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2.  Transcriptome Analysis of the Interferon-Signature Defining the Autoimmune Process of Sjögren’s Syndrome 
Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) of humans and SS-like (SjS-like) diseases in mouse models are characterized by chronic immune attacks against the salivary and lacrimal glands leading to exocrine dysfunction. One characteristic of SS and SjS-like diseases repeatedly observed is a strong upregulated expression of both the type I (α/β) and type II (γ) interferons (IFNs). In addition, recent global transcriptome studies have identified a variety of IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) transcripts differentially expressed in tissues of SS patients and mouse models exhibiting SjS-like disease. Analyses of these transcriptome databases indicate that the sets of differentially expressed genes are highly restricted, suggesting that there is a unique specificity in ISGs activated (or suppressed) during development and onset of disease. As a result, these observations have led to both SS and SjS-like diseases being designated as ‘interferon-signature’ diseases. While SS and SjS-like diseases may be designated as such, very little effort has been made to determine what an interferon-signature might signify relative to autoinflammation and whether it might point directly to an underlying etiopathological mechanism. Here, we review these limited data and provide a model of how the products of these genes interact molecularly and biologically to define critical details of SS pathology.
PMCID: PMC4408865  PMID: 22703193
3.  The Important Role of T Cells and Receptor Expression in Sjögren's Syndrome 
Sjögren's syndrome (SjS), an autoimmune disease characterized by exocrine gland dysfunction leading to dry mouth and dry eye diseases, is typified by progressive leucocyte infiltrations of the salivary and lacrimal glands. Histologically, these leucocyte infiltrations generally establish periductal aggregates, referred to as lymphocytic foci (LF), which occasionally appear as germinal centre (GC)-like structures. The formation and organization of these LF suggest an important and dynamic role for helper T cells (TH), specifically TH1, TH2 and the recently discovered TH17, in development and onset of clinical SjS, considered a B cell–mediated hypersensitivity type 2 disease. Despite an ever-increasing focus on identifying the underlying aetiology of SjS, defining factors that initiate this autoimmune disease remain a mystery. Thus, determining interactions between infiltrating TH cells and exocrine gland tissue (auto-)antigens represents a fertile research endeavour. This review discusses pathological functions of TH cells in SjS, the current status of TH cell receptor gene rearrangements associated with human and mouse models of SjS and potential future prospects for identifying receptor–autoantigen interactions.
PMCID: PMC4408871  PMID: 23679844
4.  Sepsis and neutropenia in hematological malignancies 
Critical Care  2014;18(Suppl 2):P47.
PMCID: PMC4273877
6.  Postnatal growth outcomes and influence of maternal gestational weight gain: a prospective cohort study in rural Vietnam 
Suboptimal weight gain during pregnancy may result in adverse outcomes for both the mother and child, including increased risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, delivery of low birth weight and small-for-gestational age (SGA) infants, and preterm delivery. The objectives of this study were to identify maternal predictors of rate of weight gain in pregnancy, and to evaluate the association of gestational weight gain with infant postnatal growth outcomes.
We conducted a prospective cohort study of infants born to women who had previously participated in a double-blind cluster randomized controlled trial of antenatal micronutrient supplementation, in Ha Nam province, Vietnam. Pregnant women (n = 1258) were seen at enrolment and 32 weeks gestation, and infants (n = 965) were followed until 6 months of age. Primary outcome was infant anthropometric indicators at 6 months of age (weight for age, length for age, weight for height z scores), and infant weight gain velocity during the first 6 months of life.
Low body mass index (<18.5 kg/m2) was present in 26% of women, and rate of gestational weight gain was 0.4 kg per week [SD 0.12]. Rate of weight gain during pregnancy was significantly associated with infant weight-for-age (MD 1.13, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.68), length-for-age (MD 1.11, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.55), weight-for-length z scores (MD 0.63, 95% CI 0.07 to 1.19), and infant weight gain velocity during the first 6 months of life (MD 93.6 g per month, 95% CI 8.2 to 179.0).
Rate of gestational weight gain is predictive of postnatal growth at six months of age in this setting. Public health programs should be targeted towards improving body mass index and weight gain in pregnant women in rural Vietnam.
