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1.  Knowledge of prescribed medication information among patients with limited English proficiency in Sri Lanka 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:658.
Patients’ knowledge on prescribed medications play a key role in the long term management of cardiac diseases and in determining their outcome. The present study evaluates the knowledge about prescribed medication among cardiac patients and aim to identify factors influencing knowledge.
A descriptive-cross-sectional study was conducted among 200 adult patients attending clinics at the Cardiology Unit of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka. Knowledge assessment focused on four different sections; drug name, dose, frequency and indication. The total score of 60 was calculated by giving each component the following weighted scores; drug name = 20, indication = 20, drug dose = 10 and frequency = 10. A binary logistic regression analysis to evaluate factors associated with ‘good knowledge’ (total score ≥ 40) was performed.
Among 200 participants 56.5% (n = 113) were males. Mean age was 59.7 ± 8.2 years and a majority (n = 170, 85.0%) were older than 50 years of age. Sinhala was the primary language of 91.5% (n = 183) of participants, while English was the primary language in only two of the study participants (1.0%). Eighty four percent of the participants were educated up to secondary education or above, while 2.5% (n = 5) had no formal education. The overall knowledge (total score-60) on prescribed medications among the study population was ‘poor’ (score ≤ 20) in 46%, ‘adequate’ (score 21–40) in 36.5% and ‘good’ (score ≥ 40) in 17.5%. The results of the binary logistic regression analysis indicates that Secondary (OR-1.53) and Tertiary levels (OR-2.79) of education, self-reported perception of illness as being Moderate (OR-1.23) or Severe (OR-1.70) and being educated by a doctor (as reported by patients) (OR-1.69) significantly increased the odds of having a ‘Good Knowledge of Drugs’. Majority of the patients were unable to read and understand the information written in English. The doctor’s contributed towards educating on drug information only in 33.0% of the patients.
In a resource-poor setting in patients with Limited English Proficiency, lower level of education and misperception of illness severity resulted in reduced knowledge on prescribed medications. Furthermore, being educated by a doctor significantly improved knowledge. However the doctors’ contribution at present to deliver quality health information to their patients was at an unsatisfactory level.
PMCID: PMC3532203  PMID: 23191984
Limited English proficiency; Health literacy; Sri Lanka; Cardiac disease
2.  Tofacitinib, a janus kinase inhibitor demonstrates efficacy in an IL-15 transgenic mouse model that recapitulates pathologic manifestations of celiac disease 
Journal of clinical immunology  2012;33(3):586-594.
Celiac disease (CD) is an immune-mediated, inflammatory disorder of the small intestines with a defined genetic etiological component associated with the expression of HLA-DQ2 and/or HLA-DQ8 haplotypes. The dietary consumption of gluten-rich cereals triggers a gluten-specific immune response in genetically susceptible individuals leading to a spectrum of clinical manifestations ranging from an inapparent subclinical disease, to overt enteropathy that can in some individuals progress to enteropathy-associated T cell lymphoma (EATL). The tissue-destructive pathologic process of CD is driven by activated NK-like intraepithelial CD8+ lymphocytes and the proinflammatory cytokine IL-15 has emerged to be pivotal in orchestrating this perpetual tissue destruction and inflammation. Moreover, transgenic mice that over-express human IL-15 from an enterocyte-specific promoter (T3b-hIL-15 Tg) recapitulate many of the disease-defining T and B cell-mediated pathologic features of CD, further supporting the evolving consensus that IL-15 represents a valuable target in devising therapeutic interventions against the form of the disease that is especially refractory to gluten-free diet. In the present study, we evaluated the potential efficacy of tofacitinib, a pan-JAK inhibitor that abrogates IL-15 signaling, as a therapeutic modality against CD using T3b-hIL-15 Tg mice. We demonstrate that tofacitinib therapy leads to a lasting reversal of pathologic manifestations in the treated mice, thereby highlighting the potential value of tofacitininb as a therapeutic modality against refractory CD for which no effective therapy exists currently. Additionally, the visceral adiposity observed in the tofacitinib-treated mice underscores the importance of continued evaluation of the drug's impact on the lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3594487  PMID: 23269601
3.  The role of Interleukin-15 in inflammation and immune responses to infection: implications for its therapeutic use 
Interleukin-15 (IL-15) is a pleiotropic cytokine with a broad range of biological functions in many diverse cell types. It plays a major role in the development of inflammatory and protective immune responses to microbial invaders and parasites by modulating immune cells of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. This review provides an overview of the mechanisms by which IL-15 modulates the host response to infectious agents and its utility as a cytokine adjuvant in vaccines against infectious pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3270128  PMID: 22064066
IL-15; infectious diseases; vaccines; inflammation; molecular adjuvants
4.  Swine Influenza in Sri Lanka 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(3):481-484.
To study influenza viruses in pigs in Sri Lanka,we examined samples from pigs at slaughterhouses. Influenza (H3N2) and A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses were prevalent during 2004–2005 and 2009–2012, respectively. Genetic and epidemiologic analyses of human and swine influenza viruses indicated 2 events of A(H1N1)pdm09 virus spillover from humans to pigs.
