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1.  Prevention of cholesterol gallstones by inhibiting hepatic biosynthesis and intestinal absorption of cholesterol 
Cholesterol cholelithiasis is a multifactorial disease influenced by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors, and represents a failure of biliary cholesterol homeostasis in which the physical-chemical balance of cholesterol solubility in bile is disturbed. The primary pathophysiologic event is persistent hepatic hypersecretion of biliary cholesterol, which has both hepatic and small intestinal components. The majority of the environmental factors are probably related to Western-type dietary habits, including excess cholesterol consumption. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the US, is nowadays a major treatment for gallstones. However, it is invasive and can cause surgical complications, and not all patients with symptomatic gallstones are candidates for surgery. The hydrophilic bile acid, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has been employed as first-line pharmacological therapy in a subgroup of symptomatic patients with small, radiolucent cholesterol gallstones. Long-term administration of UDCA can promote the dissolution of cholesterol gallstones. However, the optimal use of UDCA is not always achieved in clinical practice because of failure to titrate the dose adequately. Therefore, the development of novel, effective, and noninvasive therapies is crucial for reducing the costs of health care associated with gallstones. In this review, we summarize recent progress in investigating the inhibitory effects of ezetimibe and statins on intestinal absorption and hepatic biosynthesis of cholesterol, respectively, for the treatment of gallstones, as well as in elucidating their molecular mechanisms by which combination therapy could prevent this very common liver disease worldwide.
PMCID: PMC3996849  PMID: 23419155
bile; bile flow; bile acid; cholesterol monohydrate crystal; cholesterol crystallization; mucin
2.  Antiobesity and Antihyperglycemic Effects of Ginsenoside Rb1 in Rats 
Diabetes  2010;59(10):2505-2512.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are national and worldwide epidemics. Because currently available antiobesity and antidiabetic drugs have limited efficacy and/or safety concerns, identifying new medicinal agents, such as ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1) as reported here, offers exciting possibilities for future development of successful antiobesity and antidiabetic therapies.
Changes in feeding behavior after acute intraperitoneal administration of Rb1 and the effects of intraperitoneal Rb1 for 4 weeks on body weight, energy expenditure, and glucose tolerance in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese rats were assessed. We also examined the effects of Rb1 on signaling pathways and neuropeptides in the hypothalamus.
Acute intraperitoneal Rb1 dose-dependently suppressed food intake without eliciting signs of toxicity. This inhibitory effect on feeding may be mediated by central mechanisms because Rb1 stimulated c-Fos expression in brain areas involved in energy homeostasis. Consistent with this, Rb1 activated the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway and inhibited NPY gene expression in the hypothalamus. Four-week administration of Rb1 significantly reduced food intake, body weight gain, and body fat content and increased energy expenditure in HFD-induced obese rats. Rb1 also significantly decreased fasting blood glucose and improved glucose tolerance, and these effects were greater than those observed in pair-fed rats, suggesting that although Rb1's antihyperglycemic effect is partially attributable to reduced food intake and body weight; there may be additional effects of Rb1 on glucose homeostasis.
These results identify Rb1 as an antiobesity and antihyperglycemic agent.
PMCID: PMC3279544  PMID: 20682695
3.  Dual-modality impairment of implicit learning of letter-strings versus color-patterns in patients with schizophrenia 
Implicit learning was reported to be intact in schizophrenia using artificial grammar learning. However, emerging evidence indicates that artificial grammar learning is not a unitary process. The authors used dual coding stimuli and schizophrenia clinical symptom dimensions to re-evaluate the effect of schizophrenia on various components of artificial grammar learning.
Letter string and color pattern artificial grammar learning performances were compared between 63 schizophrenic patients and 27 comparison subjects. Four symptom dimensions derived from a Chinese Positive and Negative Symptom Scale ratings were correlated with patients' artificial grammar implicit learning performances along the two stimulus dimensions. Patients' explicit memory performances were assessed by verbal paired associates and visual reproduction subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scales Revised Version to provide a contrast to their implicit memory function.
Schizophrenia severely hindered color pattern artificial grammar learning while the disease affected lexical string artificial grammar learning to a lesser degree after correcting the influences from age, education and the performance of explicit memory function of both verbal and visual modalities. Both learning performances correlated significantly with the severity of patients' schizophrenic clinical symptom dimensions that reflect poor abstract thinking, disorganized thinking, and stereotyped thinking.
The results of this study suggested that schizophrenia affects various mechanisms of artificial grammar learning differently. Implicit learning, knowledge acquisition in the absence of conscious awareness, is not entirely intact in patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects implicit learning through an impairment of the ability of making abstractions from rules and at least in part decreasing the capacity for perceptual learning.
PMCID: PMC1334227  PMID: 16343344

Results 1-3 (3)