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  • April 17, 2014
  • 04:31 AM
  • 1 view

Mitochondrial dysfunction as a neurobiological subtype of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Suzanne Goh and colleagues [1] reporting on "a possible neurobiological subtype of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" is a worthy addition to the research roll call which has graced this blog down the years. Based on the analysis of brain lactate levels - a potential marker of mitochondrial dysfunction - via the analysis of lactate doublets on brain magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI), authors picked up a significantly higher rate of lactate in cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when compared to age and sex-matched asymptomatic controls. I've talked lactate and autism before on this blog (see here) so very much welcomed this research looking specifically at brain levels of this stuff.I'm writing this post having already scheduled a blog entry on the recent paper by Rose and colleagues [2] (open-access here) on the increasing complexity of mitochondrial dysfunction being seemingly present in some cases of autism. Given the findings from Goh et al I've decided to publish this entry first (just to confuse everyone even further) as yet again, my confusion on the topic of all-things mitochondrial has an opportunity to shine through.So then, a few details from the Goh paper:Based on imaging and other data derived from 75 participants diagnosed with an ASD (aged 5-60 years) contrasted with 96 typically-developing controls, the authors set about "assessing in-vivo evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction directly in the brains of a large sample of children and adults with ASD".Whilst not an imaging man, I can tell you that they used proton multiplanar spectroscopic imaging (MPSI) to quantify endogenous brain chemistry and "regional cellular metabolism and function" specifically towards the detection of lactate. Actually, the talk of [lactate] doublets is not a million miles away from the results one gets as a consequence of a related chemical analytical technique, NMR, which brings back memories of some work from days gone by.After laying down quite a few ground rules for what was and wasn't a readable result, the authors concluded that: "Lactate doublets were present at a significantly higher rate in participants with ASD (13%) than in typically developing controls (1%) (P = .001), providing in vivo evidence for the presence of mitochondrial dysfunction in the brains of individuals with ASD". In-vivo by the way, means in the living and contrasts with science done in a test-tube (in-vitro).Age was a factor when it came to lactate levels, with elevations reported more often in adults than in children. This phenomenon has been talked about before in the research literature [3].The authors go on to discuss the implications of their results. Bearing in mind the various situations where elevated brain lactate levels have been noted outside of just ageing, including as a result of issues like anxiety or panic disorder [4], they reiterate how their "strict exclusion critera and careful scanning procedures made such explanations less likely". Further they highlight how: "individuals with ASD should undergo evaluation for mitochondrial dysfunction, as novel and promising treatments are under development for mitochondrial disorders".As per my link above, this is not the first time that lactate has appeared in the autism research literature. I'll for example, draw your attention to the paper by Al-Mosalem and colleagues [4] and their reporting that: "Lactate as an important energy metabolite for the brain was significantly higher in autistic patients compared to control showing about 40% increase". Bear in mind however that this and other results [5] have tended to look in plasma rather than directly what's going on in the brain as Goh et al did.There's little more for me to say on this area of research aside from the need for further replicative investigations and perhaps a little more inquiry into the subgroup of people with autism who fall into this mitochondrial dysfunction category bearing in mind the continued focus on the plurality of autism (the autisms). That there may be interventions available for mitochondrial disorder when present [6] is another important point. As per related research in other conditions with a potential mitochondrial aspect to them (see here), at least one of the interventions - Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) - is being looked at with some autism in mind [7] (open-access here) bearing in mind no medical or clinical advice is given or intended.Music then to close. I'm thinkin' of something with a candy orientation given the time of year, so again, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Sammy Davis Jnr and The Candy Man.. (he can you know).-----------[1] Goh S. et al. Mitochondrial Dysfunction as a Neurobiological Subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Evidence From Brain Imaging. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014. April 9.[2] Rose S. et al. Oxidative stress induces mitochondrial dysfunction in a subset of autistic lymphoblastoid cell lines. Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Apr 1;4:e377.[3] Ross JM. et al. High brain lactate is a hallmark of aging and caused by a shift in the lactate dehydrogenase A/B ratio. PNAS. 2010; 10.1073/pnas.1008189107[4] Al-Mosalem OA. et al. Metabolic biomarkers related to energy metabolism in Saudi autistic children. Clin Biochem. 2009 Jul;42(10-11):949-57.[5] Oliveira G. et al. Mitochondrial dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders: a population-based study. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2005 Mar;47(3):185-9.[6] Parikh S. et al. A Modern Approach to the Treatment of Mitochondrial Disease. Curr Treat Options Neurol. Nov 2009; 11(6): 414–430.[7] Gvozdjáková A. et al. Ubiquinol improves symptoms in children with autism. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014;2014:798957.----------Goh, S., Dong, Z., Zhang, Y., DiMauro, S., & Peterson, B. (2014). Mitochondrial Dysfunction as a Neurobiological Subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder JAMA Psychiatry DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.179... Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:29 PM
  • 7 views

