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  • Hästbacka, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The systemic levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) -7, -8 and -9 and the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) were investigated in 877 critically ill patients. In Study I, 15 intensive care unit-(ICU) treated adult patients with secondary peritonitis were prospectively included. Peritoneal fluid, blood and urine samples were collected at the ICU after surgery. The serum and urine levels of MMP-8 were compared with those obtained from ten healthy volunteers, and were found to be significantly higher in patients. In peritoneal fluid, MMP-8 levels were significantly higher than in serum and urine. This study was the first to identify MMP-8 in the peritoneal fluid of peritonitis patients. Study II was a sub-study of the FINNSEPSIS study where patients with severe sepsis or septic shock were prospectively included in 24 Finnish ICUs. Serum samples of 248 patients were analysed for MMP-8, MMP-9 and TIMP-1 levels, that were found to be higher than those of healthy controls. MMP-8, -9 and TIMP-1 levels were compared between ICU survivors and non-survivors. Median MMP-8 (p<0.01) and TIMP-1 (p<0.001) were higher and median MMP-9 levels lower (p=0.047) in ICU non-survivors than in ICU survivors. Study III investigated MMP-7, MMP-8, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 levels on 51 patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest (CA). The patients were a subgroup of the Hypothermia After Cardiac Arrest study. Thirty patients had received mild therapeutic hypothermia treatment (MTH) and 21 non-hypothermia treatment (non-MTH). Serum samples taken at 24 and 48 hours from restoration of spontaneous circulation were analysed and compared between patients and healthy volunteers. Serum MMP and TIMP-1 levels of MTH-treated patients were compared during and after MTH with the levels of non-MTH-treated patients. MMP-8 and MMP-9 were higher in CA patients than controls. Patients receiving MTH treatment had lower median MMP-9 levels during MTH than non-MTH-treated patients (p<0.001). This is one novel potential mechanism of how MTH treatment improves outcome of CA patients. Study IV was a 563-patient sub-study of the FINNALI study that included acute respiratory failure patients at 25 Finnish ICUs. MMP-8 and TIMP-1 were analysed from blood samples taken on study admission and 48 hours thereafter. Association of MMP-8 and TIMP-1 with 90-day mortality was examined. Serum MMP-8 predicted 90-day mortality of acute respiratory failure patients poorly. Admission TIMP-1 levels were higher in non-survivors than in survivors (p<0.001).TIMP-1 was an independent predictor of 90-day mortality, with a moderate discriminative power (AUC 0.633, 95% CI 0.580- 0.686). TIMP-1 was also associated with the severity of oxygenation disturbance. Thus, TIMP-1 is a potentially useful biomarker for predicting outcome in acute respiratory failure patients.
  • Cederqvist, Katariina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    During inflammation, excess production and release of matrix proteinases, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and serine proteinases, may result in dysregulated extracellular proteolysis leading to development of tissue damage. Pulmonary inflammation may play an important role in the pathogenesis of lung injury in the preterm infant. The aims of this study were to evaluate involvement of MMPs and serine proteinase trypsin in acute and chronic lung injury in preterm infants and to study the role of these enzymes in acute lung injury by means of an animal model of hyperoxic lung injury. Molecular forms and levels of MMP-2, -8, and -9, and their specific inhibitor, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-2, as well as trypsin were studied in tracheal aspirate fluid (TAF) samples collected from preterm infants with respiratory distress. Expression and distribution of trypsin-2 and proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR2) was examined in autopsy lung specimens from fetuses, from preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), and from newborn infants without lung injury. We detected higher MMP-8 and trypsin-2 and lower TIMP-2 in TAF from preterm infants with more severe acute respiratory distress. Infants subsequently developing BPD had higher levels of MMP-8 and trypsin-2 early postnatally than did those who survived without this chronic lung injury. Immunohistochemically, trypsin-2 was mainly detectable in bronchial epithelium, but also in alveolar epithelium, and its expression was strongest in prolonged RDS. Since trypsin-2 is potent activator of PAR2, a G-protein coupled receptor involved in inflammation, we studied PAR2 expression in the lung. PAR2 co-localized with trypsin-2 in bronchoalveolar epithelium and its expression was significantly higher in bronchoalveolar epithelium in preterm infants with prolonged RDS than in newborn controls. In the experimental study, rats were exposed to >95% oxygen for 24, 48, and 60 hours, or room air. At 48 hours of hyperoxia, MMP-8 and trypsin levels sharply increased in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and expression of trypsin appeared in alveolar epithelium, and MMP-8 predominantly in macrophages. In conclusion, high pulmonary MMP-8 and trypsin-2 early postnatally are associated with severity of acute lung injury and subsequent development of BPD in preterm infants. In the injured preterm lung, trypsin-2 co-localizes with PAR2 in bronchoalveolar epithelium, suggesting that PAR2 activated by high levels of trypsin-2 is involved in lung inflammation associated with development of BPD. Marked increase in MMP-8 and trypsin early in the course of experimental hyperoxic lung injury suggests that these enzymes play a role in the pathogenesis of acute lung injury. Further exploration of the roles of trypsin and MMP-8 in lung injury may offer new targets for therapeutic intervention.
