237 journals awarded Impact Factor
 
 
13 pages, 1114 KiB  
Article
DNA Prevalence of Eukaryotic Parasites with Zoonotic Potential in Urban-Associated Birds
by Xabier Cabodevilla, Juan E. Malo, Daniel Aguirre de Carcer, Julia Zurdo, Rubén Chaboy-Cansado, Alberto Rastrojo and Juan Traba
Birds 2024, 5(3), 375-387; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds5030025 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Synanthropic birds might play an important role as reservoirs of many zoonotic endoparasites; however, little information is available on many parasites and their prevalence. Here, we use an approach based on targeted metagenomic detection through the use of DNA metabarcoding of faecal samples [...] Read more.
Synanthropic birds might play an important role as reservoirs of many zoonotic endoparasites; however, little information is available on many parasites and their prevalence. Here, we use an approach based on targeted metagenomic detection through the use of DNA metabarcoding of faecal samples to screen for circulating parasites in alien parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus and Psittacula krameri) and urban landfill-feeding storks (Ciconia ciconia) and gulls (Larus fuscus). We focus especially on potentially zoonotic parasites, with the aim of better understanding the zoonotic risk that these birds’ faeces may pose. We detected a total of 23 genera of eukaryotic parasites: six fungi, three protists, five nematodes, two cestodes and seven trematodes. Among them, six stood out for their relevance to human health: Cryptococcus spp., Aspergillus spp. and Candida spp. (fungi); Cryptosporidium spp. (a protist); and Ascaris spp. and Halicephalobus spp. (nematodes). In parakeets, we detected Cryptococcus spp. and Ascaris spp., the latter being detected in 10–20% of the samples. In the White Stork and the Lesser Black-backed Gull, we found a high prevalence of Aspergillus spp. (in 15% and 50% of the samples, respectively) and Candida spp. (in 63% and 82% of the samples, respectively), and the presence of Cryptosporidium spp. in 10% of the samples. We detected Halicephalobus spp. in one gull sample (2%). Our results show that synanthropic birds may act as vectors and reservoirs of zoonotic parasites and their faeces could pose a risk to human health associated with the zoonotic parasites present in them. This should be taken into account when developing management plans for urban populations of these bird species. Full article
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14 pages, 1789 KiB  
Article
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial to Assess the Effectiveness and Safety of Melatonin and Three Formulations of Floraworks Proprietary TruCBN™ for Improving Sleep
by Antonija Kolobaric, Jessica Saleska, Susan J. Hewlings, Corey Bryant, Christopher S. Colwell, Christopher R. D’Adamo, Jeff Chen and Emily K. Pauli
Pharmaceuticals 2024, 17(8), 977; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph17080977 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
The phytocannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) has a potential mechanism of action as an alternative sleep aid but there is minimal evidence to support its effectiveness. The aim of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was to assess the safety and effects of three formulations of [...] Read more.
The phytocannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) has a potential mechanism of action as an alternative sleep aid but there is minimal evidence to support its effectiveness. The aim of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was to assess the safety and effects of three formulations of a hemp-derived CBN sleep aid, TruCBN™ [25 mg (n = 206), 50 mg (n = 205), 100 mg (n = 203)], on sleep quality (PROMIS Sleep Disturbance 8A), relative to placebo (n = 204). The effectiveness and safety of these formulations relative to 4 mg of melatonin (n = 202) was assessed. Exploratory measures were stress (PROMIS Stress 4A), anxiety (Anxiety 4A), pain (PROMIS™ PEG), and well-being (WHO 5). All groups and the 4 mg melatonin group experienced significant improvement in sleep quality relative to the placebo group with no significant differences between any group and the melatonin group. Participants taking 100 mg showed a larger decrease in stress compared to the placebo group. There were no significant differences in anxiety, pain, well-being, or the frequency of side effects between any group and the placebo group. There was no significant difference in improvements in sleep quality between any of the treatment groups and the 4 mg melatonin group. Orally ingested CBN, at 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg, is a safe and effective alternative for the improvement of sleep. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutic Potential for Cannabinoid and Its Receptor)
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12 pages, 2181 KiB  
Article
Ablation Parameters Predicting Pulmonary Vein Reconnection after Very High-Power Short-Duration Pulmonary Vein Isolation
by Márton Boga, Gábor Orbán, Zoltán Salló, Klaudia Vivien Nagy, István Osztheimer, Arnold Béla Ferencz, Ferenc Komlósi, Patrik Tóth, Edit Tanai, Péter Perge, Béla Merkely, László Gellér and Nándor Szegedi
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2024, 11(8), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcdd11080230 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Background: Recurrences due to discontinuity in ablation lines are substantial after pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) with radiofrequency ablation for atrial fibrillation. Data are scarce regarding the durability predictors for very high-power short-duration (vHPSD, 90 W/4 s) ablation. Methods: A total of 20 patients [...] Read more.
