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Introduced species can have strong ecological, social and economic effects on their non-native environment. Introductions of megafaunal species are rare and may contribute to rewilding efforts, but they may also have pronounced socio-ecological effects because of their scale of influence. A recent introduction of the hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius into Colombia is a novel introduction of a megaherbivore onto a new continent, and raises questions about the future dynamics of the socio-ecological system into which it has been introduced. Here we synthesize current knowledge about the Colombian hippopotamus population, review the literature on the species to predict potential ecological and socio-economic effects of this introduction, and make recommendations for future study. Hippopotamuses can have high population growth rates (7–11%) and, on the current trajectory, we predict there could be 400–800 individuals in Colombia by 2050. The hippopotamus is an ecosystem engineer that can have profound effects on terrestrial and aquatic environments and could therefore affect the native biodiversity of the Magdalena River basin. Hippopotamuses are also aggressive and may pose a threat to the many inhabitants of the region who rely upon the Magdalena River for their livelihoods, although the species could provide economic benefits through tourism. Further research is needed to quantify the current and future size and distribution of this hippopotamus population and to predict the likely ecological, social and economic effects. This knowledge must be balanced with consideration of social and cultural concerns to develop appropriate management strategies for this novel introduction.
Background: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a children’s neuromuscular disorder. Although motor neuron loss is a major feature of the disease, we have identified fatty acid abnormalities in SMA patients and in preclinical animal models, suggesting metabolic perturbation is also an important component of SMA. Methods: Biochemical, histological, proteomic, and high resolution respirometry were used. Results: SMA patients are more susceptible to dyslipidemia than the average population as determined by a standard lipid profile in a cohort of 72 pediatric patients. As well, we observed a non-alcoholic liver disease phenotype in apreclinical mouse model. Denervation alone was not sufficient to induce liver steatosis, as a mouse model of ALS, did not develop fatty liver. Hyperglucagonemia in Smn2B/-mice could explain the hepatic steatosis by increasing plasma substrate availability via glycogen depletion and peripheral lipolysis. Proteomic analysis identified mitochondrion and lipid metabolism as major clusters. Alterations in mitochondrial function were revealed by high-resolution respirometry. Finally, low-fat diets led to increased survival in Smn2B/-mice. Conclusions: These results provide strong evidence for lipid metabolism defects in SMA. Further investigation will be required to establish the primary mechanism of these alterations and understand how they lead to additional co-morbidities in SMA patients.
The complex life cycle of Trichinella spiralis includes the migration of newborn larvae through the bloodstream to their encystment in muscle. The parasite establishes an intimate contact with the erythrocytes of the host both during the migration of the newborn larvae and when encysting, as this parasite causes intense vascularization in the muscle cell. The goal of this work was to study the effects of various concentrations of T. spiralis muscle larvae (ML) on erythrocyte membranes. The treatment was performed by incubating human erythrocytes with equal volume of different concentrations of ML for 30 minutes, with controlled agitation (37°C). The control erythrocytes (with no contact with the larvae) were incubated in the same way with an equal volume of physiological solution. To evaluate the alterations to the erythrocytes by the action of the larvae and in the respective controls, an Erythrocyte Rheometer and a Digital Image Analysis technique were used. The results indicated that when the larval concentration was higher, the aggregation and erythrocyte membrane alterations were also higher. Also, the erythrocyte deformability index and the erythrocyte elasticity increased. The values of isolated cell coefficient varied from 0.51 in the treatment with 100 larvae/ml to 0.91 in the incubation with 1000 larvae/ml. This experiment shows that T. spiralis muscle larvae affect significantly the red blood cell aggregation and the erythrocyte viscoelastic properties.
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are sites identified as being globally important for the conservation of bird populations on the basis of an internationally agreed set of criteria. We present the first review of the development and spread of the IBA concept since it was launched by BirdLife International (then ICBP) in 1979 and examine some of the characteristics of the resulting inventory. Over 13,000 global and regional IBAs have so far been identified and documented in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems in almost all of the world’s countries and territories, making this the largest global network of sites of significance for biodiversity. IBAs have been identified using standardised, data-driven criteria that have been developed and applied at global and regional levels. These criteria capture multiple dimensions of a site’s significance for avian biodiversity and relate to populations of globally threatened species (68.6% of the 10,746 IBAs that meet global criteria), restricted-range species (25.4%), biome-restricted species (27.5%) and congregatory species (50.3%); many global IBAs (52.7%) trigger two or more of these criteria. IBAs range in size from < 1 km2 to over 300,000 km2 and have an approximately log-normal size distribution (median = 125.0 km2, mean = 1,202.6 km2). They cover approximately 6.7% of the terrestrial, 1.6% of the marine and 3.1% of the total surface area of the Earth. The launch in 2016 of the KBA Global Standard, which aims to identify, document and conserve sites that contribute to the global persistence of wider biodiversity, and whose criteria for site identification build on those developed for IBAs, is a logical evolution of the IBA concept. The role of IBAs in conservation planning, policy and practice is reviewed elsewhere. Future technical priorities for the IBA initiative include completion of the global inventory, particularly in the marine environment, keeping the dataset up to date, and improving the systematic monitoring of these sites.
A latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) prevalence survey was conducted using tuberculin skin test (TST) and Quantiferon test (QFT) in 1218 healthcare workers (HCWs) in Medellín, Colombia. In order to improve the prevalence estimates, a latent class model was built using a Bayesian approach with informative priors on the sensitivity and specificity of the TST. The proportion of concordant results (TST+,QFT+) was 41% and the discordant results contributed 27%. The marginal estimate of the prevalence P(LTBI+) was 62·1% [95% credible interval (CrI) 53·0–68·2]. The probability of LTBI+ given positive results for both tests was 99·6% (95% CrI 98·1–99·9). Sensitivity was 88·5 for TST and 74·3 for QFT, and specificity was 87·8 for TST and 97·6 for QFT. A high LTBI prevalence was found in HCWs with time-accumulated exposure in hospitals that lack control plans. In a context of intermediate tuberculosis (TB) incidence it is recommended to use only one test (either QFT or TST) in prevalence surveys or as pre-employment tests. Results will be useful to help implement TB infection control plans in hospitals where HCWs may be repeatedly exposed to unnoticed TB patients, and to inform the design of TB control policies.
Since April 2015, whole genome sequencing (WGS) has been the routine test for Salmonella identification, surveillance and outbreak investigation at the national reference laboratory in England and Wales. In May 2015, an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis cases was detected using WGS data and investigated. UK cases were interviewed to obtain a food history and links between suppliers were mapped to produce a food chain network for chicken eggs. The association between the food chain network and the phylogeny was explored using a network comparison approach. Food and environmental samples were taken from premises linked to cases and tested for Salmonella. Within the outbreak single nucleotide polymorphism defined cluster, 136 cases were identified in the UK and 18 in Spain. One isolate from a food containing chicken eggs was within the outbreak cluster. There was a significant association between the chicken egg food chain of UK cases and phylogeny of outbreak isolates. This is the first published Salmonella outbreak to be prospectively detected using WGS. This outbreak in the UK was linked with contemporaneous cases in Spain by WGS. We conclude that UK and Spanish cases were exposed to a common source of Salmonella-contaminated chicken eggs.
Despite documented increases in emergency department (ED) mental health (MH) presentations, there are inconsistent findings on the characteristics of patients with repeat presentations to pediatric EDs (PEDs) for MH concerns. Our study sought to explore the characteristics of MH patients with repeat PED visits and determine predictors of return visits, of earlier repeat visits, and of more frequent repeat visits.
We examined data collected prospectively in a clinical database looking at MH presentations to a crisis intervention program housed within a PED from October 2006 to December 2011. Predictive models based on demographic and clinical variables were constructed using logistic, Cox, and negative binomial regression.
A total of 4,080 presentations to the PED were made by the 2,900 children and youth. Repeat visits accounted for almost half (45.8%) of all presentations. Multivariable analysis identified five variables that independently predicted greater odds of having repeat presentations, greater risk of earlier repeat presentations, and greater risk of frequent repeat presentations. The five variables were: female, living in the metropolitan community close to the PED, being in the care of child protective services, taking psychotropic medications, and presenting with an actionable need in the area of mood disturbances.
Repeat visits account for a large portion of all MH presentations to the PED. Furthermore, several patient characteristics are significant predictors of repeat PED use and of repeating use sooner and more frequently. Further research is needed to examine interventions targeting this patient group to ensure appropriate MH patient management.
The AMIGA project carries out a multiwavelength study of the largest catalogue of isolated galaxies from the Local Universe (CIG, Karachentseva 1973). Compared to any other sample —field galaxies included— and using highly strict isolation criteria (unperturbed for at least ~3 Gyr, Verdes-Montenegro et al. 2005), all the results show that these galaxies have the lowest values of the physical magnitudes expected to be enhanced by interactions. This strongly supports isolated galaxies as ideal laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. Despite CIG galaxies show the lowest HI integrated profile asymmetry level when compared to any other sample, some cases present up to 50% HI asymmetry (Espada et al. 2011b). We aim to shed light over the causes and sources of such asymmetries with our deep radiointerferometric and optical observations of CIG targets. Since major mergers are ruled out by the isolation criteria, in this work we are addressing whether minor mergers, internal processes or primordial gas accretion are responsible for such asymmetries.
