Atherosclerosis can result in severe outcomes, including heart attack and stroke. The presence of atherosclerotic plaques is one of the first signs of disease; however, there is currently no accurate way to predict which patients are at the highest risk of adverse cardiovascular events. In this episode, Manuel Mayr and colleagues use a proteomic approach to compare extracellular matrix proteins in lesions from asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. Their work identifies a 4-biomarker signature that has potential to improve risk prediction and management of heart disease.
Immune-mediated rejection of donor tissues is one of the largest challenges in transplant biology. While routine biopsy to monitor transplanted organs can be informative, this procedure is invasive and carries several risks. In this episode, Prashanth Vallabhajosyula and colleagues evaluated changes in transplant-derived exosomes in murine models and human transplant recipients. Their work indicates that changes in donor-derived exosomes can be used to noninvasively monitor transplant rejection.
Obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases have known underlying genetic causes; however, environmental factors also play an important role in the onset and development of metabolic dysfunction. In this episode, Mitchell Lazar and Raymond Soccio discuss their study, which compared high fat-diet-induced effects on gene expression and the epigenome in mice genetically prone to diet-induced obesity and in animals that are resistant to diet-induced metabolic disease. They find that the thermogenic gene Ucp1 is repressed in the obesity-prone mice, but that either cold-exposure or treatment with the insulin-sensitizing drug rosiglitazone restores Ucp1 expression to levels similar to that in obesity-resistant strains. The results of this study demonstrate that genetic defects in metabolism can be rescued by environmentally-driven epigenomic modifications.
Eric Olson’s pivotal research in the field of molecular biology has uncovered the mechanisms that control cardiac and skeletal muscle development. His current work focuses on finding new treatments for muscular dystrophies, potential regenerative approaches for cardiac and skeletal muscle, and the role of epigenetic mechanisms as regulators of muscle development. Dr. Olson currently holds the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and is himself a talented musician. This month, in a conversation with JCI Editor at Large Ushma Neill, he discusses how creativity and a love of discovery have driven his career in science and what it was like to meet Willie Nelson.
PET allows noninvasive visualization of several physiological, neurochemical, and pharmacological processes within patients. Application of PET in the brain has been limited due to a lack of radiotracers that label specific neurons or regions. In this episode, Jacob Hooker, Mark Alberts, and Genevieve C. Van de Bittner describe the discovery and characterization of [11C]GV1-57 (Neuroflux), which specifically labels mature olfactory sensory neurons in the olfactory epithelium. This radiotracer has potential as a powerful tool for monitoring olfactory neurogenesis under both normal and disease states.