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1.  Novel blood-based microRNA biomarker panel for early diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis 
Scientific Reports  2017;7:40019.
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is an inflammatory disease characterized by progressive fibrosis of pancreas. Early diagnosis will improve the prognosis of patients. This study aimed to obtain serum miRNA biomarkers for early diagnosis of CP. In the current study, we analyzed the differentially expressed miRNAs (DEmiRs) of CP patients from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), and the DEmiRs in plasma of early CP patients (n = 10) from clinic by miRNA microarrays. Expression levels of DEmiRs were further tested in clinical samples including early CP patients (n = 20), late CP patients (n = 20) and healthy controls (n = 18). The primary endpoints were area under curve (AUC) and expression levels of DEmiRs. Four DEmiRs (hsa-miR-320a-d) were obtained from GEO CP, meanwhile two (hsa-miR-221 and hsa-miR-130a) were identified as distinct biomarkers of early CP by miRNA microarrays. When applied on clinical serum samples, hsa-miR-320a-d were accurate in predicting late CP, while hsa-miR-221 and hsa-miR-130a were accurate in predicting early CP with AUC of 100.0% and 87.5%. Our study indicates that miRNA expression profile is different in early and late CP. Hsa-miR-221 and hsa-miR-130a are biomarkers of early CP, and the panel of the above 6 serum miRNAs has the potential to be applied clinically for early diagnosis of CP.
PMCID: PMC5225423  PMID: 28074846
2.  Biostable L-DNAzyme for Sensing of Metal Ions in Biological Systems 
Analytical Chemistry  2015;88(3):1850-1855.
DNAzymes, an important type of metal ion-dependent functional nucleic acid, are widely applied in bioanalysis and biomedicine. However, the use of DNAzymes in practical applications has been impeded by the intrinsic drawbacks of natural nucleic acids, such as interferences from nuclease digestion and protein binding, as well as undesired intermolecular interactions with other nucleic acids. On the basis of reciprocal chiral substrate specificity, the enantiomer of D-DNAzyme, L-DNAzyme, could initiate catalytic cleavage activity with the same achiral metal ion as a cofactor. Meanwhile, by using the advantage of nonbiological L-DNAzyme, which is not subject to the interferences of biological matrixes, as recognition units, a facile and stable L-DNAzyme sensor was proposed for sensing metal ions in complex biological samples and live cells.
PMCID: PMC4892185  PMID: 26691677
3.  Dirty Money: A Matter of Bacterial Survival, Adherence, and Toxicity 
Microorganisms  2016;4(4):42.
In this study we report the underlying reasons to why bacteria are present on banknotes and coins. Despite the use of credit cards, mobile phone apps, near-field-communication systems, and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins which are replacing the use of hard currencies, cash exchanges still make up a significant means of exchange for a wide range of purchases. The literature is awash with data that highlights that both coins and banknotes are frequently identified as fomites for a wide range of microorganisms. However, most of these publications fail to provide any insight into the extent to which bacteria adhere and persist on money. We treated the various currencies used in this study as microcosms, and the bacterial loading from human hands as the corresponding microbiome. We show that the substrate from which banknotes are produced have a significant influence on both the survival and adherence of bacteria to banknotes. Smooth, polymer surfaces provide a poor means of adherence and survival, while coarser and more fibrous surfaces provide strong bacterial adherence and an environment to survive on. Coins were found to be strongly inhibitory to bacteria with a relatively rapid decline in survival on almost all coin surfaces tested. The inhibitory influence of coins was demonstrated through the use of antimicrobial disks made from coins. Despite the toxic effects of coins on many bacteria, bacteria do have the ability to adapt to the presence of coins in their environment which goes some way to explain the persistent presence of low levels of bacteria on coins in circulation.
PMCID: PMC5192525  PMID: 27886085
banknotes; bacteria; substrate; coins; microcosm; microbiome
4.  Herb-target interaction network analysis helps to disclose molecular mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:36767.
Though many studies have been performed to elucidate molecular mechanism of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) by identifying protein-compound interactions, no systematic analysis at herb level was reported. TCMs are prescribed by herbs and all compounds from a certain herb should be considered as a whole, thus studies at herb level may provide comprehensive understanding of TCMs. Here, we proposed a computational strategy to study molecular mechanism of TCM at herb level and used it to analyze a TCM anti-HIV formula. Herb-target network analysis was carried out between 17 HIV-related proteins and SH formula as well as three control groups based on systematic docking. Inhibitory herbs were identified and active compounds enrichment was found to contribute to the therapeutic effectiveness of herbs. Our study demonstrates that computational analysis of TCMs at herb level can catch the rationale of TCM formulation and serve as guidance for novel TCM formula design.
PMCID: PMC5105066  PMID: 27833111
5.  Self-assembled Multifunctional DNA Nanoflowers for the Circumvention of Multidrug Resistance in Targeted Anticancer Drug Delivery 
Nano research  2015;8(11):3447-3460.
