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ROCK inhibitor, Y-27632, reduces FBS-induced structural alteration in organ-cultured mesenteric artery

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 10:50am


Chronic treatment with fetal bovine serum (FBS) causes gradual vasoconstriction, vascular wall thickening, and contractility reduction in organ-cultured vascular tissues. We have previously demonstrated that Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) inhibitors prevent the functional alterations of small arteries in response to the FBS treatment. Here, we tested a further hypothesis that the chronic inhibition of ROCK has a protective effect on FBS-induced structural alterations.


To verify the new hypothesis, the rabbit mesenteric arterial rings were cultured in FBS-supplemented culture medium with or without Y-27632, a reversible ROCK inhibitor and then western blot, immunohistochemistry, apoptosis assay, and electron microscopy were performed using organ-cultured arterial rings.


Chronic treatment with Y-27632 maintained the arterial diameter by preventing FBS-induced gradual arterial constriction during organ culture. Y-27632 also reduced the apoptosis and the loss of contractile myosin and actin filaments of smooth muscle cells. In addition, Y-27632 protected the morphological integrity between the endothelial cell layer and smooth muscle cell layer by preventing endothelial cell detachment and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule (PECAM) expression decrement.


Chronic ROCK inhibition provides protective effects against FBS-stimulated structural in addition to functional alterations of vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. These results strongly suggest that the RhoA/ROCK signaling is crucial for maintaining the structural and functional phenotypes of vasculature, and hence, chronic ROCK inhibition may provide protective effects on excessive growth factor-related vascular diseases including hypertension and atherosclerosis.

Immortalized myogenic cells from congenital muscular dystrophy type1A patients recapitulate aberrant caspase activation in pathogenesis: a new tool for MDC1A research

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Congenital muscular dystrophy Type 1A (MDC1A) is a severe, recessive disease of childhood onset that is caused by mutations in the LAMA2 gene encoding laminin-alpha2. Studies with both mouse models and primary cultures of human MDC1A myogenic cells suggest that aberrant activation of cell death is a significant contributor to pathogenesis in laminin-alpha2-deficiency.

METHODS: To overcome the limited population doublings of primary cultures, we generated immortalized, clonal lines of human MDC1A myogenic cells via overexpression of both CDK4 and the telomerase catalytic component (human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)).

RESULTS: The immortalized MDC1A myogenic cells proliferated indefinitely when cultured at low density in high serum growth medium, but retained the capacity to form multinucleate myotubes and express muscle-specific proteins when switched to low serum medium. When cultured in the absence of laminin, myotubes formed from immortalized MDC1A myoblasts, but not those formed from immortalized healthy or disease control human myoblasts, showed significantly increased activation of caspase-3. This pattern of aberrant caspase-3 activation in the immortalized cultures was similar to that found previously in primary MDC1A cultures and laminin-alpha2-deficient mice.

CONCLUSIONS: Immortalized MDC1A myogenic cells provide a new resource for studies of pathogenetic mechanisms and for screening possible therapeutic approaches in laminin-alpha2-deficiency.

Evidence for biphasic uncoating during HIV-1 infection from a novel imaging assay

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Uncoating of the HIV-1 core plays a critical role during early post-fusion stages of infection but is poorly understood. Microscopy-based assays are unable to easily distinguish between intact and partially uncoated viral cores.

RESULTS: In this study, we used 5-ethynyl uridine (EU) to label viral-associated RNA during HIV production. At early time points after infection with EU-labeled virions, the viral-associated RNA was stained with an EU-specific dye and was detected by confocal microscopy together with viral proteins. We observed that detection of the viral-associated RNA was specific for EU-labeled virions, was detected only after viral fusion with target cells, and occurred after an initial opening of the core. In vitro staining of cores showed that the opening of the core allowed the small molecule dye, but not RNase A or antibodies, inside. Also, staining of the viral-associated RNA, which is co-localized with nucleocapsid, decays over time after viral infection. The decay rate of RNA staining is dependent on capsid (CA) stability, which was altered by CA mutations or a small molecule inducer of HIV-1 uncoating. While the staining of EU-labeled RNA was not affected by inhibition of reverse transcription, the kinetics of core opening of different CA mutants correlated with initiation of reverse transcription. Analysis of the E45A CA mutant suggests that initial core opening is independent of complete capsid disassembly.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our results establish a novel RNA accessibility-based assay that detects an early event in HIV-1 uncoating and can be used to further define this process.

