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1.  Targeted Inhibition of the Molecular Chaperone Hsp90 Overcomes ALK Inhibitor Resistance in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Cancer discovery  2013;3(4):430-443.
EML4-ALK gene rearrangements define a unique subset of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and the clinical success of the ALK inhibitor crizotinib in this population has become a paradigm for molecularly-targeted therapy. Here we show that the Hsp90 inhibitor ganetespib induced loss of EML4-ALK expression and depletion of multiple oncogenic signaling proteins in ALK-driven NSCLC cells, resulting in greater in vitro potency, superior antitumor efficacy and prolonged animal survival compared to crizotinib. In addition, combinatorial benefit was seen when ganetespib was used with other targeted ALK agents both in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, ganetespib overcame multiple forms of crizotinib resistance, including secondary ALK mutations, consistent with activity seen in a NSCLC patient with crizotinib-resistant disease. Cancer cells driven by ALK amplification and oncogenic rearrangements of ROS1 and RET kinases were also sensitive to ganetespib exposure. Taken together, these results highlight the therapeutic potential of ganetespib for ALK-driven NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4086149  PMID: 23533265
Hsp90 inhibition; non-small cell lung cancer; anaplastic lymphoma kinase; ganetespib; crizotinib resistance
2.  Early life versus lifelong oral manganese exposure differently impairs skilled forelimb performance in adult rats 
Recent studies of children suggest that exposure to elevated manganese (Mn) levels disrupt aspects of motor, cognitive and behavioral functions that are dependent on dopamine brain systems. Although basal ganglia motor functions are well-known targets of adult occupational Mn exposure, the extent of motor function deficits in adults as a result of early life Mn exposure is unknown. Here we used a rodent model early life versus lifelong oral Mn exposure and the Montoya staircase test to determine whether developmental Mn exposure produces long-lasting deficits in sensorimotor performance in adulthood. Long-Evans male neonate rats (n=11/treatment) were exposed daily to oral Mn at levels of 0, 25, or 50 mg Mn/kg/d from postnatal day (PND) 1-21 (early life only), or from PND 1 - throughout life. Staircase testing began at age PND 120 and lasted 1 month to objectively quantify measures of skilled forelimb use in reaching and pellet grasping/retrieval performance. Behavioral reactivity also was rated on each trial. Results revealed that (1) behavioral reactivity scores were significantly greater in the Mn-exposed groups, compared to controls, during the staircase acclimation/training stage, but not the latter testing stages, (2) early life Mn exposure alone caused long-lasting impairments in fine motor control of reaching skills at the higher, but not lower Mn dose, (3) lifelong Mn exposure from drinking water led to widespread impairment in reaching and grasping/retrieval performance in adult rats, with the lower Mn dose group showing the greatest impairment, and (4) lifelong Mn exposure produced similar (higher Mn group) or more severe (lower Mn group) impairments compared to their early life-only Mn exposed counterparts. Collectively, these results substantiate the emerging clinical evidence in children showing associations between environmental Mn exposure and deficits in fine sensorimotor function. They also show that the objective quantification of skilled motor performance using the staircase test can serve as a sensitive measure of early life insults from environmental agents. Supported by NIEHS R01ES018990.
PMCID: PMC3713098  PMID: 23623961
adult rats; Manganese; water intake; Montoya staircase test; skilled motor behavior; animal model, persistent effect, developmental exposure
3.  Cfh Genotype Interacts With Dietary Glycemic Index to Modulate Age-Related Macular Degeneration-Like Features in Mice 
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual impairment worldwide. Genetics and diet contribute to the relative risk for developing AMD, but their interactions are poorly understood. Genetic variations in Complement Factor H (CFH), and dietary glycemic index (GI) are major risk factors for AMD. We explored the effects of GI on development of early AMD-like features and changes to central nervous system (CNS) inflammation in Cfh-null mice.
Aged 11-week-old wild type (WT) C57Bl/6J or Cfh-null mice were group pair-fed high or low GI diets for 33 weeks. At 10 months of age, mice were evaluated for early AMD-like features in the neural retina and RPE by light and electron microscopy. Brains were analyzed for Iba1 macrophage/microglia immunostaining, an indicator of inflammation.
