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Positive symptoms are a useful predictor of aggression in schizophrenia. Although a similar pattern of abnormal brain structures related to both positive symptoms and aggression has been reported, this observation has not yet been confirmed in a single sample.
To study the association between positive symptoms and aggression in schizophrenia on a neurobiological level, a prospective meta-analytic approach was employed to analyze harmonized structural neuroimaging data from 10 research centers worldwide. We analyzed brain MRI scans from 902 individuals with a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia and 952 healthy controls.
The result identified a widespread cortical thickness reduction in schizophrenia compared to their controls. Two separate meta-regression analyses revealed that a common pattern of reduced cortical gray matter thickness within the left lateral temporal lobe and right midcingulate cortex was significantly associated with both positive symptoms and aggression.
These findings suggested that positive symptoms such as formal thought disorder and auditory misperception, combined with cognitive impairments reflecting difficulties in deploying an adaptive control toward perceived threats, could escalate the likelihood of aggression in schizophrenia.
Maternal insufficiency during fetal development can have long-lasting effects on the offspring, most notably on nephron endowment. In polycystic kidney disease (PKD), variability in severity of disease is observed and maternal environment may be a modifying factor. In this study, we first established that in a rodent model of PKD, the Lewis polycystic kidney (LPK) rat’s nephron numbers are 25% lower compared with wildtype animals. We then investigated the effects of prenatal and postnatal maternal environment on phenotype and nephron number. LPK pups born from and raised by homozygous LPK dams (control) were compared with LPK pups cross-fostered onto heterozygous LPK dams to improve postnatal environment; with LPK pups born from and raised by heterozygous LPK dams to improve both prenatal and postnatal environment and with LPK pups born from and raised by Wistar Kyoto-LPK heterozygous dams to improve both prenatal and postnatal environment on a different genetic background. Improvement in both prenatal and postnatal environment improved postnatal growth, renal function and reduced blood pressure, most notably in animals with different genetic background. Animals with improved postnatal environment only showed improved growth and blood pressure, but to a lesser extent. All intervention groups showed increased nephron number compared with control LPK. In summary, prenatal and postnatal environment had significant effect in delaying progression and reducing severity of PKD, including nephron endowment.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
Eustachian tube dysfunction is a disorder for which there are limited medical and surgical treatments. Recently, eustachian tube balloon dilation has been proposed as a potential solution.
A systematic literature review was performed. Abstracts were selected for relevance, and pooled data analysis and qualitative analysis was conducted.
Nine prospective studies, describing 713 eustachian tube balloon dilations in 474 patients (aged 18–86 years), were identified. Follow-up duration ranged from 1.5 to 18 months. Ability to perform a Valsalva manoeuvre improved from 20 to 177 out of 245 ears following eustachian tube balloon dilation and, where data were reported in terms of patient numbers, from 15 to 189 out of 210 patients. Tympanograms were classified as type A in 7 out of 141 ears pre-operatively and in 86 out of 141 ears post-operatively.
Prospective case series can confirm the safety of eustachian tube balloon dilation. As a potential solution for chronic eustachian tube dysfunction, further investigations are warranted to establish a higher level of evidence of efficacy.
This paper gives a brief overview of the Gaia Research for European Astronomy Training (GREAT) network, including a description of the GREAT-ESF Research Network Programme and the GREAT Initial Training Network (GREAT-ITN). Scientific highlights from the GREAT-ITN are noted.
Imidazoles present a tunable, versatile and economical platform for the development of novel liquid solvents and polymer membranes for CO2 capture. An overview of our studies in this area is presented, with emphasis on characterization of structure-property relationships in imidazole-based materials through both experimental and computational studies. To this end, a growing library of systematically varied imidazole compounds has been synthesized using only commercial available starting materials and straightforward reactions. Using this library of compounds, we have sought to understand and develop predictive models for thermophysical properties relating to process design, including: density, viscosity, vapor pressure, pKa and CO2 absorption capacity. Furthermore, we have discovered that imidazoles are stable in the presence of SO2 and can form reversible 1:1 adducts, which can be beneficial as SO2 is typically present at ppm levels alongside CO2 in flue gas from coal-fired power plants.
We prepared organically modified silica (ORMOSIL) nanoparticles with internal functional groups and mesoporosity, suitable for the incorporation of modalities for both MRI imaging and cancer treatment by neutron capture therapy using gadolinium-157 nuclei. These modalities were incorporated by preparing ORMOSIL nanoparticles with reactive functional groups throughout the nanoparticle body, followed by their conversion into the metal chelating moieties inside the nanoparticles.