Penn State Intercom......May
inflammatory response similar
By Barbara Hale
In a small study conducted at the University, researchers have shown, for the first time, that heavy or moderate smokers who stop smoking have symptoms similar to those experienced by patients undergoing an inflammatory response -- suggesting that anti-inflammatory medication might ease some nicotine withdrawal woes.
assistant professor in the School of Nursing and the Intercollege Physiology
Program, said, "Our research shows that nicotine withdrawal is a significant
physical as well as psychological stressor that impacts multiple systems
of the body, including the immune system. If we can relieve some negative
symptoms -- including depression -- by reducing the inflammatory response,
we may be able to increase the likelihood that heavy or moderate smokers
can successfully quit."
study was conducted by Corwin and Laura Klein, assistant professor of
biobehavioral health. Klein explained that smokers often fail multiple
attempts to quit, in part, because of the unpleasant symptoms that accompany
nicotine withdrawal, including depression, fatigue, muscle aches and appetite
changes. Similar unpleasant symptoms accompany acute and chronic illness
and these symptoms are known to result from elevated levels of cytokines,
which are produced by white blood cells in response to inflammation. The
researchers decided to see if cytokines could be linked to the same symptoms
in smokers who stop smoking.
from 20 heavy or moderate smokers, ages 18 to 35, were taken while they
were smoking freely and after they had stopped smoking for 24 hours. Blood
samples were also taken from 22 non-smokers for comparison. The same groups
of smokers and non-smokers also completed questionnaires to gauge their
fatigue, depression, muscle aches and appetite. Analysis of the symptom
self-reports showed that depression, muscle aches and appetite all increased
in smokers during nicotine withdrawal.
Although fatigue did not increase significantly with nicotine withdrawal,
smokers' fatigue scores were already higher at the start of the study
when compared to non-smokers. Analysis of the blood samples showed that
the levels of two cytokines, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1b) and interleukin-6
(IL-6), along with fatigue, in smokers predicted depression on nicotine
withdrawal. Changes in the production of IL-6 were associated with muscle
aches and increased appetite when smoking was stopped. There were no differences
in men's and women's responses.
Corwin said, "The results support the hypothesis that smokers who stop smoking may experience depression, fatigue, muscle aches and appetite changes for similar biochemical reasons that individuals who have acute or chronic disease do. The same therapies -- anti-inflammatory medications -- may therefore help alleviate these symptoms."
Further studies are needed to find out which particular anti-inflammatory drugs or specific pro-inflammatory blocking agents might best reduce the unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and support smokers while they quit. Corwin and Klein are planning such studies.
Barbara Hale can be reached
to end epileptic seizures
deemed early success
Preston Earnest suffered with epileptic seizures almost every day of his 1212 years. As an infant, a hemorrhage in a part of the brain called the thalamus caused chronic seizures and weakness in the left side of his body. Even the best medications available and a procedure called vagal nerve stimulation did not put an end to the seizures.
Recently, Earnest finally found relief. He underwent a rare procedure at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center that removed more than half of the right hemisphere of his brain. Called a functional hemispherectomy, the operation performed by neurosurgeon Paul M. Kanev and a team of medical staff, so far, has left Earnest seizure-free.
This is the first time a functional hemispherectomy was performed at the medical center.
"We have the only pediatric epilepsy surgical program in Central Pennsylvania and we're one of only a few medical centers in the state that offers aggressive surgical options like the hemispherectomy to help those with epilepsy," Kanev said.
on seed packages
With the gardening season in full swing, it's time to decide what to plant in the garden this year.
Planting seeds offers gardeners a low-cost opportunity to stick with favorite plants and try out new ones. When considering seeds, a horticulture expert in the College of Agricultural Sciences advises that gardeners should ponder information found on the package. Planning with seed packages, according to Elsa Sánchez, assistant professor of horticultural systems management, makes a garden better.
A picture of the plant in flower or harvested fruit or vegetable typically
is found on the front of the seed package. The picture offers useful information
like flower type and color and what to expect when harvesting a fruit
or vegetable. Remember that the picture is usually of the flower, fruit
or vegetable at its best, so use it only as a guide.
Often it is difficult to determine the form of a plant based on the picture.
Seed packages usually provide a written description of the plant including
the plant cultivar, plant height, days to harvest or bloom and habits,
such as "climbing, upright," etc.
Seed packages often suggest uses for the plant. Some examples are for
containers, beds, winter houseplants, trellises, etc. The number of seeds
or weight of the seed also is found on the package.
The package will have the year for which the seeds were packaged. For
example, "Packed For Season 2002." This information is important because
as seeds age they loose viability. If seeds have a germination rate of
80 percent in 2002, the rate can be expected to be lower in 2003; for
example, 50 percent.
The package should have directions on when to plant the seeds, depending
on where it will be planted in the United States. The directions should
include planting depth, plant spacing and plant exposure requirements
(full or partial sun or shade). This section also will advise whether
the seeds should be started indoors prior to planting outdoors. The directions
often also will contain basic directions for the care of the plant.
"It is a good
idea to keep the seed package after planting the seeds as a reference
for future care, harvesting and planting," Sánchez said. "The diversity
of seeds is exciting because it offers gardeners virtually limitless planting
combinations of flowers, fruits and vegetables to grow and enjoy."