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The seroprevalence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-COV-2) IgG antibody was evaluated among employees of a Veterans Affairs Healthcare System to assess potential risk factors for transmission and infection.
All employees were invited to participate in a questionnaire and serological survey to detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 M protein as part of a facility-wide quality improvement and infection prevention initiative regardless of clinical or non-clinical duties. The initiative was conducted from June 8 to July 8, 2020.
Of the 2900 employees, 50.9% participated in the study, revealing a positive SARS-COV-2 seroprevalence of 4.9% (72/1476), [95% CI of 4.04% - 5.89%]. There were no statistically significant differences in the presence of antibody based on gender, age, frontline worker status, job title, performance of aerosol generating procedures or exposure to known patients with coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19) within the hospital. Employees who reported exposure to a known COVID-19 case outside of work had a significantly higher seroprevalence at 14.84% (23/155) compared to those that did not 3.70% (48/1296), OR 4.53 [95% CI 2.67-7.68] p<0.0001. Notably, 29% of seropositive employees reported no history of symptoms for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Seroprevalence of SARS-COV-2 among employees was not significantly different among those who provided direct patient care and those who did not, suggesting facility-wide infection control measures based were effective. Employees who reported direct personal contact with COVID-19 positive persons outside of work were more likely to have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Employee exposure to SARS-CoV-2 outside of work may introduce infection into hospitals.
Implicit memories like consumption habits and conditioned reactions to drug-related stimuli are operational in addiction and relapse. The affective startle paradigm is an attractive tool for the measurement of the incentive salience of drug-related cues. We tested whether the stronger appetitive valence of drug cues, shown in two recent startle studies in smokers, does persist after prolonged abstinence, and may thus contribute to relapse.
We examined the auditory startle reflex magnitude of mildly deprived (4-6 hours) heavy smokers (n = 24), former smokers (n = 16, mean abstinence interval 18 months), and non-smokers (n = 24) while they viewed smoking-related scenes or standardized unpleasant, neutral and pleasant control scenes from the International Affective Picture System.
As expected, non-smokers showed no appetitive reactions toward smoking-cues. In smokers, smoking-cues had both appetitive implicit (startle suppression) and explicit (ratings for valence and craving) motivational effects, resembling those of pleasant scenes and differing from neutral and unpleasant scenes. This effect was more pronounced in smokers who later relapsed after a smoking cessation program, and in smokers consuming less than 20 cigarettes per day. Former smokers, despite reporting no craving and negative reactions to smoking cues, still showed evidence of implicit appetitive valence of these cues.
Nicotine addiction results in automatic appetitive reactions to drug-cues, which does not vanish after prolonged abstinence and which may thus contribute to relapses. Heavy smoking may result in a progressive internalization of smoking habits and a decline in reactivity towards external smoking-associated cues.
Psychological stress is associated with accelerated cellular aging and increased risk for aging-related diseases, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear.
We examined the effect of stress on a DNA methylation age predictor that was shown to correlate strongly with chronological age across human tissues (Horvath 2013). Genome-wide DNA methylation was measured in peripheral blood using the 450K Illumina array in three independent cohorts: the Grady Trauma Project/GTP (N=366); a panic disorder case/control sample recruited at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry/MPI-P (N=318); and the Conte Center for the Psychobiology of Early-Life Trauma/Conte (N=42). Age acceleration was calculated by subtracting chronological age from age predicted by DNA methylation. Psychiatric symptomatology and stressors were assessed using standard questionnaires.
DNA methylation age strongly correlated with chronological age in all samples (r=0.9, p=2.5x10<sup>-133</sup>). Cumulative lifetime stress but not childhood or current stress predicted age acceleration in GTP (p=0.012) and MPI-P (p=0.021). Moreover, epigenetic age acceleration predicted depression (GTP: p=0.002; Conte: p=0.014) and panic disorder (p=0.007). In secondary analyses, we examined the effect of lifetime stress on individual CpGs of the DNA methylation age predictor. After correcting for multiple comparisons, we identified in both GTP and MPI-P a stress-regulated CpG near MCAM, a gene implicated in aging-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancers.
Cumulative lifetime stress, but not childhood or current stress, and psychiatric phenotypes are associated with accelerated epigenetic aging. Our findings may explain the accelerated cellular aging and increased disease risk associated with chronic stress and psychiatric disorders.
Recent years have seen an exponential increase in the variety of healthcare data captured across numerous sources. However, mechanisms to leverage these data sources to support scientific investigation have remained limited. In 2013 the Pediatric Heart Network (PHN), funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, developed the Integrated CARdiac Data and Outcomes (iCARD) Collaborative with the goals of leveraging available data sources to aid in efficiently planning and conducting PHN studies; supporting integration of PHN data with other sources to foster novel research otherwise not possible; and mentoring young investigators in these areas. This review describes lessons learned through the development of iCARD, initial efforts and scientific output, challenges, and future directions. This information can aid in the use and optimisation of data integration methodologies across other research networks and organisations.
