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16 pages, 2653 KiB  
Article
Stable Patterns in the Lugiato–Lefever Equation with a Confined Vortex Pump
by Shatrughna Kumar, Wesley B. Cardoso and Boris A. Malomed
Symmetry 2024, 16(4), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym16040470 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
We introduce a model of a passive optical cavity based on a novel variety of the two-dimensional Lugiato–Lefever equation, with a localized pump carrying intrinsic vorticity S, and the cubic or cubic–quintic nonlinearity. Up to S=5, stable confined vortex [...] Read more.
We introduce a model of a passive optical cavity based on a novel variety of the two-dimensional Lugiato–Lefever equation, with a localized pump carrying intrinsic vorticity S, and the cubic or cubic–quintic nonlinearity. Up to S=5, stable confined vortex ring states (vortex pixels) are produced by means of a variational approximation and in a numerical form. Surprisingly, vast stability areas of the vortex states are found, for both the self-focusing and defocusing signs of the nonlinearity, in the plane of the pump and loss parameters. When the vortex rings are unstable, they are destroyed by azimuthal perturbations, which break the axial symmetry. The results suggest new possibilities for mode manipulations in passive nonlinear photonic media by means of appropriately designed pump beams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers on Nonlinear Dynamics)
17 pages, 2895 KiB  
Article
The Development of a Regulator of Human Serine Racemase for N-Methyl-D-aspartate Function
by Lu-Ping Lu, Wei-Hua Chang, Yi-Wen Mao, Min-Chi Cheng, Xiao-Yi Zhuang, Chi-Sheng Kuo, Yi-An Lai, Tsai-Miao Shih, Teh-Ying Chou and Guochuan Emil Tsai
Biomedicines 2024, 12(4), 853; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines12040853 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
It is crucial to regulate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) function bivalently depending on the central nervous system (CNS) conditions. CNS disorders with NMDA hyperfunction are involved in the pathogenesis of neurotoxic and/or neurodegenerative disorders with elevated D-serine, one of the NMDA receptor co-agonists. On the [...] Read more.
It is crucial to regulate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) function bivalently depending on the central nervous system (CNS) conditions. CNS disorders with NMDA hyperfunction are involved in the pathogenesis of neurotoxic and/or neurodegenerative disorders with elevated D-serine, one of the NMDA receptor co-agonists. On the contrary, NMDA-enhancing agents have been demonstrated to improve psychotic symptoms and cognition in CNS disorders with NMDA hypofunction. Serine racemase (SR), the enzyme regulating both D- and L-serine levels through both racemization (catalysis from L-serine to D-serine) and β-elimination (degradation of both D- and L-serine), emerges as a promising target for bidirectional regulation of NMDA function. In this study, we explored using dimethyl malonate (DMM), a pro-drug of the SR inhibitor malonate, to modulate NMDA activity in C57BL/6J male mice via intravenous administration. Unexpectedly, 400 mg/kg DMM significantly elevated, rather than decreased (as a racemization inhibitor), D-serine levels in the cerebral cortex and plasma. This outcome prompted us to investigate the regulatory effects of dodecagalloyl-α-D-xylose (α12G), a synthesized tannic acid analog, on SR activity. Our findings showed that α12G enhanced the racemization activity of human SR by about 8-fold. The simulated and fluorescent assay of binding affinity suggested a noncooperative binding close to the catalytic residues, Lys56 and Ser84. Moreover, α12G treatment can improve behaviors associated with major CNS disorders with NMDA hypofunction including hyperactivity, prepulse inhibition deficit, and memory impairment in animal models of positive symptoms and cognitive impairment of psychosis. In sum, our findings suggested α12G is a potential therapeutic for treating CNS disorders with NMDA hypofunction. Full article
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22 pages, 4454 KiB  
Article
Combined Analysis of Untargeted Metabolomics and Transcriptomics Revealed Seed Germination and Seedling Establishment in Zelkova schneideriana
by Fengxia Yan, Tangmei Wei, Chao Yang, Yanbing Yang, Zaiqi Luo and Yunli Jiang
Genes 2024, 15(4), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes15040488 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Zelkova schneideriana Hand.-Mazz is a valuable ornamental tree and timber source, whose seedling breeding and large-scale cultivation are restricted by low seed germination and seedling rates. The regulatory mechanisms underlying seed germination and seedling establishment in Z. schneideriana remain unknown. This study conducted [...] Read more.
