The HIV integrase inhibitor, Dolutegravir (DTG), was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and is the only HIV drug that has not selected for resistance mutations in the clinic when used as part of first-line therapy. This has led to speculation that DTG might have a higher genetic barrier for the development of drug resistance than the other compounds that are used in therapy.
In this Opinion article, we speculate that this is due to greatly diminished replication capacity on the part of viruses that might become resistant to DTG when the drug is used in initial therapy and that DTG might be able to be used in HIV prevention and eradication strategies. We also note that no compensatory mutation that might restore viral replication fitness to HIV in the aftermath of the appearance of a single drug resistance mutation has yet to be observed.
DTG is a valuable addition to the anti-HIV armamentarium of drugs and its long-term utility may potentially exceed its obvious use in treatment of HIV disease.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1; Integrase inhibitors; Antiretroviral therapy; Dolutegravir; HIV prevention strategies; Viral fitness; Drug resistance
Dementia is a major public health problem that poses an increasing burden on the health and wealth of societies worldwide. Because the efficacy of current treatments is limited, increasing efforts are required to prevent the diseases that cause dementia.
We consider the evidence that lifelong prevention strategies may be an effective way to tackle the national burden of dementia in the absence of a cure. The links between lifestyle and cardiovascular disease are widely understood and accepted, but health professionals and patients remain unconvinced about the extent to which risk for dementia can be modified. However, there is strong evidence that at least half of risk for dementia is attributable to lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and smoking. Moreover, the disease processes that result in dementia develop over several decades, implying that attempts to ameliorate them need to start early in life. Some modifiable risk factors for dementia act from the earliest stages of life, including in utero.
Rebalancing efforts from the development of treatments to increased emphasis on prevention may be an alternative means to reducing the impact of dementia on society.
Dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; Prevention; Epidemiology
‘Encephalomyelitis disseminata’ (multiple sclerosis) and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are both classified as diseases of the central nervous system by the World Health Organization. This review aims to compare the phenomenological and neuroimmune characteristics of MS with those of ME/CFS.
There are remarkable phenomenological and neuroimmune overlaps between both disorders. Patients with ME/CFS and MS both experience severe levels of disabling fatigue and a worsening of symptoms following exercise and resort to energy conservation strategies in an attempt to meet the energy demands of day-to-day living. Debilitating autonomic symptoms, diminished cardiac responses to exercise, orthostatic intolerance and postural hypotension are experienced by patients with both illnesses. Both disorders show a relapsing-remitting or progressive course, while infections and psychosocial stress play a large part in worsening of fatigue symptoms. Activated immunoinflammatory, oxidative and nitrosative (O+NS) pathways and autoimmunity occur in both illnesses. The consequences of O+NS damage to self-epitopes is evidenced by the almost bewildering and almost identical array of autoantibodies formed against damaged epitopes seen in both illnesses. Mitochondrial dysfunctions, including lowered levels of ATP, decreased phosphocreatine synthesis and impaired oxidative phosphorylation, are heavily involved in the pathophysiology of both MS and ME/CFS. The findings produced by neuroimaging techniques are quite similar in both illnesses and show decreased cerebral blood flow, atrophy, gray matter reduction, white matter hyperintensities, increased cerebral lactate and choline signaling and lowered acetyl-aspartate levels.
This review shows that there are neuroimmune similarities between MS and ME/CFS. This further substantiates the view that ME/CFS is a neuroimmune illness and that patients with MS are immunologically primed to develop symptoms of ME/CFS.
Encephalomyelitis disseminata; Myalgic encephalomyelitis; Chronic fatigue syndrome; Inflammation; Autoimmunity; Oxidative and nitrosative stress; Mitochondria
We now know that depression is associated with a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response and activation of cell-mediated immunity, as well as activation of the compensatory anti-inflammatory reflex system. It is similarly accompanied by increased oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), which contribute to neuroprogression in the disorder. The obvious question this poses is ‘what is the source of this chronic low-grade inflammation?’
