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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.
This study aimed to investigate associations among spirituality, coping strategies, quality of life (QOL), and the effects of depression and anxiety thereon in cancer patients.
In total, 237 cancer patients referred to a psycho-oncology clinic at a university hospital in Korea were enrolled. After identifying predictors of patient QOL in a stepwise regression model, we developed a hypothetical path model wherein interpersonal coping was considered as a mediating variable between spirituality (meaning/peace) and QOL and wherein depression and anxiety affected each of these three variables.
The direct effect of spirituality (meaning/peace) on QOL was 36.7%. In an indirect model, interpersonal coping significantly mediated the relationship between spirituality (meaning/peace) and QOL. Depression exerted the largest negative effect on spirituality (meaning/peace), interpersonal coping, and QOL. Anxiety had negative effects on spirituality (meaning/peace) and QOL, but a positive effect on interpersonal coping.
Significance of results
Interpersonal coping strategies work as a partial mediator of the relationship between meaning/peace subscales of spirituality and QOL. Effective management of depression may help in achieving better outcomes associated therewith. Greater attention and efforts to improve social connectedness and meaning of life in spiritual well-being may improve the QOL of cancer patients.
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.
Depressive symptoms are common in bereaved caregivers; however, there have been few prospective studies using a structured interview. This study investigated the prevalence and preloss predictors of major depressive disorder (MDD) in bereaved caregivers of patients in a palliative care unit.
This prospective cohort study collected caregiver sociodemographic and psychological data before the death of a palliative care unit patient, including MDD, care-burden, coping style, and hopeful attitude. Postloss MDD was assessed 6 and 13 months after death, and a multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to identify its predictors.
Of 305 caregivers contacted, 92 participated in this study. The prevalence of preloss MDD was 21.8%; the prevalences of postloss MDD were 34.8% and 24.7% at 6 and 13 months, respectively. Preloss MDD predicted postloss MDD at 6 months (odds ratio [OR] = 5.38, 95% confidence interval [CI95%] = 1.29, 22.43); preloss nonhopeful attitude and unemployment status of caregivers predicted postloss MDD at 13 months (OR = 8.77, CI95% = 1.87, 41.13 and OR = 7.10, CI95% = 1.28, 39.36, respectively).
Significance of results
Approximately 35% of caregivers suffered from MDD at 6 months postloss, but the prevalence of MDD decreased to about 25% at 13 months. Preloss MDD significantly predicted postloss MDD at 6 months, whereas hopeful attitude and unemployment at baseline were significantly associated with postloss MDD at 13 months.
We investigate the geomagnetic field variations recorded by INTERMAGNET geomagnetic observatories. We confirm that the effect of solar eclipse can be seen over an interval of 180 minutes centered at the time of maximum eclipse on a site of a geomagnetic observatory. It is found that the effect of the solar eclipse on the geomagnetic field becomes conspicuous as the magnitude of a solar eclipse becomes larger. The effect of solar eclipses is more evident in the second half of the path of Moon’s shadow. We also find that the effect can be overwhelmed, more sensitively by geomagnetic disturbances than by solar activity of solar cycle.
Tyrosinase provides an essential activity during egg production in diverse platyhelminths by mediating sclerotization of eggshells. In this study, we investigated the genomic and evolutionary features of tyrosinases in parasitic platyhelminths whose genomic information is available. A pair of paralogous tyrosinases was detected in most trematodes, whereas they were lost in cyclophyllidean cestodes. A pseudophyllidean cestode displaying egg biology similar to that of trematodes possessed an orthologous gene. Interestingly, one of the paralogous tyrosinases appeared to have been multiplied into three copies in Clonorchis sinensis and Opisthorchis viverrini. In addition, a fifth tyrosinase gene that was minimally transcribed through all developmental stages was further detected in these opisthorchiid genomes. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that the tyrosinase gene has undergone duplication at least three times in platyhelminths. The additional opisthorchiid gene arose from the first duplication. A paralogous copy generated from these gene duplications, except for the last one, seemed to be lost in the major neodermatans lineages. In C. sinensis, tyrosinase gene expressions were initiated following sexual maturation and the levels were significantly enhanced by the presence of O2 and bile. Taken together, our data suggest that tyrosinase has evolved lineage-specifically across platyhelminths related to its copy number and induction mechanism.