Slow magnetoacoustic waves were first detected in hot (>6 MK) flare loops by the SOHO/SUMER spectrometer as Doppler shift oscillations in Fe xix and Fe xxi lines. Recently, such longitudinal waves have been found by SDO/AIA in the 94 and 131 Å channels. Wang et al. (2015) reported the first AIA event revealing signatures in agreement with a fundamental standing slow-mode wave, and found quantitative evidence for thermal conduction suppression from the temperature and density perturbations in the hot loop plasma of ≳ 9 MK. The present study extends the work of Wang et al. (2015) by using an alternative approach. We determine the polytropic index directly based on the polytropic assumption instead of invoking the linear approximation. The same results are obtained as in the linear approximation, indicating that the nonlinearity effect is negligible. We find that the flare loop cools slower (by a factor of 2–4) than expected from the classical Spitzer conductive cooling, approximately consistent with the result of conduction suppression obtained from the wave analysis. The modified Spitzer cooling timescales based on the nonlocal conduction approximation are consistent with the observed, suggesting that nonlocal conduction may account for the observed conduction suppression in this event. In addition, the conduction suppression mechanism predicts that larger flares may tend to be hotter than expected by the EM-T relation derived by Shibata & Yokoyama (2002).
A range of optical and optoelectronic applications would benefit from high refractive index (n), dense and transparent films that guide, concentrate and couple light. However, materials with high n usually have a high optical extinction coefficient (κ) which keeps these materials from being suitable for optical components that require long optical paths. We studied titanium hafnium oxide alloy films to obtain high refractive index (n>2) with minimum optical extinction coefficients (κ < 10−5) over the visible and near IR spectrum (380-930 nm). Titanium hafnium oxide alloys were deposited using pulsed DC reactive magnetron sputtering with and without RF substrate bias on silicon dioxide. For a given deposition condition intended for a specific titanium/hafnium molar fraction ratio, the ion energy of deposition species was explicitly controlled by varying the RF substrate bias. Spectroscopic ellipsometry, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to characterize the films. It appears that applying RF substrate bias reduces the nanocrystalline size, changes the surface morphology and increases the refractive index while maintaining comparable titanium/hafnium cation molar fraction. Precise control of the nanostructure of ternary metal oxides can alter their macroscopic properties, resulting in improved optical films.
We simulated the frequency of tuberculosis infection in healthcare workers in order to classify the risk of TB transmission for nine hospitals in Medellín, Colombia. We used a risk assessment approach to estimate the average number of infections in three risk groups of a cohort of 1082 workers exposed to potentially infectious patients over 10- and 20-day periods. The risk level of the hospitals was classified according to TB prevalence: two of the hospitals were ranked as being of very high priority, six as high priority and one as low priority. Consistent results were obtained when the simulation was validated in two hospitals by studying 408 healthcare workers using interferon gamma release assays and tuberculin skin testing. The latent infection prevalence using laboratory tests was 41% [95% confidence interval (CI) 34·3–47·7] and 44% (95% CI 36·4–51·0) in those hospitals, and in the simulation, it was 40·7% (95% CI 32·3–49·0) and 36% (95% CI 27·9–44·0), respectively. Simulation of risk may be useful as a tool to classify local and regional hospitals according to their risk of nosocomial TB transmission, and to facilitate the design of hospital infection control plans.
Depression is common and the efficacy of antidepressants is suboptimal. High plasma homocysteine has been consistently associated with depression, and treatment with certain B vitamins demonstrably reduces its concentration.
To determine whether vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid enhance response to antidepressant treatment over 52 weeks.
Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of citalopram (20–40 g) together with 0.5mg of vitamin B12, 2mg of folic acid and 25mg of vitamin B6 for 52 weeks (Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: 12609000256279). Participants were community-dwelling adults aged 50 years or over with DSM-IV-TR major depression. We measured severity of symptoms with the Montgomery–åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). The primary outcome was remission of the depressive episode after 12, 26 and 52 weeks. Secondary outcomes included reduction of MADRS scores over time and relapse of major depression after recovery by week 12.
In total, 153 people were randomised (76 placebo, 77 vitamins). Remission of symptoms was achieved by 78.1 and 79.4% of participants treated with placebo and vitamins by week 12 (P = 0.840), by 76.5 and 85.3% at week 26 and 75.8 and 85.5% at week 52 (effect of intervention over 52 weeks: odds ratio (OR) = 2.49, 95% CI 1.12–5.51). Group differences in MADRS scores over time were not significant (P = 0.739). The risk of subsequent relapse among those who had achieved remission of symptoms at week 12 was lower in the vitamins than placebo group (OR = 0.33, 95% CI 0.12–0.94).
