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1.  A U-shaped relationship between haematocrit and mortality in a large prospective cohort study 
Background Only a limited number of studies have investigated the correlation between haematocrit (HCT) and mortality in the general population, and few of those studies have had data on a wide range of low and high levels of HCT. We investigated the association between baseline HCT and mortality in a prospective cohort study of 49 983 adult subjects in Iran with a broad spectrum of HCT values.
Methods Data on socio-demographic and life-style factors, past medical history, and levels of HCT were collected at enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 5 years (follow-up success rate ∼99%), 2262 deaths were reported. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals.
Results There was a U-shaped relationship between categories of HCT and mortality in both sexes: both low and high levels of HCT were associated with increased overall mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The U-shaped relationship persisted after several sensitivity analyses were done, including analyses restricted to non-smokers and non-users of opium; analyses excluding deaths from accidents and other external causes as well as deaths of persons with self-reported ischemic heart disease at the baseline interview for the study; and analyses excluding the first 2 years of follow-up. Self-reported past medical history and lack of data about lipids and other cellular blood components were the major limitations of the study.
Conclusions Low and high levels of HCT are associated with increased mortality in the general population. The findings in the present study can be of particular importance for low- and middle-income countries in which a substantial proportion of the population lives with suboptimal levels of HCT.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt013
PMCID: PMC3619954  PMID: 23569195
Anaemia; cancer; cardiovascular disease; erythrocytosis; haematocrit; mortality
2.  Determinants of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Including Hookah Smoking and Opium Use– A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 50,000 Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89256.
Background
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common cause of discomfort and morbidity worldwide. However, information on determinants of GERD from large-scale studies in low- to medium-income countries is limited. We investigated the factors associated with different measures of GERD symptoms, including frequency, patient-perceived severity, and onset time.
Methods
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data from a population-based cohort study of ∼50,000 individuals in in Golestan Province, Iran. GERD symptoms in this study included regurgitation and/or heartburn.
Results
Approximately 20% of participants reported at least weekly symptoms. Daily symptoms were less commonly reported by men, those of Turkmen ethnicity, and nass chewers. On the other hand, age, body mass index, alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, opium use, lower socioeconomic status, and lower physical activity were associated with daily symptoms. Most of these factors showed similar associations with severe symptoms. Women with higher BMI and waist to hip ratio were more likely to report frequent and severe GERD symptoms. Hookah smoking (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.02–1.75) and opium use (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.55–1.87) were associated with severe symptoms, whereas nass chewing had an inverse association (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76–0.99). After exclusion of cigarette smokers, hookah smoking was still positively associated and nass chewing was inversely associated with GERD symptoms (all frequencies combined).
Conclusion
GERD is common in this population. The associations of hookah and opium use and inverse association of nass use with GERD symptoms are reported for the first time. Further studies are required to investigate the nature of these associations. Other determinants of GERD were mostly comparable to those reported elsewhere.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089256
PMCID: PMC3931722  PMID: 24586635
3.  LRP6 Enhances Glucose Metabolism by Promoting TCF7L2-dependent Insulin Receptor Expression and IGF Receptor stabilization in Humans 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(2):197-209.
Common genetic variations in Wnt signaling genes have been associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes by mechanisms that are not well understood. A rare nonconservative mutation in Wnt-coreceptor LRP6 (LRP6R611C) has shown to underlie autosomal dominant early onset coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. We examined the interplay between Wnt and insulin signaling pathways in skeletal muscles and skin fibroblasts of healthy non-diabetic LRP6R611C mutation carriers. LRP6 mutation carriers exhibited hyperinsulinemia and reduced insulin sensitivity compared to the non-carrier relatives in response to oral glucose ingestion, which correlated with a significant decline in tissue expression of the insulin receptor (IR) and insulin signaling activity. Further investigations showed that LRP6R611C mutation diminishes TCF7L2-dependent transcription of IR while it increases the stability of IGFR and enhances mTORC1 activity. These findings identify Wnt/LRP6/TCF7L2 axis as a regulator of glucose metabolism and a potential therapeutic target for insulin resistance.
doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.01.009
PMCID: PMC3589523  PMID: 23395167
4.  Smoking water-pipe, chewing nass, and prevalence of heart disease – A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Golestan Cohort Study, Iran 
Heart (British Cardiac Society)  2012;99(4):272-278.
Objective
Water-pipe and smokeless tobacco use have been associated with several adverse health outcomes. However, little information is available on the association between water-pipe use and heart disease (HD). Therefore, we investigated the association of smoking water-pipe and chewing nass (a mixture of tobacco, lime, and ash) with prevalent HD.
Design
Cross-sectional study.
Setting
Baseline data (collected in 2004–2008) from a prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
Participants
50,045 residents of Golestan (40–75 years old; 42.4% male).
Main outcome measures
ORs and 95% CIs from multivariate logistic regression models for the association of water-pipe and nass use with HD prevalence.
Results
A total of 3051 (6.1%) participants reported a history of HD, and 525 (1.1%) and 3726 (7.5%) reported ever water-pipe or nass use, respectively. Heavy water-pipe smoking was significantly associated with HD prevalence (highest level of cumulative use versus never use, OR= 3.75; 95% CI 1.52 – 9.22; P for trend= 0.04). This association persisted when using different cutoff points, when restricting HD to those taking nitrate compound medications, and among never cigarette smokers. There was no significant association between nass use and HD prevalence (highest category of use versus never use, OR= 0.91; 95% CI 0.69 – 1.20).
