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1.  Identification and validation of a novel microRNA-like molecule derived from a cytoplasmic RNA virus antigenome by bioinformatics and experimental approaches 
Virology Journal  2014;11:121.
It is generally believed that RNA virus replicating in the cell cytoplasm would not encode microRNAs (miRNAs) due to nucleus inaccessibility. Recent studies have described cytoplasmic RNA virus genome-derived miRNAs in West Nile virus (WNV) and Dengue virus (DENV). However, naturally occurring miRNAs derived from the antigenome of a cytoplasmic RNA virus have not been described.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) was served as a model virus to investigate whether the antigenome of a cytoplasmic RNA virus would be processed into miRNAs or miRNA-like small RNAs upon infection. HAV antigenome was queried for putative miRNA precursors (pre-miRNA) with the VMir analyzer program. Mature miRNA prediction was performed using MatureBayes and Bayes-SVM-MiRNA web server v1.0. Finally, multiple experimental approaches, including cloning and sequencing-, RNAi-, plasmid-based miRNA expression- and luciferase reporter assays, were performed to identify and validate naturally occurring viral antigenome-derived miRNAs.
Using human HAV genotype IA (isolate H2) (HAVH2), a virally encoded miRNA-like small RNA was detected on the antigenome and named hav-miR-N1-3p. Transcription of viral pre-miRNA in KMB17 and HEK293T cells led to mature hav-miR-N1-3p production. In addition, silencing of the miRNA-processing enzyme Dicer or Drosha caused a dramatic reduction in miRNA levels. Furthermore, artificial target of hav-miR-N1-3p was silenced by synthesized viral miRNA mimics and the HAVH2 naturally-derived hav-miR-N1-3p.
These results suggested that the antigenome of a cytoplasmic RNA virus could be processed into functional miRNAs. Our findings provide new evidence supporting the hypothesis that cytoplasmic RNA viruses naturally encode miRNAs through cellular miRNA processing machinery.
PMCID: PMC4087238  PMID: 24981144
Hepatitis A virus; Antigenome; MicroRNA-like molecule; Picornavirus
2.  Big Data Analytics in Immunology: A Knowledge-Based Approach 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:437987.
With the vast amount of immunological data available, immunology research is entering the big data era. These data vary in granularity, quality, and complexity and are stored in various formats, including publications, technical reports, and databases. The challenge is to make the transition from data to actionable knowledge and wisdom and bridge the knowledge gap and application gap. We report a knowledge-based approach based on a framework called KB-builder that facilitates data mining by enabling fast development and deployment of web-accessible immunological data knowledge warehouses. Immunological knowledge discovery relies heavily on both the availability of accurate, up-to-date, and well-organized data and the proper analytics tools. We propose the use of knowledge-based approaches by developing knowledgebases combining well-annotated data with specialized analytical tools and integrating them into analytical workflow. A set of well-defined workflow types with rich summarization and visualization capacity facilitates the transformation from data to critical information and knowledge. By using KB-builder, we enabled streamlining of normally time-consuming processes of database development. The knowledgebases built using KB-builder will speed up rational vaccine design by providing accurate and well-annotated data coupled with tailored computational analysis tools and workflow.
PMCID: PMC4090507  PMID: 25045677
3.  Gradually Increased Training Intensity Benefits Rehabilitation Outcome after Stroke by BDNF Upregulation and Stress Suppression 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:925762.
Physical training is necessary for effective rehabilitation in the early poststroke period. Animal studies commonly use fixed training intensity throughout rehabilitation and without adapting it to the animals' recovered motor ability. This study investigated the correlation between training intensity and rehabilitation efficacy by using a focal ischemic stroke rat model. Eighty male Sprague-Dawley rats were induced with middle cerebral artery occlusion/reperfusion surgery. Sixty rats with successful stroke were then randomly assigned into four groups: control (CG, n = 15), low intensity (LG, n = 15), gradually increased intensity (GIG, n = 15), and high intensity (HG, n = 15). Behavioral tests were conducted daily to evaluate motor function recovery. Stress level and neural recovery were evaluated via plasma corticosterone and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) concentration, respectively. GIG rats significantly (P < 0.05) recovered motor function and produced higher hippocampal BDNF (112.87 ± 25.18 ng/g). GIG and LG rats exhibited similar stress levels (540.63 ± 117.40 nM/L and 508.07 ± 161.30 nM/L, resp.), which were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than that (716.90 ± 156.48 nM/L) of HG rats. Training with gradually increased intensity achieved better recovery with lower stress. Our observations indicate that a training protocol that includes gradually increasing training intensity should be considered in both animal and clinical studies for better stroke recovery.
