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

Concept: East Asia


Breastfeeding confers substantial benefits to child health and has also been associated with lower risk of maternal cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in later life. However, the evidence on the effects of CVD is still inconsistent, especially in East Asians, in whom the frequency and duration of breastfeeding significantly differ from those in the West.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Disease, Death, Cardiovascular disease, Non-infectious disease, East Asia, British Chinese


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have detected many disease associations. However, the reported variants tend to explain small fractions of risk, and there are doubts about issues such as the portability of findings over different ethnic groups or the relative roles of rare versus common variants in the genetic architecture of complex disease. Studying the degree of sharing of disease-associated variants across populations can help in solving these issues. We present a comprehensive survey of GWAS replicability across 28 diseases. Most loci and SNPs discovered in Europeans for these conditions have been extensively replicated using peoples of European and East Asian ancestry, while the replication with individuals of African ancestry is much less common. We found a strong and significant correlation of Odds Ratios across Europeans and East Asians, indicating that underlying causal variants are common and shared between the two ancestries. Moreover, SNPs that failed to replicate in East Asians map into genomic regions where Linkage Disequilibrium patterns differ significantly between populations. Finally, we observed that GWAS with larger sample sizes have detected variants with weaker effects rather than with lower frequencies. Our results indicate that most GWAS results are due to common variants. In addition, the sharing of disease alleles and the high correlation in their effect sizes suggest that most of the underlying causal variants are shared between Europeans and East Asians and that they tend to map close to the associated marker SNPs.

Concepts: Genetics, Genome-wide association study, Effect size, Ethnic group, Asia, Replication, East Asia, Asian people


Asakura-sanshoo (Zanthoxylum piperitum [L.] DC. f. inerme Makino) is an important medicinal plant in East Asia. Transgenic technique could be applied to improve plant traits and analyze gene function. However, there is no report on regeneration and genetic transformation in Asakura-sanshoo.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Biology, Horizontal gene transfer, Agrobacterium, Asia, East Asia, Bacterial conjugation, Transformation


Polygonum multiflorum Thunb. (PMT), officially listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, is one of the most popular perennial Chinese traditional medicines known as He shou wu in China and East Asia, and as Fo-ti in North America. Mounting pharmacological studies have stressed out its key benefice for the treatment of various diseases and medical conditions such as liver injury, cancer, diabetes, alopecia, atherosclerosis, and neurodegenerative diseases as well. International databases such as PubMed/Medline, Science citation Index and Google Scholar were searched for clinical studies recently published on P. multiflorum. Various clinical studies published articles were retrieved, providing information relevant to pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics analysis, sleep disorders, dyslipidemia treatment, and neurodegenerative diseases. This review is an effort to update the clinical picture of investigations ever carried on PMT and/or its isolated bio-compounds and to enlighten its therapeutic assessment.

Concepts: Medicine, The Canon of Medicine, China, East Asia, Chinese language, Polygonum multiflorum, Polygonum, Shou Wu Chih


On December 3, 2014, a type O foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak occurred in South Korea. Although vaccinations were administered, cases of FMD increased steadily for five months and reached 185 cases by April 2015. Most of the affected animals were pigs, which are vulnerable to vaccinations. The FMD virus belonged to the South-East Asia (SEA) topotype that had been observed three times in Korea from April 2010 to July 2014. However, the virus in December 2014 had a unique difference in a partial deletion of the 5' noncoding region, which had not been seen in the previous SEA topotype isolates that were identified in Korea. Therefore, we inferred that this outbreak was the introduction of a new strain and that South Korea was affected by genetically similar strains of the FMD virus similar to those from neighboring countries.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Virus, Vaccination, Philippines, Asia, East Asia, Foot-and-mouth disease


To determine the prevalence and associated factors for myopia and high myopia among older population in a rural community in Eastern China.

Concepts: People's Republic of China, East Asia


Ancient genomes have revolutionized our understanding of Holocene prehistory and, particularly, the Neolithic transition in western Eurasia. In contrast, East Asia has so far received little attention, despite representing a core region at which the Neolithic transition took place independently ~3 millennia after its onset in the Near East. We report genome-wide data from two hunter-gatherers from Devil’s Gate, an early Neolithic cave site (dated to ~7.7 thousand years ago) located in East Asia, on the border between Russia and Korea. Both of these individuals are genetically most similar to geographically close modern populations from the Amur Basin, all speaking Tungusic languages, and, in particular, to the Ulchi. The similarity to nearby modern populations and the low levels of additional genetic material in the Ulchi imply a high level of genetic continuity in this region during the Holocene, a pattern that markedly contrasts with that reported for Europe.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Virus, Europe, Asia, East Asia, Neolithic, Far East


Cross-cultural psychologists have mostly contrasted East Asia with the West. However, this study shows that there are major psychological differences within China. We propose that a history of farming rice makes cultures more interdependent, whereas farming wheat makes cultures more independent, and these agricultural legacies continue to affect people in the modern world. We tested 1162 Han Chinese participants in six sites and found that rice-growing southern China is more interdependent and holistic-thinking than the wheat-growing north. To control for confounds like climate, we tested people from neighboring counties along the rice-wheat border and found differences that were just as large. We also find that modernization and pathogen prevalence theories do not fit the data.

Concepts: China, Han Chinese, People's Republic of China, East Asia, Taiwan, Chinese language, Central Asia, Confucianism


Most Chinese lithic industries dated between 300,000 and 40,000 are characterized by the absence of Levallois debitage, the persistence of core-and-flake knapping, the rarity of prepared cores, their reduction with direct hard hammer percussion, and the rarity of retouched flakes. Here we report the discovery of seven bone soft hammers at the early hominin Lingjing site (Xuchang County, Henan) dated to 125,000-105,000. These artefacts represent the first instance of the use of bone as raw material to modify stone tools found at an East Asian early Late Pleistocene site. Three types of soft hammers are identified. The first consists of large bone flakes resulting from butchery of large herbivores that were utilized as such for expedient stone tools retouching or resharpening. The second involved the fracture of weathered bone from medium size herbivores to obtain elongated splinters shaped by percussion into sub-rectangular artefacts. Traces observed on these objects indicate intensive and possibly recurrent utilization, which implies their curation over time. The last consists of antler, occasionally used. Lingjing bone tools complement what we know about archaic hominin cultural adaptations in East Asia and highlight behavioural consistencies that could not be inferred from other cultural proxies. This discovery provides a new dimension to the debate surrounding the existence of the Middle Palaeolithic in the region. The attribution of East Asian sites to the Middle Palaeolithic assumes that cultural traits such as the Levallois method represent evolutionary hallmarks applicable to regions of the world different from those in which they were originally found. Here, we promote an approach that consists in identifying, possibly from different categories of material culture, the original features of each regional cultural trajectory and understanding the behavioural and cognitive implications they may have had for past hominin populations.

Concepts: Culture, People's Republic of China, Asia, East Asia, Pleistocene, Paleolithic, Stone Age, Stone tool


Mitragynine is a major bioactive compound of Kratom, which is derived from the leave extracts of Mitragyna speciosa Korth or Mitragyna speciosa (M. speciosa), a medicinal plant from South East Asia used legally in many countries as stimulant with opioid-like effects for the treatment of chronic pain and opioid-withdrawal symptoms. Fatal incidents with Mitragynine have been associated with cardiac arrest. In this study, we determined the cardiotoxicity of Mitragynine and other chemical constituents isolated using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs).

Concepts: Southeast Asia, Asia, Induced pluripotent stem cell, East Asia, Alkaloid, Kratom, Mitragynine, Mitraphylline