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1.  Pyrosequencing Reveals Fungal Communities in the Rhizosphere of Xinjiang Jujube 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:972481.
Fungi are important soil components as both decomposers and plant symbionts and play a major role in ecological and biogeochemical processes. However, little is known about the richness and structure of fungal communities. DNA sequencing technologies allow for the direct estimation of microbial community diversity, avoiding culture-based biases. We therefore used 454 pyrosequencing to investigate the fungal communities in the rhizosphere of Xinjiang jujube. We obtained no less than 40,488 internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA reads, the number of each sample was 6943, 6647, 6584, 6550, 6860, and 6904, and we used bioinformatics and multivariate statistics to analyze the results. The index of diversity showed greater richness in the rhizosphere fungal community of a 3-year-old jujube than in that of an 8-year-old jujube. Most operational taxonomic units belonged to Ascomycota, and taxonomic analyses identified Hypocreales as the dominant fungal order. Our results demonstrated that the fungal orders are present in different proportions in different sampling areas. Redundancy analysis (RDA) revealed a significant correlation between soil properties and the abundance of fungal phyla. Our results indicated lower fungal diversity in the rhizosphere of Xinjiang jujube than that reported in other studies, and we hope our findings provide a reference for future research.
PMCID: PMC4313056
2.  Proinflammatory effects and molecular mechanisms of interleukin-17 in intestinal epithelial cell line HT-29 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(47):17924-17931.
AIM: To evaluate the proinflammatory effects and molecular mechanisms of interleukin (IL)-17 in intestinal epithelial cell line HT-29.
METHODS: HT-29 cells were cultured with IL-17, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, or the combination of both IL-17 and TNF-α. Real-time PCR and Western blot were used to measure the gene expression levels of neutrophil chemokines CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL5, CXCL6, IL-8 and TH-17 cell chemokine CCL20, the phosphorylation levels of p38 and TNF-α, and the expression level of IL-8, after using the p38 inhibitor in HT-29 cells. The stable Act1 knockdown HT-29 cell line was established to further test the phosphorylation changes of p38, after using IL-17 and TNF-α.
RESULTS: After HT-29 cells were cultured with IL-17 and TNF-α, the expression levels of neutrophil chemokines (CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL5, CXCL6, IL-8) and Th17 chemokine (CCL20) significantly improved (24.96 ± 2.53, 28.47 ± 2.87, 38.08 ± 2.72, 33.47 ± 2.41, 31.7 ± 2.38, 44.37 ± 2.73, respectively), and the differences were all statistically significant (P < 0.01). Western blot results showed that IL-17 obviously enhanced the phosphorylation level of p38, which was induced by TNF-α. Compared with the control group, the expression level of IL-8 significantly declined (9.47 ± 1.36 vs 3.06 ± 0.67, P < 0.01) when TH-29 cells were cultured with IL-17 and TNF-α. p38 inhibition assay showed that the p38 pathway played an essential role in the inflammatory response induced by IL-17. p38 phosphorylation levels could not be changed after using IL-17 and TNF-α in the stable Act1 knockdown HT-29 cell line.
CONCLUSION: IL-17 significantly promoted the gene expression levels of TNF-α-induced neutrophil chemokines and Th17 cell chemokine. It is obvious that IL-17 and TNF-α have synergistic effects on p38.
PMCID: PMC4273142  PMID: 25548490
IL-17; HT-29; TNF-α; Inflammatory bowel disease
3.  Polyethylene glycol–polylactic acid nanoparticles modified with cysteine–arginine–glutamic acid–lysine–alanine fibrin-homing peptide for glioblastoma therapy by enhanced retention effect 
For a nanoparticulate drug-delivery system, crucial challenges in brain-glioblastoma therapy are its poor penetration and retention in the glioblastoma parenchyma. As a prevailing component in the extracellular matrix of many solid tumors, fibrin plays a critical role in the maintenance of glioblastoma morphology and glioblastoma cell differentiation and proliferation. We developed a new drug-delivery system by conjugating polyethylene glycol–polylactic acid nanoparticles (NPs) with cysteine–arginine–glutamic acid–lysine–alanine (CREKA; TNPs), a peptide with special affinity for fibrin, to mediate glioblastoma-homing and prolong NP retention at the tumor site. In vitro binding tests indicated that CREKA significantly enhanced specific binding of NPs with fibrin. In vivo fluorescence imaging of glioblastoma-bearing nude mice, ex vivo brain imaging, and glioblastoma distribution demonstrated that TNPs had higher accumulation and longer retention in the glioblastoma site over unmodified NPs. Furthermore, pharmacodynamic results showed that paclitaxel-loaded TNPs significantly prolonged the median survival time of intracranial U87 glioblastoma-bearing nude mice compared with controls, Taxol, and NPs. These findings suggested that TNPs were able to target the glioblastoma and enhance retention, which is a valuable strategy for tumor therapy.
