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1.  Colorless Chlorophyll Catabolites in Senescent Florets of Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) 
Typical postharvest storage of broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) causes degreening of this common vegetable with visible loss of chlorophyll (Chl). As shown here, colorless Chl-catabolites are generated. In fresh extracts of degreening florets of broccoli, three colorless tetrapyrrolic Chl-catabolites accumulated and were detected by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC): two “nonfluorescent” Chl-catabolites (NCCs), provisionally named Bo-NCC-1 and Bo-NCC-2, and a colorless 1,19-dioxobilin-type “nonfluorescent” Chl-catabolite (DNCC), named Bo-DNCC. Analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry of these three linear tetrapyrroles revealed their structures. In combination with a comparison of their HPL-chromatographic properties, this allowed their identification with three known catabolites from two other brassicacea, namely two NCCs from oil seed rape (Brassica napus) and a DNCC from degreened leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana.
PMCID: PMC4329831  PMID: 25620234
broccoli; chlorophyll catabolites; structure elucidation; natural product; nutrition; vegetable
2.  The Longitudinal Course of Gross Motor Activity in Schizophrenia – Within and between Episodes 
Schizophrenia is associated with heterogeneous course of positive and negative symptoms. In addition, reduced motor activity as measured by wrist actigraphy has been reported. However, longitudinal studies of spontaneous motor activity are missing. We aimed to explore whether activity levels were stable within and between psychotic episodes. Furthermore, we investigated the association with the course of negative symptoms. In 45 medicated patients, we investigated motor behavior within a psychotic episode. In addition, we followed 18 medicated patients across 2 episodes. Wrist actigraphy and psychopathological ratings were applied. Within an episode symptoms changed but activity levels did not vary systematically. Activity at baseline predicted the course of negative symptoms. Between two episodes activity recordings were much more stable. Again, activity at the index episode predicted the outcome of negative symptoms. In sum, spontaneous motor activity shares trait and state characteristics, the latter are associated with negative symptom course. Actigraphy may therefore become an important ambulatory instrument to monitor negative symptoms and treatment outcome in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC4318415
actigraphy; psychosis; negative symptoms; PANSS; avolition
3.  Physical Activity in Schizophrenia is Higher in the First Episode than in Subsequent Ones 
Schizophrenia is frequently associated with abnormal motor behavior, particularly hypokinesia. The course of the illness tends to deteriorate in the first years. We aimed to assess gross motor activity in patients with a first episode (n = 33) and multiple episodes (n = 115) of schizophrenia spectrum disorders using wrist actigraphy. First episode patients were younger, had higher motor activity and reduced negative symptom severity. Covarying for age, chlorpromazine equivalents, and negative symptoms, first episode patients still had higher motor activity. This was also true after excluding patients with schizophreniform disorder from the analyses. In first episode patients, but not in patients with multiple episodes, motor activity was correlated with antipsychotic dosage. In conclusion, after controlling for variables related to disorder chronicity, patients with first episodes were still more active than patients with multiple episodes. Thus, reduced motor activity is a marker of deterioration in the course of schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
PMCID: PMC4283447  PMID: 25601842
actigraphy; antipsychotic; negative symptoms; hypokinesia; psychosis
4.  Technical Complications during Veno-Venous Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation and Their Relevance Predicting a System-Exchange – Retrospective Analysis of 265 Cases 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e112316.
Technical complications are a known hazard in veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (vvECMO). Identifying these complications and predictive factors indicating a developing system-exchange was the goal of the study.
Retrospective study on prospectively collected data of technical complications including 265 adult patients (Regensburg ECMO Registry, 2009-2013) with acute respiratory failure treated with vvECMO. Alterations in blood flow resistance, gas transfer capability, hemolysis, coagulation and hemostasis parameters were evaluated in conjunction with a system-exchange in all patients with at least one exchange (n = 83).
Values presented as median (interquartile range). Patient age was 50(36–60) years, the SOFA score 11(8–14.3) and the Murray lung injury Score 3.33(3.3–3.7). Cumulative ECMO support time 3411 days, 9(6–15) days per patient. Mechanical failure of the blood pump (n = 5), MO (n = 2) or cannula (n = 1) accounted for 10% of the exchanges. Acute clot formation within the pump head (visible clots, increase in plasma free hemoglobin (frHb), serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), n = 13) and MO (increase in pressure drop across the MO, n = 16) required an urgent system-exchange, of which nearly 50% could be foreseen by measuring the parameters mentioned below. Reasons for an elective system-exchange were worsening of gas transfer capability (n = 10) and device-related coagulation disorders (n = 32), either local fibrinolysis in the MO due to clot formation (increased D-dimers [DD]), decreased platelet count; n = 24), or device-induced hyperfibrinolysis (increased DD, decreased fibrinogen [FG], decreased platelet count, diffuse bleeding tendency; n = 8), which could be reversed after system-exchange. Four MOs were exchanged due to suspicion of infection.
