Mar 2019, Volume 13 Issue 2

Cover illustration

  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare chronic and progressive cystic lung disease in women. Typically, on CT scan of the chest, diffuse thin-walled loofah sac-like cysts are shown. Slowly progressive dyspnea, pneumothorax, chylothorax, or renal angiomyolipomas are the main manifestations of LAM. LAM can be sporadic or associated with tuberous sclerosis complex. Pulmonary hypertension is a major complication in advanced stage of LAM, indicating poor prognosis. Sirolimus, an [Detail] ...

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    Bin Yu, Xiaosong Gu

    The inhibitory environment that surrounds the lesion site and the lack of intrinsic regenerative capacity of the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) impede the regrowth of injured axons and thereby the reestablishment of neural circuits required for functional recovery after spinal cord injuries (SCI). To circumvent these barriers, biomaterial scaffolds are applied to bridge the lesion gaps for the regrowing axons to follow, and, often by combining stem cell transplantation, to enable the local environment in the growth-supportive direction. Manipulations, such as the modulation of PTEN/mTOR pathways, can also enhance intrinsic CNS axon regrowth after injury. Given the complex pathophysiology of SCI, combining biomaterial scaffolds and genetic manipulation may provide synergistic effects and promote maximal axonal regrowth. Future directions will primarily focus on the translatability of these approaches and promote therapeutic avenues toward the functional rehabilitation of patients with SCIs.

    Shihua Wang, Rongjia Zhu, Hongling Li, Jing Li, Qin Han, Robert Chunhua Zhao

    As a promising candidate seed cell type in regenerative medicine, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have attracted considerable attention. The unique capacity of MSCs to exert a regulatory effect on immunity in an autologous/allergenic manner makes them an attractive therapeutic cell type for immune disorders. In this review, we discussed the current knowledge of and advances in MSCs, including its basic biological properties, i.e., multilineage differentiation, secretome, and immunomodulation. Specifically, on the basis of our previous work, we proposed three new concepts of MSCs, i.e., “subtotipotent stem cell” hypothesis, MSC system, and “Yin and Yang” balance of MSC regulation, which may bring new insights into our understanding of MSCs. Furthermore, we analyzed data from the Clinical Trials database ( on registered clinical trials using MSCs to treat a variety of immune diseases, such as graft-versus-host disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, we highlighted MSC clinical trials in China and discussed the challenges and future directions in the field of MSC clinical application.

    Qiming Zhai, Zhiwei Dong, Wei Wang, Bei Li, Yan Jin

    The teeth are highly differentiated chewing organs formed by the development of tooth germ tissue located in the jaw and consist of the enamel, dentin, cementum, pulp, and periodontal tissue. Moreover, the teeth have a complicated regulatory mechanism, special histologic origin, diverse structure, and important function in mastication,, articulation,, and aesthetics. These characteristics, to a certain extent, greatly complicate the research in tooth regeneration. Recently, new ideas for tooth and tissue regeneration have begun to appear with rapid developments in the theories and technologies in tissue engineering. Numerous types of stem cells have been isolated from dental tissue, such as dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs), stem cells isolated from human pulp of exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHED), periodontal ligament stem cells (PDLSCs), stem cells from apical papilla (SCAPs), and dental follicle cells (DFCs). All these cells can regenerate the tissue of tooth. This review outlines the cell types and strategies of stem cell therapy applied in tooth regeneration, in order to provide theoretical basis for clinical treatments.

    Rui Shi, Yuelong Huang, Chi Ma, Chengai Wu, Wei Tian

    Bone tissue engineering (BTE) is a rapidly developing strategy for repairing critical-sized bone defects to address the unmet need for bone augmentation and skeletal repair. Effective therapies for bone regeneration primarily require the coordinated combination of innovative scaffolds, seed cells, and biological factors. However, current techniques in bone tissue engineering have not yet reached valid translation into clinical applications because of several limitations, such as weaker osteogenic differentiation, inadequate vascularization of scaffolds, and inefficient growth factor delivery. Therefore, further standardized protocols and innovative measures are required to overcome these shortcomings and facilitate the clinical application of these techniques to enhance bone regeneration. Given the deficiency of comprehensive studies in the development in BTE, our review systematically introduces the new types of biomimetic and bifunctional scaffolds. We describe the cell sources, biology of seed cells, growth factors, vascular development, and the interactions of relevant molecules. Furthermore, we discuss the challenges and perspectives that may propel the direction of future clinical delivery in bone regeneration.

