QBI research publications

  • Crystallising the everyday emotional work of women working in childcare during Covid-19

    As an interdisciplinary team, “crystallization” is an invaluable methodology for making our writing impactful for a broad readership. The authors show that crystallisation has two key benefits: it enriches understandings of the embodied and affective dimensions of emotional labour, and—as Laurel Richardson insists, is essential for “reach[ing] beyond academia, teaching all of us about social injustice and methods of alleviating it.” Underneath the shimmering surface of the computer screen, Emma senses the glowing jewels, the hailing data, lurking within the matter-of-fact interview transcript. In Australia, government mandates restricted children's physical attendance at ECEC at various points throughout the pandemic. During these restrictions, ECEC services were permitted to provide care and education only for children of essential workers. Emma and Laetitia—feminist researchers and seasoned DRAWers with sociological imaginations—read through the transcripts and were struck by service directors' accounts.
  • Polygenic risk of mental disorders and subject-specific school grades

    Education is essential for socioeconomic security and long-term mental health, however mental disorders are often detrimental to the educational trajectory. Genetic correlations between mental disorders and educational attainment do not always align with corresponding phenotypic associations, implying heterogeneity in the genetic overlap.

    We unraveled this heterogeneity by investigating associations between polygenic risk scores for six mental disorders and fine-grained school outcomes: school grades in language and mathematics in ninth grade and high school, as well as educational attainment by age 25, using nationwide-representative data from established cohorts (n = 79,489).

    High polygenic liability of attention-deficit hyperactivity-disorder was associated with lower grades in language and mathematics, whereas high polygenic risk of anorexia nervosa or bipolar disorder was associated with higher grades in language and mathematics. Associations between polygenic risk and school grades were mixed for schizophrenia and major depressive disorder, and neutral for autism spectrum disorder.

    Polygenic risk scores for mental disorders are differentially associated with language and mathematics school grades.
  • Long-term improvement in hippocampal-dependent learning ability in healthy, aged individuals following high intensity interval training

    Physical exercise may reduce dementia risk in aging, but varying reports on its effectiveness make it challenging to ascribe what level of exercise will have significant longer-term effects on important functions such as hippocampal-based learning and memory. This study compared the effect of three different 6-month exercise regimens on hippocampal-dependent cognition in healthy, elderly individuals. Participants, aged 65-85 with no cognitive deficits, were randomly assigned to one of three exercise interventions (low (LIT), medium (MIT), and High intensity interval training (HIIT), respectively). Each participant attended 72 supervised exercise sessions over a 6-month period. A total of 151 participants completed all sessions. Cognitive testing for hippocampal performance occurred monthly, as did blood collection, and continued for up to 5 years following initiation of the study. Multimodal 7 Tesla MRI scans were taken at commencement, 6 and 12 months. After 6 months, only the HIIT group displayed significant improvement in hippocampal function, as measured by paired associative learning (PAL). MRI from the HIIT group showed abrogation of the age-dependent volumetric decrease within several cortical regions including the hippocampus and improved functional connectivity between multiple neural networks not seen in the other groups. HIIT-mediated changes in the circulating levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cortisol correlated to improved hippocampal-dependent cognitive ability. These findings demonstrate that HIIT significantly improves and prolongs the hippocampal-dependent cognitive health of aged individuals. Importantly, improvement was retained for at least 5 years following initiation of HIIT, suggesting that the changes seen in hippocampal volume and connectivity underpin this long-term maintenance. Sustained improvement in hippocampal function to this extent confirms that such exercise-based interventions can provide significant protection against hippocampal cognitive decline in the aged population. The changes in specific blood factor levels also may provide useful biomarkers for choosing the optimal exercise regimen to promote cognitive improvement.
  • Clinical and neuropsychological correlates of theta-band functional excitation-inhibition ratio in autism: an EEG study

    Objective: How abnormal brain signaling impacts cognition in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remained elusive. This study aimed to investigate the local and global brain signaling in ASD indicated by theta-band functional excitation-inhibition (fE/I) ratio and explored psychophysiological relationships between fE/I, cognitive deficits, and ASD symptomatology.Methods: A total of 83 ASD and typically developing (TD) individuals participated in this study. Participants’ interference control and set-shifting abilities were assessed. Resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) was used for estimating theta-band fE/I ratio.Results: ASD individuals (n = 31 without visual EEG abnormality; n = 22 with visual EEG abnormality) generally performed slower in a cognitive task tapping interference control and set-maintenance abilities, but only ASD individuals with visually abnormal EEG performed significantly slower than their TD counterparts (Bonferroni-corrected ps < .001). Heightened theta-band fE/I ratios at the whole-head level, left and right hemispheres were observed in the ASD subgroup without visual EEG abnormality only (Bonferroni-corrected ps < .001), which remained highly significant when only data from medication-naïve participants were analyzed. In addition, higher left hemispheric fE/I ratios in ASD individuals without visual EEG abnormality were significantly correlated with faster interference control task performance, in turn faster reaction time was significantly associated with less severe restricted, repetitive behavior (Bonferroni-corrected ps ≤ .0017).Conclusions: Differential theta-band fE/I within the ASD population. Heightened theta-band fE/I in ASD without visual EEG abnormality may be associated with more efficient filtering of distractors and a less severe ASD symptom manifestation.Significance: Brain signaling, indicated by theta-band fE/I, was different in ASD subgroups. Only ASD with visually-normal EEG showed heightened theta-band fE/I, which was associated with faster processing of visual distractors during a cognitive task. More efficient distractor filtering was associated with less restricted, repetitive behaviors.
  • Prevalence of autism in first-episode psychosis in two Hong Kong teaching hospitals

    Autistic features are commonly observed in children and adolescents with first-episode psychosis, but they are sometimes overlooked by clinicians and caregivers. By comprehensively examining the clinical profiles of 103 children and adolescents (below 18 years old) with first-episode psychosis and conducting the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (the 'gold standard' autism diagnostic tool) with their primary caregivers, we showed that around 28% of patients with first-episode psychosis had a comorbid autism diagnosis, and boys were 3.57 times more likely to have first-episode psychosis-autism spectrum disorder comorbidity than girls. After administering the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, we also observed that an additional 30% of patients with first-episode psychosis met the autism spectrum disorder diagnostic cut-off; their autism spectrum disorder symptoms were probably overshadowed by prodromal psychotic symptoms and left undetected before this study. The co-occurrence of autism and first-episode psychosis might be more common than we previously thought. Careful autism screening and assessment is highly recommended for clinicians working with patients with psychosis.
  • Synapse-specific trapping of SNARE machinery proteins in the anesthetized Drosophila brain

    General anesthetics disrupt brain network dynamics through multiple pathways, in part through postsynaptic potentiation of inhibitory ion channels as well as presynaptic inhibition of neuroexocytosis. Common clinical general anesthetic drugs, such as propofol and isoflurane, have been shown to interact and interfere with core components of the exocytic release machinery to cause impaired neurotransmitter release. Recent studies however suggest that these drugs do not affect all synapse subtypes equally. We investigated the role of the presynaptic release machinery in multiple neurotransmitter systems under isoflurane general anesthesia in the adult female Drosophila brain using live-cell super-resolution microscopy and optogenetic readouts of exocytosis and neural excitability. We activated neurotransmitter-specific mushroom body output neurons and imaged presynaptic function under isoflurane anesthesia. We found that isoflurane impaired synaptic release and presynaptic protein dynamics in excitatory cholinergic synapses. In contrast, isoflurane had little to no effect on inhibitory GABAergic or glutamatergic synapses. These results present a distinct inhibitory mechanism for general anesthesia, whereby neuroexocytosis is selectively impaired at excitatory synapses, while inhibitory synapses remain functional. This suggests a presynaptic inhibitory mechanism that complements the other inhibitory effects of these drugs.
  • Sex differences in Huntington's disease from a neuroinflammation perspective

    Huntington's disease (HD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative condition characterized by motor, cognitive and psychiatric abnormalities. Immune dysregulation, prominently featuring increased immune activity, plays a significant role in HD pathogenesis. In addition to the central nervous system (CNS), systemic innate immune activation and inflammation are observed in HD patients, exacerbating the effects of the Huntingtin (HTT) gene mutation. Recent attention to sex differences in HD symptom severity underscores the need to consider gender as a biological variable in neurodegenerative disease research. Understanding sex-specific immune responses holds promise for elucidating HD pathophysiology and informing targeted treatment strategies to mitigate cognitive and functional decline. This perspective will highlight the importance of investigating gender influence in HD, particularly focusing on sex-specific immune responses predisposing individuals to disease.
  • Complement(ing) long-COVID thromboinflammation and pathogenesis

    The persistence or recurrence of symptoms after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, termed 'long COVID', presents a formidable challenge to global healthcare systems. Recent research by Cervia-Hasler and colleagues delves into the intricate immunological landscape in patients with long COVID, demonstrating an interplay between complement and coagulation, driven by antiviral antibodies and tissue damage.
  • Pre-COVID life expectancy, mortality, and burden of diseases for adults 70 years and older in Australia: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease 2019 Study

