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1.  An Automated Algorithm to Identify and Quantify Brown Adipose Tissue in Human 18F-FDG-PET/CT Scans 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2013;21(8):1554-1560.
To develop an algorithm to identify and quantify BAT from PET/CT scans without radiologist interpretation.
Design and Methods
Cases (n = 17) were randomly selected from PET/CT scans with documented “brown fat” by the reviewing radiologist. Controls (n = 18) had no documented “brown fat” and were matched with cases for age (49.7 [31.0-63.0] vs. 52.4 [24.0-70.0] yrs), outdoor temperature at scan date (51.8 [38.9-77.0] vs. 54.9 [35.2-74.6] °F), sex (F/M: 15/2 cases; 16/2 controls) and BMI (28.2 [20.0-45.7] vs. 26.8 [21.4-37.1] kg/m2]). PET/CT scans and algorithm-generated images were read by the same radiologist blinded to scan identity. Regions examined included neck, mediastinum, supraclavicular fossae, axilla and paraspinal soft tissues. BAT was scored 0 for no BAT; 1 for faint uptake possibly compatible with BAT or unknown; and 2 for BAT positive.
Agreement between the algorithm and PET/CT scan readings was 85.7% across all regions. The algorithm had a low false negative (1.6%) and higher false positive rate (12.7%). The false positive rate was greater in mediastinum, axilla and neck regions.
The algorithm's low false negative rate combined with further refinement will yield a useful tool for efficient BAT identification in a rapidly growing field particularly as it applies to obesity.
PMCID: PMC3910095  PMID: 23408435
2.  The immune modifying effects of amino acids on gut-associated lymphoid tissue 
The intestine and the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) are essential components of whole body immune defense, protecting the body from foreign antigens and pathogens, while allowing tolerance to commensal bacteria and dietary antigens. The requirement for protein to support the immune system is well established. Less is known regarding the immune modifying properties of individual amino acids, particularly on the GALT. Both oral and parenteral feeding studies have established convincing evidence that not only the total protein intake, but the availability of specific dietary amino acids (in particular glutamine, glutamate, and arginine, and perhaps methionine, cysteine and threonine) are essential to optimizing the immune functions of the intestine and the proximal resident immune cells. These amino acids each have unique properties that include, maintaining the integrity, growth and function of the intestine, as well as normalizing inflammatory cytokine secretion and improving T-lymphocyte numbers, specific T cell functions, and the secretion of IgA by lamina propria cells. Our understanding of this area has come from studies that have supplemented single amino acids to a mixed protein diet and measuring the effect on specific immune parameters. Future studies should be designed using amino acid mixtures that target a number of specific functions of GALT in order to optimize immune function in domestic animals and humans during critical periods of development and various disease states.
PMCID: PMC3750756  PMID: 23899038
Amino acids; Arginine; Epithelium; Glutamate; Glutamine; Gut-associated lymphoid tissue; Intestine; Mucosa
3.  Increased hypolipidemic benefits of cis-9, trans-11 conjugated linoleic acid in combination with trans-11 vaccenic acid in a rodent model of the metabolic syndrome, the JCR:LA-cp rat 
Conjugated linoleic acid (cis-9, trans-11 CLA) and trans-11 vaccenic acid (VA) are found naturally in ruminant-derived foods. CLA has been shown to have numerous potential health related effects and has been extensively investigated. More recently, we have shown that VA has lipid-lowering properties associated with reduced hepatic lipidogenesis and chylomicron secretion in the JCR:LA-cp rat. The aim of this study was to evaluate potential additional hypolipidemic effects of purified forms of CLA and VA in an animal model of the metabolic syndrome (the JCR:LA-cp rat).
Twenty four obese JCR:LA-cp rats were randomized and assigned to one of three nutritionally adequate iso-caloric diets containing 1% w/w cholesterol and 15% w/w fat for 16 wk: 1) control diet (CD), 2) 1.0% w/w cis-9, trans-11 CLA (CLA), 3) 1.0% w/w VA and 1% w/w cis-9, trans-11 CLA (VA+CLA). Lean rats were fed the CD to represent normolipidemic conditions.
