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D Montgomery Bissell - Top 30 Publications


Clinical, Biochemical, and Genetic Characterization of North American Patients With Erythropoietic Protoporphyria and X-linked Protoporphyria.

Autosomal recessive erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) and X-linked protoporphyria (XLP) are rare photodermatoses presenting with variable degrees of painful phototoxicity that markedly affects quality of life. The clinical variability, determinants of severity, and genotype/phenotype correlations of these diseases are not well characterized.

Acute hepatic porphyrias: Recommendations for evaluation and long-term management.

The acute hepatic porphyrias are a group of four inherited disorders, each resulting from a deficiency in the activity of a specific enzyme in the heme biosynthetic pathway. These disorders present clinically with acute neurovisceral symptoms which may be sporadic or recurrent and, when severe, can be life-threatening. The diagnosis is often missed or delayed as the clinical features resemble other more common medical conditions. There are four major subgroups: symptomatic patients with sporadic attacks (<4 attacks/year) or recurrent acute attacks (≥4 attacks/year), asymptomatic high porphyrin precursor excretors, and asymptomatic latent patients without symptoms or porphyrin precursor elevations. Given their clinical heterogeneity and potential for significant morbidity with suboptimal management, comprehensive clinical guidelines for initial evaluation, follow-up, and long-term management are needed, particularly because no guidelines exist for monitoring disease progression or response to treatment. The Porphyrias Consortium of the National Institutes of Health's Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, which consists of expert centers in the clinical management of these disorders, has formulated these recommendations. These recommendations are based on the literature, ongoing natural history studies, and extensive clinical experience. Initial assessments should include diagnostic confirmation by biochemical testing, subsequent genetic testing to determine the specific acute hepatic porphyria, and a complete medical history and physical examination. Newly diagnosed patients should be counseled about avoiding known precipitating factors. The frequency of follow-up depends on the clinical subgroup, with close monitoring of patients with recurrent attacks who may require treatment modifications as well as those with clinical complications. Comprehensive care should include subspecialist referrals when needed. Annual assessments include biochemical testing and monitoring for long-term complications. These guidelines provide a framework for monitoring patients with acute hepatic porphyrias to ensure optimal outcomes. (Hepatology 2017;66:1314-1322).

Pitfalls in Erythrocyte Protoporphyrin Measurement for Diagnosis and Monitoring of Protoporphyrias.

Laboratory diagnosis of erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) requires a marked increase in total erythrocyte protoporphyrin (300-5000 μg/dL erythrocytes, reference interval <80 μg/dL) and a predominance (85%-100%) of metal-free protoporphyrin [normal, mostly zinc protoporphyrin (reference intervals for the zinc protoporphyrin proportion have not been established)]; plasma porphyrins are not always increased. X-linked protoporphyria (XLP) causes a similar increase in total erythrocyte protoporphyrin with a lower fraction of metal-free protoporphyrin (50%-85% of the total).

Acute Hepatic Porphyria.

The porphyrias comprise a set of diseases, each representing an individual defect in one of the eight enzymes mediating the pathway of heme synthesis. The diseases are genetically distinct but have in common the overproduction of heme precursors. In the case of the acute (neurologic) porphyrias, the cause of symptoms appears to be overproduction of a neurotoxic precursor. For the cutaneous porphyrias, it is photosensitizing porphyrins. Some types have both acute and cutaneous manifestations. The clinical presentation of acute porphyria consists of abdominal pain, nausea, and occasionally seizures. Only a small minority of those who carry a mutation for acute porphyria have pain attacks. The triggers for an acute attack encompass certain medications and severely decreased caloric intake. The propensity of females to acute attacks has been linked to internal changes in ovarian physiology. Symptoms are accompanied by large increases in delta-aminolevulinic acid and porphobilinogen in plasma and urine. Treatment of an acute attack centers initially on pain relief and elimination of inducing factors such as medications; glucose is administered to reverse the fasting state. The only specific treatment is administration of intravenous hemin. An important goal of treatment is preventing progression of the symptoms to a neurological crisis. Patients who progress despite hemin administration have undergone liver transplantation with complete resolution of symptoms. A current issue is the unavailability of a rapid test for urine porphobilinogen in the urgent-care setting.

Afamelanotide for Erythropoietic Protoporphyria.

