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1.  Developmental tuning of reflexive attentional effect to biological motion cues 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5558.
The human visual system is extremely sensitive to the direction information retrieved from biological motion. In the current study, we investigate the functional impact of this sensitivity on attentional orienting in young children. We found that children as early as 4 years old, like adults, showed a robust reflexive attentional orienting effect to the walking direction of an upright point-light walker, indicating that biological motion signals can automatically direct spatial attention at an early age. More importantly, the inversion effect associated with attentional orienting emerges by 4 years old and gradually develops into a similar pattern found in adults. These results provide strong evidence that biological motion cues can guide the distribution of spatial attention in young children, and highlight a critical development from a broadly- to finely-tuned process of utilizing biological motion cues in the human social brain.
PMCID: PMC4080220  PMID: 24990449
2.  Road traffic noise frequency and prevalent hypertension in Taichung, Taiwan: A cross-sectional study 
Environmental Health  2014;13:37.
Epidemiological studies have reported the association between hypertension and exposure to road traffic noise, but the association between noise frequency characteristics is not clear. This study investigated the association between exposure to different frequency components of road traffic noise and the prevalence of hypertension in central Taiwan.
We recruited 820 residents living near main roads for more than 3 years. Frequency components of traffic noise and traffic flow rates during 0900–1700 on weekdays were measured simultaneously in 2008. Multiple logistic regressions were conducted to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for diagnosed hypertension, adjusting for potential confounders and the total traffic flow rate.
The high-exposure group (≥ the median of noise levels [decibels, dB]) at 63 Hz, 125 Hz and 1000 Hz had ORs for hypertension of 2.77 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.17-6.52), 4.08 (95% CI: 1.57-10.63) and 1.98 (1.00-3.92) (95% CI: 1.00-3.92), respectively, compared to the low-exposure group (< the median of noise levels [dB]). There was an increasing trend in the prevalence of hypertension by exposure to road traffic noise at 63, 125 and 1000 Hz in all subjects and in men. Total subjects exposed to ≥ 51 dB at 125 Hz had an OR of 4.65 (95% CI = 1.46-14.83) compared to those exposed to < 47 dB.
With the possible bias of exposure misclassification and a bias from using diagnosed hypertension, these results suggest that exposure to road traffic noise at low and hearing-sensitive frequencies may be associated with hypertension and exposure to noise at 125 Hz may have the greatest risk for hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4038380  PMID: 24886205
Cross-sectional study; Hypertension; Prevalence; Transportation noise
3.  Comparison of conventional medicine, TCM treatment, and combination of both conventional medicine and TCM treatment for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: study protocol of a randomized comparative effectiveness research trial 
Trials  2014;15:153.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects millions worldwide. Although many therapies exist and are being developed to relieve symptoms and reduce mortality, few data are available to understand which of the therapeutic alternatives is the most cost-effective for COPD patients in everyday clinical practice, especially for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Comparative effectiveness research can help patients, clinicians, and decision-makers make best informed treatment decisions where such evidence was previously lacking. This study aims to compare the effectiveness and economic evaluation of three treatments: (1) conventional Western medicine; (2) TCM treatments, which have been evaluated and have certain effect; and (3) a combination of both conventional Western medicine and TCM treatments, and then determine which treatment is the most suitable for COPD patients.
A multicenter, pragmatic, randomized, controlled trial is adopted. A total of 360 patients will be recruited and randomly assigned to one of the three treatments group, with 120 in each group. Patients in the conventional Western medicine group will be given Salbutamol, Formoterol, Salmeterol/fluticasone, respectively, according to the guidelines. For the TCM group, patients will be given Bufei granule, Bu-Fei Jian-Pi granule, Bu-Fei Yi-Shen granule, and Yi-Qi Zi-Shen granule based on their corresponding TCM syndrome patterns, respectively. For the combination of conventional medicine and TCM treatments group, patients will be given a combination of conventional Western medicine and TCM granules. Treatments in each group are recognized as a whole comprehensive intervention. After the 26-week treatment, another 26 weeks will be followed up. The outcome measures including the frequency and duration of acute exacerbations, lung function, dyspnea, exercise capacity, quality of life, and economic evaluation will be assessed.
It is hypothesized that each of the three treatments will have beneficial effects in reducing the frequency and duration of acute exacerbations, improving exercise capacity and psychosocial function of COPD patients. In addition, the combination of conventional medicine and TCM treatments may be most suitable for COPD patients with better effectiveness and economic evaluation.
Trial registration NCT01836016.
PMCID: PMC4017822  PMID: 24885672
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Comparative effectiveness research; Traditional Chinese medicine
4.  Taxonomy of the Colocasiomyia gigantea species group (Diptera, Drosophilidae), with descriptions of four new species from Yunnan, China 
ZooKeys  2014;41-64.
