DigitalCommons@The Texas Medical Center

    Deciphering the C-Type Lectin Receptor Signaling Pathway in Macrophages in Response to Candida albicans

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    Candida albicans causes opportunistic fungal infections in humans and is a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in immune-compromised individuals. Dectin-2, a C-type lectin receptor, is required for recognition of C. albicans by innate immune cells and is required for initiation of the anti-fungal immune response. We set out to identify components of the intracellular signaling cascade downstream of Dectin-2 activation in macrophages and to understand their importance in mediating the immune response to C. albicans in vivo. Using macrophages derived from Phospholipase-C-gamma 1 and 2 (PLCγ1and PLCγ2) knockout mice, we demonstrate that PLCγ2, but not PLCγ1, is required for activation of NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways after C. albicans stimulation, resulting in impaired production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species. PLCγ2-deficient mice are highly susceptible to infections with C. albicans, indicating the importance of this pathway to the anti-fungal immune response. TAK1 and TRAF6 are critical nodes in NF-κB and MAPK activation downstream of immune surveillance and may be critical to the signaling cascade initiated by C-type lectin receptors in response to C. albicans. Macrophages derived from both TAK1 and TRAF6-deficient mice were unable to activate NF-κB and MAPK and consequently failed to produce inflammatory cytokines characteristic of the response to C. albicans. In this work we have identified PLCγ2, TAK1 and TRAF6 as components of a signaling cascade downstream of C. albicans recognition by C-type lectin receptors and as critical mediators of the anti-fungal immune response. A mechanistic understanding of the host immune response to C. albicans is important for the development of anti-fungal therapeutics and in understanding risk-factors determining susceptibility to C. albicans infection

    Internet sex among non-gay identifying men who have sex with men

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    The aim of this study was to examine the role of the Internet in Internal Homonegativity (IH) among Non gay identifying men who have sex with men (NGI-MSM). This study at University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) had a mixed method research design and consisted of men 18 years of age and older who were residents of the US and Canada. The data were collected using an online survey called \u27Men\u27s Sexual Health Survey\u27 which was developed in collaboration with Boston University School of Public Health and Denver Public Health. These surveys were administered in English, which took 30-minutes to complete, and were placed on gay oriented websites and chat rooms. 141 participants were presented with the module relating to IH. A Principal Component Analysis with varimax rotation on the nine questions that asked the participants about their feelings about gay men produced three factors of IH identified as (1) public identification as gay; (2) perception of stigma associated with being gay; and (3) social comfort with gay men. The factors significantly correlated with age, grade completed in school, income, openness about being gay and socializing with gay people, meeting partners online, dating on the Internet, attitude toward condom usage, alcohol and drug use before sex and having unprotected sex with Internet partners. These findings point toward the role of the Internet in determining IH and sexual behavior. Despite the risks, the Internet\u27s popularity and outreach in NGI-MSM makes it an effective medium to spread public health programs

    A comparison of risky sexual behaviors between older and younger men who have sex with men in Houston, TX

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    Objectives. This study estimated the prevalence of risky sexual behaviors of older (≥ years old) and younger (18-24 years) men who have sex with men (MSM) in Houston, TX and compared the prevalence of these behaviors between the two age cohorts. Methods. Data used in this analysis were from the third MSM cycle of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Study. There were 80 older and 119 younger MSM who met the eligibility criteria. Bivariate and Multivariate analysis were performed to compare risky sexual behaviors from the past 12 months and at last sexual encounter between the two age cohorts. Results. OMSM were more likely to be Non-Hispanic White (AOR=4.17; CI: 1.46, 11.89), to have a household income last year greater than $75,000 (AOR=3.59; CI: 1.12, 11.55), and to self-report HIV-positive (AOR=7.35; CI: 2.69, 20.10) than YMSM. OMSM were less like to have had anal sex (AOR=0.11; CI: 0.04, 0.29) or a main sex partner (AOR=0.2; CI: 0.09, 0.45) than YMSM in the past 12 months. Among MSM who had anal sex at last sexual encounter, OMSM were more likely to have not used a condom the entire time regardless of partner type (AOR=3.64; CI: 1.54, 8.61), not used a condom the entire time with a causal sex partner (AOR=7.72; CI: 1.76, 33.92), had unprotected insertive anal intercourse (AOR=2.92; CI: 1.1, 7.75), and used alcohol before or during sex (AOR=5.33; CI: 2.15, 13.2) than YMSM. YMSM and OMSM did not different significantly in knowledge of last sex partner\u27s HIV status. Conclusions. This is not a homogeneous sample of OMSM and risky sexual behaviors vary within the group. There were many similarities in risk behavior between OMSM and YMSM but also some key differences in partner type and condom use indicating a need for increased age-appropriate health promotion programs to limit a potential increase in HIV infection among OMSM

