Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Infections, Neurology, Parkinson's / 22.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rima McLeod, M.D., F.A.C.P, F.I.D.S.A Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences,Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases), and The College, Director, Toxoplasmosis Center, Senior Fellow,Institute of Genomics, Genetics and Systems Biology, Member, Commitees on Immunology, and Molecular Medicine and Pathogenesis, Member Global Health Center, Affiliate CHeSS; Attending Physician, Chicago Medicine, The University of Chicago MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? * One third of humans are infected lifelong with the brain-dwelling, protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. * Approximately fifteen million of these have congenital toxoplasmosis. * The parasite interconverts between slow-growing, encysted bradyzoites and rapid-growing tachyzoites. * In mice, T. gondii creates a chronic intra-neuronal infection and an inflammatory process. * Mice with acute and chronic infection have alterations in neurotransmitters, memory, seizures, and neurobehavior. * Some epidemiologic-serologic studies show associations between seropositivity for T. gondii and human neurologic diseases, for example, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. * Although neurobehavioral disease is associated with seropositivity, causality is unproven. * Serologic studies of humans with diverse genetics are not optimal to detect strong associations or directionality. * Epidemiologic associations also do not reveal parasite-modulated gene networks in human brain that could provide insights into how to cure and prevent resultant diseases. * We need integrative approaches to examine relationships between brain parasitism and other brain diseases, to provide a foundation to identify key pathways and molecules for drug and vaccine design * To address these problems, we considered two central questions: (i) If chronic brain parasitism associates with other neurologic diseases, what are they? And (ii) Which macromolecular networks are modulated by the parasite in human brain that lead to neuropathology which could underpin and facilitate design of treatments? * We hypothesized that a systems approach integrating multiple levels of host parasite interactions might resolve these questions. * To better understand what this parasite does to human brains, we performed a comprehensive systems analysis of the infected brain.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Mental Health Research / 20.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Amitai Abramovitch, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychology Texas State University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is associated with moderate degree of underperformance on several cognitive tests such as processing speed, and some higher order functions such as planning and inhibition. While this does not constitute a clinically meaningful impairment on these functions, we set out to explore the prevailing myth that OCD is associated with above-average intelligence. This myth, that was propagated by Sigmund Freud 115 years ago and is still surprisingly all too prevalent -  was never tested empirically. The notion of above average intelligence in OCD didn’t make sense to us given that IQ tests are comprised of subtests that assess cognitive function. To test this, we collected all the available data ever published in the scientific literature regarding IQ in OCD versus control samples, and conducted a meta-analysis. Our results show that OCD is not associated with higher IQ than average. In fact we found a slightly lowered IQ in OCD compared to controls, although IQ scores for OCD samples were in the average range. The total IQ score (Full Scale IQ) is comprised of two subscales, namely Verbal IQ, and Performance IQ. Our results show that reduced Full Scale IQ stems primarily from lowered Performance IQ, a scale that is comprised of a number of timed tests. In other words, as opposed to Verbal IQ tests, test scores on Performance IQ subtests rely heavily on performance within a specific time frame, and not only on performance accuracy. Thus, our findings suggest that reduced processing speed found in OCD could lead to reduced Performance IQ, and subsequently lead to lowered Full Scale IQ, and may not be indicative of specific cognitive deficits. This finding suggests that IQ tests administered to individuals diagnosed with OCD may result in a biased Full Scale IQ scores that does not accurately reflect their full intellectual potential. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 19.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Alosco, PhD NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease & CTE Center Boston University School of Medicine  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: TThe goal of this study was to investigate whether playing youth tackle football, particularly before the age of 12, is associated with worse emotional, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties later in life. Participants in this study included 214 former amateur and professional American football players who were part of the LEGEND study at Boston University. Participants had an average age of 51. 43 played high school football, 103 played college football, and there were 68 professional American football players. The former players were divided into two groups: those who began playing tackle football before age 12 and those who began at age 12 or older. Participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy, and executive functioning, such as initiating activity, problem-solving, planning, and organization. Results from former players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 were compared to those of participants who started playing at age 12 or later. The study showed that participation in tackle football before age 12 increased the odds for having problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning by two-fold and increased the odds for clinically elevated depression scores by three-fold. These findings were independent of the total number of years the participants played football or at what level they played, such as high school, college, or professional. Even when a specific age cutoff was not used, younger age of exposure to tackle football corresponded with worse clinical status. