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1.  Do Outcomes of Acupuncture for Back Pain Differ According to Varying Sociocultural Contexts? The View from China 
What are the outcomes of acupuncture for back pain? According to well-regarded trials, acupuncture is little better for back pain than biomedicine, and active acupuncture is no better than sham acupuncture. These trials occurred in the West. Patients are inside the clinic a miniscule amount of time in relation to the time they are outside the clinic and enmeshed in the wider sociocultural context. Nevertheless, trials have largely overlooked potential effects of sociocultural context. The main objective of this article is to draw attention to designated features of sociocultural context that, as compared with outcomes obtained in the West, may enhance outcomes of acupuncture for back pain in China. Additional objectives of the article are to reconceptualize “sociocultural context” so that it is measurable, and to measure pre-existing acquaintance with acupuncture and other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) within the sociocultural context of China.
Back pain patients (N=86) were recruited from the Acupuncture Clinic and Pain Clinic of West China Hospital (Chengdu, Sichuan Province). Patients completed questionnaires on their use of TCM before they came to the Acupuncture Clinic and their families' use of TCM.
Most patients had used TCM, and those who did so likely used it repeatedly, which indicated substantial acquaintance with TCM beliefs in the cultural context. Patients whose families used TCM were also likely to use it themselves, which indicated that TCM use was anchored in the social context of the family.
Although multiple studies substantiate biologic mechanisms of acupuncture, there is not necessarily a fixed relationship between those mechanisms and people's experience of them. Rather, sociocultural context may interact with biologic mechanisms and mediate this experience. The theory proposed here explains why outcomes of acupuncture for back pain will potentially be more pronounced in the sociocultural context of China than in the West.
PMCID: PMC3651679  PMID: 23186130
2.  The Regulation of Inflammatory Mediators in Acute Kidney Injury via Exogenous Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:261697.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) remains to be an independent risk factor for mortality and morbidity. Inflammation is believed to play a major role in the pathophysiology of AKI. Exogenous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are now under extensive investigation as a potential therapy for AKI. Various preclinical studies indicated the beneficial effects of MSCs in alleviating renal injury and accelerating tissue repair. However the mechanisms responsible for these effects are incompletely understood. In the recent years, anti-inflammatory/immunoregulatory properties of MSCs have become one of the important issues in the treatment of AKI. This review will summarize the current literature on the regulation of inflammatory mediators via exogenous MSCs contributing to the recovery from AKI.
PMCID: PMC4009277  PMID: 24839354
3.  Early Monitoring Antiangiogenesis Treatment Response of Sunitinib in U87MG Tumor Xenograft by 18F-FLT MicroPET/CT Imaging 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:218578.
Aim. It was aimed to monitor early treatment response of Sunitinib in U87MG models mimicking glioblastoma multiforme by longitudinal 18F-FLT microPET/CT imaging in this study. Methods. U87MG tumor mice were intragastrically injected with Sunitinib at a dose of 80 mg/kg for consecutive 7 days. 18F-FLT microPET/CT scans were acquired on days 0, 1, 3, 7, and 13 after therapy. Tumor sizes and body weight were measured. Tumor samples were collected for immunohistochemical analysis of proliferation and microvessel density (MVD) with anti-Ki67 and anti-CD31, respectively. Results. The uptake ratios of tumor to the contralateral muscle (T/M) of 18F-FLT in the Sunitinib group decreased from baseline to day 3 (T/M0 = 2.98 ± 0.33; T/M3 = 2.23 ± 0.36; P < 0.001), reached the bottom on day 7 (T/M7 = 1.96 ± 0.35; P < 0.001), and then recovered on day 13. The T/M of 18F-FLT uptake in the control group remained around 3.0. There was no difference for the tumor size between both groups until day 11. 18F-FLT uptakes of tumor were correlated with Ki67 staining index and MVD. Conclusion. Early therapy response to Sunitinib could be predicted via 18F-FLT PET, which will contribute to monitoring antiangiogenesis treatment.
PMCID: PMC4000939  PMID: 24860813
4.  A Possible Interaction Between Systemic and Renal Angiotensinogen in the Control of Blood Pressure 
American Journal of Hypertension  2013;26(4):473-480.
Angiotensinogen (AGT) is synthesized in the liver and proximal tubule. AGT overexpression at either site might increase blood pressure (BP). We used transgenic mice with AGT overexpression in proximal tubule (K), liver (L), or both sites (KL) to determine the relative contributions of hepatic- and proximal tubule–derived AGT in modulating BP.
