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See detailPersistent infection of thymic epithelial cells with coxsackievirus B4 results in a decreased expression of insulin-like growth factor 2
Jaïdane, Hela; Caloone, Delphine; Lobert, Pierre-Emmanuel et al

in Journal of Virology (2012), 86

It has been hypothesized that a disturbance of central self-tolerance to islet β-cell may play a role in the enteroviral pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Whether enteroviruses can induce an impaired ... [more ▼]

It has been hypothesized that a disturbance of central self-tolerance to islet β-cell may play a role in the enteroviral pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Whether enteroviruses can induce an impaired expression of β-cell self-antigens in thymic epithelial cells has been investigated in a murine thymic epithelial (MTE) cell line. This cell line was permissive to the diabetogenic strain CV-B4 E2 and spontaneously expressed type 2 insulin-like growth factor (Igf2), the dominant self-antigen of the insulin family. In this model, a persistent replication of CV-B4 E2 was obtained as attested by the prolonged detection of intracellular positive and negative-strand viral RNA by RT-PCR, and capsid protein VP1 by IF and by the release of infectious particles in culture supernatant fluids. The chronic stage of the infection was characterized by a low proportion of VP1-positive cells (1-2%) whereas many cells harbored enteroviral RNA as displayed by RT-PCR without extraction applied directly on a few cells. Igf2 mRNA and IGF-2 protein were dramatically decreased in CV-B4 E2-infected MTE cultures compared with mock-infected cultures, whereas housekeeping and Il6 genes expression were maintained and Igf1 mRNA was decreased but at a lower extent. Inoculation of CV-B3-, CV-B4 JVB- or Echovirus 1 resulted in a low level of IGF-2 in culture supernatant fluids as well, whereas HSV-1 stimulated the production of the protein. Thus, a persistent infection of a thymic epithelial cell line with enteroviruses, like CV-B4 E2 can result in a disturbed production of IGF-2, a protein involved in central self-tolerance towards islet β-cells. [less ▲]

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See detailManagement of inflammatory bowel disease in pregnancy.
Vermeire, Séverine; Carbonnel, Franck; Coulie, Pierre et al

in Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis [=JCC] (2012), 6(8), 811-23

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disease affecting mainly young people in their reproductive years. IBD therefore has a major impact on patients' family planning ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disease affecting mainly young people in their reproductive years. IBD therefore has a major impact on patients' family planning decisions. Management of IBD in pregnancy requires a challenging balance between optimal disease control and drug safety considerations. This article aims to provide a framework for clinical decision making in IBD based on review of the literature on pregnancy-related topics. METHODS: Medline searches with search terms 'IBD', 'Crohn's disease' or 'ulcerative colitis' in combination with keywords for the topics fertility, pregnancy, congenital abnormalities and drugs names of drugs used for treatment of IBD. RESULTS: IBD patients have normal fertility, except for women after ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) and men under sulfasalazine treatment. Achieving and maintaining disease remission is a key factor for successful pregnancy outcomes in this population, as active disease at conception carries an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. Clinicians should discuss the need for drug therapy to maintain remission with their patients in order to ensure therapy compliance. Most IBD drugs are compatible with pregnancy, except for methotrexate and thalidomide. If possible, anti-TNF therapy should be stopped by the end of the second trimester and the choice of delivery route should be discussed with the patient. CONCLUSIONS: Disease control prior to conception and throughout pregnancy is the cornerstone of successful pregnancy management in IBD patients. [less ▲]

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See detailExpression of growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis during Balb/c ontogeny and effects of GH upon ex-vivo T-cell differentiation
Kermani, Hamid; Goffinet, Lindsay ULg; Mottet, Marie ULg et al

in Neuroimmunomodulation (2012), 19

Aims: We here address the question of expression and role of GH/IGF axis in the thymus. Methods: Using RT-qPCR, the expression profile of various components of the somatotrope GH/IGF axis was measured in ... [more ▼]

