Health Sciences, Faculty of

Receive updates for this collection

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Handbook in Mongolia: A Cluster-Randomized, Controlled Trial

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Objective

To assess the effectiveness of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) handbook in Mongolia to increase antenatal clinic attendance, and to enhance health-seeking behaviors and other health outcomes.

Methods

A cluster randomized trial was conducted using the translated MCH handbook in Bulgan, Mongolia to assess its effectiveness in promoting antenatal care attendance. Pregnant women were recruited from 18 randomly allocated districts using shuffled, sealed envelopes. The handbook was implemented immediately for women at their first antenatal visit in the intervention group, and nine months later in the control group. The primary outcome was the number of antenatal care visits of all women residing in the selected districts. Cluster effects were adjusted for using generalized estimation equation. Masking was not possible among care providers, pregnant women and assessors.

Findings

Nine districts were allocated to the intervention group and the remainder to the control group. The intervention group (253 women) attended antenatal clinics on average 6•9 times, while the control group (248 women) attended 6•2 times. Socioeconomic status affected the frequency of clinic attendance: women of higher socioeconomic status visited antenatal clinics more often. Pregnancy complications were more likely to be detected among women using the handbook.

Conclusion

The MCH handbook promotes continuous care and showed an increase in antenatal visits among the intervention group. The intervention will help to identify maternal morbidities during pregnancy and promote health-seeking behaviors.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Modest Attenuation of HIV-1 Vpu Alleles Derived from Elite Controller Plasma

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

In the absence of antiretroviral therapy, infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) can typically not be controlled by the infected host and results in the development of acquired immunodeficiency. In rare cases, however, patients spontaneously control HIV-1 replication. Mechanisms by which such elite controllers (ECs) achieve control of HIV-1 replication include particularly efficient immune responses as well as reduced fitness of the specific virus strains. To address whether polymorphisms in the accessory HIV-1 protein Vpu are associated with EC status we functionally analyzed a panel of plasma-derived vpu alleles from 15 EC and 16 chronic progressor (CP) patients. Antagonism of the HIV particle release restriction by the intrinsic immunity factor CD317/tetherin was well conserved among EC and CP Vpu alleles, underscoring the selective advantage of this Vpu function in HIV-1 infected individuals. In contrast, interference with CD317/tetherin induced NF-κB activation was little conserved in both groups. EC Vpus more frequently displayed reduced ability to downregulate cell surface levels of CD4 and MHC class I (MHC-I) molecules as well as of the NK cell ligand NTB-A. Polymorphisms potentially associated with high affinity interactions of the inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) KIR2DL2 were significantly enriched among EC Vpus but did not account for these functional differences. Together these results suggest that in a subgroup of EC patients, some Vpu functions are modestly reduced, possibly as a result of host selection.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Injuries, Death, and Disability Associated with 11 Years of Conflict in Baghdad, Iraq: A Randomized Household Cluster Survey

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

The objective of this study was to characterize injuries, deaths, and disabilities arising during 11 years of conflict in Baghdad.

Methods

Using satellite imagery and administrative population estimated size for Baghdad, 30 clusters were selected, proportionate to population size estimates. Interviews were conducted during April and May 2014 in 900 households containing 5148 persons. Details about injuries and disabilities occurring from 2003 through May 2014 and resultant disabilities were recorded.

Findings

There were 553 injuries reported by Baghdad residents, 225 of which were intentional, and 328 unintentional. For intentional injuries, the fatality rate was 39.1% and the disability rate 56.0%. Gunshots where the major cause of injury through 2006 when blasts/explosions became the most common cause and remained so through 2014. Among unintentional injuries, the fatality rate was 7.3% and the disability rate 77.1%. The major cause of unintentional injuries was falls (131) which have increased dramatically since 2008, followed by traffic related injuries (81), which have steadily increased. The proportion of injuries ending in disabilities remained fairly constant through the survey period.

