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1.  Variations in the MHC Region Confer Risk to Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma on the Subjects from High-Incidence Area in Northern China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90438.
Background
The human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is the most important region in vertebrate genome, and is crucial in innate immunity. Recent studies have demonstrated the possible role of polymorphisms in the MHC region to high risk for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) has indicated that the MHC region may confer important risk loci for ESCC, but without further fine mapping. The aim of this study is to further identify the risk loci in the MHC region for ESCC in Chinese population.
Methods
Conditional logistic regression analysis (CLRA) was performed on 24 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MHC region, which were obtained from the genetically matched 937 cases and 692 controls of Chinese Han population. The identified promising SNPs were further correlated with clinical and clinicopathology characteristics. Immunohistochemistry was performed to explore the protein expression pattern of the related genes in ESCC and neighboring normal tissues.
Results
Of the 24 promising SNPs analyzed, we identified three independent SNPs in the MHC region associated with ESCC: rs35399661 (P = 6.07E-06, OR = 1.71, 95%CI = 1.36–2.17), rs3763338 (P = 1.62E-05, OR = 0.63, 95%CI = 0.50–0.78) and rs2844695 (P = 7.60E-05, OR = 0.74, 95%CI = 0.64–0.86). These three SNPs were located at the genes of HLA-DQA1, TRIM27, and DPCR1, respectively. Further analyses showed that rs2844695 was preferentially associated with younger ESCC cases (P = 0.009). The positive immunostaining rates both for HLA-DQA1 and TRIM27 were much higher in ESCC tissues than in neighboring normal tissues (69.4% vs. 26.8% for HLA-DQA1 and 77.6% vs. 47.8% for TRIM27, P<0.001). Furthermore, the overexpression of HLA-DQA1 is correlated significantly with age (P = 0.001) and family history (P<0.001).
Conclusion
This study for the first time provides evidence that multiple genetic factors within the MHC region confer risk to ESCC on the subjects from high-risk area in northern China.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090438
PMCID: PMC3942432  PMID: 24595008
2.  Identification of the involvement of LOXL4 in generation of keratocystic odontogenic tumors by RNA-Seq analysis 
Keratocystic odontogenic tumors (KCOT) are benign, locally aggressive intraosseous tumors of odontogenic origin. KCOT have a higher stromal microvessel density (MVD) than dentigerous cysts (DC) and normal oral mucosa. To identify genes in the stroma of KCOT involved in tumor development and progression, RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed using samples from KCOT and primary stromal fibroblasts isolated from gingival tissues. Seven candidate genes that possess a function potentially related to KCOT progression were selected and their expression levels were confirmed by quantitative PCR, immunohistochemistry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Expression of lysyl oxidase-like 4 (LOXL4), the only candidate gene that encodes a secreted protein, was enhanced at both the mRNA and protein levels in KCOT stromal tissues and primary KCOT stromal fibroblasts compared to control tissues and primary fibroblasts (P<0.05). In vitro, high expression of LOXL4 could enhance proliferation and migration of the human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). There was a significant, positive correlation between LOXL4 protein expression and MVD in stroma of KCOT and control tissues (r=0.882). These data suggest that abnormal expression of LOXL4 of KCOT may enhance angiogenesis in KCOT, which may help to promote the locally aggressive biological behavior of KCOT.
doi:10.1038/ijos.2013.96
PMCID: PMC3967310  PMID: 24357854
angiogenesis; keratocystic odontogenic tumor; lysyl oxidase-like 4; RNA-sequencing; tumor stromal fibroblast
3.  Mitochondria are required for antigen-specific T cell activation through reactive oxygen species signaling 
Immunity  2013;38(2):225-236.
SUMMARY
It is widely appreciated that T cells increase glycolytic flux during activation, however the role of mitochondrial flux is unclear. Here we have shown that mitochondrial metabolism, in the absence of glucose metabolism, was sufficient to support interleukin-2 (IL-2) induction. Furthermore, we used mice with reduced mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS) production in T cells (T-Uqcrfs−/− mice) to show that mitochondria are required for T cell activation to produce mROS for activation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) and subsequent IL-2 induction. These mice could not induce antigen-specific expansion of T cells in vivo, however Uqcrfs1−/− T cells retained the ability to proliferate in vivo under lymphopenic conditions. This suggests that Uqcrfs1−/− T cells were not lacking bioenergetically, but rather lacked specific ROS-dependent signaling events needed for antigen-specific expansion. Thus, mitochondrial metabolism is a critical component of T cell activation through production of complex III ROS.
doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2012.10.020
PMCID: PMC3582741  PMID: 23415911
4.  Impact of currently prescribed lipid-lowering drugs on plasma PCSK9 concentration: single or in combination study in rats 
Background
An emerging data suggested a significant impact of statins on PCSK9 concentration, while the rapid impacts of other lipid-lowering drugs such as ezetimibe and xuezhikang alone or in combination on PCSK9 and lipid profile have not been assessed. This study aims to investigate whether an enhanced PCSK9 concentration by single or combined therapy of lipid-lowering drugs currently used precedes the changes of lipid profile in rats.
