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Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Sustainability, Volume 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031102

Abstract:
The basic concept of seismic building design is to ensure the ductility and sufficient energy dissipation of the entire system. The combination of wood and bearing glass represents a design in which each material transmits the load, and with the mutual and simultaneous interaction of the constituent elements, it is also earthquake resistant. Such a system has been developed so that the glass directly relies on the wooden frame, which allows the load to be transferred by contact and the friction force between the two of materials. Within the seismic load, friction between glass and wood is an important factor that affects both the behavior and performance of a wood–glass composite system. The set-up system consists of a single specimen of laminated or insulating glass embedded between two CLT elements. The friction force was determined at the CLT–glass contact surface for a certain lateral pressure, i.e., normal force. Friction depends on the way the elements (especially glass) are processed, as well as on the lateral load introduced into the system. Conducted experimental research was accompanied by numerical analyses. Experimental research was confirmed by numerical simulations.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Free-roaming dogs are a worldwide problem, with Chile having some of the highest human-to-dog ratios in the world. In 2017, Law 21.020 was promulgated and the federal government developed a national responsible pet ownership program. The objectives of this article are to describe and discuss the dog-related components of the program, to design a tool for determining human-to-dog ratios in Chile, and to make recommendations to managers to improve the program outcomes. The overarching goal of the program was to mitigate the conflict between humans and dogs, but many of the interventions were animal-focused and the indicators did not consider the perception of the Chilean public. Using human density data and known dog populations, we found that as the human density increased, there were fewer dogs per person. Veterinary services and sterilizations were the mainstay of the program and were offered for free to citizens. Education was offered to all ages through public events, as well as municipality and organization activities. The identification of dogs was obligatory for dog owners. Enforcement was not included in the program. The recommendations are to conduct preintervention baseline data collections and to tailor interventions and indicators appropriately; to use dog population size estimates determined at the local level rather than a country-wide estimate; to replace free veterinary services with low-cost sterilization campaigns; to create sustainable plans for education; and to create enforcement teams in communities.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Sensors, Volume 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22030730

Abstract:
There is no doubt that new technology has become one of the crucial parts of most people’s lives around the world. By and large, in this era, the Internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become the most indispensable parts of our lives. Recently, IoT technologies have been regarded as the most broadly used tools among other technologies. The tools and the facilities of IoT technologies within the marketplace are part of Industry 4.0. The marketplace is too regarded as a new area that can be used with IoT technologies. One of the main purposes of this paper is to highlight using IoT technologies in Industry 4.0, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is another feature revised. This paper focuses on the value of the IoT in the industrial domain in general; it reviews the IoT and focuses on its benefits and drawbacks, and presents some of the IoT applications, such as in transportation and healthcare. In addition, the trends and facts that are related to the IoT technologies on the marketplace are reviewed. Finally, the role of IoT in telemedicine and healthcare and the benefits of IoT technologies for COVID-19 are presented as well.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
With the internationalization of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) and the increasing use of herbal medicines around the world, there are concerns over their safety. In recent years, there have been some sporadic reports of pesticide residues in Chuanxiong Rhizoma (CX), although the lack of systematic and comprehensive analyses of pesticide residues and evaluations of toxicological risks in human health has increased the uncertainty of the potential effects of pesticides exposure in humans. This study aimed to clarify the status of pesticide residues and to determine the health risks of pesticide residues in CX. The findings of this study revealed that 99 batches of CX samples contained pesticide residues ranging from 0.05 to 3013.17 μg/kg. Here, 6–22 kinds of pesticides were detected in each sample. Prometryn, carbendazim, dimethomorph, chlorpyrifos, chlorantraniliprole, pyraclostrobin, and paclobutrazol were the most frequently detected pesticides, with detection rates of 68.69–100%. Insecticides and fungicides accounted for 43.23% and 37.84% of the total pesticides detected, respectively. Here, 86.87% of the pesticide content levels were lower than 50 μg/kg, and a small number of samples contained carbofuran, dimethoate, and isofenphos-methyl exceeding the maximum residue levels (MRLs). A risk assessment based on the hazard quotient/hazard index (HQ/HI) approach revealed that the short-term, long-term, and cumulative risks of pesticide residues in CX are well below the levels that may pose a health risk. Worryingly, six banned pesticides (carbofuran, phorate sulfone, phorate-sulfoxide, isofenphos-methyl, terbufos-sulfone, and terbufoxon sulfoxide) were detected. This study has improved our understanding of the potential exposure risk of pesticide multi-residues in CX. The results of the study will have a positive impact on improving the quality and safety of CX and the development of MRLs for pesticide residues.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Energies, Volume 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15030702

Abstract:
Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries can provide at least three times higher energy density than lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries. However, Li-S batteries suffer from a phenomenon called the polysulfide shuttle (PSS) that prevents the commercialization of these batteries. The PSS has several undesirable effects, such as depletion of active materials from the cathode, deleterious reactions between the lithium anode and electrolyte soluble lithium polysulfides, resulting in unfavorable coulombic efficiency, and poor cycle life of the battery. In this study, a new sulfur cathode composed of graphitic nitride as the polysulfide absorbing material and reduced graphene oxide as the conductive carbon host has been synthesized to rectify the problems associated with the PSS effect. This composite cathode design effectively retains lithium polysulfide intermediates within the cathode structure. The [email protected]/GN cathode displayed excellent capacity retention compared to similar RGO-based sulfur cathodes published by other groups by delivering an initial specific capacity of 1415 mA h g−1 at 0.2 C. In addition, the long-term cycling stability was outstanding (capacity decay at the rate of only 0.2% per cycle after 150 cycles).
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Applied Sciences, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12030981

