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Special Issue "Proceedings of the 2019 Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program National Conference"

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Elizabeth O. Ofili
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Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Emma Fernandez-Repollet
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dr. Richard J. Noel
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Guest Editor
Department of Basic Sciences, Ponce Health Sciences University, 395 Industrial Reparada, Ponce, PR 00716, USA
Prof. Dr. Daniel F. Sarpong
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Guest Editor
Center for Minority Health & Health Disparities Research & Education, College of Pharmacy, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA 70125, USA
Interests: public exposome; built environment; health disparities; statistical modeling; epidemiological studies; chronic diseases; infectious diseases; social determinants; biological determinants
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Magda Shaheen
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Guest Editor
Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, 1731 E. 120th Street, Cobb Building, Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA
Prof. Dr. Paul B. Tchounwou
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Guest Editor
Department of Biology, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Jackson State University, 1400 Lynch Street, Box 18750, Jackson, MS 39217, USA
Interests: environmental health and diseases; gene-environment interactions; environmental toxicology, mutagenesis and carcinogenesis; environmental epidemiology and disease control; health risk assessment and management; ecological risk assessment and management; environmental chemistry and computational toxicology; environmental genomics and proteomics; environmental medicine; and natural resources damage assessment and management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Kristen J. Wells
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Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 6363 Alvarado Court Suite 103, San Diego, CA 92120, USA
Prof. Dr. Richard Yanagihara
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Guest Editor
Department of Pediatrics, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 651 Ilalo Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) for the publication of the Proceedings of the 2019 Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program National Conference, which was held on December 15–17, 2019 at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. IJERPH is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://0-www-mdpi-com.brum.beds.ac.uk/journal/ijerph.

Building on the successes of previous RCMI national and international symposia on health disparities, the 2019 RCMI Program National Conference highlighted the importance of basic, clinical, and population science collaborations to address minority health and health disparities. Hence, the overarching goal of the conference was to advance the science of minority health and health disparities through development and implementation of collaborative solutions to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

The conference participants, including biomedical scientists, health care practitioners, trainees, clinicians, pharmacists, nurses and other allied health care professionals, and community and industry partners, discussed and developed research strategies for and approaches to eliminating health disparities. They also examined career development opportunities and discussed the best methods for and approaches to training the next generation of biomedical scientists and clinical researchers, as well as to engage community partners and industry collaborations.

Focusing on basic biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research, the conference abstracts addressed several key areas including: Basic and Applied Minority and Health Disparities Research; Behavioral and Social Determinants of Health; Capacity Building in Health Disparities Research; Clinical and Translational Minority Health and Health Disparity Research; Community-Based Participatory Research; Data Science/Big Data Applications to Health Sciences; Health and Health Care Policy Research; Health-Related Technologies; and Research in Special Population Sub-Groups. Hence, several important topics were covered, including:

  • Behavioral and social sciences;
  • Biomedical informatics and computational biology;
  • Cancer health disparities research;
  • Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease;
  • Women, child, and adolescent health;
  • Clinical and translational science;
  • Cellular and molecular biology of human diseases;
  • Complementary and alternative medicine;
  • Environmental health and toxicology;
  • Health literacy and health information technology;
  • HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases;
  • Nanoscience and nanotechnology;
  • Neuroscience and mental health disorders; and
  • Public health sciences.

 

The plenary sessions, workshops, oral and poster presentations, and concurrent sessions highlighted the best science across the RCMI consortium. The workshops focused on identifying best practices in investigator development, multi-disciplinary research, community engagement, program administration, and program evaluation, as well as National Institutes of Health (NIH) priorities in data science.

This Special Issue aims to showcase the excellence in research and scientific discoveries on the above-listed topics. Submission of full manuscripts of original research, comprehensive reviews, and/or short communications on any of these topics presented at the conference is strongly encouraged. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript, please go online at www.ijerph.com to register and submit your manuscript by the 15 November 2020 deadline. Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere. All manuscripts will be thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process.

Prof. Dr. Elizabeth O. Ofili
Prof. Dr. Emma Fernández-Repollet
Prof. Dr.  Richard J. Noel, Jr.
