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1.  Genetic variant in TP63 on locus 3q28 is associated with risk of lung adenocarcinoma among never-smoking females in Asia 
Hosgood, H. Dean | Wang, Wen-Chang | Hong, Yun-Chul | Wang, Jiu-Cun | Chen, Kexin | Chang, I-Shou | Chen, Chien-Jen | Lu, Daru | Yin, Zhihua | Wu, Chen | Zheng, Wei | Qian, Biyun | Park, Jae Yong | Kim, Yeul Hong | Chatterjee, Nilanjan | Chen, Ying | Chang, Gee-Chen | Hsiao, Chin-Fu | Yeager, Meredith | Tsai, Ying-Huang | Wei, Hu | Kim, Young Tae | Wu, Wei | Zhao, Zhenhong | Chow, Wong-Ho | Zhu, Xiaoling | Lo, Yen-Li | Sung, Sook Whan | Chen, Kuan-Yu | Yuenger, Jeff | Kim, Joo Hyun | Huang, Liming | Chen, Ying-Hsiang | Gao, Yu-Tang | Kim, Jin Hee | Huang, Ming-Shyan | Jung, Tae Hoon | Caporaso, Neil | Zhao, Xueying | Huan, Zhang | Yu, Dianke | Kim, Chang Ho | Su, Wu-Chou | Shu, Xiao-Ou | Kim, In-San | Bassig, Bryan | Chen, Yuh-Min | Cha, Sung Ick | Tan, Wen | Chen, Hongyan | Yang, Tsung-Ying | Sung, Jae Sook | Wang, Chih-Liang | Li, Xuelian | Park, Kyong Hwa | Yu, Chong-Jen | Ryu, Jeong-Seon | Xiang, Yongbing | Hutchinson, Amy | Kim, Jun Suk | Cai, Qiuyin | Landi, Maria Teresa | Lee, Kyoung-Mu | Hung, Jen-Yu | Park, Ju-Yeon | Tucker, Margaret | Lin, Chien-Chung | Ren, Yangwu | Perng, Reury-Perng | Chen, Chih-Yi | Jin, Li | Chen, Kun-Chieh | Li, Yao-Jen | Chiu, Yu-Fang | Tsai, Fang-Yu | Yang, Pan-Chyr | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | Seow, Adeline | Lin, Dongxin | Zhou, Baosen | Chanock, Stephen | Hsiung, Chao Agnes | Rothman, Nathaniel | Lan, Qing
Human genetics  2012;131(7):10.1007/s00439-012-1144-8.
A recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of subjects from Japan and South Korea reported a novel association between the TP63 locus on chromosome 3q28 and risk of lung adenocarcinoma (p = 7.3 × 10−12); however, this association did not achieve genome-wide significance (p < 10−7) among never-smoking males or females. To determine if this association with lung cancer risk is independent of tobacco use, we genotyped the TP63 SNPs reported by the previous GWAS (rs10937405 and rs4488809) in 3,467 never-smoking female lung cancer cases and 3,787 never-smoking female controls from 10 studies conducted in Taiwan, Mainland China, South Korea, and Singapore. Genetic variation in rs10937405 was associated with risk of lung adenocarcinoma [n = 2,529 cases; p = 7.1 × 10−8; allelic risk = 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.74–0.87]. There was also evidence of association with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung (n = 302 cases; p = 0.037; allelic risk = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.67–0.99). Our findings provide strong evidence that genetic variation in TP63 is associated with the risk of lung adenocarcinoma among Asian females in the absence of tobacco smoking.
PMCID: PMC3875137  PMID: 22367405
2.  Antigenic Divergence of Bordetella pertussis Isolates in Taiwan 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(11):5457-5461.
In recent studies, antigenic divergence has been observed in Bordetella pertussis circulating isolates. We collected 80 Bordetella pertussis isolates in Taiwan from 1998 to 2004 and analyzed them using a combination of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and sequencing of the ptxS1 and prn genes. The incidence of pertussis increases every 3 years, and most of the isolates prevalent since 1998 have expressed nonvaccine ptxS1A and prn2 alleles. Through PFGE analysis, all isolates could be classified into four major groups, and the incidence of these groups exhibited a correlation with the prn allele expressed by the isolates. We found that PFGE is more discriminative than gene sequencing, since it could divide the isolates expressing the prn2 allele into two groups: one group circulating from 1998 to 2001 and another group circulating from 2001 to 2004. The transition between the two groups in 2000 coincided with an outbreak of 326 cases. This research indicates that the antigenic divergence of B. pertussis circulating isolates has evolved over time in Taiwan. Such information will have implications for vaccine policy in Taiwan.