Abstract:
Environmental noise has become one of the principal health risks for urban dwellers and road traffic noise (RTN) is considered to be the main source of these adverse effects. To address this problem, strategic noise maps and corresponding action plans have been developed throughout Europe in recent years in response to the European Noise Directive 2002/49/EC (END), especially in populated cities. Recently, wireless acoustic sensor networks (WASNs) have started to serve as an alternative to static noise maps to monitor urban areas by gathering environmental noise data in real time. Several studies have analysed and categorized the different acoustic environments described in the END (e.g., traffic, industrial, leisure, etc.). However, most of them have only considered the dynamic evolution of the A-weighted equivalent noise levels LAeq over different periods of time. In order to focus on the analysis of RTN solely, this paper introduces a clustering methodology to analyse and group spectro-temporal profiles of RTN collected simultaneously across an area of interest. The experiments were conducted on two acoustic databases collected during a weekday and a weekend day through WASNs deployed in the pilot areas of the LIFE+ DYNAMAP project. The results obtained show that the clustering of RTN, based on its spectro-temporal patterns, yields different solutions on weekdays and at weekends in both environments, being larger than those found in the suburban environment and lower than the number of clusters in the urban scenario.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive brain tumors, characterized by a pronounced redox imbalance, expressed in a high oxidative capacity of cancer cells due to their elevated glycolytic and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. The assessment and modulation of the redox state of glioblastoma are crucial factors that can provide highly specific targeting and treatment. Our study describes a pharmacological strategy for targeting glioblastoma using a redox-active combination drug. The experiments were conducted in vivo on glioblastoma mice (intracranial model) and in vitro on cell lines (cancer and normal) treated with the redox cycling pair menadione/ascorbate (M/A). The following parameters were analyzed in vivo using MRI or ex vivo on tissue and blood specimens: tumor growth, survival, cerebral perfusion, cellular density, tissue redox state, expression of tumor-associated NADH oxidase (tNOX) and transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1). Dose-dependent effects of M/A on cell viability, mitochondrial functionality, and redox homeostasis were evaluated in vitro. M/A treatment suppressed tumor growth and significantly increased survival without adverse side effects. This was accompanied by increased oxidative stress, decreased reducing capacity, and decreased cellular density in the tumor only, as well as increased cerebral perfusion and down-regulation of tNOX and TGF-β1. M/A induced selective cytotoxicity and overproduction of mitochondrial superoxide in isolated glioblastoma cells, but not in normal microglial cells. This was accompanied by a significant decrease in the over-reduced state of cancer cells and impairment of their “pro-oncogenic” functionality, assessed by dose-dependent decreases in: NADH, NAD+, succinate, glutathione, cellular reducing capacity, mitochondrial potential, steady-state ATP, and tNOX expression. The safety of M/A on normal cells was compromised by treatment with cerivastatin, a non-specific prenyltransferase inhibitor. In conclusion, M/A differentiates glioblastoma cells and tissues from normal cells and tissues by redox targeting, causing severe oxidative stress only in the tumor. The mechanism is complex and most likely involves prenylation of menadione in normal cells, but not in cancer cells, modulation of the immune response, a decrease in drug resistance, and a potential role in sensitizing glioblastoma to conventional chemotherapy.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Sensors, Volume 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22030732

Abstract:
The present work aimed to analyze, through the GlutenFreeDiet digital platform, the evolution over one year of the nutritional status, dietary profile and symptoms present among celiac people on a gluten-free diet (GFD) while receiving individualized dietary advice. Twenty-seven adults and thirty-one celiac children/adolescents participated in the study. This was then followed up by three visits, at diagnosis, and after 3 and 12 months (vt0, vt3 and vt12). Participants filled out dietary and gastrointestinal symptoms questionnaires. All patients received written personalized dietary advice from dietitians who interpreted data from the platform. Results obtained indicated that participants consumed proteins and lipids in excess and carbohydrates in defect. Low intakes of cereals, fruit and vegetables and high meat intakes were observed. However, gluten-free product (GFP) consumption and that of ultra-processed foods was reduced after 1 year in adults. Symptoms decreased after vt3 but recurred in vt12. Changes in ultra-processed foods and GFP intake, but lack of changes in the rest of the parameters suggested that the platform support was not effective enough. Even though the platform represents a useful tool for monitoring celiac patients and giving dietary advice, modules that require more continuous attention and nutritional education of patients should be provided for interventions to be more effective.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
We report a family with heterozygous deletion of exons 3–6 of the LMNA gene. The main presentation of affected family members was characterized by ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias, atrioventricular (AV) block and sudden cardiac death (SCD) but also by severe dilative cardiomyopathy (DCM). We report on two siblings, a 36-year-old female and her 40-year-old brother, who suffer from heart failure with mildly reduced ejection fraction, AV conduction delays and premature ventricular complexes. Their 65-year-old mother underwent heart transplantation at the age of 55 due to advanced heart failure. Originally, the LMNA mutation was detected in one of the uncles. This index patient and three of his brothers died of SCD as well as their father and aunt. The two siblings were treated with implanted defibrillators in our specialized tertiary heart failure center. This case report places this specific genetic variant in the context of LMNA-associated familial DCM.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031066

