Sex Differences In Brain Structure of Boys and Girls With Conduct Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Areti Smaragdi, PhD University of Southampton Southampton, UK

Dr. Smaragdi

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.

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Risk of Suicide Attempts With Methylphenidate Treatment for ADHD

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.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea May Accelerate Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

O. Michael Bubu, M.D., M.P.H., C.P.H Wheaton College

Dr. Bubu

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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Menopause Facilitates Transmission of Cognitive Resources To Grandchildren

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Grandmother” by Joe Shlabotnik is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Grandmother” by Joe Shlabotnik

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.

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Military Units With One Suicide Attempt At Greater Risk of Additional Attempts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Robert J. Ursano, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) Dept of Psychiatry Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences   Bethesda, MD

Dr. Ursano

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.

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Genetic Risk of Schizophrenia May Contribute to Cognitive Dysfunction

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

Dr. Smeland

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.

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Found In Brains of Nearly All NFL Players Examined

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel H. Daneshvar, M.D., Ph.D. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center Team Up Against Concussions | Founder Boston University

Dr. Daneshvar

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.

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Diet Rich in Anti-Inflammatory Foods May Help Preserve Brain Function

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

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Daily Crossword Puzzles May Help Sustain Brain Function As We Age

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

Prof. Wesnes

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.

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Higher Cost Sharing For Mental Health Services Could Increase Downstream Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bastian Ravesteijn PhD Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School

Dr. Ravesteijn

Bastian Ravesteijn PhD
Department of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School 

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

Response: We find that higher out-of-pocket costs for mental health care could have the unintended consequence of increasing the use of acute and involuntary mental health care among those suffering from the most debilitating disorders. Continue reading

Patients and Providers Feel Amyloid PET Scanning Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease Beneficial

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Liana Apostolova, MD, MSc, FAAN Barbara and Peer Baekgaard Professor  in Alzheimer's Disease Research Professor in Neurology, Radiology. Medical and Molecular Genetics Indiana University School of Medicine Indiana Alzheimer's Disease Center Indianapolis, IN 46202

Dr. Apostolova

Liana Apostolova, MD, MSc, FAAN
Barbara and Peer Baekgaard Professor  in Alzheimer’s Disease Research
Professor in Neurology, Radiology. Medical and Molecular Genetics
Indiana University School of Medicine
Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Center
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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

Response: While many studies have evaluated the diagnostic or prognostic implications associated with amyloid PET, few have explored its effects on the patient or caregiver. Amyloid imaging does not only help clinicians with their diagnosis and management. It also affects patient and caregiver decisions related to lifestyle, financial and long-term care planning, and at times also employment. Few studies to date have explored patient and caregiver views on the clinical use of amyloid PET and the potential benefits they could derive from having more precise diagnosis.

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Paper and Digital SAGE Brain Tests Equally Identify Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Douglas W. Scharre MD Professor of Clinical Neurology and Psychiatry Director Division of Cognitive Neurology, Department of Neurology  Director, Center for Cognitive and Memory Disorders Director, Memory Disorders Research Center Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Institute Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center  Columbus, OH

Dr. Douglas Scharre

Douglas W. Scharre MD
Professor of Clinical Neurology and Psychiatry Director, Division of Cognitive Neurology
Department of Neurology
Director, Center for Cognitive and Memory Disorders
Director, Memory Disorders Research Center
Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Institute
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Columbus, OH

 

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

Response: Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) is a pen-and paper, valid and reliable cognitive assessment tool for identifying individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early dementia. We published age and education normative data on SAGE and determined that one point be added to the scores when age over 79 and one point be added when education level is 12 years or less. We evaluated the identical test questions in digital format (eSAGE) made for tablet use, adjusted with previously published age and education norms, and determined eSAGE’s association with gold standard clinical assessments. eSAGE is commercially known as BrainTest.

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Study Finds Diet Not Connected to GI Problems in Children With Autism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bradley James Ferguson, PhD University of Missouri School of Medicine

Dr. Ferguson

Bradley James Ferguson, PhD
University of Missouri School of Medicine 

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

Response: Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain, but the cause of these GI issues is not currently known. Previous research from our laboratory showed a significant positive relationship between cortisol levels and GI problems, especially for constipation. However, it is possible that other factors such as diet may affect GI functioning, especially since many children have altered diets. This study examined 32 different nutrients in the children’s diets, as assessed by a food frequency questionnaire that assessed the participant’s diet over the past month, and how each nutrient was related to upper and lower GI tract symptom scores over the past month created from the Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms – Rome III. The results showed no significant relationships between any of the nutrients and GI symptoms, suggesting that diet was not associated with GI symptoms in this sample.

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Brain Imaging Confirms Boys and Girls Experience Depression Differently

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jie-Yu Chuang PhD Department of Psychiatry University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom

Dr. Jie-Yu Chuang

Jie-Yu Chuang PhD
Department of Psychiatry
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom 

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

Response: Men and women appear to suffer from depression differently, and this is particularly striking in adolescents. By 15 years of age, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys. There are various possible reasons for this, including body image issues, hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors, where girls are more at risk of inheriting depression. However, differences between the sexes don’t just involve the risk of experiencing depression. Men are more liable to suffer from persistent depression, whereas in women depression tends to be more episodic. Compared with women, depressed men are also more likely to suffer serious consequences from their depression, such as substance abuse and suicide. Despite this, so far, most researchers have focused on depression in women, likely because it is more common. As a result, we’d like to make people more aware of the sex difference issue in depression.

