Zongwei Cai

Hong Kong Baptist University, Chiu-lung, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

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Publications (252)835.13 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Total urinary phthalate metabolites (the free plus glucuronidated forms) have been frequently measured in the general population. However, data are limited on the free forms which may be more bioactive, especially for sensitive population such as pregnant women. Here the data gap was addressed by measuring concentrations of free and total forms of six phthalate metabolites in 293 urine samples from pregnant women at delivery, who were randomly selected from the prospective Healthy Baby Cohort (HBC), China. We observed detectable concentrations of the total amount of phthalate metabolites in all urine samples. The geometric mean (GM) urinary concentrations of free and total mono-butyl phthalate (MBP) (5.20, 54.49ng/mL) were the highest, followed by mono-(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (MECPP) (4.52, 7.27ng/mL). For most of phthalate metabolites, urinary concentrations were significantly higher in women who were nulliparous. Significantly higher concentrations of mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (MEOHP) were found in women who had higher educational level. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report the free and total forms of phthalate metabolites among pregnant women in China. The results suggest that exposure characteristics may be related to parity and education.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Environment international
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    ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. Identification of lipid targets that play a role in breast cancer invasion may advance our understanding of the rapid progression of cancer and may lead to the development of new biomarkers for the disease. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI MSI) was applied for the lipidomic profiling of two poorly invasive and two highly invasive breast cancer cell lines to identify the differentially accumulated lipids related to the invasive phenotype. The four cell lines were individually grown on indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated glass slides, analyzed as cell cultures. The raster width and matrix for detection were optimized to improve detection sensitivity. Optimized MSI measurements were performed directly on the cell culture with 9-aminoacridine as matrix, resulting in 215 endogenous compounds detected in positive ion mode and 267 endogenous compounds in negative ion mode in all the four cell lines, representing the largest group of analytes that have been analyzed from cells by a single MSI study. In highly invasive cell lines, 31 lipids including phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and phosphatidic acids were found upregulated and eight lipids including sphingomyelin (SM) downregulated in negative ion mode. The products of de novo fatty acid synthesis incorporated into membrane phospholipids, like oleic-acid-containing PG, may be involved in mitochondrial dysfunction and thus affect the invasion of breast cancer cells. The deficiency of SM may be related to the disruption of apoptosis in highly invasive cancer cells. This work uncovered more analytes in cells by MSI than previous reports, providing a better visualization and novel insights to advance our understanding of the relationship between rapid progression of breast cancer and lipid metabolism. The most altered lipids may aid the discovery of diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets of breast cancer. Copyright
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
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    ABSTRACT: Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) precursors, the indirect source of PFAA exposure, have been observed in environmental and human samples. However, the maternal-fetal transfer of these chemicals has not been well examined. In this study, 50 paired maternal and cord serum samples collected in Jiangsu province of China were analyzed for fifteen PFAA precursors. Among the detected PFAAs, 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTS), N-methyl- and N-ethyl-perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetates had comparable detection rate in both maternal and cord sera, while the mean concentrations and detection rates of 8:2 FTS and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA) were higher in maternal sera compared to cord sera (Mann-Whitney U test, P < 0.05). Analysis of variance and least significant difference tests showed that the youngest maternal age group (21-24 years old) had the highest concentration of 6:2 FTS in cord sera. Maternal serum PFOSA was found significantly correlated with the cord serum perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) (Spearman test, r = 0.361, P = 0.010), indicating that maternal serum PFOSA might be an indirect source of PFOS in fetuses. The obtained results suggested the potential prenatal exposure and human placental transfer of perfluoroalkyl acid precursors.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Chemosphere
