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1.  Genes Underlying Positive Influence of Prenatal Environmental Enrichment and Negative Influence of Prenatal Earthquake Simulation and Corrective Influence of Chinese Herbal Medicine on Rat Offspring: Irf7 and Ninj2 
Prenatal environmental enrichment (EE) has been proven to positively affect but prenatal stress negatively influence the physiological and psychological processes in animals, whose trans-generational genetic mechanism remains unclearly defined. We aimed to investigate and find out key genes underlying the positive-negative effects derived from prenatal interventions.
Materials and Methods
Pregnant rats were randomized into EE group (EEG), earthquake simulation group (ESG), herbal group (HG) received herbal supplements in feed after earthquake simulation, and control group (CG).
Light Box Defecation Test (LBDT) showed EEG offspring presented less fecal pellets than CG offspring, ESG's more than CG's, and HG's less than ESG (p's<0.05). Open-field Test (OFT) score of EEG was higher than CG offspring, of ESG's was lower than CG's, and HG's higher than ESG's. Irf7 and Ninj were screened, which were up-regulated in EEG, down-regulated in ESG (FC<0.5), and were neutralized in HG. Prenatal EE could positively promote the nervous system development, prenatal earthquake simulation could retard the nervous system development and Chinese herbal remedy (JKSQW) which could correct the retardation.
The negative-positive prenatal effect could contribute to altered gene expression of Irf7 and Ninj2 which also could play a key role in the improving function of JKSQW for the kidneys.
PMCID: PMC4202648  PMID: 25435624
Prenatal stress; Earthquake simulation; Light Box Defecation Test; Open-field Test; Irf7; Ninj2
2.  Specific targeting of A54 homing peptide-functionalized dextran-g-poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) micelles to tumor cells 
The delivery of chemotherapeutics into tumor cells is a fundamental knot for tumor-target therapy to improve the curative effect and avoid side effects. Here, A54 peptide-functionalized poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)-grafted dextran (A54-Dex-PLGA) was synthesized. The synthesized A54-Dex-PLGA self-assembled to form micelles with a low critical micelle concentration of 16.79 μg·mL−1 and diameter of about 50 nm. With doxorubicin (DOX) base as a model antitumor drug, the drug-encapsulation efficiency of DOX-loaded A54-Dex-PLGA micelles (A54-Dex-PLGA/DOX) reached up to 75%. In vitro DOX release from the A54-Dex-PLGA/DOX was prolonged to 72 hours. The A54-Dex-PLGA micelles presented excellent internalization ability into hepatoma cells (BEL-7402 cell line and HepG2 cell line) in vitro, and the cellular uptake of the micelles by the BEL-7402 cell line was specific, which was demonstrated by the blocking experiment. In vitro antitumor activity studies confirmed that A54-Dex-PLGA/DOX micelles suppressed tumor-cell (BEL-7402 cell) growth more effectively than Dex-PLGA micelles. Furthermore, in vivo biodistribution testing demonstrated that the A54-Dex-PLGA micelles had a higher distribution ability to BEL-7402 tumors than that to HepG2 tumors.
PMCID: PMC4303462  PMID: 25653517
homing peptide; polymeric micelles; doxorubicin; tumor-cell targeting
4.  p38 MAPK-inhibited dendritic cells induce superior antitumor immune responses and overcome regulatory T cell-mediated immunosuppression 
Nature communications  2014;5:4229.
Dendritic cell (DC)-based cancer immunotherapy is a promising method but so far has demonstrated limited clinical benefits. Regulatory T cells (Treg) represent a major obstacle to cancer immunotherapy approaches. Here we show that inhibiting p38 MAPK during DC differentiation enables DCs to activate tumor-specific effector T cells (Teff), inhibiting the conversion of Treg and compromising Treg inhibitory effects on Teff. Inhibition of p38 MAPK in DCs lowers expression of PPARγ, activating p50 and upregulation of OX40L expression in DCs. OX40L/OX40 interactions between DCs and Teff and/or Treg are critical for priming effective and therapeutic antitumor responses. Similarly, p38 MAPK inhibition also augments the T cell-stimulatory capacity of human monocyte-derived DCs in the presence of Treg. These findings contribute to ongoing efforts to improve DC-based immunotherapy in human cancers.
