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1.  EDITORIAL Neuroglia as a Central Element of Neurological Diseases: An Underappreciated Target for Therapeutic Intervention  
Current Neuropharmacology  2014;12(4):303-307.
Neuroglia of the central nervous system (CNS), represented by cells of neural (astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and NG2 glial cells) and myeloid (microglia) origins are fundamental for homeostasis of the nervous tissue. Astrocytes are critical for the development of the CNS, they are indispensable for synaptogenesis, and they define structural organisation of the nervous tissue, as well as the generation and maintenance of CNS-blood and cerebrospinal fluid-blood barriers. Astroglial cells control homeostasis of ions and neurotransmitters and provide neurones with metabolic support. Oligodendrocytes, through the process of myelination, as well as by homoeostatic support of axons provide for interneuronal connectivity. The NG2 cells receive direct synaptic inputs, and might be important elements of adult remyelination. Microglial cells, which originate from foetal macrophages invading the brain early in embryogenesis, shape the synaptic connections through removing of redundant synapses and phagocyting apoptotic neurones. Neuroglia also form the defensive system of the CNS through complex and context-specific programmes of activation, known as reactive gliosis. Many neurological diseases are associated with neurogliopathologies represented by asthenic and atrophic changes in glial cells that, through the loss or diminution of their homeostatic and defensive functions, assist evolution of pathology. Conceptually, neurological and psychiatric disorders can be regarded as failures of neuroglial homeostatic/ defensive responses, and, hence, glia represent a (much underappreciated) target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC4207070  PMID: 25342938
Astrocyte; microglia; neurodegeneration; neuroglia; neurological diseases; NG-2 cells; oligodendrocyte; psychiatric diseases; therapy.
2.  Fluoxetine and all other SSRIs are 5-HT2B Agonists - Importance for their Therapeutic Effects 
Current Neuropharmacology  2014;12(4):365-379.
Fluoxetine and other serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are generally thought to owe their therapeutic potency to inhibition of the serotonin transporter (SERT). However, research in our laboratory showed that it affects, with relatively high affinity the 5-HT2B receptor in cultured astrocytes; this finding was confirmed by independent observations showing that fluoxetine loses its ability to elicit SSRI-like responses in behavioral assays in mice in which the 5-HT2B receptor was knocked-out genetically or inhibited pharmacologically. All clinically used SSRIs are approximately equipotent towards 5-HT2B receptors and exert their effect on cultured astrocytes at concentrations similar to those used clinically, a substantial difference from their effect on SERT. We have demonstrated up-regulation and editing of astrocytic genes for ADAR2, the kainate receptor GluK2, cPLA2 and the 5-HT2B receptor itself after chronic treatment of cultures, which do not express SERT and after treatment of mice (expressing SERT) for 2 weeks with fluoxetine, followed by isolation of astrocytic and neuronal cell fractionation. Affected genes were identical in both experimental paradigms. Fluoxetine treatment also altered Ca2+ homeostatic cascades, in a specific way that differs from that seen after treatment with the anti-bipolar drugs carbamazepine, lithium, or valproic acid. All changes occurred after a lag period similar to what is seen for fluoxetine’s clinical effects, and some of the genes were altered in the opposite direction by mild chronic inescapable stress, known to cause anhedonia, a component of major depression. In the anhedonic mice these changes were reversed by treatment with SSRIs.
PMCID: PMC4207076  PMID: 25342944
Astrocytes; gene expression; 5-HT2A receptor; 5-HT2B receptor; SSRIs.
3.  BRD4 Inhibitor Inhibits Colorectal Cancer Growth and Metastasis 
Post-translational modifications have been identified to be of great importance in cancers and lysine acetylation, which can attract the multifunctional transcription factor BRD4, has been identified as a potential therapeutic target. In this paper, we identify that BRD4 has an important role in colorectal cancer; and that its inhibition substantially wipes out tumor cells. Treatment with inhibitor MS417 potently affects cancer cells, although such effects were not always outright necrosis or apoptosis. We report that BRD4 inhibition also limits distal metastasis by regulating several key proteins in the progression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). This effect of BRD4 inhibitor is demonstrated via liver metastasis in animal model as well as migration and invasion experiments in vitro. Together, our results demonstrate a new application of BRD4 inhibitor that may be of clinical use by virtue of its ability to limit metastasis while also being tumorcidal.
