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After high hopes in the initial post-communist years after 1989, disenchantment became noticeable in some sectors of the local populations in Central and Southeastern Europe. Among the problems which have alienated portions of local publics are the weakness of the economies (especially in Southeastern Europe), the monopolization of the media by new elites, and difficulties in building up constitutional orders, although in each case there are those who benefit from the persistence of these problems. In Catholic countries, especially but not only in Poland, abortion has figured as a pivotal issue, with the Catholic Church pushing for legislation to be binding on all citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Differences in the present state of affairs reflect, in part, differences in the pattern of the breakdown of the communist system, from one state to the other, in particular between transitions engineered from above and transitions pushed forward from below.
Experimental studies indicate that lithium may facilitate neurotrophic/protective responses in the brain. Epidemiological and imaging studies in bipolar disorder, in addition to a few trials in Alzheimer's disease support the clinical translation of these findings. Nonetheless, there is limited controlled data about potential use of lithium to treat or prevent dementia.
To determine the benefits of lithium treatment in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a clinical condition associated with high risk for Alzheimer's disease.
A total of 61 community-dwelling, physically healthy, older adults with MCI were randomised to receive lithium or placebo (1:1) for 2 years (double-blind phase), and followed-up for an additional 24 months (single-blinded phase) (trial registration at clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01055392). Lithium carbonate was prescribed to yield subtherapeutic concentrations (0.25–0.5 mEq/L). Primary outcome variables were the cognitive (Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale – cognitive subscale) and functional (Clinical Dementia Rating – Sum of Boxes) parameters obtained at baseline and after 12 and 24 months. Secondary outcomes were neuropsychological test scores; cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of Alzheimer's disease-related biomarkers determined at 0, 12 and 36 months; conversion rate from MCI to dementia (0–48 months).
Participants in the placebo group displayed cognitive and functional decline, whereas lithium-treated patients remained stable over 2 years. Lithium treatment was associated with better performance on memory and attention tests after 24 months, and with a significant increase in CSF amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ1−42) after 36 months.
Long-term lithium attenuates cognitive and functional decline in amnestic MCI, and modifies Alzheimer's disease-related CSF biomarkers. The present data reinforces the disease-modifying properties of lithium in the MCI–Alzheimer's disease continuum.
The development of the unsteady pressure field on the floor of a rectangular cavity was studied at Mach 0.9 using high-frequency pressure-sensitive paint. Power spectral amplitudes at each cavity resonance exhibit a spatial distribution with a streamwise-oscillatory pattern; additional maxima and minima appear as the mode number is increased. This spatial distribution also appears in the propagation velocity of modal pressure disturbances. This behaviour was tied to the superposition of a downstream-propagating shear-layer disturbance and an upstream-propagating acoustic wave of different amplitudes and convection velocities, consistent with the classical Rossiter model. The summation of these waves generates a net downstream-travelling wave whose amplitude and phase velocity are modulated by a fixed envelope within the cavity. This travelling-wave interpretation of the Rossiter model correctly predicts the instantaneous modal pressure behaviour in the cavity. Subtle spanwise variations in the modal pressure behaviour were also observed, which could be attributed to a shift in the resonance pattern as a result of spillage effects at the edges of the finite-width cavity.
One of the Leishmania species known to be non-infective to humans is Leishmania (Mundinia) enriettii whose vertebrate host is the guinea pig Cavia porcellus. It is a good model for cutaneous leishmaniasis, chemotherapeutic and molecular studies. In the last years, an increased interest has emerged concerning the L. (Mundinia) subgenus after the finding of Leishmania (M.) macropodum in Australia and with the description of other new/putative species such as L. (M.) martiniquensis and ‘L. (M.) siamensis’. This review focused on histopathology, glycoconjugates and innate immunity. The presence of Leishmania RNA virus and shedding of extracellular vesicles by the parasite were also evaluated.
There has been increasing evidence that chronic low-grade inflammation is associated with mood disorders. However, the findings have been inconsistent because of heterogeneity across studies and methodological limitations. Our aim is to prospectively evaluate the bi-directional associations between inflammatory markers including interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) with mood disorders.
The sample consisted of 3118 participants (53.7% women; mean age: 51.0, s.d. 8.8 years), randomly selected from the general population, who underwent comprehensive somatic and psychiatric evaluations at baseline and follow-up (mean follow-up duration = 5.5 years, s.d. 0.6). Current and remitted mood disorders including bipolar and major depressive disorders (MDD) and its subtypes (atypical, melancholic, combined atypical and melancholic, and unspecified) were based on semi-structured diagnostic interviews. Inflammatory biomarkers were analyzed in fasting blood samples. Associations were tested by multiple linear and logistic regression models.
