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1.  Estimating Population Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter in the Conterminous U.S. using Shape Function-based Spatiotemporal Interpolation Method 
This paper investigates spatiotemporal interpolation methods for the application of air pollution assessment. The air pollutant of interest in this paper is fine particulate matter PM2.5. The choice of the time scale is investigated when applying the shape function-based method. It is found that the measurement scale of the time dimension has an impact on the quality of interpolation results. Based upon the result of 10-fold cross validation, the most effective time scale out of four experimental ones was selected for the PM2.5 interpolation. The paper also estimates the population exposure to the ambient air pollution of PM2.5 at the county-level in the contiguous U.S. in 2009. The interpolated county-level PM2.5 has been linked to 2009 population data and the population with a risky PM2.5 exposure has been estimated. The risky PM2.5 exposure means the PM2.5 concentration exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The geographic distribution of the counties with a risky PM2.5 exposure is visualized. This work is essential to understanding the associations between ambient air pollution exposure and population health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4583366  PMID: 26413256
spatiotemporal interpolation; fine particulate matter; air pollution exposure; time scale
2.  Impact of Natural IgM Concentration on Gene Therapy with Adenovirus Type 5 Vectors 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(6):3412-3416.
Natural IgM inhibits gene transfer by adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) vectors. We show that polyreactive natural IgM antibodies bind to Ad5 and that inhibition of liver transduction by IgM depends on Kupffer cells. By manipulating IgM concentration in vivo, we demonstrate that IgM inhibits liver transduction in a concentration-dependent manner. We further show that differences in natural IgM between BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice contribute to lower efficiency of Ad5 gene transfer in BALB/c mice.
PMCID: PMC4337529  PMID: 25552715
3.  Neural Correlates of Covert Face Processing: fMRI Evidence from a Prosopagnosic Patient 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2013;24(8):2081-2092.
Brains can perceive or recognize a face even though we are subjectively unaware of the existence of that face. However, the exact neural correlates of such covert face processing remain unknown. Here, we compared the fMRI activities between a prosopagnosic patient and normal controls when they saw famous and unfamiliar faces. When compared with objects, the patient showed greater activation to famous faces in the fusiform face area (FFA) though he could not overtly recognize those faces. In contrast, the controls showed greater activation to both famous and unfamiliar faces in the FFA. Compared with unfamiliar faces, famous faces activated the controls', but not the patient's lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) known to be involved in familiar face recognition. In contrast, the patient showed greater activation in the bilateral medial frontal gyrus (MeFG). Functional connectivity analyses revealed that the patient's right middle fusiform gyrus (FG) showed enhanced connectivity to the MeFG, whereas the controls' middle FG showed enhanced connectivity to the LPFC. These findings suggest that the FFA may be involved in both covert and overt face recognition. The patient's impairment in overt face recognition may be due to the absence of the coupling between the right FG and the LPFC.
PMCID: PMC4089382  PMID: 23448870
fMRI; face processing; fusiform gyrus; prosopagnosia; covert recognition
4.  In vivo nanoparticle-mediated radiopharmaceutical-excited fluorescence molecular imaging 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7560.
Cerenkov luminescence imaging utilizes visible photons emitted from radiopharmaceuticals to achieve in vivo optical molecular-derived signals. Since Cerenkov radiation is weak, non-optimum for tissue penetration and continuous regardless of biological interactions, it is challenging to detect this signal with a diagnostic dose. Therefore, it is challenging to achieve useful activated optical imaging for the acquisition of direct molecular information. Here we introduce a novel imaging strategy, which converts γ and Cerenkov radiation from radioisotopes into fluorescence through europium oxide nanoparticles. After a series of imaging studies, we demonstrate that this approach provides strong optical signals with high signal-to-background ratios, an ideal tissue penetration spectrum and activatable imaging ability. In comparison with present imaging techniques, it detects tumour lesions with low radioactive tracer uptake or small tumour lesions more effectively. We believe it will facilitate the development of nuclear and optical molecular imaging for new, highly sensitive imaging applications.
Insufficient imaging sensitivity can make it challenging to assess early stage tumour lesions in vivo. Here, the authors present the radiopharmaceutical-excited fluorescence imaging technique that can detect tumour lesions less than 2 mm in size in living mice.