Identification of both copy number variation-type and constant-type core elements in a large segmental duplication region of the mouse genome

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Copy number variation (CNV), an important source of diversity in genomic structure, is frequently found in clusters called CNV regions (CNVRs). CNVRs are strongly associated with segmental duplications (SDs), but the composition of these complex repetitive structures remains unclear.

RESULTS: We conducted self-comparative-plot analysis of all mouse chromosomes using the high-speed and large-scale-homology search algorithm SHEAP. For eight chromosomes, we identified various types of large SD as tartan-checked patterns within the self-comparative plots. A complex arrangement of diagonal split lines in the self-comparative-plots indicated the presence of large homologous repetitive sequences. We focused on one SD on chromosome 13 (SD13M), and developed SHEPHERD, a stepwise ab initio method, to extract longer repetitive elements and to characterize repetitive structures in this region. Analysis using SHEPHERD showed the existence of 60 core elements, which were expected to be the basic units that form SDs within the repetitive structure of SD13M. The demonstration that sequences homologous to the core elements (>70% homology) covered approximately 90% of the SD13M region indicated that our method can characterize the repetitive structure of SD13M effectively. Core elements were composed largely of fragmented repeats of a previously identified type, such as long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs), together with partial genic regions. Comparative genome hybridization array analysis showed that whereas 42 core elements were components of CNVR that varied among mouse strains, 8 did not vary among strains (constant type), and the status of the others could not be determined. The CNV-type core elements contained significantly larger proportions of long terminal repeat (LTR) types of retrotransposon than the constant-type core elements, which had no CNV. The higher divergence rates observed in the CNV-type core elements than in the constant type indicate that the CNV-type core elements have a longer evolutionary history than constant-type core elements in SD13M.

CONCLUSIONS: Our methodology for the identification of repetitive core sequences simplifies characterization of the structures of large SDs and detailed analysis of CNV. The results of detailed structural and quantitative analyses in this study might help to elucidate the biological role of one of the SDs on chromosome 13.

Development and evaluation of a crosswalk between the SF-36 physical functioning scale and Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index in rheumatoid arthritis

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: The SF-36 physical functioning scale (PF-10) and the Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index (HAQ-DI) are the most frequently used instruments for measuring self-reported physical function in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of this study was to develop a crosswalk between scores on the PF-10 and HAQ-DI in RA.

METHODS: Item response theory (IRT) methods were used to co-calibrate both scales using data from 1791 RA patients. The appropriateness of a Rasch-based crosswalk was evaluated by comparing it with crosswalks based on a two-parameter and a multi-dimensional IRT model. The accuracy of the final crosswalk was cross-validated using baseline (n = 532) and 6-month follow-up (n = 276) data from an independent cohort of early RA patients.

RESULTS: The PF-10 and HAQ-DI adequately fit a unidimensional Rasch model. Both scales measured a wide range of functioning, although the HAQ-DI tended to better target lower levels of functioning. The Rasch-based crosswalk performed similarly to crosswalks based on the two-parameter and multidimensional IRT models. Agreement between predicted and observed scale scores in the cross-validation sample was acceptable for group-level comparisons. The longitudinal validity in discriminating between disease response states was similar between observed and predicted scores.

CONCLUSION: The crosswalk developed in this study allows for converting scores from one scale to the other and can be used for group-level analyses in patients with RA.

