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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Conflicts of Interest In Medical Guideline Committees Underreported

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Akilah Jefferson, MD, MSc Postdoctoral Fellow, Clinical Center, Department of Bioethics Clinical Fellow, Allergy and Immunology National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health

Dr. Akilah Jefferson

Akilah Jefferson, MD, MSc
Postdoctoral Fellow, Clinical Center, Department of Bioethics
Clinical Fellow, Allergy and Immunology
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health

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

Response: The guidelines that we looked at in this study were two that resulted in large paradigm shifts. Given their impact, we thought the question of conflicts of interest, which has been problematic among specialty societies in the past, be looked into.

We found that the levels of conflicts of interest among both guideline committees was problematic, and that conflict of interest disclosures often did not match contemporaneous conflict of interest disclosures in published articles.

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

Response: We want to highlight the need for broader and more explicit adoption of Institute of Medicine (IOM)  standards for conflict of interest management.

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

Response: We recommend further research into how specialty societies are adopting Institute of Medicine standards, and barriers to adoption. Some work has highlighted how some specialty societies are successfully avoiding conflicts of interest among their guideline writing groups.

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

Response: We hope that our study leads to positive discussions about this topic, and adoption of more standard and transparent methods of conflict of interest disclosure among specialty societies.

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

Citation:

Jefferson AA, Pearson SD. Conflict of Interest in Seminal Hepatitis C Virus and Cholesterol Management Guidelines. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 17, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8439

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

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

When Should Babies Eat Peanut-Containing Foods?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Jaffe Food Allergy Institute New York, NY 10029

Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn

Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Jaffe Food Allergy Institute
New York, NY 10029

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

Response: Peanut allergy can be fatal, is usually life-long and has no cure. Considering a dramatic increase in prevalence of peanut allergy over the past decades, affecting estimated 2-3% of infants and young children in the US, there is a dire need for prevention. Prior studies determined that risk of peanut allergy is highest in the infants with severe eczema, those with mutations in filaggrin gene resulting in an impaired skin barrier function and those not eating peanut but exposed to peanut in the household dust. In addition, the prevalence of peanut allergy was 10-fold higher among Jewish children in the United Kingdom compared with Israeli children of similar ancestry. In Israel, peanut-containing foods are usually introduced in the diet when infants are approximately 7 months of age and consumed in substantial amounts, whereas in the United Kingdom children do not typically consume any peanut-containing foods during their first year of life.

Based on these observations, a landmark clinical trial (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy, LEAP) has been designed to evaluate whether early introduction of peanut into the diet of infant considered at high risk for peanut allergy can reduce the risk of peanut allergy compared to avoidance of peanut. LEAP and other studies suggested that peanut allergy can be prevented by introduction of peanut-containing foods in infancy. The overall reduction in peanut allergy among the infants in the LEAP trial randomized to an early introduction group compared to those who avoided peanut until age 5 years was 81%.

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Genetic Calcification Disorder May Lead To Better Treatment of Atherosclerosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Manfred Boehm M.D. Senior Investigator Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Center for Molecular Medicine NHLBI-NIH Bethesda, MD 20892

Dr. Manfred Boehm

Manfred Boehm M.D.
Senior Investigator
Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine
Center for Molecular Medicine
NHLBI-NIH
Bethesda, MD 20892

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

Response: Common atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels) is the leading cause for vascular diseases worldwide. Vascular calcification is a critical component of atherosclerosis and an indicator of negative outcomes. This process is highly regulated and dynamic. However, the underlying mechanism is poorly understood and no direct treatment is available to stop or reverse this devastating buildup of calcium crystals in the vessel wall. Arterial calcification due to deficiency of CD73 is a rare inherited vascular disease characterized by extensive calcification of blood vessels caused by mutation in a gene encoding an enzyme that generates a compound called Adenosine outside of cells. The lack of this important enzyme, CD73, activates a compensatory mechanism to generated Adenosine by an alternative enzyme. Unfortunately, increased activity of this other enzyme is causing accelerated vascular calcification. By using the patient’s own cells, this study characterized the compensatory signaling pathway and discovered several new treatment strategies.

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Genes Linked To Ectopic Fat Deposition Identified

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Audrey Chu, Ph.D. Division of Intramural Research of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health

Dr. Audrey Chu

Audrey Chu, Ph.D.
Division of Intramural Research
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health

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

Response: Body shape reflects the underlying adipose tissue distributed throughout different compartments of the body (ectopic fat). Variation in ectopic fat is associated with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. This is mostly independent of overall adiposity. Ectopic fat can be measured using special x-rays procedures such as CT (“CAT scans”) or MRI and can give more information about fat distribution. Fat distribution characteristics can run in families, suggesting that a person’s genes can help determine the amount of fat that can accumulate in different parts of the body. Identifying genes that are associated with ectopic fat can provide insight into the biological mechanisms leading to differences in cardiometabolic disease risk.

In order to understand which genes might be involved, we examined genetic variants across the genome and their association with ectopic fat in the largest study of its kind including over 18,000 individuals of four different ancestral backgrounds.

Several new genetic regions were identified in association with ectopic fat in addition to confirming previously known regions. The association of the new regions was specific to ectopic fat, since the majority of the regions were not associated with overall or central adiposity. Furthermore, most of these regions were not associated with type 2 diabetes, lipids, heart disease or blood pressure. The major exception was the region surrounding the UBE2E2 gene, which was associated with diabetes.