Prof. Dr. Daniel Sarpong
Prof. Dr. Magda Shaheen
Prof. Dr. Paul B. Tchounwou
Prof. Dr. Kristen J. Wells
Prof. Dr. Richard Yanagihara
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (24 papers)

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Research

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Article
The Genomic Landscape of a Restricted ALL Cohort from Patients Residing on the U.S./Mexico Border
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7345; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147345 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 717
Abstract
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has identified unique biomarkers yielding new strategies in precision medicine for the treatment of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Hispanics show marked health disparities in ALL, often absent in clinical trials or cancer research. Thus, it is unknown whether Hispanics would [...] Read more.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has identified unique biomarkers yielding new strategies in precision medicine for the treatment of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Hispanics show marked health disparities in ALL, often absent in clinical trials or cancer research. Thus, it is unknown whether Hispanics would benefit equally from curated data currently guiding precision oncology. Using whole-exome sequencing, nine ALL patients were screened for mutations within genes known to possess diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic value. Genes mutated in Hispanic ALL patients from the borderland were mined for potentially pathogenic variants within clinically relevant genes. KRAS G12A was detected in this unique cohort and its frequency in Hispanics from the TARGET-ALL Phase II database was three-fold greater than that of non-Hispanics. STAT5B N642H was also detected with low frequency in Hispanic and non-Hispanic individuals within TARGET. Its detection within this small cohort may reflect a common event in this demographic. Such variants occurring in the MAPK and JAK/STAT pathways may be contributing to Hispanic health disparities in ALL. Notable variants in ROS1, WT1, and NOTCH2 were observed in the ALL borderland cohort, with NOTCH2 C19W occurring most frequently. Further investigations on the pathogenicity of these variants are needed to assess their relevance in ALL. Full article
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Article
The Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Consortium: A Blueprint for Inclusive Excellence
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6848; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18136848 - 25 Jun 2021
Viewed by 889
Abstract
The Research Centers in Minority Institutions, (RCMI) Program was established by Congress to address the health research and training needs of minority populations, by preparing future generations of scientists at these institutions, with a track record of producing minority scholars in medicine, science, [...] Read more.
The Research Centers in Minority Institutions, (RCMI) Program was established by Congress to address the health research and training needs of minority populations, by preparing future generations of scientists at these institutions, with a track record of producing minority scholars in medicine, science, and technology. The RCMI Consortium consists of the RCMI Specialized Centers and a Coordinating Center (CC). The RCMI-CC leverages the scientific expertise, technologies, and innovations of RCMI Centers to accelerate the delivery of solutions to address health disparities in communities that are most impacted. There is increasing recognition that the gap in representation of racial/ethnic groups and women is perpetuated by institutional cultures lacking inclusion and equity. The objective of this work is to provide a framework for inclusive excellence by developing a systematic evaluation process with common data elements that can track the inter-linked goals of workforce diversity and health equity. At its core, the RCMI Program embodies the trinity of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We propose a realist evaluation framework and a logic model that integrates the institutional context to develop common data metrics for inclusive excellence. The RCMI-CC will collaborate with NIH-funded institutions and research consortia to disseminate and scale this model. Full article
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Article
Community Engagement Practices at Research Centers in U.S. Minority Institutions: Priority Populations and Innovative Approaches to Advancing Health Disparities Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6675; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18126675 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1101
Abstract
This paper details U.S. Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Community Engagement Cores (CECs): (1) unique and cross-cutting components, focus areas, specific aims, and target populations; and (2) approaches utilized to build or sustain trust towards community participation in research. A mixed-method data [...] Read more.
This paper details U.S. Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Community Engagement Cores (CECs): (1) unique and cross-cutting components, focus areas, specific aims, and target populations; and (2) approaches utilized to build or sustain trust towards community participation in research. A mixed-method data collection approach was employed for this cross-sectional study of current or previously funded RCMIs. A total of 18 of the 25 institutions spanning 13 U.S. states and territories participated. CEC specific aims were to support community engaged research (94%); to translate and disseminate research findings (88%); to develop partnerships (82%); and to build capacity around community research (71%). Four open-ended questions, qualitative analysis, and comparison of the categories led to the emergence of two supporting themes: (1) establishing trust between the community-academic collaborators and within the community and (2) building collaborative relationships. An overarching theme, building community together through trust and meaningful collaborations, emerged from the supporting themes and subthemes. The RCMI institutions and their CECs serve as models to circumvent the historical and current challenges to research in communities disproportionately affected by health disparities. Lessons learned from these cores may help other institutions who want to build community trust in and capacities for research that addresses community-related health concerns. Full article
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Article
Analysis of Estrogenic Activity in Maryland Coastal Bays Using the MCF-7 Cell Proliferation Assay
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6254; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18126254 - 09 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 772
Abstract
Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) with estrogenic or estrogenic-like activity have been increasingly detected in aquatic environments and have been an issue of global concern due to their potential negative effects on wildlife and human health. This study used the MCF-7 cell proliferation [...] Read more.
Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) with estrogenic or estrogenic-like activity have been increasingly detected in aquatic environments and have been an issue of global concern due to their potential negative effects on wildlife and human health. This study used the MCF-7 cell proliferation assay (E-Screen) to assess the estrogenic activity profiles in Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs), a eutrophic system of estuaries impacted by human activities. Estrogenic activity was observed in all study sites tested. Water samples from MCBs increased MCF-7 cell proliferation above the negative control from 2.1-fold at site 8, located in Sinepuxent Bay close to the Ocean City Inlet, to 6.3-fold at site 6, located in Newport Bay. The proliferative effects of the sediment samples over the negative control ranged from 1.9-fold at the Assateague Island National Seashore site to 7.7-fold at the Public Landing site. Moreover, elevated cell proliferation (p < 0.05) was observed when cells were co-exposed with 17ß-Estradiol (E2), while reduction in cell proliferation was observed when cells were co-exposed with the antagonist ICI 182, 780 suggesting that cell proliferative effects were primarily mediated by the estrogen receptor (ER). These results suggest the occurrence of some estrogenic or hormonal-like compounds in the MCBs and are consistent with our previous findings based on vitellogenin analyses. Full article
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Article
Identification of Hub Genes in Different Stages of Colorectal Cancer through an Integrated Bioinformatics Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5564; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18115564 - 23 May 2021
Viewed by 918
Abstract
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer that contributes to cancer-related morbidity. However, the differential expression of genes in different phases of CRC is largely unknown. Moreover, very little is known about the role of stress-survival pathways in CRC. We sought [...] Read more.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer that contributes to cancer-related morbidity. However, the differential expression of genes in different phases of CRC is largely unknown. Moreover, very little is known about the role of stress-survival pathways in CRC. We sought to discover the hub genes and identify their roles in several key pathways, including oxidative stress and apoptosis in the different stages of CRC. To identify the hub genes that may be involved in the different stages of CRC, gene expression datasets were obtained from the gene expression omnibus (GEO) database. The differentially expressed genes (DEGs) common among the different datasets for each group were obtained using the robust rank aggregation method. Then, gene enrichment analysis was carried out with Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes databases. Finally, the protein-protein interaction networks were constructed using the Cytoscape software. We identified 40 hub genes and performed enrichment analysis for each group. We also used the Oncomine database to identify the DEGs related to stress-survival and apoptosis pathways involved in different stages of CRC. In conclusion, the hub genes were found to be enriched in several key pathways, including the cell cycle and p53 signaling pathway. Some of the hub genes were also reported in the stress-survival and apoptosis pathways. The hub DEGs revealed from our study may be used as biomarkers and may explain CRC development and progression mechanisms. Full article
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Article
Increased Risk of Sub-Clinical Blood Lead Levels in the 20-County Metro Atlanta, Georgia Area—A Laboratory Surveillance-Based Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(10), 5163; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18105163 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 698
Abstract
Lead (Pb) is a naturally occurring, highly toxic metal that has adverse effects on children across a range of exposure levels. Limited screening programs leave many children at risk for chronic low-level lead exposure and there is little understanding of what factors may [...] Read more.
Lead (Pb) is a naturally occurring, highly toxic metal that has adverse effects on children across a range of exposure levels. Limited screening programs leave many children at risk for chronic low-level lead exposure and there is little understanding of what factors may be used to identify children at risk. We characterize the distribution of blood lead levels (BLLs) in children aged 0–72 months and their associations with sociodemographic and area-level variables. Data from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Healthy Homes for Lead Prevention Program surveillance database was used to describe the distribution of BLLs in children living in the metro Atlanta area from 2010 to 2018. Residential addresses were geocoded, and “Hotspot” analyses were performed to determine if BLLs were spatially clustered. Multilevel regression models were used to identify factors associated with clinical BBLs (≥5 µg/dL) and sub-clinical BLLs (2 to <5 µg/dL). From 2010 to 2018, geographically defined hotspots for both clinical and sub-clinical BLLs diffused from the city-central area of Atlanta into suburban areas. Multilevel regression analysis revealed non-Medicaid insurance, the proportion of renters in a given geographical area, and proportion of individuals with a GED/high school diploma as predictors that distinguish children with BLLs 2 to <5 µg/dL from those with lower (<2 µg/dL) or higher (≥5 µg/dL) BLLs. Over half of the study children had BLLs between 2 and 5 µg/dL, a range that does not currently trigger public health measures but that could result in adverse developmental outcomes if ignored. Full article
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Article
Progression of Metabolic Syndrome Components along with Depression Symptoms and High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein: The Bogalusa Heart Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 5010; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18095010 - 09 May 2021
Viewed by 896
Abstract
This study examined the association between depression symptoms and metabolic syndrome (MetS) or its components prospectively. It assessed the mediator role of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Self-reported depression symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. [...] Read more.
This study examined the association between depression symptoms and metabolic syndrome (MetS) or its components prospectively. It assessed the mediator role of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Self-reported depression symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. MetS was defined as having at least three of the following five criteria: (1) waist circumference >102 centimeters (cm) in men or >88 cm in women; (2) triglycerides ≥ 50 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL); (3) high-density lipoprotein cholesterol <40 mg/dL in men or <50 mg/dL in women; (4) blood pressure: systolic ≥ 30 and diastolic ≥85 mm of mercury or on antihypertensive medication; and (5) fasting glucose ≥110 mg/dL. The risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated using multivariate Poisson regression models. A total of 419 White and 180 Black individuals with a mean age of 36 years were followed for 6.9 years. The findings demonstrated that hs-CRP mediated the influence of depression symptoms on central obesity in White young adults. The adjusted RR for central obesity was 1.08 with 95% CI of 0.88–1.32, and the value for hs-CRP was 1.12 with 95% CI of 1.02–1.23. Although depression did not influence MetS in this study cohort, the complete mediator role of hs-CRP was established for central obesity, a component of MetS in White young adults. Full article
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Article
Development and Validation of a Sensitive, Specific and Reproducible UPLC-MS/MS Method for the Quantification of OJT007, A Novel Anti-Leishmanial Agent: Application to a Pharmacokinetic Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4624; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18094624 - 27 Apr 2021
Viewed by 790
Abstract
OJT007 is a methionine aminopeptidase 1 (MetAP1) inhibitor with potent anti-proliferative effects against Leishmania Major. In order to study its pharmacokinetics as a part of the drug development process, a sensitive, specific, and reproducible ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) method [...] Read more.
