Schlagwort-Archive: farming

Everybody knows about confounder but what is a collider?

Here is the best explanation of a collider written Julia Rohrer at www.the100.ci

Whenever X1 (conscientiousness) and X2 (intelligence) both cause Y (college attendance) in some manner, conditioning on Y will bias the relationship between X1 and X2 and potentially introduce a spurious association (or hide an existing link between X1 and X2, or exaggerate an existing link, or reverse the direction of the association…)

The cartoon makes it even clearer – confounder act on exposure and outcome, while collider condition on exposure and outcome.

https://catalogofbias.org/biases/confounding/

Alte Freunde, neue Feinde – Gegendarstellung

O-Ton: “In dieser ersten Studie, die wir gemacht hatten, hatten wir einen Stadt-Land Vergleich. Wir haben München verglichen und die Umgebung. Und wir haben gesehen, dass, äm, in dieser allerersten Studie, das stärkste Signal war, dass wenn einer mit Holz und Kohle heizt, aber nicht im Sinn eines Risikos, sondern im Sinn eines Schutzes. Und das haben wir nicht verstanden.”
Sprecher: “Schliesslich erwähnte ein Schularzt beiläufig, dass er noch nie ein Bauernkind mit Asthma gesehen habe und brachte sie damit auf die richtige Spur.”

Gegendarstellung

Es ist nicht die erste Studie die ich gemacht habe und es ist auch nicht die erste Studie von Frau von Mutius. Wenn hier dennoch die Asthma- und Allergiestudie 1989 gemeint ist, dann halte ich dazu fest

  1. Bei der Schuluntersuchung fiel uns als Team (Sabine Braun, Annette Fuger und mir) auf, dass es in den kleinen ländlichen Orten im Ostallgäu mit viel Bauernhöfen nur wenig positive Prickteste in den Schulen gab.
  2. Frau von Mutius war nur am Rand mit der Studie befasst. Organisation, Durchführung und Auswertung lag bei uns beziehungsweise den Kollegen am damaligen gsf Forschungszentrum (Peter Reitmeir, Andrea Wulff u.a.) während Frau von Mutius mit klinischer Tätigkeit, Facharzt Weiterbildung, Organisation der Studie in München und einer Dissertation über rheumatische Erkrankungen ausgelastet war.
  3. Der Zusammenhang mit der Heizung beruhte nicht auf einem Stadt-Land Vergleich, sondern war nur in Oberbayern zu sehen.
  4. Und natürlich haben wir auch erklärt, dass der (statistische Zusammenhang) mit der Heizung nur in den Orten auftrat, wo sehr viel Landwirtschaft war.
  5. Von einem Schutz zu reden ist übertrieben – es war lediglich eine negative Assoziation.
  6. Ich habe nie gesagt, dass ich noch kein Bauernkind mit Asthma und Allergien gesehen habe. Natürlich haben auch Kinder auf Bauernhöfen Asthma und Allergien.
  7. Mehr oder weniger zeitgleich zu unserer Beobachtung im Dezember 1989 in Bayern wurde die Beobachtung der Bauernhöfe auch aus der Schweiz berichtet (Gassen-Bachmann. Allergie und Umwelt. Allergologie 1989; 12:492-502).
  8. 30 Jahre später ist der Bauernhof Effekt nicht verstanden, auch wenn bisher eine Vielzahl von Erklärungen verbreitet wurden.
  9. Alternative Forschungsansätze (Healthy Worker Effect, Vitamin D Supplementierung, Wurmerkrankungen, etc.) wurden bisher komplett ignoriert und nur auf einen Ansatz (“Hygiene-Hypothese”) fokussiert-
  10. Die wahrscheinlichste Erklärung ist ein einfacher Selektionsbias [1, 2]

The bullshit asymmetry principle

Really, did not know that, but agree immediately to the fact, that the amount of energy required to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

The kinds of people who bullshit are more likely to be the kinds of people who misrepresent evidence, avoid correcting their errors, and intimidate dissenters, so at some point the people who could shoot down the bullshit might decide it’s not worth the trouble: Why bother fight bullshit if the bullshitters are going to turn around and personally attack you? From this standpoint, once bullshit becomes “too big to fail,” it can stay around forever.

