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1.  Cognitive Performance in Men and Women Infected with HIV-1 
Psychiatry Journal  2012;2013:382126.
Introduction. Very few studies have examined the neuropsychological performance of HIV-positive women, and even fewer have attempted a comparison of cognitive functioning by gender. The aim of this study was to describe the nature of the neuropsychological performance of HIV seropositive patients by gender. Methods. A clinical sample made up of 151 subjects was recruited to participate in this study. All of the subjects underwent the same assessment process, consisting of a neuropsychological evaluation and an interview to gather sociodemographic, toxicological, and clinical data. Results and Discussion. Despite the fact that men obtained higher scores in visual memory, attention/psychomotor speed, and abstract reasoning/verbal intelligence, these differences were not statistically significant. In contrast, significant differences were found depending on subjects' serological status. Seropositive participants' neuropsychological performance was significantly lower than that of the seronegative participants in all of the areas assessed as follows: (1) visual memory; (2) attention/psychomotor speed; (3) abstract reasoning/verbal intelligence; (4) verbal memory for texts; (5) verbal memory for digits and words. Conclusions. The results from this study reveal no significant gender differences in the cognitive performance of patients infected with HIV-1.
doi:10.1155/2013/382126
PMCID: PMC3839654  PMID: 24286066
2.  Comparison between xenogeneic and allogeneic adipose mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of acute cerebral infarct: proof of concept in rats 
Background
Rat adipose tissue-derived-mesenchymal stem cells (rAD-MSCs) have proven to be safe in experimental animal models of stroke. However, in order to use human AD-MSCs (hAD-MSCs) as a treatment for stroke patients, a proof of concept is needed. We analyzed whether the xenogeneic hAD-MSCs were as safe and effective as allogeneic rAD-MSCs in permanent Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion (pMCAO) in rats.
Methods
Sprague–Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups, which were intravenously injected with xenogeneic hAD-MSCs (2 × 106), allogeneic rAD-MSCs (2 × 106) or saline (control) at 30 min after pMCAO. Behavior, cell implantation, lesion size and cell death were evaluated. Brain markers such as GFAP (glial fibrillary acid protein), VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) and SYP (synaptophysin) and tumor formation were analyzed.
Results
Compared to controls, recovery was significantly better at 24 h and continued to be so at 14 d after IV administration of either hAD-MSCs or rAD-MSCs. No reduction in lesion size or migration/implantation of cells in the damaged brain were observed in the treatment groups. Nevertheless, cell death was significantly reduced with respect to the control group in both treatment groups. VEGF and SYP levels were significantly higher, while those of GFAP were lower in the treated groups. At three months, there was no tumor formation.
Conclusions
hAD-MSCs and rAD-MSCs were safe and without side effects or tumor formation. Both treatment groups showed equal efficacy in terms of functional recovery and decreased ischemic brain damage (cell death and glial scarring) and resulted in higher angiogenesis and synaptogenesis marker levels.
doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0406-3
PMCID: PMC4322805  PMID: 25637958
Allogeneic and xenogeneic AD-MSCs; Functional recovery; Safety; Stroke
3.  Cognitive conflicts in major depression: Between desired change and personal coherence 
Objectives
The notion of intrapsychic conflict has been present in psychopathology for more than a century within different theoretical orientations. However, internal conflicts have not received enough empirical attention, nor has their importance in depression been fully elaborated. This study is based on the notion of cognitive conflict, understood as implicative dilemma (ID), and on a new way of identifying these conflicts by means of the Repertory Grid Technique. Our aim was to explore the relevance of cognitive conflicts among depressive patients.
Design
Comparison between persons with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder and community controls.
Methods
A total of 161 patients with major depression and 110 non-depressed participants were assessed for presence of IDs and level of symptom severity. The content of these cognitive conflicts was also analysed.
Results
Repertory grid analysis indicated conflict (presence of ID/s) in a greater proportion of depressive patients than in controls. Taking only those grids with conflict, the average number of IDs per person was higher in the depression group.
In addition, participants with cognitive conflicts displayed higher symptom severity. Within the clinical sample, patients with IDs presented lower levels of global functioning and a more frequent history of suicide attempts.
Conclusions
Cognitive conflicts were more prevalent in depressive patients and were associated with clinical severity. Conflict assessment at pre-therapy could aid in treatment planning to fit patient characteristics.
Practitioner points
Internal conflicts have been postulated in clinical psychology for a long time but there is little evidence about its relevance due to the lack of methods to measure them.
We developed a method for identifying conflicts using the Repertory Grid Technique.
Depressive patients have higher presence and number of conflicts than controls.
Conflicts (implicative dilemmas) can be a new target for intervention in depression.
Cautions/Limitations
A cross-sectional design precluded causal conclusions.