PMCID: PMC4491820  PMID: 26123615
5.  GX1-conjugated poly(lactic acid) nanoparticles encapsulating Endostar for improved in vivo anticolorectal cancer treatment 
Tumor angiogenesis plays a key role in tumor growth and metastasis; thus, targeting tumor-associated angiogenesis is an important goal in cancer therapy. However, the efficient delivery of drugs to tumors remains a key issue in antiangiogenesis therapy. GX1, a peptide identified by phage-display technology, is a novel tumor vasculature endothelium-specific ligand and possesses great potential as a targeted vector and antiangiogenic agent in the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers. Endostar, a novel recombinant human endostatin, has been shown to inhibit tumor angiogenesis. In this study, we developed a theranostic agent composed of GX1-conjugated poly(lactic acid) nanoparticles encapsulating Endostar (GPENs) and labeled with the near-infrared dye IRDye 800CW to improve colorectal tumor targeting and treatment efficacy in vivo. The in vivo fluorescence molecular imaging data showed that GPENs (IRDye 800CW) more specifically targeted tumors than free IRDye 800CW in colorectal tumor-bearing mice. Moreover, the antitumor efficacy was evaluated by bioluminescence imaging and immunohistology, revealing that GPENs possessed improved antitumor efficacy on subcutaneous colorectal xenografts compared to other treatment groups. Thus, our study showed that GPENs, a novel GX1 peptide guided form of nanoscale Endostar, can be used as a theranostic agent to facilitate more efficient targeted therapy and enable real-time monitoring of therapeutic efficacy in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4454195  PMID: 26060399
GX1 peptide; Endostar; colorectal cancer; angiogenesis; IRDye 800CW; molecular imaging
6.  Seeing Jesus in toast: Neural and behavioral correlates of face pareidolia 
Face pareidolia is the illusory perception of non-existent faces. The present study, for the first time, contrasted behavioral and neural responses of face pareidolia with those of letter pareidolia to explore face-specific behavioral and neural responses during illusory face processing. Participants were shown pure-noise images but were led to believe that 50% of them contained either faces or letters; they reported seeing faces or letters illusorily 34% and 38% of the time, respectively. The right fusiform face area (rFFA) showed a specific response when participants “saw” faces as opposed to letters in the pure-noise images. Behavioral responses during face pareidolia produced a classification image that resembled a face, whereas those during letter pareidolia produced a classification image that was letter-like. Further, the extent to which such behavioral classification images resembled faces was directly related to the level of face-specific activations in the right FFA. This finding suggests that the right FFA plays a specific role not only in processing of real faces but also in illusory face perception, perhaps serving to facilitate the interaction between bottom-up information from the primary visual cortex and top-down signals from the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Whole brain analyses revealed a network specialized in face pareidolia, including both the frontal and occipito-temporal regions. Our findings suggest that human face processing has a strong top-down component whereby sensory input with even the slightest suggestion of a face can result in the interpretation of a face.
PMCID: PMC3980010  PMID: 24583223
face processing; fMRI; fusiform face area; top-down processing; face pareidolia
7.  Connectivity Study of the Neuromechanism of Acute Acupuncture Needling during fMRI in “Overweight” Subjects 
This functional connectivity study depicts how acupoints ST 36 and SP 9 and their sham acupoints acutely act on blood glucose (GLU), core body temperature (CBT), hunger, and sensations pertaining to needling (De-qi) via the limbic system and dopamine (DA) to affect various brain areas in fasting, adult, and “overweight” Chinese males using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Functional connectivity (FC) analysis utilized the amygdala (AMY) and hypothalamus (HYP) as regions of interest (ROIs) in the discrete cosine transform and seed correlation analysis methods. There was a significant difference in the spatial patterns of the distinct brain regions between groups. Correlation results showed that increased HYP-hippocampus FC after ACU was positively correlated with ACU-induced change in CBT; increased HYP-putamen-insula FC after ACU was positively correlated with ACU-induced change in GLU; and increased HYP-anterior cingulate cortex FC after ACU was positively correlated with ACU-induced change in HUNGER suggesting that increased DA modulation during ACU was probably associated with increased poststimulation limbic system and spinothalamic tract connectivity. Decreased HYP-thalamus FC after ACU was negatively correlated or anticorrelated with ACU-induced change in HUNGER suggesting that increased DA modulation during ACU was possibly associated with decreased poststimulation limbic system and spinothalamic tract connectivity. No correlation was found for min SHAM. This was an important study in addressing acute acupuncture effects and neural pathways involving physiology and appetite regulation in overweight individuals.
