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Use of the herbicide atrazine (ATR) is banned in the European Union; yet, it is still widely used in the USA and Australia. ATR is known to alter testosterone and oestrogen production and thus reproductive characteristics in numerous species. In this proof of concept study, we examined the effect of ATR exposure, at a supra-environmental dose (5 mg/kg bw/day), beginning on E9.5 in utero, prior to sexual differentiation of the reproductive tissues, until 26 weeks of age, on the development of the mouse penis. Notably, this is the first study to specifically investigate whether ATR can affect penis characteristics. We show that ATR exposure, beginning in utero, causes a shortening (demasculinisation) of penis structures and increases the incidence of hypospadias in mice. These data indicate the need for further studies of ATR on human reproductive development and fertility, especially considering its continued and widespread use.
Introduction: Oxygen is commonly administered to prehospital patients presenting with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We conducted a systematic review to determine if oxygen administration, in AMI, impacts patient outcomes. Methods: We conducted a systematic search using MeSH terms and keywords in Medline, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central, clinicaltrials.gov and ISRCTN for relevant randomized controlled trials and observational studies comparing oxygen administration and no oxygen administration. The outcomes of interest were: mortality (≤30 days, in-hospital, and intermediate 2-11 months), infarct size, and major adverse cardiac events (MACE). Risk of Bias assessments were performed and GRADE methodology was employed to assess quality and overall confidence in the effect estimate. A meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5 software. Results: Our search yielded 1192 citations of which 48 studies were reviewed as full texts and a total of 8 studies were included in the analysis. All evidence was considered low or very low quality. Five studies reported on mortality finding low quality evidence of no benefit or harm. Low quality evidence demonstrated no benefit or harm from supplemental oxygen administration. Similarly, no benefit or harm was found in MACE or infarct size (very low quality). Normoxia was defined as oxygen saturation measured via pulse oximetry at ≥90% in one recent study and ≥94% in another. Conclusion: We found low and very low quality evidence that the administration of supplemental oxygen to normoxic patients experiencing AMI, provides no clear harm nor benefit for mortality or MACE. The evidence on infarct size was inconsistent and warrants further prospective examination.
Introduction: Opioids are routinely administered for analgesia to prehospital patients experiencing chest discomfort from acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We conducted a systematic review to determine if opioid administration impacts patient outcomes. Methods: We conducted a systematic search using MeSH terms and keywords in Medline, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central and Clinicaltrials.gov for relevant randomized controlled trials and observational studies comparing opioid administration in AMI patients from 1990 to 2017. The outcomes of interest were: all-cause short-term mortality (≤30 days), major adverse cardiac events (MACE), platelet activity and aggregation, immediate adverse events, infarct size, and analgesia. Included studies were hand searched for additional citations. Risk of Bias assessments were performed and GRADE methodology was employed to assess quality and overall confidence in the effect estimate. Results: Our search yielded 3001 citations of which 19 studies were reviewed as full texts and a total of 9 studies were included in the analysis. The studies predominantly reported on morphine as the opioid. Five studies reported on mortality (≤30 days), seven on MACE, four on platelet activity and aggregation, two on immediate adverse events, two on infarct size and none on analgesic effect. We found low quality evidence suggesting no benefit or harm in terms of mortality or MACE. However, low quality evidence indicates that opioids increase infarct size. Low-quality evidence also shows reduced serum P2Y12 (eg: clopidogrel and ticagrelor) active metabolite levels and increased platelet reactivity in the first several hours post administration following an increase in vomiting. Conclusion: We find low and very low quality evidence that the administration of opioids in STEMI may be adversely related to vomiting and some surrogate outcomes including increased infarct size, reduced serum P2Y12 levels, and increased platelet activity. We found no clear benefit or harm on patient-oriented clinical outcomes including mortality.
Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines are consistently reported in schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar-I disorder (BD), as well as among individuals who have been exposed to childhood trauma. However, higher levels of inflammatory markers in these disorders are yet to be investigated with respect to levels of exposure to different types of childhood trauma.
Participants were 68 cases with a diagnosis of schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder (SZ), 69 cases with a diagnosis of psychotic BD and 72 healthy controls (HC). Serum levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were quantified, and childhood trauma exposure was assessed with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire.
