Author Interviews, BMJ, Depression, Weight Research / 30.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Rafael Gafoor Research Associate Kings College London  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Obesity and weight gain are global public health problems, with approximately 60% of UK adults currently overweight or obese. Depression is common in people who are severely obese and the rate of antidepressant prescribing is increasing, which could have potential impact on public health. However, little research has been reported on the impact of widespread antidepressant treatment on weight gain. So a UK based research team, led by Rafael Gafoor at King’s College London, set out to investigate the association between the use of antidepressants and weight gain. The researchers analysed body weight and body mass measurement data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) for over 300,000 adults with an average age of 51, whose body mass index (BMI) had been recorded three or more times during GP consultations from 2004-2014. Participants were grouped according to their BMI (from normal weight to severely obese) and whether or not they had been prescribed an antidepressant in a given year. Participants were then monitored for a total of 10 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, Fish, OBGYNE, Toxin Research / 23.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Fish” by Dhruvaraj S is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Caroline M Taylor Wellcome Trust Research Fellow Centre for Child and Adolescent Health Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Mercury is a toxic metal that is widespread in the environment. In pregnancy, mercury in the mother’ bloodstream is transferred through the placenta to the fetus, where is can affect development of the nervous system. Mercury from vaccines has been the focus of attention particularly in regard to a link with autism in children. However, the amount of mercury used in the vaccines is small in comparison with mercury from the diet and atmospheric pollution, and in the EU at least, childhood vaccines no longer contain this preservative. The fear that mercury is linked to autism has persisted, despite increasing evidence that this is not the case. The aim of our study was to look at mercury from the diet rather than vaccines – specifically from fish – in pregnant women. We measured the women’s mercury levels in their blood and asked them about how much fish they ate. We then followed up their children for 9 years and recorded how many of them had autism diagnosed within that time. We also measured how many of them had autist traits by measuring their social and communication difficulties.  The data were part of the Children of the 90s study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children – ALSPAC), which is based in Bristol, UK. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Environmental Risks, Science, UCSF / 22.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Space Shuttle Model” by terren in Virginia is licensed under CC BY 2.0Susanna Rosi, PhD Director of Neurocognitive Research Brain and Spinal Injury Center Professor in the departments of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and of Neurological Surgery UCSF MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: NASA and private space companies like SpaceX plan to send humans to the red planet within the next 15 years — but among the major challenges facing future crewed space missions is how to protect astronauts from the dangerous cosmic radiation of deep space. In this study we identified the first potential treatment for the brain damage caused by exposure to cosmic rays — a treatment can be given after exposure and that prevents memory impairment in mice exposed to simulated space radiation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Emory, Heart Disease, JAMA / 22.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD Department of Epidemiology and Division of Cardiology Professor, Department of Medicine Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, Georgia  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies have shown that people with depression tend to have lower heart rate variability (HRV), an index of autonomic nervous system dysregulation derived by monitoring the electrocardiogram over time, usually for 24 hours. Other literature, however, has pointed out that autonomic dysregulation (as indexed by reduced HRV) may also cause depression. Thus, the direction of the association between reduced HRV and depression still remains unclear. In addition, these two characteristics could share common pathophysiology, making shared familial background and genetic factors potential determinants of this association. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, Columbia, JAMA, Toxin Research / 21.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou ScD Assistant Professor Environmental Health Sciences Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University  Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou ScD Assistant Professor Environmental Health Sciences Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders, like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been increasing. One of the hypothesized risk factors for increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders is a class of chemicals known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals are known to interfere with the endocrine system, i.e. the system that uses hormones to control and coordinate metabolism, reproduction and development. Several high production volume chemicals, ubiquitously present in commercial products, are known or suspected endocrine disruptors. Because of their widespread use in consumer products, the population-wide exposure to known and suspected EDCs is very high. Recently, there has been increased attention in the potential effects of EDCs on neurodevelopment that span multiple generations. Animal studies have provided evidence that exposure to EDCs, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), alter the behavior and social interactions in mice in three to five generations after exposure. However, evidence of such