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1.  miRNA-93 Inhibits GLUT4 and Is Overexpressed in Adipose Tissue of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Patients and Women With Insulin Resistance 
Diabetes  2013;62(7):2278-2286.
Approximately 70% of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have intrinsic insulin resistance (IR) above and beyond that associated with body mass, including dysfunctional glucose metabolism in adipose tissue (AT). In AT, analysis of the IRS/PI3-K/AKT pathway signaling components identified only GLUT4 expression to be significantly lower in PCOS patients and in control subjects with IR. We examined the role of miRNAs, particularly in the regulation of GLUT4, the insulin-sensitive glucose transporter, in the AT of PCOS and matched control subjects. PCOS AT was determined to have a differentially expressed miRNA profile, including upregulated miR-93, -133, and -223. GLUT4 is a highly predicted target for miR-93, while miR-133 and miR-223 have been demonstrated to regulate GLUT4 expression in cardiomyocytes. Expression of miR-93 revealed a strong correlation between the homeostasis model assessment of IR in vivo values and GLUT4 and miR-93 but not miR-133 and -223 expression in human AT. Overexpression of miR-93 resulted in downregulation of GLUT4 gene expression in adipocytes through direct targeting of the GLUT4 3′UTR, while inhibition of miR-93 activity led to increased GLUT4 expression. These results point to a novel mechanism for regulating insulin-stimulated glucose uptake via miR-93 and demonstrate upregulated miR-93 expression in all PCOS, and in non-PCOS women with IR, possibly accounting for the IR of the syndrome. In contrast, miR-133 and miR-223 may have a different, although yet to be defined, role in the IR of PCOS.
PMCID: PMC3712080  PMID: 23493574
2.  Damage Detection on Sudden Stiffness Reduction Based on Discrete Wavelet Transform 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:807620.
The sudden stiffness reduction in a structure may cause the signal discontinuity in the acceleration responses close to the damage location at the damage time instant. To this end, the damage detection on sudden stiffness reduction of building structures has been actively investigated in this study. The signal discontinuity of the structural acceleration responses of an example building is extracted based on the discrete wavelet transform. It is proved that the variation of the first level detail coefficients of the wavelet transform at damage instant is linearly proportional to the magnitude of the stiffness reduction. A new damage index is proposed and implemented to detect the damage time instant, location, and severity of a structure due to a sudden change of structural stiffness. Numerical simulation using a five-story shear building under different types of excitation is carried out to assess the effectiveness and reliability of the proposed damage index for the building at different damage levels. The sensitivity of the damage index to the intensity and frequency range of measurement noise is also investigated. The made observations demonstrate that the proposed damage index can accurately identify the sudden damage events if the noise intensity is limited.
PMCID: PMC4058814  PMID: 24991647
3.  Down-regulated γ-catenin expression is associated with tumor aggressiveness in esophageal cancer 
AIM: To evaluate the significance of γ-catenin in clinical pathology, cellular function and signaling mechanism in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
METHODS: The mRNA expression of γ-catenin was detected by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in 95 tissue specimens and evaluated for association with the clinicopathologic characteristics and survival time of patients with ESCC. siRNAs against human γ-catenin were used to inhibit γ-catenin expression. Hanging drop aggregation assay and dispase-based dissociation assay were performed to detect the effect of γ-catenin on ESCC cell-cell adhesion. Transwell assay was performed to determine cell migration. Luciferase-based transcriptional reporter assay (TOPflash) was used to measure β-catenin-dependent transcription in cells with reduced γ-catenin expression. The expression and subcellular localizations of β-catenin and E-cadherin were examined using Western blot and immunofluorescence analysis.
RESULTS: γ-catenin mRNA expression was significantly associated with tumor histological grade (P = 0.017) in ESCC. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that γ-catenin expression levels had an impact on the survival curve, with low γ-catenin indicating worse survival (P = 0.003). The multivariate Cox regression analysis demonstrated that γ-catenin was an independent prognostic factor for survival. Experimentally, silencing γ-catenin caused defects in cell-cell adhesion and a concomitant increase in cell migration in both KYSE150 and TE3 ESCC cells. Analysis of Wnt signaling revealed no activation event associated with γ-catenin expression. Total β-catenin and Triton X-100-insoluble β-catenin were significantly reduced in the γ-catenin-specific siRNA-transfected KYSE150 and TE3 cells, whereas Triton X-100-soluble β-catenin was not altered. Moreover, knocking down γ-catenin expression resulted in a significant decrease of E-cadherin and Triton X-100-insoluble desmocollin-2, along with reduced β-catenin and E-cadherin membrane localization in ESCC cells.