    Bo Lei, Baolin Guo, Kunal J. Rambhia, Peter X. Ma

    Native tissues possess unparalleled physiochemical and biological functions, which can be attributed to their hybrid polymer composition and intrinsic bioactivity. However, there are also various concerns or limitations over the use of natural materials derived from animals or cadavers, including the potential immunogenicity, pathogen transmission, batch to batch consistence and mismatch in properties for various applications. Therefore, there is an increasing interest in developing degradable hybrid polymer biomaterials with controlled properties for highly efficient biomedical applications. There have been efforts to mimic the extracellular protein structure such as nanofibrous and composite scaffolds, to functionalize scaffold surface for improved cellular interaction, to incorporate controlled biomolecule release capacity to impart biological signaling, and to vary physical properties of scaffolds to regulate cellular behavior. In this review, we highlight the design and synthesis of degradable hybrid polymer biomaterials and focus on recent developments in osteoconductive, elastomeric, photoluminescent and electroactive hybrid polymers. The review further exemplifies their applications for bone tissue regeneration.

    Linjie Wang, Zhili Li, Cheng Tan, Shujuan Liu, Jianfeng Zhang, Siyang He, Peng Zou, Weibo Liu, Yinghui Li

    The Chinese space station will be built around 2020. As a national space laboratory, it will offer unique opportunities for studying the physiological effects of weightlessness and the efficacy of the countermeasures against such effects. In this paper, we described the development of countermeasure systems in the Chinese space program. To emphasize the need of the Chinese space program to implement its own program for developing countermeasures, we reviewed the literature on the negative physiological effects of weightlessness, the challenges of completing missions, the development of countermeasure devices, the establishment of countermeasure programs, and the efficacy of the countermeasure techniques in American and Russian manned spaceflights. In addition, a brief overview was provided on the Chinese research and development on countermeasures to discuss the current status and goals of the development of countermeasures against physiological problems associated with weightlessness.

    Ali A. Rabaan

    Cholera is a secretory diarrhoeal disease caused by infection with Vibrio cholerae, primarily the V. cholerae O1 El Tor biotype. There are approximately 2.9 million cases in 69 endemic countries annually, resulting in 95 000 deaths. Cholera is associated with poor infrastructure and lack of access to sanitation and clean drinking water. The current cholera epidemic in Yemen, linked to spread of V. cholerae O1 (Ogawa serotype), is associated with the ongoing war. This has devastated infrastructure and health services. The World Health Organization had estimated that 172 286 suspected cases arose between 27th April and 19th June 2017, including 1170 deaths. While there are three oral cholera vaccines prequalified by the World Health Organization, there are issues surrounding vaccination campaigns in conflict situations, exacerbated by external factors such as a global vaccine shortage. Major movements of people complicates surveillance and administration of double doses of vaccines. Cholera therapy mainly depends on rehydration, with use of antibiotics in more severe infections. Concerns have arisen about the rise of antibiotic resistance in cholera, due to mobile genetic elements. In this review, we give an overview of cholera epidemiology, virulence, antibiotic resistance, therapy and vaccines, in the light of the ongoing epidemic in Yemen.

    Yang Zhang, Fang Wang, Xue Chen, Wenjing Liu, Jiancheng Fang, Mingyu Wang, Wen Teng, Panxiang Cao, Hongxing Liu

    This retrospective analysis aimed to investigate the mutation profile of 16 common mutated genes in de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. A total of 259 patients who were diagnosed of de novo AML were enrolled in this study. Mutation profiling of 16 candidate genes were performed in bone marrow samples by using Sanger sequencing. We identified at least 1 mutation in 199 of the 259 samples (76.8%), and 2 or more mutations in 31.7% of samples. FLT3-ITD was the most common mutated gene (16.2%, 42/259), followed by CEBPA (15.1%, 39/259), NRAS (14.7%, 38/259), and NPM1 (13.5%, 35/259). Concurrence was observed in 97.1% of the NPM1 mutated cases and in 29.6% of the double mutated CEBPA cases. Distinct patterns of co-occurrence were observed for different hotspot mutations within the IDH2 gene: R140 mutations were associated with NPM1 and/or FLT3-ITD mutations, whereas R172 mutations co-occurred with DNMT3A mutations only. Concurrence was also observed in 86.6% of epigenetic regulation genes, most of which co-occurred with NPM1 mutations. The results showed certain rules in the mutation profiling and concurrence of AML patients, which was related to the function classification of genes. Defining the mutation spectrum and mutation pattern of AML will contribute to the comprehensive assessment of patients and identification of new therapeutic targets.

