To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
HIV-1 molecular surveillance provides a new approach to explore transmission risks and targeted interventions. From January to June 2021, 663 newly reported HIV-1 cases were recruited in Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, China. The distribution characteristics of HIV-1 subtypes and HIV-1 molecular network were analysed. Of 542 successfully subtyped samples, 12 HIV-1 strains were identified. The main strains were CRF08_BC (47.0%, 255/542), CRF01_AE (17.0%, 92/542), CRF07_BC (17.0%, 92/542), URFs (8.7%, 47/542), and CRF85_BC (6.5%, 35/542). CRF08_BC was commonly detected among Zhaotong natives, illiterates, and non-farmers and was mostly detected in Zhaoyang County. CRF01_AE was frequently detected among married and homosexual individuals and mostly detected in Weixin and Zhenxiong counties. Among the 516 pol sequences, 187 (36.2%) were clustered. Zhaotong natives, individuals aged ≥60 years, and illiterate individuals were more likely to be found in the network. Assortativity analysis showed that individuals were more likely to be genetically associated when stratified by age, education level, occupation, and reporting area. The genetic diversity of HIV-1 reflects the complexity of local HIV epidemics. Molecular network analyses revealed the subpopulations to focus on and the characteristics of the risk networks. The results will help optimise local prevention and control strategies.
Although ethanol treatment is widely used to activate oocytes, the underlying mechanisms are largely unclear. Roles of intracellular calcium stores and extracellular calcium in ethanol-induced activation (EIA) of oocytes remain to be verified, and whether calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) is involved in EIA is unknown. This study showed that calcium-free ageing (CFA) in vitro significantly decreased intracellular stored calcium (sCa) and CaSR expression, and impaired EIA, spindle/chromosome morphology and developmental potential of mouse oocytes. Although EIA in oocytes with full sCa after ageing with calcium does not require calcium influx, calcium influx is essential for EIA of oocytes with reduced sCa after CFA. Furthermore, the extremely low EIA rate in oocytes with CFA-downregulated CaSR expression and the fact that inhibiting CaSR significantly decreased the EIA of oocytes with a full complement of CaSR suggest that CaSR played a significant role in the EIA of ageing oocytes. In conclusion, CFA impaired EIA and the developmental potential of mouse oocytes by decreasing sCa and downregulating CaSR expression. Because mouse oocytes routinely treated for activation (18 h post hCG) are equipped with a full sCa complement and CaSR, the present results suggest that, while calcium influx is not essential, CaSR is required for the EIA of oocytes.
Objectives: Influenza vaccination is encouraged for all healthcare workers (HCWs) to reduce the risk of acquiring the infection and onward transmission to colleagues and patients during the influenza season. Thus, vaccination was introduced at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in 2007 and has been offered to all HCWs at no cost. The HCW influenza vaccination program is conducted annually in October and biannually during years with vaccine mismatch. However, influenza vaccine uptake remained low among HCWs. We sought to determine the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on influenza vaccine uptake among HCWs. Methods: At SGH, 2 methods of vaccine delivery are offered: centralized (1-month drop-in system during office hours) and decentralized (administered by vaccination teams in offices or ward staff in inpatient locations). In the 4-year study period between 2018 and 2021, 6 influenza vaccination exercise campaigns were conducted during 8 influenza seasons. During each exercise, ~9,000 HCWs were eligible for vaccination. Results: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine uptake in the Southern Hemisphere was 77.6% (6,964 of 8,977) in 2018 and 84.2% (7,296 of 8,670) in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, vaccine uptake in the Southern Hemisphere increased by 10% to 94.1% (8,361 of 8,889). In the Northern Hemisphere, vaccine uptake was 79.2% (7,114 of 8,977) in 2018, and this increased by 17.9% to 97.1% (8,926 of 9,194) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. During the 2021 Southern Hemisphere influenza season, no vaccination program was conducted because the risk of influenza was considered low due to the closure of international borders and the implementation of public health measures. In addition, priority was given to COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Conclusions: Increased uptake of the influenza vaccination was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety created by the respiratory disease pandemic and debate surrounding vaccines likely contributed to increased awareness and uptake in influenza vaccine among HCWs.
