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The thymus undergoes a critical period of growth and development early in gestation and, by mid-gestation, immature thymocytes are subject to positive and negative selection. Exposure to undernutrition during these periods may permanently affect phenotype. We measured thymulin concentrations, as a proxy for thymic size and function, in children (n = 290; aged 9–13 years) born to participants in a cluster-randomized trial of maternal vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation in rural Nepal (1994–1997). The geometric mean (95% confidence interval) thymulin concentration was 1.37 ng/ml (1.27, 1.47). A multivariate model of early-life exposures revealed a positive association with gestational age at delivery (β = 0.02; P = 0.05) and higher concentrations among children born to β-carotene-supplemented mothers (β = 0.19; P < 0.05). At ∼9–12 years of age, thymulin was positively associated with all anthropometric measures, with height retained in our multivariate model (β = 0.02; P < 0.001). There was significant seasonal variation: concentrations tended to be lower pre-monsoon (β = −0.13; P = 0.15), during the monsoon (β = −0.22; P = 0.04), and pre-harvest (β = −0.34; P = 0.01), relative to the post-harvest season. All early-life associations, except supplementation, were mediated in part by nutritional status at follow-up. Our findings underscore the known sensitivity of the thymus to nutrition, including potentially lasting effects of early nutritional exposures. The relevance of these findings to later disease risk remains to be explored, particularly given the role of thymulin in the neuroendocrine regulation of inflammation.
Maternal systemic inflammation during pregnancy may restrict embryo−fetal growth, but the extent of this effect remains poorly established in undernourished populations. In a cohort of 653 maternal−newborn dyads participating in a multi-armed, micronutrient supplementation trial in southern Nepal, we investigated associations between maternal inflammation, assessed by serum α1-acid glycoprotein and C-reactive protein, in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy, and newborn weight, length and head and chest circumferences. Median (IQR) maternal concentrations in α1-acid glycoprotein and C-reactive protein in the first and third trimesters were 0.65 (0.53–0.76) and 0.40 (0.33–0.50) g/l, and 0.56 (0.25–1.54) and 1.07 (0.43–2.32) mg/l, respectively. α1-acid glycoprotein was inversely associated with birth size: weight, length, head circumference and chest circumference were lower by 116 g (P = 2.3 × 10−6), and 0.45 (P = 3.1 × 10−5), 0.18 (P = 0.0191) and 0.48 (P = 1.7 × 10−7) cm, respectively, per 50% increase in α1-acid glycoprotein averaged across both trimesters. Adjustment for maternal age, parity, gestational age, nutritional and socio-economic status and daily micronutrient supplementation failed to alter any association. Serum C-reactive protein concentration was largely unassociated with newborn size. In rural Nepal, birth size was inversely associated with low-grade, chronic inflammation during pregnancy as indicated by serum α1-acid glycoprotein.
Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) and systemic inflammation (SI) are common in developing countries and may cause stunting. In Bangladesh, >40 % of preschool children are stunted, but EED and SI contributions are unknown. We aimed to determine the impact of EED and SI (assessed with multiple indicators) on growth in children (n 539) enrolled in a community-based randomised food supplementation trial in rural Bangladesh. EED was defined with faecal myeloperoxidase, α-1 antitrypsin and neopterin and serum endotoxin core antibody and glucagon-like peptide-2, consolidated into gut inflammation (GI) and permeability (GP) scores, and urinary lactulose:mannitol α-1 acid glycoprotein (AGP) characterised SI. Biomarker associations with anthropometry (15-, 18- and 24-month length-for-age (LAZ), weight-for-length (WLZ) and weight-for-age (WAZ) z scores) were examined in pairwise correlations and adjusted mixed-effects regressions. Stunting, wasting and underweight prevalence at 18 months were 45, 15 and 37 %, respectively, with elevated EED and SI markers common. EED and SI were not associated with 15–24-month length trajectory. Elevated (worse) GI and GP scores predicted reduced 18–24-month WLZ change (β −0·01 (se 0·00) z score/month for both). Elevated GP was also associated with reduced 15–18-month WLZ change (β −0·03 (se 0·01) z score/month) and greater 15-month WLZ (β 0·16 (se 0·05)). Higher AGP was associated with reduced prior and increased subsequent WLZ change (β −0·04 (se 0·01) and β 0·02 (se 0·00) z score/month for 15–18 and 18–24 months). The hypothesised link from EED to stunting was not observed in this sample of Bangladeshi 18-month-olds, but the effects of EED on constrained weight gain may have consequences for later linear growth or for other health and development outcomes.