Erythropoietic protoporphyria is a severe photodermatosis that is associated with acute phototoxicity. Patients with this condition have excruciating pain and a markedly reduced quality of life. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of an α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone analogue, afamelanotide, to decrease pain and improve quality of life.

Role of delta-aminolevulinic acid in the symptoms of acute porphyria.

Attacks of neuropathic pain, usually abdominal, are characteristic of the acute porphyrias and accompanied by overproduction of heme-precursor molecules, specifically delta-aminolevulinic acid and porphobilinogen. The basis for the acute symptoms in these diseases has been speculative.

Acute porphyrias in the USA: features of 108 subjects from porphyrias consortium.

Recent descriptions of the clinical and laboratory features of subjects with acute porphyrias in the US are lacking. Our aim was to describe clinical, biochemical, and genetic features of 108 subjects.

Loss-of-function ferrochelatase and gain-of-function erythroid-specific 5-aminolevulinate synthase mutations causing erythropoietic protoporphyria and x-linked protoporphyria in North American patients reveal novel mutations and a high prevalence of X-linked protoporphyria.

Erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) and X-linked protoporphyria (XLP) are inborn errors of heme biosynthesis with the same phenotype but resulting from autosomal recessive loss-of-function mutations in the ferrochelatase (FECH) gene and gain-of-function mutations in the X-linked erythroid-specific 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS2) gene, respectively. The EPP phenotype is characterized by acute, painful, cutaneous photosensitivity and elevated erythrocyte protoporphyrin levels. We report the FECH and ALAS2 mutations in 155 unrelated North American patients with the EPP phenotype. FECH sequencing and dosage analyses identified 140 patients with EPP: 134 with one loss-of-function allele and the common IVS3-48T>C low expression allele, three with two loss-of-function mutations and three with one loss-of-function mutation and two low expression alleles. There were 48 previously reported and 23 novel FECH mutations. The remaining 15 probands had ALAS2 gain-of-function mutations causing XLP: 13 with the previously reported deletion, c.1706_1709delAGTG, and two with novel mutations, c.1734delG and c.1642C>T(p.Q548X). Notably, XLP represented ~10% of EPP phenotype patients in North America, two to five times more than in Western Europe. XLP males had twofold higher erythrocyte protoporphyrin levels than EPP patients, predisposing to more severe photosensitivity and liver disease. Identification of XLP patients permits accurate diagnosis and counseling of at-risk relatives and asymptomatic heterozygotes.

Therapy for hepatic fibrosis: revisiting the preclinical models.

Inflammation and hepatic fibrosis.

Of mentors, mentoring, and extracellular matrix.

D. Montgomery Bissell briefly describes the way he came to a career in academic medicine, how he found mentors, initial projects, and finally a focus on matrix biology and hepatic fibrosis. He draws some lessons from the experience, which should have relevance for physician-scientist trainees, those considering that path, anyone with responsibility for training the next generation, institutional leaders, and the National Institutes of Health.

Hepatic inflammation mediated by hepatitis C virus core protein is ameliorated by blocking complement activation.

The pathogenesis of inflammation and fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains unclear. Transgenic mice with constitutive HCV core over-expression display steatosis only. While the reasons for this are unclear, it may be important that core protein production in these models begins during gestation, in contrast to human hepatitis C virus infection, which occurs post-natally and typically in adults.

Attenuated response to liver injury in moesin-deficient mice: impaired stellate cell migration and decreased fibrosis.

Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) respond to injury with a coordinated set of events (termed activation), which includes migration and upregulation of matrix protein production. Cell migration requires an intact actin cytoskeleton that is linked to the plasma membrane by ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM) proteins. We have previously found that the linker protein in HSCs is exclusively moesin. Here, we describe HSC migration and fibrogenesis in moesin-deficient mice. We developed an acute liver injury model that involved focal thermal denaturation and common bile duct ligation. HSC migration and collagen deposition were assessed by immunohistology and quantitative real-time PCR. Activated HSCs were isolated from wild-type or moesin-deficient mice for direct examination of migration. Activated HSCs from wild-type mice were positive for moesin. Migration of moesin-deficient HSCs was significantly reduced. In a culture assay, 22.1% of normal HSCs migrated across a filter in 36 h. In contrast, only 1.3% of activated moesin-deficient HSCs migrated. Collagen deposition around the injury area similarly was reduced in moesin-deficient liver. The linker protein moesin is essential for HSC activation and migration in response to injury. Fibrogenesis is coupled to migration and reduced in moesin-deficient mice. Agents that target moesin may be beneficial for chronic progressive fibrosis.

