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We demonstrate a fast adjoint-based method to optimise tokamak and stellarator equilibria against a pressure-driven instability known as the infinite-$n$ ideal ballooning mode. We present three finite-$\beta$ (the ratio of thermal to magnetic pressure) equilibria: one tokamak equilibrium and two stellarator equilibria that are unstable against the ballooning mode. Using the self-adjoint property of ideal magnetohydrodynamics, we construct a technique to rapidly calculate the change in the eigenvalue, a measure of ideal ballooning instability. Using the SIMSOPT optimisation framework, we then implement our fast adjoint gradient-based optimiser to minimise the eigenvalue and find stable equilibria for each of the three originally unstable equilibria.
Changes in abundance and distribution of marine top predators can indicate environmental change or anthropogenic pressure requiring management response. Here, we used an extensive dataset (21 years) to conduct a spatial and temporal analysis of grey seal strandings in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, close to the southern edge of the breeding range of the species. A total of 2007 strandings were reported from 2000 to 2020, increasing by 474% from 35 to 201 individuals per year during this period. The continued rise in strandings was consistent across all life stages and timeframes (5, 10 and 20 years), underpinning the suggestion of increasing abundance in the region. The observed seasonality differed by life stage, coinciding with the increased presence of animals near the coast for key life phases such as breeding, moulting and pupping. Strandings are widely distributed across the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; however, most strandings were recorded on the north coast of Cornwall (70%) where major pupping and haul out sites are found. Despite hosting several pupping and haul out sites, a small proportion was recorded on the Isles of Scilly (5%) where it is thought that strandings are particularly underreported. Describing baselines in magnitude of strandings and life-stage compositions across space and time allows future deviations in frequency, demographic composition or spatial distribution to be detected and investigated. We demonstrate the utility of long-term citizen science data to provide valuable and cost-effective information on the distribution and abundance of a highly mobile marine mammal.
To determine associations of alcohol use with cognitive aging among middle-aged men.
1,608 male twins (mean 57 years at baseline) participated in up to three visits over 12 years, from 2003–2007 to 2016–2019. Participants were classified into six groups based on current and past self-reported alcohol use: lifetime abstainers, former drinkers, very light (1–4 drinks in past 14 days), light (5–14 drinks), moderate (15–28 drinks), and at-risk drinkers (>28 drinks in past 14 days). Linear mixed-effects regressions modeled cognitive trajectories by alcohol group, with time-based models evaluating rate of decline as a function of baseline alcohol use, and age-based models evaluating age-related differences in performance by current alcohol use. Analyses used standardized cognitive domain factor scores and adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related factors.
Performance decreased over time in all domains. Relative to very light drinkers, former drinkers showed worse verbal fluency performance, by –0.21 SD (95% CI –0.35, –0.07), and at-risk drinkers showed faster working memory decline, by 0.14 SD (95% CI 0.02, –0.20) per decade. There was no evidence of protective associations of light/moderate drinking on rate of decline. In age-based models, light drinkers displayed better memory performance at advanced ages than very light drinkers (+0.14 SD; 95% CI 0.02, 0.20 per 10-years older age); likely attributable to residual confounding or reverse association.
Alcohol consumption showed minimal associations with cognitive aging among middle-aged men. Stronger associations of alcohol with cognitive aging may become apparent at older ages, when cognitive abilities decline more rapidly.
Susceptibility to infection such as SARS-CoV-2 may be influenced by host genotype. TwinsUK volunteers (n = 3261) completing the C-19 COVID-19 symptom tracker app allowed classical twin studies of COVID-19 symptoms, including predicted COVID-19, a symptom-based algorithm to predict true infection, derived from app users tested for SARS-CoV-2. We found heritability of 49% (32−64%) for delirium; 34% (20−47%) for diarrhea; 31% (8−52%) for fatigue; 19% (0−38%) for anosmia; 46% (31−60%) for skipped meals and 31% (11−48%) for predicted COVID-19. Heritability estimates were not affected by cohabiting or by social deprivation. The results suggest the importance of host genetics in the risk of clinical manifestations of COVID-19 and provide grounds for planning genome-wide association studies to establish specific genes involved in viral infectivity and the host immune response.
