SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

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CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and multiple public health and clinical partners are investigating a national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Based on data collected as of October 15, 2019, 86% of 867 EVALI patients reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products in the 3 months preceding symptom onset (1). Analyses of THC-containing product samples by FDA and state public health laboratories have identified potentially harmful constituents in these products, such as vitamin E acetate, medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil), and other lipids (2,3) (personal communication, D.T. Heitkemper, FDA Forensic Chemistry Center, November 2019). Vitamin E acetate, in particular, might be used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping, products; it also can be used as a thickening agent in THC products (4). Inhalation of vitamin E acetate might impair lung function (5-7).

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Influenza A virus (IAV) infection-associated morbidity and mortality are a key global health care concern, necessitating the identification of new therapies capable of reducing the severity of IAV infections. In this study, we show that the consumption of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet (KD) protects mice from lethal IAV infection and disease. KD feeding resulted in an expansion of γδ T cells in the lung that improved barrier functions, thereby enhancing antiviral resistance. Expansion of these protective γδ T cells required metabolic adaptation to a ketogenic diet because neither feeding mice a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet nor providing chemical ketone body substrate that bypasses hepatic ketogenesis protected against infection. Therefore, KD-mediated immune-metabolic integration represents a viable avenue toward preventing or alleviating influenza disease.

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Vegetation impacts on ecosystem functioning are mediated by mycorrhizas, plant-fungal associations formed by most plant species. Ecosystems dominated by distinct mycorrhizal types differ strongly in their biogeochemistry. Quantitative analyses of mycorrhizal impacts on ecosystem functioning are hindered by the scarcity of information on mycorrhizal distributions. Here we present global, high-resolution maps of vegetation biomass distribution by dominant mycorrhizal associations. Arbuscular, ectomycorrhizal, and ericoid mycorrhizal vegetation store, respectively, 241 ± 15, 100 ± 17, and 7 ± 1.8 GT carbon in aboveground biomass, whereas non-mycorrhizal vegetation stores 29 ± 5.5 GT carbon. Soil carbon stocks in both topsoil and subsoil are positively related to the community-level biomass fraction of ectomycorrhizal plants, though the strength of this relationship varies across biomes. We show that human-induced transformations of Earth’s ecosystems have reduced ectomycorrhizal vegetation, with potential ramifications to terrestrial carbon stocks. Our work provides a benchmark for spatially explicit and globally quantitative assessments of mycorrhizal impacts on ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycling.

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Optical sensors on wearable devices can detect irregular pulses. The ability of a smartwatch application (app) to identify atrial fibrillation during typical use is unknown.

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To investigate whether illiteracy was associated with greater risk of prevalent and incident dementia and more rapid cognitive decline among older adults with low education.

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Controversy remains as to whether poor oral health is independently associated with gastrointestinal cancers, due to potential confounding by smoking, alcohol and poor nutrition. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between oral health conditions and gastrointestinal cancer risk.

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Ancient Rome was the capital of an empire of ~70 million inhabitants, but little is known about the genetics of ancient Romans. Here we present 127 genomes from 29 archaeological sites in and around Rome, spanning the past 12,000 years. We observe two major prehistoric ancestry transitions: one with the introduction of farming and another prior to the Iron Age. By the founding of Rome, the genetic composition of the region approximated that of modern Mediterranean populations. During the Imperial period, Rome’s population received net immigration from the Near East, followed by an increase in genetic contributions from Europe. These ancestry shifts mirrored the geopolitical affiliations of Rome and were accompanied by marked interindividual diversity, reflecting gene flow from across the Mediterranean, Europe, and North Africa.

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We examined the long-term impact of coauthorship with established, highly-cited scientists on the careers of junior researchers in four scientific disciplines. Here, using matched pair analysis, we find that junior researchers who coauthor work with top scientists enjoy a persistent competitive advantage throughout the rest of their careers, compared to peers with similar early career profiles but without top coauthors. Such early coauthorship predicts a higher probability of repeatedly coauthoring work with top-cited scientists, and, ultimately, a higher probability of becoming one. Junior researchers affiliated with less prestigious institutions show the most benefits from coauthorship with a top scientist. As a consequence, we argue that such institutions may hold vast amounts of untapped potential, which may be realised by improving access to top scientists.

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Inter-specific emotion recognition is especially adaptive when species spend a long time in close association, like dogs and humans. Here, we comprehensively studied the human ability to recognize facial expressions associated with dog emotions (hereafter, emotions). Participants were presented with pictures of dogs, humans and chimpanzees, showing angry, fearful, happy, neutral and sad emotions, and had to assess which emotion was shown, and the context in which the picture had been taken. Participants were recruited among children and adults with different levels of general experience with dogs, resulting from different personal (i.e. dog ownership) and cultural experiences (i.e. growing up or being exposed to a cultural milieu in which dogs are highly valued and integrated in human lives). Our results showed that some dog emotions such as anger and happiness are recognized from early on, independently of experience. However, the ability to recognize dog emotions is mainly acquired through experience. In adults, the probability of recognizing dog emotions was higher for participants grown up in a cultural milieu with a positive attitude toward dogs, which may result in different passive exposure, interest or inclination toward this species.

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Chronic liver disease due to alcohol-use disorder contributes markedly to the global burden of disease and mortality1-3. Alcoholic hepatitis is a severe and life-threatening form of alcohol-associated liver disease. The gut microbiota promotes ethanol-induced liver disease in mice4, but little is known about the microbial factors that are responsible for this process. Here we identify cytolysin-a two-subunit exotoxin that is secreted by Enterococcus faecalis5,6-as a cause of hepatocyte death and liver injury. Compared with non-alcoholic individuals or patients with alcohol-use disorder, patients with alcoholic hepatitis have increased faecal numbers of E. faecalis. The presence of cytolysin-positive (cytolytic) E. faecalis correlated with the severity of liver disease and with mortality in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. Using humanized mice that were colonized with bacteria from the faeces of patients with alcoholic hepatitis, we investigated the therapeutic effects of bacteriophages that target cytolytic E. faecalis. We found that these bacteriophages decrease cytolysin in the liver and abolish ethanol-induced liver disease in humanized mice. Our findings link cytolytic E. faecalis with more severe clinical outcomes and increased mortality in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. We show that bacteriophages can specifically target cytolytic E. faecalis, which provides a method for precisely editing the intestinal microbiota. A clinical trial with a larger cohort is required to validate the relevance of our findings in humans, and to test whether this therapeutic approach is effective for patients with alcoholic hepatitis.