Emerging evidence suggests the relationship between health literacy and health outcomes could be explained by cognitive abilities.
To investigate to what degree cognitive skills explain associations between health literacy, performance on common health tasks, and functional health status.
Two face-to-face, structured interviews spaced a week apart with three health literacy assessments and a comprehensive cognitive battery measuring ‘fluid’ abilities necessary to learn and apply new information, and ‘crystallized’ abilities such as background knowledge.
An academic general internal medicine practice and three federally qualified health centers in Chicago, Illinois.
Eight hundred and eighty-two English-speaking adults ages 55 to 74.
Health literacy was measured using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA), and Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Performance on common health tasks were globally assessed and categorized as 1) comprehending print information, 2) recalling spoken information, 3) recalling multimedia information, 4) dosing and organizing medication, and 5) healthcare problem-solving.
Health literacy measures were strongly correlated with fluid and crystallized cognitive abilities (range: r = 0.57 to 0.77, all p < 0.001). Lower health literacy and weaker fluid and crystallized abilities were associated with poorer performance on healthcare tasks. In multivariable analyses, the association between health literacy and task performance was substantially reduced once fluid and crystallized cognitive abilities were entered into models (without cognitive abilities: β = −28.9, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI) -31.4 to −26.4, p; with cognitive abilities: β = −8.5, 95 % CI −10.9 to −6.0).
Cross-sectional analyses, English-speaking, older adults only.
The most common measures used in health literacy studies are detecting individual differences in cognitive abilities, which may predict one’s capacity to engage in self-care and achieve desirable health outcomes. Future interventions should respond to all of the cognitive demands patients face in managing health, beyond reading and numeracy.
health literacy; cognitive abilities; health tasks; patient-reported outcomes; physical health; mental health
This article co-authored by a number of scientists, ASAM physicians, clinicians, treatment center owners, geneticists, neurobiologists, psychologists, social workers, criminologists, nurses, nutritionist, and students, is dedicated to all the people who have lost loved ones in substance-abuse and “reward deficiency syndrome” related tragedies. Why are we failing at reducing the incidence of ‘Bad Behaviors’? Are we aiming at the wrong treatment targets for behavioral disorders? We are proposing a paradigm shift and calling it “Reward Deficiency Solution System” providing evidence for its adoption.
Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) dopamine; Standard of Care; Addiction
3, 4-Dihydroxyphenylanine (Dopa)-containing proteins are key to wet adhesion in mussels and possibly other sessile organisms also. However, Dopa-mediated adhesive bonding is a hard act to follow in that, at least in mussels, bonding depends on Dopa in both reduced and oxidized forms, for adhesion and cohesion, respectively. Given the vulnerability of Dopa to spontaneous oxidation, the most significant challenge to using it in practical adhesion is controlling Dopa redox in a temporally- and spatially defined manner. Mussels appear to achieve such control in their byssal attachment plaques, and factors involved in redox control can be measured with precision using redox probes such as the diphenylpicryl hydrazyl (DPPH) free radical. Understanding the specifics of natural redox control may provide fundamentally important insights for adhesive polymer engineering and antifouling strategies.
Mytilus; byssus; 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine; anti-oxidant; wet adhesion
Genetic mediated physiological processes that rely on both pharmacological and nutritional principles hold great promise for the successful therapeutic targeting of reduced carbohydrate craving, body-friendly fat loss, healthy body recomposition, and overall wellness. By integrating an assembly of scientific knowledge on inheritable characteristics and environmental mediators of gene expression, we review the relationship of genes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients as they correct unwanted weight gain coupled with unhappiness. In contrast to a simple one-locus, one-mechanism focus on pharmaceuticals alone, we hypothesize that the use of nutrigenomic treatment targeting multi-physiological neurological, immunological, and metabolic pathways will enable clinicians to intercede in the process of lipogenesis by promoting lipolysis while attenuating aberrant glucose cravings. In turn, this approach will enhance wellness in a safe and predictable manner through the use of a Genetic Positioning System (GPS) Map. The GPS Map, while presently incomplete, ultimately will serve not only as a blueprint for personalized medicine in the treatment of obesity, but also for the development of strategies for reducing many harmful addictive behaviors and promoting optimal health by using substances compatible with the body’s immune system.
