Research by staff affiliated to St. James's Hospital

Recent Submissions

  • Are Janus kinase inhibitors safe and effective in treating the key clinical domains of psoriatic arthritis? A systematic review and meta-analysis.

    Harkins, Patricia; Burke, Eoghan; Swales, Catherine; Silman, Alan; Conway, Richard (2022-10-02)
    Objectives: Psoriatic arthritis (PsA), is a complex inflammatory arthropathy with a heterogenous spectrum of disease presentation. Despite the vast therapeutic armamentarium, disease control in a considerable proportion of patients is suboptimal. The aim of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi), in the management of key clinical domains of PsA including peripheral arthritis, psoriasis, enthesitis and dactylitis. Method: Randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of JAKi in PsA were identified by a systematic literature search using EMBASE, PubMed and CENTRAL. All included studies underwent meta-analysis. Results: A total of 5 RCTs were included. Patients were randomized to tofacitinib (n = 474), filgotinib (n = 65), upadacitinib (n = 1281) or placebo (n = 937). JAKi treatment was associated with superior efficacy across all primary outcome measures vs placebo: American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 (risk ratio [RR] 2.10, [95% CI 1.86-2.37], P < .00001, I2 = 19%); ACR 50 (RR 3.43, [95% CI 2.37-4.96], P < .00001, I2 = 66%); ACR 70 (RR 4.57, [95% CI 1.83-11.44], P = .001, I2 = 82%); Psoriasis Area and Severity Index 75 (RR 2.96, [95% CI 2.44-3.58], P < .00001, I2 = 0%); enthesitis resolution (RR 1.82, [95% CI 1.56-2.12], P < .00001, I2 = 0%); and dactylitis resolution (RR 1.85, [95% CI 1.57-2.16], P < .00001, I2 = 0%). JAKi were associated with an overall increased risk of adverse events (RR 1.14, [95% CI 1.07-1.21], P = .0001, I2 = 0%) with increased risk of infection (RR1.23, [95% CI 1.08-1.39], P = .001, I2 = 0%) vs placebo. Conclusion: This pooled analysis demonstrates the efficacy of JAKi in treating key clinical domains of PsA. However, they are associated with an increased risk of adverse events, including infection. Further studies are required to corroborate these findings and further elucidate the safety profile. Keywords: Janus kinase inhibitors; dactylitis; enthesitis; filgotinib; psoriasis; psoriatic arthritis; tofacitinib; upadacitinib.
  • Motivators and barriers to blood donation among potential donors of African and Caucasian ethnicity.

    Fogarty, Helen; Sardana, Muskan; Sheridan, Luke; Chieng, Phoebe; Kelly, Sarah; Ngwenya, Noel; Sheehan, Ciara; Morris, Kieran; Tuohy, Emma (2022-06-12)
    Background: Minority blood donation, especially from individuals of African ethnicity, is a focus for many countries with diverse populations. As the need for antigen-negative RBC transfusions for patients with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) continues to grow, inclusion of more African blood donors is essential to ensure this demand is met. Materials and methods: This study aims to explore barriers and motivators to blood donation and awareness of SCD among potential donors of diverse ethnic backgrounds in Ireland. Following ethical approval, patients attending the National Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia service at St James's Hospital were invited to share an online anonymous survey within their local communities to achieve snowball-sampling. Results: 387 respondents completed the survey, including 311 non-donors (median age 25 years, 67% female). Ethnic backgrounds included: African or African-Irish (59%), White or Caucasian (25%), Asian (8%), Hispanic or Latino (3%), Middle Eastern (3%), Multiracial or Biracial (2%). The most commonly identified barrier overall was lack of information on blood donation. African respondents were significantly more likely to report lack of information and malaria-related barriers than Caucasians. Motivators also varied across ethnic groups, with African respondents more likely to donate to help someone within their own community or for religious motivators. Awareness of SCD was higher among African respondents. Discussion: While some barriers to blood donation are shared across all ethnic groups including lack of information, notable differences exist between Caucasian and African respondents. Specific actions to recruit and retain African blood donors should focus on these key areas.
  • Obstetric Outcomes in Women with Rheumatic Disease and COVID-19 in the Context of Vaccination Status.

