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1.  IL-6 mediates differentiation disorder during spermatogenesis in obesity-associated inflammation by affecting the expression of Zfp637 through the SOCS3/STAT3 pathway 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:28012.
Zfp637 is a recently identified zinc finger protein, and its functions remain largely unknown. Here, we innovatively demonstrate the effects of Zfp637 on the differentiation of mouse spermatogonia and on its downstream target gene SOX2 in vitro. Obesity has been recognized as a chronic inflammatory disease that leads to decreased sexual function and sexual development disorders. We observed higher levels of IL-6 in serum and testis homogenates from obese mice compared with control mice. We also demonstrated that high levels of IL-6 inhibited Zfp637 expression, and we elucidated the underlying mechanisms. SOCS3 overexpression and STAT3 phosphorylation inhibitor (AG490) were used to investigate the function of the SOCS3/STAT3 pathway during this process. Our results showed that exposure of mouse spermatogonial cells to high levels of IL-6 inhibited Zfp637 expression by increasing SOCS3 expression and inhibiting the phosphorylation of STAT3, further reducing cellular differentiation. Consistent with the in vitro results, we observed increasing expression levels of SOCS3 and SOX2, but a reduction of Zfp637 expression, in obese mouse testes. In conclusion, Zfp637 plays a crucial role in spermatogenesis by downregulating SOX2 expression, and IL-6 can decrease the expression of Zfp637 through the SOCS3/STAT3 signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC4916425  PMID: 27329259
2.  Use of Redundant Exclusion PCR To Identify a Novel Bacillus thuringiensis Cry8 Toxin Gene from Pooled Genomic DNA 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2016;82(13):3808-3815.
With the aim of optimizing the cloning of novel genes from a genomic pool containing many previously identified homologous genes, we designed a redundant exclusion PCR (RE-PCR) technique. In RE-PCR, a pair of generic amplification primers are combined with additional primers that are designed to specifically bind to redundant, unwanted genes that are a subset of those copied by the amplification primers. During RE-PCR, the specific primer blocks amplification of the full-length redundant gene. Using this method, we managed to clone a number of cry8 or cry9 toxin genes from a pool of Bacillus thuringiensis genomic DNA while excluding amplicons for cry9Da, cry9Ea, and cry9Eb. The method proved to be very efficient at increasing the number of rare genes in the resulting library. One such rare (and novel) cry8-like gene was expressed, and the encoded toxin was shown to be toxic to Anomala corpulenta.
IMPORTANCE Protein toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are being increasingly used as biopesticides against a wide range of insect pests, yet the search for new or improved toxins is becoming more difficult, as traditional methods for gene discovery routinely isolate previously identified clones. This paper describes an approach that we have developed to increase the success rate for novel toxin gene identification through reducing or eliminating the cloning of previously characterized genes.
PMCID: PMC4907210  PMID: 27084017
3.  Hot electron induced non-saturation current behavior at high electric field in InAlN/GaN heterostructures with ultrathin barrier 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37415.
The high-field transport characteristics of nearly lattice-matched InAlN/GaN heterostructures with different barrier thickness were investigated. It is found that the current in the InAlN/GaN heterostructures with ultrathin barrier shows unsaturated behaviors (or secondary rising) at high voltage, which is different from that of AlGaN/GaN heterostructures. This phenomenon is more obvious if the barrier thickness is thinner and the channel width is narrower. The experimental results demonstrate that it is the increasing carrier density excited from the more defect states by the hot electrons with larger electron saturation velocity that results in the unsaturated current behaviors in InAlN/GaN heterostructures. Our results pave a way for further optimizing InAlN barrier design and improving the reliability of InAlN/GaN HEMTs.
PMCID: PMC5120260  PMID: 27876766
4.  Navigation by anomalous random walks on complex networks 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37547.
Anomalous random walks having long-range jumps are a critical branch of dynamical processes on networks, which can model a number of search and transport processes. However, traditional measurements based on mean first passage time are not useful as they fail to characterize the cost associated with each jump. Here we introduce a new concept of mean first traverse distance (MFTD) to characterize anomalous random walks that represents the expected traverse distance taken by walkers searching from source node to target node, and we provide a procedure for calculating the MFTD between two nodes. We use Lévy walks on networks as an example, and demonstrate that the proposed approach can unravel the interplay between diffusion dynamics of Lévy walks and the underlying network structure. Moreover, applying our framework to the famous PageRank search, we show how to inform the optimality of the PageRank search. The framework for analyzing anomalous random walks on complex networks offers a useful new paradigm to understand the dynamics of anomalous diffusion processes, and provides a unified scheme to characterize search and transport processes on networks.
