Exposure to synthetic glucocorticoids during development can result in later cardiovascular and renal disease in sheep and rats. Although prenatal glucocorticoid exposure is associated with impaired renal development, less is known about effects on the developing heart. This study aimed to examine the effects of a short-term exposure to dexamethasone (60 hours from embryonic day 12.5) on the developing mouse heart, and cardiovascular function in adult male offspring. Dexamethasone (DEX) exposed fetuses were growth restricted compared to saline treated controls (SAL) at E14.5, but there was no difference between groups at E17.5. Heart weights of the DEX fetuses also tended to be smaller at E14.5, but not different at E17.5. Cardiac AT1aR, Bax, and IGF-1 mRNA expression was significantly increased by DEX compared to SAL at E17.5. In 12-month-old offspring DEX exposure caused an increase in basal blood pressure of ∼3 mmHg. In addition, DEX exposed mice had a widened pulse pressure compared to SAL. DEX exposed males at 12 months had an approximate 25% reduction in nephron number compared to SAL, but no difference in cardiomyocyte number. Exposure to DEX in utero appears to adversely impact on nephrogenesis and heart growth but is not associated with a cardiomyocyte deficit in male mice in adulthood, possibly due to compensatory growth of the myocardium following the initial insult. However, the widened pulse pressure may be indicative of altered vascular compliance.
The ongoing pilot clinical trial of the BrainGate neural interface system aims in part to assess the feasibility of using neural activity obtained from a small-scale, chronically implanted, intracortical microelectrode array to provide control signals for a neural prosthesis system. Critical questions include how long implanted microelectrodes will record useful neural signals, how reliably those signals can be acquired and decoded, and how effectively they can be used to control various assistive technologies such as computers and robotic assistive devices, or to enable functional electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles. Here we examined these questions by assessing neural cursor control and BrainGate system characteristics on five consecutive days 1000 days after implant of a 4 × 4 mm array of 100 microelectrodes in the motor cortex of a human with longstanding tetraplegia subsequent to a brainstem stroke. On each of five prospectively-selected days we performed time-amplitude sorting of neuronal spiking activity, trained a population-based Kalman velocity decoding filter combined with a linear discriminant click state classifier, and then assessed closed-loop point-and-click cursor control. The participant performed both an eight-target center-out task and a random target Fitts metric task which was adapted from a human-computer interaction ISO standard used to quantify performance of computer input devices. The neural interface system was further characterized by daily measurement of electrode impedances, unit waveforms and local field potentials. Across the five days, spiking signals were obtained from 41 of 96 electrodes and were successfully decoded to provide neural cursor point-and-click control with a mean task performance of 91.3% ± 0.1% (mean ± s.d.) correct target acquisition. Results across five consecutive days demonstrate that a neural interface system based on an intracortical microelectrode array can provide repeatable, accurate point-and-click control of a computer interface to an individual with tetraplegia 1000 days after implantation of this sensor.
The aim of our study was to identify subgroups of patients attending the Scottish Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (DRS) programme who might safely move from annual to two yearly retinopathy screening.
This was a retrospective cohort study of screening data from the DRS programme collected between 2005 and 2011 for people aged ≥12 years with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in Scotland. We used hidden Markov models to calculate the probabilities of transitions to referable diabetic retinopathy (referable background or proliferative retinopathy) or referable maculopathy.
The study included 155,114 individuals with no referable diabetic retinopathy or maculopathy at their first DRS examination and with one or more further DRS examinations. There were 11,275 incident cases of referable diabetic eye disease (9,204 referable maculopathy, 2,071 referable background or proliferative retinopathy). The observed transitions to referable background or proliferative retinopathy were lower for people with no visible retinopathy vs mild background retinopathy at their prior examination (respectively, 1.2% vs 8.1% for type 1 diabetes and 0.6% vs 5.1% for type 2 diabetes). The lowest probability for transitioning to referable background or proliferative retinopathy was among people with two consecutive screens showing no visible retinopathy, where the probability was <0.3% for type 1 and <0.2% for type 2 diabetes at 2 years.