This review explores the role of inflammation and oxidative and nitrosative stress as possible mediators of known environmental risk factors in depression, and discusses potential implications of these findings. A range of factors appear to increase the risk for the development of depression, and seem to be associated with systemic inflammation; these include psychosocial stressors, poor diet, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, altered gut permeability, atopy, dental cares, sleep and vitamin D deficiency.
The identification of known sources of inflammation provides support for inflammation as a mediating pathway to both risk and neuroprogression in depression. Critically, most of these factors are plastic, and potentially amenable to therapeutic and preventative interventions. Most, but not all, of the above mentioned sources of inflammation may play a role in other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Depression; Inflammation; Cytokines; Diet; Obesity; Exercise; Smoking; Vitamin D; Dental cares; Sleep; Atopic; Gut; Oxidative stress
Over the last few years, accumulating data have implicated a role for ferritin as a signaling molecule and direct mediator of the immune system. Hyperferritinemia is associated with a multitude of clinical conditions and with worse prognosis in critically ill patients.
There are four uncommon medical conditions characterized by high levels of ferritin, namely the macrophage activation syndrome (MAS), adult onset Still’s disease (AOSD), catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (cAPS) and septic shock, that share a similar clinical and laboratory features, and also respond to similar treatments, suggesting a common pathogenic mechanism. Ferritin is known to be a pro-inflammatory mediator inducing expression of pro-inflammatory molecules, yet it has opposing actions as a pro-inflammatory and as an immunosuppressant. We propose that the exceptionally high ferritin levels observed in these uncommon clinical conditions are not just the product of the inflammation but rather may contribute to the development of a cytokine storm.
Here we review and compare four clinical conditions and the role of ferritin as an immunomodulator. We would like to propose including these four conditions under a common syndrome entity termed “Hyperferritinemic Syndrome”.
Hyperferritinemia; Macrophage activation syndrome (MAS); Adult onset Still’s disease (AOSD); Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (cAPS); Septic shock
This opinion article on the management of type 2 diabetes considers the old and new format of guidelines and critical changes in the character of such guidelines. We highlight limitations of the guidelines and make recommendations for how treatment can be more personalised.
Published guidelines for the management of adult-onset non-insulin requiring diabetes have adopted a formulaic approach to patient management that can be overseen centrally and delivered by personnel with limited training. Recently, guidelines have taken a patient-centered, multiple risk-factor approach. Importantly, local funding issues are considered, but drive the final action and not the decision-making process. The nature of the disease can be determined by laboratory tests, including screening for diabetes-associated autoantibodies. The strategy remains step-up, with intensification of drug or insulin dose. As with past guidelines, there is an assumption that in each patient with type 2 diabetes, metformin is used initially, but targets and therapies then veer in different directions to create a matrix of options based on the features and responses of each individual. Factors to consider include: (A)ge, (B)ody weight, (C)omplications and co-morbidities, Diabetes (D)uration and (E)xpense, but also patient preference and patient response.
Guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes have important limitations and a patient-centered, multiple target, multiple therapy approach is proposed.
Type 2 diabetes; Guidelines; Personalised treatment; Diabetes management; Patient-centered therapy
The furore preceding the release of the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is in contrast to the incremental changes to several diagnostic categories, which are derived from new research since its predecessor’s birth in 1990. While many of these changes are indeed controversial, they do reflect the intrinsic ambiguity of the extant literature. Additionally, this may be a mirror of the frustration of the field’s limited progress, especially given the false hopes at the dawn of the “decade of the brain”. In the absence of a coherent pathophysiology, the DSM remains no more than a set of consensus based operationalized adjectives, albeit with some degree of reliability. It does not cleave nature at its joints, nor does it aim to, but neither does alternate systems. The largest problem with the DSM system is how it’s used; sometimes too loosely by clinicians, and too rigidly by regulators, insurers, lawyers and at times researchers, who afford it reference and deference disproportionate to its overt acknowledged limitations.
