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Researchers use car collisions with deer to study mysterious animal-population phenomena

Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service LAWRENCE — For at least a century, ecologists have wondered at the tendency for

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Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

LAWRENCE — For at least a century, ecologists have wondered at the tendency for populations of different species to cycle up and down in steady, rhythmic patterns.

“These cycles can be really exaggerated — really huge booms and huge busts — and quite regular,” said Daniel Reuman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas and senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey. “It attracted people’s attention because it was kind of mysterious. Why would such a big thing be happening?”

A second observation in animal populations might be even harder to fathom: Far-flung communities of species, sometimes separated by hundreds of miles, often fluctuate in synchrony with one another — an effect known as “spatial synchrony.”

Now, Reuman and colleagues have written a new study in the peer-reviewed journal Ecology Letters showing these two effects to be linked, but not in the way that could be expected. By parsing data on weather, deer populations and deer-vehicle collisions in Wisconsin, the investigators show spatial synchrony could be driving population cycles, rather than the reverse.

Reuman compared the linked population phenomena to a famous physics experiment where two grandfather clocks are placed next to each other against a wall.

“Over time, the pendulums become synchronized,” he said. “The reason is because both produce tiny vibrations in the wall. And the vibrations from one of them in the wall influences the other one just a little bit — enough to get the pendulums to eventually become synchronous. One reason people think these cycling populations are easy to synchronize is if a few individuals can get from one to the other, like vibrations that go through the wall for the grandfather clocks. It’s enough to bring these cycling populations into synchrony. That’s how people thought about things before we started our work with this paper.”

But Reuman and his co-authors describe this process can actually go the other way around. The researchers found weather patterns driven by El Nino influenced predictable fluctuations in deer populations across the state as well as synchrony between different deer populations.

Looking at datasets on local temperature and snowfall variations across the state, the team averaged them out, finding “buried underneath all of that randomness a hardly noticeable, but synchronous fluctuation,” Reuman said.

The three-to-seven-year weather fluctuation directly influenced synchronous population cycles in the state’s deer.

“All that local variation would cancel out because it might be a little bit warmer in one place, a little bit colder and another place — but that overall synchronous component, which is related to El Nino in this case, reinforces all the local variation,” Reuman said. “And it’s the same years with deer. So, the reason why the synchrony is causing the cycling is because the synchrony is occurring only on the relevant timescales of the fluctuation. It’s only that component of the three-to-seven-year oscillations that synchronize. All the faster and slower oscillations are all local variation that cancels out when you average across the whole state.”

Moreover, the researchers found these deer population fluctuations predicted the numbers of car collisions with deer statewide more than traffic volume or other factors.

“It was a surprise to us when we figured out that that’s what was going on,” Reuman said. “What it amounts to is a new mechanism for these major population cycles and a new way that they can come about. That’s fundamentally different from the old way that people were thinking about it.”

Lead author Tom Anderson, assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said the work shows it’s “still possible to discover new information about well-studied scientific phenomena.”

“Researchers have been examining population cycles for more than 100 years, yet our study still uncovered new information,” Anderson said. “That is partly what makes science, and this project in particular, exciting, to be able to uncover new ways of thinking about something that others have thought about extensively. Our work also has important implications in a variety of other areas, including how fluctuations in populations of plants or animals will respond to climate change and that organisms that are economically and socially important to humans, like white-tailed deer, can undergo periods of high and low abundance due to naturally occurring processes across large spatial scales, which might have implications for their subsequent management.”

According to co-author Lawrence Sheppard, postdoctoral researcher with the KU Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Kansas Biological Survey, the unexpected relationship between spatial synchrony and population cycles was revealed by “new methods to study the different timescales of change in an ecosystem.”

“We trace how particular timescales of change arise in the data and are communicated from one part of the system to another using ‘wavelets,’ which I first learned to apply to biomedical data during my Ph.D.,” Sheppard said. “In particular, here we find that spatial synchrony on a particular timescale arises from an association with winter climate on that timescale, and the spatial synchrony in the deer population has a substantial statewide impact on human interactions with the deer.”