PMCID: PMC5120342  PMID: 27876855
5.  DNA barcoding of Mobulid Ray Gill Rakers for Implementing CITES on Elasmobranch in China 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37567.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been counted on for conserving threatened marine fish since it regulates the commercial international trade of these species. Implementation of the international treaty for Mantas included on CITES Appendix II is challenging due to insufficient information on species identification and markets management. To fill the gap in such aspects, we identified five species of Mobulid rays (Mobula spps. and Manta spp) by using COI and NADH2 mtDNA markers in dried ray gill rakers from Chinese markets, namely, Mobula japonica (representing 54.8% of the sample set), M. tarapacana (14.4%), M. kuhlii (13.3%), M. thurstoni (6.4%), along with Manta birostris (11.2%; CITES Appendix II). The utilization and conservation statuses of these species were discussed. Based on combination of DNA barcodes and key morphological characters, we developed a three-step process for identifying the gill rakers of Mobulid rays which has been adopted by frontline enforcement in China. We hope that our work can serve as a foundation and basis to reinforce objectives of international treaties, regulation of consumer-driven markets, regional cooperation, and national fishery management on endangered elasmobranchs in China as well as related countries.
PMCID: PMC5120345  PMID: 27876850
6.  Main Effects of Diagnoses, Brain Regions, and their Interaction Effects for Cerebral Metabolites in Bipolar and Unipolar Depressive Disorders 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37343.
Previous studies suggested patients with bipolar depressive disorder (BDd) or unipolar depressive disorder (UDd) have cerebral metabolites abnormalities. These abnormalities may stem from multiple sub-regions of gray matter in brain regions. Thirteen BDd patients, 20 UDd patients and 20 healthy controls (HC) were enrolled to investigate these abnormalities. Absolute concentrations of 5 cerebral metabolites (glutamate-glutamine (Glx), N-acetylaspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), myo-inositol (mI), creatine (Cr), parietal cortex (PC)) were measured from 4 subregions (the medial frontal cortex (mPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and parietal cortex (PC)) of gray matter. Main and interaction effects of cerebral metabolites across subregions of gray matter were evaluated. For example, the Glx was significantly higher in BDd compared with UDd, and so on. As the interaction analyses showed, some interaction effects existed. The concentrations of BDds’ Glx, Cho, Cr in the ACC and HCs’ mI and Cr in the PC were higher than that of other interaction effects. In addition, the concentrations of BDds’ Glx and Cr in the PC and HCs’ mI in the ACC were statistically significant lower than that of other interaction effects. These findings point to region-related abnormalities of cerebral metabolites across subjects with BDd and UDd.
PMCID: PMC5116758  PMID: 27869127
7.  A competing-risk-based score for predicting twenty-year risk of incident diabetes: the Beijing Longitudinal Study of Ageing study 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37248.
Few risk tools have been proposed to quantify the long-term risk of diabetes among middle-aged and elderly individuals in China. The present study aimed to develop a risk tool to estimate the 20-year risk of developing diabetes while incorporating competing risks. A three-stage stratification random-clustering sampling procedure was conducted to ensure the representativeness of the Beijing elderly. We prospectively followed 1857 community residents aged 55 years and above who were free of diabetes at baseline examination. Sub-distribution hazards models were used to adjust for the competing risks of non-diabetes death. The cumulative incidence function of twenty-year diabetes event rates was 11.60% after adjusting for the competing risks of non-diabetes death. Age, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose, health status, and physical activity were selected to form the score. The area under the ROC curve (AUC) was 0.76 (95% Confidence Interval: 0.72–0.80), and the optimism-corrected AUC was 0.78 (95% Confidence Interval: 0.69–0.87) after internal validation by bootstrapping. The calibration plot showed that the actual diabetes risk was similar to the predicted risk. The cut-off value of the risk score was 19 points, marking mark the difference between low-risk and high-risk patients, which exhibited a sensitivity of 0.74 and specificity of 0.65.
PMCID: PMC5110955  PMID: 27849048
8.  Increased CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3low cells alter the balance between Treg and Th17 cells in colitis mice 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2016;22(42):9356-9367.