PMCID: PMC4090448  PMID: 25045713
4.  Hydrogen-Rich Saline Promotes Survival of Retinal Ganglion Cells in a Rat Model of Optic Nerve Crush 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99299.
To investigate the effect of molecular hydrogen (H2) in a rat model subjected to optic nerve crush (ONC).
We tested the hypothesis that after optic nerve crush (ONC), retinal ganglion cell (RGC) could be protected by H2. Rats in different groups received saline or hydrogen-rich saline every day for 14 days after ONC. Retinas from animals in each group underwent measurements of hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining, cholera toxin beta (CTB) tracing, gamma synuclein staining, and terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining 2 weeks post operation. Flash visual evoked potentials (FVEP) and pupillary light reflex (PLR) were then tested to evaluate the function of optic nerve. The malondialdehyde (MDA) level in retina was evaluated.
H&E, gamma synuclein staining and CTB tracing showed that the survival rate of RGCs in hydrogen saline-treated group was significantly higher than that in saline-treated group. Apoptosis of RGCs assessed by TUNEL staining were less observed in hydrogen saline-treated group. The MDA level in retina of H2 group was much lower than that in placebo group. Furthermore, animals treated with hydrogen saline showed better function of optic nerve in assessments of FVEP and PLR.
These results demonstrated that H2 protects RGCs and helps preserve the visual function after ONC and had a neuroprotective effect in a rat model subjected to ONC.
PMCID: PMC4051757  PMID: 24915536
5.  Discovery of a mutant-selective covalent inhibitor of EGFR that overcomes T790M-mediated resistance in NSCLC 
Cancer discovery  2013;3(12):1404-1415.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations initially respond to first generation reversible EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. However, clinical efficacy is limited by acquired resistance, frequently driven by the EGFR T790M mutation. CO-1686 is a novel, irreversible and orally delivered kinase inhibitor that specifically targets the mutant forms of EGFR including T790M while exhibiting minimal activity towards the wild-type (WT) receptor. Oral administration of CO-1686 as single agent induces tumor regression in EGFR mutated NSCLC tumor xenograft and transgenic models. Minimal activity of CO-1686 against the WT EGFR receptor was observed. In NSCLC cells with acquired resistance to CO-1686 in vitro, there was no evidence of additional mutations or amplification of the EGFR gene, but resistant cells exhibited signs of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and demonstrated increased sensitivity to AKT inhibitors. These results suggest CO-1686 may offer a novel therapeutic option for patients with mutant EGFR NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4048995  PMID: 24065731
NSCLC; EGFR; drug resistance; T790M; EMT
6.  Activation of JNK1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways promotes enterovirus 71 infection in immature dendritic cells 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:147.
c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase/stress-activated kinase (JNK/SAPK) and the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) are important components of cellular signal transduction pathways, which have been reported to be involved in viral replication. However, little is known about JNK1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways in enterovirus 71 (EV71)-infected immature dendritic cells (iDCs). Thus, iDCs were induced from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and performed to explore the expressions and phosphorylation of molecules in the two signaling pathways as well as secretions of inflammatory cytokines and interferons during EV71 replication.
We showed that EV71 infection could activate both JNK1/2 and p38 MAPK in iDCs and phosphorylate their downstream transcription factors c-Fos and c-Jun, which further promoted the production of IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α. Moreover, EV71 infection also increased the release of IFN-β and IL-12 p40. Pretreatment of iDCs with SP600125 and SB203580 (20 μM) could severely impair viral replication and its induced phosphorylation of JNK1/2,p38 MAPK, c-Fos and c-Jun. In addition, treatment of EV71-infected iDCs with SP600125 and SB203580 could inhibit secretions of IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α.
JNK1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways are beneficial to EV71 infection and positively regulate secretions of inflammatory cytokines in iDCs.
PMCID: PMC4057572  PMID: 24906853
Enterovirus 71; Viral replication; JNK1/2; p38 MAPK; Dendritic cells
7.  A recyclable and reusable supported Cu(I) catalyzed azide-alkyne click polymerization 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5107.
The azide–alkyne click polymerization (AACP) has emerged as a powerful tool for the synthesis of functional polytriazoles. While, for the Cu(I)-catalyzed AACP, the removal of the catalytic Cu(I) species from the resulting polytriazoles is difficult, and the research on the recyclability and reusability of the catalyst remains intact. Herein, we reported the first example of using recyclable and reusable supported Cu(I) catalyst of CuI@A-21 for the AACP. CuI@A-21 could not only efficiently catalyze the AACP but also be reused for at least 4 cycles. Moreover, pronounced reduction of copper residues in the products was achieved. Apart from being a green and cost-effective polymer synthesis strategy, this method will also broaden the application of AACP in material and biological sciences and provide guidelines for other polymerizations with metal catalysts.
