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1.  Gene expression profiles in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of ulcerative colitis patients 
AIM: To identify peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) gene expression profiles of ulcerative colitis (UC) patients, using oligonucleotide microarrays, to gain insights into UC molecular mechanisms.
METHODS: The Human OneArray microarrays were used for a complete genome-wide transcript profiling of PBMCs from 12 UC patients and 6 controls. Differential analysis per gene was performed with a random variance model; t test and P values were adjusted to control the false discovery rate (5%). Gene ontology (GO) was deployed to analyze differentially expressed genes at significant levels between patients and controls to identify the biological processes involved in UC.
RESULTS: Comparative analysis revealed that 4438 probes (4188 genes) were differentially expressed between the two groups, of which 3689 probes (3590 genes) were down-regulated whereas 749 probes (598 genes) were up-regulated. Many disregulated genes in our data have been reported by previous microarray studies carried out on intestinal mucosa samples, such as S100A8, CEACAM1 and S100A9. GO enrichment analysis revealed 67 high enrichment up-regulated categories and one significant down-regulated category. The up-regulated genes were mainly involved in immune and inflammatory response, cell cycle and proliferation, DNA metabolism and repair.
CONCLUSION: Gene expression profiling of PBMCs from patients with UC has highlighted several novel gene categories that could contribute to the pathogenesis of UC.
PMCID: PMC3671087  PMID: 23745037
Ulcerative colitis; Microarray; Gene ontology; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells
2.  Essential Role of Mast Cells in the Visceral Hyperalgesia Induced by T. spiralis Infection and Stress in Rats 
Mediators of Inflammation  2012;2012:294070.
Mast cells (MCs) deficient rats (Ws/Ws) were used to investigate the roles of MCs in visceral hyperalgesia. Ws/Ws and wild control (+/+) rats were exposed to T. spiralis or submitted to acute cold restraint stress (ACRS). Levels of proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR2) and nerve growth factor (NGF) were determined by immunoblots and RT-PCR analysis, and the putative signal pathways including phosphorylated extracellular-regulated kinase (pERK1/2) and transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) were further identified. Visceral hyperalgesia triggered by ACRS was observed only in +/+ rats. The increased expression of PAR2 and NGF was observed only in +/+ rats induced by T. spiralis and ACRS. The activation of pERK1/2 induced by ACRS occurred only in +/+ rats. However, a significant increase of TRPV1 induced by T. spiralis and ACRS was observed only in +/+ rats. The activation of PAR2 and NGF via both TRPV1 and pERK1/2 signal pathway is dependent on MCs in ACRS-induced visceral hyperalgesia rats.
PMCID: PMC3317356  PMID: 22529522
3.  Bacterial Community Mapping of the Mouse Gastrointestinal Tract 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e74957.
Keeping mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract communities in balance is crucial for host health maintenance. However, our understanding of microbial communities in the GI tract is still very limited. In this study, samples taken from the GI tracts of C57BL/6 mice were subjected to 16S rRNA gene sequence-based analysis to examine the characteristic bacterial communities along the mouse GI tract, including those present in the stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, cecum, colon and feces. Further analyses of the 283,234 valid sequences obtained from pyrosequencing revealed that the gastric, duodenal, large intestinal and fecal samples had higher phylogenetic diversity than the jejunum and ileum samples did. The microbial communities found in the small intestine and stomach were different from those seen in the large intestine and fecal samples. A greater proportion of Lactobacillaceae were found in the stomach and small intestine, while a larger proportion of anaerobes such as Bacteroidaceae, Prevotellaceae, Rikenellaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae were found in the large intestine and feces. In addition, inter-mouse variations of microbiota were observed between the large intestinal and fecal samples, which were much smaller than those between the gastric and small intestinal samples. As far as we can ascertain, ours is the first study to systematically characterize bacterial communities from the GI tracts of C57BL/6 mice.
PMCID: PMC3792069  PMID: 24116019
4.  Research gaps for three main tropical diseases in the People’s Republic of China 
This scoping review analyzes the research gaps of three diseases: schistosomiasis japonica, malaria and echinococcosis. Based on available data in the P.R. China, we highlight the gaps between control capacity and prevalence levels, and between diagnostic/drug development and population need for treatment at different stages of the national control programme. After reviewing the literature from 848 original studies and consultations with experts in the field, the gaps were identified as follows. Firstly, the malaria research gaps include (i) deficiency of active testing in the public community and no appropriate technique to evaluate elimination, (ii) lack of sensitive diagnostic tools for asymptomatic patients, (iii) lack of safe drugs for mass administration. Secondly, gaps in research of schistosomiasis include (i) incongruent policy in the implementation of integrated control strategy for schistosomiasis, (ii) lack of effective tools for Oncomelania sp. snail control, (iii) lack of a more sensitive and cheaper diagnostic test for large population samples, (iv) lack of new drugs in addition to praziquantel. Thirdly, gaps in research of echinococcosis include (i) low capacity in field epidemiology studies, (ii) lack of sanitation improvement studies in epidemic areas, (iii) lack of a sensitivity test for early diagnosis, (iv) lack of more effective drugs for short-term treatment. We believe these three diseases can eventually be eliminated in mainland China if all the research gaps are abridged in a short period of time.