Hepatic AGT overexpression was obtained using the albumin enhancer promoter; the kidney androgen protein gene was used for proximal tubule AGT overexpression. BP and renin angiotensin system parameters were examined in male KL, K, L, and wild-type mice on normal and high-sodium diets.
Compared with wild-type mice, K and KL mice had higher BP on normal and high-sodium diets. L mice had similar BP to wild-type mice on a normal-sodium diet, but high sodium intake caused hypertension. There were no differences in plasma AGT, plasma renin concentration, urine volume, or urine sodium excretion between the groups. Urine AGT and angiotensin II (Ang II) excretion were higher in KL and K mice than in L or wild-type mice on a normal-sodium diet and increased with high sodium intake. During high sodium intake, urine AGT and Ang II were higher in all transgenic mice vs wild-type mice.
Mice with liver AGT overexpression manifest salt-sensitive hypertension, whereas mice with renal AGT overexpression are hypertensive regardless of salt intake. Systemic AGT may stimulate endogenous renal AGT synthesis during high sodium intake, leading to hypertension in L mice. This suggests that systemic and renal AGT may interact to modulate BP.
PMCID: PMC3626041  PMID: 23467203
angiotensinogen; blood pressure; hypertension; kidney; liver; proximal tubule; transgene.
6.  Autophagy 
Autophagy  2012;8(10):1477-1493.
Autophagy is a catabolic process that functions in recycling and degrading cellular proteins, and is also induced as an adaptive response to the increased metabolic demand upon nutrient starvation. However, the prosurvival role of autophagy in response to metabolic stress due to deprivation of glutamine, the most abundant nutrient for mammalian cells, is not well understood. Here, we demonstrated that when extracellular glutamine was withdrawn, autophagy provided cells with sub-mM concentrations of glutamine, which played a critical role in fostering cell metabolism. Moreover, we uncovered a previously unknown connection between metabolic responses to ATG5 deficiency and glutamine deprivation, and revealed that WT and atg5−/− MEFs utilized both common and distinct metabolic pathways over time during glutamine deprivation. Although the early response of WT MEFs to glutamine deficiency was similar in many respects to the baseline metabolism of atg5−/− MEFs, there was a concomitant decrease in the levels of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acid catabolites in WT MEFs after 6 h of glutamine withdrawal that distinguished them from the atg5−/− MEFs. Metabolomic profiling, oxygen consumption and pathway focused quantitative RT-PCR analyses revealed that autophagy and glutamine utilization were reciprocally regulated to couple metabolic and transcriptional reprogramming. These findings provide key insights into the critical prosurvival role of autophagy in maintaining mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and cell growth during metabolic stress caused by glutamine deprivation.
PMCID: PMC3679231  PMID: 22906967
ATG5; autophagy; glutamine; ATP; transcriptional reprogramming; altered metabolism
7.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Human-Pathogenic Bacterium Vibrio alginolyticus E0666 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(5):e00686-13.
Vibrio alginolyticus is a Gram-negative halophilic bacterium with worldwide distribution. In this work, we report the draft genome sequence of a V. alginolyticus strain (E0666) isolated from Epinephelus coioides ascites in the Shantou city of Guangdong Province, China.
PMCID: PMC3757447  PMID: 23990586
8.  Molecular Identification and Analysis of Human Enteroviruses Isolated from Healthy Children in Shenzhen, China from 2010 to 2011 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64889.
To determine the prevalence and distribution of human enteroviruses (HEVs) among healthy children in Shenzhen, China.
Clinical specimens were obtained from 320 healthy children under 5 years old in Shenzhen, China from 2010 to 2011. The specimens were evaluated using real-time PCR and cell cultures. The positive specimens were further tested using reverse transcription-seminested PCR (RT-snPCR). Molecular typing and phylogenetic analysis were based on the sequence determined.
Among the 320 samples, 34 were tested positive for HEVs (10.6%) and 22 different serotypes were identified using RT-snPCR. PV1 and PV2 were also detected. The predominant serotype observed was EV71 (17.6%), followed by CV-B4 (14.7%). HEV-B was detected most frequently, with an overall prevalence of 47.1%. HEV-A and HEV-C were found in 32.3% and 20.6% of the samples, respectively. No HEV-D was identified. Molecular phylogeny indicated that all EV71 strains were of C4 genotype.
Although a variety of HEVs was detected in healthy children, HEV-B was relatively more prevalent than other HEV species. Considering HEV-A is more prevalent than HEV-B among patients with hand-foot-mouth disease, additional long-term surveillance of HEV is warranted in both asymptomatic and symptomatic populations.
PMCID: PMC3675095  PMID: 23762262
9.  Microvesicles Derived from Human Umbilical Cord Wharton’s Jelly Mesenchymal Stem Cells Attenuate Bladder Tumor Cell Growth In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61366.