PMCID: PMC4235507  PMID: 25419130
CREKA peptide; nanoparticles; retention effect; paclitaxel; glioblastoma
4.  The complex jujube genome provides insights into fruit tree biology 
Nature Communications  2014;5:5315.
The jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.), a member of family Rhamnaceae, is a major dry fruit and a traditional herbal medicine for more than one billion people. Here we present a high-quality sequence for the complex jujube genome, the first genome sequence of Rhamnaceae, using an integrated strategy. The final assembly spans 437.65 Mb (98.6% of the estimated) with 321.45 Mb anchored to the 12 pseudo-chromosomes and contains 32,808 genes. The jujube genome has undergone frequent inter-chromosome fusions and segmental duplications, but no recent whole-genome duplication. Further analyses of the jujube-specific genes and transcriptome data from 15 tissues reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying some specific properties of the jujube. Its high vitamin C content can be attributed to a unique high level expression of genes involved in both biosynthesis and regeneration. Our study provides insights into jujube-specific biology and valuable genomic resources for the improvement of Rhamnaceae plants and other fruit trees.
The jujube is a major dry fruit crop in China and is commonly used for medicinal purposes. Here the authors sequence the genome and transcriptome of the most widely cultivated jujube cultivar, Dongzao, and highlight the genetic and molecular basis of agronomically important jujube traits, such as vitamin C content.
PMCID: PMC4220462  PMID: 25350882
5.  Effects of Winter Cover Crops Straws Incorporation on CH4 and N2O Emission from Double-Cropping Paddy Fields in Southern China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108322.
Residue management in cropping systems is believed to improve soil quality. However, the effects of residue management on methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from paddy field in Southern China have not been well researched. The emissions of CH4 and N2O were investigated in double cropping rice (Oryza sativa L.) systems with straw returning of different winter cover crops by using the static chamber-gas chromatography technique. A randomized block experiment with three replications was established in 2004 in Hunan Province, China, including rice–rice–ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum L.) (Ry-R-R), rice–rice–Chinese milk vetch (Astragalus sinicus L.) (Mv-R-R) and rice–rice with winter fallow (Fa-R-R). The results showed that straw returning of winter crops significantly increased the CH4 emission during both rice growing seasons when compared with Fa-R-R. Ry-R-R plots had the largest CH4 emissions during the early rice growing season with 14.235 and 15.906 g m−2 in 2012 and 2013, respectively, when Ry-R-R plots had the largest CH4 emission during the later rice growing season with 35.673 and 38.606 g m−2 in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Ry-R-R and Mv-R-R also had larger N2O emissions than Fa-R-R in both rice seasons. When compared to Fa-R-R, total N2O emissions in the early rice growing season were increased by 0.05 g m−2 in Ry-R-R and 0.063 g m−2 in Mv-R-R in 2012, and by 0.058 g m−2 in Ry-R-R and 0.068 g m−2 in Mv-R-R in 2013, respectively. Similar result were obtained in the late rice growing season, and the total N2O emissions were increased by 0.104 g m−2 in Ry-R-R and 0.073 g m−2 in Mv-R-R in 2012, and by 0.108 g m−2 in Ry-R-R and 0.076 g m−2 in Mv-R-R in 2013, respectively. The global warming potentials (GWPs) from paddy fields were ranked as Ry-R-R>Mv-R-R>Fa-R-R. As a result, straw returning of winter cover crops has significant effects on increase of CH4 and N2O emission from paddy field in double cropping rice system.
PMCID: PMC4182729  PMID: 25271923
6.  Triggering the succinate receptor GPR91 enhances pressure overload-induced right ventricular hypertrophy 
Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) leads to pressure overload in the right ventricle (RV) and induces right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH). GPR91 is an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that has been characterized as a receptor for succinate, which increases in RVH; however, its role remains unknown. Methods and results: We studied succinate-GPR91 signaling in a pulmonary arterial banding (PAB) model of RVH in the SD rats due to pressure overload. We report that GPR91 was located in cardiomyocytes. We found that the expressions of GPR91 and p-Akt in the RV significantly increased in the PAB model compared with the sham. In the PAB rats, the treatment of succinate further increased the p-Akt levels and aggravated RVH in vivo. In in vitro studies, succinate stimulated the up-regulation of the hypertrophic gene marker anp. All these effects were inhibited by the antagonist of PI3K, wortmannin, both in vivo and in vitro. Finally, we found that the GPR91-PI3K/Akt axis was also up-regulated compared with the sham in human RVH. Conclusions: Our results suggest that succinate-GPR91 is involved in RVH via PI3K/Akt signaling in vivo and in vitro. GPR91 may be a novel therapeutic target for RVH induced by pressure overload.
PMCID: PMC4203155  PMID: 25337184
Succinate G-protein-receptor 91; PI3K/Akt; right ventricular hypertrophy
7.  Mu-opioidergic modulation differs in deep and superficial wide-dynamic range dorsal horn neurons in mice 
Neuroscience letters  2013;549:157-162.