To investigate the role of regulatory T cell (Treg) subsets in the balance between Treg and T helper 17 (Th17) cells in various tissues from mice with dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis.
Treg cells, Treg cell subsets, Th17 cells, and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+IL-17+ cells from the lamina propria of colon (LPC) and other ulcerative colitis (UC) mouse tissues were evaluated by flow cytometry. Forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3), interleukin 17A (IL-17A), and RORC mRNA levels were assessed by real-time PCR, while interleukin-10 (IL-10) and IL-17A levels were detected with a Cytometric Beads Array.
In peripheral blood monocytes (PBMC), mesenteric lymph node (MLN), lamina propria of jejunum (LPJ) and LPC from UC mice, Treg cell numbers were increased (P < 0.05), and FoxP3 and IL-10 mRNA levels were decreased. Th17 cell numbers were also increased in PBMC and LPC, as were IL-17A levels in PBMC, LPJ, and serum. The number of FrI subset cells (CD4+CD45RA+FoxP3low) was increased in the spleen, MLN, LPJ, and LPC. FrII subset cells (CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3high) were decreased among PBMC, MLN, LPJ, and LPC, but the number of FrIII cells (CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3low) and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+IL-17A+ cells was increased. FoxP3 mRNA levels in CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3low cells decreased in PBMC, MLN, LPJ, and LPC in UC mice, while IL-17A and RORC mRNA increased. In UC mice the distribution of Treg, Th17 cells, CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3high, and CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3low cells was higher in LPC relative to other tissues.
Increased numbers of CD4+CD45RA-FoxP3low cells may cause an imbalance between Treg and Th17 cells that is mainly localized to the LPC rather than secondary lymphoid tissues.
PMCID: PMC5107699  PMID: 27895423
Ulcerative colitis; Regulatory T cells; Treg cells subsets; T helper 17 cells
9.  Impaired T Cell-dependent Humoral Immune Response Associated with Juvenile-onset Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis Progression 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:36378.
Whether humoral immunity plays a role in HPV type 6 or 11 virus-mediated Juvenile-onset Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (JORRP) remains unknown. In the present study, serum total IgG level in 44 JORRP patients was significantly decreased compared with that in 40 healthy controls. Moreover, expanded CD3−CD19+ B cells with down-regulation of CD23, CD40, HLA-DR and up-regulation of CD86 expression were found in the peripheral blood of JORRP patients. Flow cytometry analysis of B-cell compartment showed that the frequency of both CD19+CD27hi plasma cells and CD19+CD27+ memory B cells were decreased in JORRP patients. Importantly, although the proportion of circulating CXCR5+PD1hi Tfh cells was not changed, the function of Tfh cells were greatly impaired with reduced ability of IL-21 secretion to promote B cell maturation. Association analysis by the Kaplan-Meier method revealed that IL-21 secreting Tfh cell was positively correlated to the CD27+ B cell subset frequency, the serum IgG level and the frequency of recurrence in JORRP patients, but negatively correlated to the percentage of IgD+CD27− B cell. We concluded that a reduced IL-21 secretion by Tfh cells may limit B cell maturation and antibody production in JORRP patients and Tfh cell-derived IL-21 might be associated with JORRP outcome in clinic.
PMCID: PMC5099571  PMID: 27821867
10.  Analysis of gene expression in the midgut of Bombyx mori during the larval molting stage 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:866.
Insects can be models for understanding human intestinal infection and pathology. Molting, a special period during which the old insect cuticle is shed and a new one is produced, is crucial for insect development. Holometabolous insects may experience several larva-to-larva moltings to become larger, a pupal molt and adult eclosion to become adults. During the larval molts, they stop feeding and become quiescent. Although the molting larvae become quiescent, it is not known if changes in microbiome, physiology, development and immunity of midguts occur.
Transcriptome analysis indicated that functions such as metabolism, digestion, and transport may become reduced due to the downregulated expression of many associated genes. During the molting stage, midguts harbor less microflora and DNA synthesis decreases. Both ecdysone and juvenile hormone in the larval midgut likely degrade after entering the larva-to-larva molting stage. However, at 12 h after ecdysis, the feeding larvae of 5th instars that were injected with 20-hydroxyecdysone entered a molting-like stage, during which changes in midgut morphology, DNA synthesis, gene expression, and microflora exhibited the same patterns as observed in the actual molting state.
