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

Concept: Receiver operating characteristic


CCL11, a protein previously associated with age-associated cognitive decline, is observed to be increased in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) compared to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Using a cohort of 23 deceased American football players with neuropathologically verified CTE, 50 subjects with neuropathologically diagnosed AD, and 18 non-athlete controls, CCL11 was measured with ELISA in the dorsolateral frontal cortex (DLFC) and CSF. CCL11 levels were significantly increased in the DLFC in subjects with CTE (fold change = 1.234, p < 0.050) compared to non-athlete controls and AD subjects with out a history of head trauma. This increase was also seen to correlate with years of exposure to American football (β = 0.426, p = 0.048) independent of age (β = -0.046, p = 0.824). Preliminary analyses of a subset of subjects with available post-mortem CSF showed a trend for increased CCL11 among individuals with CTE (p = 0.069) mirroring the increase in the DLFC. Furthermore, an association between CSF CCL11 levels and the number of years exposed to football (β = 0.685, p = 0.040) was observed independent of age (β = -0.103, p = 0.716). Finally, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis demonstrated CSF CCL11 accurately distinguished CTE subjects from non-athlete controls and AD subjects (AUC = 0.839, 95% CI 0.62-1.058, p = 0.028). Overall, the current findings provide preliminary evidence that CCL11 may be a novel target for future CTE biomarker studies.

Concepts: Brain, Death, Cognition, Neurology, Dementia, Cerebrospinal fluid, Receiver operating characteristic, American football


BACKGROUND: An evidence-based steps/day translation of U.S. federal guidelines for youth to engage in >=60 minutes/day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) would help health researchers, practitioners, and lay professionals charged with increasing youth’s physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to determine the number of free-living steps/day (both raw and adjusted to a pedometer scale) that correctly classified children (6–11 years) and adolescents (12–17 years) as meeting the 60-minute MVPA guideline using the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) accelerometer data, and to evaluate the 12,000 steps/day recommendation recently adopted by the President’s Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program. METHODS: Analyses were conducted among children (n = 915) and adolescents (n = 1,302) in 2011 and 2012. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve plots and classification statistics revealed candidate steps/day cut points that discriminated meeting/not meeting the MVPA threshold by age group, gender and different accelerometer activity cut points. The Evenson and two Freedson age-specific (3 and 4 METs) cut points were used to define minimum MVPA, and optimal steps/day were examined for raw steps and adjusted to a pedometer-scale to facilitate translation to lay populations. RESULTS: For boys and girls (6–11 years) with >= 60 minutes/day of MVPA, a range of 11,500–13,500 uncensored steps/day for children was the optimal range that balanced classification errors. For adolescent boys and girls (12–17) with >=60 minutes/day of MVPA, 11,500–14,000 uncensored steps/day was optimal. Translation to a pedometer-scaling reduced these minimum values by 2,500 step/day to 9,000 steps/day. Area under the curve was >=84% in all analyses. CONCLUSIONS: No single study has definitively identified a precise and unyielding steps/day value for youth. Considering the other evidence to date, we propose a reasonable ‘rule of thumb’ value of >= 11,500 accelerometer-determined steps/day for both children and adolescents (and both genders), accepting that more is better. For practical applications, 9,000 steps/day appears to be a more pedometer-friendly value.

Concepts: Gender, Receiver operating characteristic, Statistical classification, Accelerometer


