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1.  Therapeutic targets in the ASK1-dependent stress signaling pathways 
Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) is a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) family that activates downstream MAP kinases (MAPKs), c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) and p38 MAPKs, in response to various stresses, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, lipopolysaccharide, and calcium overload. Activation of the JNK and p38 pathways induces stress responses such as cell death, differentiation, and the production of inflammatory cytokines. A series of studies using ASK1-deficient mice have indicated that ASK1 plays important roles in many stress-related diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, suggesting that small compounds that inhibit ASK1 activity could possibly be used for the amelioration of the development and/or progression of these diseases. In this review, we provide an overview of the pathophysiological roles of ASK1-dependent signaling pathways and discuss the mechanistic basis for how these could serve as potential therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC3491083  PMID: 23060232
ASK1; inhibitors; MAP kinase; signal transduction; stress
2.  Background electroencephalographic (EEG) activities of very preterm infants born at less than 27 weeks gestation: a study on the degree of continuity 
AIMS—To clarify the features of the background electroencephalographic (EEG) activities in clinically well preterm infants born at less than 27 weeks gestation and to outline their chronological changes with increasing postconceptional age (PCA).
METHODS—EEGs of clinically well premature infants born at less than 27 weeks gestation were recorded during the early postnatal period. The infants were separated into three groups according to their PCA at the time of EEG recording (21-22 weeks PCA, 23-24 weeks PCA, and 25-26 weeks PCA). The mean and maximum duration of interburst intervals (IBIs), the mean duration of bursts, and the percentage of continuous and discontinuous patterns in each PCA group were evaluated.
RESULTS—There were three infants at 21-22 weeks PCA, seven at 23-24 weeks PCA, and five at 25-26 weeks PCA. Eighteen EEG recordings were obtained. The mean and maximum IBI duration decreased with increasing PCA. The percentage of continuous patterns increased with increasing PCA. Conversely, the percentage of discontinuous patterns decreased with increasing PCA.
CONCLUSIONS—In premature infants born at less than 27 weeks gestation, the characteristics of the background EEG activities were similar to those of older premature infants. These changes reflect the development of the central nervous system in this period.

At less than 27 weeks gestational age, the characteristics of background EEG activities were found to be as follows:
PMCID: PMC1721237  PMID: 11320041
3.  Cellular Composition and Organization of the Subventricular Zone and Rostral Migratory Stream in the Adult and Neonatal Common Marmoset Brain 
The adult subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle contains neural stem cells. In rodents, these cells generate neuroblasts that migrate as chains toward the olfactory bulb along the rostral migratory stream (RMS). The neural-stem-cell niche at the ventricular wall is conserved in various animal species, including primates. However, it is unclear how the SVZ and RMS organization in nonhuman primates relates to that of rodents and humans. Here we studied the SVZ and RMS of the adult and neonatal common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), a New World primate used widely in neuroscience, by electron microscopy, and immunohistochemical detection of cell-type-specific markers. The marmoset SVZ contained cells similar to type B, C, and A cells of the rodent SVZ in their marker expression and morphology. The adult marmoset SVZ had a three-layer organization, as in the human brain, with ependymal, hypocellular, and astro-cyte-ribbon layers. However, the hypocellular layer was very thin or absent in the adult-anterior and neonatal SVZ. Anti-PSA-NCAM staining of the anterior SVZ in whole-mount ventricular wall preparations of adult marmosets revealed an extensive network of elongated cell aggregates similar to the neuroblast chains in rodents. Time-lapse recordings of marmoset SVZ explants cultured in Matrigel showed the neuroblasts migrating in chains, like rodent type A cells. These results suggest that some features of neurogenesis and neuronal migration in the SVZ are common to marmosets, humans, and rodents. This basic description of the adult and neonatal marmoset SVZ will be useful for future studies on adult neurogenesis in primates.
PMCID: PMC4096931  PMID: 21246550
common marmoset; subventricular zone; rostral migratory stream
4.  Outcomes and Genetic Relatedness of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae at Detroit Medical Center 
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are rapidly emerging in hospitals in the United States and are posing a significant threat. To better understand the transmission dynamics and the acquisition of resistant strains, a thorough analysis of epidemiologic and molecular characteristics was performed.
