MAIT Cell Response May Explain Women’s Lower Severe COVID-19 Rate

Women suffer severe COVID-19 at around half the rate as men, but the reason for this has been unclear. Now, research1 has found that women have different levels of mucosal associated invariant T cells, and these immune cells amass in the lungs, poised to attack the COVID virus. Better armed with these specialized immune cells, women appear to be more equipped to fight some of the most severe impacts of COVID-19, notably the respiratory infections that can become life-threatening,

Staufen1: Protein Is Linked To Several Neurodegenerative Disorders

Staufen1, a protein that accumulates in the brains of patients with certain neurological conditions, is linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, along with other neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease, University of Utah Health scientists report. Credit: Unsplash/CC0 The findings1 connect Staufen1 to the emerging concept that neurodegenerative diseases are linked to malfunctions in the way cells cope with cellular stress. These results, based on laboratory studies of human tissue and mouse models, suggest that targeting Staufen1 could eventually lead to therapeutic interventions for a number of these disorders.

Blood Biomarkers For Mood Disorders Offer Precision-medicine Approach

An extensive push to identify and validate blood biomarkers for mood disorders has resulted in a blood test, composed of RNA biomarkers, that can distinguish how severe a patient’s depression is. The test also can predict their risk of severe depression in the future, and their risk of future bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, as well as informs tailored medication choices for patients. The work1 builds on previous research into blood biomarkers2 that track suicidality as well as pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease3.

Neural Substrates of Anhedonia In Frontotemporal Dementia Identified

People with early-onset dementia are often misdiagnosed as having depression. Research has now identified what may actually be happening in such cases: a profound loss of ability to experience pleasure. The loss is related to degeneration of ‘hedonic hotspots’ in the brain where pleasure mechanisms are concentrated, University of Sydney-led research1 shows. The study revealed marked degeneration, or atrophy, of grey matter in frontal and striatal areas of the brain related to diminished reward-seeking, in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

Tuberculosis Bacteria Releases Its Toxin Via Unique Protein Transport System

Two small proteins made by the M. tuberculosis bacteria mediate secretion of it’s toxin by pore formation in the membranes that envelop the bacteria, new research1 shows. Six years ago, Michael Niederweis, Ph.D., described the first toxin ever found for the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, which cause TB. Credit: NIAID The toxin, tuberculosis necrotizing toxin, or TNT, became the founding member of a novel class of previously unrecognized toxins present in more than 600 bacterial and fungal species, as determined by protein sequence similarity.

Prenatal Phthalate Exposure Linked To Altered Information Processing In Infants

Exposure to phthalates, a class of chemicals widely used in packaging and consumer products, is known to interfere with normal hormone function and development in human and animal studies. Now researchers have found evidence1 linking pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates to altered cognitive outcomes in their infants. Most of the findings involved slower information processing among infants with higher phthalate exposure levels, with males more likely to be affected depending on the chemical involved and the order of information presented to the infants.

Gene Changes Linked To Severe Repetitive Behaviors

Extreme repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, body-rocking, skin-picking, and sniffing are common to a number of brain disorders including autism, schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, and drug addiction. These behaviors, termed stereotypies, are also apparent in animal models of drug addiction and autism. In a new study1, researchers at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research have identified genes that are activated in the brain prior to the initiation of these severe repetitive behaviors.

SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Longevity Varies Greatly Among Individuals

Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 wane at different rates, lasting for days in some people, while remaining in others for decades, according to machine learning prediction research. A new study1 shows that the severity of the infection could be a deciding factor in having longer-lasting antibodies. People with low levels of neutralizing antibodies may still be protected from COVID-19 if they have a robust T-cell immunity. The key message from this study is that the longevity of functional neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 can vary greatly and it is important to monitor this at an individual level.