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1.  Resolvin D1 promotes the interleukin-4-induced alternative activation in BV-2 microglial cells 
Background
Microglia play key roles in innate immunity, homeostasis, and neurotropic support in the central nervous system. Similar to macrophages, microglia adopt two different activation phenotypes, the classical and alternative activation. Resolvin D1 (RvD1) is considered to display potent anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving actions in inflammatory models. In this present study, we investigate the effect of RvD1 on IL-4-induced alternative activation in murine BV-2 microglial cells.
Methods
BV-2 cells were incubated with RvD1 alone, IL-4 alone, or the combination of RvD1 and IL-4. Western blot and immunofluorescence were performed to detect protein levels of alternative activation markers arginase 1 (Arg1), chitinase 3-like 3 (Ym1). Moreover, we investigated the effects of RvD1 on IL-4-induced activation of signal transducer and activators of transcription 6 (STAT6) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ).
Results
RvD1 promoted IL-4-induced microglia alternative activation by increasing the expression of Arg1 and Ym1. RvD1 also enhanced phosphorylation of STAT6, nuclear translocation of PPARγ and the DNA binding activity of STAT6 and PPARγ. These effects were reversed by butyloxycarbonyl-Phe-Leu-Phe-Leu-Phe (a formyl peptide receptor 2 antagonist). Further, the effects of RvD1 and IL-4 on Arg1 and Ym1 were blocked by the application of leflunomide (a STAT6 inhibitor) or GW9662 (a PPARγ antagonist).
Conclusions
Our studies demonstrate that RvD1 promotes IL-4-induced alternative activation via STAT6 and PPARγ signaling pathways in microglia. These findings suggest that RvD1 may have therapeutic potential for neuroinflammatory diseases.
doi:10.1186/1742-2094-11-72
PMCID: PMC3983859  PMID: 24708771
Resolvin D1; Microglia; Alternative activation; STAT6; PPARγ
2.  Thrombospondin-1 expression in melanoma is blocked by methylation and targeted reversal by 5-Aza-deoxycytidine suppresses angiogenesis 
Background
Reversibility of aberrant methylation via pharmacological means is an attractive target for therapies through epigenetic reprogramming. To establish that pharmacologic reversal of methylation could result in functional inhibition of angiogenesis, we undertook in vitro and in vivo studies of thrombospondin-1 (TSP1), a known inhibitor of angiogenesis. TSP1 is methylated in several malignancies, and can inhibit angiogenesis in melanoma xenografts. We analyzed effects of 5-Aza-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC) on melanoma cells in vitro to confirm reversal of promoter hypermethylation and restoration of TSP1 expression. We then investigated the effects of TSP1 expression on new blood vessel formation and tumor growth in vivo. Finally, to determine potential for clinical translation, the methylation status of TSP1 promoter regions of nevi and melanoma tissues was investigated.
Results
5-Aza-dC reduced DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) protein, reversed promoter hypermethylation, and restored TSP1 expression in five melanoma cell lines, while having no effect on TSP1 protein levels in normal human melanocytes. In in vivo neovascularization studies, mice were implanted with melanoma cells (A375) either untreated or treated with 5Aza-dC. Vessels at tumor sites were counted by an observer blinded to treatments and the number of tumor vessels was significantly decreased at pretreated tumor sites. This difference occurred before a significant difference in tumor volumes was seen, yet in further studies the average tumor volume in mice treated in vivo with 5-Aza-dC was decreased by 55% compared to untreated controls. Knockdown of TSP1 expression with shRNA enhanced tumor-induced angiogenesis by 68%. Analyses of promoter methylation status of TSP1 in tumors derived from untreated and treated mice identified 67% of tumors from untreated and 17% of tumors from treated mice with partial methylation consistent with the methylation specific PCR analysis of A375 cells. Examination of methylation patterns in the promoter of TSP1 and comparison of aberrantly methylated TSP1 in melanoma with non-malignant nevi identified a significantly higher frequency of promoter methylation in tumor samples from melanoma patients.
Conclusions
Pharmacological reversal of methylation silenced TSP1 had functional biological consequences in enhancing angiogenesis inhibition and inducing antitumor effects to decrease murine melanoma growth. Angiogenesis inhibition is an additional mechanism by which epigenetic modulators can have antitumor effects.
doi:10.1016/j.matbio.2012.11.010
PMCID: PMC3615071  PMID: 23202046
5-Aza-deoxycytidine; thrombospondin-1; promoter hypermethylation; methyltransferase inhibitor; anti-angiogenesis
3.  Analysis of 25(OH)D Serum Concentrations of Hospitalized Elderly Patients in the Shanghai Area 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90729.
Objective
To find an association between basic characteristics, seasons as well as disease types and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D serum concentrations in Chinese patients.
