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2.  PEG-Farnesylthiosalicylate Conjugate as a Nanomicellar Carrier for Delivery of Paclitaxel 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2013;24(3):464-472.
S-trans, trans-farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) is a synthetic small molecule that acts as a potent and especially nontoxic Ras antagonist. It inhibits both oncogenically activated Ras and growth factor receptor-mediated Ras activation, resulting in the inhibition of Ras-dependent tumor growth. In this work, a FTS conjugate with polyethylene glycol (PEG) through a labile ester linkage, PEG5K-FTS2(L), was developed. PEG5K-FTS2 conjugate readily forms micelles in aqueous solutions with a critical micelle concentration of 0.68 μM and hydrophobic drugs such as paclitaxel (PTX) could be effectively loaded into these particles. Both drug-free and PTX- loaded micelles were spherical in shape with a uniform size of 20 ~ 30 nm. The release of PTX from PTX-loaded PEG5K-FTS2 micelles was significantly slower than that from Taxol formulation. In vitro cytotoxicity studies with several tumor cell lines showed that PEG5K-FTS2(L) was comparable to FTS in antitumor activity. Western immunoblotting showed that total Ras levels were downregulated in several cancer cell lines treated with FTS or PEG5K-FTS2(L). The micellar formulation of PTX exhibited more in vitro cytotoxic activity against several tumor cell lines compared with free PTX, suggesting a possible synergistic effect between the carrier and the codelivered drug. The anti-tumor activity of the PTX loaded PEG5K-FTS2(L) micelles in a syngeneic murine breast cancer model was found to be significantly higher than that of Taxol, which may be attributed to their preferential tumor accumulation and a possible synergistic effect between PEG5K-FTS2 carrier and loaded PTX.
PMCID: PMC3623935  PMID: 23425093
3.  Metabolic Engineering of Candida glabrata for Diacetyl Production 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89854.
In this study, Candida glabrata, an efficient pyruvate-producing strain, was metabolically engineered for the production of the food ingredient diacetyl. A diacetyl biosynthetic pathway was reconstructed based on genetic modifications and medium optimization. The former included (i) channeling carbon flux into the diacetyl biosynthetic pathway by amplification of acetolactate synthase, (ii) elimination of the branched pathway of α-acetolactate by deleting the ILV5 gene, and (iii) restriction of diacetyl degradation by deleting the BDH gene. The resultant strain showed an almost 1∶1 co-production of α-acetolactate and diacetyl (0.95 g L−1). Furthermore, addition of Fe3+ to the medium enhanced the conversion of α-acetolactate to diacetyl and resulted in a two-fold increase in diacetyl production (2.1 g L−1). In addition, increased carbon flux was further channeled into diacetyl biosynthetic pathway and a titer of 4.7 g L−1 of diacetyl was achieved by altering the vitamin level in the flask culture. Thus, this study illustrates that C. glabrata could be tailored as an attractive platform for enhanced biosynthesis of beneficial products from pyruvate by metabolic engineering strategies.
PMCID: PMC3948628  PMID: 24614328
4.  Increased expression of microRNA-146a decreases myocardial ischaemia/reperfusion injury 
Cardiovascular Research  2012;97(3):432-442.
We have reported that either toll-like receptor 4 deficiency (TLR4−/−) or TLR2 modulation protects against myocardial ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. The mechanisms involve attenuation of I/R-induced nuclear factor KappaB (NF-κB) activation. MicroRNA-146a (miR-146a) has been reported to target interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor associated factor 6 (TRAF6), resulting in inhibiting NF-κB activation. This study examined the role of microRNA-146a in myocardial I/R injury.
Methods and results
We constructed lentivirus expressing miR-146a (LmiR-146a). LmiR-146a was transfected into mouse hearts through the right common carotid artery. The lentivirus vector (LmiR-Con) served as vector control. Untransfected mice served as I/R control. Sham operation served as sham control. Seven days after transfection, the hearts were subjected to ischaemia (60 min) followed by reperfusion (4 h). Myocardial infarct size was analysed by triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining. In separate experiments, the hearts were subjected to ischaemia (60 min) followed by reperfusion for up to 7 days. Cardiac function was measured by echocardiography prior to I/R, 3 and 7 days after myocardial I/R. LmiR-146a transfection significantly decreased I/R-induced myocardial infarct size by 55% and prevented I/R-induced decreases in ejection fraction (EF%) and fractional shortening (%FS). LmiR-146a transfection attenuated I/R-induced myocardial apoptosis and caspase-3/7 and -8 activities. LmiR-146a transfection suppresses IRAK1 and TRAF6 expression in the myocardium. In addition, transfection of LmiR-146a prevented I/R-induced NF-κB activation and inflammatory cytokine production.