Cancer chemotherapy has been impeded by side effects and multidrug resistance (MDR) partially caused by drug efflux from cancer cells, which call for targeted drug delivery systems additionally able to circumvent MDR. Here we report multifunctional DNA nanoflowers (NFs) for targeted drug delivery to both chemosensitive and MDR cancer cells and circumvent MDR in both leukemia and breast cancer cell models. NFs are self-assembled via liquid crystallization of DNA generated by Rolling Circle Replication, during which NFs are incorporated with aptamers for specific cancer cell recognition, fluorophores for bioimaging, and Doxorubicin (Dox)-binding DNA for drug delivery. NF sizes are tunable (down to ~200 nm in diameter), and the densely packed drug-binding motifs and porous intrastructures endow NFs with high drug loading capacity (71.4%, wt/wt). The Dox-loaded NFs (NF-Dox) are stable at physiological pH, yet drug release is facilitated in acidic or basic conditions. NFs deliver Dox into target chemosensitive and MDR cancer cells, preventing drug efflux and enhancing drug retention in MDR cells. Consequently, NF-Dox induces potent cytotoxicity in both target chemosensitive cells and MDR cells, but not nontarget cells, thus concurrently circumventing MDR and reducing side effects. Overall, these NFs are promising to circumvent MDR in targeted cancer therapy.
Graphical abstract
Self-assembled by DNA liquid crystallization, multifunctional DNA nanoflowers (NFs) were demonstrated for targeted drug delivery to both chemosensitive and multidrug resistant (MDR) cancer cells and the resultant circumvention of MDR, in both leukemia and breast cancer cell models.
PMCID: PMC5070671  PMID: 27774139
aptamer; rolling circle replication; self-assembly; DNA nanotechnology; multidrug resistance; targeted cancer therapy
6.  Positive Regulation of Decidualization by l-Type Amino Acid Transporter 1 (lat1) in Pregnant Mice 
Nutrients  2016;8(11):704.
Amino acids have an important role in the pre and post implantation of placenta and embryo development. l-type amino-acid transporter 1 (lat1) is responsible for the transportation of large neutral amino acids and is mainly expressed in human fetal liver, placenta, brain, etc. This study is the first to investigate the expression of lat1 in the early pregnancy of mouse uteri and its role in the process of decidualization. Endometrial stromal cells of a mouse model were used to evaluate decidualization from Day 4–8 of pregnancy in vitro followed by lat1 knock down by small interfering RNA and by a competitive inhibitor of Leucine transport 2-aminobicyclo-(2,2,1)-heptane-2-carboxylic acid (BCH). The effects of lat1 on decidualization in vivo were assessed by injecting BCH into the uterine horns. The mRNA and protein expressions of lat1 in the implantation sites were higher than that in the inter-implantation sites and were localized in the luminal and gland epithelium, stromal and decidual cells. Its increased expression (p < 0.05) was associated with artificial decidualization as well as activation of prl expression. Down-regulation of lat1 expression in these cells by siRNA and BCH inhibited the decidual progression in vitro. Inhibition of lat1 transportation by BCH controlled decidual progression in vivo also accompanied the down-regulation of prl, lat1 expression in the decidual area and embryo size on Day 8 of pregnancy. In conclusion, these results revealed that lat1 might play an important role in the decidual progression both in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC5133091  PMID: 27827961
decidualization; l-amino acid transporter-1 (lat1); stromal cell; pregnant mice
7.  Genetic Characteristics and Multiple-PCR Development for Capsular Identification of Specific Serotypes of Campylobacter jejuni 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0165159.
The polysaccharide capsule (CPS) of Campylobacter jejuni is a virulence factor linked to cell surface carbohydrate diversity which mainly determines the serotypes. Thirty-four CPS gene cluster structures have been published and some of them can be distinguished by multiple-PCR. Penner serotypes HS1/44c, HS2, HS4c, HS19, HS23/36c and HS41 are markers for Guillain—Barré syndrome (GBS). The capsules may contribute to GBS susceptibility. Analysis of 18 CPS loci revealed high gene content diversity and a mosaic nature of the capsule loci, which are possibly due to gene gain/loss events, and demonstrated a high degree of conservation of genes within serotypes/serotype complexes. A method of multiple-PCR was developed to distinguish five specific serotypes and three GBS-related serotypes. Primers specific for each capsule type were designed on the basis of paralogs or a unique DNA region of the CPS locus. The multiple-PCR can distinguish the eight serotypes in two PCRs with sensitivity and specificity of 100% using 227 strains of known Penner type. The multiple-PCR method will help to distinguish serotypes simply and rapidly.
