Probiotic May Eliminate Staph Bacteria Colonizations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"staph aureus on blood agar" by Iqbal Osman is licensed under CC BY 2.0Pipat Piewngam
Postdoctorol fellow
Pathogen Molecular Genetics Section,
Laboratory of Bacteriology,
NIAID/NIH
Bethesda, MD, USA 20892 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Our team at National Institutes of health, Mahidol University and Rajamangala University of Technology in Thailand has reported that the consumption of probiotic Bacillus bacteria comprehensively abolishes colonization with the dangerous pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus.

We hypothesized that the composition of the human gut microbiota affects intestinal colonization with S. aureus. We collected fecal samples from 200 healthy individuals from rural populations in Thailand and analyzed the composition of the gut microbiome by 16S rRNA sequencing. Surprisingly, we did not detect significant differences in the composition of the microbiome between S. aureus carriers and non-carriers. We then sampled the same 200 people for S. aureus in the gut (25 positive) and nose (26 positive). Strikingly, we found no S. aureus in any of the samples where Bacillus were present.

In mouse studies, we discovered S. aureus Agr quorum-sensing signaling system that must function for the bacteria to grow in the gut. Intriguingly, all of the more than 100 Bacillus isolates we had recovered from the human feces efficiently inhibited that system. Then, we discovered that the fengycin class of Bacillus lipopeptides achieves colonization resistance by inhibiting that system.

To further validate their findings, we colonized the gut of mice with S. aureus and fed them B. subtilis spores to mimic probiotic intake. Probiotic Bacillus given every two days eliminated S. aureus in the guts of the mice. The same test using Bacillus where fengycin production had been removed had no effect, and S. aureus grew as expected. This is one of the first study that provide human evidence supporting the biological significance of probiotic bacterial interference and show that such interference can be achieved by blocking a pathogen’s signaling system. Continue reading

Black-White Hypertension Divide: Is The Southern Diet a Culprit?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. George Howard DPH, for the research team Professor and Chair of Biostatistics University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Howard

Dr. George Howard DPH, for the research team
Professor and Chair of Biostatistics
University of Alabama at Birmingham

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Perhaps the most important distinction to draw for the readers is that this is not a paper about risk factors for hypertension, but rather a paper that looks for contributors to the black-white difference in the presence of hypertension.  This racial difference in hypertension is the single biggest contributor to the immense disparities in cardiovascular diseases (stroke, MI, etc.) that underpin the approximate 4-year difference in black-white life expectancy.  As such, this work is “going back upstream” to understand the causes that lead to blacks having a higher prevalence of hypertension than whites with hopes that changing this difference will lead to reductions in the black-white disparities in cardiovascular diseases and life expectancy.   This difference in the prevalence of hypertension is immense … in our national study of people over age 45, about 50% of whites have hypertension compared to about 70% of blacks … that is HUGE.   We think that changing this difference is (at least one of) the “holy grail” of disparities research.

This study demonstrates that there are several “targets” where changes could be made to reduce the black-white difference in hypertension, and thereby the black-white difference in cardiovascular diseases and life expectancy; however, the most “potent” of these appears to be diet changes.   Even though we know what foods promote a heart healthy lifestyle, we still have major differences in terms of how that message is being adopted by various groups of Americans.  We can’t know from our data what about the Southern diet is driving these racial differences in hypertension but we can begin to design community based interventions that could possibly help to reduce these racial disparities through diet.  It is interested that diet more than being overweight was the biggest contributor to the racial disparities in hypertension.  This would suggest we might want to consider interventions to increase health foods in the diet while minimizing fried foods and processed meats.

While this is not a clinical trial that “proves” that changes in diet will reduce the disparity in blood pressure, we consider the “message” of the paper to be good news, as the things that we found that contribute to this black-white difference are things that can be changed.   While it is always hard for individual people to change their diet, it can be done.   More importantly, over time we as a society have been changing what we eat … but we need to “double down” and try to change this faster.   Also, policy changes of play a role to gently make changes in these diet, where for example Great Britain has been making policy changes to slowly remove salt from the diet.   These changes are possible … and as such, we may see a day when the black-white differences in hypertension (and thereby CVD and death) may be reduced. 