PMCID: PMC1287815  PMID: 16272470
3.  Validation of a Novel Clinical Prediction Score for Severe Coronary Artery Diseases before Elective Coronary Angiography 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94493.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) severity is associated with patient prognosis. However, few efficient scoring systems have been developed to screen severe CAD in patients with stable angina and suspected CAD before coronary angiography. Here, we present a novel scoring system for CAD severity before elective coronary angiography.
Five hundred fifty-one patients with stable angina who were admitted for coronary angiography were enrolled in this study. Patients were divided into training (n = 347) and validation (n = 204) cohorts. Severe CAD was defined as having a Gensini score of 20 or more. All patients underwent echocardiography (ECG) to detect ejection fraction and aortic valve calcification (AVC). Multivariable analysis was applied to determine independent risk factors and develop the scoring system.
In the training cohort, age, male sex, AVC, abnormal ECG, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were identified as independent factors for severe CAD by multivariable analysis, and the Severe Prediction Scoring (SPS) system was developed. C-indices of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for severe CAD were 0.744 and 0.710 in the training and validation groups, respectively. The SPS system also performed well during calibration, as demonstrated by Hosmer-Lemeshow analysis in the validation group. Compared with the Diamond-Forrester score, the SPS system performed better for severe CAD prediction before elective coronary angiography.
Severe CAD prediction was achieved by analyzing age, sex, AVC, ECG, diabetes status, and lipid levels. Angina patients who achieve high scores using this predicting system should undergo early coronary angiography.
PMCID: PMC3979855  PMID: 24714416
4.  Nitrosative Stress Plays an Important Role in Wnt Pathway Activation in Diabetic Retinopathy 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(10):1141-1153.
Aims: Diabetes is associated with nitrosative stress in multiple tissues. Overactivation of the Wnt pathway has been shown to play a pathogenic role in diabetic retinopathy (DR). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether nitrosative stress contributes to aberrant activation of Wnt signaling in diabetes. Results: Nitrosative stress induced by peroxynitrite (PN), 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE), or high glucose (HG) in retinal cells was assessed by a dichlorofluorescein fluorescence assay or by Western blot analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT). These nitrosative stress inducers activated the canonical Wnt pathway, as shown by Western blot analysis of phosphorylated low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 (pLRP6), total and nuclear β-catenin levels, Luciferase reporter assay, and expression of the Wnt target genes intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Uric acid (UA), a PN scavenger, and 5,10,15,20-Tetrakis (4-sulfonatophenyl) porphyrinato Iron III Chloride (FeTPPS), a PN decomposition catalyst, suppressed Wnt signaling and ICAM-1 and VEGF overexpression induced by PN, HNE, and HG. Furthermore, UA and FeTPPS also inhibited Wnt signaling induced by the Wnt ligand. In streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, retinal levels of 3-NT, β-catenin, nuclear β-catenin, pLRP6, VEGF, and ICAM-1 were markedly increased. UA treatment for 6 weeks ameliorated diabetes-induced Wnt signaling in the diabetic rat retina. The UA treatment also decreased inflammatory cell infiltration and extraverted serum albumin in the perfused retina of diabetic rats, suggesting decreased retinal inflammation and vascular leakage. Innovation and Conclusion: Nitrosative stress in diabetes contributes to Wnt pathway activation in the retina, and Wnt signaling may mediate the pathogenic effects of nitrosative stress in DR. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 1141–1153.
PMCID: PMC3579458  PMID: 23066786
5.  In vitro and in vivo replication of influenza A H1N1 WSN33 viruses with different M1 proteins 
The Journal of General Virology  2013;94(Pt 4):884-895.
The M1 protein is a major structural protein that has multiple functions in various steps within the life cycle of the influenza A virus (IAV). However, little is currently known about the role of M1 in IAV replication in vivo and the associated pathogenesis. In this study, six isogenic H1N1 WSN33 viruses, constructed to express unique M1 proteins derived from various strains, subtypes or WSN33 itself, were tested to determine in vitro and in vivo functional exchangeability of M1 proteins in the replication and pathogenesis of the WSN33 virus. Despite five chimeric M1 viruses replicating to levels similar to those of the parental WSN33 virus in cell cultures, all M1 chimeras exhibited improved replication and enhanced virulence in mice when compared with the WSN33 virus. Interestingly, M1 proteins derived from swine viruses caused more severe clinical diseases than those from human or quail. These data indicate that the M1 protein is an important determinant of viral replication and pathogenic properties in mice, although the functions of M1 observed in vivo are not adequately reflected in simple infections of cultured cells. Chimeric M1 viruses that are variable in their clinical manifestations described here will aid future understanding of the role of M1 in IAV pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3709687  PMID: 23255622
6.  Regional Changes in Charcoal-Burning Suicide Rates in East/Southeast Asia from 1995 to 2011: A Time Trend Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001622.
