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Article
Mycotoxins in Tea ((Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze)): Contamination and Dietary Exposure Profiling in the Chinese Population
Toxins 2022, 14(7), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins14070452 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Tea is popular worldwide with multiple health benefits. It may be contaminated by the accidental introduction of toxigenic fungi during production and storage. The present study focuses on potential mycotoxin contamination in tea and the probable dietary exposure assessments associated with consumption. The [...] Read more.
Tea is popular worldwide with multiple health benefits. It may be contaminated by the accidental introduction of toxigenic fungi during production and storage. The present study focuses on potential mycotoxin contamination in tea and the probable dietary exposure assessments associated with consumption. The contamination levels for 16 mycotoxins in 352 Chinese tea samples were determined by ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Average concentrations of almost all mycotoxins in tea samples were below the established regulations, except for ochratoxin A in the dark tea samples. A risk assessment was performed for the worst-case scenarios by point evaluation and Monte Carlo assessment model using the obtained mycotoxin levels and the available green, oolong, black, and dark tea consumption data from cities in China. Additionally, we discuss dietary risk through tea consumption as beverages and dietary supplements. In conclusion, there is no dietary risk of exposure to mycotoxins through tea consumption in the Chinese population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Detection, Control and Contamination of Mycotoxins)
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Article
The HIV Epidemic in South Africa: Key Findings from 2017 National Population-Based Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8125; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138125 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV worldwide. South Africa has implemented five population-based HIV prevalence surveys since 2002 aimed at understanding the dynamics and the trends of the epidemic. This paper presents key findings from the fifth HIV [...] Read more.
South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV worldwide. South Africa has implemented five population-based HIV prevalence surveys since 2002 aimed at understanding the dynamics and the trends of the epidemic. This paper presents key findings from the fifth HIV prevalence, incidence, and behaviour survey conducted in 2017 following policy, programme, and epidemic change since the prior survey was conducted in 2012. A cross-sectional population-based household survey collected behavioural and biomedical data on all members of the eligible households. A total of 39,132 respondents from 11,776 households were eligible to participate, of whom 93.6% agreed to be interviewed, and 61.1% provided blood specimens. The provided blood specimens were used to determine HIV status, HIV incidence, viral load, exposure to antiretroviral treatment, and HIV drug resistance. Overall HIV incidence among persons aged 2 years and above was 0.48% which translates to an estimated 231,000 new infections in 2017. HIV prevalence was 14.0% translating to 7.9 million people living with HIV. Antiretroviral (ARV) exposure was 62.3%, with the lowest exposure among those aged 15 to 24 years (39.9%) with 10% lower ARV coverage among males compared to females. Viral suppression among those on treatment was high (87.3%), whilst HIV population viral load suppression was much lower (62.3%). In terms of risk behaviours, 13.6% of youth reported having had an early sexual debut (first sex before the age of 15 years), with more males reporting having done so (19.5%) than females (7.6%). Age-disparate relationships, defined as having a sexual partner 5+ years different from oneself,) among adolescents were more common among females (35.8%) than males (1.5%). Self-reported multiple sexual partnerships (MSPs), defined as having more than one sexual partner in the previous 12 months, were more commonly reported by males (25.5%) than females (9.0%). Condom use at last sexual encounter was highest among males than females. Three quarters (75.2%) of people reported they had ever been tested for HIV, with more females (79.3%) having had done so than males (70.9%). Two-thirds of respondents (66.8%) self-reported having tested for HIV in the past 12 months. Finally, 61.6% of males in the survey self-reported as having been circumcised, with circumcision being more common among youth aged 15–24 years (70.2%), Black Africans (68.9%), and those living in both rural informal (tribal) areas (65%) and urban areas (61.9%). Slightly more (51.2%) male circumcisions were reported to have occurred in a medical setting than in traditional settings (44.8%), with more young males aged 15–24 (62.6%) and men aged 25–49 (51.5%) reporting to have done so compared to most men aged 50 and older (57.1%) who reported that they had undergone circumcision in a traditional setting. The results of this survey show that strides have been made in controlling the HIV epidemic, especially in the reduction of HIV incidence, HIV testing, and treatment. Although condom use at last sex act remains unchanged, there continue to be some challenges with the lack of significant behaviour change as people, especially youth, continue to engage in risky behaviour and delay treatment initiation. Therefore, there is a need to develop or scale up targeted intervention programmes to increase HIV testing further and put more people living with HIV on treatment as well as prevent risky behaviours that put young people at risk of HIV infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue HIV Prevalence and Associated Factors)
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Article
An In-Depth Examination of the Natural Radiation and Radioactive Dangers Associated with Regularly Used Medicinal Herbs
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8124; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138124 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The specific activity of U-238 and Th-232, as well as K-40 radionuclides, in twenty-nine investigated medicinal herbs used in Egypt has been measured using a high-purity germanium (HP Ge) detector. The measured values ranged from the BDL to 20.71 ± 1.52 with a [...] Read more.
