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1.  Early detection of diabetic kidney disease: Present limitations and future perspectives 
World Journal of Diabetes  2016;7(14):290-301.
Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is one of the most common diabetic complications, as well as the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease around the world. To prevent the dreadful consequence, development of new assays for diagnostic of DKD has always been the priority in the research field of diabetic complications. At present, urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) are the standard methods for assessing glomerular damage and renal function changes in clinical practice. However, due to diverse tissue involvement in different individuals, the so-called “non-albuminuric renal impairment” is not uncommon, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, the precision of creatinine-based GFR estimates is limited in hyperfiltration status. These facts make albuminuria and eGFR less reliable indicators for early-stage DKD. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in the understanding of the pathogenesis of DKD, along with the elucidation of its genetic profiles and phenotypic expression of different molecules. With the help of ever-evolving technologies, it has gradually become plausible to apply the thriving information in clinical practice. The strength and weakness of several novel biomarkers, genomic, proteomic and metabolomic signatures in assisting the early diagnosis of DKD will be discussed in this article.
PMCID: PMC4958689  PMID: 27525056
Diabetic kidney disease; Early diagnosis; Genomics; Biomarkers
2.  Recent progress in the genetics of diabetic microvascular complications 
World Journal of Diabetes  2015;6(5):715-725.
Diabetic complications including diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy, and neuropathy are as major causes of morbidity and mortality in diabetes individuals worldwide and current therapies are still unsatisfactory. One of the reasons for failure to develop effective treatment is the lack of fundamental understanding for underlying mechanisms. Genetic studies are powerful tools to dissect disease mechanism. The heritability (h2) was estimated to be 0.3-0.44 for diabetic nephropathy and 0.25-0.50 for diabetic retinopathy respectively. Previous linkage studies for diabetic nephropathy have identified overlapped linkage regions in 1q43-44, 3q21-23, 3q26, 10p12-15, 18q22-23, 19q13, 22q11-12.3 in multiple ethnic groups. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of diabetic nephropathy have been conducted in several populations. However, most of the identified risk loci could not be replicated by independent studies with a few exceptions including those in ELMO1, FRMD3, CARS, MYO16/IRS2, and APOL3-MYH9 genes. Functional studies of these genes revealed the involvement of cytoskeleton reorganization (especially non-muscle type myosin), phagocytosis of apoptotic cells, fibroblast migration, insulin signaling, and epithelial clonal expansion in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. Linkage analyses of diabetic retinopathy overlapped only in 1q36 region and current results from GWAS for diabetic retinopathy are inconsistent. Conclusive results from genetic studies for diabetic neuropathy are lacking. For now, small sample sizes, confounding by population stratification, different phenotype definitions between studies, ethnic-specific associations, the influence of environmental factors, and the possible contribution of rare variants may explain the inconsistencies between studies.
PMCID: PMC4458500  PMID: 26069720
Microvascular complications; Nephropathy; Retionopathy; Neuropathy; Diabetes
3.  The Role of Organelle Stresses in Diabetes Mellitus and Obesity: Implication for Treatment 
The type 2 diabetes pandemic in recent decades is a huge global health threat. This pandemic is primarily attributed to the surplus of nutrients and the increased prevalence of obesity worldwide. In contrast, calorie restriction and weight reduction can drastically prevent type 2 diabetes, indicating a central role of nutrient excess in the development of diabetes. Recently, the molecular links between excessive nutrients, organelle stress, and development of metabolic disease have been extensively studied. Specifically, excessive nutrients trigger endoplasmic reticulum stress and increase the production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, leading to activation of stress signaling pathway, inflammatory response, lipogenesis, and pancreatic beta-cell death. Autophagy is required for clearance of hepatic lipid clearance, alleviation of pancreatic beta-cell stress, and white adipocyte differentiation. ROS scavengers, chemical chaperones, and autophagy activators have demonstrated promising effects for the treatment of insulin resistance and diabetes in preclinical models. Further results from clinical trials are eagerly awaited.
PMCID: PMC4646985  PMID: 26613076
4.  Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 Inhibitor Use Is Not Associated With Acute Pancreatitis in High-Risk Type 2 Diabetic Patients 
Medicine  2016;95(7):e2603.
Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text
To analyze the association between use of DPP-4 inhibitors and acute pancreatitis in high-risk type 2 diabetic patients.