DSM-V; Diagnosis; Pathophysiology; DSM-V; Symptoms; Classification
Autism is usually conceptualized as a disorder or disease that involves fundamentally abnormal neurodevelopment. In the present work, the hypothesis that a suite of core autism-related traits may commonly represent simple delays or non-completion of typical childhood developmental trajectories is evaluated.
A comprehensive review of the literature indicates that, with regard to the four phenotypes of (1) restricted interests and repetitive behavior, (2) short-range and long-range structural and functional brain connectivity, (3) global and local visual perception and processing, and (4) the presence of absolute pitch, the differences between autistic individuals and typically developing individuals closely parallel the differences between younger and older children.
The results of this study are concordant with a model of ‘developmental heterochrony’, and suggest that evolutionary extension of child development along the human lineage has potentiated and structured genetic risk for autism and the expression of autistic perception, cognition and behavior.
Autism; Development; Evolution; Heterochrony
Almost 25 years ago, the concept of the ‘mosaic of autoimmunity’ was introduced to the scientific community, and since then this concept has continuously evolved, with new pebbles being added regularly. We are now looking at an era in which the players of autoimmunity have changed names and roles. In this issue of BMC Medicine, several aspects of autoimmunity have been addressed, suggesting that we are now at the forefront of autoimmunity science. Within the environmental factors generating autoimmunity are now included unsuspected molecules such as vitamin D and aluminum. Some adjuvants such as aluminum are recognized as causal factors in the development of the autoimmune response. An entirely new syndrome, the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA), has been recently described. This is the new wind blowing within the branches of autoimmunity, adding knowledge to physicians for helping patients with autoimmune disease.
Autoimmunity; Autoantibodies; Autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA); Systemic lupus erythematosus; Vitamin D; Adjuvant
Clinical psychiatry has always been limited by the lack of objective tests to substantiate diagnoses and a lack of specific treatments that target underlying pathophysiology. One area in which these twin failures has been most frustrating is major depression. Due to very considerable progress in the basic and clinical neurosciences of sleep-wake cycles and underlying circadian systems this situation is now rapidly changing.
The development of specific behavioral or pharmacological strategies that target these basic regulatory systems is driving renewed clinical interest. Here, we explore the extent to which objective tests of sleep-wake cycles and circadian function - namely, those that measure timing or synchrony of circadian-dependent physiology as well as daytime activity and nighttime sleep patterns - can be used to identify a sub-class of patients with major depression who have disturbed circadian profiles.
Once this unique pathophysiology is characterized, a highly personalized treatment plan can be proposed and monitored. New treatments will now be designed and old treatments re-evaluated on the basis of their effects on objective measures of sleep-wake cycles, circadian rhythms and related metabolic systems.
Major depression; Sleep-wake cycle; Circadian rhythms
Dyskinesia, a major complication in the treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD), can require prolonged monitoring and complex medical management.
The current paper proposes a new way to view the management of dyskinesia in an integrated fashion. We suggest that dyskinesia be considered as a factor in a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) equation where the signal is the voluntary movement and the noise is PD symptomatology, including dyskinesia. The goal of clinicians should be to ensure a high SNR in order to maintain or enhance the motor repertoire of patients. To understand why such an approach would be beneficial, we first review mechanisms of dyskinesia, as well as their impact on the quality of life of patients and on the health-care system. Theoretical and practical bases for the SNR approach are then discussed.
Clinicians should not only consider the level of motor symptomatology when assessing the efficacy of their treatment strategy, but also breadth of the motor repertoire available to patients.
