2005 Vol. 18, No. 1

Select articles
Relationship Between Ambient Air Pollution and Daily Mortality of SARS in Beijing
2005, 18(1): 1-4.
Objective To study the relationship between ambient air pollution and daily mortality of SARS in Beijing. Methods The approach of time-series Poisson regression was used to assess the relationship between daily SARS mortality, ambient air pollution, and other factors from April 25 to May 31, 2003 in Beijing. Results An increase of each 10 μμg/m3 over a 5-day moving average of PM10, SO2 and NO2 corresponded to 1.06 (1.00-1.12), 0.74 (0.48-1.13) and 1.22 (1.01-1.48) relative risks (RRs) of daily SARS mortality, respectively. The relative risks (RRs) values depended largely on the selection of lag days. Conclusion The daily mortality of SARS might be associated with certain air pollutants in Beijing.
Effect of Salinity Variations on the Performance of Activated Sludge System
2005, 18(1): 5-8.
Objective To investigate the influence of salinity variations on the performance of activated sludge systems, treating domestic wastewater. Methods The completely mixed reactor was used and operated in a batch-wise mode. The activated sludge taken from the Gaobeidian Wastewater Treatment Plant was used as a seeding sludge. Total organic carbon (TOC), oxygen uptake rate (OUR) and suspended solids (SS) were used as parameters to characterize the performance of the treatment systems. TOC was measured using a TOC-analyzer (TOC-5000, Japan). The OUR value was measured with a dissolved oxygen meter (YSI model-58). SS was measured gravimetrically. Results The TOC removal efficiency and the OUR value of activated sludge were not deteriorated when the NaCl shock concentration was less than 0.5 g/L. However, when the NaCl shock concentrations were up to 10g/L and 20 g/L, the OUR of activated sludge was reduced by 35% and TOC removal efficiency was dropped by 30%, compared with the control experiment without NaCl shock loading. Conclusion The effect of NaCl shock loading on the activated sludge wastewater treatment system is dependant upon the NaCl concentrations and the degree of influence can be inferred through the change of substrate utilization rate at different shock NaCl loadings.
Serial Analysis of Gene Expression in Monascus aurantiacus Producing Citrinin
2005, 18(1): 9-14.
Objective To construct a tag expression library of Monascus aurantiacus that could produce citrinin maximally on the thirteenth (0.966 mg/mL) day in the submerged culture. Methods Total RNA was extracted from the mycelium, cDNA was synthesized using the SuperScript choice system, and then, a SAGE library was successfully constructed according to the MicroSAGE method. Results Five hundred and ninety eight clones were obtained in SAGE library, and 120 clones were picked out randomly for identification and sequencing purpose. Eighty nine clones had positive inserts, 26 clones had no inserts and the remaining 5 clones had no site of NlaⅢ enzyme in inserts. There were seven repeated clones. Conclusion With the aid of SAGE2000 software, 901 tags were obtained from 89 clones, representing 686 unique transcripts. Six unique tags of them belong to highly expressed genes (Number of tags≥10) and 143 unique tags to moderately expressed genes (repeat tags≥2).
Lead Accumulation in Surface Soils and Components of Balenites Aegyptica Specie in a Katsina Urban Area, Nigeria
2005, 18(1): 15-20.