Transition rates to referable diabetic eye disease were lowest among people with type 2 diabetes and two consecutive screens showing no visible retinopathy. If such people had been offered two yearly screening the DRS service would have needed to screen 40% fewer people in 2009.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-013-2928-7) contains peer reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Diabetes; Diabetic retinopathy; Maculopathy; Retinal screening; Screening intervals
Administration of retinoic acid, the active metabolite of vitamin A, is linked to the stimulation of nephrogenesis. The aim of this study was to determine whether early postnatal administration of retinoic acid (RA) could enhance ongoing nephrogenesis in a baboon model of premature birth. Unbiased stereological methods were employed to estimate kidney volume, renal corpuscle volume and nephron number. The percentage of abnormal glomeruli and the number of glomerular generations were also determined in the kidneys of preterm control (n=6) and preterm +RA (n=6) animals that received 500 μg/kg/day of all-trans retinoic acid following premature delivery. There was no significant difference between the preterm control and the preterm +RA groups in kidney size, nephron number (preterm control: 329,924 ± 41,752; preterm +RA: 354,041 ± 52,095; p = 0.59), renal corpuscle volume, number of glomerular generations, or the percentage of abnormal glomeruli. The proportion of abnormal glomeruli did not appear to be linked to any elements of postnatal care examined. The results of this study indicate that early postnatal administration of retinoic acid is unable to stimulate nephrogenesis in the kidney of the preterm baboon. Encouragingly, it does not appear to have any adverse effects on kidney development.
Vitamin A; Preterm Birth; Papio hamadryas; Kidney; Nephron
Preterm birth is a major cause of perinatal mortality and long-term morbidity. Chorioamnionitis is a common cause of preterm birth. Clinical chorioamnionitis, characterised by maternal fever, leukocytosis, tachycardia, uterine tenderness, and preterm rupture of membranes, is less common than subclinical/histologic chorioamnionitis, which is asymptomatic and defined by inflammation of the chorion, amnion, and placenta. Chorioamnionitis is often associated with a fetal inflammatory response. The fetal inflammatory response syndrome (FIRS) is defined by increased systemic inflammatory cytokine concentrations, funisitis, and fetal vasculitis. Clinical and epidemiological studies have demonstrated that FIRS leads to poor cardiorespiratory, neurological, and renal outcomes. These observations are further supported by experimental studies that have improved our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for these outcomes. This paper outlines clinical and experimental studies that have improved our current understanding of the mechanisms responsible for chorioamnionitis-induced preterm birth and explores the cellular and physiological mechanisms underlying poor cardiorespiratory, neural, retinal, and renal outcomes observed in preterm infants exposed to chorioamnionitis.
Epidemiological studies have clearly demonstrated a strong association between low birth weight and long-term renal disease. A potential mediator of this long-term risk is a reduction in nephron endowment in the low birth weight infant at the beginning of life. Importantly, nephrons are only formed early in life; during normal gestation, nephrogenesis is complete by about 32–36 weeks, with no new nephrons formed after this time during the lifetime of the individual. Hence, given that a loss of a critical number of nephrons is the hallmark of renal disease, an increased severity and acceleration of renal disease is likely when the number of nephrons is already reduced prior to disease onset. Low birth weight can result from intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) or preterm birth; a high proportion of babies born prematurely also exhibit IUGR. In this paper, we describe how IUGR and preterm birth adversely impact on nephrogenesis and how a subsequent reduced nephron endowment at the beginning of life may lead to long-term risk of renal disease, but not necessarily hypertension.
The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of and risk factors for diabetic retinopathy in people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, using Scottish national data.
We identified individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus in Scotland between January 2005 and May 2008 using data from the national diabetes database. We calculated the prevalence of retinopathy and ORs for risk factors associated with retinopathy at first screening.
