E E A Simpson

University of Ulster, Aontroim, N Ireland, United Kingdom

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Publications (18)51.86 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Elevated concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-6 have been associated with impaired cognitive performance. There are, however, few studies that have examined the relationship between cytokine production and specific aspects of cognition in healthy older individuals. Two-colour flow cytometry was used to determine intracellular cytokine production by activated monocytes, and neuropsychological tests were performed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) in 93 apparently healthy men and women aged 55-70 years. A series of hierarchical regression analyses was carried out to examine the contribution of IL-1β and IL-6 (% expression and production (antibody binding capacity (ABC))) to recognition, attention and working memory, after controlling for socio-demographic variables (age, sex and social class). IL-1β% expression and IL-6 production predicted aspects of working memory. Recognition memory was found to be sensitive to the affects of age and social class. The current study suggests that higher intracellular cytokine production by activated monocytes may be predictive of lower cognitive performance in working memory in healthy older individuals. These findings indicate that utilization of models for in vivo cytokine production upon immune challenge may be useful in studying specific aspects of memory affected during inflammatory responses, for example in individuals at risk for cognitive decline owing to age-related inflammatory disorders.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 05/2013; · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to identify factors associated with taste acuity in healthy older European adults aged 55-87 years, employing a factorial independent design to recruit older adults from centres in France, Italy and United Kingdom. Adults aged 70-87 years (N=387) were recruited in Rome (Italy) (n=108) and Grenoble (France) (n=91) and aged 55-70 years in Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) (n=93) and Clermont-Ferrand (C-F) (France) (n=95). A signal detection theory (SDT) approach was used for detection threshold assessment of the four basic tastes (salt; sweet; bitter; and, sour). Trial data were converted to R-indices. Diet was assessed by means of four day food diaries. Dietary data were converted using WISP and then reduced, using a principal components analysis, to four components: Component 1 'high fat and salt'; Component 2 'high vitamins and fibre'; Component 3 'high fat and carbohydrate'; and, Component 4 'high trace elements'. Socio-demographic information was collected by self report survey. Four separate regression analyses were carried out, one for each of the four basic taste qualities (sweet; sour; bitter; salt). Mean ROC scores for each taste quality were the response variables and age, sex, country, social class and dietary components were predictor variables. The main predictors of taste acuity were age, sex, social class and country, which had differential effects for each taste quality. These data suggest that socio-demographic and cultural factors should be taken into account when considering taste acuity in older people.
    Appetite 02/2012; 58(1):188-95. · 2.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Older people are vulnerable to zinc deficiency, which may impact upon their mood. This randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind intervention study aimed to investigate the effect of oral zinc gluconate supplementation (15 mg/d; 30 mg/d; and placebo) on subjective mood (affect) in older Europeans. Healthy volunteers (n 387) aged 55-87 years were recruited. Volunteers in Rome (Italy; n 108) and Grenoble (France; n 91) were aged 70-87 years and those in Coleraine (Northern Ireland; n 93) and Clermont-Ferrand (France; n 95) were aged 55-70 years. Mood was measured using the Positive and Negative Affect Scale on four occasions per day over 4 d at baseline, 3 and 6 months post-intervention. Mixed ANOVA indicated that neither positive nor negative affect altered in response to zinc (15 mg/d or 30 mg/d) compared to placebo in either the 55-70 years or the ≥70 years age group. These results suggest that zinc does not benefit mood in healthy older people.
    Public Health Nutrition 05/2011; 14(5):882-8. · 2.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Data from human studies that have investigated the association between vitamin D status and cognitive function in elderly adults are conflicting. The objective of this study was to assess vitamin D status (reflected by serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)) in older European subjects (n=387; aged 55-87 years) and examine its association with measures of cognitive function. Serum 25(OH)D was assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, whereas measures of cognitive function were assessed using a comprehensive Cambridge Neuropsychological Testing Automated Battery (CANTAB). In all, 12, 36 and 64% of subjects had serum 25(OH)D concentrations <30, <50 and <80 nmol/l, respectively, throughout the year. Serum 25(OH)D was significantly and inversely correlated with four assessments within the spatial working memory (SWM) test parameter (SWM between errors (r=-0.166; P=0.003); SWM between errors 8 boxes (r=-0.134; P=0.038); SWM strategy (r=-0.246; P<0.0001); and SWM total errors (r=-0.174; P<0.003)). When subjects were stratified on the basis of tertiles (T) of serum 25(OH)D (<47.6 (T(1)); 47.6-85.8 (T(2)); and >85.8 (T(3)) nmol/l), fewer errors in SWM test scores occurred in subjects in the third T when compared with the first T (P<0.05-0.084). Stratification by sex showed that these differences between tertiles strengthened (P<0.001-0.043) in the females, but the differences were not significant (P>0.6) in males. Vitamin D insufficiency, but not deficiency, is widespread in the older population of several European countries. Low vitamin D status was associated with a reduced capacity for SWM, particularly in women.