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An Ultra-Early Inflammatory Biomarker of Traumatic Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Lisa J Hill PhD Institute of Inflammation and Ageing Research Fellow Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Institute of Inflammation and Ageing College of Medical and Dental Sciences University of Birmingham UK

Dr. Hill

Dr Lisa J Hill PhD
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Research Fellow
Neuroscience and Ophthalmology
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham UK 

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

Response: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability among young adults and, according to the World Health Organization, by 2020 TBI will become the world’s leading cause of neurological disability across all age groups.  Early and correct diagnosis of traumatic brain injury is one of the most challenging aspects faced by clinicians. Being able to detect compounds in the blood that help to determine how severe the brain injury is would be of great benefit to patients and aid in their treatment.  Inflammatory markers are particularly suited for biomarker discovery as TBI leads to very early alterations in inflammatory proteins.  The discovery of reliable biomarkers for the management of TBI would improve clinical interventions.

We collected blood samples from 30 injured patients within the first hour of injury prior to the patient arriving at hospital and analysed them. Analysis of protein biomarkers from blood taken within the first hour of injury has never been carried out until now. We used a panel of 92 inflammation-associated human proteins when analysing the blood samples. The analysis identified three inflammatory proteins, known as CST5AXIN1 and TRAIL, as novel biomarkers of TBI.

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Study Helps Explains Why Dopamine Drugs Not Effective For Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Robb B. Rutledge, PhD Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry  and Ageing Research University College London London, England

Dr. Rutledge

Robb B. Rutledge, PhD
Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry
and Ageing Research
University College London
London, England

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

Response: Depression is associated with deficits in how the brain responds to rewards, something the neurotransmitter dopamine is strongly implicated in.

Dopamine represents what is called a reward prediction error, the difference between experienced and predicted reward. This error signal is used for learning. For example, if the outcome of a decision is better than expected, you can update your expectations using this error signal and you should expect more next time. Previous research has shown that depression reduces these signals in the brain when people are learning about the world around them. We designed a task where participants did not have to learn anything during the experiment and we found that in this situation reward prediction error signals were not affected by depression. The signals we measured in the ventral striatum, a brain area with a lot of input from the dopamine neurons, looked the same in depressed and non-depressed individuals. We also found that the emotional impacts of reward prediction errors were similar in depressed and non-depressed individuals when we eliminated the need for learning during the task in both the lab and using a smartphone experiment with 1833 participants.

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Long Term Memories Can Be Selectively Erased

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Samuel Schacher, PhD and
Jiangyuan Hu, PhD,
Department of Neuroscience
Columbia University Medical Cente
New York State Psychiatric Institute
New York, NY 10032, USA

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

Response: It is well established that learning and memory requires changes in the properties of specific neural circuits in the brain activated by the experience. The long-term storage of the memory is encoded through changes in the function of the synapses within the circuit. Synapses are sites of communication between neurons, and the changes in their function come in two varieties: increases in strength and decreases in strength. The encoding of memories typically requires some combination of these synaptic changes, synaptic plasticity, which can last a long time to contribute to long-term memory. Thus the maintenance of a memory will require the persistent change (long-term synaptic memory) in the function of specific synapses.

But memories come in different flavors. In the original experiment by Pavlov, a neutral tone, which dogs ignore, came to predict the immediate appearance of a meal. After several of these pairings, the dogs would become happily excited just with the tone. The same type of conditioning could have a negative valence – the tone could proceed a shock to one of the dog’s paw. Now the neutral tone would predict a negative stimulus and the dog would express fearful behavior just with the tone (associative learning). A non-associative form of memory would be the same types of stimuli but without the preceding neutral stimulus. At random times the animal will be given a meal or a shock. The behavior of the animal for some time will take on the positive or negative features of its environment – a contented versus depressed condition.

Each of these forms of long-term memory would be maintained by increases in the strength of specific synapses.

The questions addressed in our study published in Current Biology, based on previous work in my lab and the lab of my colleague Wayne Sossin at McGill, were:

1) Do the same molecules maintain increases in synaptic strength in the neurons of the circuit after stimuli that produce long-term classical conditioning (associative learning) and long-term sensitization (non-associative learning)?
2) If different molecules maintain the different synaptic memories, is it possible to reverse or erase the different synaptic memories by interfering with the function of the different molecules?
3) If true, can we reverse the different synaptic memories expressed in the same neuron by interfering with the function of the different molecules.

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Study Finds Link Between Genetic Variant, Opioid Addiction and Binge Eating

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Camron D. Bryant Ph.D Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Department of Psychiatry Boston University, Boston, MA

Dr. Bryant

Camron D. Bryant Ph.D
Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Department of Psychiatry
Boston University, Boston, MA

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

Response: We previously used genome-wide linkage analysis, fine mapping, gene validation, and pharmacological targeting to identify a negative regulatory role for the gene casein kinase 1-epsilon (Csnk1e) in behavioral sensitivity to drugs of abuse, including psychostimulants and opioids.

Parallel human candidate genetic association studies identified an association between multiple genetic variants in CSNK1E with heroin addiction in multiple populations. Drug addiction is a multi-stage process that begins with the initial acute subjective and physiological responses that can progress to chronic administration, tolerance, and withdrawal. The recovery process begins with abstinence from drug taking but can quickly be derailed by relapse to drug taking behavior. Preclinical pharmacological studies also support a role for CSNK1E in reinstatement of opioid self-administration and relapse to alcohol drinking.

