All Publications

  • Interactive online consensus survival tool for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma prognosis analysis ONCOLOGY LETTERS Wang, Q., Wang, F., Lv, J., Xin, J., Xie, L., Zhu, W., Tang, Y., Li, Y., Zhao, X., Wang, Y., Li, X., Guo, X. 2019; 18 (2): 1199?1206
  • OSblca: A Web Server for Investigating Prognostic Biomarkers of Bladder Cancer Patients FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY Zhang, G., Wang, Q., Yang, M., Yuan, Q., Dang, Y., Sun, X., An, Y., Dong, H., Xie, L., Zhu, W., Wang, Y., Guo, X. 2019; 9
  • Gene Expression Profiling Reveals Distinct Molecular Subtypes of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Asian Populations NEOPLASIA Wang, F., Yan, Z., Lv, J., Xin, J., Dang, Y., Sun, X., An, Y., Qi, Y., Jiang, Q., Zhu, W., Li, Y., Li, A., Guo, X. 2019; 21 (6): 571?81
  • OSlms: A Web Server to Evaluate the Prognostic Value of Genes in Leiomyosarcoma FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY Wang, Q., Xie, L., Dang, Y., Sun, X., Xie, T., Guo, J., Han, Y., Van, Z., Zhu, W., Wang, Y., Li, W., Guo, X. 2019; 9
  • OSacc: Gene Expression-Based Survival Analysis Web Tool For Adrenocortical Carcinoma CANCER MANAGEMENT AND RESEARCH Xie, L., Wang, Q., Nan, F., Ge, L., Dang, Y., Sun, X., Li, N., Dong, H., Han, Y., Zhang, G., Zhu, W., Guo, X. 2019; 11: 9145?52
  • Interactive online consensus survival tool for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma prognosis analysis. Oncology letters Wang, Q., Wang, F., Lv, J., Xin, J., Xie, L., Zhu, W., Tang, Y., Li, Y., Zhao, X., Wang, Y., Li, X., Guo, X. 2019; 18 (2): 1199?1206


    Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide. However, operative diagnostic and prognostic systems for ESCC remain to be established. To improve assessment of the prognosis for patients with ESCC, the present study developed an online consensus survival tool for ESCC, termed OSescc. OSescc was built using 264 ESCC cases with gene expression data and relevant clinical information obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus and The Cancer Genome Atlas databases. Kaplan-Meier survival plots with hazard ratios and P-values were generated by OSescc to predict the association between potential biomarkers and relapse free survival and overall survival. In addition, the current study integrated a function by which one could assess the prognosis based on an individual probe or the mean value of multiple probes for each gene, which helped improve the evaluation of the validity and reliability of the potential prognosis biomarkers. OSescc can be accessed at

    View details for DOI 10.3892/ol.2019.10440

    View details for PubMedID 31423180

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6607102

  • OSlms: A Web Server to Evaluate the Prognostic Value of Genes in Leiomyosarcoma. Frontiers in oncology Wang, Q., Xie, L., Dang, Y., Sun, X., Xie, T., Guo, J., Han, Y., Yan, Z., Zhu, W., Wang, Y., Li, W., Guo, X. 2019; 9: 190


    The availability of transcriptome data and clinical annotation offers the opportunity to identify prognosis biomarkers in cancer. However, efficient online prognosis analysis tools are still lacking. Herein, we developed a user-friendly web server, namely Online consensus Survival analysis of leiomyosarcoma (OSlms), to centralize published gene expression data and clinical datasets of leiomyosarcoma (LMS) patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO). OSlms comprises of a total of 268 samples from three independent datasets, and employs the Kaplan Meier survival plot with hazard ratio (HR) and log rank test to estimate the prognostic potency of genes of interests for LMS patients. Using OSlms, clinicians and basic researchers could determine the prognostic significance of genes of interests and get opportunities to identify novel potential important molecules for LMS. OSlms is free and publicly accessible at

    View details for PubMedID 30984618

  • OSuvm: An interactive online consensus survival tool for uveal melanoma prognosis analysis. Molecular carcinogenesis Wang, F., Wang, Q., Li, N., Ge, L., Yang, M., An, Y., Zhang, G., Dong, H., Ji, S., Zhu, W., Guo, X. 2019


