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1.  The embodiment of emotion: language use during the feeling of social emotions predicts cortical somatosensory activity 
Complex social emotions involve both abstract cognitions and bodily sensations, and individuals may differ on their relative reliance on these. We hypothesized that individuals’ descriptions of their feelings during a semi-structured emotion induction interview would reveal two distinct psychological styles—a more abstract, cognitive style and a more body-based, affective style—and that these would be associated with somatosensory neural activity. We examined 28 participants’ open-ended verbal responses to admiration- and compassion-provoking narratives in an interview and BOLD activity to the same narratives during subsequent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Consistent with hypotheses, individuals’ affective and cognitive word use were stable across emotion conditions, negatively correlated and unrelated to reported emotion strength in the scanner. Greater use of affective relative to cognitive words predicted more activation in SI, SII, middle anterior cingulate cortex and insula during emotion trials. The results suggest that individuals’ verbal descriptions of their feelings reflect differential recruitment of neural regions supporting physical body awareness. Although somatosensation has long been recognized as an important component of emotion processing, these results offer ‘proof of concept’ that individual differences in open-ended speech reflect different processing styles at the neurobiological level. This study also demonstrates SI involvement during social emotional experience.
PMCID: PMC3791072  PMID: 22798396
emotion; somatosensory; language; fMRI
2.  Expression Profiles of Circulating Cytokines, Chemokines and Immune Cells in Patients With Hepatitis B Virus Infection 
Hepatitis Monthly  2014;14(6):e18892.
Immune cells and molecules play a vital role in initiating, maintaining, regulating immunological homeostasis and inflammation in many pathological and physiological processes; however, the changes on expressions and functions of these cells and molecules in hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection have not been elucidated well.
The current study aimed to determine the expression pattern of different cytokines, chemokines, immune cells in HBV infection and their association with disease progression.
Patients and Methods:
Sixty-nine patients with chronic HBV infection were enrolled. Five immune cell subsets and 46 cytokines and chemokines were analyzed by flow cytometry and Luminex 200.
In comparison to healthy individuals and asymptomatic HBV carriers, expression of CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, and IL-10 were elevated in patients with chronic active HBV and had positive correlation with ALT levels. In contrast, G-CSF, MCP-3, and IFN-γ levels were significantly decreased in patients with chronic active HBV infection in contrast to carriers and healthy individuals; however, these down regulations did not show any correlation with either virological findings or liver inflammation. Although the proportion of CD4+ CD25 high regulatory T cells (Tregs) was higher in patients with HBV infection than in healthy controls, no correlations were found between Tregs and other cytokines or chemokines.
CXCR3-associated chemokines might contribute to liver inflammation in chronic hepatitis B, while MCP-3 and G-CSF were inhibited by HBV infection. Host immune response was suppressed as manifested by an increase in CD4+ CD25high Tregs and IL-10 as well as a decrease in IFN-γ. Exploiting the expression pattern of cytokine and chemokine may help to develop a better understanding of chronic HBV infection pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4071355  PMID: 24976843
Hepatitis B Virus; Cytokines; Chemokines; Immunomodulation
3.  Correlations between social-emotional feelings and anterior insula activity are independent from visceral states but influenced by culture 
The anterior insula (AI) maps visceral states and is active during emotional experiences, a functional confluence that is central to neurobiological accounts of feelings. Yet, it is unclear how AI activity correlates with feelings during social emotions, and whether this correlation may be influenced by culture, as studies correlating real-time AI activity with visceral states and feelings have focused on Western subjects feeling physical pain or basic disgust. Given psychological evidence that social-emotional feelings are cognitively constructed within cultural frames, we asked Chinese and American participants to report their feeling strength to admiration and compassion-inducing narratives during fMRI with simultaneous electrocardiogram recording. Trial-by-trial, cardiac arousal and feeling strength correlated with ventral and dorsal AI activity bilaterally but predicted different variance, suggesting that interoception and social-emotional feeling construction are concurrent but dissociable AI functions. Further, although the variance that correlated with cardiac arousal did not show cultural effects, the variance that correlated with feelings did. Feeling strength was especially associated with ventral AI activity (the autonomic modulatory sector) in the Chinese group but with dorsal AI activity (the visceral-somatosensory/cognitive sector) in an American group not of Asian descent. This cultural group difference held after controlling for posterior insula (PI) activity and was replicated. A bi-cultural East-Asian American group showed intermediate results. The findings help elucidate how the AI supports feelings and suggest that previous reports that dorsal AI activation reflects feeling strength are culture related. More broadly, the results suggest that the brain's ability to construct conscious experiences of social emotion is less closely tied to visceral processes than neurobiological models predict and at least partly open to cultural influence and learning.
