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1.  Neural response to pictorial health warning labels can predict smoking behavioral change 
In order to improve our understanding of how pictorial health warning labels (HWLs) influence smoking behavior, we examined whether brain activity helps to explain smoking behavior above and beyond self-reported effectiveness of HWLs. We measured the neural response in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the amygdala while adult smokers viewed HWLs. Two weeks later, participants’ self-reported smoking behavior and biomarkers of smoking behavior were reassessed. We compared multiple models predicting change in self-reported smoking behavior (cigarettes per day [CPD]) and change in a biomarkers of smoke exposure (expired carbon monoxide [CO]). Brain activity in the vmPFC and amygdala not only predicted changes in CO, but also accounted for outcome variance above and beyond self-report data. Neural data were most useful in predicting behavioral change as quantified by the objective biomarker (CO). This pattern of activity was significantly modulated by individuals’ intention to quit. The finding that both cognitive (vmPFC) and affective (amygdala) brain areas contributed to these models supports the idea that smokers respond to HWLs in a cognitive-affective manner. Based on our findings, researchers may wish to consider using neural data from both cognitive and affective networks when attempting to predict behavioral change in certain populations (e.g. cigarette smokers).
PMCID: PMC5091679  PMID: 27405615
smoking; fMRI; pictorial health warning labels (HWLs); amygdala; ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)
2.  Aryl hydrocarbon receptor expression is associated with a family history of upper gastrointestinal cancer in a high risk population exposed to aromatic hydrocarbons 
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure is a risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), and PAHs are ligands of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). This study measured the expression of AhR and related genes in frozen esophageal cell samples from patients exposed to different levels of indoor air pollution, who did or did not have high-grade squamous dysplasia (HGD), and who did or did not have a family history (FH) of upper gastrointestinal cancer (UGI Ca).
147 samples were evaluated, including 23 (16%) from patients with HGD and 48 (33%) from patients without DYS who heated their homes with coal, without a chimney (a “high” indoor air pollution group), and 27 (18%) from patients with HGD and 49 (33%) from patients without DYS who did not heat their homes at all (a “low” indoor air pollution group). Nearly half (64 (44%)) had a FH of UGI Ca. RNA was extracted and Quantitative-PCR analysis was performed.
AhR gene expression was detectable in 85 (58%) of the samples, and was more than 9-fold higher in those with a FH of UGI Ca (median expression (IQR) -1964 (-18000, -610) versus -18000 (-18000, -1036) Wilcoxon P = 0.02). Heating status, dysplasia category, age, gender, and smoking were not associated with AhR expression (linear regression, all P-values ≥0.1).
AhR expression was higher in patients with a FH of UGI Ca. Such individuals may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of PAH exposure, including PAH-induced cancer.
PMCID: PMC2796959  PMID: 19690180
Gastrointestinal tract cancer; Esophagus; Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; family history of cancer; gene expression; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
3.  Real-time PCR analysis of candidate imprinted genes on mouse chromosome 11 shows balanced expression from the maternal and paternal chromosomes and strain-specific variation in expression levels 
Imprinted genes are monoallelically expressed from either the maternal or paternal genome. Because cancer develops through genetic and epigenetic alterations, imprinted genes affect tumorigenesis depending on which parental allele undergoes alteration. We have shown previously in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) that inheriting mutant alleles of Nf1 and Trp53 on chromosome 11 from the mother or father dramatically changes the tumor spectrum of mutant progeny, likely due to alteration in an imprinted gene(s) linked to Nf1 and Trp53. In order to identify imprinted genes on chromosome 11 that are responsible for differences in susceptibility, we tested candidate imprinted genes predicted by a bioinformatics approach and an experimental approach. We have tested 30 candidate genes (Havcr2, Camk2b, Ccdc85a, Cntnap1, Ikzf1, 5730522E02Rik, Gria1, Zfp39, Sgcd, Jup, Nxph3, Spnb2, Asb3, Rasd1, Map2k3, Map2k4, Trp53, Serpinf1, Crk, Rasl10b, Itga3, Hoxb5, Cbx1, Pparbp, Igfbp4, Smarce1, Stat3, Atp6v0a1, Nbr1, and Meox1), two known imprinted genes (Grb10 and Impact) and Nf1, which has not been previously identified as an imprinted gene. Although we confirmed the imprinting of Grb10 and Impact, we found no other genes imprinted in the brain. We did, however, find strain-biased expression of Camk2b, 5730522E02Rik, Havcr2, Map2k3, Serpinf1, Rasl10b, Itga3, Asb3, Trp53, Nf1, Smarce1, Stat3, Cbx1, Pparbp, and Cntnap1. These results suggest that the prediction of imprinted genes is complicated and must be individually validated.
PMCID: PMC2507877  PMID: 18188004
Imprinting; Taqman PCR; Neurofibromatosis type 1; p53; Allelic Imbalance

Results 1-3 (3)