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1.  Does the Arcto-Tertiary Biogeographic Hypothesis Explain the Disjunct Distribution of Northern Hemisphere Herbaceous Plants? The Case of Meehania (Lamiaceae) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117171.
Despite considerable progress, many details regarding the evolution of the Arcto-Tertiary flora, including the timing, direction, and relative importance of migration routes in the evolution of woody and herbaceous taxa of the Northern Hemisphere, remain poorly understood. Meehania (Lamiaceae) comprises seven species and five subspecies of annual or perennial herbs, and is one of the few Lamiaceae genera known to have an exclusively disjunct distribution between eastern Asia and eastern North America. We analyzed the phylogeny and biogeographical history of Meehania to explore how the Arcto-Tertiary biogeographic hypothesis and two possible migration routes explain the disjunct distribution of Northern Hemisphere herbaceous plants. Parsimony and Bayesian inference were used for phylogenetic analyses based on five plastid sequences (rbcL, rps16, rpl32-trnH, psbA-trnH, and trnL-F) and two nuclear (ITS and ETS) gene regions. Divergence times and biogeographic inferences were performed using Bayesian methods as implemented in BEAST and S-DIVA, respectively. Analyses including 11 of the 12 known Meehania taxa revealed incongruence between the chloroplast and nuclear trees, particularly in the positions of Glechoma and Meehania cordata, possibly indicating allopolyploidy with chloroplast capture in the late Miocene. Based on nrDNA, Meehania is monophyletic, and the North American species M. cordata is sister to a clade containing the eastern Asian species. The divergence time between the North American M. cordata and the eastern Asian species occurred about 9.81 Mya according to the Bayesian relaxed clock methods applied to the combined nuclear data. Biogeographic analyses suggest a primary role of the Arcto-Tertiary flora in the study taxa distribution, with a northeast Asian origin of Meehania. Our results suggest an Arcto-Tertiary origin of Meehania, with its present distribution most probably being a result of vicariance and southward migrations of populations during climatic oscillations in the middle Miocene with subsequent migration into eastern North America via the Bering land bridge in the late Miocene.
PMCID: PMC4319762  PMID: 25658699
2.  A Sexually Dimorphic Corolla Appendage Affects Pollen Removal and Floral Longevity in Gynodioecious Cyananthus delavayi (Campanulaceae) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0117149.
The floral traits of bisexual flowers may evolve in response to selection on both male and female functions, but the relative importance of selection associated with each of these two aspects is poorly resolved. Sexually dimorphic traits in plants with unisexual flowers may reflect gender-specific selection, providing opportunities for gaining an increased understanding of the evolution of specific floral traits. We examined sexually dimorphic patterns of floral traits in perfect and female flowers of the gynodioecious species Cyananthus delavayi. A special corolla appendage, the throat hair, was investigated experimentally to examine its influences on male and female function. We found that perfect flowers have larger corollas and much longer throat hairs than female flowers, while female ones have much exerted stigmas. The presence of throat hairs prolonged the duration of pollen presentation by restricting the amount of pollen removed by pollen-collecting bees during each visit. Floral longevity was negatively related to the rate of pollen removal. When pollen removal rate was limited in perfect flowers, the duration of the female phases diminished with the increased male phase duration. There was a weak negative correlation between throat hair length and seed number per fruit in female flowers, but this correlation was not significant in perfect flowers. These results suggest that throat hairs may enhance male function in terms of prolonged pollen presentation. However, throat hairs have no obvious effect on female function in terms of seed number per fruit. The marked sexual dimorphism of this corolla appendage in C. delavayi is likely to have evolved and been maintained by gender-specific selection.
PMCID: PMC4300179  PMID: 25603479
3.  Augmenter of liver regeneration ameliorates renal fibrosis in rats with obstructive nephropathy 
Bioscience Reports  2014;34(5):e00135.
Renal fibrosis is a hallmark in CKD (chronic kidney disease) and is strongly correlated to the deterioration of renal function that is characterized by tubulointerstitial fibrosis, tubular atrophy, glomerulosclerosis and disruption of the normal architecture of the kidney. ALR (augmenter of liver regeneration) is a growth factor with biological functions similar to those of HGF (hepatocyte growth factor). In this study, our results indicate that endogenous ALR is involved in the pathological progression of renal fibrosis in UUO (unilateral ureteral obstruction) rat model. Moreover, we find that administration of rhALR (recombinant human ALR) significantly alleviates renal interstitial fibrosis and reduces renal-fibrosis-related proteins in UUO rats. Further investigation reveals that rhALR suppresses the up-regulated expression of TGF-β1 (transforming growth factor β1) induced by UUO operation in the obstructed kidney, and inhibits Smad2 and Smad3 phosphorylation activated by the UUO-induced injury in the animal model. Therefore we suggest that ALR is involved in the progression of renal fibrosis and administration of rhALR protects the kidney against renal fibrosis by inhibition of TGF-β/Smad activity.