PMCID: PMC4363637  PMID: 25821486
8.  Aurora B-dependent phosphorylation of Ataxin-10 promotes the interaction between Ataxin-10 and Plk1 in cytokinesis 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:8360.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10) is an autosomal dominant neurologic disorder caused by ATTCT expansion in the ATXN10 gene. Previous investigations have identified that depletion of Ataxin-10, the gene product, leads to cellular apoptosis and cytokinesis failure. Herein we identify the mitotic kinase Aurora B as an Ataxin-10 interacting partner. Aurora B interacts with and phosphorylates Ataxin-10 at S12, as evidenced by in vitro kinase and mass spectrometry analysis. Both endogenous and S12-phosphorylated Ataxin-10 localizes to the midbody during cytokinesis, and cytokinetic defects induced by inhibition of ATXN10 expression is not rescued by the S12A mutant. Inhibition of Aurora B or expression of the S12A mutant renders reduced interaction between Ataxin-10 and polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1), a kinase previously identified to regulate Ataxin-10 in cytokinesis. Taken together, we propose a model that Aurora B phosphorylates Ataxin-10 at S12 to promote the interaction between Ataxin-10 and Plk1 in cytokinesis. These findings identify an Aurora B-dependent mechanism that implicates Ataxin-10 in cytokinesis.
PMCID: PMC4322367  PMID: 25666058
9.  Percutaneous Intramyocardial Delivery of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Induces Superior Improvement in Regional Left Ventricular Function Compared with Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cells in Porcine Myocardial Infarcted Heart 
Theranostics  2015;5(2):196-205.
Aim: To investigate the efficacy and feasibility of percutaneous intramyocardial injection of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and autologous bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (BMMNC) on cardiac functional improvement in porcine myocardial infarcted hearts. Methods and Results: Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) was induced in 22 minipigs by temporary balloon occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery for 60min.Two weeks post AMI, BMMNC (n = 7, 245 ± 98×106), MSC (n = 8, 56 ± 17×106), or phosphate buffered saline (PBS; n = 7) were injected intramyocardially. Cardiac function and myocardial perfusion were analyzed by echocardiography and gated single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) at 1 week before AMI and 2 and 10 weeks after AMI. Cell engraftment, proliferation, vascular density, and cardiac fibrosis were evaluated by histology analysis. In all groups, the echocardiography revealed no significant change in the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), left ventricular end-systolic volume (LVESV), or left ventricular end-diastolic volume (LVEDV) at 10 weeks after AMI compared with those at 2 weeks after AMI. However, the wall motion score index (WMSI) and left ventricular systolic wall thickening (WT%) were significantly improved at 10 weeks compared with those at 2 weeks after AMI in the MSC group (WMSI 1.55 ± 0.06 vs. 1.87 ± 0.10, WT 33.4 ± 2.3% vs.24.8 ± 2.7%,p < 0.05) but not in the BMMNC group. In addition, myocardial perfusion quantified by SPECT/CT was improved in both the MSC and BMMNC groups, whereas the MSC group showed a superior improvement in vascular density and collagen volume fraction (p < 0.05). Conclusion: This preclinically relevant study suggests that when delivered by percutaneous (transcatheter) intramyocardial injection, MSC might be more effective than BMMNC to improve ischemia and reperfusion after AMI.
PMCID: PMC4279004  PMID: 25553108
Angiogenesis; Imaging; Myocardial infarction; Remodeling; Stem cells.
10.  Brain-based Correlations Between Psychological Factors and Functional Dyspepsia 
Increasing evidence shows involvement of psychological disorders in functional dyspepsia (FD), but how psychological factors exert their influences upon FD remains largely unclear. The purpose of the present study was to explore the brain-based correlations of psychological factors and FD.
Based on Fluorine-18-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography, the altered cerebral glycometabolism was investigated in 40 FD patients compared with 20 healthy controls during resting state using statistical parametric mapping software.
FD patients exhibited increased glucose metabolism in multiple regions relative to controls (P < 0.001, family-wise error corrected). After controlling for the dyspeptic symptoms, increased aberrations persisted within the insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), middle cingulate cortex (MCC) and middle frontal cortex (midFC), which was related to anxiety and depression score. Interestingly, FD patients without anxiety/depression symptoms also showed increased glycometabolism within the insula, ACC, MCC and midFC. Moreover, FD patients with anxiety/depression symptoms exhibited more significant hypermetabolism within the above 4 sites compared with patients without anxiety/depression symptoms.
