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1.  Early Life Exposure to Air Pollution: How Bad Is It? 
Toxicology letters  2012;216(1):47-53.
Increasing concentrations of air pollution have been shown to contribute to an enormity of adverse health outcomes worldwide, which have been observed in clinical, epidemiological, and animal studies as well as in vitro investigations. Recently, studies have shown that air pollution can affect the developing fetus via maternal exposure, resulting in preterm birth, low birth weight, growth restriction, and potentially adverse cardiovascular and respiratory outcomes. This review will provide a summary of the harmful effects of air pollution exposure on the developing fetus and infant, and suggest potential mechanisms to limit the exposure of pregnant mothers and infants to air pollution.
doi:10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.11.007
PMCID: PMC3527658  PMID: 23164674
air pollution; particulate matter; fetal; infant
2.  Direct and Indirect Effects of PM on the Cardiovascular System 
Toxicology letters  2011;208(3):293-299.
Human exposure to particulate matter (PM) elicits a variety of responses on the cardiovascular system through both direct and indirect pathways. Indirect effects of PM on the cardiovascular system are mediated through the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate variability, and inflammatory responses, which augment acute cardiovascular events and atherosclerosis. Recent research demonstrates that PM also affects the cardiovascular system directly by entry into the systemic circulation. This process causes myocardial dysfunction through mechanisms of reactive oxygen species production, calcium ion interference, and vascular dysfunction. In this review, we will present key evidence in both the direct and indirect pathways, suggest clinical applications of the current literature, and recommend directions for future research.
doi:10.1016/j.toxlet.2011.11.008
PMCID: PMC3248967  PMID: 22119171
particulate matter; cardiovascular dysfunction; air pollution; inflammation; reactive oxygen species
3.  Cardiovascular Remodeling in Response to Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution 
Circulation. Heart failure  2012;5(4):452-461.
Background
Air pollution is a pervasive environmental health hazard that occurs over a lifetime of exposure in individuals from many industrialized societies. However, studies have focused primarily on exposure durations that correspond to only a portion of the lifespan. We therefore tested the hypothesis that exposure over a considerable portion of the lifespan would induce maladaptive cardiovascular responses.
Methods and Results
C57BL/6 male mice were exposed to concentrated ambient particles <2.5 μm (particulate matter, PM or PM2.5) or filtered air (FA), 6 h/d, 5 d/wk, for 9 months. Assessment of cardiac contractile function, coronary arterial flow reserve, isolated cardiomyocyte function, expression of hypertrophic markers, calcium handling proteins, and cardiac fibrosis were then performed. Mean daily concentrations of PM2.5 in the exposure chamber versus ambient daily PM2.5 concentration at the study site were 85.3 versus 10.6 μg/m3 (7.8-fold concentration), respectively. PM2.5 exposure resulted in increased hypertrophic markers leading to adverse ventricular remodeling characterized by myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform switch and fibrosis, decreased fractional shortening (39.8±1.4 FA versus 27.9±1.3 PM, FS%), and mitral inflow patterns consistent with diastolic dysfunction (1.95±0.05 FA versus 1.52±0.07 PM, E/A ratio). Contractile reserve to dobutamine was depressed (62.3±0.9 FA versus 49.2±1.5 PM, FS%) in response to PM2.5 without significant alterations in maximal vasodilator flow reserve. In vitro cardiomyocyte function revealed depressed peak shortening (8.7±0.6 FA versus 7.0±0.4 PM, %PS) and increased time-to-90% shortening (72.5±3.2 FA versus 82.8±3.2 PM, ms) and relengthening (253.1±7.9 FA versus 282.8±9.3 PM, ms), which were associated with upregulation of profibrotic markers and decreased total antioxidant capacity. Whole-heart SERCA2a levels and the ratio of α/β-MHC were both significantly decreased (P<0.05) in PM2.5-exposed animals, suggesting a switch to fetal programming.
Conclusions
Long-term exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of PM2.5 resulted in a cardiac phenotype consistent with incipient heart failure.
doi:10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.112.966580
PMCID: PMC3617499  PMID: 22661498
air pollution; particulate matter; cardiovascular; cardiac; remodeling
4.  Characterization and Functionality of Cardiac Progenitor Cells in Congenital Heart Patients 
Circulation  2011;123(4):364-373.