The bullshit asymmetry principle

Can criticial thinking been teached?

Yes, it can.

Already in 2017 there was a Lancet paper with the super-long title “Effects of the Informed Health Choices primary school intervention on the ability of children in Uganda to assess the reliability of claims about treatment effects: a cluster-randomised controlled trial”. The paper is extensively discussed at vox.com

Andy Oxman is obsessed with the study of bullshit health claims and how to prevent them from spreading.
For decades, he’s been trying to find ways to get adults to think critically about the latest diet fads, vaccine rumors, or “miracle cures.” But he realized these efforts are often in vain: Adults can be stubborn old dogs — resistant to learning new things and changing their minds.

So not only Germany but also Uganda has its own bullshit hypothesis.

Die Widerlegung der Farming Hypothese

Durch eine nachträgliche Korrektur (verschwiegene Interessenskonflikte) wurde eine frühere Farming Studie nun wieder an die Oberfläche gespült.

Die Ergebnisse der Studie sind eigentlich eindeutig und widerlegen die Bauernhof-Hypothese.

Tiere auf der Farm sind in den wohlhabenden Regionen nicht assoziiert, in weniger industrialisierten Regionen ein Risiko,

Besonders dubios wird die Diskussion des Artikel, sobald er auf Endotoxin zu sprechen kommt. Natürlich induziert Endotoxin eine entzündliche Reaktion, aber ist es nicht ein epidemiologischer Mythos, dass es eine protektive Endotoxinwirkung gibt?

Brunekreef (der sonst nie zu dem Thema gearbeitet hat, dem Stil nach auch die Diskussion nicht geschrieben hat) bevorzugt hier als Erklärung nun die übliche Endotoxin Variante, denn nur diese passt zu den Daten

This suggests that increased endotoxin exposure associated with early life contact with farm animals … could possibly be responsible for the [positive] associations seen in our study.

Damit stellt sich abschliessend die Frage, wie oft denn diese Studie (die überhaupt nicht in das Framing der Bauernhof Hypothese passt) wohl zitiert wurde? Scholar zeigt nur 15 Zitate, davon nur ein einziges Zitat durch von Mutius, obwohl es nun doch die grösste epidemiologische Studie zu dem Thema ist. Klarer Spin!

Dieses eine Zitat (Martikainen 2015) kam wohl auch nur durch ein Versehen zustande, denn es zitiert das Brunekreef Paper nicht für seine Hauptaussage, dass die Farming Hypothese widerlegt ist, sondern für den Anstieg der Allergien weltweit…

 

Update 11.12.2019

Ich habe an das “Journal of Clinical Epidemiology” geschrieben ob sie nicht auch finden, dass die Diskussion des Artikels völlig verzerrt ist. Das ist die Antwort

I am afraid that we found that your submission was not suitable for publication in the International Journal of Epidemiology. This decision was based on the editors’ evaluation of the merits of your manuscript compared with those of the many others we receive.
Stephen Leeder
Editor-in-Chief
International Journal of Epidemiology

Schutz vor Allergien auf dem Bauernhof?

Keine Frage, die Lebensbedingungen auf Bauernhöfen sind anders. Mehr Tiere, mehr Dreck, mehr frische Luft, vieles ist anders als in der Großstadt. Dass es hier auch weniger Allergien gibt, wird wohl an den Bedingungen liegen, die bereits an einer der ersten Studien vor 30 Jahren zu sehen waren.

Clin Exp Allergy. 1999 Jan;29(1):28-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(01)06252-3 Hier nicht relevante Daten ausgegraut

Auch die Eltern hatten schon weniger Allergien. Der “protektive” Effekt kann also einfach dadurch erklärt werden, dass mit weniger Eltern als “Risikofaktor” auch weniger Kinder Allergien haben. Und warum die Eltern wohl weniger Allergien haben? Nun ja, mit Heuschnupfen wird man nicht gern im Heu arbeiten wollen. Auch das zeigen Studien ziemlich eindeutig.

