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  • January 18, 2017
  • 10:30 AM
  • 31 views

Finding Out if Dogs Like Cats - Or Not

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new study investigates the best way to find out if a dog will get on with cats.When dogs are waiting for adoption at a shelter, a common question is “what is the dog like with cats?” But at the moment there’s no validated way to test dogs to see if they will be friendly to cats.Some dogs become good friends with cats, but other dogs want to chase and kill them, so it would really help if shelters knew if a dog is cat-friendly.Sometimes the person who surrenders a dog will provide information, but typically this isn’t available. So staff may walk the dog past one of the shelter cats to see how it responds. This is potentially very stressful for the cat, and we don’t know if the dog’s response is typical of how it would behave away from the shelter environment.A new study by Dr. Christy Hoffman (Canisius College) et al sets out to investigate what a cat-friendliness assessment might look like. They tested pet dogs with a realistic-looking cat doll, recordings of cat sounds, and the smell of cat urine.Lead author Dr. Christy Hoffman told me in an email,“We had several cool findings. For one, dogs sniffed our control object (a stuffed pillowcase) more when it smelled like cat urine than when it did not; however, when our cat-like doll smelled like cat urine, the dogs did not invest any additional time into sniffing the cat doll than when it did not smell like cat urine. Our interpretation of what was going on in the dogs’ heads: “If it looks like a cat and smells like a cat, so what? If it doesn’t look like a cat but smells like one, that’s interesting!” To me, the finding suggests dogs perceived the cat-like doll as actually being cat-like. We thought that was interesting.The other main finding was that dogs that had a history of killing/injuring cats or other small animals spent significantly more time orienting to the cat sounds than dogs that did not have such a history. While we did not develop a shelter-based assessment tool that could predict which dogs are cat-appropriate as part of our study, we think the findings could contribute to the development of such a tool.”69 pet dogs of a variety of breeds and mixed-breeds took part in the study, which took place in a lab at Canisius College. 54 of the dogs happened to live with a cat.The study separated visual, auditory and olfactory information. The visual cat stimulus was an animatronic Persian cat doll manufactured by Hasbro. A control visual stimulus was made by sticking eyes on a pillow case and putting a motorized ball inside (so it still had eyes and moved, but was not cat-like).The auditory stimulus was a recording of cats miaowing, with a couple of growls too. The control was the sound of coins dropping.Half of the dogs took part in the olfactory condition in which the items smelled of cat urine, and the other half had no odour added.The dogs were video-taped to see how they responded to the inanimate cat toy vs control, the animated cat toy vs the animated control, and the cat sounds vs the coin sounds. The videos were analysed to see how much time each dog spent looking towards, focussing on and sniffing each stimulus.The dogs spent the same amount of time orienting to the cat stimulus, whether it was animated or inanimate. For the control visual stimulus, they spent longer orienting to it when it was animated (i.e. the balls were moving inside the pillow case).Dogs spent longer orienting to the cat sound compared to the control sound or the visual cat stimulus. They also spent more time orienting to the visual cat stimulus than the visual control, and to the control sound than the visual control.In other words, they were prioritizing the auditory information over visual, and they were most interested in the cat sounds.Dogs sniffed the cat doll more than the pillow case, whether or not they were in the olfactory condition in which both items smelled of cat pee. So this suggests they did find the cat doll to be cat-like, in much the same way dogs seem to find stuffed dogs dog-like.Whether or not the dog lived with a cat did not significantly affect the results.However, 4 of the dogs had previously killed or injured a cat, and 14 had previously killed or injured a small furry animal. So the researchers looked to see if there were any differences in behaviour between these dogs and those with no such history.They found the dogs with a history of killing/injuring a cat or other small furry creature spent longer orienting to the cat sounds than the other dogs. There was no effect for visual or olfactory information. This suggests that a test based on cat sounds might be a good way to separate out the dogs that would not be safe with cats.Future research on olfaction could use scent collected from cats’ scent glands (e.g. when the cat rubs on something) instead of urine, which might be more realistic.Developing assessments for shelter dogs is difficult. This study takes the first steps in finding out how to evaluate dogs to see if they get on with cats, without stressing any cats in the process. The results suggest focussing on auditory information could be a good way to find out.This is important research because a validated test to see if dogs are feline-friendly would be very useful for animal shelters.How does your dog get on with cats?ReferenceHoffman, C., Workman, M., Roberts, N., & Handley, S. (2017). Dogs’ responses to visual, auditory, and olfactory cat-related cues Applied Animal Behaviour Science DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2016.12.016Photos: shubbel (top) and TN Photographer (both Shutterstock.com)... Read more »