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, with amyloid plaques accumulation as the key feature involved in its pathology. To date, however, the biochemical changes in AD have not been clearly characterized. Here, we present that urinary metabolomics based on high resolution mass spectrometry was employed for delineation of metabolic alterations in transgenic CRND8 mice. In this noninvasive approach, urinary metabolome reveals the biochemical changes in early onset of this AD mouse model. In virtue of comprehensive metabolite profiling and multivariate statistical analysis, a total of 73 differential metabolites of urine sample sets was identified in 12-week and 18-week transgenic mice compared to wild-type littermates, covering perturbations of aromatic amino acids metabolism, the Krebs cycle and one-carbon metabolism. Of particular interest is that divergent tryptophan metabolism, such as upregulation of serotonin pathway while downregulation of kynurenine pathway, was observed. Meanwhile, the accumulation of both N-acetylvanilalanine and 3-methoxytyrosine indicated aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase deficiency. And the microbial metabolites derived from aromatic amino acid metabolism and drug-like phase II metabolic response via the glycine conjugation reactions were also highlighted, indicating that genetic modification in mouse brain not only alters genotype but also perturbs the gut microbiome. Together, our study demonstrated that the integrative approach employing mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and a transgenic mouse model for AD may provide new evidence for distinct metabolic signatures. The perturbations of metabolic pathways may have far-reaching implications for early diagnosis and intervention in AD.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Current Alzheimer research
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    ABSTRACT: Elucidation of altered metabolic pathways by using metabolomics may open new avenues for basic research on disease mechanisms and facilitate the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Here, we report the development of ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry-based metabolomics platform with capability of measuring both cationic and anionic intermediates in cellular metabolism. The platform was established based on the hydrophobic ion-pairing interaction chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode. The MRM transitions were created and optimized via energy-resolved collision-induced dissociation experiments, serving as an essential reference point for the quantification and identification. For chromatographic separation, application of hydrophobic ion-pairing interaction led to dramatic enhancement on retention of water-soluble metabolites and provision of good peak shapes. Two volatile ion-pairing reagents, namely heptafluorobutyric acid and tributylamine, were used with dedicated C18 columns as complementary separation systems coupled with the MRM analysis, allowing measurement of the metabolites of interest at nanomolar levels. The developed platform was successfully applied to investigate the altered metabolism in hepatic cells with over-expression of an oncogene, thus can provide important information on the rewired metabolism.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Talanta
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), an environmental contaminant, has been linked to metabolic disorders. However, there are no reports describing the effects of BPA on the profiling of cis-diol metabolites. It is challenge to detect these metabolites in biological samples because of their low abundance, high polarity and serious matrix interference. In this study, a chemical isotope-labeling method was applied to solve these problems. Acetone and deuterated acetone (acetone-d6) were used as chemical tags to label the rat urine samples, respectively. The light and heavy labeling products were recognized using the ShiftedIonsFinder software. The selected cis-diol metabolite signals were used to build a data set. The data set was applied to evaluate the changes in the urinary profiling of cis-diol-containing metabolites in rats with BPA exposure. The results showed that chromatographic separation and mass spectrometry detection of cis-diol metabolites were improved after acetone labeling. Using this method, the cis-diol metabolites were recognized easily from the urine samples. By comparing different dose administration on rats, the influence of BPA exposure on cis-diol metabolites was investigated. The analytes showing noticeable differences were identified. It was found that high-dose BPA exposure had strong effects on the cis-diol compound metabolism. The influences were mostly related to the metabolism of galactose and nucleoside and its analogues. The disturbance of the galactose metabolism by BPA is reported for the first time, to the best of our knowledge. This may have some implications for exploring the toxic effects of BPA exposure.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · The Analyst
  • Yang Shen · Tohidi Fatemeh · Leihan Tang · Zongwei Cai
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the mechanism of metabolic network response to extracellular changes has become one of the primary objectives of systems biology. Quantitative metabolic network profiling of model organisms such as E. coli is the principal approach. Well-designed analytical protocols for the determination of intracellular metabolites may provide a crucial premise to quantitative profiling of cellular metabolism. This article reviews and evaluates the existing methods for determining intracellular metabolites of E. coli in terms of sample preparation and mass spectrometry (MS) analysis. Critical issues including the variation of metabolic status and interference of external pools during cell sampling, sample loss during quenching procedures, degradation of metabolites and efficiency of extraction, and matrix effects in separation and quantification are discussed. Moreover, suggestions are provided to solve the analytical problems based on the results from the recent studies in order to establish a precise and reliable analytical platform for the intracellular metabolites.