Wenn man genau hinschaut, dann haben alle Bauernhofstudien immer wieder dieselbe Argumentationsstruktur: weil die Bedingung X dort so ist, dann kann die Folge Y auch auf die Bedingung X zurückgeführt werden. Allerdings machen immer mehr Beschreibungen von X die Story nicht glaubwürdiger.  Keine der jemals beschriebenen Bedingungen X, ist aus der Bauernhofsituation auf eine allgemeine Situation übertragbar gewesen, von einem einzigen verunglückten Versuch abgesehen.

Hier die Story mal erläutert an einem simulierten Datensatz – eine normal verteilte Allergiehäufigkeit und normal verteilte Endotoxinwerten. Zwischen beiden Variablen gibt es keine Korrelation.

Ausgangssituation: Jedes 10. Kind hat eine Allergie. Es gibt keine Korrelation zwischen Allergiehäufigkeit und Endotoxin.
Wir beginnen nun eine Studie im ländlichen Raum (dunkelgrün) und sind dabei vor allem an den Bauernhöfen interessiert (hellgrün), also nur der Region mit hoher Endotoxinbelastung.
Hier läuft aber schon seit längerem eine Wanderungsbewegung. Wer Heuschnupfen hat, wird nicht Heu machen können..
Somit fallen in dem oberen rechten Quadranten Allergiker weg und verteilen sich im dunkelgrünen oder grauen Bereich. Müssen nicht viele sein, 30% weniger reichen schon.
Wenn wir nun erneut eine Regressionsgleichung aufstellen, so gibt es eine negative Assoziation im ländlichen Bereich (kurze Linie) während in der Bevölkerung insgesamt die Verschiebung nicht besonders in das Gewicht fällt  (lange Linie).

Das ist nun genau das Ergebnis der Bauernhofstudien.

 

Natürlich kann ein hoher Endotoxin Spiegel auf den Bauernhöfen eine bestimmte Wirkung haben –  zumindest bei einigen Menschen und bei einigen Mäusen – aber mehr ist nach aktuellem Kenntnisstand sehr unwahrscheinlich.

Da die Lebensbedingungen auf dem Bauernhof angeblich protektiv sind, müsste es eigentlich Kinder geben, die eine Allergie haben müssten (zB mit doppelter Familienanamnese) aber nun keine Allergien bekommen hat. Solche Kinder gib es aber nicht, weil auch schon die Eltern keine Allergien hatten.

What is wrong with the 2011 NEJM paper?

N Engl J Med 2011;364:701-9 is another paper with 1000+ citations  that had a lasting impression on some but not all people.

First, I can’t remember of any study with such an enormous selection bias  where >94% of individuals have been lost.

Second, we should not forget that farm is not protective per se – farmers may just avoid a known allergy risk factor.  PARSIFAL participants in this study included Steiner schools — anthroposophic medicine mostly avoids vitamin D (ref). This is of course a major issue for any cross-sectional study that doesn’t take into account the temporality of events.

Third, in PARSIFAL dust from children’s mattresses were collected by vacuuming — it is not very likely that many helminthic eggs were transported  from stable to bedroom. In GABRIELA, only airborne dust samples  were collected which again may miss helminth eggs although being certainly present in stable dust.

Fourth, more  microbial exposure and more fungal taxa on farms are a trivial finding.

The inverse associations of the diversity scores with asthma were not confounded by status with respect to living on a farm because adjustment did not change the respective point estimates for asthma (Table 2), although the associations became nonsignificant.

Small sample size, borderline p-values even after a long fishing expedition?

What do these strange “probability” plots  really show – the probability of asthma or the probability to live on a farm?

N Engl J Med 2011;364:701-9 Figure 3 Does it refute any general effect of diversity?

