Frontiers of Medicine

ISSN 2095-0217

ISSN 2095-0225(Online)

CN 11-5983/R

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Epidemiology of fungal infections in China
Min Chen, Yuan Xu, Nan Hong, Yali Yang, Wenzhi Lei, Lin Du, Jingjun Zhao, Xia Lei, Lin Xiong, Langqi Cai, Hui Xu, Weihua Pan, Wanqing Liao
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 58-75.
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With the increasing number of immunocompromised hosts, the epidemiological characteristics of fungal infections have undergone enormous changes worldwide, including in China. In this paper, we reviewed the existing data on mycosis across China to summarize available epidemiological profiles. We found that the general incidence of superficial fungal infections in China has been stable, but the incidence of tinea capitis has decreased and the transmission route has changed. By contrast, the overall incidence of invasive fungal infections has continued to rise. The occurrence of candidemia caused by Candida species other than C. albicans and including some uncommon Candida species has increased recently in China. Infections caused by Aspergillus have also propagated in recent years, particularly with the emergence of azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus. An increasing trend of cryptococcosis has been noted in China, with Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii ST 5 genotype isolates as the predominant pathogen. Retrospective studies have suggested that the epidemiological characteristics of Pneumocystis pneumonia in China may be similar to those in other developing countries. Endemic fungal infections, such as sporotrichosis in Northeastern China, must arouse research, diagnostic, and treatment vigilance. Currently, the epidemiological data on mycosis in China are variable and fragmentary. Thus, a nationwide epidemiological research on fungal infections in China is an important need for improving the country’s health.

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Histone variants: critical determinants in tumour heterogeneity
Tao Wang, Florent Chuffart, Ekaterina Bourova-Flin, Jin Wang, Jianqing Mi, Sophie Rousseaux, Saadi Khochbin
Front. Med.    2019, 13 (3): 289-297.
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Malignant cell transformation could be considered as a series of cell reprogramming events driven by oncogenic transcription factors and upstream signalling pathways. Chromatin plasticity and dynamics are critical determinants in the control of cell reprograming. An increase in chromatin dynamics could therefore constitute an essential step in driving oncogenesis and in generating tumour cell heterogeneity, which is indispensable for the selection of aggressive properties, including the ability of cells to disseminate and acquire resistance to treatments. Histone supply and dosage, as well as histone variants, are the best-known regulators of chromatin dynamics. By facilitating cell reprogramming, histone under-dosage and histone variants should also be crucial in cell transformation and tumour metastasis. Here we summarize and discuss our knowledge of the role of histone supply and histone variants in chromatin dynamics and their ability to enhance oncogenic cell reprogramming and tumour heterogeneity.

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Landscape of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in China: impact of ecology, climate, and behavior
Qiyong Liu, Wenbo Xu, Shan Lu, Jiafu Jiang, Jieping Zhou, Zhujun Shao, Xiaobo Liu, Lei Xu, Yanwen Xiong, Han Zheng, Sun Jin, Hai Jiang, Wuchun Cao, Jianguo Xu
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 3-22.
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For the past several decades, the infectious disease profile in China has been shifting with rapid developments in social and economic aspects, environment, quality of food, water, housing, and public health infrastructure. Notably, 5 notifiable infectious diseases have been almost eradicated, and the incidence of 18 additional notifiable infectious diseases has been significantly reduced. Unexpectedly, the incidence of over 10 notifiable infectious diseases, including HIV, brucellosis, syphilis, and dengue fever, has been increasing. Nevertheless, frequent infectious disease outbreaks/events have been reported almost every year, and imported infectious diseases have increased since 2015. New pathogens and over 100 new genotypes or serotypes of known pathogens have been identified. Some infectious diseases seem to be exacerbated by various factors, including rapid urbanization, large numbers of migrant workers, changes in climate, ecology, and policies, such as returning farmland to forests. This review summarizes the current experiences and lessons from China in managing emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, especially the effects of ecology, climate, and behavior, which should have merits in helping other countries to control and prevent infectious diseases.