Our results suggested that the altered cerebral glycometabolism may be in a vicious cycle of psychological vulnerabilities and increased gastrointestinal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4288085  PMID: 25540947
Cerebral cortex; Dyspepsia; Glucose
11.  Altered baseline brain activity in experts measured by amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (ALFF): a resting state fMRI study using expertise model of acupuncturists 
It is well established that expertise modulates evoked brain activity in response to specific stimuli. Recently, researchers have begun to investigate how expertise influences the resting brain. Among these studies, most focused on the connectivity features within/across regions, i.e., connectivity patterns/strength. However, little concern has been given to a more fundamental issue whether or not expertise modulates baseline brain activity. We investigated this question using amplitude of low-frequency (<0.08 Hz) fluctuation (ALFF) as the metric of brain activity and a novel expertise model, i.e., acupuncturists, due to their robust proficiency in tactile perception and emotion regulation. After the psychophysical and behavioral expertise screening procedure, 23 acupuncturists and 23 matched non-acupuncturists (NA) were enrolled. Our results explicated higher ALFF for acupuncturists in the left ventral medial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) and the contralateral hand representation of the primary somatosensory area (SI) (corrected for multiple comparisons). Additionally, ALFF of VMPFC was negatively correlated with the outcomes of the emotion regulation task (corrected for multiple comparisons). We suggest that our study may reveal a novel connection between the neuroplasticity mechanism and resting state activity, which would upgrade our understanding of the central mechanism of learning. Furthermore, by showing that expertise can affect the baseline brain activity as indicated by ALFF, our findings may have profound implication for functional neuroimaging studies especially those involving expert models, in that difference in baseline brain activity may either smear the spatial pattern of activations for task data or introduce biased results into connectivity-based analysis for resting data.
PMCID: PMC4365689  PMID: 25852511
resting state functional MRI; expertise; baseline brain activity; functional plasticity; amplitude of low frequency fluctuation; acupuncturist
12.  In-vivo Optical Tomography of Small Scattering Specimens: time-lapse 3D imaging of the head eversion process in Drosophila melanogaster 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7325.
Even though in vivo imaging approaches have witnessed several new and important developments, specimens that exhibit high light scattering properties such as Drosophila melanogaster pupae are still not easily accessible with current optical imaging techniques, obtaining images only from subsurface features. This means that in order to obtain 3D volumetric information these specimens need to be studied either after fixation and a chemical clearing process, through an imaging window - thus perturbing physiological development -, or during early stages of development when the scattering contribution is negligible. In this paper we showcase how Optical Projection Tomography may be used to obtain volumetric images of the head eversion process in vivo in Drosophila melanogaster pupae, both in control and headless mutant specimens. Additionally, we demonstrate the use of Helical Optical Projection Tomography (hOPT) as a tool for high throughput 4D-imaging of several specimens simultaneously.
PMCID: PMC4255187  PMID: 25471694
13.  Th17/Treg Cells Imbalance and GITRL Profile in Patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis 
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is an organ-specific immune disease characterized by the presence of lymphocytic infiltration and serum autoantibodies. Previous studies have confirmed the critical role of Th17 cells in the pathopoiesis of HT patients. Additionally, regulatory T cells (Treg) display a dysregulatory function in autoimmune disease. The purpose of this study is to investigate the alteration of Th17 and Treg cells in HT patients and explore contributing factors. We found there was an increased ratio of Th17/Treg in HT patients and a positive correlation with autoantibodies (anti-TgAb). In addition, there was an increased level of GITRL, which has been demonstrated to be correlated with the increassement of Th17 cells in the serum and thyroid glands of HT patients; the upregulated serum level of GITRL has a positive correlation with the percentage of Th17 cells in HT patients. In summary, an increase in GITRL may impair the balance of Th17/Treg, and contribute to the pathopoiesis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
PMCID: PMC4284671  PMID: 25429429
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; Th17 cells; Treg cells; GITRL
14.  Obesity: Pathophysiology and Intervention 
Nutrients  2014;6(11):5153-5183.
Obesity presents a major health hazard of the 21st century. It promotes co-morbid diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Excessive energy intake, physical inactivity, and genetic susceptibility are main causal factors for obesity, while gene mutations, endocrine disorders, medication, or psychiatric illnesses may be underlying causes in some cases. The development and maintenance of obesity may involve central pathophysiological mechanisms such as impaired brain circuit regulation and neuroendocrine hormone dysfunction. Dieting and physical exercise offer the mainstays of obesity treatment, and anti-obesity drugs may be taken in conjunction to reduce appetite or fat absorption. Bariatric surgeries may be performed in overtly obese patients to lessen stomach volume and nutrient absorption, and induce faster satiety. This review provides a summary of literature on the pathophysiological studies of obesity and discusses relevant therapeutic strategies for managing obesity.
