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Immune Activation Markers in Peripartum Women in Botswana: Association with Feeding Strategy and Maternal Morbidity

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Elizabeth S. Russell, Terence Mohammed, Laura Smeaton, Baitshepi Jorowe, Iain J. MacLeod, Risa M. Hoffman, Judith S. Currier, Sikhulile Moyo, Max Essex, Shahin Lockman

Hormone levels shift the immune state in HIV-uninfected pregnant and breastfeeding women away from Th1 responses and toward regulation to permit fetal tolerance. Limited data exist on inflammation during pregnancy or postpartum in HIV-infected women, though certain inflammatory markers are associated with adverse health outcomes among HIV-infected persons. We measured hsCRP, D-dimer, IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α at 34 weeks gestation and six months postpartum in HIV-infected women from the Botswana Mashi PMTCT trial who were randomized to breastfeeding or formula-feeding. Differences in inflammatory markers between gestation and postpartum periods, and by randomized feeding method, were estimated using generalized estimating equations, adjusting for baseline plasma HIV-1 viral load, CD4 count, calendar time, and antiretroviral treatment status. Additionally, we studied the association between marker concentrations at six months postpartum and major adverse clinical events over the following 4.5 years, using case-cohort sampling and adjusted Cox proportional hazards models. In 86 breastfeeding and 75 formula-feeding women, hsCRP and D-dimer decreased significantly between 34 weeks gestation and six months postpartum, while IFN-γ increased. There was no significant association between inflammatory marker change and randomized feeding method after adjusting for multiple comparisons and removing outliers. In univariate analysis, TNF-α, D-dimer, and IFN-γ concentrations at six months postpartum were significant predictors of subsequent clinical events, and TNF-α remained significant in multivariate analysis (HR = 4.16, p = 0.001). In young HIV-infected women in Botswana inflammatory marker concentrations did not differ significantly between women who breast- vs. formula-fed. However, postpartum TNF-α level was predictive of subsequent adverse clinical event.
Categories: Bioscience

Quantifying Ant Activity Using Vibration Measurements

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Sebastian Oberst, Enrique Nava Baro, Joseph C. S. Lai, Theodore A. Evans

Ant behaviour is of great interest due to their sociality. Ant behaviour is typically observed visually, however there are many circumstances where visual observation is not possible. It may be possible to assess ant behaviour using vibration signals produced by their physical movement. We demonstrate through a series of bioassays with different stimuli that the level of activity of meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) can be quantified using vibrations, corresponding to observations with video. We found that ants exposed to physical shaking produced the highest average vibration amplitudes followed by ants with stones to drag, then ants with neighbours, illuminated ants and ants in darkness. In addition, we devised a novel method based on wavelet decomposition to separate the vibration signal owing to the initial ant behaviour from the substrate response, which will allow signals recorded from different substrates to be compared directly. Our results indicate the potential to use vibration signals to classify some ant behaviours in situations where visual observation could be difficult.
Categories: Bioscience

MicroRNA-146a and Ets-1 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Pediatric Uveitis

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Lin Wei, Qingyun Zhou, Shengping Hou, Lin Bai, Yunjia Liu, Jian Qi, Qin Xiang, Yan Zhou, Aize Kijlstra, Peizeng Yang

