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1.  A Longitudinal Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108320.
Brain involvement is commonly seen in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). However, little is known about the chronic changes of acute brain lesions on MRI over time. Here, our objective was to evaluate how acute brain MRI lesions in NMOSD changed on follow-up MRI. We reviewed the MRIs of 63 patients with NMOSD who had acute brain lesions and follow-up MRI over an interval of at least 3 months. Of the 211 acute brain lesions, 24% of lesions disappeared completely on T2-weighed images (WI) and a decrease in size ≥50% on T2-WI was observed in 58% of lesions on follow-up MRI. However, 47% of lesions revealed focal T1-hypointensity and, in particular, 18% showed focal cystic changes. Cystic changes were observed most commonly in corticospinal tract and corpus callosal lesions whereas the vast majority of lesions in the cerebellum, basal ganglia and temporal white matter resolved completely. MRI remission on T2-WI occurred in 82% of lesions, while approximately half of the lesions presented foci of T1-hypointensity, which may be considered a severe tissue injury over time. The extent of brain injury following an acute brain lesion in NMOSD may depend on the location of the lesion.
PMCID: PMC4178152  PMID: 25259647
2.  Body Mass Index and Mortality in Korean Intensive Care Units: A Prospective Multicenter Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e90039.
The level of body mass index (BMI) that is associated with the lowest mortality in critically ill patients in Asian populations is uncertain. We aimed to examine the association of BMI with hospital mortality in critically ill patients in Korea.
We conducted a prospective multicenter cohort study of 3,655 critically ill patients in 22 intensive care units (ICUs) in Korea. BMI was categorized into five groups: <18.5, 18.5 to 22.9, 23.0 to 24.9 (the reference category), 25.0 to 29.9, and ≥30.0 kg/m2.
The median BMI was 22.6 (IQR 20.3 to 25.1). The percentages of patients with BMI<18.5, 18.5 to 22.9, 23.0 to 24.9, 25.0 to 29.9, and ≥30.0 were 12, 42.3, 19.9, 22.4, and 3.3%, respectively. The Cox-proportional hazard ratios with exact partial likelihood to handle tied failures for hospital mortality comparing the BMI categories <18.5, 18.5 to 22.9, 25.0 to 29.9, and ≥30.0 with the reference category were 1.13 (0.88 to 1.44), 1.03 (0.84 to 1.26), 0.96 (0.76 to 1.22), and 0.68 (0.43 to 1.08), respectively, with a highly significant test for trend (p = 0.02).
A graded inverse association between BMI and hospital mortality with a strong significant trend was found in critically ill patients in Korea.
PMCID: PMC3991578  PMID: 24747262
3.  An Association Rule Mining-Based Framework for Understanding Lifestyle Risk Behaviors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88859.
This study investigated the prevalence and patterns of lifestyle risk behaviors in Korean adults.
We utilized data from the Fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 14,833 adults (>20 years of age). We used association rule mining to analyze patterns of lifestyle risk behaviors by characterizing non-adherence to public health recommendations related to the Alameda 7 health behaviors. The study variables were current smoking, heavy drinking, physical inactivity, obesity, inadequate sleep, breakfast skipping, and frequent snacking.
Approximately 72% of Korean adults exhibited two or more lifestyle risk behaviors. Among women, current smoking, obesity, and breakfast skipping were associated with inadequate sleep. Among men, breakfast skipping with additional risk behaviors such as physical inactivity, obesity, and inadequate sleep was associated with current smoking. Current smoking with additional risk behaviors such as inadequate sleep or breakfast skipping was associated with physical inactivity.
Lifestyle risk behaviors are intercorrelated in Korea. Information on patterns of lifestyle risk behaviors could assist in planning interventions targeted at multiple behaviors simultaneously.
PMCID: PMC3923836  PMID: 24551181
4.  Grape Seed Proanthocyanidin Extract–Mediated Regulation of STAT3 Proteins Contributes to Treg Differentiation and Attenuates Inflammation in a Murine Model of Obesity-Associated Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78843.
Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) is a natural flavonoid that exerts anti-inflammatory properties. Obesity is an inflammatory condition and inflammatory cells and their secretion of pro-inflammatory molecules contribute to the pathogenesis of obesity. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that is characterized by inflammation of joints lined by synovium. Previously, we demonstrated that obesity augmented arthritis severity in collagen induced arthritis (CIA), a murine model of human RA. Here, we investigated whether oral administration of GSPE showed antiobesity and anti-arthritic effects in high-fat diet-induced obese (DIO) mice and in obese CIA mice, respectively. The pathophysiologic mechanisms by which GSPE attenuates weight gain and arthritis severity in vivo were also investigated. In DIO mice, GSPE administration significantly inhibited weight gain, reduced fat infiltration in liver and improved serum lipid profiles. The antiobesity effect of GSPE was associated with increased populations of regulatory T (Treg) cells and those of decreased Th17 cells. Decrease of Th17 cells was associated with significant inhibition of their key transcriptional factors, pSTAT3Tyr705 and pSTAT3Ser727. On the contrary, GSPE-induced Treg induction was associated with enhanced pSTAT5 expression. To identify the anti-arthritis effects of GSPE, GSPE was given orally for 7 weeks after type II collagen immunization. GSPE treatment significantly attenuated the development of autoimmune arthritis in obese CIA model. In line with DIO mice, GSPE administration decreased Th17 cells and reciprocally increased Treg cells by regulating STAT proteins in autoimmune arthritis model. The expressions of pro-inflammatory cytokines and nitrotyrosine in synovium were significantly inhibited by GSPE treatment. Taken together, GSPE functions as a reciprocal regulator of T cell differentiation – suppression of Th17 cells and induction of Tregs in both DIO and obese CIA mice. GSPE may act as a therapeutic agent to treat immunologic diseases related with enhanced STAT3 activity such as metabolic disorders and autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3818494  PMID: 24223854
5.  Non-Linear Relationship between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Hemoglobin in Korean Females: The Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2010–2011 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72605.
Anemia and vitamin D deficiency are both important health issues; however, the nature of the association between vitamin D and either hemoglobin or anemia remains unresolved in the general population.
Data on 11,206 adults were obtained from the fifth Korean National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. A generalized additive model was used to examine the threshold level for relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] and hemoglobin levels. A multivariate logistic regression for anemia was conducted according to 25(OH)D quintiles. All analyses were stratified according to sex and menstrual status.
The generalized additive model confirmed a threshold 25(OH)D level of 26.4 ng/mL (male, 27.4 ng/mL; premenopausal females, 11.8 ng/mL; postmenopausal females, 13.4 ng/mL). The threshold level affected the pattern of association between 25(OH)D and anemia risk: the odds ratio of the 1st quintile but not the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quintiles were significantly different from the 5th quintile in both premenopausal and postmenopausal females, however there was no obvious trend in males.
This population-based study demonstrated a non-linear relationship with a threshold effect between serum 25(OH)D and hemoglobin levels in females. Further interventional studies are warranted to determine whether the appropriate level of hemoglobin can be achieved by the correction of vitamin D deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3755993  PMID: 24015265
6.  Coenzyme Q10 Ameliorates Pain and Cartilage Degradation in a Rat Model of Osteoarthritis by Regulating Nitric Oxide and Inflammatory Cytokines 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69362.
To investigate the effect of CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10) on pain severity and cartilage degeneration in an experimental model of rat osteoarthritis (OA).
Materials and Methods
OA was induced in rats by intra-articular injection of monosodium iodoacetate (MIA) to the knee. Oral administration of CoQ10 was initiated on day 4 after MIA injection. Pain severity was assessed by measuring secondary tactile allodynia using the von Frey assessment test. The degree of cartilage degradation was determined by measuring cartilage thickness and the amount of proteoglycan. The mankin scoring system was also used. Expressions of matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-15, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), nitrotyrosine and receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) were analyzed using immunohistochemistry.
Treatment with CoQ10 demonstrated an antinociceptive effect in the OA animal model. The reduction in secondary tactile allodynia was shown by an increased pain withdrawal latency and pain withdrawal threshold. CoQ10 also attenuated cartilage degeneration in the osteoarthritic joints. MMP-13, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-15, iNOS, nitrotyrosine and RAGE expressions were upregulated in OA joints and significantly reduced with CoQ10 treatment.
