Frontiers of Medicine

ISSN 2095-0217

ISSN 2095-0225(Online)

CN 11-5983/R

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Systematic review for geo-authentic Lonicerae Japonicae Flos
Xingyue Yang, Yali Liu, Aijuan Hou, Yang Yang, Xin Tian, Liyun He
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (2): 203-213.
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In traditional Chinese medicine, Lonicerae Japonicae Flos is commonly used as anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antipyretic herbal medicine, and geo-authentic herbs are believed to present the highest quality among all samples from different regions. To discuss the current situation and trend of geo-authentic Lonicerae Japonicae Flos, we searched Chinese Biomedicine Literature Database, Chinese Journal Full-text Database, Chinese Scientific Journal Full-text Database, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Wanfang, and PubMed. We investigated all studies up to November 2015 pertaining to quality assessment, discrimination, pharmacological effects, planting or processing, or ecological system of geo-authentic Lonicerae Japonicae Flos. Sixty-five studies mainly discussing about chemical fingerprint, component analysis, planting and processing, discrimination between varieties, ecological system, pharmacological effects, and safety were systematically reviewed. By analyzing these studies, we found that the key points of geo-authentic Lonicerae Japonicae Flos research were quality and application. Further studies should focus on improving the quality by selecting the more superior of all varieties and evaluating clinical effectiveness.

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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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Cited: Crossref(17) WebOfScience(12)
CRISPR-Cas9 mediated LAG-3 disruption in CAR-T cells
Yongping Zhang, Xingying Zhang, Chen Cheng, Wei Mu, Xiaojuan Liu, Na Li, Xiaofei Wei, Xiang Liu, Changqing Xia, Haoyi Wang
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (4): 554-562.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (452KB)

T cells engineered with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) have been successfully applied to treat advanced refractory B cell malignancy. However, many challenges remain in extending its application toward the treatment of solid tumors. The immunosuppressive nature of tumor microenvironment is considered one of the key factors limiting CAR-T efficacy. One negative regulator of T cell activity is lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3). We successfully generated LAG-3 knockout T and CAR-T cells with high efficiency using CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene editing and found that the viability and immune phenotype were not dramatically changed during in vitro culture. LAG-3 knockout CAR-T cells displayed robust antigen-specific antitumor activity in cell culture and in murine xenograft model, which is comparable to standard CAR-T cells. Our study demonstrates an efficient approach to silence immune checkpoint in CAR-T cells via gene editing.

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Cited: Crossref(36) WebOfScience(31)
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.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (997KB)

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.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (156KB)

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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Development of small-molecule viral inhibitors targeting various stages of the life cycle of emerging and re-emerging viruses
Xiaohuan Wang, Peng Zou, Fan Wu, Lu Lu, Shibo Jiang
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (4): 449-461.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (429KB)

In recent years, unexpected outbreaks of infectious diseases caused by emerging and re-emerging viruses have become more frequent, which is possibly due to environmental changes. These outbreaks result in the loss of life and economic hardship. Vaccines and therapeutics should be developed for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. In this review, we summarize and discuss the latest progress in the development of small-molecule viral inhibitors against highly pathogenic coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Ebola virus, and Zika virus. These viruses can interfere with the specific steps of viral life cycle by blocking the binding between virus and host cells, disrupting viral endocytosis, disturbing membrane fusion, and interrupting viral RNA replication and translation, thereby demonstrating potent therapeutic effect against various emerging and re-emerging viruses. We also discuss some general strategies for developing small-molecule viral inhibitors.

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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.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (179KB)

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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Poor adherence to P2Y12 antagonists increased cardiovascular risks in Chinese PCI-treated patients
Yang Sun,Chenze Li,Lina Zhang,Dong Hu,Xudong Zhang,Ting Yu,Min Tao,Dao Wen Wang,Xiaoqing Shen
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (1): 53-61.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (180KB)

