage sources. When DNA repair fails, this damage can lead to carcinogenesis and tumor genomic instability. Indeed, many heritable cancer predisposition syndromes are attributable to germline defects in DNA repair pathways. On the other hand, these defects may also portend particular vulnerabilities of the cancer and may be exploited therapeutically. Most recently this has been demonstrated in the case of mismatch repair-deficient cancers, in which the immune checkpoint inhibitors have been demonstrated to be highly active. This observation has paved the way for further research investigating other sources of genomic instability that may serve as biomarkers to select patients for immunotherapy.
Katherine M. Bever, Dung T. Le
At implantation, the embryo expresses paternally derived alloantigens and evokes inflammation that can threaten reproductive success. To ensure a robust placenta and sustainable pregnancy, an active state of maternal immune tolerance mediated by CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) is essential. Tregs operate to inhibit effector immunity, contain inflammation, and support maternal vascular adaptations, thereby facilitating trophoblast invasion and placental access to the maternal blood supply. Insufficient Treg numbers or inadequate functional competence are implicated in idiopathic infertility and recurrent miscarriage as well as later-onset pregnancy complications stemming from placental insufficiency, including preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. In this Review, we summarize the mechanisms acting in the conception environment to drive the Treg response and discuss prospects for targeting the T cell compartment to alleviate immune-based reproductive disorders.
Sarah A. Robertson, Alison S. Care, Lachlan M. Moldenhauer
Current immune checkpoint-modulating agents have demonstrated clinical efficacy in certain tumor types, particularly those with a high burden of tumor-specific neoantigens, high tumor-mutational burden, and abundant tumor-infiltrating T cells. However, these tumors often stop responding, with signs of T cells exhaustion, decreased T cell effector function, and upregulated inhibitory checkpoints. To enhance antitumor immunity and rescue exhausted T cells, newer inhibitory and stimulatory checkpoint modulators are being tested as monotherapy or in combination with approved checkpoint inhibitors. In contrast, tumors with low tumor-mutational burden, low neoantigen burden, and a paucity of T cells are immunologically “cold,” and therefore first require the addition of agents to facilitate the induction of T cells into tumors. Cold tumors also often recruit immunosuppressive cell subsets, including regulatory T cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and macrophages, and secrete immunosuppressive soluble cytokines, chemokines, and metabolites. To unleash an optimal antitumor immune response, combinatorial therapeutics that combine immune checkpoints with other modalities, such as vaccines, are being developed. From current preclinical data, it appears that combinatorial strategies will provide robust and durable responses in patients with immunologically cold cancers.
Aleksandra Popovic, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, Neeha Zaidi
The motor neuron disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by recessive, loss-of-function mutations of the survival motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1). Alone, such mutations are embryonically lethal, but SMA patients retain a paralog gene, SMN2, that undergoes alternative pre-mRNA splicing, producing low levels of SMN protein. By mechanisms that are not well understood, reduced expression of the ubiquitously expressed SMN protein causes an early-onset motor neuron disease that often results in infantile or childhood mortality. Recently, striking clinical improvements have resulted from two novel treatment strategies to increase SMN protein by (a) modulating the splicing of existing SMN2 pre-mRNAs using antisense oligonucleotides, and (b) transducing motor neurons with self-complementary adeno-associated virus 9 (scAAV9) expressing exogenous SMN1 cDNA. We review the recently published clinical trial results and discuss the differing administration, tissue targeting, and potential toxicities of these two therapies. We also focus on the challenges that remain, emphasizing the many clinical and biologic questions that remain open. Answers to these questions will enable further optimization of these remarkable SMA treatments as well as provide insights that may well be useful in application of these therapeutic platforms to other diseases.
Charlotte J. Sumner, Thomas O. Crawford
All species organize behaviors to optimally match daily changes in the environment, leading to pronounced activity/rest cycles that track the light/dark cycle. Endogenous, approximately 24-hour circadian rhythms in the brain, autonomic nervous system, heart, and vasculature prepare the cardiovascular system for optimal function during these anticipated behavioral cycles. Cardiovascular circadian rhythms, however, may be a double-edged sword. The normal amplified responses in the morning may aid the transition from sleep to activity, but such exaggerated responses are potentially perilous in individuals susceptible to adverse cardiovascular events. Indeed, the occurrence of stroke, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death all have daily patterns, striking most frequently in the morning. Furthermore, chronic disruptions of the circadian clock, as with night-shift work, contribute to increased cardiovascular risk. Here we highlight the importance of the circadian system to normal cardiovascular function and to cardiovascular disease, and identify opportunities for optimizing timing of medications in cardiovascular disease.
Saurabh S. Thosar, Matthew P. Butler, Steven A. Shea
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