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Transforming bacterial disease surveillance and investigation using whole-genome sequence to probe the trace
Biao Kan, Haijian Zhou, Pengcheng Du, Wen Zhang, Xin Lu, Tian Qin, Jianguo Xu
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 23-33.
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Two decades have passed since the first bacterial whole-genome sequencing, which provides new opportunity for microbial genome. Consequently, considerable genetic diversity encoded by bacterial genomes and among the strains in the same species has been revealed. In recent years, genome sequencing techniques and bioinformatics have developed rapidly, which has resulted in transformation and expedited the application of strategy and methodology for bacterial genome comparison used in dissection of infectious disease epidemics. Bacterial whole-genome sequencing and bioinformatic computing allow genotyping to satisfy the requirements of epidemiological study in disease control. In this review, we outline the significance and summarize the roles of bacterial genome sequencing in the context of bacterial disease control and prevention. We discuss the applications of bacterial genome sequencing in outbreak detection, source tracing, transmission mode discovery, and new epidemic clone identification. Wide applications of genome sequencing and data sharing in infectious disease surveillance networks will considerably promote outbreak detection and early warning to prevent the dissemination of bacterial diseases.

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Cyclospora cayetanensis infections among diarrheal outpatients in Shanghai: a retrospective case study
Yanyan Jiang, Zhongying Yuan, Guoqing Zang, Dan Li, Ying Wang, Yi Zhang, Hua Liu, Jianping Cao, Yujuan Shen
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 98-103.
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Cyclospora cayetanensis is a foodborne and waterborne pathogen that causes endemic and epidemic human diarrhea worldwide. A few epidemiological studies regarding C. cayetanensis infections in China have been conducted. During 2013, a total of 291 stool specimens were collected from patients with diarrhea at a hospital in urban Shanghai. C. cayetanensis was not detected in any of the stool specimens by traditional microscopy, whereas five stool specimens (1.72%, 5/291) were positive by PCR. These positive cases confirmed by molecular technology were all in the adult group (mean age 27.8 years; 2.94%, 5/170) with watery diarrhea. Marked infection occurred in the rainy season of May and July. Sequence and phylogenetic analyses of the partial 18S rRNA genes of C. cayetanensis isolated showed intra-species diversity of this parasite. This study showed, for the first time, that C. cayetanensis is a pathogen in outpatients with diarrhea in Shanghai, albeit at a low level. However, the transmission dynamics of this parasite in these patients remain uncertain.

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Recent transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in China: the implication of molecular epidemiology for tuberculosis control
Chongguang Yang, Qian Gao
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 76-83.
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Tuberculosis (TB) has remained an ongoing concern in China. The national scale-up of the Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course (DOTS) program has accelerated the fight against TB in China. Nevertheless, many challenges still remain, including the spread of drug-resistant strains, high disease burden in rural areas, and enormous rural-to-urban migrations. Whether incident active TB represents recent transmission or endogenous reactivation has helped to prioritize the strategies for TB control. Evidence from molecular epidemiology studies has delineated the recent transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) strains in many settings. However, the transmission patterns of TB in most areas of China are still not clear. Studies carried out to date could not capture the real burden of recent transmission of the disease in China because of the retrospective study design, incomplete sampling, and use of low-resolution genotyping methods. We reviewed the implementations of molecular epidemiology of TB in China, the estimated disease burden due to recent transmission of M. tuberculosis strains, the primary transmission of drug-resistant TB, and the evaluation of a feasible genotyping method of M. tuberculosis strains in circulation.

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Trends of foodborne diseases in China: lessons from laboratory-based surveillance since 2011
Jikai Liu, Li Bai, Weiwei Li, Haihong Han, Ping Fu, Xiaochen Ma, Zhenwang Bi, Xiaorong Yang, Xiuli Zhang, Shiqi Zhen, Xiaoling Deng, Xiumei Liu, Yunchang Guo
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 48-57.
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Foodborne disease is one of the most important public health issues worldwide. China faces various and unprecedented challenges in all aspects of the food chain. Data from laboratory-based foodborne disease surveillance systems from 2013 to 2016, as well as different regions and ages, can be found along with differences in the patterns of pathogens detected with diverse characteristics. Vibrio parahaemolyticus has been the leading cause of infectious diarrhea in China, especially among adults in coastal regions. Salmonella has been a serious and widely distributed pathogen responsible for substantial socioeconomic burden. Shigella was mostly identified in Northwest China and the inland province (Henan) with less-developed regions among children under 5 years. Data from foodborne disease outbreak reporting system from 2011 to 2016 showed that poisonous animals and plant factors responsible for most deaths were poisonous mushrooms (54.7%) in remote districts in southwest regions. The biological hazard that caused most cases reported (42.3%) was attributed to V. parahaemolyticus, the leading cause of foodborne outbreaks. In this review, we summarize the recent monitoring approach to foodborne diseases in China and compare the results with those in developed countries.

