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עמוד בית
Sat, 25.05.24

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February 2024
Yoad M. Dvir, Arnon Blum MD MSc

In this special issue of Israel Medical Association Journal (IMAJ) we expose readers to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine. AI has become a powerful tool, which enables healthcare professionals to personalize treatment based on many factors, including genetic analyses of tumors, and to consider other co-morbidities affecting a specific patient. AI gives physicians the ability to analyze huge amounts of data and to combine data from different sources. AI can be implemented make a diagnosis based on computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans using deep machine learning and data that are stored in the memory of mega computers. AI assists in tailoring more precise surgery to train surgeons before surgery and to support surgeons during procedures. This advancement may benefit surgical procedures by making them more accurate and faster without cutting unnecessary tissues (e.g., nerves and blood vessels); thus, patients face fewer complications, lower rates of infection, and more operation theater time. In this issue, we include three original studies that describe the use of AI in academia and eight review articles that discuss applications of AI in different specialties in medicine. One of the review articles addresses ethical issues and concerns that are raised due to the more advanced use of AI in medicine.

September 2023
Arnon Blum MD MSc

I read with great interest the important paper describing silicone breast illness as a classic example of autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvant (ASIA) [1]. I would like to add from our experience another side effect of breast implant: silicone granulomatous lymphadenopathy [2].

February 2023
Nizar Horrany MD, Wadie Abu Dahoud MD, Yara Moallem MD, Taleb Hajouj MD, Merna Zreik MD, Arnon Blum MD

Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Metformin is an old, relatively safe, first line therapy for T2DM; however, it has been associated with stroke.

Objectives: To study the effects of metformin use and vitamin B12 deficiency on stroke rate among patients with T2DM.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study of patients admitted with ischemic stroke within 12 months (starting March 2020). We studied the clinical impact of metformin on vitamin B12 deficiency and stroke evolution. Student's t-test and ANOVA were used to compare the groups of patients and to determine whether there was any direct or indirect effect of metformin use on vitamin B12 deficiency and stroke.

Results: In total, 80 patients were admitted with ischemic stroke. Clinical status and biochemical data were collected and compared with healthy volunteers. There were 39 diabetic patients, 16 took metformin for at least 1 year. Among those who took metformin for at least 1 year, 9 had vitamin B12 level < 240 pg/ml (56.2%); 23 diabetic patients did not get metformin and only 4 had vitamin B12 level < 240 pg/ml (17.4%) (P = 0.014).

Conclusions: T2DM is a significant risk factor to the development of ischemic stroke. We found an association between metformin use and vitamin B12 deficiency and an association between vitamin B12 deficiency and stroke risk in patients with T2DM. Diabetic patients who are taking metformin should monitor their vitamin B12 level.

February 2021
Nagham Gudban MSc, Itamar Yehuda PhD, William Nasir MD, Soboh Soboh MD, Snait Tamir PhD, and Arnon Blum MD

Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have a high rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The Mediterranean diet is preferred for CVD prevention. Endothelial dysfunction is demonstrated early in T2DM.

Objectives: To study the effects of dietary intervention of T2DM patients without known CVD on endothelial function and vascular inflammation.

Methods: A prospective study enrolled 22 patients with T2DM. Patients were divided randomly into two groups: an intervention group with 12 patients (55 ± 7 years old, 6 women) and a control group with 10 patients (59 ± 10 years old, 5 women). Clinical evaluation included body mass index (BMI) and endothelial function measured by the flow mediated percent change (FMD%). Fasting blood was drawn on entry to the study and 3 months later, measuring C-reactive protein (CRP), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), total cholesterol, triglycerides, and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C%). The intervention was based on weekly telephone calls by a clinical dietitian for 3 months.

Results: In the intervention group CRP and ICAM-1 were reduced (from 4.2 ± 3.3 mg/dl to 0.4 ± 0.5 mg/dl, P = 0.01 and from 258.6 ± 98.3 ng/ml to 171.6 ± 47.7 ng/ml, P = 0.004). Endothelial function (FMD%) was improved (from 0.5 ± 8.0% to 9.5 ± 11.5%, P = 0.014). No change was observed in BMI, HbA1C%, total cholesterol, and triglycerides levels in either group.

Conclusions: Patients with T2DM on the Mediterranean diet who received a weekly telephone call for 3 months improved their endothelial function with reduction of markers of inflammation.