Interpretation

Intentional injuries added substantially to the burden of unintentional injuries for the population. For Baghdad, the phases of the Iraqi conflict are reflected in the patterns of injuries and consequent deaths reported. The scale of injuries during conflict is most certainly under-reported. Difficulties recalling injuries in a survey covering 11 years is a limitation, but it is likely that minor injuries were under-reported more than severe injuries. The in- and out-migration of Baghdad populations likely had effects on the events reported which we could not measure or estimate. Damage to the health infrastructure and the flight of health workers may have contributed to mortality and morbidity. Civilian injuries as well as mortality should be measured during conflicts, though not currently done.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Identification of CD4-Binding Site Dependent Plasma Neutralizing Antibodies in an HIV-1 Infected Indian Individual

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Dissecting antibody specificities in the plasma of HIV-1 infected individuals that develop broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) is likely to provide useful information for refining target epitopes for vaccine design. Several studies have reported CD4-binding site (CD4bs) antibodies as neutralization determinants in the plasma of subtype B-infected individuals; however there is little information on the prevalence of CD4bs specificities in HIV-infected individuals in India. Here, we report on the presence of CD4bs antibodies and their contribution to virus neutralization in the plasma from a cohort of HIV-1 infected Indian individuals. Plasma from 11 of the 140 HIV-1 infected individuals (7.9%) studied here exhibited cross-neutralization activity against a panel of subtype B and C viruses. Analyses of these 11 plasma samples for the presence of CD4bs antibodies using two CD4bs-selective probes (antigenically resurfaced HXB2gp120 core protein RSC3 and hyperglycosylated JRFLgp120 mutant ΔN2mCHO) revealed that five (AIIMS 617, 619, 627, 642, 660) contained RSC3-reactive plasma antibodies and only one (AIIMS 660) contained ΔN2mCHO-reactive antibodies. Plasma antibody depletion and competition experiments confirmed that the neutralizing activity in the AIIMS 660 plasma was dependent on CD4bs antibodies. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report specifically on the presence of CD4bs antibodies in the plasma of a cohort of HIV-1 infected Indian donors. The identification of CD4bs dependent neutralizing antibodies in an HIV-1 infected Indian donor is a salient finding of this study and is supportive of ongoing efforts to induce similar antibodies by immunization.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Incidence and Prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease among Aboriginal Peoples in Alberta, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major respiratory disorder, largely caused by smoking that has been linked with large health inequalities worldwide. There are important gaps in our knowledge about how COPD affects Aboriginal peoples. This retrospective cohort study assessed the epidemiology of COPD in a cohort of Aboriginal peoples relative to a non-Aboriginal cohort.

Methods

We used linkage of administrative health databases in Alberta (Canada) from April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2010 to compare the annual prevalence, and the incidence rates of COPD between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cohorts aged 35 years and older. Poisson regression models adjusted the analysis for important sociodemographic factors.

Results

Compared to a non-Aboriginal cohort, prevalence estimates of COPD from 2002 to 2010 were 2.3 to 2.4 times greater among Registered First Nations peoples, followed by the Inuit (1.86 to 2.10 times higher) and the Métis (1.59 to 1.67 times higher). All Aboriginal peoples had significantly higher COPD incidence rates than the non-Aboriginal group (incidence rate ratio [IRR]: 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.97, 2.27). COPD incidence rates were higher in First Nation peoples (IRR: 2.37; 95% CI: 2.19, 2.56) followed by Inuit (IRR: 1.92; 95% CI: 1.64, 2.25) and Métis (IRR: 1.49; 95% CI: 1.32, 1.69) groups.

Conclusions

We found a high burden of COPD among Aboriginal peoples living in Alberta; a province with the third largest Aboriginal population in Canada. Altogether, the three Aboriginal peoples groups have higher prevalence and incidence of COPD compared to a non-Aboriginal cohort. The condition affects the three Aboriginal groups differently; Registered First Nations and Inuit have the highest burden of COPD. Reasons for these differences should be further explored within a framework of social determinants of health to help designing interventions that effectively influence modifiable COPD risk factors in each of the Aboriginal groups.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Screening of the Pan-African Natural Product Library Identifies Ixoratannin A-2 and Boldine as Novel HIV-1 Inhibitors

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

The continued burden of HIV in resource-limited regions such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa, combined with adverse effects and potential risks of resistance to existing antiretroviral therapies, emphasize the need to identify new HIV inhibitors. Here we performed a virtual screen of molecules from the pan-African Natural Product Library, the largest collection of medicinal plant-derived pure compounds on the African continent. We identified eight molecules with structural similarity to reported interactors of Vpu, an HIV-1 accessory protein with reported ion channel activity. Using in vitro HIV-1 replication assays with a CD4+ T cell line and peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we confirmed antiviral activity and minimal cytotoxicity for two compounds, ixoratannin A-2 and boldine. Notably, ixoratannin A-2 retained inhibitory activity against recombinant HIV-1 strains encoding patient-derived mutations that confer resistance to protease, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase, or integrase inhibitors. Moreover, ixoratannin A-2 was less effective at inhibiting replication of HIV-1 lacking Vpu, supporting this protein as a possible direct or indirect target. In contrast, boldine was less effective against a protease inhibitor-resistant HIV-1 strain. Both ixoratannin A-2 and boldine also inhibited in vitro replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, BIT-225, a previously-reported Vpu inhibitor, demonstrated antiviral activity but also cytotoxicity in HIV-1 and HCV replication assays. Our work identifies pure compounds derived from African plants with potential novel activities against viruses that disproportionately afflict resource-limited regions of the world.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Smoke Rings: Towards a Comprehensive Tobacco Free Policy for the Olympic Games

