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Wholegrain oats are known to modulate the human gut microbiota and have prebiotic properties (increase the growth of some health-promoting bacterial genera within the colon). Research to date mainly attributes these effects to the fibre content; however, oat is also a rich dietary source of polyphenols, which may contribute to the positive modulation of gut microbiota. In vitro anaerobic batch-culture experiments were performed over 24 h to evaluate the impact of two different doses (1 and 3 % (w/v)) of oat bran, matched concentrations of β-glucan extract or polyphenol mix, on the human faecal microbiota composition using 16S RNA gene sequencing and SCFA analysis. Supplementation with oats increased the abundance of Proteobacteria (P <0·01) at 10 h, Bacteroidetes (P <0·05) at 24 h and concentrations of acetic and propionic acid increased at 10 and 24 h compared with the NC. Fermentation of the 1 % (w/v) oat bran resulted in significant increase in SCFA production at 24 h (86 (sd 27) v. 28 (sd 5) mm; P <0·05) and a bifidogenic effect, increasing the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium unassigned at 10 h and Bifidobacterium adolescentis (P <0·05) at 10 and 24 h compared with NC. Considering the β-glucan treatment induced an increase in the phylum Bacteroidetes at 24 h, it explains the Bacteriodetes effects of oats as a food matrix. The polyphenol mix induced an increase in Enterobacteriaceae family at 24 h. In conclusion, in this study, we found that oats increased bifidobacteria, acetic acid and propionic acid, and this is mediated by the synergy of all oat compounds within the complex food matrix, rather than its main bioactive β-glucan or polyphenols. Thus, oats as a whole food led to the greatest impact on the microbiota.
Cardiac involvement has been reported in various mucopolysaccharidoses syndromes. Cardiac valve pathology is the most prominent cardiac manifestation of patients with these syndromes. To date, there have been no reports of early childhood onset of high-grade atrioventricular block in patients with Hunter syndrome. We present a case of a 3-year-old boy with Hunter syndrome who was found to have various degrees of atrioventricular block. This case highlights the importance of early routine cardiac screening for conduction abnormalities and close follow-up in patients with mucopolysaccharidoses syndromes.
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.
The reported inverse association between the intake of plant-based foods and a reduction in the prevalence of colorectal cancer may be partly mediated by interactions between insoluble fibre and (poly)phenols and the intestinal microbiota. In the present study, we assessed the impact of palm date consumption, rich in both polyphenols and fibre, on the growth of colonic microbiota and markers of colon cancer risk in a randomised, controlled, cross-over human intervention study. A total of twenty-two healthy human volunteers were randomly assigned to either a control group (maltodextrin–dextrose, 37·1 g) or an intervention group (seven dates, approximately 50 g). Each arm was of 21 d duration and was separated by a 14-d washout period in a cross-over manner. Changes in the growth of microbiota were assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridisation analysis, whereas SCFA levels were assessed using HPLC. Further, ammonia concentrations, faecal water genotoxicity and anti-proliferation ability were also assessed using different assays, which included cell work and the Comet assay. Accordingly, dietary intakes, anthropometric measurements and bowel movement assessment were also carried out. Although the consumption of dates did not induce significant changes in the growth of select bacterial groups or SCFA, there were significant increases in bowel movements and stool frequency (P<0·01; n 21) and significant reductions in stool ammonia concentration (P<0·05; n 21) after consumption of dates, relative to baseline. Furthermore, date fruit intake significantly reduced genotoxicity in human faecal water relative to control (P<0·01; n 21). Our data indicate that consumption of date fruit may reduce colon cancer risk without inducing changes in the microbiota.
It is recognised that ageing induces various changes to the human colonic microbiota. Most relevant is a reduction in bifidobacteria, which is a health-positive genus. Prebiotics, such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), are dietary ingredients that selectively fortify beneficial gut microbial groups. Therefore, they have the potential to reverse the age-related decline in bifidobacteria and modulate associated health parameters. We assessed the effect of GOS mixture (Bimuno (B-GOS)) on gut microbiota, markers of immune function and metabolites in forty elderly (age 65–80 years) volunteers in a randomised, double-blind, placebo (maltodextrin)-controlled, cross-over study. The intervention periods consisted of 10 weeks with daily doses of 5·5 g/d with a 4-week washout period in between. Blood and faecal samples were collected for the analyses of faecal bacterial populations and immune and metabolic biomarkers. B-GOS consumption led to significant increases in bacteroides and bifidobacteria, the latter correlating with increased lactic acid in faecal waters. Higher IL-10, IL-8, natural killer cell activity and C-reactive protein and lower IL-1β were also observed. Administration of B-GOS to elderly volunteers may be useful in positively affecting the microbiota and some markers of immune function associated with ageing.