The SZ group had significantly higher levels of IL-6, TNF-α and CRP when compared with the HC group (all p < 0.05, d = 0.41–0.63), as well as higher levels of TNF-α when compared with the BD group (p = 0.014, d = 0.50); there were no differences between the BD and HC groups for any markers. Exposure to sexual abuse was positively associated (standardised β = 0.326, t = 2.459, p = 0.018) with levels of CRP in the SZ group, but there were no significant associations between any form of trauma exposure and cytokine levels in the HC or BD groups.
These results contribute to the evidence for a chronic state of inflammation in SZ but not BD cases. Differential associations between trauma exposure and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines across the diagnostic categories suggest that trauma may impact biological (stress and immune) systems differently in these patient groups.
Breakthrough Listen is a 10-yr initiative to search for signatures of technologies created by extraterrestrial civilisations at radio and optical wavelengths. Here, we detail the digital data recording system deployed for Breakthrough Listen observations at the 64-m aperture CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The recording system currently implements two modes: a dual-polarisation, 1.125-GHz bandwidth mode for single-beam observations, and a 26-input, 308-MHz bandwidth mode for the 21-cm multibeam receiver. The system is also designed to support a 3-GHz single-beam mode for the forthcoming Parkes ultra-wideband feed. In this paper, we present details of the system architecture, provide an overview of hardware and software, and present initial performance results.
Nutritional management of pigs to optimise growth demands pig-specific, time-specific and place-specific determination and provision of nutritional requirement. These elements need to be incorporated into response prediction models that operate in a real-time (not retrospective) closed-loop control environment. This implies appropriate means for the on-line measurement of response to change in nutrient provision, and the simultaneous means for manipulation of feeding level and feed quality. The paper describes how response prediction modelling and response measurement may now be achieved. Optimisation may be pursued with mixed objectives, including those of production efficiency and environmental protection.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
Integrated management systems (IMS) for pigs offer the prospects of optimising meat production and minimising nitrogenous pollution through closed-loop control of pig growth by nutritional control (Whittemore, et al., 2001). Such an IMS requires a real-time sensor system, a nutritional model which is optimised in response to data collected in by the sensor system, and a control system which uses forward predictions of the model to predict the nutritional regime required to satisfy growth and pollution targets. An experiment was carried out to determine the accuracy to which a novel IMS system can direct pig weight gain and fatness towards preset targets through nutritional control.
The purpose of an integrated management system is to optimise both pig performance and environmental protection. A major impediment to this process has been the inability to measure and control the production process in real time, for specific and contemporary pig batches. Optimisation thus requires in-line measurement of pig growth performance, together with the means to change performance with adjustments to feed quantity and quality. This report deals with the use of visual image analysis (VIA) to provide the first of these; measurement of growth. VIA determines, continuously and in-line, the size and shape of the plan view of the pig as it stands at the feeder. Three seminal questions are here addressed. (i) can VIA be used to provide a reliable measure of pig weight, and (ii) how many days are required to elapse before a change in size can be reliably determined and how does the VIA system compare with daily weighing by a conventional weigh-scale, and (iii) can VIA sort pigs according to their shape?
The Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST) is an 18000 m2 radio telescope located 40 km from Canberra, Australia. Its operating band (820–851 MHz) is partly allocated to telecommunications, making radio astronomy challenging. We describe how the deployment of new digital receivers, Field Programmable Gate Array-based filterbanks, and server-class computers equipped with 43 Graphics Processing Units, has transformed the telescope into a versatile new instrument (UTMOST) for studying the radio sky on millisecond timescales. UTMOST has 10 times the bandwidth and double the field of view compared to the MOST, and voltage record and playback capability has facilitated rapid implementaton of many new observing modes, most of which operate commensally. UTMOST can simultaneously excise interference, make maps, coherently dedisperse pulsars, and perform real-time searches of coherent fan-beams for dispersed single pulses. UTMOST operates as a robotic facility, deciding how to efficiently target pulsars and how long to stay on source via real-time pulsar folding, while searching for single pulse events. Regular timing of over 300 pulsars has yielded seven pulsar glitches and three Fast Radio Bursts during commissioning. UTMOST demonstrates that if sufficient signal processing is applied to voltage streams, innovative science remains possible even in hostile radio frequency environments.
