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  • Rautanen, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    In this thesis, two separate single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping techniques were set up at the Finnish Genome Center, pooled genotyping was evaluated as a screening method for large-scale association studies, and finally, the former approaches were used to identify genetic factors predisposing to two distinct complex diseases by utilizing large epidemiological cohorts and also taking environmental factors into account. The first genotyping platform was based on traditional but improved restriction-fragment-length-polymorphism (RFLP) utilizing 384-microtiter well plates, multiplexing, small reaction volumes (5 µl), and automated genotype calling. We participated in the development of the second genotyping method, based on single nucleotide primer extension (SNuPeTM by Amersham Biosciences), by carrying out the alpha- and beta tests for the chemistry and the allele-calling software. Both techniques proved to be accurate, reliable, and suitable for projects with thousands of samples and tens of markers. Pooled genotyping (genotyping of pooled instead of individual DNA samples) was evaluated with Sequenom s MassArray MALDI-TOF, in addition to SNuPeTM and PCR-RFLP techniques. We used MassArray mainly as a point of comparison, because it is known to be well suited for pooled genotyping. All three methods were shown to be accurate, the standard deviations between measurements being 0.017 for the MassArray, 0.022 for the PCR-RFLP, and 0.026 for the SNuPeTM. The largest source of error in the process of pooled genotyping was shown to be the volumetric error, i.e., the preparation of pools. We also demonstrated that it would have been possible to narrow down the genetic locus underlying congenital chloride diarrhea (CLD), an autosomal recessive disorder, by using the pooling technique instead of genotyping individual samples. Although the approach seems to be well suited for traditional case-control studies, it is difficult to apply if any kind of stratification based on environmental factors is needed. Therefore we chose to continue with individual genotyping in the following association studies. Samples in the two separate large epidemiological cohorts were genotyped with the PCR-RFLP and SNuPeTM techniques. The first of these association studies concerned various pregnancy complications among 100,000 consecutive pregnancies in Finland, of which we genotyped 2292 patients and controls, in addition to a population sample of 644 blood donors, with 7 polymorphisms in the potentially thrombotic genes. In this thesis, the analysis of a sub-study of pregnancy-related venous thromboses was included. We showed that the impact of factor V Leiden polymorphism on pregnancy-related venous thrombosis, but not the other tested polymorphisms, was fairly large (odds ratio 11.6; 95% CI 3.6-33.6), and increased multiplicatively when combined with other risk factors such as obesity or advanced age. Owing to our study design, we were also able to estimate the risks at the population level. The second epidemiological cohort was the Helsinki Birth Cohort of men and women who were born during 1924-1933 in Helsinki. The aim was to identify genetic factors that might modify the well known link between small birth size and adult metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. Among ~500 individuals with detailed birth measurements and current metabolic profile, we found that an insertion/deletion polymorphism of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) gene was associated with the duration of gestation, and weight and length at birth. Interestingly, the ACE insertion allele was also associated with higher indices of insulin secretion (p=0.0004) in adult life, but only among individuals who were born small (those among the lowest third of birth weight). Likewise, low birth weight was associated with higher indices of insulin secretion (p=0.003), but only among carriers of the ACE insertion allele. The association with birth measurements was also found with a common haplotype of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene. Furthermore, the association between short length at birth and adult impaired glucose tolerance was confined to carriers of this haplotype (p=0.007). These associations exemplify the interaction between environmental factors and genotype, which, possibly due to altered gene expression, predisposes to complex metabolic diseases. Indeed, we showed that the common GR gene haplotype associated with reduced mRNA expression in thymus of three individuals (p=0.0002).
  • Skrobuk, Paulina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Insulin resistance is characterized by a blunted biological response to insulin, and it is the hallmark of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Since skeletal muscle is among the major metabolic organs in the body, a better understanding of the molecular pathways regulating metabolic responses in muscle will help to develop novel strategies to improve glucose and lipid metabolism. Here, two different models of human skeletal muscle, intact skeletal muscle strips and primary human myotubes, were used to study acute regulation of metabolism. Globular adiponectin modestly increased glucose transport in type 2 diabetic, but not in nondiabetic muscle strips, without any effects on proximal insulin signaling. Insulin sensitizing drug rosiglitazone did not affect glucose transport or proximal insulin signaling events in intact human muscle strips, but it transiently activated AMPK-signaling pathway. Polyphenolic compound resveratrol inhibited fatty acid oxidation, glucose metabolism and insulin signaling in human myotubes. Moreover, resveratrol increased ER stress and directly inhibited AMPK activity. Palmitate impaired glucose metabolism and increased ER stress in primary human myotubes and also in intact skeletal muscle strips from overweight, but not lean men. Thus, the role of ER stress in the pathogenesis of fatty acid induced insulin resistance and T2D warrants further studies.
