Aging, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_44041" align="alignleft" width="194"]Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA Dr. Daniel Amen[/caption] Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging. SPECT was used to determine aging trajectories in the brain and which common brain disorders predict abnormally accelerated aging. It examined these functional neuroimaging scans from a large multi-site psychiatric clinic from patients who had many different psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Researchers studied 128 brain regions to predict the chronological age of the patient. Older age predicted from the scan compared to the actual chronological age was interpreted as accelerated aging.  The study found that a number of brain disorders and behaviors predicted accelerated aging, especially schizophrenia, which showed an average of 4 years of premature aging, cannabis abuse (2.8 years of accelerated aging), bipolar disorder (1.6 years accelerated aging), ADHD (1.4 years accelerated aging) and alcohol abuse (0.6 years accelerated aging).  Interestingly, the researchers did not observe accelerated aging in depression and aging, which they hypothesize may be due to different types of brain patterns for these disorders.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43982" align="alignleft" width="128"]Dr Alexandra Rouquette MD PhD Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population... French Institute of Health and Medical Research Paris Dr. Rouquette[/caption] Dr Alexandra Rouquette MD PhD Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population... French Institute of Health and Medical Research Paris MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: There is a growing number of clues in the literature that suggest that the onset of adult psychopathologic disorders can be traced back to behavioral or emotional symptoms observed in childhood or adolescence. Targeting early childhood symptoms might thus be effective in preventing future mental disorders. However, these interventions are challenging to implement because we lack knowledge on which specific childhood symptoms have predictive associations with adult psychopathologic disorders. In our study, we used a novel methodologic approach, the network perspective, in which symptoms are conceptualized as distinct entities that can causally influence each other, be self-reinforcing and are thus part of causal chains which can culminate in disorders. We investigated longitudinally the network structure among a broad range of emotional and behavioral symptoms (symptoms of attention deficit, symptoms of hyperactivity, disruptive symptoms, internalizing symptoms, prosocial symptoms) collected in elementary school girls (6-10 years) included in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children. We showed that symptoms “irritable”, “blames others”, “not liked by other children”, “often cries”, and “solitary” retained a distinctive position in the network because most of the direct relationships between the disruptive and internalizing symptom clusters transited through them. These symptoms have been termed bridge symptoms in the network perspective, as they constitute pathways that can connect different disorders. We then investigated the relationships between this emotional and behavioral symptoms network in childhood and the occurrence of anxiety disorders at age 15 and 22 years. Importantly, the bridge symptoms (particularly “not liked by other children” and “irritable”) exhibited the strongest relationships with future anxiety disorders.
Author Interviews, Memory, Pediatrics, Sleep Disorders / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_44069" align="alignleft" width="200"]Dr. Rebecca Spencer PhD Associate Professor Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences University of Massachusetts Dr. Rebecca Spencer[/caption] Dr. Rebecca Spencer PhD Associate Professor Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences University of Massachusetts MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We know that in young adults, sleep contributes to emotion processing. We wondered if naps work similarly for preschool children.  To look at this, we had children learn an emotional memory task and then either take a nap or stay awake.  We then tested their memory after that interval and again the next day. We found that when children napped, they had better memory for those items the next day than if they did not nap.  That the naps seem to support memory (even if in a delayed fashion) seems consistent with the observation of parents and preschool teachers that children are often emotionally dysregulated if they do not nap.
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Mental Health Research / 21.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Energy drink” by joelklal is licensed under CC BY 2.0Barbara D. Fontana Laboratory of Experimental Neuropsychobiology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Natural and Exact Sciences Center Graduate Program in Biological Sciences Toxicological Biochemistry, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Our research group has been working with taurine and alcohol association for a long time. The background for this study is around increased consumption of molecules present in energy drinks frequently used as mixers for alcoholic beverages. Taurine is one of the most abundant molecules found in energetic drinks and has a neuromodulatory role in brain. In this context, we explore the effects of taurine associated to alcohol. Thus, as result we observed that this association exacerbate risky choices and reduces social cohesion in zebrafish, having a negative impact in social and fear-related behavior.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Cognitive Issues, Memory / 18.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC Ana Maria Sebastião, PhD Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences Director Institute of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and Francisco Mouro, PhD Unit of Neurosciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine University of Lisbon, Portugal MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: There is pressing need to comprehend how cannabinoid exposure impacts brain functioning. While cannabinoid-related research has increased exponentially in the last decade, the mechanisms through which cannabinoids affect brain functioning are still elusive. Specifically, we need to know how prolonged cannabinoid exposure affects important cognitive processes, such as memory, and also find the roots of those effects. This is particularly relevant considering that several countries have already approved cannabis-based medicines. In this sense, our work sheds new light into the mechanisms underlaying the memory-deficits provoked by a continuous exposure to a cannabinoid drug. More precisely, using brain imaging techniques, we found that long-term exposure to a synthetic cannabinoid drug impairs the ability of key brain regions involved in learning and memory to communicate with each other. Our data points to the necessity of considering cannabinoid actions in a broader perspective, including brain circuitry and communication. 