MicroRNA-146a protects the myocardium from I/R injury. The mechanisms may involve attenuation of NF-κB activation and inflammatory cytokine production by suppressing IRAK1 and TRAF6.
PMCID: PMC3567787  PMID: 23208587
MicroRNA-146a myocardial I/R; Toll-like receptors; NF-κB activation
5.  Phosphosite Mapping of HIP-55 Protein in Mammalian Cells 
In the present study, hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1)-interacting protein of 55 kDa (HIP-55) protein was over-expressed in HEK293 cells, which was genetically attached with 6x His tag. The protein was purified by nickel-charged resin and was then subjected to tryptic digestion. The phosphorylated peptides within the HIP-55 protein were enriched by TiO2 affinity chromatography, followed by mass spectrometry analysis. Fourteen phosphorylation sites along the primary structure of HIP-55 protein were identified, most of which had not been previously reported. Our results indicate that bio-mass spectrometry coupled with manual interpretation can be used to successfully identify the phosphorylation modification in HIP-55 protein in HEK293 cells.
PMCID: PMC3975430  PMID: 24651461
mass spectrometry; HIP-55; phosphorylation
6.  Cucurbitacin IIb Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Activity through Modulating Multiple Cellular Behaviors of Mouse Lymphocytes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89751.
Cucurbitacin IIb (CuIIb) is one of the major active compounds in Hemsleyadine tablets which have been used for clinical treatment of bacillary dysentery, enteritis and acute tonsilitis. However, its action mechanism has not been completely understood. This study aimed to explore the anti-inflammatory activity of CuIIb and its underlying mechanism in mitogen-activated lymphocytes isolated from mouse mesenteric lymph nodes. The results showed that CuIIb inhibited the proliferation of concanavalin A (Con A)-activated lymphocytes in a time- and dose-dependent manner. CuIIb treatment arrested their cell cycle in S and G2/M phases probably due to the disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and the modulation of p27Kip1 and cyclin levels. Moreover, the surface expression of activation markers CD69 and CD25 on Con A-activated CD3+ T lymphocytes was suppressed by CuIIb treatment. Both Con A- and phorbol ester plus ionomycin-induced expression of TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL-6 proteins was attenuated upon exposure to CuIIb. Mechanistically, CuIIb treatment suppressed the phosphorylation of JNK and Erk1/2 but not p38 in Con A-activated lymphocytes. Although CuIIb unexpectedly enhanced the phosphorylation of IκB and NF-κB (p65), it blocked the nuclear translocation of NF-κB (p65). In support of this, CuIIb significantly decreased the mRNA levels of IκBα and TNF-α, two target genes of NF-κB, in Con A-activated lymphocytes. In addition, CuIIb downregulated Con A-induced STAT3 phosphorylation and increased cell apoptosis. Collectively, these results suggest that CuIIb exhibits its anti-inflammatory activity through modulating multiple cellular behaviors and signaling pathways, leading to the suppression of the adaptive immune response.
PMCID: PMC3934946  PMID: 24587010
7.  Mutation of SLC35D3 Causes Metabolic Syndrome by Impairing Dopamine Signaling in Striatal D1 Neurons 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004124.
Obesity is one of the largest health problems facing the world today. Although twin and family studies suggest about two-thirds of obesity is caused by genetic factors, only a small fraction of this variance has been unraveled. There are still large numbers of genes to be identified that cause variations in body fatness and the associated diseases encompassed in the metabolic syndrome (MetS). A locus near a sequence tagged site (STS) marker D6S1009 has been linked to obesity or body mass index (BMI). However, its genetic entity is unknown. D6S1009 is located in the intergenic region between SLC35D3 and NHEG1. Here we report that the ros mutant mice harboring a recessive mutation in the Slc35d3 gene show obesity and MetS and reduced membrane dopamine receptor D1 (D1R) with impaired dopamine signaling in striatal neurons. SLC35D3 is localized to both endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and early endosomes and interacts with D1R. In ros striatal D1 neurons, lack of SLC35D3 causes the accumulation of D1R on the ER to impair its ER exit. The MetS phenotype is reversible by the administration of D1R agonist to the ros mutant. In addition, we identified two mutations in the SLC35D3 gene in patients with MetS, which alter the subcellular localization of SLC35D3. Our results suggest that the SLC35D3 gene, close to the D6S1009 locus, is a candidate gene for MetS, which is involved in metabolic control in the central nervous system by regulating dopamine signaling.