PMCID: PMC4190350  PMID: 25271061
Gestational weight gain; Postnatal growth; Body mass index
7.  SERCA2 activity is involved in the CNP-mediated functional responses in failing rat myocardium 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2013;170(2):366-379.
Myocardial C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) levels are increased in heart failure. CNP can induce negative inotropic (NIR) and positive lusitropic responses (LR) in normal hearts, but its effects in failing hearts are not known. We studied the mechanism of CNP-induced NIR and LR in failing hearts and determined whether sarcoplasmatic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase2 (SERCA2) activity is essential for these responses.
Contractility, cGMP levels, Ca2+ transient amplitudes and protein phosphorylation were measured in left ventricular muscle strips or ventricular cardiomyocytes from failing hearts of Wistar rats 6 weeks after myocardial infarction.
CNP increased cGMP levels, evoked a NIR and LR in muscle strips, and caused phospholamban (PLB) Ser16 and troponin I (TnI) Ser23/24 phosphorylation in cardiomyocytes. Both the NIR and LR induced by CNP were reduced in the presence of a PKG blocker/cGMP analogue (Rp-8-Br-Pet-cGMPS) and the SERCA inhibitor thapsigargin. CNP increased the amplitude of the Ca2+ transient and increased SERCA2 activity in cardiomyocytes. The CNP-elicited NIR and LR were not affected by the L-type Ca2+ channel activator BAY-K8644, but were abolished in the presence of isoprenaline (induces maximal activation of cAMP pathway). This suggests that phosphorylation of PLB and TnI by CNP causes both a NIR and LR. The NIR to CNP in mouse heart was abolished 8 weeks after cardiomyocyte-specific inactivation of the SERCA2 gene.
We conclude that CNP-induced PLB and TnI phosphorylation by PKG in concert mediate both a predictable LR as well as the less expected NIR in failing hearts.
PMCID: PMC3834760  PMID: 23808942
C-type natriuretic peptide; negative inotropic response; lusitropic response; heart failure; sarcoplasmatic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase; troponin I
8.  Maternal Vitamin D Status and Infant Outcomes in Rural Vietnam: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99005.
Vitamin D deficiency affects 1 billion people globally. It has an important role in bone homeostasis, brain development and modulation of the immune system and yet the impact of antenatal vitamin D deficiency on infant outcomes is poorly understood. We assessed the association of 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels (25-OHD) in late pregnancy and early infant growth and developmental outcomes in rural Vietnam.
Design and Methods
A prospective cohort study of 960 women who had previously participated in a double-blind cluster randomized controlled trial of antenatal micronutrient supplementation in rural Vietnam was undertaken. Maternal 25-OHD concentration was measured at 32 weeks gestation, and infants were followed until 6 months of age. Main outcome measures were cognitive, motor, socio-emotional and language scores using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 3rd edition, and infant length-for-age z scores at 6 months of age.
60% (582/960) of women had 25-OHD levels <75 nmol/L at 32 weeks gestation. Infants born to women with 25-OHD deficiency (<37.5 nmol/L) had reduced developmental language scores compared to those born to women who were vitamin D replete (≥75 nmol/L) (Mean Difference (MD) −3.48, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) −5.67 to −1.28). For every 25 nmol increase in 25-OHD concentration in late pregnancy, infant length-for-age z scores at 6 months of age decreased by 0.08 (95% CI −0.15 to −0.02).
Low maternal 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels during late pregnancy are of concern in rural Vietnam, and are associated with reduced language developmental outcomes at 6 months of age. Our findings strengthen the evidence for giving vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC4072587  PMID: 24967813
9.  Safety and pharmacokinetics of aciclovir in women following release from a silicone elastomer vaginal ring 
Systemic aciclovir and its prodrug valaciclovir are effective in treating and reducing recurrences of genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) and reducing transmission. Local aciclovir delivery, if it can achieve and maintain comparable intracellular genital tract levels, may be equally effective in the treatment and suppression of genital HSV. Intravaginal ring (IVR) delivery of aciclovir may provide pre-exposure prophylaxis against HSV acquisition.
Tolerability and pharmacokinetics were evaluated in six HIV-negative women with recurrent genital HSV who switched their daily oral valaciclovir suppression to an aciclovir IVR for 7 days (n = 3) or 14 days (n = 3). Blood and cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) were collected after oral and IVR dosing to measure aciclovir concentrations and genital swabs were obtained to quantify HSV shedding by PCR.