OJT007 is a methionine aminopeptidase 1 (MetAP1) inhibitor with potent anti-proliferative effects against Leishmania Major. In order to study its pharmacokinetics as a part of the drug development process, a sensitive, specific, and reproducible ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) method was developed and validated. Voriconazole was used as the internal standard to generate standard curves ranging from 5 to 1000 ng/mL. The separation was achieved using a UPLC system equipped with an Acquity UPLC BEH C18 column (2.1 × 50 mm, 1.7 μm) with 0.1% formic acid in acetonitrile and 0.1% formic acid in water as the mobile phase under gradient elution at a flow rate of 0.4 mL/min. The mass analysis was performed with a 4000 QTRAP® mass spectrometer using multiple-ion reaction monitoring (MRM) in the positive mode, with the transition of m/z 325 → m/z 205 for OJT007 and m/z 350 → m/z 101 for voriconazole. The intra- and inter-day precision and accuracy were within ±15%. The mean extraction recovery and the matrix effect were 95.1% and 7.96%, respectively, suggesting no significant matrix interfering with the quantification of the drug in rat plasma. This study was successfully used for the pharmacokinetic evaluation of OJT007 using the rat as an animal model. Full article
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Communication
Short Communication: Integrase Strand Transfer Inhibitors Drug Resistance Mutations in Puerto Rico HIV-Positive Individuals
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2719; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18052719 - 08 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1011
Abstract
The HIV-1 integrase viral protein is responsible for incorporating the viral DNA into the genomic DNA. The inhibition of viral integration into host cell DNA is part of recent therapeutic procedures. Combination therapy with protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors has demonstrated good synergistic [...] Read more.
The HIV-1 integrase viral protein is responsible for incorporating the viral DNA into the genomic DNA. The inhibition of viral integration into host cell DNA is part of recent therapeutic procedures. Combination therapy with protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors has demonstrated good synergistic results in reducing viral replication. The purpose of this study is to assess the occurrence of integrase drug resistance mutations from the period comprising 2013 through 2018 in Puerto Rico (PR). We analyzed 131 nucleotide sequences available in our HIV genotyping database, and we performed drug resistance mutation analyses using the Stanford HIV Drug Resistance Database. Twenty-one sequences (16.03%) harbored major or resistance-associated mutations. We identified the Q148HKR, G140S, Y143R, N155H, S147G, and E138EA major drug resistance mutations and the D232DN, T97TA, E157Q, G163GART accessory mutations. We detected high-level drug resistance to Elvitegravir and Raltegravir (76.19% and 85.71%). Moreover, we identified sequences harboring drug resistance mutations that could provide resistance to Dolutegravir. The transmission of strains with integrase antiretroviral resistance has been previously documented in treatment naïve patients. Given the increase of patients treated with integrase inhibitors, surveillance of drug resistance mutations is an essential aspect of PR’s clinical management of HIV infection. Full article
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Article
Expression Profiling Identifies TWIST2 Target Genes in Setleis Syndrome Patient Fibroblast and Lymphoblast Cells
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1997; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18041997 - 19 Feb 2021
Viewed by 979
Abstract
Background: Setleis syndrome (SS) is a focal facial dermal dysplasia presenting with bilateral temporal skin lesions, eyelash abnormalities and absent meibomian glands. SS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the TWIST2 gene, which codes for a transcription factor [...] Read more.
Background: Setleis syndrome (SS) is a focal facial dermal dysplasia presenting with bilateral temporal skin lesions, eyelash abnormalities and absent meibomian glands. SS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the TWIST2 gene, which codes for a transcription factor of the bHLH family known to be involved in skin and facial development. Methods: We obtained gene expression profiles by microarray analyses from control and SS patient primary skin fibroblast and lymphoblastoid cell lines. Results: Out of 983 differentially regulated genes in fibroblasts (fold change ≥ 2.0), 479 were down-regulated and 509 were up-regulated, while in lymphoblasts, 1248 genes were down-regulated and 73 up-regulated. RT-PCR reactions confirmed altered expression of selected genes. Conclusions: TWIST2 is described as a repressor, but expression profiling suggests an important role in gene activation as well, as evidenced by the number of genes that are down-regulated, with a much higher proportion of down-regulated genes found in lymphoblastoid cells from an SS patient. As expected, both types of cell types showed dysregulation of cytokine genes. These results identify potential TWIST2 target genes in two important cell types relevant to rare disorders caused by mutations in this bHLH gene. Full article
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Article
Using the MMSE-2 to Measure Cognitive Deterioration in a Sample of Psychiatric Patients Living in Puerto Rico
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1694; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18041694 - 10 Feb 2021
Viewed by 938
Abstract
Patients with psychiatric disorders often have cognitive impairment. Several deficits have been recognized in patients with mood and/or psychotic disorders. We hypothesized that differences in the levels of deterioration exist between patients with bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and schizoaffective disorder [...] Read more.