Species of the genus Colocasiomyia de Meijere feed/breed on inflorescences/infructescences of the plants from the families Araceae, Arecaceae and Magnoliaceae. Although most of them utilize plants from the subfamily Aroideae of Araceae, three species of the recently established C. gigantea species group make use of plants of the subfamily Monsteroideae. We describe four new species of the gigantea group found from Yunnan, China: Colocasiomyia longifilamentata Li & Gao, sp. n., C. longivalva Li & Gao, sp. n., C. hailini Li & Gao, sp. n., and C. yini Li & Gao, sp. n. The species delimitation is proved in virtue of not only morphology but also DNA barcodes, i.e., sequences of the partial mitochondrial COI (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) gene. Some nucleotide sites with fixed status in the alignment of the COI sequences (658 sites in length) are used as “pure” molecular diagnostic characters to delineate species in the gigantea group.
PMCID: PMC4023246  PMID: 24843281
Adaptation; aroid; character-based barcoding; cohabitation; genetic distance; integrated taxonomy; Rhaphidophora clade
5.  Long-term effects of three Tiao-Bu Fei-Shen therapies on NF-κB/TGF-β1/smad2 signaling in rats with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
The three Tiao-Bu Fei-Shen (Bufei Jianpi, Bufei Yishen, Yiqi Zishen) granules have been confirmed for their beneficial clinical efficacy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients on reducing frequency and duration of acute exacerbation, improving syndromes, pulmonary function and exercise capacity. But the short- or long-term mechanism of them is not fully clear. Nuclear factor (NF)-κB/transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1/smad2 signaling pathway is involved in the progress of inflammation and remodeling in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD. This study aimed to explore the long-term effects mechanism of Tiao-Bu Fei-Shen granules by regulating NF-κB/TGF-β/Smads signaling in rats with COPD.
Sprague Dawley rats were randomized into control, model, Bufei Jianpi, Bufei Yishen, Yiqi Zishen and aminophylline groups. COPD rats, induced by cigarette smoke and bacterial infections exposures, were administrated intragastricly by normal saline, Bufei Jianpi, Bufei Yishen, Yiqi Zishen granules or aminophylline from week 9 through 20, respectively. At week 20 and 32, lung tissues were harvested. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect interleukin (IL)-1β and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used for TGF-β1 and Smad2 mRNA analysis, western blotting was used to determine the phosphorylation of NF-κB (p-NF-κB) and IκBα (p-IκBα).
COPD rats had marked airway injury, such as chronic airway inflammation and remodeling, emphysema, which were improved in the three traditional Chinese medicines (TCM)-treated animals. The levels of IL-1β, TNF-α, p-NF-κB, p-IκBα, TGF-β1 and Smad2 were significantly higher in COPD rats than in controls, while they were dramatically reduced in the three TCM- and aminophylline-treated groups. At the meantime, all these endpoints were significantly lower in three TCM-treated groups than in aminophylline group, especially in Bufei Jianpi and Bufei Yishen groups. Compared to week 20, all endpoints decreased significantly in three TCM groups at week 32.
The three Tiao-Bu Fei-Shen therapies can reduce pulmonary inflammation and remodeling in COPD and have significant long-term effects. NF-κB/TGF-β1/smad2 signaling might be involved in the mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4006455  PMID: 24766819
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Bufei jianpi; Bufei yishen; Yiqi zishen; Traditional Chinese medicine
6.  Significance of elevated ERK expression and its positive correlation with EGFR in Kazakh patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) are activated by the MAPK pathway. ERKs are downstream effectors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which belongs to the receptor tyrosine kinases family. Studies on the activation of the EGFR-ERK pathway in Kazakh patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) have not been reported. Using immunohistochemical staining on tissue microarrays, we investigated the protein expression of EGFR and ERK in 90 ethnic Kazakh patients with ESCC and 48 adjacent normal esophageal tissues (NETs). EGFR and ERK1 expression was localized in the cytoplasm, whereas ERK2 expression was localized in the nucleus. Both were more highly expression in the ESCC tissues than in the NETs, and the difference was considered significant (P = 0.003, 0.002, and 0.005, respectively). ERK1 and EGFR expression was positively correlated with lymph nodes metastasis (P = 0.011 and 0.013, respectively). ERK1 staining was also significantly associated with tumor-node-metastases stage of ESCC (P = 0.044). ERK2 staining was significantly associated with Histological grade (P = 0.012). Furthermore, ERK1 and EGFR expression in the ESCC tissues were positively correlated (r = 0.413, P < 0.001); EGFR was more highly expressed in the ESCC tissues with high ERK1 expression than in the ESCC tissues with low ERK1 expression (4.95 ± 0.57 vs. 3.21 ± 0.35, P = 0.01). This study is thus far the first to demonstrate the correlation between EGFR overexpression and ERK overexpression in Kazakh patients with ESCC. This correlation suggests that the EGFR-ERK signaling pathway participates in ESCC progression and can thus be used as a prognostic marker.
