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Biomolecules, Volume 14, Issue 2 (February 2024) – 106 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The malignant progression of tumors, known as metastasis, is a combination of various external and internal factors, which can be of both biochemical and physical origin. The tumors interact directly or indirectly with their cellular and acellular molecular environment. The immune system of the organism, such as tumor-associated neutrophil granulocytes (TANs) and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), plays an essential role in this process, as they can be both tumor-promoting and tumor-suppressing. In parallel to genetically manifested mutations, epigenetic factors also play a particularly important role in determining the success of a therapeutic approach. View this paper
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18 pages, 17688 KiB  
Article
Peroxisomal Localization of a Truncated HMG-CoA Reductase under Low Cholesterol Conditions
by Jianqiu Wang, Markus Kunze, Andrea Villoria-González, Isabelle Weinhofer and Johannes Berger
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020244 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 956
Abstract
3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMG-CoA reductase, HMGCR) is one of the rate-limiting enzymes in the mevalonate pathway required for cholesterol biosynthesis. It is an integral membrane protein of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) but has occasionally been described in peroxisomes. By co-immunofluorescence microscopy using different HMGCR [...] Read more.
3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMG-CoA reductase, HMGCR) is one of the rate-limiting enzymes in the mevalonate pathway required for cholesterol biosynthesis. It is an integral membrane protein of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) but has occasionally been described in peroxisomes. By co-immunofluorescence microscopy using different HMGCR antibodies, we present evidence for a dual localization of HMGCR in the ER and peroxisomes in differentiated human monocytic THP-1 cells, primary human monocyte-derived macrophages and human primary skin fibroblasts under conditions of low cholesterol and statin treatment. Using density gradient centrifugation and Western blot analysis, we observed a truncated HMGCR variant of 76 kDa in the peroxisomal fractions, while a full-length HMGCR of 96 kDa was contained in fractions of the ER. In contrast to primary human control fibroblasts, peroxisomal HMGCR was not found in fibroblasts from patients suffering from type-1 rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata, who lack functional PEX7 and, thus, cannot import peroxisomal matrix proteins harboring a type-2 peroxisomal targeting signal (PTS2). Moreover, in the N–terminal region of the soluble 76 kDa C-terminal catalytic domain, we identified a PTS2-like motif, which was functional in a reporter context. We propose that under sterol-depleted conditions, part of the soluble HMGCR domain, which is released from the ER by proteolytic processing for further turnover, remains sufficiently long in the cytosol for peroxisomal import via a PTS2/PEX7-dependent mechanism. Altogether, our findings describe a dual localization of HMGCR under combined lipid depletion and statin treatment, adding another puzzle piece to the complex regulation of HMGCR. Full article
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33 pages, 4341 KiB  
Review
The Role of the Dysregulated JNK Signaling Pathway in the Pathogenesis of Human Diseases and Its Potential Therapeutic Strategies: A Comprehensive Review
by Huaying Yan, Lanfang He, De Lv, Jun Yang and Zhu Yuan
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020243 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1040
Abstract
JNK is named after c-Jun N-terminal kinase, as it is responsible for phosphorylating c-Jun. As a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, JNK is also known as stress-activated kinase (SAPK) because it can be activated by extracellular stresses including growth factor, [...] Read more.
JNK is named after c-Jun N-terminal kinase, as it is responsible for phosphorylating c-Jun. As a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, JNK is also known as stress-activated kinase (SAPK) because it can be activated by extracellular stresses including growth factor, UV irradiation, and virus infection. Functionally, JNK regulates various cell behaviors such as cell differentiation, proliferation, survival, and metabolic reprogramming. Dysregulated JNK signaling contributes to several types of human diseases. Although the role of the JNK pathway in a single disease has been summarized in several previous publications, a comprehensive review of its role in multiple kinds of human diseases is missing. In this review, we begin by introducing the landmark discoveries, structures, tissue expression, and activation mechanisms of the JNK pathway. Next, we come to the focus of this work: a comprehensive summary of the role of the deregulated JNK pathway in multiple kinds of diseases. Beyond that, we also discuss the current strategies for targeting the JNK pathway for therapeutic intervention and summarize the application of JNK inhibitors as well as several challenges now faced. We expect that this review can provide a more comprehensive insight into the critical role of the JNK pathway in the pathogenesis of human diseases and hope that it also provides important clues for ameliorating disease conditions. Full article
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31 pages, 1215 KiB  
Review
Current Status and Future Prospects of Stem Cell Therapy for Infertile Patients with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
by Hye Kyeong Kim and Tae Jin Kim
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020242 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1576
Abstract
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), also known as premature menopause or premature ovarian failure, signifies the partial or complete loss of ovarian endocrine function and fertility before 40 years of age. This condition affects approximately 1% of women of childbearing age. Although 5–10% of [...] Read more.
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), also known as premature menopause or premature ovarian failure, signifies the partial or complete loss of ovarian endocrine function and fertility before 40 years of age. This condition affects approximately 1% of women of childbearing age. Although 5–10% of patients may conceive naturally, conventional infertility treatments, including assisted reproductive technology, often prove ineffective for the majority. For infertile patients with POI, oocyte donation or adoption exist, although a prevalent desire persists among them to have biological children. Stem cells, which are characterized by their undifferentiated nature, self-renewal capability, and potential to differentiate into various cell types, have emerged as promising avenues for treating POI. Stem cell therapy can potentially reverse the diminished ovarian endocrine function and restore fertility. Beyond direct POI therapy, stem cells show promise in supplementary applications such as ovarian tissue cryopreservation and tissue engineering. However, technological and ethical challenges hinder the widespread clinical application of stem cells. This review examines the current landscape of stem cell therapy for POI, underscoring the importance of comprehensive assessments that acknowledge the diversity of cell types and functions. Additionally, this review scrutinizes the limitations and prospects associated with the clinical implementation of stem cell treatments for POI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Molecular Reproduction)
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31 pages, 2909 KiB  
Article
CLPP-Null Eukaryotes with Excess Heme Biosynthesis Show Reduced L-arginine Levels, Probably via CLPX-Mediated OAT Activation
by Jana Key, Suzana Gispert, Arvind Reddy Kandi, Daniela Heinz, Andrea Hamann, Heinz D. Osiewacz, David Meierhofer and Georg Auburger
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020241 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 995
Abstract
The serine peptidase CLPP is conserved among bacteria, chloroplasts, and mitochondria. In humans and mice, its loss causes Perrault syndrome, which presents with growth deficits, infertility, deafness, and ataxia. In the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina, CLPP loss leads to longevity. CLPP substrates [...] Read more.
