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1.  The Hypoxic Response Contributes to Altered Gene Expression and Pre-Capillary Pulmonary Hypertension in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease 
Circulation  2014;129(16):1650-1658.
Background
We postulated that the hypoxic response in sickle cell disease (SCD) contributes to altered gene expression and pulmonary hypertension, a complication associated with early mortality.
Methods and Results
To identify genes regulated by the hypoxic response and not other effects of chronic anemia, we compared expression variation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 13 SCD subjects with hemoglobin SS genotype and 15 Chuvash polycythemia subjects (VHLR200W homozygotes with constitutive up-regulation of hypoxia inducible factors in the absence of anemia or hypoxia). At 5% false discovery rate, 1040 genes exhibited >1.15 fold change in both conditions; 297 were up-regulated and 743 down-regulated including MAPK8 encoding a mitogen-activated protein kinase important for apoptosis, T-cell differentiation and inflammatory responses. Association mapping with a focus on local regulatory polymorphisms in 61 SCD patients identified expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) for 103 of these hypoxia response genes. In a University of Illinois SCD cohort the A allele of a MAPK8 eQTL, rs10857560, was associated with pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension defined as mean pulmonary artery pressure ≥25 and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure ≤15 mm Hg at right heart catheterization (allele frequency=0.66; OR=13.8, P=0.00036, n=238). This association was confirmed in an independent Walk-PHaSST cohort (allele frequency=0.65; OR=11.3, P=0.0025, n=519). The homozygous AA genotype of rs10857560 was associated with decreased MAPK8 expression and present in all 14 identified pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension cases among the combined 757 patients.
Conclusions
Our study demonstrates a prominent hypoxic transcription component in SCD and a MAPK8 eQTL associated with pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005296
PMCID: PMC4287376  PMID: 24515990
sickle cell disease; MAPK8; hypoxic response; expression quantitative trait loci; association mapping; pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension
2.  Iron deficiency modifies gene expression variation induced by augmented hypoxia sensing 
Blood cells, molecules & diseases  2013;52(1):10.1016/j.bcmd.2013.07.016.
In congenital Chuvash polycythemia (CP), VHLR200W homozygosity leads to elevated hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) levels at normoxia. CP is often treated by phlebotomy resulting in iron deficiency, permitting us to examine the separate and synergistic effects of iron deficiency and HIF signaling on gene expression. We compared peripheral blood mononuclear cell gene expression profiles of eight VHLR200W homozygotes with 17 wildtype individuals with normal iron status and found 812 up-regulated and 2120 down-regulated genes at false discovery rate 0.05. Among differential genes we identified three major gene regulation modules involving induction of innate immune responses, alteration of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and down-regulation of cell proliferation, stress-induced apoptosis and T-cell activation. These observations suggest molecular mechanisms for previous observations in CP of lower blood sugar without increased insulin and low oncogenic potential. Studies including 16 additional VHLR200W homozygotes with low ferritin indicated that iron deficiency enhanced the induction effect of VHLR200W for 50 genes including hemoglobin synthesis loci but suppressed the effect for 107 genes enriched for HIF-2 targets. This pattern is consistent with potentiation of HIF-1α protein stability by iron deficiency but a trend for down-regulation of HIF-2α translation by iron deficiency overriding an increase in HIF-2α protein stability.
doi:10.1016/j.bcmd.2013.07.016
PMCID: PMC3852195  PMID: 23993337
3.  Identifying Environmental Risk Factors of Cholera in a Coastal Area with Geospatial Technologies 
Satellites contribute significantly to environmental quality and public health. Environmental factors are important indicators for the prediction of disease outbreaks. This study reveals the environmental factors associated with cholera in Zhejiang, a coastal province of China, using both Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic information System (GIS). The analysis validated the correlation between the indirect satellite measurements of sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface height (SSH) and ocean chlorophyll concentration (OCC) and the local cholera magnitude based on a ten-year monthly data from the year 1999 to 2008. Cholera magnitude has been strongly affected by the concurrent variables of SST and SSH, while OCC has a one-month time lag effect. A cholera prediction model has been established based on the sea environmental factors. The results of hot spot analysis showed the local cholera magnitude in counties significantly associated with the estuaries and rivers.
doi:10.3390/ijerph120100354
PMCID: PMC4306866  PMID: 25551518
cholera; environmental factors; remote sensing; geographic information system (GIS); spatial analysis
4.  Multifunctional Core/Shell Nanoparticles Cross-linked Polyetherimide-folic Acid as Efficient Notch-1 siRNA Carrier for Targeted Killing of Breast Cancer 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7072.