The spinal cord dorsal horn is an important action site for morphine analgesia. Wide-dynamic range (WDR) neurons in the dorsal horn are essential to spinal pain transmission and show increased excitability after repetitive noxious drive (windup). In light of differences in mu-opioid receptor distribution and neurophysiological properties of WDR neurons between deep and superficial dorsal horn, we recorded extracellular single-unit activity of WDR neurons from deep (350–700 μm) and superficial (<350 μm) dorsal horn in C57BL/6 mice and compared their responses to spinal superfusion of morphine (0.5 mM, 30 μl) and naloxone (1 mM, 30 μl). The windup level to repetitive electrical stimulation of 1.0 Hz (16 pulses, suprathreshold for C-fiber activation, 2.0 ms) was significantly decreased by morphine in deep (n=8), but not superficial (n=11), WDR neurons. However, the steady C-component response to graded intra-cutaneous electrical stimuli (0.01–5.0 mA, 2 ms) was significantly depressed by morphine only in superficial neurons. In separate experiments, spinal administration of naloxone facilitated the development of windup to 0.2 Hz stimulation in deep (n=10), but not superficial (n=8), WDR neurons. Accordingly, morphine and naloxone modulation of neuronal activity may be related to a specific effect on neuronal sensitization/plasticity in deep WDR neurons, whereas morphine inhibition may depress acute noxious inputs to superficial WDR neurons. Our study suggests that mu-opioidergic modulation may be different in deep and superficial WDR neurons.
PMCID: PMC3749299  PMID: 23748039
mu-opioid receptor; windup; wide-dynamic range neurons; mice
8.  Combined detection of serum UL16-binding protein 2 and macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 improves early diagnosis and prognostic prediction of pancreatic cancer 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(5):2096-2102.
Pancreatic cancer (PC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. There is no effective serum biomarker for the early diagnosis of PC at present. Although serum UL16-binding protein 2 (ULBP2) and macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1) levels are reported to be elevated in PC patients, the diagnostic and prognostic value of ULBP2 and MIC-1 alone or in combination remains unknown. The aim of the present case-control study was to compare the diagnostic value of ULBP2, MIC-1 and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) in 359 serum samples, consisting of 152 cases of PC, 20 cases of pre-pancreatic cancer, 91 cases of chronic pancreatitis (CP) and 96 normal controls (NC). All patients were followed up for a median of 2 years. It was found that the serum levels of ULBP2, MIC-1 and CA19-9 were significantly higher in the PC patients compared with those in the NC group. In distinguishing PC from the CP, the highest sensitivity and specificity were ULBP2 (0.878) and CA19-9 (0.816), respectively. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of ULBP2 was 0.923, which was the highest of the three biomarkers. MIC-1 was the optimal choice for the diagnosis of early-stage PC (area under the curve, 0.831). Overall, MIC-1 in combination with ULBP2 improved the diagnostic accuracy in differentiating PC from CP and NC. In addition, a higher level of MIC-1 was correlated with a poorer prognosis, as calculated by the Kaplan-Meier test (P=0.039). Patients with serum MIC-1 levels of ≥1,932 ng/ml had a median survival time of 15.62±2.44 months (mean ± standard deviation) vs. 18.66±2.43 months in patients with a lower level of MIC-1. Overall, combined detection of serum MIC-1 and ULBP2 improved the diagnostic accuracy in differentiating PC from CP and NC, and serum MIC-1 level alone was a predictor of survival in the patients with PC.
PMCID: PMC4186586  PMID: 25295097
macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1; serum biomarker; pancreatic cancer; UL16-binding protein 2
9.  Association between perioperative blood transfusion and early postoperative cognitive dysfunction in aged patients following total hip replacement surgery 
Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences  2014;119(3):262-267.
Accumulating evidence suggests that enhanced inflammatory responses contribute to the pathogenesis of postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD). Blood transfusion can trigger an enhancement of acute inflammatory responses. Therefore, we hypothesized that perioperative blood transfusion is associated with a higher risk of POCD in aged patients following total hip replacement surgery.
Material and methods
Patients older than 65 years undergoing elective total hip replacement surgery were enrolled from October 2011 to December 2012. Neurocognitive tests were evaluated at baseline and at 7 d after surgery by a Mini-Mental State Test. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine risk factors associated with POCD.
Fifty-six patients (27.3%) developed POCD 7 d postoperatively. Patients who developed POCD were older, had a lower education level and preoperative hemoglobin concentration, had more blood loss, and had a lower body weight (p < 0.05). Patients with POCD were more likely to receive red blood cells (RBCs) transfusion (51.8% versus 31.5%; p < 0.05). A multivariable logistic regression model identified older age, lower education level, and perioperative blood transfusion of more than 3 units as independent risk factors for POCD 7 d postoperatively.
