Jiang Qian

Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, United States

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Publications (7)51.76 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of death in Friedreich's ataxia. This autosomal recessive disease is caused by a homozygous guanine-adenine-adenine trinucleotide repeat expansion in the frataxin gene (chromosome 9q21). One untoward effect of frataxin deficiency is the lack of iron (Fe)-sulfur clusters. Progressive remodeling of the heart in FA, however, may be more specifically related to sarcoplasmic Fe overload. The Fe-containing inclusions in a small percentage of cardiomyocytes may not represent purely mitochondrial accumulation of the metal. The objective of the present study was to re-examine the contribution of Fe to cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, fiber necrosis, and myocardial scarring, using a combination of X-ray fluorescence, slide histochemistry of Fe, and immunohistochemistry of 2 Fe-related proteins. Polyethylene glycol-embedded human cardiac tissues from the left and right ventricular walls, ventricular septum, right atrium, and atrial septum were studied using qualitative and quantitative X-ray fluorescence. Tissues were recovered from the polyethylene glycol matrix, re-embedded in paraffin, and sectioned for visualization of Fe, ferritin, and ferroportin. X-ray fluorescence showed quantifiable levels of Fe and zinc. Regions of significantly increased Fe (1 to 4 mm2) were irregularly distributed throughout the working myocardium. Fe granules were sparse in conductive tissue. Zinc signals remained unchanged. Robust cytosolic ferritin reaction product occurred in many fibers of the affected regions. Ferroportin displayed no response except in fibers with advanced Fe overload. These observations are at variance with the concept of selective Fe overload only in cardiac mitochondria. In conclusion, Fe-mediated damage to cardiomyocytes and myocardial scarring are more likely due to cytosolic Fe excess.
    The American journal of cardiology 12/2012; Vol 110(Issue 12):1820-1827. DOI:10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.08.018 · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) causes selective atrophy of the large neurons of the dentate nucleus (DN). High iron (Fe) concentration and failure to clear the metal from the affected brain tissue are potential risk factors in the progression of the lesion. The DN also contains relatively high amounts of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), but the importance of these metals in FRDA has not been established. This report describes nondestructive quantitative X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and "mapping" of Fe, Cu, and Zn in polyethylene glycol-dimethylsulfoxide (PEG/DMSO)-embedded DN of 10 FRDA patients and 13 controls. Fe fluorescence arose predominantly from the hilar white matter, whereas Cu and Zn were present at peak levels in DN gray matter. Despite collapse of the DN in FRDA, the location of the peak Fe signal did not change. In contrast, the Cu and Zn regions broadened and overlapped extensively with the Fe-rich region. Maximal metal concentrations did not differ from normal (in micrograms per milliliter of solid PEG/DMSO as means ± S.D.): Fe normal, 364 ± 117, FRDA, 344 ± 159; Cu normal, 33 ± 13, FRDA, 33 ± 18; and Zn normal, 32 ± 16, FRDA, 33 ± 19. Tissues were recovered from PEG/DMSO and transferred into paraffin for matching with immunohistochemistry of neuron-specific enolase (NSE), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and ferritin. NSE and GAD reaction products confirmed neuronal atrophy and grumose degeneration that coincided with abnormally diffuse Cu and Zn zones. Ferritin immunohistochemistry matched Fe XRF maps, revealing the most abundant reaction product in oligodendroglia of the DN hilus. In FRDA, these cells were smaller and more numerous than normal. In the atrophic DN gray matter of FRDA, anti-ferritin labeled mostly hypertrophic microglia. Immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence of the Cu-responsive proteins Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase and Cu(++)-transporting ATPase α-peptide did not detect specific responses to Cu redistribution in FRDA. In contrast, metallothionein (MT)-positive processes were more abundant than normal and contributed to the gliosis of the DN. The isoforms of MT, MT-1/2, and brain-specific MT-3 displayed only limited co-localization with glial fibrillary acidic protein. The results suggest that MT can provide effective protection against endogenous Cu and Zn toxicity in FRDA, similar to the neuroprotective sequestration of Fe in holoferritin.