A retrospective nationwide cohort study was conducted using the Taiwan National Health Insurance claim database. The risk associated with sitagliptin was compared to that with acarbose, a second-line antidiabetic drug prescribed for patients with similar diabetes severity and with a known neutral effect on pancreatitis. Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, a total of 8526 sitagliptin initiators and 8055 acarbose initiators who had hypertriglyceridemia or prior hospitalization history for acute pancreatitis were analyzed for the risk of hospitalization due to acute pancreatitis stratified for baseline propensity score.
In the crude analysis, sitagliptin was associated with a decreased risk of acute pancreatitis (hazard ratio [HR] 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.62–0.88) compared to acarbose in diabetic patients with prior history of hospitalization for pancreatitis or hypertriglyceridemia. The association was abolished after stratification for propensity score quintiles (adjusted HR 0.95; 95% CI: 0.79–1.16). Similar results were found separately in both patients’ histories of prior hospitalization of acute pancreatitis (adjusted HR 0.97; 95% CI: 0.76–1.24) and those with hypertriglyceridemia (adjusted HR 0.86; 95% CI: 0.65–1.13). No significant association was found for different durations or accumulative doses of sitagliptin. In the stratified analysis, no significant effect modification was found in relation to patients’ characteristics.
Use of sitagliptin was not associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis in high-risk diabetic patients with hypertriglyceridemia or with history of acute pancreatitis.
PMCID: PMC4998601  PMID: 26886601
6.  Glucagon-like peptide-1 prevents methylglyoxal-induced apoptosis of beta cells through improving mitochondrial function and suppressing prolonged AMPK activation 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:23403.
Accumulation of methylglyoxal (MG) contributes to glucotoxicity and mediates beta cell apoptosis. The molecular mechanism by which GLP-1 protects MG-induced beta cell apoptosis remains unclear. Metformin is a first-line drug for treating type 2 diabetes associated with AMPK activation. However, whether metformin prevents MG-induced beta cell apoptosis is controversial. Here, we explored the signaling pathway involved in the anti-apoptotic effect of GLP-1, and investigated whether metformin had an anti-apoptotic effect on beta cells. MG treatment induced apoptosis of beta cells, impaired mitochondrial function, and prolonged activation of AMP-dependent protein kinase (AMPK). The MG-induced pro-apoptotic effects were abolished by an AMPK inhibitor. Pretreatment of GLP-1 reversed MG-induced apoptosis, and mitochondrial dysfunction, and suppressed prolonged AMPK activation. Pretreatment of GLP-1 reversed AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide riboside (AICAR)-induced apoptosis, and suppressed prolonged AMPK activation. However, metformin neither leads to beta cell apoptosis nor ameliorates MG-induced beta cell apoptosis. In parallel, GLP-1 also prevents MG-induced beta cell apoptosis through PKA and PI3K-dependent pathway. In conclusion, these data indicates GLP-1 but not metformin protects MG-induced beta cell apoptosis through improving mitochondrial function, and alleviating the prolonged AMPK activation. Whether adding GLP-1 to metformin provides better beta cell survival and delays disease progression remains to be validated.
PMCID: PMC4800673  PMID: 26997114
7.  Genetic Variation in the Human SORBS1 Gene is Associated With Blood Pressure Regulation and Age at Onset of Hypertension 
Medicine  2016;95(10):e2970.
Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text
Essential hypertension is a complex disease involving multiple genetic and environmental factors. A human gene containing a sorbin homology domain and 3 SH3 domains in the C-terminal region, termed SORBS1, plays a significant role in insulin signaling. We previously found a significant association between the T228A polymorphism and insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It has been hypothesized that a set of genes responsible for insulin resistance may be closely linked with genes susceptible to the development of hypertension. Identification of insulin resistance-related genetic factors may, therefore, enhance our understanding of essential hypertension. This study aimed to examine whether common SORBS1 genetic variations are associated with blood pressure and age at onset of hypertension in an ethnic Chinese cohort.
We genotyped 9 common tagged single nucleotide polymorphisms of the SORBS1 gene in 1136 subjects of Chinese origin from the Stanford Asia-Pacific Program for Hypertension and Insulin Resistance family study. Blood pressure was measured upon enrolment. The associations of the SORBS1 single nucleotide polymorphisms with blood pressure and the presence of hypertension were analyzed with a generalized estimating equation model. We used the false-discovery rate measure Q value with a cutoff <0.1 to adjust for multiple comparisons. In the Cox regression analysis for hypertension-free survival, a robust sandwich variance estimator was used to deal with the within-family correlations with age at onset of hypertension. Gender, body mass index, and antihypertension medication were adjustment covariates in the Cox regression analysis.
