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Author: Philip M Cummins (46)


Nov
2017

The cardiovascular system is responsible for transport of blood and nutrients to tissues, and is pivotal to the physiological health and longevity. Epigenetic modification is a natural, age-associated process resulting in highly contextualised gene expression with clear implications for cell differentiation and disease onset. Biological/epigenetic age is independent of chronological age, constituting a highly reflective snapshot of an individual's overall health.

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Dec
1969

Vascular calcification (VC) is a major risk factor for elevated cardiovascular morbidity/mortality. Underlying this process is osteoblastic signalling within the vessel wall involving complex and interlinked roles for receptor-activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL), osteoprotegerin (OPG), and tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). RANKL promotes vascular cell osteoblastic differentiation, whilst OPG acts as a neutralizing decoy receptor for RANKL (and TRAIL).

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Dec
1969

The glycosyl-phosphatidyl-inositol (GPI)-anchored urokinase receptor (uPAR) has no intracellular domain, but nevertheless initiates signalling through proximal interactions with other membrane receptors including integrins. The relationships between uPAR and ezrin/radixin/moesin (ERM) proteins, moesin and merlin have never been explored. Moesin and merlin are versatile membrane-actin links and regulators of receptors signalling, respectively.

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Mar
2017

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption constitutes a hallmark event during pathogen-mediated neurological disorders such as bacterial meningitis. As a prevalent opportunistic pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is of particular interest in this context, although our fundamental understanding of how SA disrupts the BBB is very limited. This paper employs in vitro infection models to address this.

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Dec
1969

Most proteins and large polypeptides have hydrophobic regions at their surface. These hydrophobic "patches" are due to the presence of the side chains of hydrophobic or nonpolar amino acids such as phenylalanine, tryptophan, alanine, and methionine. These surface hydrophobic regions are interspersed between more hydrophilic or polar regions and the number, size, and distribution of them is a specific characteristic of each individual protein.

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Dec
1969

Ion-Exchange Chromatography (IEC) allows for the separation of ionizable molecules on the basis of differences in charge properties. Its large sample-handling capacity, broad applicability (particularly to proteins and enzymes), moderate cost, powerful resolving ability, and ease of scale-up and automation have led to it becoming one of the most versatile and widely used of all liquid chromatography (LC) techniques. In this chapter, we review the basic principles of IEC, as well as the broader criteria for selecting IEC conditions.

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Dec
1969

Gel-filtration chromatography is a versatile method that permits the effective separation of biological molecules in high yield. This article describes the basis of the method, the selection of suitable operating conditions, and contrasts typical matrix types. Applications of the technique are described, with references to the scientific literature.

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Dec
1969

Receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa beta-ligand (RANKL) is thought to promote vascular calcification (VC) by inducing osteoblastic behaviour in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in an ill-defined process. The present study assessed whether RANKL affects pro-osteoblastic paracrine signalling between human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) and human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMC) using both conditioned media transfer and cell co-culture experimental approaches.
For initial experiments (6-well format), HAEC-conditioned media was harvested following 72h exposure to RANKL, and transferred to reporter HASMCs with/without noggin, an inhibitor of pro-osteoblastic bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) paracrine signalling.

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Dec
1969

Biomarkers encompass a wide range of different measurable indicators, representing a tangible link to physiological changes occurring within the body. Accessibility, sensitivity, and specificity are significant factors in biomarker suitability. New biomarkers continue to be discovered, and questions over appropriate selection and assessment of their usefulness remain.

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Dec
1969

Vascular calcification (VC), a disorder that causes blood vessel hardening and dysfunction, is a significant risk factor for type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), which invariably manifests associated cardiovascular complications. Although the clinical effects of VC have been well-documented, the precise cellular events underlying the manifestation and progression of VC are only now coming to light. Current research models indicate that VC likely involves signalling pathways traditionally associated with bone remodelling, such as the OPG/RANKL/TRAIL signalling system.

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Apr
2016

Tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a type II transmembrane protein that belongs to the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) cytokine superfamily. TRAIL is expressed by numerous cell types including vascular cells, immune cells and adipocytes. Although originally thought to induce apoptosis in malignant or transformed cells only, it is now known that TRAIL can bind up to 5 distinct receptors to activate complex signalling pathways, and is capable of exerting pleiotropic effects in non-transformed cells.

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Dec
1969

Microvesicles (MVs) are submicron intact particles released from the cellular membrane of eukaryotic cells. MVs can be sub-categorised into microparticles (MPs), which are between 100nm- 1micron in size, and exosomes, measuring less than 100nm. Once thought to be cellular debris, MPs are now known to play important biological effector functions.

