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1.  Effects of perhexiline-induced fuel switch on the cardiac proteome and metabolome 
Perhexiline is a potent anti-anginal drug used for treatment of refractory angina and other forms of heart disease. It provides an oxygen sparing effect in the myocardium by creating a switch from fatty acid to glucose metabolism through partial inhibition of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 and 2. However, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying the cardioprotective effects elicited by perhexiline are not fully understood. The present study employed a combined proteomics, metabolomics and computational approach to characterise changes in murine hearts upon treatment with perhexiline. According to results based on difference in-gel electrophoresis, the most profound change in the cardiac proteome related to the activation of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Metabolomic analysis by high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed lower levels of total creatine and taurine in hearts of perhexiline-treated mice. Creatine and taurine levels were also significantly correlated in a cross-correlation analysis of all metabolites. Computational modelling suggested that far from inducing a simple shift from fatty acid to glucose oxidation, perhexiline may cause complex rebalancing of carbon and nucleotide phosphate fluxes, fuelled by increased lactate and amino acid uptake, to increase metabolic flexibility and to maintain cardiac output. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Focus on Cardiac Metabolism".
Graphical abstract
► Mice were fed perhexiline to achieve steady state concentrations. ► Hearts were analysed using a combined proteomic and metabolomic approach. ► Computer modelling was used to cross-validate the findings. ► Perhexiline has more wide-ranging and complex metabolic effects than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3573230  PMID: 23277191
CPT, carnitine palmitoyltransferase; DIGE, difference in-gel electrophoresis; FCS, foetal calf serum; FDR, false discovery rate; GO, Gene ontology; 1H NMR, proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; LC-MS/MS, liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry; TCA, tricarboxylic acid; Metabolomics; Proteomics; Cardioprotection; Metabolism; Heart failure
2.  Novel Role of ADAMTS-5 Protein in Proteoglycan Turnover and Lipoprotein Retention in Atherosclerosis* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(23):19341-19345.
Background: In atherosclerosis, proteoglycan accumulation results in increased lipoprotein retention.
Results: ADAMTS-5 is reduced in aortas of apolipoprotein E-null mice. ADAMTS-5 deficiency impairs processing of vascular proteoglycans, and ADAMTS-5 activity affects proteoglycan-mediated lipoprotein retention.
Conclusion: ADAMTS-5 regulates vascular proteoglycan catabolism and alters lipoprotein retention.
Significance: This is the first study implicating ADAMTS-5 proteolytic activity in atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is initiated by the retention of lipoproteins on proteoglycans in the arterial intima. However, the mechanisms leading to proteoglycan accumulation and lipoprotein retention are poorly understood. In this study, we set out to investigate the role of ADAMTS-5 (a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs-5) in the vasculature. ADAMTS-5 was markedly reduced in atherosclerotic aortas of apolipoprotein E-null (apoE−/−) mice. The reduction of ADAMTS-5 was accompanied by accumulation of biglycan and versican, the major lipoprotein-binding proteoglycans, in atherosclerosis. ADAMTS-5 activity induced the release of ADAMTS-specific versican (DPEAAE441) and aggrecan (374ALGS) fragments as well as biglycan and link protein from the aortic wall. Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) inhibited ADAMTS-5 expression in isolated aortic smooth muscle cells and blocked the spontaneous release of ADAMTS-generated versican and aggrecan fragments from aortic explants. In aortas of ADAMTS-5-deficient mice, DPEAAE441 versican neoepitopes were not detectable. Instead, biglycan levels were increased, highlighting the role of ADAMTS-5 in the catabolism of vascular proteoglycans. Importantly, ADAMTS-5 proteolytic activity reduced the LDL binding ability of biglycan and released LDL from human aortic lesions. This study provides the first evidence implicating ADAMTS-5 in the regulation of proteoglycan turnover and lipoprotein retention in atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3365970  PMID: 22493487
Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular Disease; Extracellular Matrix; Lipoprotein; Protease; Proteoglycan; ADAMTS-5
