Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (66)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

more »
Year of Publication
more »
1.  The science of clinical practice: disease diagnosis or patient prognosis? Evidence about “what is likely to happen” should shape clinical practice 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:20.
Diagnosis is the traditional basis for decision-making in clinical practice. Evidence is often lacking about future benefits and harms of these decisions for patients diagnosed with and without disease. We propose that a model of clinical practice focused on patient prognosis and predicting the likelihood of future outcomes may be more useful.
Disease diagnosis can provide crucial information for clinical decisions that influence outcome in serious acute illness. However, the central role of diagnosis in clinical practice is challenged by evidence that it does not always benefit patients and that factors other than disease are important in determining patient outcome. The concept of disease as a dichotomous ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is challenged by the frequent use of diagnostic indicators with continuous distributions, such as blood sugar, which are better understood as contributing information about the probability of a patient’s future outcome. Moreover, many illnesses, such as chronic fatigue, cannot usefully be labelled from a disease-diagnosis perspective. In such cases, a prognostic model provides an alternative framework for clinical practice that extends beyond disease and diagnosis and incorporates a wide range of information to predict future patient outcomes and to guide decisions to improve them. Such information embraces non-disease factors and genetic and other biomarkers which influence outcome.
Patient prognosis can provide the framework for modern clinical practice to integrate information from the expanding biological, social, and clinical database for more effective and efficient care.
PMCID: PMC4311412  PMID: 25637245
Clinical decision-making; Contested diagnoses; Diagnosis; Evidence-based medicine; Information; Outcomes of care; Overdiagnosis; Prognosis; Stratified medicine
2.  Diagnostic accuracy study of three alcohol breathalysers marketed for sale to the public 
BMJ Open  2014;4(12):e005811.
To assess the diagnostic accuracy of three personal breathalyser devices available for sale to the public marketed to test safety to drive after drinking alcohol.
Prospective comparative diagnostic accuracy study comparing two single-use breathalysers and one digital multiuse breathalyser (index tests) to a police breathalyser (reference test).
Establishments licensed to serve alcohol in a UK city.
Of 222 participants recruited, 208 were included in the main analysis. Participants were eligible if they were 18 years old or over, had consumed alcohol and were not intending to drive within the following 6 h.
Outcome measures
Sensitivity and specificity of the breathalysers for the detection of being at or over the UK legal driving limit (35 µg/100 mL breath alcohol concentration).
18% of participants (38/208) were at or over the UK driving limit according to the police breathalyser. The digital multiuse breathalyser had a sensitivity of 89.5% (95% CI 75.9% to 95.8%) and a specificity of 64.1% (95% CI 56.6% to 71.0%). The single-use breathalysers had a sensitivity of 94.7% (95% CI 75.4% to 99.1%) and 26.3% (95% CI 11.8% to 48.8%), and a specificity of 50.6% (95% CI 40.4% to 60.7%) and 97.5% (95% CI 91.4% to 99.3%), respectively. Self-reported alcohol consumption threshold of 5 UK units or fewer had a higher sensitivity than all personal breathalysers.
One alcohol breathalyser had sensitivity of 26%, corresponding to false reassurance for approximately one person in four who is over the limit by the reference standard, at least on the evening of drinking alcohol. The other devices tested had 90% sensitivity or higher. All estimates were subject to uncertainty. There is no clearly defined minimum sensitivity for this safety-critical application. We conclude that current regulatory frameworks do not ensure high sensitivity for these devices marketed to consumers for a decision with potentially catastrophic consequences.
PMCID: PMC4281544  PMID: 25526794
3.  Shiftwork and Prostate-Specific Antigen in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 
Shiftwork has been implicated as a risk factor for prostate cancer. Results from prior studies have been mixed but generally support an association between circadian disruption and prostate cancer. Our aim was to investigate the relationship between shiftwork and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test obtained as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study.
We combined three NHANES surveys (2005–2010) to obtain current work schedule among employed men aged 40 to 65 years with no prior history of cancer (except nonmelanoma skin cancer). Men who reported working regular night shifts or rotating shifts were considered shiftworkers. We obtained the total and percentage free PSA test results for these men and dichotomized total PSA into less than 4.0ng/mL or 4.0ng/mL or greater and total PSA of 4.0ng/mL or greater combined with percentage free PSA less than or equal to 25%. Using multivariable logistic regression models, we compared PSA level among current shiftworkers and nonshiftworkers. All statistical tests were two-sided.