PMCID: PMC4245585  PMID: 25412152
obesity; food addiction; neuroendocrinology; neuroimaging; reward-saliency; motivation-drive; learning/memory circuit; inhibitory control-emotional regulation-executive control; bariatric surgery; fecal microbiota transplantation
15.  Performance evaluation of endoscopic Cerenkov luminescence imaging system: in vitro and pseudotumor studies 
Biomedical Optics Express  2014;5(10):3660-3670.
By integrating the clinically used endoscope with the emerging Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) technology, a new endoscopic Cerenkov luminescence imaging (ECLI) system was developed. The aim is to demonstrate the potential of translating CLI to clinical studies of gastrointestinal (GI) tract diseases. We systematically evaluated the feasibility and performance of the developed ECLI system with a series of in vitro and pseudotumor experiments. The ECLI system is comprised of an electron multiplying charge coupled device (EMCCD) camera coupled with a clinically used endoscope via an optical adapter. A 1951-USAF test board was used to measure the white-light lateral resolution, while a homemade test chart filled with 68Ga was employed to measure the CL lateral resolution. Both in vitro and pseudotumor experiments were conducted to obtain the sensitivity of the ECLI system. The results were validated with that of CLI using EMCCD only, and the relative attenuation ratio of the ECLI system was calculated. Results showed that The white-light lateral resolution of the ECLI system was 198 µm, and the luminescent lateral resolution was better than 1 mm. Sensitivity experiments showed a theoretical sensitivity of 0.186 KBq/μl (5.033×10−3 μCi/μl) and 1.218 KBq/μl (32.922×10−3 μCi/μl) for the in vitro and pseudotumor studies, respectively. The relative attenuation ratio of ECLI to CLI was about 96%. The luminescent lateral resolution of the ECLI system was comparable with that of positron emission tomography (PET). The pseudotumor study illustrated the feasibility and applicability of the ECLI system in living organisms, indicating the potential for translating the CLI technology to the clinic.
PMCID: PMC4206332  PMID: 25360380
(170.3660) Light propagation in tissues; (170.7050) Turbid media; (170.6935) Tissue characterization
16.  Inhibition of Histone H3K9 Acetylation by Anacardic Acid Can Correct the Over-Expression of Gata4 in the Hearts of Fetal Mice Exposed to Alcohol during Pregnancy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104135.
Cardiovascular malformations can be caused by abnormalities in Gata4 expression during fetal development. In a previous study, we demonstrated that ethanol exposure could lead to histone hyperacetylation and Gata4 over-expression in fetal mouse hearts. However, the potential mechanisms of histone hyperacetylation and Gata4 over-expression induced by ethanol remain unclear.
Methods and Results
Pregnant mice were gavaged with ethanol or saline. Fetal mouse hearts were collected for analysis. The results of ethanol fed groups showed that global HAT activity was unusually high in the hearts of fetal mice while global HDAC activity remained unchanged. Binding of P300, CBP, PCAF, SRC1, but not GCN5, were increased on the Gata4 promoter relative to the saline treated group. Increased acetylation of H3K9 and increased mRNA expression of Gata4, α-MHC, cTnT were observed in these hearts. Treatment with the pan-histone acetylase inhibitor, anacardic acid, reduced the binding of P300, PCAF to the Gata4 promoter and reversed H3K9 hyperacetylation in the presence of ethanol. Interestingly, anacardic acid attenuated over-expression of Gata4, α-MHC and cTnT in fetal mouse hearts exposed to ethanol.
Our results suggest that P300 and PCAF may be critical regulatory factors that mediate Gata4 over-expression induced by ethanol exposure. Alternatively, P300, PCAF and Gata4 may coordinate over-expression of cardiac downstream genes in mouse hearts exposed to ethanol. Anacardic acid may thus protect against ethanol-induced Gata4, α-MHC, cTnT over-expression by inhibiting the binding of P300 and PCAF to the promoter region of these genes.
PMCID: PMC4125174  PMID: 25101666
17.  Shear Modulus Estimation on Vastus Intermedius of Elderly and Young Females over the Entire Range of Isometric Contraction 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101769.
