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1.  Transcriptional Regulation and Adaptation to a High-Fiber Environment in Bacillus subtilis HH2 Isolated from Feces of the Giant Panda 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116935.
In the giant panda, adaptation to a high-fiber environment is a first step for the adequate functioning of intestinal bacteria, as the high cellulose content of the gut due to the panda's vegetarian appetite results in a harsh environment. As an excellent producer of several enzymes and vitamins, Bacillus subtilis imparts various advantages to animals. In our previous study, we determined that several strains of B. subtilis isolated from pandas exhibited good cellulose decomposition ability, and we hypothesized that this bacterial species can survive in and adapt well to a high-fiber environment. To evaluate this hypothesis, we employed RNA-Seq technology to analyze the differentially expressed genes of the selected strain B. subtilis HH2, which demonstrates significant cellulose hydrolysis of different carbon sources (cellulose and glucose). In addition, we used bioinformatics software and resources to analyze the functions and pathways of differentially expressed genes. Interestingly, comparison of the cellulose and glucose groups revealed that the up-regulated genes were involved in amino acid and lipid metabolism or transmembrane transport, both of which are involved in cellulose utilization. Conversely, the down-regulated genes were involved in non-essential functions for bacterial life, such as toxin and bacteriocin secretion, possibly to conserve energy for environmental adaptation. The results indicate that B. subtilis HH2 triggered a series of adaptive mechanisms at the transcriptional level, which suggests that this bacterium could act as a probiotic for pandas fed a high-fiber diet, despite the fact that cellulose is not a very suitable carbon source for this bacterial species. In this study, we present a model to understand the dynamic organization of and interactions between various functional and regulatory networks for unicellular organisms in a high-fiber environment.
PMCID: PMC4319723  PMID: 25658435
2.  Unique Expression Pattern and Functional Role of Periostin in Human Limbal Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117139.
Periostin is a non-structural matricellular protein. Little is known about periostin in human limbal stem cells (LSCs). This study was to explore the unique expression pattern and functional role of periostin in maintaining the properties of human LSCs. Fresh donor corneal tissues were used to make cryosections for evaluation of periostin expression on ex vivo tissues. Primary human limbal epithelial cells (HLECs) were generated from limbal explant culture. In vitro culture models for proliferation and epithelial regeneration were performed to explore functional role of periostin in LSCs. The mRNA expression was determined by reverse transcription and quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR), and the protein production and localization were detected by immunofluorescent staining and Western blot analysis. Periostin protein was found to be exclusively immunolocalized in the basal layer of human limbal epithelium. Periostin localization was well matched with nuclear factor p63, but not with corneal epithelial differentiation marker Keratin 3. Periostin transcripts was also highly expressed in limbal than corneal epithelium. In primary HLECs, periostin expression at mRNA and protein levels was significantly higher in 50% and 70% confluent cultures at exponential growth stage than in 100% confluent cultures at slow growth or quiescent condition. This expression pattern was similar to other stem/progenitor cell markers (p63, integrin β1 and TCF4). Periostin expression at transcripts, protein and immunoreactivity levels increased significantly during epithelial regeneration in wound healing process, especially in 16-24 hours at wound edge, which was accompanied by similar upregulation and activation of p63, integrin β1 and TCF4. Our findings demonstrated that periostin is exclusively produced by limbal basal epithelium and co-localized with p63, where limbal stem cells reside. Periostin promotes HLEC proliferation and regeneration with accompanied activation of stem/progenitor cell markers p63, integrin β1 and TCF4, suggesting its novel role in maintaining the phenotype and functional properties of LSC.
PMCID: PMC4319935  PMID: 25658308
3.  The Role of Abcb5 Alleles in Susceptibility to Haloperidol-Induced Toxicity in Mice and Humans 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(2):e1001782.
We know very little about the genetic factors affecting susceptibility to drug-induced central nervous system (CNS) toxicities, and this has limited our ability to optimally utilize existing drugs or to develop new drugs for CNS disorders. For example, haloperidol is a potent dopamine antagonist that is used to treat psychotic disorders, but 50% of treated patients develop characteristic extrapyramidal symptoms caused by haloperidol-induced toxicity (HIT), which limits its clinical utility. We do not have any information about the genetic factors affecting this drug-induced toxicity. HIT in humans is directly mirrored in a murine genetic model, where inbred mouse strains are differentially susceptible to HIT. Therefore, we genetically analyzed this murine model and performed a translational human genetic association study.
Methods and Findings
A whole genome SNP database and computational genetic mapping were used to analyze the murine genetic model of HIT. Guided by the mouse genetic analysis, we demonstrate that genetic variation within an ABC-drug efflux transporter (Abcb5) affected susceptibility to HIT. In situ hybridization results reveal that Abcb5 is expressed in brain capillaries, and by cerebellar Purkinje cells. We also analyzed chromosome substitution strains, imaged haloperidol abundance in brain tissue sections and directly measured haloperidol (and its metabolite) levels in brain, and characterized Abcb5 knockout mice. Our results demonstrate that Abcb5 is part of the blood-brain barrier; it affects susceptibility to HIT by altering the brain concentration of haloperidol. Moreover, a genetic association study in a haloperidol-treated human cohort indicates that human ABCB5 alleles had a time-dependent effect on susceptibility to individual and combined measures of HIT. Abcb5 alleles are pharmacogenetic factors that affect susceptibility to HIT, but it is likely that additional pharmacogenetic susceptibility factors will be discovered.
