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1.  Multigenerational exposure to dietary zearalenone (ZEA), an estrogenic mycotoxin, affects puberty and reproduction in female mice 
This study investigated potential cumulative effects of multiple pregnancy and multigenerational exposure to dietary ZEA (0, 0.8, 4, or 20 ppm) on female puberty and reproduction in C57BL/6J mice. Multiple pregnancies did not significantly affect litter size or offspring puberty. Significant effects were observed in 20 ppm ZEA-treated females: advanced puberty onset in F0, F1, and F2 generations; decreased implantation rate, pregnancy rate, and litter size, and increased pregnancy gap and gestation period in F1 and F2 generations; and reduced fertility index in F2 generation. F3 females from 0 and 20 ppm groups were split into 0 or 20 ppm ZEA diets at weaning, with advanced puberty onset seen in 0-20 and 20-20 groups and decreased implantation rate observed in 20-20 group. In summary, 20 ppm dietary ZEA advanced puberty onset without obvious cumulative effect and impaired fertility with multigenerational cumulative effect, which could be partially alleviated upon exposure cessation.
doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2014.06.005
PMCID: PMC4137769  PMID: 24972337
Zearalenone; multipregnancy; multigeneration; vaginal opening; embryo implantation; litter size; female reproduction
2.  IFN-γ regulates survival and function of tumor-induced CD11b+Gr-1high myeloid derived suppressor cells by modulating the anti-apoptotic molecule Bcl2a1 
European journal of immunology  2014;44(8):2457-2467.
Myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) play a critical role in suppression of immune responses in cancer and inflammation. Here, we describe how regulation of Bcl2a1 by cytokines controls the suppressor function of CD11b+Gr-1high granulocytic MDSCs. Co-culture of CD11b+Gr-1high granulocytic MDSCs with antigen-stimulated T cells and simultaneous blockade of IFN-γ by the use of anti-IFN-γ blocking antibody, IFN-γ−/− effector T cells, IFN-γR−/− MDSCs or STAT1−/− MDSCs led to up-regulation of Bcl2a1 in CD11b+Gr-1high cells, improved survival and enhanced their suppressor function. Molecular studies revealed that GM-CSF released by antigen-stimulated CD8+ T cells induced Bcl2a1 up-regulation, which was repressed in the presence of IFN-γ by a direct interaction of phosphorylated STAT-1 with the Bcl2a1 promotor. Bcl2a1 overexpressing granulocytic MDSCs demonstrated prolonged survival and enhanced suppressor function in vitro. Our data suggest that IFN-γ/ STAT1-dependent regulation of Bcl2a1 regulates survival and thereby suppressor function of granulocytic MDSCs.
doi:10.1002/eji.201444497
PMCID: PMC4140991  PMID: 24810636
G-MDSC; IFN-γ; GM-CSF; Bcl2a1; vaccine; immunotherapy
3.  Establishment of a High-Throughput Assay to Monitor Influenza A Virus RNA Transcription and Replication 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133558.
Influenza A virus (IAV) poses significant threats to public health because of the recent emergence of highly pathogenic strains and wide-spread resistance to available anti-influenza drugs. Therefore, new antiviral targets and new drugs to fight influenza virus infections are needed. Although IAV RNA transcription/replication represents a promising target for antiviral drug development, no assay ideal for high-throughput screening (HTS) application is currently available to identify inhibitors targeting these processes. In this work, we developed a novel HTS assay to analyze the transcription and replication of IAV RNA using an A549 cell line stably expressing IAV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) complex, NP and a viral mini-genomic RNA. Both secreted Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) and blasticidin resistance gene (Bsd) were encoded in the viral minigenome and expressed under the control of IAV RdRp. Gluc serves as a reporter to monitor the activity of IAV RdRp, and Bsd is used to maintain the expression of all foreign genes. Biochemical studies and the statistical analysis presented herein demonstrate the high specificity, sensitivity and reproducibility of the assay. This work provides an ideal HTS assay for the identification of inhibitors targeting the function of IAV RdRp and a convenient reporting system for mechanism study of IAV RNA transcription / replication.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133558
PMCID: PMC4511416  PMID: 26196128
4.  Proteomic analysis of the excretory/secretory products and antigenic proteins of Echinococcus granulosus adult worms from infected dogs 
BMC Veterinary Research  2015;11:119.
Background
Cystic echinococcosis, which is caused by Echinococcus granulosus, is one of the most widespread zoonotic helminth diseases that affects humans and livestock. Dogs, which harbor adult worms in their small intestines, are a pivotal source of E. granulosus infection in humans and domestic animals. Therefore, novel molecular approaches for the prevention and diagnosis of this parasite infection in dogs need to be developed.
Results
In this study, we performed proteomic analysis to identify excretory/secretory products (ES) and antigenic proteins of E. granulosus adult worms using two-dimensional electrophoresis, tandem matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF/TOF), and Western blotting of sera from infected dogs. This study identified 33 ES product spots corresponding to 9 different proteins and 21 antigenic protein spots corresponding to 13 different proteins. Six antigenic proteins were identified for the first time.
