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Adult human periodontal ligament-derived stem cells delay retinal degeneration and maintain retinal function in RCS rats.

Retinal degeneration (RD) is a leading cause of irreversible blindness, affecting millions of people worldwide. Stem cell transplantation has been considered a promising therapy for retinal degenerative diseases. This study aimed to investigate the therapeutic potential of human periodontal ligament-derived stem cells (hPDLSCs) for intervention in the progress of this degeneration in the Royal College Surgeons (RCS) rat.

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Small molecule inhibitor regorafenib inhibits RET signaling in neuroblastoma cells and effectively suppresses tumor growth in vivo.

Neuroblastoma (NB), the most common extracranial pediatric solid tumor, continues to cause significant cancer-related morbidity and mortality in children. Dysregulation of oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) has been shown to contribute to tumorigenesis in various human cancers and targeting these RTKs has had therapeutic benefit. RET is an RTK which is commonly expressed in NB, and high expression of RET correlates with poor outcomes in patients with NB. Herein we report that RET is required for NB cell proliferation and that the small molecule inhibitor regorafenib (BAY 73-4506) blocks glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF)-induced RET signaling in NB cells and inhibits NB growth both in vitro and in vivo. We found that regorafenib significantly inhibited cell proliferation and colony formation ability of NB cells. Moreover, regorafenib suppressed tumor growth in both an orthotopic xenograft NB mouse model and a TH-MYCN transgenic NB mouse model. Finally, regorafenib markedly improved the overall survival of TH-MYCN transgenic tumor-bearing mice. In summary, our study suggests that RET is a potential therapeutic target in NB, and that using a novel RET inhibitor, like regorafenib, should be investigated as a therapeutic treatment option for children with NB.

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MiRNAs Mediate GDNF-Induced Proliferation and Migration of Glioma Cells.

Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is an important factor promoting invasive glioma growth. This study was performed to reveal a unique mechanism of glioma cell proliferation and migration.

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Caspase-independent programmed cell death triggers Ca2PO4 deposition in an in vitro model of nephrocalcinosis.

Nephrocalcinosis involves the deposition of microscopic crystals in the tubular lumen or interstitium. While the clinical, biochemical, and genetic aspects of the diseases causing nephrocalcinosis have been elucidated, little is known about the cellular events in this calcification process. We previously reported a phenomenon involving the spontaneous formation of Ca2PO4 nodules in primary papillary renal cells from a patient with medullary nephrocalcinosis harboring a rare glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) gene variant. We also demonstrated that cultivating GDNF-silenced human kidney-2 (HK-2) cells in osteogenic conditions for 15 days triggered Ca2PO4 deposits. Given the reportedly close relationship between cell death and pathological calcification, aim of the present study was to investigate whether apoptosis is involved in the calcification of GDNF-silenced HK-2 cells under osteogenic conditions. Silenced and control cells were cultured in standard and osteogenic medium for 1, 5, and 15 days, and any Ca2PO4 deposition was identified by means of von Kossa staining and environmental SEM (ESEM) analyses. Based on the results of annexin V and propidium iodide (PI) analysis, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay, the silenced cells in the osteogenic medium showed a significant increase in the percentage of cells in the late phase of apoptosis and an increased Ca2PO4 deposition at 15 days. The results of quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) of BAX and BCL2, and in-cell Western analysis of caspases indicated that the cell death process was independent of caspase-3, -6, -7, and -9 activation, however. Using this model, we provide evidence of caspase-independent cell death triggering the calcification process in GDNF-silenced HK-2 cells.

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Involvement of the bone morphogenic protein/SMAD signaling pathway in the etiology of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract accompanied by cryptorchidism.

Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT), such as renal dysplasia, hydronephrosis, or vesicoureteral reflux, are the most common causes of end-stage renal disease. However, the genetic etiology of CAKUT remains unclear. In this study, we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) to elucidate the genetic etiology of symptomatic CAKUT and CAKUT accompanied by cryptorchidism.

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Spinal Cord Molecular and Cellular Changes Induced by Adenoviral Vector- and Cell-Mediated Triple Gene Therapy after Severe Contusion.

