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1.  The Association of Menopausal Status with Physical Function: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2012;19(11):1186-1192.
To determine if post-menopausal status is associated with self-reported limitations in physical function.
SWAN is a multi-site, multi-ethnic, longitudinal study of midlife women. Women aged 45–57 years (N=2,566) completed the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Physical Function Scale at visit 4 (2000–2001); scores created a 3-category variable of physical function limitations: none (86–100), moderate (51–85) and substantial (0–50). Menopausal status in SWAN is a 5-category list variable based on menstrual bleeding patterns and gynecological surgery. Pre-and peri-menopausal women using hormones (n=284) or missing physical function scores (n=46) were excluded. Multinomial logistic regression was used to relate physical function and menopausal status adjusting for age, ethnicity, site, education, body mass index (BMI), self-reported diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, depressive symptoms, smoking and hormone use among postmenopausal women.
Of 2,236 women, 8% were pre-, 51% early peri-, 12% late peri-, 24% natural post-, and 5% surgical post-menopausal status. In the full model, substantial limitations in physical function were higher in post-menopausal compared to pre-menopausal women whether it occurred naturally (OR 3.82; 95% CI: 1.46–10.0) or surgically (OR 3.54; 95% CI: 1.15–10.84). These associations were attenuated by higher BMI and depressive symptoms, but remained significant. Moderate limitations in physical function were not significantly related to menopausal status.
Women with surgical or naturally occurring post-menopause reported greater limitations in physical function than pre-menopausal women, independent of age, only partly explained by higher BMI and depressive symptoms. This suggests that physiologic changes of menopause could contribute directly to limitations in physical function.
PMCID: PMC3526111  PMID: 22760087
Physical functioning; Functional limitations; Menopause; Menopausal status; SF-36
2.  Adverse Respiratory Symptoms and Environmental Exposures Among Children and Adolescents Following Hurricane Katrina 
Public Health Reports  2011;126(6):853-860.
Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to environmental exposures and their respiratory effects. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, residents experienced multiple adverse environmental exposures. We characterized the association between upper respiratory symptoms (URS) and lower respiratory symptoms (LRS) and environmental exposures among children and adolescents affected by Hurricane Katrina.
We conducted a cross-sectional study following the return of the population to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (October 2005 and February 2006) among a convenience sample of children and adolescents attending New Orleans health facilities. We used uni-, bi-, and multivariable analyses to describe participants, exposures, and associations with URS/LRS.
Of 1,243 participants, 47% were Caucasian, 50% were male, and 72% were younger than 11 years of age. Multiple environmental exposures were identified during and after the storm and at current residences: roof/glass/storm damage (50%), outside mold (22%), dust (18%), and flood damage (15%). Self-reported URS and LRS (76% and 36%, respectively) were higher after the hurricane than before the hurricane (22% and 9%, respectively, p<0.0001). Roof/glass/storm damage at home was associated with URS (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15, 2.21) and LRS (AOR=1.35, 95% CI 1.01, 1.80), while mold growth at home was associated with LRS (AOR=1.47, 95% CI 1.02, 2.12).
Children and adolescents affected by Hurricane Katrina experienced environmental exposures associated with increased prevalence of reported URS and LRS. Additional research is needed to investigate the long-term health impacts of Hurricane Katrina.
PMCID: PMC3185321  PMID: 22043101
3.  Education and levels of salivary cortisol over the day in U.S. adults 
Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is hypothesized to be an important pathway linking socioeconomic position and chronic disease.
This paper tests the association between education and the diurnal rhythm of salivary cortisol.
Up to 8 measures of cortisol (mean of 5.38 per respondent) over two days were obtained from 311 respondents, aged 18–70, drawn from the 2001–2002 Chicago Community Adult Health Study. Multi-level models with linear splines were used to estimate waking level, rates of cortisol decline, and area-under-the-curve over the day, by categories of education.
Lower education (0–11 years) was associated with lower waking levels of cortisol, but not the rate of decline of cortisol, resulting in a higher area-under-the-curve for more educated respondents throughout the day.
This study found evidence of lower cortisol exposure among individuals with less education and thus does not support the hypothesis that less education is associated with chronic over-exposure to cortisol.
PMCID: PMC3486742  PMID: 20812036
4.  Demyelination Causes Synaptic Alterations in Hippocampi from Multiple Sclerosis Patients 
Annals of neurology  2011;69(3):445-454.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the human central nervous system. While the clinical impact of gray matter pathology in MS brains is unknown, 30–40% of MS patients demonstrate memory impairment. The molecular basis of this memory dysfunction has not yet been investigated in MS patients.
To investigate possible mechanisms of memory impairment in MS patients, we compared morphological and molecular changes in myelinated and demyelinated hippocampi from postmortem MS brains.
