Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 0076-6356 / 2077-0375
Current Publisher: MDPI AG (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 1,524
Current Coverage
Archived in

Latest articles in this journal

Published: 21 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060456

This study compares the performance of the Hollow Fiber (HF) and Flat Sheet (FS) types of membrane bioreactors (MBRs) for the treatment of food and beverage (F&B) industry wastewater in a pilot-scale study of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). HF and FS membrane configurations were evaluated at two different Mixed Liquor Suspended Solid (MLSS) levels: 6000 mg/L and 12,000 mg/L. The performance of each configuration was evaluated in terms of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Total Suspended Solid (TSS) removals for effluent quality measurement. The transmembrane pressure (TMP), flux rate, and silt density index (SDI) were monitored and calculated for membrane fouling assessment. The results show that the rejection rates of COD and TSS for HF and FS membrane types were more than 84% for the two different MLSS levels. During the study, the HF membrane recorded 0.3 bar transmembrane pressure, which complies with the recommended range (i.e., two to three times of chemical cleaning). On the other hand, the FS membrane operates without chemical cleaning, and the TMP value was below the recommended range at 0.2 bar. It was found that the flux values recorded for both the HF and FS systems were within the recommended range of 40 L/m2/h. Analysis of SDI revealed that the calculated index ranged between 1 and 2.38 and was within the allowable limit of 3. Both types of MBR consistently achieved an 80% to 95% rejection rate of COD and TSS. Effluent quality measurement of treated F&B wastewater in this pilot-scale study using a WWTP integrated with an MBR indicated a good achievement with compliance with the Malaysia industrial effluent discharge standards.
Published: 20 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060455

N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) is a commonly-used solvent in industry and pharmaceutics for extracting acetylene and fabricating polyacrylonitrile fibers. It is also a starting material for a variety of intermediates such as esters, pyrimidines or chlordimeforms. However, after being used, DMF can be form 5%–25% spent liquors (mass fraction) that are difficult to recycle with distillation. From the point of view of energy-efficiency and environment-friendliness, an emergent separation technology, pervaporation, is broadly applied in separation of azeotropic mixtures and organic–organic mixtures, dehydration of aqueous–organic mixtures and removal of trace volatile organic compounds from aqueous solutions. Since the advances in membrane technologies to separate N,N-dimethylformamide solutions have been rarely reviewed before, hence this review mainly discusses the research progress about various membranes in separating N,N-dimethylformamide aqueous solutions. The current state of available membranes in industry and academia, and their potential advantages, limitations and applications are also reviewed.
Published: 20 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060454

A class of phenolphthalein anilide (PA)-based poly(ether sulfone) multiblock copolymers containing pendant quaternary ammonium (QA) and imidazolium (IM) groups were synthesized and evaluated as anion exchange membrane (AEM) materials. The AEMs were flexible and mechanically strong with good thermal stability. The ionomeric multiblock copolymer AEMs exhibited well-defined hydrophobic/hydrophilic phase-separated morphology in small-angle X-ray scattering and atomic force microscopy. The distinct nanophase separated membrane morphology in the AEMs resulted in higher conductivity (IECw = 1.3–1.5 mequiv./g, σ(OH) = 30–38 mS/cm at 20 °C), lower water uptake and swelling. Finally, the membranes were compared in terms of microbial fuel cell performances with the commercial cation and anion exchange membranes. The membranes showed a maximum power density of ~310 mW/m2 (at 0.82 A/m2); 1.7 and 2.8 times higher than the Nafion 117 and FAB-PK-130 membranes, respectively. These results demonstrated that the synthesized AEMs were superior to Nafion 117 and FAB-PK-130 membranes.
Published: 20 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060453

