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The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis, necessitating drastic changes to living conditions, social life, personal freedom and economic activity. No study has yet examined the presence of psychiatric symptoms in the UK population under similar conditions.
We investigated the prevalence of COVID-19-related anxiety, generalised anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms in the UK population during an early phase of the pandemic, and estimated associations with variables likely to influence these symptoms.
Between 23 and 28 March 2020, a quota sample of 2025 UK adults aged 18 years and older, stratified by age, gender and household income, was recruited by online survey company Qualtrics. Participants completed standardised measures of depression, generalised anxiety and trauma symptoms relating to the pandemic. Bivariate and multivariate associations were calculated for demographic and health-related variables.
Higher levels of anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms were reported compared with previous population studies, but not dramatically so. Anxiety or depression and trauma symptoms were predicted by young age, presence of children in the home, and high estimates of personal risk. Anxiety and depression were also predicted by low income, loss of income and pre-existing health conditions in self and others. Specific anxiety about COVID-19 was greater in older participants.
This study showed a modest increase in the prevalence of mental health problems in the early stages of the pandemic, and these problems were predicted by several specific COVID-related variables. Further similar surveys, particularly of those with children at home, are required as the pandemic progresses.
Despite a putative role for estrogen in depression, studies on the association between depression and estrogen receptor (ER) polymorphisms are surprisingly lacking.
To determine the association between ER polymorphisms and late-life depression in 6809 men and women and to investigate factors which could modify this association.
Community-dwelling elderly aged 65 years and older were recruited in France as part of the Three City Study. Depression was assessed using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, according to DSM-IV criteria. The association between five polymorphisms of the ER-α and ER-β with depression was determined using multi-adjusted logistic regression models.
Men with the AA genotype of the ER-β rs4986938 polymorphism had an increased risk of depression, while in women, carriers of the A allele for the ER-β rs1256049 had an increased risk. Subsequent analysis indicated that the increased risk in women occurred only in those not using hormone treatment. In women the CC and GG genotypes of the ER-α PvuII and XbaI, respectively were associated with a decreased risk of depression. A significant interaction between the ER-α PvuII and ER-β rs4986938 polymorphisms suggests they may act together to modify the depression risk.
Sex-specific associations between ER polymorphisms and depression have been identified, with HT appearing to be beneficial for genetically vulnerable women. These findings of distinct genetic susceptibility to late-life depression may be important for designing novel hormone-based therapies that would have optimal effectiveness in sub-groups of depressed women and men.
Some studies found that providing micronutrient powder (MNP) causes adverse health outcomes, but modifying factors are unknown. We aimed to investigate whether Fe status and inherited Hb disorders (IHbD) modify the impact of MNP on growth and diarrhoea among young Lao children. In a double-blind controlled trial, 1704 children of age 6–23 months were randomised to daily MNP (with 6 mg Fe plus fourteen micronutrients) or placebo for about 36 weeks. IHbD, and baseline and final Hb, Fe status and anthropometrics were assessed. Caregivers provided weekly morbidity reports. At enrolment, 55·6 % were anaemic; only 39·3 % had no sign of clinically significant IHbD. MNP had no overall impact on growth and longitudinal diarrhoea prevalence. Baseline Hb modified the effect of MNP on length-for-age (LAZ) (P for interaction = 0·082). Among children who were initially non-anaemic, the final mean LAZ in the MNP group was slightly lower (–1·93 (95 % CI –1·88, –1·97)) v. placebo (–1·88 (95 % CI –1·83, –1·92)), and the opposite occurred among initially anaemic children (final mean LAZ –1·90 (95 % CI –1·86, –1·94) in MNP v. –1·92 (95 % CI –1·88, –1·96) in placebo). IHbD modified the effect on diarrhoea prevalence (P = 0·095). Among children with IHbD, the MNP group had higher diarrhoea prevalence (1·37 (95 % CI 1·17, 1·59) v. 1·21 (95 % CI 1·04, 1·41)), while it was lower among children without IHbD who received MNP (1·15 (95 % CI 0·95, 1·39) v. 1·37 (95 % CI 1·13, 1·64)). In conclusion, there was a small adverse effect of MNP on growth among non-anaemic children and on diarrhoea prevalence among children with IHbD.
