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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.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the distribution of cases and the social determinants associated with death from human visceral leishmaniasis (HVL) and VL–HIV co-infection in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, between 2006 and 2013. Descriptive statistics and analysis of associations were performed using chi-square of the raised variables, such as sex, age, skin colour and schooling of cases of HVL. During the study period, there were 866 cases of HVL with 111 deaths in Belo Horizonte. Morbidity and lethality rates (LR) of HVL in Belo Horizonte remained high over almost all the years evaluated, with an average incidence rate of 4.18 cases/100 000 inhabitants and a LR of 11.16%. With respect to skin colour, it was found that people characterised as black or mulatto had higher morbidity, followed by white. Regarding schooling, LR was more prevalent among individuals with lower education. One of the social risk factors was co-infection with HIV, which was present in many cases of HVL. Furthermore, it was found that older age and the male sex were also risk factors for death from HVL in Belo Horizonte.
Although a national programme for control of visceral leishmaniosis (VL) is being run in Brazil, the disease continues to spread. This programme is essentially based on culling infected dogs from endemic regions. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop other control measures against VL to deter its advance. Here, a subunit vaccine, a recombinant vaccine, an insecticide-impregnated collar and the associations between these measures were evaluated for reducing the incidence of Leishmania infection in dogs. This was through a cohort study conducted in an endemic region of Brazil, considering the incidence and time of total exposure over a period of 1 year. The incidence of VL was estimated by means of serological and molecular diagnostic tests, 180 and 360 days after the application of the control measures. The estimates of the effectiveness (EF) were not significant in any cohort. The EF of the subunit vaccine, the recombinant vaccine and the collar were 26.4%, 32.8% and 57.7% and the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for EF were 63.7%, 67.9% and 82.5%, respectively. In conclusion, under the conditions of this study, none of the immunogens for VL control was sufficiently effective to protect dogs against infection. On the other hand, use of collars impregnated with insecticide seems to constitute a method with better prognosis, corroborating other studies in this field.
The visceralizing potential of apparently dermotropic Leishmania donovani in Sri Lanka (L. donovani-SL) was investigated through long-term follow-up of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) patients and in vivo and in vitro experimental infection models. CL patients (n = 250) treated effectively with intra-lesional antimony therapy were followed-up six monthly for 4 years. There was no clinical evidence of visceralization of infection (VL) during this period. Infection of BALB/c mice with L. donovani-SL (test) through intra-dermal route led to the development of cutaneous lesions at the site of inoculation with no signs of systemic dissemination, in contrast to the observations made in animals similarly infected with a visceralizing strain of L. donovani-1S (control). Cytokine (IL-10, IFN-γ) release patterns of splenocytes and lymph node cell cultures derived from mice primed with experimental infections (with either test or control parasites) revealed significantly high IFN-γ response associated with test mice with CL, while prominent IL-10 levels were observed in association with control mice with VL. Furthermore, diminished infection efficiency, intracellular growth and survival of L. donovani-SL parasites compared with L. donovani-1S were evident through in vitro macrophage infection experiments. These studies confirm, for the first time, the essential dermotropic nature of L. donovani-SL suggesting natural attenuation of virulence of local parasite strains.
Euthanasia of infected dogs is one of the measures adopted in Brazil to control visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in endemic areas. To detect infected dogs, animals are screened with the rapid test DPP® Visceral Canine Leishmaniasis for detection of antibodies against K26/K39 fusion antigens of amastigotes (DPP). DPP-positives are confirmed with an immunoenzymatic assay probing soluble antigens of promastigotes (ELISA), while DPP-negatives are considered free of infection. Here, 975 dogs from an endemic region were surveyed by using DPP, ELISA and real-time PCR (qPCR) for the diagnosis of VL. When DPP-negative dogs were tested by qPCR applied in blood and lymph node aspirates, 174/887 (19·6%) were positive in at least one sample. In a second sampling using 115 cases, the DPP-negative dogs were tested by qPCR in blood, lymph node and conjunctival swab samples, and 36/79 (45·6%) were positive in at least one sample. Low-to-moderate pairwise agreement was observed between all possible pair of tests. In conclusion, the official diagnosis of VL in dogs in Brazilian endemic areas failed to accuse an expressive number of infected animals and the impact of the low accuracy of serological tests in the success of euthanasia-based measure for VL control need to be assessed.
