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1.  Djenkolism: case report and literature review 
Djenkolism is an uncommon but important cause of acute kidney injury. It sporadically occurs after an ingestion of the djenkol bean (Archidendron pauciflorum), which is native to Southeast Asia. The clinical features defining djenkolism include: spasmodic suprapubic and/or flank pain; urinary obstruction; and acute kidney injury. The precise pathogenesis of acute kidney injury following djenkol ingestion remains unknown. However, it is proposed that an interaction between the characteristics of the ingested beans and the host factors causes hypersaturation of djenkolic acid crystals within the urinary system, resulting in subsequent obstructive nephropathy with sludge, stones, or possible spasms. We report a case of djenkolism from our rural clinic in Borneo, Indonesia. Our systematic literature review identified 96 reported cases of djenkolism. The majority of patients recovered with hydration, bicarbonate therapy, and pain medication. Three patients required surgical intervention; one patient required ureteral stenting for the obstructing djenkolic acid stones. Four of the 96 reported patients died from acute kidney failure. We stress the importance of awareness of djenkolism to guide medical practitioners in the treatment of this rare disease in resource-poor areas in Southeast Asia.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC3998865  PMID: 24790471
djenkolism; acute renal failure; acute kidney injury; tropical medicine
2.  The Development of a Murine Model for Forcipomyia taiwana (Biting Midge) Allergy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91871.
Forcipomyia taiwana (biting midge) allergy is the most prevalent biting insect allergy in Taiwan. An animal model corresponding to the human immuno-pathologic features of midge allergy is needed for investigating the mechanisms and therapies. This study successfully developed a murine model of Forcipomyia taiwana allergy.
BALB/c mice were sensitized intra-peritoneally with midge extract on days 0, 7, 14, 21 then intra-dermally on days 28, 31 and 35. Serum midge-specific IgE, IgG1, and IgG2a were measured every 14 days by indirect ELISA. The mice were challenged intradermally with midge extract at day 40 and then sacrificed. Proliferation and cytokine production of splenocytes after stimulation with midge extract were determined by MTT assay and ELISA, respectively. The cytokine mRNA expression in response to midge stimulation was analyzed by RT-PCR.
Serum IgE, total IgG, and IgG1 antibody levels against midge extract were significantly higher in the midge-sensitized mice than in the control mice. After the two-step sensitization, all mice in the midge-sensitized group displayed immediate itch and plasma extravasation reactions in response to challenge with midge extract. Skin histology from midge-sensitized mice showed marked eosinophil and lymphocyte infiltrations similar to that observed in humans. Stimulation of murine splenocytes with midge extract elicited significant proliferation, IL-4, IL-10, IL-13 and IFN-γ protein production, and up-regulation of mRNA in a dose-dependent manner in the midge-sensitized group, but not in the control group.
A murine model of midge bite allergy has been successfully developed using a two-step sensitization protocol. The sensitized mice have very similar clinical and immunologic reactions to challenge with midge proteins as the reactions of human to midge bites. This murine model may be a useful platform for future research and the development of treatment strategies for insect bite allergy.
PMCID: PMC3961268  PMID: 24651257
3.  Reversible Palinacousis From Intracranial Metastases 
The Neurohospitalist  2014;4(1):22-25.
Palinacousis is an auditory illusion consisting of perseveration or echoing of an external auditory stimulus after it has ceased. This rare clinical symptom has been reported in ictal (seizure), postictal, and nonictal states, and causative lesions have been most consistently found in or near the temporal lobes. It is distinct from the auditory hallucinations seen in psychiatric illness. We report the case of a 61-year-old man who experienced several days of palinacousis while undergoing treatment for newly diagnosed metastatic lung adenocarcinoma. Palinacousis was presumed to be triggered by intracranial metastases near the auditory cortex. An electroencephalogram showed bilateral theta slowing over the left greater than right temporal lobes without epileptiform activity. Palinacousis remitted with corticosteroid and whole brain radiation therapy.