We found a statistically significant, age-adjusted association between current shiftwork and elevated PSA at the 4.0ng/mL or greater level (odds ratio = 2.48, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08 to 5.70; P = .03). The confounder-adjusted odds ratio was 2.62 (95% CI = 1.16 to 5.95; P = .02). The confounder-adjusted odds ratio for those with total PSA of 4.0ng/mL or greater and free PSA less than or equal to 25% was 3.13 (95% CI = 1.38 to 7.09; P = .01).
We observed a strong positive association with shiftwork and elevated PSA level. Our data support the notion that sleep or circadian disruption is associated with elevated PSA, indicating that shiftworking men likely have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3859215  PMID: 23943864
4.  All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality in Middle-Aged People With Type 2 Diabetes Compared With People Without Diabetes in a Large U.K. Primary Care Database 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(8):2366-2371.
Middle-aged people with diabetes have been reported to have significantly higher risks of cardiovascular events than people without diabetes. However, recent falls in cardiovascular disease rates and more active management of risk factors may have abolished the increased risk. We aimed to provide an up-to-date assessment of the relative risks associated with type 2 diabetes of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in middle-aged people in the U.K.
Using data from the General Practice Research Database, from 2004 to 2010, we conducted a cohort study of 87,098 people, 40–65 years of age at baseline, comparing 21,798 with type 2 diabetes and 65,300 without diabetes, matched on age, sex, and general practice. We produced hazard ratios (HRs) for mortality and compared rates of blood pressure testing, cholesterol monitoring, and use of aspirin, statins, and antihypertensive drugs.
People with type 2 diabetes, compared with people without diabetes, had a twofold increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR 2.07 [95% CI 1.95–2.20], adjusted for smoking) and a threefold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality (3.25 [2.87–3.68], adjusted for smoking). Women had a higher relative risk than men, and people <55 years of age had a higher relative risk than those >55 years of age. Monitoring and medication rates were higher in those with diabetes (all P < 0.001).
Despite efforts to manage risk factors, administer effective treatments, and develop new therapies, middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes remain at significantly increased risk of death.
PMCID: PMC3714501  PMID: 23435157
5.  Mast Cell-restricted, Tetramer-forming Tryptases Induce Aggrecanolysis in Articular Cartilage by Activating Matrix Metalloproteinase-3 and -13 Zymogens1 
Mouse mast cell protease (mMCP)-6-null C57BL/6 mice lost less aggrecan proteoglycan from the extracellular matrix of their articular cartilage during inflammatory arthritis than wild-type (WT) C57BL/6 mice, suggesting that this mast cell (MC)-specific mouse tryptase plays prominent roles in articular cartilage catabolism. We used ex vivo mouse femoral head explants to determine how mMCP-6 and its human ortholog hTryptase-β mediate aggrecanolysis. Exposure of the explants to recombinant hTryptase-β, recombinant mMCP-6, or lysates harvested from WT mouse peritoneal MCs (PMCs) significantly increased the levels of enzymatically active matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) in cartilage and significantly induced aggrecan loss into the conditioned media, relative to replicate explants exposed to medium alone or lysates collected from mMCP-6-null PMCs. Treatment of cartilage explants with tetramer-forming tryptases generated aggrecan fragments that contained C-terminal DIPEN and N-terminal FFGVG neoepitopes, consistent with MMP-dependent aggrecanolysis. In support of these data, hTryptase-β was unable to induce aggrecan release from the femoral head explants obtained from Chloe mice that resist MMP cleavage at the DIPEN↓FFGVG site in the interglobular domain of aggrecan. In addition, the abilities of mMCP-6-containing lysates from WT PMCs to induce aggrecanolysis were prevented by inhibitors of MMP-3 and MMP-13. Finally, recombinant hTryptase-β was able to activate latent pro-MMP-3 and pro-MMP-13 in vitro. The accumulated data suggest that human and mouse tetramer-forming tryptases are MMP convertases that mediate cartilage damage and the proteolytic loss of aggrecan proteoglycans in arthritis, in part, by activating the zymogen forms of MMP-3 and MMP-13 which are constitutively present in articular cartilage.
PMCID: PMC3727140  PMID: 23797671
mast cells; inflammation; arthritis; cartilage; aggrecan proteoglycan; matrix metalloproteinases; tryptase
6.  Development of Mast Cells and Importance of Their Tryptase and Chymase Serine Proteases in Inflammation and Wound Healing 
Advances in immunology  2014;122:211-252.