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Who Suffers From Phantom Smells?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Bad smell” by Brian Fitzgerald is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kathleen Bainbridge, PhD

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program
NIDCD

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The causes of phantom odor perception are not understood. This study looked for the prevalence and risk factors for this disorder. We found that that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences phantom odors.

This study, is the first in the U.S. to use nationally representative data to examine the prevalence of and risk factors for phantom odor perception. The study included about 7,400 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a continuous survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study could inform future research aiming to unlock the mysteries of phantom odors.

We identified risk factors that may be related to the perception of phantom odors. People are more likely to experience this condition if they are female, and are relatively young—we found a higher prevalence in 40-60 year-olds compared to 60+ year-olds. Other risk factors include head injury, dry mouth, poor overall health, and low socio-economic status. People with lower socio-economic status may have health conditions that contribute to phantom odors, either directly or because of medications needed to treat their health conditions.

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Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer Risk – What is the Correlation?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephanie J. Weinstein, M.S., Ph.D.  Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH 

Dr. Weinstein

Stephanie J. Weinstein, M.S., Ph.D. 
Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute, NIH  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Vitamin D, known for its role in maintaining bone health, is hypothesized to lower colorectal cancer risk via several pathways related to cell growth and regulation. Previous prospective studies have reported inconsistent results for whether higher concentrations of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the accepted measure of vitamin D status, are linked to lower risk of colorectal cancer. The few randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation and colorectal cancer completed thus far have not shown an effect; but study size, relatively short supplementation duration, and only moderate compliance may have contributed to their null findings.

To address inconsistencies in prior studies on vitamin D, and to investigate associations in population subgroups, we harmonized and analyzed participant-level data from over 5,700 colorectal cancer cases who had blood collected before colorectal cancer diagnosis, and 7,100 matched cancer-free controls. Study participants were drawn from 17 prospective cohorts from the United States, Europe, and Asia and were followed for an average of 5.5 years (range: 1 – 25 years). We used a single, widely accepted assay and laboratory for new vitamin D measurements and calibrated existing vitamin D measurements. In the past, substantial differences between assays made it difficult to integrate vitamin D data from different studies. Our novel calibration approach enabled us to explore risk systematically over the broad range of vitamin D levels seen internationally.  Continue reading

Severe Obesity More Common in Rural or Urban Areas in US?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD, MRP Chief, NHANES Analysis Branch Epidemiologist, NCHS/CDC Hyattsville, MD 20782

Dr. Ogden

Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD, MRP
Chief, NHANES Analysis Branch
Epidemiologist, NCHS/CDC
Hyattsville, MD 20782

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: 40% of adults and over 18% of youth in the US have obesity. Disparities in obesity have been reported by demographics and urbanization.

We looked at the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity by demographics and by level of urbanization – rural, small/medium metro and large urban. We also looked at trends over time in urban and rural areas.

Obesity and severe obesity rates were higher in rural areas than large urban areas among adults. Among youth, severe obesity rates were higher in rural areas compared to large urban areas.

Differences in age, smoking, education or race/ethnicity between urban and rural areas did not explain the differences we found between urban and rural areas.

Between 2001-2004 and 2013-2016 severe obesity among men in rural areas more than tripled and among women more than doubled. Increases in severe obesity also occurred in urban areas in men and women but they were not nearly as large.

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Government Agencies Provide Funding For Most USPSTF Evidence Reviews

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jennifer Villani, PhD, MPH Office of Disease Prevention National Institutes of Health

Dr. Villani

Jennifer Villani, PhD, MPH
Office of Disease Prevention
National Institutes of Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) develops recommendations for the delivery of clinical preventive services based on the highest quality scientific evidence available. We performed a comprehensive assessment of the sources of funding for the research studies in this evidence base.