Using a time trend analysis, Ying-Yeh Chen and colleagues examine the evidence for regional increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates in East and Southeast Asia from 1995 to 2011.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from burning barbecue charcoal reached epidemic levels in Hong Kong and Taiwan within 5 y of the first reported cases in the early 2000s. The objectives of this analysis were to investigate (i) time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide throughout East/Southeast Asia during the time period 1995–2011 and (ii) whether any rises in use of this method were associated with increases in overall suicide rates. Sex- and age-specific trends over time were also examined to identify the demographic groups showing the greatest increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates across different countries.
Methods and Findings
We used data on suicides by gases other than domestic gas for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the years 1995/1996–2011. Similar data for Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand were also extracted but were incomplete. Graphical and joinpoint regression analyses were used to examine time trends in suicide, and negative binomial regression analysis to study sex- and age-specific patterns. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for <1% of all suicides in all study countries, except in Japan (5%), but they increased to account for 13%, 24%, 10%, 7%, and 5% of all suicides in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore, respectively, in 2011. Rises were first seen in Hong Kong after 1998 (95% CI 1997–1999), followed by Singapore in 1999 (95% CI 1998–2001), Taiwan in 2000 (95% CI 1999–2001), Japan in 2002 (95% CI 1999–2003), and the Republic of Korea in 2007 (95% CI 2006–2008). No marked increases were seen in Malaysia, the Philippines, or Thailand. There was some evidence that charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan (for females), but not in Japan (for males), the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Rates of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong but appeared to be greatest in people aged 15–24 y in Japan and people aged 25–64 y in the Republic of Korea. The lack of specific codes for charcoal-burning suicide in the International Classification of Diseases and variations in coding practice in different countries are potential limitations of this study.
Charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in some East/Southeast Asian countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore) in the first decade of the 21st century, but such rises were not experienced by all countries in the region. In countries with a rise in charcoal-burning suicide rates, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of increases varied by country. Factors underlying these variations require further investigation, but may include differences in culture or in media portrayals of the method.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Every year, almost one million people die by suicide globally; suicide is the fifth leading cause of death in women aged 15–49 and the sixth leading cause of death in men in the same age group. Most people who take their own life are mentally ill. For others, stressful events (the loss of a partner, for example) have made life seem worthless or too painful to bear. Strategies to reduce suicide rates include better treatment of mental illness and programs that help people at high risk of suicide deal with stress. Suicide rates can also be reduced by limiting access to common suicide methods. These methods vary from place to place. Hanging is the predominant suicide method in many countries, but in Hong Kong, for example, jumping from a high building is the most common method. Suicide methods also vary over time. For example, after a woman in Hong Kong took her life in 1998 by burning barbecue charcoal in a sealed room (a process that produces the toxic gas carbon monoxide), charcoal burning rapidly went from being a rare method of killing oneself in Hong Kong to the second most common suicide method.
Why Was This Study Done?
Cases of charcoal-burning suicide have also been reported in several East and Southeast Asian countries, but there has been no systematic investigation of time trends and regional patterns of this form of suicide. A better understanding of regional changes in the number of charcoal-burning suicides might help to inform efforts to prevent the emergence of other new suicide methods. Here, the researchers investigate the time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide in several countries in East and Southeast Asia between 1995 and 2011 and ask whether any rises in the use of this method are associated with increases in overall suicide rates. The researchers also investigate sex- and age-specific time trends in charcoal-burning suicides to identify which groups of people show the greatest increases in this form of suicide across different countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed method-specific data on suicide deaths for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore between 1995/1996 and 2011 obtained from the World Health Organization Mortality Database and from national death registers. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for less than 1% of all suicides in all these countries except Japan (4.9%). By 2011, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for between 5% (Singapore) and 24% (Taiwan) of all suicides. Rises in the rate of charcoal-burning suicide were first seen in Hong Kong in 1999, in Singapore in 2000, in Taiwan in 2001, in Japan in 2003, and in the Republic of Korea in 2008. By contrast, incomplete data from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand showed no evidence of a marked increase in charcoal-burning suicide in these countries over the same period. Charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong in 1998–2003, in Taiwan in 2000–2006, and in Japanese women after 2003. Finally, the annual rate of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whereas in Japan people aged 15–24 and in the Republic of Korea people aged 25–64 tended to have the greatest rates of increase.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in several but not all East and Southeast Asian countries during the first decade of the 21st century. Moreover, in countries where there was an increase, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of the increase varied by country. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be limited by several aspects of the study. For example, because of the way that method-specific suicides are recorded in the World Health Organization Mortality Database and national death registries, the researchers may have slightly overestimated the number of charcoal-burning suicides. Further studies are now needed to identify the factors that underlie the variations between countries in charcoal-burning suicide rates and time trends reported here. However, the current findings highlight the need to undertake surveillance to identify the emergence of new suicide methods and the importance of policy makers, the media, and internet service providers working together to restrict graphic and detailed descriptions of new suicide methods.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
A PLOS Medicine research article by Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues investigates time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages); it also has an article on international patterns in methods of suicide
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices website has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for Suicide Prevention provides links to crisis centers in Asia
The charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories about dealing with suicide
PMCID: PMC3972087  PMID: 24691071
7.  Template-Free Synthesis of Functional 3D BN architecture for removal of dyes from water 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4453.