Patients with psychiatric disorders often have cognitive impairment. Several deficits have been recognized in patients with mood and/or psychotic disorders. We hypothesized that differences in the levels of deterioration exist between patients with bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and schizoaffective disorder (SAD). The mini-mental state examination, version 2 (MMSE-2), was used with a sample of 160 psychiatric patients to measure cognitive impairment. The aims of this study were as follows: (1) To characterize the differences in cognitive deterioration among patients diagnosed with BD, MDD, or SAD; (2) to explore item difficulty and cutoff points based on the educational level and other variables which are significant for our psychiatric population. Descriptive statistics were used for categorical variables. In addition, a Bonferroni post hoc test and an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) for the continuous dependent variable were performed. Psychiatric diagnosis and years of education adjusted by several covariates proved to be significant. The 25th percentile were obtained to establish the cutoff points. Each item’s difficulty was analyzed using means and chi-square tests. Cognitive deterioration was found in 51% of the patients with SAD, in 31% with BD, and in 18% with MDD. Full article
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Article
Examining Cervical Cancer Preventive Behaviors for Latinx Transmasculine Individuals among Medical Students
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 851; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18030851 - 20 Jan 2021
Viewed by 999
Abstract
Latinx transmasculine men (LTM) can be at a particularly high risk for cervical cancer as they lie at the intersection of two health disparity populations (gender and ethnic minorities). Previous research using self-report measures has documented how negative interactions with providers are a [...] Read more.
Latinx transmasculine men (LTM) can be at a particularly high risk for cervical cancer as they lie at the intersection of two health disparity populations (gender and ethnic minorities). Previous research using self-report measures has documented how negative interactions with providers are a key barrier for cervical cancer screening among LTM. However, no research to date has examined, via direct observation, cervical cancer preventive behaviors in clinical interactions with LTM. Thus, the objective of this study was to examine cervical cancer preventive behaviors in clinical interactions between medical students and an LTM. The team implemented standardized patient simulations (simulations of clinical interactions with actors portraying the role of a patient), self-report measures, and observational techniques. A total of 37 medical students participated in the study. The results were mixed with some key behaviors neglected (i.e., asking if the patient preferred to collect the HPV test sample by himself), while others were enacted (i.e., checking family history of cervical cancer). Further research is needed to better understand behaviors in clinical interactions with LTM as well as how to improve them. Full article
Article
Twenty Years of Leading the Way among Cohort Studies in Community-Driven Outreach and Engagement: Jackson State University/Jackson Heart Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 696; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18020696 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1057
Abstract
Background: History has recorded the tremendous concerns and apprehension expressed by African Americans about participating in research studies. This review enumerates the collaborative techniques that were utilized by the Jackson State University (JSU) Jackson Heart Study (JHS) community-focused team to facilitate recruitment and [...] Read more.
Background: History has recorded the tremendous concerns and apprehension expressed by African Americans about participating in research studies. This review enumerates the collaborative techniques that were utilized by the Jackson State University (JSU) Jackson Heart Study (JHS) community-focused team to facilitate recruitment and retention of the JHS cohort and to implement health education and health promotion in the JHS communities. Methods: This review describes the evolution of the JSU JHS community initiatives, an innovative community-driven operation, during the period 1999–2018. Results: JSU JHS community-focused investigators published approximately 20 manuscripts, including community-led research and publications with community lead authors and co-authors, research and publications in collaboration with other JHS staff, through other JSU-funded projects. The JSU JHS community-focused unit also initiated the JHS Community Training Activities, developed the Community Health Advisory Network (CHAN), and trained and certified 137 Community Health Advisors. In addition, the JSU JHS community-focused unit developed the Collaborative Community Science Model (CCSM) that symbolized its approach to community engagement and outreach, and a Trust Scale for ascertaining African Americans’ willingness to engage in biomedical research collaborations. Conclusion: This review offers educators, public health professionals, and research investigators a useful starting point for the development, selection, or improvement of techniques to motivate, inspire, and engage community residents in a community–academia partnership that yielded maximum benefits in the areas of health education, health promotion and interventions, and biomedical research. Substantial, meaningful community engagement is possible when prioritizing elimination of health disparities and long-term improvement in health care access in the target populations. Full article
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Article
Rural Community Engagement for Health Disparities Research: The Unique Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(1), 64; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18010064 - 23 Dec 2020
Viewed by 913
Abstract
Reducing health disparities in rural communities of color remains a national concern. Efforts to reduce health disparities often center on community engagement, which is historically the strategy used to provide rural minority populations with support to access and utilize health information and services. [...] Read more.
