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1.  Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus G-protein coupled receptor activates the canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway 
Virology Journal  2014;11(1):218.
KSHV is a tumorigenic γ-herpesvirus that has been identified as the etiologic agent of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), a multifocal highly vascularized neoplasm that is the most common malignancy associated with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus encodes a constitutively active chemokine receptor homologue, vGPCR that possesses potent angiogenic and tumorigenic properties, and is critical for KSHV pathobiology. To date, a number of signaling pathways have been identified as key in mediating vGPCR oncogenic potential.
In this study, we identify a novel pathway, the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, which is dysregulated by vGPCR expression in endothelial cells. Expression of vGPCR in endothelial cells enhances the nuclear accumulation of β-catenin, that correlates with an increase in β-catenin transcriptional activity. Activation of β-catenin signaling by vGPCR is dependent on the PI3K/Akt pathway, as treatment of vGPCR-expressing cells with a pharmacological inhibitor of PI3K, leads to a decreased activation of a β-catenin-driven reporter, a significant decrease in expression of β-catenin target genes, and reduced endothelial tube formation.
Given the critical role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in angiogenesis and tumorigenesis, the findings from this study suggest a novel mechanism in KSHV-induced malignancies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12985-014-0218-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4304609  PMID: 25514828
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus; Wnt/β-catenin signaling; Angiogenesis
2.  Hurricane Katrina Experience and the Risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression among Pregnant Women 
Little is known about the effects of disaster exposure and intensity on the development of mental disorders among pregnant women. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of exposure to Hurricane Katrina on mental health in pregnant women.
Prospective cohort epidemiological study.
Tertiary hospitals in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, USA.
Women who were pregnant during Hurricane Katrina or became pregnant immediately after the hurricane.
Main outcome measures
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
The frequency of PTSD was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (13.8%) than women without high hurricane exposure (1.3%), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 16.8; 95 % confidence interval (CI): 2.6-106.6; after adjustment for maternal race, age, education, smoking and alcohol use, family income, parity, and other confounders. The frequency of depression was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (32.3%) than women without high hurricane exposure (12.3%), with aOR of 3.3 (1.6-7.1). Moreover, the risk of PTSD and depression increased with an increasing number of severe experiences of the hurricane.
Pregnant women who had severe hurricane experiences were at a significantly increased risk for PTSD and depression. This information should be useful for screening pregnant women who are at higher risk of developing mental disorders after disaster.
PMCID: PMC3501144  PMID: 20701175
Depression; disaster; Hurricane Katrina; post-traumatic stress disorder; pregnancy
3.  Human cytomegalovirus infection inhibits CXCL12- mediated migration and invasion of human extravillous cytotrophoblasts 
Virology Journal  2012;9:255.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, a series of tightly regulated interactions govern the formation of a highly invasive population of fetal-derived extravillous cytotrophoblasts (EVT). Successful pregnancy is dependent on efficient invasion of the uterine wall and maternal spiral arteries by EVT. Dysregulated trophoblast invasion is associated with intrauterine growth restriction, birth defects, spontaneous abortion and preeclampsia. A number of soluble growth factors, cytokines, and chemokines modulate this process, fine-tuning the temporal and spatial aspects of cytotrophoblast invasion. In particular, the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis has been shown to specifically modulate cytotrophoblast differentiation, invasion, and survival throughout early pregnancy. Infection with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has been associated with impaired differentiation of cytotrophoblasts down the invasive pathway, specifically dysregulating the response to mitogens including epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). In this study, the effect of HCMV infection on the CXCL12-mediated migration and invasion of the EVT cell line SGHPL-4 was investigated.
Infection with HCMV significantly decreased secretion of CXCL12 by SGHPL-4 cells, and induced a striking perinuclear accumulation of the chemokine. HCMV infection significantly increased mRNA and total cell surface expression of the two known receptors for CXCL12: CXCR4 and CXCR7. Functionally, HCMV-infected SGHPL-4 cells were unable to migrate or invade in response to a gradient of soluble CXCL12 in transwell assays.
Collectively, these studies demonstrate that HCMV impairs EVT migration and invasion induced by CXCL12. As HCMV has the ability to inhibit EVT migration and invasion through dysregulation of other relevant signaling pathways, it is likely that the virus affects multiple signaling pathways to impair placentation and contribute to some of the placental defects seen in HCMV-positive pregnancies.
PMCID: PMC3545970  PMID: 23116176
Human cytomegalovirus; Placentation; Extravillous cytotrophoblasts; Chemokines; CXCL12; CXCR4 and CXCR7; Invasion
4.  Hurricane Katrina-related maternal stress, maternal mental health, and early infant temperament 
Maternal and child health journal  2009;14(4):511-518.
