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1.  Family and Home Characteristics Correlate with Mold in Homes 
Environmental research  2013;124:67-70.
Previously, we demonstrated that infants residing in homes with higher Environmental Relative Moldiness Index were at greater risk for developing asthma by age seven. The purpose of this analysis was to identify the family and home characteristics associated with higher moldiness index values in infants' homes at age one. Univariate linear regression of each characteristic determined that family factors associated with moldiness index were race and income. Home characteristics associated with the moldiness index values were: air conditioning, carpet, age of the home, season of home assessment, and house dust mite allergen. Parental history of asthma, use of dehumidifier, visible mold, dog and cat allergen levels were not associated with moldiness index. Results of multiple linear regression showed that older homes had 2.9 units higher moldiness index (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.4, 5.4), whereas homes with central air conditioning had 2.5 units lower moldiness index (95% CI = -4.7, -0.4). In addition, higher dust mite allergen levels and carpeting were positively and negatively associated with higher moldiness index, respectively. Because older homes and lack of air conditioning were also correlated with race and lower income, whereas carpeting was associated with newer homes, the multivariate analyses suggests that lower overall socioeconomic position is associated with higher moldiness index values. This may lead to increased asthma risk in homes inhabited by susceptible, vulnerable population subgroups. Further, age of the home was a surrogate of income, race and carpeting in our population; thus the use of these factors should carefully be evaluated in future studies.
PMCID: PMC3714399  PMID: 23683889
mold; environmental relative moldiness index; air conditioning; age of the home; socioeconomic position
2.  Performance of Pharmacovigilance Signal Detection Algorithms for the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System 
Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics  2013;93(6):10.1038/clpt.2013.24.
Signal detection algorithms (SDAs) are recognized as vital tools in pharmacovigilance. However, their performance characteristics are generally unknown. By leveraging a unique gold standard recently made public by the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership and by conducting a unique systematic evaluation, we provide new insights into the diagnostic potential and characteristics of SDAs routinely applied to FDAs adverse event reporting system. We find that SDAs can attain reasonable predictive accuracy in signaling adverse events. Two performance classes emerge, indicating that the class of approaches addressing confounding and masking effects benefits safety surveillance. Our study shows that not all events are equally detectable, suggesting that specific events might be monitored more effectively through other sources. We provide performance guidelines for several operating scenarios to inform the trade-off between sensitivity and specificity for specific use cases. We also propose an approach and apply it to identify optimal signaling thresholds given specific misclassification tolerances.
PMCID: PMC3857139  PMID: 23571771
drug safety; pharmacovigilance; adverse event reporting system; signal detection algorithms
3.  Early mobilization of patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: a retrospective cohort study 
Critical Care  2014;18(1):R38.
Critical illness is a well-recognized cause of neuromuscular weakness and impaired physical functioning. Physical therapy (PT) has been demonstrated to be safe and effective for critically ill patients. The impact of such an intervention on patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has not been well characterized. We describe the feasibility and impact of active PT on ECMO patients.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of 100 consecutive patients receiving ECMO in the medical intensive care unit of a university hospital.
Of the 100 patients receiving ECMO, 35 (35%) participated in active PT; 19 as bridge to transplant and 16 as bridge to recovery. Duration of ECMO was 14.3 ± 10.9 days. Patients received 7.2 ± 6.5 PT sessions while on ECMO. During PT sessions, 18 patients (51%) ambulated (median distance 175 feet, range 4 to 2,800) and 9 patients were on vasopressors. Whilst receiving ECMO, 23 patients were liberated from invasive mechanical ventilation. Of the 16 bridge to recovery patients, 14 (88%) survived to discharge; 10 bridge to transplant patients (53%) survived to transplantation, with 9 (90%) surviving to discharge. Of the 23 survivors, 13 (57%) went directly home, 8 (35%) went to acute rehabilitation, and 2 (9%) went to subacute rehabilitation. There were no PT-related complications.
Active PT, including ambulation, can be achieved safely and reliably in ECMO patients when an experienced, multidisciplinary team is utilized. More research is needed to define the barriers to PT and the impact on survival and long-term functional, neurocognitive outcomes in this population.
PMCID: PMC4056162  PMID: 24571627
4.  Exposure to Oral Fluoroquinolones and the Risk of Retinal Detachment: Retrospective Analyses of Two Large Healthcare Databases 
Drug Safety  2014;37:171-182.
