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1.  MicroRNA-21 promotes phosphatase gene and protein kinase B/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase expression in colorectal cancer 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2016;22(24):5532-5539.
AIM: To explore the regulatory mechanism of the target gene of microRNA-21 (miR-21), phosphatase gene (PTEN), and its downstream proteins, protein kinase B (AKT) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells.
METHODS: Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot were used to detect the expression levels of miR-21 and PTEN in HCT116, HT29, Colo32 and SW480 CRC cell lines. Also, the expression levels of PTEN mRNA and its downstream proteins AKT and PI3K in HCT116 cells after downregulating miR-21 were investigated.
RESULTS: Comparing the miR-21 expression in CRC cells, the expression levels of miR-21 were highest in HCT116 cells, and the expression levels of miR-21 were lowest in SW480 cells. In comparing miR-21 and PTEN expression in CRC cells, we found that the protein expression levels of miR-21 and PTEN were inversely correlated (P < 0.05); when miR-21 expression was reduced, mRNA expression levels of PTEN did not significantly change (P > 0.05), but the expression levels of its protein significantly increased (P < 0.05). In comparing the levels of PTEN protein and downstream AKT and PI3K in HCT116 cells after downregulation of miR-21 expression, the levels of AKT and PI3K protein expression significantly decreased (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: PTEN is one of the direct target genes of miR-21. Thus, phosphatase gene and its downstream AKT and PI3K expression levels can be regulated by regulating the expression levels of miR-21, which in turn regulates the development of CRC.
PMCID: PMC4917613  PMID: 27350731
MicroRNA-21; Protein kinase B; Colorectal cancer; Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; Phosphatase and tensin homolog
2.  Inhibition by curcumin of multiple sites of the transforming growth factor-beta1 signalling pathway ameliorates the progression of liver fibrosis induced by carbon tetrachloride in rats 
At present there is no effective and accepted therapy for hepatic fibrosis. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 signaling pathway contributes greatly to hepatic fibrosis. Reducing TGF-β synthesis or inhibiting components of its complex signaling pathway represent important therapeutic targets. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of curcumin on liver fibrosis and whether curcumin attenuates the TGF-β1 signaling pathway.
Sprague–Dawley rat was induced liver fibrosis by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) for six weeks together with or without curcumin, and hepatic histopathology and collagen content were employed to quantify liver necro-inflammation and fibrosis. Moreover, the mRNA and protein expression levels of TGF-β1, Smad2, phosphorylated Smad2, Smad3, Smad7 and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) were determined by quantitative real time-PCR, Western blot, or immunohistochemistry.
Rats treated with curcumin improved liver necro-inflammation, and reduced liver fibrosis in association with decreased α-smooth muscle actin expression, and decreased collagen deposition. Furthermore, curcumin significantly attenuated expressions of TGFβ1, Smad2, phosphorylated Smad2, Smad3, and CTGF and induced expression of the Smad7.
Curcumin significantly attenuated the severity of CCl4-induced liver inflammation and fibrosis through inhibition of TGF-β1/Smad signalling pathway and CTGF expression. These data suggest that curcumin might be an effective antifibrotic drug in the prevention of liver disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3495222  PMID: 22978413
Curcumin; Hepatic stellate cells; Liver fibrosis; Transforming growth factor-beta; Smads; Connective tissue growth factor
3.  Significance of the Balance between Regulatory T (Treg) and T Helper 17 (Th17) Cells during Hepatitis B Virus Related Liver Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39307.
Hepatitis B virus-related liver fibrosis (HBV-LF) always progresses from inflammation to fibrosis. However, the relationship between these two pathological conditions is not fully understood. Here, it is postulated that the balance between regulatory T (Treg) cells and T helper 17 (Th17) cells as an indicator of inflammation may predict fibrosis progression of HBV-LF.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The frequencies and phenotypes of peripheral Treg and Th17 cells of seventy-seven HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients who underwent liver biopsies and thirty healthy controls were determined by flow cytometry. In the periphery of CHB patients, both Treg and Th17 frequencies were significantly increased and correlated, and a lower Treg/Th17 ratio always indicated more liver injury and fibrosis progression. To investigate exact effects of Treg and Th17 cells during HBV-LF, a series of in vitro experiments were performed using purified CD4+, CD4+CD25+, or CD4+CD25− cells from the periphery, primary human hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) isolated from healthy liver specimens, human recombinant interleukin (IL)-17 cytokine, anti-IL-17 antibody and HBcAg. In response to HBcAg, CD4+CD25+ cells significantly inhibited cell proliferation and cytokine production (especially IL-17 and IL-22) by CD4+CD25− cells in cell-contact and dose-dependent manners. In addition, CD4+ cells from CHB patients, compared to those from HC subjects, dramatically promoted proliferation and activation of human HSCs. Moreover, in a dramatically dose-dependent manner, CD4+CD25+ cells from CHB patients inhibited, whereas recombinant IL-17 response promoted the proliferation and activation of HSCs. Finally, in vivo evidence about effects of Treg/Th17 balance during liver fibrosis was obtained in concanavalin A-induced mouse fibrosis models via depletion of CD25+ or IL-17+ cells, and it’s observed that CD25 depletion promoted, whereas IL-17 depletion, alleviated liver injury and fibrosis progression.
The Treg/Th17 balance might influence fibrosis progression in HBV-LF via increase of liver injury and promotion of HSCs activation.
PMCID: PMC3380028  PMID: 22745730

Results 1-3 (3)