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1.  Study on In-Vivo Anti-Tumor Activity of Verbena Officinalis Extract 
We investigated the anti-tumor effects of Verbena officinalis extract on H22 tumor-bearing mice and its effect on immune function. Mice model of H22 solid tumor was established, the mice were divided into five groups and administered the extract, later, tumors were removed and inhibition rates were calculated; spleens were removed and spleen indices were calculated, and the sheep red blood cell-delayed-type hypersensitivity (SRBC-DTH) and the serum hemolysin level were determined. The Verbena officinalis extract had anti-tumor effect, with the inhibition rate reaching 38.78%, it also increased the spleen index to a certain extent, in addition, the changes in DTA and HA were not obvious compared with the model group. The Verbena officinalis extract had in vivo anti-tumor effect, while causing no damage on the immune function.
PMCID: PMC3777594  PMID: 24146482
Verbena officinalis extract; H22 mouse; tumor inhibition; immune function
2.  Nanoparticle diffusion in, and microrheology of, the bovine vitreous ex vivo 
Intravitreal injection of biodegradable nanoparticles (NP) holds promise for gene therapy and drug delivery to the back of the eye. In some cases, including gene therapy, NP need to diffuse rapidly from the site of injection in order to reach targeted cell types in the back of the eye, whereas in other cases it may be preferred for the particles to remain at the injection site and slowly release drugs that may then diffuse to the site of action. We studied the movements of polystyrene (PS) nanoparticles of various sizes and surface chemistries in fresh bovine vitreous. PS NP as large as 510 nm rapidly penetrated the vitreous gel when coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG), whereas the movements of NP 1190 nm in diameter or larger were highly restricted regardless of surface chemistry owing to steric obstruction. PS NP coated with primary amine groups (–NH2) possessed positively charged surfaces at the pH of bovine vitreous (pH = 7.2), and were immobilized within the vitreous gel. In comparison, PS NP coated with –COOH (possessing negatively charged surfaces) in the size range of 100–200 nm and at particle concentrations below 0.0025% (w/v) readily diffused through the vitreous meshwork; at higher concentrations (~0.1% w/v), these nanoparticles aggregated within vitreous. Based on the mobility of different sized PS-PEG NP, we estimated the average mesh size of fresh bovine vitreous to be ~550 ± 50 nm. The bovine vitreous behaved as an impermeable elastic barrier to objects sized 1190 nm and larger, but as a highly permeable viscoelastic liquid to non-adhesive objects smaller than 510 nm in diameter. Guided by these studies, we next sought to examine the transport of drug- and DNA-loaded nanoparticles in bovine vitreous. Biodegradable NP with diameter of 227 nm, composed of a poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)-based core coated with poly(vinyl alcohol) rapidly penetrated vitreous. Rod-shaped, highly-compacted CK30PEG10k/DNA with PEG coating (neutral surface charge; diameter ~60 nm) diffused rapidly within vitreous. These findings will help guide the development of nanoparticle-based therapeutics for the treatment of vision-threatening ocular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3693951  PMID: 23369761
Eye; Nanotechnology; Drug delivery; Gene delivery; Particle tracking
3.  Parkinson’s Disease and Risk of Fracture: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94379.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease among the elderly population. However, epidemiological evidence on the relationship of PD with risk of fracture has not been systematically assessed. Therefore, we performed this meta-analysis of prospective studies to explore the association between PD and risk of fracture.
PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and Cochrane Library up to February 26, 2014 were searched to identify eligible studies. Random-effects model was used to pool the results.
Six studies that totally involved 69,387 participants were included for analysis. Overall, PD patients had an increased risk of fracture compared with control subjects (pooled hazard ratio = 2.66, 95% confidence interval: 2.10–3.36). No publication bias was observed across studies and the subgroup as well as sensitivity analysis suggested that the general results were robust.
The present study suggested that PD is associated with an increased risk of fracture. However, given the limited number and moderate quality of included studies, well-designed prospective cohort studies are required to confirm the findings from this meta-analysis.
PMCID: PMC3979831  PMID: 24714656
4.  Prohibitin 2 Regulates the Proliferation and Lineage-Specific Differentiation of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells in Mitochondria 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e81552.