BACKGROUND: The symptom of tongue deviation is observed in a stroke or transient ischemic attack. Nevertheless, there is much room for the interpretation of the tongue deviation test. The crucial factor is the lack of an effective quantification method of tongue deviation. If we can quantify the features of the tongue deviation and scientifically verify the relationship between the deviation angle and a stroke, the information provided by the tongue will be helpful in recognizing a warning of a stroke. METHODS: In this study, a quantification method of the tongue deviation angle was proposed for the first time to characterize stroke patients. We captured the tongue images of stroke patients (15 males and 10 females, ranging between 55 and 82 years of age); transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients (16 males and 9 females, ranging between 53 and 79 years of age); and normal subjects (14 males and 11 females, ranging between 52 and 80 years of age) to analyze whether the method is effective. In addition, we used the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) for the sensitivity analysis, and determined the threshold value of the tongue deviation angle for the warning sign of a stroke. RESULTS: The means and standard deviations of the tongue deviation angles of the stroke, TIA, and normal groups were: 6.9 [PLUS-MINUS SIGN] 3.1, 4.9 [PLUS-MINUS SIGN] 2.1 and 1.4 [PLUS-MINUS SIGN] 0.8 degrees, respectively. Analyzed by the unpaired Student’s t-test, the p-value between the stroke group and the TIA group was 0.015 (>0.01), indicating no significant difference in the tongue deviation angle. The p-values between the stroke group and the normal group, as well as between the TIA group and the normal group were both less than 0.01. These results show the significant differences in the tongue deviation angle between the patient groups (stroke and TIA patients) and the normal group. These results also imply that the tongue deviation angle can effectively identify the patient group (stroke and TIA patients) and the normal group. With respect to the visual examination, 40% and 32% of stroke patients, 24% and 16% of TIA patients, and 4% and 0% of normal subjects were found to have tongue deviations when physicians “A” and “B” examined them. The variation showed the essentiality of the quantification method in a clinical setting. In the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC), the Area Under Curve (AUC, = 0.96) indicates good discrimination. The tongue deviation angle more than the optimum threshold value (= 3.2[DEGREE SIGN]) predicts a risk of stroke. CONCLUSIONS: In summary, we developed an effective quantification method to characterize the tongue deviation angle, and we confirmed the feasibility of recognizing the tongue deviation angle as an early warning sign of an impending stroke.

Concepts: Stroke, Transient ischemic attack, Statistical significance, Student's t-test, Group theory, Normal distribution, Standard deviation, Receiver operating characteristic


How reliable are results on spatial distribution of biodiversity based on databases? Many studies have evidenced the uncertainty related to this kind of analysis due to sampling effort bias and the need for its quantification. Despite that a number of methods are available for that, little is known about their statistical limitations and discrimination capability, which could seriously constrain their use. We assess for the first time the discrimination capacity of two widely used methods and a proposed new one (FIDEGAM), all based on species accumulation curves, under different scenarios of sampling exhaustiveness using Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analyses. Additionally, we examine to what extent the output of each method represents the sampling completeness in a simulated scenario where the true species richness is known. Finally, we apply FIDEGAM to a real situation and explore the spatial patterns of plant diversity in a National Park. FIDEGAM showed an excellent discrimination capability to distinguish between well and poorly sampled areas regardless of sampling exhaustiveness, whereas the other methods failed. Accordingly, FIDEGAM values were strongly correlated with the true percentage of species detected in a simulated scenario, whereas sampling completeness estimated with other methods showed no relationship due to null discrimination capability. Quantifying sampling effort is necessary to account for the uncertainty in biodiversity analyses, however, not all proposed methods are equally reliable. Our comparative analysis demonstrated that FIDEGAM was the most accurate discriminator method in all scenarios of sampling exhaustiveness, and therefore, it can be efficiently applied to most databases in order to enhance the reliability of biodiversity analyses.

Concepts: Scientific method, Critical thinking, Plant, Physics, Mathematical analysis, Logic, Receiver operating characteristic, Diversity index


Despite a large amount of microRNAs (miRNAs) have been validated to play crucial roles in human biology and disease, there is little systematic insight into the nature and scale of the potential synergistic interactions executed by miRNAs themselves. Here we established an integrated parameter synergy score to determine miRNA synergy, by combining the two mechanisms for miRNA-miRNA interactions, miRNA-mediated gene co-regulation and functional association between target gene products, into one single parameter. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis indicated that synergy score accurately identified the gene ontology-defined miRNA synergy (AUC = 0.9415, p<0.001). Only a very small portion of the random miRNA-miRNA combinations generated potent synergy, implying poor expectancy of widespread synergy. However, targeting more key genes made two miRNAs more likely to act synergistically. Compared to other miRNAs, miR-21 was a highly exceptional case due to frequent appearance in the top synergistic miRNA pairs. This result highlighted its essential role in coordinating or strengthening physiological and pathological functions of other miRNAs. The synergistic effect of miR-21 and miR-1 were functionally validated for their significant influences on myocardial apoptosis, cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. The novel approach established in this study enables easy and effective identification of condition-restricted potent miRNA synergy simply by concentrating the available protein interactomics and miRNA-target interaction data into a single parameter synergy score. Our results may be important for understanding synergistic gene regulation by miRNAs and may have significant implications for miRNA combination therapy of cardiovascular disease.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Biology, RNA, MicroRNA, Synergy, Receiver operating characteristic, Antagomir