  • Levonen, Anna-Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Suhonen , Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Background: Both maternal and fetal complications are increased in diabetic pregnancies. Although hypertensive complications are increased in pregnant women with pregestational diabetes, reports on hypertensive complications in women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have been contradictory. Congenital malformations and macrosomia are the main fetal complications in Type 1 diabetic pregnancies, whereas fetal macrosomia and birth trauma but not congenital malformations are increased in GDM pregnancies. Aims: To study the frequency of hypertensive disorders in gestational diabetes mellitus. To evaluate the risk of macrosomia and brachial plexus injury (Erb’s palsy) and the ability of the 2-hour glucose tolerance test (OGTT) combined with the 24-hour glucose profile to distinguish between low and high risks of fetal macrosomia among women with GDM. To evaluate the relationship between glycemic control and the risk of fetal malformations in pregnancies complicated by Type 1 diabetes mellitus. To assess the effect of glycemic control on the occurrence of preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension in Type 1 diabetic pregnancies. Subjects: A total of 986 women with GDM and 203 women with borderline glucose intolerance (one abnormal value in the OGTT) with a singleton pregancy, 488 pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes (691 pregnancies and 709 offspring), and 1154 pregnant non-diabetic women (1181 pregnancies and 1187 offspring) were investigated. Results: In a prospective study on 81 GDM patients the combined frequency of preeclampsia and PIH was higher than in 327 non-diabetic controls (19.8% vs 6.1%, p<0.001). On the other hand, in 203 women with only one abnormal value in the OGTT, the rate of hypertensive complications did not differ from that of the controls. Both GDM women and those with only one abnormal value in the OGTT had higher pre-pregnancy weights and BMIs than the controls. In a retrospective study involving 385 insulin-treated and 520 diet-treated GDM patients, and 805 non-diabetic control pregnant women, fetal macrosomia occurred more often in the insulin-treated GDM pregnancies (18.2%, p<0.001) than in the diet-treated GDM pregnancies (4.4%), or the control pregnancies (2.2%). The rate of Erb’s palsy in vaginally delivered infants was 2.7% in the insulin-treated group of women and 2.4% in the diet-treated women compared with 0.3% in the controls (p<0.001). The cesarean section rate was more than twice as high (42.3% vs 18.6%) in the insulin-treated GDM patients as in the controls. A major fetal malformation was observed in 30 (4.2%) of the 709 newborn infants in Type 1 diabetic pregnancies and in 10 (1.4%) of the 735 controls (RR 3.1, 95% CI 1.6–6.2). Even women whose levels of HbA1c (normal values less than 5.6%) were only slightly increased in early pregnancy (between 5.6 and 6.8%) had a relative risk of fetal malformation of 3.0 (95% CI 1.2–7.5). Only diabetic patients with a normal HbA1c level (<5.6%) in early pregnancy had the same low risk of fetal malformations as the controls. Preeclampsia was diagnosed in 12.8% and PIH in 11.4% of the 616 Type 1 diabetic women without diabetic nephropathy. The corresponding frequencies among the 854 control women were 2.7% (OR 5.2; 95% CI 3.3–8.4) for preeclampsia and 5.6% (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.5–3.1) for PIH. Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that glycemic control, nulliparity, diabetic retinopathy and duration of diabetes were statistically significant independent predictors of preeclampsia. The adjusted odds ratios for preeclampsia were 1.6 (95% CI 1.3–2.0) for each 1%-unit increment in the HbA1c value during the first trimester and 0.6 (95% CI 0.5–0.8) for each 1%-unit decrement during the first half of pregnancy. In contrast, changes in glycemic control during the second half of pregnancy did not alter the risk of preeclampsia. Conclusions: In type 1 diabetic pregnancies it is extremely important to achieve optimal glycemic control before pregnancy and maintain it throughout pregnancy in order to decrease the complication rates both in the mother and in her offspring. The rate of fetal macrosomia and birth trauma in GDM pregnancies, especially in the group of insulin-treated women, is still relatively high. New strategies for screening, diagnosing, and treatment of GDM must be developed in order to decrease fetal and neonatal complications.
