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1.  Squamous dysplasia – the precursor lesion for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) accounts for 80% of all esophageal cancers worldwide, and esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD) is the only histopathology that predicts the development of ESCC. The prevalence of ESD parallels rates of invasive ESCC, and is typically found in 25% or more of adults above the age of 35 years in populations in north central China, where risk for ESCC is among the highest in the world. Results of chemoprevention and early detection studies to prevent progression of ESD suggest that these approaches, coupled with emerging endoscopic therapies, offer promise for the prevention of esophageal cancer mortality in high-risk populations. Future research on ESD and ESCC should focus on finding additional modifiable risk factors and on identifying biomarkers to incorporate into early detection strategies.
PMCID: PMC3681095  PMID: 23549398
2.  Optical Imaging of Periostin Enables Early Endoscopic Detection and Characterization of Esophageal Cancer in Mice 
Gastroenterology  2012;144(2):294-297.
Imaging strategies that detect early-stage esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) could improve clinical outcomes, combined with endoscopic approaches. Periostin is an integrin-binding protein that is important in the tumor microenvironment. We created a fluorescent-labeled antibody that recognizes periostin and binds specifically to ESCC xenograft tumors in mice. In L2-cre;p120ctnLoxP/LoxP mice, which develop squamous cell cancers that resemble human ESCC, we visualized the probe in preneoplastic and neoplastic esophageal lesions using near-infrared fluorescent imaging with upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Periostin might be a biomarker of the esophageal tumor microenvironment that can be used to detect preneoplastic lesions.
PMCID: PMC3624041  PMID: 23085486
mouse model; neoplasm; extracellular matrix; POSTN
3.  Interleukin-6 limits influenza-induced inflammation and protects against fatal lung pathology 
European journal of immunology  2013;43(10):10.1002/eji.201243018.
Balancing the generation of immune responses capable of controlling virus replication with those causing immunopathology is critical for the survival of the host and resolution of influenza-induced inflammation. Based on the capacity of interleukin-6 (IL-6) to govern both optimal T-cell responses and inflammatory resolution, we hypothesised that IL-6 plays an important role in maintaining this balance. Comparison of innate and adaptive immune responses in influenza-infected wild-type control and IL-6 deficient mice revealed striking differences in virus clearance, lung immunopathology and generation of heterosubtypic immunity. Mice lacking IL-6 displayed a profound defect in their ability to mount an anti-viral T-cell response. Failure to adequately control virus was further associated with an enhanced infiltration of inflammatory monocytes into the lung and an elevated production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IFN-α and TNF-α. These events were associated with severe lung damage, characterised by profound vascular leakage, and death. Our data highlight an essential role for IL-6 in orchestrating anti-viral immunity through an ability to limit inflammation, promote protective adaptive immune responses and prevent fatal immunopathology.
PMCID: PMC3886386  PMID: 23857287
Adaptive Immunity; Heterosubtypic Immunity; IL-6; Innate Immunity; Pulmonary Damage
4.  Prospective Study of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration and Mortality in a Chinese Population 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(11):1043-1050.
Prospective epidemiologic data on the association between vitamin D and mortality are limited, particularly in Asian populations. Among subjects in Linxian, China, the authors aimed to test whether baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations in a prospective cohort were associated with all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality rates over 24 years of follow-up (1986–2010). Serum 25(OH)D concentrations were measured in 1,101 subjects using an immunoassay. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using Cox regression models that were adjusted for age, sex, tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, and hypertension. The 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile concentrations of 25(OH)D were 19.6, 31.9, and 48.4 nmol/L, respectively. During follow-up, 793 subjects died, including 279 who died of cerebrovascular accident, 217 who died of cancer, and 200 cardiovascular disease deaths. All-cause mortality was not associated with 25(OH)D concentrations using continuous models (for every 15 nmol/L, hazard ratio = 1.01, 95% confidence interval: 0.97, 1.05) or quartile models (fourth vs. first quartiles, hazard ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval: 0.87, 1.30; P for trend = 0.731). The authors also found no association with the cause-specific mortality outcomes. Results were similar for men and women. This study showed that prediagnostic serum 25(OH)D concentrations were not associated with all-cause or cause-specific mortality rates in this Chinese population who had low levels of vitamin D.
PMCID: PMC3571239  PMID: 23139250
cancer; cardiovascular diseases; China; mortality; vitamin D
5.  Distinct bone marrow-derived and tissue resident macrophage-lineages proliferate at key stages during inflammation 
Nature communications  2013;4:10.1038/ncomms2877.