Haploinsufficiency of TCF4 causes Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS): a severe form of mental retardation with phenotypic similarities to Angelman, Mowat-Wilson and Rett syndromes. Genome-wide association studies have also found that common variants in TCF4 are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia. Although TCF4 is transcription factor, little is known about TCF4-regulated processes in the brain. In this study we used genome-wide expression profiling to determine the effects of acute TCF4 knockdown on gene expression in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. We identified 1204 gene expression changes (494 upregulated, 710 downregulated) in TCF4 knockdown cells. Pathway and enrichment analysis on the differentially expressed genes in TCF4-knockdown cells identified an over-representation of genes involved in TGF-β signaling, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and apoptosis. Among the most significantly differentially expressed genes were the EMT regulators, SNAI2 and DEC1 and the proneural genes, NEUROG2 and ASCL1. Altered expression of several mental retardation genes such as UBE3A (Angelman Syndrome), ZEB2 (Mowat-Wilson Syndrome) and MEF2C was also found in TCF4-depleted cells. These data suggest that TCF4 regulates a number of convergent signaling pathways involved in cell differentiation and survival in addition to a subset of clinically important mental retardation genes.
Mussels have a remarkable ability to attach their holdfast, or byssus, opportunistically to a variety of substrata that are wet, saline, corroded, and/or fouled by biofilms. Mytilus edulis foot protein-5 (Mefp-5) is one of several proteins in the byssal adhesive plaque of the mussel M. edulis. The high content of 3,4 dihydroxyphenylalanine (Dopa) (~30 mol%) and its localization near the plaque-substrate interface have often prompted speculation that Mefp-5 plays a key role in adhesion. Using the surface forces apparatus, we show that on mica surfaces Mefp-5 achieves an adhesion energy approaching Ead = ~− 14 mJ/m2. This exceeds the adhesion energy of another interfacial protein, Mefp-3, by a factor of 4–5 and is greater than the adhesion between highly oriented monolayers of biotin and streptavidin. The adhesion to mica is notable for its dependence on Dopa, which is most stable under reducing conditions and acidic pH. Mefp-5 also exhibits strong protein-protein interactions with itself as well as with Mefp-3 from M. edulis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with known genetic, epigenetic, and environmental risk factors. To assess the role of DNA methylation in SLE, we collected CD4+ T-cells, CD19+ B-cells, and CD14+ monocytes from 49 SLE patients and 58 controls, and performed genome-wide DNA methylation analysis with Illumina Methylation450 microarrays. We identified 166 CpGs in B-cells, 97 CpGs in monocytes, and 1,033 CpGs in T-cells with highly significant changes in DNA methylation levels (p<1×10−8) among SLE patients. Common to all three cell-types were widespread and severe hypomethylation events near genes involved in interferon signaling (type I). These interferon-related changes were apparent in patients collected during active and quiescent stages of the disease, suggesting that epigenetically-mediated hypersensitivity to interferon persists beyond acute stages of the disease and is independent of circulating interferon levels. This interferon hypersensitivity was apparent in memory, naïve and regulatory T-cells, suggesting that this epigenetic state in lupus patients is established in progenitor cell populations. We also identified a widespread, but lower amplitude shift in methylation in CD4+ T-cells (>16,000 CpGs at FDR<1%) near genes involved in cell division and MAPK signaling. These cell type-specific effects are consistent with disease-specific changes in the composition of the CD4+ population and suggest that shifts in the proportion of CD4+ subtypes can be monitored at CpGs with subtype-specific DNA methylation patterns.
We have analyzed DNA methylation, an epigenetic modification that influences gene expression, in lupus patients and control subjects. Our analysis was run in three different immune cell types, T-cells, B-cells, and monocytes, to discern common epigenetic effects in lupus from cell type-specific effects. We have identified a lupus-related reduction in methylation around genes that respond to interferon, a cytokine that induces inflammation in response to pathogens. This hypomethylation suggests that lupus patients are hypersensitive to interferon, as DNA methylation is typically an inhibitor of gene expression. We also find that this hypersensitivity is preserved in lupus patients beyond active stages of the disease, and this may help explain the chronic, recurrent nature of the disease. In addition, we have identified DNA methylation changes in T-cells that suggest an alteration in the proportions of these cells in lupus patients, which may help explain the disease process.
