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This paper reviews the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) literature on the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the developing human brain.
A literature search was conducted through the following databases: PubMed, PsycINFO and Google Scholar. Combinations of the following search terms and keywords were used to identify relevant studies: ‘alcohol’, ‘fetal alcohol spectrum disorders’, ‘fetal alcohol syndrome’, ‘FAS’, ‘FASD’, ‘MRI’, ‘DTI’, ‘MRS’, ‘neuroimaging’, ‘children’ and ‘infants’.
A total of 64 relevant articles were identified across all modalities. Overall, studies reported smaller total brain volume as well as smaller volume of both the white and grey matter in specific cortical regions. The most consistently reported structural MRI findings were alterations in the shape and volume of the corpus callosum, as well as smaller volume in the basal ganglia and hippocampi. The most consistent finding from diffusion tensor imaging studies was lower fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies are few to date, but showed altered neurometabolic profiles in the frontal and parietal cortex, thalamus and dentate nuclei. Resting-state functional MRI studies reported reduced functional connectivity between cortical and deep grey matter structures.
There is a critical gap in the literature of MRI studies in alcohol-exposed children under 5 years of age across all MRI modalities. The dynamic nature of brain maturation and appreciation of the effects of alcohol exposure on the developing trajectory of the structural and functional network argue for the prioritisation of studies that include a longitudinal approach to understanding this spectrum of effects and potential therapeutic time points.
We undertook a non-targeted lipidomics analysis of post-mortem cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), frontal cortex grey matter, and subjacent white matter to define potential biomarkers that distinguish cognitively intact subjects from those with incipient or established dementia. Our objective was to increase our understanding of the role of brain lipids in pathophysiology of aging and age-related cognitive impairment.
Levels of 650 individual lipids, across 26 lipid subclasses, were measured utilising a high-resolution mass spectrometric analysis platform.
Monoacylglycerols (MAG), diacylglycerols (DAG), and the very-long-chain fatty acid 26:0 were elevated in the grey matter of the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and old dementia (OD) cohorts. Ethanolamine plasmalogens (PlsEtn) were decreased in the grey matter of the young dementia (YD) and OD cohorts while and phosphatidylethanolamines (PtdEth) were lower in the MCI, YD and OD cohorts. In the white matter, decrements in sulphatide levels were detected in the YD group, DAG levels were elevated in the MCI group, and MAG levels were increased in the YD and OD groups.
The parallel changes in grey matter MAGs and DAGs in the MCI and OD groups suggest that these two cohorts may have a similar underlying pathophysiology; consistent with this, MCI subjects were more similar in age to OD than to YD subjects. While PlsEtn and phosphatidylethanolamine were decreased in the YD and OD groups they were unaltered in the MCI group indicating that alterations in plasmalogen synthesis are unlikely to represent an initiating event in the transition from MCI to dementia.
This study investigated the ability of the Audio Recorded Cognitive Screen (ARCS) to detect cognitive deficit in individuals with schizophrenia, relative to the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), and explored the associations between the ARCS and functional outcomes. We hypothesised that the ARCS would be able to better discriminate between individuals with schizophrenia and healthy controls than the MMSE, and that ARCS performance would be correlated with measures of social and vocational functioning.
The participants were 19 community-dwelling individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 19 healthy controls recruited from the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB). Participants completed the ARCS, MMSE, and self-report measures of social and vocational functioning. Clinical and diagnostic data stored by the ASRB were also utilised.
The schizophrenia group performed worse than the control group on the ARCS, with memory, t(36)=2.49, p=0.02, 95% CI [−1.84, −18.79] and fluency, t(36)=2.40, p=0.02, 95% CI [−1.87, −22.24] domains being the main discriminating measures. The RBANS also discriminated between the two groups, and ARCS and RBANS total scores were moderately to strongly correlated. There was no difference between the two groups on the MMSE after controlling for demographic variables. ARCS performance was associated with employment status [χ2(1)=7.16, p=0.007].
The ARCS may be sensitive to the cognitive deficits in outpatients with schizophrenia and an indicator of functional outcomes in this population.