Conclusions
Our study suggests a significant association between HD and heavy water-pipe smoking. Although the existing evidence suggesting similar biological consequences of water-pipe and cigarette smoking make this association plausible, results of our study were based on a modest number of water-pipe users and need to be replicated in further studies.
doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2012-302861
PMCID: PMC3671096  PMID: 23257174
hookah; ischemic heart disease; nass; tobacco; water-pipe
5.  Psycho-social Determinants of Colorectal Cancer Screening in Iran 
Background:
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent cancer among Iranians, and threatens them at younger ages. This study was guided by the theoretical concepts of the preventive health model (PHM) to assess the attitudes and beliefs of Iranians towards CRC screening.
Methods:
This cross-sectional study was conducted with participation of 200 individuals aged 50 years or older in a Teaching Hospital in Tehran, Iran. Background characteristics (e.g., age, gender, marital status) were assessed and a validated instrument drawn from the PHM was applied to measure cognitive and psychosocial variables (i.e., self-efficacy, intention to screening, perceived susceptibility, cancer worries, response efficacy, and social support). Data were collected via face-to-face interviews and analyzed using the SPSS version 13.00 for Windows.
Results:
The age of the participants ranged from 50 years to 83 years (mean 60.13). Most respondents were married (62.5%), unemployed (42%), and had secondary or higher education (44.5%). Overall, 11% of respondents reported prior screening. Individuals obtained relatively poor scores on self-efficacy, intention to screening, perceived susceptibility, cancer worries, response efficacy, and social support.
Conclusions:
In this study, individuals mostly reported poor attitude in regard to CRC screening. The results of the present study could guide policy makers in designing tailored interventions to increase the participation of individuals in screening programs.
PMCID: PMC3950741  PMID: 24627745
Colorectal cancer; early detection; psychosocial determinants; screening
6.  The gastro-esophageal malignancies in Northern Iran research project: impact on the health research and health care systems in Iran 
Archives of Iranian medicine  2013;16(1):46-53.
Since 2000, considerable progress has been made in health research in Iran. An example of this progress has been the Gastro- Esophageal Malignancies in Northern Iran (GEMINI). The original aim of this project was to identify etiologic factors and prevention measures for upper gastrointestinal cancers in Northern provinces of Iran, but its achievements have gone much beyond the initial goal. This project is one of the largest studies in the Middle East and North African region, has helped build and strengthen research capacity at both individual and institutional levels in Iran, and has provided international credibility to research institutes and the wider research system in Iran. The success of GEMINI reveals the feasibility of large-scale studies in developing countries and serves as a successful model not only for health research institutes within Iran, but also for research systems in other developing countries. The outcomes of the project are numerous, including establishment of research networks, development of efficient methods for planning and implementation of research projects, and introduction of methodologies for project management, data management and usage of health technology. Finally and perhaps most importantly, GEMINI is among the few projects that has had a significant impact on the attitudes and concerns of decision makers in the health sector in Iran. It signifies the importance of investment in human resources and has proved that health policies should be health-based rather than patient-based. Here we review the impact of GEMINI on the health research system and the broader health care system of Iran and put these into a more global perspective.
PMCID: PMC3659328  PMID: 23273237
research design; prospective studies; pilot projects; feasibility studies; planning techniques; methods; cancer epidemiology; gastroenterology
7.  Prevalence, awareness and risk factors of hypertension in a large cohort of Iranian adult population 
Journal of hypertension  2013;31(7):1364-1371.
Background
There is considerable variation in hypertension prevalence and awareness, and their correlates, across different geographic locations and ethnic groups. We performed this cross-sectional analysis on data from the Golestan Cohort Study (GCS).
Methods
Enrollment in this study occurred in 2004–2008, and included 50,045 healthy subjects from Golestan Province in northeastern Iran. Hypertension was defined as a systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥140, a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥90, a prior diagnosis of hypertension, or the use of antihypertensive drugs. Potential correlates of hypertension and its awareness were analyzed by logistic regression adjusted for sex, age, BMI, place of residence, literacy, ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, black and green tea consumption and wealth score.
Results
Of the total cohort participants, 21,350 (42.7%) were hypertensive. Age-standardized prevalence of hypertension, using the 2001 WHO standard world population, was 41.8% (95%CI: 38.3%–45.2%). Hypertension was directly associated with female sex, increased BMI, Turkmen ethnicity, and lack of physical activity, and inversely associated with drinking black tea and wealth score. Among hypertensive subjects, 46.2% were aware of their disease, 17.6% were receiving antihypertensive medication, and 32.1% of the treated subjects had controlled hypertension. Hypertension awareness was greater among women, the elderly, overweight and obese subjects, and those with a higher wealth score.
Conclusions
Hypertension is highly prevalent in rural Iran, many of the affected individuals are unaware of their disease, and the rate of control by antihypertensive medications is low. Increasing hypertension awareness and access to health services, especially among less privileged residents are recommended.
doi:10.1097/HJH.0b013e3283613053
PMCID: PMC3766446  PMID: 23673348
hypertension; awareness; obesity; smoking; socioeconomic status
8.  Serum Ghrelin; A New Surrogate Marker of Gastric Mucosal Alterations in Upper Gastrointestinal Carcinogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74440.