Zelkova schneideriana Hand.-Mazz is a valuable ornamental tree and timber source, whose seedling breeding and large-scale cultivation are restricted by low seed germination and seedling rates. The regulatory mechanisms underlying seed germination and seedling establishment in Z. schneideriana remain unknown. This study conducted metabolomic and transcriptomic analyses of seed germination and seedling establishment in Z. schneideriana. Regular expression of genes and metabolite levels has been observed in plant hormone signal transduction, starch and sucrose metabolism, linoleic acid metabolism, and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis. The reduction in abscisic acid during seed germination may lead to seed release from dormancy. After the seed is released from dormancy, the metabolic levels of auxin, cytokinins, brassinolide, and various sugars are elevated, and they are consumed in large quantities during the seedling establishment stage. Linoleic acid metabolism is gradually activated during seedling establishment. Transcriptome analysis showed that a large number of genes in different metabolic pathways are upregulated during plant establishment, and material metabolism may be accelerated during seedling establishment. Genes regulating carbohydrate metabolism are altered during seed germination and seedling establishment, which may have altered the efficiency of carbohydrate utilization. In addition, the syntheses of lignin monomers and cellulose have different characteristics at different stages. These results provide new insights into the complex mechanisms underlying seed germination and seedling establishment in Z. schneideriana and other woody plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
10 pages, 402 KiB  
Article
Obesity Surgery Mortality Risk Score as a Predictor for Intensive Care Unit Admission in Patients Undergoing Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery
by Paola Aceto, Roberto De Cicco, Claudia Calabrese, Irene Marusco, Filippo Del Tedesco, Ersilia Luca, Cristina Modesti, Teresa Sacco, Liliana Sollazzi, Luigi Ciccoritti, Francesco Greco, Piero Giustacchini, Francesco Pennestrì, Pierpaolo Gallucci and Marco Raffaelli
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(8), 2252; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13082252 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Background: Laparoscopic bariatric surgery provides many benefits including lower postoperative pain scores, reduced opioid consumption, shorter hospital stays, and improved quality of recovery. However, the anaesthetic management of obese patients requires caution in determining postoperative risk and in planning adequate postoperative pathways. Currently, [...] Read more.
Background: Laparoscopic bariatric surgery provides many benefits including lower postoperative pain scores, reduced opioid consumption, shorter hospital stays, and improved quality of recovery. However, the anaesthetic management of obese patients requires caution in determining postoperative risk and in planning adequate postoperative pathways. Currently, there are no specific indications for intensive care unit (ICU) admission in this surgical population and most decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The aim of this study is to investigate whether Obesity Surgery Mortality Risk Score (OS-MRS) is able to predict ICU admission in patients undergoing laparoscopic bariatric surgery (LBS). Methods: We retrospectively reviewed data of patients who underwent LBS during a 2-year period (2017–2019). The collected data included demographics, comorbidities and surgery-related variables. Postoperative ICU admission was decided via bariatric anaesthesiologists’ evaluations, based on the high risk of postoperative cardiac or respiratory complications. Anaesthesia protocol was standardized. Logistic regression was used for statistical analysis. Results: ICU admission was required in 2% (n = 15) of the 763 patients. The intermediate risk group of the OS-MRS was detected in 84% of patients, while the American Society of Anaesthesiologists class III was reported in 80% of patients. A greater OS-MRS (p = 0.01), advanced age (p = 0.04), male gender (p = 0.001), longer duration of surgery (0.0001), increased number of patient comorbidities (p = 0.002), and previous abdominal surgeries (p = 0.003) were predictive factors for ICU admission. Conclusions: ICU admission in obese patients undergoing LBS is predicted by OS-MRS together with age, male gender, number of comorbidities, previous abdominal surgeries, and duration of surgery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights in Laparoscopic Surgery)
13 pages, 2027 KiB  
Article
Automatic Segmentation of Bone Marrow Lesions on MRI Using a Deep Learning Method
by Raj Ponnusamy, Ming Zhang, Yue Wang, Xinyue Sun, Mohammad Chowdhury, Jeffrey B. Driban, Timothy McAlindon and Juan Shan
Bioengineering 2024, 11(4), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering11040374 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Bone marrow lesion (BML) volume is a potential biomarker of knee osteoarthritis (KOA) as it is associated with cartilage degeneration and pain. However, segmenting and quantifying the BML volume is challenging due to the small size, low contrast, and various positions where the [...] Read more.
Bone marrow lesion (BML) volume is a potential biomarker of knee osteoarthritis (KOA) as it is associated with cartilage degeneration and pain. However, segmenting and quantifying the BML volume is challenging due to the small size, low contrast, and various positions where the BML may occur. It is also time-consuming to delineate BMLs manually. In this paper, we proposed a fully automatic segmentation method for BMLs without requiring human intervention. The model takes intermediate weighted fat-suppressed (IWFS) magnetic resonance (MR) images as input, and the output BML masks are evaluated using both regular 2D Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) of the slice-level area metric and 3D DSC of the subject-level volume metric. On a dataset with 300 subjects, each subject has a sequence of 36 IWFS MR images approximately. We randomly separated the dataset into training, validation, and testing sets with a 70%/15%/15% split at the subject level. Since not every subject or image has a BML, we excluded the images without a BML in each subset. The ground truth of the BML was labeled by trained medical staff using a semi-automatic tool. Compared with the ground truth, the proposed segmentation method achieved a Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.98 between the manually measured volumes and automatically segmented volumes, a 2D DSC of 0.68, and a 3D DSC of 0.60 on the testing set. Although the DSC result is not high, the high correlation of 0.98 indicates that the automatically measured BML volume is strongly correlated with the manually measured BML volume, which shows the potential to use the proposed method as an automatic measurement tool for the BML biomarker to facilitate the assessment of knee OA progression. Full article
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23 pages, 529 KiB  
Article
Characterizing Factors Associated with Excess Body Weight: A Descriptive Study Using Principal Component Analysis in a Population with Overweight and Obesity
by Álvaro Fernández-Cardero, José Luis Sierra-Cinos, Adrián López-Jiménez, Beatriz Beltrán, Carmen Cuadrado, María Teresa García-Conesa, Laura Bravo and Beatriz Sarriá
Nutrients 2024, 16(8), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16081143 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Obesity is a worldwide epidemic, making it crucial to understand how it can be effectively prevented/treated. Considering that obesity is a multifactorial condition, this article carried out a baseline cross-sectional study of the variables involved in the disorder. Eighty-four subjects with overweight/obesity were [...] Read more.