The Brazilian Twin Registry (BTR) was established in 2013 and has impelled twin research in South America. The main aim of the initiative was to create a resource that would be accessible to the Brazilian scientific community as well as international researchers interested in the investigation of the contribution of genetic and environmental factors in the development of common diseases, phenotypes, and human behavior traits. The BTR is a joint effort between academic and governmental institutions from Brazil and Australia. The collaboration includes the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil, the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne in Australia, the Australian Twin Registry, as well as the research foundations CNPq and CAPES in Brazil. The BTR is a member of the International Network of Twin Registries. Recruitment strategies used to register twins have been through participation in a longitudinal study investigating genetic and environmental factors for low back pain occurrence, and from a variety of sources including media campaigns and social networking. Currently, 291 twins are registered in the BTR, with data on demographics, zygosity, anthropometrics, and health history having been collected from 151 twins using a standardized self-reported questionnaire. Future BTR plans include the registration of thousands of Brazilian twins identified from different sources and collaborate nationally and internationally with other research groups interested on twin studies.
Low back pain (LBP) is a major health problem globally, but approaches to prevention are not yet clearly identified because modifiable risk factors are not well established. Although physical activity is one promising modifiable risk factor, it is still not known what types and doses of physical activity are protective or harmful for LBP. The aim of this study is to establish the feasibility of a definitive cohort study that will investigate the effects of different types and doses of physical activity on the risk of developing recurrent LBP while accounting for genetic factors. This will be a pilot longitudinal twin study and twins will be recruited from the Australian Twin Registry, and will be followed over 1 year. Thirty adult complete twin pairs with a history of LBP, but symptom free at recruitment, will be included. Data on physical activity (predictor) will be collected using four questionnaires and an objective measure (accelerometer) at baseline and at 6-month follow-up. Twins will also complete an additional physical activity questionnaire monthly. Data on LBP (outcome) will be collected at baseline and weekly. Data will be collected using short message service (SMS) and email. We will keep records of the recruitment rate, follow-up rate, and completeness of data. Barriers to completing the study will be investigated. The results of this study will inform the design and implementation of a future definitive study, which will help to clarify the effects of different types and doses of physical activity on the risk of developing recurrent LBP.
Poor sleep quality is highly prevalent in patients with low back pain (LBP) and is associated with high levels of pain, psychological distress, and physical disability. Studies have reported a bidirectional relationship between sleep problems and intensity of LBP. Accordingly, effective management of LBP should address sleep quality. In addition, genetics has been found to significantly affect the prevalence of both LBP and insomnia. Our study aims to establish the feasibility of a trial exploring the efficacy of a web-based sleep quality intervention in people with LBP, with the genetic influences being controlled for. 30 twins (15 complete pairs) with subacute or chronic LBP (>6 weeks) will be recruited from the Australian Twin Registry. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups with each twin within a pair receiving either an interactive web-based sleep intervention based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles (intervention) or a web-based education program (control) for 6 weeks. The feasibility of the trial will be investigated with regard to recruitment rate, feasibility of data collection and outcome measure completion, contamination of intervention, acceptability and experience of intervention, and sample size requirement for the full trial. Patient outcomes will be collected electronically at baseline, immediately post-treatment, and at 3-months’ follow-up post-randomization. This trial employs a robust design that will effectively control for the influence of genetics on treatment effect. Additionally, this study addresses sleep quality, a significant but under-explored issue in LBP. Results will inform the design and implementation of the definitive trial.
