Quality assessment of expert answers to lay questions about cystic fibrosis from various language zones in Europe: the ECORN-CF project
Kris De Boeck
Thomas Otto Friedrich Wagner
Helge Uwe Hebestreit
- Background: The European Centres of Reference Network for Cystic Fibrosis (ECORN-CF) established an Internet forum which provides the opportunity for CF patients and other interested people to ask experts questions about CF in their mother language. The objectives of this study were to: 1. develop a detailed quality assessment tool to analyze quality of expert answers, 2. evaluate the intra- and inter-rater agreement of this tool, and 3. explore changes in the quality of expert answers over the time frame of the project.
Methods: The quality assessment tool was developed by an expert panel. Five experts within the ECORN-CF project used the quality assessment tool to analyze the quality of 108 expert answers published on ECORN-CF from six language zones. 25 expert answers were scored at two time points, one year apart. Quality of answers was also assessed at an early and later period of the project. Individual rater scores and group mean scores were analyzed for each expert answer.
Results: A scoring system and training manual were developed analyzing two quality categories of answers: content and formal quality. For content quality, the grades based on group mean scores for all raters showed substantial agreement between two time points, however this was not the case for the grades based on individual rater scores. For formal quality the grades based on group mean scores showed only slight agreement between two time points and there was also poor agreement between time points for the individual grades. The inter-rater agreement for content quality was fair (mean kappa value 0.232+/-0.036, p<0.001) while only slight agreement was observed for the grades of the formal quality (mean kappa value 0.105+/-0.024, p<0.001). The quality of expert answers was rated high (four language zones) or satisfactory (two language zones) and did not change over time.
Conclusions: The quality assessment tool described in this study was feasible and reliable when content quality was assessed by a group of raters. Within ECORN-CF, the tool will help ensure that CF patients all over Europe have equal possibility of access to high quality expert advice on their illness.
Descending aortic calcification increases renal dysfunction and in-hospital mortality in cardiac surgery patients with intraaortic balloon pump counterpulsation placed perioperatively: a case control study
James D. Rawn
Prem S. Shekar
Tobias Michael Bingold
Holger K. Eltzschig
Stanton K Shernan
- Introduction: Acute kidney injury (AKI) after cardiac surgery increases length of hospital stay and in-hospital mortality. A significant number of patients undergoing cardiac surgical procedures require perioperative intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) support. Use of an IABP has been linked to an increased incidence of perioperative renal dysfunction and death. This might be due to dislodgement of atherosclerotic material in the descending thoracic aorta (DTA). Therefore, we retrospectively studied the correlation between DTA atheroma, AKI and in-hospital mortality.
Methods: A total of 454 patients were retrospectively matched to one of four groups: -IABP/-DTA atheroma, +IABP/-DTA atheroma, -IABP/+DTA atheroma, +IABP/+DTA atheroma. Patients were then matched according to presence/absence of DTA atheroma, presence/absence of IABP, performed surgical procedure, age, gender and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). DTA atheroma was assessed through standard transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) imaging studies of the descending thoracic aorta.
Results: Basic patient characteristics, except for age and gender, did not differ between groups. Perioperative AKI in patients with -DTA atheroma/+IABP was 5.1% versus 1.7% in patients with -DTA atheroma/-IABP. In patients with +DTA atheroma/+IABP the incidence of AKI was 12.6% versus 5.1% in patients with +DTA atheroma/-IABP. In-hospital mortality in patients with +DTA atheroma/-IABP was 3.4% versus 8.4% with +DTA atheroma/+IABP. In patients with +DTA atheroma/+IABP in hospital mortality was 20.2% versus 6.4% with +DTA atheroma/-IABP. Multivariate logistic regression identified DTA atheroma > 1 mm (P = *0.002, odds ratio (OR) = 4.13, confidence interval (CI) = 1.66 to 10.30), as well as IABP support (P = *0.015, OR = 3.04, CI = 1.24 to 7.45) as independent predictors of perioperative AKI and increased in-hospital mortality. DTA atheroma in conjunction with IABP significantly increased the risk of developing acute kidney injury (P = 0.0016) and in-hospital mortality (P = 0.0001) when compared to control subjects without IABP and without DTA atheroma.
