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Only a limited number of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) respond to a first course of antidepressant medication (ADM). We investigated the feasibility of creating a baseline model to determine which of these would be among patients beginning ADM treatment in the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
A 2018–2020 national sample of n = 660 VHA patients receiving ADM treatment for MDD completed an extensive baseline self-report assessment near the beginning of treatment and a 3-month self-report follow-up assessment. Using baseline self-report data along with administrative and geospatial data, an ensemble machine learning method was used to develop a model for 3-month treatment response defined by the Quick Inventory of Depression Symptomatology Self-Report and a modified Sheehan Disability Scale. The model was developed in a 70% training sample and tested in the remaining 30% test sample.
In total, 35.7% of patients responded to treatment. The prediction model had an area under the ROC curve (s.e.) of 0.66 (0.04) in the test sample. A strong gradient in probability (s.e.) of treatment response was found across three subsamples of the test sample using training sample thresholds for high [45.6% (5.5)], intermediate [34.5% (7.6)], and low [11.1% (4.9)] probabilities of response. Baseline symptom severity, comorbidity, treatment characteristics (expectations, history, and aspects of current treatment), and protective/resilience factors were the most important predictors.
Although these results are promising, parallel models to predict response to alternative treatments based on data collected before initiating treatment would be needed for such models to help guide treatment selection.
Fewer than half of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) respond to psychotherapy. Pre-emptively informing patients of their likelihood of responding could be useful as part of a patient-centered treatment decision-support plan.
This prospective observational study examined a national sample of 807 patients beginning psychotherapy for MDD at the Veterans Health Administration. Patients completed a self-report survey at baseline and 3-months follow-up (data collected 2018–2020). We developed a machine learning (ML) model to predict psychotherapy response at 3 months using baseline survey, administrative, and geospatial variables in a 70% training sample. Model performance was then evaluated in the 30% test sample.
32.0% of patients responded to treatment after 3 months. The best ML model had an AUC (SE) of 0.652 (0.038) in the test sample. Among the one-third of patients ranked by the model as most likely to respond, 50.0% in the test sample responded to psychotherapy. In comparison, among the remaining two-thirds of patients, <25% responded to psychotherapy. The model selected 43 predictors, of which nearly all were self-report variables.
Patients with MDD could pre-emptively be informed of their likelihood of responding to psychotherapy using a prediction tool based on self-report data. This tool could meaningfully help patients and providers in shared decision-making, although parallel information about the likelihood of responding to alternative treatments would be needed to inform decision-making across multiple treatments.
Introduced species can have strong ecological, social and economic effects on their non-native environment. Introductions of megafaunal species are rare and may contribute to rewilding efforts, but they may also have pronounced socio-ecological effects because of their scale of influence. A recent introduction of the hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius into Colombia is a novel introduction of a megaherbivore onto a new continent, and raises questions about the future dynamics of the socio-ecological system into which it has been introduced. Here we synthesize current knowledge about the Colombian hippopotamus population, review the literature on the species to predict potential ecological and socio-economic effects of this introduction, and make recommendations for future study. Hippopotamuses can have high population growth rates (7–11%) and, on the current trajectory, we predict there could be 400–800 individuals in Colombia by 2050. The hippopotamus is an ecosystem engineer that can have profound effects on terrestrial and aquatic environments and could therefore affect the native biodiversity of the Magdalena River basin. Hippopotamuses are also aggressive and may pose a threat to the many inhabitants of the region who rely upon the Magdalena River for their livelihoods, although the species could provide economic benefits through tourism. Further research is needed to quantify the current and future size and distribution of this hippopotamus population and to predict the likely ecological, social and economic effects. This knowledge must be balanced with consideration of social and cultural concerns to develop appropriate management strategies for this novel introduction.
Silvery threadmoss naturally reproduces through spore and bulbil production, both of which have potential to be controlled prior to establishment. Studies have not evaluated effects of turf protection products on moss protonema or gametophyte growth from spores or bulbils; consequently, most moss is controlled POST on putting greens. Initial studies were performed to determine the optimal growth temperature for spores and bulbils in sterile culture. Protonemata from spores grew optimally at 29.5 C and gametophytes from bulbils grew optimally at 22.5 C. Three subsequent in vitro studies were conducted to evaluate effects of turf protection products on moss development from spores or bulbils in axenic culture at a constant 24 C. Carfentrazone, which effectively controls mature silvery threadmoss gametophytes POST, also reduced green cover of moss protonemata and gametophyte production from spores and bulbils. All combinations with carfentrazone reduced area under the progress curve (AUPC) for green cover of moss for both spores and bulbils by 80% or more by 3 wk after treatment. Sulfentrazone, oxyfluorfen, oxadiazon, saflufenacil, flumioxazin, and pyraflufen-ethyl reduced AUPC of moss equivalent to carfentrazone for both propagule types. The two fosetyl-Al products, phosphite, and mineral oil caused an increase in silvery threadmoss cover between 22 and 113% of the nontreated for spores; however, only methiozolin positively influenced AUPC (90.2%) compared to the nontreated for bulbils. Though silvery threadmoss is typically targeted POST on putting greens, there are products that can provide PRE control, including the industry standard of carfentrazone. These data suggest that differences may occur between turf protection products in their ability to suppress silvery threadmoss establishment from spores or bulbils.
