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1.  Sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release channel ryanodine receptor (RyR2) plays a crucial role in aconitine-induced arrhythmias 
Biochemical pharmacology  2008;75(11):2147-2156.
The present study established a model of RyR2 knockdown cardiomyocytes and elucidated the role of RyR2 in aconitine-induced arrhythmia. Cardiomyocytes were obtained from hearts of neonatal Sprague–Dawlay rats. siRNAs were used to down-regulate RyR2 expression. Reduction of RyR2 expression was documented by RT-PCR, western blot, and immunofluorescence. Ca2+ signals were investigated by measuring the relative intracellular Ca2+ concentration, spontaneous Ca2+ oscillations, caffeine-induced Ca2+ release, and L-type Ca2+ currents. In normal cardiomyocytes, steady and periodic spontaneous Ca2+ oscillations were observed, and the baseline [Ca2+]i remained at the low level. Exposure to 3 μM aconitine increased the frequency and decreased the amplitude of Ca2+ oscillations; the baseline [Ca2+]i and the level of caffeine-induced Ca2+ release were increased but the L-type Ca2+ currents were inhibited after application of 3 μM aconitine for 5 min. In RyR2 knockdown cardiomyocytes, the steady and periodic spontaneous Ca2+ oscillations almost disappeared, but were re-induced by aconitine without affecting the baseline [Ca2+]i level; the level of caffeine-induced Ca2+ release was increased but L-type Ca2+ currents were inhibited. Alterations of RyR2 are important consequences of aconitine-stimulation and activation of RyR2 appear to have a direct relationship with aconitine-induced arrhythmias. The present study demonstrates a potential method for preventing aconitine-induced arrhythmias by inhibiting Ca2+ leakage through the sarcoplasmic reticulum RyR2 channel.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2008.02.027
PMCID: PMC4280015  PMID: 18439986
RyR2; Knockdown; Aconitine; Arrhythmia; Excitation–contraction coupling
2.  HIV Prevalence and Associated Factors among Foreign Brides from Burma in Yunnan Province, China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115599.
Background
Many Burmese women have migrated to Yunnan Province and married local residents over the past few decades; however, limited information is available on their HIV prevalence and ability to cope with HIV. This study aims to assess the prevalence of HIV and knowledge related to AIDS, as well as to discover possible risk factors of HIV infection among foreign brides from Burma in Yunnan Province.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was taken of all Burmese cross-border wives residing in Tengchong County using standardized questionnaires. HIV and syphilis testing was conducted at the same time.
Results
Among 600 Burmese brides, the HIV prevalence was 2.17%. Those aged 21–30, those with higher education levels and those who had resided in China less than one year had higher infection rates. The AIDS awareness rate of 39.50% was very low in this population. Only 28.67% of participants had ever been involved in prevention services. The rate of condom use was low. Classification by age, education, occupation, prior HIV testing and prior use of HIV prevention services showed a statistically significant association with mean knowledge score (p<0.05). Residing in China less than one year (OR = 3.86, 95% CI = 1.09–13.70) and having casual sex in the last year (OR = 10.49, 95% CI = 1.20–91.59) were risk factors for HIV infection.
Conclusions
Burmese brides in China are not only exposed to a high risk of HIV infection, but also seriously lack response capabilities. Educational interventions and control efforts are practical approaches that need to be strengthened among this population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115599
PMCID: PMC4275213  PMID: 25536087
3.  Efficacy and prognostic analysis of chemoradiotherapy in patients with thoracic esophageal squamous carcinoma with cervical lymph nodal metastasis alone 
Background
The prognostic factors of thoracic esophageal squamous carcinoma with cervical lymph nodal metastasis (CLNM) have not been specifically investigated. This study was performed to analyze the efficacy and prognostic factors of chemoradiotherapy for thoracic esophageal carcinoma with CLNM alone.
Methods
From 2002 to 2011, 139 patients with inoperable esophageal cancer who underwent chemoradiotherapy at the Sun Yat-Sen University were retrospectively analyzed. Median radiation doses were 60 Gy (range: 50–68 Gy). Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS).
Results
The 1- and 3-year OS rates were 68.2% and 27.9%, respectively. The 1- and 3-year PFS rates were 51.9% and 20.1%, respectively. The multivariate analysis demonstrated that response to treatment, T stage, pathological grade, and laterality of cervical lymph nodal metastases were independent prognostic factors for thoracic esophageal carcinoma with CLNM.