PMCID: PMC4038842  PMID: 24875854
8.  A case report of acute severe paraquat poisoning and long-term follow-up 
In the present study, the successful management of severe paraquat (PQ) poisoning with multiple organ dysfunction syndrome is described. A 42-year-old female ingested >100 ml PQ (20% weight/volume) in an attempted suicide. After 22 h the patient was admitted to hospital with serious liver, kidney and lung damage. Comprehensive therapy that maximized poison elimination was administered, along with appropriate glucocorticoids and medication for anticoagulation and protection of the liver and kidney. The patient was successfully treated and recovered after 40 days. However, pulmonary damage was aggravated when the glucocorticoid treatment was stopped after 2 months; the lungs recovered again following systematic therapy. Subsequent to a 8-month follow-up, the patient was able to look after herself in her daily life. To the best of our knowledge, successful treatment following severe PQ poisoning is rare.
PMCID: PMC4061211  PMID: 24944627
acute paraquat poisoning; treatment; long-term follow
9.  Gene expression analysis of potential genes and pathways involved in the pathogenic mechanisms of parvovirus B19 in human colorectal cancer 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(2):523-532.
In order to investigate the pathogenic mechanisms of parvovirus B19 in human colorectal cancer, plasmids containing the VP1 or VP2 viral capsid proteins or the NS1 non-structural proteins of parvovirus B19 were constructed and transfected into primary human colorectal epithelial cells and LoVo cells. Differential gene expression was detected using a human genome expression array. Functional gene annotation analyses were performed using Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery v6.7 software. Gene ontology (GO) analyses revealed that VP1-related functions included the immune response, immune system process, defense response and the response to stimulus, while NS1-associated functions were found to include organelle fission, nuclear division, mitosis, the M-phase of the mitotic cell cycle, the mitotic cell cycle, M-phase, cell cycle phase, cell cycle process and cell division. Pathway expression analysis revealed that VP1-associated pathways included cell adhesion molecules, antigen processing and presentation, cytokines and the inflammatory response. Moreover, NS1-associated pathways included the cell cycle, pathways in cancer, colorectal cancer, the wnt signaling pathway and focal adhesion. Among the differential genes detected in the present study, 12 genes were found to participate in general cancer pathways and six genes were observed to participate in colorectal cancer pathways. NS1 is a key molecule in the pathogenic mechanism of parvovirus B19 in colorectal cancer. Several GO categories, pathways and genes were selected and may be the key targets through which parvovirus B19 participates in colorectal cancer pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4081382  PMID: 25013465
colorectal cancer; parvovirus B19; pathogenesis; microarray; human
10.  The role of pleomorphic adenoma gene-like 2 in gastrointestinal cancer development, progression, and prognosis 
Numerous previous studies have revealed that pleomorphic adenoma gene-like 2 (PLAGL2) is a transcription factor that is active in cancer progression. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of PLAGL2 in the development, progression and prognosis of gastrointestinal cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that PLAGL2 was expressed in gastrointestinal tumors and adjacent normal tissues. The expression of PLAGL2 was significantly higher in 225 colorectal cancer tissues than in 66 adjacent non-tumor tissues (P = 0.037). However, expression was not significantly different between 286 gastric tumors and 57 adjacent non-tumor tissues (P = 0.352). Moreover, the PLAGL2 expression level significantly correlated with the depth of tumor invasion in colorectal cancer (P = 0.030). However, the PLAGL2 expression level significantly correlated with tumor size in gastric cancer (P = 0.046). Furthermore, we performed survival analyses and found that neither higher nor lower PLAGL2 expression was a prognostic factor in gastrointestinal cancer. Our findings indicate that PALGL2 serves as a tumor oncoprotein in the development and progression of colorectal cancer. However, the role of this protein in the development, progression and prognosis of gastric cancer is uncertain. Further investigation into the molecular mechanisms of PLAGL2 activity in gastrointestinal cancer is warranted.
PMCID: PMC4097215  PMID: 25031728
Gastrointestinal cancer; PLAGL2; immunohistochemistry; tumor invasion; prognosis
11.  Repair of orbital bone defects in canines using grafts of enriched autologous bone marrow stromal cells 
Bone tissue engineering is a new approach for the repair of orbital defects. The aim of the present study was to explore the feasibility of tissue-engineered bone constructed using bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) that were rapidly isolated and concentrated from bone marrow (BM) by the red cell lysis method, then combined with β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) to create grafts used to restore orbital bone defects in canines.
