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Human neurocysticercosis (NCC) is a worldwide neglected disease caused by Taenia solium metacestode and responsible for various complications and neurological disorders. This study aimed to evaluate the use of specific immunoglobulin Y (IgY) produced by laying hens immunized with a hydrophobic fraction of Taenia crassiceps metacestodes (hFTc) in NCC diagnosis. Egg yolk IgY antibodies were fractionated, purified and characterized. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was carried out to evaluate the production kinetics and avidity maturation of anti-hFTc IgY antibodies throughout the IgY obtention process. Antigen recognition tests were carried out by Western blotting and immunofluorescence antibody test using purified and specific anti-hFTc IgY antibodies for detection of parasitic antigens of T. crassiceps and T. solium metacestodes. Sandwich ELISA was performed to detect circulating immune complexes formed by IgG and parasitic antigens in human sera. The results showed high diagnostic values (93.2% sensitivity and 94.3% specificity) for immune complexes detection in human sera with confirmed NCC. In conclusion, specific IgY antibodies produced from immunized hens with hFTc antigens were efficient to detect T. solium immune complexes in human sera, being an innovative and potential tool for NCC immunodiagnosis.
The rocky shores of the north-east Atlantic have been long studied. Our focus is from Gibraltar to Norway plus the Azores and Iceland. Phylogeographic processes shape biogeographic patterns of biodiversity. Long-term and broadscale studies have shown the responses of biota to past climate fluctuations and more recent anthropogenic climate change. Inter- and intra-specific species interactions along sharp local environmental gradients shape distributions and community structure and hence ecosystem functioning. Shifts in domination by fucoids in shelter to barnacles/mussels in exposure are mediated by grazing by patellid limpets. Further south fucoids become increasingly rare, with species disappearing or restricted to estuarine refuges, caused by greater desiccation and grazing pressure. Mesoscale processes influence bottom-up nutrient forcing and larval supply, hence affecting species abundance and distribution, and can be proximate factors setting range edges (e.g., the English Channel, the Iberian Peninsula). Impacts of invasive non-native species are reviewed. Knowledge gaps such as the work on rockpools and host–parasite dynamics are also outlined.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Reduced plasma vitamin D (VD) levels may contribute to excessive white adipose tissue, insulin resistance (IR) and dyslipidaemia. We evaluated the effect of chronic oral VD supplementation on adiposity and insulin secretion in monosodium glutamate (MSG)-treated rats. During their first 5 d of life, male neonate rats received subcutaneous injections of MSG (4 g/kg), while the control (CON) group received saline solution. After weaning, groups were randomly distributed into VD supplemented (12 µg/kg; three times/week) and non-supplemented (NS) rats, forming four experimental groups (n 15 rats/group): CON-NS, CON-VD, MSG-NS and MSG-VD. At 76 d of life, rats were submitted to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT; 2 g/kg), and at 86 d, obesity, IR and plasma metabolic parameters were evaluated. Pancreatic islets were isolated for glucose-induced insulin secretion (GIIS), cholinergic insulinotropic response and muscarinic 3 receptor (M3R), protein kinase C (PKC) and protein kinase A (PKA) expressions. Pancreas was submitted to histological analyses. VD supplementation decreased hyperinsulinaemia (86 %), hypertriacylglycerolaemia (50 %) and restored insulin sensibility (89 %) in MSG-VD rats, without modifying adiposity, OGTT or GIIS, compared with the MSG-NS group. The cholinergic action was reduced (57 %) in islets from MSG-VD rats, without any change in M3R, PKA or PKC expression. In conclusion, chronic oral VD supplementation of MSG-obese rats was able to prevent hyperinsulinaemia and IR, improving triacylglycerolaemia without modifying adiposity. A reduced cholinergic pancreatic effect, in response to VD, could be involved in the normalisation of plasma insulin levels, an event that appears to be independent of M3R and its downstream pathways.
We assessed self-reported drives for alcohol use and their impact on clinical features of alcohol use disorder (AUD) patients. Our prediction was that, in contrast to “affectively” (reward or fear) driven drinking, “habitual” drinking would be associated with worse clinical features in relation to alcohol use and higher occurrence of associated psychiatric symptoms.
