BioMed Research International The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2015 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. All Three Rows of Outer Hair Cells Are Required for Cochlear Amplification Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:29:53 +0000 In the mammalian auditory system, the three rows of outer hair cells (OHCs) located in the cochlea are thought to increase the displacement amplitude of the organ of Corti. This cochlear amplification is thought to contribute to the high sensitivity, wide dynamic range, and sharp frequency selectivity of the hearing system. Recent studies have shown that traumatic stimuli, such as noise exposure and ototoxic acid, cause functional loss of OHCs in one, two, or all three rows. However, the degree of decrease in cochlear amplification caused by such functional losses remains unclear. In the present study, a finite element model of a cross section of the gerbil cochlea was constructed. Then, to determine effects of the functional losses of OHCs on the cochlear amplification, changes in the displacement amplitude of the basilar membrane (BM) due to the functional losses of OHCs were calculated. Results showed that the displacement amplitude of the BM decreases significantly when a single row of OHCs lost its function, suggesting that all three rows of OHCs are required for cochlear amplification. Michio Murakoshi, Sho Suzuki, and Hiroshi Wada Copyright © 2015 Michio Murakoshi et al. All rights reserved. Mmu-miR-27a-5p-Dependent Upregulation of MCPIP1 Inhibits the Inflammatory Response in LPS-Induced RAW264.7 Macrophage Cells Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:10:03 +0000 Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulates macrophages to release proinflammatory cytokines. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs that are involved in inflammatory reaction. Our previously study identified the downregulated expression of mmu-miR-27a-5p in RAW267.4 cells treated with LPS. To dissect the mechanism that mmu-miR-27a-5p regulates target genes and affects proinflammatory cytokine secretion more clearly, based on previous bioinformatics prediction data, one of the potential target genes, MCPIP1 was observed to be upregulated with qRT-PCR and western blot. Luciferase reporter assays were performed to further confirm in silico prediction and determine that MCPIP1 is the target of mmu-miR-27-5p. The results suggested that mmu-miR-27a-5p directly targeted the 3′-UTR of MCPIP1 and the interaction between mmu-miR-27-5p and the 3′-UTR of MCPIP1 is sequence-specific. MCPIP1 overexpression decreased the secretion of IL-6, IL-1β, and IL-10 in macrophage cells stimulated with LPS. Our findings may provide the important information for the precise roles of mmu-miR-27a-5p in the macrophage inflammatory response to LPS stimulation in the future. Ying Cheng, Li Du, Hanwei Jiao, Huapei Zhu, Kailian Xu, Shiyu Guo, Qiaoyun Shi, Tianjing Zhao, Feng Pang, Xiaoxiao Jia, and Fengyang Wang Copyright © 2015 Ying Cheng et al. All rights reserved. Pulmonary Responses of Sprague-Dawley Rats in Single Inhalation Exposure to Graphene Oxide Nanomaterials Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:01:33 +0000 Graphene is receiving increased attention due to its potential widespread applications in future. However, the health effects of graphene have not yet been well studied. Therefore, this study examined the pulmonary effects of graphene oxide using male Sprague-Dawley rats and a single 6-hour nose-only inhalation technique. Following the exposure, the rats were allowed to recover for 1 day, 7 days, or 14 days. A total of three groups were compared: control (fresh air), low concentration ( mg/m3), and high concentration ( mg/m3). The exposure to graphene oxide did not induce significant changes in the body weights, organ weights, and food consumption during the 14 days of recovery time. The microalbumin and lactate dehydrogenase levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid were not significantly changed due to the exposure. Similarly, total cell count, macrophages, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and lymphocytes were not significantly altered in the BAL fluid. Plus, the histopathological examination of the rat lungs only showed an uptake of graphene oxide in the alveolar macrophages of the high-concentration group. Therefore, these results demonstrate that the single inhalation exposure to graphene oxide induce minimal toxic responses in rat lungs at the concentrations and time points used in the present study. Sung Gu Han, Jin Kwon Kim, Jae Hoon Shin, Joo Hwan Hwang, Jong Seong Lee, Tae-Gyu Kim, Ji Hyun Lee, Gun Ho Lee, Keun Soo Kim, Heon Sang Lee, Nam Woong Song, Kangho Ahn, and Il Je Yu Copyright © 2015 Sung Gu Han et al. All rights reserved. Heavy Metal Adsorption onto