In the experimental group, grafts were constructed using BMSCs obtained by red cell lysis from 20 ml bone marrow, combined with β-TCP and BM via the custom-made stem cell-scaffold device, then used to repair 10 mm diameter medial orbital wall bony defects in canines. Results were compared with those in groups grafted with BM/β-TCP or β-TCP alone, or with defects left untreated as controls. The enrichment of BMSCs and nucleated cells (NCs) in the graft was calculated from the number in untreated bone marrow and in suspensions after red cell lysis. Spiral computed tomography (CT) scans were performed 1, 4, 12 and 24 weeks after implantation in all groups. Gross examination, micro-CT and histological measurements were performed 24 weeks after surgery. The results were analyzed to evaluate the efficacy of bone repair.
The number of NCs and of colony-forming units within the scaffolds were increased 54.8 times and 53.4 times, respectively, compared with untreated bone marrow. In the BMSC-BM/β-TCP group, CT examination revealed that the scaffolds were gradually absorbed and the bony defects were restored. Micro-CT and histological examination confirmed that the implantations led to good repair of the defects, with 6 out 8 orbital defects completely restored in the experimental group, while by contrast, the grafts in the control groups did not fully repair the bony defects, a difference which was statistically significant (p < 0.05).
Tissue-engineered bone, constructed using BMSCs isolated by red cell lysis of BM, can restore critical-sized orbital wall defects in canines.
PMCID: PMC4036112  PMID: 24886296
12.  Impact of admission triglyceride for early outcome in diabetic patients with stable coronary artery disease 
The role of triglyceride (TG) in predicting the outcomes in diabetic patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) has not been well investigated.
A total of 329 cases with stable angina pectoris (SAP) were prospectively enrolled and followed up for an average of 12 months. They were classified into the two groups according to the cut-off values of predicting early outcome of fasting TG level (low group <1.2 mmol/L, n = 103; High group ≥1.2 mmol/L, n = 226). The relationship between the TG levels and early outcomes were evaluated.
High TG group showed severer lipid profile and elevated inflammatory markers. During an average of 12-month follow-up, 47 out of 329 patients suffered from pre-specified outcomes. Area under the receivers operating characteristic curve suggested that TG, similar to serum Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), was a significant predictor of early outcome for diabetic patients with SAP (P = 0.002). In Cox regression models, after adjusted age, gender, body mass index, other lipid parameters, fasting blood glucose, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, neutrophil count and HbA1C, TG remained as an independent predictor of adverse prognosis.
High level of fasting TG (≥1.2 mmol/L) was an independent predictor for early outcome of diabetic patients with SAP as like as HBA1c and number of affected coronary arteries in the era of revascularization and statin therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4013537  PMID: 24766776
Triglyceride; Hemoglobin A1C; Stable angina pectoris; Coronary artery disease; Outcome
13.  Enhanced circulating PCSK9 concentration by berberine through SREBP-2 pathway in high fat diet-fed rats 
Berberine (BBR), a natural plant extract, has been shown to improve lipid metabolism. However, its effects on PCSK9, a key factor involving in the lipid metabolism, have not yet been evaluated in vivo. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of BBR on PCSK9 expression in high fat diet-fed (HFD) rats.
Thirty-two male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were randomized into the four groups (n = 8): normal diet (Control), HFD, HFD + simvastatin (Sim, 2 mg/kg/d) and HDF + BBR (400 mg/kg/d) for 6 weeks. The following parameters were determined: 1) body weight; 2) serum lipid profile; 3) serum PCSK9 measured by enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assay (ELISA) ; 4) hepatic expressions of low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), sterol regulatory element binding protein-2 (SREBP-2) and hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 (HNF1) were examined by real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blotting analysis.
Compared with HFD rats, Sim and BBR significantly reduced body weight gain and improved lipid profile (P < 0.05 respectively). In addition, either of drug treatment for 6 weeks could increase serum concentration of PCSK9 in HFD rats (P < 0.05). This enhanced PCSK9 expression was demonstrated to be associated with the up-regulation of hepatic expression of LDLR and SREBP-2 and the down-regulation of hepatic expression of HNF1 (P < 0.05 respectively).
The data provided the first line of the evidence that BBR, similar to the Sim, could increase the expression of PCSK9 levels in HFD rats through SREBP-2 activation, suggesting that impacts of BBR on lipid profile may also be linked to SREBP-2 pathway.