The pluripotent state of embryonic stem (ES) cells is controlled by a network of specific transcription factors. Recent studies also suggested the significant contribution of mitochondria on the regulation of pluripotent stem cells. However, the molecules involved in these regulations are still unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we found that prohibitin 2 (PHB2), a pleiotrophic factor mainly localized in mitochondria, is a crucial regulatory factor for the homeostasis and differentiation of ES cells. PHB2 was highly expressed in undifferentiated mouse ES cells, and the expression was decreased during the differentiation of ES cells. Knockdown of PHB2 induced significant apoptosis in pluripotent ES cells, whereas enhanced expression of PHB2 contributed to the proliferation of ES cells. However, enhanced expression of PHB2 strongly inhibited ES cell differentiation into neuronal and endodermal cells. Interestingly, only PHB2 with intact mitochondrial targeting signal showed these specific effects on ES cells. Moreover, overexpression of PHB2 enhanced the processing of a dynamin-like GTPase (OPA1) that regulates mitochondrial fusion and cristae remodeling, which could induce partial dysfunction of mitochondria.
Our results suggest that PHB2 is a crucial mitochondrial regulator for homeostasis and lineage-specific differentiation of ES cells.
PMCID: PMC3977857  PMID: 24709813
5.  Clinical Malaria along the China–Myanmar Border, Yunnan Province, China, January 2011–August 2012 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(4):675-678.
Passive surveillance for malaria cases was conducted in Yunnan Province, China, along the China–Myanmar border. Infection with Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum protozoa accounted for 69% and 28% of the cases, respectively. Most patients were adult men. Cross-border travel into Myanmar was a key risk factor for P. falciparum malaria in China.
PMCID: PMC3966361  PMID: 24656298
Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; clinical malaria; age distribution; sex distribution; cross-border travel; Yunnan Province; China; Myanmar; malaria; vector-borne infections; China; parasite; protozoa
6.  Disulfiram Suppresses Growth of the Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Cells in Part by Inducing Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93711.
Dithiocarbamate compound Disulfiram (DSF) that binds with copper and functions as an inhibitor of aldehyde dehydrogenase is a Food and Drug Administration approved agent for treatment of alcoholism. Copper complexed DSF (DSF-Cu) also possesses anti-tumor and chemosensitizing properties; however, its molecular mechanisms of action remain unclear. Here we investigated malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) suppressive effects of DSF-Cu and the molecular mechanisms involved. DSF-Cu inhibited growth of the murine as well as human MPM cells in part by increasing levels of ubiquitinated proteins. DSF-Cu exposure stimulated apoptosis in MPM cells that involved activation of stress-activated protein kinases (SAPKs) p38 and JNK1/2, caspase-3, and cleavage of poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase, as well as increased expression of sulfatase 1 and apoptosis transducing CARP-1/CCAR1 protein. Gene-array based analyses revealed that DSF-Cu suppressed cell growth and metastasis-promoting genes including matrix metallopeptidase 3 and 10. DSF inhibited MPM cell growth and survival by upregulating cell cycle inhibitor p27Kip1, IGFBP7, and inhibitors of NF-κB such as ABIN 1 and 2 and Inhibitory κB (IκB)α and β proteins. DSF-Cu promoted cleavage of vimentin, as well as serine-phosphorylation and lysine-63 linked ubiquitination of podoplanin. Administration of 50 mg/kg DSF-Cu by daily i.p injections inhibited growth of murine MPM cell-derived tumors in vivo. Although podoplanin expression often correlates with metastatic disease and poor prognosis, phosphorylation of serines in cytoplasmic domain of podoplanin has recently been shown to interfere with cellular motility and migration signaling. Post-translational modification of podoplanin and cleavage of vimentin by DSF-Cu underscore a metastasis inhibitory property of this agent and together with our in vivo studies underscore its potential as an anti-MPM agent.
PMCID: PMC3972204  PMID: 24690739
7.  Knockdown of the HDAC1 Promotes the Directed Differentiation of Bone Mesenchymal Stem Cells into Cardiomyocytes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92179.
Failure of the directed differentiation of the transplanted stem cells into cardiomyocytes is still a major challenge of cardiac regeneration therapy. Our recent study has demonstrated that the expression of histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) is decreased in bone mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) during their differentiation into cardiomyocytes. However, the potential roles of HDAC1 in cardiac cell differentiation of BMSCs, as well as the mechanisms involved are still unclear. In current study, the expression of HDAC1 in cultured rat BMSCs is knocked down by lentiviral vectors expressing HDAC1-RNAi. The directed differentiation of BMSCs into cardiomyocytes is evaluated by the expression levels of cardiomyocyte-related genes such as GATA-binding protein 4 (GATA-4), Nirenberg, Kim gene 2 homeobox 5 (Nkx2.5), cardiac troponin T (CTnT), myosin heavy chain (MHC), and connexin-43. Compared with that in control BMSCs, the expression of these cardiomyocyte-related genes is significantly increased in these HDAC1 deficient stem cells. The results suggest that HDAC1 is involved in the cardiomyocyte differentiation of BMSCs. Knockdown of the HDAC1 may promote the directed differentiation of BMSCs into cardiomyocytes.