PMCID: PMC4069965  PMID: 24966948
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Kazakh; epidermal growth factor receptor; extracellular signal-regulated kinase
7.  BHBA Suppresses LPS-Induced Inflammation in BV-2 Cells by Inhibiting NF-κB Activation 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:983401.
β-Hydroxybutyric acid (BHBA) has neuroprotective effects, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear. Microglial activation plays an important role in neurodegenerative diseases by producing several proinflammatory enzymes and proinflammatory cytokines. The current study investigates the potential mechanisms whereby BHBA affects the expression of potentially proinflammatory proteins by cultured murine microglial BV-2 cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The results showed that BHBA significantly reduced LPS-induced protein and mRNA expression levels of iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6. Blocking of GPR109A by PTX resulted in a loss of this anti-inflammatory effect in BV-2 cells. Western blot analysis showed that BHBA reduced LPS-induced degradation of IκB-α and translocation of NF-κB, while no effect was observed on MAPKs phosphorylation. All results imply that BHBA significantly reduces levels of proinflammatory enzymes and proinflammatory cytokines by inhibition of the NF-κB signaling pathway but not MAPKs pathways, and GPR109A is essential to this function. Overall, these data suggest that BHBA has a potential as neuroprotective drug candidate in neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3997897  PMID: 24803746
8.  Neural competition as a developmental process: Early hemispheric specialization for word processing delays specialization for face processing 
Neuropsychologia  2013;51(5):950-959.
Little is known about the impact of learning to read on early neural development for word processing and its collateral effects on neural development in non-word domains. Here, we examined the effect of early exposure to reading on neural responses to both word and face processing in preschool children with the use of the Event Related Potential (ERP) methodology. We specifically linked children’s reading experience (indexed by their sight vocabulary) to two major neural markers: the amplitude differences between the left and right N170 on the bilateral posterior scalp sites and the hemispheric spectrum power differences in the γ band on the same scalp sites. The results showed that the left-lateralization of both the word N170 and the spectrum power in the γ band were significantly positively related to vocabulary. In contrast, vocabulary and the word left-lateralization both had a strong negative direct effect on the face right-lateralization. Also, vocabulary negatively correlated with the right-lateralized face spectrum power in the γ band even after the effects of age and the word spectrum power were partialled out. The present study provides direct evidence regarding the role of reading experience in the neural specialization of word and face processing above and beyond the effect of maturation. The present findings taken together suggest that the neural development of visual word processing competes with that of face processing before the process of neural specialization has been consolidated.
PMCID: PMC3756286  PMID: 23462239
Neural development; Face processing; Visual word processing; ERP
9.  Inactivation of miR-34a by aberrant CpG methylation in Kazakh patients with esophageal carcinoma 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an aggressive tumor with dismal prognosis and high incidence and mortality in Kazakh population. MiR-34a, a direct p53 target gene, possesses tumor-suppressive properties as they mediate apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and senescence. The reduced expression of miR-34a by methylation in various cancers has been reported.
To determine whether aberrant miR-34a methylation occurs in esophageal cancer, the DNA methylation of 23 CpGs sites in the miR-34a promoter was quantitatively analyzed in relation to the translation initiation site by MALDI -TOF mass spectrometry in 59 ESCC tissues and 34 normal tissues from the Kazakh population. Real-time PCR was used to detect the inhibition of miR-34a expression levels and to evaluate their association with methylation.
We found that miR-34a is more frequently methylated in ESCC (0.133 ± 0.040) than in controls (0.066 ± 0.045, P < 0.01). A nearly two-fold increase in miR-34a expression for the hypomethylated promoter was found in normal esophageal tissues than ESCC with hypermethylation (P <0.0001), pointing to a negative relationship between miR-34a CpG sites methylation and expression(r = −0.594, P = 0.042). The hypermethylation of miR-34a CpG_8.9 was associated with the advanced UICC stage III/IV of the esophageal cancers, and the hypermethylation of CpG_8.9 and CpG_5 of miR-34a was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis.