  • Similä, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Type 2 diabetes prevalence is on the rise. The carbohydrates inducing a rapid postprandial elevation in blood glucose have been suggested to increase risk of type 2 diabetes. Glycemic index (GI) classifies foods based on their postprandial blood glucose response compared with the response of reference food (glucose solution or white bread). Glycemic load (GL) is a measure of both quantity and GI of carbohydrates. The aim was to investigate the associations between dietary GI, GL, and intake of high-, medium-, and low-GI carbohydrates and the risk of type 2 diabetes and to evaluate the applicability of GI to epidemiologic studies. In a postprandial study (n=11), variations in glycemic responses and GI values of foods were examined and the effects of methodologic choices on variation compared (capillary and venous sampling, white wheat bread and glucose solution as reference foods, and repeating the reference measurement). Both within-subject and between-subject variation was considerable. The variation was smaller when capillary samples were used and when the reference food was tested at least twice. The GI database was compiled for dietary GI and GL calculation for the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study participants. The GI values were obtained from the GI measurement laboratory of the National Institute for Health and Welfare and from publications meeting the methodologic criteria. The ATBC Study cohort comprised 25 943 male smokers, aged 50-69 years, among whom 1098 diabetes cases were identified from the national drug reimbursement register during a 12-year follow-up. Diet was assessed by a validated food frequency questionnaire. The relative risks (RRs) and confidence intervals (CIs) for diabetes were analyzed using Cox proportional hazard modeling, and multivariate nutrient density models were applied to examine the substitutions of macronutrients. Dietary GI and GL were not associated with diabetes risk: RR (and 95% CI) for the highest versus the lowest quintile in the multivariate model was 0.87 (0.71, 1.07) for GI and 0.88 (0.65, 1.17) for GL. Substitution of low-GI (GI≤55) carbohydrates for an isoenergetic amount of high-GI (GI≥70) carbohydrates or low-GI carbohydrates for medium-GI (56-69) carbohydrates was not associated with diabetes risk. Substitution of medium-GI carbohydrates for high-GI carbohydrates was inversely associated with diabetes risk (RR 0.75 (0.59, 0.96)). Total carbohydrate substitutions for total fat and protein were inversely associated with diabetes risk, the multivariate RRs for 2 E% substitution were 0.96 (0.94, 0.99) and 0.85 (0.80, 0.90), respectively. Carbohydrate substitution for saturated plus trans fatty acids, but not unsaturated fatty acids, was inversely associated with diabetes risk. Carbohydrate substitution for total, meat, or milk protein was associated inversely with diabetes risk, independently from GI. Within-subject and between-subject variations in measured food GI were considerable. In addition, the same total dietary GI and GL result from several different food combinations, thus reflecting different properties of the diet, not only the carbohydrate quality. These factors limit the possibilities of epidemiologic studies to observe reliable associations between glycemic effects of diet and disease risk. In this study population, GI was not associated with diabetes risk. A higher percentage of carbohydrate intake was associated with decreased diabetes risk; the risk was lowered when fat or protein was replaced with carbohydrates.
  • Hepojoki, Jussi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Hantaviruses are one of the five genera of the vector-borne virus family Bunyaviridae. While other members of the family are transmitted via arthropods, hantaviruses are carried and transmitted by rodents and insectivores. Occasional transmission to humans occurs via inhalation of aerosolized rodent excreta. When transmitted to man hantaviruses cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS, in Eurasia, mortality ~10%) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS, in the Americas, mortality ~40%). The single-stranded, negative-sense RNA genome of hantaviruses is in segments S, M and L that respectively encode for nucleocapsid (N), glycoproteins Gn and Gc, and RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase (RdRp or L protein). The genome segments, encapsidated by N protein to form ribonucleoprotein (RNP), are enclosed inside a lipid envelope decorated by spikes formed of Gn and Gc. The focus of this study was to understand the mechanisms and interactions through which the virion is formed and maintained. We observed that when extracted from virions both Gn and Gc favor homo- over hetero-oligomerization. The minimal glycoprotein complexes extracted from virion by detergent were observed, by using ultracentrifugation and gel filtration, to be tetrameric Gn and homodimeric Gc. These results led us to suggest a model where tetrameric Gn complexes are interconnected through homodimeric Gc units to form the grid-like surface architecture described for hantaviruses. This model was found to correlate with the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of virion surface created using cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET). The 3D-density map showed the spike complex formed of Gn and Gc to be 10 nm high and to display a four-fold symmetry with dimensions of 15 nm times 15 nm. This unique square-shaped complex on a roughly round virion creates a hitch for the assembly, since a sphere cannot be broken into rectangles. Thus additional interactions are likely required for the virion assembly. In cryo-ET we observed that the RNP makes occasional contacts to the viral membrane, suggesting an interaction between the spike and RNP. We were able to demonstrate this interaction using various techniques, and showed that both Gn and Gc contribute to the interaction. This led us to suggest that in addition to the interactions between Gn and Gc, also the interaction between spike and RNP is required for assembly. We found galectin-3 binding protein (referred to as 90K) to co-purify with the virions and showed an interaction between 90K and the virion. Analysis of plasma samples taken from patients hospitalized for Puumala virus infection showed increased concentrations of 90K in the acute phase and the increased 90K level was found to correlate with several parameters that reflect the severity of acute HFRS. The results of these studies confirmed, but also challenged some of the dogmas on the structure and assembly of hantaviruses. We confirmed that Gn and RNP do interact, as long assumed. On the other hand we demonstrated that the glycoproteins Gn and Gc exist as homo-oligomers or appear in large hetero-oligomeric complexes, rather than form primarily heterodimers as was previously assumed. This work provided new insight into the structure and assembly of hantaviruses.