Conclusions
The present study extended the existing proteomic data of E. granulosus and provides further information regarding host-parasite interactions and survival mechanisms. The results of this study contribute to vaccination and immunodiagnoses for E. granulosus infections.
doi:10.1186/s12917-015-0423-8
PMCID: PMC4438526  PMID: 25994522
Echinococcus granulosus; Adult worm; Excretory/secretory products; Antigenic protein; 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis; MALDI-TOF/TOF
5.  The Prevalence and Incidence of Latent Tuberculosis Infection and Its Associated Factors among Village Doctors in China 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0124097.
Background
China is a high tuberculosis (TB) burden country. More than half of acute TB cases first seek medical care in village doctors’ clinics or community health centers. Despite being responsible for patient referral and management, village doctors are not systematically evaluated for TB infection or disease. We assessed prevalence and incidence of latent TB infection (LTBI) among village doctors in China.
Methods and Findings
A longitudinal study was conducted in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. We administered a questionnaire on demographics and risk factors for TB exposure and disease; Tuberculin skin testing (TST) and QuantiFERON-TB Gold in-tube assay (QFT-GIT) was conducted at baseline and repeated 12 months later. We used a logistic regression model to calculate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for risk factors for TST and QFT-GIT prevalence and incidence. At the time of follow up, 19.5% of the 880 participating village doctors had a positive TST and 46.0% had a positive QFT-GIT result. Factors associated with TST prevalence included having a BCG scar (OR = 1.45, 95%CI 1.03–2.04) and smoking (OR = 1.69, 95%CI 1.17–2.44). Risk factors associated with QFT-GIT prevalence included being male (OR = 2.17, 95%CI 1.63–2.89), below college education (OR=1.42, 95%CI 1.01–1.97), and working for ≥25 years as a village doctor (OR = 1.64, 95%CI 1.12–2.39). The annual incidence of LTBI was 11.4% by TST and 19.1% by QFT-GIT. QFT-GIT conversion was associated with spending 15 minutes or more per patient on average (OR = 2.62, 95%CI 1.39–4.97) and having BCG scar (OR = 0.53, 95%CI 0.28–1.00).
Conclusions
Prevalence and incidence of LTBI among Chinese village doctors is high. TB infection control measures should be strengthened among village doctors and at village healthcare settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124097
PMCID: PMC4440671  PMID: 25996960
6.  Mechanism of the effect of glycosyltransferase GLT8D2 on fatty liver 
Background
Recent studies have shown that some glycosyltransferases are involved in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The objective of this study was to explore the effect and mechanism of glycosyltransferase GLT8D2 on fatty liver.
Methods
Rat model of NAFLD was established by induction with high-fat-diet. The GLT8D2 expression in rat liver was examined using immunohistochemistry. Oil Red O staining and triglyceride assay were used to measure the effect of abnormal GLT8D2 expression on lipid accumulation in HepG2 cells. The expression levels of lipid metabolism-related key molecules, namely sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c), stearoyl-coA desaturase (SCD), carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 (CPT1) and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP), in HepG2 cells with abnormal GLT8D2 expression were determined by western blot analyses.
Results
The expression of GLT8D2 was higher in the liver of rats with NAFLD than in the control rats, and GLT8D2 was mainly located around lipid droplets in hepatocytes. GLT8D2 expression increased in steatosis HepG2 cells compared with that in normal HepG2 cells. GLT8D2 positively regulated lipid droplet accumulation and triglyceride content in HepG2 cells. Upregulation or knockdown of GLT8D2 had no effect on the expressions of SREBP-1c, SCD or CPT-1 proteins in HepG2 cells. However, GLT8D2 expression negatively regulated the expression of MTP protein in HepG2 cells.
Conclusion
GLT8D2 participated in NAFLD pathogenesis possibly by negatively regulating MTP expression. Specific inhibition of GLT8D2 via an antagonistic strategy could provide a potential candidate approach for treatment of NAFLD.
doi:10.1186/s12944-015-0040-3
PMCID: PMC4425853  PMID: 25952508
Glycosyltransferase; GLT8D2; HepG2 cells; Fatty liver
7.  Postweaning dietary genistein exposure advances puberty without significantly affecting early pregnancy in C57BL/6J female mice 
An epidemiological study indicates higher plasma level of genistein in girls with earlier puberty. This study tests the hypothesis in C57BL/6J mice that postweaning (peripubertal) dietary genistein exposure could result in earlier puberty in females assessed by vaginal opening, estrous cyclicity, corpus luteum and mammary gland development. Newly weaned female mice were fed with 0, 5, 100, or 500 ppm genistein diets. Decreased age at vaginal opening, increased length on estrus stage, and accelerated mammary gland development were detected in 100 and 500 ppm genistein-treated groups. Increased presence of corpus luteum was found in 5 ppm genistein-treated group at 6 weeks old only. Increased expression of epithelial-specific genes but not that of ERα and ERβ was detected in 500 ppm genistein-treated mammary glands at 5 weeks old. No significant adverse effect on embryo implantation was observed. These data demonstrate causal effect of dietary genistein on earlier puberty in female mice.
doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2013.12.003
PMCID: PMC4004695  PMID: 24365114
8.  Protective effects of vascular endothelial growth factor in cultured brain endothelial cells against hypoglycemia 
Metabolic Brain Disease  2015;30(4):999-1007.
