Paternal Smoking Can Affect Multiple Generations of Descendants

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Photo booth: The Smoking Man" by simpleinsomnia is licensed under CC BY 2.0Pradeep G. Bhide, Ph.D.
Professor | Jim and Betty Ann Rodgers Eminent Scholar Chair of Developmental Neuroscience
Director, Center for Brain Repair
Department of Biomedical Sciences
Florida State University College of Medicine
Tallahassee, FL

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

Response: Until now, much attention had been focused on the adverse effects of cigarette smoking by pregnant women on their children’s cognitive development. Some reports suggested that cigarette smoking during pregnancy can produce harmful effects in multiple generations of descendants (transgenerational effects).

Not much had been known about the effects of paternal smoking, although more men smoke cigarettes than women. Our study shows that paternal nicotine exposure can be deleterious to the offspring in multiple generations. That is, cognitive function may be compromised in children and grandchildren of a nicotine-exposed male. Of course, our study was done in mice and not men.  However, since studies done in mice on maternal nicotine exposure produced results consistent with studies done in women and children, we believe that he findings from our present study likely can be extrapolated to humans.  Continue reading

Why Are So Many People Near-Sighted?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrei V. Tkatchenko, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Columbia University Medical Center
Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute
New York, NY 10032

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

Response: Clear distance vision is rapidly becoming a rare privilege around the world, especially in Asia, due to increasing prevalence of myopia.

Although much effort has been directed towards elucidating the mechanisms underlying refractive eye development and myopia, treatment options for myopia are mostly limited to optical correction, which does not prevent progression of myopia or pathological blinding complications often associated with the disease. During early childhood development, the axial length of the eye normally grows to match its optical power in a process called emmetropization, producing focused images on the retina. However, very often environmental and genetic factors lead to a mismatch between the optical power of the eye and its axial length resulting in the development of myopia if eyes grow too long for their optical power. Experimental studies in many animal species suggest that emmetropization is regulated by optical defocus. The eye can compensate for imposed negative and positive optical defocus by increasing or decreasing its growth rate, respectively. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying emmetropization are poorly understood which prevents development of anti-myopia drugs.

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Strong Link Between HPV and HIV Infection in MSM

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brandon Brown, MPH, PhD Associate Professor Center for Healthy Communities Department of Social Medicine, Population and Public Health UCR School of Medicine Riverside, CA 

Dr. Brown

Brandon Brown, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor
Center for Healthy Communities
Department of Social Medicine, Population and Public Health
UCR School of Medicine
Riverside, CA

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

Response: The authors have been working in Lima, Peru on HIV-related projects for over 17 years. This particular study arose out of interest from our main community collaborator and the only gay men’s health NGO in Lima, Epicentro Salud (http://epicentro.org.pe/index.php/en/). The NGO noticed that one of the main health issues among their clients was genital warts. When we learned this, we applied for funding through the Merck Investigator Initiated Studies Program to conduct a study examining the link between genital warts and incident HIV infection.

The relationship between anogenital HPV types and incident HIV infection among men who have sex with men and transgender women in Lima, Peru

The relationship between anogenital HPV types and incident HIV infection among men who have sex with men and transgender women in Lima, Peru

Although most studies have shown a general link between HPV and HIV co-infection, our findings illustrate the strong relationship between individual HPV types and HIV infection. Specifically, individuals in our study with any HPV type, more than one HPV type, or high-risk HPV were more likely to acquire HIV.

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Genes From Dad Influence How Mom Cares for Babies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Family” by IsaacVakeroKonor is licensed under CC BY 3.0Professor Rosalind John
Head of Biomedicine Division, Professor
School of Biosciences
Cardiff University
Cardiff UK

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

Response: I have been studying a really remarkable family of genes called “imprinted genes” for the last 20 years. For most genes, we inherit two working copies — one from our mother and one from our father. But with imprinted genes, we inherit only one working copy – the other copy is switched off by epigenetic marks in one parent’s germline. This is really odd because we are all taught at school that two copies of a gene are important to protect us against mutations, and much safer than only one copy. So why turn off one copy?