The majority of ECMO system-exchanges could be predicted by regular inspection of the complete ECMO circuit, evaluation of gas exchange, pressure drop across the MO and laboratory parameters (DD, FG, platelets, LDH, frHb). These parameters should be monitored in the daily routine to reduce the risk of unexpected ECMO failure.
PMCID: PMC4251903  PMID: 25464516
5.  Identification of rhabdoviral sequences in oropharyngeal swabs from German and Danish bats 
Virology Journal  2014;11(1):196.
In the frame of active lyssavirus surveillance in bats, oropharyngeal swabs from German (N = 2297) and Danish (N = 134) insectivorous bats were investigated using a newly developed generic pan-lyssavirus real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR).
In total, 15 RT-qPCR positive swabs were detected. Remarkably, sequencing of positive samples did not confirm the presence of bat associated lyssaviruses but revealed nine distinct novel rhabdovirus-related sequences.
Several novel rhabdovirus-related sequences were detected both in German and Danish insectivorous bats. The results also prove that the novel generic pan-lyssavirus RT-qPCR offers a very broad detection range that allows the collection of further valuable data concerning the broad and complex diversity within the family Rhabdoviridae.
PMCID: PMC4247638  PMID: 25420461
Pan-lyssavirus PCR; Rhabdoviridae; Dimarhabdovirus supergroup
6.  Transcriptome sequencing of two wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum L.) ecotypes differentially adapted to drought stress reveals ecotype-specific transcripts 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):995.
Wild barley is adapted to highly diverse environments throughout its geographical distribution range. Transcriptome sequencing of differentially adapted wild barley ecotypes from contrasting environments contributes to the identification of genes and genetic variation involved in abiotic stress tolerance and adaptation.
Two differentially adapted wild barley ecotypes from desert (B1K2) and Mediterranean (B1K30) environments were analyzed for drought stress response under controlled conditions. The desert ecotype lost more water under both irrigation and drought, but exhibited higher relative water content (RWC) and better water use efficiency (WUE) than the coastal ecotype. We sequenced normalized cDNA libraries from drought-stressed leaves of both ecotypes with the 454 platform to identify drought-related transcripts. Over half million reads per ecotype were de novo assembled into 20,439 putative unique transcripts (PUTs) for B1K2, 21,494 for B1K30 and 28,720 for the joint assembly. Over 50% of PUTs of each ecotype were not shared with the other ecotype. Furthermore, 16% (3,245) of B1K2 and 17% (3,674) of B1K30 transcripts did not show orthologous sequence hits in the other wild barley ecotype and cultivated barley, and are candidates of ecotype-specific transcripts. Over 800 unique transcripts from each ecotype homologous to over 30 different stress-related genes were identified. We extracted 1,017 high quality SNPs that differentiated the two ecotypes. The genetic distance between the desert ecotype and cultivated barley was 1.9-fold higher than between the Mediterranean ecotype and cultivated barley. Moreover, the desert ecotype harbored a larger proportion of non-synonymous SNPs than the Mediterranean ecotype suggesting different demographic histories of these ecotypes.
The results indicate a strong physiological and genomic differentiation between the desert and Mediterranean wild barley ecotypes and a closer relationship of the Mediterranean to cultivated barley. A significant number of novel transcripts specific to wild barley were identified. The higher SNP density and larger proportion of SNPs with functional effects in the desert ecotype suggest different demographic histories and effects of natural selection in Mediterranean and desert wild barley. The data are a valuable genomic resource for an improved genome annotation, transcriptome studies of drought adaptation and a source of new genetic markers for future barley improvement.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-995) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4251939  PMID: 25408241
Hordeum spontaneum; Transcriptome; Drought tolerance; Genetic diversity
7.  Anti-Lyssaviral Activity of Interferons κ and ω from the Serotine Bat, Eptesicus serotinus 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(10):5444-5454.