Additional authors were Jonathan Walter of KU and the University of Virginia and Robert Rolley of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Reuman said the findings could transfer to a wide range of other species and ecological systems, with ramifications for agriculture, fisheries, transportation managers and the insurance industry.

“We started out trying to understand the nature of synchrony in these things and trying to figure out what was causing it, and what its consequences are,” Reuman said. “It’s turned out to be related to these overall climatic indices. Now for deer, basically it’s bad winter weather that we’re talking about that synchronizes things. For another particular species, the nature of their relationship with the weather in a location is going to make the difference.”

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https://news.ku.edu/2021/01/21/researchers-use-car-collisions-deer-shed-light-mysterious-animal-population-phenomena

Source: https://bioengineer.org/researchers-use-car-collisions-with-deer-to-study-mysterious-animal-population-phenomena/

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Healing skin ischemia-reperfusion injuries with interleukin-36 receptor antagonists

Ischemia, which in modern Latin means, “staunching of blood,” is a medical condition in which the blood supply is cut

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Ischemia, which in modern Latin means, “staunching of blood,” is a medical condition in which the blood supply is cut off to different parts of the body. In patients who are bed-ridden, ischemia can manifest as pressure ulcers. Else, it could be the Raynaud’s phenomenon in someone under severe stress. This condition can be rescued by blood reperfusion to the affected areas. However, the latter carries the risk of injuries known medically as ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injuries.

Ischemia, which in modern Latin means, “staunching of blood,” is a medical condition in which the blood supply is cut off to different parts of the body. In patients who are bed-ridden, ischemia can manifest as pressure ulcers. Else, it could be the Raynaud’s phenomenon in someone under severe stress. This condition can be rescued by blood reperfusion to the affected areas. However, the latter carries the risk of injuries known medically as ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injuries.

Skin-based I/R injuries can be exacerbated by inherited immunological mechanisms, for instance in patients who are otherwise showing signs of slow wound healing. To understand the immunological mechanisms underlying the development of this condition better, scientists from Japan, building on previous studies, decided to narrow down their investigation to interleukin-36 receptor antagonist (IL-36Ra), a protein that plays a pivotal immunomodulatory role in wound healing.

Speaking about the motivation behind their research, Mr. Yoshihito Tanaka from Fujita Health University School of Medicine, Japan, who led the team of scientists in the investigation, explains, “We wanted to understand the immunological mechanisms involved in the healing of wounds from cutaneous ischemia-reperfusion injuries, such as pressure ulcers and Raynaud’s phenomenon, to narrow down possible therapeutic targets. Drawing from experience, IL-36Ra appeared to be a promising candidate for kickstarting our investigation.”

Accordingly, Mr. Tanaka worked with his team to understand how deficiency of IL-36Ra affects wound healing in cutaneous I/R injuries. For this, the scientists used mice knocked out for the receptor. Also, they induced cutaneous I/R injuries in knockout and wildtype control mice. Subsequently, they studied corresponding immunological responses in both groups of animals, including the time required for wound healing, infiltration of neutrophils/macrophages (key immune cells) to the site of the wounds, apoptotic skin cells, and activation of other unwanted immunological defense mechanisms. Their findings have been published as a research article in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

The team, comprising Dr. Kazumitsu Sugiura and Dr. Yohei Iwata from Fujita Health University School of Medicine, among others, was able to pinpoint important results. The scientists found that the absence of IL-36Ra, indeed, significantly slows down wound healing in cutaneous I/R injuries, through increased apoptosis, or ‘suicide’ of useful skins cells, excessive recruitment of inflammatory cells, and employment of unnecessary proinflammatory mechanisms. Additionally, they demonstrated the role of Cl-amidine, a protein-arginine deiminase inhibitor as effective in normalizing exacerbated I/R injury in IL-36Ra mice. Based on these observations, the scientists assert their findings are the first conclusive report of the involvement of IL-36Ra in cutaneous I/R injury.

The scientists are positive that they have identified a stalwart therapeutic candidate against cutaneous I/R injuries in IL-36Ra. As Mr. Tanaka optimistically adds, “Our research may lead to the development of therapeutic agents for wound healing of various other refractory skin diseases too.”