3.  Proteomics Analysis of the Cardiac Myofilament Subproteome Reveals Dynamic Alterations in Phosphatase Subunit Distribution* 
Myofilament proteins are responsible for cardiac contraction. The myofilament subproteome, however, has not been comprehensively analyzed thus far. In the present study, cardiomyocytes were isolated from rodent hearts and stimulated with endothelin-1 and isoproterenol, potent inducers of myofilament protein phosphorylation. Subsequently, cardiomyocytes were “skinned,” and the myofilament subproteome was analyzed using a high mass accuracy ion trap tandem mass spectrometer (LTQ Orbitrap XL) equipped with electron transfer dissociation. As expected, a small number of myofilament proteins constituted the majority of the total protein mass with several known phosphorylation sites confirmed by electron transfer dissociation. More than 600 additional proteins were identified in the cardiac myofilament subproteome, including kinases and phosphatase subunits. The proteomic comparison of myofilaments from control and treated cardiomyocytes suggested that isoproterenol treatment altered the subcellular localization of protein phosphatase 2A regulatory subunit B56α. Immunoblot analysis of myocyte fractions confirmed that β-adrenergic stimulation by isoproterenol decreased the B56α content of the myofilament fraction in the absence of significant changes for the myosin phosphatase target subunit isoforms 1 and 2 (MYPT1 and MYPT2). Furthermore, immunolabeling and confocal microscopy revealed the spatial redistribution of these proteins with a loss of B56α from Z-disc and M-band regions but increased association of MYPT1/2 with A-band regions of the sarcomere following β-adrenergic stimulation. In summary, we present the first comprehensive proteomics data set of skinned cardiomyocytes and demonstrate the potential of proteomics to unravel dynamic changes in protein composition that may contribute to the neurohormonal regulation of myofilament contraction.
PMCID: PMC2849712  PMID: 20037178
4.  Antifactor Xa activity in critically ill patients receiving antithrombotic prophylaxis with standard dosages of certoparin: a prospective, clinical study 
Critical Care  2005;9(5):R541-R548.
Deep venous thrombosis with subsequent pulmonary embolism or post-thrombotic syndrome is a feared complication in the intensive care unit. Therefore, routine prophylactic anticoagulation is widely recommended. Aside from unfractionated heparin, low molecular weight heparins, such as certoparin, have become increasingly used for prophylactic anticoagulation in critically ill patients. In this prospective study, we evaluated the potency of 3,000 IU certoparin administered once daily to reach antithrombotic antifactor Xa (aFXa) levels of 0.1 to 0.3 IU/ml in 62 critically ill patients.
AFXa levels were determined 4, 12 and 24 h after injection of certoparin. Prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time, antithrombin, fibrinogen, hemoglobin, platelet count, serum urea and creatinine concentrations were documented before and 12 and 24 h after injection of certoparin.
Four hours after certoparin injection (n = 32), 28% of patients were within the antithrombotic aFXa range. After 12 and 24 h, 6% achieved antithrombotic aFXa levels. Because of a severe pulmonary embolism in one study patient, an interim analysis was performed, and the dosage of certoparin was increased to 3,000 IU twice daily. This regime attained recommended antithrombotic aFXa levels in 47%, 27%, 40% and 30% of patients at 4, 12, 16 and 24 h, respectively, after twice daily certoparin injection (n = 30). Antithrombin and fibrinogen concentrations slightly increased during the observation period. Low antithrombin concentrations before certoparin were independently correlated with underdosing of certoparin. Patients with aFXa levels <0.1 IU/ml 4 h after certoparin injection required vasopressors more often and had lower serum concentrations of creatinine and urea than patients with antithrombotic aFXa levels.
Standard dosages of certoparin of 3,000 IU given once or twice daily are ineffective for attaining the recommended aFXa levels of 0.1 to 0.3 IU/ml in critically ill patients. Low antithrombin levels before certoparin administration were independently associated with low aFXa levels. Renal function and vasopressor therapy may further influence the effectiveness of certoparin in ensuring adequate antithrombotic prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC1297619  PMID: 16277716
5.  Exacerbated vein graft arteriosclerosis in protein kinase Cδ–null mice 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2001;108(10):1505-1512.
