The 2023 MDPI Annual Report has
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12 pages, 261 KiB  
Article
Nutrition-Related Knowledge and Nutrition-Related Practice among Polish Adolescents—A Cross-Sectional Study
by Agata Wawrzyniak and Iwona Traczyk
Nutrients 2024, 16(11), 1611; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16111611 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
The aim of this study was to examine the association between nutrition-related knowledge (NRK) and nutrition-related practice (NRP) among 1440 Polish students (aged 10–18 years) and identify the determining factors. Questions about NRK and NRP were thematically similar and referred to the recommendations [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between nutrition-related knowledge (NRK) and nutrition-related practice (NRP) among 1440 Polish students (aged 10–18 years) and identify the determining factors. Questions about NRK and NRP were thematically similar and referred to the recommendations of the Polish Pyramid of Healthy Nutrition and Lifestyle for Children and Adolescents (4–18 years). A cross-sectional study was conducted using the CAWI method. The respondents obtained an average of 51% of points in the NRK examination and 32% of points in the NRP examination. It was shown that NRP was positively associated with NRK (p < 0.001). The students’ NRK was positively determined by the following factors: being female (p < 0.001), older age of students (p < 0.001), living in a larger town (p = 0.012) and a higher level of education of the mother/legal guardian (p < 0.001). NRP was positively associated with greater physical activity of the students (p < 0.001). NRK and NRP were negatively associated with the subjects’ BMI (p = 0.029; p = 0.040, respectively). The analysis of NRK shows that the students’ knowledge regarding the consumption of milk, milk products and fish should be increased (17–20% correct answers). The analysis of NRP reveals that only 4–14% of students declared appropriate eating habits regarding the consumption of sweet and salty snacks, fish, wholegrain products and milk. This study highlights the need for targeted educational strategies to increase both the understanding and application of dietary guidelines among Polish adolescents for the prevention of diet-related diseases. Full article
3 pages, 145 KiB  
Editorial
Special Issue “Genetic, Functional and Therapeutic Aspects of Procoagulant and Anticoagulant Factors”
by Tami Livnat and Rima Dardik
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(11), 5741; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25115741 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
Pro- and anticoagulant factors are core components of hemostasis [...] Full article
11 pages, 1875 KiB  
Communication
The Quest for High-Temperature Superconductivity in Nickelates under Ambient Pressure
by Leena Aggarwal and Ivan Božović
Materials 2024, 17(11), 2546; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma17112546 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
Recently, superconductivity with Tc ≈ 80 K was discovered in La3Ni2O7 under extreme hydrostatic pressure (>14 GPa). For practical applications, we needed to stabilize this state at ambient pressure. It was proposed that this could be accomplished [...] Read more.
Recently, superconductivity with Tc ≈ 80 K was discovered in La3Ni2O7 under extreme hydrostatic pressure (>14 GPa). For practical applications, we needed to stabilize this state at ambient pressure. It was proposed that this could be accomplished by substituting La with Ba. To put this hypothesis to the test, we used the state-of-the-art atomic-layer-by-layer molecular beam epitaxy (ALL-MBE) technique to synthesize (La1−xBax)3Ni2O7 films, varying x and the distribution of La (lanthanum) and Ba (barium). Regrettably, none of the compositions we explored could be stabilized epitaxially; the targeted compounds decomposed immediately into a mixture of other phases. So, this path to high-temperature superconductivity in nickelates at ambient pressure does not seem promising. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Superconducting Materials and Applications of Superconductivity)
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11 pages, 1344 KiB  
Article
Multi-Marker Approach in Patients with Acute Chest Pain in the Emergency Department
by Andrea Piccioni, Silvia Baroni, Federica Manca, Francesca Sarlo, Gabriele Savioli, Marcello Candelli, Alessandra Bronzino, Marcello Covino, Antonio Gasbarrini and Francesco Franceschi
J. Pers. Med. 2024, 14(6), 564; https://doi.org/10.3390/jpm14060564 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
Background: Chest pain is a prevalent reason for emergency room referrals and presents diagnostic challenges. The physician must carefully differentiate between cardiac and noncardiac causes, including various vascular and extracardiovascular conditions. However, it is crucial not to overlook serious conditions such as acute [...] Read more.
