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Open AccessArticle
De Sitter Solutions in Einstein–Gauss–Bonnet Gravity
by and
Universe 2021, 7(5), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7050149 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
De Sitter solutions play an important role in cosmology because the knowledge of unstable de Sitter solutions can be useful to describe inflation, whereas stable de Sitter solutions are often used in models of late-time acceleration of the Universe. The Einstein–Gauss–Bonnet gravity cosmological [...] Read more.
De Sitter solutions play an important role in cosmology because the knowledge of unstable de Sitter solutions can be useful to describe inflation, whereas stable de Sitter solutions are often used in models of late-time acceleration of the Universe. The Einstein–Gauss–Bonnet gravity cosmological models are actively used both as inflationary models and as dark energy models. To modify the Einstein equations one can add a nonlinear function of the Gauss–Bonnet term or a function of the scalar field multiplied on the Gauss–Bonnet term. The effective potential method essentially simplifies the search and stability analysis of de Sitter solutions, because the stable de Sitter solutions correspond to minima of the effective potential. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Mechanisms of IDH1 Regulation through Site-Specific Acetylation Mimics
by , , , , and
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 740; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050740 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1) catalyzes the reversible NADP+-dependent oxidation of isocitrate to α-ketoglutarate (αKG). IDH1 mutations, primarily R132H, drive > 80% of low-grade gliomas and secondary glioblastomas and facilitate the NADPH-dependent reduction of αKG to the oncometabolite D-2-hydroxyglutarate (D2HG). While the biochemical [...] Read more.
Isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1) catalyzes the reversible NADP+-dependent oxidation of isocitrate to α-ketoglutarate (αKG). IDH1 mutations, primarily R132H, drive > 80% of low-grade gliomas and secondary glioblastomas and facilitate the NADPH-dependent reduction of αKG to the oncometabolite D-2-hydroxyglutarate (D2HG). While the biochemical features of human WT and mutant IDH1 catalysis have been well-established, considerably less is known about mechanisms of regulation. Proteomics studies have identified lysine acetylation in WT IDH1, indicating post-translational regulation. Here, we generated lysine to glutamine acetylation mimic mutants in IDH1 to evaluate the effects on activity. We show that mimicking lysine acetylation decreased the catalytic efficiency of WT IDH1, with less severe catalytic consequences for R132H IDH1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Synthesis of Induction Brazing System Control Based on Artificial Intelligence
by , and
Electronics 2021, 10(10), 1190; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10101190 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
This paper considers the synthesis of control of an electro-technological system for induction brazing and its relationship with the guarantee of the parameters and the quality of this industrial process. Based on a created and verified 3D model of the electromagnetic system, the [...] Read more.
This paper considers the synthesis of control of an electro-technological system for induction brazing and its relationship with the guarantee of the parameters and the quality of this industrial process. Based on a created and verified 3D model of the electromagnetic system, the requirements to the system of power electronic converters for obtaining brazing between different common combinations of materials are determined. After processing and summarizing the results, an approach for automatic recognition of the type of material to be brazed is proposed and researched, as well as switching between different controller settings in order to achieve optimal performance and ease the operator. The advantages of using such an approach based on the use of artificial intelligence techniques are considered, including guidelines for its application and development in industrial systems with induction heating. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Life Cycle Assessment of Biomass Production from Lignocellulosic Perennial Grasses under Changing Soil Nitrogen and Water Content in the Mediterranean Area
by , , , and
Agronomy 2021, 11(5), 988; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11050988 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Low iLUC risk feedstocks, such as lignocellulosic no-food crops, have been indicated as sustainable crops for the transition to a bio-based economy. Given the high output to input ratio and the environmental benefits that can be obtained from renewable heat production replacing fossil [...] Read more.