PMCID: PMC4249595  PMID: 24957461
5.  Prevalence and Spectrum of PITX2c Mutations Associated with Congenital Heart Disease 
DNA and Cell Biology  2013;32(12):708-716.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common form of birth defect and is the leading noninfectious cause of infant death. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that genetic risk factors are involved in the pathogenesis of CHD. However, CHD is a genetically heterogeneous disease and the genetic defects underlying CHD in an overwhelming majority of patients remain unclear. In this study, the whole coding region and splice junction sites of the PITX2c gene, which encodes variant 3 of paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 2 crucial for normal cardiovascular morphogenesis, were sequenced in 382 unrelated patients with CHD, and 2 novel heterozygous mutations, p.W147X and p.N153D, were identified in 2 unrelated patients with CHD, respectively, including a 1-year-old male patient with double outlet right ventricle in combination with ventricular septal defect and a 4-year-old female patient with ventricular septal defect. The mutations were absent in 400 control chromosomes and were both predicted to be disease-causing by MutationTaster. Multiple alignments of PITX2c proteins across species displayed that the altered amino acids were completely conserved evolutionarily. Functional analysis revealed that the mutated PITX2c proteins were associated with a significantly reduced transactivational activity compared with their wild-type counterpart. These findings provide a novel insight into the molecular mechanisms implicated in CHD, suggesting potential implications for the antenatal prophylaxis and allele-specific treatment of CHD.
PMCID: PMC3864367  PMID: 24083357
6.  Generation of a novel therapeutic peptide that depletes MDSC in tumor-bearing mice 
Nature medicine  2014;20(6):676-681.
Cancer immune evasion is an emerging hallmark of disease progression. Functional studies to understand the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) in the tumor microenvironment however, are limited by the lack of available specific cell surface markers. We adapted a competitive peptide phage display platform to identify candidate peptides binding MDSC specifically and generated peptide-Fc fusion proteins (peptibody). In multiple tumor models peptibody injection iv completely depleted blood, splenic, and intratumoral MDSC in tumor-bearing mice, without affecting proinflammatory immune cell types, such as dendritic cells. While control Gr-1 antibody depleted primarily granulocytic MDSC, peptibodies depleted both granulocytic and monocytic subsets. Remarkably, peptibody treatment was associated with inhibition of tumor growth in vivo, which was superior to Gr-1. Immunoprecipitation of MDSC membrane proteins identified S100 family proteins as candidate targets. Our strategy may be useful to identify novel diagnostic and therapeutic surface targets on rare cell subtypes, including human MDSC.
PMCID: PMC4048321  PMID: 24859530
7.  Complementary Interactions between Command-Like Interneurons that Function to Activate and Specify Motor Programs 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(19):6510-6521.
Motor activity is often initiated by a population of command-like interneurons. Command-like interneurons that reliably drive programs have received the most attention, so little is known about how less reliable command-like interneurons may contribute to program generation. We study two electrically coupled interneurons, cerebral-buccal interneuron-2 (CBI-2) and CBI-11, which activate feeding motor programs in the mollusk Aplysia californica. Earlier work indicated that, in rested preparations, CBI-2, a powerful activator of programs, can trigger ingestive and egestive programs. CBI-2 reliably generated ingestive patterns only when it was repeatedly stimulated. The ability of CBI-2 to trigger motor activity has been attributed to the two program-promoting peptides it contains, FCAP and CP2. Here, we show that CBI-11 differs from CBI-2 in that it contains FCAP but not CP2. Furthermore, it is weak in its ability to drive programs. On its own, CBI-11 is therefore less effective as a program activator. When it is successful, however, CBI-11 is an effective specifier of motor activity; that is, it drives mostly ingestive programs. Importantly, we found that CBI-2 and CBI-11 complement each other's actions. First, prestimulation of CBI-2 enhanced the ability of CBI-11 to drive programs. This effect appears to be partly mediated by CP2. Second, coactivation of CBI-11 with CBI-2 makes CBI-2 programs immediately ingestive. This effect may be mediated by specific actions that CBI-11 exerts on pattern-generating interneurons. Therefore, different classes of command-like neurons in a motor network may make distinct, but potentially complementary, contributions as either activators or specifiers of motor activity.