Decision-making is an essential component of executive function, and a critical skill of political leadership. Neuroanatomic localization studies have established the prefrontal cortex as the critical brain site for executive function. In addition to the prefrontal cortex, white matter tracts as well as subcortical brain structures are crucial for optimal executive function. Executive function shows a significant decline beginning at age 60, and this is associated with age-related atrophy of prefrontal cortex, cerebral white matter disease, and cerebral microbleeds. Notably, age-related decline in executive function appears to be a relatively selective cognitive deterioration, generally sparing language and memory function. While an individual may appear to be functioning normally with regard to relatively obvious cognitive functions such as language and memory, that same individual may lack the capacity to integrate these cognitive functions to achieve normal decision-making. From a historical perspective, global decline in cognitive function of political leaders has been alternatively described as a catastrophic event, a slowly progressive deterioration, or a relatively episodic phenomenon. Selective loss of executive function in political leaders is less appreciated, but increased utilization of highly sensitive brain imaging techniques will likely bring greater appreciation to this phenomenon. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was an example of a political leader with a well-described neurodegenerative condition (cerebral amyloid angiopathy) that creates a neuropathological substrate for executive dysfunction. Based on the known neuroanatomical and neuropathological changes that occur with aging, we should probably assume that a significant proportion of political leaders over the age of 65 have impairment of executive function.
While severity of manic episodes can be successfully reduced, repeated recurrences are common with ~40% of patients meeting criteria for rapid cycling after aggressive treatment. Manic episodes present much earlier in children of bipolars and due to unique presentation physicians often mistakenly diagnose such children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Differential symptoms include suicidal thoughts, grandiosity, hallucinations, and depressive withdrawal. Such children may require the usual combination treatment with a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic, with the addition of a stimulant as well. Treatment of adults and children often includes second-generation antipsychotics, which have increasingly shown efficacy both as monotherapy and adjunctive treatments of acute mania. Most recently, some anticonvulsants have demonstrated acute antimanic properties as well and more studies of their role in bipolar disorder are underway.
Approximately 40% of bipolar patients experience rapid cycling, and half of these suffer from ultra-rapid or ultradian cycling. These patterns are also common in children. Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder is difficult to bring to remission and often requires treatment with four or more classes of psychotropic medications. Lithium, even in combination with anticonvulsants or antidepressants, is often associated with residual episodic depressions. Concerns with adjunctive antidepressant treatment include their low response and remission rates and their tendency to cause switch into mania. Atypical antipsychotics and selected agents within the anticonvulsant class are becoming increasingly important in the treatment of rapid cycling. In the absence of clear treatment guidelines, the use and sequencing of drugs in complex combination treatment remains exploratory, but should be individualized based on careful prospective mood charting by the patient. Use of several drugs below their side-effect thresholds may prevent certain side effects. In children, long-term safety considerations are particularly important in the absence of a strong controlled clinical trials database.
The relative incidence of childhood-onset bipolar illness in the USA compared with that in Europe is controversial. We examined this issue in more than 500 out-patients (average age 42 years) with bipolar illness who reported age at onset of first episode, family history, and childhood physical or sexual abuse. Childhood or adolescent onset of bipolar illness was reported by 61% of those in the US cohort but by only 30% of those in The Netherlands or Germany. In the USA there was also twice the incidence of childhood adversity and genetic/familial risk for affective disorder. The findings deserve replication and further exploration.
Few biological theories of manic-depressive illness have focused on the longitudinal course of affective dysfunction and the mechanisms underlying its often recurrent and progressive course. The authors discuss two models for the development of progressive behavioural dysfunction—behavioural sensitisation and electrophysiological kindling—as they provide clues to important clinical and biological variables relevant to sensitisation in affective illness. The role of environmental context and conditioning in mediating behavioural and biochemical aspects of this sensitisation is emphasised. The sensitisation models provide a conceptual approach to previously inexplicable clinical phenomena in the longitudinal course of affective illness and may provide a bridge between psychoanalytic/psychosocial and neurobiological formulations of manic-depressive illness.
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