    Maguire, Sinead; Al-Emadi, Samar; Alba, Paula; Aguiar, Mathia Cecilia; Lawati, Talal Al; Alle, Gelsomina; Bermas, Bonnie; Bhana, Suleman; Branimir, Anic; Bulina, Inita; et al. (2022-09-19)
    Objective: To describe obstetric outcomes based on COVID-19 vaccination status, in women with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) who developed COVID-19 during pregnancy. Methods: Data regarding pregnant women entered into the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance registry from 24 March 2020-25 February 2022 were analysed. Obstetric outcomes were stratified by number of COVID-19 vaccine doses received prior to COVID-19 infection in pregnancy. Descriptive differences between groups were tested using the chi -square or Fisher's exact test. Results: There were 73 pregnancies in 73 women with RMD and COVID-19. Overall, 24.7% (18) of pregnancies were ongoing, while of the 55 completed pregnancies 90.9% (50) of pregnancies resulted in livebirths. At the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, 60.3% (n = 44) of women were unvaccinated, 4.1% (n = 3) had received one vaccine dose while 35.6% (n = 26) had two or more doses. Although 83.6% (n = 61) of women required no treatment for COVID-19, 20.5% (n = 15) required hospital admission. COVID-19 resulted in delivery in 6.8% (n = 3) of unvaccinated women and 3.8% (n = 1) of fully vaccinated women. There was a greater number of preterm births (PTB) in unvaccinated women compared with fully vaccinated 29.5% (n = 13) vs 18.2%(n = 2). Conclusion: In this descriptive study, unvaccinated pregnant women with RMD and COVID-19 had a greater number of PTB compared with those fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Additionally, the need for COVID-19 pharmacological treatment was uncommon in pregnant women with RMD regardless of vaccination status. These results support active promotion of COVID-19 vaccination in women with RMD who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
  • Persistent endotheliopathy in the pathogenesis of long COVID syndrome.

    Fogarty, Helen; Townsend, Liam; Morrin, Hannah; Ahmad, Azaz; Comerford, Claire; Karampini, Ellie; Englert, Hanna; Byrne, Mary; Bergin, Colm; O'Sullivan, Jamie M; et al. (2021-09-12)
    Background: Persistent symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue, and decreased exercise tolerance have been reported in patients after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. The biological mechanisms underlying this "long COVID" syndrome remain unknown. However, autopsy studies have highlighted the key roles played by pulmonary endotheliopathy and microvascular immunothrombosis in acute COVID-19. Objectives: To assess whether endothelial cell activation may be sustained in convalescent COVID-19 patients and contribute to long COVID pathogenesis. Patients and methods: Fifty patients were reviewed at a median of 68 days following SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition to clinical workup, acute phase markers, endothelial cell (EC) activation and NETosis parameters and thrombin generation were assessed. Results: Thrombin generation assays revealed significantly shorter lag times (p < .0001, 95% CI -2.57 to -1.02 min), increased endogenous thrombin potential (p = .04, 95% CI 15-416 nM/min), and peak thrombin (p < .0001, 95% CI 39-93 nM) in convalescent COVID-19 patients. These prothrombotic changes were independent of ongoing acute phase response or active NETosis. Importantly, EC biomarkers including von Willebrand factor antigen (VWF:Ag), VWF propeptide (VWFpp), and factor VIII were significantly elevated in convalescent COVID-19 compared with controls (p = .004, 95% CI 0.09-0.57 IU/ml; p = .009, 95% CI 0.06-0.5 IU/ml; p = .04, 95% CI 0.03-0.44 IU/ml, respectively). In addition, plasma soluble thrombomodulin levels were significantly elevated in convalescent COVID-19 (p = .02, 95% CI 0.01-2.7 ng/ml). Sustained endotheliopathy was more frequent in older, comorbid patients, and those requiring hospitalization. Finally, both plasma VWF:Ag and VWFpp levels correlated inversely with 6-min walk tests. Conclusions: Collectively, our findings demonstrate that sustained endotheliopathy is common in convalescent COVID-19 and raise the intriguing possibility that this may contribute to long COVID pathogenesis.
  • Meningioma uptake of Gallium-PSMA-11 as a pitfall on positron emission tomography/computer tomography.