The 10-month-old WT mice showed no retinal abnormalities on either diet. The Cfh-null mice, however, showed distinct early AMD-like features in the RPE when fed a low GI diet, including vacuolation, disruption of basal infoldings, and increased basal laminar deposits. The Cfh-null mice also showed thinning of the RPE, hypopigmentation, and increased numbers of Iba1-expressing macrophages in the brain, irrespective of diet.
The presence of early AMD-like features by 10 months of age in Cfh-null mice fed a low GI diet is surprising, given the apparent protection from the development of such features in aged WT mice or humans consuming lower GI diets. Our findings highlight the need to consider gene–diet interactions when developing animal models and therapeutic approaches to treat AMD.
Risk for and progression of AMD are enhanced in all cohorts of humans and mice that consumed higher glycemic index diets. In contrast, in Cfh-null mice, RPE showed AMD-like features only when fed a low glycemic index diet, emphasizing the importance of gene–diet interactions.
PMCID: PMC3901416  PMID: 24370827
glycemic index; complement; gene-diet interaction; inflammation; aging
4.  Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Dictyostelium discoideum Aggregation Streams 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99319.
High resolution imaging mass spectrometry could become a valuable tool for cell and developmental biology, but both, high spatial and mass spectral resolution are needed to enable this. In this report, we employed Bi3 bombardment time-of-flight (Bi3 ToF-SIMS) and C60 bombardment Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance secondary ion mass spectrometry (C60 FTICR-SIMS) to image Dictyostelium discoideum aggregation streams. Nearly 300 lipid species were identified from the aggregation streams. High resolution mass spectrometry imaging (FTICR-SIMS) enabled the generation of multiple molecular ion maps at the nominal mass level and provided good coverage for fatty acyls, prenol lipids, and sterol lipids. The comparison of Bi3 ToF-SIMS and C60 FTICR-SIMS suggested that while the first provides fast, high spatial resolution molecular ion images, the chemical complexity of biological samples warrants the use of high resolution analyzers for accurate ion identification.
PMCID: PMC4049834  PMID: 24911189
5.  Golgi Phosphoprotein 4 (GPP130) is a Sensitive and Selective Cellular Target of Manganese Exposure 
Synapse (New York, N.Y.)  2013;67(5):205-215.
Chronic elevated exposure to manganese (Mn) is associated with neurocognitive and fine motor deficits in children. However, relatively little is understood about cellular responses to Mn spanning the transition between physiologic to toxic levels of exposure. Here, we investigated the specificity, sensitivity, and time course of the Golgi Phosphoprotein 4 (GPP130) response to Mn exposure in AF5 GABAergic neuronal cells, and we determined the extent to which GPP130 degradation occurs in brain cells in vivo in rats subchronically exposed to Mn. Our results show that GPP130 degradation in AF5 cells was specific to Mn, and did not occur following exposure to cobalt, copper, iron, nickel, or zinc. GPP130 degradation occurred without measurable increases in intracellular Mn levels and at Mn exposures as low as 0.54 µM. GPP130 protein was detectable by immunofluorescence in only ~15–30% of cells in striatal and cortical rat brain slices, and Mn-exposed animals exhibited a significant reduction in both the number of GPP130-positive cells, and the overall levels of GPP130 protein, demonstrating the in vivo relevance of this Mn-specific response within the primary target organ of Mn toxicity. These results provide insight into specific mechanism(s) of cellular Mn regulation and toxicity within the brain, including the selective susceptibility of cells to Mn cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3987769  PMID: 23280773
neurotoxicity; GABAergic; manganese; rodents; AF5 cells; homeostasis
6.  β-Cryptoxanthin Restores Nicotine-Reduced Lung SIRT1 to Normal Levels and Inhibits Nicotine-Promoted Lung Tumorigenesis and Emphysema in A/J Mice 
Nicotine, a large constituent of cigarette smoke, is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, but the data supporting this relationship are inconsistent. Here, we found that nicotine treatment not only induced emphysema but also increased both lung tumor multiplicity and volume in 4-nitrosamino-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)-initiated lung cancer in A/J mice. This tumor-promoting effect of nicotine was accompanied by significant reductions in survival probability and lung Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) expression, which has been proposed as a tumor suppressor. The decreased level of SIRT1 was associated with increased levels of AKT phosphorylation and interleukin (il)-6 mRNA but decreased tumor suppressor p53 and retinoic acid receptor (RAR)-β mRNA levels in the lungs. Using this mouse model, we then determined whether β-cryptoxanthin (BCX), a xanthophyll that is strongly associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer in several cohort studies, can inhibit nicotine-induced emphysema and lung tumorigenesis. We found that BCX supplementation at two different doses was associated with reductions of the nicotine-promoted lung tumor multiplicity and volume, as well as emphysema in mice treated with both NNK and nicotine. Moreover, BCX supplementation restored the nicotine-suppressed expression of lung SIRT1, p53, and RAR-β to that of the control group, increased survival probability; and decreased the levels of lung il-6 mRNA and phosphorylation of AKT. The present study indicates that BCX is a preventive agent against emphysema and lung cancer with SIRT1 as a potential target. In addition, our study establishes a relevant animal lung cancer model for studying tumor growth within emphysematous microenvironments.