A recent Canadian case–control study reported a 4.5-fold increased risk of retinal detachment (RD) during oral fluoroquinolone use. Of the fluoroquinolone-exposed cases, 83 % were exposed to ciprofloxacin. We sought to replicate this finding, and assess whether it applied to all fluoroquinolones.
In two large US healthcare databases, we performed three case–control analyses: one replicating the recent study; one addressing additional potential confounders; and one that increased sample size by dropping the Canadian study’s requirement for a prior ophthalmologist visit. We also performed a self-controlled case-series (SCCS) analysis in which each subject served as his or her own comparator.
In the replication case–control analyses, the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for any exposure to fluoroquinolones or ciprofloxacin were approximately 1.2 in both databases, and were statistically significant, and the ORs for current exposure were modestly above 1 in one database, modestly below 1 in the other, and not statistically significant. In the other case–control analyses, the ORs were close to 1. In a post hoc age-stratified case–control analysis, we observed an association of RD with fluoroquinolone exposure among older subjects in one of the two databases. All estimates from the SCCS analyses were below 1.2 and none was statistically significant.
The present study does not confirm the recent Canadian study’s finding of a strong relationship between RD and current exposure to fluoroquinolones. Instead, it found a modest association between RD and current or any exposure to fluoroquinolones in the case–control analyses, and no association in the SCCS analyses.
PMCID: PMC3936132  PMID: 24526267
5.  FOXP3 hypermethylation is associated with diesel exhaust exposure and risk for childhood asthma 
PMCID: PMC3563724  PMID: 23260754
DNA methylation; respiratory hypersensitivity; saliva; pyrosequencing; wheezing; traffic-related air pollution
6.  Exposure to airborne metals and particulate matter and risk for youth adjudicated for criminal activity 
Environmental research  2011;111(8):10.1016/j.envres.2011.08.008.
Antisocial behavior is a product of multiple interacting sociohereditary variables, yet there is increasing evidence that metal exposure, particularly, manganese and lead, play a role in its epigenesis. Other metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and mercury, and exposure to traffic-related air pollution, such as fine particulate matter (≤2.5 μm) have been associated with neurological deficits, yet largely unexplored with respect to their relationship with delinquent behavior. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the ecological relationship between county-wide reported airborne emissions of air metals, particulate matter, and youth adjudicated for criminal activity.
Metal exposure data were collected from the Environmental Protection Agency AirData. Population statistics were obtained from the United States Census 2000 and adjudication data was obtained from the Courts of Common Pleases from each Ohio County.
Simple correlations were calculated with the percentage of adjudications, all covariates, and estimated metal air emissions. Separate negative binomial regression models for each pollutant were used to provide an estimated risk ratio of pollutant emissions on the risk of adjudication for all Ohio counties adjusting for urban–rural residence, percentage of African Americans, median family income, percentage of family below poverty, percentage of high school graduation in 25 years and older populations, and population density.
Metal emissions and PM in 1999 were all correlated with adjudication rate (2003–2005 average). Metal emissions were associated with slightly higher risk of adjudication, with about 3–4% increased risk per natural log unit of metal emission except chromium. The associations achieved statistical significance for manganese and mercury. The particulate matter ≤2.5 and ≤10 μm emissions had a higher risk estimate, with 12% and 19% increase per natural log unit emission, respectively, and also achieved statistical significance.
In summary, airborne exposure to manganese, mercury, and particulate matter are associated with increased risk of adjudication. Causality cannot be proven in observational studies such as this one, but the association warrants further examination in other research studies. Comprehensive epidemiologic investigations of metal exposure in pediatric populations should include social health outcomes, including measures of delinquent or criminal activity. Furthermore, the influence of metals on the neurotoxic pathway leading to delinquent activity should be further explored.
PMCID: PMC3883046  PMID: 21864838
Manganese; Lead; Particulate matter; Mercury; Air pollution; Ecological study
7.  Primary care and youth mental health in Ireland: qualitative study in deprived urban areas 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:194.