    Courtney, Michael; Johnston, Ciaran; Nasoodi, Afshin (2021-02-11)
    Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in men with high incidence of recurrence following treatment. Biochemical recurrence, as indicated by rising PSA levels following successful treatment of the primary disease, is a frequent encounter in routine clinical practice. 68Gallium-PSMA positron emission tomography/computer tomography has been widely accepted as the modality of choice with the highest impact in management of this group of patients. Pitfalls of this diagnostic technique stem from the diversity of histological entities, other than prostate tumour cells, which can demonstrate increased uptake of the radiotracer. We present a case of intracranial uptake of PSMA by meningioma in a patient with BCR, as a pitfall in imaging of prostate cancer. Knowledge of normal distribution of the tracer is of utmost importance when reading positron emission tomography/computer tomography imaging especially given the relative novelty of usage of 68Gallium-PSMA.
  • Vitamin D and Hospital Admission in Older Adults: A Prospective Association.

    Beirne, Avril; McCarroll, Kevin; Walsh, James Bernard; Casey, Miriam; Laird, Eamon; McNulty, Helene; Ward, Mary; Hoey, Leane; Molloy, Anne M; Healy, Martin; et al. (2021-02-14)
    The health effects of vitamin D are well documented, with increasing evidence of its roles beyond bone. There is, however, little evidence of the effects of vitamin D on hospitalisation among older adults. This study aimed to prospectively determine the relationship of vitamin D status in older adults with hospital admission and emergency department (ED) attendance. Trinity University of Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA) is a large cross-sectional study of older adults with a community population from three disease-defined cohorts (cognitive dysfunction, hypertension, and osteoporosis). Participants included in this analysis were recruited between 2008 and 2012. ED and hospital admission data were gathered from the date of TUDA participation until June 2013, with a mean follow up of 3.6 years. Of the 3093 participants, 1577 (50.9%) attended the ED during the period of follow-up. Attendees had lower mean serum 25(OH)D concentrations than non-attendees (59.1 vs. 70.6 nmol/L). Fully adjusted models showed an inverse association between vitamin D and ED attendance (Hazard Ratio (HR) 0.996; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.995-0.998; p < 0.001). A total of 1269 participants (41%) were admitted to hospital during the follow-up. Those admitted had lower mean vitamin D concentrations (58.4 vs. 69.3 nmol/L, p < 0.001). In fully adjusted models, higher vitamin D was inversely associated with hospital admission (HR 0.996; 95% CI 0.994-0.998; p < 0.001) and length of stay (LOS) (β = -0.95, p = 0.006). This study showed independent prospective associations between vitamin D deficiency and increased hospitalisation by older adults. The need for further evaluation of current recommendations in relation to vitamin D supplementation, with consideration beyond bone health, is warranted and should focus on randomised controlled trials.
  • Deploying unsupervised clustering analysis to derive clinical phenotypes and risk factors associated with mortality risk in 2022 critically ill patients with COVID-19 in Spain.

