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Several hypotheses may explain the association between substance use, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. However, few studies have utilized a large multisite dataset to understand this complex relationship. Our study assessed the relationship between alcohol and cannabis use trajectories and PTSD and depression symptoms across 3 months in recently trauma-exposed civilians.
In total, 1618 (1037 female) participants provided self-report data on past 30-day alcohol and cannabis use and PTSD and depression symptoms during their emergency department (baseline) visit. We reassessed participant's substance use and clinical symptoms 2, 8, and 12 weeks posttrauma. Latent class mixture modeling determined alcohol and cannabis use trajectories in the sample. Changes in PTSD and depression symptoms were assessed across alcohol and cannabis use trajectories via a mixed-model repeated-measures analysis of variance.
Three trajectory classes (low, high, increasing use) provided the best model fit for alcohol and cannabis use. The low alcohol use class exhibited lower PTSD symptoms at baseline than the high use class; the low cannabis use class exhibited lower PTSD and depression symptoms at baseline than the high and increasing use classes; these symptoms greatly increased at week 8 and declined at week 12. Participants who already use alcohol and cannabis exhibited greater PTSD and depression symptoms at baseline that increased at week 8 with a decrease in symptoms at week 12.
Our findings suggest that alcohol and cannabis use trajectories are associated with the intensity of posttrauma psychopathology. These findings could potentially inform the timing of therapeutic strategies.
Psychological trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been associated with advanced epigenetic age. However, whether epigenetic aging measured at the time of trauma predicts the subsequent development of PTSD outcomes is unknown. Moreover, the neural substrates underlying posttraumatic outcomes associated with epigenetic aging are unclear.
We examined a multi-ancestry cohort of women and men (n = 289) who presented to the emergency department (ED) after trauma. Blood DNA was collected at ED presentation, and EPIC DNA methylation arrays were used to assess four widely used metrics of epigenetic aging (HorvathAge, HannumAge, PhenoAge, and GrimAge). PTSD symptoms were evaluated longitudinally at the time of ED presentation and over the ensuing 6 months. Structural and functional neuroimaging was performed 2 weeks after trauma.
After covariate adjustment and correction for multiple comparisons, advanced ED GrimAge predicted increased risk for 6-month probable PTSD diagnosis. Secondary analyses suggested that the prediction of PTSD by GrimAge was driven by worse trajectories for intrusive memories and nightmares. Advanced ED GrimAge was also associated with reduced volume of the whole amygdala and specific amygdala subregions, including the cortico-amygdaloid transition and the cortical and accessory basal nuclei.
Our findings shed new light on the relation between biological aging and trauma-related phenotypes, suggesting that GrimAge measured at the time of trauma predicts PTSD trajectories and is associated with relevant brain alterations. Furthering these findings has the potential to enhance early prevention and treatment of posttraumatic psychiatric sequelae.
Despite a high prevalence of problematic substance use among people living with HIV in South Africa, there remains limited access to substance use services within the HIV care system. To address this gap, our team previously developed and adapted a six-session, peer-delivered problem-solving and behavioral activation-based intervention (Khanya) to improve HIV medication adherence and reduce substance use in Cape Town. This study evaluated patient and provider perspectives on the intervention to inform implementation and future adaptation.
Following intervention completion, we conducted semi-structured individual interviews with patients (n = 23) and providers (n = 9) to understand perspectives on the feasibility, acceptability, and appropriateness of Khanya and its implementation by a peer. Patients also quantitatively ranked the usefulness of individual intervention components (problem solving for medication adherence ‘Life-Steps’, behavioral activation, mindfulness training, and relapse prevention) at post-treatment and six months follow-up, which we triangulated with qualitative feedback to examine convergence and divergence across methods.
Patients and providers reported high overall acceptability, feasibility, and appropriateness of Khanya, although there were several feasibility challenges. Mindfulness and Life-Steps were identified as particularly acceptable, feasible, and appropriate components by patients across methods, whereas relapse prevention strategies were less salient. Behavioral activation results were less consistent across methods.
Findings underscore the importance of examining patients’ perspectives on specific intervention components within intervention packages. While mindfulness training and peer delivery models were positively perceived by consumers, they are rarely used within task-shared behavioral interventions in low- and middle-income countries.