Maternal care boosted by paternal imprinting in mammals

Maternal care boosted by paternal imprinting in mammals

When my research group were studying these genes in mice, we found out that one of them, called Phlda2, plays an important role in the placenta regulating the production of placental hormones. Placental hormones are critically important in pregnancy as they induce adaptations in the mother required for healthy fetal growth. There was also some indirect evidence that placental hormones play a role in inducing maternal instinct. Women are not born with a maternal instinct –  this behaviour develops during pregnancy to prepare the mother-to-be for the new and demanding role of caring for her baby. This led to my idea that this gene expressed in the offspring’s placenta could influence maternal behaviour, which was entirely novel. 

Until now direct experimental evidence to support the theory that placental hormones trigger this “motherly love” by acting directly on the brain of the mother has been lacking. To test the theory that our imprinted gene could influence the mother’s behaviour by regulating placental hormones, we generated pregnant mice by IVF carrying embryos with different copies of Phlda2. We used IVF to keep all the mothers genetically identical. This resulted in genetically identical pregnant female mice exposed to different amounts of placental hormones – either low, normal or high.

We found that female mice exposed in pregnancy to low amounts of placental hormones were much more focused on nest building (housekeeping) and spent less time looking after their pups or themselves than normal mice. In contrast, female mice exposed to high placental hormones neglected their nests and spent more time looking after their pups and more time self-grooming. We also found changes in the mother’s brain before the pups were born so we know that the change in priorities started before birth. 

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

Response: This study is important because it shows, for the first time, that genes from the dad expressed in the placenta influence the quality of care mothers gives to their offspring. Perhaps more significantly, this study highlights the importance of a fully functional placenta for high quality maternal care.

We have shown in a mouse model that genes in the placenta and placental hormones are important for priming maternal nurturing in an animal model. Human placenta have the same imprinted genes and also manufactures placental hormones. It is possible that problems with the placenta could misprogram maternal nurturing in a human pregnancy and these mothers may not bond well with their newborn. It is also possible that problems with the placenta could contribute to depression in mothers. We are all familiar with postnatal depression but many more mothers experience depression in pregnancy with 1 in 7 mothers reporting clinically significant symptoms. 

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

Response: After we found out that Phlda2 could influence maternal behaviour in mice, we asked whether there were changes in this gene in human placenta from pregnancies where women were either diagnosed with clinical depression or self reported depression in pregnancy. Phlda2 seems to be OK but we found another gene that belongs to the same imprinted gene family called PEG3 that is expressed at lower than normal levels in women with depression. Strangely, this seems to only be in placenta from boys. 

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

Response: To explore this further, we have just started our own human cohort study called “Grown in Wales” at Cardiff University focused on prenatal depression. We are now looking at placental hormones in the mother’s blood and gene expression in the placenta to test the idea that the genes we are studying in mice are misregulated in the placenta of pregnancies where the mothers suffer with depression. This work is now funded by the Medical Research Council.

Citation: 

Maternal care boosted by paternal imprinting in mammals

D. J. Creeth, G. I. McNamara,, S. J. Tunster, R. Boque-Sastre,, B. Allen,, L. Sumption, J. B. Eddy,A. R. Isles, R. M. John PLOS
Published: July 31, 2018

Aug 2, 2018 @ 11:48 pm 

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Genetic Testing Could Identify Individuals At Risk of Osteoporosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stuart Kim - PhD Professor of Developmental Biology, Emeritus Bio-X Affiliated Faculty James H. Clark Center Stanford University

Dr. Kim

Stuart Kim PhD
Professor of Developmental Biology, Emeritus
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty
James H. Clark Center
Stanford University 

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

Response: Osteoporosis is caused by a reduction in bone mass, and leads to a high incidence of bone fracture because the weakened bone is less able to withstand the stress of slips and falls. Osteoporosis affects millions of elderly, is responsible for as many as 50% of fractures in women and 25% of fractures in men over the age of 50, and accounts for $19 billion in annual health care costs in the US. Identification of people with an increased genetic risk for osteoporosis could reduce the incidence of bone fracture. Low BMD is also a risk factor for stress fractures. For athletes and military personnel undergoing harsh rigors of training, stress fractures are common injuries that limit playing time, military effectiveness and competitive success.

