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Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
This study aimed to assess whether increasing operative experience results in better surgical outcomes in endoscopic middle-ear surgery.
A retrospective single-institution cohort study was performed. Patients underwent endoscopic tympanoplasty between May 2013 and April 2019 performed by the senior surgeon or a trainee surgeon under direct supervision from the senior surgeon. Following data collection, statistical analysis compared success rates between early (learning curve) surgical procedures and later (experienced) tympanoplasties.
In total, 157 patients (86 male, 71 female), with a mean age of 41.6 years, were included. The patients were followed up for an average of 43.2 weeks. The overall primary closure rate was 90.0 per cent.
This study demonstrates an early learning curve for endoscopic ear surgery that improves with surgical experience. Adoption of the endoscopic technique did not impair the success rates of tympanoplasty.
Postoperative cognitive impairment is among the most common medical complications associated with surgical interventions – particularly in elderly patients. In our aging society, it is an urgent medical need to determine preoperative individual risk prediction to allow more accurate cost–benefit decisions prior to elective surgeries. So far, risk prediction is mainly based on clinical parameters. However, these parameters only give a rough estimate of the individual risk. At present, there are no molecular or neuroimaging biomarkers available to improve risk prediction and little is known about the etiology and pathophysiology of this clinical condition. In this short review, we summarize the current state of knowledge and briefly present the recently started BioCog project (Biomarker Development for Postoperative Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly), which is funded by the European Union. It is the goal of this research and development (R&D) project, which involves academic and industry partners throughout Europe, to deliver a multivariate algorithm based on clinical assessments as well as molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers to overcome the currently unsatisfying situation.
Psychotropic prescription rates continue to increase in the United States (USA). Few studies have investigated whether social-structural factors may play a role in psychotropic medication use independent of mental illness. Food insecurity is prevalent among people living with HIV in the USA and has been associated with poor mental health. We investigated whether food insecurity was associated with psychotropic medication use independent of the symptoms of depression and anxiety among women living with HIV in the USA.
We used cross-sectional data from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a nationwide cohort study. Food security (FS) was the primary explanatory variable, measured using the Household Food Security Survey Module. First, we used multivariable linear regressions to test whether FS was associated with symptoms of depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression [CESD] score), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD-7 score) and mental health-related quality of life (MOS-HIV Mental Health Summary score; MHS). Next, we examined associations of FS with the use of any psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, sedatives and antipsychotics, using multivariable logistic regressions adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, income, education and alcohol and substance use. In separate models, we additionally adjusted for symptoms of depression (CESD score) and anxiety (GAD-7 score).
Of the 905 women in the sample, two-thirds were African-American. Lower FS (i.e. worse food insecurity) was associated with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety in a dose–response relationship. For the psychotropic medication outcomes, marginal and low FS were associated with 2.06 (p < 0.001; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36–3.13) and 1.99 (p < 0.01; 95% CI = 1.26–3.15) times higher odds of any psychotropic medication use, respectively, before adjusting for depression and anxiety. The association of very low FS with any psychotropic medication use was not statistically significant. A similar pattern was found for antidepressant and sedative use. After additionally adjusting for CESD and GAD-7 scores, marginal FS remained associated with 1.93 (p < 0.05; 95% CI = 1.16–3.19) times higher odds of any psychotropic medication use. Very low FS, conversely, was significantly associated with lower odds of antidepressant use (adjusted odds ratio = 0.42; p < 0.05; 95% CI = 0.19–0.96).
Marginal FS was associated with higher odds of using psychotropic medications independent of depression and anxiety, while very low FS was associated with lower odds. These complex findings may indicate that people experiencing very low FS face barriers to accessing mental health services, while those experiencing marginal FS who do access services are more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications for distress arising from social and structural factors.