Low iLUC risk feedstocks, such as lignocellulosic no-food crops, have been indicated as sustainable crops for the transition to a bio-based economy. Given the high output to input ratio and the environmental benefits that can be obtained from renewable heat production replacing fossil fuels, the present study addressed the biomass yield, CO2-sequestration, and life cycle assessment of giant reed (Arundo donax L.) and miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus Greef et Deuter) growing under different soil water availability and nitrogen fertilization for three consecutive growing seasons in a semiarid Mediterranean environment. Giant reed outperformed miscanthus, showed a higher CO2-sequestration and a lower overall environmental impact. In case of both crops, the irrigation effect was significant, while the one of nitrogen fertilization was not apparent. While giant reed responded positively to reduced irrigation, compared to its highest level, as the plantation became older, miscanthus needed high water volume to get most out its potential yield. Nonetheless, the growing season had also a significant effect on both crops, mainly when low yields were achieved following the establishment year. Unlike the environmental benefits in the impact categories “non-renewable energy use” and “global warming potential”, environmental burdens concerning ozone depletion, acidification, and eutrophication were observed, indicating that further improvements of the evaluation of impact assessment associated with bioenergy production might be necessary. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Intelligent Control System to Irrigate Orchids Based on Visual Recognition and 3D Positioning
by , and
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(10), 4531; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11104531 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
This work develops a novel automatic irrigation system to implement the customized and accurate watering for an individual seedling. The system integrates the modules of visual recognition of the stem-leaf junction, identification of the stem-root junction as the watering point, and control of [...] Read more.
This work develops a novel automatic irrigation system to implement the customized and accurate watering for an individual seedling. The system integrates the modules of visual recognition of the stem-leaf junction, identification of the stem-root junction as the watering point, and control of the spraying nozzle. The model of YOLOv3 is employed to screen the stem-leave junction of an orchid seedling, whose depth map then acquired by the method of Semi-Global Block Matching (SGBM) extracts the three-dimensional (3D) coordinates of the junction center. Next, the concept of leaf vector is introduced to identify the stem-root junction of the orchid seedling as the accurate watering point, which the spraying nozzle is controlled to reach for supplement of the specific amount of water. A number of experiments were conducted to verify the proposed irrigation system for orchid seedlings at different locations with various heights. The experimental results show that the rates of successful watering are 82% and 83.3% for the uni-pot and multi-pot orchid seedlings, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Computing and Artificial Intelligence)
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Open AccessCommunication
Muscat Flavor in Grapevine: A Digital PCR Assay to Track Allelic Variation in VvDXS Gene
by , , , and
Genes 2021, 12(5), 747; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12050747 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
The aroma of grapes and derived wines has long been one of the major traits considered in the selection of grapevine varieties through the centuries. In particular, Muscat aromatic grapes have been highly appreciated and widespread since ancient times. Monoterpenes are the key [...] Read more.
The aroma of grapes and derived wines has long been one of the major traits considered in the selection of grapevine varieties through the centuries. In particular, Muscat aromatic grapes have been highly appreciated and widespread since ancient times. Monoterpenes are the key compounds responsible for the Muscat flavor. A major QTL affecting monoterpene level has been found to co-localize with the 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (VvDXS) gene, encoding for the 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase enzyme involved in the plastidial pathway of terpene biosynthesis. In more detail, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP 1822) in the coding region of the gene causes a “gain of function” mutation, which is involved in Muscat flavor. In this work, we have developed a digital PCR-based assay to target allelic variations in the VvDXS gene, SNP1822, with the aim to propose a fast and sensitive analytical tool for targeting Muscat-flavored grapevine genotypes. The assay accurately predicts the genetic structure at 1822 SNP, critical for the development of the aroma in the great majority of Muscats. In the case of grapes in which the aromatic component is due to mutations other than SNP 1822 (e.g., Chasselas Musqué and Chardonnay Muscat), further specific assays can be developed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Nutritional Adequacy and Diet Quality Are Associated with Standardized Height-for-Age among U.S. Children
by , , , , , and
Nutrients 2021, 13(5), 1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051689 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Nutritional status affects linear growth and development. However, studies on the associations between nutritional status, diet quality, and age-standardized height in children are limited. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between macro- and micronutrient intake and food consumption and [...] Read more.
Nutritional status affects linear growth and development. However, studies on the associations between nutritional status, diet quality, and age-standardized height in children are limited. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between macro- and micronutrient intake and food consumption and height-for-age Z score (HAZ) among US children in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This cross-sectional population-based study included 6116 US children aged 2–18 years. The usual dietary intake of nutrients and food groups was estimated by the multiple source method (MSM) using two-day food consumption data from NHANES 2007–2014. After adjusting for covariates, HAZ was positively associated with intakes of energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins A, D, E, B6, and B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and iron. Children in the highest tertile of HAZ were less likely to consume lower than the EAR for vitamin E and calcium. Major foods consumed by children with lower HAZ were soft drinks, high-fat milk products, cakes, cookies, pastries, and pies, whereas children with higher HAZ tended to consume low-fat milk products, tea, and low-calorie fruit juice. These findings suggest that adequate nutritional intake, diet quality, and nutrient-dense food are important factors for height in children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Nutritional Epidemiology)
Open AccessArticle
A Numerical and Experimental Study on an Interconnected Metamaterial for Flexural Vibration Control Based on Modal Strain Energy
by , and
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(10), 4530; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11104530 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
In this study, an interconnected metamaterial was proposed to suppress flexural vibration. The interconnected metamaterial can improve the manufacturing and installation processes in terms of convenience because it can be fabricated in the form of a modular multi-celled structure with a single-phase material. [...] Read more.
