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1.  Efficacy of anti–tumor necrosis factor therapy for extra-articular manifestations in patients with ankylosing spondylitis: a meta–analysis 
We performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy on the frequency of extra–articular manifestations (EAMs) in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
We searched with the terms ‘ankylosing spondylitis’, ‘infliximab’, ‘etanercept’, ‘adalimumab’, ‘golimumab’, ‘certolizumab’, ‘TNF inhibitor/blocker/antagonists’ or ‘anti-TNF’ on MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Library for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of ≥12 weeks with parallel or crossover design of TNF inhibitor versus placebo to treat uveitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and/or psoriasis of AS, published before February 2014.
We found 8 RCTs that fit our criteria. Anti–TNF therapy was associated with less uveitis than placebo in patients with AS (OR: 0.35, 95% CI: 0.15–0.81, P = 0.01). Subgroup analysis showed receptor fusion proteins were more efficacious for uveitis than placebo (OR: 0.30, 95% CI: 0.09–0.94, P = 0.04), but monoclonal antibodies were not (OR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.12–1.49, P = 0.18). Anti–TNF therapy and placebo group did not significantly differ in treating IBD in AS patients (OR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.25–2.29, P = 0.61). In subgroup analysis, neither monoclonal antibodies (OR: 0.45, 95% CI: 0.10–1.92, P = 0.28) nor receptor fusion proteins (OR: 1.52, 95% CI: 0.25–9.25, P = 0.65) significantly differed from placebo in treating IBD. We found no suitable reports on psoriasis.
Anti–TNF therapy was preventive for flares or new onset of uveitis in AS patients, and might be an alternative for these patients. However, monoclonal anti–TNF antibodies and TNF receptor fusion proteins were not efficacious for IBD in AS patients.
PMCID: PMC4328050
Ankylosing spondylitis; Anti-TNF therapy; Extra–articular manifestations; Uveitis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Meta–analysis
2.  Effects of Berberine on Amelioration of Hyperglycemia and Oxidative Stress in High Glucose and High Fat Diet-Induced Diabetic Hamsters In Vivo 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:313808.
This study investigated the effects of berberine on amelioration of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia and the mechanism involved in high glucose and high fat diet-induced diabetic hamsters. Golden hamsters fed with high glucose and high fat diet were medicated with metformin, simvastatin, and low or high dose of berberine (50 and 100 mg·kg−1) for 6 weeks. The results showed that the body weights were significantly lower in berberine-treated groups than control group. Histological analyses revealed that the treatment of berberine inhibited hepatic fat accumulation. Berberine significantly reduced plasma total cholesterol, triglyceride, free fatty acid, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, malondialdehyde, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance, and 8-isoprostane level but significantly increased plasma superoxide dismutase activity. Glucose and insulin levels were significantly reduced in metformin and berberine-treated groups. Glucose tolerance tests documented that berberine-treated mice were more glucose tolerant. Berberine treatment increased expression of skeletal muscle glucose transporter 4 mRNA and significantly decreased liver low density lipoprotein receptor mRNA expression. The study suggested that berberine was effective in lowering blood glucose and lipids levels, reducing the body weight, and alleviating the oxidative stress in diabetic hamsters, which might be beneficial in reducing the cardiovascular risk factors in diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4331319
3.  Assessment of Corneal Epithelial Thickness in Dry Eye Patients 
To investigate the features of corneal epithelial thickness topography with Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) in dry eye patients.
In this cross-sectional study, 100 symptomatic dry eye patients and 35 normal subjects were enrolled. All participants answered the ocular surface disease index questionnaire and were subjected to OCT, corneal fluorescein staining, tear breakup time, Schirmer 1 test without anesthetic (S1t), and meibomian morphology. Several epithelium statistics for each eye, including central, superior, inferior, minimum, maximum, minimum – maximum, and map standard deviation, were averaged. Correlations of epithelial thickness with the symptoms of dry eye were calculated.
The mean (±SD) central, superior, and inferior corneal epithelial thickness was 53.57 (±3.31) μm, 52.00 (±3.39) μm, and 53.03 (±3.67) μm in normal eyes and 52.71 (±2.83) μm, 50.58 (±3.44) μm, and 52.53 (±3.36) μm in dry eyes, respectively. The superior corneal epithelium was thinner in dry eye patients compared with normal subjects (p=0.037),whereas central and inferior epithelium were not statistically different. In the dry eye group, patients with higher severity grades had thinner superior (p = 0.017) and minimum (p < 0.001) epithelial thickness, more wide range (p = 0.032), and greater deviation (p = 0.003). The average central epithelial thickness had no correlation with tear breakup time, S1t, or the severity of meibomian glands, whereas average superior epithelial thickness positively correlated with S1t (r = 0.238, p = 0.017).