    The Cerebellum 05/2012; 11(4). DOI:10.1007/s12311-012-0383-5 · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) causes a complex neuropathological phenotype with characteristic lesions of dorsal root ganglia (DRG); dorsal spinal roots; dorsal nuclei of Clarke; spinocerebellar and corticospinal tracts; dentate nuclei; and sensory nerves. This report presents a systematic morphological analysis of sural nerves obtained by autopsy of six patients with genetically confirmed FRDA. The outstanding lesion consisted of lack of myelinated fibers whereas axons were present in normal numbers. On cross-sections, only 11% of all class III-beta-tubulin-positive axons were myelinated in FRDA, contrasting with 36% in normal control nerves. Despite their paucity, thin myelinated fibers assembled compact sheaths containing the peripheral myelin proteins PMP-22, P(0), and myelin basic protein. The nerves displayed major modifications in Schwann cells that were apparent by laminin 2 and S100alpha immunocytochemistry. Few S100alpha-immunoreactive cells remained detectable whereas laminin 2 reaction product was abundant. The normal honeycomb-like distribution of laminin 2 around myelinated fibers was replaced by confluent regions of reaction product that enveloped clusters of closely apposed thin axons. Electron microscopy not only confirmed the lack of myelin but also showed abnormal Schwann cells and axons. Ferritin localized to normal Schwann cell cytoplasm. In the sensory nerves of patients with FRDA, the distribution of this protein strongly resembled laminin 2, but there was no net increase of the total ferritin-reactive area. Ferroportin reaction product occurred in all axons of sural nerves in FRDA, which was at variance with dorsal spinal roots. In the pathogenesis of sensory neuropathy in FRDA, two mechanisms are likely: hypomyelination due to faulty interaction between axons and Schwann cells; and slow axonal degeneration. Neurons of DRG, satellite cells, Schwann cells, and axons of sensory nerves and dorsal spinal roots derive from the neural crest, and hypomyelination in FRDA may be attributed to defects of regulation or migration of shared precursor cells. Sural nerves in FRDA showed no convincing change in ferritin and ferroportin, militating against local iron dysmetabolism. The result stands out in contrast to the previously reported changes in dorsal spinal roots of patients with FRDA.
    Acta Neuropathologica 03/2010; 120(1):97-108. DOI:10.1007/s00401-010-0675-0 · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Atrophy of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and thinning of dorsal roots (DR) are hallmarks of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). Many previous authors also emphasized the selective vulnerability of larger neurons in DRG and thicker myelinated DR axons. This report is based on a systematic reexamination of DRG, DR and ventral roots (VR) in 19 genetically confirmed cases of FRDA by immunocytochemistry and single- and double-label immunofluorescence with antibodies to specific proteins of myelin, neurons and axons; S-100alpha as a marker of satellite and Schwann cells; laminin; and the iron-responsive proteins ferritin, mitochondrial ferritin, and ferroportin. Confocal images of axons and myelin allowed the quantitative analysis of fiber density and size, and the extent of DR and VR myelination. A novel technology, high-definition X-ray fluorescence (HDXRF) of polyethylene glycol-embedded fixed tissue, was used to "map" iron in DRG. Unfixed frozen tissue of DRG in three cases was available for the chemical assay of total iron. Proliferation of S-100alpha-positive satellite cells accompanied neuronal destruction in DRG of all FRDA cases. Double-label visualization of peripheral nerve myelin protein 22 and phosphorylated neurofilament protein confirmed the known loss of large myelinated DR fibers, but quantitative fiber counts per unit area did not change. The ratio of myelinated to neurofilament-positive fibers in DR rose significantly from 0.55 to 0.66. In VR of FRDA patients, fiber counts and degree of myelination did not differ from normal. Pooled histograms of axonal perimeters disclosed a shift to thinner fibers in DR, but also a modest excess of smaller axons in VR. Schwann cell cytoplasm in DR of FRDA was depleted while laminin reaction product remained prominent. Numerous small axons clustered around fewer Schwann cells. Ferritin in normal DRG localized to satellite cells, and proliferation of these cells in FRDA caused wide rims of reaction product about degenerating nerve cells. Mitochondrial ferritin was not detectable. Ferroportin was present in the cytoplasm of normal satellite cells and neurons, and in large axons of DR and VR. In FRDA, some DRG neurons lost their cytoplasmic ferroportin immunoreactivity, whereas the cytoplasm of satellite cells remained ferroportin positive. Ferroportin in DR axons disappeared in parallel with atrophy of large fibers. HDXRF of DRG detected regional and diffuse increases in iron fluorescence that matched ferritin expression in satellite cells. The observations support the conclusions that satellite cells and DRG neurons are affected by iron dysmetabolism; and that regeneration and inappropriate myelination of small axons in DR are characteristic of the disease.
