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Histamine is used in bronchial and dermal provocation, but it is rarely considered an environmental risk factor in allergic disease. Because bed bugs defecate large amounts of histamine as a component of their aggregation pheromone, we sought to determine if histamine accumulates in household dust in bed bug infested homes, and the effects of bed bug eradication with spatial heat on histamine levels in dust. We collected dust in homes and analyzed for histamine before, and up to three months after bed bug eradication. Histamine levels in bed bug infested homes were remarkably high (mean = 54.6±18.9 μg/100 mg of sieved household dust) and significantly higher than in control homes not infested with bed bugs (mean < 2.5±1.9 μg/100 mg of sieved household dust). Heat treatments that eradicated the bed bug infestations failed to reduce histamine levels, even three months after treatment. We report a clear association between histamine levels in household dust and bed bug infestations. The high concentrations, persistence, and proximity to humans during sleep suggest that bed bug-produced histamine may represent an emergent contaminant and pose a serious health risk in the indoor environment.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Asthma, Hemiptera, Bedbug


For many cancer types, incidence rises rapidly with age as an apparent power law, supporting the idea that cancer is caused by a gradual accumulation of genetic mutations. Similarly, the incidence of many infectious diseases strongly increases with age. Here, combining data from immunology and epidemiology, we show that many of these dramatic age-related increases in incidence can be modeled based on immune system decline, rather than mutation accumulation. In humans, the thymus atrophies from infancy, resulting in an exponential decline in T cell production with a half-life of ∼16 years, which we use as the basis for a minimal mathematical model of disease incidence. Our model outperforms the power law model with the same number of fitting parameters in describing cancer incidence data across a wide spectrum of different cancers, and provides excellent fits to infectious disease data. This framework provides mechanistic insight into cancer emergence, suggesting that age-related decline in T cell output is a major risk factor.

Concepts: Immune system, Epidemiology, Cancer, Disease, Infectious disease, Mutation, Infection, Thymus


The predisposition to neuropsychiatric disease involves a complex, polygenic, and pleiotropic genetic architecture. However, little is known about how genetic variants impart brain dysfunction or pathology. We used transcriptomic profiling as a quantitative readout of molecular brain-based phenotypes across five major psychiatric disorders-autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and alcoholism-compared with matched controls. We identified patterns of shared and distinct gene-expression perturbations across these conditions. The degree of sharing of transcriptional dysregulation is related to polygenic (single-nucleotide polymorphism-based) overlap across disorders, suggesting a substantial causal genetic component. This comprehensive systems-level view of the neurobiological architecture of major neuropsychiatric illness demonstrates pathways of molecular convergence and specificity.

Concepts: Psychology, Genetics, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Borderline personality disorder, Bipolar disorder, Psychiatry, Suicide


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) hold great promise for understanding kidney development and disease. We reproducibly differentiated three genetically distinct wild-type hPSC lines to kidney precursors that underwent rudimentary morphogenesis in vitro. They expressed nephron and collecting duct lineage marker genes, several of which are mutated in human kidney disease. Lentiviral-transduced hPSCs expressing reporter genes differentiated similarly to controls in vitro. Kidney progenitors were subcutaneously implanted into immunodeficient mice. By 12 weeks, they formed organ-like masses detectable by bioluminescence imaging. Implants included perfused glomeruli containing human capillaries, podocytes with regions of mature basement membrane, and mesangial cells. After intravenous injection of fluorescent low-molecular-weight dextran, signal was detected in tubules, demonstrating uptake from glomerular filtrate. Thus, we have developed methods to trace hPSC-derived kidney precursors that formed functioning nephrons in vivo. These advances beyond in vitro culture are critical steps toward using hPSCs to model and treat kidney diseases.

