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A new computerized cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) program was offered to consecutive referrals to the clinical psychology department where the referral letter had noted the presence of depression/low mood as a major problem. The exclusion criteria were age below 16 or above 65, current active suicidal intent, psychosis and an inability to read.
Seventy-eight consecutive referrals were offered an appointment for CCBT; 20 (26%) attended at least one session of CCBT and 14 (70% of starters) completed all six hour-long sessions. A clinically and statistically significant fall of over 11.07 points (SD 6.16) on the BDI-II occurred between baseline and 6 weeks, from a mean score of 30 (severe) to 18.93 (mild). The equivalent mean differences between the baseline and 6-week scores were 7.66 points for the BAI (SD 11.25), 2.93 points for the BHS (SD 5.54), and –3.93 points for the SASS (SD 8.35). Beck Depression Inventory scores (BDI-II) fell from a mean of 28.15 (SD 11.41) to 20.00 (SD 10.41) (p=.000) over the 6-week intervention period using an intention to treat analysis. The mean time with a self-help support nurse supporting their use of the CD Rom was 52 minutes in total.
Only a quarter of patients on this psychology waiting list chose to use a CBT CD-Rom. The package seems to lead to improved mood. A randomised controlled study is required and is in progress.
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.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
In Ontario, Canada, the number of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) cases increased over the years 2005–2010. A population-based case-control study was undertaken from January to August 2011 for the purpose of identifying risk factors for acquiring illness due to SE within Ontario. A total of 199 cases and 241 controls were enrolled. After adjustment for confounders, consuming any poultry meat [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2·24, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·31–3·83], processed chicken (aOR 3·32, 95% CI 1·26–8·76) and not washing hands following handling of raw eggs (OR 2·82, 95% CI 1·48–5·37) were significantly associated with SE infection. The population attributable fraction was 46% for any poultry meat consumption and 10% for processed chicken. Poultry meat continues to be identified as a risk factor for SE illness. Control of SE at source, as well as proper food handling practices, are required to reduce the number of SE cases.
Genome-wide association analysis on monozygotic twin-pairs offers a route to discovery of gene–environment interactions through testing for variability loci associated with sensitivity to individual environment/lifestyle. We present a genome-wide scan of loci associated with intra-pair differences in serum lipid and apolipoprotein levels. We report data for 1,720 monozygotic female twin-pairs from GenomEUtwin project with 2.5 million SNPs, imputed or genotyped, and measured serum lipid fractions for both twins. We found one locus associated with intra-pair differences in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, rs2483058 in an intron of SRGAP2, where twins carrying the C allele are more sensitive to environmental factors (P = 3.98 × 10−8). We followed up the association in further genotyped monozygotic twins (N = 1,261), which showed a moderate association for the variant (P = 0.200, same direction of an effect). In addition, we report a new association on the level of apolipoprotein A-II (P = 4.03 × 10−8).
The aim of this study is to characterize the relationship between major depression and the metabolic syndrome in a large community based sample of Australian men and women aged 26–90 years. A lifetime history of major depression was assessed by telephone interview following the DSM–III-R. A current history of metabolic syndrome was assessed following the United States National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP AP-III) guidelines 1 to 3 years later. Logistic regression was used to estimate the association between depression and the metabolic syndrome, and its component criteria, controlling for age, sex and alcohol dependence. There was no association between a lifetime history of major depression and the presence of the metabolic syndrome. There was a weak association between depression and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol but not with other component criteria of the metabolic syndrome. Despite calls for interventions directed at depression to reduce the onset of the metabolic syndrome there are important failures to replicate in large samples such as this, no consensus regarding the threshold at which depression may pose a significant risk even allowing for heterogeneity across populations, and no consensus regarding confounders that may explain inter-study differences. The absence of any dosage effect of depression on the associated risk for the metabolic syndrome in other unselected samples does not support a direct causal relationship. The call for intervention studies on the basis of the currently published evidence base is unwarranted.