Author Summary
Genome-wide linkage analyses have revealed that an STS marker D6S1009 (about 55 kb from the SLC35D3 gene) is linked to obesity or BMI in the Framingham Heart Study, but its genetic entity is unknown. Here we characterized the features of obesity and metabolic syndrome with reduced physical activity levels in a previously identified ros mouse mutant, carrying a homozygous Slc35d3 mutation. These ros phenotypes were caused by the intracellular accumulation of D1R mostly on ER in the striatal neurons, impairing D1R signaling and reducing energy expenditure. In addition, we identified two mutations of SLC35D3 in patients with metabolic syndrome which are subcellularly mislocalized. We propose that the SLC35D3 gene is likely a novel candidate gene for MetS and obesity.
PMCID: PMC3923682  PMID: 24550737
8.  Biodegradable and thermosensitive micelles inhibit ischemia-induced postoperative peritoneal adhesion 
Ischemia-induced adhesion is very common after surgery, and leads to severe abdominal adhesions. Unfortunately, many existing barrier agents used for adhesion prevention have only limited success. The objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of biodegradable and thermosensitive poly(ε-caprolactone)–poly(ethylene glycol)–poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL–PEG–PCL) micelles for the prevention of postoperative ischemia-induced adhesion. We found that the synthesized PCL–PEG–PCL copolymer could self-assemble in an aqueous solution to form micelles with a mean size of 40.1±2.7 nm at 10°C, and the self-assembled micelles could instantly turn into a nonflowing gel at body temperature. In vitro cytotoxicity tests suggested that the copolymer showed little toxicity on NIH-3T3 cells even at amounts up to 1,000 μg/mL. In the in vivo test, the postsurgical ischemic-induced peritoneal adhesion model was established and then treated with the biodegradable and thermosensitive micelles. In the control group (n=12), all animals developed adhesions (mean score, 3.58±0.51), whereas three rats in the micelles-treated group (n=12) did not develop any adhesions (mean score, 0.67±0.78; P<0.001, Mann–Whitney U-test). Both hematoxylin and eosin and Masson trichrome staining of the ischemic tissues indicated that the micelles demonstrated excellent therapeutic effects on ischemia-induced adhesion. On Day 7 after micelle treatment, a layer of neo-mesothelial cells emerged on the injured tissues, which confirmed the antiadhesion effect of the micelles. The thermosensitive micelles had no significant side effects in the in vivo experiments. These results suggested that biodegradable and thermosensitive PCL–PEG–PCL micelles could serve as a potential barrier agent to reduce the severity of and even prevent the formation of ischemia-induced adhesions.
PMCID: PMC3921091  PMID: 24523585
postsurgical adhesion; poly(ε-caprolactone)–poly(ethylene glycol)–poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL–PEG–PCL); surgical complications, barrier agent
9.  PEG-Derivatized Embelin as a Nanomicellar Carrier For Delivery of Paclitaxel to Breast and Prostate Cancers 
Biomaterials  2012;34(5):1591-1600.
Paclitaxel (PTX) is one of the most effective chemotherapeutic agents for a wide spectrum of cancers, but its therapeutic benefit is often limited by severe side effects. We have developed a micelle-based PTX formulation based on a simple conjugate derived from polyethylene glycol 5000 (PEG5K) and embelin (EB). Embelin is a natural product and exhibits antitumor activity through blocking the activity of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP). PEG5K-EB2 conjugate self-assembles to form stable micelles in aqueous solution and efficiently encapsulates hydrophobic drugs such as PTX. PEG5K-EB2 micelles have a relatively low CMC of 0.002mg/mL (0.35μM) with sizes in the range of 20 ~ 30 nm with or without loaded PTX. In vitro cell uptake study showed that the PEG5K-EB2 micelles were efficiently taken up by tumor cells. In vitro release study showed that PTX formulated in PEG5K-EB2 micelles was slowly released over 5 days with much slower release kinetics than that of Taxol formulation. PTX formulated in PEG5K-EB2 micelles exhibited more potent cytotoxicity than Taxol in several cultured tumor cell lines. Total body near infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging showed that PEG5K-EB2 micelles were selectively accumulated at tumor site with minimal uptake in major organs including liver and spleen. PTX-loaded PEG5K-EB2 micelles demonstrated an excellent safety profile with a maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of 100–120 mg PTX/kg in mice, which was significantly higher than that for Taxol (15–20 mg PTX/kg). Finally, PTX formulated in PEG5K-EB2 micelles showed superior anti-tumor activity compared to Taxol in murine models of breast and prostate cancers.
PMCID: PMC3529003  PMID: 23182923
Nanomicelles; Embelin; Controlled drug release; Drug delivery; Paclitaxel; Cancer therapy
10.  SR-A deficiency reduces myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury; involvement of increased microRNA-125b expression in macrophages 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1832(2):336-346.