  • January 18, 2017
  • 04:30 AM
  • 37 views

Alterations in Leg Stiffness Following A Concussion May Lead to Changes in Return-to-Play Protocol

by Jane McDevitt in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

An athlete with a recent concussion has altered lower extremity stiffness at the leg, hip, and knee, which could increase their risk for musculoskeletal injury.... Read more »

Dubose DF, Herman DC, Jones DL, Tillman SM, Clugston JR, Pass A, Hernandez JA, Vasilopoulos T, Horodyski M, & Chmielewski TL. (2017) Lower Extremity Stiffness Changes after Concussion in Collegiate Football Players. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 49(1), 167-172. PMID: 27501359  

  • January 18, 2017
  • 03:13 AM
  • 37 views

Physical activity levels and autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Adolescents with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] spent less time in MVPA [moderate and vigorous physical activity] compared to TD [typically developing] adolescents (29 min/day vs. 50 min/day, p < 0.001) and fewer met the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (14 vs. 29%, p > 0.05)."So said the study results published by Heidi Stanish and colleagues [1] adding yet more to another growth autism research area - physical activity and exercise - a topic also fast becoming a repetitive blogging issue for me.It's not necessarily new news that physical activity and exercise levels are not what they could or should be for many people on the autism spectrum (see here) but rather that the use of objective measures such as accelerometers for data collection are starting to put some scientific flesh on previous 'what exercise did you do' type questionnaire studies. And the trend that is being revealed really is quite a disturbing one if one assumes that physical activity is a significant gateway to rude health and well-being, particularly in the context of ever-increasing waistlines and onward longitudinal effects. I might even point you in the direction of some new research hinting that MVPA in childhood might predict "fewer symptoms of major depressive disorders" later on; something that could be particularly relevant to autism in light of those over-represented comorbidities that I keep going on about (see here).Stanish et al have been mentioned before on this blog in the context of physical activity / exercise and autism and particularly the ways that said activity could be made more attractive to teens diagnosed on the autism spectrum (see here). Small steps and finding the right activity were some of the routes offered in that previous paper [2].Before I go I do want to briefly mention one point raised in the latest Stanish paper: "Walking/hiking and active video gaming were among the top activities for both groups." Both groups refers to adolescents with autism (n=35) and those described as typically developing (n=60) who were included for study (although much like the term 'neurotypical' I'm still at a loss as to the precise meaning of 'typically developing'). Walking/hiking... great, really worthwhile encouraging (see here) including exposing people to the great outdoors and that yellow thing usually high in the sky. 'Active videogaming' is something I'm a little less sure of at the moment and indeed, some people have talked about such 'exergaming' as being a poor substitute for the real thing [3]. I don't doubt that one can build up a sweat on something like those new-fangled 'watch my movement' games consoles that abound these days, but might such exergaming just further feed into the 'screen time' narrative that typically accompanies sedentary behaviours?And of the multiple correlates potentially attached to low levels of physical activity, one might also count bone health [4] among them as being relevant to at least some autism...----------[1] Stanish HI. et al. Physical Activity Levels, Frequency, and Type Among Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disorders. 2017. Jan 9.[2] Stanish H. et al. Enjoyment, Barriers, and Beliefs About Physical Activity in Adolescents With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder. Adapt Phys Activ Q. 2015 Oct;32(4):302-17.[3] Daley AJ. Can Exergaming Contribute to Improving Physical Activity Levels and Health Outcomes in Children? Pediatrics. 2009; 124: 2.[4] Neumeyer AM. et al. Bone microarchitecture in adolescent boys with autism spectrum disorder. Bone. 2017 Jan 11. pii: S8756-3282(17)30009-1.----------Stanish, H., Curtin, C., Must, A., Phillips, S., Maslin, M., & Bandini, L. (2017). Physical Activity Levels, Frequency, and Type Among Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-3001-4... Read more »

  • January 17, 2017
  • 05:05 PM
  • 47 views

Axl and GAS6: apoptotic mimicry and NLRP-3 inhibition during Zika Virus infection

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Zika Virus (ZIKV) is a positive sense RNA virus that belongs to the Flavivirus genus of the Flaviviridae family that includes other human pathogens including Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Yellow Fever Virus (YFV), West Nile Virus, Dengue Virus (DENV), Tick Borne Encephalitis Virus (TBEV), and Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV).
Although being first isolated in 1947, until recently ZIKV was not associated with severe disease; following the introduction of ZIKV in the Americas however, foetal ZIKV infection became associated with neonatal cognitive defects, including viral Microcephaly as well as GBS in adult patients.

