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Article
Vlassov V. The Lancet. 2014. Vol. 384. No. 9945. P. 766-781.

Background In 2010, overweight and obesity were estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths, 3.9% of years of life lost, and 3.8% of DALYs globally. The rise in obesity has led to widespread calls for regular monitoring of changes in overweight and obesity prevalence in all populations. Comparative, up-to-date information on levels and trends is essential both to quantify population health effects and to prompt decision-makers to prioritize action. Methods We systematically identified surveys, reports, and published studies (n = 1,769) that included information on height and weight, both through physical measurements and self-reports. Mixed effects linear regression was used to correct for the bias in self-reports. Age-sex-country-year observations (n = 19,244) on prevalence of obesity and overweight were synthesized using a spatio-temporal Gaussian Process Regression model to estimate prevalence with 95% uncertainty intervals. Findings Globally, the proportion of adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater increased from 28.8% (95% UI: 28.4-29.3) in 1980 to 36.9% (36.3-37.4) in 2013 for men and from 29.8% (29.3-30.2) to 38.0% (37.5-38.5) for women. Increases were observed in both developed and developing countries. There have been substantial increases in prevalence among children and adolescents in developed countries, with 23.8% (22.9-24.7) of boys and 22.6% (21.7-23.6) of girls being either overweight or obese in 2013. The prevalence of overweight and obesity is also rising among children and adolescents in developing countries as well, rising from 8.1% (7.7-8.6) to 12.9% (12.3-13.5) in 2013 for boys and from 8.4% (8.1-8.8) to 13.4% (13.0-13.9) in girls. Among adults, estimated prevalence of obesity exceeds 50% among men in Tonga and women in Kuwait, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, Tonga, and Samoa. Since 2006, the increase in adult obesity in developed countries has stabilized. Interpretation Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Contrary to other major global risks, there is little evidence of successful population-level intervention strategies to reduce exposure. Not only is obesity increasing, but there are no national success stories over the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is required to assist countries to more effectively intervene.

Added: Jun 7, 2014
Article
Vlassov V. The Lancet. 2017. Vol. 390. No. 10100. P. 1084-1150.

Background

Detailed assessments of mortality patterns, particularly age-specific mortality, represent a crucial input that enables health systems to target interventions to specific populations. Understanding how all-cause mortality has changed with respect to development status can identify exemplars for best practice. To accomplish this, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016 (GBD 2016) estimated age-specific and sex-specific all-cause mortality between 1970 and 2016 for 195 countries and territories and at the subnational level for the five countries with a population greater than 200 million in 2016.

Methods

We have evaluated how well civil registration systems captured deaths using a set of demographic methods called death distribution methods for adults and from consideration of survey and census data for children younger than 5 years. We generated an overall assessment of completeness of registration of deaths by dividing registered deaths in each location-year by our estimate of all-age deaths generated from our overall estimation process. For 163 locations, including subnational units in countries with a population greater than 200 million with complete vital registration (VR) systems, our estimates were largely driven by the observed data, with corrections for small fluctuations in numbers and estimation for recent years where there were lags in data reporting (lags were variable by location, generally between 1 year and 6 years). For other locations, we took advantage of different data sources available to measure under-5 mortality rates (U5MR) using complete birth histories, summary birth histories, and incomplete VR with adjustments; we measured adult mortality rate (the probability of death in individuals aged 15–60 years) using adjusted incomplete VR, sibling histories, and household death recall. We used the U5MR and adult mortality rate, together with crude death rate due to HIV in the GBD model life table system, to estimate age-specific and sex-specific death rates for each location-year. Using various international databases, we identified fatal discontinuities, which we defined as increases in the death rate of more than one death per million, resulting from conflict and terrorism, natural disasters, major transport or technological accidents, and a subset of epidemic infectious diseases; these were added to estimates in the relevant years. In 47 countries with an identified peak adult prevalence for HIV/AIDS of more than 0·5% and where VR systems were less than 65% complete, we informed our estimates of age-sex-specific mortality using the Estimation and Projection Package (EPP)-Spectrum model fitted to national HIV/AIDS prevalence surveys and antenatal clinic serosurveillance systems. We estimated stillbirths, early neonatal, late neonatal, and childhood mortality using both survey and VR data in spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression models. We estimated abridged life tables for all location-years using age-specific death rates. We grouped locations into development quintiles based on the Socio-demographic Index (SDI) and analysed mortality trends by quintile. Using spline regression, we estimated the expected mortality rate for each age-sex group as a function of SDI. We identified countries with higher life expectancy than expected by comparing observed life expectancy to anticipated life expectancy on the basis of development status alone.