Elderly people often suffer from sarcopenia in their lower extremities, which gives rise to the increased susceptibility of fall. Comparing the mechanical properties of the knee extensor/flexors on elderly and young subjects is helpful in understanding the underlying mechanisms of the muscle aging process. However, although the stiffness of skeletal muscle has been proved to be positively correlated to its non-fatiguing contraction intensity by some existing methods, this conclusion has not been verified above 50% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) due to the limitation of their measurement range. In this study, a vibro-ultrasound system was set up to achieve a considerably larger measurement range on muscle stiffness estimation. Its feasibility was verified on self-made silicone phantoms by comparing with the mechanical indentation method. The system was then used to assess the stiffness of vastus intermedius (VI), one of the knee extensors, on 10 healthy elderly female subjects (56.7±4.9 yr) and 10 healthy young female subjects (27.6±5.0 yr). The VI stiffness in its action direction was confirmed to be positively correlated to the % MVC level (R2 = 0.999) over the entire range of isometric contraction, i.e. from 0% MVC (relaxed state) to 100% MVC. Furthermore, it was shown that there was no significant difference between the mean VI shear modulus of the elderly and young subjects in a relaxed state (p>0.1). However, when performing step isometric contraction, the VI stiffness of young female subjects was found to be larger than that of elderly participants (p<0.001), especially at the relatively higher contraction levels. The results expanded our knowledge on the mechanical property of the elderly’s skeletal muscle and its relationship with intensity of active contraction. Furthermore, the vibro-ultrasound system has a potential to become a powerful tool for investigating the elderly’s muscle diseases.
PMCID: PMC4081795  PMID: 24991890
18.  Ficus carica Polysaccharides Promote the Maturation and Function of Dendritic Cells 
Various polysaccharides purified from plants are considered to be biological response modifiers and have been shown to enhance immune responses. Ficus carica L. is a Chinese traditional plant and has been widely used in Asian countries for its anti-tumor properties. Ficus carica polysaccharides (FCPS), one of the most essential and effective components in Ficus carica L., have been considered to be a beneficial immunomodulator and may be used in immunotherapy. However, the immunologic mechanism of FCPS is still unclear. Dectin-1 is a non-toll-like pattern recognition receptor, predominately expressed on dendritic cells (DCs). Activation of DCs through dectin-1 signaling can lead to the maturation of DC, thus inducing both innate and adaptive immune responses against tumor development and microbial infection. In our study, we found that FCPS could effectively stimulate DCs, partially through the dectin-1/Syk pathway, and promote their maturation, as shown by the up-regulation of CD40, CD80, CD86, and major histocompatibility complex II (MHCII). FCPS also enhanced the production of cytokines by DCs, including IL-12, IFN-γ, IL-6, and IL-23. Moreover, FCPS-treated DCs showed an enhanced capability to stimulate T cells and promote T cell proliferation. Altogether, these results demonstrate that FCPS are able to activate and maturate DCs, thereby up-regulating the immunostimulatory capacity of DCs, which leads to enhanced T cell responses.
PMCID: PMC4139854  PMID: 25026176
polysaccharide; dendritic cells; dectin-1; Syk; immunomodulators
19.  Exploring the Patterns of Acupuncture on Mild Cognitive Impairment Patients Using Regional Homogeneity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99335.
To investigate the different responses to acupuncture in MCI patients and age-matched healthy subjects reflected by the Regional Homogeneity (ReHo) indices.
The experiment was performed at the acupoint KI3 in 12 MCI patients and 12 healthy controls, respectively. A novel non-repeated event-related (NRER) fMRI design paradigm was applied to separately detect neural activities related to different stages of acupuncture (pre-acupuncture resting state, needling manipulation and post-acupuncture resting state). ReHo values were calculated for MCI patients and healthy controls in pre- and post-acupuncture resting state. Then, a two-way ANCOVA with repeated measures with post-hoc two sample t-tests was performed to explore the different responses to acupuncture in the two groups.
The ANCOVA revealed a significant main effect of group, but no significant main effect of acupuncture and interactions between group and acupuncture. During the pre-acupuncture resting state, ReHo values increased in the precentral gyrus (PCG), superior frontal gyrus (SFG), and insula (INS) and decreased mainly in middle temporal gyrus (MTG), parahippocampal (PHIP) and cingulate cortex in MCI patients compared with healthy controls. Furthermore, we found that the regions including precuneus (PCUN), and cingulate cortex showed increased ReHo values for MCI patients following acupuncture. For healthy controls, the medial frontal gyrus, PCG, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and INS showed enhanced ReHo values following acupuncture. During the post-acupuncture resting state, MCI patients showed increased ReHo values mainly in the MTG, superior parietal lobule (SPL), middle frontal gyrus (MFG), supramarginal (SMG), and PCG, and decreased ReHo values mainly in the frontal regions, PHIP, and posterior cingulated cortex (PCC) compared to healthy controls.