The results showed that government agencies supported the most articles (56%), with the remaining support coming from nonprofits or universities (32%), and industry (17%). The National Institutes of Health was the single largest funder of research articles underlying the USPSTF recommendations.  Continue reading

Sleep Deprivation Leads to Build Up of Junk Amyloid in Brain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nora D. Volkow MD Senior Investigator Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892

Dr. Nora Volkow

Nora D. Volkow MD
Senior Investigator
Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Findings from animal studies had shown that sleep deprivation increased the content of beta-amyloid in brain, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.  We wanted to test whether this also happened in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. We found that indeed one night of sleep deprivation led to an accumulation of beta amyloid in the human brain, which suggest that one of the reasons why we sleep is to help clean our brain of degradation products that if not removed are toxic to brain cells.  Continue reading

Mono Virus Linked To Some Cases of Lupus

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

John B. Harley, MD, PhD Professor and Director David Glass Endowed Chair Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE) Department of Pediatrics University of Cincinnati Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati, Ohio 45229

Dr. Harley

John B. Harley, MD, PhD
Professor and Director
David Glass Endowed Chair
Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE)
Department of Pediatrics
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati, Ohio 45229

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous work has shown that Epstein-Barr virus infection is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus and studies of the origins of the autoimmune response have also suggested that the autoimmunity of this disease may originate with the immune response against this virus. In the meantime, many investigators have been studying the genetics of lupus over the past 25 years. They have found about 100 convincing genes that alter the risk of developing lupus.

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Ankle Fracture: Close Casting Can Be Alternative To Surgery For Older Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David Keene DPhil
NIHR Postdoctoral Research Fellow
NDORMS Research Fellow in Trauma Rehabilitation
Critical Care, Trauma and Rehabilitation Trials Group
Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences
University of Oxford 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Our clinical trial comparing close contact casting to the usual internal fixation surgery for unstable ankle fractures in older adults found that ankle function at six months was equivalent. There was more abnormal healing of the fracture seen on radiographs (malunion) in the casting group (15 percent, compared to 3 percent for surgery) so we aimed to investigate the ankle function outcomes in the longer term. We found that equivalence in ankle function between initial close contact casting and surgery was maintained at three years. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings indicate that close contact casting is an appropriate alternative treatment to surgery for older people with an unstable ankle fracture. These longer-term outcomes will help surgeons and patients to make informed decisions about the right course of action for them. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research will explore if there are certain types of older patients that do well after close contact casting or surgery. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: It is worth highlighting that the initial close contact casting was applied in the operating room under anesthesia.

There were no conflicts of interest. 

Citations:

Keene DJ, Lamb SE, Mistry D, et al. Three-Year Follow-up of a Trial of Close Contact Casting vs Surgery for Initial Treatment of Unstable Ankle Fractures in Older Adults. JAMA. 2018;319(12):1274–1276. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0811

 

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Hair Growth/Blood Pressure Drug Minoxidil May Improve Vascular Elasticity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Beth Kozel M.D.-Ph.D The Laboratory of Vascular and Matrix Genetics LASKER CLINICAL RESEARCH SCHOLAR NIH

Dr. Kozel

Dr. Beth Kozel M.D. Ph.D
The Laboratory of Vascular and Matrix Genetics
LASKER CLINICAL RESEARCH SCHOLAR
NIH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Elastin is a protein that allows the blood vessels to stretch and recoil. It is made as a child grows but once the child reaches adolescence, the body stops making elastin. With age, the body slowly begins to lose elastin and blood vessels become less flexible.