Fifty-eight Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) alcohol abuse patients were assessed with a comprehensive battery of reward- and fear-based behavioral tendencies. An 18-item self-report instrument (the Habit, Reward and Fear Scale; HRFS) was employed to quantify affective (fear or reward) and non-affective (habitual) motivations for alcohol use. To characterize clinical and demographic measures associated with habit, reward, and fear, we conducted a partial least squares analysis.
Habitual alcohol use was significantly associated with the severity of alcohol dependence reflected across a range of domains and with lower number of detoxifications across multiple settings. In contrast, reward-driven alcohol use was associated with a single domain of alcohol dependence, reward-related behavioral tendencies, and lower number of detoxifications.
These results seem to be consistent with a shift from goal-directed to habit-driven alcohol use with severity and progression of addiction, complementing preclinical work and informing biological models of addiction. Both reward-related and habit-driven alcohol use were associated with lower number of detoxifications, perhaps stemming from more benign course for the reward-related and lack of treatment engagement for the habit-related alcohol abuse group. Future work should further explore the role of habit in this and other addictive disorders, and in obsessive-compulsive related disorders.
The use of cactus cladodes in animal feed is well-established in semi-arid areas. The cactus Nopalea cochenillifera (L.) Salm-Dyck cladodes (Nopalea) have high acceptability amongst dairy cows and are resistant to carmine cochineal insects (Dactylopius opuntiae Cockerell), a problem in semi-arid regions, but in regions of prolonged drought, it has lower productivity compared with the cactus Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw cladodes (Opuntia), which is also resistant to the insect. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the intake and content of digestible material of dry matter (DM) and its components, feeding behaviour, microbial protein synthesis, nitrogen balance, blood parameters, performance and milk composition of Holstein cows fed a control diet, containing either Nopalea or Opuntia associated with different concentrate levels (225, 275, 325 and 375 g/kg). Ten cows with an initial average milk production of 20 ± 2.1 kg/day were distributed into a double 5 × 5 Latin square design. Diets containing 775 g roughage/kg and 225 g concentrate/kg promoted similar responses to the analysed variables regardless of the cactus cladode used, except for digestibility of neutral detergent fibre. Diets containing higher proportions of concentrate (325 and 375 g/kg) promoted greater DM intake and 3.5% fat-corrected milk yield. The diet containing Opuntia at 775:225 g/kg roughage:concentrate proportion is as effective as the control diet for Holstein cows producing 20 kg of milk/day. To promote greater milk production, higher proportions of concentrate should be added to diets using Opuntia.
Excitable temperament disrupts physiological events required for reproductive development in cattle, but no research has investigated the impacts of temperament on growth and puberty attainment in Bos indicus females. Hence, this experiment evaluated the effects of temperament on growth, plasma cortisol concentrations and puberty attainment in B. indicus heifers. A total of 170 Nelore heifers, weaned 4 months before the beginning of this experiment (days 0 to 91), were managed in two groups of 82 and 88 heifers each (mean ± SE; initial BW=238±2 kg, initial age=369±1 days across groups). Heifer temperament was evaluated via exit velocity on day 0. Individual exit score was calculated within each group by dividing exit velocity into quintiles and assigning heifers with a score from 1 to 5 (1=slowest; 5=fastest heifer). Heifers were classified according to exit score as adequate (ADQ, n=96; exit score⩽3) or excitable temperament (EXC, n=74; exit score>3). Heifer BW, body condition score (BCS) and blood samples were obtained on days 0, 31, 60 and 91. Heifer exit velocity and score were recorded again on days 31, 60 and 91. Ovarian transrectal ultrasonography was performed on days 0 and 10, 31 and 41, 60 and 70, 81 and 91 for puberty evaluation. Heifer was declared pubertal at the first 10-day interval in which a corpus luteum was detected. Exit velocity and exit score obtained on day 0 were correlated (r⩾0.64, P<0.01) with evaluations on days 31, 60 and 91. During the experiment, ADQ had greater (P<0.01) mean BCS and BW gain, and less (P<0.01) mean plasma cortisol concentration compared with EXC heifers. Temperament × time interactions were detected (P<0.01) for exit velocity and exit score, which were always greater (P<0.01) in EXC v. ADQ heifers. A temperament × time interaction was also detected (P=0.03) for puberty attainment, which was delayed in EXC v. ADQ heifers. At the end of the experiment, a greater (P<0.01) proportion of ADQ were pubertal compared with EXC heifers. In summary, B. indicus heifers classified as EXC had reduced growth, increased plasma cortisol concentrations and hindered puberty attainment compared to ADQ heifers. Moreover, exit velocity may serve as temperament selection criteria to optimize development of B. indicus replacement heifers.
Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful tool for macromolecular to near-atomic resolution structure determination in the biological sciences. The specimen is maintained in a near-native environment within a thin film of vitreous ice and imaged in a transmission electron microscope. The images can then be processed by a number of computational methods to produce three-dimensional information. Recent advances in sample preparation, imaging, and data processing have led to tremendous growth in the field of cryo-EM by providing higher resolution structures and the ability to investigate macromolecules within the context of the cell. Here, we review developments in sample preparation methods and substrates, detectors, phase plates, and cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy that have contributed to this expansion. We also have included specific biological applications.
The aim of this review is to compare the performance of different reproductive programs using natural service, estrus synchronization treatment before natural service (timed natural breeding (TNB)), artificial insemination (AI) following estrus detection and timed artificial insemination (TAI) in beef herds. It is well known that after parturition the beef cow undergoes a period of anestrous, when they do not exhibit estrus, eliminating the opportunity to become pregnant in the early postpartum by natural mating or by AI after detection of estrus. Hormonal stimulation is already a consistent and well-proven strategy used to overcome postpartum anestrus in beef herds. Basically, hormones that normally are produced during the estrous cycle of the cow can be administered in physiological doses to induce cyclicity and to precisely synchronize follicular growth, estrus and ovulation. Furthermore, two options of mating may be used after hormonal stimulation: natural service (i.e. utilization of bull service after synchronization, referred to as TNB) and TAI. These strategies improve the reproductive efficiency of the herds compared with natural service without estrus induction or synchronization. After the first synchronized service, the most common strategy adopted to get non-pregnant cows pregnant soon is the introduction of clean-up bulls until the end of the breeding season. However, methods to resynchronize non-pregnant cows after the first service are already well established and offer a potential tool to reduce the time for subsequent inseminations. Thus, the use of these technologies enable to eliminate the use of bulls by using resynchronization programs (i.e. two, three or four sequential TAI procedures). The dissemination of efficient reproductive procedures, such as TNB, TAI and Resynch programs, either isolated or in combination, enables the production of a greater quantity (obtaining increased pregnancy rates early in the breeding season) and quality (maximization of the use of AI with superior genetic sires) of beef calves. These technologies can contribute to improve the production efficiency, and consequently, improve livestock profitability.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the distribution of cases and the social determinants associated with death from human visceral leishmaniasis (HVL) and VL–HIV co-infection in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, between 2006 and 2013. Descriptive statistics and analysis of associations were performed using chi-square of the raised variables, such as sex, age, skin colour and schooling of cases of HVL. During the study period, there were 866 cases of HVL with 111 deaths in Belo Horizonte. Morbidity and lethality rates (LR) of HVL in Belo Horizonte remained high over almost all the years evaluated, with an average incidence rate of 4.18 cases/100 000 inhabitants and a LR of 11.16%. With respect to skin colour, it was found that people characterised as black or mulatto had higher morbidity, followed by white. Regarding schooling, LR was more prevalent among individuals with lower education. One of the social risk factors was co-infection with HIV, which was present in many cases of HVL. Furthermore, it was found that older age and the male sex were also risk factors for death from HVL in Belo Horizonte.
Although a national programme for control of visceral leishmaniosis (VL) is being run in Brazil, the disease continues to spread. This programme is essentially based on culling infected dogs from endemic regions. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop other control measures against VL to deter its advance. Here, a subunit vaccine, a recombinant vaccine, an insecticide-impregnated collar and the associations between these measures were evaluated for reducing the incidence of Leishmania infection in dogs. This was through a cohort study conducted in an endemic region of Brazil, considering the incidence and time of total exposure over a period of 1 year. The incidence of VL was estimated by means of serological and molecular diagnostic tests, 180 and 360 days after the application of the control measures. The estimates of the effectiveness (EF) were not significant in any cohort. The EF of the subunit vaccine, the recombinant vaccine and the collar were 26.4%, 32.8% and 57.7% and the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for EF were 63.7%, 67.9% and 82.5%, respectively. In conclusion, under the conditions of this study, none of the immunogens for VL control was sufficiently effective to protect dogs against infection. On the other hand, use of collars impregnated with insecticide seems to constitute a method with better prognosis, corroborating other studies in this field.