    European journal of clinical nutrition 10/2010; 64(10):1172-8. · 3.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A reciprocal relationship between the endocrine and immune system has been demonstrated under pathophysiological conditions. However, few studies have assessed the relationship between thyroid hormones and immune function in apparently healthy individuals. Therefore, to clarify our understanding of normal physiological endocrine-immune interactions this study aimed to examine the interrelationships between thyroid hormones and immunity in healthy individuals. Total triiodothyronine (T(3)), total thyroxine (T(4)) and markers of immune status were assessed in 93 free-living and apparently healthy individuals aged 55-70 years. T(3) and T(4) concentrations were determined by commercially available kits. Immune status was assessed using flow cytometry and biochemical markers. Statistical analysis was performed by partial correlation, controlling for age. Thyroid hormone concentration was positively associated with markers of inflammation (P<or=0.05), natural killer-like T cells (P<or=0.001), expression of interleukin-6 (IL6) by activated monocytes (P<or=0.05); percentage expression of memory T-lymphocytes (P<or=0.01), memory T-helper lymphocytes (P<or=0.05) and memory T-cytotoxic lymphocytes (P<or=0.05), and higher IL2 receptor density on CD3+T-lymphocytes (P<or=0.05). Thyroid hormone concentration was inversely associated with early lymphocyte apoptosis (P<or=0.05) and the ratio of naïve- to memory T-cytotoxic lymphocytes (P<or=0.05). The current study provides preliminary evidence of a role for T(3) and T(4), within normal physiological ranges, in the maintenance of lymphocyte subpopulations, and in mediating the inflammatory response. In conclusion, these findings highlight the potential implications of altered thyroid function in older individuals and the importance of future research examining thyroid-immune interactions.
    Journal of Endocrinology 04/2009; 202(1):55-63. · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to investigate the relationship between salivary cortisol, stress and mood and to look at the circadian rhythms of positive (PA) and negative (NA) mood in older adults. The participants were 41 healthy adults aged 55-69 years, recruited in Northern Ireland as part of the European Commission-funded Zenith project. Salivary cortisol samples were obtained twice a day (2.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m.) for 7 consecutive days in conjunction with momentary measures of positive (PA) and negative mood (NA), using PANAS and a trait measure of perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale). Salivary cortisol levels were measured using an enzyme-linked immunoassay kit. Higher perceived stress levels were associated with lower afternoon PA (r=-0.46, p=0.003) and higher afternoon (r=0.43, p=0.007) and evening (r=0.45, p=0.004) NA. Lower afternoon PA was correlated with higher evening cortisol concentrations (r=-0.47, p=0.002). Greater afternoon PA variability was associated with higher evening cortisol concentrations (r=0.38, p=0.015). A high intra-class correlation between cortisol and positive mood was found (r=0.67, p=0.009). Previously established rhythms for positive and negative mood were confirmed. Interestingly, there was no association between salivary cortisol levels and perceived stress in these healthy older adults. Further, more extensive research is required to better understand the apparent interplay between these variables and ageing.
    Biological Psychology 05/2008; 78(1):1-9. · 3.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Taste acuity declines with age and may be dependent upon Zn status. The aim of the present double-blind, randomised controlled intervention trial has been to determine taste acuity in response to Zn supplementation (placebo, or 15 or 30 mg Zn/d). Healthy older European adults aged 70-87 years were recruited within Italy (Rome) (n 108) and France (Grenoble) (n 91) to the European Commission-funded Zenith project. A signal detection theory approach was adopted for taste assessment. The data were converted to R indices and analysed by repeated-measures ANOVA controlling for baseline taste acuity as well as serum and erythrocyte Zn. Serum Zn increased post-intervention, indicating compliance with the intervention. Results differed across geographical region. Salt taste acuity was greater in response to Zn (30 mg) than placebo post-intervention among those recruited in Grenoble. There was no apparent change in acuity for sweet, sour or bitter taste in response to Zn. Supplemented Zn may have potential to enhance salt taste acuity in those over the age of 70 years. Further research is required to determine if enhanced salt taste acuity is reflected in the eating experiences of older individuals.
