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1.  Interneurons hyperpolarize pyramidal cells along their entire somatodendritic axis 
Nature neuroscience  2008;12(1):21-23.
Although GABAergic interneurons are the main source of synaptic inhibition in the cortex, activation of GABAA receptors has been shown to depolarize specific neuronal compartments, resulting in excitation. By using a noninvasive approach to monitor the effect of individual interneurons on the pyramidal cell population, we found that rat hippocampal interneurons hyperpolarized pyramidal cells irrespective of the location of their synapses along the somato-dendritic axis.
doi:10.1038/nn.2230
PMCID: PMC3505023  PMID: 19029887
2.  Explaining Behavior Change after Genetic Testing: The Problem of Collinearity between Test Results and Risk Estimates 
Genetic testing  2008;12(3):381-386.
This paper explores whether and how the behavioral impact of genotype disclosure can be disentangled from the impact of numerical risk estimates generated by genetic tests. Secondary data analyses are presented from a randomized controlled trial of 162 first-degree relatives of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. Each participant received a lifetime risk estimate of AD. Control group estimates were based on age, gender, family history, and assumed ε4-negative apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype; intervention group estimates were based upon the first three variables plus true APOE genotype, which was also disclosed. AD-specific self-reported behavior change (diet, exercise, and medication use) was assessed at 12 months. Behavior change was significantly more likely with increasing risk estimates, and also more likely, but not significantly so, in ε4-positive intervention group participants (53% changed behavior) than in control group participants (31%). Intervention group participants receiving ε4-negative genotype feedback (24% changed behavior) and control group participants had similar rates of behavior change and risk estimates, the latter allowing assessment of the independent effects of genotype disclosure. However, collinearity between risk estimates and ε4-positive genotypes, which engender high-risk estimates, prevented assessment of the independent effect of the disclosure of an ε4 genotype. Novel study designs are proposed to determine whether genotype disclosure has an impact upon behavior beyond that of numerical risk estimates.
doi:10.1089/gte.2007.0103
PMCID: PMC2925186  PMID: 18666860
3.  Perceptions of Familial Risk in those Seeking a Genetic Risk Assessment for Alzheimer’s Disease 
Journal of genetic counseling  2008;18(2):130-136.
Perceived risk is a complex concept that influences the genetic counseling process and can affect client coping and behavior. Although the association between family history and risk perception is well recognized in the literature, no studies have explored this relationship specifically in those seeking genetic susceptibility testing for a common chronic condition. REVEAL is a randomized trial assessing the impact of APOE disclosure and genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Using baseline REVEAL data, we hypothesized that there would be a significant association between the degree of AD family history and risk perception of AD, and that this relationship would be stronger in those who believed that genetics is a very important AD risk factor. In our sample of 293 participants, we found that a higher self-perceived risk of AD was associated with strength of family history of AD (p<0.001), belief in genetics as an important AD risk factor (p<0.001), being female (p<0.001) and being Caucasian (p=0.02). These results are the first to demonstrate the association between family history and risk perception in persons volunteering for genetic susceptibility testing for a common complex disease.
doi:10.1007/s10897-008-9194-8
PMCID: PMC2919070  PMID: 18949541
Risk perception; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; Genetic susceptibility testing; Risk assessment
4.  Uric Acid Inhibits Placental System A Amino Acid Uptake☆ 
Placenta  2008;30(2):195-200.
Hyperuricemia, a common clinical characteristic of preeclamptic pregnancies, has historically been considered a marker of reduced renal function in preeclamptic women. More recently it has been suggested that uric acid may directly contribute to pathological cell signaling events involved in disease progression as well as maternal and fetal pregnancy outcomes including fetal growth restriction. We hypothesize that the increased frequency of restricted fetal growth seen in relation to increasing uric acid concentrations in preeclamptic women is in part the result of uric acid-induced reductions in amino acid transport across the placenta. The objective of the current study was to examine the effects of uric acid on human placental System A amino acid transport using a primary placental villous explant model. Further, we examined the necessity of uric acid uptake and the role of redox signaling as a potential mechanism through which uric acid may attenuate System A activity. Placental uptake of a radiolabeled amino acid analogue, specific to the System A transporter, was reduced in a concentration-dependent fashion with increasing uric acid (0−7 mg/dL), corresponding to uric acid concentrations measured in healthy pregnant and preeclamptic women in the third trimester. Uric acid-induced reduction in System A activity was partially reversed by NADPH oxidase inhibition and completely eliminated by antioxidant treatment. This study demonstrates inhibition of placental System A amino acid transport with uric acid treatment, as a result of uric acid-induced stimulation of intracellular redox signaling cascades. These findings may be relevant to the increased frequency of fetal growth restriction observed in hyperuricemic preeclampsia. Additionally the results of this study, indicating a detrimental effect of hyperuricemia on amino acid transport in the placenta, at concentrations present in women with preeclampsia, also suggest a role for uric acid in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia.
doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2008.10.015
PMCID: PMC2677697  PMID: 19058847
Uric acid; Amino acid transport; System A; Antioxidants; Redox signaling; Placenta; Preeclampsia; Fetal growth restriction; Hyperuricemia; NADPH oxidase; Probenecid; Explants
5.  Comparing test-specific distress of susceptibility versus deterministic genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease 
Background
Genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be conferred by the susceptibility polymorphism apolipoprotein E (APOE), where the ε4 allele increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease but is not a definitive predictor of the disease, or by autosomal dominant mutations (e.g., the presenilins), which almost inevitably result in early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to compare the psychological impact of using these two different types of genetic information to disclose genetic risk for AD to family members of affected patients.
Methods
Data were compared from two separate protocols. The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study is a randomized, multi-site clinical trial that evaluated the impact of susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease with APOE in 101 adult children of Alzheimer’s disease patients. A separate study, conducted at the University of Washington, assessed the impact of deterministic genetic testing by disclosing presenilin-1, presenilin-2, or TAU genotype to 22 individuals at risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In both protocols, participants received genetic counseling and completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of test-specific distress. Scores were analyzed at the time point closest to one year post-disclosure at which IES data were available. The role of genetic test result (positive vs. negative) and type of genetic testing (deterministic vs. susceptibility) in predicting log-transformed IES scores was assessed with linear regression, controlling for age, gender, and time from disclosure.
Results
Subjects from the REVEAL Study who learned that they were positive for the susceptibility gene APOE ε4+ experienced similar, low levels of test-specific distress compared to those who received positive results of deterministic testing in the University of Washington study (p= 0.78). APOE ε4+ individuals in the susceptibility protocol experienced more test-specific distress than those who tested ε4− in the same study (p= 0.04); however, among those receiving deterministic test disclosure, the subjects who received positive results did not experience significantly higher levels of distress when compared to those who received negative results (p= 0.88).
Conclusions
The findings of this preliminary study, with limited sample size, suggest that the test-related distress experienced by those receiving positive results for a deterministic mutation is similar to the distress experienced by those receiving positive results from genetic susceptibility testing, and that the majority of participants receiving genotype disclosure do not experience clinically significant distress as indicated by IES scores one year after learning of their test results.
doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2008.04.007
PMCID: PMC2610442  PMID: 19012865
genetic susceptibility testing; deterministic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; genetic counseling
6.  Placental System A Amino Acid Transport is Reduced in Pregnancies With Small For Gestational Age (SGA) Infants but Not in Preeclampsia with SGA Infants 
Placenta  2008;29(10):879-882.
Preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are both associated with abnormal remodeling of maternal spiral arteries perfusing the placental site. This would be expected to be associated with reduced fetal growth, yet only one third of infants of mothers with preeclampsia are growth restricted. Infants with IUGR have decreased concentrations of amino acids in their blood and system A amino acid transporter activity is reduced in their placentas. Since infants of preeclamptic pregnancies have increased circulating amino acids, we tested system A amino acid transport activity of placental villous fragments from pregnancies with small for gestational age (SGA) infants with and without maternal preeclampsia and from uncomplicated and preeclamptic pregnancies with normal sized infants. We confirm the reduced uptake of amino acids in SGA pregnancies without preeclampsia but report that placental amino acid uptake of SGA infants with maternal preeclampsia is not reduced and is identical to uptake by normal and preeclamptic pregnancies with normal weight infants.
doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2008.07.001
PMCID: PMC2703008  PMID: 18718657
Placental transport; Amino acid; Preeclampsia; Intrauterine growth restriction
7.  Incorporating ethnicity into genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer disease: the REVEAL study experience 
Purpose
To describe how investigators in a multisite randomized clinical trial addressed scientific and ethical issues involved in creating risk models based on genetic testing for African American participants.
Methods
The following informed our decision whether to stratify risk assessment by ethnicity: evaluation of epidemiological data, appraisal of benefits and risks of incorporating ethnicity into calculations, and feasibility of creating ethnicity-specific risk curves. Once the decision was made, risk curves were created based on data from a large, diverse study of first-degree relatives of patients with Alzheimer disease.