PMCID: PMC3869305  PMID: 24381707
neuroanatomy; techniques; brain neoplasms; nervous system neoplasms; neuroradiology; clinical specialty; neurooncology; clinical specialty
4.  Staphylococcus Intermedius Infections: Case Report and Literature Review 
Staphylococcus intermedius is part of the normal skin and oral flora of dogs. Case reports of human infections are rare, but the true incidence is unknown because the pathogen is frequently misidentified as Staphylococcus aureus. Reported cases range from soft tissue infections to brain abscess. Most reported cases in humans have been related to dog exposure. We report a case of a 73 year old female with S. intermedius surgical wound infection one month following a left elbow total arthroplasty. This is the first reported human case of S. intermedius infection of a mechanical prosthesis. The presumed source of infection was the patient’s dog. The patient was treated with vancomycin, then switched to cefazolin and rifampin once susceptibilities were known. Case reports suggest that patients generally respond well to tailored antibiotics with complete or near-complete recovery. S. intermedius should be included in the differential diagnosis of invasive infection amongst patients with close contact with dogs.
PMCID: PMC3892614  PMID: 24470954
Staphylococcus intermedius; pseudintermedius; infection; human
5.  Increased Nasopharyngeal Bacterial Titers and Local Inflammation Facilitate Transmission of Streptococcus pneumoniae 
mBio  2012;3(5):e00255-12.
The transmission of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) marks the first step toward disease development. To date, our ability to prevent pneumococcal transmission has been limited by our lack of understanding regarding the factors which influence the spread of this pathogen. We have previously developed an infant mouse model of pneumococcal transmission which was strictly dependent on influenza A virus (IAV) coinfection of both the experimentally colonized “index mice” and the naive cohoused “contact mice.” Here, we sought to use this model to further elucidate the factors which facilitate S. pneumoniae transmission. In the present report, we demonstrate that increasing the nasopharyngeal load of S. pneumoniae in the colonized index mice (via the depletion of neutrophils) and inducing a proinflammatory response in the naive cohoused contact mice (as demonstrated by cytokine production) facilitates S. pneumoniae transmission. Thus, these data provide the first insights into the factors that help mediate the spread of S. pneumoniae throughout the community.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is a major cause of worldwide morbidity and mortality and is a leading cause of death among children under the age of five years. Transmission of S. pneumoniae marks the first step toward disease development. Therefore, understanding the factors that influence the spread of pneumococci throughout the community plays an essential role in preventing pneumococcal disease. We previously developed the first reproducible infant mouse model for pneumococcal transmission and showed that coinfection with influenza virus facilitates the spread of S. pneumoniae. Here, we show that increasing the bacterial load in the nasal cavity of colonized individuals as well as inducing an inflammatory response in naive “contact cases” facilitates the spread of pneumococci. Therefore, this study helps to identify the factors which must be inhibited in order to successfully prevent pneumococcal disease.
PMCID: PMC3518912  PMID: 23015738
6.  Long-Lasting Hippocampal Synaptic Protein Loss in a Mouse Model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42603.
Despite intensive research efforts, the molecular pathogenesis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and especially of the hippocampal volume loss found in the majority of patients suffering from this anxiety disease still remains elusive. We demonstrated before that trauma-induced hippocampal shrinkage can also be observed in mice exhibiting a PTSD-like syndrome. Aiming to decipher the molecular correlates of these trans-species posttraumatic hippocampal alterations, we compared the expression levels of a set of neurostructural marker proteins between traumatized and control mice at different time points after their subjection to either an electric footshock or mock treatment which was followed by stressful re-exposure in several experimental groups. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic in vivo study analyzing the long-term neuromolecular sequelae of acute traumatic stress combined with re-exposure. We show here that a PTSD-like syndrome in mice is accompanied by a long-lasting reduction of hippocampal synaptic proteins which interestingly correlates with the strength of the generalized and conditioned fear response but not with the intensity of hyperarousal symptoms. Furthermore, we demonstrate that treatment with the serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine is able to counteract both the PTSD-like syndrome and the posttraumatic synaptic protein loss. Taken together, this study demonstrates for the first time that a loss of hippocampal synaptic proteins is associated with a PTSD-like syndrome in mice. Further studies will have to reveal whether these findings are transferable to PTSD patients.