Obesity is a worldwide epidemic, making it crucial to understand how it can be effectively prevented/treated. Considering that obesity is a multifactorial condition, this article carried out a baseline cross-sectional study of the variables involved in the disorder. Eighty-four subjects with overweight/obesity were recruited. Dietary baseline information was obtained by analysing three 24 h recalls. Resting metabolic rate was measured using indirect calorimetry, physical activity was measured through accelerometry, cardiometabolic parameters were determined in blood samples and body composition via anthropometry and bioimpedance. A univariant and multivariate exploratory approach was carried out using principal component analysis (PCA). Large inter-individual variability was observed in dietetic, biochemical, and physical activity measurements (coefficient of variation ≥ 30%), but body composition was more uniform. Volunteers had an unbalanced diet and low levels of physical activity. PCA reduced the 26 analysed variables to 4 factors, accounting for 65.4% of the total data variance. The main factor was the “dietetic factor”, responsible for 24.0% of the total variance and mainly related to energy intake, lipids, and saturated fatty acids. The second was the “cardiometabolic factor” (explaining 16.8% of the variability), the third was the “adiposity factor” (15.2%), and the last was the “serum cholesterol factor” (9.4%). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition, Physical Activity and Chronic Disease—2nd Edition)
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19 pages, 11964 KiB  
Article
Translating Words to Worlds: Zero-Shot Synthesis of 3D Terrain from Textual Descriptions Using Large Language Models
by Guangzi Zhang, Lizhe Chen, Yu Zhang, Yan Liu, Yuyao Ge and Xingquan Cai
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(8), 3257; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14083257 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
The current research on text-guided 3D synthesis predominantly utilizes complex diffusion models, posing significant challenges in tasks like terrain generation. This study ventures into the direct synthesis of text-to-3D terrain in a zero-shot fashion, circumventing the need for diffusion models. By exploiting the [...] Read more.
The current research on text-guided 3D synthesis predominantly utilizes complex diffusion models, posing significant challenges in tasks like terrain generation. This study ventures into the direct synthesis of text-to-3D terrain in a zero-shot fashion, circumventing the need for diffusion models. By exploiting the large language model’s inherent spatial awareness, we innovatively formulate a method to update existing 3D models through text, thereby enhancing their accuracy. Specifically, we introduce a Gaussian–Voronoi map data structure that converts simplistic map summaries into detailed terrain heightmaps. Employing a chain-of-thought behavior tree approach, which combines action chains and thought trees, the model is guided to analyze a variety of textual inputs and extract relevant terrain data, effectively bridging the gap between textual descriptions and 3D models. Furthermore, we develop a text–terrain re-editing technique utilizing multiagent reasoning, allowing for the dynamic update of the terrain’s representational structure. Our experimental results indicate that this method proficiently interprets the spatial information embedded in the text and generates controllable 3D terrains with superior visual quality. Full article
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14 pages, 2206 KiB  
Article
New Transferrin Receptor-Targeted Peptide–Doxorubicin Conjugates: Synthesis and In Vitro Antitumor Activity
by Jiale Yu, Xiaoxia Mao, Xue Yang, Guiqin Zhao and Songtao Li
Molecules 2024, 29(8), 1758; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29081758 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Poor selectivity to tumor cells is a major drawback in the clinical application of the antitumor drug doxorubicin (DOX). Peptide–drug conjugates (PDCs) constructed by modifying antitumor drugs with peptide ligands that have high affinity to certain overexpressed receptors in tumor cells are increasingly [...] Read more.
Poor selectivity to tumor cells is a major drawback in the clinical application of the antitumor drug doxorubicin (DOX). Peptide–drug conjugates (PDCs) constructed by modifying antitumor drugs with peptide ligands that have high affinity to certain overexpressed receptors in tumor cells are increasingly assessed for their possibility of tumor-selective drug delivery. However, peptide ligands composed of natural L-configuration amino acids have the defects of easy enzymatic degradation and insufficient biological stability. In this study, two new PDCs (LT7-SS-DOX and DT7-SS-DOX) were designed and synthesized by conjugating a transferrin receptor (TfR) peptide ligand LT7 (HAIYPRH) and its retro-inverso analog DT7 (hrpyiah), respectively, with DOX via a disulfide bond linker. Both conjugates exhibited targeted antiproliferative effects on TfR overexpressed tumor cells and little toxicity to TfR low-expressed normal cells compared with free DOX. Moreover, the DT7-SS-DOX conjugate possessed higher serum stability, more sustained reduction-triggered drug release characteristics, and stronger in vitro antiproliferative activity as compared to LT7-SS-DOX. In conclusion, the coupling of antitumor drugs with the DT7 peptide ligand can be used as a promising strategy for the further development of stable and efficient PDCs with the potential to facilitate TfR-targeted drug delivery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Development of Peptides and Peptide-Modified Delivery Systems)
32 pages, 9317 KiB  
Review
Cell Membrane-Coated Biomimetic Nanoparticles in Cancer Treatment
by Shu Zhang, Xiaojuan Zhang, Huan Gao, Xiaoqin Zhang, Lidan Sun, Yueyan Huang, Jie Zhang and Baoyue Ding
Pharmaceutics 2024, 16(4), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics16040531 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems hold promise for cancer treatment by enhancing the solubility and stability of anti-tumor drugs. Nonetheless, the challenges of inadequate targeting and limited biocompatibility persist. In recent years, cell membrane nano-biomimetic drug delivery systems have emerged as a focal point [...] Read more.
Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems hold promise for cancer treatment by enhancing the solubility and stability of anti-tumor drugs. Nonetheless, the challenges of inadequate targeting and limited biocompatibility persist. In recent years, cell membrane nano-biomimetic drug delivery systems have emerged as a focal point of research and development, due to their exceptional traits, including precise targeting, low toxicity, and good biocompatibility. This review outlines the categorization and advantages of cell membrane bionic nano-delivery systems, provides an introduction to preparation methods, and assesses their applications in cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, photothermal therapy, and combination therapy. Notably, the review delves into the challenges in the application of various cell membrane bionic nano-delivery systems and identifies opportunities for future advancement. Embracing cell membrane-coated biomimetic nanoparticles presents a novel and unparalleled avenue for personalized tumor therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology)
11 pages, 584 KiB  
Article
Case Series of Endoscopic Papillary Balloon Dilation for Children with Common Bile Duct Stones and a Review of the Literature
by Katsunori Kouchi, Ayako Takenouchi, Aki Matsuoka, Kiyoaki Yabe, Hiroko Yoshizawa, Chikako Nakata, Jun Fujishiro and Harutoshi Sugiyama
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(8), 2251; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13082251 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Background: Endoscopic sphincterotomy (EST) has been employed for the endoscopic treatment of common bile duct stones (CBDSs) and has been reported to have a high success rate for stone removal. However, EST is associated with a risk of bleeding, perforation, and sphincter of [...] Read more.
Background: Endoscopic sphincterotomy (EST) has been employed for the endoscopic treatment of common bile duct stones (CBDSs) and has been reported to have a high success rate for stone removal. However, EST is associated with a risk of bleeding, perforation, and sphincter of Oddi function disruption. To avoid these risks, endoscopic papillary balloon dilation (EPBD) is an option for CBDS. Sphincter of Oddi function preservation decreases long-term biliary infection and gallstone recurrence. EPBD may have advantages in children who require a long follow up. However, there have been few reports on pediatric cases, particularly in infants. Methods: From September 2017 to December 2023, we performed EPBD for four pediatric CBDSs. The patients were aged from 5 months to 8 years, including two infants aged 5 and 6 months. Furthermore, we reviewed the stone removal rate and complications of 545 ESTs performed at high-volume centers and 13 EPBD-reported cases in children with CBDSs. Results: CBDSs of all patients who underwent EPBD in our institution were successfully removed. No bleeding or perforation was noted; pancreatitis was observed in three patients. In an analysis of 545 ESTs in children, the stone removal rate was high, ranging from 83% to 100% (mean 96%). The incidence of pancreatitis was 0–9.6% (mean 4.4%), and the grade of pancreatitis was almost mild. The bleeding frequency was 1.3–5.4% (mean 2.7%). With regards to the grade of bleeding, seven cases were mild (64%) and four were moderate (36%). Compared with adults who underwent EST, the frequencies of pancreatitis and bleeding were almost equal in children; however, in children, once bleeding occurs, it has a higher risk of leading to blood transfusion. Stone removal via EPBD in children has a 100% success rate. Pancreatitis was responsible for all complications were related; its frequency was 46% (6/13 patients, including five mild cases and one moderate case), which is higher than that of EST and adult cases who underwent EPBD. In most children with pancreatitis, pancreatic enzyme levels returned to normal within 2–3 days following EPBD, and no severe cases caused by EPBD were reported. Conclusions: CBDS removal via EPBD in children has a high success rate with very low risk of bleeding and perforation. Although pancreatitis frequently occurs, most cases are mild. Sphincter of Oddi function preservation via EPBD is expected to prevent long-term stone recurrence and biliary tract infection, and EPBD is considered to be an effective method for CBDS removal in children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy)
15 pages, 2254 KiB  
Article
Effect of Relative Humidity on the Rate of New Particle Formation for Different VOCs
by Austin C. Flueckiger and Giuseppe A. Petrucci
Atmosphere 2024, 15(4), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos15040480 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) is an important source of aerosol particles and cloud condensation nuclei, which affect both climate and human health. In pristine environments, oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a major contributor to NPF. However, the impact of [...] Read more.
Atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) is an important source of aerosol particles and cloud condensation nuclei, which affect both climate and human health. In pristine environments, oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a major contributor to NPF. However, the impact of relative humidity (RH) on NPF from these precursors remains poorly understood. Herein, we report on NPF, as inferred from measurements of total particle number density with a particle diameter (dp) > 7 nm, from three VOCs (sabinene, α-terpineol, and myrtenol) subjected to dark ozonolysis. From a series of comparative experiments under humid (60% RH) and dry (~0% RH) conditions and a variety of VOC mixing ratios (ξVOC, parts per billion by volume, ppbv), we show varied behavior in NPF at elevated RH depending on the VOC and ξVOC. In general, RH-dependent enhancement of NPF at an ξVOC between <1 ppbv and 20 ppbv was observed for select VOCs. Our results suggest that gaseous water at particle genesis enhances NPF by promoting the formation of low-volatility organic compound gas-phase products (LVOCs). This is supported by measurements of the rate of NPF for α-pinene-derived SOA, where RH had a greater influence on the initial rate of NPF than did ξVOC and ξO3. Full article
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20 pages, 1301 KiB  
Article
Structural Analysis of Pedagogic Mediation in a Foreign Language Classroom
by Nora Kats, Anna Rubtsova and Daria Bylieva
Educ. Sci. 2024, 14(4), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci14040405 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Cultural diffusion and a paradigm shift from a “skill-based” approach to an “action-oriented” approach in language pedagogy transform the functions of an educator in a foreign language classroom. A language instructor accepts an intermediatory role in learners’ interactions with the environment, using language [...] Read more.
Cultural diffusion and a paradigm shift from a “skill-based” approach to an “action-oriented” approach in language pedagogy transform the functions of an educator in a foreign language classroom. A language instructor accepts an intermediatory role in learners’ interactions with the environment, using language as a primary mediation tool. Thus, by being involved in varied social contexts and activities, a language educator mediates learning, communication, and sociocultural environments. This study relies on a structural analysis to investigate the mediating role of a language educator. It suggests that pedagogic mediation should be viewed as a specific form of language educators’ activity and described through three dimensions: mediating learning, mediating communication, and mediating sociocultural space. In the teaching and learning context, these dimensions manifest themselves as skills to adapt to the instructional and linguistic complexity of texts, manage interaction, facilitate communication in sensitive situations, etc. Drawing upon a phenomenological research design and qualitative methods, the study develops illustrative descriptors that can be used in a foreign language classroom to assess the patterns of social, instructional, and communicative behavior of educators. The developed descriptors allowed for exploring the self-perceptions of pre-service language teachers towards their abilities for pedagogic mediation in a foreign language classroom. The results of the study identified the learning gaps among novice language teachers that can be further addressed as learning objectives while designing a curriculum for professional training in language education. Full article
17 pages, 477 KiB  
Article
Prevalence and Determinants of Self-Medication Practices among Cardiovascular Patients from Béja, North West Tunisia: A Community-Pharmacy-Based Survey
by Maria Suciu, Lavinia Vlaia, Eya Boujneh, Liana Suciu, Valentina Oana Buda, Narcisa Jianu, Vicențiu Vlaia and Carmen Cristescu
Pharmacy 2024, 12(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy12020068 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
In Tunisia, self-medication is a common practice, and there is a continual rise in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Given the lack of data on the self-medication practices (SMPs) among cardiovascular patients in this area, the present study aimed to identify the prevalence [...] Read more.
In Tunisia, self-medication is a common practice, and there is a continual rise in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Given the lack of data on the self-medication practices (SMPs) among cardiovascular patients in this area, the present study aimed to identify the prevalence and determinants of SMPs among cardiovascular patients in the city of Béja. A community-pharmacy-based survey was conducted among selected cardiovascular patients in Béja, Tunisia, from May 2021 to June 2021. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire provided by pharmacists during in-person surveys with patients. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data, while Fisher’s exact test was used for categorical variables, with the significance level set at p < 0.05. The frequency of self-medication among the 150 respondents was 96%; 70.14% of participants reported that the primary reason why people engage in self-medication is the existence of an old prescription. The most prevalent conditions leading patients to self-medicate were headaches (100%), fever (83.33%), toothache (65.97%), and dry cough (47.92%). The most frequently self-administered drugs were paracetamol (100%), antibiotics (56.94%), and antitussives (47.92%). The results of our study indicate that SMPs among Tunisian cardiovascular patients have a high prevalence. With this in mind, healthcare practitioners should ask their patients about their self-medication practices and advise cardiovascular patients about the risks and benefits associated with this practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmaceutical Care Services in Pharmacy Practice II)
18 pages, 919 KiB  
Article
Acting and Dancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic as Art Therapy for the Rehabilitation of Children with Behavioural Disorders Living in Socially Disadvantaged Environments
by Diana-Lidia Tache-Codreanu and Andrei Tache-Codreanu
Children 2024, 11(4), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/children11040461 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Art therapy is employed in numerous ways in rehabilitation. This study focuses on an art and movement therapy project carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Acting and dancing methods were adapted to produce a short musical film series for ten children from disadvantaged [...] Read more.