Clarifying the relationship between depression symptoms and cardiometabolic and related health could clarify risk factors and treatment targets. The objective of this study was to assess whether depression symptoms in midlife are associated with the subsequent onset of cardiometabolic health problems.
The study sample comprised 787 male twin veterans with polygenic risk score data who participated in the Harvard Twin Study of Substance Abuse (‘baseline’) and the longitudinal Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (‘follow-up’). Depression symptoms were assessed at baseline [mean age 41.42 years (s.d. = 2.34)] using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, Version III, Revised. The onset of eight cardiometabolic conditions (atrial fibrillation, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, myocardial infarction, sleep apnea, and stroke) was assessed via self-reported doctor diagnosis at follow-up [mean age 67.59 years (s.d. = 2.41)].
Total depression symptoms were longitudinally associated with incident diabetes (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.07–1.57), erectile dysfunction (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10–1.59), hypercholesterolemia (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.04–1.53), and sleep apnea (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.13–1.74) over 27 years after controlling for age, alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index, C-reactive protein, and polygenic risk for specific health conditions. In sensitivity analyses that excluded somatic depression symptoms, only the association with sleep apnea remained significant (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.09–1.60).
A history of depression symptoms by early midlife is associated with an elevated risk for subsequent development of several self-reported health conditions. When isolated, non-somatic depression symptoms are associated with incident self-reported sleep apnea. Depression symptom history may be a predictor or marker of cardiometabolic risk over decades.
Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with poorer cognitive function in older adults. Although understudied in middle-aged adults, the relationship between alcohol and cognition may also be influenced by genetics such as the apolipoprotein (ApoE) ε4 allele, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. We examined the relationship between alcohol consumption, ApoE genotype, and cognition in middle-aged adults and hypothesized that light and/or moderate drinkers (≤2 drinks per day) would show better cognitive performance than heavy drinkers or non-drinkers. Additionally, we hypothesized that the association between alcohol use and cognitive function would differ by ApoE genotype (ε4+ vs. ε4−).
Participants were 1266 men from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA; M age = 56; range 51–60) who completed a neuropsychological battery assessing seven cognitive abilities: general cognitive ability (GCA), episodic memory, processing speed, executive function, abstract reasoning, verbal fluency, and visuospatial ability. Alcohol consumption was categorized into five groups: never, former, light, moderate, and heavy.
In fully adjusted models, there was no significant main effect of alcohol consumption on cognitive functions. However, there was a significant interaction between alcohol consumption and ApoE ε4 status for GCA and episodic memory, such that the relationship of alcohol consumption and cognition was stronger in ε4 carriers. The ε4+ heavy drinking subgroup had the poorest GCA and episodic memory.
Presence of the ε4 allele may increase vulnerability to the deleterious effects of heavy alcohol consumption. Beneficial effects of light or moderate alcohol consumption were not observed.
TwinsUK is the largest cohort of community-dwelling adult twins in the UK. The registry comprises over 14,000 volunteer twins (14,838 including mixed, single and triplets); it is predominantly female (82%) and middle-aged (mean age 59). In addition, over 1800 parents and siblings of twins are registered volunteers. During the last 27 years, TwinsUK has collected numerous questionnaire responses, physical/cognitive measures and biological measures on over 8500 subjects. Data were collected alongside four comprehensive phenotyping clinical visits to the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London. Such collection methods have resulted in very detailed longitudinal clinical, biochemical, behavioral, dietary and socioeconomic cohort characterization; it provides a multidisciplinary platform for the study of complex disease during the adult life course, including the process of healthy aging. The major strength of TwinsUK is the availability of several ‘omic’ technologies for a range of sample types from participants, which includes genomewide scans of single-nucleotide variants, next-generation sequencing, metabolomic profiles, microbiomics, exome sequencing, epigenetic markers, gene expression arrays, RNA sequencing and telomere length measures. TwinsUK facilitates and actively encourages sharing the ‘TwinsUK’ resource with the scientific community — interested researchers may request data via the TwinsUK website (http://twinsuk.ac.uk/resources-for-researchers/access-our-data/) for their own use or future collaboration with the study team. In addition, further cohort data collection is planned via the Wellcome Open Research gateway (https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/gateways). The current article presents an up-to-date report on the application of technological advances, new study procedures in the cohort and future direction of TwinsUK.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
To describe treatment and referral patterns and National Health Service resource use in patients with chronic pain associated with low back pain or osteoarthritis, from a Primary Care perspective.