Like other flaviviruses such as DENV or JEV, ZIKV entry into host cells is mediated by several cell surface receptors that belong to the Tyro3-Axl-Mer (TAM) family of receptor tyrosine kinases, T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain (TIM) phosphatidylserine (PS) and C-type lectin receptor families followed by endocytosis of the viral particle. As discussed in this post, activation of at least one of these receptors, Axl, by ZIKV might promote the inhibition of the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
... Read more »

Retallack H, Di Lullo E, Arias C, Knopp KA, Laurie MT, Sandoval-Espinosa C, Mancia Leon WR, Krencik R, Ullian EM, Spatazza J.... (2016) Zika virus cell tropism in the developing human brain and inhibition by azithromycin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(50), 14408-14413. PMID: 27911847  

El Costa H, Gouilly J, Mansuy JM, Chen Q, Levy C, Cartron G, Veas F, Al-Daccak R, Izopet J, & Jabrane-Ferrat N. (2016) ZIKA virus reveals broad tissue and cell tropism during the first trimester of pregnancy. Scientific reports, 35296. PMID: 27759009  

Quicke KM, Bowen JR, Johnson EL, McDonald CE, Ma H, O'Neal JT, Rajakumar A, Wrammert J, Rimawi BH, Pulendran B.... (2016) Zika Virus Infects Human Placental Macrophages. Cell host , 20(1), 83-90. PMID: 27247001  

Savidis, G., Perreira, J., Portmann, J., Meraner, P., Guo, Z., Green, S., & Brass, A. (2016) The IFITMs Inhibit Zika Virus Replication. Cell Reports, 15(11), 2323-2330. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.074  

Brass AL, Huang IC, Benita Y, John SP, Krishnan MN, Feeley EM, Ryan BJ, Weyer JL, van der Weyden L, Fikrig E.... (2009) The IFITM proteins mediate cellular resistance to influenza A H1N1 virus, West Nile virus, and dengue virus. Cell, 139(7), 1243-54. PMID: 20064371  

Bailey CC, Zhong G, Huang IC, & Farzan M. (2014) IFITM-Family Proteins: The Cell's First Line of Antiviral Defense. Annual review of virology, 261-283. PMID: 25599080  

Meertens L, Carnec X, Lecoin MP, Ramdasi R, Guivel-Benhassine F, Lew E, Lemke G, Schwartz O, & Amara A. (2012) The TIM and TAM families of phosphatidylserine receptors mediate dengue virus entry. Cell host , 12(4), 544-57. PMID: 23084921  

Bhattacharyya S, Zagórska A, Lew ED, Shrestha B, Rothlin CV, Naughton J, Diamond MS, Lemke G, & Young JA. (2013) Enveloped viruses disable innate immune responses in dendritic cells by direct activation of TAM receptors. Cell host , 14(2), 136-47. PMID: 23954153  

  • January 17, 2017
  • 07:03 AM
  • 43 views

Simultaneous near-Sun observations of a moving type IV radio burst and the associated white-light CME by K. Hariharan et al.*

by CESRA in Solar Radio Science

Quasi-continuum radio emissions of duration ~10-60 min that occur along with flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the solar atmosphere are termed as type IV bursts. The bursts are non-thermal in nature and can be classified into two categories, i.e. moving type IV (type IVm) bursts and stationary type [...]... Read more »

