• Bi-exponential modelling of W' reconstitution kinetics in trained cyclists

      Chorley, Alan; orcid: 0000-0003-0000-3394; Bott, Richard P; orcid: 0000-0002-7842-2436; Marwood, Simon; orcid: 0000-0003-4668-1131; Lamb, Kevin L.; orcid: 0000-0003-4481-4711; University of Chester; Liverpool Hope University (Springer, 2021-12-18)
      Purpose The aim of this study was to investigate the individual W′ reconstitution kinetics of trained cyclists following repeated bouts of incremental ramp exercise, and to determine an optimal mathematical model to describe W′ reconstitution. Methods Ten trained cyclists (age 41 ± 10 years; mass 73.4 ± 9.9 kg; V˙O2max 58.6 ± 7.1 mL kg min−1) completed three incremental ramps (20 W min−1) to the limit of tolerance with varying recovery durations (15–360 s) on 5–9 occasions. W′ reconstitution was measured following the first and second recovery periods against which mono-exponential and bi-exponential models were compared with adjusted R2 and bias-corrected Akaike information criterion (AICc). Results A bi-exponential model outperformed the mono-exponential model of W′ reconstitution (AICc 30.2 versus 72.2), fitting group mean data well (adjR2 = 0.999) for the first recovery when optimised with parameters of fast component (FC) amplitude = 50.67%; slow component (SC) amplitude = 49.33%; time constant (τ)FC = 21.5 s; τSC = 388 s. Following the second recovery, W′ reconstitution reduced by 9.1 ± 7.3%, at 180 s and 8.2 ± 9.8% at 240 s resulting in an increase in the modelled τSC to 716 s with τFC unchanged. Individual bi-exponential models also fit well (adjR2 = 0.978 ± 0.017) with large individual parameter variations (FC amplitude 47.7 ± 17.8%; first recovery: (τ)FC = 22.0 ± 11.8 s; (τ)SC = 377 ± 100 s; second recovery: (τ)FC = 16.3.0 ± 6.6 s; (τ)SC = 549 ± 226 s). Conclusions W′ reconstitution kinetics were best described by a bi-exponential model consisting of distinct fast and slow phases. The amplitudes of the FC and SC remained unchanged with repeated bouts, with a slowing of W′ reconstitution confined to an increase in the time constant of the slow component.
    • Human-controlled reproductive experience may contribute to incestuous behavior observed in reintroduced semi-feral stallions (Equus caballus)

      Stanley, Christina; Górecka-Bruzda, Alexandra; Jaworska, Joanna; Siemieniuch, Marta; Jaworski, Zbigniew; Wocławek-Potocka, Izabela; Lansade, Lea; University of Chester; Polish Academy of Sciences; University of Warmia and Mazury; Centre INRAE Val-de-Loire (Elsevier, 2021-12-17)
      Equine reproductive behavior is affected by many factors, some remaining poorly understood. This study tested the hypothesis that a period of captivity during the juvenile period and human-controlled reproduction may potentially be involved in the disruption of the development of incestuous mating avoidance behavior in sanctuary-reintroduced male Konik polski horses. Between 1986 and 2000, cases of incestuous behavior in harem stallions born and reared until weaning in the sanctuary were studied. Eight males lived in the sanctuary’s feral herd for the rest of their lives (the non-captive group; nC). They gained their own harem of mares without human intervention (no human-controlled reproductive activity, nHC). Another five stallions were removed as weanlings, reared in captivity and then reintroduced as adults (captive, C). Three of these C stallions were used as in-hand breeding stallions, one as a “teaser” (human-controlled reproductive activity, HC) and one was not used for reproduction in captivity (nHC). Reproductive records for 46 mares, daughters of all 13 harem stallions, were scrutinized and cases of incestuous breeding were recorded by interrogation of foal parentage records. C stallions failed to expel more daughters than nC stallions (33% vs. 18%, P = 0.045), and mated with significantly more of them (28% vs. 11%, P = 0.025). Interestingly, HC stallions expelled fewer (60%) and successfully mated with more (33%) daughters that nHC stallions (84% expelled, P = 0.013, and 10% successful mating with daughters, P = 0.010). All HC stallions bred incestuously at least once. We propose that human intervention during a critical period of development of social and reproductive behavior in young stallions, by enforced separation from their natal herd and in-hand breeding, may contribute to their later aberrant behavior and disruption of inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in these stallions. The previous occurrence of human-controlled breeding may be one of the factors promoting incestuous behavior of stallions in natural conditions. The uninterrupted presence of stallions in their harems and herd member recognition may also play important roles in inbreeding avoidance in horses.
    • ‘I didn’t realise the variety of people that are climbers’: A sociological exploration of young women’s propensities to engage in indoor rock climbing