Mast cells (MCs) are active participants in blood coagulation and innate and acquired immunity. This review focuses on the development of mouse and human MCs, as well as the involvement of their granule serine proteases in inflammation and the connective tissue remodeling that occurs during the different phases of the healing process of wounded skin and other organs. The accumulated data suggest that MCs, their tryptases, and their chymases play important roles in tissue repair. While MCs initially promote healing, they can be detrimental if they are chronically stimulated or if too many MCs become activated at the same time. The possibility that MCs and their granule serine proteases contribute to the formation of keloid and hypertrophic scars makes them potential targets for therapeutic intervention in the repair of damaged skin.
PMCID: PMC4115062  PMID: 24507159
7.  A short-term model of COPD identifies a role for mast cell tryptase 
Cigarette smoke-induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a life-threatening inflammatory disorder of the lung. The development of effective therapies for COPD has been hampered by the lack of an animal model that mimics the human disease in a short time-frame.
To create an early onset mouse model of cigarette smoke-induced COPD that develops the hallmark features of the human condition in a short time-frame. To use this model to better understand pathogenesis and the roles of macrophages and mast cells (MCs) in COPD.
Tightly controlled amounts of cigarette smoke were delivered to the airways of mice, and the development of the pathological features of COPD was assessed. The roles of macrophages and MC tryptase in pathogenesis were evaluated using depletion and in vitro studies and MC protease-6 deficient mice.
After just 8 weeks of smoke exposure, wild-type mice developed chronic inflammation, mucus hypersecretion, airway remodeling, emphysema, and reduced lung function. These characteristic features of COPD were glucocorticoid-resistant and did not spontaneously resolve. Systemic effects on skeletal muscle and the heart, and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections also were observed. Macrophages and tryptase-expressing MCs were required for the development of COPD. Recombinant MC tryptase induced pro-inflammatory responses from cultured macrophages.
A short-term mouse model of cigarette smoke-induced COPD was developed in which the characteristic features of the disease were induced more rapidly than existing models. The model can be used to better understand COPD pathogenesis, and we show a requirement for macrophages and tryptase-expressing MCs.
PMCID: PMC4060894  PMID: 23380220
cigarette smoke; COPD; inflammation; emphysema; airway remodeling; lung function; macrophage; mast cell; protease; mMCP-6; hTryptase-β
8.  Epidemiological associations between iron and cardiovascular disease and diabetes 
Disruptions in iron homeostasis are linked to a broad spectrum of chronic conditions including cardiovascular, malignant, metabolic, and neurodegenerative disease. Evidence supporting this contention derives from a variety of analytical approaches, ranging from molecular to population-based studies. This review focuses on key epidemiological studies that assess the relationship between body iron status and chronic diseases, with particular emphasis on atherosclerosis ,metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Multiple surrogates have been used to measure body iron status, including serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, serum iron, and dietary iron intake. The lack of a uniform and standardized means of assessing body iron status has limited the precision of epidemiological associations. Intervention studies using depletion of iron to alter risk have been conducted. Genetic and molecular techniques have helped to explicate the biochemistry of iron metabolism at the molecular level. Plausible explanations for how iron contributes to the pathogenesis of these chronic diseases are beginning to be elucidated. Most evidence supports the hypothesis that excess iron contributes to chronic disease by fostering excess production of free radicals. Overall, epidemiological studies, reinforced by basic science experiments, provide a strong line of evidence supporting the association between iron and elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In this narrative review we attempt to condense the information from existing literature on this topic.
PMCID: PMC4033158  PMID: 24904420
iron; cardiovascular disease; diabetes mellitus; metabolic syndrome; epidemiologic studies
9.  Changes in HbA1c Level over a 12-Week Follow-up in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes following a Medication Change 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92458.
Current guidance about the interval needed before retesting HbA1c when monitoring for glycaemic control is based on expert opinion rather than well-powered studies. The aim of our work was to explore how fast HbA1c changes after a change in glucose-lowering medication. This has implications for whether routine HbA1c testing intervals before 12 weeks could inform diabetes medication adjustments.
This 12-week cohort study recruited patients from 18 general practices in the United Kingdom with non-insulin treated diabetes who were initiating or changing dose of oral glucose-lowering medication. HbA1c was measured at baseline and 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks after recruitment. HbA1c levels at earlier time intervals were correlated with 12-week HbA1c. A ROC curve analysis was used to identify the 8-week threshold above which medication adjustment may be clinically appropriate.
