Highlighting Recent Publications by Physiology Faculty Mariana Nikolova-Karakashian, PhD

Nolan, M. W., T. L. Gieger, A. A. Karakashian, M. N. Nikolova-Karakashian, L. P. Posner, D. M. Roback, J. N. Rivera, and S. Chang. "Outcomes of Spatially Fractionated Radiotherapy (Grid) for Bulky Soft Tissue Sarcomas in a Large Animal Model." Technol Cancer Res Treat (Jan 01 2017): 1533034617690980. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1533034617690980.

GRID directs alternating regions of high- and low-dose radiation at tumors. A large animal model mimicking the geometries of human treatments is needed to complement existing rodent systems (eg, microbeam) and clarify the physical and biological attributes of GRID. A pilot study was undertaken in pet dogs with spontaneous soft tissue sarcomas to characterize responses to GRID. Subjects were treated with either 20 Gy (3 dogs) or 25 Gy (3 dogs), delivered using 6 MV X-rays and a commercial GRID collimator. Acute toxicity and tumor responses were assessed 2, 4, and 6 weeks later. Acute Radiation Therapy Oncology Group grade I skin toxicity was observed in 3 of the 6 dogs; none experienced a measurable response, per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors. Serum vascular endothelial growth factor, tumor necrosis factor α, and secretory sphingomyelinase were assayed at baseline, 1, 4, 24, and 48 hours after treatment. There was a trend toward platelet-corrected serum vascular endothelial growth factor concentration being lower 1 and 48 hours after GRID than at baseline. There was a significant decrease in secretory sphingomyelinase activity 48 hours after 25 Gy GRID (P = .03). Serum tumor necrosis factor α was quantified measurable at baseline in 4 of the 6 dogs and decreased in each of those subjects at all post-GRID time points. The new information generated by this study includes the observation that high-dose, single fraction application of GRID does not induce measurable reduction in volume of canine soft tissue sarcomas. In contrast to previously published data, these data suggest that GRID may be associated with at least short-term reduction in serum concentration of vascular endothelial growth factor and serum activity of secretory sphingomyelinase. Because GRID can be applied safely, and these tumors can be subsequently surgically resected as part of routine veterinary care, pet dogs with sarcomas are an appealing model for studying the radiobiologic responses to spatially fractionated radiotherapy

Deevska, G. M., P. P. Dotson, 2nd, A. A. Karakashian, G. Isaac, M. Wrona, S. B. Kelly, Jr., A. H. Merrill, Jr., and M. N. Nikolova-Karakashian. "Novel Interconnections in Lipid Metabolism Revealed by Overexpression of Sphingomyelin Synthase-1." J Biol Chem (Jan 13 2017).



This study investigates the consequences of elevating sphingomyelin synthase 1 (SMS1) activity, which generates the main mammalian sphingolipid, sphingomyelin. HepG2 cells stably transfected with SMS1 (HepG2-SMS1), exhibit elevated enzyme activity in vitro and increased sphingomyelin content (mainly C22:0- and C24:0-sphingomyelin), but lower hexosylceramide (Hex-Cer) levels. HepG2-SMS1 cells have less triacylglycerols than controls but similar diacylglycerol acyltransferase activity, triacylglycerol secretion, and mitochondrial function. Treatment with 1 mM palmitate increases de novo ceramide synthesis in both cell lines to a similar degree, causing accumulation of C16:0-ceramide (and some C18:0-, C20:0-, and C22:0-ceramides), as well as C16:0- and C18:0-Hex-Cers. In these experiments, the palmitic acid is delivered as a complex with delipidated BSA (2:1, by mol) and does not induce significant lipotoxicity. Based on precursor labeling, the flux through SM synthase also increases, which is exacerbated in HepG2-SMS1 cells. In contrast, palmitate-induced lipid droplet formation is significantly reduced in HepG2-SMS1 cell. 14C-choline and 3H-palmitate tracking showed that SMS1 overexpression apparently affects the partitioning of diacylglycerol between the phosphatidylcholine and triacylglycerol pathways, to the benefit of the former. Furthermore, triacylglycerols from HepG2-SMS1 cells were enriched in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which is indicative of active remodeling. Together, these results delineate novel metabolic interactions between glycerolipids and sphingolipids.