Reducing health disparities in rural communities of color remains a national concern. Efforts to reduce health disparities often center on community engagement, which is historically the strategy used to provide rural minority populations with support to access and utilize health information and services. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with their origins derived from social injustices and discrimination, are uniquely positioned to conduct this type of engagement. We present the “Research with Care” project, a long-standing positive working relationship between North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and rural Halifax County, North Carolina, demonstrating an effective campus–community partnership. The importance of readiness to implement Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles is underscored. As demonstrated by the NCCU–Halifax partnership, we recommend leveraging the positive associations of the HBCU brand identity as a method of building and sustaining meaningful relationships with rural Black communities. This underscores the role and value of HBCUs in the health disparities research arena and should be communicated and embraced. Full article
Article
Evaluating Research Centers in Minority Institutions: Framework, Metrics, Best Practices, and Challenges
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8373; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17228373 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1521
Abstract
The NIH-funded Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program is currently funding 18 academic institutions to strengthen the research environment and contribution to health disparities research. The purpose of this multiphase mixed-methods study was to establish a uniform evaluation framework for demonstrating the [...] Read more.
The NIH-funded Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program is currently funding 18 academic institutions to strengthen the research environment and contribution to health disparities research. The purpose of this multiphase mixed-methods study was to establish a uniform evaluation framework for demonstrating the collective success of this research consortium. Methods included discussions of aims and logic models at the RCMI Evaluators’ Workshop, a literature review to inform an evaluation conceptual framework, and a case study survey to obtain evaluation-related information and metrics. Ten RCMIs participated in the workshop and 14 submitted responses to the survey. The resultant RCMI Evaluation Conceptual Model presents a practical ongoing approach to document RCMIs’ impacts on health disparities. Survey results identified 37 common metrics under four primary categories. Evaluation challenges were issues related to limited human resources, data collection, decision-making, defining metrics, cost-sharing, and revenue-generation. There is a need for further collaborative efforts across RCMI sites to engage program leadership and community stakeholders in addressing the identified evaluation challenges and measurement. Program leadership should be engaged to apply the Evaluation Conceptual Framework and common metrics to allow for valid inter-institutional comparisons and consortium-wide evaluations. Stakeholders could ensure evaluation metrics are used to facilitate community impacts. Full article
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Communication
The Development of a Knowledge Test on Transgender Patients’ Care
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 7192; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17197192 - 01 Oct 2020
Viewed by 682
Abstract
The objective of this study was to develop an assessment instrument to measure the effects of a continuing education intervention on 3 domains in pharmacists’ knowledge needed to provide pharmaceutical care for transgender patients: (1) foundations of gender-affirming care, (2) health disparities and [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to develop an assessment instrument to measure the effects of a continuing education intervention on 3 domains in pharmacists’ knowledge needed to provide pharmaceutical care for transgender patients: (1) foundations of gender-affirming care, (2) health disparities and the specific needs of transgender patients, and (3) hormone treatments for transgender patients. Multiple-choice questions were developed, and an initial item bank of 47 items was drafted. Item bank revision was conducted by content matter experts, while feedback from 8 practicing pharmacists was provided for face validity and further insights. A preliminary test, containing 42 items was administered to 64 pharmacists before and after a three-hour continuing education intervention. Cronbach’s alpha coefficient yielded a value of 0.65 as a pre-test and 0.77 as a post-test. Items were less difficult to answer by participants after taking the three-hour continuing education, showing better discrimination among high and low performers in the instrument administration as post-test, as well as better correlation when comparing participants’ performance in the overall score against item-level performance. Psychometric evidence supports further instrument examination, which can improve this tool to measure gains in pharmacists’ knowledge related to the care of transgender patients. Full article
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Article
Transcriptional Profiling and Biological Pathway(s) Analysis of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in a Pakistani Population
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5866; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17165866 - 13 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1151
Abstract
The epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an important global health concern. Our earlier epidemiological investigation in Pakistan prompted us to conduct a molecular investigation to decipher the differential genetic pathways of this health condition in relation to non-diabetic controls. Our [...] Read more.
The epidemic of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an important global health concern. Our earlier epidemiological investigation in Pakistan prompted us to conduct a molecular investigation to decipher the differential genetic pathways of this health condition in relation to non-diabetic controls. Our microarray studies of global gene expression were conducted on the Affymetrix platform using Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 Array along with Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) to associate the affected genes with their canonical pathways. High-throughput qRT-PCR TaqMan Low Density Array (TLDA) was performed to validate the selected differentially expressed genes of our interest, viz., ARNT, LEPR, MYC, RRAD, CYP2D6, TP53, APOC1, APOC2, CYP1B1, SLC2A13, and SLC33A1 using a small population validation sample (n = 15 cases and their corresponding matched controls). Overall, our small pilot study revealed a discrete gene expression profile in cases compared to controls. The disease pathways included: Insulin Receptor Signaling, Type II Diabetes Mellitus Signaling, Apoptosis Signaling, Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling, p53 Signaling, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Signaling, Parkinson’s Signaling, Molecular Mechanism of Cancer, and Cell Cycle G1/S Checkpoint Regulation, GABA Receptor Signaling, Neuroinflammation Signaling Pathway, Dopamine Receptor Signaling, Sirtuin Signaling Pathway, Oxidative Phosphorylation, LXR/RXR Activation, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction, strongly consistent with the evidence from epidemiological studies. These gene fingerprints could lead to the development of biomarkers for the identification of subgroups at high risk for future disease well ahead of time, before the actual disease becomes visible. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Review
The Olfactory System as Marker of Neurodegeneration in Aging, Neurological and Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6976; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18136976 - 29 Jun 2021
Viewed by 795
Abstract
Research studies that focus on understanding the onset of neurodegenerative pathology and therapeutic interventions to inhibit its causative factors, have shown a crucial role of olfactory bulb neurons as they transmit and propagate nerve impulses to higher cortical and limbic structures. In rodent [...] Read more.
