ResearchPad - guinea https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Levosimendan reduces segmental pulmonary vascular resistance in isolated perfused rat lungs and relaxes human pulmonary vessels]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15739 Levosimendan is approved for acute heart failure. Within this context, pulmonary hypertension represents a frequent co-morbidity. Hence, the effects of levosimendan on segmental pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) are relevant. So far, this issue has been not studied. Beyond that the relaxant effects of levosimendan in human pulmonary vessel are unknown. We addressed these topics in rats’ isolated perfused lungs (IPL) and human precision-cut lung slices (PCLS).Material and methodsIn IPL, levosimendan (10 μM) was perfused in untreated and endothelin-1 pre-contracted lungs. The pulmonary arterial pressure (PPA) was continuously recorded and the capillary pressure (Pcap) was determined by the double-occlusion method. Thereafter, segmental PVR, expressed as precapillary (Rpre) and postcapillary resistance (Rpost) and PVR were calculated. Human PCLS were prepared from patients undergoing lobectomy. Levosimendan-induced relaxation was studied in naïve and endothelin-1 pre-contracted PAs and PVs. In endothelin-1 pre-contracted PAs, the role of K+-channels was studied by inhibition of KATP-channels (glibenclamide), BKCa2+-channels (iberiotoxin) and Kv-channels (4-aminopyridine). All changes of the vascular tone were measured by videomicroscopy. In addition, the increase of cAMP/GMP due to levosimendan was measured by ELISA.ResultsLevosimendan did not relax untreated lungs or naïve PAs and PVs. In IPL, levosimendan attenuated the endothelin-1 induced increase of PPA, PVR, Rpre and Rpost. In human PCLS, levosimendan relaxed pre-contracted PAs or PVs to 137% or 127%, respectively. In pre-contracted PAs, the relaxant effect of levosimendan was reduced, if KATP- and Kv-channels were inhibited. Further, levosimendan increased cGMP in PAs/PVs, but cAMP only in PVs.DiscussionLevosimendan reduces rats’ segmental PVR and relaxes human PAs or PVs, if the pulmonary vascular tone is enhanced by endothelin-1. Regarding levosimendan-induced relaxation, the activation of KATP- and Kv-channels is of impact, as well as the formation of cAMP and cGMP. In conclusion, our results suggest that levosimendan improves pulmonary haemodynamics, if PVR is increased as it is the case in pulmonary hypertension. ]]> <![CDATA[Confidential, accessible point-of-care sexual health services to support the participation of key populations in biobehavioural surveys: Lessons for Papua New Guinea and other settings where reach of key populations is limited]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14720 To achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets at a national level, many countries must accelerate service coverage among key populations. To do this, key population programs have adopted methods similar to those used in respondent-driven sampling (RDS) to expand reach. A deeper understanding of factors from RDS surveys that enhance health service engagement can improve key population programs. To understand the in-depth lives of key populations, acceptance of expanded point-of-care biological testing and determine drivers of participation in RDS surveys, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 111 key population participants (12–65 years) were purposefully selected from six biobehavioral surveys (BBS) in three cities in Papua New Guinea. Key populations were female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and transgender women. Four reasons motivated individuals to participate in the BBS: peer referrals; private, confidential, and stigma-free study facilities; “one-stop shop” services that provided multiple tests and with same-day results, sexually transmitted infection treatment, and referrals; and the desire to know ones’ health status. Biobehavioral surveys, and programs offering key population services can incorporate the approach we used to facilitate key population engagement in the HIV cascade.