CONCLUSION: γ-catenin is a tumor suppressor in ESCC and may serve as a prognostic marker. Dysregulated expression of γ-catenin may play important roles in ESCC progression.
PMCID: PMC4024793  PMID: 24914344
γ-catenin; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Independent prognostic factor; Cell-cell adhesion; Cell migration
4.  Recent Research and Applications of Numerical Simulation for Dynamic Response of Long-Span Bridges Subjected to Multiple Loads 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:763810.
Many long-span bridges have been built throughout the world in recent years but they are often subject to multiple types of dynamic loads, especially those located in wind-prone regions and carrying both trains and road vehicles. To ensure the safety and functionality of these bridges, dynamic responses of long-span bridges are often required for bridge assessment. Given that there are several limitations for the assessment based on field measurement of dynamic responses, a promising approach is based on numerical simulation technologies. This paper provides a detailed review of key issues involved in dynamic response analysis of long-span multiload bridges based on numerical simulation technologies, including dynamic interactions between running trains and bridge, between running road vehicles and bridge, and between wind and bridge, and in the wind-vehicle-bridge coupled system. Then a comprehensive review is conducted for engineering applications of newly developed numerical simulation technologies to safety assessment of long-span bridges, such as assessment of fatigue damage and assessment under extreme events. Finally, the existing problems and promising research efforts for the numerical simulation technologies and their applications to assessment of long-span multiload bridges are explored.
PMCID: PMC4055108  PMID: 25006597
5.  Detection, Measurement, and Enhancement of Happiness 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:841206.
PMCID: PMC4054872  PMID: 24983005
6.  Overexpression of GRB2 is correlated with lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
The adapter protein growth factor receptor-bound 2 (GRB2) is essential for various basic cellular functions by mediating the regulation of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling, however, little is known about GRB2 expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We sought to characterize GRB2 expression and its relationship with clinicopathological parameters and prognostic significance in ESCC patients. Here, it was presented that GRB2 was overexpressed in cytoplasm in 58.1% (100/172) of ESCC cases by immunohistochemistry. Survival analysis demonstrated overexpression of GRB2 protein was significantly related to poor prognosis of ESCC patients (P = 0.021). Furthermore, overexpression of GRB2 was significantly associated with the lymph node metastases. In addition, subgroup analysis according to lymph node metastasis revealed a shorter disease-free survival (DFS) in the ESCC patients with GRB2 overexpression than the patients with GRB2 low-expression (Means for DFS months: 33.8 versus 52.1). Finally, the significant difference between overexpression of GRB2 and poor survival rates exhibited in univariate analysis (P = 0.022) and multivariate Cox analysis (close to significance, P = 0.065), demonstrated that GRB2 was an independent factor in prognosis of ESCC patients. In conclusion, GRB2 expression status could be as a positive biomarker of ESCC progression and lymph node metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4097250  PMID: 25031732
GRB2 expression; survival; lymph node metastasis; immunohistochemistry; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
7.  Climate-mediated cooperation promotes niche expansion in burying beetles 
eLife  2014;3:e02440.
The ability to form cooperative societies may explain why humans and social insects have come to dominate the earth. Here we examine the ecological consequences of cooperation by quantifying the fitness of cooperative (large groups) and non-cooperative (small groups) phenotypes in burying beetles (Nicrophorus nepalensis) along an elevational and temperature gradient. We experimentally created large and small groups along the gradient and manipulated interspecific competition with flies by heating carcasses. We show that cooperative groups performed as thermal generalists with similarly high breeding success at all temperatures and elevations, whereas non-cooperative groups performed as thermal specialists with higher breeding success only at intermediate temperatures and elevations. Studying the ecological consequences of cooperation may not only help us to understand why so many species of social insects have conquered the earth, but also to determine how climate change will affect the success of these and other social species, including our own.
eLife digest
The ability to live and work together in groups likely helped the earliest humans to leave their savannah homes in Africa and successfully settle around the globe. In doing so, humans shifted from being savannah specialists to generalists able to cope with a range of different environments. Cooperation is also believed to be a key to the global success of social insects like bees and ants. However, testing the idea that cooperation allows animals to become generalists that thrive in diverse environments—an idea referred to as the ‘social conquest hypothesis’—is difficult.