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: The root of Panax ginseng C.A. Mey. (P. ginseng) is one of the most popular traditional Chinese medicines, with ginsenosides as its main bioactive components. Because different ginsenosides have varied pharmacological effects, extraction and separation of ginsenosides are usually required for the investigation of pharmacological effects of different ginsenosides. However, the contents of ginsenosides vary with the ages and tissues of P. ginseng root. In this research, an efficient method to explore the distribution of ginsenosides and differentiate P. ginseng roots with different ages was developed based on matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-TOF-MSI). After a simple sample preparation, there were 18 peaks corresponding to 31 ginsenosides with distinct localization in the mass range of m/z 700-1400 identified by MALDI-TOF-MSI and MALDI-TOF-MS/MS. All the three types of ginsenosides were successfully detected and visualized in images, which could be correlated with anatomical features. The P. ginseng at the ages of 2, 4 and 6 could be differentiated finely through the principal component analysis of data collected from the cork based on the ion images but not data from the whole tissue. The experimental result implies that the established method for the direct analysis of metabolites in plant tissues has high potential for the rapid identification of metabolites and analysis of their localizations in medicinal herbs. Furthermore, this technique also provides valuable information for the component-specific extraction and pharmacological research of herbs.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of chromatography. B, Analytical technologies in the biomedical and life sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common cancers in human beings and not well treated. Due to its blurred biomarkers, lipidomics can be considered as a new diagnostic tool. In this study, mass spectrometry-based lipidomics analysis coupled with multivariate statistical analysis was applied to profile twelve pairs of human hepatocellular carcinoma tissues (HCT) and matched adjacent non-tumour tissues (ANT). As a result, perturbation of lipid biosynthesis was observed in HCT compared to ANT. Lipid species were profiled and 28 significant lipids were identified based on high resolution mass spectrometry with mass error less than 3 ppm, covering phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylglycerol (PG), phosphatidylinositol (PI), sphingomyelin (SM) and triglyceride (TG). The high mass accuracy as well as the tandem MS (MS/MS) technique provides high confidence of lipid identification. Interestingly, decreased PGs and PIs were observed in this study, indicating that lipolysis of PGs and PIs might play a crucial role in HCC development. The results indicated that mass spectrometry-based lipidomics analysis could serve as an effective means to diagnose canceration.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Analytical methods
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    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Parkinsonism & Related Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: Urine metabolic phenotyping has been associated with the development of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, few studies using a comprehensive metabolomics approach have investigated the correlation between changes in the urinary markers and the progression of clinical symptoms in PD. A comprehensive metabolomic study with robust quality control procedures was performed using gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC - MS) and liquid chromatography - mass spectrometry (LC - MS) to characterize the urinary metabolic phenotypes of idiopathic PD patients at three stages (early, middle and advanced) and normal control subjects, with the aim of discovering potential urinary metabolite markers for the diagnosis of idiopathic PD. Both GC-MS and LC-MS metabolic profiles of idiopathic PD patients differed significantly from those of normal control subjects. 18 differentially expressed metabolites were identified as constituting a unique metabolic marker associated with the progression of idiopathic PD. Related metabolic pathway variations were observed in branched chain amino acid metabolism, glycine derivation, steroid hormone biosynthesis, tryptophan metabolism, and phenylalanine metabolism. Comprehensive, successive metabolomic profiling revealed changes in the urinary markers associated with progression of idiopathic PD. This profiling relies on noninvasive sampling, and is complementary to existing clinical modalities.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Scientific Reports
  • Jianlin Wu · Chuanqin Hu · Charlie Li · Zongwei Cai · Di Hu
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    ABSTRACT: A gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method was developed for the identification and quantification of 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,8-DCDD) in toothpaste and mouthwash consumer products. Liquid-liquid extraction and solid-phase extraction were used in the sample preparation. The limit of detection was 0.96 ng/g in toothpaste and 0.83 ng/g in mouthwash. The accuracy represented by relative errors was less than 12.5 %. The intra-day and inter-day precision, which are represented by the relative standard deviation values, were within 11.2 and 10.6 %, respectively. The method was successfully applied to analyze 2,8-DCDD in toothpaste and mouthwash products, as well as that from the photo-degradation of triclosan spiked in both sample matrix.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Environmental Science and Pollution Research