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Innate and adaptive T cells in influenza disease
Simone Nüssing, Sneha Sant, Marios Koutsakos, Kanta Subbarao, Thi H.O. Nguyen, Katherine Kedzierska
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 34-47.
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Influenza is a major global health problem, causing infections of the respiratory tract, often leading to acute pneumonia, life-threatening complications and even deaths. Over the last seven decades, vaccination strategies have been utilized to protect people from complications of influenza, especially groups at high risk of severe disease. While current vaccination regimens elicit strain-specific antibody responses, they fail to generate cross-protection against seasonal, pandemic and avian viruses. Moreover, vaccines designed to generate influenza-specific T-cell responses are yet to be optimized. During natural infection, viral replication is initially controlled by innate immunity before adaptive immune responses (T cells and antibody-producing B cells) achieve viral clearance and host recovery. Adaptive T and B cells maintain immunological memory and provide protection against subsequent infections with related influenza viruses. Recent studies also shed light on the role of innate T-cells (MAIT cells, gd T cells, and NKT cells) in controlling influenza and linking innate and adaptive immune mechanisms, thus making them attractive targets for vaccination strategies. We summarize the current knowledge on influenza-specific innate MAIT and gd T cells as well as adaptive CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, and discuss how these responses can be harnessed by novel vaccine strategies to elicit cross-protective immunity against different influenza strains and subtypes.

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Platelet membrane-based and tumor-associated platelet- targeted drug delivery systems for cancer therapy
Yinlong Zhang, Guangna Liu, Jingyan Wei, Guangjun Nie
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (6): 667-677.
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Platelets have long been known to play critical roles in hemostasis by clumping and clotting blood vessel injuries. Recent experimental evidence strongly indicates that platelets can also interact with tumor cells by direct binding or secreting cytokines. For example, platelets have been shown to protect circulating cancer cells in blood circulation and to promote tumor metastasis. In-depth understanding of the role of platelets in cancer progression and metastasis provides promising approaches for platelet biomimetic drug delivery systems and functional platelet-targeting strategies for effective cancer treatment. This review highlights recent progresses in platelet membrane-based drug delivery and unique strategies that target tumor-associated platelets for cancer therapy. The paper also discusses future development opportunities and challenges encountered for clinical translation.

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Genomic variations in the counterpart normal controls of lung squamous cell carcinomas
Dalin Zhang, Liwei Qu, Bo Zhou, Guizhen Wang, Guangbiao Zhou
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (3): 280-288.
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Lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC) causes approximately 400 000 deaths each year worldwide. The occurrence of LUSC is attributed to exposure to cigarette smoke, which induces the development of numerous genomic abnormalities. However, few studies have investigated the genomic variations that occur only in normal tissues that have been similarly exposed to tobacco smoke as tumor tissues. In this study, we sequenced the whole genomes of three normal lung tissue samples and their paired adjacent squamous cell carcinomas. We then called genomic variations specific to the normal lung tissues through filtering the genomic sequence of the normal lung tissues against that of the paired tumors, the reference human genome, the dbSNP138 common germline variants, and the variations derived from sequencing artifacts. To expand these observations, the whole exome sequences of 478 counterpart normal controls (CNCs) and paired LUSCs of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset were analyzed. Sixteen genomic variations were called in the three normal lung tissues. These variations were confirmed by Sanger capillary sequencing. A mean of 0.5661 exonic variations/Mb and 7.7887 altered genes per sample were identified in the CNC genome sequences of TCGA. In these CNCs, C:G→T:A transitions, which are the genomic signatures of tobacco carcinogen N-methyl-N-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine, were the predominant nucleotide changes. Twenty five genes in CNCs had a variation rate that exceeded 2%, including ARSD (18.62%), MUC4 (8.79%), and RBMX (7.11%). CNC variations in CTAGE5 and USP17L7 were associated with the poor prognosis of patients with LUSC. Our results uncovered previously unreported genomic variations in CNCs, rather than LUSCs, that may be involved in the development of LUSC.