Abstract:
The information on the outpatient expenditure of patients with oromaxillofacial cancer is minimal. This study aimed to compare the average annual expenditure on dental treatment for these patients 5 years before and 5 years after oromaxillofacial cancer diagnosis. In this study, 7731 patients who received oromaxillofacial cancer diagnosis in 2005 were selected from the Registry of Catastrophic Illness Database as the case-cohort. In the control cohort, 38,655 people without cancer were selected from the National Health Insurance Research Database, with the case–control ratio being 1:5. All participants were observed for 5 years before diagnosis and 5 years after diagnosis. The conditional logistic regression model was used to determine the odds ratios of annual expenditures incurred by participants in the case-cohort. The measurement results indicated that in the oromaxillofacial cancer cohort, the average annual dental expenditure levels at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 years after diagnosis were US $97.34, US $77.23, US $109.65, US $128.43, and US $128.03 and those at these years before diagnosis were US $37.52, US $32.10, US $31.86, US $29.14, and US $29.35, respectively. In conclusion, the average annual expenditure on the dental treatment of oromaxillofacial cancer patients after five years of diagnosis was increased compared to five years before diagnosis.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Mutation is the driving force of species evolution, which may change the genetic information of organisms and obtain selective competitive advantages to adapt to environmental changes. It may change the structure or function of translated proteins, and cause abnormal cell operation, a variety of diseases and even cancer. Therefore, it is particularly important to identify gene regions with high mutations. Mutations will cause changes in nucleotide distribution, which can be characterized by natural vectors globally. Based on natural vectors, we propose a mathematical formula for measuring the difference in nucleotide distribution over time to investigate the mutations of human immunodeficiency virus. The studied dataset is from public databases and includes gene sequences from twenty HIV-infected patients. The results show that the mutation rate of the nine major genes or gene segment regions in the genome exhibits discrepancy during the infected period, and the Env gene has the fastest mutation rate. We deduce that the peak of virus mutation has a close temporal relationship with viral divergence and diversity. The mutation study of HIV is of great significance to clinical diagnosis and drug design.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The enormous environmental problems that arise from organic waste have increased due to the significant population increase worldwide. Microbial fuel cells provide a novel solution for the use of waste as fuel for electricity generation. In this investigation, onion waste was used, and managed to generate maximum peaks of 4.459 ± 0.0608 mA and 0.991 ± 0.02 V of current and voltage, respectively. The conductivity values increased rapidly to 179,987 ± 2859 mS/cm, while the optimal pH in which the most significant current was generated was 6968 ± 0.286, and the ° Brix values decreased rapidly due to the degradation of organic matter. The microbial fuel cells showed a low internal resistance (154,389 ± 5228 Ω), with a power density of 595.69 ± 15.05 mW/cm2 at a current density of 6.02 A/cm2; these values are higher than those reported by other authors in the literature. The diffractogram spectra of the onion debris from FTIR show a decrease in the most intense peaks, compared to the initial ones with the final ones. It was possible to identify the species Pseudomona eruginosa, Acinetobacter bereziniae, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Yarrowia lipolytica adhered to the anode electrode at the end of the monitoring using the molecular technique.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Copper nanoparticles (CuNPs) have been widely used in various industrial and commercial applications, which become a potential threat to aquatic organisms. Nevertheless, their potential toxicity to the epididymis and sperm remains little known. In this study, we evaluated the effect of CuNPs and copper ions (CuSO4) on the spermatozoa viability, epididymal structure, antioxidant enzyme activity, and inflammatory cytokines in cauda epididymis of the Chinese soft-shelled turtle. Results showed that the spermatozoa viability of Chinese soft-shelled turtles decreased significantly with an increase in CuNPs or Cu ions concentrations. The epithelial cells of the epididymal duct of the Chinese soft-shelled turtles with the treatment of 5 mg kg−1 CuNPs were slightly swollen, and the connective tissue between the epididymal ducts was loose. The epithelial structure of the epididymal tube was severely damaged with an increase in Cu ion concentrations. Compared to the control, the antioxidative enzymes activities and the expression of IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-6 mRNA in the epididymis significantly increased with the treatment of CuNPs or CuSO4. The present study revealed that Cu ions exert more harmful effect on the epididymis and spermatozoa viability of Chinese soft-shelled turtles than copper nanoparticles.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Increased world energy demand necessitates looking for appropriate alternatives to oil and fossil fuel. Countries encourage institutions and households to create their own photovoltaic (PV) systems to reduce spending money in electricity sectors and address environmental issues. Due to high solar radiation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the government urges people and institutions to establish PV systems as the best promising renewable energy resource in the country. This paper presents an optimal and complete design of a 300 kW PV system installed in a limited rooftop area to feed the needs of the Ministry of Electricity building, which has a high energy consumption. The design has been suggested for two scenarios in terms of adjusting the orientation angles. The available rooftop area allowed to be used is insufficient if a tilt angle of 22o is used, suggested by the designer, so the tilt angle has been adjusted from 22o to 15o to accommodate the available area and meet the required demand with a minimum shading effect. The authors of this paper propose a modified scenario “third scenario” which accommodates the available area and provides more energy than the installed “second scenario”. The proposed panel distribution and the estimated energy for all scenarios are presented in the paper. The possibility of changing tilt angles and the extent of energy production variations are also discussed. Finally, a comparative study between measured and simulated energy is included. The results show that August has the lowest percentage error, with a value of 2.7%, while the highest percentage error was noticed in November.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Entropy, Volume 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/e24020146

Abstract:
The stock index is an important indicator to measure stock market fluctuation, with a guiding role for investors’ decision-making, thus being the object of much research. However, the stock market is affected by uncertainty and volatility, making accurate prediction a challenging task. We propose a new stock index forecasting model based on time series decomposition and a hybrid model. Complete Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition with Adaptive Noise (CEEMDAN) decomposes the stock index into a series of Intrinsic Mode Functions (IMFs) with different feature scales and trend term. The Augmented Dickey Fuller (ADF) method judges the stability of each IMFs and trend term. The Autoregressive Moving Average (ARMA) model is used on stationary time series, and a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) model extracts abstract features of unstable time series. The predicted results of each time sequence are reconstructed to obtain the final predicted value. Experiments are conducted on four stock index time series, and the results show that the prediction of the proposed model is closer to the real value than that of seven reference models, and has a good quantitative investment reference value.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Micromachines, Volume 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13020147

Abstract:
Direct conversion of X-ray irradiation using a semiconductor material is an emerging technology in medical and material sciences. Existing technologies face problems, such as sensitivity or resilience. Here, we describe a novel class of X-ray sensors based on GaN thin film and GaN/AlGaN high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs), a promising enabling technology in the modern world of GaN devices for high power, high temperature, high frequency, optoelectronic, and military/space applications. The GaN/AlGaN HEMT-based X-ray sensors offer superior performance, as evidenced by higher sensitivity due to intensification of electrons in the two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG), by ionizing radiation. This increase in detector sensitivity, by a factor of 104 compared to GaN thin film, now offers the opportunity to reduce health risks associated with the steady increase in CT scans in today’s medicine, and the associated increase in exposure to harmful ionizing radiation, by introducing GaN/AlGaN sensors into X-ray imaging devices, for the benefit of the patient.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is a rare disease observed in a small proportion of patients after acute pulmonary embolism (PE). CTEPH has a high morbidity and mortality rate, related to the PH severity, and a poor prognosis, which mirrors the right ventricular dysfunction involvement. Pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) reduces pulmonary vascular resistance, making it the treatment of choice and should be offered to operable CTEPH patients, as significant symptomatic and prognostic improvement has been observed. Moreover, these patients may also benefit from the advances made in surgical techniques and pulmonary hypertension-specific medication. However, not all patients are eligible for PEA surgery, as some have either distal pulmonary vascular obstruction and/or significant comorbidities. Therefore, surgical candidates should be carefully selected by an interprofessional team in expert centers. This review aims at making an overview of the risk factors and latest developments in diagnostic tools and treatment options for CTEPH.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Severe infectious complications remain the main cause of mortality in leukemia patients due to a long period of profound neutropenia. Standardized regimens for antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral prophylaxis and therapy in neutropenic patients have improved infection-associated mortality. Nevertheless, many patients are refractory to these multidrug approaches. Tigecycline is a last-resort antibiotic with a broad-spectrum activity; unfortunately, clinical experience in multidrug-resistant febrile neutropenia is limited. The aim was to evaluate the efficacy of tigecycline treatment in comparison to standard treatment in this patient cohort. In this single center analysis, we analyzed the clinical courses of 73 patients with acute leukemia and diagnosis of febrile neutropenia resistant to hospital-based multidrug escalation levels who continued on a standard approach without antibiotics as the last resort (n = 30) or were switched to tigecycline in addition to carbapenem treatment (n = 43). We observed comparable overall response rates (decrease in C-reactive protein or resolution of fever) in both patient cohorts. Switching the antibiotic approach to tigecycline showed lower absolute sepsis (33% vs. 47%, p = 0.235) and infection-associated mortality rates (5% vs. 13%, p = 0.221). Prospective larger randomized studies are necessary to underline these results and to be able to generate reliable statistics.
Muhammad Ali, Mirit K. Grabarski, Alison M. Konrad
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management; https://doi.org/10.1108/ijchm-05-2021-0551