Using data from UK Biobank, a genome-wide association study identified 1,362 independent SNPs that clustered into 899 loci of which 613 are new. These data were used to train a genetic algorithm using 22,886 SNPs as well as height, age, weight and sex as predictors. Individuals with low genetic scores (about 2% of those tested) showed a 17-fold increase in risk for osteoporosis and about a 2-fold increase in risk of fractures. Continue reading

Bariatric Surgical Approach To Increase Bile Acids May Reduce Cocaine Reward

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Aurelio Galli, Ph.D. Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Science Associate Director for Research Strategy Vanderbilt Brain Institute

Dr. Galli

Aurelio Galli, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
Associate Director for Research Strategy
Vanderbilt Brain Institute

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

Response: The study builds on evidence that bile acids influence the brain’s reward system. Bile acids are normally released from the gall bladder into the upper part of the small intestine, where they emulsify fats for absorption, before being recycled further down the small intestine. In bile diversion surgery, an experimental treatment for weight loss, bile is released at the end of the small intestine, increasing the amount of bile acids that enter the general circulation.

Mice treated with this surgery have less appetite for high-fat foods, which suggests that bile acids affect brain reward pathways.

We demonstrated that mice receiving the surgery also showed less preference for the cocaine-associated chamber, indicating that cocaine was probably less rewarding. Continue reading

Not All Tomatoes Are Equally Allergenic

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“TOMATOES” by RubyGoes is licensed under CC BY 2.0Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wilfried Schwab

Technical University of Munich
Center of Life and Food Science Weihenstephan
Biotechnology of Natural Products
Freising, Germany

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

Response: The prevalence of food allergy is an increasing health problem. Although tomatoes are one of the most consumed vegetables worldwide and have health beneficial effects lowering the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, patients suffering from birch pollen allergy can develop cross-reactivity after consumption of fresh tomatoes.

The aim of this study was to develop an analytical method for the quantification of the birch-pollen homologous allergen Sola l 4 in various tomatoes cultivars. Furthermore, the effect of conventional or organic cultivation as well as processing techniques on Sola l 4 content was investigated. Continue reading

To Avoid Leprosy, Stay Away from Armadillos!

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nine-banded armadillo image credit: Dr. Richard Truman, USPHS, Public Domain (2014)John S. Spencer, Ph.D.
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Where can armadillos be found? What are the main findings? 

Response: The ancient disease leprosy, a disease causing skin lesions, nerve damage, disfigurement and disability, is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, and is mainly spread by aerosol infection (coughing and sneezing) from human to human. It is rare in the United States (less than 200 cases on average per year), while it is endemic in Brazil, where over 25,000 new cases were diagnosed last year. In addition, zoonotic transmission of leprosy by nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcintus, pictured at left) has been shown to occur in the southern United States, mainly in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

Nine-banded armadillos originated from South America, and expanded their range from Mexico into Texas in the 1800’s, eventually spreading north and east throughout the gulf states. People in Brazil, particularly in rural areas, hunt and kill armadillos as a dietary source of protein. In the small town of Belterra in western Pará state in the Brazilian Amazon region, a survey of 146 residents showed that around 65% of people had some contact with armadillos, through hunting, preparing the meat for cooking, or by eating them. A group of individuals who ate armadillos most frequently (more than once per month and up to twice a week) had a significantly higher antibody titer towards the M. leprae-specific antigen PGL-I and an almost two-fold higher risk of being diagnosed with disease, a significant risk.   Continue reading

Disadvantaged Communities More Likely to Have Increase in Greenhouse Gases Under Cap-and-Trade Policies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lara Cushing PhD Assistant Professor of Health Education, College of Health and Social Sciences San Francisco State University 1600 Holloway Avenue San Francisco, CA 94132

Dr. Cushing

Lara Cushing PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Education, College of Health and Social Sciences
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA 94132

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

Response: More and more countries are adopting cap-and-trade programs as a way to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to address climate change. These efforts can lead to short-term health benefits because when you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you usually also reduce emissions other harmful air pollutants that can cause cardiovascular disease, asthma and cancer.

However, environmental equity concerns were raised early on about whether cap-and-trade would result in localized differences in emissions reductions that would also result in uneven reductions in harmful co-pollutants, such as particulate matter and air toxics. This is because companies can trade pollution permits under a cap-and-trade system and choose to buy more permits rather than reduce their emissions locally. Prior studies show that low income communities and communities of color are much more likely to live near polluting industries.