Current combined MDD [β = 0.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.03–0.55] and current atypical MDD (β = 0.32, 95% CI 0.10–0.55) at baseline were associated with increased levels of hsCRP at follow-up. There was little evidence for inflammation markers at baseline predicting mood disorders at follow-up.
The prospective unidirectional association between current MDD subtype with atypical features and hsCRP levels at follow-up suggests that inflammation may be a consequence of this condition. The role of inflammation, particularly hsCRP that is critically involved in cardiovascular diseases, warrants further study. Future research that examines potential influences of medications on inflammatory processes is indicated.
Identifying the transmission sources and reservoirs of Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP) is a long-standing question for pneumococcal epidemiology, transmission dynamics, and vaccine policy. Here we use serotype to identify SP transmission and examine acquisitions (in the same household, local community, and county, or of unidentified origin) in a longitudinal cohort of children and adults from the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache American Indian Tribes. We found that adults acquire SP relatively more in the household than other age groups, and children 2–8 years old typically acquire in their own or surrounding communities. Age-specific transmission probability matrices show that transmissions within household were mostly seen from older to younger siblings. Outside the household, children most often transmit to other children in the same age group, showing age-assortative mixing behavior. We find toddlers and older children to be most involved in SP transmission and acquisition, indicating their role as key drivers of SP epidemiology. Although infants have high carriage prevalence, they do not play a central role in transmission of SP compared with toddlers and older children. Our results are relevant to inform alternative pneumococcal conjugate vaccine dosing strategies and analytic efforts to inform optimization of vaccine programs, as well as assessing the transmission dynamics of pathogens transmitted by close contact in general.
Cirratulid polychaetes are abundant and diverse members of the benthic macrofauna and their particle collection mechanisms may strongly affect particle mixing and sediment grain size distribution in sediments. The feeding morphology differs in having a pair or many feeding tentacles and the ecological importance of both methods of food collection needs to be better investigated to understand their costs and benefits. Particle selection and feeding behaviour of a bitentaculate (Aphelochaeta honouliuli) and a multitentaculate species (Timarete hawaiensis) were comparatively observed. Feeding behaviour observations were done with individuals with or without feeding tentacles and exposed to three different size ranges of glass beads (0–20, 40–70 and 70–110 µm in diameter). Particle selection was tested for coated and uncoated glass beads of three different size ranges in 20 specimens of each species. Feeding behaviour was similar in both species and the methods of particle collection and ingestion are described. Individuals of T. hawaiensis, in which the feeding tentacles were removed, were observed collecting particles with the aid of branchiae. The multitentaculate species studied was more successful in collecting particles from greater foraging radii and at a faster rate than the bitentaculate species but the experimental design may have disfavoured the latter. Two-way ANOVA results showed that both bitentaculate and multitentaculate species significantly selected in favour of smaller particle sizes. Further studies about particle encounter, selection and ingestion are needed and may aid understanding of the phylogenetic relationships between the bitentaculate and multitentaculate cirratulids.
Among the polychaetes, the family Cirratulidae is one of the most challenging taxonomically because most of the currently used diagnostic characters change during ontogeny. It is therefore necessary to use a combination of characters to make an accurate identification. The present work is the first of a planned revision of the genus Cirratulus from coastal zones of Argentina. The examined material came from the two largest natural history museums of the country, and showed several morphotypes. Some specimens corresponded to described species, but others were undoubtedly undescribed. Among the previously known Cirratulidae, Cirratulus jucundus (Kinberg, 1866) and Cirratulus patagonicus (Kinberg, 1866), formerly distributed for Antarctica are now also present in coastal continental areas of Argentina. The new species Cirratulus mianzanii sp. nov. is described from subtidal areas off Peninsula Valdés, Patagonia. This species is distinguished from its congeners by the segmental origin of both tentacular filaments and first pair of branchiae in the junction between the peristomium and first chaetiger. Branchiae arise some distance from the notopodium but not at the dorsal midline of the body. Ventral groove present along the body, with a fine dark midline. Capillary chaetae are serrate seen under an optical microscope, and the segmental origin of neuro- and notopodial spines is different from other species of the genus.
The stellar occultation technique is a powerful tool to study distant small solar system bodies. Currently, around 2 500 trans-neptunian objects (TNOs) and Centaurs are known. With the astrometry from Gaia and large surveys like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), accurate predictions of occultation events will be available to tens of thousands of TNOs and Centaurs and boost the knowledge of the outer solar system.