Low adherence to secondary prevention medications (ATM) of patients after acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is associated with poor clinical outcomes. However, literature provides limited data on assessment of ATM and risks associated with poor in Chinese patients with ACS. In the current work, ATM was assessed in consecutively recruited patients with ACS in Tongji Hospital from November 5, 2013 to December 31, 2014. A total of 2126 patients were classified under low adherence (proportion of days covered (PDC)<50%) and high adherence (PDC>50%) groups based on their performance after discharge. All patients were followed up at the 1st, 6th, and 12th month of discharge while recording ATM and major adverse cardiac events (MACE). Bivariate logistic regression was used to identify the factors associated with ATM. Cox regression was used to analyze the association between ATM and MACE within one year after discharge. Results showed that coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) alone had significantly lower proportion of high adherence to P2Y12 antagonists (83.0% vs. 90.7%, P<0.01) than patients treated with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) only. Moreover, in patients undergoing PCI, high adherence to P2Y12 antagonists decreased the risk of MACE (hazard ratio=0.172, 95% confidence interval: 0.039–0.763; P=0.021). In conclusion, PCI-treated patients are more prone to remaining adherent to medications than CABG-treated patients. High adherence to P2Y12 antagonists was associated with lower risk of MACE.

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The antibiotic resistome: gene flow in environments, animals and human beings
Yongfei Hu, George F. Gao, Baoli Zhu
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (2): 161-168.
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The antibiotic resistance is natural in bacteria and predates the human use of antibiotics. Numerous antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) have been discovered to confer resistance to a wide range of antibiotics. The ARGs in natural environments are highly integrated and tightly regulated in specific bacterial metabolic networks. However, the antibiotic selection pressure conferred by the use of antibiotics in both human medicine and agriculture practice leads to a significant increase of antibiotic resistance and a steady accumulation of ARGs in bacteria. In this review, we summarized, with an emphasis on an ecological point of view, the important research progress regarding the collective ARGs (antibiotic resistome) in bacterial communities of natural environments, human and animals, i.e., in the one health settings. We propose that the resistance gene flow in nature is “from the natural environments” and “to the natural environments”; human and animals, as intermediate recipients and disseminators, contribute greatly to such a resistance gene “circulation.”

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Current advances in the elimination of hepatitis B in China by 2030
Shuye Zhang, Fusheng Wang, Zheng Zhang
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (4): 490-501.
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With its 78 million chronic carriers, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is still one of the leading public health challenges in China. Over the last two decades, China has made great progress on the prevention of HBV transmission through national vaccination programs. Zero transmission from mother to infant has been proposed as the current goal. Available anti-HBV therapy is efficacious in suppressing HBV replication; however, it fails to completely cure patients with chronic hepatitis B and even requires lifelong treatment. To reduce the costs and improve the efficacy, several trials have been recently conducted in China to optimize the current anti-HBV managements. Novel biomarkers were identified to predict treatment outcomes, and new promising treatment strategies were developed. Reports also indicate that coinfections of HBV with other hepatotropic viruses and human immunodeficiency virus are common in China and cause severe liver diseases, which should be recognized early and treated properly. Work is still needed to eliminate hepatitis B in China by 2030.

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Application of liquid biopsy in precision medicine: opportunities and challenges
Junyun Wang, Shuang Chang, Guochao Li, Yingli Sun
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (4): 522-527.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (172KB)

Precision medicine for cancer patients aims to adopt the most suitable treatment options during diagnosis and treatment of individuals. Detecting circulating tumor cell (CTC) or circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in plasma or serum could serve as liquid biopsy, which would be useful for numerous diagnostic applications. Liquid biopsies can help clinicians screen and detect cancer early, stratify patients to the most suitable treatment and real-time monitoring of treatment response and resistance mechanisms in the tumor, evaluate the risk for metastatic relapse, and estimate prognosis. We summarized the advantages and disadvantages of tissue and liquid biopsies. We also further compared and analyzed the advantages and limitations of detecting CTCs, ctDNAs, and exosomes. Furthermore, we reviewed the literature related with the application of serum or plasma CTCs, ctDNAs, and exosomes for diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. We also analyzed their opportunities and challenges as future biomarkers. In the future, liquid biopsies could be used to guide cancer treatment. They could also provide the ideal scheme to personalize treatment in precision medicine.

