Computer-delivered interventions have the potential to improve access to quality addiction treatment care. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Therapeutic Education System (TES), an Internet-delivered behavioral intervention that includes motivational incentives, as a clinician-extender in the treatment of substance use disorders.
This study examines sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, as a function of primary substance of abuse, among clients approached, screened, and assessed for eligibility in a 10-site effectiveness trial of a Web-based psychosocial intervention for substance use disorders. Consistent with the design of effectiveness trials, eligibility criteria were broad and exclusion criteria minimal; thus, the recruited sample may be viewed as relatively representative of patients seeking treatment throughout the United States.
Damaraland mole-rats (Fukomys damarensis) are among a small number of eusocial mammals. Eusociality is a social system where only a few individuals within a colony engage in direct reproduction, while remaining subordinate members are non-breeders and support reproductive efforts of breeding individuals. Inbreeding avoidance precludes mating between subordinate siblings and between offspring and parents. Interestingly, non-breeders readily attempt to mate with unrelated opposite-sex individuals. This is unusual since the non-breeding females do not attain puberty while in their natal colony. Based on this finding, the present study investigated the role of the gonads in the regulation of mating behaviors in this species and identified the mechanism of inbreeding avoidance. Gonadal-intact and gonadectomized non-breeders from different colonies were removed from their colonies and tested for the expression of sexual behavior. Results indicated that gonadal status had only minor effects on the expression of sexual behavior in either males or females. In a second experiment, sexual behaviors were absent between opposite-sex siblings so long as they had frequent contact with each other; however, following 5weeks of separation, sexual behavior between these siblings was robustly expressed. Thus, Damaraland mole-rats avoid establishing mating relationships with familiar individuals but will readily mate with unfamiliar individuals of the opposite sex, with genetic relatedness apparently playing little role. The initiation of sexual behavior in Damaraland mole-rats does not require the presence of the gonads, but does require that the members of the pair have not been in contact with one another for at least several weeks.
Naked mole-rats are highly social rodents that live in large groups and exhibit a strict reproductive and social hierarchy. Only a few animals in each colony breed; the remainder are non-reproductive and are socially subordinate to breeders. We have examined androgen receptor immunoreactive (AR+) cells in brain regions comprising the recently described social decision-making network in subordinate and breeder naked mole-rats of both sexes. We find that subordinates have a significantly higher percentage of AR+ cells in all brain regions expressing this protein. By contrast, there were no significant effects of sex and no sex-by-status interactions on the percentage of AR+ cells. Taken together with previous findings, the present data complete a systematic assessment of the distribution of AR protein in the social decision-making network of the eusocial mammalian brain and demonstrate a significant role for social status in the regulation of this protein throughout many nodes of this network.
In naked mole-rat (NMR) colonies, breeding is monopolized by the queen and her consorts. Subordinates experience gonadal development if separated from the queen. To elucidate the neuroendocrine factors underlying reproductive suppression/development in NMRs, we quantified plasma gonadal steroids and GnRH-1- and kisspeptin-immunoreactive (ir) neurons in subordinate adults and in those allowed to develop into breeders, with or without subsequent gonadectomy. In males and females, respectively, plasma testosterone and progesterone are higher in breeders than in subordinates. No such distinction occurs for plasma estradiol; its presence after gonadectomy and its positive correlation with adrenal estradiol suggest an adrenal source. Numbers of GnRH-1-ir cell bodies do not differ between gonad-intact breeders and subordinates within or between the sexes. As in phylogenetically related guinea pigs, kisspeptin-ir processes pervade the internal and external zones of the median eminence. Their distribution is consistent with actions on GnRH-1 neurons at perikaryal and/or terminal levels. In previously investigated species, numbers of kisspeptin-ir cell bodies vary from substantial to negligible according to sex and/or reproductive state. NMRs are exceptional: irrespective of sex, reproductive state, or presence of gonads, substantial numbers of kisspeptin-ir cell bodies are detected in the rostral periventricular region of the third ventricle (RP3V) and in the anterior periventricular (PVa), arcuate, and dorsomedial hypothalamic nuclei. Nevertheless, the greater number in the RP3V/PVa of female breeders compared with female subordinates or male breeders suggests that emergence from a hypogonadotrophic state in females may involve kisspeptin-related mechanisms similar to those underlying puberty or seasonal breeding in other species.