      Hewitt, Jack R.; McEvilly, Nollaig; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2021-12-02)
      This paper focuses on the increasingly popular leisure pursuit of indoor rock climbing amongst young women in the UK. Adopting a Bourdieusian perspective, we draw on the concepts of field, habitus and capital to explore the factors associated with young women’s propensities to start, and continue, engaging in this activity. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews with 12 women (aged 18-25), who had been regularly engaging in indoor climbing for at least six months. Thematic analysis of the transcripts led to the construction of three themes: preconceptions of a masculine field; habitual feelings of intimidation and inferiority; and deploying and accruing ‘climbing capital’. The findings indicate that climbing’s deep-rooted classification as a ‘man’s sport’ initially facilitated feelings of intimidation and inferiority amongst the women, inhibiting their propensity to participate. However, having been introduced to climbing (often by men, such as their boyfriends or brothers), the women found that the social aspects of the activity, along with the sense of achievement they felt when participating, meant they re-evaluated their preconceptions of the field. Their access to various forms of capital facilitated their continued engagement in the field.
    • ABO Blood Groups Do Not Predict Schistosoma mansoni Infection Profiles in Highly Endemic Villages of Uganda

      Francoeur, Rachel; Atuhaire, Alon; orcid: ; email: aaronatuhaire@gmail.com; Arinaitwe, Moses; orcid: ; email: moses0772359814@gmail.com; Adriko, Moses; orcid: 0000-0001-9748-1207; email: adrikomoses@gmail.com; Ajambo, Diana; orcid: ; email:; Nankasi, Andrina; orcid: ; email: n1andrina@gmail.com; Babayan, Simon; orcid: ; email: simon.babayan@glasgow.ac.uk; Lamberton, Poppy; orcid: 0000-0003-1048-6318; email: poppy.lamberton@glasgow.ac.uk (MDPI, 2021-11-27)
      Schistosoma mansoni is a parasite which causes significant public-health issues, with over 240 million people infected globally. In Uganda alone, approximately 11.6 million people are affected. Despite over a decade of mass drug administration in this country, hyper-endemic hotspots persist, and individuals who are repeatedly heavily and rapidly reinfected are observed. Human blood-type antigens are known to play a role in the risk of infection for a variety of diseases, due to cross-reactivity between host antibodies and pathogenic antigens. There have been conflicting results on the effect of blood type on schistosomiasis infection and pathology. Moreover, the effect of blood type as a potential intrinsic host factor on S. mansoni prevalence, intensity, clearance, and reinfection dynamics and on co-infection risk remains unknown. Therefore, the epidemiological link between host blood type and S. mansoni infection dynamics was assessed in three hyper-endemic communities in Uganda. Longitudinal data incorporating repeated pretreatment S. mansoni infection intensities and clearance rates were used to analyse associations between blood groups in school-aged children. Soil-transmitted helminth coinfection status and biometric parameters were incorporated in a generalised linear mixed regression model including age, gender, and body mass index (BMI), which have previously been established as significant factors influencing the prevalence and intensity of schistosomiasis. The analysis revealed no associations between blood type and S. mansoni prevalence, infection intensity, clearance, reinfection, or coinfection. Variations in infection profiles were significantly different between the villages, and egg burden significantly decreased with age. While blood type has proven to be a predictor of several diseases, the data collected in this study indicate that it does not play a significant role in S. mansoni infection burdens in these high-endemicity communities.
    • Behavioural Indicators of Intra- and Inter-Specific Competition: Sheep Co-Grazing with Guanaco in the Patagonian Steppe

      Fernandez, Tomas; Lancaster, Alex; Moraga, Claudio A.; Radic-Schilling, Sergio; von Hardenberg, Achaz; Corti, Paulo; Universidad Austral de Chile; University of Chester; Fundacion CEQUA; Universidad de Magallanes (MDPI, 2021-11-22)
      In extensive livestock production, high densities may inhibit regulation processes, main- taining high levels of intraspecific competition over time. During competition, individuals typically modify their behaviours, particularly feeding and bite rates, which can therefore be used as indicators of competition. Over eight consecutive seasons, we investigated if variation in herd density, food availability, and the presence of a potential competitor, the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), was related with behavioural changes in domestic sheep in Chilean Patagonia. Focal sampling, instantaneous scan sampling, measures of bite and movement rates were used to quantify behavioural changes in domestic sheep. We found that food availability increased time spent feeding, while herd density was associated with an increase in vigilant behaviour and a decrease in bite rate, but only when food availability was low. Guanaco presence appeared to have no impact on sheep behaviour. Our results suggest that the observed behavioural changes in domestic sheep are more likely due to intraspecific competition rather than interspecific competition. Consideration of intraspecific competition where guanaco and sheep co-graze on pastures could allow management strategies to focus on herd density, according to rangeland carrying capacity.
    • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Potential Links to Depression, Anxiety, and Chronic Stress