Our data suggested that perioperative blood transfusion of more than 3 units of RBCs is an independent risk factor for POCD in aged patients following total hip replacement surgery.
PMCID: PMC4116766  PMID: 24345210
Elderly; hip replacement surgery; postoperative cognitive dysfunction; RBCs transfusion
10.  Moyamoya syndrome associated with Graves’ disease: a case series study 
The aim of this study was to describe the clinical and radiological findings of patients with moyamoya syndrome and Graves’ disease. Possible mechanisms predisposing these individuals to ischemic stroke are discussed.
We retrospectively analyzed 12 consecutive patients with both moyamoya syndrome and Graves’ disease. Moyamoya vasculopathy was diagnosed by digital subtract angiography or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). The clinical characteristics, laboratory data, vascular radiological characteristics and outcome were reported.
All patients were female and mean age was 33.33±12.65 years. Stenosis or occlusion of bilateral terminal internal carotid artery and/or proximal anterior/middle cerebral arteries was found in nine patients. Among them, three patients displayed asymmetrical stenosis. In addition, there were three patients with probable unilateral moamoya syndrome. Eleven patients presented with ischemic stroke and/or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and one with dizziness. Thyroid function tests demonstrated elevated thyroid hormone levels and suppressed thyroid stimulating hormone levels in all the patients with ischemic events. All patients received anti-thyroid therapy and two had recurrent ischemic attack after drug withdrawal.
Moyamoya syndrome associated Graves’ disease often presented with asymmetric stenosis or occlusion. We hypothesize cerebrovascular hemodynamic changes due to thyrotoxicosis contribute to the ischemic events.
PMCID: PMC4200642  PMID: 25333052
Moyamoya syndrome; Graves’ disease; thyrotoxicosis; treatment
11.  Tumor suppressor XAF1 induces apoptosis, inhibits angiogenesis and inhibits tumor growth in hepatocellular carcinoma 
Oncotarget  2014;5(14):5403-5415.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP)-associated factor 1 (XAF1), a XIAP-binding protein, is a tumor suppressor gene. XAF1 was silent or expressed lowly in most human malignant tumors. However, the role of XAF1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of XAF1 on tumor growth and angiogenesis in hepatocellular cancer cells. Our results showed that XAF1 expression was lower in HCC cell lines SMMC-7721, Hep G2 and BEL-7404 and liver cancer tissues than that in paired non-cancer liver tissues. Adenovirus-mediated XAF1 expression (Ad5/F35-XAF1) significantly inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in HCC cells in dose- and time- dependent manners. Infection of Ad5/F35-XAF1 induced cleavage of caspase -3, -8, -9 and PARP in HCC cells. Furthermore, Ad5/F35-XAF1 treatment significantly suppressed tumor growth in a xenograft model of liver cancer cells. Western Blot and immunohistochemistry staining showed that Ad5/F35-XAF1 treatment suppressed expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is associated with tumor angiogenesis, in cancer cells and xenograft tumor tissues. Moreover, Ad5/F35-XAF1 treatment prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice. Our results demonstrate that XAF1 inhibits tumor growth by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting tumor angiogenesis. XAF1 may be a promising target for liver cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC4170645  PMID: 24980821
XAF1; Hepatocellular cancer; Apoptosis; Angiogenesis; VEGF
12.  Idiopathic mesenteric phlebosclerosis associated with long-term use of medical liquor: Two case reports and literature review 
A 62-year-old woman was admitted to our hospital in 2011 because of recurrent abdominal pain, nausea and constipation for six months. Computed tomography enterography (CTE) showed tortuous thread-like calcifications in the ileocolic vein and right colic vein, while colonoscopy revealed purple-blue mucosa extending from the cecum to the splenic flexure. Based on the results of these tests, the patient was diagnosed with idiopathic mesenteric phlebosclerosis (IMP). She had a history of Chinese medical liquor intake for one and a half years and her symptoms subsided after conservative treatment. In 2013, a 63-year-old male patient who presented with recurrent lower right abdominal pain, bloating, melena and diarrhea for fifteen months was admitted to our institution. Colonoscopy and CTE led to the diagnosis of IMP. He also used Chinese medical liquor for approximately 12 years. The patient underwent total colectomy and the postoperative course was uneventful. We searched for previously published reports on similar cases and analyzed the clinical data of 50 cases identified in PubMed. As some of these patients admitted use of Chinese medicines, we hypothesize that Chinese medicines may play a role in the pathogenesis of IMP.
PMCID: PMC4017073  PMID: 24833888
Idiopathic mesenteric phlebosclerosis; Chinese medical liquor; Ileus; Colonoscopy; Computed tomography enterography
13.  Association between NOD2/CARD15 gene polymorphisms and Crohn's disease in Chinese Zhuang patients 
AIM: To assess the relationship between the P268S, JW1 and N852S polymorphisms and Crohn’s disease (CD) susceptibility in Zhuang patients in Guangxi, China.