Since their description, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have shown growing relevance in cancer progression. These cell structures contain and transfer molecules such as nucleic acids (including DNA and RNA), proteins, and lipids. Despite the rising information about EVs’ relationship with cancer, there is still scarce evidence about their content and function in cervical cancer. Interestingly, the composition and purposes of some cellular molecules and the expression of oncogenic proteins packaged in EVs seem modified in HPV-infected cells; and, although only the E6 oncogenic protein has been detected in exosomes from HPV-positive cells, both E6/E7 oncogenes mRNA has been identified in EVs; however, their role still needs to be clarified. Given that EVs internalizing into adjacent or distant cells could modify their cellular behavior or promote cancer-associated events like apoptosis, proliferation, migration, or angiogenesis in receptor cells, their comprehensive study will reveal EV-associated mechanisms in cervical cancer. This review summarizes the current knowledge in composition and functions of cervical cancer and HPV Infection-derived EVs.
Published: 19 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060452

Membrane resistance and permselectivity for counter-ions have important roles in determining the performance of cation-exchange membranes (CEMs). In this study, PVA-based polyanions—poly(vinyl alcohol-b-sodium styrene sulfonate)—were synthesized, changing the molar percentages CCEG of the cation-exchange groups with respect to the vinyl alcohol groups. From the block copolymer, poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)-based CEMs, hereafter called “B-CEMs”, were prepared by crosslinking the PVA chains with glutaraldehyde (GA) solution at various GA concentrations CGA. The ionic transport properties of the B-CEMs were compared with those previously reported for the CEMs prepared using a random copolymer—poly(vinyl alcohol-co-2-acrylamido-2-methylpropane sulfonic acid)—hereafter called ”R-CEMs”. The B-CEMs had lower water content than the R-CEMs at equal molar percentages of the cation-exchange groups. The charge density of the B-CEMs increased as CCEG increased, and reached a maximum value, which increased with increasing CGA. A maximum charge density of 1.47 mol/dm3 was obtained for a B-CEM with CCEG = 2.9 mol% and CGA = 0.10 vol.%, indicating that the B-CEM had almost two-thirds of the permselectivity of a commercial CEM (CMX: ASTOM Corp. Japan). The dynamic transport number and membrane resistance of a B-CEM with CCEG = 8.3 mol% and CGA = 0.10 vol.% were 0.99 and 1.6 Ωcm2, respectively. The B-CEM showed higher dynamic transport numbers than those of the R-CEMs with similar membrane resistances.
Published: 17 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060451

Membrane proteins work within asymmetric bilayers of lipid molecules that are critical for their biological structures, dynamics and interactions. These properties are lost when detergents dislodge lipids, ligands and subunits, but are maintained in native nanodiscs formed using styrene maleic acid (SMA) and diisobutylene maleic acid (DIBMA) copolymers. These amphipathic polymers allow extraction of multicomponent complexes of post-translationally modified membrane-bound proteins directly from organ homogenates or membranes from diverse types of cells and organelles. Here, we review the structures and mechanisms of transmembrane targets and their interactions with lipids including phosphoinositides (PIs), as resolved using nanodisc systems and methods including cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). We focus on therapeutic targets including several G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), as well as ion channels and transporters that are driving the development of next-generation native nanodiscs. The design of new synthetic polymers and complementary biophysical tools bodes well for the future of drug discovery and structural biology of native membrane:protein assemblies (memteins).
Published: 17 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060450

In this study, nano-TiO2 sulfonated with 1,3-propane sultone (STiO2) was incorporated into the chitosan (CS) matrix for the preparation of CS/STiO2 nanocomposite membranes for fuel cell applications. The grafting of sulfonic acid (–SO3H) groups was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The physicochemical properties of these prepared membranes, such as water uptake, swelling ratio, thermal and mechanical stability, ion exchange capacity and proton conductivity, were determined. The proton conducting groups on the surface of nano-TiO2 can form continuous proton conducting pathways along the CS/STiO2 interface and thus improve the proton conductivity of CS/STiO2 nanocomposite membranes. The CS/STiO2 nanocomposite membrane with 5 wt% of sulfonated TiO2 showed a proton conductivity (0.035 S·cm−1) equal to that of commercial Nafion 117 membrane (0.033 S·cm−1). The thermal and mechanical stability of the nanocomposite membranes were improved because the interfacial interaction between the -SO3H group of TiO2 and the –NH2 group of CS can restrict the mobility of CS chains to enhance the thermal and mechanical stability of the nanocomposite membranes. These CS/STiO2 nanocomposite membranes have promising applications in proton exchange membrane fuel cells.
Published: 16 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060449