Background
Human cardiac progenitor cells (hCPCs) may promote myocardial regeneration in adult ischemic myocardium. The regenerative capacity of hCPCs in young patients with nonischemic congenital heart defects for potential use in congenital heart defect repair warrants exploration.
Methods and Results
Human right atrial specimens were obtained during routine congenital cardiac surgery across 3 groups: neonates (age, <30 days), infants (age, 1 month to 2 years), and children (age, >2 to ≤13 years). C-kit+ hCPCs were 3-fold higher in neonates than in children >2 years of age. hCPC proliferation was greatest during the neonatal period as evidenced by c-kit+ Ki67+ expression but decreased with age. hCPC differentiation capacity was also greatest in neonatal right atrium as evidenced by c-kit+, NKX2–5+, NOTCH1+, and NUMB+ expression. Despite the age-dependent decline in resident hCPCs, we isolated and expanded right atrium–derived CPCs from all patients (n = 103) across all ages and diagnoses using the cardiosphere method. Intact cardiospheres contained a mix of heart-derived cell subpopulations that included cardiac progenitor cells expressing c-kit+, Islet-1, and supporting cells. The number of c-kit+–expressing cells was highest in human cardiosphere-derived cells (hCDCs) grown from neonatal and infant right atrium. Furthermore, hCDCs could differentiate into diverse cardiovascular lineages by in vitro differentiation assays. Transplanted hCDCs promoted greater myocardial regeneration and functional improvement in infarcted myocardium than transplanted cardiac fibroblasts.
Conclusions
Resident hCPCs are most abundant in the neonatal period and rapidly decrease over time. hCDCs can be reproducibly isolated and expanded from young human myocardial samples regardless of age or diagnosis. hCPCs are functional and have potential in congenital cardiac repair.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.971622
PMCID: PMC3320857  PMID: 21242485
heart defects; congenital; cardiomyopathy; heart failure; remodeling; pediatrics; stem cells
5.  Myocardial dysfunction in an animal model of cancer cachexia 
Life sciences  2010;88(9-10):406-410.
Aims
Fatigue is a common occurrence in cancer patients regardless of tumor type or anti-tumor therapies and is an especially problematic symptom in persons with incurable tumor disease. In rodents, tumor-induced fatigue is associated with a progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and increased expression of biomarkers of muscle protein degradation. The purpose of the present study was to determine if muscle wasting and expression of biomarkers of muscle protein degradation occur in the hearts of tumor-bearing mice, and if these effects of tumor growth are associated with changes in systolic dysfunction.
Main Methods
The colon 26 adenocarcinoma cell line was implanted into female CD2F1 mice and skeletal muscle wasting, in vivo heart function, in vitro cardiomyocyte function, and biomarkers of muscle protein degradation were determined.
Key Findings
Expression of biomarkers of protein degradation were increased in both the gastrocnemius and heart muscle of tumor-bearing mice and caused systolic dysfunction in vivo. Cardiomyocyte function was significantly depressed during both cellular contraction and relaxation.
Significance
These results suggest that heart muscle is directly affected by tumor growth, with myocardial function more severely compromised at the cellular level than what is observed using echocardiography.
doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2010.12.010
PMCID: PMC3057126  PMID: 21167183
cancer; cachexia; myocardial function; cardiomyocyte; autophagy; ubiquitin
6.  In Vivo Near-Infrared Imaging of Fibrin Deposition in Thromboembolic Stroke in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30262.
Objectives
Thrombus and secondary thrombosis plays a key role in stroke. Recent molecular imaging provides in vivo imaging of activated factor XIII (FXIIIa), an important mediator of thrombosis or fibrinolytic resistance. The present study was to investigate the fibrin deposition in a thromboembolic stroke mice model by FXIIIa–targeted near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging.
Materials and Methods
The experimental protocol was approved by our institutional animal use committee. Seventy-six C57B/6J mice were subjected to thromboembolic middle cerebral artery occlusion or sham operation. Mice were either intravenously injected with the FXIIIa-targeted probe or control probe. In vivo and ex vivo NIRF imaging were performed thereafter. Probe distribution was assessed with fluorescence microscopy by spectral imaging and quantification system. MR scans were performed to measure lesion volumes in vivo, which were correlated with histology after animal euthanasia.
