From heterogeneity to harmonization? : Recent trends in European health policy = Da heterogeneidade à harmonização?
- In the European Union (EU), health policy and the institutional reform of health systems have been treated primarily as national affairs, and health care systems within the EU thus differ considerably. However, the health policy field is undergoing a dynamic process of Europeanization. This process is stimulated by the orientation towards a more competitive economy, recently inaugurated and known as the Lisbon Strategy, while the regulatory requirements of the European Economic and Monetary Union are stimulating the Europeanization of health policy. In addition, the so-called open method of coordination, representing a new mode of regulation within the European multi-level system, is applied increasingly to the health policy area. Diverse trends are thus emerging. While the Lisbon Strategy goes along with a strategic upgrading of health policy more generally, health policy is increasingly used to strengthen economic competitiveness. Pressure on Member States is expected to increase to contain costs and promote market-based health care provision. European Union; Health Policy; Health Systems
AChBP-targeted alpha-conotoxin correlates distinct binding orientations with nAChR subtype selectivity
René van Elk
Paul F. Alewood
August B. Smit
Titia K. Sixma
Richard J. Lewis
- Neuronal nAChRs are a diverse family of pentameric ion channels with wide distribution throughout cells of the nervous and immune systems. However, the role of specific subtypes in normal and pathological states remains poorly understood due to the lack of selective probes. Here, we used a binding assay based on acetylcholine-binding protein (AChBP), a homolog of the nicotinic acetylcholine ligand-binding domain, to discover a novel alpha-conotoxin (alpha-TxIA) in the venom of Conus textile. alpha-TxIA bound with high affinity to AChBPs from different species and selectively targeted the alpha3beta2 nAChR subtype. A co-crystal structure of Ac-AChBP with the enhanced potency analog TxIA(A10L), revealed a 20° backbone tilt compared to other AChBP–conotoxin complexes. This reorientation was coordinated by a key salt bridge formed between Arg5 (TxIA) and Asp195 (Ac-AChBP). Mutagenesis studies, biochemical assays and electrophysiological recordings directly correlated the interactions observed in the co-crystal structure to binding affinity at AChBP and different nAChR subtypes. Together, these results establish a new pharmacophore for the design of novel subtype-selective ligands with therapeutic potential in nAChR-related diseases. Keywords: acetylcholine binding protein, conotoxin, cys-loop receptor, ion channel, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
Response properties of human amygdala subregions : evidence based on functional MRI combined with probabilistic anatomical maps
Simon B. Eickhoff
- The human amygdala is thought to play a pivotal role in the processing of emotionally significant sensory information. The major subdivisions of the human amygdala—the laterobasal group (LB), the superficial group (SF), and the centromedial group (CM)—have been anatomically delineated, but the functional response properties of these amygdala subregions in humans are still unclear. We combined functional MRI with cyto-architectonically defined probabilistic maps to analyze the response characteristics of amygdala subregions in subjects presented with auditory stimuli. We found positive auditory stimulation-related signal changes predominantly in probabilistically defined LB, and negative responses predominantly in SF and CM. In the left amygdala, mean response magnitude in the core area of LB with 90–100% assignment probability was significantly larger than in the core areas of SF and CM. These differences were observed for pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. Our findings reveal that the probabilistically defined anatomical subregions of the human amygdala show distinctive fMRI response patterns. The stronger auditory responses in LB as compared with SF and CM may reflect a predominance of auditory inputs to human LB, similar to many animal species in which the majority of sensory, including auditory, afferents project to this subdivision of the amygdala. Our study indicates that the intrinsic functional differentiation of the human amygdala may be probed using fMRI combined with probabilistic anatomical maps.
Sublinearly space bounded iterative arrays
- Iterative arrays (IAs) are a, parallel computational model with a sequential processing of the input. They are one-dimensional arrays of interacting identical deterministic finite automata. In this note, realtime-lAs with sublinear space bounds are used to accept formal languages. The existence of a proper hierarchy of space complexity classes between logarithmic anel linear space bounds is proved. Furthermore, an optimal spacc lower bound for non-regular language recognition is shown. Key words: Iterative arrays, cellular automata, space bounded computations, decidability questions, formal languages, theory of computation
Heat shock inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced tissue factor activity in human whole blood
- Background During gram-negative sepsis, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induces tissue factor expression on monocytes. The resulting disseminated intravascular coagulation leads to tissue ischemia and worsens the prognosis of septic patients. There are indications, that fever reduces the mortality of sepsis, the effect on tissue factor activity on monocytes is unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether heat shock modulates LPS-induced tissue factor activity in human blood. Methods Whole blood samples and leukocyte suspensions, respectively, from healthy probands (n = 12) were incubated with LPS for 2 hours under heat shock conditions (43°C) or control conditions (37°C), respectively. Subsequent to further 3 hours of incubation at 37°C the clotting time, a measure of tissue factor expression, was determined. Cell integrity was verified by trypan blue exclusion test and FACS analysis. Results Incubation of whole blood samples with LPS for 5 hours at normothermia resulted in a significant shortening of clotting time from 357 ± 108 sec to 82 ± 8 sec compared to samples incubated without LPS (n = 12; p < 0.05). This LPS effect was mediated by tissue factor, as inhibition with active site-inhibited factor VIIa (ASIS) abolished the effect of LPS on clotting time. Blockade of protein synthesis using cycloheximide demonstrated that LPS exerted its procoagulatory effect via an induction of tissue factor expression. Upon heat shock treatment, the LPS effect was blunted: clotting times were 312 ± 66 s in absence of LPS and 277 ± 65 s in presence of LPS (n = 8; p > 0.05). Similarly, heat shock treatment of leukocyte suspensions abolished the LPS-induced tissue factor activity. Clotting time was 73 ± 31 s, when cells were treated with LPS (100 ng/mL) under normothermic conditions, and 301 ± 118 s, when treated with LPS (100 ng/mL) and heat shock (n = 8, p < 0.05). Control experiments excluded cell damage as a potential cause of the observed heat shock effect. Conclusion Heat shock treatment inhibits LPS-induced tissue factor activity in human whole blood samples and isolated leukocytes.
