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The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, with its impact on our way of life, is affecting our experiences and mental health. Notably, individuals with mental disorders have been reported to have a higher risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Personality traits could represent an important determinant of preventative health behaviour and, therefore, the risk of contracting the virus.
We examined overlapping genetic underpinnings between major psychiatric disorders, personality traits and susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Linkage disequilibrium score regression was used to explore the genetic correlations of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) susceptibility with psychiatric disorders and personality traits based on data from the largest available respective genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In two cohorts (the PsyCourse (n = 1346) and the HeiDE (n = 3266) study), polygenic risk scores were used to analyse if a genetic association between, psychiatric disorders, personality traits and COVID-19 susceptibility exists in individual-level data.
We observed no significant genetic correlations of COVID-19 susceptibility with psychiatric disorders. For personality traits, there was a significant genetic correlation for COVID-19 susceptibility with extraversion (P = 1.47 × 10−5; genetic correlation 0.284). Yet, this was not reflected in individual-level data from the PsyCourse and HeiDE studies.
We identified no significant correlation between genetic risk factors for severe psychiatric disorders and genetic risk for COVID-19 susceptibility. Among the personality traits, extraversion showed evidence for a positive genetic association with COVID-19 susceptibility, in one but not in another setting. Overall, these findings highlight a complex contribution of genetic and non-genetic components in the interaction between COVID-19 susceptibility and personality traits or mental disorders.
Losses induced by tip clearance limit decisive improvements in the system efficiency and aerodynamic operational stability of aero-engine axial compressors. The tendency towards even lower blade heights to compensate for higher fluid densities aggravates their influence. Generally, it is emphasised that the tip clearance should be minimised but remain large enough to prevent collisions between the blade tip and the casing throughout the entire mission. The present work concentrates on the development of a preliminary aero-engine axial compressor casing design methodology involving meta-modelling techniques. Previous research work at the Institute for Turbomachinery and Flight Propulsion resulted in a Two-Dimensional (2D) axisymmetric finite element model for a generic multi-stage high-pressure axial compressor casing. Subsequent sensitivity studies led to the identification of significant parameters that are important for fine-tuning the tip clearance via specific flange design. This work is devoted to an exploration of the potential of surrogate modelling in preliminary compressor casing design with respect to rapid tip clearance assessments and its corresponding precision in comparison with finite element results. Reputed as data-driven mathematical approximation models and conceived for inexpensive numerical simulation result reproduction, surrogate models show even greater capacity when linked with extensive design space exploration and optimisation algorithms.
Compared with high-fidelity finite element simulations, the reductions obtained in computational time when using surrogate models amount to 99.9%. Validated via statistical methods and dependent on the size of the training database, the precision of surrogate models can reach down to the range of manufacturing tolerances. Subsequent inclusion of such surrogate models in a parametric optimisation process for tip clearance minimisation rapidly returned adaptions of the geometric design variables.
Studying phenotypic and genetic characteristics of age at onset (AAO) and polarity at onset (PAO) in bipolar disorder can provide new insights into disease pathology and facilitate the development of screening tools.
To examine the genetic architecture of AAO and PAO and their association with bipolar disorder disease characteristics.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and polygenic score (PGS) analyses of AAO (n = 12 977) and PAO (n = 6773) were conducted in patients with bipolar disorder from 34 cohorts and a replication sample (n = 2237). The association of onset with disease characteristics was investigated in two of these cohorts.
Earlier AAO was associated with a higher probability of psychotic symptoms, suicidality, lower educational attainment, not living together and fewer episodes. Depressive onset correlated with suicidality and manic onset correlated with delusions and manic episodes. Systematic differences in AAO between cohorts and continents of origin were observed. This was also reflected in single-nucleotide variant-based heritability estimates, with higher heritabilities for stricter onset definitions. Increased PGS for autism spectrum disorder (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), major depression (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), schizophrenia (β = −0.39 years, s.e. = 0.08), and educational attainment (β = −0.31 years, s.e. = 0.08) were associated with an earlier AAO. The AAO GWAS identified one significant locus, but this finding did not replicate. Neither GWAS nor PGS analyses yielded significant associations with PAO.
