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1.  Direct in vitro comparison of six 3D positive contrast methods for susceptibility marker imaging 
To compare different techniques for positive contrast imaging of susceptibility markers with MRI for 3D visualization. As several different techniques have been reported, the choice of the suitable method depends on its properties with regard to the amount of positive contrast and the desired background suppression, as well as other imaging constraints needed for a specific application.
Materials and methods
Six different positive contrast techniques are investigated for their ability to image at 3T a single susceptibility marker in vitro. The white marker method (WM), susceptibility gradient mapping (SGM), inversion recovery with on-resonant water suppression (IRON), frequency selective excitation (FSX), fast low flip-angle positive contrast SSFP (FLAPS), and iterative decomposition of water and fat with echo asymmetry and least-squares estimation (IDEAL) were implemented and investigated.
The different methods were compared with respect to the volume of positive contrast, the product of volume and signal intensity, imaging time, and the level of background suppression. Quantitative results are provided and strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches are discussed.
The appropriate choice of positive contrast imaging technique depends on the desired level of background suppression, acquisition speed, and robustness against artifacts, for which in vitro comparative data is now available.
PMCID: PMC3620818  PMID: 23281151
susceptibility imaging; off resonance; positive contrast
2.  Cell cycle–related genes as modifiers of age of onset of colorectal cancer in Lynch syndrome: a large-scale study in non-Hispanic white patients 
Carcinogenesis  2012;34(2):299-306.
Heterogeneity in age of onset of colorectal cancer in individuals with mutations in DNA mismatch repair genes (Lynch syndrome) suggests the influence of other lifestyle and genetic modifiers. We hypothesized that genes regulating the cell cycle influence the observed heterogeneity as cell cycle–related genes respond to DNA damage by arresting the cell cycle to provide time for repair and induce transcription of genes that facilitate repair. We examined the association of 1456 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 128 cell cycle–related genes and 31 DNA repair–related genes in 485 non-Hispanic white participants with Lynch syndrome to determine whether there are SNPs associated with age of onset of colorectal cancer. Genotyping was performed on an Illumina GoldenGate platform, and data were analyzed using Kaplan–Meier survival analysis, Cox regression analysis and classification and regression tree (CART) methods. Ten SNPs were independently significant in a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model after correcting for multiple comparisons (P < 5×10–4). Furthermore, risk modeling using CART analysis defined combinations of genotypes for these SNPs with which subjects could be classified into low-risk, moderate-risk and high-risk groups that had median ages of colorectal cancer onset of 63, 50 and 42 years, respectively. The age-associated risk of colorectal cancer in the high-risk group was more than four times the risk in the low-risk group (hazard ratio = 4.67, 95% CI = 3.16–6.92). The additional genetic markers identified may help in refining risk groups for more tailored screening and follow-up of non-Hispanic white patients with Lynch syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3564440  PMID: 23125224
3.  Hydrophobic enhancement of Dopa-mediated adhesion in a mussel foot protein 
Dopa (3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) is recognized as a key chemical signature of mussel adhesion and has been adopted into diverse synthetic polymer systems. Dopa’s notorious susceptibility to oxidation, however, poses significant challenges to the practical translation of mussel adhesion. Using a Surface Forces Apparatus to investigate the adhesion of Mfp3 (mussel foot protein 3) slow, a hydrophobic protein variant of the Mfp3 family in the plaque, we have discovered a subtle molecular strategy correlated with hydrophobicity that appears to compensate for Dopa instability. At pH 3, where Dopa is stable, Mfp3 slow like Mfp3 fast adhesion to mica is directly proportional to the mol% of Dopa present in the protein. At pH 5.5 and 7.5, however, loss of adhesion in Mfp3 slow was less than half that occurring in Mfp3 fast, purportedly because Dopa in Mfp3 slow is less prone to oxidation. Indeed, cyclic voltammetry showed that the oxidation potential of Dopa in Mfp3 slow is significantly higher than in Mfp3 fast at pH 7.5. A much greater difference between the two variants was revealed in the interaction energy of two symmetric Mfp3 slow films (Ead = −3 mJ/m2). This energy corresponds to the energy of protein cohesion which is notable for its reversibility and pH-independence. Exploitation of aromatic hydrophobic sequences to protect Dopa against oxidation as well as to mediate hydrophobic and H-bonding interactions between proteins provides new insights for developing effective artificial underwater adhesives.
PMCID: PMC3587158  PMID: 23214725
4.  Genome-wide aberrant DNA methylation of microRNA host genes in hepatocellular carcinoma 
Epigenetics  2012;7(11):1230-1237.
Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs involved in posttranslational gene silencing. Previous studies found that downregulation of miRNAs is a common feature observed in solid tumors, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We employed a genome-wide approach to test the hypothesis that DNA methylation alterations in miRNA host genes may cause deregulated miRNA expression in HCC. We analyzed tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues from 62 Taiwanese HCC cases using Infinium HumanMethylation27 DNA Analysis BeadChips that include 254 CpG sites covering 110 miRNAs from 64 host genes. Expression levels of three identified miRNAs (miR-10a, miR-10b and miR-196b) were measured in a subset of 37 HCC tumor and non-tumor tissues. After Bonferroni adjustment, a total of 54 CpG sites from 27 host genes significantly differed in DNA methylation levels between tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues with 53 sites significantly hypermethylated in tumor tissues. Among the 54 significant CpG sites, 15 sites had more than 2-fold tumor/non-tumor changes, 17 sites had differences > 10%, and 10 sites had both features [including 8 significantly hypermethylated CpG sites in the host genes of miR-10a, miR-10b and miR-196b (HOXB4, HOXD4 and HOXA9, respectively)]. Significant downregulation of miR-10a was observed in tumor compared with non-tumor tissues (0.50 vs. 1.73, p = 0.031). The concordance for HOXB4 methylation alteration and dysregulation of miR-10a was 73.5%. No significant change was observed for miR-10b expression. Unexpectedly, miR-196b was significantly upregulated in tumor compared with non-tumor tissues (p = 0.0001). These data suggest that aberrant DNA methylation may lead to dysregulation of miR-10a in HCC tumor tissues.
PMCID: PMC3499324  PMID: 22976466
HCC; genome-wide; host gene; microRNA; DNA methylation
5.  The Value of Ultrasound in Detecting Extra-Axillary Regional Node Involvement in Patients With Advanced Breast Cancer 
The Oncologist  2012;17(11):1402-1408.
The role of regional ultrasound in providing clinically relevant information was evaluated in the assessment of regional lymphatics for accurate staging and treatment of breast cancer patients. Regional ultrasound was found to be beneficial in initial staging evaluations.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Describe the ways in which regional ultrasound has contributed to more accurate staging in a population of locally advanced breast cancer patients.Explain how regional nodal information leads to changes in radiation therapy portals and total doses.Discuss the role of regional ultrasound in reflecting a truer level of disease burden in locally advanced breast cancer patients before therapies, including neoadjuvant chemotherapy, may limit knowledge of disease extent and consequently affect radiation treatment planning.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at
Assessment of the regional lymphatics is important for accurate staging and treatment of breast cancer patients. We sought to determine the role of regional ultrasound in providing clinically relevant information. We retrospectively analyzed data from patients who were treated curatively in 1996–2006 at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for clinical stage III breast cancer. We compared differences in regional lymph node staging based on ultrasound versus mammography and physical examination in the 865 of 1,200 patients who had external-beam radiation as part of their treatment and regional ultrasound studies as part of their initial evaluation. Ultrasound uniquely identified additional lymph node involvement beyond the level I or II axilla in 37% of the patients (325 of 865), leading to a change in clinical nodal stage. Ninety-one percent of these abnormalities that could be biopsied (266 or 293) were confirmed to contain disease. The sites of additional regional nodal disease were: infraclavicular disease, 32% (275 of 865); supraclavicular disease, 16% (140 of 865); and internal mammary disease, 11% (98 of 865). All patients with involvement in the extra-axillary regional nodal basins received a radiation boost to the involved areas ≥10 Gy. Thus, over one third of patients with advanced breast cancer had their radiation plan altered by the ultrasound findings. Regional ultrasound evaluation in patients with advanced breast cancer commonly revealed abnormalities within and beyond the axilla, which changed the clinical stage of disease and the radiation treatment strategy. Therefore, regional ultrasound is beneficial in the initial staging evaluation for such patients.
PMCID: PMC3500360  PMID: 22982581
Regional ultrasound; Breast cancer; Staging; Locally advanced
6.  Limited Proteolysis Via Millisecond Digestions in Protease-Modified Membranes 
Analytical chemistry  2012;84(19):8357-8363.
Sequential adsorption of poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS) and proteases in porous nylon yields enzymatic membrane reactors for limited protein digestion. Although a high local enzyme density (~30 mg/cm3) and small pore diameters in the membrane lead to digestion in < 1 s, the low membrane thickness (170 μm) affords control over residence times at the ms level to limit digestion. Apomyoglobin digestion demonstrates that peptide lengths increase as the residence time in the membrane decreases. Moreover, electron transfer dissociation (ETD) tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) on a large myoglobin proteolytic peptide (8 kD) provides a resolution of 1–2 amino acids. Under denaturing conditions, limited membrane digestion of bovine serum albumin (BSA) and subsequent ESI-Orbitrap MS analysis reveal large peptides (3 kD–10 kD) that increase the sequence coverage from 53 % (2-s digestion) to 82 % (0.05-s digestion). With this approach we also performed membrane-based limited proteolysis of a large Arabidopsis GTPase, ROOT HAIR DEFECTIVE 3 (RHD3), and showed suitable probing for labile regions near the C-terminus to suggest what protein reconstruction might make RHD3 more suitable for crystallization.