The specific activity of U-238 and Th-232, as well as K-40 radionuclides, in twenty-nine investigated medicinal herbs used in Egypt has been measured using a high-purity germanium (HP Ge) detector. The measured values ranged from the BDL to 20.71 ± 1.52 with a mean of 7.25 ± 0.54 (Bq kg−1) for uranium-238, from the BDL to 29.35 ± 1.33 with a mean of 7.78 ± 0.633 (Bq kg−1) for thorium-232, and from 172 ± 5.85 to 1181.2 ± 25.5 with a mean of 471.4 ± 11.33 (Bq kg−1) for potassium-40. Individual herbs with the highest activity levels were found to be 20.71 ± 1.52 (Bq kg−1) for uranium-238 (H4, Thyme herb), 29.35 ± 1.33 (Bq kg−1) for thorium-232 (H20, Cinnamon), and 1181.2 ± 25.5 (Bq kg−1) for potassium-40 (H24, Worm-wood). (AACED) Ingestion-related effective doses over the course of a year of uranium-238 and thorium-232, as well as potassium-40 estimated from measured activity concentrations, are 0.002304 ± 0.00009 (minimum), 0.50869 ± 0.0002 (maximum), and 0.0373 ± 0.0004 (average)(mSv/yr). Radium equivalent activity (Raeq), annual gonadal dose equivalent (AGDE), absorbed gamma dose rate (Doutdoor, Dindoor), gamma representative level index (I), annual effective dose (AEDtotal), external and internal hazard index (Hex, Hin), and excess lifetime cancer risk were determined in medicinal plants (ELCR). The radiological hazards assessment revealed that the investigated plant species have natural radioactivity levels that are well within the internationally recommended limit. This is the first time that the natural radioactivity of therapeutic plants has been measured in Egypt. In addition, no artificial radionuclide (for example, 137Cs) was discovered in any of the samples. Therefore, the current findings are intended to serve as the foundation for establishing a standard safety and guideline for using these therapeutic plants in Egypt. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of the Technological Properties of Soil–Cement Bricks with Incorporation of Coconut Fiber Powder
Eng 2022, 3(3), 311-324; https://doi.org/10.3390/eng3030023 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The objective of this work was to evaluate the effect of partial replacement of soil by different percentages of coconut fiber powder in the manufacture of soil–cement bricks. The reference mix ratio of 10:1 (soil:cement) in volume was used for the manufacture of [...] Read more.
The objective of this work was to evaluate the effect of partial replacement of soil by different percentages of coconut fiber powder in the manufacture of soil–cement bricks. The reference mix ratio of 10:1 (soil:cement) in volume was used for the manufacture of bricks, in addition to the partial replacement of soil mass by 5, 10, and 15% of coconut fiber. The characterization of the raw materials was performed with the analysis of the granulometry, together with technological tests, such as mechanical compressive strength and water absorption. As a result, it was observed that the soil has 34.30% clay and 62.80% sand, characterizing a sandy-clay soil type and the coconut fiber powder was characterized as a fine aggregate. The mechanical compressive strength tests showed a decrease in their average values according to the increase in the incorporation of coconut fiber into the bricks. It was concluded that the results of the mechanical compressive strength and some of the water absorption are in disagreement with the Brazilian technical standard. This conclusion corroborates other studies that show the difficulty in standardizing reference mixtures and working with soil, which is a highly heterogeneous material. Full article
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Article
Design of a Single-Stage Transformerless Buck–Boost Inverter for Electric Vehicle Chargers
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(13), 6705; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12136705 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
This paper details the design and implementation of a single-stage transformerless buck–boost inverter for electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Being different from conventional H-bridge inverters, the proposed inverter operates like buck–boost dc/dc converters instead of buck dc/dc converters. As a consequence, the advantages of [...] Read more.
