Author Archives: Gary Nelson

Children of older female mice more prone to heart problems

Particular changes in the placenta of older females can lead to heart problems in older sons according to a study, published in Scientific Reports, conducted on rats. The researchers discovered differences defined in the press release as “significant” regarding the development and growth of the fetus and its connection with the placenta according to its sex.

The researchers carried out experiments with pregnant female rats aged 3-4 months or 9.5-10 months. Older females had an age which, according to the researchers, may correspond to a human age of about 35 years which is considered a sort of “limit” beyond which one begins already to speak of “advanced maternal age.” The researchers found that for sons born to older mothers there were more likely to be heart problems and hypertension.

While with female fetuses the placenta showed no particularly negative changes in its structure and in its function, and in some cases, the same placenta provided more benefit to female fetuses in cases of older mothers than younger mothers. With male fetuses, this did not happen and the same changes in the placenta seemed to limit the growth of the fetus.

These findings could lead to “better management of human pregnancies and the development of targeted interventions to improve the long-term health of children born to older mothers,” explains Tina Napso, a Cambridge University researcher and one of the authors of the study.

This further study shows that the pregnancy of older mothers is more at risk than the pregnancy of younger mothers not only for the mother herself but also for the baby.

As Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri, researcher at the Center for Trophoblast Research at the same English university, explains, “With the average age of first pregnancy in women becoming ever higher, and especially in developed countries, it is very important to understand how age interacts of the mother and the sex of the child to determine the child’s pregnancy and health in old age.”

Poorer people have a greater risk of heart disease due to worse sleep

Insufficient sleep would be one of the reasons why economically disadvantaged people are more likely to suffer from heart disease and this seems to affect women more. A study published in Cardiovascular Research has come to this conclusion.

As explained by Dusan Petrovic, a researcher at the University Center for General Medicine and Public Health in Lausanne, “women with low socioeconomic status often combine the physical and psychosocial tension of manual and poorly paid jobs with family responsibilities and stress, which negatively affects on sleep and its effects on restoring health compared to men.”

The same researcher believes that structural reforms must be carried out, at all levels of society, to ensure that women can sleep more. One could think, for example, of reducing noise, one of the fundamental reasons for insufficient sleep, facilitating the purchase and installation of double-glazed windows or limiting traffic or prohibiting the construction of houses near highways to airports.

The researchers analyzed data from 111,205 people from four European countries. The same people were divided into three groups according to socioeconomic status (low, medium or high). Coronary heart disease or stroke were then considered based on medical records while sleep quality was established based on what the participants themselves declared.

Parkinson’s new molecular drivers discovered by researchers

New molecular drivers associated with Parkinson’s disease have been discovered by the Mount Sinai group of researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine. The researchers used a special technique called multiscale gene network analysis (MGNA), developed by the researchers themselves, to identify some molecular drivers that underlie various functions of genes that are themselves involved in Parkinson’s disease.

In fact, about 80% of Parkinson’s cases cannot be linked to a known cause: while 20% can be referred to as genetic mutations, for the remaining cases, the majority, the impact of the same genes or in any case the same causes that lead to the disease are not clear.

As explained by Bin Zhang, professor of genetics and geochemical sciences of the American institute, this study not only revealed the new molecular drivers “but also clarifies the functional context of the known genes of the Parkinson’s disease risk factor.”

The analysis of the multiscale genetic network uses genetic, epigenetic, clinical, transcriptomic and pathological data in tissue analysis to identify possible links. It is an effective method to analyze those very complex mechanisms that are the basis not only of Parkinson’s but also of other neurobiological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The same method can provide “new mechanistic knowledge about Parkinson’s disease that could lead to new therapeutic opportunities,” explains Suzana Petanceska, director of the AMP-AD Target Discovery program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Study confirms that weather forecasts are getting better and better

Although many continue to complain about weather forecasts and make fun of meteorologists and various transmissions, the same weather forecasts are getting better and better and certifying it is also a study published in Science and taken up by phys.org.

According to the authors, the weather forecasts have become more accurate so that today a five-day forecast is as accurate as a one-day forecast in 1980. And this also applies to hurricane forecasts: to date, a warning of a hurricane at 72 hours is more accurate than a warning of a hurricane similar to 24 hours of forty years ago.

And, importantly, the weather forecasts are now much more accessible than a few years ago. If up until 20 years ago we had to wait for the evening news to get the weather forecast for the next day, today we just need to access an app on our mobile to get up-to-date and always more accurate forecasts.

This is also due to the improvement of supercomputers and meteorological models, as well as technologies related to meteorology in general.

The study was conducted by three geoscientists from Pennsylvania State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gut bacteria is also related to muscle mass in the elderly, according to a new study

The intestinal microbiome has quickly become one of the main topics of study in the biological field and not a day goes by that new research is not produced in this regard. A new study, published in Experimental Gerontology, indicates that bacteria that live in the intestine can also be involved in the mechanisms that regulate muscle strength in the elderly.

The relationship between the intestinal microbiome and muscle mass and in general with physical functions is gaining more and more importance in the last few years since it was discovered that bacteria in the intestine are much more influential than ever thought. The researchers behind this study compared the bacteria in the intestines of 18 elderly people with high physical function and low percentages of fat mass and 11 elderly people with less favorable body data.