The serine peptidase CLPP is conserved among bacteria, chloroplasts, and mitochondria. In humans and mice, its loss causes Perrault syndrome, which presents with growth deficits, infertility, deafness, and ataxia. In the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina, CLPP loss leads to longevity. CLPP substrates are selected by CLPX, an AAA+ unfoldase. CLPX is known to target delta-aminolevulinic acid synthase (ALAS) to promote pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) binding. CLPX may also influence cofactor association with other enzymes. Here, the evaluation of P. anserina metabolomics highlighted a reduction in arginine/histidine levels. In Mus musculus cerebellum, reductions in arginine/histidine and citrulline occurred with a concomitant accumulation of the heme precursor protoporphyrin IX. This suggests that the increased biosynthesis of 5-carbon (C5) chain deltaALA consumes not only C4 succinyl-CoA and C1 glycine but also specific C5 delta amino acids. As enzymes responsible for these effects, the elevated abundance of CLPX and ALAS is paralleled by increased OAT (PLP-dependent, ornithine delta-aminotransferase) levels. Possibly as a consequence of altered C1 metabolism, the proteome profiles of P. anserina CLPP-null cells showed strong accumulation of a methyltransferase and two mitoribosomal large subunit factors. The reduced histidine levels may explain the previously observed metal interaction problems. As the main nitrogen-storing metabolite, a deficiency in arginine would affect the urea cycle and polyamine synthesis. Supplementation of arginine and histidine might rescue the growth deficits of CLPP-mutant patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Biology)
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17 pages, 183523 KiB  
Article
Lactobacillus crispatus CCFM1339 Inhibits Vaginal Epithelial Barrier Injury Induced by Gardnerella vaginalis in Mice
by Xiaoyan Huang, Rumeng Lin, Bingyong Mao, Xin Tang, Jianxin Zhao, Qiuxiang Zhang and Shumao Cui
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020240 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1201
Abstract
The vaginal epithelial barrier, which integrates mechanical, immune, chemical, and microbial defenses, is pivotal in safeguarding against external pathogens and upholding the vaginal microecological equilibrium. Although the widely used metronidazole effectively curtails Gardnerella vaginalis, a key pathogen in bacterial vaginosis, it falls [...] Read more.
The vaginal epithelial barrier, which integrates mechanical, immune, chemical, and microbial defenses, is pivotal in safeguarding against external pathogens and upholding the vaginal microecological equilibrium. Although the widely used metronidazole effectively curtails Gardnerella vaginalis, a key pathogen in bacterial vaginosis, it falls short in restoring the vaginal barrier or reducing recurrence rates. Our prior research highlighted Lactobacillus crispatus CCFM1339, a vaginally derived Lactobacillus strain, for its capacity to modulate the vaginal epithelial barrier. In cellular models, L. crispatus CCFM1339 fortified the integrity of the cellular monolayer, augmented cellular migration, and facilitated repair. Remarkably, in animal models, L. crispatus CCFM1339 substantially abated the secretion of the barrier disruption biomarker E-cadherin (from 101.45 to 82.90 pg/mL) and increased the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 (35.18% vs. the model), consequently mitigating vaginal inflammation in mice. Immunological assays in vaginal tissues elucidated increased secretory IgA levels (from 405.56 to 740.62 ng/mL) and curtailed IL-17 gene expression. Moreover, L. crispatus CCFM1339 enhanced Lactobacilli abundance and attenuated Enterobacterium and Enterococcus within the vaginal microbiome, underscoring its potential in probiotic applications for vaginal barrier regulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Microbes and Their Products for Sustainable Human Life)
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23 pages, 2234 KiB  
Review
Circulating Biomarkers Involved in the Development of and Progression to Chronic Pancreatitis—A Literature Review
by Valborg Vang Poulsen, Amer Hadi, Mikkel Parsberg Werge, John Gásdal Karstensen and Srdan Novovic
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020239 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1718
Abstract
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is the end-stage of continuous inflammation and fibrosis in the pancreas evolving from acute- to recurrent acute-, early, and, finally, end-stage CP. Currently, prevention is the only way to reduce disease burden. In this setting, early detection is of great [...] Read more.
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is the end-stage of continuous inflammation and fibrosis in the pancreas evolving from acute- to recurrent acute-, early, and, finally, end-stage CP. Currently, prevention is the only way to reduce disease burden. In this setting, early detection is of great importance. Due to the anatomy and risks associated with direct sampling from pancreatic tissue, most of our information on the human pancreas arises from circulating biomarkers thought to be involved in pancreatic pathophysiology or injury. The present review provides the status of circulating biomarkers involved in the development of and progression to CP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers for Pancreatitis and Its Complications)
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18 pages, 3327 KiB  
Article
Alendronate-Grafted Nanoemulsions for Bone-Targeted Vincristine Delivery: Preliminary Studies on Cell and Animal Models
by Ian Stoppa, Chiara Dianzani, Nausicaa Clemente, Annalisa Bozza, Valentina Bordano, Sara Garelli, Luigi Cangemi, Umberto Dianzani and Luigi Battaglia
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020238 - 18 Feb 2024
Viewed by 697
Abstract
Bone is a site of distant metastases, which are a common cause of morbidity and mortality with a high socio-economic impact, for many malignant tumours. In order to engineer pharmacological therapies that are suitable for this debilitating disease, this experimental work presents injectable [...] Read more.
Bone is a site of distant metastases, which are a common cause of morbidity and mortality with a high socio-economic impact, for many malignant tumours. In order to engineer pharmacological therapies that are suitable for this debilitating disease, this experimental work presents injectable lipid nanoemulsions, which are endowed with a long history of safe clinical usage in parenteral nutrition, their loading with vincristine and their grafting with alendronate, with a dual purpose: merging the anticancer activity of bisphosphonates and vincristine, and enhancing bone-targeted delivery. In cell studies, alendronate synergised with the anti-migration activity of vincristine, which is important as migration plays a key role in the metastatisation process. In preliminary animal studies, carried out thanks to IVIS technology, alendronate conjugation enhanced the bone targeting of fluorescently labelled nanoemulsions. These encouraging results will drive further studies on suitable animal models of the disease. Full article
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13 pages, 2642 KiB  
Article
PAK1-Dependent Regulation of Microtubule Organization and Spindle Migration Is Essential for the Metaphase I–Metaphase II Transition in Porcine Oocytes
by Lei Peng, Yijing He, Weihan Wang, Jianjun Dai, Qiao Li and Shiqiang Ju
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 237; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020237 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 806
Abstract
P21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) is a critical downstream target that mediates the effect of small Rho GTPase on the regulation of cytoskeletal kinetics, cell proliferation, and cell migration. PAK1 has been identified as a crucial regulator of spindle assembly during the first meiotic [...] Read more.