The role of implicative dilemmas in the causation or maintenance of depression cannot be ascertained from this study.
doi:10.1111/bjc.12050
PMCID: PMC4231234  PMID: 24734969
Cognitive conflicts; Major depression; Implicative dilemmas; Repertory Grid Technique
4.  Aggression and Courtship in Drosophila: Pheromonal Communication and Sex Recognition 
Upon encountering a conspecific in the wild, males have to rapidly detect, integrate and process the most relevant signals to evoke an appropriate behavioral response. Courtship and aggression are the most important social behaviors in nature for procreation and survival: for males, making the right choice between the two depends on the ability to identify the sex of the other individual. In flies as in most species, males court females and attack other males. Although many sensory modalities are involved in sex recognition, chemosensory communication mediated by specific molecules that serve as pheromones plays a key role in helping males distinguish between courtship and aggression targets. The chemosensory signals used by flies include volatile and non-volatile compounds, detected by the olfactory and gustatory systems. Recently, several putative olfactory and gustatory receptors have been identified that play key roles in sex recognition, allowing investigators to begin to map the neuronal circuits that convey this sensory information to higher processing centers in the brain. Here, we describe how Drosophila melanogaster males use taste and smell to make correct behavioral choices.
doi:10.1007/s00359-013-0851-5
PMCID: PMC3821735  PMID: 24043358
5.  E-proteins orchestrate the progression of neural stem cell differentiation in the postnatal forebrain 
Neural Development  2014;9:23.
Background
Neural stem cell (NSC) differentiation is a complex multistep process that persists in specific regions of the postnatal forebrain and requires tight regulation throughout life. The transcriptional control of NSC proliferation and specification involves Class II (proneural) and Class V (Id1-4) basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins. In this study, we analyzed the pattern of expression of their dimerization partners, Class I bHLH proteins (E-proteins), and explored their putative role in orchestrating postnatal subventricular zone (SVZ) neurogenesis.
Results
Overexpression of a dominant-negative form of the E-protein E47 (dnE47) confirmed a crucial role for bHLH transcriptional networks in postnatal neurogenesis by dramatically blocking SVZ NSC differentiation. In situ hybridization was used in combination with RT-qPCR to measure and compare the level of expression of E-protein transcripts (E2-2, E2A, and HEB) in the neonatal and adult SVZ as well as in magnetic affinity cell sorted progenitor cells and neuroblasts. Our results evidence that E-protein transcripts, in particular E2-2 and E2A, are enriched in the postnatal SVZ with expression levels increasing as cells engage towards neuronal differentiation. To investigate the role of E-proteins in orchestrating lineage progression, both in vitro and in vivo gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments were performed for individual E-proteins. Overexpression of E2-2 and E2A promoted SVZ neurogenesis by enhancing not only radial glial cell differentiation but also cell cycle exit of their progeny. Conversely, knock-down by shRNA electroporation resulted in opposite effects. Manipulation of E-proteins and/or Ascl1 in SVZ NSC cultures indicated that those effects were Ascl1 dependent, although they could not solely be attributed to an Ascl1-induced switch from promoting cell proliferation to triggering cell cycle arrest and differentiation.
Conclusions
In contrast to former concepts, suggesting ubiquitous expression and subsidiary function for E-proteins to foster postnatal neurogenesis, this work unveils E-proteins as being active players in the orchestration of postnatal SVZ neurogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1749-8104-9-23
PMCID: PMC4274746  PMID: 25352248
Class I basic helix-loop-helix proteins; E-proteins; Neural differentiation; Postnatal neurogenesis; Stem cell plasticity
6.  Glucose sensing by carotid body glomus cells: potential implications in disease 
The carotid body (CB) is a key chemoreceptor organ in which glomus cells sense changes in blood O2, CO2, and pH levels. CB glomus cells have also been found to detect hypoglycemia in both non-primate mammals and humans. O2 and low-glucose responses share a common final pathway involving membrane depolarization, extracellular calcium influx, increase in cytosolic calcium concentration, and neurotransmitter secretion, which stimulates afferent sensory fibers to evoke sympathoadrenal activation. On the other hand, hypoxia and low glucose induce separate signal transduction pathways. Unlike O2 sensing, the response of the CB to low glucose is not altered by rotenone, with the low glucose-activated background cationic current unaffected by hypoxia. Responses of the CB to hypoglycemia and hypoxia can be potentiated by each other. The counter-regulatory response to hypoglycemia by the CB is essential for the brain, an organ that is particularly sensitive to low glucose. CB glucose sensing could be altered in diabetic patients, particularly those under insulin treatment, as well as in other medical conditions such as sleep apnea or obstructive pulmonary diseases, where chronic hypoxemia presents with plastic modifications in CB structure and function. The current review will focus on the following main aspects: (1) the CB as a low glucose sensor in both in vitro and in vivo models; (2) molecular and ionic mechanisms of low glucose sensing by glomus cells, (3) the interplay between low glucose and O2 sensing in CB, and (4) the role of CB low glucose sensing in the pathophysiology of cardiorespiratory and metabolic diseases, and how this may serve as a potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00398
PMCID: PMC4197775  PMID: 25360117
carotid body; glucose sensing; O2 sensing; hypoglycemia; intermittent hypoxia; sleep apnea; chronic hypoxia; diabetes
7.  Key Source Habitats and Potential Dispersal of Triatoma infestans Populations in Northwestern Argentina: Implications for Vector Control 
Background
Triatoma infestans —the principal vector of the infection that causes Chagas disease— defies elimination efforts in the Gran Chaco region. This study identifies the types of human-made or -used structures that are key sources of these bugs in the initial stages of house reinfestation after an insecticide spraying campaign.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We measured demographic and blood-feeding parameters at two geographic scales in 11 rural communities in Figueroa, northwest Argentina. Of 1,297 sites searched in spring, 279 (21.5%) were infested. Bug abundance per site and female fecundity differed significantly among habitat types (ecotopes) and were highly aggregated. Domiciles (human sleeping quarters) had maximum infestation prevalence (38.7%), human-feeding bugs and total egg production, with submaximal values for other demographic and blood-feeding attributes. Taken collectively peridomestic sites were three times more often infested than domiciles. Chicken coops had greater bug abundance, blood-feeding rates, engorgement status, and female fecundity than pig and goat corrals. The host-feeding patterns were spatially structured yet there was strong evidence of active dispersal of late-stage bugs between ecotopes. Two flight indices predicted that female fliers were more likely to originate from kitchens and domiciles, rejecting our initial hypothesis that goat and pig corrals would dominate.