Climate change has added a new sense of urgency to understanding how species adapt to changing environments, and some studies of humans and other animals have suggested that cooperation may increase or decrease in changing environments. Living in social groups has both benefits and drawbacks: it helps some animals to avoid being eaten by predators, but it also creates more competition for mates, food or other resources. As such, predicting how climate change will impact human and animal societies has also been difficult to test.
Sun et al. have now tested the social conquest hypothesis by looking at how changes in environmental conditions affect the social behavior of the burying beetle. These insects find dead animals and then bury them to be eaten by their larvae. Burying beetles often fight each other to ensure that their own young get exclusive access to a food source. However, working together allows the beetles to bury a carcass before flies and other competitors discover it. Sun et al. compared how much the beetles cooperated at different elevations in the mountains of Taiwan. At each elevation the beetles faced different challenges: higher elevations were colder but had fewer flies, while lower elevations were warmer but had more flies.
Although burying beetles tended to work together more at warmer elevations, where the competition from flies was the most intense, beetles that cooperated with each other were able to successfully breed at all elevations. On the other hand, beetles that were less cooperative were best adapted to raising their young at more moderate elevations, where the climate and competition were less harsh. Similar results were seen when Sun et al. created non-cooperative and cooperative groups of beetles at different elevations and provided each group with a rat carcass. Further experiments that used heaters to artificially warm the carcasses directly proved that cooperation among beetles was indeed encouraged by higher temperatures.
Many studies have suggested that global warming might cause higher levels of conflict in human societies. But by studying how changes in an environment impact cooperation in burying beetles, Sun et al. provide new insights into how climate change may affect the future success of other social animals, including humans.
PMCID: PMC4042004  PMID: 24842999
social conquest; social conflict; grouping benefit; burying beetles; generalist-specialist; other
8.  Beneficial effects of muscone on cardiac remodeling in a mouse model of myocardial infarction 
Musk has been traditionally used in East Asia to alleviate the symptoms of angina pectoris. However, it remains unclear as to whether muscone, the main active ingredient of musk, has any beneficial effects on persistent myocardial ischemia in vivo. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether muscone can improve cardiac function and attenuate myocardial remodeling following myocardial infarction (MI) in mice. Mice were subjected to permanent ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery to induce MI, and then randomly treated with muscone (2 mg/kg/day) or the vehicle (normal saline) for 3 weeks. Sham-operated mice were used as controls and were also administered the vehicle (normal saline). Treatment with muscone significantly improved cardiac function and exercise tolerance, as evidenced by the decrease in the left ventricular end-systolic diameter, left ventricular end-diastolic diameter, as well as an increase in the left ventricular ejection fraction, left ventricular fractional shortening and time to exhaustion during swimming. Pathological and morphological assessments indicated that treatment with muscone alleviated myocardial fibrosis, collagen deposition and improved the heart weight/body weight ratio. Muscone inhibited the inflammatory response by reducing the expression of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β and nuclear factor (NF)-κB. Treatment with muscone also reduced myocardial apoptosis by enhancing Bcl-2 and suppressing Bax expression. Muscone also induced the phosphorylation of protein kinase B (Akt) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). Our results demonstrate that muscone ameliorates cardiac remodeling and dysfunction induced by MI by exerting anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects in the ischemic myocardium.
PMCID: PMC4072338  PMID: 24807380
muscone; myocardial infarction; myocardial remodeling; mouse model
9.  Eunicellin-Based Diterpenoids, Hirsutalins N–R, from the Formosan Soft Coral Cladiella hirsuta 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(5):2446-2457.
