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  • Hepojoki, Jussi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Hantaviruses are one of the five genera of the vector-borne virus family Bunyaviridae. While other members of the family are transmitted via arthropods, hantaviruses are carried and transmitted by rodents and insectivores. Occasional transmission to humans occurs via inhalation of aerosolized rodent excreta. When transmitted to man hantaviruses cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS, in Eurasia, mortality ~10%) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS, in the Americas, mortality ~40%). The single-stranded, negative-sense RNA genome of hantaviruses is in segments S, M and L that respectively encode for nucleocapsid (N), glycoproteins Gn and Gc, and RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase (RdRp or L protein). The genome segments, encapsidated by N protein to form ribonucleoprotein (RNP), are enclosed inside a lipid envelope decorated by spikes formed of Gn and Gc. The focus of this study was to understand the mechanisms and interactions through which the virion is formed and maintained. We observed that when extracted from virions both Gn and Gc favor homo- over hetero-oligomerization. The minimal glycoprotein complexes extracted from virion by detergent were observed, by using ultracentrifugation and gel filtration, to be tetrameric Gn and homodimeric Gc. These results led us to suggest a model where tetrameric Gn complexes are interconnected through homodimeric Gc units to form the grid-like surface architecture described for hantaviruses. This model was found to correlate with the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of virion surface created using cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET). The 3D-density map showed the spike complex formed of Gn and Gc to be 10 nm high and to display a four-fold symmetry with dimensions of 15 nm times 15 nm. This unique square-shaped complex on a roughly round virion creates a hitch for the assembly, since a sphere cannot be broken into rectangles. Thus additional interactions are likely required for the virion assembly. In cryo-ET we observed that the RNP makes occasional contacts to the viral membrane, suggesting an interaction between the spike and RNP. We were able to demonstrate this interaction using various techniques, and showed that both Gn and Gc contribute to the interaction. This led us to suggest that in addition to the interactions between Gn and Gc, also the interaction between spike and RNP is required for assembly. We found galectin-3 binding protein (referred to as 90K) to co-purify with the virions and showed an interaction between 90K and the virion. Analysis of plasma samples taken from patients hospitalized for Puumala virus infection showed increased concentrations of 90K in the acute phase and the increased 90K level was found to correlate with several parameters that reflect the severity of acute HFRS. The results of these studies confirmed, but also challenged some of the dogmas on the structure and assembly of hantaviruses. We confirmed that Gn and RNP do interact, as long assumed. On the other hand we demonstrated that the glycoproteins Gn and Gc exist as homo-oligomers or appear in large hetero-oligomeric complexes, rather than form primarily heterodimers as was previously assumed. This work provided new insight into the structure and assembly of hantaviruses.
  • Kaivo-oja, Noora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    In the ovary, two new members of the large TGF-beta superfamily of growth factors were discovered in the 1990s. The oocyte was shown to express two closely related growth factors that were named growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF-9) and growth differentiation factor 9B (GDF-9B). Both of these proteins are required for normal ovarian follicle development although their individual significance varies between species. GDF-9 and GDF-9B mRNAs are expressed in the human oocytes from the primary follicle stage onwards. This thesis project was aimed to define the signalling mechanisms utilized by the oocyte secreted GDF-9. We used primary cultures of human granulosa luteal cells (hGL) as our cell model, and recombinant adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in manipulating the TGF-b family signalling cascade molecules in these cells. Overexpression of the constitutively active forms of the seven type I receptors, the activin receptor-like kinases 1-7 (ALK1-7), using recombinant adenoviruses caused a specific activation of either the Smad1 or Smad2 pathway proteins depending on the ALK used. Activation of both Smad1 and Smad2 proteins also stimulated the expression of dimeric inhibin B protein in hGL cells. Treatment with recombinant GDF-9 protein induced the specific activation of the Smad2 pathway and stimulated the expression of inhibin betaB subunit mRNA as well as inhibin B protein secretion in our cell model. Recombinant GDF-9 also activated the Smad3-responsive CAGA-luciferase reported construct, and the GDF-9 response in hGL cells was markedly potentiated upon the overexpression of Alk5 by adenoviral gene transduction. Alk5 overexpression also enhanced the GDF-9 induced inhibin B secretion by these cells. Similarly, in a mouse teratocarcinoma cell line P19, GDF-9 could activate the Smad2/3 pathway, and overexpression of ALK5 in COS7 cells rendered them responsive to GDF-9. Furthermore, transfection of rat granulosa cells with small interfering RNA for ALK5 or overexpression of the inhibitory Smad7 resulted in dose-dependent suppression of GDF-9 effects. In conclusion, this thesis shows that both Smad1 and Smad2 pathways are involved in controlling the regulation of inhibin B secretion. Therefore, in addition to endocrine control of inhibin production by the pituitary gonadotropins, also local paracrine factors within in the ovary, like the oocyte-derived growth factors, may contribute to controlling inhibin secretion. This thesis shows as well that like other TGF-beta family ligands, also GDF-9 signalling is mediated by the canonical type I and type II receptors with serine/threonine kinase activity, and the intracellular transcription factors, the Smads. Although GDF-9 binds to the BMP type II receptor, its downstream actions are specifically mediated by the type I receptor, ALK5, and the Smad2 and Smad3 proteins.