Kappaphycus sp. from Aqueous Solutions: The Use of Error Functions for Validation of Isotherm and Kinetics Models Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:44:35 +0000 Biosorption process is a promising technology for the removal of heavy metals from industrial wastes and effluents using low-cost and effective biosorbents. In the present study, adsorption of Pb2+, Cu2+, Fe2+, and Zn2+ onto dried biomass of red seaweed Kappaphycus sp. was investigated as a function of pH, contact time, initial metal ion concentration, and temperature. The experimental data were evaluated by four isotherm models (Langmuir, Freundlich, Temkin, and Dubinin-Radushkevich) and four kinetic models (pseudo-first-order, pseudo-second-order, Elovich, and intraparticle diffusion models). The adsorption process was feasible, spontaneous, and endothermic in nature. Functional groups in the biomass involved in metal adsorption process were revealed as carboxylic and sulfonic acids and sulfonate by Fourier transform infrared analysis. A total of nine error functions were applied to validate the models. We strongly suggest the analysis of error functions for validating adsorption isotherm and kinetic models using linear methods. The present work shows that the red seaweed Kappaphycus sp. can be used as a potentially low-cost biosorbent for the removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous solutions. Further study is warranted to evaluate its feasibility for the removal of heavy metals from the real environment. Md. Sayedur Rahman and Kathiresan V. Sathasivam Copyright © 2015 Md. Sayedur Rahman and Kathiresan V. Sathasivam. All rights reserved. Neuroinflammation and Neurodegeneration: Pinpointing Pathological and Pharmacological Targets Thu, 30 Jul 2015 07:56:23 +0000 Antonio Carlos Pinheiro de Oliveira, Eduardo Candelario-Jalil, Bernd L. Fiebich, Magda da Silva Santos, András Palotás, and Helton José dos Reis Copyright © 2015 Antonio Carlos Pinheiro de Oliveira et al. All rights reserved. Applications of Environmental Epidemiology in Addressing Public Health Challenges in East Asia Thu, 30 Jul 2015 07:53:14 +0000 Shih-Bin Su, Jamal H. Hashim, and Chong-huai Yan Copyright © 2015 Shih-Bin Su et al. All rights reserved. Advanced Computational Approaches for Medical Genetics and Genomics Thu, 30 Jul 2015 06:34:50 +0000 Zhi Wei, Xiao Chang, and Junwen Wang Copyright © 2015 Zhi Wei et al. All rights reserved. Cocaine Causes Apoptotic Death in Rat Mesencephalon and Striatum Primary Cultures Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:16:23 +0000 To study cocaine’s toxic effects in vitro, we have used primary mesencephalic and striatal cultures from rat embryonic brain. Treatment with cocaine causes a dramatic increase in DNA fragmentation in both primary cultures. The toxicity induced by cocaine was paralleled with a concomitant decrease in the microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2) and/or neuronal nucleus protein (NeuN) staining. We also observed in both cultures that the cell death caused by cocaine was induced by an apoptotic mechanism, confirmed by TUNEL assay. Therefore, the present paper shows that cocaine causes apoptotic cell death and inhibition of the neurite prolongation in striatal and mesencephalic cell culture. These data suggest that if similar neuronal damage could be produced in the developing human brain, it could account for the qualitative or quantitative defects in neuronal pathways that cause a major handicap in brain function following prenatal exposure to cocaine. Lucilia B. Lepsch, Cleopatra S. Planeta, and Critoforo Scavone Copyright © 2015 Lucilia B. Lepsch et al. All rights reserved. Neck Circumference as a Predictive Indicator of CKD for High Cardiovascular Risk Patients Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:26:43 +0000 Background. Neck circumference (NC) is an anthropometric measure of obesity for upper subcutaneous adipose tissue distribution which is associated with cardiometabolic risk. This study investigated whether NC is associated with indicators of chronic kidney disease (CKD) for high cardiometabolic risk patients. Methods. A total of 177 consecutive patients who underwent the outpatient departments of cardiology were prospectively enrolled in the study. The patients were aged >20 years with normal renal function or with stages 1–4 CKD. A linear regression was performed using the Enter method to present an unadjusted , standardized coefficients, and standard error, and the Durbin-Watson test was used to assess residual independence. Results. Most anthropometric measurements from patients aged ≧65 were lower than those from patients aged <65, except for women’s waist circumference (WC) and waist hip ratio. Female NC obtained the highest values for 24 hr CCR, uric acid, microalbuminuria, hsCRP, triglycerides, and HDL compared to