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1.  Epistasis Analysis for Estrogen Metabolic and Signaling Pathway Genes on Young Ischemic Stroke Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47773.
Endogenous estrogens play an important role in the overall cardiocirculatory system. However, there are no studies exploring the hormone metabolism and signaling pathway genes together on ischemic stroke, including sulfotransferase family 1E (SULT1E1), catechol-O-methyl-transferase (COMT), and estrogen receptor α (ESR1).
A case-control study was conducted on 305 young ischemic stroke subjects aged ≦ 50 years and 309 age-matched healthy controls. SULT1E1 -64G/A, COMT Val158Met, ESR1 c.454−397 T/C and c.454−351 A/G genes were genotyped and compared between cases and controls to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with ischemic stroke susceptibility. Gene-gene interaction effects were analyzed using entropy-based multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR), classification and regression tree (CART), and traditional multiple regression models.
COMT Val158Met polymorphism showed a significant association with susceptibility of young ischemic stroke among females. There was a two-way interaction between SULT1E1 -64G/A and COMT Val158Met in both MDR and CART analysis. The logistic regression model also showed there was a significant interaction effect between SULT1E1 -64G/A and COMT Val158Met on ischemic stroke of the young (P for interaction = 0.0171). We further found that lower estradiol level could increase the risk of young ischemic stroke for those who carry either SULT1E1 or COMT risk genotypes, showing a significant interaction effect (P for interaction = 0.0174).
Our findings support that a significant epistasis effect exists among estrogen metabolic and signaling pathway genes and gene-environment interactions on young ischemic stroke subjects.
PMCID: PMC3480403  PMID: 23112845
2.  Stroke Code Improves Intravenous Thrombolysis Administration in Acute Ischemic Stroke 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104862.
Background and Purpose
Timely intravenous (IV) thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke is associated with better clinical outcomes. Acute stroke care implemented with “Stroke Code” (SC) may increase IV tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) administration. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of SC on thrombolysis.
The study period was divided into the “pre-SC era” (January 2006 to July 2010) and “SC era” (August 2010 to July 2013). Demographics, critical times (stroke symptom onset, presentation to the emergency department, neuroimaging, thrombolysis), stroke severity, and clinical outcomes were recorded and compared between the two eras.
During the study period, 5957 patients with acute ischemic stroke were admitted; of these, 1301 (21.8%) arrived at the emergency department within 3 h of stroke onset and 307 (5.2%) received IV-tPA. The number and frequency of IV-tPA treatments for patients with an onset-to-door time of <3 h increased from the pre-SC era (n = 91, 13.9%) to the SC era (n = 216, 33.3%) (P<0.001). SC also improved the efficiency of IV-tPA administration; the median door-to-needle time decreased (88 to 51 min, P<0.001) and the percentage of door-to-needle times ≤60 min increased (14.3% to 71.3%, P<0.001). The SC era group tended to have more patients with good outcome (modified Rankin Scale ≤2) at discharge (49.5 vs. 39.6%, P = 0.11), with no difference in symptomatic hemorrhage events or in-hospital mortality.
The SC protocol increases the percentage of acute ischemic stroke patients receiving IV-tPA and decreases door-to-needle time.
PMCID: PMC4128738  PMID: 25111200
3.  Association between plasma levels of hyaluronic acid and functional outcome in acute stroke patients 
Activation of hyaluronic acid (HA) and associated enzyme synthesis has been demonstrated in experimental stroke animal models. Our study aimed to investigate the plasma levels of HA in acute stroke patients and the associations between HA levels and functional outcome.
This was a multicenter case–control study. Acute stroke patients and age- and sex-matched non-stroke controls were recruited. Plasma levels of HA in acute stroke patients were determined at <48 hours and at 48 to 72 hours after stroke onset by standard ELISA. Favorable functional outcome was defined as modified Rankin scale ≤2 at 3 months after stroke.