PMCID: PMC3683959  PMID: 22950601
7.  Early Growth Response Protein-1 Promoter-Mediated Synergistic Antitumor Effect of hTERTC27 Gene Therapy and 5-Flurorouracil on Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma 
hTERTC27 is a newly constructed polypeptide that can induce telomere dysfunction. To study the synergistic antitumor effects of the hTERTC27 polypeptide driven by the early growth response protein-1 (Egr-1) promoter and chemotherapeutic 5-flurorouracil (5-FU) on nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments were performed. The results showed that hTERTC27 expression was significantly increased up to 7.21-folds by the 5-FU-activated Egr-1 promoter in C666-1 cells. Overexpressed hTERTC27 made the cells more sensitive to 5-FU, and additionally, inhibited cell proliferation about 20.41%. Combinational therapy of overexpressed hTERTC27 driven by the 5-FU-activated Egr-1 promoter and 5-FU synergistically inhibited cell proliferation and promoted apoptosis of C666-1 cells for about 4.75-fold and 1.76-fold in comparison with a sole therapy of hTERTC27 or 5-FU in vitro. In vivo experiments showed that overexpressed hTERTC27 driven by 5-FU-activated Egr-1 promoter and 5-FU synergistically reduced tumor volume, tumor weight, and local infiltration, which may be relative to tumor cell apoptosis. These results suggest that combinational therapy of overexpressed hTERTC27, which is driven by the 5-FU-activated Egr-1 promoter, and 5-FU may provide a novel approach to treat nasopharyngeal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3432866  PMID: 22947087
5-FU; Egr-1; hTERTC27; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; gene therapy
8.  Grain Size Effects in Polycrystalline Gold Nanoparticles 
Nanoscale  2012;4(14):4228-4233.
We report a structure-property relationship in gold nanoparticles (NPs), grain-size effects, which not only allow material properties observed on different characteristic length scales to be engineered in a single NP but further enhance those properties due to the coupling among different-size grains. The grain size effects were achieved by creating polycrystalline gold NPs (pAuNPs) with two distinct grain-size populations (5 and 1 nm) comparable to electron mean free path and electron Fermi wavelength (EFW) respectively. Successful integration of molecular and plasmonic properties into a single nanostructure without additional fluorophores enables these highly polycrystalline AuNPs to serve as multimodal probes in a variety of optical microscopic imaging techniques.
PMCID: PMC3389155  PMID: 22456680
9.  Genome-wide DNA Methylation Profiles in Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;55(6):1799-1808.
Alterations in DNA methylation frequently occur in hepatocellular cancer (HCC). We have previously demonstrated that hypermethylation in candidate genes can be detected in plasma DNA prior to HCC diagnosis. To identify with a genome-wide approach additional genes hypermethylated in HCC that could be used for more accurate analysis of plasma DNA for early diagnosis, we analyzed tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues from 62 Taiwanese HCC cases using Illumina methylation arrays that screen 26,486 autosomal CpG sites. After Bonferroni adjustment, a total of 2,324 CpG sites significantly differed in methylation level, with 684 CpG sites significantly hypermethylated and 1,640 hypomethylated in tumor compared to non-tumor tissues. Array data were validated with pyrosequencing in a subset of 5 of these genes; correlation coefficients ranged from 0.92 to 0.97. Analysis of plasma DNA from 38 cases demonstrated that 37% to 63% of cases had detectable hypermethylated DNA (≥5% methylation) for these 5 genes individually. At least one of these genes was hypermethylated in 87% of cases, suggesting that measurement of DNA methylation in plasma samples is feasible. The panel of methylated genes indentified in the current study will be further tested in large cohort of prospectively collected samples to determine their utility as early biomarkers of hepatocellular carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3330167  PMID: 22234943
Genome-wide; DNA mehtylation; Hepatocellular Carcinoma
10.  Regional Coronary Endothelial Function is Closely Related to Local Early Coronary Atherosclerosis in Patients with Mild Coronary Artery Disease: A Pilot Study 
Coronary endothelial function (endoFx) is abnormal in patients with established coronary artery disease (CAD) and was recently shown by MRI to relate to the severity of luminal stenosis. Recent advances in MRI now allow the non-invasive assessment of both anatomic and functional (endoFx) changes that previously required invasive studies. We tested the hypothesis that abnormal coronary endoFx is related to measures of early atherosclerosis such as increased coronary wall thickness (CWT).
Methods and Results
Seventeen arteries in fourteen healthy adults and seventeen arteries in fourteen patients with non-obstructive CAD were studied. To measure endoFx, coronary MRI was performed before and during isometric handgrip exercise, an endothelial-dependent stressor and changes in coronary cross-sectional area (CSA) and flow were measured. Black blood imaging was performed to quantify CWT and other indices of arterial remodeling. The mean stress-induced change in CSA was significantly higher in healthy adults (13.5%±12.8%, mean±SD, n=17) than in those with mildly diseased arteries (-2.2±6.8%, p<0.0001, n=17). Mean CWT was lower in healthy subjects (0.9±0.2mm) than in CAD patients (1.4±0.3mm, p<0.0001). In contrast to healthy subjects, stress-induced changes in CSA, a measure of coronary endoFx, correlated inversely with CWT in CAD patients (r= -0.73, p=0.0008).
There is an inverse relationship between coronary endothelial function and local CWT in CAD patients but not in healthy adults. These findings demonstrate that local endothelial-dependent functional changes are related to the extent of early anatomic atherosclerosis in mildly diseased arteries. This combined MRI approach enables the anatomic and functional investigation of early coronary disease.