    Rodríguez, Alejandro; Ruiz-Botella, Manuel; Martín-Loeches, Ignacio; Jimenez Herrera, María; Solé-Violan, Jordi; Gómez, Josep; Bodí, María; Trefler, Sandra; Papiol, Elisabeth; Díaz, Emili; et al. (2021-02-15)
    Background The identification of factors associated with Intensive Care Unit (ICU) mortality and derived clinical phenotypes in COVID-19 patients could help for a more tailored approach to clinical decision-making that improves prognostic outcomes. Methods Prospective, multicenter, observational study of critically ill patients with confirmed COVID-19 disease and acute respiratory failure admitted from 63 ICUs in Spain. The objective was to utilize an unsupervised clustering analysis to derive clinical COVID-19 phenotypes and to analyze patient’s factors associated with mortality risk. Patient features including demographics and clinical data at ICU admission were analyzed. Generalized linear models were used to determine ICU morality risk factors. The prognostic models were validated and their performance was measured using accuracy test, sensitivity, specificity and ROC curves. Results The database included a total of 2022 patients (mean age 64 [IQR 5–71] years, 1423 (70.4%) male, median APACHE II score (13 [IQR 10–17]) and SOFA score (5 [IQR 3–7]) points. The ICU mortality rate was 32.6%. Of the 3 derived phenotypes, the A (mild) phenotype (537; 26.7%) included older age (< 65 years), fewer abnormal laboratory values and less development of complications, B (moderate) phenotype (623, 30.8%) had similar characteristics of A phenotype but were more likely to present shock. The C (severe) phenotype was the most common (857; 42.5%) and was characterized by the interplay of older age (> 65 years), high severity of illness and a higher likelihood of development shock. Crude ICU mortality was 20.3%, 25% and 45.4% for A, B and C phenotype respectively. The ICU mortality risk factors and model performance differed between whole population and phenotype classifications. Conclusion The presented machine learning model identified three clinical phenotypes that significantly correlated with host-response patterns and ICU mortality. Different risk factors across the whole population and clinical phenotypes were observed which may limit the application of a “one-size-fits-all” model in practice.
  • Progressive resistance training in a post-acute, older, inpatient setting: A randomised controlled feasibility study.

    Coleman, Sinéad A; Cunningham, Conal J; Murphy, Niamh; Feaheny, Jean; Robinson, David; Lannon, Rosaleen; McCarroll, Kevin; Casey, Miriam; Harbison, Joseph; Horgan, N Frances (2021-03-01)
    Objectives: Progressive resistance training can successfully target functional decline in healthy older community-dwelling adults. There are concerns about the safety and acceptance of its use in frail older populations. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using progressive resistance training in an older, post-acute, inpatient setting. Methods: A randomised controlled feasibility study was conducted. Appropriate older inpatients undergoing post-acute rehabilitation were recruited. Feasibility measures examined were safety, recruitment, outcome measurement, adherence and retention rates and satisfaction. A range of clinical measures were used to capture changes in body structure and function, activity and participation. Assessments were performed on admission to the study and six weeks later. Results: A sample of 33 patients were included and randomised to the treatment group (n=16) or the control group (n=17). There were no serious adverse events, adherence rates were 63% and retention rates were 82%. While both groups improved between time 1 and 2, there were no significant differences in clinical measures between the groups. Conclusion: Progressive resistance training is a safe and acceptable intervention for use with this population. Further work on the effectiveness of progressive resistance training in this setting is now required.
  • The Iron Chelator Desferrioxamine Increases the Efficacy of Bedaquiline in Primary Human Macrophages Infected with BCG.

    Cahill, Christina; O'Connell, Fiona; Gogan, Karl M; Cox, Donal J; Basdeo, Sharee A; O'Sullivan, Jacintha; Gordon, Stephen V; Keane, Joseph; Phelan, James J (2021-03-13)
    For over 50 years, patients with drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis have undergone long, arduous, and complex treatment processes with several antimicrobials. With the prevalence of drug-resistant strains on the rise and new therapies for tuberculosis urgently required, we assessed whether manipulating iron levels in macrophages infected with mycobacteria offered some insight into improving current antimicrobials that are used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis. We investigated if the iron chelator, desferrioxamine, can support the function of human macrophages treated with an array of second-line antimicrobials, including moxifloxacin, bedaquiline, amikacin, clofazimine, linezolid and cycloserine. Primary human monocyte-derived macrophages were infected with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), which is pyrazinamide-resistant, and concomitantly treated for 5 days with desferrioxamine in combination with each one of the second-line tuberculosis antimicrobials. Our data indicate that desferrioxamine used as an adjunctive treatment to bedaquiline significantly reduced the bacterial load in human macrophages infected with BCG. Our findings also reveal a link between enhanced bactericidal activity and increases in specific cytokines, as the addition of desferrioxamine increased levels of IFN-γ, IL-6, and IL-1β in BCG-infected human monocyte-derived macrophages (hMDMs) treated with bedaquiline. These results provide insight, and an in vitro proof-of-concept, that iron chelators may prove an effective adjunctive therapy in combination with current tuberculosis antimicrobials.
  • Visceral Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma.

