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Beekes M.,Robert Koch Institute | Thomzig A.,Robert Koch Institute | Schulz-Schaeffer W.J.,University Medical Center Goettingen | Burger R.,Robert Koch Institute
Acta Neuropathologica | Year: 2014

The misfolding and aggregation of endogenous proteins in the central nervous system is a neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), as well as prion diseases. A molecular mechanism referred to as “nucleation-dependent aggregation” is thought to underlie this neuropathological phenomenon. According to this concept, disease-associated protein particles act as nuclei, or seeds, that recruit cellular proteins and incorporate them, in a misfolded form, into their growing aggregate structure. Experimental studies have shown that the aggregation of the AD-associated proteins amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau, and of the PD-associated protein α-synuclein, can be stimulated in laboratory animal models by intracerebral (i.c.) injection of inocula containing aggregated species of the respective proteins. This has raised the question of whether AD or PD can be transmitted, like certain human prion diseases, between individuals by self-propagating protein particles potentially present on medical instruments or in blood or blood products. While the i.c. injection of inocula containing AD- or PD-associated protein aggregates was found to cause neuronal damage and clinical abnormalities (e.g., motor impairments) in some animal models, none of the studies published so far provided evidence for a transmission of severe or even fatal disease. In addition, available epidemiological data do not indicate a transmissibility of AD or PD between humans. The findings published so far on the effects of experimentally transmitted AD- or PD-associated protein seeds do not suggest specific precautionary measures in the context of hemotherapy, but call for vigilance in transfusion medicine and other medical areas. © 2014, The Author(s).

Tenreiro S.,University of Lisbon | Munder M.C.,Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics | Alberti S.,Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics | Outeiro T.F.,University of Lisbon | Outeiro T.F.,University Medical Center Goettingen
Journal of Neurochemistry | Year: 2013

Several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), Huntington's disease (HD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or prion diseases, are known for their intimate association with protein misfolding and aggregation. These disorders are characterized by the loss of specific neuronal populations in the brain and are highly associated with aging, suggesting a decline in proteostasis capacity may contribute to pathogenesis. Nevertheless, the precise molecular mechanisms that lead to the selective demise of neurons remain poorly understood. As a consequence, appropriate therapeutic approaches and effective treatments are largely lacking. The development of cellular and animal models that faithfully reproduce central aspects of neurodegeneration has been crucial for advancing our understanding of these diseases. Approaches involving the sequential use of different model systems, starting with simpler cellular models and ending with validation in more complex animal models, resulted in the discovery of promising therapeutic targets and small molecules with therapeutic potential. Within this framework, the simple and well-characterized eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as budding yeast, is being increasingly used to study the molecular basis of several neurodegenerative disorders. Yeast provides an unprecedented toolbox for the dissection of complex biological processes and pathways. Here, we summarize how yeast models are adding to our current understanding of several neurodegenerative disorders. © 2013 International Society for Neurochemistry.

Mihm S.,University Medical Center Goettingen
Journal of Innate Immunity | Year: 2015

Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) results in chronic and progressive liver disease. Persistency rates add up to 85%. Despite recognition of the virus by the human host in peripheral blood and in the liver, immune response appears to be ineffective in clearing infection. The ability to spontaneously eradicate the virus as well as the outcome of infection upon therapy with human recombinant interferon-α (IFN-α) was found to correlate most closely with genetic variations within the region encoding the IFN-λ genes, as revealed by genome-wide association studies on main ethnic populations in 2009. This review summarizes the induction of type I and type III IFN genes and their effectors, the IFN-stimulated genes. It focusses on the in vivo situation in chronic HCV infection in man both in the peripheral blood compartment and in the liver. It also addresses the impact of genetic polymorphisms in the region of type III IFN genes on their activation. Finally, it discusses how antiviral drugs (i.e. IFN-α, ribavirin and the direct-acting antivirals) may complementarily control the activation of endogenous IFNs and succeed in combatting infections. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Hessmann E.,University Medical Center Goettingen
Oncogene | Year: 2015

Owing to its aggressiveness, late detection and marginal therapeutic accessibility, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains a most challenging malignant disease. Despite scientific progress in the understanding of the mechanisms that underly PDAC initiation and progression, the successful translation of experimental findings into effective new therapeutic strategies remains a largely unmet need. The oncogene MYC is activated in many PDAC cases and is a master regulator of vital cellular processes. Excellent recent studies have shed new light on the tremendous functions of MYC in cancer and identified inhibition of MYC as a likewise beneficial and demanding effort. This review will focus on mechanisms that contribute to deregulation of MYC expression in pancreatic carcinogenesis and progression and will summarize novel biological findings from recent in vivo models. Finally, we provide a perspective, how regulation of MYC in PDAC may contribute to the development of new therapeutic approaches.Oncogene advance online publication, 29 June 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.216. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited

Schafer K.,University Medical Center Goettingen | Konstantinides S.,Democritus University of Thrace
Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology | Year: 2011

1. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. An increased body mass index (BMI) is associated with venous thromboembolism, myocardial infarction, stroke and stent thrombosis after percutaneous interventions. Studies in mouse models of obesity and induced arterial or venous thrombosis have provided insights into the mechanisms involved. 2. In addition to elevated circulating levels of fibrinogen, factor VII and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1, changes in platelet biology and function may underlie the increased (athero) thrombotic risk in obesity. These include elevated platelet counts, an increase in mean platelet volume, an increased platelet aggregatory response to agonists and a reversible resistance to the anti-aggregatory effects of nitric oxide and prostacyclin I 2. 3. Specific adipokines mediate the prothrombotic state in obesity. Of these, leptin enhances both arterial and venous thrombosis by promoting platelet adhesion, activation and aggregation. Leptin also induces tissue factor expression by human neutrophils and other cells. C-Reactive protein enhances the formation of monocyte-platelet aggregates and also promotes P-selectin expression and platelet adhesion to endothelial cells. Further, the adipose tissue is a significant source of tissue factor and PAI-1. Conversely, the circulating levels of adiponectin, a hormone that exerts vasculoprotective, anti-atherosclerotic and antithrombotic effects, are reduced in obese individuals. 4. A better understanding of the interactions of the adipose tissue with circulating and vascular cells and the dissection of the mechanisms linking adipokines to arterial and venous thrombosis may identify obese individuals at particularly high cardiovascular risk and indicate promising vasculoprotective and therapeutic targets. © 2011 The Authors. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.

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