Of the 51,526 people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus identified, 91.4% had been screened by 31 December 2010. The median time to first screening was 315 days (interquartile range [IQR] 111–607 days), but by 2008 the median was 83 days (IQR 51–135 days). The prevalence at first screening of any retinopathy was 19.3%, and for referable retinopathy it was 1.9%. For individuals screened after a year the prevalence of any retinopathy was 20.5% and referable retinopathy was 2.3%. Any retinopathy at screening was associated with male sex (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.14, 1.25), HbA1c (OR 1.07, 95% CI 1.06, 1.08 per 1% [11 mmol/mol] increase), systolic BP (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.05, 1.08 per 10 mmHg increase), time to screening (OR for screening >1 year post diagnosis = 1.12, 95% CI 1.07, 1.17) and obesity (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.82, 0.93) in multivariate analysis.
The prevalence of retinopathy at first screening is lower than in previous UK studies, consistent with earlier diagnosis of diabetes. Most newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients in Scotland are screened within an acceptable interval and the prevalence of referable disease is low, even in those with delayed screening.
Diabetic retinopathy; Diabetic retinopathy screening; Scotland; Type 2 diabetes
Cardiac AT2R expression is upregulated in the normal process of aging. In this study we determined the contribution of AT2R to chronic antihypertensive and remodelling effects of AT1R blockade in aged hypertensive rats.
Adult (20 weeks) and senescent (20 months) spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) were treated with either the AT1R antagonist, candesartan cilexetil (2 mg/kg/day), the AT2R antagonist, PD123319 (10 mg/kg/day), or a combination of the 2 compounds.
Mean arterial pressure (MAP) and left ventricular volume were markedly decreased by candesartan cilexetil, however, simultaneous treatment with PD123319 had no additional effect on either parameter. Perivascular fibrosis was significantly reduced by candesartan cilexetil in aged animals only, and this effect was reversed by concomitant PD123319 administration. Vascular hypertrophy was reduced by candesartan cilexetil, and these effects were reversed by simultaneous PD123319.
These results suggest that AT2R stimulation does not significantly influence the antihypertensive effect of chronic AT1R blockade, but plays a role in the regulation of vascular structure. The severe degree of cardiac perivascular fibrosis in senescent animals was regressed by AT1R blockade and this effect was reversed by simultaneous AT2R inhibition, demonstrating an antifibrotic role of AT2R stimulation in the aging hypertensive heart.
Chronic gestational cocaine administration has been correlated with high levels of postpartum maternal aggression towards intruders and altered levels of oxytocin in the amygdala. Cocaine may alter both oxytocin and maternal aggression either directly or indirectly through changes in monoamine levels in relevant brain regions. In this study, pregnant female rats were randomly assigned to one of four groups; three cocaine dose groups (7.5, 15 or 30 mg/kg), or a saline-treated group (0.9% normal saline) and given subcutaneous injections twice daily (total volume 2 ml/kg) throughout gestation. Behavioral responses to an inanimate object placed in the homecage were assessed on Postpartum Day (PPD) 6. Immediately following testing, animals were sacrificed and four brain regions implicated in maternal/aggressive behavior (medial preoptic area [MPOA], ventral tegmental area [VTA], hippocampus, and amygdala) were removed for monoamine level analyses using high-performance liquid chromatography. Dams given 30 mg/kg cocaine throughout gestation had significantly higher levels of dopamine (DA) and nonsignificantly elevated serotonin (5-HT) levels relative to saline-treated controls. These dams also exhibited higher frequencies of defensive behavior toward an inanimate object compared to saline-treated controls. Potential mechanisms mediating cocaine-induced increases in responding are proposed.