Background: Biallelic variants in POLR1C are associated with POLR3-related leukodystrophy (POLR3-HLD), or 4H leukodystrophy (Hypomyelination, Hypodontia, Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism), and Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS). The clinical spectrum of POLR3-HLD caused by variants in this gene has not been described. Methods: A cross-sectional observational study involving 25 centers worldwide was conducted between 2016 and 2018. The clinical, radiologic and molecular features of 23 unreported and previously reported cases of POLR3-HLD caused by POLR1C variants were reviewed. Results: Most participants presented between birth and age 6 years with motor difficulties. Neurological deterioration was seen during childhood, suggesting a more severe phenotype than previously described. The dental, ocular and endocrine features often seen in POLR3-HLD were not invariably present. Five patients (22%) had a combination of hypomyelinating leukodystrophy and abnormal craniofacial development, including one individual with clear TCS features. Several cases did not exhibit all the typical radiologic characteristics of POLR3-HLD. A total of 29 different pathogenic variants in POLR1C were identified, including 13 new disease-causing variants. Conclusions: Based on the largest cohort of patients to date, these results suggest novel characteristics of POLR1C-related disorder, with a spectrum of clinical involvement characterized by hypomyelinating leukodystrophy with or without abnormal craniofacial development reminiscent of TCS.
Externalizing disorders are known to be partly heritable, but the biological pathways linking genetic risk to the manifestation of these costly behaviors remain under investigation. This study sought to identify neural phenotypes associated with genomic vulnerability for externalizing disorders.
One-hundred fifty-five White, non-Hispanic veterans were genotyped using a genome-wide array and underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Genetic susceptibility was assessed using an independently developed polygenic score (PS) for externalizing, and functional neural networks were identified using graph theory based network analysis. Tasks of inhibitory control and psychiatric diagnosis (alcohol/substance use disorders) were used to measure externalizing phenotypes.
A polygenic externalizing disorder score (PS) predicted connectivity in a brain circuit (10 nodes, nine links) centered on left amygdala that included several cortical [bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) pars triangularis, left rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC)] and subcortical (bilateral amygdala, hippocampus, and striatum) regions. Directional analyses revealed that bilateral amygdala influenced left prefrontal cortex (IFG) in participants scoring higher on the externalizing PS, whereas the opposite direction of influence was observed for those scoring lower on the PS. Polygenic variation was also associated with higher Participation Coefficient for bilateral amygdala and left rACC, suggesting that genes related to externalizing modulated the extent to which these nodes functioned as communication hubs.
Findings suggest that externalizing polygenic risk is associated with disrupted connectivity in a neural network implicated in emotion regulation, impulse control, and reinforcement learning. Results provide evidence that this network represents a genetically associated neurobiological vulnerability for externalizing disorders.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress/trauma exposure are cross-sectionally associated with advanced DNA methylation age relative to chronological age. However, longitudinal inquiry and examination of associations between advanced DNA methylation age and a broader range of psychiatric disorders is lacking. The aim of this study was to examine if PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety, and alcohol-use disorders predicted acceleration of DNA methylation age over time (i.e. an increasing pace, or rate of advancement, of the epigenetic clock).
Genome-wide DNA methylation and a comprehensive set of psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses were assessed in 179 Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans who completed two assessments over the course of approximately 2 years. Two DNA methylation age indices (Horvath and Hannum), each a weighted index of an array of genome-wide DNA methylation probes, were quantified. The pace of the epigenetic clock was operationalized as change in DNA methylation age as a function of time between assessments.
Analyses revealed that alcohol-use disorders (p = 0.001) and PTSD avoidance and numbing symptoms (p = 0.02) at Time 1 were associated with an increasing pace of the epigenetic clock over time, per the Horvath (but not the Hannum) index of cellular aging.
This is the first study to suggest that posttraumatic psychopathology is longitudinally associated with a quickened pace of the epigenetic clock. Results raise the possibility that accelerated cellular aging is a common biological consequence of stress-related psychopathology, which carries implications for identifying mechanisms of stress-related cellular aging and developing interventions to slow its pace.
Traumatic stressors during childhood and adolescence are associated with psychopathology, mostly studied in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We investigated broader associations of traumatic stress exposure with psychopathology and cognition in a youth community sample.
The Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (N = 9498) is an investigation of clinical and neurobehavioral phenotypes in a diverse (56% Caucasian, 33% African American, 11% other) US youth community population (aged 8–21). Participants were ascertained through children's hospital pediatric (not psychiatric) healthcare network in 2009–2011. Structured psychiatric evaluation included screening for lifetime exposure to traumatic stressors, and a neurocognitive battery was administered.
