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1.  Determinants of Follow-Up Participation in the Internet-Based European Influenza Surveillance Platform Influenzanet 
“Influenzanet” is a network of Internet-based platforms aimed at collecting real-time data for influenza surveillance in several European countries. More than 30,000 European volunteers participate every year in the study, representing one of the largest existing Internet-based multicenter cohorts. Each week during the influenza season, participants are asked to report their symptoms (if any) along with a set of additional questions.
Focusing on the first influenza season of 2011-12, when the Influenzanet system was completely harmonized within a common framework in Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, and Portugal, we investigated the propensity of users to regularly come back to the platform to provide information about their health status. Our purpose was to investigate demographic and behavioral factors associated with participation in follow-up.
By means of a multilevel analysis, we evaluated the association between regular participation during the season and sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics as measured by a background questionnaire completed by participants on registration.
We found that lower participation in follow-up was associated with lower educational status (odds ratio [OR] 0.80, 95% CI 0.75-0.85), smoking (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.59-0.70), younger age (OR ranging from 0.30, 95% CI 0.26-0.33 to 0.70, 95% CI 0.64-0.77), not being vaccinated against seasonal influenza (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.72-0.84), and living in a household with children (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.65-0.74). Most of these results hold when single countries are analyzed separately.
Given the opportunistic enrollment of self-selected volunteers in the Influenzanet study, we have investigated how sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics may be associated with follow-up participation in the Influenzanet cohort. The study described in this paper shows that, overall, the most important determinants of participation are related to education and lifestyle: smoking, lower education level, younger age, people living with children, and people who have not been vaccinated against seasonal influenza tend to have a lower participation in follow-up. Despite the cross-country variation, the main findings are similar in the different national cohorts, and indeed the results are found to be valid also when performing a single-country analysis. Differences between countries do not seem to play a crucial role in determining the factors associated with participation in follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3967126  PMID: 24613818
participatory surveillance; Internet; influenza
2.  Side Effects of Being Blue: Influence of Sad Mood on Visual Statistical Learning 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59832.
It is well established that mood influences many cognitive processes, such as learning and executive functions. Although statistical learning is assumed to be part of our daily life, as mood does, the influence of mood on statistical learning has never been investigated before. In the present study, a sad vs. neutral mood was induced to the participants through the listening of stories while they were exposed to a stream of visual shapes made up of the repeated presentation of four triplets, namely sequences of three shapes presented in a fixed order. Given that the inter-stimulus interval was held constant within and between triplets, the only cues available for triplet segmentation were the transitional probabilities between shapes. Direct and indirect measures of learning taken either immediately or 20 minutes after the exposure/mood induction phase revealed that participants learned the statistical regularities between shapes. Interestingly, although participants from the sad and neutral groups performed similarly in these tasks, subjective measures (confidence judgments taken after each trial) revealed that participants who experienced the sad mood induction showed increased conscious access to their statistical knowledge. These effects were not modulated by the time delay between the exposure/mood induction and the test phases. These results are discussed within the scope of the robustness principle and the influence of negative affects on processing style.
PMCID: PMC3608531  PMID: 23555797
3.  Analysis of isotype-specific antibody responses to bovine herpesviruses 1.1 and 1.2a allows to estimate the stage of infection 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2012;43(2):586-593.
Specific IgM, IgA, IgG1, IgG2, as well as neutralizing antibody responses were evaluated in sera of calves experimentally infected with two isolates of bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BoHV1) of distinct subtypes (subtype 1, BoHV1.1; subtype 2a, BoHV-1.2a). No significant differences were observed in the antibody responses induced by each BoHV-1 subtype. The antibody responses following primary acute infection were characterized by an increase in specific IgM and IgA levels between days 2 and 14 post inoculation (pi). IgG1 was detected from days 11 to 30 pi. IgG2 was detected on the sample taken on day 30 pi. Reactivation of infection following dexamethasone administration induced a significant rise in IgA levels, whereas IgG1 and IgG2 levels, which were at high levels from the beginning of the reactivation process, showed a slight alteration after corticosteroid treatment. These results suggest that it is possible to estimate the dynamics of BoHV-1 infections with basis on the analysis of class- and subclass-specific antibody responses. Such information may be particularly useful for the study of the kinetics of the infection in a herd and to aid in the adoption of appropriate control measures..
PMCID: PMC3768835  PMID: 24031868
bovine herpesvirus type 1; infectious bovine rhinotracheitis; immunoglobulin subclasses; ELISA
4.  Facilitation of AMPA Receptor Synaptic Delivery as a Molecular Mechanism for Cognitive Enhancement 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(2):e1001262.
A small peptide from a neuronal cell adhesion molecule enhances synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus and results in improved cognitive performance in rats.