Abstract:
Purpose: This study aims to investigate the impact of women’s representation at one hierarchical level on women’s representation above or below that level. No past research investigated these effects in the hospitality and tourism industries. The mixed results of research in other industries and across industries demand tests of curvilinearity and moderators. Design/methodology/approach: Using annual equality reports, a panel data set for 2010–2019 was created for the hospitality and tourism industries. The sample of 581 organizations had up to 5,810 observations over the 10 years. Findings: The analyses show the following effects of women’s representation: an inverted U-shape from management to non-management, a U-shape from non-management to management and a U-shape from management to the executive team, with more pronounced effect in small organizations. Practical implications: To increase the number of female employees, organizations should invest their resources in hiring and retaining female managers until a gender balance is reached while managing any backlash from men. The results suggest that organizations with more than 40% of women non-management employees and 50% of women managers start `experiencing positive bottom-up dynamics. Thus, efforts need to be made to attract and retain a women’s pipeline at the non-management and management levels. Originality/value: This study delivers pioneering evidence of the top-down and bottom-up phenomena in hospitality and tourism. It refines evidence of such effects found in past research conducted in other industries and across industries.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Applied Sciences, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12031002

Abstract:
Precise intraoperative brain tumor visualization supports surgeons in achieving maximal safe resection. In this sense, improved prognosis in patients with high-grade gliomas undergoing protoporphyrin IX fluorescence-guided surgery has been demonstrated. Phase fluorescence lifetime imaging in the frequency-domain has shown promise to distinguish weak protoporphyrin IX fluorescence from competing endogenous tissue fluorophores, thus allowing for brain tumor detection with high sensitivity. In this work, we show that this technique can be further improved by minimizing the crosstalk of autofluorescence signal contributions when only detecting the fluorescence emission above 615 nm. Combining fluorescence lifetime and spectroscopic measurements on a set of 130 ex vivo brain tumor specimens (14 low- and 56 high-grade gliomas, 39 meningiomas and 21 metastases) coherently substantiated the resulting increase of the fluorescence lifetime with respect to the detection band employed in previous work. This is of major interest for obtaining a clear-cut distinction from the autofluorescence background of the physiological brain. In particular, the median fluorescence lifetime of low- and high-grade glioma specimens lacking visual fluorescence during surgical resection was increased from 4.7 ns to 5.4 ns and 2.9 ns to 3.3 ns, respectively. While more data are needed to create statistical evidence, the coherence of what was observed throughout all tumor groups emphasized that this optimization should be taken into account for future studies.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has shown great promise in medicine. However, explainability issues make AI applications in clinical usages difficult. Some research has been conducted into explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) to overcome the limitation of the black-box nature of AI methods. Compared with AI techniques such as deep learning, XAI can provide both decision-making and explanations of the model. In this review, we conducted a survey of the recent trends in medical diagnosis and surgical applications using XAI. We have searched articles published between 2019 and 2021 from PubMed, IEEE Xplore, Association for Computing Machinery, and Google Scholar. We included articles which met the selection criteria in the review and then extracted and analyzed relevant information from the studies. Additionally, we provide an experimental showcase on breast cancer diagnosis, and illustrate how XAI can be applied in medical XAI applications. Finally, we summarize the XAI methods utilized in the medical XAI applications, the challenges that the researchers have met, and discuss the future research directions. The survey result indicates that medical XAI is a promising research direction, and this study aims to serve as a reference to medical experts and AI scientists when designing medical XAI applications.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The addition of antibacterial material to hollow fiber membranes improves the membrane anti-biofouling characteristics. Antibacterial membranes were fabricated in this study to improve membrane function while also extending membrane lifetime. Neat polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) and PVDF hollow fiber membrane with the incorporation of antibacterial agent zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles with various loading (2.5–7.5 wt.%) were fabricated by using dry/wet spinning method. The membrane structure, particle distribution, functional group, hydrophilicity, and pore size of each membrane were all assessed. The result shows that all ZnO/PVDF hollow fiber membranes have the asymmetric structure with even dispersion of ZnO nanoparticles throughout the membranes. The results showed that increased ZnO loadings considerably improved membrane hydrophilicity, and average pore size, in addition to good performance of pure water flux. Antibacterial testing shows that ZnO incorporated in the membrane matrix and membrane surfaces prevents bacteria that cause biofouling from adhering to the membrane. ZnO/PVDF membrane recorded excellent bovine serum albumin (BSA) rejection at 93.4% ± 0.4 with flux recovery rate at 70.9% ± 2.1. These results suggest that antibacterial ZnO/PVDF hollow fiber membranes are promising in relation to reducing biofouling for various water and wastewater treatment.
Geon Hyeok Lee,
Published: 19 January 2022
Zootaxa, Volume 5092, pp 221-237; https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.5092.2.5

Abstract:
Two new spionid polychaetes of the genus Scolelepis from the intertidal habitats of the Yellow Sea in Korea are described and illustrated. Scolelepis (Parascolelepis) anterobranchiata sp. nov. is characterized by a combination of the following characteristic: palps with smooth globular expansions at the basal part, branchiae appearing in the anterior part of the body, absence of notochaetae in chaetiger 1, notopodial postchaetal lamellae partially fused with branchiae in anterior chaetigers, and neuropodial hooded hooks appearing from chaetigers 18–19 with two pairs of teeth surmounting a well-developed main fang. Scolelepis (Scolelepis) rubra sp. nov. can be distinguished from its congeners by the following characteristics: reddish-pink body, presence of notochaetae in chaetiger 1, branchiae approximately twice as long as notopodial postchaetal lamellae, neuropodial bidentate hooded hooks usually appearing from chaetigers 26–31, and presence of notopodial hooded hooks in posterior chaetigers. Based on molecular data, the sequences of the two new species showed relatively large genetic distances from other Scolelepis species in COI (15.8–19.5%) and 16S rDNA (4.9–15.8%). Morphological variability of prostomial shape in the genus Scolelepis is discussed for the first time.
Jinshan Wang, Yuguang Yang, Cuifeng Jiang, Meng He, Chuang Yao, Jianfeng Zhang
Journal of Materials Chemistry C; https://doi.org/10.1039/d1tc05497j