  • Kaivo-oja, Noora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    In the ovary, two new members of the large TGF-beta superfamily of growth factors were discovered in the 1990s. The oocyte was shown to express two closely related growth factors that were named growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF-9) and growth differentiation factor 9B (GDF-9B). Both of these proteins are required for normal ovarian follicle development although their individual significance varies between species. GDF-9 and GDF-9B mRNAs are expressed in the human oocytes from the primary follicle stage onwards. This thesis project was aimed to define the signalling mechanisms utilized by the oocyte secreted GDF-9. We used primary cultures of human granulosa luteal cells (hGL) as our cell model, and recombinant adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in manipulating the TGF-b family signalling cascade molecules in these cells. Overexpression of the constitutively active forms of the seven type I receptors, the activin receptor-like kinases 1-7 (ALK1-7), using recombinant adenoviruses caused a specific activation of either the Smad1 or Smad2 pathway proteins depending on the ALK used. Activation of both Smad1 and Smad2 proteins also stimulated the expression of dimeric inhibin B protein in hGL cells. Treatment with recombinant GDF-9 protein induced the specific activation of the Smad2 pathway and stimulated the expression of inhibin betaB subunit mRNA as well as inhibin B protein secretion in our cell model. Recombinant GDF-9 also activated the Smad3-responsive CAGA-luciferase reported construct, and the GDF-9 response in hGL cells was markedly potentiated upon the overexpression of Alk5 by adenoviral gene transduction. Alk5 overexpression also enhanced the GDF-9 induced inhibin B secretion by these cells. Similarly, in a mouse teratocarcinoma cell line P19, GDF-9 could activate the Smad2/3 pathway, and overexpression of ALK5 in COS7 cells rendered them responsive to GDF-9. Furthermore, transfection of rat granulosa cells with small interfering RNA for ALK5 or overexpression of the inhibitory Smad7 resulted in dose-dependent suppression of GDF-9 effects. In conclusion, this thesis shows that both Smad1 and Smad2 pathways are involved in controlling the regulation of inhibin B secretion. Therefore, in addition to endocrine control of inhibin production by the pituitary gonadotropins, also local paracrine factors within in the ovary, like the oocyte-derived growth factors, may contribute to controlling inhibin secretion. This thesis shows as well that like other TGF-beta family ligands, also GDF-9 signalling is mediated by the canonical type I and type II receptors with serine/threonine kinase activity, and the intracellular transcription factors, the Smads. Although GDF-9 binds to the BMP type II receptor, its downstream actions are specifically mediated by the type I receptor, ALK5, and the Smad2 and Smad3 proteins.
