Association between Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Schools and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study
by Jordi Sunyer, Mikel Esnaola, Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol, Joan Forns, Ioar Rivas, Mònica López-Vicente, Elisabet Suades-González, Maria Foraster, Raquel Garcia-Esteban, Xavier Basagaña, Mar Viana, Marta Cirach, Teresa Moreno, Andrés Alastuey, Núria Sebastian-Galles, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Xavier QuerolBackground
Air pollution is a suspected developmental neurotoxicant. Many schools are located in close proximity to busy roads, and traffic air pollution peaks when children are at school. We aimed to assess whether exposure of children in primary school to traffic-related air pollutants is associated with impaired cognitive development.Methods and Findings
We conducted a prospective study of children (n = 2,715, aged 7 to 10 y) from 39 schools in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) exposed to high and low traffic-related air pollution, paired by school socioeconomic index; children were tested four times (i.e., to assess the 12-mo developmental trajectories) via computerized tests (n = 10,112). Chronic traffic air pollution (elemental carbon [EC], nitrogen dioxide [NO2], and ultrafine particle number [UFP; 10–700 nm]) was measured twice during 1-wk campaigns both in the courtyard (outdoor) and inside the classroom (indoor) simultaneously in each school pair. Cognitive development was assessed with the n-back and the attentional network tests, in particular, working memory (two-back detectability), superior working memory (three-back detectability), and inattentiveness (hit reaction time standard error). Linear mixed effects models were adjusted for age, sex, maternal education, socioeconomic status, and air pollution exposure at home.Children from highly polluted schools had a smaller growth in cognitive development than children from the paired lowly polluted schools, both in crude and adjusted models (e.g., 7.4% [95% CI 5.6%–8.8%] versus 11.5% [95% CI 8.9%–12.5%] improvement in working memory, p = 0.0024). Cogently, children attending schools with higher levels of EC, NO2, and UFP both indoors and outdoors experienced substantially smaller growth in all the cognitive measurements; for example, a change from the first to the fourth quartile in indoor EC reduced the gain in working memory by 13.0% (95% CI 4.2%–23.1%). Residual confounding for social class could not be discarded completely; however, the associations remained in stratified analyses (e.g., for type of school or high-/low-polluted area) and after additional adjustments (e.g., for commuting, educational quality, or smoking at home), contradicting a potential residual confounding explanation.Conclusions
Children attending schools with higher traffic-related air pollution had a smaller improvement in cognitive development.
Correction: Association between Cutaneous Nevi and Breast Cancer in the Nurses' Health Study: A Prospective Cohort Study
by The PLOS Medicine Staff
CD47 Agonist Peptides Induce Programmed Cell Death in Refractory Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia B Cells via PLCγ1 Activation: Evidence from Mice and Humans
by Ana-Carolina Martinez-Torres, Claire Quiney, Tarik Attout, Heloïse Boullet, Linda Herbi, Laura Vela, Sandrine Barbier, Danielle Chateau, Elise Chapiro, Florence Nguyen-Khac, Frédéric Davi, Magali Le Garff-Tavernier, Roba Moumné, Marika Sarfati, Philippe Karoyan, Hélène Merle-Béral, Pierre Launay, Santos A. SusinBackground
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common adulthood leukemia, is characterized by the accumulation of abnormal CD5+ B lymphocytes, which results in a progressive failure of the immune system. Despite intense research efforts, drug resistance remains a major cause of treatment failure in CLL, particularly in patients with dysfunctional TP53. The objective of our work was to identify potential approaches that might overcome CLL drug refractoriness by examining the pro-apoptotic potential of targeting the cell surface receptor CD47 with serum-stable agonist peptides.Methods and Findings