METHODS: Intestinal tissues from 102 Zhuang [48 CD and 54 ulcerative colitis (UC)] and 100 Han (50 CD and 50 UC) unrelated patients with inflammatory bowel disease and 72 Zhuang and 78 Han unrelated healthy individuals were collected in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region from January 2009 to March 2013. Genomic DNA was extracted using the phenol chloroform method. The P268S, JW1 and N852S polymorphisms were amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), detected by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), and verified by gene sequencing.
RESULTS: Heterozygous mutation of P268S in the NOD2/CARD15 gene was detected in 10 CD cases (six Zhuang and four Han), two Han UC cases, and one Zhuang healthy control, and P268S was strongly associated with the Chinese Zhuang and Han CD populations (P = 0.016 and 0.022, respectively). No homozygous mutant P268S was detected in any of the groups. No significant difference was found in P268S genotype and allele frequencies between UC and control groups (P > 0.05). Patients with CD who carried P268S were likely to be ≤ 40 years of age (P = 0.040), but were not significantly different with regard to race, lesion site, complications, and other clinical features (P > 0.05). Neither JW1 nor N852S polymorphisms of the NOD2/CARD15 gene were found in any of the subjects (P > 0.05).
CONCLUSION: P268S polymorphism may be associated with CD susceptibility in the Zhuang population in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. In contrast, JW1 and N852S polymorphisms may not be related to CD susceptibility in these patients.
PMCID: PMC4000511  PMID: 24782627
Crohn’s disease; NOD2/CARD15; Single nucleotide polymorphisms
14.  Improved yield and Zn accumulation for rice grain by Zn fertilization and optimized water management*  
Zinc (Zn) deficiency and water scarcity are major challenges in rice (Oryza sativa L.) under an intensive rice production system. This study aims to investigate the impact of water-saving management and different Zn fertilization source (ZnSO4 and Zn-EDTA) regimes on grain yield and Zn accumulation in rice grain. Different water managements, continuous flooding (CF), and alternate wetting and drying (AWD) were applied during the rice growing season. Compared with CF, the AWD regime significantly increased grain yield and Zn concentrations in both brown rice and polished rice. Grain yield of genotypes (Nipponbare and Jiaxing27), on the average, was increased by 11.4%, and grain Zn concentration by 3.9% when compared with those under a CF regime. Zn fertilization significantly increased Zn density in polished rice, with a more pronounced effect of ZnSO4 being observed as compared with Zn-EDTA, especially under an AWD regime. Decreased phytic acid content and molar ratio of phytic acid to Zn were also noted in rice grains with Zn fertilization. The above results demonstrated that water management of AWD combined with ZnSO4 fertilization was an effective agricultural practice to elevate grain yield and increase Zn accumulation and bioavailability in rice grains.
PMCID: PMC3989155  PMID: 24711357
Rice; Alternate wetting and drying; Soil fertilization; Zinc
15.  The relationship between hepatic resistin overexpression and inflammation in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14:39.
The relationship between resistin and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is not clear, some studies claimed that serum resistin levels were associated with neither the presence of NASH nor its severity, others declared that serum resistin was related with inflammation and fibrosis in NASH. Our animal study verified that the distribution of resistin in the liver is correlated with inflammation in NASH. However, there is no pertinent study in humans.
Thirty patients with NASH, 28 simple steatosis, and 43 controls were recruited. Blood was collected for resistin, liver chemistries, fasting insulin and some metabolic parameters. Liver histology was scored according to NAFLD activity scoring system. Hepatic resistin expression was examined by real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemistry. Resistin protein expression was confirmed by western blotting in 13 patients with concomitant NAFLD and gallstone.
Serum resistin was significantly elevated in both NASH and simple steatotic subjects compared with controls (all P < 0.05). Hepatic resistin was significantly increased in NASH patients in both mRNA and protein levels than those in simple steatosis and control subjects (all P < 0.05). Both serum and hepatic resistin had a correlation with obesity, but not with insulin resistance. The distribution of resistin positive cells was predominantly in perisinusoidal cells (such as Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells) in human NASH. Multivariate analysis revealed that waist-hip ratio, higher serum triglyceride, and hyperresistinemia were independent factors related to higher grade of steatosis; whereas hepatic resistin and serum cytokeratin predict NASH and severity of liver fibrosis.
Hepatic resistin overexpression in NASH patients is associated with the severity of liver inflammation and fibrosis. Liver-derived resistin may be involved in the pathogenesis of human NASH.
PMCID: PMC3942781  PMID: 24559185
Resistin; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Inflammation; Adipokine
16.  DNA Methylation in Oocytes and Liver of Female Mice and Their Offspring: Effects of High-Fat-Diet–Induced Obesity 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;122(2):159-164.