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the Southern region of the State of Bahia, evaluating the performance of alternative complementary methods for cervical lesion detection. Cervical samples from women who attended healthcare units were collected and diagnosed by visual inspection, cervical cytology and nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Moreover, hemi-nested PCR was performed to detect different HPV genotypes. The prevalence of HPV infection was 47·7%, with genotype 16 detected in most cases. Infection was associated with dyspareunia and bleeding (P < 0·001, odds ratio (OR) 5·6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·815–11·14) and hormonal contraceptive use (P = 0·007, OR 2·33, 95% CI 1·25–4·34). There was a positive correlation between positive PCR and positive visual inspection, cervical cytology and symptoms reported. Furthermore, visual inspection was twice as specific, and had a greater positive predictive value than cytology. We showed a high prevalence of HPV infection in Southern Bahia, with HPV 16 being the most common type, and visual inspection being most effective at detecting HPV lesions, corroborating the suggestion that it can be applied in routine gynecologic examinations for low-income populations.
Non-fasting hypertriacylglycerolaemia is a risk factor for CVD and the amount of fat in a meal seems to be the main factor influencing postprandial lipaemia. Although several studies suggest that Ca can increase faecal fat excretion, it is not known whether Ca can decrease postprandial TAG. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of dietary Ca (DC) and supplemental Ca (SC) on lipaemia, glucose metabolism, C-reactive protein (CRP) and adiponectin during postprandial period in obese women challenged with a high-fat meal. In this cross-over controlled trial, sixteen obese women aged 20–50 years were randomly assigned to receive three test meals (approximately 2900 kJ; 48 % fat): high DC (547 mg DC), high SC (HSCM; 500 mg SC-calcium carbonate) and low Ca (42 mg DC). Blood samples were collected in the fasting period and at minutes 120 and 240 after meals to evaluate total cholesterol and fractions, TAG, glucose, insulin, high-sensitivity CRP and adiponectin. Serum levels of TAG and insulin increased significantly after all test meals. Only after HSCM total cholesterol did not present a significant increase and LDL-cholesterol had a significant decrease. Postprandial glucose, HDL-cholesterol, CRP and adiponectin did not present significant changes after the three test meals. The comparative analysis of the effects of the three test meals on serum lipids, glucose, insulin, CRP and adiponectin revealed no significant meal-by-time interaction. These results suggest that in obese women challenged with a high-fat meal DC and SC do not interfere with postprandial lipaemia, glucose metabolism, CRP and adiponectin.
Resource partitioning is considered one of the main processes driving diversification in ecological communities because it allows coexistence among closely related and ecologically equivalent species. We combined three complementary approaches, i.e. the evaluation of foraging behaviour, diet composition and nutritional condition (RNA:DNA ratio), to assess feeding by two closely related (sister) butterflyfishes that are syntopic in Puerto Rico. Chaetodon capistratus had a higher abundance and higher bite rate and selected octocorals and hard corals for feeding, whereas Chaetodon striatus fed preferentially on sandy substrates. Cnidarians and polychaetes were the most representative diet items for both species, but C. capistratus preferred the former (Feeding Index of 74.3%) and C. striatus the latter (Feeding Index of 60.4%). Similar RNA:DNA ratios for both species suggest that, although they differ in feeding rates and diet, C. capistratus and C. striatus have similar nutritional fitness. Therefore, these species are both zoobenthivores but show clear differences in their substrate selection. The differences in the use of foraging substrate by C. capistratus and C. striatus, despite their close phylogenetic relationship and similar diets, suggest that these species coexist by resource partitioning.
