Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the USA: a population-based disease burden and cost analysis - The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) contribute to disease and dysfunction and incur high associated costs (>1% of the gross domestic product [GDP] in the European Union). Exposure to EDCs varies widely between the USA and Europe because of differences in regulations and, therefore, we aimed to quantify disease burdens and related economic costs to allow comparison.

We used existing models for assessing epidemiological and toxicological studies to reach consensus on probabilities of causation for 15 exposure–response relations between substances and disorders. We used Monte Carlo methods to produce realistic probability ranges for costs across the exposure–response relation, taking into account uncertainties. Estimates were made based on population and costs in the USA in 2010. Costs for the European Union were converted to US$ (€1=$1·33).

The disease costs of EDCs were much higher in the USA than in Europe ($340 billion [2·33% of GDP] vs $217 billion [1·28%]). The difference was driven mainly by intelligence quotient (IQ) points loss and intellectual disability due to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (11 million IQ points lost and 43 000 cases costing $266 billion in the USA vs 873 000 IQ points lost and 3290 cases costing $12·6 billion in the European Union). Accounting for probability of causation, in the European Union, organophosphate pesticides were the largest contributor to costs associated with EDC exposure ($121 billion), whereas in the USA costs due to pesticides were much lower ($42 billion).

EDC exposure in the USA contributes to disease and dysfunction, with annual costs taking up more than 2% of the GDP. Differences from the European Union suggest the need for improved screening for chemical disruption to endocrine systems and proactive prevention."

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The harmonizome: a collection of processed datasets gathered to serve and mine knowledge about genes and proteins. - PubMed

Genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics efforts rapidly generate a plethora of data on the activity and levels of biomolecules within mammalian cells. At the same time, curation projects that organize knowledge from the biomedical literature into online databases are expanding. Hence, there is a wealth of information about genes, proteins and their associations, with an urgent need for data integration to achieve better knowledge extraction and data reuse. For this purpose, we developed the Harmonizome: a collection of processed datasets gathered to serve and mine knowledge about genes and proteins from over 70 major online resources. We extracted, abstracted and organized data into ∼72 million functional associations between genes/proteins and their attributes. Such attributes could be physical relationships with other biomolecules, expression in cell lines and tissues, genetic associations with knockout mouse or human phenotypes, or changes in expression after drug treatment. We stored these associations in a relational database along with rich metadata for the genes/proteins, their attributes and the original resources. The freely available Harmonizome web portal provides a graphical user interface, a web service and a mobile app for querying, browsing and downloading all of the collected data. To demonstrate the utility of the Harmonizome, we computed and visualized gene-gene and attribute-attribute similarity networks, and through unsupervised clustering, identified many unexpected relationships by combining pairs of datasets such as the association between kinase perturbations and disease signatures. We also applied supervised machine learning methods to predict novel substrates for kinases, endogenous ligands for G-protein coupled receptors, mouse phenotypes for knockout genes, and classified unannotated transmembrane proteins for likelihood of being ion channels. The Harmonizome is a comprehensive resource of knowledge about genes and proteins, and as such, it enables researchers to discover novel relationships between biological entities, as well as form novel data-driven hypotheses for experimental validation.Database URL:

SZGR2: Schizophrenia Gene Resource

SZGR2: "Schizophrenia Gene Resource 2 (SZGR 2.0) provides a comprehensive online resource for schizophrenia studies. Built in 2009, SZGR curates data from genetics studies, transcriptome studies, and epigenetics studies. Overtime, SZGR has grown from a pure genetics resource to a comprehensive, multi-omics online data house -- a one-stop shop for schizophrenia. Our long term goal is to provide resources and tools for researchers to understand schizophrenia. Our ultimate goal is to improve the life quality of schizophrenia patients and to contribute to successful therapies for patients. Please email us if there are any feedbacks. Click here to browse all data sets. Documentation can be found here."

Environmental risk factors for dementia: a systematic review | BMC Geriatrics | Full Text

Dementia risk reduction is a major and growing public health priority. While certain modifiable risk factors for dementia have been identified, there remains a substantial proportion of unexplained risk. There is evidence that environmental risk factors may explain some of this risk. Thus, we present the first comprehensive systematic review of environmental risk factors for dementia.