PMCID: PMC3970960  PMID: 24686813
8.  The Regulation of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone-Induced Lung Tumor Promotion by Estradiol in Female A/J Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93152.
Epidemiological studies indicate that women are at a higher risk developing lung cancer than men are. It is suggested that estrogen is one of the most important factors in lung cancer development in females. Additionally, cigarette smoke, and environmental pollutants, such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), may play salient roles in female lung carcinogenesis. However, the mechanisms responsible for the interaction of these factors in the promotion of lung cancer are still poorly understood. The present study was designed to explore two ideas: first, the synergistic lung tumorigenic effects of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-butanol (NNK) combined with TCDD, 17β-estradiol (E2) or both through a long-term treatment experiment, and second, to identify early changes in the inflammatory and signaling pathways through short-term treatment experiments. The results indicate that A/J mice given E2 had strong effects in potentiating NNK-induced activation of MAPK signaling, NFκB, and COX-2 expression. In the long-term exposure model, E2 had a strong tumor promoting effect, whereas TCDD antagonized this effect in A/J mice. We conclude that treatment with NNK combined with either E2 or TCDD induces lung carcinogenesis and the promotion effects could be correlated with lung inflammation. E2 was shown to potentiate NNK-induced inflammation, cell proliferation, thereby leading to lung tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3969372  PMID: 24682076
9.  Impaired Mitochondrial Dynamics and Bioenergetics in Diabetic Skeletal Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92810.
In most cells, mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles that constantly fuse, divide and move. These processes allow mitochondria to redistribute in a cell and exchange contents among the mitochondrial population, and subsequently repair damaged mitochondria. However, most studies on mitochondrial dynamics have been performed on cultured cell lines and neurons, and little is known about whether mitochondria are dynamic organelles in vivo, especially in the highly specialized and differentiated adult skeletal muscle cells. Using mitochondrial matrix-targeted photoactivatable green fluorescent protein (mtPAGFP) and electroporation methods combined with confocal microscopy, we found that mitochondria are dynamic in skeletal muscle in vivo, which enables mitochondria exchange contents within the whole mitochondrial population through nanotunneling-mediated mitochondrial fusion. Mitochondrial network promotes rapid transfer of mtPAGFP within the cell. More importantly, the dynamic behavior was impaired in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese mice, accompanying with disturbed mitochondrial respiratory function and decreased ATP content in skeletal muscle. We further found that proteins controlling mitochondrial fusion MFN1 and MFN2 but not Opa1 were decreased and proteins governing mitochondrial fission Fis1 and Drp1 were increased in skeletal muscle of HFD-induced mice when compared to normal diet-fed mice. Altogether, we conclude that mitochondria are dynamic organelles in vivo in skeletal muscle, and it is essential in maintaining mitochondrial respiration and bioenergetics.
PMCID: PMC3962456  PMID: 24658162
10.  Bactericidal Antibiotics Increase Hydroxyphenyl Fluorescein Signal by Altering Cell Morphology 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92231.
It was recently proposed that for bactericidal antibiotics a common killing mechanism contributes to lethality involving indirect stimulation of hydroxyl radical (OH•) formation. Flow cytometric detection of OH• by hydroxyphenyl fluorescein (HPF) probe oxidation was used to support this hypothesis. Here we show that increased HPF signals in antibiotics-exposed bacterial cells are explained by fluorescence associated with increased cell size, and do not reflect reactive oxygen species (ROS) concentration. Independently of antibiotics, increased fluorescence was seen for elongated cells expressing the oxidative insensitive green fluorescent protein (GFP). Although our data question the role of ROS in lethality of antibiotics other research approaches point to important interplays between basic bacterial metabolism and antibiotic susceptibility. To underpin such relationships, methods for detecting bacterial metabolites at a cellular level are needed.
PMCID: PMC3960231  PMID: 24647480
11.  Preparation of Colloidal Gold Immunochromatographic Strip for Detection of Paragonimiasis skrjabini 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92034.
