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1.  Combined Effects of Child and Adult Elevated Blood pressure on Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort Consortium 
Circulation  2013;128(3):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.001614.
Elevated blood pressure (BP) levels in childhood have been associated with subsequent atherosclerosis. However, it is uncertain whether this risk is attenuated in individuals who acquire normal BP by adulthood. The present study examined the effect of child and adult BP levels on carotid artery intima-media thickness (cIMT) in adulthood.
Methods and Results
The cohort consisted of 4,210 participants from four prospective studies (mean follow-up 23 years). Childhood elevated BP was defined according to the tables from the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. In adulthood BP was classified as elevated for individuals with systolic BP ≥120mmHg, diastolic BP ≥80mmHg or with self-reported use of antihypertensive medications. cIMT was measured in the left common carotid artery. High IMT was defined as an IMT ≥age-, sex-, race-, and cohort-specific 90th percentile. Individuals with persistently elevated BP and individuals with normal childhood BP, but elevated adult BP had increased risk of high cIMT (RR[95%CI]) 1.82[1.47-2.38] and 1.57[1.22-2.02], respectively) when compared to individuals with normal child and adult BP. In contrast, individuals with elevated BP as children but not as adults did not have significantly increased risk (1.24[0.92-1.67]). In addition, these individuals had lower risk of increased cIMT (0.66[0.50-0.88]) when compared to those with persistently elevated BP. The results were consistent when controlling for age, sex, adiposity and when different BP definitions were applied.
Individuals with persistently elevated BP from childhood to adulthood had increased risk of carotid atherosclerosis. This risk was reduced if elevated BP during childhood resolved by adulthood.
PMCID: PMC3875837  PMID: 23780579
risk factors; atherosclerosis; blood pressure; hypertension; epidemiology
2.  A Kinetic Study of the Effects of Light on Circadian Rhythmicity of the frq Promoter of Neurospora crassa 
Journal of biological rhythms  2014;29(1):38-48.
The role of the frq gene in the Neurospora crassa circadian rhythm has been widely studied, but technical limitations have hindered a thorough analysis of frq circadian expression waveform. Through our experiments, we have shown an improved precision in defining Neurospora’s circadian rhythm kinetics using a codon optimized firefly luciferase gene reporter linked to a frq promoter. In vivo examination of this real-time reporter has allowed for a better understanding of the relationship of the light responsive elements of the frq promoter to its circadian feedback components. We provide a detailed phase response curve showing the phase shifts induced by a light pulse applied at different points of the circadian cycle. Using the frq-luc reporter, we have found that a 12-h light:12-h dark cycle (12L:12D) results in a luciferase expression waveform that is more complex and higher in amplitude than that seen in free-running conditions of constant darkness (DD). When using a lighting regime more consistent with solar timing, rather than a square wave pattern, one observes a circadian waveform that is smoother, lower in amplitude, and different in phasing. Using dim light in place of darkness in these experiments also affects the resulting waveform and phasing. Our experiments illustrate Neurospora’s circadian kinetics in greater detail than previous methods, providing further insight into the complex underlying biochemical, genetic, and physiological mechanisms underpinning the circadian oscillator.
PMCID: PMC4084941  PMID: 24492881
Neurospora; circadian; VIVID; WCC; PRC; PTC; luminescence; frq; entrainment
3.  Capacity building efforts and perceptions for wildlife surveillance to detect zoonotic pathogens: comparing stakeholder perspectives 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:684.
The capacity to conduct zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife is critical for the recognition and identification of emerging health threats. The PREDICT project, a component of United States Agency for International Development’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program, has introduced capacity building efforts to increase zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife in global ‘hot spot’ regions where zoonotic disease emergence is likely to occur. Understanding priorities, challenges, and opportunities from the perspectives of the stakeholders is a key component of any successful capacity building program.
A survey was administered to wildlife officials and to PREDICT-implementing in-country project scientists in 16 participating countries in order to identify similarities and differences in perspectives between the groups regarding capacity needs for zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife.
Both stakeholder groups identified some human-animal interfaces (i.e. areas of high contact between wildlife and humans with the potential risk for disease transmission), such as hunting and markets, as important for ongoing targeting of wildlife surveillance. Similarly, findings regarding challenges across stakeholder groups showed some agreement in that a lack of sustainable funding across regions was the greatest challenge for conducting wildlife surveillance for zoonotic pathogens (wildlife officials: 96% and project scientists: 81%). However, the opportunity for improving zoonotic pathogen surveillance capacity identified most frequently by wildlife officials as important was increasing communication or coordination among agencies, sectors, or regions (100% of wildlife officials), whereas the most frequent opportunities identified as important by project scientists were increasing human capacity, increasing laboratory capacity, and the growing interest or awareness regarding wildlife disease or surveillance programs (all identified by 69% of project scientists).
