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  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yuntao Zhang, Yunkai Yang, Niu Qiao, Xuewei Wang, Ling Ding, Xiujuan Zhu, Yu Liang, Zibo Han, Feng Liu, Xinxin Zhang, Xiaoming Yang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(1): 93-101. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0914-x

    Inducing durable and effective immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) via vaccination is essential to combat the current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It has been noticed that the strength of anti-COVID-19 vaccination-induced immunity fades over time, which calls for an additional vaccination regime, as known as booster immunization, to restore immunity among previously vaccinated populations. Here we report a pilot open-label trial of a third dose of BBIBP-CorV, an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (Vero cell), on 136 participants aged between 18 to 63 years. Safety and immunogenicity in terms of neutralizing antibody titers and cytokine/chemokine responses were analyzed as the main endpoint until day 28. While systemic reactogenicity was either absent or mild, SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing antibody titers rapidly arose in all participants within 4 weeks, surpassing the peak antibody titers elicited by the initial two-dose immunization regime. Broad increases of cellular immunity-associated cytokines and chemokines were also detected in the majority of participants after the third vaccination. Furthermore, in an exploratory study, a newly developed recombinant protein vaccine, NVSI-06-08 (CHO Cells), was found to be safe and even more effective than BBIBP-CorV in eliciting humoral immune responses in BBIBP-CorV-primed individuals. Together, these results indicate that a third immunization schedule with either homologous or heterologous vaccine showed favorable safety profiles and restored potent SARS-CoV-2-specific immunity, providing support for further trials of booster vaccination in larger populations.

  • REVIEW
    Miaojin Zhu, Jia Ji, Danrong Shi, Xiangyun Lu, Baohong Wang, Nanping Wu, Jie Wu, Hangping Yao, Lanjuan Li
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(4): 507-517. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0952-z

    Recently, monkeypox has become a global concern amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Monkeypox is an acute rash zoonosis caused by the monkeypox virus, which was previously concentrated in Africa. The re-emergence of this pathogen seems unusual on account of outbreaks in multiple nonendemic countries and the incline to spread from person to person. We need to revisit this virus to prevent the epidemic from getting worse. In this review, we comprehensively summarize studies on monkeypox, including its epidemiology, biological characteristics, pathogenesis, and clinical characteristics, as well as therapeutics and vaccines, highlighting its unusual outbreak attributed to the transformation of transmission. We also analyze the present situation and put forward countermeasures from both clinical and scientific research to address it.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Wei Zhang, Xiaoguang Xu, Ziyu Fu, Jian Chen, Saijuan Chen, Yun Tan
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 251-262. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0915-9

    Pathogenic microbes can induce cellular dysfunction, immune response, and cause infectious disease and other diseases including cancers. However, the cellular distributions of pathogens and their impact on host cells remain rarely explored due to the limited methods. Taking advantage of single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) analysis, we can assess the transcriptomic features at the single-cell level. Still, the tools used to interpret pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi) at the single-cell level remain to be explored. Here, we introduced PathogenTrack, a python-based computational pipeline that uses unmapped scRNA-seq data to identify intracellular pathogens at the single-cell level. In addition, we established an R package named Yeskit to import, integrate, analyze, and interpret pathogen abundance and transcriptomic features in host cells. Robustness of these tools has been tested on various real and simulated scRNA-seq datasets. PathogenTrack is competitive to the state-of-the-art tools such as Viral-Track, and the first tools for identifying bacteria at the single-cell level. Using the raw data of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples (BALF) from COVID-19 patients in the SRA database, we found the SARS-CoV-2 virus exists in multiple cell types including epithelial cells and macrophages. SARS-CoV-2-positive neutrophils showed increased expression of genes related to type I interferon pathway and antigen presenting module. Additionally, we observed the Haemophilus parahaemolyticus in some macrophage and epithelial cells, indicating a co-infection of the bacterium in some severe cases of COVID-19. The PathogenTrack pipeline and the Yeskit package are publicly available at GitHub.