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Effects of different doses of cadmium on secondary metabolites and gene expression in Artemisia annua L.
Liangyun Zhou,Guang Yang,Haifeng Sun,Jinfu Tang,Jian Yang,Yizhan Wang,Thomas Avery Garran,Lanping Guo
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (1): 137-146.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (453KB)

This study aims to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms of artemisinin accumulation induced by cadmium (Cd). The effects of different Cd concentrations (0, 20, 60, and 120 μmol/L) on the biosynthesis of Artemisia annua L. were examined. Intermediate and end products were quantified by HPLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis. The expression of key biosynthesis enzymes was also determined by qRT-PCR. The results showed that the application of treatment with 60 and 120 μmol/L Cd for 3 days significantly improved the biosynthesis of artemisinic acid, arteannuin B, and artemisinin. The concentrations of artemisinic acid, arteannuin B, and artemisinin in the 120 μmol/L Cd-treated group were 2.26, 102.08, and 33.63 times higher than those in the control group, respectively. The concentrations of arteannuin B and artemisinin in 60 μmol/L Cd-treated leaves were 61.10 and 26.40 times higher than those in the control group, respectively. The relative expression levels of HMGR, FPS, ADS, CYP71AV1, DBR2, ALDH1, and DXR were up-regulated in the 120 μmol/L Cd-treated group because of increased contents of artemisinic metabolites after 3 days of treatment. Hence, appropriate doses of Cd can increase the concentrations of artemisinic metabolites at a certain time point by up-regulating the relative expression levels of key enzyme genes involved in artemisinin biosynthesis.

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Normoalbuminuric diabetic kidney disease
Chao Chen, Chang Wang, Chun Hu, Yachun Han, Li Zhao, Xuejing Zhu, Li Xiao, Lin Sun
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (3): 310-318.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (177KB)

Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is one of the primary causes of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Early diagnosis is very important in preventing the development of DKD. Urinary albumin excretion rate (UAER) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) are widely accepted as criteria for the diagnosis and clinical grading of DKD, and microalbuminuria has been recommended as the first clinical sign of DKD. The natural history of DKD has been divided into three stages: normoalbuminuria, microalbuminuria, and macroalbuminuria. However, this clinical paradigm has been questioned recently, as studies have shown that a portion of diabetes mellitus (DM) patients with normoalbuminuria have progressive renal insufficiency, referred to as normoalbuminuric diabetic kidney disease (NADKD) or nonalbuminuric diabetic nephropathy. Epidemiologic research has demonstrated that normoalbuminuric diabetic kidney disease is common, and the large number of NADKD patients suggests that the traditional paradigm needs to be shifted. Currently, the pathogenesis of NADKD remains unclear, but many clinical studies have identified some clinical and pathological features of NADKD. In addition, the long-term outcomes of NADKD patients remain controversial. In this article, we reviewed the latest studies addressing the pathogenesis, pathology, treatment and prevention of NADKD.

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Holistic integrative medicine: toward a new era of medical advancement
Daiming Fan
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (1): 152-159.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (119KB)

Medicine has encountered unprecedented problems associated with changes in nature, society, and environment, as well as with new human quests for survival, longevity, and health. In the meantime, the development of medicine is facing challenges that resulted from the over-division and specialization of disciplines and the fragmentation of medical knowledge. To construct a new medical system that is more suitable for human health and disease treatment, holistic integrative medicine (HIM), which regards the human body as a holistic entity, organically integrates the most advanced knowledge and theories in each medical field and the most effective practices in various clinical specialties to revise and adjust on the basis of social, environmental, and psychological conditions. HIM is the inevitable and necessary direction for the future development of medicine. In this article, we illustrated the connotation of HIM, the differences between HIM and other medical conceptions, and the practice of HIM in recent years.

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A comparative study of electroacupuncture at Zhongliao (BL33) and other acupoints for overactive bladder symptoms
Likun Yang,Yang Wang,Qian Mo,Zhishun Liu
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (1): 129-136.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (262KB)

Electroacupuncture (EA) at Zhongliao (BL33) can improve the symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB), such as urinary frequency, urgency, and incontinence. However, its performance compared with other acupoints remains unclear. This study investigated the effects of EA at BL33 with deep needling on rats with OAB by detecting urodynamics in eight groups: no intervention group, D-BL33 group (deep needling at BL33), S-BL33 group (shallow needling at BL33), non-acupoint group (needling at the non-acupoint next to BL33), Weizhong (BL40) group, Sanyinjiao (SP6) group, Tongtian (BL7) group, and Hegu (LI4) group. Results revealed that EA at BL33 with deep needling, BL40, and SP6 prolonged the intercontraction interval (ICI) of rats with OAB (P=0.001, P=0.005, P=0.046, respectively, post-treatment vs. post-modeling). Furthermore, the change in ICI from post-modeling in the D-BL33 group was significantly greater than those of the no intervention and other EA groups (all P<0.01). Significantly shortened vesical micturition time (VMT) and elevated maximum detrusor pressure (MDP) were also observed in the D-BL33 group (P=0.017 and P=0.024, respectively, post-treatment vs. post-modeling). However, no statistically significant differences in the changes of VMT and MDP from post-modeling were observed between D-BL33 and the other EA groups. In conclusion, EA at BL33 with deep needling may inhibit acetic-acid-induced OAB more effectively.