Author Interviews, Autism, Microbiome / 16.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: quadrant biosciencesSteven D. Hicks, MD PhD Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Division of Academic General Pediatrics Hershey, PA, 17033‐0850 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ​Previous studies have shown that disrupting the community of bacteria in the gut can lead to autism-like behavior in animals. In humans interventions aimed at improving the intestinal microbiome have also led to changes in autism behavior. Here, we examined whether autism-related changes in microbial activity extended to the mouth and throat. We were interested in this site because it provides the initial interface between host immunity and microbe exposure. By examining nearly 350 children with autism, typical development, or developmental delay (without autism) we identified 12 groups of oral bacteria with unique activity patterns in children with autism. Interestingly, microbial activity (measured by RNA sequencing) also differed between children with autism and gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances and peers with autism but no GI disturbance. Levels of several microbes also displayed correlations with measures of autism behaviors. We utilized microbial activity patterns to create diagnostic panels that displayed accuracy for distinguishing children with autism from peers with typical development (79.5% accuracy) or developmental delay (76.5% accuracy). 
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Pharmacology / 16.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: MedicalResearch.comVesa Tapiainen, MD School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland Research Centre for Comparative Effectiveness and Patient Safety University of Eastern Finland Kuopio, Finland  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Alzheimer’s disease is a non-curable dementing disease and a major health concern and thus, identification of potential modifiable risk factors, such as benzodiazepines, is important. Benzodiazepines and related drugs are commonly used among older people as every fourth older people use them. Benzodiazepines and related drugs were associated with modestly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A dose-response relationship was observed with higher cumulative dose and longer use periods being associated with higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The risk associated with larger cumulative doses was partly explained by more common use of other psychotropics among these persons. 
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Mental Health Research / 14.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43852" align="alignleft" width="124"]Prof. Carmen Sandi Director, Brain Mind Institute Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland  Prof. Sandi[/caption] Prof. Carmen Sandi Director, Brain Mind Institute Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We are interested in understanding how the brain regulates social behaviors and aggression, both in healthy individuals and individuals with psychiatric disorders. In our recent publication in Molecular Psychiatry, we investigated the impact of an alteration in a gene, St8sia2, that plays important roles during early brain development. Alterations in this gene have been linked with schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder, and individuals with these disorders frequently present high aggressiveness. In addition, expression of this gene in the brain can be altered by stressful insults during very early life and development. Our study shows that genetic and environmental conditions linked to a reduction in the expression of this neuroplasticity gene during early life can lead to impaired fear learning and associated pathological aggression. We could further reveal that deficits in St8sia2 expression lead to a dysfunction in a receptor in the amygdala (a brain region critically involved in emotionality and fear learning), the GluN2B subunit of NMDA Receptors. This allowed us to target this receptor with D-cycloserine, a drug that facilitates NMDA receptor function. This treatment, when given acutely, ameliorated the capacity to learn from adversity and reduced individuals’ aggressiveness. 