What makes music groovy?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Today PLOS ONE publishes a study that uses an often criticized research method: questionnaire and web-based research (cf. Honing & Ladinig, 2008). This study, however, is a good example of how an unspectacular method (i.e. compared to, e.g., controlled experiments, brain imaging techniques or computational modelling) can still be quite informative.... Read more »

Witek, M., Clarke, E., Wallentin, M., Kringelbach, M., & Vuust, P. (2014) Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PLoS ONE, 9(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094446  

Honing, H., & Reips, U.-D. (2008) Web-based versus lab-based studies: a response to Kendall (2008). Empirical Musicology Review, 3(2), 73-77. info:/

  • April 16, 2014
  • 05:04 PM
  • 14 views

What Do Preschoolers Learn from Fantastical Picture Books?

by Rebecca Schwarzlose in Garden of the Mind

One of the new picture books making the bedtime rounds at our house is How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, which describes and depicts dinosaurs doing such un-dinosaurly things as tucking themselves into bed or kissing their human mothers good night. The book is whimsical, gorgeously illustrated, and includes a scientific angle, as the genus names of the dinosaurs are included in the pictures. I’m always careful to read these genus names aloud as we look at each picture. But is this book actually teaching my daughter anything about dinosaurs? And does the misinformation get in the way of her learning these facts? A new study suggests that it might.... Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 04:19 PM
  • 15 views

Sex in (floral) advertising

by Brooke LaFlamme in Molecular Love (and other facts of life)

Having a wingman can be helpful, but for many plants it’s absolutely crucial. Flowering plants don’t have smoky bars, speed dating or eHarmony. They have to rely entirely on their tiny wing—well, I guess “men” isn’t really appropriate. But unlike your witty friend who backs you up in the bar, pollinators don’t help plants with their dating life out of friendship alone. They need something in return, and flowers flaunt their assets to advertise the sweet rewards awaiting a helpful bee. In a paper published this March in the journal PLoS One, scientists studying a particular type of flower have discovered that bees are much more attracted to boys.... Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 11:57 AM
  • 13 views

Quantum Dots Could Be Used to Make Efficient Solar Windows

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers in collaboration with scientists from University of Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB), Italy.... Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 09:37 AM
  • 19 views

Video Tip of the Week: NaviCell for custom interaction maps for systems biology

by Mary in OpenHelix

The onslaught of sequence data from a whole range of species and tissues continues, and certainly will for a long time. But moving from there to the level of understanding the interactions among the genes that contribute to the structures, behaviors, and phenotypes of the systems requires other types of supporting software. NaviCell is a […]... Read more »

Kuperstein Inna, Cohen David PA, Pook Stuart, Viara Eric, Calzone Laurence, Barillot Emmanuel, & Zinovyev Andrei. (2013) NaviCell: a web-based environment for navigation, curation and maintenance of large molecular interaction maps. BMC Systems Biology, 7(1), 100. DOI: 10.1186/1752-0509-7-100  