BMI, WC, and hip circumference. The significances of female NC with 24 hr CCR and uric acid were improved after adjusted age and serum creatinine. Conclusions. NC is associated with indicators of CKD for high cardiometabolic risk patients and can be routinely measured as easy as WC in the future. Ya-Fang Liu, Shih-Tai Chang, Wei-Shiang Lin, Jen-Te Hsu, Chang-Min Chung, Jung-Jung Chang, Kuo-Chun Hung, Kang-Hua Chen, Chi-Wen Chang, Fu-Chi Chen, Yun-Wen Shih, and Chi-Ming Chu Copyright © 2015 Ya-Fang Liu et al. All rights reserved. Intellectual Impairment in Patients with Newly Diagnosed HIV Infection in Southwestern Nigeria Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:22:38 +0000 Neurocognitive impairment is a detrimental complication of HIV infection. Here, we characterized the intellectual performance of patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection in southwestern Nigeria. We conducted a prospective study at Owo Federal Medical Center by using the adapted Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). The raw scores were converted to standardized scores (z-scores) and correlated with clinical and laboratory findings. Fifty-eight HIV positive patients were recruited; 72% were in WHO stages 3 and 4. We detected a high rate of intellectual impairment in HIV positive patients and controls (63.8% and 10%, resp.; ). HIV positive patients performed worse throughout the subtests of both verbal and performance intelligence quotients. Presence of opportunistic infections was associated with worse performance in the similarities and digit symbol tests and performance and full scale scores. Lower body weight correlated with poor performance in different WAIS subtests. The high rate of advanced disease stage warrants measures aimed at earlier diagnosis and treatment. Assessment of neurocognitive performance at diagnosis may offer the opportunity to improve functioning in daily life and counteract disease progression. Taofiki A. Sunmonu, Johann Sellner, Olubunmi A. Ogunrin, Frank A. Imarhiagbe, Morenikeji A. Komolafe, Olusegun T. Afolabi, Olayinka S. Ilesanmi, Fatai Olanrewaju, and Benedicta Y. Oladimeji Copyright © 2015 Taofiki A. Sunmonu et al. All rights reserved. The Effects of Dorsal Cortical Comminution on Radiographic Results following Percutaneous Pinning for Extra-Articular Colles’ Fracture Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:53:25 +0000 A number of studies have demonstrated that dorsal cortical comminution (DCC) can predict redisplacement after nonoperative treatment of Colles’ fractures; however, the effects of a DCC defect on radiographic outcomes following percutaneous pinning for dorsally displaced extraarticular Colles’ fractures are unclear. We, therefore, performed a retrospective study on 85 patients who sustained such fractures treated with percutaneous pinning within 2006–2009. The main outcome measures included four radiographic parameters, including radial height, radial inclination, radial tilt, and ulnar variance. The radiological results showed that all fractures after percutaneous pinning followed the same time series changes and patterns of fracture collapse regardless of the presence of a DCC defect. The use of the pinning construct is to provide support for static loading but not for dynamic loading. Although the final radiographic outcomes were classified as acceptable in fractures with and without DCC, we recommend that a different approach in the management of displaced Colles’ fractures might be necessary in consideration of increasing patient expectations of health care. Po-Yao Chuang, Tien-Yu Yang, Shih-Hsun Shen, Yao-Hung Tsai, and Kuo-Chin Huang Copyright © 2015 Po-Yao Chuang et al. All rights reserved. S100B Inhibitor Pentamidine Attenuates Reactive Gliosis and Reduces Neuronal Loss in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:48:37 +0000 Among the different signaling molecules released during reactive gliosis occurring in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the astrocyte-derived S100B protein plays a key role in neuroinflammation, one of the hallmarks of the disease. The use of pharmacological tools targeting S100B may be crucial to embank its effects and some of the pathological features of AD. The antiprotozoal drug pentamidine is a good candidate since it directly blocks S100B activity by inhibiting its interaction with the tumor suppressor p53. We used a mouse model of amyloid beta- (Aβ-) induced AD, which is characterized by reactive gliosis and neuroinflammation in the brain, and we evaluated the effect of pentamidine on the main S100B-mediated events. Pentamidine caused the reduction of glial fibrillary acidic protein, S100B, and RAGE protein expression, which are signs of reactive gliosis, and induced p53 expression in astrocytes. Pentamidine also reduced the expression of proinflammatory