  • REVIEW
    Yves Ingenbleek
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(4): 540-550. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0940-3

    Transthyretin (TTR) is a small liver-secreted plasma protein that shows close correlations with changes in lean body mass (LBM) during the entire human lifespan and agglomerates the bulk of nitrogen (N)-containing substrates, hence constituting the cornerstone of body building. Amino acids (AAs) dietary restriction causes inhibition of TTR production and impairs the accretion of LBM reserves. Inflammatory disorders result in cytokine-induced abrogation of TTR synthesis and urinary leakage of nitrogenous catabolites. Taken together, the data indicate that malnutrition and inflammation may similarly suppress the production of TTR through distinct and unrelated pathophysiological mechanisms while operating in concert to downsize LBM stores. The hepatic synthesis of TTR integrates both machineries, acting as a marker of reduced LBM resources still available for defense and repair processes. TTR operates as a universal surrogate analyte that allows for the grading of residual LBM capacity to reflect disease burden. Measurement of TTR is a simple, rapid, and inexpensive micro-method that may be reproduced on a daily basis, hence ideally suited for the follow-up of the most intricated clinical situations and as a reliable predictor of any morbidity outcome.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Shoubin Zhan, Ping Yang, Shengkai Zhou, Ye Xu, Rui Xu, Gaoli Liang, Chenyu Zhang, Xi Chen, Liuqing Yang, Fangfang Jin, Yanbo Wang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 216-226. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0920-7

    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which makes up the majority of liver cancer, is induced by the infection of hepatitis B/C virus. Biomarkers are needed to facilitate the early detection of HCC, which is often diagnosed too late for effective therapy. The tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) play vital roles in tumorigenesis and are stable in circulation. However, the diagnostic values and biological functions of circulating tsRNAs, especially for HCC, are still unknown. In this study, we first utilized RNA sequencing followed by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR to analyze tsRNA signatures in HCC serum. We identified tRF-Gln-TTG-006, which was remarkably upregulated in HCC serum (training cohort: 24 HCC patients vs. 24 healthy controls). In the validation stage, we found that tRF-Gln-TTG-006 signature could distinguish HCC cases from healthy subjects with high sensitivity (80.4%) and specificity (79.4%) even in the early stage (Stage I: sensitivity, 79.0%; specificity, 74.8%; 155 healthy controls vs. 153 HCC patients from two cohorts). Moreover, in vitro studies indicated that circulating tRF-Gln-TTG-006 was released from tumor cells, and its biological function was predicted by bioinformatics assay and validated by colony formation and apoptosis assays. In summary, our study demonstrated that serum tsRNA signature may serve as a novel biomarker of HCC.

  • REVIEW
    Hongyun Zhao, Fan Luo, Jinhui Xue, Su Li, Rui-Hua Xu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 805-828. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0886-x

    Immunotherapy plays a compelling role in cancer treatment and has already made remarkable progress. However, many patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors fail to achieve clinical benefits, and the response rates vary among tumor types. New approaches that promote anti-tumor immunity have recently been developed, such as small molecules, bispecific antibodies, chimeric antigen receptor T cell products, and cancer vaccines. Small molecule drugs include agonists and inhibitors that can reach the intracellular or extracellular targets of immune cells participating in innate or adaptive immune pathways. Bispecific antibodies, which bind two different antigens or one antigen with two different epitopes, are of great interest. Chimeric antigen receptor T cell products and cancer vaccines have also been investigated. This review explores the recent progress and challenges of different forms of immunotherapy agents and provides an insight into future immunotherapeutic strategies.

  • REVIEW
    Yiming Shao, Yingqi Wu, Yi Feng, Wenxin Xu, Feng Xiong, Xinxin Zhang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 0: 185-195. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0913-y

    The record speed at which Chinese scientists identified severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and shared its genomic sequence with the world, has greatly facilitated the development of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines. It is unprecedented in pandemic control history to develop a dozen successful vaccines in the first year and to immunize over half of the global population in the second year, due to the efforts of the scientific community, biopharmaceutical industry, and regulatory agencies worldwide. The challenges are both great and multidimensional due to the rapid emergence of virus variants and waning of vaccine immunity. Vaccination strategies need to adapt to these challenges to keep population immunity above the herd immunity threshold, by increasing vaccine coverage, especially for older adults and young people, and providing timely booster doses with homologous or heterologous vaccine boosts. Further research should be undertaken to develop more effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 variants and to understand the best prime-boost vaccine combinations and immunization strategies to provide sufficient and sustainable immune protection against COVID-19.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Xiaoguang Xu, Wei Zhang, Mingquan Guo, Chenlu Xiao, Ziyu Fu, Shuting Yu, Lu Jiang, Shengyue Wang, Yun Ling, Feng Liu, Yun Tan, Saijuan Chen
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 263-275. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-022-0921-6