  • Alanko, Tuomo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Tolonen, Jukka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The intervertebral disc is composed of concentrically arranged components: annulus fibrosus, the transition zone, and central nucleus pulposus. The major disc cell type differs in various parts of the intervertebral disc. In annulus fibrosus a spindle shaped fibroblast-like cell mainly dominates, whereas in central nucleus pulposus the more rounded chondrocyte-like disc cell is the major cell type. At birth the intervertebral disc is well vascularized, but during childhood and adolescence blood vessels become smaller and less numerous. The adult intervertebral disc is avascular and is nourished via the cartilage endplates. On the other hand, degenerated and prolapsed intervertebral discs are again vascularized, and show many changes compared to normal discs, including: nerve ingrowth, change in collagen turnover, and change in water content. Furthermore, the prolapsed intervertebral disc tissue has a tendency to decrease in size over time. Growth factors are polypeptides which regulate cell growth, extracellular matrix protease activity, and vascularization. Oncoproteins c-Fos and c-Jun heterodimerize, forming the AP-1 transcription factor which is expressed in activated cells. In this thesis the differences of growth factor expression in normal intervertebral disc, the degenerated intervertebral disc and herniated intervertebral disc were analyzed. Growth factors of particular interest were basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF or FGF-2), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). Cell activation was visualized by the expression of the AP-1 transcription promoters c-Fos and c-Jun. The expression was shown with either mono- or polyclonal antibodies by indirect avidin-biotin-peroxidase immunohistochemical staining method. The normal control material was collected from a tissue bank of five organ donors. The degenerated disc material was from twelve patients operated on for painful degenerative disc disease, and herniated disc tissue material was obtained from 115 patients operated on for sciatica. Normal control discs showed only TGFβ immunopositivity. All other factors studied were immunonegative in the control material. Prolapsed disc material was immunopositive for all factors studied, and this positivity was located either in the disc cells or in blood vessels. Furthermore, neovascularization was noted. Disc cell immunoreaction was shown in chondrocyte-like disc cells or in fibroblast-like disc cells, the former being expressed especially in conglomerates (clusters of disc cells). TGFβ receptor induction was prominent in prolapsed intervertebral disc tissue. In degenerated disc material, the expression of growth factors was analyzed in greater detail in various parts of the disc: nucleus pulposus, anterior annulus fibrosus and posterior annulus fibrosus. PDGF did not show any immunoreactivity, whereas all other studied growth factors were localized either in chondrocyte-like disc cells, often forming clusters, in fibroblast-like disc cells, or in small capillaries. Many of the studied degenerated discs showed tears in the posterior region of annulus fibrosus, but expression of immunopositive growth factors was detected throughout the entire disc. Furthermore, there was a difference in immunopositive cell types for different growth factors. The main conclusion of the thesis, supported by all substudies, is the occurrence of growth factors in disc cells. They may be actively participating in a network regulating disc cell growth, proliferation, extracellular matrix turnover, and neovascularization. Chondrocyte-like disc cells, in particular, expressed growth factors and oncoproteins, highlighting the importance of this cell type in the basic pathophysiologic events involved in disc degeneration and disc rearrangement. The thesis proposes a hypothesis for cellular remodelling in intervertebral disc tissue. In summary, the model presents an activation pattern of different growth factors at different intervertebral disc stages, mechanisms leading to neovascularization of the intervertebral disc in pathological conditions, and alteration of disc cell shape, especially in annulus fibrosus. Chondrocyte-like disc cells become more numerous, and these cells are capable of forming clusters, which appear to be regionally active within the disc. The alteration of the phenotype of disc cells expressing growth factors from fibroblast-like disc cells to chondrocyte-like cells in annulus fibrosus, and the numerous expression of growth factor expressing disc cells in nucleus pulposus, may be a key element both during pathological degeneration of the intervertebral disc, and during the healing process after trauma.
  • Wang, Hao (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Hantaviruses have a tri-segmented negative-stranded RNA genome. The S segment encodes the nucleocapsid protein (N), M segment two glycoproteins, Gn and Gc, and the L segment the RNA polymerase. Gn and Gc are co-translationally cleaved from a precursor and targeted to the cis-Golgi compartment. The Gn glycoprotein consists of an external domain, a transmembrane domain and a C-terminal cytoplasmic domain. In addition, the S segment of some hantaviruses, including Tula and Puumala virus, have an open reading frame (ORF) encoding a nonstructural potein NSs that can function as a weak interferon antagonist. The mechanisms of hantavirus-induced pathogenesis are not fully understood but it is known that both hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus (cardio) pulmonary syndrome (HCPS) share various features such as increased capillary permeability, thrombocytopenia and upregulation of TNF-. Several hantaviruses have been reported to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis), such as TULV-infected Vero E6 cells which is known to be defective in interferon signaling. Recently reports describing properties of the hantavirus Gn cytoplasmic tail (Gn-CT) have appeared. The Gn-CT of hantaviruses contains animmunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM) which directs receptor signaling in immune and endothelial cells; and contain highly conserved classical zinc finger domains which may have a role in the interaction with N protein. More functions of Gn protein have been discovered, but much still remains unknown. Our aim