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Activation of cGAS-STING pathway - A possible cause of myofiber atrophy/necrosis in dermatomyositis and immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy.

Clinical Laboratory

The objective was to investigate the expression of the cGAS-STING pathway-associated protein in idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) and to investigate whether it is related to myofiber atrophy/necrosis in patients with dermatomyositis and immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy.

Muscle specimens obtained by open biopsy from 26 IIM patients (14 with dermatomyositis (DM), 8 with immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), and 4 with other types of IIM), 4 dystrophinopathy, and 9 control patients were assessed for expression of cGAS-STING pathway members via Western blot, quantitative real-time PCR analysis (qRT-PCR), and immunochemistry. Meanwhile, analysis its location distribution througn immunochemistry.

Compared to the control group, the expression of cGAS, STING, and related molecules was obviously increased in muscle samples of IIM patients. Upregulated cGAS and STING were mainly located in the vascular structure, inflammatory infiltrates, and atrophic and necrotic fibers. While comparing to the Dys patients, the mRNA level of cGAS, STING, and TNF-a was upregulated, meanwhile, the protein of the TBK1, P-TBK1, and P-IRF3 associated with interferon upregulation was overexpressed through Western blot in IMNM and DM. Considering that cGAS and STING are located in necrotic and Mx1-positive atrophic fibers, it is really possible that the cGAS-STING pathway may lead to fibers atrophy/necrosis by producing IFNs.

The cGAS-STING pathway was activated in the muscle samples of IIM patients and its activation may be the reason of myofiber atrophy and necrosis in DM and IMNM patients.

Is pre-heat necessary for the measurement of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanosine and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine in urine samples.

Clinical Laboratory

It is currently unclear for the necessary of pre-heating urine samples for the accurate determination of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanosine (8-oxoG) and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG). Thus, we conducted this study to evaluate the effect of pre-heat (i.e., to 37°C) on the accurate measurement of 8-oxoG and 8-oxodG in frozen urine samples.

Random urine samples from six healthy volunteers, six patients with renal dysfunction, and six patients with systematic diseases such as diabetes were collected, split, and stored at -80°C for up to 1 month. The frozen samples were thawed at room temperature (RT) or 37°C for different time, 10-fold diluted with ddH2O containing 1% formic acid, and determined by self-established LC-MS/MS method coupled with an ACQUITY™ Primer HSS T3 column.

Thawing the samples at RT for 30 or 120 min, or at 37°C for 15 or 90 min did not affect the determination of 8-oxoG and 8-oxodG in urine samples. Moreover, no significant difference between thawing the urine samples at RT and 37°C was found after storing at -80°C for 1-3 months.

It is not always necessary to pre-heat the frozen urine samples to release 8-oxoG and 8-oxodG from precipitates, which is associated with different pre-treatment and determination methods.

Involvement of microRNAs and their potential diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic role in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Clinical Laboratory

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for 85%-90% of primary liver cancer. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression by targeting the 3'UTR of mRNA. Abnormal expression and regulation of miRNAs are involved in the occurrence and progression of HCC, and miRNAs can also play a role in the diagnosis and treatment of HCC as oncogenes or tumor suppressors.

In the past decades, a large number of studies have shown that miRNAs play an essential regulatory role in HCC and have potential as biomarkers for HCC. We reviewed the literature to summarize these studies.

By reviewing the literature, we retrospected the roles of miRNAs in the development, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of HCC, and put forward prospects for the further research on miRNAs in the precision treatment of HCC.

MicroRNAs are important regulators and biomarkers in the occurrence, progression, outcome, and treatment of HCC, and can provide new targets and strategies for improving the therapeutic effect of HCC.

Decreased serum interleukin-41/Metrnl levels in patients with Graves' disease.

Clinical Laboratory

Interleukin (IL)-41, also known as Metrnl, is a novel immunomodulatory cytokine, which is involved in the pathogenesis of many inflammatory and metabolic diseases, but its role in thyroid autoimmune diseases is not clear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the serum IL-41 levels in patients with Graves' disease (GD) and its relationship with GD.