Conclusions
Concurrent chemoradiotherapy is an important and hopeful treatment option for patients with esophageal cancer with CLNM alone. Our study has revealed that response to treatment, T stage, pathological grade and laterality of cervical lymph nodal metastases are significant prognostic factors for long-term survival.
doi:10.1186/s13014-014-0256-9
PMCID: PMC4251839  PMID: 25424871
Chemoradiotherapy; Esophageal cancer; Prognosis; Cervical lymph nodal metastasis
4.  Dual high expression of STAT3 and cyclinD1 is associated with poor prognosis after curative resection of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Background: Signal transducer of activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and cyclinD1 are overexpressed in various human cancers, and their overexpression positively correlates to tumor progression and poor prognosis. However, the clinical significance of dual high expression of these two proteins in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) has yet to be determined. Methods: The expression of STAT3 and cyclinD1 was analyzed in tissue microarrays containing tumor and adjacent tissue samples from 82 patients who had undergone curative resection for histologically proven ESCC. Kaplan-Meier plots and Cox proportional hazards regression model were used to analyze the prognostic value of STAT3 and cyclinD1 expression. Results: We discovered that expressions of STAT3 and cyclinD1 in cancer tissues were significantly higher than that in adjacent tissues. High expression of STAT3 and cyclinD1 was associated with malignant behaviors. Moreover, the expression of STAT3 was positively associated with the expression of cyclinD1. High STAT3 or cyclinD1 expression alone was associated with lower overall survival (OS) rates. Furthermore, dual high expression of STAT3 and cyclinD1 expression predict even worse survival outcome in both univariate and multivariate analysis. Conclusion: STAT3 and cyclinD1 correlate with more aggressive tumor behavior in ESCC. When STAT3 and cyclinD1 are considered together, they serve as effective prognostic markers in patients with surgically resected ESCC.
PMCID: PMC4270557  PMID: 25550842
Signal transducer of activator of transcription 3; cyclinD1; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; immunohistochemistry; prognosis
5.  Plant Leaf Chlorophyll Content Retrieval Based on a Field Imaging Spectroscopy System 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(10):19910-19925.
A field imaging spectrometer system (FISS; 380–870 nm and 344 bands) was designed for agriculture applications. In this study, FISS was used to gather spectral information from soybean leaves. The chlorophyll content was retrieved using a multiple linear regression (MLR), partial least squares (PLS) regression and support vector machine (SVM) regression. Our objective was to verify the performance of FISS in a quantitative spectral analysis through the estimation of chlorophyll content and to determine a proper quantitative spectral analysis method for processing FISS data. The results revealed that the derivative reflectance was a more sensitive indicator of chlorophyll content and could extract content information more efficiently than the spectral reflectance, which is more significant for FISS data compared to ASD (analytical spectral devices) data, reducing the corresponding RMSE (root mean squared error) by 3.3%–35.6%. Compared with the spectral features, the regression methods had smaller effects on the retrieval accuracy. A multivariate linear model could be the ideal model to retrieve chlorophyll information with a small number of significant wavelengths used. The smallest RMSE of the chlorophyll content retrieved using FISS data was 0.201 mg/g, a relative reduction of more than 30% compared with the RMSE based on a non-imaging ASD spectrometer, which represents a high estimation accuracy compared with the mean chlorophyll content of the sampled leaves (4.05 mg/g). Our study indicates that FISS could obtain both spectral and spatial detailed information of high quality. Its image-spectrum-in-one merit promotes the good performance of FISS in quantitative spectral analyses, and it can potentially be widely used in the agricultural sector.
doi:10.3390/s141019910
PMCID: PMC4239861  PMID: 25341439
field imaging spectroscopy system; spectral sensor; chlorophyll; spectral analysis
6.  Is There a Benefit in Receiving Concurrent Chemoradiotherapy for Elderly Patients with Inoperable Thoracic Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105270.
Background and purpose
The benefit of concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) in elderly patients with inoperable esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is controversial. This study aimed to assess the efficiency and safety of CCRT in elderly thoracic esophageal cancer patients.
Methods and materials
Between January 2002 and December 2011, 128 patients aged 65 years or older treated with CCRT or radiotherapy (RT) alone for inoperable thoracic esophageal SCC were analyzed retrospectively (RT alone, n = 55; CCRT, n = 73).
Results
No treatment-related deaths occurred and no patients experienced any acute grade 4 non-hematologic toxicities. Patients treated with CCRT developed more severe acute toxicities than patients who received RT alone. The 3-year overall survival (OS) rate was 36.1% for CCRT compared with 28.5% following RT alone (p = 0.008). Multivariate analysis identified T stage and treatment modality as independent prognostic factors for survival. Further analysis revealed that survival was significantly better in the CCRT group than in the RT alone group for patients ≤ 72 years. Nevertheless, the CCRT group had a similar OS to the RT group for patients > 72 years.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that elderly patients with inoperable thoracic esophageal SCC could benefit from CCRT, without major toxicities. However, for patients older than 72 years, CCRT is not superior to RT alone in terms of survival benefit.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105270
PMCID: PMC4136816  PMID: 25133495
7.  Osteopontin (OPN) Is an Important Protein to Mediate Improvements in the Biocompatibility of C Ion-Implanted Silicone Rubber 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98320.