The rings were well tolerated. Median plasma aciclovir concentrations were 110.2 ng/mL (IQR, 85.9–233.5) 12–18 h after oral valaciclovir. Little or no drug was detected in plasma following IVR dosing. Median (IQR) CVL aciclovir levels were 127.3 ng/mL (21–660.8) 2 h after oral valaciclovir, 154.4 ng/mL (60.7–327.5) 12–18 h after oral valaciclovir and 438 ng/mL (178.5–618.5) after 7 days and 393 ng/mL (31.6–1615) after 14 days of aciclovir ring use. Median CVL aciclovir levels 2 h after oral dosing were similar to levels observed 7 (P = 0.99) and 14 (P = 0.75) days after ring use. HSV DNA was not detected in genital swabs and there was no significant change in inflammatory mediators.
This first-in-human study demonstrated that an IVR could safely deliver mucosal levels of aciclovir similar to oral valaciclovir without systemic absorption. More intensive site-specific pharmacokinetic studies are needed to determine whether higher local concentrations are needed to achieve optimal drug distribution within the genital tract.
PMCID: PMC3394441  PMID: 22556381
herpes simplex virus; vaginal microbicides; genital herpes
10.  The Effect of Intermittent Antenatal Iron Supplementation on Maternal and Infant Outcomes in Rural Viet Nam: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001470.
Beverley-Anne Biggs and colleagues conduct a community-based cluster randomized trial in rural Viet Nam to compare the effect of antenatal iron-folic acid supplementation taken daily or twice weekly on maternal and infant outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Anemia affects over 500 million women, and in pregnancy is associated with impaired maternal and infant outcomes. Intermittent antenatal iron supplementation is an attractive alternative to daily dosing; however, the impact of this strategy on infant outcomes remains unclear. We compared the effect of intermittent antenatal iron supplementation with daily iron supplementation on maternal and infant outcomes in rural Viet Nam.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomised trial was conducted in Ha Nam province, Viet Nam. 1,258 pregnant women (<16 wk gestation) in 104 communes were assigned to daily iron–folic acid (IFA), twice weekly IFA, or twice weekly multiple micronutrient (MMN) supplementation. Primary outcome was birth weight. Mean birth weight was 3,148 g (standard deviation 416). There was no difference in the birth weights of infants of women receiving twice weekly IFA compared to daily IFA (mean difference [MD] 28 g; 95% CI −22 to 78), or twice weekly MMN compared to daily IFA (MD −36.8 g; 95% CI −82 to 8.2). At 32 wk gestation, maternal ferritin was lower in women receiving twice weekly IFA compared to daily IFA (geometric mean ratio 0.73; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.80), and in women receiving twice weekly MMN compared to daily IFA (geometric mean ratio 0.62; 95% CI 0.57 to 0.68), but there was no difference in hemoglobin levels. Infants of mothers who received twice weekly IFA had higher cognitive scores at 6 mo of age compared to those who received daily IFA (MD 1.89; 95% CI 0.23 to 3.56).
Twice weekly antenatal IFA or MMN did not produce a clinically important difference in birth weight, when compared to daily IFA supplementation. The significant improvement in infant cognitive outcomes at 6 mo of age following twice weekly antenatal IFA requires further exploration, and provides additional support for the use of intermittent, rather than daily, antenatal IFA in populations with low rates of iron deficiency.
Trial registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 12610000944033
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Anemia is a common condition in which the blood does not supply the body with enough oxygen because of a low number of red blood cells or low levels of hemoglobin—the iron-containing pigment that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia worldwide and, according to the World Health Organization, affects over 2 billion people: half of all pregnant women and 40% of preschool children in low- and middle-income countries are thought to be anemic. Anemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths and is also linked to increased maternal morbidity, higher rates of preterm birth and low birth weight, and reduced infant survival, with potential long-term consequences for child growth and development. Identifying and treating iron deficiency anemia is therefore a global health priority.
Why Was This Study Done?
