The patterns of health service use by rural and remote residents are poorly understood and under-represented in national surveys. This paper examines professional and non-professional service use for mental health problems in rural and remote communities in Australia.
A stratified random sample of adults was drawn from non-metropolitan regions of New South Wales, Australia as part of a longitudinal population-based cohort. One-quarter (27.7%) of the respondents were from remote or very remote regions. The socio-demographic, health status and service utilization (professional and non-professional) characteristics of 2150 community dwelling residents are described. Hierarchical logistic regressions were used to identify cross-sectional associations between socio-demographic, health status and professional and non-professional health service utilization variables.
The overall rate of professional contacts for mental health problems during the previous 12 months (17%) in this rural population exceeded the national rate (11.9%). Rates for psychologists and psychiatrists were similar but rates for GPs were higher (12% vs. 8.1%). Non-professional contact rates were 12%. Higher levels of help seeking were associated with the absence of a partner, poorer finances, severity of mental health problems, and higher levels of adversity. Remoteness was associated with lower utilization of non-professional support. A Provisional Service Need Index was devised, and it demonstrated a broad dose–response relationship between severity of mental health problems and the likelihood of seeking any professional or non-professional help. Nevertheless, 47% of those with estimated high service need had no contact with professional services.
An examination of self-reported patterns of professional and non-professional service use for mental health problems in a rural community cohort revealed relatively higher rates of general practitioner attendance for such problems compared with data from metropolitan centres. Using a measure of Provisional Service Need those with greater needs were more likely to access specialist services, even in remote regions, although a substantial proportion of those with the highest service need sought no professional help. Geographic and financial barriers to service use were identified and perception of service adequacy was relatively low, especially among those with the highest levels of distress and greatest adversity.
Health service utilisation; Mental health; Rural health
Excessive alcohol use is a significant problem in rural and remote Australia. The factors contributing to patterns of alcohol use have not been adequately explained, yet the geographic variation in rates suggests a potential contribution of district-level factors, such as socio-economic disadvantage, rates of population change, environmental adversity, and remoteness from services/population centres. This paper aims to investigate individual-level and district-level predictors of alcohol use in a sample of rural adults.
Using baseline survey data (N = 1,981) from the population-based Australian Rural Mental Health Study of community dwelling residents randomly selected from the Australia electoral roll, hierarchal logistic regression models were fitted for three outcomes: 1) at-risk alcohol use, indicated by Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scores ≥8; 2) high alcohol consumption (> 40 drinks per month); and 3) lifetime consequences of alcohol use. Predictor variables included demographic factors, pre-dispositional factors, recent difficulties and support, mental health, rural exposure and district-level contextual factors.
Gender, age, marital status, and personality made the largest contribution to at-risk alcohol use. Five or more adverse life events in the past 12 months were also independently associated with at-risk alcohol use (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 3.3, 99%CI 1.2, 8.9). When these individual-level factors were controlled for, at-risk alcohol use was associated with having spent a lower proportion of time living in a rural district (AOR 1.7, 99%CI 1.3, 2.9). Higher alcohol consumption per month was associated with higher district-level socio-economic ranking, indicating less disadvantage (AOR 1.2, 99%CI 1.02, 1.4). Rural exposure and district-level contextual factors were not significantly associated with lifetime consequences of alcohol use.
Although recent attention has been directed towards the potential adverse health effects of district or community level adversity across rural regions, our study found relatively few district-level factors contributing to at-risk alcohol consumption after controlling for individual-level factors. Population-based prevention strategies may be most beneficial in rural areas with a higher socio-economic ranking, while individual attention should be focused towards rural residents with multiple recent adverse life events, and people who have spent less time residing in a rural area.
