Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is a lysosomal hydrolase that degrades sphingomyelin into ceramide and phosphocholine. Recent crystallographic studies revealed the functional role of the N-terminal ASM saposin domain. ASM deficiency due to mutations in the ASM-encoding sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 1 (SMPD1) gene causes an autosomal recessive sphingolipid-storage disorder, known as Niemann-Pick disease Type A (NPA) or Type B (NPB). NPA is an early-onset neuronopathic disorder, while NPB is a late-onset non-neuronopathic disorder. A homozygous one-base substitution (c.398G>A) of the SMPD1 gene was identified in an infant with NPA, diagnosed with complete loss of ASM activity in the patient’s fibroblasts. This mutation is predicted to substitute tyrosine for cysteine at amino acid residue 133, abbreviated as p.C133Y. The patient showed developmental delay, hepatosplenomegaly and rapid neurological deterioration leading to death at the age of 3 years. To characterize p.C133Y, which may disrupt one of the three disulfide bonds of the N-terminal ASM saposin domain, we performed immunoblotting analysis to explore the expression of a mutant ASM protein in the patient’s fibroblasts, showing that the protein was detected as a 70-kDa protein, similar to the wild-type ASM protein. Furthermore, transient expression of p.C133Y ASM protein in COS-7 cells indicated complete loss of ASM enzyme activity, despite that the p.C133Y ASM protein was properly localized to the lysosomes. These results suggest that the proper three-dimensional structure of saposin domain may be essential for ASM catalytic activity. Thus, p.C133Y is associated with complete loss of ASM activity even with stable protein expression and proper subcellular localization.
The efficacy and safety of targeted treatment for elderly patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was considered. Patients with RA who met the ACR/EULAR 2010 classification criteria and were treated consecutively for > 3 years, were recruited and classified into three age groups with 10-year increments from 65 years. Treatment protocol that aims to achieve clinical remission within 6 months was commonly adopted. The salient features are the rapid increase in dosages of conventional synthetic anti-rheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) and the administration of need-based concomitant biologic/targeted synthetic drugs and/or glucocorticoid steroid, and immediate tapering of glucocorticoid steroid and csDMARDs is required on attaining clinical remission. Disease activity score and other clinical indices specific for RA treatment, and the prevalence of adverse events were compared between the groups. The numbers of patients in the groups of the < 65 years, 65-74 years, and ≥ 75 years were 269, 155, and 152. No significant difference was observed between any pairs of groups with respect to disease activity; stable course after achievement of minimum disease activity was observed in all groups. However, the prevalence of adverse events, especially serious infection, in the oldest group was higher than that in the younger groups, which was likely attributable to the higher frequency of administration of glucocorticoid steroid after minimum disease activity obtained and higher prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidities. Targeted treatment is feasible even for patients aged ≥ 75. However, glucocorticoid steroid administration is considered as a risk of adverse events and should be tapered immediately.
Safe obstetric care is a worldwide requirement. In Japan, a reduced number of obstetricians has prompted the centralization of obstetric facilities, and Japan’s islands are expected to experience problems in handling deliveries. Although many pregnant women “move” to the mainland at later gestational weeks, “transport” from the island to the mainland may be occasionally needed when disorders manifest before the “move.” Other women plan within-island deliveries; however, transport is required when complications arise. Managing delivery- or pregnancy-related problems may differ in transport by the population size of islands. We investigated the following issues in relation to the population size of Japan’s islands: 1) How were deliveries handled on islands? 2) How many pregnant women were transported to the mainland? 3) What was the reason for and what affected transport? A total of 142 municipalities were selected to participate in a questionnaire survey, and 108 institutions from 106 municipalities responded. A comparative analysis by island size was performed using 2014 data: small-sized (population < 1,000), mid-sized (1,000 to 5,000), and large-sized (≥ 5,000). The percentage of women transported to the mainland from small-sized islands was significantly higher than that from large-sized islands (6.8 vs. 2.6% of all births in a year, respectively, P < 0.01). Transport was mainly in response to threatened preterm labor. Adverse weather was the most frequent factor affecting transport reliability. Our findings may contribute to a more detailed understanding of the state of obstetric care on Japan’s islands.
Recently, the number of long-term survivors of ≥ 5 years after stomach carcinoma resection is increasing in Japan. The clinical courses of 4,883 patients who underwent stomach carcinoma resection were retrospectively reviewed to investigate the cause of death including multiple primary cancers (MPC) and delayed stomach carcinoma recurrence among long-term survivors of ≥ 5 years. Of 3,061 patients who survived for ≥ 5 years, 1,203 patients (39.3%) were dead after 5 years survival, including 299 patients (24.9%) who died of MPC. Of 84 patients (7.0%) who died of recurrent stomach carcinoma, 25 patients were newly diagnosed ≥ 5 years postoperative. The most common site of MPC was lung in 124 patients, and 347 patients (44.7%) had a smoking-related MPC, including 124 lung, 63 esophagus, 62 head and neck, and 98 other cancers. We examined the prognostic differences in 527 patients with MPC according to the diagnosis time. In 325 patients of long-term survivors in whom MPC was diagnosed ≥ 5 years postoperative, 5-year survival rate and the median survival time after diagnosis were 35.1% and 17.7 months, respectively. This outcome was significantly poorer than that of 160 patients in whom MPC was diagnosed within 5 years postoperative (58.5% and 62.7 months, P < 0.0001). In conclusion, MPC accounted for approximately a quarter of the cause of death in long-term survivors. Lifestyle instructions including smoking cessation are important. Periodical cancer screening allows the early asymptomatic diagnosis and may contribute to a decrease in cancer mortality of MPC in long-term cancer survivors.