Background: Recurrences due to discontinuity in ablation lines are substantial after pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) with radiofrequency ablation for atrial fibrillation. Data are scarce regarding the durability predictors for very high-power short-duration (vHPSD, 90 W/4 s) ablation. Methods: A total of 20 patients were enrolled, who underwent 90 W PVI and a mandatory remapping procedure at 3 months. First-pass isolation (FPI) gaps, and acute pulmonary vein reconnection (PVR) sites were identified at the index procedure; and chronic PVR sites were identified at the repeated procedure. We analyzed parameters of ablation points (n = 1357), and evaluated their roles in predicting a composite endpoint of FPI gaps, acute and chronic PVR. Results: In total, 45 initial ablation points corresponding to gaps in the ablation lines were analyzed. Parameters associated with gaps were interlesion distance (ILD), baseline generator impedance, mean current, total charge, and loss of catheter–tissue contact. The optimal ILD cut-off for predicting gaps was 3.5 mm anteriorly, and 4 mm posteriorly. Conclusions: Biophysical characteristics dependent on generator impedance could affect the efficacy of vHPSD PVI. The use of smaller ILDs is required for effective and durable PVI with vHPSD compared to the consensus targets with lower power ablation, and lower ILDs for anterior applications seem necessary compared to posterior points. Full article
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12 pages, 4230 KiB  
Review
Imaging, Dynamic Histomorphometry, and Mechanical Testing in Preclinical Bone Research
by Mikkel Bo Brent
Osteology 2024, 4(3), 120-131; https://doi.org/10.3390/osteology4030010 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Advanced laboratory methods play a crucial role in bone research, allowing researchers and scientists to study the complex biology and nature of the skeleton. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a non-invasive method of measuring bone mass, which is an important parameter for the [...] Read more.
Advanced laboratory methods play a crucial role in bone research, allowing researchers and scientists to study the complex biology and nature of the skeleton. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a non-invasive method of measuring bone mass, which is an important parameter for the diagnosis and treatment of several bone diseases. Micro-computed tomography (μCT) is a very high-resolution technique that can be used to investigate the 3D microstructure of trabecular bone. Dynamic bone histomorphometry is used to assess histological indices of bone formation and resorption using fluorochromes embedded into newly formed bone. Mechanical testing is used to measure bone strength and stiffness, providing important information about bone quality and fracture risk. All these methods are widely used in preclinical in vivo studies using rodents and in most clinical studies. Therefore, it is important for both researchers and scientists within the field of bone biology, and those in neighboring fields, to be familiar with their use, strengths, limitations, and important technical aspects. Several guidelines and protocols about the topic have been published, but are very exhaustive. The present review aimed to provide instructions for early-career researchers and outline important concepts and technical aspects of DXA, μCT, dynamic bone histomorphometry, and mechanical testing in bone research. Full article
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13 pages, 5220 KiB  
Article
Microwave Corona Breakdown Suppression of Microstrip Coupled-Line Filter Using Lacquer Coating
by Ming Ye, Shaoguang Hu, Rui Wang, Yong Zhang and Yongning He
Electronics 2024, 13(15), 2910; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics13152910 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Due to its potential harm to space payload, microwave corona breakdown of microstrip circuits has attracted much attention. This work describes an efficient way to suppress corona breakdown. Since the corona breakdown threshold is determined by the highest electric field intensity at the [...] Read more.
Due to its potential harm to space payload, microwave corona breakdown of microstrip circuits has attracted much attention. This work describes an efficient way to suppress corona breakdown. Since the corona breakdown threshold is determined by the highest electric field intensity at the surface of microstrip circuits, lacquer coating with a thickness of tens of microns is sprayed on top of microstrip circuits. The applied dielectric coating is used to move the discharge location away from the circuit’s surface, which is equivalent to reducing the highest electric field intensity on the interface of solid/air of the circuit and thus results in a higher breakdown threshold. Two designs of a classic coupled-line bandpass filter were used for verification. Corona experimental results at 2.5 GHz show that in the low-pressure range of interest (100 to 4500 Pa), a 5.3 dB improvement of the microwave corona breakdown threshold can be achieved for a filter with a narrowest gap of 0.2 mm, while its electrical performances like insertion loss and Q-factor are still acceptable. A threshold improvement prediction method is also presented and validated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Electromagnetic Interference and Protection)
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14 pages, 2067 KiB  
Article
Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization of Pseudomonas atacamensis EMP42 a PGPR Strain Obtained from the Rhizosphere of Echinocactus platyacanthus (Sweet Barrel)
by Leilani Itzel Salinas-Virgen, María Eugenia de la Torre-Hernández, José Félix Aguirre-Garrido, Francisco Martínez-Abarca and Hugo César Ramírez-Saad
Microorganisms 2024, 12(8), 1512; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12081512 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are a group of bacteria that associate with the rhizosphere of plants; one of the most abundant bacterial genera in this ecological niche is Pseudomonas, which is constantly expanding due to the emergence of new species such as [...] Read more.
Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are a group of bacteria that associate with the rhizosphere of plants; one of the most abundant bacterial genera in this ecological niche is Pseudomonas, which is constantly expanding due to the emergence of new species such as Pseudomonas atacamensis, whose discovery in 2019 has led to the characterization of several strains from different environments but taxonomically related. The objective of this work was to phenotypically and molecularly characterize P. atacamensis strain EMP42, isolated from the rhizosphere of Echinocactus platyacanthus. The strain EMP42 is able to use different substrates and reduce oxidative stress in plants. It is capable of improving growth parameters such as the number of inflorescences and the height of the aerial body of Arabidopsis thaliana, as well as the germination and seedling survival of the cacti Echinocactus platyacanthus and Astrophytum capricorne. The genetic structure of P. atacamensis EMP42 consists of a closed chromosome of 6.14 Mbp, and 61.1% GC content. It has 5572 genes, including those associated with PGPR activities, such as the trpABCDE, SAP, phoABPRU and acsABC genes, among others, and three ncRNA loci, nine regulatory regions, five complete rRNA operons and three CRISPR-Cas loci, showing phylogenomic similarities with the reference strain P. atacamensis B21-026. Therefore, this study contributes to the understanding of genomic diversity within P. atacamensis and, particularly, highlights the potential application of strain EMP42 as a PGPR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genomics Approaches in Microbial Ecology)
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14 pages, 6166 KiB  
Article
PREVAX: A Phase I Clinical Trial of an EGF-Based Vaccine in Moderate-to-Severe COPD Patients
by Jenysbel de la C. Hernandez Reyes, Orestes Santos Morales, Laura Hernandez Moreno, Pedro Pablo Pino Alfonso, Elia Neninger Vinageras, Julia Lilliam Knigths Montalvo, Aliuska Aguilar Sosa, Amnely Gonzalez Morera, Patricia Lorenzo-Luaces Alvárez, Yadira Aguilar Venegas, Mayelin Troche Concepción, Loipa Medel Pérez, Yanela Santiesteban González, Lázara García Fernández, Lorena Regueiro Rodríguez, Amparo Macías Abrahan, Mayrel Labrada Mon, Kalet León Monzón, Danay Saavedra Hernández and Tania Crombet Ramos
Vaccines 2024, 12(8), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines12080833 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Background: EGFR has been suggested to contribute to COPD development and progression. Excessive ligand activation of the receptor leads to epithelial hyperproliferation and increased production of mucus, together with alterations in the primary cilia. The present study was designed to evaluate the safety [...] Read more.