Hypoglycemia is a common and serious problem among patients with type 1 diabetes receiving treatment with insulin. Clinical studies have demonstrated that hypoglycemic edema is involved in the initiation of hypoglycemic brain damage. However, the mechanisms of this edema are poorly understood. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent regulator of blood vessel function, has been observed an important candidate hormone induced by hypoglycemia to protect neurons by restoring plasma glucose. Whether VEGF has a protective effect against hypoglycemia-induced damage in brain endothelial cells is still unknown. To investigate the effects of hypoglycemia on cerebral microvascular endothelial cells and assess the protective effect of exogenous VEGF on endothelial cells during hypoglycemia, confluent monolayers of the brain endothelial cell line bEnd.3 were treated with normal (5.5 mM glucose), hypoglycemic (0, 0.5, 1 mM glucose) medium or hypoglycemic medium in the presence of VEGF. The results clearly showed that hypoglycemia significantly downregulated the expression of claudin-5 in bEnd.3 cells, without affecting ZO-1 and occludin expression and distribution. Besides, transendothelial permeability significantly increased under hypoglycemic conditions compared to that under control conditions. Moreover, the hypoglycemic medium in presence of VEGF decreased endothelial permeability via the inhibition of claudin-5 degradation and improved hypoglycemia-induced cell toxicity. Furthermore, Glucose transporter-1 (Glut-1) and apoptosis regulator Bcl-2 expression were significantly upregulated. Taken together, hypoglycemia can significantly increase paraendocellular permeability by downregulating claudin-5 expression. We further showed that VEGF protected brain endothelial cells against hypoglycemia by enhancing glucose passage, reducing endothelial cell death, and ameliorating paraendocellular permeability.
doi:10.1007/s11011-015-9659-z
PMCID: PMC4491374  PMID: 25761767
Hypoglycemia; Tight junctions; VEGF; Glut-1; Bcl-2
9.  Differential Gene Expression Profiling of Mouse Uterine Luminal Epithelium During Periimplantation 
Reproductive Sciences  2014;21(3):351-362.
Uterine luminal epithelium (LE) is critical for establishing uterine receptivity. Microarray analysis of gestation day 3.5 (D3.5, preimplantation) and D4.5 (postimplantation) LE from natural pregnant mice identified 382 upregulated and 245 downregulated genes in the D4.5 LE. Gene Ontology annotation grouped 186 upregulated and 103 downregulated genes into 22 and 15 enriched subcategories, respectively, in regulating DNA-dependent transcription, metabolism, cell morphology, ion transport, immune response, apoptosis, signal transduction, and so on. Signaling pathway analysis revealed 99 genes in 21 significantly changed signaling pathways, with 14 of these pathways involved in metabolism. In situ hybridization confirmed the temporal expression of 12 previously uncharacterized genes, including Atp6v0a4, Atp6v0d2, F3, Ggh, Tmprss11d, Tmprss13, Anpep, Fxyd4, Naip5, Npl, Nudt19, and Tpm1 in the periimplantation uterus. This study provides a comprehensive picture of the differentially expressed genes in the periimplantation LE to help understand the molecular mechanism of LE transformation upon establishment of uterine receptivity.
doi:10.1177/1933719113497287
PMCID: PMC3936419  PMID: 23885106
microarray analysis; uterine luminal epithelium; uterine receptivity; embryo implantation
10.  Carotenoid accumulation affects redox status, starch metabolism, and flavonoid/anthocyanin accumulation in citrus 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:27.
Background
Carotenoids are indispensable plant secondary metabolites that are involved in photosynthesis, antioxidation, and phytohormone biosynthesis. Carotenoids are likely involved in other biological functions that have yet to be discovered. In this study, we integrated genomic, biochemical, and cellular studies to gain deep insight into carotenoid-related biological processes in citrus calli overexpressing CrtB (phytoene synthase from Pantoea agglomerans). Fortunella hindsii Swingle (a citrus relative) and Malus hupehensis (a wild apple) calli were also utilized as supporting systems to investigate the effect of altered carotenoid accumulation on carotenoid-related biological processes.
Results
Transcriptomic analysis provided deep insight into the carotenoid-related biological processes of redox status, starch metabolism, and flavonoid/anthocyanin accumulation. By applying biochemical and cytological analyses, we determined that the altered redox status was associated with variations in O2- and H2O2 levels. We also ascertained a decline in starch accumulation in carotenoid-rich calli. Furthermore, via an extensive cellular investigation of the newly constructed CrtB overexpressing Fortunella hindsii Swingle, we demonstrated that starch level reducation occurred in parallel with significant carotenoid accumulation. Moreover, studying anthocyanin-rich Malus hupehensis calli showed a negative effect of carotenoids on anthocyanin accumulation.
Conclusions
In citrus, altered carotenoid accumulation resulted in dramatic effects on metabolic processes involved in redox modification, starch degradation, and flavonoid/anthocyanin biosynthesis. These findings provided new perspectives to understand the biological importance of carotenogenesis and of the developmental processes associated with the nutritional and sensory qualities of agricultural products that accumulate carotenoids.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-015-0426-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-015-0426-4
PMCID: PMC4323224  PMID: 25644332
Carotenogenesis; Citrus; Redox status; Starch; Chromoplast; Anthocyanin
11.  Novel Strategy for Typing Mycoplasma pneumoniae Isolates by Use of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization–Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry Coupled with ClinProTools 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(8):3038-3043.
