Kynurenine pathway metabolism evolves with development of preclinical and scleroderma-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension
Understanding metabolic evolution underlying pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) development may clarify pathobiology and reveal disease-specific biomarkers. Patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) are regularly surveilled for PAH, presenting an opportunity to examine metabolic change as disease develops in an at-risk cohort. We performed mass spectrometry-based metabolomics on longitudinal serum samples collected before and near SSc-PAH diagnosis, compared with time-matched SSc subjects without PAH, in a SSc surveillance cohort. We validated metabolic differences in a second cohort and determined metabolite-phenotype relationships. In parallel, we performed serial metabolomic and hemodynamic assessments as the disease developed in a preclinical model. For differentially expressed metabolites, we investigated corresponding gene expression in human and rodent PAH lungs. Kynurenine and its ratio to tryptophan (kyn/trp) increased over the surveillance period in patients with SSc who developed PAH. Higher kyn/trp measured two years before diagnostic right heart catheterization increased the odds of SSc-PAH diagnosis (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.05-2.36, P = 0.028). The slope of kyn/trp rise during SSc surveillance predicted PAH development and mortality. In both clinical and experimental PAH, higher kynurenine pathway metabolites correlated with adverse pulmonary vascular and RV measurements. In human and rodent PAH lungs, expression of TDO2, which encodes tryptophan 2,3 dioxygenase (TDO), a protein that catalyzes tryptophan conversion to kynurenine, was significantly upregulated and tightly correlated with pulmonary hypertensive features. Upregulated kynurenine pathway metabolism occurs early in PAH, localizes to the lung, and may be modulated by TDO2. Kynurenine pathway metabolites may be candidate PAH biomarkers and TDO warrants exploration as a potential novel therapeutic target.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our study shows an early increase in kynurenine pathway metabolism in at-risk subjects with systemic sclerosis who develop pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). We show that kynurenine pathway upregulation precedes clinical diagnosis and that this metabolic shift is associated with increased disease severity and shorter survival times. We also show that gene expression of TDO2, an enzyme that generates kynurenine from tryptophan, rises with PAH development.
Appropriateness of blood transfusions in the ED-is it all about the money? [Comment]
Point-of-care ultrasound in geriatrics: a national survey of VA medical centers
BACKGROUND:Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) can aid geriatricians in caring for complex, older patients. Currently, there is limited literature on POCUS use by geriatricians. We conducted a national survey to assess current POCUS use, training desired, and barriers among Geriatrics and Extended Care ("geriatric") clinics at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). METHODS:We conducted a prospective observational study of all VAMCs between August 2019 and March 2020 using a web-based survey sent to all VAMC Chiefs of Staff and Chiefs of geriatric clinics. RESULTS:All Chiefs of Staff (n=130) completed the survey (100% response rate). Chiefs of geriatric clinics ("chiefs") at 76 VAMCs were surveyed and 52 completed the survey (68% response rate). Geriatric clinics were located throughout the United States, mostly at high-complexity, urban VAMCs. Only 15% of chiefs responded that there was some POCUS usage in their geriatric clinic, but more than 60% of chiefs would support the implementation of POCUS use. The most common POCUS applications used in geriatric clinics were the evaluation of the bladder and urinary obstruction. Barriers to POCUS use included a lack of trained providers (56%), ultrasound equipment (50%), and funding for training (35%). Additionally, chiefs reported time utilization, clinical indications, and low patient census as barriers. CONCLUSIONS:POCUS has several potential applications for clinicians caring for geriatric patients. Though only 15% of geriatric clinics at VAMCs currently use POCUS, most geriatric chiefs would support implementing POCUS use as a diagnostic tool. The greatest barriers to POCUS implementation in geriatric clinics were a lack of training and ultrasound equipment. Addressing these barriers systematically can facilitate implementation of POCUS use into practice and permit assessment of the impact of POCUS on geriatric care in the future.
Identification of memory B-cell-associated miRNA signature to establish a prognostic model in gastric adenocarcinoma
BACKGROUND:Memory B cells and microRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in the progression of gastric adenocarcinoma (GAC), also known as stomach adenocarcinoma (STAD). However, few studies have investigated the use of memory B-cell-associated miRNAs in predicting the prognosis of STAD. METHODS:We identified the marker genes of memory B cells by single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) and identified the miRNAs associated with memory B cells by constructing an mRNA‒miRNA coexpression network. Then, univariate Cox, random survival forest (RSF), and stepwise multiple Cox regression (StepCox) algorithms were used to identify memory B-cell-associated miRNAs that were significantly related to overall survival (OS). A prognostic risk model was constructed and validated using these miRNAs, and patients were divided into a low-risk group and a high-risk group. In addition, the differences in clinicopathological features, tumour microenvironment, immune blocking therapy, and sensitivity to anticancer drugs in the two groups were analysed. RESULTS:Four memory B-cell-associated miRNAs (hsa-mir-145, hsa-mir-125b-2, hsa-mir-100, hsa-mir-221) with significant correlations to OS were identified and used to construct a prognostic model. Time-dependent receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis confirmed the feasibility of the model. Kaplan‒Meier (K‒M) survival curve analysis showed that the prognosis was poor in the high-risk group. Comprehensive analysis showed that patients in the high-risk group had higher immune scores, matrix scores, and immune cell infiltration and a poor immune response. In terms of drug screening, we predicted eight drugs with higher sensitivity in the high-risk group, of which CGP-60474 was associated with the greatest sensitivity. CONCLUSIONS:In summary, we identified memory B-cell-associated miRNA prognostic features and constructed a novel risk model for STAD based on scRNA-seq data and bulk RNA-seq data. Among patients in the high-risk group, STAD showed the highest sensitivity to CGP-60474. This study provides prognostic insights into individualized and precise treatment for STAD patients.