To investigate temperament in infants whose mothers were exposed to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and to determine if high hurricane exposure is associated with difficult infant temperament. A prospective cohort study of women giving birth in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA (n=288) in 2006–2007 was conducted. Questionnaires and interviews assessed the mother’s experiences during the hurricane, living conditions, and psychological symptoms, two months and 12 months postpartum. Infant temperament characteristics were reported by the mother using the activity, adaptability, approach, intensity, and mood scales of the Early Infant and Toddler Temperament Questionnaires, and “difficult temperament” was defined as scoring in the top quartile for three or more of the scales. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between hurricane experience, mental health, and infant temperament. Serious experiences of the hurricane did not strongly increase the risk of difficult infant temperament (association with 3 or more serious experiences of the hurricane: adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.63–3.58 at 2 months; 0.58, 0.15–2.28 at 12 months). Maternal mental health was associated with report of difficult infant temperament, with women more likely to report having a difficult infant temperament at one year if they had screened positive for PTSD (aOR 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61–5.41), depression, (aOR 3.16, 95% CI 1.22–8.20) or hostility (aOR 2.17, 95% CI 0.81–5.82) at 2 months. Large associations between maternal stress due to a natural disaster and infant temperament were not seen, but maternal mental health was associated with reporting difficult temperament. Further research is needed to determine the effects of maternal exposure to disasters on child temperament, but in order to help babies born in the aftermath of disaster, the focus may need to be on the mother’s mental health.
PMCID: PMC3472436  PMID: 19554438
infant temperament; natural disaster; postpartum depression; post-traumatic stress disorder
5.  Combined effects of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav on the mental health of mothers of small children 
Few studies assessed the results of multiple exposures to disaster. Our objective was to examine the effect of experiencing Hurricane Gustav on mental health of women previously exposed to Hurricane Katrina. 102 women from Southern Louisiana were interviewed by telephone. Experience of the hurricanes was assessed with questions about injury, danger, and damage, while depression was assessed with the Edinburgh Depression Scale and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using the Post-traumatic Checklist. Minor stressors, social support, trait resilience, and perceived benefit had been measured previously. Mental health was examined with linear and log-linear models. Women who had a severe experience of both Gustav and Katrina scored higher on the mental health scales, but finding new ways to cope after Katrina or feeling more prepared was not protective. About half the population had better mental health scores after Gustav than at previous measures. Improvement was more likely among those who reported high social support or low levels of minor stressors, or were younger. Trait resilience mitigated the effect of hurricane exposure. Multiple disaster experiences are associated with worse mental health overall, though many women are resilient. Perceiving benefit after the first disaster was not protective.
PMCID: PMC3472438  PMID: 21418428
disaster; depression; post-traumatic stress disorder; women
6.  Loss of Resources and Hurricane Experience as Predictors of Postpartum Depression Among Women in Southern Louisiana 
Journal of Women's Health  2010;19(5):877-884.
After a natural disaster, mental disorders often become a long-term public health concern. Previous studies under smaller-scale natural disaster conditions suggest loss of psychosocial resources is associated with psychological distress.
We examined the occurrence of depression 6 and 12 months postpartum among 208 women residing in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who were pregnant during or immediately after Hurricane Katrina's landfall. Based on the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory, we explored the contribution of both tangible/financial and nontangible (psychosocial) loss of resources (LOR) on the outcome of depression, measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). We also investigated the influence on depression of individuals' hurricane experience through a Hurricane Experience Score (HES) that includes such factors as witnessing death, contact with flood waters, and injury to self or family members.
Both tangible and nontangible LOR were associated with depression cross-sectionally and prospectively. Severe hurricane exposure (high HES) was also associated with depression. Regression analysis showed LOR-associated depression was explained almost entirely by nontangible rather than tangible factors. Consistent with COR theory, however, nontangible LOR explained some of the association between severe hurricane exposure and depression in our models. A similar result was seen prospectively for depression at 12 months, even controlling for depression symptoms at 6 months.
These results suggest the need for preventive measures aimed at preserving psychosocial resources to reduce the long-term effects of disasters.
PMCID: PMC2875990  PMID: 20438305
7.  Resilience after Hurricane Katrina among pregnant and postpartum women 
Although disaster causes distress, many disaster victims do not develop long-term psychopathology. Others report benefits after traumatic experiences (post-traumatic growth). The objective of this study was to examine demographic and hurricane-related predictors of resilience and post-traumatic growth.
222 pregnant southern Louisiana women were interviewed, and 292 postpartum women completed interviews at delivery and eight weeks later. Resilience was measured by scores lower than a non-affected population, using the Edinburgh Depression Scale and the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist (PCL). Post-traumatic growth was measured by questions about perceived benefits of the storm. Women were asked about their experience of the hurricane, addressing danger, illness/injury, and damage. Chi-square tests and log-Poisson models were used to calculate associations and relative risks (RR) for demographics, hurricane experience, and mental health resilience and perceived benefit.