    Acta Neuropathologica 09/2009; 118(6):763-76. DOI:10.1007/s00401-009-0589-x · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic or intermittent extravasations of blood into the subarachnoid space, and dissemination of heme by circulating cerebrospinal fluid, are the only established causes of superficial siderosis of the central nervous system (CNS). We studied the autopsy tissues of nine patients by iron histochemistry, immunocytochemistry, single- and double-label immunofluorescence, electron microscopy of ferritin, and high-definition X-ray fluorescence. In one case, frozen brain tissue was available for quantitative assay of total iron and ferritin. Siderotic tissues showed extensive deposits of iron and ferritin, and infiltration of the cerebellar cortex was especially severe. In addition to perivascular collections of hemosiderin-laden macrophages, affected tissues displayed iron-positive anuclear foamy structures in the neuropil that resembled axonal spheroids. They were especially abundant in eighth cranial nerves and spinal cord. Double-label immunofluorescence of the foamy structures showed co-localization of neurofilament protein and ferritin but comparable merged images of myelin-basic protein and ferritin, and ultrastructural visualization of ferritin, did not allow the conclusion that axonopathy was simply due to dilatation and rupture of fibers. Heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1) immunoreactivity persisted in macrophages of siderotic cerebellar folia. Siderosis caused a large increase in total CNS iron but high-definition X-ray fluorescence of embedded tissue blocks excluded the accumulation of other metals. Holoferritin levels greatly exceeded the degree of iron accumulation. The susceptibility of the cerebellar cortex is likely due to Bergmann glia that serve as conduits for heme; and the abundance of microglia. Both cell types biosynthesize HO-1 and ferritin in response to heme. The eighth cranial nerves are susceptible because they consist of CNS axons, myelin, and neuroglial tissue along their subarachnoid course. The persistence of HO-1 protein implies continuous exposure of CNS to free heme or an excessively sensitive transcriptional response of the HO-1 gene. The conversion of heme iron to hemosiderin probably involves both translational and transcriptional activation of ferritin biosynthesis.
    Acta Neuropathologica 11/2008; 116(4):371-82. DOI:10.1007/s00401-008-0421-z · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Frataxin deficiency in Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) causes cardiac, endocrine, and nervous system manifestations. Frataxin is a mitochondrial protein, and adequate amounts are essential for cellular iron homeostasis. The main histological lesion in the brain of FRDA patients is neuronal atrophy and a peculiar proliferation of synaptic terminals in the dentate nucleus termed grumose degeneration. This cerebellar nucleus may be especially susceptible to FRDA because it contains abundant iron. We examined total iron and selected iron-responsive proteins in the dentate nucleus of nine patients with FRDA and nine normal controls by biochemical and microscopic techniques. Total iron (1.53 +/- 0.53 mumol/g wet weight) and ferritin (206.9 +/- 46.6 mug/g wet weight) in FRDA did not significantly differ from normal controls (iron: 1.78 +/- 0.88 mumol/g; ferritin: 210.9 +/- 9.0 mug/g) but Western blots exhibited a shift to light ferritin subunits. Immunocytochemistry of the dentate nucleus revealed loss of juxtaneuronal ferritin-containing oligodendroglia and prominent ferritin immunoreactivity in microglia and astrocytes. Mitochondrial ferritin was not detectable by immunocytochemistry. Stains for the divalent metal transporter 1 confirmed neuronal loss while endothelial cells reacting with antibodies to transferrin receptor 1 protein showed crowding of blood vessels due to collapse of the normal neuropil. Regions of grumose degeneration were strongly reactive for ferroportin. Purkinje cell bodies, their dendrites and axons, were also ferroportin-positive, and it is likely that grumose degeneration is the morphological manifestation of mitochondrial iron dysmetabolism in the terminals of corticonuclear fibers. Neuronal loss in the dentate nucleus is the likely result of trans-synaptic degeneration.
    Acta Neuropathologica 09/2007; 114(2):163-73. DOI:10.1007/s00401-007-0220-y · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a common complication of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). Histological sections reveal abnormal cardiomyocytes, muscle fiber necrosis, reactive inflammation, and increased endomysial connective tissue. Scattered muscle fibers display perinuclear collections of minute iron-positive granules that lie in rows between myofibrils. Frataxin deficiency in FRDA causes mitochondrial iron dysmetabolism. We studied total iron and the iron-related proteins ferritin, mitochondrial ferritin, divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), and ferroportin in FRDA hearts by biochemical and histological techniques. Total iron in the left ventricular wall of FRDA patients (30.7+/-19.3 mg/100 g dry weight) was not significantly higher than normal (31.3+/-24.1 mg/100 g dry weight). Similarly, cytosolic holoferritin levels in FRDA hearts (230+/-172 microg/g wet weight) were not significantly elevated above normal (148+/-86 microg/g wet weight). The iron-positive granules exhibited immunoreactivity for cytosolic ferritin, mitochondrial ferritin, and ferroportin. Electron microscopy showed enhanced electron density of mitochondrial deposits after treatment with bismuth subnitrate supporting ferritin accumulation. The inflammatory cells in the endomysium were reactive for CD68, cytosolic ferritin, and the DMT1 isoform(s) translated from messenger ribonucleic acids containing iron-responsive elements (DMT1+). Progressive cardiomyopathy in FRDA is the likely result of iron-catalyzed mitochondrial damage followed by muscle fiber necrosis and a chronic reactive myocarditis.
    The Cerebellum 02/2006; 5(4):257-67. DOI:10.1080/14734220600913246 · 2.72 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

265 Citations
51.76 Total Impact Points


  • 2006-2012
    • Albany Medical College
      • Department of Pathology
      Albany, New York, United States
  • 2008
    • Albany Stratton VA Medical Center
      Albany, New York, United States
  • 2007
    • Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Hospital
      Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States