Our findings suggest that miR-34a is involved in the etiology of ESCC and that hypermethylated miR-34a is a potential biomarker for ESCC diagnosis and prognosis. Moreover, targeting miR-34a methylation by demethylating agents may offer a novel strategy for anticancer therapy of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3931274  PMID: 24528540
MiR-34a; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Kazakh; Methylation
10.  Simplified Serum Neutralization Test Based on Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein-Tagged Classical Swine Fever Virus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(8):2710-2712.
The neutralization immunofluorescence test (NIFT), currently used for detecting neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against classical swine fever virus (CSFV), is time-consuming. Here, a simplified neutralization test based on enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-tagged CSFV (EGFP-NT) was developed for direct detection of anti-CSFV NAbs without immunostaining. The relative sensitivity and specificity between EGFP-NT and NIFT or blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were both 100%. The NAb titers by EGFP-NT and the blocking rates by blocking ELISA showed a good correlation.
PMCID: PMC3719638  PMID: 23698523
11.  Do Preschool Children Learn to Read Words from Environmental Prints? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85745.
Parents and teachers worldwide believe that a visual environment rich with print can contribute to young children's literacy. Children seem to recognize words in familiar logos at an early age. However, most of previous studies were carried out with alphabetic scripts. Alphabetic letters regularly correspond to phonological segments in a word and provide strong cues about the identity of the whole word. Thus it was not clear whether children can learn to read words by extracting visual word form information from environmental prints. To exclude the phonological-cue confound, this study tested children's knowledge of Chinese words embedded in familiar logos. The four environmental logos were employed and transformed into four versions with the contextual cues (i.e., something apart from the presentation of the words themselves in logo format like the color, logo and font type cues) gradually minimized. Children aged from 3 to 5 were tested. We observed that children of different ages all performed better when words were presented in highly familiar logos compared to when they were presented in a plain fashion, devoid of context. This advantage for familiar logos was also present when the contextual information was only partial. However, the role of various cues in learning words changed with age. The color and logo cues had a larger effect in 3- and 4- year-olds than in 5-year-olds, while the font type cue played a greater role in 5-year-olds than in the other two groups. Our findings demonstrated that young children did not easily learn words by extracting their visual form information even from familiar environmental prints. However, children aged 5 begin to pay more attention to the visual form information of words in highly familiar logos than those aged 3 and 4.
PMCID: PMC3899066  PMID: 24465677
12.  The hot rim sign on hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HIDA) with CT correlation 
BMJ Case Reports  2012;2012:bcr0920114778.
An older male with multiple medical comorbidities presented to the emergency room after 3 days of worsening right upper quadrant pain. The patient had an elevated white blood cell count and mildly elevated liver functions. Initial ultrasound was equivocal and further imaging with CT scan was obtained. The CT scan was read as suggestive of cholecystitis, however a hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HIDA) scan was ordered for confirmation, as the patient was a poor operative candidate. The HIDA demonstrated no bile duct or small bowel activity on initial images or delays, however a classic ‘hot rim’ sign was present, confirming acute cholecystitis. The patient ultimately underwent percutaneous cholecystostomy with drainage for treatment where acute cholecystitis was confirmed. Upon retrospective review, the CT demonstrated hyperaemia surrounding the gallbladder fossa, which is the CT scan equivalent of a scintigraphic ‘hot rim’ sign. This is an uncommon example of a radiologic sign correlation between multiple imaging modalities.
PMCID: PMC3263014  PMID: 22665866
13.  Glucose buffer is suitable for blood group conversion with α-N acetylgalactosaminidase and α-galactosidase 
Blood Transfusion  2014;12(1):61-66.
It is well known that the buffer plays a key role in the enzymatic reaction involved in blood group conversion. In previous study, we showed that a glycine buffer is suitable for A to O or B to O blood group conversion. In this study, we investigated the use of 5% glucose and other buffers for A to O or B to O blood group conversion by α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase or α-galactosidase.
Materials and methods
We compared the binding ability of α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase/α-galactosidase with red blood cells (RBC) in different reaction buffers, such as normal saline, phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), a disodium hydrogen phosphate-based buffer (PCS), and 5% commercial glucose solution. The doses of enzymes necessary for the A/B to O conversion in different reaction buffers were determined and compared. The enzymes’ ability to bind to RBC was evaluated by western blotting, and routine blood typing and fluorescence activated cell sorting was used to evaluate B/A to O conversion efficiency.
The A to O conversion efficiency in glucose buffer was similar to that in glycine buffer with the same dose (>0.06 mg/mL pRBC). B to O conversion efficiency in glucose buffer was also similar to that in glycine buffer with the same dose (>0.005 mg/mL pRBC). Most enzymes could bind with RBC in glycine or glucose buffer, but few enzymes could bind with RBC in PBS, PCS, or normal saline.