In this study, genetic variants of rs2281939 and rs2274490 were significantly associated with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A genetic variant of rs2274490 was also significantly associated with the presence of hypertension. Furthermore, genetic variants of rs2281939 and rs2274490 were associated with age at onset of hypertension after adjustment for gender, body mass index, and antihypertension medication.
In conclusion, we provide evidence for an association between common SORBS1 genetic variations and blood pressure, presence of hypertension, and age at onset of hypertension. The biological mechanism of genetic variation associated with blood pressure regulation needs further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4998882  PMID: 26962801
8.  Inhibition of Prostaglandin Reductase 2, a Putative Oncogene Overexpressed in Human Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma, Induces Oxidative Stress-Mediated Cell Death Involving xCT and CTH Gene Expressions through 15-Keto-PGE2 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0147390.
Prostaglandin reductase 2 (PTGR2) is the enzyme that catalyzes 15-keto-PGE2, an endogenous PPARγ ligand, into 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-PGE2. Previously, we have reported a novel oncogenic role of PTGR2 in gastric cancer, where PTGR2 was discovered to modulate ROS-mediated cell death and tumor transformation. In the present study, we demonstrated the oncogenic potency of PTGR2 in pancreatic cancer. First, we observed that the majority of the human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tissues was stained positive for PTGR2 expression but not in the adjacent normal parts. In vitro analyses showed that silencing of PTGR2 expression enhanced ROS production, suppressed pancreatic cell proliferation, and promoted cell death through increasing 15-keto-PGE2. Mechanistically, silencing of PTGR2 or addition of 15-keto-PGE2 suppressed the expressions of solute carrier family 7 member 11 (xCT) and cystathionine gamma-lyase (CTH), two important providers of intracellular cysteine for the generation of glutathione (GSH), which is widely accepted as the first-line antioxidative defense. The oxidative stress-mediated cell death after silencing of PTGR2 or addition of 15-keto-PGE2 was further abolished after restoring intracellular GSH concentrations and cysteine supply by N-acetyl-L-cysteine and 2-Mercaptomethanol. Our data highlight the therapeutic potential of targeting PTGR2/15-keto-PGE2 for pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC4731085  PMID: 26820738
9.  Genetic polymorphisms of PCSK2 are associated with glucose homeostasis and progression to type 2 diabetes in a Chinese population 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:14380.
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 2 (PCSK2) is a prohormone processing enzyme involved in insulin and glucagon biosynthesis. We previously found the genetic polymorphism of PCSK2 on chromosome 20 was responsible for the linkage peak of several glucose homeostasis parameters. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between genetic variants of PCSK2 and glucose homeostasis parameters and incident diabetes. Total 1142 Chinese participants were recruited from the Stanford Asia-Pacific Program for Hypertension and Insulin Resistance (SAPPHIRe) family study, and 759 participants were followed up for 5 years. Ten SNPs of the PCSK2 gene were genotyped. Variants of rs6044695 and rs2284912 were associated with fasting plasma glucose, and variants of rs2269023 were associated with fasting plasma glucose and 1-hour plasma glucose during OGTT. Haplotypes of rs4814605/rs1078199 were associated with fasting plasma insulin levels and HOMA-IR. Haplotypes of rs890609/rs2269023 were also associated with fasting plasma glucose, fasting insulin and HOMA-IR. In the longitudinal study, we found individuals carrying TA/AA genotypes of rs6044695 or TC/CC genotypes of rs2284912 had lower incidence of diabetes during the 5-year follow-up. Our results indicated that PCSK2 gene polymorphisms are associated with pleiotropic effects on various traits of glucose homeostasis and incident diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4660384  PMID: 26607656
10.  Early Myocardial Repolarization Heterogeneity Is Detected by Magnetocardiography in Diabetic Patients with Cardiovascular Risk Factors 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133192.
Multi-channel magnetocardiography (MCG) is a sensitive technique to map spatial ventricular repolarization with high resolution and reproducibility. Spatial ventricular repolarization heterogeneity measured by MCG has been shown to accurately detect and localize myocardial ischemia. Here, we explored whether these measurements correlated with cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes. Two hundreds and seventy-seven type 2 diabetic patients without known coronary artery disease (CAD) and arrhythmia were recruited consecutively from the outpatient clinic of National Taiwan University Hospital. The spatially distributed QTc contour maps were constructed with 64-channel MCG using the superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) system. Indices of myocardial repolarization heterogeneity including the smoothness index of QTc (SI-QTc) and QTc dispersion were derived and analyzed for association with conventional cardiovascular risk factors. SI-QTc correlated strongly with the QTc dispersion (r = 0.70, p <0.0001). SI-QTc was significantly higher in patients with presence of metabolic syndrome in comparison to those without metabolic syndrome (8.56 vs. 7.96 ms, p = 0.02). In univariate correlation analyses, QTc dispersion was associated with smoking status (average 79.90, 83.83, 86.51, and 86.00 ms for never smokers, ex-smokers, current smokers reporting less than 10 cigarettes daily, and current smoker reporting more than 10 cigarettes daily, respectively, p = 0.03), body weight (r = 0.15, p = 0.01), and hemoglobin A1c (r = 0.12, p = 0.04). In stepwise multivariate regression analyses, QTc dispersion was associated with smoking (p = 0.02), body weight (p = 0.04), total cholesterol levels (p = 0.05), and possibly estimated glomerular filtration rate (p = 0.07). In summary, spatial heterogeneity of myocardial repolarization measured by MCG is positively associated cardiovascular risk factors including adiposity, smoking, and total cholesterol levels.