This study is important for understanding insect midgut physiology, development and immunity during a special development stage when no food is ingested. Although the molting larva becomes immobile and quiescent, we demonstrate that numerous changes occur in midgut morphology, physiology, metabolism and microbiome during this period.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-3162-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5096333  PMID: 27809786
Midgut; Microflora; Larva-to-larva molting; Microarray
11.  Visceral Adipose MicroRNA 223 Is Upregulated in Human and Murine Obesity and Modulates the Inflammatory Phenotype of Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(11):e0165962.
Obesity in humans and mice is typified by an activated macrophage phenotype in the visceral adipose tissue (VAT) leading to increased macrophage-mediated inflammation. microRNAs (miRNAs) play an important role in regulating inflammatory pathways in macrophages, and in this study we compared miRNA expression in the VAT of insulin resistant morbidly obese humans to a non-obese cohort with normal glucose tolerance. miR-223-3p was found to be significantly upregulated in the whole omental tissue RNA of 12 human subjects, as were 8 additional miRNAs. We then confirmed that miR-223 upregulation was specific to the stromal vascular cells of human VAT, and found that miR-223 levels were unchanged in adipocytes and circulating monocytes of the non-obese and obese. miR-223 ablation increased basal / unstimulated TLR4 and STAT3 expression and LPS-stimulated TLR4, STAT3, and NOS2 expression in primary macrophages. Conversely, miR-223 mimics decreased TLR4 expression in primary macrophage, at the same time it negatively regulated FBXW7 expression, a well described suppressor of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling. We concluded that the abundance of miR-223 in macrophages significantly modulates macrophage phenotype / activation state and response to stimuli via effects on the TLR4/FBXW7 axis.
PMCID: PMC5094706  PMID: 27812198
13.  Propranolol decreases retention of fear memory by modulating the stability of surface glutamate receptor GluA1 subunits in the lateral amygdala 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2015;172(21):5068-5082.
Background and Purpose
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder with enhanced retention of fear memory and has profound impact on quality of life for millions of people worldwide. The β‐adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol has been used in preclinical and clinical studies for the treatment of PTSD, but the mechanisms underlying its potential efficacy on fear memory retention remain to be elucidated.
Experimental Approach
We investigated the action of propranolol on the retention of conditioned fear memory, the surface expression of glutamate receptor GluA1 subunits of AMPA receptors and synaptic adaptation in the lateral amygdala (LA) of rats.
Key Results
Propranolol attenuated reactivation‐induced strengthening of fear retention while reducing enhanced surface expression of GluA1 subunits and restoring the impaired long‐term depression in LA. These effects of propranolol were mediated by antagonizing reactivation‐induced enhancement of adrenergic signalling, which activates PKA and calcium/calmodulin‐dependent protein kinase II and then regulates the trafficking of AMPA receptors via phosphorylation of GluA1 subunits at the C‐terminus. Both i.p. injection and intra‐amygdala infusion of propranolol attenuated reactivation‐induced enhancement of fear retention.
Conclusions and Implications
Reactivation strengthens fear retention by increasing the level of noradrenaline and promotes the surface expression of GluA1 subunits and the excitatory synaptic transmission in LA. These findings uncover one mechanism underlying the efficiency of propranolol on retention of fear memories and suggest that β‐adrenoceptor antagonists, which act centrally, may be more suitable for the treatment of PTSD.