PMCID: PMC4307342  PMID: 25603177
colorectal cancer; BRD4; MS417; metastasis; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)
4.  Inhibition of Brain Swelling after Ischemia-Reperfusion by β-Adrenergic Antagonists: Correlation with Increased K+ and Decreased Ca2+ Concentrations in Extracellular Fluid 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:873590.
Infarct size and brain edema following ischemia/reperfusion are reduced by inhibitors of the Na+, K+, 2Cl−, and water cotransporter NKCC1 and by β1-adrenoceptor antagonists. NKCC1 is a secondary active transporter, mainly localized in astrocytes, driven by transmembrane Na+/K+ gradients generated by the Na+,K+-ATPase. The astrocytic Na+,K+-ATPase is stimulated by small increases in extracellular K+ concentration and by the β-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol. Larger K+ increases, as occurring during ischemia, also stimulate NKCC1, creating cell swelling. This study showed no edema after 3 hr medial cerebral artery occlusion but pronounced edema after 8 hr reperfusion. The edema was abolished by inhibitors of specifically β1-adrenergic pathways, indicating failure of K+-mediated, but not β1-adrenoceptor-mediated, stimulation of Na+,K+-ATPase/NKCC1 transport during reoxygenation. Ninety percent reduction of extracellular Ca2+ concentration occurs in ischemia. Ca2+ omission abolished K+ uptake in normoxic cultures of astrocytes after addition of 5 mM KCl. A large decrease in ouabain potency on K+ uptake in cultured astrocytes was also demonstrated in Ca2+-depleted media, and endogenous ouabains are needed for astrocytic K+ uptake. Thus, among the ionic changes induced by ischemia, the decrease in extracellular Ca2+ causes failure of the high-K+-stimulated Na+,K+-ATPase/NKCC1 ion/water uptake, making β1-adrenergic activation the only stimulus and its inhibition effective against edema.
PMCID: PMC4247955  PMID: 25478577
5.  A novel Alu-based real-time PCR method for the quantitative detection of plasma circulating cell-free DNA: Sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of myocardial infarction 
In the present study, we aimed to develop and validate a rapid and sensitive, Alu-based real-time PCR method for the detection of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA). This method targeted repetitive elements of the Alu reduplicative elements in the human genome, followed by signal amplification using fluorescence quantification. Standard Alu-puc57 vectors were constructed and 5 pairs of specific primers were designed. Valuation was conducted concerning linearity, variation and recovery. We found 5 linear responses (R1–5=0.998–0.999). The average intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variance were 12.98 and 10.75%, respectively. The recovery was 82.33–114.01%, with a mean recovery index of 101.26%. This Alu-based assay was reliable, accurate and sensitive for the quantitative detection of cfDNA. Plasma from normal controls and patients with myocardial infarction (MI) were analyzed, and the baseline levels of cfDNA were higher in the MI group. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for Alu1, Alu2, Alu3, Alu4, Alu5 and Alu (Alu1 + Alu2 + Alu3 + Alu4 + Alu5) was 0.887, 0.758, 0.857, 0.940, 0.968 and 0.933, respectively. The optimal cut-off value for Alu1, Alu2, Alu3, Alu4, Alu5 and Alu to predict MI was 3.71, 1.93, 0.22, 3.73, 6.13 and 6.40 log copies/ml. We demonstrate that this new method is a reliable, accurate and sensitive method for the quantitative detection of cfDNA and that it is useful for studying the regulation of cfDNA in certain pathological conditions. Alu4, Alu5 and Alu showed better sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of MI compared with cardiac troponin I (cTnI), creatine kinase MB (CK-MB) isoenzyme and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Alu5 had the best prognostic ability.