LID; DID; Levodopa; Deep brain stimulation; DBS; Treatment; Quality of life; Motor complication; Motor fluctuations; Algorithm
There is compelling evidence to support an aetiological role for inflammation, oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), and mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathophysiology of major neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). These may represent new pathways for therapy. Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is an irreversible inhibitor of both cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2, It stimulates endogenous production of anti-inflammatory regulatory 'braking signals', including lipoxins, which dampen the inflammatory response and reduce levels of inflammatory biomarkers, including C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin (IL)--6, but not negative immunoregulatory cytokines, such as IL-4 and IL-10. Aspirin can reduce oxidative stress and protect against oxidative damage. Early evidence suggests there are beneficial effects of aspirin in preclinical and clinical studies in mood disorders and schizophrenia, and epidemiological data suggests that high-dose aspirin is associated with a reduced risk of AD. Aspirin, one of the oldest agents in medicine, is a potential new therapy for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, and may provide proof-of-principle support for the role of inflammation and O&NS in the pathophysiology of this diverse group of disorders.
aspirin; depression; schizophrenia; dementia; inflammation; cytokines; neuroprogression; treatment; COX
Improvements to medical practice and delivery of treatment has been the focus of many international collaborations aiming to address the delivery of appropriate health care in low- and middle-income countries. However, this is compounded by various social, cultural as well as resource allocation issues. This Editorial marks the launch of an article collection on Medicine for Global Health (http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmed/series/medicine_for_global_health), and here, guest editor Gretchen Birbeck discusses the challenges, importance and increasing relevance of global health.
Despite the increasing understanding of the mechanisms relating to weight loss and maintenance, there are currently no validated public health interventions that are able to achieve sustained long-term weight loss or to stem the increasing prevalence of obesity in the population. We aimed to examine the models of energy balance underpinning current research about weight-loss intervention from the field of public health, and to determine whether they are consistent with the model provided by basic science. EMBASE was searched for papers published in 2011 on weight-loss interventions. We extracted details of the population, nature of the intervention, and key findings for 27 articles.
Most public health interventions identified were based on a simple model of energy balance, and thus attempted to reduce caloric consumption and/or increase physical activity in order to create a negative energy balance. There appeared to be little consideration of homeostatic feedback mechanisms and their effect on weight-loss success. It seems that there has been a lack of translation between recent advances in understanding of the basic science behind weight loss, and the concepts underpinning the increasingly urgent efforts to reduce excess weight in the population.
Public health weight-loss interventions seem to be based on an outdated understanding of the science. Their continued failure to achieve any meaningful, long-term results reflects the need to develop intervention science that is integrated with knowledge from basic science. Instead of asking why people persist in eating too much and exercising too little, the key questions of obesity research should address those factors (environmental, behavioral or otherwise) that lead to dysregulation of the homeostatic mechanism of energy regulation. There is a need for a multidisciplinary approach in the design of future weight-loss interventions in order to improve long-term weight-loss success.
Energy balance; obesity; public health; weight-loss intervention
As a result of increasing life expectancies, continuing physical careers, lifestyles into later life and rising obesity levels, the number of younger patients presenting with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is increasing. When conservative management options have been exhausted, the challenge for the orthopedic surgeon is to offer a procedure that will relieve symptoms and allow a return to a high level of function but not compromise future surgery that may be required as disease progresses or prostheses fail and require revision. We discuss the options available to this group of patients and the relative benefits and potential negative points of each. Total knee replacement (TKR) in the young patient is associated with high risk of early failure and the need for future revision surgery. After TKR, most surgeons advise limitation of sporting activities. If osteoarthritis is limited to only one compartment in the knee there may be surgical options other than TKR. Osteotomy above or below the knee may be considered and works by redirecting the load passing through the joint into the relatively unaffected compartment. A unicompartmental knee replacement (UKR) or patella-femoral joint (PFJ) replacement only replaces the articular surfaces in the affected compartment, leaving the unaffected compartments untouched with better preservation of the soft tissues. Which of these options is best for a particular patient depends upon the patient's symptoms, precise pathology, lifestyle, and expectations.
high tibial osteotomy; osteoarthritis; total knee replacement; unicondylar knee replacement.