CRE isolated at Detroit Medical Center were analyzed from September 2008 to September 2009. blaKPC genes were investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR (rep-PCR) was used to determine genetic similarity among strains. Epidemiologic and outcomes analyses were performed.
Ninety-two unique patient CRE isolates were recovered. Sixty-eight strains (74%) were Klebsiella pneumoniae, 7 were Klebsiella oxytoca, 15 were Enterobacter species, and 2 were Escherichia coli. Fifteen isolates (16%) were resistant to colistin, 14 (16%) were resistant to tigecycline, and 2 were resistant to all antimicrobials tested. The mean ± standard deviation age of patients was 63 ± 2 years. Sixty patients (68%) were admitted to the hospital from long-term care facilities. Only 70% of patients received effective antimicrobial therapy when infection was suspected, with a mean time to appropriate therapy of 120 ± 23 hours following sample culturing. The mean length of hospitalization after sample culturing was 18.6 ± 2.5 days. Of 57 inpatients, 18 (32%) died in the hospital. Independent predictors for mortality were intensive care unit stay (odds ratio [OR], 15.8; P =.003) and co-colonization with CRE and either Acinetobacter baumannii or Pseudomonas aeruginosa (OR, 17.2; P =.006). Among K. pneumoniae CRE, rep-PCR revealed 2 genetically related strains that comprised 70% and 20% of isolates, respectively.
In this large U.S. cohort of patients with CRE infection, which reflects the modern continuum of medical care, co-colonization with CRE and A. baumannii or P. aeruginosa was associated with increased mortality. Two predominant clones of K. pneumoniae accounted for the majority of cases of CRE infection.
PMCID: PMC4067763  PMID: 21828966
5.  Mechanisms of Neurovascular Dysfunction in Acute Ischemic Brain 
Current medicinal chemistry  2014;21(18):2035-2042.
The neurovascular unit is now well accepted as a conceptual framework for investigating the mechanisms of ischemic stroke. From a molecular and cellular perspective, three broad mechanisms may underlie stroke pathophysiology – excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation. To date, however, most investigations of these basic mechanisms have focused on neuronal responses. In this mini-review, we ask whether these mechanisms of excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation can also be examined in terms of non-neuronal interactions in the neurovascular unit, including the release of extracellular vesicles for cell-cell signaling.
PMCID: PMC4066327  PMID: 24372202
Neurovascular unit; stroke; neuronal cell death; neuroprotection; extracellular vesicles; cell-cell interaction
6.  Association of Circulating C1q/TNF-Related Protein 1 Levels with Coronary Artery Disease in Men 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99846.
Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Recent evidence demonstrates that dysregulation of fat-derived hormones, also known as adipokines, is linked with the pathogenesis of obesity-related disorders including coronary artery disease (CAD). Here, we investigated whether circulating level of an adipokine C1q/TNF-related protein (CTRP) 1 is associated with the prevalence of CAD.
Methods and Results
Consecutive 76 male CAD patients were enrolled from inpatients that underwent coronary angiography. Sixty four healthy male subjects served as controls. Plasma CTRP1 concentration was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. CTRP1 levels were correlated positively with systolic blood pressure (BP) and triglyceride levels, and negatively with HDL cholesterol levels in all subjects. Plasma levels of CTRP1 were significantly higher in CAD patients than in control subjects (CAD: 443.3±18.6 ng/ml, control: 307.8±21.5 ng/ml, p<0.001). Multiple logistic regression analysis with body mass index, systolic BP, glucose, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, adiponectin and CTRP1 revealed that CTRP1 levels, together with systolic BP and HDL cholesterol, correlated with CAD.
Our data indicate the close association of high CTRP1 levels with CAD prevalence, suggesting that CTRP1 represents a novel biomarker for CAD.
PMCID: PMC4063765  PMID: 24945145
7.  High-mobility group box 1 from reactive astrocytes enhances the accumulation of endothelial progenitor cells in damaged white matter 
Journal of neurochemistry  2012;10.1111/jnc.12120.