Conclusions and Significance
Chicken coops and domiciles were key source habitats fueling rapid house reinfestation. Focusing control efforts on ecotopes with human-fed bugs (domiciles, storerooms, goat corrals) would neither eliminate the substantial contributions to bug population growth from kitchens, chicken coops, and pig corrals nor stop dispersal of adult female bugs from kitchens. Rather, comprehensive control of the linked network of ecotopes is required to prevent feeding on humans, bug population growth, and bug dispersal simultaneously. Our study illustrates a demographic approach that may be applied to other regions and triatomine species for the design of innovative, improved vector control strategies.
Author Summary
The major vectors of Chagas disease are species of triatomine bugs adapted to human sleeping quarters and peridomestic annexes where they feed on humans and domestic or synanthropic mammals or birds. Knowledge of the demography and nutritional status of Triatominae in real-life settings is still fragmentary, and this affects our ability to prevent or reduce house reinfestation after insecticide spraying. In addition to showing where the bugs are likely to live (occupancy and density information), our observations and analysis of flight dispersal provide insights into where bugs are likely to originate. Data on nymphal and adult sex ratios, nutritional status, and female fecundity point to the key ecotopes and sites driving the population growth of the bugs and fueling house reinfestation. Focusing control efforts on the three ecotopes (human sleeping quarters, storerooms, and goat corrals) that housed reactive, human-fed bugs would neither eliminate the substantial contributions to bug population growth from kitchens, chicken coops, and pig corrals nor stop dispersal of adult female bugs from kitchens. Rather, comprehensive control of the linked network of ecotopes in a typical house compound and community is required to prevent feeding on humans, bug population growth, and bug dispersal simultaneously.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003238
PMCID: PMC4191936  PMID: 25299653
8.  Biochemical and inflammatory biomarkers in ischemic stroke: translational study between humans and two experimental rat models 
Background
our objective was to examine the plasma levels of three biological markers involved in cerebral ischemia (IL-6, glutamate and TNF-alpha) in stroke patients and compare them with two different rat models of focal ischemia (embolic stroke model- ES and permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion ligation model-pMCAO) to evaluate which model is most similar to humans. Secondary objectives: 1) to analyze the relationship of these biological markers with the severity, volume and outcome of the brain infarction in humans and the two stroke models; and 2) to study whether the three biomarkers are also increased in response to damage in organs other than the central nervous system, both in humans and in rats.
Methods
Multi-center, prospective, case-control study including acute stroke patients (n = 58) and controls (n = 19) with acute non-neurological diseases Main variables: plasma biomarker levels on admission and at 72 h; stroke severity (NIHSS scale) and clinical severity (APACHE II scale); stroke volume; functional status at 3 months (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] and Barthel index [BI]). Experimental groups: ES (n = 10), pMCAO (n = 6) and controls (tissue stress by leg compression) (n = 6). Main variables: plasma biomarker levels at 3 and 72 h; volume of ischemic lesion (H&E) and cell death (TUNEL).
Results
in stroke patients, IL-6 correlated significantly with clinical severity (APACHE II scale), stroke severity (NIHSS scale), infarct volume (cm3) and clinical outcome (mRS) (r = 0.326, 0.497, 0.290 and 0.444 respectively; P < 0.05). Glutamate correlated with stroke severity, but not with outcome, and TNF-alpha levels with infarct volume. In animals, The ES model showed larger infarct volumes (median 58.6% vs. 29%, P < 0.001) and higher inflammatory biomarkers levels than pMCAO, except for serum glutamate levels which were higher in pMCAO. The ES showed correlations between the biomarkers and cell death (r = 0.928 for IL-6; P < 0.001; r = 0.765 for TNF-alpha, P < 0.1; r = 0.783 for Glutamate, P < 0.1) and infarct volume (r = 0.943 for IL-6, P < 0.0001) more similar to humans than pMCAO. IL-6, glutamate and TNF-α levels were not higher in cerebral ischemia than in controls.