The study included 206 acute stroke patients, including 43 who had intracerebral hemorrhage and 163 who had ischemic stroke, and 159 controls. The plasma levels of HA in the acute stroke patients were significantly higher than those in the controls (219.7 ± 203.4 ng/ml for <48 hours and 343.1 ± 710.3 ng/ml for 48 to 72 hours versus 170.4 ± 127.9 ng/ml in the controls; both P < 0.05). For intracerebral hemorrhage patients, HA ≤500 ng/ml (<48 hours) was an independent favorable outcome predictor (P = 0.016). For ischemic stroke patients, an inverted U-shaped association between plasma HA (48 to 72 hours) and outcome was noted, indicating that ischemic stroke patients with too high or too low plasma HA levels tended to have an unfavorable outcome.
HA plasma level was elevated in patients with acute stroke, and can predict 3-month functional outcome, particularly for patients with intracerebral hemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC4066288  PMID: 24912490
Acute stroke; Hyaluronic acid; Intracerebral hemorrhage; Ischemic stroke
4.  Proteinuria Independently Predicts Unfavorable Outcome of Ischemic Stroke Patients Receiving Intravenous Thrombolysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80527.
Background and Purpose
Patients with low estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and proteinuria may be at increased risk for stroke. This study investigated whether low eGFR and proteinuria are outcome predictors in stroke patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis.
We studied 432 consecutive stroke patients who received thrombolysis from January 2006 to December 2012, in Taiwan. Unfavorable outcome was defined as modified Rankin scale ≥2 at 3 months after stroke. Proteinuria was classified as negative or trace, mild, and moderate to severe. Using logistic regression analysis, we identified independent factors for unfavorable outcome after thrombolysis.
Of all patients, 32.7% had proteinuria. Patients with proteinuria were older, had higher frequencies of diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, atrial fibrillation, lower eGFR, and greater severity of stroke upon admission than those without proteinuria. Proteinuria, not low eGFR, was an independent predictor for unfavorable outcome for stroke (OR = 2.00 for mild proteinuria, p = 0.035; OR = 2.54 for moderate to severe proteinuria, p = 0.035). However, no clear relationship was found between proteinuria and symptomatic hemorrhage after thrombolysis.
Proteinuria is an independent predictor of unfavorable outcome for acute ischemic stroke in patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis, indicating the crucial role of chronic kidney disease on the effectiveness of thrombolysis.
PMCID: PMC3838417  PMID: 24278288
5.  Estimation of the Long-Term Care Needs of Stroke Patients by Integrating Functional Disability and Survival 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75605.
This study aimed to estimate the dynamic changes of different physical functional disabilities and life-time care needs for patients with stroke.
Data Sources and Study Design
We examined a hospital-based cohort including 16,043 patients who had their first stroke during 1995–2010. The Barthel Index (BI) was used to measure disability levels in 1,162 consecutive patients, with a total of 1,294 measurements at the stroke clinics and the rehabilitation wards, and a cross-sectional design.
Extraction Methods
The survival function was extrapolated to lifetime by a semi-parametric method and multiplied with proportions of different disabilities over time to obtain the long-term care needs for different stroke subtypes.
Principal Findings
On average, stroke patients would suffer at least 0.86 years with mild disability, 1.24 years with moderate disability and 1.39 years with severe disability, as measured by the BI. Among these, patients with a cardio-embolic infarct or intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) suffered more than 2 years of severe disability. Assistance in bathing was the most common need for care in stroke patients.
Among different subtypes of stroke, cardio-embolic infarct and ICH lead to the longest durations of severe physical functional disability. The method presented in this work may also be applied to other chronic diseases and different functional disabilities.
PMCID: PMC3790845  PMID: 24124500
6.  Significantly Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease among Patients with Gallstone Disease: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76448.
To investigate whether gallstone disease (GD) increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a large population-based cohort.
A study population including 6,981 patients with GD was identified from The Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database between 2004 and 2005. GD patients were defined as patients with principal discharge diagnoses of cholelithiasis using the ICD-9-CM code 574. 27,924 patients without GD were randomly selected and matched for age and gender. All patients were followed for 6 years or until diagnosis for CVD. Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to assess the risk of developing CVD with adjustment for age, gender and co-morbid conditions.
