Holoprosencephaly is a severe malformation of the brain characterized by abnormal formation and separation of the developing central nervous system. The prevalence is 1:250 during early embryogenesis, the live-born prevalence is 1:16 000. The etiology of HPE is extremely heterogeneous and can be teratogenic or genetic. We screened four known HPE genes in a Dutch cohort of 86 non-syndromic HPE index cases, including 53 family members. We detected 21 mutations (24.4%), 3 in SHH, 9 in ZIC2 and 9 in SIX3. Eight mutations involved amino-acid substitutions, 7 ins/del mutations, 1 frame-shift, 3 identical poly-alanine tract expansions and 2 gene deletions. Pathogenicity of mutations was presumed based on de novo character, predicted non-functionality of mutated proteins, segregation of mutations with affected family-members or combinations of these features. Two mutations were reported previously. SNP array confirmed detected deletions; one spanning the ZIC2/ZIC5 genes (approx. 100 kb) the other a 1.45 Mb deletion including SIX2/SIX3 genes. The mutation percentage (24%) is comparable with previous reports, but we detected significantly less mutations in SHH: 3.5 vs 10.7% (P=0.043) and significantly more in SIX3: 10.5 vs 4.3% (P=0.018). For TGIF1 and ZIC2 mutation the rate was in conformity with earlier reports. About half of the mutations were de novo, one was a germ line mosaic. The familial mutations displayed extensive heterogeneity in clinical manifestation. Of seven familial index patients only two parental carriers showed minor HPE signs, five were completely asymptomatic. Therefore, each novel mutation should be considered as a risk factor for clinically manifest HPE, with the caveat of reduced clinical penetrance.
Holoprosencephaly; SHH; SIX3; ZIC2; TGIF; genotype–phenotype
Angelman syndrome (AS) and Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have become the classical examples of genomic imprinting in man, as completely different phenotypes are generated by the absence of maternal (AS) or paternal (PWS) contributions to the q11-13 region of chromosome 15 as a result of deletion or uniparental disomy. Apparently, most patients are sporadic cases. The genetic mechanism underlying familial AS has remained enigmatic for a long time. Recently, evidence has been emerging suggesting autosomal dominant inheritance of a detectable or undetectable defect in a gene or genes at 15q11-13, subject to genomic imprinting. The present report describes an unusually large pedigree with segregation of AS through maternal inheritance and apparent asymptomatic transmission through several male ancestors. Deletion and paternal disomy at 15q11-13 were excluded. However, the genetic defect is still located in this region, as we obtained a maximum lod score of 5.40 for linkage to the GABA receptor locus GABRB3 and the anonymous DNA marker D15S10, which have been mapped within or adjacent to the AS critical region at 15q11-13. The size of the pedigree allowed calculation of an odds ratio in favour of genomic imprinting of 9.25 x 10(5). This family illustrates the necessity of extensive pedigree analysis when considering recurrence risks for relatives of AS patients, those without detectable deletion or disomy in particular.
Adhesion governs to a large extent the mechanical interaction between a cell and its microenvironment. As initial cell spreading is purely adhesion driven, understanding this phenomenon leads to profound insight in both cell adhesion and cell-substrate interaction. It has been found that across a wide variety of cell types, initial spreading behavior universally follows the same power laws. The simplest cell type providing this scaling of the radius of the spreading area with time are modified red blood cells (RBCs), whose elastic responses are well characterized. Using a mechanistic description of the contact interaction between a cell and its substrate in combination with a deformable RBC model, we are now able to investigate in detail the mechanisms behind this universal power law. The presented model suggests that the initial slope of the spreading curve with time results from a purely geometrical effect facilitated mainly by dissipation upon contact. Later on, the spreading rate decreases due to increasing tension and dissipation in the cell's cortex as the cell spreads more and more. To reproduce this observed initial spreading, no irreversible deformations are required. Since the model created in this effort is extensible to more complex cell types and can cope with arbitrarily shaped, smooth mechanical microenvironments of the cells, it can be useful for a wide range of investigations where forces at the cell boundary play a decisive role.