Methods
We randomly selected 5470 Chinese patients with various diseases, who were hospitalized between May 2012 and August 2013 in Shanghai and analyzed their serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D2 (25 (OH)D2) and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) concentrations with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) as well as their parathyroid hormone (PTH) and serum creatinine blood levels. The resulting data were analyzed by linear regression and variance analyses or multivariate analysis with covariance.
Results
The 25(OH)D serum concentrations were lowest in December. Among the subjects with a median age of 83.0±16.0, the median 25(OH)D2, 25(OH)D3 and total 25(OH)D serum concentrations were 1.00±1.80 ng/ml, 12.20±8.50 ng/ml and 14.80±9.80 respectively, indicating a prevalent 25(OH)D deficiency. According to our multivariate analysis of covariance, the factors affecting 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3 serum concentrations included age, creatinine, PTH, season and type of disease, whereas gender correlated only with 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D2 and D3 values correlated negatively with each other. Our results further revealed that 25(OH)D3 levels were low while 25(OH)D2 levels were high among patients with lung diseases, dyskinesia and coronary heart diseases. In addition, participants with diabetes and cerebral infarction had higher 25(OH)D3 serum concentrations compared with lung disease patients.
Conclusion
Vitamin D intake particularly during winter and summer seasons is important especially for elderly lung disease, dyskinesia and coronary heart disease patients to improve their quality of life.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090729
PMCID: PMC3944708  PMID: 24599155
4.  Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers Improve Peripheral Endothelial Function: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90217.
Objective(s)
Several studies have assessed the effect of angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) on peripheral endothelial dysfunction as measured by flow-mediated vasodilatation (FMD), a widely-used indicator for endothelial function. We conducted a meta-analysis to investigate the effect in comparison to placebo or no treatment and other antihypertensives.
Methods
MEDLINE, Cochrane library and EMBASE were searched to September 2013 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed the effect of ARBs versus placebo or no treatment and other antihypertensives (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), calcium channel blockers (CCBs), β-blockers, diuretics) by forearm FMD. Furthermore, we also use meta-regression to analyze the relationship between the endothelial function and the duration of ARBs treatments.
Results
In 11 trials including 590 patients, ARBs (n = 315) significantly improved FMD (1.36%, 95% confidence internal [CI]:1.28 to 1.44) versus placebo or no treatment (n = 275). In 16 trials that included 1028 patients, ARBs (n = 486) had a significant effect (0.59%, 95% CI: 0.25 to 0.94) on FMD when compared with other antihypertensives (n = 542). In 8 trials, ARBs (n = 174) had no significant effect (−0.14%, 95% CI: −0.32 to 0.03) compared with ACEI (n = 173). Compared with others, the benefits of ARBs, respectively, were 1.67% (95% CI: 0.65 to 0.93) in 7 trials with CCBs, 0.79% (95% CI: 0.42 to 1.01) with β-blockers in 3 trials and 0.9% (95% CI: 0.77 to 1.03) with diuretics in 3 trials. Importantly, we found ARBs were less effective in a long time span (95% CI: −1.990 to −0.622) than the first 6 months (95% CI: −0.484 to 0.360).
Conclusions
This study shows that ARBs improve peripheral endothelial function and are superior to CCBs, β-blockers and diuretics. However, the effect couldn't be maintained for a long time. In addition, there was no significant difference between ARBs and ACEI.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090217
PMCID: PMC3940822  PMID: 24595033
5.  Functional and Structural Analysis of Influenza Virus Neuraminidase N3 Offers Further Insight into the Mechanisms of Oseltamivir Resistance 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(18):10016-10024.
The influenza virus neuraminidase H274Y substitution is a highly prevalent amino acid substitution associated with resistance to the most heavily used influenza drug, oseltamivir. Previous structural studies suggest that the group specific 252 residue (Y252 in group 1 and T252 in group 2) might be a key factor underlying H274Y resistance. However, H274Y has only been reported in N1 subtypes, which indicates that there must be additional key residues that determine H274Y resistance. Furthermore, we found that members of NA serotype N3 also possess Y252, raising the key question as to whether or not H274Y resistance may also be possible for some group 2 NAs. Here, we demonstrate that the H274Y substitution results in mild oseltamivir resistance for N3. Comparative structural analysis of N3, N1, and their 274Y variants indicates that the interaction of residue 296 (H in N1 and nonaromatic for other serotypes) with conserved W295 is another important determinant of oseltamivir resistance.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01129-13
PMCID: PMC3753999  PMID: 23824808
6.  Genomic characteristics and comparative genomics analysis of Penicillium chrysogenum KF-25 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:144.