    Uveal melanoma (UM) is a rare, aggressive, but the most frequent primary intraocular malignancy in adults, and up to 50% of patients develop a tendency of liver metastases. Great efforts have been made to develop biomarkers that facilitate diagnosis, prediction of the risk, and response to treatment of UM. However, a biologically informative and highly accurate gold standard system for prognostic evaluation of UM remains to be established. To facilitate assessment of the prognosis of UM patients, we established a user-friendly Online consensus Survival tool for uveal melanoma, named OSuvm, by which users can easily estimate the prognostic values of genes of interest by the Kaplan-Meier survival plot with hazard ratio and log-rank test. OSuvm comprises four independent cohorts including 229 patients with both gene expression profiles and relevant clinical follow-up information, and it has shown great performance in evaluating the prognostic roles of previously reported biomarkers. Using OSuvm enables researchers and clinicians to rapidly and conveniently explore the prognostic value of genes of interest and develop new potential molecular biomarkers for UM. OSuvm can be accessed at

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mc.23128

    View details for PubMedID 31646691

  • OSblca: A Web Server for Investigating Prognostic Biomarkers of Bladder Cancer Patients. Frontiers in oncology Zhang, G., Wang, Q., Yang, M., Yuan, Q., Dang, Y., Sun, X., An, Y., Dong, H., Xie, L., Zhu, W., Wang, Y., Guo, X. 2019; 9: 466


    Bladder cancer (BC) is one of the most common malignant tumors in the urinary system. The discovery of prognostic biomarkers is still one of the major challenges to improve clinical treatment of BC patients. In order to assist biologists and clinicians in easily evaluating the prognostic potency of genes in BC patients, we developed a user-friendly Online consensus Survival tool for bladder cancer (OSblca), to analyze the prognostic value of genes. The OSblca includes gene expression profiles of 1,075 BC patients and their respective clinical follow-up information. The clinical follow-up data include overall survival (OS), disease specific survival (DSS), disease free interval (DFI), and progression free interval (PFI). To analyze the prognostic value of a gene, users only need to input the official gene symbol and then click the "Kaplan-Meier plot" button, and Kaplan-Meier curve with the hazard ratio, 95% confidence intervals and log-rank P-value are generated and graphically displayed on the website using default options. For advanced analysis, users could limit their analysis by confounding factors including data source, survival type, TNM stage, histological type, smoking history, gender, lymph invasion, and race, which are set up as optional parameters to meet the specific needs of different researchers. To test the performance of the web server, we have tested and validated its reliability using previously reported prognostic biomarkers, including KPNA2, TP53, and MYC etc., which had their prognostic values validated as reported in OSblca. In conclusion, OSblca is a useful tool to evaluate and discover novel prognostic biomarkers in BC. The web server can be accessed at

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fonc.2019.00466

    View details for PubMedID 31275847

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6593271

  • OScc: an online survival analysis web server to evaluate the prognostic value of biomarkers in cervical cancer. Future oncology (London, England) Wang, Q., Zhang, L., Yan, Z., Xie, L., An, Y., Li, H., Han, Y., Zhang, G., Dong, H., Zheng, H., Zhu, W., Li, Y., Wang, Y., Guo, X. 2019


    Aim: To establish a web server that can mutually validate prognostic biomarkers of cervical cancer. Methods: Four datasets including expression profiling and relative clinical follow-up data were collected from Gene Expression Omnibus and The Cancer Genome Atlas. The web server was developed by R software. Results: The web server was named OScc including 690 patients and can be accessed at The Kaplan-Meier survival curves with log-rank p-value and hazard ratio will be generated of interested gene in OScc. Compared with previous predictive tools, OScc had the advantages of registration-free, larger sample size and subgroup analysis. Conclusion: The OScc is highly valuable to perform the preliminary assessment and validation of new or interested prognostic biomarkers for cervical cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.2217/fon-2019-0412

    View details for PubMedID 31512935

  • High Sensitive and Non-invasive ctDNAs Sequencing Facilitate Clinical Diagnosis And Clinical Guidance of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Patient: A Time Course Study FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY Li, Y., Lv, J., Wan, S., Xin, J., Xie, T., Li, T., Zhu, W., Zhang, G., Wang, Y., Tang, Y., Li, A., Guo, X. 2018; 8
  • Distinct esophageal adenocarcinoma molecular subtype has subtype-specific gene expression and mutation patterns. BMC genomics Guo, X., Tang, Y., Zhu, W. 2018; 19 (1): 769


    BACKGROUND: Esophageal carcinoma (EC), consists of two histological types, esophageal squamous carcinoma (ESCC) and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). EAC accounted for 10% of EC for centuries; however, the prevalence of EAC has alarmingly risen 6 times and increased to about 50% of EC in recent 30years in the western countries, while treatment options for EAC patients are still limited. Stratification of molecular subtypes by gene expression profiling methods had offered opportunities for targeted therapies. However, the molecular subtype in EAC has not been defined. Hence, Identification of EAC molecular subtypes is needed and will provide important insights for future new therapies.RESULTS: We performed meta-analysis of gene expression profiling data on three independent EAC cohorts and showed that there are two common molecular subtypes in EAC. Each of the two EAC molecular subtypes has subtype specific expression patterns and mutation signatures. Genes which were over-expressed in subtype I EACs rather than subtype II EAC cases, were enriched in biological processes including epithelial cell differentiation, keratinocyte differentiation, and KEGG pathways including basal cell carcinoma. TP53 and CDKN2A are significantly mutated in both EAC subtypes. 24 genes including SMAD4 were found to be only significantly mutated in subtype I EAC cases, while 30 genes including ARID1A are only significantly mutated in subtype II EACs.CONCLUSION: Two EAC molecular subtypes were defined and validated. This finding may offer new opportunities for targeted therapies.