Paragonimiasis is a food-borne trematodiasis, a serious public health issue and a neglected tropical disease. Paragonimus skrjabini is a unique species found in China. Unlike paragonimiasis westermani, it is nearly impossible to make a definitive diagnosis for paragonimiasis skrjabini by finding eggs in sputum or feces. Immunodiagnosis is the best choice to detect paragonimiasis skrjabini. There is an urgent need to develop a novel, rapid and simple immunoassay for large-scale screening patients in endemic areas.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To develop a rapid, simple immunodiagnostic assay for paragonimiasis, rabbit anti-human IgG was conjugated to colloidal gold particles and used to detect antibodies in the sera of paragonimiasis patients. The synthesis and identification of colloidal gold particles and antibody-colloidal gold conjugates were performed. The size of colloidal gold particles was examined using a transmission electron microscope (TEM). The average diameter of colloidal gold particles was 17.46 nm with a range of 14.32–21.80 nm according to the TEM images. The formation of antibody-colloidal gold conjugates was monitored by UV/Vis spectroscopy. Excretory-secretory (ES) antigen of Paragonimus skrjabini was coated on nitrocellulose membrane as the capture line. Recombinant Staphylococcus protein A was used to prepare the control line. This rapid gold immunochromatographic strip was assembled in regular sequence through different accessories sticked on PVC board. The relative sensitivity and specificity of the strip was 94.4% (51/54) and 94.1% (32/34) respectively using ELISA as the standard method. Its stability and reproducibility were quite excellent after storage of the strip at 4°C for 6 months.
Immunochromatographic strip prepared in this study can be used in a rapid one-step immunochromatographic assay, which is instantaneous and convenient.
PMCID: PMC3958401  PMID: 24643068
12.  The Association of Transporter Genes Polymorphisms and Lung Cancer Chemotherapy Response 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91967.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers and is the leading cause of death worldwide. Platinum-based chemotherapy is the main treatment method in lung cancer patients. Our previous studies indicated that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in some transporter genes played important role in platinum-based chemotherapy efficacy. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of SNPs in transporter genes and platinum-based chemotherapy efficacy. The main polymorphisms on transporters OCT2, LRP, AQP2, AQP9 and TMEM205 genes were genotyped in 338 lung cancer patients. The rs195854 in genotypic model, rs896412 in genotypic and recessive models for all subjects showed significant association with chemotherapy response. In stratification analysis, TMEM205 rs896412, OCT2 rs1869641 and rs195854, AQP9 rs1516400 and AQP2 rs7314734 showed significant relation to chemotherapy response. In conclusion, the genetic polymorphisms in OCT2, AQP2, AQP9 and TMEM205 may contribute to chemotherapy response in lung cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3958404  PMID: 24643204
13.  OVA66, a Tumor Associated Protein, Induces Oncogenic Transformation of NIH3T3 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e85705.
The tumor associated antigen OVA66 has been demonstrated to be highly expressed in malignant tumors and implicated in various cellular processes. To further elucidate its oncogenic character, we established an OVA66 stably overexpressed NIH3T3 cell line and a vector transfected control, named NIH3T3-flagOVA66 and NIH3T3-mock, respectively. NIH3T3-flagOVA66 cells showed faster cell cycling, proliferation, cell migration and more resistance to 5-fluorouracil-induced apoptosis. When NIH3T3-flagOVA66 and NIH3T3-mock cells were injected into nude mice for xenograft tumorigenicity assays, the NIH3T3-flagOVA66 cells formed tumors whereas no tumors were observed in mice inoculated with NIH3T3-mock cells. Analysis of PI3K/AKT and ERK1/2 MAPK signaling pathways by serum stimulation indicated hyperactivation of AKT and ERK1/2 in NIH3T3-flagOVA66 cells compared with NIH3T3-mock cells, while a decreased level of p-AKT and p-ERK1/2 were observed in OVA66 knocked down HeLa cells. To further validate if the p-AKT or p-ERK1/2 is essential for OVA66 induced oncogenic transformation, we treated the cells with the PI3K/AKT specific inhibitor LY294002 and the ERK1/2 MAPK specific inhibitor PD98059 and found either inhibitor can attenuate the cell colony forming ability in soft agar and the cell viability of NIH3T3-flagOVA66 cells, suggesting aberrantly activated AKT and ERK1/2 signaling be indispensible of the tumorigenic role of OVA66. Our results indicate that OVA66 is important in oncogenic transformation, promoting proliferation, cell migration and reducing apoptosis via hyperactivating PI3K/AKT and ERK1/2 MAPK signaling pathway. Thus, OVA66 might be a novel target for early detection, prevention and treatment of tumors in the future.