PMCID: PMC4000533  PMID: 24755036
Berberine; Simvastatin; Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9; Low density lipoprotein receptor; High fat diet-fed rats
14.  Permeability of rhynchophylline across human intestinal cell in vitro 
Rhynchophylline (Rhy) is the major component of Uncaria species, which is used in Chinese traditional medicine for the treatment of central nervous system disorders. However, its oral bioavailability has not been known. This study aims to investigate the intestinal permeability and related mechanisms of Rhy using cultured human epithelial Caco-2 cells. The cytotoxicity of Rhy on Caco-2 cells was evaluated with MTT assay. The effect of Rhy on the integrity of Caco-2 cell monolayer was assayed with transepithelial electrical resistance. The permeability of Rhy across cell monolayer was assayed by measuring Rhy quantity in received side with HPLC. The effect of Rhy on the expression of P-glycoprotein and MDR1 was detected with Western blot and flow cytometry, respectively. In the concentration of Rhy, which did not produce toxicity on cell viability and integrity of Caco-2 cell monolayer, Rhy crossed the monolayer with velocity 2.76~5.57×10^-6 cm/sec and 10.68~15.66×10^-6 cm/sec from apical to basolateral side and from basolateral to apical side, respectively. The permeability of Rhy was increased by verapamil, a P-glycoprotein inhibitor, or rhodamine123, a P-glycoprotein substrate. Rhy revealed an induction effect on P-glycoprotein expression in Caco-2 cells. These results demonstrate the low permeability of Rhy in intro, and suggest that P-glycoprotein may underlie the mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4069913  PMID: 24966905
Rhynchophylline; P-glycoprotein; permeability; Caco-2 cells
15.  Evaluation of Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) in Patients with Mood Disorders: A Multicenter Trial across China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e91895.
The aim of this study was to test the ability of the Chinese version of the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) to identify Bipolar Disorders (BD) in patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or Unipolar Disorder (UD) in the clinical setting.
1,487 being treated for MDD or UD at 12 mental health centers across China, completed the MDQ and subsequently examined by the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Receiver Operating Characteristic(ROC) curves were used to determine the ability of the MDQ to differentiate between BD (BD, BD-I and BD-II) and MDD or UD and patients with BD-I from patients with BD-II.
Of the 1,487 patients, 309 (20.8%) satisfied the DSM-IV criteria for BD: 118 (7.9%) for BD-I and 191 (12.8%) for BD-II. When only part one of the MDQ was used, the best cutoff was 7 between BD and UD (sensitivity 0.66, specificity 0.88, positive predictive value 0.59, negative predictive value 0.91), 6 between BD-II and UD, and 10 between BD-I and BD-II. If all three parts of the MDQ were used, the MDQ could not distinguish between BD and UD at a cutoff of 7 (or 6), and the sensitivity was only 0.22 (or 0.24).
The Chinese version of the MDQ had good psychometric features in screening bipolar disorders from depressive patients with mood disorders when part two and part three of the MDQ were ignored.
PMCID: PMC3976254  PMID: 24705393
16.  Expression of CXC chemokine receptor-4 and forkhead box 3 in neuroblastoma cells and response to chemotherapy 
Oncology Letters  2014;7(6):2083-2088.
Current evidence indicates that the abnormal expression of chemokines or their receptors, such as CXC chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4), is positively correlated with the development, progression and metastasis of tumor cells. However, the role of CXCR4 in neuroblastoma and its response to chemotherapy remain largely unclear. In addition, forkhead box 3 (Foxp3), a transcription factor associated with T cell tolerance, is expressed in tumor cells and plays a role in the immune evasion of cancers. The present study aimed to examine the expression of CXCR4 and Foxp3 in the LAN-5 and SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cell lines. The effects of chemotherapy drugs, cyclophosphamide (CTX) and pirarubicin (THP), on the expression of these two genes were also investigated. Our findings indicated that CXCR4 and Foxp3 were highly expressed in LAN-5 and SK-N-SH cells. Following treatment with CTX and THP, the protein expression of CXCR4 in LAN-5 and SK-N-SH cells was significantly decreased (P<0.05). The expression of Foxp3 in LAN-5 cells was also significantly downregulated by CTX and THP treatment (P<0.05). Therefore, the high expression of CXCR4 and Foxp3 in LAN-5 and SK-N-SH cells and their subsequent downregulation following administration of the chemotherapy agents suggests that the chemokine receptors, CXCR4 and Foxp3, may be involved in the metastasis and tumor evasion of neuroblastoma. Further studies should investigate the expression of CXCR4 and Foxp3 in patient samples.