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, PTSD, Weight Research / 09.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43753" align="alignleft" width="174"]Jeff Scherrer, Ph.D. Associate professor; Research director Department of Family and Community Medicine Saint Louis University Center for Health Outcomes Research Dr. Scherrer[/caption] Jeff Scherrer, Ph.D. Associate professor; Research director Department of Family and Community Medicine Saint Louis University Center for Health Outcomes Research  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The rationale for this study comes from evidence that patients with PTSD are more likely to be obese than persons without PTSD and have more difficulty losing weight. Given the obesity epidemic and substantial role of obesity in risk of type 2 diabetes, we sought to determine if obesity accounted for the existing evidence that PTSD is a risk factor for incident type 2 diabetes.  Other studies have adjusted for obesity or BMI in models that control for obesity/BMI and other confounders simultaneously which prohibits measuring the independent role of obesity on the ass
Author Interviews, Columbia, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 09.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43792" align="alignleft" width="165"]Priya Wickramaratne PhD Associate Professor of Clinical Biostatistics (in Psychiatry) Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons Columbia University New York State Psychiatric Institute New York Dr. Wickramaratne[/caption] Priya Wickramaratne PhD Associate Professor of Clinical Biostatistics (in Psychiatry) Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons Columbia University New York State Psychiatric Institute New York MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Approximately 12% of adolescents in the United States report having thoughts about attempting suicide. Moreover, suicide is a primary cause of death among females 15 to 19 years of age. Religious and spiritual beliefs have received little attention in previous research examining risk and protective factors of child and adolescent suicide. This study used data from a three-generation study of 214 children and adolescents from 112 nuclear families whose parents were at high or low risk for major depressive disorder to study the association of children and parent’s religious beliefs with risk of suicidal behavior in the children.
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Nature, University of Pennsylvania / 08.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Theodore Satterthwaite MD Assistant professor in the department of Psychiatry, and Cedric Xia, a MD-PhD candidate Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Unlike other branches of modern medicine, psychiatry still solely replies on patient reports and physician observations for clinical decision-making. Without biologically-based tests, the diagnostic categories for mental health do not carve nature at its joint. This is evident in the high levels of co-morbidity across disorders and heterogeneity within disorders. Through this research, we studied a large sample of adolescents who completed MRI-based functional imaging, and used recently-developed machine learning techniques to uncover specific abnormalities that are highly predictive of a wide variety of psychiatric symptoms. Essentially, we tried to find brain patterns that were predictive of different types of psychiatric symptoms. We discovered four such brain-guided dimensions of psychopathology: mood, psychosis, fear, and disruptive behavior. While each of these dimensions exhibits a unique pattern of brain connectivity, a common feature of brain anomaly is shared across the dimensions. Notably, in all linked dimensions, the default mode network and fronto-parietal network, two brain regions that usually become increasingly distinct as the brain matures, were abnormally connected. This loss of normal brain network segregation supports the hypothesis that many psychiatric illnesses may be disorders of brain development. MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? Response: This study shows that we can start to use the brain to guide our understanding of psychiatric disorders in a way that’s fundamentally different than grouping symptoms into clinical diagnostic categories. By moving away from clinical labels developed decades ago, we can begin to let the biology speak for itself. Our ultimate hope is that understanding the biology of mental illnesses will allow us to develop better treatments for our patients. MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? Response: This study demonstrates the importance of incorporating vast amounts of biological data to study mental illness across clinical diagnostic boundaries. Moving forward, we hope to integrate genomic data in order to describe pathways from genes to brain to symptoms, which could ultimately be the basis for novel treatments for mental illness. MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Response: Future breakthroughs in brain science to understand mental illness requires large amount of data. While the current study takes advantage of one of the largest samples of youth, the size (n=999) remains dwarfed by the complexity of the brain. The neuroscience community is actively working towards collecting higher quality data in even larger samples, so we can validate and build upon the findings. Citation: Cedric Huchuan Xia, Zongming Ma, Rastko Ciric, Shi Gu, Richard F. Betzel, Antonia N. Kaczkurkin, Monica E. Calkins, Philip A. Cook, Angel García de la Garza, Simon N. Vandekar, Zaixu Cui, Tyler M. Moore, David R. Roalf, Kosha Ruparel, Daniel H. Wolf, Christos Davatzikos, Ruben C. Gur, Raquel E. Gur, Russell T. Shinohara, Danielle S. Bassett, Theodore D. Satterthwaite. Linked dimensions of psychopathology and connectivity in functional brain networks. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05317-y [wysija_form id="3"] [last-modified] The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.Dr. Theodore Satterthwaite MD Assistant professor in the department of Psychiatry, and Cedric Xia, a MD-PhD candidate Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Unlike other branches of modern medicine, psychiatry still solely replies on patient reports and physician observations for clinical decision-making. Without biologically-based tests, the diagnostic categories for mental health do not carve nature at its joint. This is evident in the high levels of co-morbidity across disorders and heterogeneity within disorders. Through this research, we studied a large sample of adolescents who completed MRI-based functional imaging, and used recently-developed machine learning techniques to uncover specific abnormalities that are highly predictive of a wide variety of psychiatric symptoms. Essentially, we tried to find brain patterns that were predictive of different types of psychiatric symptoms. We discovered four such brain-guided dimensions of psychopathology: mood, psychosis, fear, and disruptive behavior. While each of these dimensions exhibits a unique pattern of brain connectivity, a common feature of brain anomaly is shared across the dimensions. Notably, in all linked dimensions, the default mode network and fronto-parietal network, two brain regions that usually become increasingly distinct as the brain matures, were abnormally connected. This loss of normal brain network segregation supports the hypothesis that many psychiatric illnesses may be disorders of brain development.