A One Health approach to capacity building applied at local and global scales will have the greatest impact on improving zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife. This approach will involve increasing communication and cooperation across ministries and sectors so that experts and stakeholders work together to identify and mitigate surveillance gaps. Over time, this transdisciplinary approach to capacity building will help overcome existing challenges and promote efficient targeting of high risk interfaces for zoonotic pathogen transmission.
PMCID: PMC4096412  PMID: 24996851
Wildlife pathogen surveillance; Capacity building; Stakeholder; One Health; Zoonoses; Global health
4.  Electrophysiological markers of genetic risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 
Electroencephalography (EEG) is an ideal neuroscientific approach, providing a direct measurement of neural activity that demonstrates reliability, developmental stability and high heritability. This systematic review of a subset of domains evaluates the utility of electrophysiological measures as potential intermediate phenotypes for ADHD in the domains of quantitative EEG indices of arousal and intra-individual variability, and functional investigations of inhibitory and error processing using the event-related potential (ERP) technique. Each domain demonstrates consistent and meaningful associations with ADHD, a degree of genetic overlap with ADHD and potential links to specific genetic variants. Investigations of the genetic and environmental contributions to EEG/ERP and shared genetic overlap with ADHD may enhance molecular genetic studies and provide novel insights into aetiology. Such research will aid in the precise characterisation of the clinical deficits seen in ADHD and guide the development of novel intervention and prevention strategies for those at risk.
PMCID: PMC4042910  PMID: 21426626
ADHD; arousal; default-mode; electrophysiology; endophenotype; executive function; genetics; heritability
5.  Shared Cognitive Impairments and Aetiology in ADHD Symptoms and Reading Difficulties 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98590.
Twin studies indicate that the frequent co-occurrence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and reading difficulties (RD) is largely due to shared genetic influences. Both disorders are associated with multiple cognitive impairments, but it remains unclear which cognitive impairments share the aetiological pathway, underlying the co-occurrence of the symptoms. We address this question using a sample of twins aged 7–10 and a range of cognitive measures previously associated with ADHD symptoms or RD.
We performed multivariate structural equation modelling analyses on parent and teacher ratings on the ADHD symptom domains of inattention and hyperactivity, parent ratings on RD, and cognitive data on response inhibition (commission errors, CE), reaction time variability (RTV), verbal short-term memory (STM), working memory (WM) and choice impulsivity, from a population sample of 1312 twins aged 7–10 years.
Three cognitive processes showed significant phenotypic and genetic associations with both inattention symptoms and RD: RTV, verbal WM and STM. While STM captured only 11% of the shared genetic risk between inattention and RD, the estimates increased somewhat for WM (21%) and RTV (28%); yet most of the genetic sharing between inattention and RD remained unaccounted for in each case.
While response inhibition and choice impulsivity did not emerge as important cognitive processes underlying the co-occurrence between ADHD symptoms and RD, RTV and verbal memory processes separately showed significant phenotypic and genetic associations with both inattention symptoms and RD. Future studies employing longitudinal designs will be required to investigate the developmental pathways and direction of causality further.
PMCID: PMC4041781  PMID: 24886915
6.  Using Molecular Epidemiology to Track Toxoplasma gondii from Terrestrial Carnivores to Marine Hosts: Implications for Public Health and Conservation 
Environmental transmission of the zoonotic parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is shed only by felids, poses risks to human and animal health in temperate and tropical ecosystems. Atypical T. gondii genotypes have been linked to severe disease in people and the threatened population of California sea otters. To investigate land-to-sea parasite transmission, we screened 373 carnivores (feral domestic cats, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes) for T. gondii infection and examined the distribution of genotypes in 85 infected animals sampled near the sea otter range.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Nested PCR-RFLP analyses and direct DNA sequencing at six independent polymorphic genetic loci (B1, SAG1, SAG3, GRA6, L358, and Apico) were used to characterize T. gondii strains in infected animals. Strains consistent with Type X, a novel genotype previously identified in over 70% of infected sea otters and four terrestrial wild carnivores along the California coast, were detected in all sampled species, including domestic cats. However, odds of Type X infection were 14 times higher (95% CI: 1.3–148.6) for wild felids than feral domestic cats. Type X infection was also linked to undeveloped lands (OR = 22, 95% CI: 2.3–250.7). A spatial cluster of terrestrial Type II infection (P = 0.04) was identified in developed lands bordering an area of increased risk for sea otter Type II infection. Two spatial clusters of animals infected with strains consistent with Type X (P≤0.01) were detected in less developed landscapes.