PMCID: PMC4049694  PMID: 24932293
CXC chemokine receptor-4; neuroblastoma; forkhead box 3; chemotherapy; gene expression
17.  Dietary Pattern and Its Association with the Prevalence of Obesity, Hypertension and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors among Chinese Older Adults 
Aim: This article examined the association between dietary patterns and cardiovascular risk factors in Chinese older adults. Methods: For this study, older adults with one or more cardiovascular risk factors or a history of cardiovascular disease were randomly selected using health check medical records from the Changshu and Beijing Fangshan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exploratory factor analysis and cluster analysis was used to extract dietary pattern factors. Log binomial regression analysis was used to analyse the association between dietary patterns and chronic disease related risk factors. Results: Four factors were found through factor analysis. A high level of internal consistency was obtained, with a high Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.83. Cluster analysis identified three dietary patterns: healthy diet, Western diet, and balanced diet. Findings in this sample of Chinese adults correspond to those reported in previous studies, indicating that a Western diet is significantly related to likelihood of having obesity, hypertension and the metabolic syndrome. The identification of distinct dietary patterns among Chinese older adults and the nutritional status of people with chronic diseases suggest that the three dietary patterns have a reasonable level of discriminant validity. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that a FFQ is a valid and reliable tool to assess the dietary patterns of individuals with chronic diseases in small- to medium-size urban and rural settings in China. It also validates the significant association between dietary pattern and cardiovascular disease risk factors, including body mass index, blood pressure, triglycerides, and metabolic conditions. Clinical diagnosis of chronic disease further confirmed this relationship in Chinese older adults.
PMCID: PMC4025020  PMID: 24727356
dietary pattern; obesity; hypertension; metabolic syndrome; older adults
18.  Effect of Methotrexate on Neuroepithelium in the Rat Fetal Brain 
Pregnant rats were treated with 30 mg/kg of methotrexate (MTX) on gestation day 13, and fetal brains were examined histopathologically from 6 to 48 hr after the treatment. In the telencephalon of the control group, there were few pyknotic neuroepithelial cells throughout the experimental period. Six hr after MTX treatment, several pyknotic neuroepithelial cells scattered throughout the telencephalic wall. At 12–36 hr, pyknotic neuroepithelial cells increased significantly and were diffusely distributed throughout the telencephalic wall. Neuroepithelial cells were eliminated and showed sparse cell density at 36 hr in the telencephalon. Almost all fetuses died at 48 hr. Most of the pyknotic neuroepithelial cells were positively stained by the TUNEL method and positive for cleaved caspase-3. While mitotic and phospho-histone H3-positive neuroepithelial cells were located along the ventricular layer of telencephalon in the control group, they were rarely observed in the same region at 6–36 hr in the MTX-treated group. MTX induced few pyknotic changes to neuroepithelial cells in the metencephalon, compared to other parts of brain. The distribution of apoptotic neuroepithelial cells and the time-course changes of the indices of apoptotic and mitotic neuroepithelial cells were different from those of other DNA-damaging chemicals reported previously. The difference may reflect the disparity in mechanisms of apoptosis and the inhibition of cell proliferation in neuroepithelial cells induced by MTX. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating histopathological findings of fetal brain damage induced by MTX.
PMCID: PMC4013360  PMID: 24200895
apoptosis; brain; fetus; methotrexate; neuroepithelial cell.
19.  Impact of currently prescribed lipid-lowering drugs on plasma PCSK9 concentration: single or in combination study in rats 
An emerging data suggested a significant impact of statins on PCSK9 concentration, while the rapid impacts of other lipid-lowering drugs such as ezetimibe and xuezhikang alone or in combination on PCSK9 and lipid profile have not been assessed. This study aims to investigate whether an enhanced PCSK9 concentration by single or combined therapy of lipid-lowering drugs currently used precedes the changes of lipid profile in rats.
Sixty-three rats were randomly divided into six groups and orally administrated with placebo (N = 13), ezetimibe 10 mg/kg daily, Xuezhikang 1200 mg/kg daily, ezetimibe 10 mg/kg plus Xuezhikang 1200 mg/kg daily, pitavastatin 10 mg/kg daily or pitavastatin 10 mg/kg plus ezetimibe 10 mg/kg daily for 3 days (N = 10 for each group respectively). Blood samples were obtained at day 3 after orally administration. Plasma PCSK9 levels were determined by ELISA and lipid profile were measured by enzymatic assay.
Ezetimibe, Xuezhikang and pitavastatin alone and Xuezhikang plus ezetimibe as well as pitavastatin plus ezetimibe increased PCSK9 levels by 124%, 56%, 111%, 63% and 204% respectively (p < 0.05 compared with placebo). However, Xuezhikang plus ezetimibe did not enhance greater PCSK9 levels compared to monotherapy. Ezetimibe and pitavastatin in combination induced higher PCSK9 levels than pitavastatin monotherapy or co-therapy with ezetimibe plus Xuezhikang. There was no significant difference between any groups with regard to lipid profile levels at day 3 (P > 0.05).
