Along with a general decline in overall health, most chronic degenerative human diseases are inherently associated with increasing age. Age-associated cognitive impairments and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, are potentially debilitating conditions that lack viable options for treatment, resulting in a tremendous economic and societal cost. Most high-profile clinical trials for neurodegenerative diseases have led to inefficacious results, suggesting that novel approaches to treating these pathologies are needed. Numerous recent studies have demonstrated that senescent cells, which are characterized by sustained cell cycle arrest and production of a distinct senescence-associated secretory phenotype, accumulate with age and at sites of age-related diseases throughout the body, where they actively promote tissue deterioration. Cells with features of senescence have been detected in the context of brain aging and neurodegenerative disease, suggesting that they may also promote dysfunction. Here, we discuss the evidence implicating senescent cells in neurodegenerative diseases, the mechanistic contribution of these cells that may actively drive neurodegeneration, and how these cells or their effects may be targeted therapeutically.
Darren J. Baker, Ronald C. Petersen
Increased sugar consumption is increasingly considered to be a contributor to the worldwide epidemics of obesity and diabetes and their associated cardiometabolic risks. As a result of its unique metabolic properties, the fructose component of sugar may be particularly harmful. Diets high in fructose can rapidly produce all of the key features of the metabolic syndrome. Here we review the biology of fructose metabolism as well as potential mechanisms by which excessive fructose consumption may contribute to cardiometabolic disease.
Sarah A. Hannou, Danielle E. Haslam, Nicola M. McKeown, Mark A. Herman
The fundamental pathology in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is neuronal dysfunction leading to cognitive impairment. The amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), derived from amyloid precursor protein, is one driver of AD, but how it leads to neuronal dysfunction is not established. In this Review, I discuss the complexity of AD and possible cause-and-effect relationships between Aβ and the vascular and hemostatic systems. AD can be considered a multifactorial syndrome with various contributing pathological mechanisms. Therefore, as is routinely done with cancer, it will be important to classify patients with respect to their disease signature so that specific pathologies, including vascular pathways, can be therapeutically targeted.
The clinical spectrum of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) encompasses a common birth defect in humans that has significant impact on long-term patient survival. Overall, data indicate that approximately 20% of patients may have a genetic disorder that is usually not detected based on standard clinical evaluation, implicating many different mutational mechanisms and pathogenic pathways. In particular, 10% to 15% of CAKUT patients harbor an unsuspected genomic disorder that increases risk of neurocognitive impairment and whose early recognition can impact clinical care. The emergence of high-throughput genomic technologies is expected to provide insight into the common and rare genetic determinants of diseases and offer opportunities for early diagnosis with genetic testing.
Simone Sanna-Cherchi, Rik Westland, Gian Marco Ghiggeri, Ali G. Gharavi
Intratumoral fibrosis results from the deposition of a cross-linked collagen matrix by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). This type of fibrosis has been shown to exert mechanical forces and create a biochemical milieu that, together, shape intratumoral immunity and influence tumor cell metastatic behavior. In this Review, we present recent evidence that CAFs and tumor cells are regulated by provisional matrix molecules, that metastasis results from a change in the type of stromal collagen cross-link, and that fibrosis and inflammation perpetuate each other through proteolytic and chemotactic mediators released into the tumor stroma. We also discuss aspects of the emerging biology that have potential therapeutic value.
Mitsuo Yamauchi, Thomas H. Barker, Don L. Gibbons, Jonathan M. Kurie
Fibroblasts synthesize the extracellular matrix of connective tissue and play an essential role in maintaining the structural integrity of most tissues. Researchers have long suspected that fibroblasts exhibit functional specialization according to their organ of origin, body site, and spatial location. In recent years, a number of approaches have revealed the existence of fibroblast subtypes in mice. Here, we discuss fibroblast heterogeneity with a focus on the mammalian dermis, which has proven an accessible and tractable system for the dissection of these relationships. We begin by considering differences in fibroblast identity according to anatomical site of origin. Subsequently, we discuss new results relating to the existence of multiple fibroblast subtypes within the mouse dermis. We consider the developmental origin of fibroblasts and how this influences heterogeneity and lineage restriction. We discuss the mechanisms by which fibroblast heterogeneity arises, including intrinsic specification by transcriptional regulatory networks and epigenetic factors in combination with extrinsic effects of the spatial context within tissue. Finally, we discuss how fibroblast heterogeneity may provide insights into pathological states including wound healing, fibrotic diseases, and aging. Our evolving understanding suggests that ex vivo expansion or in vivo inhibition of specific fibroblast subtypes may have important therapeutic applications.
