The present study investigates whether youths with childhood-onset antisocial behavior have higher rates of psychiatric illness, neuropsychological and psychosocial dysfunction than youths who engage in antisocial behavior for the first time in adolescence. Prior studies have generally focused on single domains of function in heterogeneous samples. The present study also examined the extent to which adolescent-onset antisocial behavior can be considered normative, an assumption of Moffitt’s dual taxonomy model.
Forty-three subjects (34 males, 9 females, mean age = 15.31, age range 12–21) with a diagnosis of conduct disorder (CD) were recruited through Headspace Services and the Juvenile Justice Community Centre. We compared childhood-onset antisocial youths (n = 23) with adolescent-onset antisocial youths (n = 20) with a conduct disorder, across a battery of psychiatric, neuropsychological and psychosocial measures. Neuropsychological function of both groups was also compared with normative scores from control samples.
The childhood-onset group displayed deficits in verbal learning and memory, higher rates of psychosis, childhood maltreatment and more serious violent behavior, all effects associated with a large effect size. Both groups had impaired executive function, falling within the extremely low range (severely impaired).
Childhood-onset CD displayed greater cognitive impairment, more psychiatric symptoms and committed more serious violent offences. The finding of severe executive impairment in both childhood- and adolescent-onset groupings challenges the assumption that adolescent-onset antisocial behavior is a normative process.
Background: Associations between major depressive disorder (MDD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) have been established, and these associations increase risk of future morbidity and mortality. Prior research has been carried out in high-income countries. Here we examine associations between the mood and anxiety disorders, and CHD in a large cohort at baseline from Brazil, a country facing a variety of challenges that may affect these associations.
Methods: Participants included 15,105 civil servants aged 35 to 74 at baseline (2008–2010) from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). CHD (N = 721) included self-reported angina pectoris (n = 305), myocardial infarction (n = 259) and coronary revascularization (n = 239). Hierarchical logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate odds ratios and confidence intervals.
Results: Major findings indicate that comorbid MDD and anxiety disorders (n = 434) are associated with a threefold increase in CHD, MDD alone (n = 170) with a twofold increase in CHD, while generalized anxiety disorder alone (n = 1,394) and mixed anxiety and depression disorder (n = 1,844) – symptoms present, but diagnostic threshold not reached – are associated with a 1.5-fold increase in CHD, after full adjustment for covariates.
Conclusion: The association with CHD is greatest in those with psychiatric comorbidity, while associations were also observed in MDD and generalized anxiety disorder without comorbidity. While findings are limited by the cross-sectional design of the study, given the known risks associated with comorbidity of the mood and anxiety disorders with CHD, findings reinforce the importance of comprehensive health assessment in Brazil.
major depressive disorder; anxiety disorders; disorder comorbidity; coronary heart disease
Background: Recent studies have highlighted associations between use of antidepressant medications and coronary heart disease (CHD). Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) are not recommended in patients with CHD as they may increase morbidity and mortality. However, this class of antidepressants is freely prescribed in public health pharmacies, while access to other classes of antidepressants is restricted in Brazil. Here, we examine the associations between antidepressant use and prevalent CHD in a large cohort from Brazil.
Methods: Participants included 14,994 civil servants aged 35–74 years from the baseline assessment of the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). CHD (n = 710) included stable angina, myocardial infarction, and coronary revascularization. Univariate (unadjusted) and multivariate (adjusted) logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate odds ratios and confidence intervals.
Results: After full adjustment for covariates, TCA use (n = 156) was associated with a twofold increase in prevalent CHD, relative to non-use (n = 14,076). Additional sensitivity analysis revealed a threefold association for myocardial infarction (OR: 2.96, 95% CI: 1.41–6.21) and coronary revascularization (OR: 2.92, 95% CI: 1.28–6.66). There were no significant associations between antidepressant use and stable angina pectoris.
Conclusion: Findings highlight a strong association between TCA use and prevalent CHD. While the cross-sectional design is an important limitation of the present study, findings have important implications for the treatment of cardiac patients in Brazil.
tricyclic antidepressants; coronary heart disease; Brazil; cross-sectional design; clinical epidemiology; TCA; CHD
The fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG 5) established the goal of a 75% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR; number of maternal deaths per 100 000 livebirths) between 1990 and 2015. We aimed to measure levels and track trends in maternal mortality, the key causes contributing to maternal death, and timing of maternal death with respect to delivery.