Results
In vivo significant higher fluorescence intensity over the ischemia-affected hemisphere, compared to the contralateral side, was detected in mice that received FXIIIa-targeted probe, but not in the controlled mice. Significantly NIRF signals showed time-dependent processes from 8 to 96 hours after injection of FXIIIa-targeted probes. Ex vivo NIRF image showed an intense fluorescence within the ischemic territory only in mice injected with FXIIIa-targeted probe. The fluorescence microscopy demonstrated distribution of FXIIIa-targeted probe in the ischemic region and nearby micro-vessels, and FXIIIa-targeted probe signals showed good overlap with immune-fluorescent fibrin staining images. There was a significant correlation between total targeted signal from in vivo or ex vivo NIRF images and lesion volume.
Conclusion
Non-invasive detection of fibrin deposition in ischemic mouse brain using NIRF imaging is feasible and this technique may provide an in vivo experimental tool in studying the role of fibrin in stroke.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030262
PMCID: PMC3260250  PMID: 22272319
7.  Systemic Maternal Inflammation and Neonatal Hyperoxia Induces Remodeling and Left Ventricular Dysfunction in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24544.
Aims
The impact of the neonatal environment on the development of adult cardiovascular disease is poorly understood. Systemic maternal inflammation is linked to growth retardation, preterm birth, and maturation deficits in the developing fetus. Often preterm or small-for-gestational age infants require medical interventions such as oxygen therapy. The long-term pathological consequences of medical interventions on an immature physiology remain unknown. In the present study, we hypothesized that systemic maternal inflammation and neonatal hyperoxia exposure compromise cardiac structure, resulting in LV dysfunction during adulthood.
Methods and Results
Pregnant C3H/HeN mice were injected on embryonic day 16 (E16) with LPS (80 µg/kg; i.p.) or saline. Offspring were placed in room air (RA) or 85% O2 for 14 days and subsequently maintained in RA. Cardiac echocardiography, cardiomyocyte contractility, and molecular analyses were performed. Echocardiography revealed persistent lower left ventricular fractional shortening with greater left ventricular end systolic diameter at 8 weeks in LPS/O2 than in saline/RA mice. Isolated cardiomyocytes from LPS/O2 mice had slower rates of contraction and relaxation, and a slower return to baseline length than cardiomyocytes isolated from saline/RA controls. α-/β-MHC ratio was increased and Connexin-43 levels decreased in LPS/O2 mice at 8 weeks. Nox4 was reduced between day 3 and 14 and capillary density was lower at 8 weeks of life in LPS/O2 mice.
Conclusion
These results demonstrate that systemic maternal inflammation combined with neonatal hyperoxia exposure induces alterations in cardiac structure and function leading to cardiac failure in adulthood and supports the importance of the intrauterine and neonatal milieu on adult health.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024544
PMCID: PMC3173376  PMID: 21935422
8.  Cardiovascular effects of ambient particulate air pollution exposure 
Circulation  2010;121(25):2755-2765.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.893461
PMCID: PMC2924678  PMID: 20585020
air pollution; particulate matter; cardiovascular disease
9.  Interaction between Age and Obesity on Cardiomyocyte Contractile Function: Role of Leptin and Stress Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10085.
Objectives
This study was designed to evaluate the interaction between aging and obesity on cardiac contractile and intracellular Ca2+ properties.
Methods
Cardiomyocytes from young (4-mo) and aging (12- and 18-mo) male lean and the leptin deficient ob/ob obese mice were treated with leptin (0.5, 1.0 and 50 nM) for 4 hrs in vitro. High fat diet (45% calorie from fat) and the leptin receptor mutant db/db obesity models at young and older age were used for comparison. Cardiomyocyte contractile and intracellular Ca2+ properties were evaluated including peak shortening (PS), maximal velocity of shortening/relengthening (± dL/dt), time-to-PS (TPS), time-to-90% relengthening (TR90), intracellular Ca2+ levels and decay. O2− levels were measured by dihydroethidium fluorescence.