The present analysis aimed to investigate the changes in the reported portion sizes (PS) of foods and beverages commonly consumed by Irish adults (18–64 years) from the North South Ireland Food Consumption Survey (NSIFCS) (1997–2001) and the National Adult Nutrition Survey (NANS) (2008–10). Food PS, which are defined as the weight of food (g) consumed per eating occasion, were calculated for comparable foods and beverages in two nationally representative cross-sectional Irish food consumption surveys and were published in NSIFCS and NANS. Repeated measure mixed model analysis compared reported food PS at the total population level as well as subdivided by sex, age, BMI and social class. A total of thirteen commonly consumed foods were examined. The analysis demonstrated that PS significantly increased for five foods (‘white sliced bread’, ‘brown/wholemeal breads’, ‘all meat, cooked’, ‘poultry, roasted’ and ‘milk’), significantly decreased for three (‘potatoes’, ‘chips/wedges’ and ‘ham, sliced’) and did not significantly change for five foods (‘processed potato products’, ‘bacon/ham’, ‘cheese’, ‘yogurt’ and ‘butter/spreads’) between the NSIFCS and the NANS. The present study demonstrates that there was considerable variation in the trends in reported food PS over this period.
The fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is a rich source of dietary fibre and polyphenols. We have investigated gut bacterial changes induced by the whole date fruit extract (digested date extract; DDE) and its polyphenol-rich extract (date polyphenol extract; DPE) using faecal, pH-controlled, mixed batch cultures mimicking the distal part of the human large intestine, and utilising an array of microbial group-specific 16S rRNA oligonucleotide probes. Fluorescence microscopic enumeration indicated that there was a significant increase in the growth of bifidobacteria in response to both treatments, whilst whole dates also increased bacteroides at 24 h and the total bacterial counts at later fermentation time points when compared with DPE alone. Bacterial metabolism of whole date fruit led to the production of SCFA, with acetate significantly increasing following bacterial incubation with DDE. In addition, the production of flavonoid aglycones (myricetin, luteolin, quercetin and apigenin) and the anthocyanidin petunidin in less than 1 h was also observed. Lastly, the potential of DDE, DPE and metabolites to inhibit Caco-2 cell growth was investigated, indicating that both were capable of potentially acting as antiproliferative agents in vitro, following a 48 h exposure. This potential to inhibit growth was reduced following fermentation. Together these data suggest that consumption of date fruits may enhance colon health by increasing beneficial bacterial growth and inhibiting the proliferation of colon cancer cells. This is an early suggestion that date intake by humans may aid in the maintenance of bowel health and even the reduction of colorectal cancer development.
The Gaia Science Alerts project (GSA) aims to augment a precision survey of the Milky Way with a controlled, precision survey of all classes of transient phenomena. While onboard BP/RP spectra from Gaia will ultimately allow us to classify many Gaia Alerts based on Gaia data alone, in the initial phases of the GSA project it is necessary to verify and classify discoveries with ground-based spectroscopic followup. In this article, we describe a subset of the ongoing Gaia Alerts followup programmes, and some of the initial science results from this work.
Imidazoles present a tunable, versatile and economical platform for the development of novel liquid solvents and polymer membranes for CO2 capture. An overview of our studies in this area is presented, with emphasis on characterization of structure-property relationships in imidazole-based materials through both experimental and computational studies. To this end, a growing library of systematically varied imidazole compounds has been synthesized using only commercial available starting materials and straightforward reactions. Using this library of compounds, we have sought to understand and develop predictive models for thermophysical properties relating to process design, including: density, viscosity, vapor pressure, pKa and CO2 absorption capacity. Furthermore, we have discovered that imidazoles are stable in the presence of SO2 and can form reversible 1:1 adducts, which can be beneficial as SO2 is typically present at ppm levels alongside CO2 in flue gas from coal-fired power plants.