PMCID: PMC3751495  PMID: 23895635
Schistosomiasis; Malaria; Echinococcosis; Epidemiology; Diagnosis; Chemotherapy; Research capacity building
5.  A comparative study of 22-channel water-perfusion system and solid-state system with 36-sensors in esophageal manometery 
BMC Gastroenterology  2012;12:157.
To compare the characteristics between 22-channel water-perfusion manometry (WPM) and solid-state manometry (SSM) with 36 sensors of the pressure measurements, as well as patients’ discomfort indices in nose and pharynx, the preparation and operation time of the manometry.
12 volunteers were included in the study. Each of the volunteers underwent esophageal manometry by both 22-channel water-perfusion catheter (WPC) and solid-state catheter (SSC) with 36 sensors in random order, and separated by 30 min. The subjects gave a VAS score soon after each test. Non-parametric tests were used to analyze the differences and Bland-Altman plots were used to assess the consistency of the two systems.
During the wet swallows, there were significant differences between the two systems in three measurements of location of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) upper margin (Z = -2.11, P = 0.035), LES relax ratio (Z = -2.20, P = 0.028) and IRP4s (Z = -2.05, P = 0.041). During the jelly pocket swallows, LES relax ratio measurements of the two systems showed significant differences (Z = -2.805, P = 0.005). Further Bland–Altman plots analysis presented good agreement between the two systems measurements of location of LES upper margin, LES relax ratio and IRP4s. The discomfort indices of subjects’ nasal sensation were higher when inserting the solid-state catheter [5(3.75-5)] than water-perfusion one (2.5(2-4)) (Z = -2.471, P = 0.013), as well as the discomfort indices of pharyngeal sensation (7.5(4.75-9) vs. 4.5(3.75-6.5)), (Z = -2.354, P = 0.019). The preparation time for WPC was 40(39-41) minutes, which was much longer than that for SSC 32.5(31.75-33) minutes, (Z = -3.087, P = 0.002). And the nurses reported it’s much easier to insert WPC (Z = -3.126, P = 0.002).
In conclusion, most pressure measurements were consistent between WPM and SSM. Patients tolerated better with WPC, while for operators, the SSC presented more convenient.
PMCID: PMC3503791  PMID: 23134719
22-channel water-perfusion manometry; Solid-state manometry (SSM) with 36 sensors; Pressure measurements; Patients’ tolerance; Operators’ convenience; Comparative study
6.  Differences in cerebral response to esophageal acid stimuli and psychological anticipation in GERD subtypes - An fMRI study 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:28.
To evaluate whether there are differences in the cerebral response to intraesophageal acid and psychological anticipation stimuli among subtypes of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Thirty nine patients with GERD and 11 healthy controls were enrolled in this study after gastroscopy and 24 hr pH monitoring. GERD subjects were divided into four subgroups: RE (reflux esophagitis), NERD+ (non-erosive reflux disease with excessive acid reflux), NERD-SI+ (normal acid exposure and positive symptom index) and NERD-SI+ (normal acid exposure and negative symptom index, but responded to proton pump inhibitor trial). Cerebral responses to intraesophageal acid and psychological anticipation were evaluated with fMRI.
During intraesophageal acid stimulation, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) region was significantly activated in all subgroups of GERD; the insular cortex (IC) region was also activated in RE, NERD+ and NERD-SI- groups; the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC) region was activated only in RE and NERD-SI- groups. The RE subgroup had the shortest peak time in the PFC region after acid was infused, and presented the greatest change in fMRI signals in the PFC and ACC region (P = 0.008 and P = 0.001, respectively). During psychological anticipation, the PFC was significantly activated in both the control and GERD groups. Activation of the IC region was found in the RE, NERD-SI+ and NERD-SI- subgroups. The ACC was activated only in the NERD-SI+ and NERD-SI- subgroups. In the PFC region, the NERD-SI- subgroup had the shortest onset time (P = 0.008) and peak time (P < 0.001). Compared with actual acid infusion, ACC in RE and IC in NERD+ were deactivated while additional areas including the IC and ACC were activated in the NERD-SI+ group; and in NERD-SI- group, onset-time and peak time in the PFC and IC areas were obviously shorter in induced anticipation than in actual acid infusion.
The four subgroups of GERD patients and controls showed distinctly different activation patterns and we therefore conclude GERD patients have different patterns of visceral perception and psychological anticipation. Psychological factors play a more important role in NERD-SI+ and NERD-SI- groups than in RE and NERD+ groups.
PMCID: PMC3073936  PMID: 21439078

Results 1-6 (6)