High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) was initially described as a damage-associated-molecular-pattern (DAMP) mediator that worsens acute brain injury after stroke. But recent findings suggest that HMGB1 can play a surprisingly beneficial role during stroke recovery by promoting endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) function and vascular remodeling in cortical gray matter. Here, we ask whether HMGB1 may also influence EPC responses in white matter injury. The standard lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) injection model was used to induce focal demyelination in the corpus callosum of mice. Immunostaining showed that within the focal white matter lesions, HMGB1 was upregulated in GFAP-positive reactive astrocytes, along with the accumulation of Flk1/CD34-double positive EPCs that expressed pro-recovery mediators such as brain derived neurotrophic factor and basic fibroblast growth factor. Astrocyte-EPC signaling required the HMGB1 receptor RAGE since treatment with anti-RAGE antibodies significantly decreased EPC accumulation. Moreover, suppression of HMGB1 with siRNA in vivo significantly decreased EPC numbers in damaged white matter as well as proliferated endothelial cell numbers. Finally, in vitro cell culture systems confirmed that HMGB1 directly affected EPC function such as migration and tube formation. Taken together, our findings suggest that HMGB1 from reactive astrocytes may attract EPCs to promote recovery after white matter injury.
PMCID: PMC3604050  PMID: 23227954
endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs); high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1); reactive astrocytes; white matter injury; white matter remodeling; neurovascular unit
8.  Prognostic Factors for Myositis-Associated Interstitial Lung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98824.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a common manifestation of polymyositis (PM), dermatomyositis (DM), and clinically amyopathic dermatomyositis (CADM); however, little is known about the factors influencing the prognosis for PM/DM/CADM-associated ILD. (PM/DM/CADM-ILD). The aim of the present study is to assess prognostic factors for PM/DM/CADM-ILD.
The clinical features and survival of 114 consecutive patients diagnosed with PM/DM/CADM-ILD (39 men and 75 women; median age, 56 years) were analyzed retrospectively.
The study group included 30 PM-associated ILD, 41 DM-associated ILD, and 43 CADM-associated ILD cases. The clinical presentation of ILD was acute/subacute form in 59 patients (51.8%) and chronic form in 55 patients (48.2%). The major pulmonary symptoms were dyspnea, cough, and fever. High-resolution computed tomography frequently revealed ground-glass opacities, traction bronchiectasis, and consolidation. Most of the patients were treated with corticosteroids or corticosteroids in combination with immunosuppressive agents. The all-cause mortality was 27.2%. Acute/subacute form, % forced vital capacity (FVC), age, % of neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and a diagnosis of CADM (vs. PM) were significantly associated with poor outcome in univariate Cox proportional hazards models. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis validated acute/subacute ILD, %FVC, age, and diagnosis of CADM (vs. PM) as significant predictors of overall mortality. Patients with acute/subacute ILD had a much lower survival rate than those with the chronic form (p<0.001). Patients with CADM-ILD had a lower survival rate than those with PM-ILD (p = 0.034).
Acute/subacute form, older age, lower level of FVC and diagnosis of CADM predict poor outcome in PM/DM/CADM-ILD.
PMCID: PMC4048238  PMID: 24905449
9.  The first report of adolescent TAFRO syndrome, a unique clinicopathologic variant of multicentric Castleman’s disease 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:139.
TAFRO syndrome is a unique clinicopathologic variant of multicentric Castleman’s disease that has recently been identified in Japan. It is characterized by a constellation of symptoms: Thrombocytopenia, Anasarca, reticulin Fibrosis of the bone marrow, Renal dysfunction and Organomegaly (TAFRO). Previous reports have shown that affected patients usually respond to immunosuppressive therapy, but the disease sometimes has a fatal course. TAFRO syndrome occurs in the middle-aged and elderly and there are no prior reports of the disease in adolescents. Here we report the first adolescent case, successfully treated with anti-IL-6 receptor antibody (tocilizumab, TCZ) and monitored with serial cytokine profiles.