Three-dimensional (3D) architectures are of interest in applications in electronics, catalysis devices, sensors and adsorption materials. However, it is still a challenge to fabricate 3D BN architectures by a simple method. Here, we report the direct synthesis of 3D BN architectures by a simple thermal treatment process. A 3D BN architecture consists of an interconnected flexible network of nanosheets. The typical nitrogen adsorption/desorption results demonstrate that the specific surface area for the as-prepared samples is up to 1156 m2 g−1, and the total pore volume is about 1.17 cm3 g−1. The 3D BN architecture displays very high adsorption rates and large capacities for organic dyes in water without any other additives due to its low densities, high resistance to oxidation, good chemical inertness and high surface area. Importantly, 88% of the starting adsorption capacity is maintained after 15 cycles. These results indicate that the 3D BN architecture is potential environmental materials for water purification and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3964515  PMID: 24663292
8.  Survival Benefits of Metformin for Colorectal Cancer Patients with Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91818.
Several studies suggest that metformin has the potential effect of reducing cancer risk. However, its survival benefit in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and diabetes is unknown. The aim of our study is to address the effect of metformin on outcomes for CRC based on a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods and Findings
We searched EMBASE and MEDLINE databases from inception through August, 2013, using search terms related to metformin, diabetes, colorectal cancer, and prognostic outcome. The outcome measures were hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs comparing CRC survival in diabetic patients using metformin and without using metformin. The primary end points were overall survival (OS) and CRC specific survival (CS). A total of six cohort studies including 2,461 patients met full eligibility criteria. The pooled HR favoring metformin users was 0.56 for OS (95% CI, 0.41 to 0.77) and 0.66 for CRC-specific survival (95% CI, 0.50 to 0.87). Thus metformin therapy reduced the risk of all cause of death by 44% and the risk of CRC specific death by 34% in CRC patients compared to those in non-users. However, evidence of heterogeneity and possible publication bias was noted for OS.
Patients with CRC and diabetes treated with metformin appear to have an improved survival outcome. Prospective study should be warranted to examine the association between metformin exposure intensity as well as some other confounding variables and survival outcome in diabetic CRC patients.
PMCID: PMC3960145  PMID: 24647047
9.  Chilaiditi syndrome presenting as chest pain in an adult patient: a case report 
A patient with chest contusion and rib fractures presented with severe chest pain. The plain film of his chest showed suspicion of pneumoperitoneum. We present this case to show how to get a correct diagnosis and then avoid unnecessary surgery.
Case presentation
A 64-year-old Taiwanese man presented to the emergency department complaining of severe right chest pain after a traffic accident. Chest radiography showed right fifth to eighth rib fractures and was suspicious for free air under the bilateral hemi-diaphragm. Computed tomography of the abdomen revealed interposition of bowel loops between the liver and diaphragm. The patient was treated with oral analgesics and then regularly followed in the outpatient department.
Awareness of Chilaiditi’s sign is of paramount importance when free air under the diaphragm is seen in a patient (particularly an older patient) who does not exhibit signs of peritoneal irritation on physical examination. Emergent laparotomy should be delayed and a computed tomography scan should be done first. No inappropriate surgical intervention is needed.
PMCID: PMC3977941  PMID: 24629087
Chilaiditi syndrome; Pneumoperitoneum; Subdiaphragmatic colon
10.  Mechanical Property and Structure of Covalent Functionalised Graphene/Epoxy Nanocomposites 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4375.
Thermally reduced graphene nanoplatelets were covalently functionalised via Bingel reaction to improve their dispersion and interfacial bonding with an epoxy resin. Functionalised graphene were characterized by microscopic, thermal and spectroscopic techniques. Thermal analysis of functionalised graphene revealed a significantly higher thermal stability compared to graphene oxide. Inclusion of only 0.1 wt% of functionalised graphene in an epoxy resin showed 22% increase in flexural strength and 18% improvement in storage modulus. The improved mechanical properties of nanocomposites is due to the uniform dispersion of functionalised graphene and strong interfacial bonding between modified graphene and epoxy resin as confirmed by microscopy observations.
PMCID: PMC3953726  PMID: 24625497
11.  Cryptococcus neoformans copper detoxification machinery is critical for fungal virulence 
Cell host & microbe  2013;13(3):265-276.