PMCID: PMC4012310  PMID: 24806677
Aplysia; central pattern generator; command neurons; electrical coupling; feeding; population coding
8.  Novel phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor NVP-BKM120 induces apoptosis in myeloma cells and shows synergistic anti-myeloma activity with dexamethasone 
NVP-BKM120 is a novel phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor and is currently being investigated in phase I clinical trials in solid tumors. This study aimed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of BKM120 in multiple myeloma (MM). BKM120 induces cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in both MM cell lines and freshly isolated primary MM cells. However, BKM120 only shows limited cytotoxicity toward normal lymphocytes. The presence of MM bone marrow stromal cells, insulin-like growth factor, or interleukin-6 does not affect BKM120-induced tumor cell apoptosis. More importantly, BKM120 treatment significantly inhibits tumor growth in vivo and prolongs the survival of myeloma-bearing mice. In addition, BKM120 shows synergistic cytotoxicity with dexamethasone in dexamethasone-sensitive MM cells. Low doses of BKM120 and dexamethasone, each of which alone has limited cytotoxicity, induce significant cell apoptosis in MM.1S and ARP-1. Mechanistic study shows that BKM120 exposure causes cell cycle arrest by upregulating p27 (Kip1) and downregulating cyclin D1 and induces caspase-dependent apoptosis by downregulating antiapoptotic XIAP and upregulating expression of cytotoxic small isoform of Bim, BimS. In summary, our findings demonstrate the in vitro and in vivo anti-MM activity of BKM120 and suggest that BKM120 alone or together with other MM chemotherapeutics, particularly dexamethasone, may be a promising treatment for MM.
PMCID: PMC4212830  PMID: 22207485
Multiple myeloma; PI3K; BKM120; Apoptosis; Chemotherapy
9.  Toll-Like Receptor-4 Signaling in Mantle Cell Lymphoma: Effects on Tumor Growth and Immune Evasion 
Cancer  2012;119(4):782-791.
Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is an incurable B-cell malignancy with the poorest prognosis among B-cell lymphoma patients. The signal pathways that trigger MCL escape from immune surveillance are unclear. As Toll-like receptors (TLRs) initiate innate and adaptive immune responses against invading pathogens, we investigated the impact of TLR signaling in MCL cells.
We examined TLR expression on MCL cell lines and primary tumor cells from patients. We focused on TLR4 and its ligand lipopolysacharide (LPS) on MCL cells and their function on MCL proliferation and immune evasion.
MCL cells expressed multiple TLRs and TLR4 was among the highest-expressed molecules. Activation of TLR4 signaling in MCL cells by LPS induced MCL proliferation, and upregulated the secretion of cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). LPS-pretreated MCL cells inhibited the proliferation and cytolytic activity of T cells by secreted IL-10 and VEGF, and neutralizing antibodies against these cytokines restored their functions. Similar results were also observed in TLR4+MyD88+ but not in TLR4+MyD88− primary lymphoma cells from MCL patients. Knockdown of TLR4 on MCL cells abrogated the effect of LPS on MCLs in term of cell growth or secretion of the cytokines, and evasion of the immune system.
Our study indicates that TLR4 signaling triggers a cascade leading to MCL growth and evasion from the immune surveillance. Thus, TLR4 signaling molecules could be novel therapeutic targets for cancer therapy in MCL.
PMCID: PMC4211879  PMID: 22915070
Mantle cell lymphoma; Toll-like receptor-4; Lipopolysacharide; Cytotoxic T lymphocytes; Immune evasion
10.  PLK1 and β-TrCP-Dependent Ubiquitination and Degradation of Rap1GAP Controls Cell Proliferation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110296.
Rap1GAP is a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) that specifically stimulates the GTP hydrolysis of Rap1 GTPase. Although Rap1GAP is recognized as a tumor suppressor gene and downregulated in various cancers, little is known regarding the regulation of Rap1GAP ubiquitination and degradation under physiological conditions. Here, we demonstrated that Rap1GAP is ubiquitinated and degraded through proteasome pathway in mitosis. Proteolysis of Rap1GAP requires the PLK1 kinase and β-TrCP ubiquitin ligase complex. We revealed that PLK1 interacts with Rap1GAP in vivo through recognition of an SSP motif within Rap1GAP. PLK1 phosphorylates Ser525 in conserved 524DSGHVS529 degron of Rap1GAP and promotes its interaction with β-TrCP. We also showed that Rap1GAP was a cell cycle regulator and that tight regulation of the Rap1GAP degradation in mitosis is required for cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC4201484  PMID: 25329897
11.  Genetic variants in STAT4 and HLA-DQ genes confer risk of hepatitis B virus–related hepatocellular carcinoma 
Nature genetics  2012;45(1):72-75.
To identify genetic susceptibility loci for hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the Chinese population, we carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 2,514 chronic HBV carriers (1,161 HCC cases and 1,353 controls) followed by a 2-stage validation among 6 independent populations of chronic HBV carriers (4,319 cases and 4,966 controls). The joint analyses showed that HCC risk was significantly associated with two independent loci: rs7574865 at STAT4, Pmeta = 2.48 × 10−10, odds ratio (OR) = 1.21; and rs9275319 at HLA-DQ, Pmeta = 2.72 × 10−17, OR = 1.49. The risk allele G at rs7574865 was significantly associated with lower mRNA levels of STAT4 in both the HCC tissues and nontumor tissues of 155 individuals with HBV-related HCC (Ptrend = 0.0008 and 0.0002, respectively). We also found significantly lower mRNA expression of STAT4 in HCC tumor tissues compared with paired adjacent nontumor tissues (P = 2.33 × 10−14).