Methods
Sixty-three rats were randomly divided into six groups and orally administrated with placebo (N = 13), ezetimibe 10 mg/kg daily, Xuezhikang 1200 mg/kg daily, ezetimibe 10 mg/kg plus Xuezhikang 1200 mg/kg daily, pitavastatin 10 mg/kg daily or pitavastatin 10 mg/kg plus ezetimibe 10 mg/kg daily for 3 days (N = 10 for each group respectively). Blood samples were obtained at day 3 after orally administration. Plasma PCSK9 levels were determined by ELISA and lipid profile were measured by enzymatic assay.
Results
Ezetimibe, Xuezhikang and pitavastatin alone and Xuezhikang plus ezetimibe as well as pitavastatin plus ezetimibe increased PCSK9 levels by 124%, 56%, 111%, 63% and 204% respectively (p < 0.05 compared with placebo). However, Xuezhikang plus ezetimibe did not enhance greater PCSK9 levels compared to monotherapy. Ezetimibe and pitavastatin in combination induced higher PCSK9 levels than pitavastatin monotherapy or co-therapy with ezetimibe plus Xuezhikang. There was no significant difference between any groups with regard to lipid profile levels at day 3 (P > 0.05).
Conclusions
Elevated PCSK9 concentration by ezetimibe, Xuezhikang and pitavastatin alone or in combination was found prior to the alterations of lipid profile in rats. Combination of Xuezhikang and ezetimibe significantly attenuated increase in PCSK9 compared to ezetimibe plus pitavastatin, suggesting that the former combination may be better than the latter in future clinical application.
doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-35
PMCID: PMC3931276  PMID: 24533584
PCSK9; Statin; Lipid profile; Rat
5.  The anti-MMP activity of benzalkonium chloride 
Journal of dentistry  2010;39(1):10.1016/j.jdent.2010.10.003.
SUMMARY
Objective
This study evaluated the ability of benzalkonium chloride (BAC) to bind to dentine and to inhibit soluble recombinant MMPs and bound dentine matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).
Methods
Dentine powder was prepared from extracted human molars. Half was left mineralized; the other half was completely demineralized. The binding of BAC to dentine powder was followed by measuring changes in the supernatant concentration using UV spectrometry. The inhibitory effects of BAC on rhMMP-2, -8 and -9 were followed using a commercially available in vitro proteolytic assay. Matrix-bound endogenous MMP-activity was evaluated in completely demineralized beams. Each beam was either dipped into BAC and then dropped into 1 mL of a complete medium (CM) or they were placed in 1 mL of CM containing BAC for 30 d. After 30 d, changes in the dry mass of the beams or in the hydroxyproline (HYP) content of hydrolyzates of the media were quantitated as indirect measures of matrix collagen hydrolysis by MMPs.
Results
Demineralized dentine powder took up 10-times more BAC than did mineralized powder. Water rinsing removed about 50% of the bound BAC, while rinsing with 0.5 M NaCl removed more than 90% of the bound BAC. BAC concentrations 0.5 wt% produced 100% inhibition of soluble recombinant MMP-2, -8 or -9, and inhibited matrix-bound MMPs between 55-66% when measured as mass loss or 76-81% when measured as solubilization of collagen peptide fragments.
Conclusions
BAC is effective at inhibiting both soluble recombinant MMPs and matrix-bound dentine MMPs in the absence of resins.
doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2010.10.003
PMCID: PMC3866626  PMID: 20951183
MMPs; dentine; benzalkonium chloride; binding
6.  Evaluation of Paeonol Skin-Target Delivery from Its Microsponge Formulation: In Vitro Skin Permeation and In Vivo Microdialysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79881.
The aim of the present study was to design a novel topical skin-target drug-delivery system, the paeonol microsponge, and to investigate its drug-release patterns in dosage form, both in vitro and in vivo. Paeonol microsponges were prepared using the quasi-emulsion solvent-diffusion method. In vitro release studies were carried out using Franz diffusion cells, while in vivo studies were investigated by microdialysis after the paeonol microsponges were incorporated into a cream base. In vitro release studies showed that the drug delivered via microsponges increased the paeonol permeation rate. Ex vivo drug-deposition studies showed that the microsponge formulation improved drug residence in skin. In addition, in vivo microdialysis showed that the values for the area under the concentration versus time curve (AUC) for the paeonol microsponge cream was much higher than that of paeonol cream without microsponges. Maximum time (Tmax) was 220 min for paeonol microsponge cream and 480 min for paeonol cream, while the half-life (t1/2) of paeonol microsponge cream (935.1 min) was almost twice that of paeonol cream (548.6 min) in the skin (n = 3). Meanwhile, in the plasma, the AUC value for paeonol microsponge cream was half that of the paeonol cream. Based on these results, paeonol-loaded microsponge formulations could be a better alternative for treating skin disease, as the formulation increases drug bioavailability by lengthening the time of drug residence in the skin and should reduce side-effects because of the lower levels of paeonol moving into the circulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079881
PMCID: PMC3835837  PMID: 24278204
7.  Effects of carvedilol treatment on cardiac cAMP response element binding protein expression and phosphorylation in acute coxsackievirus B3-induced myocarditis 
Background
The role of β-adrenergic stimulation on viral myocarditis has been investigated in animal models of viral myocarditis. Excess stimulation of β-adrenergic receptors by catecholamines causes phosphorylation/activation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) by the cAMP signaling pathway. CREB as an important regulator of gene expression mediates the cardiovascular remodeling process and promotes anti-inflammatory immune responses. However, the CREB expression and phosphorylation have not been studied, and the effects of carvedilol (a nonselective β-adrenoceptor antagonist) on the CREB has not been investigated in the setting of acute viral myocarditis.