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Protein Found To Enhance Ability To Kill MRSA

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Warren Leonard, M.D. NIH Distinguished Investigator Laboratory of Molecular Immunology NHLBI, NIH

Dr. Warren Leonard

Warren Leonard, M.D.
NIH Distinguished Investigator
Laboratory of Molecular Immunology
NHLBI, NIH

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

Response: TSLP is a cytokine that has been well studied in the context of T cell helper type 2 (TH2) responses and the promotion of atopic diseases. TSLP is naturally expressed at barrier surfaces, such as the skin; however, its role in skin infections was not previously explored.

In our study, we investigated whether TSLP plays a role in host defense to Staphylococcus aureus skin infections, using the most common strain of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) present in the United States.

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ADHD: Heritability of Structural and Functional Brain Connectivity in Families

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gustavo Sudre, PhD Section on Neurobehavioral Clinical Research, Social and Behavioral Research Branch National Human Genome Research Institute Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Gustavo Sudre

Gustavo Sudre, PhD
Section on Neurobehavioral Clinical Research, Social and Behavioral Research Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute
Bethesda, Maryland

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

Response: ADHD is the most common childhood neuropsychiatric disorder, affecting 7-9% of school age children. It is highly heritable (h2=0.7), but few risk genes have been identified. In this study, we aimed to provide quantitative brain-based phenotypes to accelerate gene discovery and understanding.

ADHD is increasingly viewed as resulting from anomalies of the brain’s connectome. The connectome is comprised of the structural connectome (white matter tracts joining different brain regions) and the functional connectome (networks of synchronized functional activity supporting cognition). Here, we identified features of the connectome that are both heritable and associated with ADHD symptoms.

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Dust Mite Allergen Proteins More Abundant Than Non-Allergen Dust Mite Proteins

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Geoffrey Mueller, Ph.D. Staff Scientist Genome Integrity and Structural Biology Laboratory National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Institutes of Health Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Dr. Geoffrey Mueller

Geoffrey Mueller, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist
Genome Integrity and Structural Biology Laboratory
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

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

Response: While allergic disease is a wide spread problem, it is actually a select few proteins, called allergens, that initiate allergy symptoms. This study was focused on looking for fundamental biochemical differences between allergens and non-allergens derived from the house dust mite.

We found that the mite allergens, as a group, are distinctly different from the non-allergens in that they are more highly produced, and more stable. Previous anecdotal evidence suggested that these properties would lead to more allergens surviving the journey from the source (either mites or pollens) to a person. In addition, the greater stability of allergens may influence the decision making of the immune system to target these proteins as dangerous instead of harmless.

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New Drug Blocks Frequency of Drinking Alcohol, But Not Amount Once Drinking Starts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan Ryan M.B.A. Clinical Program Director, DMD Technology Development Coordinator National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD

Megan Ryan

Megan Ryan M.B.A.
Clinical Program Director, DMD
Technology Development Coordinator
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

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

Response: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been linked to the dysregulation of the brain stress systems (e.g. corticotropin-releasing factor, glucocorticoids, and vasopressin) creating a negative emotional state leading to chronic relapsing behavior. Several pre-clinical studies have shown that by blocking the V1b receptor with a V1b receptor antagonist, dependence induced compulsive-like alcohol intake is also blocked. This is the first multi-site trial to assess the efficacy of the V1b receptor antagonist novel compound (ABT-436) for the treatment of alcohol dependence.

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Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy May Signal Less Risk of Pregnancy Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Stefanie N. Hinkle, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist | Epidemiology Branch
Division of Intramural Population Health Research
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health

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

Response: Thank you for the interest in our research. Nausea and vomiting are very common early in pregnancy and these symptoms can be difficult for women. Before we began this study there was very limited high-quality data on the implications of these difficult symptoms in pregnancy. Our study is unique because we asked women to report their symptoms continuously throughout their pregnancy before they may or may not have gone on to have a loss. We found that among women with 1 or 2 prior pregnancy losses, women who have nausea, and particularly nausea with vomiting, were less likely to have a pregnancy loss.

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Parkinson’s Disease Linked To Increase in Number of Inflammatory Markers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yong Cheng, PhD, post-doc fellow Section on Cellular Neurobiology Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Yong Cheng

Yong Cheng, PhD, post-doc fellow
Section on Cellular Neurobiology
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland

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

Response: Parkinson’s disease is the second most neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of the disease are typically movement related. However, the nonmotor features in PD are increasingly recognized. Evidence suggests that inflammation may play a role in the development of AD, and a substantial number of studies have demonstrated altered levels of peripheral blood inflammatory cytokines in patients with  Parkinson’s disease, but findings have been inconsistent for individual cytokines and between studies. Therefore, we undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature, using a meta-analysis to quantitatively summarize clinical data on blood cytokine levels in patients with PD, compared with healthy controls.

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Bidirectional Link Between Depression and Risk of Gestational Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD Senior Investigator NICHD, National Institutes of Health

Dr. Cuilin Zhang

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD
Senior Investigator
NICHD, National Institutes of Health 

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

Response: Pregnant women are at high risk of developing depressive symptoms; at least 10% US women suffering from depression during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a common pregnancy complication, affecting 4-7% of pregnancies in the U.S..  Gestational diabetes has  adverse health implications on both women and their children.   Depression and glucose intolerance commonly co-occur among non-pregnant individuals; however, the temporal relationship between gestational diabetes and depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period is less understood.