PMCID: PMC4105840  PMID: 23242368
12.  USP18 is crucial for IFN-γ-mediated inhibition of B16 melanoma tumorigenesis and antitumor immunity 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:132.
Interferon (IFN)-γ-mediated immune response plays an important role in tumor immunosurveillance. However, the regulation of IFN-γ-mediated tumorigenesis and immune response remains elusive. USP18, an interferon stimulating response element, regulates IFN-α-mediated signaling in anti-viral immune response, but its role in IFN-γ-mediated tumorigenesis and anti-tumor immune response is unknown.
In this study, USP18 in tumorigenesis and anti-tumor immune response was comprehensively appraised in vivo by overexpression or downregulation its expression in murine B16 melanoma tumor model in immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice.
Ectopic expression or downregulation of USP18 in B16 melanoma tumor cells inhibited or promoted tumorigenesis, respectively, in immunocompetent mice. USP18 expression in B16 melanoma tumor cells regulated IFN-γ-mediated immunoediting, including upregulating MHC class-I expression, reducing tumor cell-mediated inhibition of T cell proliferation and activation, and suppressing PD-1 expression in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in tumor-bearing mice. USP18 expression in B16 melanoma tumor cells also enhanced CTL activity during adoptive immunotherapy by prolonging the persistence and enhancing the activity of adoptively transferred CTLs and by reducing CTL exhaustion in the tumor microenvironment. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that USP18 suppressed tumor cell-mediated immune inhibition by activating T cells, inhibiting T-cell exhaustion, and reducing dendritic cell tolerance, thus sensitizing tumor cells to immunosurveillance and immunotherapy.
These findings suggest that stimulating USP18 is a feasible approach to induce B16 melanoma specific immune response.
PMCID: PMC4057584  PMID: 24884733
USP18; Immunosurveillance; Immunotherapy
13.  Anticancer Tc9 cells 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e28542.
IL-9-producing cytotoxic T (Tc9) cells represent a unique CD8+ T-cell subset. These long-lived immune cells possess the capacity to acquire effector function and home to tumor tissues after adoptive transfer. IL-9 is indispensable for Tc9-mediated superior antitumor response. These findings are highly significant and crucial to achieve advances in T cell-based adoptive therapies.
PMCID: PMC4092006  PMID: 25054087
IL-9; Tc9 cells; cancer adoptive cell therapy; effector cell conversion; exhaustion
14.  Tandem alternative polyadenylation events of genes in non-eosinophilic nasal polyp tissue identified by high-throughput sequencing analysis 
Nasal polyps (NP) is highly associated with the disorder of immune cells. Alternative polyadenylation (APA) produces mRNA isoforms with different length of 3′-untranslated region (UTR) and regulates gene expression. It has been proven that this APA-mediated regulation of 3′UTR length is an immune-associated phenomenon. The aim of this study was to investigate the genome-wide alternative tandem 3′UTR length switching events in non-eosinophilic nasal polyp tissue. Thirteen patients diagnosed as having non-eosinophilic nasal polyps were included in this study. Nasal polyp tissue and control mucosa were collected during surgery. The 3′ end library of cDNA was constructed. The recovered libraries were sequenced with second sequencing technology, and the sequencing data were analyzed by an in-house bioinformatics pipeline. Tandem 3′UTR length switching between samples was detected by a test of linear trend alternative to independence. We found a significant alteration in the tandem 3′UTR length in 1,920 genes in nasal polyp samples. Functional annotation results showed that several gene ontology (GO) terms were enriched in the list of genes with switched APA sites, including regulation of transcription, macromolecule catabolic localization and mRNA processing. The results suggested that APA-mediated alternative 3′UTR regulation plays an important role in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in non-eosinophilic nasal polyps.
PMCID: PMC4055440  PMID: 24715051
chronic rhinosinusitis; nasal polyps; alternative polyadenylation site; 3′ untranslated region
15.  PITX2C loss-of-function mutations responsible for idiopathic atrial fibrillation 
Clinics  2014;69(1):15-22.
This study aimed to identify novel PITX2c mutations responsible for idiopathic atrial fibrillation.