Excavations at several locations in Verteba Cave have uncovered a large amount of human skeletal remains in association with faunal bones and Tripolye material culture. We aim to establish radiocarbon (14C) dates for eight sites and to evaluate whether these deposits are singular events, or slow accumulations over time. 14C measurements, along with stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data from human and faunal remains, were collected from 18 specimens. Stable isotope values were used to evaluate human and animal diet, and whether freshwater reservoir effects offset measured dates. We found diets of the sampled species had limited to no influence from freshwater resources. Human diet appears to be dominated by terrestrial plants and herbivores. Four new sites were identified as Eneolithic. Comparisons of dates from top and bottom strata for two sites (7 and 20) reveal coeval dates, and we suggest that these deposits represent discrete events rather than slow continuous use. Lastly, we identified dates from the Mesolithic (8490±45 BP, 8765±30 BP), Iron Age (2505±20 BP), Slavic state era (1315±25 BP), and Medieval Period (585±15 BP), demonstrating periodic use of the cave by humans prior to and after the Eneolithic.
To date, Ireland has been a leading light in the provision of youth mental health services. However, cognisant of the efforts of governmental and non-governmental agencies working in youth mental health, there is much to be done. Barriers into care as well as discontinuity of care across the spectrum of services remain key challenges. This editorial provides guidance for the next stage of development in youth mental care and support that will require significant national engagement and resource investment.
Limbic white matter pathways link emotion, cognition, and behavior and are potentially malleable to the influences of traumatic events throughout development. However, the impact of interactions between childhood and later life trauma on limbic white matter pathways has yet to be examined. Here, we examined whether childhood maltreatment moderated the effect of combat exposure on diffusion tensor imaging measures within a sample of military veterans (N = 28). We examined five limbic tracts of interest: two components of the cingulum (cingulum, cingulate gyrus, and cingulum hippocampus [CGH]), the uncinate fasciculus, the fornix/stria terminalis, and the anterior limb of the internal capsule. Using effect sizes, clinically meaningful moderator effects were found only within the CGH. Greater combat exposure was associated with decreased CGH fractional anisotropy (overall structural integrity) and increased CGH radial diffusivity (perpendicular water diffusivity) among individuals with more severe childhood maltreatment. Our findings provide preliminary evidence of the moderating effect of childhood maltreatment on the relationship between combat exposure and CGH structural integrity. These differences in CGH structural integrity could have maladaptive implications for emotion and memory, as well as provide a potential mechanism by which childhood maltreatment induces vulnerability to later life trauma exposure.
Deficits in social cognition may be among the most profound and disabling sequelae of paediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, the neuroanatomical correlates of longitudinal outcomes in this domain remain unexplored. This study aimed to characterize social cognitive outcomes longitudinally after paediatric TBI, and to evaluate the use of sub-acute diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to predict these outcomes.
The sample included 52 children with mild complex-severe TBI who were assessed on cognitive theory of mind (ToM), pragmatic language and affective ToM at 6- and 24-months post-injury. For comparison, 43 typically developing controls (TDCs) of similar age and sex were recruited. DTI data were acquired sub-acutely (mean = 5.5 weeks post-injury) in a subset of 65 children (TBI = 35; TDC = 30) to evaluate longitudinal prospective relationships between white matter microstructure assessed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics and social cognitive outcomes.
Whole brain voxel-wise analysis revealed significantly higher mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity (RD) in the sub-acute TBI group compared with TDC, with differences observed predominantly in the splenium of the corpus callosum (sCC), sagittal stratum (SS), dorsal cingulum (DC), uncinate fasciculus (UF) and middle and superior cerebellar peduncles (MCP & SCP, respectively). Relative to TDCs, children with TBI showed poorer cognitive ToM, affective ToM and pragmatic language at 6-months post-insult, and those deficits were related to abnormal diffusivity of the sCC, SS, DC, UF, MCP and SCP. Moreover, children with TBI showed poorer affective ToM and pragmatic language at 24-months post-injury, and those outcomes were predicted by sub-acute alterations in diffusivity of the DC and MCP.