Background: EGFR has been suggested to contribute to COPD development and progression. Excessive ligand activation of the receptor leads to epithelial hyperproliferation and increased production of mucus, together with alterations in the primary cilia. The present study was designed to evaluate the safety and effect of depleting EGF in moderate-to-severe COPD patients, with an EGF-based vaccine. Patients and methods: A phase I trial was conducted in subjects with moderate or severe COPD. The anti-EGF vaccine schedule consisted of 4 biweekly doses followed by 4 monthly boosters. The primary endpoint was the evaluation of the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine, together with the change in FEV1 and physical function at week 24. Results: Twenty-six patients with moderate or severe COPD were included in the trial. The vaccine was well tolerated and no serious related adverse events were reported. Ninety percent of the individuals developed a protective antibody response. The specific anti-EGF antibodies had high avidity and were able to inhibit EGFR phosphorylation. At the end of vaccination, serum EGF became undetectable. At week 24, there was a clinically significant improvement in lung function, with a mean change in trough FEV1 of 106 mL. Patients also increased their physical functioning. Conclusions: The EGF-based vaccine was immunogenic and provoked an EGF exhaustion in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD. Depleting EGF might result in a meaningful increase in FEV1, with good tolerability. The current results provide new avenues to treat chronic inflammatory lung diseases associated with EGFR aberrant signaling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Therapeutic Vaccines and Antibody Therapeutics)
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10 pages, 1909 KiB  
Article
Inclusive Enrichment for Dragons: Behavioral Responses of Amputee and Non-Amputee Individuals of Bearded Dragons Pogona vitticeps to Different Food Enrichment Items
by Luisa Martins Pereira, Cristiano Schetini de Azevedo, Helen Colbachini, Cynthia Fernandes Cipreste, Maria Eduarda Schilbach Pizzutto, Laura Chrispim Reisfeld, Rafael Capriolli Gutierrez, Fabiana Lúcia André Padilha and Cristiane Schilbach Pizzutto
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2024, 5(3), 455-464; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg5030030 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Studies on environmental enrichment for captive bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are still very scarce in the literature, but they are of the utmost importance in the search for quality of life for these animals when they are under human care. Environmental [...] Read more.
Studies on environmental enrichment for captive bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) are still very scarce in the literature, but they are of the utmost importance in the search for quality of life for these animals when they are under human care. Environmental enrichment items should be inclusive, allowing disabled animals to explore them and providing good experiences. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate food enrichment strategies to increase the foraging behavior of captive non-disabled and disabled bearded dragons. This work was carried out with six adult bearded dragons, three of which had one limb amputated and three that had all limbs, kept at the São Paulo Aquarium. Live kingworm larvae (Zophobas morio) were offered as food in three different levels of enrichment challenge (low, medium, high). Behavioral data were collected using focal sampling with instantaneous recording, with a time interval of every 30 s. Results showed that the more complex the food enrichment challenge, the greater the frequency of bearded dragon foraging. In addition, both amputees and non-amputees responded similarly to the enrichment items, differing primarily in their activity levels, where amputee individuals showed more tendencies toward ‘stationary’ and ‘lying down’ behaviors. More studies with reptiles should be encouraged so that good management practices become daily protocols for a better quality of life and for rescuing the natural behaviors of animals kept under human care, even those with anatomical disabilities. Full article
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10 pages, 633 KiB  
Article
Association between Regular Use of Analgesics before Cancer Diagnosis and Occurrence of Mood Disorders
by Hyun Sook Oh, Subin Noh and Hwa Jeong Seo
Nurs. Rep. 2024, 14(3), 1828-1837; https://doi.org/10.3390/nursrep14030136 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
We aimed to determine the relationship between the use of analgesics prescribed for pain management and the onset and progression of mood disorders using a large-scale cohort database. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for patient risk of developing [...] Read more.
We aimed to determine the relationship between the use of analgesics prescribed for pain management and the onset and progression of mood disorders using a large-scale cohort database. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for patient risk of developing mood disorders based on age, income, health-related variables, disease history, Charlson comorbidity index, and analgesics prescription behavior (Models 1–3). Additionally, we determined the risk of mood disorder occurrence by age group (Model 4) using a proportional hazards regression model. The age- and income-adjusted HR (Model 1) was 1.8275. The age-, income-, BMI-, and physical-activity-adjusted HR (Model 2) was 1.882. The fully adjusted HR (Model 3) was 1.698. Compared with no analgesic use, nonregular use (HR = 1.386) and regular use (HR = 1.698) was associated with a higher risk of mood disorders. Among patients older than 50 years, those who participated in physical activity (less than five days) had a lower risk of mood disorders than those who did not. This suggests that it may be useful for preventing mood disorders in older cancer survivors. A high risk of comorbidities and regular use of analgesics are risk factors for developing mood disorders. Therefore, our results suggest that cancer survivors with a high risk of comorbidities and a history of regular analgesic use should undergo careful psychiatric consultation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Life of Cancer Survivor)
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12 pages, 1190 KiB  
Article
Fish of Low Commercial Value in Lakes of Different Trophic Status (Poland)
by Krystyna Kalinowska, Dariusz Ulikowski, Michał Kozłowski, Piotr Traczuk, Maciej Szkudlarek, Konrad Stawecki and Andrzej Kapusta
Diversity 2024, 16(8), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/d16080437 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
In a commercial fishery, some fish are classified as low-value, but their classification varies in different countries. The aim of this study was to determine the abundance, contribution, and dominance of low-value fish species, such as Abramis brama < 1000 g, Alburnus alburnus [...] Read more.
In a commercial fishery, some fish are classified as low-value, but their classification varies in different countries. The aim of this study was to determine the abundance, contribution, and dominance of low-value fish species, such as Abramis brama < 1000 g, Alburnus alburnus, Blicca bjoerkna, Gymnocephalus cernua, Perca fluviatilis < 100 g, Rutilus rutilus < 200 g, and Scardinius erythrophthalmus < 200 g, in 145 Polish lakes of different areas, depths, and trophic statuses situated in the northern and central parts of Poland in 2021. Perca fluviatilis and R. rutilus were the most frequent low-value species (100% and 99%, respectively). The contribution of all low-value fish to the total biomass of caught fish was relatively high, ranging from 37% in the mesotrophic lake to 100% in the eutrophic lake (mean of 77 ± 14%). Lakes in which the contribution of low-value species exceeded 90% were relatively numerous (24 lakes, 17% of the studied lakes). Among a total of about 437.5 thousand low-value fish, 261 thousand specimens (60%) had a body weight of below 10 g. All low-value fish species, except for P. fluviatilis and S. erythrophthalmus, were related to the studied environmental variables. The relative biomass of these species increased with increasing lake productivity, while it decreased with the increasing maximum and mean depth of the studied lakes. The high contribution of low-value fish to the total biomass in many lakes indicates the need for the constant monitoring of the abundance and structure of fish communities and the use of appropriate actions (biomanipulation and stocking with piscivorous fish species) to improve the ecological condition of lakes. Full article
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8 pages, 664 KiB  
Article
Does the Presence of Matted Nodes in Colon Adenocarcinoma Influence 5-Year Overall Survival?
by Karla I. Rodríguez-López, Mariana Salazar-Castillo, Leonardo S. Lino-Silva, Ángeles Galán-Ramírez, Luisa F. Rivera-Moncada, Emiliano A. López-Jiménez and César Zepeda-Najar
Medicina 2024, 60(8), 1194; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina60081194 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Background and Objectives: Colon cancer (CC) is prevalent globally, constituting 11.9% of cases in Mexico. Lymph node metastases are established prognostic indicators, with extracapsular lymph node extension (ENE) playing a crucial role in modifying prognosis. While ENE is associated with adverse factors, [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: Colon cancer (CC) is prevalent globally, constituting 11.9% of cases in Mexico. Lymph node metastases are established prognostic indicators, with extracapsular lymph node extension (ENE) playing a crucial role in modifying prognosis. While ENE is associated with adverse factors, certain aspects, like matted nodes (lymph node conglomerates), are underexplored. Matted nodes, clusters of lymph nodes infiltrated by cancer cells, are recognized as an independent prognostic factor in other cancers. This study investigates the prognostic implications of matted nodes in CC. Materials and Methods: From a retrospective analysis of 502 CC consecutive cases treated with colectomy (2005–2018), we identified 255 (50.8%) cases with lymph node metastasis (our study group), which were categorized into two groups: (1) lymph node metastasis alone (n = 208), and (2) lymph node metastasis with matted nodes (n = 47). A comparative survival analysis was performed. Results: Of the 255 patients, 38% had lymph node metastasis. Patients with matted nodes (18.4%) showed an association with higher pN stage and lymphovascular invasion. The 5-year survival rate for patients with matted nodes was 47.7%, compared to 60% without (p = 0.096); however, this association demonstrated only a statistical tendency. Multivariate analysis identified clinical stage and adjuvant chemotherapy use as independent factors contributing to survival. Conclusions: This study underscores matted nodes as potential prognostic indicators in CC, emphasizing their association with higher pN stage and reduced survival. Although the patients with matted nodes showed lower survival, this figure did not search statistical significance, but a tendency was detected, which necessitates precise further research, which is essential for validating these findings and integrating matted nodes into the broader context of colorectal cancer management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Oncology)
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22 pages, 3367 KiB  
Article
Efficacy and Immunogenicity of a Recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus-Vectored Marburg Vaccine in Cynomolgus Macaques
by Vidyleison N. Camargos, Shannan L. Rossi, Terry L. Juelich, Jennifer K. Smith, Nikos Vasilakis, Alexander N. Freiberg, Rick Nichols and Joan Fusco
Viruses 2024, 16(8), 1181; https://doi.org/10.3390/v16081181 (registering DOI) - 24 Jul 2024
Abstract
Filoviruses, like the Marburg (MARV) and Ebola (EBOV) viruses, have caused outbreaks associated with significant hemorrhagic morbidity and high fatality rates. Vaccines offer one of the best countermeasures for fatal infection, but to date only the EBOV vaccine has received FDA licensure. Given [...] Read more.