    Emerging evidence indicates that the gut microbiome contributes to the host immune response to infectious diseases. Here, to explore the role of the gut microbiome in the host immune responses in COVID-19, we conducted shotgun metagenomic sequencing and immune profiling of 14 severe/critical and 24 mild/moderate COVID-19 cases as well as 31 healthy control samples. We found that the diversity of the gut microbiome was reduced in severe/critical COVID-19 cases compared to mild/moderate ones. We identified the abundance of some gut microbes altered post-SARS-CoV-2 infection and related to disease severity, such as Enterococcus faecium, Coprococcus comes, Roseburia intestinalis, Akkermansia muciniphila, Bacteroides cellulosilyticus and Blautia obeum. We further analyzed the correlation between the abundance of gut microbes and host responses, and obtained a correlation map between clinical features of COVID-19 and 16 severity-related gut microbe, including Coprococcus comes that was positively correlated with CD3+/CD4+/CD8+ lymphocyte counts. In addition, an integrative analysis of gut microbiome and the transcriptome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) showed that genes related to viral transcription and apoptosis were up-regulated in Coprococcus comes low samples. Moreover, a number of metabolic pathways in gut microbes were also found to be differentially enriched in severe/critical or mild/moderate COVID-19 cases, including the superpathways of polyamine biosynthesis II and sulfur oxidation that were suppressed in severe/critical COVID-19. Together, our study highlighted a potential regulatory role of severity related gut microbes in the immune response of host.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Yulan Chen, Dianfu Chen, Shaoyun Zhao, Gonglu Liu, Hongfu Li, Zhi-Ying Wu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 877-886. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0863-4

    Proline-rich transmembrane protein 2 (PRRT2) is the leading cause of paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia (PKD), benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE), and infantile convulsions with choreoathetosis (ICCA). Reduced penetrance of PRRT2 has been observed in previous studies, whereas the exact penetrance has not been evaluated well. The objective of this study was to estimate the penetrance of PRRT2 and determine its influencing factors. We screened 222 PKD index patients and their available relatives, identified 39 families with pathogenic or likely pathogenic (P/LP) PRRT2 variants via Sanger sequencing, and obtained 184 PKD/BFIE/ICCA families with P/LP PRRT2 variants from the literature. Penetrance was estimated as the proportion of affected variant carriers. PRRT2 penetrance estimate was 77.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) 74.5%–80.7%) in relatives and 74.5% (95% CI 70.2%–78.8%) in obligate carriers. In addition, we first observed that penetrance was higher in truncated than in non-truncated variants (75.8% versus 50.0%, P = 0.01), higher in Asian than in Caucasian carriers (81.5% versus 68.5%, P = 0.004), and exhibited no difference in gender or parental transmission. Our results are meaningful for genetic counseling, implying that approximately three-quarters of PRRT2 variant carriers will develop PRRT2-related disorders, with patients from Asia or carrying truncated variants at a higher risk.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Lei Fan, Li Wang, Lei Cao, Huayuan Zhu, Wei Xu, Jianyong Li
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 285-294. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0843-8

    Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy has shown impressive efficacy in treating B-cell malignancies. A single-center phase I dose-escalation study was conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of T cells transduced with CBM.CD19 CAR, a second-generation anti-CD19 CAR bearing 4-1BB costimulatory molecule, for the treatment of patients with refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Ten heavily treated patients with refractory DLBCL were given CBM.CD19 CAR-T cell (C-CAR011) treatment. The overall response rate was 20% and 50% at 4 and 12 weeks after the infusion of C-CAR011, respectively, and the disease control rate was 60% at 12 weeks after infusion. Treatment-emergent adverse events occurred in all patients. The incidence of cytokine release syndrome in all grades and grade≥3 was 90% and 0, respectively, which is consistent with the safety profile of axicabtagene ciloleucel and tisagenlecleucel. Neurotoxicity or other dose-limiting toxicities was not observed in any dose cohort of C-CAR011 therapy. Antitumor efficacy was apparent across dose cohorts. Therefore, C-CAR011 is a safe and effective therapeutic option for Chinese patients with refractory DLBCL, and further large-scale clinical trials are warranted.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Jingming Li, Wen Jin, Yun Tan, Beichen Wang, Xiaoling Wang, Ming Zhao, Kankan Wang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(4): 627-636. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-020-0815-4

    Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) is an essential regulator of normal hematopoiesis. Its dysfunction, caused by either fusions or mutations, is frequently reported in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, RUNX1 mutations have been largely under-explored compared with RUNX1 fusions mainly due to their elusive genetic characteristics. Here, based on 1741 patients with AML, we report a unique expression pattern associated with RUNX1 mutations in AML. This expression pattern was coordinated by target repression and promoter hypermethylation. We first reanalyzed a joint AML cohort that consisted of three public cohorts and found that RUNX1 mutations were mainly distributed in the Runt domain and almost mutually exclusive with NPM1 mutations. Then, based on RNA-seq data from The Cancer Genome Atlas AML cohort, we developed a 300-gene signature that significantly distinguished the patients with RUNX1 mutations from those with other AML subtypes. Furthermore, we explored the mechanisms underlying this signature from the transcriptional and epigenetic levels. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing data, we found that RUNX1 target genes tended to be repressed in patients with RUNX1 mutations. Through the integration of DNA methylation array data, we illustrated that hypermethylation on the promoter regions of RUNX1-regulated genes also contributed to dysregulation in RUNX1-mutated AML. This study revealed the distinct gene expression pattern of RUNX1 mutations and the underlying mechanisms in AML development.