Results
Our results revealed reduced survival in ob/ob mice. Aging and obesity reduced PS, ± dL/dt, intracellular Ca2+ rise, prolonged TR90 and intracellular Ca2+ decay, enhanced O2− production and p47phox expression without an additive effect of the two, with the exception of intracellular Ca2+ rise. Western blot analysis exhibited reduced Ob-R expression and STAT-3 phosphorylation in both young and aging ob/ob mice, which was restored by leptin. Aging and obesity reduced phosphorylation of Akt, eNOS and p38 while promoting pJNK and pIκB. Low levels of leptin reconciled contractile, intracellular Ca2+ and cell signaling defects as well as O2− production and p47phox upregulation in young but not aging ob/ob mice. High level of leptin (50 nM) compromised contractile and intracellular Ca2+ response as well as O2− production and stress signaling in all groups. High fat diet-induced and db/db obesity displayed somewhat comparable aging-induced mechanical but not leptin response.
Conclusions
Taken together, our data suggest that aging and obesity compromise cardiac contractile function possibly via phosphorylation of Akt, eNOS and stress signaling-associated O2− release.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010085
PMCID: PMC2852499  PMID: 20396382
10.  Measurement of Cardiac Mechanical Function in Isolated Ventricular Myocytes from Rats and Mice by Computerized Video-Based Imaging 
Isolated adult cardiac ventricular myocytes have been a useful model for cardiovascular research for more than 20 years. With the recent advances in cellular physiology and transgenic techniques, direct measurement of isolated ventricular myocyte mechanics is becoming an increasingly important technique in cardiac physiology that provides fundamental information on excitation-contraction coupling of the heart, either in drug intervention or pathological states. The goal of this article is to describe the isolation of ventricular myocytes from both rats and mice, and the use of real-time beat-to-beat simultaneous recording of both myocyte contraction and intracellular Ca2+ transient.
doi:10.1251/bpo22
PMCID: PMC145545  PMID: 12734580
myocardial contraction; research design; calcium
11.  Adult Cardiac Progenitor Cell Aggregates Exhibit Survival Benefit Both In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50491.
Background
A major hurdle in the use of exogenous stems cells for therapeutic regeneration of injured myocardium remains the poor survival of implanted cells. To date, the delivery of stem cells into myocardium has largely focused on implantation of cell suspensions.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We hypothesize that delivering progenitor cells in an aggregate form would serve to mimic the endogenous state with proper cell-cell contact, and may aid the survival of implanted cells. Microwell methodologies allow for the culture of homogenous 3D cell aggregates, thereby allowing cell-cell contact. In this study, we find that the culture of cardiac progenitor cells in a 3D cell aggregate augments cell survival and protects against cellular toxins and stressors, including hydrogen peroxide and anoxia/reoxygenation induced cell death. Moreover, using a murine model of cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury, we find that delivery of cardiac progenitor cells in the form of 3D aggregates improved in vivo survival of implanted cells.
Conclusion
Collectively, our data support the notion that growth in 3D cellular systems and maintenance of cell-cell contact improves exogenous cell survival following delivery into myocardium. These approaches may serve as a strategy to improve cardiovascular cell-based therapies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050491
PMCID: PMC3511575  PMID: 23226295
12.  Longstanding Hyperthyroidism Is Associated with Normal or Enhanced Intrinsic Cardiomyocyte Function despite Decline in Global Cardiac Function 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46655.
Thyroid hormones (THs) play a pivotal role in cardiac homeostasis. TH imbalances alter cardiac performance and ultimately cause cardiac dysfunction. Although short-term hyperthyroidism typically leads to heightened left ventricular (LV) contractility and improved hemodynamic parameters, chronic hyperthyroidism is associated with deleterious cardiac consequences including increased risk of arrhythmia, impaired cardiac reserve and exercise capacity, myocardial remodeling, and occasionally heart failure. To evaluate the long-term consequences of chronic hyperthyroidism on LV remodeling and function, we examined LV isolated myocyte function, chamber function, and whole tissue remodeling in a hamster model. Three-month-old F1b hamsters were randomized to control or 10 months TH treatment (0.1% grade I desiccated TH). LV chamber remodeling and function was assessed by echocardiography at 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 months of treatment. After 10 months, terminal cardiac function was assessed by echocardiography and LV hemodynamics. Hyperthyroid hamsters exhibited significant cardiac hypertrophy and deleterious cardiac remodeling characterized by myocyte lengthening, chamber dilatation, decreased relative wall thickness, increased wall stress, and increased LV interstitial fibrotic deposition. Importantly, hyperthyroid hamsters demonstrated significant LV systolic and diastolic dysfunction. Despite the aforementioned remodeling and global cardiac decline, individual isolated cardiac myocytes from chronically hyperthyroid hamsters had enhanced function when compared with myocytes from untreated age-matched controls. Thus, it appears that long-term hyperthyroidism may impair global LV function, at least in part by increasing interstitial ventricular fibrosis, in spite of normal or enhanced intrinsic cardiomyocyte function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046655
PMCID: PMC3464244  PMID: 23056390
13.  Rapid Changes in Cardiac Myofilament Function following the Acute Activation of Estrogen Receptor-Alpha 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41076.
