Thursday, August 22, 2013

Early Life Arsenic Exposure and Acute and Long-term Responses to Influenza A Infection in Mice

Kathryn A. Ramsey,1,2 Rachel E. Foong,1,2 Peter D. Sly,3 Alexander N. Larcombe,1,2 and Graeme R. Zosky1,2

1Division of Clinical Sciences, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco Western Australia, Australia; 2Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia; 3Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia.



Background: Arsenic is a significant global environmental health problem. Exposure to arsenic in early life has been shown to increase the rate of respiratory infections during infancy, reduce childhood lung function and increase the rates of bronchiectasis in early adulthood.
Objectives: We aimed to determine if early life exposure to arsenic exacerbates the response to early life influenza infection.

Methods: C57BL/6 mice were exposed to arsenic in utero and throughout post-natal life. At 1 week of age a subgroup of mice were infected with influenza A. The acute and long term effects of arsenic exposure on viral clearance, inflammation, lung structure and lung function were assessed.

Results: Early life arsenic exposure reduced the clearance of and exacerbated the inflammatory response to influenza A, and resulted in acute and long term changes in lung mechanics and airway structure.

Conclusions: Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections combined with exaggerated inflammatory responses throughout early life may contribute to the development of bronchiectasis in arsenic exposed populations.

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Veterans Are Putting Down Their Guns and Taking Up Farming

In Oak Cliff, ex-warriors charge into the local food movement.

Dylan Hollingsworth
James Jeffers stands in front of a house in Oak Cliff spraying jets of water onto a large garden carved out of what was once a solid mix of St. Augustine grass and weeds. Along a quiet residential street otherwise lined with thick green lawns, the brown plot of upturned earth is an abrupt break in the scenery.

Vets James Jeffers (left) and Steve Smith are farming Oak Cliff one yard at a time.
Dylan Hollingsworth
Vets James Jeffers (left) and Steve Smith are farming Oak Cliff one yard at a time.
After their time in the Army, Jeffers and Smith have turned to the nice soil of Oak Cliff to get back to health.
Dylan Hollingsworth
After their time in the Army, Jeffers and Smith have turned to the nice soil of Oak Cliff to get back to health.
Tiny droplets arch in front of him catching the late morning sunlight before peppering the dark soil, but despite the scene, Jeffers doesn't look much like a typical farmer. His thick build leans toward athletic, and his heavy beard conceals an easy smile. Tattoos peek out from the back of his leg.
Farming wasn't his first choice of professions. He spent most of the past decade in the Army, including two tours in Baghdad, in 2004-'05 and then again in 2006-'08. Things got messy, though, particularly on Haifa Street, a 2-mile stretch through the middle of Baghdad that snakes alongside the Tigris River.

A line of palm trees runs along the median, and each side of Haifa Street is dotted with clusters of sandy brown apartments. The southern end of the street banks hard to the west, following the river that leads directly into the Green Zone, where a large sandstone arch marks the entrance — a monument that eventually became known as Assassin's Gate.

After the U.S. invasion in 2003, Haifa Street, situated between Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods, became a fault line constantly teetering on the brink of chaos. American troops patrolled the area, but the high windows, rooftops and balconies offered a tactical advantage to whoever was standing on them, particularly if they had rocket-propelled grenades. This large swath of real estate in the middle of the city became a battleground between those intent on chaos and those trained to mitigate it.

Jeffers, along with the 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry Regiment and the Iraqi National Guard, maintained as much order as possible on the street. While some residents fled, others put up a fight in hopes of staying in their neighborhoods. American and Iraqi troops worked alley by alley, building by building and floor by floor through the high-rises to clear out terrorists in a constant game of cat and mouse. By 2004, the stretch was nicknamed "Grenade Alley."

"The members of the Iraqi National Guard were just like any of us," Jeffers recalls. "They were dads who had families and just wanted to keep their neighborhoods safe. And they were wonderful to work with. When we were out on patrols it was hard to tell who should be in the neighborhood and who shouldn't, but an Iraqi can spot an Iranian a mile away."

One day while out on patrol with the ING, Jeffers and the rest of the "Headhunters" of the 1-9 Cav were working to clear an area when they came under fire. Insurgents hiding in the maze of buildings had surrounded them and trapped some in a small alley.