Cell adhesion molecules and downstream growth factor-dependent signaling are critical for brain development and synaptic plasticity, and they have been linked to cognitive function in adult animals. We have previously developed a mimetic peptide (FGL) from the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) that enhances spatial learning and memory in rats. We have now investigated the cellular and molecular basis of this cognitive enhancement, using biochemical, morphological, electrophysiological, and behavioral analyses. We have found that FGL triggers a long-lasting enhancement of synaptic transmission in hippocampal CA1 neurons. This effect is mediated by a facilitated synaptic delivery of AMPA receptors, which is accompanied by enhanced NMDA receptor-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP). Both LTP and cognitive enhancement are mediated by an initial PKC activation, which is followed by persistent CaMKII activation. These results provide a mechanistic link between facilitation of AMPA receptor synaptic delivery and improved hippocampal-dependent learning, induced by a pharmacological cognitive enhancer.
Author Summary
The human brain contains trillions of neuronal connections, called synapses, whose pattern of activity controls all our cognitive functions. These synaptic connections are dynamic and constantly changing in their strength and properties, and this process of synaptic plasticity is essential for learning and memory. Alterations in synaptic plasticity mechanisms are thought to be responsible for multiple cognitive deficits, such as autism, Alzheimer's disease, and several forms of mental retardation. In this study, we show that synapses can be made more plastic using a small protein fragment (peptide) derived from a neuronal protein involved in cell-to-cell communication. This peptide (FGL) initiates a cascade of events inside the neuron that results in the facilitation of synaptic plasticity. Specifically, we find that FGL triggers delivery of a specific type of glutamate receptor (AMPA receptors) to synapses in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is known to be involved in multiple forms of learning and memory. Importantly, when this peptide was administered to rats, their ability to learn and retain spatial information was enhanced. Therefore, this work demonstrates that cognitive function can be improved pharmacologically in adult animals by enhancing the plasticity of synaptic connections in the brain.
PMCID: PMC3283560  PMID: 22363206
5.  PTTG1/securin modulates microtubule nucleation and cell migration 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(22):4302-4311.
PTTG1 is associated with the cis face of the Golgi apparatus and the centrosome, forming a complex with proteins involved in microtubule nucleation. PTTG1 depletion produces a delay in centrosomal and noncentrosomal microtubule nucleation and causes defects in both cell polarization and migration.
Pituitary tumor transforming gene 1 (PTTG1), also known as securin, has been implicated in many biological functions, including inhibition of sister chromatid separation, DNA repair, organ development, and regulation of the expression and secretion of angiogenic and metastatic factors. Although most of these functions of securin seem to depend on the localization of PTTG1 in the nucleus of the cell, a fraction of the protein has been also detected in the cytoplasm. Here we demonstrate that, in different cell types, a portion of cytoplasmic PTTG1 is associated with the cis face of the Golgi apparatus and that this localization depends on PTTG1 phosphorylation status. In this organelle, PTTG1 forms a complex with proteins involved in microtubule nucleation, including GM130, AKAP450, and γ-tubulin. RNA interference–mediated depletion of PTTG1 produces a delay in centrosomal and noncentrosomal microtubule nucleation. Cells lacking PTTG1 show severe defects in both cell polarization and migration in wound-healing assays. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the role of PTTG1 in microtubule nucleation and cell polarization, two processes directly involved in cell migration. We believe that these findings will contribute to understanding the mechanisms underlying PTTG1-mediated biological functions.
PMCID: PMC3216656  PMID: 21937724
6.  Chunking or not chunking? How do we find words in artificial language learning? 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2012;8(2):144-154.
What is the nature of the representations acquired in implicit statistical learning? Recent results in the field of language learning have shown that adults and infants are able to find the words of an artificial language when exposed to a continuous auditory sequence consisting in a random ordering of these words. Such performance can only be based on processing the transitional probabilities between sequence elements. Two different kinds of mechanisms may account for these data: Participants may either parse the sequence into smaller chunks corresponding to the words of the artificial language, or they may become progressively sensitive to the actual values of the transitional probabilities between syllables. The two accounts are difficult to differentiate because they make similar predictions in comparable experimental settings. In this study, we present two experiments that aimed at contrasting these two theories. In these experiments, participants had to learn 2 sets of pseudo-linguistic regularities: Language 1 (L1) and Language 2 (L2) presented in the context of a serial reaction time task. L1 and L2 were either unrelated (none of the syllabic transitions of L1 were present in L2), or partly related (some of the intra-words transitions of L1 were used as inter-words transitions of L2). The two accounts make opposite predictions in these two settings. Our results indicate that the nature of the representations depends on the learning condition. When cues were presented to facilitate parsing of the sequence, participants learned the words of the artificial language. However, when no cues were provided, performance was strongly influenced by the employed transitional probabilities.
PMCID: PMC3376887  PMID: 22723813
implicit statistical learning; transitional probabilities; chunking; serial reaction; time task
7.  Statistical Learning of Two Artificial Languages Presented Successively: How Conscious? 
Statistical learning is assumed to occur automatically and implicitly, but little is known about the extent to which the representations acquired over training are available to conscious awareness. In this study, we focus on whether the knowledge acquired in a statistical learning situation is available to conscious control. Participants were first exposed to an artificial language presented auditorily. Immediately thereafter, they were exposed to a second artificial language. Both languages were composed of the same corpus of syllables and differed only in the transitional probabilities. We first determined that both languages were equally learnable (Experiment 1) and that participants could learn the two languages and differentiate between them (Experiment 2). Then, in Experiment 3, we used an adaptation of the Process-Dissociation Procedure (Jacoby, 1991) to explore whether participants could consciously manipulate the acquired knowledge. Results suggest that statistical information can be used to parse and differentiate between two different artificial languages, and that the resulting representations are available to conscious control.