We used robust statistical methods including the Cause of Death Ensemble model (CODEm) to analyse a database of data for 7065 site-years and estimate the number of maternal deaths from all causes in 188 countries between 1990 and 2013. We estimated the number of pregnancy-related deaths caused by HIV on the basis of a systematic review of the relative risk of dying during pregnancy for HIV-positive women compared with HIV-negative women. We also estimated the fraction of these deaths aggravated by pregnancy on the basis of a systematic review. To estimate the numbers of maternal deaths due to nine different causes, we identified 61 sources from a systematic review and 943 site-years of vital registration data. We also did a systematic review of reports about the timing of maternal death, identifying 142 sources to use in our analysis. We developed estimates for each country for 1990–2013 using Bayesian meta-regression. We estimated 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for all values.
292 982 (95% UI 261 017–327 792) maternal deaths occurred in 2013, compared with 376 034 (343 483–407 574) in 1990. The global annual rate of change in the MMR was −0·3% (−1·1 to 0·6) from 1990 to 2003, and −2·7% (−3·9 to −1·5) from 2003 to 2013, with evidence of continued acceleration. MMRs reduced consistently in south, east, and southeast Asia between 1990 and 2013, but maternal deaths increased in much of sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s. 2070 (1290–2866) maternal deaths were related to HIV in 2013, 0·4% (0·2–0·6) of the global total. MMR was highest in the oldest age groups in both 1990 and 2013. In 2013, most deaths occurred intrapartum or postpartum. Causes varied by region and between 1990 and 2013. We recorded substantial variation in the MMR by country in 2013, from 956·8 (685·1–1262·8) in South Sudan to 2·4 (1·6–3·6) in Iceland.
Global rates of change suggest that only 16 countries will achieve the MDG 5 target by 2015. Accelerated reductions since the Millennium Declaration in 2000 coincide with increased development assistance for maternal, newborn, and child health. Setting of targets and associated interventions for after 2015 will need careful consideration of regions that are making slow progress, such as west and central Africa.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with increased heart rate and reductions in its variability (heart rate variability, HRV) – markers of future morbidity and mortality – yet prior studies have reported contradictory effects. We hypothesized that increases in heart rate and reductions in HRV would be more robust in melancholia relative to controls, than in patients with non-melancholia.
Methods: A total of 72 patients with a primary diagnosis of MDD (age M: 36.26, SE: 1.34; 42 females) and 94 controls (age M: 35.69, SE: 1.16; 52 females) were included in this study. Heart rate and measures of its variability (HRV) were calculated from two 2-min electrocardiogram recordings during resting state. Propensity score matching controlled imbalance on potential confounds between patients with melancholia (n = 40) and non-melancholia (n = 32) including age, gender, disorder severity, and comorbid anxiety disorders.
Results: MDD patients with melancholia displayed significantly increased heart rate and lower resting-state HRV (including the square root of the mean squared differences between successive N–N intervals, the absolute power of high frequency and standard deviation of the Poincaré plot perpendicular to the line of identity measures of HRV) relative to controls, findings associated with a moderate effect size (Cohens d’s = 0.56–0.58). Patients with melancholia also displayed an increased heart rate relative to those with non-melancholia (Cohen’s d = 0.20).
Conclusion: MDD patients with melancholia – but not non-melancholia – display robust increases in heart rate and decreases in HRV. These findings may underpin a variety of behavioral impairments in patients with melancholia including somatic symptoms, cognitive impairment, reduced responsiveness to the environment, and over the longer-term, morbidity and mortality.
melancholia; non-melancholia; electrocardiogram; ECG; heart rate; heart rate variability; HRV; resting state
The Millennium Declaration in 2000 brought special global attention to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria through the formulation of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6. The Global Burden of Disease 2013 study provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to disease estimation for between 1990 and 2013, and an opportunity to assess whether accelerated progress has occurred since the Millennium Declaration.