Persistent tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are major public health concerns worldwide. Both alcohol and nicotine dependence (AD, ND) are genetically influenced complex disorders that exhibit a high degree of comorbidity. To identify gene variants contributing to one or both of these addictions, we first conducted a pooling-based genomewide association study (GWAS) in an Australian population, using Illumina Infinium 1M arrays. Allele frequency differences were compared between pooled DNA from case and control groups for: (1) AD, 1224 cases and 1162 controls; (2) ND, 1273 cases and 1113 controls; and (3) comorbid AD and ND, 599 cases and 488 controls. Secondly, we carried out a GWAS in independent samples from the Netherlands for AD and for ND. Thirdly, we performed a meta-analysis of the 10, 000 most significant AD- and ND-related SNPs from the Australian and Dutch samples. In the Australian GWAS, one SNP achieved genomewide significance (p < 5 x 10-8) for ND (rs964170 in ARHGAPlOon chromosome 4, p = 4.43 x 10”8) and three others for comorbid AD/ND (rs7530302 near MARK1 on chromosome 1 (p = 1.90 x 10-9), rs1784300 near DDX6 on chromosome 11 (p = 2.60 x 10-9) and rs12882384 in KIAA1409 on chromosome 14 (p = 4.86 x 10-8)). None of the SNPs achieved genomewide significance in the Australian/Dutch meta-analysis, but a gene network diagram based on the top-results revealed overrepre-sentation of genes coding for ion-channels and cell adhesion molecules. Further studies will be requirec before the detailed causes of comorbidity between AC and ND are understood.
The genetic basis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is complex and still largely elusive. Plasma lipid concentrations are well-established risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and have adult heritabilities ranging from 0.48 to 0.87. Estimates for adolescents are slightly higher (range 0.71 to 0.82). To identify loci affecting lipid concentrations across adolescence, we analyzed longitudinal lipid data in a sample of 134 monozygotic and 626 dizygotic twin pairs at ages twelve, fourteen and sixteen, and their siblings, from 760 Australian families. Univariate linkage analysis for each phenotype and time point was supplemented by multivariate analysis across the time points. A genome-wide association scan was also performed on a subset of the subjects (N = 441). The strongest linkage was seen for triglycerides on chromosome 6p24.3 (multivariate –log10p = 6.81; equivalent LOD = 6.13; p = 1.55 × 10–7). Significant linkage was also found for LDL cholesterol on chromosome 2q35 (multivariate –log10p = 5.59; equivalent LOD = 4.53; p = 2.57 × 10–6). In the association analysis, rs10503840 on 8p21.1 was significantly associated with total cholesterol levels at age fourteen (p = 8.24 × 10–7, estimated significance threshold 2.45 × 10–6). Association at p < 2.25 × 10–6 was also found between triglycerides at age 12 and rs10507266, in an intron of THRAP2 (MIM 608771) on 12q24.21; and between HDL-C at age 14 and rs10506325 in an intergenic region of 12q13.13. Suggestive evidence of association at ages twelve and fourteen was found between HDL-C and rs10492859 on 16q23 (p = 2.42 × 10–5 and 2.77 × 10–4, respectively). Further longitudinal genetic studies of cardiovascular risk factors, focused on critical periods of development or change, are needed.
Alcohol dependence symptoms and consumption measures were examined for stability and heritability. Data were collected from 12,045 individuals (5376 twin pairs, 1293 single twins) aged 19 to 90 years in telephone interviews conducted in three collection phases. Phases 1 and 2 were independent samples, but Phase 3 targeted families of smokers and drinkers from the Phase 1 and 2 samples. The stability of dependence symptoms and consumption was examined for 1158 individuals interviewed in both Phases 1 and 3 (mean interval = 11.0 years). For 1818 individuals interviewed in Phases 2 and 3 (mean interval = 5.5 years) the stability of consumption was examined. Heritability was examined for each collection phase and retest samples from the selected Phase 3 collection. The measures examined were a dependence score, based on DSM-IIIR and DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence, and a quantity × frequency measure. Measures were moderately stable, with test–retest correlations ranging from .58 to .61 for dependence and from .55 to .64 for consumption. However, the pattern of changes over time for dependence suggested that the measure may more strongly reflect recent than lifetime experience. Similar to previous findings, heritabilities ranged from .42 to .51 for dependence and from .31 to .51 for consumption. Consumption was significantly less heritable in the younger Phase 2 cohort (23–39 years) compared to the older Phase 1 cohort (28–90 years).