  • Wennervirta, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The adequacy of anesthesia has been studied since the introduction of balanced general anesthesia. Commercial monitors based on electroencephalographic (EEG) signal analysis have been available for monitoring the hypnotic component of anesthesia from the beginning of the 1990s. Monitors measuring the depth of anesthesia assess the cortical function of the brain, and have gained acceptance during surgical anesthesia with most of the anesthetic agents used. However, due to frequent artifacts, they are considered unsuitable for monitoring consciousness in intensive care patients. The assessment of analgesia is one of the cornerstones of general anesthesia. Prolonged surgical stress may lead to increased morbidity and delayed postoperative recovery. However, no validated monitoring method is currently available for evaluating analgesia during general anesthesia. Awareness during anesthesia is caused by an inadequate level of hypnosis. This rare but severe complication of general anesthesia may lead to marked emotional stress and possibly posttraumatic stress disorder. In the present series of studies, the incidence of awareness and recall during outpatient anesthesia was evaluated and compared with that of in inpatient anesthesia. A total of 1500 outpatients and 2343 inpatients underwent a structured interview. Clear intraoperative recollections were rare the incidence being 0.07% in outpatients and 0.13% in inpatients. No significant differences emerged between outpatients and inpatients. However, significantly smaller doses of sevoflurane were administered to outpatients with awareness than those without recollections (p<0.05). EEG artifacts in 16 brain-dead organ donors were evaluated during organ harvest surgery in a prospective, open, nonselective study. The source of the frontotemporal biosignals in brain-dead subjects was studied, and the resistance of bispectral index (BIS) and Entropy to the signal artifacts was compared. The hypothesis was that in brain-dead subjects, most of the biosignals recorded from the forehead would consist of artifacts. The original EEG was recorded and State Entropy (SE), Response Entropy (RE), and BIS were calculated and monitored during solid organ harvest. SE differed from zero (inactive EEG) in 28%, RE in 29%, and BIS in 68% of the total recording time (p<0.0001 for all). The median values during the operation were SE 0.0, RE 0.0, and BIS 3.0. In four of the 16 organ donors, EEG was not inactive, and unphysiologically distributed, nonreactive rhythmic theta activity was present in the original EEG signal. After the results from subjects with persistent residual EEG activity were excluded, SE, RE, and BIS differed from zero in 17%, 18%, and 62% of the recorded time, respectively (p<0.0001 for all). Due to various artifacts, the highest readings in all indices were recorded without neuromuscular blockade. The main sources of artifacts were electrocauterization, electromyography (EMG), 50-Hz artifact, handling of the donor, ballistocardiography, and electrocardiography. In a prospective, randomized study of 26 patients, the ability of Surgical Stress Index (SSI) to differentiate patients with two clinically different analgesic levels during shoulder surgery was evaluated. SSI values were lower in patients with an interscalene brachial plexus block than in patients without an additional plexus block. In all patients, anesthesia was maintained with desflurane, the concentration of which was targeted to maintain SE at 50. Increased blood pressure or heart rate (HR), movement, and coughing were considered signs of intraoperative nociception and treated with alfentanil. Photoplethysmographic waveforms were collected from the contralateral arm to the operated side, and SSI was calculated offline. Two minutes after skin incision, SSI was not increased in the brachial plexus block group and was lower (38 ± 13) than in the control group (58 ± 13, p<0.005). Among the controls, one minute prior to alfentanil administration, SSI value was higher than during periods of adequate antinociception, 59 ± 11 vs. 39 ± 12 (p<0.01). The total cumulative need for alfentanil was higher in controls (2.7 ± 1.2 mg) than in the brachial plexus block group (1.6 ± 0.5 mg, p=0.008). Tetanic stimulation to the ulnar region of the hand increased SSI significantly only among patients with a brachial plexus block not covering the site of stimulation. Prognostic value of EEG-derived indices was evaluated and compared with Transcranial Doppler Ultrasonography (TCD), serum neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and S-100B after cardiac arrest. Thirty patients resuscitated from out-of-hospital arrest and treated with induced mild hypothermia for 24 h were included. Original EEG signal was recorded, and burst suppression ratio (BSR), RE, SE, and wavelet subband entropy (WSE) were calculated. Neurological outcome during the six-month period after arrest was assessed with the Glasgow-Pittsburgh