Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Boston, MA, United States
Recent publications
Background: Physical activity during midlife (ages 45-64) plays a major role in the prevention of chronic and serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, many midlife adults struggle to be physically active in the setting of low levels of psychological well-being and the management of multiple confluent sources of stress. Effective, scalable, midlife-specific interventions are needed to promote physical activity and prevent the development of chronic medical conditions. Objectives: In an initial proof-of-concept trial, we assessed the feasibility and acceptability of a new, midlife-adapted, phone- and text message-based intervention using positive psychology (PP) skill-building and motivational interviewing (MI) techniques. We secondarily analyzed post-intervention changes in accelerometer-measured physical activity and self-reported outcomes. Methods: The PP-MI intervention included six weekly phone sessions with a study trainer, with completion of PP activities and physical activity goals between calls, and in the subsequent six weeks briefer phone check-ins were conducted. Text messages over the 12-week intervention period were utilized to support participants and identify barriers to goal completion. Feasibility (session completion rates) and acceptability (participant ratings of intervention ease and utility) were assessed via descriptive statistics, and pre-post improvements in psychological, functional, and physical activity outcomes at 12 weeks were examined via mixed effects regression models. Results: Twelve midlife adults with low baseline physical activity enrolled in the single-arm trial. Overall, 76.8% of all possible sessions were completed by participants, and mean ratings of weekly phone sessions were 8.9/10 (SD 1.6), exceeding our a priori thresholds for feasibility and acceptability. Participants demonstrated generally medium to large effect size magnitude improvements in accelerometer-measured physical activity, psychological outcomes, and function. Conclusions: A novel, midlife-specific phone- and text-based PP-MI intervention was feasible and had promising effects on physical activity and other clinically relevant outcomes, supporting next-step testing of this program via a randomized controlled trial.
The prevalence of obesity has risen to its highest values over the last two decades. While many studies have either shown brain or microbiome connections to obesity, few have attempted to analyze the brain-gut-microbiome relationship in a large cohort adjusting for cofounders. Therefore, we aim to explore the connection of the brain-gut-microbiome axis to obesity controlling for such cofounders as sex, race, and diet. Whole brain resting state functional MRI was acquired, and connectivity and brain network properties were calculated. Fecal samples were obtained from 287 obese and non-obese participants (males n = 99, females n = 198) for 16s rRNA profiling and fecal metabolites, along with a validated dietary questionnaire. Obesity was associated with alterations in the brain's reward network (nucleus accumbens, brainstem). Microbial diversity (p = .03) and composition (p = .03) differed by obesity independent of sex, race, or diet. Obesity was associated with an increase in Prevotella/Bacteroides (P/B) ratio and a decrease in fecal tryptophan (p = .02). P/B ratio was positively correlated to nucleus accumbens centrality (p = .03) and negatively correlated to fecal tryptophan (p = .004). Being Hispanic, eating a standard American diet, having a high Prevotella/Bacteroides ratio, and a high nucleus accumbens centrality were all independent risk factors for obesity. There are obesity-related signatures in the BGM-axis independent of sex, race, and diet. Race, diet, P/B ratio and increased nucleus accumbens centrality were independent risk factors for obesity. P/B ratio was inversely related to fecal tryptophan, a metabolite related to serotonin biosynthesis, and positively related to nucleus accumbens centrality, a region central to the brain's reward center. These findings may expand the field of therapies for obesity through novel pathways directed at the BGM axis.