Empirically-based economic injury levels are lacking for pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris (Hemiptera: Aphididae), as a direct pest of dry peas, Pisum sativum Linnaeus (Fabaceae). To address this need, the relationship between pea aphid density and yield of dry pea (cultivar Aragorn) were quantified by encaging pea aphids at varying densities for 17-day infestation periods during 2009 and 2010 in Moscow, Idaho, United States of America. Pea aphid density after infestation at the early reproductive stage of the crop (x) significantly reduced dry pea seed yield (relative weight of US #1 dry peas, y): y = 0.7733 − 0.00998x + 0.000037x2. Economic injury levels were computed based on this relationship and incorporating the cost of control, crop market value, insecticide efficacy, and crop yield potential. The resulting economic injury levels ranged from five to 19 pea aphids per plant at the start of early reproductive growth stages of dry peas. For usability these were converted to sweep net sample size equivalents of 86–307 pea aphids per twenty-five 180-degree sweeps with a standard sweep net. These economic injury levels are applicable in the inland Pacific Northwest, United States of America, where they were developed and likely in other regions with similar climatic and agronomic conditions.
Research indicates that people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) possess several cognitive biases, including a tendency to over-estimate threat and avoid risk. Studies have suggested that people with OCD not only over-estimate the severity of negative events, but also under-estimate their ability to cope with such occurrences. What is less clear is if they also miscalculate the extent to which they will be emotionally impacted by a given experience.
The aim of the current study was twofold. First, we examined if people with OCD are especially poor at predicting their emotional responses to future events (i.e. affective forecasting). Second, we analysed the relationship between affective forecasting accuracy and risk assessment across a broad domain of behaviours.
Forty-one OCD, 42 non-anxious, and 40 socially anxious subjects completed an affective forecasting task and a self-report measure of risk-taking.
Findings revealed that affective forecasting accuracy did not differ among the groups. In addition, there was little evidence that affective forecasting errors are related to how people assess risk in a variety of situations.
The results of our study suggest that affective forecasting is unlikely to contribute to the phenomenology of OCD or social anxiety disorder. However, that people over-estimate the hedonic impact of negative events might have interesting implications for the treatment of OCD and other disorders treated with exposure therapy.
Seven half-day regional listening sessions were held between December 2016 and April 2017 with groups of diverse stakeholders on the issues and potential solutions for herbicide-resistance management. The objective of the listening sessions was to connect with stakeholders and hear their challenges and recommendations for addressing herbicide resistance. The coordinating team hired Strategic Conservation Solutions, LLC, to facilitate all the sessions. They and the coordinating team used in-person meetings, teleconferences, and email to communicate and coordinate the activities leading up to each regional listening session. The agenda was the same across all sessions and included small-group discussions followed by reporting to the full group for discussion. The planning process was the same across all the sessions, although the selection of venue, time of day, and stakeholder participants differed to accommodate the differences among regions. The listening-session format required a great deal of work and flexibility on the part of the coordinating team and regional coordinators. Overall, the participant evaluations from the sessions were positive, with participants expressing appreciation that they were asked for their thoughts on the subject of herbicide resistance. This paper details the methods and processes used to conduct these regional listening sessions and provides an assessment of the strengths and limitations of those processes.
Herbicide resistance is ‘wicked’ in nature; therefore, results of the many educational efforts to encourage diversification of weed control practices in the United States have been mixed. It is clear that we do not sufficiently understand the totality of the grassroots obstacles, concerns, challenges, and specific solutions needed for varied crop production systems. Weed management issues and solutions vary with such variables as management styles, regions, cropping systems, and available or affordable technologies. Therefore, to help the weed science community better understand the needs and ideas of those directly dealing with herbicide resistance, seven half-day regional listening sessions were held across the United States between December 2016 and April 2017 with groups of diverse stakeholders on the issues and potential solutions for herbicide resistance management. The major goals of the sessions were to gain an understanding of stakeholders and their goals and concerns related to herbicide resistance management, to become familiar with regional differences, and to identify decision maker needs to address herbicide resistance. The messages shared by listening-session participants could be summarized by six themes: we need new herbicides; there is no need for more regulation; there is a need for more education, especially for others who were not present; diversity is hard; the agricultural economy makes it difficult to make changes; and we are aware of herbicide resistance but are managing it. The authors concluded that more work is needed to bring a community-wide, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complexity of managing weeds within the context of the whole farm operation and for communicating the need to address herbicide resistance.
