New genetic complexities emerge for mental disorders, how tampering with our circadian rhythms can affect our health and can a fitness test predict if you’ll die early?

This Simple Fitness Test Can Help Predict If You’ll Die Early

(Runner’s World, 12/12/2018, Danielle Zickl)

Having good aerobic capacity is essential for runners, enabling us to go harder and longer during our workouts. But there’s another reason being aerobically fit is important: It may even decrease your risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses, according to researchers out of Spain. In the study, which was presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s EuroEcho-Imaging 2018, researchers analyzed 12,615 participants ages 18 to 91 with known or suspected coronary artery disease. The participants underwent a treadmill exercise echocardiography stress test, where they either walked or ran until the point of exhaustion. The results of the stress test were measured in metabolic equivalents (METs), or the energy cost of an activity. Upon following up with the participants almost five years later, the researchers found that those in the poor functional fitness group were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other illnesses. In fact, people in the poor fitness group were three times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease and nearly twice as likely to die from cancer during that five-year period than those in the good fitness group.

How our body clocks can make or break our health

(Medical News Today, 12/13/2018, Paula Field)

New research from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Nagoya University in Japan identifies a key mechanism that links the dysregulation of circadian rhythms with a greater exposure to chronic diseases. The new study, which appears in PNAS, has identified a protein that plays a dual role in the context of the circadian rhythm, and which explains how disrupted body clocks can lead to disease. When the researchers analyzed liver and colon cells taken from mouse and human tissue, they found that HNF4A interacts with the circadian clocks of these cells in complex ways. More specifically, HNF4A can block two other proteins — CLOCK and BMAL1 — that help regulate circadian rhythms in mammals.

Big data reveals hints of how, when and where mental disorders start

(Science News, 12/13/2018, Laura Sanders)

Psychiatric disorders’ many complexities have stymied scientists looking for clear genetic culprits. But a new giant dataset holds clues to how, when and where these brain disorders begin. Called PsychENCODE, the project’s first large data release has revealed intricate insights into the behavior of genes and the stretches of genetic material between them in both healthy brains and those from people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or autism spectrum disorder. Earlier studies have pinpointed certain genes and other stretches of the genome — the genetic material that makes up cells’ instruction books — as being involved in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder. The new collection of work goes further, both confirming and clarifying some of these roles.

 

—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola