Review

Abstract

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.

Authors

Charlotte J. Sumner, Thomas O. Crawford

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Abstract

Leukotrienes are powerful immune-regulating lipid mediators with established pathogenic roles in inflammatory allergic diseases of the respiratory tract — in particular, asthma and hay fever. More recent work indicates that these lipids also contribute to low-grade inflammation, a hallmark of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic diseases as well as cancer. Biosynthesis of leukotrienes involves oxidative metabolism of arachidonic acid and proceeds via a set of soluble and membrane enzymes that are primarily expressed by cells of myeloid origin. In activated immune cells, these enzymes assemble at the endoplasmic and perinuclear membrane, constituting a biosynthetic complex. This Review describes recent advances in our understanding of the components of the leukotriene-synthesizing enzyme machinery, emerging opportunities for pharmacological intervention, and the development of new medicines exploiting both antiinflammatory and pro-resolving mechanisms.

Authors

Jesper Z. Haeggström

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Abstract

Aging is defined as the progressive deterioration of physiological function with age. Incidence of many pathologies increases with age, including neurological and cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Aging tissues become less adaptable and renewable, and cells undergo senescence, a process by which they “irreversibly” stop dividing. Senescence has been shown to serve as a tumor suppression mechanism with clear desirable effects. However, senescence also has deleterious consequences, especially for cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune systems. Sphingolipids are a major class of lipids that regulate cell biology, owing to their structural and bioactive properties and diversity. Their involvement in the regulation of aging and senescence has been demonstrated and studied in multiple organisms and cell types, especially that of ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate; ceramide induces cellular senescence and sphingosine-1–phosphate delays it. These discoveries could be very useful in the future to understand aging mechanisms and improve therapeutic interventions.

Authors

Magali Trayssac, Yusuf A. Hannun, Lina M. Obeid

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Abstract

Non-resolving inflammation drives the development of clinically dangerous atherosclerotic lesions by promoting sustained plaque inflammation, large necrotic cores, thin fibrous caps, and thrombosis. Resolution of inflammation is not merely a passive return to homeostasis, but rather an active process mediated by specific molecules, including fatty acid–derived specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs). In advanced atherosclerosis, there is an imbalance between levels of SPMs and proinflammatory lipid mediators, which results in sustained leukocyte influx into lesions, inflammatory macrophage polarization, and impaired efferocytosis. In animal models of advanced atherosclerosis, restoration of SPMs limits plaque progression by suppressing inflammation, enhancing efferocytosis, and promoting an increase in collagen cap thickness. This Review discusses the roles of non-resolving inflammation in atherosclerosis and highlights the unique therapeutic potential of SPMs in blocking the progression of clinically dangerous plaques.

Authors

Canan Kasikara, Amanda C. Doran, Bishuang Cai, Ira Tabas

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Abstract

Chronic inflammation is an underlying feature of many diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis. There is an increasing appreciation of the dysregulation of adaptive immunity in chronic inflammatory and allergic diseases. The discovery of specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs) that actively promote the resolution of inflammation has opened new avenues for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. Much work has been done focusing on the impact of SPMs on innate immune cells. However, much less is known about the influence of SPMs on the development of antigen-specific adaptive immune responses. This Review highlights the important breakthroughs concerning the effects of SPMs on the key cell types involved in the development of adaptive immunity, namely dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells.

Authors

Parker F. Duffney, Megan L. Falsetta, Ashley R. Rackow, Thomas H. Thatcher, Richard P. Phipps, Patricia J. Sime

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Abstract

Precision medicine seeks to treat disease with molecular specificity. Advances in genome sequence analysis, gene delivery, and genome surgery have allowed clinician-scientists to treat genetic conditions at the level of their pathology. As a result, progress in treating retinal disease using genetic tools has advanced tremendously over the past several decades. Breakthroughs in gene delivery vectors, both viral and nonviral, have allowed the delivery of genetic payloads in preclinical models of retinal disorders and have paved the way for numerous successful clinical trials. Moreover, the adaptation of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome engineering have enabled the correction of both recessive and dominant pathogenic alleles, expanding the disease-modifying power of gene therapies. Here, we highlight the translational progress of gene therapy and genome editing of several retinal disorders, including RPE65-, CEP290-, and GUY2D-associated Leber congenital amaurosis, as well as choroideremia, achromatopsia, Mer tyrosine kinase– (MERTK–) and RPGR X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome, neovascular age-related macular degeneration, X-linked retinoschisis, Stargardt disease, and Leber hereditary optic neuropathy.

Authors

James E. DiCarlo, Vinit B. Mahajan, Stephen H. Tsang

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Abstract

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.

Authors

Saurabh S. Thosar, Matthew P. Butler, Steven A. Shea

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Abstract

Following amputation, most amputees still report feeling the missing limb and often describe these feelings as excruciatingly painful. Phantom limb sensations (PLS) are useful while controlling a prosthesis; however, phantom limb pain (PLP) is a debilitating condition that drastically hinders quality of life. Although such experiences have been reported since the early 16th century, the etiology remains unknown. Debate continues regarding the roles of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Currently, the most posited mechanistic theories rely on neuronal network reorganization; however, greater consideration should be given to the role of the dorsal root ganglion within the peripheral nervous system. This Review provides an overview of the proposed mechanistic theories as well as an overview of various treatments for PLP.

Authors

Kassondra L. Collins, Hannah G. Russell, Patrick J. Schumacher, Katherine E. Robinson-Freeman, Ellen C. O’Conor, Kyla D. Gibney, Olivia Yambem, Robert W. Dykes, Robert S. Waters, Jack W. Tsao

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Abstract

Countless times each day, the acute inflammatory response protects us from invading microbes, injuries, and insults from within, as in surgery-induced tissue injury. These challenges go unnoticed because they are self-limited and naturally resolve without progressing to chronic inflammation. Peripheral blood markers of inflammation are present in many common diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer. While acute inflammation is protective, excessive swarming of neutrophils amplifies collateral tissue damage and inflammation. Hence, understanding the mechanisms that control the resolution of acute inflammation provides insight into preventing and treating inflammatory diseases in multiple organs. This Review focuses on the resolution phase of inflammation with identification of specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) that involve three separate biosynthetic and potent mediator families, which are defined using the first quantitative resolution indices to score this vital process. These are the resolvins, protectins, and maresins: bioactive metabolomes that each stimulate self-limited innate responses, enhance innate microbial killing and clearance, and are organ-protective. We briefly address biosynthesis of SPMs and their activation of endogenous resolution programs as terrain for new therapeutic approaches that are not, by definition, immunosuppressive, but rather new immunoresolvent therapies.

Authors

Charles N. Serhan, Bruce D. Levy

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Abstract

Leukotrienes, a class of arachidonic acid–derived bioactive molecules, are known as mediators of allergic and inflammatory reactions and considered to be important drug targets. Although an inhibitor of leukotriene biosynthesis and antagonists of the cysteinyl leukotriene receptor are clinically used for bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis, these medications were developed before the molecular identification of leukotriene receptors. Numerous studies using cloned leukotriene receptors and genetically engineered mice have unveiled new pathophysiological roles for leukotrienes. This Review covers the recent findings on leukotriene receptors to revisit them as new drug targets.

Authors

Takehiko Yokomizo, Motonao Nakamura, Takao Shimizu

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