Elevated PCSK9 concentration by ezetimibe, Xuezhikang and pitavastatin alone or in combination was found prior to the alterations of lipid profile in rats. Combination of Xuezhikang and ezetimibe significantly attenuated increase in PCSK9 compared to ezetimibe plus pitavastatin, suggesting that the former combination may be better than the latter in future clinical application.
PMCID: PMC3931276  PMID: 24533584
PCSK9; Statin; Lipid profile; Rat
20.  Resveratrol Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy Is Associated with the Suppression of Renal Inflammation and Mesangial Cell Proliferation: Possible Roles of Akt/NF-κB Pathway 
The present study was to investigate the protection of resveratrol (RSV) in diabetes associated with kidney inflammation and cell proliferation. Rat mesangial cell and streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetes mouse model were used. In vitro, RSV attenuated high glucose-induced plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) expression and mesangial cell proliferation, as well as Akt and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation. The similar results were recaptured in the experiment with Akt inhibitors. In vivo, mice were divided into three groups: control group, diabetes mellitus (DM) group, and RSV-treated DM group. Compared with control group, the kidney weight to body weight ratio and albumin to creatinine ratio were increased in DM group, but not in RSV-treated DM group. Furthermore, the increased expression of PAI-1 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 in diabetic renal cortex were also reduced by RSV administration. Besides, the kidney p-Akt/Akt ratio and NF-κB were significantly increased in DM group; however, these changes were reversed in RSV-treated DM group. Additionally, immunohistochemistry results indicated that RSV treatment reduced the density of proliferating cell nuclear antigen-positive cells significantly in glomeruli of diabetic mice. These results suggest that RSV prevents diabetes-induced renal inflammation and mesangial cell proliferation possibly through Akt/NF-κB pathway inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3941586  PMID: 24672545
21.  Associations of Educational Attainment, Occupation, Social Class and Major Depressive Disorder among Han Chinese Women 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86674.
The prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) is higher in those with low levels of educational attainment, the unemployed and those with low social status. However the extent to which these factors cause MDD is unclear. Most of the available data comes from studies in developed countries, and these findings may not extrapolate to developing countries. Examining the relationship between MDD and socio economic status in China is likely to add to the debate because of the radical economic and social changes occurring in China over the last 30 years.
Principal findings
We report results from 3,639 Chinese women with recurrent MDD and 3,800 controls. Highly significant odds ratios (ORs) were observed between MDD and full time employment (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.25–0.46, logP = 78), social status (OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.77–0.87, logP = 13.3) and education attainment (OR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.86–0.90, logP = 6.8). We found a monotonic relationship between increasing age and increasing levels of educational attainment. Those with only primary school education have significantly more episodes of MDD (mean 6.5, P-value = 0.009) and have a clinically more severe disorder, while those with higher educational attainment are likely to manifest more comorbid anxiety disorders.
In China lower socioeconomic position is associated with increased rates of MDD, as it is elsewhere in the world. Significantly more episodes of MDD occur among those with lower educational attainment (rather than longer episodes of disease), consistent with the hypothesis that the lower socioeconomic position increases the likelihood of developing MDD. The phenomenology of MDD varies according to the degree of educational attainment: higher educational attainment not only appears to protect against MDD but alters its presentation, to a more anxious phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3909008  PMID: 24497966
22.  Childhood Sexual Abuse and the Development of Recurrent Major Depression in Chinese Women 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87569.
Our prior study in Han Chinese women has shown that women with a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are at increased risk for developing major depression (MD). Would this relationship be found in our whole data set?
Three levels of CSA (non-genital, genital, and intercourse) were assessed by self-report in two groups of Han Chinese women: 6017 clinically ascertained with recurrent MD and 5983 matched controls. Diagnostic and other risk factor information was assessed at personal interview. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated by logistic regression.
We confirmed earlier results by replicating prior analyses in 3,950 new recurrent MD cases. There were no significant differences between the two data sets. Any form of CSA was significantly associated with recurrent MD (OR 4.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) [3.19–5.24]). This association strengthened with increasing CSA severity: non-genital (OR 2.21, 95% CI 1.58–3.15), genital (OR 5.24, 95% CI 3.52–8.15) and intercourse (OR 10.65, 95% CI 5.56–23.71). Among the depressed women, those with CSA had an earlier age of onset, longer depressive episodes. Recurrent MD patients those with CSA had an increased risk for dysthymia (OR 1.60, 95%CI 1.11–2.27) and phobia (OR 1.41, 95%CI 1.09–1.80). Any form of CSA was significantly associated with suicidal ideation or attempt (OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.20–1.89) and feelings of worthlessness or guilt (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.02–2.02). Intercourse (OR 3.47, 95%CI 1.66–8.22), use of force and threats (OR 1.95, 95%CI 1.05–3.82) and how strongly the victims were affected at the time (OR 1.39, 95%CI 1.20–1.64) were significantly associated with recurrent MD.