Methods
This study was therefore designed to examine the effects of carvedilol on the transcriptional factor CREB in a murine model of acute viral myocarditis. In a coxsackievirus B3 murine myocarditis model (Balb/c), effects of carvedilol on plasma noradrenaline, heart rate and blood pressure, myocardial histopathological changes and fibrosis, cardiomyocyte apoptosis, cardiac CREB and phosphorylated CREB, cytokine levels, and viral RNA were studied.
Results
The expression and phosphorylation of CREB were decreased with concomitant increase of IL-6 and TNF-α in murine coxsackievirus-induced acute viral myocarditis. The levels of IL-6 and TNF-α were correlated with the expression of CREB or phosphorylated CREB. Carvedilol increased the cardiac CREB expression and phosphorylation and decreased the plasma catecholamine levels and the production of IL-6 and TNF-α with amelioration of acute viral myocarditis.
Conclusion
These results show that CREB may be involved in the pathophysiology of viral myocarditis and carvedilol exerts some of its beneficial effects by increasing the CREB expression and phosphorylation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-13-100
PMCID: PMC3840656  PMID: 24225056
Viral myocarditis; cAMP response element binding protein; Carvedilol
8.  Biological resonance for cancer metastasis, a new hypothesis based on comparisons between primary cancers and metastases 
Cancer Microenvironment  2013;6(3):213-230.
Many hypotheses have been proposed to try to explain cancer metastasis. However, they seem to be contradictory and have some limitations. Comparisons of primary tumors and matched metastases provide new insight into metastasis. The results show high concordances and minor differences at multiple scales from organic level to molecular level. The concordances reflect the commonality between primary cancer and metastasis, and also mean that metastatic cancer cells derived from primary cancer are quite conservative in distant sites. The differences reflect variation that cancer cells must acquire new traits to adapt to foreign milieu during the course of evolving into a new tumor in second organs. These comparisons also provided new information on understanding mechanism of vascular metastasis, organ-specific metastasis, and tumor dormancy. The collective results suggest a new hypothesis, biological resonance (bio-resonance) model. The hypothesis has two aspects. One is that primary cancer and matched metastasis have a common progenitor. The other is that both ancestors of primary cancer cells and metastatic cancer cells are under similar microenvironments and receive similar or same signals. When their interactions reach a status similar to primary cancer, metastasis will occur. Compared with previous hypotheses, the bio-resonance hypothesis seems to be more applicable for cancer metastasis to explain how, when and where metastasis occurs. Thus, it has important implications for individual prediction, prevention and treatment of cancer metastasis.
doi:10.1007/s12307-013-0138-y
PMCID: PMC3855372  PMID: 24214411
Primary cancer; Metastasis; Similarity; Difference; Biological resonance (bio-resonance) model
9.  Impact of the quality of coronal restoration versus the quality of root canal fillings on success of root canal treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Journal of endodontics  2011;37(7):10.1016/j.joen.2011.04.002.
Introduction
Thorough cleaning and shaping of root canals are essential for periapical healing. Restoration of endodontically-treated teeth is also required for them to function and prevent coronal leakage. This study compared the impact of the quality of root canal treatment versus the quality of coronal restoration in treatment outcomes.
Methods
Literature search was conducted using the search terms “coronal restoration”, “root canal”, “periapical status” and “quality”. Articles that evaluated the effect of the quality of root filling and coronal restoration or both on the success of root canal treatment were selected. Nine articles were identified and were reviewed by three investigators. Data were collected based on pre-determined criteria. Percentages of teeth without apical periodontitis were recorded for each category: Adequate Root Canal Treatment (AE), Inadequate Root Canal Treatment (IE), Adequate Restoration (AR), Inadequate Restoration (IR). Data were analyzed using meta-analysis for odds ratios (ORs).
Results
After adjusting for significant covariates to reduce heterogeneity, the results were combined to obtain pooled estimates of the common OR for the comparison of AR/AE vs AR/IE (OR 2.734; 95% CI 2.61–2.88; p<0.001) and AR/AE vs IR/AE (OR 2.808; 95% CI 2.64–2.97; p<0.001).
