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Background: The Comprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services (COMPASS) Study is one of the first large pragmatic randomized-controlled clinical trials using comparative effectiveness research methods, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. In the COMPASS Study, we compare the effectiveness of a patient-centered, transitional care intervention versus usual care for stroke patients discharged home from acute care. Outcomes include stroke patient post-discharge functional status and caregiver strain 90 days after discharge, and hospital readmissions. A central tenet of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-funded research is stakeholder engagement throughout the research process. However, evidence on how to successfully implement a pragmatic trial that changes systems of care in combination with robust stakeholder engagement is limited. This combination is not without challenges. Methods: We present our approach for broad-based stakeholder engagement in the context of a pragmatic trial with the participation of patients, caregivers, community stakeholders, including the North Carolina Stroke Care Collaborative hospital network, and policy makers. To maximize stakeholder engagement throughout the COMPASS Study, we employed a conceptual model with the following components: (1) Patient and Other Stakeholder Identification and Selection; (2) Patient and Other Stakeholder Involvement Across the Spectrum of Research Activities; (3) Dedicated Resources for Patient and Other Stakeholder Involvement; (4) Support for Patient and Other Stakeholder Engagement Through Organizational Processes; (5) Communication with Patients and Other Stakeholders; (6) Transparent Involvement Processes; (7) Tracking of Engagement; and (8) Evaluation of Engagement. Conclusion: In this paper, we describe how each component of the model is being implemented and how this approach addresses existing gaps in the literature on strategies for engaging stakeholders in meaningful and useful ways when conducting pragmatic trials.
Feather pecking is a serious economic and welfare problem in laying hens. Feather damage occurs mainly through severe feather pecking (SFP). Selection experiments have proved that this behavior is heritable and lines have been divergently selected for high (HFP) and low feather pecking (LFP). The number of bouts of SFP per hen follows a Poisson distribution with a maximum nearby 0. A few studies indicate that the distribution within flocks is not homogenous but contains sub-groups of birds showing extremely high levels of feather pecking (EFP). It was the aim of the current study to re-analyze data on SFP of lines selected for HFP/LFP and their F2 cross so as to uncover hidden sub-populations of EFP birds. Data of seven selection generations of HFP and LFP selection lines as well as their F2 cross have been used. We fitted a two-component mixture of Poisson distributions in order to separate the sub-group of EFP from the remaining birds. HFP and LFP lines differed mainly in mean bouts per bird. The proportion of EFP was only marginal in the LFP as compared with the HFP and the F2 population. Selection for LFP did not result in total elimination of EFP. The presence of even small proportions of EFP may play an important role in initiating outbreaks of feather pecking in large flocks. Further studies on feather pecking should pay special attention to the occurrence of EFP sub-groups.
Time of seedling emergence is an important step in the life cycle of annual plants because it may determine subsequent performance and success. Timing of emergence is especially critical to plant performance in habitats like arable fields which are subject to frequent disturbances. Within-season variation in timing of germination in the range of only a few days is typical for many arable weeds. However, since it is unclear whether such small deviations in germination date translate into fitness differences in the course of the life cycle, the aim of this paper was to quantify the effects of short germination delays on plant performance. We conducted two generalized randomized block experiments in an unheated greenhouse to study the impact of delayed germination (1, 2, 3 and 7 d) with and without competition, respectively, on the fitness of the arable weed species Agrostemma githago (L.). We expected that delayed germination significantly reduces fitness in terms of several life-history traits, and that the decrease of fitness is higher in the presence of competition. Under realistic conditions with competition through barley, Agrostemma plants with delayed germination of 7 d produced 54% fewer shoots, 57% less biomass, 52% fewer flowers, 36% lighter seeds and were 23% shorter as compared to control plants without delayed germination. Without additional stress through competition with barley this pattern was less pronounced. Thus, in the situation of interspecific competition, early emerging seedlings have biologically significant fitness advantages over later emerging seedlings of the same species.
