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CCBAR Newsletter – September, 2010

Editors:  Natalia Gavrilova and Stacy Tessler Lindau

CCBAR Questions and Answers this Month:

Q: Whether HIV genotypes can be obtained from dried blood spots (DBS)?

A: Current  scientific literature suggests that (1) DBS can be used to diagnose HIV; (2) to test resistance to HIV drugs; (3) HIV genotype can be obtained from DBS. These statements are valid for both children and adults. See references below:

  1. De Crignis E. Re MC. Cimatti L. et al. 2010. HIV-1 and HCV detection in dried blood spots by SYBR Green multiplex real-time RT-PCR. Journal of Virological Methods. 165(1):51-6.
  2. Lira R. Valdez-Salazar H. Vazquez-Rosales G. et al. 2010. Genotypic testing for HIV-1 drug resistance using dried blood samples. Archives of Virology. 155(7):1117-25.
  3. Reigadas S. Schrive MH. Aurillac-Lavignolle V. et al. 2009. Quantitation of HIV-1 RNA in dried blood and plasma spots. Journal of Virological Methods. 161(1):177-80.

      Q: Whether quantitative HIV viral load was ever determined with DBS?

A: Yes, quantitative viral load has been determined with DBS in some published studies like:

Lilian RR. Bhowan K. Sherman GG. 2010. Early diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection in infants with the NucliSens EasyQ assay on dried blood spots. Journal of Clinical Virology. 48(1):40-3.

     Q: A recent study conducted by Pereg (2010) measured cortisol levels in hair providing an accurate assessment of stress levels in the months prior to an acute event such as a heart attack.
         Can  sweepings from barbershops in different neighborhoods used to assess community stress get around the ecological fallacy?

A: The method of measuring cortisol in hair has been applied in a number of studies (Sauve et al., 2007, Van Uum ey al., 2008, Thomson et al., 2009, Pereg et al., 2010, & Gow et al. 2010).  Findings from Sauve et al. (2007) found a correlation between hair cortisol and 24-hour urine cortisol (r = 0.33).  In previous studies 10 mg to 20 mg, 100 to 150 pieces, clear hairs with no hair follicle were used to measure cortisol. Hair samples can provide multiple, long-term cortisol measures and samples can be collected with greater convenience than other methods (e.g. urine samples) as it is a minimally invasive method to collect biomarkers.  However, limitations do exist when measuring cortisol in hair: this method has not been fully validated in a large sample study, cortisol concentration declines in dyed hair, and there is high variability in measures obtained from different parts of a head (Sauve et al., 2007).  Despite these limitations, using a sample of hair may be an easier and more convenient method to gather biomarkers in population-based data collection for cortisol.

There is no clear and concise answer for the question whether sweepings from barbershops in different neighborhoods used to assess community stress can get around the ecological fallacy or not. There is a need for aggregated data, analyzed at the individual level.  Aggregate data are sometimes used to represent all involved individuals unless researchers believe that those individuals are quite different on a certain measure. Researchers generally understand that diversity exists and usually proceed with caution when interpreting aggregated data. In many cases, it is a judgment call whether or not an inference or conclusion falls into the category of ecological fallacy.

Concerns arise in regards to measuring reliability and validity in the barbershop sweepings approach: 

  • It is not a random selection of individuals from a community.
  • It is unknown whether some individuals get their hair cut outside of their community, or whether some of the hairs swept are from individuals outside that community.  Individuals also get their hair cut at different frequencies 
  • The financial cost associated with ensuring that one person's hair is used or counted only once may be high.
  • Individuals' demographic information (e.g. age, gender) is unavailable. 

Overall, using a hair sample as a minimally invasive measure may be a convenient method to measure cortisol in certain studies. However, it is unlikely that one will obtain a reliable and valid measure of community stress through barbershop sweepings in different neighborhoods.


  1. Gow R, Thomson S, Rieder M, et al. An assessment of cortisol analysis in hair and its clinical applications. Forensic Science International, 2010, 196: 32-37
  2. Pereg D, Gow R, Mosseri M, Lishner M, Rieder M, Van Uum S, Koren G. Hair cortisol and the risk for acute myocardial infarction in adult men. Stress. 2010 Sep 2. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Sauve, B; Koren, G; Walsh, G, et al. Measurement of cortisol in human hair as a biomarker of systemic exposure. Clinical and Investigative Medicine, 2007, 30: E183-E191 
  4. Van Uum, SHM; Sauve, B; Fraser, LA, et al. Elevated content of cortisol in hair of patients with severe chronic pain: A novel biomarker for stress. Stress- The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, 2008, 11: 483-488

        Note: We are grateful to Jiexin Liu at CCBAR for preparing answers to Q&A section for this month.