Demyelinated hippocampi had minimal neuronal loss but significant decreases in synaptic density. Neuronal proteins essential for axonal transport, synaptic plasticity, glutamate neurotransmission, glutamate homeostasis and memory/learning were significantly decreased in demyelinated hippocampi, but not in demyelinated motor cortices from MS brains.
Collectively, these data support hippocampal demyelination as a cause of synaptic alterations in MS patients and establish that the neuronal genes regulated by myelination reflect specific functions of neuronal subpopulations.
PMCID: PMC3073544  PMID: 21446020
Multiple Sclerosis; hippocampus; demyelination; memory
5.  The Influence of Menopausal Status and Postmenopausal Use of Hormone Therapy on Presentation of Major Depression in Women 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2010;17(4):828-839.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether there are differences in depression characteristics among premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women with major depressive disorder. This study also evaluated these differences between postmenopausal women with major depressive disorder who are taking and not taking hormone therapy.
Analyses conducted with data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression study focused on female outpatients with non-psychotic major depressive disorder seeking treatment in 41 primary or psychiatric care settings across the United States. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were compared among women not taking hormone therapy who were premenopausal (N=950), perimenopausal (N=380), or postmenopausal (N=562). These comparisons were also made between postmenopausal women (n=768) taking (N=171) or not taking (N=562) hormone therapy.
After adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical baseline differences, premenopausal women were more likely to present with irritability than either peri- or postmenopausal women, and were more likely to have decreased appetite and less likely to have early morning insomnia than perimenopausal women. Postmenopausal women were more likely to have suicidal ideation and poorer physical functioning than either of the other groups, and were more likely to have sympathetic arousal and gastrointestinal symptoms than premenopausal women. After adjusting for baseline differences, postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy had better physical functioning, fewer melancholic features, less sympathetic arousal, and more lack of involvement in activities than women not taking hormone therapy.
Menopausal status and postmenopausal use of hormone therapy may influence the clinical presentation of major depressive episodes in women.
PMCID: PMC2949279  PMID: 20616669
menopause; hormone therapy; depression; major depressive disorder
6.  Cognitive modulation of endocrine responses to CRH stimulation in healthy subjects 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2009;35(3):451-459.
The hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis is critical for biobehavioral adaptation to challenge and appears dysregulated in a range of psychiatric disorders. Its precise role in psychopathology remains unclear and discrepant and difficult to explain findings abound in the clinical literature. Basic research suggests this system is sensitive to psychosocial cues, but psychosocial milieu factors are rarely controlled or examined in psychiatric studies using biological probes of the HPA axis. To test the hypothesis that psychological factors might complicate HPA study results even in direct, pharmacological challenge paradigms, endocrine responses to corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) were examined under two different cognitive preparation conditions.
Healthy subjects (n=32) received standard instructions or a cognitive intervention (CI) prior to injection with CRH and placebo, given on separate days in random order. The CI combined access to control over drug exposure with novelty reduction and coping enhancement. Blood samples were obtained via intravenous catheter before and after CRH.
Cognitive intervention reduced corticotropin (ACTH) levels, but only when CRH was given first (intervention by order interaction). It did not reduce cortisol response. The CI and visit (1st or 2nd) both impacted cortisol levels on placebo day.
Modifiable psychological factors may amplify or inhibit HPA axis activity in pharmacological activation paradigms, including CRH stimulation tests. The factors manipulated by the CI (novelty/familiarity, control and coping) may have particular salience to the HPA axis. Differential sensitivity to such factors could impact results in studies applying biological HPA probes to psychiatric populations.
PMCID: PMC2824051  PMID: 19758763
stress; cortisol; ACTH, corticotropin-releasing hormone; control; coping
7.  Gender Specific Disruptions in Emotion Processing in Younger Adults with Depression 
Depression and anxiety  2009;26(2):182-189.
One of the principal theories regarding the biological basis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) implicates a dysregulation of emotion processing circuitry. Gender differences in how emotions are processed and relative experience with emotion processing might help to explain some of the disparities in the prevalence of MDD between women and men. The current study sought to explore how gender and depression status relate to emotion processing.
This study employed a 2 (MDD status) × 2 (gender) factorial design to explore differences in classifications of posed facial emotional expressions (N = 151).
For errors, there was an interaction between gender and depression status. Women with MDD made more errors than did non-depressed women and men with MDD, particularly for fearful and sad stimuli (ps < .02), which they were likely to misinterpret as angry (ps < .04). There was also an interaction of diagnosis and gender for response cost for negative stimuli, with significantly greater interference from negative faces present in women with MDD compared with non-depressed women (p = .01). Men with MDD, conversely, performed similarly to control men (p = .61).