mediators and markers, thus reducing neuroinflammation in AD brain. In parallel, we observed a significant neuroprotection exerted by pentamidine on CA1 pyramidal neurons. We demonstrated that pentamidine inhibits Aβ-induced gliosis and neuroinflammation in an animal model of AD, thus playing a role in slowing down the course of the disease. Carla Cirillo, Elena Capoccia, Teresa Iuvone, Rosario Cuomo, Giovanni Sarnelli, Luca Steardo, and Giuseppe Esposito Copyright © 2015 Carla Cirillo et al. All rights reserved. Application and Progress of Combined Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation in the Treatment of Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:20:18 +0000 Treatment of ischemic cardiomyopathy caused by myocardial infarction (MI) using mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation is a widely researched field, with promising clinical application. However, the low survival rate of transplanted cells has a severe impact on treatment outcome. Currently, research is focused on investigating the strategy of combining genetic engineering, tissue engineering materials, and drug/hypoxia preconditioning to improve ischemic cardiomyopathy treatment outcome using MSC transplantation treatment (MSCTT). This review discusses the application and progress of these techniques. Ping Hua, Jian-Yang Liu, Jun Tao, and Song-Ran Yang Copyright © 2015 Ping Hua et al. All rights reserved. Spatial Variation of the Relationship between PM2.5 Concentrations and Meteorological Parameters in China Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:16:02 +0000 Epidemiological studies around the world have reported that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is closely associated with human health. The distribution of PM2.5 concentrations is influenced by multiple geographic and socioeconomic factors. Using a remote-sensing-derived PM2.5 dataset, this paper explores the relationship between PM2.5 concentrations and meteorological parameters and their spatial variance in China for the period 2001–2010. The spatial variations of the relationships between the annual average PM2.5, the annual average precipitation (AAP), and the annual average temperature (AAT) were evaluated using the Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) model. The results indicated that PM2.5 had a strong and stable correlation with meteorological parameters. In particular, PM2.5 had a negative correlation with precipitation and a positive correlation with temperature. In addition, the relationship between the variables changed over space, and the strong negative correlation between PM2.5 and the AAP mainly appeared in the warm temperate semihumid region and northern subtropical humid region in 2001 and 2010, with some localized differences. The strong positive correlation between the PM2.5 and the AAT mainly occurred in the mid-temperate semiarid region, the humid, semihumid, and semiarid warm temperate regions, and the northern subtropical humid region in 2001 and 2010. Gang Lin, Jingying Fu, Dong Jiang, Jianhua Wang, Qiao Wang, and Donglin Dong Copyright © 2015 Gang Lin et al. All rights reserved. Association of Environmental Arsenic Exposure, Genetic Polymorphisms of Susceptible Genes, and Skin Cancers in Taiwan Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:15:54 +0000 Deficiency in the capability of xenobiotic detoxification and arsenic methylation may be correlated with individual susceptibility to arsenic-related skin cancers. We hypothesized that glutathione S-transferase (GST M1, T1, and P1), reactive oxygen species (ROS) related metabolic genes (NQO1, EPHX1, and HO-1), and DNA repair genes (XRCC1, XPD, hOGG1, and ATM) together may play a role in arsenic-induced skin carcinogenesis. We conducted a case-control study consisting of 70 pathologically confirmed skin cancer patients and 210 age and gender matched participants with genotyping of 12 selected polymorphisms. The skin cancer risks were estimated by odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) using logistic regression. EPHX1 Tyr113His, XPD C156A, and GSTT1 null genotypes were associated with skin cancer risk (OR = 2.99, 95% CI = 1.01–8.83; OR = 2.04, 95% CI = 0.99–4.27; OR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.00–3.02, resp.). However, none of these polymorphisms showed significant association after considering arsenic exposure status. Individuals carrying three risk polymorphisms of EPHX1 Tyr113His, XPD C156A, and GSTs presented a 400% increased skin cancer risk when compared to those with less than or equal to one polymorphism. In conclusion, GSTs, EPHX1, and XPD are potential genetic factors for arsenic-induced skin cancers. The roles of these genes for arsenic-induced skin carcinogenesis need to be further evaluated. Ling-I Hsu, Meei-Maan Wu, Yuan-Hung Wang, Cheng-Yeh