Background

MicroRNA-146a (miR-146a) was a key negative regulator of autoimmunity. V-Ets oncogene homolog 1 (Ets-1) was demonstrated to bind to the miR-146a promoter region and markedly affects miR-146a promoter activity. This study aimed to investigate the association of miR-146a and Ets-1 gene polymorphisms with pediatric uveitis in a Han Chinese population.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A total of 520 patients and 1204 healthy controls were included in the present study. Five single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), miR-146a/rs2910164, miR-146a/rs57095329, miR-146a/rs6864584, ets-1/rs1128334 and ets-1/rs10893872 were genotyped using a polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism assay. The expression of Ets-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from genotyped healthy controls was tested by real-time PCR. Two SNPs (rs2910164 and rs10893872) were associated with pediatric uveitis in this study. The frequencies of the rs2910164 GG genotype and G allele were significantly increased (Pc = 3.11×10−4; Pc = 2.75×10−6) while the CC genotype and C allele were significantly decreased (Pc = 0.001; Pc = 2.75×10−6) in patients compared with normal controls. The frequencies of the rs10893872 CC genotype and C allele were significantly increased (Pc = 3.89×10−4; Pc = 0.01) while the CT genotype and T allele were significantly decreased (Pc = 0.004; Pc = 0.01) in patients compared with normal controls. The SNP rs2910164 GG genotype and G/C allele were also associated with the presence of microvascular leakage as detected by fundus fluorescein angiography in pediatric uveitis (Pc = 0.01; Pc = 0.005, respectively). Ets-1 expression in rs10893872 CC carriers was significantly higher than in CT and TT individuals (Pc = 0.013). There was no association of the other three SNPs with pediatric uveitis.

Conclusions

This study shows that miR-146a and Ets-1 are both associated with pediatric uveitis in Han Chinese. SNP rs10893872 may affect the genetic predisposition to pediatric uveitis by modulating expression of Ets-1.

Categories: Bioscience

Prediction of RNA Binding Residues: An Extensive Analysis Based on Structure and Function to Select the Best Predictor

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by R. Nagarajan, M. Michael Gromiha

Protein-RNA complexes play key roles in several cellular processes by the interactions of amino acids with RNA. To understand the recognition mechanism, it is important to identify the specific amino acids involved in RNA binding. Various computational methods have been developed for predicting RNA binding residues from protein sequence. However, their performances mainly depend on the training dataset, feature selection for developing a model and learning capacity of the model. Hence, it is important to reveal the correspondence between the performance of methods and properties of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). In this work, we have collected all available RNA binding residues prediction methods and revealed their performances on unbiased, stringent and diverse datasets for RBPs with less than 25% sequence identity based on structural class, fold, superfamily, family, protein function, RNA type, RNA strand and RNA conformation. The best methods for each type of RBPs and the type of RBPs, which require further refinement in prediction, have been brought out. We also analyzed the performance of these methods for the disordered regions, structures which are not included in the training dataset and recently solved structures. The reliability of prediction is better than randomly choosing any method or combination of methods. This approach would be a valuable resource for biologists to choose the best method based on the type of RBPs for designing their experiments and the tool is freely accessible online at www.iitm.ac.in/bioinfo/RNA-protein/.
Categories: Bioscience

Transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin White-Tailed Deer: Implications for Disease Spread and Management

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Christopher S. Jennelle, Viviane Henaux, Gideon Wasserberg, Bala Thiagarajan, Robert E. Rolley, Michael D. Samuel

Few studies have evaluated the rate of infection or mode of transmission for wildlife diseases, and the implications of alternative management strategies. We used hunter harvest data from 2002 to 2013 to investigate chronic wasting disease (CWD) infection rate and transmission modes, and address how alternative management approaches affect disease dynamics in a Wisconsin white-tailed deer population. Uncertainty regarding demographic impacts of CWD on cervid populations, human and domestic animal health concerns, and potential economic consequences underscore the need for strategies to control CWD distribution and prevalence. Using maximum-likelihood methods to evaluate alternative multi-state deterministic models of CWD transmission, harvest data strongly supports a frequency-dependent transmission structure with sex-specific infection rates that are two times higher in males than females. As transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are an important and difficult-to-study class of diseases with major economic and ecological implications, our work supports the hypothesis of frequency-dependent transmission in wild deer at a broad spatial scale and indicates that effective harvest management can be implemented to control CWD prevalence. Specifically, we show that harvest focused on the greater-affected sex (males) can result in stable population dynamics and control of CWD within the next 50 years, given the constraints of the model. We also provide a quantitative estimate of geographic disease spread in southern Wisconsin, validating qualitative assessments that CWD spreads relatively slowly. Given increased discovery and distribution of CWD throughout North America, insights from our study are valuable to management agencies and to the general public concerned about the impacts of CWD on white-tailed deer populations.
Categories: Bioscience