PMCID: PMC3954546  PMID: 24633332
14.  Loss of CD11b Exacerbates Murine Complement-Mediated Tubulointerstitial Nephritis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92051.
Acute complement activation occurs in the tubulointerstitium (TI) of kidneys transplanted from Crry−/−C3−/− mice into complement-sufficient wildtype mice, followed by marked inflammatory cell infiltration, tubular damage and interstitial fibrosis. We postulated iC3b-CD11b interactions were critical in this TI nephritis model. We transplanted Crry−/−C3−/− mouse kidneys into CD11b−/− and wildtype C57BL/6 mice. Surprisingly, there was greater inflammation in Crry−/−C3−/− kidneys in CD11b−/− recipients compared to those in wildtype hosts. Kidneys in CD11b−/− recipients had large numbers of CD11b−Ly6ChiCCR2hiF4/80+ cells consistent with inflammatory (M1) macrophages recruited from circulating monocytes of the host CD11b−/− animal. There was also an expanded population of CD11b+CD11c+Ly6C−F4/80hi cells. Since these cells were CD11b+, they must have originated from the transplanted kidney; their surface protein expression and appearance within the kidney were consistent with the intrinsic renal mononuclear cellular population. These cells were markedly expanded relative to all relevant controls, including the contralateral donor kidney and Crry−/−C3−/− mouse kidneys in CD11b+/+ wildtype recipients. Direct evidence for their in situ proliferation was the presence of nuclear Ki67 and PCNA in CD11b+F4/80+ cells. Thus, in this experimental model in which there is unrestricted C3 activation, CD11b+ monocytes limit their own infiltration into the kidney and prevent proliferation of endogenous mononuclear cells. This suggests a role for outside-in iC3b-CD11b signals in limiting intrinsic organ inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3954915  PMID: 24632830
15.  Motor assessment using the NIH Toolbox 
Neurology  2013;80(11 Suppl 3):S65-S75.
Motor function involves complex physiologic processes and requires the integration of multiple systems, including neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, and cardiopulmonary, and neural motor and sensory-perceptual systems. Motor-functional status is indicative of current physical health status, burden of disease, and long-term health outcomes, and is integrally related to daily functioning and quality of life. Given its importance to overall neurologic health and function, motor function was identified as a key domain for inclusion in the NIH Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (NIH Toolbox). We engaged in a 3-stage developmental process to: 1) identify key subdomains and candidate measures for inclusion in the NIH Toolbox, 2) pretest candidate measures for feasibility across the age span of people aged 3 to 85 years, and 3) validate candidate measures against criterion measures in a sample of healthy individuals aged 3 to 85 years (n = 340). Based on extensive literature review and input from content experts, the 5 subdomains of dexterity, strength, balance, locomotion, and endurance were recommended for inclusion in the NIH Toolbox motor battery. Based on our validation testing, valid and reliable measures that are simultaneously low-cost and portable have been recommended to assess each subdomain, including the 9-hole peg board for dexterity, grip dynamometry for upper-extremity strength, standing balance test, 4-m walk test for gait speed, and a 2-minute walk test for endurance.
PMCID: PMC3662336  PMID: 23479547
16.  A Simple Chinese Risk Score Model for Screening Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89623.
The purpose of the present study was to develop and evaluate a risk score to predict people at high risk of cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction neuropathy (CAN) in Chinese population.
Methods and Materials
A population-based sample of 2,092 individuals aged 30–80 years, without previously diagnosed CAN, was surveyed between 2011 and 2012. All participants underwent short-term HRV test. The risk score was derived from an exploratory set. The risk score was developed by stepwise backward multiple logistic regression. The coefficients from this model were transformed into components of a CAN score. This score was tested in a validation and entire sample.
The final risk score included age, body mass index, hypertension, resting hear rate, items independently and significantly (P<0.05) associated with the presence of previously undiagnosed CAN. The area under the receiver operating curve was 0.726 (95% CI 0.686–0.766) for exploratory set, 0.784 (95% CI 0.749–0.818) for validation set, and 0.756 (95% CI 0.729–0.782) for entire sample. In validation set, at optimal cutoff score of 5 of 10, the risk score system has the sensitivity, specificity, and percentage that needed subsequent testing were 69, 78, and 30%, respectively.