In peripheral blood samples collected from 80 patients with CLL with positive and adverse prognostic features, we performed in vitro genetic and molecular analyses that demonstrate that the targeting of CD47 with peptides derived from the C-terminal domain of thrombospondin-1 efficiently kills the malignant CLL B cells, including those from high-risk individuals with a dysfunctional TP53 gene, while sparing the normal T and B lymphocytes from the CLL patients. Further studies reveal that the differential response of normal B lymphocytes, collected from 20 healthy donors, and leukemic B cells to CD47 peptide targeting results from the sustained activation in CLL B cells of phospholipase C gamma-1 (PLCγ1), a protein that is significantly over-expressed in CLL. Once phosphorylated at tyrosine 783, PLCγ1 enables a Ca2+-mediated, caspase-independent programmed cell death (PCD) pathway that is not down-modulated by the lymphocyte microenvironment. Accordingly, down-regulation of PLCγ1 or pharmacological inhibition of PLCγ1 phosphorylation abolishes CD47-mediated killing. Additionally, in a CLL-xenograft model developed in NOD/scid gamma mice, we demonstrate that the injection of CD47 agonist peptides reduces tumor burden without inducing anemia or toxicity in blood, liver, or kidney. The limitations of our study are mainly linked to the affinity of the peptides targeting CD47, which might be improved to reach the standard requirements in drug development, and the lack of a CLL animal model that fully mimics the human disease.Conclusions
Our work provides substantial progress in (i) the development of serum-stable CD47 agonist peptides that are highly effective at inducing PCD in CLL, (ii) the understanding of the molecular events regulating a novel PCD pathway that overcomes CLL apoptotic avoidance, (iii) the identification of PLCγ1 as an over-expressed protein in CLL B cells, and (iv) the description of a novel peptide-based strategy against CLL.
Ultra-Sensitive Detection of Plasmodium falciparum by Amplification of Multi-Copy Subtelomeric Targets
by Natalie Hofmann, Felista Mwingira, Seif Shekalaghe, Leanne J. Robinson, Ivo Mueller, Ingrid FelgerBackground
Planning and evaluating malaria control strategies relies on accurate definition of parasite prevalence in the population. A large proportion of asymptomatic parasite infections can only be identified by surveillance with molecular methods, yet these infections also contribute to onward transmission to mosquitoes. The sensitivity of molecular detection by PCR is limited by the abundance of the target sequence in a DNA sample; thus, detection becomes imperfect at low densities. We aimed to increase PCR diagnostic sensitivity by targeting multi-copy genomic sequences for reliable detection of low-density infections, and investigated the impact of these PCR assays on community prevalence data.Methods and Findings
Two quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays were developed for ultra-sensitive detection of Plasmodium falciparum, targeting the high-copy telomere-associated repetitive element 2 (TARE-2, ∼250 copies/genome) and the var gene acidic terminal sequence (varATS, 59 copies/genome). Our assays reached a limit of detection of 0.03 to 0.15 parasites/μl blood and were 10× more sensitive than standard 18S rRNA qPCR. In a population cross-sectional study in Tanzania, 295/498 samples tested positive using ultra-sensitive assays. Light microscopy missed 169 infections (57%). 18S rRNA qPCR failed to identify 48 infections (16%), of which 40% carried gametocytes detected by pfs25 quantitative reverse-transcription PCR. To judge the suitability of the TARE-2 and varATS assays for high-throughput screens, their performance was tested on sample pools. Both ultra-sensitive assays correctly detected all pools containing one low-density P. falciparum–positive sample, which went undetected by 18S rRNA qPCR, among nine negatives. TARE-2 and varATS qPCRs improve estimates of prevalence rates, yet other infections might still remain undetected when absent in the limited blood volume sampled.Conclusions
Measured malaria prevalence in communities is largely determined by the sensitivity of the diagnostic tool used. Even when applying standard molecular diagnostics, prevalence in our study population was underestimated by 8% compared to the new assays. Our findings highlight the need for highly sensitive tools such as TARE-2 and varATS qPCR in community surveillance and for monitoring interventions to better describe malaria epidemiology and inform malaria elimination efforts.