PMCID: PMC3416820  PMID: 22900032
7.  The Chromosome 9p21.3 Coronary Heart Disease Risk Allele Is Associated with Altered Gene Expression in Normal Heart and Vascular Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39574.
Genome-wide association studies have identified a coronary artery disease (CAD) risk locus in a non-coding region at 9p21.3, the nearest genes being CDKN2A and CDKN2B. To understand the pathways by which this locus might influence CAD susceptibility, we investigated associations between the 9p21.3 risk genotype and global gene expression in heart tissue from donors with no diagnosed heart disease (n = 108, predominant cause of death, cerebral vascular accident) and in carotid plaque (n = 106), aorta (n = 104) and mammary artery (n = 88) tissues from heart valve and carotid endarterectomy patients. Genotyping was performed with Taqman assays and Illumina arrays, and gene expression profiles generated with Affymetrix microarrays. Associations were analyzed with an additive genetic model. In heart tissue, 46 genes were putatively altered in association with the 9p21.3 risk allele (70% down-regulated, fold-change >1.1 per allele, p<0.05 adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, cause of death). These genes were enriched for biomarkers of myocardial infarction (p = 1.53×10−9), response to wounding (p = 2.65×10−10) and inflammatory processes (p<1.97×10−7). Among the top 10 most down-regulated genes, 7 genes shared a set of transcription factor binding sites within conserved promoter regions (p<1.14×10−5), suggesting they may be co-regulated. Canonical pathway modelling of the most differentially expressed transcripts across all tissues (154 genes, 60% down-regulated, fold-change >1.1 per allele, p<0.01) showed that 75% of the genes could be transcriptionally regulated through the cell cycle G1 phase progression pathway (p<1.08×10−258), in which CDKN2A and CDKN2B play a regulatory role. These data suggest that the cell cycle G1 phase progression pathway is activated in individuals with the 9p21.3 risk allele. This may contribute to a proliferative phenotype that promotes adverse cardiac hypertrophy and vascular remodeling, leading to an increased CAD risk.
PMCID: PMC3387158  PMID: 22768093
8.  The CCR2/CCL2 Interaction Mediates the Transendothelial Recruitment of Intravascularly Delivered Neural Stem Cells to the Ischemic Brain 
Background and Purpose
The inflammatory response is a critical component of ischemic stroke. In addition to its physiological role, the mechanisms behind transendothelial recruitment of immune cells also offer a unique therapeutic opportunity for translational stem cell therapies. Recent reports have demonstrated homing of neural stem cells (NSC) into the injured brain areas after intravascular delivery. However, the mechanisms underlying the process of transendothelial recruitment remain largely unknown. Here we describe the critical role of the chemokine CCL2 and its receptor CCR2 in targeted homing of NSC after ischemia.
Twenty-four hours after induction of stroke using the hypoxia-ischemia model in mice CCR2+/+ and CCR2−/− reporter NSC were intra-arterially delivered. Histology and bioluminescence imaging were used to investigate NSC homing to the ischemic brain. Functional outcome was assessed with the horizontal ladder test.
Using NSC isolated from CCR2+/+ and CCR2−/− mice, we show that receptor deficiency significantly impaired transendothelial diapedesis specifically in response to CCL2. Accordingly, wild-type NSC injected into CCL2−/− mice exhibited significantly decreased homing. Bioluminescence imaging showed robust recruitment of CCR2+/+ cells within 6 hours after transplantation in contrast to CCR2−/− cells. Mice receiving CCR2+/+ grafts after ischemic injury showed a significantly improved recovery of neurological deficits as compared to animals with transplantation of CCR2−/− NSC.