Continue reading

Higher Vitamin D Levels Linked to Lower Breast Cancer Incidence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., F.A.C.E. Adjunct Professor Division of Epidemiology Department of Family Medicine and Public Health University of California San Diego La Jolla, California 92093-0620

Dr. Garland

Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., F.A.C.E.
Adjunct Professor
Division of Epidemiology
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health
University of California San Diego
La Jolla, California 92093-0620

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

Response: Studies mapping death rates from female breast cancer in the US, the former USSR and Canada by Drs. Edward Gorham, and Frank and Cedric Garland revealed for the first time in history that death rates from breast cancer tracked latitude where people lived.

The rates were highest in the least sunny northern tier of states, lowest in the sunny southwest. This led these scientists to be the first to theorize that vitamin D prevents breast cancer” said study first author Sharon McDonnell. Continue reading

No Evidence Probiotics Will Reduce Your Anxiety

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel Reis MA Graduate Student Clinical Psychology University of Kansas

Daniel Reis

Daniel Reis MA
Graduate Student
Clinical Psychology
University of Kansas

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

Probiotics have generated considerable interest as a possible treatment for numerous forms of physical and mental illness. Preliminary evidence from both preclinical and clinical studies suggest that probiotics may be able to reduce anxiety. Our goal was to comprehensively review and summarize existing preclinical and clinical studies.

Overall, probiotic administration reduced anxiety-like behaviors in rodents, but only in those with some form of experimentally-induced disease (such as early-life stress or socieal defeat). Probiotics did not reduce anxiety in humans.

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How Does Alcohol Affect Risk of Cancer or Premature Death?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol” by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY 2.0Andrew Kunzmann
Research Fellow
Queen’s Universit
Belfast

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

Response: We decided to conduct this research because the messages about the health effects linked to light-moderate drinking are less consistent. Previous studies suggest that light-moderate drinking is linked to an increased risk of cancer but a lower risk of mortality than never drinking. The international guidelines around what constitutes drinking in moderation also differ, with UK guidelines now recommending intakes below 6 pints of beer or 175ml glasses of wine per week (equivalent to less than 1 per day) but other guidelines recommending intakes of 2 drinks or less per day. We wanted to see what the risk of getting either of these conditions (cancer or mortality) were to give a more comprehensive and less confusing message about the health effects of light-moderate drinking.

This was part of a well-established collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast and the National Cancer Institute in the US. We used data from a cancer screening trial in the US that contained data on over 100,000 people from the US, who were free from cancer at the start of the study and who completed a questionnaire asking how much alcohol they consumed at different periods of their adult life. This was then linked to data over an average of 9 years after they completed the questionnaire to see which individuals developed cancer or died from any cause. We then assessed whether risk of cancer and mortality differed based on lifetime alcohol intakes after accounting for a number of other factors such as age, educational attainment, smoking and dietary intakes.

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Animal Model Suggests BPA May Have Multigenerational Effect On Communication Patterns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cheryl Rosenfeld PhD DVS Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, and  research faculty member for the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders University of Missouri

Dr. Rosenfeld

Cheryl Rosenfeld PhD DVS
Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine
investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, and
research faculty member for the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurobehavioral Disorders
University of Missouri

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

Response: My laboratory has been examining the effects of developmental exposure to the endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), bisphenol A (BPA) on later neurobehavioral responses in a variety of rodent models, including California mice. This species is unique in that both parents rear the pups and they have monogamous social structure, similar to most human societies.

We had previously found that developmental exposure to BPA or another EDC, ethinyl estradiol (EE), disrupted later maternal and paternal care by F1 offspringto their F2 pups. Rodent pups use vocalizations both in the range of human hearing (20,000 hertz or below) and outside of the range of human hearing (20,000 hertz) to communicate with each other and their parents, and for the latter, such communications serve as a trigger to provide additional parental care in the form of nutrition or warmth to the pups.

Thus, in the current studies we sought to determine if exposure of the grandparents to BPA or EE could lead to disruptions in their grandoffspring (F2 generation) pup communications that might then at least partially account for the parental neglect of their F1 parents.

We found that early on female BPA pups took longer to call to their parents but later during the neonatal period they vocalized more than pups whose grandparents were not exposed to either chemical. Such vocalization changes could be due to multigenerational exposure to BPA and/or indicate that the pups are perceiving and responding to the reduced parental care and attempting but failing to signal to their F1 parents that they need more attention.