Medical device implants are drawing increasing amounts of interest from modern medical practitioners. However, this attention is not evenly spread across all such devices; most of these implantable devices can cause adverse reactions such as inflammation, fibrosis, thrombosis, and infection. In this work, the biocompatibility of silicone rubber (SR) was improved through carbon (C) ion implantation. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) results confirmed that these newly generated carbon-implanted silicone rubbers (C-SRs) had large, irregular peaks and deep valleys on their surfaces. The water contact angle of the SR surface decreased significantly after C ion implantation. C ion implantation also changed the surface charge distribution, silicone oxygen rate, and chemical-element distribution of SR to favor cell attachment. The dermal fibroblasts cultured on the surface C-SR grew faster and showed more typical fibroblastic shapes. The expression levels of major adhesion proteins, including talin-1, zyxin, and vinculin, were significantly higher in dermal fibroblasts cultured on C-SR coated plates than in dermal fibroblasts cultured on SR. Those same dermal fibroblasts on C-SRs showed more pronounced adhesion and migration abilities. Osteopontin (OPN), a critical extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, was up-regulated and secreted from dermal fibroblasts cultured on C-SR. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity was also increased. These cells were highly mobile and were able to adhere to surfaces, but these abilities were inhibited by the monoclonal antibody against OPN, or by shRNA-mediated MMP-9 knockdown. Together, these results suggest that C ion implantation significantly improves SR biocompatibility, and that OPN is important to promote cell adhesion to the C-SR surface.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098320
PMCID: PMC4049582  PMID: 24911051
8.  Sparse Representation for Infrared Dim Target Detection via a Discriminative Over-Complete Dictionary Learned Online 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(6):9451-9470.
It is difficult for structural over-complete dictionaries such as the Gabor function and discriminative over-complete dictionary, which are learned offline and classified manually, to represent natural images with the goal of ideal sparseness and to enhance the difference between background clutter and target signals. This paper proposes an infrared dim target detection approach based on sparse representation on a discriminative over-complete dictionary. An adaptive morphological over-complete dictionary is trained and constructed online according to the content of infrared image by K-singular value decomposition (K-SVD) algorithm. Then the adaptive morphological over-complete dictionary is divided automatically into a target over-complete dictionary describing target signals, and a background over-complete dictionary embedding background by the criteria that the atoms in the target over-complete dictionary could be decomposed more sparsely based on a Gaussian over-complete dictionary than the one in the background over-complete dictionary. This discriminative over-complete dictionary can not only capture significant features of background clutter and dim targets better than a structural over-complete dictionary, but also strengthens the sparse feature difference between background and target more efficiently than a discriminative over-complete dictionary learned offline and classified manually. The target and background clutter can be sparsely decomposed over their corresponding over-complete dictionaries, yet couldn't be sparsely decomposed based on their opposite over-complete dictionary, so their residuals after reconstruction by the prescribed number of target and background atoms differ very visibly. Some experiments are included and the results show that this proposed approach could not only improve the sparsity more efficiently, but also enhance the performance of small target detection more effectively.
doi:10.3390/s140609451
PMCID: PMC4118372  PMID: 24871988
dim target detection; adaptive morphological over-compete dictionary; discriminative over-complete dictionary; Gaussian over-complete dictionary; sparsity
9.  γ-Secretase inhibitor DAPT sensitizes t-AUCB-induced apoptosis of human glioblastoma cells in vitro via blocking the p38 MAPK/MAPKAPK2/Hsp27 pathway 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2014;35(6):825-831.
Aim:
Trans-4-[4-(3-adamantan-1-yl-ureido)-cyclohexyloxy]-benzoic acid (t-AUCB) is a soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitor that suppresses glioblastoma cell growth in vitro. The aim of this study was to examine whether the γ-secretase inhibitor N-[N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-l-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (DAPT) could sensitize glioma cells to t-AUCB-induced apoptosis.
Methods:
Both U251 and U87 human glioblastoma cell lines were tested. Cell growth was assessed using the cell counting kit-8. Cell apoptosis was detected with caspase-3 activity assay kits and flow cytometry. The protein levels in the p38 MAPK/MAPKAPK2/Hsp27 pathway in the cells were analyzed using Western blots.
Results:
Pretreatment with DAPT (2 μmol/L) substantially potentiated the growth inhibition caused by t-AUCB (200 μmol/L) in U251 and U87 cells. Furthermore, pretreatment with DAPT markedly increased t-AUCB-induced apoptosis of U251 and U87 cells. T-AUCB alone did not significant affect caspase-3 activity in the cells, but t-AUCB plus DAPT pretreatment caused significant increase of caspase-3 activity. Furthermore, pretreatment with DAPT completely blocked t-AUCB-induced phosphorylation of p38 MAPK, MAPKAPK2 and Hsp27 in the cells.
Conclusion:
The γ-secretase inhibitor DAPT sensitizes t-AUCB-induced apoptosis of human glioblastoma cells in vitro via blocking the p38 MAPK/MAPKAPK2/Hsp27 pathway, suggesting that the combination of t-AUCB and DAPT may be a potentially effective strategy for the treatment of glioblastoma.
doi:10.1038/aps.2013.195
PMCID: PMC4086390  PMID: 24793313
glioma; chemotherapy; γ-secretase; DAPT; soluble epoxide hydrolase; t-AUCB; apoptosis; caspase-3; p38 MAPK; MAPKAPK2; Hsp27
10.  Quercetin sensitizes human glioblastoma cells to temozolomide in vitro via inhibition of Hsp27 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2014;35(6):832-838.