  • Alanko, Tuomo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Tolonen, Jukka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The intervertebral disc is composed of concentrically arranged components: annulus fibrosus, the transition zone, and central nucleus pulposus. The major disc cell type differs in various parts of the intervertebral disc. In annulus fibrosus a spindle shaped fibroblast-like cell mainly dominates, whereas in central nucleus pulposus the more rounded chondrocyte-like disc cell is the major cell type. At birth the intervertebral disc is well vascularized, but during childhood and adolescence blood vessels become smaller and less numerous. The adult intervertebral disc is avascular and is nourished via the cartilage endplates. On the other hand, degenerated and prolapsed intervertebral discs are again vascularized, and show many changes compared to normal discs, including: nerve ingrowth, change in collagen turnover, and change in water content. Furthermore, the prolapsed intervertebral disc tissue has a tendency to decrease in size over time. Growth factors are polypeptides which regulate cell growth, extracellular matrix protease activity, and vascularization. Oncoproteins c-Fos and c-Jun heterodimerize, forming the AP-1 transcription factor which is expressed in activated cells. In this thesis the differences of growth factor expression in normal intervertebral disc, the degenerated intervertebral disc and herniated intervertebral disc were analyzed. Growth factors of particular interest were basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF or FGF-2), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). Cell activation was visualized by the expression of the AP-1 transcription promoters c-Fos and c-Jun. The expression was shown with either mono- or polyclonal antibodies by indirect avidin-biotin-peroxidase immunohistochemical staining method. The normal control material was collected from a tissue bank of five organ donors. The degenerated disc material was from twelve patients operated on for painful degenerative disc disease, and herniated disc tissue material was obtained from 115 patients operated on for sciatica. Normal control discs showed only TGFβ immunopositivity. All other factors studied were immunonegative in the control material. Prolapsed disc material was immunopositive for all factors studied, and this positivity was located either in the disc cells or in blood vessels. Furthermore, neovascularization was noted. Disc cell immunoreaction was shown in chondrocyte-like disc cells or in fibroblast-like disc cells, the former being expressed especially in conglomerates (clusters of disc cells). TGFβ receptor induction was prominent in prolapsed intervertebral disc tissue. In degenerated disc material, the expression of growth factors was analyzed in greater detail in various parts of the disc: nucleus pulposus, anterior annulus fibrosus and posterior annulus fibrosus. PDGF did not show any immunoreactivity, whereas all other studied growth factors were localized either in chondrocyte-like disc cells, often forming clusters, in fibroblast-like disc cells, or in small capillaries. Many of the studied degenerated discs showed tears in the posterior region of annulus fibrosus, but expression of immunopositive growth factors was detected throughout the entire disc. Furthermore, there was a difference in immunopositive cell types for different growth factors. The main conclusion of the thesis, supported by all substudies, is the occurrence of growth factors in disc cells. They may be actively participating in a network regulating disc cell growth, proliferation, extracellular matrix turnover, and neovascularization. Chondrocyte-like disc cells, in particular, expressed growth factors and oncoproteins, highlighting the importance of this cell type in the basic pathophysiologic events involved in disc degeneration and disc rearrangement. The thesis proposes a hypothesis for cellular remodelling in intervertebral disc tissue. In summary, the model presents an activation pattern of different growth factors at different intervertebral disc stages, mechanisms leading to neovascularization of the intervertebral disc in pathological conditions, and alteration of disc cell shape, especially in annulus fibrosus. Chondrocyte-like disc cells become more numerous, and these cells are capable of forming clusters, which appear to be regionally active within the disc. The alteration of the phenotype of disc cells expressing growth factors from fibroblast-like disc cells to chondrocyte-like cells in annulus fibrosus, and the numerous expression of growth factor expressing disc cells in nucleus pulposus, may be a key element both during pathological degeneration of the intervertebral disc, and during the healing process after trauma.