The macrophage scavenger receptor class A (SR-A) participates in the innate immune and inflammatory responses. This study examined the role of macrophage SR-A in myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury and hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced cell damage. SR-A−/− and WT mice were subjected to ischemia (45 min) followed by reperfusion for up to 7 days. SR-A−/− mice showed smaller myocardial infarct size and better cardiac function than did WT I/R mice. SR-A deficiency attenuated I/R-induced myocardial apoptosis by preventing p53-mediated Bak-1 apoptotic signaling. The levels of microRNA-125b in SR-A−/− heart were significantly greater than in WT myocardium. SR-A is predominantly expressed on macrophages. To investigate the role of SR-A macrophages in H/R-induced injury, we isolated peritoneal macrophages from SR-A deficient (SR-A−/−) and wild type (WT) mice. Macrophages were subjected to hypoxia followed by reoxygenation. H/R markedly increased NF-κB binding activity as well as KC and MCP-1 production in WT macrophages but not in SR-A−/− macrophages. H/R induced caspase-3/7 and -8 activities and cell death in WT macrophages, but not in SR-A−/− macrophages. The levels of miR-125b in SR-A−/− macrophages were significantly higher than in WT macrophages. Transfection of WT macrophages with miR-125b mimics attenuated H/R-induced caspase-3/7 and -8 activities and H/R-decreased viability, and prevented H/R-increased p-53, Bak-1 and Bax expression. The data suggest that SR-A deficiency attenuates myocardial I/R injury by targeting p53-mediated apoptotic signaling. SR-A−/− macrophages contain high levels of miR-125b which may play a role in the protective effect of SR-A deficiency on myocardial I/R injury and H/R-induced cell damage.
PMCID: PMC3534792  PMID: 23123599
microRNA-125b; Macrophage SR-A; hypoxia/reoxygenation; Myocardial I/R injury; apoptosis
11.  Mediterranean Diet, Healthy Eating Index-2005, and Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Puerto Rican Adults 
Adherence to a Mediterranean diet (MeD) has recently been shown to protect against cognitive decline and dementia. It remains unclear, however, whether such protection extends to differing ethnic groups and middle-aged individuals, and how it may compare with adherence to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 (measured with Healthy Eating Index-2005, HEI-2005). This study examined associations between diet quality, as assessed by the MeD and HEI-2005, and cognitive performance in a sample of 1,269 Puerto Rican adults, aged 45–75 years, living in the Greater Boston area, Massachusetts. Dietary intake was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire specifically designed for and validated with this population. Adherence to the MeD was assessed with a 0 to 9 point scale, and the HEI-2005 score was calculated with a maximum score of 100. Cognitive performance was measured with a battery of seven tests; the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) was used for global cognitive function. Greater adherence to the MeD was associated with higher MMSE score (P trend = 0.012) and lower likelihood (OR = 0.87 for each additional point, 95% CI, 0.80–0.94, P <0.001) of cognitive impairment, after adjustment for confounders. Similarly, individuals with higher HEI-2005 score had higher MMSE score (P trend = 0.011) and lower odds of cognitive impairment (OR = 0.86 for each 10 points, 95% CI, 0.74–0.99, P = 0.033). In conclusion, high adherence to either the MeD or the diet recommended by the USDA dietary guidelines may protect cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults.
PMCID: PMC3662236  PMID: 23351632
Mediterranean diet; Healthy Eating Index-2005; diet quality; Cognitive impairment
12.  Mass Spectrometry Analysis Coupled with de novo Sequencing Reveals Amino Acid Substitutions in Nucleocapsid Protein from Influenza A Virus 
Amino acid substitutions in influenza A virus are the main reasons for both antigenic shift and virulence change, which result from non-synonymous mutations in the viral genome. Nucleocapsid protein (NP), one of the major structural proteins of influenza virus, is responsible for regulation of viral RNA synthesis and replication. In this report we used LC-MS/MS to analyze tryptic digestion of nucleocapsid protein of influenza virus (A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 H1N1), which was isolated and purified by SDS poly-acrylamide gel electrophoresis. Thus, LC-MS/MS analyses, coupled with manual de novo sequencing, allowed the determination of three substituted amino acid residues R452K, T423A and N430T in two tryptic peptides. The obtained results provided experimental evidence that amino acid substitutions resulted from non-synonymous gene mutations could be directly characterized by mass spectrometry in proteins of RNA viruses such as influenza A virus.
