Socio-economics May Lead to Premature Cellular Aging, OSU Research Finds

Pregnant women who had low socioeconomic status during childhood and who have poor family social support appear to prematurely age on a cellular level, potentially raising the risk for complications, a new study has found.

Researchers at The Ohio State University examined blood from pregnant women to evaluate the length of telomeres – structures at the end of chromosomes that are used by scientists as a measure of biological (as opposed to chronological) age. Shorter telomeres mean an older cellular age.

The researchers also asked the moms-to-be about stressors, including low socioeconomic status and trauma during their childhood and current social support.

They found that women who reported low socioeconomic status as kids and who struggled with family support as adults were biologically older, as indicated by shorter telomeres.

This study didn’t examine birth outcomes, but prompted the researchers to wonder if this rapid biological aging could put a woman at greater risk of premature delivery, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia and other problems.

The study included a racially diverse group of 81 pregnant women who were 25 years old on average. They were evaluated during each trimester of pregnancy and again about two months after delivery. Measures of trauma and low socioeconomic status during childhood, along with the measure of current social support, came from questionnaires the women filled out.

Family social support – but not support from partners or friends – emerged as a strong predictor of telomere length, as did low socioeconomic status during childhood.

Advanced maternal age is defined by doctors as 35 or older. It is well-understood that older mothers are at higher risk of having babies with medical and developmental challenges, and it is possible that this applies to moms with advanced cellular age as well.

Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes that shorten as cells replicate – part of the natural aging process. Mitchell compared them to the plastic covering on the end of a shoelace.

The good news: Telomeres can also lengthen, lowering biological age.

For now, telomere assessment is strictly used for research purposes and not something that would translate into clinical practice.
But it’s possible that the knowledge gained by research into cellular aging could prompt useful interventions in obstetrics practices – including greater focus on moms’ psychological well-being and support systems.

The National Institutes of Health and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences supported the study.

OSU Researchers get to see electrons leave atoms for first time

Researchers have glimpsed, momentarily, an electron’s-eye view of the world.

They have succeeded for the first time in tracking an electron leaving the vicinity of an atom as the atom absorbs light. In a way akin to taking “snapshots” of the process, they were able to follow how each electron’s unique momentum changed over the incredibly short span of time it took to escape its host atom and become a free electron.

In the journal Nature Physics, the researchers write that following electrons in such fine detail constitutes a first step toward controlling electrons’ behavior inside matter—and thus the first step down a long and complicated road that could eventually lead to the ability to create new states of matter at will.

The technique the researchers used is called RABBITT, or Reconstruction of Attosecond Beating By Interfering Two-photon Transitions, and it involves hitting the atoms in a gas with light to reveal quantum mechanical information. It’s been around for nearly 15 years, and has become a standard procedure for studying processes that happen on very short timescales.

One immediate consequence is that researchers can now classify the quantum mechanical behavior of electrons from different atoms.

OSU Find Positive Correlation Between Exercise and Lupus Symptom Relief

OSU researchers compared mice against a related pilot study in humans and its showing how regular activity and stress reduction could lead to better health in the long run for lupus sufferers.

In the mouse model of lupus, researchers from found that moderate exercise significantly decreased inflammatory damage to the kidneys. While 88 percent of non-exercised mice had severe damage, only 45 percent of the treadmill-exercised animals did.

Researchers believe several biomarkers known to drive inflammation plummeted in the exercise group. Previous studies have supported the idea that physical activity is good for lupus patients, but hard scientific evidence explaining why has been scarce.

Researchers hope to change that through their work and help lupus sufferers relieve some of their pain through this new information on the benefits of exercise and lupus related inflammation.

Want to “rebound” from failure?

If you want to “rebound” from failure, focus on your emotions, not your failure, says new OSU study.

Researchers found that people who just thought about a failure tended to make excuses for why they were unsuccessful and didn’t try harder when faced with a similar situation. In contrast, people who focused on their emotions following a failure put forth more effort when they tried again.

While thinking about how to improve from past mistakes might help – this study didn’t examine that – the researchers found that people who reflect on a failure do not tend to focus on ways to avoid a similar mistake. When asked to think about their mistakes, most people focus on protecting their ego. They think about how the failure wasn’t their fault, or how it wasn’t that big of a deal, anyway.

Researchers stated that in most real-life situations, people probably have both cognitive and emotional responses to their failures. But the important thing to remember is not to avoid the emotional pain of failing, but to use that pain to fuel improvement.

OSU Researchers Study How Russian Government Rallies Pro-Censorship Sentiment Among Citizens

Researchers analyzing a survey of Russian citizens found that those who relied more on Russian national television news perceived the internet as a greater threat to their country than did others. This in turn led to increased support for online political censorship. These viewers were more likely to agree that the internet was used by foreign countries against Russia and that it was a threat to political stability within the country. Not surprisingly, those who saw the internet as a threat were also more likely to support online censorship.

Approval of the government of President Vladimir Putin amplified the impact of those threat perceptions on support for censorship, according to the study. Support for Vladimir Putin significantly strengthened the relationship between seeing the internet as a risk and supporting online censorship, the study found.

Researchers noted that the Russian regime uses its official news outlets, particularly television, to spread fear about anti-government sites. The regime often uses graphic metaphors to sensationalize the risk of some internet content, according to the researchers.

For example, the government has compared some websites it opposes to suicide bombers and tells citizens its response would be to use internet control and censorship to create a “bulletproof vest for the Russian society” said the researchers.

Researchers noted while it isn’t difficult to circumvent government censorship methods in a technical regard, but it can be very difficult to get around a well established mind-set that “censorship is good.”