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1.  Genome-Wide Analysis of Copy Number Variation Identifies Candidate Gene Loci Associated with the Progression of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95604.
Between 10 and 25% of individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) develop hepatic fibrosis leading to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To investigate the molecular basis of disease progression, we performed a genome-wide analysis of copy number variation (CNV) in a total of 49 patients with NAFLD [10 simple steatosis and 39 non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)] and 49 matched controls using high-density comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) microarrays. A total of 11 CNVs were found to be unique to individuals with simple steatosis, whilst 22 were common between simple steatosis and NASH, and 224 were unique to NASH. We postulated that these CNVs could be involved in the pathogenesis of NAFLD progression. After stringent filtering, we identified four rare and/or novel CNVs that may influence the pathogenesis of NASH. Two of these CNVs, located at 13q12.11 and 12q13.2 respectively, harbour the exportin 4 (XPO4) and phosphodiesterase 1B (PDE1B) genes which are already known to be involved in the etiology of liver cirrhosis and HCC. Cross-comparison of the genes located at these four CNV loci with genes already known to be associated with NAFLD yielded a set of genes associated with shared biological processes including cell death, the key process involved in ‘second hit’ hepatic injury. To our knowledge, this pilot study is the first to provide CNV information of potential relevance to the NAFLD spectrum. These data could prove invaluable in predicting patients at risk of developing NAFLD and more importantly, those who will subsequently progress to NASH.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095604
PMCID: PMC3990722  PMID: 24743702
2.  Eating Behaviour among Multi-Ethnic Adolescents in a Middle-Income Country as Measured by the Self-Reported Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82885.
Background
Escalating weight gain among the Malaysian paediatric population necessitates identifying modifiable behaviours in the obesity pathway.
Objectives
This study describes the adaptation and validation of the Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ) as a self-report for adolescents, investigates gender and ethnic differences in eating behaviour and examines associations between eating behaviour and body mass index (BMI) z-scores among multi-ethnic Malaysian adolescents.
Methodology
This two-phase study involved validation of the Malay self-reported CEBQ in Phase 1 (n = 362). Principal Axis Factoring with Promax rotation, confirmatory factor analysis and reliability tests were performed. In Phase 2, adolescents completed the questionnaire (n = 646). Weight and height were measured. Gender and ethnic differences in eating behaviour were investigated. Associations between eating behaviour and BMI z-scores were examined with complex samples general linear model (GLM) analyses, adjusted for gender, ethnicity and maternal educational level.
Results
Exploratory factor analysis revealed a 35-item, 9-factor structure with ‘food fussiness’ scale split into two. In confirmatory factor analysis, a 30-item, 8-factor structure yielded an improved model fit. Reliability estimates of the eight factors were acceptable. Eating behaviours did not differ between genders. Malay adolescents reported higher Food Responsiveness, Enjoyment of Food, Emotional Overeating, Slowness in Eating, Emotional Undereating and Food Fussiness 1 scores (p<0.05) compared to Chinese and Indians. A significant negative association was observed between BMI z-scores and Food Fussiness 1 (‘dislike towards food’) when adjusted for confounders.
Conclusion
Although CEBQ is a valuable psychometric instrument, adjustments were required due to age and cultural differences in our sample. With the self-report, our findings present that gender, ethnic and weight status influenced eating behaviours. Obese adolescents were found to display a lack of dislike towards food. Future longitudinal and qualitative studies are warranted to further understand behavioural phenotypes of obesity to guide prevention and intervention strategies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082885
PMCID: PMC3857802  PMID: 24349385
3.  Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts Promote Proliferation of Endometrial Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68923.
Endometrial cancer is the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic malignancy worldwide; yet the tumor microenvironment, especially the fibroblast cells surrounding the cancer cells, is poorly understood. We established four primary cultures of fibroblasts from human endometrial cancer tissues (cancer-associated fibroblasts, CAFs) using antibody-conjugated magnetic bead isolation. These relatively homogenous fibroblast cultures expressed fibroblast markers (CD90, vimentin and alpha-smooth muscle actin) and hormonal (estrogen and progesterone) receptors. Conditioned media collected from CAFs induced a dose-dependent proliferation of both primary cultures and cell lines of endometrial cancer in vitro (175%) when compared to non-treated cells, in contrast to those from normal endometrial fibroblast cell line (51%) (P<0.0001). These effects were not observed in fibroblast culture derived from benign endometrial hyperplasia tissues, indicating the specificity of CAFs in affecting endometrial cancer cell proliferation. To determine the mechanism underlying the differential fibroblast effects, we compared the activation of PI3K/Akt and MAPK/Erk pathways in endometrial cancer cells following treatment with normal fibroblasts- and CAFs-conditioned media. Western blot analysis showed that the expression of both phosphorylated forms of Akt and Erk were significantly down-regulated in normal fibroblasts-treated cells, but were up-regulated/maintained in CAFs-treated cells. Treatment with specific inhibitors LY294002 and U0126 reversed the CAFs-mediated cell proliferation (P<0.0001), suggesting for a role of these pathways in modulating endometrial cancer cell proliferation. Rapamycin, which targets a downstream molecule in PI3K pathway (mTOR), also suppressed CAFs-induced cell proliferation by inducing apoptosis. Cytokine profiling analysis revealed that CAFs secrete higher levels of macrophage chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, RANTES and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) than normal fibroblasts. Our data suggests that in contrast to normal fibroblasts, CAFs may exhibit a pro-tumorigenic effect in the progression of endometrial cancer, and PI3K/Akt and MAPK/Erk signaling may represent critical regulators in how endometrial cancer cells respond to their microenvironment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068923
PMCID: PMC3724864  PMID: 23922669
4.  Linkage Disequilibrium between Polymorphisms of ABCB1 and ABCC2 to Predict the Treatment Outcome of Malaysians with Complex Partial Seizures on Treatment with Carbamazepine Mono-Therapy at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64827.