Background: Maternal obesity has adverse effects on oocyte quality, embryo development, and the health of the offspring.
Objectives: To understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the negative effects of maternal obesity, we investigated the DNA methylation status of several imprinted genes and metabolism-related genes.
Methods: Using a high-fat-diet (HFD)-induced mouse model of obesity, we analyzed the DNA methylation of several imprinted genes and metabolism-related genes in oocytes from control and obese dams and in oocytes and liver from their offspring. Analysis was performed using combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) and bisulfite sequencing.
Results: DNA methylation of imprinted genes in oocytes was not altered in either obese dams or their offspring; however, DNA methylation of metabolism-related genes was changed. In oocytes of obese mice, the DNA methylation level of the leptin (Lep) promoter was significantly increased and that of the Ppar-α promoter was reduced. Increased methylation of Lep and decreased methylation of Ppar-α was also observed in the liver of female offspring from dams fed the high-fat diet (OHFD). mRNA expression of Lep and Ppar-α was also significantly altered in the liver of these OHFD. In OHFD oocytes, the DNA methylation level of Ppar-α promoter was increased.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that DNA methylation patterns of several metabolism-related genes are changed not only in oocytes of obese mice but also in oocytes and liver of their offspring. These data may contribute to the understanding of adverse effects of maternal obesity on reproduction and health of the offspring.
Citation: Ge ZJ, Luo SM, Lin F, Liang QX, Huang L, Wei YC, Hou Y, Han ZM, Schatten H, Sun QY. 2014. DNA methylation in oocytes and liver of female mice and their offspring: effects of high-fat-diet–induced obesity. Environ Health Perspect 122:159–164;
PMCID: PMC3915265  PMID: 24316659
17.  A multi-center, randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial of estrogens to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and loss of memory in women: design and baseline characteristics 
Clinical trials (London, England)  2008;5(5):10.1177/1740774508096313.
Observational studies and small clinical trials suggested that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) decreases risk of cognitive loss and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in postmenopausal women and may have value in primary prevention.
A clinical trial was designed to determine if HRT delays AD or memory loss. This report describes the rationale and original design of the trial and details extensive modifications that were required to respond to unanticipated findings that emerged from other studies during the course of the trial.
The trial was designed as a multi-center, placebo-controlled primary prevention trial for women 65 years of age or older with a family history of dementia. Recruitment from local sites was supplemented by centralized efforts to use names of Medicare beneficiaries. Inclusion criteria included good general health and intact memory functioning. Participants were randomized to HRT or placebo in a 1:1 ratio. Assignment was stratified by hysterectomy status and site. The primary outcomes were incident AD and memory decline on neuropsychological testing.
Enrollment began in March 1998. In response to the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) May 2002 report of increased incidence of heart disease, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and breast cancer among women randomized to HRT, participants were re-consented with a revised consent form. Procedural modifications, including discontinuation of study medication and a modification of the planned primary outcome based on a final enrollment below the target enrollment (N = 477), were enacted in response to the subsequent WHI Memory Study report of increased risk of dementia and poorer cognitive function with HRT. The mean length of treatment exposure prior to discontinuation was 2.14 years. Participants’ mean age at baseline was 72.8; mean education was 14.2 years. Minority participation was 19% and 34% had a hysterectomy. The study continues to follow these participants for a total of 5 years blind to the original medication assignment.
Results reported from the WHI during the course of this study mandated extensive procedural modifications, including discontinuing recruitment before completion and halting study medication. Alternative strategies for study redesign that were considered are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3884686  PMID: 18827045
18.  Mating Experience and Food Deprivation Modulate Odor Preference and Dispersal in Drosophila melanogaster Males 
Rotting fruits offer all of the known resources required for the livelihood of Drosophila melanogaster Meigen (Diptera: Drosophilidae). During fruit fermentation, carbohydrates and proteins are decomposed to produce volatile alcohols and amines, respectively. It is hypothesized that D. melanogaster adults can detect these chemical cues at a distance to identify and locate the decaying fruits. In the present paper, we compared the olfactory responses and movement of male flies varying in mating status and nutritional state to methanol, ethanol, and ammonia sources using a glass Y-tube olfactometer. In general, ethanol vapor at low to moderate concentrations repelled more hungry mated males than satiated ones. In contrast, methanol showed little difference in the attractiveness to males at different nutritional states and mating status. Moreover, ammonia attracted more hungry mated males. The attractiveness increased almost linearly with ammonia concentration from lowest to highest. When ammonia and artificial diet were put together in the odor arm, the responses of male flies to mixed odor mimicked the response to ammonia. Furthermore, odorant concentration, mating status, and nutritional state affected the flies' dispersal. Mated and starved males dispersed at a higher rate than virgin and satiated ones. Thus, our results showed that starved, mated males increased dispersal and preferred ammonia that originated from protein.