Cancer-testis gene expression is associated with the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase 677 C>T polymorphism in non-small cell lung carcinoma

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Tumor-specific, coordinate expression of cancer-testis (CT) genes, mapping to the X chromosome, is observed in more than 60% of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Although CT gene expression has been unequivocally related to DNA demethylation of promoter regions, the underlying mechanism leading to loss of promoter methylation remains elusive. Polymorphisms of enzymes within the 1-carbon pathway have been shown to affect S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) production, which is the sole methyl donor in the cell. Allelic variants of several enzymes within this pathway have been associated with altered SAM levels either directly, or indirectly as reflected by altered levels of SAH and Homocysteine levels, and altered levels of DNA methylation. We, therefore, asked whether the five most commonly occurring polymorphisms in four of the enzymes in the 1-carbon pathway associated with CT gene expression status in patients with NSCLC.

METHODS: Fifty patients among a cohort of 763 with NSCLC were selected based on CT gene expression status and typed for five polymorphisms in four genes known to affect SAM generation by allele specific q-PCR and RFLP.

RESULTS: We identified a significant association between CT gene expression and the MTHFR 677 CC genotype, as well as the C allele of the SNP, in this cohort of patients. Multivariate analysis revealed that the genotype and allele strongly associate with CT gene expression, independent of potential confounders.

CONCLUSIONS: Although CT gene expression is associated with DNA demethylation, in NSCLC, our data suggests this is unlikely to be the result of decreased MTHFR function.

Telephone care coordination for smokers in VA mental health clinics: protocol for a hybrid type-2 effectiveness-implementation trial

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: This paper describes an innovative protocol for a type-II hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial that is evaluating a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program for Veterans Health Administration (VA) mental-health clinic patients. As a hybrid trial, the protocol combines implementation science and clinical trial methods and outcomes that can inform future cessation studies and the implementation of tobacco cessation programs into routine care. The primary objectives of the trial are (1) to evaluate the process of adapting, implementing, and sustaining a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program in VA mental health clinics, (2) to determine the effectiveness of the program in promoting long-term abstinence from smoking among mental health patients, and (3) to compare the effectiveness of telephone counseling delivered by VA staff with that delivered by state quitlines.

METHODS/DESIGN: The care coordination program is being implemented at six VA facilities. VA mental health providers refer patients to the program via an electronic medical record consult. Program staff call referred patients to offer enrollment. All patients who enroll receive a self-help booklet, mailed smoking cessation medications, and proactive multi-call telephone counseling. Participants are randomized to receive this counseling from VA staff or their state's quitline. Four primary implementation strategies are being used to optimize program implementation and sustainability: blended facilitation, provider training, informatics support, and provider feedback. A three-phase formative evaluation is being conducted to identify barriers to, and facilitators for, program implementation and sustainability. A mixed-methods approach is being used to collect quantitative clinical effectiveness data (e.g., self-reported abstinence at six months) and both quantitative and qualitative implementation data (e.g., provider referral rates, coded interviews with providers). Summative data will be analyzed using the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.

DISCUSSION: This paper describes the rationale and methods of a trial designed to simultaneously study the clinical effectiveness and implementation of a telephone smoking cessation program for smokers using VA mental health clinics. Such hybrid designs are an important methodological design that can shorten the time between the development of an intervention and its translation into routine clinical care.

Mitochondrial damage revealed by immunoselection for ALS-linked misfolded SOD1

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

Mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) selectively associates with spinal cord mitochondria in rodent models of SOD1-mediated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A portion of mutant SOD1 exists in a non-native/misfolded conformation that is selectively recognized by conformational antibodies. Misfolded SOD1 is common to all mutant SOD1 models, is uniquely found in areas affected by the disease and is considered to mediate toxicity. We report that misfolded SOD1 recognized by the antibody B8H10 is present in greater abundance in mitochondrial fractions of SOD1(G93A) rat spinal cords compared with oxidized SOD1, as recognized by the C4F6 antibody. Using a novel flow cytometric assay, we detect an age-dependent deposition of B8H10-reactive SOD1 on spinal cord mitochondria from both SOD1(G93A) rats and SOD1(G37R) mice. Mitochondrial damage, including increased mitochondrial volume, excess superoxide production and increased exposure of the toxic BH3 domain of Bcl-2, tracks positively with the presence of misfolded SOD1. Lastly, B8H10 reactive misfolded SOD1 is present in the lysates and mitochondrial fractions of lymphoblasts derived from ALS patients carrying SOD1 mutations, but not in controls. Together, these results highlight misfolded SOD1 as common to two ALS rodent animal models and familial ALS patient lymphoblasts with four different SOD1 mutations. Studies in the animal models point to a role for misfolded SOD1 in mitochondrial dysfunction in ALS pathogenesis.