      Shea, Sue; Lionis, Christos; Kite, Chris; Atkinson, Lou; Chaggar, Surinderjeet; Randeva, Harpal S; Kyrou, Ioannis; University of Warwick; University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust; University of Crete; University of Chester; Coventry University; Aston University; Forum Health Centre; Agricultural University of Athens (MDPI, 2021-11-16)
      Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) constitutes the most common liver disease worldwide, and is frequently linked to the metabolic syndrome. The latter represents a clustering of related cardio-metabolic components, which are often observed in patients with NAFLD and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, growing evidence suggests a positive association between metabolic syndrome and certain mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, and chronic stress). Given the strong overlap between metabolic syndrome and NAFLD, and the common underlying mechanisms that link the two conditions, it is probable that potentially bidirectional associations are also present between NAFLD and mental health comorbidity. The identification of such links is worthy of further investigation, as this can inform more targeted interventions for patients with NAFLD. Therefore, the present review discusses published evidence in relation to associations of depression, anxiety, stress, and impaired health-related quality of life with NAFLD and metabolic syndrome. Attention is also drawn to the complex nature of affective disorders and potential overlapping symptoms between such conditions and NAFLD, while a focus is also placed on the postulated mechanisms mediating associations between mental health and both NAFLD and metabolic syndrome. Relevant gaps/weaknesses of the available literature are also highlighted, together with future research directions that need to be further explored.
    • Assessment of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D assays for Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) materials distributed at ambient and frozen conditions

      Sempos, Christopher T.; Williams, Emma L.; Carter, Graham D.; Jones, Julia; Camara, Johanna E.; Burdette, Carolyn Q.; Hahm, Grace; Nalin, Federica; Duewer, David L.; Kuszak, Adam J.; et al. (Springer, 2021-11-09)
      The Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) distributes human serum samples four times per year to over 1000 participants worldwide for the determination of total serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D)]. These samples are stored at −40 °C prior to distribution and the participants are instructed to store the samples frozen at −20 °C or lower after receipt; however, the samples are shipped to participants at ambient conditions (i.e., no temperature control). To address the question of whether shipment at ambient conditions is sufficient for reliable performance of various 25(OH)D assays, the equivalence of DEQAS human serum samples shipped under frozen and ambient conditions was assessed. As part of a Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) commutability study, two sets of the same nine DEQAS samples were shipped to participants at ambient temperature and frozen on dry ice. Twenty-eight laboratories participated in this study and provided 34 sets of results for the measurement of 25(OH)D using 20 ligand binding assays and 14 liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) methods. Equivalence of the assay response for the frozen versus ambient DEQAS samples for each assay was evaluated using multi-level modeling, paired t-tests including a false discovery rate (FDR) approach, and ordinary least squares linear regression analysis of frozen versus ambient results. Using the paired t-test and confirmed by FDR testing, differences in the results for the ambient and frozen samples were found to be statistically significant at p < 0.05 for four assays (DiaSorin, DIAsource, Siemens, and SNIBE prototype). For all 14 LC–MS/MS assays, the differences in the results for the ambient- and frozen-shipped samples were not found to be significant at p < 0.05 indicating that these analytes were stable during shipment at ambient conditions. Even though assay results have been shown to vary considerably among different 25(OH)D assays in other studies, the results of this study also indicate that sample handling/transport conditions may influence 25(OH)D assay response for several assays.
    • The internal and external demands of multi-directional running and the subsequent effect on side cut biomechanics in male and female team sport athletes