  • January 17, 2017
  • 04:28 AM
  • 54 views

Vitamin D supplementation and self-perceived fatigue

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Vitamin D treatment significantly improved fatigue in otherwise healthy persons with vitamin D deficiency."Supplementation details, described in the paper by Albina Nowak and colleagues [1] (open-access available here), were a single dose of 100,000 IU [international units] of vitamin D or a placebo (mannitol) administered to 120 adult participants who presented with "fatigue and vitamin D deficiency (serum 25(OH)D < 20 μg/L)." This was a double-blind trial and self-perceived fatigue was measured using the fatigue assessment scale (FAS) at baseline (before intervention) and after 4 weeks.This is an interesting paper but not without some issues. Use of the FAS is OK but I would have preferred to see something else accompanying the data derived from this schedule when it comes to something like self-reported fatigue. The authors did rely on a "short self-developed fatigue test (fatigue course assessment; FCA)" too during their study but I was thinking of something a little more standardised. Although data for some 120 participants were available for the study results , I was a little surprised to see that some 280 participants were initially screened for study inclusion; most of whom did not make the cut. The vast majority (n=103) were cut because "25-OH vitamin D levels >20 μg/L" or in other words, they were not classified as vitamin D deficient based on analysis by immunoassay. Bearing in mind the idea that deficiency is not the only categorisation when it comes to vitamin D and not everyone agrees where deficiency actually starts and stops, I'd perhaps have liked to have seen some more information about those excluded, particularly those on the periphery of being classified as deficient and what supplementation might have meant for them.It's also interesting to see the strength of the placebo effect when it came to the study results as alongside the 70%+ who reported "amelioration" of fatigue who were actually in receipt of vitamin D, so half of the placebo group also registered the same/similar improvement. As far as I know mannitol is not known as a fatigue reducing agent so there's potentially something more going on here. "A significant increase in 25-OH vitamin D was observed in vitamin D but not in placebo-treated participants." Given the supplementation of vitamin D at such a high dose it's perhaps not surprising that vitamin D levels went up for those consuming the supplement.The Nowak results do stand, and even though they were based on self-reported fatigue in an otherwise healthy cohort, I do wonder whether there may be some tie-ups with other independent study (see here for example). Accepting that there may be many reasons for fatigue, I'm also inclined to point out that for perhaps at least a subset of those diagnosed with something like chronic fatigue [syndrome], there could be some additional studies to undertake bearing in mind the authors assertion that: "our study results are not generalizable to CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome]."To close, what if ‘There's Something About Mary’ was trailed as a Psychological Thriller?----------[1] Nowak A. et al. Effect of vitamin D3 on self-perceived fatigue: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Dec;95(52):e5353.----------Nowak A, Boesch L, Andres E, Battegay E, Hornemann T, Schmid C, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Suter PM, & Krayenbuehl PA (2016). Effect of vitamin D3 on self-perceived fatigue: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Medicine, 95 (52) PMID: 28033244... Read more »

Nowak A, Boesch L, Andres E, Battegay E, Hornemann T, Schmid C, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Suter PM, & Krayenbuehl PA. (2016) Effect of vitamin D3 on self-perceived fatigue: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Medicine, 95(52). PMID: 28033244  

  • January 16, 2017
  • 04:29 PM
  • 52 views

Op, Op, Op. The Neuroscience of Gangnam Style?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

"Our results revealed characteristic patterns of brain activity associated with Gangnam Style". So say the authors of a new paper called Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon.



The authors, Qiaozhen Chen et al. from Zhejiang in China, used fMRI to record brain activity while 15 volunteers listened to two musical pieces: Psy's 'Gangnam Style' and a "light music" control, Richard Clayderman's piano piece 'A Comme Amour'.

Chen et al. say that Gangnam Style was associated with "... Read more »

Chen Q, Zhang Y, Hou H, Du F, Wu S, Chen L, Shen Y, Chao F, Chung JK, Zhang H.... (2017) Neural correlates of the popular music phenomenon: evidence from functional MRI and PET imaging. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. PMID: 28083689  

  • January 16, 2017
  • 12:50 PM
  • 58 views

Five things to consider when designing a policy to measure research impact [Originally published in The Conversation]

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

The move of the Australian government to measure the impact of university research on society introduces many new challenges that were not previously relevant when evaluation focused solely on academic merit. … Read More →... Read more »

  • January 16, 2017
  • 09:52 AM
  • 52 views

Simple Jury Persuasion: Using your expert  witnesses’ hands help persuade jurors

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

You may have seen our blog post where we talk about research that informs us in patent work to either allow jurors to examine a disputed invention up close or to simply have them view it from a distance. Which strategy we recommend you use all depends on the evidence and your specific case. Today, […]... Read more »

Vallée-Tourangeau F, Steffensen SV, Vallée-Tourangeau G, & Sirota M. (2016) Insight with hands and things. Acta Psychologica, 195-205. PMID: 27569687  