This study included a total of 49 GD patients and 47 age- and sex-matched healthy individuals. All baseline data were obtained by physical examination. Free triiodothyronine 3 (FT3), free triiodothyronine 4 (FT4), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), anti-thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb), thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb), and thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) levels in plasma of GD patients were measured by chemiluminescence. The high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and white blood cell count (WBC) were detected using automated biochemical analyzer. Serum IL-41 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Serum IL-41 levels in patients with GD were significantly lower than those in healthy controls (201.0 vs. 260.8 pg/mL, p < 0.05). There was a significant positive correlation between IL-41 level and CRP (r = 0.2947, p = 0.0385) and WBC (r = 0.4104, p = 0.0034) in GD patients. CRP was positively correlated with TRAb (r = 0.2874, p = 0.0452) and TSH (r = 0.3651, p = 0.0099) levels in GD patients.

This study demonstrates that GD patients have decreased serum IL-41 levels, and IL-41 plays a potential role in abnormal immune response of GD patients.

ICAT promotes colorectal cancer metastasis via binding to JUP and activating the NF-κB signaling pathway.

Clinical Laboratory

The inhibitor of β-catenin and T-cell factor (ICAT) is a direct negative regulator of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway, which is an attractive therapeutic target for colorectal cancer (CRC). Accumulating evidence suggests that ICAT interacts with other proteins to exert additional functions, which are not yet fully elucidated.

The overexpression of ICAT of CRC cells was conducted by lentivirus infection and plasmids transfection and verified by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR) and Western blotting. The effect of ICAT on the mobility of CRC cells was assessed by wound healing assay and transwell assay in vitro and lung metastasis in vivo. New candidate ICAT-interacting proteins were explored and verified using the STRING database, silver staining, co-immunoprecipitation mass spectrometry analysis (Co-IP/MS), and immunofluorescence (IF) staining analysis.

Inhibitor of β-catenin and T-cell factor overexpression promoted in vitro cell migration and invasion and tumor metastasis in vivo. Co-IP/MS analysis and STRING database analyses revealed that junction plakoglobin (JUP), a homolog of β-catenin, was involved in a novel protein interaction with ICAT. Furthermore, JUP downregulation impaired ICAT-induced migration and invasion of CRC cells. In addition, ICAT overexpression activated the NF-κB signaling pathway, which led to enhanced CRC cell migration and invasion.

Inhibitor of β-catenin and T-cell factor promoted CRC cell migration and invasion by interacting with JUP and the NF-κB signaling pathway. Thus, ICAT could be considered a protein diagnostic biomarker for predicting the metastatic ability of CRC.

The diagnostic importance of multiple cytokines in adult hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

Clinical Laboratory

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a category of immunological illnesses that cause out-of-control T cells and macrophages to release life-threatening cytokines. The HLH-2004 diagnostic criteria are the gold standard for HLH diagnosis, but there is a need to investigate the usefulness of various cytokines for HLH diagnosis.

Patients admitted to Beijing Friendship Hospital of Capital Medical University from January 2016 to December 2020 were included in this retrospective study, with 166 patients with confirmed HLH and 142 febrile patients requiring differential diagnosis completing the sum. Multiplex cytokine assays using multifactor liquid phase microarray technology-based multifactor liquid phase microarray technology were used to detect 33 cytokines. Twenty-eight cytokines detected using the Luminex analytical platform technology were ultimately included in the analysis.

Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1 RA), IL-18, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and interferon-induced protein 10 (IP-10) regulated upon activation normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES), eotaxin, growth-related oncogene α (GRO-α), and macrophage inflammatory protein-1 α (MIP-1α) were higher in the HLH group than in the non-HLH group, and the differences were statistically significant. Among them, the area under the curve (AUC) for IL-18 for HLH diagnosis was reported for the first time as 82.69%, with a sensitivity of 76.32% and a specificity of 79.61%; the AUC of IL-1 RA was 72.34%, with a sensitivity of 62.71% and a specificity of 75.97%; and the AUC of IP-10 was 71.73%, with a sensitivity of 60.14% and a specificity of 75.15%. Moreover, the AUC of the combined diagnostic tests for IL-1 RA, IL-18, IFN-γ, IP-10, and RANTES was 99.6%, with a sensitivity of 95.8% and a specificity of 98.6%.

Our study concluded that multiple cytokines are valid biological markers for the diagnosis of HLH. The findings of this study remain to be validated in an external dataset.

Coinfections with multiple sexually transmitted pathogens in Republic of Korea, 2018-2020.