PMCID: PMC5082957  PMID: 27788180
8.  Original Research: A case-control genome-wide association study identifies genetic modifiers of fetal hemoglobin in sickle cell disease 
Experimental Biology and Medicine  2016;241(7):706-718.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited blood disorders that have in common a mutation in the sixth codon of the β-globin (HBB) gene on chromosome 11. However, people with the same genetic mutation display a wide range of clinical phenotypes. Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) expression is an important genetic modifier of SCD complications leading to milder symptoms and improved long-term survival. Therefore, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using a case-control experimental design in 244 African Americans with SCD to discover genetic factors associated with HbF expression. The case group consisted of subjects with HbF≥8.6% (133 samples) and control group subjects with HbF≤£3.1% (111 samples). Our GWAS results replicated SNPs previously identified in an erythroid-specific enhancer region located in the second intron of the BCL11A gene associated with HbF expression. In addition, we identified SNPs in the SPARC, GJC1, EFTUD2 and JAZF1 genes as novel candidates associated with HbF levels. To gain insights into mechanisms of globin gene regulation in the HBB locus, linkage disequilibrium (LD) and haplotype analyses were conducted. We observed strong LD in the low HbF group in contrast to a loss of LD and greater number of haplotypes in the high HbF group. A search of known HBB locus regulatory elements identified SNPs 5′ of δ-globin located in an HbF silencing region. In particular, SNP rs4910736 created a binding site for a known transcription repressor GFi1 which is a candidate protein for further investigation. Another HbF-associated SNP, rs2855122 in the cAMP response element upstream of Gγ-globin, was analyzed for functional relevance. Studies performed with siRNA-mediated CREB binding protein (CBP) knockdown in primary erythroid cells demonstrated γ-globin activation and HbF induction, supporting a repressor role for CBP. This study identifies possible molecular determinants of HbF production.
PMCID: PMC4950389  PMID: 27022141
GWAS; sickle cell disease; fetal hemoglobin; HBB locus; haplotypes; single nucleotide polymorphisms
9.  UGT1A1*6, UGT1A7*3 and UGT1A9*1b polymorphisms are predictive markers for severe toxicity in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal cancer treated with irinotecan-based regimens 
Oncology Letters  2016;12(5):4231-4237.
Irinotecan-induced severe neutropenia and diarrhea, which remain unpredictable, has restrained the dose and clinical efficiency of irinotecan administration. In the present study, a total of 70 irinotecan-treated patients with histologically confirmed metastatic gastrointestinal cancer were enrolled. Despite genotyping well-reported alleles, direct sequencing was specifically adopted to avoid ethnic heterogeneity and to identify novel variations. The promoter (−1000 bp) and exon 1 regions of UDP glucuronosyltransferase family 1 member A complex locus (UGT1A1) gene family members UGT1A1, UGT1A7 and UGT1A9 were sequenced, and comprehensive analysis of their genetic polymorphisms was performed to determine the association between inherited genetic variations and irinotecan-induced toxicity. A total of 23 different genetic variants were detected in the present study, including 2 novel polymorphisms. The results of the present study revealed that UGT1A1*6 and UGT1A7*3 are risk factors for irinotecan-induced severe neutropenia, and UGT1A9*1b is associated with severe diarrhea. These results may provide biomarkers for the selection of the optimal chemotherapy for Chinese patients with metastatic gastrointestinal cancer.
PMCID: PMC5104260  PMID: 27895797
irinotecan; UGT1A; polymorphisms; neutropenia; diarrhea
10.  Dolutegravir(DTG, S/GSK1349572) combined with other ARTs is superior to RAL- or EFV-based regimens for treatment of HIV-1 infection: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 
AIDS Research and Therapy  2016;13(1):30.
The first-generation integrase inhibitors (INIs) raltegravir (RAL) and elvitegravir (EVG) have shown efficacy against HIV infection, but they have the limitations of once-more daily dosing and extensive cross-resistance. Dolutegravir (DTG, S/GSK1349572), a second-generation drug that overcomes such shortcomings, is under spotlight. The purpose of this study is to review the evidence for DTG use in clinical settings, including its efficacy and safety.
PubMed, EMbase, Ovid, Web of Science, Science Direct, and related websites were screened from establishment until July 2013, and scientific meeting proceedings were manually searched. Two reviewers independently screened 118 citations repeatedly to identify randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy and safety of DTG-based regimen with those of RAL- or elvitegravir-based regimens. Using the selected studies with comparable outcome measures and indications, we performed a meta-analysis based on modified intention-to-treat (mITT), on-treatment (OT), and as-treated (AT) virological outcome data. Independent data extraction and quality assessment were conducted.