  • January 16, 2017
  • 03:11 AM
  • 75 views

Autism-like traits and/or autism elevated in psychosis

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Rates of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and ASD traits are elevated in a psychosis population."The paper by Debbie Kincaid and colleagues [1] provides yet more [short] blogging material pertinent to the increasing interest in how psychosis may be yet another comorbidity over-represented when it comes to autism (see here) and vice-versa. I know this is another topic that has to be treated with some caution in terms of concepts like stigma but more discussions - science discussions - are needed to ensure that appropriate screening, diagnosis and also management is available to those who might need it.A systematic review was the name of the research game for Kincaid et al as seven studies "reporting prevalence rates of Autistic-like Traits (ALTs) and ASD in populations with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder" were included. The results weren't exactly precise in terms of what was reported as anywhere between 9-61% of those diagnosed with psychosis presented with those ALTs and between 1-52% of those with psychosis were also diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The authors however are correct when they point out that the "prevalence rates of ALTs and ASD in psychosis populations are much higher than in the general population." Quite a bit higher if one looks at the top end of those prevalence stats.I'll leave it at that for now.----------[1] Kincaid DL. et al. What is the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder and ASD traits in psychosis? A systematic review. Psychiatry Research. 2017. Jan 6.----------Kincaid, D., Doris, M., Shannon, C., & Mulholland, C. (2017). What is the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder and ASD traits in psychosis? A systematic review Psychiatry Research DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.01.017... Read more »

  • January 15, 2017
  • 07:04 AM
  • 104 views

What Differential-K Theory gets Wrong about Race Differences in Sexuality

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

This post critiques a study that attempted to test predictions of differential-K theory about racial differences in sexuality using data from a Durex condom survey. Better, more scientific data addresses this topic, and fails to confirm the predictions of this theory.... Read more »

Dutton, E., van der Linden, D., & Lynn, R. (2016) Population differences in androgen levels: A test of the Differential K theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 289-295. info:/

  • January 15, 2017
  • 06:05 AM
  • 84 views

Population Differences in Androgens Fail to Validate Richard Lynn's Claims about Racial Differences in Penis Size

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

The author of a study on population differences in androgens claimed that his findings support Lynn's claims about racial differences in penis length. Close analysis of the statistics used shows these conclusions are invalid.... Read more »

Dutton, E., van der Linden, D., & Lynn, R. (2016) Population differences in androgen levels: A test of the Differential K theory. Personality and Individual Differences, 289-295. info:/

  • January 15, 2017
  • 05:45 AM
  • 90 views

“World’s toughest bacterium” - Deinococcus radiodurans

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

The bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans, is thought to be discovered as a contaminant in radiation-sterilized cans in 1960s. The name of the bacterium comes from the Ancient Greek, i.e. deinos and kokkos meaning “terrible grain/berry”, and the Latin language, i.e. radius and durare, meaning “radiation surviving”. The bacterium is also known as Conan the Bacterium.

Deinococcus radiodurans is a comparatively larger bacterium having spherical shape. It is a red-pigmented bacterium that does not cause diseases. The bacterium also possesses a highly efficient DNA repair system that is thought to be responsible for the unbelievable survival strategies.

It is considered as the toughest bacterium in the world as it is highly resistant to radiations, i.e. it can resist thousand times more radiation as compared to a normal person. The bacterium also has a strong ability to survive in conditions of cold, vacuum, dehydration, and acid. Therefore, it is also known as polyextremophile.

Deinococcus radiodurans in a dish (Source: science.nasa.gov)
Deinococcus radiodurans in a dish (Source: science.nasa.gov)
Deinococcus radiodurans has also been used by scientists for the consumption and digestion of solvents as well as heavy metals. It is also thought to have an ability to store information that can survive even after huge catastrophes.

Sources:

Data stored in multiplying bacteria – https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3243-data-stored-in-multiplying-bacteria/

Genome News Network – http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/07_02/deinococcus.shtml

The Possible Mechanisms Involved in the Protection Strategies against Radiation-Induced Cellular Damage by Carnitines – http://file.scirp.org/Html/1-2101023_53873.htm

Krisko, A., & Radman, M. (2013). Biology of Extreme Radiation Resistance: The Way of Deinococcus radiodurans Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 5 (7) DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a012765

Meet Conan the Bacterium – https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/ast14dec99_1... Read more »

  • January 15, 2017
  • 03:47 AM
  • 94 views

Neuroscience Can't Heal a Divided Nation

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic




Brain activation during challenges to political vs. non-political beliefs (Figure modified from Kaplan et al., 2016).