Early life adversity (ELA) has been linked with increased arousal responses to threat, including increased amygdala reactivity. Effects of ELA on brain function are well recognized, and emerging evidence suggests that caregivers may influence how environmental stressors impact children’s brain function. We investigated the hypothesis that positive interaction between mother and child can buffer against ELA effects on children’s neural responses to threat, and related symptoms. N = 53 mother–child pairs (children ages 8–14 years) were recruited from an urban population at high risk for violence exposure. Maternal caregiving was measured using the Parenting Questionnaire and in a cooperation challenge task. Children viewed fearful and neutral face stimuli during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Children who experienced greater violence at home showed amygdala sensitization, whereas children experiencing more school and community violence showed amygdala habituation. Sensitization was in turn linked with externalizing symptoms. However, maternal warmth was associated with a normalization of amygdala sensitization in children, and fewer externalizing behaviors prospectively up to 1 year later. Findings suggested that the effects of violence exposure on threat-related neural circuitry depend on trauma context (inside or outside the home) and that primary caregivers can increase resilience.
Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) allows for imaging, diffraction, and spectroscopy of materials on length scales ranging from microns to atoms. By using a high-speed, direct electron detector, it is now possible to record a full two-dimensional (2D) image of the diffracted electron beam at each probe position, typically a 2D grid of probe positions. These 4D-STEM datasets are rich in information, including signatures of the local structure, orientation, deformation, electromagnetic fields, and other sample-dependent properties. However, extracting this information requires complex analysis pipelines that include data wrangling, calibration, analysis, and visualization, all while maintaining robustness against imaging distortions and artifacts. In this paper, we present py4DSTEM, an analysis toolkit for measuring material properties from 4D-STEM datasets, written in the Python language and released with an open-source license. We describe the algorithmic steps for dataset calibration and various 4D-STEM property measurements in detail and present results from several experimental datasets. We also implement a simple and universal file format appropriate for electron microscopy data in py4DSTEM, which uses the open-source HDF5 standard. We hope this tool will benefit the research community and help improve the standards for data and computational methods in electron microscopy, and we invite the community to contribute to this ongoing project.
This is the first report on the association between trauma exposure and depression from the Advancing Understanding of RecOvery afteR traumA(AURORA) multisite longitudinal study of adverse post-traumatic neuropsychiatric sequelae (APNS) among participants seeking emergency department (ED) treatment in the aftermath of a traumatic life experience.
We focus on participants presenting at EDs after a motor vehicle collision (MVC), which characterizes most AURORA participants, and examine associations of participant socio-demographics and MVC characteristics with 8-week depression as mediated through peritraumatic symptoms and 2-week depression.
Eight-week depression prevalence was relatively high (27.8%) and associated with several MVC characteristics (being passenger v. driver; injuries to other people). Peritraumatic distress was associated with 2-week but not 8-week depression. Most of these associations held when controlling for peritraumatic symptoms and, to a lesser degree, depressive symptoms at 2-weeks post-trauma.
These observations, coupled with substantial variation in the relative strength of the mediating pathways across predictors, raises the possibility of diverse and potentially complex underlying biological and psychological processes that remain to be elucidated in more in-depth analyses of the rich and evolving AURORA database to find new targets for intervention and new tools for risk-based stratification following trauma exposure.
The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program is a Consortium of nearly 60 academic medical research centers across the USA and a natural network for evaluating the spread and uptake of translational research innovation across the Consortium.
Dissemination of the Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) Network, a federated clinical informatics data network for population-based cohort discovery, began January 2018 across the Consortium. Diffusion of innovation theory guided dissemination design and evaluation. Mixed-methods assessed the spread and uptake across the Consortium through July 1, 2019 (n = 48 CTSAs). Methods included prospective time activity tracking (Kaplan–Meier curves), and survey and qualitative interviews.
Within 18 months, nearly 80% of CTSAs had joined the data network and two-thirds of CTSAs achieving technical readiness had initiated launch to local clinical investigators. Over 10,000 ACT Network queries are projected for 2019; and by 2020, nearly all CTSAs will have joined the network. Median time-from-technical-readiness-to-local-launch was 154 days (interquartile range: 87–225 days]. Quality improvement processes reduced time-to-launch by 35.2% (64 days, p = 0.0036). Lessons learned include: (1) conceptualize dissemination as two-stage adoption demonstrating value for both CTSA hub service providers and clinical investigators; (2) include institutional trial into dissemination strategies so CTSA hubs can refine internal workflows and gather local user feedback endorsement; (3) embrace designing-for-dissemination during technology development; and (4) sustain adaptive dissemination and customer relationship management to keep CTSA hubs and users engaged.