Differences in T. gondii genotype prevalence among domestic and wild felids, as well as the spatial distribution of genotypes, suggest co-existing domestic and wild T. gondii transmission cycles that likely overlap at the interface of developed and undeveloped lands. Anthropogenic development driving contact between these cycles may increase atypical T. gondii genotypes in domestic cats and facilitate transmission of potentially more pathogenic genotypes to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.
Author Summary
Toxoplasma gondii, a global parasite shed by domestic and wild felids, can cause severe disease in people and animals. In coastal California, USA, many sea otters have died due to T. gondii. Because T. gondii is shed by felids on land, otter infection suggests that this extremely hardy parasite is transported in freshwater runoff to aquatic environments, where animals and humans can become exposed. Molecular characterization of T. gondii strains infecting terrestrial and marine hosts can provide clues about parasite transmission cycles and sources of otter infection. By testing 373 and characterizing T. gondii infection in 85 terrestrial carnivores (domestic cats and wild carnivores) sharing the California coast, we found that Type X, the type previously identified in over 70% of infected sea otters tested, was more common in wild felids than domestic cats. However, discovery of Type X in domestic cats in this region suggests that they may play an important role in marine infection, as their populations are larger than those of wild felids. Differences in types of T. gondii among carnivores and in urban and agricultural vs. undeveloped areas suggest that there are separate, but overlapping domestic and wild cycles of T. gondii transmission in coastal California.
PMCID: PMC4038486  PMID: 24874796
7.  Efficacy and Safety of Vitamin K-Antagonists (VKA) for Atrial Fibrillation in Non-Dialysis Dependent Chronic Kidney Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e94420.
Essential information regarding efficacy and safety of vitamin K-antagonists (VKA) treatment for atrial fibrillation (AF) in non-dialysis dependent chronic kidney disease (CKD) is still lacking in current literature. The aim of our study was to compare the risks of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and major bleeds between patients without CKD (eGFR >60 ml/min), and those with moderate (eGFR 30–60 ml/min), or severe non-dialysis dependent CKD (eGFR <30 ml/min).
We included 300 patients without CKD, 294 with moderate, and 130 with severe non-dialysis dependent CKD, who were matched for age and sex. Uni- and multivariate Cox regression analyses were performed reporting hazard ratios (HRs) for the endpoint of stroke or TIA and the endpoint of major bleeds as crude values and adjusted for comorbidity and platelet-inhibitor use.
Overall, 6.2% (45/724, 1.7/100 patient years) of patients developed stroke or TIA and 15.6% (113/724, 4.8/100 patient years) a major bleeding event. Patients with severe CKD were at high risk of stroke or TIA and major bleeds during VKA treatment compared with those without renal impairment, HR 2.75 (95%CI 1.25–6.05) and 1.66 (95%CI 0.97–2.86), or with moderate CKD, HR 3.93(1.71–9.00) and 1.86 (95%CI 1.08–3.21), respectively. These risks were similar for patients without and with moderate CKD. Importantly, both less time spent within therapeutic range and high INR-variability were associated with increased risks of stroke or TIA and major bleeds in severe CKD patients.
VKA treatment for AF in patients with severe CKD has a poor safety and efficacy profile, likely related to suboptimal anticoagulation control. Our study findings stress the need for better tailored individualised anticoagulant treatment approaches for patients with AF and severe CKD.
PMCID: PMC4015895  PMID: 24817475
8.  Post-Exposure Vaccination with MP-12 Lacking NSs Protects Mice Against Lethal Rift Valley Fever Virus Challenge 
Antiviral research  2013;98(2):135-143.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) causes severe disease in humans and livestock. There are currently no approved antivirals or vaccines for the treatment or prevention of RVF disease in humans. A major virulence factor of RVFV is the NSs protein, which inhibits host transcription including the interferon (IFN)-β gene and promotes the degradation of dsRNA-dependent protein kinase, PKR. We analyzed the efficacy of the live-attenuated MP-12 vaccine strain and MP-12 variants that lack the NSs protein as post-exposure vaccinations. Although parental MP-12 failed to elicit a protective effect in mice challenged with wild-type (wt) RVFV by the intranasal route, significant protection was demonstrated by vaccination with MP-12 strains lacking NSs when they were administered at 20 to 30 min post-exposure. Viremia and virus replication in liver, spleen and brain were also inhibited by post-exposure vaccination with MP-12 lacking NSs. The protective effect was mostly lost when vaccination was delayed 6 or 24 h after intranasal RVFV challenge. When mice were challenged subcutaneously, efficacy of MP-12 lacking NSs was diminished, most likely due to more rapid dissemination of wt RVFV. Our findings suggest that post-exposure vaccination with MP-12 lacking NSs may be developed as a novel post-exposure treatment to prevent RVF.
PMCID: PMC3665270  PMID: 23523764
Rift Valley fever virus; post-exposure vaccination; phlebovirus; viral hemorrhagic fever; treatment
9.  Deletion of TOP3β, a component of FMRP-containing mRNPs, contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):1228-1237.
