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1.  Nf2/Merlin Controls Spinal Cord Neural Progenitor Function in a Rac1/ErbB2-Dependent Manner 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97320.
Individuals with the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) cancer predisposition syndrome develop spinal cord glial tumors (ependymomas) that likely originate from neural progenitor cells. Whereas many spinal ependymomas exhibit indolent behavior, the only treatment option for clinically symptomatic tumors is surgery. In this regard, medical therapies are unfortunately lacking due to an incomplete understanding of the critical growth control pathways that govern the function of spinal cord (SC) neural progenitor cells (NPCs).
To identify potential therapeutic targets for these tumors, we leveraged primary mouse Nf2-deficient spinal cord neural progenitor cells.
We demonstrate that the Nf2 protein, merlin, negatively regulates spinal neural progenitor cell survival and glial differentiation in an ErbB2-dependent manner, and that NF2-associated spinal ependymomas exhibit increased ErbB2 activation. Moreover, we show that Nf2-deficient SC NPC ErbB2 activation results from Rac1-mediated ErbB2 retention at the plasma membrane.
Collectively, these findings establish ErbB2 as a potential rational therapeutic target for NF2-associated spinal ependymoma.
PMCID: PMC4016309  PMID: 24817309
2.  Using a pacifier to decrease sudden infant death syndrome: an emergency department educational intervention 
PeerJ  2014;2:e309.
Background. Pacifier use decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). An emergency department (ED) visit may provide an opportunistic ‘teachable moment’ for parents.
Objectives. To test the hypotheses (1) that caregivers were less familiar with the role of pacifiers in sudden infant death (SIDS) prevention than other recommendations, and (2) that an ED educational intervention would increase pacifier use in infants younger than six months, and (3) that otitis media would not occur more frequently in pacifier users.
Methods. We did an intervention-group-only longitudinal study in a county hospital ED. We measured pacifier use infants and baseline knowledge of SIDs prevention recommendations in caregivers. We followed up three months later to determine pacifier use, and 12 months later to determine episodes of otitis media.
Results. We analyzed data for 780 infants. Parents knew of advice against co-sleeping in 469/780 (60%), smoking in 660/776 (85%), and prone sleeping in 613/780 (79%). Only 268/777 (35%) knew the recommendation to offer a pacifier at bedtime. At enrollment 449/780 (58%) did not use a pacifier. Of 210/338 infants aged less than 6 months followed up 41/112 (37%) non-users had started using a pacifier at bedtime (NNT 3). Over the same period, 37/98 (38%) users had discontinued their pacifier. Otitis media did not differ between users and non-users at 12 months.
Conclusion. Caregiver knowledge of the role of pacifiers in SIDS prevention was less than for other recommendations. Our educational intervention appeared to increase pacifier use. Pacifier use was not associated with increased otitis media.
PMCID: PMC3961164  PMID: 24688883
Pacifier; Sudden infant death syndrome; Infant; Emergency department; Education in the emergency department
3.  Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Cardiorespiratory Disease in the California Teachers Study Cohort 
Rationale: Several studies have linked long-term exposure to particulate air pollution with increased cardiopulmonary mortality; only two have also examined incident circulatory disease.
Objectives: To examine associations of individualized long-term exposures to particulate and gaseous air pollution with incident myocardial infarction and stroke, as well as all-cause and cause-specific mortality.
Methods: We estimated long-term residential air pollution exposure for more than 100,000 participants in the California Teachers Study, a prospective cohort of female public school professionals. We linked geocoded residential addresses with inverse distance-weighted monthly pollutant surfaces for two measures of particulate matter and for several gaseous pollutants. We examined associations between exposure to these pollutants and risks of incident myocardial infarction and stroke, and of all-cause and cause-specific mortality, using Cox proportional hazards models.
Measurements and Main Results: We found elevated hazard ratios linking long-term exposure to particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5), scaled to an increment of 10 μg/m3 with mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) (1.20; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02–1.41) and, particularly among postmenopausal women, incident stroke (1.19; 95% CI, 1.02–1.38). Long-term exposure to particulate matter less than 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) was associated with elevated risks for IHD mortality (1.06; 95% CI, 0.99–1.14) and incident stroke (1.06; 95% CI, 1.00–1.13), while exposure to nitrogen oxides was associated with elevated risks for IHD and all cardiovascular mortality.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence linking long-term exposure to PM2.5 and PM10 with increased risks of incident stroke as well as IHD mortality; exposure to nitrogen oxides was also related to death from cardiovascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3208653  PMID: 21700913
particulate matter; cardiovascular diseases; air pollutants; epidemiology
4.  Long-Term Exposure to Constituents of Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Mortality: Results from the California Teachers Study 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;118(3):363-369.
Several studies have reported associations between long-term exposure to ambient fine particulate matter (PM) and cardiovascular mortality. However, the health impacts of long-term exposure to specific constituents of PM2.5 (PM with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm) have not been explored.
We used data from the California Teachers Study, a prospective cohort of active and former female public school professionals. We developed estimates of long-term exposures to PM2.5 and several of its constituents, including elemental carbon, organic carbon (OC), sulfates, nitrates, iron, potassium, silicon, and zinc. Monthly averages of exposure were created using pollution data from June 2002 through July 2007. We included participants whose residential addresses were within 8 and 30 km of a monitor collecting PM2.5 constituent data. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for long-term exposure for mortality from all nontraumatic causes, cardiopulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease (IHD), and pulmonary disease.
Approximately 45,000 women with 2,600 deaths lived within 30 km of a monitor. We observed associations of all-cause, cardiopulmonary, and IHD mortality with PM2.5 mass and each of its measured constituents, and between pulmonary mortality and several constituents. For example, for cardiopulmonary mortality, HRs for interquartile ranges of PM2.5, OC, and sulfates were 1.55 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.43–1.69], 1.80 (95% CI, 1.68–1.93), and 1.79 (95% CI, 1.58–2.03), respectively. Subsequent analyses indicated that, of the constituents analyzed, OC and sulfates had the strongest associations with all four outcomes.
Long-term exposures to PM2.5 and several of its constituents were associated with increased risks of all-cause and cardiopulmonary mortality in this cohort. Constituents derived from combustion of fossil fuel (including diesel), as well as those of crustal origin, were associated with some of the greatest risks. These results provide additional evidence that reduction of ambient PM2.5 may provide significant public health benefits.
PMCID: PMC2854764  PMID: 20064787
cardiopulmonary mortality; chronic exposure; cohort study; elemental carbon; fine particles; organic carbon; PM2.5; species; sulfates

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