Research studies that focus on understanding the onset of neurodegenerative pathology and therapeutic interventions to inhibit its causative factors, have shown a crucial role of olfactory bulb neurons as they transmit and propagate nerve impulses to higher cortical and limbic structures. In rodent models, removal of the olfactory bulb results in pathology of the frontal cortex that shows striking similarity with frontal cortex features of patients diagnosed with neurodegenerative disorders. Widely different approaches involving behavioral symptom analysis, histopathological and molecular alterations, genetic and environmental influences, along with age-related alterations in cellular pathways, indicate a strong correlation of olfactory dysfunction and neurodegeneration. Indeed, declining olfactory acuity and olfactory deficits emerge either as the very first symptoms or as prodromal symptoms of progressing neurodegeneration of classical conditions. Olfactory dysfunction has been associated with most neurodegenerative, neuropsychiatric, and communication disorders. Evidence revealing the dual molecular function of the olfactory receptor neurons at dendritic and axonal ends indicates the significance of olfactory processing pathways that come under environmental pressure right from the onset. Here, we review findings that olfactory bulb neuronal processing serves as a marker of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Full article
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Review
Role of Stress-Survival Pathways and Transcriptomic Alterations in Progression of Colorectal Cancer: A Health Disparities Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5525; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18115525 - 21 May 2021
Viewed by 917
Abstract
Every year, more than a million individuals are diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) across the world. Certain lifestyle and genetic factors are known to drive the high incidence and mortality rates in some groups of individuals. The presence of enormous amounts of reactive [...] Read more.
Every year, more than a million individuals are diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) across the world. Certain lifestyle and genetic factors are known to drive the high incidence and mortality rates in some groups of individuals. The presence of enormous amounts of reactive oxygen species is implicated for the on-set and carcinogenesis, and oxidant scavengers are thought to be important in CRC therapy. In this review, we focus on the ethnicity-based CRC disparities in the U.S., the negative effects of oxidative stress and apoptosis, and gene regulation in CRC carcinogenesis. We also highlight the use of antioxidants for CRC treatment, along with screening for certain regulatory genetic elements and oxidative stress indicators as potential biomarkers to determine the CRC risk and progression. Full article
Review
Mentoring New and Early-Stage Investigators and Underrepresented Minority Faculty for Research Success in Health-Related Fields: An Integrative Literature Review (2010–2020)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 432; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18020432 - 07 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1782
Abstract
Mentoring to develop research skills is an important strategy for facilitating faculty success. The purpose of this study was to conduct an integrative literature review to examine the barriers and facilitators to mentoring in health-related research, particularly for three categories: new investigators (NI), [...] Read more.
Mentoring to develop research skills is an important strategy for facilitating faculty success. The purpose of this study was to conduct an integrative literature review to examine the barriers and facilitators to mentoring in health-related research, particularly for three categories: new investigators (NI), early-stage investigators (ESI) and underrepresented minority faculty (UMF). PsychINFO, CINAHL and PubMed were searched for papers published in English from 2010 to 2020, and 46 papers were reviewed. Most papers recommended having multiple mentors and many recommended assessing baseline research skills. Barriers and facilitators were both individual and institutional. Individual barriers mentioned most frequently were a lack of time and finding work–life balance. UMF mentioned barriers related to bias, discrimination and isolation. Institutional barriers included lack of mentors, lack of access to resources, and heavy teaching and service loads. UMF experienced institutional barriers such as devaluation of experience or expertise. Individual facilitators were subdivided and included writing and synthesis as technical skills, networking and collaborating as interpersonal skills, and accountability, leadership, time management, and resilience/grit as personal skills. Institutional facilitators included access to mentoring, professional development opportunities, and workload assigned to research. Advocacy for diversity and cultural humility were included as unique interpersonal and institutional facilitators for UMF. Several overlapping and unique barriers and facilitators to mentoring for research success for NI, ESI and UMF in the health-related disciplines are presented. Full article
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Other

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Brief Report
Timing of Cervico-Vaginal Cytokine Collection during Pregnancy and Preterm Birth: A Comparative Analysis in the PRINCESA Cohort
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3436; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18073436 - 26 Mar 2021
Viewed by 880
Abstract
Preterm birth (PTB), defined as birth before 37 completed weeks of gestation, is a major cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Inflammation is an important component in the physiopathologic pathway leading to PTB but results from cross-sectional studies on associations between inflammation, as [...] Read more.