PMCID: PMC4249756  PMID: 25374065
cell-free DNA; Alu; real-time PCR; myocardial infarction
6.  Liver myofibroblasts from hepatitis B related liver failure patients may regulate natural killer cell function via PGE2 
Natural killer (NK) cells are abundant in the liver and constitute a major innate immune component that contributes to immune-mediated liver injury. However, few studies have investigated the phenotypes and functions of NK cells involved in hepatitis B related liver failure (LF), and the precise mechanism underlying NK cell regulation is not fully understood.
We detected the percentage and function of peripheral NK cells both in hepatitis B related LF patients and healthy volunteers by flow cytometry and isolated the liver myofibroblasts (LMFs) from hepatitis B related LF livers. To determine the possible effects of LMFs on NK cells, mixed cell cultures were established in vitro.
We found a down-regulated percentage of peripheral NK cells in hepatitis B related LF patients, and their NK cells also displayed decreased activated natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) and cytokine production. In a co-culture model, LMFs sharply attenuated IL-2-induced NK cell triggering receptors, cytotoxicity, and cytokine production. The inhibitory effect of LMFs on NK cells correlated with their ability to produce prostaglandin (PG) E2.
These data suggest that LMFs may protect against immune-mediated liver injury in hepatitis B related LF patients by inhibiting NK cell function via PGE2.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-014-0308-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4232720  PMID: 25367326
Liver myofibroblasts; Natural killer cell; Immune-mediated liver injury; Liver failure; Hepatitis B
7.  Characteristics and Stability of Mercury Vapor Adsorption over Two Kinds of Modified Semicoke 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:260141.
In an attempt to produce effective and lower price gaseous Hg0 adsorbents, two methods of HCl and KMnO4/heat treatment were used respectively for the surface modification of liginite semicoke from inner Mongolia. The different effects of modification process on the surface physical and chemical properties were analyzed. The characteristics and stability of mercury vapor adsorption over two kinds of modified semicoke were investigated. The results indicated that modification process caused lower micropore quantity and volume capacity of semicoke; the C-Cl functional groups, C=O bond and delocalized electron π on the surface of Cl-SC, the amorphous higher valency Mnx+, and O=C–OH functional groups on the surface of Mn-H-SC were the active sites for oxidation and adsorption of gaseous Hg0. Modification process led to higher mercury removal efficiency of semicoke at 140°C and reduced the stability of adsorbed mercury of semicoke in simulated water circumstance simultaneously.
PMCID: PMC4181944  PMID: 25309948
8.  Efficacy analysis of tyrosine kinase inhibitors on rare non-small cell lung cancer patients harboring complex EGFR mutations 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6104.
The efficacy of epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI) in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is related to EGFR mutations. Although the p.L858R point mutation in exon 21 and the in-frame deletion mutation in exon 19 are well known, efficacy of EGFR-TKI in patients with more than one EGFR mutation is not well understood. 799 NSCLC patients were screened for EGFR mutations. Of the 799 patients, 443 (55.4%) had mutations, out of which 22 (2.75%) had multiple complex mutations. Most multiple mutations (20/22) harbored common mutations such as the p.L858R point mutation in exon 21 and the in-frame deletion mutation in exon 19. 11 out of 22 patients who had multiple EGFR mutations underwent TKI therapy and primary end-points of progression free and overall survival were determined. Our analysis revealed that cases with multiple mutations had similar end-point outcomes as single mutation to TKI therapy. Report of these cases will be helpful in decision making for treatment of NSCLC patients harboring multiple EGFR mutations.
PMCID: PMC4135336  PMID: 25130612
9.  Role of the Intracellular Nucleoside Transporter ENT3 in Transmitter and High K+ Stimulation of Astrocytic ATP Release Investigated Using siRNA Against ENT3 
ASN NEURO  2014;6(4):1759091414543439.