Euthanasia of infected dogs is one of the measures adopted in Brazil to control visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in endemic areas. To detect infected dogs, animals are screened with the rapid test DPP® Visceral Canine Leishmaniasis for detection of antibodies against K26/K39 fusion antigens of amastigotes (DPP). DPP-positives are confirmed with an immunoenzymatic assay probing soluble antigens of promastigotes (ELISA), while DPP-negatives are considered free of infection. Here, 975 dogs from an endemic region were surveyed by using DPP, ELISA and real-time PCR (qPCR) for the diagnosis of VL. When DPP-negative dogs were tested by qPCR applied in blood and lymph node aspirates, 174/887 (19·6%) were positive in at least one sample. In a second sampling using 115 cases, the DPP-negative dogs were tested by qPCR in blood, lymph node and conjunctival swab samples, and 36/79 (45·6%) were positive in at least one sample. Low-to-moderate pairwise agreement was observed between all possible pair of tests. In conclusion, the official diagnosis of VL in dogs in Brazilian endemic areas failed to accuse an expressive number of infected animals and the impact of the low accuracy of serological tests in the success of euthanasia-based measure for VL control need to be assessed.
Zoonotic diseases are a significant health threat for humans and animals. To better understand the epidemiology, etiology, and pathology of infectious agents affecting humans and animals combined approaches are needed. Here we describe an epidemiological investigation conducted by physicians and veterinarians after a reported case of psittacosis. Upon admission suffering from respiratory distress syndrome in a hospital and with a history of bird contact, a female patient was serologically diagnosed with psittacosis. After the case notification, veterinarians were able to investigate the source of infection by detecting Chlamydia psittaci in her pet cockatiel. The bird was hospitalized and successfully treated. In addition, the establishment where the pet bird was purchased was traced and through molecular techniques other birds intended to be sold as pets tested positive for C. psittaci. As a result, sanitary measures were applied and the establishment then was closed down. The birds intended for the pet commerce were treated and retested with negative molecular results for C. psittaci, thus avoiding disease propagation. Reliable data about zoonotic diseases can only be generated through the application of multidisciplinary approaches which take into account the epidemiological factors and interactions of humans, animals and their environments as an integrated system.
Licuri (Syagrus coronate) cake is a biodiesel by-product used in ruminant feed as a beneficial energy source for supplementation in managed pastures. The objective was to evaluate the performance, digestibility, nitrogen balance, blood metabolites, ingestive behavior and diet profitability of eight crossbred Holstein (3/4)×Gyr (5/8) multiparous cows (480±25 kg BW and 100 days milking) grazing and supplemented with licuri cake partially replacing ground corn and soybean meal in concentrate (0, 200, 400 and 600 g/kg in dry matter (DM)), distributed in an experimental duplicated 4×4 Latin square design. Licuri cake partially replacing ground corn and soybean meal increased (P<0.01) the intake and digestibility of ether extract and decreased the non-fiber carbohydrates; however, there were no influences on the intakes of DM, CP, NDF and total digestible nutrients (TDN). The digestibilities of DM, CP and NDF were not influenced by licuri cake addition. There was a decrease trend on TDN digestibility (P=0.08). Licuri cake replacing ground corn and soybean meal in concentrate did not affect the intake; fecal, urinary and mammary excretions; N balance; and triglycerides concentrations. However, the blood urea nitrogen (P=0.04) concentration decreased with the licuri cakes inclusion in cow supplementation. There was an increasing trend for serum creatinine (P=0.07). Licuri cake inclusion did not affect body condition score, production, yield, protein, lactose, total solids and solid non-fat contents of milk and Minas frescal cheese. There was a linear decrease in average daily weight gain (g/day). The milk fat concentration and cheese fat production (P<0.1) presented a linear increase with partial replacement of ground corn and soybean meal with licuri cakes. The addition of licuri cake did not alter the time spent feeding, ruminating or idling. There was an increasing trend in NDF feeding efficiency (P=0.09). The replacing of ground corn and soybean meal with licuri cake up to 600 g/kg decreased the concentrate cost by US$0.45/cow per day. Licuri cake replacing corn and soybeans (400 g/kg) in concentrate promoted a profit of US$0.07/animal per day. Licuri cake is indicated to concentrate the supplementation of dairy cows with average productions of 10 kg/day at levels up to 400 g/kg in the concentrate supplement because it provides an additional profit of US$0.07/animal per day and increased milk and Minas frescal cheese fat without negative effects on productive parameters.