Malaria elimination is on global agendas following successful transmission reductions. Nevertheless moving from low to zero transmission is challenging. South Africa has an elimination target of 2018, which may or may not be realised in its hypoendemic areas.
The Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System has monitored population health in north-eastern South Africa since 1992. Malaria deaths were analysed against individual factors, socioeconomic status, labour migration and weather over a 21-year period, eliciting trends over time and associations with covariates.
Of 13 251 registered deaths over 1.58 million person-years, 1.2% were attributed to malaria. Malaria mortality rates increased from 1992 to 2013, while mean daily maximum temperature rose by 1.5 °C. Travel to endemic Mozambique became easier, and malaria mortality increased in higher socioeconomic groups. Overall, malaria mortality was significantly associated with age, socioeconomic status, labour migration and employment, yearly rainfall and higher rainfall/temperature shortly before death.
Malaria persists as a small but important cause of death in this semi-rural South African population. Detailed longitudinal population data were crucial for these analyses. The findings highlight practical political, socioeconomic and environmental difficulties that may also be encountered elsewhere in moving from low-transmission scenarios to malaria elimination.
Plant sterols (PS) lower LDL-cholesterol, an established risk factor for CHD. Endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation are two important features in the development of atherosclerosis. Whether PS affect biomarkers of endothelial function and low-grade inflammation is not well studied. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of regular intake of PS on biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation. In a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study, which was primarily designed to investigate the effect of PS intake on vascular function (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01803178), 240 hypercholesterolaemic but otherwise healthy men and women consumed a low-fat spread with added PS (3 g/d) or a placebo spread for 12 weeks. Endothelial dysfunction biomarkers (both vascular and intracellular adhesion molecules 1 and soluble endothelial-selectin) and low-grade inflammation biomarkers (C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1) were measured using a multi-array detection system based on electrochemiluminescence technology. Biomarkers were combined using z-scores. Differences in changes from baseline between the PS and the placebo groups were assessed. The intake of PS did not significantly change the individual biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation. The z-scores for endothelial dysfunction (−0·02; 95 % CI −0·15, 0·11) and low-grade inflammation (−0·04; 95 % CI −0·16, 0·07) were also not significantly changed after PS intake compared with placebo. In conclusion, biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation were not affected by regular intake of 3 g/d PS for 12 weeks in hypercholesterolaemic men and women.
Patients with psychosis display the so-called ‘Jumping to Conclusions’ bias (JTC) – a tendency for hasty decision-making in probabilistic reasoning tasks. So far, only a few studies have evaluated the JTC bias in ‘at-risk mental state’ (ARMS) patients, specifically in ARMS samples fulfilling ‘ultra-high risk’ (UHR) criteria, thus not allowing for comparisons between different ARMS subgroups.
In the framework of the PREVENT (secondary prevention of schizophrenia) study, a JTC task was applied to 188 patients either fulfilling UHR criteria or presenting with cognitive basic symptoms (BS). Similar data were available for 30 healthy control participants matched for age, gender, education and premorbid verbal intelligence. ARMS patients were identified by the Structured Interview for Prodromal Symptoms (SIPS) and the Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument – Adult Version (SPI-A).
The mean number of draws to decision (DTD) significantly differed between ARM -subgroups: UHR patients made significantly less draws to make a decision than ARMS patients with only cognitive BS. Furthermore, UHR patients tended to fulfil behavioural criteria for JTC more often than BS patients. In a secondary analysis, ARMS patients were much hastier in their decision-making than controls. In patients, DTD was moderately associated with positive and negative symptoms as well as disorganization and excitement.
Our data indicate an enhanced JTC bias in the UHR group compared to ARMS patients with only cognitive BS. This underscores the importance of reasoning deficits within cognitive theories of the developing psychosis. Interactions with the liability to psychotic transitions and therapeutic interventions should be unravelled in longitudinal studies.
Knowledge regarding factors that influence deviation of the QRS axis is important when seeking to differentiate between physiological and pathological changes. We hypothesised that, in contrast to those patients with an atrioventricular septal defect and common atrioventricular junction permitting only atrial shunting, those associated with ventricular shunting would show no relationship between the positions of the papillary muscles and the degree of the leftward deviation of the QRS axis.
We compared the positions of endocardial origin of the papillary muscles, and the frontal plane QRS axis, in patients with atrioventricular septal defects and common atrioventricular junction permitting exclusively atrial as opposed to atrial and ventricular shunting.