Background
Penicillium chrysogenum has been used in producing penicillin and derived β-lactam antibiotics for many years. Although the genome of the mutant strain P. chrysogenum Wisconsin 54-1255 has already been sequenced, the versatility and genetic diversity of this species still needs to be intensively studied. In this study, the genome of the wild-type P. chrysogenum strain KF-25, which has high activity against Ustilaginoidea virens, was sequenced and characterized.
Results
The genome of KF-25 was about 29.9 Mb in size and contained 9,804 putative open reading frames (orfs). Thirteen genes were predicted to encode two-component system proteins, of which six were putatively involved in osmolarity adaption. There were 33 putative secondary metabolism pathways and numerous genes that were essential in metabolite biosynthesis. Several P. chrysogenum virus untranslated region sequences were found in the KF-25 genome, suggesting that there might be a relationship between the virus and P. chrysogenum in evolution. Comparative genome analysis showed that the genomes of KF-25 and Wisconsin 54-1255 were highly similar, except that KF-25 was 2.3 Mb smaller. Three hundred and fifty-five KF-25 specific genes were found and the biological functions of the proteins encoded by these genes were mainly unknown (232, representing 65%), except for some orfs encoding proteins with predicted functions in transport, metabolism, and signal transduction. Numerous KF-25-specific genes were found to be associated with the pathogenicity and virulence of the strains, which were identical to those of wild-type P. chrysogenum NRRL 1951.
Conclusion
Genome sequencing and comparative analysis are helpful in further understanding the biology, evolution, and environment adaption of P. chrysogenum, and provide a new tool for identifying further functional metabolites.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-144
PMCID: PMC3938070  PMID: 24555742
Penicillium chrysogenum; Genome; Comparative genome
7.  DanQi Pill protects against heart failure through the arachidonic acid metabolism pathway by attenuating different cyclooxygenases and leukotrienes B4 
Background
Chinese herbal formulae are composed of complex components and produce comprehensive pharmacological effects. Unlike chemical drugs that have only one clear single target, the components of Chinese herbal formulae have multiple channels and targets. How to discover the pharmacological targets of Chinese herbal formulae and their underlying molecular mechanism are still under investigation.
Methods
DanQi pill (DQP), which is one of the widely prescribed traditional Chinese medicines, is applied as an example drug. In this study, we used the drug target prediction model (DrugCIPHER-CS) to examine the underlying molecular mechanism of DQP, followed by experimental validation.
Results
A novel therapeutic effect pattern of DQP was identified. After determining the compounds in DQP, we used DrugCIPHER-CS to predict their potential targets. These potential targets were significantly enriched in well-known cardiovascular disease-related pathways. For example, the biological processes of neuroactive ligand–receptor interaction, calcium-signaling pathway, and aminoacyl–tRNA biosynthesis were involved. A new and significant pathway, arachidonic acid (AA) metabolism, was also identified in this study. This predicted pathway alteration was validated with an animal model of heart failure (HF). Results show that DQP had effect both on thromboxane B2 (TXB2) and Prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) in different patterns. It can down-regulate the TXB2 and up-regulate the PGI2 in diverse way. Remarkably, it also had effect on cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX2 by suppressing their levels, which may be the critical and novel mechanism of cardiacprotective efficacy for DQP. Furthermore, leukotrienes B4 (LTB4) receptor, another key molecule of AA metabolism which finally mediated gastrotoxic leukotrienes, was also reduced by DQP.
Conclusions
The combination of drug target prediction and experimental validation provides new insights into the complicated mechanism of DQP.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-67
PMCID: PMC3933388  PMID: 24555740
8.  Characterization of Human CD39+ Th17 Cells with Suppressor Activity and Modulation in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87956.