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Responses to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases: One world, One health
Jianqing Xu, Jianguo Xu
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 1-2.
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Gut microbiota and its implications in small bowel transplantation
Chenyang Wang, Qiurong Li, Jieshou Li
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (3): 239-248.
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The gut microbiota is mainly composed of a diverse population of commensal bacterial species and plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis, immune modulation and metabolism. The influence of the gut microbiota on solid organ transplantation has recently been recognized. In fact, several studies indicated that acute and chronic allograft rejection in small bowel transplantation (SBT) is closely associated with the alterations in microbial patterns in the gut. In this review, we focused on the recent findings regarding alterations in the microbiota following SBT and the potential roles of these alterations in the development of acute and chronic allograft rejection. We also reviewed important advances with respect to the interplays between the microbiota and host immune systems in SBT. Furthermore, we explored the potential of the gut microbiota as a microbial marker and/or therapeutic target for the predication and intervention of allograft rejection and chronic dysfunction. Given that current research on the gut microbiota has become increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive, large cohort studies employing metagenomic analysis and multivariate linkage should be designed for the characterization of host–microbe interaction and causality between microbiota alterations and clinical outcomes in SBT. The findings are expected to provide valuable insights into the role of gut microbiota in the development of allograft rejection and other transplant-related complications and introduce novel therapeutic targets and treatment approaches in clinical practice.

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Associations between Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing genotype and drug resistance to four first-line drugs: a survey in China
Haican Liu, Yuanyuan Zhang, Zhiguang Liu, Jinghua Liu, Yolande Hauck, Jiao Liu, Haiyan Dong, Jie Liu, Xiuqin Zhao, Bing Lu, Yi Jiang, Gilles Vergnaud, Christine Pourcel, Kanglin Wan
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 92-97.
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Investigations on the genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in China have shown that Beijing genotype strains play a dominant role. To study the association between the M.?tuberculosis Beijing genotype and the drug-resistance phenotype, 1286 M. tuberculosis clinical isolates together with epidemiological and clinical information of patients were collected from the center for tuberculosis (TB) prevention and control or TB hospitals in Beijing municipality and nine provinces or autonomous regions in China. Drug resistance testing was conducted on all the isolates to the four first-line anti-TB drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin, streptomycin, and ethambutol). A total of 585 strains were found to be resistant to at least one of the four anti-TB drugs. The Beijing family strains consisted of 499 (53.20%) drug-sensitive strains and 439 (46.80%) drug-resistant strains, whereas the non-Beijing family strains comprised 202 (58.05%) drug-sensitive strains and 146 (41.95%) drug-resistant strains. No significant difference was observed in prevalence (c2=2.41, P>0.05) between the drug-resistant and drug-sensitive strains among the Beijing family strains. Analysis of monoresistance, multidrug-resistant TB, and geographic distribution of drug resistance did not find any relationships between the M.?tuberculosis Beijing genotype and drug-resistance phenotype in China. Results confirmed that the Beijing genotype, the predominant M. tuberculosis genotype in China, was not associated with drug resistance.

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Pneumonic plague epidemic in Northeast China in 1910–1911: Dr. Wu Lien-Teh’s epidemic preventive system for plague control
Qingmeng Zhang, Fengmin Zhang, Baofeng Yang
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 113-115.
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Pneumonic plague that originated in Russian Siberia broke out in Northeast China in October 1910–March 1911. On the basis of field visits, autopsy, bacteriological identification, and close collaboration with local authorities and international colleagues, Dr. Wu Lien-Teh implemented a series of efficient antiplague measures, which successfully controlled the development of an extraordinary epidemic plague. In his subsequent work, Dr. Wu demonstrated the respiratory transmission of pneumonic plague and tarbagans’ role in this spread. Dr. Wu’s academic and cultural contributions are valuable in the medical progress in China.

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Carcinogens that induce the A:T>T:A nucleotide substitutions in the genome
Guangbiao Zhou, Xinchun Zhao
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (2): 236-238.
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Recently, Ng et al. reported that the A:T>T:A substitutions, proposed to be a signature of aristolochic acid (AA) exposure, were detected in 76/98 (78%) of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from the Taiwan Province of China, and 47% to 1.7% of HCCs from the Chinese mainland and other countries harbored the nucleotide changes. However, other carcinogens, e.g., tobacco carcinogens 4-aminobiphenyl and 1,3-butadiene, air toxic vinyl chloride and its reactive metabolites chloroethylene oxide, melphalan and chlorambucil, also cause this signature in the genome. Since tobacco smoke is a worldwide public health threat and vinyl chloride distributes globally and is an air pollutant in Taiwan Province, the estimation of the patients’ exposure history is the key to determine the “culprit” of the A:T>T:A mutations. Apparently, without estimation of the patients’ exposure history, the conclusion of Ng et al. is unpersuasive and misleading.