Interferons (IFNs) are cytokines produced by host cells in response to the infection with pathogens. By binding to the corresponding receptors, IFNs trigger different pathways to block intracellular replication and growth of pathogens and to impede the infection of surrounding cells. Due to their key role in host defense against viral infections, as well as for clinical therapies, the IFN responses and regulation mechanisms are well studied. However, studies of type I IFNs have mainly focused on alpha interferon (IFN-α) and IFN-β subtypes. Knowledge of IFN-κ and IFN-ω is limited. Moreover, most studies are performed in humans or mouse models but not in the original host of zoonotic pathogens. Bats are important reservoirs and transmitters of zoonotic viruses such as lyssaviruses. A few studies have shown an antiviral activity of IFNs in fruit bats. However, the function of type I IFNs against lyssaviruses in bats has not been studied yet. Here, IFN-κ and IFN-ω genes from the European serotine bat, Eptesicus serotinus, were cloned and functionally characterized. E. serotinus IFN-κ and IFN-ω genes are intronless and well conserved between microchiropteran species. The promoter regions of both genes contain essential regulatory elements for transcription factors. In vitro studies indicated a strong activation of IFN signaling by recombinant IFN-ω, whereas IFN-κ displayed weaker activation. Noticeably, both IFNs inhibit to different extents the replication of different lyssaviruses in susceptible bat cell lines. The present study provides functional data on the innate host defense against lyssaviruses in endangered European bats.
IMPORTANCE We describe here for the first time the molecular and functional characterization of two type I interferons (IFN-κ and -ω) from European serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus). The importance of this study is mainly based on the fact that very limited information about the early innate immune response against bat lyssaviruses in their natural host serotine bats is yet available. Generally, whereas the antiviral activity of other type I interferons is well studied, the functional involvement of IFN-κ and -ω has not yet been investigated.
PMCID: PMC4019090  PMID: 24574413
8.  Comparative studies on the genetic, antigenic and pathogenic characteristics of Bokeloh bat lyssavirus 
The Journal of General Virology  2014;95(Pt 8):1647-1653.
Bokeloh bat lyssavirus (BBLV), a novel lyssavirus, was isolated from a Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattererii), a chiropteran species with a widespread and abundant distribution across Europe. As a novel lyssavirus, the risks of BBLV to animal and human health are unknown and as such characterization both in vitro and in vivo was required to assess pathogenicity and vaccine protection. Full genome sequence analysis and antigenic cartography demonstrated that the German BBLV isolates are most closely related to European bat lyssavirus type 2 (EBLV-2) and Khujand virus and can be characterized within phylogroup I. In vivo characterization demonstrated that BBLV was pathogenic in mice when inoculated peripherally causing clinical signs typical for rabies encephalitis, with higher pathogenicity observed in juvenile mice. A limited vaccination-challenge experiment in mice was conducted and suggested that current vaccines would afford some protection against BBLV although further studies are warranted to determine a serological cut-off for protection.
PMCID: PMC4103065  PMID: 24828330
9.  Enhanced Passive Bat Rabies Surveillance in Indigenous Bat Species from Germany - A Retrospective Study 
In Germany, rabies in bats is a notifiable zoonotic disease, which is caused by European bat lyssaviruses type 1 and 2 (EBLV-1 and 2), and the recently discovered new lyssavirus species Bokeloh bat lyssavirus (BBLV). As the understanding of bat rabies in insectivorous bat species is limited, in addition to routine bat rabies diagnosis, an enhanced passive surveillance study, i.e. the retrospective investigation of dead bats that had not been tested for rabies, was initiated in 1998 to study the distribution, abundance and epidemiology of lyssavirus infections in bats from Germany. A total number of 5478 individuals representing 21 bat species within two families were included in this study. The Noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula) and the Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) represented the most specimens submitted. Of all investigated bats, 1.17% tested positive for lyssaviruses using the fluorescent antibody test (FAT). The vast majority of positive cases was identified as EBLV-1, predominately associated with the Serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus). However, rabies cases in other species, i.e. Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), P. pipistrellus and Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) were also characterized as EBLV-1. In contrast, EBLV-2 was isolated from three Daubenton's bats (Myotis daubentonii). These three cases contribute significantly to the understanding of EBLV-2 infections in Germany as only one case had been reported prior to this study. This enhanced passive surveillance indicated that besides known reservoir species, further bat species are affected by lyssavirus infections. Given the increasing diversity of lyssaviruses and bats as reservoir host species worldwide, lyssavirus positive specimens, i.e. both bat and virus need to be confirmed by molecular techniques.
Author Summary
According to the World Health Organization rabies is considered both a neglected zoonotic and a tropical disease. The causative agents are lyssaviruses which have their primary reservoir in bats. Although bat rabies is notifiable in Germany, the number of submitted bats during routine surveillance is rarely representative of the natural bat population. Therefore, the aim of this study was to include dead bats from various sources for enhanced bat rabies surveillance. The results show that a considerable number of additional bat rabies cases can be detected, thus improving the knowledge on the frequency, geographical distribution and reservoir-association of bat lyssavirus infections in Germany. The overall proportion of positives was lower than during routine surveillance in Germany. While the majority of cases were found in the Serotine bat and characterized as European bat lyssavirus type 1 (EBLV-1), three of the four EBLV-2 infections detected in Germany were found in Myotis daubentonii during this study.