Background: Chest pain is a prevalent reason for emergency room referrals and presents diagnostic challenges. The physician must carefully differentiate between cardiac and noncardiac causes, including various vascular and extracardiovascular conditions. However, it is crucial not to overlook serious conditions such as acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and early discharge management become difficult when traditional clinical criteria, ECG, and troponin values are insufficient. Recently, the focus has shifted to a “multi-marker” approach to improve diagnostic accuracy and prognosis in patients with chest pain. Methods: This observational, prospective, single-center study involved, with informed consent, 360 patients presenting to the emergency department with typical chest pain and included a control group of 120 healthy subjects. In addition to routine examinations, including tests for hsTnI (Siemens TNIH kit), according to the 0–1 h algorithm, biochemical markers sST2 (tumorigenicity suppression-2) and suPAR (soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor) were also evaluated for each patient. A 12-month follow-up was conducted to monitor outcomes and adverse events. Results: We identified two groups of patients: a positive one (112 patients) with high levels of hsTnI, sST2 > 24.19 ng/mL, and suPAR > 2.9 ng/mL, diagnosed with ACS; and a negative one (136 patients) with low levels of hsTnI, suPAR < 2.9 ng/mL, and sST2 < 24.19 ng/mL. During the 12-month follow-up, no adverse events were observed in the negative group. In the intermediate group, patients with hsTnI between 6 ng/L and the ischemic limit, sST2 > 29.1 ng/mL and suPAR > 2.9 ng/mL, showed the highest probability of adverse events during follow-up, while those with sST2 < 24.19 ng/mL and suPAR < 2.9 ng/mL had a better outcome with no adverse events at 12 months. Conclusion: Our data suggest that sST2 and suPAR, together with hsTnI, may be useful in the prognosis of cardiovascular patients with ACS, providing additional information on endothelial damage. These biomarkers could guide the clinical decision on further diagnostic investigations. In addition, suPAR and sST2 emerge as promising for event prediction in patients with chest pain. Their integration into the standard approach in PS could facilitate more efficient patient management, allowing safe release or timely admission based on individual risk. Full article
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22 pages, 2739 KiB  
Article
A Registration Method of Overlap Aware Point Clouds Based on Transformer-to-Transformer Regression
by Yafei Zhao, Lineng Chen, Quanchen Zhou, Jiabao Zuo, Huan Wang and Mingwu Ren
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(11), 1898; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16111898 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
Transformer has recently become widely adopted in point cloud registration. Nevertheless, Transformer is unsuitable for handling dense point clouds due to resource constraints and the sheer volume of data. We propose a method for directly regressing the rigid relative transformation of dense point [...] Read more.
Transformer has recently become widely adopted in point cloud registration. Nevertheless, Transformer is unsuitable for handling dense point clouds due to resource constraints and the sheer volume of data. We propose a method for directly regressing the rigid relative transformation of dense point cloud pairs. Specifically, we divide the dense point clouds into blocks according to the down-sampled superpoints. During training, we randomly select point cloud blocks with varying overlap ratios, and during testing, we introduce the overlap-aware Rotation-Invariant Geometric Transformer Cross-Encoder (RIG-Transformer), which predicts superpoints situated within the common area of the point cloud pairs. The dense points corresponding to the superpoints are inputted into the Transformer Cross-Encoder to estimate their correspondences. Through the fusion of our RIG-Transformer and Transformer Cross-Encoder, we propose Transformer-to-Transformer Regression (TTReg), which leverages dense point clouds from overlapping regions for both training and testing phases, calculating the relative transformation of the dense points by using the predicted correspondences without random sample consensus (RANSAC). We have evaluated our method on challenging benchmark datasets, including 3DMatch, 3DLoMatch, ModelNet, and ModelLoNet, demonstrating up to a 7.2% improvement in registration recall. The improvements are attributed to our RIG-Transformer module and regression mechanism, which makes the features of superpoints more discriminative. Full article
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15 pages, 505 KiB  
Article
Modeling Tax Revenue Determinants: The Case of Visegrad Group Countries
by Jadranka Đurović Todorović, Marina Đorđević, Vera Mirović, Branimir Kalaš and Nataša Pavlović
Economies 2024, 12(6), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/economies12060131 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
This article provides panel data estimations of the tax revenue determinants in VG (Visegrad Group) countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) for the period 1994–2023. The aim of this research was to determine how the macroeconomic determinants affect the tax revenues [...] Read more.
This article provides panel data estimations of the tax revenue determinants in VG (Visegrad Group) countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) for the period 1994–2023. The aim of this research was to determine how the macroeconomic determinants affect the tax revenues in the selected countries. Within the static models, the Hausman test showed that the FE (fixed effects) model is appropriate and reflects the significant effects of the gross domestic product, population, inflation, unemployment, import, government revenue, government expenditure, and EU enlargement on the tax revenue. The PMG (Pooled Mean Group) model is an adequate model among the dynamic models and manifests the significant effect of the lagged value of the tax revenue. In the short term, growth of the gross domestic product and population by 1% causes higher changes in the tax revenue of 0.14% and 2.93%. Likewise, growth of the inflation rate by 1% decreases the tax revenue by 0.037%, which is higher than in the long term. Further, the results show that EU enlargement is significant for tax revenue in the short term, as well as in the long term. In the long term, unemployment has a greater significant effect on tax revenue, where 1% growth decreases the tax revenue by 0.15%. In contrast, government revenue is significant for tax revenue only in the long term, where 1% growth increases the tax revenue by 0.77%. Full article
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14 pages, 2391 KiB  
Article
Monitoring of Curing Process of Epoxy Resin by Long-Period Fiber Gratings
by Oleg V. Ivanov, Kaushal Bhavsar, Oliver Morgan-Clague and James M. Gilbert
Sensors 2024, 24(11), 3397; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24113397 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
The curing of epoxy resin is a complex thermo-chemical process that is difficult to monitor using existing sensing systems. We monitored the curing process of an epoxy resin by using long-period fiber gratings. The refractive index of the epoxy resin increases during the [...] Read more.