Objective The main objective of this paper is to assess the impact of various vehicular traffic densities on lead (Pb) accumulations in some environmental components in Katsina, a semi-arid urban area of Nigeria. Methods This was achieved by collecting and analyzing samples of surface soils, fruits, kernels, leaves, and barks of Balenites aegyptica from locations of different vehicular traffic densities in the area, and analyzing them for lead, using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Results The results obtained revealed that the Pb concentration in the high, medium, low, and zero traffic density areas are, 75, 53, 35, and 12 μg·g-1 respectively for the fruit pulp. They are also16, 13, 8, and 6 μg·g-1 for fruit kernel and 44, 28, 17, and 9μg·g-1 respectively for leaves. For tree barks, the values are 138, 97, 64, and 18 μg·g-1 respectively while for under-tree-canopy soil samples the mean values are 99, 74, 44, and 17 μg·g-1. In the case of outside-canopy soil samples, the mean values are 113, 91, 50, and 18 μg·g-1 respectively for the various classes of vehicular traffic density. Conclusion These results indicate a strong influence of vehicular traffic density on Pb emission into surrounding atmosphere and its subsequent precipitation on soil and components of B. Aegyptica specie in the area. Of all the samples, tree bark should be the best index of assessing Pb pollution in the area, as it maintains the closest contact with the surrounding atmosphere. Since Pb has no known lower limit for human tolerance, there is an urgent need for Pb pollution control in the area to be effectively enforced.
Environmental Efficiency Analysis of China's Vegetable Production
2005, 18(1): 21-30.
Objective To analyze and estimate the environmental efficiency of China's vegetable production. Methods The stochastic translog frontier model was used to estimate the technical efficiency of vegetable production. Based on the estimated frontier and technical inefficiency levels, we used the method developed by Reinhard, et al.[1] to estimate the environmental efficiency. Pesticide and chemical fertilizer inputs were treated as environmentally detrimental inputs. Results From estimated results, the mean environmental efficiency for pesticide input was 69.7%, indicating a great potential for reducing pesticide use in China's vegetable production. In addition, substitution and output elasticities for vegetable farms were estimated to provide farmers with helpful information on how to reallocate input resources and improve efficiency. Conclusion There exists a great potential for reducing pesticide use in China's vegetable production.
Searching for a Schizophrenia Susceptibility Gene in the 22q11 Region
2005, 18(1): 31-35.
Objective To investigate a genetic association for schizophrenia within chromosome 22q11 in a Chinese Han population. Methods The PCR-based restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis was used to detect three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs165655 (A/G base change) and rs165815 (C/T base change) present in the ARVCF (armadillo repeat gene deletion in velocardiofacial syndrome) locus, and rs756656 (A/C base change) in the LOC128979 (expressed sequence tags, EST) locus, among 100 Chinese family trios consisting of fathers, mothers and affected offspring with schizophrenia. Genotype data were analyzed by using linkage disequilibrium (LD) methods including haplotype relative risk (HRR) analysis, transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) and haplotype transmission analysis. Results The genotype frequency distributions of three SNPs were all in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (P>0.05). Both the HRR and the TDT analysis showed that rs165815 was associated with schizophrenia (χ2=6.447, df=1, P=0.011 and χ2=6.313, df=1, P=0.012, respectively), whereas the other two SNPs did not show any allelic association. The haplotype transmission analysis showed a biased transmission for the rs165655-rs165815 haplotype system (χ2=17.224, df=3, P=0.0006) and for the rs756656- rs165655-rs165815 hapoltype system (χ2=20.965, df=7, P=0.0038). Conclusion Either the ARVCF gene itself or a nearby locus may confer susceptibility to schizophrenia in a Chinese Han population.
Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Into Dopaminergic Neuron-like Cells in vitro
2005, 18(1): 36-42.
Objective To explore the way to induce mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to differentiate into dopaminergic neurons in vitro. Methods MSCs were obtained from rat bone marrow, cultured and passaged. MSCs used in this experiment had multipotency, which was indirectly proved by being induced to differentiate into chondrocytes and adipocytes. MSCs were cultured in medium containing 0.5 mmol/L IBMX for 2 days. Then the medium was replaced with induction medium, which contained GDNF, IL-1β, mesencephalic glial-cell-conditioned medium and flash-frozen mesencephalic membrane fragments. The surface markers of the differentiated neurons, such as NSE, nestin, MAP-2a, b and TH were detected by immunocytochemistry and Western blot after MSCs were cultured in induction medium for 7 days and 15 days. Results MSCs differentiated into neural progenitors and expressed nestin after MSCs were incubated with medium containing IBMX for 2 d. After the medium was replaced with induction medium containing many inducing agents, MSCs differentiated into neuron-like cells and dopaminergic neuron-like cells and expressed NSE, MAP-2a, b and TH. The percentage of NSE-positive cells, MAP-2a, b-positive cells and TH-positive cells was 30.032±2.489%, 41.580±5.101% and 34.958±5.534%, respectively after MSCs were induced in medium containing GDNF, IL-1β, mesencephalic glial-cell-conditioned medium and flash-frozen mesencephalic membrane fragments for 15 days. Conclusion MSCs can differentiate into dopaminergic neuron-like cells and are a new cell source for the treatment of neurodegeneration diseases and have a great potential for wide application.
