Herpes Simplex virus Type-2 may play a role in the development of Autism.

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Herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) may play a role in the development of autism, a new study postulates.  Herpes virus type 1 and type 2 infect over 1 billion people worldwide.  Herpes simplex virus type 1 is known to cause outbreaks of sores around the mouth or lips.  More commonly known as fever blisters or cold sores, once you have this virus it remains in your system for eternity.  Herpes simplex virus type 2 is more commonly associated with sores in your genital area.  Although the virus may remain dormant for many years, most infected with the virus develop sores around the genital area occasionally which signifies an active infection.  HSV-2 infects more women than men and recent tallies suggest the virus is found in one out of every 5 women of child bearing age.

Researchers studying a large Norwegian population discovered that an active infection early in the pregnancy doubled the chance that a male fetus will develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Using bloodwork that was available from the second trimester to the time of birth was tested for 5 microbes that are known to damage fetal development:  Cytomegalovirus, Toxoplasma gondii, rubella, HSV-1, and HSV-2.  Higher than average levels of antibodies of HSV-2 from blood drawn at the second trimester, indicating an active maternal infection in the weeks prior, were associated with a doubled risk that a male newborn would be diagnosed with ASV.

It is believed that antibodies and an inflammatory response cross the blood brain barrier to inflict injury.  The research suggests a subgroup of women is genetically predisposed to develop immune responses to certain disease-causing organisms – like HSV2 – and that inflammatory molecules and antibodies generated by the mother’s vigorous immune response cross the placenta and damage the fetal brain.

Although an infection with HSV-2 is not directly implicated with autism, it is suggesting that having HSV-2 in early fetal development along with other environmental factors increase the possibility of ASV.  ASV is so severely understood that precautionary measures are necessary.  Fetal development models along with accurate testing of the newborn for ASV should be demanded from mothers who have shown active HSV-2 infections in the weeks leading up to birth.

Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff. Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.

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Gut bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most debilitating disorders of the 21st century.  Originally discovered in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, hence the name, the symptoms of the disease includes memory loss, paranoia, and psychological changes.  Auguste D, a patient with severe symptoms, was diagnosed by Dr. Alzheimer.  Upon her death, there was an autopsy performed.  During the autopsy, it was discovered that her brain had shrunk considerably and there were abnormally folded protein deposits, later named plaque, in and around her brain cells.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown.  However, it is theorized that plaques and tangles (explained shortly) were the primary suspects in cell death and brain shrinkage in patients with the disease.  Plaques are abnormal deposits of a type of sticky beta-amyloid protein that build up between nerve cells.  These small clumps may block cell-to-cell signaling at nerve synapses.  They may also trigger an immune response which initiates inflammation and the consuming of disabled brain cells.

Tangles form inside of dying cells.  They are made up of twisted fibers of a protein called, Tau.  In healthy brains, Tau keeps the nutrient transport system on track.  However, in areas where tangles are formed, the twisted strands disintegrate the transport system; therefore, any essential nutrients are lost and brain cells starve to death and die.

Most people develop plaque and tangles as they age; however, those afflicted with Alzheimer’s develop much more.  These plaques and tangles develop in predictable patterns, starting in areas which are important in learning and memory and moving to other areas as the disease progresses.

Research coming from Sweden suggests our gut microbiota (bacteria) can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  By studying the gut bacteria of diseased and healthy mice, it was discovered that healthy mice had different forms of gut bacteria compared to the diseased mice.  After transplanting the intestinal bacteria into the healthy mice, they saw a dramatic increase of the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

This is a possible breakthrough in treatment for the disease.  Prior, patients would only receive symptom-relieving antiretroviral drugs.  Now, researchers will look into entirely new types of preventative and therapeutic strategies based on the modulation of “healthy” types of gut bacteria.  Diet and new types of probiotics will be at the forefront of the research.