P21-activated kinase 1 (PAK1) is a critical downstream target that mediates the effect of small Rho GTPase on the regulation of cytoskeletal kinetics, cell proliferation, and cell migration. PAK1 has been identified as a crucial regulator of spindle assembly during the first meiotic division; however, its roles during the metaphase I (MI) to metaphase II (MII) transition in oocytes remain unclear. In the present study, the potential function of PAK1 in regulating microtubule organization and spindle positioning during the MI–MII transition was addressed in porcine oocytes. The results showed that activated PAK1 was co-localized with α-tubulin, and its expression was increased from the MI to MII stage (p < 0.001). However, inhibiting PAK1 activity with an inhibitor targeting PAK1 activation-3 (IPA-3) at the MI stage decreased the first polar body (PB1) extrusion rate (p < 0.05), with most oocytes arrested at the anaphase-telophase (ATI) stage. IPA-3-treated oocytes displayed a decrease in actin distribution in the plasma membrane (p < 0.001) and an increase in the rate of defects in MII spindle reassembly with abnormal spindle positioning (p < 0.001). Nevertheless, these adverse effects of IPA-3 on oocytes were reversed when the disulfide bond between PAK1 and IPA-3 was reduced by dithiothreitol (DTT). Co-immunoprecipitation revealed that PAK1 could recruit activated Aurora A and transform acidic coiled-coil 3 (TACC3) to regulate spindle assembly and interact with LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) to facilitate actin filament-mediated spindle migration. Together, PAK1 is essential for microtubule organization and spindle migration during the MI–MII transition in porcine oocytes, which is associated with the activity of p-Aurora A, p-TACC3 and p-LIMK1. Full article
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0 pages, 4359 KiB  
Article
Neutrophil Activity and Extracellular Matrix Degradation: Drivers of Lung Tissue Destruction in Fatal COVID-19 Cases and Implications for Long COVID
by Teluguakula Narasaraju, Indira Neeli, Sheila L. Criswell, Amita Krishnappa, Wenzhao Meng, Vasuki Silva, Galyna Bila, Volodymyr Vovk, Zolotukhin Serhiy, Gary L. Bowlin, Nuala Meyer, Eline T. Luning Prak, Marko Radic and Rostyslav Bilyy
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020236 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1658
Abstract
Pulmonary fibrosis, severe alveolitis, and the inability to restore alveolar epithelial architecture are primary causes of respiratory failure in fatal COVID-19 cases. However, the factors contributing to abnormal fibrosis in critically ill COVID-19 patients remain unclear. This study analyzed the histopathology of lung [...] Read more.
Pulmonary fibrosis, severe alveolitis, and the inability to restore alveolar epithelial architecture are primary causes of respiratory failure in fatal COVID-19 cases. However, the factors contributing to abnormal fibrosis in critically ill COVID-19 patients remain unclear. This study analyzed the histopathology of lung specimens from eight COVID-19 and six non-COVID-19 postmortems. We assessed the distribution and changes in extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, including elastin and collagen, in lung alveoli through morphometric analyses. Our findings reveal the significant degradation of elastin fibers along the thin alveolar walls of the lung parenchyma, a process that precedes the onset of interstitial collagen deposition and widespread intra-alveolar fibrosis. Lungs with collapsed alveoli and organized fibrotic regions showed extensive fragmentation of elastin fibers, accompanied by alveolar epithelial cell death. Immunoblotting of lung autopsy tissue extracts confirmed elastin degradation. Importantly, we found that the loss of elastin was strongly correlated with the induction of neutrophil elastase (NE), a potent protease that degrades ECM. This study affirms the critical role of neutrophils and neutrophil enzymes in the pathogenesis of COVID-19. Consistently, we observed increased staining for peptidyl arginine deiminase, a marker for neutrophil extracellular trap release, and myeloperoxidase, an enzyme-generating reactive oxygen radical, indicating active neutrophil involvement in lung pathology. These findings place neutrophils and elastin degradation at the center of impaired alveolar function and argue that elastolysis and alveolitis trigger abnormal ECM repair and fibrosis in fatal COVID-19 cases. Importantly, this study has implications for severe COVID-19 complications, including long COVID and other chronic inflammatory and fibrotic disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights into Reactive Oxygen Species in Cell Death and Immunity)
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18 pages, 3301 KiB  
Article
Steroid Metabolomic Signature in Term and Preterm Infants
by Matthias Heckmann, Anna S. Runkel, Donna E. Sunny, Michaela F. Hartmann, Till Ittermann and Stefan A. Wudy
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020235 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 781
Abstract
Adrenal function is essential for survival and well-being of preterm babies. In addition to glucocorticoids, it has been hypothesized that C19-steroids (DHEA-metabolites) from the fetal zone of the adrenal gland may play a role as endogenous neuroprotective steroids. In 39 term-born [...] Read more.
Adrenal function is essential for survival and well-being of preterm babies. In addition to glucocorticoids, it has been hypothesized that C19-steroids (DHEA-metabolites) from the fetal zone of the adrenal gland may play a role as endogenous neuroprotective steroids. In 39 term-born (≥37 weeks gestational age), 42 preterm (30–36 weeks) and 51 early preterm (<30 weeks) infants 38 steroid metabolites were quantified by GC-MS in 24-h urinary samples. In each gestational age group, three distinctive cluster were identified by pattern analysis (k-means clustering). Individual steroidal fingerprints and clinical phenotype were analyzed at the 3rd day of life. Overall, the excretion rates of C21-steroids (glucocorticoid precursors, cortisol, and cortisone metabolites) were low (<99 μg/kg body weight/d) whereas the excretion rates of C19-steroids were up to 10 times higher. There was a shift to higher excretion rates of C19-steroids in both preterm groups compared to term infants but only minor differences in the distribution of C21-steroids. Comparable metabolic patterns were found between gestational age groups: Cluster 1 showed mild elevation of C21- and C19-steroids with the highest incidence of neonatal morbidities in term and severe intraventricular hemorrhage in early preterm infants. In cluster 2 lowest excretion in general was noted but no clinically unique phenotype. Cluster 3 showed highest elevation of C21-steroids and C19-steroids but no clinically unique phenotype. Significant differences in steroid metabolism between clusters are only partly reflected by gestational age and disease severity. In early preterm infants, higher excretion rates of glucocorticoids and their precursors were associated with severe cerebral hemorrhage. High excretion rates of C19-steroids in preterm infants may indicate a biological significance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Role of Neuroactive Steroids in Health and Disease)
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22 pages, 1642 KiB  
Review
Sensory Nutrition and Bitterness and Astringency of Polyphenols
by Naomi Osakabe, Takafumi Shimizu, Yasuyuki Fujii, Taiki Fushimi and Vittorio Calabrese
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020234 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1506
Abstract
Recent studies have demonstrated that the interaction of dietary constituents with taste and olfactory receptors and nociceptors expressed in the oral cavity, nasal cavity and gastrointestinal tract regulate homeostasis through activation of the neuroendocrine system. Polyphenols, of which 8000 have been identified to [...] Read more.
Recent studies have demonstrated that the interaction of dietary constituents with taste and olfactory receptors and nociceptors expressed in the oral cavity, nasal cavity and gastrointestinal tract regulate homeostasis through activation of the neuroendocrine system. Polyphenols, of which 8000 have been identified to date, represent the greatest diversity of secondary metabolites in plants, most of which are bitter and some of them astringent. Epidemiological studies have shown that polyphenol intake contributes to maintaining and improving cardiovascular, cognitive and sensory health. However, because polyphenols have very low bioavailability, the mechanisms of their beneficial effects are unknown. In this review, we focused on the taste of polyphenols from the perspective of sensory nutrition, summarized the results of previous studies on their relationship with bioregulation and discussed their future potential. Full article
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16 pages, 2857 KiB  
Article
Use of Various Sugarcane Byproducts to Produce Lipid Extracts with Bioactive Properties: Physicochemical and Biological Characterization
by Joana Odila Pereira, Diana Oliveira, Margarida Faustino, Susana S. M. P. Vidigal, Ana Margarida Pereira, Carlos M. H. Ferreira, Ana Sofia Oliveira, Joana Durão, Luís M. Rodríguez-Alcalá, Manuela E. Pintado, Ana Raquel Madureira and Ana P. Carvalho
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020233 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 891
Abstract
Sugarcane, a globally cultivated crop constituting nearly 80% of total sugar production, yields residues from harvesting and sugar production known for their renewable bioactive compounds with health-promoting properties. Despite previous studies, the intricate interplay of extracts from diverse sugarcane byproducts and their biological [...] Read more.