Objectives: Following a cluster of COVID-19 cases in a Singapore public hospital in April 2021, the local health authority mandated the use of N95 respirators in all inpatient wards. This increased the demand for N95 mask fit-testing to ensure that healthcare workers were donning respirators that fit their facial characteristics and hence provided protection through a good facial seal. The demand for fit-testing during the pandemic highlighted the scarcity of manpower and ergonomics concern, such as carpel tunnel syndrome experienced in long hours of qualitative fit-testing sessions. We evaluated the operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and difference in passing rate after the introduction of the quantitative method. Methods: Conventional qualitative fit-testing was conducted using manual pumping of a challenge agent, enabling the user to determine the fit of the respirator. The quantitative fit-testing protocol used a condensation particle counter (CPC) to measure the concentration of particles inside the mask and the atmosphere to determine the fit of respirator. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)–approved minimum fit factor of 100 was used as the criterion for a successful N95 respirator fit. Tubes used during quantitative fit-testing were reprocessed using thermal disinfection. Results: Quantitative mask fit-testing provided an objective numerical measure to assess adequate fit of N95 respirator, which provided users with confidence in the respirator fit. It addressed a manpower limitation issue because it did not require qualified trainers to conduct the test, and automation also prevented any potential occupational hazard from repeated actions required in qualitative fit-testing. An increase in the passing rate for N95 fit-testing from 94.5% to 95.5% was observed. However, the high cost of equipment, annual recalibration, and consumables must be considered. Conclusions: Quantitative N95 fit-testing, when adopted with careful consideration of its cost, is an approach to consider for hospital-wide fit-testing.
The unprecedented growth of Spanish-English dual language learners (DLLs) in new destination states (e.g., Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee) calls for better understanding of the relation between their bilingual vocabulary skills and English reading achievement. The current study focused on school-age Spanish-English DLLs (N = 60) in Tennessee and explored how various vocabulary knowledge conceptualizations predict English reading comprehension achievement, controlling for English word reading skills and grade level. Vocabulary knowledge was assessed using monolingual (English-only and Spanish-only) and bilingual (conceptual and total) scoring methods. Results showed that, while DLLs performed below the national mean for English-only and Spanish-only vocabulary, they performed within the average to above-average range for bilingually scored conceptual vocabulary. More uniquely, the expressive vocabulary knowledge emerged as a robust predictor of English reading comprehension above and beyond the influence of English word reading skills. Findings suggest practical and theoretical value of bilingually driven vocabulary assessment approaches. As expected, bilingually scored vocabulary provided a more comprehensive understanding of DLLs’ vocabulary knowledge by accounting for vocabulary knowledge in both Spanish and English, compared to monolingually scored vocabulary. We discuss theoretical and instructional implications, with a focus on asset-driven and scientific assessment understandings for supporting DLLs’ vocabulary and reading achievement in new destination states.
The outbreak has had a devastating impact, and efforts are underway to speed up vaccination. The study’s objective was to describe the clinical characteristics of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination clinic in the Second People’s Hospital of Fujian Province, China. Meanwhile, we monitored all the vaccine recipients to evaluate adverse reactions.
A cross-sectional study was done at the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, the Second People’s Hospital of Fujian Province, China. We systematically collected Clinical data from the COVID-19 vaccination clinic between March 11 and November 11, 2021, including the type of vaccine, number of doses, gender, age, educational level, occupational category, adverse reactions, etc. Investigators will contact vaccine recipients by means of phone call or WeChat message to record the negative responses. Last, this report covers data through 8 mo, so it will be better to Evaluate the Safety of 2 inactivated COVID-19 vaccines from China (BBIBP-CorV [Beijing Institute of Biological Products, Beijing, China] and CoronaVac [Sinovac Life Sciences, Beijing, China]).