In our attempt to investigate the basic active galactic nucleus (AGN) paradigm requiring a centrally located supermassive black hole (SMBH), a close to Keplerian accretion disk and a jet perpendicular to its plane, we have searched for radio continuum in galaxies with H2O megamasers in their disks. We observed 18 such galaxies with the Very Large Baseline Array in C band (5 GHz, ~2 mas resolution) and we detected 5 galaxies at 8 σ or higher levels. For those sources for which the maser data is available, the positions of masers and those of the 5 GHz radio continuum sources coincide within the uncertainties, and the radio continuum is perpendicular to the maser disk’s orientation within the position angle uncertainties.
Since the IAU (maser-)Symposium 287 in Stellenbosch/South Africa (Jan. 2012), great progress has been achieved in studying extragalactic maser sources. Sensitivity has reached a level allowing for dedicated maser surveys of extragalactic objects. These included, during the last years, water vapor (H2O), methanol (CH3OH), and formaldehyde (H2CO), while surveys related to hydroxyl (OH), cyanoacetylene (HC3N) and ammonia (NH3) may soon become (again) relevant. Overall, with the upgraded Very Large Array (VLA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Synthesis Telescope) and the low frequency arrays APERTIF (APERture Tile in Focus), ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) and MeerKAT (Meer Karoo Array Telescope), extragalactic maser studies are expected to flourish during the upcoming years. The following article provides a brief sketch of past achievements, ongoing projects and future perspectives.
The class of radio transients called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) encompasses enigmatic single pulses, each unique in its own way, hindering a consensus for their origin. The key to demystifying FRBs lies in discovering many of them in order to identity commonalities – and in real time, in order to find potential counterparts at other wavelengths. The recently upgraded UTMOST in Australia, is undergoing a backend transformation to rise as a fast transient detection machine. The first interferometric detections of FRBs with UTMOST, place their origin beyond the near-field region of the telescope thus ruling out local sources of interference as a possible origin. We have localised these bursts to much better than the ones discovered at the Parkes radio telescope and have plans to upgrade UTMOST to be capable of much better localisation still.
Adolescence and young adulthood carry risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviours (STB). An increasing subpopulation of young people consists of college students. STB prevalence estimates among college students vary widely, precluding a validated point of reference. In addition, little is known on predictors for between-study heterogeneity in STB prevalence.
A systematic literature search identified 36 college student samples that were assessed for STB outcomes, representing a total of 634 662 students [median sample size = 2082 (IQR 353–5200); median response rate = 74% (IQR 37–89%)]. We used random-effects meta-analyses to obtain pooled STB prevalence estimates, and multivariate meta-regression models to identify predictors of between-study heterogeneity.
Pooled prevalence estimates of lifetime suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts were 22.3% [95% confidence interval (CI) 19.5–25.3%], 6.1% (95% CI 4.8–7.7%), and 3.2% (95% CI 2.2–4.5%), respectively. For 12-month prevalence, this was 10.6% (95% CI 9.1–12.3%), 3.0% (95% CI 2.1–4.0%), and 1.2% (95% CI 0.8–1.6%), respectively. Measures of heterogeneity were high for all outcomes (I2 = 93.2–99.9%), indicating substantial between-study heterogeneity not due to sampling error. Pooled estimates were generally higher for females, as compared with males (risk ratios in the range 1.12–1.67). Higher STB estimates were also found in samples with lower response rates, when using broad definitions of suicidality, and in samples from Asia.
Based on the currently available evidence, STB seem to be common among college students. Future studies should: (1) incorporate refusal conversion strategies to obtain adequate response rates, and (2) use more fine-grained measures to assess suicidal ideation.
Alcohol use is a well-documented risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV); however, the majority of research comes from high-income countries.
Using nationally representative data from 86 024 women that participated in the Demographic and Health Surveys, we evaluated the relationship between male partner alcohol use and experiencing IPV in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Using multilevel mixed-effects models, we calculated the within-country, between-country, and contextual effects of alcohol use on IPV.