PMCID: PMC4687796  PMID: 26228348
14.  The Uyghur population and genetic susceptibility to type 2 diabetes: potential role for variants in CAPN10,APM1 and FUT6 genes 
Genome‐wide association studies have successfully identified over 70 loci associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in multiple populations of European ancestry. However, the risk attributable to an individual variant is modest and does not yet provide convincing evidence for clinical utility. Association between these established genetic variants and T2DM in general populations is hitherto understudied in the isolated populations, such as the Uyghurs, resident in Hetian, far southern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. In this case–control study, we genotyped 13 single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 10 genes associated with diabetes in 130 cases with T2DM and 135 healthy controls of Uyghur, a Chinese minority ethnic group. Three of the 13 SNPs demonstrated significant association with T2DM in the Uyghur population. There were significant differences between the T2DM patients and controls in the risk allele distributions of rs3792267 (CAPN10) (P = 0.002), rs1501299 (APM1) (P = 0.017), and rs3760776 (FUT6) (P = 0.031). Allelic carriers of rs3792267‐A, rs1501299‐T, and rs3760776‐T had a 2.24‐fold [OR (95% CI): 1.35–3.71], 0.59‐fold [OR (95% CI): 0.39–0.91], 0.57‐fold [OR (95% CI): 0.34–0.95] increased risk for T2DM respectively. We further confirmed that the cumulative risk allelic scores calculated from the 13 susceptibility loci for T2DM differed significantly between the T2DM patients and controls (P = 0.001), and the effect of obesity/overweight on T2DM was only observed in the subjects with a combined risk allelic score under a value of 17. This study observed that the SNPs rs3792267 in CAPN10, rs1501299 in APM1, and rs3760776 in FUT6 might serve as potential susceptible biomarkers for T2DM in Uyghurs. The cumulative risk allelic scores of multiple loci with modest individual effects are also significant risk factors in Uyghurs for T2DM, particularly among non‐obese individuals. This is the first investigation having observed/found genetic variations on genetic loci functionally linked with glycosylation associated with the risk of T2DM in a Uyghur population.
PMCID: PMC5082412  PMID: 27374856
type 2 diabetes; susceptibility loci; CAPN10; APM1; FUT6; Uyghur
15.  Pleiotropic Functions of Glutathione S-Transferase P 
Advances in cancer research  2014;122:143-175.
Glutathione S-transferase P (GSTP) is one member of the GST superfamily that is prevalently expressed in mammals. Known to possess catalytic activity through deprotonating glutathione allowing formation of thioether bonds with electrophilic substrates, more recent discoveries have broadened our understanding of the biological roles of this protein. In addition to catalytic detoxification, other properties so far ascribed to GSTP include chaperone functions, regulation of nitric oxide pathways, regulation of a variety of kinase signaling pathways, and participation in the forward reaction of protein S-glutathionylation. The expression of GSTP has been linked with cancer and other human pathologies and more recently even with drug addiction. With respect to human health, polymorphic variants of GSTP may determine individual susceptibility to oxidative stress and/or be critical in the design and development of drugs that have used redox pathways as a discovery platform.
PMCID: PMC5079281  PMID: 24974181
16.  Does ventilator-associated event surveillance detect ventilator-associated pneumonia in intensive care units? A systematic review and meta-analysis 
Critical Care  2016;20:338.
Ventilator-associated event (VAE) is a new surveillance paradigm for monitoring complications in mechanically ventilated patients in intensive care units (ICUs). The National Healthcare Safety Network replaced traditional ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) surveillance with VAE surveillance in 2013. The objective of this study was to assess the consistency between VAE surveillance and traditional VAP surveillance.
We systematically searched electronic reference databases for articles describing VAE and VAP in ICUs. Pooled VAE prevalence, pooled estimates (sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV)) of VAE for the detection of VAP, and pooled estimates (weighted mean difference (WMD) and odds ratio ([OR)) of risk factors for VAE compared to VAP were calculated.
From 2191 screened titles, 18 articles met our inclusion criteria, representing 61,489 patients receiving mechanical ventilation at ICUs in eight countries. The pooled prevalence rates of ventilator-associated conditions (VAC), infection-related VAC (IVAC), possible VAP, probable VAP, and traditional VAP were 13.8 %, 6.4 %, 1.1 %, 0.9 %, and 11.9 %, respectively. Pooled sensitivity and PPV of each VAE type for VAP detection did not exceed 50 %, while pooled specificity and NPV exceeded 80 %. Compared with VAP, pooled ORs of in-hospital death were 1.49 for VAC and 1.76 for IVAC; pooled WMDs of hospital length of stay were −4.27 days for VAC and −5.86 days for IVAC; and pooled WMDs of ventilation duration were −2.79 days for VAC and −2.89 days for IVAC.
VAE surveillance missed many cases of VAP, and the population characteristics identified by the two surveillance paradigms differed. VAE surveillance does not accurately detect cases of traditional VAP in ICUs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-016-1506-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5075751  PMID: 27772529
Ventilator-associated events VAE; Ventilator-associated pneumonia VAP; Surveillance; Meta-analysis
18.  Autoimmune Hepatitis-related Cirrhosis: Clinical Features and Effectiveness of Immunosuppressive Treatment in Chinese Patients 
Chinese Medical Journal  2016;129(20):2434-2440.