Conclusions
Both models, ES and pMCAO, show differences that should be considered when conducting translational studies. IL-6, Glutamate and TNF-α are not specific for cerebral ischemia either in humans or in rats.
doi:10.1186/s12967-014-0220-3
PMCID: PMC4132215  PMID: 25086655
Brain ischemia; Chemokines; Animal models; Acute stroke; Cell death; Inflammation
9.  Love-Wave Sensors Combined with Microfluidics for Fast Detection of Biological Warfare Agents 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(7):12658-12669.
The following paper examines a time-efficient method for detecting biological warfare agents (BWAs). The method is based on a system of a Love-wave immunosensor combined with a microfluidic chip which detects BWA samples in a dynamic mode. In this way a continuous flow-through of the sample is created, promoting the reaction between antigen and antibody and allowing a fast detection of the BWAs. In order to prove this method, static and dynamic modes have been simulated and different concentrations of BWA simulants have been tested with two immunoreactions: phage M13 has been detected using the mouse monoclonal antibody anti-M13 (AM13), and the rabbit immunoglobulin (Rabbit IgG) has been detected using the polyclonal antibody goat anti-rabbit (GAR). Finally, different concentrations of each BWA simulants have been detected with a fast response time and a desirable level of discrimination among them has been achieved.
doi:10.3390/s140712658
PMCID: PMC4168433  PMID: 25029282
biological warfare agent; BWA; love-wave; sensor acoustic wave; SAW; biosensor; immunosensor; microfluidics; bacteriophage
10.  Octopamine Neuromodulation Regulates Gr32a-Linked Aggression and Courtship Pathways in Drosophila Males 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004356.
Chemosensory pheromonal information regulates aggression and reproduction in many species, but how pheromonal signals are transduced to reliably produce behavior is not well understood. Here we demonstrate that the pheromonal signals detected by Gr32a-expressing chemosensory neurons to enhance male aggression are filtered through octopamine (OA, invertebrate equivalent of norepinephrine) neurons. Using behavioral assays, we find males lacking both octopamine and Gr32a gustatory receptors exhibit parallel delays in the onset of aggression and reductions in aggression. Physiological and anatomical experiments identify Gr32a to octopamine neuron synaptic and functional connections in the suboesophageal ganglion. Refining the Gr32a-expressing population indicates that mouth Gr32a neurons promote male aggression and form synaptic contacts with OA neurons. By restricting the monoamine neuron target population, we show that three previously identified OA-FruM neurons involved in behavioral choice are among the Gr32a-OA connections. Our findings demonstrate that octopaminergic neuromodulatory neurons function as early as a second-order step in this chemosensory-driven male social behavior pathway.
Author Summary
To mate or fight? When meeting other members of their species, male fruit flies must determine whether a second fly is male or female and proceed with the appropriate behavioral patterns. The taste receptor, Gr32a, has been reported to respond to chemical messages (pheromones) that are important for gender recognition, as eliminating Gr32a function impairs both male courtship and aggressive behavior. Here we demonstrate that different subsets of Gr32a-expressing neuron populations mediate these mutually exclusive behaviors and the male Gr32a-mediated behavioral response is amplified through neurons that contain the neuromodulator octopamine (OA, an invertebrate equivalent of norepinephrine). Gr32a-expressing neurons connect functionally and synaptically with distinct OA neurons indicating these amine neurons may function as early as a second-order step in a chemosensory-driven circuit. Our results contribute to understanding how an organism selects an appropriate behavioral response upon receiving external sensory signals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004356
PMCID: PMC4031044  PMID: 24852170
11.  Domestic Animal Hosts Strongly Influence Human-Feeding Rates of the Chagas Disease Vector Triatoma infestans in Argentina 
Background
The host species composition in a household and their relative availability affect the host-feeding choices of blood-sucking insects and parasite transmission risks. We investigated four hypotheses regarding factors that affect blood-feeding rates, proportion of human-fed bugs (human blood index), and daily human-feeding rates of Triatoma infestans, the main vector of Chagas disease.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey collected triatomines in human sleeping quarters (domiciles) of 49 of 270 rural houses in northwestern Argentina. We developed an improved way of estimating the human-feeding rate of domestic T. infestans populations. We fitted generalized linear mixed-effects models to a global model with six explanatory variables (chicken blood index, dog blood index, bug stage, numbers of human residents, bug abundance, and maximum temperature during the night preceding bug catch) and three response variables (daily blood-feeding rate, human blood index, and daily human-feeding rate). Coefficients were estimated via multimodel inference with model averaging.
Findings
Median blood-feeding intervals per late-stage bug were 4.1 days, with large variations among households. The main bloodmeal sources were humans (68%), chickens (22%), and dogs (9%). Blood-feeding rates decreased with increases in the chicken blood index. Both the human blood index and daily human-feeding rate decreased substantially with increasing proportions of chicken- or dog-fed bugs, or the presence of chickens indoors. Improved calculations estimated the mean daily human-feeding rate per late-stage bug at 0.231 (95% confidence interval, 0.157–0.305).