The gene therapy has been successful in treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI) in several animal models, although it still remains unavailable for clinical practice. Surprisingly, regardless the fact that multiple reports showed motor recovery with gene therapy, little is known about molecular and cellular changes in the post-traumatic spinal cord following viral vector- or cell-mediated gene therapy. In this study we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy and changes in spinal cord after treatment with the genes encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), angiogenin (ANG), and neuronal cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) applied using both approaches. Therapeutic genes were used for viral vector- and cell-mediated gene therapy in two combinations: (1) VEGF+GDNF+NCAM and (2) VEGF+ANG+NCAM. For direct gene therapy adenoviral vectors based on serotype 5 (Ad5) were injected intrathecally and for cell-mediated gene delivery human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (UCB-MC) were simultaneously transduced with three Ad5 vectors and injected intrathecally 4 h after the SCI. The efficacy of both treatments was confirmed by improvement in behavioral (BBB) test. Molecular and cellular changes following post-traumatic recovery were evaluated with immunofluorescent staining using antibodies against the functional markers of motorneurons (Hsp27, synaptophysin, PSD95), astrocytes (GFAP, vimentin), oligodendrocytes (Olig2, NG2, Cx47) and microglial cells (Iba1). Our results suggest that both approaches with intrathecal delivery of therapeutic genes may support functional recovery of post-traumatic spinal cord via lowering the stress (down regulation of Hsp25) and enhancing the synaptic plasticity (up regulation of PSD95 and synaptophysin), supporting oligodendrocyte proliferation (up regulation of NG2) and myelination (up regulation of Olig2 and Cx47), modulating astrogliosis by reducing number of astrocytes (down regulation of GFAP and vimetin) and microglial cells (down regulation of Iba1).

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Identification of proteins associated with clinical and pathological features of proliferative diabetic retinopathy in vitreous and fibrovascular membranes.

To identify the protein profiles in vitreous associated with retinal fibrosis, angiogenesis, and neurite formation in epiretinal fibrovascular membranes (FVMs) in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

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Downregulation of microRNA-483-5p Promotes Cell Proliferation and Invasion by Targeting GFRA4 in Hirschsprung's Disease.

Recent studies have suggested the critical roles of miRNAs for disease progression. miRNA-483-5p (miR-483-5p) was previously found to have a relationship with tumor cell behavior, but its biological function in Hirschsprung's disease (HSCR) remains undefined. Thus, we explored the role of miR-483-5p in the pathogenesis of HSCR. Histological changes of colonic tissues were evaluated by hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining. Quantitative real-time PCR and western blotting were used to determine relative expression levels of miRNA, mRNA, and proteins in 20 HSCR patients and 20 normal colon tissues. In this study, we found that miR-483-5p expression in HSCR tissues was significantly increased and their downregulation promoted cell proliferation, cell cycle progression and invasion and inhibited cell apoptosis in human 293T and SH-SY5Y cell lines by the CCK-8, flow cytometry, and Transwell assay. GNDF family receptor alpha 4 (GFRA4) was confirmed as a downstream target of miR-483-5p by dual-luciferase reporter gene assay and inversely correlated with miR-483-5p expression in cell lines. Taken together, miR-483-5p may play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of HSCR by targeting GFRA4.

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Neuropilin-1 is a glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor receptor in glioblastoma.

The aim of this study was to identify the receptor for glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). After GST pull-down assays, membrane proteins purified from C6 rat glioma cells were subjected to liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The differentially expressed proteins were annotated using Gene Ontology, and neuropilin-1 (NRP1) was identified as the putative GDNF receptor in glioma. NRP1 was more highly expressed in human GBM brains and C6 rat glioma cells than in normal human brains or primary rat astrocytes. Immunofluorescence staining showed that NRP1 was recruited to the membrane by GDNF, and NRP1 co-immunoprecipitated with GDNF. Using the NRP1 and GDNF protein structures to assess molecular docking in the ZDOCK server and visualization with the PyMOL Molecular Graphics System revealed 8 H-bonds and stable positive and negative electrostatic interactions between NRP1 and GDNF. RNAi knockdown of NRP1 reduced proliferation of C6 glioma cells when stimulated with GDNF. NRP1 was an independent risk factor for both survival and recurrence in GBM patients. High NRP1 mRNA expression correlated with shorter OS and DFS (OS: χ2=4.6720, P=0.0307; DFS: χ2=11.013, P=0.0009). NRP1 is thus a GDNF receptor in glioma cells and a potential therapeutic target.

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Assessment of Neurotrophins and Inflammatory Mediators in Vitreous of Patients With Diabetic Retinopathy.

To assess vitreous levels of inflammatory cytokines and neurotrophins (NTs) in diabetic retinopathy (DR) and elucidate their potential roles.

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