ABCB5 alleles alter susceptibility to HIT in mouse and humans. This discovery leads to a new model that (at least in part) explains inter-individual differences in susceptibility to a drug-induced CNS toxicity.
Gary Peltz and colleagues examine the role of ABCB5 alleles in haloperidol-induced toxicity in a murine genetic model and humans treated with haloperidol.
Editors' Summary
The brain is the control center of the human body. This complex organ controls thoughts, memory, speech, and movement, it is the seat of intelligence, and it regulates the function of many organs. The brain comprises many different parts, all of which work together but all of which have their own special functions. For example, the forebrain is involved in intellectual activities such as thinking whereas the hindbrain controls the body’s vital functions and movements. Messages are passed between the various regions of the brain and to other parts of the body by specialized cells called neurons, which release and receive signal molecules known as neurotransmitters. Like all the organs in the body, blood vessels supply the brain with the oxygen, water, and nutrients it needs to function. Importantly, however, the brain is protected from infectious agents and other potentially dangerous substances circulating in the blood by the “blood-brain barrier,” a highly selective permeability barrier that is formed by the cells lining the fine blood vessels (capillaries) within the brain.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although drugs have been developed to treat various brain disorders, more active and less toxic drugs are needed to improve the treatment of many if not most of these conditions. Unfortunately, relatively little is known about how the blood-brain barrier regulates the entry of drugs into the brain or about the genetic factors that affect the brain’s susceptibility to drug-induced toxicities. It is not known, for example, why about half of patients given haloperidol—a drug used to treat psychotic disorders (conditions that affect how people think, feel, or behave)—develop tremors and other symptoms caused by alterations in the brain region that controls voluntary movements. Here, to improve our understanding of how drugs enter the brain and impact its function, the researchers investigate the genetic factors that affect haloperidol-induced toxicity by genetically analyzing several inbred mouse strains (every individual in an inbred mouse strain is genetically identical) with different susceptibilities to haloperidol-induced toxicity and by undertaking a human genetic association study (a study that looks for non-chance associations between specific traits and genetic variants).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a database of genetic variants called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a computational genetic mapping approach to show first that variations within the gene encoding Abcb5 affected susceptibility to haloperidol-induced toxicity (indicated by changes in the length of time taken by mice to move their paws when placed on an inclined wire-mesh screen) among inbred mouse strains. Abcb5 is an ATP-binding cassette transporter, a type of protein that moves molecules across cell membranes. The researchers next showed that Abcb5 is expressed in brain capillaries, which is the location of the blood-brain barrier. Abcb5 was also expressed in cerebellar Purkinje cells, which help to control motor (intentional) movements. They also measured the measured the effect of haloperidol and the haloperidol concentration in brain tissue sections in mice that were genetically engineered to make no Abcb5 (Abcb5 knockout mice). Finally, the researchers investigated whether specific alleles (alternative versions) of ABCB5 are associated with haloperidol-induced toxicity in people. Among a group of 85 patients treated with haloperidol for a psychotic illness, one specific ABCB5 allele was associated with haloperidol-induced toxicity during the first few days of treatment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that Abcb5 is a component of the blood-brain barrier in mice and suggest that genetic variants in the gene encoding this protein underlie, at least in part, the differences in susceptibility to haloperidol-induced toxicity seen among inbred mice strains. Moreover, the human genetic association study indicates that a specific ABCB5 allele also affects the susceptibility of people to haloperidol-induced toxicity. The researchers note that other ABCB5 alleles or other genetic factors that affect haloperidol-induced toxicity in people might emerge if larger groups of patients were studied. However, based on their findings, the researchers propose a new model for the genetic mechanisms that underlie inter-individual and cell type-specific differences in susceptibility to haloperidol-induced brain toxicity. If confirmed in future studies, this model might facilitate the development of more effective and less toxic drugs to treat a range of brain disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about a wide range of brain diseases (in English and Spanish); its fact sheet “Brain Basics: Know Your Brain” is a simple introduction to the human brain; its “Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network” was established to develop new drugs for disorders affecting the brain and other parts of the nervous system
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about brain diseases and their treatment (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia provides information about haloperidol, about ATP-binding cassette transporters and about genetic association (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC4315575  PMID: 25647612
4.  Multivariate analysis of risk factors for predicting supplementary posterior instrumentation after anterolateral decompression and instrumentation in treating thoracolumbar burst fractures 
Although anterolateral decompression and instrumentation has several advantages in treating thoracolumbar burst fractures, the risk factors for supplementary posterior instrumentation are still unclear.
We retrospectively reviewed 238 patients who underwent anterolateral decompression and instrumentation for single-level thoracolumbar burst fractures from January 2010 and March 2012. The influences of several potential risk factors that might affect supplementary posterior instrumentation were assessed using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Twenty seven patients who developed worsening back pain without neurological deterioration after the anterolateral approach treatment need further posterior instrumentation fixation. The univariate analysis showed that age, disruption of the posterior longitudinal ligament complex (PLC), and fracture level were the risk factors for supplementary posterior instrumentation. However, age and integrity of the PLC were the independent risk factors for supplementary posterior instrumentation by multivariate analyses.