Findings

Completeness in the registration of deaths increased from 28% in 1970 to a peak of 45% in 2013; completeness was lower after 2013 because of lags in reporting. Total deaths in children younger than 5 years decreased from 1970 to 2016, and slower decreases occurred at ages 5–24 years. By contrast, numbers of adult deaths increased in each 5-year age bracket above the age of 25 years. The distribution of annualised rates of change in age-specific mortality rate differed over the period 2000 to 2016 compared with earlier decades: increasing annualised rates of change were less frequent, although rising annualised rates of change still occurred in some locations, particularly for adolescent and younger adult age groups. Rates of stillbirths and under-5 mortality both decreased globally from 1970. Evidence for global convergence of death rates was mixed; although the absolute difference between age-standardised death rates narrowed between countries at the lowest and highest levels of SDI, the ratio of these death rates—a measure of relative inequality—increased slightly. There was a strong shift between 1970 and 2016 toward higher life expectancy, most noticeably at higher levels of SDI. Among countries with populations greater than 1 million in 2016, life expectancy at birth was highest for women in Japan, at 86·9 years (95% UI 86·7–87·2), and for men in Singapore, at 81·3 years (78·8–83·7) in 2016. Male life expectancy was generally lower than female life expectancy between 1970 and 2016, and the gap between male and female life expectancy increased with progression to higher levels of SDI. Some countries with exceptional health performance in 1990 in terms of the difference in observed to expected life expectancy at birth had slower progress on the same measure in 2016.

Interpretation

Globally, mortality rates have decreased across all age groups over the past five decades, with the largest improvements occurring among children younger than 5 years. However, at the national level, considerable heterogeneity remains in terms of both level and rate of changes in age-specific mortality; increases in mortality for certain age groups occurred in some locations. We found evidence that the absolute gap between countries in age-specific death rates has declined, although the relative gap for some age-sex groups increased. Countries that now lead in terms of having higher observed life expectancy than that expected on the basis of development alone, or locations that have either increased this advantage or rapidly decreased the deficit from expected levels, could provide insight into the means to accelerate progress in nations where progress has stalled.

 

Added: Sep 15, 2017
Article
Vlassov V. The Lancet. 2016. Vol. 388. No. 10053. P. 1725-1774.

BACKGROUND: Established in 2000, Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) catalysed extraordinary political, financial, and social commitments to reduce under-5 mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. At the country level, the pace of progress in improving child survival has varied markedly, highlighting a crucial need to further examine potential drivers of accelerated or slowed decreases in child mortality. The Global Burden of Disease 2015 Study (GBD 2015) provides an analytical framework to comprehensively assess these trends for under-5 mortality, age-specific and cause-specific mortality among children under 5 years, and stillbirths by geography over time. METHODS: Drawing from analytical approaches developed and refined in previous iterations of the GBD study, we generated updated estimates of child mortality by age group (neonatal, post-neonatal, ages 1-4 years, and under 5) for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational geographies, from 1980-2015. We also estimated numbers and rates of stillbirths for these geographies and years. Gaussian process regression with data source adjustments for sampling and non-sampling bias was applied to synthesise input data for under-5 mortality for each geography. Age-specific mortality estimates were generated through a two-stage age-sex splitting process, and stillbirth estimates were produced with a mixed-effects model, which accounted for variable stillbirth definitions and data source-specific biases. For GBD 2015, we did a series of novel analyses to systematically quantify the drivers of trends in child mortality across geographies. First, we assessed observed and expected levels and annualised rates of decrease for under-5 mortality and stillbirths as they related to the Soci-demographic Index (SDI). Second, we examined the ratio of recorded and expected levels of child mortality, on the basis of SDI, across geographies, as well as differences in recorded and expected annualised rates of change for under-5 mortality. Third, we analysed levels and cause compositions of under-5 mortality, across time and geographies, as they related to rising SDI. Finally, we decomposed the changes in under-5 mortality to changes in SDI at the global level, as well as changes in leading causes of under-5 deaths for countries and territories. We documented each step of the GBD 2015 child mortality estimation process, as well as data sources, in accordance with the Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER). FINDINGS: Globally, 5.8 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 5.7-6.0) children younger than 5 years died in 2015, representing a 52.0% (95% UI 50.7-53.3) decrease in the number of under-5 deaths since 1990. Neonatal deaths and stillbirths fell at a slower pace since 1990, decreasing by 42.4% (41.3-43.6) to 2.6 million (2.6-2.7) neonatal deaths and 47.0% (35.1-57.0) to 2.1 million (1.8-2.5) stillbirths in 2015. Between 1990 and 2015, global under-5 mortality decreased at an annualised rate of decrease of 3.0% (2.6-3.3), falling short of the 4.4% annualised rate of decrease required to achieve MDG4. During this time, 58 countries met or exceeded the pace of progress required to meet MDG4. Between 2000, the year MDG4 was formally enacted, and 2015, 28 additional countries that did not achieve the 4.4% rate of decrease from 1990 met the MDG4 pace of decrease. However, absolute levels of under-5 mortality remained high in many countries, with 11 countries still recording rates exceeding 100 per 1000 livebirths in 2015. Marked decreases in under-5 deaths due to a number of communicable diseases, including lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, measles, and malaria, accounted for much of the progress in lowering overall under-5 mortality in low-income countries. Compared with gains achieved for infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies, the persisting toll of neonatal conditions and congenital anomalies on child survival became evident, especially in low-income and low-middle-income countries. We found sizeable heterogeneities in comparing observed and expected rates of under-5 mortality, as well as differences in observed and expected rates of change for under-5 mortality. At the global level, we recorded a divergence in observed and expected levels of under-5 mortality starting in 2000, with the observed trend falling much faster than what was expected based on SDI through 2015. Between 2000 and 2015, the world recorded 10.3 million fewer under-5 deaths than expected on the basis of improving SDI alone. INTERPRETATION: Gains in child survival have been large, widespread, and in many places in the world, faster than what was anticipated based on improving levels of development. Yet some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, still had high rates of under-5 mortality in 2015. Unless these countries are able to accelerate reductions in child deaths at an extraordinary pace, their achievement of proposed SDG targets is unlikely. Improving the evidence base on drivers that might hasten the pace of progress for child survival, ranging from cost-effective intervention packages to innovative financing mechanisms, is vital to charting the pathways for ultimately ending preventable child deaths by 2030. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Added: Apr 11, 2014
Article
Vlassov V. The Lancet. 2016. Vol. 388. No. 10053. P. 1725-1774.