The plots are misleading if adjustment for farm living does not change the parameter estimates for bacterial/fungal diversity.

Sixth – even many years later, the main findings of this study have not been independently replicated. There is not any single study that shows listeriosis (Listeria) or diphtheria (Corynebacterium)  to be protective.

Allergy protection on farms – why also studies in mice could have failed

There are  many immunological differences in humans and mice (follow my link) that are never discussed — not even in Science 2015;349/6252:1106.

Ignoring the long-standing paradox that endotoxin is also acting as a natural adjuvant to atopic inflammation, the credibility of the Science paper is further reduced.

IMHO it is also a  strange experimental condition to have all animals on a standard vitamin D diet – a known co-sensitizers – and looking then for A20 which is co-regulated by vitamin D ??

And here is the last argument – more than 90% of studies in mice fail to translate into humans.

Does a healthy worker effect explain the “allergy protection” at Bavarian farms?

Unfortunately most studies in the farming environment did not report the prevalence of parental history nor did they report the effect size of parental risk in the farming population. This is, however, a critical issue as the so called healthy worker effect (HEW) may be a rather trivial explanation of the results.

Specifically, it is a sampling bias: the kind of subjects that voluntarily enroll in a clinical trial and actually follow the experimental regimen are not representative of the general population. They can be expected, on average, to be healthier as they are concerned for their health [or as ill people already dropped out]

At least Braun-Fahrländer 1999 reported that allergic parents were seen much less at farms: allergic rhinitis 12.7% versus 29.4% (P=0.001). A history of allergy at farms is no more a risk factor as it is otherwise in the general population. How that? Risk genes or risk behaviour (supplementation) has been eliminated.

Are there any studies in adults? I know of three studies (and one review Le Moual N 2008).

Leynaert 2001 showed only a slightly reduced prevalence of “allergy” (39.1% vs 41.5%, NS) while her table 4 is most interesting. The association started only after year 1960 which points towards misclassification as far as the analysis is not stratified by year of birth.

Remes 2002 showed a dose dependent effect decline between farming (36.2%) and controls (31.6%, P=0.075),

Perkin 2006 also found some significant lower prevalence in farmers 47.3% versus 57.7%, P<0.001.

A HWE is therefore likely.

There are six studies (Thelin 1994, Braback 2006, Chenard 2007, Thaon 2011, Elholm 2013 and Spierenburg 2015) that examined in detail a possible relationship of HWE, allergy and farming. Unfortunately the examination period in five of these studies is too short for any conclusion while Braback 2006 seems to be the only reliable study.

Source: Braback 2006

Also from this study, we can safely conclude, that there is a significant HWE.

Addendum 22 Nov 2019

It seems that I missed some papers on HWE and farming. For asthma it is important to discriminate atopic and non-atopic asthma.

Timm 2019: a hard to understand 3 generation study of unclear asthma  type. Point estimates of parental asthma on farm upbringing are not really a measure of HWE – shuffling exposure and outcome distorts temporality. Neither protection by farm nor HWE found but also selection bias (approx. 50% dropout) and non-differential bias for residency.

Eduard 2015: 1,964 farming students. Current asthma in farmers was 3.0% compared to 6.3% in farmers who had retired early. No HWE found at entry level but during farm work.

Farmers who had changed the type of production had an increased risk of current asthma (OR 9.8), compared with those who had not changed production, indicating a strong selection effect.

Vogelzang 1999: 400 pig farmers, X-sectional point estimates, not a  real HWE study, although HWE offered as explanation.

Health-based selection of nonasthmatics for pig farming, which tends to mask a work-related hazard for asthma, is offered as an explanation for these results.

Taken together – more data but not more knowledge.

Claim to fame of the hygiene hypothesis

The recent encyclopedia article about the hygiene hypothesis seems to be well written. At least on the first instance … in reality it is more a novel than a scientific review.

For many years already, the hygiene hypothesis has been called an outdated concept; various times it was revised and transformed, and finally it gave birth to novel hypotheses.