Four unique studies were included with the use of DTG in antiretroviral therapy-naive patients. In therapy-naive patients, DTG combined with abacavir/lamivudine (ABC/3TC) or tenofovir/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) resulted in a significantly better virological outcome with a mITT relative risk (RR)of 1.07 (95 % confidence interval (95 % CI 1.03–1.12). Evidence further supported use of DTG had a better virological suppression in the 50 mg once daily group (mITT RR 1.07; 95 % CI 1.03–1.12) as well as in the sub-analysis in dolutegravir/efavirenz(DTG/EFV) and dolutegravir/raltegravir (DTG/RAL) groups (RR 1.09, 95 % CI 1.03–1.15; RR 1.06, 95 % CI 0.98–1.15, respectively). In the matter of safety of DTG-based regimen, the risk of any event was RR 0.98 (95 % CI 0.94–1.01), the risk of serious adverse events (AEs) was RR 0.84 (95 % CI 0.62–1.15), and the risk of drug-related serious AEs was RR 0.33 (95 % CI 0.13–0.79).
In general, DTG 50 mg given once daily combined with an active background drug is a better choice in terms of both efficacy and safety.
PMCID: PMC5016965  PMID: 27617024
DTG; HIV/AIDS; Meta-analysis; Efficacy; Safety
11.  Elucidation of changes in molecular signalling leading to increased cellular transformation in oncogenically progressed human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to radiations of increasing LET 
Mutagenesis  2015;30(5):685-694.
The early transcriptional response and subsequent induction of anchorage-independent growth after exposure to particles of high Z and energy (HZE) as well as γ-rays were examined in human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC3KT) immortalised without viral oncogenes and an isogenic variant cell line whose p53 expression was suppressed but that expressed an active mutant K-RASV12 (HBEC3KT-P53KRAS). Cell survival following irradiation showed that HBEC3KT-P53KRAS cells were more radioresistant than HBEC3KT cells irrespective of the radiation species. In addition, radiation enhanced the ability of the surviving HBEC3KT-P53RAS cells but not the surviving HBEC3KT cells to grow in anchorage-independent fashion (soft agar colony formation). HZE particle irradiation was far more efficient than γ-rays at rendering HBEC3KT-P53RAS cells permissive for soft agar growth. Gene expression profiles after radiation showed that the molecular response to radiation for HBEC3KT-P53RAS, similar to that for HBEC3KT cells, varies with radiation quality. Several pathways associated with anchorage independent growth, including the HIF-1α, mTOR, IGF-1, RhoA and ERK/MAPK pathways, were over-represented in the irradiated HBEC3KT-P53RAS cells compared to parental HBEC3KT cells. These results suggest that oncogenically progressed human lung epithelial cells are at greater risk for cellular transformation and carcinogenic risk after ionising radiation, but particularly so after HZE radiations. These results have implication for: (i) terrestrial radiation and suggests the possibility of enhanced carcinogenic risk from diagnostic CT screens used for early lung cancer detection; (ii) enhanced carcinogenic risk from heavy particles used in radiotherapy; and (iii) for space radiation, raising the possibility that astronauts harbouring epithelial regions of dysplasia or hyperplasia within the lung that contain oncogenic changes, may have a greater risk for lung cancers based upon their exposure to heavy particles present in the deep space environment.
PMCID: PMC4635632  PMID: 26001755
12.  Relationship between fasting glucose levels and in-hospital mortality in Chinese patients with acute myocardial infarction and diabetes mellitus: a retrospective cohort study 
Previous studies have demonstrated that elevated admission and fasting glucose (FG) is associated with worse outcomes in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). However, the quantitative relationship between FG levels and in-hospital mortality in patients with AMI remains unknown. The aim of the study is to assess the prevalence of elevated FG levels in hospitalized Chinese patients with AMI and diabetes mellitus and to determine the quantitative relationship between FG levels and the in-hospital mortality as well as the optimal level of FG in patients with AMI and diabetes mellitus.
A retrospective study was carried out in 1856 consecutive patients admitted for AMI and diabetes mellitus from 2002 to 2013. Clinical variables of baseline characteristics, in-hospital management and in-hospital adverse outcomes were recorded and compared among patients with different FG levels.
Among all patients recruited, 993 patients (53.5 %) were found to have FG ≥100 mg/dL who exhibited a higher in-hospital mortality than those with FG < 100 mg/dL (P < 0.001). Although there was a high correlation between FG levels and in-hospital mortality in all patients (r = 0.830, P < 0.001), the relationship showed a J-curve configuration with an elevated mortality when FG was less than 80 mg/dL. Using multivariate logistic regression models, we identified that age, FG levels and Killip class of cardiac function were independent predictors of in-hospital mortality in AMI patients with diabetes mellitus.
More than half of patients with AMI and diabetes mellitus have FG ≥100 mg/dL and the relationship between in-hospital mortality and FG level was a J-curve configuration. Both FG ≥ 100 mg/dL and FG <80 mg/dL were identified to be independent predictors of in-hospital mortality and thus the optimal FG level in AMI patients with diabetes mellitus appears to be 80–100 mg/dL.
PMCID: PMC4969715  PMID: 27484985
Myocardial infarction; Diabetes mellitus; Glucose; Mortality
13.  Evaluation of a novel saliva‐based epidermal growth factor receptor mutation detection for lung cancer: A pilot study 
Thoracic Cancer  2016;7(4):428-436.