    Background: The Australian population aged 70 and above is increasing and imposing new challenges for policy makers and providers to deliver accessible, appropriate and affordable health care. We examine pre-COVID patterns of health loss between 1990 and 2019 to inform policies and practices. Methods: Using the standardised methodology framework and analytical strategies from GBD 2019 methodologies, we estimated mortality, causes of death, years of life lost (YLLs), years lived with disability (YLDs), disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), life expectancy at age 70 and above (LE-70), and healthy life expectancy (HALE-70) in Australia comparing them globally and with high socio-demographic index (SDI) groups. Findings: DALY rates have been improving steadily over the past 30 years among Australians aged 70 and above. Decreases in DALY rates were primarily attributed to a fall in YLLs attributable to cardiovascular diseases (60%) and chronic respiratory disorders (30.2%) and transport injuries (56.9%), while the non-fatal burden remained stable from 1990 to 2019. According to the DALY rates, the top five leading causes are ischemic heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, COPD, stroke, and falls, where falls exhibited the largest increase since 1990. Interpretation: This study provides an in-depth report on the main causes of mortality and disability in Australia's population aged 70 and above. It sheds light on the shifts in burden over three decades, emphasising the need for the Australian health system to enhance its readiness in addressing the escalating demands of an ageing population. These findings establish pre-COVID baseline estimates for Australia's population aged 70 and above, informing healthcare preparedness. Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • A systematic review of cognitive and behavioral tools to differentiate behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia from other conditions

    The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is thought to be the commonest clinical presentation of frontotemporal lobar degeneration and is predominantly characterized by changes in behavior. In patients lacking unequivocal biomarker evidence of frontotemporal neurodegeneration, the clinical diagnosis of bvFTD is often unstable. In response, we conducted a systematic review and critical appraisal of cognitive and behavioral tools that have sought to differentiate bvFTD from other conditions. A systematic literature review of PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science was conducted on December 31, 2023 for cognitive and behavioral tools that differentiated bvFTD from other cohorts. Ninety-six studies were included. The quality appraisal of almost all studies was low and introduced a high risk of bias. The few studies that were of high quality had a prospective study design and recruited patients suspected (but not yet confirmed) to have bvFTD. These studies reported that behavioral tools (e.g., the Frontal Behavioral Inventory) and social cognition tests (e.g., the Ekman's Faces Test) had good test performance in differentiating bvFTD from a broad range of psychiatric and neurological conditions. Importantly, the review highlighted the extreme paucity of studies that have evaluated methods where, in Bayesian terms, there is genuine clinical uncertainty regarding a diagnosis of bvFTD. Most studies used healthy controls or typical Alzheimer's disease as comparators—groups that often have negligible pretest probability of bvFTD. In response, we propose a study design checklist for studies seeking to develop diagnostic algorithms in bvFTD research.
  • Plasma extracellular vesicle tau and TDP-43 as diagnostic biomarkers in FTD and ALS

    Minimally invasive biomarkers are urgently needed to detect molecular pathology in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, we show that plasma extracellular vesicles (EVs) contain quantifiable amounts of TDP-43 and full-length tau, which allow the quantification of 3-repeat (3R) and 4-repeat (4R) tau isoforms. Plasma EV TDP-43 levels and EV 3R/4R tau ratios were determined in a cohort of 704 patients, including 37 genetically and 31 neuropathologically proven cases. Diagnostic groups comprised patients with TDP-43 proteinopathy ALS, 4R tauopathy progressive supranuclear palsy, behavior variant FTD (bvFTD) as a group with either tau or TDP-43 pathology, and healthy controls. EV tau ratios were low in progressive supranuclear palsy and high in bvFTD with tau pathology. EV TDP-43 levels were high in ALS and in bvFTD with TDP-43 pathology. Both markers discriminated between the diagnostic groups with area under the curve values >0.9, and between TDP-43 and tau pathology in bvFTD. Both markers strongly correlated with neurodegeneration, and clinical and neuropsychological markers of disease severity. Findings were replicated in an independent validation cohort of 292 patients including 34 genetically confirmed cases. Taken together, the combination of EV TDP-43 levels and EV 3R/4R tau ratios may aid the molecular diagnosis of FTD, FTD spectrum disorders and ALS, providing a potential biomarker to monitor disease progression and target engagement in clinical trials.
  • Recurrent gene flow events occurred during the diversification of clownfishes of the skunk complex

    Clownfish (subfamily Amphiprioninae) are an iconic group of coral reef fish that evolved a mutualistic interaction with sea anemones, which triggered the adaptive radiation of the clade. Within clownfishes, the "skunk complex" is particularly interesting. Besides ecological speciation, interspecific gene flow and hybrid speciation are thought to have shaped the evolution of the group. We investigated the mechanisms characterizing the diversification of this complex. By taking advantage of their disjunct geographical distribution, we obtained whole-genome data of sympatric and allopatric populations of the three main species of the complex (Amphiprion akallopisos, A. perideraion and A. sandaracinos). We examined population structure, genomic divergence and introgression signals and performed demographic modelling to identify the most realistic diversification scenario. We excluded scenarios of strict isolation or hybrid origin of A. sandaracinos. We discovered moderate gene flow from A. perideraion to the ancestor of A. akallopisos + A. sandaracinos and weak gene flow between the species in the Indo-Australian Archipelago throughout the diversification of the group. We identified introgressed regions in A. sandaracinos and detected in A. perideraion two large regions of high divergence from the two other species. While we found that gene flow has occurred throughout the species' diversification, we also observed that recent admixture was less pervasive than initially thought, suggesting a role of host repartition or behavioural barriers in maintaining the genetic identity of the species in sympatry.
  • LINE-1 retrotransposons contribute to mouse PV interneuron development

    Retrotransposons are mobile DNA sequences duplicated via transcription and reverse transcription of an RNA intermediate. Cis-regulatory elements encoded by retrotransposons can also promote the transcription of adjacent genes. Somatic LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposon insertions have been detected in mammalian neurons. It is, however, unclear whether L1 sequences are mobile in only some neuronal lineages or therein promote neurodevelopmental gene expression. Here we report programmed L1 activation by SOX6, a transcription factor critical for parvalbumin (PV) interneuron development. Mouse PV interneurons permit L1 mobilization in vitro and in vivo, harbor unmethylated L1 promoters and express full-length L1 mRNAs and proteins. Using nanopore long-read sequencing, we identify unmethylated L1s proximal to PV interneuron genes, including a novel L1 promoter-driven Caps2 transcript isoform that enhances neuron morphological complexity in vitro. These data highlight the contribution made by L1 cis-regulatory elements to PV interneuron development and transcriptome diversity, uncovered due to L1 mobility in this milieu.
  • Burden of disease scenarios for 204 countries and territories, 2022-2050: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

    BackgroundFuture trends in disease burden and drivers of health are of great interest to policy makers and the public at large. This information can be used for policy and long-term health investment, planning, and prioritisation. We have expanded and improved upon previous forecasts produced as part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) and provide a reference forecast (the most likely future), and alternative scenarios assessing disease burden trajectories if selected sets of risk factors were eliminated from current levels by 2050.MethodsUsing forecasts of major drivers of health such as the Socio-demographic Index (SDI; a composite measure of lag-distributed income per capita, mean years of education, and total fertility under 25 years of age) and the full set of risk factor exposures captured by GBD, we provide cause-specific forecasts of mortality, years of life lost (YLLs), years lived with disability (YLDs), and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) by age and sex from 2022 to 2050 for 204 countries and territories, 21 GBD regions, seven super-regions, and the world. All analyses were done at the cause-specific level so that only risk factors deemed causal by the GBD comparative risk assessment influenced future trajectories of mortality for each disease. Cause-specific mortality was modelled using mixed-effects models with SDI and time as the main covariates, and the combined impact of causal risk factors as an offset in the model. At the all-cause mortality level, we captured unexplained variation by modelling residuals with an autoregressive integrated moving average model with drift attenuation. These all-cause forecasts constrained the cause-specific forecasts at successively deeper levels of the GBD cause hierarchy using cascading mortality models, thus ensuring a robust estimate of cause-specific mortality. For non-fatal measures (eg, low back pain), incidence and prevalence were forecasted from mixed-effects models with SDI as the main covariate, and YLDs were computed from the resulting prevalence forecasts and average disability weights from GBD. Alternative future scenarios were constructed by replacing appropriate reference trajectories for risk factors with hypothetical trajectories of gradual elimination of risk factor exposure from current levels to 2050. The scenarios were constructed from various sets of risk factors: environmental risks (Safer Environment scenario), risks associated with communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases (CMNNs; Improved Childhood Nutrition and Vaccination scenario), risks associated with major non-communicable diseases (NCDs; Improved Behavioural and Metabolic Risks scenario), and the combined effects of these three scenarios. Using the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways climate scenarios SSP2-4.5 as reference and SSP1-1.9 as an optimistic alternative in the Safer Environment scenario, we accounted for climate change impact on health by using the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change temperature forecasts and published trajectories of ambient air pollution for the same two scenarios. Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy were computed using standard methods. The forecasting framework includes computing the age-sex-specific future population for each location and separately for each scenario. 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for each individual future estimate were derived from the 2·5th and 97·5th percentiles of distributions generated from propagating 500 draws through the multistage computational pipeline.FindingsIn the reference scenario forecast, global and super-regional life expectancy increased from 2022 to 2050, but improvement was at a slower pace than in the three decades preceding the COVID-19 pandemic (beginning in 2020). Gains in future life expectancy were forecasted to be greatest in super-regions with comparatively low life expectancies (such as sub-Saharan Africa) compared with super-regions with higher life expectancies (such as the high-income super-region), leading to a trend towards convergence in life expectancy across locations between now and 2050. At the super-region level, forecasted healthy life expectancy patterns were similar to those of life expectancies. Forecasts for the reference scenario found that health will improve in the coming decades, with all-cause age-standardised DALY rates decreasing in every GBD super-region. The total DALY burden measured in counts, however, will increase in every super-region, largely a function of population ageing and growth. We also forecasted that both DALY counts and age-standardised DALY rates will continue to shift from CMNNs to NCDs, with the most pronounced shifts occurring in sub-Saharan Africa (60·1% [95% UI 56·8–63·1] of DALYs were from CMNNs in 2022 compared with 35·8% [31·0–45·0] in 2050) and south Asia (31·7% [29·2–34·1] to 15·5% [13·7–17·5]). This shift is reflected in the leading global causes of DALYs, with the top four causes in 2050 being ischaemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, compared with 2022, with ischaemic heart disease, neonatal disorders, stroke, and lower respiratory infections at the top. The global proportion of DALYs due to YLDs likewise increased from 33·8% (27·4–40·3) to 41·1% (33·9–48·1) from 2022 to 2050, demonstrating an important shift in overall disease burden towards morbidity and away from premature death. The largest shift of this kind was forecasted for sub-Saharan Africa, from 20·1% (15·6–25·3) of DALYs due to YLDs in 2022 to 35·6% (26·5–43·0) in 2050. In the assessment of alternative future scenarios, the combined effects of the scenarios (Safer Environment, Improved Childhood Nutrition and Vaccination, and Improved Behavioural and Metabolic Risks scenarios) demonstrated an important decrease in the global burden of DALYs in 2050 of 15·4% (13·5–17·5) compared with the reference scenario, with decreases across super-regions ranging from 10·4% (9·7–11·3) in the high-income super-region to 23·9% (20·7–27·3) in north Africa and the Middle East. The Safer Environment scenario had its largest decrease in sub-Saharan Africa (5·2% [3·5–6·8]), the Improved Behavioural and Metabolic Risks scenario in north Africa and the Middle East (23·2% [20·2–26·5]), and the Improved Nutrition and Vaccination scenario in sub-Saharan Africa (2·0% [–0·6 to 3·6]).InterpretationGlobally, life expectancy and age-standardised disease burden were forecasted to improve between 2022 and 2050, with the majority of the burden continuing to shift from CMNNs to NCDs. That said, continued progress on reducing the CMNN disease burden will be dependent on maintaining investment in and policy emphasis on CMNN disease prevention and treatment. Mostly due to growth and ageing of populations, the number of deaths and DALYs due to all causes combined will generally increase. By constructing alternative future scenarios wherein certain risk exposures are eliminated by 2050, we have shown that opportunities exist to substantially improve health outcomes in the future through concerted efforts to prevent exposure to well established risk factors and to expand access to key health interventions.
  • Global incidence, prevalence, years lived with disability (YLDs), disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 371 diseases and injuries in 204 countries and territories and 811 subnational locations, 1990–2021: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