PMCID: PMC3647653  PMID: 23621918
swine influenza; Sri Lanka; epidemiology; viruses; spillover; ecology; A(H1N1)pdm09; influenza
5.  A rapid multi-disciplinary biodiversity assessment of the Kamdebooberge (Sneeuberg, Eastern Cape, South Africa): implications for conservation 
SpringerPlus  2012;1(1):56.
Botanical work since 2008 on the Sleeping Giant section of the Kamdebooberge (Sneeuberg mountain complex, Eastern Cape, South Africa) has indicated that these mountains may be of significant conservation value. Accordingly, a precursory, rapid multi-disciplinary biodiversity assessment was undertaken in January 2011, focusing on plants, tetrapod vertebrates and leafhoppers. The botanical results confirm the Kamdebooberge as being of high botanical conservation value, hosting three strict endemics, healthy populations of five other Sneeuberg endemics, and fynbos communities comprising species not found elsewhere in the Sneeuberg. The Kamdebooberge are important for herpetofauna (excluding serpentoids) and mammals, hosting several range-restricted and regional endemics. The expedition uncovered three new leafhopper species, together with several species previously only known from the Cape Floristic Region. Further detailed faunal work may provide further interesting results from these mountains, which show a high conservation value unique to the southern Escarpment.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-56) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3540356  PMID: 23316449
Endemics; Great escarpment; Kamdebooberge; Plants; Invertebrates; Sneeuberg centre of floristic endemism; Vertebrates
6.  Effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) on blood glucose and lipids in a diabetic and healthy rat model 
Pharmacognosy Research  2012;4(2):73-79.
To evaluate short- and long-term effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum on food consumption, body weight, glycemic control, and lipids in healthy and diabetes-induced rats.
Materials and Methods:
The study was conducted in two phases (Phase I and Phase II), using Sprague-Dawley rats in four groups. Phase I evaluated acute effects on fasting blood glucose (FBG) (Groups 1 and 2) and on post-oral glucose (Groups 3 and 4) blood glucose. Groups 1 and 3 received distilled-water and Groups 2 and 4 received cinnamon-extracts. Phase II evaluated effects on food consumption, body weight, blood glucose, and lipids over 1 month. Group A (n = 8, distilled-water) and Group B (n = 8, cinnamon-extracts) were healthy rats, while Group C (n = 5, distilled-water) and Group D (n = 5, cinnamon-extracts) were diabetes-induced rats. Serum lipid profile and HbA1c were measured on D-0 and D-30. FBG, 2-h post-prandial blood glucose, body weight, and food consumption were measured on every fifth day.
Phase I: There was no significant difference in serial blood glucose values in cinnamon-treated group from time 0 (P > 0.05). Following oral glucose, the cinnamon group demonstrated a faster decline in blood glucose compared to controls (P < 0.05). Phase II: Between D0 and D30, the difference in food consumption was shown only in diabetes-induced rats (P < 0.001). Similarly, the significant difference following cinnamon-extracts in FBG and 2-h post-prandial blood glucose from D0 to D30 was shown only in diabetes-induced rats. In cinnamon-extracts administered groups, total and LDL cholesterol levels were lower on D30 in both healthy and diabetes-induced animals (P < 0.001).
C. zeylanicum lowered blood glucose, reduced food intake, and improved lipid parameters in diabetes-induced rats.
PMCID: PMC3326760  PMID: 22518078
Blood glucose; Ceylon cinnamon; Cinnamomum zeylanicum; diabetes mellitus; lipids; Sprague-Dawley rats
7.  Smallpox vaccine with integrated IL-15 demonstrates enhanced in vivo viral clearance in immunodeficient mice and confers long term protection against a lethal monkeypox challenge in cynomolgus monkeys 
Vaccine  2010;28(43):7081-7091.