Supplemental posterior instrumentation was necessary in 11.3% of cases following anterolateral decompression and instrumentation in the present study. Older age and disruption of the PLC were the independent risk factors in prediction of supplementary posterior instrumentation in treating thoracolumbar burst fractures.
PMCID: PMC4314733  PMID: 25627918
Thoracolumbar burst fracture; Anterolateral decompression; Posterior instrumentation; Multivariate analysis; Risk factors
5.  Resting-state functional connectivity and reading abilities in first and second languages 
NeuroImage  2013;84:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.09.006.
An intriguing discovery in recent years is that resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) is associated with cognitive performance. The current study investigated whether RSFC within the reading network was correlated with Chinese adults’ reading abilities in their native language (L1, Chinese) and second language (L2, English). Results showed that RSFC within the reading network was positively correlated to reading abilities in L1 and L2, and RSFC between reading areas and the default network was negatively correlated to reading abilities in L1 and L2. Further conjunction and contrast analyses revealed that L1 and L2 shared similar RSFC correlates including connectivities between the areas for visual analysis (e.g., bilateral posterior fusiform gyrus, lateral occipital cortices, and right superior parietal lobules) and those for phonological processing (e.g., bilateral precentral gyri and postcentral gyrus, Wernicke’s area). These results indicate that RSFC is a potential neural marker for reading abilities in both L1 and L2, with important theoretical implications for reading in L1 and L2.
PMCID: PMC3849213  PMID: 24055555
functional connectivity; resting-state; reading ability; first and second languages; the reading network
6.  Effects of Different Sera Conditions on Olfactory Ensheathing Cells in Vitro 
Transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) is a promising therapy in spinal cord injury (SCI) treatment. However, the therapeutic efficacy of this method is unstable due to unknown reasons. Considering the alterations in the culture environment that occur during OEC preparation for transplantation, we hypothesize that these changes may cause variations in the curative effects of this method. In this study, we compared OEC cultured in medium containing different types and concentrations of serum. After purification and passage, the OEC were cultured for 7 days in different media containing 5%, 10%, 15% or 20% fetal bovine serum (FBS) or rat serum (RS), or the cells were cultured in FBS-containing medium first, followed by medium containing RS. In another group, the OEC were first cultured in 10% FBS for 3 days and then cultured with rat spinal cord explants with 10% RS for another 4 days. An MTT assay and P75 neurotrophin receptor immunofluorescence staining were used to examine cell viability and OEC numbers, respectively. The concentration of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), which is secreted by OEC into the culture supernatant, was detected using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). RT-PCR was applied to investigate the NT-3 gene expression in OEC according to different groups. Compared with FBS, RS reduced OEC proliferation in relation to OEC counts (χ2 = 166.279, df = 1, p < 0.01), the optical density (OD) value in the MTT assay (χ2 = 34.730, df = 1, p < 0.01), and NT-3 concentration in the supernatant (χ2 = 242.997, df = 1, p < 0.01). OEC cultured with spinal cord explants secreted less NT-3 than OEC cultured alone (F = 9.611, df = 5.139, p < 0.01). Meanwhile, the order of application of different sera was not influential. There was statistically significant difference in NT-3 gene expression among different groups when the serum concentration was 15% (χ2 = 64.347, df = 1, p < 0.01). In conclusion, different serum conditions may be responsible for the variations in OEC proliferation and function.
PMCID: PMC4307254  PMID: 25548898
rat serum; fetal bovine serum; olfactory ensheathing cells; concentration; culture
7.  Oxidative Stress-Related Genetic Polymorphisms Are Associated with the Prognosis of Metastatic Gastric Cancer Patients Treated with Epirubicin, Oxaliplatin and 5-Fluorouracil Combination Chemotherapy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116027.
Oxidative stress genes are related to cancer development and treatment response. In this study, we aimed to determine the predictive and prognostic roles of oxidative stress-related genetic polymorphisms in metastatic gastric cancer (MGC) patients treated with chemotherapy.
In this retrospective study, we genotyped nine oxidative stress-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in NQO1, SOD2, SOD3, PON1, GSTP1, GSTT1, and NOS3 (rs1800566, rs10517, rs4880, rs1799895, rs662, rs854560, rs1695, rs2266637, rs1799983, respectively) in 108 consecutive MGC patients treated with epirubicin, oxaliplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (EOF) regimen as the first-line chemotherapy and analyzed the association between the genotypes and the disease control rate (DCR), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS).
We found that, in addition to a lower pathological grade (p = 0.017), NQO1 rs1800566 CT/TT genotype was an independent predictive factor of poor PFS (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.97, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.23–3.16; p = 0.005). PON1 rs662 AA/AG genotype was significantly associated with poor OS (HR = 1.95, 95% CI = 1.07–3.54; p = 0.029). No associations were detected between the nine SNPs and DCR.
NQO1 rs1800566 is an independent predictive factor of PFS for MGC patients treated with EOF chemotherapy, and PON1 rs662 is a noteworthy prognostic factor of OS. Information on oxidative stress-related genetic variants may facilitate optimization of individualized chemotherapy in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC4278770  PMID: 25545243
8.  Phase II study of weekly irinotecan and capecitabine treatment in metastatic colorectal cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):986.
The purpose of this phase II study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of weekly irinotecan and capecitabine (wXELIRI) treatment in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, specifically the rate of severe diarrhea.