was to study the functions of Gn protein from several aspects: synthesis, degradation and interaction with N protein. Gn protein was reported to inhibit interferon induction and amplication. For this reason, we also carried out projects studying the mechanisms of IFN induction and evasion by hantavirus. We first showed degradation and aggresome formation of the Gn-CT of the apathogenic TULV. It was reported earlier that the degradation of Gn-CT is related to the pathogenicity of hantavirus. We found that the Gn-CT of the apathogenic hantaviruses (TULV, Prospect Hill virus) was degraded through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, and TULV Gn-CT formed aggresomes upon treatment with proteasomal inhibitor. Thus the results suggest that degradation and aggregation of the Gn-CT may be a general property of most hantaviruses, unrelated to pathogenicity. Second, we investigated the interaction of TULV N protein and the TULV Gn-CT. The Gn protein is located on the Golgi membrane and its interaction with N protein has been thought to determine the cargo of the hantaviral ribonucleoprotein which is an important step in virus assembly, but direct evidence has not been reported. We found that TULV Gn-CT fused with GST tag expressed in bacteria can pull-down the N protein expressed in mammalian cells; a mutagenesis assay was carried out, in which we found that the zinc finger motif in Gn-CT and RNA-binding motif in N protein are indispensable for the interaction. For the study of mechanisms of IFN induction and evasion by Old World hantavirus, we found that Old World hantaviruses do not produce detectable amounts of dsRNA in infected cells and the 5 -termini of their genomic RNAs are monophosphorylated. DsRNA and tri-phosphorylated RNA are considered to be critical activators of innate immnity response by interacting with PRRs (pattern recognition receptors). We examined systematically the 5´-termini of hantavirus genomic RNAs and the dsRNA production by different species of hantaviruses. We found that no detectable dsRNA was produced in cells infected by the two groups of the old world hantaviruses: Seoul, Dobrava, Saaremaa, Puumala and Tula. We also found that the genomic RNAs of these Old World hantaviruses carry 5´-monophosphate and are unable to trigger interferon induction. The antiviral response is mainly mediated by alpha/beta interferon. Recently the glycoproteins of the pathogenic hantaviruses Sin Nombre and New York-1 viruses were reported to regulate cellular interferon. We found that Gn-CT can inhibit the induction of IFN activation through Toll-like receptor (TLR) and retinoic acid-inducible gene I-like RNA helicases (RLH) pathway and that the inhibition target lies at the level of TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK-1)/ IKK epislon complex and myeloid differentiation primary response gene (88) (MyD88) / interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7) complex.
  • Strandin, Tomas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae, genus Hantavirus) are enveloped viruses incorporating a segmented, negative-sense RNA genome. Each hantavirus is carried by its specific host, either a rodent or an insectivore (shrew), in which the infection is asymptomatic and persistent. In humans, hantaviruses cause Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia and Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in the Americas. In Finland, Puumala virus (genus Hantavirus) is the causative agent of NE, a mild form of HFRS. The HFRS-type diseases are often associated with renal failure and proteinuria that might be mechanistically explained by infected kidney tubular cell degeneration in patients. Previously, it has been shown that non-pathogenic hantavirus, Tula virus (TULV), could cause programmed cell death, apoptosis, in cell cultures. This suggested that the infected kidney tubular degeneration could be caused directly by virus replication. In the first paper of this thesis the molecular mechanisms involved in TULV-induced apoptosis was further elucidated. A virus replication-dependent down-regulation of ERK1/2, concomitantly with the induced apoptosis, was identified. In addition, this phenomenon was not restricted to TULV or to non-pathogenic hantaviruses in general since also a pathogenic hantavirus, Seoul virus, could inhibit ERK1/2 activity. Hantaviruses consist of membrane-spanning glycoproteins Gn and Gc, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (L protein) and nucleocapsid protein N, which encapsidates the viral genome, and thus forms the ribonucleoprotein (RNP). Interaction between the cytoplasmic tails of viral glycoproteins and RNP is assumed to be the only means how viral genetic material is incorporated into infectious virions. In the second paper of this thesis, it was shown by immunoprecipitation that viral glycoproteins and RNP interact in the purified virions. It was further shown that peptides derived from the cytoplasmic tails (CTs) of both Gn and Gc could bind RNP and recombinant N protein. In the fourth paper the cytoplamic tail of Gn but not Gc was shown to interact with genomic RNA. This interaction was probably rather unspecific since binding of Gn-CT with unrelated RNA and even single-stranded DNA were also observed. However, since the RNP consists of both N protein and N protein-encapsidated genomic RNA, it is possible that the viral genome plays a role in packaging of RNPs into virions. On the other hand, the nucleic acid-binding activity of Gn may have importance in the synthesis of viral RNA. Binding sites of Gn-CT with N protein or nucleic acids were also determined by peptide arrays, and they were largely found to overlap. The Gn-CT of hantaviruses contain a conserved zinc finger (ZF) domain with an unknown function. Some viruses need ZFs in entry or post-entry steps of the viral life cycle. Cysteine residues are required for the folding of ZFs by coordinating zinc-ions, and alkylation of these residues can affect virus infectivity. In the third paper, it was shown that purified hantavirions could be inactivated by treatment with cysteine-alkylating reagents, especially N-ethyl maleimide. However, the effect could not be pin-pointed to the ZF of Gn-CT since also other viral proteins reacted with maleimides, and it was, therefore, impossible to exclude the possibility that other cysteines besides those that were essential in the formation of ZF are required for hantavirus infectivity.
