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PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0275054
The objective of this work is to examine disparities in the completion of substance use disorder treatment in the U.S. Our data is from the Treatment Episode Dataset Discharge (TEDS-D) datasets from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for 2017–2019. We apply a two-stage virtual twins model (random forest + decision tree) where, in the first stage (random forest), we determine differences in treatment completion probability associated with race/ethnicity, income source, no co-occurrence of mental health disorders, gender (biological), no health insurance, veteran status, age, and primary substance (alcohol or opioid). In the second stage (decision tree), we identify subgroups associated with probability differences, where such subgroups are more or less likely to complete treatment. We find the subgroups most likely to complete substance use disorder treatment, when the subgroup represents more than 1% of the sample, are those with no mental health condition co-occurrence (4.8% more likely when discharged from an ambulatory outpatient treatment program, representing 62% of the sample; and 10% more likely for one of the more specifically defined subgroups representing 10% of the sample), an income source of job-related wages/salary (4.3% more likely when not having used in the 30 days primary to discharge and when primary substance is not alcohol only, representing 28% of the sample), and white non-Hispanics (2.7% more likely when discharged from residential long-term treatment, representing 9% of the sample). Important implications are that: 1) those without a co-occurring mental health condition are the most likely to complete treatment, 2) those with job related wages or income are more likely to complete treatment, and 3) racial/ethnicity disparities persist in favor of white non-Hispanic individuals seeking to complete treatment. Thus, additional resources may be needed to combat such disparities.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0274748
Self-sovereign identity authentication protocol is an active research topic in the field of identity authentication and management. However, the current SSI authentication protocols pay little attention to privacy protection and the fine-grained access control. Therefore, a secure and decentralized SSI authentication protocol with privacy protection and fine-grained access control is proposed. Firstly, the formal model of SSI including the SDPP-SSI identity model and management model is presented. And then, based on the federated blockchain, the distributed identifier is used as a global identifier for users in the decentralized domain. Finally, the verifiable statement is encapsulated using a policy control signature supporting privacy protection to develop the user’s access control for identity registration in the centralized domain. Compared with the related work (Lin 2018, Zhu 2018, Stokkink 2018, Hammudoglu 2017, Othman 2017, Abraham 2018, Guan 2019, Lin 2019) from controllability, security, flexibility, privacy protection, authentication and fine-grained access control, the proposed SSI authentication protocol not only meets controllability, authentication, and flexibility, but also supports privacy protection and fine-grained access control.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0275019
Background: A number of circulating micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) have been introduced as convincing predictive determinants in a variety of cardiovascular diseases. This study aimed to evaluate some miRNAs’ diagnostic and prognostic value in patients with acute heart failure (AHF). Method: Forty-four AHF patients were randomly selected from a tertiary heart center, and 44 healthy participants were included in the control group. Plasma levels of assessed miRNAs, including miR -1, -21, -23, and -423-5-p were measured in both groups. The patients were followed for one year, and several clinical outcomes, including in-hospital mortality, one-year mortality, and the number of readmissions, were recorded. Results: An overall 88 plasma samples were evaluated. There was no significant difference in terms of demographic characteristics between the AHF and healthy groups. Our findings revealed that mean levels of miR-1, -21, -23, and -423-5-p in AHF patients were significantly higher than in the control group. Although all assessed miRNAs demonstrated high diagnostic potential, the highest sensitivity (77.2%) and specificity (97.7%) is related to miR-1 for the values above 1.22 (p = 0.001, AUC = 0.841; 95%CI, 0.751 to 946). Besides, the levels of miR-21 and -23 were significantly lower in patients with ischemia-induced HF. However, the follow-up data demonstrated no significant association between miRNAs and prognostic outcomes including in-hospital mortality, one-year mortality, and the number of readmissions. Conclusion: The result of our study demonstrated that miR-1, -21, -23, and -423-5-p can be taken into account as diagnostic aids for AHF. Nevertheless, there was no evidence supporting the efficacy of these miRNAs as prognostic factors in our study.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0271057
Bovine pregnancy-associated glycoproteins (boPAGs) are extensively glycosylated secretory proteins of trophoblast cells. Roughly 20 different boPAG members are known but their distribution patterns and degree of glycosylation during pregnancy are not well characterized. The objective of the present study was the development of a parallel reaction monitoring-based assay for the profiling of different boPAGs during pregnancy and after gestation. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of N-glycosylation on our analytical results. BoPAGs were purified from cotyledons of four different pregnancy stages. The assay detects 25 proteotypic peptides from 18 boPAGs in a single run. The highest abundances were found for boPAG 1 in both, glycosylated and deglycosylated samples. Strongest effects of glycosylation were detected during mid and late pregnancy as well as in afterbirth samples. Furthermore, we identified different boPAG-clusters based on the observed relative protein abundances between glycosylated and deglycosylated samples. A linkage between the impact of glycosylation and potential N-glycosylation sites or phylogenetic relation was not detected. In conclusion, the newly developed parallel reaction monitoring-based assay enables for the first time a comprehensive semi-quantitative profiling of 18 different boPAGs during pregnancy and post-partum on protein level, thereby investigating the influence of glycosylation. The results of this study provide new and important starting points to address further research on boPAGs to better understand their physiological role during pregnancy and for the development of new pregnancy detection tests.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273776
