A SARS-CoV2 super-spreading event occurred during carnival in a small town in Germany. Due to the rapidly imposed lockdown and its relatively closed community, this town was seen as an ideal model to investigate the infection fatality rate (IFR). Here, a 7-day seroepidemiological observational study was performed to collect information and biomaterials from a random, household-based study population. The number of infections was determined by IgG analyses and PCR testing. We found that of the 919 individuals with evaluable infection status, 15.5% (95% CI:[12.3%; 19.0%]) were infected. This is a fivefold higher rate than the reported cases for this community (3.1%). 22.2% of all infected individuals were asymptomatic. The estimated IFR was 0.36% (95% CI:[0.29%; 0.45%]) for the community and 0.35% [0.28%; 0.45%] when age-standardized to the population of the community. Participation in carnival increased both infection rate (21.3% versus 9.5%, p < 0.001) and number of symptoms (estimated relative mean increase 1.6, p = 0.007). While the infection rate here is not representative for Germany, the IFR is useful to estimate the consequences of the pandemic in places with similar healthcare systems and population characteristics. Whether the super-spreading event not only increases the infection rate but also affects the IFR requires further investigation.
The biological mechanisms underlying long-term partner bonds in humans are unclear. The evolutionarily conserved neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) is associated with the formation of partner bonds in some species via interactions with brain dopamine reward systems. However, whether it plays a similar role in humans has as yet not been established. Here, we report the results of a discovery and a replication study, each involving a double-blind, placebocontrolled, within-subject, pharmaco-functional MRI experiment with 20 heterosexual pair-bonded male volunteers. In both experiments, intranasal OXT treatment (24 IU) made subjects perceive their female partner's face as more attractive compared with unfamiliar women but had no effect on the attractiveness of other familiar women. This enhanced positive partner bias was paralleled by an increased response to partner stimuli compared with unfamiliar women in brain reward regions including the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). In the left NAcc, OXT even augmented the neural response to the partner compared with a familiar woman, indicating that this finding is partner-bond specific rather than due to familiarity. Taken together, our results suggest that OXT could contribute to romantic bonds in men by enhancing their partner's attractiveness and reward value compared with other women.emotion | functional imaging | love | monogamy L ove and enduring romantic bonds can bring the elation of profound joy and pleasure but also, when broken, the deepest sorrow and despair. Although love is the source of a large variety of emotions and feelings and celebrated in all human cultures by countless works of art, as yet surprisingly little is known about the neurobiological underpinnings of long-term pair bonds (i.e., enduring attachments between sexual partners) in humans.Indeed, very few other mammalian species [∼3-5% (1)] exhibit pair bonds, with the most investigated species being the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) (2). In prairie voles, partner bonds are formed after the neuropeptides oxytocin (OXT) or arginine vasopressin (AVP) are released in the brain during mating. Their effects on bonding are mediated via interactions with dopamine (DA) release, particularly in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Furthermore, in different species of voles, a monogamous, as opposed to polygamous, pattern of behavior is associated with a higher density of dopamine D2 receptors (D2R) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) (3) and of OXT receptors (OXTR) in mPFC, NAcc, and caudate putamen (4, 5). In prairie voles, D2R activation in the NAcc facilitates a partner preference and bond formation in the absence of mating in both sexes (6), whereas the direct injection of OXT into the NAcc (7) does so in females and of AVP into the lateral septum of males (8). Conversely, the infusion of an AVP antagonist into the ventral pallidum of male prairie voles prevents partner preference formation (9). However, nonspecific intracerebroventricular administr...
This review summarizes the current knowledge of the biosynthesis of neurosteroids in the human brain, the enzymes mediating these reactions, their localization and the putative effects of neurosteroids. Molecular biological and biochemical studies have now firmly established the presence of the steroidogenic enzymes cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage (P450SCC), aromatase, 5alpha-reductase, 3alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in human brain. The functions attributed to specific neurosteroids include modulation of gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA), N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), nicotinic, muscarinic, serotonin (5-HT3), kainate, glycine and sigma receptors, neuroprotection and induction of neurite outgrowth, dendritic spines and synaptogenesis. The first clinical investigations in humans produced evidence for an involvement of neuroactive steroids in conditions such as fatigue during pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, post partum depression, catamenial epilepsy, depressive disorders and dementia disorders. Better knowledge of the biochemical pathways of neurosteroidogenesis and their actions on the brain seems to open new perspectives in the understanding of the physiology of the human brain as well as in the pharmacological treatment of its disturbances.
Social communication through touch and mutual grooming can convey highly salient socio-emotional signals and has been shown to involve the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) in several species. Less is known about the modulatory influence of OXT on the neural and emotional responses to human interpersonal touch. The present randomized placebo (PLC)-controlled within-subject pharmacofunctional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was designed to test the hypothesis that a single intranasal dose of synthetic OXT (24 IU) would facilitate both neural and emotional responses to interpersonal touch in a context-(female vs male touch) and trait-(autistic trait load) specific manner. Specifically, the experimental rationale was to manipulate the reward value of interpersonal touch independent of the intensity and type of actual cutaneous stimulation administered. Thus, 40 heterosexual males believed that they were touched by either a man or a woman, although in fact an identical pattern of touch was always given by the same female experimenter blind to condition type. Our results show that OXT increased the perceived pleasantness of female, but not male touch, and associated neural responses in insula, precuneus, orbitofrontal, and pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. Moreover, the behavioral and neural effects of OXT were negatively correlated with autistic-like traits. Taken together, this is the first study to show that the perceived hedonic value of human heterosexual interpersonal touch is facilitated by OXT in men, but that its behavioral and neural effects in this context are blunted in individuals with autistic traits.