    Elliott, Jessie A; Reynolds, John V (2021-03-12)
    Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) represents an exemplar of obesity-associated carcinogenesis, with a progressive increase in EAC risk with increased body mass index. In this context, there is increased focus on visceral adipose tissue and associated metabolic dysfunction, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia, or combinations of these in the metabolic syndrome. Visceral obesity (VO) may promote EAC via both directly impacting on gastro-esophageal reflux disease and Barrett's esophagus, as well as via reflux-independent effects, involving adipokines, growth factors, insulin resistance, and the microbiome. In this review these pathways are explored, including the impact of VO on the tumor microenvironment, and on cancer outcomes. The current evidence-based literature regarding the role of dietary, lifestyle, pharmacologic and surgical interventions to modulate the risk of EAC is explored.
  • COVID-19, when fourteen days are not enough-A case series of affected healthcare workers.

    Murphy, Catherine; Noonan, Noirin; O'Toole, Eilis; Plunkett, Patrick; Paula Colgan, Mary; Canning, Caitriona; Martin, Zenia; Hennessy, Martina (2021-03-13)
    We highlight the need for planning for mass workforce absentees as we prepare for subsequent surges. We suggest a multicomponent intervention including guiding return dates more by symptomatology and fitness for work rather than infectivity status.
  • Levels of Prebeta-1 High-Density Lipoprotein Are a Strong Independent Positive Risk Factor for Coronary Heart Disease and Myocardial Infarction: A Meta-Analysis.

    Pullinger, Clive R; O'Connor, Patricia M; Naya-Vigne, Josefina M; Kunitake, Steven T; Movsesyan, Irina; Frost, Philip H; Malloy, Mary J; Kane, John P (2021-03-17)
    Background We previously showed that levels of prebeta-1 high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the principal acceptor of cholesterol effluxed from cells, including artery wall macrophages, are positively associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and myocardial infarction (MI) risk. Methods and Results In a multiethnic follow-up cohort of 1249 individuals from University of California-San Francisco clinics, we determined the degree to which prebeta-1 HDL levels, both absolute and percentage of apolipoprotein AI, are associated with CHD and history of MI. Independent, strong, positive associations were found. Meta-analysis revealed for the absolute prebeta-1 HDL for the top tertile versus the lowest, unadjusted odds ratios of 1.90 (95% CI, 1.40-2.58) for CHD and 1.79 (95% CI, 1.35-2.36) for MI. For CHD, adjusting for established risk factors, the top versus bottom tertiles, quintiles, and deciles yielded sizable odds ratios of 2.37 (95% CI, 1.74-3.25, P<0.001), 3.20 (95% CI, 2.07-4.94, P<0.001), and 4.00 (95% CI, 2.11-7.58, P<0.001), respectively. Men and women were analyzed separately in a combined data set of 2507 individuals. The odds ratios for CHD and MI risk were similar. Higher levels of prebeta-1 HDL were associated with all 5 metabolic syndrome features. Addition of prebeta-1 HDL to these 5 features resulted in significant improvements in risk-prediction models. Conclusions Analysis of 2507 subjects showed conclusively that levels of prebeta-1 HDL are strongly associated with a history of CHD or MI, independently of traditional risk factors. Addition of prebeta-1 HDL can significantly improve clinical assessment of risk of CHD and MI.
  • The bowel and beyond: extracolonic findings from CT colonography.