The incidence of nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease (NTMLD) is increasing worldwide, the number of lung surgeries is increasing accordingly. The disease is progressive and is characterized by exertional intolerance, respiratory dysfunctions, and impaired health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Treatment comprises multidrug antibiotic treatment combined with lung resection. The incremental shuttle walk distance (ISWD) is a standard tool for assessing the patients’ tolerance to lung resection. The exertional tolerance, physical functions and HRQOL among pre-surgical patients with NTMLD are clinically important, but not fully studied yet from the viewpoint of physiotherapy. The purpose of this study was to explore the clinical significance of ISWD for assessing the exercise capacity of pre-surgical patients with NTMLD. For peripheral muscle evaluation, the strength of the quadriceps femoris muscle was measured. HRQOL was evaluated using scores of the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ). Thirty-three patients (mean age 54.9 ± 13 years) were enrolled. The mean ISWD was 505 ± 134 m, shorter than the reference values (ISWD %predicted: 96 ± 27%). Regression analysis showed significant associations between ISWD and percent-predicted vital capacity (r = 0.38, p = 0.03) and percent quadriceps force/body weight (r = 0.54, p = 0.001). HRQOL assessed by SGRQ scores was correlated with ISWD (r < −0.4, p < 0.05). Multiple regression analysis showed that ISWD was significantly associated with leg muscle strength and with HRQOL. In conclusion, ISWD is useful to evaluate the exercise capacity among pre-surgical patients with NTMLD.
The uterus is an organ for raising the fetus, and its lumen is lined by the endometrium. The endometrium is an important site for the implantation and maturation of fertilized eggs. The endometrium undergoes repetitive proliferation, maturation (decidualization), and exfoliation changes every menstrual cycle. At the same time, the number and type of endometrial immunocompetent cells vary during the menstrual cycle. At the implantation stage, the immunocompetent cells occupy approximately half of the endometrial cells. Immunocompetent cells normally eliminate pathogenic microorganisms to protect the body; however, they also promote immune tolerance to accept the fetus during pregnancy. The immunocompetent cells in the uterus can perform both these functions. With the establishment of pregnancy, stimuli from the trophoblast (placenta) and fetus can also change the immune environment of the uterus, and pregnancy can be maintained only when the immune system is well adapted to the stimuli of some hormones and the fetus. Immunity for the establishment of pregnancy is not simple because multiple immunocompetent cells are involved in establishing and maintaining pregnancy. To understand the immune mechanisms associated with the establishment of pregnancy, we have to learn about each immune cell. This review, therefore, discusses the roles and distribution of the immunocompetent cells inside the uterus during menstruation and early pregnancy.
Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) is regarded as a benign and self-limiting vasculitis characterized by purpura, arthritis, and gastrointestinal symptoms; however, about one third of the patients develop HSP nephritis (HSPN), the most serious long-term complication. Since 2013, we have proposed that tonsillectomy in addition to intravenous methylprednisolone pulse therapy (IVMP) be performed in all patients with HSPN, similar to immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) patients because both diseases are considered to a share common pathogenesis. Herein, we retrospectively reviewed the clinical courses of 71 Japanese children with HSPN (34 boys; median age at diagnosis, 6.7 years; median follow-up period, 5.6 years) who had received initial treatment with IVMP (15-20 mg/kg; on 3 consecutive days/week for 3 weeks) followed by oral prednisolone (initially 1 mg/kg; tapered off within 12 months) and achieved clinical remission (i.e., disappearance of both proteinuria and hematuria). The patients were divided into two groups: 31 patients receiving tonsillectomy after IVMP between 2013 and 2017 (tonsillectomy group) and 40 patients receiving IVMP monotherapy between 2003 and 2012 (IVMP group). For the 2 years after IVMP therapy, the rate of HSPN recurrence (i.e., persistent proteinuria combined with hematuria requiring additional treatments) after clinical remission was significantly lower in the tonsillectomy group than the IVMP group (0% vs. 19%, P < 0.05). Despite the short follow-up period in the tonsillectomy group, this study provides the evidence that tonsillectomy may be beneficial for preventing recurrence of HSPN from clinical remission with IVMP therapy in Japanese children.
A Do-Not-Attempt-Resuscitation (DNAR) order solely precludes performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) following cardiopulmonary arrest. A patient’s personal status is known to influence a range of clinical practices, not only CPR, when a DNAR order is given. We assessed whether the absence of supporting relatives or a diagnosis of dementia can influence nurses’ perceptions of clinical practices for elderly patients with non-malignant and chronic diseases. A vignette-based questionnaire was used to evaluate nurses’ beliefs both before and after issuance of a DNAR order. Three vignettes were developed: the control vignette described an 85-year-old woman with repeated heart failure, the second and third incorporated a lack of relatives and a dementia diagnosis, respectively. The survey assessed the approach of nurses to 10 routine medical procedures, including CPR, clinical laboratory testing and nursing care, using a 5-base Likert-scale, for six vignette scenarios. A questionnaire was completed by 186 nurses (64% response). The pre-DNAR non-relative vignette showed significantly lower scores for CPR, indicating a deterioration in willingness to perform CPR, compared to the pre-DNAR control (median [interquartile]; 3 [2-4] and 4 [3-4] in the non-relative and control vignettes, respectively, p < 0.001). No significant differences were observed between the dementia and control vignettes. Absence of contactable relatives and resultant lack of communication can diminish the perception of nurses regarding the provision of CPR, even when a DNAR does not exist. This result suggests a necessity for comprehensive training all medical staff about issuance of DNAR orders and what care should be provided thereafter.