multi-generational impacts of EDC exposure on neurodevelopment in humans is unavailable, likely because of the lack of detailed information on exposures and outcomes across generations. For this study we leveraged information from a nationwide cohort, the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), to investigate the potential link between exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) and third generation ADHD, i.e. ADHD among the grandchildren of the women who used DES while pregnant. DES is a very potent endocrine disruptor that was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to pregnant women thought to prevent pregnancy complications. In the United States, between 5 and 10 million women are estimated to have used DES, although the exact number is not known. DES was banned in 1971, when was linked to vaginal adenocarcinomas (a rare cancer of the reproductive system) in the daughters of the women who had used it during pregnancy. Since then, DES has been also linked to multiple other reproductive outcomes in DES daughters, as well as with some reproductive outcomes in the grandchildren of the women who used it, such as hypospadias and delated menstrual regularization. However, to our knowledge, no study to date has evaluated the association between DES, or any other EDC, and multigenerational neurodevelopment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Mental Health Research / 21.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maxwell Elliott Clinical psychology PhD student Working with Ahmad Hariri and the Moffitt & Caspi lab Duke University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The traditional clinical science model identifies individuals who meet specific criteria for mental illness diagnoses (e.g. Depression, Anxiety) and compares them to “healthy” controls to find brain correlates of mental illness.  However, this approach often overlooks the high rates of comorbidity and shared symptamatology across mental illnesses. Emerging research has identified a general factor of psychopathology that accounts for shared risk among internalizing, externalizing, and thought disorders across diverse samples. This general factor of psychopathology has been called the p-factor. In our study we investigate the brain correlates of the p-factor using a data-driven analysis of resting state functional connectivity. We find that higher p-factor scores and associated risk for common mental illness maps onto hyper-connectivity between visual association cortex and both frontoparietal and default mode networks. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Social Issues / 18.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Dorina Cadar Research Associate in Dementia Psychobiology Group Department of Behavioural Science and Health University College London London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Dementia is one of the most feared medical conditions, which represents a significant global challenge to health and social care. Education may serve different roles in the development of dementia: it is a proxy for early life experiences and (parental) socioeconomic status, it is related to future employment prospects, income and wealth, determines occupational exposures and characteristics of adult life (e.g., job complexity, work stress, environmental exposures) and it provides lifelong skills for optimal mental abilities and mastery. However, given that education is typically completed many decades before dementia onset, other individual and area-based components of socioeconomic status, such as wealth, income and area deprivation may provide a more accurate indication of current socioeconomic resources.  Also, at older ages, accumulated wealth represents a more robust measure of socioeconomic resources than income or occupation alone. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 17.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tobias Kaufmann PhD Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past years, a lot of work has pointed toward impaired brain networks in schizophrenia. With this work we assessed brain network stability across different loads of a cognitive task using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Based on our earlier work on adolescents with pre-clinical signs of mental illness who showed decreased stability of networks across different tasks and conditions, we hypothesized that brain networks in adults with schizophrenia show similar properties of decreased stability. Our results confirmed this hypothesis. Stability was reduced in several large-scale brain networks across the sampled age range from early adulthood to the sixties. Further, network stability was associated with polygenic risk for schizophrenia as well as cognitive task performance. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Depression, Exercise - Fitness / 17.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Sarah E Lamb,  MSc, MA, MCSP, Grad Dip Statistics, DPhil Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Centre for Statistics in Medicine Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Sciences Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Scientists and clinicians have considered the possibility that higher intensity aerobic and muscle strength training might have a beneficial effect in preventing dementia or slowing the progression of cognitive impairment in those who have dementia. The hypothesis has come mostly from animal research. The main findings of our research which used a large sample and high quality methods was that higher intensity exercise, whilst possible, did not slow cognitive impairment. Neither did it have an impact on the functional and behavioural outcomes for people with dementia. It was a substantial commitment for people to participate in the programmes, although many enjoyed the experience and their physical fitness improved. (more…)
Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, Lancet, Mental Health Research / 16.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Laura Lyall MA; MSc; PhD Research Associate Institute of Health and Wellbeing University of Glasgow MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Previous studies have suggested a link between disturbed circadian rhythms and depression and bipolar disorder. These studies have however usually used small samples, subjective measures of circadian disruption, or have not accounted for potential confounding factors like sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics. The UK Biobank cohort has accelerometry (activity monitor) data as well as mental health, lifestyle, BMI and sociodemographic data for over 91,000 individuals, and means we can address this question using objective measures of circadian rhythmicity on a large scale. We derived a measure of relative amplitude from the UK Biobank’s accelerometry data, which was recorded for 7 days between 2013-2014 from around 100,000 participants. Relative amplitude reflects the distinction, in terms of activity levels, between an individual’s most active 10 hours and least active 5 hours, in an average day. If an individual is inactive during the day, or has disturbed sleep at night, the will show low relative amplitude, consistent with disturbed circadian rest-activity patterns. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Mental Health Research / 16.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD Institute for Molecular Medicine University of Helsinski Finland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are many previous reports indicating a positive association between height and cognitive ability but the underlying mechanisms behind this correlation are not well known. We used a mediation model to test if this association is explained by brain size as measured with cortical grey matter size. We found that total cortical surface mediated the relationship between height and cognitive ability. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Personalized Medicine, University of Pennsylvania / 15.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David A. Wolk, MD Associate Professor Department of Neurology Co-Director, Penn Memory Center Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a state when individuals have mild memory problems, but not enough to impact day-to-day function.  Many patients with MCI are on the trajectory to developing Alzheimer’s Disease dementia, but about half will not and remain stable.  As such, patients with MCI are often uncertain about the likelihood they should expect to decline in the future which obviously may be associated with considerable anxiety and this may delay opportunities for them to plan for the future or begin therapeutic interventions. This study examined the degree to which amyloid PET, which detects the amyloid pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease, a measure of shrinkage of the hippocampus with MRI, and cognitive measures predicted development of dementia over 3 years.  We found that each of these measures enhances prediction of whether an individual will or will not develop dementia in the future.  If all of these measures are positive, one has a very high risk of progression whereas if amyloid PET and the MRI measurement are normal, there is very little risk of progression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Endocrinology, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Thyroid Disease / 14.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thyroid gland Wikipedia imageTeja Grömer PD Dr. med. Habil Facharzt für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie Lehrbefugter der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg im Fach Psychiatrie Bamberg  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 1) I had seen hundreds of clinical cases with combined depression and anxiety and noted end of 2015 that most (far more than 50%) from the subjective clinical impression were associated with autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT) 2) Autoimmune thyroiditis on the mental side leads to specific symptoms, exhaustion, tachycardia, restlessness. 3) I thus decided to do a systematic review and meta-analysis.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Exercise - Fitness / 13.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “gym” by FooJFoo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0Mr. Brett R. Gordon, M.Sc. Postgraduate researcher Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department University of Limerick, Ireland.  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Depression is prevalent, burdensome, and often comorbid mood disorder that is associated with other poor health outcomes. Exercise training interventions have demonstrated comparable efficacy for depressive symptoms to frontline treatments, such as antidepressant medications and behavioral therapies. However, the evidence to date has primarily focused on findings from studies of aerobic exercise training like jogging, running, and cycling. Our work is the first quantitative summary of the effects of resistance exercise training (RET), or weight lifting and strength training, on depressive symptoms, and the influence of variables like participant characteristics, features of the RET, and the methods that were used in studies on the antidepressant effects of RET. The main finding was that resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of their health status, the total prescribed volume of RET (e.g., how much the participants were supposed to exercise), or whether or not strength was significantly improved by the RET intervention.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Depression, Pediatrics / 11.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karen Fratantoni, M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician and lead study author Children’s National Health System MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We looked at the prevalence of depressive symptoms at NICU discharge and at six months after discharge among 125 parents randomized to the control group of a larger PCORI-funded trial of peer-to-peer support after NICU discharge. Determining factors associated with parental depressive symptoms at NICU discharge may help to identify at-risk parents who could benefit from mental health support. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Mental Health Research / 10.