Crews, Dr. Douglas Earl, Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid research on 'Frailty and Allostatic Load among Aging Japanese'
DR. DOUGLAS EARL CREWS, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a grant in May 2008, to aid research on 'Frailty and Allostatic Load among Aging Japanese.' Residents of Sakiyama City were chosen for this study of how allostatic load and frailty are related to health and morbidity among elderly residents of a more traditional and isolated community. The study obtained sufficient data to examine allostatic load and frailty as correlates of morbidity, physiological function, fertility and aging in elderly Japanese samples living more traditional and less traditional life styles within Sakiyama City. Detailing cross-cultural variation in allostatic load and frailty enhances our interpretations of how biological aspects of senescence may structure health at the latest ages of human life. Determining allostatic load and frailty in an age-stratified sample of Japanese elders also aids in resolving the female-male health paradox, wherein elderly women frequently report poorer health than same-aged men, while same-age men suffer higher mortality. These data allow us to determine whether fertility significantly burdens women's health outcomes. By working directly with physicians engaged in providing health care to participants, the benefits of ongoing research on biomarkers of stress, function, and somatic abilities to clinical interventions and health maintenance setting is directly tested.
Garruto, Dr. Ralph M., State U. of New York, Binghamton, NY - To aid research on 'Longitudinal Studies of Health Transition and Culture Change in Vanuatu'
DR. RALPH M. GARRUTO, State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Longitudinal Studies of Health Transition and Culture Change in Vanuatu.' Health burdens are changing in developing countries worldwide. Whereas chronic diseases such as hypertension and obesity were once primarily diseases of industrial countries, these now represent major health concerns in the developing world. Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation of 68 inhabited islands, is currently experiencing this change in disease patterns, or 'health transition.' Comparing chronic disease risk and population characteristics among islands could help to clarify how health transitions develop, and the social, behavioral, and economic factors driving the change. From June-August 2011, nearly 2000 individuals from five islands participated in surveys of behavioral, nutritional and economic patterns and body measurements (such as height, weight, and body fat). Preliminary results indicate that health patterns change in ways specific to the behaviors and economic conditions of each island and the degree of outside influence, regardless of geographic remoteness. Chronic disease risk is also influenced by the risk of infectious diseases, which impact not only an individual's phenotype, but also behavioral and economic factors (such as growth of the tourism industry) that in turn affect the population's health. This project contributes to our understanding of human biological variation across geographical regions and the factors that determine health outcomes in Pacific Island populations.
James, Paul E., U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'The Disease Ecology of Asthma in the Migrant Mixtec Population,' supervised by Dr. Magdalena Hurtado
PAUL E. JAMES, then a student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on 'The Disease of Ecology of Asthma in the Migrant Mixtec Population,' supervised by Dr. Magdalena Hurtado. What was an adaptive immune response to intestinal parasites in our agrarian past may underlie the current rise in childhood asthma among urban and acculturated populations. This research addressed the relationship between intestinal parasites and childhood asthma by examining the underlying immunological mechanisms, which these diseases share, within a transnational Mixtec population living in three distinct environments. Data collection included interviews, physiological measurements and biological sampling of induced sputum and stool from 196 Mixtec children aged 4 to 15 years living in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, urban Tijuana, Mexico and periurban California, USA. Preliminary analysis suggests that not just intestinal parasites but also other childhood infectious diseases may be protective against the development of childhood asthma. This may be the result of the general stimulation of a down regulatory effect of the interleukin-10 cytokine upon Immunoglobulin E mediated allergic inflammation. This supports the idea that a lag exists between biological adaptation and rapid ecological change, in this case due to urban migration, and that this theory is useful for linking biochemical processes to global patterns of disease such as the epidemiological transition from infectious to chronic disease.
Middleton, Emily Ruth, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Ecogeographical Influences on Trunk Modularity in Recent Humans: Colonization and Morphological Integration,' supervised by Dr. Susan C. Anton
EMILY R. MIDDLETON, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2013 to aid research on 'Ecogeographical Influences on Trunk Modularity in Recent Humans: Colonization and Morphological Integration,' supervised by Dr. Susan C. Antón. The ribcage, vertebral column, and pelvis have undergone numerous shape changes throughout hominin evolutionary history, responding to a wide suite of locomotor, obstetric, and climatic selective pressures. The degree to which morphological elements are integrated, or covary, has important implications for the way body form evolves, and this project seeks to understand the pattern of morphological integration in the trunk skeletons of modern humans and our closest living relatives. Most studies of integration focus on interspecific comparisons, but this project specifically investigates how intraspecific variation due to ecogeography and sex affect integration. Skeletal data were collected from a range of modern human populations and from multiple chimpanzee taxa. Preliminary results suggest support for the research hypotheses, with humans possessing weaker relationships among skeletal trunk elements than chimpanzees, which may have contributed to the successful colonization of diverse global environments by modern humans. In addition, human females appear to possess slightly weaker patterns of trunk integration than human males, which may relate to the protection of obstetric dimensions of the bony pelvis in the face of conflicting selective pressures. Additional data analyses are ongoing to further elucidate aspects of the pattern of trunk integration in modern humans and chimpanzees.