Copper (Cu) is an essential metal that is toxic at high concentrations. Thus, pathogens often rely on host Cu for growth, but host cells can hyper-accumulate Cu to exert anti-microbial effects. The human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans encodes various Cu-responsive genes but their role in infection is unclear. We determine that pulmonary C. neoformans infection results in Cu-specific induction of genes encoding the Cu-detoxifying metallothionein (Cmt) proteins. Mutant strains lacking CMTs or expressing Cmt variants defective in Cu-coordination exhibit severely attenuated virulence and reduced pulmonary colonization. Consistent with the up-regulation of Cmt proteins, C. neoformans pulmonary infection results in increased serum Cu concentrations and respectively increases and decreases alveolar macrophage expression of the Cu importer, Ctr1, and ATP7A, a transporter implicated in phagosomal Cu compartmentalization. These studies indicate that the host mobilizes Cu as an innate anti-fungal defense but that C. neoformans senses and neutralizes toxic Cu to promote infection.
PMCID: PMC3668348  PMID: 23498952
12.  Antioxidant activities of saponins extracted from Radix Trichosanthis: an in vivo and in vitro evaluation 
Radix Trichosanthis (RT), the dry root tuber of Trichosanthis kirilowii Maxim (Cucurbitaceae), is a traditional Chinese medicine. Although a wide range of saponin pharmacological properties has been identified, to our knowledge, this may be the first report to investigate the crude saponins from RT. The purpose of this study was to delineate the antioxidant activity both in vitro and in vivo by using ethyl acetate (EtOAc), n-butanol, and the mixture of n-butanol and EtOAc fractions.
In vitro antioxidant activity was detected by using DPPH free radical, hydrogen peroxide scavenging, and reducing power assays. After pretreatment with different fractions saponins at 2 mg/kg/d and 3 mg/kg/d of crude drug, respectively, an established CCl4 induced acute cytotoxicity model was used to evaluate the in vivo antioxidant potential by detection of superoxide dismutase (SOD), malonaldehyde (MDA), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) levels.
The in vitro assay showed that the antioxidant activity of all the three fractions was promising. The reducing power of the EtOAc and the mixture of n-butanol and EtOAc extracts increased in a dose dependent manner. However, both the n-butanol and the mixture of n-butanol and EtOAc fractions in low dose exhibited in a time dependent manner with prolonged reaction time. As for hydrogen peroxide scavenging capability, the n-butanol fraction mainly demonstrated a time dependent manner, whereas EtOAc fraction showed a dose dependent manner. However, in case of in vivo assay, an increase of SOD and T-AOC and decrease of MDA and LDH levels were only observed in n-butanol (2 mg/kg/d of crude drug) extracts pretreatment group.
RT saponins in n-butanol fraction might be a potential antioxidant candidate, as CCl4-induced oxidative stress has been found to be alleviated, which may be associated with the time dependent manner of n-butanol saponins in a low dose. Further studies will be needed to investigate the active individual components in n-butanol extract, in vivo antioxidant activities and antioxidant mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3973866  PMID: 24597831
Antioxidant; Liver; Radix trichosanthis; Radical scavenger; Saponins
13.  Ocular Aldehyde Dehydrogenases: Protection against Ultraviolet Damage and Maintenance of Transparency for Vision 
Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes catalyze the NAD(P)+-dependent oxidation of a wide variety of endogenous and exogenous aldehydes to their corresponding acids. Some members of the ALDH superfamily of enzymes are abundantly expressed in the mammalian cornea and lens in a taxon-specific manner. Considered to be corneal and lens crystallins, they confer protective and transparent properties upon these ocular tissues. ALDH3A1 is highly expressed in the cornea of most mammals, with the exception of rabbit that expresses exclusively ALDH1A1 in the cornea. ALDH1A1 is present in both the cornea and lens of several animal species. As a result of their catalytic and non-catalytic functions, ALDH3A1 and ALDH1A1 proteins protect inner ocular tissues from ultraviolet radiation and reactive oxygen-induced damage. In addition, these corneal crystallins contribute to cellular transparency in corneal stromal keratocytes, supporting a structural role of these ALDH proteins. A putative regulatory function of ALDH3A1 on corneal cell proliferation has also been proposed. Finally, the three retinaldehye dehydrogenases cooperatively mediate retinoic acid signaling during the eye development.