In Chinese women CSA is strongly associated with recurrent MD and this association increases with greater severity of CSA. Depressed women with CSA have some specific clinical traits. Some features of CSA were associated with greater likelihood of developing recurrent MD.
PMCID: PMC3906190  PMID: 24489940
23.  Large-Scale Analysis of B-Cell Epitopes on Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin – Implications for Cross-Reactivity of Neutralizing Antibodies 
Influenza viruses continue to cause substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. Fast gene mutation on surface proteins of influenza virus result in increasing resistance to current vaccines and available antiviral drugs. Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) represent targets for prophylactic and therapeutic treatments of influenza. We performed a systematic bioinformatics study of cross-reactivity of neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) against influenza virus surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA). This study utilized the available crystal structures of HA complexed with the antibodies for the analysis of tens of thousands of HA sequences. The detailed description of B-cell epitopes, measurement of epitope area similarity among different strains, and estimation of antibody neutralizing coverage provide insights into cross-reactivity status of existing nAbs against influenza virus. We have developed a method to assess the likely cross-reactivity potential of bnAbs for influenza strains, either newly emerged or existing. Our method catalogs influenza strains by a new concept named discontinuous peptide, and then provide assessment of cross-reactivity. Potentially cross-reactive strains are those that share 100% identity with experimentally verified neutralized strains. By cataloging influenza strains and their B-cell epitopes for known bnAbs, our method provides guidance for selection of representative strains for further experimental design. The knowledge of sequences, their B-cell epitopes, and differences between historical influenza strains, we enhance our preparedness and the ability to respond to the emerging pandemic threats.
PMCID: PMC3916768  PMID: 24570677
influenza virus; neutralizing antibodies; B-cell epitope; cross-reactivity; discontinuous peptide
24.  Cyclin A1 Is Expressed in Mouse Ovary 
Cyclin A1 belongs to the type-A cyclins and participates in cell cycle regulation. Since its discovery, cyclin A1 has been shown mostly in testis. It plays important roles in spermatogenesis. However, there were also reports on ovary expression of cyclin A1. Therefore, we intended to revisit the expression of cyclin A1 in mouse ovary. Our study showed that cyclin A1 was expressed at the mRNA level and the protein level in mouse ovary. Tissue staining revealed that cyclin A1 was expressed in maturating oocytes. With the recent data on the functions of cyclins in somatic and stem cells, we also discussed the possibilities of further studies of cyclin A1 in mouse oocytes and perhaps in the oogonial stem cells. Our findings not only add to the supportive evidence of cyclin A1 expression in oocytes, but also may promote more interest in exploring cyclin A1 functions in ovary.
PMCID: PMC4045796  PMID: 24904232
cyclin A1; ovary; oocyte; expression; testis.
25.  Clinical Features of Patients with Dysthymia in a Large Cohort of Han Chinese Women with Recurrent Major Depression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83490.
Dysthymia is a form of chronic mild depression that has a complex relationship with major depressive disorder (MDD). Here we investigate the role of environmental risk factors, including stressful life events and parenting style, in patients with both MDD and dysthymia. We ask whether these risk factors act in the same way in MDD with and without dysthymia.
We examined the clinical features in 5,950 Han Chinese women with MDD between 30–60 years of age across China. We confirmed earlier results by replicating prior analyses in 3,950 new MDD cases. There were no significant differences between the two data sets. We identified sixteen stressful life events that significantly increase the risk of dysthymia, given the presence of MDD. Low parental warmth, from either mother or father, increases the risk of dysthymia. Highly threatening but short-lived threats (such as rape) are more specific for MDD than dysthymia. While for MDD more severe life events show the largest odds ratio versus controls, this was not seen for cases of MDD with or without dysthymia.
There are increased rates of stressful life events in MDD with dysthymia, but the impact of life events on susceptibility to dysthymia with MDD differs from that seen for MDD alone. The pattern does not fit a simple dose-response relationship, suggesting that there are moderating factors involved in the relationship between environmental precipitants and the onset of dysthymia. It is possible that severe life events in childhood events index a general susceptibility to chronic depression, rather than acting specifically as risk factors for dysthymia.
PMCID: PMC3873934  PMID: 24386213

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