Dopamine; Serotonin; Cocaine; Maternal aggression
Gestational cocaine treatment results in significantly increased maternal aggression towards an intruder by postpartum day six, while acute postpartum treatment dose dependently decreases maternal aggressive (MA) behavior. Both increased and decreased aggression in the cocaine-treated dams are correlated with either decreased or increased levels of oxytocin in the amygdala, respectively. The current study was an effort to determine whether the effect of gestational cocaine on maternal aggression is transient or would continue into the postpartum period; whether an intermittent cocaine treatment regimen, which incorporates gestational and postpartum intermittent cocaine treatment, would differ from chronic daily gestational treatment; and finally, whether next generation female offspring of cocaine-treated or control dams would have altered MA behavior and oxytocin system changes attributable to either prenatal drug exposure, rearing condition or both. We now report no increase in maternal aggression following chronic gestational treatment and significantly lower levels of aggression in intermittently treated dams on postpartum day eight, with no significant effects in either group on postpartum day 12. Young adult female offspring of the cocaine-treated and control dams, who reared their own natural litters and were tested on postpartum day eight for maternal aggression, had higher levels of maternal aggression towards an intruder attributable to both prenatal cocaine exposure and rearing condition. Higher aggression in cocaine-reared next generation dams was associated with lower levels of oxytocin in the amygdala. Intergenerational effects of cocaine were apparent with respect to aggression and oxytocin system changes.
Cocaine; intergenerational transmission; maternal aggression; oxytocin; stress
Thalassaemia and sickle cell disease have been recognized by the World Health Organization as important inherited disorders principally impacting on the populations of low income countries. To create a national and regional profile of β-thalassaemia mutations in the population of India, a meta-analysis was conducted on 17 selected studies comprising 8,505 alleles and offering near-national coverage for the disease. At the national level 52 mutations accounted for 97.5% of all β-thalassaemia alleles, with IVSI-5(G>C) the most common disease allele (54.7%). Population stratification was apparent in the mutation profiles at regional level with, for example, the prevalence of IVSI-5(G>C) varying from 44.8% in the North to 71.4% in the East. A number of major mutations, such as Poly A(T>C), were apparently restricted to a particular region of the country, although these findings may in part reflect the variant test protocols adopted by different centres. Given the size and genetic complexity of the Indian population, and with specific mutations for β-thalassaemia known to be strongly associated with individual communities, comprehensive disease registries need to be compiled at state, district and community levels to ensure the efficacy of genetic education, screening and counselling programmes. At the same, time appropriately designed community-based studies are required as a health priority to correct earlier sampling inequities which resulted in the under-representation of many communities, in particular rural and socioeconomically under-privileged groups.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11568-010-9132-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
β thalassaemia; Haemoglobinopathies; Mutation screening; Regional profiling; Genetic counselling; Genetic education; Population genetics; Population stratification; Community genetics; Bioinformatics
Evidence is needed on how best to reduce inequalities
Thalassaemia is a common and debilitating autosomal recessive disorder affecting many populations in South Asia. To date, efforts to create a regional profile of β-thalassaemia mutations have largely concentrated on the populations of India. The present study updates and expands an earlier profile of β-thalassaemia mutations in India, and incorporates comparable data from Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Despite limited data availability, clear patterns of historical and cultural population movements were observed relating to major β-thalassaemia mutations. The current regional mutation profiles of β-thalassaemia have been influenced by historical migrations into and from the Indian sub-continent, by the development and effects of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Sikh religious traditions, and by the major mid-twentieth century population translocations that followed the Partition of India in 1947. Given the resultant genetic complexity revealed by the populations of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to ensure optimum diagnostic efficiency and the delivery of appropriate care, it is important that screening and counselling programmes for β-thalassaemia mutations recognise the underlying patterns of population sub-division throughout the region.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12687-010-0026-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
β-Thalassaemia; Mutation profiles; Endogamy; Consanguinity; India; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; South Asia
We have recently reported an inverse relationship between colon cancer progression and tumour proliferative activity. Here, we extend our findings by evaluating the proliferative activity of liver metastatic lesions and primary colorectal cancers (CRC) that differ in their metastatic potential.
Using an earlier established multi-gene proliferation signature (GPS), proliferative levels were analysed in 73 primary CRCs and 27 liver metastases.
Compared with primary CRCs, we observed a significantly lower expression of the GPS in liver metastases and confirmed their lower proliferative levels by quantitative RT–PCR and Ki-67 immunostaining. No difference could be detected in apoptotic indices as assessed by M30 immunostaining, indicating that the net growth rate is lower in metastases relative to primary tumours. Notably, relapsed primaries or those with established metastases had significantly lower proliferative activity than CRCs that were non-metastatic and did not relapse.