In other words, the hypothesis has been rejected for being wrong . Even many revisions did not change that. There seem to be only one proven fact – the obsession of some authors with hygiene and nouvel Rousseauism.

Anyway, the hygiene hypothesis has promoted radical rethinking of infections, microbiota, and coevolution of mankind and microbes.

There is nothing radical in backward thinking. We still carry tons of microbes, freezer and antibiotics only did some qualitative but not so much quantitative changes,

With the advent of novel high-throughput sequencing technologies the human microbiome, which is sometimes called the ‘forgotten organ,’ has attracted much attention and is currently being implemented in a wider concept of self-foreign relationship, which may even include recognition of the nonmicrobial nonself as a vital stimulus to a well-developing immune system.

  1. So the interest is technology and not science driven.
  2. The microbiome is not an organ.
  3. The hype is already over.
  4. The Self is not defined by any bacterium.
  5. Most bacteria are excreted and not vital stimulus.

Given the many molecule classes regulating immune functions across individuals such as short RNAs, the hygiene hypothesis may eventually come back as a surprising explanation of the phenomena evoked by crowding, day care, sibship size, orofecally transmitted diseases, and respiratory infections.

Why that?
A comeback of the hygiene hypothesis by short RNA?
The listed phenomena are not intrinsically related, but are occuring only at the same time scale.

Even the old birth order effect might be rediscovered as epigenetic programming someday. Admittedly, these notions are entirely hypothetical, but without hypotheses, proven or not, science hardly advances.

So if David Strachan’s birth order effect would be really caused by  epigenetic programming – why would that be related to hygiene at all?

Science is is not so much about proven or unproven but about reasonable and non reasonable hypotheses.

 

medRxiv

ArXiv is operational since 1991, bioRxiv since 2013 and since 2019 there is now also medrxiv. More details  at https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l2301

The main arguments in favour of sharing work in its preliminary form are, firstly, that science works faster if work is made available sooner after it is completed and, secondly, that articles are improved by feedback from a wider group of readers, alongside formal peer review by a few experts. Simple estimates suggest that halving the delay to sharing a research result can double the speed at which research progresses. Ambitious research funders are now embracing preprints and other measures that aim to accelerate the pace of research.

Although there was a mixed reception in the beginning, see Science back in 2017

MedArXiv will have a hard time attracting preprints if mainstream medical journal editors decide they won’t publish final versions of the papers. Currently, The BMJ and The Lancet are among the few medical journals that have explicitly said that posting a preprint doesn’t preclude publication; Nature and Science, which both occasionally publish medical studies, have the same policy. But at the JAMA Network, which publishes a dozen journals, the issue is hotly debated.

@medRxiv opened on June 6. So far they have only 304 followers on Twitter (and no allergy paper in the archive).

As the current “Allergy” editor and the publisher (John Wiley and Sons A/S)  agreed to preprints last week, I have submited now my first preprint paper. Therefore, there are now 305 followers and 1 allergy paper :-)

The endotoxin phantom – discrepancies in the NEJM 2002 farm paper

N Engl J Med 2002; 347:869-877 made a strong point that the farm effect is mediated by endotoxin but could show only a 1,7 fold higher endotoxin exposure at farms.

N Engl J Med 2002; 347:869-877 table 1 shows environmental exposure between farm and non-farming households

LPS therefore will not explain the negative farm association as endotoxin effects are so much similar between farming and non-farming environment. BTW why is only the result of the total sample given here and not just the farm result?

N Engl J Med 2011; 364:701-709 table 2 endotoxin effect is not stronger at farms – more some unspecific immunosuppressive effect?

So, what is the reason for the lower IL10 capacity in Figure 2D after LPS exposure – exhaustion, adaptation? And even more important: What is the reason for the lower allergy rate at farms?

If we now go back to table 1 there is a 5,0 fold Der p1 excess in farm – much higher than the 1,7 fold increase of endotoxin. As nearly all allergens have helminth homologues –  the question is what did the authors really measure? Da Costa Santiago 2015 has a nice table that could give an answer.