Implicating particular genes in the generation of complex brain and behavior phenotypes requires multiple lines of evidence. The rarity of most high impact genetic variants typically precludes the possibility of accruing statistical evidence that they are associated with a given trait. We show here that the enrichment of a rare Chromosome 22q11.22 deletion in a recently expanded Northern Finnish sub-isolate enables the detection of association between TOP3β and both schizophrenia and cognitive impairment. Biochemical analysis of TOP3β revealed that this topoisomerase is a component of cytosolic messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) and is catalytically active on RNA. The recruitment of TOP3β to mRNPs was independent of RNA cis-elements and was coupled to the co-recruitment of FMRP, the disease gene product in fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS). Thus, we uncover a novel role for TOP3β in mRNA metabolism and provide several lines of evidence implicating it in neurodevelopmental disorders.
PMCID: PMC3986889  PMID: 23912948
10.  Survey of Culture, GoldenGate Assay, Universal Biosensor Assay, and 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing as Alternative Methods of Bacterial Pathogen Detection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(10):3263-3269.
Cultivation-based assays combined with PCR or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-based methods for finding virulence factors are standard methods for detecting bacterial pathogens in stools; however, with emerging molecular technologies, new methods have become available. The aim of this study was to compare four distinct detection technologies for the identification of pathogens in stools from children under 5 years of age in The Gambia, Mali, Kenya, and Bangladesh. The children were identified, using currently accepted clinical protocols, as either controls or cases with moderate to severe diarrhea. A total of 3,610 stool samples were tested by established clinical culture techniques: 3,179 DNA samples by the Universal Biosensor assay (Ibis Biosciences, Inc.), 1,466 DNA samples by the GoldenGate assay (Illumina), and 1,006 DNA samples by sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. Each method detected different proportions of samples testing positive for each of seven enteric pathogens, enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), Shigella spp., Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enterica, and Aeromonas spp. The comparisons among detection methods included the frequency of positive stool samples and kappa values for making pairwise comparisons. Overall, the standard culture methods detected Shigella spp., EPEC, ETEC, and EAEC in smaller proportions of the samples than either of the methods based on detection of the virulence genes from DNA in whole stools. The GoldenGate method revealed the greatest agreement with the other methods. The agreement among methods was higher in cases than in controls. The new molecular technologies have a high potential for highly sensitive identification of bacterial diarrheal pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3811648  PMID: 23884998
11.  Minor Physical Anomalies in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Healthy Controls 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:743482.
Minor Physical Anomalies (MPAs) are subtle abnormalities of the head, face, and limbs, without significant cosmetic or functional impact to the individual. They are assumed to represent external markers of developmental deviations during foetal life. MPAs have been suggested to indicate severity in mental illness and constitute external markers for atypical brain development. Higher frequencies of MPAs can be found in children with autism. The aims of the present study were to examine the prevalence and patterns of MPAs in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to investigate whether MPAs are associated with symptom severity and overall functioning. Fifty adults with ASD and intelligence within the normal range and 53 healthy controls were examined with the Waldrop scale, an instrument for assessing MPAs. Face and feet were photographed enabling blinded assessment. Significant differences between the ASD and the control group were found on the MPA total scores, and also in the craniofacial region scores. Moreover, the shape of the ears was associated with autistic traits, in the ASD group. High MPA total scores were associated with poorer functioning. The findings suggest a link between MPAs, autistic traits, and level of functioning. Assessment of MPAs may assist in the diagnostic procedure of psychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3982266  PMID: 24782925
12.  Expression and prognostic significance of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor in epithelial ovarian cancer 
High expression of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (PIGR) has previously been associated with a favourable prognosis in a few cancer forms, but its expression and relationship with clinical outcome in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) has not yet been reported. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the clinicopathological correlates and prognostic significance of PIGR expression in EOC.
After an initial screening in the Human Protein Atlas portal, a validated antibody was selected for extended analysis of immunohistochemical PIGR expression in tissue microarrays with tumours from 154 incident cases of EOC from two pooled prospective population-based cohorts. Subsets of corresponding benign-appearing fallopian tubes (n = 38) and omental metastases (n = 33) were also analysed. Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox regression analysis were applied to examine the impact of PIGR expression on overall survival (OS) and ovarian cancer-specific survival (OCSS).