  • REVIEW
    Yang Liao, Qu Xing, Qianqian Li, Jing Zhang, Ruiyuan Pan, Zengqiang Yuan
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 829-841. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0875-0

    Astrocytes are an abundant subgroup of cells in the central nervous system (CNS) that play a critical role in controlling neuronal circuits involved in emotion, learning, and memory. In clinical cases, multiple chronic brain diseases may cause psychosocial and cognitive impairment, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). For years, complex pathological conditions driven by depression and AD have been widely perceived to contribute to a high risk of disability, resulting in gradual loss of self-care ability, lower life qualities, and vast burden on human society. Interestingly, correlational research on depression and AD has shown that depression might be a prodrome of progressive degenerative neurological disease. As a kind of multifunctional glial cell in the CNS, astrocytes maintain physiological function via supporting neuronal cells, modulating pathologic niche, and regulating energy metabolism. Mounting evidence has shown that astrocytic dysfunction is involved in the progression of depression and AD. We herein review the current findings on the roles and mechanisms of astrocytes in the development of depression and AD, with an implication of potential therapeutic avenue for these diseases by targeting astrocytes.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Ming Hou, Suji Wang, Dandan Yu, Xinyi Lu, Xiansen Zhao, Zhangpeng Chen, Chao Yan
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 227-239. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0896-8

    Chronic stress impairs radial neural stem cell (rNSC) differentiation and adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN), whereas promoting AHN can increase stress resilience against depression. Therefore, investigating the mechanism of neural differentiation and AHN is of great importance for developing antidepressant drugs. The nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to be effective against depression. However, whether CBD can modulate rNSC differentiation and hippocampal neurogenesis is unknown. Here, by using the chronic restraint stress (CRS) mouse model, we showed that hippocampal rNSCs mostly differentiated into astrocytes under stress conditions. Moreover, transcriptome analysis revealed that the FoxO signaling pathway was involved in the regulation of this process. The administration of CBD rescued depressive-like symptoms in CRS mice and prevented rNSCs overactivation and differentiation into astrocyte, which was partly mediated by the modulation of the FoxO signaling pathway. These results revealed a previously unknown neural mechanism for neural differentiation and AHN in depression and provided mechanistic insights into the antidepressive effects of CBD.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Wenjun Tu, Feng Yan, Baohua Chao, Xunming Ji, Longde Wang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 0: 903-912. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0871-4

    A nationwide survey was conducted from October 2018 to September 2019 to assess the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia (Hhcy) and its influencing factors in China. A standardized questionnaire was used to collect information. Hhcy was defined as the level of serum homocysteine (HCY) 15.0 µmol/L. The H-type hypertension (HHYP) was defined as hypertension with an elevated serum HCY (15.0 µmol/L). Finally, 110 551 residents 40 years of age from 31 provinces in the mainland of China were included. Overall, the median serum HCY level was 10.9 µmol/L (interquartile range 7.9–15.1). A total of 28 633 participants (25.9%) were defined as Hhcy. The Hhcy prevalence ranged from 7.9% in Shanghai to 56.8% in Tianjin. The data showed that serum HCY levels were associated with age, male gender, cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes, ethnicity, endurance in exercise (inverse), and fruit and vegetable intake (inverse). In addition, 15 486 participants were defined as HHYP, and the rate was 14.0%. HHYP was an independent predictor of stroke with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.752 (95% CI 1.338–2.105). The geographical distribution pattern of the Hhcy epidemic reflects dynamic differences, and national strategies should be carried out to further improve the care of patients with Hhcy across China.