Background
A few studies have indicated inverse relationships between serum ghrelin and gastric and esophageal cancers but those associations have been restricted to specific populations, including smokers and overweight individuals. We examined the association between ghrelin and gastroesophageal cancers and atrophic gastritis in a population-based setting.
Methods
In total 220 gastroesophageal cancers, comprising non-cardia and cardia gastric cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and age and gender-matched controls were recruited. Serum ghrelin, pepsinogen I/II ratio (PGI/II) and anti-H.pylori IgG antibodies were measured. Relationships between ghrelin and gastroesophageal cancers, after adjustment for PGI/II ratio, H.pylori status and smoking, were tested using logistic regression. Furthermore, in 125 endoscopically normal volunteers, with and without histological atrophic gastritis, the relationship with ghrelin was compared.
Results
Serum ghrelin (lowest vs. highest quintile) was inversely associated with gastric cancer: OR (95% CI) 8.71 (1.70–44.59) for cardia and 6.58 (1.26–34.46) for non-cardia cancer. Lower serum ghrelin was also associated with esophageal SCC: OR (95% CI) 5.69 (1.36–23.78), but not with esophageal adenocarcinoma. A similar association was observed between gastric cancer (cardia and non-cardia) and esophageal SCC when serum ghrelin was analysed as a continuous scaled variable. In endoscopically-normal volunteers, extensive atrophic gastritis was associated with low serum ghrelin [OR (95% CI) 0.25 (0.10–0.64)].
Conclusion
Inverse associations between ghrelin and some gastroesophageal cancers suggest a potential role for serum ghrelin as a biomarker of upper gastrointestinal cancers and atrophic gastritis. In areas with a high incidence of gastric and/or esophageal cancer, screening might be more effectively targeted to individuals with low serum ghrelin in addition to the PGI/II ratio.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074440
PMCID: PMC3787044  PMID: 24098650
9.  Drug-Related Mutational Patterns in Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Reverse Transcriptase Proteins From Iranian Treatment-Naïve Chronic HBV Patients 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(1):e6712.
Background
Immunomodulators and Nucleotide analogues have been used globally for the dealing of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. However, the development of drug resistance is a major limitation to their long-term effectiveness.
Objectives
The aim of this study was to characterize the hepatitis B virus reverse transcriptase (RT) protein variations among Iranian chronic HBV carriers who did not receive any antiviral treatments.
Materials and Methods
Hepatitis B virus partial RT genes from 325 chronic in active carrier patients were amplified and directly sequenced. Nucleotide/amino acid substitutions were identified compared to the sequences obtained from the database.
Results
All strains belonging to genotype D.365 amino-acid substitutions were found. Mutations related to lamivudine, adefovir, telbivudine, and entecavir occurred in (YMDD) 4% (n = 13), (SVQ) 17.23% (n = 56), (M204I/V + L180M) 2.45% (n = 8) and (M204I) 2.76% (n = 9) of patients, respectively.
Conclusions
RT mutants do occur naturally and could be found in HBV carriers who have never received antiviral therapy. However, mutations related to drug resistance in Iranian treatment-naïve chronic HBV patients were found to be higher than other studies published formerly. Chronic HBV patients should be monitored closely prior the commencement of therapy to achieve the best regimen option.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.6712
PMCID: PMC3626233  PMID: 23596461
Therapy; Drug-Resistance; Hepatitis B Virus; Iran
10.  InterSCOPE Study: Associations Between Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Human Papillomavirus Serological Markers 
Background
The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the causation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is unclear. We examined the associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 28 centrally measured HPV serological markers in serum from six existing case–control studies conducted in regions with differing background risks of esophageal cancer.
Methods
We used centralized multiplex serology to test serum samples from 1561 case subjects and 2502 control subjects from six case–control studies for antibodies to the major HPV capsid protein (L1) and/or the early proteins E6 and/or E7 of eight high-risk, two low-risk, and four cutaneous HPV types. Study-specific odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for smoking, alcohol consumption, and other potential confounders. Pooled odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using either a linear mixed-effects approach or a joint fixed-effects approach. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
We found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E6 for HPV16 (OR = 1.89, 95% CI = 1.09 to 3.29, P = .023) and HPV6 (OR = 2.53, 95% CI = 1.51 to 4.25, P < .001) but not for other tested HPV types. There were no statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E7 for any of the tested HPV types. Simultaneous seropositivity for HPV16 E6 and E7 was rare (four case subjects, two control subjects; OR = 5.57, 95% CI = 0.90 to 34.35; P = .064). We also found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and capsid antibodies for the high-risk mucosal type HPV33 L1 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.69; P = .047) and the low-risk mucosal types HPV6 (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.42; P = .010) and HPV11 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.56, P = .0036).
Conclusions
We found limited serological evidence of an association between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and HPV in the populations studied. Although HPV does not appear to be an important risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, we cannot exclude the possibility that certain HPV types may be involved in a small subset of cancers.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djr499
PMCID: PMC3260131  PMID: 22228147
11.  Neuropsychiatric and Psychosocial Issues of Patients With Hepatitis C Infection: A Selective Literature Review 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(1):e8340.