  • Wang, Hao (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Hantaviruses have a tri-segmented negative-stranded RNA genome. The S segment encodes the nucleocapsid protein (N), M segment two glycoproteins, Gn and Gc, and the L segment the RNA polymerase. Gn and Gc are co-translationally cleaved from a precursor and targeted to the cis-Golgi compartment. The Gn glycoprotein consists of an external domain, a transmembrane domain and a C-terminal cytoplasmic domain. In addition, the S segment of some hantaviruses, including Tula and Puumala virus, have an open reading frame (ORF) encoding a nonstructural potein NSs that can function as a weak interferon antagonist. The mechanisms of hantavirus-induced pathogenesis are not fully understood but it is known that both hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus (cardio) pulmonary syndrome (HCPS) share various features such as increased capillary permeability, thrombocytopenia and upregulation of TNF-. Several hantaviruses have been reported to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis), such as TULV-infected Vero E6 cells which is known to be defective in interferon signaling. Recently reports describing properties of the hantavirus Gn cytoplasmic tail (Gn-CT) have appeared. The Gn-CT of hantaviruses contains animmunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM) which directs receptor signaling in immune and endothelial cells; and contain highly conserved classical zinc finger domains which may have a role in the interaction with N protein. More functions of Gn protein have been discovered, but much still remains unknown. Our aim was to study the functions of Gn protein from several aspects: synthesis, degradation and interaction with N protein. Gn protein was reported to inhibit interferon induction and amplication. For this reason, we also carried out projects studying the mechanisms of IFN induction and evasion by hantavirus. We first showed degradation and aggresome formation of the Gn-CT of the apathogenic TULV. It was reported earlier that the degradation of Gn-CT is related to the pathogenicity of hantavirus. We found that the Gn-CT of the apathogenic hantaviruses (TULV, Prospect Hill virus) was degraded through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, and TULV Gn-CT formed aggresomes upon treatment with proteasomal inhibitor. Thus the results suggest that degradation and aggregation of the Gn-CT may be a general property of most hantaviruses, unrelated to pathogenicity. Second, we investigated the interaction of TULV N protein and the TULV Gn-CT. The Gn protein is located on the Golgi membrane and its interaction with N protein has been thought to determine the cargo of the hantaviral ribonucleoprotein which is an important step in virus assembly, but direct evidence has not been reported. We found that TULV Gn-CT fused with GST tag expressed in bacteria can pull-down the N protein expressed in mammalian cells; a mutagenesis assay was carried out, in which we found that the zinc finger motif in Gn-CT and RNA-binding motif in N protein are indispensable for the interaction. For the study of mechanisms of IFN induction and evasion by Old World hantavirus, we found that Old World hantaviruses do not produce detectable amounts of dsRNA in infected cells and the 5 -termini of their genomic RNAs are monophosphorylated. DsRNA and tri-phosphorylated RNA are considered to be critical activators of innate immnity response by interacting with PRRs (pattern recognition receptors). We examined systematically the 5´-termini of hantavirus genomic RNAs and the dsRNA production by different species of hantaviruses. We found that no detectable dsRNA was produced in cells infected by the two groups of the old world hantaviruses: Seoul, Dobrava, Saaremaa, Puumala and Tula. We also found that the genomic RNAs of these Old World hantaviruses carry 5´-monophosphate and are unable to trigger interferon induction. The antiviral response is mainly mediated by alpha/beta interferon. Recently the glycoproteins of the pathogenic hantaviruses Sin Nombre and New York-1 viruses were reported to regulate cellular interferon. We found that Gn-CT can inhibit the induction of IFN activation through Toll-like receptor (TLR) and retinoic acid-inducible gene I-like RNA helicases (RLH) pathway and that the inhibition target lies at the level of TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK-1)/ IKK epislon complex and myeloid differentiation primary response gene (88) (MyD88) / interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7) complex.
  • Strandin, Tomas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae, genus Hantavirus) are enveloped viruses incorporating a segmented, negative-sense RNA genome. Each hantavirus is carried by its specific host, either a rodent or an insectivore (shrew), in which the infection is asymptomatic and persistent. In humans, hantaviruses cause Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia and Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in the Americas. In Finland, Puumala virus (genus Hantavirus) is the causative agent of NE, a mild form of HFRS. The HFRS-type diseases are often associated with renal failure and proteinuria that might be mechanistically explained by infected kidney tubular cell degeneration in patients. Previously, it has been shown that non-pathogenic hantavirus, Tula virus (TULV), could cause programmed cell death, apoptosis, in cell cultures. This suggested that the infected kidney tubular degeneration could be caused directly by virus replication. In the first paper of this thesis the molecular mechanisms involved in TULV-induced apoptosis was further elucidated. A virus replication-dependent down-regulation of ERK1/2, concomitantly with the induced apoptosis, was identified. In addition, this phenomenon was not restricted to TULV or to non-pathogenic hantaviruses in general since also a pathogenic hantavirus, Seoul virus, could inhibit ERK1/2 activity. Hantaviruses consist of membrane-spanning glycoproteins Gn and Gc, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (L protein) and nucleocapsid protein N, which encapsidates the viral genome, and thus forms the ribonucleoprotein (RNP). Interaction between the cytoplasmic tails of viral glycoproteins and RNP is assumed to be the only means how viral genetic material is incorporated into infectious virions. In the second paper of this thesis, it was shown by immunoprecipitation that viral glycoproteins and RNP interact in the purified virions. It was further shown that peptides derived from the cytoplasmic tails (CTs) of both Gn and Gc could bind RNP and recombinant N protein. In the fourth paper the cytoplamic tail of Gn but not Gc was shown to interact with genomic RNA. This interaction was probably rather unspecific since binding of Gn-CT with unrelated RNA and even single-stranded DNA were also observed. However, since the RNP consists of both N protein and N protein-encapsidated genomic RNA, it is possible that the viral genome plays a role in packaging of RNPs into virions. On the other hand, the nucleic acid-binding activity of Gn may have importance in the synthesis of viral RNA. Binding sites of Gn-CT with N protein or nucleic acids were also determined by peptide arrays, and they were largely found to overlap. The Gn-CT of hantaviruses contain a conserved zinc finger (ZF) domain with an unknown function. Some viruses need ZFs in entry or post-entry steps of the viral life cycle. Cysteine residues are required for the folding of ZFs by coordinating zinc-ions, and alkylation of these residues can affect virus infectivity. In the third paper, it was shown that purified hantavirions could be inactivated by treatment with cysteine-alkylating reagents, especially N-ethyl maleimide. However, the effect could not be pin-pointed to the ZF of Gn-CT since also other viral proteins reacted with maleimides, and it was, therefore, impossible to exclude the possibility that other cysteines besides those that were essential in the formation of ZF are required for hantavirus infectivity.
