Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific disorder characterized by hypertension and proteinuria, but the exact cause of preeclamptic hypertension remains unknown. ATP-binding cassette subfamily A member 1 (ABCA1) reverses cholesterol transport and eliminates excess cholesterol from tissues, whereas higher levels of cholesterol may lead to hypertension. Thus, ABCA1 affects the blood lipid profile. We have hypothesized that serum ABCA1 levels may influence the onset of hypertension and increase the risk of preeclampsia. To test this hypothesis, we measured serum ABCA1 levels in 50 normal pregnancies, 36 preeclamptic pregnancies, and 24 small-for-gestational-age (SGA) pregnancies during three trimesters. We also measured the concentrations of serum ABCA1 in non-pregnant women (n = 60), showing its normal ranges of 0.16 to 0.52 ng/ml. Importantly, the serum levels of ABCA1 were similar among non-pregnant women, normal pregnancies and SGA pregnancies. In contrast, the serum ABCA1 levels were significantly lower in preeclamptic pregnancies (0.06 ± 0.03 ng/ml) than those in non-pregnant women, and normal and SGA pregnancies (P < 0.05). Low serum ABCA1 levels were associated with the increases in the concentrations of blood lipid (low density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides) and with the decrease in the concentration of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P < 0.01), all of which may contribute to the onset of hypertension and eventually preeclampsia. Moreover, the preeclamptic pregnancy was diagnosed with high sensitivity from the nulliparous pregnancies if the cutoff value for serum ABCA1 was 0.06 ng/ml. Thus, low serum levels of ABCA1 are predictive of preeclampsia.
Breast cancer (BC) is the most frequent cause of cancer death in women throughout the world. Thus, it is necessary to establish sensitive screening, diagnosis and treatment methods for BC. Heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) is an important cellular stress response protein that protects cells from apoptosis. Recent studies have shown that serum HSP70 levels may provide clinically important information in various types of cancer. HSP70 is also overexpressed in BC, which is known to be associated with cancer progression, apoptosis and cell proliferation. However, the serum level of HSP70 and its diagnostic and prognostic potential in BC have not been investigated yet. The aim of this study was to determine the usefulnessof serum HSP70 level as a diagnostic test and its predictive value in patients with BC. This prospective study consisted of 45 female patients diagnosed with BC and 16 healthy women who were matched for age and body mass index (BMI). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique was used to measure the serum level of HSP70. The serum level of HSP70 was significantly higher in patients with BC than in the healthy control group (5.98 ± 2.05 vs. 1.49 ± 0.47 ng/ml, p = 0.001). HSP70 level > 2.41 ng/ml was the best cutoff value to predict BC (97.78% sensitivity and 93.75% specificity). This study shows that HSP70 can be used as an adjunct to other diagnostic tests for BC and may be helpful for identifying patients at increased risk of BC.
Isovaleric acidemia (IVA) is an autosomal recessive inborn error affecting leucine metabolism. It is caused by a deficiency in isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase (IVD), a mitochondrial matrix enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of isovaleryl-CoA to 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA. IVD is a FAD-containing enzyme, consisting of four identical subunits. Clinical features of IVA include poor feeding, vomiting, lethargy, developmental delay, metabolic acidosis, and a characteristic “sweaty foot” odor. IVA is one of the target disorders for newborn screening by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The human IVD gene is located on chromosome 15q. To date, over 50 disease-causing mutations have been reported worldwide. In this study, we searched for IVD mutations in five Japanese patients with IVA (neonatal type, two patients; chronic intermittent type, two patients; and mild biochemical type, one patient). The diagnosis of IVA was confirmed by urinary organic acid analysis using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. All coding exons and the flanking introns in the IVD gene were amplified by PCR and were directly sequenced. We thus identified six hitherto unknown mutations (p.G94D, p.E116K, p.M167T, p.L243P, p.L246P, and c.696+1G>T) and four previously reported (p.R53P, p.R395C, p.Y403C, and p.E411K) pathogenic mutations. All patients were compound heterozygotes, and each mutation was identified in a single patient. Pathogenicity of newly identified mutations was validated using computational programs. Among them, the p.M167T is believed to influence FAD binding, as the position 167 is present in one of the FAD-binding sites. Our results have illustrated the heterogeneous mutation spectrum and clinical presentation of IVA in the Japanese patients.