    View details for PubMedID 30355311

  • Thalidomide Reduces Hemorrhage of Brain Arteriovenous Malformations in a Mouse Model. Stroke Zhu, W., Chen, W., Zou, D., Wang, L., Bao, C., Zhan, L., Saw, D., Wang, S., Winkler, E., Li, Z., Zhang, M., Shen, F., Shaligram, S., Lawton, M., Su, H. 2018; 49 (5): 1232?40


    Brain arteriovenous malformation (bAVM) is an important risk factor for intracranial hemorrhage. Current treatments for bAVM are all associated with considerable risks. There is no safe method to prevent bAVM hemorrhage. Thalidomide reduces nose bleeding in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, an inherited disorder characterized by vascular malformations. In this study, we tested whether thalidomide and its less toxic analog, lenalidomide, reduce bAVM hemorrhage using a mouse model.bAVMs were induced through induction of brain focal activin-like kinase 1 (Alk1, an AVM causative gene) gene deletion and angiogenesis in adult Alk1-floxed mice. Thalidomide was injected intraperitoneally twice per week for 6 weeks, starting either 2 or 8 weeks after AVM induction. Lenalidomide was injected intraperitoneally daily starting 8 weeks after AVM induction for 6 weeks. Brain samples were collected at the end of the treatments for morphology, mRNA, and protein analyses. The influence of Alk1 downregulation on PDGFB (platelet-derived growth factor B) expression was also studied on cultured human brain microvascular endothelial cells. The effect of PDGFB in mural cell recruitment in bAVM was explored by injection of a PDGFB overexpressing lentiviral vector to the mouse brain.Thalidomide or lenalidomide treatment reduced the number of dysplastic vessels and hemorrhage and increased mural cell (vascular smooth muscle cells and pericytes) coverage in the bAVM lesion. Thalidomide reduced the burden of CD68+ cells and the expression of inflammatory cytokines in the bAVM lesions. PDGFB expression was reduced in ALK1-knockdown human brain microvascular endothelial cells and in mouse bAVM lesion. Thalidomide increased Pdgfb expression in bAVM lesion. Overexpression of PDGFB mimicked the effect of thalidomide.Thalidomide and lenalidomide improve mural cell coverage of bAVM vessels and reduce bAVM hemorrhage, which is likely through upregulation of Pdgfb expression.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/STROKEAHA.117.020356

    View details for PubMedID 29593101

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5916043

  • Transient Depletion of Microglia Reduces the Severity of Brain Arteriovenous Malformation in a Mouse Model Ma, L., Zhu, W., Zhan, L., Zhang, R., Li, Q., Bao, C., Weiss, M., Wang, A., Su, H. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS. 2018
  • High Sensitive and Non-invasive ctDNAs Sequencing Facilitate Clinical Diagnosis And Clinical Guidance of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Patient: A Time Course Study. Frontiers in oncology Li, Y., Lv, J., Wan, S., Xin, J., Xie, T., Li, T., Zhu, W., Zhang, G., Wang, Y., Tang, Y., Li, A., Guo, X. 2018; 8: 491


    Lung cancer is one of leading causes of cancer death all over the world. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most predominant subtype of lung cancer. Molecular targeting therapy has been shown great success in the treatment of advanced NSCLC. Thus, an easy, sensitive, and specific way of recognizing therapeutic gene targets would help to select effective treatments, to improve physical condition and increase patient survival. In this study, we recruited and followed up a female NSCLC patient, whose plasma ctDNAs (circulating tumor DNAs), blood cell DNAs, psDNAs (pleural effusion supernatant DNAs), and ppDNAs (pleural effusion pellet DNAs), were collected and analyzed over periodic time points by methods of next generation sequencing (NGS), droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), and Amplification Refractory Mutation System (ARMS). In addition, pleural effusion pellets were stained by IHC (immunohistochemistry). The investigation results showed that EGFR L858R mutation was recognized by methods of NGS, ddPCR, and ARMS, while EGFR T790M mutation was only identified by methods of NGS and ddPCR but not ARMS, indicating that ARMS as an auxiliary clinical diagnostic method, is less sensitive and less reliable than NGS and ddPCR. In summary, the non-invasive and sensitive way of collecting ctDNAs for NGS and/or ddPCR screenings offers patients new diagnosis and therapeutic options.