The curing of epoxy resin is a complex thermo-chemical process that is difficult to monitor using existing sensing systems. We monitored the curing process of an epoxy resin by using long-period fiber gratings. The refractive index of the epoxy resin increases during the curing process and can be measured to determine the degree of curing. We employed long-period fiber gratings that are sensitive to the refractive index of an external medium for the measurement of refractive index changes in the resin. We observed that the resonances of long-period fiber gratings increased their depth with the increased refractive index of the resin, which was well described by our simulation taking the coupling to radiation modes into account. We demonstrated that the degree of cure can be estimated from the depth of the grating resonances using a phenomenological model. At the same time, long-period fiber gratings are sensitive to temperature variations and internal strains that are induced during curing. These factors may affect the measurements of curing degree and should also be addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Applications of Optical Fiber Sensors)
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13 pages, 2190 KiB  
Article
Survival Analysis of Metastatic Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer Compared to Metastatic Average-Onset Colorectal Cancer: A SEER Database Analysis
by Antoine Jeri-Yabar, Liliana Vittini-Hernandez, Sebastian Prado-Nuñez and Sirish Dharmapuri
Cancers 2024, 16(11), 2004; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers16112004 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
Background: Early-onset colorectal cancer (EO-CRC) is defined as colorectal cancer diagnosed before the age of 50 years, and its incidence has been increasing over the last decade, now accounting for 10% of all new CRC diagnoses. Average-onset colorectal cancer (AO-CRC) has shown a [...] Read more.
Background: Early-onset colorectal cancer (EO-CRC) is defined as colorectal cancer diagnosed before the age of 50 years, and its incidence has been increasing over the last decade, now accounting for 10% of all new CRC diagnoses. Average-onset colorectal cancer (AO-CRC) has shown a steady decline in its incidence and related mortality over the past 20 years. The disparities in outcomes and overall survival (OS) between EO-CRC and AO-CRC are controversial. Our study compared OS and cause-specific survival (CSS) between metastatic EO-CRC (mEO-CRC) and metastatic AO-CRC (mAO-CRC) and identified the associated factors. Methods: Data on patient characteristics, tumor characteristics, incidence, and mortality were obtained from the SEER database from 2010 to 2020. We identified 23,278 individuals aged > 18 years with a confirmed diagnosis of all histological subtypes of metastatic CRC (M1 on TNM stage) using ICD-O-3 site codes. mEO-CRC and mAO-CRC were compared. OS distributions and CCS were analyzed using the Kaplan–Meier method and log-rank test to assess differences. A Cox regression model was used to assess the associations between variables. Results: mEO-CRC constituted 17.79% of the cases, whereas 82.21% had mAO-CRC. Most patients with mEO-CRC were 45–49 years old (47.66%), male (52.16%) and White (72.57%) and had adenocarcinoma histology (87.30%). Left colon tumors were most prevalent in both groups (40.26%) but were more prevalent in mEO-CRC patients than in mAO-CRC patients (49.63% vs. 38.23%, p < 0.001). Patients with mEO-CRC had higher OS (p < 0.001) and CSS (p < 0.001) than those with mAO-CRC. Patients with mEO-CRC also had significantly better median overall survival (30 months vs. 18 months, p < 0.001). The factors associated with worse OS included mAO-CRC (p < 0.001), mucinous adenocarcinoma (p < 0.001), male sex (p = 0.003), and a lack of surgical intervention (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Most patients with mEO-CRC fall within the range of 45 to 49 years of age. Patients with mEO-CRC were more likely to receive cancer-directed therapy (including chemotherapy and radiotherapy) and had better OS and CSS than those with mAO-CRC. This is likely attributable to the better performance status, fewer comorbidities, and better tolerance to cancer-directed therapy in mEO-CRC patients. The factors associated with worse OS and CSS were age > 50 years, mucinous adenocarcinoma, male sex, and no surgical treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cancer Metastasis)
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11 pages, 1363 KiB  
Article
Thermal Characterization of [C2Im][NO3] and Multivalent Nitrate Salts Mixtures
by Pablo Vallet, Juan José Parajó, Antía Santiago-Alonso, María Villanueva, Luis Miguel Varela and Josefa Salgado
Crystals 2024, 14(6), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst14060502 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
Due to their intrinsic properties, the current applicability of ionic liquids is enormous. In particular, their use in electrochemistry is beyond question. Numerous studies on these compounds and their mixtures, especially with lithium salts, focus on their use as electrolytes for batteries and [...] Read more.