In this study, an interconnected metamaterial was proposed to suppress flexural vibration. The interconnected metamaterial can improve the manufacturing and installation processes in terms of convenience because it can be fabricated in the form of a modular multi-celled structure with a single-phase material. To evaluate the vibration reduction performance of the metamaterial, stopband analysis was performed, as it solves an iterative eigenvalue problem for the wave vector domain. In order to identify the Bloch mode that contributes to flexural vibration, a concept to extract the Bloch mode based on the modal strain energy was proposed. The vibration-reduction performance of the interconnected metamaterial was numerically verified by using a frequency-response analysis of the multi-celled structure. The interconnected metamaterial proposed in this study was fabricated by using a 3D printer. Finally, the vibration-reduction performance of the multi-celled structure was experimentally verified by using impact testing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vibration and Sound Control by Acoustic Meta Structures)
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Open AccessArticle
A Time-Varying Gerber Statistic: Application of a Novel Correlation Metric to Commodity Price Co-Movements
by , and
Forecasting 2021, 3(2), 339-354; https://doi.org/10.3390/forecast3020022 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
This study investigates the daily co-movements in commodity prices over the period 2006–2020 using a novel approach based on a time-varying Gerber correlation. The statistic is computed considering a set of probabilities estimated via non-traditional models that give a time-varying structure to the [...] Read more.
This study investigates the daily co-movements in commodity prices over the period 2006–2020 using a novel approach based on a time-varying Gerber correlation. The statistic is computed considering a set of probabilities estimated via non-traditional models that give a time-varying structure to the measure. The results indicate that there are several co-movements across commodities, that these co-movements change over time, and that they are tendentially positive. Conditional auto-regressive multithreshold logit models show higher forecasting accuracy for agricultural returns, while dynamic conditional correlation models are more accurate for energy products and metals. The proposed models are shown to be superior in terms of forecasting power to the benchmark method which is based on estimating the Gerber correlation moving a rolling window. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forecasting Commodity Markets)
Open AccessReview
Subpopulations of High-Density Lipoprotein: Friends or Foes in Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Chronic Kidney Disease?
by , , , , , , , , and
Biomedicines 2021, 9(5), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9050554 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Dyslipidemia is a major traditional risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, although the altered lipid profile does not explain the number and severity of CVD events. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a heterogeneous (size, composition, and functionality) population [...] Read more.
Dyslipidemia is a major traditional risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, although the altered lipid profile does not explain the number and severity of CVD events. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a heterogeneous (size, composition, and functionality) population of particles with different atherogenic or atheroprotective properties. HDL-cholesterol concentrations per se may not entirely reflect a beneficial or a risk profile for CVD. Large HDL in CKD patients may have a unique proteome and lipid composition, impairing their cholesterol efflux capacity. This lack of HDL functionality may contribute to the paradoxical coexistence of increased large HDL and enhanced risk for CVD events. Moreover, CKD is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, diabetes, and/or hypertension that are able to interfere with the anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and antithrombotic properties of HDL subpopulations. How these changes interfere with HDL functions in CKD is still poorly understood. Further studies are warranted to fully clarify if different HDL subpopulations present different functionalities and/or atheroprotective effects. To achieve this goal, the standardization of techniques would be valuable. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cooperatives in the Wine Industry: Sustainable Management Practices and Digitalisation
by and
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5543; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105543 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
In Europe, cooperatives have a long tradition and are widespread in the agricultural sector. Cooperatives in the wine sector of some EU countries even surpass a market share of more than 50%. In Germany, the first wine cooperative was established in 1868 in [...] Read more.