PIGR expression was significantly higher in fallopian tubes compared to primary tumours and metastases (p < 0.001) and lower in carcinoma of the serous subtype compared to other carcinomas (p < 0.001). PIGR expression was significantly associated with lower grade (p = 0.001), mucinous histological subtype (p = 0.002), positive progesterone receptor expression (p = 0.009) and negative or low Ki-67 expression (p = 0.003). Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed a significantly improved OS (p = 0.013) and OCSS (p = 0.009) for patients with tumours displaying high expression of PIGR. These associations were confirmed in unadjusted Cox regression analysis (HR = 0.48; 95% CI 0.26-0.87; p = 0.015 for OS and HR = 0.43, 95% CI 0.22-0.82; p = 0.011 for OCSS) but did not remain significant after adjustment for age, grade and clinical stage.
This study provides a first demonstration of PIGR expression in human fallopian tubes, primary EOC tumours and metastases. High tumour-specific expression of PIGR was found to be associated with a favourable prognosis in unadjusted, but not in adjusted, analysis. These findings are novel and merit further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3938822  PMID: 24568264
Polymeric immunoglobulin receptor; Fallopian tubes; Ovarian cancer; Prognosis
13.  14-3-3ζ as a Predictor of Early Time to Recurrence and Distant Metastasis in Hormone Receptor-Positive and -Negative Breast Cancers 
The 14-3-3ζ gene, on 8q22, is often amplified in breast cancer and encodes a survival factor that interacts with and stabilizes many key signaling proteins. We examined the relationship between the expression of 14-3-3ζ, estrogen receptor (ERα), and other parameters (tumor size, grade, nodal status, progesterone receptor, HER2, EGFR, and p53) in matched primary and recurrence tumor tissue and how these factors impact time to recurrence, properties of the recurred tumors, and site of metastasis. In this cohort of over 100 patients, median time to recurrence was 3 years (range 1-17 yrs). Our analyses of primary tumor microarray cores revealed that 14-3-3ζ status was significantly correlated with tumor grade, size, and ERα. Women with 14-3-3ζ-positive and ERα-negative tumors had the earliest time to recurrence (median 1yr, p <0.001, hazard ratio 2.89), while median time to recurrence was 7 yrs for 14-3-3ζ-negative and ER-positive tumors. Of recurred tumors, 70-75% were positive for 14-3-3ζ, up from the 45% positivity of primary tumors. High expression of 14-3-3ζ also correlated with site of recurrence and showed a propensity for distant metastases to lung and chest wall. Multifactor correlation regression analysis revealed 14-3-3ζ to be a non-redundant, independent variable that adds clinical strength in predicting risk for early recurrence in ER-positive and -negative breast cancers, providing information beyond that of all other clinical pathological features examined. Thus, high expression of 14-3-3ζ in the primary tumor was significantly associated with earlier time to recurrence and with distant metastasis. Furthermore, even when the primary breast cancers were negative-low for 14-3-3ζ, the majority acquired increased expression in the recurrence. The findings underscore the detrimental role played by 14-3-3ζ in tumor aggressiveness and suggest that reducing its expression or interfering with its actions might substantially improve the clinical outcome for breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3632437  PMID: 23271328
estrogen receptor; recurrence; 14-3-3ζ; Tamoxifen
14.  Sexuality and Gender Role in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87961.
The ‘extreme male brain theory of autism’ describes an extreme male pattern of cognitive traits defined as strong systemising abilities paired with empathising weaknesses in autism spectrum disorder. However, beyond these cognitive traits, clinical observations have suggested an ambiguous gender-typed pattern regarding several sexually dimorphic traits.
The aim of the present study was to investigate if patterns of non-cognitive sexually dimorphic traits differed between the autism spectrum disorder and control groups. Fifty adults with autism spectrum disorder and intelligence within the normal range, and 53 neurotypical controls responded to questions on gender role, self-perceived gender typicality and gender identity, as well as sexuality. Measures used were a Swedish modification of the Bem Sex Role Inventory and questions on sexuality and gender designed for the purpose of this study. Our results showed that one common gender role emerged in the autism spectrum disorder group. Masculinity (e.g. assertiveness, leadership and competitiveness) was weaker in the autism spectrum disorder group than in the controls, across men and women. Self-perceived gender typicality did not differ between the groups but tomboyism and bisexuality were overrepresented amongst women with autism spectrum disorder. Lower libido was reported amongst both male and female participants with autism spectrum disorder compared with controls. We conclude that the extreme male patterns of cognitive functions in the autistic brain do not seem to extend to gender role and sexuality. A gender-atypical pattern for these types of characteristics is suggested in autism spectrum disorder.