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Molecular aspects of MERS-CoV
Ali A. Rabaan, Ali M. Bazzi, Shamsah H. Al-Ahmed, Jaffar A. Al-Tawfiq
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (3): 365-377.
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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a betacoronavirus which can cause acute respiratory distress in humans and is associated with a relatively high mortality rate. Since it was first identified in a patient who died in a Jeddah hospital in 2012, the World Health Organization has been notified of 1735 laboratory-confirmed cases from 27 countries, including 628 deaths. Most cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia. MERS-CoV ancestors may be found in Old World bats of the Vespertilionidae family. After a proposed bat to camel switching event, transmission of MERS-CoV to humans is likely to have been the result of multiple zoonotic transfers from dromedary camels. Human-to-human transmission appears to require close contact with infected persons, with outbreaks mainly occurring in hospital environments. Outbreaks have been associated with inadequate infection prevention and control implementation, resulting in recommendations on basic and more advanced infection prevention and control measures by the World Health Organization, and issuing of government guidelines based on these recommendations in affected countries including Saudi Arabia. Evolutionary changes in the virus, particularly in the viral spike protein which mediates virus-host cell contact may potentially increase transmission of this virus. Efforts are on-going to identify specific evidence-based therapies or vaccines. The broad-spectrum antiviral nitazoxanide has been shown to have in vitro activity against MERS-CoV. Synthetic peptides and candidate vaccines based on regions of the spike protein have shown promise in rodent and non-human primate models. GLS-5300, a prophylactic DNA-plasmid vaccine encoding S protein, is the first MERS-CoV vaccine to be tested in humans, while monoclonal antibody, m336 has given promising results in animal models and has potential for use in outbreak situations.

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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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Natural killer cells in hepatocellular carcinoma: current status and perspectives for future immunotherapeutic approaches
Min Yu, Zonghai Li
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (4): 509-521.
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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is currently the fifth most common malignancy and the third leading cause of cancer-related mortalities worldwide. In the last few years, treatments for HCC have significantly improved from a mere surgical resection to a series of minimally invasive therapies and targeted drugs. However, recurrence frequently occurs even upon curative therapeutics, and drug therapies generally produce disappointing results, with the overall prognosis dismal. This challenging clinical scenario warrants new effective and life-prolonging strategies for patients with HCC. Compelling evidence suggests that NK cells play a critical role in the immune function of the liver and in the immune defenses against HCC, indicating that HCC might be an ideal target for NK cell-based immunotherapies. To obtain comprehensive insights into the putative influence of NK cells on HCC, this paper summarizes current knowledge on NK cells in HCC and discusses the usefulness and prospects of NK cell-based immunotherapies. Critical issues that require consideration for the successful clinical translation of NK cell-based therapies are also addressed. If appropriately used and further optimized, NK cell-based therapies could dominate important roles in the future immunotherapeutic market of HCC.