News from the NEJM, Nature Journals, Science, BMJ, PNAS and JAMA

Save your census
National censuses and surveys are threatened around the world by high costs and low response rates. The demographic data they yield are too valuable to lose, warn Stephen E. Fienberg and Kenneth Prewitt.
Secrets of a long life
Two books on ageing understate the challenges of prolonging a healthy lifespan, finds Caleb Finch.
High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being [Psychol...
Recent research has begun to distinguish two aspects of subjective well-being. Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual's everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one's life pleasant or u...
How We Are Evolving
New analyses suggest that recent human evolution has followed a different course than biologists would have expected
Cancer: an old disease, a new disease or something in between?
In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. The history of this disorder has the potential to improve our understanding of disease prevention, aetiology, pathogenesis and treatment. A striking rarity of malignancies in ancient physical remains mi...
Bringing about lifestyle change
Overwhelming evidence has firmly established the importance of lifestyle in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Behavioral modifications, such as changing to a healthier diet, limiting alcohol consumption, increasing the amount and intensity of physical activity, or stopping smoking can...
Caloric restriction or catalase inactivation extends yeast chronological life...
The free radical theory of aging posits oxidative damage to macromolecules as a primary determinant of lifespan. Recent studies challenge...
Behavioral dynamics and influence in networked coloring and consensus [Econom...
We report on human-subject experiments on the problems of coloring (a social differentiation task) and consensus (a social agreement task)...
Age-induced disruption of selective olfactory bulb synaptic c...
Little is known about how normal aging affects the brain. Recent evidence suggests that neuronal loss is not ubiquitous in...
[Policy Forum] Demography: Remeasuring Aging
Adjusting aging forecasts to incorporate increases in longevity and health can provide better tools for policy-makers.
Nutrition: Vitamin D improves blood pressure in type 2 diabetes
A single oral dose of vitamin D3 reduces systolic blood pressure and levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a marker of cardiovascular risk, in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), data of a randomized, controlled trial reveal. A lot of observational studies
Behavioral and pharmacologic therapies for obesity
This article reviews novel developments in the behavioral and pharmacologic treatment of obesity and explores the potential contribution of genomics research to weight control. A comprehensive program of lifestyle modification, comprised of diet, physical activity and behavior therapy, induces a mea...
Parkinson disease: Could sunlight offer protection from Parkinson disease?
Inadequate serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D could be putting individuals at an increased risk of developing Parkinson disease (PD), according to a new study. Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland suggest that this risk is heightened threefold in indiv...
Alzheimer disease: Plasma clusterin predicts degree of pathogenesis in AD
Plasma levels of clusterin, a chaperone protein that regulates amyloid formation and clearance, indicate that blood-based biomarkers could identify individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer disease (AD), according to a study published in Archives of General Psychiatry. The results of this study d...

Biomarkers and Aging in the News Media

Hormone in Hair May Reveal Heart Risk
High levels of cortisol in the hair shaft may increase the risk of heart attack, a study shows.
Blood Test May Help Detect Alzheimer's Disease
People with Alzheimer's disease can be identified by a distinct pattern of blood-protein biomarkers, say researchers working on a blood test to detect Alzheimer's in its earliest stages.
New insight into cancer risk
Women with a "high risk" breast cancer gene may find out more about their chances by having other parts of their DNA checked, say researchers.
Men's Brains May Decline Sooner Than Women's
It's long been established that women tend to outlive men, and many studies show that they are more likely to get Alzheimer's than their male counterparts, but new research shows that they also may preserve mental clarity longer into old age. In a study of elderly Minnesota citizens, men showed signs of cognitive decline more often than women.
Medicare aims to reduce costs, illnesses of older smokers
They've lived with the health warnings about smoking for much of their lives and doubtless seen the ill effects on friends, relatives and even ...
Pollution takes its toll on the heart
The fine particles of pollution that hang in the air can increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest, according to a new study.
Adding Omega-3 to Margarine Doesn't Help Heart
Margarine fortified with omega-3 fatty acids does not appear to protect older men and women who have survived a heart attack from having another heart attack or other cardiac event.
Gum and heart link 'breakthrough'
Scientists say they have established one reason why gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease.
Stress Hormone Predicts Heart Death
High levels of the stress hormone cortisol were linked to a fivefold increase in death from cardiovascular causes in a new study.
Men With Insomnia May Have Higher Risk of Death
Men with insomnia have a fourfold higher death rate than those who sleep at least 6 hours a night, a 14-year study finds. It's not yet clear whether women with insomnia also die sooner.
Stress accelerates breast cancer progression in mice, researchers find
Chronic stress acts as a sort of fertilizer that feeds breast cancer progression, significantly accelerating the spread of disease in animal models, researchers have found.
A Little Aspirin Protects the Colon
Regular use of low-dose aspirin can cut the risk of colorectal cancer by a third, researchers say.
Seniors Are Having Lots of Sex
The consensus suggests that the Viagra era is officially in full swing.