Cerebral Performance Categories (CPC). Twenty patients had a CPC of 1-2, one patient had a CPC of 3, and nine patients died (CPC 5). BSR, RE, and SE differed between good (CPC 1-2) and poor (CPC 3-5) outcome groups (p=0.011, p=0.011, p=0.008, respectively) during the first 24 h after arrest. WSE was borderline higher in the good outcome group between 24 and 48 h after arrest (p=0.050). All patients with status epilepticus died, and their WSE values were lower (p=0.022). S-100B was lower in the good outcome group upon arrival at the intensive care unit (p=0.010). After hypothermia treatment, NSE and S-100B values were lower (p=0.002 for both) in the good outcome group. The pulsatile index was also lower in the good outcome group (p=0.004). In conclusion, the incidence of awareness in outpatient anesthesia did not differ from that in inpatient anesthesia. Outpatients are not at increased risk for intraoperative awareness relative to inpatients undergoing general anesthesia. SE, RE, and BIS showed non-zero values that normally indicate cortical neuronal function, but were in these subjects mostly due to artifacts after clinical brain death diagnosis. Entropy was more resistant to artifacts than BIS. During general anesthesia and surgery, SSI values were lower in patients with interscalene brachial plexus block covering the sites of nociceptive stimuli. In detecting nociceptive stimuli, SSI performed better than HR, blood pressure, or RE. BSR, RE, and SE differed between the good and poor neurological outcome groups during the first 24 h after cardiac arrest, and they may be an aid in differentiating patients with good neurological outcomes from those with poor outcomes after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
  • Linko, Solveig (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Vainiola, Tarja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Cost-utility analysis provides a means to determine the health benefit and economic burden of different health-care interventions. In cost-utility analyses, the benefit of care is measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained. The calculation of QALYs requires knowledge of the change in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and assumptions concerning when the benefit of care materialises and how long the benefit lasts. The gold standard for QALY calculations has not yet been defined and, as a consequence, the HRQoL instruments and calculation methods used vary from study to study. The aim of the current study was to clarify how much the differences in the components used for the calculation of QALYs are reflected in the end result, i.e., the number of QALYs gained in the critical care setting. The detailed aims were to study 1) the effect of the instrument used (the EQ-5D or the 15D) on the HRQoL score and the measured changes in it; 2) the effects of the baseline HRQoL and the assumptions concerning the progress of recovery on the number of QALYs; 3) how to estimate life expectancy in the critical care setting, and 4) which factors have an effect on the follow-up HRQoL. The results are based on two study populations. The first population comprises patients having been treated in an intensive care or high-dependency unit (n = 3600), and whose HRQoL was assessed using the EQ-5D and 15D HRQoL instruments 6 and 12 months after treatment. The second population consists of patients having underone treatment in a cardiac surgery intensive care unit (n = 980), and whose HRQoL was assessed using the 15D HRQoL instrument at baseline, when placed on a waiting list for surgery and 6 months after treatment. The results of the studies show that the HRQoL index score is dependent on the instrument used. The distribution of the patients HRQoL scores differed between instruments. The differences are explained, inter alia, by the ceiling effect of the EQ-5D i.e., for a significant proportion of the respondents, the instrument produced the best possible HRQoL score of 1 and by the negative scores of the EQ-5D i.e., for health states worse than death. The 15D produced higher mean HRQoL scores than the EQ-5D. The 15D was able to distinguish between a greater number of health states than the EQ-5D, thus showing a better discriminatory power. The choice of instrument was also reflected in the change observed in HRQoL. The two instruments classified patients according to the change in HRQoL (improved, remained stable, deteriorated) in a similar manner only in approximately half of the cases. The 15D was more sensitive to detecting a change than the EQ-5D. Consequently, both its discriminatory power and responsiveness to change were better than those for the EQ-5D. The assumptions concerning the progression of recovery and the baseline HRQoL score had an effect on the number of QALYs gained both within and between instruments and, consequently, on the cost per QALY ratio. The EQ-5D and the 15D performed differently under different calculation assumptions. The greatest difference in the