Background: Manicaland province in eastern Zimbabwe has a high incidence of HIV. Completion of the seventh round of the Manicaland Survey in 2018–2019 provided the opportunity to assess the state of the epidemic prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study aims were to: a) estimate HIV seroprevalence and assess whether prevalence has declined since the last round of the survey (2012–2013), b) describe and analyse the socio-demographic and behavioural risk factors for HIV infection and c) describe the HIV treatment cascade. Methods: Participants were administered individual questionnaires collecting data on socio-demographic characteristics, sexual relationships, HIV prevention methods and treatment access, and were tested for HIV. Descriptive analyses were followed by univariate and multivariate analyses of risk factors for HIV seropositvity using logistic regression modelling based on the proximate-determinants framework. Results: HIV prevalence was 11.3% [95% CI; 10.6–12.0] and was higher in females than males up to 45–49 years. Since 2012–2013 HIV prevalence has significantly declined in 30–44 year-olds in males, and 20–44 year-olds in females. The HIV epidemic has aged since 2012–2013, with an increase in the mean age of HIV positive persons from 38 to 41 years. Socio-demographic determinants of HIV prevalence were church denomination in males, site-type, wealth-status, employment sector and alcohol use in females, and age and marital status in both sexes. Behavioural determinants associated with increased odds of HIV were a higher number of regular sexual partners (lifetime), non-regular sexual partners (lifetime) and condom use in both sexes, and early sexual debut and concomitant STIs in females; medical circumcision was protective in males. HIV status awareness among participants testing positive in our study was low at 66.2%. ART coverage amongst all participants testing positive for HIV in our study was 65.0% and was lower in urban areas than rural areas, particularly in males. Conclusions: Prevalence has declined, and ART coverage increased, since 2012–2013. Majority of the associations with prevalence hypothesised by the theoretical framework were not observed in our data, likely due to underreporting of sexual risk behaviours or the treatment-as-prevention effect of ART curtailing the probability of transmission despite high levels of sexual risk behaviour. Further reductions in HIV incidence require strengthened primary prevention, HIV testing and linkage to risk behaviour counselling services. Our results serve as a valuable baseline against which to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV prevalence and its determinants in Manicaland, Zimbabwe, and target interventions appropriately.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0274678
Introduction: Moringa stenopetala Bak. Cuf. is a native plant of Ethiopia with important nutraceutical applications. However, little is known about its nutritional, ethno-pharmaceutical and therapeutic properties. Hence, the present study sought to assess the nutraceutical applications of M. stenopetala among traditional healers in southern Ethiopia. Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted on 50 selected administrative units in Gamo Gofa, Segen areas and south Omo zones of southern Ethiopia from May to June 2020. Data were gathered using a semi-structured interview, field observation, and group discussion. Both quantitative and qualitative data were analysed using Excel 2019 and open code version 4.03, respectively. The results were presented using descriptive statistics, with the fidelity level (FL)% used to distinguish the preferential use of various plant parts. Results: A total of 120 individuals participated in the study, and the majority of them, 89 (74.2%), were male and farmers by occupation. Eight four (70%) of them were residents of the Gamo Gofa Zone. The fidelity level revealed that the leaf and root were the most commonly used parts for nutraceutical purposes. Remarkably, M. stenopetala is used to treat human ailments such as leprosy and kidney and liver infections via various modes of utilisation and administration. As a result, the most common methods of utilising plant products are chewing or consuming crushed plant parts, and the oral route is the much-preferred method of application. On the other hand, the larvae of Moringa moth Nurda blitealis, are a defoliating insect during the rainy season and have been identified as a limiting factor for its production. Conclusions: The nutraceutical aspects of M. stenopetala are extremely important to the rural community in southern Ethiopia. However, the defoliating moth larvae threaten its growth and biomass production, necessitating the need to manage and improve the plant’s productivity and sustainable use. Additionally, conducting experimental studies to validate the plant’s pharmacological potential correspond to a milestone in drug discovery.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0270173
