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2.  Salivary tau species are potential biomarkers of Alzheimer disease 
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  2011;27(2):299-305.
Phosphorylation of tau protein is a critical event in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). Increased phosphorylated tau and total tau levels, combined with reduced concentrations of amyloid beta 1–42 (Aβ42) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but not in plasma or serum, have been generally accepted as sensitive AD diagnostic markers. However, obtaining CSF is a relatively invasive procedure that requires participation of specially trained medical professionals, i.e., CSF is not an ideal sample source for screening or early diagnosis of AD, which is essential to current and future neuroprotective treatments for the disease. Here, we identified tau, but not Aβ species, with mass spectrometry in human saliva, a body fluid that is much more accessible compared to CSF or even blood. Quantitative assessment of salivary levels of total tau, phosphorylated tau, and Aβ42 using highly sensitive Luminex assays revealed that, while Aβ42 was not detectable, the phosphorylated tau/tau ratio significantly increased in patients with AD compared to healthy controls. These results suggest that salivary tau species could be ideal biomarkers for AD diagnosis, especially at early stages of the disease or even screening asymptomatic subjects, allowing for a much larger therapeutic window for AD patients.
PMCID: PMC3302350  PMID: 21841250
Alzheimer disease; Amyloid beta-Peptide; Biomarkers; Saliva; Tau protein
3.  DJ-1 and α-synuclein in human cerebrospinal fluid as biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease 
Brain  2010;133(3):713-726.
Biomarkers are urgently needed for the diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression in Parkinson’s disease. Both DJ-1 and α-synuclein, two proteins critically involved in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis, have been tested as disease biomarkers in several recent studies with inconsistent results. These have been largely due to variation in the protein species detected by different antibodies, limited numbers of patients in some studies, or inadequate control of several important variables. In this study, the nature of DJ-1 and α-synuclein in human cerebrospinal fluid was studied by a combination of western blotting, gel filtration and mass spectrometry. Sensitive and quantitative Luminex assays detecting most, if not all, species of DJ-1 and α-synuclein in human cerebrospinal fluid were established. Cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of DJ-1 and α-synuclein from 117 patients with Parkinson’s disease, 132 healthy individuals and 50 patients with Alzheimer’s disease were analysed using newly developed, highly sensitive Luminex technology while controlling for several major confounders. A total of 299 individuals and 389 samples were analysed. The results showed that cerebrospinal fluid DJ-1 and α-synuclein levels were dependent on age and influenced by the extent of blood contamination in cerebrospinal fluid. Both DJ-1 and α-synuclein levels were decreased in Parkinson’s patients versus controls or Alzheimer’s patients when blood contamination was controlled for. In the population aged ≥65 years, when cut-off values of 40 and 0.5 ng/ml were chosen for DJ-1 and α-synuclein, respectively, the sensitivity and specificity for patients with Parkinson’s disease versus controls were 90 and 70% for DJ-1, and 92 and 58% for α-synuclein. A combination of the two markers did not enhance the test performance. There was no association between DJ-1 or α-synuclein and the severity of Parkinson’s disease. Taken together, this represents the largest scale study for DJ-1 or α-synuclein in human cerebrospinal fluid so far, while using newly established sensitive Luminex assays, with controls for multiple variables. We have demonstrated that total DJ-1 and α-synuclein in human cerebrospinal fluid are helpful diagnostic markers for Parkinson’s disease, if variables such as blood contamination and age are taken into consideration.
PMCID: PMC2842513  PMID: 20157014
cerebrospinal fluid; Parkinson’s disease; biomarker; DJ-1; α-synuclein
4.  Glycoproteomics in Neurodegenerative Diseases 
Mass spectrometry reviews  2010;29(1):79-125.
Protein glycosylation regulates protein function and cellular distribution. Additionally, aberrant protein glycosylations have been recognized to play major roles in human disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases. Glycoproteomics, a branch of proteomics that catalogs and quantifies glycoproteins, provides a powerful means to systematically profile the glycopeptides or glycoproteins of a complex mixture that are highly enriched in body fluids, and therefore, carry great potential to be diagnostic and/or prognostic markers. Application of this mass spectrometry-based technology to the study of neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease) is relatively new, and is expected to provide insight into the biochemical pathogenesis of neurodegeneration, as well as biomarker discovery. In this review, we have summarized the current understanding of glycoproteins in biology and neurodegenerative disease, and have discussed existing proteomic technologies that are utilized to characterize glycoproteins. Some of the ongoing studies, where glycoproteins isolated from cerebrospinal fluid and human brain are being characterized in Parkinson's disease at different stages versus controls, are presented, along with future applications of targeted validation of brain specific glycoproteins in body fluids.
PMCID: PMC2799547  PMID: 19358229
glycoproteomics; mass spectrometry; Alzheimer's diseases; Parkinson's disease; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluids
5.  Enhanced Caenorhabditis elegans Locomotion in a Structured Microfluidic Environment 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2550.
Behavioral studies of Caenorhabditis elegans traditionally are done on the smooth surface of agar plates, but the natural habitat of C. elegans and other nematodes is the soil, a complex and structured environment. In order to investigate how worms move in such environments, we have developed a technique to study C. elegans locomotion in microstructures fabricated from agar.
Methodology/Principal Findings
When placed in open, liquid-filled, microfluidic chambers containing a square array of posts, we discovered that worms are capable of a novel mode of locomotion, which combines the fast gait of swimming with the more efficient movements of crawling. When the wavelength of the worms matched the periodicity of the post array, the microstructure directed the swimming and increased the speed of C. elegans ten-fold. We found that mutants defective in mechanosensation (mec-4, mec-10) or mutants with abnormal waveforms (unc-29) did not perform this enhanced locomotion and moved much more slowly than wild-type worms in the microstructure.
These results show that the microstructure can be used as a behavioral screen for mechanosensory and uncoordinated mutants. It is likely that worms use mechanosensation in the movement and navigation through heterogeneous environments.
PMCID: PMC2430527  PMID: 18575618

Results 1-5 (5)