A range of endophenotypes characterise psychosis, however there has been limited work understanding if and how they are inter-related.
This multi-centre study includes 8754 participants: 2212 people with a psychotic disorder, 1487 unaffected relatives of probands, and 5055 healthy controls. We investigated cognition [digit span (N = 3127), block design (N = 5491), and the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (N = 3543)], electrophysiology [P300 amplitude and latency (N = 1102)], and neuroanatomy [lateral ventricular volume (N = 1721)]. We used linear regression to assess the interrelationships between endophenotypes.
The P300 amplitude and latency were not associated (regression coef. −0.06, 95% CI −0.12 to 0.01, p = 0.060), and P300 amplitude was positively associated with block design (coef. 0.19, 95% CI 0.10–0.28, p < 0.001). There was no evidence of associations between lateral ventricular volume and the other measures (all p > 0.38). All the cognitive endophenotypes were associated with each other in the expected directions (all p < 0.001). Lastly, the relationships between pairs of endophenotypes were consistent in all three participant groups, differing for some of the cognitive pairings only in the strengths of the relationships.
The P300 amplitude and latency are independent endophenotypes; the former indexing spatial visualisation and working memory, and the latter is hypothesised to index basic processing speed. Individuals with psychotic illnesses, their unaffected relatives, and healthy controls all show similar patterns of associations between endophenotypes, endorsing the theory of a continuum of psychosis liability across the population.
Major depression and anxiety disorders are known to negatively influence cognitive performance. Moreover, there is evidence for greater cognitive decline in older adults with generalized anxiety disorder. Except for clinical studies, complex executive planning functions and subclinical levels of anxiety have not been examined in a population-based sample with a broad age range.
Planning performance was assessed using the Tower of London task in a population-based sample of 4240 participants aged 40–80 years from the Gutenberg Health Study (GHS) and related to self-reported anxiety and depression by means of multiple linear regression analysis.
Higher anxiety ratings were associated with lower planning performance (β = −0.20; p < 0.0001) independent of age (β = 0.03; p = 0.47). When directly comparing the predictive value of depression and anxiety on cognition, only anxiety attained significance (β = −0.19; p = 0.0047), whereas depression did not (β = −0.01; p = 0.71).
Subclinical levels of anxiety but not of depression showed negative associations with cognitive functioning independent of age. Our results demonstrate that associations observed in clinical groups might differ from those in population-based samples, also with regard to the trajectory across the life span. Further studies are needed to uncover causal interrelations of anxiety and cognition, which have been proposed in the literature, in order to develop interventions aimed at reducing this negative affective state and to improve executive functioning.
