Publications

13 Publications visible to you, out of a total of 13

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND: The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway regulates cell growth, and is hyper-activated and associated with drug resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Metabolic pathways are profoundly dysregulated in HCC. Whether an altered metabolic state is linked to activated ERK pathway and drug response in HCC is unaddressed. METHODS: We deprived HCC cells of glutamine to induce metabolic alterations and performed various assays, including metabolomics (with (13)C-glucose isotope tracing), microarray analysis, and cell proliferation assays. Glutamine-deprived cells were also treated with kinase inhibitors (e.g. Sorafenib, Erlotinib, U0126 amongst other MEK inhibitors). We performed bioinformatics analysis and stratification of HCC tumour microarrays to determine upregulated ERK gene signatures in patients. FINDINGS: In a subset of HCC cells, the withdrawal of glutamine triggers a severe metabolic alteration and ERK phosphorylation (pERK). This is accompanied by resistance to the anti-proliferative effect of kinase inhibitors, despite pERK inhibition. High intracellular serine is a consistent feature of an altered metabolic state and contributes to pERK induction and the kinase inhibitor resistance. Blocking the ERK pathway facilitates cell proliferation by reprogramming metabolism, notably enhancing aerobic glycolysis. We have identified 24 highly expressed ERK gene signatures that their combined expression strongly indicates a dysregulated metabolic gene network in human HCC tissues. INTERPRETATION: A severely compromised metabolism lead to ERK pathway induction, and primes some HCC cells to pro-survival phenotypes upon ERK pathway blockade. Our findings offer novel insights for understanding, predicting and overcoming drug resistance in liver cancer patients. FUND: DFG, BMBF and Sino-German Cooperation Project.

Authors: Z. C. Nwosu, W. Pioronska, N. Battello, A. D. Zimmer, B. Dewidar, M. Han, S. Pereira, B. Blagojevic, D. Castven, V. Charlestin, P. Holenya, J. Lochead, C. De La Torre, N. Gretz, P. Sajjakulnukit, L. Zhang, M. H. Ward, J. U. Marquardt, M. P. di Magliano, C. A. Lyssiotis, J. Sleeman, S. Wolfl, M. P. Ebert, C. Meyer, U. Hofmann, S. Dooley

Date Published: 25th Apr 2020

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The Hedgehog (Hh) and Wnt/β-Catenin (Wnt) cascades are morphogen pathways whose pronounced influence on adult liver metabolism has been identified in recent years. How both pathways communicate and control liver metabolic functions are largely unknown. Detecting core components of Wnt and Hh signaling and mathematical modeling showed that both pathways in healthy liver act largely complementary to each other in the pericentral (Wnt) and the periportal zone (Hh) and communicate mainly by mutual repression. The Wnt/Hh module inversely controls the spatiotemporal operation of various liver metabolic pathways, as revealed by transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome analyses. Shifting the balance to Wnt (activation) or Hh (inhibition) causes pericentralization and periportalization of liver functions, respectively. Thus, homeostasis of the Wnt/Hh module is essential for maintaining proper liver metabolism and to avoid the development of certain metabolic diseases. With caution due to minor species-specific differences, these conclusions may hold for human liver as well.

Authors: Erik Kolbe, Susanne Aleithe, Christiane Rennert, Luise Spormann, Fritzi Ott, David Meierhofer, Robert Gajowski, Claus Stöpel, Stefan Hoehme, Michael Kücken, Lutz Brusch, Michael Seifert, Witigo von Schoenfels, Clemens Schafmayer, Mario Brosch, Ute Hofmann, Georg Damm, Daniel Seehofer, Jochen Hampe, Rolf Gebhardt, Madlen Matz-Soja