PMCID: PMC4155836  PMID: 24844766
augmenter of liver regeneration; renal fibrosis; Smads protein; transforming growth factor-β1; tubular epithelial–mesenchymal transition; ALR, augmenter of liver regeneration; CKD, chronic kidney disease; ECM, extracellular matrix; EMT, epithelial–mesenchymal transition; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase; HGF, hepatocyte growth factor; IgG, immunoglobulin G; rhALR, recombinant human ALR; RT, reverse transcription; TGF-β, transforming growth factor β; UUO, unilateral ureteral obstruction
4.  Head fat is a novel method of measuring metabolic disorder in Chinese obese patients 
Body adiposity, especially ectopic fat accumulation, has a range of metabolic and cardiovascular effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between head fat and metabolic values in Chinese obese patients.
Data of this cross-sectional study from 66 obese patients were collected. Fat distribution was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and data of body weight, body mass index (BMI), neck circumference (NC), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), visceral index, basal metabolism (BM), glucose metabolism, lipid levels, uric acid (UA) had been collected.
1) Head fat was significantly associated with BMI, WC, HC, visceral index, BM, total fat and total fat excluding head fat in both males and females (p < 0.05). Head fat was positively correlated with upper limb fat, trunk fat, weight, fasting plasma C peptide, fasting plasma insulin and UA in women(p < 0.05), and the association was not statistically significant in male (p > 0.05). Head fat was positively corrected with NC in males (p < 0.05) but not females (p > 0.05). There was no significant correlation between head fat and fasting plasma glucose, total choleslerolemia, triglyceridemia, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and free fat acid in either gender (p > 0.05). 2) Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that a head fat of 1925.6 g and a head fat of 1567.85 g were the best cut-off values to determine subjects with low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and hyperuricemia respectively.
Head fat accumulation was closely associated with increased body fat, hyperinsulinemia, hyperuricemia, and impared lipid profile, suggesting it might be used as an indicator for dyslipidemia and hyperuricemia.
PMCID: PMC4107932  PMID: 25015267
Obesity; Head fat; Regional fat; Lipid profile; Hyperuricemia
5.  Post-Boreotropical dispersals explain the pantropical disjunction in Paederia (Rubiaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(5):873-886.
Background and Aims
Pantropical intercontinental disjunction is a common biogeographical pattern in flowering plants exhibiting a discontinuous distribution primarily in tropical Asia, Africa and the Americas. Only a few plant groups with this pattern have been investigated at the generic level with molecular phylogenetic and biogeographical methods. Paederia (Rubiaceae) is a pantropical genus of 31 species of woody lianas, with the greatest species diversity in continental Asia and Madagascar and only two species from tropical America. The aim of this study was to reconstruct the biogeographical history of Paederia based on phylogenetic analyses to explore how the genus attained its pantropical distribution.
Maximum parsimony and Bayesian inference were used for phylogenetic analyses using sequences of five plastid markers (the rbcL gene, rps16 intron, trnT-F region, atpB-rbcL spacer and psbA-trnH spacer). Biogeographical inferences were based on a Bayesian uncorrelated lognormal relaxed molecular clock together with both Bayesian and likelihood ancestral area reconstructions.
Key Results
The data suggest an early diverged Asian lineage sister to the clade of the remaining species consisting of a predominantly Asian sub-clade and a primarily Malagasy sub-clade. Paederia is inferred to have originated in the Oligocene in tropical continental Asia. It then reached Africa in the early to middle Miocene, most probably via long-distance dispersal across the Indian Ocean. The two Neotropical species are inferred to have derived independently in the late Miocene from ancestors of Asia and East Africa, respectively.
The results demonstrate the importance of post-Boreotropical long-distance dispersals (across three major oceans) in shaping the global pantropical disjunction in some plants, such as Paederia, with small, winged diaspores adapted to long-distance dispersal by various agents including wind, ocean currents or birds. Overland migration is less likely to explain its palaeotropical disjunction between Asia and Africa.