In gene therapy, how genetic therapeutics can be efficiently and safely delivered into target tissues/cells remains a major obstacle to overcome. To address this issue, nanoparticles consisting of non-covalently coupled polyethyleneimine (PEI) and folic acid (FA) to the magnetic and fluorescent core/shell of Fe3O4@SiO2(FITC) was tested for their ability to deliver Notch-1 shRNA. Our results showed that Fe3O4@SiO2(FITC)/PEI-FA/Notch-1 shRNA nanoparticles are 64 nm in diameter with well dispersed and superparamagnetic. These nanoparticles with on significant cytotoxicity are capable of delivering Notch-1 shRNA into human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells with high efficiency while effectively protected shRNA from degradation by exogenous DNaseI and nucleases. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and fluorescence microscopy showed significant preferential uptake of Fe3O4@SiO2(FITC)/PEI-FA/Notch-1 shRNA nanocomplex by MDA-MB-231 cells. Transfected MDA-MB-231 cells exhibited significantly decreased expression of Notch-1, inhibited cell proliferation, and increased cell apoptosis, leading to the killing of MDA-MB-231 cells. In light of the magnetic targeting capabilities of Fe3O4@SiO2(FITC)/PEI-FA, our results show that by complexing with a second molecular targeting therapeutic, such as Notch-1 shRNA in this report, Fe3O4@SiO2(FITC)/PEI-FA can be exploited as a novel, non-viral, and concurrent targeting delivery system for targeted gene therapy as well as for MR imaging in cancer diagnosis.
doi:10.1038/srep07072
PMCID: PMC4233336  PMID: 25400232
5.  Simulation of Contrast Agent Transport in Arteries with Multilayer Arterial Wall: Impact of Arterial Transmural Transport on the Bolus Delay and Dispersion 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:803276.
One assumption of DSC-MRI is that the injected contrast agent is kept totally intravascular and the arterial wall is impermeable to contrast agent. The assumption is unreal for such small contrast agent as Gd-DTPA can leak into the arterial wall. To investigate whether the unreal assumption is valid for the estimation of the delay and dispersion of the contrast agent bolus, we simulated flow and Gd-DTPA transport in a model with multilayer arterial wall and analyzed the bolus delay and dispersion qualified by mean vascular transit time (MVTT) and the variance of the vascular transport function. Factors that may affect Gd-DTPA transport hence the delay and dispersion were further investigated, such as integrity of endothelium and disturbed flow. The results revealed that arterial transmural transport would slightly affect MVTT and moderately increase the variance. In addition, although the integrity of endothelium can significantly affect the accumulation of contrast agent in the arterial wall, it had small effects on the bolus delay and dispersion. However, the disturbed flow would significantly increase both MVTT and the variance. In conclusion, arterial transmural transport may have a small effect on the bolus delay and dispersion when compared to the flow pattern in the artery.
doi:10.1155/2014/803276
PMCID: PMC4322668
6.  Free Triiodothyronine Concentrations Are Inversely Associated with Microalbuminuria 
Thyroid function and microalbuminuria are both associated with vascular disease and endothelial damage. However, whether thyroid function is associated with microalbuminuria is not well established. The objective was to explore the relationship between thyroid hormones and microalbuminuria in Chinese population. A community-based cross-sectional study was performed among 3,346 Chinese adults (aged ≥ 40 years). Serum free triiodothyronine (FT3), free thyroxine (FT4), and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) were determined by chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay. A single-void first morning urine sample was obtained for urinary albumin-creatinine ratio measurement. The prevalence of microalbuminuria decreased according to FT3 quartiles (13.2, 9.5, 8.6, and 8.2%, P for trend = 0.0005). A fully adjusted logistic regression analysis showed that high FT3 levels were associated with low prevalent microalbuminuria. The adjusted odds ratios for microalbuminuria were 0.61 (95% CI, 0.43–0.87, P = 0.007) when comparing the highest with the lowest quartile of FT3. The exclusion of participants with abnormal FT3 did not appreciably change the results (OR = 0.69, 95% CI, 0.49–0.98, P = 0.02). We concluded that serum FT3 levels, even within the normal range, were inversely associated with microalbuminuria in middle-aged and elderly Chinese adults. FT3 concentrations might play a role in the pathogenesis of microalbuminuria.
doi:10.1155/2014/959781
PMCID: PMC4248482  PMID: 25484900
7.  IRS1 Genotype Modulates Metabolic Syndrome Reversion in Response to 2-Year Weight-Loss Diet Intervention 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(11):3442-3447.
OBJECTIVE
Genetic variants near IRS1 are associated with features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS). We examined whether genetic variants near IRS1 might modulate the effects of diets varying in fat content on the MetS status in a 2-year weight-loss trial.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Two variants near IRS1, rs1522813 and rs2943641, were genotyped in 738 overweight/obese adults (age 60 ± 9 years; BMI 32.7 ± 3.9 kg/m2) randomly assigned to one of four weight-loss diets (a deficit of 750 kcal/day of caloric intake from baseline) varying in macronutrient contents for 2 years. We compared MetS status of high-fat (40% of caloric intake; n = 370) and low-fat (20% caloric intake; n = 368) diet groups differentiated by genotypes (rs1522813 A-allele carriers and noncarriers and rs2943641T-allele carriers and noncarriers).
RESULTS
Among rs1522813 A-allele carriers, the reversion rates of the MetS were higher in the high-fat diet group than those in the low-fat diet group over the 2-year intervention (P = 0.002), while no significant difference between diet groups was observed among noncarriers (P = 0.27). The genetic modulation on dietary effect was independent of weight changes. The odds ratio (OR) for the 2-year reversion of the MetS was 2.88 (95% CI 1.25–6.67) comparing the high-fat and low-fat diets among rs1522813 A-allele carriers, while the corresponding OR was 0.83 (0.36–1.92) in noncarriers. The variant rs2943641 was not observed to modulate dietary effects on the MetS status.