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Etiology of invasive candidosis agents in Russia: a multicenter epidemiological survey
N.V. Vasilyeva, E.R. Raush, M.V. Rudneva, T.S. Bogomolova, A.E. Taraskina, Yong Fang, Fengmin Zhang, N.N. Klimko
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 84-91.
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A multicenter prospective epidemiological survey on the etiologic agents of invasive candidosis was conducted in Russia in the period of 2012–2014. Samples were collected from 284 patients with invasive candidosis and Candida species isolated by culture. The species were identified by DNA sequencing and MALDI-TOF mass-spectrometry. A total of 322 isolates were recovered, in which 96% of Сandida species belonged to six major species, namely, C. albicans (43.2%), C. parapsilosis (20.2%), C. glabrata (11.5%), C. tropicalis (9.6%), C. krusei (6.2%), and C. guilliermondii (5.3%). Most Candida species were isolated from blood samples (83.23%). Notably, the prevalence rate of C. albicans reduced from 52.38% to 32.79% (2012 vs. 2014) (P=0.01) whereas that of non-C. albicans increased from 47.62% (2012) to 67.21% (2014) (P<0.01). Species distribution differed among geographical regions; specifically, the prevalence rate of C. albicans as an etiologic agent of invasive candidosis in Siberian Federal region was significantly higher than that in other Federal regions. Results indicated a shift from C. albicans to non-C. albicans. Therefore, a detailed investigation on the contributing factors and appropriate treatment of invasive candidosis is needed.

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Gut microbial balance and liver transplantation: alteration, management, and prediction
Xinyao Tian, Zhe Yang, Fangzhou Luo, Shusen Zheng
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (2): 123-129.
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Liver transplantation is a conventional treatment for terminal stage liver diseases. However, several complications still hinder the survival rate. Intestinal barrier destruction is widely observed among patients receiving liver transplant and suffering from ischemia–reperfusion or rejection injuries because of the relationship between the intestine and the liver, both in anatomy and function. Importantly, the resulting alteration of gut microbiota aggravates graft dysfunctions during the process. This article reviews the research progress for gut microbial alterations and liver transplantation. Especially, this work also evaluates research on the management of gut microbial alteration and the prediction of possible injuries utilizing microbial alteration during liver transplantation. In addition, we propose possible directions for research on gut microbial alteration during liver transplantation and offer a hypothesis on the utilization of microbial alteration in liver transplantation. The aim is not only to predict perioperative injuries but also to function as a method of treatment or even inhibit the rejection of liver transplantation.

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Mechanistic and therapeutic advances in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by targeting the gut microbiota
Ruiting Han, Junli Ma, Houkai Li
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (6): 645-657.
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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common metabolic diseases currently in the context of obesity worldwide, which contains a spectrum of chronic liver diseases, including hepatic steatosis, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and hepatic carcinoma. In addition to the classical “Two-hit” theory, NAFLD has been recognized as a typical gut microbiota-related disease because of the intricate role of gut microbiota in maintaining human health and disease formation. Moreover, gut microbiota is even regarded as a “metabolic organ” that play complementary roles to that of liver in many aspects. The mechanisms underlying gut microbiota-mediated development of NAFLD include modulation of host energy metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and bile acid and choline metabolism. As a result, gut microbiota have been emerging as a novel therapeutic target for NAFLD by manipulating it in various ways, including probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, antibiotics, fecal microbiota transplantation, and herbal components. In this review, we summarized the most recent advances in gut microbiota-mediated mechanisms, as well as gut microbiota-targeted therapies on NAFLD.

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Comparison of reference values for immune recovery between event-free patients receiving haploidentical allografts and those receiving human leukocyte antigen-matched sibling donor allografts
Xuying Pei, Xiangyu Zhao, Yu Wang, Lanping Xu, Xiaohui Zhang, Kaiyan Liu, Yingjun Chang, Xiaojun Huang
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (2): 153-163.
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To establish optimal reference values for recovered immune cell subsets, we prospectively investigated post-transplant immune reconstitution (IR) in 144 patients who received allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) and without showing any of the following events: poor graft function, grades II?IV acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), serious chronic GVHD, serious bacterial infection, invasive fungal infection, or relapse or death in the first year after transplantation. IR was rapid in monocytes, intermediate in lymphocytes, CD3+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and CD19+ B cells, and very slow in CD4+ T cells in the entire patient cohort. Immune recovery was generally faster under HLA-matched sibling donor transplantation than under haploidentical transplantation. Results suggest that patients with an IR comparable to the reference values display superior survival, and the levels of recovery in immune cells need not reach those in healthy donor in the first year after transplantation. We suggest that data from this recipient cohort should be used as reference values for post-transplant immune cell counts in patients receiving HSCT.