To estimate incidence and mortality for HIV, we used the UNAIDS Spectrum model appropriately modified based on a systematic review of available studies of mortality with and without antiretroviral therapy (ART). For concentrated epidemics, we calibrated Spectrum models to fit vital registration data corrected for misclassification of HIV deaths. In generalised epidemics, we minimised a loss function to select epidemic curves most consistent with prevalence data and demographic data for all-cause mortality. We analysed counterfactual scenarios for HIV to assess years of life saved through prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and ART. For tuberculosis, we analysed vital registration and verbal autopsy data to estimate mortality using cause of death ensemble modelling. We analysed data for corrected case-notifications, expert opinions on the case-detection rate, prevalence surveys, and estimated cause-specific mortality using Bayesian meta-regression to generate consistent trends in all parameters. We analysed malaria mortality and incidence using an updated cause of death database, a systematic analysis of verbal autopsy validation studies for malaria, and recent studies (2010–13) of incidence, drug resistance, and coverage of insecticide-treated bednets.
Globally in 2013, there were 1·8 million new HIV infections (95% uncertainty interval 1·7 million to 2·1 million), 29·2 million prevalent HIV cases (28·1 to 31·7), and 1·3 million HIV deaths (1·3 to 1·5). At the peak of the epidemic in 2005, HIV caused 1·7 million deaths (1·6 million to 1·9 million). Concentrated epidemics in Latin America and eastern Europe are substantially smaller than previously estimated. Through interventions including PMTCT and ART, 19·1 million life-years (16·6 million to 21·5 million) have been saved, 70·3% (65·4 to 76·1) in developing countries. From 2000 to 2011, the ratio of development assistance for health for HIV to years of life saved through intervention was US$4498 in developing countries. Including in HIV-positive individuals, all-form tuberculosis incidence was 7·5 million (7·4 million to 7·7 million), prevalence was 11·9 million (11·6 million to 12·2 million), and number of deaths was 1·4 million (1·3 million to 1·5 million) in 2013. In the same year and in only individuals who were HIV-negative, all-form tuberculosis incidence was 7·1 million (6·9 million to 7·3 million), prevalence was 11·2 million (10·8 million to 11·6 million), and number of deaths was 1·3 million (1·2 million to 1·4 million). Annualised rates of change (ARC) for incidence, prevalence, and death became negative after 2000. Tuberculosis in HIV-negative individuals disproportionately occurs in men and boys (versus women and girls); 64·0% of cases (63·6 to 64·3) and 64·7% of deaths (60·8 to 70·3). Globally, malaria cases and deaths grew rapidly from 1990 reaching a peak of 232 million cases (143 million to 387 million) in 2003 and 1·2 million deaths (1·1 million to 1·4 million) in 2004. Since 2004, child deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have decreased by 31·5% (15·7 to 44·1). Outside of Africa, malaria mortality has been steadily decreasing since 1990.
Our estimates of the number of people living with HIV are 18·7% smaller than UNAIDS’s estimates in 2012. The number of people living with malaria is larger than estimated by WHO. The number of people living with HIV, tuberculosis, or malaria have all decreased since 2000. At the global level, upward trends for malaria and HIV deaths have been reversed and declines in tuberculosis deaths have accelerated. 101 countries (74 of which are developing) still have increasing HIV incidence. Substantial progress since the Millennium Declaration is an encouraging sign of the effect of global action.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
There has been a growing recognition of the importance of reward processing in PTSD, yet little is known of the underlying neural networks. This study tested the predictions that (1) individuals with PTSD would display reduced responses to happy facial expressions in ventral striatal reward networks, and (2) that this reduction would be associated with emotional numbing symptoms. 23 treatment-seeking patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder were recruited from the treatment clinic at the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, Westmead Hospital, and 20 trauma-exposed controls were recruited from a community sample. We examined functional magnetic resonance imaging responses during the presentation of happy and neutral facial expressions in a passive viewing task. PTSD participants rated happy facial expression as less intense than trauma-exposed controls. Relative to controls, PTSD participants revealed lower activation to happy (-neutral) faces in ventral striatum and and a trend for reduced activation in left amygdala. A significant negative correlation was found between emotional numbing symptoms in PTSD and right ventral striatal regions after controlling for depression, anxiety and PTSD severity. This study provides initial evidence that individuals with PTSD have lower reactivity to happy facial expressions, and that lower activation in ventral striatal-limbic reward networks may be associated with symptoms of emotional numbing.
