Spatio-temporal distribution of dengue and lymphatic filariasis vectors along an altitudinal transect in Central Nepal
- Background: Rapidly increasing temperatures in the mountain region of Nepal and recent reports of dengue fever and lymphatic filariasis cases from mountainous areas of central Nepal prompted us to study the spatio-temporal distribution of the vectors of these two diseases along an altitudinal transect in central Nepal.
Methodology/Principal Findings: We conducted a longitudinal study in four distinct physiographical regions of central Nepal from September 2011 to February 2012. We used BG-Sentinel and CDC light traps to capture adult mosquitoes. We found the geographical distribution of the dengue virus vectors Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus along our study transect to extend up to 1,310 m altitude in the Middle Mountain region (Kathmandu). The distribution of the lymphatic filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus extended up to at least 2,100 m in the High Mountain region (Dhunche). Statistical analysis showed a significant effect of the physiographical region and month of collection on the abundance of A. aegypti and C. quinquefasciatus only. BG-Sentinel traps captured significantly higher numbers of A. aegypti than CDC light traps. The meteorological factors temperature, rainfall and relative humidity had significant effects on the mean number of A. aegypti per BG-Sentinel trap. Temperature and relative humidity were significant predictors of the number of C. quinquefasciatus per CDC light trap. Dengue fever and lymphatic filariasis cases had previously been reported from all vector positive areas except Dhunche which was free of known lymphatic filariasis cases.
Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that dengue virus vectors have already established stable populations up to the Middle Mountains of Nepal, supporting previous studies, and report for the first time the distribution of lymphatic filariasis vectors up to the High Mountain region of this country. The findings of our study should contribute to a better planning and scaling-up of mosquito-borne disease control programmes in the mountainous areas of Nepal.
Dengue fever, a viral disease transmitted by the bites of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, has been rapidly spreading in Nepal since it was first reported in this country in 2004. Similarly, lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes in Nepal, is a public health problem in terms of morbidity and impact on the social and economic status of poor people living in rural and slum areas. Evidence for more pronounced temperature rises in higher altitudes of Nepal and an increasing frequency of dengue fever and lymphatic filariasis cases reported from mountain areas, in the absence of recent data on the mosquito vectors of these diseases, prompted us to investigate their distribution and abundance in this country. In our study, we document the distribution of A. aegypti and A. albopictus from the lowlands up to 1,310 m altitude in Kathmandu, and the distribution of C. quinquefasciatus up to Dhunche (2,100 m altitude), the highest locality included in this study. The wide distribution of these important disease vectors in the mountains, previously considered non-endemic for dengue fever and lymphatic filariasis, calls for an extension and scaling-up of vector-borne disease surveillance and control programmes in Nepal.
Low energy shock wave therapy induces angiogenesis in acute hind-limb ischemia via VEGF receptor 2 phosphorylation
- Objectives: Low energy shock waves have been shown to induce angiogenesis, improve left ventricular ejection fraction and decrease angina symptoms in patients suffering from chronic ischemic heart disease. Whether there is as well an effect in acute ischemia was not yet investigated.
Methods: Hind-limb ischemia was induced in 10–12 weeks old male C57/Bl6 wild-type mice by excision of the left femoral artery. Animals were randomly divided in a treatment group (SWT, 300 shock waves at 0.1 mJ/mm2, 5 Hz) and untreated controls (CTR), n = 10 per group. The treatment group received shock wave therapy immediately after surgery.
Results: Higher gene expression and protein levels of angiogenic factors VEGF-A and PlGF, as well as their receptors Flt-1 and KDR have been found. This resulted in significantly more vessels per high-power field in SWT compared to controls. Improvement of blood perfusion in treatment animals was confirmed by laser Doppler perfusion imaging. Receptor tyrosine kinase profiler revealed significant phosphorylation of VEGF receptor 2 as an underlying mechanism of action. The effect of VEGF signaling was abolished upon incubation with a VEGFR2 inhibitor indicating that the effect is indeed VEGFR 2 dependent.
Conclusions: Low energy shock wave treatment induces angiogenesis in acute ischemia via VEGF receptor 2 stimulation and shows the same promising effects as known from chronic myocardial ischemia. It may therefore develop as an adjunct to the treatment armentarium of acute muscle ischemia in limbs and myocardium.
In vitro and in vivo evaluation of a hydrogel reservoir as a
continuous drug delivery system for inner ear treatment
- Fibrous tissue growth and loss of residual hearing after cochlear implantation can be reduced by application of the glucocorticoid dexamethasone-21-phosphate-disodium-salt (DEX). To date, sustained delivery of this agent to the cochlea using a number of pharmaceutical technologies has not been entirely successful. In this study we examine a novel way of continuous local drug application into the inner ear using a refillable hydrogel functionalized silicone reservoir. A PEG-based hydrogel made of reactive NCO-sP(EO-stat-PO) prepolymers was evaluated as a drug conveying and delivery system in vitro and in vivo. Encapsulating the free form hydrogel into a silicone tube with a small opening for the drug diffusion resulted in delayed drug release but unaffected diffusion of DEX through the gel compared to the free form hydrogel. Additionally, controlled DEX release over several weeks could be demonstrated using the hydrogel filled reservoir. Using a guinea-pig cochlear trauma model the reservoir delivery of DEX significantly protected residual hearing and reduced fibrosis. As well as being used as a device in its own right or in combination with cochlear implants, the hydrogel-filled reservoir represents a new drug delivery system that feasibly could be replenished with therapeutic agents to provide sustained treatment of the inner ear.