PMCID: PMC3958862  PMID: 24521884
nucleocapsid protein; influenza virus A virus; amino acid substitution; mass spectrometry
13.  Altered protein prenylation in Sertoli cells is associated with adult infertility resulting from childhood mumps infection 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(8):1559-1574.
Loss of GGPPS from childhood mumps infection or deletion in mice results in constitutively activated MAPK and NF-kB signaling that induces spermatogonium apoptosis, macrophage invasion into seminiferous tubules, and sterility.
Mumps commonly affects children 5–9 yr of age, and can lead to permanent adult sterility in certain cases. However, the etiology of this long-term effect remains unclear. Mumps infection results in progressive degeneration of the seminiferous epithelium and, occasionally, Sertoli cell–only syndrome. Thus, the remaining Sertoli cells may be critical to spermatogenesis recovery after orchitis healing. Here, we report that the protein farnesylation/geranylgeranylation balance is critical for patients’ fertility. The expression of geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase 1 (GGPPS) was decreased due to elevated promoter methylation in the testes of infertile patients with mumps infection history. When we deleted GGPPS in mouse Sertoli cells, these cells remained intact, whereas the adjacent spermatogonia significantly decreased after the fifth postnatal day. The proinflammatory MAPK and NF-κB signaling pathways were constitutively activated in GGPPS−/− Sertoli cells due to the enhanced farnesylation of H-Ras. GGPPS−/− Sertoli cells secreted an array of cytokines to stimulate spermatogonia apoptosis, and chemokines to induce macrophage invasion into the seminiferous tubules. Invaded macrophages further blocked spermatogonia development, resulting in a long-term effect through to adulthood. Notably, this defect could be rescued by GGPP administration in EMCV-challenged mice. Our results suggest a novel mechanism by which mumps infection during childhood results in adult sterility.
PMCID: PMC3727317  PMID: 23825187
14.  Injectable thermosensitive hydrogel composite with surface-functionalized calcium phosphate as raw materials 
In this study, L-lactide was used to modify the tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) and tetracalcium phosphate (TTCP) surface which can form functionalized poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA)-grafted β-TCP (g-β-TCP) and PLLA-grafted TTCP (g-TTCP) particles. The g-β-TCP and g-TTCP obtained were incorporated into a PEG-PCL-PEG (PECE) matrix to prepare injectable thermosensitive hydrogel composites. The morphology of the hydrogel composites showed that the g-β-TCP and g-TTCP particles dispersed homogeneously into the polymer matrix, and each hydrogel composite had a three-dimensional network structure. Rheologic analysis showed that the composite had good thermosensitivity. Changes in calcium concentration and pH in simulated body fluid solutions confirmed the feasibility of surface-functionalized calcium phosphate for controlled release of calcium. All the results indicate that g-β-TCP/PECE and g-TTCP/PECE hydrogels might be a promising protocol for tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC3904811  PMID: 24489468
injectable; thermosensitivity; surface functionalization; calcium phosphate; biocompatibility
15.  Correction: Asymptomatic Polyvascular Abnormalities in Community (APAC) Study in China: Objectives, Design and Baseline Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/0b52d557-24d9-4b49-a5a4-75f32b117afc.
PMCID: PMC3888476
16.  Nano-assembly of Surfactants with Interfacial Drug-Interactive Motifs as Tailor-Designed Drug Carriers 
Molecular pharmaceutics  2012;10(1):187-198.
PEGylated lipopeptide surfactants carrying drug-interactive motifs specific for a peptide-nitroxide antioxidant, JP4-039, were designed and constructed to facilitate the solubilization of this drug candidate as micelles and emulsion nanoparticles. A simple screening process based on the ability that prevents the formation of crystals of JP4-039 in aqueous solution was used to identify agents that have potential drug-interactive activities. Several protected lysine derivatives possessing this activity were identified, of which α-Fmoc-ε-tBoc lysine is the most potent, followed by α-Cbz- and α-iso-butyloxycarbonyl-ε-tBoc-lysine. Using polymer-supported liquid-phase synthesis approach, a series of synthetic lipopeptide surfactants with PEG head group, varied numbers and geometries of α-Fmoc or α-Cbz-lysyl groups located at interfacial region as the drug-interactive domains, and oleoyl chains as the hydrophobic tails were synthesized. All α-Fmoc-lysyl-containing lipopeptide surfactants were able to solubilize JP4-039 as micelles, with enhanced solubilizing activity for surfactants with increased numbers of α-Fmoc groups. The PEGylated lipopeptide surfactants with α-Fmoc-lysyl groups alone tend to form filamentous or worm-like micelles. The presence of JP4-039 transformed α-Fmoc-containing filamentous micelles into dots and bar-like mixed micelles with substantially reduced sizes. Fluorescence quenching and NMR studies revealed that the drug and surfactant molecules were in a close proximity in the complex. JP4-039-loaded emulsion carrying α-Cbz-containing surfactants demonstrated enhanced stability over drug loaded emulsion without lipopeptide surfactants. JP4-039-emulsion showed significant mitigation effect on mice exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. PEGylated lipopeptides with an interfacially located drug-interactive domain are therefore tailor-designed formulation materials potentially useful for drug development.