The long-term outcomes of patients with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) given the immunosuppressive treatment are considered to be preferable. However, little is known about the response of AIH patients with cirrhosis to immunosuppressive treatment. We assessed the effects of immunosuppressive therapy in Chinese AIH patients with cirrhosis from a tertiary hospital.
Patients with a clinical diagnosis of AIH January 2000 and December 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. Two-hundred and fourteen patients who were followed up and satisfied the simplified AIH criteria were included in the study. Among these patients, 87 presented with cirrhosis when initially diagnosed for AIH. Immunosuppressive treatments were employed in 57 AIH patients who did not present with cirrhosis and 39 patients who presented with cirrhosis. Initial responses to immunosuppressive treatment of patients with and without cirrhosis were analyzed. Independent risk factors were assessed for predicting the prognosis of patients. The t-test and Cox regression statistical analysis were used.
In total, 96 AIH patients including 39 with cirrhosis and 57 without cirrhosis underwent immunosuppressive therapy. The overall complete remission after initial immunosuppressive treatment was achieved in 81/96 patients (84.4%), whereas 9/96 (9.4%) achieved incomplete response, and 6/96 (6.3%) occurred treatment failure. Compared to noncirrhotic patients, patients who presented with cirrhosis responded to treatment to a comparable extent regarding complete response (noncirrhosis 50/57 [87.7%] vs. cirrhosis 31/39 [79.5%], P = 0.275), incomplete remission (noncirrhosis 4/57 [7.0%] vs. cirrhosis 5/39 [12.8%], P = 0.338), and treatment failure (noncirrhosis 3/57 [5.3%] vs. cirrhosis 3/39 [7.7%], P = 0.629). Importantly, the remission rate was comparable (54/57 [94.7%] and 36/39 [92.3%], P = 0.629) for noncirrhotic and cirrhotic patients after immunosuppressive therapy. Compared to patients who maintained remission (n = 19) after drug withdrawal, patients who experienced relapse (n = 17) had significantly higher levels of serum immunoglobulin G at entry (15.0 ± 6.5 g/L vs. 22.3 ± 5.8 g/L, t = 2.814, P = 0.004). Moreover, cirrhosis at presentation significantly increased the risk of disease exacerbation (hazard ratio [HR]: 4.603; P = 0.002). The treatment of immunosuppressant (HR: 0.058; P = 0.005) and the level of aspartate aminotransferase at presentation (HR: 1.002; P = 0.017) also increased the risk of disease progression.
The efficacy of initial immunosuppressive treatment in AIH patients with cirrhosis is comparable to that in those without cirrhosis. Cirrhotic patients not treated by immunosuppressants have poor long-term outcomes.
PMCID: PMC5072255  PMID: 27748335
Autoimmune Hepatitis; Immunosuppressive Agents; Liver Cirrhosis; Treatment Outcome
19.  Photoluminescent Metal–Organic Frameworks for Gas Sensing 
Advanced Science  2016;3(7):1500434.
Luminescence of porous coordination polymers (PCPs) or metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) is sensitive to the type and concentration of chemical species in the surrounding environment, because these materials combine the advantages of the highly regular porous structures and various luminescence mechanisms, as well as diversified host‐guest interactions. In the past few years, luminescent MOFs have attracted more and more attention for chemical sensing of gas‐phase analytes, including common gases and vapors of solids/liquids. While liquid‐phase and gas‐phase luminescence sensing by MOFs share similar mechanisms such as host‐guest electron and/or energy transfer, exiplex formation, and guest‐perturbing of excited‐state energy level and radiation pathways, via various types of host‐guest interactions, gas‐phase sensing has its unique advantages and challenges, such as easy utilization of encapsulated guest luminophores and difficulty for accurate measurement of the intensity change. This review summarizes recent progresses by using luminescent MOFs as reusable sensing materials for detection of gases and vapors of solids/liquids especially for O2, highlighting various strategies for improving the sensitivity, selectivity, stability, and accuracy, reducing the materials cost, and developing related devices.
PMCID: PMC5069648  PMID: 27818903
gas; luminescence; porous coordination polymer; sensor; vapor
20.  An Apple Fruit Fermentation (AFF) Treatment Improves the Composition of the Rhizosphere Microbial Community and Growth of Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch ‘Benihoppe’) Seedlings 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0164776.