  • Korpela, Antti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Sarvikivi, Emmi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are known to increase the risk for patient morbidity and mortality in different healthcare settings and thereby to cause additional costs. HAIs typically affect patients with severe underlying conditions. HAIs are prevalent also among pediatric patients, but the distribution of the types of infection and the causative agents differ from those detected in adults. The aim of this study was to obtain information on pediatric HAIs in Finland through an assessment of the surveillance of bloodstream infections (BSIs), through two outbreak investigations in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and through a study of postoperative HAIs after open-heart surgery. The studies were carried out at the Hospital for Children and Adolescents of Helsinki University Central Hospital. Epidemiological features of pediatric BSIs were assessed. For the outbreak investigations, case definitions were set and data collected from microbiological and clinical records. The antimicrobial susceptibilities of the Serratia marcescens and the Candida parapsilosis isolates were determined and they were genotyped. Patient charts were reviewed for the case-control and cohort studies during the outbreak investigations, as well as for the patients who acquired surgical site infections (SSIs) after having undergone open-heart surgery. Also a prospective postdischarge study was conducted to detect postoperative HAIs in these patients. During 1999-2006, the overall annual BSI rate was 1.6/1,000 patient days (range by year, 1.2–2.1). High rates (average, 4.9 and 3.2 BSIs/1,000 patient days) were detected in hematology and neonatology units. Coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most common pathogens both hospital-wide and in each patient group. The overall mortality was 5%. The genotyping of the 15 S. marcescens isolates revealed three independent clusters. All of the 26 C. parapsilosis isolates studied proved to be indistinguishable. The NICU was overcrowded during the S. marcescens clusters. A negative correlation between C. parapsilosis BSIs and fluconazole use in the NICU was detected, and the isolates derived from a single initially susceptible strain became less susceptible to fluconazole over time. Eighty postoperative HAIs, including all severe infections, were detected during hospitalization after open-heart surgery; 34% of those HAIs were SSIs and 25% were BSIs. The postdischarge study found 65 infections that were likely to be associated with hospitalization. The majority (89%) of them were viral respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, and these often led to rehospitalizations. The annual hospital-wide BSI rates were stable, and the significant variation detected in some units could not be seen in overall rates. Further studies with data adequately adjusted for risk factors are needed to assess BSI rates in the patient groups with the highest rates (hematology, neonatology). The outbreak investigations showed that horizontal transmission was common in the NICU. Overcrowding and lapses in hand hygiene probably contributed to the spreading of the pathogens. Following long-term use of fluconazole in the NICU, resistance to fluconazole developed in C. parapsilosis. Almost one-fourth of the patients who underwent open-heart surgery acquired at least one HAI. All severe HAIs were detected during hospitalization. The postdischarge study found numerous viral infections, which often caused rehospitalization.
  • Zhang, Yanlei (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Type 2 diabetes occurs as a consequence of aging, family history, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and obesity and it is an increasing public health problem worldwide. The condition is associated with high rates of mortality from co-morbid cardiovascular diseases and poor health-related quality of life (HRQoL). A large proportion of individuals with type 2 diabetes are not diagnosed for up to a decade after onset unless a screening programme has been implemented. The estimated prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes in China accounts for about 60-70% of the diabetes population. Diabetes education that is targeted at the general population is the key to increase public knowledge and awareness and is a fundamental building block for addressing the diabetes epidemic. Screening for identifying undiagnosed diabetes could lead to earlier identification and intervention, and postpone or prevent the onset of diabetes and its complications. However, there is a paucity of study on the impact of education and screening programmes on HRQoL, lifestyle modification of the targeted population, and the cost-effectiveness of such programmes. The objectives of this study were to investigate 1) the cost and effectiveness of a population-based education programme to increase public knowledge and awareness of diabetes; 2) the cost-effectiveness of two different screening tools for undiagnosed diabetes; 3) impact of type 2 diabetes and its complications on individuals HRQoL; 4) impact of a screening programme on individuals overall HRQoL, depression dimension and lifestyle modification. This study was based on data analyses of two population-based diabetes surveys conducted in 2006 (Survey A) and 2009 (Survey C), and a dataset of diabetes high-risk population identified through the Qingdao Diabetes Prevention Program (QD-DPP) between 2007 and 2010 in Qingdao, China (Survey B). The same stratified, random cluster sampling method was used in Surveys A and C to recruit a representative sample of the general population who had lived in Qingdao city for at least five years. A total of 5355 individuals in Survey A and 5110 in Survey C aged 35-74 years participated in the surveys. A total of 3108 rural participants who did not