Patients with unresectable histologically confirmed metastatic colorectal cancer with measurable disease received weekly irinotecan 90 mg/m2 on day 1 and capecitabine 1200 mg/m2 twice daily on days 1–5. Patients naïve to systemic chemotherapy for metastatic disease or who had failed FOLFOX (infusional 5-fluorouracil [5-FU], leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) or XELOX (capecitabine plus oxaliplatin) as first-line treatment were eligible. The primary endpoint was the rate of grade 3/4 diarrhea. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and safety.
A total of 52 patients were enrolled, 30 of whom received wXELIRI as first-line treatment and 22 as second-line treatment. Grade 4 diarrhea was observed in one patient and the rate of grade 3/4 diarrhea was 7.7%. The other common grade 3/4 toxicities included leukopenia (9.6%), neutropenia (17.3%), nausea (3.8%), vomiting (3.8%), fatigue (1.9%), and hand-foot syndrome (1.9%). The median progression-free survival and overall survival for the 30 patients treated in the first-line setting was 8.5 and 16.3 months, while those for the 22 patients treated in the second-line setting was 5.0 and 10.7 months, respectively.
The wXELIRI regimen resulted in a low rate of severe diarrhea with an acceptable toxicity profile. This study provides a basis for a subsequent randomized controlled study of wXELIRI versus FOLFIRI (irinotecan, 5-FU, and folinic acid) to further explore the efficacy and safety of this regimen.
Trial registration NCT01322152.
PMCID: PMC4300831  PMID: 25527007
Colorectal neoplasms; Irinotecan; Capecitabine; Antineoplastic agents
9.  Enhanced specificity and efficiency of the CRISPR/Cas9 system with optimized sgRNA parameters in Drosophila 
Cell reports  2014;9(3):1151-1162.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system has recently emerged as a powerful tool for functional genomic studies in Drosophila melanogaster. However, sgRNA parameters affecting the specificity and efficiency of the system in flies are still not clear. Here, we found that off-target effects did not occur in regions of genomic DNA with three or more nucleotide mismatches to sgRNAs. Importantly, we document for the first time a strong positive correlation between mutagenesis efficiency and sgRNA GC content of the six protospacer adjacent motif-proximal nucleotides (PAMPNs). Furthermore, by injecting well-designed sgRNA plasmids at the optimal concentration we determined, we could efficiently generate mutations in four genes in one step. Finally, we generated null alleles of HP1a using optimized parameters through homology-directed repair, and achieved an overall mutagenesis rate significantly higher than previously reported. Our work presents the most comprehensive optimization of sgRNA and promises to vastly simplify CRISPR/Cas9 experiments in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC4250831  PMID: 25437567
CRISPR; Cas9; sgRNA; off-target; multiple mutants; homology-directed repair
10.  A novel method for detection of HBVcccDNA in hepatocytes using rolling circle amplification combined with in situ PCR 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):608.
Intrahepatic hepatitis B virus (HBV) covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) is the original template for HBV replication. The persistence of cccDNA is responsible for the recurrence of HBV infection. The detection of cccDNA can help the development of new antiviral drugs against HBV replication links, and reduce the resistance and recurrence as well as to discover extrahepatic HBV infection. In situ polymerase chain reaction (IS-PCR) can be used to determine the distribution and localization of cccDNA in liver tissues, but it is hampered by its low sensitivity and specificity. We developed a novel method to detect HBV cccDNA using rolling circle amplification (RCA) combined with IS-PCR.
Biopsy liver tissues were obtained from 26 patients with HBV infection, including 10 chronic hepatitis B (CHB), 6 liver cirrhosis (LC) and 10 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Four pairs of primers were designed to mediating RCA for the first round amplification of HBV cccDNA specifically. The liver tissue sections from patients were treated by plasmid-safe ATP-dependent DNase (PSAD) prior to RCA. After RCA, HBV cccDNA was further amplified by a pair of selective primers labeled digoxigenin that target the gap region between the two direct repeat regions (DR1 and DR2) of the virus via IS-PCR.
HBVcccDNA was expressed and located in hepatocyte nucleus in 19 patients (73.07%). Compared with the IS-PCR, the introduction of RCA increase the limit of detection. RCA combined with IS-PCR yielded strong positive signals in HCC liver tissue in spite of low copy number cccDNA (2 copies of target sequence per cell), meanwhile, no positive signal was detected via negative control.
RCA combined with IS-PCR is an effective and practicable method which could detect the presence of low copy number of cccDNA sensitively and specifically, and reflect the relationship between cccDNA expression level and liver tissue pathological characteristics.
PMCID: PMC4264245  PMID: 25465805
Covalently closed circular DNA; Hepatitis B virus; In situ PCR; Rolling circle amplification
11.  Hypermethylation of Cox5a Promoter Is Associated with Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Skeletal Muscle of High Fat Diet-Induced Insulin Resistant Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113784.