Scale-up and spread of the ACT Network provides lessons learned for others disseminating innovation across the CTSA Consortium. The Network is primed for embedded implementation research.
In clinical and translational research, data science is often and fortuitously integrated with data collection. This contrasts to the typical position of data scientists in other settings, where they are isolated from data collectors. Because of this, effective use of data science techniques to resolve translational questions requires innovation in the organization and management of these data.
We propose an operational framework that respects this important difference in how research teams are organized. To maximize the accuracy and speed of the clinical and translational data science enterprise under this framework, we define a set of eight best practices for data management.
In our own work at the University of Rochester, we have strived to utilize these practices in a customized version of the open source LabKey platform for integrated data management and collaboration. We have applied this platform to cohorts that longitudinally track multidomain data from over 3000 subjects.
We argue that this has made analytical datasets more readily available and lowered the bar to interdisciplinary collaboration, enabling a team-based data science that is unique to the clinical and translational setting.
The Empire of Aksum was one of Africa's most influential ancient civilisations. Traditionally, most archaeological fieldwork has focused on the capital city of Aksum, but recent research at the site of Beta Samati has investigated a contemporaneous trade and religious centre located between Aksum and the Red Sea. The authors outline the discovery of the site and present important finds from the initial excavations, including an early basilica, inscriptions and a gold intaglio ring. From daily life and ritual praxis to international trade, this work illuminates the role of Beta Samati as an administrative centre and its significance within the wider Aksumite world.
The deep subsurface of other planetary bodies is of special interest for robotic and human exploration. The subsurface provides access to planetary interior processes, thus yielding insights into planetary formation and evolution. On Mars, the subsurface might harbour the most habitable conditions. In the context of human exploration, the subsurface can provide refugia for habitation from extreme surface conditions. We describe the fifth Mine Analogue Research (MINAR 5) programme at 1 km depth in the Boulby Mine, UK in collaboration with Spaceward Bound NASA and the Kalam Centre, India, to test instruments and methods for the robotic and human exploration of deep environments on the Moon and Mars. The geological context in Permian evaporites provides an analogue to evaporitic materials on other planetary bodies such as Mars. A wide range of sample acquisition instruments (NASA drills, Small Planetary Impulse Tool (SPLIT) robotic hammer, universal sampling bags), analytical instruments (Raman spectroscopy, Close-Up Imager, Minion DNA sequencing technology, methane stable isotope analysis, biomolecule and metabolic life detection instruments) and environmental monitoring equipment (passive air particle sampler, particle detectors and environmental monitoring equipment) was deployed in an integrated campaign. Investigations included studying the geochemical signatures of chloride and sulphate evaporitic minerals, testing methods for life detection and planetary protection around human-tended operations, and investigations on the radiation environment of the deep subsurface. The MINAR analogue activity occurs in an active mine, showing how the development of space exploration technology can be used to contribute to addressing immediate Earth-based challenges. During the campaign, in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA), MINAR was used for astronaut familiarization with future exploration tools and techniques. The campaign was used to develop primary and secondary school and primary to secondary transition curriculum materials on-site during the campaign which was focused on a classroom extra vehicular activity simulation.
Recently, a laboratory-scale method for measuring the rapid energy release from milligram quantities of energetic material has been developed based on the high-temperature plasma chemistry induced by a focused, nanosecond laser pulse. The ensuing exothermic chemical reactions result in an increase in the laser-induced shock wave velocity compared to inert materials. Laser-induced air shock from energetic materials (LASEM) provides a method for estimating the detonation performance of novel organic-based energetic materials prior to scale-up and full detonation testing. Here, the extension of LASEM to non-organic energetic materials is discussed. The laser-induced shock velocities from reactive materials such as Al/PTFE, Al/CuO, Al/Zr alloys, Al/aluminum iodate hexahydrate, and porous silicon composites have been measured; in many cases, the high sensitivity of the samples resulted in propagation of the reaction to the surrounding material, producing significantly higher shock velocities than conventional energetic materials. Methods for compensating for this effect will be discussed. Despite this limitation, the relative comparison of the shock velocities, emission spectra, and combustion behavior of each type of material provides some insight into the mechanisms for increasing the energy release of the material on a fast (μs) and/or slow (ms) timescale.