This article describes a pilot study evaluating a novel liquid biopsy system for non‐small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. The electric field‐induced release and measurement (EFIRM) method utilizes an electrochemical biosensor for detecting oncogenic mutations in biofluids.
Saliva and plasma of 17 patients were collected from three cancer centers prior to and after surgical resection. The EFIRM method was then applied to the collected samples to assay for exon 19 deletion and p.L858 mutations. EFIRM results were compared with cobas results of exon 19 deletion and p.L858 mutation detection in cancer tissues.
The EFIRM method was found to detect exon 19 deletion with an area under the curve (AUC) of 1.0 in both saliva and plasma samples in lung cancer patients. For L858R mutation detection, the AUC of saliva was 1.0, while the AUC of plasma was 0.98. Strong correlations were also found between presurgery and post‐surgery samples for both saliva (0.86 for exon 19 and 0.98 for L858R) and plasma (0.73 for exon 19 and 0.94 for L858R).
Our study demonstrates the feasibility of utilizing EFIRM to rapidly, non‐invasively, and conveniently detect epidermal growth factor receptor mutations in the saliva of patients with NSCLC, with results corresponding perfectly with the results of cobas tissue genotyping.
PMCID: PMC4930962  PMID: 27385985
EGFR mutation; liquid biopsy; lung cancer; saliva diagnostics
14.  Application of a Combined Model with Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) and Generalized Regression Neural Network (GRNN) in Forecasting Hepatitis Incidence in Heng County, China 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0156768.
Hepatitis is a serious public health problem with increasing cases and property damage in Heng County. It is necessary to develop a model to predict the hepatitis epidemic that could be useful for preventing this disease.
The autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model and the generalized regression neural network (GRNN) model were used to fit the incidence data from the Heng County CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) from January 2005 to December 2012. Then, the ARIMA-GRNN hybrid model was developed. The incidence data from January 2013 to December 2013 were used to validate the models. Several parameters, including mean absolute error (MAE), root mean square error (RMSE), mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) and mean square error (MSE), were used to compare the performance among the three models.
The morbidity of hepatitis from Jan 2005 to Dec 2012 has seasonal variation and slightly rising trend. The ARIMA(0,1,2)(1,1,1)12 model was the most appropriate one with the residual test showing a white noise sequence. The smoothing factor of the basic GRNN model and the combined model was 1.8 and 0.07, respectively. The four parameters of the hybrid model were lower than those of the two single models in the validation. The parameters values of the GRNN model were the lowest in the fitting of the three models.
The hybrid ARIMA-GRNN model showed better hepatitis incidence forecasting in Heng County than the single ARIMA model and the basic GRNN model. It is a potential decision-supportive tool for controlling hepatitis in Heng County.
PMCID: PMC4892637  PMID: 27258555
15.  Significant association between long non-coding RNA HOTAIR polymorphisms and cancer susceptibility: a meta-analysis 
OncoTargets and therapy  2016;9:3335-3343.
HOTAIR, a well-known long non-coding RNA, is involved in carcinogenesis and progression of multiple cancers. Molecular epidemiological studies suggest that HOTAIR polymorphisms may be associated with cancer susceptibility, but the results remain controversial. To derive a more precise evaluation, we performed a meta-analysis focused on the associations between HOTAIR polymorphisms and cancer risk for the first time. PubMed, Embase, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and Wanfang databases were searched. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence interval (CI) were applied to assess the association between HOTAIR rs920778 C>T, rs4759314 A>G, rs7958904 G>C, and rs1899663 G>T polymorphisms and cancer susceptibility. Analyses were conducted to detect heterogeneity, sensitivity, and publication bias in order to measure the robustness of our findings. Overall, 13 related studies involving 7,151 patients and 8,740 control samples were analyzed. Significant associations between the HOTAIR rs920778 polymorphism and cancer risk were observed (T vs C: OR =1.33, 95% CI =1.17–1.53; TT vs TC + CC: OR =1.55, 95% CI =1.21–2.00; TC + TT vs CC: OR =1.33, 95% CI =1.11–1.59; TT vs CC: OR =2.02, 95% CI =1.31–3.10) in the total population, as well as in subgroup analyses. For rs4759314 A>G polymorphism, a similarly increased risk was found in the gastric cancer group. However, significant decreases in cancer risk were observed both in the overall population and colorectal cancer group for rs7958904 G>C polymorphism. In addition, no significant association was detected between rs1899663 G>T polymorphism and cancer susceptibility. In conclusion, our meta-analyses suggest that HOTAIR polymorphisms may be associated with the risk of cancer development.