      Smith, Grace; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Oxendale, Chelsea L. (University of Chester, 2021-11)
      The aim of this thesis was to examine the physiological and biomechanical responses to multi-directional running in male and female team sport athletes. Chapter 4 compared measures of energy expenditure derived from indirect calorimetry and microtechnology, as well as high power and high-speed activity, during linear and multi-directional running. Measured energy expenditure was higher during the multidirectional trial (9.0 ± 2.0 cf. 5.9 ± 1.4 kcal.min-1), whereas estimated energy expenditure was higher during the linear trial (8.7 ± 2.1 cf. 6.5 ± 1.5 kcal.min-1). Whilst measures of energy expenditure were strongly related (r > 0.89, p < 0.001), metabolic power underestimated energy expenditure by 52% (95% LoA: 20-93%) and 34% (95% LoA: 12-59%) during the multi-directional and linear trial, respectively. Time at high power was 41% (95% LoA: 4-92%) greater than time at high speed during the multidirectional trial, whereas time at high power was 5% (95% LoA: -17-9%) lower than time at high speed during the linear trial. Chapter 5 explored the internal and external responses to linear and multi-directional running, specifically examining if measures of high speed and high power reflect changes in internal load. High speed distance (p < 0.001) was higher during the linear trial, whereas time at high power (p = 0.046) and accelerations performed (p < 0.001) were higher during the multi-directional trial. Summated HR (-0.8; ±0.5, p = 0.003), B[La] (-0.9; ±0.6, p = 0.002) and RPE (-0.7; ±0.6, p = 0.024) were higher during the multi-directional trial. There was a large difference in the ratio of high speed:summated HR (1.5; ±0.5, p = 0.001) and high speed:total V̇O2 (2.6; ±1.2, p < 0.001) between linear and multi-directional running, whilst high power:summated HR (0.3; ±0.5, p = 0.246) and high power:total V̇O2 (0.1;±0.8, p = 0.727) were similar. A small decrement in knee flexor torque was observed after the multi-directional (0.4; ±0.4, p = 0.017) and linear (0.2; ±0.3, p = 0.077) trials, respectively. Collectively, Chapters 4 and 5 reveal that more directional changes induce a greater internal response, despite reducing the high-speed distance someone is likely to cover. High power better reflects internal responses to multidirectional running than high speed, but microtechnology cannot be used to determine the absolute energy cost of multi-directional running. Chapters 6 and 7 explored alterations in side cut biomechanics in males and females immediately (Chapter 6) and 48 h (Chapter 7) after multi-directional running. In Chapter 6, 20 m sprint time was higher (ES: 0.65 – 1.17, p < 0.001) after multidirectional running, indicating the presence of fatigue. Males and females displayed trivial to moderate changes in trunk flexion (0.16 – 0.28, p = 0.082), peak hip internal rotation (0.46 – 0.54, p = 0.090), and knee flexion (0.17 – 0.41, p = 0.055) and higher knee abduction (0.40 – 0.51, p = 0.045) and internal rotation (0.59 – 0.81, p = 0.038) angular velocities, during the weight acceptance phase of side cuts after multidirectional running. Peak hip extensor (0.19 – 0.29, p = 0.055) and knee internal rotation moment (0.22 – 0.34, p = 0.052) displayed trivial to small increases after multidirectional running, whereas peak hip external rotation (0.44 – 0.57, p = 0.011), knee extensor (0.33 – 0.45, p = 0.003) moment and knee to hip extensor ratio (0.15 – 0.45, p = 0.005) were lower. In addition, IGRF displayed trivial to moderate changes (0.04 – 0.79, p = 0.066) and lateral GRF was lower (0.29 – 0.85, p = 0.002) after multidirectional running. In Chapter 7, CK concentration (2.4 – 4.94, p = 0.009), perceived muscle soreness (4.2 – 4.8, p < 0.001) and 20 m sprint time (0.6 – 0.9, p < 0.001) were higher 48 h after multi-directional running, indicating the presence of EIMD. Males and females displayed trivial to moderate changes in peak torso flexion (0.13 – 0.35, p = 0.055), hip internal rotation angular velocity (0.43 – 0.64, p = 0.073) and more knee internal rotation (0.31 – 0.5, p = 0.009) 48 h after multi-directional running. A tendency for an interaction between sex and time was noted for peak knee flexion (p = 0.068) and internal rotation angular velocity (p =0.057), with males only displaying a moderate increase. Males and females also displayed a lower peak knee extensor moment (0.43 – 0.56, p = 0.001) and a small increase in extensor moment (0.21 –0.46, p = 0.066) and knee external rotation moment (0.34 – 0.78, p = 0.062). An interaction between sex and time was noted for IGRF (p = 0.037); there was a large increase in IGRF at 48 h in females (1.4) but not males (0.08). For the first time, these data highlight multi-directional running which elicits fatigue and EIMD causes alterations in side cut biomechanics which can persist for at least 48 h. Specifically, both males and females performed side cuts in a more extended position, with higher peak angular velocities, and peak knee external rotation moments and less knee extensor moments both immediately and 48 h after multi-directional running.
    • Heterospecific Fear and Avoidance Behaviour in Domestic Horses (Equus caballus)

      Stanley, Christina; Wiśniewska, Anna; Janczarek, Iwona; Wilk, Izabela; Tkaczyk, Ewelina; Mierzicka, Martyna; Górecka‐Bruzda, Aleksandra; University of Chester; University of Life Sciences in Lublin; Polish Academy of Sciences (MDPI, 2021-10-28)
      Ridden horses have been reported to be fearful of cows. We tested whether cows could provoke behavioural and cardiac fear responses in horses, and whether these responses differ in magnitude to those shown to other potential dangers. Twenty horses were exposed to cow, a mobile object or no object. The time spent at different distances from the stimulus was measured. In a separate test, heart rate (HR), root mean square of successive differences between heartbeats (RMSSD) and the horses’ perceived fear were assessed at various distances from the stimuli. The horses avoided the area nearest to all stimuli. During hand‐leading, the cow elicited the highest HR and lowest RMSSD. Led horses’ responses to the cow and box were rated as more fearful as the distance to the stimulus decreased. Mares had a higher HR than geldings across all tests. HR positively correlated with the fearfulness rating at the furthest distance from the cow and box, and RMSSD negatively correlated with this rating in cow and control conditions. Our results show that these horses’ avoidance response to cows was similar or higher to that shown towards a novel moving object, demonstrating that potentially, both neophobia and heterospecific communication play a role in this reaction.
    • Interlaboratory Comparison of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Assays: Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) Intercomparison Study 2 – Part 2 Ligand Binding Assays – Impact of 25 Hydroxyvitamin D2 and 24R,25- Dihydroxyvitamin D3 on Assay Performance