Early randomized controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrated the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (n-3), whereas recent RCTs were negative. We now address the issue, focusing on the temporal changes having occurred: most patients in recent RCTs are no longer n-3 deficient and the vast majority are now treated with statins. Recent RCTs testing n-3 against arrhythmias suggest that n-3 reduce the risk only in patients not taking a statin. Other recent RCTs in secondary prevention were negative although, in a post-hoc analysis separating statin users and non-users, non-significant protection of n-3 was observed among statin non-users whereas statin users had no effect. Recent RCTs testing statins - after the implementation of the New Clinical Trial Regulation in 2007 - are negative (or flawed) suggesting that the lack of effect of n-3 cannot be attributed to a parallel protection by statins. Finally, statins favor the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids (n-6), which in turn inhibits n-3 and, contrary to n-3, they increase insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes. Thus, n-3 and statins are counteractive at several levels and statins appear to inhibit n-3.
omega-3 fatty acids; statins; ischemic heart disease; myocardial infarction; randomized clinical trials; epidemiology; mitochondria; insulin resistance; diabetes; n-6 fatty acids
Research on the role of diet in the prevention of depression is scarce. Some evidence suggests that depression shares common mechanisms with cardiovascular disease.
Before considering the role of diet in the prevention of depression, several points need to be considered. First, in general, evidence has been found for the effects of isolated nutrients or foods, and not for dietary patterns. Second, most previous studies have a cross-sectional design. Third, information is generally collected though questionnaires, increasing the risk of misclassification bias. Fourth, adequate control of confounding factors in observational studies is mandatory.
Only a few cohort studies have analyzed the relationship between overall dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, and primary prevention of depression. They have found similar results to those obtained for the role of this dietary pattern in cardiovascular disease. To confirm the findings obtained in these initial cohort studies, we need further observational longitudinal studies with improved methodology, as well as large randomized primary prevention trials, with interventions based on changes in the overall food pattern, that include participants at high risk of mental disorders.
Cohort study; dietary patterns; Mediterranean diet; omega-3; trans fatty acids; nutrigenetics; primary prevention trial
In this article, we discuss the most common epidemiological methods used for evaluating the ability of mammography screening to decrease the risk of breast cancer death in general populations (effectiveness). Case-control studies usually find substantial effectiveness. However when breast cancer mortality decreases for reasons unrelated to screening, the case-control design may attribute to screening mortality reductions due to other causes. Studies based on incidence-based mortality have obtained contrasted results compatible with modest to considerable effectiveness, probably because of differences in study design and statistical analysis. In areas where screening has been widespread for a long time, the incidence of advanced breast cancer should be decreasing, which in turn would translate into reduced mortality. However, no or modest declines in the incidence of advanced breast cancer has been observed in these areas. Breast cancer mortality should decrease more rapidly in areas with early introduction of screening than in areas with late introduction of screening. Nonetheless, no difference in breast mortality trends has been observed between areas with early or late screening start. When effectiveness is assessed using incidence-based mortality studies, or the monitoring of advanced cancer incidence, or trends in mortality, the ecological bias is an inherent limitation that is not easy to control. Minimization of this bias requires data over long periods of time, careful selection of populations being compared and availability of data on major confounding factors. If case-control studies seem apparently more adequate for evaluating screening effectiveness, this design has its own limitations and results must be viewed with caution.