We present results from a multiwavelength study of the blazar PKS 1954–388 at radio, UV, X-ray, and gamma-ray energies. A RadioAstron observation at 1.66 GHz in June 2012 resulted in the detection of interferometric fringes on baselines of 6.2 Earth-diameters. This suggests a source frame brightness temperature of greater than 2 × 1012 K, well in excess of both equipartition and inverse Compton limits and implying the existence of Doppler boosting in the core. An 8.4-GHz TANAMI VLBI image, made less than a month after the RadioAstron observations, is consistent with a previously reported superluminal motion for a jet component. Flux density monitoring with the Australia Telescope Compact Array confirms previous evidence for long-term variability that increases with observing frequency. A search for more rapid variability revealed no evidence for significant day-scale flux density variation. The ATCA light-curve reveals a strong radio flare beginning in late 2013, which peaks higher, and earlier, at higher frequencies. Comparison with the Fermi gamma-ray light-curve indicates this followed ~ 9 months after the start of a prolonged gamma-ray high-state—a radio lag comparable to that seen in other blazars. The multiwavelength data are combined to derive a Spectral Energy Distribution, which is fitted by a one-zone synchrotron-self-Compton (SSC) model with the addition of external Compton (EC) emission.
A number of laser facilities coming online all over the world promise the capability of high-power laser experiments with shot repetition rates between 1 and 10 Hz. Target availability and technical issues related to the interaction environment could become a bottleneck for the exploitation of such facilities. In this paper, we report on target needs for three different classes of experiments: dynamic compression physics, electron transport and isochoric heating, and laser-driven particle and radiation sources. We also review some of the most challenging issues in target fabrication and high repetition rate operation. Finally, we discuss current target supply strategies and future perspectives to establish a sustainable target provision infrastructure for advanced laser facilities.
Prenatal and early-life environmental exposures play a key role in the development of atopy and allergic disease. The Family Atherosclerosis Monitoring In earLY life Study is a general, population-based Canadian birth cohort that prospectively evaluated prenatal and early-life traits and their association with atopy and/or allergic disease. The study population included 901 babies, 857 mothers and 530 fathers. Prenatal and postnatal risk factors were evaluated through questionnaires collected during the antenatal period and at 1 year. The end points of atopy and allergic diseases in infants were evaluated through questionnaires and skin prick testing. Key outcomes included atopy (24.5%), food allergy (17.5%), cow’s milk allergy (4.8%), wheezing (18.6%) and eczema (16%). The association between infant antibiotic exposure [odds ratio (OR): 2.04, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.45–2.88] and increased atopy was noted in the multivariate analysis, whereas prenatal maternal exposure to dogs (OR: 0.60, 95% CI: 0.42–0.84) and acetaminophen (OR: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.51–0.92) was associated with decreased atopy. This population-based birth cohort in Canada demonstrated high rates of atopy, food allergy, wheezing and eczema. Several previously reported and some novel prenatal and postnatal exposures were associated with atopy and allergic diseases at 1 year of age.
Twin studies have lacked statistical power to apply advanced genetic modelling techniques to the search for cognitive endophenotypes for bipolar disorder.
To quantify the shared genetic variability between bipolar disorder and cognitive measures.
Structural equation modelling was performed on cognitive data collected from 331 twins/siblings of varying genetic relatedness, disease status and concordance for bipolar disorder.
Using a parsimonious AE model, verbal episodic and spatial working memory showed statistically significant genetic correlations with bipolar disorder (rg = |0.23|–|0.27|), which lost statistical significance after covarying for affective symptoms. Using an ACE model, IQ and visual-spatial learning showed statistically significant genetic correlations with bipolar disorder (rg = |0.51|–|1.00|), which remained significant after covarying for affective symptoms.
Verbal episodic and spatial working memory capture a modest fraction of the bipolar diathesis. IQ and visual-spatial learning may tap into genetic substrates of non-affective symptomatology in bipolar disorder.
Data on gender-specific profiles of cognitive functions in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are rare and inconsistent, and possible disease-confounding factors have been insufficiently considered.
The LANDSCAPE study on cognition in PD enrolled 656 PD patients (267 without cognitive impairment, 66% male; 292 with mild cognitive impairment, 69% male; 97 with PD dementia, 69% male). Raw values and age-, education-, and gender-corrected Z scores of a neuropsychological test battery (CERAD-Plus) were compared between genders. Motor symptoms, disease duration, l-dopa equivalent daily dose, depression - and additionally age and education for the raw value analysis - were taken as covariates.