Increasingly, we are seeing the correlation between a healthy diet and a healthy mind.  This idea has been underscored in numerous medical journals, but it shows how important it is.  In my previous blog post, I mentioned the catchphrase “everything in moderation” and that still holds true.  Nevertheless, it is an important adage.  I still love a good steak and an occasional hamburger, but personally, I like to adhere to a 2-1-1 vegetable, protein, complex carbohydrate strategy for most meals.  Twice as many vegetables to my protein content (mostly fish) and complex carbohydrates (mostly brown rice, occasionally quinoa).  This ensures I am getting the most from my meals.  I limit my sugar intake and I drink plenty of water.  I exercise 3-4 times a week and read as much as I can.  Sleep on the other hand is a work in progress.

Hopefully, a similar strategy will work for you.  If you have a healthy strategy that works for you, leave me a comment.

Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff. Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.

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31 Interesting Facts about Microorganisms

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Let’s do something fun this week!  It’s great to hear about the latest advancements in microbiology, but what about some interesting facts about microorganisms.

The word microorganism is pretty much self-explanatory.  They are microscopic (unable to be seen with the naked eye), living, single-cell organisms.  Put both of these words together and you have microorganisms. They play a very important role in nature and the support of life.  Granted, there are microorganisms that do more harm than good, but for this particular blog entry we will discuss the beneficial characteristics of microorganisms.  Certain microorganisms remove toxins from water and soil.  You might have heard about a certain species of bacteria that is used to treat oil spills.  There are millions upon millions of bacteria that live in our digestive system.  They colonize our “gut” and help with digestion and prevent other bad forms of bacteria from growing.  As you are reading this, you might be wondering “Yeah, yeah.  I know all this already, so where are the interesting facts you mentioned in the beginning?”  They are coming!  After some research, I was able to find 31 interesting facts about microorganisms.

Here’s the list:

  1. All of the bacteria in our body collectively weigh about 4 pounds.
  2. The average office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet.
  3. There are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people in the world.
  4. The “smell of rain” is caused by a bacterium called actinomycetes.
  5. Cell phones have 18 times more bacteria than toilet handles.
  6. Researchers found 1458 new species of bacteria in belly buttons.
  7. Body odor is caused by a bacterium that breaks down sweat proteins into acid.
  8. A clean mouth has between 1000 and 100,000 bacteria on each tooth.
  9. Chocolate has an anti-bacterial effect on the moth and protects against tooth decay.
  10. Tap water has a shelf-life of 6 months, after which chlorine dissipates and bacteria start to grow.
  11. There’s a breed of bacteria that lives in hair spray.
  12. A dollar bill has 3000 types of bacteria.
  13. When two people kiss, they exchange between 10 million and 1 billion bacteria.
  14. Most antibiotics are made from bacteria.
  15. After two weeks of wear, a pair of jeans will have grown a 1000-strong colony of bacteria on the front, 1500-2500 on the back, and 10,000 on the crotch.
  16. The strongest creatures on Earth are gonorrhea bacteria. They can pull 100,000 times their own body weight.
  17. Offices with more male employees have far more bacteria.
  18. In 2013, a bacterium was found in New Zealand that is resistant to every single antibiotic known.
  19. Computer keyboards can have more than 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
  20. New bacteria grow on a kitchen sponge every 20 minutes.
  21. 20% of office coffee mugs contain fecal bacteria.
  22. Babies are born with no bacteria in their bodies.
  23. 15,152 forms of life, most of which are bacteria, have been identified on the New York subway.
  24. A newly discovered species of rust-eating bacteria could consume the wreck of the Titanic within 20 years.
  25. Beans increase flatulence because they carry a type of sugar called “oligosaccharides”, which are hard for bacteria to break down, so they release gas in the process.
  26. Airplane tray tables hold more bacteria than most typical household items.
  27. Horseshoe crab blood is worth $15,000/liter, due to its ability to detect bacteria.
  28. The chlorine in swimming pools isn’t what causes red eyes. It is the chlorine binding to the bacteria in the water.
  29. There are viruses that can infect bacteria.
  30. It is estimated that a third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis bacteria, but most of them are asymptomatic.
  31. Bacteria have the smallest eyeballs in nature but the largest relative to their size.