PMCID: PMC4006713  PMID: 24784117
10.  Prediction of mortality in adult patients with severe acute lung failure receiving veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: a prospective observational study 
Critical Care  2014;18(2):R67.
Veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (vvECMO) can be a life-saving therapy in patients with severe acute lung failure refractory to conventional therapy. Nevertheless, vvECMO is a procedure associated with high costs and resource utilization. The aim of this study was to assess published models for prediction of mortality following vvECMO and optimize an alternative model.
Established mortality risk scores were validated to assess their usefulness in 304 adult patients undergoing vvECMO for refractory lung failure at the University Medical Center Regensburg from 2008 to 2013. A parsimonious prediction model was developed based on variables available before ECMO initiation using logistic regression modelling. We then assessed whether addition of variables available one day after ECMO implementation enhanced mortality prediction. Models were internally validated and calibrated by bootstrapping (400 runs). Predictive ability, goodness-of-fit and model discrimination were compared across the different models.
In the present study population, existing mortality prediction tools for vvECMO patients showed suboptimal performance. Evaluated before vvECMO initiation, a logistic prediction model comprising age, immunocompromised state, artificial minute ventilation, pre-ECMO serum lactate and hemoglobin concentrations showed best mortality prediction in our patients (area under curve, AUC: 0.75). Additional information about norepinephrine dosage, fraction of inspired oxygen, C-reactive protein and fibrinogen concentrations the first day following ECMO initiation further improved discrimination (AUC: 0.79, P = 0.03) and predictive ability (likelihood ratio test, P < 0.001). When classifying patients as lower (<40%) or higher (>80%) risk based on their predicted mortality, the pre-ECMO and day1-on-ECMO models had negative/positive predictive values of 76%/82% and 82%/81%, respectively.
While pre-ECMO mortality prediction remains a challenge due to large patient heterogeneity, evaluation one day after ECMO initiation may improve the ability to separate lower- and higher-risk patients. Our findings support the clinical perception that chronic health condition, high comorbidity and reduced functional reserves are strongly related to survival during and following ECMO support. Renewed evaluation the first day after ECMO initiation may provide enhanced guidance for further handling of ECMO patients. Despite the usefulness of prediction models, thorough clinical evaluation should always represent the cornerstone in decision for ECMO.
PMCID: PMC4057201  PMID: 24716510
11.  Variants in CPA1 are strongly associated with early-onset chronic pancreatitis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(10):1216-1220.
Chronic pancreatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the pancreas. We analyzed CPA1 encoding carboxypeptidase A1 in subjects with non-alcoholic chronic pancreatitis and controls in a German discovery cohort and three replication cohorts. Functionally impaired variants were present in 29/944 (3.1%) German patients and in 5/3,938 (0.1%) controls (odds ratio [OR] = 24.9; P = 1.5 × 10-16). The association was strongest in subjects aged ≤10 years (9.7%; OR = 84.0; P = 4.1 × 10-24). In the replication cohorts, defective CPA1 variants were observed in 8/600 (1.3%) patients and in 9/2,432 (0.4%) controls from Europe (P = 0.01), in 5/230 (2.2%) patients and 0/264 controls from India (P = 0.02), and in 5/247 (2.0%) patients but 0/341 controls from Japan (P = 0.013). The mechanism of increased pancreatitis risk by CPA1 variants may involve misfolding-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress rather than elevated trypsin activity as seen with other genetic risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3909499  PMID: 23955596
12.  Tolcapone addition improves Parkinson’s disease associated nonmotor symptoms 
Addition of catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors to a conventional levodopa/dopadecarboxylase inhibitor regimen improves motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Optimizing dopamine substitution is also beneficial for nonmotor features.
To investigate the efficacy of supplemental tolcapone intake on nonmotor symptoms.
A total of 125 levodopa-treated patients additionally took tolcapone in this observational trial. Initially and following 4 weeks of tolcapone intake, the neurologist scored with Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale parts I, II, IV, the nonmotor symptoms scale for Parkinson’s disease and recorded the off time. The patients rated themselves with the EuroQuol, its visual analogue scale and the nonmotor screening questionnaire. Caregivers reported the daily duration of care giving.
All scores improved except for Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale part IV and domains 4, 5 and 8 of the nonmotor symptoms scale for Parkinson’s disease.
This trial demonstrates that tolcapone addition may improve nonmotor features.
PMCID: PMC3932768  PMID: 24587824
nonmotor symptoms; Parkinson’s disease; tolcapone
13.  FemZone trial: a randomized phase II trial comparing neoadjuvant letrozole and zoledronic acid with letrozole in primary breast cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:66.