Wheat is an important crop in the highlands of Northern Ethiopia and climate change is expected to be a major threat to wheat productivity. However, the potential impacts of climate change and adaptation on wheat yield has not been documented for this region. Wheat field experiments were carried out during the 2011–2013 cropping seasons in Northern Ethiopia to: (1) calibrate and evaluate Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM)-wheat model for exploring the impacts of climate change and adaptation on wheat yield; (2) explore the response of wheat cultivar/s to possible change in climate and carbon dioxide (CO2) under optimal and sub-optimal fertilizer application and (3) assess the impact of climate change and adaptation practices on wheat yield based on integration of surveyed field data with climate simulations using multi-global climate models (GCMs; for short- and mid-term periods) for the Hintalo-Wajrat areas of Northern Ethiopia. The treatments were two levels of fertilizer (optimal and zero fertilization); treatments were replicated three times and arranged in a randomized complete block design. All required information for model calibration and evaluation were gathered from experimental studies. In addition, a household survey was conducted in 2012 in Northern Ethiopia. Following model calibration and performance testing, response of wheat to various nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates, planting date, temperature and combinations of other climate variables and CO2 were assessed. Crop simulations were conducted with future climate scenarios using 20 different GCMs and compared with a baseline. In addition, simulations were carried out using climate data from five different GCM with and without climate change adaptation practices. The simulated yield showed clear responses to changes in temperature, N fertilizer and CO2. Regardless of choice of cultivar, increasing temperatures alone (by up to 5 °C compared with the baseline) resulted in reduced yield while the addition of other factors (optimal fertilizer with elevated CO2) resulted in increased yield. Considering optimal fertilizer (64 kg/ha N) as an adaptation practice, wheat yield in the short-term (2010–2039) and mid-term (2040–2069) may increase at least by 40%, compared with sub-optimal N levels. Assuming CO2 and present wheat management is unchanged, simulation results based on 20 GCMs showed that median wheat yields will reduce by 10% in the short term and by 11% in the mid-term relative to the baseline data, whereas under changed CO2 with present management, wheat yield will increase slightly, by up to 8% in the short term and by up to 11% in the mid-term period, respectively. Wheat yield will substantially increase, by more than 100%, when simulated based on combined use of optimal planting date and fertilizer applications. Increased temperature in future scenarios will cause yield to decline, whereas CO2 is expected to have positive impacts on wheat yield.
BOOMERanG has recently resolved structures on the last scattering surface at redshift ˜ 1100 with high signal to noise ratio. We review the technical advances which made this possible, and we focus on the current results for maps and power spectra, with special attention to the determination of the total mass-energy density in the Universe and of other cosmological parameters.
We show how estimates of parameters characterizing inflation-based theories of structure formation localized over the past year when large scale structure (LSS) information from galaxy and cluster surveys was combined with the rapidly developing cosmic microwave background (CMB) data, especially from the recent Boomerang and Maxima balloon experiments. All current CMB data plus a relatively weak prior probability on the Hubble constant, age and LSS points to little mean curvature (Ωtot = 1.08±0.06) and nearly scale invariant initial fluctuations (ns = 1.03±0.08), both predictions of (non-baroque) inflation theory. We emphasize the role that degeneracy among parameters in the Lpk = 212 ± 7 position of the (first acoustic) peak plays in defining the Ωtot range upon marginalization over other variables. Though the CDM density is in the expected range (Ωcdmh2 = 0.17 ± 0.02), the baryon density Ωbh2 = 0.030 ± 0.005 is somewhat above the independent 0.019 ± 0.002 nucleosynthesis estimates. CMB+LSS gives independent evidence for dark energy (ΩΛ = 0.66 ± 0.06) at the same level as from supernova (SN1) observations, with a phenomenological quintessence equation of state limited by SN1+CMB+LSS to wQ < −0.7 cf. the wQ=−1 cosmological constant case.
