Faculty Member

Sleep-related problems (SRPs) among adolescents are a growing concern. Theory and research suggest that emotional arousal may have cyclical relation with SRPs, but whether emotional dysregulation plays a role is not clear. We investigated associations between two physiological indices of emotion regulation (video baseline heart rate variability and change in heart rate variability to a stressor) and SRPs in a sample of 80 adolescents (ages 11-17 years; 51% female; 37.5% African American). The findings showed a negative relation between video baseline heart rate variability and SRPs, controlling for non-sleep-related anxiety disorder symptoms (β = -0.29) and general manifest anxiety (β = -0.25). We found no relation between change in heart rate variability to a stressor and SRPs when non-sleep-related anxious arousal was controlled. If replicated, findings illustrate the importance of physiological regulation of emotion influencing (or influenced by) SRPs during adolescence.

Faculty Member

A large portion of reproductive-aged women report experiencing distressing premenstrual symptoms. These symptoms can be exacerbated by concurrent mood problems and contribute to long-term depressive risk. However, difficulty sleeping and regulating emotional responses are also associated with the premenstrual phase and represent additional, well-established risk factors for depression. The aim of this study was to investigate whether habitual sleep problems and emotion regulation strategies serve to mediate the relationship between mood and premenstrual symptoms in non-treatment-seeking young women. Participants included 265 adult women between the ages of 18 and 25 who provided retrospective self-reports of depressive symptoms, habitual sleep quality, and premenstrual symptoms for the past month. Trait-based difficulties in regulating emotions were also assessed. Greater depressive symptoms significantly predicted greater premenstrual symptoms and both poor sleep and ineffective emotion regulation were shown to mediate this relationship. Poor sleep may enhance experience of premenstrual symptoms via its well-established impact on physical, cognitive, and/or affective functioning. Similarly, an inability to effectively regulate emotional responses in general may exacerbate experience or perception of somatic and mood symptoms during the premenstrual period, contributing to mood disturbances and risk. Findings require replication in future studies using prospective designs and more diverse samples of women.

Faculty Member

Animals such as domestic dogs and zoo animals reside in close proximity to humans and could contribute to the dissemination of Clostridioides difficile spores which are common in the community environment. The purpose of this study was to assess C. difficile colonization in domestic dogs attending a day boarding facility and zoo animals receiving systemic antibiotics. Stool samples and paw swabs were collected from dogs who attended a day boarding facility. Stool samples were also collected from zoo animals starting systemic antibiotics. Finally, environmental samples were collected from nearby public parks. Stool samples and swabs were incubated anaerobically in enrichment broth for C. difficile growth, PCR was done to confirm presence of toxin genes, and PCR ribotyping was performed for strain characterization. During the study period, 136 dog stool samples were obtained, the paws of 16 dogs were swabbed, and 250 environmental swabs from surrounding public parks were obtained. Twenty-three of 136 dog stool samples (17%) and 9 of 16 dog paws sampled (56%) grew toxigenic C. difficile. One hundred and four stool samples from 49 zoo animals were collected of which 19 (18%) grew toxigenic C. difficile. Rates of toxigenic C. difficile colonization increased significantly during antibiotic therapy (33%) and then returned to baseline during the follow-up (11%) period (p = 0.019). Fifty-five of 250 environmental swabs from public parks (22%) grew toxigenic C. difficile. Ribotypes associated with human disease including 106 and 014-020 were isolated from all sources. This study demonstrated a high rate of toxigenic C. difficile colonization in domestic dogs and zoo animals with ribotypes similar to those causing human disease. These results demonstrate the relationship between humans, animals, and the environment in the dissemination of spores.

Faculty Member


To investigate the utility of a sensitive platform using electrochemiluminescence (ECL) for the identification of low-abundance urinary protein biomarkers in lupus nephritis (LN).


Forty-eight urine samples were obtained from subjects in 2 independent cohorts, each consisting of 3 groups (matched for age, sex, and race) of 8 patients with active LN (renal Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index [SLEDAI] >0), 8 patients with inactive SLE (renal SLEDAI 0), and 8 healthy controls. Samples were tested using a preexisting 40-plex ECL panel. A custom 5-plex ECL panel was then developed for further validation studies and used to test 140 urine samples (from 44 patients with active LN, 41 patients with inactive SLE, 28 healthy controls, and 27 patients with other kidney diseases).


Levels of 17 urinary proteins were elevated (P < 0.05 by 2-tailed Mann-Whitney U test) in samples from patients with active LN compared to samples from patients with inactive SLE and healthy controls in cohort 1, while 9 were similarly elevated in cohort 2. Of these, interleukin-7 (IL-7), IL-12p40, IL-15, interferon-γ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10), and thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) were chosen for further validation. These 5 proteins were undetectable by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Hence, a custom 5-plex ECL panel was developed and used to validate the results from the initial 40-plex screening panel. Urinary IL-7, IL-12p40, IL-15, IP-10, and TARC levels were again significantly elevated in patients with active LN compared to those with inactive SLE and healthy controls, and correlated well with the renal SLEDAI and physician's global assessment of disease activity (R > 0.67, P < 0.05). All 5 urinary proteins were more frequently elevated in LN compared to controls with other chronic kidney diseases, although overall group differences attained significance only for urinary IL-7 and IL-15.


Urinary levels of IL-7, IL-12p40, IL-15, IP-10, and TARC are potentially useful diagnostic tools in LN. The use of ECL assays may allow detection of urinary biomarkers that are below ELISA detection limits.