In Europe, cooperatives have a long tradition and are widespread in the agricultural sector. Cooperatives in the wine sector of some EU countries even surpass a market share of more than 50%. In Germany, the first wine cooperative was established in 1868 in the Ahr region. Despite the decline in the number of cooperatives, of members and of the vineyard area cultivated by cooperatives, wine cooperatives are still accountable for roughly a quarter of the German vineyard area. Due to developments in the field of sustainability and digitalisation, cooperatives are facing increasing pressure. Based on the definition of cooperatives by the International Co-operative Alliance, one can conclude that cooperatives are a sustainable form of enterprise. A previous study from 2019 showed that sustainability and digitalisation were not mentioned by cooperative management as important topics in the competitive analysis. Also, sustainable management practices have not been analysed explicitly for wine cooperatives so far. We therefore consider sustainability and digitalisation in the context of the strategic management of wine cooperatives. Our article does not aim to show further development in the areas of sustainability and digitalisation but rather to unveil existing managerial practices in order to provide a basis for management decisions. As only limited knowledge exists, a qualitative approach was chosen. Interviews were conducted with the management of wine cooperatives (n = 13) and representatives of the regional and national cooperative associations, which in turn represent the wine cooperatives as a whole (n = 4). A data content analysis was performed. The results describe state of the art of sustainable management practices and digitalisation in wine cooperatives. Even if the understanding of sustainability and digitalisation is quite similar among the respondents, the operationalisation in the cooperatives differs strongly. However, it is clear that innovation, adaptability and sustainability are strongly interlinked. Options for future research and the limitations of the study are provided as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Farm and Food Business Models under Digitalisation)
Open AccessReview
The Potential Effects of Phytoestrogens: The Role in Neuroprotection
by , and
Molecules 2021, 26(10), 2954; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26102954 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring non-steroidal phenolic plant compounds. Their structure is similar to 17-β-estradiol, the main female sex hormone. This review offers a concise summary of the current literature on several potential health benefits of phytoestrogens, mainly their neuroprotective effect. Phytoestrogens lower the [...] Read more.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring non-steroidal phenolic plant compounds. Their structure is similar to 17-β-estradiol, the main female sex hormone. This review offers a concise summary of the current literature on several potential health benefits of phytoestrogens, mainly their neuroprotective effect. Phytoestrogens lower the risk of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis, as well as cardiovascular disease. They also reduce the risk of brain disease. The effects of phytoestrogens and their derivatives on cancer are mainly due to the inhibition of estrogen synthesis and metabolism, leading to antiangiogenic, antimetastatic, and epigenetic effects. The brain controls the secretion of estrogen (hypothalamus-pituitary-gonads axis). However, it has not been unequivocally established whether estrogen therapy has a neuroprotective effect on brain function. The neuroprotective effects of phytoestrogens seem to be related to both their antioxidant properties and interaction with the estrogen receptor. The possible effects of phytoestrogens on the thyroid cause some concern; nevertheless, generally, no serious side effects have been reported, and these compounds can be recommended as health-promoting food components or supplements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Chemical Biology)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of an Antimicrobial Stewardship Program on the Incidence of Carbapenem Resistant Gram-Negative Bacilli: An Interrupted Time-Series Analysis
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and
Antibiotics 2021, 10(5), 586; https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10050586 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacilli (CR-GNB) are a critical public health threat, and carbapenem use contributes to their spread. Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) have proven successful in reducing antimicrobial use. However, evidence on the impact of carbapenem resistance remains unclear. We evaluated the impact of [...] Read more.
Carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacilli (CR-GNB) are a critical public health threat, and carbapenem use contributes to their spread. Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) have proven successful in reducing antimicrobial use. However, evidence on the impact of carbapenem resistance remains unclear. We evaluated the impact of a multifaceted ASP on carbapenem use and incidence of CR-GNB in a high-endemic hospital. An interrupted time-series analysis was conducted one year before and two years after starting the ASP to assess carbapenem consumption, CR-GNB incidence, death rates of sentinel events, and other variables potentially related to CR-GNB incidence. An intense reduction in carbapenem consumption occurred after starting the intervention and was sustained two years later (relative effect −83.51%; 95% CI −87.23 to −79.79). The incidence density of CR-GNB decreased by −0.915 cases per 1000 occupied bed days (95% CI −1.743 to −0.087). This effect was especially marked in CR-Klebsiella pneumoniae and CR-Escherichia coli, reversing the pre-intervention upward trend and leading to a relative reduction of −91.15% (95% CI −105.53 to −76.76) and −89.93% (95% CI −107.03 to −72.83), respectively, two years after starting the program. Death rates did not change. This ASP contributed to decreasing CR-GNB incidence through a sustained reduction in antibiotic use without increasing mortality rates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Antibiotics Use and Antimicrobial Stewardship)
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Open AccessArticle
Fetal and Perinatal Outcome Following First and Second Trimester COVID-19 Infection: Evidence from a Prospective Cohort Study
by , , , , , , , and
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(10), 2152; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10102152 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
A novel coronavirus termed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of coronavirus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease, which emerged as a global pandemic. Data regarding the implications of COVID-19 disease at early gestation on fetal and obstetric [...] Read more.