Telomere length dynamics in human memory T cells specific for viruses causing acute or latent infections

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Declining telomere length (TL) is associated with T cell senescence. While TL in naive and memory T cells declines with increasing age, there is limited data on TL dynamics in virus-specific memory CD4+ T cells in healthy adults. We combined BrdU-labeling of virus-stimulated T cells followed with flow cytometry-fluorescent in situ hybridization for TL determination. We analyzed TL in T cells specific for several virus infections: non-recurring acute (vaccinia virus, VACV), recurring-acute (influenza A virus, IAV), and reactivating viruses (varicella-zoster virus, VZV, and cytomegalovirus, CMV) in 10 healthy subjects. Additionally, five subjects provided multiple blood samples separated by up to 10 years.

RESULTS: VACV- and CMV-specific T cells had longer average TL than IAV-specific CD4+ T cells. Although most virus-specific cells were CD45RA-, we observed a minor population of BrdU+ CD45RA+ T cells characterized by long telomeres. Longitudinal analysis demonstrated a slow decline in average TL in virus-specific T cells. However, in one subject, VZV reactivation led to an increase in average TL in VZV-specific memory T cells, suggesting a conversion of longer TL cells from the naive T cell repertoire.

CONCLUSIONS: TLs in memory CD4+ T cells in otherwise healthy adults are heterogeneous and follow distinct virus-specific kinetics. These findings suggests that the distribution of TL and the creation and maintenance of long TL memory T cells could be important for the persistence of long-lived T cell memory.

All purulence is local - epidemiology and management of skin and soft tissue infections in three urban emergency departments

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Skin and soft tissue infection (SSTIs) are commonly treated in emergency departments (EDs). While the precise role of antibiotics in treating SSTIs remains unclear, most SSTI patients receive empiric antibiotics, often targeted toward methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The goal of this study was to assess the efficiency with which ED clinicians targeted empiric therapy against MRSA, and to identify factors that may allow ED clinicians to safely target antibiotic use.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of patient visits for community-acquired SSTIs to three urban, academic EDs in one northeastern US city during the first quarter of 2010. We examined microbiologic patterns among cultured SSTIs, and relationships between clinical and demographic factors and management of SSTIs.

RESULTS: Antibiotics were prescribed to 86.1% of all patients. Though S. aureus (60% MRSA) was the most common pathogen cultured, antibiotic susceptibility differed between adult and pediatric patients. Susceptibility of S. aureus from ED SSTIs differed from published local antibiograms, with greater trimethoprim resistance and less fluoroquinolone resistance than seen in S. aureus from all hospital sources. Empiric antibiotics covered the resultant pathogen in 85.3% of cases, though coverage was frequently broader than necessary.

CONCLUSIONS: Though S. aureus remained the predominant pathogen in community-acquired SSTIs, ED clinicians did not accurately target therapy toward the causative pathogen. Incomplete local epidemiologic data may contribute to this degree of discordance. Future efforts should seek to identify when antibiotic use can be narrowed or withheld. Local, disease-specific antibiotic resistance patterns should be publicized with the goal of improving antibiotic stewardship.

Phylogeographic evidence of cognate recognition site patterns and transformation efficiency differences in H. pylori: theory of strain dominance

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Helicobacter pylori has diverged in parallel to its human host, leading to distinct phylogeographic populations. Recent evidence suggests that in the current human mixing in Latin America, European H. pylori (hpEurope) are increasingly dominant at the expense of Amerindian haplotypes (hspAmerind). This phenomenon might occur via DNA recombination, modulated by restriction-modification systems (RMS), in which differences in cognate recognition sites (CRS) and in active methylases will determine direction and frequency of gene flow. We hypothesized that genomes from hspAmerind strains that evolved from a small founder population have lost CRS for RMS and active methylases, promoting hpEurope's DNA invasion. We determined the observed and expected frequencies of CRS for RMS in DNA from 7 H. pylori whole genomes and 110 multilocus sequences. We also measured the number of active methylases by resistance to in vitro digestion by 16 restriction enzymes of genomic DNA from 9 hpEurope and 9 hspAmerind strains, and determined the direction of DNA uptake in co-culture experiments of hspAmerind and hpEurope strains.

