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1.  The association between the upper digestive tract microbiota by HOMIM and oral health in a population-based study in Linxian, China 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1110.
Bacteria affect oral health, but few studies have systematically examined the role of bacterial communities in oral diseases. We examined this relationship in a large population-based Chinese cancer screening cohort.
Human Oral Microbe Identification Microarrays were used to test for the presence of 272 human oral bacterial species (97 genera) in upper digestive tract (UDT) samples collected from 659 participants. Oral health was assessed using US NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) protocols. We assessed both dental health (total teeth missing; tooth decay; and the decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) score) and periodontal health (bleeding on probing (BoP) extent score, loss of attachment extent score, and a periodontitis summary estimate).
Microbial richness, estimated by number of genera per sample, was positively correlated with BoP score (P = 0.015), but negatively correlated with tooth decay and DMFT score (P = 0.008 and 0.022 respectively). Regarding β-diversity, as estimated by the UniFrac distance matrix for pairwise differences among samples, at least one of the first three principal components of the UniFrac distance matrix was correlated with the number of missing teeth, tooth decay, DMFT, BoP, or periodontitis. Of the examined genera, Parvimonas was positively associated with BoP and periodontitis. Veillonellacease [G-1] was associated with a high DMFT score, and Filifactor and Peptostreptococcus were associated with a low DMFT score.
Our results suggest distinct relationships between UDT microbiota and dental and periodontal health. Poor dental health was associated with a less microbial diversity, whereas poor periodontal health was associated with more diversity and the presence of potentially pathogenic species.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1110) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4223728  PMID: 25348940
Microbiota; Oral health; Dental caries; Periodontitis; Bleeding on probe; Attachment loss
2.  Measuring telomere length for the early detection of precursor lesions of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:578.
Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide; current early detection screening tests are inadequate. Esophageal balloon cytology successfully retrieves exfoliated and scraped superficial esophageal epithelial cells, but cytologic reading of these cells has poor sensitivity and specificity for detecting esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD), the precursor lesion of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Measuring telomere length, a marker for chromosomal instability, may improve the utility of balloon cytology for detecting ESD and early ESCC.
We examined balloon cytology specimens from 89 asymptomatic cases of ESD (37 low-grade and 52 high-grade) and 92 age- and sex-matched normal controls from an esophageal cancer early detection screening study. All subjects also underwent endoscopy and biopsy, and ESD was diagnosed histopathologically. DNA was extracted from the balloon cytology cells, and telomere length was measured by quantitative PCR. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was plotted for telomere length as a diagnostic marker for high-grade dysplasia.
Telomere lengths were comparable among the low- and high-grade dysplasia cases and controls, with means of 0.96, 0.96, and 0.92, respectively. The area under the ROC curve was 0.55 for telomere length as a diagnostic marker for high-grade dysplasia. Further adjustment for subject characteristics, including sex, age, smoking, drinking, hypertension, and body mass index did not improve the use of telomere length as a marker for ESD.
Telomere length of esophageal balloon cytology cells was not associated with ESCC precursor lesions. Therefore, telomere length shows little promise as an early detection marker for ESCC in esophageal balloon samples.
PMCID: PMC3882883  PMID: 24308314
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Esophageal squamous dysplasia; Early detection; Screening; Balloon cytology; Telomeres
3.  A multi-day environmental study of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in a high-risk region for esophageal cancer in China 
Linzhou, China has one of the highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the world. Exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), may play a role in this increased risk. To better understand PAH sources, we measured PAHs in the air and food of 20 non-smokers over multiple days and compared the concentrations to a urinary PAH biomarker, 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG). Sampling occurred over four consecutive days. Kitchen air samples (days 2–3) and duplicate diet samples (days 1–4) were analyzed for 14 or more unique PAHs, including BaP. Daily urine samples (days 1–3) were analyzed for 1-OHPG. Mixed-effects models were used to evaluate the associations between air or food PAH concentrations and urine 1-OHPG concentrations. The median kitchen air BaP concentration was 10.2 ng/m3 (inter-quartile range (IQR): 5.1–20.2 ng/m3). The median daily food BaP concentration and intake were 0.08 ng/g (IQR=0.04–0.16 ng/g) and 86 ng/day (IQR=41–142 ng/day), respectively. The median 1-OHPG concentration was 3.36 pmol/mL (IQR=2.09–6.98 pmol/mL). In mixed-effects models, 1-OHPG concentration increased with same-day concentration of food BaP (p=0.07). Though PAH concentrations in air were not associated with 1-OHPG concentrations, the high concentrations of PAHs in both air and food suggest that they are both important routes of exposure to PAHs in this population. Further evaluation of the role of PAH exposure from air and food in the elevated rates of esophageal cancer in this region is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3504638  PMID: 22805987
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; cancer; China; dietary exposure; inhalation exposure; biomonitoring; multimedia exposure assessment
4.  Attributable Causes of Esophageal Cancer Incidence and Mortality in China 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42281.