A novel coronavirus termed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of coronavirus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease, which emerged as a global pandemic. Data regarding the implications of COVID-19 disease at early gestation on fetal and obstetric outcomes is scarce. Thus, our aim was to investigate the effect of first and second trimester maternal COVID-19 disease on fetal and perinatal outcomes. This was a prospective cohort study of pregnant women with a laboratory-proven SARS-COV-2 infection contracted prior to 26 weeks gestation. Women were followed at a single tertiary medical center by serial sonographic examinations every 4–6 weeks to assess fetal well-being, growth, placental function, anatomic evaluation and signs of fetal infection. Amniocentesis was offered to assess amniotic fluid SARS-COV-2-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and fetal brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was offered at 30–32 weeks gestation. Demographic, obstetric and neonatal data were collected from history intake, medical charts or by telephone survey. Perinatal outcomes were compared between women infected at first vs. second trimester. 55 women with documented COVID-19 disease at early gestation were included and followed at our center. The mean maternal age was 29.6 ± 6.2 years and the mean gestational age at viral infection was 14.2 ± 6.7 weeks with 28 (51%) women infected at the first trimester and 27 (49%) at the second trimester. All patients but one experienced asymptomatic to mild symptoms. Of 22 patients who underwent amniocentesis, none had evidence of vertical transmission. None of the fetuses exhibited signs of central nervous system (CNS) disease, growth restriction and placental dysfunction on serial ultrasound examinations and fetal MRI. Pregnancies resulted in perinatal survival of 100% to date with mean gestational age at delivery of 38.6 ± 3.0 weeks and preterm birth <37 weeks rate of 3.4%. The mean birthweight was 3260 ± 411 g with no cases of small for gestational age infants. The obstetric and neonatal outcomes were similar among first vs. second trimester infection groups. We conclude SARS-CoV-2 infection at early gestation was not associated with vertical transmission and resulted in favorable obstetric and neonatal outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Pregnancy)
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Open AccessArticle
Do Autism Spectrum and Autoimmune Disorders Share Predisposition Gene Signature Due to mTOR Signaling Pathway Controlling Expression?
by , , , and
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(10), 5248; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22105248 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by uncommon genetic heterogeneity and a high heritability concurrently. Most autoimmune disorders (AID), similarly to ASD, are characterized by impressive genetic heterogeneity and heritability. We conducted gene-set analyses and revealed that 584 out of 992 genes (59%) [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by uncommon genetic heterogeneity and a high heritability concurrently. Most autoimmune disorders (AID), similarly to ASD, are characterized by impressive genetic heterogeneity and heritability. We conducted gene-set analyses and revealed that 584 out of 992 genes (59%) included in a new release of the SFARI Gene database and 439 out of 871 AID-associated genes (50%) could be attributed to one of four groups: 1. FMRP (fragile X mental retardation protein) target genes, 2. mTOR signaling network genes, 3. mTOR-modulated genes, and 4. vitamin D3-sensitive genes. With the exception of FMRP targets, which are obviously associated with the direct involvement of local translation disturbance in the pathological mechanisms of ASD, the remaining categories are represented among AID genes in a very similar percentage as among ASD predisposition genes. Thus, mTOR signaling pathway genes make up 4% of ASD and 3% of AID genes, mTOR-modulated genes—31% of both ASD and AID genes, and vitamin D-sensitive genes—20% of ASD and 23% of AID genes. The network analysis revealed 3124 interactions between 528 out of 729 AID genes for the 0.7 cutoff, so the great majority (up to 67%) of AID genes are related to the mTOR signaling pathway directly or indirectly. Our present research and available published data allow us to hypothesize that both a certain part of ASD and AID comprise a connected set of disorders sharing a common aberrant pathway (mTOR signaling) rather than a vast set of different disorders. Furthermore, an immune subtype of the autism spectrum might be a specific type of autoimmune disorder with an early manifestation of a unique set of predominantly behavioral symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue mTOR Signaling Network in Cell Biology and Human Disease)
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Open AccessArticle
Air Pollution Increases the Incidence of Upper Respiratory Tract Symptoms among Polish Children
by , , , , and
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(10), 2150; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10102150 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
A substantial proportion of airway disease’s global burden is attributable to exposure to air pollution. This study aimed to investigate the association between air pollution, assessed as concentrations of particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 on the upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTS) in children. [...] Read more.