The general paradigm is that monocytes are recruited to sites of inflammation and terminally-differentiate into macrophages. There has been no demonstration of proliferation of peripherally-derived inflammatory macrophages under physiological conditions. Here we show that proliferation of both bone marrow-derived inflammatory and tissue resident macrophage lineage branches is a key feature of the inflammatory process with major implications for the mechanisms underlying recovery from inflammation. Both macrophage lineage branches are dependent on M-CSF during inflammation, and thus the potential for therapeutic interventions is marked. Furthermore, these observations are independent of Th2 immunity. These studies indicate that the proliferation of distinct macrophage populations provides a general mechanism for macrophage expansion at key stages during inflammation, and separate control mechanisms are implicated.
PMCID: PMC3842019  PMID: 23695680
6.  Iron in Relation to Gastric Cancer in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study 
Iron is an essential micronutrient that can have carcinogenic effects when at high or low concentrations. Previous studies of iron in relation to gastric cancer have not assessed subtype-specific relationships. We used the prospective ATBC Cancer Prevention Study to assess whether iron metrics were associated with gastric cardia cancer (GCC) and gastric noncardia cancer (GNCC).
We selected 341 incident gastric cancer cases (86 cardia, 172 noncardia, and 83 non-specified), accrued during 22 years of follow-up, and 341 individually matched controls. We measured prediagnostic serum iron, ferritin, unsaturated iron binding capacity (UIBC), and C-reactive protein. Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and transferrin saturation were estimated from these metrics. Dietary iron exposures were estimated from a food frequency questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression was used for analysis.
Serum iron metrics were not associated with GCC, except for a potential ‘n’-shaped relationship with TIBC (global p=0.038). GNCC was inversely associated with serum ferritin (global p=0.024), serum iron (global p=0.060) and, possibly, transferrin saturation. TIBC appeared to share a ‘u’shaped relationship with GNCC (global p=0.033). Dietary iron exposures were not associated with either subsite. Adjustment for Helicobacter pylori and gastric atrophy had little effect on observed associations.
We found little evidence for the involvement of iron exposure in the pathogenesis of GCC. GNCC was associated with an iron profile similar to that of iron deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3493744  PMID: 23001240
Helicobacter pylori; Iron; Nested Case-Control Studies; Prospective Studies; Stomach Neoplasms
7.  Validation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma candidate genes from high-throughput transcriptomic studies 
In a recent study, a unique gene expression signature was observed when comparing esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) epithelial cells to normal esophageal epithelial cells using laser capture microdissection (LCM) and cDNA microarray technology. To validate the expression of several intriguing genes from that study (KRT17, cornulin, CD44, and EpCAM), we employed two new technologies, expression microdissection (xMD) for high-throughput microdissection facilitating protein analysis and RNAscope for the evaluation of low abundant transcripts in situ. For protein measurements, xMD technology was utilized to specifically procure sufficient tumor and normal epithelium from frozen human tissue for immunoblot analysis of KRT17 (CK17) and cornulin. A novel in situ hybridization method (RNAscope) was used to determine the transcript level of two relatively low expressed genes, CD44 and EpCAM in both individual formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections and in an ESCC tissue microarray (TMA). The results successfully confirmed the initial expression pattern observed for all four genes, potentially implicating them in the pathogenesis of ESCC. Additionally, the study provides important methodological information on the overall process of candidate gene validation.
PMCID: PMC3744019  PMID: 23977449
Expression microdissection; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; RNAscope; immunoblot
8.  Telomere attrition in cancer cells and telomere length in tumor stroma cells predicts chromosome instability in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a genome-wide analysis 
Cancer research  2009;69(4):1604-1614.