The results indicated that the Second People’s Hospital of Fujian Province received a total of 64,602 COVID-19 vaccines from March 11 to November 11, 2021, including 34,331 (53.14%) first doses, 29,245 (45.27%) second doses, and 1026 (1.59%) third doses. This study found the highest proportion in other personnel (38.69% at the first dose, 38.75% at the second dose, and 2.44% at the third dose), who were mainly retirees. People with higher levels of education are more likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 during the early stages of vaccine rollout. In terms of age stratification, the highest proportion was found among people aged 18-49 (BBIBP-CorV: first dose 61%, second dose 62.6%, and third dose 76.8%; CoronaVac: first dose 66.1%, double dose 63.6%, and third dose 75.5%), followed by those over 60. The common adverse reactions were mainly local and systemic, and there were some differences between the 2 inactivated vaccines (P < 0.05).
This is the first study to analyze the actual status of hospitals as COVID-19 vaccination clinics in China. The hospital has focused on vaccinating citizens and the initial rollout of vaccines to ensure any safety issues are identified. More citizens are willing to vaccinate in hospitals because of the uncertain safety of the available vaccines and adverse reactions. The good news is that vaccine-related severe adverse events have not been found in the hospital vaccination clinic. The Safety of BBIBP-CorV and CoronaVac is relatively high.
We explore wall-attached structures in a drag-reduced turbulent channel flow with the Navier slip boundary condition. Three-dimensional coherent structures of the streamwise velocity fluctuations (u) are examined in an effort to assess the influence of wall-attached u structures on drag reduction. We extract the u clusters from the direct numerical simulation (DNS) data; the DNS data for the no-slip condition are included for comparison. The wall-attached structures, which are physically adhered to the wall, in the logarithmic region are self-similar with their height and contribute to the presence of logarithmic behaviour. The influence of the streamwise slip on wall-attached structures is limited up to the lower bound of the logarithmic region. Although wall-attached self-similar structures (WASS) slide at the wall, the formation and hierarchy of WASS are sustained. Weakened mean shear by the streamwise slip results in a diminution in the population density of wall-attached structures within the buffer layer, leading to sparse population of WASS. In contrast, the space occupied by WASS in the fluid domain increases. The streamwise slip induces long tails in the near-wall part of WASS, reminiscent of the footprints of large-scale motions. Both a decrease in the population density of WASS and a reduction in the density of skin friction of WASS are responsible for the overall drag reduction.
China's maritime militia groups have attracted much scholarly attention in recent years. Systematically funded and trained by the Chinese authorities, the militia groups help advance China's maritime claims but risk both intended and unintended physical clashes at sea. Based on the 2001 Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, this study explores the possibility of establishing and recognizing China's state responsibility in relation to the internationally wrongful conduct of its maritime militia. China's maritime militia groups blur the line between fishing boats and naval forces. In essence, they are empowered to perform the critical function of the Chinese government as provided by Chinese internal laws. As shown by emerging evidence, China's maritime militia groups are also instructed, directed, and/or controlled by the Chinese state organs including military authority and party leadership, both central and local. This study finds that the conduct of Chinese maritime militia constitutes the breach of China's international obligations in terms of (1) due regard for other states, (2) maritime safety, (3) marine environment protection and preservation, and/or (4) the overfishing ban.
Nosocomial transmission of COVID-19 among immunocompromised hosts can have a serious impact on COVID-19 severity, underlying disease progression and SARS-CoV-2 transmission to other patients and healthcare workers within hospitals. We experienced a nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in the setting of a daycare unit for paediatric and young adult cancer patients. Between 9 and 18 November 2020, 473 individuals (181 patients, 247 caregivers/siblings and 45 staff members) were exposed to the index case, who was a nursing staff. Among them, three patients and four caregivers were infected. Two 5-year-old cancer patients with COVID-19 were not severely ill, but a 25-year-old cancer patient showed prolonged shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA for at least 12 weeks, which probably infected his mother at home approximately 7–8 weeks after the initial diagnosis. Except for this case, no secondary transmission was observed from the confirmed cases in either the hospital or the community. To conclude, in the day care setting of immunocompromised children and young adults, the rate of in-hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was 1.6% when applying the stringent policy of infection prevention and control, including universal mask application and rapid and extensive contact investigation. Severely immunocompromised children/young adults with COVID-19 would have to be carefully managed after the mandatory isolation period while keeping the possibility of prolonged shedding of live virus in mind.