Diabetes Has an Impact on Sex Life
Middle aged and older adults are interested in sexual activity, but diabetes impairs libido and can result in erectile dysfunction, a new study shows.
Sex problems common after breast cancer
In a study of about 1,000 women treated for breast cancer, nearly three-quarters of those younger than 70 who had a partner reported sexual difficulties, ...
Breast Cancer Takes Toll on Partner's Mental Health
Male partners of women with breast cancer have a higher-than-normal risk of mood disorders requiring hospitalization, researchers say.
Moderate coffee consumption improves aortic distensibility in hypertensive el...
A detailed study conducted by researchers on the Aegean island of Ikaria has demonstrated that moderate consumption of coffee by hypertensive elderly individuals can lead to improvements in aortic distensibility.
Coffee Health Benefits: Research on Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, Stroke, and More
WebMD discusses the health benefits of coffee and possible risks for those with certain conditions.
'DASH' diet can lower heart attack risk almost 20%
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats can significantly lower the risk of heart attack for people with mildly ...
Study: Some Low-Carb Diets Up Cancer, Death Risk
Plans Based on Animal Protein Found Wanting; Veggie-Based Ones May Lower Heart Disease, Death Rates, the Research Shows
Male maturity shaped by early nutrition; Differences between the sexes affect...
A new study makes a strong case for nurture's role in male to female differences -- suggesting that rapid weight gain in the first six months of life predicts earlier puberty for boys. Males who experienced rapid growth as babies -- an indication that they were not nutritionally stressed -- also were taller, had more muscle and were stronger, and had higher testosterone levels as young adults.
Will Aging Chimps Get to Retire, or Face Medical Research?
A move of some of 186 chimpanzees to a research center in Texas has spurred outrage among animal rights advocates, primate experts and politicians.
Ageing addicts
Dealing with the ailments of the children of the 1960s
Some extra weight may not be a major health concern for older people
Ten pounds. Maybe 15! Twenty pounds? If only I could lose those 10-plus pounds -- this is the lifelong obsession of scale-watchers.
Daily vitamin B could slow Alzheimer's onset, study finds
Daily doses of vitamin B can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's, researchers at Oxford University said Thursday.
Clues in mysterious aging disease
Despite progeria's rarity in the world (about 65 cases), the disease could provide clues about aging, heart attacks and strokes.
Simplifying the Decision for a Prostate Screening
New research offers simple, practical advice - at least, for men 60 and older - about whether to get P.S.A. screening or not.
Report predicts huge increase in osteoporotic fractures due to aging populations
Preliminary findings from an upcoming new report by the International Osteoporosis Foundation show alarming projections and reveal the poor state of post-fracture care in the Russian Federation and many other countries in the region.

NIH Press Releases

NIH announces Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
The National Institutes of Health announces the transition of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). The transition gives the institute a more defined role in the NIHs research agenda against health disparities, which it defines as differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups.
NIH and FDA announce awards to advance regulatory science
The National Institutes of Health will award $9.4 million over three years to support four research projects in regulatory science. This research is conducted in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which will contribute approximately $950,000. These projects will better inform scientists and regulatory reviewers alike about medical product safety, and improve the evaluation and availability of new medical products to the community.
NIH's National Children's Study begins recruiting at 30 locations
The National Children's Study has initiated recruitment at 30 additional study locations around the United States. Study researchers at these locations seek to enroll women who are pregnant or may become pregnant in the next few years.
NIH celebrates ten years of research into health disparities
The tenth anniversary of the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) will be observed on Sept. 23-24 in Jackson, Mississippi. The JHS is the largest study in history to investigate genetic factors that affect high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and other important diseases in African-Americans.
NIH statement on National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day Sept. 18, 2010
Older HIV-infected adults face unique health challenges stemming from age-related changes to the body accelerated by HIV infection, the side effects of long-term treatment for HIV, the infection itself and often, treatments for age-associated illnesses. Sept. 18 marks the third annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, an opportunity to highlight these challenges and the research under way to improve the health and quality of life of older people infected with HIV.
NIH-funded studies aim to prevent, treat childhood obesity
The National Institutes of Health is launching two major research efforts, totaling $72.5 million, to examine ways to curtail the nation's childhood obesity epidemic. One will study long-term approaches to prevent or treat childhood obesity, and the other will examine community efforts to reduce childhood obesity rates.
Mild cognitive impairment more common in older men than older women
Older men may be at risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, earlier in life than older women, according to a study appearing today in Neurology.
NIH study shows how insulin stimulates fat cells to take in glucose
Using high-resolution microscopy, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have shown how insulin prompts fat cells to take in glucose in a rat model. The findings were reported in the Sept. 8 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.
NIH to launch Gulf oil spill health study
The National Institutes of Health will launch a multi-year study this fall to look at the potential health effects from the oil spill in the Gulf region. The Gulf Worker Study, announced by NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., in June, is in response to the largest oil spill in U.S. history, caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Collins pledged $10 million in NIH funding for the study's initial phases.
NIH expands key pharmacogenomics resource
To help advance research on how genes affect responses to medicines, the National Institutes of Health is spending $15 million over five years to expand a key resource, the Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base (PharmGKB),
Lower blood pressure goal benefits African-Americans with chronic kidney dise...
On average, a lower blood pressure goal was no better than the standard blood pressure goal at slowing progression of kidney disease among African-Americans who had chronic kidney disease resulting from high blood pressure, according to results of the African-American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK), the largest and longest study of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in African-Americans. However, the blood pressure goal did benefit people who also had protein in the urine, which is a sign of kidney damage. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, appears in the Sept. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Association between elevated levels of lead, cadmium and delayed puberty in g...
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions have found that exposure to lead in childhood may delay the onset of puberty in young girls, with higher doses increasing the chance for later maturation.