number of QALYs gained was caused by the negative HRQoL scores observed with the EQ-5D enabling the accrual of more than 1 QALY per year. Patients having been treated in an intensive care unit showed long-lasting excess mortality and, as a consequence, a reduced life expectancy. By contrast, in cardiac surgery patients, the life expectancy was similar to or even better than that of the general population. In patient groups with excess mortality, neither the follow-up time nor the life expectancy of the general population can be regarded as optimal indicators for the duration of the benefit of care. In those patient groups, life expectancy should be extrapolated in relation to the observed excess mortality. In cardiac surgery patients, factors predicting mortality and morbidity are not able to accurately predict the follow-up HRQoL. Instead, patient experiences, such as restlessness and pain during intensive care, predicted poor post-treatment HRQoL. Given that these results are novel, future studies should be directed to patient experiences during treatment. They may be confounding factors in analyses concerning treatment effectiveness, and also diminish the effectiveness of treatment. QALY is not a universal measure, but is dependent on the HRQoL instrument used and on how the factors to be taken into account in the calculation of QALYs are chosen and defined. Furthermore, factors external to the interventions under evaluation, such as the patient s psychological experiences during treatment, may have an effect on the follow-up HRQoL. The ranking of different interventions in terms of their effectiveness calls for standardisation in the calculation of QALYs and more information on the effect of patient experiences during treatment on the follow-up HRQoL  
  • Honkalammi, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Drug-drug interactions may cause serious, even fatal clinical consequences. Therefore, it is important to examine the interaction potential of new chemical entities early in drug development. Mechanism-based inhibition is a pharmacokinetic interaction type, which causes irreversible loss of enzyme activity and can therefore lead to unusually profound and long-lasting consequences. The in vitro in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) of drug-drug interactions caused by mechanism-based inhibition is challenging. Consequently, many of these interactions have remained unrecognised for many years. The concomitant use of the fibrate-class lipid-lowering agent gemfibrozil increases the concentrations of some drugs and their effects markedly. Even fatal cases of rhabdomyolysis occurred in patients administering gemfibrozil and cerivastatin concomitantly. One of the main mechanisms behind this effect is the mechanism-based inhibition of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C8 enzyme by a glucuronide metabolite of gemfibrozil leading to increased cerivastatin concentrations. Although the clinical use of gemfibrozil has clearly decreased during recent years, gemfibrozil is still needed in some special cases. To enable safe use of gemfibrozil concomitantly with other drugs, information concerning the time and dose relationships of CYP2C8 inhibition by gemfibrozil should be known. This work was carried out as four in vivo clinical drug-drug interaction studies to examine the time and dose relationships of the mechanism-based inhibitory effect of gemfibrozil on CYP2C8. The oral antidiabetic drug repaglinide was used as a probe drug for measuring CYP2C8 activity in healthy volunteers. In this work, mechanism-based inhibition of the CYP2C8 enzyme by gemfibrozil was found to occur rapidly in humans. The inhibitory effect developed to its maximum already when repaglinide was given 1-3 h after gemfibrozil intake. In addition, the inhibition was shown to abate slowly. A full recovery of CYP2C8 activity, as measured by repaglinide metabolism, was achieved 96 h after cessation of gemfibrozil treatment. The dose-dependency of the mechanism-based inhibition of CYP2C8 by gemfibrozil was shown for the first time in this work. CYP2C8 activity was halved by a single 30 mg dose of gemfibrozil or by twice daily administration of less than 30 mg of gemfibrozil. Furthermore, CYP2C8 activity was decreased over 90% by a single dose of 900 mg gemfibrozil or twice daily dosing of approximately 100 mg gemfibrozil. In addition, with the application of physiological models to the data obtained in the dose-dependency studies, the major role of mechanism-based inhibition of CYP2C8 in the interaction between gemfibrozil and repaglinide was confirmed. The results of this work enhance the proper use of gemfibrozil and the safety of patients. The information related to time-dependency of CYP2C8 inhibition by gemfibrozil may also give new insights in order to improve the IVIVE of the drug-drug interactions of new chemical entities. The information obtained by this work may be utilised also in the design of clinical drug-drug interaction studies in the future.