How cells spread on a newly encountered surface is an important issue, since it hints at how cells interact physically with the specific material in general. It has been shown before that many cell types have very similar early spreading behavior. This observation has been linked to the mechanical nature of the phenomenon, during which a cell cannot yet react by changing its structure and behavior. Understanding in detail how this passive spreading occurs, and what clues a cell may later respond to is the goal of this work. At the same time, the model we develop here should be very valuable for more complex situations of interacting cells, since it is able to reproduce the purely mechanical response in detail. We find that spreading is limited mainly by energy dissipation upon contact and later dissipation in the cell's cortex and that no irreversible deformation occurs during the spreading of red blood cells on an adhesive surface.
Transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1) stimulates a broad range of effects which are cell type dependent, and it has been suggested to induce cellular senescence. On the other hand, long-term culture of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) has a major impact on their cellular physiology and therefore it is well conceivable that the molecular events triggered by TGF-β1 differ considerably in cells of early and late passages. In this study, we analyzed the effect of TGF-β1 on and during replicative senescence of MSCs. Stimulation with TGF-β1 enhanced proliferation, induced a network like growth pattern and impaired adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation. TGF-β1 did not induce premature senescence. However, due to increased proliferation rates the cells reached replicative senescence earlier than untreated controls. This was also evident, when we analyzed senescence-associated DNA-methylation changes. Gene expression profiles of MSCs differed considerably at relatively early (P 3 - 5) and later passages (P 10). Nonetheless, relative gene expression differences provoked by TGF-β1 at individual time points or in a time course dependent manner (stimulation for 0, 1, 4 and 12 h) were very similar in MSCs of early and late passage. These results support the notion that TGF-β1 has major impact on MSC function, but it does not induce senescence and has similar molecular effects during culture expansion.
Our recent genome-wide association study identified a novel breast cancer susceptibility locus at 9q31.2 (rs865686).
To further investigate the rs865686–breast cancer association, we conducted a replication study within the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, which comprises 37 case–control studies (48,394 cases, 50,836 controls).
This replication study provides additional strong evidence of an inverse association between rs865686 and breast cancer risk [study-adjusted per G-allele OR, 0.90; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.88; 0.91, P = 2.01 × 10–29] among women of European ancestry. There were ethnic differences in the estimated minor (G)-allele frequency among controls [0.09, 0.30, and 0.38 among, respectively, Asians, Eastern Europeans, and other Europeans; P for heterogeneity (Phet) = 1.3 × 10–143], but no evidence of ethnic differences in per allele OR (Phet = 0.43). rs865686 was associated with estrogen receptor–positive (ER+) disease (per G-allele OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.86–0.91; P = 3.13 × 10–22) but less strongly, if at all, with ER-negative (ER–) disease (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.94–1.02; P = 0.26; Phet = 1.16 × 10–6), with no evidence of independent heterogeneity by progesterone receptor or HER2 status. The strength of the breast cancer association decreased with increasing age at diagnosis, with case-only analysis showing a trend in the number of copies of the G allele with increasing age at diagnosis (P for linear trend = 0.0095), but only among women with ER+ tumors.
This study is the first to show that rs865686 is a susceptibility marker for ER+ breast cancer.
The findings further support the view that genetic susceptibility varies according to tumor subtype.
The significance of nodal metastasis in breast cancer is under discussion. We investigated the impact of variables of tumor chronology and tumor biology on the presence of lymph node metastases.
Lymph node involvement is the main prognostic factor in breast cancer. However, it is under discussion whether nodal metastasis in breast cancer only reflects the chronological age of the tumor or whether it is also a marker of tumor biology. The goal of our study was to investigate the impact of variables of tumor chronology and biology on the presence of lymph node metastases.