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<![CDATA[How much is enough? Exploring the dose-response relationship between cash transfers and surgical utilization in a resource-poor setting]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14571 Cash transfers are a common intervention to incentivize salutary behavior in resource-constrained settings. Many cash transfer studies do not, however, account for the effect of the size of the cash transfer in design or analysis. A randomized, controlled trial of a cash-transfer intervention is planned to incentivize appropriate surgical utilization in Guinea. The aim of the current study is to determine the size of that cash transfer so as to maximize compliance while minimizing cost.MethodsData were collected from nine coastal Guinean hospitals on their surgical capabilities and the cost of receiving surgery. These data were combined with publicly available data about the general Guinean population to create an agent-based model predicting surgical utilization. The model was validated to the available literature on surgical utilization. Cash transfer sizes from 0 to 1,000,000 Guinean francs were evaluated, with surgical compliance as the primary outcome.ResultsCompliance with scheduled surgery increases as the size of a cash transfer increases. This increase is asymptotic, with a leveling in utilization occurring when the cash transfer pays for all the costs associated with surgical care. Below that cash transfer size, no other optima are found. Once a cash transfer completely covers the costs of surgery, other barriers to care such as distance and hospital quality dominateConclusionCash transfers to incentivize health-promoting behavior appear to be dose-dependent. Maximal impact is likely only to occur when full patient costs are eliminated. These findings should be incorporated in the design of future cash transfer studies. ]]> <![CDATA[Methamphetamine administration increases hepatic CYP1A2 but not CYP3A activity in female guinea pigs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7848 Methamphetamine use has increased over the past decade and the first use of methamphetamine is most often when women are of reproductive age. Methamphetamine accumulates in the liver; however, little is known about the effect of methamphetamine use on hepatic drug metabolism. Methamphetamine was administered on 3 occassions to female Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs of reproductive age, mimicking recreational drug use. Low doses of test drugs caffeine and midazolam were administered after the third dose of methamphetamine to assess the functional activity of cytochrome P450 1A2 and 3A, respectively. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify the mRNA expression of factors involved in glucocorticoid signalling, inflammation, oxidative stress and drug transporters. This study showed that methamphetamine administration decreased hepatic CYP1A2 mRNA expression, but increased CYP1A2 enzyme activity. Methamphetamine had no effect on CYP3A enzyme activity. In addition, we found that methamphetamine may also result in changes in glucocorticoid bioavailability, as we found a decrease in 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 mRNA expression, which converts inactive cortisone into active cortisol. This study has shown that methamphetamine administration has the potential to alter drug metabolism via the CYP1A2 metabolic pathway in female guinea pigs. This may have clinical implications for drug dosing in female methamphetamine users of reproductive age.

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<![CDATA[Public Health Program for Decreasing Risk for Ebola Virus Disease Resurgence from Survivors of the 2013–2016 Outbreak, Guinea]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N68cea33a-2438-47b1-9bb2-2a02bad6b348

At the end of the 2013–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak in Guinea, we implemented an alert system for early detection of Ebola resurgence among survivors. Survivors were asked to report health alerts in their household and provide body fluid specimens for laboratory testing. During April–September 2016, a total of 1,075 (88%) of 1,215 survivors participated in the system; follow up occurred at a median of 16 months after discharge (interquartile range 14–18 months). Of these, 784 acted as focal points and reported 1,136 alerts (including 4 deaths among survivors). A total of 372 (91%) of 408 eligible survivors had >1 semen specimen tested; of 817 semen specimens, 5 samples from 4 survivors were positive up to 512 days after discharge. No lochia (0/7) or breast milk (0/69) specimens tested positive. Our findings underscore the importance of long-term monitoring of survivors’ semen samples in an Ebola-affected country.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of an intratracheal aerosol challenge model of Brucella melitensis in guinea pigs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823ccd5eed0c48463903c

B. melitensis is considered the most virulent of the Brucella species, and a need exists for an improved laboratory animal model of infection that mimics natural transmission and disease. Guinea pigs are highly susceptible to infection with Brucella spp. and develop a disease syndrome that mimics natural disease after aerosol inoculation. Intratracheal inoculation is a targeted means of generating aerosols that offer advantages over aerosol chamber delivery. To establish this delivery method, female, Hartley guinea pigs were infected via intratracheal inoculation with PBS or 16M B. melitensis at low dose (101 to 103) or high dose (106 to 108) and monitored for 30 days for signs of disease. Guinea pigs in the high dose groups developed fever between 12–17 days post-inoculation. Bacteria were recovered from the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, lung, and uterus at 30-days post-inoculation and demonstrated dose dependent mean increases in colonization and pathologic changes consistent with human brucellosis. To study the kinetics of extrapulmonary dissemination, guinea pigs were inoculated with 107 CFU and euthanized at 2-hours post inoculation and at weekly intervals for 3 weeks. 5.8x105 to 4.2x106 CFU were recovered from the lung 2 hours post-inoculation indicating intratracheal inoculation is an efficient means of infecting guinea pigs. Starting at 1-week post inoculation bacteria were recovered from the aforementioned organs with time dependent mean increases in colonization. This data demonstrates that guinea pigs develop a disease syndrome that models the human manifestation of brucellosis, which makes the guinea pig a valuable model for pathogenesis studies.