In cats, the incidence of obesity and diabetes is increasing, and little is known about specific aspects of the endocrine control of food intake in this species. Recent data suggest that ghrelin has an important role in the control of insulin secretion and vice versa, but this role has never been demonstrated in cats. Here we aimed to improve our understanding about the relationship between insulin, amylin and ghrelin secretion in response to a nutrient load in overweight cats. After a 16 h fast, weekly, six overweight male cats underwent randomly one of the four testing sessions: saline, glucose, arginine and TAG. All solutions were isoenergetic and isovolumic, and were injected intravenously as a bolus. Glucose, insulin, acylated ghrelin (AG), amylin and prolactin were assayed in plasma before and 10, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 min after the nutrient load. A linear mixed-effects model was used to assess the effect of bolus and time on the parameters. A parenteral bolus of glucose or arginine increased insulin and ghrelin concentrations in cats. Except for with the TAG bolus, no suppression of ghrelin was observed. The absence of AG suppression after the intravenous load of arginine and glucose may suggest: (1) that some nutrients do not promote satiation in overweight cats; or that (2) AG may be involved in non-homeostatic consumption mechanisms. However, the role of ghrelin in food reward remains to be assessed in cats.
Floodplain meadow ecosystems are characterized by high water level fluctuations and highly variable soil water potentials. Additionally, climate change scenarios indicate an increasing risk for summer drought along the northern Upper Rhine and the Middle Elbe River, Germany. While adult plants often persist even after strong changes in water availability, early life phases, such as seed germination and seedling establishment, might be more vulnerable. Therefore we tested whether reduced soil water potentials will affect the germination of meadow species and whether the response varies between (1) forbs indicative of wet and dry habitats and (2) seeds originating from sites along the rivers Elbe and Rhine. We exposed seeds of 20 floodplain meadow species with different moisture requirements from five plant families to a water potential gradient ranging from 0 to − 1.5 MPa. While across species germination percentage and synchrony decreased, germination time increased at reduced water potentials. Germination of the species indicative of dry habitats decreased more strongly, was slower and less synchronous at reduced water potentials than that of species indicative of wet habitats. Seeds from sites along the rivers Elbe and Rhine did not differ in their germination characteristics. We propose that species of wet sites follow an all-or-nothing-strategy with fast and synchronous germination to maximize competitive advantages, betting on a high probability of moist conditions for establishment (optimists). In contrast, species from dry sites appear to follow a bet-hedging strategy with a moisture-sensing mechanism for unsuitable conditions (pessimists), resulting in a slower and less synchronous germination.
Previous work has shown that hunger and food intake are lower in individuals on high-protein (HP) diets when combined with low carbohydrate (LC) intakes rather than with moderate carbohydrate (MC) intakes and where a more ketogenic state occurs. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the difference between HPLC and HPMC diets was associated with changes in glucose and ketone body metabolism, particularly within key areas of the brain involved in appetite control. A total of twelve men, mean BMI 34·9 kg/m2, took part in a randomised cross-over trial, with two 4-week periods when isoenergetic fixed-intake diets (8·3 MJ/d) were given, with 30 % of the energy being given as protein and either (1) a very LC (22 g/d; HPLC) or (2) a MC (182 g/d; HPMC) intake. An 18fluoro-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography scan of the brain was conducted at the end of each dietary intervention period, following an overnight fast (n 4) or 4 h after consumption of a test meal (n 8). On the next day, whole-body ketone and glucose metabolism was quantified using [1,2,3,4-13C]acetoacetate, [2,4-13C]3-hydroxybutyrate and [6,6-2H2]glucose. The composite hunger score was 14 % lower (P= 0·013) for the HPLC dietary intervention than for the HPMC diet. Whole-body ketone flux was approximately 4-fold greater for the HPLC dietary intervention than for the HPMC diet (P< 0·001). The 9-fold difference in carbohydrate intakes between the HPLC and HPMC dietary interventions led to a 5 % lower supply of glucose to the brain. Despite this, the uptake of glucose by the fifty-four regions of the brain analysed remained similar for the two dietary interventions. In conclusion, differences in the composite hunger score observed for the two dietary interventions are not associated with the use of alternative fuels by the brain.