PMCID: PMC3631337  PMID: 23478944
Intercontinental disjunction; long-distance dispersal; Paederia; pantropical; post-Boreotropical; Rubiaceae
6.  Evolutionary diversifications of plants on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau 
The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) is the highest and one of the most extensive plateaus in the world. Phylogenetic, phylogeographic, and ecological studies support plant diversifications on the QTP through multiple mechanisms such as allopatric speciation via geographic isolation, climatic oscillations and divergences, pollinator-mediated isolation, diploid hybridization and introgression, and allopolyploidy. These mechanisms have driven spectacular radiations and/or species diversifications in various groups of plants such as Pedicularis L., Saussurea DC., Rhododendron L., Primula L., Meconopsis Vig., Rhodiola L., and many lineages of gymnosperms. Nevertheless, much work is needed toward understanding the evolutionary mechanisms of plant diversifications on the QTP. Well-sampled biogeographic analyses of the QTP plants in the broad framework of the Northern Hemisphere as well as the Southern Hemisphere are still relatively few and should be encouraged in the next decade. This paper reviews recent evidence from phylogenetic and biogeographic studies in plants, in the context of rapid radiations, mechanisms of species diversifications on the QTP, and the biogeographic significance of the QTP in the broader context of both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere biogeography. Integrative multidimensional analyses of phylogeny, morphological innovations, geography, ecology, development, species interactions and diversifications, and geology are needed and should shed insights into the patterns of evolutionary assembly and radiations in this fascinating region.
PMCID: PMC3921583  PMID: 24575120
evolutionary radiations; Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau; QTP; biogeography; allopatric speciation; vicariance
7.  Preparation and evaluation of poly(2-hydroxyethyl aspartamide)-hexadecylamine-iron oxide for MR imaging of lymph nodes 
The purpose of this study was to synthesize biocompatible poly(2-hydroxyethyl aspartamide)–C16-iron oxide (PHEA-C16-iron oxide) nanoparticles and to evaluate their efficacy as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging of lymph nodes. The PHEA-C16-iron oxide nanoparticles were synthesized by coprecipitation method. The core size of the PHEA-C16-iron oxide nanoparticles was about 5 to 7 nm, and the overall size of the nanoparticles was around 20, 60, and 150 nm in aqueous solution. The size of the nanoparticles was controlled by the amount of C16. The 3.0-T MRI signal intensity of a rabbit lymph node was effectively reduced after intravenous administration of PHEA-C16-iron oxide with the size of 20 nm. The in vitro and in vivo toxicity tests revealed the high biocompatibility of PHEA-C16-iron oxide nanoparticles. Therefore, PHEA-C16-iron oxide nanoparticles with 20-nm size can be potentially useful as T2-weighted MR imaging contrast agents for the detection of lymph nodes.
PMCID: PMC3931668  PMID: 24438671
Magnetic resonance imaging; Lymph node; Ultrasuperparamagnetic iron oxide; Nanoparticles
8.  Association of Human Leukocyte Antigen Class I Polymorphism with Spontaneous Clearance of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen in Qidong Han Population 
Aim. To investigate whether HLA class I polymorphisms could influence the clearance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in Qidong Han population. Methods. We genotyped HLA-A, -B, and -C loci of 448 individuals with HBV persistent infection and 140 persons with spontaneous clearance of HBsAg by polymerase chain reaction with sequencing based typing (PCR/SBT). All the individuals were unrelated males enrolled from Qidong Han population and were followed up for 10 years. Results. The frequency of HLA-A∗33:03:01G was increased in persistent HBV infection group (P value is 0.028), while frequency of HLA-B∗13:01:01G was increased in HBsAg clearance group (P value is 0.0004). Conclusion. These findings suggested that the host HLA class I polymorphism is an important factor in determining the outcomes of HBV infection.
PMCID: PMC3845701  PMID: 24324503
9.  Combination of Human Leukocyte Antigen and Killer Cell Immunoglobulin-Like Receptor Genetic Background Influences the Onset Age of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Male Patients with Hepatitis B Virus Infection 
To investigate whether killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genetic background could influence the onset age of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, one hundred and seventy-one males with HBV-related HCC were enrolled. The presence of 12 loci of KIR was detected individually. HLA-A, -B, and -C loci were genotyped with high resolution by a routine sequence-based typing method. The effect of each KIR locus, HLA ligand, and HLA-KIR combination was examined individually by Kaplan-Meier (KM) analysis. Multivariate Cox hazard regression model was also applied. We identified C1C1-KIR2DS2/2DL2 as an independent risk factor for earlier onset age of HCC (median onset age was 44 for C1C1-KIR2DS2/2DL2 positive patients compared to 50 for negative patients, P = 0.04 for KM analysis; HR = 1.70, P = 0.004 for multivariate Cox model). We conclude that KIR and HLA genetic background can influence the onset age of HCC in male patients with HBV infection. This study may be useful to improve the current HCC surveillance program in HBV-infected patients. Our findings also suggest an important role of natural killer cells (or other KIR-expressing cells) in the progress of HBV-related HCC development.
PMCID: PMC3842051  PMID: 24312130
10.  Biodistribution of newly synthesized PHEA-based polymer-coated SPION in Sprague Dawley rats as magnetic resonance contrast agent 
The purpose of this study was to observe the pharmacokinetic behavior of newly synthesized biocompatible polymers based on polyhydroxyethylaspartamide (PHEA) to be used to coat an iron oxide core to make superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION).