    View details for PubMedID 30425968

  • Animal Models and Prospective Therapeutic Targets for Brain Arteriovenous Malformation. Molecular, Genetic, and Cellular Advances in Cerebrovascular Diseases Zhu, W., Zhang, R., Ma, L., Su, H. World Scientific. 2018: 83?126
  • Soluble FLT1 Gene Therapy Alleviates Brain Arteriovenous Malformation Severity. Stroke Zhu, W., Shen, F., Mao, L., Zhan, L., Kang, S., Sun, Z., Nelson, J., Zhang, R., Zou, D., McDougall, C. M., Lawton, M. T., Vu, T. H., Wu, Z., Scaria, A., Colosi, P., Forsayeth, J., Su, H. 2017; 48 (5): 1420?23


    Brain arteriovenous malformation (bAVM) is an important risk factor for intracranial hemorrhage. Current therapies are associated with high morbidities. Excessive vascular endothelial growth factor has been implicated in bAVM pathophysiology. Because soluble FLT1 binds to vascular endothelial growth factor with high affinity, we tested intravenous delivery of an adeno-associated viral vector serotype-9 expressing soluble FLT1 (AAV9-sFLT1) to alleviate the bAVM phenotype.Two mouse models were used. In model 1, bAVM was induced in R26CreER;Eng(2f/2f) mice through global Eng gene deletion and brain focal angiogenic stimulation; AAV2-sFLT02 (an AAV expressing a shorter form of sFLT1) was injected into the brain at the time of model induction, and AAV9-sFLT1, intravenously injected 8 weeks after. In model 2, SM22?Cre;Eng(2f/2f) mice had a 90% occurrence of spontaneous bAVM at 5 weeks of age and 50% mortality at 6 weeks; AAV9-sFLT1 was intravenously delivered into 4- to 5-week-old mice. Tissue samples were collected 4 weeks after AAV9-sFLT1 delivery.AAV2-sFLT02 inhibited bAVM formation, and AAV9-sFLT1 reduced abnormal vessels in model 1 (GFP versus sFLT1: 3.66±1.58/200 vessels versus 1.98±1.29, P<0.05). AAV9-sFLT1 reduced the occurrence of bAVM (GFP versus sFLT1: 100% versus 36%) and mortality (GFP versus sFLT1: 57% [12/22 mice] versus 24% [4/19 mice], P<0.05) in model 2. Kidney and liver function did not change significantly. Minor liver inflammation was found in 56% of AAV9-sFLT1-treated model 1 mice.By applying a regulated mechanism to restrict sFLT1 expression to bAVM, AAV9-sFLT1 can potentially be developed into a safer therapy to reduce the bAVM severity.

    View details for DOI 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.015713

    View details for PubMedID 28325846

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5404983

  • Distinct molecular subtypes of uterine leiomyosarcoma respond differently to chemotherapy treatment. BMC cancer An, Y., Wang, S., Li, S., Zhang, L., Wang, D., Wang, H., Zhu, S., Zhu, W., Li, Y., Chen, W., Ji, S., Guo, X. 2017; 17 (1): 639


    Uterine leiomyosarcoma (ULMS) is an aggressive form of soft tissue tumors. The molecular heterogeneity and pathogenesis of ULMS are not well understood.Expression profiling data were used to determine the possibility and optimal number of ULMS molecular subtypes. Next, clinicopathological characters and molecular pathways were analyzed in each subtype to prospect the clinical applications and progression mechanisms of ULMS.Two distinct molecular subtypes of ULMS were defined based on different gene expression signatures. Subtype I ULMS recapitulated low-grade ULMS, the gene expression pattern of which resembled normal smooth muscle cells, characterized by overexpression of smooth muscle function genes such as LMOD1, SLMAP, MYLK, MYH11. In contrast, subtype II ULMS recapitulated high-grade ULMS with higher tumor weight and invasion rate, and was characterized by overexpression of genes involved in the pathway of epithelial to mesenchymal transition and tumorigenesis, such as CDK6, MAPK13 and HOXA1.We identified two distinct molecular subtypes of ULMS responding differently to chemotherapy treatment. Our findings provide a better understanding of ULMS intrinsic molecular subtypes, and will potentially facilitate the development of subtype-specific diagnosis biomarkers and therapy strategies for these tumors.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s12885-017-3568-y

    View details for PubMedID 28893210

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5594508

  • The roles of endoglin gene in cerebrovascular diseases. Neuroimmunology and neuroinflammation Zhu, W., Ma, L., Zhang, R., Su, H. 2017; 4: 199?210