RESULTS: Most of the CRS were underrepresented with consistency between whole genomes and multilocus sequences. Although neither the frequency of CRS nor the number of active methylases differ among the bacterial populations (average 8.6 +/- 2.6), hspAmerind strains had a restriction profile distinct from that in hpEurope strains, with 15 recognition sites accounting for the differences. Amerindians strains also exhibited higher transformation rates than European strains, and were more susceptible to be subverted by larger DNA hpEurope-fragments than vice versa.

CONCLUSIONS: The geographical variation in the pattern of CRS provides evidence for ancestral differences in RMS representation and function, and the transformation findings support the hypothesis of Europeanization of the Amerindian strains in Latin America via DNA recombination.

Engrafted human cells generate adaptive immune responses to Mycobacterium bovis BCG infection in humanized mice

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Currently used mouse models fail to fully reflect human immunity to tuberculosis (TB), which hampers progress in research and vaccine development. Bone marrow-liver-thymus (BLT) mice, generated by engrafting human fetal liver, thymus, and hematopoietic stem cells in severely immunodeficient NOD/SCID/IL-2Rgamma(-/-) (NSG) mice, have shown potential to model human immunity to infection. We engrafted HLA-A2-positive fetal tissues into NSG mice transgenically expressing human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2.1 (NSG-A2) to generate NSG-A2-BLT mice and characterized their human immune response to Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) infection to assess the utility of this model for investigating human TB.

RESULTS: NSG-A2-BLT mice were infected intravenously with BCG and the immune response of engrafted human immune cells was characterized. After ex vivo antigenic stimulation of splenocytes, interferon (IFN)-gamma-producing cells were detected by ELISPOT from infected, but not uninfected NSG-A2-BLT mice. However, the levels of secreted IFN-gamma, determined by ELISA, were not significantly elevated by antigenic stimulation. NSG-A2-BLT mice were susceptible to BCG infection as determined by higher lung bacillary load than the non-engrafted control NSG-A2 mice. BCG-infected NSG-A2-BLT mice developed lung lesions composed mostly of human macrophages and few human CD4+ or CD8+ T cells. The lesions did not resemble granulomas typical of human TB.

CONCLUSIONS: Engrafted human immune cells in NSG-A2-BLT mice showed partial function of innate and adaptive immune systems culminating in antigen-specific T cell responses to mycobacterial infection. The lack of protection was associated with low IFN-gamma levels and limited numbers of T cells recruited to the lesions. The NSG-A2-BLT mouse is capable of mounting a human immune response to M. tuberculosis in vivo but a quantitatively and possibly qualitatively enhanced effector response will be needed to improve the utility of this model for TB research.

CAM use among overweight and obese persons with radiographic knee osteoarthritis

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Obesity is associated with knee pain and is an independent predictor of incident knee osteoarthritis (OA); increased pain with movement often leads patients to adopt sedentary lifestyles to avoid pain. Detailed descriptions of pain management strategies by body mass index (BMI) level among OA patients are lacking. The objectives were to describe complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and conventional medication use by BMI level and identify correlates of CAM use by BMI level.

METHODS: Using Osteoarthritis Initiative baseline data, 2,675 patients with radiographic tibiofemoral OA in at least one knee were identified. Use of CAM therapies and conventional medications was determined by interviewers. Potential correlates included SF-12, CES-D, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index, and Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score quality of life. Multinomial logistic regression models adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical factors provided estimates of the association between BMI levels and treatment use; binary logistic regression identified correlates of CAM use.