Aberration-corrected STEM has become a standard analytical technique in the field of nanoscience. As “designer materials” have become more in demand in academic circles, verification of a desired product makes atomic-resolutionanalysis mandatory. Industry currently faces the same trend where tailor-made materials are customized for a given application. Here we show several examples where quantifiable atomic-scale manipulation of nanomaterials can have a dramatic impact on structure and, by extension, functionality.
Little is known about the association of cortical Aβ with depression and anxiety among cognitively normal (CN) elderly persons.
We conducted a cross-sectional study derived from the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota; involving CN persons aged ≥ 60 years that underwent PiB-PET scans and completed Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Cognitive diagnosis was made by an expert consensus panel. Participants were classified as having abnormal (≥1.4; PiB+) or normal PiB-PET (<1.4; PiB−) using a global cortical to cerebellar ratio. Multi-variable logistic regression analyses were performed to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) after adjusting for age and sex.
Of 1,038 CN participants (53.1% males), 379 were PiB+. Each one point symptom increase in the BDI (OR = 1.03; 1.00–1.06) and BAI (OR = 1.04; 1.01–1.08) was associated with increased odds of PiB-PET+. The number of participants with BDI > 13 (clinical depression) was greater in the PiB-PET+ than PiB-PET- group but the difference was not significant (OR = 1.42; 0.83–2.43). Similarly, the number of participants with BAI > 10 (clinical anxiety) was greater in the PiB-PET+ than PiB-PET− group but the difference was not significant (OR = 1.77; 0.97–3.22).
As expected, depression and anxiety levels were low in this community-dwelling sample, which likely reduced our statistical power. However, we observed an informative albeit weak association between increased BDI and BAI scores and elevated cortical amyloid deposition. This observation needs to be tested in a longitudinal cohort study.
Previous research has shown relatively diminished medial prefrontal cortex activation and heightened psychophysiological responses during the recollection of personal events in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the origin of these abnormalities is unknown. Twin studies provide the opportunity to determine whether such abnormalities reflect familial vulnerabilities, result from trauma exposure, or are acquired characteristics of PTSD.
In this case–control twin study, 26 male identical twin pairs (12 PTSD; 14 non-PTSD) discordant for PTSD and combat exposure recalled and imagined trauma-unrelated stressful and neutral life events using a standard script-driven imagery paradigm during functional magnetic resonance imaging and concurrent skin conductance measurement.
Diminished activation in the medial prefrontal cortex during Stressful v. Neutral script-driven imagery was observed in the individuals with PTSD, relative to other groups.
Diminished medial prefrontal cortex activation during Stressful v. Neutral script-driven imagery may be an acquired characteristic of PTSD. If replicated, this finding could be used prospectively to inform diagnosis and the assessment of treatment response.
Children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome are at a risk for neurodevelopmental delays. Current guidelines recommend systematic evaluation and management of neurodevelopmental outcomes with referral for early intervention services. The Single Ventricle Reconstruction Trial represents the largest cohort of children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome ever assembled. Data on life events and resource utilisation have been collected annually. We sought to determine the type and prevalence of early intervention services used from age 1 to 4 years and factors associated with utilisation of services.
Data from 14-month neurodevelopmental assessment and annual medical history forms were used. We assessed the impact of social risk and geographic differences. Fisher exact tests and logistic regression were used to evaluate associations.
Annual medical history forms were available for 302 of 314 children. Greater than half of the children (52–69%) were not receiving services at any age assessed, whereas 20–32% were receiving two or more therapies each year. Utilisation was significantly lower in year 4 (31%) compared with years 1–3 (with a range from 40 to 48%) (p<0.001). Social risk factors were not associated with the use of services at any age but there were significant geographic differences. Significant delay was reported by parents in 18–43% of children at ages 3 and 4.
Despite significant neurodevelopmental delays, early intervention service utilisation was low in this cohort. As survival has improved for children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, attention must shift to strategies to optimise developmental outcomes, including enrolment in early intervention when merited.
We sought to comprehensively assess the prevalence and outcomes of complications associated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia (SAB) in children. Secondarily, prevalence of methicillin resistance and outcomes of complications from methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) vs. methicillin-susceptible S. aureus SAB were assessed. This is a single-center cross-sectional study of 376 patients ⩽18 years old with SAB in 1990–2014. Overall, 197 (52%) patients experienced complications, the most common being osteomyelitis (33%), skin and soft tissue infection (31%), and pneumonia (25%). Patients with complications were older (median 3 vs. 0·7 years, P = 0·05) and more had community-associated SAB (66% vs. 34%, P = 0·001). Fewer patients with complications had a SAB-related emergency department or hospital readmission (10% vs. 19%, P = 0·014). Prevalence of methicillin resistance increased from 1990–1999 to 2000–2009, but decreased in 2010–2014. Complicated MRSA bacteremia resulted in more intensive care unit admissions (66% vs. 47%, P = 0·03) and led to increased likelihood of having ⩾2 foci (58% vs. 26%, P < 0·001). From multivariate analysis, community-associated SAB increased risk and concurrent infections decreased risk of complications (odds ratio (OR) 1·82 (1·1–3·02), P = 0·021) and (OR 0·58 (0·34–0·97), P = 0·038), respectively. In conclusion, children with SAB should be carefully evaluated for complications. Methicillin resistance remains associated with poor outcomes but have decreased in overall prevalence.
