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COVID-19 altered research in Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hubs in an unprecedented manner, leading to adjustments for COVID-19 research.
CTSA members volunteered to conduct a review on the impact of CTSA network on COVID-19 pandemic with the assistance from NIH survey team in October 2020. The survey questions included the involvement of CTSAs in decision-making concerning the prioritization of COVID-19 studies. Descriptive and statistical analyses were conducted to analyze the survey data.
60 of the 64 CTSAs completed the survey. Most CTSAs lacked preparedness but promptly responded to the pandemic. Early disruption of research triggered, enhanced CTSA engagement, creation of dedicated research areas and triage for prioritization of COVID-19 studies. CTSAs involvement in decision-making were 16.75 times more likely to create dedicated diagnostic laboratories (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.17–129.39; P < 0.01). Likewise, institutions with internal funding were 3.88 times more likely to establish COVID-19 dedicated research (95% CI = 1.12–13.40; P < 0.05). CTSAs were instrumental in securing funds and facilitating establishment of laboratory/clinical spaces for COVID-19 research. Workflow was modified to support contracting and IRB review at most institutions with CTSAs. To mitigate chaos generated by competing clinical trials, central feasibility committees were often formed for orderly review/prioritization.
The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic emphasize the pivotal role of CTSAs in prioritizing studies and establishing the necessary research infrastructure, and the importance of prompt and flexible research leadership with decision-making capacity to manage future pandemics.
The peoples of southern Mesoamerica, including the Classic period Maya, are often claimed to exhibit a distinct type of spatial organization relative to contemporary urban systems. Here, we use the settlement scaling framework and properties of settlements recorded in systematic, full-coverage surveys to examine ways in which southern Mesoamerican settlement systems were both similar to and different from contemporary systems. We find that the population-area relationship in these settlements differs greatly from that reported for other agrarian settlement systems, but that more typical patterns emerge when one considers a site epicenter as the relevant social interaction area, and the population administered from a given center as the relevant interacting population. Our results imply that southern Mesoamerican populations mixed socially at a slower temporal rhythm than is typical of contemporary systems. Residential locations reflected the need to balance energetic and transport costs of farming with lower-frequency costs of commuting to central places. Nevertheless, increasing returns in activities such as civic construction were still realized through lower-frequency social mixing. These findings suggest that the primary difference between low-density urbanism and contemporary urban systems lies in the spatial and temporal rhythms of social mixing.
Understanding risk factors for death from Covid-19 is key to providing good quality clinical care. We assessed the presenting characteristics of the ‘first wave’ of patients with Covid-19 at Royal Oldham Hospital, UK and undertook logistic regression modelling to investigate factors associated with death. Of 470 patients admitted, 169 (36%) died. The median age was 71 years (interquartile range 57–82), and 255 (54.3%) were men. The most common comorbidities were hypertension (n = 218, 46.4%), diabetes (n = 143, 30.4%) and chronic neurological disease (n = 123, 26.1%). The most frequent complications were acute kidney injury (AKI) (n = 157, 33.4%) and myocardial injury (n = 21, 4.5%). Forty-three (9.1%) patients required intubation and ventilation, and 39 (8.3%) received non-invasive ventilation. Independent risk factors for death were increasing age (odds ratio (OR) per 10 year increase above 40 years 1.87, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.57–2.27), hypertension (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.10–2.70), cancer (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.27–3.81), platelets <150 × 103/μl (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.13–3.30), C-reactive protein ≥100 μg/ml (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.05–2.68), >50% chest radiograph infiltrates (OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.16–3.77) and AKI (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.64–4.13). There was no independent association between death and gender, ethnicity, deprivation level, fever, SpO2/FiO2, lymphopoenia or other comorbidities. These findings will inform clinical and shared decision making, including use of respiratory support and therapeutic agents.