Daily iron–folic acid supplementation given from early in pregnancy is the standard recommended approach to prevent and treat anemia in pregnant women, but recently the World Health Organization recommended intermittent use because of poor compliance with daily regimes (because of side effects) and poor bowel absorption. However, the evidence from many of the studies used to support this recommendation was of poor quality, and so it remains unclear whether intermittent supplementation is as, or more, effective than daily supplementation, especially in lower income settings where antenatal testing for anemia is not readily available. So in this study, the researchers conducted a community-based cluster randomized trial (where groups of people are randomized, rather than individuals) in rural Viet Nam to compare the effect of antenatal iron–folic acid supplementation taken twice weekly (either alone, or in combination with other micronutrients) with daily iron–folic acid supplementation, on maternal and infant outcomes during the first six months of life.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomized 104 communes in Ha Nam Province, Viet Nam, and enrolled 1,258 women who were less than 16 weeks pregnant into the study between September and November 2010. Although the researchers intended to register the trial before the study started, registration was delayed by a month because the supplements arrived earlier than the researchers anticipated, and they thought it best to start recruiting at that time to avoid the Vietnamese New Year, when women might be travelling. Each woman was interviewed and had blood taken for hemoglobin and iron indices (ferritin) before receiving daily iron–folic acid supplementation (426 women), twice weekly iron–folic acid supplementation (425 women), or twice weekly iron–folic acid supplementation plus micronutrients (407 women). The women had follow-up assessments at 32 weeks gestation, delivery, and at six months postpartum: their infants were assessed at birth and at six months old.
The researchers found that at enrollment, the women's average hemoglobin concentration was 123 g/l, and 12.6% of the women were anemic. At 32 weeks gestation, 10.8% of the women were anemic, but there was no difference in hemoglobin levels between the three supplement groups. The average ferritin level was 75.6 µg/l at enrollment, with 2.2% of women iron deficient. Ferritin levels decreased from enrollment to 32 weeks gestation in all supplement groups but were lower in women who took twice weekly supplements. The researchers also found that birth weight (the primary outcome) was similar in all supplement groups, and there were also no differences in gestational age or in the risk of prematurity, stillbirth, or early neonatal death. At six months, there were also no differences in the levels of infant hemoglobin, prevalence of anemia, or growth rates. However, infants born to mothers in the twice weekly iron–folic acid group had improved cognitive development compared to infants born to mothers in the daily supplement group. Finally, the researchers found that adherence rates were significantly higher in the twice weekly iron–folic acid supplement group compared to the once daily regime.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that in an area of Southeast Asia with low anemia prevalence, once daily antenatal supplementation with iron–folic acid did not provide any benefits in birth weight or improved infant growth over twice weekly supplementation. Furthermore, twice weekly supplementation with iron–folic acid was associated with improved maternal adherence rates and also improved cognitive development in infants aged six months—a finding that requires further study and provides added support for the use of intermittent iron–folic acid supplementation over daily supplementation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization website has comprehensive information on anemia, including a report of global estimates and the guideline Intermittent Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation in Non-Anaemic Pregnant Women
Wikipedia provides information on iron supplementation (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3708703  PMID: 23853552
11.  Responder and nonresponder patients exhibit different peripheral transcriptional signatures during major depressive episode 
Translational Psychiatry  2012;2(11):e185-.
To date, it remains impossible to guarantee that short-term treatment given to a patient suffering from a major depressive episode (MDE) will improve long-term efficacy. Objective biological measurements and biomarkers that could help in predicting the clinical evolution of MDE are still warranted. To better understand the reason nearly half of MDE patients respond poorly to current antidepressive treatments, we examined the gene expression profile of peripheral blood samples collected from 16 severe MDE patients and 13 matched controls. Using a naturalistic and longitudinal design, we ascertained mRNA and microRNA (miRNA) expression at baseline, 2 and 8 weeks later. On a genome-wide scale, we detected transcripts with roles in various biological processes as significantly dysregulated between MDE patients and controls, notably those involved in nucleotide binding and chromatin assembly. We also established putative interactions between dysregulated mRNAs and miRNAs that may contribute to MDE physiopathology. We selected a set of mRNA candidates for quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) to validate that the transcriptional signatures observed in responders is different from nonresponders. Furthermore, we identified a combination of four mRNAs (PPT1, TNF, IL1B and HIST1H1E) that could be predictive of treatment response. Altogether, these results highlight the importance of studies investigating the tight relationship between peripheral transcriptional changes and the dynamic clinical progression of MDE patients to provide biomarkers of MDE evolution and prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3565773  PMID: 23149449
antidepressant; biomarker; miRNA; mood disorder; PBMC; transcriptome
12.  Expression of Interleukin-22 in Sjögren’s Syndrome: Significant Correlation with Disease Parameters 
Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune disease targeting the exocrine glands resulting in xerostomia/keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Presently, we examined the levels and clinical correlations of IL-22 in SS. Patients with SS together with normal controls were randomly selected. IL-22 was detected at significantly higher levels in sera of patients with SS. The levels of IL-22 present in sera showed statistically significant direct correlations with hyposalivation, anti-SSB, anti-SSA/SSB combined, hypergammaglobulinemia and rheumatoid factor. IL-22 showed a direct correlation with major clinical parameters. The data suggest that IL-22 plays a critical role in the development of SS, and further study is needed to examine its function in human SS.