Despite the evidence that disruption of Csnk1e gene and protein function can affect various behaviors associated with drug and alcohol addiction, it is unclear what stage of the addiction process these genetic and pharmacological manipulations modulate. In this study, we show that disruption of the Csnk1e gene resulted in an enhancement of the rewarding properties of the highly potent and addictive opioid, fentanyl.  Unexpectedly, we also discovered that disruption of Csnk1e also enhanced binge eating – but only in female mice.

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Gene Linked To Decreased Plasma Amyloid and Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mikko Hiltunen, PhD Professor of Tissue and Cell Biology University of Eastern Finland School of Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine Kuopio,  Finland

Dr. Hiltunen

Mikko Hiltunen, PhD
Professor of Tissue and Cell Biology
University of Eastern Finland
School of Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine
Kuopio,  Finland 

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

Response:  We wanted to assess among the population-based METSIM (METabolic Syndrome In Men) cohort whether protective variant in APP gene (APP A673T) affects the beta-amyloid levels in plasma. The rationale behind this was that previous genetic studies have discovered that the APP A673T variant decreases the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

However, the protective functional outcome measures related to this variant were lacking and thus we anticipated that the elucidation of plasma samples in terms of beta-amyloid levels would provide the much needed link between APP A673T variant and potential protective functions.

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Brexanolone Shows Promise in PostPartum Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Faculty Development Director, Perinatal Psychiatry Program Director, Taking Care of Our Own Program Department of Psychiatry Chapel Hill, NC 2759

Dr. Meltzer-Brody

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH
Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Faculty Development
Director, Perinatal Psychiatry Program
Director, Taking Care of Our Own Program
Department of Psychiatry
Chapel Hill, NC 2759 

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

Response: The Lancet published results from a randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2 clinical trial with the investigational medication, brexanolone, for women with severe postpartum depression (PPD). During the study, which was conducted at multiple sites across the country, physician researchers administered brexanolone in 21 women, 10 of whom were administered a 60-hour infusion of brexanolone. The other 11 women were given a placebo. Results from the trial showed that 70 percent of participants who received the drug saw remission of their PPD symptoms within 60 hours of treatment, an effect that was maintained until the 30-day follow up.

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New Simultaneous Antidepressant and Benzodiazepine Use Relatively Common

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Greta A Bushnell, MSPH Doctoral Candidate, Department of Epidemiology UNC, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Greta Bushnell

Greta A Bushnell, MSPH
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Epidemiology
UNC, Gillings School of Global Public Health

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

Response: Patients with depression may be co-prescribed a benzodiazepine at antidepressant initiation for a short period for a variety of reasons. Reasons include reducing concurrent anxiety and insomnia, reducing depression severity more quickly, and improved antidepressant continuation. However, there are concerns with benzodiazepines including dependency. As such, benzodiazepines are usually recommended for only short-term treatment.

Prior to our study, little was known about a) how often new simultaneous antidepressant and benzodiazepine prescribing occurred among patients initiating antidepressant treatment for depression or b) whether new simultaneous users became long-term benzodiazepine users.

In a large commercial insurance database, we identified adults aged 18-64 years with depression who initiated an antidepressant from 2001 to 2014. We found that 11% of adults simultaneously initiated benzodiazepine treatment, which increased from 6% in 2001 to a peak at 12% in 2012. We observed similar antidepressant treatment length at six months in simultaneous new users and among patients initiating antidepressants only. The majority of simultaneous new users had only one benzodiazepine prescription fill before benzodiazepine discontinuation; however, 12% were identified as long-term benzodiazepine users.

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MRI At Six Months Can Predict Which High Risk Babies Will Develop Autism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joseph Piven, MD The Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry UNC School of Medicine Director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities Co-senior author of the study

Dr. Piven

Joseph Piven, MD
The Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry
UNC School of Medicine
Director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities
Co-senior author of the study

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

Response: Babies with older siblings with autism are at an increased risk (20%) of getting autism over the general population (1%).  Infants who later are diagnosed with autism don’t have any of the stigmata of autism in the first year of life. The symptoms of autism unfold in the first and particularly in the second year of life and beyond.

We have evidence to support the idea that behavioral symptoms of autism arise from changes in the brain that occur very early in life. So we have employed MRI and computer analyses to study those early brain changes and abnormalities in infancy to see if early brain changes at 6 months of age can predict whether babies at high-risk of developing autism will indeed develop the condition at age two.

For this particular study, we used data from MRIs of six-month olds to show the pattern of synchronization or connection across brain regions throughout the brain and then predict which babies at high familial risk of developing autism would be most likely to be diagnosed with the condition at age two.

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Functional Brain Markers Can Suggest Susceptibility to PTSD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jennifer Stevens, PhD Director, Neuroscience of Memory, Emotion, and Stress Laboratory Instructor, Dept of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Stevens

Jennifer Stevens, PhD
Director, Neuroscience of Memory, Emotion, and Stress Laboratory
Instructor, Dept of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Emory University School of Medicine

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

Response: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was once thought to be a disorder of combat veterans, however, we now know that more than 60% of Americans experience a traumatic event during their lifetimes, and that this can have negative consequences for mental and physical health. Many people recover from the psychological effects of trauma without any intervention, but a significant proportion have long-lasting debilitating symptoms.

