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Research Roundup

Posted by on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Around the Medical Center, Spring 2022 .

White matter and psychosis

Thalamocortical white matter connectivity in the brain is disrupted during psychosis, which can contribute to cognitive impairment, but little is known about its association with cognition during adolescence.

In a study characterizing the effects of age, sex, psychosis symptomology and cognition in thalamocortical networks in a large sample of 316 typically developing youths, 330 youths on the psychosis spectrum and 498 youths with other psychopathology, Suzanne Avery, PhD, and colleagues sought to quantify connectivity between the thalamus and six cortical regions and assess microstructural properties of thalamocortical white matter tracts.

The researchers reported in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging that percent total connectivity of the thalamus was weakly associated with age and was not associated with psychopathology or cognition. Fractional anisotropy of thalamocortical tracts increased with age, was higher in males and lowest in youths on the psychosis spectrum.



Oral microbes and gastric cancer

The oral microbiota — the collection of microbial species in the mouth — has been associated with gastric cancer risk, but previous studies have been limited by the design and methodology for characterizing microbes.

Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, and colleagues have now explored the relationship between the oral microbiota and gastric cancer risk in a prospective case-control study in three populations (Shanghai Women’s Health Study, Shanghai Men’s Health Study, Southern Community Cohort Study). They used shotgun metagenomic sequencing to comprehensively characterize all organisms present in buccal (cheek) samples collected at enrollment from 165 people later diagnosed with gastric cancer and 323 matched controls.

The researchers found that decreased overall microbial diversity, altered abundance of several taxa, and multiple microbial functional markers were associated with gastric cancer risk. The top two gene families and pathways associated with decreased risk are involved in hexitol metabolism.

The findings, reported in the International Journal of Cancer, support a role for the oral microbiota in gastric cancer development.



Ensuring the “best possible” medication history

Best Possible Medication History (BPMH) is a systematic process of gathering a medication history from at least two independent sources, including pharmacy records, patient interviews and other sources to ensure patients are receiving the drugs they have been prescribed and in the correct dosages.

This is particularly important for older patients, many of whom are taking 10 or more medications dispensed by more than one pharmacy.

In applying BPMH to 372 older hospitalized adults, Avantika Saraf Shah, MPH, Eduard Vasilevskis, MD, MPH, and colleagues found that 80% of admission electronic records were missing a drug that had been prescribed, 41% listed a drug that could not be verified on recent pharmacy records, and 36% listed a differing dose of a medication.

The findings were reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.