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Refugees commonly experience difficulties with emotional processing, such as alexithymia, due to stressful or traumatic experiences. However, the functional connectivity of the amygdala, which is central to emotional processing, has yet to be assessed in refugees. Thus, the present study investigated the resting-state functional connectivity of the amygdala and its association with emotional processing in North Korean (NK) refugees.
This study included 45 NK refugees and 40 native South Koreans (SK). All participants were administered the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Clinician-administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), and differences between NK refugees and native SK in terms of resting-state functional connectivity of the amygdala were assessed. Additionally, the association between the strength of amygdala connectivity and the TAS score was examined.
Resting-state connectivity values from the left amygdala to the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) were higher in NK refugees than in native SK. Additionally, the strength of connectivity between the left amygdala and right dlPFC was positively associated with TAS score after controlling for the number of traumatic experiences and BDI and CAPS scores.
The present study found that NK refugees exhibited heightened frontal–amygdala connectivity, and that this connectivity was correlated with alexithymia. The present results suggest that increased frontal–amygdala connectivity in refugees may represent frontal down-regulation of the amygdala, which in turn may produce alexithymia.
Residual stress is generally evaluated using indentation by comparing the indentation curves of stressed and stress-free states. Here, we suggest a new method that can evaluate surface residual stress without indentation testing on stress-free specimen using stress-independent indentation parameters and an analysis of indentation contact morphology for the stress-free state. We found that several indentation parameters are independent of the stress by Vickers indentation testing on various stress states. The indentation contact morphology can be represented by indentation parameters including stress-independent ones, and by applying the stress-independent parameters obtained from the stressed state to the indentation contact depth function, we can estimate an indentation curve for stress-free state. The estimated curve matches well with the experimental stress-free indentation curve, and it was also confirmed that the applied stress values evaluated by comparing the estimated curve with the stressed indentation curve agree well with the reference values obtained from strain gauge.
Firefighters are routinely exposed to various traumatic events and often experience a range of trauma-related symptoms. Although these repeated traumatic exposures rarely progress to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, firefighters are still considered to be a vulnerable population with regard to trauma.
To investigate how the human brain responds to or compensates for the repeated experience of traumatic stress.
We included 98 healthy firefighters with repeated traumatic experiences but without any diagnosis of mental illness and 98 non-firefighter healthy individuals without any history of trauma. Functional connectivity within the fear circuitry, which consists of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, insula, amygdala, hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), was examined using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Trauma-related symptoms were evaluated using the Impact of Event Scale – Revised.
The firefighter group had greater functional connectivity between the insula and several regions of the fear circuitry including the bilateral amygdalae, bilateral hippocampi and vmPFC as compared with healthy individuals. In the firefighter group, stronger insula–amygdala connectivity was associated with greater severity of trauma-related symptoms (β = 0.36, P = 0.005), whereas higher insula–vmPFC connectivity was related to milder symptoms in response to repeated trauma (β = −0.28, P = 0.01).
The current findings suggest an active involvement of insular functional connectivity in response to repeated traumatic stress. Functional connectivity of the insula in relation to the amygdala and vmPFC may be potential pathways that underlie the risk for and resilience to repeated traumatic stress, respectively.
Clonorchis sinensis (C. sinensis), a trematode parasite that invades the hypoxic hepatobiliary tract of vertebrate hosts requires a considerable amount of oxygen for its sexual reproduction and energy metabolism. However, little is known regarding the molecular mechanism of C. sinensis involved in the adaptation to the hypoxic environments. In this study, we investigated the molecular structures and induction patterns of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and other basic helix–loop–helix and Per–Arnt–Sim (bHLH–PAS) domain-containing proteins such as HIF-1β, single-minded protein and aryl hydrocarbon receptor, which might prompt adaptive response to hypoxia, in C. sinensis. These proteins possessed various bHLH–PAS family-specific domains. Expression of C. sinensis HIF-1α (CsHIF-1α) was highly induced in worms which were either exposed to a hypoxic condition or co-incubated with human cholangiocytes. In addition to oxygen, nitric oxide and nitrite affected the CsHIF-1α expression depending on the surrounding oxygen concentration. Treatment using a prolyl hydroxylase-domain protein inhibitor under 20%-oxygen condition resulted in an increase in the CsHIF-1α level. Conversely, the other bHLH–PAS genes were less responsive to these exogenous stimuli. We suggest that nitrite and nitric oxide, as well as oxygen, coordinately involve in the regulation of HIF-1α expression to adapt to the hypoxic host environments in C. sinensis.
Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a rare complication of Kawasaki disease and appears in <0.1% of Kawasaki disease patients. We report a case of refractory Kawasaki disease complicated with disseminated intravascular coagulation and giant coronary aneurysm. A 5-month-old boy presented with Kawasaki disease with coagulopathy. Although the coagulopathy improved after fresh-frozen plasma and antithrombin-III administration, the fever persisted despite two rounds of intravenous immunoglobulin, along with intravenous methylprednisolone pulse therapy and infliximab administration. Despite all efforts to treatment, the patient had giant coronary aneurysms and died suddenly.
Our objective was to evaluate long-term altered appearance, distress, and body image in posttreatment breast cancer patients and compare them with those of patients undergoing active treatment and with general population controls.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey between May and December of 2010. We studied 138 breast cancer patients undergoing active treatment and 128 posttreatment patients from 23 Korean hospitals and 315 age- and area-matched subjects drawn from the general population. Breast, hair, and skin changes, distress, and body image were assessed using visual analogue scales and the EORTC BR–23. Average levels of distress were compared across groups, and linear regression was utilized to identify the factors associated with body image.
Compared to active-treatment patients, posttreatment patients reported similar breast changes (6.6 vs. 6.2), hair loss (7.7 vs. 6.7), and skin changes (5.8 vs. 5.4), and both groups had significantly more severe changes than those of the general population controls (p < 0.01). For a similar level of altered appearance, however, breast cancer patients experienced significantly higher levels of distress than the general population. In multivariate analysis, patients with high altered appearance distress reported significantly poorer body image (–20.7, CI95% = –28.3 to –13.1) than patients with low distress.
Significance of results:
Posttreatment breast cancer patients experienced similar levels of altered appearance, distress, and body-image disturbance relative to patients undergoing active treatment but significantly higher distress and poorer body image than members of the general population. Healthcare professionals should acknowledge the possible long-term effects of altered appearance among breast cancer survivors and help them to manage the associated distress and psychological consequences.
Personality may predispose family caregivers to experience caregiving differently in similar situations and influence the outcomes of caregiving. A limited body of research has examined the role of some personality traits for health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) in relation to burden and depression.
Data from a large clinic-based national study in South Korea, the Caregivers of Alzheimer's Disease Research (CARE), were analyzed (N = 476). Path analysis was performed to explore the association between family caregivers’ personality traits and HRQoL. With depression and burden as mediating factors, direct and indirect associations between five personality traits and HRQoL of family caregivers were examined.
Results demonstrated the mediating role of caregiver burden and depression in linking two personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) and HRQoL. Neuroticism and extraversion directly and indirectly influenced the mental HRQoL of caregivers. Neuroticism and extraversion only indirectly influenced their physical HRQoL. Neuroticism increased the caregiver's depression, whereas extraversion decreased it. Neuroticism only was mediated by burden to influence depression and mental and physical HRQoL.
Personality traits can influence caregiving outcomes and be viewed as an individual resource of the caregiver. A family caregiver's personality characteristics need to be assessed for tailoring support programs to get the optimal benefits from caregiver interventions.
Existing literature suggests that mental health literacy is positively associated with mental health services utilization. Despite an aging population that faces significant mental health concerns in Korea, the role of mental health literacy on mental health services utilization is not known among older adults in Korea. This study aimed to (1) identify whether mental health literacy mediates the association between population characteristics and mental health services utilization and (2) identify an optimal path model for mental health services utilization among Korean older adults.
Using a cross-sectional survey with a quota sampling strategy, we collected and analyzed responses from 596 community-dwelling individuals ages 65 years and older. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to estimate the effect of mental health literacy as a mediator.
When controlling for other relevant covariates in the optimal path model, mental health literacy mediated the relationships between three socio-demographic factors (education, general literacy, and health status) and mental health services utilization. The model fit index shows that the SEM fits very well (CFI = 0.92, NFI = 0.90, RMSEA = 0.07).
Efforts to improve mental health literacy through community-based education programs may need to particularly target Korean older adults with the relevant socio-demographic characteristics to enhance their utilization of appropriate mental health services.
