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Treatment of liver fibrosis is very limited as there is currently no effective anti-fibrotic therapy. Spirulina platensis (SP) is a blue-green alga that is widely supplemented in healthy foods. The objective of this study was to determine whether SP supplementation can prevent obesity-induced liver fibrosis in vivo. Male C57BL/6J mice were randomly assigned to a low-fat or a high-fat (HF)/high-sucrose/high-cholesterol diet or an HF diet supplemented with 2·5 % SP (w/w) (HF/SP) for 16 or 20 weeks. There were no significant differences in body weight, activity, energy expenditure, serum lipids or glucose tolerance between mice on HF and HF/SP diets. However, plasma alanine aminotransferase level was significantly reduced by SP at 16 weeks. Expression of fibrotic markers and trichrome stains showed no differences between HF and HF/SP. Splenocytes isolated from HF/SP fed mice had lower inflammatory gene expression and cytokine secretion compared with splenocytes from HF-fed mice. SP supplementation did not attenuate HF-induced liver fibrosis. However, the expression and secretion of inflammatory genes in splenocytes were significantly reduced by SP supplementation, demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effects of SP in vivo. Although SP did not show appreciable effect on the prevention of liver fibrosis in this mouse model, it may be beneficial for other inflammatory conditions.
This study investigates Spanish heritage speakers' perception and production of Spanish lexical stress. Stress minimal pairs in various prosodic contexts were used to examine whether heritage speakers successfully identify the stress location despite varying suprasegmental cues (Experiment 1) and whether they use these cues in their production (Experiment 2). Heritage speakers' performance was compared to that of Spanish monolinguals and English L2 learners. In Experiment 1, the heritage speakers showed a clear advantage over the L2 learners and their performance was comparable to that of the monolinguals. In Experiment 2, both the heritage speakers and the L2 learners showed deviating patterns from the monolinguals; they produced a large overlap between paroxytones and oxytones, especially in duration. The discrepancy between heritage speakers' perception and production suggests that, while early exposure to heritage language is beneficial for the perception of heritage language speech sounds, this factor alone does not guarantee target-like production.
Given its diverse disease courses and symptom presentations, multiple phenotype dimensions with different biological underpinnings are expected with bipolar disorders (BPs). In this study, we aimed to identify lifetime BP psychopathology dimensions. We also explored the differing associations with bipolar I (BP-I) and bipolar II (BP-II) disorders.
We included a total of 307 subjects with BPs in the analysis. For the factor analysis, we chose six variables related to clinical courses, 29 indicators covering lifetime symptoms of mood episodes, and 6 specific comorbid conditions. To determine the relationships among the identified phenotypic dimensions and their effects on differentiating BP subtypes, we applied structural equation modeling.
We selected a six-factor solution through scree plot, Velicer's minimum average partial test, and face validity evaluations; the six factors were cyclicity, depression, atypical vegetative symptoms, elation, psychotic/irritable mania, and comorbidity. In the path analysis, five factors excluding atypical vegetative symptoms were associated with one another. Cyclicity, depression, and comorbidity had positive associations, and they correlated negatively with psychotic/irritable mania; elation showed positive correlations with cyclicity and psychotic/irritable mania. Depression, cyclicity, and comorbidity were stronger in BP-II than in BP-I, and they contributed significantly to the distinction between the two disorders.
We identified six phenotype dimensions; in addition to symptom features of manic and depressive episodes, various comorbidities and high cyclicity constructed separate dimensions. Except for atypical vegetative symptoms, all factors showed a complex interdependency and played roles in discriminating BP-II from BP-I.
The submarine channel-fill system of the Cambrian Spurs Formation exhibits unique metre-scale cycles of breccia and diamictite. The studied sections, Eureka Spurs, are located at the Mariner Glacier in the central-eastern part of northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. A facies analysis of the channel-fill deposit has led to the recognition of four main lithofacies: breccia, diamictite, thin-bedded sandstone and mudstone. The channel-fill deposit consists of two architectural elements: hollow-fill (HF) and sheet-like (SL) elements. The SL has wide convex-up geometry and consists solely of a very thick bed of diamictite, and is interpreted as a submarine channel lobe. The HF has a concave-up erosional base and flat upper surface. The HF consists of nine cyclic alternations of underlying breccia (cohesionless debris flow) and overlying diamictite (cohesive debris flow). The deposition of breccia is interpreted to have been controlled by repeated allogenic processes such as earthquakes. In contrast, the abrupt vertical transition from breccia to diamictite in each cycle is interpreted to have resulted from an autogenic, slope instability-related process. The interaction of the allogenic and autogenic factors recorded in the metre-scale unique cyclic deposits provides new criteria to interpret cycles of submarine debris flow.