PMCID: PMC3665274  PMID: 22492483
coronary disease; endothelium; magnetic resonance imaging
11.  Age-dependent microRNA control of synaptic plasticity in 22q11 deletion syndrome and schizophrenia 
The 22q11 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is characterized by multiple physical and psychiatric abnormalities and is caused by the hemizygous deletion of a 1.5–3Mb region of chromosome 22. 22q11DS constitutes one of the strongest known genetic risks for schizophrenia; schizophrenia arises in as many as 30% of patients with 22q11DS during adolescence or early adulthood. A mouse model of 22q11DS displays an age-dependent increase in hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), a form of synaptic plasticity underlying learning and memory. The sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA2), which is responsible for loading Ca2+ into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), is elevated in this mouse model. The resulting increase in ER Ca2+ load leads to enhanced neurotransmitter release and increased LTP. However, the mechanism by which the 22q11 microdeletion leads to SERCA2 overexpression and LTP increase has not been determined. Screening of multiple mutant mouse lines revealed that haploinsufficiency of Dgcr8, a microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis gene in the 22q11DS disease-critical region, causes age-dependent, synaptic SERCA2 overexpression and increased LTP. We found that miR-25 and miR-185, regulators of SERCA2, are depleted in mouse models of 22q11DS. Restoration of these miRNAs to presynaptic neurons rescues LTP in Dgcr8+/− mice. Finally, we show that SERCA2 is elevated in the brains of patients with schizophrenia, providing a link between mouse model findings and the human disease. We conclude that miRNA-dependent SERCA2 dysregulation is a pathogenic event in 22q11DS and schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3486522  PMID: 23055483
12.  Identification of a novel Getah virus by Virus-Discovery-cDNA random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:305.
The identification of new virus strains is important for the study of infectious disease, but current (or existing) molecular biology methods are limited since the target sequence must be known to design genome-specific PCR primers. Thus, we developed a new method for the discovery of unknown viruses based on the cDNA - random amplified polymorphic DNA (cDNA-RAPD) technique. Getah virus, belonging to the family Togaviridae in the genus Alphavirus, is a mosquito-borne enveloped RNA virus that was identified using the Virus-Discovery-cDNA RAPD (VIDISCR) method.
A novel Getah virus was identified by VIDISCR from suckling mice exposed to mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) collected in Yunnan Province, China. The non-structural protein gene, nsP3, the structural protein gene, the capsid protein gene, and the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of the novel Getah virus isolate were cloned and sequenced. Nucleotide sequence identities of each gene were determined to be 97.1–99.3%, 94.9–99.4%, and 93.6–99.9%, respectively, when compared with the genomes of 10 other representative strains of Getah virus.
The VIDISCR method was able to identify known virus isolates and a novel isolate of Getah virus from infected mice. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the YN08 isolate was more closely related to the Hebei HB0234 strain than the YN0540 strain, and more genetically distinct from the MM2021 Malaysia primitive strain.
PMCID: PMC3547691  PMID: 23268691
Getah virus; Identification; Virus-Discovery; cDNA RAPD
13.  Delayed Contrast-Enhanced MRI of the Coronary Artery Wall in Takayasu Arteritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50655.
Takayasu arteritis (TA) is a rare form of chronic inflammatory granulomatous arteritis of the aorta and its major branches. Late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has demonstrated its value for the detection of vessel wall alterations in TA. The aim of this study was to assess LGE of the coronary artery wall in patients with TA compared to patients with stable CAD.
We enrolled 9 patients (8 female, average age 46±13 years) with proven TA. In the CAD group 9 patients participated (8 male, average age 65±10 years). Studies were performed on a commercial 3T whole-body MR imaging system (Achieva; Philips, Best, The Netherlands) using a 3D inversion prepared navigator gated spoiled gradient-echo sequence, which was repeated 34–45 minutes after low-dose gadolinium administration.
No coronary vessel wall enhancement was observed prior to contrast in either group. Post contrast, coronary LGE on IR scans was detected in 28 of 50 segments (56%) seen on T2-Prep scans in TA and in 25 of 57 segments (44%) in CAD patients. LGE quantitative assessment of coronary artery vessel wall CNR post contrast revealed no significant differences between the two groups (CNR in TA: 6.0±2.4 and 7.3±2.5 in CAD; p = 0.474).
Our findings suggest that LGE of the coronary artery wall seems to be common in patients with TA and similarly pronounced as in CAD patients. The observed coronary LGE seems to be rather unspecific, and differentiation between coronary vessel wall fibrosis and inflammation still remains unclear.
PMCID: PMC3517571  PMID: 23236382
14.  Indocyanine Green-Assisted Internal Limiting Membrane Peeling in Macular Hole Surgery: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48405.
The opinion of application of indocyanine green (ICG) in the macular hole surgery was contradictory. Here we conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of in internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling for macular hole surgery.