The typing of Mycoplasma pneumoniae mainly relies on the detection of nucleic acid, which is limited by the use of a single gene target, complex operation procedures, and a lengthy assay time. Here, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) coupled to ClinProTools was used to discover MALDI-TOF MS biomarker peaks and to generate a classification model based on a genetic algorithm (GA) to differentiate between type 1 and type 2 M. pneumoniae isolates. Twenty-five M. pneumoniae strains were used to construct an analysis model, and 43 Mycoplasma strains were used for validation. For the GA typing model, the cross-validation values, which reflect the ability of the model to handle variability among the test spectra and the recognition capability value, which reflects the model's ability to correctly identify its component spectra, were all 100%. This model contained 7 biomarker peaks (m/z 3,318.8, 3,215.0, 5,091.8, 5,766.8, 6,337.1, 6,431.1, and 6,979.9) used to correctly identify 31 type 1 and 7 type 2 M. pneumoniae isolates from 43 Mycoplasma strains with a sensitivity and specificity of 100%. The strain distribution map and principle component analysis based on the GA classification model also clearly showed that the type 1 and type 2 M. pneumoniae isolates can be divided into two categories based on their peptide mass fingerprints. With the obvious advantages of being rapid, highly accurate, and highly sensitive and having a low cost and high throughput, MALDI-TOF MS ClinProTools is a powerful and reliable tool for M. pneumoniae typing.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01265-14
PMCID: PMC4136174  PMID: 24920781
12.  The Adaptive Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Response to Lipotoxicity in Progressive Human Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
Toxicological Sciences  2013;137(1):26-35.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) may progress from simple steatosis to severe, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in 7%–14% of the U.S. population through a second “hit” in the form of increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress signaling and the unfolded protein response (UPR) are triggered when high levels of lipids and misfolded proteins alter ER homeostasis creating a lipotoxic environment within NAFLD livers. The objective of this study was to determine the coordinate regulation of ER stress–associated genes in the progressive stages of human NAFLD. Human liver samples categorized as normal, steatosis, NASH (Fatty), and NASH (Not Fatty) were analyzed by individual Affymetrix GeneChip Human 1.0 ST microarrays, immunoblots, and immunohistochemistry. A gene set enrichment analysis was performed on autophagy, apoptosis, lipogenesis, and ER stress/UPR gene categories. An enrichment of downregulated genes in the ER stress–associated lipogenesis and ER stress/UPR gene categories was observed in NASH. Conversely, an enrichment of upregulated ER stress–associated genes for autophagy and apoptosis gene categories was observed in NASH. Protein expression of the adaptive liver response protein STC2 and the transcription factor X-box binding protein 1 spliced (XBP-1s) were significantly elevated among NASH samples, whereas other downstream ER stress proteins including CHOP, ATF4, and phosphorylated JNK and eIF2α were not significantly changed in disease progression. Increased nuclear accumulation of total XBP-1 protein was observed in steatosis and NASH livers. The findings reveal the presence of a coordinated, adaptive transcriptional response to hepatic ER stress in human NAFLD.
doi:10.1093/toxsci/kft230
PMCID: PMC3871931  PMID: 24097666
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; lipotoxicity; endoplasmic reticulum stress response mechanisms.
13.  Arsenite-Induced Pseudo-Hypoxia Results in Loss of Anchorage-Dependent Growth in BEAS-2B Pulmonary Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114549.
Epidemiology studies have established a strong link between lung cancer and arsenic exposure. Currently, the role of disturbed cellular energy metabolism in carcinogenesis is a focus of scientific interest. Hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1A) is a key regulator of energy metabolism, and it has been found to accumulate during arsenite exposure under oxygen-replete conditions. We modeled arsenic-exposed human pulmonary epithelial cells in vitro with BEAS-2B, a non-malignant lung epithelial cell line. Constant exposure to 1 µM arsenite (As) resulted in the early loss of anchorage-dependent growth, measured by soft agar colony formation, beginning at 6 weeks of exposure. This arsenite exposure resulted in HIF-1A accumulation and increased glycolysis, similar to the physiologic response to hypoxia, but in this case under oxygen-replete conditions. This “pseudo-hypoxia” response was necessary for the maximal acquisition of anchorage-independent growth in arsenite-exposed BEAS-2B. The HIF-1A accumulation and induction in glycolysis was sustained throughout a 52 week course of arsenite exposure in BEAS-2B. There was a time-dependent increase in anchorage-independent growth during the exposure to arsenite. When HIF-1A expression was stably suppressed, arsenite-induced glycolysis was abrogated, and the anchorage-independent growth was reduced. These findings establish that arsenite exerts a hypoxia-mimetic effect, which plays an important role in the subsequent gain of malignancy-associated phenotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114549
PMCID: PMC4267735  PMID: 25513814
14.  Increased expression of NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 in the atria correlates with procollagen I carboxyl terminal peptide and TGF-β1 levels in serum of patients with atrial fibrillation 
Background
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in clinical practice. Unfortunately, the precise mechanisms and sensitive serum biomarkers of atrial remodeling in AF remain unclear. The aim of this study was to determine whether the expression of the transcription factors NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 correlate with atrial structural remodeling of atrial fibrillation and serum markers for collagen I and III synthesis.