Art therapy is employed in numerous ways in rehabilitation. This study focuses on an art and movement therapy project carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Acting and dancing methods were adapted to produce a short musical film series for ten children from disadvantaged social backgrounds displaying nonorganic behavioural disorders. The aim was to acquire novel ways of expression on the part of the participants to release painful emotions in a safe setting using the method of catharsis through acting and dancing, triggering relaxation as a physiological response and improving their attitude. This study retrospectively analyses the changes in the children’s behaviour and their active participation in the project through quantitative and qualitative research. The children improved their attention and self-esteem, their behaviour became less aggressive and impulsive, and half showed increased empathy. The active participation rate during the project was 82%. Full article
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16 pages, 2289 KiB  
Article
Amphiphilic Dendronized Copolymer-Encapsulated Au, Ag and Pd Nanoparticles for Catalysis in the 4-Nitrophenol Reduction and Suzuki–Miyaura Reactions
by Fangfei Liu and Xiong Liu
Polymers 2024, 16(8), 1080; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym16081080 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
The branched structures of dendronized polymers can provide good steric stabilization for metal nanoparticle catalysts. In this work, an amphiphilic dendronized copolymer containing hydrophilic branched triethylene glycol moieties and hydrophobic branched ferrocenyl moieties is designed and prepared by one-pot ring-opening metathesis polymerization, and [...] Read more.
The branched structures of dendronized polymers can provide good steric stabilization for metal nanoparticle catalysts. In this work, an amphiphilic dendronized copolymer containing hydrophilic branched triethylene glycol moieties and hydrophobic branched ferrocenyl moieties is designed and prepared by one-pot ring-opening metathesis polymerization, and is used as the stabilizer for metal (Au, Ag and Pd) nanoparticles. These metal nanoparticles (Au nanoparticles: 3.5 ± 3.0 nm; Ag nanoparticles: 7.2 ± 4.0 nm; Pd nanoparticles: 2.5 ± 1.0 nm) are found to be highly active in both the 4-nitrophenol reduction and Suzuki–Miyaura reactions. In the 4-nitrophenol reduction, Pd nanoparticles have the highest catalytic ability (TOF: 2060 h−1). In addition, Pd nanoparticles are also an efficient catalyst for Suzuki–Miyaura reactions (TOF: 1980 h−1) and possess good applicability for diverse substrates. The amphiphilic dendronized copolymer will open a new door for the development of efficient metal nanoparticle catalysts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer-Based Materials for Catalysis and Flexible Electronics)
18 pages, 611 KiB  
Review
Change in Diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori Infection in the Treatment-Failure Era
by Rocco Spagnuolo, Giuseppe Guido Maria Scarlata, Maria Rosaria Paravati, Ludovico Abenavoli and Francesco Luzza
Antibiotics 2024, 13(4), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics13040357 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is a prevalent global health issue, associated with several gastrointestinal disorders, including gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer. The landscape of H. pylori treatment has evolved over the years, with increasing challenges due to antibiotic resistance [...] Read more.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is a prevalent global health issue, associated with several gastrointestinal disorders, including gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer. The landscape of H. pylori treatment has evolved over the years, with increasing challenges due to antibiotic resistance and treatment failure. Traditional diagnostic methods, such as the urea breath test, stool antigen test, and endoscopy with biopsy, are commonly used in clinical practice. However, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains has led to a decline in treatment efficacy, necessitating a re-evaluation of common diagnostic tools. This narrative review aims to explore the possible changes in the diagnostic approach of H. pylori infection in the era of treatment failure. Molecular techniques, including polymerase chain reaction and whole genome sequencing, which have high sensitivity and specificity, allow the detection of genes associated with antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, culture isolation and a phenotypic antibiogram could be used in the diagnostic routine, although H. pylori is a fastidious bacterium. However, new molecular approaches are promising tools for detecting the pathogen and its resistance genes. In this regard, more real-life studies are needed to reveal new diagnostic tools suitable for identifying multidrug-resistant H. pylori strains and for outlining proper treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathogenesis, Diagnosis and Treatment of H. pylori Infection)
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9 pages, 555 KiB  
Case Report
Successful Treatment with Bimekizumab of a Psoriatic Patient Undergoing Hemodialysis: A Case Report and Review of the Literature
by Nicoletta Bernardini, Luca Ambrosio, Ersilia Tolino, Ilaria Proietti, Nevena Skroza and Concetta Potenza
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(8), 2250; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13082250 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Background/Objectives: Treating psoriasis patients requires the consideration of potential underlying complications like latent viral infections and chronic kidney disease, which may influence therapy selection. Case presentation: A patient with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) undergoing hemodialysis (HD) was successfully treated with bimekizumab, [...] Read more.
Background/Objectives: Treating psoriasis patients requires the consideration of potential underlying complications like latent viral infections and chronic kidney disease, which may influence therapy selection. Case presentation: A patient with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) undergoing hemodialysis (HD) was successfully treated with bimekizumab, an IgG1 humanized monoclonal antibody inhibiting interleukin (IL)-17A and IL-17F. This case appears to be the first documented instance of effective anti-IL-17A/IL-17F antibody treatment in a psoriasis patient undergoing HD, with a sustained positive response for eight months. Discussion: Studies indicate the comparable pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of certain psoriasis drugs in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and those with normal renal function. The positive clinical outcome observed following treatment with bimekizumab aligns with the existing literature on this topic. However, further studies are needed to objectively evaluate the pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of this drug in this specific setting. Conclusions: This documented case represents the first known use of bimekizumab to treat psoriasis in patients undergoing dialysis, suggesting its potential effectiveness and safety in this population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeted Treatment of Skin Inflammation)
17 pages, 5959 KiB  
Article
Enhancing Low-Voltage Distribution Network Safety through Advanced Residual Current Protection Techniques
by Xinyi Zhang, Yuanlong Liu, Zhaoru Han and Hengxu Zhang
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(8), 3256; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14083256 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Residual current protection can detect and isolate the grounding (leakage) fault of low-voltage distribution networks in time, which is an essential technical measure to reduce electric shocks and fire accidents and improve power supply safety. This paper systematically analyzes the operating characteristics of [...] Read more.