Many studies have highlighted the potential of oxytocin (OT) to enhance facial affect recognition in healthy humans. However, inconsistencies have emerged with regard to the influence of OT on the recognition of specific emotional expressions (happy, angry, fear, surprise, disgust, and sadness). In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis of seven studies comprising 381 research participants (71 females) examining responses to the basic emotion types to assess whether OT enhances the recognition of emotion from human faces and whether this was influenced by the emotion expression and exposure time of the face. Results showed that intranasal OT administration enhances emotion recognition of faces overall, with a Hedges g effect size of 0.29. When analysis was restricted to facial expression types, significant effects of OT on recognition accuracy were specifically found for the recognition of happy and fear faces. We also found that effect sizes increased to moderate when exposure time of the photograph was restricted to early phase recognition (<300 ms) for happy and angry faces, or later phase recognition for fear faces (>300 ms). The results of the meta-analysis further suggest that OT has potential as a treatment to improve the recognition of emotion in faces, allowing individuals to improve their insight into the intentions, desires, and mental states of others.
behavioral science; emotion; neuroendocrinology; neuropeptides; psychopharmacology; emotion; oxytocin; perception; face; expression, peptide
Background: Anxiety disorders increase risk of future cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality, even after controlling for confounds including smoking, lifestyle, and socioeconomic status, and irrespective of a history of medical disorders. While impaired vagal function, indicated by reductions in heart rate variability (HRV), may be one mechanism linking anxiety disorders to CVD, prior studies have reported inconsistent findings highlighting the need for meta-analysis.
Method: Studies comparing resting-state HRV recordings in patients with an anxiety disorder as a primary diagnosis and healthy controls were considered for meta-analysis.
Results: Meta-analyses were based on 36 articles, including 2086 patients with an anxiety disorder and 2294 controls. Overall, anxiety disorders were characterized by lower HRV [high frequency (HF): Hedges’ g = −0.29. 95% CI: −0.41 to −0.17, p < 0.001; time domain: Hedges’ g = −0.45, 95% CI: −0.57 to −0.33, p < 0.001] than controls. Panic disorder (n = 447), post-traumatic stress disorder (n = 192), generalized anxiety disorder (n = 68), and social anxiety disorder (n = 90), but not obsessive–compulsive disorder (n = 40), displayed reductions in HF HRV relative to controls (all ps < 0.001).
Conclusion: Anxiety disorders are associated with reduced HRV, findings associated with a small-to-moderate effect size. Findings have important implications for future physical health and well-being of patients, highlighting a need for comprehensive cardiovascular risk reduction.
heart rate variability; anxiety; anxiety disorders; meta-analysis; treatment; cardiovascular disease
Acute neural effects of antidepressant medication on emotion processing biases may provide the foundation on which clinical outcomes are based. Along with effects on positive and negative stimuli, acute effects on neutral stimuli may also relate to anti-depressant efficacy, yet these effects are still to be investigated. The present study therefore examined the impact of a single dose of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor escitalopram (20 mg) on positive, negative and neutral stimuli using pharmaco-fMRI.
Within a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover design, healthy women completed 2 sessions of treatment administration and fMRI scanning separated by a 1-week washout period.
We enrolled 36 women in our study. When participants were administered escitalopram relative to placebo, left amygdala activity was increased and right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) activity was decreased during presentation of positive pictures (potentiation of positive emotion processing). In contrast, escitalopram was associated with decreased left amygdala and increased right IFG activity during presentation of negative pictures (attenuation of negative emotion processing). In addition, escitalopram decreased right IFG activity during the processing of neutral stimuli, akin to the effects on positive stimuli (decrease in negative appraisal).
Although we used a women-only sample to reduce heterogeneity, our results may not generalize to men. Potential unblinding, which was related to the subjective occurrence of side effects, occurred in the study; however, manipulation check analyses demonstrated that results were not impacted.
These novel findings demonstrate that a single dose of the commonly prescribed escitalopram facilitates a positive information processing bias. These findings provide an important lead for better understanding effects of antidepressant medication.
The pattern of development of allergen-specific T cell cytokine responses in early childhood and their relation to later disease is poorly understood. Here we describe longitudinal changes in allergen-stimulated T cell cytokine responses and their relation to asthma and allergic disease during the first 8 years of life.
Subjects with a family history of asthma, who were enrolled antenatally in the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study (public trials registration number ACTRN12605000042640), had skin prick tests, clinical evaluation for asthma and eczema, and in vitro assessment of T cell cytokine responses to HDM extract performed at ages 18 months (n = 281), 3 years (n = 349), 5 years (n = 370) and 8 years (n = 275). We measured interleukin (IL-) 13 at 3, 5 and 8 years, and IL-5, IL-10, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), at 18 months, 3, 5 and 8 years by ELISA. A cohort analysis was undertaken. Independent effects of cytokine responses at each age on the risk of asthma and allergic outcomes at age 8 years were estimated by multivariable logistic regression.
