Methodological issues in biomonitoring of low level exposure to benzene.
Data from a pilot study on unmetabolized benzene and trans,trans muconic acid (t,t-MA) excretion in filling station attendants and unexposed controls were used to afford methodological issues in the biomonitoring of low benzene exposures (around 0.1 ppm). Urinary concentrations of benzene and t,t-MA were measured by dynamic head-space capillary GC/FID and HPLC, respectively. The accuracy of the HPLC determination of t,t-MA was assessed in terms of inter- and intra-method reliability. The adequacy of urinary t,t-MA and benzene as biological markers of low benzene exposure was evaluated by analysing the relationship between personal exposure to benzene and biomarker excretion. Filling station attendants excreted significantly higher amounts of benzene, but not of t,t-MA, than controls. Adjusting for occupational benzene exposure, smokers excreted significantly higher amounts of t,t-MA, but not of unmetabolized benzene, than nonsmokers. A comparative analysis of the present and previously published biomonitoring surveys showed a good inter-study agreement regarding the amount of t,t-MA and unmetabolized benzene excreted (about 0.1-0.2 mg/l and 1-2 micrograms/l, respectively) per unit of exposure (0.1 ppm). For each biomarker, based on the distribution of parameters observed in the pilot study, we calculated the minimum sample size required to estimate the population mean with given confidence and precision. (+info)
Design and trial of a new questionnaire for occupational health surveys in companies.
In this article we present an example of our method for instrument development. This method is called the Development Cycle. It consists of four main stages: (1) defining the requirements for an instrument; (2) research, design and pilot testing; (3) implementation and (4) evaluation. An application of the Development Cycle was realized within a project for the development of a basic questionnaire about work and health, to be used at periodic health surveys. This questionnaire had to identify work and work-related health problems in employees with divergent occupations and working conditions. The design of the instrument and the results of its trial in 517 employees is presented. The evaluation of the test results and the modification of the questionnaire are discussed. From 1995, the questionnaire has been implemented in the Dutch OHS services quite successfully. (+info)
A chiropractic service arrangement for musculoskeletal complaints in industry: a pilot study.
Chiropractic services are commonly used by workers with musculoskeletal problems, especially low back and neck complaints. Research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this approach is, however, difficult to design without prior pilot studies. This study followed 32 workers with these complaints attending one such service and used five measures of outcome over a 6-month period. These measured pain (VAS), disability (FLP), quality of life (SF-36), perceived benefit and satisfaction with care. Additionally, sickness costs to the companies were recorded over two years encompassing the study period. Treatment utilization was also monitored. Over half the population were chronic sufferers. The effect sizes were large for pain and for seven out of eight dimensions of the SF-36 questionnaire at 6-month follow-up, although not for disability (FLP). High levels of satisfaction and perceived improvement were reported and sickness costs to the companies fell. However, the sample size in this pilot study was small and did not include controls. We would, therefore, recommend a full cost-effectiveness study incorporating a randomized trial in this area. (+info)
Biased JH usage in plasma cell immunoglobulin gene sequences from colonic mucosa in ulcerative colitis but not in Crohn's disease.
BACKGROUND: Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the colonic and rectal mucosa. Autoantibodies have been observed in ulcerative colitis which may have a role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Evidence also suggests that there is an hereditary predisposition towards the disease, although no individual genes have been identified. AIMS: This is a pilot study of immunoglobulin heavy chain genes (IgH) in ulcerative colitis to determine whether they have any particular genetic characteristics which may lead to a better understanding of the disease aetiology. SUBJECTS: Colonic or rectal tissue was obtained from five children with ulcerative colitis. Tissue was also obtained from five children with Crohn's disease and five children who did not have inflammatory bowel disease as controls. METHODS: B cells and IgD+ B cells were identified by immunohistochemistry on frozen sections. Areas of lamina propria containing plasma cells, and areas of IgD+ B cells were microdissected. The immunoglobulin genes were PCR amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Sequences were analysed for content of somatic mutations and composition of heavy chain. RESULTS: An increase in the use of JH6 and DXP'1, and a decrease in the use of JH4, gene segments in immunoglobulin genes from lamina propria plasma cells, and from virgin IgD+ B cells, was found in patients with ulcerative colitis. These biases were not present in the control groups. CONCLUSIONS: There is a fundamental difference in the immunoglobulin genes from patients with ulcerative colitis. Whether this is caused by a difference in content of immunoglobulin gene segments in the germline or a difference in the recombination mechanism is not known. (+info)
Use of positron emission tomography in evaluation of brachial plexopathy in breast cancer patients.