A substantial proportion of airway disease’s global burden is attributable to exposure to air pollution. This study aimed to investigate the association between air pollution, assessed as concentrations of particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 on the upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTS) in children. A nation-wide, questionnaire-based study was conducted in Poland in winter 2018/2019 in a population of 1475 children, comparing URTS throughout the study period with publicly available data on airborne particulate matter. A general regression model was used to evaluate the lag effects between daily changes in PM10 and PM2.5 and the number of children reporting URTS and their severity. PM10 and PM2.5 in the single-pollutant models had significant effects on the number of children reporting URTS. The prevalence of URTS: “runny nose”, “sneezing” and “cough” was positively associated with 12-week mean PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations. In the locations with the highest average concentration of PM, the symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing were increased by 10%, 9% and 11%, respectively, compared to the cities with the lowest PM concentrations. This study showed that moderate-term exposure (12 week observation period) to air pollution was associated with an increased risk of URTS among children aged 3–12 years in Poland. These findings may influence public debate and future policy at the national and international levels to improve air quality in cities and improve children’s health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Clinical Studies on the Impact of Air Pollutants on Human Health)
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Open AccessReview
Asbestiform Amphiboles and Cleavage Fragments Analogues: Overview of Critical Dimensions, Aspect Ratios, Exposure and Health Effects
by , and
Minerals 2021, 11(5), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11050525 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
The term asbestos refers to a group of serpentine (chrysotile) and amphibole (amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite) minerals with a fibrous habit. Their chemical-physical properties make them one of the most important inorganic materials for industrial purposes and technological applications. However, the [...] Read more.
The term asbestos refers to a group of serpentine (chrysotile) and amphibole (amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite) minerals with a fibrous habit. Their chemical-physical properties make them one of the most important inorganic materials for industrial purposes and technological applications. However, the extraction, use and marketing of these minerals have been prohibited due to proven harmful effects, mainly involving the respiratory system. In addition to the known six minerals classified as asbestos, the natural amphiboles and serpentine polymorphs antigorite and lizardite, despite having the same composition of asbestos, do not have the same morphology. These minerals develop chemical and geometric (length > 5 μm, width < 3 μm and length: diameter > 3:1), but not morphological, analogies with asbestos, which is regulated by the WHO. The debate about their potential hazardous properties is open and ongoing; therefore, their morphological characterization has a key role in establishing a reliable asbestos hazard scenario. This review focuses on evaluating the most relevant papers, evidencing the need for a reappraisal. Different in vitro, in vivo and epidemiological studies report information about cleavage fragments with critical dimensions similar to asbestos fibres, but very few works target fragments below 5 µm in length. Breathable smaller fibres could have deleterious effects on human health and cannot be disregarded from the risk assessment process. Furthermore, a few studies suggest that the carcinogenic nature of short fibres is not excluded. This review highlights that it is worth investigating the effects of this size range of elongated mineral particles and fibres. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Femtosecond Laser Drilling of Cylindrical Holes for Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) Composites
by , , and
Molecules 2021, 26(10), 2953; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26102953 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Ultrafast laser drilling has been proven to effectively reduce the heat-affected zone (HAZ) of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites. However, previous research mainly focused on the effects of picosecond laser parameters on CFRP drilling. Compared with a picosecond laser, a femtosecond laser can [...] Read more.