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Open Space Yoga Hawaii” by Open Space Yoga Hawaii is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michael Christopher Melnychuk PhD candidate Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience Trinity, Dublin  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus. We chose to focus on the locus coeruleus because this area and the chemical it produces play intimate roles in both attention and respiration. The locus coeruleus produces noradrenaline and releases it to the entire brain. This neurotransmitter functions as an all-purpose action system. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can't focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 08.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christoph U. Correll, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Hempstead, NY Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Medical Director, Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Department of Psychiatry   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are still all to often chronic and recurring mental health conditions that not uncommonly take a course during which individuals have varying degrees of significantly impaired personal, social and educational/vocational functioning. Prior individual studies examining early specialty intervention services, which integrate multiple different and complementary treatment components, had shown that this treatment approach can yield superior outcomes for people with early-phase schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders compared to usual care given to all people with psychotic disorders. However, we were lacking a broad overview of the type and results of treatment programs that had been conducted across different countries, continents and mental health service delivery systems. Moreover, we did not yet have a synthesis across all important outcomes that had been examined across these individual studies. This first comprehensive meta-analysis on this topic provides previously missing information on the different early intervention programs and their components as well as on all relevant outcomes for people who did or did not receiving early integrated care, also recently called ‘coordinated specialty care.’ (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Brain Injury, JAMA / 08.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH Professor, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology & Biostatistics University of California, San Francisco: http://profiles.ucsf.edu/deborah.barnes Research Health Sciences Specialist, San Francisco VA Medical Center Senior Investigator, Tideswell at UCSF: http://www.tideswellucsf.org/ Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH Professor, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology & Biostatistics University of California, San Francisco: http://profiles.ucsf.edu/deborah.barnes Research Health Sciences Specialist San Francisco VA Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • Previous studies have found a link between moderate to severe head injuries and increased dementia risk.
  • The association between mild head injuries and dementia – especially mild head injury that doesn’t result in loss of consciousness – is less well established
  • We examined the association between mild head injuries with and without loss of consciousness and dementia diagnoses in nearly 360,000 Veterans receiving care in the VA health care system.
  • We found that Veterans with a head injury diagnoses were two to four times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those without head injury diagnoses.
  • The risk of dementia diagnosis was doubled in Veterans who experienced head injury without loss of consciousness compared to those with no head injury. 
(more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Depression, Pediatrics / 04.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rebecca H. Bitsko, PhD National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities(https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/index.html) (NCBDDD) is committed to helping children who have mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Anxiety and depression are both internalizing mental disorders that often start during childhood, and that frequently occur together. In this study, we show that more than 1 in 20, or 2.6 million, US children aged 6-17 had a current diagnosis of anxiety or depression, by parent report, in 2011-12. We also found an increase of diagnosed anxiety in these children from 1 in 28 in 2007 to 1 in 24 in 2011-12. Further, in 2011-12, approximately 1 in 5 children with current anxiety or depression did not receive mental health treatment in the past year. Children with current anxiety or depression were more likely than those without to have:
  • Another mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder such as ADHD, learning disability, or speech or language problems
  • School problems
  • Parents who report high levels of stress and frustration with parenting
  • Unmet medical and mental health service needs
(more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Merck, NEJM / 02.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Michael F. Egan MD Merck & Co. North Wales, PA 19454   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A leading theory of Alzheimer's Disease is that it is caused by the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. Amyloid is composed of a sticky peptide called Abeta.  Abeta production can be blocked by Inhibiting an enzyme called BACE.  In animal models, BACE inhibtion prevent amyloid accumulation.  