Early career investigators have few opportunities for targeted training in supportive oncology research. To address this need, we developed, implemented, and evaluated an intensive, six-day workshop on methods in supportive oncology research for trainees and junior faculty across multiple disciplines.
A multidisciplinary team of supportive oncology researchers developed a workshop patterned after the clinical trials workshop offered jointly by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association of Cancer Research. The curriculum included lectures and a mentored experience of writing a research protocol. Each year since 2015, the workshop has accepted and trained 36 early career investigators. Over the course of the workshop, participants present sections of their research protocols daily in small groups led by senior researchers, and have dedicated time to write and revise these sections. Primary outcomes for the workshop included the frequency of completed protocols by the end of the workshop, a pre- and posttest assessing participant knowledge, and follow-up surveys of the participants and their primary mentors.
Over three years, the workshop received 195 applications; 109 early career researchers were competitively selected to participate. All participants (109/109, 100%) completed writing a protocol by the end of their workshop. Participants and their primary mentors reported significant improvements in their research knowledge and skills. Each year, participants rated the workshop highly in terms of satisfaction, value, and likelihood of recommending it to a colleague. One year after the first workshop, most respondents (29/30, 96.7%) had either submitted their protocol or written at least one other protocol.
Significance of results
We developed a workshop on research methods in supportive oncology. More early career investigators applied for the workshop than capacity, and the workshop was fully attended each year. Both the workshop participants and their primary mentors reported improvement in research skills and knowledge.
Ketamine has recently become an agent of interest as an acute treatment for severe depression and as the anaesthetic for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Subanaesthetic doses result in an acute reduction in depression severity while evidence is equivocal for this antidepressant effect with anaesthetic or adjuvant doses. Recent systematic reviews call for high-quality evidence from further randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
To establish if ketamine as the anaesthetic for ECT results in fewer ECT treatments, improvements in depression severity ratings and less memory impairment than the standard anaesthetic.
Double-blind, parallel-design, RCT of intravenous ketamine (up to 2 mg/kg) with an active comparator, intravenous propofol (up to 2.5 mg/kg), as the anaesthetic for ECT in patients receiving ECT for major depression on an informal basis. (Trial registration: European Clinical Trials Database (EudraCT): 2011-000396-14 and clinicalTrials.gov: NCT01306760.)
No significant differences were found on any outcome measure during, at the end of or 1 month following the ECT course.
Ketamine as an anaesthetic does not enhance the efficacy of ECT.
Poly[sulfur-random-1,3-diisopropenylbenzene (DIB)] copolymers synthesized via inverse vulcanization form electrochemically active polymers used as cathodes for high-energy density Li–S batteries, capable of enhanced capacity retention (1005 mAh/g at 100 cycles) and lifetimes of over 500 cycles. In this prospective, we demonstrate how analytical electron microscopy can be employed as a powerful tool to explore the origins of the enhanced capacity retention. We analyze morphological and compositional features when the copolymers, with DIB contents up to 50% by mass, are blended with carbon nanoparticles. Replacing the elemental sulfur with the copolymers improves the compatibility and interfacial contact between active sulfur compounds and conductive carbons. There also appears to be improvements of the cathode mechanical stability that leads to less cracking but preserving porosity. This compatibilization scheme through stabilized organosulfur copolymers represents an alternative strategy to the nanoscale encapsulation schemes which are often used to improve the cycle life in high-energy density Li–S batteries.
A cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) programme designed for
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in people with severe mental
illness, including breathing retraining, education and cognitive
restructuring, was shown to be more effective than usual services.
To evaluate the incremental benefit of adding cognitive restructuring to
the breathing retraining and education components of the CBT programme
(trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00494650).
In all, 201 people with severe mental illness and PTSD were randomised to
12- to 16-session CBT or a 3-session brief treatment programme (breathing
retraining and education). The primary outcome was PTSD symptom severity.
Secondary outcomes were PTSD diagnosis, other symptoms, functioning and
quality of life.
There was greater improvement in PTSD symptoms and functioning in the CBT
group than in the brief treatment group, with both groups improving on
other outcomes and effects maintained 1-year post-treatment.
Cognitive restructuring has a significant impact beyond breathing
retraining and education in the CBT programme, reducing PTSD symptoms and
improving functioning in people with severe mental illness.