Conclusions: Perioperative IABP and DTA atheroma are independent predictors of perioperative AKI and in-hospital mortality. Whether adding an IABP in patients with severe DTA calcification increases their risk of developing AKI and mortality postoperatively cannot be clearly answered in this study. Nevertheless, when IABP and DTA are combined, patients are more likely to develop AKI and to die postoperatively in comparison to patients without IABP and DTA atheroma.
Entropy increase in switching systems
José M. Amigó
Peter E. Kloeden
- The relation between the complexity of a time-switched dynamics and the complexity of its control sequence depends critically on the concept of a non-autonomous pullback attractor. For instance, the switched dynamics associated with scalar dissipative affine maps has a pullback attractor consisting of singleton component sets. This entails that the complexity of the control sequence and switched dynamics, as quantified by the topological entropy, coincide. In this paper we extend the previous framework to pullback attractors with nontrivial components sets in order to gain further insights in that relation. This calls, in particular, for distinguishing two distinct contributions to the complexity of the switched dynamics. One proceeds from trajectory segments connecting different component sets of the attractor; the other contribution proceeds from trajectory segments within the component sets. We call them “macroscopic” and “microscopic” complexity, respectively, because only the first one can be measured by our analytical tools. As a result of this picture, we obtain sufficient conditions for a switching system to be more complex than its unswitched subsystems, i.e., a complexity analogue of Parrondo’s paradox.
Preserving neural function under extreme scaling
Shamprasad Varija Raghu
- Important brain functions need to be conserved throughout organisms of extremely varying sizes. Here we study the scaling properties of an essential component of computation in the brain: the single neuron. We compare morphology and signal propagation of a uniquely identifiable interneuron, the HS cell, in the blowfly (Calliphora) with its exact counterpart in the fruit fly (Drosophila) which is about four times smaller in each dimension. Anatomical features of the HS cell scale isometrically and minimise wiring costs but, by themselves, do not scale to preserve the electrotonic behaviour. However, the membrane properties are set to conserve dendritic as well as axonal delays and attenuation as well as dendritic integration of visual information. In conclusion, the electrotonic structure of a neuron, the HS cell in this case, is surprisingly stable over a wide range of morphological scales.
"A manager in the minds of doctors:" a comparison of new modes of control in European hospitals
- Background: Hospital governance increasingly combines management and professional self-governance. This article maps the new emergent modes of control in a comparative perspective and aims to better understand the relationship between medicine and management as hybrid and context-dependent. Theoretically, we critically review approaches into the managerialism-professionalism relationship; methodologically, we expand cross-country comparison towards the meso-level of organisations; and empirically, the focus is on processes and actors in a range of European hospitals.
Methods: The research is explorative and was carried out as part of the FP7 COST action IS0903 Medicine and Management, Working Group 2. Comprising seven European countries, the focus is on doctors and public hospitals. We use a comparative case study design that primarily draws on expert information and document analysis as well as other secondary sources.
Results: The findings reveal that managerial control is not simply an external force but increasingly integrated in medical professionalism. These processes of change are relevant in all countries but shaped by organisational settings, and therefore create different patterns of control: (1) ‘integrated’ control with high levels of coordination and coherent patterns for cost and quality controls; (2) ‘partly integrated’ control with diversity of coordination on hospital and department level and between cost and quality controls; and (3) ‘fragmented’ control with limited coordination and gaps between quality control more strongly dominated by medicine, and cost control by management.
Conclusions: Our comparison highlights how organisations matter and brings the crucial relevance of ‘coordination’ of medicine and management across the levels (hospital/department) and the substance (cost/quality-safety) of control into perspective. Consequently, coordination may serve as a taxonomy of emergent modes of control, thus bringing new directions for cost-efficient and quality-effective hospital governance into perspective.