PMCID: PMC3570594  PMID: 23098688
ALDH; crystalline; cornea; lens; ultraviolet damage; cataract; transparency
14.  5-aza-dC treatment induces mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition in 1st trimester trophoblast cell line HTR8/SVneo 
Placental trophoblast invasion involves a cellular transition from epithelial to mesenchymal phenotype. Cytotrophoblasts undergo epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) when differentiating into extravillous trophoblasts and gain the capacity of invasion. In this research, we investigated the role of DNA methylation in trophoblasts during this EMT. First, using BeWo and HTR8/SVneo cell lines as models of cytotrophoblast and extravillous trophoblast, respectively, we analyzed the gene expression and DNA methylation status of the known epithelial marker genes, E-Cadherin and Cytokeratin7. We found that, in HTR8/SVneo cells, both genes were silenced and their promoters hypermethylated, as compared with the high-level gene expression and promoter hypomethylation observed in BeWo cells. This result suggests that dynamic DNA methylation of epithelial marker genes plays a critical role in the trophoblast EMT process. To verify these results, we treated HTR8/SVneo cells with 5-aza-dC, a known inhibitor of DNA methyltransferase, for three days. 5-aza-dC treatment significantly increased the expression of epithelial marker genes and slightly decreased the expression of mesenchymal genes, as detected by qRT-PCR, immunocytochemistry and Western blot. Furthermore, 5-aza-dC treated HTR8/SVneo cells changed their morphology from mesenchymal into epithelial phenotype, indicating that 5-aza-dC induced mesenchymal to epithelial transition. Lastly, we examined the effect of 5-aza-dC on trophoblast migration and invasion capacity. We applied 5-aza-dC to HTR8/SVneo cells in trans-well cell migration and invasion assays and found that 5-aza-dC treatment decreased trophoblast migration and invasion capacity. In conclusion, DNA methylation of epithelial marker genes represents a potential molecular mechanism for the process of trophoblast EMT.
PMCID: PMC3593992  PMID: 23376068
DNA methylation; Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition; Trophoblast Invasion
17.  Anti-Diabetic Effects of CTB-APSL Fusion Protein in Type 2 Diabetic Mice 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(3):1512-1529.
To determine whether cholera toxin B subunit and active peptide from shark liver (CTB-APSL) fusion protein plays a role in treatment of type 2 diabetic mice, the CTB-APSL gene was cloned and expressed in silkworm (Bombyx mori) baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS), then the fusion protein was orally administrated at a dose of 100 mg/kg for five weeks in diabetic mice. The results demonstrated that the oral administration of CTB-APSL fusion protein can effectively reduce the levels of both fasting blood glucose (FBG) and glycosylated hemoglobin (GHb), promote insulin secretion and improve insulin resistance, significantly improve lipid metabolism, reduce triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, as well as effectively improve the inflammatory response of type 2 diabetic mice through the reduction of the levels of inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Histopathology shows that the fusion protein can significantly repair damaged pancreatic tissue in type 2 diabetic mice, significantly improve hepatic steatosis and hepatic cell cloudy swelling, reduce the content of lipid droplets in type 2 diabetic mice, effectively inhibit renal interstitial inflammatory cells invasion and improve renal tubular epithelial cell nucleus pyknosis, thus providing an experimental basis for the development of a new type of oral therapy for type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3967224  PMID: 24633252
active peptide from shark liver; cholera toxin B subunit; Bombyx mori pupae; type 2 diabetes mellitus; oral administration
18.  Inhibition of Aflatoxin Synthesis in Aspergillus flavus by Three Structurally Modified Lentinans 
The chemical properties of β-glucans leading to their inhibition on aflatoxin (AF) production by Aspergillus flavus remain unclear. In this study, structurally modified lentinan derivatives were prepared by carboxymethylation, sulfation, and phosphorylation to explore their inhibition activity to AF synthesis. The results demonstrated that inhibitory activity of lentinan decreased at higher or lower concentrations than 200 μg/mL. Compared with lentinan, the sulphated derivatives only performed a reduced optimal inhibition rate at a higher concentration. The phosphorylated derivatives achieved complete inhibition of AF production at 50 μg/mL, but the inhibitory activity was attenuated with an increase of concentration. The minimum concentration of carboxymethylated derivatives to completely inhibit AF synthesis was the same as that of the original lentinan, whereas their inhibition activity was not reduced at the increasing concentration. RT-PCR analyses were conducted to understand the effects of lentinan and its carboxymethylated derivatives on the transcription of certain genes associated with AF biosynthesis. The results showed that lentinan delayed the transcription of aflQ, whereas its carboxymethylated derivatives promoted the transcriptions of all the tested genes. Our results revealed that some chemical group features apart from the β-bond could play the vital role in the prevention of AF formation by polysaccharide, and highlighted the structural modifications which could promote its practicability in the control of aflatoxin contamination.
PMCID: PMC3975372  PMID: 24599078
lentinan; aflatoxin; structural modification; Aspergillus flavus
19.  Influence of Working Memory Task and Time on Postural Control of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
[Purpose] To investigate how balance changes develop across time under different conditions (with or without a memory task) for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). [Subjects and Methods] The participants were 11 children with ADHD and 12 normal children. To determine their static balance ability, a force plate was used to measure the center of the pressure trajectory. [Results] The length of the sway path became slightly greater in both groups when an additional memory task was added, but the difference was not statistically significant. However, it was interesting to note a significant difference in memory task ability across groups with increasing time. The ADHD group showed a decrease sway path with increasing time for the memory task, but in the control group it increased. [Conclusion] At first, the memory task interfered with ADHD children’s performance; however, the memory task may improve their performance after a few seconds.