High-fat diet (HFD) is an environmental factor that contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity and type 2 diabetes. A number of genes influencing oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) were found to be downregulated in skeletal muscle of humans and rats treated with HFD and have been implicated in mitochondrial dysfunction, insulin resistance, and consequent type 2 diabetes. In this study, we hypothesized that DNA methylation plays a crucial role in the regulation of OXPHOS genes in skeletal muscle of rats exposed to HFD. Using whole genome promoter methylation analysis of skeletal muscle followed by qPCR and bisulfite sequencing analysis, we identified hypermethylation of Cox5a in HFD rats. Furthermore, we found that Cox5a hypermethylation was associated with downregulation of Cox5a expression at the mRNA and protein level, and a reduction in mitochondrial complex IV activity and ATP content in HFD-induced insulin resistant rats compared to controls. Moreover, we found that while exposure to palmitate resulted in hypermethylation of the Cox5a promoter in rat myotubes, demethylation with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine was associated with preserved Cox5a expression, as well as restoration of complex IV activity and cellular ATP content. These novel observations indicate that Cox5a hypermethylation is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in skeletal muscle of HFD-induced insulin resistant rats.
PMCID: PMC4249960  PMID: 25436770
12.  Imaging neural spiking in brain tissue using FRET-opsin protein voltage sensors 
Nature communications  2014;5:3674.
Genetically encoded fluorescence voltage sensors offer the possibility of directly visualizing neural spiking dynamics in cells targeted by their genetic class or connectivity. Sensors of this class have generally suffered performance-limiting tradeoffs between modest brightness, sluggish kinetics, and limited signaling dynamic range in response to action potentials. Here we describe sensors that use fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) to combine the rapid kinetics and substantial voltage-dependence of rhodopsin family voltage-sensing domains with the brightness of genetically engineered protein fluorophores. These FRET-opsin sensors significantly improve upon the spike detection fidelity offered by the genetically encoded voltage sensor, Arclight, while offering faster kinetics and higher brightness. Using FRET-opsin sensors we imaged neural spiking and sub-threshold membrane voltage dynamics in cultured neurons and in pyramidal cells within neocortical tissue slices. In live mice, rates and optical waveforms of cerebellar Purkinje neurons’ dendritic voltage transients matched expectations for these cells’ dendritic spikes.
PMCID: PMC4247277  PMID: 24755708
13.  LC–MS/MS determination and pharmacokinetic study of columbianadin in rat plasma after intravenous administration of pure columbianadin 
Columbianadin, one of the active coumarins, is isolated from Radix Angelicae pubescentis which has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of rheumatic diseases for thousands of years. A fast and sensitive method is required for the determination of columbianadin for pharmacokinetic studies. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method is a preeminent analytical tool for rapid biomedical analysis.
A sensitive LC-MS/MS method has been validated to determine the concentration of columbianadin in rat plasma after intravenous administration of columbianadin (1, 2.5 and 5 mg kg−1). Liquid-liquid extraction was used to extract columbianadin from the rat plasma. Bergapten was selected as an internal standard (IS). The separations were performed on an Eclipse plus C18 column (4.6 × 100 mm, 1.8 μm) with ammonium acetate aqueous solution (1 mmol L−1) and acetonitrile as the mobile phase. The flow rate was set at 0.300 mL min−1. Quantification was performed using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode to monitor transitions of m/z 329.3 → 229.3 for columbianadin and m/z 217.2 → 202.2 for IS at positive ionization mode. The calibration curve was linear over the concentration range of 4–20000 ng mL−1 with a correlation coefficient (r) of 0.996 or better. The precision of intra- and inter-batch assays ranged from 4.02 to 7.33% and accuracies determined at three concentrations ranged between 91.9% and 106%. The lower limit of quantification was about 4 ng mL−1.
The proposed LC-MS/MS method is simple, rapid and highly sensitive so that it could be used to evaluate pharmacokinetic properties of columbianadin in rat plasma after intravenous administration.
PMCID: PMC4280029  PMID: 25550710
Radix angelicae pubescentis; Columbianadin; LC-MS/MS; Intravenous administration
14.  LC–MS/MS determination and pharmacokinetic study of columbianadin in rat plasma after intravenous administration of pure columbianadin 
Columbianadin, one of the active coumarins, is isolated from Radix Angelicae pubescentis which has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of rheumatic diseases for thousands of years. A fast and sensitive method is required for the determination of columbianadin for pharmacokinetic studies. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method is a preeminent analytical tool for rapid biomedical analysis.
A sensitive LC-MS/MS method has been validated to determine the concentration of columbianadin in rat plasma after intravenous administration of columbianadin (1, 2.5 and 5 mg kg−1). Liquid-liquid extraction was used to extract columbianadin from the rat plasma. Bergapten was selected as an internal standard (IS). The separations were performed on an Eclipse plus C18 column (4.6 × 100 mm, 1.8 μm) with ammonium acetate aqueous solution (1 mmol L−1) and acetonitrile as the mobile phase. The flow rate was set at 0.300 mL min−1. Quantification was performed using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode to monitor transitions of m/z 329.3 → 229.3 for columbianadin and m/z 217.2 → 202.2 for IS at positive ionization mode. The calibration curve was linear over the concentration range of 4–20000 ng mL−1 with a correlation coefficient (r) of 0.996 or better. The precision of intra- and inter-batch assays ranged from 4.02 to 7.33% and accuracies determined at three concentrations ranged between 91.9% and 106%. The lower limit of quantification was about 4 ng mL−1.
The proposed LC-MS/MS method is simple, rapid and highly sensitive so that it could be used to evaluate pharmacokinetic properties of columbianadin in rat plasma after intravenous administration.