Aims: We here address the question of expression and role of GH/IGF axis in the thymus. Methods: Using RT-qPCR, the expression profile of various components of the somatotrope GH/IGF axis was measured in different thymic cell types and during thymus embryogenesis in Balb/c mice. Effect of GH on T-cell differentiation was explored through thymic organotypic culture. Results: Transcription of Gh, Igf1, Igf2 and their related receptors predominantly occurred in thymic epithelial cells (TEC), while a low level of Gh and Igf1r transcription was also evidenced in thymic T cells (thymocytes). Gh, Ghr, Ins2, Igf1, Igf2, and Igfr1, displayed distinct expression profiles depending on the developmental stage. The protein concentration of IGF-1 and IGF-2 were in accordance with the profile of their gene expression. In fetal thymus organ cultures (FTOC) derived from Balb/c mice, treatment with exogenous GH resulted in a significant increase of double negative CD4-CD8- T cells and CD4+ T cells, together with a decrease in double positive CD4+CD8+ T cells. These changes were inhibited by concomitant treatment with GH and GHR antagonist pegvisomant. However, GH treatment also induced a significant decrease in FTOC Gh, Ghr and Igf1 expression. Conclusion: These data show that the thymotropic properties of the somatotrope GH/IGF-1 axis involve an interaction between exogenous GH and GHR expressed by TEC. Since thymic IGF-1 is not increased by GH treatment, the effects of GH upon T-cell differentiation could implicate a different local growth factor or cytokine. [less ▲]

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See detailImmunology in the clinic review series. Focus on type 1 diabetes and virus: enterovirus, thymus and type 1 diabetes pathogenesis
Jaïdane, H.; Sane, F.; Hiar, R. et al

in Clinical & Experimental Immunology (2012), 168

Thymus dysfunction, especially immune suppression, is frequently associated with various virus infections.Whether viruses may disturb the thymus function and play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune ... [more ▼]

Thymus dysfunction, especially immune suppression, is frequently associated with various virus infections.Whether viruses may disturb the thymus function and play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases is an open issue. Enteroviruses, especially Coxsackievirus B4 (CV-B4), have been largely suggested as potential inducers or aggravating factors of type 1 diabetes (T1D) pathogenesis in genetically predisposed individuals. Several pathogenic mechanisms of enterovirus-induced T1D have been suggested. One of these mechanisms is the impairment of central self-tolerance due to viral infections. Coxsackievirus-B4 is able to infect murine thymus in vitro and in vivo and to infect human thymus in vitro. Thymic epithelial cells and thymocytes are targets of infection with this virus, and several abnormalities, especially disturbance of maturation/differentiation processes, were observed.Altogether, these data suggest that CV-B infection of thymus may be involved in the pathogenesis of T1D. Further investigations are needed to explore this hypothesis. [less ▲]

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See detailThe presentation of neuroendocrine self in the thymus: a necessity for an integrated evolution of the immune and neuroendocrine systems.
Geenen, Vincent ULg

in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2012), 1261

During evolution, from ancestor thymoids scattered in gill baskets of the lamprey, the first unique thymus appeared in jawed cartilaginous fishes around 450-500 millions years ago, concomitantly or ... [more ▼]

During evolution, from ancestor thymoids scattered in gill baskets of the lamprey, the first unique thymus appeared in jawed cartilaginous fishes around 450-500 millions years ago, concomitantly or shortly after the emergence of recombinase-dependent adaptive immunity. The major biological function of the thymus is to generate a diverse repertoire of T-cell receptors that are self-tolerant. The thymus achieves this role by using two complementary and intimately associated mechanisms: 1) Apoptotic deletion of T-cell clones bearing a TCR with high affinity for self-antigens presented by MHC proteins on thymic epithelial cells (TECs) and dendritic cells (DCs); and 2) Generation of self-antigen specific natural regulatory T (nTreg) cells. Moreover, the escape from thymic central self-tolerance plays a primary role in the development of autoimmune diseases that are a significant burden for the quality of life and health care cost. Our new knowledge in thymus physiology and physiopathology is currently translated into innovative therapeutic strategies against these devastating chronic diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailThe appearance of the thymus and the integrated evolution of adaptive immune and neuroendocrine systems
Geenen, Vincent ULg

in Acta Clinica Belgica (2012), 67

The immune system may be considered as a sensory organ able to respond to different kinds of danger signals that are not detected by nervous cells. The immune response is not autonomous but also regulated ... [more ▼]