This study investigates the role of the intracellular adenosine transporter equilibrative nucleoside transporter 3 (ENT3) in stimulated release of the gliotransmitter adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from astrocytes. Within the past 20 years, our understanding of the importance of astrocytic handling of adenosine, its phosphorylation to ATP, and release of astrocytic ATP as an important transmitter has become greatly expanded. A recent demonstration that the mainly intracellular nucleoside transporter ENT3 shows much higher expression in freshly isolated astrocytes than in a corresponding neuronal preparation leads to the suggestion that it was important for the synthesis of gliotransmitter ATP from adenosine. This would be consistent with a previously noted delay in transmitter release of ATP in astrocytes but not in neurons. The present study has confirmed and quantitated stimulated ATP release in response to glutamate, adenosine, or an elevated K+ concentration from well-differentiated astrocyte cultures, measured by a luciferin–luciferase reaction. It showed that the stimulated ATP release was abolished by downregulation of ENT3 with small interfering RNA (siRNA), regardless of the stimulus. The concept that transmitter ATP in mature astrocytes is synthesized directly from adenosine prior to release is supported by the postnatal development of the expression of the vesicular transporter SLC17A9 in astrocytes. In neurons, this transporter carries ATP into synaptic vesicles, but in astrocytes, its expression is pronounced only in immature cells and shows a rapid decline during the first 3 postnatal weeks so that it has almost disappeared at the end of the third week in well-differentiated astrocytes, where its role has probably been taken over by ENT3.
PMCID: PMC4187002  PMID: 25298788
adenosine; ATP release; ENT3; gliotransmitter; glutamate; SLC17A9
10.  TRB3 Is Involved in Free Fatty Acid-Induced INS-1-Derived Cell Apoptosis via the Protein Kinase C δ Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96089.
Chronic exposure to free fatty acids (FFAs) may induce β cell apoptosis in type 2 diabetes. However, the precise mechanism by which FFAs trigger β cell apoptosis is still unclear. Tribbles homolog 3 (TRB3) is a pseudokinase inhibiting Akt, a key mediator of insulin signaling, and contributes to insulin resistance in insulin target tissues. This paper outlined the role of TRB3 in FFAs-induced INS-1 β cell apoptosis. TRB3 was promptly induced in INS-1 cells after stimulation by FFAs, and this was accompanied by enhanced INS-1 cell apoptosis. The overexpression of TRB3 led to exacerbated apoptosis triggered by FFAs in INS-1-derived cell line and the subrenal capsular transplantation animal model. In contrast, cell apoptosis induced by FFAs was attenuated when TRB3 was knocked down. Moreover, we observed that activation and nuclear accumulation of protein kinase C (PKC) δ was enhanced by upregulation of TRB3. Preventing PKCδ nuclear translocation and PKCδ selective antagonist both significantly lessened the pro-apoptotic effect. These findings suggest that TRB3 was involved in lipoapoptosis of INS-1 β cell, and thus could be an attractive pharmacological target in the prevention and treatment of T2DM.
PMCID: PMC4019472  PMID: 24824999
11.  Mitochondrial Regulation of NADPH Oxidase in Hindlimb Unweighting Rat Cerebral Arteries 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95916.
Exposure to microgravity results in post-flight cardiovascular deconditioning and orthostatic intolerance in astronauts. Vascular oxidative stress injury and mitochondrial dysfunction have been indicated in this process. To elucidate the mechanism for this condition, we investigated whether mitochondria regulated NADPH oxidase in hindlimb unweighting (HU) rat cerebral and mesenteric arteries. Four-week HU was used to simulate microgravity in rats. Vascular superoxide generation, protein and mRNA levels of Nox2/Nox4, and the activity of NADPH oxidase were examined in the present study. Compared with control rats, the levels of superoxide increased in cerebral (P<0.001) but not in mesenteric vascular smooth muscle cells. The protein and mRNA levels of Nox2 and Nox4 were upregulated significantly (P<0.001 and P<0.001 for Nox2, respectively; P<0.001 and P<0.001 for Nox4, respectively) in HU rat cerebral arteries but not in mesenteric arteries. NADPH oxidases were activated significantly by HU (P<0.001) in cerebral arteries but not in mesenteric arteries. Chronic treatment with mitochondria-targeted antioxidant mitoTEMPO attenuated superoxide levels (P<0.001), decreased the protein and mRNA expression levels of Nox2/Nox4 (P<0.01 and P<0.05 for Nox2, respectively; P<0.001 and P<0.001 for Nox4, respectively) and the activity of NADPH oxidase (P<0.001) in HU rat cerebral arteries, but exerted no effects on HU rat mesenteric arteries. Therefore, mitochondria regulated the expression and activity of NADPH oxidases during simulated microgravity. Both mitochondria and NADPH oxidase participated in vascular redox status regulation.