Context
We briefly reviewed the evidence on the association of hepatitis C (HCV) infection with several aspects of mental and psychosocial health.
Evidence Acquisition
Medline was searched with appropriate keywords. The primary sources were the systematic reviews. If systematic reviews were not available for a subject, then the most relevant and methodologically sound original studies were selected.
Results
HCV infection is associated with poorer health-related quality of life, and physical, mental, and social health. A part of impaired health of these patients is related to cirrhosis, intravenous drug use, co morbid psychiatric disorders, stigmatization, poor social support, alcohol abuse, and interferon treatment. However, HCV itself is also associated with poorer health status particularly in the physical and cognitive domains, which might be related to brain alterations induced by the virus. Interferon treatment is an important cause of depression in HCV patients and sometimes is associated with irritability, manic episode, or acute confusional state. Social health of HCV patients is significantly impaired by stigmatization, poor social support, psychiatric comorbidties, and impaired coping. Psychosocial impairment of HCV patients significantly impairs their treatment adherence. A supportive and nonjudgmental multidisciplinary team is required for optimal management of these patients.
Conclusions
Patients with HCV infection had complex neuropsychiatric and psychosocial problems. These problems are challenges for management of HCV infection, affect the patient’s care significantly, and might alter the course of the disease. A multidisciplinary approach, a supportive environment, and a nonjudgmental healthcare team are required for optimal medical and psychosocial management of patients with HCV.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.8340
PMCID: PMC3582302  PMID: 23550100
Anxiety; Depression; Fatigue; Hepatitis C; Mental Health; Neurobehavioral Manifestations; Social Stigma
12.  Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and expression in squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus in central Asia 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:602.
Background
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) shows geographic variations in incidence, with high incidences (>50/105 person-years) in central Asia, including North Eastern Iran (Golestan) and Northern India (Kashmir). In contrast to Western countries, smoking does not appear to be a significant risk factor for ESCC in central Asia. In lung adenocarcinoma, activating mutations in the gene encoding epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are frequent in tumors of never smokers of Asian origin, predicting therapeutic sensitivity to Egfr-targeting drugs.
Methods
In this study 152 cases of histologically confirmed ESCC from Iran (Tehran and Golestan Province) and North India (Kashmir Valley) have been analyzed for EGFR mutation by direct sequencing of exons 18–21. Egfr protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 34 samples from Tehran and HER2 mutations were analyzed in 54 cases from Kashmir.
Results
A total of 14 (9.2%) EGFR variations were detected, including seven variations in exons. Among those, four (2.6%) were already documented in lung cancers, two were reported as polymorphisms and one was a potentially new activating mutation. All but one variation in introns were previously identified as polymorphisms. Over-expression of Egfr was detected in 22/34 (65%) of tested cases whereas no HER2 mutation was found in 54 cases from Kashmir.
Conclusion
Overall, EGFR mutations appear to be a rare event in ESCC in high incidence areas of central Asia, although a very small proportion of cases may harbor mutations predicting sensitivity to anti-Egfr drugs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-602
PMCID: PMC3543241  PMID: 23244191
Squamous cell carcinoma; Esophagus; EGFR mutations; Golestan; Kashmir
13.  Down-regulation of miR-302b, an ESC-specific microRNA, in Gastric Adenocarcinoma 
Cell Journal (Yakhteh)  2011;13(4):251-258.
Objective:
microRNAs (miRNAs) are a new class of non-coding RNAs involved in regulating various biological processes including proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis, among others. Alterations in miRNA expression are reported in several human cancers, which suggests their potential roles in tumor initiation and progression. Members of the miR-302 cluster are highly expressed in embryonic stem cells (ESC), where they regulate cell self-renewal and pluripotency. Based on the cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis, mis-expression of such genes might contribute to tumorigenicity. This study aims to find a potential link between the expression level of human/homo sapiens miR-302b (has-miR- 302b) and tumor/grade state of gastric tissues.
Materials and Methods:
A matched based case-control study was conducted that included tumor and matched marginal non-tumor surgical specimens from 34 patients diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma. Randomly selected samples were obtained from the Iran National Tumor Bank. cDNA synthesis was carried out on total RNA, by using the miRCURY LNATM Universal RT microRNA PCR Kit. Real-time reverse transcriptionpolymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays were performed with specific LNATM primers and SYBR Green master mix. The human embryonic carcinoma cell line, NTERA2 (NT2) and a human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line, AGS, were used to optimize the PCR reactions. A comparative evaluation of miR-302b expression in tumor and non-tumor gastric samples was performed by either paired t test or Wilcoxon non-parametric test. The ability of miR-302b to discriminate tumor from non-tumor gastric samples was evaluated using the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve.
Results:
According to our data, miR-302b expression (normalized to that of the U6 snRNA housekeeping gene) in the pluripotent cell line NT2 was more than 500 times greater than that of the AGS cell line. The level of expression was even lower in tumor and non-tumor gastric tissue samples. The data further revealed a down-regulation of miR-302b in gastric tumor samples (p=0.001), particularly in high-grade adenocarcinoma (p=0.009). However, ROC analysis data demonstrated a low sensitivity and specificity of miR-302b expression to discriminate between the tumor and non-tumor state of the samples (AUC=0.63).