have diabetes at baseline in 2009 were invited for a re-examination and 1782 individuals attended the follow-up survey. A standard 2h 75g oral glucose tolerance test was administrated to all participants in both surveys. Diabetes education and health promotion information and activities under the framework of QD-DPP were given via printed and audio-visual media, the internet, free distribution of information booklets and diabetes risk score (DRS) flyers that targeted the entire population of 1.94 million who lived in the intervention areas. An adult with a DRS more or as much as 14 was considered at high-risk for diabetes and invited to a nearby community clinic for a free capillary blood glucose test. The proportions of participants who correctly marked obesity, physical inactivity and positive family history of diabetes as the risk factors of diabetes were doubled in both urban and rural populations, irrespective of age and gender during the QD-DPP education campaign period. The cheapest way to inform 1000 individuals about type 2 diabetes was to distribute DRS flyers (¥54, ¥ = Chinese yuan), followed by the newspapers articles (¥77), booklets (¥313) and by radio programmes (¥375) (1 ≈7¥, for the year 2015). The fasting capillary glucose (FCG) test and Chinese DRS questionnaire were used as the first-line screening tools and these were evaluated for detecting undiagnosed diabetes in primary care settings. The sensitivity of FCG and DRS was 65.1% and 65.8%, whereas their respective specificity was 72.4% and 55.2%. The costs per undiagnosed diabetes identified at the optimal cut-off values of 6.1 mmol/l for FCG and 14 for DRS were ¥674 and ¥844, respectively. The area under curve (AUC) was higher for FCG than for DRS (75.3% vs. 63.7%, p less than 0.001). People with previously known type 2 diabetes reported that the symptomatic comorbidities had a strong negative impact on HRQoL; no significant difference was detected between people without diabetes and with newly diagnosed diabetes. The screening and labelling as pre-diabetes or normoglycaemia had no adverse impact on the participants overall HRQoL and depression. An improvement in lifestyle as measured by the frequency of physical activity and vegetable intake was observed at 3 years post screening in both groups. In conclusion, the QD-DPP education campaign efficiently increased public knowledge and awareness of diabetes. The DRS questionnaire is a simple, non-invasive and reliable first-line screening tool to identify undiagnosed diabetes at primary care settings. The diabetes screening programme in Qingdao generated positive changes towards a healthy lifestyle and did not result in any harm to the participants.
  • Nieminen, Tarja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Social capital has been widely discussed in research. An increasing amount of literature has linked social capital to various health outcomes and well-being. However, both health and social capital are complex phenomena, and there is still inconsistency in the research findings. The general aim of this study was to examine the associations between social capital, health behaviour and health among adult Finnish population. The conceptualization and operationalization of social capital varies according to discipline and level. In this study, social capital is measured at the individual level assuming that an individual s investment in group activity reflects social capital seen as a resource related to social networks and group membership. Individual benefits are accessed through social connections in varied groups and society. Thus the resources do not reside within the individual but rather in the structure of person s social networks. Social capital was measured on three dimensions in this study: 1) social support, 2) social networks and participation and 3) trust and reciprocity. The association between these dimensions and health were examined. Health was investigated as self-rated health, psychological well-being and mortality. This study utilised the data of the Health 2000 Survey conducted in 2000−2001. Of people aged 30 and over, 89% participated in the home interview and 80% in the general health examination. The study material presents the whole population unusually well. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL; formerly the National Public Health Institute, KTL) had the overall responsibility for the project. In addition, the project organization involved a wide range of research and funding agencies. This survey contains a rich armoury of questions about health and illnesses, health behaviour, capacity for work, functional capacity and use of health services. Furthermore, it includes a broad selection of questions used in measuring social capital. The results found an accumulation of social capital and general welfare for the same groups: the highest levels of social capital were found among the young, well-educated and married people. However, all socio-demographic subgroups seem to benefit from social capital. Regardless of all socio-demographic characteristics, high levels of social capital were associated with good health, associations which varied among different health-related behaviours, but social participation had a strong statistical association with all components of health and all health behaviours. Regardless of chronic diseases people with high levels of social capital felt healthier than those with low levels. The positive association between social capital and survival was statistically significant among men and suggestive among women. These findings indicate that social capital contributes to health. Health inequalities between population sub-groups are still substantial. Health could be promoted and health inequalities reduced by developing tools for increasing social participation especially in those groups lacking social capital−and who often also suffer from several health problems.