Ninety-three patients were recruited to the study. Seventy-nine patients with no change in medication and full 12-week follow-up had the following baseline characteristics: mean±standard deviation age of 61.3±10.8 years, 34% were female and diabetes duration of 6.0±4.3 years. Mean HbA1c at baseline, 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks was 8.7±1.5%, (72.0±16.8 mmol/mol) 8.6±1.6% (70.7±17.0 mmol/mol), 8.4±1.5% (68.7±15.9 mmol/mol), 8.2±1.4% (66.3±15.8 mmol/mol) and 8.1±1.4% (64.8±15.7 mmol/mol) respectively. At the end of the study 61% of patients had sub-optimal glycaemic control (HbA1c>7.5% or 59 mmol/mol). The 8-week change correlated significantly with the 12-week change in HbA1c and an HbA1c above 8.2% (66 mmol/mol) at 8 weeks correctly classified all 28 patients who had not achieved glycaemic control by 12 weeks.
This is the first study designed with sufficient power to examine short-term changes in HbA1c. The 12-week change in HbA1c can be predicted 8 weeks after a medication change. Many participants who had not achieved glycaemic control after 12 weeks may have benefitted from an earlier review of their HbA1c and medication.
PMCID: PMC3965408  PMID: 24667212
10.  Associations of Ionizing Radiation and Breast Cancer-Related Serum Hormone and Growth Factor Levels in Cancer-Free Female A-Bomb Survivors 
Radiation research  2011;176(5):678-687.
Levels of exposure to ionizing radiation are increasing for women worldwide due to the widespread use of CT and other radiologic diagnostic modalities. Exposure to ionizing radiation as well as increased levels of estradiol and other sex hormones are acknowledged breast cancer risk factors, but the effects of whole-body radiation on serum hormone levels in cancer-free women are unknown. This study examined whether ionizing radiation exposure is associated with levels of serum hormones and other markers that may mediate radiation-associated breast cancer risk. Serum samples were measured from cancer-free women who attended biennial health examinations with a wide range of past radiation exposure levels (N = 412, ages 26–79). The women were selected as controls for separate case-control studies from a cohort of A-bomb survivors. Outcome measures included serum levels of total estradiol, bioavailable estradiol, testosterone, progesterone, prolactin, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1), insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), and ferritin. Relationships were assessed using repeated-measures regression models fitted with generalized estimating equations. Geometric mean serum levels of total estradiol and bioavailable estradiol increased with 1 Gy of radiation dose among samples collected from postmenopausal women (17%1Gy, 95% CI: 1%–36% and 21%1Gy, 95% CI: 4%–40%, respectively), while they decreased in samples collected from premenopausal women (−11%1Gy, 95% CI: −20%–1% and −12%1Gy, 95% CI: −20%– −2%, respectively). Interactions by menopausal status were significant (P = 0.003 and P < 0.001, respectively). Testosterone levels increased with radiation dose in postmenopausal samples (30.0%1Gy, 95% CI: 13%–49%) while they marginally decreased in premenopausal samples (−10%1Gy, 95% CI: −19%–0%) and the interaction by menopausal status was significant (P < 0.001). Serum levels of IGF1 increased linearly with radiation dose (11%1Gy, 95% CI: 2%–18%) and there was a significant interaction by menopausal status (P = 0.014). Radiation-associated changes in serum levels of estradiol, bioavailable estradiol, testosterone and IGF1 were modified by menopausal status at the time of collection. No associations with radiation were observed in serum levels of progesterone, prolactin, IGFBP-3 or ferritin.
PMCID: PMC3925891  PMID: 21718103
11.  Normal ranges of heart rate and respiratory rate in children from birth to 18 years: a systematic review of observational studies 
Lancet  2011;377(9770):1011-1018.
Although heart rate and respiratory rate are routinely measured in children in acute settings, current reference ranges are not evidence-based. The aim of this study is to derive new centile charts for heart rate and respiratory rate using systematic review data from existing studies, and to compare these with existing international ranges.
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL to April 2009, and reference lists to identify studies which had measured heart rate and/or respiratory rate in normal children between birth and 18 years of age. We used a non-parametric kernel regression method to create centile charts for heart rate and respiratory rate with respect to age. We compared existing reference ranges with those derived from the centile charts.