PMCID: PMC3997512  PMID: 24759683
12.  Signal Transduction in Astrocytes during Chronic or Acute Treatment with Drugs (SSRIs, Antibipolar Drugs, GABA-ergic Drugs, and Benzodiazepines) Ameliorating Mood Disorders 
Journal of Signal Transduction  2014;2014:593934.
Chronic treatment with fluoxetine or other so-called serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) or with a lithium salt “lithium”, carbamazepine, or valproic acid, the three classical antibipolar drugs, exerts a multitude of effects on astrocytes, which in turn modulate astrocyte-neuronal interactions and brain function. In the case of the SSRIs, they are to a large extent due to 5-HT2B-mediated upregulation and editing of genes. These alterations induce alteration in effects of cPLA2, GluK2, and the 5-HT2B receptor, probably including increases in both glucose metabolism and glycogen turnover, which in combination have therapeutic effect on major depression. The ability of increased levels of extracellular K+ to increase [Ca2+]i is increased as a sign of increased K+-induced excitability in astrocytes. Acute anxiolytic drug treatment with benzodiazepines or GABAA receptor stimulation has similar glycogenolysis-enhancing effects. The antibipolar drugs induce intracellular alkalinization in astrocytes with lithium acting on one acid extruder and carbamazepine and valproic acid on a different acid extruder. They inhibit K+-induced and transmitter-induced increase of astrocytic [Ca2+]i and thereby probably excitability. In several cases, they exert different changes in gene expression than SSRIs, determined both in cultured astrocytes and in freshly isolated astrocytes from drug-treated animals.
PMCID: PMC3953578  PMID: 24707399
13.  Midkine, a Potential Link between Obesity and Insulin Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88299.
Obesity is associated with increased production of inflammatory mediators in adipose tissue, which contributes to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Midkine (MK) is a heparin-binding growth factor with potent proinflammatory activities. We aimed to test whether MK is associated with obesity and has a role in insulin resistance. It was found that MK was expressed in adipocytes and regulated by inflammatory modulators (TNF-α and rosiglitazone). In addition, a significant increase in MK levels was observed in adipose tissue of obese ob/ob mice as well as in serum of overweight/obese subjects when compared with their respective controls. In vitro studies further revealed that MK impaired insulin signaling in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, as indicated by reduced phosphorylation of Akt and IRS-1 and decreased translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to the plasma membrane in response to insulin stimulation. Moreover, MK activated the STAT3-suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) pathway in adipocytes. Thus, MK is a novel adipocyte-secreted factor associated with obesity and inhibition of insulin signaling in adipocytes. It may provide a potential link between obesity and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3917881  PMID: 24516630
14.  Plasmonic-cavity model for radiating nano-rod antennas 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3825.
In this paper, we propose the analytical solution of nano-rod antennas utilizing a cylindrical harmonics expansion. By treating the metallic nano-rods as plasmonic cavities, we derive closed-form expressions for both the internal and the radiated fields, as well as the resonant condition and the radiation efficiency. With our theoretical model, we show that besides the plasmonic resonances, efficient radiation takes advantage of (a) rendering a large value of the rods' radius and (b) a central-fed profile, through which the radiation efficiency can reach up to 70% and even higher in a wide frequency band. Our theoretical expressions and conclusions are general and pave the way for engineering and further optimization of optical antenna systems and their radiation patterns.
PMCID: PMC3899622  PMID: 24451848
15.  Role of the nucleus tractus solitarii in the protection of pre-moxibustion on gastric mucosal lesions 
Neural Regeneration Research  2014;9(2):198-204.