CONCLUSIONS
Our data suggest that high-fat weight-loss diets might be more effective in the management of the MetS compared with low-fat diets among individuals with the A-allele of the rs1522813 variant near IRS1.
doi:10.2337/dc13-0018
PMCID: PMC3816909  PMID: 24009303
8.  Association between carotid intima-media thickness and index of central fat distribution in middle-aged and elderly Chinese 
Cardiovascular Diabetology  2014;13(1):139.
Background
Evidence has demonstrated that central fat distribution produces the most profound metabolic abnormalities and is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate whether the indexes of central fat distribution, including waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and visceral fat area (VFA), were stronger risk factors of subclinical atherosclerosis than body mass index (BMI) in Chinese adults.
Methods
A total of 3381 participants aged 40 years or older without history of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) were enrolled in the present cross-sectional study from the Songnan community, Shanghai, China. Height, weight and waist circumference (WC) were measured by experienced physicians. High-resolution B-mode ultrasonography was performed to measure carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT). Regional adiposity was measured by a dual-source computed tomography (CT) scanner.
Results
Normal weight but central obesity group (BMI < 23 kg/m2 and WHtR > 0.5) had higher levels of systolic blood pressure (SBP), fasting plasma glucose (FPG), 2 h post-load glucose (2 h PG), Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and CIMT, as well as an elevated prevalence of hypertension and diabetes compared with overweight/obesity but not central obesity group (BMI ≥ 23 kg/m2 and WHtR ≤ 0.5). In logistic regression analysis, WHtR > 0.5 was significantly and independently associated with elevated CIMT (odds ratio [OR] 1.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.68, p value = 0.044). Similar association was noted for each standard deviation (SD) increase of WHtR (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.07-1.47, p value = 0.006). Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis revealed that both WHtR and VFA were important determinants of CIMT, independent of other well-recognized risk factors (both p values < 0.01).
Conclusions
WHtR and VFA were associated with CIMT, independent of BMI and conventional CVD risk factors. Given the relatively high cost and complexness of VFA measurement, WHtR could be a more convenient and appropriate measure of abdominal obesity in clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0139-2
PMCID: PMC4219037  PMID: 25359238
Waist-to-height ratio; Visceral fat area; Carotid intima-media thickness
9.  Fast Modulation of Visual Perception by Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(12):1857-1863.
The basal forebrain provides the primary source of cholinergic input to the cortex, and it plays a crucial role in promoting wakefulness and arousal. However, whether rapid changes in basal forebrain neuron spiking in awake animals can dynamically influence sensory perception is unclear. Here we show that basal forebrain cholinergic neurons rapidly regulate cortical activity and visual perception in awake, behaving mice. Optogenetic activation of the cholinergic neurons or their V1 axon terminals improved performance of a visual discrimination task on a trial-by-trial basis. In V1, basal forebrain activation enhanced visual responses and desynchronized neuronal spiking, which could partly account for the behavioral improvement. Conversely, optogenetic basal forebrain inactivation decreased behavioral performance, synchronized cortical activity and impaired visual responses, indicating the importance of cholinergic activity in normal visual processing. These results underscore the causal role of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in fast, bidirectional modulation of cortical processing and sensory perception.
doi:10.1038/nn.3552
PMCID: PMC4201942  PMID: 24162654
10.  Inhibition of autophagy potentiates the efficacy of Gli inhibitor GANT-61 in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):768.
Background
Aberrant Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is often associated with neuroblastoma (NB), a childhood malignancy with varying clinical outcomes due to different molecular characteristics. Inhibition of Hh signaling with small molecule inhibitors, particularly with GANT-61, significantly suppresses NB growth. However, NB with MYCN amplification is less sensitive to GANT-61 than those without MYCN amplification.
Methods
Autophagic process was examined in two MYCN amplified and two MYCN non-amplified NB cells treated with GANT-61. Subsequently, chemical and genetic approaches were applied with GANT-61 together to evaluate the role of autophagy in GANT-61 induced cell death.
Results
Here we show that GANT-61 enhanced autophagy in MYCN amplified NB cells. Both an autophagic inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and genetic disruption of ATG5 or ATG7 expression suppressed GANT-61 induced autophagy and significantly increased apoptotic cell death, whereas pre-treatment with an apoptotic inhibitor, Z-VAD-FMK, rescued GANT-61 induced cell death and had no effect on the autophagic process. In the other hand, GANT-61 barely induced autophagy in MYCN non-amplified NB cells, but overexpression of MYCN in MYCN non-amplified NB cells recapitulated GANT-61 induced autophagy seen in MYCN amplified NB cells, suggesting that the level of GANT-61 induced autophagy in NB cells is related to MYCN expression level in cells.