To estimate the contribution of tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, low vegetable intake and low fruit intake to esophageal cancer mortality and incidence in China.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We calculated the proportion of esophageal cancer attributable to four known modifiable risk factors [population attributable fraction (PAF)]. Exposure data was taken from meta-analyses and large-scale national surveys of representative samples of the Chinese population. Data on relative risks were also from meta-analyses and large-scale prospective studies. Esophageal cancer mortality and incidence came from the 3rd national death cause survey and population-based cancer registries in China. We estimated that 87,065 esophageal cancer deaths (men 67,686; women: 19,379) and 108,206 cases (men: 83,968, women: 24,238) were attributable to tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, low vegetable intake and low fruit intake in China in 2005. About 17.9% of esophageal cancer deaths among men and 1.9% among women were attributable to tobacco smoking. About 15.2% of esophageal cancer deaths in men and 1.3% in women were caused by alcohol drinking. Low vegetable intake was responsible for 4.3% esophageal cancer deaths in men and 4.1% in women. The fraction of esophageal cancer deaths attributable to low fruit intake was 27.1% in men and 28.0% in women. Overall, 46% of esophageal cancers (51% in men and 33% in women) were attributable to these four modifiable risk factors.
Tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, low vegetable intake and low fruit intake were responsible for 46% of esophageal cancer mortality and incidence in China in 2005. These findings provide useful data for developing guidelines for esophageal cancer prevention and control in China.
PMCID: PMC3410925  PMID: 22876312
5.  Serum cytokine analysis in a positive chemoprevention trial: Selenium, Interleukin-2 and an association with squamous preneoplastic disease 
This study represents a multiplex cytokine analysis of serum from a 10-month randomized, controlled trial of 238 subjects that investigated the effects of selenomethionine and/or celecoxib in subjects with mild or moderate esophageal squamous dysplasia. The original chemoprevention study found that among those with mild dysplasia, selenomethionine treatment favorably altered dysplasia grade. The current analysis found that selenomethionine down-regulated IL-2 by 9% (p=0.04), while celecoxib down-regulated IL-7 by 11% (p=0.006) and up-regulated IL-13 by 17% (p=0.008). In addition, an increase in IL-7 tertile from baseline to t10 was significantly associated with an increase in dysplasia grade, both overall (OR=1.47, p=0.03) and among those with mild dysplasia at t0 (OR=2.53 p=0.001). An increase in IL-2 tertile from baseline to t10 was also non-significantly associated with worsening dysplasia for all participants (OR=1.32 p=0.098), and significantly associated with worsening dysplasia among those with mild dysplasia at baseline (OR=2.0 p=0.01). The association of increased IL-2 with worsening dysplasia remained significant in those on selenomethionine treatment who began the trial with mild dysplasia (OR=2.52 p=0.03). The current study shows that selenomethionine supplementation decreased serum IL-2 levels, while celecoxib treatment decreased IL-7 levels and increased IL-13 levels during a 10 month randomized chemoprevention trial. An increase in IL-2 or IL-7 was associated with increased severity of dysplasia over the course of the trial, especially in those who began the trial with mild dysplasia. The favorable effect of selenomethionine on esophageal dysplasia in the original trial may have been mediated in part by its effect on reducing levels of IL-2.