Background

Established in 2000, Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) catalysed extraordinary political, financial, and social commitments to reduce under-5 mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. At the country level, the pace of progress in improving child survival has varied markedly, highlighting a crucial need to further examine potential drivers of accelerated or slowed decreases in child mortality. The Global Burden of Disease 2015 Study (GBD 2015) provides an analytical framework to comprehensively assess these trends for under-5 mortality, age-specific and cause-specific mortality among children under 5 years, and stillbirths by geography over time.

Methods

Drawing from analytical approaches developed and refined in previous iterations of the GBD study, we generated updated estimates of child mortality by age group (neonatal, post-neonatal, ages 1–4 years, and under 5) for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational geographies, from 1980–2015. We also estimated numbers and rates of stillbirths for these geographies and years. Gaussian process regression with data source adjustments for sampling and non-sampling bias was applied to synthesise input data for under-5 mortality for each geography. Age-specific mortality estimates were generated through a two-stage age–sex splitting process, and stillbirth estimates were produced with a mixed-effects model, which accounted for variable stillbirth definitions and data source-specific biases. For GBD 2015, we did a series of novel analyses to systematically quantify the drivers of trends in child mortality across geographies. First, we assessed observed and expected levels and annualised rates of decrease for under-5 mortality and stillbirths as they related to the Soci-demographic Index (SDI). Second, we examined the ratio of recorded and expected levels of child mortality, on the basis of SDI, across geographies, as well as differences in recorded and expected annualised rates of change for under-5 mortality. Third, we analysed levels and cause compositions of under-5 mortality, across time and geographies, as they related to rising SDI. Finally, we decomposed the changes in under-5 mortality to changes in SDI at the global level, as well as changes in leading causes of under-5 deaths for countries and territories. We documented each step of the GBD 2015 child mortality estimation process, as well as data sources, in accordance with the Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER).

Findings

Globally, 5·8 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 5·7–6·0) children younger than 5 years died in 2015, representing a 52·0% (95% UI 50·7–53·3) decrease in the number of under-5 deaths since 1990. Neonatal deaths and stillbirths fell at a slower pace since 1990, decreasing by 42·4% (41·3–43·6) to 2·6 million (2·6–2·7) neonatal deaths and 47·0% (35·1–57·0) to 2·1 million (1·8-2·5) stillbirths in 2015. Between 1990 and 2015, global under-5 mortality decreased at an annualised rate of decrease of 3·0% (2·6–3·3), falling short of the 4·4% annualised rate of decrease required to achieve MDG4. During this time, 58 countries met or exceeded the pace of progress required to meet MDG4. Between 2000, the year MDG4 was formally enacted, and 2015, 28 additional countries that did not achieve the 4·4% rate of decrease from 1990 met the MDG4 pace of decrease. However, absolute levels of under-5 mortality remained high in many countries, with 11 countries still recording rates exceeding 100 per 1000 livebirths in 2015. Marked decreases in under-5 deaths due to a number of communicable diseases, including lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, measles, and malaria, accounted for much of the progress in lowering overall under-5 mortality in low-income countries. Compared with gains achieved for infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies, the persisting toll of neonatal conditions and congenital anomalies on child survival became evident, especially in low-income and low-middle-income countries. We found sizeable heterogeneities in comparing observed and expected rates of under-5 mortality, as well as differences in observed and expected rates of change for under-5 mortality. At the global level, we recorded a divergence in observed and expected levels of under-5 mortality starting in 2000, with the observed trend falling much faster than what was expected based on SDI through 2015. Between 2000 and 2015, the world recorded 10·3 million fewer under-5 deaths than expected on the basis of improving SDI alone.