We searched the PubMed and Web of Science databases from their inception to January 2016, bibliographies of review articles, and articles related to publically available environmental data. Articles were included if they examined the association between an environmental risk factor and dementia. Studies with another outcome (for example, cognition), a physiological measure of the exposure, case studies, animal studies, and studies of nutrition were excluded. Data were extracted from individual studies which were, in turn, appraised for methodological quality. The strength and consistency of the overall evidence for each risk factor identified was assessed.


We screened 4784 studies and included 60 in the review. Risk factors were considered in six categories: air quality, toxic heavy metals, other metals, other trace elements, occupational-related exposures, and miscellaneous environmental factors. Few studies took a life course approach. There is at least moderate evidence implicating the following risk factors: air pollution; aluminium; silicon; selenium; pesticides; vitamin D deficiency; and electric and magnetic fields.


Studies varied widely in size and quality and therefore we must be circumspect in our conclusions. Nevertheless, this extensive review suggests that future research could focus on a short list of environmental risk factors for dementia. Furthermore, further robust, longitudinal studies with repeated measures of environmental exposures are required to confirm these associations."

To Shut Down Cancer Cells, Try Giving Them Alzheimer’s | GEN News Highlights | GEN

 Amyloid bodies are usually unhealthy developments, most notably in Alzheimer’s disease. Yet amyloid bodies, which are aggregates of alternatively folded proteins, may point to a new form of cancer therapy. Amyloid bodies put cells—including cancer cells—into a dormant state. Unfortunately, in cancer cells, amyloid bodies sometimes disaggregate, and the proteins that are released tend to resume their typical folds. The result: Cancer cells are reactivated. But what if disaggregation of amyloid bodies in cancer cells could be prevented? The cancer cells wouldn’t die. They would, however, stay dormant—and they would stop contributing to the progression of cancer."

Sharpening Your Synapses: Spermidine Reverses Age Related Memory Decline – Neuroscience News

In the article published September 29 in open-access journal PLOS Biology, work by the groups of Stephan Sigrist from the Freie Universität Berlin, Andrea Fiala (Universität Göttingen) and Frank Madeo (Universität Graz) now shows that specific changes at the level of synapses directly provoke age-related dementia, and that, however, administering a simple substance already found in our bodies, spermidine, can help to avoid such age-related synaptic changes and thereby protect from age-induced memory impairment.

Just like humans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster – a leading model for aging research – suffers from memory impairment with advancing age. The same team of researchers previously observed that Drosophila exhibits an age-induced decline in levels of spermidine, and that these memory deficits can be suppressed by feeding with a diet supplemented by spermidine.

They now describe an unexpected scenario that convincingly explains the suppression of memory deficits by spermidine feeding. In a nutshell, synapses within the Drosophila brain seem to narrow their operational space, and thus become increasingly unable to form new memories with age.

Dietary supplementation with spermidine, however, prevented these changes. Importantly, when the authors mimicked these age-associated changes by genetic means, learning suffered even in young flies, providing a causal link between generic synaptic mechanisms and age-induced memory impairment."

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Mycoplasma pneumoniae triggering the Guillain-Barré syndrome: A case-control study - Meyer Sauteur - 2016 - Annals of Neurology

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an acute postinfectious immune-mediated polyneuropathy. Although preceding respiratory tract infections with Mycoplasma pneumoniae have been reported in some cases, the role of M. pneumoniae in the pathogenesis of GBS remains unclear. We here cultured, for the first time, M. pneumoniae from a GBS patient with antibodies against galactocerebroside (GalC), which cross-reacted with the isolate. This case prompted us to unravel the role of M. pneumoniae in GBS in a case-control study.
We included 189 adults and 24 children with GBS and compared them to control cohorts for analysis of serum antibodies against M. pneumoniae (n = 479) and GalC (n = 198).
Anti–M. pneumoniae immunoglobulin (Ig) M antibodies were detected in GBS patients and healthy controls in 3% and 0% of adults (p = 0.16) and 21% and 7% of children (p = 0.03), respectively. Anti-GalC antibodies (IgM and/or IgG) were found in 4% of adults and 25% of children with GBS (p = 0.001). Anti-GalC-positive patients showed more-frequent preceding respiratory symptoms, cranial nerve involvement, and a better outcome. Anti-GalC antibodies correlated with anti–M. pneumoniae antibodies (p < 0.001) and cross-reacted with different M. pneumoniae strains. Anti-GalC IgM antibodies were not only found in GBS patients with M. pneumoniae infection, but also in patients without neurological disease (8% vs 9%; p = 0.87), whereas anti-GalC IgG was exclusively found in patients with GBS (9% vs 0%; p = 0.006).
M. pneumoniae infection is associated with GBS, more frequently in children than adults, and elicits anti-GalC antibodies, of which specifically anti-GalC IgG may contribute to the pathogenesis of GBS. Ann Neurol 2016;80:566–580"