An 8-week feeding trial was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary vitamin D3 supplementation on the growth performance, tissue Ca and P concentrations, antioxidant capacity, immune response and lipid metabolism in Litopenaeus vannamei larvae. A total of 720 shrimp (initial weight 0·50 ± 0·01 g) were randomly distributed into six treatments, each of which had three duplicates of forty shrimp per duplicate. Six isonitrogenous and isolipidic diets were formulated to contain graded vitamin D3 (0·18, 0·23, 0·27, 0·48, 0·57 and 0·98 mg/kg of vitamin D3, measured) supplementation levels. The results revealed that L. vannamei fed diet containing 0·48 mg/kg of vitamin D3 achieved the best growth performance. Compared with the control group, supplementing 0·48 mg/kg of vitamin D3 significantly increased (P < 0·05) the activities of catalase, total antioxidative capacity, alkaline phosphatase and acid phosphatase in serum and hepatopancreas. Expression levels of antioxidant and immune-related genes were synchronously increased (P < 0·05). Carapace P and Ca concentrations were increased (P < 0·05) with the increased vitamin D3 supplementation levels. Further analysis of lipid metabolism-related genes expression showed that shrimp fed 0·48 mg of vitamin D3 per kg diet showed the highest value in the expression of lipid synthesis-related genes, while shrimp fed 0·98 mg of vitamin D3 per kg diet showed the highest value in the expression of lipolysis-related genes. In conclusion, the results of present study indicated that dietary supplementation of 0·48 mg/kg of vitamin D3 could increase Ca and P concentrations, improve antioxidant capacity and immune response, and influence lipid metabolism in L. vannamei.
Chronic inflammation exerts pleiotropic effects in the aetiology and progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Glucosamine is widely used in many countries and may have anti-inflammatory properties. We aimed to prospectively evaluate the association of regular glucosamine use with incident COPD risk and explore whether such association could be modified by smoking in the UK Biobank cohort, which recruited more than half a million participants aged 40–69 years from across the UK between 2006 and 2010. Cox proportional hazards models with adjustment for potential confounding factors were used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) as well as 95 % CI for the risk of incident COPD. During a median follow-up of 8·96 years (interquartile range 8·29–9·53 years), 9016 new-onset events of COPD were documented. We found that the regular use of glucosamine was associated with a significantly lower risk of incident COPD with multivariable adjusted HR of 0·80 (95 % CI, 0·75, 0·85; P < 0·001). When subgroup analyses were performed by smoking status, the adjusted HR for the association of regular glucosamine use with incident COPD were 0·84 (0·73, 0·96), 0·84 (0·77, 0·92) and 0·71 (0·62, 0·80) among never smokers, former smokers and current smokers, respectively. No significant interaction was observed between glucosamine use and smoking status (Pfor interaction = 0·078). Incident COPD could be reduced by 14 % to 84 % through a combination of regular glucosamine use and smoking cessation.
Oxidative stress causes several diseases and dysfunctions in cells, including oocytes. Clearly, oxidative stress influences oocyte quality during in vitro maturation and fertilization. Here we tested the ability of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and improve mouse oocyte quality during in vitro culture. Treatment with 50 μM CoQ10 efficiently reduced ROS levels in oocytes cultured in vitro. The fertilizable form of an oocyte usually contains a cortical granule-free domain (CGFD). CoQ10 enhanced the ratio of CGFD–oocytes from 35% to 45%. However, the hardening of the zona pellucida in oocytes was not affected by CoQ10 treatment. The in vitro maturation capacity of oocytes, which was determined by the first polar body extrusion, was enhanced from 48.9% to 75.7% by the addition of CoQ10 to the culture medium. During the parthenogenesis process, the number of two-cell embryos was increased by CoQ10 from 43.5% to 67.3%. Additionally, treatment with CoQ10 increased the expression of Bcl2 and Sirt1 in cumulus cells. These results suggested that CoQ10 had a positive effect on ROS reduction, maturation rate and two-cell embryo formation in mouse oocyte culture.
