Latest Articles

Open AccessArticle
A Fuzzy Based Model for Standardized Sustainability Assessment of Photovoltaic Cells
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4787; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124787 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In this paper, a new environmental sustainability indicator (ESI) is proposed to evaluate photovoltaic (PV) cells utilizing Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) principles. The proposed indicator is based on a model that employs a fuzzy logic algorithm to combine multiple factors, usually used in
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In this paper, a new environmental sustainability indicator (ESI) is proposed to evaluate photovoltaic (PV) cells utilizing Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) principles. The proposed indicator is based on a model that employs a fuzzy logic algorithm to combine multiple factors, usually used in multiple LCAs, and produce results allowing a comprehensive interpretation of LCA phase sub-results leading to standardized comparisons of various PV cells. Such comparisons would be essential for policymakers and PV cell manufacturers and users, as they allow for fair assessment of the environmental sustainability of a particular type of PV with multiple factors. The output of the proposed model was tested and verified against published information on LCAs related to PV cells. A distinct feature of this fuzzy logic model is its expandability, allowing more factors to be included in the future, as desired by the users, or dictated by a new discovery. It also provides a platform that can be used to evaluate other families of products. Moreover, standardizing the comparison process helps in improving the sustainability of PV cells through targeting individual relevant factors for changes while tracking the combined final impact of these changes on the overall environmental sustainability of the PV cell. Full article
Open AccessReview
An Integrative, Systematic Review Exploring the Research, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance of Interventions to Reduce Sedentary Behaviour in Office Workers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2876; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122876 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Sedentary behaviour is associated with poor health outcomes, and office-based workers are at significant health risk, as they accumulate large proportions of their overall sitting time at work. The aim of this integrated systematic review was to collate and synthesize published research on
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Sedentary behaviour is associated with poor health outcomes, and office-based workers are at significant health risk, as they accumulate large proportions of their overall sitting time at work. The aim of this integrated systematic review was to collate and synthesize published research on sedentary behaviour interventions in the workplace that have reported on at least one an aspect of the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. Studies were included if they involved adult office workers, were conducted in an office setting, and changes in sedentary behaviour had been measured as a primary outcome. Five electronic databases were searched yielding 7234 articles, with 75 articles (61 individual interventions) meeting the inclusion criteria. Reach indicators were the most frequently reported RE-AIM dimensions, which were reported on average 59% of the time. Efficacy/effectiveness was the second most reported dimension at 49% reporting across all of the indicators. Implementation indicators were reported an average of 44% of the time, with indicators of adoption and maintenance reported as the lowest of all indicators at 13% and 8%, respectively. Recommendations are provided to improve reporting across all RE-AIM dimensions, which is an important first step to enable the effective translation of interventions into real world settings. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Strawberry Vein Banding Virus P6 Protein Is a Translation Trans-Activator and Its Activity Can be Suppressed by FveIF3g
Viruses 2018, 10(12), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10120717 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The strawberry vein banding virus (SVBV) open reading frame (ORF) VI encodes a P6 protein known as the RNA silencing suppressor. This protein is known to form inclusion like granules of various sizes and accumulate in both the nuclei and the cytoplasm of
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The strawberry vein banding virus (SVBV) open reading frame (ORF) VI encodes a P6 protein known as the RNA silencing suppressor. This protein is known to form inclusion like granules of various sizes and accumulate in both the nuclei and the cytoplasm of SVBV-infected plant cells. In this study, we have determined that the P6 protein is the only trans-activator (TAV) encoded by SVBV, and can efficiently trans-activate the translation of downstream gfp mRNA in a bicistron derived from the SVBV. Furthermore, the P6 protein can trans-activate the expression of different bicistrons expressed by different caulimovirus promoters. The P6 protein encoded by SVBV from an infectious clone can also trans-activate the expression of bicistron. Through protein-protein interaction assays, we determined that the P6 protein could interact with the cell translation initiation factor FveIF3g of Fragaria vesca and co-localize with it in the nuclei of Nicotiana benthamiana cells. This interaction reduced the formation of P6 granules in cells and its trans-activation activity on translation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Calcium Phosphate Powder Synthesized from Calcium Acetate and Ammonium Hydrophosphate for Bioceramics Application
Ceramics 2018, 1(2), 375-392; https://doi.org/10.3390/ceramics1020030 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Calcium phosphate powder was synthesized at room temperature from aqueous solutions of ammonium hydrophosphate and calcium acetate without pH adjusting at constant Ca/P molar ratio 1.5. Phase composition of the as-synthesized powder depended on the precursors concentration: At 2.0 M of calcium acetate
