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1.  IL-17 response mediates acute lung injury induced by the 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus 
Cell Research  2011;22(3):528-538.
The 2009 flu pandemic involved the emergence of a new strain of a swine-origin H1N1 influenza virus (S-OIV H1N1) that infected almost every country in the world. Most infections resulted in respiratory illness and some severe cases resulted in acute lung injury. In this report, we are the first to describe a mouse model of S-OIV virus infection with acute lung injury and immune responses that reflect human clinical disease. The clinical efficacy of the antiviral oseltamivir (Tamiflu) administered in the early stages of S-OIV H1N1 infection was confirmed in the mouse model. Moreover, elevated levels of IL-17, Th-17 mediators and IL-17-responsive cytokines were found in serum samples of S-OIV-infected patients in Beijing. IL-17 deficiency or treatment with monoclonal antibodies against IL-17-ameliorated acute lung injury induced by the S-OIV H1N1 virus in mice. These results suggest that IL-17 plays an important role in S-OIV-induced acute lung injury and that monoclonal antibodies against IL-17 could be useful as a potential therapeutic remedy for future S-OIV H1N1 pandemics.
PMCID: PMC3292301  PMID: 22025253
cytokine; acute lung injury; S-OIV H1N1
2.  Novel Cathelicidins from Pigeon Highlights Evolutionary Convergence in Avain Cathelicidins and Functions in Modulation of Innate Immunity 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11082.
Cathelicidins are short cationic host defense peptides and play a central role in host innate immune system. Here we identified two novel cathelicidins, Cl-CATH2 and 3, from Columba livia. Evolutionary analysis of avian cathelicidins via phylogenetic tree and Ka/Ks calculations supported the positive selection that prompted evolution of CATH2 to CATH1 and 3, which originate from common ancestor and could belong to one superfamily. Cl-CATH2 and 3 both adopt amphipathic α-helical comformations identified by circular dichroism and the 3D structures built by Rosetta. Cl-CATH2 of CATH2 family with the most expression abundance in bird, exhibited relatively weak antimicrobial activity, but acted instead on the innate immune response without showing undesirable toxicities. In macrophages primed by LPS, Cl-CATH2 significantly down-regulated the gene and protein expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase and pro-inflammatory cytokines while enhancing the anti-inflammatory cytokine, acting through MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways. Molecular docking shows for the first time that cathelicidin binds to the opening region of LPS-binding pocket on myeloid differentiation factor 2 (MD-2) of toll-like receptor (TLR)4-MD-2 complex, which in turn inhibits the TLR4 pathway. Our results, therefore, provide new insight into the mechanism underlying the blockade of TLR4 signaling by cathelicidins.
PMCID: PMC4508531  PMID: 26194630
3.  Electric-field-induced strong enhancement of electroluminescence in multilayer molybdenum disulfide 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7509.
The layered transition metal dichalcogenides have attracted considerable interest for their unique electronic and optical properties. While the monolayer MoS2 exhibits a direct bandgap, the multilayer MoS2 is an indirect bandgap semiconductor and generally optically inactive. Here we report electric-field-induced strong electroluminescence in multilayer MoS2. We show that GaN–Al2O3–MoS2 and GaN–Al2O3–MoS2–Al2O3-graphene vertical heterojunctions can be created with excellent rectification behaviour. Electroluminescence studies demonstrate prominent direct bandgap excitonic emission in multilayer MoS2 over the entire vertical junction area. Importantly, the electroluminescence efficiency observed in multilayer MoS2 is comparable to or higher than that in monolayers. This strong electroluminescence can be attributed to electric-field-induced carrier redistribution from the lowest energy points (indirect bandgap) to higher energy points (direct bandgap) in k-space. The electric-field-induced electroluminescence is general for other layered materials including WSe2 and can open up a new pathway towards transition metal dichalcogenide-based optoelectronic devices.
The layer-number-dependent optical and electronic properties of transition metal dichalcogenides are promising in optoelectronics. Here, Li et al. demonstrate greatly enhanced electroluminescence emission in multi-layer MoS2 attributed to the electric-field-induced carrier redistribution.
PMCID: PMC4507000  PMID: 26130491
4.  Tumor necrosis factor-alpha induces VCAM-1-mediated inflammation via c-Src-dependent transactivation of EGF receptors in human cardiac fibroblasts 
Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is a proinflammatory cytokine and elevated in the regions of tissue injury and inflammatory diseases. The deleterious effects of TNF-α on fibroblasts may aggravate heart inflammation mediated through the up-regulation of adhesion molecules such as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). However, the mechanisms underlying TNF-α-induced VCAM-1 expression in cardiac fibroblasts remain unknown. This study aimed to investigate the roles of TNF-α in VCAM-1 expression and its effects on human cardiac fibroblasts (HCFs).