Induced regulatory T-cells (iT-reg) and T helper type 17 (Th17) in the mouse share common CD4 progenitor cells and exhibit overlapping phenotypic and functional features. Here, we show that human Th17 cells endowed with suppressor activity (supTh17) can be derived following exposure of iT-reg populations to Th17 polarizing conditions. In contrast to “pathogenic” Th17, supTh17 display immune suppressive function and express high levels of CD39, an ectonucleotidase that catalyzes the conversion of pro-inflammatory extracellular nucleotides ultimately generating nucleosides. Accordingly, supTh17 exhibit nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase activity, as demonstrated by the efficient generation of extracellular AMP, adenosine and other purine derivatives. In addition supTh17 cells are resistant to the effects of adenosine as result of the low expression of the A2A receptor and accelerated adenosine catalysis by adenosine deaminase (ADA). These supTh17 can be detected in the blood and in the lamina propria of healthy subjects. However, these supTh17 cells are diminished in patients with Crohn’s disease. In summary, we describe a human Th17 subpopulation with suppressor activity, which expresses high levels of CD39 and consequently produces extracellular adenosine. As these uniquely suppressive CD39+ Th17 cells are decreased in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, our findings might have implications for the development of novel anti-inflammatory therapeutic approaches in these and potentially other immune disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087956
PMCID: PMC3914873  PMID: 24505337
9.  Poly(lactide-co-trimethylene carbonate) and Polylactide/Polytrimethylene Carbonate Blown Films 
In this work, poly(lactide-co-trimethylene carbonate) and polylactide/polytrimethylene carbonate films are prepared using a film blowing method. The process parameters, including temperature and screw speed, are studied, and the structures and properties of the P(LA-TMC) and PLA/PTMC films are investigated. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) images show that upon improving the content of TMC and PTMC, the lamellar structures of the films are obviously changed. With increasing TMC monomer or PTMC contents, the elongation at the break is improved, and the maximum is up to 525%. The water vapor permeability (WVP) results demonstrate that the WVP of the PLA/PTMC film increased with the increase in the PTMC content, whereas the WVP of the P(LA-TMC) film decreased. Thermogravimetric (TG) measurements reveal that the decomposition temperatures of the P(LA-TMC) and PLA/PTMC films decrease with increases in the TMC and PTMC contents, respectively, but the processing temperature is significantly lower than the initial decomposition temperature. P(LA-TMC) or PLA/PTMC film can extend the shelf life of apples, for instance, like commercial LDPE film used in fruit packaging in supermarkets.
doi:10.3390/ijms15022608
PMCID: PMC3958871  PMID: 24534806
polylactide; polytrimethylene carbonate; poly(lactide-co-trimethylene carbonate); polylactide-polytrimethylene carbonate; film blowing
10.  Exposure to Atrazine during Gestation and Lactation Periods: Toxicity Effects on Dopaminergic Neurons in Offspring by Downregulation of Nurr1 and VMAT2 
High atrazine (2-chloro-4-ethytlamino-6-isopropylamine-1,3,5-triazine; ATR) contents in the environment threaten the health conditions of organisms. We examined the effects of ATR exposure on Sprague-Dawley rats during gestation and on the dopaminergic neurons of offspring during lactation. Pregnant dams were orally treated with 0 mg/kg/day to 50 mg/kg/day of ATR from gestational day 5 to postnatal day 22. Afterward, neither offspring nor dams received ATR. Dopamine (DA) content was examined in striatum samples by HPLC-FL; the mRNA expressions of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), orphan nuclear hormone (Nurr1), dopamine transporter (DAT), and vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) in the ventral midbrain samples were examined by fluorescence PCR when the offspring reached one year of age. After the pregnant rats were exposed to ATR, the DA concentrations and mRNA levels of Nurr1 were decreased in their offspring. Decreased Nurr1 levels were also accompanied by changes in the mRNA levels of VMAT2, which controls the transport and reuptake of DA.
doi:10.3390/ijms15022811
PMCID: PMC3958883  PMID: 24552878
atrazine; orphan nuclear hormone; vesicular monoaminetransporter 2; dopaminergic neuron
11.  Inferring the relation between transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation from expression compendia 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:14.
Background
Publicly available expression compendia that measure both mRNAs and sRNAs provide a promising resource to simultaneously infer the transcriptional and the posttranscriptional network. To maximally exploit the information contained in such compendia, we propose an analysis flow that combines publicly available expression compendia and sequence-based predictions to infer novel sRNA-target interactions and to reconstruct the relation between the sRNA and the transcriptional network.
Results
We relied on module inference to construct modules of coexpressed genes (sRNAs). TFs and sRNAs were assigned to these modules using the state-of-the-art inference techniques LeMoNe and Context Likelihood of Relatedness (CLR). Combining these expressions with sequence-based sRNA-target interactions allowed us to predict 30 novel sRNA-target interactions comprising 14 sRNAs. Our results highlight the role of the posttranscriptional network in finetuning the transcriptional regulation, e.g. by intra-operonic regulation.
Conclusion
In this work we show how strategies that combine expression information with sequence-based predictions can help unveiling the intricate interaction between the transcriptional and the posttranscriptional network in prokaryotic model systems.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-14
PMCID: PMC3948049  PMID: 24467879
sRNA; Gene; Module network; Network inference; Escherichia coli
12.  Fuzi Attenuates Diabetic Neuropathy in Rats and Protects Schwann Cells from Apoptosis Induced by High Glucose 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86539.