Fourier-domain OCT demonstrated that the thickness map of the dry eye corneal epithelium was thinner than normal eyes in the superior region. In more severe dry eye disease patients, the superior and minimum epithelium was much thinner, with a greater range of map standard deviation.
PMCID: PMC4302058  PMID: 25279779
optical coherence tomography; dry eye syndromes; epithelium; corneal; corneal pachymetry; tear film
4.  Health system reforms, violence against doctors and job satisfaction in the medical profession: a cross-sectional survey in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China 
BMJ Open  2014;4(12):e006431.
To explore the factors influencing doctors’ job satisfaction and morale in China, in the context of the ongoing health system reforms and the deteriorating doctor–patient relationship.
Cross-sectional survey using self-completion questionnaires.
Study setting
The survey was conducted from March to May 2012 among doctors at the provincial, county and primary care levels in Zhejiang Province, China.
The questionnaire was completed by 202 doctors. Factors which contributed most to low job satisfaction were low income and long working hours. Provincial level doctors were most dissatisfied while primary care doctors were the least dissatisfied. Three per cent of doctors at high-level hospitals and 27% of those in primary care were satisfied with the salary. Only 7% at high-level hospitals were satisfied with the work hours, compared to 43% in primary care. Less than 10% at high levels were satisfied with the amount of paid vacation time (3%) and paid sick leave (5%), compared with 38% and 41%, respectively, in primary care. Overall, 87% reported that patients were more likely to sue and that patient violence against doctors was increasing. Only 4.5% wanted their children to be doctors. Of those 125 who provided a reason, 34% said poor pay, 17% said it was a high-risk profession, and 9% expressed concerns about personal insecurity or patient violence.
Doctors have low job satisfaction overall. Recruitment and retention of doctors have become major challenges for the Chinese health system. Measures must be taken to address this, in order to ensure recruitment and retention of doctors in the future. These measures must first include reduction of doctors’ workload, especially at provincial hospitals, partly through incentivisation of appropriate utilisation of primary care, increase in doctors’ salary and more effective measures to tackle patient violence against doctors.
PMCID: PMC4281536  PMID: 25552614
health reform; China; patient aggression; doctors; job satisfaction
5.  In vivo high-resolution diffusion tensor imaging of the mouse brain 
NeuroImage  2013;83:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.012.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the laboratory mouse brain provides important macroscopic information for anatomical characterization of mouse models in basic research. Currently, in vivo DTI of the mouse brain is often limited by the available resolution. In this study, we demonstrate in vivo high-resolution DTI of the mouse brain using a cryogenic probe and a modified diffusion-weighted gradient and spin echo (GRASE) imaging sequence at 11.7 Tesla. Three-dimensional (3D) DTI of the entire mouse brain at 0.125 mm isotropic resolution could be obtained in approximately two hours. The high spatial resolution, which was previously only available with ex vivo imaging, enabled non-invasive examination of small structures in the adult and neonatal mouse brains. Based on data acquired from eight adult mice, a group-averaged DTI atlas of the in vivo adult mouse brain with 60 structure segmentations was developed. Comparisons between in vivo and ex vivo mouse brain DTI data showed significant differences in brain morphology and tissue contrasts, which indicate the importance of the in vivo DTI based mouse brain atlas.
PMCID: PMC3797856  PMID: 23769916
diffusion tensor imaging; mouse brain; in vivo; high-resolution; mouse brain; brain atlas; magnetic resonance imaging
6.  Contrast Agents for Photoacoustic and Thermoacoustic Imaging: A Review 
Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) and thermoacoustic imaging (TAI) are two emerging biomedical imaging techniques that both utilize ultrasonic signals as an information carrier. Unique advantages of PAI and TAI are their abilities to provide high resolution functional information such as hemoglobin and blood oxygenation and tissue dielectric properties relevant to physiology and pathology. These two methods, however, may have a limited detection depth and lack of endogenous contrast. An exogenous contrast agent is often needed to effectively resolve these problems. Such agents are able to greatly enhance the imaging contrast and potentially break through the imaging depth limit. Furthermore, a receptor-targeted contrast agent could trace the molecular and cellular biological processes in tissues. Thus, photoacoustic and thermoacoustic molecular imaging can be outstanding tools for early diagnosis, precise lesion localization, and molecular typing of various diseases. The agents also could be used for therapy in conjugation with drugs or in photothermal therapy, where it functions as an enhancer for the integration of diagnosis and therapy. In this article, we present a detailed review about various exogenous contrast agents for photoacoustic and thermoacoustic molecular imaging. In addition, challenges and future directions of photoacoustic and thermoacoustic molecular imaging in the field of translational medicine are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC4284784  PMID: 25530615
photoacoustic imaging; thermoacoustic imaging; molecular imaging; contrast agents
7.  CD117 Expression in Fibroblasts-Like Stromal Cells Indicates Unfavorable Clinical Outcomes in Ovarian Carcinoma Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112209.