In accord with the new definition of addiction published by American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) it is well-known that individuals who present to a treatment center involved in chemical dependency or other documented reward dependence behaviors have impaired brain reward circuitry. They have hypodopaminergic function due to genetic and/or environmental negative pressures upon the reward neuro-circuitry. This impairment leads to aberrant craving behavior and other behaviors such as Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Neurogenetic research in both animal and humans revealed that there is a well-defined cascade in the reward site of the brain that leads to normal dopamine release. This cascade has been termed the “Brain Reward Cascade” (BRC). Any impairment due to either genetics or environmental influences on this cascade will result in a reduced amount of dopamine release in the brain reward site. Manipulation of the BRC has been successfully achieved with neuro-nutrient therapy utilizing nutrigenomic principles. After over four decades of development, neuro-nutrient therapy has provided important clinical benefits when appropriately utilized. This is a review, with some illustrative case histories from a number of addiction professionals, of certain molecular neurobiological mechanisms which if ignored may lead to clinical complications.
Neuro-nutrient therapy; Neuroadaptagen Amino-Acid Therapy™ (NAAT); Brain reward circuitry; Reward Deficiency Syndrome(RDS); Neurogenetics; Nutrigenomics; Dopamine; Reward Genes
Diploid Aegilops umbellulata and Ae. comosa and their natural allotetraploid hybrids Ae. biuncialis and Ae. geniculata are important wild gene sources for wheat. With the aim of assisting in alien gene transfer, this study provides gene-based conserved orthologous set (COS) markers for the U and M genome chromosomes. Out of the 140 markers tested on a series of wheat-Aegilops chromosome introgression lines and flow-sorted subgenomic chromosome fractions, 100 were assigned to Aegilops chromosomes and six and seven duplications were identified in the U and M genomes, respectively. The marker-specific EST sequences were BLAST-ed to Brachypodium and rice genomic sequences to investigate macrosyntenic relationships between the U and M genomes of Aegilops, wheat and the model species. Five syntenic regions of Brachypodium identified genome rearrangements differentiating the U genome from the M genome and from the D genome of wheat. All of them seem to have evolved at the diploid level and to have been modified differentially in the polyploid species Ae. biuncialis and Ae. geniculata. A certain level of wheat–Aegilops homology was detected for group 1, 2, 3 and 5 chromosomes, while a clearly rearranged structure was showed for the group 4, 6 and 7 Aegilops chromosomes relative to wheat. The conserved orthologous set markers assigned to Aegilops chromosomes promise to accelerate gene introgression by facilitating the identification of alien chromatin. The syntenic relationships between the Aegilops species, wheat and model species will facilitate the targeted development of new markers specific for U and M genomic regions and will contribute to the understanding of molecular processes related to allopolyploidization.
Hypertension is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among older adults, but rates of blood pressure control are low. In this paper, we explore the role of social network ties and network-based resources (e.g., information and support) in hypertension diagnosis and management. We use data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) to identify older adults with undiagnosed or uncontrolled hypertension. We find that network characteristics and emotional support are associated with hypertension diagnosis and control. Importantly, the risks of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension are lower among those with larger social networks -- if they discuss health issues with their network members. When these lines of communication are closed, network size is associated with greater risk of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension. Health care utilization partially mediates associations with diagnosis, but the benefits of network resources for hypertension control do not seem to stem from health-related behaviors.
