Syndicate content
Recent documents in eScholarship@UMMS
Updated: 3 hours 31 min ago

UMCCTS Newsletter, September 2015

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:01am

This is the September 2015 issue of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science Newsletter containing news and events of interest.

Comparison of diagnostic performance of CT and MRI for abdominal staging of pediatric renal tumors: a report from the Children's Oncology Group

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 6:00am

BACKGROUND: CT and MRI are both used for abdominal staging of pediatric renal tumors. The diagnostic performance of the two modalities for local and regional staging of renal tumors has not been systematically evaluated.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the diagnostic performance of CT and MRI for local staging of pediatric renal tumors.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study population was derived from the AREN03B2 study of the Children's Oncology Group. Baseline abdominal imaging performed with both CT and MRI within 30 days of nephrectomy was available for retrospective review in 82 renal tumor cases. Each case was evaluated for capsular penetration, lymph node metastasis, tumor thrombus, preoperative tumor rupture, and synchronous contralateral lesions. The surgical and pathological findings at central review were the reference standard.

RESULTS: The sensitivity of CT and MRI for detecting capsular penetration was 68.6% and 62.9%, respectively (P = 0.73), while specificity was 86.5% and 83.8% (P = 1.0). The sensitivity of CT and MRI for detecting lymph node metastasis was 76.5% and 52.9% (P = 0.22), and specificity was 90.4% and 92.3% (P = 1.0). Synchronous contralateral lesions were identified by CT in 4/9 cases and by MRI in 7/9 cases.

CONCLUSION: CT and MRI have similar diagnostic performance for detection of lymph node metastasis and capsular penetration. MR detected more contralateral synchronous lesions; however these were present in a very small number of cases. Either modality can be used for initial loco-regional staging of pediatric renal tumors.

Induction chemotherapy followed by chemoradiotherapy compared with chemoradiotherapy alone for regionally advanced unresectable stage III Non-small-cell lung cancer: Cancer and Leukemia Group B

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 6:00am

PURPOSE: Standard therapy for unresectable stage III non-small-cell lung cancer includes concomitant chemoradiotherapy. In Cancer and Leukemia Group B 39801, we evaluated whether induction chemotherapy before concurrent chemoradiotherapy would result in improved survival.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between July 1998 and May 2002, 366 patients were randomly assigned to arm A, which involved immediate concurrent chemoradiotherapy with carboplatin area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) of 2 and paclitaxel 50 mg/m2 given weekly during 66 Gy of chest radiotherapy, or arm B, which involved two cycles of carboplatin AUC 6 and paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 administered every 21 days followed by identical chemoradiotherapy. The accrual goal was 360 patients.

RESULTS: Thirty-four percent of patients were female, 66% were male, and the median age was 63 years. Grade 3 or 4 toxicities during induction chemotherapy on arm B consisted mainly of neutropenia (18% and 20%, respectively). During concurrent chemoradiotherapy, there was no difference in severity of in-field toxicities of esophagitis (grade 3 and 4 were, respectively, 30% and 2% for arm A v 28% and 8% for arm B) and dyspnea (grade 3 and 4 were, respectively, 11% and 3% for arm A v 15% and 4% for arm B). Survival differences were not statistically significant (P = .3), with a median survival on arm A of 12 months (95% CI, 10 to 16 months) versus 14 months (95% CI, 11 to 16 months) on arm B and a 2-year survival of 29% (95% CI, 22% to 35%) and 31% (95% CI, 25% to 38%). Age, weight loss before therapy, and performance status were statistically significant predictive factors.

CONCLUSION: The addition of induction chemotherapy to concurrent chemoradiotherapy added toxicity and provided no survival benefit over concurrent chemoradiotherapy alone. The median survival achieved in each of the treatment groups is low, and the routine use of weekly carboplatin and paclitaxel with simultaneous radiotherapy should be re-examined.