Assessing the association between food environment and dietary inflammation by community type: a cross-sectional REGARDS study
BACKGROUND:Communities in the United States (US) exist on a continuum of urbanicity, which may inform how individuals interact with their food environment, and thus modify the relationship between food access and dietary behaviors. OBJECTIVE:This cross-sectional study aims to examine the modifying effect of community type in the association between the relative availability of food outlets and dietary inflammation across the US. METHODS:Using baseline data from the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study (2003-2007), we calculated participants' dietary inflammation score (DIS). Higher DIS indicates greater pro-inflammatory exposure. We defined our exposures as the relative availability of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants (percentage of food outlet type out of all food stores or restaurants, respectively) using street-network buffers around the population-weighted centroid of each participant's census tract. We used 1-, 2-, 6-, and 10-mile (~ 2-, 3-, 10-, and 16 km) buffer sizes for higher density urban, lower density urban, suburban/small town, and rural community types, respectively. Using generalized estimating equations, we estimated the association between relative food outlet availability and DIS, controlling for individual and neighborhood socio-demographics and total food outlets. The percentage of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants were modeled together. RESULTS:Participants (n = 20,322) were distributed across all community types: higher density urban (16.7%), lower density urban (39.8%), suburban/small town (19.3%), and rural (24.2%). Across all community types, mean DIS was - 0.004 (SD = 2.5; min = - 14.2, max = 9.9). DIS was associated with relative availability of fast-food restaurants, but not supermarkets. Association between fast-food restaurants and DIS varied by community type (P for interaction = 0.02). Increases in the relative availability of fast-food restaurants were associated with higher DIS in suburban/small towns and lower density urban areas (p-values < 0.01); no significant associations were present in higher density urban or rural areas. CONCLUSIONS:The relative availability of fast-food restaurants was associated with higher DIS among participants residing in suburban/small town and lower density urban community types, suggesting that these communities might benefit most from interventions and policies that either promote restaurant diversity or expand healthier food options.
Implementation of substance use screening in rural federally-qualified health center clinics identified high rates of unhealthy alcohol and cannabis use among adult primary care patients
BACKGROUND:Screening for substance use in rural primary care clinics faces unique challenges due to limited resources, high patient volumes, and multiple demands on providers. To explore the potential for electronic health record (EHR)-integrated screening in this context, we conducted an implementation feasibility study with a rural federally-qualified health center (FQHC) in Maine. This was an ancillary study to a NIDA Clinical Trials Network study of screening in urban primary care clinics (CTN-0062). METHODS:Researchers worked with stakeholders from three FQHC clinics to define and implement their optimal screening approach. Clinics used the Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication, and Other Substance (TAPS) Tool, completed on tablet computers in the waiting room, and results were immediately recorded in the EHR. Adult patients presenting for annual preventive care visits, but not those with other visit types, were eligible for screening. Data were analyzed for the first 12 months following implementation at each clinic to assess screening rates and prevalence of reported unhealthy substance use, and documentation of counseling using an EHR-integrated clinical decision support tool, for patients screening positive for moderate-high risk alcohol or drug use. RESULTS:Screening was completed by 3749 patients, representing 93.4% of those with screening-eligible annual preventive care visits, and 18.5% of adult patients presenting for any type of primary care visit. Screening was self-administered in 92.9% of cases. The prevalence of moderate-high risk substance use detected on screening was 14.6% for tobacco, 30.4% for alcohol, 10.8% for cannabis, 0.3% for illicit drugs, and 0.6% for non-medical use of prescription drugs. Brief substance use counseling was documented for 17.4% of patients with any moderate-high risk alcohol or drug use. CONCLUSIONS:Self-administered EHR-integrated screening was feasible to implement, and detected substantial alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco use in rural FQHC clinics. Counseling was documented for a minority of patients with moderate-high risk use, possibly indicating a need for better support of primary care providers in addressing substance use. There is potential to broaden the reach of screening by offering it at routine medical visits rather than restricting to annual preventive care visits, within these and other rural primary care clinics.