New eunicellin-type hirsutalins N–R (1–5), along with two known eunicellins, (6 and 7) were isolated from the soft coral Cladiella hirsuta. The structures of the metabolites were determined by extensive spectroscopic analysis. Cytotoxic activity of compounds 1–7 against the proliferation of a limited panel of cancer cell lines was measured. The in vitro anti-inflammatory activity of compounds 1–7 was evaluated by measuring their ability in suppressing superoxide anion generation and elastase release in fMLP/CB-induced human neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC4052299  PMID: 24796303
soft coral; Cladiellahirsuta; eunicellins: cytotoxic activity; anti-inflammatory activity
10.  Effects of Nitrogen Fertilizers on the Growth and Nitrate Content of Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) 
Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and development; however, due to environmental pollution, high nitrate concentrations accumulate in the edible parts of these leafy vegetables, particularly if excessive nitrogen fertilizer has been applied. Consuming these crops can harm human health; thus, developing a suitable strategy for the agricultural application of nitrogen fertilizer is important. Organic, inorganic, and liquid fertilizers were utilized in this study to investigate their effect on nitrate concentrations and lettuce growth. The results of this pot experiment show that the total nitrogen concentration in soil and the nitrate concentration in lettuce increased as the amount of nitrogen fertilizer increased. If the recommended amount of inorganic fertilizer (200 kg·N·ha−1) is used as a standard of comparison, lettuce augmented with organic fertilizers (200 kg·N·ha−1) have significantly longer and wider leaves, higher shoot, and lower concentrations of nitrate.
PMCID: PMC4025000  PMID: 24758896
inorganic fertilizer; lettuce; liquid fertilizer; nitrate; organic fertilizer
11.  Measurement of Fetal Abdominal and Subscapular Subcutaneous Tissue Thickness during Pregnancy to Predict Macrosomia: A Pilot Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93077.
This study assessed the growth trends and reference ranges of the ultrasound parameters, fetal abdominal subcutaneous tissue thickness (ASTT) and subscapular subcutaneous tissue thickness (SSTT), in the last two trimesters of normal pregnancy in a Chinese population. We recruited 744 healthy women with singleton pregnancies. The ASTT and SSTT were evaluated at different times between 21 and 36 weeks of gestation. The correlations between these parameters and fetal gestational weeks were assessed using linear regression analysis. Both ASTT and SSTT increased with gestation, and both parameters showed a strong correlation with gestation (ASTT vs. GA, R2 = 0.792; P<0.0001; SSTT vs. GA, R2 = 0.302; P<0.0001). Time-specific reference ranges, including 5th, 50th and 95th percentiles and means ± SD, were constructed for ASTT and SSTT. These results provide a preliminary reference range to evaluate whether fetal development and maternal metabolic health is normal or not in a Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3968095  PMID: 24675769
12.  Unilateral lateral mass fixation of cervical spinal low-grade chondrosarcoma with intralesional resection: A case report 
Oncology Letters  2014;7(5):1515-1518.
In total, ~10% of chondrosarcomas arise from the mobile spine, and these are prone to local recurrence despite being low-grade malignant tumors. Almost all patients will present with pain and a palpable mass in the area of the lesion. For adequate management of the disease, an early diagnosis and careful surgical staging are important. The present study reports a case of cervical spinal low-grade chondrosarcoma in a young female presenting with a slow-growing mass that had not metastasized during a 3-year period. A unilateral lateral mass fixation system of screws and rods was installed following an intralesional resection of the tumor. At present, two years following the surgery, the patient exhibits no neurological deficiency symptoms. Therefore, unilateral fixation presents an effective alternative technique for the treatment of patients with a lesion on the cervical spine.
PMCID: PMC3997676  PMID: 24765168
lateral mass fixation; chondrosarcoma; intralesional resection; cervical spine
13.  Tea consumption didn’t modify the risk of fracture: a dose–response meta-analysis of observational studies 
Diagnostic Pathology  2014;9:44.
Fractures are important causes of healthy damage and economic loss nowadays. The conclusions of observational studies on tea consumption and fracture risk are still inconsistent. The objective of this meta-analysis is to determine the effect of tea drinking on the risk of fractures.
A comprehensive literature search was conducted in PubMed, Embase and reference lists of the relevant articles. Observational studies that reported an estimate of the association between tea drinking and incidence of fractures were included. A meta-analysis was conducted by the STATA software.
A total of 9 studies involving 147,950 individuals that examined the association between tea consumption and risk of fractures were included in this meta-analysis. The odds risks (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were pooled using a random-effects model. The pooled OR of 9 observational studies for the tea consumption on risk of fracture was 0.89 (95% CI, 0.78-1.04). In the subgroup analyses, no significant association was detected in neither cohort studies (n = 3; OR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.89-1.06) nor case–control studies (n = 6; OR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.70-1.19), respectively. No significant association was detected in the dose–response meta-analysis.