PMCID: PMC3618609  PMID: 23275008
nicotine; β-cryptoxanthin; NNK; lung cancer; emphysema; SIRT1
7.  Hair as a Biomarker of Environmental Manganese Exposure 
Environmental science & technology  2013;47(3):1629-1637.
The absence of well-validated biomarkers of manganese (Mn) exposure in children remains a major obstacle for studies of Mn toxicity. We developed a hair cleaning methodology to establish the utility of hair as an exposure biomarker for Mn and other metals (Pb, Cr, Cu), using ICP-MS, scanning electron microscopy, and laser ablation ICP-MS to evaluate cleaning efficacy. Exogenous metal contamination on hair that was untreated or intentionally contaminated with dust or Mn-contaminated water was effectively removed using a cleaning method of 0.5% Triton X-100 sonication plus 1N nitric acid sonication. This cleaning method was then used on hair samples from children (n=121) in an ongoing study of environmental Mn exposure and related health effects. Mean hair Mn levels were 0.121 μg/g (median = 0.073 μg/g, range = 0.011 – 0.736 μg/g), which are ~4 to 70-fold lower than levels reported in other pediatric Mn studies. Hair Mn levels were also significantly higher in children living in the vicinity of active, but not historic, ferroalloy plant emissions compared to controls (P<0.001). These data show that exogenous metal contamination on hair can be effectively cleaned of exogenous metal contamination, and they substantiate the use of hair Mn levels as a biomarker of environmental Mn exposure in children.
PMCID: PMC3583582  PMID: 23259818
9.  Maternal Blood, Plasma, and Breast Milk Lead: Lactational Transfer and Contribution to Infant Exposure 
Background: Human milk is a potential source of lead exposure. Yet lactational transfer of lead from maternal blood into breast milk and its contribution to infant lead burden remains poorly understood.
Objectives: We explored the dose–response relationships between maternal blood, plasma, and breast milk to better understand lactational transfer of lead from blood and plasma into milk and, ultimately, to the breastfeeding infant.
Methods: We measured lead in 81 maternal blood, plasma, and breast milk samples at 1 month postpartum and in 60 infant blood samples at 3 months of age. Milk-to-plasma (M/P) lead ratios were calculated. Multivariate linear, piecewise, and generalized additive models were used to examine dose–response relationships between blood, plasma, and milk lead levels.
Results: Maternal lead levels (mean ± SD) were as follows: blood: 7.7 ± 4.0 μg/dL; plasma: 0.1 ± 0.1 μg/L; milk: 0.8 ± 0.7 μg/L. The average M/P lead ratio was 7.7 (range, 0.6–39.8) with 97% of the ratios being > 1. The dose–response relationship between plasma lead and M/P ratio was nonlinear (empirical distribution function = 6.5, p = 0.0006) with the M/P ratio decreasing by 16.6 and 0.6 per 0.1 μg/L of plasma lead, respectively, below and above 0.1 μg/L plasma lead. Infant blood lead level (3.4 ± 2.2 μg/dL) increased by 1.8 μg/dL per 1 μg/L milk lead (p < 0.0001, R2 = 0.3).