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BDNF Is Potential Biomarker For Autism Spectrum Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Yong Cheng, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow NIH

Dr. Yong Cheng

Dr. Yong Cheng, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
NIH

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

Response: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders which affect about 1 in 68 children in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is an important moderator in neurodevelopment and neuroplasticity, and studies have suggested the involvement of BDNF in ASD. Although some clinical studies show abnormal expression of BDNF in children with ASD, findings have been inconsistent. Therefore, we undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature, using a meta-analysis to quantitatively summarize clinical data on blood BDNF levels in children with ASD, compared with healthy peers.

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Pregnancy May Be a Time of Heightened Homicide Risk, Particularly For Young Black Women

Pauline Mendola, PhD Investigator, Epidemiology Branch Division of Intramural Population Health Research Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH Bethesda, MD 20892

Dr. Pauline Mendola

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Pauline Mendola, PhD
Investigator, Epidemiology Branch
Division of Intramural Population Health Research
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
Bethesda, MD 20892

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

Response: Efforts to monitor and reduce maternal mortality during and around the time of pregnancy largely focus on causes physiologically related to the pregnancy, despite the fact that increasing evidence suggests violent death – including homicide and suicide – are leading causes.

In this study, we analyzed US death certificates from 2005-2010 from states that include pregnancy information on the death record in order to estimate rates of pregnancy-associated homicide and suicide, and to determine if risk of violent death was increased for women during pregnancy and postpartum. Given the large proportion of death records with unknown pregnancy status, we adjusted for a range of possible misclassification and found that pregnancy-associated homicide risk ranged from 2.2-6.2 per 100,000 live births, while pregnancy-associated suicide risk ranged from 1.6-4.5 per 100,000 live births. Overall, homicide risk was 1.8 times higher among pregnant/postpartum women compared to non-pregnant women in the population. The risk of suicide was 38% lower among pregnant/postpartum women than the general population.

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Marijuana Use Doubles From 2002-2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Wilson Compton MD, Deputy Director National Institute on Drug Abuse

Dr. Wilson Compton

Dr. Wilson Compton MD, Deputy Director
National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

Response: The study found that overall past year marijuana use by adults in the U.S. increased by more than 30% in the past dozen years, and 10 million more people were using marijuana in 2014 than in 2002. Use of marijuana on a daily (or near daily) basis increased even more markedly. In 2002, 3.9 million adults in the U.S. reported using marijuana daily or nearly every day, and the number more than doubled to 8.4 million by 2014. Along with this increase in use, we found that U.S. adults perceptions of the potential harms from using marijuana greatly decreased. Despite scientific evidence of potential harms, adults are much less convinced about dangers associated with using marijuana. These reductions in perceived harm were strongly associated with the increases in use.

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Patients With Psoriasis Have Coronary Calcium Scores Comparable to Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nehal N. Mehta, .MD., M.S.C.E. F.A.H.A.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar
Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases
NIH

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

Response: Psoriasis is associated with accelerated cardiovascular (CV) disease; however, screening for CV risk factors in psoriasis remains low. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) score estimates the total burden of atherosclerosis. Psoriasis has been associated with increase CAC score, but how this compares to patients with diabetes, who are aggressively screened for CV risk factors, is unknown.

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Douching May Be Associated With Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D. Deputy Branch Chief Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Institutes of Health Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Dr. Clarice Weinberg

Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D.
Deputy Branch Chief
Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

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

Response: A number of studies have reported a link between genital use of talc powders and ovarian cancer. We wondered whether the practice of douching could contribute to that risk by moving fibers and chemicals into and up the reproductive tract. We are carrying out the Sister Study, a large cohort study that enrolled more than 50,000 women who each had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer and who are consequently at increased risk of ovarian cancer. During the Sister Study enrollment interview, we asked each of them about their douching and use of talc in the previous 12 months. During approximately 6 years of follow up, 154 participants developed ovarian cancer. Our statistical analyses did not show any relationship between talc use and risk of ovarian cancer, but we estimated that women who had said they douched had almost double the risk for ovarian cancer compared to women who did not douche.

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Better, Cheaper Assay for Fragile X Syndrome Detection

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Karen Usdin, Ph. D. Senior Investigator Chief, Gene Structure and Disease Section Laboratory of Cell and Molecular Biology National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases National Institutes of Health Bethesda MD 20892

Dr. Karen Usdin

Karen Usdin, Ph. D.
Senior Investigator
Chief, Gene Structure and Disease Section
Laboratory of Cell and Molecular Biology
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda MD 20892

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

Response: Our laboratory is interested in the causes and consequences of the unusual repeat expansion mutation that causes the Fragile X-related disorders. However these disorders are challenging to study, in part because the repeat tract is difficult to amplify by PCR. This makes monitoring of repeat length, as well as other factors we are interested in such as methylation status and the presence of AGG interruptions, quite difficult.