An expanded hexanucleotide repeat in the C9orf72 gene is the most common genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (c9FTD/ALS). We now report the first description of a homozygous patient and compare it to a series of heterozygous cases. The patient developed early-onset frontotemporal dementia without additional features. Neuropathological analysis showed c9FTD/ALS characteristics, with abundant p62-positive inclusions in the frontal and temporal cortices, hippocampus and cerebellum, as well as less abundant TDP-43-positive inclusions. Overall, the clinical and pathological features were severe, but did not fall outside the usual disease spectrum. Quantification of C9orf72 transcript levels in post-mortem brain demonstrated expression of all known C9orf72 transcript variants, but at a reduced level. The pathogenic mechanisms by which the hexanucleotide repeat expansion causes disease are unclear and both gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms may play a role. Our data support a gain-of-function mechanism as pure homozygous loss of function would be expected to lead to a more severe, or completely different clinical phenotype to the one described here, which falls within the usual range. Our findings have implications for genetic counselling, highlighting the need to use genetic tests that distinguish C9orf72 homozygosity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1147-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
C9orf72; ALS; FTD
Intracellular free iron of Escherichia coli was determined by whole-cell electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometry. Ultrahigh pressure (UHP) increased both intracellular free iron and cell lethality in a pressure-dose-dependent manner. The iron chelator 2,2′-dipyridyl protected cells against UHP treatments. A mutation that produced iron overload conditions sensitized E. coli to UHP treatment.
Executive functions are processes that act in harmony to control behaviors necessary for maintaining focus and achieving outcomes. Executive dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders is attributed to structural or functional pathology of brain networks involving prefrontal cortex (PFC) and its connections with other brain regions. The PFC receives innervations from different neurons associated with a number of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine (DA). Here we review findings on the contribution of PFC DA to higher-order cognitive and emotional behaviors. We suggest examination of multifactorial interactions of an individual’s genetic history, along with environmental risk factors, can assist in the characterization of executive functioning for that individual. Based upon the results of genetic studies we also propose genetic mapping as a probable diagnostic tool serving as a therapeutic adjunct for augmenting executive functioning capabilities. We conclude that preservation of the neurological underpinnings of executive functions requires the integrity of complex neural systems including the influence of specific genes and associated polymorphisms to provide adequate neurotransmission.
Executive functions; dopamine; prefrontal cortex; genetics; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)
Given the anthropometric differences between men and women and previous evidence of sex-difference in genetic effects, we conducted a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic associations with height, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist-to-hip-ratio (133,723 individuals) and took forward 348 SNPs into follow-up (additional 137,052 individuals) in a total of 94 studies. Seven loci displayed significant sex-difference (FDR<5%), including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were genome-wide significant in women (P<5×10−8), but not in men. Sex-differences were apparent only for waist phenotypes, not for height, weight, BMI, or hip circumference. Moreover, we found no evidence for genetic effects with opposite directions in men versus women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its role in diabetes genetics and therapy. Our results demonstrate the value of sex-specific GWAS to unravel the sexually dimorphic genetic underpinning of complex traits.
Men and women differ substantially regarding height, weight, and body fat. Interestingly, previous work detecting genetic effects for waist-to-hip ratio, to assess body fat distribution, has found that many of these showed sex-differences. However, systematic searches for sex-differences in genetic effects have not yet been conducted. Therefore, we undertook a genome-wide search for sexually dimorphic genetic effects for anthropometric traits including 133,723 individuals in a large meta-analysis and followed promising variants in further 137,052 individuals, including a total of 94 studies. We identified seven loci with significant sex-difference including four previously established (near GRB14/COBLL1, LYPLAL1/SLC30A10, VEGFA, ADAMTS9) and three novel anthropometric trait loci (near MAP3K1, HSD17B4, PPARG), all of which were significant in women, but not in men. Of interest is that sex-difference was only observed for waist phenotypes, but not for height or body-mass-index. We found no evidence for sex-differences with opposite effect direction for men and women. The PPARG locus is of specific interest due to its link to diabetes genetics and therapy. Our findings demonstrate the importance of investigating sex differences, which may lead to a better understanding of disease mechanisms with a potential relevance to treatment options.
Secretory phospholipases A2 (sPLA2) hydrolyze phospholipids in cell membranes and extracellular structures such as pulmonary surfactant. This study tests the hypothesis that sPLA2 are elevated in human lungs during acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and that sPLA2 levels are associated with surfactant injury by hydrolysis of surfactant phospholipids.
Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was obtained from 18 patients with early ARDS (<72 hours) and compared to samples from 10 healthy volunteers. Secreted phospholipase A2 were measured (enzyme activity and enzyme immunoassay) in conjunction with ARDS subjects’ surfactant abnormalities including surfactant phospholipid composition, large and small aggregates distribution, and surface tension function.
BAL sPLA2 enzyme activity was markedly elevated in ARDS samples relative to healthy subjects when measured by ex vivo hydrolysis of both phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and phosphatidylcholine (PC). Enzyme immunoassay identified increased PLA2G2A protein in the ARDS BAL fluid, which was strongly correlated with the sPLA2 enzyme activity against PG. Of particular interest, we demonstrated an average depletion of 69% of the PG in the ARDS sample large aggregates relative to the normal controls. Furthermore, the sPLA2 enzyme activity against PG and PC ex vivo correlated with the BAL recovery of in vivo PG and PC, respectively, and also correlated with the altered distribution of the large and small surfactant aggregates.
These results support the hypothesis that sPLA2-mediated hydrolysis of surfactant phospholipid, especially PG by PLA2G2A, contributes to surfactant injury during early ARDS.
Acute Lung Injury; Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome; Secretory Phospholipase A2; Pulmonary Surfactant; Phosphatidylglycerol
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a globally important crop, accounting for 20% of the calories consumed by mankind. We sequenced its large and challenging 17 Gb hexaploid genome using 454 pyrosequencing and compared this with the sequences of diploid ancestral and progenitor genomes. Between 94,000-96,000 genes were identified, and two-thirds were assigned to the A, B and D genomes. High-resolution synteny maps identified many small disruptions to conserved gene order. We show the hexaploid genome is highly dynamic, with significant loss of gene family members upon polyploidization and domestication, and an abundance of gene fragments. Several classes of genes involved in energy harvesting, metabolism and growth are among expanded gene families that could be associated with crop productivity. Our analyses, coupled with the identification of extensive genetic variation, provide a new resource for accelerating gene discovery and improving this major crop.
wheat/polyploid/genome; analysis/food; security/next-generation; sequencing
Coral health indices are important components of the management assessments of coral reefs, providing insight into local variation in reef condition, as well as tools for comparisons between reefs and across various time scales. Understanding how such health indices vary in space and time is critical to their successful implementation as management tools. Here we compare autotrophic and heterotrophic coral health indices, examining specifically the temporal variation driven by the local environmental variation, at three scales (diel, daily and seasonal). We compared metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio, protein concentration) and autotrophic indices (Chlorophyll a (Chl a), zooxanthellae density, effective quantum yield (yield) and relative electron transport rate (rETR)) for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia) in August 2010 (austral winter) and February 2011 (austral summer). Clear seasonal patterns were documented for metabolic indices, zooxanthellae density and rETR, while cyclic diel patterns only occurred for yield and rETR, and RNA/DNA ratio. Significant daily variation was observed for RNA/DNA ratio, Chl a concentration, yield and rETR. Results suggest that zooxanthellae density and protein concentrations are good long-term indicators of coral health whose variance is largely seasonal, while RNA/DNA ratio and rETR can be used for both long-term (seasonal) and short-term (diel) coral monitoring. Chl a can be used to describe changes between days and yield for both diel and daily variations. Correlations between health indices and light history showed that short-term changes in irradiance had the strongest impact on all health indices except zooxanthellae density for A. digitifera; for A. spicifera no correlation was observed at all. However, cumulative irradiance over the several days before sampling showed significant correlations with most health indices suggesting that a time-lag effect has to be taken into account when interpreting diel variations in coral condition.