Lee, Tse-Yen Yang, Bo-Yu Hsiao, and Chien-Jen Chen Copyright © 2015 Ling-I Hsu et al. All rights reserved. An Overview of Potential Targets for Treating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Huntington’s Disease Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:05:16 +0000 Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide. Progressive damage or loss of neurons, neurodegeneration, has severe consequences on the mental and physical health of a patient. Despite all efforts by scientific community, there is currently no cure or manner to slow degeneration progression. We review some treatments that attempt to prevent the progress of some of major neurodegenerative diseases: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Huntington’s disease. Caroline Zocatelli de Paula, Bruno Daniel Correia Gonçalves, and Luciene Bruno Vieira Copyright © 2015 Caroline Zocatelli de Paula et al. All rights reserved. Multicontrast MRI Quantification of Focal Inflammation and Degeneration in Multiple Sclerosis Wed, 29 Jul 2015 07:24:56 +0000 Introduction. Local microstructural pathology in multiple sclerosis patients might influence their clinical performance. This study applied multicontrast MRI to quantify inflammation and neurodegeneration in MS lesions. We explored the impact of MRI-based lesion pathology in cognition and disability. Methods. 36 relapsing-remitting MS subjects and 18 healthy controls underwent neurological, cognitive, behavioural examinations and 3 T MRI including (i) fluid attenuated inversion recovery, double inversion recovery, and magnetization-prepared gradient echo for lesion count; (ii) T1, T2, and T2* relaxometry and magnetisation transfer imaging for lesion tissue characterization. Lesions were classified according to the extent of inflammation/neurodegeneration. A generalized linear model assessed the contribution of lesion groups to clinical performances. Results. Four lesion groups were identified and characterized by (1) absence of significant alterations, (2) prevalent inflammation, (3) concomitant inflammation and microdegeneration, and (4) prevalent tissue loss. Groups 1, 3, 4 correlated with general disability (Adj-; ), executive function (Adj-; ), verbal memory (Adj-; ), and attention (Adj-; ). Conclusion. Multicontrast MRI provides a new approach to infer in vivo histopathology of plaques. Our results support evidence that neurodegeneration is the major determinant of patients’ disability and cognitive dysfunction. Guillaume Bonnier, Alexis Roche, David Romascano, Samanta Simioni, Djalel Eddine Meskaldji, David Rotzinger, Ying-Chia Lin, Gloria Menegaz, Myriam Schluep, Renaud Du Pasquier, Tilman Johannes Sumpf, Jens Frahm, Jean-Philippe Thiran, Gunnar Krueger, and Cristina Granziera Copyright © 2015 Guillaume Bonnier et al. All rights reserved. CCL27: Novel Cytokine with Potential Role in Pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis Wed, 29 Jul 2015 07:00:39 +0000 Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune and neurodegenerative disease of unknown etiology. Leukocyte infiltration of brain tissue and the subsequent inflammation, demyelination, axonal damage, and formation of sclerotic plaques is a hallmark of MS. Upregulation of proinflammatory cytokines has been suggested to play an essential role in regulating lymphocyte migration in MS. Here we present data on serum cytokine expression in MS cases. Increased serum levels of IL-17 and IL-23 were observed, suggesting activation of the Th17 population of immune effector cells. Additionally, increased levels of IL-22 were observed in the serum of those with acute phase MS. Unexpectedly, we observed an upregulation of the serum chemokine CCL27 in newly diagnosed and acute MS cases. CCL27 is an inflammatory chemokine associated with homing of memory T cells to sites of inflammation. Therefore, its upregulation in association with MS suggests a potential role in disease pathogenesis. Our data supports previous reports showing IL-17 and -23 upregulation in association with MS and potentially identify a previously unknown involvement for CCL27. Svetlana F. Khaiboullina, Aigul R. Gumerova, Irina F. Khafizova, Ekaterina V. Martynova, Vincent C. Lombardi, Saverio Bellusci, and Albert A. Rizvanov Copyright © 2015 Svetlana F. Khaiboullina et al. All rights reserved. Insights into Neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s Disease: From Biomarkers to Anti-Inflammatory Based Therapies Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:48:16 +0000 Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder worldwide, being characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Among several putative factors that may contribute to PD pathogenesis, inflammatory mechanisms may play a pivotal role. The involvement of microglial activation as well as of brain and peripheral immune