Browsing by Subject "biolääketiede"

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  • Junnila, Siina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Gastric cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Due to lack of early symptoms, gastric cancer is characterized by late stage diagnosis and unsatisfactory options for curative treatment. Several genomic alterations have been identified in gastric cancer, but the major factors contributing to initiation and progression of gastric cancer remain poorly known. Gene copy number alterations play a key role in the development of gastric cancer, and a change in gene copy number is one of the fundamental mechanisms for a cancer cell to control the expression of potential oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. This thesis aims at clarifying the complex genomic alterations of gastric cancer to identify novel molecular biomarkers for diagnostic purposes as well as for targeted treatment. To highlight genes of potential biological and clinical relevance, we carried out a systematic microarray-based survey of gene expression and copy number levels in primary gastric tumors and gastric cancer cell lines. Results were validated using immunohistochemistry, real-time qRT-PCR, and affinity capture-based transcript (TRAC) assay. Altogether 192 clinical gastric tissue samples and 7 gastric cancer cell lines were included in this study. Multiple chromosomal regions with recurrent copy number alterations were detected. The most frequent chromosomal alterations included gains at 7q, 8q, 17q, 19q, and 20q and losses at 9p, 18q, and 21q. Distinctive patterns of copy number alterations were detected for different histological subtypes (intestinal and diffuse) and for cancers located in different parts of the stomach. The impact of copy number alterations on gene expression was significant, as 6-10% of genes located in the regions of gains and losses also showed concomitant alterations in their expression. By combining the information from the DNA- and RNA-level analyses many novel gastric cancer-related genes, such as ALPK2, ENAH, HHIPL2, and OSMR, were identified. Independent genome-wide gene expression analysis of Finnish and Japanese gastric tumors revealed an additional set of genes that was differentially expressed in cancerous gastric tissues compared with normal tissue. Overexpression of one of these genes, CXCL1, was associated with an improved survival of gastric cancer. Thus, using an integrative microarray analysis, several novel genes were identified that may be critically important for gastric carcinogenesis. Further studies of these genes may lead to novel biomarkers for gastric cancer diagnosis and targeted therapy.
  • Rajamäki, Kristiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of myocardial infarction and stroke, the leading causes of death worldwide. It is a complex multifactorial disease closely linked with obesity, type II diabetes, and metabolic syndrome and, together, these conditions comprise the global epidemic of metabolic disorders that are becoming more and more prevalent, affecting adults and children alike. Atherosclerosis affects the large arteries that gradully loose their normal structure and function via a degenerative process involving lipid accumulation and chronic inflammation in the arterial wall. The lipid accumulation is driven by high circulating levels of cholesterol-carrying low density lipoproteins that become trapped and modified in the arterial wall. This causes an inflammatory reaction characterized by abundant immune cell infiltrates, mainly monocyte-derived macrophages. The macrophages scavenge large amounts of lipids and become activated to secrete a host of proinflammatory mediators and matrix-degrading enzymes that drive the progression of the disease. These processes result in the focal development of fatty lesions or plaques along the arteries. Over time, more complex lesions develop as a result of inflammatory and fibrotic responses, matrix remodeling, calcification, cholesterol crystallization, neovessel formation, and microhemorrhages. Ultimately, the plaques may rupture, causing thrombosis and acute complications. Although inflammation is recognized as a major driving force in atherosclerotic lesion development, the mechanisms triggering and maintaining the arterial wall inflammation remain incompletely understood. The aim of this thesis was to study the role of a key innate immune signaling pathway, the inflammasome, in atherosclerosis. The inflammasomes are large cytoplasmic signaling complexes that trigger the proteolytic maturation and secretion of two proinflammatory and proatherogenic cytokines, interleukin(IL)-1beta and -18. The inflammasome pathway can be triggered by microbial components or by sterile endogenous danger signals that elicit the activation of cytoplasmic sensor molecules from the NLR (nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat containing) or PYHIN (pyrin and HIN domain containing) families. Despite the established roles of IL-1beta and -18 in driving atherosclerotic lesion development, the triggers of inflammasome activation in atherosclerotic plaques remained unknown. Macrophages are the prototypical inflammasome pathway-expressing cells, and thus cultured human macrophages were utilized to identify and characterize atherosclerosis-associated triggers of the inflammasome pathway. Cholesterol crystals and acidic environment were both found to trigger a strong inflammatory response via the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome and secretion of IL-1beta and IL-18. Cholesterol crystals are a hallmark of atherosclerotic lesions, yet they have been considered an inert material that merely acts as a sink for excess free cholesterol in the arterial wall. These new data suggested, however, that cholesterol crystals act as a potent sterile danger signal that may directly link pathological lipid accumulation and inflammation in the lesions. Local extracellular acidosis arises in the growing plaque due to the hindered diffusion of oxygen and the highly active glycolytic metabolism of macrophages. Acidic environment not only triggered the NLRP3 inflammasome, but even a very mild acidification from the physiological pH of 7.4 to 7.0 was sufficient to greatly amplify the IL-1beta response to other NLRP3 activators, including cholesterol crystals. Having showed that the atherosclerotic lesions harbour potent activators of the inflammasome pathway, we further analyzed the expression of this pathway in atherosclerotic human coronary specimens obtained from 10 explanted hearts. For this purpose, we utilized a quantitative PCR array targeting 88 inflammasome pathway-related molecules. Significant upregulation of 12 target genes was found in advanced coronary plaques compared to early lesions from the same coronary trees, including many of the very core components of the inflammasome pathway. Moreover, p38delta mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), a poorly characterized isoform of the stress- and cytokine-activated p38 MAPK family, was consistently upregulated in advanced coronary plaques. Immunohistochemical stainings of human coronary lesions showed strong expression of NLRP3 inflammasome components and p38delta MAPK in macrophages surrounding the cholesterol crystal-rich lipid core. Furthermore, the p38delta MAPK was activated in cultured human macrophages upon NLRP3 inflammasome activation by cholesterol crystals and extracellular ATP, and required for NLRP3-mediated IL-1beta secretion. Taken together, the data presented in this thesis propose novel inflammasome-mediated mechanisms that may trigger sterile inflammation in atherosclerotic lesions and thus drive lesion progression.