Methods
Right and left atrial specimens were obtained from 90 patients undergoing valve replacement surgery. The patients were divided into sinus rhythm (n = 30), paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (n = 30), and persistent atrial fibrillation (n = 30) groups. NF-AT3, NF-AT4, and collagen I and III mRNA and protein expression in atria were measured. We also tested the levels of the carboxyl-terminal peptide from pro-collagen I, the N-terminal type I procollagen propeptides, the N-terminal type III procollagen propeptides, and TGF-β1 in serum using an enzyme immunosorbent assay.
Results
NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 mRNA and protein expression were increased in the AF groups, especially in the left atrium. NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 expression in the right atrium was increased in the persistent atrial fibrillation group compared the sinus rhythm group with similar valvular disease. In patients with AF, the expression levels of nuclear NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 correlated with those of collagens I and III in the atria and with PICP and TGF-β1 in blood.
Conclusions
These data support the hypothesis that nuclear NF-AT3 and NF-AT4 participates in atrial structural remodeling, and that PICP and TGF-β1 levels may be sensitive serum biomarkers to estimate atrial structural remodeling with atrial fibrillation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-14-167
PMCID: PMC4251842  PMID: 25422138
Atrial fibrillation; Atrial fibrosis; Transcription factor; NF-AT3; NF-AT4; Carboxyl terminal peptide from pro-collagen I; N-terminal type I procollagen propeptides; N-terminal type III procollagen propeptides
15.  Regulation of accumulation and function of myeloid derived suppressor cells in different murine models of hepatocellular carcinoma 
Journal of hepatology  2013;59(5):1007-1013.
Background and aims
Myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are immature myeloid cells with immunosuppressive activity. They accumulate in tumor-bearing mice and humans with different types of cancer, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to examine the biology of MDSC in murine HCC models and to identify a model, which mimics the human disease.
Methods:
The comparative analysis of MDSC was performed in mice, bearing transplantable, diethylnitrosoamine (DEN)-induced and MYC-expressing HCC at different ages.
Results:
An accumulation of MDSC was found in mice with HCC irrespectively of the model tested. Transplantable tumors rapidly induced systemic recruitment of MDSC, in contrast to slow-growing DEN-induced or MYC-expressing HCC, where MDSC numbers only increased intra-hepatically in mice with advanced tumors. MDSC derived from mice with subcutaneous tumors were more suppressive than those from mice with DEN-induced HCC. Enhanced expression of genes associated with MDSC generation (GM-CSF, VEGF, IL-6, IL-1β) and migration (MCP-1, KC, S100A8, S100A9) was observed in mice with subcutaneous tumors. In contrast, only KC levels increased in mice with DEN-induced HCC. Both KC and GM-CSF over-expression or anti-KC and anti-GM-CSF treatment controlled MDSC frequency in mice with HCC. Finally, the frequency of MDSC decreased upon successful anti-tumor treatment with sorafenib.
Conclusions:
Our data indicate that MDSC accumulation is a late event during hepatocarcinogenesis and differs significantly depending on the tumor model studied.
doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2013.06.010
PMCID: PMC3805787  PMID: 23796475
16.  Validation and comparison of EuroQoL-5 dimension (EQ-5D) and Short Form-6 dimension (SF-6D) among stable angina patients 
Objectives
Several preference-based health-related quality of life (HRQoL) instruments have been published and widely used in different populations. However no consensus has emerged regarding the most appropriate instrument in therapeutic area of stable angina. This study compared and validated the psychometric properties of two generic preference-based instruments, the EQ-5D and SF-6D, among Chinese stable angina patients.
Methods
Convergent validity of the EQ-5D and SF-6D was examined with eight a priori hypotheses from stable angina patients in conjunction with Seattle Angina Questionnaire (SAQ). Responsiveness was compared using the effect size (ES), relative efficiency (RE) and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. Agreement between the EQ-5D and SF-6D was tested using intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) and Bland-Altman plot. Factors affecting utility difference were explored with multiple linear regression analysis.
Results
In 411 patients (mean age 68.08 ± 11.35), mean utility scores (SD) were 0.78 (0.15) for the EQ-5D and 0.68 (0.12) for the SF-6D. Validity was demonstrated by the moderate to strong correlation coefficients (Range: 0.368-0.594, P< 0.001) for five of the eight hypotheses in both the EQ-5D and SF-6D. There were no serious floor effects for the EQ-5D and SF-6D, but ceiling effects for the EQ-5D were large. The areas under ROC of them all exceeded 0.5 (0.660-0.814, P< 0.001). The SF-6D showed a better discriminative capacity (ES: 0.573 to 1.179) between groups with different stable-angina-specific health status than the EQ-5D (ES: 0.426 to 1.126). RE suggested that the SF-6D (RE: 44.8 to 177.8%) was more efficient than the EQ-5D except for physical function. Poor agreement between them was observed with ICC (0.448, P< 0.001) and Bland-Altman plot analysis. Multiple liner regression showed that clinical variables significantly (P< 0.05) influenced differences in utility scores between the EQ-5D and SF-6D.
