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Whole blood collected from koalas admitted to the Australian Zoo Wildlife Hospital (AZWH), Beerwah, QLd, Australia, during late 2006–2009 was tested using trypanosome species-specific 18S rDNA PCRs designed to amplify DNA from Trypanosoma irwini, T. gilletti and T. copemani. Clinical records for each koala sampled were reviewed and age, sex, blood packed cell volume (PCV), body condition, signs of illness, blood loss, trauma, chlamydiosis, bone marrow disease, koala AIDS and hospital admission outcome (‘survival’ / ‘non-survival’) were correlated with PCR results. Overall 73·8% (439/595) of the koalas were infected with at least 1 species of trypanosome. Trypanosoma irwini was detected in 423/595 (71·1%), T. gilletti in 128/595 (21·5%) and T. copemani in 26/595 (4·4%) of koalas. Mixed infections were detected in 125/595 (21%) with co-infections of T. irwini and T. gilletti (101/595, 17%) being most common. There was a statistical association between infection with T. gilletti with lower PCV values and body condition scores in koalas with signs of chlamydiosis, bone marrow disease or koala AIDS. No association between T. gilletti infection and any indicator of health was observed in koalas without signs of concurrent disease. This raises the possibility that T. gilletti may be potentiating other disease syndromes affecting koalas.
Trypanosoma irwini was previously described from koalas and we now report the finding of a second novel species, T. gilletti, as well as the extension of the host range of Trypanosoma copemani to include koalas. Phylogenetic analysis at the 18S rDNA and gGAPDH loci demonstrated that T. gilletti was genetically distinct with a genetic distance (±s.e.) at the 18S rDNA locus of 2·7±0·5% from T. copemani (wombat). At the gGAPDH locus, the genetic distance (±s.e.) of T. gilletti was 8·7±1·1% from T. copemani (wombat). Trypanosoma gilletti was detected using a nested trypanosome 18S rDNA PCR in 3/139 (∼2%) blood samples and in 2/29 (∼7%) spleen tissue samples from koalas whilst T. irwini was detected in 72/139 (∼52%) blood samples and T. copemani in 4/139 (∼3%) blood samples from koalas. In addition, naturally occurring mixed infections were noted in 2/139 (∼1·5%) of the koalas tested.
The morphology and genetic characterization of a new species of trypanosome infecting koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are described. Morphological analysis of bloodstream forms and phylogenetic analysis at the 18S rDNA and gGAPDH loci demonstrated this trypanosome species to be genetically distinct and most similar to Trypanosoma bennetti, an avian trypanosome with a genetic distance of 0·9% at the 18S rDNA and 10·7% at the gGAPDH locus. The trypanosome was detected by 18S rDNA PCR in the blood samples of 26 out of 68 (38·2%) koalas studied. The aetiological role of trypanosomes in koala disease is currently poorly defined, although infection with these parasites has been associated with severe clinical signs in a number of koalas. Based on biological and genetic characterization data, this trypanosome species infecting koalas is proposed to be a new species Trypanosome irwini n. sp.
To test whether scores on depression inventories on entry to a longitudinal study predict mental ability over the next 4–16 years.
Associations between scores on the Beck Depression Inventory and on tests of intelligence, vocabulary and memory were analysed in 5070 volunteers aged 49–93 years after differences in prescribed drug consumption, death and drop-out, sex, socio-economic advantage and recruitment cohort effects had also been considered.
On all cognitive tasks Beck scores on entry, even in the range 0–7 indicating differences in above average contentment, affected overall levels of cognitive performance but not rates of age-related cognitive decline suggesting effects of differences in life satisfaction rather than in depression.
A new finding is that, in old age, increments in life satisfaction are associated with better cognitive performance. Implications for interpreting associations between depression inventory scores and cognitive performance in elderly samples are discussed.
Event-related potentials during a two-tone discrimination task were recorded in 24 schizophrenic patients, 16 depressed patients and 59 control subjects. Recordings were made when patients were medication-free. Fourteen schizophrenic and 13 depressed patients were retested at 1 and 4 weeks after the start of treatment, and 13 schizophrenic patients were also tested between 6 and 24 months after the initial recordings. In the schizophrenic group, the P3 latency was significantly prolonged compared with that in the control and the depressed groups, and remained unchanged both after 4 weeks treatment with therapeutic doses of neuroleptic drugs and at long-term follow-up. In the depressed group, the P3 latency did not differ from that of controls. P3 amplitude by contrast was reduced in both the acutely depressed and schizophrenic groups and following treatment became normal in the depressed group but remained reduced in the schizophrenic group. It is suggested that a prolonged P3 latency and reduced P3 amplitude indicate an impairment of auditory information processing in some patients with schizophrenia which is independent of the presence of acute psychotic symptoms and is not influenced by neuroleptic medication.
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