Conclusion
Aberrant Hh signaling activation as an oncogenic driver in NB renders inhibition of Hh signaling an effective measure to suppress NB growth. However, our data suggest that enhanced autophagy concomitant with Hh signaling inhibition acts as a pro-survival factor to maintain cell viability, which reduces GANT-61 efficacy. Besides, MYCN amplification is likely involved in the induction of the pro-survival autophagy. Overall, simultaneous inhibition of both Hh signaling and autophagy could be a better way to treat MYCN amplified NB.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-768) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-768
PMCID: PMC4210511  PMID: 25323222
Neuroblastoma; GANT-61; MYCN amplification; Autophagy
11.  Comparative Study on “Long-Dan”, “Qin-Jiao” and Their Adulterants by HPLC Analysis 
“Long-Dan” and “Qin-Jiao” are two important TCM herbs since ancient times in China. In the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the dried roots and rhizomes of four species from the genus Gentiana, e.g. Gentiana manshurica, G. scabra, G. triflora and G. rigescens, are recorded under the name of Gentianae Radix et Rhizoma (“Long-Dan” in Chinese), while the other four species from the same genus including G. macrophylla, G. crassicaulis, G. straminea and G. duhurica are recorded and used as the raw materials of Gentianae Macrophyllae Radix (“Qin-Jiao” in Chinese). On the basis of the establishment of a validated HPLC–UV method for quantifying simultaneously, five iridoid glycosides, e.g. loganic acid (1), swertiamarinin (2), gentiopicroside (3), sweroside (4) and 2′-(o,m-dihydroxybenzyl)sweroside (5) have been used successfully as chemical markers for the comparison of the species used as “Long-Dan”, “Qin-Jiao” and their adulterants in the present study. The results suggested that four iridoid glycosides 1–4 commonly existed in both “Long-Dan” and “Qin-Jiao”, while 2′-(o,m-dihydroxybenzyl)sweroside (5) also existed as one of the major components in “Dian-Long-Dan” species. Moreover, the contents of compounds 1–5 were various in different “Long-Dan” and “Qin-Jiao” species. Herein, we profiled and compared three “Long-Dan” species, four “Qin-Jiao” species and five adulterants by applying multivariate statistical techniques to their HPLC data sets to establish the differences and/or similarities.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0039-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0039-x
PMCID: PMC4199948  PMID: 25280952
“Long-Dan”; “Qin-Jiao”; Gentiana; HPLC analysis; Iridoid glycosides
12.  Comparative Study on “Long-Dan”, “Qin-Jiao” and Their Adulterants by HPLC Analysis 
“Long-Dan” and “Qin-Jiao” are two important TCM herbs since ancient times in China. In the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the dried roots and rhizomes of four species from the genus Gentiana, e.g. Gentiana manshurica, G. scabra, G. triflora and G. rigescens, are recorded under the name of Gentianae Radix et Rhizoma (“Long-Dan” in Chinese), while the other four species from the same genus including G. macrophylla, G. crassicaulis, G. straminea and G. duhurica are recorded and used as the raw materials of Gentianae Macrophyllae Radix (“Qin-Jiao” in Chinese). On the basis of the establishment of a validated HPLC–UV method for quantifying simultaneously, five iridoid glycosides, e.g. loganic acid (1), swertiamarinin (2), gentiopicroside (3), sweroside (4) and 2′-(o,m-dihydroxybenzyl)sweroside (5) have been used successfully as chemical markers for the comparison of the species used as “Long-Dan”, “Qin-Jiao” and their adulterants in the present study. The results suggested that four iridoid glycosides 1–4 commonly existed in both “Long-Dan” and “Qin-Jiao”, while 2′-(o,m-dihydroxybenzyl)sweroside (5) also existed as one of the major components in “Dian-Long-Dan” species. Moreover, the contents of compounds 1–5 were various in different “Long-Dan” and “Qin-Jiao” species. Herein, we profiled and compared three “Long-Dan” species, four “Qin-Jiao” species and five adulterants by applying multivariate statistical techniques to their HPLC data sets to establish the differences and/or similarities.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0039-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0039-x
PMCID: PMC4199948  PMID: 25280952
“Long-Dan”; “Qin-Jiao”; Gentiana; HPLC analysis; Iridoid glycosides
13.  Enalapril inhibits tubulointerstitial inflammation and NLRP3 inflammasome expression in BSA-overload nephropathy of rats 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2014;35(10):1293-1301.
Aim:
Proteinuria is not only a common marker of renal disease, but also involved in renal tubulointerstitial inflammation and fibrosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of enalapril, an ACEI, against nephropathy in rats.
Methods:
Wistar rats underwent unilateral right nephrectomy, and then were treated with BSA (5 g·kg−1·d−1, ip), or BSA plus enalapril (0.5 g·kg−1·d−1, po) for 9 weeks. The renal lesions were evaluated using histology and immunohistochemistry. The expression of NLRP3, caspase-1, IL-1β and IL-18 was analyzed using immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR and Western blot.
Results:
BSA-overload resulted in severe proteinuria, which peaked at week 7, and interstitial inflammation with prominent infiltration of CD68+ cells (macrophages) and CD3+ cells (T lymphocytes), particularly of CD20+ cells (B lymphocytes). BSA-overload markedly increased the expression of NLRP3, caspase-1, IL-1β and IL-18 in the proximal tubular epithelial cells, and in inflammatory cells as well. Furthermore, the expression of IL-1β or IL-18 was significantly correlated with proteinuria (IL-1β: r=0.757; IL-18: r=0.834). These abnormalities in BSA-overload rats were significantly attenuated by concurrent administration of enalapril.
Conclusion:
Enalapril exerts protective effects against BSA-overload nephropathy in rats via suppressing NLRP3 inflammasome expression and tubulointerstitial inflammation.
doi:10.1038/aps.2014.66
PMCID: PMC4186985  PMID: 25152022
proteinuria; tubulointerstitial inflammation; NLRP3 inflammasome; enalapril
14.  Effect of IL-17A on the Migration and Invasion of NPC Cells and Related Mechanisms 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108060.