We developed a CAN risk score system based on a set of variables not requiring laboratory tests. The score system is simple fast, inexpensive, noninvasive, and reliable tool that can be applied to early intervention to delay or prevent the disease in China.
PMCID: PMC3951191  PMID: 24621478
17.  Reversal of Bortezomib Resistance in Myelodysplastic Syndrome Cells by MAPK Inhibitors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90992.
The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) comprise a heterogeneous group of malignant neoplasms with distinctive clinicopathological features. Currently, there is no specific approach for the treatment of MDS. Here, we report that bortezomib (BTZ), a proteasome inhibitor that has been used to treat plasma cell myeloma, induced G2/M phase cycle arrest in the MDS cell line SKM-1 through upregulation of Wee1, a negative regulator of G2/M phase transition. Treatment by BTZ led to reduced SKM-1 cell viability as well as increased apoptosis and autophagy. The BTZ-induced cell death was associated with reduced expression of p-ERK. To elucidate the implications of downregulation of p-ERK, we established the BTZ resistant cell line SKM-1R. Our data show that resistance to BTZ-induced apoptosis could be reversed by the MEK inhibitors U0126 or PD98059. Our results suggest that MAPK pathway may play an important role in mediating BTZ resistance.
PMCID: PMC3946707  PMID: 24608798
18.  The Apoptotic Effect of D Rhamnose β-Hederin, a Novel Oleanane-Type Triterpenoid Saponin on Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90848.
There is growing interest in development of natural products as anti-cancer and chemopreventive agents. Many triterpenoids have been proved as potential agents for chemoprevention and therapy of breast cancer. Ginsenosides from ginseng, which mostly belong to dammarane-type triterpenoids, have gained great attention for their anti-breast cancer activity with diverse mechanisms. However, studies of other kinds of triterpenoid saponins on breast cancer are limited. Previously, we purified and identified a novel oleanane-type triterpene saponin named D Rhamnose β-hederin (DRβ-H) from Clematis ganpiniana, a Chinese traditional anti-tumor herb. In the present study, DRβ-H showed strong inhibitory activity on the growth of various breast cancer cells and induced apoptosis in these cells. DRβ-H inhibited PI3K/AKT and activated ERK signaling pathway. PI3K inhibitor LY294002 synergistically enhanced DRβ-H-induced apoptosis whereas MEK inhibitor U0126 reduced the apoptosis rate. Moreover, DRβ-H regulated the ratio of pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins. Furthermore, DRβ-H induced depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential which released Apaf-1 and Cytochrome C from the inter membrane space into the cytosol, where they promoted caspase-9 and caspase-3 activation. This is the first report on the pro-apoptotic effects of DRβ-H, a novel oleanane-type triterpenoid saponin, on breast cancer cells and its comprehensive apoptosis pathways. It implied that oleanane-type triterpenoid saponin DRβ-H could be a promising candidate for chemotherapy of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3946269  PMID: 24603880
19.  Germline Transmission of an Embryonic Stem Cell Line Derived from BALB/c Cataract Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90707.
Mice embryonic stem (ES) cells have enabled the generation of mouse strains with defined mutation(s) in their genome for putative disease loci analysis. In the study of cataract, the complex genetic background of this disease and lack of long-term self-renewal ES cells have hampered the functional researches of cataract-related genes. In this study, we aimed to establish ES cells from inherited cataract mice (BALB/CCat/Cat). Embryos of cataract mice were cultured in chemical-defined N2B27 medium with the presence of two small molecules PD0325901 and CHIR99021 (2i) and an ES cell line (named EH-BES) was successfully established. EH-BES showed long-term self-renewal in 2i medium and maintained capacity of germline transmission. Most importantly, the produced chimera and offspring developed congenital cataract as well. Flow cytometry assay revealed that EH-BES are homogeneous in expression of Oct4 and Rex1in 2i medium, which may account for their self-renewal ability. With long-term self-renewal ability and germline-competent, EH-BES cell line can facilitate genetic and functional researches of cataract-related genes and better address mechanisms of cataract.
PMCID: PMC3942454  PMID: 24595217
20.  Unique genome-wide map of TCF4 and STAT3 targets using ChIP-seq reveals their association with new molecular subtypes of glioblastoma 
Neuro-Oncology  2013;15(3):279-289.
Aberrant activation of beta-catenin/TCF4 and STAT3 signaling in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) has been reported. However, the molecular mechanisms related to this process are still poorly understood.