CoQ10 exerts a therapeutic effect on OA via pain suppression and cartilage degeneration by inhibiting inflammatory mediators, which play a vital role in OA pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3718733  PMID: 23894457
7.  Curcumin Attenuates Acute Graft-versus-Host Disease Severity via In Vivo Regulations on Th1, Th17 and Regulatory T Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67171.
In this study we examined the in vivo and in vitro effects and mechanisms of action of curcumin on the development of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) using a murine model.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mixed lymphocyte reactions were used to determine the in vitro effects of curcumin. Treatment with curcumin attenuated alloreactive T cell proliferation and inhibited the production of interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-17. In a murine acute GVHD model, transplantation of curcumin-treated allogeneic splenocytes into irradiated recipient mice significantly reduced the clinical severity scores of acute GVHD manifested in the liver, skin, colon and lung as compared with animals receiving vehicle-treated splenocytes. c-Fos and c-Jun expression levels in the skin and intestine, which are major target organs, were analyzed using immunohistochemical staining. Expression of both proteins was reduced in epithelial tissues of skin and intestine from curcumin-treated GVHD animals. The IFN-γ-expressing CD4+ splenocytes and IFN-γ-expressing lymph node cells were dramatically decreased in curcumin-treated mice. In contrast, CD4+Foxp3+ splenocytes were increased in the curcumin-treated acute GVHD animals. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that animals transplanted with curcumin-treated allogeneic splenocytes showed increased populations of CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) as well as CD8+ Treg cells, compared to animals administered vehicle-treated splenocytes. Curcumin-treated acute GVHD animals could have a change in B cell subpopulations.
In the present study, we investigated the efficacy and mechanism of action of curcumin treatment against acute GVHD. The acute GVHD mice administered with curcumin-treated splenocytes showed significantly reduced severity of acute GVHD. Curcumin exerted in vivo preventive effects on acute GVHD by reciprocal regulation of T helper 1 (Th1) and Treg (both CD4+ and CD8+ Treg) cell lineages as well as B cell homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3688629  PMID: 23840617
8.  Interferon Gamma Suppresses Collagen-Induced Arthritis by Regulation of Th17 through the Induction of Indoleamine-2,3-Deoxygenase 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60900.
C57BL/6 mice are known to be resistant to the development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). However, they show a severe arthritic phenotype when the Ifng gene is deleted. Although it has been proposed that IFN-γ suppresses inflammation in CIA via suppressing Th17 which is involved in the pathogenesis of CIA, the exact molecular mechanism of the Th17 regulation by IFN-γ is poorly understood. This study was conducted to 1) clarify that arthritogenic condition of IFN-γ knockout (KO) mice is dependent on the disinhibition of Th17 and 2) demonstrate that IFN-γ-induced indoleamine2,3dioxgenase (IDO) is engaged in the regulation of Th17. The results showed that the IFN-γ KO mice displayed increased levels of IL-17 producing T cells and the exacerbation of arthritis. Also, production of IL-17 by the splenocytes of the IFN-γ KO mice was increased when cultured with type II collagen. When Il17 was deleted from the IFN-γ KO mice, only mild arthritis developed without any progression of the arthritis score. The proportion of CD44highCD62Llow memory-like T cells were elevated in the spleen, draining lymph node and mesenteric lymph node of IFN-γ KO CIA mice. Meanwhile, CD44lowCD62Lhigh naïve T cells were increased in IFN-γ and IL-17 double KO CIA mice. When Th17 polarized CD4+ T cells of IFN-γ KO mice were co-cultured with their own antigen presenting cells (APCs), a greater increase in IL-17 production was observed than in co-culture of the cells from wild type mice. In contrast, when APCs from IFN-γ KO mice were pretreated with IFN-γ, there was a significant reduction in IL-17 in the co-culture system. Of note, pretreatment of 1-methyl-DL- tryptophan, a specific inhibitor of IDO, abolished the inhibitory effects of IFN-γ. Given that IFN-γ is a potent inducer of IDO in APCs, these results suggest that IDO is involved in the regulation of IL-17 by IFN-γ.