Despite the eradication of smallpox, there is heightened concern that it could be reintroduced as a result of intentional release of Variola major virus through an act of bioterrorism. The live vaccine that was pivotal in the eradication of smallpox though considered a gold standard for its efficacy still retains sufficient residual virulence that can cause life-threatening sequelae especially in immune deficient individuals. Therefore, a safer smallpox vaccine that can match the efficacy of first generation vaccines is urgently needed. We previously reported that the integration of human IL-15 cytokine into the genome of Wyeth strain of vaccinia (Wyeth/IL-15), the same strain as the licensed vaccine, generates a vaccine with superior immunogenicity and efficacy in a mouse model. We now demonstrate that Wyeth/IL-15 is non-lethal to athymic nude mice when administered intravenously at a dose of 107 plaque forming units and it undergoes enhanced in vivo clearance in these immune deficient mice. Furthermore, a majority of cynomolgus monkeys vaccinated with vaccinia viruses with integrated IL-15, when challenged 3 years later with a lethal dose of monkeypox virus displayed milder clinical manifestations with complete recovery supporting the utility of Wyeth/IL-15 for contemporary populations as a safer and efficacious smallpox vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2952667  PMID: 20728526
8.  Brain Targeted Transcranial Administration of Diazepam and Shortening of Sleep Latency in Healthy Human Volunteers 
Application of medicated oils on scalp had been practiced for centuries in the Ayurvedic system of medicine in diseases associated with the central nervous system. It is possible that the effectiveness of the therapy may be a result of targeted delivery of active compounds to the brain transcranially. Evidence also comes from two previous studies with positive results on brain targeted transcranial delivery of methadone base and diazepam on rat models. Possibility of transcranial drug delivery was investigated in healthy human volunteers using electroencephalography techniques by assessing the ability of transcranially administered diazepam in bringing about β activity in the electroencephalographic wave patterns and shortening of the sleep latency period. Non polar drug molecules dissolved in a non-aqueous sesame oil based vehicle is a significant feature in the transcranial dosage design. The study was under taken in two phases. In the Phase-I study scalp application of a single dose of 2 mg/3 ml of the oil was employed and in the Phase-II study repeat application of three doses 24 h apart were employed. Sleep latency changes were monitored with Multiple Sleep Latency Tests with 5 naps employing the standard electroencephalography, electroocculography and electromyography electrodes. Sleep onset was identified with the first epoch of any sleep stage non rapid eye movement 1, 2, 3, 4 or rapid eye movement using electroencephalography, electroocculography and electromyography criteria. In both phases of the study there was significant reduction in the sleep latencies. It was much more pronounced in the Phase-II study. None of the subjects however displayed beta activity in the electroencephalography. Sleep latency reduction following scalp application in both the phases are suggestive of transcranial migration of diazepam molecules to the receptor sites of the nerve tissue of the brain eliciting its pharmacological effect of sedation. Transcranial brain targeted dosage design is therefore feasible.
PMCID: PMC3425060  PMID: 22923861
Brain targeted; electroencephalography; emissary veins; diazepam; sesame oil; sleep latency; transcranial
9.  A Multi-valent Vaccinia Virus-based Tuberculosis Vaccine Molecularly Adjuvanted with Interleukin-15 Induces Robust Immune Responses in Mice 
Vaccine  2009;27(15):2121-2127.
Tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis is responsible for nearly two million deaths every year globally. A single licensed vaccine derived from Mycobacterium bovis, bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) administered perinatally as a prophylactic vaccine has been in use for over 80 years and confers substantial protection against childhood tuberculous meningitis and miliary tuberculosis. However, the BCG vaccine is virtually ineffective against the adult pulmonary form of tuberculosis that is pivotal in the transmission of tuberculosis that has infected almost 33% of the global population. Thus, an effective vaccine to both prevent tuberculosis and reduce its transmission is urgently needed. We have generated a multi-valent, vectored vaccine candidate utilizing the modified virus Ankara (MVA) strain of vaccinia virus to tandemly express five antigens, ESAT6, Ag85A, Ag85B, HSP65 and Mtb39A of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that have been reported to be protective individually in certain animal models together with an immunostimulatory cytokine interleukin 15 (MVA/IL-15/5Mtb). Although, immunological correlates of protection against tuberculosis in humans remain to be established, we demonstrate that our vaccine induced comparable CD4+ T cell and greater CD8+ T cell and antibody responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vaccinated mice in a direct comparison with the BCG vaccine and conferred protection against an aerogenic challenge of M. tuberculosis, thus warranting its further preclinical development.
PMCID: PMC2667804  PMID: 19356615
Tuberculosis; vaccine; IL-15
10.  Vaccinia virus-based multivalent H5N1 avian influenza vaccines adjuvanted with IL-15 confer sterile cross-clade protection in mice1 
The potential for a global influenza pandemic remains significant with epidemiologic and ecologic indicators revealing the entrenchment of highly pathogenic avian influenza A H5N1 in both wild bird populations and domestic poultry flocks in Asia and in many African and European countries. Indisputably, the single most effective public health intervention in mitigating the devastation such a pandemic could unleash is the availability of a safe and effective vaccine that can be rapidly deployed for pre-exposure vaccination of millions of people. We have developed two vaccinia-based influenza vaccines that are molecularly adjuvanted with the immune-stimulatory cytokine IL-15. The pentavalent Wyeth/IL-15/5Flu vaccine expresses the hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, and nucleoprotein, derived from the H5N1 influenza virus A/Vietnam/1203/2004 and the matrix proteins M1 and M2 from H5N1 A/CK/Indonesia/PA/2003 virus on the backbone of a currently licensed smallpox vaccine. The bivalent MVA/IL-15/HA/NA vaccine expresses only the H5 hemagglutinin and N1 neuraminidase on the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) backbone. Both vaccines induced cross-neutralizing antibodies and robust cellular immune responses in vaccinated mice and conferred sterile cross-clade protection when challenged with H5N1 virus of a different clade. In addition to having the potential as a universal influenza vaccine, in the event of an impending pandemic, the Wyeth/IL-15/5Flu is also readily amenable for bulk production to cover the global population. For those individuals for whom the use of Wyeth vaccine is contraindicated, our MVA/IL-15/HA/NA offers a substitute or a prevaccine to be used in a mass vaccination campaign similar to the smallpox eradication campaigns of few decades ago.