PMCID: PMC3177082  PMID: 21960981
statistical learning; process-dissociation procedure; implicit learning; consciousness
8.  Torque Teno Sus Virus (TTSuV) in Cell Cultures and Trypsin 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17501.
Torque teno sus virus (TTSuV), a member of the family Anelloviridae, is a single-stranded, circular DNA virus, widely distributed in swine populations. Presently, two TTSuV genogroups are recognized: Torque teno sus virus 1 (TTSuV1) and Torque teno sus virus 2 (TTSuV2). TTSuV genomes have been found in commercial vaccines for swine, enzyme preparations and other drugs containing components of porcine origin. However, no studies have been made looking for TTSuV in cell cultures. In the present study, a search for TTSuV genomes was carried out in cell culture lineages, in sera used as supplement for cell culture media as well as in trypsin used for cell disaggregation. DNA obtained from twenty-five cell lineages (ten from cultures in routine multiplication and fifteen from frozen ampoules), nine samples of sera used in cell culture media and five batches of trypsin were examined for the presence of TTSuV DNA. Fifteen cell lineages, originated from thirteen different species contained amplifiable TTSuV genomes, including an ampoule with a cell lineage frozen in 1985. Three cell lineages of swine origin were co-infected with both TTSuV1 and TTSuV2. One batch of trypsin contained two distinct TTSuV1 plus one TTSuV2 genome, suggesting that this might have been the source of contamination, as supported by phylogenetic analyses of sequenced amplicons. Samples of fetal bovine and calf sera used in cell culture media did not contain amplifiable TTSuV DNA. This is the first report on the presence of TTSuV as contaminants in cell lineages. In addition, detection of the viral genome in an ampoule frozen in 1985 provides evidence that TTSuV contamination is not a recent event. These findings highlight the risks of TTSuV contamination in cell cultures, what may be source for contamination of biological products or compromise results of studies involving in vitro multiplied cells.
PMCID: PMC3047579  PMID: 21407810
9.  Induction of Dlk1 by PTTG1 Inhibits Adipocyte Differentiation and Correlates with Malignant Transformation 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(14):3353-3362.
Pituitary tumor-transforming gene-1 (PTTG1) is an oncogene highly expressed in a variety of endocrine, as well as nonendocrine-related cancers. Several tumorigenic mechanisms for PTTG1 have been proposed, one of the best characterized being its capacity to act as a transcriptional activator. To identify novel downstream target genes, we have established cell lines with inducible expression of PTTG1 and a differential display approach to analyze gene expression changes after PTTG1 induction. We identified dlk1 (also known as pref-1) as one of the most abundantly expressed PTTG1 targets. Dlk1 is known to participate in several differentiation processes, including adipogenesis, adrenal gland development, and wound healing. Dlk1 is also highly expressed in neuroendocrine tumors. Here, we show that PTTG1 overexpression inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells and that this effect is accomplished by promoting the stability and accumulation of Dlk1 mRNA, supporting a role for PTTG1 in posttranscriptional regulation. Moreover, both pttg1 and dlk1 genes show concomitant expression in fetal liver and placenta, as well as in pituitary adenomas, breast adenocarcinomas, and neuroblastomas, suggesting that PTTG1 and DLK1 are involved in cell differentiation and transformation.
PMCID: PMC2710844  PMID: 19477929
10.  The reinfection threshold promotes variability in tuberculosis epidemiology and vaccine efficacy. 
Population patterns of infection are determined largely by susceptibility to infection. Infection and vaccination induce an immune response that, typically, reduces susceptibility to subsequent infections. With a general epidemic model, we detect a 'reinfection threshold', above which reinfection is the principal type of transmission and, consequently, infection levels are much higher and vaccination fails. The model is further developed to address human tuberculosis (TB) and the impact of vaccination. The bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is the only vaccine in current use against TB, and there is no consensus about its usefulness. Estimates of protection range from 0 to 80%, and this variability is aggravated by an association between low vaccine efficacy and high prevalence of the disease. We propose an explanation based on three postulates: (i) the potential for transmission varies between populations, owing to differences in socio-economic and environmental factors; (ii) exposure to mycobacteria induces an immune response that is partially protective against reinfection; and (iii) this protection is not significantly improved by BCG vaccination. These postulates combine to reproduce the observed trends, and this is attributed to a reinfection threshold intrinsic to the transmission dynamics. Finally, we demonstrate how reinfection thresholds can be manipulated by vaccination programmes, suggesting that they have a potentially powerful role in global control.
PMCID: PMC1691632  PMID: 15156920

Results 1-10 (10)