    Endoglin (ENG, also known as CD105) is a transforming growth factor ? (TGF?) associated receptor and is required for both vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is important in the development of cerebral vasculature and in the pathogenesis of cerebral vascular diseases. ENG is an essential component of the endothelial nitric oxide synthase activation complex. Animal studies showed that ENG deficiency impairs stroke recovery. ENG deficiency also impairs the regulation of vascular tone, which contributes to the pathogenesis of brain arteriovenous malformation (bAVM) and vasospasm. In human, functional haploinsufficiency of ENG gene causes type I hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT1), an autosomal dominant disorder. Compared to normal population, HHT1 patients have a higher prevalence of AVM in multiple organs including the brain. Vessels in bAVM are fragile and tend to rupture, causing hemorrhagic stroke. High prevalence of pulmonary AVM in HHT1 patients are associated with a higher incidence of paradoxical embolism in the cerebral circulation causing ischemic brain injury. Therefore, HHT1 patients are at risk for both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. This review summarizes the possible mechanism of ENG in the pathogenesis of cerebrovascular diseases in experimental animal models and in patients.

    View details for DOI 10.20517/2347-8659.2017.18

    View details for PubMedID 29098173

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5663457

  • Activation of Alpha-7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Reduces Brain Edema in Mice with Ischemic Stroke and Bone Fracture. Molecular neurobiology Zou, D., Luo, M., Han, Z., Zhan, L., Zhu, W., Kang, S., Bao, C., Li, Z., Nelson, J., Zhang, R., Su, H. 2016: -?


    Stroke is an important risk factor for bone fracture. We showed previously that bone fracture at the acute stage of ischemic stroke worsens, and activation of ?-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (?-7 nAchR) improves, stroke recovery by attenuating inflammation. We hypothesized that activation of ?-7 nAchR also improves the blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity. Permanent distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO) was performed on C57BL/6J mice followed by tibia fracture 1 day later. Mice were treated with 0.8 mg/kg PHA 568487 (PHA, ?-7 nAchR-specific agonist), 6 mg/kg methyllycaconitine (MLA, ?-7 nAchR antagonist), or saline 1 and 2 days after pMCAO. Brain water content, the expression of monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B), and tight junction protein (claudin-5) were assessed. We found that tibia fracture increased water content in the ischemic stroke brain (p = 0.006) and MAO-B-positive astrocytes (p < 0.001). PHA treatment reduced water content and MAO-B-positive astrocytes and increased claudin-5 expression in stroke and stroke + tibia fracture mice (p < 0.05), while MLA had the opposite effect. Our findings suggest that in addition to inhibiting inflammation, activation of ?-7 nAchR also reduces brain edema, possibly through diminished astrocyte oxidative stress and improved BBB integrity. Thus, the ?-7 nAchR-specific agonist could be developed into a new therapy for improving recovery of patients with stroke or stroke + bone fracture.

    View details for PubMedID 27914011

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5457363

  • BECN1/Beclin 1 sorts cell-surface APP/amyloid ß precursor protein for lysosomal degradation. Autophagy Swaminathan, G., Zhu, W., Plowey, E. D. 2016: 1-16


    The regulation of plasma membrane (PM)-localized transmembrane protein/receptor trafficking has critical implications for cell signaling, metabolism and survival. In this study, we investigated the role of BECN1 (Beclin 1) in the degradative trafficking of PM-associated APP (amyloid ? precursor protein), whose metabolism to amyloid-?, an essential event in Alzheimer disease, is dependent on divergent PM trafficking pathways. We report a novel interaction between PM-associated APP and BECN1 that recruits macroautophagy/endosomal regulatory proteins PIK3C3 and UVRAG. We found that BECN1 promotes surface APP internalization and sorting predominantly to endosomes and endolysosomes. BECN1 also promotes the targeting of a smaller fraction of internalized APP to LC3-positive phagophores, suggesting a role for BECN1-dependent PM macroautophagy in APP degradation. Furthermore, BECN1 facilitates lysosomal degradation of surface APP and reduces the secretion of APP metabolites (soluble ectodomains, sAPP). The association between APP and BECN1 is dependent on the evolutionarily conserved domain (ECD) of BECN1 (amino acids 267-337). Deletion of a BECN1 ECD subregion (amino acids 285-299) did not impair BECN1- PIK3C3 interaction, PtdIns3K function or macroautophagy, but was sufficient to impair the APP-BECN1 interaction and BECN1's effects on surface APP internalization and degradation, resulting in increased secretion of sAPPs. Interestingly, both the BECN1-APP association and BECN1-dependent APP endocytosis and degradative trafficking were negatively regulated by active AKT. Our results further implicate phosphorylation of the BECN1 Ser295 residue in the inhibition of APP degradation by AKT. Our studies reveal a novel function for BECN1 in the sorting of a plasma membrane protein for endolysosomal and macroautophagic degradation.