HDM-specific IL-5 responses increased with age. HDM-specific IL-13 and IL-10 responses peaked at age 5 years. HDM-specific IL-5 responses at 3 years, 5 years and 8 years were significantly associated with the presence of asthma and atopy at 8 years. IL-13 responses at 3 years, 5 years and 8 years were significantly associated with atopy at 8 years, but this association was not independent of the effect of IL-5. Other HDM-specific cytokine responses were not independently related to asthma or eczema at 8 years.
HDM-specific IL-5 responses at age 3 years or later are the best measure of T cell function for predicting asthma at age 8 years.
Active anxiety disorders have lasting detrimental effects on pregnant mothers and their offspring but it is unknown if historical, non-active, maternal anxiety disorders have similar effects. Anxiety-related conditions, such as reduced autonomic cardiac control, indicated by reduced heart rate variability (HRV) could persist despite disorder resolution, with long-term health implications for mothers and children. The objective in this study is to test the hypotheses that pregnant mothers with a history of, but not current anxiety and their children have low HRV, predicting anxiety-like offspring temperaments.
The participants in this case-control study consist of 56 women during their first trimester and their offspring (15 male, 29 female). Women had a history of an anxiety disorder (n=22) or no psychopathology (n=34) determined using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. The main outcome measures were indices of autonomic cardiac control including root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) and high frequency (HF) variability. Children’s fearfulness was also assessed using the Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery (Lab-TAB)-Locomotor Version.
HRV was lower in women and children in the past anxiety group compared to controls. HRV measures for mothers and children were positively correlated in the anxiety group only. In all children, low HRV measures at 2-4 months were associated with a higher chance of fearful behavior at 9-10 months.
Pregnant women with previous but not current anxiety and their children have low HRV. Children with low HRV tend to show more fearfulness. These findings have implications for identifying children at risk of anxiety disorders and point to possible underlying mechanisms of child psychopathology.
Recent concerns over the impact of antidepressant medications, including the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), on cardiovascular function highlight the importance of research on the moderating effects of specific lifestyle factors such as physical activity. Studies in affective neuroscience have demonstrated robust acute effects of SSRIs, yet the impact of SSRIs on cardiovascular stress responses and the moderating effects of physical activity remain to be determined. This was the goal of the present study, which involved a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial of a single-dose of escitalopram (20 mg) in 44 healthy females; outcomes were heart rate (HR) and its variability. Participants engaging in at least 30 min of vigorous physical activity at least 3 times per week (regular exercisers) showed a more resilient cardiovascular stress response than irregular vigorous exercisers, a finding associated with a moderate effect size (Cohen's d = 0.48). Escitalopram attenuated the cardiovascular stress response in irregular exercisers only (HR decreased: Cohen's d = 0.80; HR variability increased: Cohen's d = 0.33). HR during stress under escitalopram in the irregular exercisers was similar to that during stress under placebo in regular exercisers. These findings highlight that the effects of regular vigorous exercise during stress are comparable to the effects of an acute dose of escitalopram, highlighting the beneficial effects of this particular antidepressant in irregular exercisers. Given that antidepressant drugs alone do not seem to protect patients from cardiovascular disease (CVD), longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate the impact of exercise on cardiovascular stress responses in patients receiving long-term antidepressant treatment.
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); escitalopram; exercise; physical activity; cardiovascular stress response; heart rate; heart rate variability; HRV
Polyvagal theory emphasizes that autonomic nervous system functioning plays a key role in social behavior and emotion. The theory predicts that psychiatric disorders of social dysfunction are associated with reduced heart rate variability, an index of autonomic control, as well as social inhibition and avoidance. The purpose of this study was to examine whether heart rate variability was reduced in treatment-seeking patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, a disorder characterized by social fear and avoidance.
Social anxiety patients (n = 53) were recruited prior to receiving psychological therapy. Healthy volunteers were recruited through the University of Sydney and the general community and were matched by gender and age (n = 53). Heart rate variability was assessed during a five-minute recording at rest, with participants completing a range of self-report clinical symptom measures.