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, OBGYNE, Toxin Research, UC Davis / 12.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies. Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism. Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides. This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, NYU / 12.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Adriana Di Martino, MD Associate Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry NYU Langone Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: While there has been an increased awareness of the co-occurrence of symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children with a primary diagnosis of ASD, only recently has there been an appreciation that a substantial proportion of children with ADHD may also have ASD traits. These symptom domains overlap pose a challenge for accurate recognition and targeted treatments, yet their underlying mechanisms have been unknown. With more traditional diagnostic group comparisons we detected a significant influence of ASD on white matter organization, but our analyses of the severity of symptoms across individuals revealed an association between autistic traits and white matter organization, regardless of the individual's diagnosis. These findings were mostly centered around the corpus callosum, a structure that enables communication between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pharmacology / 10.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Xiaoqin Liu, PhD Department of Economics and Business Economics Aarhus University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous research on the long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes of serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use during pregnancy has primarily focused on offspring risk of autism spectrum disorder. Given SSRIs cross the placental barrier and affect the fetal brain, in-utero SSRI exposure may increase risks of other psychiatric disorders as well as autism spectrum disorder. We conducted a population-based study to look at a range of diagnostic groups of psychiatric disorders in children whose mothers used antidepressants during pregnancy. This was possible because of the nature of information available in Danish population registers, allowing us to follow children for many years. We found increased risks of various diagnostic groups of psychiatric disorders in children whose mothers continued antidepressant treatment during pregnancy, in comparison to children whose mothers stopped antidepressant treatment before pregnancy. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 07.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Patricia Moreno-Peral, PhD Research Unit, Primary Care District of Málaga-Guadalhorce Prevention and Health Promotion Research Network Institute of Biomedical Research in Málaga Málaga, Spain  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response:  No systematic reviews or meta-analyses have been performed on the effectiveness of preventive psychological and/or educational interventions for anxiety in varied populations. Previously, other systematic reviews have been focused on prevention efficacy in specific interventions (e.g. cognitive behavior interventions) or age groups (e.g. adolescents). (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 05.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carol A. Derby, Ph.D. Research Professor, The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology Research Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health Louis and Gertrude Feil Faculty Scholar in Neurology Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, NY 10461 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The population over the age of 85 is expected to triple in the coming decades, and with the aging of the population, the number of individuals living with dementia is projected to increase dramatically. While dementia prevalence rates are driven by demographic shift to older ages, changes in dementia incidence- the rate at which new cases are diagnosed, would also impact the proportion of the population affected in the coming decades. Recently, studies have suggested that dementia incidence rates may be declining in some populations, although the results have not been consistent. Better understanding trends in dementia rates is important for public health planning. Our objective was to determine whether there has been a change in the incidence of dementia diagnosis within a community residing group of over older adults followed by the Einstein Aging Study, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, NY between the years 1993 and 2015. To accurately characterize trends over time in disease rates requires separating the effects of age and the effects of calendar time. Therefore, we conducted a birth cohort analysis in which we examined age specific dementia incidence rates by birth year, for individuals born between 1910 and 1940. The analysis included over 1300 individuals over the age of 70, who were free of dementia when they enrolled in the study. Dementia was diagnosed using identical criteria over the entire study period, and study recruitment was also consistent over the period. We also examined trends in cardiovascular co-morbidities that have been related to dementia risk, as well as trends in education.  (more…)