Mental disorders account for six of the 20 leading causes of disability worldwide with a very high prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in youth aged 15–24 years. However, healthcare professionals are faced with many challenges in the identification and treatment of mental and substance use disorders in young people (e.g. young people’s unwillingness to seek help from healthcare professionals, lack of training, limited resources etc.) The challenge of youth mental health for primary care is especially evident in urban deprived areas, where rates of and risk factors for mental health problems are especially common. There is an emerging consensus that primary care is well placed to address mental and substance use disorders in young people especially in deprived urban areas. This study aims to describe healthcare professionals’ experience and attitudes towards screening and early intervention for mental and substance use disorders among young people (16–25 years) in primary care in deprived urban settings in Ireland.
The chosen method for this qualitative study was inductive thematic analysis which involved semi-structured interviews with 37 healthcare professionals from primary care, secondary care and community agencies at two deprived urban centres.
We identified three themes in respect of interventions to increase screening and treatment: (1) Identification is optimised by a range of strategies, including raising awareness, training, more systematic and formalised assessment, and youth-friendly practices (e.g. communication skills, ensuring confidentiality); (2) Treatment is enhanced by closer inter-agency collaboration and training for all healthcare professionals working in primary care; (3) Ongoing engagement is enhanced by motivational work with young people, setting achievable treatment goals, supporting transition between child and adult mental health services and recognising primary care’s longitudinal nature as a key asset in promoting treatment engagement.
Especially in deprived areas, primary care is central to early intervention for youth mental health. Identification, treatment and continuing engagement are likely to be enhanced by a range of strategies with young people, healthcare professionals and systems. Further research on youth mental health and primary care, including qualitative accounts of young people’s experience and developing complex interventions that promote early intervention are priorities. (350 words)
PMCID: PMC3880165  PMID: 24341616
Young people; Urban deprivation; Mental health; Substance use; Primary care; General practice
8.  Genetic variation in small proline rich protein 2B as a predictor for asthma among children with eczema 
Small proline rich protein 2B (SPRR2B) is a skin and lung epithelial protein associated with allergic inflammation in mice that has not been evaluated in human atopic diseases.
To determine whether single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SPRR2B are associated with childhood eczema and with the phenotype of childhood eczema combined with asthma.
Genotyping for SPRR2B and filaggrin (FLG) was performed in 2 independent populations: the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy & Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS; N = 762; birth-age, 4 years) and the Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinical Repository (GCPCR;N = 1152; ages 5–10 years). Eczema and eczema plus asthma were clinical outcomes based on parental report and clinician’s diagnosis. Genetic analyses were restricted to whites and adjusted for sex in both cohorts and adjusted for environmental covariates in CCAAPS.
Variants in SPRR2B were not significantly associated with eczema in either cohort after Bonferroni adjustment. Children from both cohorts with the CC genotype of the SPRR2B rs6693927 SNP were at 4 times the risk for eczema plus asthma (adjusted odds ratio, 4.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.5– 10.9; P = .005 in CCAAPS; and adjusted odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.8 –9.1; P <.001 in the GCPCR), however. SNPs in SPRR2B were not in strong linkage disequilibrium with the R501X and del2282 FLG mutations, and these findings were independent of FLG.
An SNP in SPRR2B was predictive of asthma among white children with eczema from 2 independent populations. SPRR2B polymorphisms may serve as important predictive markers for the combined eczema plus asthma phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3759990  PMID: 22374195
9.  Infant Origins of Childhood Asthma Associated with Specific Molds 
The specific cause(s) of asthma development must be identified in order to prevent this disease.
Our hypothesis was that specific mold exposures are associated with childhood asthma development.
Infants were identified from birth certificates. Dust samples were collected from 289 homes when the infants were age eight months. Samples were analyzed for concentrations of 36 molds that comprise the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) and endotoxin, house dust mite, cat, dog, and cockroach allergens. Children were evaluated at age seven for asthma based on reported symptoms and objective measures of lung function. Host, environmental exposures and home characteristics evaluated included history of parental asthma, race, gender, upper and lower respiratory symptoms, season of birth, family income, cigarette smoke exposure, air conditioning, dehumidifier, carpeting, age of home, and visible mold at age one and child positive skin prick test (SPT) to aeroallergens and molds at age seven.
Asthma was diagnosed in 24% of the children at age seven. A statistically significant increase in asthma risk at age seven was associated with high ERMI levels in the child’s home in infancy (adjusted risk ratio (aRR) for a 10-unit increase in ERMI = 1.8, 95% CI=1.5, 2.2). The summation of levels of three mold species, Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis, and Penicillium variabile was significantly associated with asthma (aRR = 2.2, 95% CI=1.8, 2.7).