Radix aconite lateralis preparata (Fuzi), a folk medicine, has long been used for the treatment of diabetes and paralysis in China. We examined the effect of Fuzi alone on diabetic rats and Schwann cells in high glucose and the components responsible for its activity. The major constituents of FZE were identified by HPLC-MS/MS data. Male Sprague Dawley rats (n = 36) were randomly divided into control, diabetic, FZE 1.75 g/kg, FZE 3.50 g/kg, FZE 7.00 g/kg, and methylcobalamin groups. After two weeks treatment, nerve conduction velocity and paw withdrawal latency were measured. In vitro, the Schwann cells were grouped according to exposure: normal glucose (NG), normal glucose plus mannitol (NG+M), high glucose (HG), and HG plus different concentrations of FZE (0.1 µg/ml, 1.0 µg/ml, and 10.0 µg/ml). Oxygen free radicals and apoptosis were evaluated through DCFH2DA, DHE and annexin-PE/7-AAD assay, respectively. Apoptosis factors (Bax, Bcl-2, CytoC, caspase-3, and caspase-9) were analyzed using immunofluorescence. Nine alkaloids were identified. The results from animal model showed that FZE was effective in accelerating nerve conduction velocity and shortening paw withdrawal latency in diabetic rats. And in vitro, FZE was also found to protect Schwann cells against high glucose injury. FZE could significantly decrease the apoptotic ratio, superoxide anion and peroxide level. Furthermore, the apoptosis factors, including Bax, Bcl-2, CytoC, caspase-3, and caspase-9 were ameliorated in FZE treated groups. The HPLC-MSn method is simple and suitable for the identification of alkaloids in Fuzi. FZE has a protective effect in diabetic neuropathic rats, which is probably achieved by the antiapoptotic effect of FZE on Schwann cells. Apoptosis factor data imply that FZE protected Schwann cells through the mitochondria pathway. Alkaloids are major components contributing to the protective effect.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086539
PMCID: PMC3900563  PMID: 24466139
13.  A Stochastic Restricted Principal Components Regression Estimator in the Linear Model 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:231506.
We propose a new estimator to combat the multicollinearity in the linear model when there are stochastic linear restrictions on the regression coefficients. The new estimator is constructed by combining the ordinary mixed estimator (OME) and the principal components regression (PCR) estimator, which is called the stochastic restricted principal components (SRPC) regression estimator. Necessary and sufficient conditions for the superiority of the SRPC estimator over the OME and the PCR estimator are derived in the sense of the mean squared error matrix criterion. Finally, we give a numerical example and a Monte Carlo study to illustrate the performance of the proposed estimator.
doi:10.1155/2014/231506
PMCID: PMC3921953  PMID: 24587714
14.  Wnt and Rho GTPase signaling in osteoarthritis development and intervention: implications for diagnosis and therapy 
Wnt and Rho GTPase signaling play critical roles in governing numerous aspects of cell physiology, and have been shown to be involved in endochondral ossification and osteoarthritis (OA) development. In this review, current studies of canonical Wnt signaling in OA development, together with the differential roles of Rho GTPases in chondrocyte maturation and OA pathology are critically summarized. Based on the current scientific literature together with our preliminary results, the strategy of targeting Wnt and Rho GTPase for OA prognosis and therapy is suggested, which is instructive for clinical treatment of the disease.
doi:10.1186/ar4240
PMCID: PMC3979163  PMID: 23856044
15.  Disordered purinergic signaling and abnormal cellular metabolism are associated with development of liver cancer in Cd39/Entpd1 null mice 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2013;57(1):205-216.
Liver cancer is associated with chronic inflammation, which is linked to immune dysregulation, disordered metabolism and aberrant cell proliferation. CD39/ENTPD1 is an ectonucleotidase that regulates extracellular nucleotide/nucleoside concentrations by scavenging nucleotides to ultimately generate adenosine. These properties inhibit anti tumor immune responses and promote angiogenesis, being permissive for the growth of transplanted tumors. Here, we show Cd39 deletion promotes development of both induced and spontaneous autochthonous liver cancer in mice. Loss of Cd39 results in higher concentrations of extracellular nucleotides, which stimulate proliferation of hepatocytes, abrogate autophagy and disrupt glycolytic metabolism. Constitutive activation of Ras-MAPK and mTOR-S6K1 pathways occurs in both quiescent Cd39 null hepatocytes in vitro and liver tissues in vivo. Exogenous ATP boosts these signaling pathways, while rapamycin inhibits such aberrant responses in hepatocytes.