8-Hydroxydeoxyguanosine as a Biomarker of Oxidative DNA Damage Induced by Environmental Tobacco Side-stream Smoke and Its Mechanism
2005, 18(1): 43-47.
Objective To study the genotoxicity effect of environmental tobacco side-stream smokes (ETSS) on oxidative DNA damage and its molecular mechanism. Methods DNA adduct 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) was used as a biomarker of oxidative DNA damage. The level of 8-OHdG in DNA exposed to ETSS was detected by high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. Organic and inorganic components in ETSS were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrum and atomic absorption spectrum respectively. Results Particle matters (PMs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in ETSS could directly induce oxidative DNA damage and formation of 8-OHdG. There were 123 and 84 kinds of organic components in PMs and VOCs respectively, and 7 kinds of inorganic components in ETSS. Some components, especially quinones and polyphenols in ETSS, could produce free radicals in vitro by auto-oxidation without any biological activity systems, and with the catalytic reaction of metals, the DNA adduct 8-OHdG was produced. Conclusion ETSS have biological oxidative effect on DNA in vitro and in vivo, and expressed direct genotoxicity. 8-OHdG is a valuable biomarker of oxidative DNA damage.
A Quantitative DNA Methylation Assay Using Mismatch Hybridization and Chemiluminescence
2005, 18(1): 48-52.
Objective To develop a quantitative method for methylation analysis of the p16 gene based on mismatch hybridization and chemiluminescence. Methods Genomic DNA was modified by sodium bisulfite to convert all unmethylated but not methylated cytosines to uracil, and subsequently a pair of primer having no CpG sites was designed for amplification target DNA containing methylated or unmethylated CpG sites. The PCR product spanning CpG sites were hybridized with two oligonucleotide probes which perfectly matched the methylated and unmethylated CpG sequences respectively, and the hybrids were detected by chemiluminescent method. The percentage of methylated target sequences could be estimated by calculating the ratio of signals obtained with two probes. Results The percentage of methylation of artificial mixtures DNA showed a linear relation. There was a negative correlation between the methyaltion index with p16 transcriptional mRNA of p16 gene in tumor cell lines. Conclusion Compared with existing methods, this assay is nonisotopic, rapid, simple, and can be widely applied to the study of DNA methylation.
Quantitative structure-activity relationships for the Toxicity of Substituted Benzenes to Cyprinus carpio
2005, 18(1): 53-57.
Objective To measure the 96h-LC50 values of 32 substituted benzenes to the carp and to study the relationship between quantitative structure-activity and structural parameters of chemicals. Methods The acute toxicity values of 32 substituted benzenes to the carp were determined in a semistatic test. The energy of the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital, and the highest occupied molecular orbital, the dipole moment and the molecular weight of substituted benzenes were calculated by the quantum chemical method MOPAC6.0. Results The range of the toxicity of studied compounds was broad, and the most toxic compound was pentachlorophenol, while the least toxic compound was 4-methylaniline. By the stepwise regression analyses, a series of Quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) equations were derived from all compounds and subclasses. The equation log1/LC50=0.759logP +2.222 (R2 (adj)=0.818) was found to fit well and the average predicted percentage error was 6.16%. Conclusion The toxicity of anilines and phenols to the carp could be modeled well by logP alone, whereas the toxicity of the halogenated benzenes and nitrobenznes not containing hydroxyl or amino group can be controlled by hydrophobic and electronic factors.