These results provide novel and intriguing evidence that depression in younger adults (< 35 years) differentially disrupts emotion processing in women as compared to men. This interaction could be driven by neurobiological and social learning mechanisms, or interactions between them, and may underlie differences in the prevalence of depression in women and men.
PMCID: PMC3013355  PMID: 18800371
psychiatric disorders; affect perception; sex differences
8.  SSRI response in depression may be influenced by SNPs in HTR1B and HTR1A 
Psychiatric genetics  2009;19(6):281-291.
Desensitization of serotonin 1A (HTR1A) and 1B (HTR1B) autoreceptors has been proposed to be involved in the delayed onset of response to SSRIs. Variations in gene expression in these genes may thus affect SSRI response. Here we test this hypothesis in two samples from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D), and show evidence for involvement of several genetic variants alone and in interaction. Initially, three functional SNPs in the HTR1B gene and in the HTR1A gene were analyzed in 153 depressed patients treated with citalopram. QIDS-C scores were evaluated over time with respect to genetic variation. Subjects homozygous for the - 1019 G allele (rs6295) in HTR1A showed higher baseline QIDS scores (p = 0.033), and by 12 weeks had a significantly lower response rate (p = 0.005). HTR1B haplotypes were estimated according to previously reported in-vitro expression levels. Individuals who were homozygous for the high-expression haplotype showed significantly slower response to citalopram (p = 0.034).
We then analyzed more SNPs in the extended overall STAR*D sample. Although we could not directly test the same functional SNPs, we found that homozygotes for the G allele at rs1364043 in HTR1A (p = 0.045) and the C allele of rs6298 in HTR1B showed better response to citalopram over time (p = 0.022). Test for interaction between rs6298 in HTR1B and rs1364043 in HTR1A was significant (overall p = 0.032)
Our data suggest that an enhanced capacity of HTR1B or HTR1A transcriptional activity may impair desensitization of the autoreceptors during SSRI treatment.
PMCID: PMC2783179  PMID: 19829169
SSRI; depression; haplotype; HTR1B; HTR1A; association
9.  Association of Daily Stressors and Salivary Cortisol in Spinal Cord Injury 
Rehabilitation psychology  2009;54(3):288-298.
Examine the diurnal variation of salivary cortisol in adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) and the effect of stressors on cortisol and mood.
Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to capture cortisol, stress and mood from 25 persons with SCI and 26 without SCI. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models.
There were no systematic differences between groups on missing data. Diurnal variation of cortisol of participants with SCI reflected an expected pattern. No significant group differences for cortisol diurnal pattern, stress or mood; when group interactions were significant, results indicated lower cortisol reactivity to stress in participants with SCI. Stress had a significant impact on positive, negative and agitated moods.
Stress in daily life and its association with cortisol and mood were largely similar between persons with and without SCI. A key methodological contribution is the demonstration of using EMA to collect biological and behavioral data in the field from participants with SCI. The use of EMA in rehabilitation psychology research has great potential to advance our understanding of the dynamics of daily life with disability.
PMCID: PMC2924200  PMID: 19702427
spinal cord injuries; stress, psychological; hydrocortisone; ecological momentary assessment
10.  Frontal and Limbic Activation During Inhibitory Control Predicts Treatment Response in Major Depressive Disorder 
Biological psychiatry  2007;62(11):1272-1280.
Inhibitory control or regulatory difficulties have been explored in major depressive disorder (MDD) but typically in the context of affectively salient information. Inhibitory control is addressed specifically by using a task devoid of affectively-laden stimuli, to disentangle the effects of altered affect and altered inhibitory processes in MDD.
Twenty MDD and 22 control volunteer participants matched by age and gender completed a contextual inhibitory control task, the Parametric Go/No-go (PGNG) task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. The PGNG includes three levels of difficulty, a typical continuous performance task and two progressively more difficult versions including Go/No-go hit and rejection trials. After this test, 15 of 20 MDD patients completed a full 10-week treatment with s-citalopram.
There was a significant interaction among response time (control subjects better), hits (control subjects better), and rejections (patients better). The MDD participants had greater activation compared with the control group in frontal and anterior temporal areas during correct rejections (inhibition). Activation during successful inhibitory events in bilateral inferior frontal and left amygdala, insula, and nucleus accumbens and during unsuccessful inhibition (commission errors) in rostral anterior cingulate predicted post-treatment improvement in depression symptoms.
The imaging findings suggest that in MDD subjects, greater neural activation in frontal, limbic, and temporal regions during correct rejection of lures is necessary to achieve behavioral performance equivalent to control subjects. Greater activation in similar regions was further predictive of better treatment response in MDD.