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<![CDATA[Exploring the contribution of exposure heterogeneity to the cessation of the 2014 Ebola epidemic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df34cd5eed0c4845810f8

The unexpected early cessation of the recent West Africa Ebola outbreak demonstrated shortcomings of popular forecasting approaches and has not been fully understood yet. A popular hypothesis is that public health interventions mitigated the spread, such as ETUs and safe burials. We investigate whether risk heterogeneity within the population could serve as an alternative explanation. We introduce a model for spread in heterogeneous host population that is particularly well suited for early predictions due to its simplicity and ease of application. Furthermore, we explore the conditions under which the observed epidemic trajectory can be explained without taking into account the effect of public health interventions. While the obtained fits closely match the total case count time series, closer inspection of sub-population results made us conclude that risk heterogeneity is unlikely to fully explain the early cessation of Ebola; other factors such as behavioral changes and other interventions likely played a major role. More accurate predictions in a future scenario require models that allow for early sub-exponential growth, as well as access to additional data on patient occupation (risk level) and location, to allow identify local phenomena that influence spreading behavior.

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<![CDATA[Efficacy of equine botulism antitoxin in botulism poisoning in a guinea pig model]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c424393d5eed0c4845e067e

Background

Botulism is a disease caused by neurogenic toxins that block acetylcholine release, resulting in potentially life threatening neuroparalysis. Seven distinct serotypes of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) have been described and are found in nature world-wide. This, combined with ease of production, make BoNTs a significant bioweapon threat. An essential countermeasure to this threat is an antitoxin to remove circulating toxin. An antitoxin, tradename BAT (Botulism Antitoxin Heptavalent (A, B, C, D, E, F, G)–(Equine)), has been developed and its efficacy evaluated against all seven serotypes in guinea pigs.

Methods and findings

Studies were conducted to establish the lethal dose and clinical course of intoxication for all seven toxins, and post-exposure prophylactic efficacy of BAT product. Animals were monitored for signs of intoxication and mortality for 14 days. Guinea pig intramuscular LD50s (GPIMLD50) for all BoNTs ranged from 2.0 (serotype C) to 73.2 (serotype E) of mouse intraperitoneal LD50 units. A dose of 4x GPIMLD50 was identified as the appropriate toxin dose for use in subsequent efficacy and post-exposure prophylaxis studies. The main clinical signs observed included hind limb paralysis, weak limb, change in breathing rate/pattern, and forced abdominal respiration. Mean time to onset of clinical signs ranged from 12 hours (serotype E) to 39 hours (serotype G). Twelve hours post-intoxication was selected as the appropriate time point for intervention for all serotypes apart from E where 6 hours was selected because of the rapid onset and progression of clinical signs. Post-exposure treatment with BAT product resulted in a significantly (p<0.0001) higher survival at >0.008 scaled human dose for serotypes A, B, C, F and G, at >0.2x for serotype D and >0.04x for serotype E.

Conclusions

These studies confirm the efficacy of BAT as a post-exposure prophylactic therapy against all seven known BoNT serotypes.

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<![CDATA[Roles of GP33, a guinea pig cytomegalovirus-encoded G protein-coupled receptor homolog, in cellular signaling, viral growth and inflammation in vitro and in vivo]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c25453fd5eed0c48442c35a