We included 69 studies, 59 of which provided data on the heart rate of 143,346 children, and 20 on the respiratory rate of 3,881 children. Our new centile charts demonstrate the decline in respiratory rate from birth to early adolescence, with the steepest decline apparent in infants under two years; decreasing from a median of 44 breaths/minutes at birth to 26 breaths/minute at the age of two. The heart rate centile chart demonstrates a small peak at one month of age. The median heart rate increases from 127 beats/minute at birth to a maximum of 145 beats/minute at approximately one month of age, before decreasing to 113 beats/minute by the age of two. Comparison of the centile charts with existing published reference ranges for heart rate and respiratory rate show marked disagreement with the centile charts, with limits from published ranges frequently exceeding the 99th and 1st centiles, or crossing the median.
Our review shows that existing international guidelines for heart rate and respiratory rate in children are not based on evidence. We have created new centile charts based on a systematic review of studies which have measured these vital signs in normal children. Clinical and resuscitation guidelines should be updated in the light of these evidence-based reference ranges.
Research funded by the National Institute for Health Research programme grant for applied research ‘Development and implementation of new diagnostic processes and technologies in primary care’. SF was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre Programme.
PMCID: PMC3789232  PMID: 21411136
children; heart rate; respiratory rate; normal; centiles; ranges
12.  An unusual cause of hearing loss in an 81-year-old man 
BMJ Case Reports  2011;2011:bcr0520114212.
An 81-year-old man presented to accident and emergency with a recent history of rapidly progressive bilateral hearing loss. Further questioning revealed recent sinusitis, fevers and general malaise. Initial bloods showed raised inflammatory markers, raised creatinine, low albumin and urine dip was positive for blood and protein. Chest x-ray showed faint bilateral mid-zone infiltrates. He was treated with intravenous methylprednisolone (500 mg×3) for presumed Wegener’s granulomatosis which was later confirmed by c-anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies testing (proteinase-3 positive) and supportive findings on CT chest and sinuses. He was discharged after 10 days in hospital on oral prednisolone and cyclophosphamide. He is continuing treatment and seen regularly in outpatient follow-up. Unfortunately his hearing has not fully recovered and he is awaiting a hearing aid.
PMCID: PMC3166583  PMID: 22689275
13.  The Translational Repressor T-cell Intracellular Antigen-1 (TIA-1) is a Key Modulator of Th2 and Th17 Responses Driving Pulmonary Inflammation Induced by Exposure to House Dust Mite 
Immunology letters  2012;146(1-2):8-14.
T-cell Intracellular Antigen-1 (TIA-1) is a translational repressor that dampens the production of proinflammatory cytokines and enzymes. In this study we investigated the role of TIA-1 in a mouse model of pulmonary inflammation induced by exposure to the allergenic extract (Df) of the house dust mite Dermatophagoides farinae. When intranasally challenged with a low dose of Df, mice lacking TIA-1 protein (Tia-1−/−) showed more severe airway and tissue eosinophilia, infiltration of lung bronchovascular bundles, and goblet cell metaplasia than wild-type littermates. Tia-1−/− mice also had higher levels of Df-specific IgE and IgG1 in serum and ex vivo restimulated Tia-1−/− lymph node cells and splenocytes transcribed and released more Th2/Th17 cytokines. To evaluate the site of action of TIA-1, we studied the response to Df in bone marrow chimeras. These experiments revealed that TIA-1 acts on both hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic cells to dampen pulmonary inflammation. Our results identify TIA-1 as a negative regulator of allergen-mediated pulmonary inflammation in vivo. Thus, TIA-1 might be an important player in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma.
PMCID: PMC3407291  PMID: 22525013
T-cell Intracellular Antigen-1; allergen-mediated pulmonary inflammation; cytokines; translation
14.  A Large Cohort Study of Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism in Relation to Gynecologic Cancers 
Background. Thyroid status may influence tumorigenesis of gynecologic cancers, yet epidemiologic studies of this relationship are limited and inconsistent. Methods. We evaluated the association of self-reported history of physician-diagnosed hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism with medical-record confirmed endometrial (EC; all invasive adenocarcinomas) and ovarian cancer (OC; epithelial ovarian or peritoneal cancers) in Nurses' Health Study (NHS) from 1976 to 2010 and NHSII from 1989 to 2011. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate multivariable rate ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals based on pooled cohort data. Results. We confirmed 1314 incident cases of EC and 1150 cases of OC. Neither a history of hypothyroidism nor hyperthyroidism was significantly associated with risk of EC or OC. However, having a history of hypothyroidism for 8+ years (median) was nonsignificantly inversely associated with EC (RR = 0.81; 95% CI = 0.63–1.04; P-trend with history duration = 0.11) and OC (RR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.66–1.15; P-trend = 0.13). Having a history of hyperthyroidism for 6+ years (median) was non-significantly positively associated with EC (RR = 1.69; 95% CI = 0.86–3.30; P-trend = 0.12) but not OC (RR = 1.12; 95% CI = 0.46–2.72; P-trend = 0.95). Conclusions. A history of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism was not significantly associated with risk of EC or OC.