PMCID: PMC3250060  PMID: 21645026
13.  Variability of neural activation during walking in humans: short heels and big calves 
Biology Letters  2011;7(4):539-542.
People come in different shapes and sizes. In particular, calf muscle size in humans varies considerably. One possible cause for the different shapes of calf muscles is the inherent difference in neural signals sent to these muscles during walking. In sedentary adults, the variability in neural control of the calf muscles was examined with muscle size, walking kinematics and limb morphometrics. Half the subjects walked while activating their medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles more strongly than their lateral gastrocnemius (LG) muscles during most walking speeds (‘MG-biased’). The other subjects walked while activating their MG and LG muscles nearly equally (‘unbiased’). Those who walked with an MG-biased recruitment pattern also had thicker MG muscles and shorter heel lengths, or MG muscle moment arms, than unbiased walkers, but were similar in height, weight, lower limb length, foot length, and exhibited similar walking kinematics. The relatively less plastic skeletal system may drive calf muscle size and motor recruitment patterns of walking in humans.
PMCID: PMC3130218  PMID: 21288939
neural control; walking; heel length; medial gastrocnemius; humans
14.  Decreased Parasite Load and Improved Cognitive Outcomes Caused by Deworming and Consumption of Multi-Micronutrient Fortified Biscuits in Rural Vietnamese Schoolchildren 
Micronutrient deficiencies are associated with impaired growth and cognitive function. A school-based fortification program might benefit schoolchildren but a high prevalence of parasite infestation might affect effectiveness. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 2 × 2 factorial trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of multi-micronutrient fortified biscuits with or without de-worming on growth, cognitive function, and parasite load in Vietnamese schoolchildren. Schoolchildren (n = 510), 6–8 years of age were randomly allocated to receive albendazole or placebo at baseline and four months of multi-micronutrient fortified biscuits (FB) or non-fortified biscuits. Children receiving FB for four months scored higher on two cognitive tests: Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices and the Digit Span Forward test. Children receiving albendazole plus FB had the lowest parasite load after four months. In children receiving FB, mid-upper arm circumference was slightly improved (+0.082 cm) but there were no differences in other indexes of anthropometry. Combining multi-micronutrient fortified biscuits with de-worming is an effective strategy.
PMCID: PMC3144834  PMID: 21813856
15.  Circulating fibrocytes are increased in children and young adults with pulmonary hypertension 
The European Respiratory Journal  2011;39(1):104-111.
Chronic inflammation is an important component of the fibroproliferative changes that characterise pulmonary hypertensive vasculopathy. Fibrocytes contribute to tissue remodelling in settings of chronic inflammation, including animal models of pulmonary hypertension (PH). We sought to determine whether circulating fibrocytes were increased in children and young adults with PH.
26 individuals with PH and 10 with normal cardiac anatomy were studied. Fresh blood was analysed by flow cytometry for fibrocytes expressing CD45 and procollagen. Fibrocyte numbers were correlated to clinical and haemodynamic parameters, and circulating CC chemokine ligand (CCL)2 and CXC chemokine ligand (CXCL)12 levels.