    BackgroundDetailed, comprehensive, and timely reporting on population health by underlying causes of disability and premature death is crucial to understanding and responding to complex patterns of disease and injury burden over time and across age groups, sexes, and locations. The availability of disease burden estimates can promote evidence-based interventions that enable public health researchers, policy makers, and other professionals to implement strategies that can mitigate diseases. It can also facilitate more rigorous monitoring of progress towards national and international health targets, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. For three decades, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) has filled that need. A global network of collaborators contributed to the production of GBD 2021 by providing, reviewing, and analysing all available data. GBD estimates are updated routinely with additional data and refined analytical methods. GBD 2021 presents, for the first time, estimates of health loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.MethodsThe GBD 2021 disease and injury burden analysis estimated years lived with disability (YLDs), years of life lost (YLLs), disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 371 diseases and injuries using 100 983 data sources. Data were extracted from vital registration systems, verbal autopsies, censuses, household surveys, disease-specific registries, health service contact data, and other sources. YLDs were calculated by multiplying cause-age-sex-location-year-specific prevalence of sequelae by their respective disability weights, for each disease and injury. YLLs were calculated by multiplying cause-age-sex-location-year-specific deaths by the standard life expectancy at the age that death occurred. DALYs were calculated by summing YLDs and YLLs. HALE estimates were produced using YLDs per capita and age-specific mortality rates by location, age, sex, year, and cause. 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) were generated for all final estimates as the 2·5th and 97·5th percentiles values of 500 draws. Uncertainty was propagated at each step of the estimation process. Counts and age-standardised rates were calculated globally, for seven super-regions, 21 regions, 204 countries and territories (including 21 countries with subnational locations), and 811 subnational locations, from 1990 to 2021. Here we report data for 2010 to 2021 to highlight trends in disease burden over the past decade and through the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic.FindingsGlobal DALYs increased from 2·63 billion (95% UI 2·44–2·85) in 2010 to 2·88 billion (2·64–3·15) in 2021 for all causes combined. Much of this increase in the number of DALYs was due to population growth and ageing, as indicated by a decrease in global age-standardised all-cause DALY rates of 14·2% (95% UI 10·7–17·3) between 2010 and 2019. Notably, however, this decrease in rates reversed during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, with increases in global age-standardised all-cause DALY rates since 2019 of 4·1% (1·8–6·3) in 2020 and 7·2% (4·7–10·0) in 2021. In 2021, COVID-19 was the leading cause of DALYs globally (212·0 million [198·0–234·5] DALYs), followed by ischaemic heart disease (188·3 million [176·7–198·3]), neonatal disorders (186·3 million [162·3–214·9]), and stroke (160·4 million [148·0–171·7]). However, notable health gains were seen among other leading communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional (CMNN) diseases. Globally between 2010 and 2021, the age-standardised DALY rates for HIV/AIDS decreased by 47·8% (43·3–51·7) and for diarrhoeal diseases decreased by 47·0% (39·9–52·9). Non-communicable diseases contributed 1·73 billion (95% UI 1·54–1·94) DALYs in 2021, with a decrease in age-standardised DALY rates since 2010 of 6·4% (95% UI 3·5–9·5). Between 2010 and 2021, among the 25 leading Level 3 causes, age-standardised DALY rates increased most substantially for anxiety disorders (16·7% [14·0–19·8]), depressive disorders (16·4% [11·9–21·3]), and diabetes (14·0% [10·0–17·4]). Age-standardised DALY rates due to injuries decreased globally by 24·0% (20·7–27·2) between 2010 and 2021, although improvements were not uniform across locations, ages, and sexes. Globally, HALE at birth improved slightly, from 61·3 years (58·6–63·6) in 2010 to 62·2 years (59·4–64·7) in 2021. However, despite this overall increase, HALE decreased by 2·2% (1·6–2·9) between 2019 and 2021.InterpretationPutting the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive list of causes of health loss is crucial to understanding its impact and ensuring that health funding and policy address needs at both local and global levels through cost-effective and evidence-based interventions. A global epidemiological transition remains underway. Our findings suggest that prioritising non-communicable disease prevention and treatment policies, as well as strengthening health systems, continues to be crucially important. The progress on reducing the burden of CMNN diseases must not stall; although global trends are improving, the burden of CMNN diseases remains unacceptably high. Evidence-based interventions will help save the lives of young children and mothers and improve the overall health and economic conditions of societies across the world. Governments and multilateral organisations should prioritise pandemic preparedness planning alongside efforts to reduce the burden of diseases and injuries that will strain resources in the coming decades.FundingBill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Global burden and strength of evidence for 88 risk factors in 204 countries and 811 subnational locations, 1990-2021: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

    Understanding the health consequences associated with exposure to risk factors is necessary to inform public health policy and practice. To systematically quantify the contributions of risk factor exposures to specific health outcomes, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2021 aims to provide comprehensive estimates of exposure levels, relative health risks, and attributable burden of disease for 88 risk factors in 204 countries and territories and 811 subnational locations, from 1990 to 2021.

    The GBD 2021 risk factor analysis used data from 54 561 total distinct sources to produce epidemiological estimates for 88 risk factors and their associated health outcomes for a total of 631 risk-outcome pairs. Pairs were included on the basis of data-driven determination of a risk-outcome association. Age-sex-location-year-specific estimates were generated at global, regional, and national levels. Our approach followed the comparative risk assessment framework predicated on a causal web of hierarchically organised, potentially combinative, modifiable risks. Relative risks (RRs) of a given outcome occurring as a function of risk factor exposure were estimated separately for each risk-outcome pair, and summary exposure values (SEVs), representing risk-weighted exposure prevalence, and theoretical minimum risk exposure levels (TMRELs) were estimated for each risk factor. These estimates were used to calculate the population attributable fraction (PAF; ie, the proportional change in health risk that would occur if exposure to a risk factor were reduced to the TMREL). The product of PAFs and disease burden associated with a given outcome, measured in disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), yielded measures of attributable burden (ie, the proportion of total disease burden attributable to a particular risk factor or combination of risk factors). Adjustments for mediation were applied to account for relationships involving risk factors that act indirectly on outcomes via intermediate risks. Attributable burden estimates were stratified by Socio-demographic Index (SDI) quintile and presented as counts, age-standardised rates, and rankings. To complement estimates of RR and attributable burden, newly developed burden of proof risk function (BPRF) methods were applied to yield supplementary, conservative interpretations of risk-outcome associations based on the consistency of underlying evidence, accounting for unexplained heterogeneity between input data from different studies. Estimates reported represent the mean value across 500 draws from the estimate's distribution, with 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) calculated as the 2·5th and 97·5th percentile values across the draws.