Abstract:
The development of pure deep-blue emitters with excellent optoelectronic and electroluminescence (EL) properties is full of challenges due to limited molecular designs. Herein, three novel color-tunable phenylcarbazole derivatives based emitters from deep-blue to blue pCz-DPS, pCz-BTO and pCz-BP were demonstrated, which were designed by incorporating different short conjugation length building blocks as electron-accepting moieties and twisted rigid electron-donating carbazole derivatives. These emitters show deep-blue to blue emission, thanks to the deep highest occupied molecular energy level of the carbazole derivatives donor units. In addition, pCz-BP exhibits aggregation-induced emission (AIE) property, while pCz-BTO exhibits AIE and thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) properties simultaneously. Nondoped organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) using these emitters as emission layer were fabricated, along with a maximum external quantum efficiency (EQE) and Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage (CIE) color coordinates of 7.1% and (0.15, 0.10) for pCz-BTO devices. The emitter pCz-BTO can also function robustly in doped OLEDs with impressively maximum current efficiency (CE) and EQE of 23.3 cd A−1 and 9.5 %, respectively, along with an ultrapure blue color CIE coordinates of (0.15, 0.09). The significantly excellent performance for pCz-BTO could be ascribed to excellent photoluminescence quantum yield (PLQY), high reverse intersystem crossing rate constant (kRISC) and fluorescence decay rate constant (kF) values. The excellent performance and ultrahigh color purity and extremely low efficiency roll-off for pCz-BTO are among the state-of-the-art deep-blue emitters, indicating the great potential of these materials in the application of ultrapure deep-blue OLEDs.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Sustainability, Volume 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031123

Abstract:
Water resource planning and management necessitates understanding soil moisture changes with depth in the root zone at the farm scale. For measuring soil moisture, remote sensing methods have been relatively successful. Soil moisture is estimated from image data, using in situ moisture and an empirical scattering model via regression fit analysis. However, in situ sensor data are prone to misinterpretations, requiring verification. Herein, we aimed at investigating the application of soil moisture from the water balance model towards verification of in situ soil moisture sensor data before in situ data was assessed for its relationship with remote sensing data. In situ soil moisture sensor data was obtained at 10 and 30 cm, and CROPWAT8.0 furnished root zone soil moisture data. The correlation between the in situ soil moisture at 10 and 30 cm was 0.78; the correlation between the soil moisture from CROPWAT8.0 and the in situ soil moisture were 0.64 and 0.62 at 10 and 30 cm, respectively. The R2 between Sentinel-1 backscatter coefficients and in situ moisture were 0.74 and 0.68 at each depth, respectively. Therefore, the water balance model could verify sensor results before assessing in situ soil moisture data for relationship with remote sensing data.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
A lack of physical activity is a generally accepted risk factor for colorectal cancer. However, research on the effect of preoperative physical activity on postoperative and long-term outcomes is limited, especially in patients with stage IV colorectal cancer who underwent palliative surgery. Patients who underwent bowel resection for stage IV primary colorectal cancer between January 1995 and December 2016 were retrospectively enrolled. A total of 2185 patients were divided into two groups according to preoperative leisure-time weekly physical activity as assessed by metabolic equivalent of task (MET) values: MET < 12 (n = 1845) and MET ≥ 12 (n = 340). Inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) was used to reduce imbalance and selection biases between the two groups. After the IPTW process, the MET < 12 group showed a higher postoperative morbidity rate (18.7% vs. 10.6%; p< 0.001) and mortality rate (2.4% vs. 0.6%; p< 0.001) than the MET ≥ 12 group. No significant difference was found in overall survival. Weekly preoperative leisure-time physical activity with MET ≥ 12 was associated with reduced short-term postoperative morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing palliative resection for metastatic colorectal cancer. However, no difference was detected in long-term survival.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
In inland areas of Portugal and some regions of the Mediterranean basin, olive production is based on traditional olive groves, with low intensification, local cultivars, aged plants, and centenarian trees. These plants play a key role in the ecosystem, contributing to carbon sequestration and possessing a high genetic diversity, particularly important for selecting cultivars more resistant to climatic changes. Appreciation of the value of this genetic diversity implies genetic, morphological, and physicochemical characterization of centenarian trees, which is expensive and time-consuming. Sensory evaluation is also of utmost importance. Thus, in this study, centenarian olive trees were selected in the Côa Valley region, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The descriptive sensory profile of their extracted olive oils was established and used to cluster the oils, using hierarchical clustering analysis, and consequently the olive trees, into five groups with similar intensities of perceived olfactory–gustatory attributes. Each cluster revealed olive oils with unique sensory patterns, presumably due to similarities of the olive trees, confirming the potential of the proposed screening approach. The identification of sensorially homogeneous oil-tree groups would reduce the number of specimens needed for subsequent morphological, genetic, and chemical characterization, allowing a cost-effective and robust future evaluation procedure.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Lumbar disc herniation is one of the most common degenerative spinal conditions resulting in lower back pain and sciatica. Surgical treatment options include microdiscectomy, lumbar fusion, total disc replacement, and other minimally invasive approaches. At present, microdiscectomy procedures are the most used technique; however, the annulus fibrosus is left with a defect that without treatment may contribute to high reherniation rates and changes in the biomechanics of the lumbar spine. This paper aims to review current commercially available products that mechanically close the annulus including the AnchorKnot® suture-passing device and the Barricaid® annular closure device. Previous studies and reviews have focused mainly on a biomimetic biomaterials approach and have described some mechanical and biological requirements for an active annular repair/regeneration strategy but are still far away from clinical implementation. Therefore, in this paper we aim to create a design specification for a mechanical annular closure strategy by identifying the most important mechanical and biological design parameters, including consideration of material selection, preclinical testing requirements, and requirements for clinical implementation.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Mathematics, Volume 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/math10030306