We analysed 18 patients with atrial and ventricular shunting and 23 patients with exclusively atrial shunting. The correlation coefficient between the ratio of distances of the papillary muscles from the mid-septum and the amount of leftward deviation in the frontal plane QRS axis was 0.1 (p=0.4) in those with ventricular shunting and 0.26 (p=0.01) in those with exclusively atrial shunting.
In contrast to patients with the so-called primum form of atrioventricular septal defect, in whom the locations of the papillary muscles correlate with the degree of QRS axis, such relationships are lacking in patients with defects permitting both atrial and ventricular shunting. It may be, therefore, that the presence of ventricular shunting and/or their younger age causes pressure overload, which negates the leftward QRS forces caused by the abnormally positioned papillary muscles.
Several lines of evidence suggest that cognitive deficits represent a core feature of schizophrenia.
The concept of “cognitive dysmetria” has been introduced to characterize disintegration at the system level of frontal-thalamic-cerebellar circuitry which has been regarded as a key network for a wide range of neuropsychological symptoms in schizophrenia.
The present multimodal study aimed at investigating effective and structural connectivity of the frontal-thalamic circuitry in schizophrenia.
Univariate fMRI data analysis and effective connectivity analysis using dynamic causal modeling (DCM) were combined to examine cognitive control processes in 40 patients with schizophrenia and 40 matched healthy controls. BOLD signal and parameters of effective connectivity were related to parameters of corresponding white matter integrity assessed with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
In the DTI analysis, significantly decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) was detected in patients in the right anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC), the right thalamus and the right corpus callosum. During Stroop task performance patients demonstrated significantly lower activation relative to healthy controls in a predominantly right lateralized frontal-thalamic-cerebellar network. An abnormal effective connectivity was observed in the right lateralized connections between thalamus, anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. FA in the right ALIC was significantly correlated with the fronto-thalamic BOLD signal, effective connectivity and cognitive performance in patients.
Present data provide evidence for the notion of a structural and functional defect in the prefrontal-thalamic-cerebellar circuitry, which seems to be the basis of the cognitive control deficits in schizophrenia.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Gene × environment (G × E) interactions in eating pathology have been increasingly investigated, however studies have been limited by sample size due to the difficulty of obtaining genetic data.
To synthesize existing G × E research in the eating disorders (ED) field and provide a clear picture of the current state of knowledge with analyses of larger samples.
Complete data from seven studies investigating community (n = 1750, 64.5% female) and clinical (n = 426, 100% female) populations, identified via systematic review, were included. Data were combined to perform five analyses: 5-HTTLPR × Traumatic Life Events (0–17 events) to predict ED status (n = 909), 5-HTTLPR × Sexual and Physical Abuse (n = 1097) to predict bulimic symptoms, 5-HTLPR × Depression to predict bulimic symptoms (n = 1256), and 5-HTTLPR × Impulsivity to predict disordered eating (n = 1149).
The low function (s) allele of 5-HTTLPR interacted with number of traumatic life events (P < .01) and sexual and physical abuse (P < .05) to predict increased likelihood of an ED in females but not males (Fig. 1). No other G × E interactions were significant, possibly due to the medium to low compatibility between datasets (Fig. 1).
Early promising results suggest that increased knowledge of G × E interactions could be achieved if studies increased uniformity of measuring ED and environmental variables, allowing for continued collaboration to overcome the restrictions of obtaining genetic samples.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Africa is experiencing a rapid increase in adult obesity and associated cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs). The H3Africa AWI-Gen Collaborative Centre was established to examine genomic and environmental factors that influence body composition, body fat distribution and CMD risk, with the aim to provide insights towards effective treatment and intervention strategies. It provides a research platform of over 10 500 participants, 40–60 years old, from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Following a process that involved community engagement, training of project staff and participant informed consent, participants were administered detailed questionnaires, anthropometric measurements were taken and biospecimens collected. This generated a wealth of demographic, health history, environmental, behavioural and biomarker data. The H3Africa SNP array will be used for genome-wide association studies. AWI-Gen is building capacity to perform large epidemiological, genomic and epigenomic studies across several African counties and strives to become a valuable resource for research collaborations in Africa.
We report on the temporal contrast performance of the PHELIX facility in view of the requirements imposed by solid-target interaction experiments. The requirement analysis for the nanosecond and picosecond temporal contrast is derived from empirical data and simple theoretical modeling, while the realization shows that using an ultrafast optical parametric amplifier and plasma mirrors enables meeting this specification.