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The burden of depression is increasing worldwide, specifically in older adults. Unhealthy dietary patterns may partly explain this phenomenon. In the Spanish PREDIMED-Plus study, we explored (1) the cross-sectional association between the adherence to the Prime Diet Quality Score (PDQS), an a priori-defined high-quality food pattern, and the prevalence of depressive symptoms at baseline (cross-sectional analysis) and (2) the prospective association of baseline PDQS with changes in depressive symptomatology after 2 years of follow-up. After exclusions, we assessed 6612 participants in the cross-sectional analysis and 5523 participants in the prospective analysis. An energy-adjusted high-quality dietary score (PDQS) was assessed using a validated FFQ. The cross-sectional association between PDQS and the prevalence of depression or presence of depressive symptoms and the prospective changes in depressive symptoms were evaluated through multivariable regression models (logistic and linear models and mixed linear-effects models). PDQS was inversely associated with depressive status in the cross-sectional analysis. Participants in the highest quintile of PDQS (Q5) showed a significantly reduced odds of depression prevalence as compared to participants in the lowest quartile of PDQS (Q1) (OR (95 %) CI = 0·82 (0·68, 0·98))). The baseline prevalence of depression decreased across PDQS quintiles (Pfor trend = 0·015). A statistically significant association between PDQS and changes in depressive symptoms after 2-years follow-up was found (β (95 %) CI = −0·67 z-score (–1·17, −0·18). A higher PDQS was cross-sectionally related to a lower depressive status. Nevertheless, the null finding in our prospective analysis raises the possibility of reverse causality. Further prospective investigation is required to ascertain the association between PDQS and changes in depressive symptoms along time.
Obesity is a major public health problem that predisposes to several diseases and higher mortality in patients with COVID-19. Obesity also generates neuroinflammation, which predisposes to the development of neuropsychiatric diseases. Since there is a lack of effective treatments for obesity, the search for new strategies to reverse its consequences is urgent. In this perspective, the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as DHA/EPA might reduce the harmful effects of obesity. Here, we used the cafeteria diet (CAF) model to induce obesity in Wistar rats. Animals received ultra-processed food for 20 weeks, and DHA/EPA supplementation (500 mg/kg per d) was performed between the 16th and the 20th week. At the end of the experiment, it was evaluated: body weight, visceral fat deposition, plasma glucose, insulin and triglycerides, and it was also measured the levels of inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-6 in plasma and liver, and TNF-α in the prefrontal cortex. The elevated plus maze test was performed to analyse anxiety-like behaviour. Our results demonstrated that DHA/EPA could not reverse weight and fat gain and did not modify plasma dosages. However, there was a decrease in IL-6 in the liver (DHA/EPA effect: P = 0.023) and TNF-α in the brain (CAF compared with CAF + DHA/EPA, P < 0.05). Also, there was a decrease in the anxiety index in CAF + DHA/EPA compared with the CAF group (P < 0.01). Thus, DHA/EPA supplementation is helpful to reverse the consequences of obesity in the brain.
A history of childhood adversity is associated with psychotic disorder, with an increase in risk according to the number of exposures. However, it is not known why only some exposed individuals go on to develop psychosis. One possibility is pre-existing polygenic vulnerability. Here, we investigated, in the largest sample of first-episode psychosis (FEP) cases to date, whether childhood adversity and high polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia (SZ-PRS) combine synergistically to increase the risk of psychosis, over and above the effect of each alone.
We assigned a schizophrenia-polygenic risk score (SZ-PRS), calculated from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC2), to all participants in a sample of 384 FEP patients and 690 controls from the case–control component of the EU-GEI study. Only participants of European ancestry were included in the study. A history of childhood adversity was collected using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Synergistic effects were estimated using the interaction contrast ratio (ICR) [odds ratio (OR)exposure and PRS − ORexposure − ORPRS + 1] with adjustment for potential confounders.
There was some evidence that the combined effect of childhood adversities and polygenic risk was greater than the sum of each alone, as indicated by an ICR greater than zero [i.e. ICR 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI) −1.29 to 3.85]. Examining subtypes of childhood adversities, the strongest synergetic effect was observed for physical abuse (ICR 6.25, 95% CI −6.25 to 20.88).
Our findings suggest possible synergistic effects of genetic liability and childhood adversity experiences in the onset of FEP, but larger samples are needed to increase precision of estimates.