Tea consumption might not be associated with the risk of fractures. The following large-sample and well-designed studies are required to confirm the existing conclusions.
Virtual slides
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PMCID: PMC4017777  PMID: 24588938
14.  Diagnostic and prognostic value of minor elevated cardiac troponin levels for percutaneous coronary intervention-related myocardial injury: a prospective, single-center and double-blind study 
Journal of Biomedical Research  2014;28(2):98-107.
Cardiac troponin-I (cTnI) and -T (cTnT) are sensitive and specific markers of myocardial injury. However, the role of increased cTnI and cTnT in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)-related myocardial injury remains controversial. In this prospective, single-center and double-blind study, we aimed to determine the diagnostic and prognostic value of cTnI as well as cTnT (cTns) in PCI-related myocardial injury in a Chinese population. A total of 1,008 patients with stable angina pectoris and non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome were recruited. The levels of cTnI and cTnT were examined before and after PCI. All patients were followed up for 26±9 months to observe the incidence of major adverse cardiac events (MACEs). Our results showed that post-PCI cTnI and/or cTnT levels were increased to more than the 99th percentile upper reference limit (URL) in 133 (13.2%) patients, among which 22 (2.2%) were more than 5 × 99th percentile URL. By univariate analysis, an elevation in cTns after PCI was not an independent predictor of increased MACEs, HR 1.35 (P  =  0.33, 95%CI: 0.74–2.46). In conclusion, our data demonstrate that the incidence of PCI-related myocardial injury is not common in a Chinese population and minor elevated cTns levels may not be a sensitive prognostic marker for MACEs.
PMCID: PMC3968280  PMID: 24683407
percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI); troponins; PCI-related myocardial injury; major adverse cardiac events; diagnosis; prognosis
15.  Environmental Impact Assessment and End-of-Life Treatment Policy Analysis for Li-Ion Batteries and Ni-MH Batteries 
Based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Eco-indicator 99 method, a LCA model was applied to conduct environmental impact and end-of-life treatment policy analysis for secondary batteries. This model evaluated the cycle, recycle and waste treatment stages of secondary batteries. Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries and Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries were chosen as the typical secondary batteries in this study. Through this research, the following results were found: (1) A basic number of cycles should be defined. A minimum cycle number of 200 would result in an obvious decline of environmental loads for both battery types. Batteries with high energy density and long life expectancy have small environmental loads. Products and technology that help increase energy density and life expectancy should be encouraged. (2) Secondary batteries should be sorted out from municipal garbage. Meanwhile, different types of discarded batteries should be treated separately under policies and regulations. (3) The incineration rate has obvious impact on the Eco-indicator points of Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. The influence of recycle rate on Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries is more obvious. These findings indicate that recycling is the most promising direction for reducing secondary batteries’ environmental loads. The model proposed here can be used to evaluate environmental loads of other secondary batteries and it can be useful for proposing policies and countermeasures to reduce the environmental impact of secondary batteries.
PMCID: PMC3987029  PMID: 24646862
Li-ion battery; Ni-MH battery; Life Cycle Assessment; Eco-indicator 99; cycle; recycle; incineration
16.  1H-Nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomic analysis of brain in mice with nicotine treatment 
BMC Neuroscience  2014;15:32.
Nicotine is rapidly absorbed from cigarette smoke and therefore induces a number of chronic illnesses with the widespread use of tobacco products. Studies have shown a few cerebral metabolites modified by nicotine; however, endogenous metabolic profiling in brain has not been well explored.
H NMR-based on metabonomics was applied to investigate the endogenous metabolic profiling of brain hippocampus, nucleus acumens (NAc), prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatum. We found that nicotine significantly increased CPP in mice, and some specific cerebral metabolites differentially changed in nicotine-treated mice. These modified metabolites included glutamate, acetylcholine, tryptamine, glucose, lactate, creatine, 3-hydroxybutyrate and nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which was closely associated with neurotransmitter and energy source. Additionally, glutathione and taurine in hippocampus and striatum, phosphocholine in PFC and glycerol in NAc were significantly modified by nicotine, implying the dysregulation of anti-oxidative stress response and membrane metabolism.
