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1.  A Descriptive Model of Patient Readiness, Motivators, and Hepatitis C Treatment Uptake among Australian Prisoners 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87564.
Hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) has a significant global health burden with an estimated 2%–3% of the world's population infected, and more than 350,000 dying annually from HCV-related conditions including liver failure and liver cancer. Prisons potentially offer a relatively stable environment in which to commence treatment as they usually provide good access to health care providers, and are organised around routine and structure. Uptake of treatment of HCV, however, remains low in the community and in prisons. In this study, we explored factors affecting treatment uptake inside prisons and hypothesised that prisoners have unique issues influencing HCV treatment uptake as a consequence of their incarceration which are not experienced in other populations.
Method and Findings
We undertook a qualitative study exploring prisoners' accounts of why they refused, deferred, delayed or discontinued HCV treatment in prison. Between 2010 and 2013, 116 Australian inmates were interviewed from prisons in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. Prisoners experienced many factors similar to those which influence treatment uptake of those living with HCV infection in the community. Incarceration, however, provides different circumstances of how these factors are experienced which need to be better understood if the number of prisoners receiving treatment is to be increased. We developed a descriptive model of patient readiness and motivators for HCV treatment inside prisons and discussed how we can improve treatment uptake among prisoners.
This study identified a broad and unique range of challenges to treatment of HCV in prison. Some of these are likely to be diminished by improving treatment options and improved models of health care delivery. Other barriers relate to inmate understanding of their illness and stigmatisation by other inmates and custodial staff and generally appear less amenable to change although there is potential for peer-based education to address lack of knowledge and stigma.
PMCID: PMC3937313  PMID: 24586281
2.  Spending of HIV resources in Asia and Eastern Europe: systematic review reveals the need to shift funding allocations towards priority populations 
It is increasingly important to prioritize the most cost-effective HIV interventions. We sought to summarize the evidence on which types of interventions provide the best value for money in regions with concentrated HIV epidemics.
We conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed and grey literature reporting measurements of cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit for HIV/AIDS interventions in Asia and Eastern Europe. We also collated HIV/AIDS spending assessment data from case-study countries in the region.
We identified 91 studies for inclusion, 47 of which were from peer-reviewed journals. Generally, in concentrated settings, prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes and prevention programmes targeting people who inject drugs and sex workers had lower incremental cost-effectiveness ratios than programmes aimed at the general population. The few studies evaluating programmes targeting men who have sex with men indicate moderate cost-effectiveness. Collation of prevention programme spending data from 12 countries in the region (none of which had generalized epidemics) indicated that resources for the general population/non-targeted was greater than 30% for eight countries and greater than 50% for five countries.
There is a misalignment between national spending on HIV/AIDS responses and the most affected populations across the region. In concentrated epidemics, scarce funding should be directed more towards most-at-risk populations. Reaching consensus on general principles of cost-effectiveness of programmes by epidemic settings is difficult due to inconsistent evaluation approaches. Adopting a standard costing, impact evaluation, benefits calculation, analysis and reporting framework would enable cross comparisons and improve HIV resource prioritization and allocation.
PMCID: PMC3936108  PMID: 24572053
HIV; cost-benefit analyses; programme evaluation; systematic review; concentrated epidemics; Asia; Eastern Europe; cost-effectiveness
3.  Artesunate/dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics in acute falciparum malaria in pregnancy: absorption, bioavailability, disposition and disease effects 
To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance.
In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4 mg kg−1) on the first day and oral ARS (4 mg kg−1) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4 mg kg−1 day−1) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum).
I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n = 20) and in controls (n = 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ng ml−1 h)/(mg kg−1)] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P = 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P = 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P = 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P = 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P = 0.084).
This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3370352  PMID: 21950338
artesunate; dihyroartemisinin; malaria; pharmacokinetics; post partum; pregnancy
4.  Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Survival of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the Ontario Population; A Population-Based Study, 1990–2009 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40917.
Research has shown that people from higher socioeconomic status (SES) have better hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) survival outcomes, although no such research has been carried out in Canada. We aimed to assess if an association between SES and HCC survival existed in the Canadian context.