Supported by the NIH, the cutting edge of PTSD research includes new strategies for preventing the disease, rather than treating PTSD after patients have been living with symptoms for months to years. In order to prevent the disease, it is critical that we are able to quickly identify people who will be at risk for the disease following a trauma, so that preventive strategies can be deployed bedside in the emergency room or in the battlefield. In the current study, we used functional MRI to predict which individuals would recover from trauma, and which individuals would have long-lasting symptoms of PTSD.

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Long-acting Injectable Medications Reduce Relapse and Rehospitalizations in Schizophrenia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jari Tiihonen, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden

Prof. Tiihonen

Jari Tiihonen, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the limitations of existing analyses of the comparative effectiveness of antipsychotics?

Response: It has remained unclear if there are clinically meaningful differences between antipsychotic treatments in relapse prevention of schizophrenia, due to the impossibility of including large unselected patient populations in randomized controlled trials, and due to residual confounding from selection biases in observational studies.

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Pain and Depression in ESRD- End Stage Renal Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kathy Aebel-Groesch, MSW,LCSW
Manager, Social Work Services
DaVita Inc.

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

Response: Chronic pain and depression can impact quality of life and adherence to treatment regimen among patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Previous research has demonstrated that patients with ESRD experience pain and depression more frequently than the general population. From 2016, CMS has required that all eligible ESRD patients are evaluated regularly for pain and depressive symptoms.

We assessed pain and depression symptom scores among patients of a large dialysis organization (LDO) over the period Mar-Oct 2016. Pain was assessed monthly by LDO nurses using the Wong-Baker pain scale (0-10). Depression screenings were conducted biannually by LDO social workers using the PHQ-2 (scale 0-6) and excluded patients with existing diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder, cognitive impairment or language barrier, and those who were hospitalized or refused screening.

A total of 688,346 pain responses from 160,626 individual patients and 223,421 depression screening responses from 158,172 patients were considered. A score of 0 (no pain) was reported for 83.5% of pain responses and 65.7% of patients had a 0 score in all pain assessments. A score of 10 (most severe pain) was reported at least once during the study period by 3.0% of patients. Patients with a pain score of 10 were more frequently female (55%) and patients on peritoneal dialysis were less likely to have a pain score of 10 than those on other modalities. A depression score of 0 (patient answered “Not at all” to both “Little interest or pleasure in doing things” and “Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless”) was reported for 69.1% of all responses and 62.6% of patients had a 0 score in all assessments; 1.8% of patients had at least one score of 6 (patient responded “Nearly every day” to both questions) and 9.7% had at least one score of 3 or more. Patients with a score of 0 were more likely to be male vs. female, HHD vs. PD or ICHD, ≥ age 70 years.

The majority of ESRD patients did not report pain symptoms and, among those not excluded from screening due to an existing diagnosis of depression or other reason, the majority did not report symptoms of depression. However, routine assessment of pain and depression enables the timely identification of new or increased symptoms, thus allowing earlier implementation of interventions that may improve patient experience. The LDO has since revised its depression screening policy to remove diagnosis of depression from exclusion criteria and to administer the PHQ-9 to patients with a PHQ-2 score ≥ 3.

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Moderate Drinking Linked To Faster Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Anya Topiwala, BA (Hons) BMBCh (Oxon) MRCPsych DPhil Clinical lecturer Department of Psychiatry University of Oxford

Dr. Topiwala

Dr. Anya Topiwala, BA (Hons) BMBCh (Oxon) MRCPsych DPhil
Clinical lecturer
Department of Psychiatry
University of Oxford

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

Response: I thought the question of whether moderate alcohol consumption is harmful or protective to the brain was a really interesting and important one, particularly because so many people drink this amount. There were a few studies reporting that a little alcohol may protect against dementia or cognitive decline, but the few brain imaging studies were conflicting in their results and had methodological limitations.

We examined whether alcohol consumption over a 30-year period was associated with brain imaging and memory decline in a group of 550 non-alcohol dependent individuals from the remarkable Whitehall II cohort. Subjects completed questionnaires and had clinical examinations approximately every 5 years over the 30 years of the study, and had detailed brain scans at the end.

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Gender Minorities More Likely To Report Physical and Mental Health Challenges

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carl G Streed Jr. M.D. Pronouns: he, him, his, himself Fellow, Division General Internal Medicine & Primary Care Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Dr. Streed

Carl G Streed Jr. M.D.
Pronouns: he, him, his, himself
Fellow, Division General Internal Medicine & Primary Care 
Brigham & Women’s Hospital

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

Response: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has underscored the need to better understand the health of gender minorities, including transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Prior investigations of gender minorities are limited by the lack of national gender identity data. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a gender identity question for the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS); states had the option to administer this module beginning 2014. Our study aims to examine the health status of gender minorities in the US compared to cisgender peers.

Compared to cisgender adults, gender minority adults are younger, less likely to be non-Hispanic white, married or living with a partner, have a minor child in the household, or be English speaking; but are more likely to have lower income, be unemployed, be uninsured, have unmet medical care due to cost, be overweight, and report depression.

Gender minority adults, compared to cisgender adults, are more likely to report: poor or fair health; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; and being limited in any way. These outcomes remained significant after adjustment.

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Baby Teeth Can Expose Toxic Levels of Minerals Associated With Autism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Manish Arora, PhD Associate Professor Environmental Medicine & Public Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Arora

Manish Arora, PhD
Associate Professor
Environmental Medicine & Public Health
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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

Response: Autism has both genetic and environmental risk factors. Our aim was to study if exposure to toxic metals, such as lead, or disruptions in the uptake of essential nutrient elements such as manganese or zinc would be related to autism risk. Furthermore, we were interested in not only understanding how much exposure had taken place but also which developmental periods were associated with increased susceptibility to autism risk.