PMCID: PMC2656349  PMID: 19234203
Viral; Cytokines; vaccination
11.  Training simulated patients: evaluation of a training approach using self-assessment and peer/tutor feedback to improve performance 
Most medical schools use simulated patients (SPs) for teaching. In this context the authenticity of role play and quality of feedback provided by SPs is of paramount importance. The available literature on SP training mostly addresses instructor led training where the SPs are given direction on their roles. This study focuses on the use of peer and self evaluation as a tool to train SPs.
SPs at the medical school participated in a staff development and training programme which included a) self-assessment of their performance while observing video-tapes of their role play using a structured guide and b) peer group assessment of their performance under tutor guidance. The pre and post training performance in relation to authenticity of role play and quality of feedback was blindly assessed by students and tutors using a validated instrument and the scores were compared. A focus group discussion and a questionnaire assessed acceptability of the training programme by the SPs.
The post-training performance assessment scores were significantly higher (p < 0.05) than the pre-training scores. The degree of improvement in the quality of feedback provided to students was more when compared to the improvement of role play. The acceptability of the training by the SPs was very satisfactory scoring an average of 7.6 out of 10. The majority of the SPs requested the new method of training to be included in their current training programme as a regular feature.
Use of structured self-reflective and peer-interactive, practice based methods of SP training is recommended to improve SP performance. More studies on these methods of training may further refine SP training and lead to improvement of SP performance which in turn may positively impact medical education.
PMCID: PMC2711071  PMID: 19563621
12.  The prevalence of macrovascular disease and lipid abnormalities amongst diabetic patients in Sri Lanka. 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  1993;69(813):557-561.
The prevalence of macrovascular disease and hyperlipidaemia was examined in 500 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus attending a diabetic clinic in a Sri Lankan teaching hospital and 250 controls matched for age and gender. Macrovascular disease was assessed using a modified World Health Organisation questionnaire and modified Minnesota coding of electrocardiogram recordings. Twenty-one per cent of diabetic patients and 14.3% of controls had hypercholesterolaemia (P < 0.05). Macrovascular disease was present in 13.4% of diabetic patients and 8.2% of controls. Significant differences were seen in the prevalence of hypertension (15.6% vs 4.8%, P < 0.05), obesity (16.2% vs 9.7%, P < 0.05), peripheral vascular disease (5.6% vs 2%, P < 0.05) and electrocardiographic abnormalities (12% vs 6%, P < 0.05) in diabetic patients when compared to controls. Hyperlipidaemia and macrovascular disease is common in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients in Sri Lanka and accounts for significant morbidity.
PMCID: PMC2399866  PMID: 8415344
13.  Inferring Influenza Infection Attack Rate from Seroprevalence Data 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(4):e1004054.
Seroprevalence survey is the most practical method for accurately estimating infection attack rate (IAR) in an epidemic such as influenza. These studies typically entail selecting an arbitrary titer threshold for seropositivity (e.g. microneutralization [MN] 1∶40) and assuming the probability of seropositivity given infection (infection-seropositivity probability, ISP) is 100% or similar to that among clinical cases. We hypothesize that such conventions are not necessarily robust because different thresholds may result in different IAR estimates and serologic responses of clinical cases may not be representative. To illustrate our hypothesis, we used an age-structured transmission model to fully characterize the transmission dynamics and seroprevalence rises of 2009 influenza pandemic A/H1N1 (pdmH1N1) during its first wave in Hong Kong. We estimated that while 99% of pdmH1N1 infections became MN1∶20 seropositive, only 72%, 62%, 58% and 34% of infections among age 3–12, 13–19, 20–29, 30–59 became MN1∶40 seropositive, which was much lower than the 90%–100% observed among clinical cases. The fitted model was consistent with prevailing consensus on pdmH1N1 transmission characteristics (e.g. initial reproductive number of 1.28 and mean generation time of 2.4 days which were within the consensus range), hence our ISP estimates were consistent with the transmission dynamics and temporal buildup of population-level immunity. IAR estimates in influenza seroprevalence studies are sensitive to seropositivity thresholds and ISP adjustments which in current practice are mostly chosen based on conventions instead of systematic criteria. Our results thus highlighted the need for reexamining conventional practice to develop standards for analyzing influenza serologic data (e.g. real-time assessment of bias in ISP adjustments by evaluating the consistency of IAR across multiple thresholds and with mixture models), especially in the context of pandemics when robustness and comparability of IAR estimates are most needed for informing situational awareness and risk assessment. The same principles are broadly applicable for seroprevalence studies of other infectious disease outbreaks.