Estrogens have well-recognized and complex cardiovascular effects, including altering myocardial contractility through changes in myofilament function. The presence of multiple estrogen receptor (ER) isoforms in the heart may explain some discrepant findings about the cardiac effects of estrogens. Most studies examining the impact of estrogens on the heart have focused on chronic changes in estrogen levels, and have not investigated rapid, non-genomic pathways. The first objective of this study was to determine how acute activation of ERα impacts cardiac myofilaments. Nongenomic myocardial estrogen signaling is associated with the activation of a variety of signaling pathways. p38 MAPK has been implicated in acute ER signaling in the heart, and is known to affect myofilament function. Thus, the second objective of this study was to determine if acute ERα activation mediates its myofilament effects through p38 MAPK recruitment. Hearts from female C57Bl/6 mice were perfused with the ERα agonist PPT and myofilaments isolated. Activation of ERα depressed actomyosin MgATPase activity and decreased myofilament calcium sensitivity. Inhibition of p38 MAPK attenuated the myofilament effects of ERα activation. ERα stimulation did not affect global myofilament protein phosphorylation, but troponin I phosphorylation at the putative PKA phosphorylation sites was decreased. Changes in myofilament activation did not translate into alterations in whole heart function. The present study provides evidence supporting rapid, non-genomic changes in cardiac myofilament function following acute ERα stimulation mediated by the p38 MAPK pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041076
PMCID: PMC3408454  PMID: 22859967
14.  Gq/11-Mediated Signaling and Hypertrophy in Mice with Cardiac-Specific Transgenic Expression of Regulator of G-Protein Signaling 2 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40048.
Cardiac hypertrophy is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Activation of Gq/11-mediated signaling is required for pressure overload-induced cardiomyocyte (CM) hypertrophy to develop. We previously showed that among Regulators of G protein Signaling, RGS2 selectively inhibits Gq/11 signaling and its hypertrophic effects in isolated CM. In this study, we generated transgenic mice with CM-specific, conditional RGS2 expression (dTG) to investigate whether RGS2 overexpression can be used to attenuate Gq/11-mediated signaling and hypertrophy in vivo. Transverse aortic constriction (TAC) induced a comparable rise in ventricular mass and ANF expression and corresponding hemodynamic changes in dTG compared to wild types (WT), regardless of the TAC duration (1-8 wks) and timing of RGS2 expression (from birth or adulthood). Inhibition of endothelin-1-induced Gq/11-mediated phospholipase C β activity in ventricles and atrial appendages indicated functionality of transgenic RGS2. However, the inhibitory effect of transgenic RGS2 on Gq/11-mediated PLCβ activation differed between ventricles and atria: (i) in sham-operated dTG mice the magnitude of the inhibitory effect was less pronounced in ventricles than in atria, and (ii) after TAC, negative regulation of Gq/11 signaling was absent in ventricles but fully preserved in atria. Neither difference could be explained by differences in expression levels, including marked RGS2 downregulation after TAC in left ventricle and atrium. Counter-regulatory changes in other Gq/11-regulating RGS proteins (RGS4, RGS5, RGS6) and random insertion were also excluded as potential causes. Taken together, despite ample evidence for a role of RGS2 in negatively regulating Gq/11 signaling and hypertrophy in CM, CM-specific RGS2 overexpression in transgenic mice in vivo did not lead to attenuate ventricular Gq/11-mediated signaling and hypertrophy in response to pressure overload. Furthermore, our study suggests chamber-specific differences in the regulation of RGS2 functionality and potential future utility of the new transgenic model in mitigating Gq/11 signaling in the atria in vivo.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040048
PMCID: PMC3388988  PMID: 22802950
15.  Heart Rate-Corrected QT Interval Helps Predict Mortality after Intentional Organophosphate Poisoning 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36576.
