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  1. Abstract Objective: The current cross-sectional study examined cognition and performance-based functional abilities in a continuing care senior housing community (CCSHC) that is comparable to other CCSHCs in the US with respect to residents’ demographic characteristics. Method: Participants were 110 older adult residents of the independent living unit. We assessed sociodemographics, mental health, neurocognitive functioning, and functional capacity. Results: Compared to normative samples, participants performed at or above expectations in terms of premorbid functioning, attention span and working memory, processing speed, timed set-shifting, inhibitory control, and confrontation naming. They performed below expectation in verbal fluency and verbal and visual learning and memory, with impairment rates [31.4% (>1 SD below the mean) and 18.49% (>1.5 SD below the mean)] well above the general population (16% and 7%, respectively). Within the cognitive test battery, two tests of delayed memory were most predictive of a global deficit score. Most cognitive test scores correlated with performance-based functional capacity. Conclusions: Overall, results suggest that a subset of older adults in the independent living sector of CCSHCs are cognitively and functionally impaired and are at risk for future dementia. Results also argue for the inclusion of memory tests in abbreviated screening batteries in this population. We suggestmore »that CCSHCs implement regular cognitive screening procedures to identify and triage those older adults who could benefit from interventions and, potentially, a transition to a higher level of care.« less
  2. Abstract

    Graves’ Disease is the most common organ-specific autoimmune disease and has been linked in small pilot studies to taxonomic markers within the gut microbiome. Important limitations of this work include small sample sizes and low-resolution taxonomic markers. Accordingly, we studied 162 gut microbiomes of mild and severe Graves’ disease (GD) patients and healthy controls. Taxonomic and functional analyses based on metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) and MAG-annotated genes, together with predicted metabolic functions and metabolite profiles, revealed a well-defined network of MAGs, genes and clinical indexes separating healthy from GD subjects. A supervised classification model identified a combination of biomarkers including microbial species, MAGs, genes and SNPs, with predictive power superior to models from any single biomarker type (AUC = 0.98). Global, cross-disease multi-cohort analysis of gut microbiomes revealed high specificity of these GD biomarkers, notably discriminating against Parkinson’s Disease, and suggesting that non-invasive stool-based diagnostics will be useful for these diseases.

  3. Abstract Background

    SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Viruses exist in complex microbial environments, and recent studies have revealed both synergistic and antagonistic effects of specific bacterial taxa on viral prevalence and infectivity. We set out to test whether specific bacterial communities predict SARS-CoV-2 occurrence in a hospital setting.

    Methods

    We collected 972 samples from hospitalized patients with COVID-19, their health care providers, and hospital surfaces before, during, and after admission. We screened for SARS-CoV-2 using RT-qPCR, characterized microbial communities using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and used these bacterial profiles to classify SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection with a random forest model.

    Results

    Sixteen percent of surfaces from COVID-19 patient rooms had detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA, although infectivity was not assessed. The highest prevalence was in floor samples next to patient beds (39%) and directly outside their rooms (29%). Although bed rail samples more closely resembled the patient microbiome compared to floor samples, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected less often in bed rail samples (11%). SARS-CoV-2 positive samples had higher bacterial phylogenetic diversity in both human and surface samples and higher biomass in floor samples. 16S microbial community profiles enabled high classifier accuracy for SARS-CoV-2 status in not onlymore »nares, but also forehead, stool, and floor samples. Across these distinct microbial profiles, a single amplicon sequence variant from the genusRothiastrongly predicted SARS-CoV-2 presence across sample types, with greater prevalence in positive surface and human samples, even when compared to samples from patients in other intensive care units prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Conclusions

    These results contextualize the vast diversity of microbial niches where SARS-CoV-2 RNA is detected and identify specific bacterial taxa that associate with the viral RNA prevalence both in the host and hospital environment.

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