The CCL2/CCR2 interaction is critical for transendothelial recruitment of intravascularly delivered NSC in response to ischemic injury. This finding could have significant implications in advancing minimally invasive intravascular therapeutics for regenerative medicine or cell-based drug delivery systems for central nervous system diseases.
PMCID: PMC3371396  PMID: 21836091
chemokines; intravascular transplantation; neural stem cells; regenerative medicine; stroke; transendothelial recruitment
9.  Intra-arterial injection of neural stem cells using a microneedle technique does not cause microembolic strokes 
Intra-arterial (IA) injection represents an experimental avenue for minimally invasive delivery of stem cells to the injured brain. It has however been reported that IA injection of stem cells carries the risk of reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF) and microstrokes. Here we evaluate the safety of IA neural progenitor cell (NPC) delivery to the brain. Cerebral blood flow of rats was monitored during IA injection of single cell suspensions of NPCs after stroke. Animals received 1 × 106 NPCs either injected via a microneedle (microneedle group) into the patent common carotid artery (CCA) or via a catheter into the proximally ligated CCA (catheter group). Controls included saline-only injections and cell injections into non-stroked sham animals. Cerebral blood flow in the microneedle group remained at baseline, whereas in the catheter group a persistent (15 minutes) decrease to 78% of baseline occurred (P<0.001). In non-stroked controls, NPCs injected via the catheter method resulted in higher levels of Iba-1-positive inflammatory cells (P=0.003), higher numbers of degenerating neurons as seen in Fluoro-Jade C staining (P<0.0001) and ischemic changes on diffusion weighted imaging. With an appropriate technique, reduction in CBF and microstrokes do not occur with IA transplantation of NPCs.
PMCID: PMC3099630  PMID: 21157474
intra-arterial; microstrokes; stem cells; stroke
10.  Aversive Effects of Ethanol in Adolescent vs. Adult Rats: potential causes and implication for future drinking 
Many people experiment with alcohol and other drugs of abuse during their teenage years. Epidemiological evidence suggests that younger initiates into drug taking are more likely to develop problematic drug seeking behavior, including binge and other high-intake behaviors. The level of drug intake for any individual depends on the balance of rewarding and aversive effects of the drug in that individual. Multiple rodent studies have demonstrated that aversive effects of drugs of abuse are reduced in adolescent compared to adult animals. In the present study we addressed two key questions: First, do reduced aversive effects of ethanol in younger rats correlate with increased ethanol consumption? Second, are the reduced aversive effects in adolescents attributable to reduced sensitivity to ethanol's physiological effects?
Adolescent and adult rats were tested for ethanol conditioned taste aversion followed by a voluntary drinking period, including post-deprivation consumption. Multivariate regression was used to assess correlations. In separate experiments, adolescent and adult rats were tested for their sensitivity to the hypothermic and sedative effects of ethanol, and for blood ethanol concentrations (BECs).
We observed that in adolescent rats but not adults, taste aversion was inversely correlated with post-deprivation consumption. Adolescents also exhibited a greater increase in consumption after deprivation than adults. Furthermore, the age difference in ethanol conditioned taste aversion was not attributable to differences in hypothermia, sedation, or BECs.
These results suggest that during adolescence, individuals that are insensitive to aversive effects are most likely to develop problem drinking behaviors. These results underscore the importance of the interaction between developmental stage and individual variation in sensitivity to alcohol.
PMCID: PMC2988872  PMID: 20860614
11.  Measuring Bacterial Load and Immune Responses in Mice Infected with Listeria monocytogenes 
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a Gram-positive facultative intracellular pathogen1. Mouse studies typically employ intravenous injection of Listeria, which results in systemic infection2. After injection, Listeria quickly disseminates to the spleen and liver due to uptake by CD8α+ dendritic cells and Kupffer cells3,4. Once phagocytosed, various bacterial proteins enable Listeria to escape the phagosome, survive within the cytosol, and infect neighboring cells5. During the first three days of infection, different innate immune cells (e.g. monocytes, neutrophils, NK cells, dendritic cells) mediate bactericidal mechanisms that minimize Listeria proliferation. CD8+ T cells are subsequently recruited and responsible for the eventual clearance of Listeria from the host, typically within 10 days of infection6.