In our experience, both repeat number and methylation status are very variable in patient stem cells and in disease-relevant cell types derived from them. This variability arises because the repeat is prone to both expansion and contraction and because at different times there can be selection for smaller alleles or against unmethylated ones. Thus the frequent monitoring of repeat length and methylation status is critical for work with patient cells, particularly when those cells are to be used for drug screening or to examine the consequences of expansion.

While other assays are available to determine one or more of these parameters, some are cumbersome to use or lack the necessary robustness and sensitivity, whilst others are prohibitively expensive for routine laboratory work. We thus saw a need for assays that are robust, sensitive and cost-effective for preclinical studies.

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Vitamin D Levels Fall When Estrogen-Containing Birth Control Pills Stopped

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Quaker Harmon M.D., Ph.D. Epidemiology Branch National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Dr. Quaker Harmon

Quaker Harmon M.D., Ph.D.
Epidemiology Branch
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

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

Response: Vitamin D is important for bone health. In the United States many women are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D does not naturally occur in many foods, however some foods are fortified with vitamin D. Supplements and sunshine are the most reliable sources of vitamin D.
Previous studies suggested that women using birth control pills containing estrogen had higher levels of vitamin D. These studies were generally small and were not always able to examine important factors such as time spent outside. We were interested in examining the association between hormonal contraception and vitamin D levels in a larger group of women.

We found that women who use estrogen-containing contraception had a 20% increase in their vitamin D levels. This increase was not due to time spent outside or behaviors related to choice of contraception. The magnitude of increase for hormonal contraception was smaller than for regular use of a supplement containing vitamin D.

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Some Patients with PCOS May a Have Form of Congenital Adrenal Hyplasia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Evgenia Gourgari MD Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, Program on Developmental Endocrinology & Genetics (PDEGEN) & Pediatric Endocrinology Inter-institute Training Program Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) Bethesda, MD 20892

Dr. Evgenia Gourgari

Dr. Evgenia Gourgari MD
Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, Program on Developmental Endocrinology & Genetics (PDEGEN) & Pediatric Endocrinology Inter-institute Training Program
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Bethesda, MD 20892

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

Response: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of infertility among women of reproductive age ,yet the etiology of this syndrome remains unknown. Women with PCOS can have high androgens, irregular periods, cysts in their ovaries, acne, excessive facial hair. Women with PCOS are also at high risk to develop diabetes. Androgens and cortisol are hormones that produced from the adrenal glands. We wanted to investigate whether a group of women with PCOS have an adrenal disorder as underlying etiology of PCOS.

We found a group of women with PCOS produced more adrenal hormones compared to healthy women and these women also had some characteristics of micronodualr adrenal hyperplasia in their adrenals. Our findings suggest that a problem in the adrenal glands mostly involved in their steroid hormone secretion and how this is regulated may be the underlying cause of PCOS in a subgroup of women with this syndrome.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Some women with PCOS might have a problem with their adrenal gland, but more research is needed to better understand the role of adrenal glands in the development of PCOS syndrome.

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Many Elderly Patients Not Receiving Adequate Colon Cancer Screening or Follow Up

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carrie N. Klabunde, PhD Office of Disease Prevention Office of the Director NIH Rockville MD

Dr. Carrie Klabunde

Carrie N. Klabunde, PhD
Office of Disease Prevention
Office of the Director
NIH
Rockville MD

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

Response: Many studies of colorectal cancer screening focus on adults 50-75 years of age; few specifically look at screening in the elderly. We wanted to examine colorectal cancer screening use, including follow-up diagnostic testing for those with abnormal fecal blood screening tests, in adults 65 years of age and older. We also wanted to assess whether screening use in this population is influenced more by elderly individual’s chronological age, or their health status (called comorbidity in our study). The study was conducted in three large, integrated healthcare systems: Kaiser Permanente in Northern California and Southern California, and Group Health in Washington state and Idaho. We examined data on nearly 850,000 patients aged 65-89.

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MRI Brain Scans Can Predict Disruption of Blood-Brain Barrier in Stroke Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Richard Leigh MD Neuro Vascular Brain Imaging Unit National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Dr. Richard Leigh

Dr. Richard Leigh MD
Neuro Vascular Brain Imaging Unit
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

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

Response: Patients who suffer an ischemic stroke have limited treatment options. One of the reasons for this is that our treatments can sometimes make the stroke worse by transforming the ischemic stroke into a hemorrhagic stroke. In our study we identified a new piece of information that we can extract from the patient’s MRI scan that informs us on the risk of having a hemorrhage.

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Older Breast Cancer Patients Much Less Likely to Receive 21-Gene Recurrence Score Testing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Valentina Petkov, MD, MPH Health Scientist/Program Officer NIH/NCI/DCCPS/Surveillance Research Program

Dr. Petkov

Valentina Petkov, MD, MPH
Health Scientist/Program Officer
NIH/NCI/DCCPS/Surveillance Research Program

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

Dr. Petkov: The number of breast cancer diagnoses is increasing in older patients because of increasing life expectancy and changing population demographics. Despite high incidence, little is known about breast cancer biology and outcomes in patients older than 70, which are often under-represented in clinical trials. The 21-gene Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score assay has been used in clinical practice to predict distant recurrence risk and chemotherapy benefit in lymph node negative, hormonal receptor positive (estrogen and/or progesterone receptor positive) invasive breast cancer since 2004. The goal of our study was to evaluate the role of the 21 gene assay in older patients at population level.