The quest for novel therapeutic targets in skin wound healing might just have been empowered by these findings of the team and the future indeed looks brighter for alleviating the painful burden of cutaneous I/R injuries.

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Reference

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.17767

About Fujita Health University

Fujita Health University is a private university situated in Toyoake, Aichi, Japan. It was founded in 1964 and houses one of the largest teaching university hospitals in Japan in terms of the number of beds. With over 900 faculty members, the university is committed to providing various academic opportunities to students internationally. Fujita Health University has been ranked eighth among all universities and second among all private universities in Japan in the 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. THE University Impact Rankings 2019 visualized university initiatives for sustainable development goals (SDGs). For the “good health and well-being” SDG, Fujita Health University was ranked second among all universities and number one among private universities in Japan. The university will also be the first Japanese university to host the “THE Asia Universities Summit” in June 2021. The university’s founding philosophy is “Our creativity for the people (DOKUSOU-ICHIRI),” which reflects the belief that, as with the university’s alumni and alumnae, current students also unlock their future by leveraging their creativity.

Website: https://www.fujita-hu.ac.jp/en/index.html

About Mr. Yoshihito Tanaka from Fujita Health University

Mr. Yoshihito Tanaka is a graduate student at the Department of Dermatology of Fujita Health University School of Medicine. Mr. Tanaka extensively studies the immunological mechanisms behind dermatological conditions, specifically with animal models. He has over 11 publications to his credit, in reputed international journals, with over 16 citations.

Journal

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology

Method of Research

Experimental study

Subject of Research

Animals

Article Title

Cutaneous ischemia-reperfusion injury is exacerbated by IL-36 receptor antagonist deficiency

Article Publication Date

26-Oct-2021

COI Statement

The authors declare none.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/healing-skin-ischemia-reperfusion-injuries-with-interleukin-36-receptor-antagonists/

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Social inequities perpetuate breastfeeding disparities for Black women

Philadelphia, November 8, 2021 – As Black women continue to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the

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Philadelphia, November 8, 2021 – As Black women continue to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the United States, researchers examined factors associated with breastfeeding disparities and inequities through the lens of critical race theory and the social-ecological model in a new Perspective in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier.

Philadelphia, November 8, 2021 – As Black women continue to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the United States, researchers examined factors associated with breastfeeding disparities and inequities through the lens of critical race theory and the social-ecological model in a new Perspective in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier.

In the United States, there has been a heightened recognition of the health and social disparities that continuously impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Among these health disparities is the low rate of breastfeeding among Black mothers, despite the association between positive health outcomes and breastfeeding. A general lack of acceptance about breastfeeding within the Black American culture and American culture; lack of neighborhood resources like primary care, social cohesion, and safety; and experiences of racism and implicit bias by healthcare providers have been identified as contributing factors to the low breastfeeding rates among Black women.

“The reality is that right now the breastfeeding rates in the United States are not improving, and [Black women] have the lowest rates of breastfeeding for any race or ethnicity in the US. Unfortunately, the breastfeeding rates between Black infants and White infants are widening, so what we’re doing right now is not working,” said Melissa Petit, MN PH, BA, RN, IBCLC, College of Nursing, Washington State University, Spokane, WA, USA.

This Perspective encourages healthcare providers and nurses to address breastfeeding disparities among Black women in the US from the individual level to the societal level.

“In clinical practice, we need to examine the roadblocks or barriers to fostering inclusion and equity in healthcare for all women. We need to identify our own assumptions about race, understand and acknowledge our own biases and perceptions, and challenge our own thoughts to identify our own microaggressions by reading about microinequities and microaggressions. We need to be active practitioners of trauma informed care. We need to realize trauma impacts patients and recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma whether it be historical or structural or personal, and we need to respond by implementing care structures for all women by acknowledging our shared humanity and challenges in that shared humanity,” commented coauthor Denise Smart, DrPH, MPH, BSN, RN, College of Nursing, Washington State University, Spokane, WA, USA.