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Qualitative analysis of direction of public hospital reforms in China
Dahai Zhao, Zhiruo Zhang
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (2): 218-223.
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Reforms in public hospitals are among the most important improvements in China’s health care system over the last two decades. However, the reforms that should be implemented in public hospitals are unclear. Thus, a feasible direction of reforms in Chinese public hospitals is suggested and reliable policy suggestions are provided for the government to reform public hospitals. The data used in this study were mainly derived from a qualitative study. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted in Shanghai, Guangdong, and Gansu between May and December 2014. Government funding accounted for approximately eight percent of the total annual revenue of public hospitals in China, and the insufficient government subsidy considerably affects the operation mechanism of public hospitals. However, solely increasing this subsidy cannot address the inappropriate incentives of public hospitals in China. The most crucial step in setting the direction of reforms in public hospitals in China is transforming inappropriate incentives by implementing a new evaluation index system for directors and physicians in public hospitals.

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Low-dose CT for lung cancer screening: opportunities and challenges
Hongbing Shen
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 116-121.
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Lung cancer is among the most frequently diagnosed cancers worldwide and the leading cause of cancer death in both males and females. Screening for lung cancer coupled with earlier intervention has long been studied as an approach to mortality reduction. However, minimal progress was achieved until recently, when low-dose spiral computed tomography (LDCT) screening demonstrated a 20% reduction in mortality from lung cancer in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the National Lung Screening Trial, from the United States. On the basis of this finding, LDCT has been recommended for lung cancer screening in high-risk populations by several clinical guidelines. However, results from the following independent RCTs in Europe failed to show consistent conclusions. In addition, intractable problems gradually emerged with the progress of LDCT screening. This paper summarizes and discusses the main observations and challenges of LDCT screening for lung cancer. Before spreading implementation of LDCT screening, challenges, including high false-positive rates, overdiagnosis, enormous costs, and radiation risk, must be addressed. Complementary biomarkers and technical improvement are expected in the field of lung cancer screening in the near future.

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Molecular classification and precision therapy of cancer: immune checkpoint inhibitors
Yingyan Yu
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (2): 229-235.
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On May 23, 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a treatment for cancer patients with positive microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) markers or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) markers. This approach is the first approved tumor treatment using a common biomarker rather than specified tumor locations in the body. FDA previously approved Keytruda for treatment of several types of malignancies, such as metastatic melanoma, metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer, refractory Hodgkin lymphoma, and urothelial carcinoma, all of which carry positive programmed death-1/programmed death-ligand 1 biomarkers. Therefore, indications of Keytruda significantly expanded. Several types of malignancies are disclosed by MSI-H status due to dMMR and characterized by increased neoantigen load, which elicits intense host immune response in tumor microenvironment, including portions of colorectal and gastric carcinomas. Currently, biomarker-based patient selection remains a challenge. Pathologists play important roles in evaluating histology and biomarker results and establishing detection methods. Taking gastric cancer as an example, its molecular classification is built on genome abnormalities, but it lacks acceptable clinical characteristics. Pathologists are expected to act as “genetic interpreters” or “genetic translators” and build a link between molecular subtypes with tumor histological features. Subsequently, by using their findings, oncologists will carry out targeted therapy based on molecular classification.