See related Opinion article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/106 and Commentary http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/164
breast cancer; case-control; effectiveness; epidemiology; incidence; mortality; screening
There is a need for the development of effective universal preventive approaches to the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety, at a population level. Poor diet, physical inactivity and smoking have long been recognized as key contributors to the high prevalence noncommunicable diseases. However, there are now an increasing number of studies suggesting that the same modifiable lifestyle behaviors are also risk factors for common mental disorders. In this paper we point to the emerging data regarding lifestyle risk factors for common mental disorders, with a particular focus on and critique of the newest evidence regarding diet quality. On the basis of this most recent evidence, we consequently argue for the inclusion of depression and anxiety in the ranks of the high prevalence noncommunicable diseases influenced by habitual lifestyle practices. We believe that it is both feasible and timely to begin to develop effective, sustainable, population-level prevention initiatives for the common mental illnesses that build on the established and developing approaches to the noncommunicable somatic diseases.
Anxiety; etiology; common mental disorders; diet; depression; lifestyle; physical activity; prevention; risk; smoking
Since the first description of the case of Auguste Deter, presented in Tübingen in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer, there has been an exponential increase in our knowledge of the neuropathological, cellular, and molecular foundation of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The concept of AD pathogenesis has evolved from a static, binary view discriminating cognitive normality from dementia, towards a dynamic view that considers AD pathology as a long-lasting morbid process that takes place progressively over years, or even decades, before the first symptoms become apparent, and thus operating in a continuum between the two aforementioned extreme states. Several biomarkers have been proposed to predict AD-related cognitive decline, initially in cases with mild cognitive impairment, and more recently in cognitively intact individuals. These early markers define at-risk individuals thought to be in the preclinical phase of AD. However, the clinical relevance of this preclinical phase remains controversial. The fate of such individuals, who are cognitively intact, but positive for some early AD biomarkers, is currently uncertain at best. In this report, we advocate the point of view that although most of these preclinical cases will evolve to clinically overt AD, some appear to have efficient compensatory mechanisms and virtually never develop dementia. We critically review the currently available early AD markers, discuss their clinical relevance, and propose a novel classification of preclinical AD, designating these non-progressing cases as 'stable asymptomatic cerebral amyloidosis'.
Alzheimer disease; asymptomatic; cerebral amyloidosis; cognition; compensatory phenomena; dementia
A decline in breast cancer mortality has been observed in western European Countries since the middle of the 1990s.
Different methodological approaches, including case-control studies, incidence-based mortality studies, and trend studies, have been used to assess the effectiveness of mammography screening programmes in reducing breast cancer mortality. However, not all methods succeed in distinguishing the relative contributions of service screening and taking correctly into consideration the potential source of bias that might affect the estimate.
Recently, a review of six case-control studies confirmed a breast cancer mortality reduction ranging from 38% to 70% among screened women. This figure is in accordance with the estimate obtained from incidence-based mortality studies if screening compliance is taken into account. We will describe the methodological constraints of mortality trend studies in predicting the impact of screening on mortality and the necessary caution that must be applied when interpreting the results of such studies.
In conclusion, when appropriate methodological approaches are used, it is evident that mammographic screening programmes have contributed substantially to the observed decline in breast cancer mortality.
Mammography screening; breast cancer mortality; case-control studies; incidence-based mortality studies; analysis of trends
It is recognised that regular physical activity and a high level of fitness are powerful predictors of positive health outcomes. There is a long and rich history of significant feats of human endurance with some, for example, the death of the first marathon runner, Pheidippides, associated with negative health outcomes.
Early studies on endurance running used X-ray and interview techniques to evaluate competitors and comment on performance. Since then, comparatively few studies have looked at runners competing in distances longer than a marathon. Those that have, tend to show significant musculoskeletal injuries and a remarkable level of adaptation to this endurance load.
The TransEurope Footrace Project followed ultra-endurance runners aiming to complete 4,500 Km of running in 64 days across Europe. This pioneering study will assess the impact of extreme endurance on human physiology; analysing musculoskeletal and other tissue/organ injuries, and the body's potential ability to adapt to extreme physiological stress. The results will be of interest not only to endurance runners, but to anyone interested in the limits of human performance.
Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/78
Physical inactivity; ultra-marathon; endurance; runners; musculoskeletal; nutrition; hydration; race; Trans-Continental