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The COVID-19 pandemic poses a major threat to mental health and is associated with an increased risk of suicide. An understanding of suicidal behaviours during the pandemic is necessary for establishing policies to prevent suicides in such social conditions.
We aimed to investigate vulnerable individuals and the characteristics of changes in suicidal behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients with suicide attempts who visited the emergency department from February 2019 to January 2021. We analysed the demographic and clinical characteristics, risk factors and rescue factors of patients, and compared the findings between the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods.
In total, 519 patients were included. During the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, 303 and 270 patients visited the emergency department after a suicide attempt, respectively. The proportion of suicide attempts by women (60.1% v. 69.3%, P = 0.035) and patients with a previous psychiatric illness (63.4% v. 72.9%, P = 0.006) increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, patients’ rescue scores during the pandemic were lower than those during the pre-pandemic period (12 (interquartile range: 11–13) v. 13 (interquartile range: 12–14), P < 0.001).
Women and people with previous psychiatric illnesses were more vulnerable to suicide attempts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide prevention policies, such as continuous monitoring and staying in touch with vulnerable individuals, are necessary to cope with suicide risk.
Iksookimia longicorpa and Cobitis hankugensis are two species of fish distributed only on the Korean Peninsula. They have a unique reproductive ecology that naturally hybridizes into three widely known unisexual types, maintaining populations of almost all females. In this study, the fine structure of the micropyles of I. longicorpa, C. hankugensis and their hybrids was analyzed to find out how egg–sperm interaction, a common interspecies isolation mechanism, is possible between heterogeneous species. Analysis of 30 eggs from five females of each species revealed that all had one funnel-shaped micropylar region and a manhole-shaped micropyle canal. With the exception of C. hankugensis, which had no spiral grooves or ridges, the rest had counterclockwise spiral grooves and ridges on the micropylar region. All five species, however, showed identical groove patterns for the micropyle canal. The egg size was the largest in HL (one from the C. hankugensis locus with one from the I. longicorpa locus) and the smallest in C. hankugensis. In the hybrids, the HL type had the largest egg and HHL (two from the C. hankugensis locus with one from the I. longicorpa locus) type the smallest. For the diameter of the micropylar region and micropyle canal, the diploid I. longicorpa, C. hankugensis and HL were smaller than those of the triploid. In addition, as the ratio of the canal diameter to the eggs was lower in I. longicorpa than in C. hankugensis, it was confirmed that I. longicorpa has a relatively small micropyle canal compared with C. hankugensis.
Litter-dwelling arthropods play an important role in maintaining forest ecosystem function. This study was designed to understand seasonal variations and diversity of litter-dwelling adult beetles, one of the most diverse groups of arthropods. Sampling was conducted in mixed-wood forests of South Korea between March and December 2019, covering all seasons, including winter. We used a sifting method and a Berlese funnel to collect arthropods living in leaf litter and soil. We collected a total of 5820 invertebrates representing six orders, of which 1422 were beetles representing 24 families and minimum 141 species. Beetle species richness was highest in spring and lowest in summer based on rarefaction and extrapolation. However, beetle abundance was lowest in spring, but abundance was similar among the other seasons. Beetle assemblage composition was correlated significantly with soil surface and atmospheric temperature. The assemblage composition differed among seasons, except between spring and winter, which overlapped slightly. The combined sifting–Berlese funnel method showed great advantages for investigating the diversity of overwintering arthropods. Continued study of the relationship between arthropods and the leaf-litter environment is essential to understand this microecosystem and will increase the chance of discovering new beetle species.
Functional impairment in daily activity is a cornerstone in distinguishing the clinical progression of dementia. Multiple indicators based on neuroimaging and neuropsychological instruments are used to assess the levels of impairment and disease severity; however, it remains unclear how multivariate patterns of predictors uniquely predict the functional ability and how the relative importance of various predictors differs.
In this study, 881 older adults with subjective cognitive complaints, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and dementia with Alzheimer’s type completed brain structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuropsychological assessment, and a survey of instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). We utilized the partial least square (PLS) method to identify latent components that are predictive of IADL.
