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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) evolutionarily first appear in the genome of sea lamprey. The most ancient melanocortin system consists of only two melanocortin receptors (slMCa and slMCb) and one MRAP2 (slMRAP2) protein, but the physiological roles have not been fully explored in this primitive species. Here, we synthesize and characterize the pharmacological features of slMRAP2 protein on two slMCRs. Our results show that the slMRAP2 protein lacks the long carboxyl terminus; it directly interacts and decreases the surface expression but enhances the α-MSH-induced agonism of slMCa and slMCb. In comparison with higher organisms such as elephant shark and zebrafish, we also demonstrate the constantly evolving regulatory function of the carboxyl terminus of MRAP2 protein, the unique antiparallel topology of slMRAP2 dimer and the homo- and hetero-dimerization of two slMCRs. This study elucidates the presence and modulation of melanocortin receptor by the accessory protein of the agnathans for the first time, which provides a better insight of the melanocortin system in ancient species of chordates.

Open access

Yue-Yue Wang, Qian Wu, Lu Chen, Wen Chen, Tao Yang, Xiao-Quan Xu, Fei-Yun Wu, Hao Hu, and Huan-Huan Chen

Purpose: To evaluate the value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based texture analysis of extraocular muscle (EOM) and orbital fat (OF) in monitoring and predicting the response to glucocorticoid (GC) therapy in patients with thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO).

Methods: Thirty-seven active and moderate-to-severe TAO patients (responders, n=23; unresponders, n=14) were retrospectively enrolled. MRI-based texture parameters (entropy, uniformity, skewness and kurtosis) of EOM and OF were measured before and after GC therapy, and compared between groups. Correlations between the changes of clinical activity score (CAS) and imaging parameters before and after treatment were assessed. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate the predictive value of identified variables.

Results: Responsive TAOs showed significantly decreased entropy and increased uniformity at EOM and OF after GC therapy (p<0.01), while unresponders showed no significance. Changes of entropy and uniformity at EOM and OF were significantly correlated with changes of CAS before and after treatment (p<0.05). Responders showed significantly lower entropy and higher uniformity at EOM than unresponders before treatment (p<0.01). Entropy and uniformity of EOM and disease duration were identified as independent predictors for responsive TAOs. Combination of all three variables demonstrated optimal efficiency (area under curve, 0.802) and sensitivity (82.6%), and disease duration alone demonstrated optimal specificity (100%) for predicting responsive TAOs.

Conclusion: MRI-based texture analysis can reflect histopathological heterogeneity of orbital tissues. It could be useful for monitoring and predicting the response to GC in TAO patients.

Open access

Chunyun Fu, Shiyu Luo, Yingfeng Li, Qifei Li, Xuehua Hu, Mengting Li, Yue Zhang, Jiasun Su, Xuyun Hu, Yun Chen, Jin Wang, Bobo Xie, Jingsi Luo, Xin Fan, Shaoke Chen, and Yiping Shen


The incidence of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) differs significantly among different ethnicities and regions, and early differentiation of transient CH is important to avoid unnecessary prolonged treatment with L-T4.


To investigate the incidence of CH based on the newborn screening program in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, and to analyze the predictors that might allow for an early differentiation between permanent (P) and transient (T) CH.

Design and methods

Data from newborn screening program over a seven-year period (January 2009 to January 2016) at Guangxi Maternal and Child Health Hospital are analyzed. Blood samples were collected on filter paper between 3 and 7 days after birth, and TSH level was measured by time-resolved fluorescence assay. Individuals with increased TSH (TSH ≥ 8 IU/L) levels detected by newborn screening were recalled for further evaluation. Serum TSH, FT3 and FT4 were determined by electrochemiluminescence assay using venous blood samples. Diagnosis of CH is based on elevated TSH levels (>10 IU/L) and decreased FT4 levels (<12 pmol/L). Patients with elevated TSH levels and normal FT4 levels were diagnosed as hyperthyrotropinemia. Permanent or transient CH was determined by using the results of thyroid function tests after temporary withdrawal of L-T4 therapy at approximately 2–3 years of age.


Among 1,238,340 infants in the newborn screening program, 14,443 individuals were recalled for reevaluation (re-call rate 1.18%), 911 and 731 individuals were subsequently determined to have hyperthyrotropinemia and CH respectively; thus, a prevalence of 1:1359 and 1:1694 for hyperthyrotropinemia and CH. Of the 731 patients with CH, 161 patients were diagnosed with permanent CH (PCH), and 159 patients were diagnosed with transient CH (TCH), the other 411 patients are too young to determine their subtypes. Patients with PCH required an increasing dose of L-T4 during the first few years, whereas patients with TCH required a decreased dose of L-T4. The TSH levels at diagnosis and the dose of L-T4 used were significantly higher in PCH cases than in transient cases. The FT4 levels at diagnosis were significantly lower in PCH cases than in TCH cases. The TSH levels at diagnosis, FT4 levels at diagnosis and L-T4 doses at 90 days were evaluated as predictors for differentiating PCH and TCH, and their accuracy at their respective optimal cutoffs were determined to be 60.6%, 66.7% and 93.9%, respectively.


The CH incidence in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is slightly higher (1:1694) compared to the worldwide levels (1/2000–1/4000). The PCH and TCH ratio is close to 1; thus, the estimated PCH incidence is 1/3388, which is similar to reported worldwide average incidence (1/3000). The L-T4 dose required at 90 days (>30 μg/day) has the highest predictive value for PCH. Earlier differentiation of PCH and TCH helps to determine appropriate treatment course.