Materials and methods
The isotopes [14C] and [59Fe] were used to label the polymer backbone (CLS) and iron oxide core (FLS), respectively. In addition, unradiolabeled cold superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION/ULS) were synthesized to characterize particle size by dynamic light scattering, morphology by transmission electron microscopy, and in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CLS and FLS were used separately to investigate the behavior of both the synthesized polymer and [Fe] in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats, respectively. Because radioactivity of the isotopes was different by β for CLS and γ for FLS, synthesis of the samples had to be separately prepared.
The mean particle size of the ULS was 66.1 nm, and the biodistribution of CLS concentrations in various organs, in rank order of magnitude, was liver > kidney > small intestine > other. The biodistribution of FLS concentrations was liver > spleen > lung > other. These rank orders show that synthesized SPION mainly accumulates in the liver. The differences in the distribution were caused by the SPION metabolism. Radiolabeled polymer was metabolized by the kidney and excreted mainly in the urine; [59Fe] was recycled for erythrocyte production in the spleen and excreted mainly in the feces. The MR image of the liver after intravenous injection demonstrated that [Fe] effectively accumulated in the liver and exhibited high-contrast enhancement on T2-weighted images.
This newly synthesized, polymer-coated SPION appears to be a promising candidate for use as a liver-targeted, biocompatible iron oxide MR imaging agent.
PMCID: PMC3817023  PMID: 24204138
SPION; radiolabeled; polyhydroxyethylaspartamide; pharmacokinetic; liver
11.  Establishment and primary clinical application of competitive inhibition for measurement of augmenter of liver regeneration 
The aim of the present study was to establish a quantitative method for the measurement of serum human augmenter of liver regeneration (hALR) using competitive inhibition that is applicable in the clinic. A monoclonal antibody to hALR was used as the primary antibody and the pure hALR protein was used as a standard for competition with Eu3+-labeled hALR (Eu3+-hALR) to plot a standard curve. Serum samples from 90 patients with various liver diseases due to hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection were used for a competitive reaction with Eu3+-hALR. A regression analysis of the results was performed using the standard curve to calculate the serum concentration of hALR. The minimum detectable value using direct competitive measurement established by Eu3+-hALR was 1 ng/ml, with a positive linear correlation within the range of 200 ng/ml. In the sera of the 90 patients, the hALR level in the severe hepatitis group was the highest, followed by that in the acute hepatitis group. The serum hALR levels in the cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis groups were significantly higher compared with those in the normal control groups (P<0.01). The direct competitive measurement method of serum hALR established in the present study has high sensitivity, specificity, stability and reliability, meets clinical requirements and may be used as potential index in clinical tests.
PMCID: PMC3861493  PMID: 24348771
human serum augmenter of liver regeneration; protein purification; monoclonal antibody; competitive inhibition
12.  Acidic α-galactosidase is the most abundant nectarin in floral nectar of common tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(4):735-745.
Background and Aims
To date, most floral nectarins (nectar proteins) are reported to function in nectar defence, particularly for insect-pollinated outcrossing species. We compared nectarin composition and abundance in selfing common tobacco (Nicotiana tobaccum) with outcrossing ornamental tobacco plants to elucidate the functional difference of nectarins in different reproductive systems.
Common tobacco (CT) nectarins were separated by SDS-PAGE and the N terminus of the most abundant nectarin was sequenced via Edman degradation. The full-length nectarin gene was amplified and cloned from genomic DNA and mRNA with hiTail-PCR and RACE (rapid amplification of cDNA ends), and expression patterns were then investigated in different tissues using semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR. Additionally, high-performance liquid chromatography and enzymatic analyses of nectar sugar composition, and other biochemical traits and functions of the novel nectarin were studied.
Key Results
The most abundant nectarin in CT nectar is an acidic α-galactosidase, here designated NTα-Gal. This compound has a molecular mass of 40 013 Da and a theoretical pI of 5·33. NTα-Gal has a conserved α-Gal characteristic signature, encodes a mature protein of 364 amino acids and is expressed in different organs. Compared with 27 other melliferous plant species from different families, CT floral nectar demonstrated the highest α-Gal activity, which is inhibited by d-galactose. Raffinose family oligosaccharides were not detected in CT nectar, indicating that NTα-Gal does not function in post-secretory hydrolysis. Moreover, tobacco plant fruits did not develop intact skin with galactose inhibition of NTα-Gal activity in nectar, suggesting that NTα-Gal induces cell-wall surface restructuring during the initial stages of fruit development.
α-Gal was the most abundant nectarin in selfing CT plants, but was not detected in the nectar of strictly outcrossing sister tobacco species. No function was demonstrated in antimicrobial defence. Therefore, floral nectarins in selfing species maintain their functional significance in reproductive organ development.