Residual current protection can detect and isolate the grounding (leakage) fault of low-voltage distribution networks in time, which is an essential technical measure to reduce electric shocks and fire accidents and improve power supply safety. This paper systematically analyzes the operating characteristics of low-voltage distribution networks and proposes a distributed residual current protection method based on closed sections. It utilizes the capabilities of a distribution IoT platform to provide comprehensive measurement information for the entire substation area. A method was introduced to divide the low-voltage distribution substation into different protection closed surfaces, defining the current phasor at the external contact point of the closed surface and the remaining current of the closed surface. A calculation method for the critical current based on the remaining current of the closed surface for fault detection was proposed. Case studies have shown that this method is less affected by the inherent current and can significantly improve the sensitivity of protection. For TN-C and TN-C-S systems, in the selection of closed surfaces, the repeated grounding point of the neutral line is excluded from the closed surface. This method can also overcome the impact of residual current changes when load switching, demonstrating the flexibility of the new principle. Full article
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21 pages, 2866 KiB  
Article
Modelling CO2 Emissions from Vehicles Fuelled with Compressed Natural Gas Based on On-Road and Chassis Dynamometer Tests
by Maksymilian Mądziel
Energies 2024, 17(8), 1850; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17081850 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
In response to increasingly stringent global environmental policies, this study addresses the pressing need for accurate prediction models of CO2 emissions from vehicles powered by alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG). Through experimentation and modelling, one of the pioneering CO [...] Read more.
In response to increasingly stringent global environmental policies, this study addresses the pressing need for accurate prediction models of CO2 emissions from vehicles powered by alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG). Through experimentation and modelling, one of the pioneering CO2 emission models specifically designed for CNG-powered vehicles is presented. Using data from chassis dynamometer tests and road assessments conducted with a portable emission measurement system (PEMS), the study employs the XGBoost technique within the Optuna Python programming language framework. The validation of the models produced impressive results, with R2 values of 0.9 and 0.7 and RMSE values of 0.49 and 0.71 for chassis dynamometer and road test data, respectively. The robustness and precision of these models offer invaluable information to transportation decision-makers engaged in environmental analyses and policymaking for urban areas, facilitating informed strategies to mitigate vehicular emissions and foster sustainable transportation practices. Full article
22 pages, 1317 KiB  
Review
The Role of Bioceramics for Bone Regeneration: History, Mechanisms, and Future Perspectives
by Md Amit Hasan Tanvir, Md Abdul Khaleque, Ga-Hyun Kim, Whang-Yong Yoo and Young-Yul Kim
Biomimetics 2024, 9(4), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics9040230 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder marked by compromised bone integrity, predisposing individuals, particularly older adults and postmenopausal women, to fractures. The advent of bioceramics for bone regeneration has opened up auspicious pathways for addressing osteoporosis. Research indicates that bioceramics can help bones grow [...] Read more.
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder marked by compromised bone integrity, predisposing individuals, particularly older adults and postmenopausal women, to fractures. The advent of bioceramics for bone regeneration has opened up auspicious pathways for addressing osteoporosis. Research indicates that bioceramics can help bones grow back by activating bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and wingless/integrated (Wnt)/β-catenin pathways in the body when combined with stem cells, drugs, and other supports. Still, bioceramics have some problems, such as not being flexible enough and prone to breaking, as well as difficulties in growing stem cells and discovering suitable supports for different bone types. While there have been improvements in making bioceramics better for healing bones, it is important to keep looking for new ideas from different areas of medicine to make them even better. By conducting a thorough scrutiny of the pivotal role bioceramics play in facilitating bone regeneration, this review aspires to propel forward the rapidly burgeoning domain of scientific exploration. In the end, this appreciation will contribute to the development of novel bioceramics that enhance bone regrowth and offer patients with bone disorders alternative treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Bioceramics for Bone Regeneration)
21 pages, 9546 KiB  
Article
A Satellite Analysis: Comparing Two Medicanes
by Giuseppe Ciardullo, Leonardo Primavera, Fabrizio Ferrucci, Fabio Lepreti and Vincenzo Carbone
Atmosphere 2024, 15(4), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos15040481 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Morphological features of the Mediterranean Sea basin have recently been precursors to a significant increase in the formation of extreme events, in relation to climate change effects. It happens very frequently that rotating air masses and the formation of mesoscale vortices can evolve [...] Read more.