In carcinogenesis, inflammasomes may play contradictory roles through facilitating anti-tumor immunity or inducing oncogenic factors. Their function in cancer remains poorly characterized. In this study, we explored the effect of interleukin-17A (IL-17A) on the migration and invasion activity of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cell lines and account for related mechanisms. Our results revealed that exogenous IL-17A promoted cell migration and invasion significantly in both NPC-039 and CNE-2Z cell lines. In addition, the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)/-9 and Vimentin could be elevated by IL-17A stimulation; meanwhile the expression of E-cadherin was decreased. The results also show that IL-17A could activate the p38 signaling pathway in IL-17A-stimulated NPC-039 and CNE-2Z cell lines. Combining treatment with a p38 inhibitor (SB203580) resulted in decreased invasion capabilities of NPC-039 and CNE-2Z cell lines. SB203580 also inhibited the expression of MMP-2/-9 and increased the expression of E-cadherin in IL-17A-stimulated NPC-039 and CNE-2Z cell lines. IL-17A also could activate NF-κB in NPC-039 and CNE-2Z cell lines. In summary, our data show that IL-17A promote the cell migration and invasion of NPC cells. The effect of IL-17A on cell migration and invasion may be mediated via regulation of the expression of MMP-2/-9 and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) via p38-NF-κB signaling pathway. Thus, IL-17A or its related signaling pathways may be a promising target for preventing and inhibiting NPC metastasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108060
PMCID: PMC4171532  PMID: 25244643
15.  Association of natriuretic peptide polymorphisms with left ventricular dysfunction in southern Han Chinese coronary artery disease patients 
Background: Left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) occurs with myocardial ischemia and coronary artery disease (CAD). The natriuretic peptide system has compensatory vasodilatory, natriuretic and paracrine effects on LVD and subsequent heart failure. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between natriuretic peptide polymorphisms and risk of LVD in CAD patients. Methods: We recruited 747 consecutive Southern Han Chinese patients with angiographically confirmed CAD, 201 had a reduced left ventricle ejection fraction (LVEF ≤45%, LVD group) and 546 had a preserved left ventricle ejection fraction (LVEF >45%). The reduced and preserved LVEF groups were matched by gender and age. Taqman assays were performed to identify five polymorphisms in the NPPA-NPPB locus (rs5065, rs5063, rs632793, rs198388 and rs198389). Results: Single-locus analyses found no significant difference in the allele and genotype frequencies of the reduced and preserved LVEF group, even after adjusting for confounding factors. Subgroup analyses performed by hyperlipidemia (HLP) demonstrated 3 polymorphisms, rs632793 (OR = 0.31, 95% CI 0.1-0.93, P = 0.04), rs198388 (OR = 0.26, 95% CI 0.09-0.79, P = 0.02) and rs198389 (OR = 0.26, 95% CI 0.09-0.80, P = 0.02) were associated with the reduced risk of LVD. No CAD-susceptible haplotypes were identified. Multifactor dimensionality reduction analysis did not detect any gene-to-gene interactions among the five loci. Three loci (rs5063, rs632793 and rs198388) formed the best model with the maximum testing accuracy (39.89%) and cross-validation consistency (10/10). Conclusion: Three NPPA-NPPB polymorphisms (rs632793, rs198388 and rs198389) were associated with reduced risk of LVD in CAD patients with HLP.
PMCID: PMC4230134  PMID: 25400811
Left ventricular dysfunction; coronary artery disease; natriuretic peptide; polymorphism; heart failure
16.  Circulating adiponectin and cardiovascular mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: evidence of sexual dimorphism 
Cardiovascular Diabetology  2014;13(1):130.
Background
The pathogenesis of cardiovascular (CV) mortality, whose rate is increased in type 2 diabetes, is poorly understood.
While high serum adiponectin is associated with increased CV mortality in the general population, no data are available in type 2 diabetes.
We here investigated whether this counterintuitive association was observable also in diabetic patients and whether it was sex-specific.
Methods
Three prospective cohorts were analyzed: 1) Gargano Heart Study (GHS; 359 patients, 58 events/1,934 person-years; py); 2) Health Professional Follow-up Study (HPFS; 833 men, 146 events/10,024 py); 3) Nurses’ Health Study (NHS; 902 women, 144 events/15,074 py).
Results
In GHS serum adiponectin predicted CV mortality in men (hazard ratio, HR, and 95% CI per standard deviation, SD, increment = 1.54, 1.19-2.01), but not women (HR = 0.98, 0.48-2.01).
Circulating adiponectin predicted CV mortality in men from HPFS (HR = 1.44, 1.21-1.72), but not in women from NHS (HR = 1.08, 0.86-1.35), used as replication samples. In a pooled analysis, HRs were 1.47 (1.27-1.70) in 1,075 men and 1.07 (0.86-1.33) in 1,019 women (p for HRs heterogeneity across sexes = 0.018).
Conclusions
This is the first report showing that high circulating adiponectin predicts increased CV mortality in men, but not in women with type 2 diabetes. Further studies are necessary to unravel the mechanisms through which adiponectin influences CV mortality in a sex-specific manner.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0130-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0130-y
PMCID: PMC4172916  PMID: 25200659
Adipokines; Prospective studies; Paradoxical effect; Sex-linked genes
17.  Chemoprevention of Human Actinic Keratoses by Topical dl-α-Tocopherol1 
Prior research shows that topical application of free, non-fatty acid conjugated vitamin E (dl-α-tocopherol) prevents skin cancer in mice, as well as immunosuppression induced by UVB radiation (Nutr. Cancer 26, 183–191, 1996). This study investigated the chemopreventive potential of dl-α-tocopherol in humans through monitoring surrogate endpoint biomarkers in sun-damaged skin.
