Exploring multiple facets of modern men’s health

2695540485_7fed1903e5_zJune is Men’s Health Month! This is a time to bring awareness to preventable health issues and encourage early detection of diseases affecting men. As we wind down from celebrating Father’s Day this past weekend, here are a few articles focusing on some important men’s health issues.

Lowering salt intake helps alleviate a number of health concerns, such as decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and stomach cancer. However, how easy is it to reduce your sodium intake without compromising taste, or your wallet?  In a recent study, researchers sought to determine how feasible a low-sodium, inexpensive and nutritious meal for men could be. The authors used cost and nutritional data to model and optimize familiar diets. In this analysis, they showed that it is possible to decrease sodium levels to well below the recommended maximum, proving that nutrition does not need to be compromised when preparing an enjoyable low-cost meal.

So what should men be consuming to help with disease prevention? Olive plant leaves (Olea europaea L.) have been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes for centuries. In a PLOS ONE clinical trial published this year, researchers investigated the effects of olive polyphenols on insulin balance.  In this study, 46 male participants received either capsules of olive leaf extract or a placebo for 12 weeks.  Through their observations, the researchers found that olive leaf extract significantly improved two factors related to Type 2 Diabetes (insulin sensitivity and pancreatic ?-cell secretory capacity) in overweight, middle-aged men.

What about prostate health, you might ask? The Prostate Specific Antigen test, along with digital rectal examination is widely used for prostate cancer screening. PSA, which stands for Prostate Specific Antigen, is a glycoprotein secreted by epithelial cells of the prostate gland, and individuals with prostate cancer have a higher than normal amount of this compound in their systems. PSA levels can also change in response to external factors like surgery, though, so understanding these other forces is crucial for the test to be effective.  In a recent study, authors investigated whether bike riding affects PSA concentration in men. The researchers took blood samples from 129 male participants 60 minutes before a bike ride and 5 minutes after completion. They found that cycling caused their PSA to increase an average of 9.5% when measured within 5 minutes after completing the ride. Based on these findings, the authors suggest a 24–48 hour period of abstinence from cycling before a PSA test to avoid any false positive results.

These articles are just a taste of the published articles touching on men’s health; for more research visit PLOS ONE here.



Wilson N, Nghiem N, Foster RH (2013) The Feasibility of Achieving Low-Sodium Intake in Diets That Are Also Nutritious, Low-Cost, and Have Familiar Meal Components. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58539. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058539

de Bock M, Derraik JGB, Brennan CM, Biggs JB, Morgan PE, et al. (2013) Olive (Olea europaea L.) Leaf Polyphenols Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Middle-Aged Overweight Men: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. PLoS ONE 8(3): e57622. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057622

Mejak SL, Bayliss J, Hanks SD (2013) Long Distance Bicycle Riding Causes Prostate-Specific Antigen to Increase in Men Aged 50 Years and Over. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56030. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056030

 Image Credit: on Flickr by Lindz Graham

Celebrating India’s National Science Day

Today is National Science Day in India, celebrated in honor of Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman’s discovery on February 28, 1928 of the eponymous Raman effect, which relates to the way that light is scattered when it passes through different materials. Raman earned a Nobel Prize for his work in 1930.

In just the past two months, PLOS ONE has published over 100 papers with authors from India, in subjects as varied as molecular biology, ecology, and medicine. For example, various Indian research groups are working with the wildlife in their country, determining non-invasive methods to photographically identify and “tag” Indian gliding lizards based on their blotch patterns and studying the feasibility of human-lion coexistence in the Indian forest.

On the other end of the spectrum, “Systems Biology Approach Reveals Genome to Phenome Correlation in Type 2 Diabetes” illustrates how coordinated analysis of data from various sources, including patient genetic material and databases about known drug interactions and genetic interactions, can be more powerful than considering each individually.  The results provide further evidence that some previously identified genes are involved in the disease, and also help refine the understanding of how these factors are involved.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security,” so the final article I’d like to highlight is a genetic analysis of the apple scab pathogen, a fungus that can wreak havoc on orchards. This study provides primary information about the pathogen that will be crucial for future research investigating how farmers can overcome it.

These four papers are just a tiny sample of the rich and varied research coming out of India. Happy National Science Day, and feel free to add your own favorite Indian research in the comments.


Jain P, Vig S, Datta M, Jindel D, Mathur AK, et al. (2013) Systems Biology Approach Reveals Genome to Phenome Correlation in Type 2 Diabetes. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53522. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053522

Sreekar R, Purushotham CB, Saini K, Rao SN, Pelletier S, et al. (2013) Photographic Capture-Recapture Sampling for Assessing Populations of the Indian Gliding Lizard Draco dussumieri. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55935. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055935

Banerjee K, Jhala YV, Chauhan KS, Dave CV (2013) Living with Lions: The Economics of Coexistence in the Gir Forests, India. PLoS ONE 8(1): e49457. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049457

Thakur K, Chawla V, Bhatti S, Swarnkar MK, Kaur J, et al. (2013) De NovoTranscriptome Sequencing and Analysis for Venturia inaequalis, the Devastating Apple Scab Pathogen. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53937. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053937

Great Genetics: PLOS ONE at ASHG

For the 2012 American Society for Human Genetics conference in San Francisco, we are highlighting a selection of recently published articles in the area.  In the last two years, PLOS ONE has published over 700 articles on human genetics; the eight summarized below are among the top 5% with regard to post-publication citations, HTML views, PDF downloads, and bookmarking.