Plant growth can be promoted by the application of apple fruit fermentation (AFF), despite unclear of the underlying mechanisms, the effects involved in AFF on rhizosphere microorganisms have been hypothesized. We investigated the consequences of applying AFF alone or in combination with Bacillus licheniformis to strawberry tissue culture seedlings in vitro, the analyses of Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) and 16S rDNA were performed to determine AFF effects on rhizosphere. Moreover, the growth index and antioxidant enzyme activities were determined 30 days after treatments. We identified five dominant bacteria in AFF: Coprinus atramentarius, Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus licheniformis, Weissella and B. subtilis. The greatest number of bacterial species were observed in the rhizosphere of control matrix (water treated), and the lowest diversity appeared in the rhizosphere soil treated with 108 cfu/mL B. licheniformis alone. Combining AFF plus B. licheniformis in one treatment resulted in the largest leaf area, plant height, root length, plant weight, and the markedly higher activities of antioxidant enzymes. We conclude that a combination of AFF plus B. licheniformis treatment to matrix can increase antioxidant enzymes activities in strawberry seedlings, optimize the status of rhizosphere microbial, and promote plant growth.
PMCID: PMC5068704  PMID: 27755580
21.  China suboptimal health cohort study: rationale, design and baseline characteristics 
Suboptimal health status (SHS) is a physical state between health and disease, characterized by the perception of health complaints, general weakness, chronic fatigue and low energy levels. SHS is proposed by the ancient concept of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) from the perspective of preservative, predictive and personalized (precision) medicine. We previously created the suboptimal health status questionnaire 25 (SHSQ-25), a novel instrument to measure SHS, validated in various populations. SHSQ-25 thus affords a window of opportunity for early detection and intervention, contributing to the reduction of chronic disease burdens.
To investigate the causative effect of SHS in non-communicable chronic diseases (NCD), we initiated the China suboptimal health cohort study (COACS), a longitudinal study starting from 2013. Phase I of the study involved a cross-sectional survey aimed at identifying the risk/protective factors associated with SHS; and Phase II: a longitudinal yearly follow-up study investigating how SHS contributes to the incidence and pattern of NCD.
(1) Cross-sectional survey: in total, 4313 participants (53.8 % women) aged from 18 to 65 years were included in the cohort. The prevalence of SHS was 9.0 % using SHS score of 35 as threshold. Women showed a significantly higher prevalence of SHS (10.6 % in the female vs. 7.2 % in the male, P < 0.001). Risk factors for chronic diseases such as socioeconomic status, marital status, highest education completed, physical activity, salt intake, blood pressure and triglycerides differed significantly between subjects of SHS (SHS score ≥35) and those of ideal health (SHS score <35). (2) Follow up: the primary and secondary outcomes will be monitored from 2015 to 2024.
The sex-specific difference in prevalence of SHS might partly explain the gender difference of incidence of certain chronic diseases. The COACS will enable a thorough characterization of SHS and establish a cohort that will be used for longitudinal analyses of the interaction between the genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to the onset and etiology of targeted chronic diseases. The study together with the designed prospective cohort provides a chance to characterize and evaluate the effect of SHS systemically, and it thus generates an unprecedented opportunity for the early detection and prevention of chronic disease.
PMCID: PMC5064923  PMID: 27737677
Suboptimal health status (SHS); Non-communicable chronic disease (NCD); Cardiovascular events; Cerebrovascular events; Cohort study
22.  The association between polymorphisms in the PDCD1 gene and the risk of cancer 
Medicine  2016;95(40):e4423.
Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text
The effects of the programed cell death 1 (PDCD1) gene polymorphisms on cancer risk have been investigated in some studies; however, the results were conflicting and ambiguous. Therefore, we aimed to do a meta-analysis to investigate the association of PDCD1 polymorphisms with cancer risk from all eligible case–control studies.
Materials and methods:
An electronic search of the PubMed, Embase, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, and Wanfang databases was performed. The association between PDCD1 polymorphisms with cancer risk was calculated with odds ratios (ORs) and their corresponding 95% of confidence intervals (CIs).