Previous studies demonstrated that chromosomal instability was common in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); however, the mechanisms underlying this instability are unknown. Individuals with deficiencies in telomere maintenance are susceptible to enhanced telomere loss during cell proliferation; such deficiencies could result in telomere dysfunction and genomic instability. We investigated the association between genome-wide chromosomal changes in cancer cells and telomere length/attrition in cancer/stroma cells in 47 ESCC patients. Genome-wide detection of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) was performed using the Affymetrix GeneChip SNP arrays. Telomere length was assessed separately for cancer cells, carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), infiltrative lymphocytes, and adjacent normal epithelial cells by quantitative fluorescent in situ hybridization using paraffin-embedded sections. Telomere length differed significantly among cell types, such that length in infiltrative lymphocytes > CAFs > cancer cells. Shortened telomeres were observed in cancer cells in 44 out 47 (94%) of the tumors examined. Telomere length in CAFs was significantly associated with chromosomal instability on 4q and 13q, and lymphocytes telomere length was significantly associated with instability on chromosomal arms 15q. While telomere length in cancer cells was not associated with chromosome arm instability, telomere attrition in cancer cells, defined as the telomere length in CAFs minus the telomere length in cancer cells, was significantly associated with chromosomal instability on 13q and 15q. This study provides the evidence that telomere shortening is a common genetic alteration in ESCC, and that chromosome arm instability is related to both telomere attrition in cancer cells and telomere length in tumor stroma cells.
PMCID: PMC3710128  PMID: 19190333
Telomere length; chromosomal instability; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; telomere dysfunction
9.  Prevention Trials: Their Place in How We Understand the Value of Prevention Strategies 
Several key factors bear on the interpretation of prevention trials and observational studies that inform prevention strategies. These factors include the underlying disease process and aspects of the intervention: sustainability of behavior change, the time course of the intervention within the disease process, dose and duration of exposure needed to effect risk reduction, durability of the impact of intervention, and methodological problems in implementing and interpreting randomized trials and observational studies to evaluate prevention strategies. The question asked through an intent-to-treat analysis of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) differs from that in the observational setting. Furthermore, the long duration necessary to conduct prevention trials and the resulting lack of adherence to therapy can bias results toward the null. A broader range of approaches to evaluate prevention interventions and programs with improved knowledge synthesis and translation to public health practice will speed our progress toward achieving public health and prevention of chronic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3618690  PMID: 20070190
durability; adherence; bias; behavior modification; drugs; intention-to-treat
10.  Characterisation of the expression and function of the GM-CSF receptor α-chain in mice 
European Journal of Immunology  2007;37(9):2518-2528.
The granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is a hematopoietic cytokine able to regulate a variety of cell functions including differentiation of macrophages and granulocytes, dendritic cell development and the maintenance of homeostasis. It binds specifically to its receptor, which is composed of a cytokine-specific α-chain (GM-CSF receptor α-chain, GMRα) and a β-chain shared with the receptors for interleukin-3 and interleukin-5. In this report, we present a comprehensive study of GMRα in the mouse. We have found that the mouse GMRα is polymorphic and alternatively spliced. In the absence of specific antibodies, we generated a novel chimeric protein containing the Fc fragment of human IgG1 coupled to mouse GM-CSF, which was able to specifically bind to GMRα and induce proliferation of GMRα-transduced Ba/F3 cells. We used this reagent to perform the first detailed FACS study of the surface expression of mouse GMRα by leucocytes. Highest expression was found on monocytes and granulocytes, and variable expression on tissue macrophages. The GM-CSF receptor in mice is specifically expressed by myeloid cells and is useful for the detection of novel uncharacterised myeloid populations. The ability to detect GM-CSF receptor expression in experimental studies should greatly facilitate the analysis of its role in immune pathologies.
PMCID: PMC2699419  PMID: 17694571
Cell proliferation; Cytokines; Inflammation; Macrophages; Neutrophils
11.  Fumonisin B1 and Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Two Chinese Cohorts 
Food and Chemical Toxicology  2011;50(3-4):679-683.
Fumonisin B1 (FB1), a mycotoxin that contaminates corn in certain climates, has been demonstrated to cause hepatocellular cancer (HCC) in animal models. Whether a relationship between FB1 and HCC exists in humans is not known. To examine the hypothesis, we conducted case-control studies nested within two large cohorts in China; the Haimen City Cohort and the General Population Study of the Nutritional Intervention Trials cohort in Linxian. In the Haimen City Cohort, nail FB1 levels were determined in 271 HCC cases and 280 controls. In the General Population Nutritional Intervention Trial, nail FB1 levels were determined in 72 HCC cases and 147 controls. In each population, odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) from logistic regression models estimated the association between measurable FB1 and HCC, adjusting for hepatitis B virus infection and other factors. A meta-analysis that included both populations was also conducted. The analysis revealed no statistically significant association between FB1 and HCC in either Haimen City (OR=1.10, 95%CI=0.64–1.89) or in Linxian (OR=1.47, 95%CI=0.70–3.07). Similarly, the pooled meta-analysis showed no statistically significant association between FB1 exposure and HCC (OR=1.22, 95%CI=0.79–1.89). These findings, although somewhat preliminary, do not support an associated between FB1 and HCC.