PMCID: PMC3628800  PMID: 23613752
9.  Decreased Functional Brain Connectivity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57831.
Internet addiction has become increasingly recognized as a mental disorder, though its neurobiological basis is unknown. This study used functional neuroimaging to investigate whole-brain functional connectivity in adolescents diagnosed with internet addiction. Based on neurobiological changes seen in other addiction related disorders, it was predicted that connectivity disruptions in adolescents with internet addiction would be most prominent in cortico-striatal circuitry.
Participants were 12 adolescents diagnosed with internet addiction and 11 healthy comparison subjects. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance images were acquired, and group differences in brain functional connectivity were analyzed using the network-based statistic. We also analyzed network topology, testing for between-group differences in key graph-based network measures.
Adolescents with internet addiction showed reduced functional connectivity spanning a distributed network. The majority of impaired connections involved cortico-subcortical circuits (∼24% with prefrontal and ∼27% with parietal cortex). Bilateral putamen was the most extensively involved subcortical brain region. No between-group difference was observed in network topological measures, including the clustering coefficient, characteristic path length, or the small-worldness ratio.
Internet addiction is associated with a widespread and significant decrease of functional connectivity in cortico-striatal circuits, in the absence of global changes in brain functional network topology.
PMCID: PMC3581468  PMID: 23451272
10.  IGFBP-3 Inhibits Cytokine-Induced Insulin Resistance and Early Manifestations of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55084.
Metabolic syndrome is associated with visceral obesity, insulin resistance and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Visceral fat tissue primarily consists of adipocytes that secrete cytokines leading to a state of systemic inflammation in obese conditions. One of the IGF-independent functions of IGFBP-3 is its role as an anti-inflammatory molecule. Our study in obese adolescents show a decrease in total IGFBP-3 levels and increase in proteolyzed IGFBP-3 in circulation when compared to their normal counterparts and establishes a positive correlation between IGFBP-3 proteolysis and adiposity parameters as well as insulin resistance. In human adipocytes, we show that IGFBP-3 inhibits TNF-α-induced NF-κB activity in an IGF-independent manner, thereby restoring the deregulated insulin signaling and negating TNF-α-induced inhibition of glucose uptake. IGFBP-3 further inhibits TNF-α, CRP and high glucose-induced NF-κB activity in human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) and subsequently suppresses monocyte adhesion to HAEC through the IGFBP-3 receptor. In conclusion, these findings suggest that reduced levels of IGFBP-3 in circulation and reduced expression of IGFBP-3 in macrophages in obesity may result in suppression of its anti-inflammatory functions and therefore IGFBP-3 may present itself as a therapeutic for obesity-induced insulin resistance and for events occurring in the early stages of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3557269  PMID: 23383064
11.  Early Referral to a Nephrologist Improved Patient Survival: Prospective Cohort Study for End-Stage Renal Disease in Korea 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55323.
The timing of referral to a nephrologist may influence the outcome of chronic kidney disease patients, but its impact has not been evaluated thoroughly. The results of a recent study showing an association between early referral and patient survival are still being debated. A total of 1028 patients newly diagnosed as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) from July 2008 to October 2011 were enrolled. Early referral (ER) was defined as patients meeting with a nephrologist more than a year before dialysis and dialysis education were provided, and all others were considered late referral (LR). The relationship of referral pattern with mortality in ESRD patients was explored using a Cox proportional hazards regression models. Time from referral to dialysis was significantly longer in 599 ER patients than in 429 LR patients (62.3±58.9 versus 2.9±3.4 months, P<0.001). Emergency HD using a temporary vascular catheter was required in 485 (47.2%) out of all patients and in 262 (43.7%) of ER compared with 223 (52.0%) of LR (P = 0.009). After 2 years of follow-up, the survival rate in ER was better than that in LR (hazard ratio [HR] 2.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.27–4.45, P = 0.007). In patients with diabetes nephropathy, patient survival was also significantly higher in ER than in LR (HR 4.74, 95% CI 1.73–13.00, P = 0.002). With increasing age, HR also increased. Timely referral to a nephrologist in the predialytic stage is associated with reduced mortality.
PMCID: PMC3555934  PMID: 23372849
12.  Grape-Seed Proanthocyanidin Extract as Suppressors of Bone Destruction in Inflammatory Autoimmune Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51377.