Objectives: Rotator cuff tear is the leading cause of the decline in quality of life for older adults, but comparative evidence on treatment effectiveness is lacking. This study systematically reviewed the effects of various rotator cuff tear treatments through a Bayesian meta-analysis of the related randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
Methods: We searched nine electronic databases for RCTs evaluating rotator cuff tear treatments from their inception through June 2017. A systematic review was performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-Decision Support Unit guidelines (Supplementary Table 1). Outcomes included functional improvement, pain one year after surgical treatment, and tendon structural integrity. The Bayesian network meta-analysis was applied for functional improvement and pain, based on an assumption of consistency and similarity. Tendon integrity was reported descriptively.
Results: Fifteen RCTs were selected. Patients undergoing physiotherapy after open surgery showed statistically significant functional improvements compared with those undergoing physiotherapy only (mean differences, 9.1 [credible interval, 0.9–17.4]). Open surgery with physiotherapy was associated with a decrease in pain 1 year after treatment compared with when physiotherapy was combined with arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, mini open surgery, platelet-rich plasma therapy, or physiotherapy alone (absolute value of mean difference 1.2 to 1.4). The tendon integrity results were inconsistent.
Conclusions: Some surgical treatments were associated with significant improvement in function and pain, but evidence regarding their comparative effectiveness is still lacking. A well-designed RCT discussing functional and structural treatment outcomes is needed in future.
Despite their importance in the formation and evolution of stellar clusters and galaxies, the formation of high-mass stars remains poorly understood. We recently started a systematic observational study of the 22 GHz water and 44 GHz class I methanol masers in high-mass star-forming regions as a four-year KaVA large program. Our sample consists of 87 high-mass young stellar objects (HM-YSOs) in various evolutionary phases, many of which are associated with two or more different maser species. The primary scientific goals are to measure the spatial distributions and 3-dimensional velocity fields of multiple maser species, and understand the dynamical evolution of HM-YSOs and their circumstellar structures, in conjunction with follow-up observations with JVN/EAVN (6.7 GHz class II methanol masers), VERA, and ALMA. In this paper we present details of our KaVA large program, including the first-year results and observing/data analysis plans for the second year and beyond.
We present the results of the linear polarisation observations of methanol masers at 44 and 95 GHz towards 39 massive star forming regions (Kang et al. 2016). These two lines are observed simultaneously with the 21-m Korean VLBI Network (KVN) telescope in single dish mode. About 60% of the observed showed fractional polarisation of a few percents at least at one of the two transition lines. We note that the linear polarisation of the 44 GHz methanol maser is first detected in this study including single dish and interferometer observations. We find the polarisation properties of these two lines are similar as expected, since they trace similar regions. As a follow-up study, we have carried out the VLBI polarisation observations toward some 44 GHz maser targets using the KVN telescope. We present preliminary VLBI polarisation results of G10.34-0.14, which show consistent polarisation properties in multiple epoch observations.
In the 1990s, a part of the North Korean economy underwent a process of marketization and de facto privatization. While largely spontaneous, this process was eerily reminiscent of developments in other post-Communist countries in Eastern Europe. One of the results was the emergence of a new entrepreneurial class, a nascent bourgeoisie. In order to overcome the obstacles that arose from the lack of any legal framework for their activities, they often chose to register their enterprises with state agencies, creating what we call Pseudo-state Enterprises (PSEs). Utilizing an agency theory approach, with particular emphasis on property rights and contracting problems, this article traces the origin of the PSE, their interaction with the state, how they are managed and the challenges they face. The article is based on refugee interviews with five North Koreans involved with the PSE-related activities in nine entities covering a range of different sectors.
To evaluate the appropriateness of the screening strategy for healthcare personnel (HCP) during a hospital-associated Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, we performed a serologic investigation in 189 rRT-PCR–negative HCP exposed and assigned to MERS patients. Although 20%–25% of HCP experienced MERS-like symptoms, none of them showed seroconversion by plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT).
The HoDoo English game was developed to take advantage of the benefits attributed to on-line games while teaching English to native Korean speakers. We expected to see that the improvements in the subjects’ English language abilities after playing the HoDoo English game would be associated with increased brain functional connectivity in the areas of the brain involved in the language production (Broca’s area) and the understanding (Wernicke’s area) networks. Twelve children, aged nine and ten, were asked to play the on-line English education game for 50 minutes per day, five days per week for twelve weeks. At baseline, and again at the end of twelve weeks of game play, each child’s English language ability was assessed and a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan was conducted. The on-line English education game play effectively improved English language skills, especially in terms of non-verbal pragmatic skills. Following twelve weeks of on-line English education game play, the children showed positive connectivity between Broca’s area and the left frontal cortex as well as between Wernicke’s area and the left parahippocampal gyrus and the right medial frontal gyrus. Changes in pragmatic scores were positively correlated with average peak brain activity in the left parahippocampal gyrus. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report an improvement in English ability and changes in brain activity within language areas after on-line language education game play.
To examine the hypothesis that the association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms is dependent upon total cholesterol level in a representative national sample of the South Korean population.
This was a population-based cross-sectional study.
The Fifth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V, 2010–2012).
We included 7198 adults aged 20–88 years.