In this birth cohort study, exposure during infancy to three mold species common to water-damaged buildings was associated with childhood asthma at age seven.
PMCID: PMC3432137  PMID: 22789397
Asthma; molds; speciation; infants; Environmental Relative Moldiness Index
10.  Novel Data Mining Methodologies for Adverse Drug Event Discovery and Analysis 
Discovery of new adverse drug events (ADEs) in the post-approval period is an important goal of the health system. Data mining methods that can transform data into meaningful knowledge to inform patient safety have proven to be essential. New opportunities have emerged to harness data sources that have not been used within the traditional framework. This article provides an overview of recent methodological innovations and data sources used in support of ADE discovery and analysis.
PMCID: PMC3675775  PMID: 22549283
Pharmacovigilance; Adverse Drug Events; Data Mining
11.  Traffic-Related Air Pollution Exposure in the First Year of Life and Behavioral Scores at 7 Years of Age 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;121(6):731-736.
Background: There is increasing concern about the potential effects of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) on the developing brain. The impact of TRAP exposure on childhood behavior is not fully understood because of limited epidemiologic studies.
Objective: We explored the association between early-life exposure to TRAP using a surrogate, elemental carbon attributed to traffic (ECAT), and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms at 7 years of age.
Methods: From the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) birth cohort we collected data on exposure to ECAT during infancy and behavioral scores at 7 years of age. Children enrolled in CCAAPS had at least one atopic parent and a birth residence either < 400 m or > 1,500 m from a major highway. Children were followed from infancy through 7 years of age. ECAT exposure during the first year of life was estimated based on measurements from 27 air sampling sites and land use regression modeling. Parents completed the Behavioral Assessment System for Children, 2nd Edition, when the child was 7 years of age. ADHD-related symptoms were assessed using the Hyperactivity, Attention Problems, Aggression, Conduct Problems, and Atypicality subscales.
Results: Exposure to the highest tertile of ECAT during the child’s first year of life was significantly associated with Hyperactivity T-scores in the “at risk” range at 7 years of age, after adjustment [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.7; 95% CI: 1.0, 2.7]. Stratification by maternal education revealed a stronger association in children whose mothers had higher education (aOR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.3, 4.1).
Conclusions: ECAT exposure during infancy was associated with higher Hyperactivity scores in children; this association was limited to children whose mothers had more than a high school education.
PMCID: PMC3672910  PMID: 23694812
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; child behavior; epidemiology; land use regression; traffic-related air pollution
12.  A comprehensive framework for data quality assessment in CER  
The panel addresses the urgent need to ensure that comparative effectiveness research (CER) findings derived from diverse and distributed data sources are based on credible, high-quality data; and that the methods used to assess and report data quality are consistent, comprehensive, and available to data consumers. The panel consists of representatives from four teams leveraging electronic clinical data for CER, patient centered outcomes research (PCOR), and quality improvement (QI) and seeks to change the current paradigm where data quality assessment (DQA) is performed “behind the scenes” using one-off project specific methods. The panelists will present their process of harmonizing existing models for describing and measuring clinical data quality and will describe a comprehensive integrated framework for assessing and reporting DQA findings. The collaborative project is supported by the Electronic Data Methods (EDM) Forum, a three-year grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to facilitate learning and foster collaboration across a set of CER, PCOR, and QI projects designed to build infrastructure and methods for collecting and analyzing prospective data from electronic clinical data .
PMCID: PMC3845781  PMID: 24303241
13.  Predicting Allergic Disease at Age Four Using an Atopy Predisposition Score at Age Two: The Application of Item Response Theory 
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology  2011;23(2):195-201.