  • Ylikallio, Emil (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Defects in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maintenance cause a range of human diseases, including autosomal dominant progressive external ophthalmoplegia (adPEO). This study aimed to clarify the molecular background of adPEO. We discovered that deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) metabolism plays a crucial in mtDNA maintenance and were thus prompted to search for therapeutic strategies based on the modulation of cellular dNTP pools or mtDNA copy number. Human mtDNA is a 16.6 kb circular molecule present in hundreds to thousands of copies per cell. mtDNA is compacted into nucleoprotein clusters called nucleoids. mtDNA maintenance diseases result from defects in nuclear encoded proteins that maintain the mtDNA. These syndromes typically afflict highly differentiated, post-mitotic tissues such as muscle and nerve, but virtually any organ can be affected. adPEO is a disease where mtDNA molecules with large-scale deletions accumulate in patients tissues, particularly in skeletal muscle. Mutations in five nuclear genes, encoding the proteins ANT1, Twinkle, POLG, POLG2 and OPA1, have previously been shown to cause adPEO. Here, we studied a large North American pedigree with adPEO, and identified a novel heterozygous mutation in the gene RRM2B, which encodes the p53R2 subunit of the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). RNR is the rate-limiting enzyme in dNTP biosynthesis, and is required both for nuclear and mitochondrial DNA replication. The mutation results in the expression of a truncated form of p53R2, which is likely to compete with the wild-type allele. A change in enzyme function leads to defective mtDNA replication due to altered dNTP pools. Therefore, RRM2B is a novel adPEO disease gene. The importance of adequate dNTP pools and RNR function for mtDNA maintenance has been established in many organisms. In yeast, induction of RNR has previously been shown to increase mtDNA copy number, and to rescue the phenotype caused by mutations in the yeast mtDNA polymerase. To further study the role of RNR in mammalian mtDNA maintenance, we used mice that broadly overexpress the RNR subunits Rrm1, Rrm2 or p53R2. Active RNR is a heterotetramer consisting of two large subunits (Rrm1) and two small subunits (either Rrm2 or p53R2). We also created bitransgenic mice that overexpress Rrm1 together with either Rrm2 or p53R2. In contrast to the previous findings in yeast, bitransgenic RNR overexpression led to mtDNA depletion in mouse skeletal muscle, without mtDNA deletions or point mutations. The mtDNA depletion was associated with imbalanced dNTP pools. Furthermore, the mRNA expression levels of Rrm1 and p53R2 were found to correlate with mtDNA copy number in two independent mouse models, suggesting nuclear-mitochondrial cross talk with regard to mtDNA copy number. We conclude that tight regulation of RNR is needed to prevent harmful alterations in the dNTP pool balance, which can lead to disordered mtDNA maintenance. Increasing the copy number of wild-type mtDNA has been suggested as a strategy for treating PEO and other mitochondrial diseases. Only two proteins are known to cause a robust increase in mtDNA copy number when overexpressed in mice; the mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM), and the mitochondrial replicative helicase Twinkle. We studied the mechanisms by which Twinkle and TFAM elevate mtDNA levels, and showed that Twinkle specifically implements mtDNA synthesis. Furthermore, both Twinkle and TFAM were found to increase mtDNA content per nucleoid. Increased mtDNA content in mouse tissues correlated with an age-related accumulation of mtDNA deletions, depletion of mitochondrial transcripts, and progressive respiratory dysfunction. Simultaneous overexpression of Twinkle and TFAM led to a further increase in the mtDNA content of nucleoids, and aggravated the respiratory deficiency. These results suggested that high mtDNA levels have detrimental long-term effects in mice. These data have to be considered when developing and evaluating treatment strategies for elevating mtDNA copy number.
  • Syväranta, Suvi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Aortic valve stenosis (AVS) is the most common valvular disease in Western countries. Pharmacological prevention of AVS having proved unsuccessful, its current treatment is still valve replacement. The etiology of AVS is multifactorial, both genetic and external risk factors predisposing to the active pathological process eventually leading to clinically manifest stenosis. Histological features of the disease resemble those of atherosclerosis, including the accumulation and modification of lipoproteins, inflammation, extracellular matrix remodeling, and calcification. Furthermore, valvular interstitial cells undergo phenotypic differentiation into actively proliferating myofibroblasts, which contribute to the local inflammatory response as well as extracellular matrix remodeling in stenotic aortic valves. Blood vessels also grow into the normally avascular valve leaflets already in the early stages of the disease. This thesis aimed at elucidating the mechanisms behind the pathological neovascularization of the stenotic aortic valves. Furthermore, we characterized valvular lymphangiogenesis and investigated potential factors contributing to the balance between valvular angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, focusing on the role of valvular myofibroblasts and mast cells. For this purpose, we studied a total of 117 stenotic valves obtained at valve replacement surgery, and 49 control valves obtained at cardiac transplantations, at valve replacement surgery due to aortic valve regurgitation, or from deceased organ donors whose hearts were unsuitable for use as grafts. The valve leaflets were either used freshly for myofibroblast cell culture or frozen for e.g. PCR and immunohistochemical analyses. First, we assessed the adverse extracellular matrix remodeling of stenotic aortic valves, a process necessary for angiogenic sprouting to occur. We found that the mRNA expression levels of cathepsins S, K, and V, and their inhibitor cystatin C were higher in stenotic aortic valves than in control valves. Furthermore, the total activity of such cathepsins was increased in AVS. In immunohistochemical stainings, the expressions of cathepsin S, cathepsin V, and cystatin C localized to valvular macrophages, chondroblast-like cells, and endothelial cells lining both the valvular surface and the neovessels in the stenotic valves. Next, we characterized the neovessels and lymphatic vessels in stenotic aortic valves and control valves using immunohistochemistry. We found that in addition to immature microvessels, the stenotic aortic valves contained organized arterioles, indicating an advanced stage of angiogenesis. Lymphatic vessels correlated with valvular blood vessels, but were present in much fewer numbers. Valvular mast cells resided close to neovessels and secreted the angiogenic Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). Furthermore, we