We found an enrichment of circulating fibrocytes among those with PH. No differences in fibrocytes were observed among those with idiopathic versus secondary PH. Higher fibrocytes correlated to increasing mean pulmonary artery pressure and age, but not to length or type of treatment. Immunofluorescence analysis confirmed flow sorting specificity. Differences in plasma levels of CCL2 or CXCL12, which could mobilise fibrocytes from the bone marrow, were not found.
We conclude that circulating fibrocytes are significantly increased in individuals with PH compared with controls. We speculate that these cells might play important roles in vascular remodelling in children and young adults with pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3319160  PMID: 21700605
Fluorescence-activated cell sorting; inflammation; mononuclear phagocyte; progenitor cells; vascular remodelling
16.  Nationwide shifts in the double burden of overweight and underweight in Vietnamese adults in 2000 and 2005: two national nutrition surveys 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:62.
In developing countries, overweight prevalence is increasing while underweight prevalence is still high. This situation is known as the double nutrition burden. Both underweight and overweight are related to increased risk of chronic non-communicable diseases, reduced well-being and quality of life. This study aims to compare the prevalence of overweight and underweight among Vietnamese adults in 2000 and 2005.
The study was based on two nationally representative surveys, the National Nutrition Survey 2000 (14,452 subjects) and the National Adult Obesity Survey 2005 (17,213 subjects). Adults aged 25-64 years were sampled to be nationally representative. Multiple multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the association of underweight and overweight with socio-economic indicators.
The distribution of BMI across the population and population groups indicated a shift towards higher BMI levels in 2005 as compared to 2000. The nationwide prevalence of overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) was 6.6% and 0.4% respectively in 2005, almost twice the rates of 2000 (3.5% and 0.2%). Using the Asian BMI cut-off of 23 kg/m2 the overweight prevalence was 16.3% in 2005 and 11.7% in 2000. In contrast, the underweight prevalence (BMI < 18.5 kg/m2) of 20.9% in 2005 was lower than the rate of 25.0% in 2000. Women were more likely to be both underweight and overweight as compared to men in both 2000 and 2005. Urban residents were more likely to be overweight and less likely to be underweight as compared to rural residents in both years. The shifts from underweight to overweight were clearer among the higher food expenditure levels.
The double nutrition burden was clearly present in Vietnam. The distribution of BMI across the population groups generally indicated a shift towards higher BMI levels in 2005 as compared to 2000. The prevalence of overweight was increased while the declined level of undernutrition was still high in 2005. The shifts of underweight to overweight were most obvious among population groups with higher food expenditure levels.
PMCID: PMC3041660  PMID: 21276266
17.  Protease-activated receptor-4: a novel mechanism of inflammatory pain modulation 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2006;150(2):176-185.
Background and purpose:
Protease-activated receptor-4 (PAR4), the most recently discovered member of the PARs family, is activated by thrombin, trypsin and cathepsin G, but can also be selectively activated by small synthetic peptides (PAR4-activating peptide, PAR4-AP). PAR4 is considered a potent mediator of platelet activation and inflammation. As both PAR1 and PAR2 have been implicated in the modulation of nociceptive mechanisms, we investigated the expression of PAR4 in sensory neurons and the effects of its selective activation on nociception.
Experimental approach and key results:
We demonstrated the expression of PAR4 in sensory neurons isolated from rat dorsal root ganglia by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence. We found that PAR4 colocalized with calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P. We also showed that a selective PAR4-AP was able to inhibit calcium mobilization evoked by KCl and capsaicin in rat sensory neurons. Moreover, the intraplantar injection of a PAR4-AP significantly increased nociceptive threshold in response to thermal and mechanical noxious stimuli, while a PAR4 inactive control peptide had no effect. The anti-nociceptive effects of the PAR4-AP were dose-dependent and occurred at doses below the threshold needed to cause inflammation. Finally, co-injection of the PAR4-AP with carrageenan significantly reduced the carrageenan-induced inflammatory hyperalgesia and allodynia, but had no effect on inflammatory parameters such as oedema and granulocyte infiltration.
Conclusions and implications:
Taken together, these results identified PAR4 as a novel potential endogenous analgesic factor, which can modulate nociceptive responses in normal and inflammatory conditions.