Our results suggest that slow proliferation is a biological characteristic of both liver metastases and those primary tumours with the ability to metastasise. The delineation of the mechanisms underlying the inverse association between proliferation and CRC aggressiveness may be important for the development of new therapeutic strategies.
colorectal cancer; proliferation; liver metastasis
The association between cell proliferation and the malignant potential of colon cancer is not well understood. Here, we evaluated this association using a colon-specific gene proliferation signature (GPS). The GPS was derived by combining gene expression data obtained from the analysis of a cancer cell line model and a published colon crypt profile. The GPS was overexpressed in both actively cycling cells in vitro and the proliferate compartment of colon crypts. K-means clustering was used to independantly stratify two cohorts of colon tumours into two groups with high and low GPS expression. Notably, we observed a significant association between reduced GPS expression and an increased likelihood of recurrence (P<0.05), leading to shorter disease-free survival in both cohorts. This finding was not a result of methodological bias as we verified the well-established association between breast cancer malignancy and increased proliferation, by applying our GPS to public breast cancer data. In this study, we show that reduced proliferation is a biological feature characterizing the majority of aggressive colon cancers. This contrasts with many other carcinomas such as breast cancer. Investigating the reasons underlying this unusual observation may provide important insight into the biology of colon cancer progression and putative novel therapy options.
proliferation signature; colon cancer; disease-free survival
Interleukin (IL)-4 has been shown to induce protection in porcine vascular endothelial cells (ECs) from killing by human complement. This protection is dependent on the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. In this study, we investigated mechanisms downstream of Akt and found that activation of the lipid biosynthesis pathway is required for protection from complement in ECs treated with IL-4. Cells incubated with IL-4 for 48 hours contained increased fatty acids and phospholipids but cholesterol was not increased when compared with medium-treated controls. The transcription factor SREBP-1, which regulates fatty acid synthesis, was found to be activated in extracts of ECs incubated with IL-4 for 6 hours. Finally, induction of protection from complement killing with IL-4 was fully prevented by the presence of the SREBP inhibitor 25-OH cholesterol. This study showed that IL-4 induces lipid biosynthesis in porcine ECs through activation of SREBP-1 and that the activation of this pathway is critical for IL-4 to induce protection of porcine ECs from killing by human complement. Further study of these mechanisms may provide new strategies for the prevention of complement-mediated vascular injury as it occurs in xenograft rejection.
Background and aim: In this study, we compared the efficacy of triple therapy (interferon alfa, ribavirin, and amantadine) with standard therapy (interferon alfa and ribavirin) in treatment naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Methods: In this prospective, randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, multicentre study, 85 patients (amantadine group) received a three drug regimen of interferon alfa-2b 3 million units three times per week, ribavirin 1000–1200 mg daily in divided doses, and amantadine 100 mg twice daily, and 86 patients (placebo group) received interferon alfa-2b, ribavirin, and identical placebo. Treatment was discontinued at 24 weeks if patients had detectable HCV RNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). All patients were followed for 24 weeks after completion of treatment. The primary end point was undetectable HCV-RNA by PCR at 24 weeks (sustained viral clearance) after completion of treatment.
Results: At the end of treatment, HCV RNA clearance was seen in 32.9% of the amantadine group and 38.4% of the placebo group (p = 0.3). Sustained virological response was seen in 24.7% of the amantadine group and in 27.9% of the placebo group by intention to treat analysis; response rate was 30.4% and 34.8%, respectively, in those who completed 24 weeks of treatment. Poor response was seen in both groups among cirrhotics, African-Americans, genotype 1, and those with a higher viral load. By multivariate analysis, genotype 1, high viral load, and low serum albumin were the only predictors of poor response. Addition of amantadine to the standard regimen did not result in any unexpected side effects.