Developing a multi-institutional PACS archive and designing processes to manage the shift from a film to a digital-based archive

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 6:00am

The Quality Assurance Review Center (QARC) works to improve the standards of care in treating cancer by improving the quality of clinical trials medicine. QARC operates as a data management and review center providing quality assurance services for multiple external groups including cooperative groups and pharmaceutical companies. As the medical world migrates from analog film to digital files, QARC has developed an innovative and unique digital imaging management system to accommodate this trend. As QARC acquires electronic data from institutions across six continents, the system is continually developed to accommodate Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) imaging originating from a wide variety of Picture Archival and Communications System (PACS) manufacturers, thus creating one of the largest and most diverse multi-institutional imaging archives in the cancer research community.

The effect of radiation timing on patients with high-risk features of parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma: an analysis of IRS-IV and D9803

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 5:59am

PURPOSE: Radiation therapy remains an essential treatment for patients with parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma (PMRMS), and early radiation therapy may improve local control for patients with intracranial extension (ICE).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: To address the role of radiation therapy timing in PMRMS in the current era, we reviewed the outcome from 2 recent clinical trials for intermediate-risk RMS: Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study (IRS)-IV and Children's Oncology Group (COG) D9803. The PMRMS patients on IRS-IV with any high-risk features (cranial nerve palsy [CNP], cranial base bony erosion [CBBE], or ICE) were treated immediately at day 0, and PMRMS patients without any of these 3 features received week 6-9 radiation therapy. The D9803 PMRMS patients with ICE received day 0 X-Ray Therapy (XRT) as well; however, those with either CNP or CBBE had XRT at week 12.

RESULTS: Compared with the 198 PMRMS patients from IRS-IV, the 192 PMRMS patients from D9803 had no difference (P < .05) in 5-year local failure (19% vs 19%), failure-free-survival (70% vs 67%), or overall survival (75% vs 73%) in aggregate. The 5-year local failure rates by subset did not differ when patients were classified as having no risk features (None, 15% vs 19%, P = .25), cranial nerve palsy/cranial base of skull erosion (CNP/CBBE, 15% vs 28%, P = .22), or intracranial extension (ICE, 21% vs 15%, P = .27). The D9083 patients were more likely to have received initial staging by magnetic resonance imaging (71% vs 53%).

CONCLUSIONS: These data support that a delay in radiation therapy for high-risk PMRMS features of CNP/CBBE does not compromise clinical outcomes.

Evaluation of smoking-specific and generic quality of life measures in current and former smokers in Germany and the United States

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: Health-related quality of life (QOL) surveys include generic measures that enable comparisons across conditions and measures that focus more specifically on one disease or condition. We evaluated the psychometric properties of German- and English-language versions of survey scales representing both types of measures in samples of current and former smokers.

METHODS: TQOLITv1 integrates new measures of smoking-specific symptoms and QOL impact attributed to smoking with generic SF-36 Health Survey measures. For purposes of evaluation, cross-sectional data were analyzed for two independent samples. Disease-free (otherwise healthy) adults ages 23-55 used a tablet to complete surveys in a clinical trial in Germany (125 current and 54 former smokers). Online general population surveys were completed in the US by otherwise healthy current and former smokers (N = 149 and 110, respectively). Evaluations included psychometric tests of assumptions underlying scale construction and scoring, score distributions, and reliability. Tests of validity included cross-sectional correlations and analyses of variance based on a conceptual framework and hypotheses for groups differing in self-reported smoking behavior (current versus former smoker, cigarettes per day (CPD)) and severity of smoking symptoms in both samples and, in the German trial only, clinical parameters of biomarkers of exposure.

RESULTS: Tests of scaling assumptions and internal consistency reliability (alpha = 0.71-0.79) of the smoking-specific measures were satisfactory, although ceiling effects attenuated correlations for former smokers in both samples. Correlational evidence supporting validity of smoking-specific symptom and impact measures included their substantial inter-correlation and higher correlations (than generic measures) with smoking behavior (favoring former over current groups) and CPD in both samples. In the German trial, both smoking-specific measures correlated significantly (p < 0.05) with all four biomarkers. QOL impact attributed to smoking correlated with the SF-36 mental but not physical summary measures in both samples.