Identification of MicroRNAs in the Coral Stylophora pistillata

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Yi Jin Liew, Manuel Aranda, Adrian Carr, Sebastian Baumgarten, Didier Zoccola, Sylvie Tambutté, Denis Allemand, Gos Micklem, Christian R. Voolstra

Coral reefs are major contributors to marine biodiversity. However, they are in rapid decline due to global environmental changes such as rising sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, and pollution. Genomic and transcriptomic analyses have broadened our understanding of coral biology, but a study of the microRNA (miRNA) repertoire of corals is missing. miRNAs constitute a class of small non-coding RNAs of ∼22 nt in size that play crucial roles in development, metabolism, and stress response in plants and animals alike. In this study, we examined the coral Stylophora pistillata for the presence of miRNAs and the corresponding core protein machinery required for their processing and function. Based on small RNA sequencing, we present evidence for 31 bona fide microRNAs, 5 of which (miR-100, miR-2022, miR-2023, miR-2030, and miR-2036) are conserved in other metazoans. Homologues of Argonaute, Piwi, Dicer, Drosha, Pasha, and HEN1 were identified in the transcriptome of S. pistillata based on strong sequence conservation with known RNAi proteins, with additional support derived from phylogenetic trees. Examination of putative miRNA gene targets indicates potential roles in development, metabolism, immunity, and biomineralisation for several of the microRNAs. Here, we present first evidence of a functional RNAi machinery and five conserved miRNAs in S. pistillata, implying that miRNAs play a role in organismal biology of scleractinian corals. Analysis of predicted miRNA target genes in S. pistillata suggests potential roles of miRNAs in symbiosis and coral calcification. Given the importance of miRNAs in regulating gene expression in other metazoans, further expression analyses of small non-coding RNAs in transcriptional studies of corals should be informative about miRNA-affected processes and pathways.
Categories: Bioscience

Risk Factors of Pre-Eclampsia/Eclampsia and Its Adverse Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A WHO Secondary Analysis

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Ver Luanni Bilano, Erika Ota, Togoobaatar Ganchimeg, Rintaro Mori, João Paulo Souza

Background

Pre-eclampsia has an immense adverse impact on maternal and perinatal health especially in low- and middle-income settings. We aimed to estimate the associations between pre-eclampsia/eclampsia and its risk factors, and adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes.

Methods

We performed a secondary analysis of the WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health. The survey was a multi-country, facility-based cross-sectional study. A global sample consisting of 24 countries from three regions and 373 health facilities was obtained via a stratified multi-stage cluster sampling design. Maternal and offspring data were extracted from records using standardized questionnaires. Multi-level logistic regression modelling was conducted with random effects at the individual, facility and country levels.

Results

Data for 276,388 mothers and their infants was analysed. The prevalence of pre-eclampsia/eclampsia in the study population was 10,754 (4%). At the individual level, sociodemographic characteristics of maternal age ≥30 years and low educational attainment were significantly associated with higher risk of pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. As for clinical and obstetric variables, high body mass index (BMI), nulliparity (AOR: 2.04; 95%CI 1.92–2.16), absence of antenatal care (AOR: 1.41; 95%CI 1.26–1.57), chronic hypertension (AOR: 7.75; 95%CI 6.77–8.87), gestational diabetes (AOR: 2.00; 95%CI 1.63–2.45), cardiac or renal disease (AOR: 2.38; 95%CI 1.86–3.05), pyelonephritis or urinary tract infection (AOR: 1.13; 95%CI 1.03–1.24) and severe anemia (AOR: 2.98; 95%CI 2.47–3.61) were found to be significant risk factors, while having >8 visits of antenatal care was protective (AOR: 0.90; 95%CI 0.83–0.98). Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia was found to be a significant risk factor for maternal death, perinatal death, preterm birth and low birthweight.

Conclusion

Chronic hypertension, obesity and severe anemia were the highest risk factors of preeclampsia/eclampsia. Implementation of effective interventions prioritizing risk factors, provision of quality health services during pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy for joint efforts in the areas of maternal health are recommended.