Exposure rate to traumatic stressful events was high (none, N = 5204; one, N = 2182; two, N = 1092; three or more, N = 830). Higher stress load was associated with increased psychopathology across all clinical domains evaluated: mood/anxiety (standardized β = .378); psychosis spectrum (β = .360); externalizing behaviors (β = .311); and fear (β = .256) (controlling for covariates, all p < 0.001). Associations remained significant controlling for lifetime PTSD and depression. Exposure to high-stress load was robustly associated with suicidal ideation and cannabis use (odds ratio compared with non-exposed 5.3 and 3.2, respectively, both p < 0.001). Among youths who experienced traumatic stress (N = 4104), history of assaultive trauma was associated with greater psychopathology and, in males, vulnerability to psychosis and externalizing symptoms. Stress load was negatively associated with performance on executive functioning, complex reasoning, and social cognition.
Traumatic stress exposure in community non-psychiatric help-seeking youth is substantial, and is associated with more severe psychopathology and neurocognitive deficits across domains, beyond PTSD and depression.
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.
The SkyMapper Transient survey (SMT) is exploring variability in the southern sky by performing (a) a rolling search to discover and study supernovæ, and (b) a Target of Opportunity programme that uses the robotic SkyMapper Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. The supernova survey is obtaining a non-targeted sample of Type Ia supernovæ (SNe Ia) at low redshifts, z < 0.1, and studying other interesting transients found with the search strategy. We have a Target of Opportunity programme with an automatic response mechanism to search for optical counterparts to gravitational-wave and fast radio-burst events; it benefits from SkyMapper’s large field of view of 5.7 sq. deg. and a rapid data reduction pipeline.
We present first results of the SMT survey. The SMT pipeline can process and obtain potential candidates within 12 hours of observation. It disentangles real transients from processing artefacts using a machine-learning algorithm. To date, SMT has discovered over 60 spectroscopically confirmed supernovæ, several peculiar objects, and over 40 SNe Ia including one (SNIa 2016hhd) which was found within the first few days of explosion. We have also participated in searches for optical counterparts of gravitational waves, fast radio bursts and other transients, and have published observations of the optical counterpart of the gravitational-wave event GW170817. We also participate in coordinated observations with the Deeper Wider Faster programme, and the Kepler K2 cosmology project.
Depression and obesity are highly prevalent, and major impacts on public health frequently co-occur. Recently, we reported that having depression moderates the effect of the FTO gene, suggesting its implication in the association between depression and obesity.
To confirm these findings by investigating the FTO polymorphism rs9939609 in new cohorts, and subsequently in a meta-analysis.
The sample consists of 6902 individuals with depression and 6799 controls from three replication cohorts and two original discovery cohorts. Linear regression models were performed to test for association between rs9939609 and body mass index (BMI), and for the interaction between rs9939609 and depression status for an effect on BMI. Fixed and random effects meta-analyses were performed using METASOFT.
In the replication cohorts, we observed a significant interaction between FTO, BMI and depression with fixed effects meta-analysis (β=0.12, P = 2.7 × 10−4) and with the Han/Eskin random effects method (P = 1.4 × 10−7) but not with traditional random effects (β = 0.1, P = 0.35). When combined with the discovery cohorts, random effects meta-analysis also supports the interaction (β = 0.12, P = 0.027) being highly significant based on the Han/Eskin model (P = 6.9 × 10−8). On average, carriers of the risk allele who have depression have a 2.2% higher BMI for each risk allele, over and above the main effect of FTO.
This meta-analysis provides additional support for a significant interaction between FTO, depression and BMI, indicating that depression increases the effect of FTO on BMI. The findings provide a useful starting point in understanding the biological mechanism involved in the association between obesity and depression.