The objective of this prospectively randomized phase II trial (Trial registration: EUCTR2004-004007-37-DE) was to compare the clinical response of primary breast cancer patients to neoadjuvant therapy with letrozole alone (LET) or letrozole and zoledronic acid (LET + ZOL).
Patients were randomly assigned to receive either LET 2.5 mg/day (n = 79) or the combination of LET 2.5 mg/day and a total of seven infusions of ZOL 4 mg every 4 weeks (n = 89) for 6 months. Primary endpoint was clinical response rate as assessed by mammogram readings. The study was terminated prematurely due to insufficient recruitment. We report here on an exploratory analysis of this data.
Central assessment of tumor sizes during the treatment period was available for 131 patients (66 LET, 65 LET + ZOL). Clinical responses (complete or partial) were seen in 54.5% (95% CI: 41.8-66.9) of the patients in the LET arm and 69.2% (95% CI: 56.6-80.1) of those in the LET + ZOL arm (P = 0.106). A multivariate model showed an OR of 1.72 (95% CI: 0.83-3.59) for the experimental arm.
No increase in the clinical response rate was observed with the addition of ZOL to a neoadjuvant treatment regimen with LET. However a trend towards a better reponse in the LET + ZOL arm could be observed. This trend is consistent with previous studies that have investigated the addition of ZOL to chemotherapy, and it may support the evidence for a direct antitumor action of zoledronic acid.
PMCID: PMC3937056  PMID: 24499441
Zoledronic acid; Neoadjuvant treatment; Breast cancer; Letrozole; Aromatase inhibitors; Bisphosphonates
14.  Ventral striatum gray matter density reduction in patients with schizophrenia and psychotic emotional dysregulation☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2013;4:232-239.
Substantial heterogeneity remains across studies investigating changes in gray matter in schizophrenia. Differences in methodology, heterogeneous symptom patterns and symptom trajectories may contribute to inconsistent findings. To address this problem, we recently proposed to group patients by symptom dimensions, which map on the language, the limbic and the motor systems. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether patients with prevalent symptoms of emotional dysregulation would show structural neuronal abnormalities in the limbic system.
43 right-handed medicated patients with schizophrenia were assessed with the Bern Psychopathology Scale (BPS). The patients and a control group of 34 healthy individuals underwent structural imaging at a 3T MRI scanner. Whole brain voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was compared between patient subgroups with different severity of emotional dysregulation. Group comparisons (comparison between patients with severe emotional dysregulation, patients with mild emotional dysregulation, patients with no emotional dysregulation and healthy controls) were performed using a one way ANOVA and ANCOVA respectively.
Patients with severe emotional dysregulation had significantly decreased gray matter density in a large cluster including the right ventral striatum and the head of the caudate compared to patients without emotional dysregulation. Comparing patients with severe emotional dysregulation and healthy controls, several clusters of significant decreased GM density were detected in patients, including the right ventral striatum, head of the caudate, left hippocampus, bilateral thalamus, dorsolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex. The significant effect in the ventral striatum was lost when patients with and without emotional dysregulation were pooled and compared with controls.
Decreased gray matter density in a large cluster including the right ventral striatum was associated with severe symptoms of emotional dysregulation in patients with schizophrenia. The ventral striatum is an important part of the limbic system, and was indicated to be involved in the generation of incentive salience and psychotic symptoms. Only patients with severe emotional dysregulation had decreased gray matter in several brain structures associated with emotion and reward processing compared to healthy controls. The results support the hypothesis that grouping patients according to specific clinical symptoms matched to the limbic system allows identifying patient subgroups with structural abnormalities in the limbic network.
•We examined whole brain VBM in schizophrenia patients and healthy controls.•We compared patients with different severity of emotional dysregulation (ED).•Symptoms of ED were associated with GM density in the ventral striatum.•Grouping patients according to symptoms identified specific GM abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3895617  PMID: 24455473
Dimensions; Emotional dysregulation; Limbic system; Brain circuits; Psychopathology
15.  Multimorbidity in Adult Asylum Seekers: A First Overview 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82671.
Over the last two decades, the total annual number of applications for asylum in the countries of the European Union has increased from 15,000 to more than 300,000 people. The aim of this study was to give a first overview on multimorbidity of adult asylum seekers.
Our retrospective Swiss single center data analysis examined multimorbidity of adult asylums seekers admitted to our ED between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2012.