Date Published: 1st Dec 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND: Although metabolism is profoundly altered in human liver cancer, the extent to which experimental models, e.g. cell lines, mimic those alterations is unresolved. Here, we aimed to determine the resemblance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines to human liver tumours, specifically in the expression of deregulated metabolic targets in clinical tissue samples. METHODS: We compared the overall gene expression profile of poorly-differentiated (HLE, HLF, SNU-449) to well-differentiated (HUH7, HEPG2, HEP3B) HCC cell lines in three publicly available microarray datasets. Three thousand and eighty-five differentially expressed genes in >/=2 datasets (P < 0.05) were used for pathway enrichment and gene ontology (GO) analyses. Further, we compared the topmost gene expression, pathways, and GO from poorly differentiated cell lines to the pattern from four human HCC datasets (623 tumour tissues). In well- versus poorly differentiated cell lines, and in representative models HLE and HUH7 cells, we specifically assessed the expression pattern of 634 consistently deregulated metabolic genes in human HCC. These data were complemented by quantitative PCR, proteomics, metabolomics and assessment of response to thirteen metabolism-targeting compounds in HLE versus HUH7 cells. RESULTS: We found that poorly-differentiated HCC cells display upregulated MAPK/RAS/NFkB signaling, focal adhesion, and downregulated complement/coagulation cascade, PPAR-signaling, among pathway alterations seen in clinical tumour datasets. In HLE cells, 148 downregulated metabolic genes in liver tumours also showed low gene/protein expression - notably in fatty acid beta-oxidation (e.g. ACAA1/2, ACADSB, HADH), urea cycle (e.g. CPS1, ARG1, ASL), molecule transport (e.g. SLC2A2, SLC7A1, SLC25A15/20), and amino acid metabolism (e.g. PHGDH, PSAT1, GOT1, GLUD1). In contrast, HUH7 cells showed a higher expression of 98 metabolic targets upregulated in tumours (e.g. HK2, PKM, PSPH, GLUL, ASNS, and fatty acid synthesis enzymes ACLY, FASN). Metabolomics revealed that the genomic portrait of HLE cells co-exist with profound reliance on glutamine to fuel tricarboxylic acid cycle, whereas HUH7 cells use both glucose and glutamine. Targeting glutamine pathway selectively suppressed the proliferation of HLE cells. CONCLUSIONS: We report a yet unappreciated distinct expression pattern of clinically-relevant metabolic genes in HCC cell lines, which could enable the identification and therapeutic targeting of metabolic vulnerabilities at various liver cancer stages.

Authors: Z. C. Nwosu, N. Battello, M. Rothley, W. Pioronska, B. Sitek, M. P. Ebert, U. Hofmann, J. Sleeman, S. Wolfl, C. Meyer, D. A. Megger, S. Dooley

Date Published: 5th Sep 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

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Authors: Ahmed Ghallab, Ute Hofmann, Selahaddin Sezgin, Nachiket Vartak, Reham Hassan, Ayham Zaza, Patricio Godoy, Kai Markus Schneider, Georgia Guenther, Yasser A Ahmed, Aya A Abbas, Verena Keitel, Lars Kuepfer, Steven Dooley, Frank Lammert, Christian Trautwein, Michael Spiteller, Dirk Drasdo, Alan F Hofmann, Peter L M Jansen, Jan G Hengstler, Raymond Reif

Date Published: 13th Aug 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Transient hepatic steatosis upon liver resection supposes functional relationships between lipid metabolism and liver regeneration. Repin1 has been suggested as candidate gene for obesity and dyslipidemia by regulating key genes of lipid metabolism and lipid storage. Herein, we characterized the regenerative potential of mice with a hepatic deletion of Repin1 (LRep1-/-) after partial hepatectomy (PH) in order to determine the functional significance of Repin1 in liver regeneration. Lipid dynamics and the regenerative response were analyzed at various time points after PH. Hepatic Repin1 deficiency causes a significantly decreased transient hepatic lipid accumulation. Defects in lipid uptake, as analyzed by decreased expression of the fatty acid transporter Cd36 and Fatp5, may contribute to attenuated and shifted lipid accumulation, accompanied by altered extent and chronological sequence of liver cell proliferation in LRep1-/- mice. In vitro steatosis experiments with primary hepatocytes also revealed attenuated lipid accumulation and occurrence of smaller lipid droplets in Repin1-deficient cells, while no direct effect on proliferation in HepG2 cells was observed. Based on these results, we propose that hepatocellular Repin1 might be of functional significance for early accumulation of lipids in hepatocytes after PH, facilitating efficient progression of liver regeneration.

Authors: K. Abshagen, B. Degenhardt, M. Liebig, A. Wendt, B. Genz, U. Schaeper, M. Stumvoll, U. Hofmann, M. Frank, B. Vollmar, N. Kloting

Date Published: 18th Jan 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

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Authors: Markus Krauss, Ute Hofmann, Clemens Schafmayer, Svitlana Igel, Jan Schlender, Christian Mueller, Mario Brosch, Witigo von Schoenfels, Wiebke Erhart, Andreas Schuppert, Michael Block, Elke Schaeffeler, Gabriele Boehmer, Linus Goerlitz, Jan Hoecker, Joerg Lippert, Reinhold Kerb, Jochen Hampe, Lars Kuepfer, Matthias Schwab