Interpretation

Gains in child survival have been large, widespread, and in many places in the world, faster than what was anticipated based on improving levels of development. Yet some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, still had high rates of under-5 mortality in 2015. Unless these countries are able to accelerate reductions in child deaths at an extraordinary pace, their achievement of proposed SDG targets is unlikely. Improving the evidence base on drivers that might hasten the pace of progress for child survival, ranging from cost-effective intervention packages to innovative financing mechanisms, is vital to charting the pathways for ultimately ending preventable child deaths by 2030.

Added: Oct 13, 2016
Article
Vlassov V. The Lancet. 2017. Vol. 390. No. 10091. P. 231-266.

Background

National levels of personal health-care access and quality can be approximated by measuring mortality rates from causes that should not be fatal in the presence of effective medical care (ie, amenable mortality). Previous analyses of mortality amenable to health care only focused on high-income countries and faced several methodological challenges. In the present analysis, we use the highly standardised cause of death and risk factor estimates generated through the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) to improve and expand the quantification of personal health-care access and quality for 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2015.

Methods

We mapped the most widely used list of causes amenable to personal health care developed by Nolte and McKee to 32 GBD causes. We accounted for variations in cause of death certification and misclassifications through the extensive data standardisation processes and redistribution algorithms developed for GBD. To isolate the effects of personal health-care access and quality, we risk-standardised cause-specific mortality rates for each geography-year by removing the joint effects of local environmental and behavioural risks, and adding back the global levels of risk exposure as estimated for GBD 2015. We employed principal component analysis to create a single, interpretable summary measure–the Healthcare Quality and Access (HAQ) Index–on a scale of 0 to 100. The HAQ Index showed strong convergence validity as compared with other health-system indicators, including health expenditure per capita (r=0·88), an index of 11 universal health coverage interventions (r=0·83), and human resources for health per 1000 (r=0·77). We used free disposal hull analysis with bootstrapping to produce a frontier based on the relationship between the HAQ Index and the Socio-demographic Index (SDI), a measure of overall development consisting of income per capita, average years of education, and total fertility rates. This frontier allowed us to better quantify the maximum levels of personal health-care access and quality achieved across the development spectrum, and pinpoint geographies where gaps between observed and potential levels have narrowed or widened over time.

Findings

Between 1990 and 2015, nearly all countries and territories saw their HAQ Index values improve; nonetheless, the difference between the highest and lowest observed HAQ Index was larger in 2015 than in 1990, ranging from 28·6 to 94·6. Of 195 geographies, 167 had statistically significant increases in HAQ Index levels since 1990, with South Korea, Turkey, Peru, China, and the Maldives recording among the largest gains by 2015. Performance on the HAQ Index and individual causes showed distinct patterns by region and level of development, yet substantial heterogeneities emerged for several causes, including cancers in highest-SDI countries; chronic kidney disease, diabetes, diarrhoeal diseases, and lower respiratory infections among middle-SDI countries; and measles and tetanus among lowest-SDI countries. While the global HAQ Index average rose from 40·7 (95% uncertainty interval, 39·0–42·8) in 1990 to 53·7 (52·2–55·4) in 2015, far less progress occurred in narrowing the gap between observed HAQ Index values and maximum levels achieved; at the global level, the difference between the observed and frontier HAQ Index only decreased from 21·2 in 1990 to 20·1 in 2015. If every country and territory had achieved the highest observed HAQ Index by their corresponding level of SDI, the global average would have been 73·8 in 2015. Several countries, particularly in eastern and western sub-Saharan Africa, reached HAQ Index values similar to or beyond their development levels, whereas others, namely in southern sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia, lagged behind what geographies of similar development attained between 1990 and 2015.

Interpretation

This novel extension of the GBD Study shows the untapped potential for personal health-care access and quality improvement across the development spectrum. Amid substantive advances in personal health care at the national level, heterogeneous patterns for individual causes in given countries or territories suggest that few places have consistently achieved optimal health-care access and quality across health-system functions and therapeutic areas. This is especially evident in middle-SDI countries, many of which have recently undergone or are currently experiencing epidemiological transitions. The HAQ Index, if paired with other measures of health-system characteristics such as intervention coverage, could provide a robust avenue for tracking progress on universal health coverage and identifying local priorities for strengthening personal health-care quality and access throughout the world.

 

Added: May 28, 2017
Article
Vlassov V. JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association. 1995. Vol. 273. No. 20. P. 1569-1573.

FOR DECADES Russian leaders sacrificed health care to the financial and human resource needs of military and space efforts. Centralized and government controlled in every respect, Soviet health care became disjointed, inequitable, and inadequate.1 Presumably egalitarian, the health care system was in fact strictly hierarchical. Bribery to obtain better quality care was common. Physicians had access only to Soviet medical literature. The government concealed information about scientific and clinical advances produced outside of the Soviet Union from most physicians and the general public. Limited information was available, but only in restricted areas of selected central libraries in Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg). Concurrent environmental pollution, alcoholism,2 tobacco addiction, and poor nutrition led to public health crises of major proportions.3

Added: Jun 1, 2017
Article
Mordvinova M., Endaltseva A. Journal of Communication in Healthcare: Strategies, Media, and Engagement in Global Health. 2015. Vol. 8. No. 4. P. 325-334.