      Mushtaq, Sohail; Wise, Stephen A.; Camara, Johanna E.; Burdette, Carolyn Q.; Hahm, Grace; Nalin, Federica; Kuszak, Adam J.; Merkel, Joyce; Durazo-Arvizu, Ramón A.; Williams, Emma L.; et al. (Springer, 2021-08-25)
      An interlaboratory comparison study was conducted by the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) to assess the performance of ligand binding assays (Part 2) for the determination of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. Fifty single-donor samples were assigned target values for concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 [25(OH)D2], 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3], 3-epi-25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [3-epi-25(OH)D3], and 24R,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [24R,25(OH)2D3] using isotope dilution liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (ID LC-MS/MS). VDSP Intercomparison Study 2 Part 2 includes results from 17 laboratories using 32 ligand binding assays. Assay performance was evaluated using mean % bias compared to the assigned target values and using linear regression analysis of the test assay mean results and the target values. Only 50% of the ligand binding assays achieved the VDSP criterion of mean % bias ≤ |± 5%|. For the 13 unique ligand binding assays evaluated in this study, only 4 assays were consistently within ± 5% mean bias and 4 assays were consistently outside ± 5% mean bias regardless of the laboratory performing the assay. Based on multivariable regression analysis using the concentrations of individual vitamin D metabolites in the 50 single-donor samples, most assays underestimate 25(OH)D2 and several assays (Abbott, bioMérieux, DiaSorin, IDS-EIA, and IDS-iSYS) may have cross-reactivity from 24R,25(OH)2D3. The results of this interlaboratory study represent the most comprehensive comparison of 25(OH)D ligand binding assays published to date and is the only study to assess the impact of 24R,25(OH)2D3 content using results from a reference measurement procedure.
    • Treatment-Free Remission in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: Can We Identify Prognostic Factors?

      Lucas, Claire; Saifullah, Hilbeen H.; University of Chester; University of Liverpool (MDPI, 2021-08-19)
      Following the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), the survival of patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) drastically improved. With the introduction of these agents, CML is now considered a chronic disease for some patients. Taking into consideration the side effects, toxicity, and high cost, discontinuing TKI became a goal for patients with chronic phase CML. Patients who achieved deep molecular response (DMR) and discontinued TKI, remained in treatment-free remission (TFR). Currently, the data from the published literature demonstrate that 40–60% of patients achieve TFR, with relapses occurring within the first six months. In addition, almost all patients who relapsed regained a molecular response upon retreatment, indicating TKI discontinuation is safe. However, there is still a gap in understanding the mechanisms behind TFR, and whether there are prognostic factors that can predict the best candidates who qualify for TKI discontinuation with a view to keeping them in TFR. Furthermore, the information about a second TFR attempt and the role of gradual de-escalation of TKI before complete cessation is limited. This review highlights the factors predicting success or failure of TFR. In addition, it examines the feasibility of a second TFR attempt after the failure of the first one, and the current guidelines concerning TFR in clinical practice.
    • Non-territorial GPS-tagged golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos at two Scottish wind farms: avoidance influenced by preferred habitat distribution, wind speed and blade motion status

      Fielding, Alan H; Anderson, David; Benn, Stuart; Dennis, Roy; Weston, Ewan; Whitfield, Philip; Natural Research Ltd; Forestry and Land Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation; University of Chester (Public Library of Science, 2021-08-05)
      Wind farms can have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. These effects may not be mutually exclusive. Using detailed data from 99 turbines at two wind farms in central Scotland and thousands of GPS-telemetry data from dispersing golden eagles, we tested three hypotheses. Before-and-after-operation analyses supported the hypothesis of avoidance: displacement was reduced at turbine locations in more preferred habitat and with more preferred habitat nearby. After-operation analyses (i.e. from the period when turbines were operational) showed that at higher wind speeds and in highly preferred habitat eagles were less wary of turbines with motionless blades: rejecting our second hypothesis. Our third hypothesis was supported, since at higher wind speeds eagles flew closer to operational turbines; especially – once more – turbines in more preferred habitat. After operation, eagles effectively abandoned inner turbine locations, and flight line records close to rotor blades were rare. While our study indicated that whole-wind farm functional habitat loss through avoidance was the substantial adverse impact, we make recommendations on future wind farm design to minimise collision risk further. These largely entail developers avoiding outer turbine locations which are in and surrounded by swathes of preferred habitat. Our study illustrates the insights which detailed case studies of large raptors at wind farms can bring and emphasises that the balance between avoidance and collision can have several influences.
    • A single dose of ChAdOx1 Chik vaccine induces neutralising antibodies against four chikungunya virus lineages in a phase 1 clinical trial