We aimed to see if a potent BACE inhibitor would slow clinical decline in Alzheimer's Disease. EPOCH was a Phase 2/3 randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, double-blind study evaluating efficacy and safety of two oral doses of verubecestat an investigational BACE inhibitor, administered once-daily versus placebo in patients with mild-to-moderate AD currently using standard of care treatment. The primary efficacy outcomes of the study are the change from baseline in cognition (assessed using the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale Cognitive Subscale, or ADAS-Cog),  as well as the change from baseline in function (assessed using the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study – Activities of Daily Living, or ADCS-ADL)  after 78 weeks of treatment. Following the recommendation of the external Data Monitoring Committee (eDMC), which assessed overall benefit/risk during  the trial,  the study was stopped early, as there was “virtually no chance of finding a positive clinical effect.” Verubecestat did not reduce cognitive or functional decline in patients with mild-to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and was associated with treatment-related adverse events.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 02.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “dog” by Neil Mullins is licensed under CC BY 2.0Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Stefan O. Reber Laboratory for Molecular Psychosomatics Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy University Clinic Ulm Ulm, Germany  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our hypothesis was that people who grew up in cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants  and without pets will show a more pronounced immune activation towards psychosocial stressors compared with people raised in rural areas in the presence of farm animals. This hypothesis is based on the fact that stress-associated psychiatric disorders, which are linked to or even promoted by an over(re)active immune system and chronic low grade inflammation,  are more prevalent in urban compared with rural areas. One possible explanation for a hyper(re)active immune system in people raised in urban relative to rural environments might be a reduced contact to immunoregulatory microorganisms (the so called “old friends”), which is significantly increased in rural people with regular contact with farm animals compared with urban people in the absence of pets. Our results show that a standardized laboratory psychosocial stressor causes a greater inflammatory response in young healthy participants with an urban upbringing in the absence of pets, relative to young healthy participants with a rural upbringing in the presence of farm animals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, OBGYNE, Sugar / 02.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScM, ScD Department of Health Sciences Merrimack College North Andover MA 01845. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sugar consumption among Americans is above recommended limits and this excess intake may have important health implications. This study examined the associations of pregnancy and offspring sugar consumption, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, other beverages (diet soda, juice), and fruit consumption with child cognition. This study found that when pregnant women or their children consumed greater quantities of sugar, as well as when women consumed diet soda during pregnancy, this was associated with poorer childhood cognition.  However, children’s fruit consumption was associated with higher cognitive scores. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, NIH, PNAS, Sleep Disorders / 19.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nora D. Volkow MD Senior Investigator Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Findings from animal studies had shown that sleep deprivation increased the content of beta-amyloid in brain, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.  We wanted to test whether this also happened in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. We found that indeed one night of sleep deprivation led to an accumulation of beta amyloid in the human brain, which suggest that one of the reasons why we sleep is to help clean our brain of degradation products that if not removed are toxic to brain cells.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Primary Care / 15.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anna Scandinaro Medical student Penn State College of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Dr. Usman Hameed, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and Dr. Dellasega wrote a previous paper called "What is irritability?" which examined the idea and concept of what irritability in school aged children can encompass. After considering possible definitions of irritability, we wanted to see how the concept manifested in clinical practice, especially with the controversy around the new diagnosis of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) in the DSM 5. The main findings of this study are that primary care providers (PCP)​identified a need for more training and education in how to assess irritability in pediatric and adolescent populations. In contrast, the child and adolescent psychiatrists we interviewed thought more triage from PCPs who care for school aged children with irritability would be helpful.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Eating Disorders, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 13.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tracy Vaillancourt, Ph.D. Full Professor and Canada Research Chair Children’s Mental Health and Violence Prevention Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences University of Ottawa MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Although there have been a few studies that have looked at the relation between being bullied and disordered eating, most studies have looked at it from the perspective of does being bullied lead to disordered eating and does depressive symptoms mediate (i.e., explain) the link. We wanted to look more closely at how bullying, disordered eating, and depression were related over time among teenagers by examining all possible pathways. Another novel aspect of our study was the focus on disordered eating behaviour only (e.g., vomiting, using diet pills, binge eating). Most previous work has examined behaviour and thoughts together, but because disordered eating thoughts are so common (termed normative discontent; e.g., fear of fat, dissatisfaction with body shape or size), particularly among girls and women, we wanted to focus on behaviour, which is more problematic in terms of physical and psychiatric health. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE / 12.