  • REVIEW
    Chuanqi Liu, Ming Pei, Qingfeng Li, Yuanyuan Zhang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(1): 56-82. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0900-3

    Contributing to organ formation and tissue regeneration, extracellular matrix (ECM) constituents provide tissue with three-dimensional (3D) structural integrity and cellular-function regulation. Containing the crucial traits of the cellular microenvironment, ECM substitutes mediate cell–matrix interactions to prompt stem-cell proliferation and differentiation for 3D organoid construction in vitro or tissue regeneration in vivo. However, these ECMs are often applied generically and have yet to be extensively developed for specific cell types in 3D cultures. Cultured cells also produce rich ECM, particularly stromal cells. Cellular ECM improves 3D culture development in vitro and tissue remodeling during wound healing after implantation into the host as well. Gaining better insight into ECM derived from either tissue or cells that regulate 3D tissue reconstruction or organ regeneration helps us to select, produce, and implant the most suitable ECM and thus promote 3D organoid culture and tissue remodeling for in vivo regeneration. Overall, the decellularization methodologies and tissue/cell-derived ECM as scaffolds or cellular-growth supplements used in cell propagation and differentiation for 3D tissue culture in vitro are discussed. Moreover, current preclinical applications by which ECM components modulate the wound-healing process are reviewed.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Chen Zhang, Jiandong Zhang, Fan Liang, Han Guo, Sanhui Gao, Fuying Yang, Hua Guo, Guizhen Wang, Wei Wang, Guangbiao Zhou
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(4): 596-609. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0868-z

    Sialic acid binding Ig-like lectin 10 (Siglec10) is a member of innate immune checkpoints that inhibits the activation of immune cells through the interaction with its ligand CD24 on tumor cells. Here, by analyzing public databases containing 64 517 patients of 33 cancer types, we found that the expression of Siglec10 was altered in 18 types of cancers and was associated with the clinical outcomes of 11 cancer types. In particular, Siglec10 was upregulated in patients with kidney renal clear cell carcinoma (KIRC) and was inversely associated with the prognosis of the patients. In 131 KIRC patients of our settings, Siglec10 was elevated in the tumor tissues of 83 (63.4%) patients compared with that in their counterpart normal kidney tissues. Moreover, higher level of Siglec10 was associated with advanced disease (stages III and IV) and worse prognosis. Silencing of CD24 in KIRC cells significantly increased the number of Siglec10-expressing macrophages phagocytosing KIRC cells. In addition, luciferase activity assays suggested that Siglec10 was a potential target of the transcription factors c-FOS and GATA1, which were identified by data mining. These results demonstrate that Siglec10 may have important oncogenic functions in KIRC, and represents a novel target for the development of immunotherapies.

  • REVIEW
    Ying Deng, Zhaowei Sun, Lei Wang, Minghui Wang, Jie Yang, Genxi Li
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 157-175. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0884-z

    Cancer imposes a severe threat to people’s health and lives, thus pressing a huge medical and economic burden on individuals and communities. Therefore, early diagnosis of cancer is indispensable in the timely prevention and effective treatment for patients. Exosome has recently become an attractive cancer biomarker in noninvasive early diagnosis because of the unique physiology and pathology functions, which reflects remarkable information regarding the cancer microenvironment, and plays an important role in the occurrence and evolution of cancer. Meanwhile, biosensors have gained great attention for the detection of exosomes due to their superior properties, such as convenient operation, real-time readout, high sensitivity, and remarkable specificity, suggesting promising biomedical applications in the early diagnosis of cancer. In this review, the latest advances of biosensors regarding the assay of exosomes were summarized, and the superiorities of exosomes as markers for the early diagnosis of cancer were evaluated. Moreover, the recent challenges and further opportunities of developing effective biosensors for the early diagnosis of cancer were discussed.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Sisi Wang, Lijun Peng, Wenqian Xu, Yuebo Zhou, Ziyan Zhu, Yushan Kong, Stewart Leung, Jin Wang, Xiaoqiang Yan, Jian-Qing Mi
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(1): 139-149. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0835-8

    The CD19-targeting bispecific T-cell engager blinatumomab has shown remarkable efficacy in patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. However, several studies showed that blinatumomab has a short plasma half-life due to its low molecular weight, and thus its clinical use is limited. Furthermore, multiple trials have shown that approximately 30% of blinatumomab-relapsed cases are characterized by CD19 negative leukemic cells. Here, we design and characterize two novel antibodies, A-319 and A-2019. Blinatumomab and A-319 are CD3/CD19 bispecific antibodies with different molecular sizes and structures, and A-2019 is a novel CD3/CD19/CD20 trispecific antibody with an additional anti-CD20 function. Our in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo experiments demonstrated that A-319 and A-2019 are potent antitumor agents and capable of recruiting CD3 positive T cells, enhancing T-cell function, mediating B-cell depletion, and eventually inhibiting tumor growth in Raji xenograft models. The two molecules are complementary in terms of efficacy and specificity profile. The activity of A-319 demonstrated superior to that of A-2019, whereas A-2019 has an additional capability to target CD20 in cells missing CD19, suggesting its potential function against CD19 weak or negative CD20 positive leukemic cells.