Author Interviews, MRI, Schizophrenia / 31.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Irina Rish PhD IBM T.J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY 10598  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe psychiatric disorder that affects roughly about 1% of population. Although it is not as common as other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), and so on, schizophrenia  is perhaps one of  the most debilitating psychiatric disorders,  preventing people from normal  functioning in daily life. It is characterized primarily by a range of psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations (false auditory, visual or tactile perceptions detached from reality), as well as delusions, disorganized thoughts, speech and behavior, and multiple other symptoms including difficulty showing (and recognizing) emotions, poor executive functioning, inattentiveness, problems with working memory,  and so one. Overall, schizophrenia has a devastating impact not only on patients and their families, but on the economy, as it was estimated to cost the US about 2% off  gross national product in treatment costs, missed work, etc. Thus, taking steps towards better understanding of the disease can potentially lead to more accurate early diagnosis and better treatments. In this work, the objective was to identify "statistical biomarkers' of schizophrenia from brain imaging data (specifically, functional MRI), i.e. brain activity patterns that would be capable of accurately discriminating between schizophrenic patients and controls, and reproducible (stable) across multiple datasets. The focus on both predictive accuracy (generalization to previously unseen subjects) as well as on stability (reproducibility) across multiple datsets differentiates our work from majority of similar studies in neuroimaging field that tend to focus only on statistically significant differences between such patterns on a fixed dataset, and may not reliably generalize to new data. Our prior work on neuroimaging-based analysis of schizoprenia http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/related?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050625, as well as other research in the field, suggest that disrupted functional connectivity can be a much more informative source of discriminative patterns than local changes in brain activations, since schizophrenia is well known to be a "network disease", rather than a localized one. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Sleep Disorders / 30.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yue Leng, M.Phil, MD, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco SFVAMC  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a very common but treatable condition in older adults. Recent evidence has suggested a link between SDB and cognitive decline in the elderly, but previous studies have been conflicting and have used different methods to examine SDB or cognition. Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusion on the consistency of this association based on each individual study. Moreover, because each study has reported on specific domains using different scales, it is unclear if Sleep-disordered breathing has differential effects on cognitive domains. The current study is the first to quantitively synthesize all published population-based studies, which covers a total of over 4 million adults, and concluded that people with Sleep-disordered breathing were 26% more likely to develop cognitive impairment than those without SDB. They also had slightly worse performance in executive function but not in global cognition or memory.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, PLoS, University of Pennsylvania / 29.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yuanyuan Xie, PhD Postdoctoral Researcher Department of Neuroscience University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I joined Dr. Richard Dorsky’s lab in mid 2013 after a lab switch toward the end of the fourth year in my PhD. By then, the Dorsky lab at the University of Utah had published zebrafish lef1 mutants with a hypothalamic neurogenesis phenotype. I was asked to perform an RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) experiment to identify Lef1-dependent genes. In doing so, I also characterized the cellular phenotype in the hypothalamus of our zebrafish mutants in a greater detail. The first transition of this project happened when I proposed in late 2013 to test whether Lef1’s function was conserved in the mouse hypothalamus. Dr. Dorsky liked that idea, but told me that I could only pursue that idea if there was a Lef1-flox mouse strain available, because he did not want me to delay my graduation after a lab switch by making a new mouse line. Fortunately, a quick google search located the right mouse line published from the group of Dr. Hai-Hui Xue, who was generous enough to share some mice with us. Because the Dorsky lab was a zebrafish lab by then, we collaborated with Dr. Edward Levine to maintain our mice under his animal protocol. I was initially trained by Dr. Levine and his lab specialist Anna Clark for general mouse colony management. After Dr. Levine moved to Vanderbilt University in early 2016, we began to maintain our mice under Dr. Camille Fung’s animal protocol. Dr. Dorsky also supported me in attending a 3-week Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Course on Mouse Development, Stem Cells & Cancer in mid 2015, which made me much more confident in handling mouse work afterwards. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Genetic Research, JAMA / 29.