The immune system may be considered as a sensory organ able to respond to different kinds of danger signals that are not detected by nervous cells. The immune response is not autonomous but also regulated by central and peripheral nervous system, as well as by neuropeptides, vitamin D and neuroendocrine axes such as the corticotrope, somatotrope, thyrotrope and gonadotrope axes. During evolution, the thymus emerged concomitantly with recombinase-dependent adaptive immunity as an ‘immune brain’ or a ‘master class’ highly specialized in the orchestration of central immunological self-tolerance. This was an absolute requirement for survival of species because of the high risk of autotoxicity inherent to the stochastic generation of extreme diversity characterizing this novel adaptive type of immune defenses against non-self. The thymus now appears to be an obligatory intersection for the integrated evolution of the major systems of cell-to-cell signaling, the nervous, endocrine and immune systems. The presentation of many self-peptides by thymic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins is controlled by the autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene/protein and is responsible for the clonal deletion of self-reactive T cells. In the same time, by still unexplained mechanisms, MHC presentation of the same self-peptides in the thymus promotes the generation of self-specific FOXP3+ CD4+CD25+ natural regulatory T cells (nTreg) that are able to inhibit in periphery self-reactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cells having escaped the thymus censorship. Moreover, a thymus dysfunction is more and more established as the primary event driving the development of organ-specific autoimmunity, which is the tribute paid, mainly by mankind, for the preservation of self against non-self. Our novel knowledge about thymus physiology and physiopathology already serves as the basis for the development of various innovative and efficient immunomodulating strategies in pharmacology. [less ▲]

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See detailThymus and type 1 diabetes: An update
Geenen, Vincent ULg

in Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice (2012)

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic disease resulting from the selective autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet ß cells. The absence and/or breakdown of immune selftolerance to islet ß cells is now ... [more ▼]

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic disease resulting from the selective autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet ß cells. The absence and/or breakdown of immune selftolerance to islet ß cells is now recognized as the essential cause for the development of the diabetogenic autoimmune response. For a long time, a failure in peripheral tolerogenic mechanisms was regarded as the main source of an inappropriate immune process directed against insulin-secreting ß cells. While defective peripheral self-tolerance still deserves to be further investigated, the demonstration that all members of the insulin gene family are transcribed in thymic epithelial cells (TECs) of different species under the control of the AutoImmune REgulator (AIRE) gene/protein has highlighted the importance of central self-tolerance to insulin-secreting islet b cells. Moreover, there is now evidence that a primary or acquired failure in thymus-dependent central self-tolerance to ß cells plays a primary role in T1D pathogenesis. This novel knowledge is currently translated into the development of innovative tolerogenic/regulatory approaches designed to reprogram the specific immune self-tolerance to islet ß cells. [less ▲]

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See detailAuto-immune gastritis characteristics in a large series of patients with auto-immune thyroiditis.
VALDES SOCIN, Hernan Gonzalo ULg; TOME, M.; LUTTERI, Laurence ULg et al

in XXIVth Belgian Week of Gastroenterology 2012 - Abstract book (2012)

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See detailEditorial
Chentoufi, Aziz Alami; Geenen, Vincent ULg; Giannokakis, Nick et al

in Chentoufi, Aziz Alami; Geenen, Vincent; Giannokakis, Nick (Eds.) et al Type 1 Diabetes Immunological Tolerance and Immunotherapy (2011)

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See detailThyroid and the thymus
Geenen, Vincent ULg

Conference (2011, December 03)

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See detailInvestigations on the mechanisms underlying the thymotropic properties of the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) axis.
Goffinet, Lindsay ULg; Bodart, Gwennaëlle ULg; Renard, Chantal et al

Poster (2011, November 18)

Background. The thymus is responsible for thymopoiesis, i.e. the generation of a diverse and self-tolerant T-cell repertoire including self-antigen specific natural regulatory cells. We have shown that ... [more ▼]