Introduction
In this study, we investigated the outcomes for patients with intentional organophosphate poisoning. Previous reports indicate that in contrast to normal heart rate-corrected QT intervals (QTc), QTc prolongation might be indicative of a poor prognosis for patients exposed to organophosphates.
Methods
We analyzed the records of 118 patients who were referred to Chang Gung Memorial Hospital for management of organophosphate poisoning between 2000 and 2011. Patients were grouped according to their initial QTc interval, i.e., normal (<0.44 s) or prolonged (>0.44 s). Demographic, clinical, laboratory, and mortality data were obtained for analysis.
Results
The incidence of hypotension in patients with prolonged QTc intervals was higher than that in the patients with normal QTc intervals (P = 0.019). By the end of the study, 18 of 118 (15.2%) patients had died, including 3 of 75 (4.0%) patients with normal QTc intervals and 15 of 43 (34.9%) patients with prolonged QTc intervals. Using multivariate-Cox-regression analysis, we found that hypotension (OR = 10.930, 95% CI = 2.961–40.345, P = 0.000), respiratory failure (OR = 4.867, 95% CI = 1.062–22.301, P = 0.042), coma (OR = 3.482, 95% CI = 1.184–10.238, P = 0.023), and QTc prolongation (OR = 7.459, 95% CI = 2.053–27.099, P = 0.002) were significant risk factors for mortality. Furthermore, it was revealed that non-survivors not only had longer QTc interval (503.00±41.56 versus 432.71±51.21 ms, P = 0.002), but also suffered higher incidences of hypotension (83.3 versus 12.0%, P = 0.000), shortness of breath (64 versus 94.4%, P = 0.010), bronchorrhea (55 versus 94.4%, P = 0.002), bronchospasm (50.0 versus 94.4%, P = 0.000), respiratory failure (94.4 versus 43.0%, P = 0.000) and coma (66.7 versus 11.0%, P = 0.000) than survivors. Finally, Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that cumulative mortality was higher among patients with prolonged QTc intervals than among those with normal QTc intervals (Log-rank test, Chi-square test = 20.36, P<0.001).
Conclusions
QTc interval helps predict mortality after intentional organophosphate poisoning.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036576
PMCID: PMC3344908  PMID: 22574184
16.  Human Occupancy as a Source of Indoor Airborne Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34867.
Exposure to specific airborne bacteria indoors is linked to infectious and noninfectious adverse health outcomes. However, the sources and origins of bacteria suspended in indoor air are not well understood. This study presents evidence for elevated concentrations of indoor airborne bacteria due to human occupancy, and investigates the sources of these bacteria. Samples were collected in a university classroom while occupied and when vacant. The total particle mass concentration, bacterial genome concentration, and bacterial phylogenetic populations were characterized in indoor, outdoor, and ventilation duct supply air, as well as in the dust of ventilation system filters and in floor dust. Occupancy increased the total aerosol mass and bacterial genome concentration in indoor air PM10 and PM2.5 size fractions, with an increase of nearly two orders of magnitude in airborne bacterial genome concentration in PM10. On a per mass basis, floor dust was enriched in bacterial genomes compared to airborne particles. Quantitative comparisons between bacterial populations in indoor air and potential sources suggest that resuspended floor dust is an important contributor to bacterial aerosol populations during occupancy. Experiments that controlled for resuspension from the floor implies that direct human shedding may also significantly impact the concentration of indoor airborne particles. The high content of bacteria specific to the skin, nostrils, and hair of humans found in indoor air and in floor dust indicates that floors are an important reservoir of human-associated bacteria, and that the direct particle shedding of desquamated skin cells and their subsequent resuspension strongly influenced the airborne bacteria population structure in this human-occupied environment. Inhalation exposure to microbes shed by other current or previous human occupants may occur in communal indoor environments.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034867
PMCID: PMC3329548  PMID: 22529946
17.  Nitroxyl (HNO) Stimulates Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase to Suppress Cardiomyocyte Hypertrophy and Superoxide Generation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34892.