I hope you enjoyed these thought-provoking facts about microorganisms.  The world of microbiology is definitely an interesting one.  In the coming weeks, I will try my best to document something from each of the 5 types of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, and protozoa).  Tune in next week when we get back to our regular programming.

Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/staff. Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.

Source: http://www.novozymes.com/en/about-us/our-business/what-are-microorganisms

Source: http://www.factslides.com/s-Bacteria

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Salicylic acid promotes nasal mucosa colonization by Staphylococcus aureus

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Salicylic acid, a common component in pain medication and anti-acne creams, has been discovered to enhance nasal mucosa colonies of Staphylococcus aureus.  We even eat trace amounts of salicylic acid in our daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Salicylic acid forms complexes with iron which is a key ingredient for bacterial growth.  As salicylic acid bonds with iron, the deficiency promotes the growth of biofilms of S. aureus.

You are probably asking, “What is the importance of biofilm?”  Biofilm is the bacteria’s way of forming a protective matrix around its colonies.  It produces a glue-like film which attaches to various materials, including human tissues.  As these biofilms grow, it creates an anchor site for additional microbial growth.  These biofilms are almost indestructible which makes treatment by antibiotics difficult to say the least.

S. aureus colonizes around 25% of the human population, so why aren’t more people coming down with various conditions caused by this bacterium?  The answer lies in our immune system.  Our immune system keeps the bacteria in check when the host is healthy and is able to provide the necessary nutrients to the bacteria.  The problems arise when salicylic acid deprives the bacteria of the iron it needs.  If iron cannot be metabolized in sufficient amounts by S. aureus, the bacteria go into defense mode and produce copious amounts of biofilm for survival.  This increased growth of biofilm allows the bacteria to survive for a longer period of time.

I hope you are following the road signs so far.  Increased biofilm growth while the host is healthy might be a minor concern.  However, if the host becomes ill is where things could get interesting.  Biofilm, which can be impervious to antibiotics, might increase the host’s susceptibility to the toxins of S. aureus.  In turn, this could be the beginning of a chronic illness which is difficult to treat.

In summation:  Vegetarians beware, let your pimples grow and like the saying goes, “No pain. No gain!”  Just kidding.  As with anything in life, moderation is key.  Continue with a healthy lifestyle and problems should not arise.  However, if you are in one of the three key demographics mentioned in the blog, please be aware.  Awareness is half the battle.

Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff. Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.

Source:  https://phys.org/news/2017-02-salicylic-acid-nasal-mucosa-colonization.html

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Seoul Virus outbreak confirmed

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Seoul virus, a form of hantavirus, has been confirmed in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin.  Seoul virus is carried and spread by rats, with the brown or Norway rat most implicated in infections.  Rats are the carriers of the virus, but they show no symptoms of the infection.  However, humans can become infected through exposure to infected blood, urine, or saliva.  Infections are more likely when fresh urine or feces are vacuumed or swept up releasing the particles into the air.  In turn, individuals breathe in the “aerosolized” contaminants and the virus has found a pathway into the human.

The outbreak has infected 8 people in the two states.  Two individuals who operate a rat-breeding facility in Wisconsin became ill and one was hospitalized.  These two individuals confirmed purchasing rats from suppliers in Wisconsin and Illinois.  Further investigations found 6 additional people who tested positive for the virus. All 8 people have since recovered from the infection.

Two CDC epidemiologists are working hand in hand with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in an investigation to determine if the outbreak is larger than originally thought.  The investigations will look closely into the rat-breeding facility, the clients who purchased rats, and the facilities where the rats were purchased.  This will help Public Health officials in deterring the future spread of the virus.

Seoul virus is generally a mild infection; however, approximately 1-2% of cases develop into a HFRS (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome).  Therefore, it is imperative to take precautions whenever individuals are handling rats.

Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff.  Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.

Source:  https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/outbreaks/seoul-virus/index.html

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Image source disclaimer:  Images and Videos on Pixabay are released under Creative Commons CC0. To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived their copyright and related or neighboring rights to these images and videos.