Conclusions and Significance
Based on the changing availability of chickens in domiciles during spring-summer and the much larger infectivity of dogs compared with humans, we infer that the net effects of chickens in the presence of transmission-competent hosts may be more adequately described by zoopotentiation than by zooprophylaxis. Domestic animals in domiciles profoundly affect the host-feeding choices, human-vector contact rates and parasite transmission predicted by a model based on these estimates.
Author Summary
The major vectors of Chagas disease are species of triatomine bugs that have adapted to human sleeping quarters and may feed on domestic animals and humans. There is a striking lack of information on the blood-feeding rates of Triatominae in field conditions, and factors modifying the fraction of bugs that feed on humans have rarely been investigated. Here we tested whether the spring fraction of bugs' feeding contacts with humans would decrease when dogs and chickens are available in human sleeping quarters in a well-defined endemic rural area in northwestern Argentina. On average, late-stage bugs fed every four days in spring and the majority fed on humans. The results demonstrate that both the percentage of human-fed bugs and the daily rate of feeding on humans decreased substantially with increasing proportions of chicken- or dog-fed bugs in the house, or the presence of chickens indoors. Combined with earlier findings on the seasonal dynamics of bug abundance, host-feeding patterns and the relative infectivity of domestic hosts, the net effects of the presence of chickens and dogs in human sleeping quarters is predicted to increase the transmission of T. cruzi in summer when chickens move outdoors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002894
PMCID: PMC4037315  PMID: 24852606
12.  Determinants of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy Duration in HIV-1-Infected Children and Adolescents in Madrid, Spain, from 1996 to 2012 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96307.
Objectives
To investigate the duration of sequential HAART regimens and predictors of first-line regimen discontinuation among HIV-1 vertically infected children and adolescents.
Design
Multicentre survey of antiretroviral-naïve patients enrolled in the HIV-Paediatric Cohor,t CoRISpeS-Madrid Cohort, Spain.
Methods
Patients with a follow-up of ≥1 month spent on HAART, with available baseline CD4 count and HIV-viral load (VL) were included. Time spent on sequential HAART regimens was estimated and multivariable regression was used to identify predictors of time to first-line regimen discontinuation.
Results
104 patients were followed for a median 8 years after starting HAART among 1996–2012; baseline %CD4 was 21.5 (12.3–34.0)and viral load was 5.1 (4.6–5.6) log10 copies/mL. Patients received a mean of 1.9 regimens. Median time on first-line HAART (n = 104) was 64.5 months; second HAART (n = 56) 69.8 months; and third HAART (n = 21) 66.5 months. Eleven (11%) patients were lost to follow-up while on first-line HAART and 54% discontinued (cumulative incidence of 16% and 38% by 1 and 3-year, respectively). The main predictor of first-line regimen discontinuation was suboptimal adherence to antiretrovirals (AHR: 2.60; 95% CI: 1.44–4.70).
Conclusions
Adherence to therapy was the main determinant of the duration of the first-line HAART regimen in children. It is important to identify patients at high risk for non-adherence, such as very young children and adolescents, in provide special care and support to those patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096307
PMCID: PMC4006876  PMID: 24788034
13.  Characterization of the New AmpC β-Lactamase FOX-8 Reveals a Single Mutation, Phe313Leu, Located in the R2 Loop That Affects Ceftazidime Hydrolysis 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2013;57(10):5158-5161.
A novel class C β-lactamase (FOX-8) was isolated from a clinical strain of Escherichia coli. The FOX-8 enzyme possessed a unique substitution (Phe313Leu) compared to FOX-3. Isogenic E. coli strains carrying FOX-8 showed an 8-fold reduction in resistance to ceftazidime relative to FOX-3. In a kinetic analysis, FOX-8 displayed a 33-fold reduction in kcat/Km for ceftazidime compared to FOX-3. In the FOX family of β-lactamases, the Phe313 residue located in the R2 loop affects ceftazidime hydrolysis and alters the phenotype of E. coli strains carrying this variant.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00818-13
PMCID: PMC3811397  PMID: 23877692
14.  Turn Off the TV and Dance! Participation in Culturally Tailored Health Interventions: Implications for Obesity Prevention among Mexican American Girls 
Ethnicity & disease  2013;23(4):452-461.