Background and Hypothesis
It is well known that after prolonged abstinence, individuals who imbibe or use their drug of choice experience a powerful euphoria that precipitates serious relapse. While a biological explanation for this conundrum has remained elusive, we hypothesize that this clinically observed “super sensitivity” might be tied to genetic dopaminergic polymorphisms. Another therapeutic conundrum relates to the paradoxical finding that the dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine induces stronger activation of brain reward circuitry in individuals who carry the DRD2 A1 allele compared to DRD2 A2 allele carriers. Based upon the fact that carriers of the A1 allele relative to the A2 allele of the DRD2 gene have significantly lower D2 receptor density, a reduced sensitivity to dopamine agonist activity would be expected in the former. Thus, it is perplexing that with low D2 density there is an increase in reward sensitivity with the dopamine agonist bromocriptine. Moreover, under chronic or long-term therapy, the potential proliferation of D2 receptors with bromocriptine has been shown in vitro. This seems to lead to a positive outcome and significantly better treatment compliance only in A1 carriers.
Proposal and Conclusion
We propose that low D2 receptor density and polymorphisms of the D2 gene are associated with risk for relapse of substance abuse including alcohol dependence, heroin craving, cocaine dependence, methamphetamine abuse, nicotine sensitization, and glucose craving. With this in mind, we suggest a putative physiological mechanism that may help to explain the enhanced sensitivity following intense acute dopaminergic D2 receptor activation: “denervation supersensitivity.” Thus, the administration of dopamine D2 agonists would target D2 sensitization and attenuate relapse, especially in D2 receptor A1 allele carriers. This hypothesized mechanism is supported by clinical trials utilizing the amino-acid neurotransmitter precursors, enkephalinase and catechol-O-methyl-transferase (COMT) enzyme inhibition, which have resulted in attenuated relapse rates in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) probands. Future warranted translational research with positive outcome showing prevented or lower relapse in RDS will ultimately support the proposed concept, which we term “Deprivation-Amplification Relapse Therapy (DART).”
Candidate gene association studies for peripheral artery disease (PAD), including subclinical disease assessed with the ankle-brachial index (ABI), have been limited by the modest number of genes examined. We conducted a two stage meta-analysis of ~50,000 SNPs across ~2100 candidate genes to identify genetic variants for ABI.
Methods and results
We studied subjects of European ancestry from 8 studies (n = 21,547, 55% women, mean age 44–73 years) and African American ancestry from 5 studies (n = 7267, 60% women, mean age 41–73 years) involved in the candidate gene association resource (CARe) consortium. In each ethnic group, additive genetic models were used (with each additional copy of the minor allele corresponding to the given beta) to test each SNP for association with continuous ABI (excluding ABI > 1.40) and PAD (defined as ABI < 0.90) using linear or logistic regression with adjustment for known PAD risk factors and population stratification. We then conducted a fixed-effects inverse-variance weighted meta-analyses considering a p < 2 × 10−6 to denote statistical significance.
In the European ancestry discovery meta-analyses, rs2171209 in SYTL3 (β = −0.007, p = 6.02 × 10−7) and rs290481 in TCF7L2 (β = −0.008, p = 7.01 × 10−7) were significantly associated with ABI. None of the SNP associations for PAD were significant, though a SNP in CYP2B6 (p = 4.99 × 10−5) was among the strongest associations. These 3 genes are linked to key PAD risk factors (lipoprotein(a), type 2 diabetes, and smoking behavior, respectively). We sought replication in 6 population-based and 3 clinical samples (n = 15,440) for rs290481 and rs2171209. However, in the replication stage (rs2171209, p = 0.75; rs290481, p = 0.19) and in the combined discovery and replication analysis the SNP–ABI associations were no longer significant (rs2171209, p = 1.14 × 10−3; rs290481, p = 8.88 × 10−5). In African Americans, none of the SNP associations for ABI or PAD achieved an experiment-wide level of significance.
Genetic determinants of ABI and PAD remain elusive. Follow-up of these preliminary findings may uncover important biology given the known gene-risk factor associations. New and more powerful approaches to PAD gene discovery are warranted.