Compared to controls, participants with social anxiety exhibited significant reductions across a number of heart rate variability measures. Reductions in heart rate variability were observed in females with social anxiety, compared to female controls, and in patients taking psychotropic medication compared to non-medicated patients. Finally, within the clinical group, we observed significant associations between reduced heart rate variability and increased social interaction anxiety, psychological distress, and harmful alcohol use.
The results of this study confirm that social anxiety disorder is associated with reduced heart rate variability. Resting state heart rate variability may therefore be considered a marker for social approach-related motivation and capacity for social engagement. Additionally, heart rate variability may provide a useful biomarker to explain underlying difficulties with social approach, impaired stress regulation, and behavioral inhibition, especially in disorders associated with significant impairments in these domains.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly recognized as the pharmacological treatment of choice for patients with depressive disorders, yet their use in adolescent populations has come under scrutiny following reports of minimal efficacy and an increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior in this age group. The biological mechanisms underlying these effects are largely unknown. Accordingly, the current study examined changes in hippocampal protein expression following chronic administration of paroxetine in drinking water (target dose = 10 mg/kg for 22 days) to adult and adolescent rats. Results indicated age-specific changes in protein expression, with paroxetine significantly altering expression of 8 proteins in adolescents only and 10 proteins solely in adults. A further 12 proteins were significantly altered in both adolescents and adults. In adults, protein changes were generally suggestive of a neurotrophic and neuroprotective effect of paroxetine, with significant downregulation of apoptotic proteins Galectin 7 and Cathepsin B, and upregulation of the neurotrophic factor Neurogenin 1 and the antioxidant proteins Aldose reductase and Carbonyl reductase 3. Phosphodiesterase 10A, a signaling protein associated with major depressive disorder, was also downregulated (-6.5-fold) in adult rats. Adolescent rats failed to show the neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects observed in adults, instead displaying upregulation of the proapoptotic protein BH3-interacting domain death agonist (4.3-fold). Adolescent protein expression profiles also suggested impaired phosphoinositide signaling (Protein kinase C: -3.1-fold) and altered neurotransmitter transport and release (Syntaxin 7: 5.7-fold; Dynamin 1: -6.9-fold). The results of the present study provide clues as to possible mechanisms underlying the atypical response of human adolescents to paroxetine treatment.
antidepressant; paroxetine; proteomics; adolescent; hippocampus; rat
Cumulative evidence over the last decade indicates that intranasally administered oxytocin (OT) has a major impact on social behavior and cognition. In parallel, researchers have also highlighted the effects of OT on cardiovascular (CV) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation. Taken at face value, these two streams of research appear largely unrelated. However, another line of evidence highlights a key role for autonomic cardiac control in social behavior and cognition. In this review, we suggest that autonomic cardiac control may moderate the relationship between OT and social behavior. We also highlight the importance of autonomic cardiac control in psychiatric disorders of social dysfunction and suggest that heart rate variability (HRV)—an index of autonomic cardiac control—may play a key role in patient response in treatment trials of OT.
oxytocin; autonomic nervous system; heart rate variability; social cognition; social behavior
An epistatic interaction of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met polymorphisms has been implicated in the structure of rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) and amygdala (AMY): key regions associated with emotion processing. However, a functional epistasis of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met on overt emotion processing has yet to be determined. Twenty-eight healthy, Caucasian female participants provided saliva samples for genotyping and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during which an emotion processing protocol were presented. Confirming the validity of this protocol, we observed blood oxygen level–dependent (BOLD) activity consistent with fMRI meta-analyses on emotion processing. Region-of-interest analysis of the rACC and AMY revealed main effects of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met, and an interaction of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met. The effect of the BDNF Met66 allele was dependent on 5-HTTLPR alleles, such that participants with S and Met alleles had the greatest rACC and AMY activation during the presentation of emotional images relative to other genetic groupings. Increased activity in these regions was interpreted as increased reactivity to emotional stimuli, suggesting that those with S and Met alleles are more reactive to emotional stimuli relative to other groups. Although limited by a small sample, this study contributes novel and preliminary findings relating to a functional epistasis of the 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met genes in emotion processing and provides guidance on appropriate methods to determine genetic epistasis in fMRI.