These results indicate that 5% glucose solution provides a suitable condition for enzymolysis, especially for enzymes combining with RBC. Meanwhile, the conversion efficiency of A/B to O was similar in glucose buffer and glycine buffer. Moreover, 5% glucose solution has been used for years in venous transfusion, it is safe for humans and its cost is lower. Our results do, therefore, suggest that 5% glucose solution could become a novel suitable buffer for A/B to O blood group conversion.
PMCID: PMC3926730  PMID: 24333060
red blood cells; α-galactosidase; α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase; glucose; blood group conversion
14.  The effect of treatment with α-glycosidases from Bacteroides fragilis on the survival of rat erythrocytes in the circulation 
Blood Transfusion  2014;12(Suppl 1):s204-s208.
It has been demonstrated recently that α1,3-galactosidase from Bacteroides fragilis can efficiently convert human group B red blood cells (RBC) to group O cells. In addition, in vitro data indicated that the enzymatic conversion process did not affect the physiological or metabolic parameters of the RBC. The aim of this study was to investigate the lifespan of enzyme- treated RBC in vivo in the circulation.
Materials and methods
This was an experimental, randomised study. The rat was selected as the experimental subject because it expresses α-1,3galactosyl on its RBC. The efficiency of Galα1,3Gal epitope removal from RBC treated with α1,3-galactosidase was tested before the transfusion experiment to track the survival of RBC in the circulation. The animals were divided into three groups and injected via the tail vein with native, mock-treated or enzyme-treated RBC labelled with fluorescein isothiocyanate. The survival rates of the fluorescently labelled RBC were monitored by flow cytometry.
Flow cytometry showed that α-galactosidase (0.02 mg/mL for RBC with a haematocrit of 30%) efficiently removed Galα1,3Gal epitopes from rat erythrocytes, although small amounts of remaining Galα1,3Gal epitopes were still detected. The in vivo data demonstrated that the half-life of enzyme-treated RBC was a little shorter than that of native RBC. However, the 24-hour survival fractions of native, mock-treated and enzyme-treated RBC were virtually identical. Most importantly, the enzyme-treated RBC, like the native RBC, were still detectable 35 days after transfusion.
Our results indicate that α-glycosidase treatment had little effect on the in vivo survival kinetics of RBC. These data add further support to the feasibility of translating enzymatic conversion technology into clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3934257  PMID: 23149140
α1,3-galactosidase; Bacteroides fragilis; rat red blood cells; lifespan
15.  IL-21 Modulates Release of Proinflammatory Cytokines in LPS-Stimulated Macrophages through Distinct Signaling Pathways 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:548073.
The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of IL-21 on LPS-induced mouse peritoneal macrophages. The results showed that IL-21 significantly inhibited LPS-induced mRNA expression of IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-6 in macrophages, but not of IFN-γ, IL-10, CCL5, or CXCL2. ELISA analysis showed that IL-21 also suppressed LPS-induced production of TNF-α and IL-6 in culture supernatants. Western blot analysis showed that IL-21 clearly inhibited ERK and IκBα phosphorylation and NF-κB translocation in LPS-stimulated macrophages, but it increased STAT3 phosphorylation. Flow cytometric and Western blot analysis showed that IL-21 decreased M1 macrophages surface markers expression of CD86, iNOS, and TLR4 in LPS-stimulated cells. All results suggested that IL-21 decreases IL-6 and TNF-α production via inhibiting the phosphorylation of ERK and translocation of NF-κB and promotes a shift from the M1 to M2 macrophage phenotype by decreasing the expression of CD86, iNOS, and TLR4 and by increasing STAT3 phosphorylation in LPS-stimulated cells.
PMCID: PMC3888770  PMID: 24574581
16.  Psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score for diagnosis of minimal hepatic encephalopathy in China 
AIM: To construct normal values for the tests of the psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score (PHES) and to evaluate its usefulness in the diagnosis of minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) among Chinese individuals with cirrhosis.
METHODS: The five tests of PHES, number connection test-A (NCT-A), number connection test-B, serial dotting test, line tracing test and digit symbol test (DST), were administered to all enrolled subjects in a quiet room with sufficient light. Cirrhotic subjects with overt HE were excluded by the West-Haven criteria and a detailed neurological examination. Based on the nomograms of healthy volunteers, the patients were classified as having MHE when their PHES was less than -4.