Aim:
Quercetin is an effective Hsp27 inhibitor and has been reported to facilitate tumor cell apoptosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether quercetin could sensitize human glioblastoma cells to temozolomide (TMZ) in vitro.
Methods:
Both U251 and U87 human glioblastoma cells were treated with quercetin and/or TMZ for 48 h. Cell viability was detected using the MTT assay. Cell apoptosis was analyzed with caspase-3 activity kits and flow cytometry. Hsp27 expression and phosphorylation were examined using Western blot analysis. RNA interference using Hsp27 siRNA oligos was performed to knock down the gene expression of Hsp27.
Results:
TMZ (200 or 400 μmol/L) alone effectively inhibited the viability of U251 and U87 cells. When combined with quercetin (30 μmol/L), TMZ (100 μmol/L) significantly inhibited the cell viability, and the inhibition of TMZ (200 and 400 μmol/L) was enhanced. TMZ or quercetin anole did not affect caspase-3 activity and cell apoptosis, while TMZ combined with quercetin significantly increased caspase-3 activity and induced cell apoptosis. TMZ anole significantly increased Hsp27 phosphorylation in U251 and U87 cells, while quercetin or Hsp27 siRNA oligos combined with TMZ attenuated TMZ-induced Hsp27 phosphorylation and significantly inhibited Hsp27 expression.
Conclusion:
Combined treatment with TMZ and quercetin efficiently suppressed human glioblastoma cell survival in vitro.
doi:10.1038/aps.2014.22
PMCID: PMC4086384  PMID: 24902789
glioma; quercetin; temozolomide; chemotherapy; apoptosis; caspase-3; heat shock protein 27; RNA interference
11.  Enhancement of radiotherapy efficacy by miR-200c-loaded gelatinase-stimuli PEG-Pep-PCL nanoparticles in gastric cancer cells 
Radiotherapy is the main locoregional control modality for many types of unresectable tumors, including gastric cancer. However, many patients fail radiotherapy due to intrinsic radioresistance of cancer cells, which has been found to be strongly associated with cancer stem cell (CSC)-like properties. In this study, we developed a nanoparticle formulation to deliver miR-200c, which is reported to inhibit CSC-like properties, and then evaluated its potential activity as a radiosensitizer. miR-200c nanoparticles significantly augmented radiosensitivity in three gastric cancer cell lines (sensitization enhancement ratio 1.13–1.25), but only slightly in GES-1 cells (1.06). In addition to radioenhancement, miR-200c nanoparticles reduced the expression of CD44, a putative CSC marker, and the percentage of CD44+ BGC823 cells. Meanwhile, other CSC-like properties, including invasiveness and resistance to apoptosis, could be suppressed by miR-200c nanoparticles. CSC-associated radioresistance mechanisms, involving reactive oxygen species levels and DNA repair capacity, were also attenuated. We have demonstrated that miR-200c nanoparticles are an effective radiosensitizer in gastric cancer cells and induce little radiosensitization in normal cells, which suggests that they are as a promising candidate for further preclinical and clinical evaluation.
doi:10.2147/IJN.S60874
PMCID: PMC4026568  PMID: 24872697
radiosensitizer; miR-200c; gelatinase-stimuli nanoparticles; cancer stem cell-like properties; gastric cancer
12.  Planar-defect-rich zinc oxide nanoparticles assembled on carbon nanotube films as ultraviolet emitters and photocatalysts 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4728.
Structural defects in zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles are complex and hard to be controlled during the synthesis, however, diversifying the chemical and physical performances. Here we report a rapid and low-temperature deposition method to fabricate planar-defect-rich ZnO nanoparticles on freestanding and aligned carbon nanotube films, different from common treatments which remove structural defects as many as possible. The defect energy states are very close to the valence band of ZnO and serve as recombination centers for a nearly monochromatic ultraviolet luminescence within a wavelength range of 373–376 nm. The absence of point defects, especially of oxygen vacancies whose energy level is <1 eV below the conduction band, allows photoinduced electrons and holes to take parts in possible photocatalytic reactions rather than to recombine at the shallow energy levels of planar defects.
doi:10.1038/srep04728
PMCID: PMC3989556  PMID: 24740315
13.  Contamination of Medical Charts: An Important Source of Potential Infection in Hospitals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e78512.
Objective
This prospective study aims to identify and compare the incidence of bacterial contamination of hospital charts and the distribution of species responsible for chart contamination in different units of a tertiary hospital.
Methods
All beds in medical, surgical, pediatric, and obstetric-gynecologic general wards (556) and those in corresponding special units (125) including medical, surgical, pediatric intensive care units (ICUs), the obstetric tocolytic unit and delivery room were surveyed for possible chart contamination. The outer surfaces of included charts were sampled by one experienced investigator with sterile cotton swabs rinsed with normal saline.