Abnormal brain connectivity has recently been reported in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, structural differences in the corpus callosum (CC), the primary structure connecting the two hemispheres, have not been extensively studied. In this case-control study, we recruited 30 patients with OCD and 30 healthy control subjects carefully matched for age, sex and handedness. Combining surface-based mesh-modeling and voxel-based morphometry (VBM), we compared callosal thickness and white matter (WM) density in patients and controls. We investigated associations between callosal structure and cortical gray matter (GM) density, and we related CC measures to neuropsychological performance in OCD. OCD patients showed small anterior and posterior callosal regions compared to healthy control subjects. In the OCD group, anterior callosal thickness was positively correlated with GM density of the right mid-dorso-lateral prefrontal (BA 9/46) area, while posterior callosal thickness was positively correlated with GM density in the left supramarginal gyrus (BA 40). Moreover, posterior callosal WM density was positively correlated with verbal memory, visuo-spatial memory, verbal fluency, and visuo-spatial reasoning performances. Callosal attributes were related to GM density in cortical areas innervated by the CC, and were also related to performance in cognitive domains impaired in the disorder. The CC may therefore be integrally involved in OCD.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a chronic condition with a strong impact on patients’ affective, cognitive and social functioning. Neuroimaging techniques offer invaluable tools to understand the biological substrate of the disease. We aimed to investigate gray matter alterations over the whole cortex in a group of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) patients compared to healthy controls (HC).
Magnetic resonance-based cortical pattern matching was used to assess cortical gray matter density (GMD) in 26 BPD patients and in their age- and sex-matched HC (age: 38 ± 11; females: 16, 61%).
BPD patients showed widespread lower cortical GMD compared to HC (4% difference) with peaks of lower density located in the dorsal frontal cortex, in the orbitofrontal cortex, the anterior and posterior cingulate, the right parietal lobe, the temporal lobe (medial temporal cortex and fusiform gyrus) and in the visual cortex (P < 0.005). Our BPD subjects displayed a symmetric distribution of anomalies in the dorsal aspect of the cortical mantle, but a wider involvement of the left hemisphere in the mesial aspect in terms of lower density. A few restricted regions of higher density were detected in the right hemisphere. All regions remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons via permutation testing.
BPD patients feature specific morphology of the cerebral structures involved in cognitive and emotional processing and social cognition/mentalization, consistent with clinical and functional data.
Tuberous sclerosis complex is a rare genetic disorder leading to the growth of hamartomas in multiple organs, including cardiac rhabdomyomas. Children with symptomatic cardiac rhabdomyoma require frequent admissions to intensive care units, have major complications, namely, arrhythmias, cardiac outflow tract obstruction and heart failure, affecting the quality of life and taking on high healthcare cost. Currently, there is no standard pharmacological treatment for this condition, and the management includes a conservative approach and supportive care. Everolimus has shown positive effects on subependymal giant cell astrocytomas, renal angiomyolipoma and refractory seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex. However, evidence supporting efficacy in symptomatic cardiac rhabdomyoma is limited to case reports. The ORACLE trial is the first randomised clinical trial assessing the efficacy of everolimus as a specific therapy for symptomatic cardiac rhabdomyoma.
ORACLE is a phase II, prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre protocol trial. A total of 40 children with symptomatic cardiac rhabdomyoma secondary to tuberous sclerosis complex will be randomised to receive oral everolimus or placebo for 3 months. The primary outcome is 50% or more reduction in the tumour size related to baseline. As secondary outcomes we include the presence of arrhythmias, pericardial effusion, intracardiac obstruction, adverse events, progression of tumour reduction and effect on heart failure.
ORACLE protocol addresses a relevant unmet need in children with tuberous sclerosis complex and cardiac rhabdomyoma. The results of the trial will potentially support the first evidence-based therapy for this condition.
Limpets and barnacles are important components of intertidal assemblages worldwide. This study examines the effects of barnacles on the foraging behaviour of the limpet Patella vulgata, which is the main algal grazer in the North-west Atlantic. The behaviour of limpets on a vertical seawall on the Isle of Man (UK) was investigated using autonomous radio-telemetry, comparing their activity patterns on plots characterized by dense barnacle cover and plots from which the barnacles had been removed. Limpet behaviour was investigated at mid-shore level, but two different elevations were considered. This experiment revealed a significant effect of barnacle cover on the activity of P. vulgata. Limpets on smooth surfaces spent a greater proportion of total time active than did limpets on barnacles. Movement activity was also greater in areas that were lower down in the tidal range. In general, limpets were either predominantly active during diurnal high or nocturnal low tides and always avoided nocturnal high tides. Individuals on barnacles at the higher elevation concentrated their activity during nocturnal low water. All the other groups of limpets (smooth surfaces on the upper level and all individuals on the lower shore) had more excursions centred around daylight hours with an equal distribution of activity between periods of low and high water. Inter-individual variability was, however, pronounced.