Snodgrass, James J., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Energetics, Health, and Lifestyles Change among the Yakut of Siberia,' supervised by Dr. William R. Leonard
JAMES J. SNODGRASS, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in May 2002 to aid research on 'Energetics, Health, and Lifestyles Change among the Yakut of Siberia,' supervised by Dr. William R. Leonard. This study examined the health consequences of economic modernization in the Yakut (Sakha), a high-latitude indigenous population of horse and cow pastoralists from the Sakha Republic of Russia. The two main research objectives were: 1) to investigate metabolic adaptation; and 2) to explore health and energy balance within the context of economic modernization. All research was conducted in the rural Siberian village of Berdygestiakh, Russia. Data were collected on: basal metabolic rate (BMR), total energy expenditure (TEE), blood pressure, body composition, diet, thyroid hormones, Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, and lifestyle and socioeconomic status. The results of this study indicate that, regardless of which reference standard is used, Yakut men and women have elevated BMRs. This study did not document any significant relationships between lifestyle measures and BMR, which suggests that genetic factors play an important role in metabolic elevation. This research provides baseline information on health and energy balance in the Yakut and investigates how specific lifestyle (e.g., physical activity and diet) and socioeconomic (e.g., income and education) factors contribute to the development of obesity and hypertension. Relatively low levels of physical activity, documented using the doubly labeled water technique, play an important role in the development of obesity in the Yakut, especially among women. Obesity and hypertension are emerging health issues among the Yakut. Affluence is associated with obesity among men, but not women; this parallels findings from nationally representative studies in Russia that document that health changes are more closely tied to socioeconomic status in men than women.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, William R. Leonard, M.V. Sorensen, L.A. Tarskaia, and M.J. Mosher. 2008. The Influence of Basal Metabolic Rate on Blood Pressure among Indigenous Siberians. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 137(2):145-155
Snodgrass, J.J., M.V. Sorensen, L.A. Tarskaia, and W.R. Leonard. 2007. Adaptive Dimensions of Health Research among Indigenous Siberians. American Journal of Human Biology 19:165-180.
Snodgrass, J.J., W.R. Leonard, L.A. Tarskaia, T.W. McDade, et al. 2007. Anthropometric Correlates of C-Reactive Protein among Indigenous Siberians. Journal of Physiological Anthropology 26:241-246.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, et al. 2006. The Emergence of Obesity among Indigenous Siberians. Journal of Physiological Anthropology 25(1):75-84.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, et al. 2006. Total Energy Expenditure in the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia as Measured by the Doubly Labeled Water Method. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84:798-806.
Snodgrass, J. Josh, W.R. Leonard, L. Tarskaia, V.P. Alekseev, and V.G. Krivoshapkin. 2005. Basal Metabolic Rate in the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia. American Journal of Human Biology 17:155-172.
Dancause, Dr. Kelsey N., U. of Quebec, Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Effects of Prenatal Psychosocial Stress on Birth Outcomes in Developing Countries: Filling the Knowledge Gap Using Validated Surveys in Vanuatu'
Preliminary abstract: Psychosocial stress during pregnancy affects not only the mother, but also her child. At high levels, maternal stress hormones can cross the placenta and affect fetal development. Prenatal stress has been associated with poor birth outcomes (such as low birthweight and preterm birth) and long-term effects such as obesity. Unfortunately, nearly all studies of prenatal stress are in industrialized nations. The effects of prenatal stress seen in industrialized countries likely cannot be generalized to women experiencing not only high levels of stress during pregnancy, but also potential undernutrition and heavy infectious disease burdens that could interact with and exacerbate the effects of prenatal stress. We need more data on the effects of prenatal stress from low- and middle-income and rapidly modernizing countries. Furthermore, we need to use common and validated surveys to collect these data, to allow comparison to the existing literature from other countries. Our OBJECTIVE is to address this gap in knowledge in Vanuatu, a low-middle-income country in the South Pacific where we have conducted anthropological research on population health since 2007. We will rely on commonly used and validated surveys to measure mothers' psychosocial stress and related mental health measures during pregnancy. We will analyze relationships between maternal psychosocial stress and infants' birth outcomes, such as their birth weight and gestational age. This study will allow us to identify how the relationships between prenatal stress and birth outcomes in developing countries might differ from patterns seen in industrialized nations, and will promote more detailed studies in other developing countries.
