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Bibliometric methods were used to analyse the major research trends, themes and topics over the last 30 years in the parasitology discipline. The tools used were SciMAT, VOSviewer and SWIFT-Review in conjunction with the parasitology literature contained in the MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus and Dimensions databases. The analyses show that the major research themes are dynamic and continually changing with time, although some themes identified based on keywords such as malaria, nematode, epidemiology and phylogeny are consistently referenced over time. We note the major impact of countries like Brazil has had on the literature of parasitology research. The increase in recent times of research productivity on ‘antiparasitics’ is discussed, as well as the change in emphasis on different antiparasitic drugs and insecticides over time. In summary, innovation in parasitology is global, extensive, multidisciplinary, constantly evolving and closely aligned with the availability of technology.
Giardiasis is one of the most important non-viral causes of human diarrhoea. Yet, little is known about the epidemiology of giardiasis in the context of developed countries such as Australia and there is a limited information about local sources of exposure to inform prevention strategies in New South Wales. This study aimed to (1) describe the epidemiology of giardiasis and (2) identify potential modifiable risk factors associated with giardiasis that are unique to south-western Sydney, Australia. A 1:2 matched case-control study of 190 confirmed giardiasis cases notified to the South-Western Local Health District Public Health Unit from January to December 2016 was employed to investigate the risk factors for giardiasis. Two groups of controls were selected to increase response rate; Pertussis cases and neighbourhood (NBH) controls. A matched analysis was carried out for both control groups separately. Variables with a significant odds ratio (OR) in the univariate analysis were placed into a multivariable regression for each matched group, respectively. In the regression model with the NBH controls, age and sex were controlled as potential confounders. Identified risk factors included being under 5 years of age (aOR = 7.08; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.02–49.36), having a household member diagnosed with a gastrointestinal illness (aOR = 15.89; 95% CI 1.53–164.60) and having contact with farm animals, domestic animals or wildlife (aOR = 3.03; 95% CI 1.08–8.54). Cases that travelled overseas were at increased risk of infection (aOR = 19.89; 95% CI 2.00–197.37) when compared with Pertussis cases. This study provides an update on the epidemiology and associated risk factors of a neglected tropical disease, which can inform enhanced surveillance and prevention strategies in the developed metropolitan areas.
Background: Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the synaptic scaffolding gene SHANK2 are strongly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, their impact on the function of human neurons is unknown. Derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from affected individuals permits generation of live neurons to answer this question. Methods: We generated iPSCs by reprogramming dermal fibroblasts of neurotypic and ASD-affected donors. To isolate the effect of SHANK2, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to knock out SHANK2 in control iPSCs and correct a heterozygous nonsense mutation in ASD-affected donor iPSCs. We then derived cortical neurons from SOX1+ neural precursor cells differentiated from these iPSCs. Using a novel assay that overcomes line-to-line variability, we compared neuronal morphology, total synapse number, and electrophysiological properties between SHANK2 mutants and controls. Results: Relative to controls, SHANK2 mutant neurons have increased dendrite complexity, dendrite length, total synapse number (1.5-2-fold), and spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic current (sEPSC) frequency (3-7.6-fold). Conclusions: ASD-associated heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in SHANK2 increase synaptic connectivity among human neurons by increasing synapse number and sEPSC frequency. This is partially supported by increased dendrite length and complexity, providing evidence that SHANK2 functions as a suppressor of dendrite branching during neurodevelopment.
Recent evidence suggests that exercise plays a role in cognition and that the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) can be divided into dorsal and ventral subregions based on distinct connectivity patterns.
To examine the effect of physical activity and division of the PCC on brain functional connectivity measures in subjective memory complainers (SMC) carrying the epsilon 4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE 4) allele.
Participants were 22 SMC carrying the APOE ɛ4 allele (ɛ4+; mean age 72.18 years) and 58 SMC non-carriers (ɛ4–; mean age 72.79 years). Connectivity of four dorsal and ventral seeds was examined. Relationships between PCC connectivity and physical activity measures were explored.
ɛ4+ individuals showed increased connectivity between the dorsal PCC and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and the ventral PCC and supplementary motor area (SMA). Greater levels of physical activity correlated with the magnitude of ventral PCC–SMA connectivity.
The results provide the first evidence that ɛ4+ individuals at increased risk of cognitive decline show distinct alterations in dorsal and ventral PCC functional connectivity.
In-spiraling supermassive black holes should emit gravitational waves, which would produce characteristic distortions in the time of arrival residuals from millisecond pulsars. Multiple national and regional consortia have constructed pulsar timing arrays by precise timing of different sets of millisecond pulsars. An essential aspect of precision timing is the transfer of the times of arrival to a (quasi-)inertial frame, conventionally the solar system barycenter. The barycenter is determined from the knowledge of the planetary masses and orbits, which has been refined over the past 50 years by multiple spacecraft. Within the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), uncertainties on the solar system barycenter are emerging as an important element of the NANOGrav noise budget. We describe what is known about the solar system barycenter, touch upon how uncertainties in it affect gravitational wave studies with pulsar timing arrays, and consider future trends in spacecraft navigation.