Fasting plasma triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations were reduced in obese rats fed either the CLA diet or the VA+CLA diet as compared to the obese control group (p < 0.05, p < 0.001; p < 0.001, p < 0.01; p < 0.01, p < 0.001, respectively). The VA+CLA diet reduced plasma TG and LDL-cholesterol to the level of the normolipidemic lean rats and further decreased nonesterified fatty acids compared to the CLA diet alone. Interestingly, rats fed the VA+CLA diet had a higher food intake but lower body weight than the CLA fed group (P < 0.05). Liver weight and TG content were lower in rats fed either CLA (p < 0.05) or VA+CLA diets (p < 0.001) compared to obese control, consistent with a decreased relative protein abundance of hepatic acetyl-CoA carboxylase in both treatment groups (P < 0.01). The activity of citrate synthase was increased in liver and adipose tissue of rats fed, CLA and VA+CLA diets (p < 0.001) compared to obese control, suggesting increased mitochondrial fatty acid oxidative capacity.
We demonstrate that the hypolipidemic effects of chronic cis-9, trans-11 CLA supplementation on circulating dyslipidemia and hepatic steatosis are enhanced by the addition of VA in the JCR:LA-cp rat.
PMCID: PMC3161353  PMID: 20633302
4.  Vaccenic and Elaidic Acid Modify Plasma and Splenocyte Membrane Phospholipids and Mitogen-Stimulated Cytokine Production in Obese Insulin Resistant JCR: LA-cp Rats  
Nutrients  2010;2(2):181-197.
This study assessed the long-term effects of dietary vaccenic acid (VA) and elaidic acid (EA) on plasma and splenocyte phospholipid (PL) composition and related changes in inflammation and splenocyte phenotypes and cytokine responses in obese/insulin resistant JCR:LA-cp rats. Relative to lean control (Ctl), obese Ctl rats had higher serum haptoglobin and impaired T-cell-stimulated cytokine responses. VA and EA diets improved T-cell-stimulated cytokine production; but, only VA normalized serum haptoglobin. However, EA- and VA-fed rats had enhanced LPS-stimulated cytokine responses. The changes elicited by VA were likely due changes in essential fatty acid composition in PL; whereas EA-induced changes may due to direct incorporation into membrane PL.
PMCID: PMC3257632  PMID: 22254015
vaccenic acid; elaidic acid; phospholipid; obese; immune; inflammation; cytokines; trans fat
5.  The influence of pericardial fat upon left ventricular function in obese females: evidence of a site-specific effect 
Although increased volume of pericardial fat has been associated with decreased cardiac function, it is unclear whether this association is mediated by systemic overall obesity or direct regional fat interactions. We hypothesized that if local effects dominate, left ventricular (LV) function would be most strongly associated with pericardial fat that surrounds the left rather than the right ventricle (RV).
Female obese subjects (n = 60) had cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) scans to obtain measures of LV function and pericardial fat volumes. LV function was obtained using the cine steady state free precession imaging in short axis orientation. The amount of pericardial fat was determined volumetrically by the cardiac gated T1 black blood imaging and normalized to body surface area.
In this study cohort, LV fat correlated with several LV hemodynamic measurements including cardiac output (r = -0.41, p = 0.001) and stroke volume (r = -0.26, p = 0.05), as well as diastolic functional parameters including peak-early-filling rate (r = -0.38, p = 0.01), early late filling ratio (r = -0.34, p = 0.03), and time to peak-early-filling (r = 0.34, p = 0.03). These correlations remained significant even after adjusting for the body mass index and the blood pressure. However, similar correlations became weakened or even disappeared between RV fat and LV function. LV function was not correlated with systemic plasma factors, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), Interleukin-6 (IL-6), resistin and adiponectin (all p > 0.05).
LV hemodynamic and diastolic function was associated more with LV fat as compared to RV or total pericardial fat, but not with systemic inflammatory markers or adipokines. The correlations between LV function and pericardial fat remained significant even after adjusting for systemic factors. These findings suggest a site-specific influence of pericardial fat on LV function, which could imply local secretion of molecules into the underlying tissue or an anatomic effect, both mechanisms meriting future evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4046092  PMID: 24884541
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Obesity; Pericardial fat

Results 1-5 (5)