Due to their intrinsic properties, the current applicability of ionic liquids is enormous. In particular, their use in electrochemistry is beyond question. Numerous studies on these compounds and their mixtures, especially with lithium salts, focus on their use as electrolytes for batteries and other energy storage devices. This includes thermal energy storage devices, where 4th generation ionic liquids and their derivatives show a huge potential. Nevertheless, considering the uneven availability of the raw materials, such as lithium, research has extended to mixtures of these compounds with other salts of different metals that are more abundant and widely distributed, such as magnesium or aluminum. This work presents a comprehensive thermal characterization, using differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetry, of the protic ionic liquid ethylimidazolium nitrate and its mixture with magnesium and aluminum nitrate salts at different concentrations. Additionally, a comparison between these results and previous studies of mixtures of this ionic liquid with lithium nitrate, as well as mixtures of the protic ionic liquid EAN with the same metal salts, was also performed. The results indicated that the salt addition tends to broaden and reduce crystallization and melting peaks, while the glass transition becomes more visible and shifts to higher temperatures with increasing salt concentration. This is due to the disorder generated by the rearrangement of ions in the polar domains, which erodes the hydrogen bond network of the protic ionic liquid. Nevertheless, the thermal stability of the blended samples does not change significantly compared to the bulk ionic liquid. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Materials for Energy Applications)
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18 pages, 27267 KiB  
Article
When Abnormality Becomes Perennial in a Reduced Population: The Case of Altudostephanus longicostis gen. et sp. nov. (Valanginian Ammonites, South-Eastern France)
by Didier Bert, Stéphane Bersac, Bernard Beltran and Léon Canut
Foss. Stud. 2024, 2(2), 92-109; https://doi.org/10.3390/fossils2020004 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2024
Abstract
The discovery of the new ammonite Altudostephanus longicostis gen. et sp. nov. around the lower/upper Valanginian boundary (Lower Cretaceous) with a true longitudinal ribs pattern oriented in the direction of coiling is reported here for the first time for the Cretaceous. This character [...] Read more.
The discovery of the new ammonite Altudostephanus longicostis gen. et sp. nov. around the lower/upper Valanginian boundary (Lower Cretaceous) with a true longitudinal ribs pattern oriented in the direction of coiling is reported here for the first time for the Cretaceous. This character rises questions as this type of ornamentation is mainly represented in the Paleozoic or old Mesozoic taxa. Its study shows that it is not a ‘shell accident’ and that it belongs to a particular lineage of Olcostephaninae, in a restricted geographical area and in a progenetic evolutionary context derived from Olcostephanus, which justifies the introduction of the new monophyletic genus Altudostephanus gen. nov. The discovery of a specimen of Passendorferia sp. (Oxfordian, Upper Jurassic) with the same pattern allows us to consider that this capacity could have a genetic cause. It seems that the fixation of this character, otherwise strongly recessive, in A. longicostis gen. et sp. nov. could take place thanks to a founder effect and the drastic numerical reduction in the population. The geological reference section PIG5 (Moriez area, South-Eastern France) is described, and the problem of the conservation of ‘pyritic’ s.l. ammonites is addressed with a proposed methodology allowing their long-term conservation. Full article
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34 pages, 1507 KiB  
Review
Process Simulation of Twin-Screw Granulation: A Review
by Tony Bediako Arthur and Nejat Rahmanian
Pharmaceutics 2024, 16(6), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics16060706 - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Twin-screw granulation has emerged as a key process in powder processing industries and in the pharmaceutical sector to produce granules with controlled properties. This comprehensive review provides an overview of the simulation techniques and approaches that have been employed in the study of [...] Read more.
Twin-screw granulation has emerged as a key process in powder processing industries and in the pharmaceutical sector to produce granules with controlled properties. This comprehensive review provides an overview of the simulation techniques and approaches that have been employed in the study of twin-screw granulation processes. This review discusses the major aspects of the twin-screw granulation process which include the fundamental principles of twin-screw granulation, equipment design, process parameters, and simulation methodologies. It highlights the importance of operating conditions and formulation designs in powder flow dynamics, mixing behaviour, and particle interactions within the twin-screw granulator for enhancing product quality and process efficiency. Simulation techniques such as the population balance model (PBM), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the discrete element method (DEM), process modelling software (PMS), and other coupled techniques are critically discussed with a focus on simulating twin-screw granulation processes. This paper examines the challenges and limitations associated with each simulation approach and provides insights into future research directions. Overall, this article serves as a valuable resource for researchers who intend to develop their understanding of twin-screw granulation and provides insights into the various techniques and approaches available for simulating the twin-screw granulation process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmaceutical Solids: Advanced Manufacturing and Characterization)
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11 pages, 220 KiB  
Article
Measuring Things That Measure You: Complex Epistemological Practices in Science Applied to the Martial Arts
by Zachary Agoff, Vadim Keyser and Benjamin Gwerder
Philosophies 2024, 9(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies9030074 - 24 May 2024
Abstract
We argue that an epistemology of martial arts is at least as complex as advanced epistemological positions available to the philosophy of science. Part of the complexity is a product of the epistemic relation between the knower and known, or the scientist and [...] Read more.
We argue that an epistemology of martial arts is at least as complex as advanced epistemological positions available to the philosophy of science. Part of the complexity is a product of the epistemic relation between the knower and known, or the scientist and the object of inquiry. In science, we measure things without changing them and, sometimes, complex systems can change as we measure them; but, in the epistemology of sport that we are interested in, each measurer is also an object of inquiry. As such, each martial arts practitioner has to use various epistemic tools to measure a responsive system. We proceed in three steps. First, we discuss three epistemological frameworks in the philosophy of science—perspectivism, productivism, and distributed cognition. Second, we develop an epistemology of martial arts that features components from each of those epistemic frameworks. Third, we close the paper with a brief discussion about the unique complexity available to the martial artist, focusing on the responsive measurements that occur between two systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Philosophy and Science of Martial Arts)
13 pages, 7385 KiB  
Article
A Comprehensive Study of NF3-Based Selective Etching Processes: Application to the Fabrication of Vertically Stacked Horizontal Gate-All-around Si Nanosheet Transistors
by Xin Sun, Jiayang Li, Lewen Qian, Dawei Wang, Ziqiang Huang, Xinlong Guo, Tao Liu, Saisheng Xu, Liming Wang, Min Xu and David Wei Zhang
Nanomaterials 2024, 14(11), 928; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano14110928 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
In this paper, we demonstrate a comprehensive study of NF3-based selective etching processes for inner spacer formation and for channel release, enabling stacked horizontal gate-all-around Si nanosheet transistor architectures. A cyclic etching process consisting of an oxidation treatment step and an [...] Read more.
