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Depressive symptoms are highly prevalent among partnered dementia caregivers, but the mechanisms are unclear. This study examined the mediating role of loneliness in the association between dementia and other types of care on subsequent depressive symptoms.
Prospective data from partnered caregivers were drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. The sample consisted of 4,672 partnered adults aged 50–70 living in England and Wales, followed up between 2006–2007 and 2014–2015. Caregiving was assessed across waves 3 (2006–2007), 4 (2008–2009), and 5 (2010–2011), loneliness at wave 6 (2012–2013), and subsequent depressive symptoms at wave 7 (2014–15). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the association between caregiving for dementia and depressive symptoms compared to caregiving for other illnesses (e.g., diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, and stroke). Binary mediation analysis was used to estimate the indirect effects of caregiving on depressive symptoms via loneliness.
Care for a partner with dementia was associated with higher odds of depressive symptoms at follow-up compared to those not caring for a partner at all (odds ratio [OR] = 2.6, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.4, 5.1). This association was partially mediated by loneliness (34%). Care for a partner with other conditions was also associated with higher odds of depressive symptoms compared to non-caregiving partners (OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.5), but there was no evidence of an indirect pathway via loneliness.
Loneliness represents an important contributor to the relationship between dementia caregiving and subsequent depressive symptoms; therefore, interventions to reduce loneliness among partnered dementia caregivers should be considered.
Perceived discrimination is associated with worse mental health. Few studies have assessed whether perceived discrimination (i) is associated with the risk of psychotic disorders and (ii) contributes to an increased risk among minority ethnic groups relative to the ethnic majority.
We used data from the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions Work Package 2, a population-based case−control study of incident psychotic disorders in 17 catchment sites across six countries. We calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the associations between perceived discrimination and psychosis using mixed-effects logistic regression models. We used stratified and mediation analyses to explore differences for minority ethnic groups.
Reporting any perceived experience of major discrimination (e.g. unfair treatment by police, not getting hired) was higher in cases than controls (41.8% v. 34.2%). Pervasive experiences of discrimination (≥3 types) were also higher in cases than controls (11.3% v. 5.5%). In fully adjusted models, the odds of psychosis were 1.20 (95% CI 0.91–1.59) for any discrimination and 1.79 (95% CI 1.19–1.59) for pervasive discrimination compared with no discrimination. In stratified analyses, the magnitude of association for pervasive experiences of discrimination appeared stronger for minority ethnic groups (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.12–2.68) than the ethnic majority (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 0.65–3.10). In exploratory mediation analysis, pervasive discrimination minimally explained excess risk among minority ethnic groups (5.1%).
Pervasive experiences of discrimination are associated with slightly increased odds of psychotic disorders and may minimally help explain excess risk for minority ethnic groups.
Mass asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplified testing of healthcare personnel (HCP) was performed at a large tertiary health system. A low period-prevalence of positive HCP was observed. Of those who tested positive, half had mild symptoms in retrospect. HCP with even mild symptoms should be isolated and tested.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in depression and anxiety among those with and without a history of mental illness. Commonly used forms of psychological therapy improve mental health by teaching psychotherapeutic strategies that assist people to better manage their symptoms and cope with life stressors. Minimal research to date has explored their application or value in managing mental health during significant broad-scale public health crises.
To determine which psychotherapeutic strategies people who have previously received therapy use to manage their distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether the use and perceived helpfulness of these strategies has an effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Data (N = 857) was drawn from multiple waves of a representative longitudinal study of the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of Australian adults, which includes measures of anxiety, depression and experiences with psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic strategies.
Previous engagement in therapy with psychotherapeutic strategies had a protective effect on depressive but not anxiety symptoms. Common and helpful strategies used by respondents were exercise, mindfulness and breathing exercises. Using mindfulness and perceiving it to be helpful was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. No other strategies were associated with improved mental health.
Prior knowledge of psychotherapeutic strategies may play a role in managing mental health during unprecedented public health events such as a global pandemic. There may be value in promoting these techniques more widely in the community to manage general distress during such times.
We assessed long-term incidence and prevalence trends of dementia and parkinsonism across major ethnic and immigrant groups in Ontario.
Linking administrative databases, we established two cohorts (dementia 2001–2014 and parkinsonism 2001–2015) of all residents aged 20 to 100 years with incident diagnosis of dementia (N = 387,937) or parkinsonism (N = 59,617). We calculated age- and sex-standardized incidence and prevalence of dementia and parkinsonism by immigrant status and ethnic groups (Chinese, South Asian, and the General Population). We assessed incidence and prevalence trends using Poisson regression and Cochran–Armitage trend tests.