  • Korpela, Antti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Sarvikivi, Emmi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are known to increase the risk for patient morbidity and mortality in different healthcare settings and thereby to cause additional costs. HAIs typically affect patients with severe underlying conditions. HAIs are prevalent also among pediatric patients, but the distribution of the types of infection and the causative agents differ from those detected in adults. The aim of this study was to obtain information on pediatric HAIs in Finland through an assessment of the surveillance of bloodstream infections (BSIs), through two outbreak investigations in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and through a study of postoperative HAIs after open-heart surgery. The studies were carried out at the Hospital for Children and Adolescents of Helsinki University Central Hospital. Epidemiological features of pediatric BSIs were assessed. For the outbreak investigations, case definitions were set and data collected from microbiological and clinical records. The antimicrobial susceptibilities of the Serratia marcescens and the Candida parapsilosis isolates were determined and they were genotyped. Patient charts were reviewed for the case-control and cohort studies during the outbreak investigations, as well as for the patients who acquired surgical site infections (SSIs) after having undergone open-heart surgery. Also a prospective postdischarge study was conducted to detect postoperative HAIs in these patients. During 1999-2006, the overall annual BSI rate was 1.6/1,000 patient days (range by year, 1.2–2.1). High rates (average, 4.9 and 3.2 BSIs/1,000 patient days) were detected in hematology and neonatology units. Coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most common pathogens both hospital-wide and in each patient group. The overall mortality was 5%. The genotyping of the 15 S. marcescens isolates revealed three independent clusters. All of the 26 C. parapsilosis isolates studied proved to be indistinguishable. The NICU was overcrowded during the S. marcescens clusters. A negative correlation between C. parapsilosis BSIs and fluconazole use in the NICU was detected, and the isolates derived from a single initially susceptible strain became less susceptible to fluconazole over time. Eighty postoperative HAIs, including all severe infections, were detected during hospitalization after open-heart surgery; 34% of those HAIs were SSIs and 25% were BSIs. The postdischarge study found 65 infections that were likely to be associated with hospitalization. The majority (89%) of them were viral respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, and these often led to rehospitalizations. The annual hospital-wide BSI rates were stable, and the significant variation detected in some units could not be seen in overall rates. Further studies with data adequately adjusted for risk factors are needed to assess BSI rates in the patient groups with the highest rates (hematology, neonatology). The outbreak investigations showed that horizontal transmission was common in the NICU. Overcrowding and lapses in hand hygiene probably contributed to the spreading of the pathogens. Following long-term use of fluconazole in the NICU, resistance to fluconazole developed in C. parapsilosis. Almost one-fourth of the patients who underwent open-heart surgery acquired at least one HAI. All severe HAIs were detected during hospitalization. The postdischarge study found numerous viral infections, which often caused rehospitalization.