RESULTS: In total, 146 healthy volunteers completed all the PHES tests. Age and education years were confirmed to be predictors of all five tests. In total, 53 patients with liver cirrhosis completed the PHES. Of the patients with liver cirrhosis, 24 (45.3%), 22(41.5%) and 7(13.2%) had Child-Pugh grades A, B and C, respectively. MHE was diagnosed in 26 patients (49.1%). Compared with compensated cirrhotic patients (Child A), decompensated cirrhotic patients (Child B and C) had a higher proportion of MHE (65.5% vs 29.2%). No differences in age and education years were found between the MHE and non-MHE groups. NCT-A and DST were able to diagnose MHE with a sensitivity of 76.9% and a specificity of 96.3% (AUC = 0.866, K = 0.735).
CONCLUSION: The proportion of MHE is associated with liver function. NCT-A and DST are simple tools that can be used for the diagnosis of MHE in China.
PMCID: PMC3870523  PMID: 24379595
Cirrhosis; Minimal hepatic encephalopathy; Neuropsychological tests; Psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score; Number connection test; Digit symbol test
17.  Self-Assessment on the Competencies and Reported Improvement Priorities for Pediatrics Residents 
Self-assessment and self-directed learning are essential to becoming an effective physician.
To identify factors associated with resident self-assessment on the competencies, and to determine whether residents chose areas of self-assessed relative weakness as areas for improvement in their Individualized Learning Plan (ILP).
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the American Academy of Pediatrics' PediaLink ILP database. Pediatrics residents self-assessed their competency in the 6 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education competencies using a color-coded slider scale with end anchors “novice” and “proficient” (0–100), and then chose at least 1 competency to improve. Multivariate regression explored the relationship between overall confidence in core competencies, sex, level of training, and degree (MD or DO) status. Correlation examined whether residents chose to improve competencies in which they rated themselves as lower.
A total of 4167 residents completed an ILP in academic year 2009–2010, with residents' ratings improving from advanced beginner (48 on a 0–100 scale) in postgraduate year-1 residents (PGY-1s) to competent (75) in PGY-3s. Residents rated themselves as most competent in professionalism (mean, 75.3) and least competent in medical knowledge (mean, 55.8) and systems-based practice (mean, 55.2). In the adjusted regression model, residents' competency ratings increased by level of training and whether they were men. In PGY-3s, there was no difference between men and women. Residents selected areas for improvement that correlated to competencies where they had rated themselves lower (P < .01).
Residents' self-assessment of their competencies increased by level of training, although residents rated themselves as least competent in medical knowledge and systems-based practice, even as PGY-3s. Residents tended to choose subcompetencies, which they rated as lower to focus on improving.
PMCID: PMC3546573  PMID: 24294420
18.  Identification of Candidate Serum Proteins for Classifying Well-Differentiated Small Intestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81712.
Patients with well-differentiated small intestine neuroendocrine tumors (WD-SI-NETs) are most often diagnosed at a metastatic stage of disease, which reduces possibilities for a curative treatment. Thus new approaches for earlier detection and improved monitoring of the disease are required.
Materials and Methods
Suspension bead arrays targeting 124 unique proteins with antibodies from the Human Protein Atlas were used to profile biotinylated serum samples. Discoveries from a cohort of 77 individuals were followed up in a cohort of 132 individuals both including healthy controls as well as patients with untreated primary WD-SI-NETs, lymph node metastases and liver metastases.
A set of 20 antibodies suggested promising proteins for further verification based on technically verified statistical significance. Proceeding, we assessed the classification performance in an independent cohort of patient serum, achieving, classification accuracy of up to 85% with different subsets of antibodies in respective pairwise group comparisons. The protein profiles of nine targets, namely IGFBP2, IGF1, SHKBP1, ETS1, IL1α, STX2, MAML3, EGR3 and XIAP were verified as significant contributors to tumor classification.
We propose new potential protein biomarker candidates for classifying WD-SI-NETs at different stage of disease. Further evaluation of these proteins in larger sample sets and with alternative approaches is needed in order to further improve our understanding of their functional relation to WD-SI-NETs and their eventual use in diagnostics.
PMCID: PMC3839889  PMID: 24282616
19.  Hemoglobin Subunit Beta Interacts with the Capsid Protein and Antagonizes the Growth of Classical Swine Fever Virus 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(10):5707-5717.
The capsid (C) protein of the Flaviviridae family members is involved in nucleocapsid formation and virion assembly. However, the influence of C protein-interacting partners on the outcome of pestivirus infections is poorly defined. In this study, hemoglobin subunit beta (HB) was identified as a C protein-binding protein by glutathione S-transferase pulldown and subsequent mass spectrometry analysis of PK-15 cells, which are permissive cells for classical swine fever virus (CSFV). Coimmunoprecipitation and confocal microscopy confirmed that HB interacts and colocalizes with the C protein in the cytoplasm. Silencing of HB with small interfering RNAs promoted CSFV growth and replication, whereas overexpression of HB suppressed CSFV replication and growth. Interestingly, HB was found to interact with retinoic acid-inducible gene I and increase its expression, resulting in increased production of type I interferon (IFN). However, HB was unable to suppress CSFV growth when the RIG-I pathway was blocked. Overall, our results suggest that cellular HB antagonizes CSFV growth and replication by triggering IFN signaling, and might represent a novel antiviral restriction factor. This study reports for the first time the novel role of HB in innate immunity.