In this paper, we demonstrate a comprehensive study of NF3-based selective etching processes for inner spacer formation and for channel release, enabling stacked horizontal gate-all-around Si nanosheet transistor architectures. A cyclic etching process consisting of an oxidation treatment step and an etching step is proposed and used for SiGe selective etching. The cyclic etching process exhibits a slower etching rate and higher etching selectivity compared to the direct etching process. The cycle etching process consisting of Recipe 1, which has a SiGe etching rate of 0.98 nm/cycle, is used for the cavity etch. The process achieved good interlayer uniformity of cavity depth (cavity depth ≤ 5 ± 0.3 nm), while also obtaining a near-ideal rectangular SiGe etch front shape (inner spacer shape = 0.84) and little Si loss (0.44 nm@ each side). The cycle etching process consisting of Recipe 4 with extremely high etching selectivity is used for channel release. The process realizes the channel release of nanosheets with a multi-width from 30 nm to 80 nm with little Si loss. In addition, a selective isotropic etching process using NF3/O2/Ar gas mixture is used to etch back the SiN film. The impact of the O2/NF3 ratio on the etching selectivity of SiN to Si and the surface roughness of SiN after etching is investigated. With the introduction of O2 into NF3/Ar discharge, the selectivity increases sharply, but when the ratio of O2/NF3 is up to 1.0, the selectivity tends to a constant value and the surface roughness of SiN increases rapidly. The optimal parameter is O2/NF3 = 0.5, resulting in a selectivity of 5.4 and a roughness of 0.19 nm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Nanosheets for Carbon Neutrality and Electronic Devices)
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11 pages, 640 KiB  
Article
Photoaging Elevated the Genotoxicity of Polystyrene Microplastics to Marine Mussel Mytilus trossulus (Gould, 1850)
by Victor Pavlovich Chelomin, Valentina Vladimirovna Slobodskova, Nadezhda Vladimirovna Dovzhenko, Andrey Alexandrovich Mazur and Sergey Petrovich Kukla
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(11), 5740; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25115740 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Micro-sized particles of synthetic polymers (microplastics) are found in all parts of marine ecosystems. This fact requires intensive study of the degree of danger of such particles to the life activity of hydrobionts and needs additional research. It is evident that hydrobionts in [...] Read more.
Micro-sized particles of synthetic polymers (microplastics) are found in all parts of marine ecosystems. This fact requires intensive study of the degree of danger of such particles to the life activity of hydrobionts and needs additional research. It is evident that hydrobionts in the marine environment are exposed to microplastics modified by biotic and abiotic degradation. To assess the toxic potential of aging microplastic, comparative studies were conducted on the response of cytochemical and genotoxic markers in hemocytes of the mussel Mytilus trossulus (Gould, 1850) after exposure to pristine and photodegraded (UV irradiation) polystyrene microparticles (µPS). The results of cytochemical tests showed that UV-irradiated µPS strongly reduced metabolism and destabilized lysosome membranes compared to pristine µPS. Using a Comet assay, it was shown that the nuclear DNA of mussel hemocytes showed high sensitivity to exposure to both types of plastics. However, the level of DNA damage was significantly higher in mussels exposed to aging µPS. It is suggested that the mechanism of increased toxicity of photo-oxidized µPS is based on free-radical reactions induced by the UV irradiation of polymers. The risks of toxic effects will be determined by the level of physicochemical degradation of the polymer, which can significantly affect the mechanisms of toxicity. Full article
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24 pages, 7169 KiB  
Article
An Improved WOA (Whale Optimization Algorithm)-Based CNN-BIGRU-CBAM Model and Its Application to Short-Term Power Load Forecasting
by Lei Dai and Haiying Wang
Energies 2024, 17(11), 2559; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17112559 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
The accuracy requirements for short-term power load forecasting have been increasing due to the rapid development of the electric power industry. Nevertheless, the short-term load exhibits both elasticity and instability characteristics, posing challenges for accurate load forecasting. Meanwhile, the traditional prediction model suffers [...] Read more.