Conclusion
On the basis of the current best available evidence, the odds for healing of apical periodontitis increase with both adequate root canal treatment and adequate restorative treatment. Although poorer clinical outcomes may be expected with adequate root filling-inadequate coronal restoration and inadequate root filling-adequate coronal restoration, there is no significant difference in the odds of healing between these two combinations.
doi:10.1016/j.joen.2011.04.002
PMCID: PMC3815527  PMID: 21689541
coronal restoration; meta-analysis; obturation; periapical status; quality; root canal treatment; systematic review
10.  The juxtamembrane and carboxy-terminal domains of Arabidopsis PRK2 are critical for ROP-induced growth in pollen tubes 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(18):5599-5610.
Polarized growth of pollen tubes is a critical step for successful reproduction in angiosperms and is controlled by ROP GTPases. Spatiotemporal activation of ROP (Rho GTPases of plants) necessitates a complex and sophisticated regulatory system, in which guanine nucleotide exchange factors (RopGEFs) are key components. It was previously shown that a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase, Arabidopsis pollen receptor kinase 2 (AtPRK2), interacted with RopGEF12 for its membrane recruitment. However, the mechanisms underlying AtPRK2-mediated ROP activation in vivo are yet to be defined. It is reported here that over-expression of AtPRK2 induced tube bulging that was accompanied by the ectopic localization of ROP-GTP and the ectopic distribution of actin microfilaments. Tube depolarization was also induced by a potentially kinase-dead mutant, AtPRK2K366R, suggesting that the over-expression effect of AtPRK2 did not require its kinase activity. By contrast, deletions of non-catalytic domains in AtPRK2, i.e. the juxtamembrane (JM) and carboxy-terminal (CT) domains, abolished its ability to affect tube polarization. Notably, AtPRK2K366R retained the ability to interact with RopGEF12, whereas AtPRK2 truncations of these non-catalytic domains did not. Lastly, it has been shown that the JM and CT domains of AtPRK2 were not only critical for its interaction with RopGEF12 but also critical for its distribution at the plasma membrane. These results thus provide further insight into pollen receptor kinase-mediated ROP activation during pollen tube growth.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert323
PMCID: PMC3871813  PMID: 24136420
Actin microfilaments; CRIB; polar growth; receptor kinase; ROP GTPases.
11.  Distal-less 3 haploinsufficiency results in elevated placental oxidative stress and altered fetal growth kinetics in the mouse 
Placenta  2012;33(10):830-838.
Distal-less 3 (Dlx3)-/- mice die at E9.5 presumably due to an abnormal placental phenotype including reduced placental vasculature and secretion of placental growth factor. To examine the role of Dlx3 specifically within the epiblast, Dlx3 conditional knockout mice were generated using an epiblast-specific Meox2CreSor allele. Dlx3-/fl, Meox2CreSor animals were born at expected frequencies and survived to weaning providing indirect evidence that loss of Dlx3 within the trophoectoderm plays a critical role in fetal survival in the Dlx3-/- mouse. We next examined the hypothesis that loss of a single Dlx3 allele would have a negative impact on placental and fetal fitness. Dlx3+/- mice displayed reduced fetal growth beginning at E12.5 compared with Dlx3+/+ controls. Altered fetal growth trajectory occurred coincident with elevated oxidative stress and apoptosis within Dlx3+/- placentas. Oral supplementation with the superoxide dismutase mimetic, Tempol, rescued the fetal growth and placental cell death phenotypes in Dlx3+/- mice. To determine the potential mechanisms associated with elevated oxidative stress on the Dlx3+/- placentas, we next examined vascular characteristics within the feto-placental unit. Studies revealed reduced maternal spiral artery luminal area in the Dlx3+/- mice receiving water; Dlx3+/- mice receiving Tempol displayed maternal spiral artery luminal area similar to control Dlx3+/+ mice. We conclude that reduced Dlx3 gene dose results in diminished fetal fitness associated with elevated placental cell oxidative stress and apoptosis coincident with altered vascular remodeling. Administration of antioxidant therapy ameliorated this feto-placental phenotype, suggesting that Dlx3 may be required for adaptation to oxidative stresses within the intrauterine environment.
doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2012.06.018
PMCID: PMC3439566  PMID: 22819041
Placenta; fetal growth; oxidative stress; labyrinth; vascular remodeling; mouse
12.  The Structural Basis of Erwinia rhapontici Isomaltulose Synthase 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74788.
Sucrose isomerase NX-5 from Erwiniarhapontici efficiently catalyzes the isomerization of sucrose to isomaltulose (main product) and trehalulose (by-product). To investigate the molecular mechanism controlling sucrose isomer formation, we determined the crystal structures of native NX-5 and its mutant complexes E295Q/sucrose and D241A/glucose at 1.70 Å, 1.70 Å and 2.00 Å, respectively. The overall structure and active site architecture of NX-5 resemble those of other reported sucrose isomerases. Strikingly, the substrate binding mode of NX-5 is also similar to that of trehalulose synthase from Pseudomonasmesoacidophila MX-45 (MutB). Detailed structural analysis revealed the catalytic RXDRX motif and the adjacent 10-residue loop of NX-5 and isomaltulose synthase PalI from Klebsiella sp. LX3 adopt a distinct orientation from those of trehalulose synthases. Mutations of the loop region of NX-5 resulted in significant changes of the product ratio between isomaltulose and trehalulose. The molecular dynamics simulation data supported the product specificity of NX-5 towards isomaltulose and the role of the loop330-339 in NX-5 catalysis. This work should prove useful for the engineering of sucrose isomerase for industrial carbohydrate biotransformations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074788
PMCID: PMC3777934  PMID: 24069347
13.  Improvement of Pharmacokinetics Behavior of Apocynin by Nitrone Derivatization: Comparative Pharmacokinetics of Nitrone-Apocynin and its Parent Apocynin in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70189.