When defining allergic outcomes in epidemiology studies results of the skin prick test (SPT) panel is often dichotomized as positive/negative or categorized based on the number of positive responses. Item Response Theory (IRT) models, however, may prove to be a better alternative with the ability to generate scores that account for both type and number of positive SPTs. IRT was applied to SPT responses administered to 537 children at age two in order to determine predictability of allergic disease at age four. The children received SPTs to 15 aeroallergens and two foods. Atopy predisposition scores were obtained from the IRT model using the posterior distribution of the latent trait, atopy. These scores were used to predict persistent wheeze, rhino-conjunctivitis, and eczema at age four. Results were compared to the dichotomized and categorical (positive to ≥ 2, positive to one, versus negative to all allergens) SPT variables. At age two, 39% of children had at least one positive SPT. All three allergic disease outcomes were significantly associated with IRT atopy scores: persistent wheeze odds ratio (OR)=1.7 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2, 2.3); rhino-conjunctivitis OR=1.7 (95% CI:1.2, 2.3); eczema OR=1.6 (95% CI: 1.2, 2.3). In contrast, rhino-conjunctivitis was the only outcome significantly associated with the dichotomized SPT variable with an OR=1.9 (95% CI:1.2, 3.0). For the categorical SPT variable, all three allergic symptoms were significantly associated with positive to ≥ 2 allergens compared to negative to all, but no difference was observed between those with positive to one compared to negative to all. The IRT model proved to be an informative methodology to assess the predictability of early SPT responses and identify the allergens most associated with atopy predisposition.
PMCID: PMC3310291  PMID: 22192382
Item Response Theory; Skin Prick Test; Allergy; Atopy; Asthma; Wheeze; Rhino-conjunctivitis; Eczema; Predicting allergies
14.  Validation of a common data model for active safety surveillance research 
Systematic analysis of observational medical databases for active safety surveillance is hindered by the variation in data models and coding systems. Data analysts often find robust clinical data models difficult to understand and ill suited to support their analytic approaches. Further, some models do not facilitate the computations required for systematic analysis across many interventions and outcomes for large datasets. Translating the data from these idiosyncratic data models to a common data model (CDM) could facilitate both the analysts' understanding and the suitability for large-scale systematic analysis. In addition to facilitating analysis, a suitable CDM has to faithfully represent the source observational database. Before beginning to use the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) CDM and a related dictionary of standardized terminologies for a study of large-scale systematic active safety surveillance, the authors validated the model's suitability for this use by example.
Validation by example
To validate the OMOP CDM, the model was instantiated into a relational database, data from 10 different observational healthcare databases were loaded into separate instances, a comprehensive array of analytic methods that operate on the data model was created, and these methods were executed against the databases to measure performance.
There was acceptable representation of the data from 10 observational databases in the OMOP CDM using the standardized terminologies selected, and a range of analytic methods was developed and executed with sufficient performance to be useful for active safety surveillance.
PMCID: PMC3240764  PMID: 22037893
Developing/using computerized provider order entry; Systems to support and improve diagnostic accuracy; other specific EHR applications (results review); medication administration; disease progression and image managem; data exchange; communication and integration across care settings (inter- and intraenterprise); measuring/improving patient safety and reducing medical errors; improving healthcare workflow and process efficiency
15.  Applying standardized drug terminologies to observational healthcare databases: a case study on opioid exposure 
Observational healthcare databases represent a valuable resource for health economics, outcomes research, quality of care, drug safety, epidemiology and comparative effectiveness research. The methods used to identify a population for study in an observational healthcare database with the desired drug exposures of interest are complex and not consistent nor apparent in the published literature. Our research evaluates three drug classification systems and their impact on prevalence in the analysis of observational healthcare databases using opioids as a case in point. The standard terminologies compiled in the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership’s Common Data Model vocabulary were used to facilitate the identification of populations with opioid exposures. This study analyzed three distinct observational healthcare databases and identified patients with at least one exposure to an opioid as defined by drug codes derived through the application of three classification systems. Opioid code sets were created for each of the three classification systems and the number of identified codes was summarized. We estimated the prevalence of opioid exposure in three observational healthcare databases using the three defined code sets. In addition we compared the number of drug codes and distinct ingredients that were identified using these classification systems. We found substantial variation in the prevalence of opioid exposure identified using an individual classification system versus a composite method using multiple classification systems. To ensure transparent and reproducible research publications should include a description of the process used to develop code sets and the complete code set used in studies.
PMCID: PMC3566397  PMID: 23396660
Observational databases; Classification systems; Coding standards; Drug exposures; OMOP
16.  The Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository: A Novel Framework for Childhood Asthma and Allergy Research 
Allergic disorders, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, and food allergy, are a major global health burden. The study and management of allergic disorders is complicated by the considerable heterogeneity in both the presentation and natural history of these disorders. Biorepositories serve as an excellent source of data and biospecimens for delineating subphenotypes of allergic disorders, but such resources are lacking.
