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

Journal: Journal of clinical medicine


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease, caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Recently, investigators have focused on the gut microbiota, which is thought to be an environmental agent affecting the development of RA. Here we review the evidence from animal and human studies that supports the role of the gut microbiota in RA. We and others have demonstrated that the abundance of Prevotella copri is increased in some early RA. We have also used gnotobiotic experiments to show that dysbiosis in RA patients contributed to the development of Th17 cell-dependent arthritis in intestinal microbiota-humanized SKG mice. On the other hand, Prevotella histicola from human gut microbiota suppressed the development of arthritis. In summary, Prevotella species are involved in the pathogenesis of arthritis.

Concepts: Human, Autoimmunity, Systemic autoimmune diseases, Bacteria, Gut flora, Immune system, Rheumatology, Rheumatoid arthritis


Arterial Blood Pressure (ABP) and photoplethysmography (PPG) are both useful techniques to monitor cardiovascular status. Though ABP monitoring is more widely employed, this procedure of signal acquisition whether done invasively or non-invasively may cause inconvenience and discomfort to the patients. PPG, however, is simple, noninvasive, and can be used for continuous measurement. This paper focuses on analyzing the similarities in time and frequency domains between ABP and PPG signals for normotensive, prehypertensive and hypertensive subjects and the feasibility of the classification of subjects considering the results of the analysis performed. From a database with 120 records of ABP and PPG, each 120 s in length, the records where separated into epochs taking into account 10 heartbeats, and the following statistical measures were performed: Correlation ®, Coherence (COH), Partial Coherence (pCOH), Partial Directed Coherence (PDC), Directed Transfer Function (DTF), Full Frequency Directed Transfer Function (ffDTF) and Direct Directed Transfer Function (dDTF). The correlation coefficient was r > 0.9 on average for all groups, indicating a strong morphology similarity. For COH and pCOH, coherence (linear correlation in frequency domain) was found with significance (p < 0.01) in differentiating between normotensive and hypertensive subjects using PPG signals. For the dataset at hand, only two synchrony measures are able to convincingly distinguish hypertensive subjects from normotensive control subjects, i.e., ffDTF and dDTF. From PDC, DTF, ffDTF, and dDTF, a consistent, a strong significant causality from ABP→PPG was found. When all synchrony measures were combined, an 87.5 % accuracy was achieved to detect hypertension using a Neural Network classifier, suggesting that PPG holds most informative features that exist in ABP.


Sperm cryopreservation has been utilized routinely for over 40 years to preserve fertility in men undergoing cancer therapy and allow conception for infertile couples. This article provides a concise and up-to-date review of the literature and covers the latest advances in sperm cryopreservation and its array of clinical indications. Over recent years, the scope of clinical indications used for sperm cryopreservation has expanded widely. Consequently, more patient groups are eligible for sperm freezing, requiring specialist resources and higher running costs. Although sperm cryopreservation prior to cancer therapy is readily available in many countries, referral rates by oncology specialists and levels of patient engagement with cryopreservation services are both reported as low. Furthermore, sperm banking continues to raise ethical issues such whether sperm donation should be anonymous and whether sperm can be utilized posthumously by the surviving partner without consent from the patient. This review focuses on the technological advances and ethical controversies in sperm cryopreservation, and how better understanding of these issues could lead to improved access to fertility preserving treatment for patients.

Concepts: Sperm, Technology, Patience, Ethics, Philosophy, Spermatozoon, Patient, Fertility


Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress have been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of diseases and conditions. Oxidative stress occurs once the antioxidant defenses of the body become overwhelmed and are no longer able to detoxify reactive oxygen species (ROS). The ROS can then go unchallenged and are able to cause oxidative damage to cellular lipids, DNA and proteins, which will eventually result in cellular and organ dysfunction. Although not always the primary cause of disease, mitochondrial dysfunction as a secondary consequence disease of pathophysiology can result in increased ROS generation together with an impairment in cellular energy status. Mitochondrial dysfunction may result from either free radical-induced oxidative damage or direct impairment by the toxic metabolites which accumulate in certain metabolic diseases. In view of the importance of cellular antioxidant status, a number of therapeutic strategies have been employed in disorders associated with oxidative stress with a view to neutralising the ROS and reactive nitrogen species implicated in disease pathophysiology. Although successful in some cases, these adjunct therapies have yet to be incorporated into the clinical management of patients. The purpose of this review is to highlight the emerging evidence of oxidative stress, secondary mitochondrial dysfunction and antioxidant treatment efficacy in metabolic and non-metabolic diseases in which there is a current interest in these parameters.

Concepts: Electron transport chain, Hydrogen peroxide, Mitochondrion, Oxidative stress, Antioxidant, Metabolism, Reactive oxygen species, Oxidative phosphorylation


Background: Despite known health benefits of spiritual care and high patient interest in discussing spirituality with their physicians, the frequency of spiritual discussions in the medical consultation is low. We investigated spiritual conversations for doctors caring for patients with advanced cancer; why these conversations so difficult; and what the underlying challenges are for discussing spirituality with patients; Methods: Participants were contacted through the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine and the Medical Oncology Group of Australia, including physicians from two secular countries. Semi-structured interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim. The text was analyzed using thematic analysis; Results: Thematic saturation was reached after 23 participants had been interviewed. The following themes were identified: (1) confusing spirituality with religion; (2) peer pressure; (3) personal spirituality; (4) institutional factors; (5) historical factors; Conclusion: This study explored the underlying attitudes contributing to the reluctance doctors have to discuss spirituality in the medical consultation. Underlying confusion regarding the differences between religion and spirituality, and the current suspicion with which religion is regarded in medicine needs to be addressed if discussion of spirituality in the medical consultation is to become routine. Historical opposition to a biopsychosocial-spiritual model of the human being is problematic.