Filoviruses, like the Marburg (MARV) and Ebola (EBOV) viruses, have caused outbreaks associated with significant hemorrhagic morbidity and high fatality rates. Vaccines offer one of the best countermeasures for fatal infection, but to date only the EBOV vaccine has received FDA licensure. Given the limited cross protection between the EBOV vaccine and Marburg hemorrhagic fever (MHF), we analyzed the protective efficacy of a similar vaccine, rVSV-MARV, in the lethal cynomolgus macaque model. NHPs vaccinated with a single dose (as little as 1.6 × 107 pfu) of rVSV-MARV seroconverted to MARV G-protein prior to challenge on day 42. Vaccinemia was measured in all vaccinated primates, self-resolved by day 14 post vaccination. Importantly, all vaccinated NHPs survived lethal MARV challenge, and showed no significant alterations in key markers of morbid disease, including clinical signs, and certain hematological and clinical chemistry parameters. Further, apart from one primate (from which tissues were not collected and no causal link was established), no pathology associated with Marburg disease was observed in vaccinated animals. Taken together, rVSV-MARV is a safe and efficacious vaccine against MHF in cynomolgus macaques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV))
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25 pages, 905 KiB  
Article
Effectiveness of Socio-Technical Assistance (STA) Program for Vulnerable Beneficiaries: Evidence from Nepal’s Post-Earthquake Reconstruction
by Namita Poudel Bhusal, Keshab Bhattarai and Fiona Walkley
Sustainability 2024, 16(15), 6284; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16156284 - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
This research study assesses the effectiveness of the Socio-Technical Assistance (STA) program when combined with owner-driven housing reconstruction on rural private housing recovery after Nepal’s 2015 earthquake, particularly regarding vulnerable households. Through a quantitative, 304-question survey, the study reveals that 96% of households [...] Read more.
This research study assesses the effectiveness of the Socio-Technical Assistance (STA) program when combined with owner-driven housing reconstruction on rural private housing recovery after Nepal’s 2015 earthquake, particularly regarding vulnerable households. Through a quantitative, 304-question survey, the study reveals that 96% of households credited STA activities for accelerating reconstruction, with 95% acknowledging its significance and 78% emphasizing its necessity. Notably, 89% expressed dependency on STA for reconstruction, and 85% believed it heightened disaster risk reduction awareness. In conclusion, the study establishes that STA activities significantly contributed to the successful reconstruction of houses for vulnerable households, addressing such critical aspects as financial support, technical assistance, housing accessibility, earthquake-resilient construction, improved livelihoods, and safety enhancements. The field study presents crucial recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of Socio-Technical Assistance (STA) activities in post-earthquake, rural private housing reconstruction. Emphasizing the need for tailored, demand-driven interventions, the study cautions against relying solely on an owner-driven reconstruction model, challenging the one-size-fits-all strategy. The study proposes integrating tailored interventions into overarching recovery strategies, advocating for coordinated efforts to enhance disaster risk reduction (DRR) awareness and to cultivate resilient communities in particularly vulnerable households as aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11, which focuses on sustainable cities and communities. This research aims to enhance the literature on post-disaster humanitarian shelter and settlement by emphasizing the significance of inclusive and comprehensive approaches to recovery and reconstruction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Development and Application of Environmental Materials)
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14 pages, 4490 KiB  
Article
Impact of Simulated Reduced-Dose Chest CT on Diagnosing Pulmonary T1 Tumors and Patient Management
by Alan Arthur Peters, Jaro Munz, Jeremias Bendicht Klaus, Ana Macek, Adrian Thomas Huber, Verena Carola Obmann, Njood Alsaihati, Ehsan Samei, Waldo Valenzuela, Andreas Christe, Johannes Thomas Heverhagen, Justin Bennion Solomon and Lukas Ebner
Diagnostics 2024, 14(15), 1586; https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics14151586 (registering DOI) - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
To determine the diagnostic performance of simulated reduced-dose chest CT scans regarding pulmonary T1 tumors and assess the potential impact on patient management, a repository of 218 patients with histologically proven pulmonary T1 tumors was used. Virtual reduced-dose images were simulated at 25%- [...] Read more.
To determine the diagnostic performance of simulated reduced-dose chest CT scans regarding pulmonary T1 tumors and assess the potential impact on patient management, a repository of 218 patients with histologically proven pulmonary T1 tumors was used. Virtual reduced-dose images were simulated at 25%- and 5%-dose levels. Tumor size, attenuation, and localization were scored by two experienced chest radiologists. The impact on patient management was assessed by comparing hypothetical LungRADS scores. The study included 210 patients (41% females, mean age 64.5 ± 9.2 years) with 250 eligible T1 tumors. There were differences between the original and the 5%—but not the 25%—dose simulations, and LungRADS scores varied between the dose levels with no clear trend. Sensitivity of Reader 1 was significantly lower using the 5%-dose vs. 25%-dose vs. original dose for size categorization (0.80 vs. 0.85 vs. 0.84; p = 0.007) and segmental localization (0.81 vs. 0.86 vs. 0.83; p = 0.018). Sensitivities of Reader 2 were unaffected by a dose reduction. A CT dose reduction may affect the correct categorization and localization of pulmonary T1 tumors and potentially affect patient management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Imaging and Chest Diseases)
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24 pages, 2445 KiB  
Article
On Some Distance Spectral Characteristics of Trees
by Sakander Hayat, Asad Khan and Mohammed J. F. Alenazi
Axioms 2024, 13(8), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/axioms13080494 (registering DOI) - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Graham and Pollack in 1971 presented applications of eigenvalues of the distance matrix in addressing problems in data communication systems. Spectral graph theory employs tools from linear algebra to retrieve the properties of a graph from the spectrum of graph-theoretic matrices. The study [...] Read more.