Case presentation
A 15-year-old Japanese boy was referred to us with fever of unknown origin. Whole body computed tomography demonstrated systemic lymphadenopathy, organomegaly and anasarca. Laboratory tests showed elevated C-reactive protein and hypoproteinemia. Bone marrow biopsy revealed a hyperplastic marrow with megakaryocytic hyperplasia and mild reticulin fibrosis. Despite methylprednisolone pulse therapy, the disease progressed markedly to respiratory distress, acute renal failure, anemia and thrombocytopenia. Serum and plasma levels of cytokines, including IL-6, vascular endothelial growth factor, neopterin and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors I and II, were markedly elevated. Repeated weekly TCZ administration dramatically improved the patient’s symptoms and laboratory tests showed decreasing cytokine levels.
To our knowledge, this is the first report of TAFRO syndrome in a young patient, suggesting that this disease can occur even in adolescence. The patient was successfully treated with TCZ. During our patient’s clinical course, monitoring cytokine profiles was useful to assess the disease activity of TAFRO syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4088371  PMID: 24890946
Thrombocytopenia; Anasarca; reticulin Fibrosis of the bone marrow; Renal dysfunction; Organomegaly; Tocilizumab; IL-6; VEGF; Neopterin; Soluble TNF-receptors
10.  Interleukin-4-induced β-catenin regulates the conversion of macrophages to multinucleated giant cells 
Molecular immunology  2012;54(2):157-163.
The cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) exerts pleiotropic effects on macrophages as it plays a key role in the immune response to infectious agents, allergens, and vaccines. Macrophages exposed to IL-4 drastically change their gene expression and metabolic state to adjust to new functional requirements. IL-4 also induces macrophages to fuse together and form multinucleated giant cells (MGCs). MGC formation is associated with chronic inflammation resulting from persistence of pathogenic microorganisms or foreign materials in tissues. Very little is known, however, about the mechanisms regulating IL-4-induced macrophage-to-MGC conversion. We observed a dramatic increase in β-catenin protein but not mRNA amount in mouse macrophages following exposure to IL-4. To investigate the role of β-catenin in macrophages, we generated mice with a myeloid cell-specific deletion of the β-catenin gene. Ablation of β-catenin expression did not affect the viability of macrophages or impair expression of known IL-4-inducible genes. Intriguingly, β-catenin-deficient macrophages incubated with IL-4 formed MGCs with markedly greater efficiency than wild-type macrophages. Similar increases in multinucleated cell formation were detected in the peritoneal cavity of myeloid cell-specific β-catenin knockout mice injected with chitin, which is known to induce endogenous IL-4 production. Our findings reveal β-catenin as a novel regulator of macrophage responses to IL-4, and suggest that therapeutic modulation of its expression or function may help enhance the effectiveness or ameliorate the pathology of IL-4-driven immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3563716  PMID: 23287596
Macrophage; Cytokine; Beta-catenin
11.  Differential Roles of ASK1 and TAK1 in Helicobacter pylori-Induced Cellular Responses 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(12):4551-4560.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway regulates various cellular functions, including those induced by Helicobacter pylori. TAK1 is an upstream MAPK kinase kinase (MAP3K) required for H. pylori-induced MAPK and NF-κB activation, but it remains unclear whether other MAP3Ks are involved in H. pylori-induced cellular responses. In this study, we focused on the MAP3K ASK1, which plays a critical role in gastric tumorigenesis. In gastric epithelial cells, H. pylori activates ASK1 in a reactive oxygen species (ROS)- and cag pathogenicity island-dependent manner, and ASK1 regulates sustained JNK activation and apoptosis induced by H. pylori. In contrast, TAK1 regulates H. pylori-mediated early JNK activation and cytokine production. We also found reciprocal regulation between ASK1 and TAK1 in H. pylori-related responses, whereby inhibition of TAK1 or downstream p38 MAPK activates ASK1 through ROS production, and ASK1 suppresses TAK1 and downstream NF-κB activation. We identified ROS/ASK1/JNK as a new signaling pathway induced by H. pylori, which regulates apoptotic cell death. The balance of ASK1-induced apoptosis and TAK1-induced antiapoptotic or inflammatory responses may determine the fate of epithelial cells infected with H. pylori and thus be involved in the pathogenesis of gastritis and gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC3837986  PMID: 24082073
12.  Rethinking the superficial inferior epigastric artery flap in breast reconstruction: Video demonstration of a rapid, reliable harvest technique 
Abdominal-based autologous free tissue breast reconstruction has undergone significant changes over the past decade. The evolution has focused on limiting morbidity of the donor site. The transition from the transverse rectus abdominus muscle free flap to the muscle-sparing transverse rectus abdominus muscle free flap to the deep inferior epigastric artery perforator free flap has markedly improved abdominal-based autologous breast reconstruction. However, all of these flaps involve an incision through the anterior rectus fascia and potential damage of intercostal motor and sensory nerves. The superficial inferior epigastric artery flap (SIEA) reliably perfuses the ipsilateral hemiabdomen, yet does not violate the fascia or any motor nerves. As a result, the incidence of hernia, abdominal wall weakness and bulging is essentially eliminated. Nevertheless, use of the SIEA flap remains marginal. Vessel size, dissection difficulties and lack of understanding of the relevant anatomy have limited its acceptance. The present article describes a rapid, reliable and safe dissection technique with an algorithm for harvesting the SIEA flap in autologous breast reconstruction.
