Tuesday October 23, 2018

Study: Zika’s Effects on Newborns Persist Even in Adults

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation

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Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus
Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus. (IANS)
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Scientists have discovered that Zika virus infection that can lead to birth defects and other complications such as seizures and long-term deficits in brain structure and behaviour, also persists in adulthood.

In the study, a team of neuroscientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, infected three-day-old infant mice with the Zika virus and monitored their behavioural and neurological development until adulthood to observe several early and late symptoms.

They found that most of the infected mice developed spontaneous seizures as soon as nine days after birth, and remained more susceptible to chemically-induced seizures in adulthood compared to controls.

This indicates that even though the spontaneous seizures may have been resolved as the animals grew older, the damage caused to the brain is permanent, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Furthermore, the infected mice demonstrated weight loss that is not recovered in adulthood, cognitive deficits and long-lasting impaired motor function.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The memory and sociability of adult mice were also affected, which may be linked to research that viral exposure shortly before or after birth may be associated to late development of autism and schizophrenia.

These behavioural deficits were also accompanied by persistent viral replication and inflammation in the brain.

The peak of viral replication in the brain was found to be associated with an abundance of molecules that mediate inflammation.

One of these molecules is the Tumor Necrosis Factor Alfa, or simply TNF-a, a molecule closely linked to episodes of acute inflammation in the body.

Also Read: Report Says Majority Of Indians Mix Fats, Sugars In Their Diet

When administered, infliximab — a drug that inhibits TNF-a — prevented seizures in young infected mice by Day 12, suggesting that targeting cerebral inflammation could ameliorate some of the long-term consequences of neonatal Zika infection, the researchers said.

“Young mice responded very well to the TNF-a inhibitor. We found that some animals had a 50 per cent reduction in the number of seizures, on average. Also, adult animals were no longer susceptible to drug-induced seizures,” said Julia Clarke from the varsity. (IANS)

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Exercising Too Little Puts Your Health At Risk: WHO

In wealthier countries, the researchers said, a transition toward more sedentary jobs as well as sedentary forms of recreation and transport could explain higher levels of inactivity.

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People gather for physical exercise in Nantes, France. VOA

More than a quarter of the world’s adults — 1.4 billion people — exercise too little, putting them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancers, according to a World Health Organization-led study.

In 2016, around one in three women and one in four men worldwide were not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity to stay healthy — at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

There has been no improvement in global levels of physical activity since 2001, according to the study, which was conducted by WHO researchers and published Tuesday in The Lancet Global Health.

The highest rates of lack of exercise in 2016 were in adults in Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, where more than half of all adults were not active enough to protect their health.

Exercise
Inactivity Puts Quarter of Adults’ Health at Risk, WHO Says. Pixabay

By comparison, around 40 percent of adults in the United States, 36 percent in Britain and 14 percent in China did too little exercise to stay healthy.

“Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health,” said Regina Guthold of the WHO, who co-led the research.

Noncommunicable diseases

The WHO says insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for premature death worldwide. It raises the risk of noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

By becoming more active, it says, people can easily achieve benefits such as improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, better bone health, weight control and reduced risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and various types of cancer.

Exercise
Heart patients should focus on exercise than weight loss. Pixabay

The study found that levels of low physical activity were more than twice as great in high-income countries compared with poorer nations, and had increased by 5.0 percent in richer countries from 2001 to 2016.

Also Read: Eating in 10-hour Window May Boost Health

In wealthier countries, the researchers said, a transition toward more sedentary jobs as well as sedentary forms of recreation and transport could explain higher levels of inactivity. In less well-off countries, people tend to be more active at work and for transport, they said.

They urged governments to take note of these changes and put in place infrastructures that promote walking and cycling for transport and active sports and recreation. (VOA)