showed that the lymphangiogenic growth factors VEGF-C and VEGF-D are locally produced in the aortic valves, and that the receptors for all these VEGFs, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3, are upregulated in AVS. We also identified several factors that induce VEGF-A secretion in cultured valvular myofibroblasts. These include mast cell-derived components, the inflammatory cytokine TNF-α, hypoxia, and cigarette smoke. Myofibroblasts were also able to promote VEGF-A secretion by cultured human mast cells, suggesting potential angiogenic interplay between these two valvular cell types. Interestingly, mast cell-derived proteases also efficiently degraded the lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-C. Thus, by secreting VEGF-A, by urging myofibroblasts to produce VEGF-A, and by releasing VEGF-C-degrading proteases, mast cells may strongly influence the observed imbalance between valvular blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. Finally, we investigated the potential effects of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) on valvular angiogenesis. We found that oxLDL induces the expression of several inflammatory cytokines in cultured myofibroblasts. Moreover, we identified oxLDL-binding scavenger receptors to be locally expressed in the aortic valves. The mRNA expression levels of scavenger receptor class A type 1 (SR-A1) and Lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor-1 (LOX-1) were increased in AVS, whereas CD36 was downregulated in stenotic valves. Furthermore, the expression of LOX-1 in cultured valvular myofibroblasts increased in response to mast cell-derived components and TNF-α. The observed changes in valvular scavenger receptor expression particularly favor inflammation and angiogenesis. In conclusion, several angiogenic factors were found to be activated in stenotic aortic valves. Furthermore, valvular mast cells and myofibroblasts were identified as potential players promoting valvular angiogenesis and contributing to the pathological imbalance between valvular angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. This imbalance, in turn, could facilitate the harmful infiltration of inflammatory cells and lipoproteins into the stenotic aortic valves and ultimately contribute to the progression of the disease.
  • Siikala, Emilia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED, APS1) is an autoimmune disease caused by a loss-of function mutation in the autoregulator gene (AIRE). Patients with APECED suffer from chronic mucocutaneous candidosis (CMC) of the oral cavity and oesophagus often since early childhood. The patients are mainly colonized with Candida albicans and decades of exposure to antifungal agents have lead to the development of clinical and microbiological resistance in the treatment of CMC in the APECED patient population in Finland. A high incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma is associated with oral CMC lesions in the APECED patients over the age of 25. The overall aim of this study was firstly, to investigate the effect of long-term azole exposure on the metabolism of oral C. albicans isolates from APECED patients with CMC and secondly, to analyse the specific molecular mechanisms that are responsible for these changes. The aim of the first study was to examine C. albicans strains from APECED patients and the level of cross-resistance to miconazole, the recommended topical compound for the treatment of oral candidosis. A total of 16% of the strains had decreased susceptibility to miconazole and all of these isolates had decreased susceptibility to fluconazole. Miconazole MICs also correlated with MICs to voriconazole and posaconazole. A significant positive correlation between the years of miconazole exposure and the MICs to azole antifungal agents was also found. These included azoles the patients had not been exposed to. The aim of our second study was to determine if the APECED patients are continuously colonized with the same C. albicans strains despite extensive antifungal treatment and to gain a deeper insight into the genetic changes leading to azole resistance. The strains were typed using MLST and our results confirmed that all patients were persistently colonized with the same or a genetically related strain despite antifungal treatment between isolations. No epidemic strains were found. mRNA expression was analysed by Northern blotting, protein level by western blotting, and TAC1 and ERG11 genes were sequenced. The main molecular mechanisms resulting in azole resistance were gain-of-function mutations in TAC1 leading to over expression of CDR1 and CDR2, genes linked to azole resistance. Several strains had also developed point mutations in ERG11, another gene linked to azole resistance. In the third study we used gas chromatography to test whether the level of carcinogenic acetaldehyde produced by C. albicans strains isolated from APECED patients were different from the levels produced by strains isolated from healthy controls and oral carcinoma patients. Acetaldehyde is a carcinogenic product of alcohol fermentation and metabolism in microbes associated with cancers of the upper digestive tract. In yeast, acetaldehyde is a by-product of the pyruvate bypass that converts pyruvate into acetyl-CoA during fermentation. Our results showed that strains isolated from APECED patients produced mutagenic levels of acetaldehyde in the presence of glucose (100mM, 18g/l) and the levels produced were significantly higher than those from strains isolated from controls and oral carcinoma patients. All strains in the study, however, were found to produce mutagenic levels of acetaldehyde in the presence of ethanol (11mM). The glucose and ethanol levels used in this study are equivalent to those found in food and beverages and our results highlight the role of dietary sugars and ethanol on carcinogenesis. The aims of our fourth study were to research the effect of growth conditions in the levels of acetaldehyde produced by C. albicans and to gain deeper insight into the role of different genes in the pyruvate-bypass in the production of high acetaldehyde levels. Acetaldehyde production in the presence of glucose increased by 17-fold under moderately hypoxic conditions compared to the levels produced under normoxic conditions. Under moderately hypoxic conditions acetaldehyde levels did not correlate with the expression of ADH1 and ADH2, genes catalyzing the oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde, or PDC11, the gene catalyzing the oxidation of pyruvate to acetaldehyde but correlated with the expression of down-stream genes ALD6 and ACS1. Our results highlight a problem where indiscriminate use of azoles may influence azole susceptibility and lead to the development of cross-resistance. Despite clinically successful treatment leading to relief of symptoms, colonization by C. albicans strains is persistent within APECED patients. Microevolution and point mutations that occur in strains may lead to the development of azole-resistant isolates and metabolic changes leading to increased production of carcinogenic acetaldehyde.