The IκB Kinase Complex Is Required for Plexin-B-Mediated Activation of RhoA
Ramesh K. Krishnan
Jakub M. Swiercz
- Plexins are widely expressed transmembrane proteins that mediate the cellular effects of semaphorins. The molecular mechanisms of plexin-mediated signal transduction are still poorly understood. Here we show that signalling via B-family plexins leading to the activation of the small GTPase RhoA requires activation of the IκB kinase (IKK)-complex. In contrast, plexin-B-dependent regulation of R-Ras activity is not affected by IKK activity. This regulation of plexin signalling depends on the kinase activity of the IKK-complex, but is independent of NF-κB activation. We confirm that the IKK-complex is active in tumour cells and osteoblasts, and we demonstrate that plexin-B-dependent tumour cell invasiveness and regulation of osteoblast differentiation require an active IKK-complex. This study identifies a novel, NF-κB-independent function of the IKK-complex and shows that IKK directs plexin-B signalling to the activation of RhoA.
Amygdalin Blocks Bladder Cancer Cell Growth In Vitro by Diminishing Cyclin A and cdk2
Roman A. Blaheta
- Amygdalin, a natural compound, has been used by many cancer patients as an alternative approach to treat their illness. However, whether or not this substance truly exerts an anti-tumor effect has never been settled. An in vitro study was initiated to investigate the influence of amygdalin (1.25–10 mg/ml) on the growth of a panel of bladder cancer cell lines (UMUC-3, RT112 and TCCSUP). Tumor growth, proliferation, clonal growth and cell cycle progression were investigated. The cell cycle regulating proteins cdk1, cdk2, cdk4, cyclin A, cyclin B, cyclin D1, p19, p27 as well as the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) related signals phosphoAkt, phosphoRaptor and phosphoRictor were examined. Amygdalin dose-dependently reduced growth and proliferation in all three bladder cancer cell lines, reflected in a significant delay in cell cycle progression and G0/G1 arrest. Molecular evaluation revealed diminished phosphoAkt, phosphoRictor and loss of Cdk and cyclin components. Since the most outstanding effects of amygdalin were observed on the cdk2-cyclin A axis, siRNA knock down studies were carried out, revealing a positive correlation between cdk2/cyclin A expression level and tumor growth. Amygdalin, therefore, may block tumor growth by down-modulating cdk2 and cyclin A. In vivo investigation must follow to assess amygdalin's practical value as an anti-tumor drug.
Effectiveness of low emission zones: large scale analysis of changes in environmental NO2, NO and NOx concentrations in 17 german cities
Jan David Alexander Groneberg
Michael F. Spallek
- Background: Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are areas where the most polluting vehicles are restricted from entering. The effectiveness of LEZs to lower ambient exposures is under debate. This study focused on LEZs that restricted cars of Euro 1 standard without appropriate retrofitting systems from entering and estimated LEZ effects on NO2, NO, and NOx ( = NO2+NO).
Methods: Continuous half-hour and diffuse sampler 4-week average NO2, NO, and NOx concentrations measured inside and outside LEZs in 17 German cities of 6 federal states (2005–2009) were analysed as matched quadruplets (two pairs of simultaneously measured index values inside LEZ and reference values outside LEZ, one pair measured before and one after introducing LEZs with time differences that equal multiples of 364 days) by multiple linear and log-linear fixed-effects regression modelling (covariables: e.g., wind velocity, amount of precipitation, height of inversion base, school holidays, truck-free periods). Additionally, the continuous half-hour data was collapsed into 4-week averages and pooled with the diffuse sampler data to perform joint analysis.
Results: More than 3,000,000 quadruplets of continuous measurements (half-hour averages) were identified at 38 index and 45 reference stations. Pooling with diffuse sampler data from 15 index and 10 reference stations lead to more than 4,000 quadruplets for joint analyses of 4-week averages. Mean LEZ effects on NO2, NO, and NOx concentrations (reductions) were estimated to be at most −2 µg/m3 (or −4%). The 4-week averages of NO2 concentrations at index stations after LEZ introduction were 55 µg/m3 (median and mean values) or 82 µg/m3 (95th percentile).
Conclusions: This is the first study investigating comprehensively the effectiveness of LEZs to reduce NO2, NO, and NOx concentrations controlling for most relevant potential confounders. Our analyses indicate that there is a statistically significant, but rather small reduction of NO2, NO, and NOx concentrations associated with LEZs.