CONCLUSIONS: German- and English-language TQOLITv1 surveys have comparable and satisfactory psychometric properties. Cross-sectional tests, including correlations with four biomarkers, support the validity of the new smoking-specific measures for use in studies of otherwise healthy smokers. Smoking-specific measures consistently performed better than generic QOL measures in all tests of validity.

A cluster randomized Hybrid Type III trial testing an implementation support strategy to facilitate the use of an evidence-based practice in VA homeless programs

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: The Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is one of the largest initiatives to end Veteran homelessness. However, mental health and substance use disorders continue to reduce client stability and impede program success. HUD-VASH programs do not consistently employ evidence-based practices that address co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. This paper presents a study protocol to evaluate the implementation of an evidence-based, co-occurring disorder treatment called Maintaining Independence and Sobriety Through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking-Veterans Edition (MISSION-Vet) in HUD-VASH using an implementation strategy called Getting To Outcomes (GTO).

METHODS/DESIGN: In three large VA Medical Centers, this Hybrid Type III trial will randomize case managers and their clients by HUD-VASH sub-teams to receive either MISSION-Vet Implementation as Usual (IU-standard training and access to the MISSION-Vet treatment manuals) or MISSION-Vet implementation augmented by GTO. In addition to testing GTO, effectiveness of the treatment (MISSION-Vet) will be assessed using existing Veteran-level data from the HUD-VASH data monitoring system. This project will compare GTO and IU case managers and their clients on the following variables: (1) fidelity to the MISSION-Vet intervention; (2) proportion of time the Veteran is housed; (3) mental health, substance use, and functional outcomes among Veterans; and (4) factors key to the successful deployment of a new treatment as specified by the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) model.

DISCUSSION: This project is an important step for developing an implementation strategy to increase adoption of evidence-based practice use in VA homeless programs, and to further examine efficacy of MISSION-Vet in HUD-VASH. This project has important implications for program managers, policy makers, and researchers within the homelessness field. VA Central IRB approval for this study was granted in October 2011. The three sites were trained on MISSION-Vet and GTO in the first half of 2013. The first GTO planning meetings began after training occurred, between January 2013 and November 2013, across the three sites. The data collection-via a fidelity measure embedded into the VA Computerized Patient Record System-began as each site initiated MISSION-Vet, between April 2013 and January 2014.


A practice-based randomized controlled trial to improve medication adherence among Latinos with hypertension: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: Latinos experience disproportionately higher rates of uncontrolled hypertension as compared to Blacks and Whites. While poor adherence is a major contributor to disparities in blood pressure control, data in Latino patients are scant. More importantly, translation of interventions to improve medication adherence in community-based primary care practices, where the majority of Latino patients receive their care is non-existent.

METHODS: Using a randomized controlled design, this study evaluates the effectiveness of a culturally tailored, practice-based intervention compared to usual care on medication adherence, among 148 Latino patients with uncontrolled hypertension who are non-adherent to their antihypertensive medications. Bilingual medical assistants trained as Health Coaches deliver the intervention using an electronic medical record system-embedded adherence script. Patients randomized to the intervention group receive patient-centered counseling with a Health Coach to develop individualized self-monitoring strategies to overcome barriers and improve adherence behaviors. Health Coach sessions are held biweekly for the first 3 months (6 sessions total) and then monthly for the remaining 3 months (3 sessions total). Patients randomized to the usual care group receive standard hypertension treatment recommendations as determined by their primary care providers. The primary outcome is the rate of medication adherence at 6 months. The secondary outcome is reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at 6 months.

DISCUSSION: If successful, findings from this study will provide salient information on the translation of culturally tailored, evidence-based interventions targeted at medication adherence and blood pressure control into practice-based settings for this high-risk population.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01643473 on 16 July 2012.

Infection of ectocervical tissue and universal targeting of T-cells mediated by primary non-macrophage-tropic and highly macrophage-tropic HIV-1 R5 envelopes

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: HIV-1 variants carrying non-macrophage-tropic HIV-1 R5 envelopes (Envs) are predominantly transmitted and persist in immune tissue even in AIDS patients who have highly macrophage-tropic variants in the brain. Non-macrophage-tropic R5 Envs require high levels of CD4 for infection contrasting with macrophage-tropic Envs, which can efficiently mediate infection of cells via low CD4. Here, we investigated whether non-macrophage-tropic R5 Envs from the acute stage of infection (including transmitted/founder Env) mediated more efficient infection of ectocervical explant cultures compared to non-macrophage-tropic and highly macrophage-tropic R5 Envs from late disease.