A relationship between haemophilia and osteoporosis has been suggested, leading to the initiative for a larger study assessing this issue. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by osteodensitometry using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) in 62 male patients with severe haemophilia A; mean age 41 +/- 13.1 years, mean body mass index (BMI) 23.5 +/- 3.6 kg m(-2). Using the clinical score suggested by the World Federation of Hemophilia, all patients were assessed to determine the severity of their arthropathy. A reduced BMD defined as osteopenia and osteoporosis by World Health Organization criteria was detected in 27/62 (43.5%) and 16/62 (25.8%) patients, respectively. Fifty-five of sixty-two (88.7%) patients suffered from haemophilic arthropathy. An increased number of affected joints and/or an increased severity were associated with lower BMD in the neck of femur. Pronounced muscle atrophy and loss of joint movement were also associated with low BMD. Furthermore, hepatitis C, low BMI and age were found to be additional risk factors for reduced BMD in the haemophiliac. Our data shows that in haemophilic patients osteoporosis represents a frequent concomitant observation. The main cause for reduced bone mass in the haemophiliac is most probably the haemophilic arthropathy being typically associated with chronic pain and loss of joint function subsequently leading to inactivity. Further studies including control groups are necessary to elucidate the impact of comorbidities such as hepatitis C or HIV on the development of osteoporosis in the haemophiliac.
This paper summarizes the current knowledge concerning the biosynthesis of neurosteroids in the human brain, the enzymes mediating these reactions, their localization, and the putative effects of neurosteroids. The presence of the steroidogenic enzymes cytochrome P450(SCC), aromatase, 5alpha-reductase, 3alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, and 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in the human brain has now been firmly established by molecular biological and biochemical studies. Their presence in the cerebral cortex and in the subcortical white matter indicates that various cell types, either neurons or glial cells, are involved in the biosynthesis of neuroactive steroids in the brain. The following functions are attributed to specific neurosteroids: modulation of GABA(A), N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), nicotinic, muscarinic, serotonin (5-HT(3)), kainate, glycine and sigma receptors, neuroprotection and induction of neurite outgrowth, dendritic spines, and synaptogenesis. We still do not know whether and how the steroidogenic enzymes are involved in the pathophysiology of the nervous system. The first clinical investigations in humans produced evidence for an involvement of neuroactive steroids in conditions such as fatigue during pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression, catamenial epilepsy, and depressive disorders. Further and improved knowledge of the biochemical pathways of neurosteroidogenesis and their actions on the brain may enable new perspectives in the understanding of the physiology of the human brain as well as in the pharmacological treatment of its disturbances.
In rodents, cyclically fluctuating levels of gonadal steroid hormones modulate neural plasticity by altering synaptic transmission and synaptogenesis. Alterations of mood and cognition observed during the menstrual cycle suggest that steroid-related plasticity also occurs in humans. Cycle phase-dependent differences in cognitive performance have almost exclusively been found in tasks probing lateralized neuronal domains, i.e., cognitive domains such as language, which are predominantly executed by one hemisphere. To search for neural correlates of hormonally mediated neural plasticity in humans, we thus conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging study measuring brain activity related to a semantic decision task in the language domain. This was contrasted with a letter-matching task in the perceptual domain, in which we expected no steroid hormone-mediated effect. We investigated 12 young healthy women in a counterbalanced repeated-measure design during low-steroid menstruation and high-steroid midluteal phase. Steroid serum levels correlated with the volume and lateralization of particular brain activations related to the semantic task but not with brain activity related to the perceptual task. More specifically, bilateral superior temporal recruitment correlated positively with progesterone and medial superior frontal recruitment with both progesterone and estradiol serum levels, whereas activations in inferior and middle frontal cortex were unaffected by steroid levels. In contrast to these specific interactions, testosterone levels correlated nonselectively with overall activation levels by neural and/or vascular factor(s). In conclusion, our data demonstrate steroid hormone responsivity in the adult human brain by revealing neural plasticity in the language domain, which appears hormone, task, and region specific.
Summary:Purpose: To evaluate the changes in serum sex hormones of gonadal or adrenal origin, the gonadotropic hormones, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in men and women with chronic temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), who are undergoing monotherapy with carbamazepine or receiving carbamazepine in combination with other anticonvulsant drugs.Methods: Gonadal hormones (estradiol, testosterone, free testosterone, and inhibin B), adrenal hormones [cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), androstenedione, and 17a-hydroxyprogesterone], and gonadotropic hormones (luteinizing hormone [LH] and follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH]) were measured in 22 women and 26 men with TLE. The study also measured prolactin; human growth hormone and its major mediator, insulin-like growth factor-I; thyroid hormones (free thyroxine and free triiodothyronine); thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH); and SHBG. The results were compared with those obtained from 60 healthy women and 106 healthy men.Results: In the female patients, TSH, DHEAS, follicularphase LH, and luteal-phase estradiol were significantly lower than in the control groups, with prolactin and SHBG significantly higher. In the male patients, DHEAS, 17a-hydroxyprogesterone, free testosterone, inhibin B, and the testosteroneLH ratio were significantly lower than in the control group, with LH, FSH, and SHBG significantly higher. Increased FSH in 31% of the men indicates an impairment of spermatogenesis; lowered inhibin B in 12% indicates an impaired Sertoli's cell function; and the decreased testosteroneLH ratio in 50% indicates an impaired Leydig's cell function. Conclusions:The case patients had endocrine disorders, mainly concerning the gonadotropic and gonadal functions in both sexes; the adrenal function, with lowered DHEAS levels in both sexes; and lowered 17a-hydroxyprogesterone levels in the men. SHBG levels were increased in patients taking anticonvulsant medications.
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