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1.  Serum dihydroxyacetone kinase peptide m/z 520.3 as predictor of disease severity in patients with compensated chronic hepatitis B 
Background & aim
Due to known limitations of liver biopsy, reliable non-invasive serum biomarkers for chronic liver diseases are needed. We performed serum peptidomics for such investigation in compensated chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients.
Methods
Liquid chromatography combined with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to identify differentially expressed peptides in sera from 40 CHB patients (20 with S0G0-S1G1 and 20 with S3G3-S4G4). Ion pair quantification from differentially expressed peptides in a validation set of sera from 86 CHB patients was done with multiple reaction monitoring (MRM).
Results
21 differentially represented peptide peaks were found through LC-MS/MS. Ion pairs generated from eleven of these peptides (m/z < 800) were quantified by MRM. Summed peak area ratios of 6 ion pairs from peptide m/z 520.3 (176.1, 353.7, 459.8, 503.3, 351.3, 593.1), which was identified as dihydroxyacetone kinase (DAK) fragment, decreased from mild to advanced stages of fibrosis or inflammation. Area Under Receiver Operating Characteristic Curves (AUROCs) of five ion models discriminating fibrosis degrees were 0.871 ~ 0.915 (S2-4 versus S0-1) and 0.804 ~ 0.924 (S3-4 versus S0-2). AUROCs discriminating inflammation grades were 0.840 ~ 0.902 (G2-4 versus G0-1) and 0.787 ~ 0.888 (G3-4 versus G0-2). The diagnostic power of these models provides improved sensitivity and specificity for predicting disease progression as compared to aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI), FIB-4, Forn’s index and serum DAK protein.
Conclusions
The peptide fragment (m/z 520.3) of DAK is a promising biomarker to guide timing of antiviral treatment and to avoid liver biopsy in compensated CHB patients.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-234
PMCID: PMC3851457  PMID: 24289155
Peptidome; Dihydroxyacetone kinase; Chronic hepatitis B; Multiple reaction monitoring; Liquid chromatography combined with tandem mass spectrometry
2.  18α-Glycyrrhetinic Acid Down-Regulates Expression of Type I and III Collagen via TGF-Β1/Smad Signaling Pathway in Human and Rat Hepatic Stellate Cells 
Objective: To investigate the effects of 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid (18α-GA) on the expression of type I and III collagen in human and rat hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and to explore the role of TGF-β1/Smad signaling pathway involved.
Methods: Following 18α-GA treatment, the cell viability and cell growth were detected to determine the optimal concentration of 18α-GA. The expressions of TGF-β1/Smad signaling-related genes including type I and III collagen in human and rat HSCs before and after 18α-GA treatment were measured by real time PCR. The expression of related proteins was verified by western blot assay. The phosphorylation level of Smad2 and Smad3 was detected by immunocytochemistry. The DNA binding activities of SP-1, AP-1 and NF-κB were measured by both EMSA and ArrayStar transcription factor activity assay.
Results: 18α-GA could decrease the mRNA and protein expression of Smad3, type I and III collagen, increase the Smad7 expression in human and rat HSCs (P<0.05), and reduce phosphorylation level of Smad3 at 24 h and 48 h after treatment. The DNA binding activities of transcription factors were suppressed by 18α-GA in human and rat HSCs at 24 h, and the activities reduced in a time dependent manner with the lowest activities at 48 h, especially for SP-1.
Conclusion: 18α-GA could inhibit the mRNA and protein expression of type I and III collagen in human and rat HSCs, which may be attributed to down-regulation of Smad3, up-regulation of Smad7, and inhibition of DNA binding activities of SP-1, AP-1 and NF-κB.
doi:10.7150/ijms.4395
PMCID: PMC3399217  PMID: 22811611
18α-glycyrrhetinic acid; hepatic stellate cell; TGF-β1/Smad; transcription factor
3.  18α-Glycyrrhizin induces apoptosis and suppresses activation of rat hepatic stellate cells 
Summary
Background
To investigate the potential mechanisms underlying the protective effects of 18α Glycyrrhizin (GL) on rat hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and hepatocytes in vivo and in vitro.
Material/Methods
Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were randomly divided into 5 groups: normal control group, liver fibrosis group, high-dose 18α GL group (25 mg/kg/d), intermediate-dose 18α GL group (12.5 mg/kg/d) and low-dose 18α GL group (6.25 mg/kg/d). The rat liver fibrosis model was induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). The expressions of α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) and NF-κB were determined by real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry.
Results
18αGL dose-dependently inhibited the CCl4-induced liver fibrosis. There were significant differences in the mRNA and protein expressions of αSMA between the fibrosis group and 18α-GL treatment groups, suggesting that 18α GL can suppress the proliferation and activation of HSCs. Few HSCs were apoptotic in the portal area and fibrous septum in the liver fibrosis group. However, the double-color staining of a-SMA and TUNEL showed that 18α-GL treatment groups increased HSC apoptosis. NF-κB was mainly found in the nucleus in the fibrosis group, while cytoplasmic expression of NF-κB was noted in the 18αGL groups. In the in vitro experiments, 18α GL promoted the proliferation of hepatocytes, but inhibited that of HSCs. HSCs were arrested in the G2/M phase following 18α GL treatment and were largely apoptotic.
Conclusions
18α-GL can suppress the activation of HSCs and induce the apoptosis of HSCs by blocking the translocation of NF-κB into the nucleus, which plays an important role in the protective effect of 18α-GL on liver fibrosis.
doi:10.12659/MSM.882196
PMCID: PMC3560665  PMID: 22207106
18α-glycyrrhizin; hepatocyte; hepatic stellate cell; proliferation; apoptosis

Results 1-3 (3)