The accuracy requirements for short-term power load forecasting have been increasing due to the rapid development of the electric power industry. Nevertheless, the short-term load exhibits both elasticity and instability characteristics, posing challenges for accurate load forecasting. Meanwhile, the traditional prediction model suffers from the issues of inadequate precision and inefficient training. In this work, a proposed model called IWOA-CNN-BIGRU-CBAM is introduced. To solve the problem of the Squeeze-and-Excitation (SE) attention mechanism’s inability to collect information in the spatial dimension effectively, the Convolutional Block Attention Module (CBAM) is firstly introduced as a replacement. This change aims to enhance the ability to capture location attributes. Subsequently, we propose an improved Whale Optimization Algorithm (IWOA) that addresses its limitations, such as heavy reliance on the initial solution and susceptibility to local optimum solutions. The proposed IWOA is also applied for the hyperparameter optimization of the Convolutional Neural Network–Bidirectional Gated Recurrent Unit–Convolutional Block Attention Module (CNN-BiGRU-CBAM) to improve the precision of predictions. Ultimately, applying the proposed model to forecast short-term power demand yields results that show that the CBAM effectively addresses the problem of the SE attention mechanism’s inability to capture spatial characteristics fully. The proposed IWOA exhibits a homogeneous dispersion of the initial population and an effective capability to identify the optimal solution. Compared to other models, the proposed model improves R2 by 0.00224, reduces the RMSE by 18.5781, and reduces MAE by 25.8940, and the model’s applicability and superiority are validated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation, Optimization and Intelligent Control of Energy System)
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12 pages, 407 KiB  
Article
Mood Alternation with Adverbs of Uncertainty in Galician: A Multifactorial Analysis
by Vítor Míguez
Languages 2024, 9(6), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages9060195 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
This study investigates the factors that significantly constrain mood selection in Galician within uncertainty adverb constructions, applying a logistic regression model. This analysis identified several significant factors affecting the choice between the indicative and subjunctive moods, including the temporal context of the clause, [...] Read more.
This study investigates the factors that significantly constrain mood selection in Galician within uncertainty adverb constructions, applying a logistic regression model. This analysis identified several significant factors affecting the choice between the indicative and subjunctive moods, including the temporal context of the clause, the preceding adverb, and the interaction of fictional and nonfictional registers with the verb type of the predicate and the gender of the speaker/writer. Time reference and the preceding adverb emerged as primary factors conditioning mood choice, with present and future time frames and adverbs encoding weaker epistemic values significantly predisposing toward the subjunctive mood. This study also highlighted the influence of the gender of the speaker/writer, demonstrating the preference of women toward the indicative mood in fictional texts. Verb type and register interact in complex ways that only partially align with previous findings. The results of the present study contribute to a deeper understanding of syntactic variation in Galician, adding to a growing body of quantitative research on Galician grammar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Galician Linguistics)
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20 pages, 1484 KiB  
Review
3-Chymotrypsin-like Protease (3CLpro) of SARS-CoV-2: Validation as a Molecular Target, Proposal of a Novel Catalytic Mechanism, and Inhibitors in Preclinical and Clinical Trials
by Vitor Martins de Freitas Amorim, Eduardo Pereira Soares, Anielle Salviano de Almeida Ferrari, Davi Gabriel Salustiano Merighi, Robson Francisco de Souza, Cristiane Rodrigues Guzzo and Anacleto Silva de Souza
Viruses 2024, 16(6), 844; https://doi.org/10.3390/v16060844 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Proteases represent common targets in combating infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) is a validated molecular target for COVID-19, and it is key for developing potent and selective inhibitors for inhibiting viral replication of SARS-CoV-2. In this review, we discuss structural [...] Read more.
Proteases represent common targets in combating infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) is a validated molecular target for COVID-19, and it is key for developing potent and selective inhibitors for inhibiting viral replication of SARS-CoV-2. In this review, we discuss structural relationships and diverse subsites of 3CLpro, shedding light on the pivotal role of dimerization and active site architecture in substrate recognition and catalysis. Our analysis of bioinformatics and other published studies motivated us to investigate a novel catalytic mechanism for the SARS-CoV-2 polyprotein cleavage by 3CLpro, centering on the triad mechanism involving His41-Cys145-Asp187 and its indispensable role in viral replication. Our hypothesis is that Asp187 may participate in modulating the pKa of the His41, in which catalytic histidine may act as an acid and/or a base in the catalytic mechanism. Recognizing Asp187 as a crucial component in the catalytic process underscores its significance as a fundamental pharmacophoric element in drug design. Next, we provide an overview of both covalent and non-covalent inhibitors, elucidating advancements in drug development observed in preclinical and clinical trials. By highlighting various chemical classes and their pharmacokinetic profiles, our review aims to guide future research directions toward the development of highly selective inhibitors, underscore the significance of 3CLpro as a validated therapeutic target, and propel the progression of drug candidates through preclinical and clinical phases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coronaviruses Pathogenesis, Immunity, and Antivirals)
18 pages, 1902 KiB  
Article
Target Detection for Coloring and Ripening Potted Dwarf Apple Fruits Based on Improved YOLOv7-RSES
by Haoran Ma, Yanwen Li, Xiaoying Zhang, Yaoyu Li, Zhenqi Li, Runqing Zhang, Qian Zhao and Renjie Hao
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(11), 4523; https://doi.org/10.3390/app14114523 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Dwarf apple is one of the most important forms of garden economy, which has become a new engine for rural revitalization. The effective detection of coloring and ripening apples in complex environments is important for the sustainable development of smart agricultural operations. Addressing [...] Read more.