RESULTS: We used Env+ pseudovirions that carried a GFP reporter gene to measure infection of the first cells targeted in ectocervical explant cultures. In straight titrations of Env+ pseudovirus supernatants, mac-tropic R5 Envs from late disease mediated slightly higher infectivities for ectocervical explants although this was not significant. Surprisingly, explant infection by several T/F/acute Envs was lower than for Envs from late disease. However, when infectivity for explants was corrected to account for differences in the overall infectivity of each Env+ pseudovirus (measured on highly permissive HeLa TZM-bl cells), non-mac-tropic early and late disease Env+ pseudoviruses mediated significantly higher infection. This observation suggests that cervical tissue preferentially supports non-mac-tropic Env+ viruses compared to mac-tropic viruses. Finally, we show that T-cells were the main targets for infection regardless of whether explants were stimulated with T-cell or monocyte/macrophage cytokines. There was no evidence of macrophage infection even for pseudovirions carrying highly mac-tropic Envs from brain tissue or for the highly mac-tropic, laboratory strain, BaL, which targeted T-cells in the explant tissue.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data support ectocervical tissue as a favorable environment for non-mac-tropic HIV-1 R5 variants and emphasize the role of T-cells as initial targets for infection even for highly mac-tropic variants.

Increased number of circulating exosomes and their microRNA cargos are potential novel biomarkers in alcoholic hepatitis

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: It has been well documented that alcohol and its metabolites induce injury and inflammation in the liver. However, there is no potential biomarker to monitor the extent of liver injury in alcoholic hepatitis patients. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding RNAs that are involved in various physiologic and pathologic processes. In the circulation, a great proportion of miRNAs is associated with extracellular vesicles (EVs)/exosomes. Here, we hypothesized that the exosome-associated miRNAs can be used as potential biomarkers in alcoholic hepatitis (AH).

METHODS: Exosomes were isolated from sera of alcohol-fed mice or pair-fed mice, and plasma of alcoholic hepatitis patients or healthy controls by ExoQuick. The exosomes were characterized by transmission electron microscopy and Western blot and enumerated with a Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis system. Firefly microRNA Assay was performed on miRNA extracted from mice sera. TaqMan microRNA assay was used to identify differentially expressed miRNAs in plasma of cohort of patients with AH versus controls followed by construction of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the candidates.

RESULTS: The total number of circulating EVs was significantly increased in mice after alcohol feeding. Those EVs mainly consisted of exosomes, the smaller size vesicle subpopulation of EVs. By performing microarray screening on exosomes, we found nine inflammatory miRNAs which were deregulated in sera of chronic alcohol-fed mice compared to controls including upregulated miRNAs: miRNA-192, miRNA-122, miRNA-30a, miRNA-744, miRNA-1246, miRNA 30b and miRNA-130a. The ROC analyses indicated excellent diagnostic value of miRNA-192, miRNA-122, and miRNA-30a to identify alcohol-induced liver injury. We further validated findings from our animal model in human samples. Consistent with the animal model, total number of EVs, mostly exosomes, was significantly increased in human subjects with AH. Both miRNA-192 and miRNA-30a were significantly increased in the circulation of subjects with AH. miRNA-192 showed promising value for the diagnosis of AH.

CONCLUSION: Elevated level of EVs/exosomes and exosome-associated miRNA signature could serve as potential diagnostic markers for AH. In addition to the biomarker diagnostic capabilities, these findings may facilitate development of novel strategies for diagnostics, monitoring, and therapeutics of AH.