35% of pregnant and 34% of the postpartum women were resilient from depression, while 56% and 49% were resilient from post-traumatic stress disorder. Resilience was most likely among white women, older women, and women who had a partner. A greater experience of the storm, particularly injury/illness or danger, was associated with lower resilience. Experiencing damage due to the storm was associated with increased report of some perceived benefits.
Many pregnant and postpartum women are resilient from the mental health consequences of disaster, and perceive benefits after a traumatic experience. Certain aspects of experiencing disaster reduce resilience, but may increase perceived benefit.
PMCID: PMC2822707  PMID: 20123173
resilience; depression; postpartum; pregnancy; disaster; post-traumatic stress disorder
Journal of periodontology  2009;80(11):1742-1749.
Few studies have specifically examined the relationship between periodontal disease and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The objective of this study was to examine whether maternal periodontal disease is associated with GDM.
A case-control study was conducted of 53 pregnant women with GDM and 106 pregnant women without GDM at Woman’s Hospital, Baton Rouge, USA. The periodontal examinations were performed by a calibrated dentist who was blinded on the diabetic status of the pregnant women. Periodontitis was defined as the presence of any site with a probing depth (PD) ≥ 4 mm or a clinical attachment loss (CAL) ≥ 4 mm. The severity of periodontal disease was measured in quartiles of PD and CAL. Univariable analysis and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine the relationships between periodontal disease and GDM.
The percentage of periodontitis was 77.4% in women with GDM and 57.5% in pregnant non-GDM women, with an odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of 2.5 (1.2–5.3). After adjusting for confounding variables of maternal age, parity, race, marital status, education, family income, smoking, alcohol consumption, systemic antibiotics in pregnancy, family history of diabetes, income, dental insurance coverage and body mass index, the adjusted OR (95% CI) was 2.6 (1.1–6.1). The adjusted ORs (95% CIs) of GDM comparing the highest-to-lowest quartiles of PD and CAL were 3.8 (1.0–14.0) and 4.5 (1.2–16.9).
This study supports the hypothesis of an association between periodontal disease and GDM.
PMCID: PMC3011834  PMID: 19905944
Case-control study; gestational diabetes mellitus; periodontal disease; pregnancy
9.  Exposure to Hurricane Katrina, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Birth Outcomes 
Little is known about the effects of natural disasters on pregnancy outcomes. We studied mental health and birth outcomes among women exposed to Hurricane Katrina.
We collected data prospectively from a cohort of 301 women from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Pregnant women were interviewed during pregnancy about their experiences during the hurricane, as well as whether they had experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or depression. High hurricane exposure was defined as having three or more of the eight severe hurricane experiences, such as feeling that one's life was in danger, walking through floodwaters, or having a loved one die.
The frequency of low birth weight was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (14.0%) than women without high hurricane exposure (4.7%), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 3.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13−9.89; p<0.01. The frequency of preterm birth was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (14.0%) than women without high hurricane exposure (6.3%), with aOR: 2.3; 95% CI: 0.82−6.38; p>0.05. There were no significant differences in the frequency of low birth weight or preterm birth between women with PTSD or depression and women without PTSD or depression (p>0.05).
Women who had high hurricane exposure were at an increased risk of having low birth weight infants. Rather than a general exposure to disaster, exposure to specific severe disaster events and the intensity of the disaster experience may be better predictors of poor pregnancy outcomes. To prevent poor pregnancy outcomes during and after disasters, future disaster preparedness may need to include the planning of earlier evacuation of pregnant women to minimize their exposure to severe disaster events.
PMCID: PMC2635112  PMID: 18703903
Depression; disaster; low birth weight; post-traumatic stress disorder; pregnancy
10.  Postpartum mental health after Hurricane Katrina: A cohort study 
Natural disaster is often a cause of psychopathology, and women are vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Depression is also common after a woman gives birth. However, no research has addressed postpartum women's mental health after natural disaster.
Interviews were conducted in 2006–2007 with women who had been pregnant during or shortly after Hurricane Katrina. 292 New Orleans and Baton Rouge women were interviewed at delivery and 2 months postpartum. Depression was assessed using the Edinburgh Depression Scale and PTSD using the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist. Women were asked about their experience of the hurricane with questions addressing threat, illness, loss, and damage. Chi-square tests and log-binomial/Poisson models were used to calculate associations and relative risks (RR).
Black women and women with less education were more likely to have had a serious experience of the hurricane. 18% of the sample met the criteria for depression and 13% for PTSD at two months postpartum. Feeling that one's life was in danger was associated with depression and PTSD, as were injury to a family member and severe impact on property. Overall, two or more severe experiences of the storm was associated with an increased risk for both depression (relative risk (RR) 1.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08–2.89) and PTSD (RR 3.68, 95% CI 1.80–7.52).
Postpartum women who experience natural disaster severely are at increased risk for mental health problems, but overall rates of depression and PTSD do not seem to be higher than in studies of the general population.
PMCID: PMC2702337  PMID: 19505322

Results 1-10 (10)