Dwarf apple is one of the most important forms of garden economy, which has become a new engine for rural revitalization. The effective detection of coloring and ripening apples in complex environments is important for the sustainable development of smart agricultural operations. Addressing the issues of low detection efficiency in the greenhouse and the challenges associated with deploying complex target detection algorithms on low-cost equipment, we propose an enhanced lightweight model rooted in YOLOv7. Firstly, we enhance the model training performance by incorporating the Squeeze-and-Excite attention mechanism, which can enhance feature extraction capability. Then, an SCYLLA-IoU (SIoU) loss function is introduced to improve the ability of extracting occluded objects in complex environments. Finally, the model was simplified by introducing depthwise separable convolution and adding a ghost module after up-sampling layers. The improved YOLOv7 model has the highest AP value, which is 10.00%, 5.61%, and 6.00% higher compared to YOLOv5, YOLOv7, and YOLOX, respectively. The improved YOLOv7 model has an MAP value of 95.65%, which provides higher apple detection accuracy compared to other detection models and is suitable for potted dwarf anvil apple identification and detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Computer Vision in Industry and Agriculture)
19 pages, 910 KiB  
Article
Identification of Gut Microbiome Signatures Associated with Indole Pathway in Tryptophan Metabolism in Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis
by Jih-Kai Huang, Ping-Hsun Wu, Zhao-Feng Chen, Po-Yu Liu, Cheng-Chin Kuo, Yun-Shiuan Chuang, Meng-Zhan Lu, Mei-Chuan Kuo, Yi-Wen Chiu and Yi-Ting Lin
Biomolecules 2024, 14(6), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom14060623 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Microbiota tryptophan metabolism and the biosynthesis of indole derivatives play an important role in homeostasis and pathogenesis in the human body and can be affected by the gut microbiota. However, studies on the interplay between gut microbiota and tryptophan metabolites in patients undergoing [...] Read more.
Microbiota tryptophan metabolism and the biosynthesis of indole derivatives play an important role in homeostasis and pathogenesis in the human body and can be affected by the gut microbiota. However, studies on the interplay between gut microbiota and tryptophan metabolites in patients undergoing dialysis are lacking. This study aimed to identify the gut microbiota, the indole pathway in tryptophan metabolism, and significant functional differences in ESRD patients with regular hemodialysis. We performed the shotgun metagenome sequencing of stool samples from 85 hemodialysis patients. Using the linear discriminant analysis effect size (LEfSe), we examined the composition of the gut microbiota and metabolic features across varying concentrations of tryptophan and indole metabolites. Higher tryptophan levels promoted tyrosine degradation I and pectin degradation I metabolic modules; lower tryptophan levels were associated with glutamate degradation I, fructose degradation, and valine degradation modules. Higher 3-indoxyl sulfate concentrations were characterized by alanine degradation I, anaerobic fatty acid beta-oxidation, sulfate reduction, and acetyl-CoA to crotonyl-CoA. Contrarily, lower 3-indoxyl sulfate levels were related to propionate production III, arabinoxylan degradation, the Entner–Doudoroff pathway, and glutamate degradation II. The present study provides a better understanding of the interaction between tryptophan, indole metabolites, and the gut microbiota as well as their gut metabolic modules in ESRD patients with regular hemodialysis. Full article
19 pages, 7390 KiB  
Article
The Museums of Geology and Paleontology as Geoeducational Learning Environments for Raising Climate Change Awareness
by Christina Kondyli, Maria Psychogiou and Hara Drinia
Sustainability 2024, 16(11), 4481; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16114481 (registering DOI) - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Museums are called to respond to contemporary challenges and contribute to the formation of more progressive societies. One of the major challenges of our time is climate change and sustainability, and museums could construct cocreated narratives around climate and implement targeted actions for [...] Read more.
Museums are called to respond to contemporary challenges and contribute to the formation of more progressive societies. One of the major challenges of our time is climate change and sustainability, and museums could construct cocreated narratives around climate and implement targeted actions for the audiences through their sensorial and affective experiences. More specifically, Geology and Paleontology museums are repositories of knowledge on geoheritage and geoconservation, recognized for their scientific, pedagogical, cultural, and recreational values. The educational potential of geological and paleontological exhibits could be used in informal education activities regarding the climate emergency and the need for sustainability. Taking the above into consideration, this study focuses on both the creation and the evaluation of an educational program for the Natural History Museum of Arsakeio Campus in Psychicko. According to our findings, students really enjoyed their experience in the Museum, gained knowledge regarding mass extinctions driven by climate change, and suggested ways to tackle the current problems and promote our planet’s sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Education and Sustainability Learning)
24 pages, 17348 KiB  
Article
Can We Rely on Prophylactic Two-Level Vertebral Cement Augmentation in Long-Segment Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery to Reduce the Incidence of Proximal Junctional Complications?