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15 Metropolitan Areas Have Large Numbers of Unvaccinated Kindergarten Students

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0Melissa S Nolan, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
Department of Epidemiology and Biostats
Arnold School of Public Health
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 2920

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

Response: As the CDC says, “vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in public health”. In the US, fifteen different vaccines are currently available and recommendations are based on age group and medical indication. Estimates suggest that the US childhood vaccination program has prevented 381 million infections and avoided 855,000 deaths. Despite these astounding public health successes, a movement opposing childhood vaccinations has been growing. Medical contraindications do exist, and these children rely on others to be fully vaccinated to provide herd immunity for children that cannot get vaccinations for medical reasons. In contrast to this important vulnerable clinical population, other reasons for non-vaccination include religious and philosophical beliefs.

A major reason for philosophical belief-exemptions is based on the erroneous belief that vaccines cause autism. With philosophical-belief based non-vaccinated populations on the rise, our current study aimed to better understand why some parents seek exemptions for their children.

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Ibuprofen Can Not Replace Antibiotics in Uncomplicated UTI

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ingvild Vik MD Doctoral Research Fellow Department of General Practice Institute of Health and Society - UiO University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. Vik

Ingvild Vik MD
Doctoral Research Fellow
Department of General Practice
Institute of Health and Society – UiO
University of Oslo, Norway

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

Response: Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common bacterial infection in women. It is painful and troublesome, and even though it is often self-limiting most women who see a doctor will be prescribed an antibiotic, as antibiotics provide quick symptom relief.  Antibiotic resistance is a growing, serious public health problem. Antibiotic use is the main contributor to antibiotic resistance, and to stop the rapid development it is crucial that we reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics. Antibiotics can cause unpleasant and potentially severe side effects, so avoiding unnecessary use is also beneficial for the individual patient.

A small German trial published in 2010 by Bleidorn et al. suggested that ibuprofen was non-inferior to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin in achieving symptomatic cure in uncomplicated UTI. This inspired us to conduct a larger trial to compare the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen to antibiotics in the treatment of uncomplicated UTI.  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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How Does the Brain Switch Between Automatic and Controlled Decision Making?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ksenija Marinkovic and Lauren Beaton

Psychology Department – College of Sciences Spatio-Temporal Brain Imaging Lab Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience
San Diego State University
San Diego CA

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

Response: In general, we subjectively perceive our actions to be under our deliberate and voluntary control. However, our results are consistent with other accruing evidence suggesting that a large portion of our behavior is automatic and not accessible to conscious experience. The automatic processing primarily underlies predictable daily routines when we seem to be on an “auto-pilot”. In contrast, situations that are ambiguous or that evoke incompatible response tendencies engage cognitive control which allows conscious override of the preplanned actions and results in flexible behavior. Our study used a multimodal imaging approach that combines perfect time sensitivity of magnetoencephalography (MEG) with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate spatio-temporal stages of the seamless interplay between automatic and controlled processing. MEG is a highly sensitive method that records magnetic fields generated by the brain’s neural activity in real time.

Young, healthy, participants performed a version of the Eriksen Flanker task, which presents two colored squares on either side of a centrally presented target square that appears after a short delay. Participants are instructed to press a button corresponding to the color of the target square in the middle and to pay no attention to the flankers. Although participants know that the flankers are irrelevant, they are unable to disregard them deliberately. Instead, flankers trigger an automatic preparation to respond. This is particularly apparent on mismatch trials on which the flanker color is misleading and it activates the wrong hand. Target appearance overrides the initial automatic response as the response plan is switched to the other hand to make a correct response. This process reflects recruitment of cognitive control or the decision-making capacity which includes a range of functions such monitoring contextual demands, selecting the correct response, and suppressing an automatic but irrelevant action.

Our multimodal MEG imaging method has allowed us to track the neural response as the brain prepares an incorrect response to flankers and then “switches” motor preparation between hemispheres. This approach makes it possible to investigate the interplay between automatic and controlled processing and dissect decision making as it unfolds.