  • Eklund, Anne (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Mediastinitis as a complication after cardiac surgery is rare but disastrous increasing the hospital stay, hospital costs, morbidity and mortality. It occurs in 1-3 % of patients after median sternotomy. The purpose of this study was to find out the risk factors and also to investigate new ways to prevent mediastinitis. First, we assessed operating room air contamination monitoring by comparing the bacteriological technique with continuous particle counting in low level contamination achieved by ultra clean garment options in 66 coronary artery bypass grafting operations. Second, we examined surgical glove perforations and the changes in bacterial flora of surgeons' fingertips in 116 open-heart operations. Third, the effect of gentamicin-collagen sponge on preventing surgical site infections (SSI) was studied in randomized controlled study with 557 participants. Finally, incidence, outcome, and risk factors of mediastinitis were studied in over 10,000 patients. With the alternative garment and textile system (cotton group and clean air suit group), the air counts fell from 25 to 7 colony-forming units/m3 (P<0.01). The contamination of the sternal wound was reduced by 46% and that of the leg wound by >90%. In only 17% operations both gloves were found unpunctured. Frequency of glove perforations and bacteria counts of hands were found to increase with operation time. With local gentamicin prophylaxis slightly less SSIs (4.0 vs. 5.9%) and mediastinitis (1.1 vs. 1.9%) occurred. We identified 120/10713 cases of postoperative mediastinitis (1.1%). During the study period, the patient population grew significantly older, the proportion of women and patients with ASA score >3 increased significantly. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, the only significant predictor for mediastinitis was obesity. Continuous particle monitoring is a good intraoperative method to control the air contamination related to the theatre staff behavior during individual operation. When a glove puncture is detected, both gloves are to be changed. Before donning a new pair of gloves, the renewed disinfection of hands will help to keep their bacterial counts lower even towards the end of long operation. Gentamicin-collagen sponge may have beneficial effects on the prevention of SSI, but further research is needed. Mediastinitis is not diminishing. Larger populations at risk, for example proportions of overweight patients, reinforce the importance of surveillance and pose a challenge in focusing preventive measures.