Methodology/Prinicpal Findings
We conducted a population-based cohort study linking HCC cases identified in the Ontario Cancer Registry between 1990 and 2009 to administrative and hospital data. Logistic regression and chi-squared tests were used to evaluate associations between SES (income quintile) and covariates. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate survival. Sequential analysis of the proportional-hazards models were used to determine the association between SES and HCC survival controlling for potential prognostic covariates. During the period 1990–2009, 5,481 cases of HCC were identified. A significant association was found between SES and curative treatment (p = 0.0003), but no association was found between SES and non-curative treatment (p = 0.064), palliative treatment (p = 0.680), or ultrasound screening (p = 0.615). The median survival for the lowest SES was 8.5 months, compared to 8.8 months for the highest SES group. The age- and sex-adjusted proportional-hazards model showed statistically significant difference in HCC survival among the SES groups, with hazard ratio 0.905 (95% confidence intervals 0.821, 0.998) when comparing highest to lowest SES group. Further adjustments indicated that potentially curative treatment was the likely explanation for the association between SES and HCC survival.
Our findings suggest that a 10% HCC survival advantage exists for the higher SES groups. This association between SES and HCC survival is most likely a reflection of lack of access to care for low SES groups, revealing inequities in the Canadian healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3396620  PMID: 22808283
5.  Pharmacokinetics of Dihydroartemisinin and Piperaquine in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women with Uncomplicated Falciparum Malaria▿† 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(12):5500-5506.
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Some antimalarials have altered pharmacokinetics in pregnancy. Pregnant women in the 2nd or 3rd trimester and matched nonpregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were treated with a total of 6.4 mg/kg of body weight dihydroartemisinin and 51.2 mg/kg piperaquine once daily for 3 days. Venous blood samples were drawn at prespecified time points over 9 weeks. Plasma dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine concentrations were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics were well described. There were no significant differences in total piperaquine exposure (P = 0.80) or drug exposure during the terminal elimination phase (72 h to infinity) (P = 0.64) between the two groups. The apparent volume of distribution of piperaquine was significantly smaller (602 liters/kg versus 877 liters/kg) in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women (P = 0.0057), and the terminal elimination half-life was significantly shorter (17.8 days versus 25.6 days; P = 0.0023). Dihydroartemisinin exposure after the first dose was significantly lower (844 h × ng/ml versus 1,220 h × ng/ml, P = 0.0021) in pregnant women, but there were no significant differences in total dihydroartemisinin exposure or maximum concentrations between the two groups. There were no significant differences in any pharmacokinetic parameters between the second and third trimester. These results obtained through noncompartmental analysis suggest that in the treatment of falciparum malaria, there are no clinically important differences in the pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin or piperaquine between pregnant and nonpregnant women. However, a more detailed analysis using population pharmacokinetic modeling is needed to fully investigate the differences found for some of the pharmacokinetic parameters, such as the terminal half-life.
PMCID: PMC3232755  PMID: 21947392
6.  Health status utilities and the impact of pressure ulcers in long-term care residents in Ontario 
Quality of Life Research  2009;19(1):81-89.
To estimate health status utilities in long-term care (LTC) residents in Ontario, both with and without pressure ulcers (PUs), and to determine the impact of PU on health-related quality of life (HRQOL).
A retrospective population-based study was carried out using Minimum Data Set (MDS) health assessment data among all residents in 89 LTC homes in Ontario who had a full MDS assessment between May 2004 and November 2007. The Minimum Data Set-Health Status Index (MDS-HSI) was used to measure HRQOL. A stepwise regression was used to determine the impact of PU on MDS-HSI scores.
A total of 1,498 (9%) of 16,531 LTC residents had at least one stage II PU or higher. The mean ± SD MDS-HSI scores of LTC residents without PU and those with PU were 0.36 ± 0.17 and 0.26 ± 0.13, respectively (p < 0.001). Factors associated with lower MDS-HSI scores included: older age; being female; having a PU; recent hip fracture; multiple comorbid conditions; bedfast; incontinence; Changes in Health, End-stage disease and Symptoms and Signs; clinically important depression; treated with a turning/repositioning program; taking antipsychotic medications; and use of restraints.