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Aug
2015

An intact functioning blood-brain barrier (BBB) is fundamental to proper homoeostatic maintenance and perfusion of the central nervous system (CNS). Inflammatory damage to the unique microvascular endothelial cell monolayer that constitutes the luminal BBB surface, leading to elevated capillary permeability, has been linked to various neurological disorders ranging from ischaemic stroke and traumatic brain injury, to neurodegenerative disease and CNS infections. Moreover, the neuroinflammatory cascade that typically accompanies BBB failure in these circumstances has been strongly linked to elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).

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Feb
2016

The co-involvement of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) during blood-brain barrier (BBB) injury has been reported in various models of neuroinflammation, although the precise functional interplay between these archetypal proinflammatory cytokines remains largely undefined within this context. In the current paper, we tested the hypothesis that TNF-α-mediated BBB disruption is measurably attributable in-part to induction of microvascular endothelial IL-6 production. In initial experiments, we observed that treatment of human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMvECs) with TNF-α (0-100 ng/mL, 0-24 h) robustly elicited both time- and dose-dependent induction of IL-6 expression and release, as well as expression of the IL-6 family receptor, GP130.

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Jul
2015

Vascular calcification (VC) is inhibited by the glycoprotein osteoprotegerin (OPG). It is unclear whether treatments for type 2 diabetes are capable of promoting or inhibiting VC. The present study examined the effects of insulin and liraglutide on i) the production of OPG and ii) the emergence of VC, both in vitro in human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMCs) and in vivo in type 2 diabetes.

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Oct
2015

The regulatory interplay between laminar shear stress and proinflammatory cytokines during homeostatic maintenance of the brain microvascular endothelium is largely undefined. We hypothesized that laminar shear could counteract the injurious actions of proinflammatory cytokines on human brain microvascular endothelial cell (HBMvEC) barrier properties, in-part through suppression of cellular redox signaling. For these investigations, HBMvECs were exposed to either shear stress (8 dynes/cm(2), 24 hours) or cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) or interleukin-6 (IL-6), 0 to 100 ng/mL, 6 or 18 hours).

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Jul
2015

Zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) is essential to the proper assembly of interendothelial junction complexes that control blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity. The goal of the current paper was to improve our understanding of how proinflammatory cytokines modulate ZO-1 properties within the human BBB microvascular endothelium. In this respect, we investigated the effects of TNF-α and IL-6 on ZO-1 using human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMvECs).

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Jan
2015

Thrombomodulin (TM), an important determinant of blood vessel homeostasis, is expressed on the luminal vascular endothelial cell surface and is released into serum in response to circulatory signals. This includes the cerebrovascular endothelium, where the anti-coagulant and anti-inflammatory properties of TM are thought to be critical to the brain microcirculation and blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity. Much is still unknown however about how circulatory stimuli may regulate TM activity within the brain microvasculature.

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Dec
1969

Thrombomodulin (TM), an integral membrane glycoprotein expressed on the lumenal surface of vascular endothelial cells, promotes anti-coagulant and anti-inflammatory properties. Release of functional TM from the endothelium surface into plasma has also been reported. Much is still unknown however about how endothelial TM is regulated by physiologic hemodynamic forces (and particularly cyclic strain) intrinsic to endothelial-mediated vascular homeostasis.

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Dec
1969

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction is an integral feature of neurological disorders and involves the action of multiple proinflammatory cytokines on the microvascular endothelial cells lining cerebral capillaries. There is still however, considerable ambiguity throughout the scientific literature regarding the mechanistic role(s) of cytokines in this context, thereby warranting a comprehensive in vitro investigation into how different cytokines may cause dysregulation of adherens and tight junctions leading to BBB permeabilization.
The present study employs human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMvECs) to compare/contrast the effects of TNF-α and IL-6 on BBB characteristics ranging from the expression of interendothelial junction proteins (VE-cadherin, occludin and claudin-5) to endothelial monolayer permeability.

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Jun
2013

Thrombomodulin (TM) is a 557-amino acid protein with a broad cell and tissue distribution consistent with its wide-ranging physiological roles. When expressed on the lumenal surface of vascular endothelial cells in both large vessels and capillaries, its primary function is to mediate endothelial thromboresistance. The complete integral membrane-bound protein form displays five distinct functional domains, although shorter soluble (functional) variants comprising the extracellular domains have also been reported in fluids such as serum and urine.

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Jan
2012

Occludin: one protein, many forms.

Mol Cell Biol 2012 Jan 14;32(2):242-50. Epub 2011 Nov 14.
Philip M Cummins
Intercellular tight junctions (TJs) exhibit a complex molecular architecture involving the regulated cointeraction of cytoplasmic adaptor proteins (e.g., zonula occludens) and integral membrane linker proteins (e.