Though we found some ReHo changes between MCI patients and healthy controls, the two-way ANCOVA results showed no significant effects after multiple corrections. Further study is needed to reveal the real acupuncture effects on MCI patients.
PMCID: PMC4072601  PMID: 24968124
20.  Probability method for Cerenkov luminescence tomography based on conformance error minimization 
Biomedical Optics Express  2014;5(7):2091-2112.
Cerenkov luminescence tomography (CLT) was developed to reconstruct a three-dimensional (3D) distribution of radioactive probes inside a living animal. Reconstruction methods are generally performed within a unique framework by searching for the optimum solution. However, the ill-posed aspect of the inverse problem usually results in the reconstruction being non-robust. In addition, the reconstructed result may not match reality since the difference between the highest and lowest uptakes of the resulting radiotracers may be considerably large, therefore the biological significance is lost. In this paper, based on the minimization of a conformance error, a probability method is proposed that consists of qualitative and quantitative modules. The proposed method first pinpoints the organ that contains the light source. Next, we developed a 0-1 linear optimization subject to a space constraint to model the CLT inverse problem, which was transformed into a forward problem by employing a region growing method to solve the optimization. After running through all of the elements used to grow the sources, a source sequence was obtained. Finally, the probability of each discrete node being the light source inside the organ was reconstructed. One numerical study and two in vivo experiments were conducted to verify the performance of the proposed algorithm, and comparisons were carried out using the hp-finite element method (hp-FEM). The results suggested that our proposed probability method was more robust and reasonable than hp-FEM.
PMCID: PMC4102351  PMID: 25071951
(100.3190) Inverse problems; (110.6960) Tomography; (170.3010) Image reconstruction techniques; (170.3660) Light propagation in tissues; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (170.6280) Spectroscopy, fluorescence and luminescence
21.  Altered functional brain networks in Prader–Willi syndrome 
NMR in biomedicine  2013;26(6):10.1002/nbm.2900.
Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic imprinting disorder characterized mainly by hyperphagia and early childhood obesity. Previous functional neuroimaging studies used visual stimuli to examine abnormal activities in the eating-related neural circuitry of patients with PWS. It was found that patients with PWS exhibited both excessive hunger and hyperphagia consistently, even in situations without any food stimulation. In the present study, we employed resting-state functional MRI techniques to investigate abnormal brain networks related to eating disorders in children with PWS. First, we applied amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation analysis to define the regions of interest that showed significant alterations in resting-state brain activity levels in patients compared with their sibling control group. We then applied a functional connectivity (FC) analysis to these regions of interest in order to characterize interactions among the brain regions. Our results demonstrated that patients with PWS showed decreased FC strength in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC)/inferior parietal lobe (IPL), MPFC/precuneus, IPL/precuneus and IPL/hippocampus in the default mode network; decreased FC strength in the pre-/postcentral gyri and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)/orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in the motor sensory network and prefrontal cortex network, respectively; and increased FC strength in the anterior cingulate cortex/insula, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC)/OFC and DLPFC/VLPFC in the core network and prefrontal cortex network, respectively. These findings indicate that there are FC alterations among the brain regions implicated in eating as well as rewarding, even during the resting state, which may provide further evidence supporting the use of PWS as a model to study obesity and to provide information on potential neural targets for the medical treatment of overeating.
PMCID: PMC3776442  PMID: 23335390
Prader; Willi syndrome; eating disorder; obesity; amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation; resting-state networks; functional MRI
22.  Incorporating MRI structural information into bioluminescence tomography: system, heterogeneous reconstruction and in vivo quantification 
Biomedical Optics Express  2014;5(6):1861-1876.
Combining two or more imaging modalities to provide complementary information has become commonplace in clinical practice and in preclinical and basic biomedical research. By incorporating the structural information provided by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the ill poseness nature of bioluminescence tomography (BLT) can be reduced significantly, thus improve the accuracies of reconstruction and in vivo quantification. In this paper, we present a small animal imaging system combining multi-view and multi-spectral BLT with MRI. The independent MRI-compatible optical device is placed at the end of the clinical MRI scanner. The small animal is transferred between the light tight chamber of the optical device and the animal coil of MRI via a guide rail during the experiment. After the optical imaging and MRI scanning procedures are finished, the optical images are mapped onto the MRI surface by interactive registration between boundary of optical images and silhouette of MRI. Then, incorporating the MRI structural information, a heterogeneous reconstruction algorithm based on finite element method (FEM) with L 1 normalization is used to reconstruct the position, power and region of the light source. In order to validate the feasibility of the system, we conducted experiments of nude mice model implanted with artificial light source and quantitative analysis of tumor inoculation model with MDA-231-GFP-luc. Preliminary results suggest the feasibility and effectiveness of the prototype system.