PMCID: PMC3909328  PMID: 24498228
15.  Role of Mitochondria in Parvovirus Pathology 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86124.
Proper functioning of the mitochondria is crucial for the survival of the cell. Viruses are able to interfere with mitochondrial functions as they infect the host cell. Parvoviruses are known to induce apoptosis in infected cells, but the role of the mitochondria in parvovirus induced cytopathy is only partially known. Here we demonstrate with confocal and electron microscopy that canine parvovirus (CPV) associated with the mitochondrial outer membrane from the onset of infection. During viral entry a transient depolarization of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and increase in ROS level was detected. Subsequently, mitochondrial homeostasis was normalized shortly, as detected by repolarization of the mitochondrial membrane and decrease of ROS. Indeed, activation of cell survival signalling through ERK1/2 cascade was observed early in CPV infected cells. At 12 hours post infection, concurrent with the expression of viral non-structural protein 1, damage to the mitochondrial structure and depolarization of its membrane were apparent. Results of this study provide additional insight of parvovirus pathology and also more general information of virus-mitochondria association.
PMCID: PMC3897641  PMID: 24465910
16.  Intraflagellar Transport Gene Expression Associated with Short Cilia in Smoking and COPD 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85453.
Smoking and COPD are associated with decreased mucociliary clearance, and healthy smokers have shorter cilia in the large airway than nonsmokers. We hypothesized that changes in cilia length are consistent throughout the airway, and we further hypothesized that smokers with COPD have shorter cilia than healthy smokers. Because intraflagellar transport (IFT) is the process by which cilia of normal length are produced and maintained, and alterations in IFT lead to short cilia in model organisms, we also hypothesized that smoking induces changes in the expression of IFT-related genes in the airway epithelium of smokers and smokers with COPD. To assess these hypotheses, airway epithelium was obtained via bronchoscopic brushing. Cilia length was assessed by measuring 100 cilia (10 cilia on each of 10 cells) per subject and Affymetrix microarrays were used to evaluate IFT gene expression in nonsmokers and healthy smokers in 2 independent data sets from large and small airway as well as in COPD smokers in a data set from the small airway. In the large and small airway epithelium, cilia were significantly shorter in healthy smokers than nonsmokers, and significantly shorter in COPD smokers than in both healthy smokers and nonsmokers. The gene expression data confirmed that a set of 8 IFT genes were down-regulated in smokers in both data sets; however, no differences were seen in COPD smokers compared to healthy smokers. These results support the concept that loss of cilia length contributes to defective mucociliary clearance in COPD, and that smoking-induced changes in expression of IFT genes may be one mechanism of abnormally short cilia in smokers. Strategies to normalize cilia length may be an important avenue for novel COPD therapies.
PMCID: PMC3896362  PMID: 24465567
17.  Shared genetic influences on ADHD symptoms and very low-frequency EEG activity: a twin study 
Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines  2011;53(6):10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02501.x.
ADHD is a common and highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder with a complex aetiology. The identification of candidate intermediate phenotypes that are both heritable and genetically linked to ADHD may facilitate the detection of susceptibility genes and elucidate aetiological pathways. Very low-frequency (VLF; <0.5Hz) electroencephalographic (EEG) activity represents a promising indicator of risk for ADHD, but it is currently unclear whether it is heritable or genetically linked to the disorder.
Direct-current (DC)-EEG was recorded during a cognitive activation condition in 30 monozygotic and dizygotic adolescent twin pairs concordant or discordant for high ADHD symptom scores, and 37 monozygotic and dizygotic matched-control twin pairs with low ADHD symptom scores. Structural equation modelling was used to quantify the genetic and environmental contributions to the phenotypic covariance between ADHD and VLF activity.
ADHD was significantly associated with reduced VLF power during cognitive activation, which suggests reduced synchronisation of widespread neuronal activity. VLF power demonstrated modest heritability (0.31) and the genetic correlation (−0.80) indicated a substantial degree of overlap in genetic influences on ADHD and VLF activity.
Altered VLF activity is a potential candidate intermediate phenotype of ADHD, which warrants further investigation of underlying neurobiological and genetic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3859923  PMID: 22118296
ADHD; EEG; very low-frequency activity; endophenotype; genetics; heritability
18.  RAADS-14 Screen: validity of a screening tool for autism spectrum disorder in an adult psychiatric population 
Molecular Autism  2013;4:49.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult to distinguish from other psychiatric disorders. The clinical assessment of ASD is lengthy, and has to be performed by a specialized clinician. Therefore, a screening instrument to aid in the identification of patients who may have undiagnosed ASD should be useful. The purpose of this study was to develop such a screening instrument.
Based on the 80 item Ritvo Autism and Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R), we developed a 14 item self-evaluation questionnaire, the RAADS-14 Screen. In total, 135 adults with ASD and 508 psychiatric controls completed the abridged version of the RAADS-R.
The RAADS-14 Screen score was significantly higher in the ASD group than in the control samples, with a median score of 32 for ASD, 15 for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and 11 for other psychiatric disorders (P < 0.001). A cut-off score of 14 or above reached a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 46 to 64%. A factor analysis identified three factors consistent with mentalizing deficits, social anxiety, and sensory reactivity relevant for the diagnosis of ASD. The psychometric properties of RAADS-14 Screen were shown to be satisfactory.