Background. The thymus is responsible for thymopoiesis, i.e. the generation of a diverse and self-tolerant T-cell repertoire including self-antigen specific natural regulatory cells. We have shown that two parameters of thymopoiesis, thymic output of new T cells (estimated by sjTREC frequency) and intrathymic proliferation of T-cell precursors (estimated by sj/Dβ TREC ratio) are severely reduced in adult patients with GH deficiency (AGHD) and are restored by GH injections at physiological doses. In patients with AGHD, there is a very positive correlation between sjTREC frequency and plasma concentrations of IGF-1, the principal mediator of GH action (1). Treatment of HIV+ patients with high pharmacological doses of GH is associated with increased thymic mass and output of circulating naïve and total CD4+ T cells (2). In addition, previous studies have suggested thymic epithelial cells (TEC) and/or thymocytes (thymic T cells) could transcribe the GH gene (3). Objectives and hypothesis. These studies analysed the question of GH transcription and regulation in primary cultures of human (h) TEC. We also investigated the hypothesis that the thymotropic properties of the somatotrope GH/IGF-1 axis could be mediated by thymic interleukin 7 (IL-7), which plays a crucial role in promoting V(D)J recombination at the TCR locus. Results. Primary hTEC cultures were treated with natural secretagogues of pituitary GH, GH releasing hormone (GHRH) and ghrelin. Using sensitive RT-qPCR, we detected neither any transcript of GH or GHV (placental GH variant) in cultured hTEC, nor any transcript of PIT1, the specific transcription factor of pituitary GH. Similarly, the protein GH was detected neither in the cytoplasm nor in the supernatant of cultured hTEC. Only at 1 nM, GH treatment enhanced IGF1 transcription by cultured hTEC. Of high interest, treatment with GH, ghrelin and IGF-1 promoted IL7 transcription by cultured hTEC, but only IGF-1 and epidermal growth factor (EGF) markedly stimulated IL-7 secretion by hTEC in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The specificity of IGF-1 action was demonstrated by its inhibition after treatment with αIR3, a monoclonal antibody against the type 1 IGF receptor. Conclusions and perspectives. Since primary cultures of hTEC neither transcribe nor secrete any significant amount of GH, the thymotropic effects of the GH/IGF-1 axis seem to depend only on systemic endocrine GH. Local thymic IGF-1 could partially mediate GH action within the thymus and act upon thymopoiesis in parallel with systemic IGF-1. Most importantly, thymic IL-7 appears to be an important mediator of the thymotropic properties of the GH/IGF-1 axis. Further knowledge in this domain will be gained with the use and supplementation of Ghrh-/- mice that will be soon available in our laboratory. References 1. Morrhaye G. et al., PLoS ONE 2009, 4:e5668. 2. Napolitano LA et al. J Clin Invest 2008, 118:1085. 3. Smaniotto S et al., Endocrinology 2005, 146:3005. 4. Taub DD, Murphy WJ and Longo DL. Curr Opin Pharmacol 2010, 10:408. (Supported by F.R.S.-FNRS and a Pfizer Independent Research Grant.) [less ▲]

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See detailMechanisms of the anti-obesity effects of oxytocin in diet-induced obese rats
Deblon, Nicolas; Veyrat-Durebex, Christelle; Bourgoin, Lucie et al

in PLoS ONE (2011), 6

Apart from its role during labor and lactation, oxytocin is involved in several other functions. Interestingly, oxytocin- and oxytocin receptor-deficient mice develop late-onset obesity with normal food ... [more ▼]

Apart from its role during labor and lactation, oxytocin is involved in several other functions. Interestingly, oxytocin- and oxytocin receptor-deficient mice develop late-onset obesity with normal food intake, suggesting that the hormone might exert a series of beneficial metabolic effects. This was recently confirmed by data showing that central oxytocin infusion causes weight loss in diet-induced obese mice. The aim of the present study was to unravel the mechanisms underlying such beneficial effects of oxytocin. Chronic central oxytocin infusion was carried out in high fat diet-induced obese rats. Its impact on body weight, lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity was determined. We observed a dose-dependent decrease in body weight gain, increased adipose tissue lipolysis and fatty acid β-oxidation, as well as reduced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. The additional observation that plasma oxytocin levels increased upon central infusion suggested that the hormone might affect adipose tissue metabolism by direct action. This was demonstrated using in vitro, ex vivo, as well as in vivo experiments. With regard to its mechanism of action in adipose tissue, oxytocin increased the expression of stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase 1, as well as the tissue content of the phospholipid precursor, N-oleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine , the biosynthetic precursor of the oleic acid-derived PPAR-alpha activator, oleoylethanolamide. Because PPAR-alpha regulates fatty acid β-oxidation, we hypothesized that this transcription factor might mediate the oxytocin effects. This was substantiated by the observation that, in contrast to its effects in wild-type mice, oxytocin infusion failed to induce weight loss and fat oxidation in PPAR-alpha-deficient animals. Altogether, these results suggest that oxytocin administration could represent a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of human obesity and type 2 diabetes. [less ▲]