Several studies suggest that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) possess antitumor properties; however, the exact mechanisms remain unclear. Recently, microvesicles (MVs) are considered as a novel avenue intercellular communication, which may be a mediator in MSCs-related antitumor effect. In the present study, we evaluated whether MVs derived from human umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells (hWJMSCs) may inhibit bladder tumor T24 cells growth using cell culture and the BALB/c nu/nu mice xenograft model. CCK-8 assay and Ki-67 immunostaining were performed to estimate cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Flow cytometry and TUNEL assay were used to assess cell cycle and apoptosis. To study the conceivable mechanism by which hWJMSC-MVs attenuate bladder tumor T24 cells, we estimated the expression of Akt/p-Akt, p-p53, p21 and cleaved Caspase 3 by Western blot technique after exposing T24 cells to hWJMSC-MVs for 24, 48 and 72h. Our data indicated that hWJMSC-MVs can inhibit T24 cells proliferative viability via cell cycle arrest and induce apoptosis in T24 cells in vitro and in vivo. This study showed that hWJMSC-MVs down-regulated phosphorylation of Akt protein kinase and up-regulated cleaved Caspase 3 during the process of anti-proliferation and pro-apoptosis in T24 cells. These results demonstrate that hWJMSC-MVs play a vital role in hWJMSC-induced antitumor effect and may be a novel tool for cancer therapy as a new mechanism of cell-to-cell communication.
PMCID: PMC3625149  PMID: 23593475
10.  The maximum standardized uptake value of 18 F-FDG PET scan to determine prognosis of hormone-receptor positive metastatic breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:42.
Whether PET scan maximum standard uptake value (SUVmax) could differentiate luminal A from luminal B and help predict the survival of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients with luminal subtype is still unknown and need to be investigated.
305 MBC patients with luminal subtypes were screened with PET/CT. Eligible patients were prospectively followed up.
In total, 134 patients were eligible for this study. SUVmax was significantly related to the number of metastatic sites and presence of visceral metastasis on univariate analysis. SUVmax could not effectively differentiate patients with luminal A from luminal B subtype. Although luminal subtype at diagnosis could predict the relapse-free interval, it could not predict progression-free survival (PFS) or overall survival (OS) after developing relapse. In contrast, SUVmax was predictive of both PFS and OS and this effect was maintained in multivariate COX regression model.
SUVmax of MBC did not correlate with molecular subtypes of primary tumor. While molecular subtype may be a valuable prognostic factor at primary diagnosis of breast cancer, the SUVmax, rather than molecular subtype, does have a potential to predict independently in multivariate analysis for the PFS and OS in patients with metastatic disease of luminal subtype.
PMCID: PMC3583732  PMID: 23368410
Metastatic breast cancer; Luminal subtype; PET/CT; SUVmax; Prognosis
11.  Isolation, Characterization, and Bioactivity Evaluation of 3-((6-Methylpyrazin-2-yl)methyl)-1H-indole, a New Alkaloid from a Deep-Sea-Derived Actinomycete Serinicoccus profundi sp. nov 
Marine Drugs  2012;11(1):33-39.
One new alkaloid, 3-((6-methylpyrazin-2-yl)methyl)-1H-indole (1) was obtained from the deep-sea actinomycete Serinicoccus profundi sp. nov., along with five known compounds (2–6). Their structures were determined on the basis of detailed analysis of the 1D and 2D NMR as well as MS data. The new indole alkaloid displayed weak antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25923 with an MIC value of 96 μg/mL. It showed no cytotoxicity on a normal human liver cell line (BEL7402) and a human liver tumor cell line (HL-7702).
PMCID: PMC3564155  PMID: 23271423
deep-sea sediment; actinomycete; Serinicoccus profundi sp. nov.; alkaloid; antibacterial activity; cytotoxicity
12.  Expression and biological significance of human kallikrein 6 in gastric cancer tissues 
Contemporary Oncology  2013;17(1):64-67.
Aim of the study
This study aims to investigate the expression of human kallikrein 6 (hK6) in gastric cancer, gastric ulcer and normal gastric mucosa tissues and its biological significance.
Material and methods
The expression of hK6 in 15 normal gastric mucosa (NGM) tissues, 15 gastric ulcer (GU) tissues and 55 gastric carcinoma (GC) tissues was respectively detected by immunohistochemistry. The correlations between the expression of hK6 and the clinical pathological parameters of gastric cancer were also analyzed.
