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1.  Cortisol levels and sleep patterns in infants with orofacial clefts undergoing surgery 
Background
Traumatic events during early infancy might damage infants’ psychobiological functioning, such as sleep and cortisol secretion. Infants born with orofacial clefts (OFCs) undergo functional, anatomical, and aesthetic surgery. The aim of the present study was to determine whether infants with OFC and undergoing OFC surgery show deteriorated sleep and cortisol secretion compared with healthy controls and with their presurgery status.
Methods
A total of 27 infants with OFC (mean age: 22 weeks) and 30 healthy controls (mean age: 23 weeks) took part in the study. For infants with OFC, sleep actigraphy was performed and saliva cortisol was analyzed 5 days before, during, and 5 days after surgery. For controls, sleep and saliva cortisol were assessed similarly, except for the period taken up with surgery.
Results
Compared with healthy controls, infants with OFC undergoing OFC surgery did not differ in sleep and cortisol secretion. Their sleep and cortisol secretion did deteriorate during the perisurgical period but recovered 5 days postsurgery.
Conclusion
In infants with OFC undergoing corrective surgery, the pattern of results for sleep and cortisol suggests that OFC surgery does not seem to constitute a traumatic event with long-term consequences.
doi:10.2147/NDT.S71785
PMCID: PMC4206390  PMID: 25342905
cortisol; sleep; orofacial cleft; surgery; infants
2.  Machine learning for neuroimaging with scikit-learn 
Statistical machine learning methods are increasingly used for neuroimaging data analysis. Their main virtue is their ability to model high-dimensional datasets, e.g., multivariate analysis of activation images or resting-state time series. Supervised learning is typically used in decoding or encoding settings to relate brain images to behavioral or clinical observations, while unsupervised learning can uncover hidden structures in sets of images (e.g., resting state functional MRI) or find sub-populations in large cohorts. By considering different functional neuroimaging applications, we illustrate how scikit-learn, a Python machine learning library, can be used to perform some key analysis steps. Scikit-learn contains a very large set of statistical learning algorithms, both supervised and unsupervised, and its application to neuroimaging data provides a versatile tool to study the brain.
doi:10.3389/fninf.2014.00014
PMCID: PMC3930868  PMID: 24600388
machine learning; statistical learning; neuroimaging; scikit-learn; Python
3.  Prevalence of chronic kidney disease in diabetic adult out-patients in Tanzania 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:183.
Background
The number of adults with diabetes mellitus is increasing worldwide, particularly in Asia and Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, renal complications of diabetes may go unrecognized due to limited diagnostic resources. The prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) among adult diabetics in sub-Saharan Africa has not been well described.
Methods
This study was conducted at the diabetes mellitus clinic of Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania. A total 369 consecutive adult diabetic patients were enrolled and interviewed. Each patient provided a urine sample for microalbuminuria and proteinuria and a blood sample for serum creatinine level. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated using the Cockroft-Gault equation. CKD was staged according to the Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes system.
Results
A total of 309 (83.7%) study participants had CKD; 295 (80.0%) had significant albuminuria and 91 (24.7%) had eGFR < 60 ml/min. None of these patients were aware of their renal disease, and only 5 (1.3%) had a diagnosis of diabetic nephropathy recorded in their file. Older age was significantly associated with CKD in this population [OR 1.03, p = 0.03, 95%CI (1.00-1.05)].
Conclusions
Chronic kidney disease is highly prevalent among adult diabetic outpatients attending our clinic in Tanzania, but is usually undiagnosed. Nearly ¼ of patients had an eGFR low enough to require dose adjustment of diabetic medications. More diagnostic resources are needed for CKD screening among adults in Tanzania in order to slow progression and prevent complications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-183
PMCID: PMC3765892  PMID: 24228774
Diabetes mellitus; Microalbuminuria; Proteinuria; CKD; Chronic kidney disease; Sub-Saharan Africa
4.  Role of the Phosphatase PTEN in Early Vascular Remodeling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e55445.