NIH Announcements

National Institute on Aging: Revision Requests for Active Program Projects (P01)
Program Announcement from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) Short-term Interdisciplinary Research Education Program for New Investigators (R25)
Request for Applications (RFA) Number: RFA-NR-11-002
Expiration Date: January 7, 2011
Scientific Meetings for Creating Interdisciplinary Research Teams in Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research (R13)

Psychosocial Stress and Behavior: Integration of Behavioral and Physiological...
Request for Applications from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Development of Comprehensive and Conceptually-based Measures of Psychosocial ...
Request for Applications from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Basic Mechanisms Influencing Behavioral Maintenance (R01)
Request for Applications from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Chronic, Non-Communicable Diseases and Disorders Across the Lifespan: Fogarty...
Program Announcement from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Participation of NIGMS on PAR-10-235, Climate Change and Health: Assessing an...
Effects of the Social Environment on Health: Measurement, Methods and Mechani...
Request for Applications from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
NICHD Program Project Grant (P01)
Program Announcement from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
NICHDs Scientific Vision: The Next Decade

Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (OAICs) (P30) 
Request For Applications (RFA) Number: RFA-AG-11-002
Expiration Date: October 22, 2010
Alzheimer’s Disease Core Centers (P30)
Request For Applications (RFA) Number:  RFA-AG-11-005
Expiration Date: October 14, 2010
Restructured Application Forms and Instructions for Submissions for FY2011 Fu...

Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Change in Application Submission Package and Clarification of Research Strate...
Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Correction on the First Submission Date for Resubmission and Revision Applica...
Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Advancing Novel Science in Womens Health Research (ANSWHR) (R21)
Program Announcement from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts

Subjective Well-being: Advances in Measurement and Applications to Aging (R01)
Request for Applications from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Regional and International Differences in Health and Longevity at Older Ages ...
Request for Applications from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts

Expiration Date: October 15, 2010


New book on biomeasures just published:

Conducting Biosocial Surveys: Collecting, Storing, Accessing, and Protecting Biospecimens and Biodata.
Editors: Robert M. Hauser, Maxine Weinstein, Robert Pool, and Barney Cohen
The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010.


The National Institute on Aging, in conjunction with the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the Foundation for NIH, will be holding the Second Cognitive Aging Summit to take place in Washington, DC, on October 4-5, 2010. Online registration for the meeting is now open, and you can register by following this link:  Cognitive Aging Summit 2010 – Registration

Gerontological Society of America's 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting, November 19-23, 2010, Hilton, New Orleans Riverside, New Orleans, LA.

4th National Conference on Genomics and Public Health: Using Genomic Information to Improve Health Now and in the Future.
Date: Wednesday, December 8 - Friday, December 10, 2010. Location: Bethesda North Marriott in Bethesda, Maryland

Population Association of America Annual Meeting.
The 2011 Annual Meeting will be held March 31-April 2 at the Marriott Wardman Hotel, Washington, DC.
(Note:  The Welcome Mixer is on Wednesday, March 30, 8:30 p.m.)

2011 American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting, May 11-14, 2011. Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, MD.

This Newsletter  is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health (Grant No. 5 P30 AG012857)

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