A cohort of 210 unrelated patients with idiopathic atrial fibrillation and 200 unrelated, ethnically matched healthy individuals used as controls were recruited. The whole coding exons and splice junctions of the PITX2c gene, which encodes a paired-like homeobox transcription factor required for normal cardiovascular morphogenesis, were sequenced in 210 patients and 200 control subjects. The causative potentials of the identified mutations were automatically predicted by MutationTaster and PolyPhen-2. The functional characteristics of the PITX2c mutations were explored using a dual-luciferase reporter assay system.
Two novel heterozygous PITX2c mutations (p.Q105L and p.R122C) were identified in 2 of the 210 unrelated patients with idiopathic atrial fibrillation. These missense mutations were absent in the 400 control chromosomes and were both predicted to be pathogenic. Multiple alignments of PITX2c protein sequences across various species showed that the altered amino acids were highly evolutionarily conserved. A functional analysis demonstrated that the mutant PITX2c proteins were both associated with significantly reduced transcriptional activity compared with their wild-type counterparts.
The findings of this study associate PITX2c loss-of-function mutations with atrial fibrillation, supporting the hypothesis that dysfunctional PITX2c confers enhanced susceptibility to atrial fibrillation and suggesting potential implications for early prophylaxis and allele-specific therapy for this common arrhythmia.
PMCID: PMC3870307  PMID: 24473555
Atrial Fibrillation; Transcriptional Factor; PITX2c; Genetics; Reporter Gene
16.  Mutational Spectrum of the NKX2-5 Gene in Patients with Lone Atrial Fibrillation 
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common form of sustained cardiac arrhythmia in humans and is responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. Emerging evidence indicates that abnormal cardiovascular development is involved in the pathogenesis of AF. In this study, the coding exons and splice sites of the NKX2-5 gene, which encodes a homeodomain-containing transcription factor essential for cardiovascular genesis, were sequenced in 146 unrelated patients with lone AF as well as the available relatives of the mutation carriers. A total of 700 unrelated ethnically matched healthy individuals used as controls were genotyped. The disease-causing potential of the identified NKX2-5 variations was predicted by MutationTaster and PolyPhen-2. The functional characteristics of the mutant NKX2-5 proteins were analyzed using a dual-luciferase reporter assay system. As a result, two heterozygous NKX2-5 mutations, including a previously reported p.E21Q and a novel p.T180A mutation, were identified in two families with AF transmitted in an autosomal dominant pattern. The mutations co-segregated with AF in the families with complete penetrance. The detected substitutions, which altered the amino acids highly conserved evolutionarily across species, were absent in 700 control individuals and were both predicted to be causative. Functional analyses demonstrated that the NKX2-5 mutants were associated with significantly decreased transcriptional activity compared with their wild-type counterpart. The findings expand the spectrum of NKX2-5 mutations linked to AF and provide additional evidence that dysfunctional NKX2-5 may confer vulnerability to AF, suggesting the potential benefit for the early prophylaxis and personalized treatment of AF.
PMCID: PMC4003540  PMID: 24782644
Atrial fibrillation; Transcription factor; NKX2-5; Molecular genetics; Mutation.
17.  Mutation spectrum of GATA4 associated with congenital atrial septal defects 
Congenital atrial septal defect (ASD) is the second commonest form of cardiac developmental anomaly, responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality in affected individuals. Previous studies have implicated genetic defects in the pathogenesis of ASD. However, ASD is largely a genetically heterogeneous disease and the genetic determinants for ASD in the majority of patients remain to be identified.
Material and methods
The entire coding region of GATA4, a gene encoding a zinc-finger transcription factor essential for normal cardiac morphogenesis, was sequenced in 220 unrelated patients with ASD. The available relatives of the patients harboring the identified mutations and 200 unrelated ethnicity-matched control individuals were genotyped.
Four heterozygous missense GATA4 mutations, p.P36S, p.H190R, p.S262A, and p.V399G, were identified in four unrelated patients with ASD, respectively. These mutations were neither detected in 200 control individuals nor described in the human SNP database. Alignment of multiple GATA4 protein sequences across species indicated that the affected amino acids were highly conserved evolutionarily. Genetic analysis of the available relatives of the mutation carriers showed that in each family the mutation co-segregated with ASD.
The findings expand the spectrum of mutations in GATA4 linked to ASD and provide new insight into the molecular etiology associated with ASD, suggesting the potential implications for the genetic diagnosis and gene-specific therapy for this prevalent cardiovascular abnormality in humans.