Results
For general wards and special units, the overall sampling rates were 81.8% (455/556) and 85.6% (107/125) (p = 0.316); the incidence of chart contamination was 63.5% and 83.2%, respectively (p<0.001). Except for obstetric-gynecologic charts, the incidence was significantly higher in each and in all ICUs than in corresponding wards. Coagulase-negative staphylococci was the most common contaminant in general wards (40.0%) and special units (34.6%) (p>0.05). Special units had a significantly higher incidence of bacterial contamination due to Staphylococcus aureus (17.8%), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (9.3%), Streptococcus viridans (9.4%), Escherichia coli (11.2%), Klebsiella pneumoniae (7.5%), and Acinetobacter baumannii (7.5%). Logistic regression analysis revealed the incidence of chart contamination was 2- to 4-fold higher in special units than in general wards [odds ratios: 1.97–4.00].
Conclusions
Noting that most hospital charts are contaminated, our study confirms that a hospital chart is not only a medical record but also an important source of potential infection. The plastic cover of the medical chart can harbor potential pathogens, thus acting as a vector of bacteria. Additionally, chart contamination is more common in ICUs. These findings highlight the importance of effective hand-washing before and after handling medical charts. However, managers and clinical staff should pay more attention to the issue and may consider some interventions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078512
PMCID: PMC3928153  PMID: 24558355
14.  Cancer risk of incremental exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in electrocautery smoke for mastectomy personnel 
Background
Electrocautery applications in surgical operations produce evasive odorous smoke in the cleanest operation rooms. Because of the incomplete combustion of electrical current in the tissues and blood vessels during electrocautery applications, electrocautery smoke (ES) containing significant unknown chemicals and biological forms is released. The potential hazards and cancer risk should be further investigated from the perspective of the occupational health of surgical staff.
Methods
The particle number concentration and the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in ES were thoroughly investigated in 10 mastectomies to estimate the cancer risk for surgical staff. The particle number concentration and gaseous/particle PAHs at the surgeons’ and anesthetic technologists’ (AT) breathing heights were measured with a particle counter and filter/adsorbent samplers. PAHs were soxhlet-extracted, cleaned, and analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.
Results
Abundant submicron particles and high PAH concentrations were found in ES during regular surgical mastectomies. Most particles in ES were in the size range of 0.3 to 0.5 μm, which may potentially penetrate through the medical masks into human respiration. The average particle/gaseous phase PAH concentrations at the surgeon’s breathing height were 131 and 1,415 ng/m3, respectively, which is 20 to 30 times higher than those in regular outdoor environments. By using a toxicity equivalency factor, the cancer risk for the surgeons and anesthetic technologists was calculated to be 117 × 10-6 and 270 × 10-6, respectively; the higher cancer risk for anesthetic technologists arises due to the longer working hours in operation rooms.
Conclusions
The carcinogenic effects of PAHs in ES on the occupational health of surgical staff should not be neglected. The use of an effective ES evacuator or smoke removal apparatus is strongly suggested to diminish the ES hazards to surgical staff.
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-12-31
PMCID: PMC3922599  PMID: 24499532
Cancer risk; Electrocautery smoke; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Surgical staff; Toxicity equivalency factor
15.  The Modified Glasgow Prognostic Score Is an Independent Prognostic Factor in Patients with Inoperable Thoracic Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Undergoing Chemoradiotherapy 
Journal of Cancer  2014;5(8):689-695.
Background and purpose: There is increasing evidence that the presence of an inflammation-based prognostic score (modified Glasgow prognostic score, mGPS) is associated with survival in patients with advanced cancer. This study aimed to assess whether the mGPS has prognostic value in patients with thoracic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma undergoing chemoradiotherapy.
Materials and methods: A total of 212 patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy for newly-diagnosed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma between October, 2006 and December, 2011 were retrospectively analyzed. Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and albumin were measured before initiation of treatment. The relationships between the mGPS and other relevant variables including white blood cell count, neutrophilic granulocyte count, platelet count, hemoglobin, bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were analyzed. Overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were calculated. Significant prognostic factors were identified using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Three-year OS for all patients was 24.6%; 3-year PFS was 21.3%. Patients with a mGPS of 0, 1 and 2 were 90, 78, 44, respectively. Higher mGPS was related to higher white blood cell, neutrophilic granulocyte and platelet counts, and lower total bilirubin. T stage, M stage and mGPS were independent prognostic indicators for OS; T stage, M stage, mGPS and platelet count were independent prognostic indicators for PFS.
Conclusions: Pretreatment mGPS is an easily measurable significant prognostic factor and can be used in combination with conventional TNM staging to predict survival in patients with squamous cell carcinoma undergoing chemoradiotherapy.
doi:10.7150/jca.9569
PMCID: PMC4174513  PMID: 25258650
esophageal cancer; chemoradiotherapy; mGPS; prognostic factor; survival.
16.  PinX1 suppresses bladder urothelial carcinoma cell proliferation via the inhibition of telomerase activity and p16/cyclin D1 pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:148.
Background
PIN2/TRF1-interacting telomerase inhibitor1 (PinX1) was recently suggested as a putative tumor suppressor in several types of human cancer, based on its binding to and inhibition of telomerase. Moreover, loss of PinX1 has been detected in many human malignancies. However, the possible involvement of PinX1 and its clinical/prognostic significance in urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB) are unclear.