PMCID: PMC3540186  PMID: 23244299
surfactant; Fmoc; interface; micelle; emulsion; nitroxide; JP4-039
17.  CpG-ODN, the TLR9 agonist, attenuates myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury: involving activation of PI3K/Akt signaling 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1832(1):96-104.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have been implicated in myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. The TLR9 ligand, CpG-ODN has been reported to improve cell survival. We examined effect of CpG-ODN on myocardial I/R injury.
Male C57BL/6 mice were treated with either CpG-ODN, control-ODN, or inhibitory CpG-ODN (iCpG-ODN) one hr prior to myocardial ischemia (60 min) followed by reperfusion. Untreated mice served as I/R control (n=10/each group). Infarct size was determined by TTC straining. Cardiac function was examined by echocardiography before and after myocardial I/R up to 14 days.
CpG-ODN administration significantly decreased infarct size by 31.4% and improved cardiac function after myocardial I/R up to 14 days. Neither control-ODN nor iCpG-ODN altered I/R-induced myocardial infarction and cardiac dysfunction. CpG-ODN attenuated I/R-induced myocardial apoptosis and prevented I/R-induced decrease in Bcl2 and increase in Bax levels in the myocardium. CpG-ODN increased Akt and GSK-3β phosphorylation in the myocardium. In vitro data suggested that CpG-ODN treatment induced TLR9 tyrosine phosphorylation and promoted an association between TLR9 and the p85 subunit of PI3K. Importantly, PI3K/Akt inhibition and Akt kinase deficiency abolished CpG-ODN-induced cardioprotection.
The CpG-ODN, the TLR9 ligand, induces protection against myocardial I/R injury. The mechanisms involve activation of the PI3K/At signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3518630  PMID: 22917564
Myocardial I/R; TLR9; PI3K/Akt signaling; Apoptosis
18.  Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury Promotes Neural Precursor Proliferation Without Increasing Neurogenesis In The Adult Hippocampus 
Experimental neurology  2012;239:38-48.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) promotes neural stem/progenitor cell (NSC) proliferation in the adult hippocampus; however, it remains inconclusive whether proliferation of these cells results in newly generated mature neurons, leading to increased neurogenesis. When we traced the fates of proliferating cells labeled with bromodeoxyuridine (5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine, BrdU) we found the number of BrdU-positive cells increased in the hippocampus of TBI mice compared to the sham control. However, double immunostaining to distinguish their cell types showed that most of these cells were glia, and that only a small subpopulation is newborn granular neurons. There was no significant difference with respect to neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus between the injured and the control mice. These results indicate that TBI promotes cell proliferation including astrocyte activation and NSC proliferation. Nevertheless, the majority of the BrdU-positive cells are glia. The neurogenesis is not increased by TBI. These data suggest that TBI activates through promotion of NSC proliferation an innate repair and/or plasticity mechanism in the brain. However, additional intervention is required to increase neurogenesis for successfully repairing the damaged brain following TBI.
PMCID: PMC3755608  PMID: 23022454
Traumatic brain injury; Neurogenesis; Neural stem/progenitor cells; Gliogenesis; Hippocampal dentate gyrus; Subgranular zone
19.  Asymptomatic Polyvascular Abnormalities in Community (APAC) Study in China: Objectives, Design and Baseline Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84685.
The population-based “Asymptomatic Polyvascular Abnormalities in Community (APAC) Study was designed to examine prevalence and associations of asymptomatic polyvascular abnormalities (APA) in a general population. In this report, the objectives, design and baseline data of the APAC study are described.
The study included 5,440 participants (40.1% women) with an age of 40+ years who were randomly selected from the population of the Kailuan Study which included 101,510 employees and retirees of the Kailuan Co. Ltd, a large coal mine industry located in Tangshan, Hebei, China. Exclusion criteria were previous cerebral stroke, transient ischemic attacks and coronary heart disease. In 2010 and 2011, information on potential cardiovascular risk factors was collected and all participants underwent transcranial Doppler sonography, measurement of the ankle brachial index, and bilateral carotid duplex sonography. In a first follow-up examination in 2012/2013, retinal photography and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography were additionally performed. In a planned long-term follow-up, data from clinical examinations and laboratory tests and the occurrence of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events will be collected to build up a predicting model for the risk of ischemic events.