Author Summary
Seroprevalence studies have been regarded as the most practical method for accurately estimating the number of infections in influenza epidemics and pandemics. However, methods for inferring the number of infections from seroprevalence data in previous studies have mostly been based on conventional practice instead of standardized criteria. Specifically, there are no systematic criteria on how to select the seropositivity threshold and adjust for the proportion of infections that become seropositive. Here, we showed that under the conventional criteria, the number of 2009 pandemic influenza A/H1N1 infections had been substantially underestimated in Hong Kong as well as other countries, mostly due to overestimation of the proportion of infections that became seropositive. Our results highlighted the need to reexamine the widely accepted practice in interpreting seroprevalence data, especially in the context of pandemics when little is known but robust and comparable estimates of the number of infections and severity are most needed for informing situational awareness and guiding control policies.
PMCID: PMC3974861  PMID: 24699693
14.  Urinary Concentrations of Bisphenol A in an Urban Minority Birth Cohort in New York City, Prenatal Through Age 7 Years 
Environmental research  2013;122:38-44.
Despite growing concern over potential health effects associated with exposures to the endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A (BPA), insufficient information is available on determinants of BPA concentrations among minority populations in the US.
To describe concentrations and predictors of BPA in an inner-city longitudinal birth cohort.
We analyzed spot urines for total BPA collected during pregnancy and child ages 3, 5, and 7 years from African Americans and Dominicans (n=568) enrolled in the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health birth cohort and residing in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. Adjusting for specific gravity, generalized estimating equations were used to compare BPA concentrations across paired samples and linear regression analyses were used to determine relationships between BPA, season of sample collection, socio-demographic variables and urinary concentrations of phthalate metabolites.
BPA was detected in > 94% of samples. Prenatal concentrations were significantly lower than postnatal concentrations. Geometric means were higher among African Americans compared to Dominicans in prenatal (p=0.008), 5 year (p<0.001) and 7 year (p=0.017) samples. Geometric means at 5 and 7 years were higher (p=0.021, p=0.041 respectively) for children of mothers never married compared to mothers ever married at enrollment. BPA concentrations were correlated with phthalate metabolite concentrations at prenatal, 3, 5 and 7 years (p-values <0.05). Postnatal BPA concentrations were higher in samples collected during the summer.
This study shows widespread BPA exposure in an inner-city minority population. BPA concentration variations were associated with socio-demographic characteristics and other xenobiotics.
PMCID: PMC3602210  PMID: 23312110
Bisphenol A; Urine; Child; Prenatal; Minority
15.  Autoreactive T and B Cells Induce the Development of Bronchus-Associated Lymphoid Tissue in the Lung 
Rheumatoid arthritis–related interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Studies in humans have found that the incidence of bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) correlates with the severity of lung injury. However, the mechanisms underlying the development of BALT during systemic autoimmunity remain unknown. We have determined whether systemic autoimmunity in a murine model of autoimmune arthritis can promote the development of BALT by generating a novel murine model derived from K/BxN mice. Transgenic mice with the KRN T-cell receptor specific for the autoantigen, glucose-6–phosphate isomerase (GPI), were crossed with GPI-specific immunoglobulin heavy and light chain knock-in mice, producing mice with a majority of T and B cells specific for the same autoantigen. We found that 67% of these mice demonstrated lymphocytic infiltration in the lungs, localized to either the perivascular or peribronchial regions. Fifty percent of the mice with lymphocytic infiltration manifested lymphoid-like lesions resembling BALT, with distinct T and B cell follicles. The lungs from mice with lymphoid infiltrates had increased numbers of cytokine-producing T cells, including IL-17A+ T cells and increased major histocompatibility complex Class II expression on B cells. Interestingly, challenge with bleomycin failed to elicit a significant fibrotic response, compared with wild-type control mice. Our data suggest that systemic autoreactivity promotes ectopic lymphoid tissue development in the lung through the cooperation of autoreactive T and B cells. However, these BALT-like lesions may not be sufficient to promote fibrotic lung disease at steady state or after inflammatory challenge.
PMCID: PMC3653607  PMID: 23371062
autoimmunity; bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue; T cells; B cells
16.  De Novo delayed onset hypothermia secondary to therapeutic doses of risperidone in bipolar affective disorder 
The commonly reported side effects related to risperidone include dizziness, nausea, weight gain, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction. A rather rare and very much less documented side effect of risperidone is hypothermia: traditionally defined as a drop in core body temperature below 35°C (95°F). We report a case of a 75-year-old woman who had been treated for bipolar affective disorder for nearly 3 years with risperidone went on to develop hypothermia which was reversed with the withdrawal of the offending drug. This case is unique as it reported a rare but potentially serious side effect occurring after a prolonged administration of risperidone contrary to the previous reports in which hypothermia occurred only a few hours or days after the administration of risperidone and occurred in a patient who was diagnosed as having bipolar affective disorder as opposed to schizophrenia, the most common psychiatric disorder associated with previously reported hypothermia. The authors would like to emphasize the importance of this idiosyncratic potentially life-threatening adverse effect of risperidone-induced hypothermia to all clinicians, which occurs regardless of the duration of drug intake, in order to help them identify the condition early and treat it effectively.