5-HTTLPR; BDNF Val66Met; emotion processing; epistasis; fMRI; healthy subjects
Musical performance is a skilled activity performed under intense pressure, thus is often a profound source of anxiety. In other contexts, anxiety and its concomitant symptoms of sympathetic nervous system arousal have been successfully ameliorated with HRV biofeedback (HRV BF), a technique involving slow breathing which augments autonomic and emotional regulatory capacity. Objective: This randomised-controlled study explored the impact of a single 30-minute session of HRV BF on anxiety in response to a highly stressful music performance.
A total of 46 trained musicians participated in this study and were randomly allocated to a slow breathing with or without biofeedback or no-treatment control group. A 3 Group×2 Time mixed experimental design was employed to compare the effect of group before and after intervention on performance anxiety (STAI-S) and frequency domain measures of HRV.
Slow breathing groups (n = 30) showed significantly greater improvements in high frequency (HF) and LF/HF ratio measures of HRV relative to control (n = 15) during 5 minute recordings of performance anticipation following the intervention (effect size: η2 = 0.122 and η2 = 0.116, respectively). The addition of biofeedback to a slow breathing protocol did not produce differential results. While intervention groups did not exhibit an overall reduction in self-reported anxiety, participants with high baseline anxiety who received the intervention (n = 15) displayed greater reductions in self-reported state anxiety relative to those in the control condition (n = 7) (r = 0.379).
These findings indicate that a single session of slow breathing, regardless of biofeedback, is sufficient for controlling physiological arousal in anticipation of psychosocial stress associated with music performance and that slow breathing is particularly helpful for musicians with high levels of anxiety. Future research is needed to further examine the effects of HRV BF as a low-cost, non-pharmacological treatment for music performance anxiety.
Oxytocin (OT) plays a key regulatory role in human social behaviour. While prior studies have examined the effects of OT on observable social behaviours, studies have seldom examined the effects of OT on psychophysiological markers such as heart rate variability (HRV), which provides an index of individual’s motivation for social behaviour. Furthermore, no studies have examined the impact of OT on HRV under resting conditions, which provides an index of maximal capacity for social engagement.
To examine the effects of OT on HRV measures in healthy male participants while at rest. OT was hypothesised to increase HRV, compared to placebo, and that the effects would be greatest for a non-linear measure of HRV (the detrended fluctuation scaling exponent).
Twenty-one male participants were recruited for this study. Participants were non-smokers, not on any medications and reported no history of psychiatric illness, neurological disorder, or any other serious medical condition (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease). The study employed a randomised, placebo-controlled, within-subject, crossover, experimental design.
Main Outcome Measures
HRV was calculated from electrocardiography under a standardized, 10-minute, resting state condition.
As hypothesised, OT increased HRV and these effects were largest using the detrended fluctuation scaling exponent, a non-linear measure. These changes were observed in the absence of any change in state mood, as measured by the profile of mood states. Importantly, participants were unable to correctly guess which treatment they had been assigned at either of the two assessments.
Together with the broader literature on OT and HRV, findings suggest that acute administration of OT may facilitate a fundamental psychophysiological feature of social behaviour, increasing capacity for social engagement. Findings also suggest that HRV changes may provide a novel biomarker of response to OT nasal spray that can be incorporated into research on response to treatment.
To examine possible determinants of autoantibody levels at type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) onset.
We assessed levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 islet cell antigen (GADA) and anti-insulin antibodies (IAA) in 247 incident T1DM cases presenting <15 years of age in Melbourne from 1st March 2008 to 30th June 2010.
58.9% (142/241) of cases were GADA seropositive and 42.3% (94/222) were IAA seropositive. Factors associated with elevated IAA antibodies included younger age and red hair phenotype. Factors associated with elevated GAD antibodies included lower birthweight and recent eczema. Intriguingly, low recent or past sun exposure was only associated with elevated GADA levels among children presenting at age <5 years, not older (difference in effect, p<0.05 for 4 of 5 associations).
These findings show that environmental and phenotypic factors are associated with autoantibody levels at time of presentation for T1DM. We recommend such environmental and phenoytypic factors should be examined in further detail.
Peadiatric; Type 1 diabetes; Autoantibodies; Phenotype; Environment
There is evidence that heart rate variability (HRV) is reduced in major depressive disorder (MDD), although there is debate about whether this effect is caused by medication or the disorder per se. MDD is associated with a two to fourfold increase in the risk of cardiac mortality, and HRV is a robust predictor of cardiac mortality; determining a direct link between HRV and not only MDD, but common comorbid anxiety disorders, will point to psychiatric indicators for cardiovascular risk reduction.