Metabolomics, the global characterisation of the small molecule complement involved in metabolism, has evolved into a powerful suite of approaches for understanding the global physiological and pathological processes occurring in biological organisms. The diversity of metabolites, the wide range of metabolic pathways and their divergent biological contexts require a range of methodological strategies and techniques. Methodologies for Metabolomics provides a comprehensive description of the newest methodological approaches in metabolomic research. The most important technologies used to identify and quantify metabolites, including nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry, are highlighted. The integration of these techniques with classical biological methods is also addressed. Furthermore, the book presents statistical and chemometric methods for evaluation of the resultant data. The broad spectrum of topics includes a vast variety of organisms, samples and diseases, ranging from in vivo metabolomics in humans and animals to in vitro analysis of tissue samples, cultured cells and biofluids.
Avalanche hazard evaluation relies in part on representative snowpack stability observations. Thus, understanding the spatial patterns of snowpack instabilities and their environmental determinants is crucial. This case study integrates intensive field observations with spatial modeling to identify associations between incoming radiation, surface hoar development and its subsequent shear strength across an inclined forest opening. We examined a buried surface hoar layer in southwest Montana, USA, over five sampling days, collecting 824 SnowMicroPen resistance profiles and performing 352 shear frame tests. Spatial models of incoming long- and shortwave radiation were generated for the surface hoar formation period using modeled hemispheric sky visibility, physically based parameters and the Bird Clear Sky Radiation Model in a Geographic Information System. Before burial, the surface hoar persisted despite moderate winds and relatively high air temperatures. The buried surface hoar layer thickness varied between 3 and 21 mm within a distance of 30 m. Modeled incoming radiation explained spatial variations in layer thickness and shear strength. In areas exposed to large amounts of radiation, the surface hoar layer was strong and thin, while areas with limited incoming radiation (due to high sky visibility and shading) possessed a thicker surface hoar layer that sheared more easily. This demonstrates the usefulness of microclimate modeling for slope-scale avalanche hazard evaluation. We also identify that over the 3 week sample period, strengthening occurred without thinning of the surface hoar layer.
The dynamics of many plant populations essentially depend upon seed and seedling stages, and a persistent seed bank may give species an opportunity to disperse through time. Seed burial is a decisive prelude to persistence and may strongly influence seed-bank dynamics. The fate of buried seeds depends on species-specific traits, environmental conditions and possibly also burial mode. We tested seed germination, seedling emergence and growth of the co-occurring herbaceous flood-meadow species Arabis nemorensis, Galium wirtgenii, Inula salicina, Sanguisorba officinalis and Selinum carvifolia in response to the experimental manipulation of burial depth (0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 cm) and substrate type (sand, clay). Increasing burial depth led to decreased germination, emergence and growth in all species studied, and seedling growth differed significantly between substrate types. The responses of species differed on an individual basis, but also showed a higher-ranking pattern based on seed size. Larger-seeded species were able to emerge from greater depths and experienced less depth-mediated growth inhibition than smaller-seeded species, which, in turn, had higher survival rates during burial and were less likely to experience fatal germination. Based on these results, we suggest that herbaceous flood-meadow species have developed two different seed-size based strategies for coping with the extreme recruitment conditions prevailing in flood meadows, the balance of which seems to be maintained by disturbance events.
Pseudorabies virus (PrV) infections appear to be more widely distributed in the European wild boar (Sus scrofa) population than assumed. In Europe, attempts to isolate and characterize the causative agents have been limited so far. We therefore collected and examined a total of 35 PrV isolates obtained from wild boar or hunting dogs in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Slovakia and Hungary between 1993 and 2008. Restriction enzyme analysis of genomic DNA using BamHI showed that all isolates, except one, belonged to genogroup I but different subtypes were evident. For further investigations of the phylogenetic relationships, a 732-bp fragment of the glycoprotein C (gC) gene was amplified by PCR. Sequence analysis revealed about 40 variant positions within this fragment. Comparison of the nucleotide sequences supported the separation into a clade containing isolates from North-Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), France and Spain (clade B) and an apparently more variable clade comprising isolates from Brandenburg, Baden-Wurttemberg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt (Germany), Slovakia, Hungary, Italy and France (clade A).