The result showed distinct brain components (gray matter density of cerebellar, medial temporal, subcortical, limbic, and default network regions) and cognitive–behavioral components (general cognitive abilities, processing speed, and executive function, episodic memory, and neuropsychiatric symptoms) were predictive of IADL. Subsequent path analysis showed that the effect of brain structural components on IADL was largely mediated by cognitive and behavioral components. When comparing hierarchical regression models, the brain structural measures minimally added the explanatory power of cognitive and behavioral measures on IADL.
Our finding suggests that cerebellar structure and orbitofrontal cortex, alongside with medial temporal lobe, play an important role in the maintenance of functional status in older adults with or without dementia. Moreover, the significance of brain structural volume affects real-life functional activities via disruptions in multiple cognitive and behavioral functions.
This study was performed to improve production efficiency at the level of recipient pig and donor nuclei of transgenic cloned pigs used for xenotransplantation. To generate transgenic pigs, human endothelial protein C receptor (hEPCR) and human thrombomodulin (hTM) genes were introduced using the F2A expression vector into GalT–/–/hCD55+ porcine neonatal ear fibroblasts used as donor cells and cloned embryos were transferred to the sows and gilts. Cloned fetal kidney cells were also used as donor cells for recloning to increase production efficiency. Pregnancy and parturition rates after embryo transfer and preimplantation developmental competence were compared between cloned embryos derived from adult and fetal cells. Significantly higher parturition rates were shown in the group of sows (50.0 vs. 4.1%), natural oestrus (20.8 vs. 0%), and ovulated ovary (16.7 vs. 5.6%) compared with gilt, induced and non-ovulated, respectively (P < 0.05). When using gilts as recipients, final parturitions occurred in only the fetal cell groups and significantly higher blastocyst rates (15.1% vs. 21.3%) were seen (P < 0.05). Additionally, gene expression levels related to pluripotency were significantly higher in the fetal cell group (P < 0.05). In conclusion, sows can be recommended as recipients due to their higher efficiency in the generation of transgenic cloned pigs and cloned fetal cells also can be recommended as donor cells through correct nuclear reprogramming.
The submarine channel-fill system of the Cambrian Spurs Formation exhibits unique metre-scale cycles of breccia and diamictite. The studied sections, Eureka Spurs, are located at the Mariner Glacier in the central-eastern part of northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. A facies analysis of the channel-fill deposit has led to the recognition of four main lithofacies: breccia, diamictite, thin-bedded sandstone and mudstone. The channel-fill deposit consists of two architectural elements: hollow-fill (HF) and sheet-like (SL) elements. The SL has wide convex-up geometry and consists solely of a very thick bed of diamictite, and is interpreted as a submarine channel lobe. The HF has a concave-up erosional base and flat upper surface. The HF consists of nine cyclic alternations of underlying breccia (cohesionless debris flow) and overlying diamictite (cohesive debris flow). The deposition of breccia is interpreted to have been controlled by repeated allogenic processes such as earthquakes. In contrast, the abrupt vertical transition from breccia to diamictite in each cycle is interpreted to have resulted from an autogenic, slope instability-related process. The interaction of the allogenic and autogenic factors recorded in the metre-scale unique cyclic deposits provides new criteria to interpret cycles of submarine debris flow.
The Saemangeum tidal flat, an important staging site for migratory shorebirds that travel the East Asian-Australasian (EAA) Flyway, was isolated from the eastern Yellow Sea in 2006 as part of a large-scale reclamation project. To gain a better understanding of the impacts that this reclamation has had on the long-distance migratory shorebirds that use the EAA Flyway, we examined the number of shorebirds visiting Saemangeum and three adjacent sites in the Geum Estuary (Yubu Island, the Janghang coastline, and the Geum River Channel) during the spring and fall prior to, and after, completion of the reclamation (2004–2013). A total of 48 shorebird species, including one Critically Endangered, three Endangered, and nine Near Threatened species, were observed over this period. Peak numbers of shorebirds recorded at sites in Saemangeum and the Geum Estuary following completion of the project were 74% below those recorded in 2004 and 2005, the years prior to reclamation activity. In Saemangeum, shorebird abundance declined by approximately 95% and 97.3% during the northward and southward migrations, respectively, as a result of reclamation. Although shorebird populations in the Geum Estuary increased by 5% and 20% during the northwards and southward migrations, respectively, these increases failed to offset the reduction in shorebird abundance in Saemangeum; overall, shorebird abundance at Saemangeum and the three adjacent sites in the Geum Estuary markedly declined over the reclamation period. Given the more favourable conditions of adjacent areas, sites in Saemangeum and the Geum Estuary no longer provide the habitat conditions necessary for long-distance migratory shorebirds. In order to improve habitat for staging migratory birds, we suggest that measures such as the conversion of an abandoned salt farm for use as roosting sites, the construction of artificial barriers to prevent human disturbance, and re-opening of the river-banks to facilitate water flow be implemented.