October 2020
Naama Garmi MD, Suheil Nasrallah MD, Yacov Baram MD, Adina Katz BSc, Avishai Koren, Maya First MSc and Arnon Blum MD

Background: An association was shown between thrombocytosis and future development of several cancers.

Objectives: To investigate whether pre-treatment platelet counts correlated with clinical outcomes of patients with breast cancer.

Methods: This retrospective study included 22 patients who had been diagnosed with stage I breast cancer and were 66.8 ± 13.2 years of age. Of these, 22 with stage II were 61.6 ± 12.3 years old and 9 with stage III and IV were 64.4 ± 15.3 years old. Clinical and hematological data from the first visit to the oncology clinic were collected. The follow-up period was 12 months to 5 years.

Results: A significant difference in platelet counts was found between patients who died (187,000 ± 4000 µ/L) and those who were disease free for 5 years (248,000 ± 83,000 µ/L, P = 0.0001). A significant difference in platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio was found between patients who died and those with recurrence (192 ± 81 vs. 124 ± 71, P = 0.01). A negative correlation was found between age and lymph nodes (Ps = -0.305, P = 0.02) and staging and white blood cells count (Ps = -0.280, P = 0.04). A positive correlation was found between clinical staging and lymph nodes (Ps = 0.443, P = 0.001) and clinical staging and metastases (P = 0.308, P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Platelet counts may be a prognostic marker for breast cancer. Patients who died within 1 year had lower pre-treatment platelet count, which could represent an insidious disseminated intravascular coagulopathy cancer related consumption process.

June 2020
Mohammad Adawi MD, Tair Abu-Gabel MD, Firas Sabbah MD, Itamar Yehuda PhD, Snait Tamir PhD and Arnon Blum MD

Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more frequent in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) compared with age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. SLE is an autoimmune disease that is more prevalent in women (9:1). Women tend to develop CVD in post-menopausal years; however, women with SLE may develop endothelial dysfunction and CVD at a younger age in the pre-menopausal years.

Objectives: To study the endothelial function of adult-onset SLE patients from the north of Israel (the Galilee region) and to determine whether modern management (including biological treatments) changes the risk of developing CVD.

Methods: Thirteen females with adult-onset SLE without renal involvement were recruited to this prospective study. Clinical parameters (age, height, body mass index [BMI]), laboratory parameters (C-reactive protein [CRP] and hemoglobin level), and vascular responsiveness (flow mediated diameter percent change [FMD%]) were evaluated and compared to 11 age-matched healthy females. Student's t-test was used to find differences between the two groups.

Results: No difference was observed in adult-onset SLE female patients and their age- and sex-matched controls with regard to age (42.1 ± 11.8 years vs. 36.6 ± 10.8 years, P = NS), BMI (25 ± 1.8 kg/m2 vs. 25 ± 2.5 kg/m2, P = NS), and hemoglobin level (11.9 ± 0.9 gr% vs. 12.7 ± 1.2 gr%, P = NS). However, a significant difference was found in CRP (2.57 ± 2.2 mg vs. 0.60 ± 0.37 mg, P = 0.001), vascular responsiveness (0.94 ± 6.6 FMD% vs. 9.2 ± 8.1 FMD%, P = 0.012), and height (165.7 ± 4.5 cm vs. 171.6 ± 5.8 cm, P = 0.009).

Conclusions: Adult-onset SLE females had impaired endothelial function even though they were treated by modern protocols.

July 2019
Mohammad Adawi MD MHA, Sabbah Firas MD and Arnon Blum MD

Inflammation is the basic mechanism leading to many pathological processes, including degenerative diseases, atherosclerosis, and cancer. We found an interesting link connecting rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis that may explain the high cardiovascular event rate among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but also may lead to a new way of thinking and a better understanding of atherosclerosis. Rheumatoid arthritis could serve as a model of accelerated atherosclerosis. Understanding the basic mechanisms of rheumatoid arthritis may solve some of the complexity of atherosclerosis.

June 2019
Alex Konstantinovsky MD, Snait Tamir PhD, Giora Katz MD, Orna Tzischinsky PhD, Nina Kuchersky MD, Nava Blum PhD and Arnon Blum MD

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a syndrome associated with endothelial dysfunction, which may predict cardiovascular events in men presenting with this syndrome. It has been shown to be associated with a higher rate of acute myocardial infarction and cardiovascular mortality, vascular inflammation, and impaired endothelial function. In this review we present the literature findings and describe the mechanistic pathways that are known to be involved in this syndrome and its related clinical consequences.