Background
New therapeutic targets for cardiac hypertrophy, an independent risk factor for heart failure and death, are essential. HNO is a novel redox sibling of NO• attracting considerable attention for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, eliciting cGMP-dependent vasodilatation yet cGMP-independent positive inotropy. The impact of HNO on cardiac hypertrophy (which is negatively regulated by cGMP) however has not been investigated.
Methods
Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were incubated with angiotensin II (Ang II) in the presence and absence of the HNO donor Angeli's salt (sodium trioxodinitrate) or B-type natriuretic peptide, BNP (all 1 µmol/L). Hypertrophic responses and its triggers, as well as cGMP signaling, were determined.
Results
We now demonstrate that Angeli's salt inhibits Ang II-induced hypertrophic responses in cardiomyocytes, including increases in cardiomyocyte size, de novo protein synthesis and β-myosin heavy chain expression. Angeli's salt also suppresses Ang II induction of key triggers of the cardiomyocyte hypertrophic response, including NADPH oxidase (on both Nox2 expression and superoxide generation), as well as p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK). The antihypertrophic, superoxide-suppressing and cGMP-elevating effects of Angeli's salt were mimicked by BNP. We also demonstrate that the effects of Angeli's salt are specifically mediated by HNO (with no role for NO• or nitrite), with subsequent activation of cardiomyocyte soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and cGMP signaling (on both cGMP-dependent protein kinase, cGK-I and phosphorylation of vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein, VASP).
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that HNO prevents cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, and that cGMP-dependent NADPH oxidase suppression contributes to these antihypertrophic actions. HNO donors may thus represent innovative pharmacotherapy for cardiac hypertrophy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034892
PMCID: PMC3323591  PMID: 22506056
18.  Effect of Operating and Sampling Conditions on the Exhaust Gas Composition of Small-Scale Power Generators 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32825.
Small stationary diesel engines, like in generator sets, have limited emission control measures and are therefore responsible for 44% of the particulate matter (PM) emissions in the United States. The diesel exhaust composition depends on operating conditions of the combustion engine. Furthermore, the measurements are influenced by the used sampling method. This study examines the effect of engine loading and exhaust gas dilution on the composition of small-scale power generators. These generators are used in different operating conditions than road-transport vehicles, resulting in different emission characteristics. Experimental data were obtained for gaseous volatile organic compounds (VOC) and PM mass concentration, elemental composition and nitrate content. The exhaust composition depends on load condition because of its effect on fuel consumption, engine wear and combustion temperature. Higher load conditions result in lower PM concentration and sharper edged particles with larger aerodynamic diameters. A positive correlation with load condition was found for K, Ca, Sr, Mn, Cu, Zn and Pb adsorbed on PM, elements that originate from lubricating oil or engine corrosion. The nitrate concentration decreases at higher load conditions, due to enhanced nitrate dissociation to gaseous NO at higher engine temperatures. Dilution on the other hand decreases PM and nitrate concentration and increases gaseous VOC and adsorbed metal content. In conclusion, these data show that operating and sampling conditions have a major effect on the exhaust gas composition of small-scale diesel generators. Therefore, care must be taken when designing new experiments or comparing literature results.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032825
PMCID: PMC3307720  PMID: 22442670
19.  Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Use Is Associated with Right Ventricular Structure and Function: The MESA-Right Ventricle Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30480.
Purpose
Serotonin and the serotonin transporter have been implicated in the development of pulmonary hypertension (PH). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may have a role in PH treatment, but the effects of SSRI use on right ventricular (RV) structure and function are unknown. We hypothesized that SSRI use would be associated with RV morphology in a large cohort without cardiovascular disease (N = 4114).
Methods
SSRI use was determined by medication inventory during the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis baseline examination. RV measures were assessed via cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. The cross-sectional relationship between SSRI use and each RV measure was assessed using multivariable linear regression; analyses for RV mass and end-diastolic volume (RVEDV) were stratified by sex.