AAO and PAO are associated with indicators of bipolar disorder severity. Individuals with an earlier onset show an increased polygenic liability for a broad spectrum of psychiatric traits. Systematic differences in AAO across cohorts, continents and phenotype definitions introduce significant heterogeneity, affecting analyses.
Geographic measurement of diets is generally not available at areas smaller than a national or provincial (state) scale, as existing nutrition surveys cannot achieve sample sizes needed for an acceptable statistical precision for small geographic units such as city subdivisions.
Using geocoded Nielsen grocery transaction data collected from supermarket, supercentre and pharmacy chains combined with a gravity model that transforms store-level sales into area-level purchasing, we developed small-area public health indicators of food purchasing for neighbourhood districts. We generated the area-level indicators measuring per-resident purchasing quantity for soda, diet soda, flavoured (sugar-added) yogurt and plain yogurt purchasing. We then provided an illustrative public health application of these indicators as covariates for an ecological spatial regression model to estimate spatially correlated small-area risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) obtained from the public health administrative data.
Greater Montreal, Canada in 2012.
Neighbourhood districts (n 193).
The indicator of flavoured yogurt had a positive association with neighbourhood-level risk of T2D (1·08, 95 % credible interval (CI) 1·02, 1·14), while that of plain yogurt had a negative association (0·93, 95 % CI 0·89, 0·96). The indicator of soda had an inconclusive association, and that of diet soda was excluded due to collinearity with soda. The addition of the indicators also improved model fit of the T2D spatial regression (Watanabe–Akaike information criterion = 1765 with the indicators, 1772 without).
Store-level grocery sales data can be used to reveal micro-scale geographic disparities and trends of food selections that would be masked by traditional survey-based estimation.
Cognition heavily relies on social determinants and genetic background. Latin America comprises approximately 8% of the global population and faces unique challenges, many derived from specific demographic and socioeconomic variables, such as violence and inequality. While such factors have been described to influence mental health outcomes, no large-scale studies with Latin American population have been carried out. Therefore, we aim to describe the cognitive performance of a representative sample of Latin American individuals with schizophrenia and its relationship to clinical factors. Additionally, we aim to investigate how socioeconomic status (SES) relates to cognitive performance in patients and controls.
We included 1175 participants from five Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico): 864 individuals with schizophrenia and 311 unaffected subjects. All participants were part of projects that included cognitive evaluation with MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery and clinical assessments.
Patients showed worse cognitive performance than controls across all domains. Age and diagnosis were independent predictors, indicating similar trajectories of cognitive aging for both patients and controls. The SES factors of education, parental education, and income were more related to cognition in patients than in controls. Cognition was also influenced by symptomatology.
Patients did not show evidence of accelerated cognitive aging; however, they were most impacted by a lower SES suggestive of deprived environment than controls. These findings highlight the vulnerability of cognitive capacity in individuals with psychosis in face of demographic and socioeconomic factors in low- and middle-income countries.