Concepts: Specialty, Debate, Palliative care, Cancer, Spirituality, Medicine, Physician, Oncology


Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) that targets infants and children can place them at grave risk. Our plan is to review some of the major cases of CAM used by parents, and by unlicensed and even licensed health professionals. Complications from CAM are rarely the focus of regulatory bodies, or even the courts. Even regulated health professionals, who have profited by misrepresenting science-based evidence for treatment or prevention of disease, have been rarely sanctioned by their respective Boards or Colleges. This must change. In addition, there is a dire need for regulators, including the governments, who allow quack products and devices to be marketed in their respective countries, to prosecute them. Existing regulations must be coupled with more effective enforcement. Some of these cases have had a direct connection to me personally, while others are examples of just plain dangerous quackery.


Treatment for mitochondrial dysfunction is typically guided by expert opinion with a paucity of empirical evidence of the effect of treatment on mitochondrial activity. We examined citrate synthase and Complex I and IV activities using a validated buccal swab method in 127 children with autism spectrum disorder with and without mitochondrial disease, a portion of which were on common mitochondrial supplements. Mixed-model linear regression determined whether specific supplements altered the absolute mitochondrial activity as well as the relationship between the activities of mitochondrial components. Complex I activity was increased by fatty acid and folate supplementation, but folate only effected those with mitochondrial disease. Citrate synthase activity was increased by antioxidant supplementation but only for the mitochondrial disease subgroup. The relationship between Complex I and IV was modulated by folate while the relationship between Complex I and Citrate Synthase was modulated by both folate and B12. This study provides empirical support for common mitochondrial treatments and demonstrates that the relationship between activities of mitochondrial components might be a marker to follow in addition to absolute activities. Measurements of mitochondrial activity that can be practically repeated over time may be very useful to monitor the biochemical effects of treatments.

Concepts: Asperger syndrome, Citrate synthase, Pervasive developmental disorder, Empirical research, Autism, Effect, Autism spectrum, Mitochondrion


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic lung disease that manifests in hypoxemia, inactivity, and poor prognosis. This study aimed to assess the prognostic role of physical activity (PA) and exertional desaturation (ED) with mortality in IPF. At baseline, 34 IPF patients (68 (50-81) years) were interviewed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), and SpO₂ was assessed pre to post 6-min walking test (∆SpO₂). Patients were prospectively followed up for 40 months. Receiver operating characteristics curve analysis determined cut-off points associated with mortality, and Cox proportional hazard ratio (HR) were conducted. Thresholds for increased mortality risk in IPF patients were determined as IPAQ ≤ 417 metabolic equivalent task (METS)-min/week, p = 0.004 (HR; 9.7, CI 95% (1.3-71.9), p = 0.027), and ∆SpO₂ ≥ 10%, p = 0.002, (HR; 23.3, CI 95% (1.5-365), p = 0.025). This study demonstrated a significant association of PA and ED with mortality in IPF patients. The findings emphasize the clinical importance of PA and ED assessments to aid in IPF risk stratification, prognosis prediction, and in providing early appropriate treatments, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, PA consultation, oxygen supplementation, and lung transplantation referral. These results underscore that even low levels of PA corresponding to 100-105 min/week were associated with a reduced mortality risk and better survival in IPF.

Concepts: Receiver operating characteristic, Assessment, Pulmonology, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


The prolongation of the QT interval is a relatively rare but serious adverse drug reaction. It can lead to torsade de pointes, which is potentially life-threatening. The study’s objectives were: determine the use of QT interval-prolonging drugs in an elderly community-dwelling population at risk of medication misadventure and identify recommendations regarding the risk of QT interval prolongation made by pharmacists when performing medication reviews. In a retrospective evaluation, 500 medication review reports from Australian pharmacists were analysed. In patients taking at least one QT interval-prolonging drug, the individual risk of drug-induced QT interval prolongation was assessed. Recommendations of pharmacists to avoid the occurrence of this drug-related problem were examined. There was a high prevalence of use of potentially QT interval-prolonging drugs (71% patients), with 11% of patients taking at least one drug with a known risk. Pharmacists provided specific recommendations in only eight out of 35 patients (23%) with a high-risk score and taking drugs with known risk of QT interval prolongation. Pharmacists' recommendations, when present, were focused on drugs with known risk of QT interval prolongation, rather than patients' additional risk factors. There is a need to improve knowledge and awareness of this topic among pharmacists performing medication reviews.


Alternative models of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) delivery, such as home or community-based programs, have been developed to overcome underutilization. However, their availability and characteristics have never been assessed globally. In this cross-sectional study, a piloted survey was administered online to CR programs globally. CR was available in 111/203 (54.7%) countries globally; data were collected in 93 (83.8% country response rate). 1082 surveys (32.1% program response rate) were initiated. Globally, 85 (76.6%) countries with CR offered supervised programs, and 51 (45.9%; or 25.1% of all countries) offered some alternative model. Thirty-eight (34.2%) countries with CR offered home-based programs, with 106 (63.9%) programs offering some form of electronic CR (eCR). Twenty-five (22.5%) countries with CR offered community-based programs. Where available, programs served a mean of 21.4% ± 22.8% of their patients in home-based programs. The median dose for home-based CR was 3 sessions (Q25-Q75 = 1.0⁻4.0) and for community-based programs was 20 (Q25⁻Q75 = 9.6⁻36.0). Seventy-eight (47.0%) respondents did not perceive they had sufficient capacity to meet demand in their home-based program, for reasons including funding and insufficient staff. Where alternative CR models are offered, capacity is insufficient half the time. Home-based CR dose is insufficient to achieve health benefits. Allocation to program model should be evidence-based.