A total of 3170 patients were eligible for the study; they were predominantly male (2392 male, 75.5% versus 778 female, 24.5). The median age of the patients was 28 years (range 28–82). The most common region of origin was Africa (1544, 48.7%), followed by the Middle East (736, 23.6%). 2144 (67.6%) of all patients were not multimorbid. A total of 1183 (37.7%) of our patients were multimorbid. The mean Charlson comorbidity index was 0.25 (SD 1.1, range 0–12). 634 (20%) of all patients sufferem from psychiatric diseases, followed by chronic medical conditions (12.6%, 399) and infectious diseases (4.7%, 150). Overall, 11% (349) of our patients presented as a direct consequence of prior violence. Patients from Sri Lanka/India most often suffered from addictions problems (50/240, 20.8%, p<0.0001). Infectious diseases were most frequent in patients from Africa (6.6%), followed by the Balkans and Eastern Europe/Russia (each 3.8%).
The health care problems of asylum seekers are manifold. More than 60% of the study population assessed in our study did not suffer from more than one disease. Nevertheless a significant percentage of asylum seekers is multimorbid and exhibits underlying psychiatric, infectious or chronic medical conditions despite their young age.
PMCID: PMC3869724  PMID: 24376565
16.  Neuropsychological effects of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease 
Surgical Neurology International  2013;4(Suppl 6):S443-S447.
Putative changes of cognition after deep brain stimulation (DBS) in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are a matter of debate. The aim of this study was to assess cognitive abilities before and following bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) DBS and to review the available literature.
Twenty patients underwent bilateral DBS of the STN. Cognitive skills were assessed in a standardized fashion before and at least at 12 months after the surgical intervention.
There was a significant decline of both semantic and phonematic verbal fluency and a mild trend for a deterioration of verbal memory after DBS. Mood, general cognitive screening, and visospatial abilities remained unchanged.
STN DBS in the treatment of PD has resulted in a significant reduction of motor symptoms and improved independence and quality of life in appropriately selected patients. However, it may have isolatable effects on verbal fluency and related function. Case series in the literature reported similar findings. Potential candidates for DBS should be counseled about the risk of mild cognitive declines.
PMCID: PMC3858804  PMID: 24349868
Cognitive decline; deep brain stimulation; memory; Parkinson's disease; subthalamic nucleus; verbal fluency
17.  Diversity and Epidemiology of Mokola Virus 
Mokola virus (MOKV) appears to be exclusive to Africa. Although the first isolates were from Nigeria and other Congo basin countries, all reports over the past 20 years have been from southern Africa. Previous phylogenetic studies analyzed few isolates or used partial gene sequence for analysis since limited sequence information is available for MOKV and the isolates were distributed among various laboratories. The complete nucleoprotein, phosphoprotein, matrix and glycoprotein genes of 18 MOKV isolates in various laboratories were sequenced either using partial or full genome sequencing using pyrosequencing and a phylogenetic analysis was undertaken. The results indicated that MOKV isolates from the Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic and Nigeria clustered according to geographic origin irrespective of the genes used for phylogenetic analysis, similar to that observed with Lagos bat virus. A Bayesian Markov-Chain-Monte-Carlo- (MCMC) analysis revealed the age of the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of MOKV to be between 279 and 2034 years depending on the genes used. Generally, all MOKV isolates showed a similar pattern at the amino acid sites considered influential for viral properties.
Author Summary
According to the World Health Organization, rabies is considered both a neglected zoonotic and tropical disease. Among all the lyssavirus species known to exist today, Mokola virus is unique and appears to be exclusive to Africa. In contrast to all other known virus species in the genus Lyssavirus of the family Rhabdoviridae, its reservoir host has not been identified yet. As only limited sequence information is available, this study significantly contributes to the understanding of the genetic diversity and relatedness of Mokola viruses. In a collective approach, the complete nucleoprotein, phosphoprotein, matrix, and glycoprotein genes of all Mokola viruses isolated to date were sequenced in various rabies laboratories across the world. A phylogenetic analysis was undertaken and the most recent common ancestor was determined. Subsequently, results were linked to epidemiological background data. We also conducted a comparative study of distinct antigenic sites considered influential for viral properties within those genes.
PMCID: PMC3812115  PMID: 24205423
18.  MHC Universal Cells Survive in an Allogeneic Environment after Incompatible Transplantation 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:796046.