Biological membranes are complex dynamic systems composed of a great variety of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, which together play a pivotal role in the protection of organisms and through which the interchange of different substances is regulated in the cell. Given the complexity of membranes, models mimicking them provide a convenient way to study and better understand their mechanisms of action and their interactions with biologically active compounds. Thus, in the present study, a new Schiff base (Bz-Im) derivative from 2-(m-aminophenyl)benzimidazole and 2,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde was synthesized and characterized by spectroscopic and spectrometric techniques. Interaction studies of (Bz-Im) with two synthetic membrane models prepared with 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and DMPC/1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol (DMPG) 3:1 mixture, imitating eukaryotic and prokaryotic membranes, respectively, were performed by applying differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Molecular dynamics simulations were also developed to better understand their interactions. In vitro and in silico assays provided approaches to understand the effect of Bz-Im on these lipid systems. The DSC results showed that, at low compound concentrations, the effects were similar in both membrane models. By increasing the concentration of Bz-Im, the DMPC/DMPG membrane exhibited greater fluidity as a result of the interaction with Bz-Im. On the other hand, molecular dynamics studies carried out on the erythrocyte membrane model using the phospholipids POPE (1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine), SM (N-(15Z-tetracosenoyl)-sphing-4-enine-1-phosphocholine), and POPC (1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) revealed that after 30 ns of interaction, both hydrophobic interactions and hydrogen bonds were responsible for the affinity of Bz-Im for PE and SM. The interactions of the imine with POPG (1-Palmitoyl-2-Oleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphoglycerol) in the E. coli membrane model were mainly based on hydrophobic interactions.
Published: 15 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060447

α-crystallin is a major protein found in the mammalian eye lens that works as a molecular chaperone by preventing the aggregation of proteins and providing tolerance to stress in the eye lens. These functions of α-crystallin are significant for maintaining lens transparency. However, with age and cataract formation, the concentration of α-crystallin in the eye lens cytoplasm decreases with a corresponding increase in the membrane-bound α-crystallin, accompanied by increased light scattering. The purpose of this review is to summarize previous and recent findings of the role of the: (1) lens membrane components, i.e., the major phospholipids (PLs) and sphingolipids, cholesterol (Chol), cholesterol bilayer domains (CBDs), and the integral membrane proteins aquaporin-0 (AQP0; formally MIP26) and connexins, and (2) α-crystallin mutations and post-translational modifications (PTMs) in the association of α-crystallin to the eye lens’s fiber cell plasma membrane, providing thorough insights into a molecular basis of such an association. Furthermore, this review highlights the current knowledge and need for further studies to understand the fundamental molecular processes involved in the association of α-crystallin to the lens membrane, potentially leading to new avenues for preventing cataract formation and progression.
Published: 15 June 2021
Membranes, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/membranes11060444

Due to the high similarity in composition and structure between lanolin and human SC lipids, we will work with two models from wool wax. Two types of lanolin were evaluated: one extracted with water and surfactants (WEL) and the other extracted with organic solvents (SEL). Skin permeation and skin penetration studies were performed with two active compounds to study the feasibility of the use of lanolin-based synthetic membranes as models of mammalian skin. Diclofenac sodium and lidocaine were selected as the active compounds considering that they have different chemical natures and different lipophilicities. In the permeation assay with SEL, a better correlation was obtained with the less permeable compound diclofenac sodium. This assay suggests the feasibility of using artificial membranes with SEL as a model for percutaneous absorption studies, even though the lipophilic barrier should be improved. Penetration profiles of the APIs through the SEL and WEL membranes indicated that the two membranes diminish penetration and can be considered good membrane surrogates for skin permeability studies. However, the WEL membranes, with a pH value similar to that of the skin surface, promoted a higher degree of diminution of the permeability of the two drugs, similar to those found for the skin.
Back to Top Top