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    ABSTRACT: 6,7-Bismethoxy-2,11-dihydroxytetraphenylene (1), a novel building block of tetraphenylene-derived macrocycles, was synthesized via palladium-catalyzed cross coupling reactions and characterized by X-ray diffraction. The relevant macrocyclic hosts derived from 1 have well-defined structures with fixed conformations both in solution and solid state. They showed efficient and unique properties toward complexation with fullerenes C60 and C70 in toluene. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Chemistry - An Asian Journal
  • Zongwei Cai · Li Xiang · Shuhai Lin · Waisan Cheang · Li Wang · Yongle Li · Yu Huang
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    ABSTRACT: Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is caused by a complex set of interactions between genetic modifications and life styles. This complexity faces challenges for a full understanding of altered metabolic pathways contributing to the development of T2DM, awaiting a comprehensive metabolic analysis. Exercise training is a common therapeutic approach known to antagonize the metabolic consequences of T2DM. However, the metabolic phenotypes of exercise effect in T2DM have not been clearly characterized. Here, we present the effect of physical activity on biochemical changes in diabetic db/db mice. Untargeted metabolomics study based on liquid chromatography coupled with high resolution mass spectrometry was carried out to delineate plasma metabolic signatures in conjunction with multivariate statistical analysis. As a result, a total of 24 differential metabolites were identified, covering amino acids, organic acids and lipids. Three biomarkers, including lysine, creatine and uridine were significantly reversed by exercise training in db/db diabetic mice groups compared to lean db/m+ groups. Of note, pantothenic acid and palmitoylcarnitine which involved in fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) was promoted by exercise training in diabetic mice rather than lean mice. These findings indicated that diabetic mice might be more susceptible to exercise for energy expenditure. Together, the results might demonstrate that exercise could mitigate insulin resistance in T2DM through up regulating of FAO and and uridine in blood might be an important indicator to reflect insulin sensitivity that promoted by exercise training on T2DM mice.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Molecular BioSystems
  • Zian Lin · Jiangnan Zheng · Guo Lin · Zhi Tang · Xueqing Yang · Zongwei Cai
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    ABSTRACT: Ultrathin graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) nanosheets served as a novel matrix for the detection of small molecules by negative ion matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) was described for the first time. In comparison with conventional organic matrices and graphene matrix, the use of g-C3N4 nanosheet matrix showed free matrix background interference and increased signal intensity in the analysis of amino acids, nucleobases, peptides, bisphenols (BPs), and nitropolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs). A systematic comparison of g-C3N4 nanosheets with positive and negative ion modes revealed that mass spectra produced by g-C3N4 nanosheets in negative ion mode were featured by singly deprotonated ion without matrix interference, which was rather different from the complicated alkali metal complexes in positive ion mode. Good salt tolerance and reproducibility allowed the determination of 1-nitropyrene (1-NP) in sewage, and its corresponding detection limit was lowered to 1 pmol. In addition, the ionization mechanism of the g-C3N4 nanosheets as matrix was also discussed. The work expands its application scope of g-C3N4 nanosheets and provides an alternative approach for small molecules.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Analytical Chemistry
  • Weiguang Xu · Zongwei Cai
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    ABSTRACT: Concentrations of PCDD/Fs, dioxin-like PCBs as well as six indicator PCBs were determined in animal origin foods collected from Hong Kong retail market during 2008-2010. The dietary intake of an average Hong Kong adult resident was estimated to be 0.806-0.833 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 b.w. d−1 of dioxin-like compounds, lower than the tolerable daily intake introduced by WHO. The 95th percentile consumer were exposed by dietary at the level of 2.72 to 2.81 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 b.w. d−1 or 81.6-84.3 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 b.w. month−1, higher than 70 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 b.w. month−1. DL-PCBs contributed 49.2% of total TEQ intake. The daily intake of indicator PCB was 2.83 ng kg−1 b.w. d−1. Approximately 2/3 of dietary intake of dioxin-like compounds came from sea food products. Ten brands of infant formula products were tested and the potential dietary intake of formula-fed infants of Hong Kong was estimated to be 1.46-1.58 pg WHO-TEQ kg−1 b.w. d−1 during 1st month and decreases afterwards.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Science China-Chemistry
  • Zi An Lin · Jiang-Nan Zheng · Wei Bian · Zongwei Cai