The primary culture HCFs were used in this study. The results obtained with Western blotting, real time-quantitative PCR, and promoter activity analyses showed that TNF-α-induced VCAM-1 expression was mediated through TNF receptor (TNFR) 1-dependent gene up-regulation. Activation of TNFR1 by TNF-α transactivated c-Src-dependent EGF receptor (EGFR) linking to PI3K/Akt cascade, and then led to transcriptional activity of NF-κB. Moreover, the results of promoter reporter assay demonstrated that the phosphorylated p65 NF-κB turned on VCAM-1 gene expression. Subsequently, up-regulation of VCAM-1 promoted monocytes adhesion to HCFs challenged with TNF-α determined by cell adhesion assay.
Taken together, these results indicate that in HCFs, activation of NF-κB by c-Src-mediated transactivation of EGFR/PI3K/Akt cascade is required for TNF-α-induced VCAM-1 expression. Finally, increased VCAM-1 enhances monocytes adhering to HCFs challenged with TNF-α. Understanding the mechanisms of VCAM-1 up-regulated by TNF-α on HCFs may provide rationally therapeutic interventions for heart injury or inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC4502472  PMID: 26173590
TNF-α; Cardiac fibroblasts; EGFR transactivation; VCAM-1; Monocytes adhesion
5.  Microarray Analysis Reveals Potential Biological Functions of Histone H2B Monoubiquitination 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133444.
Histone H2B monoubiquitination is a key histone modification that has significant effects on chromatin higher-order structure and gene transcription. Multiple biological processes have been suggested to be tightly related to the dynamics of H2B monoubiquitination. However, a comprehensive understanding of biological roles of H2B monoubiquitination is still poorly understood. In the present study, we developed an efficient tool to disrupt endogenous H2B monoubiquitination levels by using an H2BK120R mutant construct expressed in human cells. Genome-wide microarray analysis of these cells revealed a potential global view of biological functions of H2B monoubiquitination. Bioinformatics analysis of our data demonstrated that while H2B monoubiquitination expectedly affected a number of previously reported biological pathways, we also uncovered the influence of this histone modification on many novel biological processes. Therefore, our work provided valuable information for understanding the role of H2B monoubiquitination and indicated potential directions for its further studies.
PMCID: PMC4503354  PMID: 26177367
6.  Glycol chitosan incorporated retinoic acid chlorochalcone (RACC) nanoparticles in the treatment of Osteosarcoma 
Osteosarcoma is the most common of all the bone malignancies and accounts for 30-80 % of the primary skeletal sarcomas. The overall survival rate of patients with osteosarcoma is < 20 % suggesting poor prognosis.
The present study demonstrates the effect of retinoic acid chlorochalcone (RACC) incorporated glycol chitosan (GC) nanoparticle transfection in osteosarcoma cells. MG-63 and Saos-2 osteosarcoma cells were transfected with various concentrations of RACC-incorporated GC nanoparticle for 24 h. The effect on cell proliferation, Ezh2 expression, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, cell migration and invasiveness, Akt phosphorylation and local tumour growth and metastases were studied.
MG-63 and Saos-2 osteosarcoma cells on RACC-incorporated GC nanoparticle transfection for 24 h showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. Of the various concentrations of RACC tested, the effective concentration started from 5 μM with an IC50 of 20 μM. Wound healing assay also showed that RACC-incorporated GC nanoparticles inhibited migration of tumor cells more effectively compared to the parent RA. RACC transfection resulted in inhibition of cell proliferation, Ezh2 expression inhibition, apoptosis through mitochondrial pathway by decrease in membrane potential and release of cytochrome c and cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 phase. The invasiveness of cells treated with 5 and 20 μM RACC was decreased by 49 and 76 % respectively, compared to the control. RACC-treated mice showed significantly lower number of metastases compared to that in the control mice.
Thus, RACC-incorporated glycol chitosan nanoparticle strategy can be promising for the treatment of osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC4501080  PMID: 26170203
Osteosarcoma; Membrane potential; Migration; Inhibition; Glycol chitosan
7.  Numerical and experimental investigation of light trapping effect of nanostructured diatom frustules 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11977.