LTC residents with PU had slightly though statistically significantly lower HRQOL than those without PU. Comorbidity contributed substantially to the low HRQOL in these populations. Community-weighted MDS-HSI utilities for LTC residents are useful for cost-effectiveness analyses and help guide health policy development.
PMCID: PMC2804787  PMID: 20033300
Health-related quality of life; Long-term care; Minimum Data Set; Health Status Index; Ontario/Canada; Utilities
7.  Health-state utilities in a prisoner population: a cross-sectional survey 
Health-state utilities for prisoners have not been described.
We used data from a 1996 cross-sectional survey of Australian prisoners (n = 734). Respondent-level SF-36 data was transformed into utility scores by both the SF-6D and Nichol's method. Socio-demographic and clinical predictors of SF-6D utility were assessed in univariate analyses and a multivariate general linear model.
The overall mean SF-6D utility was 0.725 (SD 0.119). When subdivided by various medical conditions, prisoner SF-6D utilities ranged from 0.620 for angina to 0.764 for those with none/mild depressive symptoms. Utilities derived by the Nichol's method were higher than SF-6D scores, often by more than 0.1. In multivariate analysis, significant independent predictors of worse utility included female gender, increasing age, increasing number of comorbidities and more severe depressive symptoms.
The utilities presented may prove useful for future economic and decision models evaluating prison-based health programs.
PMCID: PMC2741437  PMID: 19715571
8.  Biological and Molecular Characteristics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Clinical Isolates with Low-Level Resistance to Isoniazid in Japan▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(7):2263-2268.
We reevaluated the BACTEC MGIT 960 antimicrobial susceptibility testing system (MGIT 960 AST) by using 1,112 isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. When the results of MGIT 960 AST were compared with that of the proportion method using Ogawa medium (Ogawa PM), discrepant results were obtained for 30 strains with isoniazid, all resistant by MGIT 960 AST but susceptible by Ogawa PM. For 93% of the strains that produced discrepant results, the MIC was 0.4 or 0.8 μg/ml, showing resistance by the proportion method using Middlebrook agar plates. Furthermore, it was also established by analyses of the katG and inhA genes that strains resistant only by MGIT 960 AST have a low level of isoniazid (INH) resistance, indicating that MGIT 960 AST is a reliable method. Ninety-six strains were resistant to 0.1 μg/ml INH by MGIT 960 AST. When they were divided into three groups, Low-S (susceptible at 0.2 μg/ml), Low-R (resistant at 0.2 μg/ml), and High-R (resistant at 1.0 μg/ml), by Ogawa PM, 43.3% of the Low-S strains had mutations in the promoter region of inhA and no mutations were detected in katG codon 315, while 61.7% of the High-R strains had katG codon 315 mutations or a gross deletion of katG. These results suggest that mutations in inhA are associated with low-level resistance to INH and katG codon 315 mutations are associated with high-level resistance to INH. In addition, the analyses demonstrated some relationship of mutations in the inhA gene with ethionamide resistance for the Low-S strains, but not for the High-R strains.
PMCID: PMC2446907  PMID: 18508939
9.  The Effect of Hepatitis C Virus Infection on Health-Related Quality of Life in Prisoners 
Journal of Urban Health   2006;83(2):275-288.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in prisoners represents an important public health problem. However, there is very little information about HCV-related health-related quality of life (HRQOL). We examined the effect of HCV antibody positivity, HCV viremia, and being a prisoner on prisoners'' HRQOL. Population-based health surveys incorporating HCV screening were conducted among prisoners at New South Wales (NSW), Australia, correctional centers in 1996 and 2001. HCV antibody and HCV RNA status were determined from venous blood sampling. HRQOL and mood status were assessed using the Short Form-36 (SF-36) Health Survey and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Comparison of HRQOL scores between HCV antibody negative, HCV antibody positive/non-viremic, and HCV antibody positive/viremic and assessment of temporal change in HRQOL between 1996 and 2001 within groups were made using ANCOVA adjusting for confounders. Factors associated with HRQOL were determined in linear regression models. Analyses between HCV antibody negative (n = 423), HCV positive/non-viremic (n = 89), and HCV positive/viremic (n = 178) prisoners found no measurable effect of HCV on HRQOL, including that attributable to HCV viremia. Compared to uninfected Australian population norms, prisoners had lower HRQOL irrespective of HCV status. The prevalence of ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ depressive symptoms was greater in the HCV antibody positive/viremic group than the HCV antibody positive/non-viremic group or the HCV antibody negative group. Selected demographic factors (age), co-morbidity, severity of depressive symptoms and medical care utilization influenced HRQOL. There was evidence to support the effect of knowledge of HCV status on HRQOL. In conclusion, our findings contrast with previous studies in non-prisoner groups in which HCV infection appears to decrease overall HRQOL. Non-HCV factors may override HCV-specific HRQOL impairment in this population. Targeted management strategies are required to improve HRQOL of prisoners.