PMCID: PMC3299856  PMID: 22142693
fumonisin; hepatocellular carcinoma; cohort study; China; epidemiology
12.  Galactosylated IgG1 links FcγRIIB and Dectin-1 to block complement-mediated inflammation 
Nature medicine  2012;18(9):1401-1406.
Complement is an ancient danger sensing system playing critical roles in host defense, immune surveillance and homeostasis1. C5a and its G-Protein-coupled receptor mediate many of the pro-inflammatory properties of complement2. Despite its critical role in allergic asthma3, autoimmune arthritis4, sepsis5 and cancer6, our knowledge about C5a regulation is limited. Here we demonstrate an unexpected link through which IgG1 immune complexes (IC), the inhibitory IgG receptor FcγRIIB and the C-type lectin-like receptor Dectin-1 suppress C5a receptor (C5aR) functions. Specifically, we found that IgG1 IC associate FcγRIIB with Dectin-1, resulting in phosphorylation of spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) downstream of Dectin-1 and Src homology 2 domain containing inositol phosphatase (SHIP) downstream of FcγRIIB. This pathway blocks C5a receptor-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation and C5a effector functions in vitro and C5a-dependent inflammatory responses in vivo including the development of skin blisters in experimental epidermolysis bullosa acquisita (EBA), an autoimmune skin disorder. Notably, high galactosylation of IgG N-glycan is critical for this inhibitory property of IgG1 IC as it promotes the association between FcγRIIB and Dectin-1. Thus, galactosylated IgG1 and FcγRIIB exert immunoregulatory properties beyond their impact on activating FcγRs that may control allergy, autoimmunity and cancer.
PMCID: PMC3492054  PMID: 22922409
13.  InterSCOPE Study: Associations Between Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Human Papillomavirus Serological Markers 
The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the causation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is unclear. We examined the associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 28 centrally measured HPV serological markers in serum from six existing case–control studies conducted in regions with differing background risks of esophageal cancer.
We used centralized multiplex serology to test serum samples from 1561 case subjects and 2502 control subjects from six case–control studies for antibodies to the major HPV capsid protein (L1) and/or the early proteins E6 and/or E7 of eight high-risk, two low-risk, and four cutaneous HPV types. Study-specific odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for smoking, alcohol consumption, and other potential confounders. Pooled odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using either a linear mixed-effects approach or a joint fixed-effects approach. All statistical tests were two-sided.
We found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E6 for HPV16 (OR = 1.89, 95% CI = 1.09 to 3.29, P = .023) and HPV6 (OR = 2.53, 95% CI = 1.51 to 4.25, P < .001) but not for other tested HPV types. There were no statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E7 for any of the tested HPV types. Simultaneous seropositivity for HPV16 E6 and E7 was rare (four case subjects, two control subjects; OR = 5.57, 95% CI = 0.90 to 34.35; P = .064). We also found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and capsid antibodies for the high-risk mucosal type HPV33 L1 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.69; P = .047) and the low-risk mucosal types HPV6 (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.42; P = .010) and HPV11 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.56, P = .0036).
We found limited serological evidence of an association between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and HPV in the populations studied. Although HPV does not appear to be an important risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, we cannot exclude the possibility that certain HPV types may be involved in a small subset of cancers.
PMCID: PMC3260131  PMID: 22228147
14.  Risk factors for esophageal and gastric cancers in Shanxi Province, China: A case-control study 
Cancer epidemiology  2011;35(6):e91-e99.
Smoking and alcohol consumption explain little of the risk for upper-gastrointestinal (UGI) cancer in China, where over half of all cases in the world occur.
We evaluated questionnaire-based risk factors for UGI cancers in a case-control study from Shanxi Province, China, including 600 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCC), 599 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA), 316 gastric noncardia adenocarcinomas (GNCA), and 1514 age- and gender-matched controls.
Ever smoking and ever use of any alcohol were not associated with risk of UGI cancer; only modest associations were observed between ESCC risk and highest cumulative smoking exposure, as well as GNCA risk and beer drinking. While several associations were noted for socioeconomic and some dietary variables with one or two UGI cancers, the strongest and most consistent relations for all three individual UGI cancers were observed for consumption of scalding hot foods (risk increased 150% to 219% for daily vs never users) and fresh vegetables and fruits (risk decreased 48% to 70% for vegetables and 46% to 68% for fruits, respectively, for high vs low quartiles).