Raw-score analysis replicated results of previous studies in that female PD patients were superior in verbal memory (word list learning, p = 0.02; recall, p = 0.03), while men outperformed women in visuoconstruction (p = 0.002) and figural memory (p = 0.005). In contrast, gender-corrected Z scores showed that men were superior in verbal memory (word list learning, p = 0.02; recall, p = 0.02; recognition, p = 0.04), while no difference was found for visuospatial tests. This picture could be observed both in the overall analysis of PD patients as well as in a differentiated group analysis.
Normative data corrected for gender and other sociodemographic variables are relevant, since they may elucidate a markedly different cognitive profile compared to raw scores. Our study also suggests that verbal memory decline is stronger in women than in men with PD. Future studies are needed to replicate these findings, examine the progression of gender-specific cognitive decline in PD and define different underlying mechanisms of this dysfunction.
Innate-like B1a lymphocytes arise from long-lived progenitors produced exclusively by fetal stem cells. Any insults coinciding with this early lymphopoietic wave could have a permanent impact on the B1a population and its unique protein products, the natural antibodies (NAb). We investigated early life nutritional influences on NAb concentrations of pre-adolescent children (n=290) in rural Nepal for whom we had extensive information on exposures from pregnancy and early infancy. Infant size and growth were strongly associated with NAb concentrations at 9–13 years of age among males (e.g., for neonatal weight: βBOYS=0.43; P<0.001), but not females (e.g., for neonatal weight: βGIRLS=−0.16; P=0.26). In females, season of birth was associated with NAb concentrations, with marked reductions among girls born during the pre-monsoon (March–May; βGIRLS=−0.39; P=0.01) and pre-harvest (September–November; βGIRLS=−0.35; P=0.03) seasons. Our findings suggest that nutritional or other environmental influences on immune development may vary by sex, with potential consequences for immune function during infancy and long-term risk of immune-mediated disease.
The Herschel Space Observatory was the fourth cornerstone mission in the European Space Agency (ESA) science programme with excellent broad band imaging capabilities in the sub-mm and far-infrared part of the spectrum. Although the spacecraft finished its observations in 2013, it left a large legacy dataset that is far from having been fully scrutinised and still has a large potential for new scientific discoveries. This is specifically true for the photometric observations of the PACS and SPIRE instruments. Some source catalogues have already been produced by individual observing programs, but there are many observations that risk to remain unexplored. To maximise the science return of the SPIRE and PACS data sets, we are in the process of building the Herschel Point Source Catalogue (HPSC) from all primary and parallel mode observations. Our homogeneous source extraction enables a systematic and unbiased comparison of sensitivity across the different Herschel fields that single programs will generally not be able to provide. The catalogue will be made available online through archives like the Herschel Science Archive (HSA), the Infrared Science Archive (IRSA), and the Strasbourg Astronomical Data Center (CDS).
Mineral nitrogen (N) fertilization in cereals is commonly split into three or four applications. In order to simplify N fertilization, a single N application either broadcast or placed on the soil surface was compared to conventionally split fertilization for winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). The 4-year experiment (2007–2010) was performed using a participatory approach on farmers’ fields on deep loamy soils (Luvisols) in South-West Germany.
Grain yield and crude protein contents differed only slightly or not at all between treatments including different N fertilizer types (calcium ammonium nitrate, urea ammonium nitrate solution, urea) and application techniques (broadcast, placed). Furthermore, no differences were found for the yield components ears/m2 and thousand grain weight. Inorganic N in the soil profile after harvest was generally below 40 kg N/ha and did not differ between treatments. In the area where N was placed, mineral N was depleted during the vegetation period.
At the experimental sites a single N application in the period between tillering and stem elongation was sufficient to achieve high yield and quality of winter wheat without increased risk of nitrate leaching. This finding was independent of the method of application or the type of fertilizer.