The experiment, conducted at Bahia, Brazil, from May to August 2010, aimed to evaluate the nitrogen (N) balance, urea excretion and microbial protein synthesis in lactating goats fed pelleted concentrates with the addition of crude protein (CP), obtained by replacing alfalfa hay with soybean meal. The diets consisted of different levels of CP and 200 g of roughage (Tifton 85 hay)/kg. Maize and mesquite bran were used as the energy source, with maize replaced by mesquite bran in the ratio of 1·7:1. Eight female Saanen goats were used, confined in individual pens and allocated to a 4 × 4 Latin square design. The N balance in the body was positive, and loss of body weight (–0·03 g/day) was observed for the diet with 190 g CP/kg. The concentration (mg/dl) of urea in urine, milk and blood plasma was positively influenced in a linear form, and the highest rate of increase was found in urine, with 2 mg/dl for every 10 g CP/kg added to the diet. The microbial protein synthesis was not affected, but the diets reduced the microbial protein (44 g/day) and its ruminal production efficiency (30 g/kg total digestible nutrients). The levels above 190 g of CP are not recommended because of the energy expenditure required to excrete the urea.
The aim of this study was analyzed if the flour or flaxseed oil treatment contributes to body composition in male rats subjected to early weaning. Pups were weaned for separation from mother at 14 (early weaning, EW) and 21 days (control, C). At 21 days, part of the pups was evaluated (C21 v. EW21). After 21 days, control (C60) was fed with control diet. EW was divided in control (EWC60); flaxseed flour (EWFF60); flaxseed oil (EWFO60) diets until 60 days. Body mass, length and body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry were determined. EW21 (v. C21) and EWC60 (v. C60 and EWFF60) showed lower (P<0.05) mass, length and body composition. EWFO60 (v. C60 and EWFF60) showed lower (P<0.05) body mass and length, body and trunk lean mass, bone mineral density and content and bone area. Flaxseed flour, in comparison with flaxseed oil, contributes to recovery of body composition after early weaning.
The precocious interruption of lactation is a prime factor for developmental plasticity. Here we analyzed whether flour or flaxseed oil treatment contributes to body and brain mass in male rats subjected to early weaning. Pups were weaned for separation from their mother at 14 (early weaning, EW) and 21 days (control, C). At 21 days, some of the pups were evaluated (C21 v. EW21). After 21 days, control pups (C60) were fed a control diet. EW pups were divided into those fed a control diet (EWC60), those given flaxseed flour (EWFF60), and those given flaxseed oil (EWFO60) until 60 days. EW21 showed lower body and absolute brain mass and higher relative brain mass. At 60 days, EWC60 and EWFO60 had lower body mass. With regard to relative brain mass, EWC60 was heavier; EWFO60 had lower values compared with EWC60 and higher values compared with C60 and EWFF60. These results indicated that flaxseed flour, in comparison with flaxseed oil, contributes to brain development after EW.
Epigenetic studies suggest that diseases that develop in adulthood are related to certain conditions to which the individual is exposed during the initial stages of life. Experimental evidence has demonstrated that offspring born to mothers maintained on high-Na diets during pregnancy have higher mean arterial pressure (MAP) in adulthood. Although these studies have demonstrated the importance of prenatal phases to hypertension development, no evidence regarding the role of high Na intake during postnatal phases in the development of this pathology has been reported. Therefore, in the present study, the effects of Na overload during childhood on induced water and Na intakes and on cardiovascular parameters in adulthood were evaluated. Experiments were carried out in two groups of 21-d-old rats: experimental group, maintained on hypertonic saline (0·3 m-NaCl) solution and food for 60 d, and control group, maintained on tap water and food. Later, both groups were given water and food for 15 d (recovery period). After the recovery period, chronic cannulation of the right femoral artery was performed in unanaesthetised rats to record baseline MAP and heart rate (HR). The experimental group was found to have increased basal MAP (98·6 (sem 2·6) v. 118·3 (sem 2·7) mmHg, P< 0·05) and HR (365·4 (sem 12·2) v. 398·2 (sem 7·5) beats per min, P< 0·05). There was a decrease in the baroreflex index in the experimental group when compared with that in the control group. A water and Na intake test was performed using furosemide. Na depletion was found to induce an increase in Na intake in both the control and experimental groups (12·1 (sem 0·6) ml and 7·8 (sem 1·1), respectively, P< 0·05); however, this increase was of lower magnitude in the experimental group. These results demonstrate that postnatal Na overload alters behavioural and cardiovascular regulation in adulthood.