      Folegatti, Pedro M.; Harrison, Kate; Preciado-Llanes, Lorena; Ramos Lopez, Fernando; Bittaye, Mustapha; Kim, Young Chan; Flaxman, Amy; Bellamy, Duncan; Makinson, Rebecca; Sheridan, Jonathan; et al. (Nature Research, 2021-07-30)
      Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-borne virus that causes swift outbreaks. Major concerns are the persistent and disabling polyarthralgia in infected individuals. Here we present the results from a first-in-human trial of the candidate simian adenovirus vectored vaccine ChAdOx1 Chik, expressing the CHIKV full-length structural polyprotein (Capsid, E3, E2, 6k and E1). 24 adult healthy volunteers aged 18–50 years, were recruited in a dose escalation, open-label, nonrandomized and uncontrolled phase 1 trial (registry NCT03590392). Participants received a single intramuscular injection of ChAdOx1 Chik at one of the three preestablished dosages and were followed-up for 6 months. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability of ChAdOx1 Chik. The secondary objective was to assess the humoral and cellular immunogenicity. ChAdOx1 Chik was safe at all doses tested with no serious adverse reactions reported. The vast majority of solicited adverse events were mild or moderate, and self-limiting in nature. A single dose induced IgG and Tcell responses against the CHIKV structural antigens. Broadly neutralizing antibodies against the four CHIKV lineages were found in all participants and as early as 2 weeks after vaccination. In summary, ChAdOx1 Chik showed excellent safety, tolerability and 100% PRNT50 seroconversion after a single dose.
    • A Global Survey of Current Zoo Housing and Husbandry Practices for Fossa: A Preliminary Review

      Harley, Jessica J; orcid: 0000-0002-9355-9641; O’Hara, Lisa; email: education@taytopark.ie; Rose, Paul E.; orcid: 0000-0002-5375-8267; email: p.rose@exeter.ac.uk (MDPI, 2021-07-20)
      The fossa is a specialized Malagasy carnivore housed in ex situ facilities since the late 19th century. Moderate breeding success has occurred since the 1970s, and welfare issues (notably stereotypic pacing behaviour) are commonly documented. To understand challenges relating to fossa housing and husbandry (H) across global facilities and to identify areas of good practice that dovetail with available husbandry standards, a survey was distributed to ZIMS-registered zoos in 2017. Results showed that outdoor housing area and volume varied greatly across facilities, the majority of fossa expressed unnatural behaviours, with pacing behaviour the most frequently observed. All fossa received enrichment, and most had public access restricted to one or two sides of the enclosure. The majority of fossa were locked in/out as part of their daily management and forty-one percent of the fossa surveyed as breeding individuals bred at the zoo. Dense cover within an enclosure, restricted public viewing areas, a variable feeding schedule and limited view of another species from the fossa exhibit appear to reduce the risk of unnatural behavior being performed. The achievement of best practice fossa husbandry may be a challenge due to its specialized ecology, the limited wild information guiding captive care, and the range of housing dimensions and exhibit features provided by zoos that makes identification of standardized practices difficult. We recommended that holders evaluate how and when enrichment is provided and assess what they are providing for environmental complexity as well as consider how the public views their fossa.
    • Responses of dispersing GPS-tagged Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to multiple wind farms across Scotland

