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Currently no national guidelines exist for the management of scabies outbreaks in residential or nursing care homes for the elderly in the United Kingdom. In this setting, diagnosis and treatment of scabies outbreaks is often delayed and optimal drug treatment, environmental control measures and even outcome measures are unclear. We undertook a systematic review to establish the efficacy of outbreak management interventions and determine evidence-based recommendations. Four electronic databases were searched for relevant studies, which were assessed using a quality assessment tool drawing on STROBE guidelines to describe the quality of observational data. Nineteen outbreak reports were identified, describing both drug treatment and environmental management measures. The quality of data was poor; none reported all outcome measures and only four described symptom relief measures. We were unable to make definitive evidence-based recommendations. We draw on the results to propose a framework for data collection in future observational studies of scabies outbreaks. While high-quality randomised controlled trials are needed to determine optimal drug treatment, evidence on environmental measures will need augmentation through other literature studies. The quality assessment tool designed is a useful resource for reporting of outcome measures including patient-reported measures in future outbreaks.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) possesses several key therapeutic actions, having antidepressant, anti-manic and antipsychotic effects. The adverse effects of ECT, particularly loss of autobiographical memories, are also of great clinical importance. Whether the same ‘mechanism’ underpins all these properties is unknown. Most information about the mechanistic effects of ECT has been obtained in relation to the treatment of depression and the current review will focus on this area.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a candidate biomarker for major depressive disorder (MDD), but it is unclear how peripheral CRP levels relate to the heterogeneous clinical phenotypes of the disorder.
To explore CRP in MDD and its phenotypic associations.
We recruited 102 treatment-resistant patients with MDD currently experiencing depression, 48 treatment-responsive patients with MDD not currently experiencing depression, 48 patients with depression who were not receiving medication and 54 healthy volunteers. High-sensitivity CRP in peripheral venous blood, body mass index (BMI) and questionnaire assessments of depression, anxiety and childhood trauma were measured. Group differences in CRP were estimated, and partial least squares (PLS) analysis explored the relationships between CRP and specific clinical phenotypes.
Compared with healthy volunteers, BMI-corrected CRP was significantly elevated in the treatment-resistant group (P = 0.007; Cohen's d = 0.47); but not significantly so in the treatment-responsive (d = 0.29) and untreated (d = 0.18) groups. PLS yielded an optimal two-factor solution that accounted for 34.7% of variation in clinical measures and for 36.0% of variation in CRP. Clinical phenotypes most strongly associated with CRP and heavily weighted on the first PLS component were vegetative depressive symptoms, BMI, state anxiety and feeling unloved as a child or wishing for a different childhood.
CRP was elevated in patients with MDD, and more so in treatment-resistant patients. Other phenotypes associated with elevated CRP included childhood adversity and specific depressive and anxious symptoms. We suggest that patients with MDD stratified for proinflammatory biomarkers, like CRP, have a distinctive clinical profile that might be responsive to second-line treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Declaration of interest
S.R.C. consults for Cambridge Cognition and Shire; and his input in this project was funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship (110049/Z/15/Z). E.T.B. is employed half time by the University of Cambridge and half time by GlaxoSmithKline; he holds stock in GlaxoSmithKline. In the past 3 years, P.J.C. has served on an advisory board for Lundbeck. N.A.H. consults for GlaxoSmithKline. P.d.B., D.N.C.J. and W.C.D. are employees of Janssen Research & Development, LLC., of Johnson & Johnson, and hold stock in Johnson & Johnson. The other authors report no financial disclosures or potential conflicts of interest.
Guidelines about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recommend broad categories of drugs, but uncertainty remains about what pharmacological treatment to select among all available compounds.
Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials register, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, National PTSD Center Pilots database, PubMed, trial registries, and databases of pharmaceutical companies were searched until February 2016 for double-blind randomised trials comparing any pharmacological intervention or placebo as oral therapy in adults with PTSD. Initially, we performed standard pairwise meta-analyses using a random effects model. We then carried out a network meta-analysis. The main outcome measures were mean change on a standardised scale and all-cause dropout rate. Acute treatment was defined as 8-week follow up.
Desipramine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, phenelzine, risperidone, sertraline, and venlafaxine were more effective than placebo; phenelzine was better than many other active treatments and was the only drug, which was significantly better than placebo in terms of dropouts (odds ratio 7.50, 95% CI 1.72–32.80). Mirtazapine yielded a relatively high rank for efficacy, but the respective value for acceptability was not among the best treatments. Divalproex had overall the worst ranking.
The efficacy and acceptability hierarchies generated by our study were robust against many sources of bias. The differences between drugs and placebo were small, with the only exception of phenelzine. Considering the small amount of available data, these results are probably not robust enough to suggest phenelzine as a drug of choice. However, findings from this review reinforce the idea that phenelzine should be prioritised in future trials in PTSD.