PMCID: PMC4505945  PMID: 26185995
11.  Anaemia and related nutrient deficiencies after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMJ Open  2015;5(7):e006964.
To obtain a pooled risk estimate on the long-term impact of anaemia and related nutritional deficiencies in patients receiving Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery.
Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources
MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane databases were searched to identify English reports published before 16 May 2014.
Eligibility criteria
Articles with case numbers >100, follow-up period >12 months, and complete data from both before and after surgery were selected. Outcomes of interest were changes in baseline measurements of proportion of patients with anaemia, by haemoglobin, haematocrit, ferritin, iron, vitamin B12 and folate levels.
Data collection and analysis
Two reviewers independently reviewed data and selected six prospective and nine retrospective studies with a total of 5909 patients. A random effect model with inverse variance weighting was used to calculate summary estimates of outcomes at 6, 12, 24 and 36 months postoperatively.
Proportion of patients with anaemia was 12.2% at baseline, which, respectively, increased to 20.9% and 25.9% at 12 and 24 months follow-up, consistent with decreases in haemoglobin and haematocrit levels. Although the serum iron level did not change substantially after surgery, the frequency of patients with ferritin deficiency increased from 7.9% at baseline to 13.4% and 23.0% at 12 and 24 months, respectively, postoperation. Vitamin B12 deficiency increased from 2.3% at baseline to 6.5% at 12 months after surgery in those subjects receiving RYGB. There was no obvious increase in folate deficiency.
RYGB surgery is associated with an increased risk of anaemia and deficiencies of iron and vitamin B12, but not folate. Ferritin is more sensitive when serum iron level is within normal range.
PMCID: PMC4513480  PMID: 26185175
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass; Anemia; Nutritional Anemia; Iron; Ferritin
12.  A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for adiponectin levels in East Asians identifies a novel locus near WDR11-FGFR2 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(4):1108-1119.
Blood levels of adiponectin, an adipocyte-secreted protein correlated with metabolic and cardiovascular risks, are highly heritable. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies for adiponectin levels have identified 14 loci harboring variants associated with blood levels of adiponectin. To identify novel adiponectin-associated loci, particularly those of importance in East Asians, we conducted a meta-analysis of GWA studies for adiponectin in 7827 individuals, followed by two stages of replications in 4298 and 5954 additional individuals. We identified a novel adiponectin-associated locus on chromosome 10 near WDR11-FGFR2 (P = 3.0 × 10−14) and provided suggestive evidence for a locus on chromosome 12 near OR8S1-LALBA (P = 1.2 × 10−7). Of the adiponectin-associated loci previously described, we confirmed the association at CDH13 (P = 6.8 × 10−165), ADIPOQ (P = 1.8 × 10−22), PEPD (P = 3.6 × 10−12), CMIP (P = 2.1 × 10−10), ZNF664 (P = 2.3 × 10−7) and GPR109A (P = 7.4 × 10−6). Conditional analysis at ADIPOQ revealed a second signal with suggestive evidence of association only after conditioning on the lead SNP (Pinitial = 0.020; Pconditional = 7.0 × 10−7). We further confirmed the independence of two pairs of closely located loci (<2 Mb) on chromosome 16 at CMIP and CDH13, and on chromosome 12 at GPR109A and ZNF664. In addition, the newly identified signal near WDR11-FGFR2 exhibited evidence of association with triglycerides (P = 3.3 × 10−4), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, P = 4.9 × 10−4) and body mass index (BMI)-adjusted waist–hip ratio (P = 9.8 × 10−3). These findings improve our knowledge of the genetic basis of adiponectin variation, demonstrate the shared allelic architecture for adiponectin with lipids and central obesity and motivate further studies of underlying mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3900106  PMID: 24105470
13.  Adverse Outcomes After Noncardiac Surgery in Patients With Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(10):3216-3221.