Smooth muscle cell (SMC) accumulation is a key event in the development of atherosclerosis, including vein bypass graft arteriosclerosis. Because members of the protein kinase C (PKC) family signal cells to undergo proliferation, differentiation, or apoptosis, we generated PKCδ knockout mice and performed vein bypass grafts on these animals. PKCδ–/– mice developed normally and were fertile. Vein segments from PKCδ–/– mice isografted to carotid arteries of recipient mice of either genotype led to a more severe arteriosclerosis than was seen with PKCδ+/+ vein grafts. Arteriosclerotic lesions in PKCδ–/– mice showed a significantly higher number of SMCs than were found in wild-type animals; this was correlated with decreased SMC death in lesions of PKCδ–/– mice. SMCs derived from PKCδ–/– aortae were resistant to cell death induced by any of several stimuli, but they were similar to wild-type SMCs with respect to mitogen-stimulated cell proliferation in vitro. Furthermore, pro-apoptotic treatments led to diminished caspase-3 activation, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, and cytochrome c release in PKCδ–/– relative to wild-type SMCs, suggesting that their apoptotic resistance involves the loss of free radical generation and mitochondrial dysfunction in response to stress stimuli. Our data indicate that PKCδ maintains SMC homeostasis and that its function in the vessel wall per se is crucial in the development of vein graft arteriosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC209416  PMID: 11714742
6.  Freebies 
PMCID: PMC2306017  PMID: 21289744
7.  The Cancer Associated FGFR4-G388R Polymorphism Enhances Pancreatic Insulin Secretion and Modifies the Risk of Diabetes 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(6):929-940.
The fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4)-R388 single nucleotide polymorphism has been associated with cancer risk and prognosis. Here we show that the FGFR4-R388 allele yields a receptor variant which preferentially promotes STAT3/5 signaling. This STAT activation induces Grb14 transcription in pancreatic endocrine cells to modulate insulin receptor (IR) signaling and enhance insulin secretion. Knock-in mice with the FGFR4 variant allele develop pancreatic islets that secrete more insulin, a feature that is reversed through Grb14 deletion. We also show in humans that the FGFR4-R388 allele enhances islet function and may protect against type 2 diabetes. These data support a common genetic link between cancer and hyperinsulinemia.
PMCID: PMC4005358  PMID: 23747250
FGF receptors; FGFR4; Grb14; insulin receptor; diabetes; breast cancer
8.  Maleimide-functionalised platinum(IV) complexes as a synthetic platform for targeted drug delivery† 
Maleimide-functionalised Pt(IV) complexes with highly selective binding properties to thiol groups were synthesised as precursors for binding of thiol-containing tumour-targeting molecules like human serum albumin.
PMCID: PMC4021452  PMID: 23396381
9.  Bi-Directional X-Ray Phase-Contrast Mammography 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e93502.
Phase-contrast x-ray imaging is a promising improvement of conventional absorption-based mammography for early tumor detection. This potential has been demonstrated recently, utilizing structured gratings to obtain differential phase and dark-field scattering images. However, the inherently anisotropic imaging sensitivity of the proposed mono-directional approach yields only insufficient diagnostic information, and has low diagnostic sensitivity to highly oriented structures. To overcome these limitations, we present a two-directional x-ray phase-contrast mammography approach and demonstrate its advantages by applying it to a freshly dissected, cancerous mastectomy breast specimen. We illustrate that the two-directional scanning procedure overcomes the insufficient diagnostic value of a single scan, and reliably detects tumor structures, independently from their orientation within the breast. Our results indicate the indispensable diagnostic necessity and benefit of a multi-directional approach for x-ray phase-contrast mammography.
PMCID: PMC4019485  PMID: 24824594
10.  Visualizing Typical Features of Breast Fibroadenomas Using Phase-Contrast CT: An Ex-Vivo Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97101.
Fibroadenoma is the most common benign solid breast lesion type and a very common cause for histologic assessment. To justify a conservative therapy, a highly specific discrimination between fibroadenomas and other breast lesions is crucial. Phase-contrast imaging offers improved soft-tissue contrast and differentiability of fine structures combined with the potential of 3-dimensional imaging. In this study we assessed the potential of grating-based phase-contrast CT imaging for visualizing diagnostically relevant features of fibroadenomas.
Materials and Methods
Grating-based phase-contrast CT was performed on six ex-vivo formalin-fixed breast specimens containing a fibroadenoma and three samples containing benign changes that resemble fibroadenomas using Talbot Lau interferometry and a polychromatic X-ray source. Phase-contrast and simultaneously acquired absorption-based 3D-datasets were manually matched with corresponding histological slices. The visibility of diagnostically valuable features was assessed in comparison with histology as the gold-standard.
In all cases, matching of grating-based phase-contrast CT images and histology was successfully completed. Grating-based phase-contrast CT showed greatly improved differentiation of fine structures and provided accurate depiction of strands of fibrous tissue within the fibroadenomas as well as of the diagnostically valuable dilated, branched ductuli of the fibroadenomas. A clear demarcation of tumor boundaries in all cases was provided by phase- but not absorption-contrast CT.