A cumulative environmental exposure score for schizophrenia (exposome score for schizophrenia [ES-SCZ]) may provide potential utility for risk stratification and outcome prediction. Here, we investigated whether ES-SCZ was associated with functioning in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder, unaffected siblings, and healthy controls.
This cross-sectional sample consisted of 1,261 patients, 1,282 unaffected siblings, and 1,525 healthy controls. The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale was used to assess functioning. ES-SCZ was calculated based on our previously validated method. The association between ES-SCZ and the GAF dimensions (symptom and disability) was analyzed by applying regression models in each group (patients, siblings, and controls). Additional models included polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (PRS-SCZ) as a covariate.
ES-SCZ was associated with the GAF dimensions in patients (symptom: B = −1.53, p-value = 0.001; disability: B = −1.44, p-value = 0.001), siblings (symptom: B = −3.07, p-value < 0.001; disability: B = −2.52, p-value < 0.001), and healthy controls (symptom: B = −1.50, p-value < 0.001; disability: B = −1.31, p-value < 0.001). The results remained the same after adjusting for PRS-SCZ. The degree of associations of ES-SCZ with both symptom and disability dimensions were higher in unaffected siblings than in patients and controls. By analyzing an independent dataset (the Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis study), we replicated the results observed in the patient group.
Our findings suggest that ES-SCZ shows promise for enhancing risk prediction and stratification in research practice. From a clinical perspective, ES-SCZ may aid in efforts of clinical characterization, operationalizing transdiagnostic clinical staging models, and personalizing clinical management.
Perceived discrimination is associated with worse mental health. Few studies have assessed whether perceived discrimination (i) is associated with the risk of psychotic disorders and (ii) contributes to an increased risk among minority ethnic groups relative to the ethnic majority.
We used data from the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions Work Package 2, a population-based case−control study of incident psychotic disorders in 17 catchment sites across six countries. We calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the associations between perceived discrimination and psychosis using mixed-effects logistic regression models. We used stratified and mediation analyses to explore differences for minority ethnic groups.
Reporting any perceived experience of major discrimination (e.g. unfair treatment by police, not getting hired) was higher in cases than controls (41.8% v. 34.2%). Pervasive experiences of discrimination (≥3 types) were also higher in cases than controls (11.3% v. 5.5%). In fully adjusted models, the odds of psychosis were 1.20 (95% CI 0.91–1.59) for any discrimination and 1.79 (95% CI 1.19–1.59) for pervasive discrimination compared with no discrimination. In stratified analyses, the magnitude of association for pervasive experiences of discrimination appeared stronger for minority ethnic groups (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.12–2.68) than the ethnic majority (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 0.65–3.10). In exploratory mediation analysis, pervasive discrimination minimally explained excess risk among minority ethnic groups (5.1%).
Pervasive experiences of discrimination are associated with slightly increased odds of psychotic disorders and may minimally help explain excess risk for minority ethnic groups.
Psychosis rates are higher among some migrant groups. We hypothesized that psychosis in migrants is associated with cumulative social disadvantage during different phases of migration.
We used data from the EUropean Network of National Schizophrenia Networks studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) case–control study. We defined a set of three indicators of social disadvantage for each phase: pre-migration, migration and post-migration. We examined whether social disadvantage in the pre- and post-migration phases, migration adversities, and mismatch between achievements and expectations differed between first-generation migrants with first-episode psychosis and healthy first-generation migrants, and tested whether this accounted for differences in odds of psychosis in multivariable logistic regression models.
In total, 249 cases and 219 controls were assessed. Pre-migration (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.06–2.44, p = 0.027) and post-migration social disadvantages (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.02–3.51, p = 0.044), along with expectations/achievements mismatch (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.03–1.26, p = 0.014) were all significantly associated with psychosis. Migration adversities (OR 1.18, 95% CI 0.672–2.06, p = 0.568) were not significantly related to the outcome. Finally, we found a dose–response effect between the number of adversities across all phases and odds of psychosis (⩾6: OR 14.09, 95% CI 2.06–96.47, p = 0.007).
The cumulative effect of social disadvantages before, during and after migration was associated with increased odds of psychosis in migrants, independently of ethnicity or length of stay in the country of arrival. Public health initiatives that address the social disadvantages that many migrants face during the whole migration process and post-migration psychological support may reduce the excess of psychosis in migrants.