Abstract:
Ordinary differential equations (ODEs), and the systems of such equations, are used for describing many essential physical phenomena. Therefore, the ability to efficiently solve such tasks is important and desired. The goal of this paper is to compare three methods devoted to solving ODEs and their systems, with respect to the quality of obtained solutions, as well as the speed and reliability of working. These approaches are the classical and often applied Runge–Kutta method of order 4 (RK4), the method developed on the ground of the Taylor series, the differential transformation method (DTM), and the routine available in the Mathematica software (Mat).
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
We report a new method for a tandem Pd-catalyzed intramolecular addition of active methylene compounds to internal alkynes followed by coupling with aryl and heteroaryl bromides. Highly substituted vinylidenecyclopentanes were obtained with good yields, complete selectivity, and excellent functional group tolerance. A plausible mechanism, supported by DFT calculations, involves the oxidative addition of bromoarene to Pd(0), followed by cyclization and reductive elimination. The excellent regio- and stereoselectivity arises from the 5-exo-dig intramolecular addition of the enol form of the substrate to alkyne activated by the π-acidic Pd(II) center, postulated as the rate-determining step.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Non-small cell lung cancer is one of the most common types of malignances worldwide and the main cause of cancer-related deaths. Current treatment for NSCLC is based on surgical resection, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and targeted therapy, with poor therapeutic effectiveness. In recent years, immune checkpoint inhibitors have applied in NSCLC treatment. A large number of experimental studies have shown that immune checkpoint inhibitors are safer and more effective than traditional therapeutic modalities and have allowed for the development of better guidance in the clinical treatment of advanced NSCLC patients. In this review, we describe clinical trials using ICI immunotherapies for NSCLC treatment, the available data on clinical efficacy, and the emerging evidence regarding biomarkers.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
(1) Background: Persistent olfactory (POD) and gustatory (PGD) dysfunctions are one of the most frequent symptoms of long-Coronavirus Disease 2019 but their effect on the quality of life (QoL) of patients is still largely unexplored. (2) Methods: An online survey was administered to individuals who reported to have had SARS-CoV-2 infection at least 6 months prior with persisting COVID-19 symptoms (using the COVID symptom index), including ratings of POD and PGD, and their physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) components of quality of life were assessed using the standardized short form 12 questionnaire (SF-12). (3) Results: Responses from 431 unique individuals were included in the analyses. The most frequent persistent symptoms were: fatigue (185 cases, 42.9%), olfactory dysfunction (127 cases, 29.5%), gustatory dysfunction (96 cases, 22.3%) and muscle pain (83 cases, 19.3%). Respondents who reported persisting muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, and dyspnea had significantly worse PCS. Those experiencing persistent fatigue and dyspnea also showed significantly lower MCS. Respondents reporting POD or PGD showed significantly worse QoL, but only pertaining to the MCS. Multiple regressions predicted MCS based on olfactory and marginally on gustatory ratings, but not PCS. Age significantly affected the prediction of PCS but not MCS, and gender and temporal distance from the COVID-19 diagnosis had no effect. (4) Conclusions: POD and PGD are frequent symptoms of the long-COVID-19 syndrome and significantly reduce QoL, specifically in the mental health component. This evidence should stimulate the establishment of appropriate infrastructure to support individuals with persistent CD, while research on effective therapies scales up.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031080

Abstract:
In recent years, with the public paying more and more attention to the problem of air pollution, the impact of air quality on migration has gradually become a growing concern. However, in the current context of cities’ efforts to “attract talent” in China, research on the impact of air pollution on the flow or dwelling willingness of young talent is relatively limited. Based on the theory of planned behavior and from the perspective of subjective perception, this paper uses a regulated model to explore the impact mechanism of air pollution perception on young talent urban settlement intentions. Taking Hangzhou as a case, this study surveyed 987 individuals who were classified as young talent to explore the impact of air pollution perception on urban settlement intentions in China. The research shows that air pollution perception has a significant impact on young talent urban settlement intentions, and this impact is achieved through the intermediary effect of residential satisfaction. Place attachment of young talent to cities cannot significantly regulate the impact of air pollution perception on residential satisfaction, but it can significantly regulate the relationship between residential satisfaction and urban settlement intentions. That is to say, although place attachment cannot reduce the decline in residential satisfaction brought by air pollution perception, it can weaken the negative impact of air pollution perception on dwelling willingness through a decline in residential satisfaction. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the relationship between air quality and young talent settlement intentions.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Sensors, Volume 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22030738

Abstract:
As the drive to improve the cost, performance characteristics and safety of lithium-ion batteries increases with adoption, one area where significant value could be added is that of battery diagnostics. This paper documents an investigation into the use of plasmonic-based optical fibre sensors, inserted internally into 1.4 Ah lithium-ion pouch cells, as a real time and in-situ diagnostic technique. The successful implementation of the fibres inside pouch cells is detailed and promising correlation with battery state is reported, while having negligible impact on cell performance in terms of capacity and columbic efficiency. The testing carried out includes standard cycling and galvanostatic intermittent titration technique (GITT) tests, and the use of a reference electrode to correlate with the anode and cathode readings separately. Further observations are made around the sensor and analyte interaction mechanisms, robustness of sensors and suggested further developments. These finding show that a plasmonic-based optical fibre sensor may have potential as an opto-electrochemical diagnostic technique for lithium-ion batteries, offering an unprecedented view into internal cell phenomena.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031081

Abstract:
Leisure engagement has risen as a salient societal issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only because it provides a pathway for people to continue meeting their physical, cognitive, and social-emotional needs, but also due to the phenomenal juxtaposition of general increases in leisure time and unparalleled constraints. This study reports the results of the first investigation of U.S. adults’ overall leisure engagement and its association with mental health amidst the major disruptions and sustained stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through an online survey in February 2021 through Prolific from a sample representative of the U.S. adult population in age, gender, and race (n = 503) and analyzed using a mixed-method approach. A total of 104 unique leisure activities in 19 categories and 3 domains were identified through iterative thematic coding. Participants reported general increases in home-based traditional leisure and digital/online activities and decreases in physical and nature-based activities. A multiple regression analysis controlling for socio-demographic and context-specific covariates revealed distinct associations between changes in leisure engagement and different aspects of mental health (perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and mental wellbeing), supporting leisure’s dual role in facilitating stress alleviation and wellbeing enhancement during taxing events, such as COVID-19.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Many substances derived from animals are used as ingredients in the cosmetic industry and constitute a particular type of product: zooceuticals. The main ingredients used can come from insects, such as snail slime; land animals, such as lanolin; and marine animals, such as marine collagen. Today, they are used less than in the past for hygienic–sanitary, ethical, and ecological reasons. Moreover, some can give rise to irritative or allergic dermatitis. However, they still represent a fraction of the common ingredients in certain types of cosmetic products today.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Reduced and soil-protective tillage technologies may represent certain negatives for cultivated crops associated with the biomass of mulch from intermediate crops and post-harvest residues. Sown crops, as well as field weeds, are exposed to impaired soil conditions. Soil conditions were assessed using biological tests. Eight plant species were chosen for the tests. Germination of tested plant species took place in controlled conditions in climaboxes. Seeds on Petri dishes were watered with soil leachates from three variants of tillage (Conventional, Minimum tillage, Direct sowing). Soil samples were collected from a 15-year field experiment. The soil leachates inhibited the germination rate of the chosen plant species. In the first term, all species exhibited a lower germination capacity in variants watered with the soil leachate. The reduced tillage technologies can apparently significantly slow down the germination rate in field crops and vegetables. Simple biological tests have the potential to assess the condition of arable soils.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Sustainability, Volume 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031115