We performed a retrospective analysis of data from 3002 patients with an early invasive breast carcinoma. All patients underwent primary surgery at the University Hospitals Leuven between 2001 and 2009. First, the impact of tumor size on the presence of lymph node metastasis was evaluated as the chronological age of a tumor is supposed to be reflected in its size. Next, the impact of tumor grade, lymphovascular invasion and the hormone receptor status, which are all variables of tumor biology, was studied. Logistic regression analyses were performed and the area under the ROC curve (AUC) was calculated as a measure of discrimination between logistic regression models.
Using pathological tumor size the AUC of prediction was 0.67. Based on variables of tumor biology, axillary lymph node positivity could be predicted with an AUC of 0.68. Combining variables of tumor chronology and biology an AUC of 0.74 for the prediction of axillary lymph node (ALN) positivity was calculated.
According to our data variables of tumor chronology and tumor biology have a similar impact on the presence of lymph node metastasis.
Tumor chronology; Tumor biology; Lymph node; Metastasis; Breast cancer
To evaluate an e-mental health (EMH) approach to workers' health surveillance (WHS) targeting work functioning (WF) and mental health (MH) of healthcare professionals in a randomised controlled trial.
Nurses and allied health professionals (N = 1140) were cluster-randomised at ward level to the intervention (IG) or control group (CG). The intervention consisted of two parts: (a) online screening and personalised feedback on impaired WF and MH, followed by (b) a tailored offer of self-help EMH interventions. CG received none of these parts. Primary outcome was impaired WF (Nurses Work Functioning Questionnaire), assessed at baseline and after three and six months. Analyses were performed in the positively screened subgroup (i) and in all participants (ii).
Participation rate at baseline was 32% (NIG = 178; NCG = 188). Eighty-two percent screened positive for at least mild impairments in WF and/or MH (NIG = 139; NCG = 161). All IG-participants (N = 178) received part (a) of the intervention, nine participants (all positively screened, 6%) followed an EMH intervention to at least some extent. Regarding the subgroup of positively screened participants (i), both IG and CG improved over time regarding WF (non-significant between-group difference). After six months, 36% of positively screened IG-participants (18/50) had a relevant WF improvement compared to baseline, versus 28% (32/115) of positively screened CG-participants (non-significant difference). In the complete sample (ii), IG and CG improved over time but IG further improved between three and six months while CG did not (significant interaction effect).
In our study with a full compliance rate of 6% and substantial drop-out leading to a small and underpowered sample, we could not demonstrate that an EMH-approach to WHS is more effective to improve WF and MH than a control group. The effect found in the complete sample of participants is not easily interpreted. Reported results may be useful for future meta-analytic work.
Dutch Trial Register NTR2786
Information from cutaneous, muscle and joint receptors is combined with efferent information to create a reliable percept of the configuration of our body (proprioception). We exposed the hand to several horizontal force fields to examine whether external forces influence this percept. In an end-point task subjects reached visually presented positions with their unseen hand. In a vector reproduction task, subjects had to judge a distance and direction visually and reproduce the corresponding vector by moving the unseen hand. We found systematic individual errors in the reproduction of the end-points and vectors, but these errors did not vary systematically with the force fields. This suggests that human proprioception accounts for external forces applied to the hand when sensing the position of the hand in the horizontal plane.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for chromosomal rearrangements (CR) is mainly based on fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). Application of this technique is limited by the number of available fluorochromes, the extensive preclinical work-up and technical and interpretative artefacts. We aimed to develop a universal, off-the-shelf protocol for PGD by combining single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array-derived copy number (CN) determination and genotyping for detection of unbalanced translocations in cleavage-stage embryos. A total of 36 cleavage-stage embryos that were diagnosed as unbalanced by initial PGD FISH analysis were dissociated (n=146) and amplified by multiple displacement amplification (MDA). SNP CNs and genotypes were determined using SNP array. Epstein-Barr Virus-transformed cell lines with known CR were used for optimising the genomic smoothing (GS) length setting to increase signal to noise ratio. SNP CN analysis showed 23 embryos (64%) that were unbalanced in all blastomeres for the chromosomes involved in the translocation, 5 embryos (14%) that were normal or balanced in all blastomeres and 8 embryos (22%) that were mosaic. SNP genotyping, based on analysis of informative SNP loci with opposing homozygous parental genotypes, confirmed partial monosomies associated with inheritance of unbalanced translocation in surplus embryos. We have developed a universal MDA-SNP array technique for chromosome CN analysis in single blastomeres. SNP genotyping could confirm partial monosomies. This combination of techniques showed improved diagnostic specificity compared with FISH and may provide more reliable PGD analysis associated with higher embryo transfer rate.