Cell, tissue, and organ transplants are commonly performed for the treatment of different diseases. However, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) diversity often prevents complete donor-recipient matching, resulting in graft rejection. This study evaluates in a preclinical model the capacity of MHC class I-silenced cells to engraft and grow upon allogeneic transplantation. Short hairpin RNA targeting β2-microglobulin (RN_shβ2m) was delivered into fibroblasts derived from LEW/Ztm (RT1l) (RT1-Al) rats using a lentiviral-based vector. MHC class I (RT1-A-) expressing and -silenced cells were injected subcutaneously in LEW rats (RT1l) and MHC-congenic LEW.1W rats (RT1u), respectively. Cell engraftment and the status of the immune response were monitored for eight weeks after transplantation. In contrast to RT1-A-expressing cells, RT1-A-silenced fibroblasts became engrafted and were still detectable eight weeks after allogeneic transplantation. Plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, and IFN-γ were significantly higher in animals transplanted with RT1-A-expressing cells than in those receiving RT1-A-silenced cells. Furthermore, alloantigen-specific T-cell proliferation rates derived from rats receiving RT1-A-expressing cells were higher than those in rats transplanted with RT1-A-silenced cells. These data suggest that silencing MHC class I expression might overcome the histocompatibility barrier, potentially opening up new avenues in the field of cell transplantation and regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC3856147  PMID: 24350288
19.  Alterations of White Matter Integrity Related to the Season of Birth in Schizophrenia: A DTI Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75508.
In schizophrenia there is a consistent epidemiological finding of a birth excess in winter and spring. Season of birth is thought to act as a proxy indicator for harmful environmental factors during foetal maturation. There is evidence that prenatal exposure to harmful environmental factors may trigger pathologic processes in the neurodevelopment, which subsequently increase the risk of schizophrenia. Since brain white matter alterations have repeatedly been found in schizophrenia, the objective of this study was to investigate whether white matter integrity was related to the season of birth in patients with schizophrenia. Thirty-four patients with schizophrenia and 33 healthy controls underwent diffusion tensor imaging. Differences in the fractional anisotropy maps of schizophrenia patients and healthy controls born in different seasons were analysed with tract-based spatial statistics. A significant main effect of season of birth and an interaction of group and season of birth showed that patients born in summer had significantly lower fractional anisotropy in widespread white matter regions than those born in the remainder of the year. Additionally, later age of schizophrenia onset was found in patients born in winter months. The current findings indicate a relationship of season of birth and white matter alterations in schizophrenia and consequently support the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of early pathological mechanisms in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3785501  PMID: 24086548
20.  Oral and dental health in Huntington‘s disease - an observational study 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:114.
Only a few case reports and case series dealing with oral and dental health care are available in literature until now. The aim of the present pilot study was to determine the status of dental health in comparison to matched controls and to heighten the neurologists’ and dentists’ awareness of the oral aspects of the disease.
42 Huntington’s disease (HD) participants were scored according to the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale. The dental status was assessed by using the well established score for decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) and the dental plaque score (Silness-Loe plaque index).
Compared to controls HD participants showed significantly more decayed teeth and more plaques in both plaque indices. A higher motor impairment and a lower functional status of the patients lead to a worsening in dental status.
Possible reasons for our findings are discussed. Apart from local oral complications general complications may also occur. Thus, as a consequence, we would encourage patients, caregivers, neurologists, and the dentists to ensure regular preventive dental examinations and dental treatments of individuals with Huntington’s disease even in the premanifest stage of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3766132  PMID: 24138900
21.  X-ray analysis of residual stress gradients in TiN coatings by a Laplace space approach and cross-sectional nanodiffraction: a critical comparison 
Journal of Applied Crystallography  2013;46(Pt 5):1378-1385.
Residual stresses in as-deposited and blasted TiN coatings are characterized using a Laplace approach and using the novel cross-sectional X-ray nanodiffraction technique. A comparison of real and Laplace space techniques demonstrates the advantages of the nanodiffraction method, with a possibility to analyse local gradients of stress, texture, crystallite size and phase in thin films and coatings.
Novel scanning synchrotron cross-sectional nanobeam and conventional laboratory as well as synchrotron Laplace X-ray diffraction methods are used to characterize residual stresses in exemplary 11.5 µm-thick TiN coatings. Both real and Laplace space approaches reveal a homogeneous tensile stress state and a very pronounced compressive stress gradient in as-deposited and blasted coatings, respectively. The unique capabilities of the cross-sectional approach operating with a beam size of 100 nm in diameter allow the analysis of stress variation with sub-micrometre resolution at arbitrary depths and the correlation of the stress evolution with the local coating microstructure. Finally, advantages and disadvantages of both approaches are extensively discussed.