    Among the specific risk factors analysed for this study, particulate matter air pollution was the leading contributor to the global disease burden in 2021, contributing 8·0% (95% UI 6·7-9·4) of total DALYs, followed by high systolic blood pressure (SBP; 7·8% [6·4-9·2]), smoking (5·7% [4·7-6·8]), low birthweight and short gestation (5·6% [4·8-6·3]), and high fasting plasma glucose (FPG; 5·4% [4·8-6·0]). For younger demographics (ie, those aged 0-4 years and 5-14 years), risks such as low birthweight and short gestation and unsafe water, sanitation, and handwashing (WaSH) were among the leading risk factors, while for older age groups, metabolic risks such as high SBP, high body-mass index (BMI), high FPG, and high LDL cholesterol had a greater impact. From 2000 to 2021, there was an observable shift in global health challenges, marked by a decline in the number of all-age DALYs broadly attributable to behavioural risks (decrease of 20·7% [13·9-27·7]) and environmental and occupational risks (decrease of 22·0% [15·5-28·8]), coupled with a 49·4% (42·3-56·9) increase in DALYs attributable to metabolic risks, all reflecting ageing populations and changing lifestyles on a global scale. Age-standardised global DALY rates attributable to high BMI and high FPG rose considerably (15·7% [9·9-21·7] for high BMI and 7·9% [3·3-12·9] for high FPG) over this period, with exposure to these risks increasing annually at rates of 1·8% (1·6-1·9) for high BMI and 1·3% (1·1-1·5) for high FPG. By contrast, the global risk-attributable burden and exposure to many other risk factors declined, notably for risks such as child growth failure and unsafe water source, with age-standardised attributable DALYs decreasing by 71·5% (64·4-78·8) for child growth failure and 66·3% (60·2-72·0) for unsafe water source. We separated risk factors into three groups according to trajectory over time: those with a decreasing attributable burden, due largely to declining risk exposure (eg, diet high in trans-fat and household air pollution) but also to proportionally smaller child and youth populations (eg, child and maternal malnutrition); those for which the burden increased moderately in spite of declining risk exposure, due largely to population ageing (eg, smoking); and those for which the burden increased considerably due to both increasing risk exposure and population ageing (eg, ambient particulate matter air pollution, high BMI, high FPG, and high SBP).

    Substantial progress has been made in reducing the global disease burden attributable to a range of risk factors, particularly those related to maternal and child health, WaSH, and household air pollution. Maintaining efforts to minimise the impact of these risk factors, especially in low SDI locations, is necessary to sustain progress. Successes in moderating the smoking-related burden by reducing risk exposure highlight the need to advance policies that reduce exposure to other leading risk factors such as ambient particulate matter air pollution and high SBP. Troubling increases in high FPG, high BMI, and other risk factors related to obesity and metabolic syndrome indicate an urgent need to identify and implement interventions.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Exercise rejuvenates microglia and reverses T cell accumulation in the aged female mouse brain

    Slowing and/or reversing brain ageing may alleviate cognitive impairments. Previous studies have found that exercise may mitigate cognitive decline, but the mechanisms underlying this remain largely unclear. Here we provide unbiased analyses of single-cell RNA sequencing data, showing the impacts of exercise and ageing on specific cell types in the mouse hippocampus. We demonstrate that exercise has a profound and selective effect on aged microglia, reverting their gene expression signature to that of young microglia. Pharmacologic depletion of microglia further demonstrated that these cells are required for the stimulatory effects of exercise on hippocampal neurogenesis but not cognition. Strikingly, allowing 18-month-old mice access to a running wheel did by and large also prevent and/or revert T cell presence in the ageing hippocampus. Taken together, our data highlight the profound impact of exercise in rejuvenating aged microglia, associated pro-neurogenic effects and on peripheral immune cell presence in the ageing female mouse brain.
  • Effects of multisession prefrontal tDCS and concurrent cognitive remediation training for enhancing social and cognitive functions in individuals with autism spectrum disorder

  • Dynamin1 long- and short-tail isoforms exploit distinct recruitment and spatial patterns to form endocytic nanoclusters

    Endocytosis requires a coordinated framework of molecular interactions that ultimately lead to the fission of nascent endocytic structures. How cytosolic proteins such as dynamin concentrate at discrete sites that are sparsely distributed across the plasma membrane remains poorly understood. Two dynamin-1 major splice variants differ by the length of their C-terminal proline-rich region (short-tail and long-tail). Using sptPALM in PC12 cells, neurons and MEF cells, we demonstrate that short-tail dynamin-1 isoforms ab and bb display an activity-dependent recruitment to the membrane, promptly followed by their concentration into nanoclusters. These nanoclusters are sensitive to both Calcineurin and dynamin GTPase inhibitors, and are larger, denser, and more numerous than that of long-tail isoform aa. Spatiotemporal modelling confirms that dynamin-1 isoforms perform distinct search patterns and undergo dimensional reduction to generate endocytic nanoclusters, with short-tail isoforms more robustly exploiting lateral trapping in the generation of nanoclusters compared to the long-tail isoform.
  • Prediction of m6A and m5C at single-molecule resolution reveals a transcriptome-wide co-occurrence of RNA modifications

    The epitranscriptome embodies many new and largely unexplored functions of RNA. A significant roadblock hindering progress in epitranscriptomics is the identification of more than one modification in individual transcript molecules. We address this with CHEUI (CH3 (methylation) Estimation Using Ionic current). CHEUI predicts N6-methyladenosine (m6A) and 5-methylcytosine (m5C) in individual molecules from the same sample, the stoichiometry at transcript reference sites, and differential methylation between any two conditions. CHEUI processes observed and expected nanopore direct RNA sequencing signals to achieve high single-molecule, transcript-site, and stoichiometry accuracies in multiple tests using synthetic RNA standards and cell line data. CHEUI’s capability to identify two modification types in the same sample reveals a co-occurrence of m6A and m5C in individual mRNAs in cell line and tissue transcriptomes. CHEUI provides new avenues to discover and study the function of the epitranscriptome.
  • Australia’s ECEC workforce pipeline: who and how many are pursuing further qualifications?

    The significant shortfall of staff in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce identifies an imperative not only to recruit educators but to support ongoing qualifications and career advancement of those within. Indeed, Shaping Our Future, Australia’s workforce strategy for 2022–2031 identifies qualifications and career development as key focus areas. Taking this imperative, we asked Who? and How many? within the Australian workforce are committed to ongoing study? Analysing a national survey (N = 1291), we examine characteristics of those studying (20.5%) intending (52.3%) or wavering about further study (18.7%). Study and study intention were associated with being younger and at early career-stage, identifying a positive message for career growth. Those who were older or working part-time were less certain about ongoing training. Those with long tenure in ECEC had higher rates of studying for non-ECEC qualifications. Implications for qualification pipeline, career pathways and workforce strategy are discussed.
  • Distinct neural markers of evidence accumulation index metacognitive processing before and after simple visual decisions

    Perceptual decision-making is affected by uncertainty arising from the reliability of incoming sensory evidence (perceptual uncertainty) and the categorization of that evidence relative to a choice boundary (categorical uncertainty). Here, we investigated how these factors impact the temporal dynamics of evidence processing during decision-making and subsequent metacognitive judgments. Participants performed a motion discrimination task while electroencephalography was recorded. We manipulated perceptual uncertainty by varying motion coherence, and categorical uncertainty by varying the angular offset of motion signals relative to a criterion. After each trial, participants rated their desire to change their mind. High uncertainty impaired perceptual and metacognitive judgments and reduced the amplitude of the centro-parietal positivity, a neural marker of evidence accumulation. Coherence and offset affected the centro-parietal positivity at different time points, suggesting that perceptual and categorical uncertainty affect decision-making in sequential stages. Moreover, the centro-parietal positivity predicted participants' metacognitive judgments: larger predecisional centro-parietal positivity amplitude was associated with less desire to change one's mind, whereas larger postdecisional centro-parietal positivity amplitude was associated with greater desire to change one's mind, but only following errors. These findings reveal a dissociation between predecisional and postdecisional evidence processing, suggesting that the CPP tracks potentially distinct cognitive processes before and after a decision.
  • Neurodesk: an accessible, flexible and portable data analysis environment for reproducible neuroimaging

    Neuroimaging research requires purpose-built analysis software, which is challenging to install and may produce different results across computing environments. The community-oriented, open-source Neurodesk platform (https://www.neurodesk.org/) harnesses a comprehensive and growing suite of neuroimaging software containers. Neurodesk includes a browser-accessible virtual desktop, command-line interface and computational notebook compatibility, allowing for accessible, flexible, portable and fully reproducible neuroimaging analysis on personal workstations, high-performance computers and the cloud.
  • Neurodesk: an accessible, flexible and portable data analysis environment for reproducible neuroimaging

    Neuroimaging research requires purpose-built analysis software, which is challenging to install and may produce different results across computing environments. The community-oriented, open-source Neurodesk platform (https://www.neurodesk.org/) harnesses a comprehensive and growing suite of neuroimaging software containers. Neurodesk includes a browser-accessible virtual desktop, command-line interface and computational notebook compatibility, allowing for accessible, flexible, portable and fully reproducible neuroimaging analysis on personal workstations, high-performance computers and the cloud.
  • Quantitative susceptibility mapping through model-based deep image prior (MoDIP)

    The data-driven approach of supervised learning methods has limited applicability in solving dipole inversion in Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) with varying scan parameters across different objects. To address this generalization issue in supervised QSM methods, we propose a novel training-free model-based unsupervised method called MoDIP (Model-based Deep Image Prior). MoDIP comprises a small, untrained network and a Data Fidelity Optimization (DFO) module. The network converges to an interim state, acting as an implicit prior for image regularization, while the optimization process enforces the physical model of QSM dipole inversion. Experimental results demonstrate MoDIP's excellent generalizability in solving QSM dipole inversion across different scan parameters. It exhibits robustness against pathological brain QSM, achieving over 32 % accuracy improvement than supervised deep learning methods. It is also 33 % more computationally efficient and runs 4 times faster than conventional DIP-based approaches, enabling 3D high-resolution image reconstruction in under 4.5 min.
  • Complement C5a receptor signaling alters stress responsiveness and modulates microglia following chronic stress exposure