Abstract:
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) lives in alpine ecosystems in Central Asia, where it could face intensive climate change and is thus a major conservation concern. We compiled a dataset of 406 GPS-located occurrences based on field surveys, literature, and the GBIF database. We used Random Forest to build different species distribution models with a maximum of 27 explanatory variables, including climatic, topographical, and human impact variables, to predict potential distribution for the snow leopard and make climate change projections. We estimated the potential range shifts of the snow leopard under two global climate models for different representative concentration pathways for 2050 and 2070. We found the distribution center of the snow leopard may move northwest by about 200 km and may move upward in elevation by about 100 m by 2070. Unlike previous studies on the range shifts of the snow leopard, we highlighted that upward rather than northward range shifts are the main pathways for the snow leopard in the changing climate, since the landform of their habitat allows an upward shift, whereas mountains and valleys would block northward movement. Conservation of the snow leopard should therefore prioritize protecting its current habitat over making movement corridors.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Mathematics, Volume 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/math10030293

Abstract:
The results of modeling the conversion factor from rainfall-deposited unit activity of gamma-emitting radon and thoron daughter decay products to their created gamma-radiation dose rate as a function of height above the Earth’s surface using the Geant4 toolkit are presented in this paper. Thin layers of water, soil, and air, with the height of 0.1–10 mm, are considered as the source in order to examine whether the composition of the radiation source environment affects the simulation result. Cases with different absorber-atmosphere densities are simulated. The contribution of each radionuclide 212Bi, 214Bi, 212Pb, 214Pb and 208Tl to the total gamma background was determined. The dependence of dose rate growth during the precipitation period on the detector position in relation to the area covered by precipitation was investigated numerically. The obtained conversion factors are universal values, because do not depend on soil type (material) on which radionuclides are deposited by precipitation. These coefficients can be used for solving both direct tasks of radiation background recovery during precipitation and inverse tasks of determining the intensity and amount of precipitation by the known gamma background, as well as tasks to decipher the gamma background by the shape of the response to various phenomena. Also in this work, it is shown how thoron decay products can affect the response shape of gamma background on atmospheric precipitation.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Fruits historically have been the key character for delimitation of tribes in the Burseraceae. However, fruit structure is incompletely known within the family, thus the importance of this character is unclear. This study of fruit anatomy in the traditional tribe Canarieae examines the distribution of the tissues that correspond to the exo-, meso-, and endocarp. The detailed arrangement and measurement of the tissues are reported here for the first time in all eight genera in the tribe. The evidence suggests that in all cases except Pseudodacryodes, the endocarp has at least one layer of parenchyma cells within which a sclereid layer is evident and, in some cases, an inner epidermis. All Canarieae fruits exhibit secretory canals, and some taxa have epidermal glands with resin-like contents. Evidence of carpellar sutures was found for all Canarieae, and in Dacryodes, Haplolobus, Rosselia, and Santiria, an articulated plate is present that corresponds to an abortive locule. The anatomical and morphological characters presented here are useful in delimiting genera within Canarieae.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Background: Angiostrongyliasis, the leading cause universal of eosinophilic meningitis, is an emergent disease due to Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) larvae, transmitted accidentally to humans. The diagnosis of human angiostrongyliasis is based on epidemiologic characteristics, clinical symptoms, medical history, and laboratory findings, particularly hypereosinophilia in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Thus, the diagnosis is difficult and often confused with those produced by other parasitic diseases. Therefore, the development of a fast and specific diagnostic test for angiostrongyliasis is a challenge mainly due to the lack of specificity of the described tests, and therefore, the characterization of a new target is required. Material and Methods: Using bioinformatics tools, the putative presenilin (PS) protein C7BVX5-1 was characterized structurally and phylogenetically. A peptide microarray approach was employed to identify single and specific epitopes, and tetrameric epitope peptides were synthesized to evaluate their performance in an ELISA-peptide assay. Results: The data showed that the A. cantonensis PS protein presents nine transmembrane domains, the catalytic aspartyl domain [(XD (aa 241) and GLGD (aa 332–335)], between TM6 and TM7 and the absence of the PALP and other characteristics domains of the class A22 and homologous presenilin (PSH). These individualities make it an atypical sub-branch of the PS family, located in a separate subgroup along with the enzyme Haemogonchus contournus and separated from other worm subclasses. Twelve B-linear epitopes were identified by microarray of peptides and validated by ELISA using infected rat sera. In addition, their diagnostic performance was demonstrated by an ELISA-MAP4 peptide. Conclusions: Our data show that the putative AgPS is an atypical multi-pass transmembrane protein and indicate that the protein is an excellent immunological target with two (PsAg3 and PsAg9) A. costarisencis cross-reactive epitopes and eight (PsAg1, PsAg2, PsAg6, PsAg7, PsAg8, PsAg10, PsAg11, PsAg12) apparent unique A. cantonensis epitopes. These epitopes could be used in engineered receptacle proteins to develop a specific immunological diagnostic assay for angiostrongyliasis caused by A. cantonensis.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Bacterial colony counting is a time consuming but important task for many fields, such as food quality testing and pathogen detection, which own the high demand for accurate on-site testing. However, bacterial colonies are often overlapped, adherent with each other, and difficult to precisely process by traditional algorithms. The development of deep learning has brought new possibilities for bacterial colony counting, but deep learning networks usually require a large amount of training data and highly configured test equipment. The culture and annotation time of bacteria are costly, and professional deep learning workstations are too expensive and large to meet portable requirements. To solve these problems, we propose a lightweight improved YOLOv3 network based on the few-shot learning strategy, which is able to accomplish high detection accuracy with only five raw images and be deployed on a low-cost edge device. Compared with the traditional methods, our method improved the average accuracy from 64.3% to 97.4% and decreased the False Negative Rate from 32.1% to 1.5%. Our method could greatly improve the detection accuracy, realize the portability for on-site testing, and significantly save the cost of data collection and annotation over 80%, which brings more potential for bacterial colony counting.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031049