PMCID: PMC4898434  PMID: 27330313
HOTAIR; polymorphism; cancer susceptibility
16.  GABA A receptor π subunit promotes apoptosis of HTR-8/SVneo trophoblastic cells: Implications in preeclampsia 
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) functions primarily as an inhibitory neurotransmitter through its receptors in the mature central nervous system. The GABA type A receptor π subunit (GABRP) has been identified in the tissues of the reproductive system, particularly in the uterus. In addition, we have previously detected GABRP expression in both human and mouse placentas. To examine the role of GABRP in trophoblastic cell invasion, we constructed a pIRES2-GABRP-EGFP plasmid which was used for the transfection of a human placental cell line derived from first trimester extravillous trophoblasts (HTR-8/SVneo). The number of invaded cells was decreased by GABRP overexpression. Notably, the decrease in the invasive cell number may be due to the increased apoptosis of the HTR-8/SVneo cells following GABRP transfection, which was further confirmed by flow cytometry, reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and western blot analysis. Based on the increased apoptosis of trophoblastic cells in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia (PE) and the fact that GABRP promotes the apoptosis of trophoblastic cells, we hypothesized that GABRP expression is increased in the placental tissues from patients with PE compared with that in the normal groups and this hypothesis was confirmed by RT-qPCR and immunohistochemical analysis. Taken together, these findings imply that GABRP plays an important role in placentation and this pathway may be a promising molecular target for the development of novel therapeutic strategies for PE.
PMCID: PMC4899026  PMID: 27221053
gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptor π subunit; trophoblast; apoptosis; preeclampsia
17.  An integrated soil-crop system model for water and nitrogen management in North China 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:25755.
An integrated model WHCNS (soil Water Heat Carbon Nitrogen Simulator) was developed to assess water and nitrogen (N) management in North China. It included five main modules: soil water, soil temperature, soil carbon (C), soil N, and crop growth. The model integrated some features of several widely used crop and soil models, and some modifications were made in order to apply the WHCNS model under the complex conditions of intensive cropping systems in North China. The WHCNS model was evaluated using an open access dataset from the European International Conference on Modeling Soil Water and N Dynamics. WHCNS gave better estimations of soil water and N dynamics, dry matter accumulation and N uptake than 14 other models. The model was tested against data from four experimental sites in North China under various soil, crop, climate, and management practices. Simulated soil water content, soil nitrate concentrations, crop dry matter, leaf area index and grain yields all agreed well with measured values. This study indicates that the WHCNS model can be used to analyze and evaluate the effects of various field management practices on crop yield, fate of N, and water and N use efficiencies in North China.
PMCID: PMC4867647  PMID: 27181364
18.  MSX2 Induces Trophoblast Invasion in Human Placenta 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0153656.
Normal implantation depends on appropriate trophoblast growth and invasion. Inadequate trophoblast invasion results in pregnancy-related disorders, such as early miscarriage and pre-eclampsia, which are dangerous to both the mother and fetus. Msh Homeobox 2 (MSX2), a member of the MSX family of homeobox proteins, plays a significant role in the proliferation and differentiation of various cells and tissues, including ectodermal organs, teeth, and chondrocytes. Recently, MSX2 was found to play important roles in the invasion of cancer cells into adjacent tissues via the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, the role of MSX2 in trophoblastic invasion during placental development has yet to be explored. In the present study, we detected MSX2 expression in cytotrophoblast, syncytiotrophoblast, and extravillous cytotrophoblast cells of first or third trimester human placentas via immunohistochemistry analysis. Furthermore, we found that the in vitro invasive ability of HTR8/SVneo cells was enhanced by exogenous overexpression of MSX2, and that this effect was accompanied by increased protein expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), vimentin, and β-catenin. Conversely, treatment of HTR8/SVneo cells with MSX2-specific siRNAs resulted in decreased protein expression of MMP-2, vimentin, and β-catenin, and reduced invasion levels in a Matrigel invasion test. Notably, however, treatment with the MSX2 overexpression plasmid and the MSX2 siRNAs had no effect on the mRNA expression levels of β-catenin. Meanwhile, overexpression of MSX2 and treatment with the MSX2-specific siRNA resulted in decreased and increased E-cadherin expression, respectively, in JEG-3 cells. Lastly, the protein expression levels of MSX2 were significantly lower in human pre-eclamptic placental villi than in the matched control placentas. Collectively, our results suggest that MSX2 may induce human trophoblast cell invasion, and dysregulation of MSX2 expression may be associated with pre-eclampsia.
PMCID: PMC4835074  PMID: 27088357
19.  Sex differences in aneurysm morphologies and clinical outcomes in ruptured anterior communicating artery aneurysms: a retrospective study 
BMJ Open  2016;6(4):e009920.
Ruptured anterior communicating artery (ACoA) aneurysms occur more frequently in men. The purpose of the study was to investigate sex difference in aneurysm morphologies and clinical outcomes in patients with ruptured ACoA aneurysms.
A tertiary referral hospital.