Osteoarthritis and low back pain are the two commonest debilitating causes of chronic pain, with high health and social costs, and particularly important in primary care. Understanding current practice and resource use in their management will inform health service and educational requirements and the design and optimisation of future care.
Multi-centre, retrospective, descriptive study of adults (⩾18 years) with chronic pain arising from low back pain or osteoarthritis, identified through primary care records. Five general practices in Scotland, England (two), Northern Ireland and Wales. All patients with a diagnosis of low back pain or osteoarthritis made on or before 01/09/2006 who had received three or more prescriptions for pain medication were identified and a sub-sample randomly selected then consented to an in-depth review of their medical records (n=264). Data on management of chronic pain were collected retrospectively from patients’ records for three years from diagnosis (‘newly diagnosed’ patients) or for the most recent three years (‘established’ patients).
Patients received a wide variety of pain medications with no overall common prescribing pattern. GP visits represented the majority of the resource use and ‘newly diagnosed’ patients were significantly more likely to visit their GP for pain management than ‘established’ patients. Although ‘newly diagnosed’ patients had more referrals outside the GP practice, the number of visits to secondary care for pain management was similar for both groups.
This retrospective study confirmed the complexity of managing these causes of chronic pain and the associated high resource use. It provides an in-depth picture of prescribing and referral patterns and of resource use.
Onymacris rugatipennis is one of several diurnal adesmiine tenebrionid beetles living in various habitats near Gobabeb in the Namib Desert, South West Africa.
Late in the active part of the female daily cycle and before they dig into the ground, females are often persistently followed by one or more males. Intruding male challenges to followers are commonplace. Following occurs during the latter phase of the morning and especially during the afternoon activity cycle. Early in these activity cycles the principle male activity is feeding. Males emerge in the morning earlier than females, and late in their activity period most males are engaged in following or attempts to dislodge other followers. Of the five diurnal adesmiine species living near Gobabeb, only the males of O. rugatipennis fight with one another and defend space. Their space is maintained above the site where a female has dug into the ground at midday or in the evening. Defense involves exclusion of other males from the immediate vicinity of the female. Alien males are immediately evicted, but on some occasions there are serious challenges. Pairs of males may engage in vigorous wrestling matches involving head butting, shoving, throwing, biting, and kicking. Evenly matched individuals may wrestle for over 30 min and for more than 20 falls. The winner of such encounters remains over the buried female. The last individual to hold the space in the evening may mate with the resident female. The observed behavior is not territorial in the sense that there are no mutually recognized frontiers. There is, however, exclusive use of space and aggressive defense of that space.
Social order is re-established daily. There are no persistent inter-individual bonds between males and females. Males may return to the general area but not the exact place where they held space the previous day. Many individuals move long distances from the place where they were active on the preceding day.
Larger males tend to win wrestling matches. However, males are on the average smaller than females. Since larval males live in the habitats occupied by females, adult male body size is apparently not limited by larval energy limits. Hence we conclude that small adult male body size conveys advantages which may outweigh the disadvantage in wrestling matches. Some of the possible selection relationships countering large male size are discussed.
Females reject most mating attempts by males when they are active on the surface. They exercise no choice in mate selection following burrowing. Hence the mating system results in mating by the most persistent male followers and aggressive individuals able to hold the space above the place where the female burrows into the ground.
This chapter describes the differential diagnosis, treatment, and outcome for severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI) or Dravet syndrome (DS). The frequency of convulsive seizures seems to correlate with the severity of developmental delay, suggesting that DS might be considered as a true epileptic encephalopathy. The frequency of detectable mutations in DS is around 70-80%; truncating mutations account for nearly 50% of the abnormalities with the remaining comprising splice-site and missense mutations. The repetition of febrile seizures and/or the prolonged convulsions with unilateral clinical features are clues orienting towards a diagnosis of DS. Children may manifest myoclonic seizures at onset and be misdiagnosed as having benign myoclonic epilepsy of infancy. Valproic acid, benzodiazepines, and topiramate have been proven to have some efficacy. Mortality rates are at around 16%, mainly as a result of sudden death or seizure-related accidents.