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.
The Sewol ferry disaster is one of the most tragic events in Korea’s modern history. Among the 476 people on board, which included Danwon High School students (324) and teachers (14), 304 passengers died in the disaster (295 recovered corpses and 9 missing) and 172 survived. Of the rescued survivors, 72 were attending Danwon High School, located in Ansan City, and residing in a residence nearby. Because the students were young, emotionally susceptible adolescents, both the government and the parents requested the students be grouped together at a single hospital capable of appropriate psychiatric care. Korea University Ansan Hospital was the logical choice, as the only third-tier university-grade hospital with the necessary faculty and facilities within the residential area of the families of the students. We report the experiences and the lessons learned from the processes of preparing for and managing the surviving young students as a community-based hospital. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:389–393)
In this study, we design a differential CMOS power amplifier using a 180-nm SOI RFCMOS process for 802.11n (64-QAM, 20 MHz bandwidth, 9.6 dB peak to average power ratio (PAPR)) applications. To minimize the chip area and mismatch in differential signals, we propose a layout method with an inter-stage matching network using a split inductor. By virtue of the symmetrical layout of the proposed split inductor, the mismatch in the differential signals is minimized, while the interconnection lines between the driver and power stages are shortened to minimize the overall chip area and the loss induced by the resistive parasitic components. The designed power amplifier is measured using a wireless local area network (WLAN) 802.11n signal to verify the feasibility of the proposed layout technique. The power amplifier achieved 20.34 dBm output power, while the measured EVM for the 802.11n applications is satisfied. From the measured results, we successfully prove the feasibility of the proposed power amplifier.
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.
A total of 27 accessions from ten Vicia species were investigated for flavonoid contents, total polyphenol contents, and DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) and ABTS [2,2′-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline 6-sulfonic acid)] free radical-scavenging activities. The results revealed that NAC17 (V. monantha) and NAC14 (V. hyrcanica) had the highest total flavonoid content (1.42 ± 0.09 mg/g) and total polyphenol content [124.2 ± 0.5 μg/gallic acid equivalents (GAE) mg], respectively. Among four flavonoids, naringenin was detected at high concentrations in Vicia species. The DPPH and ABTS assays showed values in the range of 57.2 (IC50) (NAC13, V. faba) to 6530.0 (IC50) (NAC24, V. sativa subsp. nigra) and 19.1 μg/Trolox mg (NAC7, V. cracca) to 253.4 μg/Trolox mg (NAC13, V. faba), respectively. Among ten Vicia species, V. monantha and V. hyrcanica had the highest flavonoid content (1.31 ± 0.09 mg/g) and total polyphenol content (116.5 ± 2.0 μg/GAE mg), respectively. The highest antioxidant activity was detected in V. faba. These results will expand the flavonoid database and provide valuable information on Vicia species for the development of functional foods or feed-additive resources.
Cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are prevalent incident findings on brain MRI scans among elderly people and have been consistently implicated in cognitive dysfunction. However, differential roles of WMH by region in cognitive function are still unclear. The aim of this study was to ascertain the differential role of regional WMH in predicting progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to different subtypes of dementia.
Participants were recruited from the Clinical Research Center for Dementia of South Korea (CREDOS) study. A total of 622 participants with MCI diagnoses at baseline and follow-up evaluations were included for the analysis. Initial MRI scans were rated for WMH on a visual rating scale developed for the CREDOS. Differential effects of regional WMH in predicting incident dementia were evaluated using the Cox proportional hazards model.
Of the 622 participants with MCI at baseline, 139 patients (22.3%) converted to all-cause dementia over a median of 14.3 (range 6.0–36.5) months. Severe periventricular WMH (PWMH) predicted incident all-cause dementia (Hazard ratio (HR) 2.22; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.43–3.43) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) (HR 1.86; 95% CI 1.12–3.07). Subcortical vascular dementia (SVD) was predicted by both PWMH (HR 16.14; 95% CI 1.97–132.06) and DWMH (HR 8.77; 95% CI 1.77–43.49) in more severe form (≥ 10 mm).
