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Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a psychiatric disorder with complex etiology, with a significant portion of disease risk imparted by genetics. Traditional genome-wide association studies (GWAS) produce principal evidence for the association of genetic variants with disease. Transcriptomic imputation (TI) allows for the translation of those variants into regulatory mechanisms, which can then be used to assess the functional outcome of genetically regulated gene expression (GReX) in a broader setting through the use of phenome-wide association studies (pheWASs) in large and diverse clinical biobank populations with electronic health record phenotypes.
Here, we applied TI using S-PrediXcan to translate the most recent PGC-ED AN GWAS findings into AN-GReX. For significant genes, we imputed AN-GReX in the Mount Sinai BioMe™ Biobank and performed pheWASs on over 2000 outcomes to test the clinical consequences of aberrant expression of these genes. We performed a secondary analysis to assess the impact of body mass index (BMI) and sex on AN-GReX clinical associations.
Our S-PrediXcan analysis identified 53 genes associated with AN, including what is, to our knowledge, the first-genetic association of AN with the major histocompatibility complex. AN-GReX was associated with autoimmune, metabolic, and gastrointestinal diagnoses in our biobank cohort, as well as measures of cholesterol, medications, substance use, and pain. Additionally, our analyses showed moderation of AN-GReX associations with measures of cholesterol and substance use by BMI, and moderation of AN-GReX associations with celiac disease by sex.
Our BMI-stratified results provide potential avenues of functional mechanism for AN-genes to investigate further.
There are numerous examples of translational science innovations addressing challenges in the translational process, accelerating progress along the translational spectrum, and generating solutions relevant to a wide range of human health needs. Examining these successes through an education lens can identify core principles and effective practices that lead to successful translational outcomes. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) is identifying and teaching these core principles and practices to a broad audience via online courses in translational science which teach from case studies of NCATS-led or supported research initiatives. In this paper, we share our approach to the design of these courses and offer a detailed description of our initial course, which focused on a preclinical drug discovery and development project spanning academic and government settings. Course participants were from a variety of career stages and institutions. Participants rated the course high in overall value to them and in providing a unique window into the translational science process. We share our model for course development as well as initial findings from the course evaluation with the goal of continuing to stimulate development of novel education activities teaching foundational principles in translational science to a broad audience.
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is a popular and simple-to-administer screening instrument to detect cognitive impairment. The MoCA generates a total score and six domain-specific index scores: (1) Memory, (2) Executive Functioning, (3) Attention, (4) Language, (5) Visuospatial, and (6) Orientation. It is unclear whether these MoCA scores can differentiate between distinct clinical dementia syndromes. This study compared MoCA Index scores between amnestic dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT) and primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a language-based dementia.
Baseline MoCA data were analyzed from 33 DAT, 37 PPA, and 83 cognitively normal individuals enrolled in the Clinical Core of the Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center. A one-way analysis of covariance adjusted for age was used to compare MoCA scores among groups. A logistic regression model was implemented to observe individual likelihood of group affiliation based on MoCA Index scores.
The mean MoCA total score was significantly higher in controls compared to both patient groups (p < .001) but did not differ between DAT and PPA groups. However, in accordance with salient clinical features commonly observed in DAT versus PPA, Memory and Orientation Index scores were lowest in the DAT group (p < .001), whereas Language and Attention Index scores were lowest in the PPA group (p < .001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that the individual effects of Memory (p = .001), Language (p = .002), and Orientation (p = .025) Indices were significant.
MoCA Index scores can help differentiate among distinct cognitive syndromes, suggesting it may be a useful brief screening tool to detect domain-specific cognitive impairment.
BMI z (BMIz) score based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts is widely used, but it is inaccurate above the 97th percentile. We explored the performance of alternative metrics based on the absolute distance or % distance of a child’s BMI from the median BMI for sex and age. We used longitudinal data from 5628 children who were first examined <12 years to compare the tracking of three BMI metrics: distance from median, % distance from median and % distance from median on a log scale. We also explored the effects of adjusting these metrics for age differences in the distribution of BMI. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to compare tracking of the metrics. Metrics based on % distance (whether on the original or log scale) yielded higher ICCs compared with distance from median. The ICCs of the age-adjusted metrics were higher than that of the unadjusted metrics, particularly among children who were (1) overweight or had obesity, (2) younger and (3) followed for >3 years. The ICCs of the age-adjusted metrics were also higher compared with that of BMIz among children who were overweight or obese. Unlike BMIz, these alternative metrics do not have an upper limit and can be used for assessing BMI in all children, even those with very high BMIs. The age-adjusted % from median (on a log or linear scale) works well for all ages, while unadjusted % from median is better limited to older children or short follow-up periods.
In order to understand the structure property relationships for inorganic low dielectric constant (i.e. low-k) materials, transmission Fourier Transform-Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy has been utilized to study the local bonding structure in various plasma enhanced chemically vapor deposited low-k materials in the SiOxCy:H phase diagram. The FTIR measurements were combined with additional mechanical, electrical, and optical property measurements to elucidate the structure property relationships for these materials. The combined measurements show that increased incorporation of terminal methyl bonding results in a decrease in network bonding that manifests itself in a reduction in mass density, dielectric constant, refractive index, Young’s modulus and many other important material properties.
The mechanical properties of two viscoelastic thin films were measured, a polyimide and a low-k polymer dielectric. The static modulus and hardness were obtained from nanoindentation experiments using an elastic-plastic unloading model (J. Mater. Res., 13, 421 (1998)). Nanoindentation creep tests were also performed, where a value for the modulus was extracted by fitting the data to an equation based on the three-element standard linear solid model. Aside from being comparable to values reported in the literature, the moduli from creep experiments are at most 1.3 times lower than the static moduli. This decrement can be attributed to the differences in strain rate for the two methods and the effect of adhesive forces.
We characterized the electronic states and microstructure of high-growth-rate a-Si:H films by employing photoluminescence (PL) and Raman spectroscopies. The growth rate was from 50 to 115 Å/s compared to the standard rate of less than 10 Å/s. For the high-growth-rate a-Si:H films, we observed typical a-Si:H features in Raman but new features in PL. The new PL features are: a) the PL peak energy is as low as ∼1.15 eV compared to the standard ∼1.4 eV at 80 K; and b) the total intensity is more than one order of magnitude higher then the standard. We suggest that the nano-scale microstructure may be responsible for the anomalous PL features.
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