PMCID: PMC2042908  PMID: 17179954
thrombin; protease-activated receptor-4; analgesia; inflammation; cathepsin G
18.  Genetic profiling of chromosome 1 in breast cancer: mapping of regions of gains and losses and identification of candidate genes on 1q 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;95(10):1439-1447.
Chromosome 1 is involved in quantitative anomalies in 50–60% of breast tumours. However, the structure of these anomalies and the identity of the affected genes remain to be determined. To characterise these anomalies and define their consequences on gene expression, we undertook a study combining array-CGH analysis and expression profiling using specialised arrays. Array-CGH data showed that 1p was predominantly involved in losses and 1q almost exclusively in gains. Noticeably, high magnitude amplification was infrequent. In an attempt to fine map regions of copy number changes, we defined 19 shortest regions of overlap (SROs) for gains (one at 1p and 18 at 1q) and of 20 SROs for losses (all at 1p). These SROs, whose sizes ranged from 170 kb to 3.2 Mb, represented the smallest genomic intervals possible based on the resolution of our array. The elevated incidence of gains at 1q, added to the well-established concordance between DNA copy increase and augmented RNA expression, made us focus on gene expression changes at this chromosomal arm. To identify candidate oncogenes, we studied the RNA expression profiles of 307 genes located at 1q using a home-made built cDNA array. We identified 30 candidate genes showing significant overexpression correlated to copy number increase. In order to substantiate their involvement, RNA expression levels of these candidate genes were measured by quantitative (Q)-RT–PCR in a panel of 25 breast cancer cell lines previously typed by array-CGH. Q–PCR showed that 11 genes were significantly overexpressed in the presence of a genomic gain in these cell lines, and 20 overexpressed when compared to normal breast.
PMCID: PMC2360604  PMID: 17060936
array-CGH; amplicon; oncogene; profiling
19.  Novel Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase MpkC of Aspergillus fumigatus Is Required for Utilization of Polyalcohol Sugars▿  
Eukaryotic Cell  2006;5(11):1934-1940.
The genome of Aspergillus fumigatus has four genes that encode mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), sakA/hogA, mpkA, mpkB, and mpkC. The functions of the MpkB and MpkC MAPKs are unknown for A. fumigatus and the closely related and genetically amenable species Aspergillus nidulans. mpkC deletion mutants of A. fumigatus were made and their phenotypes characterized. The mpkC deletion mutants were viable and had normal conidial germination and hyphal growth on minimal or complete media. This is in contrast to deletion mutants with deletions in the closely related MAPK gene sakA/hogA that we previously reported had a nitrogen source-dependent germination phenotype. Similarly, the growth of the mpkC deletion mutants was wild type on high-osmolarity medium. Consistent with these two MAP kinase genes regulating different cellular responses, we determined that the mpkC deletion mutants were unable to grow on minimal medium with sorbitol or mannitol as the sole carbon source. This result implicates MpkC signaling in carbon source utilization. Changes in mRNA levels for sakA and mpkC were measured in response to hypertonic stress, oxidative stress, and a shift from glucose to sorbitol to determine if there was overlap in the SakA and MpkC signaling pathways. These studies demonstrated that SakA- and MpkC-dependent patterns of change in mRNA levels are distinct and have minimal overlap in response to these environmental stresses.
PMCID: PMC1694801  PMID: 16998074
20.  Comparative study between deep sclerectomy with and without collagen implant: long term follow up 
Aim: To identify the value of using collagen implant in deep sclerectomy.
Methods: A prospective randomised trial of 104 eyes (104 patients) with medically uncontrolled primary and secondary open angle glaucoma. All patients had deep sclerectomy (DS), half of them with and the other half without a collagen implant (CI) sutured in the scleral bed. The main outcome measures were intraocular pressure (IOP), visual acuity, number of treatments preoperative and postoperative, and Nd:YAG goniopunctures.