Nicotine induces significant metabonomic alterations in brain, which are involved in neurotransmitter disturbance, energy metabolism dysregulation, anti-oxidation and membrane function disruptions, as well as amino acid metabolism imbalance. These findings provide a new insight into rewarding effects of nicotine and the underlying mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3936859  PMID: 24558969
Metabolomics; Nicotine; Metabolite; NMR; Place preference
17.  Concurrent Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion and Intra-arterial Drug Infusion via Ipsilateral Common Carotid Artery Catheter in the Rat 
Journal of neuroscience methods  2012;213(1):63-69.
Pre-clinical development of therapy for acute ischemic stroke requires robust animal models; the rodent middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) model using a nylon filament inserted into the internal carotid artery is the most popular. Drug screening requires targeted delivery of test substance in a controlled manner. To address these needs, we developed a novel method for delivering substances directly into the ischemic brain during MCAo in the awake rat. An indwelling catheter is placed in the common carotid artery ipsilateral to the occlusion at the time of the surgical placement of the occluding filament. The internal and common carotid arteries are left patent to allow superfusion anterograde. The surgeries can be completed quickly to allow rapid recovery from anesthesia; tests substances can be infused at any given time for any given duration. To simulate clinical scenarios, the occluding filament can be removed minutes or hours later (reperfusion) followed by therapeutic infusions. By delivering drug intra-arterially to the target tissue, “first pass” loss in the liver is reduced and drug effects are concentrated in the ischemic zone. To validate our method, rats were infused with Evans blue dye either intra-arterially or intravenously during a 4 hour MCAo. After a 30 minute reperfusion period, the dye was extracted from each hemisphere and quantitated with a spectrophotometer. Significantly more dye was measured in the ischemic hemispheres that received the dye intra-arterially.
PMCID: PMC3570629  PMID: 23261656
Cerebral ischemia; stroke; middle cerebral artery occlusion; intraluminal filament; drug delivery
18.  An integrated clinico-metabolomic model improves prediction of death in sepsis 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(195):195ra95.
Sepsis is a common cause of death, but outcomes in individual patients are difficult to predict. Elucidating the molecular processes that differ between sepsis patients who survive and those who die may permit more appropriate treatments to be deployed. We examined the clinical features, and the plasma metabolome and proteome of patients with and without community-acquired sepsis, upon their arrival at hospital emergency departments and 24 hours later. The metabolomes and proteomes of patients at hospital admittance who would die differed markedly from those who would survive. The different profiles of proteins and metabolites clustered into fatty acid transport and β-oxidation, gluconeogenesis and the citric acid cycle. They differed consistently among several sets of patients, and diverged more as death approached. In contrast, the metabolomes and proteomes of surviving patients with mild sepsis did not differ from survivors with severe sepsis or septic shock. An algorithm derived from clinical features together with measurements of seven metabolites predicted patient survival. This algorithm may help to guide the treatment of individual patients with sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3924586  PMID: 23884467
19.  PHLPP1 gene deletion protects the brain from ischemic injury 
A recently discovered protein phosphatase PHLPP (PH domain Leucine-rich repeat Protein Phosphatase) has been shown to dephosphorylate Akt on its hydrophobic motif (Ser473) thereby decreasing Akt kinase activity. We generated PHLPP1 knockout (KO) mice and used them to explore the ability of enhanced in vivo Akt signaling to protect the brain against ischemic insult. Brains from KO mice subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) for 2 hours showed significantly greater increases in Akt activity and less neurovascular damage after reperfusion than wild-type (WT) mice. Remarkably, infarct volume in the PHLPP1 KO was significantly reduced compared with WT (12.7±2.7% versus 22.9±3.1%) and this was prevented by Akt inhibition. Astrocytes from KO mice and neurons in which PHLPP1 was downregulated showed enhanced Akt activation and diminished cell death in response to oxygen-glucose deprivation. Thus, deletion of PHLPP1 can enhance Akt activation in neurons and astrocytes, and can significantly increase cell survival and diminish infarct size after MCAO. Inhibition of PHLPP could be a therapeutic approach to minimize damage after focal ischemia.