Results
After adjustment for multiple covariates including depression and left ventricular measures, SSRI use was associated with larger RV stroke volume (RVSV) (2.75 mL, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.48–5.02 mL, p = 0.02). Among men only, SSRI use was associated with greater RV mass (1.08 g, 95% CI 0.19–1.97 g, p = 0.02) and larger RVEDV (7.71 mL, 95% 3.02–12.40 mL, p = 0.001). SSRI use may have been associated with larger RVEDV among women and larger RV end-systolic volume in both sexes.
Conclusions
SSRI use was associated with higher RVSV in cardiovascular disease-free individuals and, among men, greater RV mass and larger RVEDV. The effects of SSRI use in patients with (or at risk for) RV dysfunction and the role of sex in modifying this relationship warrant further study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030480
PMCID: PMC3281845  PMID: 22363441
20.  Metabolomics Reveals Reduction of Metabolic Oxidation in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome after Pioglitazone-Flutamide-Metformin Polytherapy 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29052.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a variable disorder characterized by a broad spectrum of anomalies, including hyperandrogenemia, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, body adiposity, low-grade inflammation and increased cardiovascular disease risks. Recently, a new polytherapy consisting of low-dose flutamide, metformin and pioglitazone in combination with an estro-progestagen resulted in the regulation of endocrine clinical markers in young and non-obese PCOS women. However, the metabolic processes involved in this phenotypic amelioration remain unidentified. In this work, we used NMR and MS-based untargeted metabolomics to study serum samples of young non-obese PCOS women prior to and at the end of a 30 months polytherapy receiving low-dose flutamide, metformin and pioglitazone in combination with an estro-progestagen. Our results reveal that the treatment decreased the levels of oxidized LDL particles in serum, as well as downstream metabolic oxidation products of LDL particles such as 9- and 13-HODE, azelaic acid and glutaric acid. In contrast, the radiuses of small dense LDL and large HDL particles were substantially increased after the treatment. Clinical and endocrine-metabolic markers were also monitored, showing that the level of HDL cholesterol was increased after the treatment, whereas the level of androgens and the carotid intima-media thickness were reduced. Significantly, the abundance of azelaic acid and the carotid intima-media thickness resulted in a high degree of correlation. Altogether, our results reveal that this new polytherapy markedly reverts the oxidant status of untreated PCOS women, and potentially improves the pro-atherosclerosis condition in these patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029052
PMCID: PMC3241700  PMID: 22194988
21.  Particulate Matter Exposure Exacerbates High Glucose-Induced Cardiomyocyte Dysfunction through ROS Generation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23116.
Diabetes mellitus and fine particulate matter from diesel exhaust (DEP) are both important contributors to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Diabetes mellitus is a progressive disease with a high mortality rate in patients suffering from CVD, resulting in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Elevated DEP levels in the air are attributed to the development of various CVDs, presumably since fine DEP (<2.5 µm in diameter) can be inhaled and gain access to the circulatory system. However, mechanisms defining how DEP affects diabetic or control cardiomyocyte function remain poorly understood. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate cardiomyocyte function and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in isolated rat ventricular myocytes exposed overnight to fine DEP (0.1 µg/ml), and/or high glucose (HG, 25.5 mM). Our hypothesis was that DEP exposure exacerbates contractile dysfunction via ROS generation in cardiomyocytes exposed to HG. Ventricular myocytes were isolated from male adult Sprague-Dawley rats cultured overnight and sarcomeric contractile properties were evaluated, including: peak shortening normalized to baseline (PS), time-to-90% shortening (TPS90), time-to-90% relengthening (TR90) and maximal velocities of shortening/relengthening (±dL/dt), using an IonOptix field-stimulator system. ROS generation was determined using hydroethidine/ethidium confocal microscopy. We found that DEP exposure significantly increased TR90, decreased PS and ±dL/dt, and enhanced intracellular ROS generation in myocytes exposed to HG. Further studies indicated that co-culture with antioxidants (0.25 mM Tiron and 0.5 mM N-Acetyl-L-cysteine) completely restored contractile function in DEP, HG and HG+DEP-treated myocytes. ROS generation was blocked in HG-treated cells with mitochondrial inhibition, while ROS generation was blocked in DEP-treated cells with NADPH oxidase inhibition. Our results suggest that DEP exacerbates myocardial dysfunction in isolated cardiomyocytes exposed to HG-containing media, which is potentially mediated by various ROS generation pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023116
PMCID: PMC3151271  PMID: 21850256

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