Categories: Bioscience

A Mixture Model for Robust Point Matching under Multi-Layer Motion

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Jiayi Ma, Jun Chen, Delie Ming, Jinwen Tian

This paper proposes an efficient mixture model for establishing robust point correspondences between two sets of points under multi-layer motion. Our algorithm starts by creating a set of putative correspondences which can contain a number of false correspondences, or outliers, in addition to the true correspondences (inliers). Next we solve for correspondence by interpolating a set of spatial transformations on the putative correspondence set based on a mixture model, which involves estimating a consensus of inlier points whose matching follows a non-parametric geometrical constraint. We formulate this as a maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation of a Bayesian model with hidden/latent variables indicating whether matches in the putative set are outliers or inliers. We impose non-parametric geometrical constraints on the correspondence, as a prior distribution, in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS). MAP estimation is performed by the EM algorithm which by also estimating the variance of the prior model (initialized to a large value) is able to obtain good estimates very quickly (e.g., avoiding many of the local minima inherent in this formulation). We further provide a fast implementation based on sparse approximation which can achieve a significant speed-up without much performance degradation. We illustrate the proposed method on 2D and 3D real images for sparse feature correspondence, as well as a public available dataset for shape matching. The quantitative results demonstrate that our method is robust to non-rigid deformation and multi-layer/large discontinuous motion.
Categories: Bioscience

Gene Expression Profiling Associated with Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor-Induced Apoptosis in Human Prostate Cancer Cells

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Nana Pei, Feilong Jie, Jie Luo, Renqiang Wan, Yanling Zhang, Xinglu Chen, Zhibing Liang, Hongyan Du, Andrew Li, Baihong Chen, Yi Zhang, Colin Sumners, Jinlong Li, Weiwang Gu, Hongwei Li

Increased expression of angiotensin II type 2 receptor (AT2R) induces apoptosis in numerous tumor cell lines, with either Angiotensin II-dependent or Angiotensin II-independent regulation, but its molecular mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we used PCR Array analysis to determine the gene and microRNA expression profiles in human prostate cancer cell lines transduced with AT2R recombinant adenovirus. Our results demonstrated that AT2R over expression leads to up-regulation of 6 apoptosis-related genes (TRAIL-R2, BAG3, BNIPI, HRK, Gadd45a, TP53BP2), 2 cytokine genes (IL6 and IL8) and 1 microRNA, and down-regulation of 1 apoptosis-related gene TNFSF10 and 2 cytokine genes (BMP6, BMP7) in transduced DU145 cells. HRK was identified as an up-regulated gene in AT2R-transduced PC-3 cells by real-time RT-PCR. Next, we utilized siRNAs to silence the up-regulated genes to further determine their roles on AT2R overexpression mediated apoptosis. The results showed downregulation of Gadd45a reduced the apoptotic effect by ∼30% in DU145 cells, downregulation of HRK reduced AT2R-mediated apoptosis by more than 50% in PC-3 cells, while downregulation of TRAIL-R2 enhanced AT2R-mediated apoptosis more than 4 times in DU145 cells. We also found that the effects on AT2R-mediated apoptosis caused by downregulation of Gadd45a, TRAIL-R2 and HRK were independent in activation of p38 MAPK, p44/42 MAPK and p53. Taken together, our results demonstrated that TRAIL-R2, Gadd45a and HRK may be novel target genes for further study of the mechanism of AT2R-mediated apoptosis in prostate cancer cells.
Categories: Bioscience

Molecular Mechanism of Strict Substrate Specificity of an Extradiol Dioxygenase, DesB, Derived from Sphingobium sp. SYK-6

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Keisuke Sugimoto, Miki Senda, Daisuke Kasai, Masao Fukuda, Eiji Masai, Toshiya Senda