A total of 574 consecutive patients with ACoA aneurysms were admitted to our hospital from December 2007 to February 2015. In all, 474 patients (257 men and 217 women) with ruptured ACoA aneurysms were included in the study.
Main outcome measures
Aneurysm morphologies were measured using computed tomographic angiography and clinical outcomes were measured with Glasgow coma score at discharge.
The aneurysm sizes (p=0.001), aneurysm heights (p=0.011), size ratios (p<0.001), flow angles (p=0.047) and vessel angles (p=0.046) were larger in the male patients than in the females. The female patients more often had larger vessel sizes (p=0.002). Multivariate logistic analysis revealed that significant differences in aneurysm morphologies between men and women were aneurysm size (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0 to 1.3; p=0.036), aneurysm height (OR 0.8, 95% CI 0. to 0.9; p=0.006) and size ratio (OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.5 to 1.7; p=0.001). There were no statistically significant differences in the outcomes between men and women (OR 1.0, 95% CI 0.6 to 1.7, p=0.857).
The men were independently associated with larger aneurysm sizes, greater aneurysm heights and larger size ratios. Sex was not a risk factor for poor outcome in patients with ruptured ACoA aneurysms.
PMCID: PMC4838700  PMID: 27084272
20.  Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Chronic Pancreatitis 
Medicine  2016;95(14):e3251.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common complication of chronic pancreatitis (CP) and increases the mortality. The identification of risk factors for DM development may contribute to the early detection and potential risk reduction of DM in patients with CP.
Patients with CP admitted to Changhai Hospital (Shanghai, China) from January 2000 to December 2013 were enrolled. Cumulative rates of DM after the onset of CP were calculated by Kaplan-Meier method. Risk factors for DM development after the diagnosis of CP were identified by Cox proportional hazards regression model.
A total of 2011 patients with CP were enrolled. During follow-up (median duration, 22.0 years), 564 patients developed DM. Cumulative rates of DM 20 and 50 years after the onset of CP were 45.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 41.8%–50.0%) and 90.0% (95% CI, 75.4%–97.7%), respectively. Five risk factors for DM development after the diagnosis of CP were identified: male sex (hazard ratio [HR], 1.51; 95% CI, 1.08–2.11), alcohol abuse (HR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.43–2.79), steatorrhea (HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.01–2.11), biliary stricture (HR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.43–3.52), and distal pancreatectomy (HR, 3.41; 95% CI, 1.80–6.44).
In conclusion, the risk of developing DM in patients with CP is not only influenced by the development of biliary stricture and steatorrhea indicating disease progression, and inherent nature of study subjects such as male sex, but also by modifiable factors including alcohol abuse and distal pancreatectomy .
PMCID: PMC4998786  PMID: 27057870
21.  Colonoscopy Reduces Colorectal Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Patients With Non-Malignant Findings: A Meta-Analysis 
Observational studies have shown that colonoscopy reduces colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality in the general population. We aimed to conduct a meta-analysis quantifying the magnitude of protection by colonoscopy, with screening and diagnostic indications, against CRC in patients with non-malignant findings and demonstrating the potentially more marked effect of screening over diagnostic colonoscopy.
PubMed, EMBASE, and conference abstracts were searched through 30 April 2015. The primary outcomes were overall CRC incidence and mortality. Pooled relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using random-effect models.
Eleven observational studies with a total of 1,499,521 individuals were included. Pooled analysis showed that colonoscopy was associated with a 61% RR reduction in CRC incidence (RR: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.26–0.60; I2=93.6%) and a 61% reduction in CRC mortality (RR: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.35–0.43; I2=12.0%) in patients with non-malignant findings, although there was high heterogeneity for the outcome of CRC incidence. After excluding one outlier study, there was low heterogeneity for the outcome of incidence (I2=44.7%). Subgroup analysis showed that the effect of screening colonoscopy was more prominent, corresponding to an 89% reduction in CRC incidence (RR: 0.11; 95% CI: 0.08–0.15), in comparison with settings involving diagnostic colonoscopy (RR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.43–0.59; P<0.001).
On the basis of this meta-analysis of observational studies, CRC incidence and mortality in patients with non-malignant findings are significantly reduced after colonoscopy. The effect of screening colonoscopy on CRC incidence is more marked than diagnostic colonoscopy.
PMCID: PMC4820666  PMID: 26753884
22.  A cascade reaction network mimicking the basic functional steps of acquired immune response 
Nature chemistry  2015;7(10):835-841.
Biological systems use complex ‘information processing cores’ composed of molecular networks to coordinate their external environment and internal states. An example of this is the acquired, or adaptive, immune system (AIS), which is composed of both humoral and cell-mediated components. Here we report the step-by-step construction of a prototype mimic of the AIS which we call Adaptive Immune Response Simulator (AIRS). DNA and enzymes are used as simple artificial analogues of the components of the AIS to create a system which responds to specific molecular stimuli in vitro. We show that this network of reactions can function in a manner which is superficially similar to the most basic responses of the vertebrate acquired immune system, including reaction sequences that mimic both humoral and cellular responses. As such, AIRS provides guidelines for the design and engineering of artificial reaction networks and molecular devices.
