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White kidney bean extract (WKBE) is a nutraceutical often advocated as an anti-obesity agent. The main proposed mechanism for these effects is alpha-amylase inhibition, thereby slowing carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Thus, it is possible that WKBE could impact the gut microbiota and modulate gut health. We investigated the effects of supplementing 20 healthy adults with WKBE for 1 week in a randomised, placebo-controlled crossover trial on the composition of the gut microbiota, gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation (faecal calprotectin), GI symptoms, and stool habits. We conducted in vitro experiments and used a gut model system to explore potential inhibition of alpha-amylase. We gained qualitative insight into participant experiences of using WKBE via focus groups. WKBE supplementation decreased the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and increased that of Firmicutes, however, there were no significant differences in post-intervention gut microbiota measurements between the WKBE and control. There were no significant effects on GI inflammation or symptoms related to constipation, or stool consistency or frequency. Our in vitro and gut model system analyses showed no effects of WKBE on alpha-amylase activity. Our findings suggest that WKBE may modulate the gut microbiota in healthy adults, however, the underlying mechanism is unlikely due to active site inhibition of alpha-amylase.
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.
Optimising short- and long-term outcomes for children and patients with CHD depends on continued scientific discovery and translation to clinical improvements in a coordinated effort by multiple stakeholders. Several challenges remain for clinicians, researchers, administrators, patients, and families seeking continuous scientific and clinical advancements in the field. We describe a new integrated research and improvement network – Cardiac Networks United – that seeks to build upon the experience and success achieved to-date to create a new infrastructure for research and quality improvement that will serve the needs of the paediatric and congenital heart community in the future. Existing gaps in data integration and barriers to improvement are described, along with the mission and vision, organisational structure, and early objectives of Cardiac Networks United. Finally, representatives of key stakeholder groups – heart centre executives, research leaders, learning health system experts, and parent advocates – offer their perspectives on the need for this new collaborative effort.
Identify trends of enrolment and key challenges when recruiting infants with complex cardiac diseases into a multi-centre, randomised, placebo-controlled drug trial and assess the impact of efforts to share successful strategies on enrolment of subjects.
Rates of screening, eligibility, consent, and randomisation were determined for three consecutive periods of time. Sites collectively addressed barriers to recruitment and shared successful strategies resulting in the Inventory of Best Recruiting Practices. Study teams detailed institutional practices of recruitment in post-trial surveys that were compared with strategies of enrolment initially proposed in the Inventory.
The number of screened patients increased by 30% between the Initial Period and the Intermediate Period (p = 0.007), whereas eligibility decreased slightly by 7%. Of those eligible for entry into the study, the rate of consent increased by 42% (p = 0.025) and randomisation increased by 71% (p = 0.10). During the Final Period, after launch of a competing trial, fewer patients were screened (−14%, p = 0.06), consented (−19%, p = 0.12), and randomised (−34%, p = 0.012). Practices of recruitment in the post-trial survey closely mirrored those in the Inventory.
Early identification and sharing of best strategies of recruitment among all recruiting sites can be effective in increasing recruitment of critically ill infants with congenital cardiac disease and possibly other populations. Strategies of recruitment should focus on those that build relationships with families and create partnerships with the medical providers who care for them. Competing studies pose challenges for enrolment in trials, but fostering trusting relationships with families can result in successful enrolment into multiple studies.
Mucus is a water-insoluble gel secreted by the gastrointestinal tract. It exists as a protective gel layer adherent to the epithelial surface of the stomach, small intestine and colon. The mucus gel is composed of 1–10% (w/v) mucin glycoprotein in a plasma-like fluid. Since the mucus gel is predominantly water, standard histological techniques dehydrate the mucus, making visualisation of the functional barrier difficult. Specialist techniques have been developed to enable visualisation of the intact mucus layer. A simple histological method using snap-frozen tissue, sectioned with a cryostat and stained with modified periodic acid-Schiff s/Alcian blue in mucus-preserving conditions will be described. A second powerful in vivo animal model is described which enables measurement of mucus secretion over time. The use of these two methods has allowed the characterisation of the normal mucus layer in the colon and the determination of how it is affected by disease and dietary intervention, in particular the effect of dietary fibre, and evidence that fibre deficiency results in colonic mucosal fragility is presented.
The colon is subjected to a myriad of potentially damaging agents that may reside within the lumen for 1–2 d. Its first line of defence against these agents is the protective mucus bilayer that lines the entire colonic mucosa. This bilayer acts as a physical barrier to mucosal aggressors and also reduces shear stress to the mucosa. These actions are dependent on the unstimulated (‘resting’) colonic mucus thickness, and also on the rate that this layer can be replenished. The colonic mucus layer is altered in a number of colonic diseases that have been linked to a deficiency of fibre in the diet. The action of fibre intake on colonic mucus thickness and secretion is unknown. Using an in vivo rat model it has been demonstrated that: (1) fibre deficiency leads to a decreased protective potential of the mucus layer (e.g. the mean resting mucus thickness of the fibre-deficient group (429 μm) was significantly lower than its respective control (579 μm; P< 0.001), as was its total mucus secretion over 6 h (270 μm v. 541 μm; P<0.01); (2) specific fibre types in the diet alter the secretion dynamics of colonic mucus (e.g. a cellulose-based diet reduces total mucus secretion over 6 h compared with its control (175 μm v. 463 μm). Analysis of the diets suggested a necessity for both soluble and insoluble fibre types in the diet to increase mucosal protection.
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