DesB, which is derived from Sphingobium sp. SYK-6, is a type II extradiol dioxygenase that catalyzes a ring opening reaction of gallate. While typical extradiol dioxygenases show broad substrate specificity, DesB has strict substrate specificity for gallate. The substrate specificity of DesB seems to be required for the efficient growth of S. sp. SYK-6 using lignin-derived aromatic compounds. Since direct coordination of hydroxyl groups of the substrate to the non-heme iron in the active site is a critical step for the catalytic reaction of the extradiol dioxygenases, the mechanism of the substrate recognition and coordination of DesB was analyzed by biochemical and crystallographic methods. Our study demonstrated that the direct coordination between the non-heme iron and hydroxyl groups of the substrate requires a large shift of the Fe (II) ion in the active site. Mutational analysis revealed that His124 and His192 in the active site are essential to the catalytic reaction of DesB. His124, which interacts with OH (4) of the bound gallate, seems to contribute to proper positioning of the substrate in the active site. His192, which is located close to OH (3) of the gallate, is likely to serve as the catalytic base. Glu377’ interacts with OH (5) of the gallate and seems to play a critical role in the substrate specificity. Our biochemical and structural study showed the substrate recognition and catalytic mechanisms of DesB.
Categories: Bioscience

Analysis of Autofluorescence in Polymorphonuclear Neutrophils: A New Tool for Early Infection Diagnosis

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Antoine Monsel, Sandrine Lécart, Antoine Roquilly, Alexis Broquet, Cédric Jacqueline, Tristan Mirault, Thibaut Troude, Marie-Pierre Fontaine-Aupart, Karim Asehnoune

Diagnosing bacterial infection (BI) remains a challenge for the attending physician. An ex vivo infection model based on human fixed polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) gives an autofluorescence signal that differs significantly between stimulated and unstimulated cells. We took advantage of this property for use in an in vivo pneumonia mouse model and in patients hospitalized with bacterial pneumonia. A 2-fold decrease was observed in autofluorescence intensity for cytospined PMNs from broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) in the pneumonia mouse model and a 2.7-fold decrease was observed in patients with pneumonia when compared with control mice or patients without pneumonia, respectively. This optical method provided an autofluorescence mean intensity cut-off, allowing for easy diagnosis of BI. Originally set up on a confocal microscope, the assay was also effective using a standard epifluorescence microscope. Assessing the autofluorescence of PMNs provides a fast, simple, cheap and reliable method optimizing the efficiency and the time needed for early diagnosis of severe infections. Rationalized therapeutic decisions supported by the results from this method can improve the outcome of patients suspected of having an infection.
Categories: Bioscience

Biomechanical Effects of a Unilateral Approach to Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Zachary A. Smith, Georgios A. Vastardis, Gerard Carandang, Robert M. Havey, Sean Hannon, Nader Dahdaleh, Leonard I. Voronov, Richard G. Fessler, Avinash G. Patwardhan

Minimally invasive (MI) lumbar decompression became a common approach to treat lumbar stenosis. This approach may potentially mitigate postoperative increases in segmental motion. The goal of this study was to evaluate modifications to segmental motion in the lumbar spine following a MI unilateral approach as compared to traditional facet-sparing and non-facet sparing decompressions. Six human lumbar cadaveric specimens were used. Each specimen was tested in flexion-extension 0 N and 400 N of follower preload), axial rotation, and lateral bending. Each testing condition was evaluated following three separate interventions at L4–L5: 1) Minimally invasive decompression, 2) Facet-sparing, bilateral decompression, and 3) Bilateral decompression with a wide facetectomy. Range of motion following each testing condition was compared to intact specimens. Both MI and traditional decompression procedures create significant increases in ROM in all modes of loading. However, when compared to the MI approach, traditional decompression produces significantly larger increase in ROM in flexion-extension (p<0.005) and axial rotation (p<0.05). It additionally creates increased ROM with lateral bending on the approach side (p<0.05). Lateral bending on the non-approach side is not significantly changed. Lastly, wide medial facet removal (40% to 50%) causes significant hypermobility, especially in axial rotation. While both MI and traditional lumbar decompressions may increase post-operative ROM in all conditions, a MI approach causes significantly smaller increase in ROM. With an MI approach, increased movement with lateral bending is only toward the approach side. Further, non-facet sparing decompression is further destabilizing in all loading modes.
Categories: Bioscience