Human kallikrein 6 was mainly expressed in cytoplasm. The positive rate of hK6 was significantly higher in gastric cancer tissues than that in gastric ulcer or normal gastric mucosa tissues (70.9%, 40% and 20%, respectively, p < 0.01). With the increase of the invasion depth of gastric cancer cells, aggravation of TNM stage and development of lymph node metastasis, the expression of hK6 increased significantly (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01). There was no obvious correlation between the expression of hK6 and sex, age, tumor diameter, histodifferentiation degree or primary pathological location of gastric cancer (p > 0.05).
The overexpression of hK6 is related to the depth of invasion, lymph node metastasis and clinical stage of gastric carcinoma, which suggests that hK6 may act as a new marker of gastric cancer biological behavior.
PMCID: PMC3685342  PMID: 23788964
expression; gastric cancer; gastric neoplasm; human kallikrein 6; immunohistochemistry
13.  Promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Chinese Journal of Cancer  2013;32(1):3-11.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a prevalent and fatal cancer in China and other Asian countries. Epigenetic silencing of key tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) is critical to ESCC initiation and progression. Recently, many novel TSGs silenced by promoter methylation have been identified in ESCC, and these genes further serve as potential tumor markers for high-risk group stratification, early detection, and prognosis prediction. This review summarizes recent discoveries on aberrant promoter methylation of TSGs in ESCC, providing better understanding of the role of disrupted epigenetic regulation in tumorigenesis and insight into diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for this malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3845589  PMID: 22572016
Tumor suppressor gene; CpG island; promoter methylation; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; tumor marker
14.  Factors associated with intern noncompliance with the 2003 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s 30-hour duty period requirement 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:33.
In 2003 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education mandated work hour restrictions. Violations can results in a residency program being cited or placed on probation. Recurrent violations could results in loss of accreditation. We wanted to determine specific intern and workload factors associated with violation of a specific mandate, the 30-hour duty period requirement.
Retrospective review of interns’ performance against the 30-hour duty period requirement during inpatient ward rotations at a pediatric residency program between June 24, 2008 and June 23, 2009. The analytical plan included both univariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses.
Twenty of the 26 (77%) interns had 80 self-reported episodes of continuous work hours greater than 30 hours. In multivariable analysis, noncompliance was inversely associated with the number of prior inpatient rotations (odds ratio: 0.49, 95% confidence interval (0.38, 0.64) per rotation) but directly associated with the total number of patients (odds ratio: 1.30 (1.10, 1.53) per additional patient). The number of admissions on-call, number of admissions after midnight and number of discharges post-call were not significantly associated with noncompliance. The level of noncompliance also varied significantly between interns after accounting for intern experience and workload factors. Subject to limitations in statistical power, we were unable to identify specific intern characteristics, such as demographic variables or examination scores, which account for the variation in noncompliance between interns.
Both intern and workload factors were associated with pediatric intern noncompliance with the 30-hour duty period requirement during inpatient ward rotations. Residency programs must develop information systems to understand the individual and experience factors associated with noncompliance and implement appropriate interventions to ensure compliance with the duty hour regulations.
PMCID: PMC3398848  PMID: 22621439
15.  Oxytocin and Vasopressin Are Dysregulated in Williams Syndrome, a Genetic Disorder Affecting Social Behavior 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38513.
The molecular and neural mechanisms regulating human social-emotional behaviors are fundamentally important but largely unknown; unraveling these requires a genetic systems neuroscience analysis of human models. Williams Syndrome (WS), a condition caused by deletion of ∼28 genes, is associated with a gregarious personality, strong drive to approach strangers, difficult peer interactions, and attraction to music. WS provides a unique opportunity to identify endogenous human gene-behavior mechanisms. Social neuropeptides including oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) regulate reproductive and social behaviors in mammals, and we reasoned that these might mediate the features of WS. Here we established blood levels of OT and AVP in WS and controls at baseline, and at multiple timepoints following a positive emotional intervention (music), and a negative physical stressor (cold). We also related these levels to standardized indices of social behavior. Results revealed significantly higher median levels of OT in WS versus controls at baseline, with a less marked increase in AVP. Further, in WS, OT and AVP increased in response to music and to cold, with greater variability and an amplified peak release compared to controls. In WS, baseline OT but not AVP, was correlated positively with approach, but negatively with adaptive social behaviors. These results indicate that WS deleted genes perturb hypothalamic-pituitary release not only of OT but also of AVP, implicating more complex neuropeptide circuitry for WS features and providing evidence for their roles in endogenous regulation of human social behavior. The data suggest a possible biological basis for amygdalar involvement, for increased anxiety, and for the paradox of increased approach but poor social relationships in WS. They also offer insight for translating genetic and neuroendocrine knowledge into treatments for disorders of social behavior.