The results of this study indicate that RAADS-14 Screen is a promising measure in screening for ASD in adult psychiatric outpatients.
PMCID: PMC3907126  PMID: 24321513
Autistic disorder; Asperger syndrome; Adult; Screening; Self-assessment; Rating scale
19.  Generation of a human airway epithelium derived basal cell line with multipotent differentiation capacity 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):135.
As the multipotent progenitor population of the airway epithelium, human airway basal cells (BC) replenish the specialized differentiated cell populations of the mucociliated airway epithelium during physiological turnover and repair. Cultured primary BC divide a limited number of times before entering a state of replicative senescence, preventing the establishment of long-term replicating cultures of airway BC that maintain their original phenotype.
To generate an immortalized human airway BC cell line, primary human airway BC obtained by brushing the airway epithelium of healthy nonsmokers were infected with a retrovirus expressing human telomerase (hTERT). The resulting immortalized cell line was then characterized under non-differentiating and differentiating air-liquid interface (ALI) culture conditions using ELISA, TaqMan quantitative PCR, Western analysis, and immunofluorescent and immunohistochemical staining analysis for cell type specific markers. In addition, the ability of the cell line to respond to environmental stimuli under differentiating ALI culture was assessed.
We successfully generated an immortalized human airway BC cell line termed BCi-NS1 via expression of hTERT. A single cell derived clone from the parental BCi-NS1 cells, BCi-NS1.1, retains characteristics of the original primary cells for over 40 passages and demonstrates a multipotent differentiation capacity into secretory (MUC5AC, MUC5B), goblet (TFF3), Clara (CC10) and ciliated (DNAI1, FOXJ1) cells on ALI culture. The cells can respond to external stimuli such as IL-13, resulting in alteration of the normal differentiation process.
Development of immortalized human airway BC that retain multipotent differentiation capacity over long-term culture should be useful in understanding the biology of BC, the response of BC to environmental stress, and as a target for assessment of pharmacologic agents.
PMCID: PMC3907041  PMID: 24298994
Airway; Basal cell; Immortalized; hTERT; Progenitor; Differentiation
20.  Prediction and prevention of the next pandemic zoonosis 
Lancet  2012;380(9857):1956-1965.
Most pandemics—eg, HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, pandemic influenza—originate in animals, are caused by viruses, and are driven to emerge by ecological, behavioural, or socioeconomic changes. Despite their substantial effects on global public health and growing understanding of the process by which they emerge, no pandemic has been predicted before infecting human beings. We review what is known about the pathogens that emerge, the hosts that they originate in, and the factors that drive their emergence. We discuss challenges to their control and new efforts to predict pandemics, target surveillance to the most crucial interfaces, and identify prevention strategies. New mathematical modelling, diagnostic, communications, and informatics technologies can identify and report hitherto unknown microbes in other species, and thus new risk assessment approaches are needed to identify microbes most likely to cause human disease. We lay out a series of research and surveillance opportunities and goals that could help to overcome these challenges and move the global pandemic strategy from response to pre-emption.
PMCID: PMC3712877  PMID: 23200504
21.  Historical Prevalence and Distribution of Avian Influenza Virus A(H7N9) among Wild Birds 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(12):2031-2033.
We examined 48 published studies for which sample sizes could be ascertained to determine the historic prevalence of influenza A(H7N9) virus in wild bird populations and reviewed GenBank data to further establish its distribution. Low prevalence (0.0093%) in Asia suggests > 30,000 samples would be required to detect the H7N9 subtype in wild birds.
PMCID: PMC3840878  PMID: 24274638
expedited, population surveillance; influenza, influenza A virus, H7N9 subtype, wild animals, wild birds, avian, Asia, viruses, zoonoses, viruses
22.  Elderly Healthcare Monitoring Using an Avatar-Based 3D Virtual Environment 
Homecare systems for elderly people are becoming increasingly important due to both economic reasons as well as patients’ preferences. Sensor-based surveillance technologies are an expected future trend, but research so far has devoted little attention to the User Interface (UI) design of such systems and the user-centric design approach. In this paper, we explore the possibilities of an avatar-based 3D visualization system, which exploits wearable sensors and human activity simulations. We present a technical prototype and the evaluation of alternative concept designs for UIs based on a 3D virtual world. The evaluation was conducted with homecare providers through focus groups and an online survey. Our results show firstly that systems taking advantage of 3D virtual world visualization techniques have potential especially due to the privacy preserving and simplified information presentation style, and secondly that simple representations and glancability should be emphasized in the design. The identified key use cases highlight that avatar-based 3D presentations can be helpful if they provide an overview as well as details on demand.