  • Nieminen, Tarja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Social capital has been widely discussed in research. An increasing amount of literature has linked social capital to various health outcomes and well-being. However, both health and social capital are complex phenomena, and there is still inconsistency in the research findings. The general aim of this study was to examine the associations between social capital, health behaviour and health among adult Finnish population. The conceptualization and operationalization of social capital varies according to discipline and level. In this study, social capital is measured at the individual level assuming that an individual s investment in group activity reflects social capital seen as a resource related to social networks and group membership. Individual benefits are accessed through social connections in varied groups and society. Thus the resources do not reside within the individual but rather in the structure of person s social networks. Social capital was measured on three dimensions in this study: 1) social support, 2) social networks and participation and 3) trust and reciprocity. The association between these dimensions and health were examined. Health was investigated as self-rated health, psychological well-being and mortality. This study utilised the data of the Health 2000 Survey conducted in 2000−2001. Of people aged 30 and over, 89% participated in the home interview and 80% in the general health examination. The study material presents the whole population unusually well. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL; formerly the National Public Health Institute, KTL) had the overall responsibility for the project. In addition, the project organization involved a wide range of research and funding agencies. This survey contains a rich armoury of questions about health and illnesses, health behaviour, capacity for work, functional capacity and use of health services. Furthermore, it includes a broad selection of questions used in measuring social capital. The results found an accumulation of social capital and general welfare for the same groups: the highest levels of social capital were found among the young, well-educated and married people. However, all socio-demographic subgroups seem to benefit from social capital. Regardless of all socio-demographic characteristics, high levels of social capital were associated with good health, associations which varied among different health-related behaviours, but social participation had a strong statistical association with all components of health and all health behaviours. Regardless of chronic diseases people with high levels of social capital felt healthier than those with low levels. The positive association between social capital and survival was statistically significant among men and suggestive among women. These findings indicate that social capital contributes to health. Health inequalities between population sub-groups are still substantial. Health could be promoted and health inequalities reduced by developing tools for increasing social participation especially in those groups lacking social capital−and who often also suffer from several health problems.
  • Siikamäki, Heli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Study I analyzed Finnish travellers health problems abroad during 2010 2012. Information was drawn from a database kept by an assistance organization of insurance companies covering 95% of Finnish cases requiring aid abroad. The study included 50 710 cases. These data were compared to numbers of Finnish travellers from the Official Statistics of Finland to calculate incidences of illness and injury at various destinations. The most common diagnostic categories proved to be infections (60%) and injuries (14%); the most frequent diagnoses were acute gastroenteritis (23%) and respiratory infections (21%). Incidence was high in Africa, southern Europe plus the eastern Mediterranean, and Asia. Pre-travel counselling appears advisable also for visitors to southern Europe. Means for preventing gastrointestinal and respiratory infections are needed. Study II explored the final diagnoses of returning travellers with fever. This retrospective investigation comprised 462 febrile adults returning from malaria-endemic areas admitted to the Helsinki University Central Hospital emergency room during 2005 2009. The most common diagnostic categories were acute diarrhoeal disease (27%), systemic febrile illness (15%), and respiratory illness (15%). One traveller in four had a potentially life-threatening illness; septicemia proved as common as malaria (5% vs. 4%); one in ten had more than one diagnosis. The results suggest that the diagnostic protocol in tertiary hospital should in addition to malaria smears comprise blood cultures, influenza rapid test, and HIV test. Study III analyzed surveillance data on malaria cases reported to the National Infectious Disease Register 1995 2008 totalling 484 cases, and related them to travel statistics and antimalarial drug sales. The number of visits to malaria-endemic areas increased, whereas malaria cases did not, and a decreasing trend appeared in antimalarial drug sales. Infections were mostly acquired in Africa (76%). The most common species was Plasmodium falciparum (61%). Of all cases, 42% proved of foreign origin; in 89%, the infection was contracted in the region of birth, implying that immigrants visiting friends and relatives constitute a risk group with a particular need for pre-travel advice. Study IV analyzed in detail the background information on malaria cases diagnosed in Finland 2003 2011. The data included 265 cases, 54% of whom were born in malaria-endemic countries, and 86% currently lived in non-endemic regions. Of those born in non-endemic regions, 81% had received pre-travel advice, but only 20% of those born in endemic ones. Among travellers infected with P. falciparum, 4% reported regular use of appropriate chemoprophylaxis, yet individual rechecking by interview revealed that none had been fully compliant. These data suggest that, if taken conscientiously, mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil, and doxycycline are effective as chemoprophylaxis against P. falciparum malaria.
  • Siikamäki, Heli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Study I analyzed Finnish travellers health problems abroad during 2010 2012. Information was drawn from a database kept by an assistance organization of insurance companies covering 95% of Finnish cases requiring aid abroad. The study included 50 710 cases. These data were compared to numbers of Finnish travellers from the Official Statistics of Finland to calculate incidences of illness and injury at various destinations. The most common diagnostic categories proved to be infections (60%) and injuries (14%); the most frequent diagnoses were acute gastroenteritis (23%) and respiratory infections (21%). Incidence was high in Africa, southern Europe plus the eastern Mediterranean, and Asia. Pre-travel counselling appears advisable also for visitors to southern Europe. Means for preventing gastrointestinal and respiratory infections are needed. Study II explored the final diagnoses of returning travellers with fever. This retrospective investigation comprised 462 febrile adults returning from malaria-endemic areas admitted to the Helsinki University Central Hospital emergency room during 2005 2009. The most common diagnostic categories were acute diarrhoeal disease (27%), systemic febrile illness (15%), and respiratory illness (15%). One traveller in four had a potentially life-threatening illness; septicemia proved as common as malaria (5% vs. 4%); one in ten had more than one diagnosis. The results suggest that the diagnostic protocol in tertiary hospital should in addition to malaria smears comprise blood cultures, influenza rapid test, and HIV test. Study III analyzed surveillance data on malaria cases reported to the National Infectious Disease Register 1995 2008 totalling 484 cases, and related them to travel statistics and antimalarial drug sales. The number of visits to malaria-endemic areas increased, whereas malaria cases did not, and a decreasing trend appeared in antimalarial drug sales. Infections were mostly acquired in Africa (76%). The most common species was Plasmodium falciparum (61%). Of all cases, 42% proved of foreign origin; in 89%, the infection was contracted in the region of birth, implying that immigrants visiting friends and relatives constitute a risk group with a particular need for pre-travel advice. Study IV analyzed in detail the background information on malaria cases diagnosed in Finland 2003 2011. The data included 265 cases, 54% of whom were born in malaria-endemic countries, and 86% currently lived in non-endemic regions. Of those born in non-endemic regions, 81% had received pre-travel advice, but only 20% of those born in endemic ones. Among travellers infected with P. falciparum, 4% reported regular use of appropriate chemoprophylaxis, yet individual rechecking by interview revealed that none had been fully compliant. These data suggest that, if taken conscientiously, mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil, and doxycycline are effective as chemoprophylaxis against P. falciparum malaria.