The findings regarding the associations between red meat, fish and poultry consumption, and the metabolic syndrome (Mets) have been inconclusive, and evidence from Chinese populations is scarce. A cross-sectional study was performed to investigate the associations between red meat, fish and poultry consumption, and the prevalence of the Mets and its components among the residents of Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou, China. A total of 4424 participants were eligible for the analysis. A logistic regression model was used to estimate the OR and 95 % CI for the prevalence of the Mets and its components according to red meat, fish and poultry consumption. In addition, the data of our cross-sectional study were meta-analysed under a random effects model along with those of published observational studies to generate the summary relative risks (RR) of the associations between the highest v. lowest categories of red meat, fish and poultry consumption and the Mets and its components. In the cross-sectional study, the multivariable-adjusted OR for the highest v. lowest quartiles of consumption was 1·23 (95 % CI 1·02, 1·48) for red meat, 0·83 (95 % CI 0·72, 0·97) for fish and 0·93 (95 % CI 0·74, 1·18) for poultry. In the meta-analysis, the pooled RR for the highest v. lowest categories of consumption was 1·20 (95 % CI 1·06, 1·35) for red meat, 0·88 (95 % CI 0·81, 0·96) for fish and 0·97 (95 % CI 0·85, 1·10) for poultry. The findings of both cross-sectional studies and meta-analyses indicated that the association between fish consumption and the Mets may be partly driven by the inverse association of fish consumption with elevated TAG and reduced HDL-cholesterol and, to a lesser extent, fasting plasma glucose. No clear pattern of associations was observed between red meat or poultry consumption and the components of the Mets. The current findings add weight to the evidence that the Mets may be positively associated with red meat consumption, inversely associated with fish consumption and neutrally associated with poultry consumption.
Echinococcus granulosus sensu lato has complex defence mechanisms that protect it from the anti-parasitic immune response for long periods. Echinococcus granulosus cyst fluid (EgCF) is involved in the immune escape. Nevertheless, whether and how EgCF modulates the inflammatory response in macrophages remains poorly understood. Here, real-time polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay revealed that EgCF could markedly attenuate the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced production of pro-inflammatory factors including tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-6 but increase the expression of IL-10 at mRNA and protein levels in mouse peritoneal macrophages and RAW 264.7 cells. Mechanically, western blotting and immunofluorescence assay showed that EgCF abolished the activation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB p65, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and ERK1/2 signalling pathways by LPS stimulation in mouse macrophages. EgCF's anti-inflammatory role was at least partly contributed by promoting proteasomal degradation of the critical adaptor TRAF6. Moreover, the EgCF-promoted anti-inflammatory response and TRAF6 proteasomal degradation were conserved in human THP-1 macrophages. These findings collectively reveal a novel mechanism by which EgCF suppresses inflammatory responses by inhibiting TRAF6 and the downstream activation of NF-κB and MAPK signalling in both human and mouse macrophages, providing new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the E. granulosus-induced immune evasion.
The aim of this study was to assess the current status of disease-related knowledge and to analyze the relationship among the general condition, illness perception, and psychological status of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted on 118 patients using convenience sampling. The general questionnaire, disease-related knowledge questionnaire of COVID-19, Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ), and Profile of Mood States (POMS) were used to measure the current status of participants.
The overall average score of the disease-related knowledge of patients with COVID-19 was (79.19 ± 14.25), the self-care situation was positively correlated with knowledge of prevention and control (r = 0.265; P = 0.004) and total score of disease-related knowledge (r = 0.206; P = 0.025); the degree of anxiety was negatively correlated with the knowledge of diagnosis and treatment (r = −0.182; P = 0.049). The score of disease-related knowledge was negatively correlated with negative cognition (volatility, consequences, emotional statements) and negative emotions (tension, fatigue, depression) (P < 0.05); positively correlated with positive cognition (disease coherence) and positive emotion (self-esteem) (P < 0.05).
It was recommended that we should pay more attention to the elderly and low-income groups, and increase the knowledge about diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and self-care in the future health education for patients.