Recent advances in nanophotonic light-trapping technologies offer promising solutions in developing high-efficiency thin-film solar cells. However, the cost-effective scalable manufacturing of those rationally designed nanophotonic structures remains a critical challenge. In contrast, diatoms, the most common type of phytoplankton found in nature, may offer a very attractive solution. Diatoms exhibit high solar energy harvesting efficiency due to their frustules (i.e., hard porous cell wall made of silica) possessing remarkable hierarchical micro-/nano-scaled features optimized for the photosynthetic process through millions of years of evolution. Here we report numerical and experimental studies to investigate the light-trapping characteristic of diatom frustule. Rigorous coupled wave analysis (RCWA) and finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) methods are employed to investigate the light-trapping characteristics of the diatom frustules. In simulation, placing the diatom frustules on the surface of the light-absorption materials is found to strongly enhance the optical absorption over the visible spectrum. The absorption spectra are also measured experimentally and the results are in good agreement with numerical simulations.
PMCID: PMC4496668  PMID: 26155924
8.  Nonequilibrium Energy Transfer at Nanoscale: A Unified Theory from Weak to Strong Coupling 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11787.
Unraveling the microscopic mechanism of quantum energy transfer across two-level systems provides crucial insights to the optimal design and potential applications of low-dimensional nanodevices. Here, we study the non-equilibrium spin-boson model as a minimal prototype and develop a fluctuation-decoupled quantum master equation approach that is valid ranging from the weak to the strong system-bath coupling regime. The exact expression of energy flux is analytically established, which dissects the energy transfer as multiple boson processes with even and odd parity. Our analysis provides a unified interpretation of several observations, including coherence-enhanced heat flux and negative differential thermal conductance. The results will have broad implications for the fine control of energy transfer in nano-structural devices.
PMCID: PMC4495559  PMID: 26152705
9.  RAD6 Promotes Homologous Recombination Repair by Activating the Autophagy-Mediated Degradation of Heterochromatin Protein HP1 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;35(2):406-416.
Efficient DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair is critical for the maintenance of genome stability. Unrepaired or misrepaired DSBs cause chromosomal rearrangements that can result in severe consequences, such as tumorigenesis. RAD6 is an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme that plays a pivotal role in repairing UV-induced DNA damage. Here, we present evidence that RAD6 is also required for DNA DSB repair via homologous recombination (HR) by specifically regulating the degradation of heterochromatin protein 1α (HP1α). Our study indicates that RAD6 physically interacts with HP1α and ubiquitinates HP1α at residue K154, thereby promoting HP1α degradation through the autophagy pathway and eventually leading to an open chromatin structure that facilitates efficient HR DSB repair. Furthermore, bioinformatics studies have indicated that the expression of RAD6 and HP1α exhibits an inverse relationship and correlates with the survival rate of patients.
PMCID: PMC4272427  PMID: 25384975
10.  A Eukaryotic Expression Plasmid Carrying Chicken Interleukin-18 Enhances the Response to Newcastle Disease Virus Vaccine 
Interleukin-18 (IL-18) is an important cytokine involved in innate and acquired immunity. In this study, we cloned the full-length chicken IL-18 (ChIL-18) gene from specific-pathogen-free (SPF) chicken embryo spleen cells and provided evidence that the ChIL-18 gene in a recombinant plasmid was successfully expressed in chicken DT40 cells. ChIL-18 significantly enhanced gamma interferon (IFN-γ) mRNA expression in chicken splenocytes, which increased IFN-γ-induced nitric oxide (NO) synthesis by macrophages. The potential genetic adjuvant activity of the ChIL-18 plasmid was examined in chickens by coinjecting ChIL-18 plasmid and inactivated Newcastle disease virus (NDV) vaccine. ChIL-18 markedly elevated serum hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers and anti-hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (anti-HN)-specific antibody levels, induced the secretion of both Th1- (IFN-γ) and Th2- (interleukin-4) type cytokines, promoted the proliferation of T and B lymphocytes, and increased the populations of CD3+ T cells and their subsets, CD3+ CD4+ and CD3+ CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, a virus challenge revealed that ChIL-18 contributed to protection against Newcastle disease virus challenge. Taken together, our data indicate that the coadministration of ChIL-18 plasmid and NDV vaccine induces a strong immune response at both the humoral and cellular levels and that ChIL-18 is a novel immunoadjuvant suitable for NDV vaccination.
PMCID: PMC4278935  PMID: 25355794
11.  Serious mental illnesses associated with receipt of surgery in retrospective analysis of patients in the Veterans Health Administration 
BMC Surgery  2015;15:74.