A total of 24 case–control studies from 13 articles that investigated the associations of 5 widely studied polymorphisms in PDCD1 gene and cancer risks were included. The results of meta-analysis: the PDCD-1.5 (rs2227981) and PDCD-1.3 (rs11568821) polymorphisms were associated with decreased risk of cancer (rs2227981: OR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.64–0.86, P < 0.0001 for TT vs TC + CC; rs11568821: OR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.65–0.96, P = 0.02 for TC vs TT), while no significant associations were found for the other 3 polymorphisms (PDCD-1.9 [rs2227982] polymorphism: OR = 1.03, 95% CI: 0.90–1.18, P = 0.66 for CC + TC vs TT; PDCD1 rs7421861 polymorphism: OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 0.96–1.25, P = 0.16 for CC + TC vs TT; PDCD-1.6 [rs10204525] polymorphism: OR = 0.93, 95% CI: 0.82–1.05, P = 0.24 for GG + GA vs AA).
The meta-analysis suggests that the PDCD-1.5 (rs2227981) and PDCD-1.3 (rs11568821) polymorphisms are associated with susceptibility of cancer. Further studies with larger sample sizes are required to make a better assessment of the above association.
PMCID: PMC5059026  PMID: 27749524
cancer; meta-analysis; PDCD1; polymorphism
23.  SDF-1/CXCR7 axis regulates the proliferation, invasion, adhesion, and angiogenesis of gastric cancer cells 
More recent studies have revealed that chemokine receptor CXCR7 plays an important role in cancer development. However, little is known about the effect of CXCR7 on the process of gastric cancer cell invasion and angiogenesis. The aim of this study is to investigate the expression of CXCR7 in gastric cancer cell lines and to evaluate the role of CXCR7 in the proliferation, invasion, adhesion, and angiogenesis of gastric cancer cells.
Real-time PCR and Western blotting were used to examine the mRNA and protein levels of CXCR4 and CXCR7 in five gastric cancer cell lines (HGC-27, MGC-803, BGC-823, SGC-7901, and MKN-28). CXCR7-expressing shRNA was constructed and subsequently stably transfected into the human gastric cancer cells. In addition, the effect of CXCR7 inhibition on cell proliferation, invasion, adhesion, VEGF secretion, and tube formation was evaluated.
The mRNA and protein of CXCR7 were expressed in all five gastric cancer cell lines; in particular, the expression of CXCR7 was the highest in SGC-7901 cells. Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) was found to induce proliferation, invasion, adhesion, and tube formation. Moreover, the VEGF secretion in SGC-7901 cells was also enhanced by SDF-1 stimulation. These biological effects were inhibited by the silencing of CXCR7 in SGC-7901 cells.
Increased CXCR7 expression was found in gastric cancer cells. Knockdown of CXCR7 expression by transfection with CXCR7shRNA significantly inhibits SGC-7901 cells’ proliferation, invasion, adhesion, and angiogenesis. This study provides new insights into the significance of CXCR7 in the invasion and angiogenesis of gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC5052806  PMID: 27716367
Gastric cancer; Chemokines; Stromal cell-derived factor-1; CXC chemokine receptor-7; Metastasis
24.  Elevated Expression of Calpain-4 Predicts Poor Prognosis in Patients with Gastric Cancer after Gastrectomy 
Calpain-4 belongs to the calpain family of calcium-dependent cysteine proteases, and functions as a small regulatory subunit of the calpains. Recent evidence indicates that calpain-4 plays critical roles in tumor migration and invasion. However, the roles of calpain-4 in gastric tumorigenesis remain poorly understood. Herein, we examined calpain-4 expression by immunohistochemical staining on tissue microarrays containing tumor samples of 174 gastric cancer patients between 2004 and 2008 at a single center. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to compare survival curves, and expression levels were correlated to clinicopathological factors and overall survival. Our data demonstrated that calpain-4 was generally increased in gastric cancer cell lines and primary tumor tissues. High expression of calpain-4 was positively associated with vessel invasion, lymph node metastasis, and advanced TNM (Tumor Node Metastasis) stage. Multivariate analysis identified calpain-4 as an independent prognostic factor for poor prognosis. A predictive nomogram integrating calpain-4 expression with other independent prognosticators was constructed, which generated a better prognostic value for overall survival of gastric cancer patients than a TNM staging system. In conclusion, calpain-4 could be regarded as a potential prognosis indicator for clinical outcomes in gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC5085645  PMID: 27689993
gastric cancer; calpain-4; prognosis; biomarker; overall survival; nomogram

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