Abstract:
SARS-CoV-2 uses the human cell surface protein angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as the receptor by which it gains access into lung and other tissue. Early in the pandemic, there was speculation that a number of commonly used medications—including ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—have the potential to upregulate ACE2, thereby possibly facilitating viral entry and increasing the severity of COVID-19. We investigated the influence of the NSAIDS with a range of cyclooxygenase (COX)1 and COX2 selectivity (ibuprofen, flurbiprofen, etoricoxib) and paracetamol on the level of ACE2 mRNA/protein expression and activity as well as their influence on SARS-CoV-2 infection levels in a Caco-2 cell model. We also analysed the ACE2 mRNA/protein levels and activity in lung, heart and aorta in ibuprofen treated mice. The drugs had no effect on ACE2 mRNA/protein expression and activity in the Caco-2 cell model. There was no up-regulation of ACE2 mRNA/protein expression and activity in lung, heart and aorta tissue in ibuprofen-treated mice in comparison to untreated mice. Viral load was significantly reduced by both flurbiprofen and ibuprofen at high concentrations. Ibuprofen, flurbiprofen, etoricoxib and paracetamol demonstrated no effects on ACE2 expression or activity in vitro or in vivo. Higher concentrations of ibuprofen and flurbiprofen reduced SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Journal of Risk and Financial Management, Volume 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/jrfm15020042

Abstract:
This paper investigates the role of children in explaining the life-cycle pattern of consumption (which is hump-shaped since it is higher in the middle of life and lower at the beginning and end of life). Unlike previous studies, a true panel of U.K. households was exploited to investigate whether currently childless households that anticipate having children behave differently from similar households that do not anticipate children. Spending for each group at different ages was estimated using a simple kernel regression. The paper finds that those households that anticipate children, when compared to households that do not anticipate children, do not seem to significantly reduce total spending before having children, nor do they significantly increase total spending after children arrive. Hence, children do not seem to fully explain the hump shape of consumption over the life-cycle.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
A total of 114 Staphylococcus isolates from various infections of companion animals, including 43 feline Staphylococcus aureus, 19 canine S. aureus, 11 feline Staphylococcus pseudintermedius and 41 canine S. pseudintermedius were investigated for (i) their susceptibility to 24 antimicrobial agents and three combinations of antimicrobial agents by broth microdilution following CLSI recommendations and (ii) the corresponding resistance genes. In addition, the isolates were tested for their susceptibility to the four biocides benzalkonium chloride, chlorhexidine, polyhexanide and octenidine by a recently developed biocide susceptibility testing protocol. Penicillin resistance via blaZ was the dominant resistance property in all four groups of isolates ranging between 76.7 and 90.9%. About one quarter of the isolates (25.4%) proved to be methicillin-resistant and carried the genes mecA or mecC. Macrolide resistance was the second most prevalent resistance property (27.2%) and all isolates harbored the resistance genes erm(A), erm(B), erm(C), erm(T) or msr(A), alone or in combinations. Fluoroquinolone resistance was detected in 21.1% of all isolates tested, whereas tetracycline resistance via tet(K) and/or tet(M) occurred in 19.3% of the isolates. Resistance to last resort antimicrobial agents in human medicine was seen only in single isolates, if at all. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of the four biocides showed unimodal distributions and were very similar for the four groups of staphylococci. Because of the large number of (multi)resistant isolates, antimicrobial susceptibility testing of feline and canine S. aureus and S. pseudintermedius isolates is highly recommended before the start of an antimicrobial chemotherapy. Moreover, no hints towards the development of biocide resistance were detected.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
The pollen-specific calcium-dependent protein kinase PiCDPK1 of Petunia inflata has previously been shown to regulate polarity in tip growth in pollen tubes. Here we report the identification of a Rho Guanine Dissociation Inhibitor (PiRhoGDI1) as a PiCDPK1 interacting protein. We demonstrate that PiRhoGDI1 and PiCDPK1 interact in a yeast 2-hybrid assay, as well as in an in vitro pull-down assay, and that PiRhoGDI1 is phosphorylated by PiCDPK1 in vitro. We further demonstrate the PiRhoGDI1 is capable of rescuing the loss of growth polarity phenotype caused by over-expressing PiCDPK1 in vivo using stable transgenic plants. We confirmed that PiRhoGDI1 interacts with a pollen-expressed ROP GTPase isoform consistent with the established role of RhoGDIs in negatively regulating GTPases through their membrane removal and locking them in an inactive cytosolic complex. ROP is a central regulator of polarity in tip growth, upstream of Ca2+, and PiCDPK1 over-expression has been previously reported to lead to dramatic elevation of cytosolic Ca2+ through a positive feedback loop. The discovery that PiCDPK1 impacts ROP regulation via PiRhoGDI1 suggests that PiCDPK1 acts as RhoGDI displacement factor and leads us to propose a model which we hypothesize regulates the rapid recycling of ROP GTPase at the pollen tube tip.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Retinoic acid (RA) functions as an essential signal for development of the vertebrate eye by controlling the transcriptional regulatory activity of RA receptors (RARs). During eye development, the optic vesicles and later the retina generate RA as a metabolite of vitamin A (retinol). Retinol is first converted to retinaldehyde by retinol dehydrogenase 10 (RDH10) and then to RA by all three retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH1A1, ALDH1A2, and ALDH1A3). In early mouse embryos, RA diffuses to tissues throughout the optic placode, optic vesicle, and adjacent mesenchyme to stimulate folding of the optic vesicle to form the optic cup. RA later generated by the retina is needed for further morphogenesis of the optic cup and surrounding perioptic mesenchyme; loss of RA at this stage leads to microphthalmia and cornea plus eyelid defects. RA functions by binding to nuclear RARs at RA response elements (RAREs) that either activate or repress transcription of key genes. Binding of RA to RARs regulates recruitment of transcriptional coregulators such as nuclear receptor coactivator (NCOA) or nuclear receptor corepressor (NCOR), which in turn control binding of the generic coactivator p300 or the generic corepressor PRC2. No genes have been identified as direct targets of RA signaling during eye development, so future studies need to focus on identifying such genes and their RAREs. Studies designed to learn how RA normally controls eye development in vivo will provide basic knowledge valuable for determining how developmental eye defects occur and for improving strategies to treat eye defects.
Published: 19 January 2022
by MDPI
Abstract:
Pasta is an increasingly popular food worldwide and different formulations have been developed to improve its nutritional profile. Semolina that is high both in protein and gluten content is recognized as the ideal raw material to produce conventional dry pasta. When alternative raw materials are used, an understanding of the relationship between processing variables and pasta quality is crucial in order to optimize the redesign of the production process. This review aims to: (1) investigate the main challenges of the pasta-making process, highlighting the processing variables that most affect pasta quality; and (2) indicate the unknown factors that influence the pasta-making process and which need to be studied. After overviewing the last twenty years of research in the pasta sector, the interplay/relationship between processing variables and pasta quality is examined, together with the main innovations proposed for each step of pasta processing. An analysis of all the variables involved in the process and their influence on each other will elucidate how to optimize certain parameters to ensure the production of pasta with the desired characteristics.
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