Among domesticated traits, pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) caused by the early breakage of dormancy leads to severe economic losses. Therefore, regulating PHS is important for cereal crop improvement against changes in climate. In this study, we surveyed naturally occurring variations in seed germination in diverse rice germplasm for the available resources of this trait, and investigated the changes of abscisic acid (ABA) levels during grain development by the distinguished PHS-resistant groups. We discovered wide variations in germination among the 205 rice accessions examined and found that 90 accessions are resistant (germination <20%) to PHS. Tropical and subtropical accessions, which are subjected to long wet periods, are more resistant to PHS than the other accessions. We detected an increase in germination of detached seeds from the panicle compared with intact seeds in panicle at harvesting time. This might be attributed to a weakening of the mechanical barrier that prevents water imbibition and radical emergence. ABA levels were maximal at 10 d after flowering and decreased thereafter. Interestingly, PHS-susceptible accessions maintained higher or similar ABA levels compared with PHS-resistant accessions, suggesting that the key factors for seed dormancy and its breakage are ABA perception and signal transduction rather than total ABA content. The diversity of germination ability detected in this study could be sustainably used for crop improvement and to help unveil the genetic and physiological basis of this quantitative trait.
To examine the hypothesis that the association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms is dependent upon total cholesterol level in a representative national sample of the South Korean population.
This was a population-based cross-sectional study.
The Fifth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V, 2010–2012).
We included 7198 adults aged 20–88 years.
The incidence of depressive symptoms in individuals with vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D<20 ng/ml) was 1·54-fold (95 % CI 1·20, 1·98) greater than in individuals without vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D ≥20 ng/ml). The relationship was stronger in individuals with normal-to-borderline serum total cholesterol (serum total cholesterol<240 mg/dl; OR=1·60; 95 % CI 1·23, 2·08) and non-significant in individuals with high serum total cholesterol (OR=0·97; 95 % CI 0·52, 1·81) after adjustment for confounding variables (age, sex, BMI, alcohol consumption, smoking status, regular exercise, income level, education level, marital status, changes in body weight, perceived body shape, season of examination date and cholesterol profiles).
The association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms was weakened by high serum total cholesterol status. These findings suggest that both vitamin D and total cholesterol are important targets for the prevention and treatment of depression.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are common dietary exposures that cross the human placenta and are classified as a probable human carcinogen. The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential impact of exposure to PAH-containing meat consumed during pregnancy on birth outcomes.
Prospective birth cohort study. Only non-smoking women with singleton pregnancies, who were free from chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension, were included in the study. Maternal consumption of PAH-rich meat was estimated through FFQ. Multiple linear regression was used to assess factors related to higher intake and the association between dietary PAH and birth outcomes.
Republic of Korea, 2006–2011.
Pregnant women (n 778) at 12–28 weeks of gestation enrolled in the Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) study.
The multivariable regression model showed a significant reduction in birth weight associated with higher consumption level of foods rich in PAH, such as grilled or roasted meat, during pregnancy (β=−17·48 g, P<0·05 for every 1 point higher in meat score). Further adjusting for biomarkers of airborne PAH did not alter this association. There was no evidence that higher consumption level of PAH-rich meat shortens the duration of gestation (P=0·561). Regression models performed for birth length and head circumference produced negative effects that were not statistically significant.
Consumption of higher levels of barbecued, fried, roasted and smoked meats during pregnancy was associated with reduced birth weight. Dietary risk of PAH exposure in Korean women is of concern.
The occurrence of a relapse during abstinence is an important issue that must be addressed during treatment for drug addiction. We investigated the influence of drug exposure pattern on morphine-seeking behaviour following withdrawal. We also studied the role of the hippocampus in this process to confirm its involvement in drug relapse.
Male Sprague–Dawley rats that were trained to self-administer morphine (1.0 mg/kg) using 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 h daily sessions underwent withdrawal in their home cages and were re-exposed to the operant chamber to evaluate morphine-seeking behaviour. During the relapse session, rats were intravenously injected with morphine (0.25 mg/kg) or saline before re-exposure to the chamber. In the second experiment, rats were administered a microinjection of saline or cobalt chloride (CoCl2, 1 mM), a synaptic blocker, into the CA1 of the hippocampus prior to the relapse test.
In the first experiment, more morphine-seeking behaviour was observed in the 2 h group (animals trained to self-administer morphine during a 2 h daily session spread over 21 days) during the relapse session, despite all groups being exposed to similar amounts of morphine during the training period before withdrawal. In the second experiment, pretreatment with CoCl2 markedly reduced morphine-seeking behaviour in the 2 h group.
The present findings suggest that the exposure pattern influences the degree of relapse and that control of memorisation is important for prevention of relapse.