There is evidence that environmental and genetic risk factors for schizophrenia spectrum disorders are transdiagnostic and mediated in part through a generic pathway of affective dysregulation.
We analysed to what degree the impact of schizophrenia polygenic risk (PRS-SZ) and childhood adversity (CA) on psychosis outcomes was contingent on co-presence of affective dysregulation, defined as significant depressive symptoms, in (i) NEMESIS-2 (n = 6646), a representative general population sample, interviewed four times over nine years and (ii) EUGEI (n = 4068) a sample of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder, the siblings of these patients and controls.
The impact of PRS-SZ on psychosis showed significant dependence on co-presence of affective dysregulation in NEMESIS-2 [relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI): 1.01, p = 0.037] and in EUGEI (RERI = 3.39, p = 0.048). This was particularly evident for delusional ideation (NEMESIS-2: RERI = 1.74, p = 0.003; EUGEI: RERI = 4.16, p = 0.019) and not for hallucinatory experiences (NEMESIS-2: RERI = 0.65, p = 0.284; EUGEI: −0.37, p = 0.547). A similar and stronger pattern of results was evident for CA (RERI delusions and hallucinations: NEMESIS-2: 3.02, p < 0.001; EUGEI: 6.44, p < 0.001; RERI delusional ideation: NEMESIS-2: 3.79, p < 0.001; EUGEI: 5.43, p = 0.001; RERI hallucinatory experiences: NEMESIS-2: 2.46, p < 0.001; EUGEI: 0.54, p = 0.465).
The results, and internal replication, suggest that the effects of known genetic and non-genetic risk factors for psychosis are mediated in part through an affective pathway, from which early states of delusional meaning may arise.
The ‘jumping to conclusions’ (JTC) bias is associated with both psychosis and general cognition but their relationship is unclear. In this study, we set out to clarify the relationship between the JTC bias, IQ, psychosis and polygenic liability to schizophrenia and IQ.
A total of 817 first episode psychosis patients and 1294 population-based controls completed assessments of general intelligence (IQ), and JTC, and provided blood or saliva samples from which we extracted DNA and computed polygenic risk scores for IQ and schizophrenia.
The estimated proportion of the total effect of case/control differences on JTC mediated by IQ was 79%. Schizophrenia polygenic risk score was non-significantly associated with a higher number of beads drawn (B = 0.47, 95% CI −0.21 to 1.16, p = 0.17); whereas IQ PRS (B = 0.51, 95% CI 0.25–0.76, p < 0.001) significantly predicted the number of beads drawn, and was thus associated with reduced JTC bias. The JTC was more strongly associated with the higher level of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in controls, including after controlling for IQ (B = −1.7, 95% CI −2.8 to −0.5, p = 0.006), but did not relate to delusions in patients.
Our findings suggest that the JTC reasoning bias in psychosis might not be a specific cognitive deficit but rather a manifestation or consequence, of general cognitive impairment. Whereas, in the general population, the JTC bias is related to PLEs, independent of IQ. The work has the potential to inform interventions targeting cognitive biases in early psychosis.
Daily use of high-potency cannabis has been reported to carry a high risk for developing a psychotic disorder. However, the evidence is mixed on whether any pattern of cannabis use is associated with a particular symptomatology in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients.
We analysed data from 901 FEP patients and 1235 controls recruited across six countries, as part of the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. We used item response modelling to estimate two bifactor models, which included general and specific dimensions of psychotic symptoms in patients and psychotic experiences in controls. The associations between these dimensions and cannabis use were evaluated using linear mixed-effects models analyses.
In patients, there was a linear relationship between the positive symptom dimension and the extent of lifetime exposure to cannabis, with daily users of high-potency cannabis having the highest score (B = 0.35; 95% CI 0.14–0.56). Moreover, negative symptoms were more common among patients who never used cannabis compared with those with any pattern of use (B = −0.22; 95% CI −0.37 to −0.07). In controls, psychotic experiences were associated with current use of cannabis but not with the extent of lifetime use. Neither patients nor controls presented differences in depressive dimension related to cannabis use.
Our findings provide the first large-scale evidence that FEP patients with a history of daily use of high-potency cannabis present with more positive and less negative symptoms, compared with those who never used cannabis or used low-potency types.