Alcohol; Mental health; Rural health
Allograft rejection remains a major limitation to successful solid organ transplantation. Here, we investigated the biosynthesis and bioactions of the pro-resolving mediators lipoxin A4 and resolvin E1 in host responses to organ transplantation. In samples obtained during screening bronchoscopy after human lung transplantation, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid levels of lipoxin A4 were increased in association with the severity of allograft rejection that was graded independently by clinical pathology. Lipoxin A4 significantly inhibited calcineurin activation in human neutrophils, and lipoxin A4 stable analogs prevented acute rejection of vascularized cardiac and renal allografts. Transgenic animals expressing human lipoxin A4 receptors revealed important sites of action in host tissues for lipoxin A4’s protective effects. Resolvin E1 displays counter-regulatory actions for leukocytes, in part, via increased lipoxin A4 biosynthesis, yet RvE1 administered (1 µg, iv) to donor (days −1 and 0) and recipient mice (day −1, 0 and +4) was even more potent than a lipoxin stable analog (1 µg, iv) in prolonging renal allograft survival (median survival time = 74.0 days with RvE1 and 37.5 days with a LXA4 analog). Together, these results highlight the potential for pro-resolving mediators in prolonging survival of solid organ transplants.
While integrated primary healthcare for the management of depression has been well researched, appropriate models of primary care for people with severe and persistent psychotic disorders are poorly understood. In 2010 the NSW (Australia) Health Department commissioned a review of the evidence on "shared care" models of ambulatory mental health services. This focussed on critical factors in the implementation of these models in clinical practice, with a view to providing policy direction. The review excluded evidence about dementia, substance use and personality disorders.
A rapid review involving a search for systematic reviews on The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE). This was followed by a search for papers published since these systematic reviews on Medline and supplemented by limited iterative searching from reference lists.
Shared care trials report improved mental and physical health outcomes in some clinical settings with improved social function, self management skills, service acceptability and reduced hospitalisation. Other benefits include improved access to specialist care, better engagement with and acceptability of mental health services. Limited economic evaluation shows significant set up costs, reduced patient costs and service savings often realised by other providers. Nevertheless these findings are not evident across all clinical groups. Gains require substantial cross-organisational commitment, carefully designed and consistently delivered interventions, with attention to staff selection, training and supervision. Effective models incorporated linkages across various service levels, clinical monitoring within agreed treatment protocols, improved continuity and comprehensiveness of services.
"Shared Care" models of mental health service delivery require attention to multiple levels (from organisational to individual clinicians), and complex service re-design. Re-evaluation of the roles of specialist mental health staff is a critical requirement. As expected, no one model of "shared" care fits diverse clinical groups. On the basis of the available evidence, we recommended a local trial that examined the process of implementation of core principles of shared care within primary care and specialist mental health clinical services.
Fenfluramine is prescribed either alone or in combination with phentermine as part of Fen-Phen, an anti-obesity medication. Fenfluramine was withdrawn from the US market in 1997 due to reports of heart valvular disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and cardiac fibrosis. Particularly, idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH), previously referred to as primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), was found to be associated with the use of Fen-Phen, fenfluramine, and fenfluramine derivatives. The underlying mechanism of fenfluramine-associated pulmonary hypertension is still largely unknown. We reasoned that investigating drug-induced gene dysregulation would enhance our understanding of the fenfluramine-associated pathogenic mechanism of IPAH. Whole-genome gene expression profiles in fenfluramine-treated human pulmonary artery smooth muscle (PASMC) and endothelial (PAEC) cells (isolated from normal subjects) were compared with baseline expression in untreated cells. Fenfluramine treatment caused dysregulation in a substantial number of genes involved in a variety of pathways and biological processes. In addition to several common pathways and biological processes such as “MAPK signaling pathway,” “inflammation response,” and “calcium signaling pathway” shared between both cell types, pathways and biological processes such as “blood circulation,” “muscle system process,” and “immune response” were enriched among the dysregulated genes in PASMC. Pathways and biological processes such as those related to cell cycle, however, were enriched among the dysregulated genes in PAEC, indicating that fenfluramine could affect unique pathways (or differentially) in different types of pulmonary artery cells. While awaiting validation in a larger cohort, these results strongly suggested that fenfluramine could induce significant dysregulation of genes in multiple biological processes and pathways critical for normal pulmonary vascular functions and structure. The transcriptional and posttranscriptional changes in these genes may, therefore, contribute to the pathogenesis of fenfluramine-associated IPAH.