Abnormal microstructure within frontal-temporal, limbic and cerebro-cerebellar white matter may be a risk factor for long-term social difficulties observed in children with TBI. DTI may have potential to unlock early prognostic markers of long-term social outcomes.
Trypanosoma cruzi, causative agent of Chagas disease, co-infects its triatomine vector with its sister species Trypanosoma rangeli, which shares 60% of its antigens with T. cruzi. Additionally, T. rangeli has been observed to be pathogenic in some of its vector species. Although T. cruzi–T. rangeli co-infections are common, their effect on the vector has rarely been investigated. Therefore, we measured the fitness (survival and reproduction) of triatomine species Rhodnius prolixus infected with just T. cruzi, just T. rangeli, or both T. cruzi and T. rangeli. We found that survival (as estimated by survival probability and hazard ratios) was significantly different between treatments, with the T. cruzi treatment group having lower survival than the co-infected treatment. Reproduction and total fitness estimates in the T. cruzi and T. rangeli treatments were significantly lower than in the co-infected and control groups. The T. cruzi and T. rangeli treatment group fitness estimates were not significantly different from each other. Additionally, co-infected insects appeared to tolerate higher doses of parasites than insects with single-species infections. Our results suggest that T. cruzi–T. rangeli co-infection could ameliorate negative effects of single infections of either parasite on R. prolixus and potentially help it to tolerate higher parasite doses.
Periods of rapid growth seen during the early stages of fetal development, including cell proliferation and differentiation, are greatly influenced by the maternal environment. We demonstrate here that over-nutrition, specifically exposure to a high-fat diet in utero, programed the extent of atherosclerosis in the offspring of ApoE*3 Leiden transgenic mice. Pregnant ApoE*3 Leiden mice were fed either a control chow diet (2.8% fat, n=12) or a high-fat, moderate-cholesterol diet (MHF, 19.4% fat, n=12). Dams were fed the chow diet during the suckling period. At 28 days postnatal age wild type and ApoE*3 Leiden offspring from chow or MHF-fed mothers were fed either a control chow diet (n=37) or a diet rich in cocoa butter (15%) and cholesterol (0.25%), for 14 weeks to induce atherosclerosis (n=36). Offspring from MHF-fed mothers had 1.9-fold larger atherosclerotic lesions (P<0.001). There was no direct effect of prenatal diet on plasma triglycerides or cholesterol; however, transgenic ApoE*3 Leiden offspring displayed raised cholesterol when on an atherogenic diet compared with wild-type controls (P=0.031). Lesion size was correlated with plasma lipid parameters after adjustment for genotype, maternal diet and postnatal diet (R2=0.563, P<0.001). ApoE*3 Leiden mothers fed a MHF diet developed hypercholesterolemia (plasma cholesterol two-fold higher than in chow-fed mothers, P=0.011). The data strongly suggest that maternal hypercholesterolemia programs later susceptibility to atherosclerosis. This is consistent with previous observations in humans and animal models.
The association between harmful use of alcohol and HIV infection is well documented. To address this dual epidemic, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) developed and implemented a multi-pronged approach primarily in Namibia and Botswana. We present the approach and preliminary results of the public health investigative and programmatic activities designed, initiated and supported by PEPFAR to combat the harmful use of alcohol and its association as a driver of HIV morbidity and mortality from 2008 to 2013.
PEPFAR supported comprehensive alcohol programming using a matrix model approach that combined the socio-ecological framework and the Alcohol Misuse Prevention and Intervention Continuum. This structure enabled seven component objectives: (1) to quantify harmful use of alcohol through rapid assessments; (2) to develop and evaluate alcohol-based interventions; (3) to promote screening programs and alcohol abuse resource services; (4) to support stakeholder networks; (5) to support policy interventions and (6) structural interventions; and (7) to institutionalize universal prevention messages.
Targeted PEPFAR support for alcohol activities resulted in several projects to address harmful alcohol use and HIV. Components are graphically conceptualized within the matrix model, demonstrating the intersections between primary, secondary and tertiary prevention activities and individual, interpersonal, community, and societal factors. Key initiative successes included leveraging alcohol harm prevention activities that enabled projects to be piloted in healthcare settings, schools, communities, and alcohol outlets. Primary challenges included the complexity of multi-sectorial programming, varying degrees of political will, and difficulties monitoring outcomes over the short duration of the program.