PMCID: PMC3564187  PMID: 23072745
Akt; ischemia; middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO); PH domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase (PHLPP); stroke
20.  The Effects of Geometry on Skin Penetration and Failure of Polymer Microneedles 
Microneedles are small-scale devices that may be used for drug delivery and biosensing. In this study, the forces required for mechanical failure, the modes of mechanical failure, as well as the mechanisms for microneedle penetration into porcine skin were examined. Microneedles produced from the acrylate-based polymer e-Shell 200 using an indirect rapid prototyping approach involving two-photon polymerization and poly(dimethylsiloxane) micromolding were found to possess sufficient strength for penetration of porcine skin. The failure forces were an order of magnitude greater than the forces necessary for full insertion into the skin. Bending was the most common form of failure; an increasing aspect ratio and a decreasing tip diameter were associated with lower failure forces. Video captured during skin penetration revealed that microneedle penetration into the skin occurred by means of a series of insertions and not by means of a single insertion event. Images obtained during and after skin penetration confirmed microneedle penetration of skin as well as transdermal delivery of lucifer yellow dye. These findings shed insight into the mechanisms of microneedle penetration and failure, facilitating design improvements for polymer microneedles.
PMCID: PMC3610923  PMID: 23543070
microneedle; micromolding; acrylate-based polymer; porcine skin
21.  Bioactive Cembranoids, Sarcocrassocolides P–R, from the Dongsha Atoll Soft Coral Sarcophyton crassocaule 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(2):840-850.
New cembranoids, sarcocrassocolides P–R (1–3) and four known compounds (4–7) were isolated from the soft coral Sarcophyton crassocaule. The structures of the metabolites were determined by extensive spectroscopic analysis. Compounds 3–5 and 7 were shown to exhibit cytotoxicity toward a limited panel of cancer cell lines and all compounds 1–7 displayed potent in vitro anti-inflammatory activity in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophage cells by inhibiting the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) protein. Compound 7 also showed significant activity in reducing the accumulation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein in the same macrophage cells.
PMCID: PMC3944518  PMID: 24477285
soft coral; Sarcophyton crassocaule; cytotoxic activity; anti-inflammatory activity
22.  Mechanisms of Metabonomic for a Gateway Drug: Nicotine Priming Enhances Behavioral Response to Cocaine with Modification in Energy Metabolism and Neurotransmitter Level 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87040.
Nicotine, one of the most commonly used drugs, has become a major concern because tobacco serves as a gateway drug and is linked to illicit drug abuse, such as cocaine and marijuana. However, previous studies mainly focused on certain genes or neurotransmitters which have already been known to participate in drug addiction, lacking endogenous metabolic profiling in a global view. To further explore the mechanism by which nicotine modifies the response to cocaine, we developed two conditioned place preference (CPP) models in mice. In threshold dose model, mice were pretreated with nicotine, followed by cocaine treatment at the dose of 2 mg/kg, a threshold dose of cocaine to induce CPP in mice. In high-dose model, mice were only treated with 20 mg/kg cocaine, which induced a significant CPP. 1H nuclear magnetic resonance based on metabonomics was used to investigate metabolic profiles of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and striatum. We found that nicotine pretreatment dramatically increased CPP induced by 2 mg/kg cocaine, which was similar to 20 mg/kg cocaine-induced CPP. Interestingly, metabolic profiles showed considerable overlap between these two models. These overlapped metabolites mainly included neurotransmitters as well as the molecules participating in energy homeostasis and cellular metabolism. Our results show that the reinforcing effect of nicotine on behavioral response to cocaine may attribute to the modification of some specific metabolites in NAc and striatum, thus creating a favorable metabolic environment for enhancing conditioned rewarding effect of cocaine. Our findings provide an insight into the effect of cigarette smoking on cocaine dependence and the underlying mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3904956  PMID: 24489831
23.  miR-200b as a prognostic factor in breast cancer targets multiple members of RAB family 
miR-200b has been reported to be a tumor suppressor and a promising therapeutic target in cancer. miR-200b has been associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition and chemo-resistance in cancer. The aim of this study is to investigate the expression of miR-200b, its prognostic roles and its potential targets in breast cancer.
qRT-PCR was used to detect miR-200b expression in breast cancer tissues and cell lines. In situ hybridization of miR-200b on tissue microarray including 134 breast cancer samples was used to evaluate its prognostic role. Novel targets of miR-200b in breast cancer were predicted and confirmed by luciferase reporter assay and western bloting. Immunohistochemical staining was used for protein detection. The biological effects of miR-200b in breast cancer cells were further confirmed by ectopic expression of its mimics followed by MTT assay and invasion test.