Sugarcane, a globally cultivated crop constituting nearly 80% of total sugar production, yields residues from harvesting and sugar production known for their renewable bioactive compounds with health-promoting properties. Despite previous studies, the intricate interplay of extracts from diverse sugarcane byproducts and their biological attributes remains underexplored. This study focused on extracting the lipid fraction from a blend of selected sugarcane byproducts (straw, bagasse, and filter cake) using ethanol. The resulting extract underwent comprehensive characterization, including physicochemical analysis (FT-IR, DSC, particle size distribution, and color) and chemical composition assessment (GC-MS). The biological properties were evaluated through antihypertensive (ACE), anticholesterolemic (HMG-CoA reductase), and antidiabetic (alpha-glucosidase and Dipeptidyl Peptidase-IV) assays, alongside in vitro biocompatibility assessments in Caco-2 and Hep G2 cells. The phytochemicals identified, such as β-sitosterol and 1-octacosanol, likely contribute to the extract’s antidiabetic, anticholesterolemic, and antihypertensive potential, given their association with various beneficial bioactivities. The extract exhibited substantial antidiabetic effects, inhibiting α-glucosidase (5–60%) and DPP-IV activity (25–100%), anticholesterolemic potential with HMG-CoA reductase inhibition (11.4–63.2%), and antihypertensive properties through ACE inhibition (24.0–27.3%). These findings lay the groundwork for incorporating these ingredients into the development of food supplements or nutraceuticals, offering potential for preventing and managing metabolic syndrome-associated conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lipids in Health and Diseases)
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18 pages, 27277 KiB  
Article
Depletion of PHLDB2 Suppresses Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition and Enhances Anti-Tumor Immunity in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
by Hongyu Li, Ziyi Wang, Huiting Liang, Xiaoyong Liu, Haichao Liu, Zehang Zhuang and Jinsong Hou
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020232 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 798
Abstract
The role of Pleckstrin homology-like domain family B member 2 (PHLDB2) in the regulation of cell migration has been extensively studied. However, the exploration of PHLDB2 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is still limited in terms of expression, function, and [...] Read more.
The role of Pleckstrin homology-like domain family B member 2 (PHLDB2) in the regulation of cell migration has been extensively studied. However, the exploration of PHLDB2 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is still limited in terms of expression, function, and therapeutic potential. In this study, we discovered an upregulation of PHLDB2 expression in HNSCC tissues which was correlated with a negative prognosis in patients with HNSCC. Additionally, we determined that a high level of expression of PHLDB2 is crucial for maintaining cell migration through the regulation of the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). Furthermore, we demonstrated that the ablation of PHLDB2 in tumor cells inhibited tumorigenicity in a C3H syngeneic tumor-bearing mouse model. Mechanistically, PHLDB2 was found to be involved in the regulation of T cell anti-tumor immunity, primarily by enhancing the activation and infiltration of CD8+ T cells. In light of these findings, PHLDB2 emerges as a promising biomarker and therapeutic target for interventions in HNSCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers in Oral Diseases 2.0)
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26 pages, 3901 KiB  
Review
Structural View of Cryo-Electron Microscopy-Determined ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters in Human Multidrug Resistance
by Wenjie Fan, Kai Shao and Min Luo
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020231 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1270
Abstract
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, acting as cellular “pumps,” facilitate solute translocation through membranes via ATP hydrolysis. Their overexpression is closely tied to multidrug resistance (MDR), a major obstacle in chemotherapy and neurological disorder treatment, hampering drug accumulation and delivery. Extensive research has delved [...] Read more.
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, acting as cellular “pumps,” facilitate solute translocation through membranes via ATP hydrolysis. Their overexpression is closely tied to multidrug resistance (MDR), a major obstacle in chemotherapy and neurological disorder treatment, hampering drug accumulation and delivery. Extensive research has delved into the intricate interplay between ABC transporter structure, function, and potential inhibition for MDR reversal. Cryo-electron microscopy has been instrumental in unveiling structural details of various MDR-causing ABC transporters, encompassing ABCB1, ABCC1, and ABCG2, as well as the recently revealed ABCC3 and ABCC4 structures. The newly obtained structural insight has deepened our understanding of substrate and drug binding, translocation mechanisms, and inhibitor interactions. Given the growing body of structural information available for human MDR transporters and their associated mechanisms, we believe it is timely to compile a comprehensive review of these transporters and compare their functional mechanisms in the context of multidrug resistance. Therefore, this review primarily focuses on the structural aspects of clinically significant human ABC transporters linked to MDR, with the aim of providing valuable insights to enhance the effectiveness of MDR reversal strategies in clinical therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Advances in ABC Transporters in Physiology and Disease)
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18 pages, 3662 KiB  
Article
Comprehensive Analysis of the Role of Fibrinogen and Thrombin in Clot Formation and Structure for Plasma and Purified Fibrinogen
by Rebecca A. Risman, Heather A. Belcher, Ranjini K. Ramanujam, John W. Weisel, Nathan E. Hudson and Valerie Tutwiler
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020230 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1439
Abstract
Altered properties of fibrin clots have been associated with bleeding and thrombotic disorders, including hemophilia or trauma and heart attack or stroke. Clotting factors, such as thrombin and tissue factor, or blood plasma proteins, such as fibrinogen, play critical roles in fibrin network [...] Read more.
Altered properties of fibrin clots have been associated with bleeding and thrombotic disorders, including hemophilia or trauma and heart attack or stroke. Clotting factors, such as thrombin and tissue factor, or blood plasma proteins, such as fibrinogen, play critical roles in fibrin network polymerization. The concentrations and combinations of these proteins affect the structure and stability of clots, which can lead to downstream complications. The present work includes clots made from plasma and purified fibrinogen and shows how varying fibrinogen and activation factor concentrations affect the fibrin properties under both conditions. We used a combination of scanning electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, and turbidimetry to analyze clot/fiber structure and polymerization. We quantified the structural and polymerization features and found similar trends with increasing/decreasing fibrinogen and thrombin concentrations for both purified fibrinogen and plasma clots. Using our compiled results, we were able to generate multiple linear regressions that predict structural and polymerization features using various fibrinogen and clotting agent concentrations. This study provides an analysis of structural and polymerization features of clots made with purified fibrinogen or plasma at various fibrinogen and clotting agent concentrations. Our results could be utilized to aid in interpreting results, designing future experiments, or developing relevant mathematical models. Full article
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14 pages, 776 KiB  
Review
Updates and Challenges in ENS Cell Therapy for the Treatment of Neurointestinal Diseases
by Takahiro Ohkura, Alan J. Burns and Ryo Hotta
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 229; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020229 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 789
Abstract
Neurointestinal diseases represent a significant challenge in clinical management with current palliative approaches failing to overcome disease and treatment-related morbidity. The recent progress with cell therapy to restore missing or defective components of the gut neuromusculature offers new hope for potential cures. This [...] Read more.