Lately I've been despairing about the state of America.




I'm not sure how denying access to affordable health care, opposing scientific facts like global warming and the benefits of vaccines, alienating our allies, banning Muslims, building a wall, endorsing torture, and

... Read more »

  • January 14, 2017
  • 11:53 AM
  • 107 views

What Can fMRI Tell Us About Mental Illness?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A remarkable and troubling new paper: Addressing reverse inference in psychiatric neuroimaging: Meta-analyses of task-related brain activation in common mental disorders



Icahn School of Medicine researchers Emma Sprooten and colleagues carried out an ambitious task: to pull together the results of every fMRI study which has compared task-related brain activation in people with a mental illness and healthy controls.

Sprooten et al.'s analysis included 537 studies with a total of 21,427 ... Read more »

  • January 14, 2017
  • 04:35 AM
  • 190 views

No significant difference in circulating cytokines in autism vs controls?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"As compared with 54 typically developing controls, we found no evidence of differences in the blood profile of immune mediators supportive of active systemic inflammation mechanisms in participants with autism."That was the unexpected research bottom-line published by Carlos Pardo and colleagues [1] (open-access) examining whether various immune-related chemicals - "cytokines, chemokines, or growth factors in serum and cerebrospinal fluid" - might be linked to autism following longitudinal assessment. By longitudinal I mean that: "Up to four serum samples and up to two CSF samples were obtained from participants, at intervals ranging from 9–24 months, and stored until simultaneous laboratory analysis.""Participants were drawn from a longitudinal study of autism" we are told, the aim of which was 'to learn more about autism and its subtypes'. Indeed, some of the research attached to this cohort has been previously discussed on this blog (see here) and for example, the suggestion that the horror that is a gluten- and/or casein-free diet used in the context of autism might not be as horrible as many people might think [2]. This time around serum samples were available for over 100 children diagnosed with autism and some 54 not-autism controls. Sixty-seven of the children with autism also provided a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample taken via a lumbar puncture. The authors note: "Ethical constraints prevented lumbar punctures in the TYP [control] group" so make of that what you will.Bearing in mind that no participants had a history of immunodeficiency or autoimmune disorder (important concepts to some autism) but that "Food, environmental, and seasonal allergies were present in a minority of participants, but were more common in AUT [participants with autism]" the results are interesting. First, when comparing results based on the analysis of CSF samples and serum samples researchers noted that there were "striking differences in the expression of selected cytokines, immune-related growth factors, and chemokines in the CSF compartment compared to the circulating bloodstream compartment." So basically what goes on in serum might not necessarily be the same as that going on in CSF in a biochemical sense.Next and as per the title and headline of this post: "we found no evidence for major differences in the expression of circulating cytokines and chemokines between children with autism and typically developing controls." This contrasts with quite a bit of other research in the area of immune-related compounds and autism (see here for example) but one has to be a little careful with the wording here, specifically the term 'major differences'. I say that because the authors do report that EGF - epidermal growth factor - did come out as 'different' between the groups (greater in the autism group) for example. EGF has been mentioned before in the context of autism but levels of the stuff have tended to be lower in autism not higher (see here). Puzzling.This is important work not least because of the cautions highlighted by the authors: "about the lack of relationship between central and peripheral immune markers, signaling that caution should be taken when interpreting the available studies implicating current immune dysfunction in the phenomenology of ASD [autism spectrum disorder], as few have included direct measures of CNS [central nervous system] status." Bearing in mind that there were no CFS comparison samples from controls included in this study (quite a big research flaw by all accounts) it is something else to suggest that if one really wants to see what is going on with immune function and autism, one needs to be looking to a far more invasive sample media. That some of this research group have some 'form' when it comes to the immune system potentially being linked to autism [3] and even more invasive tissue types is also worth noting as further investigations are very carefully merited...The immune system and autism continues to intrigue.----------[1] Pardo CA. et al. Serum and cerebrospinal fluid immune mediators in children with autistic disorder: a longitudinal study. Molecular Autism. 2017. 8: 1.[2] Graf-Myles J. et al. Dietary adequacy of children with autism compared with controls and the impact of restricted diet. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2013 Sep;34(7):449-59.[3] Vargas DL. et al. Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism. Ann Neurol. 2005 Jan;57(1):67-81.----------Pardo, C., Farmer, C., Thurm, A., Shebl, F., Ilieva, J., Kalra, S., & Swedo, S. (2017). Serum and cerebrospinal fluid immune mediators in children with autistic disorder: a longitudinal study Molecular Autism, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13229-016-0115-7... Read more »