    Accumulating evidence underscores the pivotal role of heightened inflammation in the pathophysiology of stress-related diseases, yet the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. The complement system, a key effector of the innate immune system, produces the C5-cleaved activation product C5a upon activation, initiating inflammatory responses through the canonical C5a receptor 1 (C5aR1). While C5aR1 is expressed in stress-responsive brain regions, its role in stress responsiveness remains unknown.MethodsTo investigate C5a-C5aR1 signaling in stress responses, mice underwent acute and chronic stress paradigms. Circulating C5a levels and mRNA expression of C5aR1 in the hippocampus and adrenal gland were measured. C5aR1-deficient mice were utilized to elucidate the effects of disrupted C5a-C5aR1 signaling across behavioral, hormonal, metabolic, and inflammation parameters.ResultsChronic restraint stress elevated circulating C5a levels, while reducing C5aR1 mRNA expression in the hippocampus and adrenal gland. Notably, the absence of C5aR1 signaling enhanced adrenal sensitivity to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), concurrently reducing pituitary ACTH production, enhancing the response to acute stress. C5aR1-deficient mice exhibited attenuated reductions in locomotor activity and body weight under chronic stress. Additionally, these mice displayed increased glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity and disrupted glucose and insulin homeostasis. Chronic stress induced an increase in C5aR1-expressing microglia in the hippocampus, a response mitigated in C5aR1-deficient mice.ConclusionC5a-C5aR1 signaling emerges as a key metabolic regulator during stress, suggesting that complement activation and dysfunctional C5aR1 signaling may contribute to neuroinflammatory phenotypes in stress-related disorders. The results advocate for further exploration of complement C5aR1 as a potential therapeutic target for stress-related conditions.
  • Gamma oscillations induced by 40-Hz visual-auditory stimulation for the treatment of acute-phase limb motor rehabilitation after stroke: study protocol for a prospective randomized controlled trial

    Background: The incidence of hemiparetic limb dysfunction reaches 85% in stroke patients, emerging as a critical factor influencing their daily lives. However, the effectiveness of current rehabilitation treatments is considerably limited, particularly in patients with upper extremity impairment. This study aims to conduct a prospective clinical trial to validate the safety and effectiveness of gamma oscillations induced by 40-Hz visual-auditory stimulation in treating post-stroke upper limb dysfunction and to explore the relevant mechanisms. Methods: This trial is a prospective, randomized controlled, double-blind study. All enrolled patients were randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group received intervention through 40-Hz visual-auditory stimulation, while the control group underwent intervention with randomly matched visual-auditory stimulation frequencies. The primary efficacy endpoint is the change in motor function. Secondary efficacy endpoints include motor-evoked potentials, cerebral hemodynamic changes, neural network connectivity, and alterations in synaptic-related genes. Safety evaluation included major adverse events, all-cause mortality, and photosensitive epilepsy. Assessments will be conducted at baseline, after a 14-day treatment period, and during subsequent follow-up visits (at 3 and 6 months) post-treatment. The differences between the two groups will be compared. Discussion: This study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of gamma oscillations induced by 40-Hz visual-auditory stimulation in treating patients with upper extremity dysfunction after an acute cerebral stroke. Concurrently, we will explore potential mechanisms, including changes in synaptic-related genes and neural network connectivity. This trial is expected to provide evidence for the effectiveness of this new technique in treating upper extremity dysfunction after a stroke and improving patients’ quality of life. Trial registration: The study protocol has been registered with the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR) under registration number ChiCTR2300076579 on October 12, 2023.
  • Neonatal vitamin D and associations with longitudinal changes of eczema up to 25 years of age

    BACKGROUND: Early-life vitamin D is a potentially modifiable risk factor for the development of eczema, but there is a lack of data on longitudinal associations. METHOD: We measured 25(OH)D3 levels from neonatal dried blood spots in 223 high-allergy-risk children. Latent class analysis was used to define longitudinal eczema phenotype up to 25 years (4 subclasses). Skin prick tests (SPTs) to 6 allergens and eczema outcomes at 6 time points were used to define eczema/sensitization phenotypes. Associations between 25(OH)D3 and prevalent eczema and eczema phenotypes were assessed using logistic regression models. RESULTS: Median 25(OH)D3 level was 32.5 nmol/L (P25-P75 = 23.1 nmol/L). Each 10 nmol/L increase in neonatal 25(OH)D3 was associated with a 26% reduced odds of early-onset persistent eczema (adjusted multinomial odds ratio (aMOR) = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.56-0.98) and 30% increased odds of early-onset-resolving eczema (aMOR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.05-1.62) when compared to minimal/no eczema up to 12 years. Similar associations were seen for eczema phenotype up to 25 years. We did not see any strong evidence for the association between neonatal 25(OH)D3 and prevalent eczema or eczema/sensitization phenotype. CONCLUSIONS: Higher neonatal 25(OH)D3 levels, a reflection of maternal vitamin D levels in pregnancy, may reduce the risk of early-onset persistent eczema.
  • Cellular geometry and epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity intersect with PIEZO1 in breast cancer cells

    Differences in shape can be a distinguishing feature between different cell types, but the shape of a cell can also be dynamic. Changes in cell shape are critical when cancer cells escape from the primary tumor and undergo major morphological changes that allow them to squeeze between endothelial cells, enter the vasculature, and metastasize to other areas of the body. A shift from rounded to spindly cellular geometry is a consequence of epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity, which is also associated with changes in gene expression, increased invasiveness, and therapeutic resistance. However, the consequences and functional impacts of cell shape changes and the mechanisms through which they occur are still poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that altering the morphology of a cell produces a remodeling of calcium influx via the ion channel PIEZO1 and identify PIEZO1 as an inducer of features of epithelial-to-mesenchymal plasticity. Combining automated epifluorescence microscopy and a genetically encoded calcium indicator, we demonstrate that activation of the PIEZO1 force channel with the PIEZO1 agonist, YODA 1, induces features of epithelial-to-mesenchymal plasticity in breast cancer cells. These findings suggest that PIEZO1 is a critical point of convergence between shape-induced changes in cellular signaling and epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity in breast cancer cells.
  • Olanzapine attenuates 5-HT2cR and GHSR1a interaction to increase orexigenic hypothalamic NPY: Implications for neuronal molecular mechanism of metabolic side effects of antipsychotics

    The main cause of second-generation antipsychotic (SGA)-induced obesity is considered due to the antagonism of serotonin 2c receptors (5-HT2cR) and activation of ghrelin receptor type 1a (GHSR1a) signalling. It is reported that 5-HT2cR interacted with GHSR1a, however it is unknown whether one of the SGA olanzapine alters the 5-HT2cR/GHSR1a interaction, affecting orexigenic neuropeptide signalling in the hypothalamus. We found that olanzapine treatment increased average energy intake and body weight gain in mice; olanzapine treatment also increased orexigenic neuropeptide (NPY) and GHSR1a signaling molecules, pAMPK, UCP2, FOXO1 and pCREB levels in the hypothalamus. By using confocal fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) technology, we found that 5-HT2cR interacted/dimerised with the GHSR1a in the hypothalamic neurons. As 5-HT2cR antagonist, both olanzapine and S242084 decreased the interaction between 5-HT2cR and GHSR1a and activated GHSR1a signaling. The 5-HT2cR agonist lorcaserin counteracted olanzapine-induced attenuation of interaction between 5-HT2cR and GHSR1a and inhibited activation of GHSR1a signalling and NPY production. These findings suggest that 5-HT2cR antagonistic effect of olanzapine in inhibition of the interaction of 5-HT2cR and GHSR1a, activation GHSR1a downstream signaling and increasing hypothalamic NPY, which may be the important neuronal molecular mechanism underlying olanzapine-induced obesity and target for prevention metabolic side effects of antipsychotic management in psychiatric disorders.
  • The Australian Traumatic Brain Injury Initiative: Review and Recommendations for Outcome Measures for Use With Adults and Children After Moderate-to-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

    The Australian Traumatic Brain Injury Initiative (AUS-TBI) aims to select a set of measures to comprehensively predict and assess outcomes following moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) across Australia. The aim of this article was to report on the implementation and findings of an evidence-based consensus approach to develop AUS-TBI recommendations for outcome measures following adult and pediatric moderate-to-severe TBI. Following consultation with a panel of expert clinicians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and a Living Experience group, and preliminary literature searches with a broader focus, a decision was made to focus on measures of mortality, everyday functional outcomes, and quality of life. Standardized searches of bibliographic databases were conducted through March 2022. Characteristics of 75 outcome measures were extracted from 1485 primary studies. Consensus meetings among the AUS-TBI Steering Committee, an expert panel of clinicians and researchers and a group of individuals with lived experience of TBI resulted in the production of a final list of 11 core outcome measures: the Functional Independence Measure (FIM); Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended (GOS-E); Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) (adult); mortality; EuroQol-5 Dimensions (EQ5D); Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory (MPAI); Return to Work /Study (adult and pediatric); Functional Independence Measure for Children (WEEFIM); Glasgow Outcome Scale Modified for Children (GOS-E PEDS); Paediatric Quality of Life Scale (PEDS-QL); and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (pediatric). These 11 outcome measures will be included as common data elements in the AUS-TBI data dictionary. 
  • Phospholipase modulation of synaptic membrane landscape: driving force behind memory formation?