Background
The phosphatase PTEN represents an important physiological inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3-K)/protein kinase B (Akt) signalling, however, the functional role of PTEN in the initial phase of angioplasty-induced vascular injury remains elusive. In the present study we sought to determine PTEN's effect on vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) apoptosis following acute injury in vivo and in vitro.
Methods and Results
Immunohistochemistry indicated a faint basal expression and equal distribution of PTEN in uninjured rat carotid arteries. 12 h following balloon-injury, PTEN expression was strongly increased in apoptotic (TUNEL+) VSMC. In vitro, stimulation with serum or different growth factors or subjecting VSMC to cyclic stretch had no effect on PTEN expression, whereas stimulation with H2O2 robustly increased PTEN expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner. To evaluate the functional role of PTEN expression, human VSMC were transduced with WT-PTEN. Overexpression of PTEN increased the number of apoptotic VSMC (19.8%±4.4 vs. 5.6%±2.3; P<0.001) as determined by TUNEL assay. In contrast, siRNA-mediated knock-down of PTEN attenuated the basal as well as H2O2-induced apoptosis of VSMC. Mechanistically, overexpression of PTEN prevented serum-induced Akt-phosphorylation, whereas siRNA-mediated knock down of PTEN augmented Akt-activation. Moreover, co-transfection of PTEN and a constitutive active Akt mutant prevented PTEN-dependent augmentation of VSMC apoptosis, indicating, that PTEN regulates VSMC apoptosis by inhibition of Akt phosphorylation/activation.
Conclusion
By interfering with the PI3-K/Akt-dependent survival signalling, the oxidative stress-induced up regulation of PTEN in VSMC of injured arteries augments the sensitivity of VSMC to apoptotic stimuli in the early phase following vascular injury, augmenting the initial injury and cell loss of the injured vessel wall. Thus, these data add to our understanding of PTEN's role during vascular remodelling.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055445
PMCID: PMC3606387  PMID: 23533567
5.  Oncofertility: combination of ovarian stimulation with subsequent ovarian tissue extraction on the day of oocyte retrieval 
Background
New anticancer treatments have increased survival rates for cancer patients, but often at the cost of sterility. Several strategies are currently available for preserving fertility. However, the chances of achieving a pregnancy with one technique are still limited. A combination of methods is therefore recommended in order to maximize women’s chances of future fertility. In this retrospective study, ovarian stimulation with subsequent ovarian tissue extraction on the day of oocyte retrieval were combined and the quality of the ovarian tissue, the numbers and quality of oocytes, time requirements, and the safety of the strategy were examined.
Methods
Fourteen female patients suffering from malignant diseases underwent one in vitro fertilization cycle. Different stimulation protocols were used, depending on the menstrual cycle. Transvaginal oocyte retrieval was scheduled 34–36 h after human chorionic gonadotropin administration. Immediately afterwards, ovarian tissue was extracted laparoscopically.
Results
A mean of 10 oocytes were retrieved per patient, and 67% of the oocytes were successfully fertilized using intracytoplasmic sperm injection. No periprocedural complications and no complications leading to postponement of the start of chemotherapy occurred. The ovarian tissues were of good quality, with a normal age-related follicular distribution and without carcinoma cell invasion.
Conclusions
An approach using ovarian stimulation first, followed by laparoscopic collection of ovarian tissue, is a useful strategy for increasing the efficacy of fertility preservation techniques. The ovarian tissue is not affected by prior ovarian stimulation.
doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-19
PMCID: PMC3599192  PMID: 23510640
Fertility preservation; Ovarian tissue; Ovarian stimulation; IVF; Oocyte cryopreservation; Ovarian tissue cryopreservation
6.  Examination of the Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, and Xenobiotic-Inducing Potential of Broccoli Extract and Various Essential Oils during a Mild DSS-Induced Colitis in Rats 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2013;2013:710856.