Methods
Contralateral arms of healthy human volunteers with actinic keratoses (AKs) were randomly assigned to receive either 12.5% dl-α-tocopherol or placebo in a crème base for 6 months. Changes in number of AKs, levels of p53 protein expression, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and polyamines were assessed along with skin and systemic vitamin E levels.
Results
Following treatment, plasma concentration levels of dl-α-tocopherol were unchanged, but skin levels were highly elevated (p<0.001). Levels of p53 and PCNA did not change significantly while number of AKs declined insignificantly in both placebo and treatment arms. Regression models demonstrated significant decreases in putrescine, spermidine, spermine, and total polyamine concentrations following treatment.
Discussion
Topically applied dl-α-tocopherol was substantially absorbed in skin, but the 6-month application did not significantly reduce numbers of pre-existing AKs on moderately to severely sun-damaged forearms. Increases in polyamine synthesis are expected during tumor initiation and promotion; conversely, the significant reductions in polyamine levels resulting from the topical dl-α-tocopherol application are consistent with reductions in tumorigenesis potential. Topical tocopherol did not normalize established sun-induced lesions, but dl-α-tocopherol induced reductions in polyamine metabolism are consistent with the inhibition of skin squamous cell carcinogenesis as seen in previous human trials and animal models.
doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-08-0210
PMCID: PMC4154592  PMID: 19336724
Actinic Keratosis; dl-α-tocopherol; p53; PCNA; p53 expression; polyamines
18.  Functional gene arrays-based analysis of fecal microbiomes in patients with liver cirrhosis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):753.
Background
Human gut microbiota plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cirrhosis complications. Although the phylogenetic diversity of intestinal microbiota in patients with liver cirrhosis has been examined in several studies, little is known about their functional composition and structure.
Results
To characterize the functional gene diversity of the gut microbiome in cirrhotic patients, we recruited a total of 42 individuals, 12 alcoholic cirrhosis patients, 18 hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related cirrhosis patients, and 12 normal controls. We determined the functional structure of these samples using a specific functional gene array, which is a combination of GeoChip for monitoring biogeochemical processes and HuMiChip specifically designed for analyzing human microbiomes. Our experimental data showed that the microbial community functional composition and structure were dramatically distinctive in the alcoholic cirrhosis. Various microbial functional genes involved in organic remediation, stress response, antibiotic resistance, metal resistance, and virulence were highly enriched in the alcoholic cirrhosis group compared to the control group and HBV-related cirrhosis group. Cirrhosis may have distinct influences on metabolic potential of fecal microbial communities. The abundance of functional genes relevant to nutrient metabolism, including amino acid metabolism, lipid metabolism, nucleotide metabolism, and isoprenoid biosynthesis, were significantly decreased in both alcoholic cirrhosis group and HBV-related cirrhosis group. Significant correlations were observed between functional gene abundances and Child-Pugh scores, such as those encoding aspartate-ammonia ligase, transaldolase, adenylosuccinate synthetase and IMP dehydrogenase.
Conclusions
Functional gene array was utilized to study the gut microbiome in alcoholic and HBV-related cirrhosis patients and controls in this study. Our array data indicated that the functional composition of fecal microbiomes was heavily influenced by cirrhosis, especially by alcoholic cirrhosis. This study provides new insights into the functional potentials and activity of gut microbiota in cirrhotic patients with different etiologies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-753) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-753
PMCID: PMC4171554  PMID: 25179593
End-stage liver disease; Intestines; Microbial communities; Alcohol; Microarray
19.  Silicon Dioxide Particles Deposited in Vessels and Cartilage of the Femoral Head 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2014;55(5):1447-1449.
Silicosis had been considered for decades as an illness with manifestations of lung fibrosis due to inhalation of overconcentrated SiO2 dust. To the best of our knowledge, studies have yet to report SiO2 deposits in any other tissues and organs. In the present case, while performing bilateral artificial total hip arthroplasty for one patient, we found that the articular cartilage of the bilateral femoral head was black. Therefore, specimens thereof were sent for pathological examination. Pathological examination (immunohistochemistry) and polarized light microscopy revealed the presence of considerable brown, acicular, rhombic, and crumb-like crystals. The crystals were mainly composed of SiO2. SiO2 could deposit in vessels and femoral head cartilage via blood circulation.
doi:10.3349/ymj.2014.55.5.1447
PMCID: PMC4108837  PMID: 25048510
Silicon dioxide; vessels; cartilage; femoral head
20.  Combination of Alcohol and Fructose Exacerbates Metabolic Imbalance in Terms of Hepatic Damage, Dyslipidemia, and Insulin Resistance in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104220.