Conclusions
Both EQ-5D and SF-6D are valid and sensitive preference-based HRQoL instruments in Chinese stable angina patients. The SF-6D may be a more effective tool with lower ceiling effect and greater sensitivity. Further study is needed to compare other properties, such as reliability and longitudinal response.
doi:10.1186/s12955-014-0156-6
PMCID: PMC4213514  PMID: 25343944
Quality of life; Stable angina; EQ-5D; SF-6D; Utility; China
17.  Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Obesity-Associated Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The Protective Effects of Pomegranate with Its Active Component Punicalagin 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;21(11):1557-1570.
Abstract
Aims: Punicalagin (PU) is one of the major ellagitannins found in the pomegranate (Punica granatum), which is a popular fruit with several health benefits. So far, no studies have evaluated the effects of PU on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Our work aims at studying the effect of PU-enriched pomegranate extract (PE) on high fat diet (HFD)-induced NAFLD. Results: PE administration at a dosage of 150 mg/kg/day significantly inhibited HFD-induced hyperlipidemia and hepatic lipid deposition. As major contributors to NAFLD, increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukins 1, 4, and 6 as well as augmented oxidative stress in hepatocytes followed by nuclear factor (erythroid-derived-2)-like 2 (Nrf2) activation were normalized through PE supplementation. In addition, PE treatment reduced uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) expression, restored ATP content, suppressed mitochondrial protein oxidation, and improved mitochondrial complex activity in the liver. In contrast, mitochondrial content was not affected despite increased peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor–gamma coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) and elevated expression of genes related to mitochondrial beta-oxidation after PE treatment. Finally, PU was identified as the predominant active component of PE with regard to the lowering of triglyceride and cholesterol content in HepG2 cells, and both PU- and PE-protected cells from palmitate induced mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance. Innovation: Our work presents the beneficial effects of PE on obesity-associated NAFLD and multiple risk factors. PU was proposed to be the major active component. Conclusions: By promoting mitochondrial function, eliminating oxidative stress and inflammation, PU may be a useful nutrient for the treatment of NAFLD. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 21, 1557–1570.
doi:10.1089/ars.2013.5538
PMCID: PMC4175030  PMID: 24393106
18.  Cloning and characterization of a new β-Glucosidase from a metagenomic library of Rumen of cattle feeding with Miscanthus sinensis 
BMC Biotechnology  2014;14:85.
Background
The study on the second generation bio-fuel is a hot area of current research of renewable energy. Among series of key points in this area, the role of β-glucosidase in the degradation of intermediate gluco-oligosaccharides limits the rate of the complete saccharification of lignocellulose.
Results
In this study, a new β-glucosidase gene, unglu135B12, which was isolated from a metagenomic library of rumen of cattle feeding with Miscanthus sinensis by the function-based screening, encodes a 779 amino acid polypeptide that contains a catalytic domain belonging to glycoside hydrolase family 3 (GH3). It was recombinantly expressed, purified and biochemically characterized. The recombinant β-glucosidase, unglu135B12, displayed optimum enzymatic activity at pH 5.0 at 38°C, and showed the highest specific activity of 2.5 × 103 U/mg under this optimal condition to p-nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (pNPG), and its Km and Vmax values were 0.309 mmol/L and 7.292 μmol/min, respectively. In addition, the presence of Ca2+, K+, Na+ slightly improved β-glucosidase activity of unglu135B12 by about 5%, while about 10 ~ 85% loss of β-glucosidase activity was induced by addition of Mn2+, Fe3+, Zn2+, Cu2+. Interestingly, unglu135B12 was activated by glucose at the concentration lower than 40 mM.
Conclusions
Our findings indicate that unglu135B12 is a new β-glucosidase derived from rumen of cattle, and it might be a potent candidate for saccharification of lignocellulose in industrial application.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6750-14-85) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-14-85
PMCID: PMC4287584  PMID: 25274487
β-glucosidase; Rumen; Miscanthus sinensis; Metagenomic library
19.  Expression of Aquaporin 4 and Breakdown of the Blood-Brain Barrier after Hypoglycemia-Induced Brain Edema in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107022.
Background
Hypoglycemia-induced brain edema is a severe clinical event that often results in death. The mechanisms by which hypoglycemia induces brain edema are unclear.
Methods
In a hypoglycemic injury model established in adult rats, brain edema was verified by measuring brain water content and visualizing water accumulation using hematoxylin and eosin staining. Temporal expression of aquaporin 4 (AQP4) and the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) were evaluated. We assessed the distribution and expression of AQP4 following glucose deprivation in astrocyte cultures.
Results
Brain edema was induced immediately after severe hypoglycemia but continued to progress even after recovery from hypoglycemia. Upregulation of AQP4 expression and moderate breakdown of the BBB were observed 24 h after recovery. In vitro, significant redistribution of AQP4 to the plasma membrane was induced following 6 h glucose deprivation.