The STOPP study (Surgical Treatment Outcomes for Patients with Psychiatric Disorders) analyzed variation in rates and types of major surgery by serious mental illness status among patients treated in the Veterans Health Administration (VA). VA patients are veterans of United States military service who qualify for federal care by reason of disability, special service experiences, or poverty.
STOPP conducted a secondary data analysis of medical record extracts for seven million VA patients treated Oct 2005-Sep 2009. The retrospective study aggregated inpatient surgery events, comorbid diagnoses, demographics, and postoperative 30-day mortality.
Serious mental illness -- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, or major depressive disorder, was identified in 12 % of VA patients. Over the 4-year study period, 321,131 patients (4.5 %) underwent surgery with same-day preoperative or immediate post-operative admission including14 % with serious mental illness. Surgery patients were older (64 vs. 61 years) and more commonly African-American, unmarried, impoverished, highly disabled (24 % vs 12 % were Priority 1), obese, with psychotic disorder (4.3 % vs 2.9 %). Among surgery patients, 3.7 % died within 30 days postop. After covariate adjustment, patients with pre-existing serious mental illness were relatively less likely to receive surgery (adjusted odds ratios 0.4-0.7).
VA patients undergoing major surgery appeared, in models controlling for comorbidity and demographics, to disproportionately exclude those with serious mental illness. While VA preferentially treats the most economically and medically disadvantaged veterans, the surgery subpopulation may be especially ill, potentially warranting increased postoperative surveillance.
PMCID: PMC4472400  PMID: 26084521
Bipolar disorder; Depressive disorder; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Schizophrenia; Surgical procedures; Operative; Veterans
12.  Effects of Mechanical and Chemical Pretreatments of Zirconia or Fiber Posts on Resin Cement Bonding 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129690.
The bonding strength between resin cement and posts is important for post and core restorations. An important method of improving the bonding strength is the use of various surface pretreatments of the post. In this study, the surfaces of zirconia (fiber) posts were treated by mechanical and/or chemical methods such as sandblasting and silanization. The bonding strength between the zirconia (fiber) post and the resin cement was measured by a push-out method after thermocycling based on the adhesion to Panavia F 2.0 resin cement. The zirconia and fiber posts exhibited different bonding strengths after sandblasting and/or silanization because of the different strengths and chemical structures. The zirconia post showed a high bonding strength of up to 17.1 MPa after a combined treatment of sandblasting and silanization because of the rough surface and covalent bonds at the interface. This effect was also enhanced by using 1,2-bis(trimethoxysilyl)ethane for the formation of a flexible layer at the interface. In contrast, a high bonding strength of 13.9 MPa was obtained for the fiber post treated by silane agents because the sandblasting treatment resulted in damage to the fiber post, as observed by scanning electron microscopy. The results indicated that the improvement in the bonding strength between the post and the resin cement could be controlled by different chemical and/or mechanical treatments. Enhanced bonding strength depended on covalent bonding and the surface roughness. A zirconia post with high bonding strength could potentially be used for the restoration of teeth in the future.
PMCID: PMC4466245  PMID: 26066349
13.  Epigenetic memory gained by priming with osteogenic induction medium improves osteogenesis and other properties of mesenchymal stem cells 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11056.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are highly plastic cells that are able to transdifferentiate or dedifferentiate under appropriate conditions. In the present study, we reported here that after in vitro induction of osteogenic differentiation, MSCs could be reverted to a primitive stem cell population (dedifferentiated osteogenic MSCs, De-Os-MSCs) with improved cell survival, colony formation, osteogenic potential, migratory capacity and increased expression of Nanog, Oct4 and Sox2. Most importantly, our results showed great superiority of the De-Os-MSCs over untreated MSCs in ectopic bone formation in vivo. Furthermore, Nanog-knockdown in MSCs could reverse these enhanced properties in De-Os-MSCs in vitro, indicating a central role of Nanog in the transcriptional network. In addition, epigenetic regulations including DNA methylation and histone modifications may play important roles in regulating the de-osteogenic differentiation process. And we found decreased methylation and promoter accrual of activating histone marks, such as H3K4me3 and H4ac on both Nanog and Oct4 gene promoters. Taken together, our study demonstrated that epigenetic memory in De-Os-MSCs gained by priming with osteogenic induction medium favored their differentiation along osteoblastic lineage with improved cell survival and migratory abilities, which may have application potential in enhancing their regenerative capacity in mammals.
PMCID: PMC4459169  PMID: 26053250
14.  Mitochondrial E3 ligase March5 maintains stemness of mouse ES cells via suppression of ERK signalling 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7112.