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Memory / 05.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43717" align="alignleft" width="110"]Dr Antonina Pereira - CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS Head of Department of Psychology & Counselling University of Chichester Chichester, West Sussex UK Dr. Pereira[/caption] Dr Antonina Pereira - CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS Head of Department of Psychology & Counselling University of Chichester Chichester, West Sussex UK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to remember to perform future activities, such as remembering to take medication or remembering to attend an appointment. Prospective memory tasks pervade our daily lives, and PM failures, although sometimes merely annoying (e.g., forgetting an umbrella at home on a rainy day), can have serious and even life-threatening consequences (e.g., forgetting to turn off the stove). The fulfilment of such delayed intended actions can indeed be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, with prospective memory failures representing one of the most prominent memory concerns in older adulthood and a fundamental requirement for independent living across the lifespan. We aimed to address this issue by exploring the potential benefits of a purposefully designed technique, encoded enactment, where participants were encouraged to act through the activity they must remember to do. This particular study was the fruit of an international research collaboration led by the University of Chichester and including members from Radboud University Nijmegen, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon. Our team has explored the potential benefits of this specific encoding strategy for healthy younger adults, healthy older adults as well as for patients with mild cognitive impairment. Results were very encouraging: All age groups reported improvement in prospective memory, but this was particularly evident in older patients with mild cognitive impairment, that is, potentially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The study suggests that encouraging people in this category to adopt enactment as a means to enhance prospective memory could result in them leading independent, autonomous lives for longer.
Author Interviews, Depression, Gender Differences, Occupational Health / 02.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Professional waitress” by Shih-Chi Chiang is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sarah Andrea, MPH School of Public Health OHSU-PSU MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We spend one-third of our adult lives at work, and our work-related experiences and exposures affect our health. 14 million people work in the leisure and hospitality industry, a subset of the service industry that includes food service and personal care workers. This industry is simultaneously one of the fastest growing and lowest paid. In addition, work in this industry is frequently characterized by lack of control over hours and shifts worked, as well as insufficient access to health care and other benefits. Studies have previously found the highest burden of depression and sleep problems for workers in this industry compared to others. Individuals working in the service industry who earn the bulk for their income from tips from customers face additional vulnerabilities. In many states, tipped workers are paid as little as $2.13 an hour and rely on customers to make up the difference in tips, which are inequitable and unpredictable. Prior to this study, the potential health implications of tipped work were minimally assessed.
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Mental Health Research / 31.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: The Jackson LaboratoryCatherine Kaczorowski, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Evnin Family Chair in Alzheimer's Research Kristen O’Connell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Amy Dunn, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate The Jackson Laboratory MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Dr. Amy Dunn: “Alzheimer's disease is complex, with both genetic and environmental factors determining symptom onset and disease progression, though our current understanding of how genetic and environmental factors interact to influence disease risk is incomplete. We recently developed a panel of genetically diverse mice carrying human familial AD mutations (AD-BXDs) that better model human AD in order to determine how genetics and diet interact to modify disease onset and severity. We fed a high fat diet to AD-BXDs and monitored metabolic and cognitive function over the duration of the HFD feeding.  We observed accelerated working memory decline in most of the AD-BXD mouse strains, however, the impact of high fat diet on memory was dependent on individual genetic differences across the panel, with some AD-BXD strains maintaining cognitive function on high fat diet (resilient strains). Our data suggest that diet and genetic background interact to mediate vulnerability to AD pathogenesis, and that metabolic factors (e.g. obesity, body composition) that may contribute to cognitive decline differentially in normal aging versus AD. “
Aging, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews / 27.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: alkahestIan Gallager, MS Scientist at Alkahest Inc. San Francisco Bay Area  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Our research is aimed to develop novel therapeutics for age-related disorders from fundamental understandings of blood plasma. This expands upon work initially performed in the Wyss-Coray lab at Stanford utilizing a model of parabiosis. By surgically conjoining the blood supplies between a young and aged mouse, they established that beneficial effects were observed in the aged mouse brain, suggesting that there are proteins in young blood which have enhancing properties. The research presented at AAIC was the culmination of several years of model and dosing paradigm development utilizing both human plasma and a proprietary fractionated plasma product leading to advances for clinical application.
