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Journal: Wellcome open research


Background: Skeletal muscle is central to whole body metabolic homeostasis, with age and disease impairing its ability to function appropriately to maintain health. Inadequate NAD + availability is proposed to contribute to pathophysiology by impairing metabolic energy pathway use. Despite the importance of NAD + as a vital redox cofactor in energy production pathways being well-established, the wider impact of disrupted NAD + homeostasis on these pathways is unknown. Methods: We utilised skeletal muscle myotube models to induce NAD + depletion, repletion and excess and conducted metabolic tracing to provide comprehensive and detailed analysis of the consequences of altered NAD + metabolism on central carbon metabolic pathways. We used stable isotope tracers, [1,2-13C] D-glucose and [U- 13C] glutamine, and conducted combined 2D-1H,13C-heteronuclear single quantum coherence (HSQC) NMR spectroscopy and GC-MS analysis. Results: NAD + excess driven by nicotinamide riboside (NR) supplementation within skeletal muscle cells resulted in enhanced nicotinamide clearance, but had no effect on energy homeostasis or central carbon metabolism. Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) inhibition induced NAD + depletion and resulted in equilibration of metabolites upstream of glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH). Aspartate production through glycolysis and TCA cycle activity was increased in response to low NAD +, which was rapidly reversed with repletion of the NAD + pool using NR. NAD + depletion reversibly inhibits cytosolic GAPDH activity, but retains mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, suggesting differential effects of this treatment on sub-cellular pyridine pools. When supplemented, NR efficiently reversed these metabolic consequences. However, the functional relevance of increased aspartate levels after NAD + depletion remains unclear, and requires further investigation. Conclusions: These data highlight the need to consider carbon metabolism and clearance pathways when investigating NAD + precursor usage in models of skeletal muscle physiology.


Changing behaviour is necessary to address many of the threats facing human populations.  However, identifying behaviour change interventions likely to be effective in particular contexts as a basis for improving them presents a major challenge. The Human Behaviour-Change Project harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and behavioural science to organise global evidence about behaviour change to predict outcomes in common and unknown behaviour change scenarios.


Background: Comparing recidivism rates between countries may provide useful information about the relative effectiveness of different criminal justice policies. A previous 2015 review identified criminal recidivism data for 18 countries and found little consistency in outcome definitions and time periods. We aimed to update recidivism rates in prisoners internationally. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of criminal recidivism rates in prisoners and followed PRISMA guidelines. Using five bibliographic indexes, we carried out non-country-specific and targeted searches for 50 countries with the largest total prison populations. We included reports and studies of released prisoners that reported re-arrest, reconviction and reincarceration rates. Meta-analysis was not possible due to multiple sources of heterogeneity. Results: We identified criminal recidivism information for 23 countries. Of the 50 countries with the largest prison populations, 10 reported recidivism rates for prisoners. The most commonly reported outcome was the 2-year reconviction rate. We were able to examine reconviction between different time periods for 11 countries and found that most reported small changes in official recidivism rates. Overall, for 2-year follow-up period, reported re-arrest rates were between 26% and 60%, reconviction rates ranged from 20% to 63%, and reimprisonment rates varied from 14 to 45%. Conclusions: Although some countries have made efforts to improve reporting, recidivism rates are not comparable between countries. Criminal justice agencies should consider using reporting guidelines described here to update their data.


Background: Relative blood flow in the two middle cerebral arteries can be measured using functional transcranial Doppler sonography (fTCD) to give an index of lateralisation as participants perform a specific task. Language laterality has mostly been studied with fTCD using a word generation task, but it is not clear whether this is optimal. Methods: Using fTCD, we evaluated a sentence generation task that has shown good reliability and strong left lateralisation in fMRI. We interleaved trials of word generation, sentence generation and list generation and assessed agreement of these tasks in 31 participants (29 right-handers). Results: Although word generation and sentence generation both gave robust left-lateralisation, Bland-Altman analysis showed that these two methods were not equivalent. The comparison list generation task was not systematically lateralised, but nevertheless laterality indices (LIs) from this task were significantly correlated with the other two tasks. Subtracting list generation LI from sentence generation LI did not affect the strength of the laterality index. Conclusions: This was a pre-registered methodological study designed to explore novel approaches to optimising measurement of language lateralisation using fTCD. It confirmed that sentence generation gives robust left lateralisation in most people, but is not equivalent to the classic word generation task. Although list generation does not show left-lateralisation at the group level, the LI on this task was correlated with left-lateralised tasks. This suggests that word and sentence generation involve adding a constant directional bias to an underlying continuum of laterality that is reliable in individuals but not biased in either direction. In future research we suggest that consistency of laterality across tasks might have more functional significance than strength or direction of laterality on any one task.