preimplantation genetic diagnosis; SNP array; chromosomal translocations; whole-genome amplification; genotyping; blastomeres
In Gram-positive bacteria, CodY is an important regulator of genes whose expression changes under conditions of nutrient limitation. Bacillus anthracis CodY represses or activates directly or indirectly approximately 500 genes. Affinity purification of CodY-DNA complexes was used to identify the direct targets of CodY. Of the 389 DNA binding sites that were copurified with CodY, 132 sites were in or near the regulatory regions governing the expression of 197 CodY-controlled genes, indicating that CodY controls many other genes indirectly. CodY-binding specificity was verified using electrophoretic mobility shift and DNase I footprinting assays for three CodY targets. Analysis of the bound sequences led to the identification of a B. anthracis CodY-binding consensus motif that was found in 366 of the 389 affinity-purified DNA regions. Regulation of the expression of the two genes directly controlled by CodY, sap and eag, encoding the two surface layer (S-layer) proteins, was analyzed further by monitoring the expression of transcriptional lacZ reporter fusions in parental and codY mutant strains. CodY proved to be a direct repressor of both sap and eag expression. Since the expression of the S-layer genes is under the control of both CodY and PagR (a regulator that responds to bicarbonate), their expression levels respond to both metabolic and environmental cues.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is an important health problem. Two frequently used therapies are the levonorgestrel intra-uterine system (LNG-IUS) and endometrial ablation. The LNG-IUS can be applied easily by the general practitioner, which saves costs, but has considerable failure rates. As an alternative, endometrial ablation is also very effective, but this treatment has to be performed by a gynaecologist. Due to lack of direct comparison of LNG-IUS with endometrial ablation, there is no evidence based preferred advice for the use of one of these treatment possibilities.
A multicenter randomised controlled trial, organised in a network infrastructure in the Netherlands in which general practitioners and gynaecologists collaborate.
Women ≥ 34 years with heavy menstrual bleeding, a Pictorial Blood Assessment Chart (PBAC) score exceeding 150 points and no future child wish can participate in the trial. After informed consent, women will be randomised to a strategy starting with a levonorgestrel releasing intrauterine system or a strategy starting with endometrial ablation.
The primary outcome is the PBAC score at 24 months of follow-up. Secondary outcomes are patient satisfaction, complications, number of re-interventions, menstrual bleeding pattern, quality of life, sexual function, sick leave and costs. As predictors of effect of intervention we also meaure level of coagulation factors.
This study, considering both effectiveness and cost effectiveness of LNG-IUS versus endometrial ablation may well improve care for women with heavy menstrual bleeding.
Dutch trial register, number NTR2984
Heavy menstrual bleeding; Endometrial ablation; LNG-IUS
Psychological features have been related to trunk muscle activation patterns in low back pain (LBP). We hypothesised higher pain-related fear would relate to changes in trunk mechanical properties, such as higher trunk stiffness.
To evaluate the relationship between trunk mechanical properties and psychological features in people with recurrent LBP.