Conclusion:
Despite the upregulation of some hESC-specific genes in tumors, our data revealed a down-regulation of miR-302b in high-grade tumors. This data suggested a potential tumor-suppressor role for miR-302b in tumorigenesis of gastric tissue.
PMCID: PMC3584484  PMID: 23508453
Cancer Stem Cells; MicroRNA; MiR-302b; Gastric Cancer
14.  PAH exposure in esophageal tissue and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northeastern Iran 
Gut  2010;59(9):1178-1183.
Objective
To evaluate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure in esophageal epithelial tissue and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) case status in an ESCC case-control study in a high-risk population in northeastern Iran.
Design
Immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays (TMAs) of non-tumoral esophageal biopsies from ESCC cases and control subjects. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibodies 8E11 and 5D11, raised against benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) diol epoxide (BPDE)-I-modified guanosine and BPDE-I-modified DNA, respectively. Staining intensity was quantified by image analysis, and the average staining in three replicates was calculated.
Setting
Rural region in northeastern Iran.
Participants
Cases were patients with biopsy-proven ESCC. Controls were GI clinic patients with no endoscopic or biopsy evidence of ESCC.
Main outcome measure
Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for the association between antibody staining intensity and ESCC case status.
Results
Cultured ESCC cells exposed to B[a]P in vitro showed dose-dependent staining with 8E11, but not with 5D11. With 8E11, sufficient epithelial tissue was available in the TMA cores to analyze 91 cases and 103 controls. Compared to the lowest quintile of 8E11 staining in the controls, adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 2.42, 5.77, 11.3, and 26.6 (5.21–135), respectively (P for trend < 0.001). With 5D11, 89 cases and 101 controls were analyzed. No association between staining and case status was observed (ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 1.26, 0.88, 1.06, and 1.63 (0.63–4.21), P for trend = 0.40).
Conclusions
Dramatically higher levels of 8E11 staining were observed in non-tumoral esophageal epithelium from ESCC patients than from control subjects. This finding strengthens the evidence for a causal role for PAHs in esophageal carcinogenesis in northeastern Iran.
doi:10.1136/gut.2010.210609
PMCID: PMC3505022  PMID: 20584779
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarray
15.  Diagnostic Accuracy of Age and Alarm Symptoms for Upper GI Malignancy in Patients with Dyspepsia in a GI Clinic: A 7-Year Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39173.
Objectives
We investigated whether using demographic characteristics and alarm symptoms can accurately predict cancer in patients with dyspepsia in Iran, where upper GI cancers and H. pylori infection are common.
Methods
All consecutive patients referred to a tertiary gastroenterology clinic in Tehran, Iran, from 2002 to 2009 were invited to participate in this study. Each patient completed a standard questionnaire and underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Alarm symptoms included in the questionnaire were weight loss, dysphagia, GI bleeding, and persistent vomiting. We used logistic regression models to estimate the diagnostic value of each variable in combination with other ones, and to develop a risk-prediction model.
Results
A total of 2,847 patients with dyspepsia participated in this study, of whom 87 (3.1%) had upper GI malignancy. Patients reporting at least one of the alarm symptoms constituted 66.7% of cancer patients compared to 38.9% in patients without cancer (p<0.001). Esophageal or gastric cancers in patients with dyspepsia was associated with older age, being male, and symptoms of weight loss and vomiting. Each single predictor had low sensitivity and specificity. Using a combination of age, alarm symptoms, and smoking, we built a risk-prediction model that distinguished between high-risk and low-risk individuals with an area under the ROC curve of 0.85 and acceptable calibration.
Conclusions
None of the predictors demonstrated high diagnostic accuracy. While our risk-prediction model had reasonable accuracy, some cancer cases would have remained undiagnosed. Therefore, where available, low cost endoscopy may be preferable for dyspeptic older patient or those with history of weight loss.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039173
PMCID: PMC3374763  PMID: 22720064
16.  The Insulin Receptor Substrate 1 (Irs1) in Intestinal Epithelial Differentiation and in Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36190.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is associated with lifestyle factors that affect insulin/IGF signaling, of which the insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1) is a key transducer. We investigated expression, localization and pathologic correlations of IRS1 in cancer-uninvolved colonic epithelium, primary CRCs with paired liver metastases and in vitro polarizing Caco2 and HT29 cells. IRS1 mRNA and protein resulted higher, relative to paired mucosa, in adenomas of familial adenomatous polyposis patients and in CRCs that overexpressed c-MYC, ß-catenin, InsRß, and IGF1R. Analysis of IRS1 immunostaining in 24 cases of primary CRC with paired colonic epithelium and hepatic metastasis showed that staining intensity was significantly higher in metastases relative to both primary CRC (P<0.01) and colonic epithelium (P<0.01). Primary and metastatic CRCs, compared to colonic epithelium, contained significantly higher numbers of IRS1-positive cells (P = 0.013 and P = 0.014, respectively). Pathologic correlations in 163 primary CRCs revealed that diffuse IRS1 staining was associated with tumors combining differentiated phenotype and aggressive markers (high Ki67, p53, and ß-catenin). In Caco 2 IRS1 and InsR were maximally expressed after polarization, while IGF1R was highest in pre-polarized cells. No nuclear IRS1 was detected, while, with polarization, phosphorylated IRS1 (pIRS1) shifted from the lateral to the apical plasma membrane and was expressed in surface cells only. In HT29, that carry mutations constitutively activating survival signaling, IRS1 and IGF1R decreased with polarization, while pIRS1 localized in nuclear spots throughout the course. Overall, these data provide evidence that IRS1 is modulated according to CRC differentiation, and support a role of IRS1 in CRC progression and liver metastatization.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036190
PMCID: PMC3338610  PMID: 22558377
17.  Predicting esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and squamous dysplasia: risk modeling in a high risk area in Iran 
Archives of Iranian Medicine  2012;15(1):18-21.