PMCID: PMC4165215  PMID: 25278862
arousal; subjective affect; cultural neuroscience; interoception; East-West differences
4.  Intrinsic Default Mode Network Connectivity Predicts Spontaneous Verbal Descriptions of Autobiographical Memories during Social Processing 
Neural systems activated in a coordinated way during rest, known as the default mode network (DMN), also support autobiographical memory (AM) retrieval and social processing/mentalizing. However, little is known about how individual variability in reliance on personal memories during social processing relates to individual differences in DMN functioning during rest (intrinsic functional connectivity). Here we examined 18 participants’ spontaneous descriptions of autobiographical memories during a 2 h, private, open-ended interview in which they reacted to a series of true stories about real people’s social situations and responded to the prompt, “how does this person’s story make you feel?” We classified these descriptions as either containing factual information (“semantic” AMs) or more elaborate descriptions of emotionally meaningful events (“episodic” AMs). We also collected resting state fMRI scans from the participants and related individual differences in frequency of described AMs to participants’ intrinsic functional connectivity within regions of the DMN. We found that producing more descriptions of either memory type correlated with stronger intrinsic connectivity in the parahippocampal and middle temporal gyri. Additionally, episodic AM descriptions correlated with connectivity in the bilateral hippocampi and medial prefrontal cortex, and semantic memory descriptions correlated with connectivity in right inferior lateral parietal cortex. These findings suggest that in individuals who naturally invoke more memories during social processing, brain regions involved in memory retrieval and self/social processing are more strongly coupled to the DMN during rest.
PMCID: PMC3538957  PMID: 23316178
autobiographical memory; default mode network; intrinsic connectivity; social emotion; admiration; compassion
5.  Downregulation of Chloroplast RPS1 Negatively Modulates Nuclear Heat-Responsive Expression of HsfA2 and Its Target Genes in Arabidopsis 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002669.
Heat stress commonly leads to inhibition of photosynthesis in higher plants. The transcriptional induction of heat stress-responsive genes represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis. Although heat stress transcription factor HsfA2 and its downstream target genes are well studied, the regulatory mechanisms by which HsfA2 is activated in response to heat stress remain elusive. Here, we show that chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) is a heat-responsive protein and functions in protein biosynthesis in chloroplast. Knockdown of RPS1 expression in the rps1 mutant nearly eliminates the heat stress-activated expression of HsfA2 and its target genes, leading to a considerable loss of heat tolerance. We further confirm the relationship existed between the downregulation of RPS1 expression and the loss of heat tolerance by generating RNA interference-transgenic lines of RPS1. Consistent with the notion that the inhibited activation of HsfA2 in response to heat stress in the rps1 mutant causes heat-susceptibility, we further demonstrate that overexpression of HsfA2 with a viral promoter leads to constitutive expressions of its target genes in the rps1 mutant, which is sufficient to reestablish lost heat tolerance and recovers heat-susceptible thylakoid stability to wild-type levels. Our findings reveal a heat-responsive retrograde pathway in which chloroplast translation capacity is a critical factor in heat-responsive activation of HsfA2 and its target genes required for cellular homeostasis under heat stress. Thus, RPS1 is an essential yet previously unknown determinant involved in retrograde activation of heat stress responses in higher plants.
Author Summary
As a consequence of global warming, increasing temperature is a serious threat to crop production worldwide and may influence the objectives of breeding programs. As a universal cellular response to a shift up in temperature, the heat stress response represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms. Given that components of the photosynthetic apparatus housed in the chloroplast are the primary susceptible targets of thermal damage in plants, the chloroplasts were proposed as sensors to a shift up in temperature. However, the mechanism by which chloroplasts regulate the expression of nuclear heat stress–responsive gene expression according to the functional state of chloroplasts under heat stress remains unknown. In this study, we have identified chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) as a heat-responsive protein through proteomic screening of heat-responsive proteins. We have established a previously unrecognized molecular connection between the downregulation of RPS1 expression in chloroplast and the activation of HsfA2-dependent heat-responsive genes in nucleus, which is required for heat tolerance in higher plants. Our data provide new insights into the mechanisms whereby plant cells modulate nuclear gene expression to keep accordance with the current status of chloroplasts in response to heat stress.
PMCID: PMC3342936  PMID: 22570631

Results 1-5 (5)