    View details for PubMedID 27715386

  • Persistent infiltration and pro-inflammatory differentiation of monocytes cause unresolved inflammation in brain arteriovenous malformation ANGIOGENESIS Zhang, R., Han, Z., Degos, V., Shen, F., Choi, E., Sun, Z., Kang, S., Wong, M., Zhu, W., Zhan, L., Arthur, H. M., Oh, S. P., Faughnan, M. E., Su, H. 2016; 19 (4): 451-461


    An abnormally high number of macrophages are present in human brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVM) with or without evidence of prior hemorrhage, causing unresolved inflammation that may enhance abnormal vascular remodeling and exacerbate the bAVM phenotype. The reasons for macrophage accumulation at the bAVM sites are not known. We tested the hypothesis that persistent infiltration and pro-inflammatory differentiation of monocytes in angiogenic tissues increase the macrophage burden in bAVM using two mouse models and human monocytes. Mouse bAVM was induced through deletion of AVM causative genes, Endoglin (Eng) globally or Alk1 focally, plus brain focal angiogenic stimulation. An endothelial cell and vascular smooth muscle cell co-culture system was used to analyze monocyte differentiation in the angiogenic niche. After angiogenic stimulation, the Eng-deleted mice had fewer CD68(+) cells at 2 weeks (P = 0.02), similar numbers at 4 weeks (P = 0.97), and more at 8 weeks (P = 0.01) in the brain angiogenic region compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Alk1-deficient mice also had a trend toward more macrophages/microglia 8 weeks (P = 0.064) after angiogenic stimulation and more RFP(+) bone marrow-derived macrophages than WT mice (P = 0.01). More CD34(+) cells isolated from peripheral blood of patients with ENG or ALK1 gene mutation differentiated into macrophages than those from healthy controls (P < 0.001). These data indicate that persistent infiltration and pro-inflammatory differentiation of monocytes might contribute to macrophage accumulation in bAVM. Blocking macrophage homing to bAVM lesions should be tested as a strategy to reduce the severity of bAVM.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10456-016-9519-4

    View details for Web of Science ID 000384411900001

    View details for PubMedID 27325285

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5029790

  • Bone Fracture Pre-Ischemic Stroke Exacerbates Ischemic Cerebral Injury in Mice PLOS ONE Wang, L., Kang, S., Zou, D., Zhan, L., Li, Z., Zhu, W., Su, H. 2016; 11 (4)


    Ischemic stroke is a devastating complication of bone fracture. Bone fracture shortly after stroke enhances stroke injury by augmenting inflammation. We hypothesize that bone fracture shortly before ischemic stroke also exacerbates ischemic cerebral injury. Tibia fracture was performed 6 or 24 hours before permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO) on C57BL/6J mice or Ccr2RFP/+Cx3cr1GFP/+ mice that have the RFP gene knocked into one allele of Ccr2 gene and GFP gene knocked into one allele of Cx3cr1 gene. Behavior was tested 3 days after pMCAO. Infarct volume, the number of CD68+ cells, apoptotic neurons, bone marrow-derived macrophages (RFP+), and microgila (GFP+) in the peri-infarct region were quantified. Compared to mice subjected to pMCAO only, bone fracture 6 or 24 hours before pMCAO increased behavioral deficits, the infarct volume, and the number of CD68+ cells and apoptotic neurons in the peri-infarct area. Both bone marrow-derived macrophages (CCR2+) and microglia (CX3CR1+) increased in the peri-infarct regions of mice subjected to bone fracture before pMCAO compared to stroke-only mice. The mice subjected to bone fracture 6 hours before pMCAO had more severe injury than mice that had bone fracture 24 hours before pMCAO. Our data showed that bone fracture shortly before stroke also increases neuroinflammation and exacerbates ischemic cerebral injury. Our findings suggest that inhibition of neuroinflammation or management of stroke risk factors before major bone surgery would be beneficial for patients who are likely to suffer from stroke.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0153835

    View details for Web of Science ID 000374527000054

    View details for PubMedID 27089041

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4835054

  • Vascular Integrity in the Pathogenesis of Brain Arteriovenous Malformation. Acta neurochirurgica. Supplement Zhang, R., Zhu, W., Su, H. 2016; 121: 29-35


    Brain arteriovenous malformation (bAVM) is an important cause of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), particularly in the young population. ICH is the first clinical symptom in about 50 % of bAVM patients. The vessels in bAVM are fragile and prone to rupture, causing bleeding into the brain. About 30 % of unruptured and non-hemorrhagic bAVMs demonstrate microscopic evidence of hemosiderin in the vascular wall. In bAVM mouse models, vascular mural cell coverage is reduced in the AVM lesion, accompanied by vascular leakage and microhemorrhage. In this review, we discuss possible signaling pathways involved in abnormal vascular development in bAVM.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-18497-5_6