Role of alphavbeta6 integrin in acute biliary fibrosis.

Acute biliary obstruction leads to periductal myofibroblasts and fibrosis, the origin of which is uncertain. Our study provides new information on this question in mice and humans. We show that bile duct obstruction induces a striking increase in cholangiocyte alphavbeta6 integrin and that expression of this integrin is directly linked to fibrogenesis through activation of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta). Administration of blocking antibody to alphavbeta6 significantly reduces the extent of acute fibrosis after bile duct ligation. Moreover, in beta6-null mice subjected to the injury, fibrosis is reduced by 50% relative to that seen in wild-type mice, whereas inflammation occurs to the same extent. The data indicate that alphavbeta6, rather than inflammation, is linked to fibrogenesis. It is known that alphavbeta6 binds latent TGF-beta and that binding results in release of active TGFbeta. Consistent with this, intracellular signaling from the TGFbeta receptor is increased after bile duct ligation in wild-type mice but not in beta6(-/-) mice, and a competitive inhibitor of the TGFbeta receptor type II blocks fibrosis to the same extent as antibody to alphavbeta6. In a survey of human liver disease, expression of alphavbeta6 is increased in acute, but not chronic, biliary injury and is localized to cholangiocyte-like cells.

Topological and evolutional relationships between HCV core protein and hepatic lipid vesicles: studies in vitro and in conditionally transgenic mice.

To investigate a specific association between hepatic steatosis and hepatitis C virus (HCV) core.

Hepatic fibrosis 2006: report of the Third AASLD Single Topic Conference.

The Third American Associated for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)-sponsored Single Topic Conference on hepatic fibrosis was held in June 2006. The conference was both international, with 6 countries represented, and cross-disciplinary, linking the basic molecular and cellular biology of fibrogenic cells to clinical trial design for emerging antifibrotic therapies. The specific goals of the conference were: (1) to consolidate knowledge about the natural history of fibrosis; (2) to clarify potential endpoints and markers; (3) to emphasize new antifibrotic targets developed on the basis of advances in basic science; and (4) to understand current critical issues pertaining to clinical trial design. Given the tremendous growth of the field and the constraints of a 2-day format, the selection of speakers was a challenge. A number of topics not included in the oral presentations were featured at poster sessions, lending breadth and depth to the meeting as a whole. Surprising new themes emerged about molecular, clinical, and regulatory aspects of the field, and a consensus emerged that hepatic fibrosis has matured into an integrated discipline that promises to significantly improve the prognosis of patients with fibrosing liver disease.

Noninvasive measures of liver fibrosis.

As novel therapies for liver fibrosis evolve, non-invasive measurement of liver fibrosis will be required to help manage patients with chronic liver disease. Although liver biopsy is the current and time-honored gold standard for measurement of liver fibrosis, it is poorly suited to frequent monitoring because of its expense and morbidity, and its accuracy suffers from sampling variation. At the current writing, serum markers and imaging methods are available and increasingly in use as alternatives to biopsy. However, many questions remain about their indications, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness, and more investigation is required before they are put into widespread use. The development of safe, inexpensive, and reliable noninvasive fibrosis measurement tools remains a research priority in clinical hepatology.

Hepatology over the years.

TWEAK induces liver progenitor cell proliferation.

Progenitor ("oval") cell expansion accompanies many forms of liver injury, including alcohol toxicity and submassive parenchymal necrosis as well as experimental injury models featuring blocked hepatocyte replication. Oval cells can potentially become either hepatocytes or biliary epithelial cells and may be critical to liver regeneration, particularly when hepatocyte replication is impaired. The regulation of oval cell proliferation is incompletely understood. Herein we present evidence that a TNF family member called TWEAK (TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis) stimulates oval cell proliferation in mouse liver through its receptor Fn14. TWEAK has no effect on mature hepatocytes and thus appears to be selective for oval cells. Transgenic mice overexpressing TWEAK in hepatocytes exhibit periportal oval cell hyperplasia. A similar phenotype was obtained in adult wild-type mice, but not Fn14-null mice, by administering TWEAK-expressing adenovirus. Oval cell expansion induced by 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC) was significantly reduced in Fn14-null mice as well as in adult wild-type mice with a blocking anti-TWEAK mAb. Importantly, TWEAK stimulated the proliferation of an oval cell culture model. Finally, we show increased Fn14 expression in chronic hepatitis C and other human liver diseases relative to its expression in normal liver, which suggests a role for the TWEAK/Fn14 pathway in human liver injury. We conclude that TWEAK has a selective mitogenic effect for liver oval cells that distinguishes it from other previously described growth factors.