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Prevalence and drug resistance characteristics of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in Hangzhou, China
Yan Yang, Jian Chen, Di Lin, Xujian Xu, Jun Cheng, Changgui Sun
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (2): 182-188.
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With the abuse of antimicrobial agents in developing countries, increasing number of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) attracted considerable public concern. A retrospective study was conducted based on 242 CRE strains from a tertiary hospital in Hangzhou, China to investigate prevalence and drug resistance characteristics of CRE in southeast China. Bacterial species were identified. Antimicrobial susceptibility was examined by broth microdilution method or epsilometer test. Resistant β-lactamase genes were identified by polymerase chain reaction and sequencing. Genotypes were investigated by phylogenetic analysis. Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli were the most prevalent types of species, with occurrence in 71.9% and 21.9% of the strains, respectively. All strains exhibited high resistance (>70%) against β-lactam antibiotics, ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole, and nitrofurantoin but exhibited low resistance against tigecycline (0.8%) and minocycline (8.3%). A total of 123 strains harbored more than two kinds of β-lactamase genes. blaKPC-2, blaSHV-11, blaTEM-1, and blaCTX-M-14 were the predominant genotypes, with detection rates of 60.3%, 61.6%, 43.4%, and 16.5%, respectively, and were highly identical with reference sequences in different countries, indicating potential horizontal dissemination. IMP-4 was the most frequent class B metallo-lactamases in this study. In conclusion, continuous surveillance and effective prevention should be emphasized to reduce spread of CRE.

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RNA m6A modification and its function in diseases
Jiyu Tong, Richard A. Flavell, Hua-Bing Li
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (4): 481-489.
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N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most common post-transcriptional RNA modification throughout the transcriptome, affecting fundamental aspects of RNA metabolism. m6A modification could be installed by m6A “writers” composed of core catalytic components (METTL3/METTL14/WTAP) and newly defined regulators and removed by m6A “erasers” (FTO and ALKBH5). The function of m6A is executed by m6A “readers” that bind to m6A directly (YTH domain-containing proteins, eIF3 and IGF2BPs) or indirectly (HNRNPA2B1). In the past few years, advances in m6A modulators (“writers,” “erasers,” and “readers”) have remarkably renewed our understanding of the function and regulation of m6A in different cells under normal or disease conditions. However, the mechanism and the regulatory network of m6A are still largely unknown. Moreover, investigations of the m6A physiological roles in human diseases are limited. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in m6A research and highlight the functional relevance and importance of m6A modification in in vitro cell lines, in physiological contexts, and in cancers.

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Complex interplay between tumor microenvironment and cancer therapy
Minhong Shen, Yibin Kang
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (4): 426-439.
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Tumor microenvironment (TME) is comprised of cellular and non-cellular components that exist within and around the tumor mass. The TME is highly dynamic and its importance in different stages of cancer progression has been well recognized. A growing body of evidence suggests that TME also plays pivotal roles in cancer treatment responses. TME is significantly remodeled upon cancer therapies, and such change either enhances the responses or induces drug resistance. Given the importance of TME in tumor progression and therapy resistance, strategies that remodel TME to improve therapeutic responses are under developing. In this review, we provide an overview of the essential components in TME and the remodeling of TME in response to anti-cancer treatments. We also summarize the strategies that aim to enhance therapeutic efficacy by modulating TME.

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Prevention of laryngeal webs through endoscopic keel placement for bilateral vocal cord lesions
Jian Chen, Yilai Shu, Matthew R. Naunheim, Min Chen, Lei Cheng, Haitao Wu
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (3): 301-306.
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Transoral microresection for treatment of vocal cord lesions involving the anterior commissure may result in anterior glottic webs. In this study, we retrospectively reviewed 54 patients who underwent microsurgery for bilateral lesions involving the anterior commissure and categorized them into two groups. The keel placement and control groups received endoscopic keel placement and mitomycin C, respectively. During the follow-up of at least 1 year, the laryngeal web formation rate significantly decreased in the keel placement group compared with that in the control group (18.6% versus 54.5%, P<0.05). Furthermore, the voice handicap index-10 scores for patients without web formation decreased in both the keel placement and control groups (P<0.0001 and P<0.001, respectively). A pseudomembrane covering the vocal cords was detected in 16.3% (7 of 43) cases after keel removal. A total of 100% (7 of 7) of these cases and 2.8% (1 of 36) of the other cases formed laryngeal webs (P<0.0001). Endoscopic keel placement could be an effective method for preventing anterior glottic webs after surgery for bilateral vocal cord diseases involving the anterior commissure. The pseudomembrane observed at the time of keel removal may imply a high risk of web formation.