Conclusion
Hypoglycemia-induced brain edema is caused by cytotoxic and vasogenic factors. Changes in AQP4 location and expression may play a protective role in edema resolution.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107022
PMCID: PMC4180270  PMID: 25264602
20.  Mechanism of the promotion of steatotic HepG2 cell apoptosis by cholesterol 
The role of cholesterol in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) remains unclear. It is known that apoptosis of hepatocytes is an important characteristics of NASH. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of cholesterol on steatotic HepG2 cell apoptosis and the possible mechanism in vitro. In this study, HepG2 cells were divided into three groups: (1) normal group, (2) steatosis group and (3) cholesterol group. HepG2 cells were treated with oleic acid to establish a steatosis study model. Steatosis was assessed by Oil Red O staining and triglyceride content assay. Cell apoptosis was measured using an apoptosis kit. The expression levels of apoptosis-related proteins (P53, Bcl-2, Bax, caspase-3, cyclin A, cyclin B1 and cyclin E) were determined by western blot analyses. We found that a hepatocyte steatosis model was successfully established by oleic acid (200 μmol/L) induction. The cholesterol (50 mg/L) group had similar amount of lipid droplets and triglyceride content as steatosis group (P > 0.5). However, the apoptosis rate (P < 0.01) of the cholesterol group was significantly higher than that of the normal group or the steatosis group, and the protein expressions of Bax and caspase-3, but not P53, Bcl-2, cyclin A, cyclin B1 and cyclin E, were also increased in the cholesterol group. Those results suggested that cholesterol markedly promoted apoptosis of steatosis HepG2 cells in vitro, likely through the up-regulation of Bax and caspase-3 expression. This study contributes to explain the effect of cholesterol on NASH pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4230101  PMID: 25400762
Cholesterol; HepG 2 cells; apoptosis; steatosis
21.  The Construction and Evaluation of Reference Spectra for the Identification of Human Pathogenic Microorganisms by MALDI-TOF MS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106312.
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is an emerging technique for the rapid and high-throughput identification of microorganisms. There remains a dearth of studies in which a large number of pathogenic microorganisms from a particular country or region are utilized for systematic analyses. In this study, peptide mass reference spectra (PMRS) were constructed and evaluated from numerous human pathogens (a total of 1019 strains from 94 species), including enteric (46 species), respiratory (21 species), zoonotic (17 species), and nosocomial pathogens (10 species), using a MALDI-TOF MS Biotyper system (MBS). The PMRS for 380 strains of 52 species were new contributions to the original reference database (ORD). Compared with the ORD, the new reference database (NRD) allowed for 28.2% (from 71.5% to 99.7%) and 42.3% (from 51.3% to 93.6%) improvements in identification at the genus and species levels, respectively. Misidentification rates were 91.7% and 57.1% lower with the NRD than with the ORD for genus and species identification, respectively. Eight genera and 25 species were misidentified. For genera and species that are challenging to accurately identify, identification results must be manually determined and adjusted in accordance with the database parameters. Through augmentation, the MBS demonstrated a high identification accuracy and specificity for human pathogenic microorganisms. This study sought to provide theoretical guidance for using PMRS databases in various fields, such as clinical diagnosis and treatment, disease control, quality assurance, and food safety inspection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106312
PMCID: PMC4152241  PMID: 25181391
22.  Binding Pocket Alterations in Dihydrofolate Synthase Confer Resistance to para-Aminosalicylic Acid in Clinical Isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
The mechanistic basis for the resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to para-aminosalicylic acid (PAS), an important agent in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, has yet to be fully defined. As a substrate analog of the folate precursor para-aminobenzoic acid, PAS is ultimately bioactivated to hydroxy dihydrofolate, which inhibits dihydrofolate reductase and disrupts the operation of folate-dependent metabolic pathways. As a result, the mutation of dihydrofolate synthase, an enzyme needed for the bioactivation of PAS, causes PAS resistance in M. tuberculosis strain H37Rv. Here, we demonstrate that various missense mutations within the coding sequence of the dihydropteroate (H2Pte) binding pocket of dihydrofolate synthase (FolC) confer PAS resistance in laboratory isolates of M. tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis. From a panel of 85 multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis clinical isolates, 5 were found to harbor mutations in the folC gene within the H2Pte binding pocket, resulting in PAS resistance. While these alterations in the H2Pte binding pocket resulted in reduced dihydrofolate synthase activity, they also abolished the bioactivation of hydroxy dihydropteroate to hydroxy dihydrofolate. Consistent with this model for abolished bioactivation, the introduction of a wild-type copy of folC fully restored PAS susceptibility in folC mutant strains. Confirmation of this novel PAS resistance mechanism will be beneficial for the development of molecular method-based diagnostics for M. tuberculosis clinical isolates and for further defining the mode of action of this important tuberculosis drug.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01775-13
PMCID: PMC3957869  PMID: 24366731
23.  ARSENIC EXPOSURE INDUCES THE WARBURG EFFECT IN CULTURED HUMAN CELLS 
Understanding how arsenic exacts its diverse, global disease burden is hampered by a limited understanding of the particular biological pathways that are disrupted by arsenic and underlie pathogenesis. A reductionist view would predict that a small number of basic pathways are generally perturbed by arsenic, and manifest as diverse diseases. Following an initial observation that arsenite-exposed cells in culture acidify their media more rapidly than control cells, the report here shows that low level exposure to arsenite (75 ppb) is sufficient to induce aerobic glycolysis (the Warburg effect) as a generalized phenomenon in cultured human primary cells and cell lines. Expanded studies in one such cell line, the non-malignant pulmonary epithelial line, BEAS-2B, established that the arsenite-induced Warburg effect was associated with increased accumulation of intracellular and extracellular lactate, an increased rate of extracellular acidification, and inhibition by the non-metabolized glucose analog, 2-deoxyglucose. Associated with the induction of aerobic glycolysis was a pathway-wide induction of glycolysis gene expression, as well as protein accumulation of an established glycolysis master-regulator, hypoxia-inducible factor 1α. Arsenite-induced alteration of energy production in human cells represents the type of fundamental perturbation that could extend to many tissue targets and diseases.