People living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLWH) have significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease in part due to inflammation and immune dysregulation. Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), the age-related acquisition and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells due to leukemogenic driver mutations, increases risk for both hematologic malignancy and coronary artery disease (CAD). Since increased inflammation is hypothesized to be both a cause and consequence of CHIP, we hypothesized that PLWH have a greater prevalence of CHIP. We searched for CHIP in multi-ethnic cases from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS, n = 600) and controls from the Atherosclerosis Risk in the Communities study (ARIC, n = 8111) from blood DNA-derived exome sequences. We observed that HIV is associated with a twofold increase in CHIP prevalence, both in the whole study population and in a subset of 230 cases and 1002 matched controls selected by propensity matching to control for demographic imbalances (SHCS 7%, ARIC 3%, p = 0.005). We also observed that ASXL1 is the most commonly mutated CHIP-associated gene in PLWH. Our results suggest that CHIP may contribute to the excess cardiovascular risk observed in PLWH.
While COVID-19 diagnosis and prognosis artificial intelligence models exist, very few can be implemented for practical use given their high risk of bias. We aimed to develop a diagnosis model that addresses notable shortcomings of prior studies, integrating it into a fully automated triage pipeline that examines chest radiographs for the presence, severity, and progression of COVID-19 pneumonia. Scans were collected using the DICOM Image Analysis and Archive, a system that communicates with a hospital’s image repository. The authors collected over 6,500 non-public chest X-rays comprising diverse COVID-19 severities, along with radiology reports and RT-PCR data. The authors provisioned one internally held-out and two external test sets to assess model generalizability and compare performance to traditional radiologist interpretation. The pipeline was evaluated on a prospective cohort of 80 radiographs, reporting a 95% diagnostic accuracy. The study mitigates bias in AI model development and demonstrates the value of an end-to-end COVID-19 triage platform.
The significant mortality rate and prolonged ventilator days associated with invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) in patients with severe COVID-19 have incited a debate surrounding the use of noninvasive respiratory support (NIRS) (i.e., HFNC, CPAP, NIV) as a potential treatment strategy. Central to this debate is the role of NIRS in preventing intubation in patients with mild respiratory disease and the potential beneficial effects on both patient outcome and resource utilization. However, there remains valid concern that use of NIRS may prolong time to intubation and lung protective ventilation in patients with more advanced disease, thereby worsening respiratory mechanics via self-inflicted lung injury. In addition, the risk of aerosolization with the use of NIRS has the potential to increase healthcare worker (HCW) exposure to the virus. We review the existing literature with a focus on rationale, patient selection and outcomes associated with the use of NIRS in COVID-19 and prior pandemics, as well as in patients with acute respiratory failure due to different etiologies (i.e., COPD, cardiogenic pulmonary edema, etc.) to understand the potential role of NIRS in COVID-19 patients. Based on this analysis we suggest an algorithm for NIRS in COVID-19 patients which includes indications and contraindications for use, monitoring recommendations, systems-based practices to reduce HCW exposure, and predictors of NIRS failure. We also discuss future research priorities for addressing unanswered questions regarding NIRS use in COVID-19 with the goal of improving patient outcomes.
Delivery of serious illness communication (SIC) is necessary to ensure that all seriously ill patients receive goal-concordant care. However, the current SIC delivery process contains barriers that prevent the delivery of timely and effective SIC. In this paper, we describe the current bottlenecks of the traditional SIC workflow and explore how a hybrid artificial intelligence-human workflow may improve the efficiency and effectiveness of SIC delivery in busy practice settings.
Clinical risk prediction models powered by electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming increasingly widespread in clinical practice. With suicide-related mortality rates rising in recent years, it is becoming increasingly urgent to understand, predict, and prevent suicidal behavior. Here, we compare the predictive value of structured and unstructured EHR data for predicting suicide risk. We find that Naive Bayes Classifier (NBC) and Random Forest (RF) models trained on structured EHR data perform better than those based on unstructured EHR data. An NBC model trained on both structured and unstructured data yields similar performance (AUC = 0.743) to an NBC model trained on structured data alone (0.742, p = 0.668), while an RF model trained on both data types yields significantly better results (AUC = 0.903) than an RF model trained on structured data alone (0.887, p < 0.001), likely due to the RF model’s ability to capture interactions between the two data types. To investigate these interactions, we propose and implement a general framework for identifying specific structured-unstructured feature pairs whose interactions differ between case and non-case cohorts, and thus have the potential to improve predictive performance and increase understanding of clinical risk. We find that such feature pairs tend to capture heterogeneous pairs of general concepts, rather than homogeneous pairs of specific concepts. These findings and this framework can be used to improve current and future EHR-based clinical modeling efforts.
