950 research outputs found

    Sterols, Oxysterols, and Accessible Cholesterol: Signalling for Homeostasis, in Immunity and During Development

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    In this article we discuss the concept of accessible plasma membrane cholesterol and its involvement as a signalling molecule. Changes in plasma membrane accessible cholesterol, although only being minor in the context of total cholesterol plasma membrane cholesterol and total cell cholesterol, are a key regulator of overall cellular cholesterol homeostasis by the SREBP pathway. Accessible cholesterol also provides the second messenger between patched 1 and smoothened in the hedgehog signalling pathway important during development, and its depletion may provide a mechanism of resistance to microbial pathogens including SARS-CoV-2. We revise the hypothesis that oxysterols are a signalling form of cholesterol, in this instance as a rapidly acting and paracrine version of accessible cholesterol

    Brain cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease: challenges and opportunities in probe and drug development

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    Cholesterol homeostasis is impaired in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), however, attempts to modulate brain cholesterol biology have not translated into tangible clinical benefits for patients to date. Several recent milestone developments have substantially improved our understanding of how excess neuronal cholesterol contributes to the pathophysiology of AD. Indeed, neuronal cholesterol was linked to the formation of amyloid-β (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangles through molecular pathways that were recently delineated in mechanistic studies. Further, remarkable advances in translational molecular imaging have now made it possible to probe cholesterol metabolism in the living human brain with positron emission tomography, which is an important prerequisite for future clinical trials that target the brain cholesterol machinery in AD patients – with the ultimate aim to develop disease-modifying treatments. This work summarizes current concepts of how the biosynthesis, transport and clearance of brain cholesterol are affected in AD. Further, current strategies to reverse these alterations by pharmacotherapy are critically discussed in the wake of emerging translational research tools that support the assessment of brain cholesterol biology not only in animal models but also in AD patients

    Assessment of cholesterol homeostasis in the living human brain

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    Alterations in brain cholesterol homeostasis have been broadly implicated in neurological disorders. Notwithstanding the complexity by which cholesterol biology is governed in the mammalian brain, excess neuronal cholesterol is primarily eliminated by metabolic clearance via cytochrome P450 46A1 (CYP46A1). No methods are currently available for visualizing cholesterol metabolism in the living human brain; therefore, a non-invasive technology that quantitatively measures the extent of brain cholesterol metabolism via CYP46A1 could broadly impact disease diagnosis and treatment options using targeted therapies. Here we describe the development and testing of a CYP46A1-targeted positron emission tomography (PET) tracer. 18F-CHL-2205(18F-Cholestify). Our data show that PET imaging readouts correlate with CYP46A1 protein expression and with the extent to which cholesterol is metabolized in the brain, as assessed by cross-species post-mortem analyses of specimens from rodents, non-human primates and humans. Proof-of-concept of in vivo efficacy is provided in the well-established 3xTg-AD murine model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), where we show that the probe is sensitive to differences in brain cholesterol metabolism between 3xTg-AD mice and control animals. Further, our clinical observations point towards a considerably higher baseline brain cholesterol clearance via CYP46A1 in women, as compared to age-matched men. These findings illustrate the vast potential of assessing brain cholesterol metabolism using PET and establish PET as a sensitive tool for non-invasive assessment of brain cholesterol homeostasis in the clinic

    Cholesterol 25-hydroxylase suppresses SARS-CoV-2 replication by blocking membrane fusion

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    The novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), has swept the world in unprecedented speed. In a few months, SARS-CoV-2 has infected millions of people and caused tens of thousands of deaths. There are no Food and Drug Administration-approved antivirals or vaccines yet available and clinical treatments are limited to supportive therapies that help alleviate the symptoms. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify effective antivirals as countermeasures before safe and effective vaccines are developed, tested, and then produced on a large scale. Our approach is to harness the germline-encoded interferon antiviral response to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication thereby limiting its pathogenicit

    Cholesterol metabolism pathways – are the intermediates more important than the products?

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    Every cell in vertebrates possesses the machinery to synthesise cholesterol and to metabolise it. The major route of cholesterol metabolism is conversion to bile acids. Bile acids themselves are interesting molecules being ligands to nuclear and G protein-coupled receptors, but perhaps the intermediates in the bile acid biosynthesis pathways are even more interesting and equally important. Here we discuss the biological activity of the different intermediates generated in the various bile acid biosynthesis pathways. We put forward the hypothesis that the acidic pathway of bile acid biosynthesis has primary evolved to generate signalling molecules and its utilisation by hepatocytes provides an added bonus of producing bile acids to aid absorption of lipids in the intestine

    Tip induced unconventional superconductivity on Weyl semimetal TaAs

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    Weyl fermion is a massless Dirac fermion with definite chirality, which has been long pursued since 1929. Though it has not been observed as a fundamental particle in nature, Weyl fermion can be realized as low-energy excitation around Weyl point in Weyl semimetal, which possesses Weyl fermion cones in the bulk and nontrivial Fermi arc states on the surface. As a firstly discovered Weyl semimetal, TaAs crystal possesses 12 pairs of Weyl points in the momentum space, which are topologically protected against small perturbations. Here, we report for the first time the tip induced superconductivity on TaAs crystal by point contact spectroscopy. A conductance plateau and sharp double dips are observed in the point contact spectra, indicating p-wave like unconventional superconductivity. Furthermore, the zero bias conductance peak in low temperature regime is detected, suggesting potentially the existence of Majorana zero modes. The experimentally observed tunneling spectra can be interpreted with a novel mirror-symmetry protected topological superconductor induced in TaAs, which can exhibit zero bias and double finite bias peaks, and double conductance dips in the measurements. Our work can open a broad avenue in search for new topological superconducting phases from topological Weyl materials and trigger intensive investigations for pursuing Majorana fermions