The aims of the present study were to identify and describe the occurrence of nematode parasites in the gonads of bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix from off the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Only females were found to be parasitized by the nematodes, which were identified as P. saltatrix using morphological, morphometric and molecular data. Infection of female bluefish by this nematode had the following values: prevalence, 48.7%; mean intensity, 2.6; mean abundance, 1.3; and range of infection, 1–10 specimens. Histopathological examination of transverse and longitudinal sections of the parasitized ovaries showed nematodes at different stages of development among oocytes, but no indication of any associated inflammatory reaction. The presence of nematodes in the ovaries of bluefish is an important indication of fish hygiene, and parasitized fish are usually rejected by consumers because of their repugnant appearance.
The number of horses in northern Spanish mountains has increased in recent decades, but little is known about their grazing behaviour, performance and potential for foal meat production. This research aimed to study the diet selection, liveweight (LW) changes and parasitic status of dry and lactating mares, and foals’ LW gains, grazing on heathlands with different botanical composition. The experimental design consisted of three vegetation types: dominated by heather (Ericaceae) species (H), dominated by gorse (Ulex gallii; G) and co-dominated by gorse and heath-grasses (G-G), with four replicates per treatment (12 paddocks of 1.2 ha). The study lasted three grazing seasons (2010–12). Each year, 24 crossbred mature mares (310±52 kg LW) were used, managing one lactating mare with her foal plus one non-lactating mare per paddock from May to late summer or early autumn. In the case of H paddocks, animals had to be removed before (late August to early September) because of apparent loss of body condition. Animals were periodically weighed. Mares’ diet composition was estimated using alkane markers, analysing the discrepancies in alkane concentrations between dietary plant components and faeces. Faecal samples were also analysed for gastrointestinal nematodes ova. Chemical composition of the main plant components (i.e. heather, gorse and grasses) revealed a low nutritive value, averaging 79, 115 and 113 g CP/kg dry matter (DM), respectively, that could restrict livestock performance. Mares initially selected gorse and grasses (0.47 and 0.40, respectively, in 2010), increasing heather consumption over time (from 0.13 in 2010 to 0.29 in 2012) as gorse availability decreased. The performance of both mares and foals was lower in H compared with G and G-G paddocks (−216 v. 347 g/day for mares, P<0.01; 278 v. 576 g/day for foals, P<0.05), whereas LW changes were more favourable in dry mares than in lactating ones (241 v. 78 g/day; P<0.05). Small strongyle (Cyathostominae) egg counts in mares’ faeces increased across the grazing season with no differences between treatments. These results indicate that grazing by horses on gorse- and grass-gorse-dominated shrublands could be sustainable at least during part of the year (4 to 6 months). However, heather-dominated heathlands are not able to meet the nutritional needs of horses even for a short time (2 to 4 months). Nevertheless, the low nutritive quality of these vegetation communities, especially in autumn, requires animal access to other pastures with a higher nutritive value, or supplementary feeding, to enhance foals’ growth and maintain sustainable grazing systems with productive herds.
Poor sleep quality is highly prevalent in patients with low back pain (LBP) and is associated with high levels of pain, psychological distress, and physical disability. Studies have reported a bidirectional relationship between sleep problems and intensity of LBP. Accordingly, effective management of LBP should address sleep quality. In addition, genetics has been found to significantly affect the prevalence of both LBP and insomnia. Our study aims to establish the feasibility of a trial exploring the efficacy of a web-based sleep quality intervention in people with LBP, with the genetic influences being controlled for. 30 twins (15 complete pairs) with subacute or chronic LBP (>6 weeks) will be recruited from the Australian Twin Registry. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups with each twin within a pair receiving either an interactive web-based sleep intervention based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles (intervention) or a web-based education program (control) for 6 weeks. The feasibility of the trial will be investigated with regard to recruitment rate, feasibility of data collection and outcome measure completion, contamination of intervention, acceptability and experience of intervention, and sample size requirement for the full trial. Patient outcomes will be collected electronically at baseline, immediately post-treatment, and at 3-months’ follow-up post-randomization. This trial employs a robust design that will effectively control for the influence of genetics on treatment effect. Additionally, this study addresses sleep quality, a significant but under-explored issue in LBP. Results will inform the design and implementation of the definitive trial.