Conclusions: The M/P ratio for lead in humans is substantially higher than previously reported, and transfer of lead from plasma to milk may be higher at lower levels of plasma lead. Breast milk is an important determinant of lead burden among breastfeeding infants.
Citation: Ettinger AS, Roy A, Amarasiriwardena CJ, Smith DR, Lupoli N, Mercado-García A, Lamadrid-Figueroa H, Tellez-Rojo MM, Hu H, Hernández-Avila M. 2014. Maternal blood, plasma, and breast milk lead: lactational transfer and contribution to infant exposure. Environ Health Perspect 122:87–92;
PMCID: PMC3888576  PMID: 24184948
10.  Predictors of virtual radial arm maze performance in adolescent Italian children 
Neurotoxicology  2012;33(5):1203-1211.
Comparisons between animal and human neurotoxicology studies are a foundation of risk assessment, but are hindered by differences in measured behaviors. The Radial Arm Maze (RAM), a rodent visuospatial learning and memory task, has a computerized version for use in children, which may help improve comparisons between animal and human studies.
To describe the characteristics and correlates of the Virtual Radial Arm Maze (VRAM) in 255 children age 10–15 years from Italy.
We administered the VRAM using a laptop computer and measured children’s performance using the latency, distance, and working/reference memory errors during eight trials. Using generalized linear mixed models, we described VRAM performance in relation to demographic factors, child activities, and several standard neuropsychologic tests (Italian translations), including the Conners Parent Rating Scales-Short Version (CPRS), California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, finger tapping speed, reaction time, and motor skills.
Children’s VRAM performance tended to improve between trials 1–6 and then plateaued between trials 6–8. Males finished the task 14 seconds faster (95% Confidence Interval [CI]:-20, -9) than females. Children who played 2+ hours of video games per day finished 16 seconds faster (CI:-26, -6) and with 34% (CI:5, 54%) fewer working memory errors than children who reported not playing video games. Higher IQ and better CVLT scores were associated with better VRAM performance. Higher Cognitive/Inattention CPRS scores were associated with more working (11%; CI:1, 22) and reference memory errors (7%; CI:1, 12).
Consistent with animal studies, VRAM performance improved over the course of test trials and males performed better than females. Better VRAM performance was related to higher IQ, fewer inattentive behaviors, and better verbal memory. The VRAM may help improve the integration and comparison between animal and epidemiological studies of environmental neurotoxicants.
PMCID: PMC3470779  PMID: 22771383
Child behavior; computerized tests; environmental chemicals; epidemiology; toxicology
Environmental research  2012;118:65-71.
Pediatric lead (Pb) exposure impacts cognitive function and behavior and co-exposure to manganese (Mn) may enhance neurotoxicity.
To assess cognitive and behavioral function in adolescents with environmental exposure to Pb and Mn.
In this cross sectional study, cognitive function and behavior were examined in healthy adolescents with environmental exposure to metals. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Conners-Wells’ Adolescent Self-Report Scale Long Form (CASS:L) were used to assess cognitive and behavioral function respectively. ALAD polymorphisms rs1800435 and rs1139488 were measured as potential modifiers.
We examined 299 adolescents (49.2% females) aged 11–14 years. Blood lead (BPb) averaged 1.71 μg/dL (median 1.5, range 0.44 – 10.2), mean Blood Manganese (BMn) was 11.1 μg/dL (median 10.9, range 4.00 – 24.1). Average total IQ was 106.3 (verbal IQ = 102, performance IQ = 109.3). According to a multiple regression model considering the effect of other covariates, a reduction of about 2.4 IQ points resulted from a two-fold increase of BPb. The Benchmark Level of BPb associated with a loss of 1 IQ-point (BML01) was 0.19 μg/dL, with a lower 95% confidence limit (BMLL01) of 0.11 μg/dL. A very weak correlation resulted between BPb and the ADHD-like behavior (Kendall’s tau rank correlation = 0.074, p =0.07). No influence of ALAD genotype was observed on any outcome. Manganese was not associated with cognitive and behavioral outcomes, nor was there any interaction with lead.
These findings demonstrate that very low level of lead exposure has a significant negative impact on cognitive function in adolescent children. Being an essential micro-nutrient, manganese may not cause cognitive effects at these low exposure levels.