    Lambe, Gerard; Hughes, Peter; Rice, Louise; McDonnell, Caoimhe; Murphy, Mark; Judge, Ciaran; Guiney, Michael (2021-03-24)
    CT colonography has emerged as the investigation of choice for suspected colorectal cancer in patients when a colonoscopy in incomplete, is deemed high risk or is declined because of patient preference. Unlike a traditional colonoscopy, it frequently reveals extracolonic as well as colonic findings. Our study aimed to determine the prevalence, characteristics and potential significance of extracolonic findings on CT colonography within our own institution. A retrospective review was performed of 502 patients who underwent CT colonography in our institution between January 1, 2010 and January 4, 2015. Of 502 patients, 60.63% had at least one extracolonic finding. This was close to other similar-sized studies (Kumar et al. Radiology 236(2):519-526, 2005). However, our rate of E4 findings was significantly higher than that reported in larger studies at 5.3%(Pooler et al. AJR 206:313-318, 2016). The difference may be explained by our combination of symptomatic/screening patients or by the age and gender distribution of our population. Our study lends support to the hypothesis that CT colonography may be particularly useful in identifying clinically significant extracolonic findings in symptomatic patients. CT colonography may allow early identification of extracolonic malignancies and life-threatening conditions such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm at a preclinical stage when they are amenable to medical or surgical intervention. However, extracolonic findings may also result in unnecessary investigations for subsequently benign findings.
  • Chemotherapy regimens induce inhibitory immune checkpoint protein expression on stem-like and senescent-like oesophageal adenocarcinoma cells.

    Davern, Maria; Donlon, Noel E; Sheppard, Andrew; Connell, Fiona O'; Hayes, Conall; Bhardwaj, Anshul; Foley, Emma; Toole, Dermot O'; Lynam-Lennon, Niamh; Ravi, Narayanasamy; et al. (2021-03-22)
    Use of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) with chemotherapy to enhance responses in oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) is an attractive approach. We identified subpopulations of OAC cells expressing inhibitory immune checkpoint (IC) ligands (PD-L1, PD-L2 and CD160) and receptors (PD-1, TIGIT, TIM-3, LAG-3 and A2aR) in vitro and in ex vivo biopsies. Combination chemotherapy regimens FLOT and CROSS promote a more immune-resistant phenotype through upregulation of IC ligands and receptors on OAC cells in vitro. Importantly, this study investigated if OAC cells, enriched for ICs exhibited a more stem-like and senescent-like phentoype. FLOT preferentially upregulates PD-L1 on a stem-like OAC cell phenotype, defined by ALDH activity. Expression of senescence-associated β-galactosidase is induced in a subpopulation of OAC cells following FLOT and CROSS chemotherapy treatment, along with enhanced expression of TIM-3 and A2aR ICs. Blockade of PD-1 signalling in OAC cells induced apoptosis and enhanced FLOT and CROSS chemotherapy toxicity in vitro. Upregulation of ICs on OAC cells following chemotherapy may represent potential mechanisms of chemo-immune resistance. Combination ICIs may be required to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy and immunotherapy in OAC patients.
  • Prognostic Value of Procalcitonin and C-Reactive Protein in 1608 Critically Ill Patients with Severe Influenza Pneumonia.