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Arthur W. Toga PhD Provost Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry and The Behavioral Sciences, Radiology and Engineering Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience Director, USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and informatics institute USC Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics Keck School of Medicine of USC University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA  90032  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The ε4 allele of the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is the main genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease.  This study reexamines and corrects the sex-dependent risks that white men and women with one copy of the ε4 allele face for developing Alzheimer's disease using a very large data set of 57,979 North Americans and Europeans from the Global Alzheimer's Association Interactive Network (GAAIN). The study results show that these men and women between the ages of 55 and 85 have the same odds of developing Alzheimer's disease, with the exception that women face significantly higher risks than men between the ages of 65 and 75.  Further, these women showed increased risk over men between the ages of 55 and 70 for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is often a transitional phase to dementia. (more…)
Author Interviews, JNCI, Mental Health Research, Pharmacology, UT Southwestern, Weight Research / 23.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chen Liu, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Departments of Internal Medicine and Neuroscience Division of Hypothalamic Research The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, Texas 75390-9077  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Atypical antipsychotics are second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) that have been increasingly used to treat a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, and autism. Many patients taking these medications, however, are left in an agonizing dilemma. On one hand, they rely on these drugs’ psychotropic effect for normal functioning in daily life. On the other, many SGAs, including the most widely prescribed olanzapine and clozapine, can cause a metabolic syndrome that is known for excessive weight gain, dyslipidemia, and type-2 diabetes_ENREF_2. Notably, while full-blown type 2 diabetes and morbid obesity typically take years to unfold in the general population, these conditions progress at a much faster pace (within months) following second-generation antipsychotics treatment. Other factors such as ethnicity, age, and sex can also aggravate SGA-induced metabolic syndrome. Together, these peculiar features strongly suggest a distinct etiology underlying SGA-induced metabolic syndrome that has yet been fully elucidated. Currently, there is no medication specifically targeting SGA-induced metabolic syndrome. For many youths and adults taking second-generation antipsychotics, metabolic complications are difficult to manage as lifestyle changes, nutritional consulting, and commonly used anti-diabetic medications only provide limited relief. (more…)
Author Interviews, Memory, PTSD / 17.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jun-Hyeong Cho MD PhD Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology University of California, Riverside Riverside, CA 92521 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: To survive in a dynamic environment, animals develop fear responses to dangerous situations. For these adaptive fear responses to be developed, the brain must discriminate between different sensory cues and associate only relevant stimuli with aversive events. In our current study, we investigated the neural mechanism how the brain does this, using a mouse model of fear learning and memory. Our study demonstrates that the formation of fear memory associated with an auditory cue requires selective synaptic strengthening in neural pathways that convey the auditory signals to the amygdala, an essential brain area for fear learning and memory. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Depression, Geriatrics, Karolinski Institute / 11.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Heidi Taipale, PhD Pharm Senior Researcher School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland; and Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Antidepressant use among older persons has been associated with an increased risk of falling and fall-related events, such as hip fractures, in previous studies. Our previous study identified risk of hip fractures in antidepressant among persons with Alzheimer’s disease. As falling is the main causal factor for head traumas and traumatic brain injuries among older persons, we hypothesized that antidepressant use could also be associated with these injuries. We utilized a nationwide cohort of 70,718 persons newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, identified from the Finnish registers. The risk of head injuries and traumatic brain injuries was compared between persons initiating antidepressant use and comparison persons of the same age, gender and time since they received diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease but not using antidepressants. We found a 40-percent increased risk of head injuries and 30-percent increased risk of traumatic brain injuries associated with antidepressant use. Antidepressant use was associated with a higher risk of head injuries especially at the beginning of use – during the first 30 days – but the risk persisted even longer, up to two years. The association was also confirmed in a study design comparing time periods within the same person, thus eliminating selective factors. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 02.