PMCID: PMC4280029  PMID: 25550710
Radix angelicae pubescentis; Columbianadin; LC-MS/MS; Intravenous administration
15.  Prognostic Significance of Neutrophil Lymphocyte Ratio in Patients with Gastric Cancer: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111906.
Several studies have shown that neutrophil lymphocyte ratio (NLR) may be associated with the prognosis of gastric cancer (GC), but the results are controversial.
This study was performed to evaluate the prognostic implications of neutrophil lymphocyte ratio of GC in all available studies. We surveyed 2 medical databases, PubMed and EMBASE, to identifyall relevant studies. Data were collected from studies comparing overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS) and progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with GC.
Ten studies (n = 2,952) evaluated the role of NLR as a predictor of outcome were involved for this meta-analysis (10 for OS, 3 for DFS, and 2 for PFS). Overall and disease-free survival were significantly better in patients with low NLR value and the pooled HRs was significant at 1.83 ([95% CI], 1.62–2.07) and 1.58 ([95% CI], 1.12–2.21), respectively. For progression-free survival, the pooled hazard ratio of NLR was significant at 1.54 ([95% CI], 1.22–1.95). No evidence of significant heterogeneity or publication bias for OS and DFS was seen in any of the included studies.
This meta-analysis indicated that elevated NLR may be associated with a worse prognosis for patients with GC.
PMCID: PMC4234250  PMID: 25401500
16.  Association between Reversal in the Expression of Hyperpolarization-Activated Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated (HCN) Channel and Age-Related Atrial Fibrillation 
We compared cardiac electrophysiological indicators and regional expression levels of cardiac hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels between adult and aged dogs to identify possible mechanisms of age-related atrial fibrillation.
Corrected sinus node recovery time (SNRTc) and effective refractory period (ERP) of the atrium and pulmonary veins were measured in 10 adult (3–6 years old) and 10 aged dogs (>9 years old). Expression levels of HCN2 and HCN4 channel mRNAs and proteins were measured in the sinoatrial node, atrium, and pulmonary veins by real-time PCR and Western blotting.
Aged dogs exhibited a higher induction rate of atrial fibrillation (AF) in response to electrical stimulation, longer AF duration after induction, longer SNRTc, longer right atrial effective refractory period (AERP), shorter left AERP, and increased AERP dispersion compared to adults. Expression levels of HCN2 and HCN4 channel mRNAs and proteins were lower in the sinoatrial node but higher in the atrium and pulmonary veins of aged dogs.
Changes in atrial electrophysiological indicators in aged dogs revealed sinoatrial node dysfunction. There was a reversal in the local tissue distribution of HCN2 and HCN4 channel mRNA and protein, a decrease in sinoatrial node expression, and increase in atrial and pulmonary vein expression with age. Changes in atrial electrophysiological characteristics and regional HCN channel expression patterns were associated with the onset and maintenance of age-related atrial fibrillation.
PMCID: PMC4242900  PMID: 25404650
Aging; Atrial Fibrillation; Hyperpolarization-Activated Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channels
17.  Multicenter phase II study of Apatinib in non-triple-negative metastatic breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):820.
Apatinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2(VEGFR-2). This study was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of apatinib in patients with non-triple-negative metastatic breast cancer who had received prior chemotherapy for their metastatic disease.
This multicenter, open-label, single arm study enrolled patients with non-triple-negative breast cancer, pretreated with anthracycline, taxanes and capecitabine, and who failed in the metastatic setting at least 1 and at most 4 prior chemotherapy regimens and at least one endocrine drug for hormone receptor-positive patients as well as at least one anti-Her2 drug for Her2-positive patients. The primary end point of this study was progression free survival (PFS). Secondary end points included objective response rate (ORR), disease control rate (DCR), overall survival (OS), and toxicity. Apatinib was administered as 500 mg daily on days 1 through 28 of each 4-week cycle.
38 patients were enrolled with a median age of 49 years (range, 35 to 62 years) and received apatinib for a median of 4 cycles (range from 0 to 10 cycles). 18 (47.4%) patients experienced dose reduction during treatment. The median relative dose intensity (relative to assigned dose for each cycle) was 82% (range, 45.0% to 100.0%). Median follow-up time was 10.1 months. Median PFS of all 38 patients was 4.0 months (95% confidence interval (CI), 2.8 m – 5.2 m). 36 patients were eligible for efficacy analysis. ORR was 16.7% (6/36). DCR was 66.7% (24/36). Median OS was 10.3 months (95% CI, 9.1 m – 11.6 m). The most common grade 3/4 treatment-related AEs were hypertension (20.5%), hand-foot syndrome (10.3%), and proteinuria (5.1%). Of three possibly drug-related SAEs recorded in the study, 2 (3.4%) deaths occurred within 28 days of last treatment and were both considered to be the result of disease progression. The other one was grade 2 diarrhea needing hospitalization.
Apatinib exhibited objective efficacy in heavily pretreated, metastatic non-triple-negative breast cancer with manageable toxicity, and it might be better to be tested in breast cancer with high angiogenesis dependency.
Trial registration NCT01653561.
PMCID: PMC4237755  PMID: 25376790
Apatinib; Metastatic breast cancer; VEGF
18.  Do we really need closed-suction drainage in total hip arthroplasty? A meta-analysis 
International Orthopaedics  2013;37(11):2109-2118.