Glutamatergic dysfunction in the brain has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Previous studies suggested that l-theanine affects the glutamatergic neurotransmission and ameliorates symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. The aims of the present study were twofold: to examine the possible effects of l-theanine on symptoms in chronic schizophrenia patients and to evaluate the changes in chemical mediators, including glutamate + glutamine (Glx), in the brain by using 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
The subjects were 17 patients with schizophrenia and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. l-Theanine (250 mg/day) was added to the patients’ ongoing antipsychotic treatment for 8 weeks. The outcome measures were the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores and MRS results.
There were significant improvements in the PANSS positive scale and sleep quality after the l-theanine treatment. As for MRS, we found no significant differences in Glx levels before and after the 8 week l-theanine treatment. However, significant correlations were observed between baseline density of Glx and change in Glx density by l-theanine.
Our results suggest that l-theanine is effective in ameliorating positive symptoms and sleep quality in schizophrenia. The MRS findings suggest that l-theanine stabilises the glutamatergic concentration in the brain, which is a possible mechanism underlying the therapeutic effect.
Prisoners categorised as ‘dangerous’ are a category of prisoners that require and/or force into using special measures of caution, protection and security. The aim of the study was to examine the intensity of anxiety (as a state and as a trait) experienced by officers working with ‘dangerous’ prisoners and styles of coping with stress they adopt.
A total of 40 officers working with ‘dangerous’ prisoners (the study group, SG) and 60 officers of the security department not working with ‘dangerous’ prisoners (the reference group, RG) were studied. The intensity of anxiety was assessed applying the Polish version of ‘State-Trait Anxiety Inventory’ (STAI); styles of coping with stress were explored employing the Polish version of ‘Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations’ (CISS) and the author’s own questionnaire. Data were analysed using the mean, standard deviation, difference testing (the Mann–Whitney U test), correlation–regression procedure (Kendall’s tau, τ correlation coefficient and forward stepwise multiple regression).
Officers in the SG faced verbal and physical aggression; nevertheless, scores of officers in both the groups were within the interval of mean scores for all the studied STAI and CISS variables. Officers in the SG achieved significantly higher scores on the state-anxiety scale and the Emotion-Oriented Style (EOS), and lower scores on the Task-Oriented Style (TOS) and Social Diversion (SD). The correlation-regression procedure indicated that there were relationships between anxiety and styles of coping with stress but they differed slightly between the groups.
Officers in the SG feel state anxiety stronger and display a stronger preference for the EOS than officers in the RG. Officers in the RG more strongly prefer the TOS and SD. State anxiety is a variable negatively explaining the TOS in the SG, whereas anxiety as a trait is a variable explaining the EOS in both the groups. The coping styles of warders dealing with dangerous prisoners are different and may need specific psychological counselling and training programmes.
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with anxiety in humans, and rodent studies have demonstrated the gut microbiota to impact behaviour.
We investigated the impact of 6 weeks of dietary magnesium deficiency on gut microbiota composition and anxiety-like behaviour and whether there was a link between the two. A total of 20 C57BL/6 mice, fed either a standard diet or a magnesium-deficient diet for 6 weeks, were tested using the light-dark box anxiety test. Gut microbiota composition was analysed by denaturation gradient gel electrophoresis.
We demonstrated that the gut microbiota composition correlated significantly with the behaviour of dietary unchallenged mice. A magnesium-deficient diet altered the gut microbiota, and was associated with altered anxiety-like behaviour, measured by decreased latency to enter the light box.
Magnesium deficiency altered behavior. The duration of magnesium deficiency is suggested to influence behaviour in the evaluated test.
Accumulating evidences suggest that pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) play a role in the pathophysiology of depression. In the learned helplessness (LH) paradigm, ~35% rats are resilient to inescapable stress.
Levels of IL-6 in the serum and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of LH rats (susceptible) and non-LH rats (resilience) were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and western blot analysis, respectively.
Serum levels of IL-6 in the LH rats were significantly higher than those of control and non-LH rats. In contrast, tissue levels of IL-6 in the mPFC were not different among three groups.
The results suggest that peripheral IL-6 may contribute to resilience versus susceptibility to inescapable stress.