Phytogenic compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are currently discussed as promising complementary agents in prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our study aimed to evaluate possible protective and curative effects of broccoli extract (BE) and of the essential oils of turmeric (Cuo), thyme (To), and rosemary (Ro) in a rat model with a mild dextran sulphate sodium- (DSS-) induced colitis. Therefore Wistar rats were fed a diet without an additive (Con) or diets with the addition of BE, Cuo, To, and Ro during the whole experiment. Pretreatment with Ro, Cuo, and To increased the expression of the tight junction protein Cldn3. All additives reduced mRNA of VCAM-1 which plays a crucial role in the first state of inflammatory response. Only Ro pretreatment affected the expression of the antioxidant enzymes HO1, GPx2, and of glutathione-S-transferases. All additives counteracted the DSS-induced rise in COX2 and VCAM-1 expression. Colonic IL-10 was increased by Cuo, To, and Ro. During the recovery phase DSS pretreatment increased NFκB, VCAM-1, and MCP-1: This response was counter-regulated by all additives. We conclude that the phytogenic additives tested have a promising anti-inflammatory potential in vivo and a particular role in the prevention of IBD.
doi:10.1155/2013/710856
PMCID: PMC3603549  PMID: 23533793
7.  Malformations in a cohort of 284 women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH) 
Background
The aim of this retrospective study was to describe the spectrum of genital and associated malformations in women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome using evaluated diagnostic procedures and the Vagina Cervix Uterus Adnex – associated Malformation classification system (VCUAM).
Methods
290 women with MRKH syndrome were clinically evaluated with using clinical examinations, abdominal and perineal/rectal ultrasound, MRI, and laparoscopy.
Results
Classification of female genital malformation according to the Vagina Cervix Uterus Adnex – associated Malformation classification system was possible in 284 women (97.9%). Complete atresia of Vagina (V5b) and bilateral atresia of Cervix (C2b) were found in 284 patients (100%). Uterus: bilateral rudimentary or a plastic uterine horns were found in 239 women (84.2%). Adnexa: normal Adnexa were found in 248 women (87.3%). Malformations: associated malformations were found in 126 of 282 evaluable women (44.7%), 84 women (29.6%) had malformations of the renal system. Of 284 women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome 212 women (74.7%) could be classified as V5bC2bU4bA0. The most frequent classification was V5bC2bU4bA0M0 (46.8%) diagnosed in 133 of 284 women.
Conclusions
Complete atresia of vagina and cervix were found in all patients, variable malformations were found with uterus and adnexa. A variety of associated malformations were present, predominantly of the renal system. It is therefore recommended that all patients with genital malformations should be evaluated for renal abnormalities.
doi:10.1186/1477-7827-10-57
PMCID: PMC3489887  PMID: 22906151
MRKH syndrome; Diagnosis; Staging; Malformations; VCUAM; Renal abnormalities
8.  inVestIgating the pSychologIcal and ecONomic impAct of cataRact surgerY in Vietnam: The VISIONARY observational study protocol 
BMC Ophthalmology  2011;11:25.
Background
Visual impairment caused by cataracts not only affects an individual's quality of life but can also have a profound impact on other important psychological factors and on the economic circumstances of individuals and their households. Cataract surgery is an effective intervention to restore vision and is also associated with other positive consequences including improvements in quality of life, economic and psychological outcomes. While there has been an increase in the number and quality of cataract surgeries performed in Vietnam, the programs currently in place are still unable to meet the existing demand and need for surgery. Data on both the cost-effectiveness of cataract surgery and the economic and psychological impact of untreated cataract in this setting is lacking.
Methods/Design
This study, investigating the psychological and economic impact of cataract surgery in Vietnam (VISIONARY), will recruit and interview a sample of adults (18 years or over) who are referred for cataract surgery by one of the following sites and their outreach programs: Hue Eye Hospital; Thai Binh Eye Hospital; Binh Dinh Department of Health Eye Hospital and the Vinh Long Department of Health Social Disease Centre. All participants (those who have cataract surgery and those who do not have surgery) will be followed up at six and 12 months.