Smoking regulation constitutes a challenging issue for both developed and developing countries that aim to improve their state of public health and constituent wellbeing. Anti-smoking information and communication campaigns accompanying regulation acts can either enhance or sabotage national policy initiatives. This is especially salient in countries like Russia, where smoking is one of the top public health threats and causes of population decline.1 As such, critical analysis of the message effectiveness of Russia’s anti-smoking campaign is warranted. This study employs frame analysis to examine the anti-smoking messages embedded in the sections of Federal Law No. 15 that regulate the information and communication campaigns. The study’s results illustrate that in addition to the lack of a comprehensive, effective public relations campaign promoting smoking cessation, the rhetoric guiding the enforcement of the anti-smoking legislation enforcement is doomed to yield desired results. This study suggests recommendations for reframing existing messages to enable a more comprehensive and effective Russian anti-smoking.

Added: Sep 3, 2015
Article
Vlassov V. New England Journal of Medicine. 2017. Vol. 377. No. 1. P. 13-27.

BACKGROUND:

Although the rising pandemic of obesity has received major attention in many countries, the effects of this attention on trends and the disease burden of obesity remain uncertain.

METHODS:

We analyzed data from 68.5 million persons to assess the trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adults between 1980 and 2015. Using the Global Burden of Disease study data and methods, we also quantified the burden of disease related to high body-mass index (BMI), according to age, sex, cause, and BMI in 195 countries between 1990 and 2015.

RESULTS:

In 2015, a total of 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were obese. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries and has continuously increased in most other countries. Although the prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than that among adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries has been greater than the rate of increase in adult obesity. High BMI accounted for 4.0 million deaths globally, nearly 40% of which occurred in persons who were not obese. More than two thirds of deaths related to high BMI were due to cardiovascular disease. The disease burden related to high BMI has increased since 1990; however, the rate of this increase has been attenuated owing to decreases in underlying rates of death from cardiovascular disease.

CONCLUSIONS:

The rapid increase in the prevalence and disease burden of elevated BMI highlights the need for continued focus on surveillance of BMI and identification, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to address this problem. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.).

 

Added: Jul 9, 2017
Article
Semenkov V., Michalski A. I., Sapozhnikov A. Frontiers in Genetics. 2015. Vol. 6. No. JUL, Article number 245.

Different environmental factors (i.e., toxins, heavy metals, ultraviolet (UV) rays, and X-radiation) cause damage to DNA, cell membranes and other organelles and induce oxidative stress, which results in the excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by phagocytes. All types of cell stress are accompanied by the activation of anti-stress genes that can suppress ROS synthesis. We hypothesized that different environmental factors would affect organisms through the activation of anti-stress genes by autologous serum (AS) proteins, followed by the synthesis of molecules that increase cell resistance to oxidative stress. The goal of this work was to study the influence of AS on ROS production by peripheral blood neutrophils isolated from donors in different age groups. Neutrophils were isolated from 59 donors (38-94 years old). AS was heated at 100°C for 30 s. or irradiated by UV light at 200-280 nm and 8 W for 10 min. Neutrophils were exposed to heat shock at 42°C for 1 min. (short-term heating stress) or 43°C for 10 min., followed by the determination of the chemiluminescence reaction induced by zymosan. AS can increase or decrease ROS production by neutrophils depending on the structure of the proteins in the serum; these structures can be changed by heating or UV treatment and the temperature of their interaction (4 or 37°C). We propose that the effect of environmental factors on AS proteins can cause an adverse increase in oxidative stress levels due to the functional reduction of anti-stress genes. We found a negative correlation between the quantity of intracellular Hsp70 and levels of intracellular ROS production following 10 min of heat shock at 43°C. Short-term heating stress (1 min) at 42°C was followed by a prominent reduction in ROS production. This effect may be a result of the impact of the hormone adrenaline on the functions of anti-stress genes. Indeed, the same effect was observed after treatment of the neutrophils with adrenaline at concentrations of 10-4 and 10-5 M. In contrast, dexamethasone from the other stress hormone group did not evoke the same effect at the same concentrations. © 2015 Semenkov, Michalski and Sapozhnikov.

Added: Oct 8, 2015
Article
Heimer R., Eritsyan K., Barbour R. et al. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2014. No. 14 (Suppl 6): S12.

Methods

PWID were recruited using respondent-driven sampling (RDS) in eight Russian cities. A standardized survey was administered to collect sociodemographic and behavioral information. Blood specimens were obtained for serological testing for HCV and HIV-1. Data across the eight sites were pooled to identify individual-, network-, and city-level factors associated with positive HCV serostatus.