Emotional Intelligence and Mismatching Expressive and Verbal Messages: A Contribution to Detection of Deception

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Jerzy Wojciechowski, Maciej Stolarski, Gerald Matthews

Processing facial emotion, especially mismatches between facial and verbal messages, is believed to be important in the detection of deception. For example, emotional leakage may accompany lying. Individuals with superior emotion perception abilities may then be more adept in detecting deception by identifying mismatch between facial and verbal messages. Two personal factors that may predict such abilities are female gender and high emotional intelligence (EI). However, evidence on the role of gender and EI in detection of deception is mixed. A key issue is that the facial processing skills required to detect deception may not be the same as those required to identify facial emotion. To test this possibility, we developed a novel facial processing task, the FDT (Face Decoding Test) that requires detection of inconsistencies between facial and verbal cues to emotion. We hypothesized that gender and ability EI would be related to performance when cues were inconsistent. We also hypothesized that gender effects would be mediated by EI, because women tend to score as more emotionally intelligent on ability tests. Data were collected from 210 participants. Analyses of the FDT suggested that EI was correlated with superior face decoding in all conditions. We also confirmed the expected gender difference, the superiority of high EI individuals, and the mediation hypothesis. Also, EI was more strongly associated with facial decoding performance in women than in men, implying there may be gender differences in strategies for processing affective cues. It is concluded that integration of emotional and cognitive cues may be a core attribute of EI that contributes to the detection of deception.
Categories: Bioscience

Pressure Pain Thresholds Increase after Preconditioning 1 Hz Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Tonya M. Moloney, Alice G. Witney

Background

The primary motor cortex (M1) is an effective target of non-invasive cortical stimulation (NICS) for pain threshold modulation. It has been suggested that the initial level of cortical excitability of M1 plays a key role in the plastic effects of NICS.

Objective

Here we investigate whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) primed 1 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) modulates experimental pressure pain thresholds and if this is related to observed alterations in cortical excitability.

Method

15 healthy, male participants received 10 min 1 mA anodal, cathodal and sham tDCS to the left M1 before 15 min 1 Hz rTMS in separate sessions over a period of 3 weeks. Motor cortical excitability was recorded at baseline, post-tDCS priming and post-rTMS through recording motor evoked potentials (MEPs) from right FDI muscle. Pressure pain thresholds were determined by quantitative sensory testing (QST) through a computerized algometer, on the palmar thenar of the right hand pre- and post-stimulation.

Results

Cathodal tDCS-primed 1 Hz-rTMS was found to reverse the expected suppressive effect of 1 Hz rTMS on cortical excitability; leading to an overall increase in activity (p<0.001) with a parallel increase in pressure pain thresholds (p<0.01). In contrast, anodal tDCS-primed 1 Hz-rTMS resulted in a corresponding decrease in cortical excitability (p<0.05), with no significant effect on pressure pain.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that priming the M1 before stimulation of 1 Hz-rTMS modulates experimental pressure pain thresholds in a safe and controlled manner, producing a form of analgesia.

Categories: Bioscience

Recent Weather Extremes and Impacts on Agricultural Production and Vector-Borne Disease Outbreak Patterns

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Assaf Anyamba, Jennifer L. Small, Seth C. Britch, Compton J. Tucker, Edwin W. Pak, Curt A. Reynolds, James Crutchfield, Kenneth J. Linthicum

