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ISSN / EISSN : 2072-6651 / 2072-6651
Published by: MDPI (10.3390)
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Latest articles in this journal

Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
Possible implications and applications of the yeast killer phenomenon in the fight against infectious diseases are reviewed, with particular reference to some wide-spectrum killer toxins (KTs) produced by Wickerhamomyces anomalus and other related species. A perspective on the applications of these KTs in the medical field is provided considering (1) a direct use of killer strains, in particular in the symbiotic control of arthropod-borne diseases; (2) a direct use of KTs as experimental therapeutic agents; (3) the production, through the idiotypic network, of immunological derivatives of KTs and their use as potential anti-infective therapeutics. Studies on immunological derivatives of KTs in the context of vaccine development are also described.
Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
Transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticidal proteins have been extensively planted for insect pest control, but the evolution of Bt resistance in target pests threatens the sustainability of this approach. Mutations of cadherin in the midgut brush border membrane was associated with Cry1Ac resistance in several lepidoptera species, including the Asian corn borer, Ostrinia furnacalis, a major pest of maize in Asian–Western Pacific countries. However, the causality of O. furnacalis cadherin (OfCad) with Cry1Ac resistance remains to be clarified. In this study, in vitro and in vivo approaches were employed to examine the involvement of OfCad in mediating Cry1Ac toxicity. Sf9 cells transfected with OfCad showed significant immunofluorescent binding with Cry1Ac toxin and exhibited a concentration-dependent mortality effect when exposed to Cry1Ac. The OfCad knockout strain OfCad-KO, bearing homozygous 15.4 kb deletion of the OfCad gene generated by CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis, exhibited moderate-level resistance to Cry1Ac (14-fold) and low-level resistance to Cry1Aa (4.6-fold), but no significant changes in susceptibility to Cry1Ab and Cry1Fa, compared with the original NJ-S strain. The Cry1Ac resistance phenotype was inherited as autosomal, recessive mode, and significantly linked with the OfCad knockout in the OfCad-KO strain. These results demonstrate that the OfCad protein is a functional receptor for Cry1Ac, and disruption of OfCad confers a moderate Cry1Ac resistance in O. furnacalis. This study provides new insights into the mode of action of the Cry1Ac toxin and useful information for designing resistance monitoring and management strategies for O. furnacalis.
Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
Fusarium proliferatum and Fusarium subglutinans are common pathogens of maize which are known to produce mycotoxins, including moniliformin (MON) and fumonisins (FBs). Fungal secondary metabolism and response to oxidative stress are interlaced, where hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) plays a pivotal role in the modulation of mycotoxin production. The objective of this study is to examine the effect of H2O2-induced oxidative stress on fungal growth, as well as MON and FBs production, in different isolates of these fungi. When these isolates were cultured in the presence of 1, 2, 5, and 10 mM H2O2, the fungal biomass of F. subglutinans isolates showed a strong sensitivity to increasing oxidative conditions (27–58% reduction), whereas F. proliferatum isolates were not affected or even slightly improved (45% increase). H2O2 treatment at the lower concentration of 1 mM caused an almost total disappearance of MON and a strong reduction of FBs content in the two fungal species and isolates tested. The catalase activity, surveyed due to its crucial role as an H2O2 scavenger, showed no significant changes at 1 mM H2O2 treatment, thus indicating a lack of correlation with MON and FB changes. H2O2 treatment was also able to reduce MON and FB content in certified maize material, and the same behavior was observed in the presence and absence of these fungi, highlighting a direct effect of H2O2 on the stability of these mycotoxins. Taken together, these data provide insights into the role of H2O2 which, when increased under stress conditions, could affect the vegetative response and mycotoxin production (and degradation) of these fungi.
Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Ageratina adenophora on the intestines morphology and integrity in rat. Rats were randomly divided into two groups and were fed with 10 g/100 g body weight (BW) basal diet and 10 g/100 g BW experimental diet, which was a mixture of A. adenophora powder and basal diet in a 3:7 ratio. The feeding experiment lasted for 60 days. At days 28 and 60 of the experiment, eight rats/group/timepoint were randomly selected, weighed, and sacrificed, then blood and intestinal tissues were collected and stored for further analysis. The results showed that Ageratina adenophora caused pathological changes and injury in the intestine, elevated serum diamine oxidase (DAO), D-lactate (D-LA), and secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) levels, reduced occludin levels in intestinal tissues, as well as increased the count of intraepithelial leukocytes (IELs) and lamina propria leukocytes (LPLs) in the intestine (p< 0.05 or p< 0.01). In addition, the mRNA and protein (ELISA) expressions of pro-inflammation cytokines (IL-1β, IL-2, TNF-α, and IFN-ϒ) were elevated in the Ageratina adenophora treatment groups, whereas anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-10 were reduced (p< 0.01 or p< 0.05). Therefore, the results obtained in this study indicated that Ageratina adenophora impaired intestinal function in rats by damaging the intestine structure and integrity, and also triggered an inflammation immune response that led to intestinal immune barrier dysfunction.
Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
The yellow peach (Amygdalus persica), an important fruit in China, is highly susceptible to infection by Alternaria sp., leading to potential health risks and economic losses. In the current study, firstly, yellow peaches were artificially inoculated with Alternaria alternate. Then, the fruits were stored at 4 °C and 28 °C to simulate the current storage conditions that consumers use, and the Alternaria toxins (ATs) contents from different parts of the fruits were analyzed via ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). The results showed that the growth of A. alternate and the ATs production were dramatically affected by the storage temperature. At 28 °C, the fungi grew rapidly and the lesion diameter reached about 4.0 cm within 15 days of inoculation, while, at 4 °C, the fungal growth was noticeably inhibited, with no significant change in the lesion diameter. To our surprise, high contents of ATs were produced under both storage conditions even though the fungal growth was suppressed. With an increase in the incubation time, the amounts of ATs showed a steady tendency to increase in most cases. Remarkably, alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), alternariol (AOH), and tenuazonic acid (TeA) were detected in the rotten tissue and also in the surrounding tissue, while a large amount of TeA could also be found in the healthy tissue. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report regarding the production of ATs by the infection of Alternaria sp. in yellow peach fruits via artificial inoculation under regulated conditions, and, based on the evidence herein, it is recommended that ATs be included in monitoring and control programs of yellow peach management and food safety administration.
Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
In the coastal countries of Southeast Asia, fish is a staple diet and certain fish species are food delicacies to local populations or commercially important to individual communities. Although there have been several suspected cases of ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) in Southeast Asian countries, few have been confirmed by ciguatoxins identification, resulting in limited information for the correct diagnosis of this food-borne disease. In the present study, ciguatoxin-1B (CTX-1B) in red snapper (Lutjanus bohar) implicated in a CFP case in Sabah, Malaysia, in December 2017 was determined by single-quadrupole selected ion monitoring (SIM) liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Continuous consumption of the toxic fish likely resulted in CFP, even when the toxin concentration in the fish consumed was low. The identification of the fish species was performed using the molecular characterization of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene marker, with a phylogenetic analysis of the genus Lutjanus. This is the first report identifying the causative toxin in fish-implicated CFP in Malaysia.
Published: 15 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
The global exploration of snakebites requires the use of quantitative omics approaches to characterize snake venom as it enters into the systemic circulation. These omics approaches give insights into the venom proteome, but a further exploration is warranted to analyze the venom-reactome for the identification of snake venom biomarkers. The recent discovery of extracellular vesicles (EVs), and their critical cellular functions, has presented them as intriguing sources for biomarker discovery and disease diagnosis. Herein, we purified EV’s from the snake venom (svEVs) of Crotalus atrox and C. oreganus helleri, and from plasma of BALB/c mice injected with venom from each snake using EVtrap in conjunction with quantitative mass spectrometry for the proteomic identification and quantification of svEVs and plasma biomarkers. Snake venom EVs from C. atrox and C. o. helleri were highly enriched in 5′ nucleosidase, L-amino acid oxidase, and metalloproteinases. In mouse plasma EVs, a bioinformatic analysis for revealed upregulated responses involved with cytochrome P450, lipid metabolism, acute phase inflammation immune, and heat shock responses, while downregulated proteins were associated with mitochondrial electron transport, NADH, TCA, cortical cytoskeleton, reticulum stress, and oxidative reduction. Altogether, this analysis will provide direct evidence for svEVs composition and observation of the physiological changes of an envenomated organism.