Results

Among 2,596 PWID participating in the study, 1,837 tested positive for HCV (71%). The sample was 73% male and the mean age was 28. Very few PWID reported regular contact with harm reduction programs. Factors associated with testing positive for HCV were longer duration of injection drug use, testing positive for HIV-1, sharing non-syringe injection paraphernalia and water for rinsing syringes, and larger social network size. Factors negatively associated with HCV-positive serostatus were injecting with a used syringe and two city-level factors: longer mean RDS recruitment chain in a city and higher levels of injecting stimulants.

Conclusions

HCV prevalence in all eight Russian cities is at the higher end of the range of HCV prevalence among PWID in Europe, which provides evidence that more resources, better prevention programs, and accelerated treatment targeting PWID are needed to control the HCV epidemic.

Added: Mar 6, 2018
Article
Schönwiesner M., Nikolai Novitski, Pakarinen S. et al. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2007. Vol. 97. P. 2075-2082.

A part of the auditory system automatically detects changes in the acoustic environment. This preattentional process has been studied extensively, yet its cerebral origins have not been determined with sufficient accuracy to allow comparison to established anatomical and functional parcellations. Here we used event-related functional MRI and EEG in a parametric experimental design to determine the cortical areas in individual brains that participate in the detection of acoustic changes. Our results suggest that automatic change processing consists of at least three stages: initial detection in the primary auditory cortex, detailed analysis in the posterior superior temporal gyrus and planum temporale, and judgment of sufficient novelty for the allocation of attentional resources in the mid-ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

Added: Jul 10, 2015
Article
Malyutina S., Den Ouden D. NeuroRegulation. 2015. Vol. 2. No. 3. P. 111-125.

High-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) is a novel brain stimulation method that has high potential for use in language therapy for speakers with aphasia, due to its safety and focality. This study aimed to obtain foundational data on using HD-tDCS to modulate language processing in healthy speakers. Participants received stimulation either of Broca’s area or of the left angular gyrus (20 min of anodal, cathodal, and sham stimulation on separate days), followed by naming and lexical decision tasks with single-word verb and noun stimuli. We found that cathodal stimulation over both Broca’s area and the left angular gyrus increased naming speed for both verbs and nouns, challenging the traditional view of cathodal stimulation as suppressive or leading to decreased performance. The effect did not extend to the lexical decision task. Additionally, effects of specific stimulation types depended on the order of their administration, suggesting possible physiological carry-over and/or task novelty effects. These results are relevant to the application of HD-tDCS to enhance and direct neural plasticity in patients with neurogenic language disorders.

Added: Oct 9, 2015
Article
V. V. Galatenko, Shkurnikov M. Y., Samatov T. R. et al. Scientific Reports. 2015. Vol. 5.

Genes with significant differential expression are traditionally used to reveal the genetic background underlying phenotypic differences between cancer cells. We hypothesized that informative marker sets can be obtained by combining genes with a relatively low degree of individual differential expression. We developed a method for construction of highly informative gene combinations aimed at the maximization of the cumulative informative power and identified sets of 2–5 genes efficiently predicting recurrence for ER-positive breast cancer patients. The gene combinations constructed on the basis of microarray data were successfully applied to data acquired by RNA-seq. The developed method provides the basis for the generation of highly efficient prognostic and predictive gene signatures for cancer and other diseases. The identified gene sets can potentially reveal novel essential segments of gene interaction networks and pathways implied in cancer progression.

Added: Oct 27, 2015
Article
Maltseva D. V., Khaustova N. A., Fedotov N. N. et al. Journal of Clinical Bioinformatics. 2013. Vol. 3. No. 1.

Background

Quantification and normalization of RT-qPCR data critically depends on the expression of so called reference genes. Our goal was to develop a strategy for the selection of reference genes that utilizes microarray data analysis and combines known approaches for gene stability evaluation and to select a set of appropriate reference genes for research and clinical analysis of breast samples with different receptor and cancer status using this strategy.

Methods

A preliminary search of reference genes was based on high-throughput analysis of microarray datasets. The final selection and validation of the candidate genes were based on the RT-qPCR data analysis using several known methods for expression stability evaluation: comparative ∆Ct method, geNorm, NormFinder and Haller equivalence test.

Results

A set of five reference genes was identified: ACTB, RPS23, HUWE1, EEF1A1 and SF3A1. The initial selection was based on the analysis of publically available well-annotated microarray datasets containing different breast cancers and normal breast epithelium from breast cancer patients and epithelium from cancer-free patients. The final selection and validation were performed using RT-qPCR data from 39 breast cancer biopsy samples. Three genes from the final set were identified by the means of microarray analysis and were novel in the context of breast cancer assay. We showed that the selected set of reference genes is more stable in comparison not only with individual genes, but also with a system of reference genes used in commercial OncotypeDX test.

Conclusion

A selection of reference genes for RT-qPCR can be efficiently performed by combining a preliminary search based on the high-throughput analysis of microarray datasets and final selection and validation based on the analysis of RT-qPCR data with a simultaneous examination of different expression stability measures. The identified set of reference genes proved to be less variable and thus potentially more efficient for research and clinical analysis of breast samples comparing to individual genes and the set of reference genes used in OncotypeDX assay.

