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Dirofilariosis caused by Dirofilaria immitis (heartworm) is a zoonosis, considered an endemic disease of dogs and cats in several countries of Western Europe, including Portugal. This study assesses the levels of D. immitis exposure in humans from Northern Portugal, to which end, 668 inhabitants of several districts belonging to two different climate areas (Csa: Bragança, Vila Real and Csb: Aveiro, Braga, Porto, Viseu) were tested for anti-D. immitis and anti-Wolbachia surface proteins (WSP) antibodies. The overall prevalence of seropositivity to both anti-D. immitis and WSP antibodies was 6.1%, which demonstrated the risk of infection with D. immitis in humans living in Northern Portugal. This study, carried out in a Western European country, contributes to the characterisation of the risk of infection with D. immitis among human population in this region of the continent. From a One Health point of view, the results of the current work also support the close relationship between dogs and people as a risk factor for human infection
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
We evaluated the effects of cattle manure and inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in maize plants growing in a semiarid area of Brazilian north-east in 2012 and 2013. Three isolates of AMF (Acaulospora longula URM-FMA 07 and URM-FMA 03, Claroideoglomus etunicatum UNIVASF 06A) were used, with or without the application of cattle manure, during two growing cycles. In the first year, significant effects of inoculation were detected for straw yield only when the manure was applied. In the second year, there was an interaction between fertilisation and inoculation for plant height and grain yield, with the highest values in the fertilised treatments. Inoculation with A. longula demonstrated that mycorrhizal inoculation in field-grown plants could be an alternative management for improving plant growth and grain yield, reducing the use of cattle manure. The AMF sporulation and mycorrhizal colonisation were improved after inoculation, and A. longula URM-FMA 07 increased sporulation by more than 15 times while inoculation with C. etunicatum increased sporulation by more than 3 times. The mycorrhizal inoculation is a management practice that can be useful for recovering or maintaining AMF infective propagules in soil, showing potential to be used in large-scale field conditions in Brazilian semiarid. Although mycorrhisation presents high agricultural relevance due to benefits promoted to the soil and plants, the knowledge about the factors influencing the interactions among microorganisms, soil and plants need to be broadened aiming to achieve successful crop management in semiarid regions.
The clinical manifestation and course of Leishmania infections depend on factors such as species, virulence and host-immunity. Although trypanosomatids are considered to have clonal propagation, genetic hybridization has produced successful natural hybrid lineages. Hybrids displaying strong selective advantages may have an impact on pathogenesis and the eco-epidemiology of leishmaniasis. Thus, characterization of phenotypic properties of Leishmania hybrids could bring significant insight into the biology, infectivity, pathogenicity and transmission dynamics of these atypical strains. The present study focuses on phenotypic features and survival capacity of Leishmania infantum/Leishmania major hybrid isolates as compared with representative putative parental species, L. infantum and L. major. In vitro assays (growth kinetics, susceptibility to different conditions) and in vivo infection (parasite detection and histopathological alterations) showed that hybrids present higher growth capacity and decreased susceptibility to reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, evaluation of infected spleen tissue suggests that hybrids induce a stronger immune reaction than their putative parents, leading to the development of white pulp hyperplasia in B-lymphocyte compartments. Overall, these hybrids have shown high plasticity in terms of their general behaviour within the different phenotypic parameters, suggesting that they might have acquired genetic features conferring different mechanisms to evade host cells.
Recent open-label trials show that psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, hold promise as fast-onset antidepressants in treatment-resistant depression.
To test the antidepressant effects of ayahuasca, we conducted a parallel-arm, double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in 29 patients with treatment-resistant depression. Patients received a single dose of either ayahuasca or placebo. We assessed changes in depression severity with the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Hamilton Depression Rating scale at baseline, and at 1 (D1), 2 (D2), and 7 (D7) days after dosing.
We observed significant antidepressant effects of ayahuasca when compared with placebo at all-time points. MADRS scores were significantly lower in the ayahuasca group compared with placebo at D1 and D2 (p = 0.04), and at D7 (p < 0.0001). Between-group effect sizes increased from D1 to D7 (D1: Cohen's d = 0.84; D2: Cohen's d = 0.84; D7: Cohen's d = 1.49). Response rates were high for both groups at D1 and D2, and significantly higher in the ayahuasca group at D7 (64% v. 27%; p = 0.04). Remission rate showed a trend toward significance at D7 (36% v. 7%, p = 0.054).
To our knowledge, this is the first controlled trial to test a psychedelic substance in treatment-resistant depression. Overall, this study brings new evidence supporting the safety and therapeutic value of ayahuasca, dosed within an appropriate setting, to help treat depression. This study is registered at http://clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02914769).