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Specific Triazine Herbicides Induce Amyloid-β42 Production - IOS Press

"Proteolytic cleavage of the amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP) by secretases leads to extracellular release of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides. Increased production of Aβ42 over Aβ40 and aggregation into oligomers and plaques constitute an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) hallmark. Identifying products of the ‘human chemical exposome’ (HCE) able to induce Aβ42 production may be a key to understanding some of the initiating causes of AD and to generate non-genetic, chemically-induced AD animal models. A cell model was used to screen HCE libraries for Aβ42 inducers. Out of 3500+ compounds, six triazine herbicides were found that induced a β- and γ-secretases-dependent, 2–10 fold increase in the production of extracellular Aβ42 in various cell lines, primary neuronal cells, and neurons differentiated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Immunoprecipitation/mass spectrometry analyses show enhanced production of Aβ peptides cleaved at positions 42/43, and reduced production of peptides cleaved at positions 38 and lower, a characteristic of AD. Neurons derived from iPSCs obtained from a familial AD (FAD) patient (AβPP K724N) produced more Aβ42 versus Aβ40 than neurons derived from healthy controls iPSCs (AβPP WT). Triazines enhanced Aβ42 production in both control and AD neurons. Triazines also shifted the cleavage pattern of alcadeinα, another γ-secretase substrate, suggesting a direct effect of triazines on γ-secretase activity. In conclusion, several widely used triazines enhance the production of toxic, aggregation prone Aβ42/Aβ43 amyloids, suggesting the possible existence of environmental “Alzheimerogens” which may contribute to the initiation and propagation of the amyloidogenic process in late-onset AD."

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Scientists triple known types of viruses in world's oceans

The world's oceans teem with scientific mystery, unknowns that could prove to be tools that will one day protect the planet from global warming.

An international research team now reports they've tripled the known types of viruses living in waters around the globe and have a better idea what role they play in nature. Led by Ohio State University scientists, the team includes University of Michigan biologist Melissa Duhaime.

The oceans currently soak up half of that carbon, but that comes at the cost of acidifying the oceans, which puts some ocean-dwellers, including shellfish, at risk. Understanding how microbes and viruses interact is critical to any possible management efforts, the researchers said.

Team identifies fungus in humans for first time as key factor in Crohn's disease

 "The researchers assessed the mycobiome and bacteriome of patients with Crohn's disease and their Crohn's-free first degree relatives in nine families in northern France and Belgium, and in Crohn's-free individuals from four families living in the same geographic area. Specifically, they analyzed fecal samples of 20 Crohn's and 28 Crohn's-free patients from nine families and of 21 Crohn's-free patients of four families. The researchers found strong fungal-bacterial interactions in those with Crohn's disease: two bacteria (Escherichia coli and Serratia marcescens) and one fungus (Candida tropicalis) moved in lock step. The presence of all three in the sick family members was significantly higher compared to their healthy relatives, suggesting that the bacteria and fungus interact in the intestines. Additionally, test-tube research by the Ghannoum-led team found that the three work together (with the E. coli cells fusing to the fungal cells and S. marcescens forming a bridge connecting the microbes) to produce a biofilm – a thin, slimy layer of microorganisms found in the body that adheres to, among other sites, a portion of the intestines – which can prompt inflammation that results in the symptoms of Crohn's disease."