They also colonized the intestines of various mice with fecal samples taken from these two groups of humans. Researchers first found higher levels of bacteria such as Prevotellaceae, Prevotella, Barnesiella and Barnesiella intestinihominis in the 18 elderly people with good levels of physical function and fat mass and in mice colonized with fecal samples taken from them.

“While we were surprised not to have identified a role for the intestinal microbiome in maintaining body composition, with these results we now begin to understand the role of intestinal bacteria in maintaining muscle strength in the elderly,” says Michael Lustgarten, a researcher at the HNRCA Institute of Tufts University.

Even nicotine-free electronic cigarettes can damage blood vessels according to a new study

Studies on electronic cigarettes are increasingly numerous but of course, given that we are dealing with a relatively new product, it will take a few more years to take cohort studies with a large number of participants and with a sufficiently long observation time. However, studies with time-reduced trials of groups of people are not lacking and often previously unknown links are found.
This is the case of a new study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania medical school.

The research, published in Radiology, found a link between nicotine-free electronic cigarettes and blood vessels.

This would run counter to the common belief that completely nicotine-free electronic cigarettes would be less harmful or otherwise not harmful. The researchers performed MRI scans on 31 healthy and non-smoking adults. The exam was performed before and after a “vaping” session of an electronic cigarette without nicotine.

Comparing the two measurements, the researchers found that these e-cigs also appear to have negative effects on the inner surface of blood vessels. Specifically, in the people examined, they seemed to cause a reduction in blood flow as well as an impairment of the endothelial function in the large artery, ie the femoral artery, represented by a 34% reduction in dilation.

The endothelium is a fundamental tissue for the circulation of blood in the body: if it is damaged, the blood can begin to thicken and in the most serious cases, the flow to the brain or heart may even stop, which leads to heart attacks and strokes.

To explain the results of the study is Felix W. Wehrli, professor of radiological sciences and biophysics at the aforementioned university and the author of the study, in the statement published on the website of the same university: “While the liquid for electronic cigarettes can be relatively harmless, the process of vaporization can transform the molecules – mainly propylene glycol and glycerol – into toxic substances. In addition to the harmful effects of nicotine, we have shown that vape has a sudden and immediate effect on the body’s vascular function and could potentially lead to long-term harmful consequences.”

Certain people can sleep less thanks to mutated genes

There are people who sleep fewer hours than others without suffering sleep deprivation. For many years this aspect has left scientists and neurobiologists surprised, and a genetic cause has also been proposed among the various theories. This theory was then partially confirmed when in 2009 a study conducted by Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology, led to the discovery of the DEC2 gene. The researchers found that this gene, with its particular mutation, allowed people to sleep only 6.25 hours per night while those who did not show this mutation slept an average of 8.06 hours.

The theory concerns the genetic cause behind the so-called “natural short sleep” that is now again corroborated by a new study produced by the same team of scientists at the University of California at San Francisco, led once again by Fu. Also, in this case, the scientists claim to have discovered a gene related to short sleep, the second after DEC2.

And this is a completion of the theory because the first gene could explain short sleep only for a few people, not for all, because of a rare mutation. Some people who showed short sleep did not have this mutation of the DEC2 gene (and there was no other cause arising from various diseases or conditions that could explain the short sleep in these people).

“We didn’t think there was just one gene or brain region that told our bodies to sleep or wake up,” says Louis Ptáček, senior author of this new study.

The new gene discovered is ADRB1. A mutated version is linked to the duration of sleep, as scientists saw during experiments performed on mice.

People with a natural short sleep experience better sleep quality and efficiency, as Fu said.

Marine bacteria carried out of the water by storms contribute to cloud formation

An interesting phenomenon was analyzed by a scientist at the State University of Colorado in Fort Collins.

The researcher has studied that the algae bacteria present in the Arctic ocean are projected into the atmosphere due to sea currents and storms. Once in the atmosphere, these bacteria enter the process of cloud formation.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, confirms that bacteria, specifically those that live in the sea, can also contribute to cloud formation, as well as non-biological particles that make up the so-called aerosol.

The researchers analyzed various water samples taken from the Bering Strait and analyzed them finding bacteria that usually live near the bottom of the sea. According to the researchers, the same ocean currents and atmospheric turbulences contribute to the dispersion of these bacteria in the atmosphere.

Specifically, they found bacteria from a phytoplankton bloom in the Bering Strait both at the flowering point and 150 miles away to the northwest. It was therefore clear that it was a storm that carried the bacteria from the depths of the ocean up to almost 2 km high to hundreds of kilometers away in water droplets.

“These special types of aerosols can actually ‘seed’ clouds, a bit like a seed makes a plant grow. Some of these seeds are really effective in forming ice crystals of clouds,” says Jessie Creamean, the atmospheric scientist who made the discovery and who is the municipal author of the study.

Among other things, the clouds that form on the Arctic affect the meteorological conditions of the entire northern part of the planet and therefore it can be said that these bacteria, splashed out of the water In a fortuitous way due to storms, potentially influence the climate of Worldwide.