PMCID: PMC3373592  PMID: 22719898
16.  Overexpression of HMGA2 Promotes Metastasis and Impacts Survival of Colorectal Cancers 
This study aims to address hypothesis that the high mobility group A2 (HMGA2), an oncofetal protein, relates to survivability and serves as a prognostic biomarker for colorectal cancer (CRC).
Experimental Design
This is a retro-prospective multiple center study. The HMGA2 expression level was determined by performing immunohistochemistry (IHC) on surgical tissue samples of 89 CRCs from a training set and 191 CRCs from a validation set. The Kaplan-Meier analysis and COX proportional hazard model were employed to analyze survivability.
Multivariate logistic analysis indicated that the expression of HMGA2 significantly correlates with distant metastasis in training set (odd ratio, OR=3.53, 95% CI 1.37-9.70) and validation set (OR=6.38, 95% CI 1.47-43.95). Survival analysis revealed that the overexpression of HMGA2 is significantly associated with poor survival of CRC patients (p < 0.05). The adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for overall survival were 2.38 (95% CI 1.30-4.34) and 2.14 (95% CI 1.21-3.79) in training and validation sets, respectively. Further investigation revealed that HMGA2 delays the clearance of γ-H2AX in HCT-116 and SW480 cells post γ-irradiation, which supports our finding that CRC patients with HMAG2 positive staining in primary tumors had augmented efficacy of adjuvant radiotherapy (HR=0.18, 95% CI 0.04-0.63).
Overexpression of HMGA2 is associated with metastasis and unequivocally occurred in parallel with reduced survival rates of patients with CRC. Therefore, HMGA2 may potentially serve as a biomarker for predicting aggressive CRC with poor survivability and as an indicator for better response of radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3079060  PMID: 21252160
high mobility group A2 protein; colorectum; adenocarcinoma; survival; metastasis
17.  Human Monoclonal Antibodies to a Novel Cluster of Conformational Epitopes on HCV E2 with Resistance to Neutralization Escape in a Genotype 2a Isolate 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002653.
The majority of broadly neutralizing antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV) are against conformational epitopes on the E2 glycoprotein. Many of them recognize overlapping epitopes in a cluster, designated as antigenic domain B, that contains residues G530 and D535. To gain information on other regions that will be relevant for vaccine design, we employed yeast surface display of antibodies that bound to genotype 1a H77C E2 mutant proteins containing a substitution either at Y632A (to avoid selecting non-neutralizing antibodies) or D535A. A panel of nine human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) was isolated and designated as HC-84-related antibodies. Each HMAb neutralized cell culture infectious HCV (HCVcc) with genotypes 1–6 envelope proteins with varying profiles, and each inhibited E2 binding to the viral receptor CD81. Five of these antibodies neutralized representative genotypes 1–6 HCVcc. Epitope mapping identified a cluster of overlapping epitopes that included nine contact residues in two E2 regions encompassing aa418–446 and aa611–616. Effect on virus entry was measured using H77C HCV retroviral pseudoparticles, HCVpp, bearing an alanine substitution at each of the contact residues. Seven of ten mutant HCVpp showed over 90% reduction compared to wild-type HCVpp and two others showed approximately 80% reduction. Interestingly, four of these antibodies bound to a linear E2 synthetic peptide encompassing aa434–446. This region on E2 has been proposed to elicit non-neutralizing antibodies in humans that interfere with neutralizing antibodies directed at an adjacent E2 region from aa410–425. The isolation of four HC-84 HMAbs binding to the peptide, aa434–446, proves that some antibodies to this region are to highly conserved epitopes mediating broad virus neutralization. Indeed, when HCVcc were passaged in the presence of each of these antibodies, virus escape was not observed. Thus, the cluster of HC-84 epitopes, designated as antigenic domain D, is relevant for vaccine design for this highly diverse virus.
Author Summary
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a highly diverse virus and a significant challenge for vaccine development is to identify protective epitopes conserved in the majority of viral genotypes and subtypes. This problem is compounded by the fact that the envelope E1E2 proteins, the targets for neutralizing antibody response, are two of the most variable proteins of the virus. Modified E2 antigens were constructed that are not bound by antibodies to previously recognized clusters of highly immunogenic epitopes on E2. Their employment as screening antigens has led to the isolation of a novel panel of human monoclonal antibodies to HCV E2. Functional and biochemical studies revealed that these antibodies bind and neutralize HCV of different genotypes and subtypes. Several of these antibodies neutralized cell culture infectious HCV with genotypes 1–6 envelope proteins. Furthermore, when virus was passaged in culture in the presence of each of these antibodies, virus escape was not observed. Thus, these epitopes are relevant in vaccine design for this virus.