PMCID: PMC3728510  PMID: 23956749
15.  Epigenetic Impact of Long-Term Shiftwork: Pilot Evidence From Circadian Genes and Whole-Genome Methylation Analysis 
Chronobiology international  2011;28(10):852-861.
Epigenetic association studies have demonstrated differential promoter methylation in the core circadian genes in breast cancer cases relative to cancer-free controls. The current pilot study aims to investigate whether epigenetic changes affecting breast cancer risk could be caused by circadian disruption through exposure to light at night. Archived DNA samples extracted from whole blood of 117 female subjects from a prospective cohort conducted in Denmark were included in this study. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method was used for detection of gene-promoter methylation, whereas genome-wide methylation analysis was performed using the Illumina Infinium Methylation Chip. Long-term shiftwork resulted in the same promoter hypomethylation of CLOCK and hypermethylation of CRY2, as was previously observed in breast cancer case-control studies. Genome-wide methylation analysis further discovered widespread methylation alterations in shiftworkers, including changes in many methylation- and cancer-relevant genes. Pathway analysis of the genes with altered methylation patterns revealed several cancer-related pathways. One of the top three networks generated was designated as “DNA replication, recombination, and repair, gene expression, behavior” with ESR1 (estrogen receptor α) featured most prominently in the network, underscoring the potential breast cancer relevance of the genes differentially methylated in long-term shiftworkers. These results, although exploratory, demonstrate the first evidence of the cancer-relevant epigenetic effects of night shiftwork, which warrant further investigation. Considering there are millions of shiftworkers worldwide, understanding the effects of this exposure may lead to novel strategies for cancer prevention and new policies regulating shiftwork.
PMCID: PMC3631105  PMID: 22080730
Cancer; Circadian genes; Genome-wide methylation; Shiftwork
16.  Against all odds? Improving the understanding of risk reporting 
The British Journal of General Practice  2012;62(596):e220-e223.
PMCID: PMC3289830  PMID: 22429441
17.  Stronger Tests of Mechanisms Underlying Geographic Gradients of Biodiversity: Insights from the Dimensionality of Biodiversity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56853.
Inference involving diversity gradients typically is gathered by mechanistic tests involving single dimensions of biodiversity such as species richness. Nonetheless, because traits such as geographic range size, trophic status or phenotypic characteristics are tied to a particular species, mechanistic effects driving broad diversity patterns should manifest across numerous dimensions of biodiversity. We develop an approach of stronger inference based on numerous dimensions of biodiversity and apply it to evaluate one such putative mechanism: the mid-domain effect (MDE). Species composition of 10,000-km2 grid cells was determined by overlaying geographic range maps of 133 noctilionoid bat taxa. We determined empirical diversity gradients in the Neotropics by calculating species richness and three indices each of phylogenetic, functional and phenetic diversity for each grid cell. We also created 1,000 simulated gradients of each examined metric of biodiversity based on a MDE model to estimate patterns expected if species distributions were randomly placed within the Neotropics. For each simulation run, we regressed the observed gradient onto the MDE-expected gradient. If a MDE drives empirical gradients, then coefficients of determination from such an analysis should be high, the intercept no different from zero and the slope no different than unity. Species richness gradients predicted by the MDE fit empirical patterns. The MDE produced strong spatially structured gradients of taxonomic, phylogenetic, functional and phenetic diversity. Nonetheless, expected values generated from the MDE for most dimensions of biodiversity exhibited poor fit to most empirical patterns. The MDE cannot account for most empirical patterns of biodiversity. Fuller understanding of latitudinal gradients will come from simultaneous examination of relative effects of random, environmental and historical mechanisms to better understand distribution and abundance of the current biota.
PMCID: PMC3581556  PMID: 23451099
18.  Quantifying the Effect of Metformin Treatment and Dose on Glycemic Control 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(2):446-454.