Genome-wide screening of the binding characteristics of the transcription factors TCF4 and STAT3 in GBM cells was performed by chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) assay. Hierarchical clustering was used to analyze the association of TCF4 and STAT3 coregulated genes with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) GBM subtypes (classical, mesenchymal, neural, and proneural). New molecular classification of GBM was proposed and validated in Western and Asian populations.
We identified 1250 overlapping putative target genes that were coregulated by TCF4 and STAT3. Further, the coregulated genes had the potential to guide TCGA GBM subtypes. Finally, we proposed a new molecular classification of GBM into 2 subtypes (proneural-like and mesenchymal-like) and showed that the new classification could be applied to both Western and Asian populations. In addition, the GBM response to temozolomide therapy differed depending on its subtype; mesenchymal-like GBM benefited, while there was no benefit for proneural-like GBM.
This is the first comprehensive study to combine a ChIP-seq assay of TCF4 and STAT3 and data mining of patient cohorts to derive molecular subtypes of GBM.
PMCID: PMC3578485  PMID: 23295773
ChIP-seq; glioblastoma; molecular subtype; STAT3; TCF4
21.  Autophagy regulates inflammation following oxidative injury in diabetes 
Autophagy  2013;9(3):272-277.
T1D (type 1 diabetes) is an autoimmune disease characterized by lymphocytic infiltration, or inflammation in pancreatic islets called ‘insulitis.’ Comparatively speaking, T2D (type 2 diabetes) is traditionally characterized by insulin resistance and islet β cell dysfunction; however, a number of studies have clearly demonstrated that chronic tissue inflammation is a key contributing factor to T2D. The NLR (Nod-like receptor) family of innate immune cell sensors such as the NLRP3 inflammasome are implicated in leading to CASP1 activation and subsequent IL1B (interleukin 1, β) and IL18 secretion in T2D. Recent developments reveal a crucial role for the autophagy pathway under conditions of oxidative stress and inflammation. Increasingly, research on autophagy has begun to focus on its role in interacting with inflammatory processes, and thereby how it potentially affects the outcome of disease progression. In this review, we explore the pathophysiological pathways associated with oxidative stress and inflammation in T2D. We also explore how autophagy influences glucose homeostasis by modulating the inflammatory response. We will provide here a perspective on the current research between autophagy, inflammation and T2D.
PMCID: PMC3590249  PMID: 23343748
autophagy; diabetes; inflammation; NLRP3 inflammasome; oxidative stress
22.  A Negative-Feedback Loop between the Detoxification/Antioxidant Response Factor SKN-1 and Its Repressor WDR-23 Matches Organism Needs with Environmental Conditions 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(17):3524-3537.
Negative-feedback loops between transcription factors and repressors in responses to xenobiotics, oxidants, heat, hypoxia, DNA damage, and infection have been described. Although common, the function of feedback is largely unstudied. Here, we define a negative-feedback loop between the Caenorhabditis elegans detoxification/antioxidant response factor SKN-1/Nrf and its repressor wdr-23 and investigate its function in vivo. Although SKN-1 promotes stress resistance and longevity, we find that tight regulation by WDR-23 is essential for growth and reproduction. By disabling SKN-1 transactivation of wdr-23, we reveal that feedback is required to set the balance between growth/reproduction and stress resistance/longevity. We also find that feedback is required to set the sensitivity of a core SKN-1 target gene to an electrophile. Interestingly, the effect of feedback on target gene induction is greatly reduced when the stress response is strongly activated, presumably to ensure maximum activation of cytoprotective genes during potentially fatal conditions. Our work provides a framework for understanding the function of negative feedback in inducible stress responses and demonstrates that manipulation of feedback alone can shift the balance of competing animal processes toward cell protection, health, and longevity.
PMCID: PMC3753843  PMID: 23836880
23.  Overweight and Obesity among Low-Income Muslim Uyghur Women in Far Western China: Correlations of Body Mass Index with Blood Lipids and Implications in Preventive Public Health 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90262.
The pandemic of obesity is a global public health concern. Most studies on obesity are skewed toward high-income and urban settings and few covers low-income populations. This study focused on the prevalence of overweight and obesity and their correlations with blood lipids/metabolites/enzymes (bio-indicators) in a rural community typical of low-income in remote western China.