Funahashi A., Matsuoka Y., Jouraku A., Morohashi M., Kikuchi N., & Kitano H. (2008) CellDesigner 3.5: A Versatile Modeling Tool for Biochemical Networks. Proceedings of the IEEE, 96(8), 1254-1265. DOI: 10.1109/JPROC.2008.925458  

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 10 views

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Help At-Risk Boys?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

If existing behavioural programs aren’t working, can therapeutic sessions with a dog help boys who have problems at school?Photo: criben / ShutterstockA new paper by Abbey Schneider et al (2014) investigates the success of a program designed to help boys who are considered ‘at-risk’ – by matching them up with a specially trained dog and handler.In Colorado, a group of elementary schools take part in a program called the Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC). It is designed to help girls and boys who have problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, or depression. These children are usually given an Individualized Education Plan to help them in school, and several behavioural support systems are also available. When these supports are not enough, children can be referred to HABIC.The Animal Assisted Therapy program matches each child to a specific dog and handler, with whom they spend 10-12 sessions. The first is a meet-and-greet, and in this and subsequent sessions the child helps the handler teach new commands to the dog, learns how to give the dog commands it already knows, and also has unstructured time in which they can play with or cuddle the dog. The dog and handler are specially trained to work in the program, and the sessions are designed for each child with specific behavioural and emotional aims.Dogs are great for a program like this because they are not judgmental, they are available to be petted and cuddled, the child can try out different pro-social behaviours with the dog, and the relationship does not rely on verbal skills. Within the framework of attachment theory, the child can develop a secure attachment with the dog (and the dog’s handler) that will enable them to feel safe and to develop emotionally and behaviourally.Nine boys took part in this study. The researchers conducted a set of assessments before, during and after the animal-assisted therapy sessions. This included observations of the child and dog interacting that were designed to assess the emotional bond between them, the child’s self-reports about the relationship with the dog, teacher and parent assessments of the child’s behaviour, and data about the child’s absences from school and referrals to the principal for bad behaviour.The researchers say the “results suggest that children are able to create more emotionally positive relationships with both animals and adults over the course of the intervention.”  In addition, although there was no change in being absent from school, there was a significant reduction in the number of times the boys were referred to the principal’s office for problem behaviour.Interestingly, teachers did not rate the boys’ behaviour as better in the classroom. The researchers think it is possible their ratings were clouded by previous experiences with the boys. Independent classroom observations could be a useful addition to future evaluations.A nice thing about this study is that in evaluating emotional attachment between the child and dog, observations were also made of the dog, such as the time spent in close proximity to the boy, and whether the dog’s mouth was open in a happy expression or closed, suggesting tension.The researchers say one advantage of the scheme is that, while social skills can be taught, the desire to connect emotionally with others is harder to inspire. The dog provides encouragement to the child to connect with another being. It also seems that unstructured time is important for the development of the bond between them, and this is something that warrants future research.This study is an important formal evaluation of an existing scheme. Without research like this, we would not know if such schemes work or how they could be improved. It is small-scale, and a larger evaluation that included girls as well as boys would be helpful. The results are very encouraging, and suggest that animal-assisted therapy can be beneficial for children with a range of behavioural problems.The HABIC program is just one way in which animals can potentially help children. For example, work by Maggie O’Haire suggests that a classroom program with guinea pigs can help children with autism as well as their normal peers. This is a fascinating topic and we look forward to future work by these and other researchers in the field.If you would like to know more about the study, the full paper is open-access (registration required).Is there an animal-assisted therapy program in your community?ReferenceSchneider, A.A.,, Rosenberg, J., Baker, M., Melia, N., Granger, B., & Biringen, Z. (2014). Becoming relationally effective: High-risk boys in animal-assisted therapy Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 2 (1), 1-18... Read more »