by Yoichi Tani, Nobuhiro Naka, Naoto Ono, Koki Kawashima, Masaaki Paku, Masayuki Ishihara, Takashi Adachi, Muneharu Ando, Shinichirou Taniguchi and Takanori Saito
Medicina 2024, 60(6), 860; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina60060860 - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Background and Objectives: Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and failure (PJF), the most prevalent complications following long-segment thoracolumbar fusions for adult spinal deformity (ASD), remain lacking in defined preventive measures. We studied whether one of the previously reported strategies with successful results—a prophylactic [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and failure (PJF), the most prevalent complications following long-segment thoracolumbar fusions for adult spinal deformity (ASD), remain lacking in defined preventive measures. We studied whether one of the previously reported strategies with successful results—a prophylactic augmentation of the uppermost instrumented vertebra (UIV) and supra-adjacent vertebra to the UIV (UIV + 1) with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)—could also serve as a preventive measure of PJK/PJF in minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Materials and Methods: The study included 29 ASD patients who underwent a combination of minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-LLIF) at L1-2 through L4-5, all-pedicle-screw instrumentation from the lower thoracic spine to the sacrum, S2-alar-iliac fixation, and two-level balloon-assisted PMMA vertebroplasty at the UIV and UIV + 1. Results: With a minimum 3-year follow-up, non-PJK/PJF group accounted for fifteen patients (52%), PJK for eight patients (28%), and PJF requiring surgical revision for six patients (21%). We had a total of seven patients with proximal junctional fracture, even though no patients showed implant/bone interface failure with screw pullout, probably through the effect of PMMA. In contrast to the PJK cohort, six PJF patients all had varying degrees of neurologic deficits from modified Frankel grade C to D3, which recovered to grades D3 and to grade D2 in three patients each, after a revision operation of proximal extension of instrumented fusion with or without neural decompression. None of the possible demographic and radiologic risk factors showed statistical differences between the non-PJK/PJF, PJK, and PJF groups. Conclusions: Compared with the traditional open surgical approach used in the previous studies with a positive result for the prophylactic two-level cement augmentation, the MIS procedures with substantial benefits to patients in terms of less access-related morbidity and less blood loss also provide a greater segmental stability, which, however, may have a negative effect on the development of PJK/PJF. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Orthopedics)
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15 pages, 3687 KiB  
Systematic Review
A Systematic Literature Review on Inflammatory Markers in the Saliva of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Cause or a Consequence of Periodontal Diseases
by Vasile Calin Arcas, Ioan Andrei Tig, Doru Florian Cornel Moga, Alexandra Lavinia Vlad, Corina Roman-Filip and Anca Maria Fratila
Medicina 2024, 60(6), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina60060859 - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Background and Objectives: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease often linked with systemic conditions such as periodontal diseases (PDs). This systematic review aims to explore the association between inflammatory markers in saliva and PDs in MS patients, assessing the use [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease often linked with systemic conditions such as periodontal diseases (PDs). This systematic review aims to explore the association between inflammatory markers in saliva and PDs in MS patients, assessing the use of saliva as a non-invasive tool to monitor disease progression. Materials and Methods: 82 publications were examined after a thorough search of scholarly databases to determine whether inflammatory markers were present in MS patients and whether they were associated with periodontal disease (PD). Quality and bias were assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale, resulting in eight articles that were thoroughly analyzed. Results: The results point to a strong correlation between MS and periodontal disorders, which may point to the same pathophysiological mechanism. It does, however, underscore the necessity of additional study to determine a definitive causal association. Conclusions: The findings indicate a strong association between MS and PDs, likely mediated by systemic inflammatory responses detectable in saliva. The review highlights the importance of oral health in managing MS and supports the utility of saliva as a practical, non-invasive medium for monitoring systemic inflammation. Further research is necessary to confirm the causal relationships and to consider integrating salivary diagnostics into routine clinical management for MS patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boundaries between Oral and General Health)
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17 pages, 3855 KiB  
Article
A Novel Movable Mannequin Platform for Evaluating and Optimising mmWave Radar Sensor for Indoor Crowd Evacuation Monitoring Applications
by Qing Nian Chan, Dongli Gao, Yu Zhou, Sensen Xing, Guanxiong Zhai, Cheng Wang, Wei Wang, Shen Hin Lim, Eric Wai Ming Lee and Guan Heng Yeoh
Fire 2024, 7(6), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7060181 - 24 May 2024
Abstract
Developing mmWave radar sensors for indoor crowd motion sensing and tracking faces a critical challenge: the scarcity of large-scale, high-quality training data. Traditional human experiments encounter logistical complexities, ethical considerations, and safety issues. Replicating precise human movements across trials introduces noise and inconsistency [...] Read more.
Developing mmWave radar sensors for indoor crowd motion sensing and tracking faces a critical challenge: the scarcity of large-scale, high-quality training data. Traditional human experiments encounter logistical complexities, ethical considerations, and safety issues. Replicating precise human movements across trials introduces noise and inconsistency into the data. To address this, this study proposes a novel solution: a movable platform equipped with a life-size mannequin to generate realistic and diverse data points for mmWave radar training and testing. Unlike human subjects, the platform allows precise control over movements, optimising sensor placement relative to the target object. Preliminary optimisation results reveal that sensor height impacts tracking performance, with an optimal sensor placement above the test subject yields the best results. The results also reveal that the 3D data format outperforms 2D data in accuracy despite having fewer frames. Additionally, analysing height distribution using 3D data highlights the importance of the sensor angle—15° downwards from the horizontal plane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ensuring Safety against Fires in Overcrowded Urban Areas)

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