We used Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data. We included in the analysis 40,134 patients who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2004 and 2011, had negative nodes and their tumors were hormonal receptor positive and HER2 negative. Breast Cancer Specific Mortality (BCSM) was assessed at 5 years after diagnosis in patients with low risk (Recurrence Score <18), intermediate risk (Recurrence Score 18-30) and high risk (Recurrence Score >30).

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Persistent Childhood Asthma Linked to Long-Term Lung Function Deficits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. James P. Kiley Ph.D National Institutes of Health Bethesda Maryland

Dr. James Kiley

Dr. James P. Kiley Ph.D
National Institutes of Health Bethesda
Maryland 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Kiley: While a higher proportion of children have asthma compared to adults, the disease is limited to childhood for many individuals who appear to be unaffected as adults. Regardless of whether asthma continues into adulthood or reoccurs during adulthood, the impact of childhood asthma on lung function later in life is unclear. This study demonstrated that in children with chronic persistent asthma at the age of 5-12 years who continued to be followed through their early twenties, 75% of them had some abnormality in the pattern of their lung growth. The study examined the trajectory of lung growth, and the decline from maximum growth, in a large cohort of persons who had persistent, mild-to-moderate asthma in childhood and determined the demographic and clinical factors associated with abnormal patterns of lung growth and decline.
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Lung Cancer Risk Calculator Improves CT Screening Efficiency and May Save Lives

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hormuzd A. Katki, PhD Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services,  Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Hormuzd Katki

Hormuzd A. Katki, PhD
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services,
Bethesda, Maryland

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

Dr. Katki: The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) showed that 3 annual CT screens reduced lung cancer death by 20% in a subgroup of high-risk smokers.  However, selecting smokers for screening based on their individual lung cancer risk might improve the effectiveness and efficiency of screening.  We developed and validated new lung cancer risk tools, and used them to project the potential impact of different selection strategies for CT lung cancer screening.

We found that risk-based selection might substantially increase the number of prevented lung cancer deaths versus current subgroup-based guidelines.  Risk-based screening might also improve the effectiveness of screening, as measured by reducing the number needed to screening to prevent 1 death.  Risk-based screening might also improve the efficiency of screening, as measured by reducing the number of false-positive CT screens per prevented death.

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Healthy Diet After Gestational Diabetes Lowers Long-Term Hypertension Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD Senior Investigator, Epidemiology Branch Division of Intramural Population Health Research NICHD/National Institutes of Health Rockville, MD 20852

Dr. Cuilin Zhang

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD
Senior Investigator, Epidemiology Branch
Division of Intramural Population Health Research
NICHD/National Institutes of Health
Rockville, MD 20852

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

Dr. Zhang: Hypertension is one of the most prevalent and preventable risk factors for cardiovascular and kidney diseases, and is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

We have previously reported that the cumulative incidence of hypertension for women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) was 26% higher than those who did not have GDM even 16 years after the index pregnancy. Thus, women with a history of GDM represent a high-risk population for hypertension that could benefit from early prevention. While there is extensive literature on how lifestyle factors may influence blood pressure in the general population, no information is currently available on the role of diet and lifestyle in the development of hypertension specifically in this susceptible population. To address these gaps, we prospectively examined the associations between long-term adherence to three healthy diets with subsequent risk of hypertension among women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus, specifically the DASH diet, the alternative Mediterranean diet (aMED), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI).

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Miscarriage Risk Reduced by Daily Multivitamins Before and After Conception

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Germaine M. Buck Louis, Ph.D., M.S. Office of the Director, Division of Intramural Population Health Research Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Rockville, Maryland 20852.

Dr-Germaine M. Buck-Louis

Germaine M. Buck Louis, Ph.D., M.S.
Office of the Director
Division of Intramural Population Health Research
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Rockville, Maryland 20852.

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

Response: To understand the association between couples’ lifestyles and risk of pregnancy loss.  Couples were recruited upon discontinuing contraception to try for pregnancy and followed daily for up to one year of trying or until pregnancy.  Pregnant women were followed daily for 7 weeks following conception then monthly.

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Euthanasia and/or Physician Assisted Suicide in Psychiatric Disorders Legal in Belgium and The Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Scott Y. H. Kim, MD, PhD Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD 20892

Dr. Scott Kim

Scott Y. H. Kim, MD, PhD
Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Kim: Euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide (EAS) of persons suffering from psychiatric disorders is increasingly practiced in some jurisdictions such as Belgium and the Netherlands but very little is known about the practice.  There is an active debate over whether to legalize such a practice in Canada, after a Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down laws banning physician assisted death. 

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Kim: The main findings are that:

  1. Most patients who receive psychiatric euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide are women, of diverse ages, with a variety of chronic psychiatric conditions accompanied by personality disorders, significant physical problems, and social isolation/loneliness, often in the context of refusals of treatment.  A minority who are initially refused EAS ultimately receive euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide through a mobile euthanasia clinic.
  2. Given that the patients have chronic, complicated histories requiring considerable physician judgment, extensive consultations are common. But independent psychiatric input does not always occur; disagreement among physicians occurred in one in four cases; and the euthanasia review committees generally defer to the judgments of the physicians performing euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide.

