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Open access

Ming Zhu, Bingxin Xu, Meng Wang, Shangyun Liu, Yue Zhang and Chao Zhang

Melanocortin receptors (MCRs) and their accessory proteins (MRAPs) first appeared evolutionarily in the sea lamprey genome. However, the physiological roles had not been fully explored. The ancient sea lamprey melanocortin system owns two MCRs (MCa and MCb) and the MRAP2 (slMRAP2) proteins lack the carboxyl-terminus. First, we characterized the pharmacological profiles of sea lamprey MRAP2 protein on the melanocortin receptors. Next, we verified the ability of dimer formation of two sea lamprey MCRs. Our results showed that slMRAP2 could interact with MCa and MCb, decrease the slMCa and slMCb surface expression, but enhance their signaling stimulated by α-melanocyte stimulating hormones (α-MSH). The regulatory role of MRAP2 is constantly evolving in comparison with the different carboxyl-terminus of higher organisms. We also found that the sea lamprey MRAP2 and MCRs had the capacity to form homodimers. This study first elucidates the presence and regulation of MRAP2 on MCRs in agnathas, which provides better insight of the melanocortin system in ancient species.

Open access

Chao-bin He, Yu Zhang, Zhi-yuan Cai and Xiao-jun Lin


The role of surgery in the treatment of metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) was controversial. The objectives of this study were to illustrate the impact of surgery in improving the prognosis of patients with metastatic PNETs and build nomograms to predict overall survival (OS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS) based on a large population-based cohort.


Patients diagnosed with metastatic PNETs between 2004 and 2015 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database were retrospectively collected. Nomograms for estimating OS and CSS were established based on Cox regression model and Fine and Grey’s model. The precision of the nomograms was evaluated and compared using concordance index (C-index) and the area under receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC).


The study cohort included 1966 patients with metastatic PNETs. It was shown that the surgery provided survival benefit for all groups of patients with metastatic PNETs. In the whole study cohort, 1-, 2- and 3-year OS and CSS were 51.5, 37.1 and 29.4% and 53.0, 38.9 and 31.1%, respectively. The established nomograms were well calibrated, and had good discriminative ability, with C-indexes of 0.773 for OS prediction and 0.774 for CSS prediction.


Patients with metastatic PNETs could benefit from surgery when the surgery tolerance was acceptable. The established nomograms could stratify patients who were categorized as tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) IV stage into groups with diverse prognoses, showing better discrimination and calibration of the established nomograms, compared with 8th TNM stage system in predicting OS and CSS for patients with metastatic PNETs.

Open access

Chao Xu, Xiang-Fei Li, Hong-Yan Tian, Hua-Juan Shi, Ding-Dong Zhang, Kenneth Prudence Abasubong and Wen-Bin Liu

After a 12-week feeding trial, the glucose tolerance test was performed in Megalobrama amblycephala to evaluate the effects of metformin on the metabolic responses of glycolipids. Plasma insulin peaked at 2 h, then decreased to the basal value at 8–12 h post-injection. Plasma triglyceride levels and liver glycogen contents of the control group was decreased significantly during the first 2 and 1 h, respectively. Then, they returned to basal values at 12 h. During the whole sampling period, the high-carbohydrate groups had significantly higher levels of plasma metabolites and liver glycogen than those of the control group, and metformin supplementation enhanced these changes (except insulin levels). Glucose administration lowered the transcriptions of ampk α1, ampk α2, pepck, g6pase, fbpase, cpt IA and aco, the phosphorylation of Ampk α and the activities of the gluconeogenic enzymes during the first 2–4 h, while the opposite was true of glut 2, gs, gk, pk, accα and fas. High-carbohydrate diets significantly increased the transcriptions of ampk α1, ampk α2, glut 2, gs, gk, pk, accα and fas, the phosphorylation of Ampk α and the activities of the glycolytic enzymes during the whole sampling period, while the opposite was true for the remaining indicators. Furthermore, metformin significantly upregulated the aforementioned indicators (except accα and fas) and the transcriptions of cpt IA and aco. Overall, metformin benefits the glucose homeostasis of Megalobrama amblycephala fed high-carbohydrate diets through the activation of Ampk and the stimulation of glycolysis, glycogenesis and fatty acid oxidation, while depressing gluconeogenesis and lipogenesis.