Clinical Laboratory

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have serious consequences, and the global STI incidence remains high. However, there is little information on the frequency of STIs with multiple pathogens according to age. Accordingly, we conducted a study to determine the trends of coinfection with sexually transmitted pathogens according to age in the Republic of Korea from 2018 to 2020.

From January 2018 to December 2020, 65,191 samples of swab, urine, and other types submitted for STI screening were obtained from U2Bio Co. Ltd. (Seoul, Republic of Korea). Multiplex polymerase chain reaction, a sensitive and rapid method for simultaneous detection of STIs caused by multiple different pathogens, was performed using an AccuPower STI4C-Plex Real-Time PCR kit, AccuPower STI8A-Plex Real-Time PCR kit, and AccuPower STI8B-Plex Real-Time PCR kit with an Exicycler 96 Real-Time Quantitative Thermal Block.

Of the 65,191 samples tested, 35,366 (54.3%) tested positive for one or more sexually transmitted pathogens. The prevalence of coinfections with two or more sexually transmitted pathogens was inversely proportional to age. Furthermore, the rates of coinfection with sexually transmitted pathogens and age distribution differed according to sex and the sexually transmitted pathogen type.

This study confirmed that a significant proportion of patients with STIs are coinfected with multiple pathogens. Public health managers could use these results to recognize and prevent STIs according to age.

Strategies to shorten turnaround time in outpatient laboratory.

Clinical Laboratory

Turnaround time (TAT) is one of the most important indicators of laboratory quality. For the outpatient routine chemistry tests whose results are checked by clinicians on the same day, we set a quality goal that >90% of these samples should be reported within 60 min. As more than 20% of the samples failed to achieve this goal in 2020, we introduced an additional autoanalyzer and a real-time monitoring system to improve this rate.

As the TAT of the pre-analytical phase is the greatest contributor to TAT, we divided it into sampling, sample transport, and sample preparation times. An additional autoanalyzer was introduced, and its effect on TAT improvement was evaluated with the TAT data of June and July 2020. A real-time monitoring system was introduced to sort delayed samples, and its effect was assessed with the TAT data of June and July 2021. TAT data from December 2019 to January 2020 were set as baseline controls.

The preparation time comprised the largest proportion of TAT. Although there was a slight decrease in overall TAT after the introduction of the above two strategies, the target TAT achievement rate increased significantly from 78.5% to 88.7% (p < 0.001).

We checked the cause of TAT prolongation and introduced new strategies to improve it. The addition of an autoanalyzer per se was not so effective but was better when combined with the real-time monitoring system. Such strategies would increase the quality of the laboratory services.

MALT1 reflects inflammatory cytokines, disease activity, and its chronological change could estimate treatment response to infliximab in Crohn's disease patients.

Clinical Laboratory

Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma translocation protein 1 (MALT1) mediates the immunity and inflammatory response in multiple ways to be intimately involved in the progression of autoimmune diseases. This study intended to explore the linkage of MALT1 with inflammation, disease activity, and its change with infliximab treatment response in Crohn's disease (CD) patients.

MALT1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cell samples from 72 active CD patients (at baseline, 2 weeks [W2], W6, and W12 after infliximab treatment), 20 remissive CD patients (after enrollment), and 20 healthy controls (after enrollment) were detected by RT-qPCR.

MALT1 was highest in active CD patients, followed by remissive CD patients, and lowest in healthy controls (p < 0.001). MALT1 was positively linked with C-reactive protein (p = 0.001), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (p = 0.014), clinical disease activity index (p = 0.003), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α (p = 0.006), interleukin (IL)-1β (p = 0.049), and IL-17A (p = 0.004), but not other clinical characteristics (all p > 0.05) in active CD patients. After infliximab treatment, MALT1 was decreased from baseline to W12 in active CD patients (p < 0.001), especially in responders (p < 0.001), but not in nonresponders (p = 0.053). The reduction of MALT1 at W6 (p = 0.049) and W12 (p = 0.004) was associated with a good treatment response to infliximab in active CD patients. Moreover, the response rate or MALT1 at any time point was not different between active CD patients with and without TNFi history (all p > 0.05).

MALT1 reflects aggravated inflammation and disease activity. Meanwhile, the decrement of MALT1 from baseline to W12 could reflect infliximab treatment response in CD patients.

Evaluation of different DNA extraction methods based on steel-bullet beating for molecular diagnosis of onychomycosis.