Background Reproductive planning is an emerging concern for women with inherited metabolic disease (IMD). Anticipatory guidance on contraception is necessary to prevent unintended pregnancies in this population. Few resources exist to aid informed decision-making on contraceptive choice. A retrospective case–control study was performed to examine trends in reproductive planning for adolescent and adult women seen at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Literature review on contraception and IMD was performed to assess global use. Results In a cohort of 221 reproductive-aged female IMD patients, 29.4% reported routine contraceptive use. Anticipatory guidance on contraception was provided by metabolic physicians to 36.8% of patients during the study period. Contraception discussion was more likely to occur in women older than 21 years, who lived independently and were followed by gynecology. Women who received contraception counseling from their metabolic physician were 40-fold more likely to use regular contraception. Use of combined hormonal contraceptives was most commonly reported, but contraception choice varied by age and IMD. Conclusion Metabolic physicians are ideally suited to provide guidance on contraception to women with IMD. Reproductive planning should be addressed routinely using shared decision-making. Contraceptives should be selected for their efficacy, effects on metabolism, and likelihood of patient adherence.
Introduction: The neurofibromatoses (NF) are a group of rare, genetic diseases sharing a predisposition to develop multiple benign nervous system tumors. Given the wide range of NF symptoms and medical specialties involved in NF care, we sought to evaluate the level of awareness of, and agreement with, published NF clinical guidelines among NF specialists in the United States. Methods: An anonymous, cross-sectional, online survey was distributed to U.S.-based NF clinicians. Respondents self-reported demographics, practice characteristics, awareness of seven NF guideline publications, and level of agreement with up to 40 individual recommendations using a 5-point Likert scale. We calculated the proportion of recommendations that each clinician rated "strongly agree", and assessed for differences in guideline awareness and agreement by respondent characteristics. Results: Sixty-three clinicians (49% female; 80% academic practice) across > 8 medical specialties completed the survey. Awareness of each guideline publication ranged from 53%-79% of respondents; specialists had higher awareness of publications endorsed by their medical professional organization (p < 0.05). The proportion of respondents who "strongly agree" with individual recommendations ranged from 17%-83%; for 16 guidelines, less than 50% of respondents "strongly agree". There were no significant differences in overall agreement with recommendations based on clinicians' gender, race, specialty, years in practice, practice type (academic/private practice/other), practice location (urban/suburban/rural), or involvement in NF research (p > 0.05 for all). Conclusions: We identified wide variability in both awareness of, and agreement with, published NF care guidelines among NF experts. Future quality improvement efforts should focus on evidence-based, consensus-driven methods to update and disseminate guidelines across this multi-specialty group of providers. Patients and caregivers should also be consulted to proactively anticipate barriers to accessing and implementing guideline-driven care. These recommendations for improving guideline knowledge and adoption may also be useful for other rare diseases requiring multi-specialty care coordination.