PMCID: PMC3891088  PMID: 24431951
Breast reconstruction; Dissection technique; Free flap; SIEA
13.  Assays to Examine Endothelial Cell Migration, Tube Formation, and Gene Expression Profiles 
Common methods for studying angiogenesis in vitro include the tube formation assay, the migration assay, and the study of the endothelial genome. The formation of capillary-like tubes in vitro on basement membrane matrix mimics many steps of the angiogenesis process in vivo and is used widely as a screening test for angiogenic or antiangiogenic factors. Other assays related to the study of angiogenesis include the cell migration assay, the study of gene expression changes during the process of angiogenesis, and the study of endothelial-derived microparticles. Protocols for these procedures will be described here.
PMCID: PMC4035906  PMID: 24510881
Angiogenesis; Endothelial cells; Matrigel matrix; Tube formation; Migration; Transcriptome; Microparticles
14.  “Swimming in resistance”: Co-colonization with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter baumannii or Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
Co-colonization of patients with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Acinetobacter baumannii (AB) or Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is reported to be associated with increased antibiotic resistance and mortality.
CREs isolated between September 2008 and September 2009 were analyzed at Detroit Medical Center. Patients who had an additional isolation of AB or PA during the period spanning 7 days before to 7 days after CRE isolation were considered co-colonized. Molecular typing was used to determine genetic similarity among CRE strains.
Eighty-six unique patient isolates of CREs were analyzed. Thirty-four patients (40%) were co-colonized, and 26 (79%) had AB or PA isolated on the same day as the CRE. High Charlson Comorbidity Index score was an independent predictor for co-colonization. Recent stay at a long-term acute-care facility and previous therapy with antimicrobials with activity only against gram-positive microorganisms also were associated with co-colonization, but did not remain significant independent predictors. Co-colonization was associated with higher levels of resistance to carbapenems among CREs and increased 90-day mortality. Molecular typing revealed CRE polyclonality in co-colonized patients.
Co-colonization is found in patients with the greatest disease burden in the hospital and occurs due to the dissemination of multiple CRE strains. This finding calls into question the practice of cohorting patients with CRE in close proximity to patients with AB or PA.
PMCID: PMC4030534  PMID: 22325727
KPC; CRE; Nonfermenter; Multidrug resistance; Gram negative; HAI; MDRO
15.  Direct induction of ramified microglia-like cells from human monocytes: Dynamic microglial dysfunction in Nasu-Hakola disease 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4957.
Microglia have been implicated in various neurological and psychiatric disorders in rodent and human postmortem studies. However, the dynamic actions of microglia in the living human brain have not been clarified due to a lack of studies dealing with in situ microglia. Herein, we present a novel technique for developing induced microglia-like (iMG) cells from human peripheral blood cells. An optimized cocktail of cytokines, GM-CSF and IL-34, converted human monocytes into iMG cells within 14 days. The iMG cells have microglial characterizations; expressing markers, forming a ramified morphology, and phagocytic activity with various cytokine releases. To confirm clinical utilities, we developed iMG cells from a patient of Nasu-Hakola disease (NHD), which is suggested to be directly caused by microglial dysfunction, and observed that these cells from NHD express delayed but stronger inflammatory responses compared with those from the healthy control. Altogether, the iMG-technique promises to elucidate unresolved aspects of human microglia in various brain disorders.