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Genetic Research / 27.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43446" align="alignleft" width="151"]Gregory Carter Dr. Carter[/caption] Gregory Carter, PhD Associate Professor at The Jackson Laboratory MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Animal models for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) will be of significant benefit for the discovery and characterization of links between specific genetic factors and the molecular pathways associated with the disease. To date, most animal models have been based on rare, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease genes that incompletely capture the complexity of LOAD and have not translated well to therapies. Therefore, developing and utilizing animal models based on genes hypothesized to play a role in LOAD will provide new insights into its basic biological mechanisms. 
Author Interviews, Duke, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 26.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43484" align="alignleft" width="199"]Richard Keefe PhD Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Duke Institute for Brains Sciences Dr. Keefe[/caption] Richard Keefe PhD Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Duke Institute for Brains Sciences MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A lot of studies have shown that cognitive deficits are present in young people at risk for psychosis. There have been calls for investigations of the idea that cognition declines over time in the young people who are at highest risk, but longitudinal studies are hard to conduct so not much work has been done to address this question. The main finding from our study is that the cognitive architecture – the way the various aspects of cognitive functioning appear to be organized in each individual’s brain based upon their pattern of performance – changes over time in those young people who are in the midst of developing psychosis. Interestingly, cognitive architecture also becomes more disorganized in those whose high-risk symptoms do not remit over a two year period, and is related to the functional difficulties they may be having. The young people whose high risk symptoms were present at the beginning of the study but remitted later actually improved cognitively over the two year period of the study.
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Metabolic Syndrome / 26.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43496" align="alignleft" width="200"]Maude Wagner, PhD Student Biostatistics Team Lifelong Exposures, Health and Aging Team Bordeaux Population Health Research Center Inserm Univ. Bordeaux Maude Wagner[/caption] Maude Wagner, PhD Student Biostatistics Team Lifelong Exposures, Health and Aging Team Bordeaux Population Health Research Center Inserm Univ. Bordeaux MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Many studies haves shown associations between cardiometabolic health and dementia in midlife, but associations later in life remain inconclusive. This study aimed to model concurrently and to compare the trajectories of major cardiometabolic risk factors in the 14 years before diagnosis among cases of dementia and controls. This study showed that demented persons presented a BMI decline and lower blood pressure (specifically systolic blood pressure) several years before dementia diagnosis that might be a consequence of underlying disease. In contrast, cases presented consistently higher blood glucose levels up to 14 years before dementia suggesting that high glycemia is a strong risk factor for dementia.
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Genetic Research / 25.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43446" align="alignleft" width="151"] Dr. Carter[/caption] Gregory Carter, PhD Associate Professor at The Jackson Laboratory MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) is the most common form of the disease and the major cause of dementia in the aging population. To date, the complex genetic architecture of LOAD has hampered both our ability to predict disease outcome and to establish research models that effectively replicate human disease pathology. Therefore, most basic research into Alzheimer’s disease has focused on early-onset forms caused by mutations in specific genes, which has provided key biological insights but to date has not translated to effective disease preventatives or cures. Our study analyzes both common and rare human genetic variants to identify those significantly associated with .late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, beginning with a large data set from the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project. We also analyzed RNA sequencing data from post-mortem human and mouse model samples to prioritize candidate genes. We found a new common coding variant significantly associated with disease, in addition to those in genes previously associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We also found five candidate genes conferring a significant rare variant burden. 