Purpose
Carbamazepine (CBZ) is used as the first line of treatment of Complex Partial Seizures (CPS) in the Epilepsy Clinic, Neurology Department of Kuala Lumpur Hospital (KLH). More than 30% of the patients remain drug resistant to CBZ mono-therapy. CBZ is transported by the P-glycoprotein (P-gp). The P-gp encoded by the ABCB1 and ABCC2 genes are expressed in drug resistant patients with epilepsy. A few studies have shown significant association between CBZ resistant epilepsy and Linkage Disequilibrium (LD) with adjacent polymorphisms of these genes. Our study is aimed at determining the correlation between patients' response to CBZ mono-therapy to Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms G2677T and C3435T of the ABCB1 gene as well as G1249A and −24C>T of the ABCC2 gene.
Method
314 patients with CPS were recruited from the Neurology Department of the KLH based on stringent inclusion and exclusion criteria, of whom 152 were responders and the other 162 were non-responders. DNA was extracted from their blood samples and Taqman technology for allelic discrimination was performed. Results were described as genotype frequencies. The SHEsis analysis platform was used to calculate linkage disequilibrium index and infer haplotype frequencies. Haploview was used to do permutation test to obtain a corrected p-value.
Results
Resistance to treatment with CBZ mono-therapy was significantly associated with the 2677TT and the 3435TT genotypes while it was not significantly associated with the G1249A and −24C>T polymorphisms. The GCGC haplotype combination of the 2677G>T, 3435C>T, 1249G>A and −24C>T respectively was found to be extremely significant (p = 1.10e−20) with good drug response to CBZ mono-therapy.
Conclusion
Linkage disequilibrium between the 2677G>T, 3435C>T, 1249G>A and −24C>T SNPs may be used as a reliable screening marker to determine the treatment outcome of CBZ mono-therapy with CPS irrespective of race or gender.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064827
PMCID: PMC3662793  PMID: 23717663
5.  Susceptibility and Gene Interaction Study of the Angiotensin II Type 1 Receptor (AGTR1) Gene Polymorphisms with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in a Multi-Ethnic Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58538.
Angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AGTR1) has been reported to play a fibrogenic role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this study, five variants of the AGTR1 gene (rs3772622, rs3772627, rs3772630, rs3772633, and rs2276736) were examined for their association with susceptibility to NAFLD. Subjects made up of 144 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients and 198 controls were genotyped using TaqMan assays. The liver biopsy specimens were histologically graded and scored according to the method of Brunt. Single locus analysis in pooled subjects revealed no association between each of the five variants with susceptibility to NAFLD. In the Indian ethnic group, the rs2276736, rs3772630 and rs3772627 appear to be protective against NAFLD (p = 0.010, p = 0.016 and p = 0.026, respectively). Haplotype ACGCA is shown to be protective against NAFLD for the Indian ethnic subgroup (p = 0.03). Gene-gene interaction between the AGTR1 gene and the patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3) gene, which we previously reported as associated with NAFLD in this sample, showed a strong interaction between AGTR1 (rs3772627), AGTRI (rs3772630) and PNPLA3 (rs738409) polymorphisms on NAFLD susceptibility (p = 0.007). Further analysis of the NAFLD patients revealed that the G allele of the AGTR1 rs3772622 is associated with increased fibrosis score (p = 0.003). This is the first study that replicates an association between AGTR1 polymorphism and NAFLD, with further details in histological features of NAFLD. There is lack of evidence to suggest an association between any of the five variants of the AGTR1 gene and NAFLD in the Malays and Chinese. In the Indians, the rs2276736, rs3772630 and rs3772627 appear to protect against NAFLD. We report novel findings of an association between the G allele of the rs3772622 with occurrence of fibrosis and of the gene-gene interaction between AGTR1gene and the much-studied PNPLA3 gene.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058538
PMCID: PMC3590220  PMID: 23484035
6.  Antipsychotic-like activity of Noni (Morinda citrifolia Linn.) in mice 
Background
Noni fruit is widely consumed in tropical regions of Indonesia to the Hawaiian Islands. The noni plant has a long history of use as a medicinal plant to treat a wide variety of ailments including CNS disorders. The present investigation was designed to evaluate the antipsychotic effect of noni fruits (Morinda citrifolia Linn.) using mouse models of apomorphine-induced climbing behaviour and methamphetamine-induced stereotypy (licking, biting, gnawing and sniffing).