      Fielding, Alan H; Anderson, David; Benn, Stuart; Dennis, Roy; Geary, Matthew; Weston, Ewan; Whitfield, Phil; Natural Research Ltd; Forestry and Land Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-07-20)
      Wind farms may have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. Large raptors are often shown or presumed to be vulnerable to collision and are demographically sensitive to additional mortality, as exemplified by several studies of the Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Previous findings from Scottish Eagles, however, have suggested avoidance as the primary response. Our study used data from 59 GPS-tagged Golden Eagles with 28 284 records during natal dispersal before and after turbine operation < 1 km of 569 turbines at 80 wind farms across Scotland. We tested three hypotheses using measurements of tag records’ distance from the hub of turbine locations: (1) avoidance should be evident; (2) older birds should show less avoidance (i.e. habituate to turbines); and (3) rotor diameter should have no influence (smaller diameters are correlated with a turbine’s age, in examining possible habituation). Four generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) were constructed with intrinsic habitat preference of a turbine location using Golden Eagle Topography (GET) model, turbine operation status (before/after), bird age and rotor diameter as fixed factors. The best GLMM was subsequently verified by k-fold cross-validation and involved only GET habitat preference and presence of an operational turbine. Eagles were eight times less likely to be within a rotor diameter’s distance of a hub location after turbine operation, and modelled displacement distance was 70 m. Our first hypothesis expecting avoidance was supported. Eagles were closer to turbine locations in preferred habitat but at greater distances after turbine operation. Results on bird age (no influence to 5+ years) rejected hypothesis 2, implying no habituation. Support for hypothesis 3 (no influence of rotor diameter) also tentatively inferred no habituation, but data indicated birds went slightly closer to longer rotor blades although not to the turbine tower. We proffer that understanding why avoidance or collision in large raptors may occur can be conceptually envisaged via variation in fear of humans as the ‘super predator’ with turbines as cues to this life-threatening agent.
    • Evaluation of the Feasibility, Reliability, and Repeatability of Welfare Indicators in Free-Roaming Horses: A Pilot Study

      Harley, Jessica J; orcid: 0000-0002-9355-9641; Stack, J David; Braid, Helen; orcid: 0000-0003-2582-7584; McLennan, Krista M; orcid: 0000-0002-8888-540X; Stanley, Christina R. (MDPI, 2021-07-02)
      Validated assessment protocols have been developed to quantify welfare states for intensively managed sport, pleasure, and working horses. There are few protocols for extensively managed or free-roaming populations. Here, we trialed welfare indicators to ascertain their feasibility, reliability, and repeatability using free-roaming Carneddau Mountain ponies as an example population. The project involved (1) the identification of animal and resource-based measures of welfare from both the literature and discussion with an expert group; (2) testing the feasibility and repeatability of a modified body condition score and mobility score on 34 free-roaming and conservation grazing Carneddau Mountain ponies; and (3) testing a prototype welfare assessment template comprising 12 animal-based and 6 resource-based welfare indicators, with a total of 20 questions, on 35 free-roaming Carneddau Mountain ponies to quantify inter-assessor reliability and repeatability. This pilot study revealed that many of the indicators were successfully repeatable and had good levels of inter-assessor reliability. Some of the indicators could not be verified for reliability due to low/absent occurrence. The results indicated that many animal and resource-based indicators commonly used in intensively managed equine settings could be measured in-range with minor modifications. This study is an initial step toward validating a much-needed tool for the welfare assessment of free-roaming and conservation grazing ponies.
    • Assessment of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D assay commutability of Standard Reference Materials and College of American Pathologists Accuracy-Based Vitamin D (ABVD) Scheme and Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) materials: Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) Commutability Study 2

      Mushtaq, Sohail; Camara, Johanna E.; Wise, Stephen A.; Sempos, Christopher T.; University of Chester; National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); National Institutes of Health (NIH); Vitamin D Standardization Program LLC (Springer, 2021-06-28)
      An interlaboratory study was conducted through the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) to assess commutability of Standard Reference Materials® (SRMs) and proficiency testing/external quality assessment (PT/EQA) samples for determination of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using ligand binding assays and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). A set of 50 single-donor serum samples were assigned target values for 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 [25(OH)D2] and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] using reference measurement procedures (RMPs). SRM and PT/EQA samples evaluated included SRM 972a (four levels), SRM 2973, six College of American Pathologists (CAP) Accuracy-Based Vitamin D (ABVD) samples, and nine Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) samples. Results were received from 28 different laboratories using 20 ligand binding assays and 14 LC-MS/MS methods. Using the test assay results for total serum 25(OH)D (i.e., the sum of 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3) determined for the single-donor samples and the RMP target values, the linear regression and 95% prediction intervals (PIs) were calculated. Using a subset of 42 samples that had concentrations of 25(OH)D2 below 30 nmol/L, one or more of the SRM and PT/EQA samples with high concentrations of 25(OH)D2 were deemed non-commutable using 5 of 11 unique ligand binding assays. SRM 972a (level 4), which has high exogenous concentration of 3-epi-25(OH)D3, was deemed non-commutable for 50% of the LC-MS/MS assays.
    • Sleep disruption and depression, stress and anxiety levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) during the lockdown measures for COVID-19 in the UK