We present a detailed overview of the cosmological surveys that we aim to carry out with Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA1) and the science that they will enable. We highlight three main surveys: a medium-deep continuum weak lensing and low-redshift spectroscopic HI galaxy survey over 5 000 deg2; a wide and deep continuum galaxy and HI intensity mapping (IM) survey over 20 000 deg2 from
$z = 0.35$
to 3; and a deep, high-redshift HI IM survey over 100 deg2 from
$z = 3$
to 6. Taken together, these surveys will achieve an array of important scientific goals: measuring the equation of state of dark energy out to
$z \sim 3$
with percent-level precision measurements of the cosmic expansion rate; constraining possible deviations from General Relativity on cosmological scales by measuring the growth rate of structure through multiple independent methods; mapping the structure of the Universe on the largest accessible scales, thus constraining fundamental properties such as isotropy, homogeneity, and non-Gaussianity; and measuring the HI density and bias out to
$z = 6$
. These surveys will also provide highly complementary clustering and weak lensing measurements that have independent systematic uncertainties to those of optical and near-infrared (NIR) surveys like Euclid, LSST, and WFIRST leading to a multitude of synergies that can improve constraints significantly beyond what optical or radio surveys can achieve on their own. This document, the 2018 Red Book, provides reference technical specifications, cosmological parameter forecasts, and an overview of relevant systematic effects for the three key surveys and will be regularly updated by the Cosmology Science Working Group in the run up to start of operations and the Key Science Programme of SKA1.
Ethnic minority groups in Western countries face an increased risk of psychotic disorders. Causes of this long-standing public health inequality remain poorly understood. We investigated whether social disadvantage, linguistic distance and discrimination contributed to these patterns.
We used case–control data from the EUropean network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study, carried out in 16 centres in six countries. We recruited 1130 cases and 1497 population-based controls. Our main outcome measure was first-episode ICD-10 psychotic disorder (F20–F33), and exposures were ethnicity (white majority, black, mixed, Asian, North-African, white minority and other), generational status, social disadvantage, linguistic distance and discrimination. Age, sex, paternal age, cannabis use, childhood trauma and parental history of psychosis were included as a priori confounders. Exposures and confounders were added sequentially to multivariable logistic models, following multiple imputation for missing data.
Participants from any ethnic minority background had crude excess odds of psychosis [odds ratio (OR) 2.03, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.69–2.43], which remained after adjustment for confounders (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.31–1.98). This was progressively attenuated following further adjustment for social disadvantage (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.22–1.89) and linguistic distance (OR 1.22, 95% CI 0.95–1.57), a pattern mirrored in several specific ethnic groups. Linguistic distance and social disadvantage had stronger effects for first- and later-generation groups, respectively.
Social disadvantage and linguistic distance, two potential markers of sociocultural exclusion, were associated with increased odds of psychotic disorder, and adjusting for these led to equivocal risk between several ethnic minority groups and the white majority.
First-degree relatives of patients with psychotic disorder have higher levels of polygenic risk (PRS) for schizophrenia and higher levels of intermediate phenotypes.
We conducted, using two different samples for discovery (n = 336 controls and 649 siblings of patients with psychotic disorder) and replication (n = 1208 controls and 1106 siblings), an analysis of association between PRS on the one hand and psychopathological and cognitive intermediate phenotypes of schizophrenia on the other in a sample at average genetic risk (healthy controls) and a sample at higher than average risk (healthy siblings of patients). Two subthreshold psychosis phenotypes, as well as a standardised measure of cognitive ability, based on a short version of the WAIS-III short form, were used. In addition, a measure of jumping to conclusion bias (replication sample only) was tested for association with PRS.
In both discovery and replication sample, evidence for an association between PRS and subthreshold psychosis phenotypes was observed in the relatives of patients, whereas in the controls no association was observed. Jumping to conclusion bias was similarly only associated with PRS in the sibling group. Cognitive ability was weakly negatively and non-significantly associated with PRS in both the sibling and the control group.
The degree of endophenotypic expression of schizophrenia polygenic risk depends on having a sibling with psychotic disorder, suggestive of underlying gene–environment interaction. Cognitive biases may better index genetic risk of disorder than traditional measures of neurocognition, which instead may reflect the population distribution of cognitive ability impacting the prognosis of psychotic disorder.