B vitamins did not increase the 12-week efficacy of antidepressant treatment, but enhanced and sustained antidepressant response over 1 year. Replication of these findings would mandate that treatment guidelines adopt the adjunctive use of B vitamins as a safe and inexpensive strategy to manage major depression in middle-aged and older adults.
The presence of 10 virulence genes was examined using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 365 European O157 and non-O157 Escherichia coli isolates associated with verotoxin production. Strain-specific PCR data were analysed using hierarchical clustering. The resulting dendrogram clearly separated O157 from non-O157 strains. The former clustered typical high-risk seropathotype (SPT) A strains from all regions, including Sweden and Spain, which were homogenous by Cramer's V statistic, and strains with less typical O157 features mostly from Hungary. The non-O157 strains divided into a high-risk SPTB harbouring O26, O111 and O103 strains, a group pathogenic to pigs, and a group with few virulence genes other than for verotoxin. The data demonstrate SPT designation and selected PCR separated verotoxigenic E. coli of high and low risk to humans; although more virulence genes or pulsed-field gel electrophoresis will need to be included to separate high-risk strains further for epidemiological tracing.
Trajectory patterns of positive, disorganized and negative dimension symptoms during antipsychotic treatment in drug-naive patients with first-episode psychosis have yet to be examined by using naturalistic data.
This pragmatic clinical trial randomized 161 drug-naive patients with a first episode of psychosis to olanzapine, risperidone or haloperidol. Patients were assessed with the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) and Positive Symptoms (SAPS) at baseline and at the end of weeks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of antipsychotic treatment. Censored normal models of response trajectories were developed with three dimensions of the SAPS-SANS scores (positive, disorganized and negative) in order to identify the different response trajectories. Diagnosis, cannabis use, duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), smoking and antipsychotic class were examined as possible predictive variables.
Patients were classified in five groups according to the positive dimension, three groups according to the disorganized dimension and five groups according to the negative dimension. Longer DUPs and cannabis use were associated with higher scores and poorer responses in the positive dimension. Cannabis use was associated with higher scores and poorer responses in the disorganized dimension. Only schizophrenia diagnosis was associated with higher scores and poorer responses in the negative dimension.
Our results illustrate the heterogeneity of short-term response to antipsychotics in patients with a first episode of psychosis and highlight markedly different patterns of response in the positive, disorganized and negative dimensions. DUP, cannabis use and diagnosis appeared to have a prognostic value in predicting treatment response with different implications for each dimension.
We studied physical properties of titanium hafnium oxide (TixHf1-xO2) alloy thin films deposited by pulsed DC reactive magnetron sputtering with AC substrate bias. Thin films of two end oxides, hafnium oxides (HfO2) and titanium oxides (TiO2), and their alloys TixHf1-xO2 with a range of compositions deposited with and without the substrate bias were compared to study the dependence of physical properties of the thin films on the substrate bias. Structural, chemical and optical properties of the thin films were analyzed to assess inter-relationship among these properties. Thin films deposited with the AC substrate bias consistently show much higher refractive index and significantly lower optical extinction coefficient than those of thin films deposited without the substrate bias suggesting that characteristic microstructures developed in these thin films are responsible for the differences in the optical properties.
We prepared colloidal crystals by self-assembly of gold-coated silica nanospheres, and formed free-standing nanoporous membranes by sintering these colloidal crystals. We modified the nanopore surface with ionizable functional groups, by forming a monolayer of L-cysteine or by surface-initiated polymerization of methacrylic acid. Diffusion experiments for neutral and cationic dyes showed that transport through these surface-modified Au-coated colloidal membranes can be controlled by pH and presence of metal cations.
Erythropoietin (EPO) gene therapy can be used for several purposes; however, its effects on reproductive performance are unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate the toxicological effects of non-viral (EPO) gene transfer on sperm motility, viability, morphology and concentration. Rabbit EPO cDNA was cloned into a pTarget mammalian expression vector. Rabbits were administered with: (1) pTarget/EPO vector, (2) recombinant human EPO (rHuEpo) and (3) saline (control). Both pTarget/EPO and rHuEpo significantly increased (P < 0.05) hematocrit levels 1 week after injection and they remained significantly higher than the control for up to 5 weeks (P < 0.05), showing that both EPO treatments were effective in stimulating the production of red blood cells in rabbits. The EPO gene transfer or rHuEPO administration had no significant effect (P > 0.05) on sperm motility, vigor, viability, concentration or morphology in the testis.