Chronic autoimmune inflammation, which is commonly observed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), disrupts the delicate balance between bone resorption and formation causing thedestruction of the bone and joints. We undertook this study to verify the effects of natural grape-seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE), an antioxidant, on chronic inflammation and bone destruction. GSPE administration ameliorated the arthritic symptoms of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), which are representative of cartilage and bone destruction. GSPE treatment reduced the formation of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive multinucleated cells and osteoclast activity and increased differentiation of mature osteoblasts. Receptor activator of NFκB ligand expression in fibroblasts from RA patients was abrogated with GSPE treatment. GSPE blocked human peripheral blood mononuclear cell-derived osteoclastogenesis and acted as an antioxidant. GSPE improved the arthritic manifestations of CIA mice by simultaneously suppressing osteoclast differentiation and promoting osteoblast differentiation. Our results suggest that GSPE may be beneficial for the treatment of inflammation-associated bone destruction.
PMCID: PMC3519627  PMID: 23251512
13.  Epidemiological Characteristics of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) in Antiviral Drug Users in Korea 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47634.
Soon after the first novel influenza A (H1N1) death was documented in Korea on August 15, 2009, prompt treatment with antiviral drugs was recommended when an infection was suspected. Free antiviral drugs were distributed to patients who met the case definition in the treatment guidelines, and patients prescribed the antiviral drugs were included in the Antiviral Drug Surveillance System (ADSS). A total of 2,825,821 patients were reported to the ADSS from September 1 to December 31, 2009. Odds ratios were calculated to compare the risks of severe diseases, as indicated by general hospital admissions or intensive care unit (ICU) admissions according to demographic characteristics, underlying medical conditions, and behavioral factors. Approximately 6% of the total population received antiviral drugs during the study period. Of these, 2,709,611 (95.9%) were outpatients, 114,840 (4.06%) were hospitalized, and 1,370 (0.05%) were admitted to the ICU. Children aged 0–9 yr accounted for 33.94% of all reported cases, whereas only 3.89% of the patients were ≥ 60 yr. The estimated incidence of novel influenza A (H1N1) during the pandemic was 5.68/100 of all reported cases. Mortality due to influenza A (H1N1) during the pandemic was 0.33/100,000, with the highest mortality of 1.31/100,000 for patients aged ≥ 60 years. Severe pandemic H1N1 influenza was associated with the presence of one or more underlying medical conditions in elderly aged ≥ 60 years and with lower economic status. Moreover, influenza A (H1N1) appeared to be age-specific in terms of mortality. Although the incidence and admission rates of influenza A (H1N1) were higher in younger age groups, fatal cases were much more likely to occur in the elderly (≥60 years). In contrast to earlier influenza A (H1N1) reports, the risks of a severe outcome were elevated among those who were underweight (body mass index < 18.5 kg/m2).
PMCID: PMC3474727  PMID: 23082184
14.  Toll-Like Receptor 4 Decoy, TOY, Attenuates Gram-Negative Bacterial Sepsis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7403.
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the Gram-negative bacterial outer membrane glycolipid, induces sepsis through its interaction with myeloid differentiation protein-2 (MD-2) and Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). To block interaction between LPS/MD-2 complex and TLR4, we designed and generated soluble fusion proteins capable of binding MD-2, dubbed TLR4 decoy receptor (TOY) using ‘the Hybrid leucine-rich repeats (LRR) technique’. TOY contains the MD-2 binding ectodomain of TLR4, the LRR motif of hagfish variable lymphocyte receptor (VLR), and the Fc domain of IgG1 to make it soluble, productive, and functional. TOY exhibited strong binding to MD-2, but not to the extracellular matrix (ECM), resulting in a favorable pharmacokinetic profile in vivo. TOY significantly extended the lifespan, when administered in either preventive or therapeutic manners, in both the LPS- and cecal ligation/puncture-induced sepsis models in mice. TOY markedly attenuated LPS-triggered NF-κB activation, secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, and thrombus formation in multiple organs. Taken together, the targeting strategy for sequestration of LPS/MD-2 complex using the decoy receptor TOY is effective in treating LPS- and bacteria-induced sepsis; furthermore, the strategy used in TOY development can be applied to the generation of other novel decoy receptor proteins.
PMCID: PMC2754608  PMID: 19816595

Results 1-14 (14)