Promoting alcohol treatment engagement post-hospitalization with brief intervention, medications and CBT4CBT: protocol for a randomized clinical trial in a diverse patient population
BACKGROUND:Alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly causes hospitalization, particularly for individuals disproportionately impacted by structural racism and other forms of marginalization. The optimal approach for engaging hospitalized patients with AUD in treatment post-hospital discharge is unknown. We describe the rationale, aims, and protocol for Project ENHANCE (ENhancing Hospital-initiated Alcohol TreatmeNt to InCrease Engagement), a clinical trial testing increasingly intensive approaches using a hybrid type 1 effectiveness-implementation approach. METHODS:We are randomizing English and/or Spanish-speaking individuals with untreated AUD (n = 450) from a large, urban, academic hospital in New Haven, CT to: (1) Brief Negotiation Interview (with referral and telephone booster) alone (BNI), (2) BNI plus facilitated initiation of medications for alcohol use disorder (BNI + MAUD), or (3) BNI + MAUD + initiation of computer-based training for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT4CBT, BNI + MAUD + CBT4CBT). Interventions are delivered by Health Promotion Advocates. The primary outcome is AUD treatment engagement 34 days post-hospital discharge. Secondary outcomes include AUD treatment engagement 90 days post-discharge and changes in self-reported alcohol use and phosphatidylethanol. Exploratory outcomes include health care utilization. We will explore whether the effectiveness of the interventions on AUD treatment engagement and alcohol use outcomes differ across and within racialized and ethnic groups, consistent with disproportionate impacts of AUD. Lastly, we will conduct an implementation-focused process evaluation, including individual-level collection and statistical comparisons between the three conditions of costs to providers and to patients, cost-effectiveness indices (effectiveness/cost ratios), and cost-benefit indices (benefit/cost ratios, net benefit [benefits minus costs). Graphs of individual- and group-level effectiveness x cost, and benefits x costs, will portray relationships between costs and effectiveness and between costs and benefits for the three conditions, in a manner that community representatives also should be able to understand and use. CONCLUSIONS:Project ENHANCE is expected to generate novel findings to inform future hospital-based efforts to promote AUD treatment engagement among diverse patient populations, including those most impacted by AUD. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT05338151.
Co-administration of an effector antibody enhances the half-life and therapeutic potential of RNA-encoded nanobodies
The incidence of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) and associated mortality have increased rapidly worldwide in recent years. Therefore, it is critical to develop new therapies for CDI. Here we report on the development of mRNA-LNPs encoding camelid-derived VHH-based neutralizing agents (VNAs) targeting toxins A and/or B of C. difficile. In preclinical models, intravenous administration of the mRNA-LNPs provided serum VNA levels sufficient to confer protection of mice against severe disease progression following toxin challenge. Furthermore, we employed an mRNA-LNP encoded effector antibody, a molecular tool designed to specifically bind an epitopic tag linked to the VNAs, to prolong VNA serum half-life. Co-administration of VNA-encoding mRNA-LNPs and an effector antibody, either provided as recombinant protein or encoded by mRNA-LNP, increased serum VNA half-life in mice and in gnotobiotic piglets. Prolonged serum half-life was associated with higher concentrations of serum VNA and enhanced prophylactic protection of mice in challenge models.
The role of intrapersonal and interpersonal factors in waterpipe cessation: a case-control study
BACKGROUND:The prevalence of waterpipe smoking among women in southern Iran is significantly higher than women in other regions of Iran. We aimed to explore the effect of several demographic factors, knowledge, attitude, self-efficacy and social norms on a successful cessation of waterpipe smoking in the marginalized women of Bandar Abbas city, in the south of Iran. METHODS:This case-control study was conducted in 2022 among 731 women (246 subjects who successfully quit waterpipe smoking in the case group and 485 who smoked waterpipe in the control group). A cluster sampling method was used to collect the required data through face-to-face interviews and a researcher-made questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of demographic information, behavioral information about waterpipe smoking and knowledge, attitude, self-efficacy and social norms. The data were analyzed in STATA 14 using univariate and multivariate regression analyses. RESULTS:The mean and standard deviation of age was 39.24 ± 11.93 and 37.18 ± 13.57 in the control and case groups, respectively. With an increase of one score in social norm (OR: 1.046), the odds of cessation were increased for 4%. With an increase of one score in self-efficacy (OR: 1.152), the odds of cessation were increased for 15%. With an increase of one score in knowledge (OR: 1.064), the odds of cessation were increased for 6%. With an increase of one score in attitude (OR: 1.215) the odds of cessation were increased for 21%. CONCLUSION:The present findings revealed personal and interpersonal influential factors in successful waterpipe cessation. Women's knowledge can be increased and their attitude can be changed. Important people in women's lives can be influenced to, consequently, affect women positively and improve their self-esteem.
Evaluation of pediatric epigenetic clocks across multiple tissues
BACKGROUND:Epigenetic clocks are promising tools for assessing biological age. We assessed the accuracy of pediatric epigenetic clocks in gestational and chronological age determination. RESULTS:Our study used data from seven tissue types on three DNA methylation profiling microarrays and found that the Knight and Bohlin clocks performed similarly for blood cells, while the Lee clock was superior for placental samples. The pediatric-buccal-epigenetic clock performed the best for pediatric buccal samples, while the Horvath clock is recommended for children's blood cell samples. The NeoAge clock stands out for its unique ability to predict post-menstrual age with high correlation with the observed age in infant buccal cell samples. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings provide valuable guidance for future research and development of epigenetic clocks in pediatric samples, enabling more accurate assessments of biological age.