Across selected ethnic groups, dementia incidence and prevalence were higher in long-term residents than recent or longer-term immigrants from 2001 to 2014. During this period, age- and sex-standardized incidence of dementia in Chinese, South Asian, and the General Population increased, respectively, among longer-term immigrants (by 41%, 58%, and 42%) and long-term residents (28%, 7%, and 4%), and to a lesser degree among recent immigrants. The small number of cases precluded us from assessing parkinsonism incidence trends. For Chinese, South Asian, and the General Population, respectively, prevalence of dementia and parkinsonism modestly increased over time among recent immigrants but significantly increased among longer-term immigrants (dementia: 134%, 217%, and 117%; parkinsonism: 55%, 54%, and 43%) and long-term residents (dementia: 97%, 132%, and 71%; parkinsonism: 18%, 30%, and 29%). Adjustment for pre-existing conditions did not appear to explain incidence trends, except for stroke and coronary artery disease as potential drivers of dementia incidence.
Recent immigrants across major ethnic groups in Ontario had considerably lower rates of dementia and parkinsonism than long-term residents, but this difference diminished with longer-term immigrants.
Three holes were drilled to the bed of Rutford Ice Stream, through ice up to 2154 m thick, to investigate the basal processes and conditions associated with fast ice flow and the glacial history of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. A narrative of the drilling, measuring and sampling activities, as well as some preliminary results and initial interpretations of subglacial conditions, is given. These were the deepest subglacial access holes ever drilled using the hot-water drilling method. Samples of bed and englacial sediments were recovered, and a number of instruments were installed in the ice column and the bed. The ice–bed interface was found to be unfrozen, with an existing, well-developed subglacial hydrological system at high pressure, within ~1% of the ice overburden. The bed itself comprises soft, water-saturated sediments, consistent with previous geophysical interpretations. Englacial sediment quantity varies significantly between two locations ~2 km apart, and possibly over even shorter (~20 m) distances. Difficulties and unusual observations encountered while connecting to the subglacial hydrological system in one hole possibly resulted from the presence of a large clast embedded in the bottom of the ice.
Parasites sometimes expand their host range and cause new disease aetiologies. Genetic changes can then occur due to host-specific adaptive alterations, particularly when parasites cross between evolutionarily distant hosts. Characterizing genetic variation in Cryptosporidium from humans and other animals may have important implications for understanding disease dynamics and transmission. We analyse sequences from four loci (gp60, HSP-70, COWP and actin) representing multiple Cryptosporidium species reported in humans. We predicted low genetic diversity in species that present unusual human infections due to founder events and bottlenecks. High genetic diversity was observed in isolates from humans of Cryptosporidium meleagridis, Cryptosporidium cuniculus, Cryptosporidium hominis and Cryptosporidium parvum. A deviation of expected values of neutrality using Tajima's D was observed in C. cuniculus and C. meleagridis. The high genetic diversity in C. meleagridis and C. cuniculus did not match our expectations but deviations from neutrality indicate a recent decrease in genetic variability through a population bottleneck after an expansion event. Cryptosporidium hominis was also found with a significant Tajima's D positive value likely caused by recent population expansion of unusual genotypes in humans. These insights indicate that changes in genetic diversity can help us to understand host-parasite adaptation and evolution.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concluded between the UK and Ireland in May 2019 provides one of the few clear legacies of Theresa May’s premiership. The Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland, the UK, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man provides the basis for domestic immigration and nationality laws which permit Irish citizens to reside in the UK and for them to be treated as “not foreign” in the context of UK domestic laws concerning access to healthcare, employment, social security, political participation, and education. Yet it has long lacked legal definition. The UK and Ireland reciprocate, to a rough extent, these rights for each other’s citizens. The MoU and related developments mark the first steps towards clarifying the CTA’s scope. The rush to conclude this MoU and alter parts of both countries’ domestic law relating to the CTA nonetheless illustrate the fragile state of Ireland–UK relations with Brexit looming. This Article explores whether these reforms will enable people who rely upon the CTA as a foundation of life outside their home country to protect their interests through litigation, and reflects upon the relationship between these arrangements and the protections for EU citizens proposed under the UK–EU Withdrawal Agreement.
Tuberculosis (TB) in children is a critical public health issue. In Bohol, Philippines, we found a high tuberculin skin test (TST)-positive prevalence (weighted prevalence = 6.4%) among 5476 children (<15 years) from 184 villages, with geographically isolated communities having prevalence as high as 29%. Therefore, we conducted a geospatial and hot spot analysis to examine the association between villages with high TST-positive prevalence (⩾6.5%) and access to medical care (distance (in kilometres and minutes of travel time) to the municipal Rural Health Units (RHU)), access to healthcare resources (distance to Provincial Health Office (PHO)) and socioeconomic determinants of health. Hot spot analysis revealed significant clusters of TST-positive prevalence in villages farthest from the PHO. Based on univariate analysis, the following variables associated with high prevalence were included in the multivariate model: minutes of travel time to the PHO, distance to the PHO, island villages and total deprivation based on socioeconomic indicators. In the final model, only distance to PHO in minutes was significant (P = 0.005). When evaluated further, greater than 1-hour drive significantly increased risk for TST-positivity (P = 0.003). Distance to healthcare resources likely increases the risk of TB transmission within the community. Expanding TB control efforts to geographically isolated areas is critical.
Altered neurocognitive function in schizophrenia could reflect both genetic and illness-specific effects.