anorexigen; gene expression profile; lysosome; mitochondria; pulmonary hypertension
Pulmonary surfactant protein D (SP-D), a member of the collectin family, is an innate immune molecule critical for defense that can also modulate adaptive immune responses. We previously showed that SP-D deficient mice exhibit enhanced allergic responses, and that SP-D induction requires lymphocytes. Thus, we postulated that SP-D may decrease adaptive allergic responses through interaction with T cells. In this study, we used two forms of SP-D, a dodecamer (SP-D dodec) and a shorter fragment containing the trimeric neck and carbohydrate recognition domains (SP-D NCRD). Both forms decreased immune responses in vitro and in a murine model of pulmonary inflammation. SP-D NCRD increased transcription of cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4), a negative regulator of T cell activation, in T cells. SP-D NCRD no longer decreased lymphoproliferation and IL-2 cytokine production when CTLA4 signals were abrogated. Administration of SP-D NCRD in vivo no longer decreased allergen induced responses when CTLA4 was inhibited. Our results indicate that SP-D decreases allergen responses, an effect that may be mediated by increase of CTLA4 in T cells.
SP-D; CTLA4; allergy; inflammation
Acute lung injury (ALI) is a frequent pulmonary complication in critically ill patients. We characterized a murine model of LPS-induced ALI, focusing on T helper cells. Following LPS administration, BAL lymphocytes were increased as well as neutrophils, IL-6, TNF-α, and albumin. Analysis of LPS-induced T cells revealed increased T helper cell associated cytokines (IL-17A, IL-17F, and IL-22), expression of CD69, a cell activation marker, forkhead box P3 (Foxp3), and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4) in CD4+ T cells. Administration of anti-CTLA4 antibody decreased LPS-induced BAL albumin and IL-17A, while increasing CD4+Foxp3+ cell number and Foxp3 expression in CD4+Foxp3+ cells. These data suggest that pulmonary LPS administration promotes CD4+ T cells and that T cell pathways involving CTLA4 contribute to ALI.
T cells; CTLA4; LPS; acute lung injury
With the move to community care and increased involvement of generalist health care providers in mental health, the need for health service partnerships has been emphasised in mental health policy. Within existing health system structures the active strategies that facilitate effective partnership linkages are not clear. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence from peer reviewed literature regarding the effectiveness of service linkages in primary mental health care.
A narrative and thematic review of English language papers published between 1998 and 2009. Studies of analytic, descriptive and qualitative designs from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Europe, USA and Canada were included. Data were extracted to examine what service linkages have been used in studies of collaboration in primary mental health care. Findings from the randomised trials were tabulated to show the proportion that demonstrated clinical, service delivery and economic benefits.
A review of 119 studies found ten linkage types. Most studies used a combination of linkage types and so the 42 RCTs were grouped into four broad linkage categories for meaningful descriptive analysis of outcomes. Studies that used multiple linkage strategies from the suite of "direct collaborative activities" plus "agreed guidelines" plus "communication systems" showed positive clinical (81%), service (78%) and economic (75%) outcomes. Most evidence of effectiveness came from studies of depression. Long term benefits were attributed to medication concordance and the use of case managers with a professional background who received expert supervision. There were fewer randomised trials related to collaborative care of people with psychosis and there were almost none related to collaboration with the wider human service sectors. Because of the variability of study types we did not exclude on quality or attempt to weight findings according to power or effect size.
There is strong evidence to support collaborative primary mental health care for people with depression when linkages involve "direct collaborative activity", plus "agreed guidelines" and "communication systems".
Narrative review; mental health services; primary health care; cooperative behaviour
Primary care services have not generally been effective in meeting mental health care needs. There is evidence that collaboration between primary care and specialist mental health services can improve clinical and organisational outcomes. It is not clear however what factors enable or hinder effective collaboration. The objective of this study was to examine the factors that enable effective collaboration between specialist mental health services and primary mental health care.
A narrative and thematic review of English language papers published between 1998 and 2009. An expert reference group helped formulate strategies for policy makers. Studies of descriptive and qualitative design from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Europe, USA and Canada were included. Data were extracted on factors reported as enablers or barriers to development of service linkages. These were tabulated by theme at clinical and organisational levels and the inter-relationship between themes was explored.