Background: Significant aortic regurgitation (AR) leads to left ventricular (LV) remodeling; however, little data exist regarding sex-based differences in LV remodeling in this setting. We sought to compare LV remodeling and AR severity, assessed by echocardiography and cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), to discern sex-based differences. Methods: Patients with ≥ moderate chronic AR by echocardiography who underwent CMR within 90 days between December 2005 and October 2015 were included. Nonlinear regression models were built to assess the effect of AR regurgitant fraction (RF) on LV remodeling. A generalized linear model and Bland Altman analyses were constructed to evaluate differences between CMR and echocardiography. Referral for surgical intervention based on symptoms and LV remodeling was evaluated. Results: Of the 243 patients (48.3 ± 16.6 years, 58 (24%) female), 119 (49%) underwent surgical intervention with a primary indication of severe AR, 97 (82%) men, 22 (18%) women. Significant sex differences in LV remodeling emerged on CMR. Women demonstrated significantly smaller LV end-diastolic volume index (LVEDVI) (96.8 ml/m2 vs 125.6 ml/m2, p < 0.001), LV end-systolic volume index (LVESVI) (41.1 vs 54.5 ml/m2, p < 0.001), blunted LV dilation in the setting of increasing AR severity (LVEDVI p value < 0.001, LVESVI p value 0.011), and LV length indexed (8.32 vs 9.69 cm, p < 0.001). On Bland Altman analysis, a significant interaction with sex and LV diameters was evident, demonstrating a significant increase in the difference between CMR and echocardiography measurements as the LV enlarged in women: LVEDVI (p = 0.006), LVESVI (p < 0.001), such that echocardiographic measurements increasingly underestimated LV diameters in women as the LV enlarged. LV length was higher for males with a linear effect from RF (p < 0.001), with LV length increasing at a higher rate with increasing RF for males compared to females (two-way interaction with sex p = 0.005). Sphericity volume index was higher for men after adjusting for a relative wall thickness (p = 0.033). Conclusions: CMR assessment of chronic AR revealed significant sex differences in LV remodeling and significant echocardiographic underestimation of LV dilation, particularly in women. Defining optimal sex-based CMR thresholds for surgical referral should be further developed. Trial registration: NA.
Immunotherapies have recently gained traction as highly effective therapies in a subset of late-stage cancers. Unfortunately, only a minority of patients experience the remarkable benefits of immunotherapies, whilst others fail to respond or even come to harm through immune-related adverse events. For immunotherapies within the PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor class, patient stratification is currently performed using tumor (tissue-based) PD-L1 expression. However, PD-L1 is an accurate predictor of response in only ~30% of cases. There is pressing need for more accurate biomarkers for immunotherapy response prediction. We sought to identify peripheral blood biomarkers, predictive of response to immunotherapies against lung cancer, based on whole blood microRNA profiling. Using three well-characterized cohorts consisting of a total of 334 stage IV NSCLC patients, we have defined a 5 microRNA risk score (miRisk) that is predictive of overall survival following immunotherapy in training and independent validation (HR 2.40, 95% CI 1.37–4.19; P < 0.01) cohorts. We have traced the signature to a myeloid origin and performed miRNA target prediction to make a direct mechanistic link to the PD-L1 signaling pathway and PD-L1 itself. The miRisk score offers a potential blood-based companion diagnostic for immunotherapy that outperforms tissue-based PD-L1 staining.
Palliative care is an interdisciplinary care to optimize physical, psychosocial, and spiritual symptoms of patients and their families whose quality of life is impaired by serious, life-limiting illness. In 2021, the importance of providing palliative care in the intensive care unit (ICU) is well recognized by various studies to alleviate physical symptoms due to invasive treatments, to set patient-centered goals of care, and to provide end-of-life care. This paper summarizes the evidence known to date on primary palliative care delivered in the ICU settings. We will then discuss the potential benefits and harms of primary palliative care so that critical care clinicians are better equipped to decide what services might best improve the palliative care needs in their ICUs.
Polygenic scores can identify individuals with high disease risk based on inborn DNA variation. We explore their potential to enrich clinical trials by identifying individuals based on higher risk of disease (‘prognostic enrichment’), or increased probability of benefit (‘predictive enrichment’).