We present an overview of the SkyMapper optical follow-up programme for gravitational-wave event triggers from the LIGO/Virgo observatories, which aims at identifying early GW170817-like kilonovae out to
distance. We describe our robotic facility for rapid transient follow-up, which can target most of the sky at
to a depth of
. We have implemented a new software pipeline to receive LIGO/Virgo alerts, schedule observations and examine the incoming real-time data stream for transient candidates. We adopt a real-bogus classifier using ensemble-based machine learning techniques, attaining high completeness (
) and purity (
) over our whole magnitude range. Applying further filtering to remove common image artefacts and known sources of transients, such as asteroids and variable stars, reduces the number of candidates by a factor of more than 10. We demonstrate the system performance with data obtained for GW190425, a binary neutron star merger detected during the LIGO/Virgo O3 observing campaign. In time for the LIGO/Virgo O4 run, we will have deeper reference images allowing transient detection to
Plumage colour variation occurs widely among bird species and is often associated with individual fitness. More specifically, colouration can affect thermoregulatory ability, mate selection and conspicuousness during foraging. Colour aberrations can be caused by genetic mutations, dietary imbalances, environmental conditions or disease and are rare. Plumage variations have previously been noted in Adélie penguins, although without any follow-up to measure implications for behaviour or fitness. To assess how this low-frequency condition affects breeding in Adélie penguins, we monitored the breeding of several colour-aberrant Adélie penguins during the 2019–2020 nesting season at the large Cape Crozier, Ross Island colony (> 300,000 pairs). In total, we found 12 individuals with unusual plumage for a frequency of 1:50,000 breeding penguins. There were seven dark brown Adélie penguins, three progressive greying Adélie penguins, one dilute Adélie penguin and one brown Adélie penguin, of which five were female, three male and four of unknown sex. Six colour aberrants initiated breeding with a normal-coloured mate, and five raised at least one chick to crèche. The likelihood of breeding and breeding success of colour aberrants were similar to those of normal-coloured Adélie penguins, suggesting that colour aberrations do not negatively affect breeding.
The mechanics of extreme intensity events in the buffer and logarithmic layers of a turbulent channel at $Re_\tau =2000$ is investigated. The 99.9th percentile of the most intense events in the dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy is analysed by means of conditional space–time proper orthogonal decomposition. The computed spatio-temporal modes are coherent in space and over the considered time frame, and optimally capture the energy of the ensemble. The most energetic mode with transverse symmetric structure describes a turbulent burst event. The underlying mechanism is a varicose instability which generates localized extrema in the dissipation and production of turbulent kinetic energy and drives the formation of a hairpin vortex. The most energetic anti-symmetric mode is related to a sinuous-type instability that is situated in the shear layer between two very-large-scale streaks. Statistical results show the energy in the symmetric mode to exceed that in the anti-symmetric mode by a near constant factor for the considered wall distances. Both mechanisms occur throughout the range of wall distances in an effectively self-similar manner that is consistent with the attached-eddy hypothesis. By analogy with transitional flows, the results suggest that the events are induced by an exponential growth mechanism.
Effects of stresses associated with extremely preterm birth may be biologically “recorded” in the genomes of individuals born preterm via changes in DNA methylation (DNAm) patterns. Genome-wide DNAm profiles were examined in buccal epithelial cells from 45 adults born at extremely low birth weight (ELBW; ≤1000 g) in the oldest known cohort of prospectively followed ELBW survivors (Mage = 32.35 years, 17 male), and 47 normal birth weight (NBW; ≥2500 g) control adults (Mage = 32.43 years, 20 male). Sex differences in DNAm profiles were found in both birth weight groups, but they were greatly enhanced in the ELBW group (77,895 loci) versus the NBW group (3,424 loci), suggesting synergistic effects of extreme prenatal adversity and sex on adult DNAm profiles. In men, DNAm profiles differed by birth weight group at 1,354 loci on 694 unique genes. Only two loci on two genes distinguished between ELBW and NBW women. Gene ontology (GO) and network analyses indicated that loci differentiating between ELBW and NBW men were abundant in genes within biological pathways related to neuronal development, synaptic transportation, metabolic regulation, and cellular regulation. Findings suggest increased sensitivity of males to long-term epigenetic effects of extremely preterm birth. Group differences are discussed in relation to particular gene functions.
Some studies have shown that alexithymic patients respond poorly to pharmacotherapy and that alexithymia may have a negative impact on the naturalistic course of psychiatric illnesses. The view that alexithymic patients are also less responsive to psychotherapy is often described in the literature, but few empirical studies have examined this issue, with inconsistent results.
We conducted two prospective studies (pre/post/follow-up) with patients with panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, to evaluate alexithymia as a potential predictor of the outcome of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) including exposure response management. A further aim was to examine the absolute and relative stability of alexithymia.
Regression analyses revealed that alexithymia, as measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, was related neither to the post-treatment nor to the follow-up outcome. The repeated measures ANOVA showed a significant decrease of alexithymia over time, even after controlling for depression. The high test-retest correlations of alexithymia total and factor scores indicated relative stability of this construct, suggesting that it is a stable personality trait rather than a state-dependent phenomenon in these patients.