Conclusions
Deletion of Cd39 and resulting changes in disordered purinergic signaling perturb hepatocellular metabolic/proliferative responses, paradoxically resulting in malignant transformation. These findings might impact adjunctive therapies for cancer. Lastly, our studies indicate that the biology of autochthonous and transplanted tumors is quite distinct.
doi:10.1002/hep.25989
PMCID: PMC3505255  PMID: 22859060
CD39; ATP; mTOR; liver cancer
16.  Multifunctional hybrid silica nanoparticles for controlled doxorubicin loading and release with thermal and pH dually response 
Controlled drug loading and release into tumor cells to increase the intracellular drug concentration is a major challenge for cancer therapy due to resistance and inefficient cellular uptake. Here a temperature and pH dually responsive PNiPAM/AA@SiO2 core-shell particles with internal controlled release were designed and fabricated for efficient cancer treatment, which could recognize the intrinsic pH differences between cancers and normal tissues. Upon lowering the temperature, doxorubicin was loaded into the PNiPAM/AA@SiO2 nanoparticles, whereas by increasing the acidity, previously loaded doxorubicin was quickly released. Comparing with common mesoporous silica particles (MSNs), this core-shell particle has more uniform size and better dispersity. In addition, dried PNiPAM/AA@SiO2 nanoparticles could be easily redispersed in distilled water. The in vitro cell culture experiments showed that not only PNiPAM/AA@SiO2 particles were more biocompatible and lower cytotoxic than MSN, but also DOX@PNiPAM/AA@SiO2 had higher drug releasing efficiency in the lysosomes and stronger inhibitory effect on tumor cell growth than DOX@MSN. All these features indicated that PNiPAM/AA@SiO2 particles have great potential in therapy applications.
doi:10.1039/C2TB00223J
PMCID: PMC3609667  PMID: 23543911
17.  The L60V Variation in Hepatitis B Virus Core Protein Elicits New Epitope-Specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes and Enhances Viral Replication 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(14):8075-8084.
Mutations in the core protein (HBc) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) are associated with aggressive hepatitis and advanced liver diseases in chronic hepatitis B (CHB). In this study, we identified the L60V variation in HBc that generates a new HLA-A2-restricted CD8+ T cell epitope by screening an overlapping 9-mer peptide pool covering HBc and its variants. The nonameric epitope V60 was determined by structural and immunogenic analysis. The HBc L60V variation is correlated with hepatic necroinflammation and higher viral levels, and it may be associated with a poor prognosis in CHB patients. Immunization with the defined HBV epitope V60 peptide elicited specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-induced liver injury in HLA-A2+ HBV transgenic mice. In addition, in vitro and in vivo experiments both demonstrated that the HBc L60V variation facilitates viral capsid assembly and increases HBV replication. These data suggest that the HBc L60V variation can impact both HBV replication and HBV-specific T cell responses. Therefore, our work provides further dissection of the impact of the HBc L60V variation, which orchestrates HBV replication, viral persistence, and immunopathogenesis during chronic viral infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00577-13
PMCID: PMC3700222  PMID: 23678186
18.  γδ T Cells and Their Potential for Immunotherapy 
Vγ9Vδ2 (also termed Vγ2Vδ2) T cells, a major human peripheral blood γδ T cell subset, recognize microbial (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methylbut-2-enyl diphosphate and endogenous isopentenyl diphosphate in a TCR-dependent manner. The recognition does not require specific accessory cells, antigen uptake, antigen processing, or MHC class I, class II, or class Ib expression. This subset of T cells plays important roles in mediating innate immunity against a wide variety of infections and displays potent and broad cytotoxic activity against human tumor cells. Because γδT cells express both natural killer receptors such as NKG2D and γδ T cell receptors, they are considered to represent a link between innate and adaptive immunity. In addition, activated γδ T cells express a high level of antigen-presenting cell-related molecules and can present peptide antigens derived from destructed cells to αβ T cells. Utilizing these antimicrobial and anti-tumor properties of γδ T cells, preclinical and clinical trials have been conducted to develop novel immunotherapies for infections and malignancies. Here, we review the immunological properties of γδ T cells including the underlying recognition mechanism of nonpeptitde antigens and summarize the results of γδ T cell-based therapies so far performed. Based on the results of the reported trials, γδ T cells appear to be a promising tool for novel immunotherapies against certain types of diseases.
doi:10.7150/ijbs.7823
PMCID: PMC3920167  PMID: 24520210
γδ T cells; nonpeptide antigen; tumor; infection; autoimmune and allergic diseases; immunotherapy
19.  Preliminary Success in the Characterization and Management of a Sudden Breakout of a Novel H7N9 Influenza A Virus 
Influenza has always been one of the major threats to human health. The Spanish influenza in 1918, the pandemic influenza A/H1N1 in 2009, and the avian influenza A/H5N1 have brought about great disasters or losses to mankind. More recently, a novel avian influenza A/H7N9 broke out in China and until December 2, 2013, it had caused 139 cases of infection, including 45 deaths. Its risk and pandemic potential attract worldwide attention. In this article, we summarize epidemiology, virology characteristics, clinical symptoms, diagnosis methods, clinical treatment and preventive measures about the avian influenza A/H7N9 virus infection to provide a reference for a possible next wave of flu outbreak.
doi:10.7150/ijbs.8198
PMCID: PMC3920865  PMID: 24520209
H7N9 virus; avian influenza A; infection; diagnosis; treatment; prevention.