Pending successful translation of the technology to a clinical setting and considerable reduction of the required dose, the data presented here suggest that grating-based phase-contrast CT may be used as a supplementary non-invasive diagnostic tool in breast diagnostics. Phase-contrast CT may thus contribute to the reduction of false positive findings and reduce the recall and core biopsy rate in population-based screening. Phase-contrast CT may further be used to assist during histopathological workup, offering a 3D view of the tumor and helping to identify diagnostically valuable tissue sections within large tumors.
PMCID: PMC4019647  PMID: 24824169
11.  Safe performance of magnetic resonance of the heart in patients with magnetic resonance conditional pacemaker systems: the safety issue of the ESTIMATE study 
No published data exist about the safety of diagnostic magnetic resonance (MR) of the heart performed in a larger series of patients implanted with MR conditional pacemakers (PM). The purpose of our study is to analyse safety and potential alterations of electrical lead parameters in patients implanted with the EnRhythm/Advisa MRI SureScan PM with 5086MRI leads (Medtronic Inc.) during and after MR of the heart at 1.5 Tesla.
Patients enrolled in this single center pilot study who underwent non-clinically indicated diagnostic MR of the heart were included in this analysis. Heart MR was performed for analyses of potential changes in right and left ventricular functional parameters under right ventricular pacing at 80 and 110 bpm. Atrial/ventricular sensing, atrial/ventricular pacing capture threshold [PCT], and pacing impedances were assessed immediately before, during, and immediately after MR, as well at 3 and 15 months post MR.
Thirty-six patients (mean age 69 ± 13 years; high degree AV block 18 [50%]) underwent MR of the heart. No MR related adverse events occurred during MR or thereafter. Ventricular sensing differed significantly between the FU immediately after MR (10.3 ± 5.3 mV) and the baseline FU (9.8 ± 5.3 mV; p < 0.05). Despite PCT [V/0.4ms] was not significantly different between the FUs (baseline: 0.84 ± 0.27; in-between MR scans: 0.82 ± 0.27; immediately after MR: 0.84 ± 0.24; 3-month: 0.85 ± 0.23; 15-month: 0.90 ± 0.67; p = ns), 7 patients (19%) showed PCT increases by 100% (max. PCT measured: 1.0 V) at the 3-month FU compared to baseline. RV pacing impedance [Ω/5V] differed significantly at the FU in-between MR scans (516 ± 47), and at the 15-month FU (482 ± 58) compared to baseline (508 ± 75).
The results of our study suggest MR of the heart to be safe in patients with the MR conditional EnRhythm/Advisa system, albeit although noticeable but clinically irrelevant ventricular PCT changes were observed.
PMCID: PMC4026122  PMID: 24886167
Permanent pacemaker; MR conditional; Magnet resonance; Heart MR; Complications
12.  Cardiac fibroblast–derived microRNA passenger strand-enriched exosomes mediate cardiomyocyte hypertrophy 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(5):2136-2146.
In response to stress, the heart undergoes extensive cardiac remodeling that results in cardiac fibrosis and pathological growth of cardiomyocytes (hypertrophy), which contribute to heart failure. Alterations in microRNA (miRNA) levels are associated with dysfunctional gene expression profiles associated with many cardiovascular disease conditions; however, miRNAs have emerged recently as paracrine signaling mediators. Thus, we investigated a potential paracrine miRNA crosstalk between cardiac fibroblasts and cardiomyocytes and found that cardiac fibroblasts secrete miRNA-enriched exosomes. Surprisingly, evaluation of the miRNA content of cardiac fibroblast–derived exosomes revealed a relatively high abundance of many miRNA passenger strands (“star” miRNAs), which normally undergo intracellular degradation. Using confocal imaging and coculture assays, we identified fibroblast exosomal–derived miR-21_3p (miR-21*) as a potent paracrine-acting RNA molecule that induces cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Proteome profiling identified sorbin and SH3 domain-containing protein 2 (SORBS2) and PDZ and LIM domain 5 (PDLIM5) as miR-21* targets, and silencing SORBS2 or PDLIM5 in cardiomyocytes induced hypertrophy. Pharmacological inhibition of miR-21* in a mouse model of Ang II–induced cardiac hypertrophy attenuated pathology. These findings demonstrate that cardiac fibroblasts secrete star miRNA–enriched exosomes and identify fibroblast-derived miR-21* as a paracrine signaling mediator of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy that has potential as a therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC4001534  PMID: 24743145
13.  Plasma-assisted synthesis and high-resolution characterization of anisotropic elemental and bimetallic core–shell magnetic nanoparticles 
Magnetically anisotropic as well as magnetic core–shell nanoparticles (CS-NPs) with controllable properties are highly desirable in a broad range of applications. With this background, a setup for the synthesis of heterostructured magnetic core–shell nanoparticles, which relies on (optionally pulsed) DC plasma gas condensation has been developed. We demonstrate the synthesis of elemental nickel nanoparticles with highly tunable sizes and shapes and Ni@Cu CS-NPs with an average shell thickness of 10 nm as determined with scanning electron microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy measurements. An analytical model that relies on classical kinetic gas theory is used to describe the deposition of Cu shell atoms on top of existing Ni cores. Its predictive power and possible implications for the growth of heterostructured NP in gas condensation processes are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3999878  PMID: 24778973
bimetallic magnetic nanoparticle; core–shell; magnetron sputtering; plasma gas condensation
14.  Competitiveness across the Life Span: The Feisty Fifties 
Psychology and aging  2011;27(2):278-285.