During the six years follow-up period, 935 patients with GD and 2,758 patients without GD developed CVD. Patients with GD had an elevated risk of CVD (HR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.22-1.43) when compared with those without GD. Similar relationship was observed when CVD was categorized i.e. stroke (HR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.01-1.32), coronary heart disease (HR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.28-1.58) and heart failure (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.00-1.73). When GD was classified according to the level of severity, using patients without GD as reference, the risks of CVD were elevated in patients with non-severe GD (HR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.24-1.46) as well as those with severe GD (HR, 1.20, 95% CI, 1.02-1.40), after adjusting for age, gender and comorbidities. In age-stratified analysis, patients aged 18-40 years with GD were at higher risk of developing CVD (HR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.09-1.84) than older GD patients.
This study found an increased risk of CVD in patients diagnosed with GD. The excess risk was particularly high in younger GD patients. Prevention of GD could help reduce the risk of developing CVD, and the better effect could be achieved for the younger age groups.
PMCID: PMC3789705  PMID: 24098504
7.  Cardioembolic stroke related to limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1B 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:32.
Cardioembolic stroke is an under-recognized complication in patients with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1B. Here we present a young stroke patient who had a novel lamin A/C gene (LMNA) mutation.
Case presentation
This is a 39-year-old man who had slowly progressive proximal muscle weakness and cardiac arrhythmia since adolescent and a family history of similar manifestation. He sustained acute ischemic stroke in the left middle cerebral artery territory. Intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator therapy was given with significant neurological improvement. Additionally, genetic sequencing of the LMNA gene of the patient identified a mutation in c.513+1 G>A that resulted in a splicing aberration.
We suggested that LMNA gene related myopathies should be considered in young stroke patients with long-standing myopathic features.
PMCID: PMC3662574  PMID: 23360689
Neuromuscular disorder; Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy; Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy; Cardioembolic stroke; Thrombolytic therapy; Cardiac arrhythmia
8.  Association between genetic variant on chromosome 12p13 and stroke survival and recurrence: a one year prospective study in Taiwan 
The association between ischemic stroke and 2 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on chromosome 12p13, rs12425791 and rs11833579 appears inconsistent across different samples. These SNPs are close to the ninjurin2 gene which may alter the risk of stroke by affecting brain response to ischemic injury. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between these two SNPs and ischemic stroke risk, as well as prognostic outcomes in a Taiwanese sample.
We examined the relations of these two SNPs to the odds of new-onset ischemic stroke, ischemic stroke subtypes, and to the one year risk of stroke-related death or recurrent stroke following initial stroke in a case-control study. A total of 765 consecutive patients who had first-ever ischemic stroke were compared to 977 stroke-free, age-matched controls. SNPs were genotyped by Taqman fluorescent allelic discrimination assay. The association between ischemic stroke and SNPs were analyzed by multivariate logistic regression. Cox proportional hazard model was used to assess the effect of individual SNPs on stroke-related mortality or recurrent stroke.
There was no significant association between SNP rs12425791 and rs11833579 and ischemic stroke after multiple testing corrections. However, the marginal significant association was observed between SNP rs12425791 and large artery atherosclerosis under recessive model (OR, 2.30; 95%CI, 1.22-4.34; q-value = 0.062). Among the 765 ischemic stroke patients, 59 died or developed a recurrent stroke. After adjustment for age, sex, vascular risk factors and baseline stroke severity, Cox proportional hazard analysis indicated that the hazard ratios were 2.76 (95%CI, 1.34-5.68; q-value, 0.02) and 2.15 (95%CI, 1.15-4.02; q-value, 0.03) for individuals with homozygous variant allele of rs12425791 and rs11833579, respectively.
This is a precedent study that found genetic variants of rs12425791 and rs11833579 on chromosome 12p13 are independent predictors of stroke-related mortality or stroke recurrence in patients with incident ischemic stroke in Taiwan. Further study is needed to explore the details of the physiological function and the molecular mechanisms underlying the association of this genetic locus with ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3269363  PMID: 22212150
stroke; single nucleotide polymorphisms; survival
9.  Arterial function of carotid and brachial arteries in postmenopausal vegetarians 
Vegetarianism is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, studies of arterial function in vegetarians are limited.