Metformin is the first-line oral medication recommended for glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. We reviewed the literature to quantify the effect of metformin treatment on glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in all types of diabetes and examine the impact of differing doses on glycemic control.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library were searched from 1950 to June 2010 for trials of at least 12 weeks’ duration in which diabetic patients were treated with either metformin monotherapy or as an add-on therapy. Data on change in HbA1c were pooled in a meta-analysis. Data from dose-comparison trials were separately pooled.
A total of 35 trials were identified for the main analysis and 7 for the dose-comparison analysis. Metformin monotherapy lowered HbA1c by 1.12% (95% CI 0.92–1.32; I2 = 80%) versus placebo, metformin added to oral therapy lowered HbA1c by 0.95% (0.77–1.13; I2 = 77%) versus placebo added to oral therapy, and metformin added to insulin therapy lowered HbA1c by 0.60% (0.30–0.91; I2 = 79.8%) versus insulin only. There was a significantly greater reduction in HbA1c using higher doses of metformin compared with lower doses of metformin with no significant increase in side effects.
Evidence supports the effectiveness of metformin therapy in a clinically important lowering of HbA1c used as monotherapy and in combination with other therapeutic agents. There is potential for using higher doses of metformin to maximize glycemic control in diabetic patients without increasing gastrointestinal effects.
PMCID: PMC3263873  PMID: 22275444
19.  How well do clinical prediction rules perform in identifying serious infections in acutely ill children across an international network of ambulatory care datasets? 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:10.
Diagnosing serious infections in children is challenging, because of the low incidence of such infections and their non-specific presentation early in the course of illness. Prediction rules are promoted as a means to improve recognition of serious infections. A recent systematic review identified seven clinical prediction rules, of which only one had been prospectively validated, calling into question their appropriateness for clinical practice. We aimed to examine the diagnostic accuracy of these rules in multiple ambulatory care populations in Europe.
Four clinical prediction rules and two national guidelines, based on signs and symptoms, were validated retrospectively in seven individual patient datasets from primary care and emergency departments, comprising 11,023 children from the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The accuracy of each rule was tested, with pre-test and post-test probabilities displayed using dumbbell plots, with serious infection settings stratified as low prevalence (LP; <5%), intermediate prevalence (IP; 5 to 20%), and high prevalence (HP; >20%) . In LP and IP settings, sensitivity should be >90% for effective ruling out infection.
In LP settings, a five-stage decision tree and a pneumonia rule had sensitivities of >90% (at a negative likelihood ratio (NLR) of < 0.2) for ruling out serious infections, whereas the sensitivities of a meningitis rule and the Yale Observation Scale (YOS) varied widely, between 33 and 100%. In IP settings, the five-stage decision tree, the pneumonia rule, and YOS had sensitivities between 22 and 88%, with NLR ranging from 0.3 to 0.8. In an HP setting, the five-stage decision tree provided a sensitivity of 23%. In LP or IP settings, the sensitivities of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guideline for feverish illness and the Dutch College of General Practitioners alarm symptoms ranged from 81 to 100%.
None of the clinical prediction rules examined in this study provided perfect diagnostic accuracy. In LP or IP settings, prediction rules and evidence-based guidelines had high sensitivity, providing promising rule-out value for serious infections in these datasets, although all had a percentage of residual uncertainty. Additional clinical assessment or testing such as point-of-care laboratory tests may be needed to increase clinical certainty. None of the prediction rules identified seemed to be valuable for HP settings such as emergency departments.
PMCID: PMC3566974  PMID: 23320738
clinical prediction rules; serious infection in children; external validation; NICE guidelines feverish illness; Yale Observation Scale; diagnostic accuracy
20.  Pulmonary Sarcoidosis following Etanercept Treatment 
Case Reports in Rheumatology  2012;2012:724013.
Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is an important cytokine involved in the pathology of a number of inflammatory conditions, and thus blockade with anti-TNF therapies is becoming the cornerstone in managing such diseases. With increasing use, evidence is collected for the association of sarcoid-like granulomatous disease developing after the initiation of anti-TNF-α therapy, with disease reversal after discontinuation.
PMCID: PMC3540653  PMID: 23320239
21.  Exhibition review 
PMCID: PMC3223768
22.  Interleukin-33 Primes Mast Cells for Activation by IgG Immune Complexes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47252.