The SkyMapper 1.3 m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory has now begun regular operations. Alongside the Southern Sky Survey, a comprehensive digital survey of the entire southern sky, SkyMapper will carry out a search for supernovae and other transients. The search strategy, covering a total footprint area of ~2 000 deg2 with a cadence of ⩽5 d, is optimised for discovery and follow-up of low-redshift type Ia supernovae to constrain cosmic expansion and peculiar velocities. We describe the search operations and infrastructure, including a parallelised software pipeline to discover variable objects in difference imaging; simulations of the performance of the survey over its lifetime; public access to discovered transients; and some first results from the Science Verification data.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
Data from the in-school sample of the PROSPER preventive intervention dissemination trial were used to investigate associations between alcohol dehydrogenase genes and alcohol use across adolescence, and whether substance misuse interventions in the 6th and 7th grades (targeting parenting, family functioning, social norms, youth decision making, and peer group affiliations) modified associations between these genes and adolescent use. Primary analyses were run on a sample of 1,885 individuals and included three steps. First, we estimated unconditional growth curve models with separate slopes for alcohol use from 6th to 9th grade and from 9th to 12th grade, as well as the intercept at Grade 9. Second, we used intervention condition and three alcohol dehydrogenase genes, 1B (ADH1B), 1C (ADH1C), and 4 (ADH4) to predict variance in slopes and intercept. Third, we examined whether genetic influences on model slopes and intercepts were moderated by intervention condition. The results indicated that the increase in alcohol use was greater in early adolescence than in middle adolescence; two of the genes, ADH1B and ADH1C, significantly predicted early adolescent slope and Grade 9 intercept, and associations between ADH1C and both early adolescent slope and intercept were significantly different across control and intervention conditions.
This study aimed to evaluate the results of revision radical cavity surgery with mastoid obliteration using a standardised grading scheme.
A retrospective study was performed of 121 patients (122 ears) with chronically draining ears who underwent revision radical cavity surgery with mastoid obliteration between 2007 and 2013. Surgical indications, patient characteristics, pre- and post-operative Merchant grade, and surgical outcomes were recorded. The main outcome measures were presence of a dry ear, time for complete re-epithelialisation, presence of residual or recurrent disease, and need for revision surgery.
In the 5-year follow-up group (n = 31), dry ears were found in 97 per cent after 6 minor revisions and cholesteatoma-free ears were found in 97 per cent. In the total cohort, dry ears were found in 93 per cent after nine revisions and cholesteatoma-free ears were found in 98 per cent. The median time for complete re-epithelialisation was eight weeks. There were no major complications.
In terms of the dry ear rate, residual cholesteatoma and time to complete epithelialisation, revision radical cavity surgery with mastoid obliteration produces very good results in concordance with published results, despite most patients suffering from very troublesome cavities prior to surgery.
Improving children's learning and development in conflict-affected countries is critically important for breaking the intergenerational transmission of violence and poverty. Yet there is currently a stunning lack of rigorous evidence as to whether and how programs to improve learning and development in conflict-affected countries actually work to bolster children's academic learning and socioemotional development. This study tests a theory of change derived from the fields of developmental psychopathology and social ecology about how a school-based universal socioemotional learning program, the International Rescue Committee's Learning to Read in a Healing Classroom (LRHC), impacts children's learning and development. The study was implemented in three conflict-affected provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and employed a cluster-randomized waitlist control design to estimate impact. Using multilevel structural equation modeling techniques, we found support for the central pathways in the LRHC theory of change. Specifically, we found that LRHC differentially impacted dimensions of the quality of the school and classroom environment at the end of the first year of the intervention, and that in turn these dimensions of quality were differentially associated with child academic and socioemotional outcomes. Future implications and directions are discussed.
Not only is depression associated with increased inflammation but inflammation is a risk factor for the genesis of depression. Many of the environmental risk factors for depression are transduced through inflammatory signaling. Anti-inflammatory agents show promise for the management of depression in preclinical, epidemiological, and early clinical studies. This opens the door to the potential for anti-inflammatory agents to treat and prevent depression. There are no evidence-based pharmacotherapies for depression prevention.
ASPREE-D, aspirin in the prevention of depression in the elderly, is a sub study of ASPREE, which explores the potential of aspirin to prevent a range of inflammation related disorders in the elderly. With a sample size of 19,114, and a duration of 5 years, this placebo controlled study will be one of the largest randomized controlled trials in psychiatry and will provide definitive evidence on the ability of aspirin to prevent depression.
This paper presents the rationale for the study and presents a summary of the study design.
ASPREE-D may not only define novel therapy but will provide mechanistic proof of concept of the role of inflammation in depression.