February 2019
Arnon Blum MD, Nina Pastukh MSc, Rizak Sirchan MA, Nava Blum PhD, Lev Chernikoff MD and Vladimir Vaispapir MD

Background: Endothelial progenitor cells may have a role in ongoing endothelial repair. Impaired mobilization or depletion of these cells may contribute to progression of vascular disease. Our hypothesis was that endothelial progenitor cells would be suppressed in patients with acute cerebrovascular event based on our previous study that found severe endothelial dysfunction in those patients.

Objectives: To study the ability of patients with acute stroke to build colonies of endothelial progenitor cells.

Methods: We studied the number of colony-forming units of endothelial progenitor cells (CFU-EPCs) from the peripheral blood of 22 male patients with a first-time acute stroke (age 58.09 ± 9.8 years) and 13 healthy men (34 ± 6.7 years), 8 female patients with a first-time acute stroke (54.6 ± 10.3 years) and 6 healthy women (38.3 ± 11.6 years). Endothelium-dependent function was assessed by high-resolution ultrasonography of the brachial artery that measured the change in diameter of the artery by flow-mediated diameter percent change (FMD%). All patients had strokes demonstrated by a brain computed tomography (CT) scan done on admission. Peripheral blood was drawn soon after admission and was processed for endothelial progenitor cells in culture.

Results: Thirty patients without known cardiovascular risk factors and who did not take any medications were admitted with a first-time acute stroke. All demonstrated a strong correlation between CFU-EPCs grown in culture and endothelial dysfunction (r = 0.827, P < 0.01). Endothelial dysfunction with an FMD% of -2.2 ± 9.7% was noted in male patients vs. 17.5 ± 6.8% in healthy males (P = 0.0001), and -7.2 ± 10.1% in female patients vs. 25.1 ± 7.1% in healthy females (P = 0.0001). CFU-EPCs were 5.5 ± 6.3 in men with stroke vs. 23.75 ± 5.3 in healthy males (P = 0.0001), and 7.6 ± 4.9 in women with stroke vs. 22.25 ± 6.7 in healthy females (P = 0.0004).

Conclusions: Patients with acute stroke had an impaired ability to grow CFU-EPCs in culture and exhibited endothelial dysfunction. The novelty of this study was the discovery of the phenomenon of depressed numbers of EPCs and the poor ability to grow colonies of EPCs in the first 24 hours of the cerebrovascular event.

October 2017
Arnon Blum MD, Hila Yehuda MSc, Nissim Geron MD and Ari Meerson PhD

Background: Weight loss surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity, and it reduces cardiovascular and cancer risk through poorly understood mechanisms. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short RNA molecules that regulate the stability and translation of many mRNAs. We hypothesized that levels of specific circulating miRNAs are altered following surgery and may contribute to lower cancer risk.

Objectives: To investigate the change of miRNA following surgery.

Methods: All patients underwent gastric “sleeve operation”. RNA was isolated from sera of 21 patients (14 men, 7 women) before and 3 months after surgery. Sera were combined into two pools, which served for cDNA library construction followed by miSeq sequencing. The levels of candidate miRNAs were validated in the individual samples by QRT-PCR.

Results: Serum miR-122 was significantly up-regulated 3 months post-bariatric surgery in sera of patients, whose endothelial function had greatly improved. In addition, serum miR-122 levels correlated positively with endothelial function as measured by FMD. The changes in miR-122 levels from pre-surgery to 3 months post-surgery also tended to correlate with the respective changes in FMD.

Conclusions: The serum miR-122/miR-451 ratio may serve as a marker for endothelial function in obese patients. miR-122 is the dominant miRNA in the liver and a known tumor suppressor. Our findings suggest a role for circulating miR-122 in the maintenance of vascular endothelial cells (VECs) and in the prevention of cancer. Further studies are required to elucidate the mechanism of its secretion into circulation and its absorption by VECs, as well as its relevant cellular targets.

February 2017
Suleiman Kriem MD, Avi Peretz PhD and Arnon Blum MD
August 2014
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