Hippocampal changes produced by overexpression of the human CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster may underlie cognitive deficits rescued by nicotine in transgenic mice

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

Addiction involves long-lasting maladaptive changes including development of disruptive drug-stimuli associations. Nicotine-induced neuroplasticity underlies the development of tobacco addiction but also, in regions such as the hippocampus, the ability of this drug to enhance cognitive capabilities. Here, we propose that the genetic locus of susceptibility to nicotine addiction, the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster, encoding the alpha5, alpha3 and beta4 subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), may influence nicotine-induced neuroadaptations. We have used transgenic mice overexpressing the human cluster (TgCHRNA5/A3/B4) to investigate hippocampal structure and function in genetically susceptible individuals. TgCHRNA5/A3/B4 mice presented a marked reduction in the dendrite complexity of CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons along with an increased dendritic spine density. In addition, TgCHRNA5/A3/B4 exhibited increased VGLUT1/VGAT ratio in the CA1 region, suggesting an excitatory/inhibitory imbalance. These hippocampal alterations were accompanied by a significant impairment in short-term novelty recognition memory. Interestingly, chronic infusion of nicotine (3.25 mg/kg/d for 7 d) was able to rescue the reduced dendritic complexity, the excitatory/inhibitory imbalance and the cognitive impairment in TgCHRNA5/A3/B4. Our results suggest that chronic nicotine treatment may represent a compensatory strategy in individuals with altered expression of the CHRNA5/A3/B4 region.

Symptom severity of bipolar disorder during the menopausal transition

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the mood symptom experience of women with bipolar disorder during the menopausal transition (MT). Yet times of rapid hormonal decline, such as the postpartum, are associated with increased risk of severe mood episodes in bipolar disorder, and the MT is a time of increased risk for unipolar depression in women with or without a history of depression.

METHODS: Enrollment included 56 women 40-60 years old diagnosed in the bipolar spectrum who were experiencing menopausal symptoms or were up to 5 years since their final menstrual period. Menopausal stages included early menopause, late menopause, or early postmenopause based on standardized criteria. Observational, prospective standardized mood symptom and reproductive hormone assessments were completed periodically. Concurrent menopausal symptoms as well as history of mood exacerbation during past reproductive events were assessed.

RESULTS: Forty-four women were included in the main analysis. The average Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score was 4.43 points higher in the late transition/early postmenopausal stage women (n = 29) compared to the early menopausal stage women (n = 15) (+/-SE 2.14; p = 0.039), corresponding to a roughly 10 % higher score (range 0-40) in the late/post stage across all study visits. Results were similar for the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), where the average score was 2.54 points higher in the late/early postmenopausal stage women compared to the early menopausal stage women (+/-SE 1.15; p = 0.027), also roughly 10 % higher (range 0-26). Estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) absolute levels as well as between-visit change in levels were not notably associated with YMRS or MADRS during study observation. Total Greene Climacteric Symptom (menopausal symptom) score was significantly associated with MADRS but not YMRS. History of mood exacerbation premenstrually and/or postpartum was not significantly associated with YMRS or MADRS severity during the MT.

CONCLUSIONS: These results support the theory that times of increased reproductive hormonal changes, such as the late MT and early postmenopause, here compared to early MT, are associated with greater mood symptom severity in bipolar spectrum women. Nonetheless, absolute or change in FSH and estradiol levels were not significantly associated with depression or mood elevation severity.

Pervasive and opposing effects of Unpredictable Chronic Mild Stress (UCMS) on hippocampal gene expression in BALB/cJ and C57BL/6J mouse strains

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: BALB/cJ is a strain susceptible to stress and extremely susceptible to a defective hedonic impact in response to chronic stressors. The strain offers much promise as an animal model for the study of stress related disorders. We present a comparative hippocampal gene expression study on the effects of unpredictable chronic mild stress on BALB/cJ and C57BL/6J mice. Affymetrix MOE 430 was used to measure hippocampal gene expression from 16 animals of two different strains (BALB/cJ and C57BL/6J) of both sexes and subjected to either unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) or no stress. Differences were statistically evaluated through supervised and unsupervised linear modelling and using Weighted Gene Coexpression Network Analysis (WGCNA). In order to gain further understanding into mechanisms related to stress response, we cross-validated our results with a parallel study from the GENDEP project using WGCNA in a meta-analysis design.