Apocynin, a potent inhibitor of NADPH-oxidase, was widely studied for activities in diseases such as inflammation-mediated disorders, asthma and cardiovascular diseases. In our recent study, a novel nitrone derivative of apocynin, AN-1, demonstrated potent inhibition to oxidative injury and to high expression of gp91phox subunit of NADPH-oxidase induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide (t-BHP) in RAW 264.7 macrophage cells, and displayed promising preclinical protective effect against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung injury in rats. In this work, the pharmacokinetic behaviors of AN-1 in Sprague-Dawley rats with single intravenous and intragastric doses were investigated for further development. Furthermore, apocynin’s pharmacokinetics remain lacking, even though its pharmacological action has been extensively evaluated. The pharmacokinetics of parent apocynin were also comparatively characterized. A simple HPLC method was developed and validated to determine both AN-1 and apocynin in rat plasma. The chromatographic separation was achieved on an Agilent HC-C18 column (250 mm×4.6 mm, 5 µm) at an isocratic flow rate of 1.0 mL/min, with the mobile phase of methanol and water (53∶47, v/v) and the UV detection set at 279 nm. Good linearity was established over the concentration range of 0.1–500 µg/mL for AN-1 and 0.2–100 µg/mL for apocynin. The absolute recovery, precision and accuracy were satisfactory. Compared with the parent compound apocynin, AN-1 yielded a much longer T1/2 (AN-1 179.8 min, apocynin 6.1 min) and higher AUC0–t (AN-1 61.89 mmol/L·min, apocynin 2.49 mmol/L·min) after equimolar intravenous dosing (0.302 mmol/kg). The absolute bioavailability of oral AN-1 was 78%, but that of apocynin was only 2.8%. The significant improvement of pharmacokinetic behavior might be accounted for the effective pharmacodynamic results we documented for the novel nitrone derivative AN-1.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070189
PMCID: PMC3728092  PMID: 23936162
14.  Circulating Methylated XAF1 DNA Indicates Poor Prognosis for Gastric Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67195.
Background
Methylated DNA in fluids may be a suitable biomarker for cancer patients. XAF1 has been shown to be frequently down-regulated in human gastric cancer (GC). Here, we investigated if XAF1 methylation in GC could be a useful biomarker.
Methods
Real-time RT-PCR was used to detect XAF1 mRNA expression; immunohistochemistry and western blot were used to examine XAF1 protein expression in GC tissues (n = 202) and their corresponding para-cancerous histological normal tissues (PCHNTs). Real-time methylation specific-PCR was used to investigate XAF1 promoter methylation in the same panel of GC tissues, their PCHNTs and sera.
Results
We confirmed frequent XAF1 down-regulation in both mRNA and protein levels in GC tissues as compared to normal controls and PCHNTs. XAF1 hypermethylation was evidenced in 83.2% (168/202) of GC tissues and 27.2% (55/202) of PCHNTs, while no methylation was detected in the 88 normal controls. The methylation level in GC tissues was significantly higher than that in PCHNTs (p<0.05). The hypermethylation of XAF1 significantly correlated with the down-regulation of XAF1 in GC tissues in both mRNA and protein levels (p<0.001 each). Moreover, we detected high frequency of XAF1 methylation (69.8%, 141 out of 202) in the sera DNAs from the same patients, while the sera DNAs from 88 non-tumor controls were negative for XAF1 methylation. The XAF1 methylation in both GC tissues and in the sera could be a good biomarker for diagnosis of GC (AUC = 0.85 for tissue and AUC = 0.91 for sera) and significantly correlated with poorer prognosis (p<0.001). In addition, after-surgery negative-to-positive transition of XAF1 methylation in sera strongly associated with tumor recurrence.
Conclusions
1) Dysfunction of XAF1 is frequent and is regulated through XAF1 promoter hypermethylation; 2) Detection of circulating methylated XAF1 DNAs in the serum may be a useful biomarker in diagnosis, evaluating patient’s outcome (prognosis and recurrence) for GC patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067195
PMCID: PMC3695092  PMID: 23826230
15.  Left Atrial Systolic and Diastolic Dysfunction in Patients with Chronic Constrictive Pericarditis: A Study Using Speckle Tracking and Conventional Echocardiography 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e68718.