Methods and Findings
We searched electronic databases for comparative studies published before July 2012 of ILM peeling with and without ICG. Twenty-two studies including 1585 eyes were included. Visual acuity (VA) improvement, including the postoperative rate of ≥20/40 VA gained (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.43 to 0.97; P = 0.033) and increased LogMAR (WMD, −0.09; 95% CI, −0.16 to −0.02; P = 0.011), was less in the ICG group. The risk of visual field defects was greater in the ICG group than in the non-ICG group. There was no significant difference in the rate of anatomical outcomes between ILM peeling procedures performed with and without ICG. RPE changes and other postoperative complications were not significantly different between the ICG and non-ICG groups. An additional analysis showed that the VA improvement of the ICG group was less than the non-ICG group only within the first year of follow up. A subgroup analysis showed that the rate of VA improvement was lower in the ICG group than in other adjuncts group. A higher rate of secondary closure and less VA improvement were observed in a high proportion (>0.1%) of the ICG group. A sensitivity analysis after the randomized-controlled trials were excluded from the meta-analysis demonstrated no differences compared with the overall results.
This meta-analysis demonstrated that there is no evidence of clinical superiority in outcomes for ICG-assisted ILM peeling procedure over the non-ICG one. The toxicity of ICG should be considered when choosing the various staining methods.
PMCID: PMC3492355  PMID: 23144875
15.  Hydrogen peroxide functions as a secondary messenger for brassinosteroids-induced CO2 assimilation and carbohydrate metabolism in Cucumis sativus *  
Brassinosteroids (BRs) are potent regulators of photosynthesis and crop yield in agricultural crops; however, the mechanism by which BRs increase photosynthesis is not fully understood. Here, we show that foliar application of 24-epibrassinolide (EBR) resulted in increases in CO2 assimilation, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) accumulation, and leaf area in cucumber. H2O2 treatment induced increases in CO2 assimilation whilst inhibition of the H2O2 accumulation by its generation inhibitor or scavenger completely abolished EBR-induced CO2 assimilation. Increases of light harvesting due to larger leaf areas in EBR- and H2O2-treated plants were accompanied by increases in the photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (ΦPSII) and photochemical quenching coefficient (q P). EBR and H2O2 both activated carboxylation efficiency of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate oxygenase/carboxylase (Rubisco) from analysis of CO2 response curve and in vitro measurement of Rubisco activities. Moreover, EBR and H2O2 increased contents of total soluble sugar, sucrose, hexose, and starch, followed by enhanced activities of sugar metabolism such as sucrose phosphate synthase, sucrose synthase, and invertase. Interestingly, expression of transcripts of enzymes involved in starch and sugar utilization were inhibited by EBR and H2O2. However, the effects of EBR on carbohydrate metabolisms were reversed by the H2O2 generation inhibitor diphenyleneodonium (DPI) or scavenger dimethylthiourea (DMTU) pretreatment. All of these results indicate that H2O2 functions as a secondary messenger for EBR-induced CO2 assimilation and carbohydrate metabolism in cucumber plants. Our study confirms that H2O2 mediates the regulation of photosynthesis by BRs and suggests that EBR and H2O2 regulate Calvin cycle and sugar metabolism via redox signaling and thus increase the photosynthetic potential and yield of crops.
PMCID: PMC3468824  PMID: 23024048
Metabolism; Photosynthesis; Reactive oxygen species; Rubisco; Sucrose
16.  The Beijing version of the montreal cognitive assessment as a brief screening tool for mild cognitive impairment: a community-based study 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:156.
A cross-sectional validation study was conducted in several urban and rural communities in Beijing, China, to evaluate the effectiveness of the Beijing version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA-BJ) as a screening tool to detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among Chinese older adults.
The MoCA-BJ and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were administered to 1001 Chinese elderly community dwellers recruited from three different regions (i.e., newly developed, old down-town, and rural areas) in Beijing. Twenty-one of these participants were diagnosed by experienced psychiatrists as having dementia, 115 participants were diagnosed as MCI, and 865 participants were considered to be cognitively normal. To analyze the effectiveness of the MoCA-BJ, we examined its psychometric properties, conducted item analyses, evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of the scale, and compared the scale with the MMSE. Demographic and regional differences among our subjects were also taken into consideration.
Under the recommended cut-off score of 26, the MoCA-BJ demonstrated an excellent sensitivity of 90.4%, and a fair specificity (31.3%). The MoCA-BJ showed optimal sensitivity (68.7%) and specificity (63.9%) when the cut-off score was lowered to 22. Among all the seven cognitive sub-domains, delayed recall was shown to be the best index to differentiate MCI from the normal controls. Regional differences disappeared when the confounding demographic variables (i.e., age and education) were controlled. Item analysis showed that the internal consistency was relatively low in both naming and sentence repetition tasks, and the diagnostic accuracy was similar between the MoCA-BJ and the MMSE.