PMCID: PMC3325216  PMID: 22511875
18.  Loss of Wnt5a and Ror2 protein in hepatocellular carcinoma associated with poor prognosis 
AIM: To investigate the expression and clinical significance of Wnt member 5a (Wnt5a) and receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (Ror2) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: In HCC tissues obtained from 85 patients, the protein expressions of Wnt5a, Ror2, β-catenin, and Ki-67 via immunohistochemical staining using the Envision Plus System. The antibody binding was visualized with 3, 3’-diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride (DAB) before brief counterstaining with Mayer’s hematoxylin. The degree of immunohistochemical staining was recorded using a semiquantitative and subjective grading system. The mRNA expression of Ror2 was examined by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, including nineteen of the 85 HCC and three normal liver tissues. The ratios of Ror2 to the housekeeping gene GAPDH represented the normalized relative levels of Ror2 expression. To determine the prognostic factor, the outcome of the 82 patients was determined by reviewing their medical charts. The overall and disease-free survival rates were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared with the log-rank test. The prognostic analysis was carried out with univariate and multivariate Cox regressions models.
RESULTS: Compared to nontumorous (hepatitis or cirrhotic) tissues, Ror2 mRNA expression was clearly decreased in HCC. Ror2 and Wnt5a protein expressions in the majority of HCC patients (63% and 77%, respectively) was significantly less in tumor tissues, as compared to adjacent nontumorous tissues, and this reduction was correlated with increasing serum α-fetoprotein and tumor stage. In 68% (58/85) of the HCC cases, the expression of β-catenin in tumor tissues was either downregulated in the cellular membrane, upregulated in the cytoplasm, or both. Survival analysis indicated that Wnt5a and Ror2 protein expressions could be regarded as independent prognostic factors for HCC; HCC patients with decreased Wnt5a or Ror2 protein expression had a poorer prognosis than those with elevated Wnt5a and Ror2 expression (P = 0.016, P = 0.007, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Wnt5a and Ror2 may serve as tumor suppressor genes in the development of HCC, and may serve as clinicopathologic biomarkers for prognosis in HCC patients.
PMCID: PMC3319959  PMID: 22493546
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Wnt5a; Receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2; β-catenin; Prognosis
19.  PKCε phosphorylation of the sodium channel NaV1.8 increases channel function and produces mechanical hyperalgesia in mice  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(4):1306-1315.
Mechanical hyperalgesia is a common and potentially disabling complication of many inflammatory and neuropathic conditions. Activation of the enzyme PKCε in primary afferent nociceptors is a major mechanism that underlies mechanical hyperalgesia, but the PKCε substrates involved downstream are not known. Here, we report that in a proteomic screen we identified the NaV1.8 sodium channel, which is selectively expressed in nociceptors, as a PKCε substrate. PKCε-mediated phosphorylation increased NaV1.8 currents, lowered the threshold voltage for activation, and produced a depolarizing shift in inactivation in wild-type — but not in PKCε-null — sensory neurons. PKCε phosphorylated NaV1.8 at S1452, and alanine substitution at this site blocked PKCε modulation of channel properties. Moreover, a specific PKCε activator peptide, ψεRACK, produced mechanical hyperalgesia in wild-type mice but not in Scn10a–/– mice, which lack NaV1.8 channels. These studies demonstrate that NaV1.8 is an important, direct substrate of PKCε that mediates PKCε-dependent mechanical hyperalgesia.
PMCID: PMC3315445  PMID: 22426212
20.  Reconstruction of Hematopoietic Inductive Microenvironment after Transplantation of VCAM-1-Modified Human Umbilical Cord Blood Stromal Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31741.
The hematopoietic inductive microenvironment (HIM) is where hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells grow and develop. Hematopoietic stromal cells were the key components of the HIM. In our previous study, we had successfully cultured and isolated human cord blood–derived stromal cells (HUCBSCs) and demonstrated that they could secret hemopoietic growth factors such as GM-CSF, TPO, and SCF. However, it is still controversial whether HUCBSCs can be used for reconstruction of HIM. In this study, we first established a co-culture system of HUCBSCs and cord blood CD34+ cells and then determined that using HUCBSCs as the adherent layer had significantly more newly formed colonies of each hematopoietic lineage than the control group, indicating that HUCBSCs had the ability to promote the proliferation of hematopoietic stem cells/progenitor cells. Furthermore, the number of colonies was significantly higher in vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1)-modified HUCBSCs, suggesting that the ability of HUCBSCs in promoting the proliferation of hematopoietic stem cells/progenitor cells was further enhanced after having been modified with VCAM-1. Next, HUCBSCs were infused into a radiation-damaged animal model, in which the recovery of hematopoiesis was observed. The results demonstrate that the transplanted HUCBSCs were “homed in” to bone marrow and played roles in promoting the recovery of irradiation-induced hematopoietic damage and repairing HIM. Compared with the control group, the HUCBSC group had significantly superior effectiveness in terms of the recovery time for hemogram and myelogram, CFU-F, CFU-GM, BFU-E, and CFU-Meg. Such differences were even more significant in VCAM-1-modified HUCBSCs group. We suggest that HUCBSCs are able to restore the functions of HIM and promote the recovery of radiation-induced hematopoietic damage. VCAM-1 plays an important role in supporting the repair of HIM damage.