FFQ comprising food items, intake frequency categories and portion sizes have been used in large-scale observational studies to assess long-term dietary exposure. Although gender is an important influence on food choice and portion size, gender differences are not often analysed during FFQ development. This study investigated whether gender differences were considered sufficiently when developing FFQ, which affects the results of validation studies. A PubMed search using combinations of ‘FFQ’, ‘Food Frequency Questionnaire’, ‘Validation’ and ‘Validity’ identified 246 validation studies available in English, published between January 1983 and May 2014, which included healthy male and female adults. The development process of the 196 FFQ used in the 246 validation studies was examined. Of these, twenty-one FFQ (10·7 %) considered gender during item selection or portion size determination, and were therefore classified as gender specific (GS), but 175 (89·3 %) did not consider gender, and were classified as ‘not gender specific (NGS)’. When the ratios between intake levels obtained using the FFQ and a reference method for energy and seven nutrients were compared between the GS group and the NGS group, more significant differences were observed in women than in men (four v. one nutrient). Intake of three nutrients was significantly underestimated in both sexes in the GS group. In the NGS group, nutrient intakes were significantly overestimated more often in women than in men (four v. one). These results indicate that not considering gender in FFQ development causes greater inaccuracy in dietary intake assessment in women than in men. Results of nutritional epidemiological studies should be re-evaluated for their validity, especially if the studies used NGS-FFQ.
To examine the association of food insufficiency with dietary intake and eating and health behaviours.
A cross-sectional study.
Data were obtained from a secondary source, the Fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2010–2012).
The sample size consisted of 15 603 adults over 19 years of age (8898 households).
Significant differences in socio-economic factors were observed according to food insufficiency level (P<0·05), but BMI was similar among groups. Regarding macronutrients, lower protein intake and higher carbohydrate intake were found in the severely food-insufficient group, but we found no association with fat intake. Regarding micronutrients, Ca, Fe, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin niacin and vitamin C intakes were negatively associated with food insufficiency level (Ptrend<0·05). Consumption of different food groups, such as meat, fish, eggs and beans, vegetables and fruits, was significantly lower as food insufficiency level decreased after controlling for all possible variables; food group consumption also differed by sex. Overall eating and health behaviours were poorer in the mildly and severely food-insufficient groups, who received more food assistance but less nutritional education.
Our results showed that dietary intake as well as eating and health behaviours are adversely associated with food insufficiency. These findings suggest that specific strategies to help food-insufficient individuals should be developed in order to improve their dietary quality and health status.
Many transgenic domestic animals have been developed to produce therapeutic proteins in the mammary gland, and this approach is one of the most important methods for agricultural and biomedical applications. However, expression and secretion of a protein varies because transgenes are integrated at random sites in the genome. In addition, distal enhancers are very important for transcriptional gene regulation and tissue-specific gene expression. Development of a vector system regulated accurately in the genome is needed to improve production of therapeutic proteins. The objective of this study was to develop a knock-in system for expression of human fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) in the bovine β-casein gene locus. The F2A sequence was fused to the human FGF2 gene and inserted into exon 3 of the β-casein gene. We detected expression of human FGF2 mRNA in the HC11 mouse mammary epithelial cells by RT-PCR and human FGF2 protein in the culture media using western blot analysis when the knock-in vector was introduced. We transfected the knock-in vector into bovine ear fibroblasts and produced knock-in fibroblasts using the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system. Moreover, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was more efficient than conventional methods. In addition, we produced knock-in blastocysts by somatic cell nuclear transfer using the knock-in fibroblasts. Our knock-in fibroblasts may help to create cloned embryos for development of transgenic dairy cattle expressing human FGF2 protein in the mammary gland via the expression system of the bovine β-casein gene.
During the past decade, carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) has emerged and spread across the world.1 The major carbapenemase enzymes currently being reported are KPC, NDM-1, VIM, IMP, and OXA.2 Because carbapenemase can be effectively transmitted via mobile genetic elements, and current therapeutic options for CPE infections are extremely limited, CPE may be one of the most serious contemporary threats to public health. However, very little is known about the characteristics of CPE carriage during hospitalization. The aims of this study were to investigate the clearance rate of CPE carriage and determine the number of consecutive negative cultures required to confirm CPE clearance. We also examined CPE transmission among hospitalized patients.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;36(11):1361–1362
Decreased hemoglobin levels increase the risk of developing dementia among the elderly. However, the underlying mechanisms that link decreased hemoglobin levels to incident dementia still remain unclear, possibly due to the fact that few studies have reported on the relationship between low hemoglobin levels and neuroimaging markers. We, therefore, investigated the relationships between decreased hemoglobin levels, cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD), and cortical atrophy in cognitively healthy women and men.
Cognitively normal women (n = 1,022) and men (n = 1,018) who underwent medical check-ups and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were enrolled at a health promotion center. We measured hemoglobin levels, white matter hyperintensities (WMH) scales, lacunes, and microbleeds. Cortical thickness was automatically measured using surface based methods. Multivariate regression analyses were performed after controlling for possible confounders.