In order to study what happens when a vessel has less elastin, we used a mouse that makes half of the normal amount of elastin, the Eln+/- mouse. These mice have higher blood pressure, stiffer blood vessels and decreased blood flow to end organs such as the brain. We then used a blood pressure medication, minoxidil (this same medicine when used in topical form helps hair growth), and treated mice from weaning until 3 months of age. With treatment, Eln+/- blood pressure was lower, the vessels were less stiff and blood flow to the brain increased. That effect remained for weeks after the medication was stopped. Additional studies showed that more elastin was present in the vessel wall after treatment and more than 100 other connective tissue genes were also changed, suggesting vessel remodeling. Minoxidil works by causing cells in the blood vessel to relax, leading to a more open, or dilated artery. When taken chronically, our data suggest that the connective tissue associated with a blood vessel remodels, fixing it in a more open state and allowing better blood flow to the organ on the other side, in this case, the brain.

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Every Minute Counts! Short Bursts of Physical Activity Reduces Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow Metabolic Epidemiology Branch Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS Rockville, MD 20850

Dr. Saint-Maurice

Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Metabolic Epidemiology Branch
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS
Rockville, MD 20850

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 Response: The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults do 150 minutes/week of moderate intensity physical activity (PA) in increments of at least 10 minutes at a time. However, there is limited epidemiologic evidence supporting the use of the 10-minute increment and whether shorter increments (for instance walking up the stairs) can also be beneficial for health in adults. We looked at accelerometer-measured physical activity in roughly 5,000 adults (40 and older) representative of the US population and followed them prospectively (over 7 years) to determine whether physical activity accumulated in 10-minute increments, but also accumulated in shorter bursts, were associated with lower risk of death (mortality data came from the National Death Index). Continue reading

Brief Interruption of HIV Treatment Did Not Lead To Irreversible Expansion of Viral Reservoir

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“HIV-infected T cell” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

HIV-infected T-cell
NIAID image

Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D.
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: While antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved the clinical outcome for people living with HIV, persistence of viral reservoirs in the peripheral blood and lymphoid tissues remains a hurdle to complete eradication of virus and cure of the infection. We know the vast majority of people living with HIV will experience plasma viral rebound within weeks of cessation of therapy. Considering that current research on the treatment of people living with HIV has been heavily focused on developing strategies aimed at achieving sustained virologic remission in the absence of ART, it is of great interest to investigate whether treatment interruption results in expansion of the viral reservoir and/or damage to the immune system. Using data from a recently concluded trial that employed short-term analytical treatment interruption (ATI), we found that, as expected, HIV DNA increased in the CD4+ T cells of individuals living with HIV during the treatment interruption phase. However, the size of the HIV reservoirs as well as immune parameters returned to baseline 6–12 months after the participants resumed ART.  Continue reading

Frequent Exertion and Frequent Standing at Work Varies By Industry and Occupation Group

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Taylor M. Shockey, MPH

Title 42 Fellow
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies
NIOSH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Research has linked repeated exposure to occupational ergonomic hazards, such as frequent exertion and frequent standing, to injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among workers.

To determine the industry and occupation groups that have the highest prevalence rates of frequent exertion at work and frequent standing at work, NIOSH researchers analyzed 2015 National Health Interview Survey data. The results showed large differences among the groups with the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry group having the highest prevalence of frequent exertion and standing at work (70.9%) and the construction and extraction occupation group having the highest prevalence of frequent exertion and standing at work (76.9%). These differences indicate a need for targeted interventions to reduce workplace exposure.

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Fewer Cigarettes But More Vaping Among Today’s Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Checking your phone and vaping as you do” by Alper Çuğun is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Richard Allen Miech, PhD
Research Professor, Survey Research Center
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Monitoring the Future conducts annual, nationally-representative surveys of ~45,000 adolescents every year to assess trends in substance use.  We track which drugs are gaining traction among adolescents and which are falling out of favor.  The survey draws separate, nationally-representative samples of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students from about 400 total schools every year.  Once a recruited school agrees to participate, a field interviewer travels to the school to administer the paper-and-pencil survey, typically in classrooms.  The project is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and is carried out by the University of Michigan.  More details on the project’s survey design and survey procedures can be found in chapter 3 here: http://monitoringthefutu re.org/pubs/monographs/mtf- vol1_2016.pdf

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Cocaine Overdoses Rising Especially Among African Americans

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Cocaine” by Nightlife Of Revelry is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Dave Thomas PhD

Health Scientist Administrator
National Institute on Drug Abuse 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we support research on all forms of drug use, and are aware that cocaine misuse is on the rise.  We are aware that various forms of drug use can have greater prevalence by race, sex, age and other population characteristics.