Sufficient I intake is important for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, which play an important role in normal growth and development. Our aim was to estimate habitual I intake for the Dutch population and the risk of inadequate or excessive intakes. Further, we aimed to provide an insight into the dietary sources of I and the association with socio-demographic factors. Data from the Dutch National Food Consumption Survey 2007–2010 (n 3819; 7–69 years), and from the Dutch food and supplement composition tables were used to estimate habitual I intake with a calculation model. Contribution of food groups to I intake were computed and multiple linear regression was used to examine associations of intakes with socio-demographic factors. A total of ≤2 % of the population had an intake below the estimated average requirement or above the upper level. The main sources of I were bread containing iodised salt (39 %), dairy products (14 %) and non-alcoholic drinks (6 %). I intake (natural sources only, excluding iodised salt and supplements) was positively associated with (parental) education, which could at least partly be attributed to a higher consumption of dairy products. Among children, the consumption of bread, often containing iodised bakery salt, was positively associated with parental education. The I intake of the Dutch population (7–69 years) seems adequate, although it has decreased since the period before 2008. With the current effort to reduce salt intake and changing dietary patterns (i.e. less bread, more organic foods) it is important to keep a close track on the I status, important sources and potential risk groups.
Seasonal respiratory infections place an increased burden on health services annually. We used a sentinel emergency department syndromic surveillance system to understand the factors driving respiratory attendances at emergency departments (EDs) in England. Trends in different respiratory indicators were observed to peak at different points during winter, with further variation observed in the distribution of attendances by age. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed acute respiratory infection and bronchitis/bronchiolitis ED attendances in patients aged 1–4 years were particularly sensitive indicators for increasing respiratory syncytial virus activity. Using near real-time surveillance of respiratory ED attendances may provide early warning of increased winter pressures in EDs, particularly driven by seasonal pathogens. This surveillance may provide additional intelligence about different categories of attendance, highlighting pressures in particular age groups, thereby aiding planning and preparation to respond to acute changes in EDs, and thus the health service in general.
Personalised nutrition (PN) has the potential to reduce disease risk and optimise health and performance. Although previous research has shown good acceptance of the concept of PN in the UK, preferences regarding the delivery of a PN service (e.g. online v. face-to-face) are not fully understood. It is anticipated that the presence of a free at point of delivery healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), in the UK may have an impact on end-user preferences for deliverances. To determine this, supplementary analysis of qualitative data obtained from focus group discussions on PN service delivery, collected as part of the Food4Me project in the UK and Ireland, was undertaken. Irish data provided comparative analysis of a healthcare system that is not provided free of charge at the point of delivery to the entire population. Analyses were conducted using the ‘framework approach’ described by Rabiee (Focus-group interview and data analysis. Proc Nutr Soc 63, 655-660). There was a preference for services to be led by the government and delivered face-to-face, which was perceived to increase trust and transparency, and add value. Both countries associated paying for nutritional advice with increased commitment and motivation to follow guidelines. Contrary to Ireland, however, and despite the perceived benefit of paying, UK discussants still expected PN services to be delivered free of charge by the NHS. Consideration of this unique challenge of free healthcare that is embedded in the NHS culture will be crucial when introducing PN to the UK.
Although beta-amyloid, anxiety and depression have been linked cross-sectionally to reduced memory function in healthy older adults without dementia, prospective data evaluating these associations are lacking. Using data from an observational cohort study of 178 healthy older adults without dementia followed for 3 years, we found that anxiety symptoms significantly moderated the relationship between beta-amyloid level and decline in verbal (Cohen's d = 0.65) and episodic (Cohen's d = 0.38) memory. Anxiety symptoms were additionally linked to greater decline in executive function, irrespective of beta-amyloid and other risk factors. These findings suggest that interventions to mitigate anxiety symptoms may help delay memory decline in otherwise healthy older adults with elevated beta-amyloid.
The Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL) Flagship Study of Ageing is a prospective study of 1,112 individuals (211 with Alzheimer's disease (AD), 133 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 768 healthy controls (HCs)). Here we report diagnostic and cognitive findings at the first (18-month) follow-up of the cohort. The first aim was to compute rates of transition from HC to MCI, and MCI to AD. The second aim was to characterize the cognitive profiles of individuals who transitioned to a more severe disease stage compared with those who did not.
Eighteen months after baseline, participants underwent comprehensive cognitive testing and diagnostic review, provided an 80 ml blood sample, and completed health and lifestyle questionnaires. A subgroup also underwent amyloid PET and MRI neuroimaging.