    The synapse is the communication unit of the brain, linking billions of neurons through trillions of synaptic connections. The lipid landscape of the synaptic membrane underpins neurotransmitter release through the exocytic fusion of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles, endocytic recycling of these synaptic vesicles, and the postsynaptic response following binding of the neurotransmitter to specialized receptors. How the connected brain can learn and acquire memories through synaptic plasticity is unresolved. Phospholipases, and especially the phospholipase A1 isoform DDHD2, have recently been shown to play a critical role in memory acquisition through the generation of saturated free fatty acids such as myristic and palmitic acids. This emerging synaptic plasticity pathway suggests that phospholipases cannot only respond to synaptic activity by altering the phospholipid landscape but also contribute to the establishment of long-term memories in our brain.
  • Global quantitative proteomic analysis of aged mouse hippocampus

    Understanding the molecular changes associated with the aged brain forms the basis for developing potential strategies for slowing cognitive decline associated with normal aging. Focusing on the hippocampus, a critical brain region involved in learning and memory, we employed tandem mass tag methodology to investigate global proteomic changes that occur in advanced-aged (20-month) versus young (3-month) C57BL/6 male mice. Our analysis revealed the upregulation of 236 proteins in the old hippocampal proteome, including those enriched within several age-related processes, such as the adaptive immune response and molecular metabolic pathways, whereas downregulated proteins (88 in total) are mainly involved in axonogenesis and growth cone-related processes. Categorizing proteins by cell-type enrichment in the brain identified a general upregulation of proteins preferentially expressed in microglia, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. In contrast, proteins with neuron-specific expression displayed an overall age-related downregulation. By integrating our proteomic with our previously published transcriptomic data, we discovered a mild but significant positive correlation between mRNA and protein expression changes in the aged hippocampus. Therefore, this proteomic data is a valuable additional resource for further understanding age-related molecular mechanisms.
  • Genetic control of DNA methylation is largely shared across European and East Asian populations

    DNA methylation is an ideal trait to study the extent of the shared genetic control across ancestries, effectively providing hundreds of thousands of model molecular traits with large QTL effect sizes. We investigate cis DNAm QTLs in three European (n = 3701) and two East Asian (n = 2099) cohorts to quantify the similarities and differences in the genetic architecture across populations. We observe 80,394 associated mQTLs (62.2% of DNAm probes with significant mQTL) to be significant in both ancestries, while 28,925 mQTLs (22.4%) are identified in only a single ancestry. mQTL effect sizes are highly conserved across populations, with differences in mQTL discovery likely due to differences in allele frequency of associated variants and differing linkage disequilibrium between causal variants and assayed SNPs. This study highlights the overall similarity of genetic control across ancestries and the value of ancestral diversity in increasing the power to detect associations and enhancing fine mapping resolution.
  • Analysis of collision avoidance in honeybee flight

    Insects are excellent at flying in dense vegetation and navigating through other complex spatial environments. This study investigates the strategies used by honeybees (Apis mellifera) to avoid collisions with an obstacle encountered frontally during flight. Bees were trained to fly through a tunnel that contained a solitary vertically oriented cylindrical obstacle placed along the midline. Flight trajectories of bees were recorded for six conditions in which the diameter of the obstructing cylinder was systematically varied from 25 mm to 160 mm. Analysis of salient events during the bees' flight, such as the deceleration before the obstacle, and the initiation of the deviation in flight path to avoid collisions, revealed a strategy for obstacle avoidance that is based on the relative retinal expansion velocity generated by the obstacle when the bee is on a collision course. We find that a quantitative model, featuring a controller that extracts specific visual cues from the frontal visual field, provides an accurate characterization of the geometry and the dynamics of the manoeuvres adopted by honeybees to avoid collisions. This study paves the way for the design of unmanned aerial systems, by identifying the visual cues that are used by honeybees for performing robust obstacle avoidance flight.
  • Have you been paying attention?: Adult-onset attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Global fertility in 204 countries and territories, 1950-2021, with forecasts to 2100: a comprehensive demographic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

    Accurate assessments of current and future fertility-including overall trends and changing population age structures across countries and regions-are essential to help plan for the profound social, economic, environmental, and geopolitical challenges that these changes will bring. Estimates and projections of fertility are necessary to inform policies involving resource and health-care needs, labour supply, education, gender equality, and family planning and support. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2021 produced up-to-date and comprehensive demographic assessments of key fertility indicators at global, regional, and national levels from 1950 to 2021 and forecast fertility metrics to 2100 based on a reference scenario and key policy-dependent alternative scenarios.

    To estimate fertility indicators from 1950 to 2021, mixed-effects regression models and spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression were used to synthesise data from 8709 country-years of vital and sample registrations, 1455 surveys and censuses, and 150 other sources, and to generate age-specific fertility rates (ASFRs) for 5-year age groups from age 10 years to 54 years. ASFRs were summed across age groups to produce estimates of total fertility rate (TFR). Livebirths were calculated by multiplying ASFR and age-specific female population, then summing across ages 10-54 years. To forecast future fertility up to 2100, our Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasting model was based on projections of completed cohort fertility at age 50 years (CCF50; the average number of children born over time to females from a specified birth cohort), which yields more stable and accurate measures of fertility than directly modelling TFR. CCF50 was modelled using an ensemble approach in which three sub-models (with two, three, and four covariates variously consisting of female educational attainment, contraceptive met need, population density in habitable areas, and under-5 mortality) were given equal weights, and analyses were conducted utilising the MR-BRT (meta-regression-Bayesian, regularised, trimmed) tool. To capture time-series trends in CCF50 not explained by these covariates, we used a first-order autoregressive model on the residual term. CCF50 as a proportion of each 5-year ASFR was predicted using a linear mixed-effects model with fixed-effects covariates (female educational attainment and contraceptive met need) and random intercepts for geographical regions. Projected TFRs were then computed for each calendar year as the sum of single-year ASFRs across age groups. The reference forecast is our estimate of the most likely fertility future given the model, past fertility, forecasts of covariates, and historical relationships between covariates and fertility. We additionally produced forecasts for multiple alternative scenarios in each location: the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for education is achieved by 2030; the contraceptive met need SDG is achieved by 2030; pro-natal policies are enacted to create supportive environments for those who give birth; and the previous three scenarios combined. Uncertainty from past data inputs and model estimation was propagated throughout analyses by taking 1000 draws for past and present fertility estimates and 500 draws for future forecasts from the estimated distribution for each metric, with 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) given as the 2·5 and 97·5 percentiles of the draws. To evaluate the forecasting performance of our model and others, we computed skill values-a metric assessing gain in forecasting accuracy-by comparing predicted versus observed ASFRs from the past 15 years (2007-21). A positive skill metric indicates that the model being evaluated performs better than the baseline model (here, a simplified model holding 2007 values constant in the future), and a negative metric indicates that the evaluated model performs worse than baseline.

    During the period from 1950 to 2021, global TFR more than halved, from 4·84 (95% UI 4·63-5·06) to 2·23 (2·09-2·38). Global annual livebirths peaked in 2016 at 142 million (95% UI 137-147), declining to 129 million (121-138) in 2021. Fertility rates declined in all countries and territories since 1950, with TFR remaining above 2·1-canonically considered replacement-level fertility-in 94 (46·1%) countries and territories in 2021. This included 44 of 46 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which was the super-region with the largest share of livebirths in 2021 (29·2% [28·7-29·6]). 47 countries and territories in which lowest estimated fertility between 1950 and 2021 was below replacement experienced one or more subsequent years with higher fertility; only three of these locations rebounded above replacement levels. Future fertility rates were projected to continue to decline worldwide, reaching a global TFR of 1·83 (1·59-2·08) in 2050 and 1·59 (1·25-1·96) in 2100 under the reference scenario. The number of countries and territories with fertility rates remaining above replacement was forecast to be 49 (24·0%) in 2050 and only six (2·9%) in 2100, with three of these six countries included in the 2021 World Bank-defined low-income group, all located in the GBD super-region of sub-Saharan Africa. The proportion of livebirths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa was forecast to increase to more than half of the world's livebirths in 2100, to 41·3% (39·6-43·1) in 2050 and 54·3% (47·1-59·5) in 2100. The share of livebirths was projected to decline between 2021 and 2100 in most of the six other super-regions-decreasing, for example, in south Asia from 24·8% (23·7-25·8) in 2021 to 16·7% (14·3-19·1) in 2050 and 7·1% (4·4-10·1) in 2100-but was forecast to increase modestly in the north Africa and Middle East and high-income super-regions. Forecast estimates for the alternative combined scenario suggest that meeting SDG targets for education and contraceptive met need, as well as implementing pro-natal policies, would result in global TFRs of 1·65 (1·40-1·92) in 2050 and 1·62 (1·35-1·95) in 2100. The forecasting skill metric values for the IHME model were positive across all age groups, indicating that the model is better than the constant prediction.

    Fertility is declining globally, with rates in more than half of all countries and territories in 2021 below replacement level. Trends since 2000 show considerable heterogeneity in the steepness of declines, and only a small number of countries experienced even a slight fertility rebound after their lowest observed rate, with none reaching replacement level. Additionally, the distribution of livebirths across the globe is shifting, with a greater proportion occurring in the lowest-income countries. Future fertility rates will continue to decline worldwide and will remain low even under successful implementation of pro-natal policies. These changes will have far-reaching economic and societal consequences due to ageing populations and declining workforces in higher-income countries, combined with an increasing share of livebirths among the already poorest regions of the world.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Scanning ultrasound-mediated memory and functional improvements do not require amyloid-β reduction

    A prevalent view in treating age-dependent disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is that the underlying amyloid plaque pathology must be targeted for cognitive improvements. In contrast, we report here that repeated scanning ultrasound (SUS) treatment at 1 MHz frequency can ameliorate memory deficits in the APP23 mouse model of AD without reducing amyloid-β (Aβ) burden. Different from previous studies that had shown Aβ clearance as a consequence of blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening, here, the BBB was not opened as no microbubbles were used. Quantitative SWATH proteomics and functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that ultrasound induced long-lasting functional changes that correlate with the improvement in memory. Intriguingly, the treatment was more effective at a higher frequency (1 MHz) than at a frequency within the range currently explored in clinical trials in AD patients (286 kHz). Together, our data suggest frequency-dependent bio-effects of ultrasound and a dissociation of cognitive improvement and Aβ clearance, with important implications for the design of trials for AD therapies.
  • Generalisability of epileptiform patterns across time and patients