Previous studies have shown that somatic sensation by acupuncture and visceral nociceptive stimulation can converge in the nucleus tractus solitarii where neurons integrate signals impacting on the function of organs. To explore the role of the nucleus tractus solitarii in the protective mechanism of pre-moxibustion on gastric mucosa, nucleus tractus solitarii were damaged in rats and pre-moxibustion treatment at the Zusanli (ST36) point followed. The gastric mucosa was then damaged by the anhydrous ethanol lavage method. Morphological observations, enzyme linked immunosorbent assays, and western immunoblot analyses showed that gastric mucosa surface lesion and the infiltration of inflammatory cells were significantly ameliorated after pre-moxibustion treatment. Furthermore, the gastric mucosal damage index and somatostatin level were reduced, and epidermal growth factor content in the gastric mucosa and heat-shock protein-70 expression were increased. These results were reversed by damage to the nucleus tractus solitarii. These findings suggest that moxibustion pretreatment at the Zusanli point is protective against acute gastric mucosa injury, and nucleus tractus solitarii damage inhibits these responses. Therefore, the nucleus tractus solitarii may be an important area for regulating the signal transduction of the protective effect of pre-moxibustion on gastric mucosa.
PMCID: PMC4146166  PMID: 25206801
nerve regeneration; traditional Chinese medicine; moxibustion; nucleus tractus solitarii; gastric mucosal lesion; heat shock protein-70; epidermal growth factor; somatostatin; NSFC grant; neural regeneration
16.  Role of glycogenolysis in stimulation of ATP release from cultured mouse astrocytes by transmitters and high K+ concentrations 
ASN NEURO  2014;6(1):e00132.
This study investigates the role of glycogenolysis in stimulated release of ATP as a transmitter from astrocytes. Within the last 20 years our understanding of brain glycogenolysis has changed from it being a relatively uninteresting process to being a driving force for essential brain functions like production of transmitter glutamate and homoeostasis of potassium ions (K+) after their release from excited neurons. Simultaneously, the importance of astrocytic handling of adenosine, its phosphorylation to ATP and release of some astrocytic ATP, located in vesicles, as an important transmitter has also become to be realized. Among the procedures stimulating Ca2+-dependent release of vesicular ATP are exposure to such transmitters as glutamate and adenosine, which raise intra-astrocytic Ca2+ concentration, or increase of extracellular K+ to a depolarizing level that opens astrocytic L-channels for Ca2+ and thereby also increase intra-astrocytic Ca2+ concentration, a prerequisite for glycogenolysis. The present study has confirmed and quantitated stimulated ATP release from well differentiated astrocyte cultures by glutamate, adenosine or elevated extracellular K+ concentrations, measured by a luciferin/luciferase reaction. It has also shown that this release is virtually abolished by an inhibitor of glycogenolysis as well as by inhibitors of transmitter-mediated signaling or of L-channel opening by elevated K+ concentrations.
Stimulation of Ca2+-dependent astrocytic ATP release by glutamate, adenosine or high K+ concentration is abolished by inhibition of glycogenolysis, probably due to signaling inhibition. This is consistent with the K+-mediated pathway, but glycogenolysis-sensitive steps in the transmitter pathways are unknown.
PMCID: PMC3891497  PMID: 24328680
adenosine; astrocyte; ATP release; glutamate; glycogen; potassium; DAB, 1,4-dideoxy-1,4-imino-D-arabinitol; dBcAMP, dibutyryl cAMP; DMEM, Dulbecco’s Minimum Essential Medium; ERK, extracellular-signal-regulated kinase; GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid; MEK, [MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase)/ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase)] kinase; MPEP, 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine; RLU, relative light unit(s)
17.  When can AQP4 assist transporter-mediated K+ uptake? 
PMCID: PMC3691449  PMID: 23752330
18.  T cell–derived inducible nitric oxide synthase switches off TH17 cell differentiation 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(7):1447-1462.
Nitric oxide derived from iNOS in activated T cells negatively regulates Th17 cell differentiation.