Cytomegaloviruses (CMVs) encode cellular homologs to evade host immune functions. In this study, we analyzed the roles of GP33, a guinea pig CMV (GPCMV)-encoded G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) homolog, in cellular signaling, viral growth and pathogenesis. The cDNA structure of GP33 was determined by RACE. The effects of GP33 on some signaling pathways were analyzed in transient transfection assays. The redET two-step recombination system for a BAC containing the GPCMV genome was used to construct a mutant GPCMV containing an early stop codon in the GP33 gene (Δ33) and a rescued GPCMV (r33). We found the following: 1) GP33 activated the CRE- and NFAT-, but not the NFκB-mediated signaling pathway. 2) GP33 was dispensable for infection in tissue cultures and in normal animals. 3) In pregnant animals, viral loads of r33 in the livers, lungs, spleens, and placentas at 6 days post-infection were higher than those of Δ33, although the viruses were cleared by 3 weeks post-infection. 4) The presence of GP33 was associated with frequent lesions, including alveolar hemorrhage in the lungs, and inflammation in the lungs, livers, and spleens of the dams. Our findings suggest that GP33 has critical roles in the pathogenesis of GPCMV during pregnancy. We hypothesize that GP33-mediated signaling activates cytokine secretion from the infected cells, which results in inflammation in some of the maternal organs and the placentas. Alternatively, GP33 may facilitate transient inflammation that is induced by the chemokine network specific to the pregnancy.

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<![CDATA[Guinea pig immunoglobulin VH and VL naïve repertoire analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1c0af3d5eed0c484426f9b

The guinea pig has been used as a model to study various human infectious diseases because of its similarity to humans regarding symptoms and immune response, but little is known about the humoral immune response. To better understand the mechanism underlying the generation of the antibody repertoire in guinea pigs, we performed deep sequencing of full-length immunoglobulin variable chains from naïve B and plasma cells. We gathered and analyzed nearly 16,000 full-length VH, Vκ and Vλ genes and analyzed V and J gene segment usage profiles and mutation statuses by annotating recently reported genome data of guinea pig immunoglobulin genes. We found that approximately 70% of heavy, 73% of kappa and 81% of lambda functional germline V gene segments are integrated into the actual V(D)J recombination events. We also found preferential use of a particular V gene segment and accumulated mutation in CDRs 1 and 2 in antigen-specific plasma cells. Our study represents the first attempt to characterize sequence diversity in the expressed guinea pig antibody repertoire and provides significant insight into antibody repertoire generation and Ig-based immunity of guinea pigs.

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<![CDATA[The incredible diversity of Labiobaetis Novikova & Kluge in New Guinea revealed by integrative taxonomy (Ephemeroptera, Baetidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c2a7908d5eed0c48422cb8e
Abstract

Material collected between 1999 and 2011 in Papua New Guinea and the Papua Province of Indonesia unveiled the enormous diversity of Labiobaetis on this island. Twenty-six new species were identified and delimited by integrative taxonomy using genetic distance (COI, Kimura-2-parameter) and morphology. These new species are described and illustrated based on larvae, augmenting the total number of Labiobaetis species on the island of New Guinea to 32. Seven morpho-groups of species are proposed based on morphological characters and a key to all New Guinea species is provided. The generic attributes of the larvae are summarised and slightly modified based on the examinations of the new species. Results on the genetics of most species (COI) are also provided. The interspecific K2P distances are between 13% and 32%, the intraspecific distances usually between 0% and 2%. Possible reasons for the remarkable richness of this genus in New Guinea are discussed.

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<![CDATA[Determinants of early afterdepolarization properties in ventricular myocyte models]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c059df8d5eed0c4849c996b

Early afterdepolarizations (EADs) are spontaneous depolarizations during the repolarization phase of an action potential in cardiac myocytes. It is widely known that EADs are promoted by increasing inward currents and/or decreasing outward currents, a condition called reduced repolarization reserve. Recent studies based on bifurcation theories show that EADs are caused by a dual Hopf-homoclinic bifurcation, bringing in further mechanistic insights into the genesis and dynamics of EADs. In this study, we investigated the EAD properties, such as the EAD amplitude, the inter-EAD interval, and the latency of the first EAD, and their major determinants. We first made predictions based on the bifurcation theory and then validated them in physiologically more detailed action potential models. These properties were investigated by varying one parameter at a time or using parameter sets randomly drawn from assigned intervals. The theoretical and simulation results were compared with experimental data from the literature. Our major findings are that the EAD amplitude and takeoff potential exhibit a negative linear correlation; the inter-EAD interval is insensitive to the maximum ionic current conductance but mainly determined by the kinetics of ICa,L and the dual Hopf-homoclinic bifurcation; and both inter-EAD interval and latency vary largely from model to model. Most of the model results generally agree with experimental observations in isolated ventricular myocytes. However, a major discrepancy between modeling results and experimental observations is that the inter-EAD intervals observed in experiments are mainly between 200 and 500 ms, irrespective of species, while those of the mathematical models exhibit a much wider range with some models exhibiting inter-EAD intervals less than 100 ms. Our simulations show that the cause of this discrepancy is likely due to the difference in ICa,L recovery properties in different mathematical models, which needs to be addressed in future action potential model development.