Discussion
This study is designed to examine the impact of low vision on household economic circumstances and psychological outcomes as well as to investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cataract surgery in Vietnam. It will help to inform international and national non-government organisations working in the country and local policy-makers on priorities for further investment in eye-health services in this setting and their relevance to broader economic development goals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2415-11-25
PMCID: PMC3184276  PMID: 21910894
9.  Discriminating between ADHD adults and controls using independent ERP components and a support vector machine: a validation study 
Background
There are numerous event-related potential (ERP) studies in relation to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and a substantial number of ERP correlates of the disorder have been identified. However, most of the studies are limited to group differences in children. Independent component analysis (ICA) separates a set of mixed event-related potentials into a corresponding set of statistically independent source signals, which are likely to represent different functional processes. Using a support vector machine (SVM), a classification method originating from machine learning, this study aimed at investigating the use of such independent ERP components in differentiating adult ADHD patients from non-clinical controls by selecting a most informative feature set. A second aim was to validate the predictive power of the SVM classifier by means of an independent ADHD sample recruited at a different laboratory.
Methods
Two groups of age-matched adults (75 ADHD, 75 controls) performed a visual two stimulus go/no-go task. ERP responses were decomposed into independent components, and a selected set of independent ERP component features was used for SVM classification.
Results
Using a 10-fold cross-validation approach, classification accuracy was 91%. Predictive power of the SVM classifier was verified on the basis of the independent ADHD sample (17 ADHD patients), resulting in a classification accuracy of 94%. The latency and amplitude measures which in combination differentiated best between ADHD patients and non-clinical subjects primarily originated from independent components associated with inhibitory and other executive operations.
Conclusions
This study shows that ERPs can substantially contribute to the diagnosis of ADHD when combined with up-to-date methods.
doi:10.1186/1753-4631-5-5
PMCID: PMC3149569  PMID: 21771289
11.  The Microbiota Mediates Pathogen Clearance from the Gut Lumen after Non-Typhoidal Salmonella Diarrhea 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001097.
Many enteropathogenic bacteria target the mammalian gut. The mechanisms protecting the host from infection are poorly understood. We have studied the protective functions of secretory antibodies (sIgA) and the microbiota, using a mouse model for S. typhimurium diarrhea. This pathogen is a common cause of diarrhea in humans world-wide. S. typhimurium (S. tmatt, sseD) causes a self-limiting gut infection in streptomycin-treated mice. After 40 days, all animals had overcome the disease, developed a sIgA response, and most had cleared the pathogen from the gut lumen. sIgA limited pathogen access to the mucosal surface and protected from gut inflammation in challenge infections. This protection was O-antigen specific, as demonstrated with pathogens lacking the S. typhimurium O-antigen (wbaP, S. enteritidis) and sIgA-deficient mice (TCRβ−/−δ−/−, JH−/−, IgA−/−, pIgR−/−). Surprisingly, sIgA-deficiency did not affect the kinetics of pathogen clearance from the gut lumen. Instead, this was mediated by the microbiota. This was confirmed using ‘L-mice’ which harbor a low complexity gut flora, lack colonization resistance and develop a normal sIgA response, but fail to clear S. tmatt from the gut lumen. In these mice, pathogen clearance was achieved by transferring a normal complex microbiota. Thus, besides colonization resistance ( = pathogen blockage by an intact microbiota), the microbiota mediates a second, novel protective function, i.e. pathogen clearance. Here, the normal microbiota re-grows from a state of depletion and disturbed composition and gradually clears even very high pathogen loads from the gut lumen, a site inaccessible to most “classical” immune effector mechanisms. In conclusion, sIgA and microbiota serve complementary protective functions. The microbiota confers colonization resistance and mediates pathogen clearance in primary infections, while sIgA protects from disease if the host re-encounters the same pathogen. This has implications for curing S. typhimurium diarrhea and for preventing transmission.
