Low estrogen linked to coronary artery disease risk in premenopausal women

According to an article in the February 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, coronary artery disease in young women appears to be related to estrogen deficiency, and there may be a link to psychosocial stress. The findings are based on an analysis of statistics compiled from a major ongoing investigation of heart disease in women that is led by cardiac researchers in Los Angeles. “Although coronary artery disease is the leading killer of premenopausal women, taking even more lives than breast cancer does, most studies have focused on heart disease in older women. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that young women with low blood estrogen levels have a significantly greater prevalence of coronary artery disease,” said C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., the article’s first author.

Brain images reveal effects of antidepressants

The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW Medical School recently added important new information to the growing body of knowledge. For the first time, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)–technology that provides a view of the brain as it is working–to see what changes occur over time during antidepressant treatment while patients experience negative and positive emotions.

Some Alzheimer patients show unique compensatory brain activity

A group of Canadian researchers has found the most direct evidence to date that people with early-stage Alzheimer Disease can engage additional areas in the brain to perform successfully on memory tests. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects an individual’s ability to think, remember, understand and make decisions. People with early-stage Alzheimer’s begin to experience problems with their episodic and semantic memory. Semantic refers to the accumulation of general world knowledge gained over a lifetime (for example, names of countries, famous people, major historical events). Episodic refers to events that one experiences throughout his/her life (for example, having visited the dentist yesterday, or graduating from college back in 1950).

Depression related to poor health after bypass surgery

Men who are depressed before their coronary artery bypass graft surgery are more likely to be re-hospitalized or suffer pain and reduced quality of life six months after their bypass operation, compared with men who are not depressed before the surgery, according to new research. Rates of hospitalization for heart attack or artery disease rose among bypass patients with pre-operative depression, say Matthew M. Burg, Ph.D., of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and colleagues.

Bone marrow cells take on new role in the brain, say Stanford researchers

Researchers have published new evidence showing that cells from the bone marrow might help repair or maintain cells in other tissues. In a paper in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe finding chromosomes from a bone marrow transplant in the brain cells of transplant recipients. When people receive a bone marrow transplant after high-dose chemotherapy, some of the transplanted cells regenerate the blood-making cells that were destroyed. In past experiments in mice, scientists found that cells from the transplant could also relocate to tissues throughout the body rather than being restricted to the bone marrow and blood.

Chronic self-doubters likely to face wide range of problems

People who chronically doubt their judgments lead psychologically impoverished lives in a variety of ways, a new study suggests.
Such individuals often feel anxious, are prone to sadness and mood swings, and are likely to procrastinate and avoid thinking about difficult problems. “People who are dubious about their judgment are highly vulnerable,” said Herbert Mirels, primary author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “They see every important decision they make as a trial in which they are likely to find themselves deficient or to be found deficient by others.”

Protein Research Provides Clues to How Blood Clots, Wounds Heal

They are proteins that cut other proteins, enabling a wide range of essential functions such as wound healing, blood clotting and formation of muscle and nerve cells.
But serine proteases also can cut a path of destruction, contributing to the plaques involved in heart disease and Alzheimer’s and to extensive birth defects as well when something goes awry. Understanding this sort of physiological crescendo called a protease cascade is a goal of Dr. Ellen K. LeMosy, developmental biologist at the Medical College of Georgia.

Protein Linked to Movement Disorders

Using a tiny worm to model a severe childhood movement disorder, researchers have discovered the role of a protein that may have implications for a number of neurological syndromes such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. The scientists found that a mutated gene associated with early onset dystonia, a severe hereditary movement disorder, normally helps manage protein folding.

Procedure fixes heart defect that lets blood clots flow to brain

When 29-year-old Eric Lange suddenly experienced several hours of mental confusion last July, physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center naturally ordered brain scans and carotid artery studies in their first search for a cause. With the initial exams turning out OK, Eric’s neurologist pursued other clues and ended up finding a heart defect called a patent foramen ovale, or PFO. A blood clot was believed to have slipped through the defect and out of the normal route of circulation that would have filtered it in the lungs. Instead, the clot traveled to Eric’s brain and temporarily blocked the flow of blood, causing a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, which is similar to a stroke but it does not cause permanent brain damage.

Pediatric Anesthesia Causes Brain Damage in Infant Rats

A team of researchers has found that drugs commonly used to anesthetize children can cause brain damage and long-term learning and memory disturbances in infant rats. The researchers report their findings in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. “We frequently perform surgical procedures on children, including premature infants, and those procedures have become increasingly more complex and take longer to perform,” says the study’s lead author Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Virginia Health System. “That means many pediatric patients are being exposed to anesthetic drugs more frequently and for longer periods of time. Our results would suggest that might be problematic.”