Graham and Pollack in 1971 presented applications of eigenvalues of the distance matrix in addressing problems in data communication systems. Spectral graph theory employs tools from linear algebra to retrieve the properties of a graph from the spectrum of graph-theoretic matrices. The study of graphs with “few eigenvalues” is a contemporary problem in spectral graph theory. This paper studies graphs with few distinct distance eigenvalues. After mentioning the classification of graphs with one and two distinct distance eigenvalues, we mainly focus on graphs with three distinct distance eigenvalues. Characterizing graphs with three distinct distance eigenvalues is “highly” non-trivial. In this paper, we classify all trees whose distance matrix has precisely three distinct eigenvalues. Our proof is different from earlier existing proof of the result as our proof is extendable to other similar families such as unicyclic and bicyclic graphs. The main tools which we employ include interlacing and equitable partitions. We also list all the connected graphs on ν ≤ 6 vertices and compute their distance spectra. Importantly, all these graphs on ν ≤ 6 vertices are determined from their distance spectra. We deliver a distance cospectral pair of order 7, thus making it a distance cospectral pair of the smallest order. This paper is concluded with some future directions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Classical and Applied Mathematics)
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34 pages, 4307 KiB  
Article
An Active Inference Agent for Modeling Human Translation Processes
by Michael Carl
Entropy 2024, 26(8), 616; https://doi.org/10.3390/e26080616 (registering DOI) - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
This paper develops an outline for a hierarchically embedded architecture of an artificial agent that models human translation processes based on principles of active inference (AIF) and predictive processing (PP). AIF and PP posit that the mind constructs a model of the environment [...] Read more.
This paper develops an outline for a hierarchically embedded architecture of an artificial agent that models human translation processes based on principles of active inference (AIF) and predictive processing (PP). AIF and PP posit that the mind constructs a model of the environment which guides behavior by continually generating and integrating predictions and sensory input. The proposed model of the translation agent consists of three processing strata: a sensorimotor layer, a cognitive layer, and a phenomenal layer. Each layer consists of a network of states and transitions that interact on different time scales. Following the AIF framework, states are conditioned on observations which may originate from the environment and/or the embedded processing layer, while transitions between states are conditioned on actions that implement plans to optimize goal-oriented behavior. The AIF agent aims at simulating the variation in translational behavior under various conditions and to facilitate investigating the underlying mental mechanisms. It provides a novel framework for generating and testing new hypotheses of the translating mind. Full article
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12 pages, 3804 KiB  
Article
ZmDST44 Gene Is a Positive Regulator in Plant Drought Stress Tolerance
by Wenbo Chai, Hongtao Li, Hanyuan Xu, Qing Zhu, Shufen Li, Chao Yuan, Wei Ji, Jun Wang and Lei Sheng
Biology 2024, 13(8), 552; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology13080552 - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Improving drought tolerance in plants is essential for increasing crop yields under water-limited conditions. In this study, we investigated the functional role of the maize gene ZmDST44, which is targeted by the miRNA ZmmiR139. Our results indicate that ZmmiR139 regulates ZmDST44 by [...] Read more.
Improving drought tolerance in plants is essential for increasing crop yields under water-limited conditions. In this study, we investigated the functional role of the maize gene ZmDST44, which is targeted by the miRNA ZmmiR139. Our results indicate that ZmmiR139 regulates ZmDST44 by cleaving its mRNA, as confirmed by inverse expression patterns and 5′-RACE analysis. Overexpression of ZmDST44 in Arabidopsis, rice, and maize resulted in significant enhancements in drought tolerance. Transgenic plants exhibited reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, increased proline accumulation, and upregulation of drought-responsive genes compared to wild-type plants. Transgenic Arabidopsis and rice showed improved drought resistance and higher post-drought recovery rates, and transgenic maize displayed lower sensitivity to drought stress. These findings suggest that ZmDST44 acts as a positive regulator of drought tolerance across different plant species and holds promise for developing drought-resistant crops through genetic engineering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
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13 pages, 3486 KiB  
Article
Impact of Juglone, a PIN1 İnhibitor, on Oral Carcinogenesis Induced by 4-Nitroquinoline-1-Oxide (4NQO) in Rat Model
by Olgun Topal, Burcu Güçyetmez Topal, Yunus Baş, Bünyamin Ongan, Gökhan Sadi, Esra Aslan, Betül Demirciler Yavaş and Mehmet Bilgehan Pektaş
Medicina 2024, 60(8), 1192; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina60081192 (registering DOI) - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Background and Objectives: PIN1 is overexpressed in several human cancers, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, and oral squamous carcinomas. Juglone (J), derived from walnut, was reported to selectively inhibit PIN1 by modifying its sulfhydryl groups. In this study, the potential effects of [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: PIN1 is overexpressed in several human cancers, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, and oral squamous carcinomas. Juglone (J), derived from walnut, was reported to selectively inhibit PIN1 by modifying its sulfhydryl groups. In this study, the potential effects of juglone, also known as PIN1 inhibitor, on oral cancer and carcinogenesis were investigated at the molecular level. Materials and Methods: 4-Nitroquinoline N-oxide (4-NQO) was used to create an oral cancer model in animals. Wistar rats were divided into five groups: Control, NQO, Juglone, NQO+J, and NQO+J*. The control group received the basal diet and tap water throughout the experiment. The NQO group received 4-NQO for 8 weeks in drinking water only. The Juglone group was administered intraperitoneally in a juglone solution for 10 weeks (1 mg/kg/day). The NQO+J group received 4-NQO in drinking water for 8 weeks, starting 1 week after the cessation of 4-NQO treatment. They were then administered intraperitoneally in a juglone solution for 10 weeks. (1 mg/kg/day). NQO+J* group: received 4 