Neurointestinal diseases represent a significant challenge in clinical management with current palliative approaches failing to overcome disease and treatment-related morbidity. The recent progress with cell therapy to restore missing or defective components of the gut neuromusculature offers new hope for potential cures. This review discusses the progress that has been made in the sourcing of putative stem cells and the studies into their biology and therapeutic potential. We also explore some of the practical challenges that must be overcome before cell-based therapies can be applied in the clinical setting. Although a number of obstacles remain, the rapid advances made in the enteric neural stem cell field suggest that such therapies are on the near horizon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathogenesis and Potential Treatments of Neurointestinal Diseases)
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23 pages, 8796 KiB  
Article
Constructing and Evaluating a Mitophagy-Related Gene Prognostic Model: Implications for Immune Landscape and Tumor Biology in Lung Adenocarcinoma
by Jin Wang, Kaifan Liu, Jiawen Li, Hailong Zhang, Xian Gong, Xiangrong Song, Meidan Wei, Yaoyu Hu and Jianxiang Li
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020228 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 850
Abstract
Mitophagy, a conserved cellular mechanism, is crucial for cellular homeostasis through the selective clearance of impaired mitochondria. Its emerging role in cancer development has sparked interest, particularly in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). Our study aimed to construct a risk model based on mitophagy-related genes [...] Read more.
Mitophagy, a conserved cellular mechanism, is crucial for cellular homeostasis through the selective clearance of impaired mitochondria. Its emerging role in cancer development has sparked interest, particularly in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). Our study aimed to construct a risk model based on mitophagy-related genes (MRGs) to predict survival outcomes, immune response, and chemotherapy sensitivity in LUAD patients. We mined the GeneCards database to identify MRGs and applied LASSO/Cox regression to formulate a prognostic model. Validation was performed using two independent Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) cohorts. Patients were divided into high- and low-risk categories according to the median risk score. The high-risk group demonstrated significantly reduced survival. Multivariate Cox analysis confirmed the risk score as an independent predictor of prognosis, and a corresponding nomogram was developed to facilitate clinical assessments. Intriguingly, the risk score correlated with immune infiltration levels, oncogenic expression profiles, and sensitivity to anticancer agents. Enrichment analyses linked the risk score with key oncological pathways and biological processes. Within the model, MTERF3 emerged as a critical regulator of lung cancer progression. Functional studies indicated that the MTERF3 knockdown suppressed the lung cancer cell proliferation and migration, enhanced mitophagy, and increased the mitochondrial superoxide production. Our novel prognostic model, grounded in MRGs, promises to refine therapeutic strategies and prognostication in lung cancer management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bioinformatics and Systems Biology)
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20 pages, 5315 KiB  
Article
Chemical and Transcriptomic Analyses of Leaf Cuticular Wax Metabolism in Ammopiptanthus mongolicus under Osmotic Stress
by Batu Sumbur, Minqi Zhou, Tashi Dorjee, Jie Bing, Sijia Ha, Xiaojing Xu, Yijun Zhou and Fei Gao
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020227 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 646
Abstract
Plant cuticular wax forms a hydrophobic structure in the cuticle layer covering epidermis as the first barrier between plants and environments. Ammopiptanthus mongolicus, a leguminous desert shrub, exhibits high tolerances to multiple abiotic stress. The physiological, chemical, and transcriptomic analyses of epidermal [...] Read more.
Plant cuticular wax forms a hydrophobic structure in the cuticle layer covering epidermis as the first barrier between plants and environments. Ammopiptanthus mongolicus, a leguminous desert shrub, exhibits high tolerances to multiple abiotic stress. The physiological, chemical, and transcriptomic analyses of epidermal permeability, cuticular wax metabolism and related gene expression profiles under osmotic stress in A. mongolicus leaves were performed. Physiological analyses revealed decreased leaf epidermal permeability under osmotic stress. Chemical analyses revealed saturated straight-chain alkanes as major components of leaf cuticular wax, and under osmotic stress, the contents of total wax and multiple alkane components significantly increased. Transcriptome analyses revealed the up-regulation of genes involved in biosynthesis of very-long-chain fatty acids and alkanes and wax transportation under osmotic stress. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis identified 17 modules and 6 hub genes related to wax accumulation, including 5 enzyme genes coding KCS, KCR, WAX2, FAR, and LACS, and an ABCG transporter gene. Our findings indicated that the leaf epidermal permeability of A. mongolicus decreased under osmotic stress to inhibit water loss via regulating the expression of wax-related enzyme and transporter genes, further promoting cuticular wax accumulation. This study provided new evidence for understanding the roles of cuticle lipids in abiotic stress tolerance of desert plants. Full article
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18 pages, 6697 KiB  
Article
Antimicrobial Potency of Fmoc-Phe-Phe Dipeptide Hydrogels with Encapsulated Porphyrin Chromophores Is a Promising Alternative in Antimicrobial Resistance
by Chrysanthi Pinelopi Apostolidou, Chrysoula Kokotidou, Varvara Platania, Vasilis Nikolaou, Georgios Landrou, Emmanouil Nikoloudakis, Georgios Charalambidis, Maria Chatzinikolaidou, Athanassios G. Coutsolelos and Anna Mitraki
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020226 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 991
Abstract
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a significant global health risk as a consequence of misuse of antibiotics. Owing to the increasing antimicrobial resistance, it became imperative to develop novel molecules and materials with antimicrobial properties. Porphyrins and metalloporphyrins are compounds which present antimicrobial properties [...] Read more.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a significant global health risk as a consequence of misuse of antibiotics. Owing to the increasing antimicrobial resistance, it became imperative to develop novel molecules and materials with antimicrobial properties. Porphyrins and metalloporphyrins are compounds which present antimicrobial properties especially after irradiation. As a consequence, porphyrinoids have recently been utilized as antimicrobial agents in antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation in bacteria and other microorganisms. Herein, we report the encapsulation of porphyrins into peptide hydrogels which serve as delivery vehicles. We selected the self-assembling Fmoc-Phe-Phe dipeptide, a potent gelator, as a scaffold due to its previously reported biocompatibility and three different water-soluble porphyrins as photosensitizers. We evaluated the structural, mechanical and in vitro degradation properties of these hydrogels, their interaction with NIH3T3 mouse skin fibroblasts, and we assessed their antimicrobial efficacy against Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Gram-negative Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. We found out that the hydrogels are cytocompatible and display antimicrobial efficiency against both strains with the zinc porphyrins being more efficient. Therefore, these hydrogels present a promising alternative for combating bacterial infections in the face of growing AMR concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biological and Bio- Materials)
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16 pages, 3536 KiB  
Review
From Host Defense to Metabolic Signatures: Unveiling the Role of γδ T Cells in Bacterial Infections
by Namya Nanda and Martin P. Alphonse
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020225 - 15 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1161
Abstract
The growth of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections necessitates focusing on host-derived immunotherapies. γδ T cells are an unconventional T cell subset, making up a relatively small portion of healthy circulating lymphocytes but a substantially increased proportion in mucosal and epithelial tissues. γδ T cells [...] Read more.