Prevalence of partner alcohol use and IPV ranged substantially across countries (3–62 and 11–60%, respectively). Partner alcohol use was associated with a significant increase in the odds of reporting IPV for all 14 countries included in this analysis. Furthermore, the relationship between alcohol use and IPV, although largely explained by partner alcohol use, was also attributable to overall prevalence of alcohol use in a given country. The partner alcohol use–IPV relationship was moderated by socioeconomic status (SES): among women with a partner who used alcohol those with lower SES had higher odds of experiencing IPV than women with higher SES.
Results of this study suggest that partner alcohol use is a robust correlate of IPV in SSA; however, drinking norms may independently relate to IPV and confound the relationship between partner alcohol use and IPV. These findings motivate future research employing experimental and longitudinal designs to examine alcohol use as a modifiable risk factor of IPV and as a novel target for treatment and prevention research to reduce IPV in SSA.
Placental transport of vitamin D and other nutrients (e.g. amino acids, fats and glucose) to the fetus is sensitive to maternal and fetal nutritional cues. We studied the effect of maternal calorific restriction on fetal vitamin D status and the placental expression of genes for nutrient transport [aromatic T-type amino acid transporter-1 (TAT-1); triglyceride hydrolase/lipoprotein uptake facilitator lipoprotein lipase (LPL)] and vitamin D homeostasis [CYP27B1; vitamin D receptor (VDR)], and their association with markers of fetal cardiovascular function and skeletal muscle growth. Pregnant sheep received 100% total metabolizable energy (ME) requirements (control), 40% total ME requirements peri-implantation [PI40, 1–31 days of gestation (dGA)] or 50% total ME requirements in late gestation (L, 104–127 dGA). Fetal, but not maternal, plasma 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25OHD) concentration was lower in PI40 and L maternal undernutrition groups (P<0.01) compared with the control group at 0.86 gestation. PI40 group placental CYP27B1 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were increased (P<0.05) compared with the control group. Across all groups, higher fetal plasma 25OHD concentration was associated with higher skeletal muscle myofibre and capillary density (P<0.05). In the placenta, higher VDR mRNA levels were associated with higher TAT-1 (P<0.05) and LPL (P<0.01) mRNA levels. In the PI40 maternal undernutrition group only, reduced fetal plasma 25OHD concentration may be mediated in part by altered placental CYP27B1. The association between placental mRNA levels of VDR and nutrient transport genes suggests a way in which the placenta may integrate nutritional cues in the face of maternal dietary challenges and alter fetal physiology.
The collective response of electrons in an ultrathin foil target irradiated by an ultraintense (
) laser pulse is investigated experimentally and via 3D particle-in-cell simulations. It is shown that if the target is sufficiently thin that the laser induces significant radiation pressure, but not thin enough to become relativistically transparent to the laser light, the resulting relativistic electron beam is elliptical, with the major axis of the ellipse directed along the laser polarization axis. When the target thickness is decreased such that it becomes relativistically transparent early in the interaction with the laser pulse, diffraction of the transmitted laser light occurs through a so called ‘relativistic plasma aperture’, inducing structure in the spatial-intensity profile of the beam of energetic electrons. It is shown that the electron beam profile can be modified by variation of the target thickness and degree of ellipticity in the laser polarization.
Toxigenic strains of Vibrio cholerae serogroups O1 and O139 have caused cholera epidemics, but other serogroups – such as O75 or O141 – can also produce cholera toxin and cause severe watery diarrhoea similar to cholera. We describe 31 years of surveillance for toxigenic non-O1, non-O139 infections in the United States and map these infections to the state where the exposure probably originated. While serogroups O75 and O141 are closely related pathogens, they differ in how and where they infect people. Oysters were the main vehicle for O75 infection. The vehicles for O141 infection include oysters, clams, and freshwater in lakes and rivers. The patients infected with serogroup O75 who had food traceback information available ate raw oysters from Florida. Patients infected with O141 ate oysters from Florida and clams from New Jersey, and those who only reported being exposed to freshwater were exposed in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and Texas. Improving the safety of oysters, specifically, should help prevent future illnesses from these toxigenic strains and similar pathogenic Vibrio species. Post-harvest processing of raw oysters, such as individual quick freezing, heat-cool pasteurization, and high hydrostatic pressurization, should be considered.