Schneider, A.A.,, Rosenberg, J., Baker, M., Melia, N., Granger, B., & Biringen, Z. (2014) Becoming relationally effective: High-risk boys in animal-assisted therapy. Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 2(1), 1-18. info:/

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:05 AM
  • 15 views

Using Pain To Stop Pain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Chronic pain can involve TRPV1 pathways, yet traditional TRPV1 antagonists cannot be used due to incidence of hyperthermia. New research has identified new routes of administration, new agonists and new allosteric functions that will make TRPV1 a viable target for chronic, acute, and cancer-mediated pains. Alternative mechanisms, such as counter irritants and acupuncture are also gaining in evidence for mechaisms that involve TRPV1 signaling pathways... Read more »

Andreev YA, Kozlov SA, Korolkova YV, Dyachenko IA, Bondarenko DA, Skobtsov DI, Murashev AN, Kotova PD, Rogachevskaja OA, Kabanova NV.... (2013) Polypeptide modulators of TRPV1 produce analgesia without hyperthermia. Marine drugs, 11(12), 5100-15. PMID: 24351908  

Lee MG, Huh BK, Choi SS, Lee DK, Lim BG, & Lee M. (2012) The effect of epidural resiniferatoxin in the neuropathic pain rat model. Pain physician, 15(4), 287-96. PMID: 22828682  

Kelly S, Chapman RJ, Woodhams S, Sagar DR, Turner J, Burston JJ, Bullock C, Paton K, Huang J, Wong A.... (2013) Increased function of pronociceptive TRPV1 at the level of the joint in a rat model of osteoarthritis pain. Annals of the rheumatic diseases. PMID: 24152419  

  • April 16, 2014
  • 06:16 AM
  • 15 views

Tiger sharks: Each to their own diving depth

by Aileen Cudmore in Natural Reactions

Despite some broad similarities, the diving behaviour of tiger sharks appears to vary greatly amongst individuals.... Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 05:33 AM
  • 22 views

New Explanation For Depression And Chronic Stress

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

In a study just published in Nature Medicine, researchers have identified a new mechanism that is at least in part responsible for the brain alterations caused by loss of mTORC1 in patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder.... Read more »

Ota KT, Liu RJ, Voleti B, Maldonado-Aviles JG, Duric V, Iwata M, Dutheil S, Duman C, Boikess S, Lewis DA.... (2014) REDD1 is essential for stress-induced synaptic loss and depressive behavior. Nature medicine. PMID: 24728411  