The relationship between pain-related fear (Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia, TSK; Photograph Series of Daily Activities, PHODA-SeV; Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire, FABQ; Pain Catastrophizing Scale, PCS) and trunk mechanical properties (estimated from the response of the trunk to a sudden sagittal plane forwards or backwards perturbation by unpredictable release of a load) was explored in a case-controlled study of 14 LBP participants. Regression analysis (r2) tested the linear relationships between pain-related fear and trunk mechanical properties (trunk stiffness and damping). Mechanical properties were also compared with t-tests between groups based on stratification according to high/low scores based on median values for each psychological measure.
Fear of movement (TSK) was positively associated with trunk stiffness (but not damping) in response to a forward perturbation (r2 = 0.33, P = 0.03), but not backward perturbation (r2 = 0.22, P = 0.09). Other pain-related fear constructs (PHODA-SeV, FABQ, PCS) were not associated with trunk stiffness or damping. Trunk stiffness was greater for individuals with high kinesiophobia (TSK) for forward (P = 0.03) perturbations, and greater with forward perturbation for those with high fear avoidance scores (FABQ-W, P = 0.01).
Fear of movement is positively (but weakly) associated with trunk stiffness. This provides preliminary support an interaction between biological and psychological features of LBP, suggesting this condition may be best understood if these domains are not considered in isolation.
Since the routine clinical use of the sentinel lymph node (SLN) procedure, questions have been raised concerning an increase in the overall percentage of node-positive patients. The goal of our study was to compare the sensitivity of the SLN procedure and the axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for the identification of positive lymph nodes in breast cancer.
The incidence of axillary node metastasis in SLNB and ALND specimens from patients undergoing operative treatment of a primary breast carcinoma was compared retrospectively.
Logistic regression models were used to analyze the effect of various predictors on the presence of positive lymph nodes. We constructed a multivariate model including the procedure and these predictors that have shown to be related to lymph node involvement in univariate analysis. The probability of finding positive lymph nodes was thus calculated in both groups correcting for relevant predictors of lymph node involvement.
The SLNB group included 830 patients, the ALND group 320. In a multivariate analysis, adjusting for the number of foci, tumor location in the breast, tumor size, LVI, ER, PR, tumor grade and histological subtype, the probability of finding positive lymph nodes was higher with SLNB procedure than with an ALND. However, this difference was not statistically significant (OR 0.7635; CI 0.5334-1.0930, p 0.1404).
For comparable tumors, SLNB procedure is at least as sensitive as ALND for detecting positive lymph nodes.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy; Axillary lymph node dissection; Breast cancer; Lymph nodes
Several species of Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) biting midges serve as biological vectors for the bluetongue virus (BTV) and the recently described Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in northern Europe. Since their recent emergence in this part of the continent, these diseases have caused considerable economic losses to the sheep and cattle industries. Much data is now available that describe the distribution, population dynamics, and feeding habits of these insects. However, little is known regarding the presence of Culicoides in unusual habitats such as peaty marshes, nor their potential vector capacity. This study evaluated Culicoides biting midges present in the bogs of a Belgian nature reserve compared to those residing at a nearby cattle farm. Culicoides were trapped in 2011 at four different sites (broadleaved and coniferous forested areas, open environments, and at a scientific station) located in the Hautes Fagnes Nature Reserve (Belgium). An additional light trap was operated on a nearby cattle farm. Very high numbers of biting midges were captured in the marshy area and most of them (70 to 95%) were Culicoides impunctatus, a potential vector of BTV and other pathogens. In addition, fewer numbers of C. obsoletus/C. scoticus species, C. chiopterus, and C. dewulfi were observed in the bogs compared to the farm. The wet environment and oligotrophic nature of the soil were probably responsible for these changes in the respective populations. A total of 297,808 Culicoides midges belonging to 27 species were identified during this study and 3 of these species (C. sphagnumensis, C. clintoni and C. comosioculatus) were described in Belgium for the first time.