  • REVIEW
    Hongze Zhang, Xunjia Cheng
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 842-866. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0865-2

    Among various genera of free-living amoebae prevalent in nature, some members are identified as causative agents of human encephalitis, in which Naegleria fowleri followed by Acanthamoeba spp. and Balamuthia mandrillaris have been successively discovered. As the three dominant genera responsible for infections, Acanthamoeba and Balamuthia work as opportunistic pathogens of granulomatous amoebic encephalitis in immunocompetent and immunocompromised individuals, whereas Naegleria induces primary amoebic meningoencephalitis mostly in healthy children and young adults as a more violent and deadly disease. Due to the lack of typical symptoms and laboratory findings, all these amoebic encephalitic diseases are difficult to diagnose. Considering that subsequent therapies are also affected, all these brain infections cause significant mortality worldwide, with more than 90% of the cases being fatal. Along with global warming and population explosion, expanding areas of human and amoebae activity in some regions lead to increased contact, resulting in more serious infections and drawing increased public attention. In this review, we summarize the present information of these pathogenic free-living amoebae, including their phylogeny, classification, biology, and ecology. The mechanisms of pathogenesis, immunology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, epidemiology, diagnosis, and therapies are also discussed.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Wenjing Zhou, Jing Zhang, Mingkun Yan, Jin Wu, Shuo Lian, Kang Sun, Baiqing Li, Jia Ma, Jun Xia, Chaoqun Lian
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 922-932. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-020-0804-7

    Aberrant de novo lipid synthesis is involved in the progression and treatment resistance of many types of cancers, including lung cancer; however, targeting the lipogenetic pathways for cancer therapy remains an unmet clinical need. In this study, we tested the anticancer activity of orlistat, an FDA-approved anti-obesity drug, in human and mouse cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, and we found that orlistat, as a single agent, inhibited the proliferation and viabilities of lung cancer cells and induced ferroptosis-like cell death in vitro. Mechanistically, we found that orlistat reduced the expression of GPX4, a central ferroptosis regulator, and induced lipid peroxidation. In addition, we systemically analyzed the genome-wide gene expression changes affected by orlistat treatment using RNA-seq and identified FAF2, a molecule regulating the lipid droplet homeostasis, as a novel target of orlistat. Moreover, in a mouse xenograft model, orlistat significantly inhibited tumor growth and reduced the tumor volumes compared with vehicle control (P<0.05). Our study showed a novel mechanism of the anticancer activity of orlistat and provided the rationale for repurposing this drug for the treatment of lung cancer and other types of cancer.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Zheng Zhang, Lu Liu, Yanyun Shen, Ziyuan Meng, Min Chen, Zhong Lu, Xuejun Zhang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(3): 483-495. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0872-3

    The pathological hallmarks of psoriasis involve alterations in T cell genes associated with transcriptional levels, which are determined by chromatin accessibility. However, to what extent these alterations in T cell transcriptional levels recapitulate the epigenetic features of psoriasis remains unknown. Here, we systematically profiled chromatin accessibility on Th1, Th2, Th1-17, Th17, and Treg cells and found that chromatin remodeling contributes significantly to the pathogenesis of the disease. The chromatin remodeling tendency of different subtypes of Th cells were relatively consistent. Next, we profiled chromatin accessibility and transcriptional dynamics on memory Th/Treg cells. In the memory Th cells, 803 increased and 545 decreased chromatin-accessible regions were identified. In the memory Treg cells, 713 increased and 1206 decreased chromatin-accessible regions were identified. A total of 54 and 53 genes were differentially expressed in the peaks associated with the memory Th and Treg cells. FOSL1, SPI1, ATF3, NFKB1, RUNX, ETV4, ERG, FLI1, and ETC1 were identified as regulators in the development of psoriasis. The transcriptional regulatory network showed that NFKB1 and RELA were highly connected and central to the network. NFKB1 regulated the genes of CCL3, CXCL2, and IL1RN. Our results provided candidate transcription factors and a foundational framework of the regulomes of the disease.

  • REVIEW
    Jianqing Mi, Jie Xu, Jianfeng Zhou, Weili Zhao, Zhu Chen, J. Joseph Melenhorst, Saijuan Chen
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 783-804. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0904-z

    The current standard of care in hematological malignancies has brought considerable clinical benefits to patients. However, important bottlenecks still limit optimal achievements following a current medical practice. The genetic complexity of the diseases and the heterogeneity of tumor clones cause difficulty in ensuring long-term efficacy of conventional treatments for most hematological disorders. Consequently, new treatment strategies are necessary to improve clinical outcomes. Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) immunotherapy opens a new path for targeted therapy of hematological malignancies. In this review, through a representative case study, we summarize the current experience of CAR T-cell therapy, the management of common side effects, the causative mechanisms of therapy resistance, and new strategies to improve the efficacy of CAR T-cell therapy.