Although both alcohol and fructose are particularly steatogenic, their long-term effect in the development of a metabolic syndrome has not been studied in vivo. Consumption of fructose generally leads to obesity, whereas ethanol can induce liver damage in the absence of overweight. Here, Sprague-Dawley rats were fed ad libitum for 28 days on five diets: chow (control), liquid Lieber-DeCarli (LDC) diet, LDC +30%J of ethanol (L-Et) or fructose (L-Fr), and LDC combined with 30%J ethanol and 30%J fructose (L-EF). Body weight (BW) and liver weight (LW) were measured. Blood and liver samples were harvested and subjected to biochemical tests, histopathological examinations, and RT-PCR. Alcohol-containing diets substantially reduced the food intake and BW (≤3rd week), whereas fructose-fed animals had higher LW than controls (P<0.05). Additionally, leukocytes, plasma AST and leptin levels were the highest in the fructose-administered rats. Compared to the chow and LDC diets, the L-EF diet significantly elevated blood glucose, insulin, and total-cholesterol levels (also vs. the L-Et group). The albumin and Quick-test levels were the lowest, whereas ALT activity was the highest in the L-EF group. Moreover, the L-EF diet aggravated plasma triglyceride and reduced HDL-cholesterol levels more than 2.7-fold compared to the sum of the effects of the L-Et and L-Fr diets. The decreased hepatic insulin clearance in the L-EF group vs. control and LDC groups was reflected by a significantly decreased C-peptide:insulin ratio. All diets except the control caused hepatosteatosis, as evidenced by Nile red and H&E staining. Hepatic transcription of insulin receptor substrate-1/2 was mainly suppressed by the L-Fr and L-EF diets. The L-EF diet did not enhance the mitochondrial β-oxidation of fatty acids (Cpt1α and Ppar-α expressions) compared to the L-Et or L-Fr diet. Together, our data provide evidence for the coaction of ethanol and fructose with a high-fat-diet on dyslipidemia and insulin resistance-accompanied liver damage.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104220
PMCID: PMC4125190  PMID: 25101998
21.  Gradient-based high precision alignment of cryo-electron subtomograms 
Whole cell cryo-electron tomography emerges as an important component for structural system biology approaches. It allows the localization and structural characterization of macromolecular complexes in near living conditions. However, the method is hampered by low resolution, missing data and low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). To overcome some of these difficulties one can align and average a large set of subtomograms. Existing alignment methods are mostly based on an exhaustive scanning and sampling of all but discrete relative rotations and translations of one subtomogram with respect to the other. In this paper, we propose a gradient-guided alignment method based on two subtomogram similarity measures. We also propose a stochastic parallel optimization that increases significantly the efficiency for the simultaneous refinement of a set of alignment candidates. Results on simulated data of model complexes and experimental structures of protein complexes show that even for highly distorted subtomograms and with only a small number of very sparsely distributed initial alignment seeds, our method can accurately recover true transformations with a significantly higher precision than scanning based alignment methods.
doi:10.1109/ISB.2011.6033166
PMCID: PMC4108348  PMID: 25068871
22.  Highly Oxygenated Limonoids and Lignans from Phyllanthus flexuosus 
Abstract
Two new highly oxygenated limonoids, flexuosoids A (1) and B (2), and three new arylnaphthalene lignan glycosides, phyllanthusmins D–F (3–5), were isolated from the roots of Phyllanthus flexuosus, in addition to three known lignans, phyllanthusmin C, arabelline, and (+)-diasyringaresinol. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of detailed spectroscopic analysis and chemical methods. Compounds 1 and 2, two new decaoxygenated limonoids with a C-19/29 lactol bridge and heptaoxygenated substituents at C-1, C-2, C-3, C-7, C-11, C-17, and C-30, represent the second example of limonoids in the Euphorbiaceae family. Most of the isolates were tested for their antifeedant, anti-herpes simplex virus 1, and cytotoxic activities. The new limonoids 1 and 2 showed promising antifeedant activity against the beet army worm (Spodoptera exigua) with EC50 values of 25.1 and 17.3 μg/cm2, respectively. In addition, both of them displayed moderate cytotoxicity against the ECA109 human esophagus cancer cell line, along with the known lignan glycoside, phyllanthusmin C, with the IC50 values of 11.5 (1), 8.5 (2), and 7.8 (phyllanthusmin C) μM, respectively.
Graphical Abstract
Two new highly oxygenated limonoids, flexuosoids A (1) and B (2), and three new arylnaphthalene lignan glycosides, phyllanthusmins D–F (3–5), were isolated from the roots of Phyllanthus flexuosus, along with three known lignans. Flexuosoids A (1) and B (2) showed promising antifeedant activity against the beet army worm (Spodoptera exigua) with EC50 values of 25.1 and 17.3 μg/cm2, respectively. In addition, both of them and the known lignan glycoside, phyllanthusmin C, displayed moderate cytotoxicity against the ECA109 human esophagus cancer cell line, with the IC50 values of 11.5, 8.5, and 7.8 μM, respectively.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0026-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0026-2
PMCID: PMC4111870  PMID: 25089242
Phyllanthus flexuosus; Euphorbiaceae; Limonoids; Lignan glycosides; Antifeedant; Antiviral; Cytotoxicity
23.  Highly Oxygenated Limonoids and Lignans from Phyllanthus flexuosus 
Abstract
Two new highly oxygenated limonoids, flexuosoids A (1) and B (2), and three new arylnaphthalene lignan glycosides, phyllanthusmins D–F (3–5), were isolated from the roots of Phyllanthus flexuosus, in addition to three known lignans, phyllanthusmin C, arabelline, and (+)-diasyringaresinol. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of detailed spectroscopic analysis and chemical methods. Compounds 1 and 2, two new decaoxygenated limonoids with a C-19/29 lactol bridge and heptaoxygenated substituents at C-1, C-2, C-3, C-7, C-11, C-17, and C-30, represent the second example of limonoids in the Euphorbiaceae family. Most of the isolates were tested for their antifeedant, anti-herpes simplex virus 1, and cytotoxic activities. The new limonoids 1 and 2 showed promising antifeedant activity against the beet army worm (Spodoptera exigua) with EC50 values of 25.1 and 17.3 μg/cm2, respectively. In addition, both of them displayed moderate cytotoxicity against the ECA109 human esophagus cancer cell line, along with the known lignan glycoside, phyllanthusmin C, with the IC50 values of 11.5 (1), 8.5 (2), and 7.8 (phyllanthusmin C) μM, respectively.