To investigate whether diabetes affects perioperative complications or mortality and to gauge its impact on medical expenditures for noncardiac surgeries.
With the use of reimbursement claims from the Taiwan National Health Insurance system, we performed a population-based cohort study of patients with and without diabetes undergoing noncardiac surgeries. Outcomes of postoperative complications, mortality, hospital stay, and medical expenditures were compared between patients with and without diabetes.
Diabetes increased 30-day postoperative mortality (odds ratio 1.84 [95% CI 1.46–2.32]), particularly among patients with type 1 diabetes or uncontrolled diabetes and patients with preoperative diabetes-related comorbidities, such as eye involvement, peripheral circulatory disorders, ketoacidosis, renal manifestations, and coma. Compared with nondiabetic control patients, coexisting medical conditions, such as renal dialysis (5.17 [3.68–7.28]), liver cirrhosis (3.59 [2.19–5.88]), stroke (2.87 [1.95–4.22]), mental disorders (2.35 [1.71–3.24]), ischemic heart disease (2.08 [1.45–2.99]), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (1.96 [1.29–2.97]), and hyperlipidemia (1.94 [1.01–3.76]) were associated with mortality for patients with diabetes undergoing noncardiac surgery. Patients with diabetes faced a higher risk of postoperative acute renal failure (3.59 [2.88–4.48]) and acute myocardial infarction (3.65 [2.43–5.49]). Furthermore, diabetes was associated with prolonged hospital stay (2.30 [2.16–2.44]) and increased medical expenditures (1.32 [1.25–1.40]).
Diabetes increases postoperative 30-day mortality, complications, and medical expenditures in patients undergoing in-hospital noncardiac surgeries.
PMCID: PMC3781492  PMID: 23990518
14.  Different angiotensin receptor blockers and incidence of diabetes: a nationwide population-based cohort study 
Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) have been shown to exert various peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) binding activities and insulin-sensitizing effects. The objective of this study was to investigate the association of different ARBs with new-onset diabetes mellitus.
In the respective cohort, a total of 492,530 subjects who initiated ARB treatment between January 2004 and December 2009 were identified from Taiwan National Health Insurance Database. The primary outcome was newly diagnosed diabetes, defined as at least one hospital admission or two or more outpatient visits within a year with an ICD-9-CM code 250. Cox proportional regression was used to estimate the risk of diabetes associated with each ARB, using losartan as the reference.
A total of 65,358 incident diabetes cases were identified out of 1,771,173 person-years. Olmesartan initiators had a small but significantly increased risk of developing diabetes after adjusting for baseline characteristics and mean daily dose (hazard ratio [HR], 1.07; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.12). After excluding those followed for less than one year, the increase in diabetes risk are more pronounced (HR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.05-1.14). This association was consistent across all subgroup analyses. Similar results were observed when a more strict definition of diabetes combining both diabetes diagnosis and anti-diabetic treatment was used. On the other hand, there was no difference in diabetes risk between telmisartan and losartan.
Among all ARBs, olmesartan might be associated with a slightly increased risk of diabetes mellitus. Our data suggest differential diabetes risks associated with ARBs beyond a class effect.
PMCID: PMC4039330  PMID: 24886542
Angiotensin receptor antagonists; Diabetes mellitus; Cohort studies
15.  Validation of Type 2 Diabetes Risk Variants Identified by Genome-Wide Association Studies in Han Chinese Population: A Replication Study and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95045.
Several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) involving European populations have successfully identified risk genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, the effects conferred by these variants in Han Chinese population have not yet been fully elucidated.
We analyzed the effects of 24 risk genetic variants with reported associations from European GWAS in 3,040 Han Chinese subjects in Taiwan (including 1,520 T2DM cases and 1,520 controls). The discriminative power of the prediction models with and without genotype scores was compared. We further meta-analyzed the association of these variants with T2DM by pooling all candidate-gene association studies conducted in Han Chinese.
Five risk variants in IGF2BP2 (rs4402960, rs1470579), CDKAL1 (rs10946398), SLC30A8 (rs13266634), and HHEX (rs1111875) genes were nominally associated with T2DM in our samples. The odds ratio was 2.22 (95% confidence interval, 1.81-2.73, P<0.0001) for subjects with the highest genetic score quartile (score>34) as compared with subjects with the lowest quartile (score<29). The incoporation of genotype score into the predictive model increased the C-statistics from 0.627 to 0.657 (P<0.0001). These estimates are very close to those observed in European populations. Gene-environment interaction analysis showed a significant interaction between rs13266634 in SLC30A8 gene and age on T2DM risk (P<0.0001). Further meta-analysis pooling 20 studies in Han Chinese confirmed the association of 10 genetic variants in IGF2BP2, CDKAL1, JAZF1, SCL30A8, HHEX, TCF7L2, EXT2, and FTO genes with T2DM. The effect sizes conferred by these risk variants in Han Chinese were similar to those observed in Europeans but the allele frequencies differ substantially between two populations.