We document significant worldwide weather anomalies that affected agriculture and vector-borne disease outbreaks during the 2010–2012 period. We utilized 2000–2012 vegetation index and land surface temperature data from NASA's satellite-based Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to map the magnitude and extent of these anomalies for diverse regions including the continental United States, Russia, East Africa, Southern Africa, and Australia. We demonstrate that shifts in temperature and/or precipitation have significant impacts on vegetation patterns with attendant consequences for agriculture and public health. Weather extremes resulted in excessive rainfall and flooding as well as severe drought, which caused ∼10 to 80% variation in major agricultural commodity production (including wheat, corn, cotton, sorghum) and created exceptional conditions for extensive mosquito-borne disease outbreaks of dengue, Rift Valley fever, Murray Valley encephalitis, and West Nile virus disease. Analysis of MODIS data provided a standardized method for quantifying the extreme weather anomalies observed during this period. Assessments of land surface conditions from satellite-based systems such as MODIS can be a valuable tool in national, regional, and global weather impact determinations.
Categories: Bioscience

An Evaluation of Comparability between NEISS and ICD-9-CM Injury Coding

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Meghan C. Thompson, Krista K. Wheeler, Junxin Shi, Gary A. Smith, Huiyun Xiang

Objective

To evaluate the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System’s (NEISS) comparability with a data source that uses ICD-9-CM coding.

Methods

A sample of NEISS cases from a children’s hospital in 2008 was selected, and cases were linked with their original medical record. Medical records were reviewed and an ICD-9-CM code was assigned to each case. Cases in the NEISS sample that were non-injuries by ICD-9-CM standards were identified. A bridging matrix between the NEISS and ICD-9-CM injury coding systems, by type of injury classification, was proposed and evaluated.

Results

Of the 2,890 cases reviewed, 13.32% (n = 385) were non-injuries according to the ICD-9-CM diagnosis. Using the proposed matrix, the comparability of the NEISS with ICD-9-CM coding was favorable among injury cases (κ = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.85–0.88). The distribution of injury types among the entire sample was similar for the two systems, with percentage differences ≥1% for only open wounds or amputation, poisoning, and other or unspecified injury types.

Conclusions

There is potential for conducting comparable injury research using NEISS and ICD-9-CM data. Due to the inclusion of some non-injuries in the NEISS and some differences in type of injury definitions between NEISS and ICD-9-CM coding, best practice for studies using NEISS data obtained from the CPSC should include manual review of case narratives. Use of the standardized injury and injury type definitions presented in this study will facilitate more accurate comparisons in injury research.

Categories: Bioscience

Pre-Impact Fall Detection: Optimal Sensor Positioning Based on a Machine Learning Paradigm

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Dario Martelli, Fiorenzo Artoni, Vito Monaco, Angelo Maria Sabatini, Silvestro Micera

The aim of this study was to identify the best subset of body segments that provides for a rapid and reliable detection of the transition from steady walking to a slipping event. Fifteen healthy young subjects managed unexpected perturbations during walking. Whole-body 3D kinematics was recorded and a machine learning algorithm was developed to detect perturbation events. In particular, the linear acceleration of all the body segments was parsed by Independent Component Analysis and a Neural Network was used to classify walking from unexpected perturbations. The Mean Detection Time (MDT) was 351±123 ms with an Accuracy of 95.4%. The procedure was repeated with data related to different subsets of all body segments whose variability appeared strongly influenced by the perturbation-induced dynamic modifications. Accordingly, feet and hands accounted for most data information and the performance of the algorithm were slightly reduced using their combination. Results support the hypothesis that, in the framework of the proposed approach, the information conveyed by all the body segments is redundant to achieve effective fall detection, and suitable performance can be obtained by simply observing the kinematics of upper and lower distal extremities. Future studies are required to assess the extent to which such results can be reproduced in older adults and in different experimental conditions.
Categories: Bioscience

High Serum Levels of HDV RNA Are Predictors of Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis Delta

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Raffaella Romeo, Barbara Foglieni, Giovanni Casazza, Marta Spreafico, Massimo Colombo, Daniele Prati