PMCID: PMC3648164  PMID: 23487454
20.  Short-Chain Fatty Acids Inhibit Growth Hormone and Prolactin Gene Transcription via cAMP/PKA/CREB Signaling Pathway in Dairy Cow Anterior Pituitary Cells 
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) play a key role in altering carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, influence endocrine pancreas activity, and as a precursor of ruminant milk fat. However, the effect and detailed mechanisms by which SCFAs mediate bovine growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) gene transcription remain unclear. In this study, we detected the effects of SCFAs (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) on the activity of the cAMP/PKA/CREB signaling pathway, GH, PRL, and Pit-1 gene transcription in dairy cow anterior pituitary cells (DCAPCs). The results showed that SCFAs decreased intracellular cAMP levels and a subsequent reduction in PKA activity. Inhibition of PKA activity decreased CREB phosphorylation, thereby inhibiting GH and PRL gene transcription. Furthermore, PTX blocked SCFAs- inhibited cAMP/PKA/CREB signaling pathway. These data showed that the inhibition of GH and PRL gene transcription induced by SCFAs is mediated by Gi activation and that propionate is more potent than acetate and butyrate in inhibiting GH and PRL gene transcription. In conclusion, this study identifies a biochemical mechanism for the regulation of SCFAs on bovine GH and PRL gene transcription in DCAPCs, which may serve as one of the factors that regulate pituitary function in accordance with dietary intake.
PMCID: PMC3856016  PMID: 24177567
short-chain fatty acids; dairy cow; growth hormone; prolactin; G protein
21.  Mir-24 Regulates Junctophilin-2 Expression in Cardiomyocytes 
Circulation research  2012;111(7):837-841.
Failing cardiomyocytes exhibit decreased efficiency of excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling. The down-regulation of junctophilin-2 (JP2), a protein anchoring the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) to T-tubules (TTs), has been identified as a major mechanism underlying the defective E-C coupling. However, the regulatory mechanism of JP2 remains unknown.
To determine whether microRNAs regulate JP2 expression.
Methods and Results
Bioinformatic analysis predicted two potential binding sites of miR-24 in the 3′-untranslated regions of JP2 mRNA. Luciferase assays confirmed that miR-24 suppressed JP2 expression by binding to either of these sites. In the aortic stenosis model, miR-24 was up-regulated in failing cardiomyocytes. Adenovirus-directed over-expression of miR-24 in cardiomyocytes decreased JP2 expression and reduced Ca2+ transient amplitude and E-C coupling gain.
MiR-24-mediated suppression of JP2 expression provides a novel molecular mechanism for E-C coupling regulation in heart cells, and suggests a new target against heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3611051  PMID: 22891046
myocardial contractility; excitation-contraction coupling; heart failure; calcium signaling; heart failure
22.  Ultrastructural remodelling of Ca2+ signalling apparatus in failing heart cells 
Cardiovascular Research  2012;95(4):430-438.
The contraction of a heart cell is controlled by Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release between L-type Ca2+ channels (LCCs) in the cell membrane/T-tubules (TTs) and ryanodine receptors (RyRs) in the junctional sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). During heart failure, LCC–RyR signalling becomes defective. The purpose of the present study was to reveal the ultrastructural mechanism underlying the defective LCC–RyR signalling and contractility.
Methods and results
In rat models of heart failure produced by transverse aortic constriction surgery, stereological analysis of transmission electron microscopic images showed that the volume density and the surface area of junctional SRs and those of SR-coupled TTs were both decreased in failing heart cells. The TT–SR junctions were displaced or missing from the Z-line areas. Moreover, the spatial span of individual TT–SR junctions was markedly reduced in failing heart cells. Numerical simulation and junctophilin-2 knockdown experiments demonstrated that the decrease in junction size (and thereby the constitutive LCC and RyR numbers) led to a scattered delay of Ca2+ release activation.
The shrinking and eventual absence of TT–SR junctions are important mechanisms underlying the desynchronized and inhomogeneous Ca2+ release and the decreased contractile strength in heart failure. Maintaining the nanoscopic integrity of TT–SR junctions thus represents a therapeutic strategy against heart failure and related cardiomyopathies.