WMH differentially predict dementia by region and severity. Our findings suggest that PWMH may play an independent role in the pathogenesis of dementia, especially in AD.
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.
Decreased hemoglobin levels increase the risk of developing dementia among the elderly. However, the underlying mechanisms that link decreased hemoglobin levels to incident dementia still remain unclear, possibly due to the fact that few studies have reported on the relationship between low hemoglobin levels and neuroimaging markers. We, therefore, investigated the relationships between decreased hemoglobin levels, cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD), and cortical atrophy in cognitively healthy women and men.
Cognitively normal women (n = 1,022) and men (n = 1,018) who underwent medical check-ups and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were enrolled at a health promotion center. We measured hemoglobin levels, white matter hyperintensities (WMH) scales, lacunes, and microbleeds. Cortical thickness was automatically measured using surface based methods. Multivariate regression analyses were performed after controlling for possible confounders.
Decreased hemoglobin levels were not associated with the presence of WMH, lacunes, or microbleeds in women and men. Among women, decreased hemoglobin levels were associated with decreased cortical thickness in the frontal (Estimates, 95% confidence interval, −0.007, (−0.013, −0.001)), temporal (−0.010, (−0.018, −0.002)), parietal (−0.009, (−0.015, −0.003)), and occipital regions (−0.011, (−0.019, −0.003)). Among men, however, no associations were observed between hemoglobin levels and cortical thickness.
Our findings suggested that decreased hemoglobin levels affected cortical atrophy, but not increased CSVD, among women, although the association is modest. Given the paucity of modifiable risk factors for age-related cognitive decline, our results have important public health implications.
Postural instability is one of the most disabling features of Parkinson's disease, usually occurring in late and advanced stages. The aim of this study was to investigate the postural performance of early-stage de novo Parkinson's disease patients with no clinical postural instability using computerized dynamic posturography. We sought to understand the relationship between postural sway and disease severity and the relationship between postural instability quantitatively measured by computerized dynamic posturography and cognitive impairment in early-stage Parkinson's disease patients.
Thirty-one subjects with Parkinson's disease and 20 healthy controls were assessed by the computerized dynamic posturography protocol using the sensory organization test and the motor control test. A neuropsychological assessment was also administered.
The mean equilibrium score for sensory organization test and the vestibular input ratio were significantly correlated with Hoehn-Yahr stage. No associations between motor latency for any motor control test condition and Hoehn-Yahr stage were found. The equilibrium score for sensory organization test correlated with the mini-mental status examination scores. There was a significant correlation between motor latency for large backward translation and mini-mental status examination scores. There were significant correlations between visual perception/construction/ memory of the neuropsychological battery test and the equilibrium score for sensory organization test and between verbal word learning test, controlled word association test and motor latency for large backward translation.
These findings showed the postural instability present in early-stage (Hoehn-Yahr stage 2-2.5) Parkinson's disease. We also found a close relationship between postural instability and cognitive function in Parkinson's disease patients.
There is increasing evidence of a relationship between underweight or obesity and dementia risk. Several studies have investigated the relationship between body weight and brain atrophy, a pathological change preceding dementia, but their results are inconsistent. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and cortical atrophy among cognitively normal participants.
We recruited cognitively normal participants (n = 1,111) who underwent medical checkups and detailed neurologic screening, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the health screening visits between September 2008 and December 2011. The main outcome was cortical thickness measured using MRI. The number of subjects with five BMI groups in men/women was 9/9, 148/258, 185/128, 149/111, and 64/50 in underweight, normal, overweight, mild obesity, and moderate to severe obesity, respectively. Linear and non-linear relationships between BMI and cortical thickness were examined using multiple linear regression analysis and generalized additive models after adjustment for potential confounders.
Among men, underweight participants showed significant cortical thinning in the frontal and temporal regions compared to normal weight participants, while overweight and mildly obese participants had greater cortical thicknesses in the frontal region and the frontal, temporal, and occipital regions, respectively. However, cortical thickness in each brain region was not significantly different in normal weight and moderate to severe obesity groups. Among women, the association between BMI and cortical thickness was not statistically significant.
Our findings suggested that underweight might be an important risk factor for pathological changes in the brain, while overweight or mild obesity may be inversely associated with cortical atrophy in cognitively normal elderly males.