NQO for 8 weeks in drinking water and administered intraperitoneally in a juglone solution for 10 weeks (1 mg/kg/day). They were sacrificed at the end of the 22-week experimental period. The tongue tissues of the rats were isolated after the experiment, morphological changes were investigated by histological examinations, and the molecular apoptotic process was investigated by rt-qPCR and western blot. Results: Histological results indicate that tumors are formed in the tongue tissue with 4-NQO, and juglone treatment largely corrects the epithelial changes that developed with 4-NQO. It has been determined that apoptotic factors p53, Bax, and caspases are induced by the effect of juglone, while antiapoptotic factors such as Bcl-2 are suppressed. However, it was observed that the positive effects were more pronounced in rats given juglone together with 4-NQO. Conclusions: The use of PIN1 inhibitors such as juglone in place of existing therapeutic approaches might be a promising and novel approach to the preservation and treatment of oral cancer and carcinogenesis. However, further research is required to investigate the practical application of such inhibitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Oncology)
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16 pages, 1663 KiB  
Article
Crop Water Use and a Gravity Model Exploration of Virtual Water Trade in Ghana’s Cereal Agriculture
by Alexander Sessi Kosi Tette, Golden Odey, Mirza Junaid Ahmad, Bashir Adelodun and Kyung-Sook Choi
Water 2024, 16(15), 2077; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16152077 (registering DOI) - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Agricultural water productivity is crucial for sustainability amidst the escalating demand for food. Cereals are pivotal in providing nutritious food at affordable prices. This study was based on Ghanaian data spanning from 1992 to 2021 to evaluate water usage in the cultivation of [...] Read more.
Agricultural water productivity is crucial for sustainability amidst the escalating demand for food. Cereals are pivotal in providing nutritious food at affordable prices. This study was based on Ghanaian data spanning from 1992 to 2021 to evaluate water usage in the cultivation of major cereals. It also examined the virtual water losses or gains in cereal trade alongside influencing factors. The analysis utilized secondary data encompassing the virtual water content, production quantity, export and import quantities, distance, GDP per capita, population, and land per capita of Ghana and its 75 trade partners. In the last 5 years, crop water use (CWU) reached an average of 7.08 billion m3/yr for maize, 3.48 billion m3/yr for rice, 1.08 billion m3/yr for sorghum, and 0.63 billion m3/yr for millet production. Ghana’s major partners for exported virtual water (EVW) were Niger, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and Togo. Major partners for imported virtual water (IVW) were Argentina, South Africa, Ukraine, Togo, Russia, Burkina Faso, Canada, Senegal, Nigeria, Portugal, UK, Niger, and the USA. The Panel Least Squares Method of regression was used to apply the Gravity Model principle in assessing influencing factors. The findings indicate that Ghana is a net importer of virtual water in the cereal trade, with significant influences from geographical distance, GDP per capita, population, land per capita, and cereal water use. Full article
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20 pages, 4206 KiB  
Article
Influence of Mineral Liquid Fertilization on the Plant Growth of Perennials on Sheep’s Wool–Coir–Vegetation Mats
by Susanne Herfort, Virginia Maß, Amelie Hüneburg and Heiner Grüneberg
Horticulturae 2024, 10(8), 773; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10080773 - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Perennials are usually pre-cultivated on vegetation mats consisting of coconut fiber (coir), which require weather-dependent irrigation and regular fertilization with fast-acting fertilizer to achieve a saleable condition as quickly as possible. In the pre-cultivation of sheep’s wool–coir–vegetation mats, nitrogen (N) is already sufficiently [...] Read more.
Perennials are usually pre-cultivated on vegetation mats consisting of coconut fiber (coir), which require weather-dependent irrigation and regular fertilization with fast-acting fertilizer to achieve a saleable condition as quickly as possible. In the pre-cultivation of sheep’s wool–coir–vegetation mats, nitrogen (N) is already sufficiently contained in the vegetation mats due to the natural nitrogen content of the sheep’s wool fibers, so that additional liquid fertilization during pre-cultivation can be dispensed with if necessary. In this study, sheep’s wool–coir–vegetation mats of 4.5 kg/m2 were pre-cultivated with 16 perennial plants (8 species) in 2018. Variant 1 (V1) received regular fertilization with mineral liquid fertilizer (total 8.7 g N/m2) during pre-cultivation. Variant 2 (V2) was not fertilized during pre-cultivation. In spring 2019, all pre-cultivated vegetation mats were lifted and laid on an area prepared with topsoil. No additional fertilization was applied after laying. The overall impression, plant height, number of flowering perennials, and plant coverage were examined in the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons, with only minor differences observed between V1 and V2. The number of flowers, biomass, and nitrogen content were determined for the two aster species used. There were differences between V1 and V2 in 2018, but not in 2019. The coverage of perennials of 50%, which is the prerequisite for the saleability of the vegetation mats, was already achieved on both V1 and V2 after 4 months of pre-cultivation. The overall impression of the perennials on both V1 and V2 also did not differ during pre-cultivation nor in the following year. Therefore, liquid fertilization is not necessary during the pre-cultivation of perennials on sheep’s wool–coir–vegetation mats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cultivation and Breeding of Ornamental Plants)
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14 pages, 1595 KiB  
Article
Imidacloprid Uptake and Accumulation in Lettuce Plant (Lactuca sativa L. var. longipolia) and Its Effects on Abundance of Microbial Communities in Cultivated and Non-Cultivated Arid Soil
by Ahmed A. Ahmed, Abdulgader Bazyad, Fahad Alotaibi, Khaled D. Alotaibi, Garry Codling and Hattan A. Alharbi
Plants 2024, 13(15), 2017; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13152017 - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Systemic plant protection products, such as neonicotinoids (NIs), are capable of being translocated throughout a plant. Although NIs are less toxic to mammals, fish, and birds, their impact on microbial and non-target insects is of concern. This study investigates the uptake, translocation, and [...] Read more.