RESULTS: BMI was inversely associated with CAM use (45% users had BMI >/=35 kg/m(2); 54% had BMI /m(2)), but positively associated with conventional medication use (54% users had BMI >/=35 kg/m(2); 35.1% had BMI /m(2)). Those with BMI >/=30 kg/m(2) were less likely to use CAM alone or in combination with conventional medications when compared to patients with BMI /m(2).

CONCLUSIONS: CAM use is common among people with knee OA but is inversely associated with BMI. Understanding ways to further symptom management in OA among overweight and obese patients is warranted.

FGF2-induced effects on transcriptome associated with regeneration competence in adult human fibroblasts

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Adult human fibroblasts grown in low oxygen and with FGF2 supplementation have the capacity to tip the healing outcome of skeletal muscle injury - by favoring regeneration response in vivo over scar formation. Here, we compare the transcriptomes of control adult human dermal fibroblasts and induced regeneration-competent (iRC) fibroblasts to identify transcriptional changes that may be related to their regeneration competence.

RESULTS: We identified a unique gene-expression profile that characterizes FGF2-induced iRC fibroblast phenotype. Significantly differentially expressed genes due to FGF2 treatment were identified and analyzed to determine overrepresented Gene Ontology terms. Genes belonging to extracellular matrix components, adhesion molecules, matrix remodelling, cytoskeleton, and cytokines were determined to be affected by FGF2 treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Transcriptome analysis comparing control adult human fibroblasts with FGF2-treated fibroblasts identified functional groups of genes that reflect transcriptional changes potentially contributing to their regeneration competence. This comparative transcriptome analysis should contribute new insights into genes that characterize cells with greater regenerative potential.

Activation of mammalian target of rapamycin mediates rat pain-related responses induced by BmK I, a sodium channel-specific modulator

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is known to regulate cell proliferation and growth by controlling protein translation. Recently, it has been shown that mTOR signaling pathway is involved in long-term synaptic plasticity. However, the role of mTOR under different pain conditions is less clear. In this study, the spatiotemporal activation of mTOR that contributes to pain-related behaviors was investigated using a novel animal inflammatory pain model induced by BmK I, a sodium channel-specific modulator purified from scorpion venom. In this study, intraplantar injections of BmK I were found to induce the activation of mTOR, p70 ribosomal S6 protein kinase (p70 S6K) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) in rat L5-L6 spinal neurons. In the spinal cord, mTOR, p70 S6K and 4E-BP1 were observed to be activated in the ipsilateral and contralateral regions, peaking at 1-2 h and recovery at 24 h post-intraplantar ( BmK I administration. In addition, intrathecal (i.t.) injection of rapamycin - a specific inhibitor of mTOR - was observed to result in the reduction of spontaneous pain responses and the attenuation of unilateral thermal and bilateral mechanical hypersensitivity elicited by BmK I. Thus, these results indicate that the mTOR signaling pathway is mobilized in the induction and maintenance of pain-activated hypersensitivity.

Laxative use and incident falls, fractures and change in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: results from the Women's Health Initiative

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Laxatives are among the most widely used over-the-counter medications in the United States but studies examining their potential hazardous side effects are sparse. Associations between laxative use and risk for fractures and change in bone mineral density [BMD] have not previously been investigated.

METHODS: This prospective analysis included 161,808 postmenopausal women (8907 users and 151,497 nonusers of laxatives) enrolled in the WHI Observational Study and Clinical Trials. Women were recruited from October 1, 1993, to December 31, 1998, at 40 clinical centers in the United States and were eligible if they were 50 to 79 years old and were postmenopausal at the time of enrollment. Medication inventories were obtained during in-person interviews at baseline and at the 3-year follow-up visit on everyone. Data on self-reported falls (>/=2), fractures (hip and total fractures) were used. BMD was determined at baseline and year 3 at 3 of the 40 clinical centers of the WHI.

RESULTS: Age-adjusted rates of hip fractures and total fractures, but not for falls were similar between laxative users and non-users regardless of duration of laxative use. The multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios for any laxative use were 1.06 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.10) for falls, 1.02 (95% CI, 0.85-1.22) for hip fractures and 1.01 (95% CI, 0.96-1.07) for total fractures. The BMD levels did not statistically differ between laxative users and nonusers at any skeletal site after 3-years intake.