miR-200b was downregulated in breast cancer tissues and cell lines and its low-expression correlated with poor outcome in breast cancer patients. Members of RAB family, RAB21, RAB23, RAB18 and RAB3B were predicted to be the targets of miR-200b. The luciferase reporter assay was performed to certificate this prediction. The expressions of RAB21, RAB23, RAB18 and RAB3B were suppressed by transfection of miR-200b in breast cancer cells. Over-expression of miR-200b or knock-down of RAB21, RAB23, RAB18 and RAB3B inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion in vitro.
Our study provides evidence that miR-200b is a prognostic factor in breast cancer targeting multiple members of RAB family. MiR-200b could be a potential therapeutic target in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3898994  PMID: 24447584
miR-200b; RAB family; Breast cancer; Prognosis
24.  The Strain at Bone-Implant Interface Determines the Effect of Spinopelvic Reconstruction following Total Sacrectomy: A Strain Gauge Analysis in Various Spinopelvic Constructs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85298.
There is still some controversy regarding the optimal biomechanical concept for spinopelvic stabilization following total sacrectomy for malignancy. Strains at specific anatomical sites at pelvis/sacrum and implants interfaces have been poorly investigated. Herein, we compared and analyzed the strains applied at key points at the bone-implant interface in four different spinopelvic constructs following total sacrectomy; consequently, we defined a balanced architecture for spinopelvic fusion in that situation.
Six human cadaveric specimens, from second lumbar vertebra to proximal femur, were used to compare the partial strains at specific sites in a total sacrectomy model. Test constructs included: (1) intact pelvis (control), (2) sacral-rod reconstruction (SRR), (3) bilateral fibular flap reconstruction (BFFR), (4) four-rods reconstruction (FRR), and (5) improved compound reconstruction (ICR). Strains were measured by bonded strain gauges onto the surface of three specific sites (pubic rami, arcuate lines, and posterior spinal rods) under a 500 N axial load.
ICR caused lower strains at specific sites and, moreover, on stress distribution and symmetry, compared to the other three constructs. Strains at pubic rami and arcuate lines following BFFR were lower than those following SRR, but higher at the posterior spinal rod construct. The different modes of strain distribution reflected different patient’s parameter-related conditions. FRR model showed the highest strains at all sites because of the lack of an anterior bracing frame.
The findings of this investigation suggest that both anterior bracing frame and the four-rods load dispersion provide significant load sharing. Additionally, these two constructs decrease the peak strains at bone-implant interface, thus determining the theoretical surgical technique to achieve optimal stress dispersion and balance for spinopelvic reconstruction in early postoperative period following total sacrectomy.
PMCID: PMC3891848  PMID: 24454839
25.  C1q-like Factor, a Target of miR-430, Regulates Primordial Germ Cell Development in Early Embryos of Carassius auratus 
C1q-like is a significant maternal factor of TNF/C1q super-family, and the abundant protein has been observed in both mature eggs of Carassius auratus and Carassius auratus gibelio, but its biological function in early embryo development has remained unclear. In this study, we firstly revealed a high level of maternal C1q-like transcript existence only in mature eggs of Carassius auratus, whereas no any maternal C1q-like transcript was observed in that of Carassius auratus gibelio. During embryonic development, the C1q-like zygotic expression begins around cardiopalmus stage in embryos of both Carassius auratus and Carassius auratus gibelio. Then, we examined the biological role of C1q-like by morpholino-mediated knockdown in early embryo development. Knockdown of CaOC1q resulted in a significant reduction of primordial germ cells (PGCs) in Carassius auratus, as shown by whole mount in situ hybridization with vasa-specific RNA probe, fluorescence immunostaining of vasa protein, and GFP imaging of the GFP-nanos1-3'UTR mRNA reporter. In vitro and in vivo evidence indicated that a microRNA, miR-430 could repress the C1q-like expression and PGC development. These data suggest that C1q-like should be a direct target of miR-430 and play an essential role in PGC development of Carassius auratus.
PMCID: PMC3879587  PMID: 24391447
C1q-like; microRNA; miR-430; knockdown; primordial germ cell; early embryogenesis

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