The main finding of this paper is that cocaine overdose rates are on the rise and that that the group hit hardest is the non-Hispanic black population.

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Most Homes Harbor Multiple Allergens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Salo

Dr. Salo

Dr. Pӓivi Salo, PhD Epidemiologist
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Indoor allergens are important risk factors for asthma and respiratory allergies. Only a few studies have investigated residential allergen exposures on a national scale; the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006 is the largest and most comprehensive study to date.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our findings show that exposure to multiple allergens is common in U.S. homes; over 90% of homes had three or more detectable allergens, and 73% of homes had at least one allergen at elevated levels. The presence of pets and pests contributed strongly to elevated allergen levels. Housing characteristics also mattered – elevated exposure to multiple allergens was more likely in mobile homes, older homes, rental homes, and homes in rural areas. For individual allergens, exposure levels varied greatly with age, sex, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Differences were also found between geographic locations and climatic conditions.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Understanding factors that affect allergen levels in homes is important because elevated allergen levels can trigger and exacerbate symptoms in people who suffer from asthma and allergies. We hope that our findings provide beneficial information to a wide audience from patients to clinicians, identifying factors that influence levels of exposure to individual and multiple allergens

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The relationships between allergen exposures, allergic sensitization, and disease are complex. Further research is needed to determine how allergen exposures interact with other environmental and genetic factors that contribute to asthma and allergies.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We also compared allergen exposures and previously reported allergic sensitization patterns from this national survey to provide a more complete picture. The allergy focused component in NHANES 2005-2006, which we developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allowed national comparisons for the first time. The observed differences and overlaps reflect the complex nature of the relationships between allergen exposures, allergic sensitization, and disease.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Salo P, Wilkerson J, Rose KM, Cohn RD, Calatroni A, Mitchell HE, Sever ML, Gergen PJ, Thorne PS, Zeldin DC. 2017. Bedroom allergen exposures in US households. J Allergy Clin Immunol; doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.08.033(link is external) [Online 30 November 2017].

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overeating High-Fructose Corn Syrup Can Raise Both Hunger and Cortisol Levels

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Herring in high fructose corn syrup” by Ray Sawhill is licensed under CC BY 2.0Paolo Piaggi PhD and
Marie Thearle MD
Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health, Phoenix, Arizona 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Changes in food preparation have occurred over the recent decades including wide-spread availability of convenience foods and use of fructose as a sweetener. In addition, there is a growing trend to label certain foods as “healthy”. As the ingestion of added sugars and the prevalence of obesity have steadily increased over time, it has been suggested that the increased consumption of simple sugars may have contributed to the recent obesity epidemic.

We were interested in understanding whether the body responded to overeating foods with a high carbohydrate content differently if the source of the carbohydrate differed. For example, does it matter if we overeat foods containing whole wheat instead of high-fructose corn syrup? To answer this question, we conducted a study investigating changes in metabolism, circulating hormones, and appetite ratings in humans who were overfed a diet containing 75% carbohydrates for 24 hours. The subjects in the study were overfed with a high carbohydrate diet twice – once with a diet where the source of carbohydrates was whole wheat and once with a diet that contained simple sugars, primarily high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Note that the diets were given in random order with at least three days of recovery in between the overfeeding periods.

There was no difference in people’s metabolic rate over 24 hours between the whole-wheat versus high-fructose corn syrup diets; however, the diet containing HFCS resulted in increased hunger scores the next morning even though people had overeaten the day prior. These increased hunger scores were comparable to the hunger scores reported after a day of fasting. Also, 24-hour urinary free cortisol concentrations were higher the day after the diet containing high-fructose corn syrup. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to physiologic stress.