The growth of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections necessitates focusing on host-derived immunotherapies. γδ T cells are an unconventional T cell subset, making up a relatively small portion of healthy circulating lymphocytes but a substantially increased proportion in mucosal and epithelial tissues. γδ T cells are activated and expanded in response to bacterial infection, having the capability to produce proinflammatory cytokines to recruit neutrophils and clear infection. They also play a significant role in dampening immune response to control inflammation and protecting the host against secondary challenge, making them promising targets when developing immunotherapy. Importantly, γδ T cells have differential metabolic states influencing their cytokine profile and subsequent inflammatory capacity. Though these differential metabolic states have not been well studied or reviewed in the context of bacterial infection, they are critical in understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the host’s innate immune response. Therefore, this review will focus on the context-specific host defense conferred by γδ T cells during infection with Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Full article
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13 pages, 1289 KiB  
Article
A Group of Highly Secretory miRNAs Correlates with Lymph Node Metastasis and Poor Prognosis in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma
by Yicun Li, Yuntao Lin, Xiaolian Li, Yuling Chen, Gang Chen and Hongyu Yang
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020224 - 15 Feb 2024
Viewed by 930
Abstract
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC)-derived small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) play a pivotal role in modulating intercellular communications between tumor cells and other cells in the microenvironment, thereby influencing tumor progression and the efficacy of therapeutic interventions. However, a comprehensive inventory [...] Read more.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC)-derived small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) play a pivotal role in modulating intercellular communications between tumor cells and other cells in the microenvironment, thereby influencing tumor progression and the efficacy of therapeutic interventions. However, a comprehensive inventory of these secretory miRNAs in sEVs and their biological and clinical implications remains elusive. This study aims to profile the miRNA content of OSCC cell line sEVs and computationally elucidate their biological and clinical relevance. We conducted miRNA sequencing to compare the miRNA profiles of OSCC cells and their corresponding sEVs. Our motif enrichment analysis identified specific sorting motifs that are implicated in either cellular retention or preferential sEV secretion. Target cell analysis suggested that the sEV miRNAs potentially interact with various immune cell types, including natural killer cells and dendritic cells. Additionally, we explored the clinical relevance of these miRNAs by correlating their expression levels with TNM stages and patient survival outcomes. Intriguingly, our findings revealed that a distinct sEV miRNA signature is associated with lymph node metastasis and poorer survival in patients in TCGA-HNSC dataset. Collectively, this research furthers our understanding of the miRNA sorting mechanisms in OSCC and underscores their clinical implications. Full article
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21 pages, 5226 KiB  
Article
Enhanced Tumor Targeting and Antitumor Activity of Methylated β-Cyclodextrin-Threaded Polyrotaxanes by Conjugating Cyclic RGD Peptides
by Shunyao Zhang, Atsushi Tamura and Nobuhiko Yui
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020223 - 15 Feb 2024
Viewed by 824
Abstract
We previously reported that acid-degradable methylated β-cyclodextrins (Me-β-CDs)-threaded polyrotaxanes (Me-PRXs) can induce autophagic cell death through endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-related autophagy, even in apoptosis-resistant cells. Hence, Me-PRXs show great potential as anticancer therapeutics. In this study, peptide-supermolecule conjugates were designed to achieve the [...] Read more.
We previously reported that acid-degradable methylated β-cyclodextrins (Me-β-CDs)-threaded polyrotaxanes (Me-PRXs) can induce autophagic cell death through endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-related autophagy, even in apoptosis-resistant cells. Hence, Me-PRXs show great potential as anticancer therapeutics. In this study, peptide-supermolecule conjugates were designed to achieve the targeted delivery of Me-PRX to malignant tumors. Arg-Gly-Asp peptides are well-known binding motifs of integrin αvβ3, which is overexpressed on angiogenic sites and many malignant tumors. The tumor-targeted cyclic Arg-Gly-Asp (cRGD) peptide was orthogonally post-modified to Me-PRX via click chemistry. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) results indicated that cRGD-Me-PRX strongly binds to integrin αvβ3, whereas non-targeted cyclic Arg-Ala-Glu (cRGE) peptide conjugated to Me-PRX (cRGE-Me-PRX) failed to interact with integrins αvβ3. In vitro, cRGD-Me-PRX demonstrated enhanced cellular internalization and antitumor activity in 4T1 cells than that of unmodified Me-PRX and non-targeted cRGE-Me-PRX, due to its ability to recognize integrin αvβ3. Furthermore, cRGD-Me-PRX accumulated effectively in tumors, leading to antitumor effects, and exhibited excellent biocompatibility and safety in vivo. Therefore, cRGD conjugation to enhance selectivity for integrin αvβ3-positive cancer cells is a promising design strategy for Me-PRXs in antitumor therapy. Full article
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14 pages, 4241 KiB  
Article
Peripheral Lymphocytes in Primary Liver Cancers: Elevated NK and CD8+ T Cells and Dysregulated Selenium Metabolism
by Cheng Zhou, Zhufeng Lu, Baoye Sun, Yong Yi, Boheng Zhang, Zheng Wang and Shuang-Jian Qiu
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020222 - 14 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1084
Abstract
Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs), which play a pivotal role in orchestrating the immune system, garner minimal attention in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). The impact of primary liver cancers on PBLs remains unexplored. In this study, flow cytometry facilitated the quantification [...] Read more.
Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs), which play a pivotal role in orchestrating the immune system, garner minimal attention in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). The impact of primary liver cancers on PBLs remains unexplored. In this study, flow cytometry facilitated the quantification of cell populations, while transcriptome of PBLs was executed utilizing 10× single-cell sequencing technology. Additionally, pertinent cases were curated from the GEO database. Subsequent bioinformatics and statistical analyses were conducted utilizing R (4.2.1) software. Elevated counts of NK cells and CD8+ T cells were observed in both ICC and HCC when compared to benign liver disease (BLD). In the multivariate Cox model, NK cells and CD8+ T cells emerged as independent risk factors for recurrence-free survival. Single-cell sequencing of PBLs uncovered the downregulation of TGFβ signaling in tumor-derived CD8+ T cells. Pathway enrichment analysis, based on differential expression profiling, highlighted aberrations in selenium metabolism. Proteomic analysis of preoperative and postoperative peripheral blood samples from patients undergoing tumor resection revealed a significant upregulation of SELENBP1 and a significant downregulation of SEPP1. Primary liver cancer has a definite impact on PBLs, manifested by alterations in cellular quantities and selenoprotein metabolism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Liver Diseases)
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19 pages, 2445 KiB  
Review
Polyphenols: Role in Modulating Immune Function and Obesity
by Md Abdullah Al Mamun, Ahmed Rakib, Mousumi Mandal, Santosh Kumar, Bhupesh Singla and Udai P. Singh
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020221 - 14 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1199
Abstract
Polyphenols, long-used components of medicinal plants, have drawn great interest in recent years as potential therapeutic agents because of their safety, efficacy, and wide range of biological effects. Approximately 75% of the world’s population still use plant-based medicinal compounds, indicating the ongoing significance [...] Read more.
