INSIGHT of Medicine(phase 18, 2024)


1.Neurofilament light chain and glial fibrillary acid protein levels are elevated in post-mild COVID-19 or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 cases

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-57093-z

This cohort study investigates cognitive effects in 147 adults returning to work after COVID-19. They measure serum levels of neurofilament light chain (sNfL) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (sGFAP), biomarkers of neuro-axonal damage and astrocytic activation, one week and ten months post-SARS-CoV-2 negativization. Compared to healthy controls (HCs), COVID-19 patients show elevated sNfL and sGFAP levels initially, with significantly higher levels in those with cognitive impairment. At ten months, while levels decrease, they remain elevated compared to HCs, suggesting ongoing neuronal and astrocytic damage even after resolution of COVID-19.

2.Diverse adolescents' transcendent thinking predicts young adult psychosocial outcomes via brain network development

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-56800-0

In a 5-year longitudinal study, researchers observed 14-18-year-old youths' engagement with complex social narratives, termed transcendent thinking, as they navigated ethical, systemic, and personal implications. They found that this propensity predicted increased coordination between two critical brain networks, the default-mode network (for reflective, autobiographical thinking) and the executive control network (for focused thinking). This neural development correlated with late-adolescent identity formation, which, in turn, influenced self-esteem and relationship satisfaction in young adulthood. These results highlight a new predictor of adolescent neural development and emphasize the importance of nurturing adolescents' ability to engage critically with complex social issues, suggesting potential implications for educational approaches focused on civic engagement.

3.Association of neurotransmitter pathway polygenic risk with specific symptom profiles in psychosis

DOI: 10.1038/s41380-024-02457-0

In this study on early-stage psychosis, researchers aimed to understand how genetic risk factors contribute to psychiatric symptoms. They analyzed genetic data from 205 patients and 115 controls, calculating polygenic scores (PGSs) for schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BP). While overall genetic risk was higher in psychosis patients, specific neurotransmitter pathways showed associations with symptom severity. Notably, glutamate levels were linked to SZ diagnosis and cognitive deficits, while dopamine levels correlated with overall functioning. Endophenotype-driven clustering identified distinct patient groups based on symptom profiles and genetic risk. Though limited by cohort size, the study suggests that analyzing pathway-specific genetic risks could enhance understanding of psychiatric disorders and aid in developing targeted interventions. Further research is needed to validate these findings at a broader scale.

4.Gamma power and beta envelope correlation are potential neural predictors of deep hypnosis

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-56633-x

In this study, researchers investigated the neural mechanisms underlying hypnosis, a widely used psychological intervention. They analyzed EEG data and identified specific neurophysiological features associated with hypnotic depth, including gamma power and beta power envelope correlation between brain networks. Classification models based on these features accurately predicted self-rated hypnotic experience. Further analysis revealed reduced gamma power in the frontal area and increased beta power envelope correlation between certain brain networks during deep hypnosis. These findings shed light on the neural correlates of hypnosis and suggest potential targets for future research. Additionally, the study demonstrates the usefulness of predictive models in understanding hypnotic depth, offering a framework for further investigations.

5.Proinflammatory polarization of engineered heat-inducible macrophages reprogram the tumor immune microenvironment during cancer immunotherapy

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-46210-1

The study introduces a novel approach to enhance macrophage-based adoptive cell therapy in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Engineered macrophages (eMac) with a heat-inducible genetic switch can self-polarize and re-polarize tumor-associated macrophages when exposed to mild temperature elevation. Locally produced proinflammatory cytokines by eMac prompt macrophage polarization into a pro-inflammatory phenotype without systemic side effects. Additionally, a wearable warming device, controllable via smartphone, facilitates temperature elevation for clinical application. This method offers a safe and effective immunotherapy strategy with translational potential for human patients.