Multiple reports have identified variation in the GABRA2 gene as contributing to the genetic susceptibility to alcohol dependence. However, both the mechanism behind this association, and the range of alcohol-related phenotypes affected by variation in this gene, are currently undefined. Other data suggest that the risk of alcohol dependence is increased by relative insensitivity to alcohol's intoxicating effects. We have therefore tested whether GABRA2 variation is associated with variation in the subjective and objective effects of a standard dose of alcohol in humans. Data on responses to alcohol from the Alcohol Challenge Twin Study (Martin et al., 1985) have been tested against allelic and haplotype information obtained by typing 41 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in or close to the GABRA2 gene. Nominally significant allelic associations (p < .05, without correction for multiple testing) were found for body sway, motor coordination, pursuit rotor and arithmetical computation tasks, and for the personality dimension of Neuroticism. Because of the large number of phenotypes tested, these possibly significant findings will need to be confirmed in further studies.
Reducing water ingress into the Shaft at Dounreay is essential for the success of future intermediate level waste (ILW) recovery using the dry retrieval method. The reduction is being realised by forming an engineered barrier of ultrafine cementitious grout injected into the fractured rock surrounding the Shaft. Grout penetration of 6m in <50μm fractures is being reliably achieved, with a pattern of repeated injections ultimately reducing rock mass permeability by up to three orders of magnitude.
An extensive field trials period, involving over 200 grout mix designs and the construction of a full scale demonstration barrier, has yielded several new field techniques that improve the quality and reliability of cementitious grout injection for engineered barriers.
In particular, a new method has been developed for tracking in real-time the spread of ultrafine cementitious grout through fractured rock and relating the injection characteristics to barrier design. Fieldwork by the multi-disciplinary international team included developing the injection and real-time monitoring techniques, pre- and post injection hydro-geological testing to quantify the magnitude and extent of changes in rock mass permeability, and correlation of grout spread with injection parameters to inform the main works grouting programme.
Biochemical traits such as plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) and uric acid are associated with obesity, and with risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Each is subject to genetic influences, but little is known about changes in genetic and environmental influences on these traits over time. We investigated the contribution of genetic and environmental influences to variation in these biochemical traits in adolescent twins and their nontwin siblings from 965 twin families. Twins were studied at ages 12, 14 and 16 years. Multivariate genetic models that included effects of age and sex were fitted to determine whether the same or different genetic or environmental factors influence each trait at different ages. Results showed that the genetic factors influencing AST, ALT, GGT and uric acid change over time during adolescence, and that the magnitude of these effects differs between males and females. The nonshared environment effects were generally time specific. There are developmental changes in genes affecting these traits during adolescence.
Plasma lipids such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), total cholesterol and triglyceride levels contribute to variation in the risk of cardiovascular disease. The early stages of atherosclerosis in childhood have also been associated with changes in triglycerides, LDL and HDL. Heritability estimates for lipids and lipoproteins for adolescents are in the range .71 to .82, but little is known about changes of genetic and environmental influences over time in adolescence. We have investigated the contribution of genetic and environmental influences to variation in lipids in adolescent twins and their nontwin siblings using longitudinal twin and family data. Plasma HDL and LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides data from 965 twin pairs at 12, 14 and 16 years of age and their siblings have been analyzed. Longitudinal genetic models that included effects of age, sex and their interaction were fitted to assess whether the same or different genes influence each trait at different ages. Results suggested that more than one genetic factor influences HDL, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides over time at ages 12, 14 and 16 years. There was no evidence of shared environmental effects except for HDL and little evidence of long-term nonshared environmental effects was found. Our study suggested that there are developmental changes in the genes affecting plasma lipid concentrations across adolescence.
The consensus from published studies is that plasma lipids are each influenced by genetic factors, and that this contributes to genetic variation in risk of cardiovascular disease. Heritability estimates for lipids and lipoproteins are in the range .48 to .87, when measured once per study participant. However, this ignores the confounding effects of biological variation measurement error and ageing, and a truer assessment of genetic effects on cardiovascular risk may be obtained from analysis of longitudinal twin or family data. We have analyzed information on plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides, from 415 adult twins who provided blood on two to five occasions over 10 to 17 years. Multivariate modeling of genetic and environmental contributions to variation within and across occasions was used to assess the extent to which genetic and environmental factors have long-term effects on plasma lipids. Results indicated that more than one genetic factor influenced HDL and LDL components of cholesterol, and triglycerides over time in all studies. Nonshared environmental factors did not have significant long-term effects except for HDL. We conclude that when heritability of lipid risk factors is estimated on only one occasion, the existence of biological variation and measurement errors leads to underestimation of the importance of genetic factors as a cause of variation in long-term risk within the population. In addition our data suggest that different genes may affect the risk profile at different ages.