In general, the MoCA-BJ is an acceptable tool for MCI screening in both urban and rural regions of Beijing. However, presumably due to the linguistic and cultural differences between the original English version and the Chinese version of the scale, and the lower education level of Chinese older adults, the MoCA-BJ is not much better than the MMSE in detecting MCI, at least for this study sample. Further modifications to several test items of the MoCA-BJ are recommended in order to improve the applicability and effectiveness of the MoCA-BJ in MCI screening among the Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3499377  PMID: 23009126
MoCA-BJ; MMSE; Mild cognitive impairment; Dementia; Cognitive assessment
17.  Preoperative Cyfra21-1 and SCC-Ag serum titers predict survival in patients with stage II esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the predictive significance of preoperative serum level of cytokeratin 19 fragments (Cyfra21-1) and squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC-Ag) after complete resection in patients with stage II esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
Between 1995 and 2006, a total of 379 patients in stage II ESCC who underwent complete resection were consecutively recruited. Statistical analyses were applied to test the associations between preoperative serum titers of Cyfra21-1 and SCC-Ag, clinicopathological factors and prognoses.
Preoperative high and normal serum level of Cyfra21-1 and SCC-Ag were found in 47.8%, 52.2% and 72.8%, 27.2%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, 5-year overall survival rate for the entire cohort of patients was 95%, 78%, and 56%, respectively. Median overall survival (OS) was 45.3 months longer in patients with low preoperative serum level of Cyfra21-1 (91.9 months) than those with high preoperative serum level of Cyfra21-1 (46.6 months) (P < 0.001). Median OS among patients with SCC-Ag-low level was also longer than those with SCC-Ag-high level (89.7 vs. 63.7 months, P < 0.001), especially for those with stage IIB (P < 0.001). After multivariate analysis, along with pTNM stage, preoperative serum level of Cyfra21-1 and SCC-Ag were independently and significantly predictive factors (P < 0.001, P < 0.001). Furthermore, the five-year survival rate in double-low subset, either-low subset and double-high subset was 100%, 83% and 27%, respectively (P < 0.001).
The preoperative serum level of Cyfra21-1 and SCC-Ag are independently significant predictors which negatively affected the survivals of patients with stage II ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3548759  PMID: 22999061
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Cyfra21-1; SCC-Ag; Prognosis
18.  Ginsenoside Rb1 Prevents MPP+-Induced Apoptosis in PC12 Cells by Stimulating Estrogen Receptors with Consequent Activation of ERK1/2, Akt and Inhibition of SAPK/JNK, p38 MAPK 
Ginsenoside Rb1 shows neuroprotective effects in various neurons, including dopaminergic cells. However, the precise mechanisms of action are uncertain. In this paper, we examine whether Rb1 has a neuroprotective effect on MPP+-induced apoptosis and attempt to clarify the signaling pathway in PC12 cells. Apoptosis of PC12 cells was determined by DNA fragmentation assay, the activation of caspase-3, or by the inactivation of Bcl-xL. Rb1 inhibited MPP+-induced caspase-3 activation and DNA fragmentation and activated Bcl-xL in MPP+-treated PC12 cells. These antiapoptotic effect was abrogated in PC12 cells transfected with estrogen receptor siRNA. Levels of DNA fragmentation were increased by wortmannin or PD 98059, while they were decreased by SB 203580 or SP 600125 in MPP+-treated PC12 cells. Rb1 increased phosphorylation levels of ERK1/2 or Akt in MPP+-treated PC12 cells, while it reduced phosphorylated p38 or SAPK/JNK. The increased phosphorylation of ERK/1/2 or Akt by Rb1 was abrogated by estrogen receptor siRNA. Rb1-induced inhibition of SAPK/JNK or p38 phosphorylation was also abolished by estrogen receptor siRNA. These results suggest that ginsenoside Rb1 protects PC12 cells from caspase-3-dependent apoptosis through stimulation of estrogen receptor with consequent activation of ERK1/2 and Akt and inhibition of SAPK/JNK and p38.
PMCID: PMC3457685  PMID: 23024694
19.  Tigecycline challenge triggers sRNA production in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:195.
Bacteria employ complex transcriptional networks involving multiple genes in response to stress, which is not limited to gene and protein networks but now includes small RNAs (sRNAs). These regulatory RNA molecules are increasingly shown to be able to initiate regulatory cascades and modulate the expression of multiple genes that are involved in or required for survival under environmental challenge. Despite mounting evidence for the importance of sRNAs in stress response, their role upon antibiotic exposure remains unknown. In this study, we sought to determine firstly, whether differential expression of sRNAs occurs upon antibiotic exposure and secondly, whether these sRNAs could be attributed to microbial tolerance to antibiotics.
A small scale sRNA cloning strategy of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 challenged with half the minimal inhibitory concentration of tigecycline identified four sRNAs (sYJ5, sYJ20, sYJ75 and sYJ118) which were reproducibly upregulated in the presence of either tigecycline or tetracycline. The coding sequences of the four sRNAs were found to be conserved across a number of species. Genome analysis found that sYJ5 and sYJ118 mapped between the 16S and 23S rRNA encoding genes. sYJ20 (also known as SroA) is encoded upstream of the tbpAyabKyabJ operon and is classed as a riboswitch, whilst its role in antibiotic stress-response appears independent of its riboswitch function. sYJ75 is encoded between genes that are involved in enterobactin transport and metabolism. Additionally we find that the genetic deletion of sYJ20 rendered a reduced viability phenotype in the presence of tigecycline, which was recovered when complemented. The upregulation of some of these sRNAs were also observed when S. Typhimurium was challenged by ampicillin (sYJ5, 75 and 118); or when Klebsiella pneumoniae was challenged by tigecycline (sYJ20 and 118).