Polyphenols, long-used components of medicinal plants, have drawn great interest in recent years as potential therapeutic agents because of their safety, efficacy, and wide range of biological effects. Approximately 75% of the world’s population still use plant-based medicinal compounds, indicating the ongoing significance of phytochemicals for human health. This study emphasizes the growing body of research investigating the anti-adipogenic and anti-obesity functions of polyphenols. The functions of polyphenols, including phenylpropanoids, flavonoids, terpenoids, alkaloids, glycosides, and phenolic acids, are distinct due to changes in chemical diversity and structural characteristics. This review methodically investigates the mechanisms by which naturally occurring polyphenols mediate obesity and metabolic function in immunomodulation. To this end, hormonal control of hunger has the potential to inhibit pro-obesity enzymes such as pancreatic lipase, the promotion of energy expenditure, and the modulation of adipocytokine production. Specifically, polyphenols affect insulin, a hormone that is essential for regulating blood sugar, and they also play a role, in part, in a complex web of factors that affect the progression of obesity. This review also explores the immunomodulatory properties of polyphenols, providing insight into their ability to improve immune function and the effects of polyphenols on gut health, improving the number of commensal bacteria, cytokine production suppression, and immune cell mediation, including natural killer cells and macrophages. Taken together, continuous studies are required to understand the prudent and precise mechanisms underlying polyphenols’ therapeutic potential in obesity and immunomodulation. In the interim, this review emphasizes a holistic approach to health and promotes the consumption of a wide range of foods and drinks high in polyphenols. This review lays the groundwork for future developments, indicating that the components of polyphenols and their derivatives may provide the answer to urgent worldwide health issues. This compilation of the body of knowledge paves the way for future discoveries in the global treatment of pressing health concerns in obesity and metabolic diseases. Full article
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15 pages, 825 KiB  
Article
Childhood Maltreatment and Immune Cell Gene Regulation during Adolescence: Transcriptomics Highlight Non-Classical Monocytes
by Kate R. Kuhlman, Steve W. Cole, Ece N. Tan, James A. Swanson and Uma Rao
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020220 - 13 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1307
Abstract
Childhood maltreatment has been repeatedly linked to a higher incidence of health conditions with an underlying proinflammatory component, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Childhood maltreatment has also been linked to elevated systemic inflammation prior to the onset [...] Read more.
Childhood maltreatment has been repeatedly linked to a higher incidence of health conditions with an underlying proinflammatory component, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Childhood maltreatment has also been linked to elevated systemic inflammation prior to the onset of disease. However, childhood maltreatment is highly comorbid with other risk factors which have also been linked to inflammation, namely major depression. The present analysis addresses this issue by assessing the association of maltreatment with genome-wide transcriptional profiling of immune cells collected from four orthogonal groups of adolescents (aged 13–17): maltreated and not maltreated in childhood, with and without major depressive disorder. Maltreatment and psychiatric history were determined using semi-structured clinical interviews and cross-validated using self-report questionnaires. Dried whole blood spots were collected from each participant (n = 133) and assayed to determine the extent to which maltreatment in childhood was associated with a higher prevalence of transcriptional activity among differentially expressed genes, specific immune cell subtypes, and up- or down-regulation of genes involved in immune function after accounting for current major depression. Maltreatment was associated with increased interferon regulatory factor (IRF) transcriptional activity (p = 0.03), as well as nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 1 (NRF1; p = 0.002) and MAF (p = 0.01) among up-regulated genes, and increased activity of nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB) among down-regulated genes (p = 0.01). Non-classical CD16+ monocytes were implicated in both the up- and down-regulated genes among maltreated adolescents. These data provide convergent evidence supporting the role of maltreatment in altering intracellular and molecular markers of immune function, as well as implicate monocyte/macrophage functions as mechanisms through which childhood maltreatment may shape lifelong immune development and function. Full article
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30 pages, 9872 KiB  
Article
Bariatric Surgery Induces Alterations in the Immune Profile of Peripheral Blood T Cells
by Pedro Barbosa, Aryane Pinho, André Lázaro, Diogo Paula, José G. Tralhão, Artur Paiva, Maria J. Pereira, Eugenia Carvalho and Paula Laranjeira
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020219 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1442
Abstract
Low-grade inflammation is closely linked to obesity and obesity-related comorbidities; therefore, immune cells have become an important topic in obesity research. Here, we performed a deep phenotypic characterization of circulating T cells in people with obesity, using flow cytometry. Forty-one individuals with obesity [...] Read more.
Low-grade inflammation is closely linked to obesity and obesity-related comorbidities; therefore, immune cells have become an important topic in obesity research. Here, we performed a deep phenotypic characterization of circulating T cells in people with obesity, using flow cytometry. Forty-one individuals with obesity (OB) and clinical criteria for bariatric surgery were enrolled in this study. We identified and quantified 44 different circulating T cell subsets and assessed their activation status and the expression of immune-checkpoint molecules, immediately before (T1) and 7–18 months after (T2) the bariatric surgery. Twelve age- and sex-matched healthy individuals (nOB) were also recruited. The OB participants showed higher leukocyte counts and a higher percentage of neutrophils. The percentage of circulating Th1 cells were negatively correlated to HbA1c and insulin levels. OB Th1 cells displayed a higher activation status and lower PD-1 expression. The percentage of Th17 and Th1/17 cells were increased in OB, whereas the CD4+ Tregs’ percentage was decreased. Interestingly, a higher proportion of OB CD4+ Tregs were polarized toward Th1- and Th1/17-like cells and expressed higher levels of CCR5. Bariatric surgery induced the recovery of CD4+ Treg cell levels and the expansion and activation of Tfh and B cells. Our results show alterations in the distribution and phenotype of circulating T cells from OB people, including activation markers and immune-checkpoint proteins, demonstrating that different metabolic profiles are associated to distinct immune profiles, and both are modulated by bariatric surgery. Full article
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31 pages, 7428 KiB  
Article
Discovery of A Novel Series of Quinazoline–Thiazole Hybrids as Potential Antiproliferative and Anti-Angiogenic Agents
by Alexandru Șandor, Ionel Fizeșan, Ioana Ionuț, Gabriel Marc, Cristina Moldovan, Ilioara Oniga, Adrian Pîrnău, Laurian Vlase, Andreea-Elena Petru, Ioana Macasoi and Ovidiu Oniga
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020218 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 982
Abstract
Considering the pivotal role of angiogenesis in solid tumor progression, we developed a novel series of quinazoline–thiazole hybrids (SA01–SA07) as antiproliferative and anti-angiogenic agents. Four out of the seven compounds displayed superior antiproliferative activity (IC50 =1.83-4.24 µM) on HepG2 cells [...] Read more.