In order to define subphenotypes of allergic disease accurately, we established an infrastructure to link and efficiently utilize clinical and epidemiologic data with biospecimens into a single biorepository called the Greater Cincinnati Pediatric Clinic Repository (GCPCR). Children with allergic disorders as well as healthy controls are followed longitudinally at hospital clinic, emergency department, and inpatient visits. Subjects' asthma, allergy, and skin symptoms; past medical, family, social, diet, and environmental histories; physical activity; medication adherence; perceived quality of life; and demographics are ascertained. DNA is collected from all participants, and other biospecimens such as blood, hair, and nasal epithelial cells are collected on a subset.
To date, the GCPCR has 6,317 predominantly Caucasian and African American participants, and 93% have banked DNA. This large sample size supports adequately powered genetic, epidemiologic, environmental, and health disparities studies of childhood allergic diseases.
The GCPCR is a unique biorepository that is continuously evaluated and refined to achieve and maintain rigorous clinical phenotype and biological data. Development of similar disease-specific repositories using common data elements is necessary to enable studies across multiple populations of comprehensively phenotyped patients.
PMCID: PMC3377950  PMID: 22768387
18.  Development and evaluation of a common data model enabling active drug safety surveillance using disparate healthcare databases 
Active drug safety surveillance may be enhanced by analysis of multiple observational healthcare databases, including administrative claims and electronic health records. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a common data model (CDM) enabling rapid, comparable, systematic analyses across disparate observational data sources to identify and evaluate the effects of medicines.
The CDM uses a person-centric design, with attributes for demographics, drug exposures, and condition occurrence. Drug eras, constructed to represent periods of persistent drug use, are derived from available elements from pharmacy dispensings, prescriptions written, and other medication history. Condition eras aggregate diagnoses that occur within a single episode of care. Drugs and conditions from source data are mapped to biomedical ontologies to standardize terminologies and enable analyses of higher-order effects.
The CDM was applied to two source types: an administrative claims and an electronic medical record database. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate transformation rules. Two case studies demonstrate the ability of the CDM to enable standard analyses across disparate sources: analyses of persons exposed to rofecoxib and persons with an acute myocardial infarction.
Over 43 million persons, with nearly 1 billion drug exposures and 3.7 billion condition occurrences from both databases were successfully transformed into the CDM. An analysis routine applied to transformed data from each database produced consistent, comparable results.
A CDM can normalize the structure and content of disparate observational data, enabling standardized analyses that are meaningfully comparable when assessing the effects of medicines.
PMCID: PMC3000752  PMID: 20962127
Pharmacoepidemiology; product surveillance, Postmarketing; drug safety, medical records systems, computerized; Epidemiologic methods; drug Toxicity; databases, Factual; medical Informatics Computing
19.  Pharmaceutical Sponsorship Bias Influences Thrombolytic Literature in Acute Ischemic Stroke 
The efficacy of thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke remains controversial in emergency medicine and has not been fully endorsed by either the American College of Emergency Physicians or the American Academy of emergency medicine. A growing recognition exists of the influence of pharmaceutical sponsorship on the reported findings of published clinical trials. Sponsorship bias has been suggested as a potential criticism of the literature and guidelines favoring thrombolytic therapy.
The objective of this study is to review the most influential literature regarding thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke and document the presence or absence of pharmaceutical sponsorship.
A publication-citation analysis was performed to identify the most frequently cited articles pertaining to thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke. Identified articles were reviewed for disclosures of pharmaceutical funding.
Of the 20 most-cited articles pertaining to thrombolytic therapy for acute stroke, 17 (85%) disclosed pharmaceutical sponsorship. These disclosures range from general sponsorship to direct employment of authors by pharmaceutical companies.
An overwhelming predominance of the most influential literature regarding thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke is susceptible to sponsorship bias. This potential bias may provide a basis for physician concern regarding the efficacy and safety of thrombolytic therapy. Further, large, independent, placebo-controlled studies may be required to guide therapy and professional guidelines definitively for acute ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3236136  PMID: 22224134
20.  Projections from the Hypothalamic Paraventricular Nucleus and the Nucleus of the Solitary Tract to Prechoroidal Neurons in the Superior Salivatory Nucleus: Pathways Controlling Rodent Choroidal Blood Flow 
Brain research  2010;1358:123-139.