Mast cells (MCs) are heterogeneous cells whose phenotype is modulated by signals received from the local microenvironment. Recent studies have identified the mesenchymal-derived cytokine IL-33 as a potent direct activator of MCs, as well as regulator of their effector phenotype, and have implicated this activity in the ability of mast cells to contribute to murine experimental arthritis. We explored the hypothesis that IL-33 enables participation of synovial MCs in murine K/BxN arthritis by promoting their activation by IgG immune complexes. Compared to wild-type (WT) control mice, transgenic animals lacking the IL-33 receptor ST2 exhibited impaired MC-dependent immune complex-induced vascular permeability (flare) and attenuated K/BxN arthritis. Whereas participation of MCs in this model is mediated by the activating IgG receptor FcγRIII, we pre-incubated bone marrow-derived MCs with IL-33 and found not only direct induction of cytokine release but also a marked increase in FcγRIII-driven production of critical arthritogenic mediators including IL-1β and CXCL2. This “priming” effect was associated with mRNA accumulation rather than altered expression of Fcγ receptors, could be mimicked by co-culture of WT but not ST2−/− MCs with synovial fibroblasts, and was blocked by antibodies against IL-33. In turn, WT but not ST2−/− MCs augmented fibroblast expression of IL-33, forming a positive feedback circuit. Together, these findings confirm a novel role for IL-33 as an amplifier of IgG immune complex-mediated inflammation and identify a potential MC-fibroblast amplification loop dependent on IL-33 and ST2.
PMCID: PMC3469528  PMID: 23071771
23.  Biomarkers of organophosphorus (OP) exposures in humans 
Neurotoxicology  2011;32(5):656-660.
There are ongoing events where aircraft engine lubricant containing tricresyl phosphates (TCPs) contaminates aircraft cabins. Some individuals have experienced tremors or other neurological symptoms that may last for many months following exposures. Mass spectrometric (MS) protocols are being developed to determine the percentage of “biomarker proteins” that are modified by such exposures, specifically on active site serines. Both plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) and red cell acylpeptide hydrolase (APH) are readily inhibited by 2-(o-cresyl)-4H-1:3:2:benzodioxaphosphoran-2-one (CBDP) or phenyl saligenin cyclic phosphate (PSP) and have the potential to provide information about the level of exposure of an individual. We have developed immunomagnetic bead-based single-step purification protocols for both BChE and APH and have characterized the active site serine adducts of BChE by MS.
PMCID: PMC3279568  PMID: 21767566
Biomarkers; Tricresyl phosphate; CBDP; Butyrylcholinesterase; Acylpeptide hydrolase; Aerotoxic syndrome
24.  Next-generation sequencing at Merck-Boston 
BMC Proceedings  2012;6(Suppl 6):P36.
PMCID: PMC3467709
25.  Type and accuracy of sphygmomanometers in primary care: a cross-sectional observational study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2011;61(590):e598-e603.
Previous studies identified worrying levels of sphygmomanometer inaccuracy and have not been repeated in the era of digital measurement of blood pressure
To establish the type and accuracy of sphygmomanometers in current use
Design and setting
Cross-sectional, observational study in 38 Oxfordshire primary care practices
Sphygmomanometers were evaluated between 50 and 250 mmHg, using Omron PA350 or Scandmed 950831-2 pressure meters.
Six hundred and four sphygmomanometers were identified: 323 digital (53%), 192 aneroid (32%), 79 mercury (13%), and 10 hybrid (2%) devices. Of these, 584 (97%) could be fully tested. Overall, 503/584 (86%) were within 3 mmHg of the reference, 77/584 (13%) had one or more errorof 4-9 mmHg, and 4/584 (<1%) had one or more errorof more than 10 mmHg. Mercury (71/75, 95%) and digital (272/308, 88%) devices were more likely to be within 3 mmHg of the reference standard than aneroid models (150/191, 78%) (Fisher's exact test P = 0.001). Donated aneroid devices from the pharmaceutical industry performed significantly worse: 10/23 (43%) within 3 mmHg of standard compared to 140/168 (83%) aneroid models from recognised manufacturers (Fisher's exact test P<0.001). No significant difference was found in performance between manufacturers within each device type, for either aneroid (Fisher's exact test P = 0.96) or digital (Fisher's exact test P = 0.7) devices.
Digital sphygmomanometers have largely replaced mercury models in primary care and have equivalent accuracy. Aneroid devices have higherfailure rates than other device types; this appears to be largely accounted forby models from indiscernible manufacturers. Given the availability of inexpensive and accurate digital models, GPs could consider replacing aneroid devices with digital equivalents, especially for home visiting.
PMCID: PMC3162183  PMID: 22152749
blood pressure determination; hypertension; general practice; quality assurance, health care

Results 1-25 (66)