PMCID: PMC3477579  PMID: 22925625
Neurotoxicology  2012;33(4):687-696.
Background and Objective
Increased prevalence of Parkinsonism was observed in Valcamonica, Italy, a region impacted by ferroalloy plants emissions containing manganese and other metals for a century until 2001. The aim of this study was to assess neurobehavioral functions in adolescents from the impacted region and the reference area of Garda Lake.
Adolescents age 11–14 yrs were recruited through the school system for neuro-behavioral testing. Metals including manganese, lead, iron, zinc, copper were measured in airborne particulate matter collected with 24-hour personal samplers, and in soil, tap water, blood, urine and hair. Independent variables included parental education and socio-economic status, children’s body mass index, number of siblings, parity order, smoking and drinking habits.
A total of 311 subjects (49.2% females), residing in either the exposed (n=154) or the reference (n=157) area participated. Average airborne and soil manganese were respectively 49.5 ng/m3 (median 31.4, range 1.24–517) and 958 ppm (median 897, range 465–1729) in the impacted area, and 27.4 ng/m3 (median 24.7, range 5.3–85.9) ng/m3 and 427 ppm (median 409 range 160–734) in the reference area. Regression models showed significant impairment of motor coordination (Luria-Nebraska test, p=0.0005), hand dexterity (Aiming Pursuit test, p= 0.0115) and odor identification (Sniffin’ task, p=0.003 ) associated with soil manganese. Tremor intensity was positively associated with blood (p=0.005) and hair (p=0.01) manganese.
Historical environmental exposure to manganese from ferroalloy emission reflected by the concentration in soil and the biomarkers was associated with subclinical deficits in olfactory and motor function among adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3360122  PMID: 22322213
neuromotor changes; children; airborne particles; soil; metals; manganese
13.  Quest for Biomarkers of Treatment-Resistant Depression: Shifting the Paradigm Toward Risk 
The search for potential biomarkers of psychiatric disorders is a central topic in biological psychiatry. This review concerns published studies on potential biomarkers of treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The search for biomarkers of TRD in the bloodstream has focused on cytokines and steroids as well as brain-derived neurotropic factor. Additional approaches to identifying biomarkers of TRD have dealt with cerebrospinal fluid analysis, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography. Some studies have also investigated potential genetic and epigenetic factors in TRD. Most studies have, however, used a post hoc experimental design that failed to determine the association between biomarkers and the initial risk of TRD. Particular attention in future studies should be on shifting the experimental paradigm toward procedures that can determine the risk for developing treatment resistance in untreated depressed individuals.
PMCID: PMC3684787  PMID: 23785338
depressive disorders; biomarkers; treatment resistance; immune system; cytokines; brain imaging; experimental design
15.  Targeted inhibition of Hsp90 by ganetespib is effective across a broad spectrum of breast cancer subtypes 
Investigational New Drugs  2013;32:14-24.
Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) is a molecular chaperone essential for the stability and function of multiple cellular client proteins, a number of which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. Here we undertook a comprehensive evaluation of the activity of ganetespib, a selective Hsp90 inhibitor, in this malignancy. With low nanomolar potency, ganetespib reduced cell viability in a panel of hormone receptor-positive, HER2-overexpressing, triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancer cell lines in vitro. Ganetespib treatment induced a rapid and sustained destabilization of multiple client proteins and oncogenic signaling pathways and even brief exposure was sufficient to induce and maintain suppression of HER2 levels in cells driven by this receptor. Indeed, HER2-overexpressing BT-474 cells were comparatively more sensitive to ganetespib than the dual HER2/EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib in three-dimensional culture. Ganetespib exposure caused pleiotropic effects in the inflammatory breast cancer line SUM149, including receptor tyrosine kinases, MAPK, AKT and mTOR signaling, transcription factors and proteins involved in cell cycle, stress and apoptotic regulation, as well as providing combinatorial benefit with lapatinib in these cells. This multimodal activity translated to potent antitumor efficacy in vivo, suppressing tumor growth in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 xenografts and inducing tumor regression in the BT-474 model. Thus, ganetespib potently inhibits Hsp90 leading to the degradation of multiple clinically-validated oncogenic client proteins in breast cancer cells, encompassing the broad spectrum of molecularly-defined subtypes. This preclinical activity profile suggests that ganetespib may offer considerable promise as a new therapeutic candidate for patients with advanced breast cancers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10637-013-9971-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3913847  PMID: 23686707
Hsp90 inhibition; Ganetespib; Breast cancer; Cancer therapy
16.  Determining Fetal Manganese Exposure from Mantle Dentine of Deciduous Teeth 
Environmental science & technology  2012;46(9):5118-5125.