PMCID: PMC3952484
bipolar affective disorder; delayed onset; hypothermia; risperidone
17.  Urban Adolescents Readily Comply with a Complicated Asthma Research Protocol 
Adolescents are often cited as having poor rates of compliance with medical regimens and research protocols. We quantified compliance in a cohort of urban adolescents participating in a complex research protocol in which measures were obtained without direct supervision by research personnel.
A total of 54 early adolescents ages 10–13 were asked to wear a vest containing a personal air pollutant exposure monitor for two 24-hour periods and to perform daily peak expiratory flow (PEF) for six consecutive days. Compliance with wearing the vest was measured by comparing accelerometer data from a device within the vest to one worn continuously on the child’s wrist. Daily PEF data were recorded using an electronic meter.
A priori definition of compliance was met by 85% of the adolescents by wearing the exposure monitoring vest and 72% by performing PEF.
These findings suggest that early adolescents can be compliant with complex research protocols that are needed to help bridge gaps in pediatric asthma research.
PMCID: PMC3966723
adolescents; teen compliance; asthma studies; exposure monitoring; peak expiratory flow; accelerometer; objective measurements; wearing compliance
18.  Piwi Is Required in Multiple Cell Types to Control Germline Stem Cell Lineage Development in the Drosophila Ovary 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90267.
The piRNA pathway plays an important role in maintaining genome stability in the germ line by silencing transposable elements (TEs) from fly to mammals. As a highly conserved piRNA pathway component, Piwi is widely expressed in both germ cells and somatic cells in the Drosophila ovary and is required for piRNA production in both cell types. In addition to its known role in somatic cap cells to maintain germline stem cells (GSCs), this study has demonstrated that Piwi has novel functions in somatic cells and germ cells of the Drosophila ovary to promote germ cell differentiation. Piwi knockdown in escort cells causes a reduction in escort cell (EC) number and accumulation of undifferentiated germ cells, some of which show active BMP signaling, indicating that Piwi is required to maintain ECs and promote germ cell differentiation. Simultaneous knockdown of dpp, encoding a BMP, in ECs can partially rescue the germ cell differentiation defect, indicating that Piwi is required in ECs to repress dpp. Consistent with its key role in piRNA production, TE transcripts increase significantly and DNA damage is also elevated in the piwi knockdown somatic cells. Germ cell-specific knockdown of piwi surprisingly causes depletion of germ cells before adulthood, suggesting that Piwi might control primordial germ cell maintenance or GSC establishment. Finally, Piwi inactivation in the germ line of the adult ovary leads to gradual GSC loss and germ cell differentiation defects, indicating the intrinsic role of Piwi in adult GSC maintenance and differentiation. This study has revealed new germline requirement of Piwi in controlling GSC maintenance and lineage differentiation as well as its new somatic function in promoting germ cell differentiation. Therefore, Piwi is required in multiple cell types to control GSC lineage development in the Drosophila ovary.
PMCID: PMC3962343  PMID: 24658126
19.  Molecular and Neurodevelopmental Benefits to Children of Closure of a Coal Burning Power Plant in China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91966.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are major toxic air pollutants released during incomplete combustion of coal. PAH emissions are especially problematic in China because of their reliance on coal-powered energy. The prenatal period is a window of susceptibility to neurotoxicants. To determine the health benefits of reducing air pollution related to coal-burning, we compared molecular biomarkers of exposure and preclinical effects in umbilical cord blood to neurodevelopmental outcomes from two successive birth cohorts enrolled before and after a highly polluting, coal-fired power plant in Tongliang County, China had ceased operation. Women and their newborns in the two successive cohorts were enrolled at the time of delivery. We measured PAH-DNA adducts, a biomarker of PAH-exposure and DNA damage, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein involved in neuronal growth, in umbilical cord blood. At age two, children were tested using the Gesell Developmental Schedules (GDS). The two cohorts were compared with respect to levels of both biomarkers in cord blood as well as developmental quotient (DQ) scores across 5 domains. Lower levels of PAH-DNA adducts, higher concentrations of the mature BDNF protein (mBDNF) and higher DQ scores were seen in the 2005 cohort enrolled after closure of the power plant. In the two cohorts combined, PAH-DNA adducts were inversely associated with mBDNF as well as scores for motor (p = 0.05), adaptive (p = 0.022), and average (p = 0.014) DQ. BDNF levels were positively associated with motor (p = 0.018), social (p = 0.001), and average (p = 0.017) DQ scores. The findings indicate that the closure of a coal-burning plant resulted in the reduction of PAH-DNA adducts in newborns and increased mBDNF levels that in turn, were positively associated with neurocognitive development. They provide further evidence of the direct benefits to children's health as a result of the coal plant shut down, supporting clean energy and environmental policies in China and elsewhere.
PMCID: PMC3960155  PMID: 24647528
20.  ABCC5, a Gene That Influences the Anterior Chamber Depth, Is Associated with Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004089.