PMCID: PMC4019954  PMID: 24825127
16.  Spirulina-Templated Metal Microcoils with Controlled Helical Structures for THz Electromagnetic Responses 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4919.
Microstructures in nature are ultrafine and ordered in biological roles, which have attracted material scientists. Spirulina forms three-dimensional helical microstructure, one of remarkable features in nature beyond our current processing technology such as lithography in terms of mass-productivity and structural multiplicity. Spirulina varies its diameter, helical pitch, and/or length against growing environment. This unique helix is suggestive of a tiny electromagnetic coil, if composed of electro-conductive metal, which brought us main concept of this work. Here, we describe the biotemplating process onto Spirulina surface to fabricate metal microcoils. Structural parameters of the microcoil can be controlled by the cultivation conditions of Spirulina template and also purely one-handed microcoil can be fabricated. A microcoil dispersion sheet exhibited optically active response attributed to structural resonance in terahertz-wave region.
PMCID: PMC4017220  PMID: 24815190
17.  Cloning and Heterologous Expression of the Thioviridamide Biosynthesis Gene Cluster from Streptomyces olivoviridis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(22):7110-7113.
Thioviridamide is a unique peptide antibiotic containing five thioamide bonds from Streptomyces olivoviridis. Draft genome sequencing revealed a gene (the tvaA gene) encoding the thioviridamide precursor peptide. The thioviridamide biosynthesis gene cluster was identified by heterologous production of thioviridamide in Streptomyces lividans.
PMCID: PMC3811549  PMID: 23995943
18.  Origin of Efferent Fibers of the Renal Plexus in the Rat Autonomic Nervous System 
To clarify the origin of efferent nerves containing renal plexus, the retrograde neuronal tracing was utilized with a new exact closed injection system with microcapsules. The microcapsule was positioned in the rat left renal plexus, and the capsule was filled with fluoro-gold. Retrograde labeled cells were observed in the ipsilateral sympathetic trunk, especially T12 and T13, and the ipsilateral suprarenal ganglia (SrG). There were no labeled cells in the parasympathetic nuclei in medulla oblongata and sacral cords. These results indicated that the origins of efferent nerves in the rat renal plexus are almost all sympathetic ganglia, such as sympathetic trunk and SrG, and cells in other ganglia may be secondary or accessory innervations.
PMCID: PMC4073349  PMID: 24430660
autonomic nervous system; fluorogold; kidney
19.  Your Morals Depend on Language 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94842.
Should you sacrifice one man to save five? Whatever your answer, it should not depend on whether you were asked the question in your native language or a foreign tongue so long as you understood the problem. And yet here we report evidence that people using a foreign language make substantially more utilitarian decisions when faced with such moral dilemmas. We argue that this stems from the reduced emotional response elicited by the foreign language, consequently reducing the impact of intuitive emotional concerns. In general, we suggest that the increased psychological distance of using a foreign language induces utilitarianism. This shows that moral judgments can be heavily affected by an orthogonal property to moral principles, and importantly, one that is relevant to hundreds of millions of individuals on a daily basis.
PMCID: PMC3997430  PMID: 24760073
20.  Development of an Umami Taste Sensitivity Test and Its Clinical Use 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95177.
There is a close relationship between perception of umami, which has become recognized as the fifth taste, and the human physical condition. We have developed a clinical test for umami taste sensitivity using a filter paper disc with a range of six monosodium glutamate (MSG) concentrations. We recruited 28 patients with taste disorders (45–78 years) and 184 controls with no taste disorders (102 young [18–25 years] and 82 older [65–89 years] participants). Filter paper discs (5 mm dia.) were soaked in aqueous MSG solutions (1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 200 mM), then placed on three oral sites innervated by different taste nerves. The lowest concentration participants correctly identified was defined as the recognition threshold (RT) for MSG. This test showed good reproducibility for inter- and intra-observer variability. We concluded that: (1) The RT of healthy controls differed at measurement sites innervated by different taste nerves; that is, the RT of the anterior tongue was higher than that of either the posterior tongue or the soft palate in both young and older individuals. (2) No significant difference in RT was found between young adults and older individuals at any measurement site. (3) The RT of patients with taste disorders was higher before treatment than that of the healthy controls at any measurement site. (4) The RT after treatment in these patients improved to the same level as that of the healthy controls. (5) The cutoff values of RT, showing the highest diagnostic accuracy (true positives + true negatives), were 200 mM MSG for AT and 50 mM MSG for PT and SP. The diagnostic accuracy at these cutoff values was 0.92, 0.87 and 0.86 for AT, PT and SP, respectively. Consequently, this umami taste sensitivity test is useful for discriminating between normal and abnormal umami taste sensations.
