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1.  Significant differences in global genomic DNA methylation by gender and race/ethnicity in peripheral blood 
Epigenetics  2011;6(5):623-629.
Reduced levels of global DNA methylation are associated with genomic instability and are independent predictors of cancer risk. Little is known about the environmental determinants of global DNA methylation in peripheral blood. We examined the association between demographic and lifestyle factors and levels of global leukocyte DNA methylation in 161 cancer-free subjects enrolled in the North Texas Healthy Heart Study aged 45–75 years in 2008. We used in-person interviews for demographics and lifestyle factors, a self-administrated Block food frequency questionnaire for diet, and bioelectrical impedance analysis and CT-scan for body composition. We measured genomic DNA methylation using bisulfite conversion of DNA and pyrosequencing for LINE-1. Body composition measures including body mass index, waist circumference, areas of subcutaneous fat and visceral fat, percent of fat mass and fat-free mass were not associated with global genomic DNA methylation after controlling the effect of age, gender and race/ethnicity. Instead, female gender was significantly associated with a reduced level of global methylation (β = −2.77, 95% CI: −4.33, −1.22). Compared to non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks (β = −2.02, 95% CI: −3.55, −0.50) had significantly lower levels of global methylation. No association was found with age, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking and dietary intake of nutrients in one-carbon metabolism. Global leukocyte DNA methylation differs by gender and race/ethnicity, suggesting these variables need to be taken into consideration in studies of global DNA methylation as an epigenetic marker for cancer.
doi:10.4161/epi.6.5.15335
PMCID: PMC3230547  PMID: 21739720
gender; race/ethnicity; DNA methylation
2.  Physical activity and global genomic DNA methylation in a cancer-free population 
Epigenetics  2011;6(3):293-299.
Changes in DNA methylation may represent an intermediate step between the environment and human diseases. Little is known on whether behavioral risk factors may modify gene expression through DNA methylation. To assess whether DNA methylation is associated with different levels of physical activity, we measured global genomic DNA methylation using bisulfite-converted DNA and real-time PCR (MethyLight) for LINE-1 in peripheral blood of 161 participants aged 45–75 years enrolled in the North Texas Healthy Heart Study and levels of physical activity using an accelerometer (Actigraph GT1M Monitor). We found that individuals with physical activity 26–30 min/day had a significantly higher level of global genomic DNA methylation compared to those with physical activity ≤10 min/day (β = 2.52, 95% CI: 0.70, 4.35). However, the association was attenuated and became statistically insignificant after multivariate adjustment (β = 1.24, 95% CI: −0.93, 3.40). There were some suggestions of a positive association between physical activity and global genomic DNA methylation in non-Hispanics (β = 1.50, 95% CI: −0.08, 3.08) that warrants further investigation.
doi:10.4161/epi.6.3.14378
PMCID: PMC3092677  PMID: 21178401
DNA methylation; physical activity; peripheral blood
3.  Improving accuracy of medication identification in an older population using a medication bottle color symbol label system 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:142.
Background
The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate and refine an adjuvant system of color-specific symbols that are added to medication bottles and to assess whether this system would increase the ability of patients 65 years of age or older in matching their medication to the indication for which it was prescribed.
Methods
This study was conducted in two phases, consisting of three focus groups of patients from a family medicine clinic (n = 25) and a pre-post medication identification test in a second group of patient participants (n = 100). Results of focus group discussions were used to refine the medication label symbols according to themes and messages identified through qualitative triangulation mechanisms and data analysis techniques. A pre-post medication identification test was conducted in the second phase of the study to assess differences between standard labeling alone and the addition of the refined color-specific symbols. The pre-post test examined the impact of the added labels on participants' ability to accurately match their medication to the indication for which it was prescribed when placed in front of participants and then at a distance of two feet.
Results
Participants appreciated the addition of a visual aid on existing medication labels because it would not be necessary to learn a completely new system of labeling, and generally found the colors and symbols used in the proposed labeling system easy to understand and relevant. Concerns were raised about space constraints on medication bottles, having too much information on the bottle, and having to remember what the colors meant. Symbols and colors were modified if they were found unclear or inappropriate by focus group participants. Pre-post medication identification test results in a second set of participants demonstrated that the addition of the symbol label significantly improved the ability of participants to match their medication to the appropriate medical indication at a distance of two feet (p < 0.001) and approached significant improvement when placed directly in front of participants (p = 0.07).
Conclusions
The proposed medication symbol label system provides a promising adjunct to national efforts in addressing the issue of medication misuse in the home through the improvement of medication labeling. Further research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of the labeling system in real-world settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-142
PMCID: PMC3282670  PMID: 22206490
Medication labeling; medication errors; medication adherence
4.  The relationship between perceived sense of control and visceral adipose tissue - the North Texas Healthy Heart Study 
Background
The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between one's sense of control and visceral adipose tissue.
Methods
This cross-sectional study recruited 571 subjects (45 years and older) who were asymptomatic of CHD from Fort Worth, Texas from 2006 to 2008. Subjects completed a questionnaire, body measurements, a multi-slice computed tomography scan to assess for visceral adipose tissue (VAT) centered at the L4L5 spinal interspace, and serum chemistries. The natural log of L4L5 VAT (lnVAT) was used in all analyses to achieve normality of the data with final analyses including 506 participants. Linear regression was used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted beta-coefficients and standard errors for the association between sense of control and lnVAT.
Results
A total of 506 participants were used in the data after adjusting for normality of the data. An increase in sense of control was associated with a decrease in lnVAT in the unadjusted (p < 0.001) and adjusted (p = 0.03) models. Other factors significantly associated with lnVAT in the adjusted model include age, BMI, male gender, non-Hispanic African American, and diet.
Conclusions
Sense of control remained as an independent factor associated with visceral adiposity despite adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, including BMI. Future studies should focus on establishing a causal relationship between sense of control and visceral adiposity.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-5-12
PMCID: PMC3180246  PMID: 21914181
Sense of control; visceral adipose tissue; cardiovascular; psychosocial

Results 1-4 (4)