  • Simonsen, Nina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Municipalities are important arenas in health promotion as many of the determinants of health relate to, and exert their influence in, local contexts. Accordingly, one key question in public-health work is how to support health promotion on the local level. The present study explores and compares health promotion actions in four medium-sized municipalities, with an emphasis on factors influencing engagement. The point of departure is the health promotion strategies described in the Ottawa Charter (WHO 1986) – the focus being on community action for health, health-promoting health services and healthy public policy – and the multilevel health promotion model (Rütten et al. 2000). The overall aim is to further enhance understanding of health promotion action in local contexts. The specific aims are to explore the role of local voluntary associations in health promotion, to compare the emphasis on health promotion in four municipalities with different forms of primary healthcare service production, and, especially, to identify factors associated with comprehensive health promotion action and with health policy impact (effective health promotion actions). The study – part of an evaluation of the production model of primary healthcare in four municipalities in the southern part of Finland – is based on cross-sectional surveys conducted in the four municipalities in 2000, 2002 and 2004 and including all registered local voluntary associations (LVAs), primary healthcare (PHC) personnel (including services for older people) and local politicians. The data were analysed by means of descriptive statistics as well as logistic and linear regression analysis. The findings suggest that a fair proportion of LVAs are interested in action for community health and could be seen as a resource for health promotion in local contexts. There was agreement that the promotion of residents’ health requires cooperation between municipal agencies and LVAs, although cooperation was not particularly strongly emphasized in municipal budget and action plans according to the politicians. Cooperation with municipal agencies was independently associated with LVA engagement in health promotion. PHC personnel appear to be engaged in health promotion primarily on an individual basis. On all three levels (individual, group and population) it was most prevalent in ambulatory care. This was also true in the case of comprehensive action, as well as when health promotion was conceptualized as addressing risk behaviour. There were some differences between the municipalities in terms of level of engagement; the respondents' focus in health promotion and varying opportunities for cooperation are two potential explanations for these differences. Moreover, variables reflecting all the proposed determinants (organizational values, competence and opportunities) were independently associated with the PHC personnel’s engagement in comprehensive health promotion action. These included working conditions that are conducive to health promotion such as being able to use one’s skills and knowledge, and having possibilities for reflection and learning as well as collegial support; knowledge about residents’ health and living conditions; and opportunities to cooperate with partners outside the organization. Similarly, perceived competence and a value orientation towards health as well as opportunities for community participation were independently associated with LVA engagement in comprehensive health promotion action. In addition to the determinants in the theoretical model, the municipality had an influence. There were no inter-municipality differences in the politicians’ evaluations of health promotion actions and their effectiveness (health policy impact). In terms of impact, an emphasis on promoting health and quality of life among older people and the resources (in the form of capacity of PHC and care for older people) were among the most significant elements of health promotion policy on the local level. Contrary to expectations, opportunities for community participation were not associated with the evaluations. The findings reinforce the value of empowerment, community participation and intersectoral cooperation – in other words the principles of health promotion – in the context of Finnish municipalities, providing further evidence as well as highlighting their significance for engagement in health promotion action. The study also provides novel empirical confirmation concerning the applicability of the multilevel health promotion model to the actions of different actors in municipalities, in other words in local contexts. In support of action on the local level, the findings – the equally strong associations of organizational values, competence and opportunities with engagement in health promotion – suggest the need for a multilevel approach. However, local policy makers may need more evidence concerning the impact of cooperation and community participation.