J Immunol. 2015 Jan 1;194(1):93-100 shows Der p1 homologs

Der p1 is a cysteine protease of 25kDa that has homologues for example in Loa loa. Unfortuneately Loa loa is not an explanation at Bavarian farms – as it is more common in tropical Africa. Cysteine proteases are nevertheless a big tool for helminths –  in Schistosoma japonicum a cathepsin B2 cysteine protease is considered the main penetration tool.

Usually cysteine proteases are not allergenic, but the excessive (and rather isolated) rise combined with a reduced Der  p1 sensitization in the children,  is definitely an unusual finding. The Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus habitat is cosmopolitan, house dust,  also influenced by altitude, but there is no known reasons for this excess in farms. Is the Der p1 value just a false positive and has it helminthic and not mite origin?

I am therefore blasting Der p1  sequence (P08176) against all known cow endoparasite genomes. Fasciola has a strong hit with CL6, a papain family cysteine protease with e+48.

Wormbase blastp results – e+ values are somewhat lower than my local blast result at the same locus

With identity values between 40% and 70% there could well be a confusion of mite Der p1 and  helminth (Fasciola?) CL6, which should be tested for cross-reactivity.

The story even gets more interesting when reading more about parasites

Helminth parasites have complicated life cycles … at the same time as skewing the immune system toward a Th2-driven response, they have a general suppressive effect on the host immune system that prevents their elimination and reduces immune-mediated tissue damage. It has been suggested that cytokines of the anti-inflammatory network, particularly IL-10 and transforming growth factor- (TGF-), that are produced in response to continual stimulation of the immune system by parasite antigens, are pivotal to regulating the damage they cause and that, coincidentally, these have a bystander protective affect against allergic reactions.

This is exactly what N Engl J Med 2002; 347:869-877 showed: increasingly exhausted IL10 capacity. May the x-axis label should be CL6 instead of LPS?

N Engl J Med 2002; 347:869-877 Figure 2. Smoothed Plots of the Log-Transformed Capacity of Peripheral-Blood Leukocytes (PBL) to Produce Interleukin-10 (Panel D) after Stimulation with Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) in Relation to the Log-Transformed Endotoxin-Load Values.

 

 

The Amish paradox in NEJM 2016 explained

A recent study in the NEJM found remarkable differences in the asthma prevalence between Amish and Hutterite populations. The lifestyle of both communities is similar but their farming practice is distinct as the Amish follow a more traditional style of outdoor grazing whereas the Hutterities use industrialized farming practices. Gene expression data in the Amish children have been interpreted as „intense exposure to microbes“ because protection of experimental asthma by Amish derived house dust was nearly abrogated in mice deficient for MyD88.

Any helminth exposure has been excluded due to low IgE and eosinophil counts in the children while I still think that this could be an explanation in particular as the attempt to show an effect of bacterial exposure was unsuccessful since the discovery of the farming effect.

One difference between conventional stable (Hutterites) and outdoor grazing (Amish) is the higher helminthic infection rate on pasture, mainly with Fasciola, Ostertagia, Eimeria, Cooperia, Dictyocaulus and Trichostrongylos species.

Infected cattle rarely demonstrate clinical disease, while it is known that Fasciola (as for example Schistosome) has numerous immunosuppressive functions in the host. IgE is not always raised as Fasciola can degrade human immunoglobulin or even induce eosinophil apoptosis.

Re-analysis of Gene Expression Network using string-db.org (String Consortium 2019). The gene expression network in Amish children {Stein et al., 2016, #73074} in the upper area has similarities with the network observed in sheep after Fasciola infection {Fu et al., 2017, #6751} module #1 and #3, in the lower plot.

FaRMI

I will add now a special collection of farming studies here as many of them are just candidates for the Ig nobel prize.