The results are encouraging for cognitive-behavior therapists working with alexithymic patients with panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, since the CBT outcome of these patients does not appear to be negatively affected by alexithymia. Furthermore, some alexithymic characteristics may decrease during CBT, even when the therapy program is not specifically directed to alexithymia. Future controlled studies should examine whether these improvements of alexithymia are due to psychotherapeutic interventions, in particular exposure therapy.
Purpose of this study was to assess subjective well-being in schizophrenia inpatients and to find variables predictive for response and remission of subjective well-being.
The subjective well-being under neuroleptic treatment scale (SWN-K) was used in 232 schizophrenia patients within a naturalistic multicenter trial. Early response was defined as a SWN-K total score improvement of 20% and by at least 10 points within the first 2 treatment weeks, response as an improvement in SWN-K total score of at least 20% and by at least 10 points from admission to discharge and remission in subjective well-being as a total score of more or equal to 80 points at discharge. Logistic regression and CART analyses were used to determine valid predictors of subjective well-being outcome.
Twenty-nine percent of the patients were detected to be SWN-K early responders, 40% fulfilled criteria for response in subjective well-being and 66% fulfilled criteria for remission concerning subjective well-being. Among the investigated predictors, SWN-K early improvement and the educational status were significantly associated with SWN-K response. The SWN-K total score at baseline showed a significant negative predictive value for response. Baseline SWN-K total score, PANSS global subscore, and side effects as well as the educational status were found to be significantly predictive for remission.
Depressive symptoms should be radically treated and side effects closely monitored to improve the patient's subjective well-being. The important influence of subjective well-being on overall treatment outcome could be underlined.
This guidance paper from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) aims to provide evidence-based recommendations on early intervention in clinical high risk (CHR) states of psychosis, assessed according to the EPA guidance on early detection. The recommendations were derived from a meta-analysis of current empirical evidence on the efficacy of psychological and pharmacological interventions in CHR samples. Eligible studies had to investigate conversion rate and/or functioning as a treatment outcome in CHR patients defined by the ultra-high risk and/or basic symptom criteria. Besides analyses on treatment effects on conversion rate and functional outcome, age and type of intervention were examined as potential moderators. Based on data from 15 studies (n = 1394), early intervention generally produced significantly reduced conversion rates at 6- to 48-month follow-up compared to control conditions. However, early intervention failed to achieve significantly greater functional improvements because both early intervention and control conditions produced similar positive effects. With regard to the type of intervention, both psychological and pharmacological interventions produced significant effects on conversion rates, but not on functional outcome relative to the control conditions. Early intervention in youth samples was generally less effective than in predominantly adult samples. Seven evidence-based recommendations for early intervention in CHR samples could have been formulated, although more studies are needed to investigate the specificity of treatment effects and potential age effects in order to tailor interventions to the individual treatment needs and risk status.
Data about quality of life (QoL) are important to estimate the impact of diseases on functioning and well-being. The present study was designed to assess the association of different aspects of panic disorder (PD) with QoL and to examine the relationship between QoL and symptomatic outcome following brief cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT).
The sample consisted of 55 consecutively recruited outpatients suffering from PD who underwent CBGT. QoL was assessed by the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) at baseline, post-treatment and six months follow-up. SF-36 baseline scores were compared with normative data obtained from a large German population sample.
Agoraphobia, disability, and worries about health were significantly associated with decreased QoL, whereas frequency, severity and duration of panic attacks were not. Treatment responders showed significantly better QoL than non-responders. PD symptom reduction following CBGT was associated with considerable improvement in emotional and physical aspects of QoL. However, the vitality subscale of the SF-36 remained largely unchanged over time.
Our results are encouraging for cognitive-behavior therapists who treat patients suffering from PD in groups, since decrease of PD symptoms appears to be associated with considerable improvements in QoL. Nevertheless, additional interventions designed to target specific aspects of QoL, in particular vitality, may be useful to enhance patients’ well-being.