Morphological features of the Mediterranean Sea basin have recently been precursors to a significant increase in the formation of extreme events, in relation to climate change effects. It happens very frequently that rotating air masses and the formation of mesoscale vortices can evolve into events with characteristics similar to large-scale tropical cyclones. Generally, they are less intense, with smaller size and duration; thus, they are called Medicanes, a short name for Mediterranean hurricanes, or tropical-like cyclones (TLCs). In this paper, we propose a new perspective for the study and analysis of cyclonic events, starting with data and images acquired from satellites and focusing on the diagnostics of the evolution of atmospheric parameters for these events. More precisely, satellite remote sensing techniques are employed to elaborate on different high spatial-resolution satellite images of the events at a given sensing time. Two case studies are examined, taking into account their development into Medicane stages: Ianos, which intensified in the Ionian Sea and reached the coast of Greece between 14 and 21 September 2020, and Apollo, which impacted Mediterranean latitudes with a long tracking from 24 October to 2 November 2021. For these events, 20 images were acquired from two different satellite sensors, onboard two low-Earth orbit (LEO) platforms, by deeply exploiting their thermal infrared (TIR) spectral channels. A useful extraction of significant physical information was carried out from every image, highlighting several atmospheric quantities, including temperature and altitude layers from the top of the cloud, vertical temperature gradient, atmospheric pressure field, and deep convection cloud. The diagnostics of the two events were investigated through the spatial scale capabilities of the instruments and the spatiotemporal evolution of the cyclones, including the comparison between satellite data and recording data from the BOLAM forecasting model. In addition, 384 images were extracted from the geostationary (GEO) satellite platform for the investigation of the events’ one-day structure intensification, by implementing time as the third dimension. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Meteorology)
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26 pages, 5055 KiB  
Article
YOLOv8-C2f-Faster-EMA: An Improved Underwater Trash Detection Model Based on YOLOv8
by Jin Zhu, Tao Hu, Linhan Zheng, Nan Zhou, Huilin Ge and Zhichao Hong
Sensors 2024, 24(8), 2483; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24082483 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
Anthropogenic waste deposition in aquatic environments precipitates a decline in water quality, engendering pollution that adversely impacts human health, ecological integrity, and economic endeavors. The evolution of underwater robotic technologies heralds a new era in the timely identification and extraction of submerged litter, [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic waste deposition in aquatic environments precipitates a decline in water quality, engendering pollution that adversely impacts human health, ecological integrity, and economic endeavors. The evolution of underwater robotic technologies heralds a new era in the timely identification and extraction of submerged litter, offering a proactive measure against the scourge of water pollution. This study introduces a refined YOLOv8-based algorithm tailored for the enhanced detection of small-scale underwater debris, aiming to mitigate the prevalent challenges of high miss and false detection rates in aquatic settings. The research presents the YOLOv8-C2f-Faster-EMA algorithm, which optimizes the backbone, neck layer, and C2f module for underwater characteristics and incorporates an effective attention mechanism. This algorithm improves the accuracy of underwater litter detection while simplifying the computational model. Empirical evidence underscores the superiority of this method over the conventional YOLOv8n framework, manifesting in a significant uplift in detection performance. Notably, the proposed method realized a 6.7% increase in precision (P), a 4.1% surge in recall (R), and a 5% enhancement in mean average precision (mAP). Transcending its foundational utility in marine conservation, this methodology harbors potential for subsequent integration into remote sensing ventures. Such an adaptation could substantially enhance the precision of detection models, particularly in the realm of localized surveillance, thereby broadening the scope of its applicability and impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sensors and Robotics)
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17 pages, 868 KiB  
Article
Identification of Key Parameters Inducing Microbial Modulation during Backslopped Kombucha Fermentation
by Claire Daval, Thierry Tran, François Verdier, Antoine Martin, Hervé Alexandre, Cosette Grandvalet and Raphaëlle Tourdot-Maréchal
Foods 2024, 13(8), 1181; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13081181 (registering DOI) - 12 Apr 2024
Abstract
The aim of this study was to assess the impact of production parameters on the reproducibility of kombucha fermentation over several production cycles based on backslopping. Six conditions with varying oxygen accessibility (specific interface surface) and initial acidity (through the inoculation rate) of [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to assess the impact of production parameters on the reproducibility of kombucha fermentation over several production cycles based on backslopping. Six conditions with varying oxygen accessibility (specific interface surface) and initial acidity (through the inoculation rate) of the cultures were carried out and compared to an original kombucha consortium and a synthetic consortium assembled from yeasts and bacteria isolated from the original culture. Output parameters monitored were microbial populations, biofilm weight, key physico-chemical parameters and metabolites. Results highlighted the existence of phases in microbial dynamics as backslopping cycles progressed. The transitions between phases occurred faster for the synthetic consortium compared to the original kombucha. This led to microbial dynamics and fermentative kinetics that were reproducible over several cycles but that could also deviate and shift abruptly to different behaviors. These changes were mainly induced by an increase in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae population, associated with an intensification of sucrose hydrolysis, sugar consumption and an increase in ethanol content, without any significant acceleration in the rate of acidification. The study suggests that the reproducibility of kombucha fermentations relies on high biodiversity to slow down the modulations of microbial dynamics induced by the sustained rhythm of backslopping cycles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Food Microbiology)

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