    Quality Data is Key to Improving Education

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    The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) has been focused since 2005 on advocating for states to build robust state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). While states have made great progress in their data infrastructure, and should continue to emphasize this work, t data systems alone will not improve outcomes. It is time for both DQC and states to focus on building capacity to use the information that these systems are producing at every level – from classrooms to state houses. To impact system performance and student achievement, the ingrained culture must be replaced with one that focuses on data use for continuous improvement. The effective use of data to inform decisions, provide transparency, improve the measurement of outcomes, and fuel continuous improvement will not come to fruition unless there is a system wide focus on building capacity around the collection, analysis, dissemination, and use of this data, including through research

    Alternative Strategies for Identifying High-Performing Charter Schools in Texas

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    The Obama administration\u27s recurring policy emphasis on high-performing charter schools begs the obvious question: how do you identify a high-performing charter school? That is a crucially important policy question because any evaluation strategy that incorrectly identifies charter school performance could have negative effects on the economically and/or academically disadvantaged students who frequently attend charter schools. If low-performing schools are mislabeled and allowed to persist or encouraged to expand, then students may be harmed directly. If high-performing schools are driven from the market by misinformation, then students will lose access to programs and services that can make a difference in their lives. Most of the scholarly analysis to date has focused on comparing the performance of students in charter schools to that of similar students in traditional public schools (TPS). By design, that research measures charter school performance only in relative terms. Charter schools that outperform similarly situated, but low performing, TPSs have positive effects, even if the charter schools are mediocre in an absolute sense. This analysis describes strategies for identifying high-performing charter schools by comparing charter schools with one another. We begin by describing salient characteristics of Texas charter schools. We follow that discussion with a look at how other researchers across the country have compared charter school effectiveness with TPS effectiveness. We then present several metrics that can be used to identify high-performing charter schools. Those metrics are not mutually exclusive—one could easily justify using multiple measures to evaluate school effectiveness—but they are also not equally informative. If the goal is to measure the contributions that schools are making to student knowledge and skills, then a value-added approach like the ones highlighted in this report is clearly superior to a levels-based approach like that taken under the current accountability system

    Frequencies and risk factors for bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw in cancer patients: A matched case-control study

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    Bisphosphonates represent a unique class of drugs that effectively treat and prevent a variety of bone-related disorders including metastatic bone disease and osteoporosis. High tolerance and high efficacy rates quickly ranked bisphosphonates as the standard of care for bone-related diseases. However, in the early 2000s, case reports began to surface that linked bisphosphonates with osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). Since that time, studies conducted have corroborated the linkage. However, as with most disease states, many factors can contribute to the onset of disease. The aim of this study was to determine which comorbid factors presented an increased risk for developing ONJ in cancer patients. Using a case-control study design, investigators used a combination of ICD-9 codes and chart review to identify confirmed cases of ONJ at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC). Each case was then matched to five controls based on age, gender, race/ethnicity, and primary cancer diagnosis. Data querying and chart review provided information on variables of interest. These variables included bisphosphonate exposure, glucocorticoids exposure, smoking history, obesity, and diabetes. Statistical analysis was conducted using PASW (Predictive Analytics Software) Statistics, Version 18 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois). One hundred twelve (112) cases were identified as confirmed cases of ONJ. Variables were run using univariate logistic regression to determine significance (p \u3c .05); significant variables were included in the final conditional logistic regression model. Concurrent use of bisphosphonates and glucocorticoids (OR, 18.60; CI, 8.85 to 39.12; p \u3c .001), current smokers (OR, 2.52; CI, 1.21 to 5.25; p = .014), and presence of diabetes (OR, 1.84; CI, 1.06 to 3.20; p = .030) were found to increase the risk for developing ONJ. Obesity was not associated significantly with ONJ development. In this study, cancer patients that received bisphosphonates as part of their therapeutic regimen were found to have an 18-fold increase in their risk of developing ONJ. Other factors included smoking and diabetes. More studies examining the concurrent use of glucocorticoids and bisphosphonates may be able to strengthen any correlations

