Invited Talk: Osteoarthritis: diagnosis, treatment and challenges @ Acharya Hall
Aug 12 @ 11:42 am – 12:07 pm

hideakiHideaki Nagase, Ph.D.
Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology-Centre for Degenerative Diseases, University of Oxford, UK

Osteoarthritis: diagnosis, treatment and challenges

Hideaki Nagase1, Ngee Han Lim1, George Bou-Gharios1, Ernst Meinjohanns2  and Morten Meldal3

  1. Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, London, W6 8LH  UK
  2. Carlsberg Laboratory, Copenhagen, Denmark,
  3. Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent age-related degenerative joint disease. With the expanding ageing population, it imposes a major socio-economic burden on society.  A key feature of OA is a gradual loss of articular cartilage and deformation of bone, resulting in the impairment of joint function. Currently, there is no effective disease-modifying treatment except joint replacement surgery. There are many possible causes of cartilage loss (e.g. mechanical load, injury, reactive oxygen species, aging, etc.) and etiological factors (obesity, genetics), but the degradation of cartilage is primarily caused by elevated levels of active metalloproteinases.  It is therefore attractive to consider proteinase inhibitors as potential therapeutics. However, there are several hurdles to overcome, namely early diagnosis and continuous monitoring of the efficacy of inhibitor therapeutics. We are therefore aiming at developing non-invasive probes to detect cartilage degrading metalloproteinase activities.

We have designed in vivo imaging probes to detect MMP-13 (collagenase 3) activity that participates in OA by degrade cartilage collagen II and MMP-12 (macrophage elastase) activity involved in inflammatory arthritis. These activity-based probes consist of a peptide that is selectively cleaved by the target proteinase, a near-infrared fluorophore and a quencher. The probe’s signal multiplies upon proteolysis.  They were first used to follow the respective enzyme activity in vivo in the mouse model of collagen-induced arthritis and we found MMP-12 activity probe (MMP12AP) activation peaked at 5 days after onset of the disease, whereas MMP13AP activation was observed at 10-15 days. The in vivo activation of these probes was inhibited by specific low molecule inhibitors.  We proceeded to test both probes in the mouse model of OA induced by the surgical destabilization of medial meniscus of the knee joints.  In this model, degradation of knee cartilage is first detected histologically 6 weeks after surgery with significant erosion detectable at 8 weeks. Little activation of MMP12AP was detected, which was expected, as macrophage migration is not obvious in OA. MMP13AP, on the other hand, was significantly activated in the operated knee at 6 weeks compared with the non-operated contralateral knee, but there were no significant differences between the operated and sham-operated knees.  At 8 weeks, however, the signals in the operated knees were significantly higher than both the contralateral and sham-operated controls. Activation of aggrecanases and MMP-13 are observed before structural changes of cartilage. We are therefore currently improving the MMP-13 probe for earlier detection by attaching it to polymers that are retained in  cartilage.


Invited Talk: The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis @ Acharya Hall
Aug 13 @ 2:33 pm – 2:50 pm

andreyAndrey Panteleyev, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, NBICS Centre-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia

The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis

Regulation of normal skin functions as well as etiology of many skin diseases are both tightly linked to the environmental impact. Nevertheless, molecular aspects of skin-environment communication and mechanisms coordinating skin response to a plurality of environmental stressors remain poorly understood.

Our studies along with the work of other groups have identified the family of PAS dimeric transcription factors as an essential sensory and regulatory component of communication between skin and the environment. This protein family comprises a number of hypoxia-induced factors (HIF-alpha proteins), aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT), and several proteins implicated in control of rhythmic processes (Clock, Period, and Bmal proteins). Together, various PAS proteins (and first of all ARNT – as the central dimerization partner in the family) control such pivotal aspects of cell physiology as drug/xenobiotic metabolism, hypoxic and UV light response, ROS activity, pathogen defense, overall energy balance and breathing pathways.

In his presentation Dr. Panteleyev will focus on the role of ARNT activity and local hypoxia in control of keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. His recent work revealed that ARNT negatively regulates expression of late differentiation genes through modulation of amphiregulin expression and downstream alterations in activity of EGFR pathway. All these effects are highly dependent on epigenetic mechanisms such as histone deacetylation. Characterisation of hypoxia as a key microenvironmental factor in the skin and the role of HIF pathway in control of dermal vasculature and epidermal functions is another major focus of Dr. Panteleyev’s presentation.

In general, the studies of Dr. Panteleyev’s laboratory provide an insight into the PAS-dependent maintenance of skin homeostasis and point to the potential role of these proteins in pathogenesis of environmentally-modulated skin diseases such as barrier defects, desquamation abnormalities, psoriasis, etc.