The clinical use of closed-suction drainage, which aims to reduce postoperative wound haematomas and infection, is common. This study was performed to determine whether closed-suction drainage is safe and effective in promoting wound healing and reducing blood loss and other complications compared with no-drainage in total hip arthroplasty.
The literature search was based on PubMed, the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, and EMBASE. The data were evaluated using the generic evaluation tool designed by the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group, and then analysed using RevMan 5.0. Twenty randomised controlled trials involving 3,186 patients were included in our analysis.
The results of our meta-analysis indicate that closed-suction drainage reduces the requirement for dressing reinforcement, but increases the rate of homologous blood transfusion. No significant difference was observed in the incidence of infection, blood loss, changes in haemoglobin and haematocrit, functional assessment, or other complications when the drainage group was compared with the no-drainage group.
Our results of the comparison between closed-suction drainage and no drainage in THA have indicated that the routine use of closed-suction drainage for elective total hip arthroplasty may be of more harm than benefit.
PMCID: PMC3824906  PMID: 23982636
Closed-suction drainage; Total hip arthroplasty; Blood loss; Transfusion; Meta-analysis
19.  Inhibitory effects of transcription factor Ikaros on the expression of liver cancer stem cell marker CD133 in hepatocellular carcinoma 
Oncotarget  2014;5(21):10621-10635.
CD133 is a cellular surface glycoprotein that has been reported as a marker for the enrichment of cancer stem cells (CSCs). However, the regulatory mechanism of CD133 remains unknown. CSCs have been proposed to contribute to radioresistance and multi-drug resistance. The elucidation of key regulators of CD133 and CSCs is critical for the development of CSC-targeted therapy. In this study, we showed that Ikarosinhibited the expression of CD133 via direct binding to the CD133 P1 promoter and repressed the tumorigenic and self-renewal capacity of CD133+ cancer stem-like cells in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We found that Ikaros interacted with CtBP as a transcription repressor complex, which inhibited CD133 expression in HCC. We also demonstrated that Ikaros expression was up-regulated by ETS1 which activity was regulated by MAPKs pathway. Furthermore, decreased expression of Ikaroswas significantly associated with poor survival in HCC patients. Overall, our study identifies that Ikaros plays a role as a transcription repressor in HCC and is a new reactivated therapeutic target for the treatment of HCC. Meanwhile, our findings provide evidence that Ikaros could be an attractive inhibitor of the target gene CD133, which reactivates anticancer mechanisms in targeted CSC therapy.
PMCID: PMC4279398  PMID: 25301737
Ikaros; CD133; hepatocellular carcinoma; cancer stem cells
20.  A novel drug discovery strategy: Mechanistic investigation of an enantiomeric antitumor agent targeting dual p53 and NF-κB pathways 
Oncotarget  2014;5(21):10830-10839.
The p53 and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) pathways play crucial roles in human cancer development. Simultaneous targeting of both pathways is an attractive therapeutic strategy against cancer. In this study, we report an antitumor molecule that bears a pyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrazole scaffold and functions as an enantiomeric inhibitor against both the p53-MDM2 interaction and the NF-κB activation. It is a first-in-class enantiomeric inhibitor with dual efficacy for cancer therapy. Synergistic effect was observed in vitro and in vivo. Docking and molecular dynamics simulation studies further provided insights into the nature of stereoselectivity.
PMCID: PMC4279413  PMID: 25350970
p53-MDM2; NF-κB; antitumor activity; dual inhibitors; enantiomer; molecular dynamics; molecular recognition
21.  Postsynaptic insertion of AMPA receptor onto cortical pyramidal neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex after peripheral nerve injury 
Molecular Brain  2014;7(1):76.
Long-term potentiation (LTP) is the key cellular mechanism for physiological learning and pathological chronic pain. Postsynaptic accumulation of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) GluA1 plays an important role for injury-related cortical LTP. However, there is no direct evidence for postsynaptic GluA1 insertion or accumulation after peripheral injury. Here we report nerve injury increased the postsynaptic expression of AMPAR GluA1 in pyramidal neurons in the layer V of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), including the corticospinal projecting neurons. Electrophysiological recordings show that potentiation of postsynaptic responses was reversed by Ca2+ permeable AMPAR antagonist NASPM. Finally, behavioral studies show that microinjection of NASPM into the ACC inhibited behavioral sensitization caused by nerve injury. Our findings provide direct evidence that peripheral nerve injury induces postsynaptic GluA1 accumulation in cingulate cortical neurons, and inhibits postsynaptic GluA1 accumulation which may serve as a novel target for treating neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC4221704  PMID: 25359681
22.  Autophagy Facilitates Antibody-Enhanced Dengue Virus Infection in Human Pre-Basophil/Mast Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110655.