PMCID: PMC3902718  PMID: 24482639
atrial septal defect; transcription factor; genetics
18.  p38 MAPK in myeloma cells regulates osteoclast and osteoblast activity and induces bone destruction 
Cancer research  2012;72(24):6393-6402.
p38 MAPK which is constitutively activated in human myeloma has been implicated in bone destruction by this cancer, but the processes it recruits are obscure. In this study, we demonstrate that p38 activity in myeloma inhibits osteoblast differentiation and bone formation but also enhances osteoclast maturation and bone resorption. p38 regulated the expression and secretion of the Wnt pathway antagonist DKK-1 and the monocyte chemoattractant MCP-1. Attenuating p38, DKK-1 or MCP-1 were each sufficient to reduce bone lesions in vivo. Although it is well known that DKK-1 inhibits osteoblast differentiation, we found that together with MCP-1 it could also promote osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption. The latter effects were mediated by enhancing expression of RANK in osteoclast progenitor cells and by upregulating secretion of its ligand RANKL from stromal cells and mature osteoblasts. In summary, our study defined the mechanisms by which p38 signaling in myeloma cells regulates osteoblastogenesis, osteoclastogenesis, and bone destruction. Our findings, which may have implications for bone invasion by other cancers where p38 is elevated, strongly suggests that targeting p38 for inhibition might offer an effective therapeutic approach to treat osteolytic bone lesions in myeloma patients.
PMCID: PMC3525770  PMID: 23066034
19.  Bone Marrow Stromal Cells Derived MCP-1 Reverses the Inhibitory Effects of Multiple Myeloma Cells on Osteoclastogenesis by Upregulating the RANK Expression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82453.
Multiple myeloma (MM) cells are responsible for aberrant osteoclast (OC) activation. However, when cocultured monocytes, but not OC precursors, with MM cells, we made a novel observation that MM cells inhibited receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL)-induced increase of OC differentiation, OC gene expression, signaling pathways and bone resorption activity. Our results showed that MM cells produced multiple inhibitory cytokines of osteoclastogenesis, such as IL-10, which activated STAT3 signaling and induce OC inhibition. However, cocultures of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) reversed MM-induced OC inhibition. We found that MM cells increased production of MCP-1 from BMSCs and BMSC-derived MCP-1 enhanced OC formation. Mechanistic studies showed that IL-10 downregulated RANK expression in monocytes and thus, inhibited RANKL-induced OC formation. In contrast, MCP-1 upregulated RANK expression and thus, enhanced OC formation. Overall, our studies for the first time demonstrated that MM cell have inhibitory effects on osteoclastogenesis by producing inhibitory cytokines. Our results further indicate that activation of osteoclastogenesis in bone marrow requests the crosstalk of MM cells, BMSCs and their produced cytokines. Thus, our studies provide evidences that targeting bone marrow microenvironmental cells and/or cytokines may be a new approach to treating MM bone destruction.
PMCID: PMC3858321  PMID: 24340030
20.  Gallic Acid Induces the Apoptosis of Human Osteosarcoma Cells In Vitro and In Vivo via the Regulation of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Pathways 
To examine the antitumor effects of gallic acid (GA) on osteosarcoma, two human osteosarcoma cell lines U-2OS and MNNG/HOS were treated by GA and subjected to cell proliferation and apoptosis assays. In addition, MNNG/HOS xenograft tumors were established in nude BALB/c mice to evaluate the anticancer capacity of GA in vivo. The results showed that GA inhibited the proliferation and induced the apoptosis of osteosarcoma cells, accompanied by the upregulation of p-38 activation and the downregulation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK1/2) activation. Additionally, p38 MAPK inhibitor abrogated GA-induced growth inhibition of osteosarcoma cells, whereas JNK or ERK1/2 inhibitors sensitized osteosarcoma cells to GA-induced growth inhibition. In vivo studies further showed that GA administration decreased xenograft tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. Immunohistochemistry analysis demonstrated the downregulation of PCNA and CD31 expression and upregulation of apoptosis in MNNG/HOS tumor tissues following GA treatment. This study demonstrates the antitumor efficacy of GA for osteosarcoma that is mediated by the modulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis, and angiogenesis. Our findings suggest that GA could be a potent agent for osteosarcoma intervention.