The addition of a moderate dose of alcohol dysregulates this frontal network involved in motor decision making, which decreases accuracy when response conflict is present and lowers neural activity reflecting cognitive control. Related to this overall decrease, and of clinical importance, is the reduced ability to employ cognitive control to refrain from drinking excessively. However, the underlying patterns of response-switching were preserved under alcohol, suggesting that alcohol primarily induces deficits upstream during decision making and not during executing motor commands.  Continue reading

Full-Term Infant Deaths in US Remain High, Many From Suffocation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Neha Bairoliya, Ph.D. Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies Cambridge, MA 02138

Dr. Bairoliya

Neha Bairoliya, Ph.D.
Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies
Cambridge, MA 02138

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

Response: While the high prevalence of preterm births and its impact on infant mortality in the US have been widely acknowledged, recent data suggest that even full-term births in the US face substantially higher mortality risks compared to European countries with low infant mortality rates.

In this paper, we use the most recent birth records in the US to more closely analyze the primary causes underlying mortality rates among full-term births. We show that infants born full-term in the US face 50%-200% higher risks of infant mortality compared to leading European countries.

The two main drivers of these high relative risks are increased risk of mortality due to congenital malformations, which patients cannot really do much about other than ensuring adequate screening during pregnancy, and high risk of sudden unexpected deaths in infancy, which should largely be preventable through appropriate sleeping arrangements. While we do not have data on actual sleeping arrangements from our study, other data sources suggest that a substantial number of babies continue to sleep on their tummy; we also found a shockingly large number of babies dying from suffocation, which suggests that parents either use covers that are not safe, or let children sleep in their own beds.

Continue reading

Weight Gain Causes Loss of Taste Buds and Flavor Intensity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Robin Dando, PhD Assistant Professor Director, Cornell Sensory Evaluation Facility Department of Food Science Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14853

Dr. Dando

Robin Dando, PhD
Assistant Professor
Director, Cornell Sensory Evaluation Facility
Department of Food Science
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

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

Response: For many years, people have been interested in if gaining weight can change how we perceive foods, thus maybe encouraging less healthy food choices.  There is some evidence in previous work that if we become obese, we seem to perceive things as tasting less intense.  Now if this were the case, to make up for this we might eat more of whatever food it was we were eating, or conversely we might choose something that tasted more intense, to make up this difference.  More intense usually means higher calories, so if we took either of these approaches, we’re at risk for weight gain.

In our study, we examined the taste buds of mice who were fed an unhealthy diet that induces obesity, versus sibling mice fed a more healthy diet that keeps them lean.  The mice gaining weight ended up after only 8 weeks with a lot fewer taste buds than the lean mice.  This loss of taste buds represents one explanation for foods tasting less intense to the obese.

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Salivary Assay Developed for HIV Can Be Used To Detect Zika

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Researchers at NYU College of Dentistry are developing a test for Zika virus that uses saliva to identify diagnostic markers of the virus in a fraction of the time of current tests. NYU/Sapna Parikh

Researchers at NYU College of Dentistry are developing a test for Zika virus that uses saliva to identify diagnostic markers of the virus in a fraction of the time of current tests.
NYU/Sapna Parikh

Maite Sabalza Ph.D
Post Doctoral Associate
Department of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology
College of Dentistry, New York University
New York, NY 10010

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

Response: With previous NIH funding we were able to develop an automated “dual assay” (able to detect both host antibodies and viral RNA) for HIV.

In relatively short time, we were able to migrate those findings into the new assay for ZIKA Virus. Continue reading

ZIKA: Mouse Study Finds Antioxidant Ebselen Reduces Risk of Sexual Transmission

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Image of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a normal baby (right). This is one of the potential effects of Zika virus. Signs of microcephaly may develop a few months after birth. Wikipedia image

Image of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a normal baby (right). This is one of the potential effects of Zika virus. Signs of microcephaly may develop a few months after birth.
Wikipedia image

Yogy Simanjuntak PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Institute of Biomedical Sciences
Academia Sinica, Taiwan 

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

Response: Despite the low case fatality, Zika virus infection has been associated with microcephaly in infants and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Primarily transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, Zika also can be sexually transmitted in humans. By August 2016, the sexual transmission of Zika had been documented in 11 countries worldwide and most of the cases were from male to female. Infectious Zika in semen has been reported. Moreover, unlike in serum or urine samples, Zika RNA can still be detected in semen up to 188 days after the onset of symptoms. In the absence of approved antiviral drugs or vaccines for Zika infection, preventing the disease transmission is critical.

We observed Zika progressively damaged testes by gaining access to testicular cells including sperm. Notably, Zika caused signs of increased testicular oxidative stress and inflammation, characterized by high levels of reactive oxygen species and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Our data indicate that these factors may contribute to testicular damage as well as successful sexual transmission of Zika; thus, we speculate antioxidants might display beneficial effects to alleviate these disease outcomes.