PMCID: PMC3286286  PMID: 22271925
α-galactosidase; Nicotiana tobacum; floral nectar; enzymatic activity; selfing syndrome
13.  The role of high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 expression in the differential diagnosis of hepatic actinomycosis: a case report 
Primary hepatic actinomycosis is a rare disease, but is important in the differential diagnosis of hepatoma in endemic areas. As high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, we postulate that high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 may have a possible pathogenic role in hepatic actinomycosis. To the best of our knowledge, our report is the first to detect an association between highly elevated high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 expression and hepatic actinomycosis.
Case presentation
A 67-year-old Chinese man was admitted to our hospital with a three-month history of epigastric pain, anorexia, and subjective weight loss. Ultrasonography and computed tomography of the patient’s abdomen confirmed a hypodense mass measuring seven cm in diameter in the left lateral segment of his liver. A hepatic tumor was suspected and surgical resection was scheduled. Histopathologic examination revealed that the overall features of the hepatic tissues were consistent with hepatic actinomycosis. Whole blood and hepatic tissue samples of the patient, of patients who had hepatocellular carcinoma and of healthy donors were collected. Serum high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 concentration in actinomycosis was 8.5ng/mL, which was higher than the hepatocellular carcinoma level of 5.2ng/mL and the normal level of
High mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 may have a potent biological effect on the pathogenesis of hepatic actinomycosis as a novel cytokine and may be a useful marker in the differential diagnosis of hepatic actinomycosis.
PMCID: PMC3573988  PMID: 23351605
Diagnosis; Hepatic actinomycosis; High mobility group box chromosomal protein 1; Tumor marker
Annals of Botany  2011;108(7):1257-1268.
Background and aims
Pollination-induced floral changes, which have been widely documented in flowering plants, have been assumed to enhance the plant's reproductive success. However, our understanding of the causes and consequences of these changes is still limited. Using an alpine gynodioecious species, Cyananthus delavayi, we investigated the factors affecting floral closure and estimated the fitness consequences of floral closure.
The timings of floral closure and fertilization were determined. The effects of pollen load, pollen type (cross- or self-pollen) and floral morph (female or perfect flower) on the occurrence of floral closure were examined. Ovule fertilization and seed production were examined to investigate the causes and consequences of floral closure. Flowers were manipulated to prevent closing to detect potential benefits for female fitness.
Key Results
Floral closure, which could be induced by a very low pollen load, occurred within 4–7 h after pollination, immediately following fertilization. The proportion of closed flowers was influenced by pollen load and floral morph, but not by pollen type. Floral closure was more likely to occur in flowers with a higher proportion of fertilized ovules, but there was no significant difference in seed production between closed and open flowers. Those flowers in which closure was induced by natural pollination had low fruit set and seed production. Additionally, seed production was not influenced by closing-prevented manipulation when sufficient pollen deposition was received.
The occurrence of floral closure may be determined by the proportion of fertilized ovules, but this response can be too sensitive to ensure sufficient pollen deposition and can, to some extent, lead to a cost in female fitness. These results implied that the control of floral receptivity by the recipient flowers does not lead to an optimal fitness gain in C. delavayi.
PMCID: PMC3197452  PMID: 21900256
Cyananthus delavayi; female fitness; floral closure; floral longevity; gynodioecy; pollination; post-pollination phenomenon; sexual conflict
To validate the role of high mobility group box-1(HMGB1) in diagnosis of acute appendicitis (AA) with different pathological severity.
According to the pathologically diagnosis, 150 patients underwent appendectomies between Jan. 2007 and Dec, 2010 were divided into acute simple, acute suppurative and acute gangrenous appendicitis as group 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Each patient group contains 50 sex and age matched cases to make comparison with 50 healthy volunteers. The mRNA and protein expression levels of serum HMGB1 were determined by real-time quantitative PCR and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Serum High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels were determined by rate nephelometric immunoassay.
In comparison with health volunteers, relative HMGB1 mRNA levels in group 1, 2 and 3 were significantly increased 3.05 ± 0.51,8.33 ± 0.75 and 13.74 ± 1.09 folds, reflecting a tendency of augmented severity. In accordance, serum protein levels of HMGB1 were 10.97 ± 1.64, 14.42 ± 1.56 and 18.08 ± 2.41 ng/ml in 3 patient groups, which are significantly higher than that of healthy volunteers’ 5.47 ± 0.73 ng/ml. hs-CRP levels were 12.85 ± 3.41, 21.04 ± 1.98 and 31.07 ± 5.46 ng/ml in 3 patients groups compared with 2.06 ± 0.77 ng/ml in controls. The concentrations of HMGB1 and hs-CRP were both positively correlated with disease severity.