An open-label randomized clinical trial of prophylactic paracetamol coadministered with 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and hexavalent diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, 3-component acellular pertussis, hepatitis B, inactivated poliovirus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine
Markus A. Rose
William C. Gruber
- BACKGROUND: In two clinical trials, low-grade fever was observed more frequently after coadministration than after separate administration of two recommended routine pediatric vaccines. Since fever is an important issue with vaccine tolerability, we performed this open-label study on the efficacy and safety of prophylactic use of paracetamol (acetaminophen, Benuron(R)) in children administered routine 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) coadministered with hexavalent vaccine (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine [DTPa-HBV-IPV/Hib]) in Germany.
METHODS: Healthy infants (N = 301) who received a 3-dose infant series of PCV-7 and DTPa-HBV-IPV/Hib plus a toddler dose were randomly assigned 1:1 to prophylactic paracetamol (125 mg or 250 mg suppositories, based on body weight) at vaccination, and at 6--8 hour intervals thereafter, or a control group that received no paracetamol. Rectal temperature and local and other systemic reactions were measured for 4 days post vaccination; adverse events were collected throughout the study.
RESULTS: In the intent-to-treat population, paracetamol reduced the incidence of fever >=38[degree sign]C, but this reduction was only significant for the infant series, with computed efficacy of 43.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 17.4, 61.2), and not significant after the toddler dose (efficacy 15.9%; 95% CI: -19.9, 41.3); results were similar in the per protocol (PP) population. Fever >39[degree sign]C was rare during the infant series, such that there were too few cases for assessment. After the toddler dose, paracetamol effectively reduced fever >39[degree sign]C, reaching statistical significance in the PP population only (efficacy 79%; 95% CI: 3.9, 97.7). Paracetamol also reduced reactogenicity, but there were few significant differences between groups after any dose. No vaccine-related serious adverse events were reported.
CONCLUSIONS: Paracetamol effectively prevented fever and other reactions, mainly during the infant series. However, as events were generally mild and of no concern in either group our data support current recommendations to administer paracetamol to treat symptoms only and not for routine prophylaxis.Trial registration: NCT00294294.
A characterization of four B16 murine melanoma cell sublines molecular fingerprint and proliferation behavior
Simona Cîntă Pînzaru
Melania F. Munteanu
- Background: One of the most popular and versatile model of murine melanoma is by inoculating B16 cells in the syngeneic C57BL6J mouse strain. A characterization of different B16 modified cell sub-lines will be of real practical interest. For this aim, modern analytical tools like surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy/scattering (SERS) and MTT were employed to characterize both chemical composition and proliferation behavior of the selected cells.
Methods: High quality SERS signal was recorded from each of the four types of B16 cell sub-lines: B164A5, B16GMCSF, B16FLT3, B16F10, in order to observe the differences between a parent cell line (B164A5) and other derived B16 cell sub-lines. Cells were incubated with silver nanoparticles of 50–100 nm diameter and the nanoparticles uptake inside the cells cytoplasm was proved by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) investigations. In order to characterize proliferation, growth curves of the four B16 cell lines, using different cell numbers and FCS concentration were obtained employing the MTT proliferation assay. For correlations doubling time were calculated.
Results: SERS bands allowed the identification inside the cells of the main bio-molecular components such as: proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. An "on and off" SERS effect was constantly present, which may be explained in terms of the employed laser power, as well as the possible different orientations of the adsorbed species in the cells in respect to the Ag nanoparticles. MTT results showed that among the four tested cell sub-lines B16 F10 is the most proliferative and B164A5 has the lower growth capacity. Regarding B16FLT3 cells and B16GMCSF cells, they present proliferation ability in between with slight slower potency for B16GMCSF cells.
Conclusion: Molecular fingerprint and proliferation behavior of four B16 melanoma cell sub-lines were elucidated by associating SERS investigations with MTT proliferation assay.