Added: Oct 30, 2015
Article
Sadykov R. A. Journal of Social Policy Studies. 2016. Vol. 14. No. 4. P. 597-608.

This article is based on the results of research into the professional status and professionalisation of homeopathy in Russia. The theoretical framework is based on the connection of concepts such as social closure, autonomy and professionalisation, which accords to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of studying professions. This framework helps analyze some of the parameters of professional homeopaths’ status, namely the economic, power-related and socio-cultural aspects. The examination is based on qualitative and quantitative data obtained from semi-structured interviews with homeopaths and a survey conducted by the author at the Annual Moscow Conference of Homeopathy as well as information gained in the course of the secondary data analysis. The survey was used, in part, to clarify and add to the questions that had arisen in the interviews. In order to define the level of individual autonomy among homeopaths we developed quantitative indicators. The data demonstrates that the economic status of Russian homeopathy specialists is relatively low, that professional associations play a limited role in the self-regulation of the group, and that the mechanisms of social closure are weak. All this hinders homeopaths’ professionalisation. Nonetheless, homeopaths find a sufficiently high level of individual autonomy as homeopathic practice is not strictly standardised. Today homeopaths as a group face the choice between two professionalisation strategies. One offers the standardisation of homeopathy, which will allow it to better integrate into conventional medicine but threatens ordinary homeopathy practices with a loss of autonomy. Another strategy proposes the rejection of standardisation and integration, instead focusing on the preservation of the unique identity and autonomy of the practice. The choice to move in one direction or the other is a dilemma for homeopaths as each option possesses its own advantages and restrictions.

Added: Oct 3, 2016
Article
Shishkin S. The Lancet. 2017. Vol. 390. No. 10102. P. 1612-1613.

The Russian health care system retains the main characteristics of medical care delivery in the Soviet Union. However the transition from socialism to capitalism in the 90s and the economic growth in the 2000s had a significant impact on accessibility of medical care. 

Added: Oct 23, 2017
Article
Pianykh O., Stites M. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2016. Vol. 206. No. 4. P. 797-804.

OBJECTIVE: Despite the long history of digital radiology, one of its most critical aspects-information security-still remains extremely underdeveloped and poorly standardized. To study the current state of radiology security, we explored the worldwide security of medical image archives. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using the DICOM data-transmitting standard, we implemented a highly parallel application to scan the entire World Wide Web of networked computers and devices, locating open and unprotected radiology servers. We used only legal and radiology-compliant tools. Our security-probing application initiated a standard DICOM handshake to remote computer or device addresses, and then assessed their security posture on the basis of handshake replies. RESULTS: The scan discovered a total of 2774 unprotected radiology or DICOM servers worldwide. Of those, 719 were fully open to patient data communications. Geolocation was used to analyze and rank our findings according to country utilization. As a result, we built maps and world ranking of clinical security, suggesting that even the most radiology-advanced countries have hospitals with serious security gaps. CONCLUSION: Despite more than two decades of active development and implementation, our radiology data still remains insecure. The results provided should be applied to raise awareness and begin an earnest dialogue toward elimination of the problem. The application we designed and the novel scanning approach we developed can be used to identify security breaches and to eliminate them before they are compromised. © American Roentgen Ray Society.

Added: Jun 2, 2016
Article
Thiel S. D., Bitzer S., Nierhaus T. et al. Plos One. 2014. Vol. 2. No. 9. P. e89802.

Perceptual decisions not only depend on the incoming information from sensory systems but constitute a combination of current sensory evidence and internally accumulated information from past encounters. Although recent evidence emphasizes the fundamental role of prior knowledge for perceptual decision making, only few studies have quantified the relevance of such priors on perceptual decisions and examined their interplay with other decision-relevant factors, such as the stimulus properties. In the present study we asked whether hysteresis, describing the stability of a percept despite a change in stimulus property and known to occur at perceptual thresholds, also acts as a form of an implicit prior in tactile spatial decision making, supporting the stability of a decision across successively presented random stimuli (i.e., decision hysteresis). We applied a variant of the classical 2-point discrimination task and found that hysteresis influenced perceptual decision making: Participants were more likely to decide 'same' rather than 'different' on successively presented pin distances. In a direct comparison between the influence of applied pin distances (explicit stimulus property) and hysteresis, we found that on average, stimulus property explained significantly more variance of participants' decisions than hysteresis. However, when focusing on pin distances at threshold, we found a trend for hysteresis to explain more variance. Furthermore, the less variance was explained by the pin distance on a given decision, the more variance was explained by hysteresis, and vice versa. Our findings suggest that hysteresis acts as an implicit prior in tactile spatial decision making that becomes increasingly important when explicit stimulus properties provide decreasing evidence.

Added: Oct 23, 2014
Article
Danilova I., Shkolnikov V., Jdanov D. et al. Population Health Metrics. 2016. Vol. 14. No. 8.