The rocky shores of the north-east Atlantic have been long studied. Our focus is from Gibraltar to Norway plus the Azores and Iceland. Phylogeographic processes shape biogeographic patterns of biodiversity. Long-term and broadscale studies have shown the responses of biota to past climate fluctuations and more recent anthropogenic climate change. Inter- and intra-specific species interactions along sharp local environmental gradients shape distributions and community structure and hence ecosystem functioning. Shifts in domination by fucoids in shelter to barnacles/mussels in exposure are mediated by grazing by patellid limpets. Further south fucoids become increasingly rare, with species disappearing or restricted to estuarine refuges, caused by greater desiccation and grazing pressure. Mesoscale processes influence bottom-up nutrient forcing and larval supply, hence affecting species abundance and distribution, and can be proximate factors setting range edges (e.g., the English Channel, the Iberian Peninsula). Impacts of invasive non-native species are reviewed. Knowledge gaps such as the work on rockpools and host–parasite dynamics are also outlined.
Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA), the cryogenic infrared space telescope recently pre-selected for a ‘Phase A’ concept study as one of the three remaining candidates for European Space Agency (ESA's) fifth medium class (M5) mission, is foreseen to include a far-infrared polarimetric imager [SPICA-POL, now called B-fields with BOlometers and Polarizers (B-BOP)], which would offer a unique opportunity to resolve major issues in our understanding of the nearby, cold magnetised Universe. This paper presents an overview of the main science drivers for B-BOP, including high dynamic range polarimetric imaging of the cold interstellar medium (ISM) in both our Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Thanks to a cooled telescope, B-BOP will deliver wide-field 100–350
m images of linearly polarised dust emission in Stokes Q and U with a resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and both intensity and spatial dynamic ranges comparable to those achieved by Herschel images of the cold ISM in total intensity (Stokes I). The B-BOP 200
m images will also have a factor
30 higher resolution than Planck polarisation data. This will make B-BOP a unique tool for characterising the statistical properties of the magnetised ISM and probing the role of magnetic fields in the formation and evolution of the interstellar web of dusty molecular filaments giving birth to most stars in our Galaxy. B-BOP will also be a powerful instrument for studying the magnetism of nearby galaxies and testing Galactic dynamo models, constraining the physics of dust grain alignment, informing the problem of the interaction of cosmic rays with molecular clouds, tracing magnetic fields in the inner layers of protoplanetary disks, and monitoring accretion bursts in embedded protostars.
Childhood maltreatment (CM) plays an important role in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to examine whether CM severity and type are associated with MDD-related brain alterations, and how they interact with sex and age.
Within the ENIGMA-MDD network, severity and subtypes of CM using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were assessed and structural magnetic resonance imaging data from patients with MDD and healthy controls were analyzed in a mega-analysis comprising a total of 3872 participants aged between 13 and 89 years. Cortical thickness and surface area were extracted at each site using FreeSurfer.
CM severity was associated with reduced cortical thickness in the banks of the superior temporal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus as well as with reduced surface area of the middle temporal lobe. Participants reporting both childhood neglect and abuse had a lower cortical thickness in the inferior parietal lobe, middle temporal lobe, and precuneus compared to participants not exposed to CM. In males only, regardless of diagnosis, CM severity was associated with higher cortical thickness of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, a significant interaction between CM and age in predicting thickness was seen across several prefrontal, temporal, and temporo-parietal regions.
Severity and type of CM may impact cortical thickness and surface area. Importantly, CM may influence age-dependent brain maturation, particularly in regions related to the default mode network, perception, and theory of mind.
Depression frequently co-occurs with disorders of glucose and insulin homeostasis (DGIH) and obesity. Low-grade systemic inflammation and lifestyle factors in childhood may predispose to DGIH, obesity and depression. We aim to investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations among DGIH, obesity and depression, and to examine the effect of demographics, lifestyle factors and antecedent low-grade inflammation on such associations in young people.