Researchers suspect that the risk factors for autism start early in life, even prenatally, but measuring in utero exposures is technically very challenging. We used a newly developed technique that uses lasers to map growth rings in baby teeth (like growth rings in trees) to reconstruct the history of toxic metal and essential nutrient uptake. We applied this technology in samples collected from twins, including twins who were discordant for autism. This allowed us to have some control over genetic factors.

We found that twins with autism had higher levels of lead in their teeth compared to their unaffected twin siblings. They also had lower levels of zinc and manganese. The lower uptake of zinc was restricted to approximately 10 weeks before birth to a few weeks after birth, indicating that as a critical developmental period.

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Acupuncture Therapy and Incidence of Depression After Stroke

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chung-Yen Lu, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Sport and Health Management, Da-Yeh University, Changhua, Taiwan; Department of Chinese Medicine, Taipei Hospital, Ministry of Health and Welfare,
New Taipei, Taiwan 

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

Response: Post-stroke depression is a common mood complication of patients with stroke and may deteriorate motor function and cognitive function. Acupuncture therapy is an alternative and supplementary medical care often used worldwide. Previous studies have reported that acupuncture therapy for post-stroke depression may involve multiple therapeuticeffects including treating neurological disorders and physical disabilities following stroke, which are predictors of post-stroke depression. However, population-based evaluations on the association between acupuncture treatment and prevention of post-stroke depression are rare.  Continue reading

Microvascular Disease Linked To Late-Life Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Miranda T. Schram PhD Associate professor Department of Medicine Maastrich

Dr. Schram

Miranda T. Schram PhD
Associate professor
Department of Medicine
Maastrich

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

Response: Late-life depression, also called vascular depression, is highly prevalent, recurrent and difficult to treat. Anti-depressants only relieve symptoms in about 50% of the patients. So we urgently need new treatment targets for this disease.

In this study we found that microvascular dysfunction, irrespective if you measure this by biomarkers in the blood or in the brain, is associated with an increased risk for depression. Moreover, we found evidence from longitudinal studies that microvascular dysfunction, at least of the brain, may actually be a cause of depression. To investigate this, we undertook a meta-analyses of data from over 40,000 individuals of whom over 9,000 had a depression.

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Microbiome Regulates Fear Response via the Amygdala

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Gerard Clarke PhD APC Microbiome Institute Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Dr. Clarke

Dr. Gerard Clarke PhD
APC Microbiome Institute
Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science
University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

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

Response: Over the last decade or so, we and others have shown that the gut microbiome exerts a broad influence on the central nervous system, reflected in a range of abnormal behaviours and altered brain function in germ-free animals. These germ-free animals grow up in a sterile bubble and allow us to see what aspects of brain and behaviour could be under the influence of the microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tract.

One of the most consistent findings to emerge relates to anxiety-like behaviours.

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Suicide Rates After Discharge From Psychiatric Facilities Surprisingly High

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael Large, BSc, MBBS, FRANZCP, DMedSci
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, 
The Prince of Wales Hospitals, Randwick
New South Wales, Australia

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

Response: It has been increasingly recognized that recently discharged patients have an increased suicide risk. We synthesized the global research over the last half century finding a dramatically elevated suicide rate in the months post discharge and a surprisingly high and enduring rate over much longer periods.

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LATUDA Phase 3 Study Demonstrates Improvement in Pediatric and Adolescent Bipolar Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Antony Loebel, M.D. Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Sunovion, Head of Global Clinical Development Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Group

Dr. Loebel

Antony Loebel, M.D.
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer
Sunovion, Head of Global Clinical Development
Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Group

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

In the six-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 347 children and adolescents (10 to 17 years of age) with bipolar depression received once-daily LATUDA flexibly dosed (20-80 mg/day) or placebo.The Phase 3 clinical study met its primary endpoint, showing statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in symptoms compared to placebo. LATUDA was generally well tolerated, with minimal effects on weight and metabolic parameters.

The primary efficacy endpoint was change from baseline to week 6 on the Children Depression Rating Scale, Revised (CDRS-R) total score. LATUDA was associated with statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in bipolar depression symptoms compared to placebo, based on CDRS-R total score (-21.0 vs. -15.3; effect size = 0.45; p<0.0001) and CGI-BP-S score for depression (-1.49 vs. -1.05; effect size = 0.44; p<0.001).

LATUDA also demonstrated statistically significant improvement on secondary efficacy endpoints.

The most common treatment-emergent adverse events reported for LATUDA compared to placebo were nausea (16% vs. 5.8%), somnolence (9.1% vs. 4.7%), weight gain (6.9% vs. 1.7%), vomiting (6.3% vs. 3.5%), dizziness (5.7% vs. 4.7%) and insomnia (5.1% vs. 2.3%). LATUDA was associated with no increases in fasting glucose or lipids, and minimal increase in mean weight vs. placebo (+0.74 kg vs. +0.44 kg).

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Gene Dosage at 22q11.2 Helps Determine Schizophrenia vs Autism Brain Differences

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carrie Bearden, Ph.D. Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Bearden

Carrie Bearden, Ph.D.
Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
University of California, Los Angeles

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

Response: A 22q11.2 deletion confers the highest known genetic risk for schizophrenia, but a duplication in the same region is strongly associated with autism and is less common in schizophrenia cases than in the general population.