    British Journal Of Nutrition 02/2008; 99(1):129-36. · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research suggests that adequate dietary zinc intake may be important in determining the sensory experience of food, appetite and consequently, dietary quality. The aim of this pilot study was to explore relationships between taste sensitivity and dietary zinc intake in healthy young adults (age 20-40 years: 24 male, mean age +/- SD = 27 +/- 4.86 years; 26 female, mean age +/- SD = 23 +/- 2.10). A signal detection method was used to assess taste acuity for the four basic tastes: sweet (glucose), sour (citric acid), salt (sodium chloride) and bitter (quinine). A 4-day food diary was used to determine dietary intakes of zinc (mg day(-1)) and salt. Males reported a higher zinc intake than females (P=0.001). Higher dietary zinc intake was associated with better taste acuity for salt in females (P=0.017) but not in males. Acuity for bitter taste appeared to be related to zinc intake in males (P=0.007) but not females. Among those whose average daily zinc intake was below the RNI, males were less sensitive than females to sour (P=0.02) and bitter (P=0.014) taste. These findings suggest that zinc is more important for taste acuity in males than females and indicate the importance of taking sex differences into account when studying taste acuity.
    Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 05/2007; 20(2):103-10. · 1.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this paper is to provide descriptive information on anthropometric status, pathological conditions, cognitive impairment and lifestyle in apparently healthy elderly Italian people. In order to recruit the volunteers for the ZENITH study, 359 Italian participants (167 men and 192 women), aged between 70 and 85 years, free living in Rome, were selected. Volunteers underwent a full clinical examination, anthropometric measurements (height, weight), a lifestyle questionnaire and mental health assessment (cognitive impairment and depression). The prevalence of overweight and obesity was high (57% and 22% in men; 43% and 27% in women). Obesity was associated with low socio-economic profile in about 40% of participants. Although the sample was selected by family doctors and was apparently healthy, after medical screening the presence of several pathologies, particularly diabetes in 21% of participants was observed. There was a low prevalence of cognitive impairment in 4% of men and 7% of women and possible depression in 9% of men and 19% of women. The lifestyle questionnaire showed that most of their time was spent in light activities such as reading, watching TV or playing cards and significant differences between sex and BMI categories were observed (P=0.000). The results confirm the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of modern populations and demonstrate the need for sensitive and individualised strategies to design appropriate health promotion and disease prevention programs for older adults.
    The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging 01/2007; 11(2):165-74. · 2.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled design was employed to investigate the effects of Zn supplementation on cognitive function in 387 healthy adults aged 55-87 years. Several measures of visual memory, working memory, attention and reaction time were obtained using the Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery at baseline and then after 3 and 6 months of 0 (placebo), 15 or 30 mg Zn/d. Younger adults (< 70 years) performed significantly better on all tests than older adults (> 70 years), and performance improved with practice on some measures. For two out of eight dependent variables, there were significant interactions indicating a beneficial effect (at 3 months only) of both 15 and 30 mg/d on one measure of spatial working memory and a detrimental effect of 15 mg/d on one measure of attention. Further work is required to establish whether these findings generalise to older adults in poorer mental and physical health and with less adequate Zn intake and status than the present sample.
    British Journal Of Nutrition 10/2006; 96(4):752-60. · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled design was employed to investigate the effects of Zn supplementation on cognitive function in 387 healthy adults aged 55–87 years. Several measures of visual memory, working memory, attention and reaction time were obtained using the Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery at baseline and then after 3 and 6 months of 0 (placebo), 15 or 30 mg Zn/d. Younger adults (<70 years) performed significantly better on all tests than older adults (>70 years), and performance improved with practice on some measures. For two out of eight dependent variables, there were significant interactions indicating a beneficial effect (at 3 months only) of both 15 and 30 mg/d on one measure of spatial working memory and a detrimental effect of 15 mg/d on one measure of attention. Further work is required to establish whether these findings generalise to older adults in poorer mental and physical health and with less adequate Zn intake and status than the present sample.
    The British journal of nutrition 09/2006; 96(04):752 - 760. · 3.45 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Baseline data are reported from a study of the effects of zinc supplementation on cognitive function in older adults as assessed by the CANTAB computerised test battery. This is a multicentre prospective intervention study employing a randomised double-blind design. European community-based study. There are 387 healthy adults aged 55-87 y from centres in France, Italy and Northern Ireland. Measures of visual memory, working memory and attention were obtained at baseline (prior to supplementation). Younger adults (<70 y) performed significantly better than older adults (>70 y) on all tests, with minimal differences between centres. In addition, men outperformed women on tests of spatial span, pattern recognition memory and reaction times, although these gender differences varied somewhat between centres. The results are generally consistent with previous age- and gender-related effects on cognitive functioning.