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Some Blood Pressure Medications May Be Protective Against Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Juan M. Saavedra, MD and
Dr. Abdel Elkahloun PhD
Comparative genomics and Cancer Genetics Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute,
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

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

Response: Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent age-related dementia, a progressing, devastating illness without effective treatment. By the time it is diagnosed, major and irreversible cell injury has already occurred. It is therefore imperative to identify therapeutic agents effective against early, pre-symptomatic injury mechanisms and risk factors increasing vulnerability the disease.

We focused on a class of compounds blocking receptors for Angiotensin II, the Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs). These compounds are commonly used for the treatment of hypertension, a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

We and others have found that in addition to their cardiovascular benefits, ARBs are strongly neuroprotective. The present study was designed to explore in depth the neuroprotective effects of one member of the ARB class, candesartan. To this effect we cultured neurons extracted from the rat brain. These neurons were exposed to high concentrations of glutamate, a recently identified early injury mechanism in Alzheimer’s disease. We found that candesartan prevented glutamate-induced neuronal injury.

We conducted in-depth examination of our results by genome-wide expression profile analysis. We found that candesartan normalized glutamate-induced alterations in expression of hundreds of genes, including many involved in neuronal inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and alterations in amyloid metabolism a hallmark for Alzheimer’s disease. This was evidence of direct neuroprotective effects of relevance for this disorder.

When we compared our results with published databases obtained from autopsy samples from Alzheimer’s disease patients, we found impressive correlations. The expression of more than 400 genes altered by glutamate and normalized by candesartan in our cultures was similarly changed in the Alzheimer’s databases.

The conclusion was that our cell culture results represented alterations found in the human condition. Our observations provide novel evidence of neuroprotection from early mechanisms of injury in Alzheimer’s disease and support testing candesartan in controlled clinical studies including individuals at the early stages of the illness, to unequivocally demonstrate their therapeutic effect.

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Prescription Opioids And Heroin Crisis Overlap in Important Ways

Dr. Wilson Compton

Dr. Wilson Compton

For more on Opioids on MedicalResearch.com please click here.

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E.
Deputy Director
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Compton: Deaths related to opioids (from both prescription pain killers and street drugs, like heroin) have dramatically increased in the past 15 years.  How these different types of opioids are related to each other is important because the pain killers ultimately are derived from prescriptions written by health care providers and street drugs, like heroin, are from illegal sources.  The different types of opioids vary in there source but are quite similar in their effects in the brain.  Given the different sources, interventions to reduce availability vary across the two categories. There is also a concern that interventions to reduce the availability of prescription opioids may be encouraging people to switch to heroin.  That’s the main question addressed in this review.

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Pre-Pregnancy Potatoes In Diet Linked To Higher Gestational Diabetes Risk

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD Senior Investigator, Epidemiology Branch Division of Intramural Population Health Research NICHD/National Institutes of Health Rockville, MD 20852

Dr. Cuilin Zhang

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD

Senior Investigator, Epidemiology Branch
Division of Intramural Population Health Research
NICHD/National Institutes of Health
Rockville, MD 20852 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Zhang: Potatoes are the third most commonly consumed food crop in the world. In the United States, about 35% of women of reproductive age consume potatoes daily, accounting for 8% of daily total energy intake.  Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common complication of pregnancy characterized by glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. GDM is at the center of a vicious circle of ‘diabetes begets diabetes’ across generations. Potato foods are typically higher in glycemic index and glycemic load, but data are lacking regarding whether potato consumption is associated with the risk of Gestational diabetes mellitus.

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Zhang: Women who eat more potatoes before pregnancy may have higher risk of gestational diabetes—the form of diabetes that occurs or first diagnosed during pregnancy—compared to women who consume fewer potatoes. Substituting potatoes with other vegetables, legumes or whole grains may help lower gestational diabetes risk.

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Sugar Sweetened Beverages Linked to Increase in Belly Fat

Dr. Caroline Fox, MD MPH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School

Dr. Fox

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Caroline Fox, MD MPH
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Fox: There is evidence linking sugar sweetened beverages with obesity and type 2 diabetes. There is also evidence suggesting that specific adipose tissue depots may play a role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. We found that higher levels of sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) intake was associated with more visceral fat (fat in the stomach cavity) over 6 years.

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Mutations In Congenital Heart Disease Also Linked to Neurodevelopmental Abnormalities

Jonathan Kaltman, MD Chief, Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch Division of Cardiovascular Sciences National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Dr. Kaltman

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan Kaltman, MD

Chief, Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Kaltman:  Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect but the cause for most defects is unknown.  Surgery and clinical care of patients with congenital heart disease has improved survival but now we are learning that many patients have neurodevelopmental abnormalities, including learning disability and attention/behavioral issues.

Medical Research:  What are the main findings?