Faculty Member

Latinx smokers in the United States (U.S.) represent an understudied health disparities group in terms of tobacco use. Despite scientific interest to elucidate individual difference risk factors for smoking, there is limited understanding of how emotional dysregulation relates to smoking outcomes among Spanish-speaking Latinx smokers. The purpose of the present investigation was therefore to explore emotion dysregulation in relation to cigarette dependence, perceived barriers for quitting, and severity of problems experienced during prior quit attempts. Participants were 363 Spanish-speaking Latinx daily smokers (58.7% female, Mage = 33.3 years, SD = 9.81). Results indicated that emotion dysregulation was significantly related to cigarette dependence, perceived barriers for quitting, and problems experienced during past quit attempts. Notably, the effects accounted for 7% to 15% of variance and were evident after adjusting for gender, income, education, number of medical conditions, depression symptoms, non-alcohol drug use, and alcohol consumption. The findings provide novel evidence that emotion dysregulation may represent an important individual difference factor for better understanding smoking-related outcomes among Latinx smokers and supports the need for greater attention to this affective vulnerability during smoking cessation treatment.

Vitamin D3 is known to be a key component in the defense against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection through the regulation of cytokine and effector molecules. Conversely, alcohol exposure has been recognized as an immune dysregulator. Macrophages were extracted from D3 deficient and sufficient diet mice and supplemented with D3 or exposed to ethanol during ex vivo infection using M. bovis BCG, as a surrogate for Mtb. Results of our study indicate that while exogenous supplementation or alcohol exposure did alter immune response, in vivo diet was the greatest determinant of cytokine and effector molecule production. Alcohol exposure was found to profoundly dysregulate primary murine macrophages, with ethanol-exposed cells generally characterized as hyper- or hyporesponsive. Exogenous D3 supplementation had a normative effect for diet deficient host, however supplementation was not sufficient to compensate for the effects of diet deficiency. Vitamin D3 sufficient diet resulted in reduced cell cytotoxicity for the majority of time points. Results provide insight into the ramifications of both the individual and combined health risks of D3 deficiency or alcohol exposure. Given the clinical relevance of D3 deficiency and alcohol use comorbidities, outcomes of this study have implications in therapeutic approaches for the treatment of tuberculosis disease.

Faculty Member

Objective: Sleep-related problems (SRPs) are associated with increased risk for suicide-related behavior and death. Given that Black adults report greater SRPs as compared to White adults, the purpose of the current study was to examine sleep problems, suicide-related psychiatric admission, and suicide ideation, in Black and White trauma-exposed adults.

Method: Suicide-related behavior (i.e., intent, plan, and/or behavior) as reason for hospital admission was obtained via medical records review for 172 Black and White adults who were admitted to an acute-care psychiatric facility; all participants completed validated measures of sleep quality and suicide ideation.

Results: Adjusted logistic regression analyses revealed that sleep-related daytime dysfunction (AOR = 4.32, p < .05) and poor sleep quality (AOR = 3.64, p < .05) were associated with significantly increased odds that Black participants were admitted for suicide-related psychiatric care. Poorer sleep quality (AOR = 2.10, p < .05) was also associated with increased odds of suicide-related admission among White participants. However, shorter sleep duration was marginally associated with suicide ideation in Black participants only.

Conclusions: SRPs may be related to suicide-related behavior and ideation differently for vulnerable Black and White adults. More research is needed to understand potential race group differences and mechanisms by which SRPs increase risk for suicide crisis across racial groups.

Keywords: Ethnicity; Race; Sleep; Suicide; Trauma.

Faculty Member

The study sought to assess awareness, perceptions, and value of telehealth in primary care from the perspective of patients. Telehealth users reported that they relied on live video for enhanced access and were less connected to primary care than nonusers were. Telehealth may expand service access but risks further fragmentation of care and undermining of the primary care function absent better coordination and information sharing with usual sources of patients’ care.

Faculty Member

This study examines the association between frequency of seeing people walk within sight of home and neighborhood social cohesion among adults, and whether this association varies by race/ethnicity. People seeing others walk every day and every 2-3 days were significantly more likely to report medium levels of neighborhood social cohesion, relative to seeing others with low frequency. The association between seeing people walk and neighborhood social cohesion varied by race/ethnicity. Higher frequency of seeing others walk may contribute to higher levels of neighborhood social cohesion.

Food insecurity is associated with mental health outcomes among adults experiencing homelessness. Different mechanistic explanations have emerged to account for the inequality of health outcomes among vulnerable populations. The neomaterial theoretical perspective suggests that nutritional deficiencies from experiencing food insecurity are related to negative health outcomes. Whereas, the psychosocial theoretical perspective indicates that perceived disadvantages or inability to cope emotionally (i.e. lower distress tolerance) from food insecurity leads to adverse health outcomes. Building on the these theoretical perspectives, the purpose of the study was to examine nutrition and emotional distress tolerance as potential links between food insecurity and poor physical and mental health among adults experiencing homelessness. Adults were recruited from six area shelters in Oklahoma City (N = 566) during July–August 2016. Self-rated poor health, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were regressed on food insecurity using logistic regressions. Indirect effects of nutrition and distress tolerance were assessed using bootstrapping methods outlined by Preacher and Hayes. In covariate-adjusted models, distress tolerance, but not nutrition, partially mediated the association between food insecurity and poor health (β = 0.28, [0.14, 0.44]), depression (β = 0.56, [0.33, 0.88]), and PTSD (β = 0.39, [0.22, 0.60]). Results suggest that experiencing food insecurity may lower the ability to withstand emotional distress and consequently contributes to negative health outcomes. Accessible fruit bowls and a 24-h pantry stocked with snacks and ready-to-go meals may assist in reducing the stress associated with receiving food in shelters.