Steep slope vineyards are a complex scenario for the development of ground robots. Planning a safe robot trajectory is one of the biggest challenges in this scenario, characterized by irregular surfaces and strong slopes (more than 35°). Moving the robot through a pile of stones, spots with high slope or/and with wrong robot yaw may result in an abrupt fall of the robot, damaging the equipment and centenary vines, and sometimes imposing injuries to humans. This paper presents a novel approach for path planning aware of center of mass of the robot for application in sloppy terrains. Agricultural robotic path planning (AgRobPP) is a framework that considers the A* algorithm by expanding inner functions to deal with three main inputs: multi-layer occupation grid map, altitude map and robot’s center of mass. This multi-layer grid map is updated by obstacles taking into account the terrain slope and maximum robot posture. AgRobPP is also extended with algorithms for local trajectory replanning during the execution of a trajectory that is blocked by the presence of an obstacle, always assuring the safety of the re-planned path. AgRobPP has a novel PointCloud translator algorithm called PointCloud to grid map and digital elevation model (PC2GD), which extracts the occupation grid map and digital elevation model from a PointCloud. This can be used in AgRobPP core algorithms and farm management intelligent systems as well. AgRobPP algorithms demonstrate a great performance with the real data acquired from AgRob V16, a robotic platform developed for autonomous navigation in steep slope vineyards.
Bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SZ) are characterized by neurocognitive and functional deficits with marked heterogeneity. It has been suggested that BD with a history of psychotic symptoms (BD-P) could constitute a phenotypically homogeneous subtype characterized by greater neurocognitive and functional impairments, or by a distinct trajectory of such deficits. The aim of this study was to compare the neurocognitive and functional course of euthymic BD-P, euthymic BD patients without a history of psychosis (BD-NP), stabilized patients with schizophrenia and healthy subjects, during a five-year follow-up.
Neurocognitive and psychosocial function was examined in 100 euthymic patients with BD (50 BD-P, 50 BD-NP), 50 stabilized patients with schizophrenia (SZ), and 51 healthy controls (HC) at baseline (T1), and after a 5-year follow-up (T2).
The course of both neurocognitive performance and functional outcome of patients with SZ and BD (BD-P and BD-NP) is stable. The profile of neurocognitive impairment of patients with SZ or BD (BD-P and BD-NP), is similar, with only quantitative differences circumscribed to certain domains, such as working memory. The subgroup of patients with BD-NP does not show functional deterioration.
We have not found evidence of progression in the neurocognitive or psychosocial impairment in any of the three groups of patients, although it cannot be dismissed the possibility of a subset of patients with a progressive course. Other longitudinal studies with larger samples and longer duration are necessary to confirm these findings.
The value of the nosological distinction between non-affective and affective psychosis has frequently been challenged. We aimed to investigate the transdiagnostic dimensional structure and associated characteristics of psychopathology at First Episode Psychosis (FEP). Regardless of diagnostic categories, we expected that positive symptoms occurred more frequently in ethnic minority groups and in more densely populated environments, and that negative symptoms were associated with indices of neurodevelopmental impairment.
This study included 2182 FEP individuals recruited across six countries, as part of the EUropean network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene–Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. Symptom ratings were analysed using multidimensional item response modelling in Mplus to estimate five theory-based models of psychosis. We used multiple regression models to examine demographic and context factors associated with symptom dimensions.
A bifactor model, composed of one general factor and five specific dimensions of positive, negative, disorganization, manic and depressive symptoms, best-represented associations among ratings of psychotic symptoms. Positive symptoms were more common in ethnic minority groups. Urbanicity was associated with a higher score on the general factor. Men presented with more negative and less depressive symptoms than women. Early age-at-first-contact with psychiatric services was associated with higher scores on negative, disorganized, and manic symptom dimensions.
Our results suggest that the bifactor model of psychopathology holds across diagnostic categories of non-affective and affective psychosis at FEP, and demographic and context determinants map onto general and specific symptom dimensions. These findings have implications for tailoring symptom-specific treatments and inform research into the mood-psychosis spectrum.
The neurocognitive trajectory in bipolar disorder (BD) is variable, with controversial findings, and most evidence come from cross-sectional studies. We aimed to examine the course of neurocognitive functioning in a sample of euthymic BD patients in comparison with a control group during a 5-year follow-up.