PMCID: PMC3976000
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Sway path; Mental task
20.  Epigenetic silencing of miR-375 induces trastuzumab resistance in HER2-positive breast cancer by targeting IGF1R 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:134.
Resistance to humanized monoclonal erbB2/HER2 antibody, trastuzumab (Herceptin), has become a pivotal obstacle for targeted therapy of HER2-positive breast cancers. The activation of alternative growth factor receptors, in particular, the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R), represents a common feature of trastuzumab-refractory cells; however, the underlying mechanism remains elusive.
Trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer SKBr-3 cells were generated by long-term in vitro culture of SKBr-3 cells in the presence of trastuzumab. Among the differentially expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) screened by microarray analysis, candidate miRNA(s) predicted to target IGF1R was studied for its role in conferring trastuzumab resistance. The mechanism underlying decreased expression of IGF1R-targeted miRNA in refractory cells was also addressed.
miR-375, which was downregulated and predicted to target IGF1R in trastuzumab-resistant HER2-positive breast cancer cells, could indeed inhibit the cellular luciferase activity in a reporter construct containing the 3′-UTR of IGF1R. Overexpression of miR-375 restored the sensitivity of cells to trastuzumab, while inhibition of miR-375 conferred trastuzumab resistance on HER2-positive breast cancer cells. Blockade of DNA methylation and histone deacetylation restored the expression of miR-375 in trastuzumab-resistant cells. A reverse correlation between the levels of miR-375 and IGF1R was validated in clinical breast cancers.
Epigenetic silencing of miR-375 causes the upregulation of IGF1R, which at least partially underlies trastuzumab resistance of breast cancer cells. Our study has implications for miR-375 as a potential target in combination with trastuzumab for treating HER2-positive breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC3974046  PMID: 24571711
miR-375; Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor; Trastuzumab resistance; erbB2/HER2; Breast cancer
21.  ALDH16A1 is a novel non-catalytic enzyme that may be involved in the etiology of gout via protein–protein interactions with HPRT1 
Chemico-biological interactions  2013;202(0):22-31.
Gout, a common form of inflammatory arthritis, is strongly associated with elevated uric acid concentrations in the blood (hyperuricemia). A recent study in Icelanders identified a rare missense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the ALDH16A1 gene, ALDH16A1*2, to be associated with gout and serum uric acid levels. ALDH16A1 is a novel and rather unique member of the ALDH superfamily in relation to its gene and protein structures. ALDH16 genes are present in fish, amphibians, protista, bacteria but absent from archaea, fungi and plants. In most mammalian species, two ALDH16A1 spliced variants (ALDH16A1, long form and ALDH16A1_v2, short form) have been identified and both are expressed in HepG-2, HK-2 and HK-293 human cell lines. The ALDH16 proteins contain two ALDH domains (as opposed to one in the other members of the superfamily), four transmembrane and one coiled-coil domains. The active site of ALDH16 proteins from bacterial, frog and lower animals contain the catalytically important cysteine residue (Cys-302); this residue is absent from the mammalian and fish orthologs. Molecular modeling predicts that both the short and long forms of human ALDH16A1 protein would lack catalytic activity but may interact with the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT1) protein, a key enzyme involved in uric acid metabolism and gout. Interestingly, such protein-protein interactions with HPRT1 are predicted to be impaired for the long or short forms of ALDH16A1*2. These results lead to the intriguing possibility that association between ALDH16A1 and HPRT1 may be required for optimal HPRT activity with disruption of this interaction possibly contributing to the hyperuricemia seen in ALDH16A1*2 carriers.
PMCID: PMC3746320  PMID: 23348497
Aldehyde dehydrogenases; ALDH16A1; Gout; Hyperuricemia; HPRT1; Protein; protein interactions
22.  The Functional Influences of Common ABCB1 Genetic Variants on the Inhibition of P-glycoprotein by Antrodia cinnamomea Extracts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89622.