This study confirms the minor role of tobacco and alcohol in UGI cancers in this region, and highlights thermal damage as a leading etiologic factor.
PMCID: PMC3215853  PMID: 21846596
smoking; alcohol; socioeconomic status; diet
15.  Serum ghrelin is inversely associated with risk of subsequent oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Gut  2011;61(11):1533-1537.
Oesophageal cancers rank as the eighth most common cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death, worldwide. Gastric atrophy, as determined by a low serum pepsinogen I/II ratio, may be associated with an increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Ghrelin, a hormone which, like pepsinogen, is produced in the fundic glands of the stomach, may be a sensitive and specific marker of gastric atrophy, but its association with OSCC is not known.
To examine the relationship between baseline serum ghrelin concentration and subsequent risk of OSCC, we conducted a nested case-control study within the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study. 82 cases of OSCC were matched (1:1) by age and date of blood draw to controls from the ATBC study. Serum ghrelin was measured by radioimmunoassay. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for potential confounders.
For those individuals in the lowest quartile of serum ghrelin, compared to those in the highest, the multivariate odds ratio of subsequent OSCC was 6.83 (95% CI: 1.46, 31.84). These associations were dose dependent (P for trend = 0.005 for both), and independent of the effects of low pepsinogen I/II ratio (a marker of gastric fundic atrophy) and Helicobacter pylori infection. The significance of these associations remained even for individuals developing OSCC up to 10 years after baseline ghrelin measurement, though they become attenuated after 10 years.
Lower baseline concentrations of serum ghrelin were associated with an increase in risk of OSCC. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding in other populations and to explore the role of ghrelin in the aetiology of OSCC.
PMCID: PMC3462270  PMID: 22180062
ghrelin; oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; atrophy
16.  Atrophic Gastritis and the Risk of Incident Colorectal Cancer 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2009;21(1):163-170.
Previous studies evaluating whether risk factors for gastric cancer are also associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) have shown inconsistent results. We prospectively examined the association of atrophic gastritis, a pre-malignant condition for gastric cancer and long-term sequelae common to many exposure factors, and the risk of incident CRC.
A total of 20,928 Finnish male smokers, aged 50–69, who were participants in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study (ATBC) had serum pepsinogen I (SPGI) levels measured. Participants with low SPGI levels (<25 µg/l) (n=1,665) were invited for gastroscopy. Of these, 1,059 (63.6%) participants underwent gastroscopy and atrophic gastritis was histologically confirmed in 1,006 (95.0%) participants. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to evaluate the risk of incident CRC.
During a mean follow-up of 11.3 years (236,258 person-years), 425 incident CRC were diagnosed. The incidence rates were 1.82, 1.48, and 1.82 per 1,000 person-years of follow-up for participants with normal SPGI (≥25 µg/l), low SPGI, and histologically-confirmed atrophic gastritis, respectively. Compared to subjects with normal SPGI, there was no increased risk of CRC among subjects with low SPGI (Adjusted Hazard Ratio (HR) = 0.71; 95%CI: 0.47–1.05) and among those with histologically-confirmed atrophic gastritis (Adjusted HR = 0.86; 95%CI: 0.55–1.34).
Atrophic gastritis is not associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer among male smokers.
PMCID: PMC3510266  PMID: 19838812
Serum pepsinogen; atrophic gastritis; colorectal cancer
17.  PAH exposure in esophageal tissue and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northeastern Iran 
Gut  2010;59(9):1178-1183.
To evaluate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure in esophageal epithelial tissue and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) case status in an ESCC case-control study in a high-risk population in northeastern Iran.
Immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays (TMAs) of non-tumoral esophageal biopsies from ESCC cases and control subjects. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibodies 8E11 and 5D11, raised against benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) diol epoxide (BPDE)-I-modified guanosine and BPDE-I-modified DNA, respectively. Staining intensity was quantified by image analysis, and the average staining in three replicates was calculated.
Rural region in northeastern Iran.
Cases were patients with biopsy-proven ESCC. Controls were GI clinic patients with no endoscopic or biopsy evidence of ESCC.
Main outcome measure
Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for the association between antibody staining intensity and ESCC case status.