Our evaluation study identifies facilitators and barriers to participation among families participating in the treatment arm of Stanford ECHALE. This culturally tailored obesity prevention trial consisted of a combined intervention with two main treatment components: 1) a folkloric dance program; and 2) a screen time reduction curriculum designed for 7–11 year old Latinas and their families. We conducted 83 interviews (40 parents and 43 girls) in participant homes after 6 months of enrollment in the ECHALE trial. The Spradley ethnographic method and NVivo 8.0 were used to code and analyze narrative data. Three domains emerged for understanding participation: 1) family cohesiveness; 2) perceived gains; and 3) culturally relevant program structure. Two domains emerged for non-participation: program requirements and perceived discomforts. Non-parametric, Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the relationships with participant attendance data. Sustained participation was most strongly influenced by the domain perceived gains when parents reported better self-esteem, confidence, improved attitude, improved grades, etc. (Spearman r=.45, P=.003). Alternatively, under the domain, perceived discomforts, with subthemes such as child bullying, participation in the combined intervention was inversely associated with attendance (Spearman r=.38, P=.02). Family-centered, school-based, community obesity prevention programs that focus on tangible short-term gains for girls may generate greater participation rates, enhance social capital, and promote community empowerment. These factors can be emphasized in future obesity prevention program design and implementation. (Ethn Dis. 2013; 23[4]:452–461)
PMCID: PMC3940265  PMID: 24392608
Obesity Prevention; Behavioral Health Interventions; Girls; Latinos
15.  Prostaglandin E2 Reduces the Release and Infectivity of New Cell-Free Virions and Cell-To-Cell HIV-1 Transfer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e85230.
Background
The course of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection is influenced by a complex interplay between viral and host factors. HIV infection stimulates several proinflammatory genes, such as cyclooxigense-2 (COX-2), which leads to an increase in prostaglandin (PG) levels in the plasma of HIV-1-infected patients. These genes play an indeterminate role in HIV replication and pathogenesis. The effect of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) on HIV infection is quite controversial and even contradictory, so we sought to determine the role of PGE2 and the signal transduction pathways involved in HIV infection to elucidate possible new targets for antiretrovirals.
Results
Our results suggest that PGE2 post-infection treatment acts in the late stages of the viral cycle to reduce HIV replication. Interestingly, viral protein synthesis was not affected, but a loss of progeny virus production was observed. No modulation of CD4 CXCR4 and CCR5 receptor expression, cell proliferation, or activation after PGE2 treatment was detected. Moreover, PGE2 induced an increase in intracellular cAMP (cyclic AMP) levels through the EP2/EP4 receptors. PGE2 effects were mimicked by dbcAMP and by a specific Epac (exchange protein directly activated by cyclic AMP) agonist, 8-Cpt-cAMP. Treatment with PGE2 increased Rap1 activity, decreased RhoA activity and subsequently reduced the polymerization of actin by approximately 30% compared with untreated cells. In connection with this finding, polarized viral assembly platforms enriched in Gag were disrupted, altering HIV cell-to-cell transfer and the infectivity of new virions.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that PGE2, through Epac and Rap activation, alters the transport of newly synthesized HIV-1 components to the assembly site, reducing the release and infectivity of new cell-free virions and cell-to-cell HIV-1 transfer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085230
PMCID: PMC3934822  PMID: 24586238
16.  HIV Testing and Counselling in Colombia: Local Experience on Two Different Recruitment Strategies to Better Reach Low Socioeconomic Status Communities 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2014;2014:803685.
HIV testing rates remain very low in Colombia, with only 20% of individuals at risk ever tested. In order to tackle this issue, the Corporacion de Lucha Contra el Sida (CLS) has implemented a multidisciplinary, provider-initiated, population-based HIV testing/counselling strategy named BAFI. In this report, we describe the experience of CLS at reaching populations from low socioeconomic backgrounds in 2008-2009. Two different approaches were used: one led by CLS and local health care providers (BAFI-1) and the other by CLS and community leaders (BAFI-2). Both approaches included the following: consented HIV screening test, a demographic questionnaire, self-reported HIV knowledge and behaviour questionnaires, pre- and posttest counselling, confirmatory HIV tests, clinical follow-up, access to comprehensive care and antiretroviral treatment. A total of 2085 individuals were enrolled in BAFI-1 and 363 in BAFI-2. The effectiveness indicators for BAFI-1 and BAFI-2, respectively, were HIV positive-confirmed prevalence = 0.29% and 3.86%, return rate for confirmatory results = 62.5% and 93.7%, return rate for comprehensive care = 83.3% and 92.8%, and ART initiation rate = 20% and 76.9%. Although more people were reached with BAFI-1, the community-led BAFI-2 was more effective at reaching individuals with a higher prevalence of behavioural risk factors for HIV infection.
doi:10.1155/2014/803685
PMCID: PMC3926390  PMID: 24592330
17.  Genome Sequence Analysis of the Biogenic Amine-Degrading Strain Lactobacillus casei 5b 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(1):e01199-13.