Antrodia cinnamomea is a traditional healthy food that has been demonstrated to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anticacer effects. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the ethanolic extract of A. cinnamomea (EEAC) can affect the efflux function of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and the effect of ABCB1 genetic variants on the interaction between EEAC and P-gp. To investigate the mechanism of this interaction, Flp-In™-293 cells stably transfected with various genotypes of human P-gp were established and the expression of P-gp was confirmed by Western blot. The results of the rhodamine 123 efflux assay demonstrated that EEAC efficiently inhibited wild-type P-gp function at an IC50 concentration of 1.51±0.08 µg/mL through non-competitive inhibition. The IC50 concentrations for variant-type 1236T-2677T-3435T P-gp and variant-type 1236T-2677A-3435T P-gp were 5.56±0.49 µg/mL and 3.33±0.67 µg/mL, respectively. In addition, the inhibition kinetics of EEAC also changed to uncompetitive inhibition in variant-type 1236T-2677A-3435T P-gp. The ATPase assay revealed that EEAC was an ATPase stimulator and was capable of reducing verapamil-induced ATPase levels. These results indicate that EEAC may be a potent P-gp inhibitor and higher dosages may be required in subjects carrying variant-types P-gp. Further studies are required to translate this basic knowledge into clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3934917  PMID: 24586917
23.  Cell-specific translational profiling in acute kidney injury 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(3):1242-1254.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) promotes an abrupt loss of kidney function that results in substantial morbidity and mortality. Considerable effort has gone toward identification of diagnostic biomarkers and analysis of AKI-associated molecular events; however, most studies have adopted organ-wide approaches and have not elucidated the interplay among different cell types involved in AKI pathophysiology. To better characterize AKI-associated molecular and cellular events, we developed a mouse line that enables the identification of translational profiles in specific cell types. This strategy relies on CRE recombinase–dependent activation of an EGFP-tagged L10a ribosomal protein subunit, which allows translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) of mRNA populations in CRE-expressing cells. Combining this mouse line with cell type–specific CRE-driver lines, we identified distinct cellular responses in an ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) model of AKI. Twenty-four hours following IRI, distinct translational signatures were identified in the nephron, kidney interstitial cell populations, vascular endothelium, and macrophages/monocytes. Furthermore, TRAP captured known IRI-associated markers, validating this approach. Biological function annotation, canonical pathway analysis, and in situ analysis of identified response genes provided insight into cell-specific injury signatures. Our study provides a deep, cell-based view of early injury-associated molecular events in AKI and documents a versatile, genetic tool to monitor cell-specific and temporal-specific biological processes in disease modeling.
PMCID: PMC3938273  PMID: 24569379
24.  Reduction of IL-17A Might Suppress the Th1 Response and Promote the Th2 Response by Boosting the Function of Treg Cells during Silica-Induced Inflammatory Response In Vitro 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:570894.
Silica inhalation can induce chronic lung inflammation and fibrosis. Upon silica stimulation, activated macrophages trigger the T-lymphocyte which can differentiate into many different types of Th cells, including the recently discovered Th17 cells. IL-17A, the typical Th17 cytokine, is reported in some inflammatory diseases. However, the role of IL-17A in silica-induced inflammatory response is still not clear. The regulatory mechanism of silica-induced Th17 response also needs to be investigated. So we established a mice primary cell coculture system (macrophage and lymphocyte) to investigate the role of IL-17A in silica-induced inflammatory response in vitro, by using anti-IL-17A mAb and IL-1Ra. Both anti-IL-17A mAb and IL-1Ra decreased the level of IL-17A and increased the function of Treg cells. The Th1 response was suppressed and the Th2 response was promoted by the addition of anti-IL-17A mAb or IL-1Ra. IL-1Ra treatment decreased the level of IL-6, whereas the levels of IL-23 and ROR-γt were increased. Our study demonstrated that IL-17A reduction altered the pattern of silica-induced Th responses by boosting the function of Treg cells in vitro. Blocking the function of IL-1 signal pathway could suppress the level of IL-17A, which played the major role in modulating silica-induced Th responses in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3945471
25.  Gene expression profiling of CD4+ T cells in treatment-naive HIV, HCV mono- or co-infected Chinese 
Virology Journal  2014;11:27.
Because of the shared transmission routes, co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HIV) is very common. Accumulated clinical evidence showed that one could alter the infectious course of the other virus in HIV and HCV co-infected individuals. However, little is known on the molecular basis of HIV/HCV interactions and their modulations on hosts.
In this study, treatment-naive HIV, HCV mono-/co-infected individuals with CD4+ T cell counts >300/μl were recruited and their gene expression profiles were investigated by microarray assays. The differentially expressed genes were identified and validated by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). To further understand the biological meanings of the gene expression profiles in these three groups, GSEA analysis (version 2.0, Broad Institute was performed.
By gene set enrichment analysis, we revealed that gene sets of cell cycle progression, innate immune response and some transcription factors in CD4+ T cells were mainly affected by HIV; while genes associated with GPCR signaling were the major targets of HCV. Metabolic pathways were modulated by both HCV and HIV viruses.
This study for the first time offers gene profiling basis for HCV/HIV mono-/co- infections in human beings. HIV infection displayed the great impact on transcription profile of CD4+ T cells in HIV/HCV co-infected individuals. Genes related to cell cycle arrest were significantly mediated by HIV which may lead to dysfunction of CD4+ T cells and acceleration of HCV-related disease progression in the co-infections.
PMCID: PMC3943807  PMID: 24520951
HIV; HCV; Co-infection; Microarray; CD4+ T cells

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