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) possess pluripotency, which is the capacity of cells to differentiate into all lineages of the mature organism. Increasing evidence suggests that the pluripotent state of ESCs is regulated by a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. The underlying mechanisms, however, are not completely understood. Here, we show that March5, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, is involved in maintaining mouse-ESC (mESC) pluripotency. Knockdown of March5 in mESCs led to differentiation from naive pluripotency. Mechanistically, as a transcriptional target of Klf4, March5 catalyses K63-linked polyubiquitination of Prkar1a, a negative regulatory subunit of PKA, to activate PKA, thereby inhibiting the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway. Moreover, March5 is able to replace a MEK/ERK inhibitor to maintain mESC pluripotency under serum-free culture conditions. In addition, March5 can partially replace the use of Klf4 for somatic cell reprogramming. Collectively, our study uncovers a role for the Klf4–March5–PKA–ERK pathway in maintaining the stemness properties of mESCs.
The pluripotent state of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) is regulated by extrinsic and intrinsic signals but the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. Here the authors show that the E3 ligase, March5, contributes to the maintenance of the pluripotent state in mESCs via suppression of ERK activation.
PMCID: PMC4458872  PMID: 26033541
15.  Tumor Hypomethylation at 6p21.3 Associates with Longer Time to Recurrence of High-Grade Serous Epithelial Ovarian Cancer 
Cancer research  2014;74(11):3084-3091.
In order to reveal biological mechanisms underlying clinical outcome of high-grade serous (HGS) epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOC), we evaluated the association between tumor epigenetic changes and time to recurrence. We assessed methylation at approximately 450,000 genome-wide CpGs in tumors of 337 Mayo Clinic patients. Semi-supervised clustering of discovery (n=168) and validation (n=169) sets was used to determine clinically relevant methylation classes. Clustering identified two methylation classes based on 60 informative CpGs, which differed in time to recurrence in the validation set (R versus L class, p =2.9×10−3, HR =0.52, 95% CI=0.34, 0.80). Follow-up analyses considered genome-wide tumor mRNA expression (n=104) and CD8 T cell infiltration (n=89) in patient subsets. Hypo-methylation of CpGs located in 6p21.3 in the R class associated with cis up-regulation of genes enriched in immune response processes (TAP1, PSMB8, PSMB9, HLA-DQB1, HLA-DQB2, HLA-DMA, and HLA-DOA), increased CD8 T-cell tumor infiltration (p=7.6 × 10−5), and trans regulation of genes in immune-related pathways (p=1.6 × 10−32). This is the most comprehensive assessment of clinical outcomes with regard to EOC tumor methylation to date. Collectively, these results suggest that an epigenetically mediated immune response is a predictor of recurrence and, possibly, treatment response for HGS EOC.
PMCID: PMC4054691  PMID: 24728075
ovarian cancer; tumor methylation; time to recurrence; 6p21.3; CD8 T-cell tumor infiltration
16.  Bidirectional Elastic Image Registration Using B-Spline Affine Transformation 
A registration scheme termed as B-spline affine transformation (BSAT) is presented in this study to elastically align two images. We define an affine transformation instead of the traditional translation at each control point. Mathematically, BSAT is a generalized form of the affine transformation and the traditional B-Spline transformation (BST). In order to improve the performance of the iterative closest point (ICP) method in registering two homologous shapes but with large deformation, a bi-directional instead of the traditional unidirectional objective / cost function is proposed. In implementation, the objective function is formulated as a sparse linear equation problem, and a sub-division strategy is used to achieve a reasonable efficiency in registration. The performance of the developed scheme was assessed using both two-dimensional (2D) synthesized dataset and three-dimensional (3D) volumetric computed tomography (CT) data. Our experiments showed that the proposed B-spline affine model could obtain reasonable registration accuracy.