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Herpes Viruses / 20.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43318" align="alignleft" width="200"]This photograph depicts a close-up of the lips of a patient with a herpes simplex lesion on the lower lip, due to the herpes simples virus-1 (HSV-1) CDC image This photograph depicts a close-up of the lips of a patient with a herpes simplex lesion on the lower lip, due to the herpes simples virus-1 (HSV-1)
CDC image[/caption] Prof Ruth Itzhaki Emeritus Professor Division of Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology The University of Manchester MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The background arises from the unexpected discovery, made by my lab almost 30 years ago, that the DNA of the common virus, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), known as the "cold sore" virus, was present in a high proportion of autopsy brains from elderly humans. Subsequently, we found that HSV1, when in brain of people who have a specific genetic factor, APOE-e4, confers a strong risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. We found also a parallelism with cold sores in that APOE-e4 is a risk for the sores, which occur in about 25-40% of people infected with HSV1. We then looked for links between the effects of HSV1 infection of cells in culture and AD, and found some major associations between virus and disease. Firstly, HSV1 causes an increase in the formation of a small protein called beta amyloid, which is the main component of the abnormal "plaques" seen in Alzheimer's Disease brains. Secondly, we discovered that in AD brains, the viral DNA is located precisely within amyloid plaques, which suggests that the virus is responsible for the formation of these abnormal structures. Thirdly, we confirmed the finding of another lab that HSV1 causes the increased formation of an abnormal form of the protein known as tau, which is the main component of the other characteristic abnormality of Alzheimer's Disease brains - "neurofibrillary tangles". All these discoveries suggested that the damage caused by HSV1 leads eventually to the development of AD. Lastly, we showed that treating HSV1-infected cells in culture greatly reduces the formation of beta amyloid and abnormal tau. This suggests that antiviral agents might be used for treating Alzheimer's Disease patients.
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, OBGYNE / 15.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43130" align="alignleft" width="175"]Rebecca Pearson, PhD Lecturer in Psychiatric Epidemiology Centre for Academic Mental Health School of Social & Community Medicine University of Bristol Dr. Pearson[/caption] Rebecca Pearson, PhD Lecturer in Psychiatric Epidemiology Centre for Academic Mental Health School of Social & Community Medicine University of Bristol MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: We know depression and anxiety are common in young women and during pregnancy when there are also implications for the developing child. It is therefore important to investigate whether symptoms are rising given the pressures of modern life. We found that compared to their mothers generation in the 1990s young pregnancy women today are more likely to be depressed. This was driven largely by symptoms of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed rather than feeling down. 
Author Interviews, Schizophrenia, Technology / 13.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43153" align="alignleft" width="125"]Bo Cao, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry University of Alberta Edmonton Dr. Bo Cao[/caption] Bo Cao, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry University of Alberta Edmonton MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder that comes with delusions, hallucinations, poor motivation, cognitive impairments. The economic burden of schizophrenia was estimated at $155.7 billion in 2013 alone in the United States. Schizophrenia usually emerges early in life and can potentially become a lifetime burden for some patients. Repeated untreated psychotic episodes may be associated with irreversible alterations of the brain. Thus, it is crucial to identify schizophrenia early and provide effective treatment. However, identifying biomarkers in schizophrenia during the first episode without the confounding effects of treatment has been challenging. Limited progress has been made in leveraging these biomarkers to establish diagnosis and make individualized predictions of future treatment responses to antipsychotics. In a recent study by Dr. Cao and his colleagues, they successfully identified the first-episode drug-naïve schizophrenia patients (accuracy 78.6%) and predict their responses to antipsychotic treatment (accuracy 82.5%) at an individual level by using a machine learning algorithm and the functional connections of a brain region called the superior temporal cortex. 