    Carbonell, Raquel; Moreno, Gerard; martin-loeches, Prof. Ignacio; Gomez-Bertomeu, Frederic; Sarvisé, Carolina; Gómez, Josep; Bodí, María; Díaz, Emili; Papiol, Elisabeth; Trefler, Sandra; et al. (2021-03-26)
    Background: Procalcitonin (PCT) and C-Reactive protein (CRP) are well-established sepsis biomarkers. The association of baseline PCT levels and mortality in pneumonia remains unclear, and we still do not know whether biomarkers levels could be related to the causative microorganism (GPC, GNB). The objective of this study is to address these issues. Methods: a retrospective observational cohort study was conducted in 184 Spanish ICUs (2009-2018). Results: 1608 patients with severe influenza pneumonia with PCT and CRP available levels on admission were included, 1186 with primary viral pneumonia (PVP) and 422 with bacterial Co-infection (BC). Those with BC presented higher PCT levels (4.25 [0.6-19.5] versus 0.6 [0.2-2.3]ng/mL) and CRP (36.7 [20.23-118] versus 28.05 [13.3-109]mg/dL) as compared to PVP (p < 0.001). Deceased patients had higher PCT (ng/mL) when compared with survivors, in PVP (0.82 [0.3-2.8]) versus 0.53 [0.19-2.1], p = 0.001) and BC (6.9 [0.93-28.5] versus 3.8 [0.5-17.37], p = 0.039). However, no significant association with mortality was observed in the multivariate analysis. The PCT levels (ng/mL) were significantly higher in polymicrobial infection (8.4) and GPC (6.9) when compared with GNB (1.2) and Aspergillus (1.7). The AUC-ROC of PCT for GPC was 0.67 and 0.32 for GNB. The AUROC of CRP was 0.56 for GPC and 0.39 for GNB. Conclusions: a single PCT/CRP value at ICU admission was not associated with mortality in severe influenza pneumonia. None of the biomarkers have enough discriminatory power to be used for predicting the causative microorganism of the co-infection.
  • Bridging animal and clinical research during SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: A new-old challenge.

    Winkler, Martin S; Skirecki, Tomasz; Brunkhorst, Frank M; Cajander, Sara; Cavaillon, Jean-Marc; Ferrer, Ricard; Flohé, Stefanie B; García-Salido, Alberto; Giamarellos-Bourboulis, Evangelos J; Girardis, Massimo; et al. (2021-04-01)
    Many milestones in medical history rest on animal modeling of human diseases. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has evoked a tremendous investigative effort primarily centered on clinical studies. However, several animal SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 models have been developed and pre-clinical findings aimed at supporting clinical evidence rapidly emerge. In this review, we characterize the existing animal models exposing their relevance and limitations as well as outline their utility in COVID-19 drug and vaccine development. Concurrently, we summarize the status of clinical trial research and discuss the novel tactics utilized in the largest multi-center trials aiming to accelerate generation of reliable results that may subsequently shape COVID-19 clinical treatment practices. We also highlight areas of improvement for animal studies in order to elevate their translational utility. In pandemics, to optimize the use of strained resources in a short time-frame, optimizing and strengthening the synergy between the preclinical and clinical domains is pivotal.
  • The effects of alcohol consumption and its associations with disease activity among 979 patients with inflammatory arthritis.

    Turk, Matthew; Murray, Kieran; Alammari, Yousef; Gorman, Aine; Young, Francis; Gallagher, Phil; Saber, Tajvur; Freeman, Lorna; Maguire, Sinead; O'Shea, Finbar; et al. (2021-04)
    Objective: The role of alcohol in inflammatory disease remains debated. This study explores the relationship between alcohol and disease activity in patients with inflammatory arthritis. Methods: Patients attending a rheumatology clinic between 2010 and 2020 were prospectively followed. Information on demographics, alcohol use, smoking habits and disease outcome measures were collected from these patients. Statistical analysis included univariate and multivariate linear and binary logistic regressions, Mann-Whitney U tests and one-way analysis of variance with Tukey's honest significant difference (HSD) test. Results: Of the 979 analysed patients, 62% had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 26.7% had psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and 11.2% had ankylosing spondylitis. Mean DAS28-CRP (Disease Activity Score 28 - C-reactive protein) in RA and PsA at 1 year was 2.96±1.39, and 64.2% of patients were in remission (DAS28-CRP ≤2.6 or BASDAI (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index) ≤4). Both male gender and risky drinking (>15 units of weekly alcohol) were significantly associated with remission. Compared with women, men had an OR of 1.8 (1.1, 2.5) (p=0.034) for any alcohol consumption and 6.9 (4.7, 9.1) (p=0.001) for drinking at least 15 weekly drinks. When adjusted for gender, there was no association between alcohol and disease activity. Yet, when adjusted for alcohol consumption, gender still significantly influenced disease activity. Conclusion: While it may appear that alcohol is linked to remission in inflammatory arthritis, when adjusted for gender, it is not. Men with inflammatory arthritis drink significantly more than women and have less severe disease activity.
  • Neutrophils: Need for Standardized Nomenclature.