    View details for PubMedID 26463919

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4654926

  • Inhibition of pathological brain angiogenesis through systemic delivery of AAV vector expressing soluble FLT1 GENE THERAPY Shen, F., Mao, L., Zhu, W., Lawton, M. T., Pechan, P., Colosi, P., Wu, Z., Scaria, A., Su, H. 2015; 22 (11): 893-900


    The soluble vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 1 (sFLT1) has been tested in both animals and humans for anti-angiogenic therapies, for example, age-related macular degeneration. We hypothesized that adeno-associated viral vector (AAV)-mediated sFLT1 expression could be used to inhibit abnormal brain angiogenesis. We tested the anti-angiogenic effect of sFLT1 and the feasibility of using AAV serotype 9 to deliver sFLT1 through intravenous injection (IV) to the brain angiogenic region. AAVs were packaged in AAV serotypes 1 and 2 (stereotactic injection) and 9 (IV injection). Brain angiogenesis was induced in adult mice through stereotactic injection of AAV1-VEGF. AAV2-sFLT02 containing sFLT1 VEGF-binding domain (domain 2) was injected into the brain angiogenic region, and AAV9-sFLT1 was injected into the jugular vein at the time of or 4 weeks after AAV1-VEGF injection. We showed that AAV2-sFLT02 inhibited brain angiogenesis at both time points. IV injection of AAV9-sFLT1 inhibited angiogenesis only when the vector was injected 4 weeks after angiogenic induction. Neither lymphocyte infiltration nor neuron loss was observed in AAV9-sFLT1-treated mice. Our data show that systemically delivered AAV9-sFLT1 inhibits angiogenesis in the mouse brain, which could be utilized to treat brain angiogenic diseases such as brain arteriovenous malformation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/gt.2015.57

    View details for Web of Science ID 000364574500007

    View details for PubMedID 26090874

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4636448

  • Neuropathologic analysis of Tyr69His TTR variant meningovascular amyloidosis with dementia. Acta neuropathologica communications Ziskin, J. L., Greicius, M. D., Zhu, W., Okumu, A. N., Adams, C. M., Plowey, E. D. 2015; 3 (1): 43-?


    Transthyretin/TTR gene mutations usually cause systemic amyloidotic diseases. Few TTR variants preferentially affect the central nervous system, manifesting as oculoleptomeningeal amyloidosis. Patients with TTR meningovascular amyloidosis often show dementia, however the neuropathologic features of dementia in these cases have not been elucidated. We report the neuropathologic findings from a brain autopsy of a 72-year-old man with the rare Tyr69His (Y69H) TTR gene variant, dementia and ataxia. Severe amyloid deposits were observed in the leptomeninges and in a subpial and subependymal distribution. Mass spectrometry analysis demonstrated that the amyloid deposits were comprised of over 80 % of the variant TTR. TTR was undetectable by mass spectrometry in the neocortex subjacent to the subpial amyloid deposits. Subpial TTR amyloid deposits were associated with brisk superficial reactive gliosis and siderosis in the neocortex and cerebellar cortex. Subependymal TTR amyloid deposits were associated with subjacent myelin pallor in the hippocampal outflow tract structures including the alveus, fimbria and fornix. Phospho-tau immunostains demonstrated transentorhinal-stage neurofibrillary degeneration (Braak stage II) which, in the absence of neocortical amyloid-beta and neuritic plaques, was indicative of primary age-related tauopathy (PART). However, distinctive phospho-tau aggregates were observed subjacent to the subpial TTR amyloid deposits in all regions of the neocortex, including the primary motor and striate cortices, suggesting a potential link between TTR amyloid and neocortical tauopathy. Our report reveals novel insights into the potential neuropathologic substrates of dementia in variant TTR amyloidosis that need to be investigated in larger autopsy series.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s40478-015-0216-0

    View details for PubMedID 26156087

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4496870

  • GA binding protein augments autophagy via transcriptional activation of BECN1-PIK3C3 complex genes AUTOPHAGY Zhu, W., Swaminathan, G., Plowey, E. D. 2014; 10 (9): 1622-1636

    View details for DOI 10.4161/auto.29454

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341647200012

  • Mutant LRRK2 enhances glutamatergic synapse activity and evokes excitotoxic dendrite degeneration. Biochimica et biophysica acta Plowey, E. D., Johnson, J. W., Steer, E., Zhu, W., Eisenberg, D. A., Valentino, N. M., Liu, Y., Chu, C. T. 2014; 1842 (9): 1596-1603


    Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), which are associated with autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease, elicit progressive dendrite degeneration in neurons. We hypothesized that synaptic dysregulation contributes to mutant LRRK2-induced dendritic injury. We performed in vitro whole-cell voltage clamp studies of glutamatergic receptor agonist responses and glutamatergic synaptic activity in cultured rat cortical neurons expressing full-length wild-type and mutant forms of LRRK2. Expression of the pathogenic G2019S or R1441C LRRK2 mutants resulted in larger whole-cell current responses to direct application of AMPA and NMDA receptor agonists. In addition, mutant LRRK2-expressing neurons exhibited an increased frequency of spontaneous miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) in conjunction with increased excitatory synapse density as assessed by immunofluorescence for PSD95 and VGLUT1. Mutant LRRK2-expressing neurons showed enhanced vulnerability to acute synaptic glutamate stress. Furthermore, treatment with the NMDA receptor antagonist memantine significantly protected against subsequent losses in dendrite length and branching complexity. These data demonstrate an early association between mutant LRRK2 and increased excitatory synapse activity, implicating an excitotoxic contribution to mutant LRRK2 induced dendrite degeneration.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.05.016

    View details for PubMedID 24874075

  • GA binding protein augments autophagy via transcriptional activation of BECN1-PIK3C3 complex genes. Autophagy Zhu, W., Swaminathan, G., Plowey, E. D. 2014; 10 (9): 1622-1636


    Macroautophagy is a vesicular catabolic trafficking pathway that is thought to protect cells from diverse stressors and to promote longevity. Recent studies have revealed that transcription factors play important roles in the regulation of autophagy. In this study, we have identified GA binding protein (GABP) as a transcriptional regulator of the combinatorial expression of BECN1-PIK3C3 complex genes involved in autophagosome initiation. We performed bioinformatics analyses that demonstrated highly conserved putative GABP sites in genes that encode BECN1/Beclin 1, several BECN1 interacting proteins, and downstream autophagy proteins including the ATG12-ATG5-ATG16L1 complex. We demonstrate that GABP binds to the promoter regions of BECN1-PIK3C3 complex genes and activates their transcriptional activities. Knockdown of GABP reduced BECN1-PIK3C3 complex transcripts, BECN1-PIK3C3 complex protein levels and autophagy in cultured cells. Conversely, overexpression of GABP increased autophagy. Nutrient starvation increased GABP-dependent transcriptional activity of BECN1-PIK3C3 complex gene promoters and increased the recruitment of GABP to the BECN1 promoter. Our data reveal a novel function of GABP in the regulation of autophagy via transcriptional activation of the BECN1-PIK3C3 complex.

    View details for DOI 10.4161/auto.29454

    View details for PubMedID 25046113

  • Mutant LRRK2 enhances glutamatergic synapse activity and evokes excitotoxic dendrite degeneration. Biochimica et biophysica acta Plowey, E. D., Johnson, J. W., Steer, E., Zhu, W., Eisenberg, D. A., Valentino, N. M., Liu, Y., Chu, C. T. 2014; 1842 (9): 1596-1603

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.05.016

    View details for PubMedID 24874075

  • Transcriptional and Post-Transcriptional Regulation of SPAST, the Gene Most Frequently Mutated in Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia PLOS ONE Henson, B. J., Zhu, W., Hardaway, K., Wetzel, J. L., Stefan, M., Albers, K. M., Nicholls, R. D. 2012; 7 (5)


    Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) comprise a group of neurodegenerative disorders that are characterized by progressive spasticity of the lower extremities, due to axonal degeneration in the corticospinal motor tracts. HSPs are genetically heterogeneous and show autosomal dominant inheritance in ?70-80% of cases, with additional cases being recessive or X-linked. The most common type of HSP is SPG4 with mutations in the SPAST gene, encoding spastin, which occurs in 40% of dominantly inherited cases and in ?10% of sporadic cases. Both loss-of-function and dominant-negative mutation mechanisms have been described for SPG4, suggesting that precise or stoichiometric levels of spastin are necessary for biological function. Therefore, we hypothesized that regulatory mechanisms controlling expression of SPAST are important determinants of spastin biology, and if altered, could contribute to the development and progression of the disease. To examine the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of SPAST, we used molecular phylogenetic methods to identify conserved sequences for putative transcription factor binding sites and miRNA targeting motifs in the SPAST promoter and 3'-UTR, respectively. By a variety of molecular methods, we demonstrate that SPAST transcription is positively regulated by NRF1 and SOX11. Furthermore, we show that miR-96 and miR-182 negatively regulate SPAST by effects on mRNA stability and protein level. These transcriptional and miRNA regulatory mechanisms provide new functional targets for mutation screening and therapeutic targeting in HSP.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0036505

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305349800070

    View details for PubMedID 22574173

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