Background: Anaemia is a major public health concern especially in African children living in malaria-endemic regions. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) is elevated during malaria infection and is thought to influence erythropoiesis and iron status. Genetic variants in the IFN-γ gene (IFNG) are associated with increased IFN-γ production. We investigated putative functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes of IFNG in relation to nutritional iron status and anaemia in Gambian children over a malaria season. Methods: We used previously available data from Gambian family trios to determine informative SNPs and then used the Agena Bioscience MassArray platform to type five SNPs from the IFNG gene in a cohort of 780 Gambian children aged 2-6 years. We also measured haemoglobin and biomarkers of iron status and inflammation at the start and end of a malaria season. Results: We identified five IFNG haplotype-tagging SNPs ( IFNG-1616 [rs2069705], IFNG+874 [rs2430561], IFNG+2200 [rs1861493], IFNG+3234 [rs2069718] and IFNG+5612 [rs2069728]). The IFNG+2200C [rs1861493] allele was associated with reduced haemoglobin concentrations (adjusted β -0.44 [95% CI -0.75, -0.12]; Bonferroni adjusted P = 0.03) and a trend towards iron deficiency compared to wild-type at the end of the malaria season in multivariable models adjusted for potential confounders. A haplotype uniquely identified by IFNG+2200C was similarly associated with reduced haemoglobin levels and trends towards iron deficiency, anaemia and iron deficiency anaemia at the end of the malaria season in models adjusted for age, sex, village, inflammation and malaria parasitaemia. Conclusion: We found limited statistical evidence linking IFNG polymorphisms with a risk of developing iron deficiency and anaemia in Gambian children. More definitive studies are needed to investigate the effects of genetically influenced IFN-γ levels on the risk of iron deficiency and anaemia in children living in malaria-endemic areas.


Background: Recent studies suggest that an extra sex chromosome increases the risk of both autism and social anxiety, but it unclear whether these risks are specific to particular karyotypes. Methods: We considered diagnostic data from an online psychiatric assessment (DAWBA - The Development and Well-Being Assessment) and questionnaire responses completed by parents of children with 47,XXX (N = 29), 47,XXY (N = 28) and 47,XYY (N = 32) karyotypes. Analysis focused mainly on 54 children who were diagnosed prenatally or on the basis of other medical concerns in childhood (Low Bias subgroup), to minimise ascertainment bias. Results: Children with symptoms of autism who fell short of meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-IV criteria were coded as cases of Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS). The odds ratio of autism or PDDNOS in the Low Bias group was computed relative to gender-specific population norms. This gave log odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 5.56 (4.25 - 6.88) for XXX girls; 4.00 (2.66 - 5.33) for XXY boys; and 4.60 (3.46 - 5.74) for XYY boys. Despite this elevated risk, most children had no autistic features. A diagnosis of DSM-IV Social Phobia was rare, though, in line with prediction, all three Low Bias cases with this diagnosis had 47,XXY karyotype. All three trisomy groups showed increased risk of milder symptoms of social anxiety. Conclusions: An increased risk of autism was found in girls with 47,XXX karyotype, as well as in boys with 47,XXY or 47,XYY. Symptoms of social anxiety were increased in all three karyotypes. There was wide variation in psychiatric status of children with the same karyotype, suggesting that an extra sex chromosome affects developmental stability in a non-specific way, with a diverse range of possible phenotypes.


Background: Radon (and its decay products) is a known human carcinogen and the leading cause of lung cancer in never-smokers and the second in ever-smokers. The carcinogenic mechanism from radiation is a combination of genetic and epigenetic processes, but compared to the genetic mechanisms, epigenetic processes remain understudied in humans. This study aimed to explore associations between residential radon exposure and DNA methylation in the general population. Methods: Potential residential radon exposure for 75-metre area buffers was linked to genome-wide DNA methylation measured in peripheral blood from children and mothers of the Accessible Resource for Integrated Epigenomic Studies subsample of the ALSPAC birth cohort. Associations with DNA methylation were tested at over 450,000 CpG sites at ages 0, 7 and 17 years (children) and antenatally and during middle-age (mothers). Analyses were adjusted for potential residential and lifestyle confounding factors and were determined for participants with complete data (n = 786 to 980). Results: Average potential exposure to radon was associated in an exposure-dependent manner with methylation at cg25422346 in mothers during pregnancy, with no associations at middle age. For children, radon potential exposure was associated in an exposure-dependent manner with methylation of cg16451995 at birth, cg01864468 at age 7, and cg04912984, cg16105117, cg23988964, cg04945076, cg08601898, cg16260355 and cg26056703 in adolescence. Conclusions: Residential radon exposure was associated with DNA methylation in an exposure-dependent manner. Although chance and residual confounding cannot be excluded, the identified associations may show biological mechanisms involved in early biological effects from radon exposure.