Serum HMGB1 constitutes as a valuable marker in diagnosis of AA. Positively correlated with hs-CRP level, mRNA and protein expression of HMGB1 to a certain extent reflected the severity of AA.
PMCID: PMC3462672  PMID: 22947457
High mobility group box 1; High-sensitivity C-reactive protein; Acute appendicitis
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):462.
Ultrasound-sensitive (sonosensitive) liposomes for tumor targeting have been studied in order to increase the antitumor efficacy of drugs and decrease the associated severe side effects. Liposomal contrast agents having Gd(III) are known as a nano-contrast agent system for the efficient and selective delivery of contrast agents into pathological sites. The objective of this study was to prepare Gd(III)-DOTA-modified sonosensitive liposomes (GdSL), which could deliver a model drug, doxorubicin (DOX), to a specific site and, at the same time, be capable of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The GdSL was prepared using synthesized Gd(III)-DOTA-1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine lipid. Sonosensitivity of GdSL to 20-kHz ultrasound induced 33% to 40% of DOX release. The relaxivities (r1) of GdSL were 6.6 to 7.8 mM−1 s−1, which were higher than that of MR-bester®. Intracellular uptake properties of GdSL were evaluated according to the intensity of ultrasound. Intracellular uptake of DOX for ultrasound-triggered GdSL was higher than that for non-ultrasound-triggered GdSL. The results of our study suggest that the paramagnetic and sonosensitive liposomes, GdSL, may provide a versatile platform for molecular imaging and targeted drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC3522036  PMID: 22901317
Liposome; Ultrasound sensitivity; Contrast agent; Intracellular uptake; Doxorubicin
Childhood allergic diseases are a major concern because they lead to a heavy economic burden and poor quality of life. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of childhood atopic dermatitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis, and the comorbidity of allergic diseases in Seoul, Korea.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey between May and October 2010 to evaluate the prevalence of childhood allergic diseases, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis, using a questionnaire from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood group. Each questionnaire was completed by the parent or guardian of a child.
In the 31,201 children studied, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis symptoms in the past 12 months was 19.3% in children 0 to 3 years of age, 19.7% in children 4 to 6 years of age, 16.7% in children 7 to 9 years of age, and 14.5% in children 10 to 13 years of age (p for trend < 0.001). The prevalence of asthma in these age groups was 16.5%, 9.8%, 6.5%, and 5.4%, respectively (p for trend < 0.001). The prevalence of allergic rhinitis in these age groups was 28.5%, 38.0%, 38.5%, and 35.9%, respectively (p for trend = 0.043). The percentage of subjects with both atopic dermatitis and asthma, both asthma and allergic rhinitis, or both atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis was 2.5%, 4.7%, and 8.7%, respectively. The prevalence of comorbid allergic diseases decreased with age (p for trend < 0.001).
Our study revealed that the prevalence of some allergic diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and asthma, was relatively high in very young children and that all of the principal allergic diseases in children often co-exist.
PMCID: PMC3282234  PMID: 22359737
Allergic diseases; Allergic rhinitis; Asthma; Atopic dermatitis; Children; Prevalence
The Ampelopsis clade (Ampelopsis and its close allies) of the grape family Vitaceae contains ca. 43 species disjunctly distributed in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Australia, and is a rare example to study both the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere intercontinental disjunctions. We reconstruct the temporal and spatial diversification of the Ampelopsis clade to explore the evolutionary processes that have resulted in their intercontinental disjunctions in six continents.
The Bayesian molecular clock dating and the likelihood ancestral area analyses suggest that the Ampelopsis clade most likely originated in North America with its crown group dated at 41.2 Ma (95% HPD 23.4 - 61.0 Ma) in the middle Eocene. Two independent Laurasian migrations into Eurasia are inferred to have occurred in the early Miocene via the North Atlantic land bridges. The ancestor of the Southern Hemisphere lineage migrated from North America to South America in the early Oligocene. The Gondwanan-like pattern of intercontinental disjunction is best explained by two long-distance dispersals: once from South America to Africa estimated at 30.5 Ma (95% HPD 16.9 - 45.9 Ma), and the other from South America to Australia dated to 19.2 Ma (95% HPD 6.7 - 22.3 Ma).
The global disjunctions in the Ampelopsis clade are best explained by a diversification model of North American origin, two Laurasian migrations, one migration into South America, and two post-Gondwanan long-distance dispersals. These findings highlight the importance of both vicariance and long distance dispersal in shaping intercontinental disjunctions of flowering plants.
PMCID: PMC3299610  PMID: 22316163
Neuropharmacology  2010;60(2-3):244-251.