Results
Review of epidemiological data suggested notable differences in risk between African Americans and whites and that Apolipoprotein E genotype predicts risk in both groups. Discussions about the benefits and risks of stratified risk assessments reached consensus that estimates based on data from whites should not preclude enrolling African Americans, but population-specific risk curves should be created if feasible. Risk models specific to ethnicity, gender, and Apolipoprotein E genotype were subsequently developed for the randomized clinical trial that oversampled African Americans.
Conclusion
The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer Disease study provides an instructive example of a process to develop risk assessment protocols that are sensitive to the implications of genetic testing for multiple ethnic groups with differing levels of risk.
doi:10.1097/GIM.0b013e318164e4cf
PMCID: PMC2483343  PMID: 18344711
Alzheimer; ethnicity; genetics; risk; APOE
8.  Health Behavior Changes After Genetic Risk Assessment for Alzheimer Disease: The REVEAL Study 
Risk information for Alzheimer disease (AD) may be communicated through susceptibility gene disclosure, even though this is not currently in clinical use. The REVEAL Study is the first randomized clinical trial of risk assessment for AD with apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and numerical risk estimate disclosure. We examined whether APOE genotype and numerical risk disclosure to asymptomatic individuals at high risk for AD alters health behaviors. One hundred sixty-two participants were randomized to either intervention (APOE disclosure) or control (no genotype disclosure) groups. Subjects in both groups received numerical lifetime risk estimates of future AD development based on sex and family history of AD. The intervention group received their APOE genotype. Subjects were informed that no proven preventive measures for AD existed and given an information sheet on preventative therapies under investigation. Participants who learned they were ε4 positive were significantly more likely than ε4 negative participants to report AD-specific health behavior change 1 year after disclosure (adjusted odds ratio: 2.73; 95% confidence interval: 1.14, 6.54; P = 0.02). Post hoc analyses revealed similar significant associations between numerical lifetime risk estimates and self-report of AD-specific health behavior change. Despite lack of preventive measures for AD, knowledge of APOE genotype, numerical lifetime risk, or both, influences health behavior.
doi:10.1097/WAD.0b013e31815a9dcc
PMCID: PMC2483341  PMID: 18317253
Alzheimer; memory; health behavior change; risk assessment
9.  Environmental policy-making networks and the future of the Amazon 
This article examines four periods of environmental policy-making in the Amazon region of Brazil. It specifically analyses the role of pro-environment and pro-development policy networks in affecting policy design and implementation. It argues that the efforts of environmentalist networks trying to advocate or block relative developmentalist policies in the Amazon depend on three critical factors—whether they are able to attract the support of elites (or at least block their developmentalist policy initiatives); the type and level of international support they have; and the organizational and financial resources that they are able to mobilize. In analysing the four periods, this article finds that while international influences and resources have been substantial in enabling environmentalist networks to flourish and influence the policy, their effectiveness has been nearly always outweighed by Brazilian developmentalist interests. The outcome in each phase has been a different form of stalemate on environmental protection, and the deforestation continued each time, albeit at slower rates. These findings suggest that the key for significantly lower rates of deforestation on the Amazon may be in the ability of pro-environment networks to neutralize opposition by creating an incentive structure that ‘compensates’ potential losers of policies that promote conservation.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2007.0038
PMCID: PMC2375956  PMID: 18267895
Amazon; compensated reduction; avoided deforestation; Planafloro; policy networks; Brazil
10.  The future of the Amazon: new perspectives from climate, ecosystem and social sciences 
The potential loss or large-scale degradation of the tropical rainforests has become one of the iconic images of the impacts of twenty-first century environmental change and may be one of our century's most profound legacies. In the Amazon region, the direct threat of deforestation and degradation is now strongly intertwined with an indirect challenge we are just beginning to understand: the possibility of substantial regional drought driven by global climate change. The Amazon region hosts more than half of the world's remaining tropical forests, and some parts have among the greatest concentrations of biodiversity found anywhere on Earth. Overall, the region is estimated to host about a quarter of all global biodiversity. It acts as one of the major ‘flywheels’ of global climate, transpiring water and generating clouds, affecting atmospheric circulation across continents and hemispheres, and storing substantial reserves of biomass and soil carbon. Hence, the ongoing degradation of Amazonia is a threat to local climate stability and a contributor to the global atmospheric climate change crisis. Conversely, the stabilization of Amazonian deforestation and degradation would be an opportunity for local adaptation to climate change, as well as a potential global contributor towards mitigation of climate change. However, addressing deforestation in the Amazon raises substantial challenges in policy, governance, sustainability and economic science. This paper introduces a theme issue dedicated to a multidisciplinary analysis of these challenges.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0011
PMCID: PMC2367686  PMID: 18267894
tropical forest; deforestation; climate change; fire; Amazonia; Brazil

Results 1-10 (10)