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Background

The tobacco industry has long sought affiliation with major sporting events, including the Olympic Games, for marketing, advertising and promotion purposes. Since 1988, each Olympic Games has adopted a tobacco-free policy. Limited study of the effectiveness of the smoke-free policy has been undertaken to date, with none examining the tobacco industry’s involvement with the Olympics or use of the Olympic brand.

Methods and Findings

A comparison of the contents of Olympic tobacco-free policies from 1988 to 2014 was carried out by searching the websites of the IOC and host NOCs. The specific tobacco control measures adopted for each Games were compiled and compared with measures recommended by the WHO Tobacco Free Sports Initiative and Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This was supported by semi-structured interviews of key informants involved with the adoption of tobacco-free policies for selected games. To understand the industry’s interests in the Olympics, the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu) was systematically searched between June 2013 and August 2014. Company websites, secondary sources and media reports were also searched to triangulate the above data sources.

This paper finds that, while most direct associations between tobacco and the Olympics have been prohibited since 1988, a variety of indirect associations undermine the Olympic tobacco-free policy. This is due to variation in the scope of tobacco-free policies, limited jurisdiction and continued efforts by the industry to be associated with Olympic ideals.

Conclusions

The paper concludes that, compatible with the IOC’s commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles, a comprehensive tobacco-free policy with standardized and binding measures should be adopted by the International Olympic Committee and all national Olympic committees.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

A Physical Interaction between the Dopamine Transporter and DJ-1 Facilitates Increased Dopamine Reuptake

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

The regulation of the dopamine transporter (DAT) impacts extracellular dopamine levels after release from dopaminergic neurons. Furthermore, a variety of protein partners have been identified that can interact with and modulate DAT function. In this study we show that DJ-1 can potentially modulate DAT function. Co-expression of DAT and DJ-1 in HEK-293T cells leads to an increase in [3H] dopamine uptake that does not appear to be mediated by increased total DAT expression but rather through an increase in DAT cell surface localization. In addition, through a series of GST affinity purifications and co-immunoprecipitations, we provide evidence that the DAT can be found in a complex with DJ-1, which involve distinct regions within both DAT and DJ-1. Using in vitro binding experiments we also show that this complex can be formed in part by a direct interaction between DAT and DJ-1. Co-expression of a mini-gene that can disrupt the DAT/DJ-1 complex appears to block the increase in [3H] dopamine uptake by DJ-1. Mutations in DJ-1 have been linked to familial forms of Parkinson’s disease, yet the normal physiological function of DJ-1 remains unclear. Our study suggests that DJ-1 may also play a role in regulating dopamine levels by modifying DAT activity.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Randomized Controlled Trials in Environmental Health Research: Unethical or Underutilized?

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Probing Mechanical Properties of Jurkat Cells under the Effect of ART Using Oscillating Optical Tweezers

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Acute lymphoid leukemia is a common type of blood cancer and chemotherapy is the initial treatment of choice. Quantifying the effect of a chemotherapeutic drug at the cellular level plays an important role in the process of the treatment. In this study, an oscillating optical tweezer was employed to characterize the frequency-dependent mechanical properties of Jurkat cells exposed to the chemotherapeutic agent, artesunate (ART). A motion equation for a bead bound to a cell was applied to describe the mechanical characteristics of the cell cytoskeleton. By comparing between the modeling results and experimental results from the optical tweezer, the stiffness and viscosity of the Jurkat cells before and after the ART treatment were obtained. The results demonstrate a weak power-law dependency of cell stiffness with frequency. Furthermore, the stiffness and viscosity were increased after the treatment. Therefore, the cytoskeleton cell stiffness as the well as power-law coefficient can provide a useful insight into the chemo-mechanical relationship of drug treated cancer cells and may serve as another tool for evaluating therapeutic performance quantitatively.

Document type: 
Article
File(s):