Methods
The PinX1 expression profile was examined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western blotting, and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in UCB tissues and adjacent normal urothelial bladder epithelial tissues. PinX1 was overexpressed and silenced in UCB cell lines to determine its role in tumorigenesis, development of UCB, and the possible mechanism.
Results
PinX1 expression in UCB was significantly down-regulated at both mRNA and protein level as compared with that in normal urothelial bladder epithelial tissues. PinX1 levels were inversely correlated with tumor multiplicity, advanced N classification, high proliferation index (Ki-67), and poor survival (P < 0.05). Moreover, overexpression of PinX1 in UCB cells significantly inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo, whereas silencing PinX1 dramatically enhanced cell proliferation. Overexpression of PinX1 resulted in G1/S phase arrest and cell growth/proliferation inhibition, while silencing PinX1 led to acceleration of G1/S transition, and cell growth/proliferation promotion by inhibiting/enhancing telomerase activity and via the p16/cyclin D1 pathway.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that down-regulation of PinX1 play an important role in the tumorigenesis and development of UCB and that the expression of PinX1 as detected by IHC is an independent molecular marker in patients with UCB.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-12-148
PMCID: PMC4176126  PMID: 24268029
Urothelial carcinoma of bladder; Telomerase activity; p16/cyclin D1 pathway; Prognosis; PinX1
17.  Endocardial Cushion Morphogenesis and Coronary Vessel Development Require Chicken Ovalbumin Upstream Promoter-Transcription Factor II 
Objective
Septal defects and coronary vessel anomalies are common congenital heart defects, yet their ontogeny and the underlying genetic mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we investigated the role of chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor II (COUP-TFII, NR2F2) in cardiac organogenesis.
Methods and Results
We analyzed embryos deficient in COUP-TFII and observed a spectrum of cardiac defects, including atrioventricular septal defect, thin-walled myocardium, and abnormal coronary morphogenesis. We show by expression analysis that COUP-TFII is expressed in the endocardium and the epicardium but not in the myocardium of the ventricle. Using endothelial-specific COUP-TFII mutants and molecular approaches, we show that COUP-TFII deficiency resulted in endocardial cushion hypoplasia. This was attributed to the reduced growth and survival of atrioventricular cushion mesenchymal cells and defective epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) in the underlying endocardium. In addition, the endocardial EMT defect was accompanied by downregulation of Snai1, one of the master regulators of EMT, and upregulation of vascular endothelial-cadherin. Furthermore, we show that although COUP-TFII does not play a major role in the formation of epicardial cell cysts, it is critically important for the formation of epicardium. Ablation of COUP-TFII impairs epicardial EMT and coronary plexus formation.
Conclusion
Our results reveal that COUP-TFII plays cell-autonomous roles in the endocardium and the epicardium for endocardial and epicardial EMT, which are required for proper valve and coronary vessel formation during heart development.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300255
PMCID: PMC3598627  PMID: 22962329
atrioventricular septal defect; cardiac morphogenesis; chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor II; epicardium; epithelial-mesenchymal transformation
18.  The Effects of Hematopoietic Growth Factors on Neurite Outgrowth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75562.
Stem cell factor (SCF) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) are initially discovered as the essential hematopoietic growth factors regulating bone marrow stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and SCF in combination with G-CSF (SCF+G-CSF) has synergistic effects on bone marrow stem cell mobilization. In this study we have determined the effect of SCF and G-CSF on neurite outgrowth in rat cortical neurons. Using molecular and cellular biology and live cell imaging approaches, we have revealed that receptors for SCF and G-CSF are expressed on the growth core of cortical neurons, and that SCF+G-CSF synergistically enhances neurite extension through PI3K/AKT and NFκB signaling pathways. Moreover, SCF+G-CSF induces much greater NFκB activation, NFκB transcriptional binding and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production than SCF or G-CSF alone. In addition, we have also observed that BDNF, the target gene of NFκB, is required for SCF+G-CSF-induced neurite outgrowth. These data suggest that SCF+G-CSF has synergistic effects to promote neurite growth. This study provides new insights into the contribution of hematopoietic growth factors in neuronal plasticity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075562
PMCID: PMC3792965  PMID: 24116056
19.  Upregulated MicroRNA-155 Expression in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells and Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Objective. This study was to screen for the miRNAs differently expressed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of RA, to further identify the expression of miR-155 in RA PBMC and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS), and to evaluate the function of miR-155 in RA-FLS. Methods. Microarray was used to screen for differentially expressed miRNAs in RA PBMC. miR-155 expression in PBMC and FLS of RA were identified by real-time PCR. Enforced overexpression and downexpression of miR-155 were used to investigate the function of miR-155 in RA-FLS. Expression of IKBKE which was previously identified as the actual target of miR-155 was examined by Western blot and real-time PCR in RA-FLS. Results. miR-155 levels were increased in both PBMC and FLS of RA and could be induced by TNF-α. Upregulation of miR-155 decreased MMP-3 levels and suppressed proliferation and invasion of RA-FLS. Inverse relationship between the expressions of miR-155 and the MMPs production-related protein IKBKE was found. Conclusion. An inflammatory milieu may alter miRNA expression profiles in rheumatoid arthritis. miR-155 is upregulated in RA-FLS, and it may be a protective factor against the inflammatory effect in part by attenuating expression of IKBKE.
doi:10.1155/2013/296139
PMCID: PMC3789322  PMID: 24151514
20.  Reestablishing Neuronal Networks in the Aged Brain by Stem Cell Factor and Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor in a Mouse Model of Chronic Stroke 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64684.