A thematic analysis of 30 papers found the most frequently cited group of factors was "partnership formation", specifically role clarity between health care workers. Other factor groups supporting clinical partnership formation were staff support, clinician attributes, clinic physical features and evaluation and feedback. At the organisational level a supportive institutional environment of leadership and change management was important. The expert reference group then proposed strategies for collaboration that would be seen as important, acceptable and feasible. Because of the variability of study types we did not exclude on quality and findings are weighted by the number of studies. Variability in local service contexts limits the generalisation of findings.
The findings provide a framework for health planners to develop effective service linkages in primary mental health care. Our expert reference group proposed five areas of strategy for policy makers that address organisational level support, joint clinical problem solving, local joint care guidelines, staff training and supervision and feedback.
Narrative review; mental health services; primary health care; cooperative behaviour
The diagnosis of rejection in kidney transplant patients is based on histologic classification of a graft biopsy. The current “gold standard” is the Banff 97 criteria; however, there are several limitations in classifying rejection based on biopsy samples. First, a biopsy involves an invasive procedure. Second, there is significant variance among blinded pathologists in the interpretation of a biopsy. And third, there is also variance between the histology and the molecular profiles of a biopsy. To increase the positive predictive value of classifiers of rejection, a Banff committee is developing criteria that integrate histologic and molecular data into a unified classifier that could diagnose and prognose rejection. To develop the most appropriate molecular criteria, there have been studies by multiple groups applying omics technologies in attempts to identify biomarkers of rejection. In this review, we discuss studies using genome-wide data sets of the transcriptome and proteome to investigate acute rejection, chronic allograft dysfunction, and tolerance. We also discuss studies which focus on genetic biomarkers in urine and peripheral blood, which will provide clinicians with minimally invasive methods for monitoring transplant patients. We also discuss emerging technologies, including whole-exome sequencing and RNA-Seq and new bioinformatic and systems biology approaches, which should increase the ability to develop both biomarkers and mechanistic understanding of the rejection process.
Kidney transplantation; Acute rejection; Chronic rejection; Rna-seq; Genomics; Microarrays; Modulated genes
To fulfil its role of coordinating health care, primary health care needs to be well integrated, internally and with other health and related services. In Australia, primary health care services are divided between public and private sectors, are responsible to different levels of government and work under a variety of funding arrangements, with no overarching policy to provide a common frame of reference for their activities.
Description of policy
Over the past decade, coordination of service provision has been improved by changes to the funding of private medical and allied health services for chronic conditions, by the development in some states of voluntary networks of services and by local initiatives, although these have had little impact on coordination of planning. Integrated primary health care centres are being established nationally and in some states, but these are too recent for their impact to be assessed. Reforms being considered by the federal government include bringing primary health care under one level of government with a national primary health care policy, establishing regional organisations to coordinate health planning, trialling voluntary registration of patients with general practices and reforming funding systems. If adopted, these could greatly improve integration within primary health care.
Careful change management and realistic expectations will be needed. Also other challenges remain, in particular the need for developing a more population and community oriented primary health care.
primary health care; health policy; integration; Australia
Workforce shortages in Australia are occurring across a range of health disciplines but are most acute in general practice. Skill mix change such as task substitution is one solution to workforce shortages. The aim of this systematic review was to explore the evidence for the effectiveness of task substitution between GPs and pharmacists and GPs and nurses for the care of older people with chronic disease. Published, peer reviewed (black) and non-peer reviewed (grey) literature were included in the review if they met the inclusion criteria.
Forty-six articles were included in the review. Task substitution between pharmacists and GPs and nurses and GPs resulted in an improved process of care and patient outcomes, such as improved disease control. The interventions were either health promotion or disease management according to guidelines or use of protocols, or a mixture of both. The results of this review indicate that pharmacists and nurses can effectively provide disease management and/or health promotion for older people with chronic disease in primary care. While there were improvements in patient outcomes no reduction in health service use was evident.