PMCID: PMC3991614  PMID: 24748056
21.  High-Mobility Group Box 1: An Amplifier of Stem and Progenitor Cell Activity After Stroke 
Stroke induces a highly complex web of pathophysiology that usually leads to serious long-term disability. Molecules from the damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) family immediately increase after stroke. DAMPs are known to cause massive inflammation and brain damage. Thus, they may be targets for neuroprotection. However, emerging data now suggest that DAMPs may not always be detrimental. The high-mobility group box1 (HMGB1) protein is discussed as an example of this idea. During the acute phase after stroke, HMGB1 amplifies neuroinflammation. But during the brain remodeling phase of stroke recovery, HMGB1 can mediate beneficial plasticity and enhance stem and progenitor cell recruitment, proliferation, and differentiation within damaged brain. These emerging findings support the hypothesis that HMGB1 might be an important molecule for regulating stem and progenitor cell therapies in stroke patients.
PMCID: PMC3985720  PMID: 23564100
Stroke; HMGB1; Inflammation; Stem cells; Brain remodeling
22.  Injury and repair in the neurovascular unit 
Neurological research  2012;34(4):325-330.
The neurovascular unit provides a conceptual framework for investigating the pathophysiology of how brain cells die after stroke, brain injury, and neurodegeneration. Emerging data now suggest that this concept can be further extended. Cell–cell signaling between neuronal, glial, and vascular elements in the brain not only mediates the mechanisms of acute injury. But integrated responses in these same elements may also be required for recovery as the entire neurovascular unit attempts to reorganize and remodel. Understanding the common signals and substrates of this transition between acute injury and delayed repair in the neurovascular unit may reveal useful paradigms for augmenting neuronal, glial, and vascular plasticity in damaged and diseased brain.
PMCID: PMC3985722  PMID: 22643075
Neuron; Astrocyte; Pericyte; Microglia; Endothelium; Plasticity; Stroke; Traumatic brain injury; Neurodegeneration
23.  Imaging of Contrast Medium Extravasation in Anticoagulation-Associated Intracerebral Hemorrhage With Dual-Energy Computed Tomography 
Background and Purpose
Contrast medium extravasation (CE) in intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is a marker of ongoing bleeding and a predictor of hematoma expansion. The aims of the study were to establish an ICH model in which CE can be quantified, characterized in ICH during warfarin and dabigatran anticoagulation, and to evaluate effects of prothrombin complex concentrates on CE in warfarin-associated ICH.
CD 1-mice were pretreated orally with warfarin, dabigatran, or vehicle. Prothrombin complex concentrates were administered in a subgroup of warfarin-treated mice. ICH was induced by stereotactic injection of collagenase VIIs into the right striatum. Contrast agent (350 µL Isovue 370 mg/mL) was injected intravenously after ICH induction (2–3.5 hours). Thirty minutes later, mice were euthanized, and CE was measured by quantifying the iodine content in the hematoma using dual-energy computed tomography.
The optimal time point for contrast injection was found to be 3 hours after ICH induction, allowing detection of both an increase and a decrease of CE using dual-energy computed tomography. CE was higher in the warfarin group compared with the controls (P=0.002). There was no significant difference in CE between dabigatran-treated mice and controls. CE was higher in the sham-treated warfarin group than in the prothrombin complex concentrates–treated warfarin group (P<0.001).
Dual-energy computed tomography allows quantifying CE, as a marker of ongoing bleeding, in a model of anticoagulation-associated ICH. Dabigatran induces less CE in ICH than warfarin and consequently reduces risks of hematoma expansion. This constitutes a potential safety advantage of dabigatran over warfarin. Nevertheless, in case of warfarin anticoagulation, prothrombin complex concentrates reduce this side effect.