Stroke has a high incidence in the elderly. Stroke enters the chronic phase 3 months after initial stroke onset. Currently, there is no pharmaceutical treatment available for chronic stroke. We have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of the combination of stem cell factor (SCF) and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) (SCF+G-CSF) on chronic stroke. However, it remains unclear how SCF+G-CSF repairs the brain in chronic stroke. In this study, we determined the effects of SCF+G-CSF on neuronal network remodeling in the aged brain of chronic stroke. Cortical brain ischemia was produced in 16–18 month-old transgenic mice expressing yellow fluorescent protein in layer V pyramidal neurons. SCF+G-CSF was subcutaneously injected for 7 days beginning at 3.5 months post-ischemia. Using both live brain imaging and immunohistochemistry, we observed that SCF+G-CSF increased the mushroom-type spines on the apical dendrites of layer V pyramidal neurons adjacent to the infarct cavities 2 and 6 weeks after treatment. SCF+G-CSF also augmented dendritic branches and post-synaptic density protein 95 puncta in the peri-infarct cortex 6 weeks after treatment. These data suggest that SCF+G-CSF treatment in chronic stroke remodels neural circuits in the aged brain. This study provides evidence to support the development of a new therapeutic strategy for chronic stroke.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064684
PMCID: PMC3672166  PMID: 23750212
21.  Overexpression of Cystatin SN positively affects survival of patients with surgically resected esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Surgery  2013;13:15.
Background
Cystatin SN is a secreted protein and a cysteine proteinase inhibitor. It has been considered to be a tumor marker for gastrointestinal tract cancer in several functional researches. However, the clinicopathological and prognostic significance of Cystatin SN expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) has not been elucidated.
Methods
In our study, the expression of Cystatin SN was detected in 209 surgically resected ESCC tissues and 170 peritumoral normal esophageal mucosae by immunohistochemistry. The prognostic significance of Cystatin SN expression was analysed with Kaplan-Meier plots and the Cox proportional hazards regression models.
Results
The results showed that the immunostaining of Cystatin SN in ESCC tissues was less intense than that in the normal control tissue (P < 0.001). Compared with patients with low tumoral Cystatin SN expression, ESCC patients with tumors high-expression Cystatin SN exhibited increased disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively). Furthermore, the expression level of Cystatin SN could further stratify the ESCC patients by survival (DFS and OS) in the stage II subgroup (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively). Multivariate analyses showed that Cystatin SN expression, N status and differentiation were independent and significant predictors of survival.
Conclusions
We concluded that ESCC patients whose tumors express high levels of Cystatin SN have favourable survival compared with those patients with low Cystatin SN expression. Tumoral Cystatin SN expression may be an independent predictor of survival for patients with resectable ESCCs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-13-15
PMCID: PMC3699386  PMID: 23711283
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Cystatin SN; Immunohistochemistry; Prognosis
22.  Regulated Expression of Lentivirus-Mediated GDNF in Human Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Its Neuroprotection on Dopaminergic Cells In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64389.
Gene regulation remains one of the major challenges for gene therapy in clinical trials. In the present study, we first generated a binary tetracycline-on (Tet-On) system based on two lentivirus vectors, one expressing both human glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (hGDNF) and humanized recombinant green fluorescent protein (hrGFP) genes under second-generation tetracycline response element (TRE), and the other expressing the advanced reverse tetracycline-controlled transactivator - rtTA2S-M2 under a human minimal cytomegalovirus immediate early (CMV-IE) promoter. This system allows simultaneous expression of hGDNF and hrGFP genes in the presence of doxycycline (Dox). Human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) were transduced with the binary Tet-On lentivirus vectors and characterized in vitro in the presence (On) or absence (Off) of Dox. The expression of hGDNF and hrGFP transgenes in transduced hMSCs was tightly regulated as determined by flow cytometry (FCM), GDNF enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). There was a dose-dependent regulation for hrGFP transgene expression. The levels of hGDNF protein in culture medium were correlated with the mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) units of hrGFP. The levels of transgene background expression were very low in the absence of Dox. The treatment of the conditioned medium from cultures of transduced hMSCs in the presence of Dox protected SH-SY5Y cells against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) toxicity as determined by cell viability using 3, [4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]- diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The treatment of the conditioned medium was also found to improve the survival of dopaminergic (DA) neurons of ventral mesencephalic (VM) tissue in serum-free culture conditions as assessed by cell body area, the number of neurites and dendrite branching points, and proportion of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive (IR) cells. Our inducible lentivirus-mediated hGDNF gene delivery system may provide useful tools for basic research on gene therapy for chronic neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD).