The possible role of glutamate in the pathophysiology and treatment of depression is of intense current interest. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) enables the detection of glutamate in the living human brain and meta-analyses of previous MRS studies in depressed patients have suggested that glutamate levels are decreased in anterior brain regions. Nevertheless, at conventional magnetic field strengths [1.5–3 Tesla (T)], it is difficult to separate glutamate from its metabolite and precursor, glutamine, with the two often being measured together as Glx. In contrast, MRS at 7 T allows clear spectral resolution of glutamate and glutamine.
We studied 55 un-medicated depressed patients and 50 healthy controls who underwent MRS scanning at 7 T with voxels placed in anterior cingulate cortex, occipital cortex and putamen (PUT). Neurometabolites were calculated using the unsuppressed water signal as a reference.
Compared with controls, depressed patients showed no significant difference in glutamate in any of the three voxels studied; however, glutamine concentrations in the patients were elevated by about 12% in the PUT (p < 0.001).
The increase in glutamine in PUT is of interest in view of the postulated role of the basal ganglia in the neuropsychology of depression and is consistent with elevated activity in the descending cortical glutamatergic innervation to the PUT. The basal ganglia have rarely been the subject of MRS investigations in depressed patients and further MRS studies of these structures in depression are warranted.
Treatment of medical patients with the inflammatory cytokine, interferon-α (IFN-α), is frequently associated with the development of clinical depressive symptomatology. Several important biological correlates of the effect of IFN-α on mood have been described, but the neuropsychological changes associated with IFN-α treatment are largely unexplored. The aim of the present preliminary study was to assess the effect of IFN-α on measures of emotional processing.
We measured changes in emotional processing over 6–8 weeks in 17 patients receiving IFN-α as part of their treatment for hepatitis C virus infection. Emotional processing tasks included those which have previously been shown to be sensitive to the effects of depression and antidepressant treatment, namely facial expression recognition, emotional categorisation and the dot probe attentional task.
Following IFN-α, patients were more accurate at detecting facial expressions of disgust; they also showed diminished attentional vigilance to happy faces. IFN-α produced the expected increases in scores on depression rating scales, but there was no correlation between these scores and the changes in emotional processing.
Our preliminary findings suggest that IFN-α treatment produces negative biases in emotional processing, and this effect is not simply a consequence of depression. It is possible that increased recognition of disgust may represent a neuropsychological marker of depressive disorders related to inflammation.
Pragmatic studies indicate that a substantial number of depressed patients do not remit with current first-line antidepressant treatments and after two failed treatment steps the chance of remission with subsequent therapies is around 15%. This paper focuses on current evidence for pharmacological treatments in resistant depression as well as possible future developments. For patients who have failed to respond to two antidepressant trials, augmentation with atypical antipsychotic drugs, specifically quetiapine and aripiprazole, has the best evidence for efficacy, though older treatments such as lithium and triiodothyronine still have utility. The striking antidepressant effect of ketamine in resistant depression has stimulated research into glutamatergic compounds; however, capturing the efficacy of ketamine with drugs suitable for continuous use has proved challenging. Growing knowledge of the pathophysiological role of inflammation in depression offers great opportunities for future treatment in terms of repurposing anti-inflammatory agents from general medicine and pre-treatment stratification of those depressed patients in whom such interventions are likely to be beneficial. Finally an older drug, the dopamine receptor agonist pramipexole, if used carefully may well improve the prospects of depressed patients who are refractory to current approaches.
This paper briefly describes the principle of operation and science goals of the AMANDA high energy neutrino telescope located at the South Pole, Antarctica. Results from an earlier phase of the telescope, called AMANDA-BIO, demonstrate both reliable operation and the broad astrophysical reach of this device, which includes searches for a variety of sources of ultrahigh energy neutrinos: generic point sources, Gamma-Ray Bursts and diffuse sources. The predicted sensitivity and angular resolution of the telescope were confirmed by studies of atmospheric muon and neutrino backgrounds. We also report on the status of the analysis from AMANDA-II, a larger version with far greater capabilities. At this stage of analysis, details of the ice properties and other systematic uncertainties of the AMANDA-II telescope are under study, but we have made progress toward critical science objectives. In particular, we present the first preliminary flux limits from AMANDA-II on the search for continuous emission from astrophysical point sources, and report on the search for correlated neutrino emission from Gamma Ray Bursts detected by BATSE before decommissioning in May 2000. During the next two years, we expect to exploit the full potential of AMANDA-II with the installation of a new data acquisition system that records full waveforms from the in-ice optical sensors.
Persistent major depression that does not respond to adequate first- or
second-line treatment is a common problem in psychiatry. This article
updates evidence on recommended treatment strategies and reviews the
prospects of more experimental approaches. The main pharmacological
development in recent years has been the demonstration that several atypical
antipsychotic drugs are effective adjunctive agents in improving symptoms in
depression unresponsive to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, although
their adverse effect burden is high. There is optimism about novel
pharmacological strategies based on glutamatergic and anti-inflammatory
mechanisms. It is important to combine drug and psychological treatments
whenever possible. With persistent therapeutic engagement, the majority of
patients remit eventually, but subsequent relapse remains a problem.