Nitric oxide (NO) is a key molecule in the biology of human life. NO is involved in the physiology of organ viability and in the pathophysiology of organ dysfunction, respectively. In this narrative review, we aimed at elucidating the mechanisms behind the role of NO in the respiratory and cardio-cerebrovascular systems, in the presence of a healthy or dysfunctional endothelium. NO is a key player in maintaining multiorgan viability with adequate organ blood perfusion. We report on its physiological endogenous production and effects in the circulation and within the lungs, as well as the pathophysiological implication of its disturbances related to NO depletion and excess. The review covers from preclinical information about endogenous NO produced by nitric oxide synthase (NOS) to the potential therapeutic role of exogenous NO (inhaled nitric oxide, iNO). Moreover, the importance of NO in several clinical conditions in critically ill patients such as hypoxemia, pulmonary hypertension, hemolysis, cerebrovascular events and ischemia–reperfusion syndrome is evaluated in preclinical and clinical settings. Accordingly, the mechanism behind the beneficial iNO treatment in hypoxemia and pulmonary hypertension is investigated. Furthermore, investigating the pathophysiology of brain injury, cardiopulmonary bypass, and red blood cell and artificial hemoglobin transfusion provides a focus on the potential role of NO as a protective molecule in multiorgan dysfunction. Finally, the preclinical toxicology of iNO and the antimicrobial role of NO—including its recent investigation on its role against the Sars-CoV2 infection during the COVID-19 pandemic—are described.
Introduction Transplantation of organs exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) into uninfected patients has yielded excellent outcomes and more widespread adoption may lead to fewer discarded organs and more transplants. Patient perceptions may shed light on acceptability and likely the uptake of HCV+/HCV− transplantation, gaps in understanding, and perceived benefits/risks. Methods We surveyed 435 uninfected kidney and liver transplant candidates at four centers about their attitude towards HCV-infected organs. Results The percentage of patients willing to accept HCV-infected organs increased from 58% at baseline, to 86% following education about HCV, direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs), and HCV+/HCV− transplantation benefits/risks. More willingness to accept an organ from an intravenous drug user (P < 0.001), age >50 y old (P = 0.02), longer waiting time (P = 0.02), more trust in the transplant system (P = 0.03), and previous awareness of DAAs (P = 0.04) were associated with higher willingness to accept an HCV-infected organ. The most important reasons for accepting an HCV-infected organ were a decrease in waiting time (65%), lower mortality and morbidity risk while on the waiting list (63%), effectiveness of DAAs (54%), and a quicker return to higher functional status (51%). Conclusions Presenting patients with information about HCV+/HCV− transplantation in small doses that are calibrated to account for varying levels of health and numerical literacy is recommended.
Reconstructive breast surgery aims to improve body image following mastectomy, yet many women experience ongoing body image distress (BID). The relationship between the esthetic outcome of reconstructive surgery with BID has been underexplored in mastectomy. This study aimed to assess whether reconstruction outcome following mastectomy is associated with post-surgery BID, and to examine potential psychological risk and maintenance factors for BID above reconstruction outcome. In 49 women undergoing mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction, we prospectively assessed hypothesized pre-surgery psychological risk factors and post-surgery maintenance factors for post-surgery BID. Reconstruction outcome was assessed via blind surgeon ratings of post-surgery photographs. Surgeon-rated reconstruction outcome was uncorrelated with BID, or with patients’ ratings of surgical outcome. Higher pre-surgery depressive symptoms and lower pre-surgery patient expectations for reconstruction predicted greater post-surgery BID, above reconstruction outcome. Post-surgery body checking also predicted greater BID, above reconstruction outcome. Results suggest that the medical team cannot assume their perception of reconstruction outcome matches the patient’s view or degree of BID. If replicated, results point to potential psychological risk and maintenance factors that are stronger predictors of post-reconstruction BID, highlighting opportunities for light-touch prevention and intervention to reduce BID after mastectomy with breast reconstruction.
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Sarah Mozafarpour
  • Department of Urology
Martin Purschke
  • Wellman Center for Photomedicine
Randy Lyanne Gollub
  • Department of Radiology
Brian Ghoshhajra
  • Department of Radiology
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