  • April 16, 2014
  • 01:54 AM
  • 19 views

Joined by HDAC (inhibitors)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm treading quite carefully with this post which came about following my [non-expert] reading of the paper abstract from Anand Venkatraman and colleagues [1] on a potential downside to the use of HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors for treating spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a progressive disease affecting movement and other knock-on functions. This follows other work suggesting that certain HDAC inhibitors might offer some important new lines of investigation when it comes to at least some of the various types of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA). For those who thought this was a blog about autism research, bear with me on this one...HDACs represent a group of enzymes which go to work removing acetyl groups on histone tails which, as the paper by Patrick Grant [2] (open-access) very nicely illustrates, has the potential to do some rather important things to processes like gene expression (condensing chromatin and repressing transcription). I have kinda touched upon histones and the so-called histone code in a previous introductory post on the rise and rise of epigenetics (see here) with autism in mind.The Venkatraman results focused on a mouse model, and how depletion/loss of a particular type of HDAC - HDAC3 - was in some cases: "highly deleterious both behaviorally, with mice showing early onset ataxia, and pathologically, with progressive histologic evidence of degeneration". They talk about "cautionary evidence that this approach could produce untoward effects" when it comes to the employment of "pharmacologic inhibition of HDAC3" via HDAC inhibitors in SCA.Not to make too many sweeping generalisations or form associations which might not be there, but two things from the Venkatraman paper got my old(ish) grey matter fired up: (i) mention of HDAC inhibitors and the emerging story when it comes to prenatal exposure to valproate with a HDAC slant, and (ii) the focus on Purkinje cell function; as their paper title states: "The histone deacetylase HDAC3 is essential for Purkinje cell function". Both these points bring me back to some potentially important issues which might apply to at least some autism and related neurodevelopmental outcomes.It is still very much an emerging picture but pregnancy use of valproate and 'adverse' offspring events/development is turning into something of a quite important association in recent times. So much so that the US FDA and UK MHRA have issued some guidance on this matter. Valproate has some history as a potential teratogen [3] bearing in mind my offering no medical or clinical advice on this matter aside from saying 'don't mess with epilepsy'. That valproate is also an HDAC inhibitor [4] (open-access) is another mechanism through which the drug might (a) find some new markets for conditions other than epilepsy, but also (b) impact on development and functions. Readers are invited to have a look through the paper by Katie Lloyd [5] (open-access) for a well-rounded overview of potential effects.Then to the Purkinje cell story. I'm sure most people with an interest in autism will have heard about the cerebellum in relation to the condition at some point. Indeed, the paper by Fatemi and colleagues [6] (open-access) kinda sums up where we're at when it comes to the 'little brain' bearing in mind the need for further investigation and the greater focus on the plural 'autisms'. To talk about the cerebellum and autism also brings into the play those Purkinje cells which have also featured on several occasions on the autism research menu [7] and quite recently, with an epigenetic slant to the research (see here). Indeed, the paper by Jill James and colleagues [8] (open-access) on epigenetics and EN-2 is something I'd very much like to see more work on.Again, not to make mountains out of molehills, but I did wonder whether there may be some science to do covering these potentially overlapping areas. I'm not necessarily saying that valproate = HDAC inhibition = impact on Purkinje cell numbers/maturation/functions = autism because I very much doubt it's going to be that simple or generalised despite some emerging [rodent] data [9]. With the increasing interest in all-things epigenetic however, also crossing over to autism research [10] (open-access), one might consider more inquiry into the HDACs, their inhibitors and effectors (and exposure timing) to be a potentially important part of that particular autism research tide? Whether even important ecosystems e.g. "the [gut] microbiota itself may be viewed as an epigenetic entity" [11] may also tie into some of the work in this area too?----------[1] Venkatraman A. et al. The histone deacetylase HDAC3 is essential for Purkinje cell function, potentially complicating the use of HDAC inhibitors in SCA1. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Mar 4.[2] Grant PA. A tale of histone modifications. Genome Biology 2001, 2:reviews0003-reviews0003.6[3] Alsdorf R. & Wyszynski DF. Teratogenicity of sodium valproate. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2005 Mar;4(2):345-53.[4] Göttlicher M. et al. Valproic acid defines a novel class of HDAC inhibitors inducing differentiation of transformed cells. EMBO J. 2001; 20(24): 6969–6978.[5] Lloyd KA. A scientific review: mechanisms of valproate-mediated teratogenesis. Bioscience Horizons 2013; 6 : hzt003[6] Fatemi SH. et al. Consensus paper: pathological role of the cerebellum in autism. Cerebellum. 2012 Sep;11(3):777-807.[7] Skefos J. et al. Regional alterations in purkinje cell density in patients with autism. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 24;9(2):e81255.[8] James SJ. et al. Complex epigenetic regulation of engrailed-2 (EN-2) homeobox gene in the autism cerebellum. Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Feb 19;3:e232.[9] Moldrich RX. et al. Inhibition of histone deacetylase in utero causes sociability deficits in postnatal mice. Behav Brain Res. 2013 Nov 15;257:253-64.[10] Lasalle JM. Autism genes keep turning up chromatin. OA Autism. 2013 Jun 19;1(2):14.[11] Stilling RM. et al. Microbial genes, brain & behaviour - epigenetic regulation of the gut-brain axis. Genes Brain Behav. 2014 Jan;13(1):69-86.----------... Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 12:05 AM
  • 26 views