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<![CDATA[Survey of Ebola Viruses in Frugivorous and Insectivorous Bats in Guinea, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2015–2017]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1686c7d5eed0c484444aaf

To clarify the role of bats in the ecology of Ebola viruses, we assessed the prevalence of Ebola virus antibodies in a large-scale sample of bats collected during 2015–2017 from countries in Africa that have had previous Ebola outbreaks (Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo) or are at high risk for outbreaks (Cameroon). We analyzed 4,022 blood samples of bats from >12 frugivorous and 27 insectivorous species; 2–37 (0.05%–0.92%) bats were seropositive for Zaire and 0–30 (0%–0.75%) bats for Sudan Ebola viruses. We observed Ebola virus antibodies in 1 insectivorous bat genus and 6 frugivorous bat species. Certain bat species widespread across Africa had serologic evidence of Zaire and Sudan Ebola viruses. No viral RNA was detected in the subset of samples tested (n = 665). Ongoing surveillance of bats and other potential animal reservoirs are required to predict and prepare for future outbreaks.

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<![CDATA[Standardized guinea pig model for Q fever vaccine reactogenicity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bca48ef40307c0516656419

Historically, vaccination with Coxiella burnetii whole cell vaccines has induced hypersensitivity reactions in humans and animals that have had prior exposure to the pathogen as a result of infection or vaccination. Intradermal skin testing is routinely used to evaluate exposure in humans, and guinea pig hypersensitivity models have been developed to characterize the potential for reactogenicity in vaccine candidates. Here we describe a refinement of the guinea pig model using an alternate vaccine for positive controls. An initial comparative study used viable C. burnetii to compare the routes of sensitizing exposure of guinea pigs (intranasal vs intraperitoneal), evaluation of two time points for antigen challenge (21 and 42 days) and an assessment of two routes (intradermal and subcutaneous) of challenge using the ruminant vaccine Coxevac as the antigenic control. Animals sensitized by intraperitoneal exposure exhibited slightly larger gross reactions than did those sensitized by intranasal exposure, and reactions were more pronounced when skin challenge was performed at 42 days compared to 21 days post-sensitization. The intradermal route proved to be the optimal route of reactogenicity challenge. Histopathological changes at injection sites were similar to those previously reported and a scoring system was developed to compare reactions between groups receiving vaccine by intradermal versus subcutaneous routes. Based on the comparative study, a standardized protocol for assessment of vaccine reactogenicity in intranasally-sensitized animals was tested in a larger confirmatory study. Results suggest that screens utilizing a group size of n = 3 would achieve 90% power for detecting exposure-related reactogenic responses of the magnitude induced by Coxevac using either of two outcome measures.

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<![CDATA[Baseline trachoma prevalence in Guinea: Results of national trachoma mapping in 31 health districts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b28ba9e463d7e156497707f

Background

Based on previous studies, historical records and risk factors, trachoma was suspected to be endemic in 31 health districts (HDs) in Guinea. To facilitate planning for the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem, national trachoma surveys were conducted between 2011 and 2016 to determine the prevalence of trachomatous inflammation—follicular (TF) and trachomatous trichiasis (TT) in all 31 endemic HDs.

Methodology/Principal findings

A total of 27 cross-sectional surveys were conducted, each using two-stage cluster sampling (one survey in 2011 covered five HDs). Children aged 1–9 years and adults aged ≥15 years were examined for TF and TT, respectively, using the World Health Organization (WHO) simplified grading system. Indicators of household access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) were also collected. A total of 100,051 people from 13,725 households of 556 clusters were examined, of whom 44,899 were male and 55,152 were female. 44,209 children aged 1–9-years and 48,745 adults aged ≥15 years were examined. The adjusted prevalence of TF varied between 1.0% (95%CI: 0.6–1.5%) to 41.8% (95%CI: 39.4–44.2%), while the adjusted prevalence of TT ranged from 0.0% (95%CI: 0.0–0.2%) to 2.8% (95%CI: 2.3–3.5%) in the 27 surveys. In all, 18 HDs had a TF prevalence ≥5% in children aged 1–9 years and 21 HDs had a TT prevalence ≥0.2% in adults aged ≥15 years. There were an estimated 32,737 (95% CI: 19,986–57,811) individuals with TT living in surveyed HDs at the time of surveys.