Background
Left atrial (LA) function plays an important role in the maintenance of cardiac output, however, in patients with constrictive pericarditis (CP), whether pericardial restriction and adhesion can lead to LA dysfunction, and the characteristics of LA function remain unclear. The aim of the study is to compare the left atrial (LA) function of patients with CP to that of healthy study participants using speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) and conventional echocardiography.
Methods and Results
Thirty patients with CP and 30 healthy volunteers (controls) were enrolled in the study. The underlying cause of CP was viral pericarditis in 24 (80%) patients and unknown in 6 (20%) patients. The LA maximum volume (Vmax), LA minimal volume (Vmin), and LA volume before atrial contraction (Vpre-a) were measured using biplane modified Simpson’s method. The LA expansion index (LA reservoir function) was determined as follows: ([LAVmax - LAVmin]/LAVmin) ×100. The passive emptying index (LA conduit function) was calculated as follows: ([LAVmax - LAVpre-a]/LAVmax) ×100, and the active emptying index (booster pump function) was calculated as follows: ([LAVpre-a - LAVmin]/LAVpre-a) ×100. All the patients underwent two-dimensional STE. The LA global systolic strain (S), systolic strain rate (SrS), early diastolic strain rate (SrE) and late diastolic strain rate (SrA) were measured. The LA expansion index, passive emptying index, the active emptying index and the LA global S, SrS, SrE, SrA were found to be significantly lower in patients with CP than in the control participants (P <0.001). LA function was correlated with the early diastolic velocity of the lateral mitral annulus (P <0.05).
Conclusions
Although left ventricular systolic function was preserved in patients with CP, the LA reservoir, conduit, and booster functions were impaired. Pericardial restriction and impairment of the LA myocardium may play an important role in the reduction of LA function in patients with CP.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068718
PMCID: PMC3689000  PMID: 23825701
16.  Celastrol Prevents Atherosclerosis via Inhibiting LOX-1 and Oxidative Stress 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65477.
Celastrol is a triterpenoid compound extracted from the Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F. Previous research has revealed its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunosuppressive properties. Here, we investigated whether celastrol inhibits oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) induced oxidative stress in RAW 264.7 cells. In addition, the effect of celastrol on atherosclerosis in vivo was assessed in apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE−/−) mouse fed a high-fat/high-cholesterol diet (HFC). We found that celastrol significantly attenuated oxLDL-induced excessive expression of lectin-like oxidized low density lipoprotein receptor-1(LOX-1) and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cultured RAW264.7 macrophages. Celastrol also decreased IκB phosphorylation and degradation and reduced production of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), nitric oxide (NO) and proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-6. Celastrol reduced atherosclerotic plaque size in apoE−/− mice. The expression of LOX-1 within the atherosclerotic lesions and generation of superoxide in mouse aorta were also significantly reduced by celastrol while the lipid profile was not improved. In conclusion, our results show that celastrol inhibits atherosclerotic plaque developing in apoE−/− mice via inhibiting LOX-1 and oxidative stress.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065477
PMCID: PMC3684610  PMID: 23799016
17.  Differentiation of Central Lung Cancer from Atelectasis: Comparison of Diffusion-Weighted MRI with PET/CT 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60279.
Objective
Prospectively assess the performance of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) for differentiation of central lung cancer from atelectasis.
Materials and Methods
38 consecutive lung cancer patients (26 males, 12 females; age range: 28–71 years; mean age: 49 years) who were referred for thoracic MR imaging examinations were enrolled. MR examinations were performed using a 1.5-T clinical scanner and scanning sequences of T1WI, T2WI, and DWI. Cancers and atelectasis were measured by mapping of the apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) obtained with a b-value of 500 s/mm2.
Results
PET/CT and DW-MR allowed differentiation of tumor and atelectasis in all 38 cases, but T2WI did not allow differentiation in 9 cases. Comparison of conventional T2WI and DW-MRI indicated a higher contrast noise ratio of the central lung carcinoma than the atelectasis by DW-MRI. ADC maps indicated significantly lower mean ADC in the central lung carcinoma than in the atelectasis (1.83±0.58 vs. 2.90±0.26 mm2/s, p<0.0001). ADC values of small cell lung carcinoma were significantly greater than those from squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma (p<0.0001 for both).
Conclusions
DW-MR imaging provides valuable information not obtained by conventional MR and may be useful for differentiation of central lung carcinoma from atelectasis. Future developments may allow DW-MR imaging to be used as an alternative to PET-CT in imaging of patients with lung cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060279
PMCID: PMC3617228  PMID: 23593186
18.  Comparative genomic analyses of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae pathogenic 168 strain and its high-passaged attenuated strain 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:80.
Background
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the causative agent of porcine enzootic pneumonia (EP), a mild, chronic pneumonia of swine. Despite presenting with low direct mortality, EP is responsible for major economic losses in the pig industry. To identify the virulence-associated determinants of M. hyopneumoniae, we determined the whole genome sequence of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168 and its attenuated high-passage strain 168-L and carried out comparative genomic analyses.