RESULTS: The effects of UCMS are visible through Principal Component Analysis which highlights the stress sensitivity of the BALB/cJ strain. A number of genes and gene networks related to stress response were uncovered including the Creb1 gene. WGCNA and pathway analysis revealed a gene network centered on Nfkb1. Results from the meta-analysis revealed a highly significant gene pathway centred on the Ubiquitin C (Ubc) gene. All pathways uncovered are associated with inflammation and immune response.

CONCLUSIONS: The study investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying the response to adverse environment in an animal model using a GxE design. Stress-related differences were visible at the genomic level through PCA analysis highlighting the high sensitivity of BALB/cJ animals to environmental stressors. Several candidate genes and gene networks reported are associated with inflammation and neurogenesis and could serve to inform candidate gene selection in human studies and provide additional insight into the pathology of Major Depressive Disorder.

A versatile reporter system for CRISPR-mediated chromosomal rearrangements

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

Although chromosomal deletions and inversions are important in cancer, conventional methods for detecting DNA rearrangements require laborious indirect assays. Here we develop fluorescent reporters to rapidly quantify CRISPR/Cas9-mediated deletions and inversions. We find that inversion depends on the non-homologous end-joining enzyme LIG4. We also engineer deletions and inversions for a 50 kb Pten genomic region in mouse liver. We discover diverse yet sequence-specific indels at the rearrangement fusion sites. Moreover, we detect Cas9 cleavage at the fourth nucleotide on the non-complementary strand, leading to staggered instead of blunt DNA breaks. These reporters allow mechanisms of chromosomal rearrangements to be investigated.

Distinct gene signatures in aortic tissue from ApoE-/- mice exposed to pathogens or Western diet

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease characterized by inflammation and accumulation of lipids in vascular tissue. Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) and Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cp) are associated with inflammatory atherosclerosis in humans. Similar to endogenous mediators arising from excessive dietary lipids, these Gram-negative pathogens are pro-atherogenic in animal models, although the specific inflammatory/atherogenic pathways induced by these stimuli are not well defined. In this study, we identified gene expression profiles that characterize P. gingivalis, C. pneumoniae, and Western diet (WD) at acute and chronic time points in aortas of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE-/-) mice.

RESULTS: At the chronic time point, we observed that P. gingivalis was associated with a high number of unique differentially expressed genes compared to C. pneumoniae or WD. For the top 500 differentially expressed genes unique to each group, we observed a high percentage (76%) that exhibited decreased expression in P. gingivalis-treated mice in contrast to a high percentage (96%) that exhibited increased expression in WD mice. C. pneumoniae treatment resulted in approximately equal numbers of genes that exhibited increased and decreased expression. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) revealed distinct stimuli-associated phenotypes, including decreased expression of mitochondrion, glucose metabolism, and PPAR pathways in response to P. gingivalis but increased expression of mitochondrion, lipid metabolism, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism, and PPAR pathways in response to C. pneumoniae; WD was associated with increased expression of immune and inflammatory pathways. DAVID analysis of gene clusters identified by two-way ANOVA at acute and chronic time points revealed a set of core genes that exhibited altered expression during the natural progression of atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- mice; these changes were enhanced in P. gingivalis-treated mice but attenuated in C. pneumoniae-treated mice. Notable differences in the expression of genes associated with unstable plaques were also observed among the three pro-atherogenic stimuli.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the common outcome of P. gingivalis, C. pneumoniae, and WD on the induction of vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis, distinct gene signatures and pathways unique to each pro-atherogenic stimulus were identified. Our results suggest that pathogen exposure results in dysregulated cellular responses that may impact plaque progression and regression pathways.

Feasibility, acceptability, and characteristics associated with adherence and completion of a culturally relevant internet-enhanced physical activity pilot intervention for overweight and obese young adult African American women enrolled in college

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: African American women are one of the least active demographic groups in the US, with only 36% meeting the national physical activity recommendations in comparison to 46% of White women. Physical activity begins to decline in African American women in adolescence and continues to decline into young adulthood. Yet, few interventions have been developed to promote physical activity in African American women during this critical period of life. The purpose of this article was to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a culturally-relevant Internet-enhanced physical activity pilot intervention for overweight/obese African American college females and to examine psychosocial and behavioral characteristics associated with intervention adherence and completion.