PMCID: PMC2860742  PMID: 17585888
Depression; executive functioning; fMRI; imaging; inhibitory control; mood disorders; SSRIs; treatment response
11.  Effects of perceived control and cognitive coping on endocrine stress responses to pharmacological activation 
Biological psychiatry  2008;64(8):701-707.
The hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis may mediate negative health effects of stress. It is sensitive to cognitive/emotional factors like novelty, perceived control and coping. Psychological intervention that reduces novelty, and enhances cognitive coping and sense of control can reduce cortisol responses to pentagastrin, a pharmacological HPA activator. This study attempted to identify the core factors that modulate HPA axis activity in this model.
Varying instructions were administered prior to drug exposure in a two-visit (placebo first) pentagastrin infusion paradigm. Healthy subjects (n=40) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 instruction groups: (1) Standard instruction (SI); (2) Full cognitive intervention (CI); (3) The CI control component alone; or (4) The CI novelty reduction/coping components alone. Blood samples were obtained via intravenous catheter before and after pentagastrin.
Subjects receiving an intervention had smaller cortisol responses than subjects receiving standard instructions. “Coping” alone had as strong an impact as the more complex intervention that combined “coping” and “control.” “Control alone” also reduced cortisol but its HPA impact appeared less robust.
Brief psychological manipulation can significantly reduce HPA activation in challenge paradigms. Cognitive preparation that focused on side effects, reduced potential surprise and enhanced cognitive coping modulated HPA axis activity as effectively as a previously tested intervention that combined coping and control manipulations. A sense of control alone also reduced cortisol release. The results support development of “control” or “coping” techniques to combat negative health effects of stress that are mediated by HPA axis activation.
PMCID: PMC2579765  PMID: 18571624
stress; cortisol; pentagastrin; control; coping; anxiety
12.  Gender Differences in Depression Symptoms in Treatment-Seeking Adults: STAR*D Confirmatory Analyses 
Comprehensive psychiatry  2008;49(3):238-246.
While epidemiologic research consistently reports greater prevalence of major depressive disorder in women, small sample sizes in many studies do not allow for full elaboration of illness characteristics. This paper examines gender differences in terms of illness attributes in a cohort of 2541 outpatients from across the United States who enrolled in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study.
Confirmatory analyses were performed in 2541 outpatients comparing men and women with regard to socio-demographic features, comorbid Axis I and Axis III conditions, and illness characteristics. Results were compared to those of our previous report on the initial population of the first 1500 individuals enrolled in STAR*D.
In both samples, nearly two-thirds of the sample (62.5%) were women. Women had greater symptom severity, but men had more episodes of major depression, despite no difference in the length of illness. No differences in age of onset emerged. As in the first cohort, women showed greater rates of an anxiety disorder, bulimia and somatoform disorder, as well as more past suicide attempts, while men showed more alcohol and substance abuse. Women reported more appetite, weight, hypersomnia, interpersonal sensitivity, gastrointestinal and pain complaints, and less suicidal ideation. Irritability was equally common in men and women.
This large analysis confirmed most of the clinical features and co-morbidities found to be more prevalent in the first cohort of women. Additionally, this analysis corroborated previous research suggesting higher rates of atypical and anxious depression in women, but refuted the notion of an “irritable depression” found in men. The report confirmed the 1.7:1 ratio for depression seen across genders in the National Comorbidity Survey.
PMCID: PMC2759282  PMID: 18396182
Women; Depression; Prevalence; Gender
13.  Sex Differences in ACTH Pulsatility following Metyrapone Blockade in Patients with Major Depression 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2007;32(5):503-507.
Numerous studies suggest that increased central drive to the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis occurs in patients with major depression. To determine if increased central drive occurs throughout the 24H, we evaluated ACTH secretion under metyrapone blockade of cortisol production. We collected blood every 10 minutes for measurement of ACTH and data were analyzed for ACTH pulsatility using the pulse detection algorithm deconvolution. We studied 28 patients with major depression and 28 age and sex matched control subjects, of which 9 pairs were men and 19 pairs were women. We found a significant group by sex interaction with number of ACTH pulses (p=.04); depressed men showed more ACTH pulses over 24H than matched control men (p=0.02). There was also a significant sex difference in AUC pulses with men showing a smaller AUC ACTH than women. Previous analyses of these data with RM-ANOVA showed a smaller ACTH response in depressed men compared to control men. These data suggest that pulsatility and mean ACTH levels are examining different aspects of HPA axis function, and that the types of HPA axis dysregulation in depression may differ between men and women.
PMCID: PMC1975691  PMID: 17462829
depression; ACTH; Hormone pulsatility; stress; HPA axis; cortisol

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