This study investigated arterial function in vegetarianism by comparing 49 healthy postmenopausal vegetarians with 41 age-matched omnivores. The arterial function of the common carotid artery was assessed by carotid duplex, while the pulse dynamics method was used to measure brachial artery distensibility (BAD), compliance (BAC), and resistance (BAR). Fasting blood levels of glucose, lipids, lipoprotein (a), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and vitamin B12 were also measured.
Vegetarians had significantly lower serum cholesterol, high-density and low-density lipoprotein, and glucose compared with omnivores. They also had lower vitamin B12 but higher homocysteine levels. Serum levels of lipoprotein (a) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein were no different between the two groups. There were no significant differences in carotid beta stiffness index, BAC, and BAD between the two groups even after adjustment for associated covariates. However, BAR was significantly lower in vegetarians than in omnivores. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that age and pulse pressure were two important determinants of carotid beta stiffness index and BAD. Vegetarianism is not associated with better arterial elasticity.
Apparently healthy postmenopausal vegetarians are not significantly better in terms of carotid beta stiffness index, BAC, and BAD, but have significantly decreased BAR than omnivores. Prevention of vitamin B12 deficiency might be beneficial for cardiovascular health in vegetarians.
PMCID: PMC3166191  PMID: 21915169
postmenopausal women; vegetarians; carotid stiffness; brachial arterial distensibility
10.  Daily physical activity and its contribution to the health-related quality of life of ambulatory individuals with chronic stroke 
Participation in daily physical activity (PA) post-stroke has not previously been investigated as a possible explanatory variable of health-related quality of life (HRQL). The aims were 1) to determine the contribution of daily PA to the HRQL of individuals with chronic stroke and 2) to assess the relationship between the functional ability of these individuals to the amount of daily PA.
The amount of daily PA of forty adults with chronic stroke (mean age 66.5 ± 9.6 years) was monitored using two measures. Accelerometers (Actical) were worn on the hip for three consecutive days in conjunction with a self-report questionnaire [the PA Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities (PASIPD)]. The daily physical activity was measured as the mean total accelerometer activity counts/day and the PASIPD scores as the metabolic equivalent (MET) hr/day. HRQL was assessed by the Physical and Mental composite scores of the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36 (SF-36) in addition to the functional ability of the participants. Correlation and regression analyses were performed.
After controlling for the severity of the motor impairment, the amount of daily PA, as assessed by the PASIPD and accelerometers, was found to independently contribute to 10-12% of the variance of the Physical Composite Score of the SF-36. No significant relationship was found between PA and the Mental Composite Score of the SF-36.The functional ability of the participants was found to be correlated to the amount of daily PA (r = 0.33 - 0.67, p < 0.01).
The results suggest that daily PA is associated with better HRQL (as assessed by the Physical composite score of the SF-36) for people living with stroke. Daily PA should be encouraged to potentially increase HRQL. Accelerometers in conjunction with a self-report questionnaire may provide important measures of PA which can be monitored and modified, and potentially influence HRQL.
PMCID: PMC2927504  PMID: 20682071
11.  Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness, Carotid Plaque and Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Chinese 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3435.
Our aim was to prospectively investigate the association between carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) as well as carotid plaque and incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in Chinese, among whom data are limited.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a community-based cohort study composed of 2190 participants free of cardiovascular disease at baseline in one community. During a median 10.5-year follow up, we documented 68 new cases of coronary heart disease and 94 cases of stroke. The multivariate relative risks (RRs) associated with a change of 1 standard deviation of maximal common carotid IMT were 1.38 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12–1.70) for CHD and 1.47 (95% CI, 1.28–1.69) for stroke. The corresponding RRs with internal carotid IMT were 1.47 (95% CI, 1.21–1.79) for CHD and 1.52 (95% CI, 1.31–1.76) for stroke. Carotid plaque measured by the degree of diameter stenosis was also significantly associated with increased risk of CHD (p for trend<0.0001) and stroke (p for trend<0.0001). However, these associations were largely attenuated when adjusting for IMT measurements.
This prospective study indicates a significant association between carotid IMT and incidence of CHD and stroke in Chinese adults. These measurements may be useful for cardiovascular risk assessment and stratification in Chinese.
PMCID: PMC2562458  PMID: 18927612

Results 1-11 (11)