PMCID: PMC3516425  PMID: 22849560
Apoptosis; Caspase; Gallic acid; MAPK kinases; Osteosarcoma
21.  Novel GATA6 Mutations Associated with Congenital Ventricular Septal Defect or Tetralogy of Fallot 
DNA and Cell Biology  2012;31(11):1610-1617.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common form of developmental malformation and is the leading noninfectious cause of infant mortality. Emerging evidence indicates that genetic defects are involved in the pathogenesis of CHD. Nevertheless, CHD is genetically heterogeneous, and the molecular basis for CHD in a majority of patients remains unknown. In this study, the whole coding region of GATA6, a gene encoding a zinc-finger transcription factor crucial for normal cardiogenesis, was sequenced in 380 unrelated patients with CHD. The relatives of the index patients harboring the identified mutations and 200 unrelated control individuals were subsequently genotyped. The functional effect of the mutations was characterized using a luciferase reporter assay system. As a result, two novel heterozygous GATA6 mutations, p.D404Y and p.E460X, were identified in two families with ventricular septal defect and tetralogy of Fallot, respectively. The mutations co-segregated with CHD in the families with complete penetrance, and were absent in 400 control chromosomes. Functional analysis demonstrated that the mutated GATA6 proteins were associated with significantly decreased transactivational activity in comparison with their wild-type counterpart. These findings provide novel insight into the molecular mechanism implicated in CHD, suggesting potential implications for the early prophylaxis and personalized treatment of CHD.
The transcription factor GATA6 is a zinc finger DNA-binding protein that has been shown to be essential for cardiac development. In this article, two novel heterologous polymorphisms were associated with two cardiac malformations in families.
PMCID: PMC3482375  PMID: 23020118
22.  Preparation and characterization of tetrandrine-phospholipid complex loaded lipid nanocapsules as potential oral carriers 
Tetrandrine is an active constituent that is extracted from the root tuber of the Chinese herb Stephania tetrandra S. Moore. It has shown various pharmacological effects, such as antitumor activity, multidrug resistance reversal, and hepatic fibrosis resistance. In clinical applications, it has been used to treat hypertension, pneumosilicosis, and lung cancer. However, the poor water solubility of tetrandrine has limited its application. In this study, a newly emerging oral drug carrier of phospholipid complex loaded lipid nanocapsules was developed to improve the oral bioavailability of tetrandrine.
The phospholipid complex was prepared with the solvent-evaporation method to enhance the liposolubility of tetrandrine. The formation of the phospholipid complex was confirmed with a solubility study, infrared spectroscopy, and a differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) analysis. The tetrandrine-phospholipid complex loaded lipid nanocapsules (TPC-LNCs) were prepared using the phase inversion method. Lyophilization was performed with mannitol (10%) as a cryoprotectant. TPC-LNCs were characterized according to their particle size, zeta potential, encapsulation efficiency, morphology by transmission electron microscopy, and crystallinity by DSC. In addition, the in vitro release of tetrandrine from TPC-LNCs was examined to potentially illustrate the in vivo release behavior. The in vivo bioavailability of TPC-LNCs was studied and compared to tetrandrine tablets in rats.
The liposolubility of tetrandrine in n-octanol improved from 8.34 μg/mL to 35.64 μg/mL in the tetrandrine-phospholipid complex. The prepared TPC-LNCs were spherical-shaped particles with a small size of 40 nm and a high encapsulation efficiency of 93.9%. DSC measurements revealed that the crystalline state was less ordered in lipid nanocapsules. The in vitro release study demonstrated a fast release of approximately 25% in the first 1 hour, which was followed by a sustained release of 70% over 12 hours. The relative bioavailability of TPC-LNCs compared to that of tablets was 208%, indicating a significant improvement in the oral absorption of tetrandrine.
The TPC-LNCs system developed in this study is a promising carrier that improves the oral bioavailability of tetrandrine in rats. The phospholipid complex loaded lipid nanocapsules have great potential for use as an oral drug delivery system for moderately lipophilic drugs that are encapsulated in the lipid nanocapsules.
PMCID: PMC3817030  PMID: 24204145
tetrandrine; phospholipid complex; lipid nanocapsules; oral bioavailability; enhanced liposolubility
23.  CpG or IFN-α are more potent adjuvants than GM-CSF to promote anti-tumor immunity following idiotype vaccine in multiple myeloma 
Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII  2011;61(4):10.1007/s00262-011-1123-2.