We confirmed the association of 10 variants identified by European GWAS with T2DM in Han Chinese population. The incorporation of genotype scores into the prediction model led to a small but significant improvement in T2DM prediction.
PMCID: PMC3988150  PMID: 24736664
16.  Loss of the oxidative stress sensor NPGPx compromises GRP78 chaperone activity and induces systemic disease 
Molecular cell  2012;48(5):747-759.
NPGPx is a member of the glutathione peroxidase (GPx) family; however, it lacks GPx enzymatic activity due to the absence of a critical selenocysteine residue, rendering its function an enigma. We report that NPGPx is a novel stress sensor that transmits oxidative stress signals by transferring the disulfide bond between its Cys57 and Cys86 residues to downstream effectors. Oxidized NPGPx binds and oxidizes the chaperone glucose-regulated protein (GRP)78 in the endoplasmic reticulum through covalent bonding between Cys86 of NPGPx and Cys41/Cys420 of GRP78, and facilitates the refolding of misfolded proteins by GRP78 to alleviate stress. NPGPx-deficient cells display impaired GRP78 chaperone activity, accumulate misfolded proteins, and suffer oxidative stress. Complete loss of NPGPx in animals causes systemic oxidative stress, increases carcinogenesis, and shortens lifespan. These results, for the first time, suggest that NPGPx is essential for mediating the oxidative stress response by modulating GRP78 chaperone activity to maintain physiological homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3582359  PMID: 23123197
17.  Activation of Robo1 signaling of breast cancer cells by Slit2 from stromal fibroblast restrains tumorigenesis via blocking PI3K/Akt/β-catenin pathway 
Cancer research  2012;72(18):4652-4661.
Tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in regulating tumor progression by secreting factors that mediate cancer cell growth. Stromal fibroblasts can promote tumor growth through paracrine factors; however, restraint of malignant carcinoma progression by the microenvironment also has been observed. The mechanisms that underlie this paradox remain unknown. Here, we report that the tumorigenic potential of breast cancer cells is determined by an interaction between the Robo1 receptor and its ligand Slit2, which is secreted by stromal fibroblasts. The presence of an active Slit2/Robo1 signal blocks the translocation of β-catenin into nucleus, leading to down-regulation of c-myc and cyclin D1 via the PI3K pathway. Clinically, high Robo1 expression in the breast cancer cells correlates with increased survival in breast cancer patients, and low Slit2 expression in the stromal fibroblasts is associated with lymph node metastasis. Together, our findings explain how a specific tumor microenvironment can restrain a given type of cancer cell from progression and demonstrate that both stromal fibroblasts and tumor cell heterogeneity affect breast cancer outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3445732  PMID: 22826604
18.  Deficiency of NPGPx, an oxidative stress sensor, leads to obesity in mice and human 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2013;5(8):1165-1179.
Elevated oxidative stress is closely associated with obesity. Emerging evidence shows that instead of being a consequence of obesity, oxidative stress may also contribute to fat formation. Nonselenocysteine-containing phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (NPGPx) is a conserved oxidative stress sensor/transducer and deficiency of NPGPx causes accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this communication, we show that NPGPx was highly expressed in preadipocytes of adipose tissue. Deficiency of NPGPx promoted preadipocytes to differentiate to adipocytes via ROS-dependent dimerization of protein kinase A regulatory subunits and activation of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein beta (C/EBPβ). This enhanced adipogenesis was alleviated by antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Consistently, NPGPx-deficient mice exhibited markedly increased fat mass and adipocyte hypertrophy, while treatment with NAC ablated these phenotypes. Furthermore, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in human NPGPx gene, which correlated with lower NPGPx expression level in adipose tissue, were associated with higher body mass index (BMI) in several independent human populations. These results indicate that NPGPx protects against fat accumulation in mice and human via modulating ROS, and highlight the importance of targeting redox homeostasis in obesity management.
