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Atherogenic Index as a Cardiovascular Biomarker in Mexican Workers from Marginalized Urban Areas Occupationally Exposed to Metals

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the main causes of death and disability worldwide. The etiology of CVD is often associated with multiple risk factors, with environmental factors receiving considerable attention. Individuals with precarious jobs are among the groups most affected by chronic exposure to environmental pollutants. This study aimed to evaluate occupational exposure to heavy metals among individuals in precarious job settings and investigate atherogenic indices as biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. A total of 137 workers participated in this cross-sectional study conducted in three work environments in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Urine and blood samples were collected to assess metal exposure and biochemical profiles, including atherogenic indices. The results showed that workers in the brick sector exhibited the highest levels of metal exposure, particularly arsenic (44.06 µg/L), followed by stonecutters and garbage collectors (24.7 and 16.9 µg/L, respectively). Similarly, Castelli risk index (CRI) and the atherogenic index of plasma (AIP) were higher in brickmakers (3.883 and 0.499) compared to stonecutters (3.285 and 0.386) and garbage collectors (3.329 and 0.367). Evidence of exposure to heavy metals was observed in the three populations, in addition to the fact that individuals with greater exposure to arsenic also exhibited higher CRI and AIP.

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Impaired Ischemia-Reperfusion Responses in the Hearts of Aged Male and Female Offspring of Obese Rats

Maternal obesity predisposes offspring (F1) to cardiovascular disease. To evaluate basal heart function and ischemia-reperfusion (IR) responses in F1 males and females of obese mothers, female Wistar rats (F0) were fed chow or an obesogenic (MO) diet from weaning through pregnancy and lactation. Non-sibling F1 males and females were weaned to chow at postnatal day (PND) 21 and euthanized at PND 550. Offspring of MO mothers (MOF1) rarely survive beyond PND 650. Hearts were immediately isolated from euthanized F1s and subjected to 30 min ischemia with 20 min reperfusion. Retroperitoneal fat, serum triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance were measured. Baseline left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP) was lower in male and female MOF1 than in controls. After global ischemia, LVDP in control (C) male and female F1 recovered 78 and 83%, respectively, while recovery in MO male and female F1 was significantly lower at 28 and 52%, respectively. Following the IR challenge, MO hearts showed a higher functional susceptibility to reperfusion injury, resulting in lower cardiac reserve than controls in both sexes. Female hearts were more resistant to IR. Retroperitoneal fat was increased in male MOF1 vs. CF1. Circulating triglycerides and insulin resistance were increased in male and female MOF1 vs. CF1. These data show that MO programming reduces F1 cardiac reserve associated with age-related insulin resistance in a sex-specific manner.

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High Prevalence of Familial Hypercholesterolemia Due to the Founder Effect of the LDLR c.2271del Variant in Communities of Oaxaca, Mexico

In Mexico, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is underdiagnosed, but population screening in small communities where at least one homozygous patient has already been detected results in a useful and inexpensive approach to reduce this problem. Considering that we previously reported nine homozygous cases from the state of Oaxaca, we decided to perform a population screening to identify patients with FH and to describe both their biochemical and genetic characteristics. LDL cholesterol (LDLc) was quantified in 2,093 individuals from 11 communities in Oaxaca; either adults with LDLc levels ≥170 mg/dL or children with LDLc ≥130 mg/dL were classified as suggestive of FH and therefore included in the genetic study. LDLR and APOB (547bp fragment of exon 26) genes were screened by sequencing and MLPA analysis. Two hundred and five individuals had suggestive FH, with a mean LDLc of 223 ± 54 mg/dL (range: 131-383 mg/dL). Two pathogenic variants in the LDLR gene were detected in 149 individuals: c.-139_-130del (n = 1) and c.2271del (n = 148). All patients had a heterozygous genotype. With the cascade screening of their relatives (n = 177), 15 heterozygous individuals for the c.2271del variant were identified, presenting a mean LDLc of 133 ± 35 mg/dL (range: 60-168 mg/dL). The FH frequency in this study was 7.8% (164/2093), the highest reported worldwide. A founder effect combined with inbreeding could be responsible for the high percentage of patients with the LDLR c.2271del variant (99.4%), which allowed us to detect both significant biochemical heterogeneity and incomplete penetrance; hence, we assumed the presence of phenotype-modifying variants.

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Screening the General Population for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Model Development and Validation

The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasing worldwide. Screening the general population for this may help to select appropriate diagnostic and preventive measures before disease progression. We aimed to develop a screening method to identify patients with NAFLD in the general population. We analyzed cross-sectional data from a large Japanese study of NAFLD. Principal component analysis was used to analyze the data. Candidate predictors were patients' demographic, clinical, and laboratory characteristics. The resulting model was externally validated using three data sets from different populations. Of 15,464 (54.5% men) included patients, 2,741 (17.7%) had NAFLD as determined by ultrasonography. An index was calculated as the arithmetic mean of the scaled body mass index and serum triglyceride levels for both men and women. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, sensitivity, specificity, and false positive rate were 0.875, 0.824, 0.770, and 17.6%, respectively. The mean index values were significantly different between the patients with and without non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (p <0.001). The odds ratio of the index cutoff was 15.6 (95% confidence interval [CI]:14.05, 17.39). The model yielded areas under the curve of 0.828, 0.851, and 0.836 for a Chinese (N = 2,319), an Iranian (N = 2,160), and a Brazilian (N = 45,029) data set, respectively. The proposed composite index demonstrated high performance and generalizability, suggesting its potential use as a screening tool for NAFLD in the general population.