Successful clearance of Listeria from infected mice depends on the appropriate onset of host immune responses6 . There is a broad range of sensitivities amongst inbred mouse strains7,8. Generally, mice with increased susceptibility to Listeria infection are less able to control bacterial proliferation, demonstrating increased bacterial load and/or delayed clearance compared to resistant mice. Genetic studies, including linkage analyses and knockout mouse strains, have identified various genes for which sequence variation affects host responses to Listeria infection6,8-14. Determination and comparison of infection kinetics between different mouse strains is therefore an important method for identifying host genetic factors that contribute to immune responses against Listeria. Comparison of host responses to different Listeria strains is also an effective way to identify bacterial virulence factors that may serve as potential targets for antibiotic therapy or vaccine design.
We describe here a straightforward method for measuring bacterial load (colony forming units [CFU] per tissue) and preparing single-cell suspensions of the liver and spleen for FACS analysis of immune responses in Listeria-infected mice. This method is particularly useful for initial characterization of Listeria infection in novel mouse strains, as well as comparison of immune responses between different mouse strains infected with Listeria. We use the Listeria monocytogenes EGD strain15 that, when cultured on blood agar, exhibits a characteristic halo zone around each colony due to β-hemolysis1 (Figure 1). Bacterial load and immune responses can be determined at any time-point after infection by culturing tissue homogenate on blood agar plates and preparing tissue cell suspensions for FACS analysis using the protocols described below. We would note that individuals who are immunocompromised or pregnant should not handle Listeria, and the relevant institutional biosafety committee and animal facility management should be consulted before work commences.
PMCID: PMC3211132  PMID: 21860372
Circulation research  2007;102(4):415-422.
Our previous studies and those of others indicated that the transcription factor Hexamethylene-bis-acetamide-inducible protein 1 (HEXIM1) is a tumor suppressor and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, and that these HEXIM1 functions are mainly dependent on its C-terminal region. We provide evidence here that the HEXIM1 C-terminal region is critical for cardiovascular development. HEXIM1 protein was detected in the heart during critical time periods in cardiac growth and chamber maturation. We created mice carrying an insertional mutation in the HEXIM1 gene that disrupted its C-terminal region and found that this resulted in prenatal lethality. Heart defects in HEXIM11-312 mice included abnormal coronary patterning and thin ventricular walls. The thin myocardium can be partly attributed to increased apoptosis. Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecular Precursor-1 staining of HEXIM11-312 heart sections revealed decreased vascularization of the myocardium despite the presence of coronary vasculature in the epicardium. The expression of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), known to affect angioblast invasion and myocardial proliferation and survival, was decreased in HEXIM11-312 mice compared to control littermates. We also observed decreased Fibroblast Growth Factor 9 (FGF9) expression, suggesting that effects of HEXIM1 in the myocardium are partly mediated through epicardial FGF9 signaling. Together our results suggest that HEXIM1 plays critical roles in coronary vessel development and myocardial growth. The basis for this role of HEXIM1 is that VEGF is a direct transcriptional target of HEXIM1, and involves attenuation a repressive effects of C/EBPα on VEGF gene transcription.
PMCID: PMC2905161  PMID: 18079413
HEXIM1; heart; vascular; development
14.  Identification of a Novel Extracellular Cation-sensing G-protein-coupled Receptor* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2005;280(48):40201-40209.