  • Saarni, Samuli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Quality of life (QoL) and Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) are becoming one of the key outcomes of health care due to increased respect for the subjective valuations and well-being of patients and an increasing part of the ageing population living with chronic, non-fatal conditions. Preference-based HRQoL measures enable estimation of health utility, which can be useful for rational rationing, evidence-based medicine and health policy. This study aimed to compare the individual severity and public health burden of major chronic conditions in Finland, including and focusing on reliably diagnosed psychiatric conditions. The study is based on the Health 2000 survey, a representative general population survey of 8028 Finns aged 30 and over. Depressive, anxiety and alcohol use disorders were diagnosed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (M-CIDI). HRQoL was measured with the 15D and the EQ-5D, with 83% response rate. This study found that people with psychiatric disorders had the lowest 15D HRQoL scores at all ages, in comparison to other main groups of chronic conditions. Considering 29 individual conditions, three of the four most severe (on 15D) were psychiatric disorders; the most severe was Parkinson s disease. Of the psychiatric disorders, chronic conditions that have sometimes been considered relatively mild - dysthymia, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia - were found to be the most severe. This was explained both by the severity of the impact of these disorders on mental health domains of HRQoL, and also by the fact that decreases were widespread on most dimensions of HRQoL. Considering the public health burden of conditions, musculoskeletal disorders were associated with the largest burden, followed by psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders were associated with the largest burden at younger ages. Of individual conditions, the largest burden found was for depressive disorders, followed by urinary incontinence and arthrosis of the hip and knee. The public health burden increased greatly with age, so the ageing of the Finnish population will mean that the disease burden caused by chronic conditions will increase by a quarter up to year 2040, if morbidity patterns do not change. Investigating alcohol consumption and HRQoL revealed that although abstainers had poorer HRQoL than moderate drinkers, this was mainly due to many abstainers being former drinkers and having the poorest HRQoL. Moderate drinkers did not have significantly better HRQoL than abstainers who were not former drinkers. Psychiatric disorders are associated with a large part of the non-fatal disease burden in Finland. In particular anxiety disorders appear to be more severe and have a larger public health burden than previously thought.
  • Laas, Karin (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other chronic inflammatory joint diseases already begin to affect patients health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in the earliest phases of these diseases. In treatment of inflammatory joint diseases, the last two decades have seen new strategies and treatment options introduced. Treatment is started at an earlier phase; combinations of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and corticosteroids are used; and in refractory cases new drugs such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors or other biologicals can be started. In patients with new referrals to the Department of Rheumatology of the Helsinki University Central Hospital, we evaluated the 15D and the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) results at baseline and approximately 8 months after their first visit. Altogether the analysis included 295 patients with various rheumatic diseases. The mean baseline 15D score (0.822, SD 0.114) was significantly lower than for the age-matched general population (0.903, SD 0.098). Patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and spondyloarthropathies (SPA) reported the poorest HRQoL. In patients with RA and reactive arthritis (ReA) the HRQoL improved in a statistically significant manner during the 8-month follow-up. In addition, a clinically important change appeared in patients with systemic rheumatic diseases. HAQ score improved significantly in patients with RA, arthralgia and fibromyalgia, and ReA. In a study of 97 RA patients treated either with etanercept or adalimumab, we assessed their HRQoL with the RAND 36-Item Health Survey 1.0 (RAND-36) questionnaire. We also analysed changes in clinical parameters and the HAQ. With etanercept and adalimumab, the values of all domains in the RAND-36 questionnaire increased during the first 3 months. The efficacy of each in improving HRQoL was statistically significant, and the drug effects were comparable. Compared to Finnish age- and sex-matched general population values, the HRQoL of the RA patients was significantly lower at baseline and, despite the improvement, remained lower also at follow-up. Our RA patients had long-standing and severe disease that can explain the low HRQoL also at follow-up. In a pharmacoeconomic study of patients treated with infliximab we evaluated medical and work disability costs for patients with chronic inflammatory joint disease during one year before and one year after institution of infliximab treatment. Clinical and economic data for 96 patients with different arthritis diagnoses showed, in all patients, significantly improved clinical and laboratory variables. However, the medical costs increased significantly during the second period by 12 015 (95% confidence interval, 6 496 to 18 076). Only a minimal decrease in work disability costs occurred mean decrease 130 (-1 268 to 1 072). In a study involving a switch from infliximab to etanercept, we investigated the clinical outcome in 49 patients with RA. Reasons for switching were in 42% failure to respond by American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 50% criteria; in 12% adverse event; and in 46% non-medical reasons although the patients had responded to infliximab. The Disease Activity Score with 28 joints examined (DAS28) allowed us to measure patients disease activity and compare outcome between groups based on the reason for switching. In the patients in whom infliximab was switched to etanercept for nonmedical reasons, etanercept continued to suppress disease activity effectively, and 1-year drug survival for etanercept was 77% (95% CI, 62 to 97). In patients in the infliximab failure and adverse event groups, DAS28 values improved significantly during etanercept therapy. However, the 1-year drug survival of etanercept was only 43% (95% CI, 26 to 70) and 50% (95% CI, 33 to 100), respectively. Although the HRQoL of patients with inflammatory joint diseases is significantly lower than that of the general population, use of early and aggressive treatment strategies including TNF-inhibitors can improve patients HRQoL effectively. Further research is needed in finding new treatment strategies for those patients who fail to respond or lose their response to TNF-inhibitors.