Clinicians should pursue an active and collaborative treatment plan that
makes use of all effective therapeutic modalities and continues into the
Fluoxetine is generally regarded as the first-line pharmacological treatment for young people, as it is believed to show a more favourable benefit:risk ratio than other antidepressants. However, the mechanisms through which fluoxetine influences symptoms in youth have been little investigated. This study examined whether acute administration of fluoxetine in a sample of young healthy adults altered the processing of affective information, including positive, sad and anger cues.
A total of 35 male and female volunteers aged between 18 and 21 years old were randomized to receive a single 20 mg dose of fluoxetine or placebo. At 6 h after administration, participants completed a facial expression recognition task, an emotion-potentiated startle task, an attentional dot-probe task and the Rapid Serial Visual Presentation. Subjective ratings of mood, anxiety and side effects were also taken pre- and post-fluoxetine/placebo administration.
Relative to placebo-treated participants, participants receiving fluoxetine were less accurate at identifying anger and sadness and did not show the emotion-potentiated startle effect. There were no overall significant effects of fluoxetine on subjective ratings of mood.
Fluoxetine can modulate emotional processing after a single dose in young adults. This pattern of effects suggests a potential cognitive mechanism for the greater benefit:risk ratio of fluoxetine in adolescent patients.
Major depression is associated with abnormalities in reward processing at neural and behavioural levels. Neural abnormalities in reward have been described in young people at familial risk of depression but behavioural changes in reward-based decision making have been less studied in this group.
We studied 63 young people (mean age 18.9 years) with a parent with a diagnosis of major depression but who had never been depressed themselves, that is with a positive family history of depression (the FH+ group). Participants performed the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT), which provides several measures of decision making including deliberation time, quality of decision making, risk taking, risk adjustment and delay aversion. A control group of 49 age- and gender-matched young people with no history of mood disorder in a first-degree relative undertook the same task.
Both FH+ participants and controls had low and equivalent scores on anxiety and depression self-rating scales. Compared to controls, the FH+ participants showed overall lower risk taking, although like controls they made more risky choices as the odds of a favourable outcome increased. No other measures of decision making differed between the two groups.
Young people at increased familial risk of depression have altered risk taking that is not accounted for by current affective symptomatology. Lowered risk taking might represent an impairment in reward seeking, which is one of several changes in reward-based behaviours seen in acutely depressed patients; however, our findings suggest that decreased reward seeking could be part of a risk endophenotype for depression.
Notable advances have taken place on the continent of recent years in the study of bronze types of the Late Bronze Age, and of their distribution both in time and space. In Britain, too, progress has been made. We have some while since distinguished a Late Bronze Age II (roughly equivalent to Hallstatt B) from a Late Bronze Age I (roughly Hallstatt A), and latterly even begun—though still dimly—to envisage a Late Bronze Age III, which would be the counterpart with us of a true Hallstatt period (Reinecke's Hallstatt C and D, or Montelius VI).
In regard to swords we recognize the intrusive Carp's-Tongue variety, characteristic of the opening of our Late Bronze Age II, and certain native weapons that are contemporary with it. We have also long been familiar with the later Hallstatt bronze swords of Gündlingen type. But the series as a whole has not yet been studied, and its origins are vague and ill-documented. It is the object of this paper to offer a reasoned starting-point for the sequence of development in Britain, so that we may be the better equipped to determine which of our sword-types can properly be assigned to our own Late Bronze Age I, and even, possibly, to throw some light on the chronology of the period.
Major depression is associated with abnormalities in the function and structure of the hippocampus. However, it is unclear whether these abnormalities might also be present in people ‘at risk’ of illness.
We studied 62 young people (mean age 18.8 years) at familial risk of depression (FH+) but who had never been depressed themselves. Participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging to assess hippocampal structure and neural responses to a task designed to activate hippocampal memory networks. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure levels of a combination of glutamine and glutamate (Glx) in the right hippocampus. A total of 59 matched controls with no history of mood disorder in a first-degree relative underwent the same investigations.
Hippocampal volume did not differ between FH+ participants and controls; however, relative to controls, during the memory task, FH+ participants showed increased activation in brain regions encompassing the insular cortices, putamen and pallidum as well as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). FH+ participants also had increased hippocampal levels of Glx.
Euthymic individuals with a parental history of depression demonstrate increased activation of hippocampal-related neural networks during a memory task, particularly in brain regions involved in processing the salience of stimuli. Changes in the activity of the ACC replicate previous findings in FH+ participants using different psychological tasks; this suggests that task-related abnormalities in the ACC may be a marker of vulnerability to depression. Increased levels of Glx in the hippocampus might also represent a risk biomarker but follow-up studies will be required to test these various possibilities.