The purpose of this study was to assess the role of dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) for evaluation of response to chemotherapy and bevacizumab and for prediction of progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with potentially resectable liver lesions.
A total of 19 mCRC patients were treated with FOLFOX/FOLFIRI and bevacizumab followed by surgery. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging and FDG-PET/CT were performed before treatment and after cycle 5. PET results were quantified by calculating maximum standardised uptake value (SUVmax) whereas area under the enhancement curve (AUC), initial AUC (iAUC) and the endothelial transfer constant (Ktrans) were used to quantify DCE-MRI. Pathological analysis of the resection specimen was performed, including measurement of microvessel density (MVD) and proliferation index.
Both AUC and iAUC were significantly decreased following bevacizumab therapy (median change of 22% (P=0.002) and 40% (P=0.001) for AUC and iAUC, respectively). Progression-free survival benefit was shown for patients with >40% reduction in Ktrans (P=0.019). In the group of radiological responders, the median baseline SUVmax was 3.77 (IQR: 2.88–5.60) compared with 7.20 (IQR: 4.67–8.73) in nonresponders (P=0.021). A higher follow-up SUVmax was correlated with worse PFS (P=0.012). Median MVD was 10.9. Progression-free survival was significantly shorter in patients with an MVD greater than 10, compared with patients with lower MVD (10 months compared with 16 months, P=0.016).
High relative decrease in Ktrans, low follow-up SUVmax and low MVD are favourable prognostic factors for mCRC patients treated with bevacizumab before surgery.
bevacizumab; colorectal cancer; DCE-MRI; FDG-PET/CT; immunohistochemistry; liver metastases
To date, research on the disturbed experience of body size in Anorexia Nervosa (AN) mainly focused on the conscious perceptual level (i.e. body image). Here we investigated whether these disturbances extend to body schema: an unconscious, action-related representation of the body. AN patients (n = 19) and healthy controls (HC; n = 20) were compared on body-scaled action. Participants walked through door-like openings varying in width while performing a diversion task. AN patients and HC differed in the largest opening width for which they started rotating their shoulders to fit through. AN patients started rotating for openings 40% wider than their own shoulders, while HC started rotating for apertures only 25% wider than their shoulders. The results imply abnormalities in AN even at the level of the unconscious, action oriented body schema. Body representation disturbances in AN are thus more pervasive than previously assumed: They do not only affect (conscious) cognition and perception, but (unconscious) actions as well.
Influenza transmitted by health care workers (HCWs) is a potential threat to frail patients in acute health care settings. Therefore, immunizing HCWs against influenza should receive high priority. Despite recommendations of the World Health Organization, vaccine coverage of HCWs remains low in all European countries. This study explores the use of intervention strategies and methods to improve influenza vaccination rates among HCWs in an acute care setting.
The Intervention Mapping (IM) method was used to systematically develop and implement an intervention strategy aimed at changing influenza vaccination behaviour among HCWs in Dutch University Medical Centres (UMCs). Carried out during the influenza seasons 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, the interventions were then qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated by way of feedback from participating UMCs and the completion of a web-based staff questionnaire in the following spring of each season.
The IM method resulted in the development of a transparent influenza vaccination intervention implementation strategy. The intervention strategy was offered to six Dutch UMCs in a randomized in a clustered Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), where three UMCs were chosen for intervention, and three UMCs acted as controls. A further two UMCs elected to have the intervention. The qualitative process evaluation showed that HCWs at four of the five intervention UMCs were responsive to the majority of the 11 relevant behavioural determinants resulting from the needs assessment in their intervention strategy compared with only one of three control UMCs. The quantitative evaluation among a sample of HCWs revealed that of all the developed communication materials, HCWs reported the posters as the most noticeable.