Thus, we became interested in trying to understand whether there were differences in brain development that might predispose to one condition vs. the other.

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Adolescents Admitted For Self Harm At Risk For Further Self Harming Behavior

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Annie Herbert, PhD Department of Behavioural Science and Health, Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare University College London London  UK

Dr. Herbert

Dr Annie Herbert, PhD
Department of Behavioural Science and Health, Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare
University College London
London  UK 

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

Response: 1 in 25 adolescents (i.e. one in every classroom) will be admitted to hospital as an emergency with injuries related self-harm, drug or alcohol misuse, or violence. Currently, the guidelines for how these adolescents are managed differ greatly depending on the type of injury they come in with (whether through self-harm, drug or alcohol misuse, or violence).

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In our study, we found that adolescents admitted with any of these injuries were at an increased risk of suicide and of drug or alcohol related death in the ten years after leaving hospital, compared to other admitted adolescents.While the overall risk is relatively low—for example, 2–3 girls out of 1000 and 7 boys out of 1000 who are admitted as an emergency to hospital with drug or alcohol related injuries die from suicide within 10 years—the rates are 5–6 times higher than among adolescents admitted to hospital following an accident.

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Could a Strep Throat Increase Risk of OCD?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sonja Orlovska MD, PhD student

Mental Health Centre Copenhagen
Denmark

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

Response: This Danish register-based study is the largest study so far investigating the hypothesis PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections) which describes a possible link between streptococcal throat infection and the subsequent development of OCD and tic disorders in children. PANDAS is in thread with research in mental health in recent years, suggesting that infections and immune activation might increase the risk of mental disorders.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Out of the 1,1 million individuals <18 years of age born in the study period, we found that the 349,982 individuals tested positive for a streptococcal throat infection by their GP had an increased risk of mental disorders by 18% and the risk of specifically OCD and tic disorders was increased with respectively 51% and 35%, compared to individuals who had never been tested. This seems to confirm PANDAS which speaks in favor of a specific link between strep throat and the development of OCD and tic disorders. However, we also found that non-streptococcal throat infection increased the risk of mental disorders, even though the risk of OCD and all mental disorders was larger after a strep throat. The study was performed at the Mental Health Centre Copenhagen together with Senior researcher Michael Eriksen Benros.

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

Response: Our results indicate that the brain might be affected by the immunological activation caused by a streptococcal infection possibly due to streptococcal antibodies cross-reacting with brain tissue causing psychiatric symptoms which is the theory of PANDAS. However, it seems as if the immunological response caused by other types of throat infections might also have a damaging effect in some individuals. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that the results to some extent might be driven by a medical care-seeking behavior in some parents bringing their child to the GP more often in spite of only few symptoms of throat infection leading to testing for strep throat and also more frequent examination and diagnosis by a psychiatrist.

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

Response: Even though our study supports some elements of the PANDAS hypothesis, more research is needed to fully confirm PANDAS. The research field would benefit from larger clinical studies following children with PANDAS over a longer period of time with frequent follow-ups in order to establish if streptococcal throat infections cause and worsen neuropsychiatric symptoms of OCD and tic disorders.

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

Citation:

Orlovska S, Vestergaard CH, Bech BH, Nordentoft M, Vestergaard M, Benros ME. Association of Streptococcal Throat Infection With Mental DisordersTesting Key Aspects of the PANDAS Hypothesis in a Nationwide Study. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 24, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0995

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

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Metformin Reverses Some Autism Symptoms In Animal Model

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ilse Gantois, PhD

Research Associate
Dr. Nahum Sonenberg’s laboratory
Department of Biochemistry
McGill University

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

Response: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by cognitive impairment and affects 1 in 4000 males and 1 in 6000 females. About 60% of persons with Fragile X also have autism spectrum disorder. FXS is caused by absence of Fragile X protein (FMRP), which results in hyperactivation of ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) and mTORC1 (mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1) signaling. We show that treatment with metformin, the most widely used FDA-approved antidiabetic drug, suppresses translation by inhibiting the ERK pathway, and alleviates a variety of behavioural deficits, including impaired social interaction and excessive grooming. In addition, metformin also reversed defects in dendritic spine morphogenesis and synaptic transmission.
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Familial History Improves Predictive Value of TOMM40 Gene in Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Auriel Willette, M.S., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Psychology Iowa State University

Dr. Willette

Auriel Willette, M.S., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Psychology
Iowa State University

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

Response: Translocase of Outer Mitochondrial Membrane 40 (TOMM40) is a gene that regulates the width of the outer mitochondrial pore, facilitating the transport of ribosomal pre-proteins into the inner mitochondrial matrix for translational modification into functional proteins. In 2010, Dr. Allen Roses, who discovered the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, Dr. Michael Lutz, and other colleagues found that a variation in poly-T length at locus rs10524523 (‘523) within intron 6 predicted Alzheimer’s disease onset. Specifically, a “long” versus “short” poly-T length was related to earlier age of onset by 8 years.

However, several multi-cohort studies either failed to replicate the findings or found the opposite relationship, where a “long” or “very long” poly-T length was related to later age of onset. The literature has remained mixed to this day.