Date Published: 1st Dec 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Diseases and toxins may lead to death of active liver tissue, resulting in a loss of total clearance capacity at the whole-body level. However, it remains difficult to study, whether the loss of metabolizing tissue is sufficient to explain loss of metabolic capacity of the liver or whether the surviving tissue undergoes an adaptive response to compensate the loss. To understand the cellular impact of toxic liver damage in an in vivo situation, we here used physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modelling to investigate pharmacokinetics of a specifically designed drug cocktail at three different sampling sites of the body in healthy mice and mice treated with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Liver zonation was explicitly quantified in the models through immunostaining of cytochrome P450s enzymes. Comparative analyses between the simulated decrease in clearance capacity and the experimentally measured loss in tissue volume indicated that CCl4-induced impairment of metabolic functions goes beyond the mere loss of metabolically active tissue. The here established integrative modelling strategy hence provides mechanistic insights into functional consequences of toxic liver damage in an in vivo situation, which would not have been accessible by conventional methods.

Authors: Arne Schenk, Ahmed Ghallab, Ute Hofmann, Reham Hassan, Michael Schwarz, Andreas Schuppert, Lars Ole Schwen, Albert Braeuning, Donato Teutonico, Jan G. Hengstler, Lars Kuepfer

Date Published: 1st Dec 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

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Authors: Arne Schenk, Ahmed Ghallab, Ute Hofmann, Reham Hassan, Michael Schwarz, Andreas Schuppert, Lars Ole Schwen, Albert Braeuning, Donato Teutonico, Jan G. Hengstler, Lars Kuepfer

Date Published: 1st Dec 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

AIM: To apply an innovative LC-MS/MS method to quantify thiopurine metabolites in human hepatocytes and to associate them to cytotoxicity. METHODS: Immortalized human hepatocytes (IHH cells) were treated for 48 and 96 h, with 1.4 x 10(-4) M azathioprine and 1.1 x 10(-3) M mercaptopurine, concentrations corresponding to the IC50 values calculated after 96 h exposure in previous cytotoxicity analysis. After treatments, cells were collected for LC-MS/MS analysis to quantify 11 thiopurine metabolites with different level of phosphorylation and viable cells were counted by trypan blue exclusion assay to determine thiopurines in vitro effect on cell growth and survival. Statistical significance was determined by analysis of variance (ANOVA). RESULTS: Azathioprine and mercaptopurine had a significant time-dependent cytotoxic effect (p-value ANOVA = 0.012), with a viable cell count compared to controls of 55.5% and 67.5% respectively after 48 h and 23.7% and 36.1% after 96 h; no significant difference could be observed between the two drugs. Quantification of thiopurine metabolites evidenced that the most abundant metabolite was TIMP, representing 57.1% and 40.3% of total metabolites after 48 and 96 h. Total thiopurine metabolites absolute concentrations decreased over time: total mean content decreased from 469.9 pmol/million cells to 83.6 pmol/million cells (p-value ANOVA = 0.0070). However, considering the relative amount of thiopurine metabolites, TGMP content significantly increased from 11.4% cells to 26.4% (p-value ANOVA = 0.017). A significant association between thiopurine effects and viable cell counts could be detected only for MeTIMP: lower MeTIMP concentrations were associated with lower cell survival (p-value ANOVA = 0.011). Moreover, the ratio between MeTIMP and TGMP metabolites directly correlated with cell survival (p-value ANOVA = 0.037). CONCLUSION: Detailed quantification of thiopurine metabolites in a human hepatocytes model provided useful insights on the association between thioguanine and methyl-thioinosine nucleotides with cell viability.

Authors: M. Pelin, E. Genova, L. Fusco, M. Marisat, U. Hofmann, D. Favretto, M. Lucafo, A. Taddio, S. Martelossi, A. Ventura, G. Stocco, M. Schwab, G. Decorti

Date Published: 12th Aug 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Early indication of late-stage failure of novel candidate drugs could be facilitated by continuous integration, assessment, and transfer of knowledge acquired along pharmaceutical development programs. We here present a translational systems pharmacology workflow that combines drug cocktail probing in a specifically designed clinical study, physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling, and Bayesian statistics to identify and transfer (patho-)physiological and drug-specific knowledge across distinct patient populations. Our work builds on two clinical investigations, one with 103 healthy volunteers and one with 79 diseased patients from which we systematically derived physiological information from pharmacokinetic data for a reference probe drug (midazolam) at the single-patient level. Taking into account the acquired knowledge describing (patho-)physiological alterations in the patient cohort allowed the successful prediction of the population pharmacokinetics of a second, candidate probe drug (torsemide) in the patient population. In addition, we identified significant relations of the acquired physiological processes to patient metadata from liver biopsies. The presented prototypical systems pharmacology approach is a proof of concept for model-based translation across different stages of pharmaceutical development programs. Applied consistently, it has the potential to systematically improve predictivity of pharmacokinetic simulations by incorporating the results of clinical trials and translating them to subsequent studies.