The stem cell factor (SCF) receptor CD117 (c-kit), is widely used for identification of hematopoietic stem cells and cancer stem cells. Moreover, CD117 expression in carcinoma cells indicates a poor prognosis in a variety of cancers. However the potential expression in tumor microenvironment and the biological and clinical impact are currently not reported. The expression of CD117 was immunohistochemically evaluated in a serial of 242 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cases. Thirty-eight out of 242 cases were CD117 positive in fibroblast-like stromal cells and 22 cases were positive in EOC cells. Four cases were both positive in fibroblast-like stromal cells and EOC cells for CD117. CD117 expression in fibroblast-like stromal cells in ovarian carcinoma was closely linked to advanced FIGO stage, poor differentiation grade and histological subtype (p<0.05), and it was significantly associated with poor overall survival (OS) and progression free survival (PFS) (Kaplan-Meier analysis; p<0.05, log-rank test). CD117 expression in ovarian carcinoma cells was not associated with these clinicopathological variables. The CD117 positive fibroblast-like stromal cells were all positive for mesenchymal stem/stromal cell (MSC) marker CD73 but negative for fibroblast markers fibroblast activation protein (FAP) and α smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), indicating that the CD117+/CD73+ fibroblast-like stromal cells are a subtype of mesenchymal stem cells in tumor stroma, although further characterization of these cells are needed. It is concluded herewith that the presence of CD117+/CD73+ fibroblast-like stromal cells in ovarian carcinoma is an unfavorable clinical outcome indication.
PMCID: PMC4224427  PMID: 25380303
8.  Effect of cooking temperatures on protein hydrolysates and sensory quality in crucian carp (Carassius auratus) soup 
Cooking methods have a significant impact on flavour compounds in fish soup. The effects of cooking temperatures (55, 65, 75, 85, 95, and 100 °C) on sensory properties and protein hydrolysates were studied in crucian carp (Carassius auratus) soup. The results showed that the soup prepared at 85 °C had the best sensory quality in color, flavour, amour, and soup pattern. Cooking temperature had significant influence on the hydrolysis of proteins in the soup showed by SDS-PAGE result. The contents of water soluble nitrogen (WSN) and non-protein nitrogen (NPN) increased with the cooking temperature, but the highest contents of total peptides and total free amino acids (FAA) were obtained at the cooking temperature of 85 °C. The highest contents of umami-taste active amino acid and branched-chain amino acids were also observed in the 85 °C sample. In conclusion, a cooking temperature of 85 °C was preferred for more excellent flavor and higher nutritional value of crucian carp soup.
PMCID: PMC3602572  PMID: 24425950
Crucian carp; Cooking temperature; Protein; Hydrolysates; Flavour
9.  Anti-Inflammatory Effects of the Bioactive Compound Ferulic Acid Contained in Oldenlandia diffusa on Collagen-Induced Arthritis in Rats 
Objectives. This study aimed to identify the active compounds in Oldenlandia diffusa (OD) decoction and the compounds absorbed into plasma, and to determine whether the absorbed compounds derived from OD exerted any anti-inflammatory effects in rats with collagen induced arthritis (CIA). Methods. The UPLC-PDA (Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography Photo-Diode Array) method was applied to identify the active compounds both in the decoction and rat plasma. The absorbable compound was administered to the CIA rats, and the effects were dynamically observed. X-ray films of the joints and HE stain of synovial tissues were analyzed. The levels of IL-1β and TNF-α in the rats from each group were measured by means of ELISA. The absorbed compound in the plasma of CIA rats was identified as ferulic acid (FA), following OD decoction administration. Two weeks after the administration of FA solution or OD decoction, the general conditions improved compared to the model group. The anti-inflammatory effect of FA was inferior to that of the OD decoction (P < 0.05), based on a comparison of IL-1β TNF-α levels. FA from the OD decoction was absorbed into the body of CIA rats, where it elicited anti-inflammatory responses in rats with CIA. Conclusions. These results suggest that FA is the bioactive compound in OD decoction, and FA exerts its effects through anti-inflammatory pathways.