Existing theories on life-span changes in confidence or motivation suggest that individuals’ preferences to enter competitive situations should gradually decline with age. We examined competitive preferences in a field experiment using real financial stakes in 25 to 75 year olds (N=543). The critical dependent variable was whether participants chose to perform a simple mental arithmetic task either under a piece-rate payment schedule (i.e., $.25 per solved item) or a competitive payment schedule ($.50 per solved item if the overall score is better than that of a randomly selected opponent, $0 otherwise). Results revealed that competitive preferences increased across the life span until they peaked around age 50, and dropped thereafter. We also found that throughout, men had a substantially larger preference for competing than women—extending previous findings on college-aged participants. The age/gender differences in preferences were neither accounted for by actual differences in performance nor individuals’ subjective confidence. This first systematic attempt to characterize age differences in competitive behavior suggests that a simple decline conception of competitiveness needs to be reconsidered.
PMCID: PMC3969030  PMID: 22059714
15.  Frequencies and Specificities of “Enzyme-Only” Detected Erythrocyte Alloantibodies in Patients Hospitalized in Austria: Is an Enzyme Test Required for Routine Red Blood Cell Antibody Screening? 
Journal of Blood Transfusion  2014;2014:532919.
The aim of this study was to determine the frequencies and specificities of “enzyme-only” detected red blood cell (RBC) alloantibodies in the routine antibody screening and antibody identification in patients hospitalized in Austria. Routine blood samples of 2420 patients were investigated. The antibody screening was performed with a 3-cell panel in the low-ionic strength saline- (LISS-) indirect antiglobulin test (IAT) and with an enzyme-pretreated (papain) 3-cell panel fully automated on the ORTHO AutoVue Innova System. The antibody identification was carried out manually with an 11-cell panel in the LISS-IAT and with an enzyme-pretreated (papain) 11-cell panel. In total 4.05% (n = 98) of all patients (n = 2420) had a positive RBC antibody screening result. Of them 25.51% (25/98) showed “enzyme-only” detected specific or nonspecific RBC alloantibodies. Rhesus and Lewis system antibodies were found the only specificities of “enzyme-only” RBC alloantibodies: all in all 4.8% (4/98) were detected with anti-E, 3.06% (3/98) with anti-Lea, 3.06% (3/98) with anti-D after anti-D prophylaxis and 1.02% (1/98) with anti-e. In total, 14.29% (14/98) showed a nonspecific RBC alloantibody result with the enzyme test. The results of the present study demonstrate that a high number of unwanted positive reactions with the enzyme technique overshadows the detection of “enzyme-only” RBC alloantibodies. (Trial Registration: K-37-13).
PMCID: PMC3984838  PMID: 24790773
16.  From data gathering to systems medicine 
Cardiovascular Research  2013;97(4):599-600.
PMCID: PMC3583261  PMID: 23386274
17.  Executive Dysfunction Assessed with a Task-Switching Task following Concussion 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91379.