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.
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.
Background: Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on clinics who subsequently turn out to have normal dopamine transporter images have been referred to as scans without evidence of dopaminergic deficits (SWEDDs) patients. Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction has frequently been reported in PD. In this study, we determined the similarities and differences in cardiac autonomic dysfunction between SWEDDs and PD patients. This study investigated whether 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (24-hour ABPM) can help identify possible cases with SWEDDs. Methods: We enrolled 28 SWEDDs patients, 46 patients with PD, and 30 healthy controls. To evaluate cardiac autonomic function, 24-hour ABPM was performed on all subjects. Cardiac metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy was performed on the SWEDDs and PD subjects. Results: The percentage nocturnal decline in blood pressure differed significantly among SWEDDs patients, PD patients, and controls (p<0.05). In addition to the abnormal nocturnal BP, regulation (nondipping and reverse dipping) was significantly higher in SWEDDs and PD subjects than in the control subjects (p<0.05). There was no significant correlation between the % nocturnal blood pressure reduction and parameters of cardiac MIBG uptake ratio. However, orthostatic hypotension was significant correlated with the nocturnal blood pressure dip (%), nocturnal blood pressure patterns, and the cardiac MIBG uptake ratio (early and late) in combined SWEDDs and PD subjects. Conclusions: Pathologic nocturnal blood pressure regulation and nocturnal hypertension, known characteristics of PD, are also present in SWEDDs. Moreover, cardiac sympathetic denervation should not be attributed to cardiac autonomic dysfunction in SWEDDs patients. As with PD patients, the SWEDDs patients studied here tended to have cardiac autonomic dysfunction.
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.
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
Several factors associated with referral time to hospice and/or palliative care services have been identified, but there is no literature on the association between these services and the emotional status of the family caregivers (FCs). This article is intended to address that issue.
A semistructured interview was employed to collect data for a retrospective cohort study. The primary FCs of terminally ill cancer patients were interviewed at the time of the patient's referral to the palliative care unit. Interview data were combined with patients' medical record data for our analysis. The emotional status of the FCs was categorized into one of three groups according to their responses to the anticipated death of their family member: acceptance, anxious/depressed, and denial/angry. A Cox proportional hazard model was used to examine and identify the factors related to the length of stay (LOS) in the palliative care unit.
A total of 198 patient–FC pairs were identified. The median LOS was 18 days. A multivariate analysis with adjustment for potential variables revealed significant differences in LOS according to cancer type and time since cancer diagnosis. The denial/angry FC category was independently associated with a shorter LOS (vs. acceptance, adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 2.11; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–4.03).
Significance of Results:
We found that terminally ill cancer patients who were referred late had FCs who were in denial or were angry about the anticipated death of their loved one. The emotional status of FCs should be considered when patients with terminal cancer are referred to palliative care.
Despite recent reports regarding the biology of cytosine methylation in Schistosoma mansoni, the impact of the regulatory machinery remains unclear in diverse platyhelminthes. This ambiguity is reinforced by discoveries of DNA methyltransferase 2 (DNMT2)-only organisms and the substrate specificity of DNMT2 preferential to RNA molecules. Here, we characterized a novel DNA methyltransferase, named CsDNMT2, in a liver fluke Clonorchis sinensis. The protein exhibited structural properties conserved in other members of the DNMT2 family. The native and recombinant CsDNMT2 exhibited considerable enzymatic activity on DNA. The spatiotemporal expression of CsDNMT2 mirrored that of 5-methylcytosine (5 mC), both of which were elevated in the C. sinensis eggs. However, CsDNMT2 and 5 mC were marginally detected in other histological regions of C. sinensis adults including ovaries and seminal receptacle. The methylation site seemed not related to genomic loci occupied by progenies of an active long-terminal-repeat retrotransposon. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that C. sinensis has preserved the functional DNA methylation machinery and that DNMT2 acts as a genuine alternative to DNMT1/DNMT3 to methylate DNA in the DNMT2-only organism. The epigenetic regulation would target functional genes primarily involved in the formation and/or maturation of eggs, rather than retrotransposons.