We here report a 3.02-Mbp annotated draft assembly of the Lactobacillus casei 5b genome. The sequence of this biogenic amine-degrading dairy isolate may help identify the mechanisms involved in the catabolism of biogenic amines and perhaps shed light on ways to reduce the presence of these toxic compounds in food.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.01199-13
PMCID: PMC3894289  PMID: 24435875
18.  Analogous reserve distribution and tissue characteristics in quinoa and grass seeds suggest convergent evolution 
Quinoa seeds are highly nutritious due to the quality of their proteins and lipids and the wide range of minerals and vitamins they store. Three compartments can be distinguished within the mature seed: embryo, endosperm, and perisperm. The distribution of main storage reserves is clearly different in those areas: the embryo and endosperm store proteins, lipids, and minerals, and the perisperm stores starch. Tissues equivalent (but not homologous) to those found in grasses can be identified in quinoa, suggesting the effectiveness of this seed reserve distribution strategy; as in cells of grass starchy endosperm, the cells of the quinoa perisperm endoreduplicate, increase in size, synthesize starch, and die during development. In addition, both systems present an extra-embryonic tissue that stores proteins, lipids and minerals: in gramineae, the aleurone layer(s) of the endosperm; in quinoa, the micropylar endosperm; in both cases, the tissues are living. Moreover, the quinoa micropylar endosperm and the coleorhiza in grasses play similar roles, protecting the root in the quiescent seed and controlling dormancy during germination. This investigation is just the beginning of a broader and comparative study of the development of quinoa and grass seeds. Several questions arise from this study, such as: how are synthesis and activation of seed proteins and enzymes regulated during development and germination, what are the genes involved in these processes, and lastly, what is the genetic foundation justifying the analogy to grasses.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00546
PMCID: PMC4199267  PMID: 25360139
coleorhiza; endosperm; grass seed; micropylar endosperm; perisperm; quinoa seed
19.  Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs About Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Among Puerto Rican Mothers and Daughters, 2010: A Qualitative Study 
Introduction
The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer can be reduced by increasing vaccination for HPV. Yet vaccination uptake and completion of the 3-dose series remain low among Puerto Rican females. This study explored psychosocial factors associated with HPV vaccination uptake decisions among Puerto Rican mothers and daughters.
Methods
We conducted 7 focus groups with young women aged 16 to 24 (n = 21) and their mothers (n = 9) to assess knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to cervical cancer, HPV, and HPV vaccination. We analyzed the focus group transcripts and identified themes by using a constant comparison method of qualitative data analysis and interpretation, guided by a grounded theory approach.
Results
The analysis identified several emergent themes related to vaccine uptake: 1) low knowledge about cervical cancer, HPV, and the HPV vaccine; 2) inconsistent beliefs about susceptibility to HPV infection and cervical cancer; 3) vaccine effectiveness; 4) vaccine safety and side effects; 5) concerns that the vaccine promotes sexual disinhibition; and 6) availability of insurance coverage and overall cost of the vaccine.
Conclusion
Our study found that adolescent girls and young women in Puerto Rico have low levels of knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer, low perceived susceptibility to HPV, and concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and these factors may influence uptake and completion of HPV vaccination. Interventions are needed for both mothers and daughters that address these psychosocial factors and increase access to vaccination.
doi:10.5888/pcd11.140171
PMCID: PMC4264466  PMID: 25474384
20.  Antibiotic resistance, virulence determinants and production of biogenic amines among enterococci from ovine, feline, canine, porcine and human milk 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:288.
Background
Recent studies have shown that mammalian milk represents a continuous supply of commensal bacteria, including enterococci. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the presence of enterococci in milk of different species and to screen them for several genetic and phenotypic traits of clinical significance among enterococci.
Results
Samples were obtained from, at least, nine porcine, canine, ovine, feline and human healthy hosts. Enterococci could be isolated, at a concentration of 1.00 × 102 -1.16 × 103 CFU/ml, from all the porcine samples and, also from 85, 50, 25 and 25% of the human, canine, feline and ovine ones, respectively. They were identified as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus hirae, Enterococcus casseliflavus and Enterococcus durans. Among the 120 initial enterococcal isolates, 36 were selected on the basis of their different PFGE profiles and further characterized. MLST analysis revealed a wide diversity of STs among the E. faecalis and E. faecium strains, including some frequently associated to hospital infections and novel STs. All the E. faecalis strains possessed some of the potential virulence determinants (cad, ccf, cob, cpd, efaAfs, agg2, gelE, cylA, espfs) assayed while the E. faecium ones only harboured the efaAfm gene. All the tested strains were susceptible to tigecycline, linezolid and vancomycin, and produced tyramine. Their susceptibility to the rest of the antimicrobials and their ability to produce other biogenic amines varied depending on the strain. Enterococci strains isolated from porcine samples showed the widest spectrum of antibiotic resistance.
Conclusions
Enterococci isolated from milk of different mammals showed a great genetic diversity. The wide distribution of virulence genes and/or antibiotic resistance among the E. faecalis and E. faecium isolates indicates that they can constitute a reservoir of such traits and a risk to animal and human health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-288
PMCID: PMC4029345  PMID: 24325647
Enterococcus; Milk; Mammals; Virulence; Antibiotic resistance; Biogenic amines
21.  Spatial and temporal changes in Lutzomyia longipalpis abundance, a Leishmania infantum vector in an urban area in northeastern Argentina 
Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  2013;108(7):817-824.