PMCID: PMC2900463  PMID: 20587703
chemoprevention; interleukin-2; preneoplasia; gastrointestinal tract; selenium
6.  No role for human papillomavirus in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in China 
Certain regions of China have high rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Previous studies of human papillomavirus (HPV), a proposed causal factor, have produced highly variable results. We attempted to evaluate HPV and ESCC more definitively using extreme care to prevent DNA contamination. We collected tissue and serum in China from 272 histopathologically-confirmed ESCC cases with rigorous attention to good molecular biology technique. We tested for HPV DNA in fresh-frozen tumor tissue using PCR with PGMY L1 consensus primers and HPV16 and 18 type-specific E6 and E7 primers, and in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissue using SPF10 L1 primers. In HPV-positive cases, we evaluated p16INK4a overexpression and HPV E6/E7 seropositivity as evidence of carcinogenic HPV activity. β-globin, and thus DNA, was adequate in 98.2% of the frozen tumor tissues (267/272). Of these, 99.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 97.9–100.0%) were negative for HPV DNA by PGMY, and 100% (95% CI = 98.6–100%) were negative by HPV16/18 E6/E7 PCR. In the corresponding formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor specimens, 99.3% (95% CI = 97.3–99.9%) were HPV negative by SPF10. By PGMY, 1 case tested weakly positive for HPV89, a noncancer causing HPV type. By SPF10, 2 cases tested weakly positive: 1 for HPV16 and 1 for HPV31. No HPV DNA-positive case had evidence of HPV oncogene activity as measured by p16INK4a overexpression or E6/E7 seropositivity. This study provides the most definitive evidence to date that HPV is not involved in ESCC carcinogenesis in China. HPV DNA contamination cannot be ruled out as an explanation for high HPV prevalence in ESCC tissue studies with less stringent tissue procurement and processing protocols.
PMCID: PMC3069961  PMID: 19918949
human papillomavirus; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
7.  Aryl hydrocarbon receptor expression is associated with a family history of upper gastrointestinal cancer in a high risk population exposed to aromatic hydrocarbons 
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure is a risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), and PAHs are ligands of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). This study measured the expression of AhR and related genes in frozen esophageal cell samples from patients exposed to different levels of indoor air pollution, who did or did not have high-grade squamous dysplasia (HGD), and who did or did not have a family history (FH) of upper gastrointestinal cancer (UGI Ca).
147 samples were evaluated, including 23 (16%) from patients with HGD and 48 (33%) from patients without DYS who heated their homes with coal, without a chimney (a “high” indoor air pollution group), and 27 (18%) from patients with HGD and 49 (33%) from patients without DYS who did not heat their homes at all (a “low” indoor air pollution group). Nearly half (64 (44%)) had a FH of UGI Ca. RNA was extracted and Quantitative-PCR analysis was performed.
AhR gene expression was detectable in 85 (58%) of the samples, and was more than 9-fold higher in those with a FH of UGI Ca (median expression (IQR) -1964 (-18000, -610) versus -18000 (-18000, -1036) Wilcoxon P = 0.02). Heating status, dysplasia category, age, gender, and smoking were not associated with AhR expression (linear regression, all P-values ≥0.1).
AhR expression was higher in patients with a FH of UGI Ca. Such individuals may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of PAH exposure, including PAH-induced cancer.
PMCID: PMC2796959  PMID: 19690180
Gastrointestinal tract cancer; Esophagus; Aryl hydrocarbon receptor; family history of cancer; gene expression; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
8.  Serum 25(OH)-Vitamin D concentration and risk of esophageal squamous dysplasia 
Squamous dysplasia is the precursor lesion for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), and nutritional factors play an important role in the etiology of this cancer. Previous studies using a variety of measures of vitamin D exposure have reached different conclusions about the association between vitamin D and risk of developing esophageal cancer.
We measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations in a cross-sectional analysis of 720 subjects from Linxian, China, a population at high risk for developing ESCC. All subjects underwent endoscopy and biopsy and were categorized by presence or absence of histologic squamous dysplasia. We used crude and multivariate adjusted generalized linear models to estimate the relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between squamous dysplasia and sex-specific quartiles of serum 25(OH)D concentration.
Two hundred and thirty (32%) of 720 subjects had squamous dysplasia. Subjects with dysplasia had significantly higher median serum 25(OH)D concentrations then subjects without dysplasia, 36.5 and 31.5 nmol/L respectively (Wilcoxon two-sample test p = 0.0004). In multivariate adjusted models, subjects in the highest compared to the lowest quartile were at significantly increased risk of squamous dysplasia, RR (95% CI) = 1.86 (1.35–2.62). Increased risks were similar when examined in men and women separately: Men RR (95% CI) = 1.74 (1.08–2.93); Women RR (95% CI) = 1.96 (1.28–3.18).
Higher serum 25(OH)D concentration was associated with significantly increased risk of squamous dysplasia. No obvious source of measured or unmeasured confounding explains this finding.
PMCID: PMC2812415  PMID: 17855710
Esophageal cancer; Squamous dysplasia; Vitamin D; Serum 25(OH)D; China
9.  Serum pepsinogens and risk of esophageal squamous dysplasia 
Pepsinogens are a class of endopeptidases that are secreted by the gastric epithelium and released into the circulation. Low serum pepsinogen I (PGI) and low serum pepsinogen I / pepsinogen II ratio (PGI/II ratio) are markers of gastric fundic atrophy, and have recently been shown to be associated with increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted the current study to test whether these markers are also associated with esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD), the precursor lesion of ESCC.
We measured serum PGI and PGII, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) assays, in 125 case subjects (patients with moderate or severe ESD) and 250 sex-matched control subjects (no ESD) selected from an endoscopic screening study in Linxian, China. We used conditional logistic regression models adjusted for age, smoking, and place of residence to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).
Serum PGI showed no statistically significant association with ESD, whether analyzed as a dichotomous, ordinal (quartiles), or continuous variable. Lower serum PGI/II ratio, however, showed a dose-response association with increased risk of ESD, with an adjusted OR (95% CI) of 2.12 (1.08 − 4.18), comparing the lowest versus the highest quartile. The association between lower serum PGI/II ratio and log OR of ESD was nearly linear, and the p-value for the continuous association was 0.03.
Lower serum PGI/II ratio was linearly associated with higher risk of ESD. This result is consistent with recent findings that gastric atrophy may increase the risk of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC2605159  PMID: 18844222
Esophageal cancer; Squamous dysplasia; Pepsinogen; China
The incidence of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is very high in northern China. This cancer has a very poor prognosis, mostly because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage. Detection an earlier stage can dramatically improve prognosis. Microscopic evaluation of esophageal balloon cytology (EBC) specimens has been the most common method for early detection of ESCC, but this technique is limited by low sensitivity and specificity. The use of molecular markers may improve these screening characteristics. This study evaluates whether measurement of gene methylation in EBC specimens may have utility for the detection of esophageal squamous dysplasia and early ESCC. We evaluated the presence of methylation in eight genes shown to be methylated in ESCC in previous studies in EBC specimens from 147 patients with endoscopic biopsy diagnoses ranging from normal mucosa through severe squamous dysplasia. Methylation status was determined using quantitative methylation-specific PCR techniques. The sensitivity and specificity of methylation of each individual gene and combinations of these genes to detect biopsy-proven high-grade (moderate or severe) squamous dysplasia was determined. For individual genes, the sensitivities ranged from 9–34% and the specificities ranged from 77–99%. Using a panel of four genes (AHRR, p16INK4a, MT1G, and CLDN3) resulted in sensitivity and specificity of 50% and 68%, respectively. This study suggests that evaluation of gene methylation in EBC samples may have utility for early detection of esophageal squamous dysplasia and early ESCC, however, identification of more sensitive methylation markers will be required for development of a clinically useful screening test.
PMCID: PMC2615136  PMID: 19137073
gene methylation; early detection; cytology; esophageal squamous cell cancer

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