The diagnostic status of 89.9% of the cohorts was determined (972 were reassessed, 28 had died, and 112 did not return for reassessment). The 18-month cohort comprised 692 HCs, 82 MCI cases, 197 AD patients, and one Parkinson's disease dementia case. The transition rate from HC to MCI was 2.5%, and cognitive decline in HCs who transitioned to MCI was greatest in memory and naming domains compared to HCs who remained stable. The transition rate from MCI to AD was 30.5%.
There was a high retention rate after 18 months. Rates of transition from healthy aging to MCI, and MCI to AD, were consistent with established estimates. Follow-up of this cohort over longer periods will elucidate robust predictors of future cognitive decline.
It is predicted that non-communicable diseases will account for over 73 % of global mortality in 2020. Given that the majority of these deaths occur in developed countries such as the UK, and that up to 80 % of chronic disease could be prevented through improvements in diet and lifestyle, it is imperative that dietary guidelines and disease prevention strategies are reviewed in order to improve their efficacy. Since the completion of the human genome project our understanding of complex interactions between environmental factors such as diet and genes has progressed considerably, as has the potential to individualise diets using dietary, phenotypic and genotypic data. Thus, there is an ambition for dietary interventions to move away from population-based guidance towards ‘personalised nutrition’. The present paper reviews current evidence for the public acceptance of genetic testing and personalised nutrition in disease prevention. Health and clear consumer benefits have been identified as key motivators in the uptake of genetic testing, with individuals reporting personal experience of disease, such as those with specific symptoms, being more willing to undergo genetic testing for the purpose of personalised nutrition. This greater perceived susceptibility to disease may also improve motivation to change behaviour which is a key barrier in the success of any nutrition intervention. Several consumer concerns have been identified in the literature which should be addressed before the introduction of a nutrigenomic-based personalised nutrition service. Future research should focus on the efficacy and implementation of nutrigenomic-based personalised nutrition.
Dientamoeba fragilis is an intestinal protozoan in humans that is commonly associated with diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal complaints. Studies conducted to investigate the biology of this parasite are limited by methods for in vitro cultivation. The objective of this study was to improve a biphasic culture medium, based on the Loeffler's slope, by further supplementation in order to increase the yield of trophozoites in culture. The current in vitro culture of D. fragilis is a xenic culture with a mix of bacteria. Three different liquid overlays were evaluated including Earle's balanced salt solution (EBSS), PBS and Dulbecco's modified PBS (DPBS), for their ability to support the in vitro growth of D. fragilis trophozoites. Out of these 3 overlays EBSS gave the highest increase in the trophozoite numbers. The effect of supplementation was analysed by supplementing EBSS with ascorbic acid, ferric ammonium citrate, L-cysteine, cholesterol and alpha-lipoic acid and quantification of in vitro growth by cell counts. A new liquid overlay is here described based upon EBSS supplemented with cholesterol and ferric ammonium citrate that, in conjunction with the Loeffler's slope, supports the growth of D. fragilis trophozoites in vitro. This modified overlay supported a 2-fold increase in the numbers of trophozoite in culture from all 4 D. fragilis isolates tested, when compared to a PBS overlay. These advances enable the harvest of a larger number of trophozoites needed for further studies on this parasite.
Dientamoeba fragilis is a pathogenic protozoan parasite that is implicated as a cause of human diarrhoea. A case-controlled study was conducted to determine the clinical signs associated with D. fragilis infection in children presenting to a Sydney Hospital. Treatment options are also discussed. Stool specimens were collected from children aged 15 years or younger and analysed for the presence of D. fragilis. In total, 41 children were included in the study along with a control group. Laboratory diagnosis was performed by microscopy of permanently stained, fixed faecal smears and by real-time PCR. Gastrointestinal symptoms were present in 40/41 (98%) of these children with dientamoebiasis, with diarrhoea (71%) and abdominal pain (29%) the most common clinical signs. Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms were present in 2% of cases. The most common anti-microbial used for treatment was metronidazole (n=41), with complete resolution of symptoms and clearance of parasite occurring in 85% of cases. A treatment failure rate occurred in 15% of those treated with metronidazole. Follow-up treatment comprised of an additional course of metronidazole or iodoquinol was needed in order to achieve complete resolution of infection and symptoms in this group. This study demonstrates the pathogenic potential of D. fragilis in children and as such it is recommended that all laboratories must routinely test for this organism and treat if detected.