Using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children birth cohort, we used regression analyses to examine: (1) cross-sectional and (2) longitudinal associations between measures of DGIH [insulin resistance (IR); impaired glucose tolerance] and body mass index (BMI) at ages 9 and 18 years, and depression (depressive symptoms and depressive episode) at age 18 years and (3) whether sociodemographics, lifestyle factors or inflammation [interleukin-6 (IL-6) at age 9 years] confounded any such associations.
We included 3208 participants. At age 18 years, IR and BMI were positively associated with depression. These associations may be explained by sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. There were no longitudinal associations between DGIH/BMI and depression, and adjustment for IL-6 and C-reactive protein did not attenuate associations between IR/BMI and depression; however, the longitudinal analyses may have been underpowered.
Young people with depression show evidence of DGIH and raised BMI, which may be related to sociodemographic and lifestyle effects such as deprivation, smoking, ethnicity and gender. In future, studies with larger samples are required to confirm this. Preventative strategies for the poorer physical health outcomes associated with depression should focus on malleable lifestyle factors.
While beneficial for sow reproductive efficiency and biosecurity, segregated early weaning (SEW) leads to a systemic immune response that adversely affects the digestive physiology and post-weaning growth of pigs. Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of a glucocorticoid receptor agonist (GA) on growth performance, measures of immune function and intestinal integrity of SEW pigs. In both experiments, pigs were fed corn-soybean meal-based starter diets. In the first experiment, 48 pigs (initial BW 4.8 ± 0.7 kg) were weaned at 21 ± 1 days and randomly assigned to three GA treatment groups: 0, 0.2 and 0.6 mg GA/kg of BW injected intramuscularly. Treatments were administered one day before weaning. Pigs in the 0 mg GA group received sterile saline in place of GA. Body weight was measured daily from one day before to 7 days post-weaning, and then weekly until 28 days post-weaning. Piglets treated with 0.2 mg GA had a higher BW than piglets in other treatment groups during the 28-day course of the study (P <0.02). To further explore the mechanisms behind this result, a second experiment was performed in which a total of 18 gilts (BW 5.6 ± 0.85 kg) were randomly assigned into three treatment groups: suckling plus saline (UWS), weaned treated with GA (WGA; 0.2 mg GA/kg BW) and weaned plus saline (CON). Treatments were administered one day before and 3 days post-weaning. The WGA and CON groups were weaned at 23 ± 2 days, while the UWS group remained with sow for the duration of the study. Body weight was measured daily and blood plasma was collected at 0, 1, 4 and 5 days post-weaning. All gilts were euthanized 5 days after weaning and jejunum samples were collected for mucosal scrapings, histomorphological analysis and gene expression analysis. Plasma levels of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and haptoglobin were lower in WGA pigs compared with CON (P <0.02), while plasma total antioxidant capacity was higher in WGA pigs compared with both CON and UWS groups (P <0.01). Relative to CON, GA downregulated IL-18 gene expression in the jejunum, as assessed by both tissue homogenate and mucosal scrapings, but it upregulated claudin-IV gene expression only in the tissue homogenate (P <0.01). These results suggest that GA treatment improves the growth performance of SEW pigs in part by mitigating the negative effects of systemic inflammation. However, the effect of GA on barrier integrity requires further investigation.
We investigated risk factors for severe acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) among hospitalised children <2 years, with a focus on the interactions between virus and age. Statistical interactions between age and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, adenovirus (ADV) and rhinovirus on the risk of ALRI outcomes were investigated. Of 1780 hospitalisations, 228 (12.8%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The median (range) length of stay (LOS) in hospital was 3 (1–27) days. An increase of 1 month of age was associated with a decreased risk of ICU admission (rate ratio (RR) 0.94; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.91–0.98) and with a decrease in LOS (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.95–0.97). Associations between RSV, influenza, ADV positivity and ICU admission and LOS were significantly modified by age. Children <5 months old were at the highest risk from RSV-associated severe outcomes, while children >8 months were at greater risk from influenza-associated ICU admissions and long hospital stay. Children with ADV had increased LOS across all ages. In the first 2 years of life, the effects of different viruses on ALRI severity varies with age. Our findings help to identify specific ages that would most benefit from virus-specific interventions such as vaccines and antivirals.