Graphical Abstract
Two new highly oxygenated limonoids, flexuosoids A (1) and B (2), and three new arylnaphthalene lignan glycosides, phyllanthusmins D–F (3–5), were isolated from the roots of Phyllanthus flexuosus, along with three known lignans. Flexuosoids A (1) and B (2) showed promising antifeedant activity against the beet army worm (Spodoptera exigua) with EC50 values of 25.1 and 17.3 μg/cm2, respectively. In addition, both of them and the known lignan glycoside, phyllanthusmin C, displayed moderate cytotoxicity against the ECA109 human esophagus cancer cell line, with the IC50 values of 11.5, 8.5, and 7.8 μM, respectively.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0026-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s13659-014-0026-2
PMCID: PMC4111870  PMID: 25089242
Phyllanthus flexuosus; Euphorbiaceae; Limonoids; Lignan glycosides; Antifeedant; Antiviral; Cytotoxicity
24.  Circulating Prolactin Associates With Diabetes and Impaired Glucose Regulation 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(7):1974-1980.
OBJECTIVE
Prolactin is a major stimulus for the β-cell adaptation during gestation and guards postpartum women against gestational diabetes. Most studies of the role of prolactin on glucose metabolism have been conducted in humans and animals during pregnancy. However, little is known concerning the association between circulating prolactin and glucose metabolism outside pregnancy in epidemiological studies. We aimed to determine whether the variation of circulating prolactin concentration associates with diabetes and impaired glucose regulation (IGR) in a cross-sectional study.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We recruited 2,377 participants (1,034 men and 1,343 postmenopausal women) without hyperprolactinemia, aged 40 years and older, in Shanghai, China. Diabetes and IGR were determined by an oral glucose tolerance test. Multinomial logit analyses were performed to evaluate the relationship of prolactin with diabetes and IGR.
RESULTS
Prolactin levels decreased from normal glucose regulation to IGR to diabetes. Multinomial logit analyses, adjusted for potential confounding factors, showed that high circulating prolactin was associated with lower prevalence of diabetes and IGR. The adjusted odds ratios (95% CI) for IGR and diabetes for the highest compared with the lowest quartile of prolactin were 0.54 (95% CI 0.33–0.89) and 0.38 (0.24–0.59) in men and 0.54 (0.36–0.81) and 0.47 (0.32–0.70) in women.
CONCLUSIONS
High circulating prolactin associates with lower prevalence of diabetes and IGR in the current study. Further studies are warranted to confirm this association.
doi:10.2337/dc12-1893
PMCID: PMC3687322  PMID: 23340889
25.  Hepatitis B virus infection in a cohort of HIV infected blood donors and AIDS patients in Sichuan, China 
Background
Co-infections of HBV and HIV are frequent due to similar routes of transmission. In that transmission through blood is an important route for both HBV and HIV, evaluation of the prevalence of HBV in HIV infected blood donors may be important for transfusion safety. In addition, because the epidemiological characteristics of HBV in HIV infected patients and blood donors may differ from each other, understanding of it could be significant for therapy and prevention of HBV in HIV infected adults. However, data reported on these in Chinese people remains limited.
Methods
614 HIV confirmed positive samples were collected from blood donors and patients and were screened for HBsAg and HBV DNA. The samples screened reactive for HBsAg or positive for HBV DNA were tested for the other serological markers of HBV including anti-HBs, HBeAg, anti-HBe and anti-HBc. For the samples tested positive for HBV DNA, the S region of HBV was amplified by nested PCR and the HBV genotypes were determined.
Results
HBV coinfections were found in 12.9% (79/614) HIV infected individuals including 42/417(10.1%) blood donors and 37/197 (18.8%) AIDS patients. In the HBsAg positive individuals, 80.0% were HBeAg negative in which 10.0% were HBV DNA negative and 38.3% with HBV DNA lower than 2000 IU/ml. The average HBV DNA levels were lower in donors than in patients. In the HBV DNA positive populations, HBV genotypes B, A and C accounted for 48.1%, 22.8% and 8.86% respectively. Mutations related to the failure of HBsAg detection were found in 2 of the 4 HBsAg-/HBV DNA + subjects.
Conclusions
High prevalence of HBV in HIV infected individuals was found in this study. Hence, we recommend routine testing of HBV for patients newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in China. Some HIV-HBV co-infected patients remain undiagnosed if only conventional serological markers for HBV are used and it’s important to detect HBV DNA for HIV infected patients. HBV DNA levels were relatively low in HBeAg negative patients, thus this serologic marker may be useful in prioritizing patients on their need for HBV treatment in settings in which HBV DNA is not available.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-12-164
PMCID: PMC4067527  PMID: 24923206
HIV; HBV; Blood donors; AIDS patients

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