PMCID: PMC3985727  PMID: 23920016
anticoagulation; contrast extravasation; dabigatran; dual-energy CT; hematoma expansion; intracerebral hemorrhage; PCC treatment; warfarin
24.  Oxidative Stress Interferes With White Matter Renewal After Prolonged Cerebral Hypoperfusion in Mice 
Background and Purpose
White matter injury caused by cerebral hypoperfusion may contribute to the pathophysiology of vascular dementia and stroke, but the underlying mechanisms remain to be fully defined. Here, we test the hypothesis that oxidative stress interferes with endogenous white matter repair by disrupting renewal processes mediated by oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs).
In vitro, primary rat OPCs were exposed to sublethal CoCl2 for 7 days to induce prolonged chemical hypoxic stress. Then, OPC proliferation/differentiation was assessed. In vivo, prolonged cerebral hypoperfusion was induced by bilateral common carotid artery stenosis in mice. Then, reactive oxygen species production, myelin density, oligodendrocyte versus OPC counts, and cognitive function were evaluated. To block oxidative stress, OPCs and mice were treated with the radical scavenger edaravone.
Prolonged chemical hypoxic stress suppressed OPC differentiation in vitro. Radical scavenging with edaravone ameliorated these effects. After 28 days of cerebral hypoperfusion in vivo, reactive oxygen species levels were increased in damaged white matter, along with the suppression of OPC-to-oligodendrocyte differentiation and loss of myelin staining. Concomitantly, mice showed functional deficits in working memory. Radical scavenging with edaravone rescued OPC differentiation, ameliorated myelin loss, and restored working memory function.
Our proof-of-concept study demonstrates that after prolonged cerebral hypoperfusion, oxidative stress interferes with white matter repair by disrupting OPC renewal mechanisms. Radical scavengers may provide a potential therapeutic approach for white matter injury in vascular dementia and stroke.
PMCID: PMC3985753  PMID: 24072001
mice; oligodendrocyte; reactive oxygen species; white matter diseases
25.  Evaluation of an Automated Rapid Diagnostic Assay for Detection of Gram-Negative Bacteria and Their Drug-Resistance Genes in Positive Blood Cultures 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94064.
We evaluated the performance of the Verigene Gram-Negative Blood Culture Nucleic Acid Test (BC-GN; Nanosphere, Northbrook, IL, USA), an automated multiplex assay for rapid identification of positive blood cultures caused by 9 Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) and for detection of 9 genes associated with β-lactam resistance. The BC-GN assay can be performed directly from positive blood cultures with 5 minutes of hands-on and 2 hours of run time per sample. A total of 397 GNB positive blood cultures were analyzed using the BC-GN assay. Of the 397 samples, 295 were simulated samples prepared by inoculating GNB into blood culture bottles, and the remaining were clinical samples from 102 patients with positive blood cultures. Aliquots of the positive blood cultures were tested by the BC-GN assay. The results of bacterial identification between the BC-GN assay and standard laboratory methods were as follows: Acinetobacter spp. (39 isolates for the BC-GN assay/39 for the standard methods), Citrobacter spp. (7/7), Escherichia coli (87/87), Klebsiella oxytoca (13/13), and Proteus spp. (11/11); Enterobacter spp. (29/30); Klebsiella pneumoniae (62/72); Pseudomonas aeruginosa (124/125); and Serratia marcescens (18/21); respectively. From the 102 clinical samples, 104 bacterial species were identified with the BC-GN assay, whereas 110 were identified with the standard methods. The BC-GN assay also detected all β-lactam resistance genes tested (233 genes), including 54 blaCTX-M, 119 blaIMP, 8 blaKPC, 16 blaNDM, 24 blaOXA-23, 1 blaOXA-24/40, 1 blaOXA-48, 4 blaOXA-58, and 6 blaVIM. The data shows that the BC-GN assay provides rapid detection of GNB and β-lactam resistance genes in positive blood cultures and has the potential to contributing to optimal patient management by earlier detection of major antimicrobial resistance genes.
PMCID: PMC3976387  PMID: 24705449

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