We were interested in testing factors that might change the relationship between TOMM40 and both cognitive decline and risk for having Alzheimer’s disease. It is known that a family history (FH) of Alzheimer’s disease has been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. We reasoned, then, that FH may interact with TOMM40 to modulate how it was related to our outcomes of interest. We investigated this hypothesis in two separate cohorts: the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), a late middle-aged cohort, and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a well-characterized sample of aged participants from across the Alzheimer’s spectrum.

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How and Where Does the Brain Encode Fearful Memories

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jun-Hyeong Cho, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Cell Biology & Neuroscience University of California, Riverside Riverside, CA 92521

Dr. Jun-Hyeong Cho

Jun-Hyeong Cho, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Cell Biology & Neuroscience
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521

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

Response: In order to survive in a dynamic environment, animals develop adaptive fear responses to dangerous situations, which requires coordinated neural activity in the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and amygdala. Dysregulation of this process leads to maladaptive generalized fear in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects 7 percent of the U.S. population.

In this study, we found that a population of hippocampal neurons project to both amygdala and medical prefrontal cortex (mPFC). We also found neural mechanisms how these double-projecting neurons efficiently convey contextual information to the amygdala and mPFC to encode and retrieve fear memory for a context associated with an aversive event.

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Fear of Uncertain Future Linked To Brain Region Associated With OCD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Justin M. Kim, Ph.D

Dartmouth College
Advisor: Paul J. Whalen

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

Response: Anxiety (and its co-conspirator ‘worry’) is an active, energy consuming process. You haven’t given up – you are still fighting back, trying to anticipate what might happen tomorrow. The problem of course is that there are an infinite number of ‘what if…’ scenarios you can come up with. For some individuals, the uncertainty of what ‘might happen’ tomorrow, is actually worse than the negative event itself actually happening. These individuals are intolerant of uncertainty.

We were interested in how uncertainty and ambiguity of potential future threat contribute to the generation of anxiety and how they might be represented in our brain. In the psychology literature, how we deal with an uncertain future can be quantified as intolerance of uncertainty (IU). As is the case with any other personality characteristic, we all have varying degrees of IU. For example, individuals high in IU display difficulty accepting the possibility of potential negative events in the future. Importantly, psychiatric disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), whose symptoms are marked with worrying/obsessing, are commonly associated elevated IU. We noticed that while much of the neuroimaging research on IU has been primarily focused on brain function, brain structural correlates of IU have received little attention so far. As such, we believed that it was an important endeavor to assess the relationship between IU and the structural properties of the brain, which can be done through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

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Salivary Biomarker May Lead To Spit Test For Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ali Yilmaz, PhD Beaumont Research Institute Beaumont Health, Royal Oak, MI

Dr. Yilmaz

Ali Yilmaz, PhD
Beaumont Research Institute
Beaumont Health, Royal Oak, MI

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

Response: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by the accumulation of β-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is progressive degree of impairment that is greater than might be attributed to normal age-related cognitive decline, but is not so severe as to merit a diagnosis of dementia. MCI is thought to be a transitional state between normal aging and AD sufferers phenotypically converting to AD at a rate of 10% per year. Currently there is no cure and few reliable diagnostic biomarkers for AD. As we live longer there is an ever increasing demand for valid and reliable biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease; not only because it will help clinicians recognize the disease in its earliest symptomatic stages but will also be important for developing novel treatment of AD. Using 1D H NMR metabolomics, we biochemically profiled saliva samples collected from healthy-controls (n = 12), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) sufferers (n = 8), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients (n = 9). We accurately identified significant concentration changes in 22 metabolites in the saliva of MCI and AD patients compared to controls.

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Depressive Symptoms Not Found To Increase Risk of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Archana Singh-Manoux, PhD Research Professor (Directeur de Recherche) Epidemiology of ageing & age-related diseases INSERM U1018, France Honorary Professor University College London, UK

Dr. Archana Singh-Manoux

Archana Singh-Manoux, PhD
Research Professor (Directeur de Recherche)
Epidemiology of ageing & age-related diseases
INSERM  France
Honorary Professor
University College London, UK 

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

Response: Depressive symptoms are common in dementia patients. Previous studies, based on older adults, show depressive symptoms in late life to be associated with an increased risk of dementia. These studies do not allow conclusions to be drawn on the causal nature of the association between depressive symptoms and dementia.

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Genetic Links Indicate Anorexia Has Both Psychiatric and Metabolic Roots

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cynthia Bulik, PhD

Cynthia Bulik, PhD

Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED
Founding director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and
Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

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

Response: Researchers and clinicians from around the world came together to create the most powerful genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa to date. Via this global collaboration, we were able to identify the first significant locus that influences risk for anorexia nervosa. We have known that anorexia is heritable for over a decade, but now we are actually identifying which genes are implicated. This is the first one identified!

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ADHD Medications Reduce Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zheng Chang PhD MSc
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB)
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm Sweden

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

Response: About 1.25 million people worldwide die annually because of motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). ADHD is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder with symptoms that include poor sustained attention, impaired impulse control and hyperactivity. ADHD affects 5 percent to 7 percent of children and adolescent and for many people it persists into adulthood. Prior studies have suggested people with ADHD are more likely to experience MVCs. Pharmacotherapy is a first-line treatment for the condition and rates of ADHD medication prescribing have increased over the last decade in the United States and in other countries.

Among the more than 2.3 million patients with ADHD (average age 32.5), we found patients with ADHD had a higher risk of an MVC than a control group of people without ADHD. The use of medication in patients with ADHD was associated with reduced risk for motor vehicle crashes in both male and female patients.