PMCID: PMC2527173  PMID: 16736376
Australia; HCV; Prisoner; Quality of life; SF-36
10.  Artesunate/dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics in acute falciparum malaria in pregnancy: absorption, bioavailability, disposition and disease effects 
To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance.
In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4 mg kg−1) on the first day and oral ARS (4 mg kg−1) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4 mg kg−1 day−1) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum).
I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n = 20) and in controls (n = 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ng ml−1 h)/(mg kg−1)] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P = 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P = 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P = 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P = 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P = 0.084).
This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3370352  PMID: 21950338
artesunate; dihyroartemisinin; malaria; pharmacokinetics; post partum; pregnancy
11.  Defective sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1) phosphorylation exacerbates TH17-mediated autoimmune neuroinflammation 
Nature immunology  2013;14(11):1166-1172.
Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) signaling regulates lymphocyte egress from lymphoid organs into systemic circulation. Sphingosine phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1) agonist, FTY-720 (Gilenya™) arrests immune trafficking and prevents multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses. However, alternative mechanisms of S1P-S1P1 signaling have been reported. Phosphoproteomic analysis of MS brain lesions revealed S1P1 phosphorylation on S351, a residue crucial for receptor internalization. Mutant mice harboring a S1pr1 gene encoding phosphorylation-deficient receptors [S1P1(S5A)] developed severe experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) due to T helper (TH) 17-mediated autoimmunity in the peripheral immune and nervous system. S1P1 directly activated Janus-like kinase–signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (JAK-STAT3) pathway via interleukin 6 (IL-6). Impaired S1P1 phosphorylation enhances TH17 polarization and exacerbates autoimmune neuroinflammation. These mechanisms may be pathogenic in MS.
PMCID: PMC4014310  PMID: 24076635
12.  Increased Prevalence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Adults 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(9):1006-1014.
Sleep-disordered breathing is a common disorder with a range of harmful sequelae. Obesity is a strong causal factor for sleep-disordered breathing, and because of the ongoing obesity epidemic, previous estimates of sleep-disordered breathing prevalence require updating. We estimated the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in the United States for the periods of 1988–1994 and 2007–2010 using data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, an ongoing community-based study that was established in 1988 with participants randomly selected from an employed population of Wisconsin adults. A total of 1,520 participants who were 30–70 years of age had baseline polysomnography studies to assess the presence of sleep-disordered breathing. Participants were invited for repeat studies at 4-year intervals. The prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing was modeled as a function of age, sex, and body mass index, and estimates were extrapolated to US body mass index distributions estimated using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The current prevalence estimates of moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing (apnea-hypopnea index, measured as events/hour, ≥15) are 10% (95% confidence interval (CI): 7, 12) among 30–49-year-old men; 17% (95% CI: 15, 21) among 50–70-year-old men; 3% (95% CI: 2, 4) among 30–49-year-old women; and 9% (95% CI: 7, 11) among 50–70 year-old women. These estimated prevalence rates represent substantial increases over the last 2 decades (relative increases of between 14% and 55% depending on the subgroup).
PMCID: PMC3639722  PMID: 23589584
adult; middle age; obesity; sleep
13.  Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P)/S1P receptor 1 signaling regulates receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) expression in rheumatoid arthritis 
Biochemical and biophysical research communications  2012;419(2):10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.01.103.
Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P)/S1P receptor 1 (S1P1) signaling plays an important role in synovial cell proliferation and inflammatory gene expression by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synoviocytes. The purpose of this study is to clarify the role of S1P/S1P1 signaling in the expression of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) in RA synoviocytes and CD4+ T cells. We demonstrated MH7A cells, a human RA synovial cell line, and CD4+ T cells expressed S1P1 and RANKL. Surprisingly, S1P increased RANKL expression in MH7A cells and CD4+ T cells in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, S1P enhanced RANKL expression induced by stimulation with TNF-α in MH7A cells and CD4+ T cells. These effects of S1P in MH7A cells were inhibited by pretreatment with PTX, a specific Gi/Go inhibitor. These findings suggest that S1P/S1P1 signaling may play an important role in RANKL expression by MH7A cells and CD4+ T cells. S1P/S1P1 signaling of RA synoviocytes is closely connected with synovial hyperplasia, inflammation, and RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis in RA. Thus, regulation of S1P/S1P1 signaling may become a novel therapeutic target for RA.
PMCID: PMC3857967  PMID: 22326262
Sphingosine 1-phosphate; RANKL; Rheumatoid arthritis
14.  Sphingolipid signaling in metabolic disorders 
Cell metabolism  2012;16(4):420-434.
Sphingolipids, ubiquitous membrane lipids in eukaryotes, carry out a myriad of critical cellular functions. The past two decades have seen significant advances in sphingolipid research and in 2010, a first sphingolipid receptor modulator was employed as a human therapeutic. Further, cellular signaling mechanisms regulated by sphingolipids are being recognized as critical players in metabolic diseases. This review focuses on recent advances in cellular and physiological mechanisms of sphingolipid regulation and how sphingolipid signaling influences metabolic diseases. Progress in this area may contribute to new understanding and therapeutic options in complex diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, metabolic syndromes and cancer.
PMCID: PMC3466368  PMID: 22982021
15.  De novo ocular hypertension after Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty: comparative 3-year incidence, risk factors, and outcomes 
To compare the 3-year incidence of de novo ocular hypertension (OHT) after Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) and penetrating keratoplasty (PK). For DSAEK, to evaluate predictors for OHT and 2-year outcomes after OHT development.
This was a review of the prospective Singapore Corneal Transplant Study at a single tertiary referral center. Consecutive DSAEKs and PKs for Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy (FED) and pseudophakic bullous keratopathy (PBK) in eyes without pre-existing glaucoma were analyzed. OHT incidence after DSAEK and PK were compared using Kaplan–Meier survival analysis, and OHT risk factors identified using Cox proportional regression. OHT was defined: intraocular pressure (IOP) ≥ 24 mmHg or ≥ 10 mmHg from baseline. Secondary outcomes 2 years after OHT development in DSAEK were rates of glaucoma medical therapy failure, IOP success, graft failure and rejection, and best-spectacle corrected visual acuity (BSCVA).
There were 108 (96.4%) DSAEKs and 216 (96%) PKs. The 1-, 2- and 3-year de novo OHT incidence was not significantly different between DSAEK (36.1%, 47.2%, 47.2%, respectively) and PK (35.7%, 44.9%, 45.8%, respectively; P = 0.914). OHT incidence did not differ in subgroup analyses of multiple clinical variables (P > 0.1). OHT predictors after DSAEK were: fellow eye glaucoma (hazard ratio [HR] 3.20, P = 0.004), age <60 years (HR 2.41, P = 0.016), concurrent goniosynechiolysis (HR 3.29, P = 0.021), post-graft complications or procedures (HR 2.85, P = 0.006). Two years after OHT onset, 29.7% of DSAEKs failed glaucoma medical therapy requiring trabeculectomy. Complete and qualified IOP success was achieved in 23.5% and 76.5%, respectively. Graft failure developed in 9.8% and graft rejection in 5.9%. At 6 months, 1, and 2 years from OHT onset, 86.3%, 88.3%, and 92.1% achieved BSCVA 20/40, respectively.