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Calcium phosphate powder was synthesized at room temperature from aqueous solutions of ammonium hydrophosphate and calcium acetate without pH adjusting at constant Ca/P molar ratio 1.5. Phase composition of the as-synthesized powder depended on the precursors concentration: At 2.0 M of calcium acetate in the starting solution, poorly crystallized hydroxyapatite was formed, 0.125 M solution of calcium acetate afforded brushite, and the powders synthesized from 0.25–1.0 M calcium acetate solutions were mixtures of the mentioned phases. Firing at 1100 °C led to complete elimination of the reaction by-products, yet the phase composition of the annealed compacted samples was the following: When 2.0 M solution of calcium acetate was used, the obtained ceramics consisted of β-Ca3(PO4)2, whereas at 0.125 to 1.0 M of calcium acetate, the ceramics was a mixture of β-Ca3(PO4)2 and β-Ca2P2O7. Synthesized calcium phosphate powders can be used as the powdered precursors for biocompatible bioresorbable composite ceramics production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Schisandra Chinensis Lignans Suppresses the Production of Inflammatory Mediators Regulated by NF-κB, AP-1, and IRF3 in Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated RAW264.7 Cells
Molecules 2018, 23(12), 3319; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23123319 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Schisandra Fructus (SF) is a traditional Chinese herb used in the treatment of inflammatory disorders like hepatitis. One of the main anti-inflammatory components of SF is the lignans. However, the underlying anti-inflammatory mechanism of Schisandra Chinensis lignans (SCL) remains unclear. This study aims
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Schisandra Fructus (SF) is a traditional Chinese herb used in the treatment of inflammatory disorders like hepatitis. One of the main anti-inflammatory components of SF is the lignans. However, the underlying anti-inflammatory mechanism of Schisandra Chinensis lignans (SCL) remains unclear. This study aims to investigate the effects of SCL on inflammatory mediators in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW264.7 cells and explore the underlying mechanism. The production of nitric oxide (NO) was determined by Griess reaction. ELISA was used to determine cytokine levels and chemokines secretion. To estimate protein levels and enzyme activities, we employed Western blotting. Nuclear localization of NF-κB, AP-1, and IRF3 was detected using immunofluorescence analyses. The results showed that SCL significantly reduced the release of inflammatory mediators, including NO and PGE2, which may be related to down-regulation of iNOS and COX-2 expression. The production of cytokines and chemokines was suppressed by SCL treatment. SCL also decreased the phosphorylation of IKKα/β, IκB-α, Akt, TBK1, ERK, p38, JNK, NF-κB (p65), AP-1 (c-Jun), and IRF3 in RAW264.7 macrophages activated with LPS. The nuclear protein levels and nuclear translocation of AP-1, NF-κB and IRF3 were suppressed by SCL. These results indicated that SCL suppressed the IKKα/β/NF-κB, MAPKs/AP-1 and TBK1/IRF3 signaling pathways in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Systematic Characterization of DMPC/DHPC Self-Assemblies and Their Phase Behaviors in Aqueous Solution
Colloids Interfaces 2018, 2(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/colloids2040073 -
Abstract
Self-assemblies composed of 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and 1,2-dihexanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DHPC) form several kinds of structures, such as vesicle, micelle, and bicelle. Their morphological properties have been studied widely, but their interfacial membrane properties have not been adequately investigated. Herein, we report
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Self-assemblies composed of 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and 1,2-dihexanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DHPC) form several kinds of structures, such as vesicle, micelle, and bicelle. Their morphological properties have been studied widely, but their interfacial membrane properties have not been adequately investigated. Herein, we report a systematic characterization of DMPC/DHPC assemblies at 20 °C. To investigate the phase behavior, optical density OD500, size (by dynamic light scattering), membrane fluidity 1/PDPH (using 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene), and membrane polarity GP340 (using 6-dodecanoyl-N,N-dimethyl-2-naphthylamine) were measured as a function of molar ratio of DHPC (XDHPC). Based on structural properties (OD500 and size), large and small assemblies were categorized into Region (i) (XDHPC < 0.4) and Region (ii) (XDHPC ≥ 0.4), respectively. The DMPC/DHPC assemblies with 0.33 ≤ XDHPC ≤ 0.67 (Region (ii-1)) showed gel-phase-like interfacial membrane properties, whereas DHPC-rich assemblies (XDHPC ≥ 0.77) showed disordered membrane properties (Region (ii-2)). Considering the structural and interfacial membrane properties, the DMPC/DHPC assemblies in Regions (i), (ii-1), and (ii-2) can be determined to be vesicle, bicelle, and micelle, respectively. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Facile Fabrication of Multifunctional ZnO Urchins on Surfaces
Colloids Interfaces 2018, 2(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/colloids2040074 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Functional ZnO nanostructured surfaces are important in a wide range of applications. Here we report the simple fabrication of ZnO surface structures at near room temperature with morphology resembling that of sea urchins, with densely packed, μm-long, tapered nanoneedles radiating from the urchin