    The complexity of localising the epileptogenic zone (EZ) contributes to surgical resection failures in achieving seizure freedom. The distinct patterns of epileptiform activity during interictal and ictal phases, varying across patients, often lead to suboptimal localisation using electroencephalography (EEG) features. We posed two key questions: whether neural signals reflecting epileptogenicity generalise from interictal to ictal time windows within each patient, and whether epileptiform patterns generalise across patients. Utilising an intracranial EEG dataset from 55 patients, we extracted a large battery of simple to complex features from stereo-EEG (SEEG) and electrocorticographic (ECoG) neural signals during interictal and ictal windows. Our features (n = 34) quantified many aspects of the signals including statistical moments, complexities, frequency-domain and cross-channel network attributes. Decision tree classifiers were then trained and tested on distinct time windows and patients to evaluate the generalisability of epileptogenic patterns across time and patients, respectively. Evidence strongly supported generalisability from interictal to ictal time windows across patients, particularly in signal power and high-frequency network-based features. Consistent patterns of epileptogenicity were observed across time windows within most patients, and signal features of epileptogenic regions generalised across patients, with higher generalisability in the ictal window. Signal complexity features were particularly contributory in cross-patient generalisation across patients. These findings offer insights into generalisable features of epileptic neural activity across time and patients, with implications for future automated approaches to supplement other EZ localisation methods.
  • The mechanisms and roles of mitochondrial dynamics in C. elegans

    If mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, then mitochondrial dynamics are the power grid that regulates how that energy output is directed and maintained in response to unique physiological demands. Fission and fusion dynamics are highly regulated processes that fine-tune the mitochondrial networks of cells to enable appropriate responses to intrinsic and extrinsic stimuli, thereby maintaining cellular and organismal homeostasis. These dynamics shape many aspects of an organism's healthspan including development, longevity, stress resistance, immunity, and response to disease. In this review, we discuss the latest findings regarding the mechanisms and roles of mitochondrial dynamics by focussing on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Whole live-animal studies in C. elegans have enabled a true organismal-level understanding of the impact that mitochondrial dynamics play in homeostasis over a lifetime.
  • Synapsin 2a tetramerisation selectively controls the presynaptic nanoscale organisation of reserve synaptic vesicles

    Neurotransmitter release relies on the regulated fusion of synaptic vesicles (SVs) that are tightly packed within the presynaptic bouton of neurons. The mechanism by which SVs are clustered at the presynapse, while preserving their ability to dynamically recycle to support neuronal communication, remains unknown. Synapsin 2a (Syn2a) tetramerization has been suggested as a potential clustering mechanism. Here, we used Dual-pulse sub-diffractional Tracking of Internalised Molecules (DsdTIM) to simultaneously track single SVs from the recycling and the reserve pools, in live hippocampal neurons. The reserve pool displays a lower presynaptic mobility compared to the recycling pool and is also present in the axons. Triple knockout of Synapsin 1-3 genes (SynTKO) increased the mobility of reserve pool SVs. Re-expression of wild-type Syn2a (Syn2aWT), but not the tetramerization-deficient mutant K337Q (Syn2aK337Q), fully rescued these effects. Single-particle tracking revealed that Syn2aK337QmEos3.1 exhibited altered activity-dependent presynaptic translocation and nanoclustering. Therefore, Syn2a tetramerization controls its own presynaptic nanoclustering and thereby contributes to the dynamic immobilisation of the SV reserve pool.
  • Global age-sex-specific mortality, life expectancy, and population estimates in 204 countries and territories and 811 subnational locations, 1950-2021, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: a comprehensive demographic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

    Estimates of demographic metrics are crucial to assess levels and trends of population health outcomes. The profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on populations worldwide has underscored the need for timely estimates to understand this unprecedented event within the context of long-term population health trends. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2021 provides new demographic estimates for 204 countries and territories and 811 additional subnational locations from 1950 to 2021, with a particular emphasis on changes in mortality and life expectancy that occurred during the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic period.22 223 data sources from vital registration, sample registration, surveys, censuses, and other sources were used to estimate mortality, with a subset of these sources used exclusively to estimate excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2026 data sources were used for population estimation. Additional sources were used to estimate migration; the effects of the HIV epidemic; and demographic discontinuities due to conflicts, famines, natural disasters, and pandemics, which are used as inputs for estimating mortality and population. Spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression (ST-GPR) was used to generate under-5 mortality rates, which synthesised 30 763 location-years of vital registration and sample registration data, 1365 surveys and censuses, and 80 other sources. ST-GPR was also used to estimate adult mortality (between ages 15 and 59 years) based on information from 31 642 location-years of vital registration and sample registration data, 355 surveys and censuses, and 24 other sources. Estimates of child and adult mortality rates were then used to generate life tables with a relational model life table system. For countries with large HIV epidemics, life tables were adjusted using independent estimates of HIV-specific mortality generated via an epidemiological analysis of HIV prevalence surveys, antenatal clinic serosurveillance, and other data sources. Excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 was determined by subtracting observed all-cause mortality (adjusted for late registration and mortality anomalies) from the mortality expected in the absence of the pandemic. Expected mortality was calculated based on historical trends using an ensemble of models. In location-years where all-cause mortality data were unavailable, we estimated excess mortality rates using a regression model with covariates pertaining to the pandemic. Population size was computed using a Bayesian hierarchical cohort component model. Life expectancy was calculated using age-specific mortality rates and standard demographic methods. Uncertainty intervals (UIs) were calculated for every metric using the 25th and 975th ordered values from a 1000-draw posterior distribution.Global all-cause mortality followed two distinct patterns over the study period: age-standardised mortality rates declined between 1950 and 2019 (a 62·8% [95% UI 60·5-65·1] decline), and increased during the COVID-19 pandemic period (2020-21; 5·1% [0·9-9·6] increase). In contrast with the overall reverse in mortality trends during the pandemic period, child mortality continued to decline, with 4·66 million (3·98-5·50) global deaths in children younger than 5 years in 2021 compared with 5·21 million (4·50-6·01) in 2019. An estimated 131 million (126-137) people died globally from all causes in 2020 and 2021 combined, of which 15·9 million (14·7-17·2) were due to the COVID-19 pandemic (measured by excess mortality, which includes deaths directly due to SARS-CoV-2 infection and those indirectly due to other social, economic, or behavioural changes associated with the pandemic). Excess mortality rates exceeded 150 deaths per 100 000 population during at least one year of the pandemic in 80 countries and territories, whereas 20 nations had a negative excess mortality rate in 2020 or 2021, indicating that all-cause mortality in these countries was lower during the pandemic than expected based on historical trends. Between 1950 and 2021, global life expectancy at birth increased by 22·7 years (20·8-24·8), from 49·0 years (46·7-51·3) to 71·7 years (70·9-72·5). Global life expectancy at birth declined by 1·6 years (1·0-2·2) between 2019 and 2021, reversing historical trends. An increase in life expectancy was only observed in 32 (15·7%) of 204 countries and territories between 2019 and 2021. The global population reached 7·89 billion (7·67-8·13) people in 2021, by which time 56 of 204 countries and territories had peaked and subsequently populations have declined. The largest proportion of population growth between 2020 and 2021 was in sub-Saharan Africa (39·5% [28·4-52·7]) and south Asia (26·3% [9·0-44·7]). From 2000 to 2021, the ratio of the population aged 65 years and older to the population aged younger than 15 years increased in 188 (92·2%) of 204 nations.Global adult mortality rates markedly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, reversing past decreasing trends, while child mortality rates continued to decline, albeit more slowly than in earlier years. Although COVID-19 had a substantial impact on many demographic indicators during the first 2 years of the pandemic, overall global health progress over the 72 years evaluated has been profound, with considerable improvements in mortality and life expectancy. Additionally, we observed a deceleration of global population growth since 2017, despite steady or increasing growth in lower-income countries, combined with a continued global shift of population age structures towards older ages. These demographic changes will likely present future challenges to health systems, economies, and societies. The comprehensive demographic estimates reported here will enable researchers, policy makers, health practitioners, and other key stakeholders to better understand and address the profound changes that have occurred in the global health landscape following the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and longer-term trends beyond the pandemic.
  • Exploring the relationship between age at nap cessation and social-emotional functioning in children

    Objective: The objective of this study was to examine variations in age at nap cessation and identify whether there is an association with social-emotional functioning (SEF) as measured by internalizing/externalizing behavior, child temperament, and social skills in a sample of early childhood education and care–attending children.Methods: The sample comprised 1117 children from the Australian Effectiveness Early Educational Experiences for Children longitudinal early childhood study. We used children's age at nap cessation as retrospectively recalled by caregivers in 2011 or 2013 when children were between ages 2 and 7 years. Each child's SEF was reported by a caregiver using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the Short Temperament Scale for Children, and the Social Skills Inventory Scale. Associations between children's age of nap cessation and SEF were tested using linear regressions.Results: The children's age at nap cessation ranged from 6 months to 6 years. For each additional year of napping, children's total, conduct, externalizing, and peer behavior problems decreased by 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI], −0.70 to −0.09), 0.11 (95% CI, −0.21 to −0.01), 0.11 (95% CI, −0.51 to −0.06), and 0.11 (95% CI, −0.20 to −0.02) units on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scale, respectively. No further significant associations were found.Conclusion: This is the first study reporting the age range of nap cessation and its associations with social-emotional functioning. Our findings demonstrate earlier cessation ages in Australian children attending Early Childhood Education and Care programs than previously reported and a small association with externalizing and peer problems.
  • Loss-of-function variants in ZEB1 cause dominant anomalies of the corpus callosum with favourable cognitive prognosis