Conclusions/Significance

Trachoma is a public health problem in Guinea. 18 HDs required intervention with at least one round of mass drug administration and an estimated 32,737 persons required TT surgery in the country. The results provided clear evidence for Guinea to plan for national trachoma elimination.

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<![CDATA[Truncated Bovine Integrin Alpha-v/Beta-6 as a Universal Capture Ligand for FMD Diagnosis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da6eab0ee8fa60b93c4d

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is endemic in many regions of the world and is one of the most prevalent epizootic animal diseases. FMD affects livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, and causes enormous economic losses due to reduced productivity and trade restrictions. Preparedness and early diagnosis are essential for effective control of FMD. Many diagnostic assays are dependent on raising high-affinity, anti-FMD virus (FMDV) serotype-specific antibodies in small animals (rabbits and guinea pigs) that give broad virus coverage. Here we show that soluble, truncated forms of bovine αvβ6 bind FMDV in an authentic RGD and divalent cation dependent interaction and can be used as the trapping reagent in a FMDV sandwich ELISA. In addition, inclusion of FLAG or His tags facilitates simple purification without the loss of virus binding. We also provide evidence that when combined with a guinea pig polyclonal serum, or serotype-specific monoclonal antibodies, the integrin can be used to detect viruses representative of all FMDV serotypes. We also show that recombinant FMDV empty capsids, with stabilising disulphide bonds, can serve as an antigen in the ELISA and can therefore replace inactivated virus antigen as a positive control for the assay. Our results demonstrate the potential use of bovine αvβ6 and FMDV empty capsids in FMD diagnostic assays.

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<![CDATA[Identification of Eight Different Isoforms of the Glucocorticoid Receptor in Guinea Pig Placenta: Relationship to Preterm Delivery, Sex and Betamethasone Exposure]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db42ab0ee8fa60bd71ec

The placental glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is central to glucocorticoid signalling and for mediating steroid effects on pathways associated with fetal growth and lung maturation but the GR has not been examined in the guinea pig placenta even though this animal is regularly used as a model of preterm birth and excess glucocorticoid exposure. Guinea pig dams received subcutaneous injections of either vehicle or betamethasone at 24 and 12 hours prior to preterm or term caesarean-section delivery. At delivery pup and organ weights were recorded. Placentae were dissected, weighed and analysed using Western blot to examine GR isoform expression in nuclear and cytoplasmic extracts. A comparative examination of the guinea pig GR gene identified it is capable of producing seven of the eight translational GR isoforms which include GRα-A, C1, C2, C3, D1, D2, and D3. GRα-B is not produced in the Guinea Pig. Total GR antibody identified 10 specific bands from term (n = 29) and preterm pregnancies (n = 27). Known isoforms included GRγ, GRα A, GRβ, GRP, GRA and GRα D1-3. There were sex and gestational age differences in placental GR isoform expression. Placental GRα A was detected in the cytoplasm of all groups but was significantly increased in the cytoplasm and nucleus of preterm males and females exposed to betamethasone and untreated term males (KW-ANOVA, P = 0.0001, P = 0.001). Cytoplasmic expression of GRβ was increased in female preterm placentae and preterm and term male placentae exposed to betamethasone (P = 0.01). Nuclear expression of GRβ was increased in all placentae exposed to betamethasone (P = 0.0001). GRα D2 and GRα D3 were increased in male preterm placentae when exposed to betamethasone (P = 0.01, P = 0.02). The current data suggests the sex-specific placental response to maternal betamethasone may be dependent on the expression of a combination of GR isoforms.