Ankle brachial index; Peripheral artery disease; Genetics; Candidate gene array; Meta-analysis; Ethnicity
The impact of physico-chemical factors on percent coral cover and coral health was examined on a spatial basis for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera, at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia) in the southeast Indian Ocean. Coral health was investigated by measuring metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio and protein concentration), energy levels (lipid ratio) and autotrophic indices (chlorophyll a (chl a) and zooxanthellae density) at six stations during typical seasons (austral autumn 2010 (March and April), austral winter 2010 (August)) and during an extreme La Niña event in summer 2011 (February). These indices were correlated with 15 physico-chemical factors (measured immediately following coral sampling) to identify predictors for health indices. Variations in metabolic indices (protein concentration and RNA/DNA ratio) for A. spicifera were mainly explained by nitrogen, temperature and zooplankton concentrations under typical conditions, while for A. digitifera, light as well as phytoplankton, in particular picoeukaryotes, were important, possibly due to higher energy requirement for lipid synthesis and storage in A. digitifera. Optimum metabolic values occurred for both Acropora species at 26–28°C when autotrophic indices (chl a and zooxanthellae density) were lowest. The extreme temperature during the La Niña event resulted in a shift of feeding modes, with an increased importance of water column plankton concentrations for metabolic rates of A. digitifera and light and plankton for A. spicifera. Our results suggest that impacts of high sea surface temperatures during extreme events such as La Niña may be mitigated via reduction on metabolic rates in coral host. The high water column plankton concentrations and associated low light levels resulted in a shift towards high symbiont densities, with lower metabolic rates and energy levels than the seasonal norm for the coral host.
There is evidence across several species for genetic control of phenotypic variation of complex traits1–4, such that the variance among phenotypes is genotype dependent. Understanding genetic control of variability is important in evolutionary biology, agricultural selection programmes and human medicine, yet for complex traits, no individual genetic variants associated with variance, as opposed to the mean, have been identified. Here we perform a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of phenotypic variation using 170,000 samples on height and body mass index (BMI) in human populations. We report evidence that the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7202116 at the FTO gene locus, which is known to be associated with obesity (as measured by mean BMI for each rs7202116 genotype)5–7, is also associated with phenotypic variability. We show that the results are not due to scale effects or other artefacts, and find no other experiment-wise significant evidence for effects on variability, either at loci other than FTO for BMI or at any locus for height. The difference in variance for BMI among individuals with opposite homozygous genotypes at the FTO locus is approximately 7%, corresponding to a difference of 0.5 kilograms in the standard deviation of weight. Our results indicate that genetic variants can be discovered that are associated with variability, and that between-person variability in obesity can partly be explained by the genotype at the FTO locus. The results are consistent with reported FTO by environment interactions for BMI8, possibly mediated by DNA methylation9,10. Our BMI results for other SNPs and our height results for all SNPs suggest that most genetic variants, including those that influence mean height or mean BMI, are not associated with phenotypic variance, or that their effects on variability are too small to detect even with samples sizes greater than 100,000.
Limited literacy has repeatedly been linked to problems comprehending health information, although the majority of studies to date have focused on reading various print health materials. We sought to investigate patients’ ability to recall spoken medical instructions in the context of a hypothetical clinical encounter, and whether limited health literacy would adversely affect performance on the task.
A total of 755 patients age 55–74 were recruited from one academic internal medicine clinic and three federally qualified health centers. Participants’ health literacy skills and recall of spoken medical instructions for two standard, hypothetical video scenarios (wound care, GERD diagnosis)were assessed.
The majority (71.6%) of participants had adequate health literacy skills, and these individuals performed significantly better in correctly recalling spoken information than those with marginal and low literacy in both scenarios: [wound care - mean (SD): low 2.5 (1.3) vs. marginal 3.5 (1.3) vs adequate 4.6 (1.1); p<0.001), GERD: low 4.2(1.7) vs. marginal 5.2(1.7) vs. adequate 6.5 (1.7);p<0.001]. Regardless of literacy level, overall recall of information was poor. Few recognized pain (28.5%) or fever (28.2%) as signs of infection. Only 40.5% of participants correctly recalled when to take their GERD pills.
Many older adults may have difficulty remembering verbal instructions conveyed during clinical encounters. We found those with lower health literacy to have poorer ability to recall information. Greater provider awareness of the impact of low health literacy on the recall of spoken instructions may guide providers to communicate more effectively and employ strategies to confirm patient understanding.
A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been shown to cause a large proportion of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dementia (FTD).