Ninety-nine euthymic bipolar patients and 40 healthy controls were assessed using a comprehensive neurocognitive battery (six neurocognitive domains) at baseline (T1) and then at 5-year follow-up (T2) in a longitudinal study.
No evidence of a progression in neurocognitive dysfunction was found either in cognitive composite index or in any of the neurocognitive domains for the whole cohort. However, there was a negative correlation between number of manic episodes and hospitalisations due to manic episodes and change in neurocognitive composite index (NCI) during the follow-up. Moreover, patients with higher number of manic and hypomanic episodes have a greater decrease in NCI, working memory and visual memory. History of psychotic symptoms was not related to the trajectory of neurocognitive impairment.
Our results suggest that, although the progression of cognitive decline is not a general rule in BD, BD patients who have a greater number of manic or hypomanic episodes may constitute a subgroup characterised by the progression of neurocognitive impairment. Prevention of manic and hypomanic episodes could have a positive impact on the trajectory of cognitive function.
A new approach to inhabitation problems in simply typed lambda-calculus is shown, dealing with both decision and counting problems. This approach works by exploiting a representation of the search space generated by a given inhabitation problem, which is in terms of a lambda-calculus for proof search that the authors developed recently. The representation may be seen as extending the Curry–Howard representation of proofs by lambda terms. Our methodology reveals inductive descriptions of the decision problems, driven by the syntax of the proof-search expressions, and produces simple, recursive decision procedures and counting functions. These allow to predict the number of inhabitants by testing the given type for syntactic criteria. This new approach is comprehensive and robust: based on the same syntactic representation, we also derive the state-of-the-art coherence theorems ensuring uniqueness of inhabitants.
The deficiency of Se, an essential micronutrient, has been implicated in adverse pregnancy outcomes. Our study was designed to determine total serum Se, selenoproteins (extracellular glutathione peroxidase (GPx-3), selenoprotein P (SeP)), selenoalbumin (SeAlb) and selenometabolites in healthy women and their newborns at delivery. This cross-sectional study included eighty-three healthy mother–baby couples. Total Se and Se species concentrations were measured in maternal and umbilical cord sera by an in-series coupling of two-dimensional size-exclusion and affinity HPLC. Additional measurements of serum SeP concentration and of serum GPx-3 enzyme activity were carried out using ELISA. Total Se concentration was significantly higher in maternal serum than in cord serum (68·9 (sd 15·2) and 56·1 (sd 14·6) µg/l, respectively; P<0·01). There were significant correlations between selenoprotein and SeAlb concentrations in mothers and newborns, although they also showed significant differences in GPx-3 (11·2 (sd 3·7) v. 10·5 (sd 3·5) µg/l; P<0·01), SeP (42·5 (sd 9·5) v. 28·1 (sd 7·7) µg/l; P<0·01) and SeAlb (11·6 (sd 3·6) v. 14·1 (sd 4·3) µg/l; P<0·01) concentrations in maternal and cord sera, respectively. Serum GPx-3 activity and concentration were positively correlated in mothers (r 0·33; P=0·038) but not in newborns. GPx-3 activity in cord serum was significantly correlated with gestational age (r 0·44; P=0·009). SeAlb concentration was significantly higher in babies, whereas SeP and GPx-3 concentrations were significantly higher in mothers. The differences cannot be explained by simple diffusion; specific transfer mechanisms are probably involved. GPx-3 concentrations in mothers, at delivery, are related to maternal Se status, whereas the GPx-3 activity in cord serum depends on gestational age.
Arid regions are increasingly being anthropogenically altered. In the north-western Sahara, a growing road network facilitates the use of habitats adjacent to roads. In regions where livestock is the traditional and main economic resource, local people are currently building numerous water cisterns for watering livestock, leading to an increase in the extent of pasturing of domestic livestock. Cisterns may attract desert vertebrates and act as death traps for species with already sparse populations in these arid areas. This paper is the first to examine the impact of cisterns as lethal traps for amphibians and reptiles in the Sahara, using a survey of 823 cisterns in south-western Morocco to identify and quantify species affected. Four amphibians and 35 reptiles were trapped in cisterns, some of which were listed as threatened. At least 459 017 individual amphibians and reptiles were trapped annually within the study area. The low productivity and low population densities of terrestrial vertebrates in this arid region suggest cisterns have a substantial impact upon amphibian and reptile species. As cistern construction is increasing, management actions are required to mitigate this impact on the herpetological community.