George, Ian Douglas, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO - To aid research on 'Mapping the Cerebrocerebellar Language Network and its Role in Human Neuroevolution,' supervised by Dr. Kristina Aldridge
IAN D. GEORGE, then a graduate student at University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, was awarded a grant in October 2013 to aid research on 'Mapping the Cerebrocerebellar Language Network and its Role in Human Neuroevolution,' supervised by Dr. Kristina Aldridge. Language is arguably the key factor that has influenced the evolution of the human brain. Previous research on endocasts, our only direct evidence of the brains of human ancestors, has revealed a disproportionate increase in size of the cerebellum relative to the cerebrum. Recent neurological findings indicate that the cerebellum plays a role in modulating language through neural connections to the cerebrum. Our research has mapped the connectivity among the cerebellum and language areas in the cerebrum through a specialized form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and verified that the cerebellum is a key component of the language network in the human brain. When compared with behavioral measures of language we found significant correlations between connectivity in the language-specific cerebrocerebellar network (LSCN) and language production. This research provides critical data on how much can be known about language from the study of fossil brain endocasts by testing the assumption that brain structure, specifically in the LSCN, correlates with language ability. We are now able to test the hypothesis that these same suites of features are reliably reproduced on endocasts. This evidence is essential for making predictions about the behavior of fossil hominin ancestors from endocast data.
Kaestle, Dr. Frederika A., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN; and Ribeiro-Dos-Santos, Andrea, U. Federal do Para, Belem, Brazil - To aid collaborative research on 'mtDNA in Brazilian Prehistoric Groups of the Last 12,000 Years'
Miller, Dr. Elizabeth Marie, U. of South Florida, Tampa, FL - To aid research on 'Ecology of the Human Milk and Infant Salivary Microbiomes'
Preliminary abstract: Biological anthropologists hypothesize that early life microbial exposures are critical for the development of the immune system, with the evolved flexibility of the human immune response helping acclimate infants to their unique environment. One major pathway to exposure is via mothers' milk, which passes microbes to infants via breast milk in a dynamic, co-influential system. I propose to study the human milk and infant salivary microbiome of breastfeeding Kenyan mother-infant pairs, by 1) characterizing milk and infant salivary microbiomes, 2) exploring relationships between milk and infant salivary microbiomes to determine how much they influence each other, 3) determining which ecological factors are associated with these microbiomes, and 4) how the immune system of mother's milk and infant saliva interacts with their respective microbiomes. Milk and saliva samples previously collected from a rural Kenyan population will be sequenced for operational taxonomic units and relative abundance of microbial communities using 16s RNA techniques, and analyzed statistically using taxonomically appropriate methods. I predict a core microbiome will be identifiable in the milk and saliva that is distinct from previously documented US populations, that there will be an association between maternal milk and infant saliva microbiomes, and that immunological and ecological factors such as culturally-appropriate foods and maternal-infant behaviors will influence microbiome diversity. This research contributes to anthropological scholarship by overturning widely held beliefs that infants are receptacles for the 'passive' immunity of mothers' milk, and by using the maternal-infant microbiome as a lens through which larger cultural and ecological patterns may be observed.
Thayer, Zaneta Marie, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Intergenerational Programming of Stress Reactivity: Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa
ZANETA THAYER, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Intergenerational Programming of Stress Reactivity: The Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa. Anthropologists have a long history of studying biological responses to environmental stress from diverse perspectives. Within our field the effects of maternal psychosocial stress on biology and health in the next generation is becoming a topic of increased interest. This research project evaluated the intergenerational effects of maternal stress experience among an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of pregnant women from Auckland, New Zealand. Women who had lower socioeconomic status and who experienced ethnic discrimination had higher evening cortisol in late pregnancy and gave birth to infants with elevated cortisol reactivity and altered gene regulation (methylation) profiles. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal social environment impacts maternal and offspring biology. Notably, the types of stress exposures that impacted cortisol in the present study are relatively novel from an evolutionary perspective. Thus the evolved capacity for an intergenerational transfer of information could be maladaptive in the contemporary ecology when activated in response to structural inequalities within society. Future research evaluating diverse sources of stress and a range of biological responses in offspring are necessary to clarify whether modifications in offspring biology reflect adaptation or biological impairment.