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Chemical exposure linked to lower vitamin D levels

 Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may reduce levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Amyloidogenic amyloid-β-peptide variants induce microbial agglutination and exert antimicrobial activity : Scientific Reports

Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides are the main components of the plaques found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, Aβ peptides are also detectable in secretory compartments and peripheral blood contains a complex mixture of more than 40 different modified and/or N- and C-terminally truncated Aβ peptides. Recently, anti-infective properties of Aβ peptides have been reported. Here, we investigated the interaction of Aβ peptides of different lengths with various bacterial strains and the yeast Candida albicans. The amyloidogenic peptides Aβ1-42, Aβ2-42, and Aβ3p-42 but not the non-amyloidogenic peptides Aβ1-40 and Aβ2-40 bound to microbial surfaces. As observed by immunocytochemistry, scanning electron microscopy and Gram staining, treatment of several bacterial strains and Candida albicans with Aβ peptide variants ending at position 42 (Aβx-42) caused the formation of large agglutinates. These aggregates were not detected after incubation with Aβx-40. Furthermore, Aβx-42 exerted an antimicrobial activity on all tested pathogens, killing up to 80% of microorganisms within 6 h. Aβ1-40 only had a moderate antimicrobial activity against C. albicans. Agglutination of Aβ1-42 was accelerated in the presence of microorganisms. These data demonstrate that the amyloidogenic Aβx-42 variants have antimicrobial activity and may therefore act as antimicrobial peptides in the immune system.

PLOS ONE: Huntingtons Disease Mice Infected with Toxoplasma gondii Demonstrate Early Kynurenine Pathway Activation, Altered CD8+ T-Cell Responses, and Premature Mortality

Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by a polyglutamine-repeat expansion in the huntingtin protein. Activation of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan degradation is implicated in the pathogenesis of HD. Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) catalyzes the oxidation of tryptophan to kynurenine, the first step in this pathway. The prevalent, neuroinvasive protozoal pathogen Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) results in clinically silent life-long infection in immune-competent individuals. T. gondii infection results in activation of IDO which provides some protection against the parasite by depleting tryptophan which the parasite cannot synthesize. The kynurenine pathway may therefore represent a point of synergism between HD and T. gondii infection. We show here that IDO activity is elevated at least four-fold in frontal cortex and striata of non-infected N171-82Q HD mice at 14-weeks corresponding to early–advanced HD. T. gondii infection at 5 weeks resulted in elevation of cortical IDO activity in HD mice. HD-infected mice died significantly earlier than wild-type infected and HD control mice. Prior to death, infected HD mice demonstrated decreased CD8+ T-lymphocyte proliferation in brain and spleen compared to wild-type infected mice. We demonstrate for the first time that HD mice have an altered response to an infectious agent that is characterized by premature mortality, altered immune responses and early activation of IDO. Findings are relevant to understanding how T. gondii infection may interact with pathways mediating neurodegeneration in HD.

Genotoxicity Studies of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) in the Brain of Mice. - PubMed - NCBI

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) are excessively used and represent one of the top five most commonly used nanoparticles worldwide. Recently, various studies referred to their toxic potential on various organs using different treatment route. Male Swiss Webster mice were orally administrated TiO2NPs (500 mg/kg b.w.) daily for five consecutive days and then animals were sacrificed at 24 h, 7 days, or 14 days after the last treatment. The present results report that exposure to TiO2NPs produces mild to moderate changes in the cytoarchitecture of brain tissue in a time dependent manner. Moreover, Comet assay revealed the apoptotic DNA fragmentation, while PCR-SSCP pattern and direct sequencing showed point mutation of Presenilin 1 gene at exon 5, gene linked to inherited forms of the Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, from these findings, the present study concluded that TiO2NPs is genotoxic and mutagenic to brain tissue which in turn might lead to Alzheimer's disease incidence.

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What Sensory Receptors Do Outside of Sense Organs | The Scientist Magazine®

Odor, taste, and light receptors are present in many different parts of the body, and they have surprisingly diverse functions.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Highly Exposed PM2.5 Urbanites: The Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases in Young Mexico City Residents - IOS Press

Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) above US EPA standards is associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk, while Mn toxicity induces parkinsonism. Mexico City Metropolitan Area (MCMA) children have pre- and postnatal sustained and high exposures to PM2.5, O3, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals. Young MCMA residents exhibit frontal tau hyperphosphorylation and amyloid-β (Aβ)1 - 42 diffuse plaques, and aggregated and hyperphosphorylated α-synuclein in olfactory nerves and key brainstem nuclei. We measured total prion protein (TPrP), total tau (T-tau), tau phosphorylated at threonine 181 (P-Tau), Aβ1–42, α-synuclein (t-α-syn and d-α-synuclein), BDNF, insulin, leptin, and/or inflammatory mediators, in 129 normal CSF samples from MCMA and clean air controls. Aβ1–42 and BDNF concentrations were significantly lower in MCMA children versus controls (p = 0.005 and 0.02, respectively). TPrP increased with cumulative PM2.5 up to 5 μg/m3 and then decreased, regardless of cumulative value or age (R2 = 0.56). TPrP strongly correlated with T-Tau and P-Tau, while d-α-synuclein showed a significant correlation with TNFα, IL10, and IL6 in MCMA children. Total synuclein showed an increment in childhood years related to cumulated PM2.5, followed by a decrease after age 12 years (R2 = 0.47), while d-α-synuclein exhibited a tendency to increase with cumulated PM2.5 (R2 = 0.30). CSF Aβ1–42, BDNF, α-synuclein, and TPrP changes are evolving in young MCMA urbanites historically showing underperformance in cognitive processes, odor identification deficits, downregulation of frontal cellular PrP, and neuropathological AD and PD hallmarks. Neuroprotection of young MCMA residents ought to be a public health priority."

Potentially harmful chemicals widespread in household dust

Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, according to a study led by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. The multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the United States to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust. They found that DEHP, a chemical belonging to a hazardous class called phthalates, was number one on that list. In addition, the researchers found that phthalates overall were found at the highest levels in dust followed by phenols and flame retardant chemicals."

Functional characterization of alpha-synuclein protein with antimicrobial activity.

Alpha-synuclein (α-Syn), a small (14 kDa) protein associated with Parkinson's disease, is abundant in human neural tissues. α-Syn plays an important role in maintaining a supply of synaptic vesicles in presynaptic terminals; however, the mechanism by which it performs this function are not well understood. In addition, there is a correlation between α-Syn over-expression and upregulation of an innate immune response. Given the growing body of literature surrounding antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in the brain, and the similarities between α-Syn and a previously characterized AMP, Amyloid-β, we set out to investigate if α-Syn shares AMP-like properties. Here we demonstrate that α-Syn exhibits antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, we demonstrate a role for α-Syn in inhibiting various pathogenic fungal strains such as Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus and Rhizoctonia solani. We also analyzed localizations of recombinant α-Syn protein in E. coli and Candida albicans. These results suggest that in addition to α-Syn's role in neurotransmitter release, it appears to be a natural AMP.

A preliminary investigation on the relationship between gut microbiota and gene expressions in peripheral mononuclear cells of infants with autism

Fecal and blood samples of infants with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and healthy infants were analyzed to investigate the association of altered gut microbiota and ASD development. 16S rRNA gene-based sequencing found that, unlike those of healthy infants, feces of ASD infants had significantly higher and lower abundance of genera Faecalibacterium and Blautia, respectively. Moreover, DNA microarray analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) detected more highly than low expressed genes in ASD infants than in healthy infants. Gene Ontology analysis revealed that differentially expressed genes between ASD and healthy infants were involved in interferon (IFN)-γ and type-I IFN signaling pathways. Finally, strong positive correlations between expression of IFN signaling-associated genes in PBMC and fecal abundance of Faecalibacterium were found. Our results strongly suggested that altered gut microbiota in infants resulted from ASD development and was associated with systemic immunity dysregulation, especially chronic inflammation.

Esketamine produces rapid effects in treatment-resistant depression - Medical News Today

A new study in Biological Psychiatry reports that esketamine, a component of the general anesthetic ketamine, shows rapid and significant improvement in depressive symptoms in patients who do not respond to currently available therapies. The study aimed to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of esketamine in hopes to fulfill a long-awaited clinical need for therapies that can crack treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine piqued researchers' interest when a study demonstrated that low doses of the drug have rapid antidepressant effects, alleviating symptoms within just 2 hours. This stood in stark contrast to conventional antidepressant drugs, which can take 1 to 3 months to produce an effect. In addition, ketamine appeared to work in patients who did not see improvement in symptoms with conventional antidepressant drugs, about one third of patients with major depressive disorder."