Studies addressing health effects of manganese (Mn) excess or deficiency during prenatal development are hampered by a lack of biomarkers that can reconstruct fetal exposure. We propose a method using the neonatal line, a histological feature in deciduous teeth, to identify regions of mantle dentine formed at different prenatal periods. Micro-measurements of Mn in these regions may be used to reconstruct exposure at specific times in fetal development. To test our hypothesis, we recruited pregnant women before 20 weeks gestation from a cohort of farmworkers exposed to Mn-containing pesticides. We collected house floor dust samples and mother’s blood during the second trimester; umbilical cord blood at birth; and shed deciduous incisors when the child was ~7 years of age. Mn levels in mantle dentine formed during the second trimester (as 55Mn:43Ca area under curve) were significantly associated with floor dust Mn loading (rspearman=0.40; p=0.0005; n=72). Furthermore, 55Mn:43Ca in sampling points immediately adjacent the neonatal line were significantly associated to Mn concentrations in cord blood (rspearman=0.70; p=0.003; n=16). Our results support that Mn levels in mantle dentine are useful in discerning perinatal Mn exposure, offering a potentially important biomarker for the study of health effects due to environmental Mn exposure.
PMCID: PMC3341525  PMID: 22455722
biomarker; dentine; enamel; manganese; prenatal exposure
17.  Has the Emergence of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Increased Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole Use and Resistance?: a 10-Year Time Series Analysis 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(11):5655-5660.
There are an increasing number of indications for trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole use, including skin and soft tissue infections due to community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). Assessing the relationship between rates of use and antibiotic resistance is important for maintaining the expected efficacy of this drug for guideline-recommended conditions. Using interrupted time series analysis, we aimed to determine whether the 2005 emergence of CA-MRSA and recommendations of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole as the preferred therapy were associated with changes in trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole use and susceptibility rates. The data from all VA Boston Health Care System facilities, including 118,863 inpatient admissions, 6,272,661 outpatient clinic visits, and 10,138 isolates were collected over a 10-year period. There was a significant (P = 0.02) increase in trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole prescriptions in the post-CA-MRSA period (1,605/year) compared to the pre-CA-MRSA period (1,538/year). Although the overall susceptibility of Escherichia coli and Proteus spp. to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole decreased over the study period, the rate of change in the pre- versus the post-CA-MRSA period was not significantly different. The changes in susceptibility rates of S. aureus to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and to methicillin were also not significantly different. The CA-MRSA period is associated with a significant increase in use of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole but not with significant changes in the rates of susceptibilities among clinical isolates. There is also no evidence for selection of organisms with increased resistance to other antimicrobials in relation to increased trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole use.
PMCID: PMC3486583  PMID: 22908161
18.  Genetic Variability and the Classification of Hepatitis E Virus 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(8):4161-4169.
The classification of hepatitis E virus (HEV) variants is currently in transition without agreed definitions for genotypes and subtypes or for deeper taxonomic groupings into species and genera that could incorporate more recently characterized viruses assigned to the Hepeviridae family that infect birds, bats, rodents, and fish. These conflicts arise because of differences in the viruses and genomic regions compared and in the methodology used. We have reexamined published sequences and found that synonymous substitutions were saturated in comparisons between and within virus genotypes. Analysis of complete genome sequences or concatenated ORF1/ORF2 amino acid sequences indicated that HEV variants most closely related to those infecting humans can be consistently divided into six genotypes (types 1 to 4 and two additional genotypes from wild boar). Variants isolated from rabbits, closely related to genotype 3, occupy an intermediate position. No consistent criteria could be defined for the assignment of virus subtypes. Analysis of amino acid sequences from these viruses with the more divergent variants from chickens, bats, and rodents in three conserved subgenomic regions (residues 1 to 452 or 974 to 1534 of ORF1 or residues 105 to 458 of ORF2) provided consistent support for a division into 4 groups, corresponding to HEV variants infecting humans and pigs, those infecting rats and ferrets, those from bats, and those from chickens. This approach may form the basis for a future genetic classification of HEV into four species, with the more divergent HEV-like virus from fish (cutthroat trout virus) representing a second genus.