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    ABSTRACT: CuFe2O4 magnetic nanocrystal clusters (CuFe2O4 MNCs) was proposed as a new matrix for small molecule analysis by negative ion matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for the first time. We demonstrated its advantages over conventional organic matrices in the detection of small molecules such as amino acids, peptides, nucleobases, fatty acids, and steroid hormones. A systematic comparison of CuFe2O4 MNCs with different ionization modes revealed that MS spectra obtained on CuFe2O4 MNC matrix in negative ion mode was only featured by deprotonated ion peaks with free matrix background, which was different from the complicated alkali metal adducts produced in positive ion mode. The developed method was found relatively tolerant to salt contamination and good reproducibility. Detection limit down to subpicomolar level was achieved when testosterone was analyzed. In addition, by comparison of the MS spectra obtained from bare Fe3O4 and MFe2O4 MNC (M = Co, Ni, Cu, Zn) matrices, two main factors of MFe2O4 MNC matrices were unveiled to play a vital role in assisting negative ion desorption/ionization (D/I) process: doping transition metals into ferrite nanocrystals favoring laser absorption and energy transfer; good match between the UV absorption of MFe2O4 MNCs and the excitation of nitrogen laser source facilitating LDI efficiency. This work creates a new application branch for MFe2O4 MNCs and provides an alternative solution for small molecule analysis.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · The Analyst
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    ABSTRACT: L-glutathione decorated Mn doped ZnS QDs (GSH-Mn: ZnS QDs) were synthesized in aqueous solution. The characterization of as-prepared QDs was carried out through fluorescence, ultraviolet-visible absorption (UV-vis), TEM and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Pb2+ had obvious quenching effect on the fluorescence intensity of GSH-Mn: ZnS QDs. Under optimal factors, a nice linear relationship between the fluorescence response and the concentration of Pb2+ was established from 0.025µM to 15.5µM range with a correlation coefficient of 0.9981 and the detection limit is 0.018µ. This probe was triumphantly made use of the detecting of Pb2+ in tap and pond water. At the same time, it was preliminary inferred that the fluorescence quenching way of Pb2+ to QDs was dynamic quenching. The present study provides a simple, low-cost route toward production of GSH-Mn: ZnS QDs for chemo/bio sensing and other adhibition.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Current Analytical Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Combining free radical polymerization with click chemistry via copper-mediated azide/alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) reaction in “one-pot” process, a facile approach was developed for preparation of poly (3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine-co-propargyl methacrylate-co-pentaerythritol triacrylate) (AZT-co-PMA-co-PETA) monolithic column. The resultant poly (AZT-co-PMA-co-PETA) monolith showed a relatively homogeneous monolithic structure, good permeability and mechanical stability. Different ratios of monomers and porogens were used for optimizing the properties of monolithic column. A series of alkylbenzenes, amides, anilines, and benzoic acids were used to evaluate the chromatographic properties of the polymer monolith in terms of hydrophobic, hydrophilic and cation-exchange interactions, and the results showed the poly (AZT-co-PMA-co-PETA) monolith exhibited more flexible adjustment in chromatographic selectivity than that of the parent poly (PMA-co-PETA) and AZT-modified poly (PMA-co-PETA) monoliths. Column efficiencies for toluene, DMF, and formamide with 35,000-48,000 theoretical plates/m could be obtained at a linear velocity of 0.17 mm/s. The run-to-run, column-to-column, and batch-to-batch repeatabilities of the retention factors were less than 4.2%. In addition, the proposed monolith was also applied to efficient separation of sulfonamides, nucleobases and nucleosides, anesthetics and proteins for demonstrating its potential.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · The Analyst
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    Zongwei Cai · Zi An Lin · Jiang-Nan Zheng · Wei Bian
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    ABSTRACT: Zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 coated magnetic nanocomposites (Fe3O4@ZIF-8 MNCs) were served as absorbent and matrix for negative-ion MALDI-TOF MS. The host-guest property and interference-free background made it an ideal dual platform for the sensitive analysis of small molecules.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Chemical Communications

Publication Stats

5k Citations
835.13 Total Impact Points


  • 2001-2016
    • Hong Kong Baptist University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Chiu-lung, Kowloon City, Hong Kong
  • 2013-2014
    • Shanxi University
      • School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
      Yangkü, Shanxi Sheng, China
  • 2012-2013
    • Tsinghua University
      • Graduate School at Shenzhen
      Peping, Beijing, China
  • 2009-2013
    • Fuzhou University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Min-hou, Fujian, China
  • 2010
    • Victoria University of Wellington
      • School of Biological Sciences
      Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2006
    • Chinese Academy of Sciences
      • Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics
      Peping, Beijing, China
    • Xiamen University
      • Department of Biochemistry & Biotechnology
      Amoy, Fujian, China
    • Peking Union Medical College Hospital
      Peping, Beijing, China