Chronic infection with the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is a risk factor for cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but little is known whether the outcome of hepatitis is predicted by serum markers of HDV and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The aim of the study was to investigate these correlations in 193 patients with chronic HDV infection who had been followed up for a median of 9.5 years (4.8–19.3). HDV-RNA was first measured by qualitative in-house nested RT-PCR and quantified by in-house real-time PCR. HDV RNA levels only appeared significantly associated to HCC (univariate analysis: OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.02–1.71; p = 0.037; multivariate analysis: OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.04–1.95; p = 0.03). In non-cirrhotics at first presentation (n = 105), HDV RNA levels were associated with progression to cirrhosis (univariate analysis: OR = 1.57, 95% CI 1.20–2.05, p<0.001; multivariate analysis: OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.20–2.12, p = 0.007) and development of HCC (univariate analysis: OR = 1.66, 95% CI 1.04–2.65, p = 0.033; multivariate analysis: OR = 1.88, 95% CI 1.11–3.19, p = 0.019). ROC analysis showed that approximately 600,000 HDV RNA copies/mL was the optimal cut-off value in our cohort of patients for discriminating the development of cirrhosis. High levels of HDV viremia in non-cirrhotic patients are associated with a considerable likelihood of progression to cirrhosis and the development of HCC. Once cirrhosis has developed, the role of HDV replication as a predictor of a negative outcome lessens.
Categories: Bioscience

Extensive Microbial and Functional Diversity within the Chicken Cecal Microbiome

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Martin J. Sergeant, Chrystala Constantinidou, Tristan A. Cogan, Michael R. Bedford, Charles W. Penn, Mark J. Pallen

Chickens are major source of food and protein worldwide. Feed conversion and the health of chickens relies on the largely unexplored complex microbial community that inhabits the chicken gut, including the ceca. We have carried out deep microbial community profiling of the microbiota in twenty cecal samples via 16S rRNA gene sequences and an in-depth metagenomics analysis of a single cecal microbiota. We recovered 699 phylotypes, over half of which appear to represent previously unknown species. We obtained 648,251 environmental gene tags (EGTs), the majority of which represent new species. These were binned into over two-dozen draft genomes, which included Campylobacter jejuni and Helicobacter pullorum. We found numerous polysaccharide- and oligosaccharide-degrading enzymes encoding within the metagenome, some of which appeared to be part of polysaccharide utilization systems with genetic evidence for the co-ordination of polysaccharide degradation with sugar transport and utilization. The cecal metagenome encodes several fermentation pathways leading to the production of short-chain fatty acids, including some with novel features. We found a dozen uptake hydrogenases encoded in the metagenome and speculate that these provide major hydrogen sinks within this microbial community and might explain the high abundance of several genera within this microbiome, including Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Megamonas.
Categories: Bioscience

Mismatch Negativity of Sad Syllables Is Absent in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder

March 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

by Xiaomei Pang, Jing Xu, Yi Chang, Di Tang, Ya Zheng, Yanhua Liu, Yiming Sun

Background

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is an important and highly prevalent mental disorder characterized by anhedonia and a lack of interest in everyday activities. Additionally, patients with MDD appear to have deficits in various cognitive abilities. Although a number of studies investigating the central auditory processing of low-level sound features in patients with MDD have demonstrated that this population exhibits impairments in automatic processing, the influence of emotional voice processing has yet to be addressed. To explore the automatic processing of emotional prosodies in patients with MDD, we analyzed the ability to detect automatic changes using event-related potentials (ERPs).

Method

This study included 18 patients with MDD and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Subjects were instructed to watch a silent movie but to ignore the afferent acoustic emotional prosodies presented to both ears while continuous electroencephalographic activity was synchronously recorded. Prosodies included meaningless syllables, such as “dada” spoken with happy, angry, sad, or neutral tones. The mean amplitudes of the ERPs elicited by emotional stimuli and the peak latency of the emotional differential waveforms were analyzed.

Results

The sad MMN was absent in patients with MDD, whereas the happy and angry MMN components were similar across groups. The abnormal sad emotional MMN component was not significantly correlated with the HRSD-17 and HAMA scores, respectively.

Conclusion

The data indicate that patients with MDD are impaired in their ability to automatically process sad prosody, whereas their ability to process happy and angry prosodies remains normal. The dysfunctional sad emotion-related MMN in patients with MDD were not correlated with depression symptoms. The blunted MMN of sad prosodies could be considered a trait of MDD.

Categories: Bioscience