    Background: The neurodevelopmental prognosis of anomalies of the corpus callosum (ACC), one of the most frequent brain malformations, varies extremely, ranging from normal development to profound intellectual disability (ID). Numerous genes are known to cause syndromic ACC with ID, whereas the genetics of ACC without ID remains poorly deciphered. Methods: Through a collaborative work, we describe here ZEB1, a gene previously involved in an ophthalmological condition called type 3 posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy, as a new dominant gene of ACC. We report a series of nine individuals with ACC (including three fetuses terminated due to ACC) carrying a ZEB1 heterozygous loss-of-function (LoF) variant, identified by exome sequencing. Results: In five cases, the variant was inherited from a parent with a normal corpus callosum, which illustrates the incomplete penetrance of ACC in individuals with an LoF in ZEB1. All patients reported normal schooling and none of them had ID. Neuropsychological assessment in six patients showed either normal functioning or heterogeneous cognition. Moreover, two patients had a bicornuate uterus, three had a cardiovascular anomaly and four had macrocephaly at birth, which suggests a larger spectrum of malformations related to ZEB1. Conclusion: This study shows ZEB1 LoF variants cause dominantly inherited ACC without ID and extends the extraocular phenotype related to this gene.
  • Single-session reproducibility of MR spectroscopy measures of glutathione in the mesial temporal lobe with MEGA-PRESS

    Background and Purpose: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) measures neurochemicals in vivo. Glutathione (GSH) is a neuroprotective chemical shown to vary significantly in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). This work investigates the reproducibility of GSH measures in the mesial temporal lobe (MTL) to identify its potential clinical utility. Methods: MRS data were acquired from eight healthy volunteers (31.1 ± 5.2 years; 4 male/female) using Mescher-Garwood-Point Resolved Spectroscopy (MEGA-PRESS) from the MTL in the left hemisphere across two scan sessions in the same visit. Total N-acetylaspartate (tNAA), choline (tCho), creatine (tCr), and GSH were quantified. Reproducibility of quantifications of these neurochemicals were tested using coefficient of variance (CV) between scan sessions. Reproducibility of voxel placement on the left MTL was calculated by measuring the tissue overlap and percent of hippocampus within that voxel. CV measured across different scan sessions in each individual, with a CV<15% was accepted as “good” reproducibility. Paired t-tests were carried out to establish the significant differences between the two scans across each individual with p<.05 as significant. Results: TNAA (%CV = 7.2; p =.5), tCr (%CV = 7.8; p =.6) and tCho (%CV = 9.3; p =.4), and GSH (%CV = 22; p =.1). The dice coefficient that reflects the level of overlap of hippocampal tissue in the voxel was shown to be 0.8 ± 0.1. Voxel tissue composition were: Scan 1 (cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]: 5 ± 1%, white matter [WM]: 52 ± 3%, gray matter [GM]: 43 ± 3%); Scan 2 (CSF: 5 ± 1%, WM: 52 ± 4%, GM: 44 ± 4%). Conclusion: The data suggest measures of abundant metabolites in the MTL using the MEGA-PRESS sequence has a high reproducibility. Reproducibility of GSH in this area was poorer requiring care when interpreting measures of GSH in the MTL for clinical translational purposes.
  • Overexpression of forebrain PTP1B leads to synaptic and cognitive impairments in obesity

    Obesity has reached pandemic proportions and is a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. Chronic inflammation is common in obese patients, but the mechanism between inflammation and cognitive impairment in obesity remains unclear. Accumulative evidence shows that protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), a neuroinflammatory and negative synaptic regulator, is involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative processes. We investigated the causal role of PTP1B in obesity-induced cognitive impairment and the beneficial effect of PTP1B inhibitors in counteracting impairments of cognition, neural morphology, and signaling. We showed that obese individuals had negative relationship between serum PTP1B levels and cognitive function. Furthermore, the PTP1B level in the forebrain increased in patients with neurodegenerative diseases and obese cognitive impairment mice with the expansion of white matter, neuroinflammation and brain atrophy. PTP1B globally or forebrain-specific knockout mice on an obesogenic high-fat diet showed enhanced cognition and improved synaptic ultrastructure and proteins in the forebrain. Specifically, deleting PTP1B in leptin receptor-expressing cells improved leptin synaptic signaling and increased BDNF expression in the forebrain of obese mice. Importantly, we found that various PTP1B allosteric inhibitors (e.g., MSI-1436, well-tolerated in Phase 1 and 1b clinical trials for obesity and type II diabetes) prevented these alterations, including improving cognition, neurite outgrowth, leptin synaptic signaling and BDNF in both obese cognitive impairment mice and a neural cell model of PTP1B overexpression. These findings suggest that increased forebrain PTP1B is associated with cognitive decline in obesity, whereas inhibition of PTP1B could be a promising strategy for preventing neurodegeneration induced by obesity.
  • Domain-specific cognitive impairment 6 months after stroke: the value of early cognitive screening

    Background: Cognitive screening following stroke is widely recommended, yet few studies have considered the prognostic value of acute domain-specific function for longer-term cognitive outcome. Identifying which post-stroke cognitive impairments more commonly occur, recover, and persist, and which impairments hold prognostic value, could inform care planning, and resource allocation. Aims: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of domain-specific impairment acutely and at 6 months, assess the proportion of change in cognitive performance, and examine the prognostic value of acute domain-specific cognitive screening. Methods: A prospective stroke cohort completed the Oxford Cognitive Screen acutely (⩽2 weeks) and 6 months post-stroke. We determined the prevalence of acute and 6-month domain-specific impairment and proportion of change in performance from acute to 6 months. Hierarchical multivariable regression was used to predict global and domain-specific cognitive impairment at 6 months adjusted for demographic/vascular factors, stroke severity, and lesion volume. Results: A total of 430 stroke survivors (mean/SD age 73.9/12.5 years, 46.5% female, median/interquartile range (IQR) National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) 5/2–10) completed 6-month follow-up. Acutely, domain-specific impairments were highly prevalent ranging from 26.7% (n = 112) in praxis to 46.8% (n = 183) in attention. At 6 months, the proportion of domain-specific recovery was highest in praxis (n = 73, 71%) and lowest in language (n = 89, 46%) and memory (n = 82, 48%). Severity of 6-month cognitive impairment was best predicted by the addition of acute cognitive impairment (adj R = 0.298, p < 0.0001) over demographic and clinical factors alone (adj R = 0.105, p < 0.0001). Acute cognitive function was the strongest predictor of 6-month cognitive performance (p < 0.0001). Acute domain-specific impairments in memory (p < 0.0001), language (p < 0.0001), and praxis (p < 0.0001) significantly predicted overall severity of cognitive impairment at 6 months. Conclusion: Post-stroke cognitive impairment is highly prevalent across all domains acutely, while impairments in language, memory, and attention predominate at 6 months. Early domain-specific screening can provide valuable prognostic information for longer-term cognitive outcomes.
  • Time to wake up! The ongoing search for general anesthetic reversal agents

    How general anesthetics work remains a topic of ongoing study. A parallel field of research has sought to identify methods to reverse general anesthesia. Reversal agents could shorten patients' recovery time and potentially reduce the risk of postoperative complications. An incomplete understanding of the mechanisms of general anesthesia has hampered the pursuit for reversal agents. Nevertheless, the search for reversal agents has furthered understanding of the mechanisms underlying general anesthesia. The study of potential reversal agents has highlighted the importance of rigorous criteria to assess recovery from general anesthesia in animal models, and has helped identify key arousal systems (e.g., cholinergic, dopaminergic, and orexinergic systems) relevant to emergence from general anesthesia. Furthermore, the effects of reversal agents have been found to be inconsistent across different general anesthetics, revealing differences in mechanisms among these drugs. The presynapse and glia probably also contribute to general anesthesia recovery alongside postsynaptic receptors. The next stage in the search for reversal agents will have to consider alternate mechanisms encompassing the tripartite synapse.
  • Publisher Correction: Genetic correlates of vitamin D-binding protein and 25-hydroxyvitamin D in neonatal dried blood spots

    Correction to: Nature Communicationshttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36392-5, published online 15 February 2023 The original version of this article contained an error in the second paragraph of the ‘Assay of DBP concentration’ section of the ‘Methods’, which incorrectly read ‘The lower and upper detection limits for DBP were 2.07 and 79.8 mg/L respectively’. The correct version states ‘2.07 µg/L’ in place of ‘2.07’. This has been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the article.
  • Reversible expansion of tissue macrophages in response to macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF1) transforms systemic lipid and carbohydrate metabolism

    Background and Aim. Macrophages regulate metabolic homeostasis in health and disease. Macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF1)-dependent macrophages contribute to homeostatic control of the size of the liver. This study aimed to determine the systemic metabolic consequences of elevating circulating CSF1. Methods and Results. Acute administration of a CSF1-Fc fusion protein led to monocytosis, increased resident tissue macrophages in the liver and all major organs, and liver growth. These effects were associated with increased hepatic glucose uptake and extensive mobilisation of body fat. The impacts of CSF1 on macrophage abundance, liver size and body composition were rapidly reversed to restore homeostasis. The effects of CSF1 on metabolism were independent of several known endocrine regulators and did not impact the physiological fasting response. Analysis using implantable telemetry in metabolic cages revealed progressively reduced body temperature and physical activity with no change in diurnal food intake. Conclusion. These results demonstrate the existence of a dynamic equilibrium between CSF1, the mononuclear phagocyte system and control of liver:body weight ratio, which in turn controls systemic metabolic homeostasis. This novel macrophage regulatory axis has the potential to promote fat mobilisation, without changes in appetence, which may have novel implications for managing metabolic syndrome.