PMCID: PMC4019704  PMID: 24530210
B-spline registration; affine registration; spline affine registration; iterative closest point; sparse linear equations
17.  The comparison of maintenance treatment with capecitabine (CMT) and non-maintenance treatment with capecitabine (non-CMT) in patients with metastatic breast cancer 
Aim: The study examined the response rate, response duration and toxicity of maintenance treatment (CMT) and non-maintenance treatment with capecitabine (non-CMT) in metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Material and methods: Between September 2009 and July 2013, a group of 82 patients with MBC, who had progressed after anthracycline/taxane chemotherapy, was treated with a capecitabine-based chemotherapy and divided into two groups. 54 patients received CMT 1.5 g twice a day from days 1 to 14, and 28 patients achieved non-CMT. Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. The median age of patients treated with CMT and non-CMT was 57 years (range 38-78) and 50 years (range 37-77). The evaluation of treatment effect was possible in all patients. Results: The overall response rate (ORR) was 29.7% (16 cases), including 3 (5.6%) complete responses (CR) and 13 (24.1%) partial responses (PR). Stable disease (SD) was observed in 7.4% of patients receiving CMT (54 patients). In the group receiving non-CMT, ORR was 3.6% (1 case). The median PFS in CMT group was 36 weeks, while in non-CMT group was 24 weeks. The most common adverse event was hematologic toxicity (74.1%), with the incidence of grade 1-2/3-4 was 70.4% and 3.7%. Hand-foot syndrome was the most frequent non-hematologic form of toxicity, occurring in 70.4% of cases. There were no treatment-related deaths. Conclusions: CMT is an effective and safe treatment for pretreated metastatic breast cancer patients. And CMT appears to be a more efficacious treatment than non-CMT.
PMCID: PMC4509356  PMID: 26221411
Metastatic breast cancer; CMT; capecitabine; chemotherapy
18.  Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal dietary plants used by the Naxi People in Lijiang Area, Northwest Yunnan, China 
Food and herbal medicinal therapy is an important aspect of Chinese traditional culture and traditional Chinese medicine. The Naxi are indigenous residents of the Ancient Tea Horse Road, and the medicine of the Naxi integrates traditional Chinese, Tibetan, and Shamanic medicinal systems, however, little is known about the medicinal dietary plants used by the Naxi people, or their ethnobotanical knowledge. This is the first study to document the plant species used as medicinal dietary plants by the Naxi of the Lijiang area.
Ethnobotancial surveys were conducted with 89 informants (35 key informants) from 2012 to 2013. Three different Naxi villages were selected as the study sites. Literature research, participatory investigation, key informant interviews, and group discussions were conducted to document medicinal dietary plants and the parts used, habitat, preparation methods, and function of these plants. The fidelity level (FL) was used to determine the acceptance of these medicinal dietary plants. Voucher specimens were collected for taxonomic identification.
Surveys at the study sites found that 41 ethnotaxa corresponded to 55 botanical taxa (species, varieties, or subspecies) belonging to 24 families and 41 genera. Overall, 60 % of documented plants belonged to seven botanical families. The most common families were Compositae (16.4 %) and Rosaceae (10.9 %). Roots (34.1 %) were the most common part used. Wild-gathered (68.3 %), semi-domesticated (17.1 %), and cultivated (14.6 %) were the most common habitats of medicinal dietary plants. Stewing plants with meat was the most common preparation and consumption method. The plants were used to treat 21 major health conditions; alleviating fatigue (42.8 %) was the most common. The maximum FL of 100 was found for 68.3 % of the medicinal dietary plants
The medicinal dietary plants used by the Naxi people are diverse and are used to treat a wide spectrum of body disorders. Further studies focusing on safety, detoxification, and nutritional value of the plants should be conducted to allow them to be used to improve health and prevent diseases in modern society.
PMCID: PMC4449607  PMID: 25962397
Medicinal dietary plant; Traditional Chinese medicine; Ethnobotany; Naxi; Lijiang
19.  Mitogen-activated protein kinase mediates mevalonate-stimulated human mesangial cell proliferation 
Molecular Medicine Reports  2015;12(2):2643-2649.
The metabolic products of intracellular mevalonate (MVA) are important for the growth of eukaryotic cells. These products include cholesterol and several non-sterol isoprenoids. It has been reported that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors ameliorate glomerular injury in several experimental models of progressive glomerular disease by inhibiting the production of MVA and its metabolites. However, the mechanisms by which MVA stimulates the growth of human mesangial cells (HMCs) remain to be elucidated. To investigate the role of MVA in HMC proliferation, apoptosis, cell cycle and accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM), the effects of MVA on HMCs at different durations and at various doses were evaluated. To examine the mechanisms of the effects of MVA on HMCs, the cells were treated with MVA, with or without PD98059, an extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibitor, SP600125, c-Jun NH2-teminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor, or SB203580, a P38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor. A 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide reduction assay was used to measure the proliferation of the HMCs, a flow cytometric assay was used to assess the proliferative index, and an ELISA was performed to determine the expression of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), Type IV and Type I collagen (Col-IV and Col-I). The expression of B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax), phosphorylated (p)-ERK1/2, p-JNK and p-p38 were also examined using western blot analysis. MVA significantly stimulated HMC proliferation and markedly increased the secretion of TGF-β1 and expression levels of Col-IV and Col-I. In addition, treatment with MVA significantly upregulated the expression of Bcl-2 and suppressed the expression of Bax in the HMCs. These responses were partially inhibited by the addition of inhibitors of ERK or JNK, however, they were not inhibited by the p38 MAPK inhibitor. These results demonstrated that MVA promoted HMC proliferation and ECM protein expression, which were associated with an increase in the expression of TGF-β1 and the inhibition of apoptosis. These effects were mediated, at least in part, by the JNK and ERK pathways.