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064389
PMCID: PMC3661514  PMID: 23717608
23.  Pre-immunization with an Intramuscular Injection of AAV9-Human Erythropoietin Vectors Reduces the Vector-Mediated Transduction following Re-Administration in Rat Brain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63876.
We have recently demonstrated that adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9)-mediated human erythropoietin (hEPO) gene delivery into the brain protects dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. In the present study, we examined whether pre-exposure to AAV9-hEPO vectors with an intramuscular or intrastriatal injection would reduce AAV9-mediated hEPO transduction in rat brain. We first characterized transgene expression and immune responses against AAV9-hEPO vectors in rat striatum at 4 days, 3 weeks and 6 months, and with doses ranging from 1011 to 1013 viral genomes. To sensitize immune system, rats received an injection of AAV9-hEPO into either the muscle or the left striatum, and then sequentially an injection of AAV9-hEPO into the right striatum 3 weeks later. We observed that transgene expression exhibited in a time course and dose dependent manner, and inflammatory and immune responses displayed in a time course manner. Intramuscular, but not intrastriatal injections of AAV9-hEPO resulted in reduced levels of hEPO transduction and increased levels of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II antigen expression in the striatum following AAV9-hEPO re-administration. There were infiltration of the cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4)-and CD8-lymphacytes, and accumulation of activated microglial cells and astrocytes in the virally injected striatum. In addition, the sera from the rats with intramuscular injections of AAV9-hEPO contained greater levels of antibodies against both AAV9 capsid protein and hEPO protein than the other treatment groups. hEPO gene expression was negatively correlated with the levels of circulating antibodies against AAV9 capsid protein. Intramuscular and intrastriatal re-administration of AAV9-hEPO led to increased numbers of red blood cells in peripheral blood. Our results suggest that pre-immunization with an intramuscular injection can lead to the reduction of transgene expression in the striatal re-administration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063876
PMCID: PMC3648480  PMID: 23667683
24.  Pyrosequencing Reveals the Influence of Organic and Conventional Farming Systems on Bacterial Communities 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51897.
It has been debated how different farming systems influence the composition of soil bacterial communities, which are crucial for maintaining soil health. In this research, we applied high-throughput pyrosequencing of V1 to V3 regions of bacterial 16S rRNA genes to gain further insight into how organic and conventional farming systems and crop rotation influence bulk soil bacterial communities. A 2×2 factorial experiment consisted of two agriculture management systems (organic versus conventional) and two crop rotations (flax-oat-fababean-wheat versus flax-alfalfa-alfalfa-wheat) was conducted at the Glenlea Long-Term Crop Rotation and Management Station, which is Canada’s oldest organic-conventional management study field. Results revealed that there is a significant difference in the composition of bacterial genera between organic and conventional management systems but crop rotation was not a discriminator factor. Organic farming was associated with higher relative abundance of Proteobacteria, while Actinobacteria and Chloroflexi were more abundant in conventional farming. The dominant genera including Blastococcus, Microlunatus, Pseudonocardia, Solirubrobacter, Brevundimonas, Pseudomonas, and Stenotrophomonas exhibited significant variation between the organic and conventional farming systems. The relative abundance of bacterial communities at the phylum and class level was correlated to soil pH rather than other edaphic properties. In addition, it was found that Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria were more sensitive to pH variation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051897
PMCID: PMC3526490  PMID: 23284808
25.  The combination of stem cell factor and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor for chronic stroke treatment in aged animals 
Background
Stroke occurs more frequently in the elderly population and presents the number one leading cause of persistent disability worldwide. Lack of effective treatment to enhance brain repair and improve functional restoration in chronic stroke, the recovery phase of stroke, is a challenging medical problem to be solved in stroke research. Our early study has revealed the therapeutic effects of stem cell factor (SCF) in combination with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) (SCF+G-CSF) on chronic stroke in young animals. However, whether this treatment is effective and safe to the aged population remains to be determined.
Methods
Cortical brain ischemia was produced in aged C57BL mice or aged spontaneously hypertensive rats. SCF+G-CSF or equal volume of vehicle solution was subcutaneously injected for 7 days beginning at 3–4 months after induction of cortical brain ischemia. Using the approaches of biochemistry assays, flow cytometry, pathology, and evaluation of functional outcome, several doses of SCF+G-CSF have been examined for their safety and efficiency on chronic stroke in aged animals.
Results
All tested doses did not show acute or chronic toxicity in the aged animals. Additionally, SCF+G-CSF treatment in chronic stroke of aged animals mobilized bone marrow stem cells and improved functional outcome in a dose-dependent manner.
Conclusions
SCF+G-CSF treatment is a safe and effective approach to chronic stroke in the aged condition. This study provides important information needed for developing a new therapeutic strategy to improve the health of older adults with chronic stroke.
doi:10.1186/2040-7378-4-25
PMCID: PMC3552930  PMID: 23254113
Hematopoietic growth factor; SCF; G-CSF; Chronic stroke; Treatment; Elderly

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