PMCID: PMC4026839  PMID: 24883069
10.  Salidroside Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Protects against H2O2-Induced Endothelial Dysfunction 
Salidroside (SAL) is an active component of Rhodiola rosea with documented antioxidative properties. The purpose of this study is to explore the mechanism of the protective effect of SAL on hydrogen peroxide- (H2O2-) induced endothelial dysfunction. Pretreatment of the human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) with SAL significantly reduced the cytotoxicity brought by H2O2. Functional studies on the rat aortas found that SAL rescued the endothelium-dependent relaxation and reduced superoxide anion (O2∙−) production induced by H2O2. Meanwhile, SAL pretreatment inhibited H2O2-induced nitric oxide (NO) production. The underlying mechanisms involve the inhibition of H2O2-induced activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and Akt, as well as the redox sensitive transcription factor, NF-kappa B (NF-κB). SAL also increased mitochondrial mass and upregulated the mitochondrial biogenesis factors, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-coactivator-1alpha (PGC-1α), and mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) in the endothelial cells. H2O2-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, as demonstrated by reduced mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and ATP production, was rescued by SAL pretreatment. Taken together, these findings implicate that SAL could protect endothelium against H2O2-induced injury via promoting mitochondrial biogenesis and function, thus preventing the overactivation of oxidative stress-related downstream signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC4020198  PMID: 24868319
11.  Current Status of Pediatric Labeling in China and the near Future Efforts Needed for the Country 
Background: Children are recognized as “therapeutic orphan” in many parts of the world, one expression of this is the lack of adequate pediatric labeling information. Some research studies have been done to investigate the pediatric labeling condition in the U.S. and other countries, but no national studies had been carried out in China. This survey was conducted aiming to inquire the current situation of pediatric labeling in China.
Methods: We investigated 6020 child-applied medicines from 15 representative Chinese hospitals, and analyzed the information according to the dosage forms, therapeutic category, and label information integrity.
Results: Among all these medicines, only 238 (3.95%) are pediatric products, the rest are adult formulations with an extended use in children. The major pediatric formulations were injection (45.95%), tablet (23.69%), and capsule (4.93%), respectively. Alimentary tract/metabolism medicine (24.70%) and infections medicines (20.60%) had the most species. In prescription drugs, only 210 of 5187 (4%) medicines had adequate pediatric labeling information. The main cause of this deficiency was lack of evidence derived from pediatric clinical trials.
Conclusion: The dilemma of “therapeutic orphan” requires significant attention. Inadequate labeling information and lack of pediatric clinical trials were two prominent issues in China. It calls for more efforts from pharmaceutical industries, regulatory agencies, and legislature in China to collaborate and find solution to improve the situation.
PMCID: PMC3972450  PMID: 24724075
pediatric; label; information; integrity; China
12.  A stochastic filtering approach to recover strain images from quasi-static ultrasound elastography 
Model-based reconstruction algorithms have shown potentials over conventional strain-based methods in quasi-static elastographic image by using realistic finite element (FE) or bio-mechanical model constraints. However, it is still difficult to properly handle the discrepancies between the model constraint and ultrasound data, and the measurement noise.
In this paper, we explore the usage of Kalman filtering algorithm for the estimation of strain imaging in quasi-static ultrasound elastography. The proposed strategy formulates the displacement distribution through biomechanical models, and the ultrasound-derived measurements through observation equations. Through this filtering strategy, the discrepancies are quantitatively modelled as one Gaussian white noise, and the measurement noise of ultrasound data is modelled as another independent Gaussian white noise. The optimal estimation of kinematic functions, i.e. the full displacement and velocity field, are computed through this Kalman filter. Then the strain images can be easily calculated from the estimated displacement field.
The accuracy and robustness of our proposed framework is first evaluated in synthetic data in controlled conditions, and the performance of this framework is then evaluated in the real data collected from elastography phantoms and patients with favourable results.
The potential of our algorithm is to provide the distribution of mechanically meaningful strain under a proper biomechanical model constraint. We address the model-data discrepancy and measurement noise by introducing process noise and measurement noise in our framework, and then the mechanically meaningful strain is estimated through the Kalman filter in the minimum mean square error (MMSE) sense.
PMCID: PMC3925777  PMID: 24521481
13.  The Relationship between the 24 h Blood Pressure Variability and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness: A Compared Study 
Large blood pressure variability (BPV) will not only harm the target organ but also increase the possibility of the cardiovascular events. Since the damage of vascular system always leads to the alteration of the carotid wall, the structure and function of the carotid artery have been extensively examined in previous studies. In this work we conduct a study (60 subjects, aged 33–79) to evaluate the relationship between BPV and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in Shenzhen, which is one large city in the southern area of China. In our study, the blood pressure (BP) was collected using the 24 h ambulatory BP monitoring, and the BPV was evaluated using standard deviation (SD), coefficient of variation (CV), and average real variability (ARV) during 24 h, daytime and nighttime. All the IMT measurements are collected by ultrasound. The results show that both the daytime, and 24 h systolic BPV evaluated by three indices are positively associated with IMT. Among them, daytime systolic BPV evaluated with ARV is the best variable to represent the increasing of carotid IMT. In addition, after adjusting by age, sex, smoking, hypertension, and mean BP and PP values, 24 h diastolic BPV evaluated with SD also presents the favorable performance.