PMCID: PMC3285638  PMID: 22384064
21.  High-Mobility Group A2 Protein Modulates hTERT Transcription To Promote Tumorigenesis ▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(13):2605-2617.
The high-mobility group A2 gene (HMGA2) is one of the most frequently amplified genes in human cancers. However, functions of HMGA2 in tumorigenesis are not fully understood due to limited knowledge of its targets in tumor cells. Our study reveals a novel link between HMGA2 and the regulation of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT), the catalytic subunit of telomerase, which offers critical insight into how HMGA2 contributes to tumorigenesis. The expression of HMGA2 modulates the expression of hTERT, resulting in cells with enhanced telomerase activities and increased telomere length. Treatment with suberoylanilide hydroxamide (SAHA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, causes dose-dependent hTERT reporter activation, mimicking HMGA2 overexpression. By interacting with Sp1, HMGA2 interferes with the recruitment of HDAC2 to the hTERT proximal promoter, enhancing localized histone H3-K9 acetylation and thereby stimulating hTERT expression and telomerase activity. Moreover, HMGA2 knockdown by short hairpin HMGA2 in HepG2 cells leads to progressive telomere shortening and a concurrent decrease of steady-state hTERT mRNA levels, attenuating their ability to form colonies in soft agar. Importantly, HMGA2 partially replaces the function of hTERT during the tumorigenic transformation of normal human fibroblasts. These findings are potentially clinically relevant, because HMGA2 expression is reported to be upregulated in a number of human cancers as telomere maintenance is essential for tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3133373  PMID: 21536653
22.  Association of insulin-like growth factor-1 with thyroid nodules 
Oncology Letters  2011;2(6):1297-1301.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and thyroid nodules. A total of 56 patients with thyroid nodules confirmed by physical examination and ultrasound screening were randomly selected. The patients were divided into three groups by radionuclide scan: the hot nodule group (group 1, n=18); the cold and solid nodule group (group 2, n=18); and the cold and cystic nodule group (group 3, n=20). Cystic fluid samples from patients with cystic cold thyroid nodules were defined as group 4. A control group of 18 healthy adults matched for age, gender and body mass index (group 0) was also included. For all participants, levels of the thyroid hormones, TT3, TT4, TSH and IGF-1, were determined by radioimmunoassay. The measurement data were expressed as the mean ± standard deviation (SD). The analysis of variance was performed by the t-test and the correlation analysis was performed by linear regression. The serum levels of IGF-1 in the solid cold nodule group were significantly higher than those in the hot nodule group (P<0.05). Serum levels of IGF-1 in the cystic cold nodule group were significantly lower than those in the control group (P<0.05). The serum IGF-1 levels in the cystic fluid were significantly lower than those in the cystic cold nodule (P<0.05) and the control groups (P<0.05). Additionally, the mean serum IGF-1 level in patients with thyroid adenoma was significantly higher than that in the control group (P<0.05). The serum IGF-1 level may not be involved in the pathogenesis of hot thyroid nodules and cold and cystic thyroid nodules; however, it may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of certain solid cold thyroid nodules.
PMCID: PMC3406504  PMID: 22848305
thyroid nodule; IGF-1; pathogenesis
23.  Design of the Anti-tuberculosis Drugs induced Adverse Reactions in China National Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Scheme Study (ADACS) 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:267.
More than 1 million tuberculosis (TB) patients are receiving the standard anti-TB treatment provided by China National Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Scheme (CNTS) in China every year. Adverse reactions (ADRs) induced by anti-TB drugs could both do harm to patients and lead to anti-TB treatment failure. The ADACS aimed to explore ADRs' incidences, prognoses, economical and public health impacts for TB patients and TB control, and build a DNA bank of TB patients.