PMCID: PMC3881167  PMID: 24351747
home care; elderly care; wearable sensors; 3D visualizations; avatars; information visualization; user interfaces; user studies
23.  The risk of bleeding with duloxetine treatment in patients who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): analysis of placebo-controlled trials and post-marketing adverse event reports 
To assess the safety of duloxetine with regards to bleeding-related events in patients who concomitantly did, versus did not, use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin.
Safety data from all placebo-controlled trials of duloxetine conducted between December 1993 and December 2010, and post-marketing reports from duloxetine-treated patients in the US Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), were searched for bleeding-related treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs). The percentage of patients with bleeding-related TEAEs was summarized and compared between treatment groups in all the placebo-controlled studies. Differences between NSAID user and non-user subgroups from clinical trial data were analyzed by a logistic regression model that included therapy, NSAID use, and therapy-by-NSAID subgroup interaction. In addition, to determine if higher duloxetine doses are associated with an increased incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs, and whether the use of concomitant NSAIDs might influence the dose effect if one exists, placebo-controlled clinical trials with duloxetine fixed doses of 60 mg, 120 mg, and placebo were analyzed. Also, the incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs reported for duloxetine alone was compared with the incidence in patients treated with duloxetine and concomitant NSAIDs. Finally, the number of bleeding-related cases reported for duloxetine in the FAERS database was compared with the numbers reported for all other drugs.
Across duloxetine clinical trials, there was a significantly greater incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs in duloxetine- versus placebo-treated patients overall and also in those patients who did not take concomitant NSAIDS, but no significant difference was seen among those patients who did take concomitant NSAIDS. There was no significant difference in the incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs in the subset of patients treated with duloxetine 120 mg once daily versus those treated with 60 mg once daily regardless of concomitant NSAID use. The combination of duloxetine and NSAIDs was associated with a statistically significantly higher incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs compared with duloxetine alone. A similarly higher incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs was seen in patients treated with placebo and concomitant NSAIDs compared with placebo alone. Bleeding-related TEAEs reported in the FAERS database were disproportionally more frequent for duloxetine taken with NSAIDs compared with the full FAERS background, but there was no difference in the reporting of bleeding-related TEAEs when the cases reported for duloxetine taken with NSAIDs were compared against the cases reported for NSAIDs alone.
Concomitant use of NSAIDs was associated with a higher incidence of bleeding-related TEAEs in clinical trials regardless of whether patients were taking duloxetine or placebo; bleeding-related TEAEs did not appear to increase along with duloxetine dose regardless of NSAID use. In spontaneously reported post-marketing data, the combination of duloxetine and NSAID use was not associated with an increased reporting of bleeding-related events when compared to NSAID use alone.
PMCID: PMC3849082  PMID: 24348072
antidepressant; gastrointestinal bleeding; NSAID; aspirin
25.  Neuropsychological correlates of emotional lability in children with ADHD 
Emotional lability (EL) is commonly seen in patients with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The reasons for this association are currently unknown. To address this question we examined the relationship between ADHD and EL symptoms, and performance on a range of neuropsychological tasks to clarify whether EL symptoms are predicted by particular cognitive and/or motivational dysfunctions and whether these associations are mediated by the presence of ADHD symptoms.
A large multi-site sample of 424 carefully diagnosed ADHD cases and 564 unaffected siblings and controls aged 6 to 18 years performed a broad neuropsychological test battery, including a Go/No-Go Task, a warned 4-choice Reaction Time task, the Maudsley Index of Childhood Delay Aversion, and Digit span backwards. Neuropsychological variables were aggregated as indices of processing speed, response variability, executive functions, choice impulsivity and the influence of energetic and/or motivational factors.
EL and ADHD symptoms were regressed on each neuropsychological variable in separate analyses controlling for age, gender and IQ, and, in subsequent regression analyses, for ADHD and EL symptoms respectively.
Neuropsychological variables significantly predicted ADHD and EL symptoms with moderate to low regression coefficients. However, the association between neuropsychological parameters on EL disappeared entirely when the effect of ADHD symptoms was taken into account, revealing that the association between the neuropsychological performance measures and EL is completely mediated statistically by variations in ADHD symptoms. Conversely, neuropsychological effects on ADHD symptoms remained after EL symptom severity was taken into account.
The neuropsychological parameters examined here predict ADHD more strongly than EL. They cannot explain EL symptoms beyond what is already accounted for by ADHD symptom severity. The association between EL and ADHD cannot be explained by these cognitive or motivational deficits. Alternative mechanisms, including overlapping genetic influences (pleiotropic effects), and/or alternative neuropsychological processes need to be considered.
PMCID: PMC3472099  PMID: 22882111
ADHD; neuropsychological performance; emotional lability; executive functions; delay aversion

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