Using intrachoroidal injection of the transneuronal retrograde tracer pseudorabies virus (PRV) in rats, we previously localized preganglionic neurons in the superior salivatory nucleus (SSN) that regulate choroidal blood flow (ChBF) via projections to the pterygopalatine ganglion (PPG). In the present study, we used higher order transneuronal retrograde labeling following intrachoroidal PRV injection to identify central neuronal cell groups involved in parasympathetic regulation of ChBF via input to the SSN. These prominently included the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS), both of which are responsive to systemic BP, and are involved in systemic sympathetic vasoconstriction. Conventional pathway tracing methods were then used to determine if the PVN and/or NTS project directly to the choroidal subdivision of the SSN. Following retrograde tracer injection into SSN (biotinylated dextran amine 3K or Fluorogold), labeled perikarya were found in PVN and NTS. Injection of the anterograde tracer, biotinylated dextran amine 10K (BDA10K) into PVN or NTS resulted in densely packed BDA10K+ terminals in prechoroidal SSN (as defined by its enrichment in nitric oxide synthase-containing perikarya). Double-label studies showed these inputs ended directly on prechoroidal nitric oxide synthase-containing neurons of SSN. Our study thus establishes that PVN and NTS project directly to the part of SSN involved in parasympathetic vasodilatory control of the choroid via the PPG. These results suggest that control of ChBF may be linked to systemic blood pressure and central control of the systemic vasculature.
PMCID: PMC2949519  PMID: 20801105
biotinylated dextran amine (BDA); pseudorabies virus (PRV); choroidal blood flow (ChBF); superior salivatory nucleus (SSN); paraventricular nucleus (PVN); nucleus of solitary tract (NTS)
21.  Visually observed mold and moldy odor versus quantitatively measured microbial exposure in homes 
The Science of the total environment  2010;408(22):5565-5574.
The main study objective was to compare different methods for assessing mold exposure in conjunction with an epidemiologic study on the development of children’s asthma. Homes of 184 children were assessed for mold by visual observations and dust sampling at child’s age 1 (Year 1). Similar assessment supplemented with air sampling was conducted in Year 7. Samples were analyzed for endotoxin, (1–3)-β-D-glucan, and fungal spores. The Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction assay was used to analyze 36 mold species in dust samples, and the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) was calculated. Homes were categorized based on three criteria: 1) visible mold damage, 2) moldy odor, and 3) ERMI. Even for homes where families had not moved, Year 7 endotoxin and (1–3)-β-D-glucan exposures were significantly higher than those in Year 1 (p<0.001), whereas no difference was seen for ERMI (p=0.78). Microbial concentrations were not consistently associated with visible mold damage categories, but were consistently higher in homes with moldy odor and in homes that had high ERMI. Low correlations between results in air and dust samples indicate different types or durations of potential microbial exposures from dust vs. air. Future analysis will indicate which, if any, of the assessment methods is associated with the development of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2972663  PMID: 20810150
endotoxin; (1–3)-β-D-glucan; fungi; polymerase chain reaction; house dust; air sampling
Neurotoxicology  2009;31(5):468-474.
Manganese (Mn) is an essential element, yet is neurotoxic in excess. The majority of Mn research has been conducted on occupationally exposed adults with few studies focused on an environmentally exposed population. Marietta, Ohio is home to one of the largest airborne Mn emission sources in the United States, a ferromanganese refinery. In preparation for a community-based participatory research study, a preliminary pilot study was initiated to characterize the community’s exposure to Mn in ambient air and to evaluate the relationship between biological indices of Mn exposure and genes associated with Mn metabolism in Marietta area residents. Participants in the pilot study were recruited through newspaper advertisement, fliers and direct mailing. Exposure to ambient Mn was estimated using an air pollution dispersion model, AERMOD. A total of 141 residents participated in the pilot study ranging in age from 2-81 years. Estimated annual average ambient air Mn concentrations in the study area obtained from AERMOD varied from 0.02-2.61 μg/m3. Mean blood and hair Mn values were 9.12 μg/L (SD 3.90) and 5.80 μg/g (SD 6.40 μg/g), respectively and were significantly correlated (r=0.30, p<0.01). Blood and hair Mn was significantly associated within families (r=0.27, p=<0.02 and r=0.43, p<0.01), respectively. The relationship between hair Mn and estimated ambient air Mn became significant when genes for iron metabolism were included in linear models. The preliminary ambient air and biological concentrations of Mn found in this population demonstrate the need for further research into potential health effects. A comprehensive study of neurobehavioral performance and environmental exposure to Mn in children residing in Marietta and a control community is currently underway.