This study was performed in a Muslim ethnic Uyghur rural community in Kashi Prefecture of Xinjiang, about 4,407 km (2,739 miles) away from Beijing. Body mass index (BMI) and major blood bio-indicators (25 total items) were measured and demographic information was collected from 1,733 eligible healthy women aged 21 to 71 yrs, of whom 1,452 had complete data for analysis. More than 92% of the women lived on US$1.00/day or less. According to the Chinese criteria, overweight and obesity were defined as BMI at 24 to <28 kg/m2 and at ≥28 kg/m2, respectively.
The average BMI among these low-income women was 24.0±4.0 (95% CI, 17.5–33.7) kg/m2. The prevalence of obesity and overweight was high at 15.1% and 28.9%, respectively. Among 25 bio-indicators, BMI correlated positively with the levels of 11 bio-indicators including triglycerides (TG), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), total cholesterol (TCHOL), glucose (GLU), and uric acid (UA); but negatively with the levels of 5 bio-indicators including high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and apolipoprotein A/B (APO A/B).
This is the first investigation reporting overweight and obesity being common in low-income Muslim Uyghur women, whose BMI correlates with several important blood bio-indicators which are risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These findings may help make preventive public health policies in Uyghur communities. To prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in low-income settings, we therefore propose a cost-effective, two-step strategy first to screen for obesity and then to screen persons with obesity for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3938656  PMID: 24587304
24.  The Pentachlorophenol Metabolite Tetrachlorohydroquinone Induces Massive ROS and Prolonged p-ERK Expression in Splenocytes, Leading to Inhibition of Apoptosis and Necrotic Cell Death 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89483.
Pentachlorophenol (PCP) has been used extensively as a biocide and a wood preservative and has been reported to be immunosuppressive in rodents and humans. Tetrachlorohydroquinone (TCHQ) is a major metabolite of PCP. TCHQ has been identified as the main cause of PCP-induced genotoxicity due to reactive oxidant stress (ROS). However, the precise mechanisms associated with the immunotoxic effects of PCP and TCHQ remain unclear. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of PCP and TCHQ on the induction of ROS and injury to primary mouse splenocytes. Our results shown that TCHQ was more toxic than PCP and that a high dose of TCHQ led to necrotic cell death of the splenocytes through induction of massive and sudden ROS and prolonged ROS-triggered ERK activation. Inhibition of ROS production by N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) partially restored the mitochondrial membrane potential, inhibited ERK activity, elevated caspase-3 activity and PARP cleavage, and, eventually, switched the TCHQ-induced necrosis to apoptosis. We suggest that prolonged ERK activation is essential for TCHQ-induced necrosis, and that ROS play a pivotal role in the different TCHQ-induced cell death mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3935892  PMID: 24586814
25.  Adhesive Strength of Atherosclerotic Plaque in a Mouse Model Depends on Local Collagen Content and Elastin Fragmentation 
Journal of biomechanics  2012;46(4):716-722.
Atherosclerotic plaque rupture is a major cause of myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. The adhesive strength of the bond between a plaque and the vascular wall, measured as local energy release rate, G, is used for quantitative plaque stability estimation. We tested the hypothesis that adhesive strength varies with plaque composition. Matrix metalloproteinase-12 (MMP12) deficiency was previously reported to alter lesion composition. To estimate G values, peeling experiments are performed on aortic plaques from apolipoprotein E knockout (apoE KO) and apoE MMP12 double knockout (DKO) male mice after 8 months on high-fat diet. For plaques in apoE KO and apoE MMP12 DKO mice, experimental values for G differ significantly (p<0.002) between genotypes, averaging 19.2 Joule/m2 and 12.1 J/m2, respectively. Histology confirms that plaques delaminate along their interface with the underlying internal elastic lamina (IEL) in both genotypes. Quantitative image analysis of stained tissue sections demonstrates a significant positive correlation (p<0.05) between local collagen content of lesions and G values in both genotypes, indicating that adhesive strength of plaques depends on local collagen content. Surprisingly, macrophage content of aortic plaques is neither significantly correlated with G values nor significantly different between genotypes. The IEL underlying plaques in apoE KO mice is significantly more fragmented (number of breaks and length of breaks) than in apoE MMP12 DKO mice, suggesting that elastin fragmentation also influences adhesion strength of plaques. Overall, our results suggest that plaques adhere more strongly to the underlying IEL in apoE KO mice than in apoE MMP12 DKO mice.
PMCID: PMC3568211  PMID: 23261250
atherosclerosis; mouse models; energy release rate; plaque rupture; interfacial delamination; matrix metalloproteinase

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