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<![CDATA[T140 blocks the SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling pathway and prevents cartilage degeneration in an osteoarthritis disease model]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc569

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common diseases affecting older people; however, there remains no effective targeted drug to combat OA. The aims of this study were (1) to explore the effect of T140 in regulating degeneration of articular cartilage in vivo by targeted blocking of the SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling pathway, and (2) to provide experimental evidence for the development of a novel OA-targeted pharmacotherapy. Thirty-six healthy Hartley guinea pigs were randomly divided into three groups: a T140-treated group (n = 12), a phosphate buffer saline control group (n = 12) and an untreated control group (n = 12). At 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks of treatment, SDF-1 in serum was quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. At 12 weeks of treatment, the cartilage from knee tibial plateau in the knee joint was collected for H&E, Safranin-O staining and Mankin grading; measurement for mRNA levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-3, MMP-9 and MMP-13), aggrecan (ACAN) and collagen II (Col II) using RT-PCR; and measurement for Col II protein levels by western blot. Results showed that SDF-1 in serum increased in the T140 group and increased in the control groups. H&E and Safranin-O staining revealed less cartilage loss in T140-treated animals compared to controls. The mRNA levels of MMP-3, MMP-9 and MMP-13 in cartilage were much lower in the T140 group than other groups, but mRNA levels of ACAN and Col II in cartilage were higher in the T140-treated group. Col II protein levels in the T140 group and control groups were different. T140 can downregulate the expression of matrix-degrading enzyme and lessen the degeneration of cartilage by blocking the SDF-1/CRCR4 signaling pathway in vivo. This mechanism may present a pharmacological target for the treatment of OA.

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<![CDATA[Heterogeneity in District-Level Transmission of Ebola Virus Disease during the 2013-2015 Epidemic in West Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da82ab0ee8fa60b9ae8f

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa in 2013–2015 spread heterogeneously across the three hardest-hit countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the estimation of national transmission of EVD provides little information about local dynamics. To investigate district-level transmissibility of EVD, we applied a statistical modelling approach to estimate the basic reproduction number (R0) for each affected district and each country using weekly incident case numbers. We estimated growth rates during the early exponential phase of the outbreak using exponential regression of the case counts on the first eight weeks since onset. To take into account the heterogeneity between and within countries, we fitted a mixed effects model and calculated R0 based on the predicted individual growth rates and the reported serial interval distribution. At district level, R0 ranged from 0.36 (Dubréka) to 1.72 (Beyla) in Guinea, from 0.53 (Maryland) to 3.37 (Margibi) in Liberia and from 1.14 (Koinadugu) to 2.73 (Western Rural) in Sierra Leone. At national level, we estimated an R0 of 0.97 (95% CI 0.77–1.18) for Guinea, 1.26 (95% CI 0.98–1.55) for Liberia and 1.66 (95% CI 1.32–2.00) for Sierra Leone. Socio-demographic variables related to urbanisation such as high population density and high wealth index were found positively associated with R0 suggesting that the consequences of fast urban growth in West Africa may have contributed to the increased spread of EVD.

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<![CDATA[Improved Auditory Nerve Survival with Nanoengineered Supraparticles for Neurotrophin Delivery into the Deafened Cochlea]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dad6ab0ee8fa60bb81fe

Cochlear implants electrically stimulate spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) in order to provide speech cues to severe-profoundly deaf patients. In normal hearing cochleae the SGNs depend on endogenous neurotrophins secreted by sensory cells in the organ of Corti for survival. SGNs gradually degenerate following deafness and consequently there is considerable interest in developing clinically relevant strategies to provide exogenous neurotrophins to preserve SGN survival. The present study investigated the safety and efficacy of a drug delivery system for the cochlea using nanoengineered silica supraparticles. In the present study we delivered Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) over a period of four weeks and evaluated SGN survival as a measure of efficacy. Supraparticles were bilaterally implanted into the basal turn of cochleae in profoundly deafened guinea pigs. One ear received BDNF-loaded supraparticles and the other ear control (unloaded) supraparticles. After one month of treatment the cochleae were examined histologically. There was significantly greater survival of SGNs in cochleae that received BDNF supraparticles compared to the contralateral control cochleae (repeated measures ANOVA, p = 0.009). SGN survival was observed over a wide extent of the cochlea. The supraparticles were well tolerated within the cochlea with a tissue response that was localised to the site of implantation in the cochlear base. Although mild, the tissue response was significantly greater in cochleae treated with BDNF supraparticles compared to the controls (repeated measures ANOVA, p = 0.003). These data support the clinical potential of this technology particularly as the supraparticles can be loaded with a variety of therapeutic drugs.

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