Concussion frequently results in executive function deficits that can be specifically probed using task-switching tasks. The current study examined in detail the influence of concussion on task switching performance using both spatial and numerical stimuli. Individuals with concussion (n = 16) were tested within 48 hours of injury and 7, 14, and 28 days later. Healthy sex-, age-, height-, weight- and activity-matched controls (n = 16) were also tested at the same intervals. Switch costs were significantly greater in the participants with concussion than in the controls for both types of stimuli. By contrast, the global costs on non-switching trials were unaffected by concussion. We conclude that concussion has pronounced negative effects on the ability to switch task sets that generalize across task combinations (spatial or numerical) and that persist across at least a month after injury.
PMCID: PMC3950211  PMID: 24618717
18.  Relation of plasma adiponectin levels and aortic stiffness after acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction 
Pulse wave velocity is a measure of aortic stiffness and an independent predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Adiponectin is involved in atherosclerosis and inflammation. In the present study we aimed to explore the association between plasma adiponectin concentrations and pulse wave velocity in the acute phase after ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).
Forty-six consecutive STEMI patients (mean age 57±11 years) treated with primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. Plasma adiponectin was measured 2 days after index event by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) was calculated by the transit-time method with the use of a velocity-encoded, phase-contrast cardiac magnetic resonance protocol.
Median plasma adiponectin concentration was 2385 ng/ml (interquartile range 1735–5403). Males had lower plasma adiponectin values than females and current smokers had lower values than non-smokers (all p<0.02). Adiponectin was significantly associated with PWV (r=0.505, p<0.001), age (r=0.437, p=0.002), and total cholesterol (r=0.468, p=0.001). Multiple linear regression analysis revealed adiponectin as a predictor of PWV independently of age, sex, smoking status, total cholesterol, and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (p=0.027).
Plasma adiponectin concentrations are strongly associated with aortic stiffness in patients after acute STEMI treated with primary PCI. Our data support a possible role for adiponectin as an independent risk marker for increased aortic stiffness in STEMI patients.
PMCID: PMC3932779  PMID: 24337918
Adiponectin; aortic stiffness; cardiac magnetic resonance; pulse wave velocity; ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction
19.  Infection Rate and Acute Organ Dysfunction Risk as Explanations for Racial Differences in Severe Sepsis 
Severe sepsis, defined as infection complicated by acute organ dysfunction, occurs more frequently and leads to more deaths in black than in white individuals. The optimal approach to minimize these disparities is unclear.
To determine the extent to which higher severe sepsis rates in black than in white patients are due to higher infection rates or to a higher risk of acute organ dysfunction.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Analysis of infection-related hospitalizations from the 2005 hospital discharge data of 7 US states and infection-related emergency department visits from the 2003-2007 National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey.
Main Outcome Measure
Age- and sex-standardized severe sepsis and infection hospitalization rates and the risk of acute organ dysfunction.
Of 8 661 227 non–childbirth-related discharges, 2 261 857 were associated with an infection, and of these, 381 787 (16.8%) had severe sepsis. Black patients had a 67% higher age- and sex-standardized severe sepsis rate than did white patients (9.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 9.3-9.5 vs 5.6; 95% CI, 5.6-5.6 per 1000 population; P<.001) and 80% higher standardized mortality (1.8, 95% CI, 1.8-1.9 vs 1.0, 95% CI, 1.0-1.1 per 1000 population; P<.001). The higher severe sepsis rate was explained by both a higher infection rate in black patients (47.3; 95% CI, 47.1-47.4 vs 34.0; 95% CI, 33.9-34.0 per 1000 population; incidence rate ratio, 1.39; P<.001) and a higher risk of developing acute organ dysfunction (age- and sex-adjusted odds ratio [OR],1.29; 95% CI, 1.27-1.30; P<.001). Differences in infection presented broadly across different sites and etiology of infection and for community- and hospital-acquired infections and occurred despite a lower likelihood of being admitted for infection from the emergency department (adjusted OR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.64-0.76; P<.001). The higher risk of organ dysfunction persisted but was attenuated after adjusting for age, sex, comorbid conditions, poverty, and hospital effect (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.13-1.16; P<.001). Racial disparities in infection and severe sepsis incidence and mortality rates were largest among younger adults (eg, the proportion of invasive pneumococcal disease occurring in adults <65 years was 73.9% among black patients vs 44.5% among white patients, P<.001).
Racial differences in severe sepsis are explained by both a higher infection rate and a higher risk of acute organ dysfunction in black than in white individuals.