      Kite, Chris; Atkinson, Lou; McGregor, Gordon; Clark, Cain C T; Brown, James E; Kyrou, Ioannis; Randeva, Harpal S; University of Chester; Aston University; University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire National Health Service (NHS) Trust; Coventry University; University of Warwick (Frontiers Media, 2021-06-04)
      Background: Lockdown measures have been enforced globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the comorbidity burden in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), these lockdown measures may have a particularly negative impact on sleep health, quality of life (QoL), and depression/stress levels in this population. The aim of this study was to explore whether such potential problems were present in women with PCOS during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Methods: UK women with PCOS were recruited through social media into a cross-sectional study during the COVID-19 lockdown. The study survey was delivered online, and included demographic and COVID-19 relevant questions, as well as validated questionnaires/scales, namely the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), and PCOSQOL questionnaire. Results: Three hundred and thirty-three women with PCOS [median age: 30.0 (9.0) years] were recruited. Participants were dichotomized based on responses regarding the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their sleep [negative (N = 242) vs. no/positive (N = 91) impact]. No differences were noted between groups regarding age, time since PCOS diagnosis, body mass index, or number of comorbidities. Based on the ISI, 44.2% of participants reporting a negative impact on sleep exhibited at least moderately severe clinical insomnia. Compared to those who reported no/positive effect on sleep, the participants reporting a negative impact on sleep also reported poorer QoL, based on the total PCOSQOL score, with a greater impact of PCOS and poorer mood in the corresponding PCOSQOL domains. Based on the DASS-21, the latter also had statistically higher depression and stress levels compared to the former. Finally, for this cohort significant inverse correlations were noted between the ISI and PCOSQOL scores (total and domain scores), whilst the DASS-21 and ISI scores were positively correlated (all p-values <0.001). Conclusion: The majority of recruited UK women with PCOS reported that the COVID-19 lockdown had a negative impact on their sleep, which was also associated with impaired QoL and higher depression/stress levels. Whilst further research is required, women with PCOS should be considered a vulnerable population that may experience an adverse impact on sleep, QoL and mental health well-being due to lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • A massively multi-scale approach to characterizing tissue architecture by synchrotron micro-CT applied to the human placenta

      Tun, W. M.; orcid: 0000-0003-0991-8785; Poologasundarampillai, G.; orcid: 0000-0002-8498-323X; Bischof, H.; Nye, Gareth; King, O. N. F.; orcid: 0000-0002-6152-7207; Basham, M.; orcid: 0000-0002-8438-1415; Tokudome, Y.; Lewis, R. M.; orcid: 0000-0003-4044-9104; Johnstone, E. D.; Brownbill, P.; orcid: 0000-0002-8328-7072; email: paul.brownbill@manchester.ac.uk; et al. (The Royal Society, 2021-06-02)
      Multi-scale structural assessment of biological soft tissue is challenging but essential to gain insight into structure–function relationships of tissue/organ. Using the human placenta as an example, this study brings together sophisticated sample preparation protocols, advanced imaging and robust, validated machine-learning segmentation techniques to provide the first massively multi-scale and multi-domain information that enables detailed morphological and functional analyses of both maternal and fetal placental domains. Finally, we quantify the scale-dependent error in morphological metrics of heterogeneous placental tissue, estimating the minimal tissue scale needed in extracting meaningful biological data. The developed protocol is beneficial for high-throughput investigation of structure–function relationships in both normal and diseased placentas, allowing us to optimize therapeutic approaches for pathological pregnancies. In addition, the methodology presented is applicable in the characterization of tissue architecture and physiological behaviours of other complex organs with similarity to the placenta, where an exchange barrier possesses circulating vascular and avascular fluid spaces.
    • Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour due to enforced covid-19-related lockdown and movement restrictions: A protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

      Kite, Chris; Lagojda, Lukasz; Clark, Cain C T; Uthman, Olalekan; Denton, Francesca; McGregor, Gordon; Harwood, Amy E; Atkinson, Lou; Broom, David R; Kyrou, Ioannis; et al. (MDPI, 2021-05-14)
      Prolonged lockdown/restriction measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reportedly impacted opportunities to be physically active for a large proportion of the population in affected countries globally. The exact changes to physical activity and sedentary behaviours due to these measures have not been fully studied. Accordingly, the objective of this PROSPERO-registered systematic review is to evaluate the available evidence on physical activity and sedentary behaviours in the general population during COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures, compared to prior to restrictions being in place. Defined searches to identify eligible studies published in English, from November 2019 up to the date of submission, will be conducted using the following databases: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PSYCinfo, Coronavirus Research Database, Public Health Database, Publicly Available Content Database, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar. The applied inclusion criteria were selected to identify observational studies with no restrictions placed on participants, with outcomes regarding physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour during lockdown/restriction measures, and with comparisons for these outcomes to a time when no such measures were in place. Where appropriate, results from included studies will be pooled and effect estimates will be presented in random effects meta-analyses. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first systematic review to evaluate one complete year of published data on the impact of COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Thus, this systematic review and meta-analysis will constitute the most up-to-date synthesis of published evidence on any such documented changes, and so will comprehensively inform clinical practitioners, public health agencies, researchers, policymakers and the general public regarding the effects of lockdown/restriction measures on both physical activity and sedentary behaviour.