PMCID: PMC3934393  PMID: 24660021
14.  High Expression of IGFBP7 in Fibroblasts Induced by Colorectal Cancer Cells Is Co-Regulated by TGF-β and Wnt Signaling in a Smad2/3-Dvl2/3-Dependent Manner 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85340.
Fibroblasts in the tumor microenvironment are a key determinant in cancer progression and may be a promising target for cancer therapy. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) is known as a tumor suppressor in colorectal cancer (CRC). The present study investigated the inductive mechanism of IGFBP7 expression in fibroblasts by supernatant from the CRC cell line, SW620. The results showed that the expression of IGFBP7 was up-regulated in the fibroblasts when treated with SW620 supernatant and exogenous TGF-β1. The IGFBP7 induced by SW620 supernatant or TGF-β1 was partially inhibited by the TGF-β1 specific antibody AF and TGF-β1 receptor antagonist SB431542. The Wnt signaling-targeted genes, c-Myc, CCND1 and the proteins Dvl2/3, were all up-regulated in fibroblasts expressing high levels of IGFBP7, and the up-regulation could be inhibited both by the Wnt signaling antagonist Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) and by the TGF-β1 receptor antagonist SB431542. In conclusion, CRC cells promote the high expression of IGFBP7 in fibroblasts, most likely through the co-regulation of TGF-β and Wnt signaling in a Smad2/3-Dvl2/3 dependent manner. Taken together, these data suggest that the fibroblasts could be a novel therapeutic target in tumor therapy.
PMCID: PMC3888407  PMID: 24427302
15.  Cyclooxygenase-2 and B-cell lymphoma-2 expression in cystitis glandularis and primary vesicle adenocarcinoma 
BMC Urology  2014;14:2.
Although cystitis glandularis (CG) is a common benign urinary bladder epithelial abnormality, it remains unclear whether CG is a premalignant lesion. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) overexpression has recently been reported as a potential tumor initiator or promoter. We evaluated and compared COX-2 and Bcl-2 expression in CG, chronic cystitis (CC), and primary vesicle adenocarcinoma (ADC) tissues.
We conducted a retrospective study to investigate COX-2 and Bcl-2 levels in CG and ADC. We obtained tissue samples from 75 patients (including 11 cases of CC, 30 typical cases of CG (CGTP), 30 cases of intestinal CG (CGIT), and 4 cases of ADC) between 1989 and 2009 from the Surgical Pathology Archives of the No. 2 People’s Hospital of Zhenjiang, affiliated with Jiangsu University. COX-2 and Bcl-2 immunohistochemical staining was performed on all tissues. Nine normal bladder epithelial specimens were evaluated as control samples. Correlations between COX-2 and Bcl-2 expression in CG were also analyzed.
COX-2 and Bcl-2 expression was higher in the ADC group compared to other groups (p < 0.05). COX-2 and Bcl-2 levels were higher in the CGIT group compared to the CGTP group (p = 0.000 for both). The CGIT and CGTP groups both showed higher COX-2 expression compared to the CC group (p = 0.000 for both). There was no difference in Bcl-2 expression between the CGTP and CC groups (p = 0.452). Additionally, the difference in COX-2 and Bcl-2 expression between the control and CC groups was also insignificant (p = 0.668 and p = 0.097, respectively). Finally, we found that COX-2 and Bcl-2 levels were positively related (r = 0.648, p = 0.000).
COX-2 and Bcl-2 overexpression in the CG group suggests that CG, particularly the intestinal type, may be a premalignant lesion that converts into a tumor in the presence of carcinogens.
PMCID: PMC3880845  PMID: 24387269
Cyclooxygenase-2; Bcl-2; Cystitis
16.  Female Specific Association between NNMT Gene and Schizophrenia in a Han Chinese population 
Accumulating evidence has shown that alterations in one carbon metabolism might play an important role in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia (SZ). Nicotinamide-N-methyltransferase (NNMT) is one of the key enzymes of one-carbon metabolism. To examine whether NNMT gene was associated with SZ in Han Chinese population, we selected seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in NNMT gene, and investigated its association with SZ from a cohort of 42 SZ patients and 86 healthy controls by Mass-ARRAY technology. Statistical analyses revealed that one (rs694539) of the SNPs in the female subgroup showed significant difference between SZ patients and controls both in genotypic (p= 0.0170) and allelic frequencies (p = 0.0059). We also found that the frequency of haplotype 'A G G C T C T' in the female patients was significantly higher than in controls (p=0.0015). Our results suggest that NNMT rs694539 may have a role in the etiology of SZ in a Han Chinese female population.
