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.
Prospective evaluation of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of non-falciparum and mixed-species malaria in Gabon
Daisy A. Diop
Ayola A. Adegnika
Peter G. Kremsner
- Background: The recommendation of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria is supported by a plethora of high quality clinical trials. However, their recommendation for the treatment of mixed-species malaria and the large-scale use for the treatment of non-falciparum malaria in endemic regions is based on anecdotal rather than systematic clinical evidence.
Methods: This study prospectively observed the efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated non-falciparum or mixed-species malaria in two routine district hospitals in the Central African country of Gabon.
Results: Forty patients suffering from uncomplicated Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale or mixed-species malaria (including Plasmodium falciparum) presenting at the hospital received artemether-lumefantrine treatment and were followed up. All evaluable patients (n = 38) showed an adequate clinical and parasitological response on Day 28 after oral treatment with artemether-lumefantrine (95% confidence interval: 0.91,1). All adverse events were of mild to moderate intensity and completely resolved by the end of study.
Conclusions: This first systematic assessment of artemether-lumefantrine treatment for P. malariae, P. ovale and mixed-species malaria demonstrated a high cure rate of 100% and a favourable tolerability profile, and thus lends support to the practice of treating non-falciparum or mixed-species malaria, or all cases of malaria without definite species differentiation, with artemether-lumefantrine in Gabon.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00725777
Biglycan: a multivalent proteoglycan providing structure and signals
Madalina V. Nastase
Marian F. Young
- Research over the past few years has provided fascinating results indicating that biglycan, besides being a ubiquitous structural component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), may act as a signaling molecule. Proteolytically released from the ECM, biglycan acts as a danger signal signifying tissue stress or injury. As a ligand of innate immunity receptors and activator of the inflammasome, biglycan stimulates multifunctional proinflammatory signaling linking the innate to the adaptive immune response. By clustering several types of receptors on the cell surface and orchestrating their downstream signaling events, biglycan is capable to autonomously trigger sterile inflammation and to potentiate the inflammatory response to microbial invasion. Besides operating in a broad biological context, biglycan also displays tissue-specific affinities to certain receptors and structural components, thereby playing a crucial role in bone formation, muscle integrity, and synapse stability at the neuromuscular junction. This review attempts to provide a concise summary of recent data regarding the involvement of biglycan in the regulation of inflammation and the musculoskeletal system, pointing out both a signaling and a structural role for this proteoglycan. The potential of biglycan as a novel therapeutic target or agent for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and skeletal muscular dystrophies is also addressed.
Early otic development depends on autophagy for apoptotic cell clearance and neural differentiation
Maria Rodriguez Aburto
Juan M. Hurlé
- Autophagy is a highly regulated program of self-degradation of the cytosolic constituents that has key roles during early development and in adult cell growth and homeostasis. To investigate the role of autophagy in otic neurogenesis, we studied the expression of autophagy genes in early stages of chicken (Gallus gallus) inner ear development and the consequences of inhibiting the autophagic pathway in organotypic cultures of explanted chicken otic vesicles (OVs). Here we show the expression of autophagy-related genes (Atg) Beclin-1 (Atg6), Atg5 and LC3B (Atg8) in the otocyst and the presence of autophagic vesicles by using transmission electron microscopy in the otic neurogenic zone. The inhibition of the transcription of LC3B by using antisense morpholinos and of class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase with 3-methyladenine causes an aberrant morphology of the OV with accumulation of apoptotic cells. Moreover, inhibition of autophagy provokes the misregulation of the cell cycle in the otic epithelium, impaired neurogenesis and poor axonal outgrowth. Finally, our results indicate that autophagy provides the energy required for the clearing of neuroepithelial dying cells and suggest that it is required for the migration of otic neuronal precursors. Taken together, our results show for the first time that autophagy is an active and essential process during early inner ear development.
Tumor angiogenesis and anti-angiogenic therapy in malignant gliomas revisited
Karl H. Plate
Daniel J. Dumont
- The cellular and molecular mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis and its prospects for anti-angiogenic cancer therapy are major issues in almost all current concepts of both cancer biology and targeted cancer therapy. Currently, (1) sprouting angiogenesis, (2) vascular co-option, (3) vascular intussusception, (4) vasculogenic mimicry, (5) bone marrow-derived vasculogenesis, (6) cancer stem-like cell-derived vasculogenesis and (7) myeloid cell-driven angiogenesis are all considered to contribute to tumor angiogenesis. Many of these processes have been described in developmental angiogenesis; however, the relative contribution and relevance of these in human brain cancer remain unclear. Preclinical tumor models support a role for sprouting angiogenesis, vascular co-option and myeloid cell-derived angiogenesis in glioma vascularization, whereas a role for the other four mechanisms remains controversial and rather enigmatic. The anti-angiogenesis drug Avastin (Bevacizumab), which targets VEGF, has become one of the most popular cancer drugs in the world. Anti-angiogenic therapy may lead to vascular normalization and as such facilitate conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. However, preclinical and clinical studies suggest that anti-VEGF therapy using bevacizumab may also lead to a pro-migratory phenotype in therapy resistant glioblastomas and thus actively promote tumor invasion and recurrent tumor growth. This review focusses on (1) mechanisms of tumor angiogenesis in human malignant glioma that are of particular relevance for targeted therapy and (2) controversial issues in tumor angiogenesis such as cancer stem-like cell-derived vasculogenesis and bone-marrow-derived vasculogenesis.