Background
Identifying people at higher risk of having squamous dysplasia, the precursor lesion for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), would allow targeted endoscopic screening.
Methods
We used multivariate logistic regression models to predict ESCC and dysplasia as outcomes. The ESCC model was based on data from the Golestan Case-Control Study (total n=871; cases=300), and the dysplasia model was based on data from a cohort of subjects from a GI clinic in Northeast Iran (total n=724; cases=26). In each of these analyses, we fit a model including all risk factors known in this region to be associated with ESCC. Individual risks were calculated using the linear combination of estimated regression coefficients and individual-specific values for covariates. We used cross-validation to determine the area under the curve (AUC) and to find the optimal cut points for each of the models.
Results
The model had an area under the curve of 0.77 (95% CI: 0.74–0.80) to predict ESCC with 74% sensitivity and 70.4% specificity for the optimum cut point. The area under the curve was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.64–0.79) for dysplasia diagnosis, and the classification table optimized at 61.5% sensitivity and 69.5% specificity. In this population, the positive and negative predictive values for diagnosis of dysplasia were 6.8% and 97.8%, respectively.
Conclusion
Our models were able to discriminate between ESCC cases and controls in about 77%, and between individuals with and without squamous dysplasia in about 70% of the cases. Using risk factors to predict individual risk of ESCC or squamous dysplasia still has limited application in clinical practice, but such models may be suitable for selecting high risk individuals in research studies, or increasing the pretest probability for other screening strategies.
PMCID: PMC3294378  PMID: 22208438
18.  Is Opium a Real Risk Factor for Esophageal Cancer or Just a Methodological Artifact? Hospital and Neighborhood Controls in Case-Control Studies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32711.
Background
Control selection is a major challenge in epidemiologic case-control studies. The aim of our study was to evaluate using hospital versus neighborhood control groups in studying risk factors of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We compared the results of two different case-control studies of ESCC conducted in the same region by a single research group. Case definition and enrollment were the same in the two studies, but control selection differed. In the first study, we selected two age- and sex-matched controls from inpatient subjects in hospitals, while for the second we selected two age- and sex-matched controls from each subject's neighborhood of residence. We used the test of heterogeneity to compare the results of the two studies. We found no significant differences in exposure data for tobacco-related variables such as cigarette smoking, chewing Nass (a tobacco product) and hookah (water pipe) usage, but the frequency of opium usage was significantly different between hospital and neighborhood controls. Consequently, the inference drawn for the association between ESCC and tobacco use did not differ between the studies, but it did for opium use. In the study using neighborhood controls, opium use was associated with a significantly increased risk of ESCC (adjusted OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.17–2.68), while in the study using hospital controls, this was not the case (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.63–1.87). Comparing the prevalence of opium consumption in the two control groups and a cohort enrolled from the same geographic area suggested that the neighborhood controls were more representative of the study base population for this exposure.
Conclusions/Significance
Hospital and neighborhood controls did not lead us to the same conclusion for a major hypothesized risk factor for ESCC in this population. Our results show that control group selection is critical in drawing appropriate conclusions in observational studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032711
PMCID: PMC3291619  PMID: 22396792
19.  Tea drinking habits and oesophageal cancer in a high risk area in northern Iran: population based case-control study 
Objective To investigate the association between tea drinking habits in Golestan province, northern Iran, and risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Design Population based case-control study. In addition, patterns of tea drinking and temperature at which tea was drunk were measured among healthy participants in a cohort study.
Setting Golestan province, northern Iran, an area with a high incidence of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Participants 300 histologically proved cases of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 571 matched neighbourhood controls in the case-control study and 48 582 participants in the cohort study.
Main outcome measure Odds ratio of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma associated with drinking hot tea.
Results Nearly all (98%) of the cohort participants drank black tea regularly, with a mean volume consumed of over one litre a day. 39.0% of participants drank their tea at temperatures less than 60°C, 38.9% at 60-64°C, and 22.0% at 65°C or higher. A moderate agreement was found between reported tea drinking temperature and actual temperature measurements (weighted κ 0.49). The results of the case-control study showed that compared with drinking lukewarm or warm tea, drinking hot tea (odds ratio 2.07, 95% confidence interval 1.28 to 3.35) or very hot tea (8.16, 3.93 to 16.9) was associated with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer. Likewise, compared with drinking tea four or more minutes after being poured, drinking tea 2-3 minutes after pouring (2.49, 1.62 to 3.83) or less than two minutes after pouring (5.41, 2.63 to 11.1) was associated with a significantly increased risk. A strong agreement was found between responses to the questions on temperature at which tea was drunk and interval from tea being poured to being drunk (weighted κ 0.68).