Deficiency of the glutathione peroxidase NPGPx increases ROS levels in preadipocytes and promotes adipocyte differentiation via increasing oxidative stress and consequent increased fat mass and adipocyte hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC3944459  PMID: 23828861
adipogenesis; C/EBPβ; N-acetylcysteine; NPGPx; oxidative stress
19.  Genetic Variation in the NOC Gene Is Associated with Body Mass Index in Chinese Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69622.
Circadian clock genes are critical regulators of energy homeostasis and metabolism. However, whether variation in the circadian genes is associated with metabolic phenotypes in humans remains to be explored. In this study, we systemically genotyped 20 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 8 candidate genes involved in circadian clock, including CLOCK, BMAL1(ARNTL), PER1, PER2, CRY1, CRY2, CSNK1E,, and NOC(CCRN4L) in 1,510 non-diabetic Chinese subjects in Taipei and Yunlin populations in Taiwan. Their associations with metabolic phenotypes were analyzed. We found that genetic variation in the NOC gene, rs9684900 was associated with body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.0016, Bonferroni corrected P = 0.032). Another variant, rs135764 in the CSNK1E gene was associated with fasting glucose (P = 0.0023, Bonferroni corrected P = 0.046). These associations were consistent in both Taipei and Yunlin populations. Significant epistatic and joint effects between SNPs on BMI and related phenotypes were observed. Furthermore, NOC mRNA levels in human abdominal adipose tissue were significantly increased in obese subjects compared to non-obese controls.
Genetic variation in the NOC gene is associated with BMI in Chinese subjects.
PMCID: PMC3724939  PMID: 23922759
20.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies 8 new loci for type 2 diabetes in East Asians 
Nature genetics  2011;44(1):67-72.
We conducted a three-stage genetic study to identify susceptibility loci for type 2 diabetes (T2D) in East Asian populations. The first stage meta-analysis of eight T2D genome-wide association studies (6,952 cases and 11,865 controls) was followed by a second stage in silico replication analysis (5,843 cases and 4,574 controls) and a stage 3 de novo replication analysis (12,284 cases and 13,172 controls). The combined analysis identified eight new T2D loci reaching genome-wide significance, which were mapped in or near GLIS3, PEPD, FITM2-R3HDML-HNF4A, KCNK16, MAEA, GCC1-PAX4, PSMD6 and ZFAND3. GLIS3, involved in pancreatic beta cell development and insulin gene expression1,2, is known for its association with fasting glucose levels3,4. The evidence of T2D association for PEPD5 and HNF4A6,7 has been detected in previous studies. KCNK16 may regulate glucose-dependent insulin secretion in the pancreas. These findings derived from East Asians provide new perspectives on the etiology of T2D.
PMCID: PMC3582398  PMID: 22158537
21.  Common ALDH2 genetic variants predict development of hypertension in the SAPPHIRe prospective cohort: Gene-environmental interaction with alcohol consumption 
Genetic variants near/within the ALDH2 gene encoding the mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 have been associated with blood pressure and hypertension in several case–control association studies in East Asian populations.
Three common tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNP) in the ALDH2 gene were genotyped in 1,134 subjects of Chinese origin from the Stanford Asia-Pacific Program for Hypertension and Insulin Resistance (SAPPHIRe) family cohort. We examined whether the ALDH2 SNP genotypes predicted the development of hypertension in the prospective SAPPHIRe cohort.
Over an average follow-up period of 5.7 years, carriers homozygous for the rs2238152 T allele in the ALDH2 gene were more likely to progress to hypertension than were non-carriers (hazard ratio [HR], 2.88, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-7.84, P = 0.03), corresponding to a population attributable risk of ~7.1%. The risk associated with the rs2238152 T allele were strongest in heavy/moderate alcohol drinkers and was reduced in non-drinkers, indicating an interaction between ALDH2 genetic variants and alcohol intake on the risk of hypertension (P for interaction = 0.04). The risk allele was associated with significantly lower ALDH2 gene expression levels in human adipose tissue.
ALDH2 genetic variants were associated with progression to hypertension in a prospective Chinese cohort. The association was modified by alcohol consumption.
PMCID: PMC3476438  PMID: 22839215
ALDH2; Hypertension; SNP; Chinese
22.  Cross-Sectional Validation of Diabetes Risk Scores for Predicting Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Chronic Kidney Disease in Taiwanese 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(12):2294-2296.
To validate the performance of current diabetes risk scores (DRSs) based on simple clinical information in detecting type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome (MetSyn), and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The performance of 10 DRSs was evaluated in a cross-sectional population screening of 2,759 Taiwanese subjects.