Human Serum Albumin-Based Nanoparticle-Mediated In Vitro Gene Delivery
Mika O. Ruonala
- The genetic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases still remains a challenging task since many approaches fail to deliver the therapeutic material in relevant concentrations into the brain. As viral vectors comprise the risk of immune and inflammatory responses, human serum albumin (HSA) nanoparticles were found to represent a safer and more convenient alternative. Their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and deliver drugs into the brain in order to enhance gene-based therapy has been previously demonstrated. The present study deals with the development of pGL3-PEI-coated HSA nanoparticles and subsequent in vitro testing in cerebellar granular and HeLa cells. The luciferase control vector pGL3 was chosen as reporter plasmid encoding for the firefly luciferase protein, linear polyethylenimine (22 kDa) as endosomolytic agent for enhancing the cells’ transfection. Studies on particle characteristics, their cellular uptake into aforementioned cell lines and on subcellular localisation, and transfection efficiency in the cerebellar cells proved the feasibility of nanoparticle-based gene delivery.
Functional Validation and Comparison Framework for EIT Lung Imaging
- Introduction: Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is an emerging clinical tool for monitoring ventilation distribution in mechanically ventilated patients, for which many image reconstruction algorithms have been suggested. We propose an experimental framework to assess such algorithms with respect to their ability to correctly represent well-defined physiological changes. We defined a set of clinically relevant ventilation conditions and induced them experimentally in 8 pigs by controlling three ventilator settings (tidal volume, positive end-expiratory pressure and the fraction of inspired oxygen). In this way, large and discrete shifts in global and regional lung air content were elicited.
Methods: We use the framework to compare twelve 2D EIT reconstruction algorithms, including backprojection (the original and still most frequently used algorithm), GREIT (a more recent consensus algorithm for lung imaging), truncated singular value decomposition (TSVD), several variants of the one-step Gauss-Newton approach and two iterative algorithms. We consider the effects of using a 3D finite element model, assuming non-uniform background conductivity, noise modeling, reconstructing for electrode movement, total variation (TV) reconstruction, robust error norms, smoothing priors, and using difference vs. normalized difference data.
Results and Conclusions: Our results indicate that, while variation in appearance of images reconstructed from the same data is not negligible, clinically relevant parameters do not vary considerably among the advanced algorithms. Among the analysed algorithms, several advanced algorithms perform well, while some others are significantly worse. Given its vintage and ad-hoc formulation backprojection works surprisingly well, supporting the validity of previous studies in lung EIT.
Elevated Heart Rate Triggers Action Potential Alternans and Sudden Death. Translational Study of a Homozygous KCNH2 Mutation
Rafael J. Ramirez
Ralf P. Brandes
Stefan H. Hohnloser
Joachim R. Ehrlich
- Background: Long QT syndrome (LQTS) leads to arrhythmic events and increased risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD). Homozygous KCNH2 mutations underlying LQTS-2 have previously been termed “human HERG knockout” and typically express severe phenotypes. We studied genotype-phenotype correlations of an LQTS type 2 mutation identified in the homozygous index patient from a consanguineous Turkish family after his brother died suddenly during febrile illness.
Methods and Results: Clinical work-up, DNA sequencing, mutagenesis, cell culture, patch-clamp, in silico mathematical modelling, protein biochemistry, confocal microscopy were performed. Genetic analysis revealed a homozygous C-terminal KCNH2 mutation (p.R835Q) in the index patient (QTc ~506 ms with notched T waves). Parents were I° cousins – both heterozygous for the mutation and clinically unremarkable (QTc ~447 ms, father and ~396 ms, mother). Heterologous expression of KCNH2-R835Q showed mildly reduced current amplitudes. Biophysical properties of ionic currents were also only nominally changed with slight acceleration of deactivation and more negative V50 in R835Q-currents. Protein biochemistry and confocal microscopy revealed similar expression patterns and trafficking of WT and R835Q, even at elevated temperature. In silico analysis demonstrated mildly prolonged ventricular action potential duration (APD) compared to WT at a cycle length of 1000 ms. At a cycle length of 350 ms M-cell APD remained stable in WT, but displayed APD alternans in R835Q.
Conclusion: Kv11.1 channels affected by the C-terminal R835Q mutation display mildly modified biophysical properties, but leads to M-cell APD alternans with elevated heart rate and could precipitate SCD under specific clinical circumstances associated with high heart rates.
Structural Alterations of the Social Brain: A Comparison between Schizophrenia and Autism
Christine Margarete Freitag
- Autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia share a substantial number of etiologic and phenotypic characteristics. Still, no direct comparison of both disorders has been performed to identify differences and commonalities in brain structure. In this voxel based morphometry study, 34 patients with autism spectrum disorder, 21 patients with schizophrenia and 26 typically developed control subjects were included to identify global and regional brain volume alterations. No global gray matter or white matter differences were found between groups. In regional data, patients with autism spectrum disorder compared to typically developed control subjects showed smaller gray matter volume in the amygdala, insula, and anterior medial prefrontal cortex. Compared to patients with schizophrenia, patients with autism spectrum disorder displayed smaller gray matter volume in the left insula. Disorder specific positive correlations were found between mentalizing ability and left amygdala volume in autism spectrum disorder, and hallucinatory behavior and insula volume in schizophrenia. Results suggest the involvement of social brain areas in both disorders. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings and to quantify the amount of distinct and overlapping neural correlates in autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.