Role of CD44 in epithelial wound repair: migration of rat hepatic stellate cells utilizes hyaluronic acid and CD44v6.

The hyaluronic acid receptor, CD44, exists as multiple splice variants that appear to have a role in migration of tumor cells. The role of this receptor and its variants in normal wound repair is poorly understood. A central feature of wound repair in the liver is activation and migration of perisinusoidal stellate cells. We have examined CD44 expression by stellate cells from normal or injured rat liver, finding that it increases with injury and involves a distinct set of CD44 splice variants. Among the latter, variants containing the v6 exon (CD44v6) are strikingly increased. Analysis of migration of primary cells on transwell filter inserts reveals that only cells isolated from injured liver are migratory. Also, they move more rapidly on hyaluronic acid than on collagen I or collagen IV. A polyclonal antibody to recombinant CD44v6 blocks migration by 50%, whereas antibody to CD44v4 has no effect. The inhibition is specific for cells migrating on hyaluronic acid and is reversed by synthetic peptide representing the N terminus of the v6 protein. In conclusion, activated stellate cells use CD44v6 and hyaluronic acid for migration. Given the evidence that migration is required for progression of injury with scar formation, blockers of CD44v6 expression or function are candidates for preventing the deleterious effects of chronic fibrosis.

Regulation of fibronectin splicing in sinusoidal endothelial cells from normal or injured liver.

Fn containing an extra type III domain (EIIIA in the rat, ED1 or EDA in humans) is commonly termed "fetal" fibronectin, but it is prominent during the injury response of adult tissues and mediates important early events in the response. This form is particularly apparent in acute liver injury, where it has been shown that sinusoidal endothelial cells produce EIIIA-fibronectin. This fibronectin isoform arises by alternative splicing of the primary transcript. In the present experiments, we have studied the regulation of fibronectin splicing in primary sinusoidal endothelial cells by transfecting a minigene containing the EIIIA exon and its flanking introns, driven by various promoters. The results indicate that fibronectin splicing in endothelial cells from normal liver is in part promoter-dependent. However, in cells from injured liver in which expression of both total and EIIIA-fibronectin is strikingly increased, promoter effects disappear. Because fibronectin splicing is known to be regulated in part by TGFbeta, we also examined the effect of a soluble inhibitor of the TGFbeta type 2 receptor. This agent had no effect on splicing by normal endothelial cells. By contrast, for endothelial cells from the injured liver, the splicing pattern reverted to that of normal cells, i.e., it became promoter-dependent. We conclude that, in the setting of injury in vivo, TGFbeta overrides the promoter dependence of fibronectin splicing in normal cells. The data suggest that TGFbeta modifies the spliceosome, if not through its known signaling intermediates, then through the products of genes regulated by this cytokine.

Assessing fibrosis without a liver biopsy: are we there yet?

Fibronectin transcription in liver cells: promoter occupation and function in sinusoidal endothelial cells and hepatocytes.

Hepatocytes (Heps) and sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs) perform different roles in normal and pathological liver functions through the differential expression of fibronectin (FN) polypeptides. Nonetheless, the molecular basis underlying cell-type specific FN expression remains unknown. Using liver cell isolation techniques followed by short-term primary culture and transient transfection, here, we compare the transcriptional regulation of the FN promoter in Heps and SEC in conditions that closely resemble in vivo physiology. Transfection experiments allowed us to reveal cell-type specific regulatory elements operating through the proximal regions of the FN promoter. To investigate this further, we examined the occupation patterns of key elements of the FN promoter such as the -170 CRE and -150 CCAAT sites. Transcriptional activity of mutagenised promoter constructs confirmed that in Heps, these two sites behave as a composite element critical for normal promoter activity. In addition, DNA-binding experiments demonstrate that the -170 CRE element displays a clear cell-type specific occupation with binding activities for ATF-2 and ATF-3 being specific to Heps. These results establish the starting point to investigate the molecular basis of changes in transcriptional regulation of the FN gene involved in liver pathology.