Small RNAs are overexpressed as a result of antibiotic exposure in S. Typhimurium where the same molecules are upregulated in a related species or after exposure to different antibiotics. sYJ20, a riboswitch, appears to possess a trans-regulatory sRNA role in antibiotic tolerance. These findings imply that the sRNA mediated response is a component of the bacterial response to antibiotic challenge.
PMCID: PMC3511261  PMID: 22958399
20.  Interaction of Brassinosteroids and Polyamines Enhances Copper Stress Tolerance in Raphanus Sativus  
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(15):5659-5675.
Brassinosteroids (BRs) and polyamines (PAs) regulate various responses to abiotic stress, but their involvement in the regulation of copper (Cu) homeostasis in plants exposed to toxic levels of Cu is poorly understood. This study provides an analysis of the effects of exogenously applied BRs and PAs on radish (Raphanus sativus) plants exposed to toxic concentrations of Cu. The interaction of 24-epibrassinolide (EBR, an active BR) and spermidine (Spd, an active PA) on gene expression and the physiology of radish plants resulted in enhanced tolerance to Cu stress. Results indicated that the combined application of EBR and Spd modulated the expression of genes encoding PA enzymes and genes that impact the metabolism of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and abscisic acid (ABA) resulting in enhanced Cu stress tolerance. Altered expression of genes implicated in Cu homeostasis appeared to be the main effect of EBR and Spd leading to Cu stress alleviation in radish. Ion leakage, in vivo imaging of H2O2, comet assay, and improved tolerance of Cu-sensitive yeast strains provided further evidence for the ability of EBR and Spd to improve Cu tolerance significantly. The study indicates that co-application of EBR and Spd is an effective approach for Cu detoxification and the maintenance of Cu homeostasis in plants. Therefore, the use of these compounds in agricultural production systems should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3444278  PMID: 22915739
Abscisic acid; brassinosteroids; comet assay; copper transporters; Cu homeostasis; Cu-sensitive yeast; indole-3-acetic acid; oxidative stress; polyamines
21.  Extracellular polysaccharides produced by Ganoderma formosanum stimulate macrophage activation via multiple pattern-recognition receptors 
The fungus of Ganoderma is a traditional medicine in Asia with a variety of pharmacological functions including anti-cancer activities. We have purified an extracellular heteropolysaccharide fraction, PS-F2, from the submerged mycelia culture of G. formosanum and shown that PS-F2 exhibits immunostimulatory activities. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of immunostimulation by PS-F2.
PS-F2-stimulated TNF-α production in macrophages was significantly reduced in the presence of blocking antibodies for Dectin-1 and complement receptor 3 (CR3), laminarin, or piceatannol (a spleen tyrosine kinase inhibitor), suggesting that PS-F2 recognition by macrophages is mediated by Dectin-1 and CR3 receptors. In addition, the stimulatory effect of PS-F2 was attenuated in the bone marrow-derived macrophages from C3H/HeJ mice which lack functional Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). PS-F2 stimulation triggered the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases JNK, p38, and ERK, as well as the nuclear translocation of NF-κB, which all played essential roles in activating TNF-α expression.
Our results indicate that the extracellular polysaccharides produced by G. formosanum stimulate macrophages via the engagement of multiple pattern-recognition receptors including Dectin-1, CR3 and TLR4, resulting in the activation of Syk, JNK, p38, ERK, and NK-κB and the production of TNF-α.
PMCID: PMC3495220  PMID: 22883599
Ganoderma formosanum; Polysaccharide; Immunostimulatory; Macrophage; Pattern-recognition receptor
22.  PI3K Contributed to Modulation of Spinal Nociceptive Information Related to ephrinBs/EphBs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40930.
There is accumulating evidence to implicate the importance of EphBs receptors and ephrinBs ligands were involved in modulation of spinal nociceptive information. However, the downstream mechanisms that control this process are not well understood. In the present study, we investigated whether phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), as the downstream effectors, participates in modulation of spinal nociceptive information related to ephrinBs/EphBs. Intrathecal injection of ephrinB1-Fc produced a dose- and time-dependent thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia, accompanied by the increase of spinal PI3K-p110γ, phosphorylation of AKT (p-AKT) and c-Fos expression. Pre-treatment with PI3K inhibitor wortmannin or LY294002 prevented activation of spinal AKT induced by ephrinB1-Fc. Inhibition of spinal PI3K signaling dose-dependently prevented and reversed pain behaviors and spinal c-Fos protein expression induced by intrathecal injection of ephrinB1-Fc. Inhibition of EphBs receptors by intrathecal injection of EphB1-Fc reduced formalin-induced inflammation and chronic constrictive injury-induced neuropathic pain behaviors accompanied by decreased expression of spinal PI3K,p-AKT and c-Fos protein. Furthermore, pre-treatment with PI3K inhibitor wortmannin or LY294002 prevented ephrinB1-Fc-induced ERK activation in spinal. These data demonstrated that PI3K and PI3K crosstalk to ERK signaling contributed to modulation of spinal nociceptive information related to ephrinBs/EphBs.