METHODS: A 6-month single group pre-posttest design was used. Participants (n = 27) accessed a culturally-relevant Social Cognitive Theory-based physical activity promotion website while engaging in a minimum of four moderate-intensity physical activity sessions each week. Acceptability and feasibility of the intervention was assessed by participant retention and a consumer satisfaction survey completed by participants.

RESULTS: Fifty-six percent of participants (n = 15) completed the intervention. Study completers were more physically active at baseline (P = 0.05) and had greater social support for exercise from family members (P = 0.04). Sixty percent of study completers (n = 9) reported the website as "enjoyable" or "very enjoyable" to use and 60% (n = 9) reported increased motivation from participation in the physical activity program. Moreover, 87% (n = 13) reported they would recommend the website to a friend.

CONCLUSIONS: Results provide some preliminary support for the acceptability and feasibility of an Internet-enhanced physical activity program for overweight/obese African American women, while highlighting important limitations of the approach. Successful promotion of physical activity in college aged African American women as they emerge into adulthood may result in the development of life-long healthy physical activity patterns which may ultimately reduce physical activity-related health disparities in this high risk underserved population. Future studies with larger samples are needed to further explore the use of Internet-based programs to promote physical activity in this population.

Progression of non-alcoholic steatosis to steatohepatitis and fibrosis parallels cumulative accumulation of danger signals that promote inflammation and liver tumors in a high fat-cholesterol-sugar diet model in mice

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a pandemic. While multiple 'hits' have been reported to contribute to NAFLD progression to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and liver cancer, understanding the natural history of the specific molecular signals leading to hepatocyte damage, inflammation and fibrosis, is hampered by the lack of suitable animal models that reproduce disease progression in humans. The purpose of this study was first, to develop a mouse model that closely mimics progressive NAFLD covering the spectrum of immune, metabolic and histopathologic abnormalities present in human disease; and second, to characterize the temporal relationship between sterile/exogenous danger signals, inflammation, inflammasome activation and NAFLD progression.

METHODS: Male C57Bl/6 mice were fed a high fat diet with high cholesterol and a high sugar supplement (HF-HC-HSD) for 8, 27, and 49 weeks and the extent of steatosis, liver inflammation, fibrosis and tumor development were evaluated at each time point.

RESULTS: The HF-HC-HSD resulted in liver steatosis at 8 weeks, progressing to steatohepatitis and early fibrosis at 27 weeks, and steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and tumor development at 49 weeks compared to chow diet. Steatohepatitis was characterized by increased levels of MCP-1, TNFalpha, IL-1beta and increased liver NASH histological score. We found increased serum levels of sterile danger signals, uric acid and HMGB1, as early as 8 weeks, while endotoxin and ATP levels increased only after 49 weeks. Increased levels of these sterile and microbial danger signals paralleled upregulation and activation of the multiprotein complex inflammasome. At 27, 49 weeks of HF-HC-HSD, activation of M1 macrophages and loss of M2 macrophages as well as liver fibrosis were present. Finally, similar to human NASH, liver tumors occurred in 41% of mice in the absence of cirrhosis and livers expressed increased p53 and detectable AFP.

CONCLUSIONS: HF-HC-HSD over 49 weeks induces the full spectrum of liver pathophysiologic changes that characterizes the progression of NAFLD in humans. NAFLD progression to NASH, fibrosis and liver tumor follows progressive accumulation of sterile and microbial danger signals, inflammasome activation, altered M1/M2 cell ratios that likely contribute to NASH progression and hepatic tumor formation.

Impact on survival of the number of lymph nodes resected in patients with lymph node-negative gastric cancer

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: Patients with lymph node-negative gastric cancer show a better overall survival rate than those who have a pathological lymph node-positive gastric cancer. But a large number of patients still develop recurrence. We aimed to explore the significant prognostic factors of lymph node-negative gastric cancer and determine how many lymph nodes should be removed.

METHODS: A total of 3103 patients who underwent radical operation are identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. Standard survival methods and restricted multivariable Cox regression models were applied.