Large volumes of data and multiple computing platforms are now universal components of paediatric cardiovascular medicine, but are in a constant state of evolution. Often, multiple sets of related data reside in disconnected “silos”, resulting in clinical, administrative, and research activities that may be duplicative, inefficient, and at times inaccurate. Comprehensive and integrated data solutions are needed to facilitate these activities across congenital heart centres. We describe methodology, key considerations, successful use cases, and lessons learnt in developing an integrated data platform across our congenital heart centre.
There is a known high prevalence of genetic and clinical syndrome diagnoses in the paediatric cardiac population. These disorders often have multisystem effects, which may have an important impact on neurodevelopmental outcomes. Taken together, these facts suggest that patients and families may benefit from consultation by genetic specialists in a cardiac neurodevelopmental clinic.
This study assessed the burden of genetic disorders and utility of genetics evaluation in a cardiac neurodevelopmental clinic.
A retrospective chart review was conducted of patients evaluated in a cardiac neurodevelopmental clinic from 6 December, 2011 to 16 April, 2013. All patients were seen by a cardiovascular geneticist with genetic counselling support.
A total of 214 patients were included in this study; 64 of these patients had a pre-existing genetic or syndromic diagnosis. Following genetics evaluation, an additional 19 were given a new clinical or laboratory-confirmed genetic diagnosis including environmental such as teratogenic exposures, malformation associations, chromosomal disorders, and single-gene disorders. Genetic testing was recommended for 112 patients; radiological imaging to screen for congenital anomalies for 17 patients; subspecialist medical referrals for 73 patients; and non-genetic clinical laboratory testing for 14 patients. Syndrome-specific guidelines were available and followed for 25 patients with known diagnosis. American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book asplenia guideline recommendations were given for five heterotaxy patients, and family-based cardiac screening was recommended for 23 families affected by left ventricular outflow tract obstruction.
Genetics involvement in a cardiac neurodevelopmental clinic is helpful in identifying new unifying diagnoses and providing syndrome-specific care, which may impact the patient’s overall health status and neurodevelopmental outcome.
Fontan survivors have depressed cardiac index that worsens over time. Serum biomarker measurement is minimally invasive, rapid, widely available, and may be useful for serial monitoring. The purpose of this study was to identify biomarkers that correlate with lower cardiac index in Fontan patients.
Methods and results
This study was a multi-centre case series assessing the correlations between biomarkers and cardiac magnetic resonance-derived cardiac index in Fontan patients ⩾6 years of age with biochemical and haematopoietic biomarkers obtained ±12 months from cardiac magnetic resonance. Medical history and biomarker values were obtained by chart review. Spearman’s Rank correlation assessed associations between biomarker z-scores and cardiac index. Biomarkers with significant correlations had receiver operating characteristic curves and area under the curve estimated. In total, 97 cardiac magnetic resonances in 87 patients met inclusion criteria: median age at cardiac magnetic resonance was 15 (6–33) years. Significant correlations were found between cardiac index and total alkaline phosphatase (−0.26, p=0.04), estimated creatinine clearance (0.26, p=0.02), and mean corpuscular volume (−0.32, p<0.01). Area under the curve for the three individual biomarkers was 0.63–0.69. Area under the curve for the three-biomarker panel was 0.75. Comparison of cardiac index above and below the receiver operating characteristic curve-identified cut-off points revealed significant differences for each biomarker (p<0.01) and for the composite panel [median cardiac index for higher-risk group=2.17 L/minute/m2 versus lower-risk group=2.96 L/minute/m2, (p<0.01)].
Higher total alkaline phosphatase and mean corpuscular volume as well as lower estimated creatinine clearance identify Fontan patients with lower cardiac index. Using biomarkers to monitor haemodynamics and organ-specific effects warrants prospective investigation.
The intricate hierarchical microstructures typical of biological materials give rise to fascinating combinations of anisotropic mechanical properties that can surpass those of man-made materials. The linking together of three-dimensional (3D) imaging techniques has the potential to reveal these structures in unprecedented detail. However, a complete understanding can only be reached if the relationship between structure and mechanical properties can be elucidated. X-ray-computed tomography (CT) is uniquely placed to image such structures across a wide range of length scales. We review recent technical advances that are leading to improved contrast and spatial resolution. We highlight how time-lapse CT 3D studies can track the response of hierarchical microstructures to mechanical loading.