PMCID: PMC4464046  PMID: 25936991
3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor; mevalonate; apoptosis; mesangial cell
20.  Oxidative stress and nitric oxide signaling related biomarkers in patients with pulmonary hypertension: a case control study 
Oxidative stress (OS) and reduced nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability contribute to the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH). Whether there are associations between OS and NO signaling biomarkers and whether these biomarkers are associated with the severity of PH remain unclear.
Blood samples were collected from 35 healthy controls and 35 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH, n = 12) or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH, n = 23). The mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) and pulmonary vascular resistance index (PVRI) were measured by right heart catheterization. We measured the derivative of reactive oxygen molecules (d-ROMs), biological antioxidant potential (BAP) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) by automatic biochemical analyzer, malondialdehyde (MDA) and asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The relationship between oxidative-antioxidative biomarkers and ADMA, as well as their association with pulmonary hemodynamics, were analyzed.
Compared with age- and gender-matched controls, there was no significant difference of d-ROMs in PAH and CTEPH patients; MDA was increased in CTEPH patients (P = 0.034); BAP and SOD were decreased in PAH (P = 0.014, P < 0.001) and CTEPH patients (P = 0.015, P < 0.001); ADMA level was significantly higher in PAH (P = 0.007) and CTEPH patients (P < 0.001). No association between oxidative-antioxidative biomarkers and ADMA was found. Serum ADMA concentration was correlated with mPAP (r = 0.762, P = 0.006) and PVRI (r = 0.603, P = 0.038) in PAH patients.
The antioxidative potential and NO signaling are impaired in PAH and CTEPH. Increased serum ADMA level is associated with unfavorable pulmonary hemodynamics in PAH patients. Thus, ADMA may be useful in the severity evaluation and risk stratification of PAH.
PMCID: PMC4477508  PMID: 25934483
Oxidative stress; Nitric oxide; Pulmonary hypertension; Biomarkers
21.  Initial thrombolysis treatment compared with anticoagulation for acute intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism: a meta-analysis 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2015;7(5):810-821.
The use of thrombolysis in patients with acute, intermediate-risk pulmonary embolism (PE) remains controversial. This meta-analysis compared the efficacy and safety of thrombolysis and anticoagulation treatments for intermediate-risk PE patients.
Two investigators independently reviewed the literature and collected data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of thrombolysis for intermediate-risk PE in the PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Chinese Biomedical Literature Databases (CBM).
A total of 1,631 intermediate-risk PE patients from seven studies were included. Significant differences were not found regarding the 30-day, all-cause mortality rates between the thrombolytic and anticoagulant groups [odds ratio (OR), 0.60; 95% confident interval (CI), 0.34-1.06; P=0.08]. The rate of clinical deterioration in the thrombolytic group was lower than that in the anticoagulant group (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.18-0.41; P<0.01). Recurrent PE in the thrombolytic group was also significantly lower than that in the anticoagulant group (OR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.15-0.77; P=0.01). Comparing the thrombolytic and anticoagulation groups, the incidence of minor bleeding was significantly higher in the thrombolytic group (OR, 5.33; 95% CI, 2.85-9.97; P<0.00001), but there were no difference in the incidences of major bleeding events (OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 0.60-7.16; P=0.25).
Thrombolytic treatment for intermediate-risk PE patients, if not contraindicated, could reduce clinical deterioration and recurrence of PE, and trends towards a decrease in all-cause, 30-day mortality. Despite thrombolytic treatment having an increased total bleeding risk, there was no difference in the incidence of major bleeding events, compared with patients receiving anticoagulation treatment.