The incidence of depressive symptoms in individuals with vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D<20 ng/ml) was 1·54-fold (95 % CI 1·20, 1·98) greater than in individuals without vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D ≥20 ng/ml). The relationship was stronger in individuals with normal-to-borderline serum total cholesterol (serum total cholesterol<240 mg/dl; OR=1·60; 95 % CI 1·23, 2·08) and non-significant in individuals with high serum total cholesterol (OR=0·97; 95 % CI 0·52, 1·81) after adjustment for confounding variables (age, sex, BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking status, regular exercise, income level, education level, marital status, changes in body weight, perceived body shape, season of examination date and cholesterol profiles).
The association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms was weakened by high serum total cholesterol status. These findings suggest that both vitamin D and total cholesterol are important targets for the prevention and treatment of depression.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are common dietary exposures that cross the human placenta and are classified as a probable human carcinogen. The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential impact of exposure to PAH-containing meat consumed during pregnancy on birth outcomes.
Prospective birth cohort study. Only non-smoking women with singleton pregnancies, who were free from chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension, were included in the study. Maternal consumption of PAH-rich meat was estimated through FFQ. Multiple linear regression was used to assess factors related to higher intake and the association between dietary PAH and birth outcomes.
Republic of Korea, 2006–2011.
Pregnant women (n 778) at 12–28 weeks of gestation enrolled in the Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) study.
The multivariable regression model showed a significant reduction in birth weight associated with higher consumption level of foods rich in PAH, such as grilled or roasted meat, during pregnancy (β=−17·48 g, P<0·05 for every 1 point higher in meat score). Further adjusting for biomarkers of airborne PAH did not alter this association. There was no evidence that higher consumption level of PAH-rich meat shortens the duration of gestation (P=0·561). Regression models performed for birth length and head circumference produced negative effects that were not statistically significant.
Consumption of higher levels of barbecued, fried, roasted and smoked meats during pregnancy was associated with reduced birth weight. Dietary risk of PAH exposure in Korean women is of concern.
Background: Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on clinics who subsequently turn out to have normal dopamine transporter images have been referred to as scans without evidence of dopaminergic deficits (SWEDDs) patients. Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction has frequently been reported in PD. In this study, we determined the similarities and differences in cardiac autonomic dysfunction between SWEDDs and PD patients. This study investigated whether 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (24-hour ABPM) can help identify possible cases with SWEDDs. Methods: We enrolled 28 SWEDDs patients, 46 patients with PD, and 30 healthy controls. To evaluate cardiac autonomic function, 24-hour ABPM was performed on all subjects. Cardiac metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy was performed on the SWEDDs and PD subjects. Results: The percentage nocturnal decline in blood pressure differed significantly among SWEDDs patients, PD patients, and controls (p<0.05). In addition to the abnormal nocturnal BP, regulation (nondipping and reverse dipping) was significantly higher in SWEDDs and PD subjects than in the control subjects (p<0.05). There was no significant correlation between the % nocturnal blood pressure reduction and parameters of cardiac MIBG uptake ratio. However, orthostatic hypotension was significant correlated with the nocturnal blood pressure dip (%), nocturnal blood pressure patterns, and the cardiac MIBG uptake ratio (early and late) in combined SWEDDs and PD subjects. Conclusions: Pathologic nocturnal blood pressure regulation and nocturnal hypertension, known characteristics of PD, are also present in SWEDDs. Moreover, cardiac sympathetic denervation should not be attributed to cardiac autonomic dysfunction in SWEDDs patients. As with PD patients, the SWEDDs patients studied here tended to have cardiac autonomic dysfunction.
Cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are prevalent incident findings on brain MRI scans among elderly people and have been consistently implicated in cognitive dysfunction. However, differential roles of WMH by region in cognitive function are still unclear. The aim of this study was to ascertain the differential role of regional WMH in predicting progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to different subtypes of dementia.
Participants were recruited from the Clinical Research Center for Dementia of South Korea (CREDOS) study. A total of 622 participants with MCI diagnoses at baseline and follow-up evaluations were included for the analysis. Initial MRI scans were rated for WMH on a visual rating scale developed for the CREDOS. Differential effects of regional WMH in predicting incident dementia were evaluated using the Cox proportional hazards model.
Of the 622 participants with MCI at baseline, 139 patients (22.3%) converted to all-cause dementia over a median of 14.3 (range 6.0–36.5) months. Severe periventricular WMH (PWMH) predicted incident all-cause dementia (Hazard ratio (HR) 2.22; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.43–3.43) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) (HR 1.86; 95% CI 1.12–3.07). Subcortical vascular dementia (SVD) was predicted by both PWMH (HR 16.14; 95% CI 1.97–132.06) and DWMH (HR 8.77; 95% CI 1.77–43.49) in more severe form (≥ 10 mm).
WMH differentially predict dementia by region and severity. Our findings suggest that PWMH may play an independent role in the pathogenesis of dementia, especially in AD.