The most recent study introduces FaRMI, a “bacterial relative abundance farm home microbiota index”, probably introduced as the authors couldn’t find anything else. It reminds me very much to the polygenic risk score that rescues your study if you could not find the gene.

Asthma prevalence has increased in epidemic proportions with urbanization

Already the first sentence is wrong if we look at the following plot where asthma is clearly levelling off.

Urbanization happened in the late späten 19th century and not after 1950. Source of plot: The prevalence of asthma in children: a reversing trend ( ERJ 2005 )

 

Unfortunately, the difference between farm and non farm children is never explained in the Kirjavainen et al. paper. What is the average distance of a non farm house to a farm house? Are there any joint school or sports activities of children from farms and non farms (allergens travel in the classroom)? And why is there such a strong conclusion in the title?

Farm-like indoor microbiota in non-farm homes protects children from asthma development

A lower risk score is not equivalent to protection.

And did any reviewer ever look at the plots or tables?

I do not understand Figure 3c. It even makes only sense when I cross out the top labels. But even then it menas: GABRIELA does not show a significant replication.

 

What should these values tell us? 5 times p<0.05 in a grid of 6×11=66 tests? Quantile regression that has been “adjusted” by the data?

 

The FaRMI calculation is overly complicated. Probably the calculation can never be replicated by changing software, changing samples, unclear wording, suboptimal dimension reduction and data snooping.

Farm home microbiota-like community composition was modeled in LUKAS1 with logistic regression analysis (PROC LOGISTIC statement, SAS version 9.3). The home location on a farm or non-farm rural environment was the dependent variable and the main components of PCoA axis scores of β-diversity matrices were the predictor variables. Bacterial and fungal microbiota were investigated separately. For both bacteria and fungi, separate models were built using axis scores from PCoA of abundance-unweighted and -weighted β-diversity matrices. The PCoA axes were selected based on the scree plot method including axes above the point at which the variance explained by the additional axes levels off (Supplementary Fig. 3). The models give an estimate of the probability that the sample is from a farm home. The farm home likeness of the microbial composition in the LUKAS2 non-farm homes was then estimated by applying the regression coefficients obtained from the LUKAS1-based models to the corresponding microbial data from LUKAS2 samples.Some analyses were performed in non-farm homes of both LUKAS2 and LUKAS1 to obtain increased sample size and power if results remain comparable as was observed. Due to the discovered association with asthma, the probability that was modeled based on the relative abundance-weighted bacterial/archaeal β-diversity was named FaRMI and was studied further in greater detail.

And isn’t that  just an association that may have a rather simple explanation?

As FaRMI is weakly associated with muramic acid concentration in dust, the authors make Gram-positive bacteria responsible for the effect. The rhizosphere of soil is extremly rich of bacteria. The world’s first soil atlas showed  hundreds of taxa but never differentiated between water resistant, gram positive and less water resistant gram-negative taxa. Maybe Gram positive Streptococcaceae are ubiquitous and depend on where you draw your samples?

FaRMI is found in non farm / rural children by bacterial/archaeal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of soil origin which basically confirms my initial assumption: There was the same contamination of soil both in farm and non-farm homes if we look at supplement table 6 where walking indoors with outdoor shoes results in significant higher FaRMI values…Maybe the microbiome hype is already over.

Our results warrant translational studies to confirm the causal relationship through indoor microbial exposure-modifying intervention that may also form a novel strategy for primary asthma prevention.

Good luck with your future studies.