PMCID: PMC3778322  PMID: 24068842
residual stress; TiN coatings; Laplace methods; X-ray diffraction; cross-sectional nanodiffraction
22.  The elimination of fox rabies from Europe: determinants of success and lessons for the future 
Despite perceived challenges to controlling an infectious disease in wildlife, oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of foxes has proved a remarkably successful tool and a prime example of a sophisticated strategy to eliminate disease from wildlife reservoirs. During the past three decades, the implementation of ORV programmes in 24 countries has led to the elimination of fox-mediated rabies from vast areas of Western and Central Europe. In this study, we evaluated the efficiency of 22 European ORV programmes between 1978 and 2010. During this period an area of almost 1.9 million km² was targeted at least once with vaccine baits, with control taking between 5 and 26 years depending upon the country. We examined factors influencing effort required both to control and eliminate fox rabies as well as cost-related issues of these programmes. The proportion of land area ever affected by rabies and an index capturing the size and overlap of successive ORV campaigns were identified as factors having statistically significant effects on the number of campaigns required to both control and eliminate rabies. Repeat comprehensive campaigns that are wholly overlapping much more rapidly eliminate infection and are less costly in the long term. Disproportionally greater effort is required in the final phase of an ORV programme, with a median of 11 additional campaigns required to eliminate disease once incidence has been reduced by 90 per cent. If successive ORV campaigns span the entire affected area, rabies will be eliminated more rapidly than if campaigns are implemented in a less comprehensive manner, therefore reducing ORV expenditure in the longer term. These findings should help improve the planning and implementation of ORV programmes, and facilitate future decision-making by veterinary authorities and policy-makers.
PMCID: PMC3720040  PMID: 23798690
fox rabies; oral rabies vaccination; elimination; influencing factors; efforts/expenses; endgame
23.  Coordination Chemistry of Disilylated Germylenes with Group 4 Metallocenes 
Organometallics  2013;32(11):3300-3308.
Reaction of the PEt3 adduct of a disilylated five-membered cyclic germylene with group 4 metallocene dichlorides in the presence of magnesium led to the formation of the respective germylene metallocene phosphine complexes of titanium, zirconium, and hafnium. Attempts to react the related NHC adduct of a disilylated four-membered cyclic germylene under the same conditions with Cp2TiCl2 did not give the expected germylene NHC titanocene complex. This complex was, however, obtained in the reaction of Cp2Ti(btmsa) with the NHC germylene adduct. A computational analysis of the structure of the group 4 metallocene germylene complexes revealed the multiple-bond character of the M–Ge(II) linkage, which can be rationalized with the classical σ-donor/π-acceptor interaction. The strength of the M–Ge(II) bond increases descending group 4.
PMCID: PMC3714165  PMID: 23874053
24.  Cyclic Disilylated and Digermylated Germylenes 
Organometallics  2013;32(11):3404-3410.
The preparation of triethylphosphine adducts of cyclic disilylated or digermylated germylenes was achieved by reaction of 1,4-dipotassio-1,1,4,4-tetrakis(trimethylsilyl)tetramethyltetrasilane with GeBr2·(dioxane) and PEt3. Phosphine abstraction with B(C6F5)3 allowed formation of the base-free germylenes, which undergo 1,2-trimethylsilyl shifts to the germylene atom to form the respective silagermene or digermene, which further dimerize in [2 + 2] cycloadditions to tricyclic compounds. The reasons responsible for the germylenes’ completely different reactivities in comparison to the previously studied analogous stannylenes and plumbylenes were elucidated in a theoretical study.
PMCID: PMC3714166  PMID: 23874054
25.  Neuropathy in Parkinson’s Disease Patients with Intestinal Levodopa Infusion versus Oral Drugs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66639.
Severe polyneuropathy has been observed in a number of patients treated for Parkinson’s disease with Levodopa/Carbidopa intestinal gel infusion. This may reflect a rare individual complication or a systematic side effect.
To investigate whether peripheral nerve function differed between patients with oral treatment versus Levodopa/Carbidopa intestinal gel infusion.
In an observational design, data from median, tibial, and peroneal neurography were prospectively assessed and compared between patients with conventional drug treatment (n = 15) and with Levodopa/Carbidopa intestinal gel infusion (n = 15). The groups were matched for age and disease duration. In view of the medical risk profile for polyneuropathy, comorbidity and basic serological parameters were assessed.
Axonal neuropathy was common in both patient groups. However, although group differences in risk factors for polyneuropathy were not evident, neurographic abnormalities were more severe in the patients treated with Levodopa/Carbidopa intestinal gel infusion than in the orally treated patients. In the group with Levodopa/Carbidopa intestinal gel infusion, the degree of neuropathic change correlated with weight lost since therapy initiation and with the drug dose. In contrast to the axonal abnormalities, conduction velocity was found normal in both groups.
The results are compatible with the promotion of axonal neuropathy by Levodopa/Carbidopa intestinal gel infusion. This could be due to the intrinsically high levodopa doses associated with the therapy and/or malnutritional effects from intestinal drug application. The results should be corroborated by a larger longitudinal and controlled trial.
PMCID: PMC3688609  PMID: 23818953

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