Our study demonstrates that it is possible to develop a structured implementation strategy for increasing the rate of influenza vaccination by HCWs in acute health care settings. The evaluation also showed that it is impossible to expose all HCWs to all intervention methods (which would have been the best case scenario). Further study is needed to (1) improve HCW exposure to intervention methods; (2) determine the effect of such interventions on vaccine uptake among HCWs; and (3) assess the impact on clinical outcomes among patients when such interventions are enacted.
Influenza vaccination; Health care workers; Intervention mapping; Intervention implementation; Acute health care
Rhythm control for atrial fibrillation (AF) is cumbersome because of its progressive nature caused by structural remodelling. Upstream therapy refers to therapeutic interventions aiming to modify the atrial substrate, leading to prevention of AF.
The Routine versus Aggressive upstream rhythm Control for prevention of Early AF in heart failure (RACE 3) study hypothesises that aggressive upstream rhythm control increases persistence of sinus rhythm compared with conventional rhythm control in patients with early AF and mild-to-moderate early systolic or diastolic heart failure undergoing electrical cardioversion.
RACE 3 is a prospective, randomised, open, multinational, multicenter trial. Upstream rhythm control consists of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and/or angiotensin receptor blockers, mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists, statins, cardiac rehabilitation therapy, and intensive counselling on dietary restrictions, exercise maintenance, and drug adherence. Conventional rhythm control consists of routine rhythm control therapy without cardiac rehabilitation therapy and intensive counselling. In both arms, every effort is made to keep patients in the rhythm control strategy, and ion channel antiarrhythmic drugs or pulmonary vein ablation may be instituted if AF relapses. Total inclusion will be 250 patients. If upstream therapy proves to be effective in improving maintenance of sinus rhythm, it could become a new approach to rhythm control supporting conventional pharmacological and non-pharmacological rhythm control.
Atrial fibrillation; Secondary prevention; Upstream therapy; Heart failure
The Ets transcription factor Fli-1 is preferentially expressed in hematopoietic tissues and cells, including immature T cells, but the role of Fli-1 in T cell development has not been closely examined. To address this we retrovirally overexpressed Fli-1 in various in vitro and in vivo settings and analysed its effect on T cell development. We found that Fli-1 overexpression perturbed the DN to DP transition and inhibited CD4 development whilst enhancing CD8 development both in vitro and in vivo. Surprisingly, Fli-1 overexpression in vivo eventuated in development of pre-T cell lymphoblastic leukaemia/lymphoma (pre-T LBL). Known Fli-1 target genes such as the pro-survival Bcl-2 family members were not found to be upregulated. In contrast, we found increased NOTCH1 expression in all Fli-1 T cells and detected Notch1 mutations in all tumours. These data show a novel function for Fli-1 in T cell development and leukaemogenesis and provide a new mouse model of pre-T LBL to identify treatment options that target the Fli-1 and Notch1 signalling pathways.
Stress and stress hormones modulate memory formation in various ways that are relevant to our understanding of stress-related psychopathology, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Particular relevance is attributed to efficient memory formation sustained by the hippocampus and parahippocampus. This process is thought to reduce the occurrence of intrusions and flashbacks following trauma, but may be negatively affected by acute stress. Moreover, recent evidence suggests that the efficiency of visuo-spatial processing and learning based on the hippocampal area is related to PTSD symptoms.
The current study investigated the effect of acute stress on spatial configuration learning using a spatial contextual cueing task (SCCT) known to heavily rely on structures in the parahippocampus.
Acute stress was induced by subjecting participants (N = 34) to the Maastricht Acute Stress Test (MAST). Following a counterbalanced within-subject approach, the effects of stress and the ensuing hormonal (i.e., cortisol) activity on subsequent SCCT performance were compared to SCCT performance following a no-stress control condition.
Acute stress did not impact SCCT learning overall, but opposing effects emerged for high versus low cortisol responders to the MAST. Learning scores following stress were reduced in low cortisol responders, while high cortisol-responding participants showed improved learning.