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See detailEmbryologie générale et moléculaire
Geenen, Vincent ULg

Learning material (2011)

Notes du cours d'Embryologie - M1BOE

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See detailRheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy: evolution of disease activity and pathophysiological considerations for drug use
Hazes, Johanna M.W.; Coulie, Pierre G.; Geenen, Vincent ULg et al

in Rheumatology (2011)

It has long been known that pregnancy and childbirth have a profound effect on the disease activity of rheumatic diseases. For clinicians, the management of patients with RA wishing to become pregnant ... [more ▼]

It has long been known that pregnancy and childbirth have a profound effect on the disease activity of rheumatic diseases. For clinicians, the management of patients with RA wishing to become pregnant involves the challenge of keeping disease activity under control and adequately adapting drug therapy during pregnancy and post-partum. This article aims to summarize the current evidence on the evolution of RA disease activity during and after pregnancy and the use of anti-rheumatic drugs around this period. Of recent interest is the potential use of anti-TNF compounds in the preconception period and during pregnancy. Accumulating experience with anti-TNF therapy in other immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, provides useful insights for the use of TNF blockade in pregnant women with RA, or RA patients wishing to become pregnant. [less ▲]

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See detailType 1 diabetes immunological tolerance and immunotherapy
ALAMI CHENTOUFI, Aziz; GIANNOUKAKIS, Nick; Geenen, Vincent ULg

Book published by Hindawi (2011)

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disorder associated, in genetically susceptible individuals, with the generation and activation of autoreactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that infiltrate the ... [more ▼]

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disorder associated, in genetically susceptible individuals, with the generation and activation of autoreactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that infiltrate the pancreas and selectively destroy the insulin-producing β-cells in the islets. The impairment of T-cell tolerance in T1D has been reported at many levels including abnormal self-antigen presentation in the thymus and periphery, autoreactive T-cell resistance to apoptosis, unbalanced immunoregulatory T-cell function, and deregulation of Th1/Th2/Th17 axes. Despite the identification of type1 diabetes-associated autoantigens and their derived CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell epitopes, numerous antigen-specific immunoregulatory therapies have failed when evaluated for their utility in the prevention and treatment of T1D. In this special issue, we invite authors to submit original research and review articles highlighting the recent advances that have broadened our understanding of immunological tolerance and T1D vaccine strategies. Also, we welcome papers that seek to define immunoregulatory properties of T cells to provide new insights as to their potential for clinical use. We are interested in articles that explore salient aspects of T1D-associated tolerance and immunotherapy. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: * T1D-associated central and peripheral tolerance mechanisms * Elucidating the functional impairment in immunoregulatory T-cell function in T1D * New animal models to test and understand dysfunctional immunity in T1D * Identification of new beta islet-specific autoantigens * Development of antigen-based immunotherapeutic strategies to prevent or treat T1D * Clinical trials with novel antigen-specific immunoregulatory therapies [less ▲]

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See detailThymic self-antigen expression for the design of a negative/tolerogenic self-vaccine against type 1 diabetes
Alami Chentoufi; Geenen, Vincent ULg

in Clinical & Developmental Immunology (2011)

Before being able to react against infectious non-self antigens, the immune system has to be educated in the recognition and tolerance of neuroendocrine proteins and this critical process takes place only ... [more ▼]

Before being able to react against infectious non-self antigens, the immune system has to be educated in the recognition and tolerance of neuroendocrine proteins and this critical process takes place only in the thymus. The development of the autoimmune diabetogenic response results from a thymus dysfunction in programming central self-tolerance to pancreatic insulin-secreting islet β cells, leading to the breakdown of immune homeostasis with an enrichment of islet β-cell reactive effector T cells and a deficiency of β-cell specific natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) in the peripheral T-lymphocyte repertoire. Insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2) is the dominant member of the insulin family expressed during fetal life by the thymic epithelium under the control of the autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene/protein. Based on the close homology and cross-tolerance between insulin, the primary T1D autoantigen, and IGF-2, the dominant self-antigen of the insulin family, a novel type of vaccination, so-called “negative/tolerogenic self-vaccination”, is currently being developed for prevention and cure of T1D. If this approach were found to be effective for reprogramming immunological tolerance in T1D, it could pave the way for the design of other self-vaccines against autoimmune endocrine diseases, as well as other organ-specific autoimmune diseases. [less ▲]

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