PMCID: PMC3624379  PMID: 23388713
19.  Serial MR Findings and Comprehensive Review of Bilateral Lupus Mastitis with an Additional Case Report 
Lupus Mastitis (LM) is a rare presentation of lupus panniculitis involving the breast. Because it often presents as a tender palpable mass, a workup for malignancy usually ensues. It is well documented that surgery may worsen the condition; therefore, it is important to consider LM in the differential of a palpable breast mass in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Currently, management of LM remains primarily medical. We discuss the multi-disciplinary work-up of LM, and further describe its appearance on serial Magnetic Resonance (MR) exams.
PMCID: PMC3557134  PMID: 23372875
lupus mastitis; mastitis; lupus; SLE
20.  Molecular Neurobiology of Depression: PET Findings on the Elusive Correlation with Symptom Severity 
Molecular mechanisms in the brain are assumed to cause the symptoms and severity of neuropsychiatric disorders. This review concerns the elusive nature of relationships between the severity of depressive disorders and neuromolecular processes studied by positron emission tomography (PET). Recent PET studies of human depression have focused on serotonergic, dopaminergic, muscarinic, nicotinic, and GABAergic receptors, as well as central processes dependent on monoamine oxidase, phosphodiesterase type 4, amyloid plaques, neurofibrillar tangles, and P-glycoprotein. We find that reliable causal links between neuromolecular mechanisms and relief from depressive disorders have yet to be convincingly demonstrated. This situation may contribute to the currently limited use of PET for exploring the neuropathways that are currently viewed as being responsible for beneficial effects of antidepressant treatment regimes.
PMCID: PMC3586775  PMID: 23459670
depressive disorders; symptom severity; negative emotions; positron emission tomography; brain imaging; neurobiology; neurotransmitters; reliability
21.  Hepatitis E Virus Mixed Infection in Immunocompetent Patient 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(3):468-470.
We detected 2 hepatitis E virus (HEV) strains in an acutely infected immunocompetent patient. Two populations of genotype 3 virus were observed in the hypervariable regions and open reading frames 2 and 3, indicating multiple infection with hepatitis E virus. Persons with mixed infections may provide the opportunity for virus recombination.
PMCID: PMC3647676  PMID: 23621890
Hepatitis E virus; mixed infection; viruses; immunocompetent
22.  Evidence Against GB virus C Infection in Dromedary Camels 
Veterinary microbiology  2011;154(3-4):403-406.
A recent publication described finding GB virus C (GBV-C) RNA in four of twenty two dromedary camel sera, and sequence analysis found that these viruses were phylogenetically clustered within human GBV-C isolates. Since all other GB viruses to date form monophyletic groups according to their host species, the close relationship between the sequences generated from camel sera and human GBV-C isolates seemed implausible, leading us to conduct an independent analysis of the sequences. Our investigation found three lines of evidence arguing against GBV-C infection in dromedary camels. First, strong evidence of artifactual sequence generation was identified for some of the sequences. Secondly, the sequence diversity within individual camel sera was ten- to one-hundred fifty two-fold greater than that described for GBV-C within a human host. Finally, GBV-C sequences generated from each camel shared near complete identity with human isolates previously described by the same laboratory. Taken together, these data strongly suggest laboratory contamination. We suggest that additional validation experiments are needed before it is possible to conclude that camels are permissive for GBV-C infection.
PMCID: PMC3210887  PMID: 21757300
GB virus; Flavirirus; Dromedary Camel
23.  Early Outcomes of Minimally Invasive Anterior Longitudinal Ligament Release for Correction of Sagittal Imbalance in Patients with Adult Spinal Deformity 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:789698.