    Regression with autocorrelated data: A study of time trend of global infant mortality rate

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    The infant mortality rate (IMR) is considered to be one of the most important indices of a country\u27s well-being. Countries around the world and other health organizations like the World Health Organization are dedicating their resources, knowledge and energy to reduce the infant mortality rates. The well-known Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), whose aim is to archive a two thirds reduction of the under-five mortality rate between 1990 and 2015, is an example of the commitment. In this study our goal is to model the trends of IMR between the 1950s to 2010s for selected countries. We would like to know how the IMR is changing overtime and how it differs across countries. IMR data collected over time forms a time series. The repeated observations of IMR time series are not statistically independent. So in modeling the trend of IMR, it is necessary to account for these correlations. We proposed to use the generalized least squares method in general linear models setting to deal with the variance-covariance structure in our model. In order to estimate the variance-covariance matrix, we referred to the time-series models, especially the autoregressive and moving average models. Furthermore, we will compared results from general linear model with correlation structure to that from ordinary least squares method without taking into account the correlation structure to check how significantly the estimates change

    A STUDY ON THE FUNCTION OF 14-3-3SIGMA IN REGULATING CANCER ENERGY METABOLISM

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    Metabolic reprogramming has been shown to be a major cancer hallmark providing tumor cells with significant advantages for survival, proliferation, growth, metastasis and resistance against anti-cancer therapies. Glycolysis, glutaminolysis and mitochondrial biogenesis are among the most essential cancer metabolic alterations because these pathways provide cancer cells with not only energy but also crucial metabolites to support large-scale biosynthesis, rapid proliferation and tumorigenesis. In this study, we find that 14-3-3σ suppresses all these three metabolic processes by promoting the degradation of their main driver, c-Myc. In fact, 14-3-3s significantly enhances c-Myc poly-ubiquitination and subsequent degradation, reduces c-Myc transcriptional activity, and down-regulates c-Myc-induced metabolic target genes expression. Therefore, 14-3-3σ remarkably blocks glycolysis, decreases glutaminolysis and diminishes mitochondrial mass of cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo, thereby severely suppressing cancer bioenergetics and metabolism. As a result, a high level of 14-3-3σ in tumors is strongly associated with increased breast cancer patients’ overall and metastasis-free survival as well as better clinical outcomes. Thus, this study reveals a new role for 14-3-3s as a significant regulator of cancer bioenergetics and a promising target for the development of anti-cancer metabolism therapies

    ‘The best thing I’ve ever done is ring these people…’: Making a Difference through Family Support

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    Effective family support strategies offer early intervention and help for families and children at risk of experiencing social exclusion and maltreatment. This paper reports a study which evaluated client outcomes from participation in an Intensive Family Support Service by comparing views of workers and service users on perceived benefits. It profiles the characteristics and circumstances of families recruited to service, services and interventions delivered and the potential of IFSS to lead to safe and positive outcomes for children and families. Findings discussed highlight the individualized and collaborative approach and the high degree of engagement with service users that facilitated gains in the domains of child and family functioning targeted. Implications of the findings for policy and practice in responding to vulnerable families and children are discussed

    The Impact of Title IV-E Training on Case Outcomes for Children Serviced by CPS

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    This study was designed to determine if the professional social work education provided by Title IV-E stipends leads to better case outcomes for children serviced by a southern state in the U.S. Desired case outcomes included lower levels of recurrence of child maltreatment, lower levels of foster care re-entries, greater stability of foster care placements, more reunifications with families within 12 months of placement in foster care, and more adoptions within 24 months of being placed in foster care. Data were obtained from the state’s case outcome records. The findings from the study indicate that Title IV-E stipend workers had significantly better outcomes than Non-Title IV-E workers in two areas: reunifications within twelve months and finalized adoptions within twenty-four months. In addition, non-Title IV-E workers with social work degrees were significantly more likely to achieve positive outcomes regarding recurrence of maltreatment, stability of foster care placement, and length of time to achieve adoption. The study recommends that state child protective service (CPS) agencies continue to offer Title IV-E child welfare training programs and hire degreed social workers. CPS should also continue to support the Title IV-E program and encourage employees to participate in the program. In addition, it is recommended that jobs be restructured to maximize activities that positively impact case outcomes and that the salaries of CPSworkers be increased. Additional research should also be conducted to contribute to a better understanding of other factors that positively impact case outcomes
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