PMCID: PMC4196124  PMID: 25317069
Schizophrenia (SZ); nicotinamide-N-methyltransferase(NNMT); polymorphisms; rs694539.
17.  Isolation and Structural Characterization of a Novel Antioxidant Mannoglucan from a Marine Bubble Snail, Bullacta exarata (Philippi) 
Marine Drugs  2013;11(11):4464-4477.
Bullacta exarata is one of the most economically important aquatic species in China, noted for not only its delicious taste and nutritional value, but also for its pharmacological activities. In order to explore its potential in medical applications, a mannoglucan designated as BEPS-IB was isolated and purified from the foot muscle of B. exarata after papain digestion. Chemical composition analysis indicated BEPS-IB contained mainly d-glucose and d-mannose in a molar ratio of 1:0.52, with an average molecular weight of about 94 kDa. The linkage information was determined by methylation analysis, and the anomeric configuration and chain linkage were confirmed by IR and 2D NMR. The results indicated BEPS-IB was composed of Glcp6Manp heptasaccharide repeating unit in the backbone, with occasional branch chains of mannose residues (14%) occurring in the backbone mannose. Further antioxidant assay indicated BEPS-IB exhibited positive antioxidant activity in scavenging superoxide radicals and reducing power. This is the first report on the structure and bioactivity of the mannoglucan from the B. exarata.
PMCID: PMC3853739  PMID: 24284423
Bullacta exarata; structure; polysaccharide; mannoglucan
18.  UPLC-PDA determination of paeoniflorin in rat plasma following the oral administration of Radix Paeoniae Alba and its effects on rats with collagen-induced arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease with characteristics of chronic, progressive inflammatory joint synovial damage, which mainly encroaches upon the synovium of the joint. The use of traditional medicine to treat RA slows the development of RA to a certain extent; however, it often has numerous side-effects. Therefore, the focus of RA research is the identification of a new, safe and effective medicine. The aim of the present study was to use an ultra performance liquid chromatography and photo diode array (UPLC-PDA) method to detect the paeoniflorin component in a Radix Paeoniae Alba decoction and in rat plasma following the oral administration of Radix Paeoniae Alba decoction. In addition, the effects of paeoniflorin on collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in rats were investigated. The results indicate that a UPLC-PDA method for determining the presence of paeoniflorin in the Radix Paeoniae Alba decoction was successfully established. The method was fast, simple, sensitive, precise and valid. Paeoniflorin was shown to be a bioactive component of the Radix Paeoniae Alba decoction that was absorbed into rat plasma. Paeoniflorin significantly improved the disease resistant ability of RA rats and reduced the levels of the inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β and TNF-α, thereby inhibiting inflammation and bone erosion in the rats with CIA. The observations are likely to lay the foundation for further study of the mechanism of paeoniflorin in the treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC3861030  PMID: 24348792
ultra performance liquid chromatography; Radix Paeoniae Alba; paeoniflorin; collagen-induced arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; bizhongxiao decoction
19.  Tramadol and Propentofylline Coadministration Exerted Synergistic Effects on Rat Spinal Nerve Ligation-Induced Neuropathic Pain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72943.
Neuropathic pain is an intractable clinical problem. Drug treatments such as tramadol have been reported to effectively decrease neuropathic pain by inhibiting the activity of nociceptive neurons. It has also been reported that modulating glial activation could also prevent or reverse neuropathic pain via the administration of a glial modulator or inhibitor, such as propentofylline. Thus far, there has been no clinical strategy incorporating both neuronal and glial participation for treating neuropathic pain. Therefore, the present research study was designed to assess whether coadministration of tramadol and propentofylline, as neuronal and glial activation inhibitors, respectively, would exert a synergistic effect on the reduction of rat spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced neuropathic pain. Rats underwent SNL surgery to induce neuropathic pain. Pain behavioral tests were conducted to ascertain the effect of drugs on SNL-induced mechanical allodynia with von-Frey hairs. Proinflammatory factor interleukin-1β (IL-1β) expression was also detected by Real-time RT-PCR. Intrathecal tramadol and propentofylline administered alone relieved SNL-induced mechanical allodynia in a dose-dependent manner. Tramadol and propentofylline coadministration exerted a more potent effect in a synergistic and dose dependent manner than the intrathecal administration of either drug alone. Real-time RT-PCR demonstrated IL-1β up-expression in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn after the lesion, which was significantly decreased by tramadol and propentofylline coadministration. Inhibiting proinflammatory factor IL-1β contributed to the synergistic effects of tramadol and propentofylline coadministration on rat peripheral nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain. Thus, our study provided a rationale for utilizing a novel strategy for treating neuropathic pain by blocking the proinflammatory factor related pathways in the central nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3756942  PMID: 24009718
20.  E-cadherin plays an essential role in collective directional migration of large epithelial sheets 
In wound healing and development, large epithelial sheets migrate collectively, in defined directions, and maintain tight cell–cell adhesion. This type of movement ensures an essential function of epithelia, a barrier, which is lost when cells lose connection and move in isolation. Unless wounded, epithelial sheets in cultures normally do not have overall directional migration. Cell migration is mostly studied when cells are in isolation and in the absence of mature cell–cell adhesion; the mechanisms of the migration of epithelial sheets are less well understood. We used small electric fields (EFs) as a directional cue to instigate and guide migration of epithelial sheets. Significantly, cells in monolayer migrated far more efficiently and directionally than cells in isolation or smaller cell clusters. We demonstrated for the first time the group size-dependent directional migratory response in several types of epithelial cells. Gap junctions made a minimal contribution to the directional collective migration. Breaking down calcium-dependent cell–cell adhesion significantly reduced directional sheet migration. Furthermore, E-cadherin blocking antibodies abolished migration of cell sheets. Traction force analysis revealed an important role of forces that cells in the leading rows exert on the substratum. With EF, the traction forces of the leading edge cells coordinated in directional re-orientation. Our study thus identifies a novel mechanism—E-cadherin dependence and coordinated traction forces of leading cells in collective directional migration of large epithelial sheets.