A robotically assisted surgical system, the da Vinci surgical system (DVSS), is a sophisticated surgical platform equipped with immersive 3D visualization and dexterous articulating endoscopic instruments. Surgeons can intuitively control the surgical system to perform delicate surgical tasks. Robotic surgery has gained popularity globally ever since its birth and was approved to market by the China Food and Drug Administration in 2006. This study aims to map the current use of DVSSs in mainland China and the trends from 2009 to 2019.
A full-sample survey of all hospitals equipped with DVSSs was conducted in mainland China, collecting data on hospitals and surgical departments using DVSSs, operation volume, and time of installation. Disease classification was standardized to obtain DVSS use in each department. EXCEL software was used for logging and cleaning the data. The analysis focused on descriptive analysis to map trends of DVSS use in China and present geographical and department distribution.
The DVSSs installed have grown from seven in 2009 to 135 in 2019. By the end of 2019, twenty-eight provinces in China have been equipped with the DVSSs, among which eighty-seven in the eastern regions, twenty-seven in the central regions, and twenty-one in the western regions. The annual volume of operations grew from 339 in 2009 to 38,991 in 2019, at an annual rate of 60.7 percent. The average workload conducted by a single robot is much higher than that of their counterparts in other countries. The largest share of the volume is in department of urology (48%), followed by general surgery (25%) and thoracic surgery (13%).
The use of DVSSs in China has been growing rapidly and extensively, with certain differences between geographical regions and surgical departments. We need to further explore the factors affecting its use and operation efficiency and to evaluate the effectiveness as well as cost-effectiveness in real-world clinical practice to inform public policies on application of DVSS, for example, license and insurance.
Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) show a different stress-related cognitive style compared with healthy controls (HC). The FK506 binding protein 5 gene (FKBP5), one of the PTSD known risk factors, is involved in the stress response through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain volumetric alterations. The present study aimed to uncover the neural correlates of stress-related cognitive styles through the analysis of the regional brain volumes and FKBP5 genotype in patients with PTSD compared with HC.
In this study, 51 patients with PTSD and 94 HC were assessed for stress-related cognitive styles, PTSD symptoms severity, and genotype of FKBP5 single nucleotide polymorphisms, and underwent T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging. Diagnosis-by-genotype interaction for regional brain volumes was examined in 16 brain regions of interest.
Patients with PTSD showed significantly higher levels of catastrophizing, ruminative response, and repression, and reduced distress aversion and positive reappraisal compared with HC (p < 0.001). Significant diagnosis-by-genotype interactions for regional brain volumes were observed for bilateral hippocampi and left frontal operculum. A significant positive correlation between the severity of the repression and left hippocampal volume was found in a subgroup of patients with PTSD with FKBP5 rs3800373 (AA genotype) or rs1360780 (CC genotype).
The present study showed the influences of FKBP5 genotype on the distorted cognitive styles in PTSD by measuring the volumetric alteration of hippocampal regions, providing a possible role of the hippocampus and left frontal operculum as significant neurobiological correlates of PTSD.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by anxiety regarding social situations, avoidance of external social stimuli, and negative self-beliefs. Virtual reality self-training (VRS) at home may be a good interim modality for reducing social fears before formal treatment. This study aimed to find neurobiological evidence for the therapeutic effect of VRS.
Fifty-two patients with SAD were randomly assigned to a VRS or waiting list (WL) group. The VRS group received an eight-session VRS program for 2 weeks, whereas the WL group received no intervention. Clinical assessments and functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning with the distress and speech evaluation tasks were repeatedly performed at baseline and after 3 weeks.
The post-VRS assessment showed significantly decreased anxiety and avoidance scores, distress index, and negative evaluation index for ‘self’, but no change in the negative evaluation index for ‘other’. Patients showed significant responses to the distress task in various regions, including both sides of the prefrontal regions, occipital regions, insula, and thalamus, and to the speech evaluation task in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex. Among these, significant neuronal changes after VRS were observed only in the right lingual gyrus and left thalamus.
VRS-induced improvements in the ability to pay attention to social stimuli without avoidance and even positively modulate emotional cues are based on functional changes in the visual cortices and thalamus. Based on these short-term neuronal changes, VRS can be a first intervention option for individuals with SAD who avoid society or are reluctant to receive formal treatment.