Uncertainties exist regarding the population risks of hospitalization due to pandemic influenza A(H1N1). Understanding these risks is important for patients, clinicians and policy makers. This study aimed to clarify these uncertainties. A national surveillance system was established for patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed pandemic influenza A(H1N1) in England. Information was captured on demographics, pre-existing conditions, treatment and outcomes. The relative risks of hospitalization associated with pre-existing conditions were estimated by combining the captured data with population prevalence estimates. A total of 2416 hospitalizations were reported up to 6 January 2010. Within the population, 4·7 people/100 000 were hospitalized with pandemic influenza A(H1N1). The estimated hospitalization rate of cases showed a U-shaped distribution with age. Chronic kidney disease, chronic neurological disease, chronic respiratory disease and immunosuppression were each associated with a 10- to 20-fold increased risk of hospitalization. Patients who received antiviral medication within 48 h of symptom onset were less likely to be admitted to critical care than those who received them after this time (adjusted odds ratio 0·64, 95% confidence interval 0·44–0·94, P=0·024). In England the risk of hospitalization with pandemic influenza A(H1N1) has been concentrated in the young and those with pre-existing conditions. By quantifying these risks, this study will prove useful in planning for the next winter in the northern and southern hemispheres, and for future pandemics.
The tribe Fabeae (formerly Vicieae) contains some of humanity's most important grain legume crops, namely Lathyrus (grass pea/sweet pea/chickling vetches; about 160 species); Lens (lentils; 4 species); Pisum (peas; 3 species); Vicia (vetches; about 140 species); and the monotypic genus Vavilovia. Reconstructing the phylogenetic relationships within this group is essential for understanding the origin and diversification of these crops. Our study, based on molecular data, has positioned Pisum genetically between Vicia and Lathyrus and shows it to be closely allied to Vavilovia. A study of phylogeography, using a combination of plastid and nuclear markers, suggested that wild pea spread from its centre of origin, the Middle East, eastwards to the Caucasus, Iran and Afghanistan, and westwards to the Mediterranean. To allow for direct data comparison, we utilized model-based Bayesian Analysis of Population structure (BAPS) software on 4429 Pisum accessions from three large world germplasm collections that include both wild and domesticated pea analyzed by retrotransposon-based markers. An analysis of genetic diversity identified separate clusters containing wild material, distinguishing Pisum fulvum, P. elatius and P. abyssinicum, supporting the view of separate species or subspecies. Moreover, accessions of domesticated peas of Afghan, Ethiopian and Chinese origin were distinguished. In addition to revealing the genetic relationships, these results also provided insight into geographical and phylogenetic partitioning of genetic diversity. This study provides the framework for defining global Pisum germplasm diversity as well as suggesting a model for the domestication of the cultivated species. These findings, together with gene-based sequence analysis, show that although introgression from wild species has been common throughout pea domestication, much of the diversity still resides in wild material and could be used further in breeding. Moreover, although existing collections contain over 10,000 pea accessions, effort should be directed towards collecting more wild material in order to preserve the genetic diversity of the species.
Dientamoeba fragilis is a pathogen of the human gastrointestinal tract that is a common cause of diarrhoea. A paucity of knowledge on the in vitro cultivation and cryopreservation of Dientamoeba has meant that few studies have been conducted to investigate its biology. The objective of this study was to define, for the first time, in vitro culture conditions able to support the long-term in vitro growth of Dientamoeba. Also, we aimed to define a suitable method for cryopreserving viable Dientamoeba trophozoites. A modified BD medium, TYGM-9, Loeffler's slope medium, Robinson's medium, Medium 199, Trichosel and a Tritrichomonas fetus medium were compared, using cell counts, for their ability to support the growth of D. fragilis at various temperatures and atmospheric conditions. Loeffler's slope medium supported significantly better growth compared to other media. A temperature of 42°C and a microaerophilic atmosphere were also optimum for Dientamoeba growth. To our knowledge, this is the first study to describe and compare different culture media and conditions for the growth of clinical isolates of D. fragilis. This new technology will aid the development of diagnostics for dientamoebiasis as well as facilitate large-scale sequencing projects that will fast track molecular studies on D. fragilis.
The UK was one of few European countries to document a substantial wave of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza in summer 2009. The First Few Hundred (FF100) project ran from April–June 2009 gathering information on early laboratory-confirmed cases across the UK. In total, 392 confirmed cases were followed up. Children were predominantly affected (median age 15 years, IQR 10–27). Symptoms were mild and similar to seasonal influenza, with the exception of diarrhoea, which was reported by 27%. Eleven per cent of all cases had an underlying medical condition, similar to the general population. The majority (92%) were treated with antiviral drugs with 12% reporting adverse effects, mainly nausea and other gastrointestinal complaints. Duration of illness was significantly shorter when antivirals were given within 48 h of onset (median 5 vs. 9 days, P=0·01). No patients died, although 14 were hospitalized, of whom three required mechanical ventilation. The FF100 identified key clinical and epidemiological characteristics of infection with this novel virus in near real-time.