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Infectious Prions Detected in Skin of Patients With Neurodegenerative Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

The brain of one patient who died from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (sCJD) appears nearly identical to the brain of a mouse inoculated with infectious prions taken from the skin of patients who died from sCJD.

The brain of one patient who died from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (sCJD) appears nearly identical to the brain of a mouse inoculated with infectious prions taken from the skin of patients who died from sCJD.
Case Western Reserve University

 

Byron Caughey, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator
Chief, TSE/prion Biochemistry Section
Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases
NIH/NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Hamilton, MT 

 

 

MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

Response: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is an incurable—and ultimately fatal—transmissible, neurodegenerative disorder in the family of prion diseases. Prion diseases can be found in many mammalian species and are due to the conversion of normally harmless prion protein molecules into abnormally folded, aggregated and self-propagating clusters and filaments in the brain. The accumulation of these clusters has been associated with tissue damage that often leaves dying neurons and microscopic sponge-like holes in the brain. In the sporadic and genetic forms of CJD this pathogenic process appears to arise spontaneously in the patient.

However, the transfer of the prion protein aggregates from a Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient into another human or experimental animal can initiate the pathogenic process in the recipient. These infectious forms of prion protein are called prions. Human prion diseases include fatal insomnia; kuru; Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome; and variant, familial and sporadic CJD. Sporadic CJD is the most common human prion disease, affecting about one in one million people annually worldwide. Other prion diseases include scrapie in sheep; chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose; and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in cattle.

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Aldosterone-Mineralocorticoid Pathway Linked To Craving For Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D. Chief of the Section on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology, a NIAAA intramural laboratory 

Dr. Leggio

Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief of the Section on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsychopharmacology, a NIAAA intramural laboratory

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Aldosterone is an important hormone involved in the control of blood pressure and electrolytes via its mineralcorticoid receptor (MR). In addition to its roles in the periphery in our body, aldosterone also acts on the brain where the MR is particularly present in regions like the amygdala. The amygdala plays an important role in stress, anxiety and excessive alcohol drinking. Back in 2008, we conducted a small pilot study where we found that alcohol-dependent patients with higher blood aldosterone concentrations have higher alcohol craving.

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Antidepressant May Enhance Drug Delivery to the Brain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ronald Cannon, Ph.D. Staff scientist at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Dr. Cannon

Ronald Cannon, Ph.D.
Staff scientist at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The protein pump, P-glycoprotein, is a major obstacle to the delivery of therapeutic drugs across the blood-brain barrier and into the central nervous system (CNS). During the last 10 years, our laboratory has studied the regulation of P-glycoprotein with the hope of treating CNS diseases.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our most recent finding shows that the antidepressant, amitriptyline, suppresses P-glycoprotein pump activity. The discovery is significant because P-glycoprotein restricts most CNS targeted drugs from entering the brain. If fully translatable to human patients, suppression of P-glycoprotein could allow higher levels of CNS therapeutic drugs to reach their intended target.

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Hair Cortisol in the Evaluation of Cushing Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mihail Zilbermint, M.D.
Endocrinologist, Office of the Scientific Director

Mihail Zilbermint, M.D. Endocrinologist, Office of the Scientific Director Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development National Institutes of Health

Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Diagnosing Cushing Syndrome is often difficult and challenging.  Diagnosing hypercortisolemia, could require the use of a combination of any of these tests: 24-hour free urine cortisol monitoring, an overnight dexamethasone suppression test, and measurement of late night salivary cortisol.  Cortisol levels may change daily, requiring that testing be repeated.  Undiagnosed and untreated Cushing Syndrome greatly increases morbidity and mortality risk.