All DRSs significantly correlated with measures of insulin resistance, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and urine albumin excretion. The prevalence of screening-detected diabetes (SDM), MetSyn, and CKD increased with higher DRSs. For prediction of SDM, the Cambridge DRS by Griffin et al. and the Finnish DRS outperformed other DRSs in terms of discriminative power and model fit. For prediction of MetSyn and CKD, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Community Study score by Schmidt et al. outperformed other DRSs.
Risk scores based on simple clinical information are useful to identify individuals at high risk for diabetes, MetSyn, and CKD in different ethnic populations.
PMCID: PMC2782993  PMID: 19755627
23.  SLC2A10 genetic polymorphism predicts development of peripheral arterial disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. SLC2A10 and PAD in type 2 diabetes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:126.
Recent data indicate that loss-of-function mutation in the gene encoding the facilitative glucose transporter GLUT10 (SLC2A10) causes arterial tortuosity syndrome via upregulation of the TGF-β pathway in the arterial wall, a mechanism possibly causing vascular changes in diabetes.
We genotyped 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms and one microsatellite spanning 34 kb across the SLC2A10 gene in a prospective cohort of 372 diabetic patients. Their association with the development of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in type 2 diabetic patients was analyzed.
At baseline, several common SNPs of SLC2A10 gene were associated with PAD in type 2 diabetic patients. A common haplotype was associated with higher risk of PAD in type 2 diabetic patients (haplotype frequency: 6.3%, P = 0.03; odds ratio [OR]: 14.5; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.3- 160.7) at baseline. Over an average follow-up period of 5.7 years, carriers with the risk-conferring haplotype were more likely to develop PAD (P = 0.007; hazard ratio: 6.78; 95% CI: 1.66- 27.6) than were non-carriers. These associations remained significant after adjustment for other risk factors of PAD.
Our data demonstrate that genetic polymorphism of the SLC2A10 gene is an independent risk factor for PAD in type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2939510  PMID: 20735855
24.  The role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes: from molecular mechanism to clinical implication 
A surplus of food supply has evoked a worldwide increase in incidence of type 2 diabetes. This trend will have a significant impact on the life span of people living in modern societies. In contrast, reduced calorie intake has significant impact on preventing type 2 diabetes and increasing longevity. Increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in oxidative stress, has long been proposed as a unifying mechanism linking nutrient excess and diabetes. This review describes the updated mechanism by which oxidative stress provoked by nutrient excess contributes to the development of insulin resistance and pancreatic betacell failure. However, despite the promising results in cellular and animal models, major clinical trials have failed to demonstrate beneficial effect of antioxidants on the prevention of type 2 diabetes or the degree of glycemic control in individuals with diabetes. Emerging evidence shows that ROS also function as an insulin-signaling molecule in normal physiology and casts doubt on the potential beneficial effect of antioxidants. The gap between basic research and clinical outcomes heightens the importance for elucidating the precise molecular mechanisms by which cellular redox status affects insulin signaling.
PMCID: PMC2892404  PMID: 20589170
Reactive oxygen species; type 2 diabetes; insulin resistance; pancreatic beta-cell
25.  Common Variation in the Fat Mass and Obesity-Associated (FTO) Gene Confers Risk of Obesity and Modulates BMI in the Chinese Population 
Diabetes  2008;57(8):2245-2252.
OBJECTIVE— Genetic variants in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene have been linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes in European populations. We aimed to test the role of FTO genetic variants in obesity and type 2 diabetes in the Chinese population.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We genotyped 19 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning from the 3′ end of the neighboring RPGRIP1L gene to the 5′ flanking region of the FTO gene. We analyzed their associations with obesity (638 case and 1,610 control subjects), type 2 diabetes (759 case and 784 control subjects), and obesity-related traits in nondiabetic subjects.
RESULTS— Among the 19 SNPs, the rs9939609 A allele was strongly associated with obesity (P = 7.0 × 10−4) and BMI (P = 0.0024) in the Chinese population. The odds ratio for obesity was 2.60 (95% CI 1.24–5.46) (P = 0.011) for the AA genotype and 1.32 (1.05–1.66) (P = 0.018) for the AT genotype compared with the TT genotype. Each additional copy of the rs9936609 A allele was associated with a BMI increase of ∼0.37 kg/m2. The rs9939609 A allele was substantially less common in the Chinese population than in the European population (12.6 vs. 45%). We did not find significant associations of the 19 SNPs with type 2 diabetes or other obesity-related traits.
CONCLUSIONS— Genetic variation in the FTO gene is strongly associated with obesity and BMI in the Chinese population. The risk variant is less common in the Chinese population, but its effect size on BMI is comparable with that in the European population.
PMCID: PMC2494679  PMID: 18487448

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