Anterior chamber depth (ACD) is a key anatomical risk factor for primary angle closure glaucoma (PACG). We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on ACD to discover novel genes for PACG on a total of 5,308 population-based individuals of Asian descent. Genome-wide significant association was observed at a sequence variant within ABCC5 (rs1401999; per-allele effect size = −0.045 mm, P = 8.17×10−9). This locus was associated with an increase in risk of PACG in a separate case-control study of 4,276 PACG cases and 18,801 controls (per-allele OR = 1.13 [95% CI: 1.06–1.22], P = 0.00046). The association was strengthened when a sub-group of controls with open angles were included in the analysis (per-allele OR = 1.30, P = 7.45×10−9; 3,458 cases vs. 3,831 controls). Our findings suggest that the increase in PACG risk could in part be mediated by genetic sequence variants influencing anterior chamber dimensions.
Author Summary
The anterior chamber is the space within the eye which is bound by the cornea, and the anterior surfaces of the iris and lens. Anterior chamber depth (ACD) is the distance measured along the eye's optical axis, from the cornea to the lens surface. ACD is an important risk factor for primary angle closure glaucoma (PACG), a major cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, and in particular, individuals of Asian ethnicity. In order to identify the genes that underlie PACG susceptibility, we conducted a two-staged study. We first conducted a large scale genetic study on a total of 5,308 population-based individuals of Asian descent to identify the genetic variants that influence ACD. This was followed by testing for associations between the identified genetic variant and PACG in another independent collection of 4,276 PACG cases and 18,801 controls. We found that a genetic variant within ABCC5 was associated with an increased risk of having PACG. Our findings suggest that the increase in PACG risk could in part be mediated by genetic sequence variants that influence the anterior chamber dimensions of the eye.
PMCID: PMC3945113  PMID: 24603532
21.  Mutant TDP-43 Deregulates AMPK Activation by PP2A in ALS Models 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90449.
Bioenergetic abnormalities and metabolic dysfunction occur in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and genetic mouse models. However, whether metabolic dysfunction occurs early in ALS pathophysiology linked to different ALS genes remains unclear. Here, we investigated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation, which is a key enzyme induced by energy depletion and metabolic stress, in neuronal cells and mouse models expressing mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) or TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) linked to ALS. AMPK phosphorylation was sharply increased in spinal cords of transgenic SOD1G93A mice at disease onset and accumulated in cytoplasmic granules in motor neurons, but not in pre-symptomatic mice. AMPK phosphorylation also occurred in peripheral tissues, liver and kidney, in SOD1G93A mice at disease onset, demonstrating that AMPK activation occurs late and is not restricted to motor neurons. Conversely, AMPK activity was drastically diminished in spinal cords and brains of presymptomatic and symptomatic transgenic TDP-43A315T mice and motor neuronal cells expressing different TDP-43 mutants. We show that mutant TDP-43 induction of the AMPK phosphatase, protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), is associated with AMPK inactivation in these ALS models. Furthermore, PP2A inhibition by okadaic acid reversed AMPK inactivation by mutant TDP-43 in neuronal cells. Our results suggest that mutant SOD1 and TDP-43 exert contrasting effects on AMPK activation which may reflect key differences in energy metabolism and neurodegeneration in spinal cords of SOD1G93A and TDP-43A315T mice. While AMPK activation in motor neurons correlates with progression in mutant SOD1-mediated disease, AMPK inactivation mediated by PP2A is associated with mutant TDP-43-linked ALS.
PMCID: PMC3942426  PMID: 24595038
22.  Dynamic Regulation of Bone Morphogenetic Proteins in Engineered Osteochondral Constructs by Biomechanical Stimulation 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2012;19(5-6):783-792.
Osteochondral tissue-engineered grafts are proposed to hold greater potential to repair/regenerate damaged cartilage through enhanced biochemical and mechanical interactions with underlying subchondral bone as compared to simple engineered cartilage. Additionally, biomechanical stimulation of articular chondrocytes (ACs) or osteoblasts (OBs) was shown to induce greater morphogenesis of the engineered tissues composed of these cells. In this report, to define the advantages of biomechanical stimulation to osteochondral grafts for tissue engineering, we examined whether (1) ACs and OBs in three-dimensional (3D) osteochondral constructs support functional development of each other at the molecular level, and (2) biomechanical stimulation of osteochondral constructs further promotes the regenerative potential of such grafts. Various configurations of cell/scaffold assemblies, including chondral, osseous, and osteochondral constructs, were engineered with mechano-responsive electrospun poly(ɛ-caprolactone) scaffolds. These constructs were subjected to either static or dynamic (10% cyclic compressive strain at 1 Hz for 3 h/day) culture conditions for 2 weeks. The expression of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) was examined to assess the regenerative potential of each treatment on the cells. Biomechanical stimulation augmented a marked upregulation of Bmp2, Bmp6, and Bmp7 as well as downregulation of BMP antagonist, Bmp3, in a time-specific manner in the ACs and OBs of 3D osteochondral constructs. More importantly, the presence of biomechanically stimulated OBs was especially crucial for the induction of Bmp6 in ACs, a BMP required for chondrocytic growth and differentiation. Biomechanical stimulation led to enhanced tissue morphogenesis possibly through this BMP regulation, evident by the improved effective compressive modulus of the osteochondral constructs (710 kPa of dynamic culture vs. 280 kPa of static culture). Similar BMP regulation was observed in the femoral cartilages of the rats subjected to gentle exercise, demonstrating the physiological relevance of in vitro biomechanical stimulation of osteochondral constructs. Overall, our findings show that biomechanical stimulation may be critical for cross signaling between ACs and OBs to support chondrocytic growth in 3D osteochondral tissues.