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Motor, Cognitive, and Behavioral Impairment in TLR3 and TLR9 Deficient Male Mice: Insights into the Non-Immunological Roles of Toll-Like Receptors

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in initiating the innate immune response to infection or injury. Recent studies have uncovered their intriguing functions as moonlighting proteins involved in various biological processes, including development, learning, and memory. However, the specific functions of individual TLRs are still largely unknown. We investigated the effects of TLR3 and TLR9 receptor deficiency on motor, cognitive, and behavioral functions during development using genetically modified male mice of different ages. We evaluated the motor coordination, anxiety-like behavior, spatial learning, and working memory of male mice lacking the TLR3 and TLR9 genes at different ages (two, four, six, and eight months) using the rotarod, open field, water maze, and T-maze tests. We observed that the deletion of either TLR3 or TLR9 resulted in impaired motor performance. Furthermore, young TLR3-deficient mice exhibited reduced anxiety-like behavior and spatial learning deficits; however, their working memory was unaffected. In contrast, young TLR9-knockout mice showed hyperactivity and a tendency toward decreased working memory. These findings provide valuable insights into the broader roles of the TLR system beyond the innate immune response, revealing its involvement in pathways associated with the central nervous system. Importantly, our results establish a strong association between the endosomal receptors TLR3 and TLR9 and the performance of motor, cognitive, and behavioral tasks that change over time. This study contributes to the growing body of research on the multifaceted functions of TLRs and enhances our understanding of their participation in non-immune-related processes.

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Biomarkers of Physical and Mental Health for Prediction of Parkinson's Disease: A Population-Based Study from 15 European Countries

Early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD) is critical for optimal treatment. However, the predictive potential of physical and mental health in PD is poorly characterized. We evaluated the potential of multiple demographic, physical, and mental factors in predicting the future onset of PD in older adults aged 50 years or older from 15 European countries. Individual study participants were followed over four waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) from 2013-2020. Of 57,980 study participants, 442 developed PD during the study period. We identified male sex and advancing age from the sixth decade of life onward as significant predictors of future PD. Among physical factors, a low handgrip strength (HGS; men <27 kg, women <16 kg), being bothered by frailty, and recent falls were significantly associated with future PD. Among mental factors, a higher depression (Euro-D depression score >6) emerged as an independent predictor of future PD. Finally, the presence of hypertension or Alzheimer's disease (AD) increases the risk of future PD. Altogether, male sex, advancing age, low HGS, frailty, depression, hypertension, and AD were identified as critical risk factors for future PD. Our results may be useful in the early identification and treatment of populations at risk for PD.

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Effect of Fibrate Treatment on Circulating Adipokine Levels: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials

Fibrates are widely used in the treatment of dyslipidemia and associated metabolic abnormalities; however, their effects on adipokines are unclear. This meta-analysis of clinical trials aimed to evaluate the effect of fibrates on circulating adipokine levels. Only randomized controlled trials investigating the impact/effect of fibrate treatment on circulating adipokine levels were included from searches in PubMed-Medline, SCOPUS, ClinicalTrials.gov, Web of Science, and Google Scholar databases. A random effects model and the generic inverse variance method were used for the meta-analysis. Sensitivity analysis was conducted using the leave-one-out method. This meta-analysis of 22 clinical trials showed a significant reduction on/in leptin (WMD: -1.58 ng/mL, 95% CI: -2.96, -0.20, p = 0.02, I2 = 0%), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) (WMD: -13.86 ng/mL, 95% CI: -26.70, -1.03, p = 0.03, I2 = 99%), and visfatin (WMD: -1.52 ng/mL, 95% CI: -2.49, -0.56, p = 0.002, I2 = 0%) after fibrate therapy; no significant effect was observed on adiponectin (WMD: -0.69 µg/ml, 95% CI: -1.40, 0.02, p = 0.06, I2 = 83%) and resistin (WMD: -2.27 ng/mL, 95% CI: -7.11, 2.57, p = 0.36, I2 = 0%). The sensitivity analysis was robust only for visfatin, while the effect size was sensitive to one arm for leptin, four for adiponectin, and two for PAI-1. This meta-analysis showed that fibrate treatment significantly improves adipokine levels with a decrease in leptin, PAI-1, and visfatin, suggesting potential additional clinical therapeutic benefits through/of fibrate treatment on adipose tissue.

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Traumatic Human Spinal Cord Injury: Are Single Treatments Enough to Solve the Problem?

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) results in partial or complete motor deficits, such as paraplegia, tetraplegia, and sphincter control, as well as sensory disturbances and autonomic dysregulation such as arterial hypotension, lack of sweating, and alterations in skin lability. All this has a strong psychological impact on the affected person and his/her family, as well as costs to healthcare institutions with an economic burden in the short, medium, and long terms. Despite at least forty years of experimental animal studies and several clinical trials with different therapeutic strategies, effective therapy is not universally accepted. Most of the published works on acute and chronic injury use a single treatment, such as medication, trophic factor, transplant of a cell type, and so on, to block some secondary injury mechanisms or promote some mechanisms of structural/functional restoration. However, despite significant results in experimental models, the outcome is a moderate improvement in muscle strength, sensation, or eventually in sphincter control, which has been considered non-significant in human clinical trials. Here we present a brief compilation of successful individual treatments that have been applied to secondary mechanisms of action. These studies show limited neuroprotective or neurorestorative approaches in animal models and clinical trials. Thus, the few benefits achieved so far represent a rationale to further explore other strategies that seek better structural and functional restoration of the injured spinal cord.

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