Conclusion: Response to triple therapy of interferon alfa, ribavirin, and amantadine was similar to standard therapy of interferon alfa and ribavirin. Our results suggest that amantadine has no role in the management of HCV.
interferon; ribavirin; amantadine; hepatitis C
Sudden unexplained deaths as a result of intracranial lesions in adults are an important component of medicolegal practice and are best examined as a combined effort by a forensic pathologist, or a histopathologist experienced in coroner's necropsies, and a neuropathologist. Analysis of case material on file in the University of Glasgow's departments of forensic medicine and science, and neuropathology showed that the principal causes were sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), intracranial haemorrhage, either natural or after trauma, purulent meningitis or an abscess, and tumours. The mechanisms of death are considered to be the rapid increase of intracranial pressure caused by bleeding into the various compartments of the brain, or an acute obstructive hydrocephalus, and in cases where death is very rapid, autonomic and/or neurochemical dysfunction.
sudden unexplained death; adults; intracranial lesions
An initial report suggested that patients homozygous for the arginine allele at codon 72 ofP53were at increased risk for human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cervical cancer, but other groups have not confirmed this finding. Since approximately 18–36% of head and neck cancers are HPV-related, we examined the genotypic frequencies at that locus in 163 cases with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and 163 ethnically matched controls. We found no significant excess of arginine homozygotes in cases compared to controls (P= 0.50). No significant differences in allele frequencies were observed when the data were stratified by tobacco exposure or by cancer site. These findings suggest a limited role, if any, for thisP53polymorphism in SCCHN.© 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
P53; polymorphism; head and cancer; squamous cell; HPV; low penetrance
The recent demonstration of human glandular kallikrein (hK2) expression in a breast carcinoma cell line has suggested that this putatively prostate-restricted, steroid hormone-regulated protease may also be expressed in breast epithelium in vivo and secreted into the mammary duct system. Given that the only substrate yet identified for hK2 activity is the precursor of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), the expression of which in breast carcinomas may be associated with favourable prognosis, our purpose was to examine the expression pattern of both hK2 and PSA in breast tumour tissues. Cytosolic extracts of 336 primary breast carcinomas prepared for routine oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) analysis, as well as 31 nipple aspirates from six women with non-diseased mammary glands, were assayed for hK2 and PSA using immunofluorometric assays developed by the authors. In the tumour extracts, measurable hK2 and PSA concentrations were detected in 53% and 73% of cases respectively, and were positively correlated to each other (r = 0.59, P = 0.0001). Higher concentrations of PSA and hK2 were found in tumours expressing steroid hormone receptors (P = 0.0001 for PSA and P = 0.0001 for hK2, by Wilcoxon tests for both ER and PR), and both PSA (r = 0.25, P = 0.0001) and hK2 (r = 0.22, P = 0.0001) correlated directly with PR levels. A negative correlation between patient age and PSA (r = –0.12, P = 0.03) was also found. Both proteins were present in nipple aspirate fluid at relatively high concentrations which were positively correlated (r = 0.53, P = 0.002). The molecular weights of the immunoreactive species quantified by the hK2 and PSA assays were established by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and were consistent with the known molecular weights of hK2 and PSA. Together these data provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, that both malignant breast tissue and normal breast secretion contain measurable quantities of hK2, and that the degree of hK2 expression or secretion is directly proportional to the expression of PSA and steroid hormone receptors. hK2 expression may therefore be a marker of steroid hormone action in breast tissue. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
breast cancer; prostate cancer; human glandular kallikrein; prostate-specific antigen; kallikrein gene family
Toxoplasma gondii has recently come under intense study as a model for intracellular parasitism because it has a number of properties that facilitate experimental manipulation. Attention is now being turned towards understanding the developmental biology of this complex parasite. The differentiation between the two asexual stages, the rapidly growing tachyzoites and the more slowly dividing, encysted bradyzoites, is of particular interest. Progression from the former to the latter is influenced by the host's immune response. This paper describes current progress on a number of research fronts, all aimed at understanding the triggers that push the tachyzoite-bradyzoite equilibrium in one or other direction and the changes that occur in gene expression (and ultimately metabolism and function). Chief among the techniques used for these studies are genetics and molecular genetics. Recent progress in these areas is described.