PMCID: PMC3910506  PMID: 20571016
20.  Rapidly Progressive Lupus Nephritis with Extremely High Levels of Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibodies 
A 43-year-old woman, with a 3-month history of fatigue, anaemia and swollen lymph nodes, underwent biopsy of a lymph node, which revealed reactive lymphadenopathy. Due to an increased serum creatinine concentration and severe proteinuria, a kidney biopsy was performed, which revealed diffuse, segmental, proliferative, immune-complex glomerulonephritis with crescents. Electron microscopy showed tubulo-reticular structures within one endothelial cell. These were a typical clinical presentation and compatible histopathological findings for systemic lupus erythematosus; however, the anti-myeloperoxidase antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (MPO-ANCA) level was extraordinarily high. In spite of treatment with intravenous cyclophosphamide and methylprednisolone pulse therapy, the patient's kidney function declined. Starting plasma exchange improved her renal function and removed MPO-ANCAs, which were suspected to play the major role in the pathogenesis of glomerulonephritis. These findings indicate that in addition to lupus nephritis, MPO-ANCAs may be involved in the pathogenesis of glomerulonephritis and that the coincidence of systemic lupus erythematosus and ANCA may be responsible for the severe clinical course in our patient.
PMCID: PMC3934786  PMID: 24575116
Lupus nephritis; MPO-ANCA; Plasma exchange
21.  Effects of paracentesis on hemodynamic parameters and respiratory function in critically ill patients 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14:18.
Ascites is a major and common complication of liver cirrhosis. Large or refractory ascites frequently necessitates paracentesis. The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of paracentesis on hemodynamic and respiratory parameters in critically ill patients.
Observational study comparing hemodynamic and respiratory parameters before and after paracentesis in 50 critically ill patients with advanced hemodynamic monitoring. 28/50 (56%) required mechanical ventilation.
Descriptive statistics are presented as mean ± standard deviation for normally distributed data and median, range, and interquartile range (IQR) for non-normally distributed data. Comparisons of hemodynamic and respiratory parameters before and after paracentesis were performed by Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Bivariate relations were assessed by Spearman’s correlation coefficient and univariate regression analyses.
Median amount of ascites removed was 5.99 L (IQR, 3.33-7.68 L). There were no statistically significant changes in hemodynamic parameters except a decrease in mean arterial pressure (-7 mm Hg; p = 0.041) and in systemic vascular resistance index (-116 dyne·sec/cm5/m2; p = 0.016) when measured 2 hours after paracentesis. In all patients, oxygenation ratio (PaO2/FiO2; median, 220 mmHg; IQR, 161–329 mmHg) increased significantly when measured immediately (+58 mmHg; p = 0.001), 2 hours (+9 mmHg; p = 0.004), and 6 hours (+6 mmHg); p = 0.050) after paracentesis. In mechanically ventilated patients, lung injury score (cumulative points without x-ray; median, 6; IQR, 4–7) significantly improved immediately (5; IQR, 4–6; p < 0.001), 2 hours (5; IQR, 4–7; p = 0.003), and 6 hours (6; IQR 4–6; p = 0.012) after paracentesis.
Paracentesis in critically ill patients is safe regarding circulatory function and is related to immediate and sustained improvement of respiratory function.
PMCID: PMC3906760  PMID: 24467993
Ascites; Dynamic respiratory system compliance; Hemodynamics; Transpulmonary thermodilution; Hemodynamic monitoring
22.  Boosting the Concordance Index for Survival Data – A Unified Framework To Derive and Evaluate Biomarker Combinations 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84483.
The development of molecular signatures for the prediction of time-to-event outcomes is a methodologically challenging task in bioinformatics and biostatistics. Although there are numerous approaches for the derivation of marker combinations and their evaluation, the underlying methodology often suffers from the problem that different optimization criteria are mixed during the feature selection, estimation and evaluation steps. This might result in marker combinations that are suboptimal regarding the evaluation criterion of interest. To address this issue, we propose a unified framework to derive and evaluate biomarker combinations. Our approach is based on the concordance index for time-to-event data, which is a non-parametric measure to quantify the discriminatory power of a prediction rule. Specifically, we propose a gradient boosting algorithm that results in linear biomarker combinations that are optimal with respect to a smoothed version of the concordance index. We investigate the performance of our algorithm in a large-scale simulation study and in two molecular data sets for the prediction of survival in breast cancer patients. Our numerical results show that the new approach is not only methodologically sound but can also lead to a higher discriminatory power than traditional approaches for the derivation of gene signatures.