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Prevalence and molecular characteristics of Listeria monocytogenes in cooked products and its comparison with isolates from listeriosis cases
Hong Wang, Lijuan Luo, Zhengdong Zhang, Jianping Deng, Yan Wang, Yimao Miao, Ling Zhang, Xi Chen, Xiang Liu, Songsong Sun, Bo Xiao, Qun Li, Changyun Ye
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (1): 104-112.
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This study aimed to investigate the prevalence and molecular characteristics of Listeria monocytogenes in cooked products in Zigong City, China. The overall occurrence of the L. monocytogenes in the ready-to-eat (RTE) shops and mutton restaurants surveyed was 16.2% (141/873). An occurrence of 13.5% was observed in RTE pork, 6.5% in RTE vegetables, and more than 24.0% in either cooked mutton or cooked haggis. Serotype 1/2b (45.4%), 1/2a (33.3%), and 1/2c (14.2%) were the predominant types. By comparing the clonal complexes (CCs) based on multilocus sequence typing (MLST) of the L. monocytogenes from cooked foods in Zigong City and 33 listeriosis cases from different districts of China, CC87, CC9, CC8, and CC3 were showed to be prevalent in cooked products and CC87 and CC3 were the first two frequent types in the 33 clinic-source strains. All CC87 stains harbored the newly reported Listeria pathogenicity island 4 (LIPI-4) gene fragment ptsA, and all CC3 strains possessed the Listeria pathogenicity island 3 (LIPI-3) gene fragment llsX. These may increase the occurrence of the strains belonging to CC87 and CC3 in listeriosis cases in China and also underline the risk of infection owing to the consumption of the cooked products from Zigong. ST619 (serotype 1/2b) harbored both llsX and ptsA, indicating a potential hypervirulent sequence type in Zigong.

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Intracellular and extracellular TGF-β signaling in cancer: some recent topics
Kohei Miyazono, Yoko Katsuno, Daizo Koinuma, Shogo Ehata, Masato Morikawa
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (4): 387-411.
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Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β regulates a wide variety of cellular responses, including cell growth arrest, apoptosis, cell differentiation, motility, invasion, extracellular matrix production, tissue fibrosis, angiogenesis, and immune function. Although tumor-suppressive roles of TGF-β have been extensively studied and well-characterized in many cancers, especially at early stages, accumulating evidence has revealed the critical roles of TGF-β as a pro-tumorigenic factor in various types of cancer. This review will focus on recent findings regarding epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by TGF-β, in relation to crosstalk with some other signaling pathways, and the roles of TGF-β in lung and pancreatic cancers, in which TGF-β has been shown to be involved in cancer progression. Recent findings also strongly suggested that targeting TGF-β signaling using specific inhibitors may be useful for the treatment of some cancers. TGF-β plays a pivotal role in the differentiation and function of regulatory T cells (Tregs). TGF-β is produced as latent high molecular weight complexes, and the latent TGF-β complex expressed on the surface of Tregs contains glycoprotein A repetitions predominant (GARP, also known as leucine-rich repeat containing 32 or LRRC32). Inhibition of the TGF-β activities through regulation of the latent TGF-β complex activation will be discussed.

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Challenges of NK cell-based immunotherapy in the new era
Fang Fang, Weihua Xiao, Zhigang Tian
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (4): 440-450.
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Natural killer cells (NKs) have a great potential for cancer immunotherapy because they can rapidly and directly kill transformed cells in the absence of antigen presensitization. Various cellular sources, including peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), stem cells, and NK cell lines, have been used for producing NK cells. In particular, NK cells that expanded from allogeneic PBMCs exhibit better efficacy than those that did not. However, considering the safety, activities, and reliability of the cell products, researchers must develop an optimal protocol for producing NK cells from PBMCs in the manufacture setting and clinical therapeutic regimen. In this review, the challenges on NK cell-based therapeutic approaches and clinical outcomes are discussed.

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Natural killer cells in liver diseases
Meijuan Zheng, Haoyu Sun, Zhigang Tian
Front. Med.    2018, 12 (3): 269-279.
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The liver has been characterized as a frontline lymphoid organ with complex immunological features such as liver immunity and liver tolerance. Liver tolerance plays an important role in liver diseases including acute inflammation, chronic infection, autoimmune disease, and tumors. The liver contains a large proportion of natural killer (NK) cells, which exhibit heterogeneity in phenotypic and functional characteristics. NK cell activation, well known for its role in the immune surveillance against tumor and pathogen-infected cells, depends on the balance between numerous activating and inhibitory signals. In addition to the innate direct “killer” functions, NK cell activity contributes to regulate innate and adaptive immunity (helper or regulator). Under the setting of liver diseases, NK cells are of great importance for stimulating or inhibiting immune responses, leading to either immune activation or immune tolerance. Here, we focus on the relationship between NK cell biology, such as their phenotypic features and functional diversity, and liver diseases.

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