mediators in PD pathophysiology has been reported by clinical and experimental studies. These inflammatory biomarkers evaluated by imaging techniques and/or by biological sample analysis have become valuable tools for PD diagnosis and prognosis. Regardless of the significant increase in the number of people suffering from PD, there are still no established disease-modifying or neuroprotective therapies for it. There is growing evidence of protective effect of anti-inflammatory drugs on PD development. Herein, we reviewed the current literature regarding the central nervous system and peripheral immune biomarkers in PD and advances in diagnostic and prognostic tools as well as the neuroprotective effects of anti-inflammatory therapies. Natália Pessoa Rocha, Aline Silva de Miranda, and Antônio Lúcio Teixeira Copyright © 2015 Natália Pessoa Rocha et al. All rights reserved. Oligoclonal Bands in Cerebrospinal Fluid of Black Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:48:02 +0000 Genetic susceptibility is a well-recognized factor in the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS). The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of oligoclonal bands (OCB) restricted to the cerebrospinal fluid, in an ethnically mixed group of MS patients in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Techniques used to detect OCB consisted of isoelectric focusing followed by immunoblotting. OCB were found in 49 (54.4%) out of 90 patients with clinically definite MS; out of the 23 brown/black patients, 17 (73.9%) were OCB+; out of the 66 white patients, 32 (48.5%) were OCB+; and the only patient yellow was OCB+ (). Analysis of the IgG index was also consistent with the findings, but with lower statistical significance. The data presented in our study show that the ethnic differences in MS extend to the immune response. Paulo Diniz da Gama, Luís dos Ramos Machado, José Antonio Livramento, Hélio Rodrigues Gomes, Tarso Adoni, Rogério de Rizo Morales, Rodrigo Assad Diniz da Gama, Daniel Assad Diniz da Gama, Marco Aurélio Lana-Peixoto, Yara Dadalti Fragoso, and Dagoberto Callegaro Copyright © 2015 Paulo Diniz da Gama et al. All rights reserved. A Comparison of Food Supply from 1984 to 2009 and Degree of Dietary Westernization in Taiwan with Asian Countries and World Continents Wed, 29 Jul 2015 06:37:42 +0000 Objective. To compare quality, quantity, and trends of food supply from 1984 to 2009 and degree of food westernization in Taiwan with Asian countries and world continents by using food balance data. Methods. We compiled data from food balance sheets of Taiwan and Food and Agriculture Organization, including five continents and three most populated countries each in Eastern, Southern, and Southeastern Asia over the period 1984–2009. Quantity of food supply per capita was referenced to Taiwan food guides. The population-weighted means of food supply from Europe, North America, South America, and Australia and New Zealand continents in terms of energy and nutrient distributions, animal/plant sources, and sugar/alcohol contribution were used as indicators of westernization. Trends of food supply per capita of six food groups were plotted, and linear regression was applied to evaluate food changes. Findings. Taiwan’s food supply provided sufficient quantity in food energy, with the lowest cereals/roots supply and rice to wheat ratio, but the highest meat and oil supplies per capita among the 10 studied Asian countries. Taiwan food supply showed the most westernization among these countries. Conclusion. Food supply of Taiwan, although currently sufficient, indicated some security problems and high tendency of diet westernization. Cheau-Jane Peng, Cheng-Yao Lin, and How-Ran Guo Copyright © 2015 Cheau-Jane Peng et al. All rights reserved. Increased Standardised Incidence Ratio of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in Taiwanese Asbestos Workers: A 29-Year Retrospective Cohort Study Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:29:52 +0000 Objective. This paper aimed to determine the standardised incidence ratio (SIR) of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) in workers exposed to asbestos in Taiwan. Methods. All workers employed in asbestos-related factories and registered by the Bureau of Labour Insurance between 1 March, 1950, and 31 December, 1989, were included in the study and were followed from 1 January, 1980, through 31 December, 2009. Incident cases of all cancers, including MPM (ICD-9 code: 163), were obtained from the Taiwan Cancer Registry. SIRs were calculated based on comparison with the incidence rate of the general population of Taiwan and adjusted for age, calendar period, sex, and duration of employment. Results. The highest SIR of MPM was found for male workers first employed before 1979, with a time since first employment more than 30 