Methods
In acute study, the methanolic extract of Morinda citrifolia (MMC) at different doses 1, 3, 5, 10 g/kg was administered orally one hour prior to apomorphine (5 mg/kg, i.p) and methamphetamine ( 5 mg/kg, i.p) injection respectively in Swiss albino mice. In chronic studies, (TAHITIAN NONI® Juice, TNJ) was made available freely in daily drinking water at 30, 50 and 100% v/v for 7 days; 30 and 50% v/v for 21 days respectively. On the test day, an equivalent average daily divided dose of TNJ was administered by oral gavage one hour prior to apomorphine treatment. Immediately after apomorphine/ methamphetamine administration, the animals were placed in the cylindrical metal cages and observed for climbing behaviour/ stereotypy and climbing time.
Results
The acute treatment of MMC (1, 3, 5, 10 g/kg, p.o) significantly decreased the apomorphine-induced cage climbing behaviour and climbing time in mice in a dose dependent manner. The MMC also significantly inhibited methamphetamine-induced stereotypy behaviour and climbing time in mice dose-dependently. The 7 and 21 days treatment of TNJ in drinking water at 50 and 100%v/v significantly alleviated the apomorphine-induced climbing behaviour and climbing time in mice.
Conclusions
The present study results demonstrated the antidopaminergic effect of Morinda citrifolia Linn. in mice, suggesting that noni has antipsychotic-like activity which can be utilized in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. However further studies are warranted to identify the active principles responsible for the antipsychotic activity of noni.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-186
PMCID: PMC3487797  PMID: 23082808
Noni fruits; Apomorphine; Methamphetamine; Dopamine; Stereotypy; Cage climbing
7.  Peripheral PDLIM5 expression in bipolar disorder and the effect of olanzapine administration 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:91.
Background
One of the genes suggested to play an important role in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BPD) is PDLIM5, which encodes LIM domain protein. Our main objective was to examine the effect of olanzapine treatment on PDLIM5 mRNA expression in the peripheral blood leukocytes of BPD patients.
Methods
We measured the expression of PDLIM5 mRNA from 16 patients with BPD Type I after 0, 4, and 8 weeks of treatment with olanzapine using quantitative real-time PCR. The Young Mania Rating Scale was used to evaluate the severity of manic symptoms in BPD patients. We also compared PDLIM5 mRNA expression in treatment-naïve BPD patients with that in healthy control subjects.
Results
No significant difference was found in PDLIM5 mRNA expression between patients before olanzapine treatment and following 4 and 8 weeks of treatment (p>0.05). Although we observed a significant reduction in the severity of manic symptoms in all BPD patients (p<0.05), the effectiveness of the medication did not significantly correlate with the expression of PDLIM5 mRNA (p>0.05). Interestingly, PDLIM5 mRNA expression differed significantly between treatment-naïve BPD patients and healthy control subjects (p=0.002).
Conclusion
PDLIM5 mRNA expression did not appear to be a reflection of the efficacy of olanzapine in reducing the manic symptoms of BPD. The significant difference in expression of PDLIM5 mRNA in the peripheral blood leukocytes of treatment-naïve BPD patients versus that of healthy control subjects, however, suggests that it may be a good biological marker for BPD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-91
PMCID: PMC3502145  PMID: 23031404
Bipolar disorder; Manic; Leukocytes; Olanzapine
8.  A multi-ethnic study of a PNPLA3 gene variant and its association with disease severity in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
Human Genetics  2012;131(7):1145-1152.
The adiponutrin (PNPLA3) rs738409 polymorphism has been found to be associated with susceptibility to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in various cohorts. We further investigated the association of this polymorphism with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) severity and with histological features of NAFLD. A total of 144 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients and 198 controls were genotyped for PNPLA3 gene polymorphism (rs738409 C>G). The biopsy specimens were histologically graded by a qualified pathologist. We observed an association of G allele with susceptibility to NAFLD in the pooled subjects (OR 2.34, 95% CI 1.69–3.24, p < 0.0001), and following stratification, in each of the three ethnic subgroups, namely Chinese, Indian and Malay (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.12–3.37, p = 0.018; OR 3.51, 95% CI 1.69–7.26, p = 0.001 and OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.25–3.35, p = 0.005, respectively). The G allele is associated with susceptibility to NASH (OR 2.64, 95% CI 1.85–3.75, p < 0.0001), with NASH severity (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.05–3.26, p = 0.035) and with presence of fibrosis (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.17–3.26, p = 0.013) but not with simple steatosis nor with other histological parameters. Although the serum triglyceride level is significantly higher in NAFLD patients compared to controls, the G allele is associated with decreased level of triglycerides (p = 0.029) in the NAFLD patients. Overall, the rs738409 G allele is associated with severity of NASH and occurence of fibrosis in patients with NAFLD.
doi:10.1007/s00439-012-1141-y
PMCID: PMC3374090  PMID: 22258181

Results 1-8 (8)