RORγt is necessary for the generation of TH17 cells but the molecular mechanisms for the regulation of TH17 cells are still not fully understood. We show that activation of CD4+ T cells results in the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). iNOS-deficient mice displayed enhanced TH17 cell differentiation but without major effects on either TH1 or TH2 cell lineages, whereas endothelial NOS (eNOS) or neuronal NOS (nNOS) mutant mice showed comparable TH17 cell differentiation compared with wild-type control mice. The addition of N6-(1-iminoethyl)-l-lysine dihydrochloride (L-NIL), the iNOS inhibitor, significantly enhanced TH17 cell differentiation, and S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), the NO donor, dose-dependently reduced the percentage of IL-17–producing CD4+ T cells. NO mediates nitration of tyrosine residues in RORγt, leading to the suppression of RORγt-induced IL-17 promoter activation, indicating that NO regulates IL-17 expression at the transcriptional level. Finally, studies of an experimental model of colitis showed that iNOS deficiency results in more severe inflammation with an enhanced TH17 phenotype. These results suggest that NO derived from iNOS in activated T cells plays a negative role in the regulation of TH17 cell differentiation and highlight the importance of intrinsic programs for the control of TH17 immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3698516  PMID: 23797094
19.  Expression of NF-κB, CD68 and CD105 in carotid atherosclerotic plaque 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(6):771-776.
Atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability is associated with cerebrovascular events in patients with carotid atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of inflammatory factors in carotid artherosclerotic plaques in order to explore its clinical significance in patients with carotid stenosis. Forty three patients with carotid stenosis were divided into symptomatic group (n=24) and asymptomatic group (n=19) based on clinical manifestation. All patients were treated with selective standard carotid endarterectomy (CEA); the carotid atherosclerotic plaques were removed surgically and studied pathologically to investigate the expression of nuclear factor-kappa κ (NF-κB), CD68 and CD105. The plaques were grouped into stable and unstable plaques based on thickness of the fibrous cap and the area of lipid-rich core in the plaques. The proportion of unstable plaques were significantly higher in symptomatic group than in asymptomatic group (70.8% vs. 63.2%, P=0.026). Results of immunohistochemisty staining showed that the expression of NF-κB, CD68 and CD105 in unstable plaques was higher than stable plaques (P<0.001). The association of the higher expression of these factors with instability of carotid plaque needs to be clarified in future study.
PMCID: PMC3886695  PMID: 24409354
Carotid stenosis; nuclear factor-kappa κ (NF-κB); CD68; CD105; vulnerable plaque
20.  Follistatin-Like 1: A Potential Mediator of Inflammation in Obesity 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:752519.
Obesity is associated with a state of chronic low-grade inflammation, which contributes to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. However, the molecular mechanisms that link obesity to inflammation are not fully understood. Follistatin-like 1 (FSTL1) is a novel proinflammatory cytokine that is expressed in adipose tissue and secreted by preadipocytes/adipocytes. We aimed to test whether FSTL1 could have a role in obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance. It was found that FSTL1 expression was markedly decreased during differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes but reinduced by TNF-α. Furthermore, a significant increase in FSTL1 levels was observed in adipose tissue of obese ob/ob mice, as well as in serum of overweight/obese subjects. Mechanistic studies revealed that FSTL1 induced inflammatory responses in both 3T3-L1 adipocytes and RAW264.7 macrophages. The expression of proinflammatory mediators including IL-6, TNF-α, and MCP-1 was upregulated by recombinant FSTL1 in a dose-dependent manner, paralleled with activation of the IKKβ-NFκB and JNK signaling pathways in the two cell lines. Moreover, FSTL1 impaired insulin signaling in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, as revealed by attenuated phosphorylation of both Akt and IRS-1 in response to insulin stimulation. Together, our results suggest that FSTL1 is a potential mediator of inflammation and insulin resistance in obesity.
PMCID: PMC3857907  PMID: 24347831
21.  LARP1 predict the prognosis for early-stage and AFP-normal hepatocellular carcinoma 
The La-related protein 1 (LARP1) has been found to be a RNA binding protein and was related to spermatogenesis, embryogenesis and cell-cycle progression. The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of LARP1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
LARP1 expression was examined in 15 HCC cell lines and 272 clinical specimens using real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry (IHC) and western blot analysis (WB). LARP1 expression was also studied in 6 paired HCC lesions and the adjacent non-cancerous tissue samples. Statistical analyses were applied to derive association between LARP1 expression scores and clinical characters as well as patient survival.
mRNA and protein levels of LARP1 were higher in HCC cell lines and HCC lesions than in normal liver epithelial cells and the paired adjacent noncancerous tissues. LARP1 expression was correlated to survival time, vital status, tumor size and Child-Pugh score. Overall survival analysis showed HCC patients with high LARP1 expression level had lower survival rate (P < 0.01). Importantly, this correlation remained significant in patients with early-stage HCC or with normal serum AFP level.