Multiple study designs were adopted. Firstly, a prospective cohort with 4488 sputum smears positive pulmonary tuberculosis patients was established. Patients were followed up for 6-9 months in 52 counties of four regions. Those suspected ADRs should be checked and confirmed by Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA). Secondly, if the suspected ADR was anti-TB drug induced liver injury (ATLI), a nested case-control study would be performed which comprised choosing a matched control and doing a plus questionnaire inquiry. Thirdly, health economical data of ADRs would be collected to analyze financial burdens brought by ADRs and cost-effectiveness of ADRs' treatments. Fourthly, a drop of intravenous blood for each patient was taken and saved in FTA card for DNA banking and genotyping. Finally, the demographic, clinical, environmental, administrative and genetic data would be merged for the comprehensive analysis.
ADACS will give an overview of anti-TB drugs induced ADRs' incidences, risk factors, treatments, prognoses, and clinical, economical and public health impacts for TB patients applying CNTS regimen in China, and provide suggestions for individualized health care and TB control policy.
PMCID: PMC2893093  PMID: 20492672
24.  Interaction of catechol and non-catechol substrates with externally or internally facing dopamine transporters 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;109(4):981-994.
Our previous work suggested that collapsing the Na+ gradient and membrane potential converts the dopamine (DA) transporter (DAT) to an inward-facing conformation with a different substrate binding profile. Here, DAT expressing HEK 293 cells were permeabilized with digitonin, disrupting ion/voltage gradients and allowing passage of DAT substrates. The potency of p-tyramine and other non-catechols (d-amphetamine, β-phenethylamine, MPP+) in inhibiting cocaine analog binding to DAT in digitonin-treated cells was markedly weakened to a level similar to that observed in cell-free membranes. In contrast, the potency of DA and another catechol, norepinephrine, was not significantly changed by the same treatment, whereas epinephrine showed only a modest reduction. These findings suggest catechol substrates interact symmetrically with both sides of DAT and non-catechol substrates favor binding to outward-facing transporter. In the cocaine analog binding assay, the mutant W84L displayed enhanced intrinsic binding affinity for substrates in interacting with both outward- and inward- facing states; D313N showed WT-like symmetric binding; but D267L and E428Q showed an apparent improvement in the permeation pathway from the external face towards the substrate site. Thus, the structure of both substrate and transporter play a role in the sidedness and mode of interaction between them.
PMCID: PMC2696066  PMID: 19519772
dopamine transporter; catechol substrates; digitonin; binding sidedness; DAT conformations
25.  Anti-Insulin Receptor Autoantibodies Are Not Required for Type 2 Diabetes Pathogenesis in NZL/Lt Mice, a New Zealand Obese (NZO)-Derived Mouse Strain 
Experimental Diabesity Research  2004;5(3):177-185.
The New Zealand obese (NZO) mouse strain shares with the related New Zealand black (NZB) strain a number of immunophenotypic traits. Among these is a high proportion of B-1 B lymphocytes, a subset associated with autoantibody production. Approximately 50% of NZO/HlLt males develop a chronic insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes syndrome associated with 2 unusual features: the presence of B lymphocyte–enriched peri-insular infiltrates and the development of anti-insulin receptor autoantibodies (AIRAs). To establish the potential pathogenic contributions ofBlymphocytes and AIRAs in this model, a disrupted immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (Igh-6) congenic on the NZB/BlJ background was backcrossed 4 generations into the NZO/HlLt background and was then intercrossed to produce mice that initially segregated for wild-type versus the mutant Igh-6 allele and thus permitted comparison of syndrome development. A new flow cytometric assay (AIRA binding to transfected Chinese hamster ovary cells stably expressing mouse insulin receptor) showed IgM and IgG subclass AIRAs in serum from Igh-6 intact males, but not in Igh6null male serum. However, the absence of B lymphocytes and antibodies distinguishing mutant from wild-type males failed to significantly affect diabetes-free survival. The Igh6nullmales gained weight less rapidly than wild-type males, probably accounting for a retardation, but not prevention, of hyperglycemia. Thus, AIRA and the Blymphocyte component of the peri-insulitis in chronic diabetics were not essential either to development of insulin resistance or to eventual pancreatic beta cell failure and loss. A new substrain, designated NZL, was generated by inbreeding Igh-6 wild-type segregants. Currently at the F10 generation, NZL mice exhibit the same juvenile-onset obesity as NZO/HlLt males, but develop type 2 diabetes at a higher frequency (> 80%). Also, unlike NZO/HlLt mice that are difficult to breed, the NZL/Lt strain breeds well and thus offers clear advantages to obesity/diabetes researchers.
PMCID: PMC2478629  PMID: 15512785

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