Published: 14 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
Palytoxin (PLTX) and its congeners are emerging toxins held responsible for a number of human poisonings following the inhalation of toxic aerosols, skin contact, or the ingestion of contaminated seafood. Despite the strong structural analogies, the relative toxic potencies of PLTX congeners are quite different, making it necessary to isolate them individually in sufficient amounts for toxicological and analytical purposes. Previous studies showed poor PLTX recoveries with a dramatic decrease in PLTX yield throughout each purification step. In view of a large-scale preparative work aimed at the preparation of PLTX reference material, we have investigated evaporation as a critical—although unavoidable—step that heavily affects overall recoveries. The experiments were carried out in two laboratories using different liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) instruments, with either unit or high resolution. Palytoxin behaved differently when concentrated to a minimum volume rather than when evaporated to complete dryness. The recoveries strongly depended on the solubility as well as on the material of the used container. The LC-MS analyses of PLTX dissolved in aqueous organic blends proved to give a peak intensity higher then when dissolved in pure water. After drying, the PLTX adsorption appeared stronger on glass surfaces than on plastic materials. However, both the solvents used to dilute PLTX and that used for re-dissolution had an important role. A quantitative recovery (97%) was achieved when completely drying 80% aqueous EtOH solutions of PLTX under N2-stream in Teflon. The stability of PLTX in acids was also investigated. Although PLTX was quite stable in 0.2% acetic acid solutions, upon exposure to stronger acids (pH < 2.66), degradation products were observed, among which a PLTX methyl-ester was identified.
Published: 14 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
Fumonisin mycotoxins are a persistent challenge to human and livestock health in tropical and sub-tropical maize cropping systems, and more efficient methods are needed to reduce their presence in food systems. We constructed a novel, low-cost device for sorting grain, the “DropSort”, and tested its effectiveness on both plastic kernel models and fumonisin-contaminated maize. Sorting plastic kernels of known size and shape enabled us to optimize the sorting performance of the DropSort. The device sorted maize into three distinct fractions as measured by bulk density and 100-kernel weight. The level of fumonisin was lower in the heaviest fractions of maize compared to the unsorted samples. Based on correlations among fumonisin and bulk characteristics of each fraction, we found that light fraction 100-kernel weight could be an inexpensive proxy for unsorted fumonisin concentration. Single kernel analysis revealed significant relationships among kernel fumonisin content and physical characteristics that could prove useful for future sorting efforts. The availability of a low-cost device (materials~USD 300) that can be used to reduce fumonisin in maize could improve food safety in resource-limited contexts in which fumonisin contamination remains a pressing challenge.
Published: 13 September 2021
by MDPI
Abstract:
The occurrence of mycotoxins on grapes poses a high risk for food safety; thus, it is necessary to implement effective prevention methods. In this work, a metagenomic approach revealed the presence of important mycotoxigenic fungi in grape berries, including Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger aggregate species, or Aspergillus section Circumdati. However, A. carbonarius was not detected in any sample. One of the samples was not contaminated by any mycotoxigenic species, and, therefore, it was selected for the isolation of potential biocontrol agents. In this context, Hanseniaspora uvarum U1 was selected for biocontrol in vitro assays. The results showed that this yeast is able to reduce the growth rate of the main ochratoxigenic and aflatoxigenic Aspergillus spp. occurring on grapes. Moreover, H. uvarum U1 seems to be an effective detoxifying agent for aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin A, probably mediated by the mechanisms of adsorption to the cell wall and other active mechanisms. Therefore, H. uvarum U1 should be considered in an integrated approach to preventing AFB1 and OTA in grapes due to its potential as a biocontrol and detoxifying agent.
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