Cultured ESCC cells exposed to B[a]P in vitro showed dose-dependent staining with 8E11, but not with 5D11. With 8E11, sufficient epithelial tissue was available in the TMA cores to analyze 91 cases and 103 controls. Compared to the lowest quintile of 8E11 staining in the controls, adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 2.42, 5.77, 11.3, and 26.6 (5.21–135), respectively (P for trend < 0.001). With 5D11, 89 cases and 101 controls were analyzed. No association between staining and case status was observed (ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 1.26, 0.88, 1.06, and 1.63 (0.63–4.21), P for trend = 0.40).
Dramatically higher levels of 8E11 staining were observed in non-tumoral esophageal epithelium from ESCC patients than from control subjects. This finding strengthens the evidence for a causal role for PAHs in esophageal carcinogenesis in northeastern Iran.
PMCID: PMC3505022  PMID: 20584779
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarray
18.  Serum thyroglobulin, a biomarker for iodine deficiency, is not associated with increased risk of upper gastrointestinal cancers in a large Chinese cohort 
Iodine concentrates in gastric tissue and may act as an antioxidant for the stomach. We previously showed that self-reported goiter was associated with significantly increased risk of gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA) and non-significantly increased risks of gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in a prospective case-cohort study in a high-risk population in China. Negatively correlated with iodine levels, serum thyroglobulin (Tg) is a more sensitive biomarker of iodine deficiency than goiter. This study aimed to determine whether baseline serum Tg was also associated with development of GNCA, GCA, and ESCC in the same cohort, the Linxian General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial. Sera from approximately 200 subjects of each case type and 400 non-cases were tested for serum Tg concentration using appropriate assays. Tg was modeled as sex- and assay-specific quartiles in Cox regression models adjusted for age, smoking, alcohol, Helicobacter pylori status, pepsinogens I/II ratio, family history, and commune of residence. In the final combined analysis, participants in the highest quartile of serum Tg, compared to those in the lowest quartile, had adjusted Hazard Ratios of 0.88 (95% confidence interval 0.50–1.52), 1.14 (0.63–2.05), and 0.78 (0.47–1.31) for GNCA, GCA, and ESCC, respectively. Using serum Tg, a sensitive biomarker of iodine deficiency, we found no association between serum Tg concentrations and risk of these upper gastrointestinal (UGI) cancers in the study population. Our results do not support the hypothesis that iodine deficiency, as assessed by serum Tg, is associated with an increased risk of UGI cancers.
PMCID: PMC3075342  PMID: 21105043
iodine deficiency; esophageal cancer; gastric cancer; thyroglobulin; China
19.  Differential Dependencies of Monocytes and Neutrophils on Dectin-1, Dectin-2 and Complement for the Recognition of Fungal Particles in Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45781.
We have re-investigated the role of the complement system and the non-opsonic pattern recognition receptors dectin-1 and dectin-2 in the recognition of fungal particles by inflammatory neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages. We have used in vivo and ex vivo models to study the recognition and response of these cells: i) We confirm previous observations regarding the importance of complement to neutrophil but not monocytic responses; ii) We show that dectin-1 is important for driving inflammatory cell recruitment to fungal stimuli and that it biases the immediate inflammatory response to one that favors neutrophil over monocyte recruitment; iii) We show that dectin-2 contributes to the physical recognition of fungal particles by inflammatory monocytes/macrophages, but is also expressed on neutrophils, where we show it has the potential to contribute to cellular activation; iv) Additionally, we show that serum-opsonization has the potential to interfere with non-opsonic recognition of fungal particles by dectin-1 and dectin-2, presumably through masking of ligands. Collectively these roles are consistent with previously described roles of dectin-1 and dectin-2 in driving inflammatory and adaptive immune responses and complement in containing fungal burdens. This study emphasizes the importance of heterogeneity of receptor expression across myeloid cell subsets in protective immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3458947  PMID: 23049859
20.  Prospective Study of Serum Cysteine Levels and Oesophageal and Gastric Cancers in China 
Gut  2011;60(5):618-623.
Cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Cysteine, known to be involved in a myriad of immuno-modulatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-carcinogenic pathways, has not been investigated in the aetiology of oesophageal or gastric cancers. To examine the relationship between serum cysteine concentration and risk of these cancers we conducted a nested case-cohort study within the General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial in Linxian, China.
498 oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) and 255 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA) were matched by age and sex to 947 individuals from the wider cohort. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using the case-cohort estimator for the Cox proportional hazards models, stratified on age and sex, with adjustment for potential confounders.