Results
We performed the first comprehensive analysis of M. hyopneumoniae strain 168 and its attenuated strain and made a preliminary survey of coding sequences (CDSs) that may be related to virulence. The 168-L genome has a highly similar gene content and order to that of 168, but is 4,483 bp smaller because there are 60 insertions and 43 deletions in 168-L. Besides these indels, 227 single nucleotide variations (SNVs) were identified. We further investigated the variants that affected CDSs, and compared them to reported virulence determinants. Notably, almost all of the reported virulence determinants are included in these variants affected CDSs. In addition to variations previously described in mycoplasma adhesins (P97, P102, P146, P159, P216, and LppT), cell envelope proteins (P95), cell surface antigens (P36), secreted proteins and chaperone protein (DnaK), mutations in genes related to metabolism and growth may also contribute to the attenuated virulence in 168-L. Furthermore, many mutations were located in the previously described repeat motif, which may be of primary importance for virulence.
Conclusions
We studied the virulence attenuation mechanism of M. hyopneumoniae by comparative genomic analysis of virulent strain 168 and its attenuated high-passage strain 168-L. Our findings provide a preliminary survey of CDSs that may be related to virulence. While these include reported virulence-related genes, other novel virulence determinants were also detected. This new information will form the foundation of future investigations into the pathogenesis of M. hyopneumoniae and facilitate the design of new vaccines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-80
PMCID: PMC3626624  PMID: 23384176
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae; Genetic variation; Virulence attenuation; Sequence analysis; Repetitive sequences; Virulence factors
19.  A novel DNA vaccine expressing the Ag85A-HA2 fusion protein provides protection against influenza A virus and Staphylococcus aureus 
Virology Journal  2013;10:40.
Secondary pneumonia due to Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) causes significant morbidity and mortality. The aim of the research was designed a novel DNA vaccine encoding the Mycobacterium tuberculosis secreted antigen Ag85A fused with the influenza A virus (IAV) HA2 protein to provide protection against both influenza and secondary infection with S. aureus. The DNA vaccine vector efficiently expressed the encoded antigen in mammalian cells, as determined by RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescence analysis. Mice were immunized with the vaccine by intramuscular injection before challenge with IAV and S. aureus. The pulmonary and the splenocyte culture IFN-γ levels were significant higher in immunized mice than their respective controls. Although the antibody titer in the HI test was low, the sera of mice immunized with the novel vaccine vector were effective in neutralisation assay in vitro. The vaccine could reduce the loss of body weight in mice during IAV challenge. Both Western blotting and RT-PCR showed that the vaccine markedly enhanced toll like receptor 2 (TLR2) expression in splenocytes after the secondary infection with S. aureus. The survival rate of mice with high TLR2 expression (pEGFP/Ag85A-HA2 or iPR) was significantly increased compared with mice immunized with pEGFP/HA2 after challenge with S. aureus. However, the pulmonary IL-10 concentration and S. aureus titer were significantly decreased in immunized mice, and expression of TLR2 was increased after challenge with S. aureus. These results demonstrated that Ag85A could strengthen the immune response to IAV and S. aureus, and TLR2 was involved in the host response to S. aureus.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-40
PMCID: PMC3598506  PMID: 23369570
Staphylococcus aureus; Influenza a viruse; Mycobacterium tuberculosis secreted antigen Ag85A; DNA vaccine
20.  Role of the nervous system in cancer metastasis 
Oncology Letters  2013;5(4):1101-1111.
The notion that tumors lack innervation was proposed several years ago. However, nerve fibers are irregulatedly found in some tumor tissues. Their terminals interaction with cancer cells are considered to be neuro-neoplastic synapses. Moreover, neural-related factors, which are important players in the development and activity of the nervous system, have been found in cancer cells. Thus, they establish a direct connection between the nervous system and tumor cells. They modulate the process of metastasis, including degradation of base membranes, cancer cell invasion, migration, extravasation and colonization. Peripheral nerve invasion provides another pathway for the spread of cancer cells when blood and lymphatic metastases are absent, which is based on the interactions between the microenvironments of nerve fibers and tumor cells. The nervous system also modulates angiogenesis, the tumor microenvironment, bone marrow, immune functions and inflammatory pathways to influence metastases. Denervation of the tumor has been reported to enhance cancer metastasis. Stress, social isolation and other emotional factors may increase distant metastasis through releasing hormones from the brain, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and autonomic nervous system. Disruption of circadian rhythms will also promote cancer metastasis through direct and indirect actions of the nervous system. Therefore, the nervous system plays an important role in cancer metastasis.
doi:10.3892/ol.2013.1168
PMCID: PMC3629128  PMID: 23599747
nervous system; cancer metastasis
21.  A Model of Interaction between Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NADPH) Oxidase and Apocynin Analogues by Docking Method 
Some apocynin analogues have exhibited outstanding inhibition to NADPH oxidase. In this study, the key interactions between apocynin analogues and NADPH oxidase were analyzed by the docking method. The potential active site was first identified by the SiteID program combining with the key residue CYS378. Afterwards, the compounds in the training set were docked into NADPH oxidase (1K4U) under specific docking constraints to discuss the key interactions between ligands and the receptor. These key interactions were then validated by the consistence between the docking result and the experimental result of the test set. The result reveals that the Pi interaction between apocynin analogues and NADPH oxidase has a direct contribution to inhibition activities, except for H-bond formation and docking score. The key interactions might be valuable to discover and screen apocynin analogues as potent inhibitors of NADPH oxidase.
doi:10.3390/ijms14010807
PMCID: PMC3565292  PMID: 23344042
NADPH oxidase; apocynin analogues; inhibitor; docking
22.  Molecular Adjuvant Ag85A Enhances Protection against Influenza A Virus in Mice Following DNA Vaccination 
Viruses  2012;4(12):3606-3624.