Relationship Between Polymorphism of Methylenetetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase and Congenital Heart Defect
2005, 18(1): 58-64.
Objective To investigate the relationship between G1958A gene polymorphism of methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (MTHFD) and occurrence of congenital heart disease (CHD) in North China. Methods One hundred and ninety-two CHD patients and their parents were included in this study as case group in Liaoning Province by birth defect registration cards, and 124 healthy subjects (age and gender matched) and their parents were simultaneously selected from the same geographic area as control. Their gene polymorphism of MTHFD G1958A locus was examined with PCR-RFLP, and serum folic acid and homocysteine (Hcy) levels were tested with radio-immunoassay and fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA). Results There existed gene polymorphism at MTHFD G1958A locus in healthy subjects living in North China. The percentages of GG, GA, and AA genotype were 57.98%, 35.57%, and 6.45% respectively, and the A allele frequency was 24.23%, which was significantly different from Western population. No difference was observed when comparing genotype distribution and allele frequency between the case and control groups, so was the result from the comparison between genders. The A allele frequency of arterial septal defect patients' mothers (10.87%) was significantly lower than that of controls (28.15%) (P=0.014), with OR=0.31 (95% CI: 0.09-0.84), and no difference in the other subgroups. The percentage of at least one parent carrying A allele in arterial septal defect subgroup (43.48%) was significantly lower than that in controls (69.64%) (P=0.017), with OR=0.34 (95% CI: 0.12-0.92). The analysis of genetic transmission indicated that there was no transmission disequillibrium in CHD nuclear families. Their serum folic acid level was significantly higher than that of controls (P=0.000), and Hcy level of the former was higher than that of the latter with no statistical significance (P>0.05). Serum Hcy and folic acid levels of mothers with gene mutation were lower than those of mothers with no mutation. Conclusion No significant difference of genotype distribution and allele frequency existed between CHD patients and healthy population. MTHFD G1958A mutation in parents (particularly in mother) can decrease the risk of arterial septal defect in offspring. The possible mechanism of protection might be mutation, which can increase MTHFD enzyme activity, folic acid metabolism and homocysteine remethylation, and decrease Hcy level.
Mechanisms of Apigenin-7-glucoside as a Hepatoprotective Agent
2005, 18(1): 65-70.
Objective Ixeris chinesis (Thunb.) Ankai has been used as a Chinese folk medicine, but only scanty information is available on the physiological and biochemical functions of the compounds extracted from I. Chinesis. In the present study the effects of apigenin -7-glucoside (APIG) isolated from I. Chinesis against liver injury caused by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) were investigated. Methods The contents of malondialdehyde (MDA), glutamic pyruvic transaminase (GPT), glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT), and reduced glutathione (GSH) were evaluated by spectrophotography. The content of 8-Hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) was measured with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipped with electrochemical and UV detection methods. The antioxidant activity of APIG was evaluated using chemiluminescence single photon counting technology. Results CCl4 significantly increased the enzyme activities of GPT and GOT in blood serum, as well as the level of MDA and 8-OHdG in liver tissue, and decreased the levels of GSH. Pretreatment with APIG was able not only to suppress the elevation of GPT, GOT, MDA and 8-OHdG, and inhibit the reduction of GSH in a dose-dependent manner in vivo, but also to reduce the damage of hepatocytes in vitro. On the other hand, we also found that APIG had strong antioxidant activity against reactive oxygen species (ROS) in vitro in a concentration-dependent manner. Conclusion The hepatoprotective activity of APIG is possibly due to its antioxidant properties, acting as scavengers of ROS. These results obtained in vivo and in vitro suggest that APIG has protective effects against hepatic oxidative injury induced by chemicals. Further studies on the pharmaceutical functions and immunological responses of APIG may help its clinical application.