Background:ATP8A2 mutations have only recently been associated with human disease. We present the clinical features from the largest cohort of patients with this disorder reported to date. Methods: An observational study of 9 unreported and 2 previously reported patients with biallelic ATP8A2 mutations was carried out at multiple centres. Results: The mean age of the cohort was 9.4 years old (range: 2.5-28 yrs). All patients demonstrated developmental delay, severe hypotonia and movement disorders: chorea/choreoathetosis (100%), dystonia (27%) or facial dyskinesia (18%). Hypotonia was apparent at birth (70%) or before 6 months old (100%). Optic atrophy was observed in 75% of patients who had a funduscopic examination. MRI of the brain was normal for most patients with a small proportion showing mild cortical atrophy (30%), delayed myelination (20%) and/or hypoplastic optic nerves (20%). Epilepsy was seen in two older patients. Conclusions:ATP8A2 gene mutations have emerged as a cause of a novel phenotype characterized by developmental delay, severe hypotonia and hyperkinetic movement disorders. Optic atrophy is common and may only become apparent in the first few years of life, necessitating repeat ophthalmologic evaluation. Early recognition of the cardinal features of this condition will facilitate diagnosis of this disorder.
In ewe lambs, acceleration of growth and accumulation of both muscle and fat leads to earlier sexual maturity and better reproductive performance. The next stage in the development of this theme is to test whether these aspects of growth in young ewes affect milk production in their first lactation and the growth of their first progeny. We studied 75 young Merino ewes that had known phenotypic values for depth of eye muscle (EMD) and fat (FAT), and known Australian Sheep Breeding Values for post-weaning weight (PWT) and depths of eye muscle (PEMD) and fat (PFAT). They lambed for the first time at 1 year of age. Their lambs were weighed weekly from birth to weaning at 10 weeks to determine live weight gain and weaning weight. Progeny birth weight was positively associated with live weight gain and weaning weight (P<0.001). The PWT of the mothers was positively associated with birth weight (P<0.01), live weight gain and weaning weight of the progeny (P<0.05); however, these progeny traits were not influenced by EMD, FAT, PEMD, PFAT of the mothers (P>0.05). The PWT of the sire was positively associated with live weight gain (P<0.05) and weaning weight of the progeny (P<0.01). At around day 20 postpartum, we measured milk production and milk composition (fat, protein, lactose, total solids). Milk production was influenced positively by birth type (single or twin; P<0.05) and negatively by birth weight (P<0.05), but not by mother phenotype or genotype, sire genotype of the mother or the sex of the progeny (P>0.05). The concentrations of fat, protein, lactose and total solids in the milk were not affected by the phenotype or genotype of the mothers or of the sires of the mothers, or by the sex of the progeny (P>0.05). We conclude that selection of young Merino ewes for better growth, and more rapid accumulation of muscle and fat, will lead to progeny that are heavier at birth, grow faster and are heavier at weaning. Moreover, milk production and composition do not seem to be affected by the genetic merit of the mother for post-weaning live weight or PEMD or PFAT. Therefore, Merino ewes can lamb at 1 year of age without affecting the production objectives of the Merino sheep industry.
Central nervous system infections (CNSI) are a leading cause of death and long-term disability in children. Using ICD-10 data from 2005 to 2015 from three central hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam, we exploited generalized additive mixed models (GAMM) to examine the spatial-temporal distribution and spatial and climatic risk factors of paediatric CNSI, excluding tuberculous meningitis, in this setting. From 2005 to 2015, there were 9469 cases of paediatric CNSI; 33% were ⩽1 year old at admission and were mainly diagnosed with presumed bacterial CNSI (BI) (79%), the remainder were >1 year old and mainly diagnosed with presumed non-bacterial CNSI (non-BI) (59%). The urban districts of HCMC in proximity to the hospitals as well as some outer districts had the highest incidences of BI and non-BI; BI incidence was higher in the dry season. Monthly BI incidence exhibited a significant decreasing trend over the study. Both BI and non-BI were significantly associated with lags in monthly average temperature, rainfall, and river water level. Our findings add new insights into this important group of infections in Vietnam, and highlight where resources for the prevention and control of paediatric CNSI should be allocated.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
Leibovich et al.'s theory neither accounts for the deep connections between whole numbers and other classes of number nor provides a potential mechanism for mapping continuous magnitudes to symbolic numbers. We argue that focusing on non-symbolic ratio processing abilities can furnish a more expansive account of numerical cognition that remedies these shortcomings.