Cortisol levels can be detected in hair samples.  Much like hemoglobin A1C is a long-term indicator of blood glucose levels, efforts have been made to determine if hair cortisol could serve as a long-term measure of the body’s glucocorticoid levels.  We sought to compare the results of cortisol levels for Cushing Syndrome patients with data from data on cortisol in hair segments, to gain further information on the role of sampling hair cortisol as an initial or supportive method for diagnosing Cushing Syndrome.

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Smaller and More Stable Than Stem Cells, Exosomes Can Preserve Retinal Cell Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ben Mead, BSc, MRes, PhD Section of Retinal Ganglion Cell Biology Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland 20892

Dr. Ben Mead

Ben Mead, BSc, MRes, PhD
Section of Retinal Ganglion Cell Biology
Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Retinal ganglion cells (RGC) in the back of the eye transmit visual information to the brain, via long thread-like extensions called axons, which make up the optic nerve. Loss of these cells is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and can occur through trauma or degenerative diseases, such as glaucoma or optic neuritis. While no treatment yet exists to directly protect RGC from death, mesenchymal stem cells, a type of stem cell isolated from adult bone marrow, have shown therapeutic efficacy in various animal models and are currently undergoing clinical trials.

In this study, we aimed to isolate exosomes, which are small, membrane-enclosed vesicles secreted by bone marrow stem cells (BMSC) and that we believe are associated with the therapeutic effect of BMSCs. Injecting these exosomes into the eyes of animals following an optic nerve injury, was associated with significant neuroprotection of RGC, as well as preservation of RGC function. The protective effects of exosomes appeared to be through their delivery of microRNA, molecules that interfere with or silence gene expression.

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Therapeutic Hypothermia After In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Victoria Pemberton, RNC, MS, CCRC Program Officer Division of Cardiovascular Sciences National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH Bethesda, Maryland

Victoria Pemberton

Victoria Pemberton, RNC, MS, CCRC
Program Officer
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH
Bethesda, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • Previous studies have examined cardiac arrest when it occurs outside of the hospital in both children and adults, with current guidelines recommending hypothermia (body cooling) or normothermia (maintenance of normal body temperature) after such an arrest.   This trial addresses pediatric cardiac arrest in a hospital setting, for which no previous data existed. Because children who experience an in-hospital cardiac arrest differ significantly from children who arrest outside of the hospital, it is important to test these treatments in this population.
  • The trial found no significant differences in survival and neurobehavioral functioning a year after cardiac arrest between children assigned to the hypothermia arm and those assigned to normothermia.

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Premature Midlife Deaths Increase in US Whites and Native Americans

Dr. Meredith Shiels

Dr. Meredith Shiels

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Meredith S Shiels

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute
Bethesda, MD

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: In most high-income countries, premature death rates have been declining, due to the overwhelming successes of public health efforts to prevent and treat chronic disease. The US is a major outlier, where death rates overall have plateaued, or even increased, as reported recently by our sister agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of particular concern are recent reports of increasing death rates among Americans during mid-life.

To expand upon prior findings, we focused on premature death, which we defined as death occurring between the ages of 25 and 64. We examined finely detailed death certificate data for the entire U.S. population and described changes in death rates during 1999-2014 by cause of death, sex, race, ethnicity, and geography. To provide context to our findings, we compared trends in death rates in the U.S. to England and Wales and Canada.

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Government Endorsed DASH Diet Voted Best Overall

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Janet M. de Jesus, M.S., R.D. Program Officer, Implementation Science Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science (CTRIS) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Janet de Jesus

Janet M. de Jesus, M.S., R.D.
Program Officer, Implementation Science
Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science (CTRIS)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for the DASH diet? What are the main components?

Response: The DASH eating plan was created for a clinical trial funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The goal of the original DASH trial was to test the eating plan compared to a typical American diet (at the time in the 1990s) on the effect of blood pressure.

The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages and high-fat meats. The eating plan is a good source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The DASH eating plan was shown to reduce blood pressure and improve lipid profiles.

A second DASH trial, “DASH-sodium,” showed that adding sodium reduction to the DASH eating plan reduced blood pressure even more.

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