When implementing skill mix changes such as task substitution it is important that the health professionals' roles are complementary otherwise they may simply duplicate the task performed by other health professionals. This has implications for the way in which multidisciplinary teams are organised in initiatives such as the GP Super Clinics.
Proteomic profiling using mass spectrometry (MS) is one of the most promising methods for the analysis of complex biological samples such as urine, serum and tissue for biomarker discovery. Such experiments are often conducted using MALDI-TOF (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight) and SELDI-TOF (surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight) MS. Using such profiling methods it is possible to identify changes in protein expression that differentiate disease states and individual proteins or patterns that may be useful as potential biomarkers. However, the incorporation of quality control (QC) processes that allow the identification of low quality spectra reliably and hence allow the removal of such data before further analysis is often overlooked. In this paper we describe rigorous methods for the assessment of quality of spectral data. These procedures are presented in a user-friendly, web-based program. The data obtained post-QC is then examined using variance components analysis to quantify the amount of variance due to some of the factors in the experimental design.
Using data from a SELDI profiling study of serum from patients with different levels of renal function, we show how the algorithms described in this paper may be used to detect systematic variability within and between sample replicates, pooled samples and SELDI chips and spots. Manual inspection of those spectral data that were identified as being of poor quality confirmed the efficacy of the algorithms. Variance components analysis demonstrated the relatively small amount of technical variance attributable to day of profile generation and experimental array.
Using the techniques described in this paper it is possible to reliably detect poor quality data within proteomic profiling experiments undertaken by MS. The removal of these spectra at the initial stages of the analysis substantially improves the confidence of putative biomarker identification and allows inter-experimental comparisons to be carried out with greater confidence.
The paper examines the key issues experienced in recruiting and retaining practice involvement in a large complex intervention trial in Australian General Practice.
Reflective notes made by research staff and telephone interviews with staff from general practices which expressed interest, took part or withdrew from a trial of a complex general practice intervention.
Recruitment and retention difficulties were due to factors inherent in the demands and context of general practice, the degree of engagement of primary care organisations (Divisions of General Practice), perceived benefits by practices, the design of the trial and the timing and complexity of data collection.
There needs to be clearer articulation to practices of the benefits of the research to participants and streamlining of the design and processes of data collection and intervention to fit in with their work practices. Ultimately deeper engagement may require additional funding and ongoing participation through practice research networks.
Current Controlled Trials ACTRN12605000788673
This study investigated conditions leading to contextual control by stimulus topography over transfer of functions. Three 4-member stimulus equivalence classes, each consisting of four (A, B, C, D) topographically distinct visual stimuli, were established for 5 college students. Across classes, designated A stimuli were open-ended linear figures, B stimuli were circular, C stimuli three-sided, and D stimuli four-sided. Three different computer tasks then were trained with the B stimuli. Differential reinforcement and punishment procedures were then used to establish control over function transfer by the topography of the class members. For Task 1, function transfer, responding to C and D stimuli as subjects had to B stimuli, was reinforced. For Task 2, function transfer was reinforced for C stimuli but punished for D stimuli. For Task 3, function transfer was punished for both C and D stimuli. New equivalence classes were then established and tests for generalized contextual control were presented. All 5 subjects showed generalized contextual control of transfer of functions by stimulus topography. Implications of contextual control over function transfer in natural settings are discussed.
stimulus equivalence; transformation of function; transfer of function; contextual control; stimulus topography; button press; humans
Maternal and perinatal environmental exposures, as well as inherited factors, may influence neonatal immune responses.
To determine relations of maternal and perinatal exposures to antigen-specific cord blood lymphoproliferative responses.