We found that antioxidant ebselen both alleviated testicular damage and prevented sexual transmission of Zika via sperm from infected male mice to uninfected female mice.

Continue reading

Genetic Pathways Determine Susceptibility to Dengue Shock Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

CDC/ Frederick Murphy

This transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image depicts a number of round, Dengue virus particles that were revealed in this tissue specimen. CDC image

Luisa Pereira PhD
Institute for Research and Innovation in Health
University of Porto 

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

Response: By using admixture mapping along the genome in Thai cohorts, we were able to identify new candidate genes conferring protection/susceptibility to dengue fever. A very interesting result was that the set of genes differed with the dengue phenotype: genes coding proteins that may link to the virus, conditioning its entrance in the host cells and mobility therein were associated with the less severe phenotype; genes related with blood vessels permeability were associated with the dengue shock syndrome.  Continue reading

Endocrine Disrupter PFAS Chemicals Linked To Weight Regain, Especially in Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gang Liu, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Gang Liu

Gang Liu, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 

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

Response: Although many approaches can be used to achieve a short-term weight loss, maintenance of weight loss has become a key challenge for sustaining long-term benefits of weight loss. Accumulating evidence has suggested that certain environmental compounds may play an important role in weight gain and obesity development.

The potential endocrine-disrupting effects of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are extensively used in many industrial and consumer products including food packaging, paper and textile coatings, and non-stick cookware, have been demonstrated in animal studies, but whether PFASs may interfere with body weight regulation in humans is largely unknown.

In a 2-year POUNDS Lost randomized clinical trial that examined energy-restricted diets on weight changes, baseline plasma concentrations of major PFASs were measured among 621 overweight and obese participants aged 30-70 years. Body weight was measured at baseline, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and other metabolic parameters, including glucose, lipids, thyroid hormones, and leptin, were measured at baseline, 6, and 24 months.

We found that higher baseline levels of PFASs were significantly associated with a greater weight regain, primarily in women. On average, women in the highest tertile of PFASs regained 1.7-2.2 kg more body weight than women in the lowest tertile. In addition, higher baseline plasma PFAS concentrations, especially perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), were significantly associated with greater decline in RMR during the first 6 months and less increase in RMR during weight regain period.  Continue reading

Modeling Intelligence As Ability To Access Multiple Brain States

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Glenn N. Saxe, MD Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Child Study Center, One Park Avenue New York, NY 10016

Dr. Saxe

Glenn N. Saxe, MD
Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Child Study Center, One Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by brain entropy and how it relates to intelligence?

Response: Think of human intelligence as the capacity for a human being to understand their complex and ever-changing world. The world of a person is really complex and constantly in flux so the human brain must be ready to understand whatever may come – when there is no way beforehand to predict what might come. How does the brain understand its world? It creates specific models of the information it receives through specific patterns of neuronal connection. These are called brain states. The way the brain understands its world is largely through using such models, or brain states, to accurately predict what comes next. So you can see that for an intelligent brain to properly understand and predict events in the world, it will need to have access to a very, very large number of brain states. And this is how entropy is defined.

Entropy is a very old and very powerful concept in the history of science. Not only is it fundamental for thermodynamics – what we learned in high school physics – but it is also fundamental for the nature of information and it’s processing. Entropy is defined as the number of states – or distinct configurations – any system has access to at any point in time. High entropy means access to a very large number of states. Low entropy means access to a very small number of states. A solid is a phenomenon with very low entropy. A gas is a phenomenon with very high entropy. Life, and the brain, are somewhere in between.

Although it is impossible to precisely measure the number of states a brain has access to at any one moment, there is a highly related concept that can be measured. A system with access to a very high number of possible states (like a gas) has components with behavior that is highly unpredictable. A system with access to very few possible states (like a solid) has components whose behavior is highly predictable. We measured brain entropy through the predictability of the brains components at the smallest scale we had access to: what are called voxels in an fMRI scan. These are 3mm cubes of neurons in a functional MRI scan, and there are many thousands of these voxels in our measurement and each of these voxels contains information on the activity of hundreds of thousands of neurons. We measured the predictability of each of these voxels and then found clusters of voxels where their predictability – or entropy – was related to intelligence.

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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