Seamless DNA vectors derived from bacterial plasmids are devoid of bacterial genetic elements and represent attractive alternatives for biomedical applications including DNA vaccines. Larger scale production of seamless vectors employs engineered Escherichia coli strains in order to enable tightly regulated expression of site-specific DNA recombinases which precisely delete unwanted sequences from bacterial plasmids. As a novel component of a developing lambda integrase genome editing platform, we describe here strain MG1655-ISC as a means to easily produce different scales of seamless vectors, ranging in size from a few hundred base pairs to more than ten kilo base pairs. Since we employed an engineered lambda integrase that is able to efficiently recombine pairs of DNA crossover sites that differ in sequence, the resulting seamless vectors will be useful for subsequent genome editing in higher eukaryotes to accommodate variations in target site sequences. Future inclusion of single cognate sites for other genome targeting systems could enable modularity. These features, together with the demonstrated simplicity of in vivo seamless vector production, add to their utility in the biomedical space.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0274812
Compliance to infection control measures may be influenced both by the fear of negative consequences of a pandemic, but also by the expectation to be able to handle the pandemic’s challenges. We performed a survey on a representative sample for Norway (N = 4,083) in the first weeks of the COVID-19 lock-down in March 2020. We had preregistered hypotheses to test the effect of optimism and perceived risk on compliance. Perceived risk had small effects on increasing compliance and on leading to more careful information gathering. The expected negative association between optimism and compliance was not supported, and there was instead a small positive association. We found a small effect that optimism was associated with seeing less risk from the pandemic and with a larger optimistic bias. Finally, an exploratory analysis showed that seeing the infection control measures as being effective in protecting others explained a substantial proportion of the variation in compliance. The study indicates that how we think about pandemic risk has complex and non-intuitive relationships with compliance. Our beliefs and motivations toward infection control measures appears to be important for compliance.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0273816
Background: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has brought about severe negative livelihood consequences for rural households worldwide. However, the heterogeneity and dynamics of livelihood impacts have been under-researched. There is also lacking a livelihood assessment of the pandemic based on a whole pandemic cycle. This study aimed to investigate the dynamic and heterogeneous livelihood impacts of COVID-19 pandemic for rural households in 2020 based on a case study of Southeast China. Methods: The pandemic in China had experienced a complete cycle from initial outbreak, to intermediate recovery and finally new normal stage in 2020. We conducted face-to-face interviews with 95 rural households randomly drawn from 2 rural villages in Xunwu County, Jiangxi Province, Southeast China. The sampled households are interviewed with a questionnaire through face-to-face surveys in February and March, 2021 to evaluate the overall livelihood impacts of the pandemic during 2020. The survey collected data on demographic and economic characteristics, governmental control measures, and effects of the COVID-19 on agricultural production, employment, income, education, and daily life. In-depth interviews are also conducted to clarify the livelihood impacts of COVID-19 on villages. Results: Results showed that the pandemic tremendously caused substantially negative livelihood impacts, including decreasing household income, and disorders in daily lives. The average income loss of all survey households is 6,842 RMB, accounting for 13.01% of the total household income in 2020. Containment measures also resulted in a series of disturbances in daily lives, such as rising food price additional expenditures, travel restrictions, party restrictions, closure of schools and deceasing living standards. There is remarkable household heterogeneity in the livelihood impacts. Results also revealed that the livelihood strategies of rural households to cope with the threat of COVID-19 were different in various pandemic stages. Conclusion: Our findings have illustrated the severity and heterogeneity of livelihood impacts on rural households induced by COVID-19 pandemic. The dynamics of livelihood impacts is also highlighted in the study. Several policy suggestion was proposed to mitigate these negative consequences of the pandemic.
PLoS ONE, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0274487
The endothelium maintains and regulates vascular homeostasis mainly by balancing interplay between vasorelaxation and vasoconstriction via regulating Nitric Oxide (NO) availability. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is one of three NOS isoforms that catalyses the synthesis of NO to regulate endothelial function. However, eNOS’s role in the regulation of endothelial function, such as cell proliferation and migration remain unclear. To gain a better understanding, we genetically knocked down eNOS in cultured endothelial cells using sieNOS and evaluated cell proliferation, migration and also tube forming potential in vitro. To our surprise, loss of eNOS significantly induced endothelial cell proliferation, which was associated with significant downregulation of both cell cycle inhibitor p21 and cell proliferation antigen Ki-67. Knockdown of eNOS induced cell migration but inhibited formation of tube-like structures in vitro. Mechanistically, loss of eNOS was associated with activation of MAPK/ERK and inhibition of PI3-K/AKT signaling pathway. On the contrary, pharmacologic inhibition of eNOS by inhibitors L-NAME or L-NMMA, inhibited cell proliferation. Genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of eNOS, both promoted endothelial cell migration but inhibited tube-forming potential. Our findings confirm that eNOS regulate endothelial function by inversely controlling endothelial cell proliferation and migration, and by directly regulating its tube-forming potential. Differential results obtained following pharmacologic versus genetic inhibition of eNOS indicates a more complex mechanism behind eNOS regulation and activity in endothelial cells, warranting further investigation.