LARP1 protein may represent a promising biomarker for predicting the prognosis of HCC, including in early-stage and AFP-normal patients.
PMCID: PMC3814951  PMID: 24159927
LARP1; Hepatocellular carcinoma; AFP; Prognosis
22.  Serum proteomics analysis and comparisons using iTRAQ in the progression of hepatitis B 
The aim of this study was to analyze the changes in serum protein levels in the progression of hepatitis B using isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) analysis, in addition to comparing the serum protein levels of patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), patients with hepatitis B virus-induced acute-on-chronic liver failure (HBV-induced ACLF) and normal individuals. Protein analysis was performed on 15 serum samples using iTRAQ. The study population included healthy controls (n=5), patients with CHB (n=5) and patients with HBV-induced ACLF (n=5). Western blotting was used to verify the results in an additional nine serum samples from healthy controls, patients with CHB and patients with HBV-induced ACLF (n=3, respectively). Using iTRAQ analysis, 16 different serum proteins with ≥1.5-fold differences in expression levels were identified in the patients with CHB and ACLF compared with the healthy controls. Five of those proteins, C-reactive protein precursor, hemoglobin β chain variant Hb S-Wake, apolipoprotein J precursor, platelet factor 4 precursor and vitronectin, which demonstrated the greatest differences in their expression levels and the most significant correlation with liver diseases, were subsequently verified using western blotting. The western blotting results were consistent with the results from the iTRAQ. Two of the five proteins are not classified by biological process, and the biological functions of all the proteins in HBV-induced ACLF remain unclear. This preliminary study demonstrated that a correlation between the expression of various serum proteins and the different pathogenetic conditions induced by HBV may exist. The analysis of a larger number of samples is required to identify potential protein biomarkers that may be involved in the pathogenesis and progression of hepatitis B.
PMCID: PMC3820766  PMID: 24223640
serum; proteomics; isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation; hepatitis B
23.  Correction: Involvement of Dynamin-Related Protein 1 in Free Fatty Acid-Induced INS-1-Derived Cell Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):10.1371/annotation/f8ab435d-accb-4383-8784-23e6edf82f56.
PMCID: PMC3770811
24.  Correction: Involvement of Dynamin-Related Protein 1 in Free Fatty Acid-Induced INS-1-Derived Cell Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):10.1371/annotation/831aa38a-a30b-4d47-a4b3-10f5b0709158.
PMCID: PMC3737413
25.  Promotion of Hepatic Differentiation of Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Decellularized Cell-Deposited Extracellular Matrix 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:406871.
Interactions between stem cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) are requisite for inducing lineage-specific differentiation and maintaining biological functions of mesenchymal stem cells by providing a composite set of chemical and structural signals. Here we investigated if cell-deposited ECM mimicked in vivo liver's stem cell microenvironment and facilitated hepatogenic maturation. Decellularization process preserved the fibrillar microstructure and a mix of matrix proteins in cell-deposited ECM, such as type I collagen, type III collagen, fibronectin, and laminin that were identical to those found in native liver. Compared with the cells on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS), bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) cultured on cell-deposited ECM showed a spindle-like shape, a robust proliferative capacity, and a suppressed level of intracellular reactive oxygen species, accompanied with upregulation of two superoxide dismutases. Hepatocyte-like cells differentiated from BM-MSCs on ECM were determined with a more intensive staining of glycogen storage, an elevated level of urea biosynthesis, and higher expressions of hepatocyte-specific genes in contrast to those on TCPS. These results demonstrate that cell-deposited ECM can be an effective method to facilitate hepatic maturation of BM-MSCs and promote stem-cell-based liver regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC3749543  PMID: 23991414

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