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorders / 07.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Woman sleeping” by Timothy Krause is licensed under CC BY 2.0Nathan E. Cross PhD, first author School of Psychology. Sharon L. Naismith, PhD, senior author Leonard P Ullman Chair in Psychology Brain and Mind Centre Neurosleep, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence The University of Sydney, Australia  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Between 30 to 50% of the risk for dementia is due to modifiable risk factors such depression, hypertension, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes and smoking. In recent years, multiple longitudinal cohort studies have observed a link between sleep apnoea and a greater risk (1.85 to 2.6 times more likely) of developing cognitive decline and dementia.  Furthermore, one study in over 8000 people also indicated that the presence of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in older adults was associated with an earlier age of cognitive decline, and that treatment of OSA may delay the onset of cognitive impairment. This study reveals important insights into how sleep disorders such as OSA may impact the brain in older adults, as it is associated with widespread structural alterations in diverse brain regions. We found that reduced blood oxygen levels during sleep are related to reduced thickness of the brain's cortex in both the left and right temporal areas - regions that are important in memory and are early sites of injury in Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, reduced thickness in these regions was associated with poorer ability to learn new information, thereby being the first to link this structural change to memory decline.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Nutrition, OBGYNE / 05.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42888" align="alignleft" width="135"]Joshua L. Roffman, MD Department of Psychiatry Mass General Hospital Dr. Roffman[/caption] Joshua L. Roffman, MD Department of Psychiatry Mass General Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Autism, schizophrenia, and other serious mental illness affecting young people are chronic, debilitating, and incurable at present.  Recent public health studies have associated prenatal exposure to folic acid, a B-vitamin, with reduced subsequent risk of these illnesses.  However, until this point, biological evidence supporting a causal relationship between prenatal folic acid exposure and reduced psychiatric risk has remained elusive. We leveraged the rollout of government-mandated folic acid fortification of grain products in the U.S. from 1996-98 as a "natural experiment" to determine whether increased prenatal folic acid exposure influenced subsequent brain development.  This intervention, implemented to reduce risk of spina bifida and other disabling neural tube defects in infants, rapidly doubled blood folate levels among women of childbearing age in surveillance studies. Across two large, independent cohorts of youths age 8 to 18 who received MRI scans, we observed increased cortical thickness, and a delay in age-related cortical thinning, in brain regions associated with schizophrenia risk among individuals who were born during or after the fortification rollout, compared to those born just before it.  Further, delayed cortical thinning also predicted reduced risk of psychosis spectrum symptoms, a finding that suggests biological plausibility in light of previous work demonstrating early and accelerated cortical thinning among school-aged individuals with autism or psychosis.
Aging, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology / 29.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Old Eyeglasses” by Leyram Odacrem is licensed under CC BY 2.0Diane Zheng MS NEI F-31 Research Fellow and a Ph.D. candidate in Epidemiology Department of Public Health Sciences University of Miami MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Worsening vision and declining cognitive function are common conditions among older people. Understanding the association between them could be beneficial to alleviate age related cognitive decline.
Author Interviews, Education, Mental Health Research, Pharmacology / 28.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42857" align="alignleft" width="200"]Kiyohito Iigaya PhD Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research University College London Dr. Iigaya[/caption] Kiyohito Iigaya PhD Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research University College London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Serotonin (5-HT) is believed to play many important roles in cognitive processing, and past experiments have not crisply parsed them. We developed a novel computational model of mice behavior that follows reinforcement learning principles, which are widely used in machine learning and AI research. By applying this model to experimental data, we found that optogenetic 5-HT stimulation speeds up the learning rate in mice, but the effect was only apparent on select subset of choices.
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, JAMA, Neurology / 25.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42615" align="alignleft" width="152"]Dr. Paul Foster Dr. Foster[/caption] Paul Foster BMedSci(Hons) BMBS PhD FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth FRCS(Eng) Professor of Glaucoma Studies & Ophthalmic Epidemiology Research Theme Lead Integrative Epidemiology & Visual Function UCL Institute of Ophthalmology & Moorfields Eye Hospital London  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Response:  Dementia is the medical challenge of the moment – increasingly common, adversely impacting quality of life for millions, and a great worry for all. Efforts to identify treatments or interventions rely on being able to identify those people at greatest risk. Our motivation was to help identify those people, primarily to aid in the development of treatments through clinical trials.
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, PLoS, Probiotics / 21.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42623" align="alignleft" width="133"]Daniel Reis MA Graduate Student Clinical Psychology University of Kansas Daniel Reis[/caption] Daniel Reis MA Graduate Student Clinical Psychology University of Kansas MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Probiotics have generated considerable interest as a possible treatment for numerous forms of physical and mental illness. Preliminary evidence from both preclinical and clinical studies suggest that probiotics may be able to reduce anxiety. Our goal was to comprehensively review and summarize existing preclinical and clinical studies. Overall, probiotic administration reduced anxiety-like behaviors in rodents, but only in those with some form of experimentally-induced disease (such as early-life stress or socieal defeat). Probiotics did not reduce anxiety in humans.