    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2005; 59 Suppl 2:S26-30. · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To report the rational, design, recruitment, baseline characteristics and preliminary overview of volunteers in the ZENITH study. A multicentre prospective intervention study employing a randomised double-blind design. Clermont-Ferrand, Theix (France), Coleraine (Northern Ireland), Grenoble (France), Rome (Italy). Healthy men and women middle-aged (55-70 y) and older volunteers (70-87 y). At baseline (prior to zinc (Zn) supplementation), all volunteers underwent a full clinical examination, anthropometric measurements, health and lifestyle questionnaire, Mini Mental State Examination, Geriatric Depression Scale, and biochemistry profile. In total, 842 volunteers (378 men and 464 women) were invited to take part in the study. A total of 49% of these volunteers were excluded on the basis of inclusion/exclusion criteria. In total, 433 participants were admitted to the Zn supplementation for 6 months. During this period, about 10% of volunteers dropped out from the study. A total of 387 subjects (197 male and 190 female subjects) successfully completed the supplementation phase of the ZENITH study.
    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2005; 59 Suppl 2:S8-12. · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To describe health and lifestyle factors of participants in the ZENITH study. A prospective multicentre intervention study employing a randomised double-blind design. Community dwelling older adults (n = 387), aged 55-87 y were recruited from regions in France, Italy and the UK. A self-report questionnaire comprising socio-demographic variables, dietary habits, physical activity in the home, at work and recreation. Participants differed with regards dietary habits and physical activity for each region. Recreational activity was higher in France and women generally tend to perform less hours of recreational activity per week than men. The differences found for these regions of Europe in relation to lifestyle factors will affect health and well-being within these countries and may mediate the impact of zinc supplementation on various biological and psychological parameters.
    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2005; 59 Suppl 2:S13-21. · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the quality of positive and negative affect (mood) in an ageing European sample. Mood quality has important implications for both physical and mental wellbeing. Poor quality moods are associated with deficits in the diverse areas of cognitive function, health, and social relationships. The ageing process presents a number of potential challenges to successful mood regulation that could have wider implications. The current study examines the quality of positive and negative affect in 387 healthy participants from three European countries. Moods were measured four times a day for 4-7 d with the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) mood scales. Measures of zinc (Zn) status were taken also. Two centres concentrated on 55-70 yr olds (Coleraine, N.Ireland, n = 93 and Clermont-Ferrand, France, n = 95), and two centres concentrated on 70-87 yr olds (Rome, Italy, n = 108, and Grenoble, France, n = 91). Positive affect scores for the centre in Rome were significantly (P < 0.01) lower than for the other three centres, and the Grenoble centre had significantly (P < 0.05) higher scores on negative affect than the other three centres. Mood was not related to measures of zinc status (all Ps > 0.05). The two centres with the oldest participants showed deficits in mood quality that may have implications for broader well-being.
    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2005; 59 Suppl 2:S22-5. · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Age-related decline in taste acuity may be both a cause and an effect of depleted zinc and/or increased zinc requirement. The aim of this study was to explore associations between zinc status and taste acuity in healthy older European adults aged 55-90 y. Volunteers were recruited within Italy (n = 108 aged 70-90 y), the United Kingdom (UK) (n = 93 aged 55-70) and two regions of France (n = 186), Grenoble (aged 70-90 y) and Clermont-Ferrand (aged 55-70 y). A signal detection theory approach was adopted, employing a three-alternative, forced-choice procedure. The data were converted to R-indices and bivariate correlations were computed to explore relationships between serum zinc, erythrocyte zinc and taste acuity. ANOVA was undertaken to determine regional differences in zinc status. Higher erythrocyte zinc status was associated with better acuity for salt (sodium chloride) taste in the sample as a whole (P = 0.012) (n = 385). Higher serum zinc levels were associated with greater sensitivity to sour taste (citric acid) (P = 0.015) only in the older groups (aged 70-90 y). There were no apparent associations between serum or erythrocyte zinc status and acuity for bitter (quinine) or sweet (sucrose) tastes irrespective of age. These results agree with those previously suggesting that age-related detriment in sensitivity for salt taste may be associated with depleted zinc.
    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2005; 59 Suppl 2:S31-6. · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Zinc is known to be essential for a great number of biochemical activities and physiological and cognitive functions. The objective of Zenith study was to investigate the effects of Zn, as a nutritional supplement, on psychological and behavioural factors and on surrogate markers that are indicative of trends towards better health in order to evaluate the need for dietary recommendations specific to the studied population. We report in this paper the summary of baseline results obtained before Zn supplementation.
    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2005; 59 Suppl 2:S5-7. · 2.76 Impact Factor