18-Fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) has previously been used successfully to image primary and metastatic breast cancer. In this pilot study, 19 breast cancer patients with symptoms/signs referrable to the brachial plexus were evaluated with 18FDG-PET. In 11 cases computerized tomography (CT) scanning was also performed. Of the 19 patients referred for PET study, 14 had abnormal uptake of 18FDG in the region of the symptomatic plexus. Four patients had normal PET studies and one had increased FDG uptake in the chest wall that accounted for her axillary pain. CT scans were performed in 9 of the 14 patients who had positive brachial plexus PET studies; six of these were either normal or showed no clear evidence of recurrent disease, while three CTs demonstrated clear brachial plexus involvement. Of two of the four patients with normal PET studies, one has had complete resolution of symptoms untreated while the other was found to have cervical disc herniation on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The remaining two patients almost certainly had radiation-induced plexopathy and had normal CT, MRI and PET study. These data suggest that 18FDG-PET scanning is a useful tool in evaluation of patients with suspected metastatic plexopathy, particularly if other imaging studies are normal. It may also be useful in distinguishing between radiation-induced and metastatic plexopathy. (+info)
Marimastat in recurrent colorectal cancer: exploratory evaluation of biological activity by measurement of carcinoembryonic antigen.
Marimastat is a specific inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases that has been shown to be effective in cancer models. A pilot, escalating-dose study of oral marimastat was performed in patients with recurrent colorectal cancer, in whom evaluation of serological response was made by measurement of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels. The study assessed the safety and tolerability of 4 weeks administration of marimastat, and determined a dose range producing detectable serological effects. Patients were recruited with a serum CEA level greater than 5 ng ml(-1), and rising by more than 25% over a 4-week screening period. Patients were treated for 28 days and entered into a continuation protocol if a serological response or clinical benefit was observed. Pharmacokinetic and safety data determined that groups of patients were recruited sequentially at 25 mg and 50 mg twice daily, and, thereafter, 10 mg twice daily, 10 mg once daily, 5 mg once daily and 20 mg once daily. A biological effect (BE) was defined as a CEA value on day 28 no greater than on day 0; a partial biological effect (PBE) was defined as a rise in CEA over the 28-day treatment period of less than 25%. Of 70 patients recruited, 63 completed the 28-day treatment period, and 55 were eligible for cancer antigen analysis. Examination of the dose-effect relationships provides evidence for a causal relationship between marimastat and biological effects: the proportion of patients with BE or PBE was higher with twice daily dosing (16 out of 25, 64%) than with once daily dosing (11 out of 30, 37%) (P = 0.043, chi2 test). Furthermore, the median rates of rise of CEA fell markedly during treatment compared with the screening period for patients receiving twice daily marimastat (P<0.0001), but not for patients receiving marimastat once daily (P = 0.25). Musculoskeletal adverse events emerged as the principal drug-related toxicity of marimastat, occurring in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. It was concluded that marimastat was associated with dose-dependent biological effects in cancer patients. The occurrence of musculoskeletal side-effects define 25 mg twice daily as the upper limit of the dose range for continuous use in further studies. Therefore, a dose range of 20 mg once daily to 25 mg twice daily seems appropriate for further studies, which should aim to demonstrate the efficacy of the drug in terms of conventional clinical end points and describe the long-term tolerability of this novel agent. (+info)
Reactions to medical abortion among providers of surgical abortion: an early snapshot.(7/12809)
X-chromosome inactivation patterns do not implicate asymmetric splitting of the inner cell mass in the aetiology of twin-twin transfusion syndrome.
The aetiology of twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is unclear. We investigated the hypothesis that monochorionic (MC) pregnancies with TTTS are associated with differences in the timing and symmetry of twinning compared to MC twin pregnancies without TTTS. DNA was extracted from the umbilical cord vessels of 26 female MC twins, 14 with and 12 without TTTS on serial antenatal ultrasound. X-inactivation patterns were determined by DNA digestion with Hhal and Hpall followed by polymerase chain reaction for a polymorphic trinucleotide repeat in the androgen receptor gene. Products were quantified by densitometry and results compared to those in peripheral blood samples of adult female controls. The median degree of non-random inactivation was similar in MC twins with TTTS, in MC twins without TTTS, and in adult controls. The percentage of individuals with skewed (> or =30/70%) inactivation patterns was no different in MC twins with TTTS compared to those without TTTS, and was similar to adult controls using either enzyme technique. In conclusion we found no difference in the degree or frequency of non-random X-inactivation patterns in TTTS. X-inactivation patterns do not appear to be a useful tool for studying the symmetry of inner cell mass splitting in monochorionic twins. (+info)