Results: Mean follow up period was 44.5 (SD 21) months for the DS group and 43.9 (SD 14) months for the deep sclerectomy with a collagen implant (DSCI) group. The mean preoperative IOP was 23.3 (SD 7.2) mm Hg for the DS group and 25.6 (SD 4.9) mm Hg for the DSCI group. The mean IOP at the first postoperative day was 6.1 (SD 4.21) mm Hg for the DS group and 5.1 (SD 3.3) mm Hg for the DSCI group. At 48 months IOP was reduced by 40% (14 versus 23.3 mm Hg) for the DS group and by 50% (12.7 versus 25.6 mm Hg) for the DSCI group. Complete success rate, defined as IOP lower than 21 mm Hg without medication, was 34.6% (18/52 patients) at 48 months for the DS group, and 63.4% (33/52 patients) for the DSCI group. Qualified success rate; patients who achieved IOP below 21 mm Hg with or without medication, was 78.8% (41/52 patients) at 48 months and 94% (49/52 patients) for the DSCI group. The mean number of medications was reduced from 2.1 (SD 0.8) to 1.0 (SD 1) after DS, and was reduced from 2.2 (SD 0.7) to 0.4 (SD 0.6) in the DSCI group (p = 0.001)
Conclusion: The use of a collagen implant in DS enhances the success rates and lowers the need for postoperative medication.
PMCID: PMC1771937  PMID: 14693783
deep sclerectomy; collagen; glaucoma; surgery
21.  Five year results of viscocanalostomy 
Aim: To prospectively study the success rate and complications of viscocanalostomy, a non-penetrating glaucoma surgery.
Methods: Prospective non-randomised consecutive case series of 57 eyes (57 patients) with medically uncontrolled primary and secondary open angle glaucoma. Viscocanalostomy was performed on all participants with injection of viscoelastic in the surgically created ostia of Schlemm’s canal as well as in the scleral bed, the superficial scleral flap was loosely sutured. Intraocular pressure, visual acuity, and number of goniopunctures were measured.
Results: The mean follow up period was 34.1 months. The mean preoperative intraocular pressure (IOP) was 24.6 mm Hg; while the mean postoperative IOP was 5.6 mm Hg at day 1 and 13.9 mm Hg at 36 month. Patients who achieved IOP below 21 mm Hg with or without medication were 90% at 60 months, complete success rate (IOP<21 mm Hg without medication) was 60% at 60 months. 21 patients (37%) needed Nd:YAG goniopuncture postoperatively to control raised IOP, mean time for goniopuncture application was 9.4 months, mean pre-goniopuncture IOP was 20.4 mm Hg and mean postgoniopuncture IOP was 12.6 mm Hg (p <0.0001).
Conclusion: Viscocanalostomy appears to be a promising modification of filtering surgery.
PMCID: PMC1771626  PMID: 12642307
24.  A Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase That Senses Nitrogen Regulates Conidial Germination and Growth in Aspergillus fumigatus 
Eukaryotic Cell  2004;3(2):557-560.
We show that the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway that responds to osmotic stress in Aspergillus fumigatus is also involved in nutritional sensing. This MAP kinase regulates conidial germination in response to the nitrogen source and is activated upon starvation for either carbon or nitrogen during vegetative growth.
PMCID: PMC387654  PMID: 15075285
25.  Biological cages 
European Spine Journal  2000;9(Suppl 1):S102-S109.
Restoring a stable anterior column is essential to achieve normal spinal biomechanics. A variety of mechanical spacers have been developed and advocated for both anterior and posterior approaches. The ability to radiographically assess the “biology” of bone incorporation in these mechanical (metal) spacers is an inherent limitation. The femoral ring allograft (FRA) and posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) spacers have been developed as biological cages that permit restoration of the anterior column with a machined allograft bone (biological cage). Test results demonstrate that the FRA and PLIF Spacers have a compressive strength over 25,000 N. The pyramid shaped teeth on the surfaces and the geometry of the implant increase the resistance to expulsion at clinically relevant loads (1053 and 1236 N). The technique of anterior column reconstruction with both the FRA and the PLIF biological cages are discussed. Clinical experience with the PLIF biological cage (10 patients) and the FRA biological cage (90 patients) has not revealed any graft migration, infection, or subsidence. Additional posterior instrumentation may increase the stability of the motion segment, but the degree of stability necessary to achieve a biological union remains unclear. The incorporation of these biological cages can be monitored by conventional radiographic techniques. The method of insertion preserves the vertebral end-plates and can be performed by a minimally invasive or standard open procedure.
PMCID: PMC3611444  PMID: 10766065
Key words Biological cages; FRA spacer; PLIF spacer; Interbody ¶lumbar fusion; Arthrodesis

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