    Xiaodong Mo, Xiaohui Zhang, Lanping Xu, Yu Wang, Chenhua Yan, Huan Chen, Yuhong Chen, Wei Han, Fengrong Wang, Jingzhi Wang, Kaiyan Liu, Xiaojun Huang

    The efficacy of salvage interferon-α (IFN-α) treatment was investigated in patients with unsatisfactory response to minimal residual disease (MRD)-directed donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) (n=24). Patients who did not become MRD-negative at 1 month after DLI were those with unsatisfactory response and were eligible to receive salvage IFN-α treatment within 3 months of DLI. Recombinant human IFN-α-2b injections were subcutaneously administered 2–3 times a week for 6 months. Nine (37.5%), 6 (25.0%), and 3 (12.5%) patients became MRD-negative at 1, 2, and>2 months after the salvage IFN-α treatment, respectively. Two-year cumulative incidences of relapse and non-relapse mortality were 35.9% and 8.3%, respectively. Two-year probabilities of event-free survival, disease-free survival, and overall survival were 51.6%, 54.3%, and 68.0%, respectively. Outcomes of patients subjected to salvage IFN-α treatment after DLI were significantly better than those with persistent MRD without IFN-α treatment. Moreover, clinical outcomes were comparable between the salvage DLI and IFN-α treatment groups. Thus, salvage IFN-α treatment may help improve the outcome of patients with unsatisfactory responses to MRD-directed DLI and could be a potential salvage treatment for these patients after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

    Weiqi Rong, Yang Zhang, Lei Yang, Lin Feng, Baojun Wei, Fan Wu, Liming Wang, Yanning Gao, Shujun Cheng, Jianxiong Wu, Ting Xiao

    Biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) following curative resection are not currently sufficient for prognostic indication of overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic performance of osteopontin (OPN), matrix metalloproteinase 7 (MMP7), and pregnancy specific glycoprotein 9 (PSG9) in patients with HCC. A total of 179 prospective patients with HCC provided plasma before hepatectomy. Plasma OPN, MMP7, and PSG9 levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Correlations between plasma levels, clinical parameters, and outcomes (OS and DFS) were overall analyzed. High OPN (≥149.97 ng/mL), MMP7 (≥2.28 ng/mL), and PSG9 (≥45.59 ng/mL) were prognostic indicators of reduced OS (P<0.001, P<0.001, and P=0.007, respectively). Plasma PSG9 protein level was an independent factor in predicting OS (P=0.008) and DFS (P=0.038). Plasma OPN+MMP7+PSG9 elevation in combination was a prognostic factor for OS (P<0.001). OPN was demonstrated to be a risk factor-associated OS in stage I patients with HCC and patients with low α-fetoprotein levels (<20 ng/mL). These findings suggested that OPN, MMP7, PSG9 and their combined panels may be useful for aiding in tumor recurrence and mortality risk prediction of patients with HCC, particularly in the early stage of HCC carcinogenesis.

    Xiuxiu Wu, Wenshuai Xu, Jun Wang, Xinlun Tian, Zhuang Tian, Kaifeng Xu

    Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare diffuse cystic lung disease. Knowledge on LAM-related pulmonary hypertension (PH) is limited. This study aimed to analyze the clinical characteristics of LAM with elevated pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) and evaluate the potential efficacy of sirolimus. The study involved 50 LAM patients who underwent echocardiography. According to the tricuspid regurgitation velocity (TRV), these patients were divided into the TRV≤2.8 m/s group and TRV>2.8 m/s group. Both groups comprised 25 females with an average age of 38.6±8.1 and 41.5±8.9 years. In the TRV>2.8 m/s group, the estimated systolic PAP (SPAP) was significantly elevated (52.08±12.45 mmHg vs. 30.24±5.25 mmHg, P<0.01). Linear analysis showed that SPAP was correlated with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide, alveolar arterial oxygen gradient (PA-aO2), and 6 min walking distance (r = −0.392, −0.351, 0.450, and −0.591, respectively; P<0.05), in which PA-aO2 was a risk factor for SPAP elevation (β = 0.064, OR= 1.066, P<0.05). Moreover, in 10 patients who received sirolimus therapy, SPAP decreased from 57.0±12.6 mmHg to 35.2±11.1 mmHg. The study showed that LAM patients with PH exhibit poor pulmonary function and hypoxemia and may benefit from sirolimus treatment.