Concepts: Kidney, Glomerulus, Bowman's capsule, Nephron, Distal convoluted tubule, Kidney anatomy, Podocyte, Renal corpuscle


We report the occurrence at 0.7 million years (Ma) of an ichnological assemblage at Gombore II-2, which is one of several archaeological sites at Melka Kunture in the upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia, 2000 m asl. Adults and children potentially as young as 12 months old left tracks in a silty substrate on the shore of a body of water where ungulates, as well as other mammals and birds, congregated. Furthermore, the same layers contain a rich archaeological and palaeontological record, confirming that knapping was taking place in situ and that stone tools were used for butchering hippo carcasses at the site. The site gives direct information on hominin landscape use at 0.7 Ma and may provide fresh perspective on the childhood of our ancestors.

Concepts: Water, Paleontology, Archaeology, Artifact, Eocene, Stone tool, Archaeological site, Afar Region


Major histocompatibility (MHC) class II molecules are strongly associated with many autoimmune disorders. In type 1 diabetes, the DQ8 molecule is common, confers significant disease risk and is involved in disease pathogenesis. We hypothesized blocking DQ8 antigen presentation would provide therapeutic benefit by preventing recognition of self-peptides by pathogenic T cells. We used the crystal structure of DQ8 to select drug-like small molecules predicted to bind structural pockets in the MHC antigen-binding cleft. A limited number of the predicted compounds inhibited DQ8 antigen presentation in vitro with one compound preventing insulin autoantibody production and delaying diabetes onset in an animal model of spontaneous autoimmune diabetes. An existing drug of similar structure, methyldopa, specifically blocked DQ8 in recent-onset patients with type 1 diabetes along with reducing inflammatory T cell responses toward insulin, highlighting the relevance of blocking disease-specific MHC class II antigen presentation to treat autoimmunity.

Concepts: Immune system, Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 1, Atom, Adaptive immune system, Major histocompatibility complex, MHC class I, Chemical compound


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle school and high school students in 2016 (1). CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed data from the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) to assess self-reported reasons for e-cigarette use among U.S. middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) student e-cigarette users. Among students who reported ever using e-cigarettes in 2016, the most commonly selected reasons for use were 1) use by “friend or family member” (39.0%); 2) availability of “flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate” (31.0%); and 3) the belief that “they are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes” (17.1%). The least commonly selected reasons were 1) “they are easier to get than other tobacco products, such as cigarettes” (4.8%); 2) “they cost less than other tobacco products such as cigarettes” (3.2%); and 3) “famous people on TV or in movies use them” (1.5%). Availability of flavors as a reason for use was more commonly selected by high school users (32.3%) than by middle school users (26.8%). Efforts to prevent middle school and high school students from initiating the use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, are important to reduce tobacco product use among U.S. youths (2).

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, High school, Electronic cigarette, College, Youth


Influenza activity in the United States began to increase in early November 2017 and rose sharply from December through February 3, 2018; elevated influenza activity is expected to continue for several more weeks. Influenza A viruses have been most commonly identified, with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating, but influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses were also reported. This report summarizes U.S. influenza activity* during October 1, 2017-February 3, 2018,†and updates the previous summary (1).

Concepts: United States, Influenza, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, World Health Organization, Humid subtropical climate, Orthomyxoviridae, Public transport


To investigate patterns of industry-sponsored educational events that focus on specific health conditions for which there are concerns about overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Learning


Total RNA sequencing has been used to reveal poly(A) and non-poly(A) RNA expression, RNA processing and enhancer activity. To date, no method for full-length total RNA sequencing of single cells has been developed despite the potential of this technology for single-cell biology. Here we describe random displacement amplification sequencing (RamDA-seq), the first full-length total RNA-sequencing method for single cells. Compared with other methods, RamDA-seq shows high sensitivity to non-poly(A) RNA and near-complete full-length transcript coverage. Using RamDA-seq with differentiation time course samples of mouse embryonic stem cells, we reveal hundreds of dynamically regulated non-poly(A) transcripts, including histone transcripts and long noncoding RNA Neat1. Moreover, RamDA-seq profiles recursive splicing in >300-kb introns. RamDA-seq also detects enhancer RNAs and their cell type-specific activity in single cells. Taken together, we demonstrate that RamDA-seq could help investigate the dynamics of gene expression, RNA-processing events and transcriptional regulation in single cells.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Transcription, Molecular biology, RNA, Intron