The Americans hunkered down while Jeffers and another soldier positioned themselves outside the alley and kept the fighters at bay. Eleven soldiers were injured from the initial attack, and they waited for reinforcements to arrive.

Jeffers took hits from three hand grenades during the battle, but eventually he and the 1-9 Cav all got out alive. For that, he received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with a "V" device, which indicates an act of valor.

Throughout his time in Iraq, Jeffers had at least a half-dozen encounters with car bombs, grenades, RPGs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and walked away with shrapnel scars covering 50 percent of his body. Most of those wounds have healed by now, but multiple back-to-back concussions led to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI). Over time, everyday tasks became murky. His senses weren't as sharp as they once were, which is a handicap in combat.

"After I got home from my second tour, I couldn't do simple things, like make coffee," Jeffers says. "I went through three coffee makers. One day I'd forget to put the water in the tank. The next day I'd forget to put the grounds in the filter. It was so frustrating. After a while, I realized it was time to get some help."

Therapy at a TBI clinic at Fort Hood in Killeen helped Jeffers re-engineer the delicate synapses in his brain. Acupuncture helped with back pain. But the part that really hurt, the wound he's still trying to heal, was getting out.

"I just loved the Army," Jeffers says. "I was one of the lucky ones who figured out what they were good at. I felt like a kid, living out of my backpack on the other side of the world, shooting guns."
Jeffers had a knack for leadership. After nine years, he'd made sergeant first class, a rank that usually comes with more than 15 years of service.

After he "reluctantly agreed to a medical retirement" in 2009 because of his injuries, Jeffers needed a new role. He was on full disability and the transition back to civilian life was tough. He's not inclined to lie on the couch waiting to see what will happen next.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

350org: Sign up below to lead a Draw the Line action on September 21st to protect our communities from climate change

"Sign up to lead a Draw the Line action on September 21st to protect our communities from climate change, and send a message to President Obama that there's no turning back -- to keep his climate promises, he needs to reject Keystone XL.

Over the past two years tens of thousands of people have stepped into the streets to stop Keystone XL -- rallying, risking arrest, showing up at Obama events, and taking action to stop the pipeline directly.
Now President Obama has said that he's willing to reject the pipeline if it significantly impacts the climate. Well, it would, and we need to show the President that it's time to draw the line, and stop Keystone XL for good."

Traditiona​l California Native Food: Cattail

Cattails: Wetlands Grocery Store!
All parts of the cattail are edible when gathered at the appropriate stage of growth. The young shoots are cut from the rhizomes (underground stems) in the spring when they are about 4 to 16 inches long. The raw young shoots taste like cucumber and can also be made into pickles. When the young shoots are steamed they taste like cabbage.

The base of the stem where it attaches to the rhizome can be boiled or roasted like potatoes. The young flower stalks can be taken out of their sheaths and can be boiled or steamed just like corn (Roos- Collins 1990; Clarke 1977).

Cattail pollen is a fine substitute for flours. It is a bright yellow or green color, and turns pancakes, cookies or biscuits a pretty yellow color (which children love).

The rhizomes (underground stems)and lower stems have a sweet flavor and can be eaten raw, baked, roasted, or broiled. Cattail rhizomes are
fairly high in starch content; this is usually listed at about 30% to 46%. The core can be ground into flour.

One acre of cattails would yield about 6,475 pounds of flour (Harrington 1972). This flour would probably contain about 80 % carbohydrates and around 6% to 8% protein. Since cattail occurs
around the world, it is a potential source of food for the worlds' population.

Newly emerging shoots of cattails are edible, with delicate flavor and crispy asparagus like texture(Glenn Keator, Linda Yamane, Ann Lewis 1995). The end of a new stem of cattail is popular for eating with Washoes (Murphy 1959). When mixed with tallow, the brown fuzz can be chewed like gum.

The Klamath and Modocs of northern California and southern Oregon make flexible baskets of twined tule or cattail. Cattails or tules were also twined to form mats of varying sizes for sleeping, sitting, working, entertaining, covering doorways, for shade, and a myriad of other uses.

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