Higher concentrations of serum cysteine were significantly associated with a lower risk of both OSCC and GCA. For those in the highest quartile of serum cysteine, compared to those in the lowest, the multivariate HRs were 0.70 for OSCC (95% CI: 0.51, 0.98) and 0.59 for GCA (95% CI: 0.38, 0.91). These associations were dose dependent (P for trend = 0.006 and 0.008, respectively). These inverse associations were not significantly modified by other risk factors, with the exception of age, where a stronger association was noted among persons in the older age strata.
Higher serum concentrations of cysteine were associated with a significantly reduced risk of OSCC and GCA. Cysteine should be further investigated for its potential as a chemopreventive agent for upper gastrointestinal cancers.
PMCID: PMC3428021  PMID: 21242262
oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; gastric cardia cancer; hazard ratio; cysteine
21.  The Relationship Between Serum Ghrelin and the Risk of Gastric and Esophagogastric Junctional Adenocarcinomas 
Cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract remain a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the oxyntic glands of the stomach, and under conditions of chronic inflammation and atrophy, serum ghrelin concentrations decrease. However, the relationship between ghrelin and the risk of gastric and esophagogastric junctional cancers has not been investigated.
We conducted a nested case–control study within the Finnish Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study to examine the relationship between serum ghrelin concentration and the risk of gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA) and esophagogastric junctional adenocarcinoma (EGJA). Data from 261 GNCA patients, 98 EGJA patients, and 441 control subjects were analyzed. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated using logistic regression with adjustment for potential confounders. Lag analysis was also performed to investigate the temporal nature of the associations between baseline serum pepsinogen I and ghrelin in GNCA and EGJA patients. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Lower concentrations of serum ghrelin were statistically significantly associated with an increased risk of both GNCA (adjusted OR = 1.75, 95% CI = 1.49 to 2.04; P < .001) and EGJA (adjusted OR = 1.56, 95% CI = 1.28 to 1.89, P < .001). A multivariable model found that the risk of both GNCA and EGJA were statistically significantly increased for those individuals in the lowest quartile of serum ghrelin levels compared with those in the highest quartile (OR of GNCA = 5.63, 95% CI = 3.16 to 10.03; OR of EGJA = 4.90, 95% CI = 2.11 to 11.35). The statistical significance of these associations remained even after restricting the analysis to those patients who developed cancer more than 10 years after baseline serum ghrelin measurements.
Low baseline concentrations of serum ghrelin were associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk of GNCA and EGJA, suggesting a potential role for gastric hormones in carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3139586  PMID: 21693726
22.  Advanced Glycation End-Products, Soluble Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-Products and Risk of Colorectal Cancer 
Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) accumulate in human tissue proteins during aging, particularly under hyperglycemia conditions. AGEs induce oxidative stress and inflammation via the receptor for AGEs (RAGE) and soluble RAGE (sRAGE) can neutralize the effects mediated by RAGE/ligand engagement.
We examined the association between Nε-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML), a prominent AGEs, and sRAGE and colorectal cancer risk in a prospective case-cohort study nested within a cancer prevention trial among 29,133 Finnish male smokers. Among study subjects who were alive without cancer five years after baseline (1985–1988), we identified 483 incident colorectal cancer cases and randomly sampled 485 subcohort participants as the comparison group with the follow-up to April 2006. Baseline serum levels of CML-AGE, sRAGE, glucose and insulin were determined. Weighted Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to calculate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Comparing highest with lowest quintile of sRAGE, the RR for incident colorectal cancer was 0.65 (95% CI: 0.39, 1.07; P value for trend = 0.03), adjusting for age, years of smoking, body mass index, and CML-AGE. Further adjustment for serum glucose strengthened the association (RR: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.30, 0.89; P value for trend = 0.009). Highest quintile of CML-AGE was not associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (multivariate RR: 1.20; 95% CI: 0.64, 2.26).
Higher prediagnostic levels of serum sRAGE were associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer in male smokers.
This is the first epidemiologic study to implicate the receptor for advanced glycation end-products in colorectal cancer development.
PMCID: PMC3132292  PMID: 21527578
advanced glycation end-products; soluble receptor for advanced glycation end-products; colorectal cancer; risk; case-cohort; inflammation
23.  Evidence that Serum Levels of the Soluble Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-Products are Inversely Associated with Pancreatic Cancer Risk: a Prospective Study 
Cancer research  2011;71(10):3582-3589.