  • CASE REPORT
    Chun Bian, Xinyue Zhao, Yaping Liu, Minjiang Chen, Shuying Zheng, Xinlun Tian, Kai-Feng Xu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 933-937. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0860-7

    Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic disease in which the lungs are rarely involved. However, in NF cases with lung involvement, chest computed tomography may show bilateral basal reticulations, apical bullae, and cysts without bronchiectasis. Herein, we report a patient diagnosed with NF on the basis of the results of genetic testing who presented with early-onset wet cough and bronchiectasis. Considering the differential diagnosis of bronchiectasis combined with his early-onset wet cough, sinusitis, and sperm quality decline, we considered the possibility of primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Further electron microscopy analysis of cilia and identification of homozygous mutations in the RSPH4A gene confirmed the diagnosis of PCD. Therefore, for patients with NF, when an image change exists in the lungs that does not correspond to NF, the possibility of other diagnoses, including PCD, must be considered.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Jun Wang, Wenshuai Xu, Xinlun Tian, Yanli Yang, Shao-Ting Wang, Kai-Feng Xu
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(4): 574-583. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0882-1

    The effect of air pollution on the lung function of adults with asthma remains unclear to date. This study followed 112 patients with asthma at 3-month intervals for 2 years. The pollutant exposure of the participants was estimated using the inverse distance weight method. The participants were divided into three groups according to their lung function level at every visit. A linear mixed-effect model was applied to predict the change in lung function with each unit change in pollution concentration. Exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) and particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) was negatively associated with large airway function in participants. In the severe group, exposure to chronic sulfur dioxide (SO2) was negatively associated with post-bronchodilator forced expiratory flow at 50%, between 25% and 75% of vital capacity % predicted (change of 95% CI per unit: –0.34 (–0.55, –0.12), –0.24 (–0.44, –0.03), respectively). In the mild group, the effect of SO2 on the small airways was similar to that in the severe group, and it was negatively associated with large airway function. Exposure to CO and PM2.5 was negatively associated with the large airway function of adults with asthma. The negative effects of SO2 were more evident and widely observed in adults with severe and mild asthma than in adults with moderate asthma. Patients with asthma react differently to air pollutants as evidenced by their lung function levels.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Chao Lu, Kailiang Wang, Fei Meng, Yihe Wang, Yongzhi Shan, Penghu Wei, Guoguang Zhao
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 913-921. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0874-1

    Epileptogenic hypothalamic hamartoma is characterized by intractable gelastic seizures. A systematic analysis of the overall brain metabolic pattern in patients with hypothalamic hamartoma (HH) could facilitate the understanding of the epileptic brain network and the associated brain damage effects of HH. In this study, we retrospectively evaluated 27 patients with epileptogenic HH (8 female patients; age, 2–33 years) by using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography. The correlations among tomography result, seizure type, sex, and structural magnetic resonance imaging were assessed. Whole metabolic patterns and voxel-based morphometry findings were assessed by group analysis with healthy controls. Assessment of the whole metabolic pattern in patients with HH revealed several regional metabolic reductions in the cerebrum and an overall metabolic reduction in the cerebellum. In addition, areas showing hypometabolism in the neocortex were more widely distributed ipsilaterally than contralaterally to the HH. Reductions in glucose metabolism and gray matter volume in the neocortex were predominant ipsilateral to the HH. In conclusion, the glucose hypometabolism pattern in patients with epileptogenic HH involved the neocortex, subcortical regions, and cerebellum. The characteristics of glucose hypometabolism differed across seizure type and sex. Reductions in glucose metabolism and structural changes may be based on different mechanisms, but both are likely to occur ipsilateral to the HH in the neocortex. We hypothesized that the dentato-rubro-thalamic tract and cerebro-ponto-cerebellar tract, which are responsible for intercommunication between the cerebral cortex, subcortical regions, and cerebellar regions, may be involved in a pathway related to seizure propagation, particularly gelastic seizures, in patients with HH.