The effects of stress on spatial configuration learning were moderated by the magnitude of endogenous cortisol secretion. These findings suggest a possible mechanism by which cortisol responses serve an adaptive function during stress and trauma, and this may prove to be a promising route for future research in this area.
Maastricht Acute Stress Test; contextual cueing paradigm; spatial memory; hippocampal area; posttraumatic stress disorder
To examine the hypothesis that the “natural” combination of delusions and hallucinations in psychotic disorders in fact represents a selection of early subclinical hallucinatory experiences associated with delusional ideation, resulting in need for care and mental health service use.
In the Early Developmental Stages of Psychopathology study, a prospective, 10-year follow-up of a representative cohort of adolescents and young adults in Munich, Germany (n = 2524), clinical psychologists assessed hallucinations and delusions at 2 time points (T2 and T3). Analyses compared differences in psychopathology, familial liability for nonpsychotic disorder, nongenetic risk factors, persistence, and clinical outcome between groups characterized by: (1) absence of positive psychotic symptoms, (2) presence of isolated hallucinations, (3) isolated delusions, and (4) both hallucinations and delusions.
Delusions and hallucinations occurred together much more often (T2: 3.1%; T3: 2.0%) than predicted by chance (T2: 1.0%; T3: 0.4%; OR = 11.0; 95% CI: 8.1, 15.1). Content of delusions was contingent on presence of hallucinations but modality of hallucinations was not contingent on presence of delusions. The group with both hallucinations and delusions, compared to groups with either delusions or hallucinations in isolation, displayed the strongest associations with familial affective liability and nongenetic risk factors, as well as with persistence of psychotic symptoms, comorbidity with negative symptoms, affective psychopathology, and clinical need.
The early stages of psychosis may involve hallucinatory experiences that, if complicated by delusional ideation under the influence of environmental risks and (liability for) affective dysregulation, give rise to a poor prognosis hallucinatory–delusional syndrome.
psychosis; delusions; hallucinations; schizophrenia; prevention; risk
Objectives. Pregnant women, referred because of an increased risk of fetal Down syndrome, who underwent an invasive prenatal procedure were offered a choice between karyotyping and rapid targeted testing. This study aims to assess women's attitudes and experiences towards what option to choose. Methods. A retrospective multicentre survey (2008–2010) was conducted among 1370 women. General questions were asked about decision making issues, followed by personal questions about their experiences in choice making, test preference, influence of others, and possible regrets. Results. In total, 90.1% of the respondents (N = 825) indicated that pregnant women are able to choose, although 33.1% stated that the choice can best be made by a professional. 18.4% indicated that making a choice places a burden on women. In 96.4%, respondents preferred to have the option to choose again in case of a next pregnancy, whereas 2.7% preferred the choice to be made by a professional. Regret was indicated by 1.2%. Decision making was influenced by others in 64.9%. A slightly higher preference for karyotyping was indicated by 52.7% of the respondents. Conclusions. Positive attitudes and experiences were expressed towards the option to choose. Respondents took decisions freely, although sometimes influenced by a partner or a professional, to follow their individual perspectives.
Recent work has shown that humans can learn or detect complex dependencies among variables. Even learning a simple dependency involves the identification of an underlying model and the learning of its parameters. This process represents learning a structured problem. We are interested in an empirical assessment of some of the factors that enable humans to learn such a dependency over time. More specifically, we look at how the statistics of the presentation of samples from a given structure influence learning. Participants engage in an experimental task where they are required to predict the timing of a target. At the outset, they are oblivious to the existence of a relationship between the position of a stimulus and the required temporal response to intercept it. Different groups of participants are either presented with a Random Walk where consecutive stimuli were correlated or with stimuli that were uncorrelated over time. We find that the structural relationship implicit in the task is only learned in the conditions where the stimuli are independently drawn. This leads us to believe that humans require rich and independent sampling to learn hidden structures among variables.