A novel DNA vaccine vector encoding the Mycobacterium tuberculosis secreted antigen Ag85A fused with the influenza A virus (IAV) HA2 protein epitopes, pEGFP/Ag85A-sHA2 (pAg85A-sHA2), was designed to provide protection against influenza. The antigen encoded by the DNA vaccine vector was efficiently expressed in mammalian cells, as determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and fluorescence analyses. Mice were immunized with the vaccine vector by intramuscular injection before challenge with A/Puerto Rico/8/34 virus (PR8 virus). Sera and the splenocyte culture IFN-γ levels were significantly higher in immunized mice compared with the control mice. The novel vaccine group showed a high neutralization antibody titer in vitro. The novel vaccine vector also reduced the viral loads, increased the survival rates in mice after the PR8 virus challenge and reduced the alveolar inflammatory cell numbers. Sera IL-4 concentrations were significantly increased in mice immunized with the novel vaccine vector on Day 12 after challenge with the PR8 virus. These results demonstrated that short HA2 (sHA2) protein epitopes may provide protection against the PR8 virus and that Ag85A could strengthen the immune response to HA2 epitopes, thus, Ag85A may be developed as a new adjuvant for influenza vaccines.
doi:10.3390/v4123606
PMCID: PMC3528282  PMID: 23223215
DNA vaccine; influenza A virus; Mycobacterium tuberculosis secreted antigen Ag85A; HA2 epitope
23.  A new prospect in cancer therapy: targeting cancer stem cells to eradicate cancer 
Chinese Journal of Cancer  2012;31(12):564-572.
According to the cancer stem cell theory, cancers can be initiated by cancer stem cells. This makes cancer stem cells prime targets for therapeutic intervention. Eradicating cancer stem cells by efficient targeting agents may have the potential to cure cancer. In this review, we summarize recent breakthroughs that have improved our understanding of cancer stem cells, and we discuss the therapeutic strategy of targeting cancer stem cells, a promising future direction for cancer stem cell research.
doi:10.5732/cjc.011.10444
PMCID: PMC3777459  PMID: 22507219
Cancer stem cells; targeting therapy; pharmaceutical carriers
24.  Evaluation of Benzo[a]pyrene in Food from China by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Fluorescence Detection 
The occurrence and levels of benzo[a]pyrene in various heat-treated foods from China were evaluated by high-performance liquid chromatography-fluorescence detection. In a total of 119 samples, 105 were found to contain benzo[a]pyrene at levels of 0.03 to 19.75 µg/kg. The benzo[a]pyrene contents in 12 animal source foods were higher than the Chinese maximum permissible level in food (5 µg/kg) and the highest level was 19.75 µg/kg, nearly four times the maximum permissible level. The results revealed a widespread carinogenic public health risk from benzo[a]pyrene in heat-treated foods. The highest benzo[a]pyrene levels were found in animal source samples such as charcoal-grilled and smoked meats, especially pork, beef and sausage, while trace levels of benzo[a]pyrene were present in grain food. Charcoal-grilled vegetables were found to also contain certain levels of benzo[a]pyrene. This study provided new information on benzo[a]pyrene content of a variety of heat-treated foods from China.
doi:10.3390/ijerph9114159
PMCID: PMC3524619  PMID: 23202838
benzo[a]pyrene; pollutant; food analysis; food safety; public health
25.  Evaluation of Acrylamide in Food from China by a LC/MS/MS Method 
Acrylamide is potential carcinogenic compound that possesses neurotoxicity activity. In this study, the levels of acrylamide in 123 selected food samples from China was evaluated using a LC/MS/MS method. One hundred and fifteen (115) out of 123 samples showed positive levels of acrylamide in the range of 0.41 to 4,126.26 µg/kg. Generally, the highest acrylamide levels were found in fried products, such as potato, prawn strips and rice crust, with average values of 604.27, 341.40, and 201.51 µg/kg, respectively. Heated protein-rich food also showed some acrylamide content (ranging from 2.31 to 78.57 µg/kg). The results revealed that a potential acrylamide public health risk occurred in processed snacks, as well as the food consumed daily. This study supplied new information on acrylamide content of a variety of heat-treated foods from China.
doi:10.3390/ijerph9114150
PMCID: PMC3524618  PMID: 23202837
acrylamide; LC/MS/MS; food analysis; food safety; public health

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