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Virtual Reality Environments Can Advance Psychiatric Treatment and Research

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jessica Maples-Keller Emory University School of Medicine.

Jessica Maples-Keller

Jessica Maples-Keller
Emory University School of Medicine.

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

Response:  This manuscript is a review of the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology within psychiatric treatment. VR refers to an advanced technological communication interface in which the user is actively participated in a computer generated 3-d virtual world that includes sensory input devices used to simulate real-world interactive experiences. VR is a powerful tool for the psychiatric community, as it allows providers to create computer-generated environments in a controlled setting, which can be used to create a sense of presence and immersion in the feared environment for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.
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Strong Evidence That Antipsychotics Are Effective For Acute Psychosis and Prevent Relapse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Donald C. Goff, MD Marvin Stern Professor Vice Chair for Research Department of Psychiatry NYU Langone Medical Center

Dr. Goff

Donald C. Goff, MD
Marvin Stern Professor
Vice Chair for Research
Department of Psychiatry
NYU Langone Medical Center

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

Response: Since their introduction in the 1950’s antipsychotic drugs have been an integral part of the treatment of schizophrenia. However, over the past decade concerns have been raised about whether these drugs might negatively affect the long-term course of the illness—either by causing supersensitivity of dopamine receptors, which might make patients more prone to psychosis and relapse, or by direct toxic effects on the brain.

To address these concerns, we convened a panel of international experts to review the evidence supporting these concerns, including findings from clinical studies, brain imaging studies, post-mortem examination of the brains of people treated with these drugs, and studies in which these drugs were administered to animals.

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Saliva Test Can Predict Concussion Duration in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Steven Daniel Hicks, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Division of Academic General Pediatrics College of Medicine Penn State Health

Dr. Hicks

Steven Daniel Hicks, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Division of Academic General Pediatrics
College of Medicine
Penn State Health

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

Response: There are about 3 million concussions in the US each year and the majority occur in children. Parents of children with concussions commonly cite length of recovery as a major concern, but pediatricians have no objective or accurate tests for addressing this concern.

Our research group previously identified small regulatory molecules called microRNAs that were altered in both the spinal fluid and saliva in children with traumatic brain injuries. In this study we investigated whether those microRNAs could predict duration of concussion symptoms. In 52 children with concussion we found a set of microRNAs that predict whether concussion symptoms would last beyond one month with over 80% accuracy. This was significantly more accurate than survey based tools such as the sports concussion assessment tool or a modified concussion clinical risk score. Interestingly, the microRNAs with predictive accuracy targeted pathways involved in brain repair and showed correlations with specific concussion symptoms.

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Retirement Lowers Stress But Only For Those Retiring From Executive Jobs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tarani Chandola</strong> Professor of Medical Sociology Social Statistics Disciplinary Area of the School of Social Sciences University of Manchester

Prof. Chandola

Tarani Chandola
Professor of Medical Sociology
Social Statistics Disciplinary Area of the School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester

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

Response: We (the authors) were particularly interested in examining evidence for the common perception that people at the top of the occupational hierarchy are the most stressed. And also what happens to people’s stress levels when they retire. We had assumed that people with poorer quality work to have decreased levels of stress when they retired. There have been other studies on this topic before, but none that have used salivary cortisol to measure physiological stress responses. We analysed changes in people’s stress levels before and after retirement, in a follow up study of over 1,000 older workers in the British civil service. Stress levels were measured by taking salivary cortisol samples across the day, from awakening until bedtime.

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Transcranial Brain Stimulation May Improve Cognition and Memory

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael CTrumbo
Sandia National Laboratories
Department of Psychology
Psychology Clinical Neuroscience Center
The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 

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

Response: The impetus for this study can be found in claims made by several commercial enterprises that you can get cognitive benefits from brain training games intended to enhance working memory (the amount of information you can hold and manipulate in your mind at one time). However, a burgeoning body of research shows working memory training games often do not provide the benefits claimed. Research led by my colleague Laura Matzen shows evidence that working memory training may actually impair other kinds of memory.

A key concept in demonstrating improvement of the working memory system is task transfer – if working memory has been improved, then that improvement should be evident when attempting tasks aside from the trained task, to the extent that these new tasks utilize working memory. Brain stimulation combined with working memory training might work when training by itself falls short because stimulation allows for manipulation of brain plasticity in brain regions that are relevant to working memory task performance. If you’re improving connectivity in a brain region involved in working memory, then you should get transfer to other tasks to the extent that they rely on that same brain region. When you’re having people do tasks in the absence of brain stimulation, it’s not clear if you’re getting this general improvement in working memory brain areas. You might be getting very selective, task kind of improvements due to use of task-specific strategy development.

Therefore, the current study was designed to see if noninvasive brain stimulation paired with different types of working memory training might result in improvement not only in the trained task, but in related tasks. The findings suggest that particular parings of stimulation parameters and training programs result in working memory improvement. This is important because working memory is a critical component of many everyday tasks, such as reading and language comprehension, and working memory deficits are common in a number of disease states, such as depression. Working memory decline is also evident as part of the healthy aging process, beginning as early as your mid-20s. Therefore, a safe, reliable way to improve working memory stands to benefit both healthy and clinical populations in a variety of task domains which are critical to achieving a high quality of life.

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Antidepressant May Enhance Drug Delivery to the Brain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

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

Dr. Cannon

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

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

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

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

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

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