RESULTS: The overall survival rate was significantly higher with an increasing number of negative lymph node resected. Among the 843 patients who had the exact T stage, the overall survival rate was significantly better in T3-4 group with more than 15 lymph nodes resected (P < 0.001) but not in T1-2 stage patients (P = 0.44). A further 25 more lymph nodes resection did not show additional survival benefits. Multivariate analysis of patients demonstrated that age, depth of tumor invasion, and the number of lymph nodes resected were the significant and independent prognostic factors.

CONCLUSIONS: A lymphadenectomy with more than 15 lymph nodes removal should be performed for T3-4 lymph node-negative gastric cancer. But the survival benefit of a lymphadenectomy with more than 25 lymph nodes removal is disputed. And the further treatment should refer to the prognostic indicators.

Neuroprotective effect of heme oxygenase-2 knockout in the blood injection model of intracerebral hemorrhage

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: The toxicity of heme breakdown products may contribute to the pathogenesis of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Heme catabolism is catalyzed by the heme oxygenase enzymes. We have previously reported that heme oxygenase-2 (HO-2), the constitutive isoform, protects neurons from hemin in vitro and reduces oxidative stress after striatal blood injection. In order to further evaluate HO-2 as a therapeutic target, we tested the hypothesis that HO-2 gene deletion protects neurons and attenuates behavioral deficits after ICH.

FINDINGS: Injection of 20 mul blood into the right striatum of HO-2 wild-type mice resulted in loss of approximately one third of striatal neurons 4-8 days later. Neuronal survival was significantly increased in HO-2 knockout mice at both time points. This was associated with reduced motor deficit as detected by the corner test; however, no differences were detected in spontaneous activity or the adhesive removal or elevated body swing tests.

CONCLUSION: HO-2 knockout attenuates perihematomal neuron loss in the blood injection ICH model, but has a weak and variable effect on neurological outcome.

Proyecto Mama: a lifestyle intervention in overweight and obese Hispanic women: a randomised controlled trial--study protocol

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 4:23am

BACKGROUND: The proportion of women entering pregnancy overweight or obese has been rising and, in turn, is associated with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Gestational weight gain (GWG) exceeding Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines further increases health risks and has been independently associated with postpartum weight retention. Hispanic women are disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity, but have had limited access to interventions that promote healthy lifestyles due to cultural, socioeconomic, and language barriers. Therefore, the overall goal of this randomized controlled trial is to test the efficacy of a culturally and linguistically modified, individually-tailored lifestyle intervention to reduce excess GWG, increase postpartum weight loss, and improve maternal metabolic status among overweight/obese Hispanic women.

METHODS/DESIGN: Overweight/obese Hispanic women are recruited in early pregnancy and randomly assigned to a Lifestyle Intervention (n = 150) or a Comparison Health and Wellness (control) intervention (n = 150). Multimodal contacts (i.e., in-person, telephone counseling, and mailed print-based materials) are used to deliver the intervention from early pregnancy (12 weeks gestation) to 6 months postpartum, with follow-up to 1 year postpartum. Targets of the intervention are to achieve IOM Guidelines for GWG and postpartum weight loss; American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologist guidelines for physical activity; and American Diabetes Association guidelines for diet. The intervention draws from Social Cognitive Theory and the Transtheoretical Model and includes strategies to address the specific social, cultural, and economic challenges faced by low-income Hispanic women. Assessments are conducted at baseline (~10 weeks gestation), mid pregnancy (24-28 weeks gestation), late pregnancy (32-34 weeks gestation) and postpartum at 6-weeks, 6-months, and 12-months by bicultural and bilingual personnel blinded to the intervention arm. Efficacy is assessed via GWG, postpartum weight loss, and biomarkers of glycemic control, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Changes in physical activity and diet are measured via 7-day accelerometer data and 24-h dietary recalls at each assessment time period.

DISCUSSION: Hispanic women are the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. and are disproportionately affected by overweight and obesity. This randomised trial uses a high-reach, low-cost strategy that can readily be translated into clinical practice in underserved and minority populations.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01868230 May 29, 2013.