years (SIR 4.52, 95% CI: 2.25–8.09). After consideration of duration of employment, the SIR for male MPM was 5.78 (95% CI: 1.19–16.89) for the workers employed for more than 20 years in asbestos-related factories. Conclusions. This study corroborates the association between occupational asbestos exposure and MPM. The highest risk of MPM was found among male asbestos workers employed before 1979 and working for more than 20 years in asbestos-related factories. Cheng-Kuan Lin, Yu-Ying Chang, Jung-Der Wang, and Lukas Jyuhn-Hsiarn Lee Copyright © 2015 Cheng-Kuan Lin et al. All rights reserved. Transdermal Nicotine Application Attenuates Cardiac Dysfunction after Severe Thermal Injury Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:17:23 +0000 Background. Severe burn trauma leads to an immediate and strong inflammatory response inciting cardiac dysfunction that is associated with high morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to determine whether transdermal application of nicotine could influence the burn-induced cardiac dysfunction via its known immunomodulatory effects. Material and Methods. A standardized rat burn model was used in 35 male Sprague Dawley rats. The experimental animals were divided into a control group, a burn trauma group, a burn trauma group with additional nicotine treatment, and a sham group with five experimental animals per group. The latter two groups received nicotine administration. Using microtip catheterization, functional parameters of the heart were assessed 12 or 24 hours after infliction of burn trauma. Results. Burn trauma led to significantly decreased blood pressure (BP) values whereas nicotine administration normalized BP. As expected, burn trauma also induced a significant deterioration of myocardial contractility and relaxation parameters. After application of nicotine these adverse effects were attenuated. Conclusion. The present study showed that transdermal nicotine administration has normalizing effects on burn-induced myocardial dysfunction parameters. Further research is warranted to gain insight in molecular mechanisms and pathways and to evaluate potential treatment options in humans. Leif Claassen, Stephan Papst, Kerstin Reimers, Christina Stukenborg-Colsman, Lars Steinstraesser, Peter M. Vogt, Theresia Kraft, and Andreas D. Niederbichler Copyright © 2015 Leif Claassen et al. All rights reserved. Effect of Meteorological and Geographical Factors on the Epidemics of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Island-Type Territory, East Asia Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:15:45 +0000 Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) has threatened East Asia for more than three decades and has become an important public health issue owing to its severe sequelae and mortality among children. The lack of effective treatment and vaccine for HFMD highlights the urgent need for efficiently integrated early warning surveillance systems in the region. In this study, we try to integrate the available surveillance and weather data in East Asia to elucidate possible spatiotemporal correlations and weather conditions among different areas from low to high latitude. The general additive model (GAM) was applied to understand the association between HFMD and latitude, as well as meteorological factors for islands in East Asia, namely, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, from 2012 to 2014. The results revealed that latitude was the most important explanatory factor associated with the timing and amplitude of HFMD epidemics (). Meteorological factors including higher dew point, lower visibility, and lower wind speed were significantly associated with the rise of epidemics (). In summary, weather conditions and geographic location could play some role in affecting HFMD epidemics. Regional integrated surveillance of HFMD in East Asia is needed for mitigating the disease risk. Chang-Chun David Lee, Jia-Hong Tang, Jing-Shiang Hwang, Mika Shigematsu, and Ta-Chien Chan Copyright © 2015 Chang-Chun David Lee et al. All rights reserved. Peripheral Administration of Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha Induces Neuroinflammation and Sickness but Not Depressive-Like Behavior in Mice Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:09:11 +0000 Clinical observations indicate that activation of the TNF-α system may contribute to the development of inflammation-associated depression. Here, we tested the hypothesis that systemic upregulation of TNF-α induces neuroinflammation and behavioral changes relevant to depression. We report that a single intraperitoneal injection of TNF-α in mice increased serum and brain levels of the proinflammatory mediators TNF-α, IL-6, and MCP-1, in a dose- and time-dependent manner, but not IL-1β. Protein levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 