Author Summary
Numerous pathogens infect the gut. Protection against these infections is mediated by mucosal immune defenses including secreted IgA as well as by the competing intestinal microbiota. However, so far the relative importance of these two different defense mechanisms remains unclear. We addressed this question using the example of non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) gut infections which can be spread in stool of infected patients over long periods of time. We used a mouse model to reveal that the intestinal microbiota and the adaptive immune system hold different but complementary functions in fighting NTS infections. A primary Salmonella infection disrupts the normal microbiota and elicits Salmonella-specific sIgA. sIgA prevents disease when the animal is infected with NTS for a second time. However, sIgA was dispensable for pathogen clearance from the gut. Instead, this was mediated by the microbiota. By re-establishing its normal density and composition, the microbiota was necessary and sufficient for terminating long-term fecal Salmonella excretion. This establishes a novel paradigm: The microbiota clears the pathogen from the gut lumen, while sIgA protects from disease upon re-infection with the same pathogen. This has implications for the evolutionary role of sIgA responses as well as for developing microbiota-based therapies for curing infected patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001097
PMCID: PMC2936549  PMID: 20844578
12.  Classification of ADHD patients on the basis of independent ERP components using a machine learning system  
Nonlinear Biomedical Physics  2010;4(Suppl 1):S1.
Background
In the context of sensory and cognitive-processing deficits in ADHD patients, there is considerable evidence of altered event related potentials (ERP). Most of the studies, however, were done on ADHD children. Using the independent component analysis (ICA) method, ERPs can be decomposed into functionally different components. Using the classification method of support vector machine, this study investigated whether features of independent ERP components can be used for discrimination of ADHD adults from healthy subjects.
Methods
Two groups of age- and sex-matched adults (74 ADHD, 74 controls) performed a visual two stimulus GO/NOGO task. ERP responses were decomposed into independent components by means of ICA. A feature selection algorithm defined a set of independent component features which was entered into a support vector machine.
Results
The feature set consisted of five latency measures in specific time windows, which were collected from four different independent components. The independent components involved were a novelty component, a sensory related and two executive function related components. Using a 10-fold cross-validation approach, classification accuracy was 92%.
Conclusions
This study was a first attempt to classify ADHD adults by means of support vector machine which indicates that classification by means of non-linear methods is feasible in the context of clinical groups. Further, independent ERP components have been shown to provide features that can be used for characterizing clinical populations.
doi:10.1186/1753-4631-4-S1-S1
PMCID: PMC2880795  PMID: 20522259
13.  Glutathione deficiency down-regulates hepatic lipogenesis in rats 
Background
Oxidative stress is supposed to increase lipid accumulation by stimulation of hepatic lipogenesis at transcriptional level. This study was performed to investigate the role of glutathione in the regulation of this process. For that purpose, male rats were treated with buthionine sulfoximine (BSO), a specific inhibitor of γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase, for 7 days and compared with untreated control rats.
Results
BSO treatment caused a significant reduction of total glutathione in liver (-70%), which was attributable to diminished levels of reduced glutathione (GSH, -71%). Glutathione-deficient rats had lower triglyceride concentrations in their livers than the control rats (-23%), whereas the circulating triglycerides and the cholesterol concentrations in plasma and liver were not different between the two groups of rats. Livers of glutathione-deficient rats had lower mRNA abundance of sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP)-1c (-47%), Spot (S)14 (-29%) and diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2 (DGAT-2, -27%) and a lower enzyme activity of fatty acid synthase (FAS, -26%) than livers of the control rats. Glutathione-deficient rats had also a lower hepatic activity of the redox-sensitive protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP)1B, and a higher concentration of irreversible oxidized PTP1B than control rats. No differences were observed in protein expression of total PTP1B and the mature mRNA encoding active XBP1s, a key regulator of unfolded protein and ER stress response.
Conclusion
This study shows that glutathione deficiency lowers hepatic triglyceride concentrations via influencing lipogenesis. The reduced activity of PTP1B and the higher concentration of irreversible oxidized PTP1B could be, at least in part, responsible for this effect.
doi:10.1186/1476-511X-9-50
PMCID: PMC2881051  PMID: 20482862
14.  Influence of Early Nutritional Components on the Development of Murine Autoimmune Diabetes 
Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism  2009;54(3):208-217.