PMCID: PMC3411731  PMID: 22879882
23.  Association between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in ERCC4 and Risk of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41853.
Excision repair cross-complementation group 4 gene (ERCC4/XPF) plays an important role in nucleotide excision repair and participates in removal of DNA interstrand cross-links and DNA double-strand breaks. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ERCC4 may impact repair capacity and affect cancer susceptibility.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this case-control study, we evaluated associations of four selected potentially functional SNPs in ERCC4 with risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) in 1,040 non-Hispanic white patients with SCCHN and 1,046 cancer-free matched controls. We found that the variant GG genotype of rs2276466 was significantly associated with a decreased risk of SCCHN (OR = 0.69, 95% CI 0.50–0.96), and that the variant TT genotype of rs3136038 showed a borderline significant decreased risk with SCCHN (OR = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.58–1.01) in the recessive model. Such protective effects were more evident in oropharyngeal cancer (OR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.40–0.92 for rs2276466; OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.48–0.98 for rs3136038). No significant associations were found for the other two SNPs (rs1800067 and rs1799798). In addition, individuals with the rs2276466 GG or with the rs3136038 TT genotypes had higher levels of ERCC4 mRNA expression than those with the corresponding wild-type genotypes in 90 Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from Caucasians.
These results suggest that these two SNPs (rs2276466 and rs3136038) in ERCC4 may be functional and contribute to SCCHN susceptibility. However, our findings need to be replicated in further large epidemiological and functional studies.
PMCID: PMC3407112  PMID: 22848636
24.  Functional characterization of an arrestin gene on insecticide resistance of Culex pipiens pallens 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:134.
Continuous and excessive application of insecticides has resulted in the rapid development of insecticide resistance in several mosquito species, including Culex pipiens pallens. Previous studies in our laboratory found that arrestin gene expression was higher in the deltamethrin-resistant (DR) strain than in the deltamethrin-susceptible (DS) strain of Cx. pipiens pallens. Similarly, other studies reported that arrestin was highly expressed in permethrin-resistant Cx. quinquefasciatus and in dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)-resistant Drosophila melanogaster.
Full-length cDNAs of an arrestin gene were cloned from Cx. pipiens pallens via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid amplification of cDNA end (RACE). The mRNA levels of the arrestin gene in the whole life cycle of DR and DS strains of Cx. pipiens pallens were investigated via quantitative real-time PCR. In addition, the relationship between arrestin and deltamethrin (DM) resistance were identified using genetic overexpression strategies and arrestin RNAi in mosquito cells. Cell viability was analyzed with cholecystokinin octapeptide after DM treatment. Moreover, the mRNA levels of cytochrome P450 6A1 (CYP6A1) and opsin in the transfected cells and controls were analyzed.
Complete arrestin gene sequence was cloned and expressed throughout the life cycle of Cx. pipiens pallens. Moreover, arrestin was significantly upregulated in the DR strain, compared with that in the DS strain at the egg, pupae, and adult stages. Arrestin overexpression comparably increased the mosquito cell viability, whereas arrestin knockdown by siRNA decreased mosquito cell viability with deltamethrin (DM) treatment. Meanwhile, the mRNA levels of CYP6A1 and opsin were upregulated in mosquito cells transfected with arrestin and downregulated in mosquito cells with arrestin knockdown.
This study presented the first evidence that arrestin might be associated with insecticide resistance in Cx. pipiens pallens.
PMCID: PMC3425237  PMID: 22768923
Insecticide resistance; Arrestin; Gene cloning; Transfection; SiRNA; Cell viability
25.  BVT.2733, a Selective 11β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 Inhibitor, Attenuates Obesity and Inflammation in Diet-Induced Obese Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40056.
Inhibition of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) is being pursued as a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Therefore, there is an urgent need to determine the effect of 11β-HSD1 inhibitor, which suppresses glucocorticoid action, on adipose tissue inflammation. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of BVT.2733, a selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor, on expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and macrophage infiltration in adipose tissue in C57BL/6J mice.
Methodology/Principal Findings
C57BL/6J mice were fed with a normal chow diet (NC) or high fat diet (HFD). HFD treated mice were then administrated with BVT.2733 (HFD+BVT) or vehicle (HFD) for four weeks. Mice receiving BVT.2733 treatment exhibited decreased body weight and enhanced glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity compared to control mice. BVT.2733 also down-regulated the expression of inflammation-related genes including monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and the number of infiltrated macrophages within the adipose tissue in vivo. Pharmacological inhibition of 11β-HSD1 and RNA interference against 11β-HSD1 reduced the mRNA levels of MCP-1 and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in cultured J774A.1 macrophages and 3T3-L1 preadipocyte in vitro.
These results suggest that BVT.2733 treatment could not only decrease body weight and improve metabolic homeostasis, but also suppress the inflammation of adipose tissue in diet-induced obese mice. 11β-HSD1 may be a very promising therapeutic target for obesity and associated disease.
PMCID: PMC3388048  PMID: 22768329

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