Conclusion Drinking hot tea, a habit common in Golestan province, was strongly associated with a higher risk of oesophageal cancer.
doi:10.1136/bmj.b929
PMCID: PMC3269898  PMID: 19325180
20.  Clinical Features and Long Term Outcome of 102 Treated Autoimmune Hepatitis Patients 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(2):92-99.
Background
There is limited data on the natural history of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and on the long-term follow-up of AIH patients who have been referred for regular medical attention.
Objectives
We evaluated the clinical presentation and natural history of AIH in a large cohort of type I AIH patients from Iran.
Patients and Methods
Between 1997 and 2008, 102 patients were enrolled in the study. Patients were diagnosed using the International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group criteria and were followed up for an average of 60 months. Clinical and biochemical data were gathered from all the patients at both the beginning and the end of the follow-up period. Liver biopsy was performed in all patients before treatment, and the biopsies were performed in 28 patients after treatment.
Results
Biochemical remission was achieved by 80 (79.4%) patients. Of these, 53 (66.5%) showed near-normal liver histology or liver function test results and sonogram. The remaining 27 (33.5%) patients also achieved clinical and biochemical remission, but developed compensated cirrhosis. After a period of remission, 24 patients (32.5%) relapsed. Among the 22 (21.6%) patients who showed ultimate treatment failure, 6 underwent orthotopic liver transplantation and 3 died of liver failure while awaiting a transplant. Sixteen (72.7%) of the 22 patients who did not respond to therapy were non-compliant with medications and had irregular follow-up. The overall 10-year survival rate in the cohort was 96%.
Conclusions
Long-term survival in AIH patients is very good. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate first-line and salvage therapy that includes close follow-up will make liver transplantation a rare necessity in the treatment of this disease.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.808
PMCID: PMC3321327  PMID: 22509185
Hepatitis; Autoimmune; Natural History; Liver Cirrhosis; Hepatitis, Chronic; Iran
21.  Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Among Never Smokers in Golestan Province, Iran, an Area of High Incidence of Esophageal Cancer – a Cross-Sectional Study with Repeated Measurement of Urinary 1-OHPG in Two Seasons 
Studies have suggested a possible role of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the etiology of esophageal cancer in Golestan Province, Iran, where incidence of this cancer is very high. In order to investigate the patterns of non-smoking related exposure to PAHs in Golestan, we conducted a cross-sectional study collecting questionnaire data, genotyping polymorphisms related to PAH metabolism, and measuring levels of 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG), a PAH metabolite, in urine samples collected in two seasons from the same group of 111 randomly selected never-smoking women. Beta-coefficients for correlations between 1-OHPG as dependent variable and other variables were calculated using linear regression models. The creatinine-adjusted 1-OHPG levels in both winter and summer samples were approximately 110 μmol/molCr (P for seasonal difference = 0.40). In winter, red meat intake (β = 0.208; P = 0.03), processed meat intake (β = 0.218; P = 0.02), and GSTT1-02 polymorphism (“null” genotype: β = 0.228; P = 0.02) showed associations with 1-OHPG levels, while CYP1B1-07 polymorphism (GG versus AA + GA genotypes: β = –0.256; P = 0.008) showed an inverse association. In summer, making bread at home (> weekly versus never: β = 0.203; P = 0.04), second-hand smoke (exposure to ≥3 cigarettes versus no exposure: β = 0.254; P = 0.01), and GSTM1-02 “null” genotype (β = 0.198; P = 0.04) showed associations with 1-OHPG levels, but GSTP1-02 polymorphism (CT + TT versus CC: β = –0.218; P = 0.03) showed an inverse association. This study confirms high exposure of the general population in Golestan to PAHs and suggests that certain foods, cooking methods, and genetic polymorphisms increase exposure to PAHs.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2012.00014
PMCID: PMC3356003  PMID: 22655262
1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide; esophageal cancer; frying; red meat; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; polymorphism
22.  Extremely High Tp53 Mutation Load in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Golestan Province, Iran 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29488.
Background
Golestan Province in northeastern Iran has one of the highest incidences of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in the world with rates over 50 per 100,000 person-years in both sexes. We have analyzed TP53 mutation patterns in tumors from this high-risk geographic area in search of clues to the mutagenic processes involved in causing ESCC.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Biopsies of 119 confirmed ESCC tumor tissue from subjects enrolled in a case-control study conducted in Golestan Province were analyzed by direct sequencing of TP53 exons 2 through 11. Immunohistochemical staining for p53 was carried out using two monoclonal antibodies, DO7 and 1801. A total of 120 TP53 mutations were detected in 107/119 cases (89.9%), including 11 patients with double or triple mutations. The mutation pattern was heterogeneous with infrequent mutations at common TP53 “hotspots” but frequent transversions potentially attributable to environmental carcinogens forming bulky DNA adducts, including 40% at bases known as site of mutagenesis by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Mutations showed different patterns according to the reported temperature of tea consumption, but no variation was observed in relation to ethnicity, tobacco or opium use, and alcoholic beverage consumption or urban versus rural residence.
Conclusion/Significance
ESCC tumors in people from Golestan Province show the highest rate of TP53 mutations ever reported in any cancer anywhere. The heterogeneous mutation pattern is highly suggestive of a causative role for multiple environmental carcinogens, including PAHs. The temperature and composition of tea may also influence mutagenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029488
PMCID: PMC3246475  PMID: 22216294
23.  Accuracy and Cut-Off Values of Pepsinogens I, II and Gastrin 17 for Diagnosis of Gastric Fundic Atrophy: Influence of Gastritis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26957.