  • Using exome sequencing we found that patients with  congenital heart disease have a substantial number of de novo mutations.  This finding is especially strong in patients with CHD and another structural birth defect and/or neurodevelopmental abnormalities.
  • Many of the genes identified are known to be expressed in both the heart and the brain, suggesting a single mutation may contribute to both congenital heart disease and neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

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Younger Women Drinking More Like Men

Aaron White, PhD Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director Office of the Director National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD

Dr. Aaron White

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aaron White, PhD
Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director
Office of the Director
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. White: Recent studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that alcohol use by women in the United States might be on the rise and that long-standing gender gaps in drinking and related consequences might be narrowing. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we found that differences in the drinking patterns of females and males ages 12+ narrowed between 2002 and 2012 for current drinking (drinking at least once in the last 30 days), number of drinking days per month, past year DSM-IV alcohol abuse, and past-year driving under the influence of alcohol. For instance, the percentage of women who drank in the previous 30 days rose from 44% to 48%, while for men the percentage decreased from 57% to 56%. Average drinking days per month increased for women from 6.8 to 7.3 days, but dropped for males from 9.9 to 9.5 days. Driving under the influence (DUI) declined for both, but less so for females (from 10.3% to 7.9%) than males (from 19.0% to 14.4%), thereby narrowing the gender gap for DUI. Analyses revealed additional changes within specific age groups in the population.

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Health Diet May Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk in African American Women

Bo (Bonnie) Qin, PhD Postdoctoral associate at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Dr. Qin

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bo (Bonnie) Qin, PhD

Postdoctoral associate at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response:  Ovarian cancer is among the top five causes of cancer death among women in the US. Compared to white women, African-American women tend to have a worse 5-year survival rate of ovarian cancer. It highlights a critical need for identifying preventive factors in African Americans, particularly through dietary modification, which is relatively low cost and low risk compared to medical treatments.

We found that adherence to an overall healthy dietary pattern i.e. Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)-2010 may reduce ovarian cancer risk in African-American women, and particularly among postmenopausal women. Adherence to the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans i.e. Healthy Eating Index-2010, were also strongly associated with reduced risk of ovarian cancer among postmenopausal African-American women.

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Menopausal Hormone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elizabeth K. Cahoon, PhD
Radiation Epidemiology Branch
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services
Bethesda, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cahoon: Although basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in the United States, there is relatively little research on risk factors since few population-based cancer registries do not capture information on this malignancy.

Sun exposure (in particular ultraviolet radiation) is the primary risk factor for basal cell carcinoma, but less is known about other factors that may affect this risk. A previous study found a relationship between menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use and increased risk of BCC in a population of Danish women.

In our study we looked to see if factors related to estrogen exposure from multiple sources was associated with basal cell carcinoma risk in a large, nationwide, prospective study. These included use of oral contraceptives or menopausal hormone therapy, but also reproductive factors (like age at menarche and menopause).

We observed that women who experienced natural menopause later in life were more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma compared to women who had natural menopause at a younger age.

In addition, women who reported using menopausal hormone therapy for one year or longer were more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma compared to women who did not report MHT use.

Women who reported natural menopause and menopausal hormone therapy use for 10 or more years had the highest risk of basal cell carcinoma, compared to women with no menopausal hormone therapy use.
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Increased Time Watching TV Linked To Greater Mortality Risk

Sarah K. Keadle, PhD, MPH Cancer Prevention Fellow Nutritional Epidemiology Branch Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute

Dr. Keadle

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sarah K. Keadle, PhD, MPH
Cancer Prevention Fellow
Nutritional Epidemiology Branch
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute

 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Keadle: Television viewing is extremely prevalent in the U.S. Ninety-two percent of Americans have a television at home and watching TV consumes more than half of their available leisure time, potentially displacing more physical activities. Previous studies have reported a relationship between TV viewing and increased risk of death from the two most common causes of death in the U.S., cancer and heart disease.

In our study, we followed more than 221,000 healthy Americans aged 50-71 years old for 14 years to look at this relationship. We confirmed the association with increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease. In addition, we found that TV viewing was associated with an increased risk of six other causes of death, including diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease.

Also, compared to individuals who watched less than one hour per day, those who watched 3-4 hours of TV per day were 15% more likely to die from any cause, and individuals who watched seven or more hours of TV per day were 47% more likely to die over the study period.

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Psoriasis Increases Blood Vessel Inflammation and Heart Disease Risk

Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., F.A.H.A. Lasker Clinical Research Scholar Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases NIHMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., F.A.H.A
.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar
Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases
NIH

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Mehta: Psoriasis increases cardiovascular disease (CVD), and this study shows for the first time that the amount of psoriasis on the skin is mirrored in the blood vessels by increasing blood vessel inflammation.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Mehta: Even one plaque may be too many if we are seeing a relationship between skin disease severity and vascular inflammation.

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Fetal Weight Found To Vary By Race and Ethnicity

Dr. Louis Germaine Buck Senior Investigator and Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) National Institutes of Health MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Germaine 
Louis Buck PhD
Senior Investigator and Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health 

 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Germaine Buck: We wanted to develop intrauterine standards for ultrasound measured fetal growth, given that none currently exist for contemporary U.S. pregnant women.  Moreover, we wanted to determine if a single standard would be possible for monitoring all pregnant women, or if the standard needed to be tailored to pregnant women’s race/ethnicity.  This added step attempted to address the equivocal data about whether or not race/ethnicity is an important determinant of optimal fetal growth.

Analyzing data from 1,737 low risk pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies who had 5 ultrasounds done at targeted times during pregnancy, we found significant differences in estimated fetal weight across the 4 maternal race/ethnic groups.  These differences were apparent beginning about 16 weeks gestation and continuing throughout pregnancy.  The differences in these curves were apparent when assessing infant’s birthweight, as well.  Overall, estimated fetal weights while women were pregnant were highest for White mothers followed by Hispanic, Asian, and Black mothers.  A 245 gram difference in estimated fetal weight was observed at 39 weeks gestation between pregnant White and Black women.  This pattern was then observed for measured birth weight, with highest birthweights for White then Hispanic, Asian, and Black infants.