Systemic plant protection products, such as neonicotinoids (NIs), are capable of being translocated throughout a plant. Although NIs are less toxic to mammals, fish, and birds, their impact on microbial and non-target insects is of concern. This study investigates the uptake, translocation, and accumulation of the NI, imidacloprid (IMI), in romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. longipolia). Exposing 15-day-old seedlings to “10 mg/L” of IMI, the effects on microbial communities in both cultivated (CS) and non-cultivated soil (NCS) were studied along with IMI translocation within plant tissues. The concentrations of IMI in soil varied temporally and between soil types after initial application, with a decrease from 2.0 and 7.7 mg/kg on the first day of sampling to 0.5 and 2.6 mg/kg on the final sampling day (day 35) for CS and NCS, respectively. The half-life of IMI soil was 10.7 and 72.5 days in CS and NCS, respectively, indicating that IMI degraded more quickly in CS, possibly due to smaller grain size, aeration, microbial degradation, and water flow. The accumulated concentrations of IMI in lettuce tissues ranged from 12.4 ± 0.2 and 18.7± 0.9 mg/kg in CS and NCS, respectively. The highest concentration of IMI was found in the shoots, followed by the roots, whereas the soil showed the lowest IMI residuals at the end of the trial. Soil bacteria and fungi were altered by the application of IMI, with a lower abundance index within the bacterial community, indicating a negative impact on the distribution of bacteria in the soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant–Soil Interactions)
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16 pages, 3461 KiB  
Article
High-Resolution Ultrasound Platform for Infant Meningitis Detection: An In Vitro Demonstration
by Manuel Navarrete, David Castells-Rufas, Hassane Baghdad Kichou, Guillermo Navarro-Patron, Javier Jimenez and Jordi Carrabina
Sensors 2024, 24(15), 4768; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24154768 - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Infant meningitis remains a severe burden on global health, particularly for young infants. Traditional ultrasound imaging techniques are limited in spatial resolution to visualize white blood cells (WBCs) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is considered a well-established marker for meningitis detection. This [...] Read more.
Infant meningitis remains a severe burden on global health, particularly for young infants. Traditional ultrasound imaging techniques are limited in spatial resolution to visualize white blood cells (WBCs) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is considered a well-established marker for meningitis detection. This work presents a novel platform that uses high-resolution ultrasound to detect the backscatter signals from microscopic CSF WBCs through the anterior fontanelle of neonates and young infants. The whole system was built around a custom probe that allows for a 20 MHz focused transducer to be mechanically controlled to map the area of interest in the CSF. Data processing can be performed internally in the device without the need to extract the images for further analysis. The in vitro feasibility of the proposed solution was evaluated in imaging 7 μm particle suspensions at different concentrations relevant to meningitis diagnosis ranging from 7- to 646-particles (pp)/μL. The experimental tests were conducted from a simple setup using a sample container to a more realistic setup based on an anatomical phantom of the neonatal head. The results show high-quality images, where 7 μm particles can be resolved for the different concentrations. Full article
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29 pages, 1550 KiB  
Article
Green Financial Policy, Resource Allocation and Corporate Environmental Responsibility
by Xueying Yuan, Lixia Shang and Jinhua Xu
Sustainability 2024, 16(15), 6273; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16156273 (registering DOI) - 23 Jul 2024
Abstract
Green finance policy has emerged as a powerful driver for sustainable development worldwide, which has arisen at the top of the political agenda. Drawing on resource allocation theory, this study empirically investigates whether and how green finance policy affects corporate environmental responsibility in [...] Read more.
Green finance policy has emerged as a powerful driver for sustainable development worldwide, which has arisen at the top of the political agenda. Drawing on resource allocation theory, this study empirically investigates whether and how green finance policy affects corporate environmental responsibility in achieving sustainable development goals on a micro level. Taking China’s green finance reform and innovation (GFRI) pilot policy as a quasi-natural experiment, this paper employs the difference-in-differences model to investigate the impact of green finance policy on corporate environmental responsibility. The evidence shows that the GFRI policy significantly promotes corporate environmental responsibility. The results hold robust after a series of checks such as parallel trend examination, placebo test, exclusion of other policies, and alternative variable measurement. Moreover, this study explores the potential mechanism channels from the perspective of resource allocation theory. Specifically, green finance policy ultimately accelerates corporate environmental responsibility through financing capacity and environmental protection supervision. The heterogeneity analysis shows that the positive impact of the GFRI policy on corporate environmental responsibility is more pronounced for companies in areas with superior green development, strong law enforcement, and higher levels of pollution. The above findings indicate that the formal institution of government-led green financial policy can positively affect corporate environmental responsibility, with regional green development and law enforcement factors enhancing the effectiveness of these policies. Furthermore, the level of local pollution further intensifies the corporate sensibility to such policy effects. Overall, our study sheds light on the significant role of green financial policy in fostering a sustainable economy, helping reconcile the mixed evidence on the financial function of green finance policy on the firm level. Full article
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