PMCID: PMC3422078  PMID: 22707157
Heart failure; Ultrastructure; Calcium channel; Excitation–contraction coupling
23.  Poly(C)-Binding Protein 1, a Novel Npro-Interacting Protein Involved in Classical Swine Fever Virus Growth 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(4):2072-2080.
Npro is a multifunctional autoprotease unique to pestiviruses. The interacting partners of the Npro protein of classical swine fever virus (CSFV), a swine pestivirus, have been insufficiently defined. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen, we identified poly(C)-binding protein 1 (PCBP1) as a novel interacting partner of the CSFV Npro protein and confirmed this by coimmunoprecipitation, glutathione S-transferase (GST) pulldown, and confocal assays. Knockdown of PCBP1 by small interfering RNA suppressed CSFV growth, while overexpression of PCBP1 promoted CSFV growth. Furthermore, we showed that type I interferon was downregulated by PCBP1, as well as Npro. Our results suggest that cellular PCBP1 positively modulates CSFV growth.
PMCID: PMC3571455  PMID: 23221550
24.  Influence of serum adiponectin level and SNP +45 polymorphism of adiponectin gene on myocardial fibrosis*  
Adiponectin plays an important role in the development of hypertension, atherosclerosis, and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, but very little was known about the influence of serum adiponectin or the adiponectin gene polymorphism on myocardial fibrosis. Our study investigates the influence of the SNP +45 polymorphism of the adiponectin gene and serum levels of adiponectin on myocardial fibrosis in patients with essential hypertension. A case-control study was conducted on 165 hypertensive patients and 126 normotensive healthy controls. The genotypes of adiponectin gene polymorphisms were detected by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. Serum concentrations of procollagen were measured by a double antibody sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in all subjects. The integrated backscatter score (IBS) was measured in the left ventricular myocardium using echocardiography. The serum levels of adiponectin in hypertensive patients were significantly lower than those in the normal control group ((2.69±1.0) μg/ml vs. (4.21±2.89) μg/ml, respectively, P<0.001). The serum levels of type-I procollagen carboxyl end peptide (PICP) and type-III procollagen ammonia cardinal extremity peptide (PIIINP) in the hypertension group were significantly higher than those in the control group. In the hypertension group, serum levels of adiponectin were significantly and negatively related to the average acoustic intensity and corrected acoustic intensity of the myocardium (r=0.46 and 0.61, respectively, P<0.05 for both). The serum levels of PICP and PIIINP were significantly different among the three genotypes of SNP +45 (P<0.01). Logistic regression analyses showed that sex and genotype (GG+GT) were the major risk factors of myocardial fibrosis in hypertensive patients (OR=5.343 and 3.278, respectively, P<0.05). These data suggest that lower levels of adiponectin and SNP +45 polymorphism of the adiponectin gene are likely to play an important role in myocardial fibrosis in hypertensive patients.
PMCID: PMC3735972  PMID: 23897791
Hypertension; Myocardial fibrosis; Adiponectin gene; Type-I procollagen carboxyl end peptide (PICP); Type-III procollagen ammonia cardinal extremity peptide (PIIINP)
25.  Manganese superoxide dismutase induces migration and invasion of tongue squamous cell carcinoma via H2O2-dependent Snail signaling 
Our previous studies had revealed that the dysregulation of manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2) expression was a frequent event in tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) and may be associated with enhanced metastatic potential. To further evaluate the mechanism of SOD2-mediated metastasis in TSCC, TSCC cell lines with different metastatic potential (i.e., the highly metastatic UM1 line and the UM2 line, which displays fewer metastases) were used. Compared to UM2 cells, UM1 cells exhibited significantly higher SOD2 activity and intracellular H2O2, higher protein levels of Snail, MMP-1 and pERK1/2, lower protein levels of E-cadtherin, and not difference of catalase activity. Upon knockdown of SOD2 by RNA interference, UM1 cells displayed significantly reduced migration and invasion abilities, reduced activities of SOD2, lower intracellular H2O2, decreased protein levels of Snail, MMP-1 and pERK1/2, and increased protein levels of E-cadtherin. Migration and invasion ability of UM2 and SOD2 shRNA-transfected UM1 cells were enhanced by H2O2 treatment and accompanied by increased protein levels of Snail, MMP-1 and pERK1/2, and decreased protein levels of E-cadtherin. Moreover the migration and invasion ability of UM1 cells were decreased after catalase treatment. Thus, we conclude that the SOD2-dependent production of H2O2 contributes to both the migration and invasion of TSCC via the Snail signaling pathway through increased Snail, MMP-1 and pERK1/2 protein levels, and the repression of the E-cadtherin protein.
PMCID: PMC3377784  PMID: 22580338
SOD2; tongue squamous cell carcinoma; metastasis; Snail; H2O2

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