Preterm birth (PTB), defined as birth before 37 completed weeks of gestation, is a major cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Inflammation is an important component in the physiopathologic pathway leading to PTB but results from cross-sectional studies on associations between inflammation, as measured by cytokines, and PTB are inconsistent. Timing of cytokine measurement during pregnancy varies between studies and may contribute to inconsistent findings. We investigated the effects of timing on associations between 16 cervico-vaginal cytokines (Eotaxin, IL-10, IL-12p40, IL-17, IL-1RA, sIL-2rα, IL-1a, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IP-10, MCP-1, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, TNFα, and VEGF) and PTB among 90 women throughout pregnancy. We used logistic regression to compare associations between concentrations of cervico-vaginal cytokines from periods in pregnancy and PTB. Trimester 1 cytokines had the strongest positive associations with PTB; for example, OR = 1.76 (95% confidence interval: 1.28, 2.42) for IL-6. Second and third trimester associations were weaker but largely positive. IL-1α was the only cytokine with a negative association (trimesters 2, 3 and overall pregnancy). Strong first trimester associations between cytokines and PTB suggest that measuring cytokines early in pregnancy may hold promise for early identification of PTB risk. Variations in cytokine measurement during pregnancy may contribute to inconsistencies among studies. Full article
Essay
Building a Diverse Workforce and Thinkforce to Reduce Health Disparities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1569; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18041569 - 07 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1090
Abstract
The Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program was congressionally mandated in 1985 to build research capacity at institutions that currently and historically recruit, train, and award doctorate degrees in the health professions and health-related sciences, primarily to individuals from underrepresented and minority [...] Read more.
The Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program was congressionally mandated in 1985 to build research capacity at institutions that currently and historically recruit, train, and award doctorate degrees in the health professions and health-related sciences, primarily to individuals from underrepresented and minority populations. RCMI grantees share similar infrastructure needs and institutional goals. Of particular importance is the professional development of multidisciplinary teams of academic and community scholars (the “workforce”) and the harnessing of the heterogeneity of thought (the “thinkforce”) to reduce health disparities. The purpose of this report is to summarize the presentations and discussion at the RCMI Investigator Development Core (IDC) Workshop, held in conjunction with the RCMI Program National Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, in December 2019. The RCMI IDC Directors provided information about their professional development activities and Pilot Projects Programs and discussed barriers identified by new and early-stage investigators that limit effective career development, as well as potential solutions to overcome such obstacles. This report also proposes potential alignments of professional development activities, targeted goals and common metrics to track productivity and success. Full article
Essay
Health Disparities Research Framework Adaptation to Reflect Puerto Rico’s Socio-Cultural Context
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8544; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17228544 - 18 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 883
Abstract
In this article we aim to briefly describe how Puerto Rico’s living conditions influence adverse health outcomes at an individual, community and population level using the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Research Framework that considers multiple factors and their [...] Read more.
In this article we aim to briefly describe how Puerto Rico’s living conditions influence adverse health outcomes at an individual, community and population level using the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Research Framework that considers multiple factors and their intersecting influence. People living in Puerto Rico face significant levels of poverty, a deficient infrastructure, a fragile healthcare system and the continuing dismantling of the public education system as well as hazardous environmental exposures. The treatment of Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens due to the federal policies of the U.S. government and also the mismanagement of funds from local authorities impacts the prevalence of chronic health conditions and vulnerability to disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics. Puerto Rico’s health disparities are rooted in historical, cultural, political and economic factors that have an impact on biology, interpersonal and environmental aspects. In order to significantly reduce health disparities, systemic change is needed at a local, national and federal level. Interventions must consider how social determinants impact the quality of life and seek to impact the intersections of different contexts that have an effect at an individual, interpersonal, communal and societal level. This can be achieved through evidence-based, culturally appropriate and community based as well as translational research approaches that seek to impact behavior and social economic factors. Full article
Conference Report
A Review of Maternal Nutrition during Pregnancy and Impact on the Offspring through Development: Evidence from Animal Models of Over- and Undernutrition
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6926; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17186926 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1464
Abstract
Similarities in offspring phenotype due to maternal under- or over-nutrition during gestation have been observed in studies conducted at University of Wyoming. In these studies, ewes were either nutrient-restricted (NR) from early to mid-gestation, or fed an obesogenic diet (MO) from preconception through [...] Read more.
Similarities in offspring phenotype due to maternal under- or over-nutrition during gestation have been observed in studies conducted at University of Wyoming. In these studies, ewes were either nutrient-restricted (NR) from early to mid-gestation, or fed an obesogenic diet (MO) from preconception through term. Offspring necropsies occurred at mid-gestation, late-gestation, and after parturition. At mid gestation, body weights of NR fetuses were ~30% lighter than controls, whereas MO fetuses were ~30% heavier than those of controls. At birth, lambs born to NR, MO, and control ewes exhibited similar weights. This was a consequence of accelerated fetal growth rates in NR ewes, and reduced fetal growth rates in MO ewes in late gestation, when compared to their respective controls. These fetal growth patterns resulted in remarkably similar effects of increased susceptibility to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and glucose intolerance in offspring programmed mostly during fetal stages of development. These data provide evidence that maternal under- and over-nutrition similarly induce the development of the same cadre of physical and metabolic problems in postnatal life. Full article
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