Magnus D. Lynch, Fiona M. Watt
Genetic investigations of fibrotic diseases, including those of late onset, often yield unanticipated insights into disease pathogenesis. This Review focuses on pathways underlying lung fibrosis that are generalizable to other organs. Herein, we discuss genetic variants subdivided into those that shorten telomeres, activate the DNA damage response, change resident protein expression or function, or affect organelle activity. Genetic studies provide a window into the downstream cascade of maladaptive responses and pathways that lead to tissue fibrosis. In addition, these studies reveal interactions between genetic variants, environmental factors, and age that influence the phenotypic spectrum of disease. The discovery of forces counterbalancing inherited risk alleles identifies potential therapeutic targets, thus providing hope for future prevention or reversal of fibrosis.
Christine Kim Garcia
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is dynamically tuned to optimize physiological function. Its major properties, including composition and mechanics, profoundly influence cell biology. Cell-ECM interactions operate through an integrated set of sensor and effector circuits that use several classes of receptors and signal transduction pathways. At the single-cell level, the ECM governs differentiation, metabolism, motility, orientation, proliferation, and survival. At the cell population level, the ECM provides higher-order guidance that is essential for physiological function. When pathological changes in the ECM lead to impairment of organ function, we use the term “fibrosis.” In this Review, we differentiate fibrosis initiation from progression and focus primarily on progressive lung fibrosis impairing organ function. We present a working model to explain how the altered ECM is not only a consequence but also a driver of fibrosis. Additionally, we advance the concept that fibrosis progression occurs in a fibrogenic niche that is composed of a fibrogenic ECM that nurtures fibrogenic mesenchymal progenitor cells and their fibrogenic progeny.
Jeremy Herrera, Craig A. Henke, Peter B. Bitterman
The ability to repair tissues is essential for the survival of organisms. In chronic settings, the failure of the repair process to terminate results in overproduction of collagen, a pathology known as fibrosis, which compromises organ recovery and impairs function. The origin of the collagen-overproducing cell has been debated for years. Here we review recent insights gained from the use of lineage tracing approaches in several organs. The resulting evidence points toward specific subsets of tissue-resident mesenchymal cells, mainly localized in a perivascular position, as the major source for collagen-producing cells after injury. We discuss these findings in view of the functional heterogeneity of mesenchymal cells of the perivascular niche, which have essential vascular, immune, and regenerative functions that need to be preserved for efficient repair.
Selene E. Di Carlo, Lucie Peduto
Eukaryotic cells contain an elegant protein quality control system that is crucial in maintaining cellular homeostasis; however, dysfunction of this system results in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Severe or prolonged ER stress is associated with the development of degenerative and fibrotic disorders in multiple organs, as evidenced by the identification of disease-causing mutations in epithelial-restricted genes that lead to protein misfolding or mistrafficking in familial fibrotic diseases. Emerging evidence implicates ER stress and UPR signaling in a variety of profibrotic mechanisms in individual cell types. In epithelial cells, ER stress can induce apoptosis, inflammatory signaling, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. In other cell types, ER stress is linked to myofibroblast activation, macrophage polarization, and T cell differentiation. ER stress–targeted therapies have begun to emerge using approaches that range from global enhancement of chaperone function to selective targeting of activated ER stress sensors and other downstream mediators. As the complex regulatory mechanisms of this system are further clarified, there are opportunities to develop new disease-modifying therapeutic strategies in a wide range of chronic fibrotic diseases.
Jonathan A. Kropski, Timothy S. Blackwell
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