PMCID: PMC4222301  PMID: 25368075
starvation; odorant; orientation
19.  Neurochemical properties of BDNF-containing neurons projecting to rostral ventromedial medulla in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray 
The periaqueductal gray (PAG) modulates nociception via a descending pathway that relays in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) and terminates in the spinal cord. Previous behavioral pharmacology and electrophysiological evidence suggests that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in descending pain modulation, likely through the PAG-RVM pathway. However, detailed information is still lacking on the distribution of BDNF, activation of BDNF-containing neurons projecting to RVM in the condition of pain, and neurochemical properties of these neurons within the PAG. Through fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunofluorescent staining, the homogenous distributions of BDNF mRNA and protein were observed in the four subregions of PAG. Both neurons and astrocytes expressed BDNF, but not microglia. By combining retrograde tracing methods and formalin pain model, there were more BDNF-containing neurons projecting to RVM being activated in the ventrolateral subregion of PAG (vlPAG) than other subregions of PAG. The neurochemical properties of BDNF-containing projection neurons in the vlPAG were investigated. BDNF-containing projection neurons expressed the autoreceptor TrkB in addition to serotonin (5-HT), neurotensin (NT), substance P (SP), calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP), nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and parvalbumin (PV) but not tyrosine decarboxylase (TH). It is speculated that BDNF released from projection neurons in the vlPAG might participate in the descending pain modulation through enhancing the presynaptic release of other neuroactive substances (NSs) in the RVM.
PMCID: PMC4238372  PMID: 25477786
periaqueductal gray (PAG); rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM); brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF); projection neurons; neurochemical properties
20.  Diabetic uterus environment may play a key role in alterations of DNA methylation of several imprinted genes at mid-gestation in mice 
Maternal diabetes mellitus not only has severe deleterious effects on fetal development, but also it affects transmission to the next generation. However, the underlying mechanisms for these effects are still not clear.
We investigated the methylation patterns and expressions of the imprinted genes Peg3, Snrpn, and H19 in mid-gestational placental tissues and on the whole fetus utilizing the streptozotocin (STZ)-induced hyperglycemic mouse model for quantitative analysis of methylation by PCR and quantitative real-time PCR. The protein expression of Peg3 was evaluated by Western blot.
We found that the expression of H19 was significantly increased, while the expression of Peg3 was significantly decreased in dpc10.5 placentas of diabetic mice. We further found that the methylation level of Peg3 was increased and that of H19 was reduced in dpc10.5 placentas of diabetic mice. When pronuclear embryos of normal females were transferred to normal/diabetic (NN/ND) pseudopregnant females, the methylation and expression of Peg3 in placentas was also clearly altered in the ND group compared to the NN group. However, when the pronuclear embryos of diabetic female were transferred to normal pesudopregnant female mice (DN), the methylation and expression of Peg3 and H19 in dpc10.5 placentas was similar between the two groups.
We suggest that the effects of maternal diabetes on imprinted genes may primarily be caused by the adverse uterus environment.
PMCID: PMC3896855  PMID: 24378208
Maternal diabetes milieu; DNA imprinting; Placenta
21.  Clinical Features of Patients with Dysthymia in a Large Cohort of Han Chinese Women with Recurrent Major Depression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83490.
Dysthymia is a form of chronic mild depression that has a complex relationship with major depressive disorder (MDD). Here we investigate the role of environmental risk factors, including stressful life events and parenting style, in patients with both MDD and dysthymia. We ask whether these risk factors act in the same way in MDD with and without dysthymia.
We examined the clinical features in 5,950 Han Chinese women with MDD between 30–60 years of age across China. We confirmed earlier results by replicating prior analyses in 3,950 new MDD cases. There were no significant differences between the two data sets. We identified sixteen stressful life events that significantly increase the risk of dysthymia, given the presence of MDD. Low parental warmth, from either mother or father, increases the risk of dysthymia. Highly threatening but short-lived threats (such as rape) are more specific for MDD than dysthymia. While for MDD more severe life events show the largest odds ratio versus controls, this was not seen for cases of MDD with or without dysthymia.
There are increased rates of stressful life events in MDD with dysthymia, but the impact of life events on susceptibility to dysthymia with MDD differs from that seen for MDD alone. The pattern does not fit a simple dose-response relationship, suggesting that there are moderating factors involved in the relationship between environmental precipitants and the onset of dysthymia. It is possible that severe life events in childhood events index a general susceptibility to chronic depression, rather than acting specifically as risk factors for dysthymia.