  • January 13, 2017
  • 07:02 AM
  • 49 views

Internet commenters, crying men, psychiatrists on trial, and good  bosses

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

It is still so early in 2017 and yet, it is time for another installation of tidbits, miscellany, odds and ends, and accumulated wisdom with which you can amaze your friends and impress family members. And that we don’t want to just toss disrespectfully into recycling when it could bring so much joy to your […]... Read more »

  • January 13, 2017
  • 05:11 AM
  • 109 views

Nutrient-dependent FNIP degradation regulates FLCN localization and promotes renal cancer progression

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is a rare disorder caused by mutations in FLCN and associated with increased risk of kidney cancer. It has been shown that FLCN-interacting protein 1 and 2 (FNIP1 and FNIP2) double knockout mice, like the FLCN knockout mice, develop renal carcinoma (Hasumi et al., 2015). However, the molecular mechanisms linking FNIP and FLCN remain unknown. In their new study, Nagashima et al. (2016) show that FNIP2 undergoes proteasome-dependent degradation via β-TRCP and Casein Kinase 1 (CK1)-directed ubiquitination in a nutrition-dependent manner. Degradation of FNIP2 leads to lysosomal dissociation of FLCN and association of mTOR, which promotes the proliferation of renal cancer cells.... Read more »

  • January 13, 2017
  • 05:00 AM
  • 94 views

Friday Fellow: Branching Vase Sponge

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll A fascinating group of animals that has not yet joined the Friday Fellows are the sponges. Different from all other animals, sponges have a unique body structure that behaves more like a plant or fungus. They … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 13, 2017
  • 03:13 AM
  • 117 views

Exercise as an intervention for anxiety?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Our data suggest that exercise is more effective than control at reducing anxiety symptoms."So said the meta-analysis published by Brendan Stubbs and colleagues [1] who surveyed the peer-reviewed literature "investigating the benefits of exercise compared to usual treatment or control conditions in people with an anxiety and/or stress-related disorders." From the 6 randomised, controlled trials found "from inception until December 2015" exercise (various types of exercise regime) did seem to have something of an effect on anxiety symptoms in adults compared to control conditions.I'm not going to labour too much on these findings because they really speak for themselves bearing in mind control conditions may not be the same as pitting exercise against something rather more proactive when it comes to tackling anxiety. Allied to the idea that exercise is basically medicine when it comes to various psychological/psychiatric labels as well as more somatic ones (see here) and is one of the more cost-effective interventions proposed (and typically side-effect free), the questions that remain are: (a) what are the mechanisms of effect? and (b) are there specific types of exercise that might be more suited to specific diagnostic labels? At least one of those questions has been touched upon in other papers [2] whereby low to moderate intensity exercise seems to be the way forward for at least some forms of anxiety. I assume that means activities such as walking, swimming and non-competitive cycling might be something to consider for example. A quick trawl of some of the other literature in this area also suggest that activities such as yoga might be useful for trait anxiety when attached to other diagnoses [3] but please, do not read this as medical or clinical advice in any intended form. Speak to your medical physician if you're unsure.Finally, given my previous discussions on how various types of anxiety disorder seem to be over-represented among many parts of the autism spectrum (see here for example), I can't help but wonder whether the chatter about behavioural outcomes following exercise with autism in mind (see here) might also come into play here. If for example, one accepts that anxiety can not only be an utterly disabling state to exist in but might also 'interact' with more 'core' presentation of autism (see here), future studies may be minded to look at how exercise might impact on both autistic and anxiety-related traits for the benefit of the individual...And finally, for the 'weekend [exercise] warriors' out there, some good news...----------[1] Stubbs B. et al. An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research. 2017. Jan 6.[2] Takács J. & Stauder A. The role of regular physical activity in the prevention and intervention of symptoms of anxiety and anxiety disorders. Psychiatr Hung. 2016;31(4):327-337.[3] Buffart LM. et al. Physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga in cancer patients and survivors, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Cancer. 2012 Nov 27;12:559.----------Stubbs, B., Vancampfort, D., Rosenbaum, S., Firth, J., Cosco, T., Veronese, N., Salum, G., & Schuch, F. (2017). An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis Psychiatry Research DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.12.020... Read more »

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