PMCID: PMC2891785  PMID: 19879291
manganese; lead; community-based; exposure; dispersion model; air pollution
23.  Design and Validation of a Data Simulation Model for Longitudinal Healthcare Data 
AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings  2011;2011:1176-1185.
Evaluating performance characteristics of analytic methods developed to identify treatment effects in longitudinal healthcare data has been hindered by lack of an objective benchmark to measure performance. Relationships between drugs and subsequent treatment effects are not precisely quantified in real-world data, and simulated data offer potential to augment method development by providing data with known, measurable characteristics. However, the use of simulated data has been limited due to its inability to adequately reflect the complexities inherent in real-world databases that are necessary for effective method development. The goal of this study was to develop and evaluate a model for simulating longitudinal healthcare data that adequately captures these complexities. An empiric design was chosen that utilizes the characteristics of a real healthcare database as simulation input. This model demonstrates the potential for simulated data with known characteristics to adequately reflect complex relationships among diseases and treatments as recorded in healthcare databases.
PMCID: PMC3243118  PMID: 22195178
24.  Exposure to Traffic-related Particles and Endotoxin during Infancy Is Associated with Wheezing at Age 3 Years 
Rationale: Murine models demonstrate a synergistic production of reactive oxygen species on coexposure to diesel exhaust particles and endotoxin.
Objectives: It was hypothesized that coexposure to traffic-related particles and endotoxin would have an additive effect on persistent wheezing during early childhood.
Methods: Persistent wheezing at age 36 months was assessed in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study, a high-risk birth cohort. A time-weighted average exposure to traffic-related particles was determined by applying a land-use regression model to the homes, day cares, and other locations where children spent time from birth through age 36 months. Indoor levels of endotoxin were measured from dust samples collected before age 12 months. The relationship between dichotomized (
Measurements and Main Results: Persistent wheezing at age 36 months was significantly associated with exposure to increased levels of traffic-related particles before age 12 months (OR = 1.75; 95% confidence interval, 1.07–2.87). Coexposure to endotoxin had a synergistic effect with traffic exposure on persistent wheeze (OR = 5.85; 95% confidence interval, 1.89–18.13) after adjustment for significant covariates.
Conclusions: The association between traffic-related particle exposure and persistent wheezing at age 36 months is modified by exposure to endotoxin. This finding supports prior toxicological studies demonstrating a synergistic production of reactive oxygen species after coexposure to diesel exhaust particles and endotoxin. The effect of early versus later exposure to traffic-related particles, however, remains to be studied because of the high correlation between exposure throughout the first 3 years of life.
PMCID: PMC2784413  PMID: 19745206
particles; diesel; land-use regression; wheeze; endotoxin
The Journal of pediatrics  2008;154(3):401-408.e1.
To determine the impact of environmental exposures (diesel exhaust particle (DEP), environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and mold) that may contribute to oxidative stress on persistent wheezing in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) birth cohort and to determine how the impact of these exposures is modified by the GST-P1 Ile105Val polymorphism.
Study design
A land-use regression model was used to derive an estimate of each child’s DEP exposure. ETS exposure was determined by questionnaire data. Each child’s home was evaluated for visible mold by a trained professional. Children in the CCAAPS cohort were genotyped for the GST-P1 polymorphism (N=570). Persistent wheezing was defined as wheezing at both 12 and 24 months.
High DEP exposure conferred increased risk for wheezing phenotypes but only among the Val105 allele carriers. Infants with multiple exposures were significantly more likely to persistently wheeze despite their genotype.
There is evidence for an environmental effect of DEP among carriers of the GST-P1 Val105 allele in the development of persistent wheezing in children. The protective effect of the GST-P1 Ile105 genotype may be overwhelmed by multiple environmental exposures that converge on oxidative stress pathways.
PMCID: PMC2783998  PMID: 18950799
oxidative stress; gene:environment; diesel; smoking; children; Mold; ROS

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