    McKenna, Ellen; Mhaonaigh, Aisling Ui; Wubben, Richard; Dwivedi, Amrita; Hurley, Tim; Kelly, Lynne A; Stevenson, Nigel J; Little, Mark A; Molloy, Eleanor J (2021-04-15)
    Neutrophils are the most abundant innate immune cell with critical anti-microbial functions. Since the discovery of granulocytes at the end of the nineteenth century, the cells have been given many names including phagocytes, polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN), granulocytic myeloid derived suppressor cells (G-MDSC), low density neutrophils (LDN) and tumor associated neutrophils (TANS). This lack of standardized nomenclature for neutrophils suggest that biologically distinct populations of neutrophils exist, particularly in disease, when in fact these may simply be a manifestation of the plasticity of the neutrophil as opposed to unique populations. In this review, we profile the surface markers and granule expression of each stage of granulopoiesis to offer insight into how each stage of maturity may be identified. We also highlight the remarkable surface marker expression profiles between the supposed neutrophil populations.
  • Longitudinal Analysis of COVID-19 Patients Shows Age-Associated T Cell Changes Independent of Ongoing Ill-Health.

    Townsend, Liam; Dyer, Adam H; Naughton, Aifric; Kiersey, Rachel; Holden, Dean; Gardiner, Mary; Dowds, Joanne; O'Brien, Kate; Bannan, Ciaran; Nadarajan, Parthiban; et al. (2021-05-07)
    The immunological and inflammatory changes following acute COVID-19 are hugely variable. Persistent clinical symptoms following resolution of initial infection, termed long COVID, are also hugely variable, but association with immunological changes has not been described. We investigate changing immunological parameters in convalescent COVID-19 and interrogate their potential relationships with persistent symptoms.
  • Evaluation of the risk factors for venous thromboembolism post splenectomy - A ten year retrospective cohort study in St James's hospital.

    Abduljalil, Manal; Saunders, Jean; Doherty, Dearbhla; Dicks, Marthinus; Maher, Catherine; Mehigan, Brian; Flavin, Richard; Flynn, Catherine M (2021-05-08)
    Background: Splenectomy is a surgical intervention for a variety of indications; benign and malignant. Complications of this procedure include Venous thromboembolism (VTE) and infection. The incidence of VTE post-surgery has been reported between 0.8%-3% depending on the type of surgery. A higher incidence of abdominal VTE was reported post splenectomy (6-11%). However, there is limited literature regarding the risk factors for post splenectomy VTE and the optimal strategy for thromboprophylaxis. Objective: The primary objective of the study was to evaluate the incidence of VTE post splenectomy and to identify the pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative risk factors. The secondary objective was to assess the local compliance with post-splenectomy prophylactic antibiotics and vaccination protocols. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study. All patients who had a splenectomy in St James's Hospital between January 2007 and June 2017 were included and reviewed. Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS statistical package. Results: 85 patients were involved in the study. The main indications for splenectomy were benign haematology, malignant haematology, solid tumours, traumatic and spontaneous rupture. 6/85 patients developed VTE (7.06%).High BMI ≥ 30 was associated with increased risk of VTE (p = 0.007), while the use of post-operative prophylactic anticoagulation was associated with reduced risk (p = 0.005). Other factors including age >50 years, female gender, presence of active malignancy and splenomegaly were associated with increased VTE risk with no statistical significance. All VTE's occurred in elective versus emergency splenectomy. Laparoscopic splenectomy was associated with higher risk of VTE than open splenectomy. 97% of patients were prescribed prophylactic antibiotics on discharge, but only 88% had received recommended vaccinations. Conclusion: Venous thromboembolism is common post splenectomy. Our data showed that BMI ≥30 was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of VTE, while the use of prophylactic anticoagulation was associated with reduced risk. Further prospective studies with larger samples are warranted and a splenectomy care plan may be helpful.

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