At baseline, mean age of the participants was 55.2±11.8 years, and men showed a significantly (P<0.001) higher prevalence of arterial hypertension (55.5% vs. 36.5%) and hyperlipidemia (50.7% vs. 46.0%) and a higher blood homocysteine concentration (18.68±10.28µmol/L versus 11.69±6.40µmol/L).
The APAC is the first study to prospectively evaluate the relationship between intracranial arterial stenosis, retinal nerve fiber layer changes, retinal microvascular signs, and the eventual development of cerebrovascular or cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC3873465  PMID: 24386406
20.  Effects of costimulation on intrahepatic immunopathogenesis in patients with chronic HBV infection 
Inflammation Research  2013;63:217-229.
Chronic HBV infection can lead to “immune tolerance” in asymptomatic carriers (ACs), “immune injury” in active chronic hepatitis (ACH) patients or “immune abnormality” in cirrhosis (Cir) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Previous investigations reported that chronic hepatitis presented abnormal expression of costimulatory molecules. We investigated the costimulation profile in the liver of ACs and patients with ACH, Cir and HCC.
Patients with ACH, Cir and HCC, ACs and normal controls were recruited into the present study. The costimulation profiles and cytokines in the liver of patients were investigated by Western blotting, immunohistochemistry and real-time quantitative PCR. Correlations between serum alanime aminotransferase (ALT) levels, necroinflammation scores, cytokines and costimulatory proteins were assessed.
The ACs presented decreased inflammatory and increased inhibitory costimulation, which was negatively correlated with inflammatory costimulatory proteins and ALT, whereas the ACH patients exhibited increased inflammatory costimulation and decreased inhibitory costimulation, which was correlated with increased ALT. The Cir patients showed both increased inhibitory and inflammatory costimulation. The HCC patients exhibited both decreased inhibitory and inflammatory costimulation.
Costimulation participates in intrahepatic immune responses, and plays important roles in immune tolerance, immune injury and immune abnormalities in patients with chronic HBV infection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00011-013-0691-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3921453  PMID: 24337678
Chronic hepatitis B infection; Costimulatory molecule; Intrahepatic immunopathophysiology; Immune tolerance
21.  Four Genetic Polymorphisms of Lymphotoxin-Alpha Gene and Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82519.
Lymphotoxin-alpha (LTA) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that plays an important role in the inflammatory and immunologic response. Numerous studies have shown LTA polymorphisms as risk factors for cancers, but the results remain inconclusive. The goal of the present meta-analyses is to establish the associations between cancers and four LTA variants (rs1041981, rs2239704, rs2229094 and rs746868). A total of 30 case-control studies involving 58,649 participants were included in the current meta-analyses. Our results showed significant associations with increased cancer risk for rs1041981 (odd ratio (OR) = 1.15, 99% confidential interval (CI) = 1.07-1.25, P < 0.0001, I2 = 12.2%), rs2239704 (OR = 1.08, 99% CI = 1.01-1.16, P = 0.021, I2 = 0.0%) and rs2229094 (OR = 1.28, 99% CI = 1.09-1.50, P = 0.003, I2 = 0.0%). No evidence was found for the association between rs746868 and cancer risk (OR = 1.01, 99% CI = 0.93-1.10, P = 0.771, I2 = 0.0%). Subgroup meta-analysis suggested that rs2239704 was likely to increase the risk of hematological malignancy (OR = 1.10, 99% CI = 1.01–1.20, P = 0.023, I2 = 0.0%), and rs2229094 was specific for the increased risk of adenocarcinoma (OR = 1.33, 99% CI = 1.11-1.59, P = 0.002, I2 = 0.0%). In conclusion, our meta-analyses suggested that the LTA rs1041981, rs2239704 and rs2229094 polymorphisms contributed to the increased risk of cancers. Future functional studies were needed to clarify the mechanistic roles of the three variants in the cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3861395  PMID: 24349304
22.  Evaluation of Assembly Strategies Using RNA-Seq Data Associated with Grain Development of Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83530.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most important crops cultivated worldwide. Identifying the complete transcriptome of wheat grain could serve as foundation for further study of wheat seed development. However, the relatively large size and the polyploid complexity of the genome have been substantial barriers to molecular genetics and transcriptome analysis of wheat. Alternatively, RNA sequencing has provided some useful information about wheat genes. However, because of the large number of short reads generated by RNA sequencing, factors that are crucial to transcriptome assembly, including software, candidate parameters and assembly strategies, need to be optimized and evaluated for wheat data. In the present study, four cDNA libraries associated with wheat grain development were constructed and sequenced. A total of 14.17 Gb of high-quality reads were obtained and used to assess different assembly strategies. The most successful approach was to filter the reads with Q30 prior to de novo assembly using Trinity, merge the assembled contigs with genes available in wheat cDNA reference data sets, and combine the resulting assembly with an assembly from a reference-based strategy. Using this approach, a relatively accurate and nearly complete transcriptome associated with wheat grain development was obtained, suggesting that this is an effective strategy for generation of a high-quality transcriptome from RNA sequencing data.