Ultrafast laser drilling has been proven to effectively reduce the heat-affected zone (HAZ) of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites. However, previous research mainly focused on the effects of picosecond laser parameters on CFRP drilling. Compared with a picosecond laser, a femtosecond laser can achieve higher quality CFRP drilling due to its smaller pulse width, but there are few studies on the effects of femtosecond laser parameters on CFRP drilling. Moreover, the cross-sectional taper of CFRP produced by laser drilling is very large. This paper introduces the use of the femtosecond laser to drill cylindrical holes in CFRP. The effect of laser power, rotational speed of the laser, and number of spiral passes on HAZ and ablation depth in circular laser drilling and spiral laser drilling mode was studied, respectively. It also analyzed the forming process of the drilling depth in the spiral drilling mode and studied the influence of laser energy and drilling feed depth on the holes’ diameters and the taper. The experimental results show that the cylindrical hole of CFRP with a depth-to-diameter ratio of about 3:1 (taper < 0.32, HAZ < 10 m) was obtained by using femtosecond laser and a spiral drilling apparatus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Lasers and Optoelectronics)
Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Variation in the Tropospheric Nitrogen Dioxide Vertical Column Density over Korea and Japan from the MAX-DOAS Network, 2007–2017
by , , , , and
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(10), 1937; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13101937 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
We investigated long-term observations of the tropospheric nitrogen dioxide vertical column density (NO2 TropVCD) from the Multi-Axis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) network in Russia and ASia (MADRAS) from 2007 to 2017 at urban (Yokosuka and Gwangju) and remote (Fukue and Cape [...] Read more.
We investigated long-term observations of the tropospheric nitrogen dioxide vertical column density (NO2 TropVCD) from the Multi-Axis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) network in Russia and ASia (MADRAS) from 2007 to 2017 at urban (Yokosuka and Gwangju) and remote (Fukue and Cape Hedo) sites in East Asia. The monthly mean in the NO2 TropVCD from MAX-DOAS measured at ~13:30 local time, which is the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) overpass time, shows good agreement with OMI data during summer, but differences between the two datasets increase in winter. The Theil-Sen slope of the long-term trend indicate a relatively rapid and gradual reduction in NO2 at Yokosuka and two remote sites (Fukue and Cape Hedo), respectively, regardless of the season except for fall at Fukue, but significant changes in NO2 are not observed at Gwangju, Korea. In contrast, OMI satellite data reveal an increase in the NO2 TropVCD at all sites except for Yokosuka, where a decreasing trend common to MAX-DOAS is found, suggesting that the results from satellites need to be cautiously used for investigating long-term trends in less polluted or remote areas. Using backward trajectories, potential source regions are identified for the two urban sites. The spatial distribution from OMI data shows good agreement with the potential source regions at Yokosuka. The potential source regions in Gwangju are identified as the National Industrial Complex in Yeosu and Gwangyang, while the transport route is not clearly visible with OMI data because of their low sensitivity in less polluted areas. The proposed approach is suitable for identifying potential source areas that might not be recognized by satellite observations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Atmosphere Remote Sensing)
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Open AccessCommunication
Unusual Stylar-End Breakdown and Sour Rot on Key Lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) in Pre-Harvest Condition in Italy
by , , and
Plants 2021, 10(5), 989; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050989 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Key lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) is an emerging crop in Italy, especially in the Southern regions, where the environmental conditions are suitable for its cultivation. A field survey in Sicily in a commercial orchard of Key lime revealed the widespread presence of [...] Read more.
Key lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) is an emerging crop in Italy, especially in the Southern regions, where the environmental conditions are suitable for its cultivation. A field survey in Sicily in a commercial orchard of Key lime revealed the widespread presence of water-soaked spots and sunken/dry lesions at the stylar-end, mainly in pre-harvest condition. Water-soaked spots were attributed to Geotrichum citri-aurantii, an agent of sour rot on Citrus spp., whereas the sunken/dry lesion was attributed to the physiological disorder known as stylar-end breakdown. Sour rot and stylar-end breakdown are usually considered post-harvest diseases and rarely found in the field on fruit still attached to the tree. Although Geotrichum citri-aurantii is not responsible for the stylar-end breakdown, its association with this alteration reveals the importance of the environmental conditions and the agronomic practices in diseases/disorders development. In addition, to our knowledge, this is the first report of Geotrichum citri-aurantii on Key lime in Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Citrus Fungal and Oomycete Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
Contrast Associated Acute Kidney Injury and Mortality in Older Adults with Acute Coronary Syndrome: A Pooled Analysis of the FRASER and HULK Studies
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(10), 2151; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10102151 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
Whether contrast-associated acute kidney injury (CA-AKI) is only a bystander or a risk factor for mortality in older patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is not well understood. Data from FRASER (NCT02386124) and HULK (NCT03021044) studies have been analysed. All patients enrolled underwent [...] Read more.