Background Reliable and comparable data on causes of death are crucial for public health analysis, but the usefulness of these data can be markedly diminished when the approach to coding is not standardized across territories and/or over time. Because the Russian system of producing information on causes of death is highly decentralized, there may be discrepancies in the coding practices employed across the country. In this study, we evaluate the uniformity of cause-of-death coding practices across Russian regions using an indirect method. Methods Based on 2002–2012 mortality data, we estimate the prevalence of the major causes of death (70 causes) in the mortality structures of 52 Russian regions. For each region-cause combination we measured the degree to which the share of a certain cause in the mortality structure of a certain region deviates from the respective inter-regional average share. We use heat map visualization and a regression model to determine whether there is regularity in the causes and the regions that is more likely to deviate from the average level across all regions. In addition to analyzing the comparability of cause-specific mortality structures in a spatial dimension, we examine the regional cause-of-death time series to identify the causes with temporal trends that vary greatly across regions. Results A high level of consistency was found both across regions and over time for transport accidents, most of the neoplasms, congenital malformations, and perinatal conditions. However, a high degree of inconsistency was found for mental and behavioral disorders, diseases of the nervous system, endocrine disorders, ill-defined causes of death, and certain cardiovascular diseases. This finding suggests that the coding practices for these causes of death are not uniform across regions. The level of consistency improves when causes of death can be grouped into broader diagnostic categories. Conclusion This systematic analysis allows us to present a broader picture of the quality of cause-of-death coding at the regional level. For some causes of death, there is a high degree of variance across regions in the likelihood that these causes will be chosen as the underlying causes. In addition, for some causes of death the mortality statistics reflect the coding practices, rather than the real epidemiological situation.

Added: Mar 22, 2016
Article
Zheluk A., Quinn C., Meylakhs P. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2014. Vol. 16. No. 9. P. e212.

Background: Krokodil is an informal term for a cheap injectable illicit drug domestically prepared from codeine-containing medication (CCM). The method of krokodil preparation may produce desomorphine as well as toxic reactants that cause extensive tissue necrosis. The first confirmed report of krokodil use in Russia took place in 2004. In 2012, reports of krokodil-related injection injuries began to appear beyond Russia in Western Europe and the United States. 

Objective: This exploratory study had two main objectives: (1) to determine if Internet search patterns could detect regularities in behavioral responses to Russian CCM policy at the population level, and (2) to determine if complementary data sources could explain the regularities we observed. 

Methods: First, we obtained krokodil-related search pattern data for each Russia subregion (oblast) between 2011 and 2012. Second, we analyzed several complementary data sources included krokodil-related court cases, and related search terms on both Google and Yandex to evaluate the characteristics of terms accompanying krokodil-related search queries. 

Results: In the 6 months preceding CCM sales restrictions, 21 of Russia's 83 oblasts had search rates higher than the national average (mean) of 16.67 searches per 100,000 population for terms associated with krokodil. In the 6 months following restrictions, mean national searches dropped to 9.65 per 100,000. Further, the number of oblasts recording a higher than average search rate dropped from 30 to 16. Second, we found krokodil-related court appearances were moderately positively correlated (Spearman correlation=.506, P≤.001) with behaviors consistent with an interest in the production and use of krokodil across Russia. Finally, Google Trends and Google and Yandex related terms suggested consistent public interest in the production and use of krokodil as well as for CCM as analgesic medication during the date range covered by this study. Conclusions: Illicit drug use data are generally regarded as difficult to obtain through traditional survey methods. Our analysis suggests it is plausible that Yandex search behavior served as a proxy for patterns of krokodil production and use during the date range we investigated. More generally, this study demonstrates the application of novel methods recently used by policy makers to both monitor illicit drug use and influence drug policy decision making.

Added: Oct 7, 2014
Article
Milovantseva N. The Lancet. 2016. Vol. 388. No. 10053.

Building on long-term benefits of early intervention (Paper 2 of this Series) and increasing commitment to early childhood development (Paper 1 of this Series), scaled up support for the youngest children is essential to improving health, human capital, and wellbeing across the life course. In this third paper, new analyses show that the burden of poor development is higher than estimated, taking into account additional risk factors. National programmes are needed. Greater political prioritisation is core to scale-up, as are policies that afford families time and financial resources to provide nurturing care for young children. Effective and feasible programmes to support early child development are now available. All sectors, particularly education, and social and child protection, must play a role to meet the holistic needs of young children. However, health provides a critical starting point for scaling up, given its reach to pregnant women, families, and young children. Starting at conception, interventions to promote nurturing care can feasibly build on existing health and nutrition services at limited additional cost. Failure to scale up has severe personal and social consequences. Children at elevated risk for compromised development due to stunting and poverty are likely to forgo about a quarter of average adult income per year, and the cost of inaction to gross domestic product can be double what some countries currently spend on health. Services and interventions to support early childhood development are essential to realising the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Added: Oct 7, 2016