DSAEK and PK have comparable OHT risks. A significant 30% of DSAEK eyes with OHT require filtration surgery. Effective IOP control and good graft and visual outcomes are achieved with treatment.
PMCID: PMC3788681  PMID: 24092962
DSAEK; glaucoma; ocular hypertension; risk factors
16.  Flow-regulated endothelial S1P receptor-1 signaling sustains vascular development 
Developmental cell  2012;23(3):600-610.
During angiogenesis, nascent vascular sprouts fuse to form vascular networks enabling efficient circulation. Mechanisms that stabilize the vascular plexus are not well understood. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a blood-borne lipid mediator implicated in the regulation of vascular and immune systems. Here we describe a mechanism by which the G protein-coupled S1P receptor-1 (S1P1) stabilizes the primary vascular network. A gradient of S1P1 expression from the mature regions of the vascular network to the growing vascular front was observed. In the absence of endothelial S1P1, adherens junctions are destabilized, barrier function is breached, and flow is perturbed resulting in abnormal vascular hypersprouting. Interestingly, S1P1 responds to S1P as well as laminar shear stress to transduce flow-mediated signaling in endothelial cells both in vitro and in vivo. These data demonstrate that blood flow and circulating S1P activate endothelial S1P1 to stabilize blood vessels in development and homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3443394  PMID: 22975328
17.  FTY720 Inhibits Tumor Growth and Enhances the Tumor-Suppressive Effect of Topotecan in Neuroblastoma by Interfering With the Sphingolipid Signaling Pathway 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2013;60(9):1418-1423.
Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extra-cranial solid tumor in childhood. Poor outcomes for children with advanced disease underscore the need for novel therapeutic strategies. FTY720, an immunomodulating drug approved for multiple sclerosis, has been investigated in oncology with promising preclinical activities. To date, its effect in NB has not been explored. Herein we describe our preclinical experience with FTY720, alone or in combination with topotecan, and its putative mechanism of action in NB.
MTT assay was performed to assess the effect of FTY720 on cell viability. A NB xenograft model was employed to assess the efficacy of FTY720 on tumor growth. Quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot were employed to determine changes of mRNA and protein expression, respectively. Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry was used to measure sphingolipid levels.
FTY720, but not FTY720-P induced NB cell death. FTY720 inhibited the growth of NB xenografts and enhanced the tumor-suppressive effect of topotecan both in vitro and in vivo. FTY720 significantly inhibited sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2) mRNA and protein expression in NB cells. Pro-apoptotic sphingosine levels were increased in NB cells and NB xenografts treated with FTY720. FTY720-induced cell death was caspase-independent and involved the dephosphorylation of Akt and BAD at Ser136.
Our data demonstrate that FTY720 has potent preclinical anti-cancer activity in NB. Its unique death signaling mechanism, interference with the sphingolipid pathway, acts cooperatively with that of topotecan, suggesting that FTY720 related molecules may be useful in NB treatment.
PMCID: PMC3751174  PMID: 23704073
apoptosis; FTY720; neuroblastoma; sphingosine; sphingosine kinase 2
18.  Sleep-disordered Breathing and Cancer Mortality 
Rationale: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) has been associated with total and cardiovascular mortality, but an association with cancer mortality has not been studied. Results from in vitro and animal studies suggest that intermittent hypoxia promotes cancer tumor growth.
Objectives: The goal of the present study was to examine whether SDB is associated with cancer mortality in a community-based sample.
Methods: We used 22-year mortality follow-up data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort sample (n = 1,522). SDB was assessed at baseline with full polysomnography. SDB was categorized using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and the hypoxemia index (percent sleep time below 90% oxyhemoglobin saturation). The hazards of cancer mortality across levels of SDB severity were compared using crude and multivariate analyses.
Measurements and Main Results: Adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and smoking, SDB was associated with total and cancer mortality in a dose–response fashion. Compared with normal subjects, the adjusted relative hazards of cancer mortality were 1.1 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.5–2.7) for mild SDB (AHI, 5–14.9), 2.0 (95% CI, 0.7–5.5) for moderate SDB (AHI, 15–29.9), and 4.8 (95% CI, 1.7–13.2) for severe SDB (AHI ≥ 30) (P-trend = 0.0052). For categories of increasing severity of the hypoxemia index, the corresponding relative hazards were 1.6 (95% CI, 0.6–4.4), 2.9 (95% CI, 0.9–9.8), and 8.6 (95% CI, 2.6–28.7).