Dirofilaria immitis is endemic in Portugal. Several studies have reported the presence of canine heartworm disease, although no previous studies on feline infections have been published. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of D. immitis in cats and dogs from central and northern Portugal. Blood samples from 434 cats were tested for circulating anti-D. immitis and anti-Wolbachia antibodies. Furthermore, 386 dogs were tested for circulating D. immitis antigens. Overall feline seroprevalence was 15%, while canine prevalence was 2.1%. The highest feline seroprevalences of 18.7% and 17.6% were found in Aveiro and Viseu, respectively, while the highest canine prevalences of 8.8% and 6.8% were found in Coimbra and Aveiro, respectively. Cats and dogs showing respiratory signs presented higher prevalences of 24.4% and 17%, respectively, while 50% of cats with gastrointestinal signs were seropositive. The present study confirms the seropositivity of D. immitis in the feline population in central and northern Portugal, and suggests the importance of including heartworm disease in the list of differential diagnoses of cats and dogs showing clinical signs compatible with the disease.
The Vista Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) ESO Public Survey is an ongoing time-series, near-infrared (IR) survey of the Galactic bulge and an adjacent portion of the inner disk, covering 562 square degrees of the sky, using ESO's VISTA telescope. The survey has provided superb multi-color photometry in 5 broadband filters (Z, Y, J, H, and Ks), leading to the best map of the inner Milky Way ever obtained, particularly in the near-IR. The main part of the survey, which is focused on the variability in the Ks-band, is currently underway, with bulge fields observed between 34 and 73 times, and disk fields between 34 and 36 times. When the survey is complete, bulge (disk) fields will have been observed up to a total of 100 (60) times, providing unprecedented depth and time coverage in the near-IR. Here we provide a first overview of stellar variability in the VVV data.
This study aimed to determine the prevalence of serological markers for HIV-1/2, HBV, HCV, Treponema cruzi and T. pallidum infections. The association of these infections with risk factors in a population from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil was also analysed. Of the 780 enrolled individuals, 545 (70%) were female and 235 (30%) were male. Seroprevalence of 0·8% (6/702), 1·3% (9/678), 1·5% (10/684), 3·5% (23/663) and 11·5% (77/668) for HIV-1/2, HBV, HCV, T. cruzi and T. pallidum infections, respectively, was observed. The seroprevalence of T. pallidum was higher in males 20% (43/210) than in females 7% (34/458) (P < 0·01). An association between age and seroprevalence for T. cruzi (P = 0·02) and T. pallidum (P < 0·01) was observed. HBsAg was associated with having tattoos (3/37 vs. 6/623, P = 0·01) and not having a steady sexual partner (5/141 vs. 4/473, P = 0·04), while anti-HIV-1/2 was associated with having tattoos (2/39 vs. 4/647, P = 0·04); however, larger studies are needed to categorically state the relationship of these risk factors with infectious agents. The prevalence of serological markers for HIV-1/2, HBV, HCV and T. cruzi was consistent with other studies.
We present results of Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) polarimetric 22 GHz H2O maser observations of a number of low/intermediate mass evolved stars. We observed 3 Miras (Ap Lyn, IK Tau and IRC+60370), 1 semi-regular variable (RT Vir) and 1 pPN (OH231.8+4.2). Circular polarization is detected in the H2O maser region of OH231.8+4.2 and we infer a magnetic field of |B||| = ~45 mG. This implies an extrapolated magnetic field of ~2.5 G on the surface of the central star. The preliminary results on RT Vir and IRC+60370 also indicate the first detection of weak H2O maser linear polarization.
During the transition from an AGB star to a planetary nebula, a large number of low/intermediate initial mass stars loses its spherical symmetry. The process responsible for that change of morphology is, so far, not well understood. The candidates responsible for shaping these objects are (i) a companion to the star (binary/heavy planet) and its tidal forces, (ii) disk interaction and (iii) magnetic fields - or a combination of these. In particular a binary induced magnetic field is a promising option. To study this we observed the polarization of H2O masers in the known binary pre-Planetary Nebula (pPN) OH231.8+4.2. Our results show a magnetic field B|| of ~45 mG is present in the H2O maser region of this pPN.