Other differences emerged by maternal race/ethnicity for individual fetal measurements:  longest bone (femur & humerus) lengths were observed for Black fetuses emerging at 10 weeks gestation, larger abdominal circumference for White fetuses emerging at 16 weeks gestation, larger head circumference for White fetuses emerging at 21 weeks gestation, and larger biparietal diameter for White fetuses emerging at 27 weeks gestation in comparison to other groups.

The race/ethnic differences in fetal size were highly significant and across gestation.  If a single White standard was used for estimating fetal weight for non-White fetuses in pregnant women, between 5% and 15% of their fetuses would have been misclassified as being in the <5th percentile of estimated fetal weight.

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Abdominal Obesity Raises Risk of Breast Cancer in Pre and Post Menopausal Women

Dr. Alexandra White PhD in Epidemiology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Postdoctoral fellow National Institute of Environmental Health ScienceMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Alexandra White PhD in Epidemiology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Postdoctoral fellow
National Institute of Environmental Health Science

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. White: Many studies have shown that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer. We know less about how obesity impacts breast cancer risk in premenopausal women.

About a third of U.S. adults are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Similarly, the prevalence of abdominal obesity, measured by a person’s waist circumference, has increased by 10% in the last decade. In 2012, more than two-thirds of U.S. women had a waist circumference that indicated abdominal obesity.

Abdominal obesity may be a better predictor than BMI for breast cancer risk and other chronic diseases, because it is related to insulin resistance and can reflect metabolically active fat stores.

In order to understand how different types of obesity (overall vs. abdominal) influence breast cancer risk, we used information from >50,000 participants in the Sister Study. The Sister Study, led by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health investigates environmental and genetic risk factors for breast cancer.

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MMR Vaccination May Not Be Reliable in HIV+ Children

George K Siberry, MD, MPH, Medical Officer Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease (MPID) Branch Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MDMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
George K Siberry, MD, MPH, Medical Officer
Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease (MPID) Branch
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Siberry:  Vaccines may not work as reliably in children with HIV infection, especially when their HIV is not under effective treatment. Today, most children in the United States who were born with HIV infection are receiving effective HIV treatment and have reached school age or even young adulthood. However, many received their childhood vaccines before they got started on their HIV treatment (because modern HIV treatments weren’t available when they were very young or their HIV infection was diagnosed late). So we wanted to see if these older children still had immunity from the vaccines they received when they were much younger.

Medical Research:  What are the main findings?

Dr. Siberry: We looked specifically at whether older children with HIV since birth were protected against measles, mumps, and rubella, the three viral infections covered by the measles-mumps-rubella (or MMR) vaccine. We found that 1/3 up to almost 1/2 of these children were not protected against these viruses, even though nearly all of the children had received at least 2 MMR doses, as recommended. And even if their HIV was currently under excellent control.  When we analyzed factors that were linked to being protected, we found that one of the most important factors was whether you got your MMR vaccine doses after you got on good treatment for your HIV infection.  For instance, over 85% of children who had gotten at least 2 MMR vaccine doses after being on effective HIV treatment were protected against measles compared to less than half of those who didn’t get both of their MMR vaccine doses while on effective HIV treatment.
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Over 10% US Adults Live With Pain Every Day

Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MarylandMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Nahin: In 2011 the Institute of Medicine published a blueprint for transforming pain care in the United States.  In this report the IOM noted the lack of a comprehensive picture of pain’s prevalence and severity in the U.S., and especially noted that lack of data examining racial and ethnic groups. The current analysis of data from the 2012 National Health Interview survey is a step toward addressing these deficiencies. 

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Nahin: The analyses found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2 percent) had pain every day for the preceding 3 months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain.  Those with severe pain are also likely to have worse health status.  There were associations between pain severity and race, ethnicity, language preference, gender, and age. Women, older individuals, and non-Hispanics were more likely to report any pain, while Asians were less likely.  Minorities who did not choose to be interviewed in English are markedly less likely to report pain.

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Botulinum Toxin Reduces Pain of Skin Leiomyomas

Edward W. Cowen, MD, MHSc Dermatology Branch, Center for Cancer Research National Cancer Institute Bethesda, MarylandMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Edward W. Cowen, MD, MHSc
Dermatology Branch, Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Bethesda, Maryland

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Cowen: Cutaneous leiomyomas are benign smooth muscle proliferations that are associated with pain that is typically not well-controlled by topical remedies or systemic pain medication. Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer is a rare syndrome in which patients may have dozens or even hundreds of these painful tumors. We sought to determine if botulinum toxin injected directly into leiomyomas may ameliorate discomfort and improve quality of life in patients who experience significant pain from cutaneous leiomyomas.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Cowen: In a double-blinded placebo-controlled study, we found that injection of botulinum toxin was associated with improved skin-related quality of life (p = 0.007) and decreased skin-specific pain (p = 0.048) on the Dermatology Life Quality Index. A trend for decreased pain (p = 0.06) by visual analog score was reported in the botulinum toxin treated group compared to the placebo group.

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