Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Universite De Bordeaux Ii (2010)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • RNA Sequencing Analysis Detection of a Novel Pathway of Endothelial Dysfunction in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension AMERICAN JOURNAL OF RESPIRATORY AND CRITICAL CARE MEDICINE Rhodes, C. J., Im, H., Cao, A., Hennigs, J. K., Wang, L., Sa, S., Chen, P., Nickel, N. P., Miyagawa, K., Hopper, R. K., Tojais, N. F., Li, C. G., Gu, M., Spiekerkoetter, E., Xian, Z., Chen, R., Zhao, M., Kaschwich, M., del Rosario, P. A., Bernstein, D., Zamanian, R. T., Wu, J. C., Snyder, M. P., Rabinovitch, M. 2015; 192 (3): 356-366


    Pulmonary arterial hypertension is characterized by endothelial dysregulation, but global changes in gene expression have not been related to perturbations in function.RNA sequencing was utilized to discriminate changes in transcriptomes of endothelial cells cultured from lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension vs. controls and to assess the functional significance of major differentially expressed transcripts.The endothelial transcriptomes from seven control and six idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension patients' lungs were analyzed. Differentially expressed genes were related to BMPR2 signaling. Those downregulated were assessed for function in cultured cells, and in a transgenic mouse.Fold-differences in ten genes were significant (p<0.05), four increased and six decreased in patients vs.No patient was mutant for BMPR2. However, knockdown of BMPR2 by siRNA in control pulmonary arterial endothelial cells recapitulated six/ten patient-related gene changes, including decreased collagen IV (COL4A1, COL4A2) and ephrinA1 (EFNA1). Reduction of BMPR2 regulated transcripts was related to decreased β-catenin. Reducing COL4A1, COL4A2 and EFNA1 by siRNA inhibited pulmonary endothelial adhesion, migration and tube formation. In mice null for the EFNA1 receptor, EphA2, vs. controls, VEGF receptor blockade and hypoxia caused more severe pulmonary hypertension, judged by elevated right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy and loss of small arteries.The novel relationship between BMPR2 dysfunction and reduced expression of endothelial COL4 and EFNA1 may underlie vulnerability to injury in pulmonary arterial hypertension.

    View details for DOI 10.1164/rccm.201408-1528OC

    View details for Web of Science ID 000359178500017

    View details for PubMedID 26030479

  • Lung matrix and vascular remodeling in mechanically ventilated elastin haploinsufficient newborn mice AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY-LUNG CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR PHYSIOLOGY Hilgendorff, A., Parai, K., Ertsey, R., Navarro, E., Jain, N., Carandang, F., Peterson, J., Mokres, L., Milla, C., Preuss, S., Alcazar, M. A., Khan, S., Masumi, J., Ferreira-Tojais, N., Mujahid, S., Starcher, B., Rabinovitch, M., Bland, R. 2015; 308 (5): L464-L478
  • Frizzled7 controls vascular permeability through the Wnt-canonical pathway and cross-talk with endothelial cell junction complexes. Cardiovascular research Ferreira Tojais, N., Peghaire, C., Franzl, N., Larrieu-Lahargue, F., Jaspard, B., Reynaud, A., Moreau, C., Couffinhal, T., Duplàa, C., Dufourcq, P. 2014; 103 (2): 291-303


    Vascular permeability is essential for the health of normal tissues and is an important characteristic of many disease states. The role of the Wnt/frizzled pathway in vascular biology has recently been reported. The objectives of this study are to analyse the role of Frizzled7 (Fzd7) receptor in the control of vascular integrity.Fzd7 is expressed in endothelial cells and accumulates at the points of cell-cell contact in association with VE-cadherin and β-catenin, two major adherens junction molecules. To selectively delete fzd7 in the vasculature, we developed gene targeting approaches using CreLox strategy in mice. Genetic fzd7 inhibition in the endothelium increases vascular permeability in basal and factor-induced conditions. On the cellular level, fzd7 knockdown or depletion leads to an increase in paracellular permeability with a loss of adherens junction organization. These impairments are associated with a decrease in both VE-Cadherin and β-catenin expression, a decrease in their association and an increase of tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cadherin/β-catenin. Fzd7 transduces a Wnt/β-catenin signalling cascade that is required to regulate β-catenin and canonical target gene expression. Finally, LiCl, a GSK3 inhibitor, and β-catenin overexpression rescued endothelial integrity and adherens junction organization, induced by fzd7 deletion.These findings establish that Fzd7 is a new partner of adherens junctional complex and represents a novel molecular switch for the control of vascular permeability via activation of the Wnt-canonical pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/cvr/cvu133