PMCID: PMC3459324  PMID: 22410739
Collective cell migration; Electric fields; Galvanotaxis/electrotaxis; E-cadherin; Cell–cell adhesion; Traction force
21.  MiR-17 Partly Promotes Hematopoietic Cell Expansion through Augmenting HIF-1α in Osteoblasts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70232.
Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) regulation is highly dependent on interactions with the marrow microenvironment, of which osteogenic cells play a crucial role. While evidence is accumulating for an important role of intrinsic miR-17 in regulating HSCs and HPCs, whether miR-17 signaling pathways are also necessary in the cell-extrinsic control of hematopoiesis hereto remains poorly understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using the immortalized clone with the characteristics of osteoblasts, FBMOB-hTERT, in vitro expansion, long-term culture initiating cell (LTC-IC) and non-obese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient disease (NOD/SCID) mice repopulating cell (SRC) assay revealed that the ectopic expression of miR-17 partly promoted the ability of FBMOB-hTERT to support human cord blood (CB) CD34+ cell expansion and maintain their multipotency. It also seemed that osteoblastic miR-17 was prone to cause a specific expansion of the erythroid lineage. Conversely, deficient expression of miR-17 partly inhibited the hematopoietic supporting ability of FBMOB-hTERT. We further identified that HIF-1α is responsible for, at least in part, the promoted hematopoietic supporting ability of FBMOB-hTERT caused by miR-17. HIF-1α expression is markedly enhanced in miR-17 overexpressed FBMOB-hTERT upon interaction with CB CD34+ cells compared to other niche associated factors. More interestingly, the specific erythroid lineage expansion of CB CD34+ cells caused by osteoblastic miR-17 was abrogated by HIF-1α knock down.
Our data demonstrated that CB CD34+ cell expansion can be partly promoted by osteoblastic miR-17, and in particular, ectopic miR-17 can cause a specific expansion of the erythroid lineage through augmenting HIF-1α in osteoblasts.
PMCID: PMC3723828  PMID: 23936170
22.  In-Situ Formation of Cobalt-Phosphate Oxygen-Evolving Complex-Anchored Reduced Graphene Oxide Nanosheets for Oxygen Reduction Reaction 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2263.
Oxygen conversion process between O2 and H2O by means of electrochemistry or photochemistry has lately received a great deal of attention. Cobalt-phosphate (Co-Pi) catalyst is a new type of cost-effective artificial oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) with amorphous features during photosynthesis. However, can such Co-Pi OEC also act as oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalyst in electrochemical processes? The question remains unanswered. Here for the first time we demonstrate that Co-Pi OEC does be rather active for the ORR. Particularly, Co-Pi OEC anchoring on reduced graphite oxide (rGO) nanosheet is shown to possess dramatically improved electrocatalytic activities. Differing from the generally accepted role of rGO as an “electron reservoir”, we suggest that rGO serves as “peroxide cleaner” in enhancing the electrocatalytic behaviors. The present study may bridge the gap between photochemistry and electrochemistry towards oxygen conversion.
PMCID: PMC3719074  PMID: 23877331
23.  The identification of 14 new genes for meat quality traits in chicken using a genome-wide association study 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:458.
Meat quality is an important economic trait in chickens. To identify loci and genes associated with meat quality traits, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of F2 populations derived from a local Chinese breed (Beijing-You chickens) and a commercial fast-growing broiler line (Cobb-Vantress).