Conclusions: Our study suggests that baseline SDB is associated with increased cancer mortality in a community-based sample. Future studies that replicate our findings and look at the association between sleep apnea and survival after cancer diagnosis are needed.
PMCID: PMC3406081  PMID: 22610391
cancer; cohort study; mortality; obstructive sleep apnea; sleep-disordered breathing
19.  Enhanced anti-melanoma efficacy of interferon alfa-2b via inhibition of Shp2 
Cancer Letters  2012;320(1):81-85.
Interferon-α2b (IFN-α2b) is used to treat melanoma but there is a need to improve its efficacy. IFN-α2b signaling requires STAT1/STAT2 tyrosine phosphorylation and is subject to negative regulation by phosphatases. In this study, we determined whether inhibition of the protein tyrosine phosphatase Shp2 could enhance IFN-α2b responses in human melanoma cells. Shp2 knockdown increased IFN-α2b-stimulated STAT1 Tyr-701 phosphorylation and ISRE-luciferase activity even though it did not affect STAT2 Tyr-690 phosphorylation in A375 cells. In A375 tumor xenografts, Shp2 knockdown enhanced the anti-melanoma effect of IFN-α2b. Furthermore, the Shp2 inhibitor SPI-112Me increased the IFN-α2b-induced STAT1 activation and anti-proliferative response in A375 and SK-MEL-2 cells. These results demonstrate that inhibition of Shp2 can enhance the anti-melanoma activity of IFN-α2b.
PMCID: PMC3319810  PMID: 22306001
Shp2; STAT1; Melanoma; Interferon
20.  S1P and the birth of platelets 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(12):2137-2140.
Hla et al. highlight the multitude of biological functions of S1P with a focus on its recently identified role in thrombopoiesis.
Recent work has highlighted the multitude of biological functions of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), which include roles in hematopoietic cell trafficking, organization of immune organs, vascular development, and neuroinflammation. Indeed, a functional antagonist of S1P1 receptor, FTY720/Gilenya, has entered the clinic as a novel therapeutic for multiple sclerosis. In this issue of the JEM, Zhang et al. highlight yet another function of this lipid mediator: thrombopoiesis. The S1P1 receptor is required for the growth of proplatelet strings in the bloodstream and the shedding of platelets into the circulation. Notably, the sharp gradient of S1P between blood and the interstitial fluids seems to be essential to ensure the production of platelets, and S1P appears to cooperate with the CXCL12–CXCR4 axis. Pharmacologic modulation of the S1P1 receptor altered circulating platelet numbers acutely, suggesting a potential therapeutic strategy for controlling thrombocytopenic states. However, the S1P4 receptor may also regulate thrombopoiesis during stress-induced accelerated platelet production. This work reveals a novel physiological action of the S1P/S1P1 duet that could potentially be harnessed for clinical translation.
PMCID: PMC3501358  PMID: 23166370
21.  Gene regulation by RNA binding proteins and microRNAs in angiogenesis 
Trends in molecular medicine  2011;17(11):650-658.
Once mRNAs are transcribed, spliced and transported to the cytoplasm, their fate is determined by the complex interplay of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) that act on regulatory elements within the transcripts. The importance of post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in angiogenesis is underscored by the observation that perturbations in miRNAs and/or RBPs lead to profound phenotypic alterations in vascular development, homeostasis and disease, with current data suggesting that mRNAs for key angiogenic regulators (secreted factors and intracellular signaling intermediates) are subject to stringent post-transcriptional regulation by both RBPs and miRNAs. In addition, an intricate network of miRNAs and RBPs allow robust gene regulation in vascular cells. This review focuses on the miRNAs and RBPs which often cooperate to achieve precise spatial and temporal control of angiogenic regulatory genes.
PMCID: PMC3625859  PMID: 21802991
22.  Fine-Tuning S1P Therapeutics 
Chemistry & biology  2012;19(9):1080-1082.
Sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor-1 (S1P1), a novel therapeutic target for multiple sclerosis, regulates lymphocyte trafficking, heart rate, and vascular function. The discovery of NIBR-0213, a competitive antagonist for S1P1 that inhibits autoimmune inflammation while sparing bradycardia (Quancard et al., in this issue of Chemistry & Biology), suggests that fine-tuning of S1P1 modulators may lead to novel immune modulators with better efficacy to adverse events ratio.
PMCID: PMC3625427  PMID: 22999874
23.  Co-incidental Plasmodium Knowlesi and Mucormycosis infections presenting with acute kidney injury and lower gastrointestinal bleeding 
Plasmodium knowlesi is frequently reported in Southeast Asian countries and is now widely regarded as the fifth malarial parasite. Mucormycosis is a rare fungal infection that can occur in patients with a weakened immune system.
Case Report:
We report a case of acute kidney injury secondary to Plasmodium knowlesi malaria infection and mucormycosis fungal infection. In addition, the patient also had lower gastrointestinal bleeding from invasive gastrointestinal mucormycosis. P. knowlesi infection was diagnosed by blood film and mucormycosis was diagnosed by histopathological examination of biopsy specimen of the colon. The patient recovered with antimalarial treatment (Quinine), antifungal treatment (Lipophilic Amphotericin), and supportive hemodialysis treatment.
We hypothesize that P. knowlesi malarial infection can lower the immunologic threshold and predisposes vulnerable individuals to rare disseminated fungal infections. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first P. Knowlesi malaria-associated invasive fungal infection reported in the literature.
PMCID: PMC3700492  PMID: 23826445
Plasmodium knowlesi; malaria; mucormycosis; gastro-intestinal bleeding; acute kidney injury
24.  Assessment of Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Activity in Biological Samples by Receptor Internalization and Adherens Junction Formation 
Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) is a bioactive lipid mediator involved in many biological actions, including vascular homeostasis and immune cell trafficking. S1P activity is mediated by specific G protein-coupled receptors, leading to multiple physiological responses including adherens junction formation in endothelial cells. Here, we describe bioassays for rapidly assessing S1P activity in biological fluids based on ligand-induced receptor internalization in transfected HEK293 cells and consequent adherens junction formation of vascular endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3614356  PMID: 22528440
Bioassay; Sphingosine-1-phosphate; Receptor; GFP; Internalization; Adherens junction; Immunofluorescence staining
25.  The Risk of Recurrence in Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Tamoxifen: Polymorphisms of CYP2D6 and ABCB1 
The AAPS Journal  2011;14(1):52-59.
CYP2D6 plays a major role in the metabolism of tamoxifen, and polymorphism of P-glycoprotein has been associated with resistance of many drug therapies. This study investigates the clinical impact of genetic variants of CYP2D6 and ABCB1 in breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen. Blood samples from 95 breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen were collected and genotyped for CYP2D6 and ABCB1 variants using allele-specific PCR method. Recurrence risks were calculated using Kaplan–Meier analysis and compared using the log-rank test. Patients carrying CYP2D6*10/*10 and heterozygous null allele (IM) showed higher risks of developing recurrence and metastasis (OR 13.14; 95% CI 1.57–109.94; P = 0.004) than patients with CYP2D6*1/*1 and *1/*10 genotypes. Patients with homozygous CC genotypes of ABCB1 C3435T showed a shorter time to recurrence. Patients who were CYP2D6 IM and homozygous CC genotype of C3435T have statistically significant higher risks of recurrence (P = 0.002). Similarly, median time to recurrence in these patients was only 12 months (95% CI = 0.79–23.2) compared to those without this combination which was 48 months (95% CI = 14.7–81.2). Patients with CYP2D6 IM and homozygous CC genotype of ABCB1 C3435T have shorter times to recurrence. The results confirmed the findings of previous studies and support FDA recommendation to perform pre-genotyping in patients before the choice of therapy is determined in breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3291182  PMID: 22183189
ABCB1; breast cancer; CYP2D6; recurrence and metastasis; tamoxifen

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