In non-azoospermic patients with low semen volume (LSV), looking for partial retrograde ejaculation (PRE) by searching sperm in the postejaculatory urine (PEU) is required. The use of a retro-ejaculatory index (R-ratio) was suggested to define PRE, but none of the studies indicated a specific threshold above which PRE must be considered. Our objective was to propose a threshold value for the R-ratio as indicative of PRE in patients with LSV selected to be devoid of any known causes or risk factors for retrograde ejaculation or LSV. Among our data base (2000-2009) including 632 patients with PEU, 245 male patients from infertile couples who had had a first semen analysis with LSV (< 2mL) and a second semen analysis associated with PEU, were selected on the previous criteria. A prospective control group was randomly constituted (2007-2008) of 162 first consulting male patients from infertile couples, with a normal semen volume (≥ 2mL) on a first semen analysis and who accepted to collect PEU with their usual second semen analysis, selected on the previous criteria. To define an R-ratio threshold indicative of PRE, we used a ROC curve analysis and a regression tree based on a classification and regression tree (CART) algorithm. Of the 245 LSV patients, 146 still presented low semen volume (< 2 mL) on the second semen analysis. From the use of the CART algorithm, two low (1.5% and 2.8%) and two high R-values (7.1% and 8.3%) were defined, according to the lower reference limit for semen volume of 2.0 mL (WHO 1999) or 1.5 mL (WHO 2010) respectively. As only one or no patient with normal semen volume was observed above the two high R-values, we suggest an R-value higher than the range of [7.1-8.3]% as indicative of PRE until confirmation by a prospective multicenter study.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sperm, Semen, Receiver operating characteristic, Orgasm, Ejaculation, Retrograde ejaculation, Anejaculation


Earlier detection of colorectal cancer greatly improves prognosis, largely through surgical excision of neoplastic polyps. These include benign adenomas which can transform over time to malignant adenocarcinomas. This progression may be associated with changes in full blood count indices. An existing risk algorithm derived in Israel stratifies individuals according to colorectal cancer risk using full blood count data, but has not been validated in the UK. We undertook a retrospective analysis using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Patients aged over 40 with full blood count data were risk-stratified and followed up for a diagnosis of colorectal cancer over a range of time intervals. The primary outcome was the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the 18-24-month interval. We also undertook a case-control analysis (matching for age, sex, and year of risk score), and a cohort study of patients undergoing full blood count testing during 2012, to estimate predictive values. We included 2,550,119 patients. The area under the curve for the 18-24-month interval was 0.776 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.771, 0.781]. Performance improves as the time interval reduces. The area under the curve for the age-matched case-control analysis was 0.583 [0.574, 0.591]. For the population risk-scored in 2012, the positive predictive value at 99.5% specificity was 8.8% with negative predictive value 99.6%. The algorithm offers an additional means of identifying risk of colorectal cancer, and could support other approaches to early detection, including screening and active case finding.

Concepts: Cancer, Positive predictive value, Negative predictive value, Type I and type II errors, Colorectal cancer, Benign tumor, Receiver operating characteristic, Biostatistics


In this study, we aimed to examine the clinical value of the pleural effusion (PE) biomarkers, soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP), cytokeratin 19 fragment (CYFRA 21-1) and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and the utility of combining chest computed tomography (CT) findings with these biomarkers, in diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). We conducted a retrospective cohort study in a single center. Consecutive patients with undiagnosed pleural effusions who underwent PE analysis between September 2014 and August 2016 were reviewed. This study included 240 patients (32 with MPM and 208 non-MPM). SMRP and the CYFRA 21-1/CEA ratio had a sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing MPM of 56.3% and 86.5%, and 87.5% and 74.0%, respectively. Using receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis of the ability of these markers to distinguish MPM from all other PE causes, the area under the ROC curve (AUC) for SMRP and the CYFRA 21-1/CEA ratio was 0.804 and 0.874, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of SMRP combined with the CYFRA 21-1/CEA ratio were 93.8% and 64.9%, respectively. The sensitivity of the combination of SMRP, the CYFRA 21-1/CEA ratio, and the presence of Leung’s criteria (a chest CT finding that is suggestive of malignant pleural disease) was 93.8%. In conclusion, the combined PE biomarkers had a high sensitivity for diagnosing MPM, although the addition of chest CT findings did not improve the sensitivity of SMRP combined with the CYFRA 21-1/CEA ratio. Combination of these biomarkers helped to rule out MPM effectively among patients at high risk of suffering MPM and would be valuable especially for old frail patients who have difficulty in undergoing invasive procedures such as thoracoscopy.