Vitamin A plays an important role in fetal renal and cardiovascular development, yet there has been little research on its effects on cardiovascular risk factors later in childhood. To examine this question, we followed the children of women who had been participants in a cluster-randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of weekly supplementation with 7000 μg retinol equivalents of preformed vitamin A or 42 mg of β-carotene from 1994 to 1997 in rural Nepal. Women received their assigned supplements before, during and after pregnancy. Over a study period of 3 years, 17,531 infants were born to women enrolled in the trial. In 2006–2008, we revisited and assessed 13,118 children aged 9–13 years to examine the impact of maternal supplementation on early biomarkers of chronic disease. Blood pressure was measured in the entire sample of children. In a subsample of 1390 children, venous blood was collected for plasma glucose, Hb1Ac and lipids and a morning urine specimen was collected to measure the ratio of microalbumin/creatinine. Detailed anthropometry was also conducted in the subsample. The mean ± s.d. systolic and diastolic blood pressure was 97.2 ± 8.2 and 64.6 ± 8.5 mm Hg, respectively, and about 5.0% had high-blood pressure (⩾120/80 mm Hg). The prevalence of microalbuminuria (⩾30 mg/g creatinine) was also low at 4.8%. There were no differences in blood pressure or the risk of microalbuminuria between supplement groups. There were also no group differences in fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin, triglycerides or cholesterol. Maternal supplementation with vitamin A or β-carotene had no overall impact on cardiovascular risk factors in this population at pre-adolescent age in rural Nepal.
The meeting was attended by 5 members of the WG (E. Bowell, G. Consolmagno, R. Courtain, R. Lopez, R. Schulz) one Task Group member (J. Watanabe), and several guests from the CSBN and CBAT. It was decided at the beginning of the meeting that the attending members of the WGPSN would discuss matters, provide their opinion or vote, and then ask the other 8 formal members to do the same via email. As a consequence the following discussed items have been agreed by majority vote of the WG members.
Earlier, we reported that antenatal micronutrient supplementation reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome and microalbuminuria among offspring at 6–8 years of age in rural Nepal. In the same birth cohort, we examined associations of size at birth (weight, length and ponderal index), and gestational age, with cardiometabolic risk factors in childhood across all antenatal micronutrient interventions. There was an inverse association between birth weight and systolic blood pressure (SBP, β = −1.20 mm Hg/kg; 95% confidence interval (CI): −1.93, −0.46) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP, β = −1.24 mm Hg/kg; 95% CI: −2.00, −0.49). Current child body mass index was positively associated with SBP but not with DBP. Birth weight was unassociated with insulin resistance, but each kilogram of increase was associated with a reduced risk of high triglycerides (odds ratio (OR) = 0.64/kg; 95% CI: 0.41, 0.97) and an increased risk of high waist circumference (OR = 3.16/kg; 95% CI: 2.47, 4.41). In this rural Nepalese population of children 6–8 years of age with a high prevalence of undernutrition, size at birth was inversely associated with blood pressure and triglycerides and positively associated with waist circumference.
Auditory P50 sensory gating deficits correlate with genetic risk for schizophrenia and constitute a plausible endophenotype for the disease. The well-supported role of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neuregulin 1 (NRG1) genes in neurodevelopment and cognition make a strong theoretical case for their influence on the P50 endophenotype.
The possible role of NRG1, COMT Val158Met and BDNF Val66Met gene polymorphisms on the P50 endophenotype was examined in a large sample consisting of psychotic patients, their unaffected relatives and unrelated healthy controls using linear regression analyses.
Although P50 deficits were present in patients and their unaffected relatives, there was no evidence for an association between NRG1, COMT Val158Met or BDNF Val66Met genotypes and the P50 endophenotype.
The evidence from our large study suggests that any such association between P50 indices and NRG1, COMT Val158Met or BDNF Val66Met genotypes, if present, must be very subtle.