PMCID: PMC3873934  PMID: 24386213
22.  Combination treatment for myeloproliferative neoplasms using JAK and pan-class I PI3K inhibitors 
Current JAK2 inhibitors used for myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) treatment are not specific enough to selectively suppress aberrant JAK2 signalling and preserve physiological JAK2 signalling. We tested whether combining a JAK2 inhibitor with a series of serine threonine kinase inhibitors, targeting nine signalling pathways and already used in clinical trials, synergized in inhibiting growth of haematopoietic cells expressing mutant and wild-type forms of JAK2 (V617F) or thrombopoietin receptor (W515L). Out of 15 kinase inhibitors, the ZSTK474 phosphatydylinositol-3′-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor molecule showed strong synergic inhibition by Chou and Talalay analysis with JAK2 and JAK2/JAK1 inhibitors. Other pan-class I, but not gamma or delta specific PI3K inhibitors, also synergized with JAK2 inhibitors. Synergy was not observed in Bcr-Abl transformed cells. The best JAK2/JAK1 and PI3K inhibitor combination pair (ruxolitinib and GDC0941) reduces spleen weight in nude mice inoculated with Ba/F3 cells expressing TpoR and JAK2 V617F. It also exerted strong inhibitory effects on erythropoietin-independent erythroid colonies from MPN patients and JAK2 V617F knock-in mice, where at certain doses, a preferential inhibition of JAK2 V617F mutated progenitors was detected. Our data support the use of a combination of JAK2 and pan-class I PI3K inhibitors in the treatment of MPNs.
PMCID: PMC4117552  PMID: 24251790
combination treatment; kinases; myeloproliferative neoplasms; JAK2; PI3K
23.  Oral Zinc Supplementation for the Treatment of Acute Diarrhea in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
Nutrients  2013;5(11):4715-4740.
Evidence supporting the impact of therapeutic zinc supplementation on the duration and severity of diarrhea among children under five is largely derived from studies conducted in South Asia. China experiences a substantial portion of the global burden of diarrhea, but the impact of zinc treatment among children under five has not been well documented by previously published systematic reviews on the topic. We therefore conducted a systematic literature review, which included an exhaustive search of the Chinese literature, in an effort to update previously published estimates of the effect of therapeutic zinc. We conducted systematic literature searches in various databases, including the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and abstracted relevant data from studies meeting our inclusion and exclusion criteria. We used STATA 12.0 to pool select outcomes and to generate estimates of percentage difference and relative risk comparing outcomes between zinc and control groups. We identified 89 Chinese and 15 non-Chinese studies for the review, including studies in 10 countries from all WHO geographic regions, and analyzed a total of 18,822 diarrhea cases (9469 zinc and 9353 control). None of the included Chinese studies had previously been included in published pooled effect estimates. Chinese and non-Chinese studies reported the effect of therapeutic zinc supplementation on decreased episode duration, stool output, stool frequency, hospitalization duration and proportion of episodes lasting beyond three and seven days. Pooling Chinese and non-Chinese studies yielded an overall 26% (95% CI: 20%−32%) reduction in the estimated relative risk of diarrhea lasting beyond three days among zinc-treated children. Studies conducted in and outside China report reductions in morbidity as a result of oral therapeutic zinc supplementation for acute diarrhea among children under five years of age. The WHO recommendation for zinc treatment of diarrhea episodes should be supported in all low- and middle-income countries.
PMCID: PMC3847757  PMID: 24284615
zinc; children; global health; China
24.  Abnormal Chloride Homeostasis in the Substancia Nigra Pars Reticulata Contributes to Locomotor Deficiency in a Model of Acute Liver Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e65194.
Altered chloride homeostasis has been thought to be a risk factor for several brain disorders, while less attention has been paid to its role in liver disease. We aimed to analyze the involvement and possible mechanisms of altered chloride homeostasis of GABAergic neurons within the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) in the motor deficit observed in a model of encephalopathy caused by acute liver failure, by using glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 - green fluorescent protein knock-in transgenic mice.
Alterations in intracellular chloride concentration in GABAergic neurons within the SNr and changes in the expression of two dominant chloride homeostasis-regulating genes, KCC2 and NKCC1, were evaluated in mice with hypolocomotion due to hepatic encephalopathy (HE). The effects of pharmacological blockade and/or activation of KCC2 and NKCC1 functions with their specific inhibitors and/or activators on the motor activity were assessed.
In our mouse model of acute liver injury, chloride imaging indicated an increase in local intracellular chloride concentration in SNr GABAergic neurons. In addition, the mRNA and protein levels of KCC2 were reduced, particularly on neuronal cell membranes; in contrast, NKCC1 expression remained unaffected. Furthermore, blockage of KCC2 reduced motor activity in the normal mice and led to a further deteriorated hypolocomotion in HE mice. Blockade of NKCC1 was not able to normalize motor activity in mice with liver failure.
Our data suggest that altered chloride homeostasis is likely involved in the pathophysiology of hypolocomotion following HE. Drugs aimed at restoring normal chloride homeostasis would be a potential treatment for hepatic failure.
PMCID: PMC3669273  PMID: 23741482
25.  First Detection of VIM-4 Metallo-β-Lactamase-Producing Citrobacter freundii in China 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2012;33(1):84-85.
PMCID: PMC3535204  PMID: 23301229

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