Iron oxides resulting from the corrosion of large quantities of steel that are planned to be installed throughout a deep geological disposal facility (GDF) are expected to be one of the key surfaces of interest for controlling radionuclide behaviour under disposal conditions. Over the lengthy timescales associated with a GDF, the system is expected to become anoxic so that reduced Fe(II) phases will dominate. Batch experiments have therefore been completed in order to investigate how a model reduced Fe-oxide surface (wüstite, Fe1–xO) alters as a function of exposure to aqueous solutions with compositions representative of conditions expected within a GDF. Additional experiments were performed to constrain the effect that highly alkaline solutions (up to pH 13) have on the adsorption behaviour of the uranyl (UO22+) ion onto the surfaces of both wüstite and portlandite [Ca(OH)2; representative of the expected cementitious phases]. Surface co-ordination chemistry and speciation were determined by ex situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy measurements (both X-ray absorption near-edge structure analysis (XANES) and extended X-ray absorption fine structure analysis (EXAFS)). Diffraction, elemental analysis and XANES showed that the bulk solid composition and Fe oxidation state remained relatively unaltered over the time frame of these experiments (120 h), although under alkaline conditions possible surface hydroxylation is observed, due presumably to the formation of surface hydroxyl complexes. The surface morphology, however, is altered significantly with a large degree of roughening and an observed decrease in the average particle size. Reduction of U(VI) to U(IV) occurs during adsorption in almost all cases and this is interpreted to indicate that wüstite may be an effective reductant of U during surface adsorption. This work also shows that increasing the carbonate concentration in reactant solutions dramatically decreases the adsorption coefficients for U on both wüstite and portlandite, consistent with U speciation and surface reactivity determined in other studies. Finally, the EXAFS results include new details about exactly how U bonds to this metal oxide surface.
Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) is the most important annual pasture legume in the winter-dominant rainfall areas of Southern Australia. Systematic germplasm collections of subterranean clover from its centre of origin have been made since the 1950s, particularly by Australian scientists, in order to broaden the genetic base of the species. The present study reports on a meta-analysis of the distribution of the world collection of subterranean clovers and their relationships to eco-geographic variables of the collection sites in their native habitat. Diversity hotspots (areas rich in number of accessions and containing a high diversity of sub-species) and also gaps (areas with particular traits un- or under-represented in collections) were identified. This was achieved using a stratified data system to evaluate eco-geographical and agro-morphological data which incorporated three tiers of information for the subterranean clover collection: (1) information from each collection site, including ecological data; (2) information on the phenotypic diversity within each collection site; and (3) plant agro-morphological data from each sample grown under controlled conditions. Correlations were found between some eco-geographic conditions and agronomic performance. These included correlations between latitude and flowering time, mean temperature in winter and winter productivity and precipitation in summer and seed dormancy. The present study concluded that subterranean clover versatility is greater than suggested in the past. The results of the current analysis provide a guide for future collecting missions to specific regions towards areas of maximum diversity (hotspots) and unknown diversity (gaps).
Bacterial endospores are resistant to many environmental factors from temperature extremes to ultraviolet irradiation and are generally more difficult to inactivate or kill than vegetative bacterial cells. It is often considered necessary to treat spores or samples containing spores with chemical fixative solutions for prolonged periods of time (e.g., 1–21 days) to achieve fixation/inactivation to enable electron microscopy (EM) examination outside of containment laboratories. Prolonged exposure to chemical fixatives, however, can alter the ultrastructure of spores for EM analyses. This study was undertaken to determine the minimum amount of time required to inactivate/sterilize and fix spore preparations from several bacterial species using a universal fixative solution for EM that maintains the ultrastructural integrity of the spores. We show that a solution of 4% paraformaldehyde with 1% glutaraldehyde inactivated spore preparations of Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, and Clostridium perfringens in 30 min, and Bacillus subtilis in 240 min. These results suggest that this fixative solution can be used to inactivate and fix spores from several major groups of bacterial spore formers after 240 min, enabling the fixed preparations to be removed from biocontainment and safely analyzed by EM outside of biocontainment.