  • COMMENT
    Prathit A. Kulkarni, Vinay Prasad
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 938-941. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0895-9
  • REVIEW
    Xin Yin, Azhar Anwar, Yanbo Wang, Huanhuan Hu, Gaoli Liang, Chenyu Zhang
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(2): 176-184. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0885-y

    Studies of human and mammalian have revealed that environmental exposure can affect paternal health conditions as well as those of the offspring. However, studies that explore the mechanisms that meditate this transmission are rare. Recently, small noncoding RNAs (sncRNAs) in sperm have seemed crucial to this transmission due to their alteration in sperm in response to environmental exposure, and the methodology of microinjection of isolated total RNA or sncRNAs or synthetically identified sncRNAs gradually lifted the veil of sncRNA regulation during intergenerational inheritance along the male line. Hence, by reviewing relevant literature, this study intends to answer the following research concepts: (1) paternal environmental factors that can be passed on to offspring and are attributed to spermatozoal sncRNAs, (2) potential role of paternal spermatozoal sncRNAs during the intergenerational inheritance process, and (3) the potential mechanism by which spermatozoal sncRNAs meditate intergenerational inheritance. In summary, increased attention highlights the hidden wonder of spermatozoal sncRNAs during intergenerational inheritance. Therefore, in the future, more studies should focus on the origin of RNA alteration, the target of RNA regulation, and how sncRNA regulation during embryonic development can be sustained even in adult offspring.

  • REVIEW
    Zehong Huang, Yingying Su, Tianying Zhang, Ningshao Xia
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(1): 39-55. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0893-y

    Vaccination is the most effective and feasible way to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The rapid development of effective COVID-19 vaccines is an extraordinary achievement. This study reviewed the efficacy/effectiveness, immunogenicity, and safety profile of the 12 most progressed COVID-19 vaccines and discussed the challenges and prospects of the vaccine-based approaches in a global crisis. Overall, most of the current vaccines have shown safety and efficacy/effectiveness during actual clinical trials or in the real-world studies, indicating a development of pandemic control. However, many challenges are faced by pandemic control in terms of maximizing the effect of vaccines, such as rapid vaccine coverage, strategies to address variants with immune escape capability, and surveillance of vaccine safety in the medium- and long-terms.

  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Jiansong Huang, Xin Huang, Yang Li, Xia Li, Jinghan Wang, Fenglin Li, Xiao Yan, Huanping Wang, Yungui Wang, Xiangjie Lin, Jifang Tu, Daqiang He, Wenle Ye, Min Yang, Jie Jin
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2022, 16(3): 416-428. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0838-5

    Abivertinib, a third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is originally designed to target epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-activating mutations. Previous studies have shown that abivertinib has promising antitumor activity and a well-tolerated safety profile in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. However, abivertinib also exhibited high inhibitory activity against Bruton’s tyrosine kinase and Janus kinase 3. Given that these kinases play some roles in the progression of megakaryopoiesis, we speculate that abivertinib can affect megakaryocyte (MK) differentiation and platelet biogenesis. We treated cord blood CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells, Meg-01 cells, and C57BL/6 mice with abivertinib and observed megakaryopoiesis to determine the biological effect of abivertinib on MK differentiation and platelet biogenesis. Our in vitro results showed that abivertinib impaired the CFU-MK formation, proliferation of CD34+ HSC-derived MK progenitor cells, and differentiation and functions of MKs and inhibited Meg-01-derived MK differentiation. These results suggested that megakaryopoiesis was inhibited by abivertinib. We also demonstrated in vivo that abivertinib decreased the number of MKs in bone marrow and platelet counts in mice, which suggested that thrombopoiesis was also inhibited. Thus, these preclinical data collectively suggested that abivertinib could inhibit MK differentiation and platelet biogenesis and might be an agent for thrombocythemia.

  • REVIEW
    Xian Wang, Xunming Ji
    Frontiers of Medicine, 2021, 15(6): 867-876. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11684-021-0887-9

    Sleep disturbances are common in patients with stroke, and sleep quality has a critical role in the onset and outcome of stroke. Poor sleep exacerbates neurological injury, impedes nerve regeneration, and elicits serious complications. Thus, exploring a therapy suitable for patients with stroke and sleep disturbances is imperative. As a multi-targeted nonpharmacological intervention, remote ischemic conditioning can reduce the ischemic size of the brain, improve the functional outcome of stroke, and increase sleep duration. Preclinical/clinical evidence showed that this method can inhibit the inflammatory response, mediate the signal transductions of adenosine, activate the efferents of the vagal nerve, and reset the circadian clocks, all of which are involved in sleep regulation. In particular, cytokines tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and adenosine are sleep factors, and electrical vagal nerve stimulation can improve insomnia. On the basis of the common mechanisms of remote ischemic conditioning and sleep regulation, a causal relationship was proposed between remote ischemic conditioning and post-stroke sleep quality.