Background
To establish optimal cutoff values for serologic diagnosis of fundic atrophy in a high-risk area for oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma and gastric cancer with high prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in Northern Iran, we performed an endoscopy-room-based validation study.
Methods
We measured serum pepsinogens I (PGI) and II (PGII), gastrin 17 (G-17), and antibodies against whole H. pylori, or cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA) antigen among 309 consecutive patients in two major endoscopy clinics in northeastern Iran. Updated Sydney System was used as histology gold standard. Areas under curves (AUCs), optimal cutoff and predictive values were calculated for serum biomarkers against the histology.
Results
309 persons were recruited (mean age: 63.5 years old, 59.5% female). 84.5% were H. pylori positive and 77.5% were CagA positive. 21 fundic atrophy and 101 nonatrophic pangastritis were diagnosed. The best cutoff values in fundic atrophy assessment were calculated at PGI<56 µg/l (sensitivity: 61.9%, specificity: 94.8%) and PGI/PGII ratio<5 (sensitivity: 75.0%, specificity: 91.0%). A serum G-17<2.6 pmol/l or G-17>40 pmol/l was 81% sensitive and 73.3% specific for diagnosing fundic atrophy. At cutoff concentration of 11.8 µg/l, PGII showed 84.2% sensitivity and 45.4% specificity to distinguish nonatrophic pangastritis. Exclusion of nonatrophic pangastritis enhanced diagnostic ability of PGI/PGII ratio (from AUC = 0.66 to 0.90) but did not affect AUC of PGI. After restricting study samples to those with PGII<11.8, the sensitivity of using PGI<56 to define fundic atrophy increased to 83.3% (95%CI 51.6–97.9) and its specificity decreased to 88.8% (95%CI 80.8–94.3).
Conclusions
Among endoscopy clinic patients, PGII is a sensitive marker for extension of nonatrophic gastritis toward the corpus. PGI is a stable biomarker in assessment of fundic atrophy and has similar accuracy to PGI/PGII ratio among populations with prevalent nonatrophic pangastritis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026957
PMCID: PMC3204997  PMID: 22066020
24.  Diabetes Mellitus and Its Correlates in an Iranian Adult Population 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26725.
The rising epidemic of diabetes imposes a substantial economic burden on the Middle East. Using baseline data from a population based cohort study, we aimed to identify the correlates of diabetes mellitus (DM) in a mainly rural population from Iran. Between 2004 and 2007, 50044 adults between 30 and 87 years old from Golestan Province located in Northeast Iran were enrolled in the Golestan Cohort Study. Demographic and health-related information was collected using questionnaires. Individuals' body sizes at ages 15 and 30 were assessed by validated pictograms ranging from 1 (very lean) to 7 in men and 9 in women. DM diagnosis was based on the self-report of a physician's diagnosis. The accuracy of self-reported DM was evaluated in a subcohort of 3811 individuals using fasting plasma glucose level and medical records. Poisson regression with robust variance estimator was used to estimate prevalence ratios (PR's). The prevalence of self-reported DM standardized to the national and world population was 5.7% and 6.2%, respectively. Self-reported DM had 61.5% sensitivity and 97.6% specificity. Socioeconomic status was inversely associated with DM prevalence. Green tea and opium consumption increased the prevalence of DM. Obesity at all ages and extreme leanness in childhood increased diabetes prevalence. Being obese throughout life doubled DM prevalence in women (PR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.8, 2.4). These findings emphasize the importance of improving DM awareness, improving general living conditions, and early lifestyle modifications in diabetes prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026725
PMCID: PMC3203882  PMID: 22053206
25.  The Impact of Illicit Drug Use on Spontaneous Hepatitis C Clearance: Experience from a Large Cohort Population Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23830.
Background and Aims
Acute hepatitis C infection usually ends in chronic infection, while in a minority of patients it is spontaneously cleared. The current population-based study is performed on a large cohort in Golestan province of Iran to examine the demographic correlates of Spontaneous Hepatitis C Clearance.
Methods
Serum samples used in this study had been stored in biorepository of Golestan Cohort Study. These samples were evaluated for anti hepatitis C Virus by third generation Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Subjects who tested positive were then invited and tested by Recombinant Immunoblot Assay (RIBA) and Ribonucleic Acid Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR). If tested positive for RIBA, subjects were recalled and the two tests were re-done after 6 months. Those subjects who again tested positive for RIBA but negative for PCR were marked as cases of spontaneous clearance.
Results
49,338 serum samples were evaluated. The prevalence of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus (CHCV) infection based on PCR results was 0.31%. Among those who had acquired hepatitis C, the rate of SC was 38%. In multivariate analysis, illicit drug use both Injecting Use (OR = 3.271, 95% CI: 1.784–6.000, p-value<0.001) and Non-Injecting Use (OR = 1.901, 95% CI: 1.068–3.386, p-value = 0.029) were significant correlates of CHCV infection versus SC.
Conclusions
Illicit drug use whether intravenous or non-intravenous is the only significant correlate of CHCV, for which several underlying mechanisms can be postulated including repeated contacts with hepatitis C antigen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023830
PMCID: PMC3161071  PMID: 21887326

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