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Nov
2011

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) regulation involves the coordinated interaction of intercellular adherens and tight junctions in response to stimuli. One such stimulus, shear stress, has been shown to upregulate brain microvascular endothelial cell (BMvEC) barrier function, although our knowledge of the signaling mechanisms involved is limited. In this article, we examined the hypothesis that VE-cadherin can transmit shear signals to tight junction occludin with consequences for pTyr-occludin and barrier function.

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Dec
1969

Most proteins and large polypeptides have hydrophobic regions at their surface. These hydrophobic "patches" are due to the presence of the side chains of hydrophobic or nonpolar amino acids such as phenylalanine, tryptophan, alanine, and methionine. These surface hydrophobic regions are interspersed between more hydrophilic and polar regions, and the number, size, and distribution of them are a specific characteristic of each protein.

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Dec
1969

Ion-exchange chromatography (IEC) allows for the separation of ionizable molecules on the basis of differences in charge properties. Its large sample-handling capacity, broad applicability (particularly to proteins and enzymes), moderate cost, powerful resolving ability, and ease of scale-up and automation have led to it becoming one of the most versatile and widely used of all liquid chromatography (LC) techniques. In this chapter, we review the basic principles of IEC, as well as the broader criteria for selecting IEC conditions.

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Dec
1969

Gel-filtration chromatography is a popular and versatile technique that permits the effective separation of proteins and other biological molecules in high yield. Here, the basis of the method is described and typical matrix types are contrasted. The selection of suitable operating conditions and applications of the method are also discussed.

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Jul
2009

Triglyceride-rich postprandial lipoproteins are known to activate endothelial cells in vitro, contributing to atherosclerosis. Endothelial microparticles (EMP) are membranous vesicles released into the circulation from vascular endothelial cells that permit cell activation to be monitored in vivo. The objective of the study was to examine changes in EMP following a high fat meal, consumed with and without prior exercise.

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Apr
2009


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Oct
2008

Epidemiological and clinical studies provide compelling support for a causal relationship between Helicobacter pylori infection and endothelial dysfunction, leading to vascular diseases. However, clear biochemical evidence for this association is limited. In the present study, we have conducted a comprehensive investigation of endothelial injury in bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) induced by H.

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Feb
2008

Basolateral condition of the brain microvascular endothelium is believed to influence blood-brain barrier (BBB) phenotype, although the precise transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms involved are poorly defined. In vivo, the basolateral surface of the blood-brain endothelium is bathed in serum-free interstitial fluid and encompassed by astrocytic end-feet. We hypothesized that these conditions impact on BBB function by directly modulating expression and biochemical properties of tight junctions.

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Jun
2007

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) controls paracellular solute diffusion into the brain microenvironment and is maintained primarily by tight junctions between adjacent microvascular endothelial cells. Studies implicate blood flow-associated shear stress as a pathophysiological mediator of BBB function, although detailed biochemical data are scarce. We hypothesize that shear stress upregulates BBB function via direct modulation of expression and properties of pivotal tight-junction proteins occludin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1).

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Jan
2007

The vascular endothelium is a dynamic cellular interface between the vessel wall and the bloodstream, where it regulates the physiological effects of humoral and biomechanical stimuli on vessel tone and remodeling. With respect to the latter hemodynamic stimulus, the endothelium is chronically exposed to mechanical forces in the form of cyclic circumferential strain, resulting from the pulsatile nature of blood flow, and shear stress. Both forces can profoundly modulate endothelial cell (EC) metabolism and function and, under normal physiological conditions, impart an atheroprotective effect that disfavors pathological remodeling of the vessel wall.

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Jan
2007

Hedgehog (Hh) signaling has recently been shown to be both responsive to mechanical loading in vitro and to control vascular development in vivo. We investigated the role of cyclic strain and pulsatile flow in modulating Hh signaling and growth of adult rat vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) in culture. Exposure of SMC to defined equibiaxial cyclic strain (0% and 10% stretch, 60 cycles/min, for 24 h) significantly decreased sonic hedgehog (Shh) and patched 1 (Ptc1) expression while concurrently inhibiting Gli(2)-dependent promoter activity and mRNA expression, respectively.

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Jan
2006

The vascular endothelium constitutes a highly effective fluid/solute barrier through the regulated apposition of intercellular tight junction complexes. Because endothelium-mediated functions and pathology are driven by hemodynamic forces (cyclic strain and shear stress), we hypothesized a dynamic regulatory link between endothelial tight junction assembly/function and hemodynamic stimuli. We, therefore, examined the effects of cyclic strain on the expression, modification, and function of 2 pivotal endothelial tight junction components, occludin and ZO-1.