CpG oligonucleotide activates Toll-like receptor 9 and causes lung inflammation in vivo
- Background Bacterial DNA containing motifs of unmethylated CpG dinucleotides (CpG-ODN) initiate an innate immune response mediated by the pattern recognition receptor Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9). This leads in particular to the expression of proinflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). TLR9 is expressed in human and murine pulmonary tissue and induction of proinflammatory mediators has been linked to the development of acute lung injury. Therefore, the hypothesis was tested whether CpG-ODN administration induces an inflammatory response in the lung via TLR9 in vivo. Methods Wild-type (WT) and TLR9-deficient (TLR9-D) mice received CpG-ODN intraperitoneally (1668-Thioat, 1 nmol/g BW) and were observed for up to 6 hrs. Lung tissue and plasma samples were taken and various inflammatory markers were measured. Results In WT mice, CpG-ODN induced a strong activation of pulmonary NFKB as well as a significant increase in pulmonary TNF-alpha and IL-1beta mRNA/protein. In addition, cytokine serum levels were significantly elevated in WT mice. Increased pulmonary content of lung myeloperoxidase (MPO) was documented in WT mice following application of CpG-ODN. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) revealed that CpG-ODN stimulation significantly increased total cell number as well as neutrophil count in WT animals. In contrast, the CpG-ODN-induced inflammatory response was abolished in TLR9-D mice. Conclusion This study suggests that bacterial CpG-ODN causes lung inflammation via TLR9.
A method for improving the performance of gradient systems for diffusion-weighted MRI
Daniel C. Alexander
- The MR signal is sensitive to diffusion. This effect can be increased by the use of large, balanced bipolar gradients. The gradient systems of MR scanners are calibrated at installation and during regular servicing visits. Because the measured apparent diffusion constant (ADC) depends on the square of the amplitude of the diffusion sensitizing gradients, errors in the gradient calibration are exaggerated. If the error is varying among the different gradient axes, it will affect the estimated degree of anisotropy. To assess the gradient calibration accuracy in a whole-body MRI scanner, ADC values were calculated for a uniform water phantom along each gradient direction while monitoring the temperature. Knowledge of the temperature allows the expected diffusion constant of water to be calculated independent of the MRI measurement. It was found that the gradient axes (±x, ±y, ±z) were calibrated differently, resulting in offset ADC values. A method is presented to rescale the amplitude of each of the six principal gradient axes within the MR pulse sequence. The scaling factor is the square root of the ratio of the expected and observed diffusion constants. In addition, fiber tracking results in the human brain were noticeably affected by improving the gradient system calibration. Magn Reson Med 58:763–768, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Keywords: diffusion tensor imaging, apparent diffusion constant, magnetic field gradient, fibre tracking, anisotropy
Microarray analysis in the Archaeon Halobacterium salinarum strain R1
- Background: Phototrophy of the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium salinarum was explored for decades. The research was mainly focused on the expression of bacteriorhodopsin and its functional properties. In contrast, less is known about genome wide transcriptional changes and their impact on the physiological adaptation to phototrophy. The tool of choice to record transcriptional profiles is the DNA microarray technique. However, the technique is still rarely used for transcriptome analysis in archaea. Methodology/Principal Findings: We developed a whole-genome DNA microarray based on our sequence data of the Hbt. salinarum strain R1 genome. The potential of our tool is exemplified by the comparison of cells growing under aerobic and phototrophic conditions, respectively. We processed the raw fluorescence data by several stringent filtering steps and a subsequent MAANOVA analysis. The study revealed a lot of transcriptional differences between the two cell states. We found that the transcriptional changes were relatively weak, though significant. Finally, the DNA microarray data were independently verified by a real-time PCR analysis. Conclusion/Significance: This is the first DNA microarray analysis of Hbt. salinarum cells that were actually grown under phototrophic conditions. By comparing the transcriptomics data with current knowledge we could show that our DNA microarray tool is well applicable for transcriptome analysis in the extremely halophilic archaeon Hbt. salinarum. The reliability of our tool is based on both the high-quality array of DNA probes and the stringent data handling including MAANOVA analysis. Among the regulated genes more than 50% had unknown functions. This underlines the fact that haloarchaeal phototrophy is still far away from being completely understood. Hence, the data recorded in this study will be subject to future systems biology analysis.
Mutual information based clustering of market basket data for profiling users
Rüdiger W. Brause
- Attraction and commercial success of web sites depend heavily on the additional values visitors may find. Here, individual, automatically obtained and maintained user profiles are the key for user satisfaction. This contribution shows for the example of a cooking information site how user profiles might be obtained using category information provided by cooking recipes. It is shown that metrical distance functions and standard clustering procedures lead to erroneous results. Instead, we propose a new mutual information based clustering approach and outline its implications for the example of user profiling.
kurz und kn@pp news : Nr. 8 [engl. Fassung]
- * Advance Notice: 1st Frankfurt Ge-neral Practice Day
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