20.  Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Alter Cytochrome C Electron Transfer and Modulate Mitochondrial Function 
ACS nano  2012;6(12):10486-10496.
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are broadly used for various biomedical applications such as drug delivery, in vivo imaging and cancer photothermal therapy due to their unique physiochemical properties. However, once they enter the cells, the effects of SWCNTs to the intracellular organelles and macromolecules are not comprehensively understood. Cytochrome c (Cyt c), as a key component of the electron transport chain in mitochondria, plays an essential role in cellular energy consumption, growth and differentiation. In this study, we found the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and mitochondrial oxygen uptake were greatly decreased in human epithelial KB cells treated with SWCNTs, which accompanies the reduction of Cyt c. SWCNTs deoxidized Cyt c in a pH dependent manner as evidenced by the appearance of a 550 nm characteristic absorption peak, which intensity increased as pH increase. Circular dichroism measurement confirmed the pH-dependent conformational change, which facilitated closer association of SWCNTs with the heme pocket of Cyt c and thus expedited the reduction of Cyt c. The electron transfer of Cyt c is also disturbed by SWCNTs, as measured with electron spin resonance spectroscopy. In conclusion, the redox activity of Cyt c was affected by SWCNTs treatment due to attenuated electron transfer and conformational change of Cyt c, which consequently changed mitochondrial respiration of SWCNTs treated cells. This work is significant to SWCNTs research because it provided novel understanding to the disruption of SWCNTs to the mitochondria and has important implications for biomedical applications of SWCNTs.
doi:10.1021/nn302457v
PMCID: PMC3548237  PMID: 23171082
Single-walled carbon nanotubes; Carboxy; Cytochrome C; Electron transfer; Mitochondrial function; Redox activity
21.  Activation of cellular immunity and marked inhibition of liver cancer in a mouse model following gene therapy and tumor expression of GM-SCF, IL-21, and Rae-1 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:166.
Background
Cancer is both a systemic and a genetic disease. The pathogenesis of cancer might be related to dampened immunity. Host immunity recognizes nascent malignant cells – a process referred to as immune surveillance. Augmenting immune surveillance and suppressing immune escape are crucial in tumor immunotherapy.
Methods
A recombinant plasmid capable of co-expressing granulocyte-macrophage colony- stimulating factor (GM-SCF), interleukin-21 (IL-21), and retinoic acid early transcription factor-1 (Rae-1) was constructed, and its effects determined in a mouse model of subcutaneous liver cancer. Serum specimens were assayed for IL-2 and INF-γ by ELISA. Liver cancer specimens were isolated for Rae-1 expression by RT-PCR and Western blot, and splenocytes were analyzed by flow cytometry.
Results
The recombinant plasmid inhibited the growth of liver cancer and prolonged survival of tumor-loaded mice. Activation of host immunity might have contributed to this effect by promoting increased numbers and cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) following expression of GM-SCF, IL-21, and Rae-1. By contrast, the frequency of regulatory T cells was decreased, Consequently, activated CTL and NK cells enhanced their secretion of INF-γ, which promoted cytotoxicity of NK cells and CTL. Moreover, active CTL showed dramatic secretion of IL-2, which stimulates CTL. The recombinant expression plasmid also augmented Rae-1 expression by liver cancer cells. Rae-1 receptor expressing CTL and NK cells removed liver cancer.
Conclusions
The recombinant expression plasmid inhibited liver cancer by a mechanism that involved activation of cell-mediated immunity and Rae-1 in liver cancer.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-12-166
PMCID: PMC3878360  PMID: 24350772
Gene therapy; Natural killer cells; Cytotoxic T lymphocytes; Liver cancer; Immune escape; Cell-mediated immunity
22.  Cerebrospinal Fluid Pharmacology: An Improved Pharmacology Approach for Chinese Herbal Medicine Research 
Despite many successful applications of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in the treatment and prevention of neurological diseases (ND), the fully scientific understanding of CHM's action mechanisms had been hampered for lack of appropriate methods to explore the combinatorial rules, the synergistic mechanisms, and the molecular basis of CHM. As an improved pharmacology approach, cerebrospinal fluid pharmacology (CSFP), based on the fact that cerebrospinal fluid plays an important role in the health maintenance of specific survival environment for neurons and glial cells, has been constructed and applied to CHM research for treating ND. In the present review, the concept and advantages of CSFP are briefly introduced. The approaches and key technologies of CSFP in CHM research are also collated and analyzed. Furthermore, the developing tendency of CSFP is summarized, and its framework in CHM research is also proposed. In summary, CSFP provides a new strategy not only to eliminate some barriers of CHM research for treating ND, but also to broaden the pharmacology research for bridging the gap between CHM and modern medicine. Moreover, the advancements in CSFP will bring about a conceptual move in active ingredients discovery of CHM and make a significant contribution to CHM modernization and globalization.
doi:10.1155/2013/674305
PMCID: PMC3876922  PMID: 24454505
23.  Characterization of two distinct neuraminidases from avian-origin human-infecting H7N9 influenza viruses 
Cell Research  2013;23(12):1347-1355.