PMCID: PMC4580978  PMID: 26391084
23.  GL-1196 Suppresses the Proliferation and Invasion of Gastric Cancer Cells via Targeting PAK4 and Inhibiting PAK4-Mediated Signaling Pathways 
Gastric cancer, which is the most common malignant gastrointestinal tumor, has jumped to the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. It is of great importance to identify novel and potent drugs for gastric cancer treatment. P21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) has emerged as an attractive target for the development of anticancer drugs in consideration of its vital functions in tumorigenesis and progression. In this paper, we reported that GL-1196, as a small molecular compound, effectively suppressed the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells through downregulation of PAK4/c-Src/EGFR/cyclinD1 pathway and CDK4/6 expression. Moreover, GL-1196 prominently inhibited the invasion of human gastric cancer cells in parallel with blockage of the PAK4/LIMK1/cofilin pathway. Interestingly, GL-1196 also inhibited the formation of filopodia and induced cell elongation in SGC7901 and BGC823 cells. Taken together, these results provided novel insights into the potential therapeutic strategy for gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC4848926  PMID: 27077843
GL-1196; PAK4; small molecular compound; gastric cancer
24.  Risk Factors for Steatorrhea in Chronic Pancreatitis: A Cohort of 2,153 Patients 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:21381.
This study aimed to investigate the occurrence of and determine the risk factors for steatorrhea in chronic pancreatitis (CP). It was based on analysis of both retrospectively and prospectively acquired database for CP patients admitted to our center from January 2000 to December 2013. Demographic data, course of disease, medical history, and follow-up evaluations of patients were documented in detail. Cumulative rate of steatorrhea was calculated by using the Kaplan–Meier method. For risk factor analysis, multivariate analysis by Cox proportional hazards regression model was performed. A total of 2,153 CP patients were included with a mean follow-up duration of 9.3 years. Approximately 14% (291/2,153) of CP patients presented with steatorrhea at diagnosis of CP. Cumulative rates of steatorrhea at 1, 5, 10, and 20 years after diagnosis of CP were 4.27% (95% CI: 3.42%–5.34%), 12.53% (95% CI: 10.74%–14.59%), 20.44% (95% CI: 17.37%–23.98%) and 30.82% (95% CI: 20.20%–45.21%), respectively. Male gender (HR = 1.771, p = 0.004), diabetes (HR = 1.923, p < 0.001), alcohol abuse (HR = 1.503, p = 0.025) and pancreaticoduodenectomy (HR = 2.901, p < 0.001) were independent risk factors for steatorrhea while CP in adolescents (HR = 0.433, p = 0.009) was a protective factor. In conclusion, male gender, adult, diabetes, alcohol abuse and pancreaticoduodenectomy lead to increased risk of steatorrhea in CP patients.
PMCID: PMC4753434  PMID: 26877248
25.  Characterizing the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States and China 
The HIV/AIDS data from the national surveillance systems of China and the United States from 1985 to 2014 were compared to characterize the HIV/AIDS epidemic in both countries. The current estimated national HIV prevalence rate in China and the United States are 0.0598% and 0.348%, respectively. In the United States, the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable (~50,000 each year) and has shown a downward trend in recent years. The Chinese national HIV prevalence is still low, and new HIV infections have been contained at a low level (50,000–100,000 each year). However, the epidemic has showed an increasing trend since 2012. By risk group, in both countries, men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexual sex, and injection drug use (IDU) are the most common modes of transmission of new HIV infections. However, in the United States, MSM is the dominant transmission route, accounting for >60% of new infections; whereas in China, heterosexual sex has now become the dominant route, also accounting for >60% of new infections. A rapid increase in the proportion of HIV cases that were attributed to MSM and an obvious decrease in the proportion of HIV cases attributed to IDU in China in recent years imply that the China’s epidemic is still evolving, to some extent, copying what was experienced in the United States. By age group, the proportions of HIV cases that were attributed to the age group 25–59 were comparable between the two countries. However, the United States had a higher proportion of cases that were attributed to age groups 15–19 and 20–24 than China, indicating that youth account for more infections in the United States. One other fact worth noting: in China there is a significant increase in the number of HIV new infections in individuals over 50 years of age, which results in much higher proportion of cases that were attributed to age groups 60–64 and over 65 in China than those in the United States. By race/ethnicity, in the United States, Blacks/African Americans continue to experience the most severe HIV burden, followed by Hispanics/Latinos. In China, no official data on race/ethnicity disparities are currently available. Thus, region, risk group, age are important factors in the HIV epidemics in both countries.
PMCID: PMC4730421  PMID: 26703667
HIV/AIDS epidemic; the United States; China

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