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Nov
2005

Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotypic modulation is a key factor in vascular pathology. We have investigated the role of Notch receptor signaling in controlling human vascular smooth muscle cell (hVSMC) differentiation in vitro and established a role for cyclic strain-induced changes in Notch signaling in promoting this phenotypic response. The expression of alpha-actin, calponin, myosin, and smoothelin was examined by performing immunocytochemistry, Western blot analysis, and quantitative real-time PCR in hVSMCs cultured under static conditions after forced overexpression of constitutively active Notch 1 and 3 receptors, inhibition of endogenous Cp-binding factor 1 (CBF-1)/recombination signal sequence-binding protein-Jkappa (RBP-Jkappa) signaling, and exposure to cyclic strain using a Flexercell Tension Plus unit.

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Apr
2005

Hemodynamic forces exerted by blood flow (cyclic strain, shear stress) affect the initiation and progression of angiogenesis; however, the precise signaling mechanism(s) involved are unknown. In this study, we examine the role of cyclic strain in regulating bovine aortic endothelial cell (BAEC) migration and tube formation, indices of angiogenesis. Considering their well-documented mechanosensitivity, functional inter-dependence, and involvement in angiogenesis, we hypothesized roles for matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2/9), RGD-dependent integrins, and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) in this process.

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Mar
2005

Notch signaling has been shown recently to regulate vascular cell fate in adult cells. By applying a uniform equibiaxial cyclic strain to vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs), we investigated the role of strain in modulating Notch-mediated growth of SMCs in vitro. Rat SMCs cultured under conditions of defined equibiaxial cyclic strain (0% to 15% stretch; 60 cycles/min; 0 to 24 hours) exhibited a significant temporal and force-dependent reduction in Notch 3 receptor expression, concomitant with a significant reduction in Epstein Barr virus latency C promoter-binding factor-1/recombination signal-binding protein of the Jkappa immunoglobulin gene-dependent Notch target gene promoter activity and mRNA levels when compared with unstrained controls.

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Oct
2004

Hemodynamic forces associated with blood flow play a vital role in the endothelial regulation of vascular tone, remodeling and the initiation and progression of vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension. Crucial elements in endothelium-mediated events within the blood vessel are bioactive peptide signals and their associated hydrolytic enzymes. This review examines the relationship between hemodynamic forces such as shear stress and cyclic strain, and an important group of peptide-degrading enzymes within the endothelium, the thermolysin-like zinc metallopeptidases.

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Oct
2004

Mechanical forces associated with blood flow are critical in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) growth, migration, differentiation, and apoptosis as fundamental features in the pathogenesis of vascular disease. We investigated the effect of pulse pressure on VSMC apoptosis.
Using a perfused transcapillary co-culture system, bovine thoracic aortic SMC (BASMC) were exposed to increases in pulsatile flow (0.

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Sep
2004

To investigate the role of cyclic strain in controlling matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) expression and activity in endothelial cells (ECs) in vitro.
A Flexercell Tension Plus FX-4000T system was used to apply a physiological level of equibiaxial cyclic strain (0-10% strain, 60 cycles/min, 0-24 h, cardiac waveform) to bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs). Cells and conditioned media were harvested for analysis of MMP-2/9 expression and activity (pro and active) using reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Western blotting and zymography techniques.

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Sep
2004

Vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) fate decisions (cell growth, migration, and apoptosis) are fundamental features in the pathogenesis of vascular disease. We investigated the role of Notch 1 and 3 receptor signaling in controlling adult SMC fate in vitro by establishing that hairy enhancer of split (hes-1 and -5) and related hrt's (hrt-1, -2, and -3) are direct downstream target genes of Notch 1 and 3 receptors in SMC and identified an essential role for nuclear protein CBF-1/RBP-Jk in their regulation. Constitutive expression of active Notch 1 and 3 receptors (Notch IC) resulted in a significant up-regulation of CBF-1/RBP-Jk-dependent promoter activity and Notch target gene expression concomitant with significant increases in SMC growth while concurrently inhibiting SMC apoptosis and migration.

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Jul
2004

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play a vital role in vasculature response to hemodynamic stimuli via the degradation of extracellular matrix substrates. In this study, we investigated the putative role of cyclic strain-induced endothelial MMP-2 (and MMP-9) expression and release in modulating bovine aortic smooth muscle cell (BASMC) migration in vitro. Equibiaxial cyclic strain of bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) leads to elevation in cellular MMP-2 (and MMP-9) expression, activity, and secretion into conditioned media, events which were time- and force-dependent.

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