Decreased hemoglobin levels were not associated with the presence of WMH, lacunes, or microbleeds in women and men. Among women, decreased hemoglobin levels were associated with decreased cortical thickness in the frontal (Estimates, 95% confidence interval, −0.007, (−0.013, −0.001)), temporal (−0.010, (−0.018, −0.002)), parietal (−0.009, (−0.015, −0.003)), and occipital regions (−0.011, (−0.019, −0.003)). Among men, however, no associations were observed between hemoglobin levels and cortical thickness.
Our findings suggested that decreased hemoglobin levels affected cortical atrophy, but not increased CSVD, among women, although the association is modest. Given the paucity of modifiable risk factors for age-related cognitive decline, our results have important public health implications.
The present study was performed to investigate whether breast-feeding is associated with early pubertal development among children 7–9 years old in Korea.
Children were divided into those who did and did not receive breast-feeding for 6 months or longer in accordance with the recommendations of the WHO. Pubertal status was determined by clinical examination using Tanner staging.
Prospective observational study.
We conducted a follow-up study of children aged 7–9 years in 2011 who had taken part in the Ewha Birth & Growth Cohort study.
Fifty (22·8 %) of the total of 219 children were in early puberty, with the proportion being slightly higher for girls (24·1 %) than boys (21·4 %). Children who had entered early puberty were taller, weighed more and had a higher concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1. Moreover, the change in weight Z-score from birth to follow-up was significantly lower in children who were breast-fed than in those who were not (weight Z-score change: 0·32 (sd 1·59) v. 0·77 (sd 1·61), respectively, P=0·04). Comparison of breast-feeding by puberty status indicated a preventive association with early puberty in children who were breast-fed for 6 months or longer (OR=0·37; 95 % CI 0·18, 0·74). This association remained significant after adjustment for relevant covariates.
These results demonstrate a beneficial association between breast-feeding and early pubertal development, especially in those breast-fed for 6 months or longer. The study suggests that interventions would need to start early in life to prevent early pubertal development.
To determine the influence of early pain relief for patients with suspected appendicitis on the diagnostic performance of surgical residents.
A prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted for patients with suspected appendicitis. The patients were randomized to receive placebo (normal saline intravenous [IV]) infusions over 5 minutes or the study drug (morphine 5 mg IV). All of the clinical evaluations by surgical residents were performed 30 minutes after administration of the study drug or placebo. After obtaining the clinical probability of appendicitis, as determined by the surgical residents, abdominal computed tomography was performed. The primary objective was to compare the influence of IV morphine on the ability of surgical residents to diagnose appendicitis.
A total of 213 patients with suspected appendicitis were enrolled. Of these patients, 107 patients received morphine, and 106 patients received placebo saline. The negative appendectomy percentages in each group were similar (3.8% in the placebo group and 3.2% in the pain control group, p=0.62). The perforation rates in each group were also similar (18.9% in the placebo group and 14.3% in the pain control group, p=0.75). Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed that the overall diagnostic accuracy in each group was similar (the area under the curve of the placebo group and the pain control group was 0.63 v. 0.61, respectively, p=0.81).
Early pain control in patients with suspected appendicitis does not affect the diagnostic performance of surgical residents.
There is increasing evidence of a relationship between underweight or obesity and dementia risk. Several studies have investigated the relationship between body weight and brain atrophy, a pathological change preceding dementia, but their results are inconsistent. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and cortical atrophy among cognitively normal participants.
We recruited cognitively normal participants (n = 1,111) who underwent medical checkups and detailed neurologic screening, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the health screening visits between September 2008 and December 2011. The main outcome was cortical thickness measured using MRI. The number of subjects with five BMI groups in men/women was 9/9, 148/258, 185/128, 149/111, and 64/50 in underweight, normal, overweight, mild obesity, and moderate to severe obesity, respectively. Linear and non-linear relationships between BMI and cortical thickness were examined using multiple linear regression analysis and generalized additive models after adjustment for potential confounders.
Among men, underweight participants showed significant cortical thinning in the frontal and temporal regions compared to normal weight participants, while overweight and mildly obese participants had greater cortical thicknesses in the frontal region and the frontal, temporal, and occipital regions, respectively. However, cortical thickness in each brain region was not significantly different in normal weight and moderate to severe obesity groups. Among women, the association between BMI and cortical thickness was not statistically significant.
Our findings suggested that underweight might be an important risk factor for pathological changes in the brain, while overweight or mild obesity may be inversely associated with cortical atrophy in cognitively normal elderly males.