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Kochunov PhD Professor Maryland Psychiatric Research Center  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a debilitating disorder that strikes young people at the point of entering adulthood. In the past, we and others demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia are characterized by deficits in the white matter of the brain. White matter is the part of the brain that serves the backbone of cerebral networks transmitting information and interconnecting brain regions. In this report, we link the impaired white matter of the brain in schizophrenia patients with the disorder-related deficits in the processing speed. We also showed that mental processing speed is a fundamental cognitive construct that partially supports other functions like working memory in patients, where processing speed acting as the intermediate between white matter deficits and reduced working memory. This interesting relationship between processing speed, working memory, and white matter is most obvious in white matter regions most vulnerable to schizophrenia. That was the main finding of the study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Brain Injury, JAMA / 01.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Adrian Harel, PhD Chief Executive Officer Medicortex Finland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every 15 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a new head injury. Of the 2.5M people treated in hospital emergency rooms each year, 80,000 become permanently disabled because of TBI. Currently, there are no reliable diagnostic tests to assess the presence or severity of an injury on-site, nor are there any pharmaceutical therapies that could stop the secondary injury from spreading. Accurate diagnostics would benefit especially mild cases of TBI (concussions), which, if occurring repeatedly, may cause neurodegenerative conditions such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (which is typical for athletes in NFL and Ice-hockey). We have performed extensive preclinical research comparing fluid biopsies from normal and injured lab animals. The results showed some unique biomarkers released as a biodegradation products after head injury. The data served as the basis and confirmation for our patent applications to protect the biomarker concept. Medicortex has completed a clinical proof-of-concept trial in collaboration with Turku University Hospital (Tyks). Samples from 12 TBI patients and 12 healthy volunteers were collected and analyzed for the presence and for the level of the biomarker in state-of-the-art laboratories. The study demonstrated the diagnostic potential of the new biomarker in humans and it confirmed the prior preclinical findings. This was a significant milestone for Medicortex. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Cleveland Clinic, Cognitive Issues, MRI, Occupational Health / 29.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Virendra Mishra, Ph.D. Department of Imaging Research Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Repetitive head trauma has been shown to be a risk factor for various neurodegenerative disorders, mood swings, depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. There has been a significant amount of research into identifying an imaging biomarker of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) due to repetitive head trauma. Unfortunately, most of the biomarkers have not been able to find a successful translation to clinics. Additionally, the quest for the mTBI imaging biomarker especially using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques has been done by looking at either the gray matter (T1-weighted) or the white matter (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) independently; and both have shown changes that are associated with repetitive head trauma. Hence in this study, we wanted to investigate if combining gray matter and white matter information enables us to better predict the fighters who are more vulnerable to cognitive decline due to repetitive head trauma. Our method found seven imaging biomarkers that when combined together in a multivariate sense were able to predict with greater than 73% accuracy those fighters who are vulnerable to cognitive decline both at baseline and follow-up. The imaging biomarkers were indeed a combination of gray and white matter measures of regions reported previously in the literature. A key point in our study was we found the regions predicting cognitive decline without enforcing any assumptions on the regions previously reported. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Mental Health Research, Opiods / 28.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andrea M. Tilstra Doctoral Student, Department of Sociology Population Program, Institute of Behavioral Science University of Colorado Boulder and Ryan K. Masters Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology Faculty Associate, Population Program and Health & Society Program Institute of Behavioral Science University of Colorado Boulder MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  “Despair” deaths – deaths from suicides, alcohol poisonings, and drug overdoses – have been a topic of interest in recent mortality research. For instance, existing findings suggest that mortality among white Americans has increased as a result of middle-aged whites experiencing elevated levels of despair and distress. These factors supposedly are driving white Americans to cope in unhealthy ways – excessive drinking, drug use, and suicides. However, there were two major problems with the existing research that supported this narrative. First, men and women were analyzed together, despite the knowledge that overall mortality levels and trends differ significantly by gender. Second, all three of the aforementioned causes of death were pooled together and analyzed as one group. This is highly problematic if deaths from suicides, alcohol use, and drug use are not, in fact, moving in conjunction with one another. We addressed these issues and expanded previous analyses by analyzing cause-specific death rates for men and women separately, for years 1980-2014, and decomposing the trends into period- and cohort- based analyses. We find that there are huge gender differences in U.S. white mortality rates and that trends in mortality from the three causes of death are quite distinct from one another. Recent increases in U.S. white mortality are largely driven by period-based increases in drug poisoning deaths and cohort-based increases in metabolic disease deaths. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Amy Kind, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor, Division of Geriatrics Director, Department of Medicine Health Services and Care Research Program University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Associate Director- Clinical Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) William S. Middleton Veteran’s Affairs Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Background: Dementia due to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) disproportionately impacts racial/ethnic minorities and the socioeconomically disadvantaged—populations often exposed to neighborhood disadvantage. Neighborhood disadvantage is associated with education, health behaviors and mortality. Health improves with moving to less disadvantaged neighborhoods (Ludwig, Science 2012). Although studies have linked neighborhood disadvantage to diseases like diabetes and cancer, little is known about its effect on development of dementia. Objective:  To examine the association between neighborhood disadvantage, baseline cognition, and CSF biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease among participants in the WRAP study, comprising a cohort of late-middle-aged adults enriched for parental family history of AD. Methods:  We created and validated neighborhood-level quantifications of socioeconomic contextual disadvantage for the full US—over 34 million Zip+4 codes—employing the latest American Community Survey and Census data. This metric--the Area Deprivation Index (ADI)--incorporates poverty, education, housing and employment indicators; predicts disparity-related health outcomes; and is employed by Maryland and Medicare through our provision. We used standard techniques to geocode all WRAP subjects with a documented address (N= 1479). WRAP participants were ranked into deciles of neighborhood disadvantage, by ADI. Baseline cognitive function (indexed by factor scores) and CSF biomarker outcomes for levels of Aβ42 and P-tau181 (n=153 with CSF samples) were examined by neighborhood disadvantage decile. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, General Medicine, JAMA / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jochen René Thyrian, PhD German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Greifswald, Germany MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Dementia presents a challenge to the health care systems worldwide. People with dementia (PWD) need comprehensive medical, nursing, psychological and social support to delay the progression of disease and sustain autonomy and social inclusion. Evidence-based interventions alleviate the burden of disease for PwD and their caregivers, as no curative treatment is currently available. Involving caregivers is important because they provide the largest proportion of care for PwD. General physicians in residency have been identified as the first point of contact for PwD and is thus a promising setting for identification, comprehensive needs assessment and initiating dementia-specific treatment and care. In this study we tested the effectiveness and safety of a model of collaborative care, Dementia Care Management (DCM) on patient-oriented outcomes in n=634 people screened positive for dementia in primary care. DCM is provided by specifically trained nurses, supported by a computerized intervention management system, in close cooperation with the treating physician at the people´s homes. Recommendations for improving treatment and care were based on a comprehensive needs assessment, discussed interprofessionally and their implementation monitored/ adjusted over the course of 6-12 months (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Mental Health Research / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Areti Smaragdi, PhD University of Southampton Southampton, UK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Conduct Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that involves severe antisocial behavior – symptoms of the condition include behaviors like physical fighting, pathological lying, and serious theft. The disorder affects around 5% of school-aged children and adolescents, and is up to three times more common in boys than girls. Because of this, very little research has focused on the possible brain basis of the disorder in girls. We used MRI scanning methods to measure the brain structure of 48 boys and 48 girls with Conduct Disorder (14-18 years old) and 52 boys and 52 girls without severe antisocial behavior. We found that boys and girls with Conduct Disorder had reduced thickness and more folding in the prefrontal cortex, an area at the front of the brain which is responsible for reward and punishment processing and helping us to control our emotions and impulses. In contrast, in some other areas such as the superior frontal gyrus, which is involved in short-term memory, boys and girls with Conduct Disorder showed structural changes in opposite directions (e.g., more versus less folding) compared with controls. This suggests that there are common abnormalities in brain structure in boys and girls with Conduct Disorder, but also some sex differences that might indicate that the causes of the disorder are partly different in boys and girls. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, JAMA, Pharmacology / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Ian Chi Kei Wong and Kenneth KC Man, Senior Research Assistant Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Science Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, LKS Faculty of Medicine The University of Hong Kong MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk of various mental health problems. Previous studies suggested that individuals with ADHD are having a higher chance of both attempted and completed suicide. Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant that is recommended for the treatment of ADHD. With the increasing usage of methylphenidate over the past decade, there are concerns about the safety of the medication, in particular, psychiatric adverse effects such as suicide attempt. The current study looked into over 25,000 patients aged 6 to 25 years in Hong Kong who were receiving methylphenidate in 2001 to 2015. Using the self-controlled case series design, in which the patients act as their own control, we found that the risk of suicide attempt was 6.5 fold higher during a 90-day period before methylphenidate was initiated, remained elevated 4-fold during the first 90 days of treatment, and returned to the normal level during ongoing treatment. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Obstructive Sleep Apnea / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: O. Michael Bubu, M.D., M.P.H., C.P.H Wheaton College MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are both chronic disease conditions that are highly prevalent, cause significant morbidity and mortality to those afflicted, and have an enormous socio-economic impact. Recent human and animal studies describe associations between Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). However, whether OSA accelerates longitudinal increases in amyloid (Aβ) burden in MCI patients is presently unclear.
  • In this study, we examined the effect of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) on longitudinal changes in brain amyloid deposition, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers including CSF beta-amyloid 42 peptide (Aβ-42), CSF TAU protein, CSF phosphorylated TAU protein (PTAU) in Cognitive Normal (CN), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and AD elderly. Brain amyloid (Aβ) burden, CSF Abeta42 and tau proteins are biomarkers (measurable substances whose presence are indicative) of AD-associated pathologic changes in the brain.
  • Data from 1639 subjects (516 CN, 798 MCI and 325 AD, mean ages = 74.4 ± 5.8; 73.4 ± 7.4 and 75.1 ± 7.8 respectively), in the Alzheimer’s disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database was used. OSA was self-reported and participants were labeled OSA positive, or OSA negative (mean ages = 72.3 ± 7.1; and 73.9 ± 7.3 respectively). Statistical analyses were conductedto examine whether OSA positive compared to OSA negative participants experienced significant differences in the rate of change of AD biomarkers over time (mean = 2.52 ± 0.51 years) in each group (CN, MCI and AD). Both OSA positives and negatives were similar in age, APOE e4 status, and history of cardiovascular disease. The final models controlled for sex, body mass index (BMI), and Continuous Pulmonary Airway Pressure (CPAP) use.
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Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, PLoS / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carla Aimé PhD Institute of Evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier France MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  In all human populations, regardless of environmental and socioeconomic conditions, menopause occurs in women well before the end of their expected lifespan. Conversely, extensive post-reproductive life-span is rare in other species; except in some cetaceans. Evolutionary theory predicts that menopause and extensive post-reproductive lifespan should emerge and persist in populations only if it is advantageous for gene transmission. Identifying this advantage is a long-standing issue, and some hypotheses has already been suggested by other researchers. However, testing these hypotheses about the emergence of menopause is difficult, in particular because menopause exists today in all human populations. It is thus not possible to measure in real life the evolutionary advantage related to menopause by comparing gene transmission of women who stop reproduction and women who don't stop reproduction. Here, we used computer simulations to overcome this difficulty by modeling the emergence of menopause in simulated human populations. The main finding were the following : - Physiological constraints are not required for menopause to emerge. - The increasing cost of reproduction with age cannot explain menopause. - Grandmothering is part of the process leading to menopause : stopping reproduction allow reallocating resources to existing children and grand-children, thus leading to increase gene transmission via increased fertility of children and survival of grand children - Cognitive resources are also important. Indeed, cognitive abilities allow accumulation of skills and experience over the lifespan, thus providing an advantage for resource acquisition. These surplus resources can then be used to increase the number of offspring or be transmitted to existing offspring and grandoffspring. Stopping reproduction during aging allows allocating more resources to assist offspring and grandoffspring, thus increasing children’s fertility and grandchildren’s survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Robert J. Ursano, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress Dept of Psychiatry Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Bethesda, MD  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study is part of the STARRS study- a study to identify risk and protective factors for suicide in US Army. Originally funded by NIMH it is not funded by DoD. It has been called the "Framingham study" for suicide and has been highly productive. In this study we report that units with one suicide attempt are at increased risk of a second- indicating clustering of suicide attempts. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 26.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Olav B. Smeland MD PhD Postdoctoral researcher SFF NORMENT, KG Jepsen 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: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder associated with widespread cognitive impairments. The cognitive deficits are associated with disabilities in social, economic and occupational functioning and lower quality of life among individuals with schizophrenia. Despite this, current treatment strategies largely fail to ameliorate these cognitive impairments. To develop more efficient treatment strategies in schizophrenia, a better understanding of the disease mechanisms underlying cognitive deficits is needed. For a long time we have known that schizophrenia is heritable, and in recent years many schizophrenia risk genes have been identified. Moreover, several studies have indicated that genetic risk of schizophrenia may contribute to cognitive dysfunction. In this study, we aimed to identify schizophrenia risk genes that also influence cognitive function. In a large international collaboration of researchers, we combined genome-wide association studies on schizophrenia and the cognitive traits of verbal-numerical reasoning, reaction time and general cognitive function. In total, we analyzed genetic data from more than 250.000 participants. We were able to identify 21 genetic variants shared between schizophrenia and cognitive traits. For 18 of these genetic variants, schizophrenia risk was associated with poorer cognitive performance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Exercise - Fitness, JAMA / 25.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel H. Daneshvar, M.D., Ph.D. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center Team Up Against Concussions | Founder Boston University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive head impacts. CTE was first described in JAMA in 1928. In the 99 years since, just over 100 cases of CTE have been described in the world’s literature. This study nearly doubles the number of reported cases of CTE, with 177 cases of CTE in football players. Of note, 110 of the 111 athletes who played in the NFL had CTE. This study represents the largest and the most methodologically rigorous description of a series of patients with CTE ever published. Such a richness of data regarding the clinical and pathological features of CTE has never been previously compiled. As such, this study represents an important advance to the medical literature and an enormous scientific advance in our understanding of  chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Columbia, Nutrition / 24.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yian Gu, PhD Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology (in Neurology and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain) Columbia University Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have previously shown that elderly individuals who consume healthier diet (certain foods, nutrients, and dietary patterns) have larger brain volume, better cognition, and lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The current study aimed to examine the biological mechanisms for the relationship between diet and brain/cognitive health (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Lifestyle & Health / 20.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Keith A. Wesnes BSc PhD FSS CPsychol FBPsS Head Honcho, Wesnes Cognition Ltd Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Medical School, University of Exeter, UK Visiting Professor, Department of Psychology Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK Adjunct Professor, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia Visiting Professor, Medicinal Plant Research Group Newcastle University, UK Wesnes Cognition Ltd, Little Paddock, Streatley Hill, Streatley on Thames UK  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This data we reported were taken from the PROTECT study, a 10-year research programme being conducted jointly by Kings College London and the University of Exeter Medical School. It started in November 2015 and over 20,000 individuals aged 50 to 96 years have enrolled. A highly novel feature of the study is that it is run entirely remotely, the participants logging on via the internet at home and providing demographic and life style information, and also performing online cognitive tasks of key aspects of cognitive function. The tasks are from two well-validated systems, CogTrack and the PROTECT test system, and assess major aspects of cognitive function including focused and sustained attention, information processing, reasoning and a range of aspects of memory. One of the lifestyle questions was ‘How frequently do you engage in word puzzles, e.g. crosswords?’ and the 6 possible answers were: never; occasionally; monthly; weekly; daily; more than once per day. We analysed the cognitive data from 17,677 individuals who had answered the question, and found that the more often the participants reported engaging in such puzzles, the better their cognitive function on each of the 9 cognitive tasks they performed. The group who never performed such puzzles were poorest on all measures, and the improvements were mostly incremental as the frequency of use increased. The findings were highly statistically reliable, and we controlled for factors including age, gender and education. To evaluate the magnitudes of these benefits, we calculated the average decline over the age-range on the various tasks in the study population. The average difference between those who ‘never’ did puzzles to those who did so ‘more than once a day’ was equivalent to 11 years of ageing; and between those who never did puzzles and all those who did was 8 years. (more…)