Dengue virus (DENV) infection can cause severe hemorrhagic disease in humans. Although the pathogenic mechanisms underlying severe DENV disease remain unclear, one of the possible contributing factors is antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) which occurs when sub-neutralizing antibodies derived from a previous DENV infection enhance viral infection through interaction between virus-antibody complexes and FcR-bearing cells, such as macrophages and basophil/mast cells. Although recent reports showed that DENV induces autophagy, the relationship between antibody-enhanced DENV infection and autophagy is not clear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We showed that sub-neutralizing antibodies derived from dengue patient sera enhanced DENV infection and autophagy in the KU812 pre-basophil-like cell line as well as the HMC-1 immature mast cell line. Antibody-enhanced DENV infection of KU812 cells increased the number of autophagosome vesicles, LC3 punctation, LC3-II accumulation, and p62 degradation over that seen in cells infected with DENV alone. The percentages of DENV envelope (E) protein-positive cells and LC3 puncta following antibody-enhanced DENV infection of KU812 cells were reduced by the autophagy inhibitor 3-MA. Antibody-enhanced DENV infection of HMC-1 cells showed co-localization of DENV E protein and dsRNA with autophagosomes, which was inhibited by 3-MA treatment. Furthermore, DENV infection and replication were reduced when KU812 cells were transfected with the autophagy-inhibiting Atg4BC74A mutant.
Our results demonstrate a significant induction of autophagy in antibody-enhanced DENV infection of pre-basophil-like KU812 and immature mast cell-like HMC-1 cells. Also, autophagy plays an important role in DENV infection and replication in these cells. Given the importance of ADE and FcR-bearing cells such as monocytes, macrophages and basophil/mast cells in dengue disease, the results provide insights into dengue pathogenesis and therapeutic means of control.
PMCID: PMC4199741  PMID: 25329914
23.  MUC1 gene polymorphism rs4072037 and susceptibility to gastric cancer: a meta-analysis 
SpringerPlus  2014;3:599.
The association between MUC1 polymorphism rs4072037 and the risk of gastric cancer has been described in several studies. However, these studies yielded inconsistent results, especially in different pathological type of gastric cancer. Therefore, we performed this meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between MUC1 gene polymorphism and gastric cancer susceptibility. A comprehensive database search was performed to identify eligible studies. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to assess the strength of the association between MUC1 rs4072037 and risk of gastric cancer. Subgroup analyses, publication bias, and sensitivity analyses were also conducted. PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science and CNKI databases were systematically searched to identify relevant studies. A total of 9 studies (12 datasets) were included in the meta-analysis including 10,410 cases and 11,437 controls. Overall, the G allele at rs4072037 of MUC1 gene was associated with a significant decreased gastric cancer risk (OR=0.70, 95% CI: 0.64–0.76). The association was significant in both anatomic location and pathological subtype subgroup analyses. However, the association was detected in Asian rather than Caucasian. Our findings demonstrate that the presence of the G allele at rs4072037 of the MUC1 gene may contribute to protection against gastric cancer in Asian. Further large studies of multiethnic groups are needed to validate these findings.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-599) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4198476  PMID: 25332893
MUC1; Polymorphism; Genetic; Stomach neoplasms; Meta-analysis
24.  Simultaneous Deletion of p21Cip1/Waf1 and Caspase-3 Accelerates Proliferation and Partially Rescues the Differentiation Defects of Caspase-3 Deficient Hematopoietic Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109266.
Specialized blood cells are generated through the entire life of an organism by differentiation of a small number of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). There are strictly regulated mechanisms assuring a constant and controlled production of mature blood cells. Although such mechanisms are not completely understood, some factors regulating cell cycle and differentiation have been identified. We have previously shown that Caspase-3 is an important regulator of HSC homeostasis and cytokine responsiveness. p21cip1/waf1 is a known cell cycle regulator, however its role in stem cell homeostasis seems to be limited. Several reports indicate interactions between p21cip1/waf1 and Caspase-3 in a cell type dependent manner. Here we studied the impact of simultaneous depletion of both factors on HSC homeostasis. Depletion of both Caspase-3 and p21cip1/waf1 resulted in an even more pronounced increase in the frequency of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. In addition, simultaneous deletion of both genes revealed a further increase of cell proliferation compared to single knock-outs and WT control mice, while apoptosis or self-renewal ability were not affected in any of the genotypes. Upon transplantation, p21cip1/waf1-/- bone marrow did not reveal significant alterations in engraftment of lethally irradiated mice, while Caspase-3 deficient HSPC displayed a significant reduction of blood cell production. However, when both p21cip1/waf1 and Caspase-3 were eliminated this differentiation defect caused by Caspase-3 deficiency was abrogated.
PMCID: PMC4186822  PMID: 25286245
25.  Gene Knockout of 5-Lipoxygenase Rescues Synaptic Dysfunction and Improves Memory in the Triple-Transgenic Model of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Molecular psychiatry  2013;19(4):511-518.
The 5-Lipoxygenase (5LO) is upregulated in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and in vivo modulates the amyloidotic phenotype of APP transgenic mice. However, no data are available on the effects that 5LO has on synaptic function, integrity and cognition. To address this issue we used a genetic and a pharmacologic approach by generating 3xTg mice deficient for 5LO, and administering 3xTg mice which a 5LO inhibitor. Compared with controls, we found that even before the development of overt neuropathology, both animals manifested significant memory improvement, rescue of their synaptic dysfunction and amelioration of synaptic integrity. In addition, later in life these mice had a significant reduction of Aβ and tau pathology.
Our findings support a novel functional role for 5LO in regulating synaptic plasticity and memory. They establish this proetin as a pleiotropic contributor to the development of the full spectrum of the AD phenotype, making it a valid therapeutic target for the treatment of AD.
PMCID: PMC3688674  PMID: 23478745

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