 

BTW – The scripts at Github are useless references to shell and Python scripts that will never run due to “—” characters. And what about that baby code?

outfolder=getwd()
eigenfile <- paste(outfolder, "/", prefix, "_PCoA_eigenvalues.txt", sep="")
writerow <- paste("Eigenvalue min / max: ", min.eigen, " / ", max.eigen, sep="")
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=F)
writerow <- paste("Sum of all eigenvalues: ", round(neg.eigensum, digits=6), sep="")
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- paste("Sum of all eigenvalues (negatives as 0): ", round(nonneg.eigensum, digits=6), sep="")
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- "Eigenvalues (pos & neg): "
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- paste(pcoa$value$Eigenvalues, collapse="\t")
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- "Percents (Negatives as negatives): "
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- paste(paste(neg.percent, " %", sep=""), collapse="\t")
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- "Percents (Negatives as 0): "
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)
writerow <- paste(paste(nonneg.percent, " %", sep=""), collapse="\t")
write(writerow, file=eigenfile, append=T)

Using R heredoc syntax I can rewrite 20 unreadable by 8 readable lines.

tmp <- 'Eigenvalue min / max: min.eigen / max.eigen
Sum of all eigenvalues: neg.eigensum
Sum of all eigenvalues (negatives as 0): nonneg.eigensum
Eigenvalues (pos & neg): pcoa
Percents (Negatives as negatives):  neg.percent %
Percents (Negatives as 0): nonneg.percent %'
for (i in c("min.eigen","max.eigen","neg.eigensum","nonneg.eigensum","pcoa$value$Eigenvalues","neg.percent","nonneg.percent") ) { tmp <- gsub(i,get(i),tmp) }
write(tmp, file=paste(getwd(),out,"/")

 

And why moving to SAS for a simple logistic regression? Is there anyone else in the academic world who pays $8,700 annually for a basic SAS Windows Analytics package just for that reason?

IL33, allergy and helminths: Shot in the leg?

Ever since our NEJM paper in 2010 that showed an IL33/ST2 association there are new studies on IL33.

Grotenboer 2013 did a functional annotation of the gene and it’s receptor in humans while there is no more doubt about the involvement of IL33 in human allergy.  Right now IL33 suppression is already used as an experimental screening test for allergic reactivity with ongoing phase II studies of anti-IL33 or anti ST2. Good IL33 reviews can be found for example in frontiers in immunology by Tataori et al. or in nature immunology by Smith.

These reviews do not tell you so much about the regulation while regulation has recently elucidated by Gour et al. who describe a tropomyosin–dectin-1 interaction of the human host. Why is tropomyosin such a frequent target of human IgE?

Muscle protein tropomyosin is an important IgE target in a number of nematode infections; Onchocerca volvulus ; Ascaris lumbricoides; Anisakis simplex; and tropomyosin from the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni is also a human IgE antigen. Tropomyosin is highly conserved across many invertebrates and is responsible for much of the IgE cross-reactivity between Ascaris and dust-mites.

I haven’t found any good  answer to this question. As tropomyosin affects contractility – this seems like “shooting into the leg” of worms whenever they attempt to invade.

Maybe Gour et al. did not know the earlier dissertation from Berlin that already showed a reduced inflammation in the OVA mouse model by administration of recombinant tropomyosin.

The broad cross reactivity to tropomyosin gives rise to the question if helminth tropomyosin could induce allergic reactions to itself and/or tropomyosin of different organisms. Considering the fact that filarial nematodes express tropomyosin on their surface […] and that the continuing turnover of microfilariae confronts the host with relevant amounts of tropomyosin makes this question even more appropriate.

Worms seems to be attacked by anti-worm-surface-tropomyosin IgE whenever the worm tries to invade  the epithelium during an acute infection. During invasion extracellular IL33 is cleaved into a shorter form with enhanced activity attracting more immune cells.
During chronic infestation nothing happens as long as the worm does not invade and doesn’t trigger any IL33 alarmin. As there is continuous tropomyosin antigen antigen contact, the host is slowly desensitzed, clearing IgE in favor of IgG4.

Is this also a model that explains allergy? We don’t know the details but maybe this antigen recognition / response system is being disturbed where allergens like Der p1 mimicking a worm infection by tropomyosin can trigger the allergic reaction in particular as Der p1 a cysteine protease also mimicks an invasion signal.

23.12.2019 Addendum

Parasite tropomyosin ist detected in in 55%-62% of patients (cockroach tropomyosin rPer a 7, Ascaris tropomyosin rAsc l 3).