Clinical Laboratory

Considering increased trends toward molecular methods for detection/identification of fungi causing onychomycosis, the aim of this study is comparison three DNA extraction methods based on steel-bullet beating to extract DNA from nail.

Ex -vivo onychomycosis model was developed using bovine hoof with Candida albicans and Aspergillus flavus. For two models, total DNA was extracted using the three different methods. In method 1, the extraction and purification were performed by steel-bullet beating and phenol chloroform protocol, respectively. In method 2, a freezing step were applied before beating. The purification step in method 3 was carried out using a commercial kit, although DNA extraction was done similarly to method 1 in that approach. To evaluate the efficacy of each method, the extracted genomic DNA was amplified with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) using Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) regions. Moreover, 50 nail samples were evaluated for onychomycosis using direct microscopy examination as well as PCR in order to evaluate the diagnostic efficiency of the optimal DNA extraction method.

Regarding the desirable quality of the extracted DNA, cost effectiveness, and simplicity, method 1 could be used to extract DNA effectively. Additionally, the obtained data showed that PCR had a higher detection rate of fungal agents in the nail samples than direct microscopic examination.

This study demonstrated that the mechanical disruption of the cell wall by steel-bullet beating is a useful and practical method to improve the quantity and quality of fungal DNA thorough the extraction process.

Upregulation of hsa_circ_0004812 promotes COVID-19 cytokine storm via hsa-miR-1287-5p/IL6R, RIG-I axis.

Clinical Laboratory

SARS-CoV-2 is one of the most contagious viruses in the Coronaviridae (CoV) family, which has become a pandemic. The aim of this study is to understand more about the role of hsa_circ_0004812 in the SARS-CoV-2 related cytokine storm and its associated molecular mechanisms.

cDNA synthesis was performed after total RNA was extracted from the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 46 patients with symptomatic COVID-19, 46 patients with asymptomatic COVID-19, and 46 healthy controls. The expression levels of hsa_circ_0004812, hsa-miR-1287-5p, IL6R, and RIG-I were determined using qRT-PCR, and the potential interaction between these molecules was confirmed by bioinformatics tools and correlation analysis.

hsa_circ_0004812, IL6R, and RIG-I are expressed higher in the severe symptom group compared with the negative control group. Also, the relative expression of these genes in the asymptomatic group is lower than in the severe symptom group. The expression level of hsa-miR-1287-5p was positively correlated with symptoms in patients. The results of the bioinformatics analysis predicted the sponging effect of hsa_circ_0004812 as a competing endogenous RNA on hsa-miR-1287-5p. Moreover, there was a significant positive correlation between hsa_circ_0004812, RIG-I, and IL-6R expressions, and also a negative expression correlation between hsa_circ_0004812 and hsa-miR-1287-5p and between hsa-miR-1287-5p, RIG-I, and IL-6R.

The results of this in-vitro and in silico study show that hsa_circ_0004812/hsa-miR-1287-5p/IL6R, RIG-I can play an important role in the outcome of COVID-19.

GLP1R inhibits the progression of endometrial carcinoma through activation of cAMP/PKA pathway.

Clinical Laboratory

This study strived to explore the role and mechanism of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP1R) in endometrial carcinoma (EC).

In detail, after transfection of GLP1R overexpression vector and small interfering RNA targeting PKA, the mRNA expressions of GLP1R and PKA in EC cells (Ishikawa and RL95-2) were quantified by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The cell biological behaviors, including proliferation, migration, invasion, and apoptosis, were detected using 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU), wound healing, transwell, and flow cytometry assays, respectively. The cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) content and related protein expressions (GLP1R, p-PKA, and PKA) were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and western blot. The effects of GLP1R and PKA on tumorigenesis were evaluated by measuring the tumor volume and weight of mice bearing EC.

According to the results, GLP1R expression was downregulated in EC tissues and cells, and there was a positive correlation between GLP1R and PKA expressions. Upregulation of GLP1R promoted apoptosis and activated the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway in EC cells, while hindering the EC cell proliferation, invasion, migration, and the growth of tumor in mice. However, these effects were blunted by downregulation of PKA, which also accelerated the progression of EC in vitro and in vivo via inhibiting the activation of cAMP/PKA signaling pathway.

Collectively, upregulation of GLP1R impeded EC progression via inducing the activation of cAMP/PKA signaling pathway, which may be a potential treatment for EC.