    View details for PubMedID 24866384

  • Loss of adenomatous poliposis coli-a3 integrin interaction promotes endothelial apoptosis in mice and humans. Circulation research de Jesus Perez, V. A., Yuan, K., Orcholski, M. E., Sawada, H., Zhao, M., Li, C. G., Tojais, N. F., Nickel, N., Rajagopalan, V., Spiekerkoetter, E., Wang, L., Dutta, R., Bernstein, D., Rabinovitch, M. 2012; 111 (12): 1551-1564


    Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is characterized by progressive elevation in pulmonary pressure and loss of small pulmonary arteries. As bone morphogenetic proteins promote pulmonary angiogenesis by recruiting the Wnt/?-catenin pathway, we proposed that ?-catenin activation could reduce loss and induce regeneration of small pulmonary arteries (PAs) and attenuate PH.This study aims to establish the role of ?-catenin in protecting the pulmonary endothelium and stimulating compensatory angiogenesis after injury.To assess the impact of ?-catenin activation on chronic hypoxia-induced PH, we used the adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc(Min/+)) mouse, where reduced APC causes constitutive ?-catenin elevation. Surprisingly, hypoxic Apc(Min/+) mice displayed greater PH and small PA loss compared with control C57Bl6J littermates. PA endothelial cells isolated from Apc(Min/+) demonstrated reduced survival and angiogenic responses along with a profound reduction in adhesion to laminin. The mechanism involved failure of APC to interact with the cytoplasmic domain of the ?3 integrin, to stabilize focal adhesions and activate integrin-linked kinase-1 and phospho Akt. We found that PA endothelial cells from lungs of patients with idiopathic PH have reduced APC expression, decreased adhesion to laminin, and impaired vascular tube formation. These defects were corrected in the cultured cells by transfection of APC.We show that APC is integral to PA endothelial cells adhesion and survival and is reduced in PA endothelial cells from PH patient lungs. The data suggest that decreased APC may be a cause of increased risk or severity of PH in genetically susceptible individuals.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.267849

    View details for PubMedID 23011394

  • Frizzled 4 Regulates Arterial Network Organization Through Noncanonical Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity Signaling CIRCULATION RESEARCH Descamps, B., Sewduth, R., Tojias, N. F., Jaspard, B., Reynaud, A., Sohet, F., Lacolley, P., Allieres, C., Lamaziere, J. D., Moreau, C., Dufourcq, P., Couffinhal, T., Duplaa, C. 2012; 110 (1): 47-58


    A growing body of evidence supports the hypothesis that the Wnt/planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway regulates endothelial cell proliferation and angiogenesis, but the components that mediate this regulation remain elusive.We investigated the involvement of one of the receptors, Frizzled4 (Fzd4), in this process because its role has been implicated in retinal vascular development.We found that loss of fzd4 function in mice results in a striking reduction and impairment of the distal small artery network in the heart and kidney. We report that loss of fzd4 decreases vascular cell proliferation and migration and decreases the ability of the endothelial cells to form tubes. We show that fzd4 deletion induces defects in the expression level of stable acetylated tubulin and in Golgi organization during migration. Deletion of fzd4 favors Wnt noncanonical AP1-dependent signaling, indicating that Fzd4 plays a pivotal role favoring PCP signaling. Our data further demonstrate that Fzd4 is predominantly localized on the top of the plasma membrane, where it preferentially induces Dvl3 relocalization to promote its activation and α-tubulin recruitment during migration. In a pathological mouse angiogenic model, deletion of fzd4 impairs the angiogenic response and leads to the formation of a disorganized arterial network.These results suggest that Fzd4 is a major receptor involved in arterial formation and organization through a Wnt/PCP pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.250936

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299023800009

    View details for PubMedID 22076635

  • Hypoxia Preconditioned Mesenchymal Stem Cells Improve Vascular and Skeletal Muscle Fiber Regeneration After Ischemia Through a Wnt4-dependent Pathway MOLECULAR THERAPY Leroux, L., Descamps, B., Tojais, N. F., Seguy, B., Oses, P., Moreau, C., Daret, D., Ivanovic, Z., Boiron, J., Lamaziere, J. D., Dufourcq, P., Couffinhal, T., Duplaa, C. 2010; 18 (8): 1545-1552


    Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent postnatal stem cells, involved in the treatment of ischemic vascular diseases. We investigate the ability of MSC, exposed to short-term hypoxic conditions, to participate in vascular and tissue regeneration in an in vivo model of hindlimb ischemia. Transplantation of hypoxic preconditioned murine MSC (HypMSC) enhanced skeletal muscle regeneration at day 7, improved blood flow and vascular formation compared to injected nonpreconditioned MSC (NormMSC). These observed effects were correlated with an increase in HypMSC engraftment and a putative role in necrotic skeletal muscle fiber clearance. Moreover, HypMSC transplantation resulted in a large increase in Wnt4 (wingless-related MMTV integration site 4) expression and we demonstrate its functional significance on MSC proliferation and migration, endothelial cell (EC) migration, as well as myoblast differentiation. Furthermore, suppression of Wnt4 expression in HypMSC, abrogated the hypoxia-induced vascular regenerative properties of these cells in the mouse hindlimb ischemia model. Our data suggest that hypoxic preconditioning plays a critical role in the functional capabilities of MSC, shifting MSC location in situ to enhance ischemic tissue recovery, facilitating vascular cell mobilization, and skeletal muscle fiber regeneration via a paracrine Wnt-dependent mechanism.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/mt.2010.108

    View details for Web of Science ID 000280561200017

    View details for PubMedID 20551912

  • Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in the Communication Between Human Osteoprogenitors and Endothelial Cells JOURNAL OF CELLULAR BIOCHEMISTRY Grellier, M., Ferreira-Tojais, N., Bourget, C., Bareille, R., Guillemot, F., Amedee, J. 2009; 106 (3): 390-398


    Proper bone remodeling requires an active process of angiogenesis which in turn supplies the necessary growth factors and stem cells. This tissue cooperation suggests a cross-talk between osteoblasts and endothelial cells. This work aims to identify the role of paracrine communication through vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in co-culture between osteoblastic and endothelial cells. Through a well defined direct contact co-culture model between human osteoprogenitors (HOPs) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), we observed that HUVECs were able to migrate along HOPs, inducing the formation of specific tubular-like structures. VEGF(165) gene expression was detected in the HOPs, was up-regulated in the co-cultured HOPs and both Flt-1 and KDR gene expression increased in co-cultured HUVECs. However, the cell rearrangement observed in co-culture was promoted by a combination of soluble chemoattractive factors and not by VEGF(165) alone. Despite having no observable effect on endothelial cell tubular-like formation, VEGF appeared to have a crucial role in osteoblastic differentiation since the inhibition of its receptors reduced the co-culture-stimulated osteoblastic phenotype. This co-culture system appears to enhance both primary angiogenesis events and osteoblastic differentiation, thus allowing for the development of new strategies in vascularized bone tissue engineering.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jcb.22018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263157500005

    View details for PubMedID 19127540

  • Secreted Frizzled-Related Protein-1 Enhances Mesenchymal Stem Cell Function in Angiogenesis and Contributes to Neovessel Maturation STEM CELLS Dufourcq, P., Descamps, B., Tojais, N. F., Leroux, L., Oses, P., Daret, D., Moreau, C., Lamaziere, J. D., Couffinhal, T., Duplaa, C. 2008; 26 (11): 2991-3001


    Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation offers a great angiogenic opportunity in vascular regenerative medicine. The canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway has been demonstrated to play an essential role in stem cell fate. Recently, genetic studies have implicated the Wnt/Frizzled (Fz) molecular pathway, namely Wnt7B and Fz4, in blood growth regulation. Here, we investigated whether MSC could be required in shaping a functional vasculature and whether secreted Frizzled-related protein-1 (sFRP1), a modulator of the Wnt/Fz pathway, could modify MSC capacities, endowing MSC to increase vessel maturation. In the engraftment model, we show that murine bone marrow-derived MSC induced a beneficial vascular effect through a direct cellular contribution to vascular cells. MSC quickly organized into primitive immature vessel tubes connected to host circulation; this organization preceded host endothelial cell (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) recruitment to later form mature neovessel. MSC sustained neovessel organization and maturation. We report here that sFRP1 forced expression enhanced MSC surrounding neovessel, which was correlated with an increase in vessel maturation and functionality. In vitro, sFRP1 strongly increased platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) expression in MSC and enhanced beta-catenin-dependent cell-cell contacts between MSC themselves and EC or SMC. In vivo, sFRP1 increased their functional integration around neovessels and vessel maturation through a glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3beta)-dependent pathway. sFRP1-overexpressing MSC compared with control MSC were well elongated and in a closer contact with the vascular wall, conditions required to achieve an organized mature vessel wall. We propose that genetically modifying MSC to overexpress sFRP1 may be potentially effective in promoting therapeutic angiogenesis/arteriogenesis processes. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

    View details for DOI 10.1634/stemcells.2008-0372

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261156500030

    View details for PubMedID 18757297

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