Although Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other mixed CB1/CB2 receptor agonists are well established to elicit antinociceptive effects, their psychomimetic actions and potential for abuse have dampened enthusiasm for their therapeutic development. Conversely, CB2 receptor-selective agonists have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, without eliciting apparent cannabinoid behavioral effects. In the present study, we developed a novel ethyl sulfonamide THC analog, O-3223, and compared its pharmacological effects to those of the potent, mixed CB1/CB2 receptor agonist, CP55,940, in battery of preclinical pain models. Competitive cannabinoid receptor binding experiments revealed that O-3223 was approximately 80-fold more selective for CB2 than CB1 receptors. Additionally, O-3223 behaved as full CB2 receptor agonist in [35S]GTPγS binding. O-3223 reduced nociceptive behavior in both phases of the formalin test, reduced thermal hyperalgesia in the chronic constrictive injury of the sciatic nerve (CCI) model, and reduced edema and thermal hyperalgesia elicited by intraplantar injection of LPS. These effects were blocked by pretreatment with the CB2 receptor-selective antagonist SR144528, but not by the CB1 receptor antagonist, rimonabant. Unlike CP55,940, O-3223 did not elicit acute antinociceptive effects in the hot-plate test, hypothermia, or motor disturbances, as assessed in the rotarod test. These data indicate that the CB2 receptor-selective agonist, O-3223, reduces inflammatory and neuropathic nociception, without affecting basal nociception or eliciting overt behavioral effects. Moreover, this compound can serve as a template to develop new CB2 receptor agonists with increased receptor selectivity and increased potency in treating inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC3021987  PMID: 20849866
Endogenous cannabinoid agonist; inflammation; neuropathic pain; CB1; CB2; lipopolysaccharide induced edema
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25682.
Natural killer (NK) cells activation has been reported to contribute to inflammation and liver injury during hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection both in transgenic mice and in patients. However, the role of NK cells in the process of HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development has not been addressed. Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are involved in regulating NK cell activation through recognition of specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I allotypes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To investigate whether KIR and HLA genes could influence the risk of HBV-associated HCC development, 144 HBV-infected patients with HCC and 189 well-matched HBV infectors with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis as non-HCC controls were enrolled in this study. The presence of 12 loci of KIR was detected individually. HLA-A, -B, -C loci were genotyped with high-resolution. HLA-C group 1 homozygote (OR = 2.02; p = 0.005), HLA-Bw4-80I (OR = 2.67; p = 2.0E-04) and combination of full-length form and 22 bp-deleted form of KIR2DS4 (KIR2DS4/1D) (OR = 1.89; p = 0.017) were found associated with HCC incidence. When the combined effects of these three genetic factors were evaluated, more risk factors were observed correlating with higher odds ratios for HCC incidence (P trend = 7.4E-05). Because all the risk factors we found have been reported to result in high NK cell functional potential by previous studies, our observations suggest that NK cell activation may contribute to HBV-associated HCC development.
In conclusion, this study has identified significant associations that suggest an important role for NK cells in HCC incidence in HBV-infected patients. Our study is useful for HCC surveillance and has implications for novel personalized therapy strategy development aiming at HCC prevention in HBV-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3187788  PMID: 21998681
Nanotechnology  2008;19(16):165101-.
The purpose of this study was to synthesize biocompatible polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)-coated iron oxide (PVP-IO) nanoparticles and to evaluate their efficacy as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent. The PVP-IO nanoparticles were synthesized by a thermal decomposition method and characterized by x-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and a superconducting quantum interface device (SQUID). The core size of the particles is about 8–10 nm and the overall size is around 20–30 nm. The measured r2 (reciprocal of T2 relaxation time) and r2∗ (reciprocal of T2∗ relaxation time) are 141.2 and 338.1 (s mM)−1, respectively. The particles are highly soluble and stable in various buffers and in serum. The macrophage uptake of PVP-IO is comparable to that of Feridex as measured by a Prussian blue iron stain and phantom study. The signal intensity of a rabbit liver was effectively reduced after intravenous administration of PVP-IO. Therefore PVP-IO nanoparticles are potentially useful for T2-weighted MR imaging.
PMCID: PMC3050625  PMID: 21394237
Annals of Botany  2009;105(1):89-100.
Background and Aims
Rhododendron (Ericaceae) is a large woody genus in which hybridization is thought to play an important role in evolution and speciation, particularly in the Sino-Himalaya region where many interfertile species often occur sympatrically. Rhododendron agastum, a putative hybrid species, occurs in China, western Yunnan Province, in mixed populations with R. irroratum and R. delavayi.
Material of these taxa from two sites 400 km apart (ZhuJianYuan, ZJY and HuaDianBa, HDB) was examined using cpDNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences, and amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) loci, to test the possibility that R. agastum was in fact a hybrid between two of the other species. Chloroplast trnL-F and trnS-trnG sequences together distinguished R. irroratum, R. delavayi and some material of R. decorum, which is also considered a putative parent of R. agastum.