PMCID: PMC4052915  PMID: 24940545
(110.0110) Imaging systems; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (110.6955) Tomographic imaging
23.  Adipose Tissue Dendritic Cells Enhances Inflammation by Prompting the Generation of Th17 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92450.
Obesity has become a global challenge for public health. It has been reported that obesity is associated with chronic inflammation. However, the mechanism for the chronic inflammation contributes to obesity remains elusive.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In our study, we found a novel CD11c+ dendritic cell subset existed in murine adipose tissues which was immature phenotype. Moreover, as compared to the lean controls, the number of CD11c+ DCs and CD4+IL-17+T cells were higher in adipose tissue of high fat diet (HFD) mice. Adipose tissues derived dendritic cells (ATDCs) displayed lower levels of CD40, CD80, CD86, MHCI and MHCII expression than splenic DCs (SPDCs). However, ATDCs showed higher levels of IL-6, TGF-β and IL-23 secretion. Moreover, our in vitro experiments demonstrated that ATDCs were capable of promoting Th17 cell generation.
Our results indicate the existence of CD11c+ DCs in adipose tissues, which displays an immature phenotype but possessing pro-inflammatory function.
PMCID: PMC3958510  PMID: 24642966
24.  Islet-1 promotes the cardiac-specific differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells through the regulation of histone acetylation 
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of Islet-1 on the process of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation into cardiomyocyte-like cells and to elucidate the possible mechanisms involved. Lentiviral vectors expressing Islet-1 (Lenti-Islet-1) were constructed and used for C3H10T1/2 cell transfection. Cell morphology was observed. Cardiac-related genes and proteins were detected by qPCR and western blot analysis. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was used as an inhibitor of acetylated histone H3 (AcH3). AcH3 was detected by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Cells overexpressing Islet-1 tended to change into fibroblast-like cells and were arranged in the same direction. The enhanced expression of GATA binding protein 4 (Gata4), NK2 homeobox 5 (Nkx2.5), myocyte enhancer factor 2C (Mef2c) and cardiac troponin T (cTnT) was observed in the cells overexpressing Islet-1 following transfection with Lenti-Islet-1. However, the expression of hepatocyte-, bone- and neuronal-specific markers was not affected by Islet-1. The AcH3 relative amount increased following transfection with Lenti-Islet-1, which was associated with the enhanced expression of Gata4, Nkx2.5 and Mef2c in these cells. The expression of Gata4, Nkx2.5 and Mef2c in the C3H10T1/2 cells transfected with Lenti-Islet-1 and treated with EGCG was reduced following treatment with EGCG. The data presented in this study indicate that Islet-1 specifically induces the differentiation of C3H10T1/2 cells into cardiomyocyte-like cells, and one of the mechanisms involved is the regulation of histone acetylation.
PMCID: PMC4020474  PMID: 24604334
mesenchymal stem cells; cardiomyocyte; differentiation; histone acetylation
25.  Automated Delineation of Lung Tumors from CT Images Using a Single Click Ensemble Segmentation Approach 
Pattern recognition  2013;46(3):692-702.
A single click ensemble segmentation (SCES) approach based on an existing “Click&Grow” algorithm is presented. The SCES approach requires only one operator selected seed point as compared with multiple operator inputs, which are typically needed. This facilitates processing large numbers of cases. Evaluation on a set of 129 CT lung tumor images using a similarity index (SI) was done. The average SI is above 93% using 20 different start seeds, showing stability. The average SI for 2 different readers was 79.53%. We then compared the SCES algorithm with the two readers, the level set algorithm and the skeleton graph cut algorithm obtaining an average SI of 78.29%, 77.72%, 63.77% and 63.76% respectively. We can conclude that the newly developed automatic lung lesion segmentation algorithm is stable, accurate and automated.
PMCID: PMC3580869  PMID: 23459617
Image Features; Delineation; Lung Tumor; Lesion; CT; Region growing; Ensemble Segmentation

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