Considering the pivotal role of angiogenesis in solid tumor progression, we developed a novel series of quinazoline–thiazole hybrids (SA01–SA07) as antiproliferative and anti-angiogenic agents. Four out of the seven compounds displayed superior antiproliferative activity (IC50 =1.83-4.24 µM) on HepG2 cells compared to sorafenib (IC50 = 6.28 µM). The affinity towards the VEGFR2 kinase domain was assessed through in silico prediction by molecular docking, molecular dynamics studies, and MM-PBSA. The series displayed a high degree of similarity to sorafenib regarding the binding pose within the active site of VEGFR2, with a different orientation of the 4-substituted-thiazole moieties in the allosteric pocket. Molecular dynamics and MM-PBSA evaluations identified SA05 as the hybrid forming the most stable complex with VEGFR2 compared to sorafenib. The impact of the compounds on vascular cell proliferation was assessed on EA.hy926 cells. Six compounds (SA01–SA05, SA07) displayed superior anti-proliferative activity (IC50 = 0.79–5.85 µM) compared to sorafenib (IC50 = 6.62 µM). The toxicity was evaluated on BJ cells. Further studies of the anti-angiogenic effect of the most promising compounds, SA04 and SA05, through the assessment of impact on EA.hy296 motility using a wound healing assay and in ovo potential in a CAM assay compared to sorafenib, led to the confirmation of the anti-angiogenic potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Molecules for Cancer Treatment 2.0)
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23 pages, 2890 KiB  
Article
Energy Metabolites and Indicative Significance of α-Ketoglutarate and α-Ketoglutaramate in Assessing the Progression of Chronic Hepatoencephalopathy
by Yevgeniya I. Shurubor, Andrey B. Krasnikov, Elena P. Isakova, Yulia I. Deryabina, Vladimir S. Yudin, Anton A. Keskinov and Boris F. Krasnikov
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020217 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 694
Abstract
In the example of a rat model with chronic hepatoencephalopathy (HE), changes in the organ morphology of rats affect the balance of metabolites of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and metabolites of the glutamine–glutamate (Gln-Glu) cycle, namely α-ketoglutarate (αKG) and α-ketoglutaramate (αKGM), as [...] Read more.
In the example of a rat model with chronic hepatoencephalopathy (HE), changes in the organ morphology of rats affect the balance of metabolites of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and metabolites of the glutamine–glutamate (Gln-Glu) cycle, namely α-ketoglutarate (αKG) and α-ketoglutaramate (αKGM), as well as the enzymes associated with them, ω-amidase (ωA) and glutamine transaminase (GTK). This model of rats was obtained as a result of 2–22 weeks of consumption by animals of hepatotoxin thioacetamide (TAA) added to drinking water at a concentration of 0.4 g/L. The control (n = 26) and TAA-induced (n = 55) groups of rats consisted of 11 cohorts each. The control cohorts consisted of 2–4 rats, and the TAA-induced cohorts consisted of 4–7 individuals. Every two weeks, samples of blood plasma, liver, kidney, and brain tissues were taken from the next cohort of rats (a total of 320 samples). By the end of the experiment, irreversible morphological changes were observed in the organs of rats: the weight of the animals was reduced up to ~45%, the weight of the kidneys up to 5%, the brain up to ~20%, and the weight of the liver increased up to ~20%. The analysis revealed: (i) a decrease in the activity of ωA and GTK in the tissues of the brain, kidneys, and liver of rats with chronic HE (by ~3, 40, and 65% and ~10, 60, and 70%, respectively); and (ii) the appearance of a significant imbalance in the content of metabolites of the Gln-Glu cycle, αKG, and αKGM. It is indicative that a ~1.5–12-fold increase in the level of αKG in the blood plasma and tissues of the organs of rats with chronic HE was accompanied by a synchronous, ~1.2–2.5-fold decrease in the level of αKGM. The data obtained indicate an essential involvement of the Gln-Glu cycle in the regulation of energy metabolism in rats under conditions of chronic HE. Attention is focused on the significance of the αKG/αKGM ratio, which can act as a potential marker for diagnosing the degree of HE development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mitochondria and Energy Metabolism in Health and Disease)
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17 pages, 2615 KiB  
Article
Synthesis, Characterization, Antioxidant, and Anticancer Activity against Colon Cancer Cells of Some Cinnamaldehyde-Based Chalcone Derivatives
by Mohamed A. El-Atawy, Demiana H. Hanna, Ali H. Bashal, Hoda A. Ahmed, Eida M. Alshammari, Ezzat A. Hamed, Abdullah R. Aljohani and Alaa Z. Omar
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020216 - 12 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1070
Abstract
The purpose of the current investigation was to produce cinammaldehyde-based chalcone derivatives (3ak) to evaluate their potential effectiveness as antioxidant and inhibitory agents versus human Caco-2 cancer cells. The findings obtained using the DPPH assay showed that compound 3e [...] Read more.
The purpose of the current investigation was to produce cinammaldehyde-based chalcone derivatives (3ak) to evaluate their potential effectiveness as antioxidant and inhibitory agents versus human Caco-2 cancer cells. The findings obtained using the DPPH assay showed that compound 3e had the highest effective antioxidant activity with the best IC50 value compared with the other compounds. Moreover, the cytotoxic findings revealed that compound 3e was the best compound for inhibiting Caco-2 development in contrast to all other produced derivatives, with the lowest IC50 concentration (32.19 ± 3.92 µM), and it also had no detrimental effects on healthy human lung cells (wi38 cells). Exposure of Caco-2 cells with this IC50 value of compound 3e resulted in a substantial rise in the number of early and late cells that are apoptotic with a significant comet nucleus when compared with control cells employing the annexin V/PI and comet evaluations, respectively. Furthermore, qRT-PCR and ELISA examinations indicated that compound 3e significantly altered the expression of genes and their relative proteins related to apoptosis in the treated Caco-2 cells, thus significantly inhibiting Caco-2 growth through activating Caspase-3 via an intrinsic apoptotic pathway. As a result, compound 3e could serve as an effective therapy for human colon cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering)
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10 pages, 1467 KiB  
Article
Canna Starch Improves Intestinal Barrier Function, Inhibits Allergen Uptake, and Suppresses Anaphylactic Symptoms in Ovalbumin-Induced Food Allergy in Mice
by Ayaka Koida, Mamoru Tanaka, Rina Kosaka, Shoei Okuda, Shiro Takei, Suzuno Ota, Sayaka Yokoyama, Kaho Miyake and Hiroyuki Watanabe
Biomolecules 2024, 14(2), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14020215 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 926
Abstract
Edible canna rhizomes contain extremely high levels of resistant starch among cereals and potatoes. We previously showed that feeding canna rhizome starch to mice may increase intestinal barrier function and improve the intestinal environment. Here, we investigated the effects of canna starch intake [...] Read more.
Edible canna rhizomes contain extremely high levels of resistant starch among cereals and potatoes. We previously showed that feeding canna rhizome starch to mice may increase intestinal barrier function and improve the intestinal environment. Here, we investigated the effects of canna starch intake in a murine food allergy model. Five-week-old female BALB/c mice were divided into four groups: Control and OVA groups fed on the control diet (AIN-93G) ad libitum and Canna and OVA-Canna groups fed on the canna diet (AIN-93G with 10% replaced with canna starch). The OVA and OVA-Canna groups were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA), and the anaphylactic response was assessed by measuring body temperature. Body temperature was significantly lower in the OVA group than in the non-sensitized group, but no decrease was observed in the OVA-Canna group. Fecal weight, fecal mucin content, and goblet cells of colorectal tissue were significantly increased in the Canna and OVA-Canna groups compared with those in the Control and OVA groups. Allergen uptake into the liver was also increased in the OVA group and decreased in the OVA-Canna group to the same level as in the non-sensitized group. These results indicate that canna starch supplementation in a murine food allergy model suppresses anaphylactic symptoms by improving the intestinal environment and reducing allergen uptake by increasing intestinal barrier function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Medicine)
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