Idiotype (Id) protein in combination with GM-CSF has been used as vaccines for immunotherapy of patients with myeloma and B-cell tumors and the results have been disappointing. To search for better immune adjuvants to improve the efficacy of Id-based immunotherapy in myeloma, we evaluated and compared the efficacy of vaccination of Id protein in combination with CpG or IFN-α, or GM-CSF as a control, in the 5TGM1 myeloma mouse model. Our results showed that Id vaccine combined with CpG or IFN-α, but not GM-CSF, not only efficiently protected mice from developing myeloma but also eradicated established myeloma. The therapeutic responses were associated with an induction of strong humoral immune responses including anti-Id antibodies, and cellular immune responses including Id- and myeloma-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), CD4+ type-1 T-helper (Th1) cells and memory T cells in mice receiving Id vaccine combined with CpG or IFN-α. Furthermore, Id vaccine combined with CpG or IFN-α induced Id- and tumor-specific memory immune responses that protected surviving mice from tumor rechallenge. Thus, our study clearly shows that CpG or IFN-α are better immune adjuvants than GM-CSF. This information will be important for improving the strategies of Id-based immunotherapy for patients with myeloma and other B-cell tumors.
PMCID: PMC3810206  PMID: 22002243
Multiple myeloma; Idiotype; Adjuvants; Vaccination; Immunotherapy
24.  Effect of admission time on mortality in an intensive care unit in Mainland China: a propensity score matching analysis 
Critical Care  2013;17(5):R230.
The relationship between admission time and intensive care unit (ICU) mortality is inconclusive and influenced by various factors. This study aims to estimate the effect of admission time on ICU outcomes in a tertiary teaching hospital in China by propensity score matching (PSM) and stratified analysis.
A total of 2,891 consecutive patients were enrolled in this study from 1 January 2009 to 29 December 2011. Multivariate logistic regression and survival analysis were performed in this retrospective study. PSM and stratified analysis were applied for confounding factors, such as Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) score and admission types.
Compared with office hour subgroup (n = 2,716), nighttime (NT, n = 175) subgroup had higher APACHE II scores (14 vs. 8, P < 0.001), prolonged length of stay in the ICU (42 vs. 24 h, P = 0.011), and higher percentages of medical (8.6% vs. 3.3%, P < 0.001) and emergency (59.4% vs. 12.2%, P < 0.001) patients. Moreover, NT admissions were related to higher ICU mortality [odds ratio (OR), 1.725 (95% CI 1.118–2.744), P = 0.01] and elevated mortality risk at 28 days [14.3% vs. 3.2%; OR, 1.920 (95% CI 1.171–3.150), P = 0.01]. PSM showed that admission time remained related to ICU outcome (P = 0.045) and mortality risk at 28 days [OR, 2.187 (95% CI 1.119–4.271), P = 0.022]. However, no mortality difference was found between weekend and workday admissions (P = 0.849), even if weekend admissions were more related to higher APACHE II scores compared with workday admissions.
NT admission was associated with poor ICU outcomes. This finding may be related to shortage of onsite intensivists and qualified residents during NT. The current staffing model and training system should be improved in the future.
PMCID: PMC4055975  PMID: 24112558
25.  Association of angiotensin-converting enzyme gene I/D and CYP11B2 gene −344T/C polymorphisms with lone atrial fibrillation and its recurrence after catheter ablation 
The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) plays a key role in atrial structural and electrical remodeling. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential associations of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) gene insertion/ deletion (I/D) and aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) gene −344T/C polymorphisms with the risk and recurrence of lone atrial fibrillation (AF). One hundred and ninety-three patients who underwent successful catheter ablation for lone AF were recruited. Two hundred and ninety-seven sinus rhythm subjects without a history of arrhythmia served as controls. The subjects were genotyped for ACE gene I/D and CYP11B2 gene −344T/C polymorphisms. Results showed that the ACE gene DD genotype and D allele were associated with a greater prevalence of lone AF (both P<0.01). In addition, the ACE gene DD genotype had a significantly larger left atrial dimension (LAD; 41.6±5.7 mm vs. 39.6±5.2 mm; P=0.043) and higher risk of AF recurrence [44.7% vs. 23.2%; odds ratio (OR), 2.68; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.28–5.61; P=0.008] compared with the II+ID genotype in lone AF patients. After adjustment for a variety of risk factors, the ACE gene DD genotype had a 1.97-fold increased risk for lone AF (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.15–3.37; P= 0.013) and 2.35-fold increased risk for AF recurrence (RR, 2.35; 95% CI, 1.10–5.04; P=0.028) compared with the ACE gene II+ID genotype. However, no correlation between the CYP11B2 gene −344T/C polymorphism and lone AF or its recurrence was observed in this cohort. In conclusion, the ACE gene DD genotype was associated with an increased incidence of lone AF and its recurrence following ablation, which was partly mediated by LAD.
PMCID: PMC3501435  PMID: 23170137
angiotensin-converting enzyme gene; CYP11B2; lone atrial fibrillation; recurrence; polymorphisms

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