To determine in physically healthy, unmedicated patients whether (1) HRV is reduced in MDD relative to controls, and (2) HRV reductions are driven by MDD alone, comorbid generalized anxiety disorder (GAD, characterized by anxious anticipation), or comorbid panic and posttraumatic stress disorders (PD/PTSD, characterized by anxious arousal).
Design, Setting, and Patients
A case-control study in 2006 and 2007 on 73 MDD patients, including 24 without anxiety comorbidity, 24 with GAD, and 14 with PD/PTSD. Seventy-three MDD and 94 healthy age- and sex-matched control participants were recruited from the general community. Participants had no history of drug addiction, alcoholism, brain injury, loss of consciousness, stroke, neurological disorder, or serious medical conditions. There were no significant differences between the four groups in age, gender, BMI, or alcohol use.
Main Outcome Measures
HRV was calculated from electrocardiography under a standardized short-term resting state condition.
HRV was reduced in MDD relative to controls, an effect associated with a medium effect size. MDD participants with comorbid generalized anxiety disorder displayed the greatest reductions in HRV relative to controls, an effect associated with a large effect size.
Unmedicated, physically healthy MDD patients with and without comorbid anxiety had reduced HRV. Those with comorbid GAD showed the greatest reductions. Implications for cardiovascular risk reduction strategies in otherwise healthy patients with psychiatric illness are discussed.
Evidence supports a trial period of eliminating colourings and preservatives from the diet
Observational studies report inverse associations between the use of feather upper bedding (pillow and/or quilt) and asthma symptoms but there is no randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence assessing the role of feather upper bedding as a secondary prevention measure.
To determine whether, among children not using feather upper bedding, a new feather pillow and feather quilt reduces asthma severity among house dust mite (HDM) sensitised children with asthma over a 1-year period compared with standard dust mite avoidance advice, and giving children a new mite-occlusive mattress cover.
The Calvary Hospital in the Australian Capital Territory and the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales.
197 children with HDM sensitisation and moderate to severe asthma.
New upper bedding duck feather pillow and quilt and a mite-occlusive mattress cover (feather) versus standard care and a mite-occlusive mattress cover (standard).
Main outcome measures
The proportion of children reporting four or more episodes of wheeze in the past year; an episode of speech-limiting wheeze; or one or more episodes of sleep disturbance caused by wheezing; and spirometry with challenge testing. Statistical analysis included multiple logistic and linear regression.
No differences between groups were found for primary end points – frequent wheeze (OR 1.51, 95% CI 0.83 to 2.76, p=0.17), speech-limiting wheeze (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.32 to 1.48, p=0.35), sleep disturbed because of wheezing (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.64 to 2.13, p=0.61) or for any secondary end points. Secondary analyses indicated the intervention reduced the risk of sleep being disturbed because of wheezing and severe wheeze to a greater extent for children who slept supine.
No differences in respiratory symptoms or lung function were observed 1 year after children with moderate–severe asthma and HDM sensitisation were given a mite-occlusive mattress cover and then received either feather upper bedding (pillow and quilt) or standard bedding care.
To examine information needs and preferences of parents regarding food allergy.
Qualitative study including in‐depth semi‐structured interviews and focus group discussions. Data were audio‐recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using the constant comparative method, aided by participant checking of interview summaries, independent reviewers and qualitative analysis software.
84 parents of children with food allergy.
Three paediatric allergy clinics and a national consumer organisation.
Most parent participants had received third level education (72%) and 39% had occupational backgrounds in health and education. Parents experienced different phases in their need for information: at diagnosis when there is an intense desire for information, at follow‐up when there is continuing uncertainty about allergy severity and appropriate management, and at new events and milestones. They preferred information to be provided in a variety of formats, with access to reliable individualised advice between clinic appointments, within the context of an ongoing relationship with a health professional. Parents wished to know the reasoning behind doctor's opinions and identified areas of core information content, including unaddressed topics such as what to feed their child rather than what to avoid. Suboptimal information provision was cited by parents as a key reason for seeking second opinions.
Parents with children with food allergies have unmet information needs. Study findings may assist in the design and implementation of targeted educational strategies which better meet parental needs and preferences.
food allergy; parent; child; patient education; information needs