Journal

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

DOI

10.1016/j.jneb.2021.08.013

Subject of Research

People

Article Title

Examination of Factors That Contribute to Breastfeeding Disparities and Inequities for Black Women in the US

Article Publication Date

8-Nov-2021

Source: https://bioengineer.org/social-inequities-perpetuate-breastfeeding-disparities-for-black-women/

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SNMMI Image of the Year: PET imaging measures cognitive impairment in COVID-19 patients

Credit: G Blazhenets et al., Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of

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Credit: G Blazhenets et al., Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg.

Reston, VA–The effects of COVID-19 on the brain can be accurately measured with positron emission tomography (PET), according to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) 2021 Annual Meeting. In the study, newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, who required inpatient treatment and underwent PET brain scans, were found to have deficits in neuronal function and accompanying cognitive impairment, and in some, this impairment continued six months after their diagnosis. The detailed depiction of areas of cognitive impairment, neurological symptoms and comparison of impairment over a six-month time frame has been selected as SNMMI’s 2021 Image of the Year.

Each year, SNMMI chooses an image that best exemplifies the most promising advances in the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. The state-of-the-art technologies captured in these images demonstrate the capacity to improve patient care by detecting disease, aiding diagnosis, improving clinical confidence, and providing a means of selecting appropriate treatments. This year, the SNMMI Henry N. Wagner, Jr., Image of the Year was chosen from more than 1,280 abstracts submitted to the meeting and voted on by reviewers and the society leadership.

“As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic proceeds, it has become increasingly clear that neurocognitive long-term consequences occur not only in severe COVID-19 cases, but in mild and moderate cases as well. Neurocognitive deficits like impaired memory, disturbed concentration and cognitive problems may persist well beyond the acute phase of the disease,” said Ganna Blazhenets, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher in Medical Imaging at the University Medical Center Freiburg, in Freiburg, Germany.

To study cognitive impairment associated with COVID-19, researchers carried out a prospective study on recently diagnosed COVID-19 patients who required inpatient treatment for non-neurological complaints. A cognitive assessment was performed, followed by imaging with 18F-FDG PET if at least two new neurological symptoms were present. By comparing COVID-19 patients to controls, the Freiburg group established a COVID-19-related covariance pattern of brain metabolism with most prominent decreases in cortical regions. Across patients, the expression of this pattern showed a very high correlation with the patients’ cognitive performance.

Follow-up PET imaging was performed six months after the initial COVID-19 diagnosis. Imaging results showed a significant improvement in the neurocognitive deficits in most patients, accompanied by an almost complete normalization of the brain metabolism.

“We can clearly state that a significant recovery of regional neuronal function and cognition occurs for most COVID-19 patients based on the results of this study. However, it is important to recognize the evidence of longer-lasting deficits in neuronal function and accompanying cognitive deficits is still measurable in some patients six months after manifestation of disease,” noted Blazhenets. “As a result, post-COVID-19 patients with persistent cognitive complaints should be presented to a neurologist and possibly allocated to cognitive rehabilitation programs.”

“18F-FDG PET is an established biomarker of neuronal function and neuronal injury,” stated SNMMI’s Scientific Program Committee chair, Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD. “As shown the Image of the Year, it can be applied to unravel neuronal correlates of the cognitive decline in patients after COVID-19. Since 18F-FDG PET is widely available, it may therefore aid in the diagnostic work-up and follow-up in patients with persistent cognitive impairment after COVID-19.”

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Abstract 41. “Altered regional cerebral function and its association with cognitive impairment in COVID 19: A prospective FDG PET study.” Ganna Blazhenets, Johannes Thurow, Lars Frings and Philipp Meyer, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany; Nils Schroeter, Tobias Bormann, Cornelius Weiller, Andrea Dressing and Jonas Hosp; Department of Neurology and Clinical Neuroscience, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany; and Dirk Wagner, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.

All 2021 SNMMI Annual Meeting abstracts can be found online at https://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/62/supplement_1.

About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, vital elements of precision medicine that allow diagnosis and treatment to be tailored to individual patients in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

SNMMI’s members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit http://www.snmmi.org.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/snmmi-image-of-the-year-pet-imaging-measures-cognitive-impairment-in-covid-19-patients/

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