Metabolic Changes in Summer Active and Anuric Hibernating Free-Ranging Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)
Abdul Rashid Qureshi
Richard J. Johnson
- The brown bear (Ursus arctos) hibernates for 5 to 6 months each winter and during this time ingests no food or water and remains anuric and inactive. Despite these extreme conditions, bears do not develop azotemia and preserve their muscle and bone strength. To date most renal studies have been limited to small numbers of bears, often in captive environments. Sixteen free-ranging bears were darted and had blood drawn both during hibernation in winter and summer. Samples were collected for measurement of creatinine and urea, markers of inflammation, the calcium-phosphate axis, and nutritional parameters including amino acids. In winter the bear serum creatinine increased 2.5 fold despite a 2-fold decrease in urea, indicating a remarkable ability to recycle urea nitrogen during hibernation. During hibernation serum calcium remained constant despite a decrease in serum phosphate and a rise in FGF23 levels. Despite prolonged inactivity and reduced renal function, inflammation does not ensue and bears seem to have enhanced antioxidant defense mechanisms during hibernation. Nutrition parameters showed high fat stores, preserved amino acids and mild hyperglycemia during hibernation. While total, essential, non-essential and branched chain amino acids concentrations do not change during hibernation anorexia, changes in individual amino acids ornithine, citrulline and arginine indicate an active, although reduced urea cycle and nitrogen recycling to proteins. Serum uric acid and serum fructose levels were elevated in summer and changes between seasons were positively correlated. Further studies to understand how bears can prevent the development of uremia despite minimal renal function during hibernation could provide new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of human kidney disease.
Prox1 regulates the notch1-mediated inhibition of neurogenesis
Panagiotis K. Politis
- Activation of Notch1 signaling in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) induces self-renewal and inhibits neurogenesis. Upon neuronal differentiation, NPCs overcome this inhibition, express proneural genes to induce Notch ligands, and activate Notch1 in neighboring NPCs. The molecular mechanism that coordinates Notch1 inactivation with initiation of neurogenesis remains elusive. Here, we provide evidence that Prox1, a transcription repressor and downstream target of proneural genes, counteracts Notch1 signaling via direct suppression of Notch1 gene expression. By expression studies in the developing spinal cord of chick and mouse embryo, we showed that Prox1 is limited to neuronal precursors residing between the Notch1+ NPCs and post-mitotic neurons. Physiological levels of Prox1 in this tissue are sufficient to allow binding at Notch1 promoter and they are critical for proper Notch1 transcriptional regulation in vivo. Gain-of-function studies in the chick neural tube and mouse NPCs suggest that Prox1-mediated suppression of Notch1 relieves its inhibition on neurogenesis and allows NPCs to exit the cell cycle and differentiate. Moreover, loss-of-function in the chick neural tube shows that Prox1 is necessary for suppression of Notch1 outside the ventricular zone, inhibition of active Notch signaling, down-regulation of NPC markers, and completion of neuronal differentiation program. Together these data suggest that Prox1 inhibits Notch1 gene expression to control the balance between NPC self-renewal and neuronal differentiation.
Live Imaging of Whole Mouse Embryos during Gastrulation: Migration Analyses of Epiblast and Mesodermal Cells
Philipp J. Keller
Ernst H. K. Stelzer
- During gastrulation in the mouse embryo, dynamic cell movements including epiblast invagination and mesodermal layer expansion lead to the establishment of the three-layered body plan. The precise details of these movements, however, are sometimes elusive, because of the limitations in live imaging. To overcome this problem, we developed techniques to enable observation of living mouse embryos with digital scanned light sheet microscope (DSLM). The achieved deep and high time-resolution images of GFP-expressing nuclei and following 3D tracking analysis revealed the following findings: (i) Interkinetic nuclear migration (INM) occurs in the epiblast at embryonic day (E)6 and 6.5. (ii) INM-like migration occurs in the E5.5 embryo, when the epiblast is a monolayer and not yet pseudostratified. (iii) Primary driving force for INM at E6.5 is not pressure from neighboring nuclei. (iv) Mesodermal cells migrate not as a sheet but as individual cells without coordination.