In the present study, 33 association signals were detected from the compressed mixed linear model (MLM) for 10 meat quality traits: dry matter in breast muscle (DMBr), dry matter in thigh muscle (DMTh), intramuscular fat content in breast muscle (IMFBr), meat color lightness (L*) and yellowness (b*) values, skin color L*, a* (redness) and b* values, abdominal fat weight (AbFW) and AbFW as a percentage of eviscerated weight (AbFP). Relative expressions of candidate genes identified near significant signals were compared using samples of chickens with High and Low phenotypic values. A total of 14 genes associated with IMFBr, meat color L*, AbFW, and AbFP, were differentially expressed between the High and Low phenotypic groups. These genes are, therefore, prospective candidate genes for meat quality traits: protein tyrosine kinase (TYRO3) and microsomal glutathione S-transferase 1 (MGST1) for IMFBr; collagen, type I, alpha 2 (COL1A2) for meat color L*; and RET proto-oncogene (RET), natriuretic peptide B (NPPB) and sterol regulatory element binding transcription factor 1 (SREBF1) for the abdominal fat (AbF) traits.
Based on the association signals and differential expression of nearby genes, 14 candidate loci and genes for IMFBr, meat L* and b* values, and AbF are identified. The results provide new insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying meat quality traits in chickens.
PMCID: PMC3707761  PMID: 23834466
Chicken; GWAS; Meat quality traits; Abdominal fat; Candidate genes
24.  Hypothermia amplifies somatosensory evoked potentials in uninjured rats 
Temperature fluctuations significantly impact neurologic injuries in intensive care units. As benefits of therapeutic hypothermia continue to unfold, many of these discoveries are generated by studies in animal models undergoing experimental procedures under the influence of anesthetics. We studied the effect of induced hypothermia on neural electrophysiological signals of an uninjured brain in a rodent model while under isoflurane. Fourteen rats were divided into two groups (n=7 each), based on electrode placement, at either frontal-occipital (FO) or primary somatosensory (SS) cortical locations. Neural signals were recorded during normothermia (T = 36.5–37.5°C), mild hypothermia (T = 32–34°C) and hyperthermia (T = 38.5–39.5°C). Burst-suppression ratio (BSR) was used to evaluate EEGs, and amplitude-latency analysis was used to assess SSEPs. Hypothermia was characterized by an increased BSR (Mean+STD) of 0.58±0.06 in hypothermia versus 0.16±0.13 in normothermia, p<0.001 in FO; and 0.30±0.13 in hypothermia versus 0.04±0.04 in normothermia, p=0.006 in SS. There was potentiation of SSEP (2.89 ±1.24 times normothermic baseline in hypothermia, p=0.02) and prolonged peak latency (N10: 10.8±0.4 msec in hypothermia versus 9.1±0.3 msec in normothermia; P15: 16.2±0.8 msec in hypothermia versus 13.7±0.6 msec in normothermia; p<0.001), whereas hyperthermia was primarily marked by shorter peak latencies (N10: 8.6±0.2msec, P15: 12.6±0.4 msec; p<0.001). In the absence of brain injury in a rodent model, hypothermia induces significant increase to the SSEP amplitude while increasing SSEP latency. Hypothermia also suppressed EEGs at different regions of the brain by different degrees. The changes to SSEP and EEG are both reversible with subsequent rewarming.
PMCID: PMC3372632  PMID: 22441433
somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs); EEG; burst suppression; hypothermia; anesthesia
25.  Public Place Smoke-Free Regulations, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Related Beliefs, Awareness, Attitudes, and Practices among Chinese Urban Residents 
Objective: To evaluate the association between smoke-free regulations in public places and secondhand smoke exposure and related beliefs, awareness, attitudes, and behavior among urban residents in China. Methods: We selected one city (Hangzhou) as the intervention city and another (Jiaxing) as the comparison. A structured self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection, and implemented at two time points across a 20-month interval. Both unadjusted and adjusted logistic methods were considered in analyses. Multiple regression procedures were performed in examining variation between final and baseline measures. Results: Smoke-free regulations in the intervention city were associated with a significant decline in personal secondhand smoke exposure in government buildings, buses or taxis, and restaurants, but there was no change in such exposure in healthcare facilities and schools. In terms of personal smoking beliefs, awareness, attitudes, and practices, the only significant change was in giving quitting advice to proximal family members. Conclusions: There was a statistically significant association between implementation of smoke-free regulations in a city and inhibition of secondhand tobacco smoking exposure in public places. However, any such impact was limited. Effective tobacco control in China will require comprehensive laws implemented fully and supported by penalties and a combination of strong public health education.
PMCID: PMC3717741  PMID: 23749054
tobacco control; smoke-free regulations; secondhand smoke

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