Dysmenorrhea is a common menstrual disorder experienced by adolescents, and its major symptoms, including pain, adversely affect daily life and school performance. However, little epidemiologic evidence on dysmenorrhea in Japanese adolescents exists. This cross-sectional study aimed to determine the prevalence of and identify factors associated with dysmenorrhea in Japanese female junior high school students. Among 1,167 girls aged between 12 and 15 years, 1,018 participants completed a questionnaire that solicited information on age at menarche, menstruation, and lifestyle, as well as demographic characteristics. Dysmenorrhea was defined based on menstrual pain using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS), with moderate or severe (moderate-severe) dysmenorrhea, which adversely affects daily life, defined as VAS ≥ 4, and severe dysmenorrhea defined as VAS ≥ 7. The prevalence of moderate-severe dysmenorrhea was 476/1,018 (46.8%), and that of severe dysmenorrhea was 180/1,018 (17.7%). Higher chronological and gynecological ages (years after menarche) were significantly associated with a higher prevalence of dysmenorrhea regardless of severity (P for trend < 0.001). In addition, short sleeping hours (< 6/day) were associated with moderate-severe dysmenorrhea (OR = 3.05, 95%CI: 1.06-8.77), and sports activity levels were associated with severe dysmenorrhea (P for trend = 0.045). Our findings suggest that dysmenorrhea that adversely affects daily activities is highly prevalent, and may be associated with certain lifestyle factors in junior high school students. Health education teachers should be made aware of these facts, and appropriately care for those suffering from dysmenorrhea symptoms, absentees, and those experiencing difficulties in school life due to dysmenorrhea symptoms.
On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake devastated the Tohoku region, which led to a tsunami and a nuclear disaster. While these three disasters caused tremendous physical damage, their psychological impact remains unclear. The present study evaluated traumatic responses, internalizing (i.e., anxiety and depression), and externalizing (i.e., anger) symptoms among Japanese young people in the immediate aftermath and 2.5 years later. A total of 435 undergraduates were recruited from universities in three differentially exposed regions: Fukushima, Tokyo, and Kyoto. They completed a set of questionnaires retrospectively (i.e., September to December 2013) to measure their traumatic responses, anxiety and depressive symptoms, functional impairment, and anger immediately after the disaster and 2.5 years later. Participants in Tokyo had the highest level of traumatic response and internalizing symptoms immediately after the earthquake, whereas those in Fukushima had significantly higher levels of trait anger, anger-in (holding one’s anger in), and anger-out (expressing one’s anger externally). In Kyoto, the levels of anxiety and depression after 2.5 years were significantly higher than they were immediately after the disasters. In conclusion, anger symptoms were high among young people who lived at or near the center of the disasters, while anxiety and depression were high among those who lived far away from the disasters. These findings suggest the importance of providing mental health services to young people who did not live near the disaster area as well as to those living in the directly affected area.
Residents of areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake may suffer from diseases or health problems. We are conducting a cross-sectional study from 2012 to 2015 to investigate and address the health needs of schoolchildren affected by this disaster. In this paper, we describe the protocol and research perspectives of our long-term child health study, and present the results obtained immediately after the disaster. The parent-administered questionnaire includes the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire for asthma and eczema symptoms, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and a questionnaire on influenza infection and vaccination status. In 2012, we distributed the questionnaire to 3,505 (2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th graders) in three municipalities located in southern coastal area among the 28 municipalities, and 1,277 (36.4%) returned the completed questionnaire. Mean age was 11.1 ± 2.2 years old. The number of children with symptoms of wheeze and eczema in the past 12 months was 146 (11.4%) and 199 (15.6%), respectively. The SDQ total difficulties score revealed 174 (13.6%) children with some form of difficulty in their daily lives. From May 2011 to April 2012, 195 (15.3%) and 649 (50.8%) children received the influenza vaccination once and twice, respectively, and 532 (41.7%) had suffered from influenza. The prevalence of eczema symptoms or some form of difficulty was higher than the Japanese average. However, careful interpretation was required because of potential self-selection bias from the low response rate. We will continue this study of schoolchildren to provide aggregate findings.
Infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a worldwide health problem, and DNA-based vaccines against HBV have been tested for therapeutic applications. HBV possesses three envelope lipoproteins that are translated from a single reading-frame: large, middle, and small HBV surface antigens. Among these envelope proteins, the middle HBV surface antigen (MHBs) contains a constitutive N-linked glycosylation site at position 4 (Asn4) in the amino-terminal portion (MQWNSTTFHQ) of pre-S2 domain. Asn4 (shown in bold) is essential for secretion of viral particles and conserved among all serotypes of HBV, but its influence on the immunogenicity of MHBs remains unknown. Here, we constructed four MHBs genes carrying mutations, underlined, in the amino-terminal portion of pre-S2 domain. One mutant protein contains Q at position 4 (MQWQSTTFHQ). In addition, each of three mutant MHBs proteins contains a N-linked glycosylation site (N-X-S/T), relocated to position 5 (MQWQNTTFHQ), 6 (MQWQSNTSHQ) or 7 (MQWQSTNFTQ) in pre-S2 domain. The expression and immunogenic properties of mutant DNA vaccines were examined in 293T human renal epithelial cells and in BALB/c mice, respectively. We showed that Asn4 was critical for secretion and immunogenicity of MHBs. Moreover, the MHBs protein that carries a N-linked glycosylation site at position 5 or 7 retained the properties similar to wild-type MHBs. In contrast, the secretion-defective mutant protein carrying Asn at position 6 induced only marginal humoral and cellular immune responses in mice, despite the N-linked glycosylation. In conclusion, N-linked glycosylation at an appropriate position in pre-S2 domain is an essential requirement for DNA vaccine expressing MHBs.
CD4+ T helper cells (TH cells), such as TH1, TH2, TH17, TFH, and Treg cells, play critical roles in host defense against infection and in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated diseases. Antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells, deliver three kinds of signals essential for the activation, differentiation, and survival of naïve CD4+ T cells: the first signal is transmitted through T-cell receptors (TCRs) providing the specificity of the immune response and initiating the earliest signals leading to T-cell activation, the second signal through costimulatory receptors promoting the survival and clonal expansion of the antigen-primed T cells, and the third signal through cytokine receptors directing the differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into the various TH subsets. Tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)-associated factors (TRAFs), which are composed of six TRAF proteins (TRAF1-TRAF6) with a conserved C-terminal TRAF domain, are intracellular signaling adaptors that mediate the link between receptor-proximal activation events and intracellular signaling proteins. There is growing evidence that TRAFs recruited to TCRs, costimulatory TNFRs, and cytokine receptors play crucial roles in key signaling events in CD4+ T cells and control the lineage commitment, functionality, and life-and-death decisions of different TH subsets. In this review, we summarize the TRAFs’ physiological functions in T-cell immunity and the molecular mechanisms by which TRAFs regulate the three signals required for the activation, differentiation, and survival of CD4+ T cells and other T-cell subsets.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a life-threatening disease that is characterized by elevated pulmonary blood pressure, abnormally thickened pulmonary arteries, and right ventricular hypertrophy. Monocrotaline (MCT) has been used to generate an experimental model of PH in rats, with PH initiated from injuries of lung vascular endothelium. Salvia Miltiorrhiza Bge.f.alba is a widely used traditional herb in China, known to exert protective effects on vascular endothelial cell injury in animal experiments. However, the role of Salvia Miltiorrhiza Bge.f.alba in PH remains unclear. Thus, we investigated the effects of the aqueous extract of Salvia Miltiorrhiza Bge.f.alba (AESM) on MCT-induced PH and explored the pertinent mechanism. PH was induced in rats by a single subcutaneous injection of MCT (60 mg/kg body weight). Low or high dose (4.6 g/kg or 14 g/kg body weight) of AESM was then administered orally for 21 days to PH rats. Hemodynamic study showed that AESM reduced mean pulmonary artery pressure and improved right ventricle function. Lung pathological analysis revealed that AESM reduced wall thickness and lumen stenosis of pulmonary vessels. Also AESM ameliorated right ventricular hypertrophy. Measurement of biochemical parameters indicated that AESM decreased endothelin-1 and thromboxane A2 in plasma and increased nitrogen monoxide and prostacyclin in the plasma and reduced the increase of transforming growth factor β1 in lung tissue. Our results suggest that AESM may ameliorate the progression of MCT-induced PH in rats, at least in part by its protective effect on endothelial injury. Therefore, Salvia Miltiorrhiza Bge.f.alba could be useful in the treatment of PH.