Open Reading Frame brings together a selection of recent publication highlights from elsewhere in the open access ecosystem. This week we take a look at the past few weeks in medicine.


The benefits of salt reduction
Reduced salt intake is likely to have played an important role in decreasing deaths from heart disease in England. In an analysis of data from a national health survey, researchers show that stroke and ischemic heart disease (IHD) mortality have decreased by around 40 percent since 2003, and this decrease is accompanied by a drop in salt consumption by 1.4g/day. The authors conclude that while this reduction in cardiovascular disease deaths is attributable to several factors – including improvements in fruit and vegetable consumption and reduced smoking prevalence – the substantial decrease in salt intake is likely to have played a major role through its beneficial effect on blood pressure. These findings highlight the positive impact of reducing salt intake, and confirm the need for sustained efforts to meet salt reduction targets.
He et al. BMJ Open


Measuring the metabolic complications of obesity
New research suggests that a circulating form of the membrane protein CD36, soluble (sCD36), could be a biomarker of obesity-related metabolic complications. In 20 morbidly obese individuals in Denmark, sCD36 levels in the blood were shown to decrease by 31 percent following gastric bypass surgery, and this drop in protein levels correlated with weight loss, reductions in circulating triglycerides and improvements in glycemic control. The authors conclude that sCD36 should be monitored as an indicator of metabolic abnormalities in obese people, and could be used to measure the success of weight loss interventions.
Knøsgaard et al. Nutrition & Diabetes


Can technology improve chronic disease management?
There has been considerable interest among healthcare providers in using information technology to facilitate the management of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Now, research has been carried out to assess Canadian patients’ views on using technologies such as email, video conferencing and text messages for healthcare purposes. The survey results reveal that around two thirds of participants, including those with diabetes, stroke and heart disease, would use email to interact with specialists, but respondents were less interested in using text messaging to interact with healthcare providers. These results indicate that people are interested in using electronic communications  to help manage chronic conditions, suggesting that information technology could be employed in clinical practice to improve access to healthcare and benefit patients with chronic NCDs.
Afshar et al. CMAJ Open


Linking autism and intellectual disability: the role of CADPS2
Intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders with overlapping clinical characteristics, and the underlying causes are not fully understood. New research has identified a novel genetic alteration present in both disorders. The deletion mutation in C ADPS2, a gene coding for a protein involved in neuronal signalling, was identified in two siblings with ID. Further validation revealed that the CADPS2 variant is expressed in blood and specific brain regions in patients with ID and ASD, and is of maternal origin. CADPS2 variants could therefore contribute to ID and ASD development, and may play a role in maternal inheritance of the two conditions.
Bonora et al. EMBO Molecular Medicine


Risk factors for thrombosis in Senegal
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of mortality worldwide, and many thromboses remain undetected. A comprehensive understanding of the risk factors for VTE is therefore needed so that those who are likely to develop the condition can be identified. A study carried out in Senegal has revealed that oral contraceptive use, female sex, surgery and non-O blood groups are all significantly associated with VTE occurrence. These findings are the first description of risk factors for VTE in a black African population, and should help guide thrombosis prevention strategies in at-risk individuals.
Fall et al. Clinical Medicine Insights: Blood Disorders


Stillbirth prevention strategies: the importance of fetal size
Stillbirth – defined as fetal death after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the US – affects approximately one in every 160 pregnancies. Fetal growth restriction is an important predictor of stillbirth, and prevention strategies are targeted towards those pregnancies with poor fetal growth rates. However, a large study of all stillbirths occurring in 59 hospitals across the US has revealed that excessive fetal growth is also linked to stillbirth risk. The study revealed that having a “small for gestational age” (SGA) or “large for gestational age” fetus is significantly associated with an increased risk of stillbirth, with a stronger association for more severe SGA and LGA. Contrary to current recommendations, these results suggest that stillbirth prevention strategies should focus on both SGA and LGA pregnancies.
Bukowski et al. PLOS Medicine

Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.


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