    Biqiong Fu, Jie Yang, Jia Chen, Lirong Lin, Kehong Chen, Weiwei Zhang, Jianguo Zhang, Yani He

    Shenkang injection (SKI) is a classic prescription composed of Radix Astragali, rhubarb, Astragalus, Safflower, and Salvia. This treatment was approved by the State Food and Drug Administration of China in 1999 for treatment of chronic kidney diseases based on good efficacy and safety. This study aimed to investigate the protective effect of SKI against high glucose (HG)-induced renal tubular cell senescence and its underlying mechanism. Primary renal proximal tubule epithelial cells were cultured in (1) control medium (control group), medium containing 5 mmol/L glucose; (2) mannitol medium (mannitol group), medium containing 5 mmol/L glucose, and 25 mmol/L mannitol; (3) HG medium (HG group) containing 30 mmol/L glucose; (4) SKI treatment at high (200 mg/L), medium (100 mg/L), or low (50 mg/L) concentration in HG medium (HG+ SKI group); or (5) 200 mg/L SKI treatment in control medium (control+ SKI group) for 72 h. HG-induced senescent cells showed the emergence of senescence associated heterochromatin foci, up-regulation of P16INK4 and cyclin D1, increased senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity, and elevated expression of membrane decoy receptor 2. SKI treatment potently prevented these changes in a dose-independent manner. SKI treatment prevented HG-induced up-regulation of pro-senescence molecule mammalian target of rapamycin and p66Shc and down-regulation of anti-senescence molecules klotho, sirt1, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g in renal tubular epithelial cells. SKI may be a novel strategy for protecting against HG-induced renal tubular cell senescence in treatment of diabetic nephropathy.

    Xiaoyi Li, Hong Kang, Wensheng Liu, Sarita Singhal, Na Jiao, Yong Wang, Lixin Zhu, Ruixin Zhu

    The development of new proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) with less adverse effects by lowering the pKa values of nitrogen atoms in pyrimidine rings has been previously suggested by our group. In this work, we proposed that new PPIs should have the following features: (1) number of ring II = number of ring I+ 1; (2) preferably five, six, or seven-membered heteroatomic ring for stability; and (3) 1<pKa1<4. Six molecular scaffolds based on the aforementioned criteria were constructed, and R groups were extracted from compounds in extensive data sources. A virtual molecule dataset was established, and the pKa values of specific atoms on the molecules in the dataset were calculated to select the molecules with required pKa values. Drug-likeness screening was further conducted to obtain the candidates that significantly reduced the adverse effects of long-term PPI use. This study provided insights and tools for designing targeted molecules in silico that are suitable for practical applications.

    Rui Hou, Hongmin Zhang, Huan Chen, Yuankai Zhou, Yun Long, Dawei Liu

    Cases of acute pancreatitis induced by organophosphate intoxication are encountered occasionally in clinics, but very few of them develop into severe pancreas necrosis and irreversible pancreatic function impairment. Here, we report a 47-year-old female organophosphate poisoning case after ingestion of massive insecticides; she was considered to have total necrosis and function failure of the pancreas via serum amylase test, glucose level test, and CT imaging. The patient exhibited no relief under the regular medicine treatment, which included sandostatin, antibiotics, intravenous atropine, and pralidoxime methiodide. She received percutaneous catheterization and drainage of pancreatic zone to expel hazardous necrotic waste, also by which the pathogenic evidence was obtained and the antibiotics were adjusted subsequently. The patient recovered gradually, was discharged after 2 weeks, and was prescribed with oral pancreatin capsules before meals and hypodermic insulin at meals and bedtime to compensate the impaired pancreatic function.