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Functional ZnO nanostructured surfaces are important in a wide range of applications. Here we report the simple fabrication of ZnO surface structures at near room temperature with morphology resembling that of sea urchins, with densely packed, μm-long, tapered nanoneedles radiating from the urchin center. The ZnO urchin structures were successfully formed on several different substrates with high surface density and coverage, including silicon (Si), glass, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and copper (Cu) sheets, as well as Si seeded with ZnO nanocrystals. Time-resolved SEM revealed growth kinetics of the ZnO nanostructures on Si, capturing the emergence of “infant” urchins at the early growth stage and subsequent progressive increases in the urchin nanoneedle length and density, whilst the spiky nanoneedle morphology was retained throughout the growth. ε-Zn(OH)2 orthorhombic crystals were also observed alongside the urchins. The crystal structures of the nanostructures at different growth times were confirmed by synchrotron X-ray diffraction measurements. On seeded Si substrates, a two-stage growth mechanism was identified, with a primary growth step of vertically aligned ZnO nanoneedle arrays preceding the secondary growth of the urchins atop the nanoneedle array. The antibacterial, anti-reflective, and wetting functionality of the ZnO urchins—with spiky nanoneedles and at high surface density—on Si substrates was demonstrated. First, bacteria colonization was found to be suppressed on the surface after 24 h incubation in gram-negative Escherichia coli (E. coli) culture, in contrast to control substrates (bare Si and Si sputtered with a 20 nm ZnO thin film). Secondly, the ZnO urchin surface, exhibiting superhydrophilic property with a water contact angle ~ 0°, could be rendered superhydrophobic with a simple silanization step, characterized by an apparent water contact angle θ of 159° ± 1.4° and contact angle hysteresis ∆θ < 7°. The dynamic superhydrophobicity of the surface was demonstrated by the bouncing-off of a falling 10 μL water droplet, with a contact time of 15.3 milliseconds (ms), captured using a high-speed camera. Thirdly, it was shown that the presence of dense spiky ZnO nanoneedles and urchins on the seeded Si substrate exhibited a reflectance R < 1% over the wavelength range λ = 200–800 nm. The ZnO urchins with a unique morphology fabricated via a simple route at room temperature, and readily implementable on different substrates, may be further exploited for multifunctional surfaces and product formulations. Full article
Open AccessReview
Immunomodulation as a Therapy for Aspergillus Infection: Current Status and Future Perspectives
J. Fungi 2018, 4(4), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof4040137 -
Abstract
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is the most serious life-threatening infectious complication of intensive remission induction chemotherapy and allogeneic stem cell transplantation in patients with a variety of hematological malignancies. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most commonly isolated species from cases of IA. Despite the various
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Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is the most serious life-threatening infectious complication of intensive remission induction chemotherapy and allogeneic stem cell transplantation in patients with a variety of hematological malignancies. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most commonly isolated species from cases of IA. Despite the various improvements that have been made with preventative strategies and the development of antifungal drugs, there is an urgent need for new therapeutic approaches that focus on strategies to boost the host’s immune response, since immunological recovery is recognized as being the major determinant of the outcome of IA. Here, we aim to summarize current knowledge about a broad variety of immunotherapeutic approaches against IA, including therapies based on the transfer of distinct immune cell populations, and the administration of cytokines and antibodies. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Epigenetic Regulation of Organ Regeneration in Zebrafish
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2018, 5(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcdd5040057 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The zebrafish is broadly used for investigating de novo organ regeneration, because of its strong regenerative potential. Over the past two decades of intense study, significant advances have been made in identifying both the regenerative cell sources and molecular signaling pathways in a
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The zebrafish is broadly used for investigating de novo organ regeneration, because of its strong regenerative potential. Over the past two decades of intense study, significant advances have been made in identifying both the regenerative cell sources and molecular signaling pathways in a variety of organs in adult zebrafish. Epigenetic regulation has gradually moved into the center-stage of this research area, aided by comprehensive work demonstrating that DNA methylation, histone modifications, chromatin remodeling complexes, and microRNAs are essential for organ regeneration. Here, we present a brief review of how these epigenetic components are induced upon injury, and how they are involved in sophisticated organ regeneration. In addition, we highlight several prospective research directions and their potential implications for regenerative medicine. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Novel Moisture Diffusion Modeling Approach Using Finite Element Analysis
Electronics 2018, 7(12), 438; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7120438 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In this study, a novel wetness and moisture concentration analysis approach is presented. A finite element method is utilized for the solution technique mainly using thermal and surface effect elements. Numerical results obtained from the current approach are compared against other existing finite
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In this study, a novel wetness and moisture concentration analysis approach is presented. A finite element method is utilized for the solution technique mainly using thermal and surface effect elements. Numerical results obtained from the current approach are compared against other existing finite element-based solutions and the newly introduced peridynamics theory. For numerical analysis, a reflow soldering stage is simulated for a multi-material system with time-dependent saturated moisture concentrations. Different solubility activation energies and temperature conditions are considered. Numerical results demonstrate that the developed methodology can make accurate predictions under different conditions and it is more general than some other existing models which are limited to certain conditions. Full article
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