The object of this study was to evaluate a novel surgical technique in the treatment of adult degenerative scoliosis and present our early experience with the minimally invasive lateral approach for anterior longitudinal ligament release to provide lumbar lordosis and examine its impact on sagittal balance. Methods. All patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) treated with the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas interbody fusion (MIS LIF) for release of the anterior longitudinal ligament were examined. Patient demographics, clinical data, spinopelvic parameters, and outcome measures were recorded. Results. Seven patients underwent release of the anterior longitudinal ligament (ALR) to improve sagittal imbalance. All cases were split into anterior and posterior stages, with mean estimated blood loss of 125 cc and 530 cc, respectively. Average hospital stay was 8.3 days, and mean follow-up time was 9.1 months. Comparing pre- and postoperative 36′′ standing X-rays, the authors discovered a mean increase in global lumbar lordosis of 24 degrees, increase in segmental lumbar lordosis of 17 degrees per level of ALL released, decrease in pelvic tilt of 7 degrees, and decrease in sagittal vertical axis of 4.9 cm. At the last followup, there was a mean improvement in VAS and ODI scores of 26.2% and 18.3%. Conclusions. In the authors' early experience, release of the anterior longitudinal ligament using the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach may be a feasible alternative in correcting sagittal deformity.
PMCID: PMC3523605  PMID: 23304089
The production of thromboxane A2 (TXA2) and prostacyclin (prostaglandin I2, PGI2) is known to be increased in patients with atherosclerosis. In this study, we evaluated the influence of gender on TXA2 and PGI2 production and their association with the progression of atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-null (ApoE−/−) mice maintained on a high fat diet for 3 months. En face analyses of aortas showed marked increases in plaque formation in female ApoE−/− mice. Quantification of the hematoxylin/eosin (H & E) stained cross sections of the aortic arch revealed 3 to 4-fold higher plaque thickness in female ApoE−/− mice. Analyses of 24-h urine samples for 11-dehydro TXB2 and 2, 3-dinor-6-keto PGF1α indicated that female ApoE−/− mice produce up to 15-fold more TXA2 and 50% less PGI2 than the age matched males. Interestingly, the serum cholesterol levels in ApoE−/− females were 20% lower than males on the high fat regimen. No gender-associated changes in the number of T lymphocytes, mast cells and macrophages were evident in the lesion areas of ApoE−/− mice. The results suggest that the markedly elevated TXA2 production and reduced PGI2 production are gender-related proatherogenic risk factors in female ApoE−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC3515053  PMID: 20610861
ApoE−/− mice; Atherosclerosis; Gender difference; Thromboxane A2; Prostaglandin I2
25.  Potent activity of the Hsp90 inhibitor ganetespib in prostate cancer cells irrespective of androgen receptor status or variant receptor expression 
Androgen ablation therapy represents the first line of therapeutic intervention in men with advanced or recurrent prostate tumors. However, the incomplete efficacy and lack of durable response to this clinical strategy highlights an urgent need for alternative treatment options to improve patient outcomes. Targeting the molecular chaperone heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) represents a potential avenue for therapeutic intervention as its inhibition results in the coordinate blockade of multiple oncogenic signaling pathways in cancer cells. Moreover, Hsp90 is essential for the stability and function of numerous client proteins, a number of which have been causally implicated in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer, including the androgen receptor (AR). Here, we examined the preclinical activity of ganetespib, a small molecule inhibitor of Hsp90, in a panel of prostate cancer cell lines. Ganetespib potently decreased viability in all lines, irrespective of their androgen sensitivity or receptor status, and more effectively than the ansamycin inhibitor 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG). Interestingly, while ganetespib exposure decreased AR expression and activation, the constitutively active V7 truncated isoform of the receptor was unaffected by Hsp90 inhibition. Mechanistically, ganetespib exerted concomitant effects on mitogenic and survival pathways, as well as direct modulation of cell cycle regulators, to induce growth arrest and apoptosis. Further, ganetespib displayed robust antitumor efficacy in both AR-negative and positive xenografts, including those derived from the 22Rv1 prostate cancer cell line that co-expresses full-length and variant receptors. Together these data suggest that further investigation of ganetespib as a new therapeutic treatment for prostate cancer patients is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3583620  PMID: 23152004
Hsp90 inhibition; ganetespib; androgen receptor; prostate cancer; cancer therapy

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