To use functional magnetic resonance imaging to discriminate between the influences of the genetic risk for schizophrenia and environmental factors on the neural substrate of verbal fluency, a candidate schizophrenia endophenotype using a case control twin design.
We studied 23 monozygotic twin pairs: 13 pairs discordant for schizophrenia and 10 pairs of healthy volunteer twins. Groups were matched for age, gender, handedness, level of education, parental socio-economic status, and ethnicity. Behavioural performance and regional brain activation during a phonological verbal fluency task were assessed.
Relative to healthy control twins, both patients and their non-psychotic co-twins produced fewer correct responses and showed less activation in the medial temporal region and inferior frontal gyrus. Twins with schizophrenia showed greater activation than both their non-psychotic co-twins and controls in right lateral temporal cortex, reflecting reduced deactivation during word generation while their non-psychotic co-twins showed greater activation in the left temporal cortex.
Both genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia and schizophrenia were associated with impaired verbal fluency performance, reduced engagement of the medial temporal region and dorsal inferior frontal gyrus. Schizophrenia was specifically associated with an additional reduction in deactivation in the right temporal cortex.
Alterations in gray matter volume (GMV) are a robust feature of schizophrenia. However, it is not clear to what extent these abnormalities are correlates of the genetic liability to the disorder, as opposed to environmental factors and the disorder itself.
We investigated the influence of genetic risk and illness on GMV in monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs concordant and discordant for schizophrenia.
Total and regional GMVs were measured from magnetic resonance images of 80 twins: 14 MZ pairs concordant for schizophrenia, 9 pairs discordant for schizophrenia, and 17 healthy MZ twin pairs. The three groups were matched for age, gender, handedness, level of education, parental socioeconomic status, and ethnicity.
Total GMV was smaller in twins with schizophrenia (t=-3.17, p= 0.003) and non-psychotic co-twins from discordant pairs (t=-2.66, p= 0.011) than in healthy control twins. Twin pairs concordant for schizophrenia displayed reduced regional GMV in the inferior frontal, medial frontal, and anterior cingulate gyri, the caudate, lingual gyrus and cerebellum relative to healthy twins (p< 0.05, corrected). Within discordant pairs, twins with schizophrenia had less GMV than their non-psychotic co-twins in the insula, superior/medial frontal, pre/postcentral, cingulate and superior temporal gyri, and the paracentral lobule. There were no significant differences in regional GMV between non-psychotic co-twins and healthy controls.
The presence of schizophrenia was specifically related to reduced GMV in frontal, insular, cingulate, medial parietal and temporal cortex, over and above effects of genetic risk for the disorder.
Recent studies have identified DAAO as a probable susceptibility gene for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, little is known about how this gene may affect brain function to increase vulnerability to these disorders.
The present investigation examined the impact of DAAO genotype on brain function in patients with schizophrenia, patients with bipolar I disorder and healthy volunteers.
We tested the hypotheses that the high-risk variant of DAAO would be associated with altered prefrontal function and functional connectivity in schizophrenic and bipolar patients.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain responses during a verbal fluency task in a total of 121 subjects comprising 40 patients with schizophrenia, 33 patients with bipolar I disorder and 48 healthy volunteers. We then used statistical parametric mapping (SPM) and psycho-physiological interaction (PPI) analyses to estimate the main effects of diagnostic group, the main effect of genotype and their interaction on brain activation and functional connectivity.
In schizophrenic patients relative to bipolar patients and controls, the high-risk variant of DAAO was associated with lower deactivation in the left precuneus and greater activation in the right calcarine and posterior cingulate gyrus during task performance. In addiction, these areas expressed altered functional connectivity with the rest of the brain in schizophrenic patients relative to bipolar patients and controls.
Our results suggest that genetic variation in DAAO has a significant impact on brain function and provide preliminary evidence for a disease-specific pattern of gene action in specific brain regions.
It has long been known that cannabis can elicit an acute psychotic reaction. Recent work shows that, of the 60 cannabinoid molecules in the plant, delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol is responsible for the central effects of cannabis. Here we aimed to investigate, in more detail, the psychological effects of synthetic intravenous THC in healthy subjects. Over 2 experimental sessions, participants (N=22) were administered 2.5mg IV THC or placebo under randomised, double-blind conditions. Psychological reactions were assessed using standard rating instruments and a battery of cognitive tests was completed.
Following THC, there was a significant increase in self-rated and observer-rated positive psychotic symptoms which were highly correlated (r=0.62, p=0.001).Phenomena centered on de-synchronisation of self-agency (ipseity disturbance) and hypersalience/paranoia. Participants also reported a significant increase in negative symptomatology under THC conditions, which was not explained by sedation. Finally, working memory/executive functioning was markedly and consistently impaired by THC.
Here we provide further evidence that THC can elicit an acute psychotic reaction in a proportion of healthy subjects. Acute THC-psychosis elicits positive, negative and cognitive symptoms. Compared with other drug models THC recreates symptomatology across 3 major dimensions of schizophrenic psychosis without sedation/clouding of consciousness. Here we also present preliminary evidence that the molecule cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits THC-elicited positive symptoms. Current work in our laboratory is exploring the underlying mechanisms.