Two of these papers address the genetic underpinnings of Alzheimer disease.  By mining genetic data, Jones et al. linked two physiological processes, cholesterol metabolism and the innate immune response, to late-onset Alzheimer disease development.  In a paper published in September of this year, Jun et al. discovered a correlation between the presence of cataracts and Alzheimer disease, and identified genetic variations in the gene encoding for the ?-catenin protein that may be the link between these two conditions.

Looking at another eye disorder, Nakano et al. investigated the genetic component of glaucoma.  Their research identified genetic variations among people of Japanese ancestry that are associated with certain types of glaucoma.

Another paper looked at the potential role of epigenetic modification in type 2 diabetes. Specifically, Bell et al. compared DNA from healthy women and women with type 2 diabetes and examined variations in DNA methylation, a chemical modification to the DNA that affects gene expression.  The analysis revealed significant methylation differences in regions of DNA previously associated with type 2 diabetes, suggesting that variations in DNA methylation may play a role in the disease.

Two studies considered variations in the number of repeats of specific DNA sequences, which can affect disease pathology and even drive evolution.  Valsesia et al. investigated DNA copy number variations and their effect on gene expression in seven different melanoma cell lines.  Their research identified candidate genes and molecular pathways involved in metastatic melanoma.  Zhang et al. compared the performance of four software programs in detecting copy number variations in DNA sequences longer than 1,000 bases.  The authors found inconsistency even among the most established programs, emphasizing the work that still needs to be done in this area.

Another paper addressed the issue of chromosome translocation, or the abnormal rearrangement of parts of chromosomes.  In a collaboration between biologists and physicists, Engreitz et al. showed that the three-dimensional organization of DNA in the cell nucleus may help explain certain chromosomal translocations linked to human disease.

Finally, using data from the Human Genome Diversity Project, Kirin et al. profiled the lengths and frequencies of DNA sequences that are identical on maternal and paternal chromosomes.  This large-scale analysis allowed the authors to make conclusions about historic and contemporary patterns of intra-communal parentage in different human populations.

If you are at the ASHG, we hope that you stop by the PLOS booth and meet some of the PLOS staff.  We will be at booth # 1606.  Also, if you have published in PLOS ONE, we have a stylish PLOS ONE author t-shirt to give you.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Acknowledgments:  Thank you to Martin Fenner for helping us with the article-level metrics analysis.  Thank you to Eric Martens and Matt Hodgkinson for designing the literature search and helping analyze the final results.  Finally, thank you to Camron Assadi for coordinating our efforts.

Image:  Valsesia A, Rimoldi D, Martinet D, Ibberson M, Benaglio P, et al. (2011) Network-Guided Analysis of Genes with Altered Somatic Copy Number and Gene Expression Reveals Pathways Commonly Perturbed in Metastatic Melanoma. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18369. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018369


Bell CG, Finer S, Lindgren CM, Wilson GA, Rakyan VK, et al. (2010) Integrated Genetic and Epigenetic Analysis Identifies Haplotype-Specific Methylation in the FTO Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity Susceptibility Locus. PLoS ONE 5(11): e14040. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014040

Engreitz JM, Agarwala V, Mirny LA (2012) Three-Dimensional Genome Architecture Influences Partner Selection for Chromosomal Translocations in Human Disease. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44196. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044196

Jones L, Holmans PA, Hamshere ML, Harold D, Moskvina V, et al. (2010) Genetic Evidence Implicates the Immune System and Cholesterol Metabolism in the Aetiology of Alzheimer’s Disease. PLoS ONE 5(11): e13950. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013950

Jun G, Moncaster JA, Koutras C, Seshadri S, Buros J, et al. (2012) ?-Catenin Is Genetically and Biologically Associated with Cortical Cataract and Future Alzheimer-Related Structural and Functional Brain Changes. PLoS ONE 7(9): e43728. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043728

Kirin M, McQuillan R, Franklin CS, Campbell H, McKeigue PM, et al. (2010) Genomic Runs of Homozygosity Record Population History and Consanguinity. PLoS ONE 5(11): e13996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013996

Nakano M, Ikeda Y, Tokuda Y, Fuwa M, Omi N, et al. (2012) Common Variants in CDKN2B-AS1 Associated with Optic-Nerve Vulnerability of Glaucoma Identified by Genome-Wide Association Studies in Japanese. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33389. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033389

Valsesia A, Rimoldi D, Martinet D, Ibberson M, Benaglio P, et al. (2011) Network-Guided Analysis of Genes with Altered Somatic Copy Number and Gene Expression Reveals Pathways Commonly Perturbed in Metastatic Melanoma. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18369. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018369

Zhang D, Qian Y, Akula N, Alliey-Rodriguez N, Tang J, et al. (2011) Accuracy of CNV Detection from GWAS Data. PLoS ONE 6(1): e14511. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014511