In 427 newborns from a Boston pregnancy/birth cohort, lymphoproliferative responses in cord blood mononuclear cells to stimulation with cockroach (Bla g 2), house dust mite (Der f 1), ovalbumin, and mitogen phytohemagglutinin were measured as stimulation index (SI). We used the Wilcoxon rank sum and χ2 tests to evaluate predictors of ovalbumin SI as a continuous ranked or dichotomous outcome. We used t test and Spearman correlation for univariate testing and linear regression to evaluate predictors of natural log-transformed Bla g 2, Der f 1, and phytohemagglutinin SI. Logistic multivariate regression was applied to evaluate predictors of Bla g 2, Der f 1, and phytohemagglutinin SI dichotomized at 2 or at the median for phytohemagglutinin.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy, inadequate or excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy, neonate black race/ethnicity (compared with white), and Apgar score less than 8 were each independently associated with increased cord blood mononuclear cell proliferative responses to stimulation with Bla g 2 and/or Der f 1. Maternal history of asthma was associated only with increased lymphoproliferative response to ovalbumin stimulation.
Distinct fetal and perinatal exposures and black race/ethnicity may be associated with increased cord blood lymphoproliferative responses. The implications of these findings for future development of allergy or asthma are, as yet, unknown.
Background. N-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been hypothesized to have opposing influences on neonatal immune responses that might influence the risk of allergy or asthma. However, both n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and n-6 arachidonic acid (AA) are required for normal fetal development.
Objective. We evaluated whether cord blood fatty acid levels were related to neonatal immune responses and whether n-3 and n-6 PUFA responses differed.
Methods. We examined the relation of cord blood plasma n-3 and n-6 PUFAs (n = 192) to antigen- and mitogen-stimulated cord blood lymphocyte proliferation (n = 191) and cytokine (IL-13 and IFN-γ; n = 167) secretion in a US birth cohort.
Results. Higher levels of n-6 linoleic acid were correlated with higher IL-13 levels in response to Bla g 2 (cockroach, P = .009) and Der f 1 (dust mite, P = .02). Higher n-3 EPA and n-6 AA levels were each correlated with reduced lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ levels in response to Bla g 2 and Der f 1 stimulation. Controlling for potential confounders, EPA and AA had similar independent effects on reduced allergen-stimulated IFN-γ levels. If neonates had either EPA or AA levels in the highest quartile, their Der f 1 IFN-γ levels were 90% lower (P = .0001) than those with both EPA and AA levels in the lowest 3 quartiles. Reduced AA/EPA ratio was associated with reduced allergen-stimulated IFN-γ level.
Conclusion. Increased levels of fetal n-3 EPA and n-6 AA might have similar effects on attenuation of cord blood lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ secretion.
Clinical implications. The implications of these findings for
Asthma; child; cord blood; cytokine; fatty acids; lymphocyte proliferation; AA: Arachidonic acid; BMI: Body mass index; CBMC: Cord blood mononuclear cell; CI: Confidence interval; DHA: Docosohexaenoic acid; EPA: Eicosapentaenoic acid; FA: Fatty acid; LA: Linoleic acid; NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit; OVA: Ovalbumin; PG: Prostaglandin; PUFA: Polyunsaturated fatty acid; SI: Stimulation index
The immunologic signals participating in immune responses early in life have not been completely elucidated. Regarding the characterization of neonatal cells, little is known concerning the activity of transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), which regulates inflammatory genes and cytokine production. The aim of this study was to characterize NF-κB activation in cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC). We analyzed the potential association of NF-κB activity with lymphocyte proliferation and influences on cytokine secretion in the early immune system. To determine the contribution of a disease whereby inheritance may impact neonatal immunity, we assessed the influence of maternal allergic disease on NF-κB regulation and cytokine secretion. CBMC from healthy newborns were isolated and stimulated with mitogen (n = 28). Nuclear extracts were analyzed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay, cytokine secretion by ELISA. FISH analysis excluded relevant maternal contamination of CBMC. All samples showed a positive lymphoproliferative response, and NF-κB activity was both increased and decreased after mitogen stimulation. Increased NF-κB activation was significantly associated with decreased TNF-α secretion (median 6.1 versus 50.3 pg/mL) in unstimulated CBMC. Mitogen stimulation resulted in increased NF-κB activity with a trend to increased IL-13 production. Maternal allergic disease was associated with higher TNF-α (median 982 versus 173 pg/mL) and IL-13 secretion (median 1328 versus 1120 pg/mL) after mitogen stimulation. Together, NF-κB activity is differentially activated in cord blood and associated with a distinct cytokine pattern. Whether differential NF-κB activity in cord blood is related to the subsequent development of immune diseases requires further investigation.