Changes of smooth muscle contractile filaments in small bowel atresia
- AIM: To investigate morphological changes of intestinal smooth muscle contractile fibres in small bowel atresia patients. METHODS: Resected small bowel specimens from small bowel atresia patients (n = 12) were divided into three sections (proximal, atretic and distal). Standard histology hematoxylin-eosin staining and enzyme immunohistochemistry was performed to visualize smooth muscle contractile markers α-smooth muscle actin (SMA) and desmin using conventional paraffin sections of the proximal and distal bowel. Small bowel from age-matched patients (n = 2) undergoing Meckel's diverticulum resection served as controls.
RESULTS: The smooth muscle coat in the proximal bowel of small bowel atresia patients was thickened compared with control tissue, but the distal bowel was unchanged. Expression of smooth muscle contractile fibres SMA and desmin within the proximal bowel was slightly reduced compared with the distal bowel and control tissue. There were no major differences in the architecture of the smooth muscle within the proximal bowel and the distal bowel. The proximal and distal bowel in small bowel atresia patients revealed only minimal differences regarding smooth muscle morphology and the presence of smooth muscle contractile filament markers.
CONCLUSION: Changes in smooth muscle contractile filaments do not appear to play a major role in postoperative motility disorders in small bowel atresia.
Investigation of acupuncture sensation patterns under sensory deprivation using a geographic information system
- The study of acupuncture-related sensations, like deqi and propagated sensations along channels (PSCs), has a long tradition in acupuncture basic research. The phenomenon itself, however, remains poorly understood. To study the connection between PSC and classical meridians, we applied a geographic information system (GIS) to analyze sketches of acupuncture sensations from healthy volunteers after laser acupuncture. As PSC can be subtle, we aimed at reducing the confounding impact of external stimuli by carrying out the experiment in a floatation tank under restricted environmental stimulation. 82.4% of the subjects experienced PSC, that is, they had line-like or 2-dimensional sensations, although there were some doubts that these were related to the laser stimulation. Line-like sensations on the same limb were averaged to calculate sensation mean courses, which were then compared to classical meridians by measuring the mean distance between the two. Distances ranged from 0.83 cm in the case of the heart (HT) and spleen (SP) meridian to 6.27 cm in the case of the kidney (KI) meridian. Furthermore, PSC was observed to “jump” between adjacent meridians. In summary, GIS has proven to be a valuable tool to study PSC, and our results suggest a close connection between PSC and classical meridians.
Asynchronous responses of East Asian and Indian summer monsoons to mountain uplift shown by regional climate modelling experiments
Jussi T. Eronen
- has been demonstrated in climate models that both the Indian and East Asian summer monsoons (ISM and EASM) are strengthened by the uplift of the entire Asian orography or Tibetan Plateau (TP) (i.e. bulk mountain uplift). Such an effect is widely perceived as the major mechanism contributing to the evolution of Asian summer monsoons in the Neogene. However, geological evidence suggests more diachronous growth of the Asian orography (i.e. regional mountain uplift) than bulk mountain uplift. This demands a re-evaluation of the relation between mountain uplift and the Asian monsoon in the geological periods. In this study, sensitivity experiments considering the diachronous growth of different parts of the Asian orography are performed using the regional climate model COSMO-CLM to investigate their effects on the Asian summer monsoons. The results show that, different from the bulk mountain uplift, the regional mountain uplift can lead to an asynchronous development of the ISM and EASM. While the ISM is primarily intensified by the thermal insulation (mechanical blocking) effect of the southern TP (Zagros Mountains), the EASM is mainly enhanced by the surface sensible heating of the central, northern and eastern TP. Such elevated surface heating can induce a low-level cyclonic anomaly around the TP that reduces the ISM by suppressing the lower tropospheric monsoon vorticity, but promotes the EASM by strengthening the warm advection from the south of the TP that sustains the monsoon convection. Our findings provide new insights to the evolution of the Asian summer monsoons and their interaction with the tectonic changes in the Neogene.
Implementing transparency in an Eastern European office market: preparing Warsaw for global investments
- In the aftermath of an increasing integration of property and financial markets, the real estate industry is subject to soaring internationalization processes. Since international institutional investors appeared, transnational real estate investments have increased tremendously. In recent years, Central and Eastern European countries have been becoming more attractive to institutional investors and are therefore being integrated into international market structures. Within these countries, Warsaw emerged as the most dynamic and important real estate market. But what are the mechanisms and practices through which the real estate market of Warsaw becomes international? Which networks, intermediaries and frames are necessary to constitute a mature real estate market? The article argues that international real estate consultants are playing a crucial role in the underlying internationalization process. They are acting at the interface between investors, developers, construction companies and tenants and are therefore becoming a crucial hinge between real estate actors. With the example of the Warsaw real estate market we argue that international real estate consultancies are key drivers of the transformation process from a local to a global market. They transfer global knowledge, competence and practices and implement transparent and professional structures in the emerging Warsaw real estate market.