Background: Mosquito-borne flaviviruses, such as dengue and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), cause life-threatening diseases, particularly in the tropics. Methods: Here we performed unbiased metagenomic sequencing of RNA extracted from the serum of four patients and the plasma of one patient, all hospitalized at a tertiary care centre in South India with severe or prolonged febrile illness, together with the serum from one healthy control, in 2014. Results: We identified and assembled a complete dengue virus type 3 sequence from a case of severe dengue fever. We also identified a small number of JEV sequences in the serum of two adults with febrile illness, including one with severe dengue. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the dengue sequence belonged to genotype III. It has an estimated divergence time of 13.86 years from the most highly related Indian strains. In total, 11 amino acid substitutions were predicted for this strain in the antigenic envelope protein, when compared to the parent strain used for development of the first commercial dengue vaccine.  Conclusions: We demonstrate that both genome assembly and detection of a low number of viral sequences are possible through the unbiased sequencing of clinical material. These methods may help ascertain causal agents for febrile illnesses with no known cause.


Agricultural intensification is a well-known driver of biodiversity loss. Crop diversity and its changes over space and time drive land use intensity and impact biodiversity of agricultural landscapes, while meeting the growing demand for human food and nutrition resources. Loss of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes reduces primary productivity and soil health and erodes a range of other ecosystem services. At present, while having partial understanding of many processes, we lack a general synthesis of our knowledge of the links between crop diversity and biodiversity. We will therefore conduct a systematic review by searching multiple agriculture, ecology and environmental science databases (e.g. Web of Science, Geobase, Agris, AGRICOLA, GreenFILE) to identify studies reporting the impacts of crop diversity and crop type on the biological diversity of fauna and flora in agricultural landscapes. Response variables will include metrics of species richness, abundance, assemblage, community composition and species rarity. Screening, data coding and data extraction will be carried out by one researcher and a subset will be independently carried out by a second researcher for quality control. Study quality and risk of bias will be assessed. Evidence will first be mapped to species/taxa then assessed for further narrative or statistical synthesis based on comparability of results and likely robustness. Gaps in the evidence base will also be identified with a view toward future research and policy directions for nutrition, food systems and ecology.


Background: The dystrophin gene has multiple isoforms: full-length dystrophin (dp427) is principally known for its expression in skeletal and cardiac muscle, but is also expressed in the brain, and several internal promoters give rise to shorter, N-terminally truncated isoforms with wider tissue expression patterns (dp260 in the retina, dp140 in the brain and dp71 in many tissues). These isoforms are believed to play unique cellular roles both during embryogenesis and in adulthood, but their shared sequence identity at both mRNA and protein levels makes study of distinct isoforms challenging by conventional methods. Methods: RNAscope is a novel in-situ hybridisation technique that offers single-transcript resolution and the ability to multiplex, with different target sequences assigned to distinct fluorophores. Using probes designed to different regions of the dystrophin transcript (targeting 5', central and 3' sequences of the long dp427 mRNA), we can simultaneously detect and distinguish multiple dystrophin mRNA isoforms at sub-cellular histological levels. We have used these probes in healthy and dystrophic canine embryos to gain unique insights into isoform expression and distribution in the developing mammal. Results: Dp427 is found in developing muscle as expected, apparently enriched at nascent myotendinous junctions. Endothelial and epithelial surfaces express dp71 only. Within the brain and spinal cord, all three isoforms are expressed in spatially distinct regions: dp71 predominates within proliferating germinal layer cells, dp140 within maturing, migrating cells and dp427 appears within more established cell populations. Dystrophin is also found within developing bones and teeth, something previously unreported, and our data suggests orchestrated involvement of multiple isoforms in formation of these tissues. Conclusions: Overall, shorter isoforms appear associated with proliferation and migration, and longer isoforms with terminal lineage commitment: we discuss the distinct structural contributions and transcriptional demands suggested by these findings.