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Aled Rees, MD, PhD Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute Cardiff University School of Medicine, Health Park Cardiff United Kingdom MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: PCOS is a common condition, affecting 5-10% of women globally, in which elevated male hormone levels can cause a range of distressing and life-limiting symptoms, including reduced fertility, irregular periods, excessive facial and body hair, and acne. Previous studies have suggested a link between PCOS and poor mental health in women but the studies were small and did not adequately take other factors that can affect mental health into consideration. In addition, high levels of testosterone during pregnancy have been reported to increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and autism, in children. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Epilepsy / 12.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Britta Haenisch, PhD Pharmacoepidemiology in Neurodegenerative Disorders German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have been shown to affect cognition by suppressing neuronal excitability and increasing inhibitory neurotransmission. Previous studies suggested that AEDs may be associated with cognitive adverse effects. Therefore, we evaluated the association between AED use and incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We utilized large longitudinal datasets from Finnish health registers and from German health insurance data. The case-control analyses was adjusted for several potential confounders like comorbidities and polypharmacy. The inclusion of a lag time between . Antiepileptic drugs use and dementia diagnosis allowed minimization of protopathic bias. Our study provides an association between regular prescription of  antiepileptic drugs with known cognitive adverse effects and the occurrence of dementia and AD in patients aged 65 years and older.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 11.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jiook Cha, PhD Assistant Professor Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Columbia University Medical Center New York, NY 10032 MedicalResearch.com: What did we already know about the connection between maternal SSRI use during pregnancy and infant brain development, and how do the current study findings add to our understanding? What’s new/surprising here and why does it matter for mothers and babies? Response: Prior studies have shown mixed results in terms of the associations between maternal SRI use during pregnancy and offspring’s brain and cognitive development. Neurobiological studies with animal models suggest that SSRI use perturbs serotonin signaling and that this has important effects on cognitive development (a study conducted an author of this paper, Jay Gingrich, MD, PhD: Ansorge et al., 2004, Science). The human literature has been more mixed in terms of the associations of prenatal exposure to SSRI with brain and cognitive development. In our study, we used neonatal brain imaging because this is a direct, non-invasive method to test associations between SSRI use and brain development at an early developmental stage, limiting the effects of the post-natal environment. In our study, we had two different control groups, that is, a non-depressed SSRI-free group (healthy controls), and depressed but SSRI-free (SSRI controls) group. Also, in our study we used rigorous imaging analytics that significantly improve the quantitative nature of MR-derived signals from the brain structure using two of the nation’s fastest supercomputers (Argonne National Laboratory and Texas Advanced Computing Center) and allows robust reconstruction of brain’s grey and white matter structure in the infants’ brains. We report a significant association of prenatal exposure to SSRI with a volume increases within many brain areas, including the amygdala and insula cortex, and an increase in white matter connection strength between the amygdala and insular cortex. We were surprised by the magnitude of the effects (or the statistical effect size), compared with other brain imaging studies in psychiatry with children or adults’ brains. Importantly, it should be noted that our estimates of brain structure are still experimental and for research-purpose only. This means that our data need to be replicated and rigorously tested against confounders in order to make a firm conclusion. While our study suggests a “potential” association between prenatal exposure to SSRI and a change in fetal or infant brain development, we still need more research.  tracts_in_the_brain (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 09.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Claudia I. Lugo-Candelas, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Columbia University Medical Center/ New York State Psychiatric Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have seen, in the last decade, an increase in the amount of mothers being prescribed SSRIs during pregnancy. While we know that untreated prenatal maternal depression has adverse consequences for both the mother and child, it’s not really clear what, if any, are the consequences of prenatal SSRI exposure on infant’s brain development. There have been some studies finding increased depression and anxiety in children prenatally exposed to SSRIs, but not all studies find these associations. We thus looked at 2-4 week old infants’ brains, using neuroimaging.  We found increased gray matter volume within the amygdala and insula, and increased white matter connectivity between these two structures in infants prenatally exposed to SSRIs. Of note, the statistical significance and the size of the effects we detected are quite large, even greater than the brain changes that we usually observe in our studies of children and adults with psychiatric disorders. Further, because these structures are involved in emotion processing, and alterations in volume and connectivity are sometimes seen in clinical populations, or in people at risk for anxiety, it important to learn more about what these volume and connectivity differences could mean for these infants. (more…)