An epidemic of an avian-origin H7N9 influenza virus has recently emerged in China, infecting 134 patients of which 45 have died. This is the first time that an influenza virus harboring an N9 serotype neuraminidase (NA) has been known to infect humans. H7N9 viruses are divergent and at least two distinct NAs and hemagglutinins (HAs) have been found, respectively, from clinical isolates. The prototypes of these viruses are A/Anhui/1/2013 and A/Shanghai/1/2013. NAs from these two viruses are distinct as the A/Shanghai/1/2013 NA has an R294K substitution that can confer NA inhibitor oseltamivir resistance. Oseltamivir is by far the most commonly used anti-influenza drug due to its potency and high bioavailability. In this study, we show that an R294K substitution results in multidrug resistance with extreme oseltamivir resistance (over 100 000-fold) using protein- and virus-based assays. To determine the molecular basis for the inhibitor resistance, we solved high-resolution crystal structures of NAs from A/Anhui/1/2013 N9 (R294-containing) and A/Shanghai/1/2013 N9 (K294-containing). R294K substitution results in an unfavorable E276 conformation for oseltamivir binding, and consequently loss of inhibitor carboxylate interactions, which compromises the binding of all classical NA ligands/inhibitors. Moreover, we found that R294K substitution results in reduced NA catalytic efficiency along with lower viral fitness. This helps to explain why K294 has predominantly been found in clinical cases of H7N9 infection under the selective pressure of oseltamivir treatment and not in the dominant human-infecting viruses. This implies that oseltamivir can still be efficiently used in the treatment of H7N9 infections.
doi:10.1038/cr.2013.144
PMCID: PMC3847574  PMID: 24165891
H7N9; neuraminidase; virus fitness; sialidase activity; drug resistance; structural basis
24.  Expression of cellular fibronectin mRNA in adult periodontitis and peri-implantitis: a real-time polymerase chain reaction study 
Cellular fibronectin (cFn) is a type of bioactive non-collagen glycoprotein regarded as the main substance used to maintain periodontal attachment. The content of cFn in some specific sites can reflect the progress of periodontitis or peri-implantitis. This study aims to evaluate the expression of cFn messenger RNA (mRNA) in tissues of adult periodontitis and peri-implantitis by real-time fluorescent quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and to determine its clinical significance. A total of 30 patients were divided into three groups of 10: healthy, adult periodontitis and peri-implantitis. Periodontal tissue biopsies (1 mm×1 mm×1 mm) from each patient were frozen in liquid nitrogen. Total RNA was extracted from these tissues, and the content, purity and integrity were detected. Specific primers were designed according to the sequence, and the mRNA expression levels of cellular fibronectin were detected by real-time PCR. The purity and integrity of the extracted total RNA were both high, and the specificity of amplified genes was very high with no other pollution. The mRNA expression of cFn in the adult periodontitis group (1.526±0.441) was lower than that in the healthy group (3.253±0.736). However, the mRNA expression of cFn in the peri-implantitis group (3.965±0.537) was significantly higher than that in the healthy group. The difference revealed that although both processes were destructive inflammatory reactions in the periodontium, the pathomechanisms were different and the variation started from the transcription level of the cFn gene.
doi:10.1038/ijos.2013.65
PMCID: PMC3967312  PMID: 24008269
adult periodontitis; cellular fibronectin; peri-implantitis; real-time polymerase chain reaction
25.  Structure and function of IQ-domain GTPase-activating protein 1 and its association with tumor progression (Review) 
Biomedical Reports  2013;2(1):3-6.
IQ-domain GTPase-activating proteins (IQGAPs) are evolutionary conserved multidomain proteins that are found in numerous organisms, from yeast to mammals. To date, three IQGAP proteins have been identified in humans, of which IQGAP1 is the best characterized. As a scaffold protein, IQGAP1 contains multiple protein-interacting domains, which modulate binding to target proteins. Recent mounting studies demonstrated a role for IQGAP1 in tumor progression, supported by the altered expression and subcellular distribution of IQGAP1 in tumors. The contribution of IQGAP1 to tumor progression appears to involve a complex interplay of cell functions by integrating diverse signal transduction pathways and coordinating activities, such as cell adhesion, migration, invasion, proliferation and angiogenesis.
doi:10.3892/br.2013.204
PMCID: PMC3917084  PMID: 24649059
IQ-domain GTPase-activating protein 1; structure; function; tumor

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