PMCID: PMC3568965  PMID: 23198877
23.  Diagnostic uncertainty: dichotomies are not the answer 
PMCID: PMC3582949  PMID: 23561757
24.  Prenatal and postnatal bisphenol A exposure and asthma development among inner-city children 
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used widely to manufacture food container linings. Mouse models suggest exposure to BPA might increase allergic inflammation.
We hypothesized that BPA exposure, as assessed based on urinary BPA concentrations, would be associated with increased odds of wheeze and asthma and increased fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) values in children.
The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health recruited pregnant women for a prospective birth cohort study (n = 568). Mothers during the third trimester and children at ages 3, 5, and 7 years provided spot urine samples. Total urinary BPA concentrations were measured by using online solid-phase extraction, high-performance liquid chromatography, isotope-dilution tandem mass spectrometry. Wheeze in the last 12 months was measured by using questionnaires at ages 5, 6, and 7 years. Asthma was determined by a physician once between ages 5 and 12 years. FENO values were measured at ages 7 to 11 years.
Prenatal urinary BPA concentrations were associated inversely with wheeze at age 5 years (odds ratio [OR], 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5–0.9; P = .02). Urinary BPA concentrations at age 3 years were associated positively with wheeze at ages 5 years (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1–1.8; P = .02) and 6 years (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0–1.9; P = .03). BPA concentrations at age 7 years were associated with wheeze at age 7 years (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0–1.9; P = .04) and FENO values (β = 0.1; 95% CI, 0.02–0.2; P = .02). BPA concentrations at ages 3, 5, and 7 years were associated with asthma (OR, 1.5 [95% CI, 1.1–2.0], P = .005; OR, 1.4 [95% CI, 1.0–1.9], P = .03; and OR, 1.5 [95% CI, 1.0–2.1], P = .04, respectively).
This is the first report of an association between postnatal urinary BPA concentrations and asthma in children.
PMCID: PMC3643970  PMID: 23452902
Bisphenol A; asthma; wheeze; children; exhaled nitric oxide; IgE; cohort study
25.  Early-life cockroach allergen and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposures predict cockroach sensitization among inner-city children 
Sensitization to cockroach is one of the strongest identified risk factors for greater asthma morbidity in low-income, urban communities; however, the timing of exposures relevant to development of sensitization has not been elucidated fully. Further, exposure to combustion byproducts, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), may augment the development of allergic sensitization.
To test the hypotheses that domestic cockroach allergen measured prenatally would predict cockroach sensitization in early childhood, and that this association would be greater for children exposed to higher concentrations of PAHs.
Dominican and African-American pregnant women living in NYC were enrolled. In the third trimester, expectant mothers wore personal air samplers for measurement of 8 nonvolatile PAHs and the semi-volatile PAH pyrene, and dust was collected from homes for allergen measurement. Glutathione-s-transferase mu (GSTM1) gene polymorphisms were measured in children. Allergen-specific IgE was measured from the children at ages 2, 3, 5 and 7 years.
Bla g2 in prenatal kitchen dust predicted cockroach sensitization at age 5–7 years [adjusted relative risk (RR) 1.15; P = 0.001; n = 349]. The association was observed only among children above [RR 1.22; P = 0.001], but not below [RR 1.07; P = 0.24] median sum of 8 nonvolatile PAH levels. The association was most pronounced among children with higher PAH and null in the GSTM1 gene [RR 1.54; P = 0.001].
Prenatal exposure to cockroach allergen was associated with a greater risk of developing allergic sensitization. This risk was increased by exposure to nonvolatile PAHs, with children null for the GSTM1 mutation particularly vulnerable.
Key messages
Domestic exposure to cockroach allergen measured prenatally predicted sensitization to cockroach at age 5–7 years.
Cockroach allergen predicted sensitization only among children also exposed to higher levels of airborne non-volatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, indicating that these combustion byproducts may act as adjuvants in the development of cockroach sensitization in urban environments.
These findings suggest that targeting either allergen or combustion sources with primary prevention could be successful in reducing the development of cockroach sensitization.
PMCID: PMC3678290  PMID: 23391330
Bla g2; cockroach; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; IgE; allergy; inner-city; GSTM; GSTP

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