CONCLUSION: These findings support a modest association between laxative use and increase in the risk of falls but not for fractures. Its use did not decrease bone mineral density levels in postmenopausal women. Maintaining physical functioning, and providing adequate treatment of comorbidities that predispose individuals for falls should be considered as first measures to avoid potential negative consequences associated with laxative use.

A case-control study of physical activity patterns and risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: The interactive effects of different types of physical activity on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk have not been fully considered in previous studies. We aimed to identify physical activity patterns that take into account combinations of physical activities and examine the association between derived physical activity patterns and risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

METHODS: We examined the relationship between physical activity patterns, identified by principal component analysis (PCA), and AMI risk in a case-control study of myocardial infarction in Costa Rica (N=4172), 1994-2004. The component scores derived from PCA and total METS were used in natural cubic spline models to assess the association between physical activity and AMI risk.

RESULTS: Four physical activity patterns were retained from PCA that were characterized as the rest/sleep, agricultural job, light indoor activity, and manual labor job patterns. The light indoor activity and rest/sleep patterns showed an inverse linear relation (P for linearity=0.001) and a U-shaped association (P for non-linearity=0.03) with AMI risk, respectively. There was an inverse association between total activity-related energy expenditure and AMI risk but it reached a plateau at high levels of physical activity (P for non-linearity=0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that a light indoor activity pattern is associated with reduced AMI risk. PCA provides a new approach to investigate the relationship between physical activity and CVD risk.

Sex differences in circumstances and consequences of outdoor and indoor falls in older adults in the MOBILIZE Boston cohort study

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Despite extensive research on risk factors associated with falling in older adults, and current fall prevention interventions focusing on modifiable risk factors, there is a lack of detailed accounts of sex differences in risk factors, circumstances and consequences of falls in the literature. We examined the circumstances, consequences and resulting injuries of indoor and outdoor falls according to sex in a population study of older adults.

METHODS: Men and women 65 years and older (N = 743) were followed for fall events from the Maintenance of Balance, Independent Living, Intellect, and Zest in the Elderly (MOBILIZE) Boston prospective cohort study. Baseline measurements were collected by comprehensive clinical assessments, home visits and questionnaires. During the follow-up (median = 2.9 years), participants recorded daily fall occurrences on a monthly calendar, and fall circumstances were determined by a telephone interview. Falls were categorized by activity and place of falling. Circumstance-specific annualized fall rates were calculated and compared between men and women using negative binomial regression models.

RESULTS: Women had lower rates of outdoor falls overall (Crude Rate Ratio (RR): 0.72, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.56-0.92), in locations of recreation (RR: 0.34, 95% CI: 0.17-0.70), during vigorous activity (RR: 0.38, 95% CI: 0.18-0.81) and on snowy or icy surfaces (RR: 0.55, 95% CI: 0.36-0.86) compared to men. Women and men did not differ significantly in their rates of falls outdoors on sidewalks, streets, and curbs, and during walking. Compared to men, women had greater fall rates in the kitchen (RR: 1.88, 95% CI: 1.04-3.40) and while performing household activities (RR: 3.68, 95% CI: 1.50-8.98). The injurious outdoor fall rates were equivalent in both sexes. Women's overall rate of injurious indoor falls was nearly twice that of men's (RR: 1.98, 95% CI: 1.44-2.72), especially in the kitchen (RR: 6.83, 95% CI: 2.05-22.79), their own home (RR: 1.84, 95% CI: 1.30-2.59) and another residential home (RR: 4.65, 95% CI: 1.05-20.66) or other buildings (RR: 2.29, 95% CI: 1.18-4.44).

CONCLUSIONS: Significant sex differences exist in the circumstances and injury potential when older adults fall indoors and outdoors, highlighting a need for focused prevention strategies for men and women.

Healthcare seeking for diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia among children in four poor rural districts in Sierra Leone in the context of free health care: results of a cross-sectional survey

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: To plan for a community case management (CCM) program after the implementation of the Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI), we assessed health care seeking for children with diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia in 4 poor rural districts in Sierra Leone.