Knees with an ACL Reconstruction Often Have Osteoarthritis Regardless of Graft Selection

by Nicole Cattano in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Knees with a history of an anterior cruciate ligament injury are more likely to have osteoarthritis compared with a healthy contralateral knee but graft selection has no effect on long-term outcomes, such as osteoarthritis or knee functional outcomes.... Read more »

  • April 15, 2014
  • 09:32 PM
  • 29 views

Stone Soup Eyes

by Reed College Dev Neuro in the Node

Another installment from the Developmental Neurobiology Students at Reed College. Hope you enjoy! It’s not often that you get to recount the classic tale of Stone Soup when thinking about developmental biology, but that’s exactly what we did when discussing an almost classic 2011 Nature paper from Yoshiki Sasai’s group. In the story, a grumpy […]... Read more »

Eiraku, M., Takata, N., Ishibashi, H., Kawada, M., Sakakura, E., Okuda, S., Sekiguchi, K., Adachi, T., & Sasai, Y. (2011) Self-organizing optic-cup morphogenesis in three-dimensional culture. Nature, 472(7341), 51-56. DOI: 10.1038/nature09941  

Nakano, T., Ando, S., Takata, N., Kawada, M., Muguruma, K., Sekiguchi, K., Saito, K., Yonemura, S., Eiraku, M., & Sasai, Y. (2012) Self-Formation of Optic Cups and Storable Stratified Neural Retina from Human ESCs. Cell Stem Cell, 10(6), 771-785. DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2012.05.009  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 08:00 PM
  • 20 views

New Study Shows Surgical Checklists In Operating Rooms Are Less Effective Than Assumed

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Optimizing such tailored checklists, understanding why some studies indicate benefits of checklists whereas others do not and re-evaluating the efficacy of checklists in the non-academic setting will all require a substantial amount of future research before one can draw definitive conclusions about the efficacy of checklists. Regulatory agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom should reconsider their current mandates. Perhaps an even more important lesson to be learned is that health regulatory agencies should not rush to enforce new mandates based on limited scientific data.... Read more »

Urbach DR, Govindarajan A, Saskin R, Wilton AS, & Baxter NN. (2014) Introduction of surgical safety checklists in Ontario, Canada. The New England Journal of Medicine, 370(11), 1029-38. PMID: 24620866  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 06:22 PM
  • 26 views

Hold the drill! Fracking emitting more methane than previously thought

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

A new study measuring methane emissions over well pads has shown that fracking sites even in preparatory phases release orders of magnitude more methane then previously estimated.... Read more »

Caulton, D., Shepson, P., Santoro, R., Sparks, J., Howarth, R., Ingraffea, A., Cambaliza, M., Sweeney, C., Karion, A., Davis, K.... (2014) Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1316546111  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 02:17 PM
  • 25 views

Airborne Wind Turbines Have Significant Potential, Study Finds

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Airborne wind turbines hovering high in the air and tethered to the ground, like kites, have the potential to generate huge amounts of electricity, based on a recent wind availability study led by the University of Delaware.... Read more »