increased in serum but not in the brain. The transient release of immune molecules was followed by glial cell activation as indicated by increased astrocyte activation in bioluminescent Gfap-luc mice and elevated immunoreactivity against the microglial marker Iba1 in the dentate gyrus of TNF-α-challenged mice. Additionally, TNF-α-injected mice were evaluated in a panel of behavioral tests commonly used to study sickness and depressive-like behavior in rodents. Our behavioral data imply that systemic administration of TNF-α induces a strong sickness response characterized by reduced locomotor activity, decreased fluid intake, and body weight loss. Depressive-like behavior could not be separated from sickness at any of the time points studied. Together, these results demonstrate that peripheral TNF-α affects the central nervous system at a neuroimmune and behavioral level. Steven Biesmans, Jan A. Bouwknecht, Luc Ver Donck, Xavier Langlois, Paul D. Acton, Patrick De Haes, Nima Davoodi, Theo F. Meert, Niels Hellings, and Rony Nuydens Copyright © 2015 Steven Biesmans et al. All rights reserved. Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Are Associated with Increased Risk of Dementia among the Elderly: A Nationwide Study Tue, 28 Jul 2015 14:06:40 +0000 Studies show a strong association between dementia and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The aim of this study was to investigate whether LUTS are a risk factor for cognitive impairment. We enrolled 50-year-old and older subjects with LUTS (LUTS[+]) () and controls without LUTS (LUTS[−]) () from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database. LUTS, dementia, and other confounding factors are defined by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification Codes. Participants were recruited from 2000 to 2004 and then followed up until death or the end of 2011. The outcome was the onset of dementia, which was assessed using Poisson regression analysis, Cox hazards models, and Kaplan-Meier survival curves. The incidence of dementia was significantly higher in the LUTS[+] group than in the LUTS[−] group (124.76 versus 77.59/1000 person-years). The increased risk of dementia related to LUTS remained significant after adjustment for potential confounders (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR): 1.61, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.47–1.76, ) and higher than that related to cerebrovascular disease (AHR: 1.43, 95% CI 1.26–1.61, ). The outcome suggests the need for early screening and appropriate intervention to help prevent cognitive impairment of patients with LUTS. Chi-Hsiang Chiang, Ming-Ping Wu, Chung-Han Ho, Shih-Feng Weng, Chien-Cheng Huang, Wan-Ting Hsieh, Ya-Wen Hsu, and Ping-Jen Chen Copyright © 2015 Chi-Hsiang Chiang et al. All rights reserved. Challenges and Strategies of Laboratory Diagnosis for Newly Emerging Influenza Viruses in Taiwan: A Decade after SARS Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:55:47 +0000 Since the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Taiwan was identified in March 2003, viral respiratory infections, in particular the influenza virus, have become a national public health concern. Taiwan would face a serious threat of public health problems if another SARS epidemic overlapped with a flu outbreak. After SARS, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control accelerated and strengthened domestic research on influenza and expanded the exchange of information with international counterparts. The capacity of influenza A to cross species barriers presents a potential threat to human health. Given the mutations of avian flu viruses such as H7N9, H6N1, and H10N8, all countries, including Taiwan, must equip themselves to face a possible epidemic or pandemic. Such preparedness requires global collaboration. Jih-Hui Lin and Ho-Sheng Wu Copyright © 2015 Jih-Hui Lin and Ho-Sheng Wu. All rights reserved. Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis: Pathogenesis and Clinical Management Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:15:33 +0000 Federico Salomone, Shira Zelber-Sagi, Fabio Galvano, and Elisa Fabbrini Copyright © 2015 Federico Salomone et al. All rights reserved. Cleft Palate, Interdisciplinary Diagnosis, and Treatment Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:48:19 +0000 Pablo Antonio Ysunza, Maria Carmen Pamplona, and Gabriela Repetto Copyright © 2015 Pablo Antonio Ysunza et al. All rights reserved. Erratum to “Localized and Sustained Delivery of Erythropoietin from PLGA Microspheres Promotes Functional Recovery and Nerve Regeneration in Peripheral Nerve Injury” Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:22:45 +0000 Wei Zhang, Yuan Gao, Yan Zhou, Jianheng Liu, Licheng Zhang, Anhua Long, Lihai Zhang, and Peifu Tang Copyright © 2015 Wei Zhang et al. All rights reserved.