  • Kaukua, Jarmo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Haapamäki, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measurement has become an important outcome in treatment trials and in health policy decisions. HRQoL can be measured by using generic or disease-specific tools. Generic instruments can be used for comparing health status among patients in different health states and conditions but they do not focus specifically on the issues relevant in a particular disease. Disease-specific tools may be more responsive to changes within a specific condition. In earlier studies, impairment of HRQoL has been evident in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), especially when the disease is active. Data about the impact of comorbidity or demographic characteristics of the patients on HRQoL are partly controversial. This study, which comprised 2913 adult IBD patients, examined HRQoL using the disease-specific IBDQ and the general 15D instruments. The 15D scores of IBD patients were compared with scores of a gender and age matched general population sample. Frequency of IBD symptoms and arrangement of therapy were studied and compared with those of IBD patients in an earlier European study. Furthermore, data of other chronic diseases of the patients were obtained from the Social Insurance Institution s reimbursement register and comorbidity of IBD patients was compared with that of age and gender matched controls. --- Of the respondents, 37% reported that they suffered from disturbing IBD symptoms weekly. In 17% of the patients, the symptoms greatly affected the ability to enjoy leisure activities, and 14% stated that these symptoms greatly affected their capacity to work. Despite that, the great majority (93%) of patients expressed satisfaction with their current treatment, which exceeded the rate observed in the other European patients. The mean IBDQ score was 163, as the possible range is 32-224, and disease activity was strongly correlated with HRQoL. Older age, comorbid diseases, and female gender were also related to impairment of HRQoL. Lower HRQoL scores were seen also in newly-diagnosed patients and in those with a history of surgery, especially after stoma or ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) operation. The range of 15D scores was 0.30-1.00, with mean of 0.87. As with the IBDQ, disease activity, older age and history of surgery were correlated with the score. Both the newly-diagnosed patients and patients with a long-lasting disease had lower scores than average even after adjusting for age. The 15D scores of IBD patients were significantly lower than those of the control group. A strong correlation was seen between the 15D and the IBDQ scores. Comorbidity with other chronic diseases was observed in 29% of IBD patients. Connective tissue diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, pernicious anaemia, and coronary heart disease (CHD) were significantly increased in patients with IBD. Especially female IBD patients appeared to be at increased risk for CHD, and patients who reported weekly IBD symptoms had a higher risk for having other chronic diseases in addition to IBD. Comorbidity impaired HRQoL, as measured with both generic and disease-specific tools. In conclusion, HRQoL is impaired in IBD patients. An understanding of predictors of HRQoL will help to recognise patients who will need special support.
  • Nihtilä, Annamari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    A reform to Dental Care legislation in 2002 abolished age limits restricting adults use of public dental services in Finland. This Dental Reform aimed to increase equity by improving adults´ access to care and reducing cost barriers. The adult population´s increased demand for dental care put pressure on the Public Dental Service (PDS). The aim of this study was to compare heavy and low use of dental services in the PDS of Espoo in order to identify reasons for heavy use and to suggest improvements to care provision. This study is based on register data. All patients who had visited the PDS of Espoo in 2004 (n=63 850) were divided into two groups: children and adolescents and adults. Within each group, all patients who had made six or more dental visits to the PDS in 2004 were defined as heavy users of oral health services and all the patients who had had three or fewer visits as low users. A random sample of 320 adult patients and a 245 children and adolescent patients was drawn from each group. All adult heavy and low consumers of dental services identified in 2004, were followed for five years. Information on age, sex, number and types of visits, oral health status and treatment provided was collected from treatment records. Seven per cent of the children and adolescents in 2004 could be classified as heavy users and the main reasons of heavy use were high numbers of orthodontic treatment occasions provided by dentists and high numbers of decayed teeth in a small number of children. For adults, 10% were heavy users. A need for complicated treatment, dentists´ and dental hygienists´ lack of experience of adult dental care and lack of specialist resulted in high numbers of visits for these patients. The adult heavy users were older and had lower social status than low users. Of these baseline adult heavy users 11% persisted as chronic frequent users during 2005-2009. Typical for adult heavy use in the baseline and the follow-up study was a lack of proper examinations, poor quality of periodontal diagnosis, lack of preventive care, and a cycle of repetitive repair or replacement of restorations, often as emergency treatment. Fixed prosthetic treatment was seldom used in the PDS of Espoo. The PDS should seek to early identify possible heavy users and they should be offered a comprehensive approach to treatment and a responsible team of a dentist and dental hygienist. In order to manage adult dental health effectively, the PDS should encourage regular examinations, treatment plans and recall visits based on patients´ oral health and risk factors.
  • Koskenpato, Jari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2001)