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Screening for main components associated with the idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity of a tonic herb, Polygonum multiflorum
Chunyu Li, Ming Niu, Zhaofang Bai, Congen Zhang, Yanling Zhao, Ruiyu Li, Can Tu, Huifang Li, Jing Jing, Yakun Meng, Zhijie Ma, Wuwen Feng, Jinfa Tang, Yun Zhu, Jinjie Li, Xiaoya Shang, Zhengsheng Zou, Xiaohe Xiao, Jiabo Wang
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (2): 253-265.
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The main constituents of a typical medicinal herb, Polygonum multiflorum (Heshouwu in Chinese), that induces idiosyncratic liver injury remain unclear. Our previous work has shown that cotreatment with a nontoxic dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and therapeutic dose of Heshouwu can induce liver injury in rats, whereas the solo treatment cannot induce observable injury. In the present work, using the constituent “knock-out” and “knock-in” strategy, we found that the ethyl acetate (EA) extract of Heshouwu displayed comparable idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity to the whole extract in LPS-treated rats. Results indicated a significant elevation of plasma alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and liver histologic changes, whereas other separated fractions failed to induce liver injury. The mixture of EA extract with other separated fractions induced comparable idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity to the whole extract in LPS-treated rats. Chemical analysis further revealed that 2,3,5,4'-tetrahydroxy trans-stilbene-2-O-β-glucoside (trans-SG) and its cis-isomer were the two major compounds in EA extract. Furthermore, the isolated cis-, and not its trans-isomer, displayed comparable idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity to EA extract in LPS-treated rats. Higher contents of cis-SG were detected in Heshouwu liquor or preparations from actual liver intoxication patients associated with Heshouwu compared with general collected samples. In addition, plasma metabolomics analysis showed that cis-SG-disturbing enriched pathways remarkably differed from trans-SG ones in LPS-treated rats. All these results suggested that cis-SG was closely associated with the idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity of Heshouwu. Considering that the cis-trans isomerization of trans-SG was mediated by ultraviolet light or sunlight, our findings serve as reference for controlling photoisomerization in drug discovery and for the clinical use of Heshouwu and stilbene-related medications.

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Changes in lncRNAs and related genes in β-thalassemia minor and β-thalassemia major
Jing Ma,Fei Liu,Xin Du,Duan Ma,Likuan Xiong
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (1): 74-86.
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β-thalassemia is caused by β-globin gene mutations. However, heterogeneous phenotypes were found in individuals with same genotype, and still undescribed mechanism underlies such variation. We collected blood samples from 30 β-thalassemia major, 30 β-thalassemia minor patients, and 30 matched normal controls. Human lncRNA Array v2.0 (8 × 60 K, Arraystar) was used to detect changes in long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and mRNAs in three samples each from β-thalassemia major, β-thalassemia minor, and control groups. Compared with normal controls, 1424 and 2045 lncRNAs were up- and downregulated, respectively, in β-thalassemia major patients, whereas 623 and 349 lncRNAs were up- and downregulated, respectively, in β-thalassemia minor patients. Compared with β-thalassemia minor group, 1367 and 2356 lncRNAs were up- and downregulated, respectively, in β-thalassemia major group. We selected five lncRNAs that displayed altered expressions (DQ583499, X-inactive specific transcript (Xist), lincRNA-TPM1, MRFS16P, and lincRNA-RUNX2-2) and confirmed their expression levels in all samples using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Based on coding-non-coding gene co-expression network and gene ontology biological process analyses, several signaling pathways were associated with three common organ systems exhibiting β-thalassemia phenotypes: hematologic, skeletal, and hepatic systems. This study implicates that abnormal expression levels of lncRNAs and mRNA in β-thalassemia cases may be correlated with its various clinical phenotypes.

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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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Regulatory mechanism and functional analysis of S100A9 in acute promyelocytic leukemia cells
Yonglan Zhu,Fang Zhang,Shanzhen Zhang,Wanglong Deng,Huiyong Fan,Haiwei Wang,Ji Zhang
Front. Med.    2017, 11 (1): 87-96.
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S100A9, a calcium-binding protein, participates in the inflammatory process and development of various tumors, thus attracting much attention in the field of cancer biology. This study aimed to investigate the regulatory mechanism of S100A9 and its function involvement in APL. We used real-time quantitative PCR to determine whether PML/RARα affects the expression of S100A9 in NB4 and PR9 cells upon ATRA treatment. ChIP-based PCR and dual-luciferase reporter assay system were used to detect how PML/RARα and PU.1 regulate S100A9 promoter activity. CCK-8 assay and flow cytometry were employed to observe the viability and apoptosis of NB4 cells when S100A9 was overexpressed. Results showed that S100A9 was an ATRA-responsive gene, and PML/RARα was necessary for the ATRA-induced expression of S100A9 in APL cells. In addition, PU.1 could bind to the promoter of S100A9, especially when treated with ATRA in NB4 cells, and promote its activity. More importantly, overexpression of S100A9 induced the apoptosis of NB4 cells and inhibited cell growth. Collectively, our data indicated that PML/RARα and PU.1 were necessary for the ATRA-induced expression of S100A9 in APL cells. Furthermore, S100A9 promoted apoptosis in APL cells and affected cell growth.

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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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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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