CBMC, cord blood mononuclear cells; EMSA, electrophoretic mobility shift assay; IFN-γ, interferon gamma; NF-κB, nuclear factor kappa B; PHA, phytohemagglutinin; SI, stimulation index; Th, T helper; TNF-α, tumor necrosis factor alpha
Racemic albuterol is an equimolar mixture of two isomers, (R) and (S). Whether (R) and (S) isomers and the combination of both exert different effects in immune activation is not well defined. We analyzed the effects of (R+S)-albuterol, (R)-albuterol and (S)-albuterol in a murine model of allergic pulmonary inflammation and in activated T cells. Mice (C57BL/6) sensitized and aerosol challenged with the allergen ovalbumin (OVA) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS) were treated with (R)-albuterol, (S)-albuterol or (R+S)-albuterol. Following administration of (R)-albuterol, allergen induced bronchoalveolar lavage eosinophils and IgE showed a decrease, albeit not significantly by ANOVA. As T cells are important in allergic inflammation, we asked whether (R+S), (R) or (S)-albuterol might differ in effects on T cells and on the activity of the inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB. In activated T cells, (R)-albuterol administration decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines and NF-κB activity. These studies suggest that (R)-albuterol decreases cytokine secretion and NF-κB activity in T cells.
Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and TLR4 signaling may induce differential secretion of T helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 cytokines, potentially influencing the development of autoimmune or atopic diseases. To date, the influence of the type of stimulus, timing, and dose of TLR2 and TLR4 ligands on cytokine secretion has not been well established. We tested whether the innate stimuli peptidoglycan (Ppg, TLR2 agonist) and lipid A (LpA, TLR4 agonist) differentially affect the secretion of interleukin-13 (IL-13) (Th2) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) (Th1). Further, we examined the influence of the maturity of the immune system, species, dose, and timing of stimuli in human cord and adult peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and murine cells in vitro and in vivo. Stimulation with Ppg induced the secretion of both IL-13 and IFN-γ, influenced by time and dose in neonates, adults, and mice. In contrast, stimulation with LpA induced primarily time-independent and dose-independent production of IFN-γ. Pulmonary administration of Ppg in vivo in mice resulted in secretion of IL-13, whereas administration of LpA resulted in secretion of IFN-γ in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Therefore, TLR2 and TLR4 stimuli differentially influence IL-13 and IFN-γ secretion in neonates, adults, and mice, supporting a critical role for innate stimuli in the modulation of cytokine responses.
When conducting multiple hypothesis tests, it is important to control the number of false positives, or the False Discovery Rate (FDR). However, there is a tradeoff between controlling FDR and maximizing power. Several methods have been proposed, such as the q-value method, to estimate the proportion of true null hypothesis among the tested hypotheses, and use this estimation in the control of FDR. These methods usually depend on the assumption that the test statistics are independent (or only weakly correlated). However, many types of data, for example microarray data, often contain large scale correlation structures. Our objective was to develop methods to control the FDR while maintaining a greater level of power in highly correlated datasets by improving the estimation of the proportion of null hypotheses.
We showed that when strong correlation exists among the data, which is common in microarray datasets, the estimation of the proportion of null hypotheses could be highly variable resulting in a high level of variation in the FDR. Therefore, we developed a re-sampling strategy to reduce the variation by breaking the correlations between gene expression values, then using a conservative strategy of selecting the upper quartile of the re-sampling estimations to obtain a strong control of FDR.
With simulation studies and perturbations on actual microarray datasets, our method, compared to competing methods such as q-value, generated slightly biased estimates on the proportion of null hypotheses but with lower mean square errors. When selecting genes with controlling the same FDR level, our methods have on average a significantly lower false discovery rate in exchange for a minor reduction in the power.