Whether contrast-associated acute kidney injury (CA-AKI) is only a bystander or a risk factor for mortality in older patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is not well understood. Data from FRASER (NCT02386124) and HULK (NCT03021044) studies have been analysed. All patients enrolled underwent coronary angiography. The occurrence of CA-AKI was defined based on KDIGO criteria. The primary outcome of the study was to test the relation between CA-AKI and 3-month mortality. Overall, 870 older ACS adults were included in the analysis (mean age 78 ± 5 years; 28% females). CA-AKI occurred in 136 (16%) patients. At 3 months, 13 (9.6%) patients with CA-AKI died as compared with 13 (1.8%) without it (p < 0.001). At multivariable analysis, CA-AKI emerged as independent predictor of 3-month mortality (HR 3.51, 95%CI 1.05–7.01). After 3 months, renal function returned to the baseline value in 78 (63%) with CA-AKI. Those without recovered renal function (n = 45, 37%) showed an increased risk of mortality as compared to recovered renal function and no CA-AKI subgroups (HR 2.01, 95%CI 1.55–2.59, p = 0.009 and HR 2.71, 95%CI 1.45–5.89, p < 0.001, respectively). In conclusion, CA-AKI occurs in a not negligible portion of older MI patients undergoing invasive strategy and it is associated with short-term mortality. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Foreground-Aware Framework for Local Face Attribute Transfer
by , and
Entropy 2021, 23(5), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/e23050615 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
In the context of social media, large amounts of headshot photos are taken everyday. Unfortunately, in addition to laborious editing and modification, creating a visually compelling photographic masterpiece for sharing requires advanced professional skills, which are difficult for ordinary Internet users. Though there [...] Read more.
In the context of social media, large amounts of headshot photos are taken everyday. Unfortunately, in addition to laborious editing and modification, creating a visually compelling photographic masterpiece for sharing requires advanced professional skills, which are difficult for ordinary Internet users. Though there are many algorithms automatically and globally transferring the style from one image to another, they fail to respect the semantics of the scene and are unable to allow users to merely transfer the attributes of one or two face organs in the foreground region leaving the background region unchanged. To overcome this problem, we developed a novel framework for semantically meaningful local face attribute transfer, which can flexibly transfer the local attribute of a face organ from the reference image to a semantically equivalent organ in the input image, while preserving the background. Our method involves warping the reference photo to match the shape, pose, location, and expression of the input image. The fusion of the warped reference image and input image is then taken as the initialized image for a neural style transfer algorithm. Our method achieves better performance in terms of inception score (3.81) and Fréchet inception distance (80.31), which is about 10% higher than those of competitors, indicating that our framework is capable of producing high-quality and photorealistic attribute transfer results. Both theoretical findings and experimental results are provided to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed framework, reveal its superiority over other state-of-the-art alternatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Image Fusion)
Open AccessArticle
Open Dual Cycle with Composition Change and Limited Pressure for Prediction of Miller Engines Performance and Its Turbine Temperature
by , and
Energies 2021, 14(10), 2870; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14102870 (registering DOI) - 16 May 2021
Abstract
An improved thermodynamic open Dual cycle is proposed to simulate the working of internal combustion engines. It covers both spark ignition and Diesel types through a sequential heat release. This study proposes a procedure that includes (i) the composition change caused by internal [...] Read more.
An improved thermodynamic open Dual cycle is proposed to simulate the working of internal combustion engines. It covers both spark ignition and Diesel types through a sequential heat release. This study proposes a procedure that includes (i) the composition change caused by internal combustion, (ii) the temperature excursions, (iii) the combustion efficiency, (iv) heat and pressure losses, and (v) the intake valve timing, following well-established methodologies. The result leads to simple analytical expressions, valid for portable models, optimization studies, engine transformations, and teaching. The proposed simplified model also provides the working gas properties and the amount of trapped mass in the cylinder resulting from the exhaust and intake processes. This allows us to yield explicit equations for cycle work and efficiency, as well as exhaust temperature for turbocharging. The model covers Atkinson and Miller cycles as particular cases and can include irreversibilities in compression, expansion, intake, and exhaust. Results are consistent with the real influence of the fuel-air ratio, overcoming limitations of standard air cycles without the complex calculation of fuel-air cycles. It includes Exhaust Gas Recirculation, EGR, external irreversibilities, and contemporary high-efficiency and low-polluting technologies. Correlations for heat ratio γ are given, including renewable fuels. Full article

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