doi:10.1016/j.taap.2013.04.020
PMCID: PMC3714307  PMID: 23648393
Warburg effect; Arsenite; Glycoysis; Hypoxia-inducible factor 1
24.  MiR-124 suppresses tumor growth and metastasis by targeting Foxq1 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:186.
Background
The molecular mechanisms underlying dysregulation of microRNAs have been documented in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Our previous study demonstrated that plasma miR-124 was down-regulated in NPC using microarray analysis and quantitative PCR validation. Though growing studies showed that down-regulated miR-124 was closely related to tumourigenesis in various types of cancers, the role of miR-124 in NPC remains largely unknown.
Methods
The expression level of miR-124 was evaluated in NPC cell lines and patient specimens using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (Real-time qPCR). The clinicopathological significance of the resultant data was later analyzed. Then, we explored the role of miR-124 in NPC tumorigenesis by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Homo sapiens forkhead box Q1 (Foxq1) was confirmed as a novel direct target gene of miR-124 by the dual-luciferase assay and western bolt.
Results
We found that miR-124 was commonly down-regulated in NPC specimens and NPC cell lines. The expression of miR-124 was inversely correlation with clinical stages and marked on T stages. Then, the ectopic expression of miR-124 dramatically inhibited cell proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion in vitro, as well as tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Furthermore, we identified Foxq1 as a novel direct target of miR-124. Functional studies showed that knockdown of Foxq1 inhibited cell growth, migration and invasion, whereas Foxq1 overexpression partially rescued the suppressive effect of miR-124 in NPC. In clinical specimens, Foxq1 was commonly up-regulated in NPC, and the level increased with clinical stages and T stages. Additionally, the level of Foxq1 was inversely correlated with miR-124.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that miR-124 functions as a tumor-suppressive microRNA in NPC, and that its suppressive effects are mediated chiefly by repressing Foxq1 expression. MiR-124 could serve as an independent biomarker to identify patients with different clinical characteristics. Therefore, our findings provide valuable clues toward the understanding the of mechanisms of NPC pathogenesis and provide an opportunity to develop new effective clinical therapies in the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-186) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-186
PMCID: PMC4267157  PMID: 25098939
MicroRNA-124; Tumor growth; Metastasis; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Foxq1
25.  Broad Gap Junction Blocker Carbenoxolone Disrupts Uterine Preparation for Embryo Implantation in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(2):31.
ABSTRACT
Gap junctions have an important role in cell-to-cell communication, a process obviously required for embryo implantation. Uterine luminal epithelium (LE) is the first contact for an implanting embryo and is critical for the establishment of uterine receptivity. Microarray analysis of the LE from peri-implantation mouse uterus showed low-level expression of 19 gap junction proteins in preimplantation LE and upregulation of gap junction protein, beta 2 (GJB2, connexin 26, Cx26) in postimplantation LE. Time course study using in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence revealed upregulation of GJB2 in the LE surrounding the implantation site before decidualization. Similar dynamic expression of GJB2 was observed in the LE of artificially decidualized mice but not pseudopregnant mice. To determine the potential function of uterine gap junctions in embryo implantation, carbenoxolone (CBX), a broad gap junction blocker, was injected i.p. (100 mg/kg) or via local uterine fat pad (10 mg/kg) into pregnant mice on Gestation Day 3 at 1800 h, a few hours before embryo attachment to the LE. These CBX treatments disrupted embryo implantation, suggesting local effects of CBX in the uterus. However, i.p. injection of glycyrrhizic acid (100 mg/kg), which shares similar structure and multiple properties with CBX but is ineffective in blocking gap junctions, did not affect embryo implantation. Carbenoxolone also inhibited oil-induced artificial decidualization, concomitant with suppressed molecular changes and ultrastructural transformations associated with uterine preparation for embryo implantation, underscoring the adverse effect of CBX on uterine preparation for embryo implantation. These data demonstrate that uterine gap junctions are important for embryo implantation.
Broad gap junction blocker carbenoxolone suppresses uterine molecular changes and ultrastructural transformations associated with preparation for embryo implantation and disrupts implantation.
doi:10.1095/biolreprod.113.110106
PMCID: PMC4076363  PMID: 23843229
carbenoxolone; embryo implantation; gap junctions; uterine luminal epithelium

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