  • Mäkinen, Netta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Uterine leiomyomas, or fibroids, are benign tumors arising from the smooth muscle lining of the uterus, the myometrium. Although they represent one of the most common neoplasms in women with an estimated prevalence of 20-40% during the reproductive years, the molecular mechanisms underlying their tumorigenesis have remained relatively unknown. The aim of this thesis was to elucidate the molecular genetic characteristics of uterine leiomyomas using next-generation sequencing technology. Exome sequencing of 18 uterine leiomyomas and the respective normal myometrium from 17 Finnish (Caucasian) patients led to the identification of recurrent somatic mutations in mediator complex subunit 12 (MED12) gene. This, and further Sanger sequencing of 207 additional leiomyomas revealed that a remarkable 70% (159/225) of the tumors harbor MED12 mutations. MED12 is a component of the Mediator complex, which participates in the regulation of global as well as gene-specific transcription. All the observed mutations resided in exon 2 or the intron 1-exon 2 junction, an evolutionarily conserved region of the gene, suggesting that malfunction of the region contributes to tumorigenesis. This was the first time MED12 mutations have been implicated in human tumorigenesis. To validate the finding and determine the frequency of MED12 exon 2 mutations in another ethnic group, a series of 28 uterine leiomyomas from 18 South African patients underwent Sanger sequencing for the mutations. Altogether 50% (14/28) of the tumors displayed a mutation, indicating that MED12 mutations occur frequently also in uterine leiomyomas of South African women. Overall, the result confirms the role of these mutations in the growth and development of leiomyomas regardless of ethnicity. Original identification of MED12 exon 2 mutations took place in a series of histopathologically conventional uterine leiomyomas which account for approximately 90% of the tumors. To assess the frequency of MED12 mutations in rarer clinical leiomyoma subtypes, 103 histopathological uterine leiomyoma variants, as well as 34 uterine leiomyomas from 14 patients with hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC) syndrome, a disease caused by heterozygous germline mutations in fumarate hydratase (FH) gene, entered the study. Both the histopathological leiomyoma variants (17%; 18/103) and leiomyomas from HLRCC-patients (9%; 3/34) harbored MED12 mutations significantly less frequently than conventional leiomyomas (P less than 0.001), proposing that MED12 mutation positivity is a key characteristic of conventional leiomyomas. Of note, none of the MED12 mutation-positive tumors from HLRCC-patients displayed biallelic FH inactivation, a well-known attribute of tumors in HLRCC, suggesting that MED12 mutations and biallelic FH inactivation may be mutually exclusive. Exome sequencing of 27 uterine leiomyomas (12 MED12 mutation-negative and 15 MED12 mutation-positive) and their corresponding normal myometrium revealed no additional recurrent somatic mutations in either MED12 mutation-negative or -positive tumors. The result emphasizes the significance of MED12 mutations for the tumorigenesis of uterine leiomyomas. Alterations undetectable by exome sequencing, such as structural rearrangements, intronic variants, and epigenetic events, probably have an impact to the development of MED12 mutation-negative lesions. The discovery of MED12 mutations is a giant step forward in understanding the pathogenesis of uterine leiomyomas, hopefully leading to improved diagnosis, personalized medical treatments, and prognosis in the future.
  • Söderlund, Tim (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Tatti, Olga (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Tumor microenvironment comprised of extracellular matrix (ECM) and non-malignant cells has profound effects on cancer progression. Membrane-type matrix metalloproteinases (MT-MMPs) are involved in the modulation of tumor microenvironment. MT1-MMP is a prototype of MT-MMP family, which is overexpressed in many types of cancer, where it promotes tumor cell invasion through collagen-rich tissues. The biological functions of another member of the MT-MMP family, MT3-MMP, have remained largely unknown. MT3-MMP is expressed in the adult brain, as well as brain tumors and nodular melanoma. The purpose of this thesis was to elucidate the functions of MT1-MMP and MT3-MMP in melanoma cell invasion. To understand the pericellular growth regulation, we searched for endogenous enzymes which could release latent TGF-β from endothelial cell extracellular matrix. Neovessel formation is a prerequisite for tumor growth. Pericellular modulation of the ECM by MT1-MMP releases matrix-associated growth factors and bioactive peptides, which further affect angiogenesis and tumor cell biology. We found that MT1-MMP modulated subendothelial extracellular matrix, and cleaved latent TGF-β binding protein-1 (LTPB-1), with subsequent release of latent TGF-β complexes from the ECM. Thus, MT1-MMP-mediated LTBP-1 cleavage provides a mechanism for the tightly controlled release of matrix-associated TGF-β at the sites of neovessel formation. To elucidate the functions of MT-MMPs in melanoma cell invasion, we analyzed the expression of MT1-MMP and MT3-MMP from biopsies of normal human skin, benign nevi, and melanoma metastases. MT3-MMP was upregulated in lymph node metastases of human melanoma, while MT1-MMP expression was comparable in all biopsies. By culturing melanoma cells in 3D collagen and fibrin matrices, we found that MT3-MMP was associated with expansive melanoma growth in 3D collagen, but promoted their sprouting growth in 3D fibrin. In in vivo xenograft experiments, MT3-MMP expressing melanoma xenografts grew slowly, while MT3-MMP silencing enhanced tumor growth rate by over twofold. Interestingly, high MT3-MMP expression in murine xenografts and a human melanoma tumor was associated with prominent lymphatic vessel invasion but negligible blood vessel invasion of melanoma cells. Silencing of MT3-MMP reduced lymphatic invasion but facilitated blood vessel invasion of melanoma cells over ~10-fold. MT3-MMP reduced cell surface MT1-MMP in vitro and in vivo, resulting in limited collagen invasion in vitro and collagen accumulation in vivo. This suggested that low collagenolytic ability of MT3-MMP-expressing melanoma cells resulted in decreased blood vascular invasion. These cells invaded instead into more permissive lymphatic vessels. Since lymphatic vessel invasion is associated with metastatic spread in melanoma, MT3-MMP expression may serve as a new prognostic factor in this disease.