Background/Aims
Infant diet is suggested to modify autoimmune diabetes risk. The aim of this study was to determine whether infant food components affect diabetes development in the nonobese autoimmune diabetes (NOD) mouse.
Methods
A basal low-diabetogenic diet was identified by feeding litter-matched female NOD mice standardized diets with and without casein and wheat proteins after weaning. In subsequent trials, basal diet with supplements of wheat (5, 10 and 30%), gluten, wheat globulin/albumin, corn (5%), potato (5%), apple (5%) or carrot (5%) was fed to litter-matched female NOD mice after weaning. Mice were followed for diabetes development and insulin autoantibodies.
Results
A casein- and wheat-free diet was associated with the lowest rate of diabetes development (37% by age 25 weeks). Increased diabetes rates were observed when the basal diet was supplemented with 5% wheat (71% by age 25 weeks; p = 0.023) and 5% corn (57% by age 25 weeks; p = 0.05). Increasing wheat concentrations returned diabetes development to that in basal diet-fed mice. Other food supplements had no or minimal effects on diabetes development.
Conclusions
Early supplementation of a basal low-diabetogenic diet with low concentrations of the cereals wheat or corn is associated with a moderate increase in the rate of diabetes. Removal of cereals, however, does not abrogate diabetes development in NOD mice.
doi:10.1159/000220416
PMCID: PMC2814014  PMID: 19478481
Type 1 diabetes; Autoimmunity; NOD mice; Diet; Prevention; Gluten; Casein
15.  Leaving out control groups: an internal contrast analysis of gene expression profiles in atrial fibrillation patients ‐ A systems biology approach to clinical categorization 
Bioinformation  2009;3(6):275-278.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a frequent chronic dysrythmia with an incidence that increases with age (>40). Because of its medical and socio-economic impacts it is expected to become an increasing burden on most health care systems. AF is a multi-factorial disease for which the identification of subtypes is warranted. Novel approaches based on the broad concepts of systems biology may overcome the blurred notion of normal and pathological phenotype, which is inherent to high throughput molecular arrays analysis. Here we apply an internal contrast algorithm on AF patient data with an analytical focus on potential entry pathways into the disease. We used a RMA (Robust Multichip Average) normalized Affymetrix micro-array data set from 10 AF patients (geo_accession #GSE2240). Four series of probes were selected based on physiopathogenic links with AF entryways: apoptosis (remodeling), MAP kinase (cell remodeling), OXPHOS (ability to sustain hemodynamic workload) and glycolysis (ischemia). Annotated probe lists were polled with Bioconductor packages in R (version 2.7.1). Genetic profile contrasts were analysed with hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis. The analysis revealed distinct patient groups for all probe sets. A substantial part (54% till 67%) of the variance is explained in the first 2 principal components. Genes in PC1/2 with high discriminatory value were selected and analyzed in detail. We aim for reliable molecular stratification of AF. We show that stratification is possible based on physiologically relevant gene sets. Genes with high contrast value are likely to give pathophysiological insight into permanent AF subtypes.
PMCID: PMC2649423  PMID: 19255648
atrial fibrillation; gene expression; Robust Multichip Average; genetic profile
16.  Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an altered circulatory aggrecan profile 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic auto-immune disease with extensive articular cartilage destruction. Aggrecan depletion, mediated by aggrecanases is one of the first signs of early cartilage erosion. We investigated, whether measurement of aggrecan and fragments thereof in serum, could be used as biomarkers for joint-disease in RA patients and furthermore characterized the fragments found in the circulation.