We screened 4,448 patients diagnosed with ALS and 1,425 patients diagnosed with FTD drawn from diverse populations for the hexanucleotide expansion using a repeat-primed PCR assay. ALS and FTD were diagnosed according to the El Escorial and Lund-Manchester criteria respectively. Familial status was based on self-reported family history of similar neurodegenerative diseases at the time of sample collection. Haplotype data of 262 patients carrying the expansion were compared with the known Finnish founder risk haplotype across the chromosomal locus. Age-related penetrance was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method using data from 603 individuals carrying the expansion.
The mutation was observed among 7·0% (n = 236 of 3,377) of Caucasians, 4·1% (n = 2 of 49) of African-Americans, and 8·3% (n = 6 of 72) of Hispanic individuals diagnosed with sporadic ALS, whereas the rate was 6·0% (n = 59 of 981) among Caucasians diagnosed with sporadic FTD. Among Asians, 5·0% (n = 1 of 20) of familial ALS and 66·6% (n = 2 of 3) of familial FTD cases carried the repeat expansion. In contrast, mutations were not observed among patients of Native American (n = 3 sporadic ALS), Indian (n = 31 sporadic ALS, n = 31 sporadic FTD), and Pacific Islander (n = 90 sporadic ALS) ethnicity. All patients with the repeat expansion carried, either partially or fully, the founder haplotype suggesting that the expansion occurred on a single occasion in the past (~1,500 years ago). The pathogenic expansion was non-penetrant below 35 years of age, increasing to 50·0% penetrance by 58 years of age, and was almost fully penetrant by 80 years of age.
We confirm that a common single Mendelian genetic lesion is implicated in a large proportion of sporadic and familial ALS and FTD. Testing for this pathogenic expansion will be important in the management and genetic counseling of patients with these fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified ∼100 loci associated with blood lipid levels, but much of the trait heritability remains unexplained, and at most loci the identities of the trait-influencing variants remain unknown. We conducted a trans-ethnic fine-mapping study at 18, 22, and 18 GWAS loci on the Metabochip for their association with triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), respectively, in individuals of African American (n = 6,832), East Asian (n = 9,449), and European (n = 10,829) ancestry. We aimed to identify the variants with strongest association at each locus, identify additional and population-specific signals, refine association signals, and assess the relative significance of previously described functional variants. Among the 58 loci, 33 exhibited evidence of association at P<1×10−4 in at least one ancestry group. Sequential conditional analyses revealed that ten, nine, and four loci in African Americans, Europeans, and East Asians, respectively, exhibited two or more signals. At these loci, accounting for all signals led to a 1.3- to 1.8-fold increase in the explained phenotypic variance compared to the strongest signals. Distinct signals across ancestry groups were identified at PCSK9 and APOA5. Trans-ethnic analyses narrowed the signals to smaller sets of variants at GCKR, PPP1R3B, ABO, LCAT, and ABCA1. Of 27 variants reported previously to have functional effects, 74% exhibited the strongest association at the respective signal. In conclusion, trans-ethnic high-density genotyping and analysis confirm the presence of allelic heterogeneity, allow the identification of population-specific variants, and limit the number of candidate SNPs for functional studies.
Lipid traits are heritable, but many of the DNA variants that influence lipid levels remain unknown. In a genomic region, more than one variant may affect gene expression or function, and the frequencies of these variants can differ across populations. Genotyping densely spaced variants in individuals with different ancestries may increase the chance of identifying variants that affect gene expression or function. We analyzed high-density genotyped variants for association with TG, HDL-C, and LDL-C in African Americans, East Asians, and Europeans. At several genomic regions, we provide evidence that two or more variants can influence lipid traits; across loci, these additional signals increase the proportion of trait variation that can be explained by genes. At some association signals shared across populations, combining data from individuals of different ancestries narrowed the set of likely functional variants. At PCSK9 and APOA5, the data suggest that different variants influence trait levels in different populations. Variants previously reported to alter gene expression or function frequently exhibited the strongest association at those signals. The multiple signals and population-specific characteristics of the loci described here may be shared by genetic loci for other complex traits.