Authors: M. Krauss, U. Hofmann, C. Schafmayer, S. Igel, J. Schlender, C. Mueller, M. Brosch, W. von Schoenfels, W. Erhart, A. Schuppert, M. Block, E. Schaeffeler, G. Boehmer, L. Goerlitz, J. Hoecker, J. Lippert, R. Kerb, J. Hampe, L. Kuepfer, M. Schwab

Date Published: 27th Jun 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The Hedgehog signaling pathway is known to be involved in embryogenesis, tissue remodeling, and carcinogenesis. Because of its involvement in carcinogenesis, it seems an interesting target for cancer therapy. Indeed, Sonidegib, an approved inhibitor of the Hedgehog receptor Smoothened (Smo), is highly active against diverse carcinomas, but its use is also reported to be associated with several systemic side effects. Our former work in adult mice demonstrated hepatic Hedgehog signaling to play a key role in the insulin-like growth factor axis and lipid metabolism. The current work using mice with an embryonic and hepatocyte-specific Smo deletion describes an adverse impact of the hepatic Hedgehog pathway on female fertility. In female SAC-KO mice, we detected androgenization characterized by a 3.3-fold increase in testosterone at 12 weeks of age based on an impressive induction of steroidogenic gene expression in hepatocytes, but not in the classic steroidogenic organs (ovary and adrenal gland). Along with the elevated level of testosterone, the female SAC-KO mice showed infertility characterized by juvenile reproductive organs and acyclicity. The endocrine and reproductive alterations resembled polycystic ovarian syndrome and could be confirmed in a second mouse model with conditional deletion of Smo at 8 weeks of age after an extended period of 8 months. We conclude that the down-regulation of hepatic Hedgehog signaling leads to an impaired hormonal balance by the induction of steroidogenesis in the liver. These effects of Hedgehog signaling inhibition should be considered when using Hedgehog inhibitors as anti-cancer drugs.

Authors: Christiane Rennert, Franziska Eplinius, Ute Hofmann, Janina Johänning, Franziska Rolfs, Wolfgang Schmidt-Heck, Reinhardt Guthke, Rolf Gebhardt, Albert M. Ricken, Madlen Matz-Soja

Date Published: 30th May 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

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Authors: Christoph Thiel, Ute Hofmann, Ahmed Ghallab, Rolf Gebhardt, Jan G. Hengstler, Lars Kuepfer

Date Published: 1st Apr 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Recently, spatial-temporal/metabolic mathematical models have been established that allow the simulation of metabolic processes in tissues. We applied these models to decipherer ammonia detoxification mechanisms in the liver. METHODS: An integrated metabolic-spatial-temporal model was used to generate hypotheses of ammonia metabolism. Predicted mechanisms were validated using time-resolved analyses of nitrogen metabolism, activity analyses, immunostaining and gene expression after induction of liver damage in mice. Moreover, blood from the portal vein, liver vein and mixed venous blood was analyzed in a time dependent manner. RESULTS: Modeling revealed an underestimation of ammonia consumption after liver damage when only the currently established mechanisms of ammonia detoxification were simulated. By iterative cycles of modeling and experiments, the reductive amidation of alpha-ketoglutarate (α-KG) via glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) was identified as the lacking component. GDH is released from damaged hepatocytes into the blood where it consumes ammonia to generate glutamate, thereby providing systemic protection against hyperammonemia. This mechanism was exploited therapeutically in a mouse model of hyperammonemia by injecting GDH together with optimized doses of cofactors. Intravenous injection of GDH (720 U/kg), α-KG (280 mg/kg) and NADPH (180 mg/kg) reduced the elevated blood ammonia concentrations (>200 μM) to levels close to normal within only 15 min. CONCLUSION: If successfully translated to patients the GDH-based therapy might provide a less aggressive therapeutic alternative for patients with severe hyperammonemia.

Authors: Ahmed Ghallab, Géraldine Cellière, Sebastian G. Henkel, Dominik Driesch, Stefan Hoehme, Ute Hofmann, Sebastian Zellmer, Patricio Godoy, Agapios Sachinidis, Meinolf Blaszkewicz, Raymond Reif, Rosemarie Marchan, Lars Kuepfer, Dieter Häussinger, Dirk Drasdo, Rolf Gebhardt, Jan G. Hengstler

Date Published: 1st Apr 2016

Publication Type: Not specified

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