PMCID: PMC3882229  PMID: 24400093
23.  Immunosuppressive Glycodelin A is an independent marker for poor prognosis in endometrial cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:616.
Knowledge on immunosuppressive factors in the pathogenesis of endometrial cancer is scarce. The aim of this study was to assess Glycodelin (Gd) and its immunosuppressive isoform Glycodelin A (GdA) in endometrial cancer tissue and to analyze its impact on clinical and pathological features and patient outcome.
292 patients diagnosed and treated for endometrial cancer were included. Patient characteristics, histology and follow-up data were available. Gd and GdA was determined by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization was performed for Gd mRNA.
Endometrial cancer shows intermediate (52.2%) or high (20.6%) expression for Gd in 72.8%, and GdA in 71.6% (intermediate 62.6%, high 9.0%) of all cases. The glycosylation dependent staining of GdA is tumour specific and correlates with the peptide-specific Gd staining though neither of the two is associated with estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor or clinic-pathological features. Also Gd protein positively correlates with Gd mRNA as quantified by in situ hybridization. Gd positive cases have a favourable prognosis (p = 0.039), while GdA positive patients have a poor outcome (p = 0.003). Cox-regression analysis proofed GdA to be an independent prognostic marker for patient survival (p = 0.002), besides tumour stage, grade and the concomitant diagnosis of hypertension.
Gd and GdA are commonly expressed in endometrial cancer tissue and seem to be of relevance in tumourigenesis. They differ not only in glycosylation but also in their biological activity, since only GdA holds prognostic significance for a poor overall survival in endometrial cancer patients. This finding might be explained by GdAs immunosuppressive capacity.
PMCID: PMC3898404  PMID: 24377825
Endometrial cancer; Glycodelin; Glycodelin A; Immunohistochemistry; In situ hybridization; Prognosis
24.  Epidemiology of severe sepsis 
Virulence  2013;5(1):4-11.
Severe sepsis is a leading cause of death in the United States and the most common cause of death among critically ill patients in non-coronary intensive care units (ICU). Respiratory tract infections, particularly pneumonia, are the most common site of infection, and associated with the highest mortality. The type of organism causing severe sepsis is an important determinant of outcome, and gram-positive organisms as a cause of sepsis have increased in frequency over time and are now more common than gram-negative infections.
Recent studies suggest that acute infections worsen pre-existing chronic diseases or result in new chronic diseases, leading to poor long-term outcomes in acute illness survivors. People of older age, male gender, black race, and preexisting chronic health conditions are particularly prone to develop severe sepsis; hence prevention strategies should be targeted at these vulnerable populations in future studies.
PMCID: PMC3916382  PMID: 24335434
severe sepsis; epidemiology; risk factors; infection; organ dysfunction
25.  The EndoPredict score provides prognostic information on late distant metastases in ER+/HER2− breast cancer patients 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(12):2959-2964.
ER+/HER2− breast cancers have a proclivity for late recurrence. A personalised estimate of relapse risk after 5 years of endocrine treatment can improve patient selection for extended hormonal therapy.
A total of 1702 postmenopausal ER+/HER2− breast cancer patients from two adjuvant phase III trials (ABCSG6, ABCSG8) treated with 5 years of endocrine therapy participated in this study. The multigene test EndoPredict (EP) and the EPclin score (which combines EP with tumour size and nodal status) were predefined in independent training cohorts. All patients were retrospectively assigned to risk categories based on gene expression and on clinical parameters. The primary end point was distant metastasis (DM). Kaplan–Meier method and Cox regression analysis were used in an early (0–5 years) and late time interval (>5 years post diagnosis).
EP is a significant, independent, prognostic parameter in the early and late time interval. The expression levels of proliferative and ER signalling genes contribute differentially to the underlying biology of early and late DM. The EPclin stratified 64% of patients at risk after 5 years into a low-risk subgroup with an absolute 1.8% of late DM at 10 years of follow-up.
The EP test provides additional prognostic information for the identification of early and late DM beyond what can be achieved by combining the commonly used clinical parameters. The EPclin reliably identified a subgroup of patients who have an excellent long-term prognosis after 5 years of endocrine therapy. The side effects of extended therapy should be weighed against this projected outcome.
PMCID: PMC3859949  PMID: 24157828
EndoPredict; endocrine therapy; late relapse

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