The C family G-protein-coupled receptors contain members that sense amino acid and extracellular cations, of which calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) is the prototypic extracellular calcium-sensing receptor. Some cells, such as osteoblasts in bone, retain responsiveness to extracellular calcium in CASR-deficient mice, consistent with the existence of another calcium-sensing receptor. We examined the calcium-sensing properties of GPRC6A, a newly identified member of this family. Alignment of GPRC6A with CASR revealed conservation of both calcium and calcimimetic binding sites. In addition, calcium, magnesium, strontium, aluminum, gadolinium, and the calcimimetic NPS 568 resulted in a dose-dependent stimulation of GPRC6A overexpressed in human embryonic kidney cells 293 cells. Also, osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein highly expressed in bone, dose-dependently stimulated GPRC6A activity in the presence of calcium but inhibited the calcium-dependent activation of CASR. Coexpression of β-arrestins 1 and 2, regulators of G-protein signaling RGS2 or RGS4, the RhoA inhibitor C3 toxin, the dominant negative Gαq-(305–359) minigene, and pretreatment with pertussis toxin inhibited activation of GPRC6A by extracellular cations. Reverse transcription-PCR analyses showed that mouse GPRC6A is widely expressed in mouse tissues, including bone, calvaria, and the osteoblastic cell line MC3T3-E1. These data suggest that in addition to sensing amino acids, GPRC6A is a cation-, calcimimetic-, and osteocalcin-sensing receptor and a candidate for mediating extracellular calcium-sensing responses in osteoblasts and possibly other tissues.
PMCID: PMC1435382  PMID: 16199532
15.  SDF-2 Induction of Terminal Differentiation in Dictyostelium discoideum Is Mediated by the Membrane-Spanning Sensor Kinase DhkA 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(7):4750-4756.
SDF-2 is a peptide released by prestalk cells during culmination that stimulates prespore cells to encapsulate. Genetic evidence indicates that the response is dependent on the dhkA gene. This gene encodes a member of the histidine kinase family of genes that functions in two-component signal transduction pathways. The sequence of the N-terminal half of DhkA predicts two hydrophobic domains separated by a 310-amino-acid loop that could bind a ligand. By inserting MYC6 epitopes into DhkA, we were able to show that the loop is extracellular while the catalytic domain is cytoplasmic. Cells expressing the MYC epitope in the extracellular domain of DhkA were found to respond only if induced with 100-fold-higher levels of SDF-2 than required to induce dhkA+ cells; however, they could be induced to sporulate by addition of antibodies specific to the MYC epitope. To examine the enzymatic activity of DhkA, we purified the catalytic domain following expression in bacteria and observed incorporation of labelled phosphate from ATP consistent with histidine autophosphorylation. Site-directed mutagenesis of histidine1395 to glutamine in the catalytic domain blocked autophosphorylation. Furthermore, genetic analyses showed that histidine1395 and the relay aspartate2075 of DhkA are both critical to its function but that another histidine kinase, DhkB, can partially compensate for the lack of DhkA activity. Sporulation is drastically reduced in double mutants lacking both DhkA and DhkB. Suppressor studies indicate that the cyclic AMP (cAMP) phosphodiesterase RegA and the cAMP-dependent protein kinase PKA act downstream of DhkA.
PMCID: PMC84273  PMID: 10373524
Journal of Bacteriology  1964;88(6):1629-1635.
Shaw, Paul D. (University of Illinois, Urbana), and Nancy Wang. Biosynthesis of nitro compounds. I. Nitrogen and carbon requirements for the biosynthesis of β-nitropropionic acid by Penicillium atrovenetum. J. Bacteriol. 88:1629–1635. 1964.—β-Nitropropionic acid was produced by Penicillium atrovenetum when this fungus was grown on a Raulin-Thom medium in shake flasks. The nitro compound was formed in the early stages of growth, and the total amount in the medium decreased when the fungus reached the end of the log phase. When increasing amounts of nitrate were substituted for the ammonia in the growth medium, production of β-nitropropionic acid decreased. Aspartic acid did not promote the synthesis of the nitro compound unless either ammonium chloride or sodium tartrate was also added to the medium. The addition of small amounts of hydroxylamine or sodium nitrite to the Raulin-Thom medium stimulated β-nitropropionic acid production to a greater degree on a molar basis than the amount of hydroxylamine or nitrite added. The nature of possible precursors to the nitro group of β-nitropropionic acid is discussed.
PMCID: PMC277465  PMID: 14240949

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