This study aimed to analyse changes in the spatial distribution of Lutzomyia longipalpis in Posadas, an urban area located in northeastern Argentina. Data were obtained during the summer of 2007 and 2009 through two entomological surveys of peridomiciles distributed around the city. The abundance distribution pattern for 2009 was computed and compared with the previous pattern obtained in 2007, when the first human visceral leishmaniasis cases were reported in the city. Vector abundance was also examined in relation to micro and macrohabitat characteristics. In 2007 and 2009, Lu. longipalpis was distributed among 41.5% and 31% of the households in the study area, respectively. In both years, the abundance rates at most of the trapping sites were below 30 Lu. longipalpis per trap per night; however, for areas exhibiting 30-60 Lu. longipalpis and more than 60 Lu. longipalpis, the areas increased in both size and number from 2007-2009. Lu. longipalpis was more abundant in areas with a higher tree and bush cover (a macrohabitat characteristic) and in peridomiciles with accumulated unused material (a microhabitat characteristic). These results will help to prioritise and focus control efforts by defining which peridomiciles display a potentially high abundance of Lu. longipalpis.
doi:10.1590/0074-0276130047
PMCID: PMC3970639  PMID: 24271040
Lutzomyia longipalpis; visceral leishmaniasis; urban environment
22.  CADe System Integrated within the Electronic Health Record 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:219407.
The latest technological advances and information support systems for clinics and hospitals produce a wide range of possibilities in the storage and retrieval of an ever-growing amount of clinical information as well as in detection and diagnosis. In this work, an Electronic Health Record (EHR) combined with a Computer Aided Detection (CADe) system for breast cancer diagnosis has been implemented. Our objective is to provide to radiologists a comprehensive working environment that facilitates the integration, the image visualization, and the use of aided tools within the EHR. For this reason, a development methodology based on hardware and software system features in addition to system requirements must be present during the whole development process. This will lead to a complete environment for displaying, editing, and reporting results not only for the patient information but also for their medical images in standardised formats such as DICOM and DICOM-SR. As a result, we obtain a CADe system which helps in detecting breast cancer using mammograms and is completely integrated into an EHR.
doi:10.1155/2013/219407
PMCID: PMC3789292  PMID: 24151586
23.  Temporal regulation of the Mus81-Mms4 endonuclease ensures cell survival under conditions of DNA damage 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(19):8943-8958.
The structure-specific Mus81-Eme1/Mms4 endonuclease contributes importantly to DNA repair and genome integrity maintenance. Here, using budding yeast, we have studied its function and regulation during the cellular response to DNA damage and show that this endonuclease is necessary for successful chromosome replication and cell survival in the presence of DNA lesions that interfere with replication fork progression. On the contrary, Mus81-Mms4 is not required for coping with replicative stress originated by acute treatment with hydroxyurea (HU), which causes fork stalling. Despite its requirement for dealing with DNA lesions that hinder DNA replication, Mus81-Mms4 activation is not induced by DNA damage at replication forks. Full Mus81-Mms4 activity is only acquired when cells finish S-phase and the endonuclease executes its function after the bulk of genome replication is completed. This post-replicative mode of action of Mus81-Mms4 limits its nucleolytic activity during S-phase, thus avoiding the potential cleavage of DNA substrates that could cause genomic instability during DNA replication. At the same time, it constitutes an efficient fail-safe mechanism for processing DNA intermediates that cannot be resolved by other proteins and persist after bulk DNA synthesis, which guarantees the completion of DNA repair and faithful chromosome replication when the DNA is damaged.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt645
PMCID: PMC3799426  PMID: 23901010
24.  Draft Genome Sequence of Lactobacillus plantarum Strain IPLA 88 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(4):e00524-13.
Here, we report a 3.2-Mbp draft assembly for the genome of Lactobacillus plantarum IPLA 88. The sequence of this sourdough isolate provides insight into the adaptation of this versatile species to different environments.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00524-13
PMCID: PMC3735066  PMID: 23887921
25.  Programmed cell death during quinoa perisperm development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(11):3313-3325.
At seed maturity, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) perisperm consists of uniform, non-living, thin-walled cells full of starch grains. The objective of the present study was to study quinoa perisperm development and describe the programme of cell death that affects the entire tissue. A number of parameters typically measured during programmed cell death (PCD), such as cellular morphological changes in nuclei and cytoplasm, endoreduplication, DNA fragmentation, and the participation of nucleases and caspase-like proteases in nucleus dismantling, were evaluated; morphological changes in cytoplasm included subcellular aspects related to starch accumulation. This study proved that, following fertilization, the perisperm of quinoa simultaneously accumulates storage reserves and degenerates, both processes mediated by a programme of developmentally controlled cell death. The novel findings regarding perisperm development provide a starting point for further research in the Amaranthaceae genera, such as comparing seeds with and without perisperm, and specifying phylogeny and evolution within this taxon. Wherever possible and appropriate, differences between quinoa perisperm and grass starchy endosperm—a morphologically and functionally similar, although genetically different tissue—were highlighted and discussed.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert170
PMCID: PMC3733152  PMID: 23833197
Amaranthaceae; basal body; caspase-like protease; DNA fragmentation; endoreduplication; nucleases; quinoa; perisperm; programmed cell death (PCD); starch accumulation; TUNEL.

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