Concepts: Cohort study, Sensitivity and specificity, Pleural effusion, Receiver operating characteristic, Binary classification


Purpose To determine if patient survival and mechanisms of right ventricular failure in pulmonary hypertension could be predicted by using supervised machine learning of three-dimensional patterns of systolic cardiac motion. Materials and Methods The study was approved by a research ethics committee, and participants gave written informed consent. Two hundred fifty-six patients (143 women; mean age ± standard deviation, 63 years ± 17) with newly diagnosed pulmonary hypertension underwent cardiac magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, right-sided heart catheterization, and 6-minute walk testing with a median follow-up of 4.0 years. Semiautomated segmentation of short-axis cine images was used to create a three-dimensional model of right ventricular motion. Supervised principal components analysis was used to identify patterns of systolic motion that were most strongly predictive of survival. Survival prediction was assessed by using difference in median survival time and area under the curve with time-dependent receiver operating characteristic analysis for 1-year survival. Results At the end of follow-up, 36% of patients (93 of 256) died, and one underwent lung transplantation. Poor outcome was predicted by a loss of effective contraction in the septum and free wall, coupled with reduced basal longitudinal motion. When added to conventional imaging and hemodynamic, functional, and clinical markers, three-dimensional cardiac motion improved survival prediction (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.73 vs 0.60, respectively; P < .001) and provided greater differentiation according to difference in median survival time between high- and low-risk groups (13.8 vs 10.7 years, respectively; P < .001). Conclusion A machine-learning survival model that uses three-dimensional cardiac motion predicts outcome independent of conventional risk factors in patients with newly diagnosed pulmonary hypertension. Online supplemental material is available for this article.

Concepts: Scientific method, Informed consent, Heart, Median, Prediction, Pulmonary artery, Standard deviation, Receiver operating characteristic


To facilitate clinical trials of disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, which are expected to be most efficacious at the earliest and mildest stages of the disease, supportive biomarker information is necessary. The only validated methods for identifying amyloid-β deposition in the brain-the earliest pathological signature of Alzheimer’s disease-are amyloid-β positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging or measurement of amyloid-β in cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, a minimally invasive, cost-effective blood-based biomarker is desirable. Despite much effort, to our knowledge, no study has validated the clinical utility of blood-based amyloid-β markers. Here we demonstrate the measurement of high-performance plasma amyloid-β biomarkers by immunoprecipitation coupled with mass spectrometry. The ability of amyloid-β precursor protein (APP)669-711/amyloid-β (Aβ)1-42 and Aβ1-40/Aβ1-42 ratios, and their composites, to predict individual brain amyloid-β-positive or -negative status was determined by amyloid-β-PET imaging and tested using two independent data sets: a discovery data set (Japan, n = 121) and a validation data set (Australia, n = 252 including 111 individuals diagnosed using 11C-labelled Pittsburgh compound-B (PIB)-PET and 141 using other ligands). Both data sets included cognitively normal individuals, individuals with mild cognitive impairment and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. All test biomarkers showed high performance when predicting brain amyloid-β burden. In particular, the composite biomarker showed very high areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs) in both data sets (discovery, 96.7%, n = 121 and validation, 94.1%, n = 111) with an accuracy approximately equal to 90% when using PIB-PET as a standard of truth. Furthermore, test biomarkers were correlated with amyloid-β-PET burden and levels of Aβ1-42 in cerebrospinal fluid. These results demonstrate the potential clinical utility of plasma biomarkers in predicting brain amyloid-β burden at an individual level. These plasma biomarkers also have cost-benefit and scalability advantages over current techniques, potentially enabling broader clinical access and efficient population screening.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Clinical trial, Positron emission tomography, Neuroimaging, Cerebrospinal fluid, Approximation, Receiver operating characteristic, Mild cognitive impairment