Cigarette smoking, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and to a less extent, meat cooked at high temperatures are associated with pancreatic cancer. Cigarette smoke and foods cooked at higher temperatures are major environmental sources of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). AGEs accumulate during hyperglycemia and elicit oxidative stress and inflammation through interaction with the receptor for AGEs (RAGE). Soluble RAGE (sRAGE) acts as an anti-inflammatory factor to neutralize AGEs and block the effects mediated by RAGE. In this study, we investigated the associations of prediagnostic measures of Nε-(carboxymethyl)-lysine (CML)-AGE and sRAGE with pancreatic cancer in a case-cohort study within a cohort of 29,133 Finnish male smokers. Serum samples and exposure information were collected at baseline (1985-1988). We measured CML-AGE, sRAGE, glucose and insulin concentrations in fasting serum from 255 incident pancreatic cancer cases that arose through April 2005 and from 485 randomly sampled subcohort participants. Weighted Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to calculate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), adjusted for age, years of smoking and body mass index. CML-AGE and sRAGE were mutually adjusted. CML-AGE levels were not associated with pancreatic cancer (fifth compared with first quintile, RR (95% CI): 0.68 (0.38-1.22), Ptrend = 0.27). In contrast, sRAGE levels were inversely associated with pancreatic cancer (fifth compared with first quintile, RR (95% CI): 0.46 (0.23-0.73), Ptrend = 0.002). Further adjustment for glucose or insulin levels did not change the observed associations. Our findings suggest that sRAGE is inversely associated with pancreatic cancer risk among Finnish male smokers.
PMCID: PMC3096705  PMID: 21540233
advanced glycation end-products; soluble receptor for advanced glycation end-products; pancreatic cancer; risk; prospective
24.  Helicobacter pylori Seropositivity and Risk of Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32106.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a risk factor for distal stomach cancer, and a few small studies have suggested that H. pylori may be a potential risk factor for lung cancer. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a study of 350 lung adenocarcinoma cases, 350 squamous cell carcinoma cases, and 700 controls nested within the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study (ATBC) cohort of male Finnish smokers. Controls were one-to-one matched by age and date of baseline serum draw. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to detect immunoglobulin G antibodies against H. pylori whole-cell and cytotoxin-associated gene (CagA) antigens, we calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for associations between H. pylori seropositivity and lung cancer risk using conditional logistic regression. H. pylori seropositivity was detected in 79.7% of cases and 78.5% of controls. After adjusting for pack-years and cigarettes smoked per day, H. pylori seropositivity was not associated with either adenocarcinoma (OR: 1.1, 95% CI: 0.75–1.6) or squamous cell carcinoma (OR: 1.1, 95% CI: 0.77–1.7). Results were similar for CagA-negative and CagA-positive H. pylori seropositivity. Despite earlier small studies suggesting that H. pylori may contribute to lung carcinogenesis, H. pylori seropositivity does not appear to be associated with lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3286451  PMID: 22384154
25.  Measures of adiposity and body fat distribution in relation to serum folate levels in postmenopausal women in a feeding study 
To assess the associations between serum folate concentration and measures of adiposity in postmenopausal women.
This study was conducted as a cross-sectional analysis within the control segment of a randomized, crossover trial in which postmenopausal women (n=51) consumed 0g (control), 15g (one drink), and 30g (two drinks) alcohol (ethanol)/d for 8 weeks as part of a controlled diet. Subjects in one treatment arm were crossed-over to another arm after a two to five week washout period. BMI was measured, and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan administered to the women during the control (0 g alcohol) treatment, and a blood sample from this group was collected at baseline and week 8 of each diet period and analyzed for folate, B12, homocysteine, and methylmalonic acid.
This study was conducted at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Maryland, USA.
In multivariate analysis, women who were overweight had a 12% lower, and obese women had a 22% lower serum folate concentrations compared to normal weight women (P-trend=0.02). Vitamin B12 also decreased with increasing BMI (P-trend=0.08). Increased BMI, percent body fat, and absolute amounts of central and peripheral fat were all significantly associated with decreased serum folate, but were unrelated to serum B12, homocysteine, or methylmalonic acid.
Our data show that adiposity is associated with lower serum folate levels in postmenopausal women. With obesity at epidemic proportions, these data, if confirmed by prospective or randomized controlled studies, have important public health implications.
This research was supported in part by the Intramural Program of the NIH.
Adiposity and folate
PMCID: PMC3236439  PMID: 17457338
Adiposity and folate; postmenopausal women; feeding study

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