METHODS: In July 2010 we undertook a cross-sectional household cluster survey and qualitative research. Caregivers of children under five years of age were interviewed about healthcare seeking. We evaluated the association of various factors with not seeking health care by obtaining adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence limits using a multivariable logistic regression model. Focus groups and in-depth interviews of young mothers, fathers and older caregivers in 12 villages explored household recognition and response to child morbidity.

RESULTS: The response rate was 93% (n=5951). Over 85% of children were brought for care for all conditions. However, 10.8% of those with diarrhoea, 36.5% of those with presumed pneumonia and 41.0% of those with fever did not receive recommended treatment. In the multivariable models, use of traditional treatments was significantly associated with not seeking outside care for all three conditions. Qualitative data showed that traditional treatments were used due to preferences for locally available treatments and barriers to facility care that remain even after FHCI.

CONCLUSION: We found high healthcare seeking rates soon after the FHCI; however, many children do not receive recommended treatment, and some are given traditional treatment instead of seeking outside care. Facility care needs to be improved and the CCM program should target those few children still not accessing care.

TNPO3 protects HIV-1 replication from CPSF6-mediated capsid stabilization in the host cell cytoplasm

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 4:25pm

BACKGROUND: Despite intensive investigation the mechanism by which HIV-1 reaches the host cell nucleus is unknown. TNPO3, a karyopherin mediating nuclear entry of SR-proteins, was shown to be required for HIV-1 infectivity. Some investigators have reported that TNPO3 promotes HIV-1 nuclear import, as would be expected for a karyopherin. Yet, an equal number of investigators have failed to obtain evidence that supports this model. Here, a series of experiments were performed to better elucidate the mechanism by which TNPO3 promotes HIV-1 infectivity.

RESULTS: To examine the role of TNPO3 in HIV-1 replication, the 2-LTR circles that are commonly used as a marker for HIV-1 nuclear entry were cloned after infection of TNPO3 knockdown cells. Potential explanation for the discrepancy in the literature concerning the effect of TNPO3 was provided by sequencing hundreds of these clones: a significant fraction resulted from autointegration into sites near the LTRs and therefore were not bona fide 2-LTR circles. In response to this finding, new techniques were developed to monitor HIV-1 cDNA, including qPCR reactions that distinguish 2-LTR circles from autointegrants, as well as massive parallel sequencing of HIV-1 cDNA. With these assays, TNPO3 knockdown was found to reduce the levels of 2-LTR circles. This finding was puzzling, though, since previous work has shown that the HIV-1 determinant for TNPO3-dependence is capsid (CA), an HIV-1 protein that forms a mega-dalton protein lattice in the cytoplasm. TNPO3 imports cellular splicing factors via their SR-domain. Attention was therefore directed towards CPSF6, an SR-protein that binds HIV-1 CA and inhibits HIV-1 nuclear import when the C-terminal SR-domain is deleted. The effect of 27 HIV-1 capsid mutants on sensitivity to TNPO3 knockdown was then found to correlate strongly with sensitivity to inhibition by a C-terminal deletion mutant of CPSF6 (R2 = 0.883, p < 0.0001). TNPO3 knockdown was then shown to cause CPSF6 to accumulate in the cytoplasm. Mislocalization of CPSF6 to the cytoplasm, whether by TNPO3 knockdown, deletion of the CPSF6 nuclear localization signal, or by fusion of CPSF6 to a nuclear export signal, resulted in inhibition of HIV-1 replication. Additionally, targeting CPSF6 to the nucleus by fusion to a heterologous nuclear localization signal rescued HIV-1 from the inhibitory effects of TNPO3 knockdown. Finally, mislocalization of CPSF6 to the cytoplasm was associated with abnormal stabilization of the HIV-1 CA core.

CONCLUSION: TNPO3 promotes HIV-1 infectivity indirectly, by shifting the CA-binding protein CPSF6 to the nucleus, thus preventing the excessive HIV-1 CA stability that would otherwise result from cytoplasmic accumulation of CPSF6.