Computer-assisted interventions hold the promise of minimizing two problems that are ubiquitous in substance abuse treatment: the lack of ready access to treatment and the challenges to providing empirically-supported treatments. Reviews of research on computer-assisted treatments for mental health and substance abuse report promising findings, but study quality and methodological limitations remain an issue. In addition, relatively few computer-assisted treatments have been tested among illicit substance users. This manuscript describes the methodological considerations of a multi-site effectiveness trial conducted within the National Institute on Drug Abuses (NIDAs) National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN). The study is evaluating a web-based version of the Community Reinforcement Approach, in addition to prize-based contingency management, among 500 participants enrolled in 10 outpatient substance abuse treatment programs. Several potential effectiveness trial designs were considered and the rationale for the choice of design in this study is described. The study uses a randomized controlled design (with independent treatment arm allocation), intention-to-treat primary outcome analysis, biological markers for the primary outcome of abstinence, long-term follow-up assessments, precise measurement of intervention dose, and a cost-effectiveness analysis. Input from community providers during protocol development highlighted potential concerns and helped to address issues of practicality and feasibility. Collaboration between providers and investigators supports the utility of infrastructures that enhance research partnerships to facilitate effectiveness trials and dissemination of promising, technologically innovative treatments. Outcomes from this study will further the empirical knowledge base on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of computer-assisted treatment in clinical treatment settings.
We previously reported that in a eusocial rodent, the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), traditional neural sex differences were absent; instead, neural dimorphisms were associated with breeding status. Here we examined the same neural regions previously studied in naked mole-rats in a second eusocial species, the Damaraland mole-rat (Fukomys damarensis). Damaraland mole-rats live in social groups with breeding restricted to a small number of animals. However, colony sizes are much smaller in Damaraland mole-rats than in naked mole-rats and there is consequently less reproductive skew. In this sense, Damaraland mole-rats may be considered intermediate in social organization between naked mole-rats and more traditional laboratory rodents. We report that, as in naked mole-rats, breeding Damaraland mole-rats have larger volumes of the principal nucleus of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus than do subordinates, with no effect of sex on these measures. Thus, these structures may play special roles in breeders of eusocial species. However, in contrast to what was seen in naked mole-rats, we also found sex differences in Damaraland mole-rats: volume of the medial amygdala and motoneuron number in Onufs nucleus were both greater in males than in females, with no significant effect of breeding status. Thus, both sex and breeding status influence neural morphology in Damaraland mole-rats. These findings are in accord with the observed sex differences in body weight and genitalia in Damaraland but not naked mole-rats. We hypothesize that the increased sexual dimorphism in Damaraland mole-rats relative to naked mole-rats is related to reduced reproductive skew.
Naked mole-rats are eusocial rodents that live in large social groups with a strict reproductive hierarchy. In each colony only a few individuals breed; all others are non-reproductive subordinates. We previously showed that breeders have increased volume of several brain regions linked to reproduction: the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN), the principal nucleus of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTp), and the medial amygdala (MeA). Breeders also have more large motoneurons in Onufs nucleus (ON) in the spinal cord, a cell group innervating perineal muscles that attach to the genitalia. Here, we sought to determine triggers for the neural changes seen in breeders. Specifically, we compared four groups of animals: subordinates, paired animals that did not reproduce, gonadally intact breeders, and gonadectomized breeders. We find that pairing alone is sufficient to cause breeder-like changes in volume of the PVN and cell size distribution in ON. In contrast, increases in BSTp volume were seen only in animals that actually reproduced. Those changes that were seen in successful breeders appear to be independent of gonadal steroids because long-term gonadectomy did not reverse the breeder-like neural changes in the PVN, BSTp or ON, although a trend for gonadectomized animals having larger MeA volumes was detected. Thus, neural changes associated with breeding status in naked mole-rats may be triggered by different aspects of the social and reproductive environment; once changes occur they are largely independent of gonadal hormones and may be permanent.
Although B cells are implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus, the role of B cell depletion (BCD) as a treatment is controversial, given the variable benefit in human disease. This study was undertaken to test the effects of BCD therapy in a murine lupus model to better understand the mechanisms, heterogeneity, and effects on disease outcomes.
African mole-rats (Bathyergidae, Rodentia) exhibit a wide range of social structures, from solitary to eusocial. We previously found a lack of sex differences in the external genitalia and morphology of the perineal muscles associated with the phallus in the eusocial naked mole-rat. This was quite surprising, as the external genitalia and perineal muscles are sexually dimorphic in all other mammals examined. We hypothesized that the lack of sex differences in naked mole-rats might be related to their unusual social structure.
Sexual differentiation of the mammalian nervous system has been studied intensively for over 25 years. Most of what we know, however, comes from work on relatively non-social species in which direct reproduction (i.e., production of offspring) is virtually the only route to reproductive success. In social species, an individuals inclusive fitness may include contributions to the gene pool that are achieved by supporting the reproductive efforts of close relatives; this feature is most evident in eusocial organisms. Here, we review what is known about neuroendocrine mechanisms, sexual differentiation, and effects of social status on the brain and spinal cord in two eusocial mammals: the naked mole-rat and Damaraland mole-rat. These small rodents exhibit the most rigidly organized reproductive hierarchy among mammals, with reproduction suppressed in a majority of individuals. Our findings suggest that eusociality may be associated with a relative lack of sex differences and a reduced influence of gonadal hormones on some functions to which these hormones are usually tightly linked. We also identify neural changes accompanying a change in social and reproductive status, and discuss the implications of our findings for understanding the evolution of sex differences and the neuroendocrinology of reproductive suppression.
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