Methods
The study consisted of 38 patients, 12 males (62.2 ± 16.0 years) and 26 females (59.8 ± 20.7 years) diagnosed with RA: 41.5 ± 27.5 mm/h erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), 38.4 ± 34.7 mg/ml C-reactive protein (CRP) and 4.8 ± 1.7 disease activity score (DAS) and 108 healthy age-matched controls. Aggrecan levels were measured using two immunoassays, i.e. the 374ARGSVI-G2 sandwich ELISA measuring aggrecanase-mediated aggrecan degradation and the G1/G2 sandwich assay, detecting aggrecan molecules containing G1 and/or G2 (total aggrecan) We further characterized serum samples by western blots, by using monoclonal antibodies F-78, binding to G1 and G2, or by BC-3, detecting the aggrecanase-generated N-terminal 374ARGSVI neo-epitope.
Results
Total aggrecan levels in RA patients were significantly decreased from 824.8 ± 31 ng/ml in healthy controls to 570.5 ± 30 ng/ml (31% decrease, P < 0.0001), as measured by the G1/G2 ELISA. Western blot analysis with F-78 showed one strong band at 10 kDa, and weaker bands at 25 and 45 kDa in both healthy controls and RA patients. In contrast, staining for aggrecanase-activity revealed only one strong band in RA patients of 45 kDa.
Conclusion
This is the first study, which characterizes different aggrecan fragments in human serum. The data strongly suggests that total aggrecan levels, i.e. aggrecan molecules containing G1 and/or G2 are lower in RA patients, and that RA patients have at least one specific subpopulation of aggrecan fragments, namely aggrecanse generated 374ARGSVI fragments. Further clinical studies are needed to investigate the potential of G1/G2 as a structure-related biochemical marker in destructive joint-diseases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-74
PMCID: PMC2426686  PMID: 18507823
17.  Cancer and fertility preservation: fertility preservation in breast cancer patients 
Aggressive chemotherapy has improved the life expectancy for reproductive-age women with breast cancer, but it often causes infertility or premature ovarian failure due to destruction of the ovarian reserve. Many questions concerning fertility preservation in breast cancer patients remain unanswered – for example, whether fertility preservation methods interfere with chemotherapy, and whether subsequent pregnancy has negative effects on the prognosis. Fertility preservation is a critical factor in decision-making for younger breast cancer patients, however, and clinicians should address this. The present article reviews the incidence of chemotherapy-induced amenorrhea, and discusses fertility-preservation options and the prognosis for patients who become pregnant after breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/bcr1991
PMCID: PMC2397531  PMID: 18492214
18.  Low CD4 count plus coma predicts cryptococcal meningitis in Tanzania 
Background
Largely due to the lack of diagnostic reagents, the prevalence and clinical presentation of cryptococcal meningitis in Tanzania is poorly understood. This in turn is limiting the impact of increased fluconazole availability.
Methods
We evaluated a cohort of 149 consecutive HIV-infected adult inpatients presenting with headache or altered mental status for clinical features, CD4 count, cryptococcal infection, and outcome. Cryptococcal meningitis was diagnosed via India ink and latex agglutination assay of CSF (n = 24 and 40 positive, respectively). Associations between cryptococcal meningitis and clinical features were evaluated by t-test. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive likelihood ratio of such features were determined.
Results
Cryptococcal meningitis was associated with confusion, social withdrawal, seizures, fever, tachycardia, meningismus, oral candidiasis, and low Glasgow coma scales and CD4 count. CD4 count < 100/μl provided the highest sensitivity for the diagnosis (93%), coma (Glasgow coma scale ≤ 8) provided the highest specificity (84%), and the combination provided the highest positive likelihood ratio (3.8). All cryptococcal meningitis patients were initiated on 800 milligrams of fluconazole daily and 50% survived to discharge, however no clinical or laboratory findings correlated with prognosis.
Conclusion
Cryptococcal meningitis is common among Tanzanian HIV inpatients presenting with headache or altered mental status. Purely clinical features are insensitive for establishing the diagnosis or prognosis. We advocate expanding laboratory capacity for cryptococcal antigen testing to maximize survival.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-39
PMCID: PMC1876460  PMID: 17493266

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