Asthma is a complex polygenic disease involving the interaction of many genes. In this study, we investigated the allergic response in experimental asthma. First, we constructed a biological interaction network using the BOND (Biomolecular Object Network Databank) database of literature curated molecular interactions. Second, we mapped differentially expressed genes from microarray data onto the network. Third, we analyzed the topological characteristics of the modulated genes. Fourth, we analyzed the correlation between the topology and biological function using the Gene Ontology classifications. Our results demonstrate that nodes with high connectivity (hubs and superhubs) tend to have low levels of change in gene expression. The significance of our observations was confirmed by permutation testing. Furthermore, our analysis indicates that hubs and superhubs have significantly different biological functions compared with peripheral nodes based on Gene Ontology classification. Our observations have important ramifications for interpreting gene expression data and understanding biological responses. Thus, our analysis suggests that a combination of differential gene expression plus topological characteristics of the interaction network provides enhanced understanding of the biology in our model of experimental asthma.
allergic asthma; biological network; Gene Ontology; microarray
Maternal atopic background and stimulation of the adaptive immune system with allergen interact in the development of allergic disease. Stimulation of the innate immune system through microbial exposure, such as activation of the innate Toll-like-receptor 2 (TLR2), may reduce the development of allergy in childhood. However, little is known about the immunological effects of microbial stimulation on early immune responses and in association with maternal atopy.
We analyzed immune responses of cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) from 50 healthy neonates (31 non-atopic and 19 atopic mothers). Cells were stimulated with the TLR2 agonist peptidoglycan (Ppg) or the allergen house dust mite Dermatophagoides farinae (Derf1), and results compared to unstimulated cells. We analyzed lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine secretion of CBMC. In addition, we assessed gene expression associated with T regulatory cells including the transcription factor Foxp3, the glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor (GITR), and the cytotoxic lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4). Lymphocyte proliferation was measured by 3H-Thymidine uptake, cytokine concentrations determined by ELISA, mRNA expression of T cell markers by real-time RT-PCR.
Ppg stimulation induced primarily IL-10 cytokine production, in addition to IFN-γ, IL-13 and TNF-α secretion. GITR was increased following Ppg stimulation (p = 0.07). Ppg-induced IL-10 production and induction of Foxp3 were higher in CBMC without, than with maternal atopy (p = 0.04, p = 0.049). IL-10 production was highly correlated with increased expression of Foxp3 (r = 0.53, p = 0.001), GITR (r = 0.47, p = 0.004) and CTLA4 (r = 0.49, p = 0.003), independent of maternal atopy.
TLR2 stimulation with Ppg induces IL-10 and genes associated with T regulatory cells, influenced by maternal atopy. Increased IL-10 and Foxp3 induction in CBMC of non-atopic compared to atopic mothers, may indicate an increased capacity to respond to microbial stimuli.
Mice lacking macrophage elastase (matrix metalloproteinase-12, or MMP-12) were previously shown to be protected from the development of cigarette smoke–induced emphysema and from the accumulation of lung macrophages normally induced by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke. To determine the basis for macrophage accumulation in experimental emphysema, we now show that bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from WT smoke-exposed animals contained chemotactic activity for monocytes in vitro that was absent in lavage fluid from macrophage elastase–deficient mice. Fractionation of the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid demonstrated the presence of elastin fragments only in the fractions containing chemotactic activity. An mAb against elastin fragments eliminated both the in vitro chemotactic activity and cigarette smoke–induced monocyte recruitment to the lung in vivo. Porcine pancreatic elastase was used to recruit monocytes to the lung and to generate emphysema. Elastin fragment antagonism in this model abrogated both macrophage accumulation and airspace enlargement.
The transformation of functions refers to the untrained acquisition of stimulus functions among members of stimulus equivalence classes or relational frames. Although it is widely assumed that contextual control over the transformation of fuctions must exist, this has not yet been conclusively demonstrated in laboratory studies. Four experiments are reported in which (a) stimulus equivalence classes were established, (b) a conditional stimulus function was trained for one member of each of the classes, and (c) multiple-exemplar procedures were used to train and test for contextual control over the transformation of the stimulus function within the classes and to assess whether it generalized to new equivalence classes. Although a significant amount of training was required, the procedures ultimately resulted in the contextual control of function transformation for 9 of 10 participants and generalized contextual control for 4 of 5 participants.