Key Results
All 14 R. agastum plants from the HDB site had the delavayi cpDNA haplotype, whereas at the ZJY site 17 R. agastum plants had this haplotype and four had the R. irroratum haplotype. R. irroratum and R. delavayi are distinguished by five unequivocal point mutations in their ITS sequences; every R. agastum accession had an additive pattern (double peaks) at each of these sites. Data from AFLP loci were acquired for between ten and 21 plants of each taxon from each site, and were analysed using a Bayesian approach implemented by the program NewHybrids. The program confirmed the identity of all accessions of R. delavayi, and all R. irroratum except one, which was probably a backcross. All R. agastum from HDB and 19 of 21 from ZJY were classified as F1 hybrids; the other two could not be assigned a class.
Rhododendron agastum represents populations of hybrids between R. irroratum and R. delavayi, which comprise mostly or only F1s, at the two sites examined. The sites differ in that at HDB there was no detected variation in cpDNA type or hybrid class, whereas at ZJY there was variation in both.
PMCID: PMC2794068  PMID: 19887474
F1-dominated hybrid zone; species barrier; habitat disturbance; Rhododendron agastum; R. irroratum; R. delavayi
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(12):1970-1976.
Biocompatible poly-[N-(2-hydroxyethyl)-d,l-aspartamide]-methoxypoly(ethyleneglycol)-hexadecylamine (PHEA-mPEG-C16) conjugated with 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecan-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid-gadolinium (DOTA-Gd) via ethylenediamine (ED) was synthesized as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent. Amphiphilic PHEA-mPEG-C16-ED-DOTA-Gd forms micelle in aqueous solution. All the synthesized materials were characterized by proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR). Micelle size and shape were examined by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Micelles with PHEA-mPEG-C16-ED-DOTA-Gd showed higher relaxivities than the commercially available gadolinium contrast agent. Moreover, the signal intensity of a rabbit liver was effectively increased after intravenous injection of PHEA-mPEG-C16-ED-DOTA-Gd.
PMCID: PMC2991228  PMID: 21170410
MRI contrast agent; PHEA derivatives; Micelles; Nanoparticles; Gd contrast agent
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(12):1970-1976.
Biocompatible poly-[N-(2-hydroxyethyl)-d,l-aspartamide]-methoxypoly(ethyleneglycol)-hexadecylamine (PHEA-mPEG-C16) conjugated with 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecan-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid-gadolinium (DOTA-Gd) via ethylenediamine (ED) was synthesized as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent. Amphiphilic PHEA-mPEG-C16-ED-DOTA-Gd forms micelle in aqueous solution. All the synthesized materials were characterized by proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR). Micelle size and shape were examined by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Micelles with PHEA-mPEG-C16-ED-DOTA-Gd showed higher relaxivities than the commercially available gadolinium contrast agent. Moreover, the signal intensity of a rabbit liver was effectively increased after intravenous injection of PHEA-mPEG-C16-ED-DOTA-Gd.
PMCID: PMC2991228  PMID: 21170410
MRI contrast agent; PHEA derivatives; Micelles; Nanoparticles; Gd contrast agent
Hepatology International  2010;4(4):741-748.
The aim of this study was to explore the role of farnesoid X receptor (FXR) in liver lipid metabolism of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients.
In this study, pathology and clinical criteria confirmed NAFLD in patients. Fatty acid synthetase (FAS)-positive liver cells were visualized by laser scanning confocal microscopy. Levels of FXR, liver X receptor (LXR), sterol regulatory element binding protein 1C (SREBP-1C), and small heterodimer partner (SHP) proteins were detected by Western blot. FXR, LXR, and SHP mRNA levels were measured by real-time PCR.
In patients with NAFLD, a significant positive relationship between the degree of hepatic steatosis and serum triglycerides and cholesterol (correlation coefficient > 0.5, P < 0.05) was seen. The NAFLD patients had more FAS protein in liver, which suggests that there could have been more of fatty acid synthesis in hepatic cells (P < 0.05). The levels of FXR protein and mRNA were decreased in patients with NAFLD (P < 0.05), while those of LXR and SREBP-1C were increased (P < 0.05). The levels of SREBP-1C positively correlated with the degree of hepatic steatosis. There were no differences between the levels of SHP protein and mRNA both in NAFLD patients and normal controls (P > 0.05).
Our data showed that the decreased expression of hepatic FXR is associated with an increased expression of LXR, SREBP-1C, and hepatic triglyceride synthesis; furthermore, increased SREBP-1C is associated with the degree of hepatic steatosis in the NAFLD patients.
PMCID: PMC2994619  PMID: 21286345
FXR; Human; NAFLD; Lipid metabolism

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