  • April 15, 2014
  • 11:43 AM
  • 31 views

Religious Belief and Depression Resilience

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Identifying risk factors for brain disorders is a key element in clinical research.Understanding protective or resilience factors for brain disorders is also important and receiving increased attention in clinical research.Factors that promote resilience to brain disorders may come from a variety of domains. Religious belief is one domain receiving attention as a potential resilience factor.Miller and colleagues recently published a longitudinal study of religious belief and risk for major depression.The key elements of research design in their study included:Subjects: This study examined a cohort of young adults whose parents were identified as having a history of major depression (cases) or not having a parent with major depressionMeasures: Subjects received a structured interview for the presence of major depression at year 10 and year 20 in a 20-year follow-up study. Additionally, subjects were assessed for religiosity in three areas--"How important to you is religion or spirituality?" (rated on a one to four point scale), Frequency of attendance at a church, synagogue or other religious/spiritual services (rated on a five point scale), Current religion denomination affiliationStatistical Analysis: The key outcome variable was diagnosis of major depression between ages 10 and 20.  Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the role of religious belief, church attendance and church affiliation on risk for major depression. Parental depression status (positive or negative for a history of parental depression) was examined as a moderator for effect of religionThe study found a significant association between religious belief and risk of major depression during followup. Subjects rating religion or spirituality as very importance was associated with a 90% reduction in depression risk during follow up in the high risk group (history of parental depression) and a 28% reduction in depression risk if they were in the low risk group (no history of parental depression).Higher frequency of church attendance was also associated with lower depression risk although not to a statistically significant level.  Specific religious denominational affiliation did not appear to affect depression risk.The authors went on to note the association of high importance for religion/spirituality and lower depression risk seemed primarily through reduction in risk for recurrence of depression.This study is noteworthy for the large effect size on depression risk reduction. The authors note their findings support clinical assessment of religion/spirituality importance in clinical practice.Additionally, the authors note integrating religious/spiritual interventions in clinical management "may be useful for some patients". In my next post, I will review a brain imaging study involving this subject cohort with some interesting findings. Readers with more interest in this study can access the free full-text manuscript by clicking on the link below.Photo of willets on the beach is from the author's files.Follow the author on Twitter at WRY999Miller L, Wickramaratne P, Gameroff MJ, Sage M, Tenke CE, & Weissman MM (2012). Religiosity and major depression in adults at high risk: a ten-year prospective study. The American journal of psychiatry, 169 (1), 89-94 PMID: 21865527... Read more »

Miller L, Wickramaratne P, Gameroff MJ, Sage M, Tenke CE, & Weissman MM. (2012) Religiosity and major depression in adults at high risk: a ten-year prospective study. The American journal of psychiatry, 169(1), 89-94. PMID: 21865527  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 10:00 AM
  • 14 views

The perfect marriage of crystallography and mass spectrometry: PI3K

by Clay Clark in Biochem Blogs

  Sorry for the cheesy title, but I’m getting married in a couple of weeks and it is all I can think about (oh, and science of course).  I have to admit that I chose a GREAT paper this time!: “Molecular determinants of PI3Kγ-mediated activation downstream of G-protein–coupled receptors” which was published last year in […]... Read more »

Vadas O., Dbouk H. A., Shymanets A., Perisic O., Burke J. E., Abi Saab W. F., Khalil B. D., Harteneck C., Bresnick A. R., & Nurnberg B. (2013) Molecular determinants of PI3K -mediated activation downstream of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(47), 18862-18867. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1304801110  

  • April 15, 2014
  • 04:37 AM
  • 43 views

A Brief History Of Lions

by Gunnar de Winter in United Academics

New DNA study reveals lion history and could guide conservation efforts.... Read more »

  • April 14, 2014
  • 10:51 PM
  • 48 views

Disordered Eating and Athletic Performance: Where’s the Line?

by Emma in Science of Eating Disorders


If a person severely restricts his diet and exercises for hours each day, he has an eating disorder. If another does exactly the same but it is because she wants to make the lightweight rowing team (which has an upper weight limit), she’s a committed athlete. When the two overlap, and an athlete presents with eating disorder symptoms, how do we distinguish between the demands of the sport and the illness?
I’ve been interested in the distinctions we make between disordered and non-disordered eating and exercise behaviours for a while now. Recently, when I was browsing through articles, I came across a literature review by Werner et al. (2013) (open access) of studies examining weight-control and disordered eating behaviours in young athletes.
The authors start by noting the sheer lack of research that has actually been done in this area. This is worrying: typical onset of eating disorders is during adolescence, and research indicates that athletes are more likely to develop these disorders, leaving young athletes in what appears to be a high-risk position.
WHICH ATHLETES?
Werner et al. searched for …

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