PMCID: PMC4454855  PMID: 26101636
Thrombolytic therapy; anticoagulation treatment; efficacy; safety; pulmonary embolism (PE)
22.  miR-107 promotes hepatocellular carcinoma cell proliferation by targeting Axin2 
Background: A large number of studies demonstrated that microRNAs play important roles in the progression and development of human cancers. However, the expression level of miR-107 and its biological function in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear. Method: Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to evaluate the expression level of miR-107 in HCC tissues and cell lines. Then, we explored the function of miR-107 to determine its potential roles on HCC cell proliferation in vitro. Luciferase reporter assay was used to confirm the target gene of miR-107, and the results were validated in cell lines. Results: miR-107 was significantly up-regulated in HCC tissues and cell lines. The enforced expression of miR-107 was able to promote cell proliferation in HepG2 cells. At the molecular level, our results suggested that expression of Axin2 was negatively regulated by miR-107. Conclusion: Our observations suggested that miR-107 could promote HCC cells proliferation via targeting Axin2 and might represent a potential therapeutic target for HCC.
PMCID: PMC4503085  PMID: 26191213
Hepatocellular carcinoma; miR-107; Axin2; proliferation
23.  Impact of Somatic Mutations in the D-Loop of Mitochondrial DNA on the Survival of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124322.
The aim of this study was to investigate somatic mutations in the D-loop of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and their impact on survival in oral squamous cell carcinoma patients.
Materials and Methods
Surgical specimen confirmed by pathological examination and corresponding non-cancerous tissues were collected from 120 oral squamous cell carcinoma patients. The sequence in the D-loop of mtDNA from non-cancerous tissues was compared with that from paired cancer samples and any sequence differences were recognized as somatic mutations.
Somatic mutations in the D-loop of mtDNA were identified in 75 (62.5%) oral squamous cell carcinoma patients and most of them occurred in the poly-C tract. Although there were no significant differences in demographic and tumor-related features between participants with and without somatic mutation, the mutation group had a better survival rate (5 year disease-specific survival rate: 64.0% vs. 43.0%, P = 0.0266).
Somatic mutation in D-loop of mtDNA was associated with a better survival in oral squamous cell carcinoma patients.
PMCID: PMC4408030  PMID: 25906372
24.  Urinary Levels of High Mobility Group Box-1 Are Associated with Disease Activity in Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Autoantibody-Associated Vasculitis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123586.
High mobility group box-1 (HMGB1), a kind of pro-inflammatory mediator, is associated with inflammatory conditions and tissue damage. Our previous study demonstrated that the circulating levels of HMGB1 correlated with disease activity of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV). In the current study, we aimed to measure urinary levels of HMGB1 in AAV patients, correlated them to clinical activity index and analysed the immunohistochemical HMGB1 staining in kidney specimens.
50 patients with AAV in active stage and 56 patients with AAV in remission were recruited. The urinary levels of HMGB1 were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Moreover, renal biopsy specimens from 27 patients with active AAV were randomly collected to evaluate the deposition of HMGB1.
Urinary HMGB1 levels in AAV patients in active stage were significantly higher than those in AAV patients in remission and healthy controls (1.46 [0.56-3.43] versus 0.38 [0.10-1.35] mg/μmolCr, P=0.001; 1.46 [0.56-3.43] versus 0.48 [0.40-0.60] mg/μmolCr, P=0.000, respectively). Further analysis found that urinary levels of HMGB1 correlated with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (r=0.354, p=0.012), C-reactive protein (r=0.289, p=0.042), and Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (r=0.350, p=0.013). Renal tissue of active AAV patients showed HMGB1 was mainly expressed in the cytoplasm and the extracellular space. The percentage of HMGB1-negative nuclei in renal tissue of patients with active AAV was significantly higher than that in normal controls (60.6±20.2 % versus 2.7±0.6 %, p<0.01).
Urinary levels of HMGB1 may be associated with the disease activity in AAV patients.
PMCID: PMC4401773  PMID: 25884225
25.  A Novel 96well-formatted Micro-gap Plate Enabling Drug Response Profiling on Primary Tumour Samples 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9656.
Drug-based treatments are the most widely used interventions for cancer management. Personalized drug response profiling remains inherently challenging with low cell count harvested from tumour sample. We present a 96well-formatted microfluidic plate with built-in micro-gap that preserves up to 99.2% of cells during multiple assay/wash operation and only 9,000 cells needed for a single reagent test (i.e. 1,000 cells per test spot x 3 selected concentration x triplication), enabling drug screening and compatibility with conventional automated workstations. Results with MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines showed that no statistical significance was found in dose-response between the device and conventional 96-well plate control. Primary tumour samples from breast cancer patients tested in the device also showed good IC50 prediction. With drug screening of primary cancer cells must consider a wide range of scenarios, e.g. suspended/attached cell types and rare/abundant cell availability, the device enables high throughput screening even for suspended cells with low cell count since the signature microfluidic cell-trapping feature ensures cell preservation in a multiple solution exchange protocol.
PMCID: PMC4394194  PMID: 25866290

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