PMCID: PMC3861526  PMID: 24349528
23.  Cyclosporine A for the treatment of refractory nephrotic syndrome with renal dysfunction 
Cyclosporine A (CsA) is an immunosuppressant agent and is utilized as a second-line drug therapy for refractory nephrotic syndrome (RNS). In general, the use of CsA is strictly controlled in patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <30–40 ml/min/1.73 m2, and little is known about the safety and efficacy of CsA treatment in patients with RNS complicated by renal dysfunction. In the present study, the clinical data of 10 patients with RNS and renal dysfunction, who received CsA treatment between 2000 and 2009 in the Kidney Institute of PLA, were reviewed retrospectively. Pathologically, these patients included six cases with minimal change, two cases of diffuse mesangial proliferation and two cases of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Six months subsequent to the initiation of the CsA treatment, six patients achieved complete remission, two patients achieved remarkable remission and two patients achieved partial remission. Renal function was improved in all patients as represented by the improvement in the eGFR (28.6±3.8 ml/min/1.73 m2 prior to treatment versus 99.3±21.9 ml/min/1.73 m2 6 months subsequent to treatment). Few adverse CsA-related events were observed. These results suggest that renal dysfunction is not an absolute contraindication for CsA treatment in patients with RNS. The use of CsA is safe and efficacious and may, in certain cases, improve renal function in patients with RNS and renal impairment.
PMCID: PMC3881069  PMID: 24396423
cyclosporine A; refractory nephrotic syndrome; renal dysfunction; therapy
24.  Smoking and risk of skin cancer: a prospective analysis and a meta-analysis 
Background The association between smoking and the risk of skin cancer has not been well established.
Methods In two large cohorts in the USA, we prospectively examined the risks of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) among participants grouped according to smoking variables.
Results Among men, compared with never smokers, ever smokers had a significantly lower risk of melanoma [relative risk (RR) = 0.72; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.58–0.86]; those who smoked for ≥30 years had an RR of 0.65 (95% CI: 0.48–0.89) (Ptrend = 0.003); those who smoked ≥15 cigarettes per day had an RR of 0.32 (95% CI: 0.13–0.78) (Ptrend = 0.006) and those who smoked for > 45 pack years had an RR of 0.66 (95% CI: 0.45–0.97) (Ptrend = 0.03). Ever smokers also had a slightly lower risk of BCC (RR = 0.94; 95% CI: 0.90–0.98). There was no significant association for SCC (RR = 0.99; 95% CI: 0.89–1.12). In women, no significant association was found for melanoma (RR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.83–1.10). Compared with never smokers, ever smokers had a slightly higher risk of BCC (RR = 1.06; 95% CI: 1.03–1.08) and a higher risk of SCC (RR = 1.19; 95% CI: 1.08–1.31). A significant inverse association between smoking and melanoma was limited to the head and neck (RR = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.42–0.89).
Conclusions Smoking was inversely associated with melanoma risk, especially on the head and neck. Further studies are warranted to investigate the underlying mechanism(s).
PMCID: PMC3535753  PMID: 23064412
Smoking; skin cancer; cohort study; meta-analysis
25.  High Expression and Purification of Amino-Terminal Fragment of Human Amyloid Precursor Protein in Pichia pastoris and Partial Analysis of Its Properties 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:836429.
The cleaved amino-terminal fragment of human amyloid precursor protein (N-APP) binds death receptor 6 (DR6) and triggers a caspase-dependent self-destruction process, which was suggested to contribute to Alzheimer's disease. To investigate the N-APP-DR6-induced degeneration pathway at the molecular level, obtaining abundant and purified N-APP is fundamental and critical. The recombinant N-APP has been produced in mammalian expression system. However, the cost and yield disadvantages of mammalian expression system make it less ideal for protein mass production. Here, we successfully expressed and purified recombinant N-terminal 18-285 amino acid residues of human amyloid precursor protein from the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris with a high yield of 50 mg/L. Flow cytometry indicated the purified N-APP-induced obvious apoptosis of human neuroblastoma SHEP cells.
PMCID: PMC3838808  PMID: 24308007

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