Open access

Peng Fan, Chao-Xia Lu, Di Zhang, Kun-Qi Yang, Pei-Pei Lu, Ying Zhang, Xu Meng, Su-Fang Hao, Fang Luo, Ya-Xin Liu, Hui-Min Zhang, Lei Song, Jun Cai, Xue Zhang and Xian-Liang Zhou

Liddle syndrome (LS), a monogenetic autosomal dominant disorder, is mainly characterized by early-onset hypertension and hypokalemia. Clinically, misdiagnosis or missing diagnosis is common, since clinical phenotypes of LS are variable and nonspecific. We report a family with misdiagnosis of primary aldosteronism (PA), but identify as LS with a pathogenic frameshift mutation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) β subunit. DNA samples were collected from a 32-year-old proband and 31 other relatives in the same family. A designed panel including 41 genes associated with monogenic hypertension was screened using next-generation sequencing. The best candidate disease-causing variants were verified by Sanger sequencing. Genetic analysis of the proband revealed a novel frameshift mutation c.1838delC (p.Pro613Glnfs*675) in exon 13 of SCNN1B. This heterozygous mutation involved the deletion of a cytosine from a string of three consecutive cytosines located at codons 612 to 613 and resulted in deletion of the crucial PY motif and elongation of the β-ENaC protein. The identical mutation was also found in 12 affected family members. Amiloride was effective in alleviating LS for patients. There were no SCNN1A or SCNN1G mutations in this family. Our study emphasizes the importance of considering LS in the differential diagnosis of early-onset hypertension. The identification of a novel frameshift mutation of SCNN1B enriches the genetic spectrum of LS and has allowed treatment of this affected family to prevent severe complications.

Open access

Zeming Liu, Di Hu, Yihui Huang, Sichao Chen, Wen Zeng, Ling Zhou, Wei Zhou, Min Wang, Haifeng Feng, Wei Wei, Chao Zhang, Danyang Chen and Liang Guo


Controversies regarding factors associated with distant metastasis in pediatric thyroid cancer remain among the scientific community. The aim of this study was to investigate factors influencing distant metastasis in pediatric thyroid cancer.


We reviewed 1376 patients (aged 2 to 18 years) with thyroid cancer treated between 2003 and 2014. Data collected and analyzed included sex, race, age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, pathological type, number of tumor foci, tumor extension, T-stage, N-stage, surgical procedure and radiation. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to evaluate factors influencing distant metastasis of pediatric thyroid cancer.


In the univariate analysis, factors influencing distant metastasis of thyroid cancer were age at diagnosis (P < 0.001), N-stage (P < 0.001), number of tumor foci (P = 0.003), tumor extension (P < 0.001) and T-stage (T1 vs T2 (P = 0.803), T3 (P < 0.001) and T4 (P < 0.001)). In multivariate analysis, factors influencing distant metastasis of thyroid cancer were age at diagnosis (P = 0.001), N-stage (P < 0.001) and T-stage (T1 vs T3 (P = 0.036) and T4 (P < 0.001)). Sex, race, year of diagnosis, pathological type, number of tumor foci, tumor extension, surgical procedure and radiation had no significant influence on distant metastasis (all P > 0.05). Furthermore, according to chi-squared test, younger pediatric thyroid cancer patients with higher T- and N-stages are more likely to have distant metastasis.


Age at diagnosis, T-stage and N-stage influence distant metastasis of thyroid cancer patients aged 2 to 18 years; accordingly, more radical treatments may need to be used for patients with those risk elements.