This paper details the design and implementation of a single-stage transformerless buck–boost inverter for electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Being different from conventional H-bridge inverters, the proposed inverter operates like buck–boost dc/dc converters instead of buck dc/dc converters. As a consequence, the advantages of a buck–boost dc/dc converter, i.e., the arbitrary relationships between its input voltage and output voltage, are still applicable to the proposed inverter. Specifically, it remains in normal operation even when the peak ac output voltage is higher than the dc-link voltage. Simulation results are finally presented to illustrate its effectiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Developments in Electric Vehicles)
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Article
Alterations of Phenylpropanoid Biosynthesis Lead to the Natural Formation of Pinkish-Skinned and White-Fleshed Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7375; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137375 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Anthocyanin content is important for both the external and internal fruit quality of cultivated strawberries, but the mechanism of its accumulation in pinkish-skinned and white-fleshed strawberries is puzzling. Here, we found that the factor determining variation in the flesh color was not the [...] Read more.
Anthocyanin content is important for both the external and internal fruit quality of cultivated strawberries, but the mechanism of its accumulation in pinkish-skinned and white-fleshed strawberries is puzzling. Here, we found that the factor determining variation in the flesh color was not the FaMYB10 but the FaC4H in the cultivated strawberry Benihoppe and its white-fleshed mutant Xiaobai. Compared with Benihoppe, there was no significant difference in the coding sequence and expression level of FaMYB10 in Xiaobai’s flesh. Instead, the transcription of FaC4H was dramatically inhibited. The combined analyses of transcriptomics and metabolomics showed that the differential genes and metabolites were significantly enriched in the phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathway. Furthermore, the transient overexpression of FaC4H greatly restored anthocyanins’ accumulation in Xiaobai’s flesh and did not produce additional pigment species, as in Benihoppe. The transcriptional repression of FaC4H was not directly caused by promoter methylations, lncRNAs, or microRNAs. In addition, the unexpressed FaF3′H, which resulted in the loss of cyanidin 3-O-glucoside in the flesh, was not due to methylation in promoters. Our findings suggested that the repression of FaC4H was responsible for the natural formation of pinkish-skinned and white-fleshed strawberries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Plant Sciences)
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Article
Dynamic Lane Tracking Control of the Commercial Vehicle Based on RMPC Algorithm Considering the State of Preceding Vehicle
Machines 2022, 10(7), 534; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines10070534 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
In order to improve the adaptability of the lane keeping control system to complex environments, a dynamic lane tracking control strategy of the commercial vehicle based on the robust model predictive control (RMPC) algorithm is proposed considering the state of the preceding vehicle. [...] Read more.
In order to improve the adaptability of the lane keeping control system to complex environments, a dynamic lane tracking control strategy of the commercial vehicle based on the robust model predictive control (RMPC) algorithm is proposed considering the state of the preceding vehicle. An RMPC controller is designed with path deviation and control increment as the objective function. The model predictive control problem is transformed into a min–max optimization problem. The linear matrix inequality (LMI) is used for the optimal solution to obtain the optimal control quantity. The strategy to improve the safety and comfort dynamically in the process of lane keeping is designed by adjusting the weight coefficient matrix of RMPC based on fuzzy theory. The results of the simulation and HiL test show that the RMPC controller can meet the requirement of adjusting the lane tracking process dynamically according to the state of the preceding vehicle, which keeps the balance between safety and comfort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Vehicle Engineering)
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Article
Simple Learning-Based Robust Trajectory Tracking Control of a 2-DOF Helicopter System
Electronics 2022, 11(13), 2075; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics11132075 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Stabilization and tracking control of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) such as helicopters in a complex environment with system uncertainties, unknown disturbances, and noise is a challenging task; therefore, to compensate for system uncertainties and unknown disturbances, this paper presents a trajectory tracking control [...] Read more.
Stabilization and tracking control of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) such as helicopters in a complex environment with system uncertainties, unknown disturbances, and noise is a challenging task; therefore, to compensate for system uncertainties and unknown disturbances, this paper presents a trajectory tracking control strategy for a 2-DOF (degree of freedom) helicopter system testbed by employing a gradient descent-based simple learning control law that minimizes the cost function corresponding to desired closed-loop error dynamics of the nonlinear system under control. In addition, to ensure the stability of the closed-loop nonlinear system, further analysis is provided. The learning capability of the designed controller makes it suitable to take system uncertainties and unknown disturbances into account. The results of computer simulations and real-time experiment using the Quanser AERO helicopter are included to demonstrate the effectiveness of the designed control strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Predictive and Learning Control in Engineering Applications)
Article
Parabens Permeation through Biological Membranes: A Comparative Study Using Franz Cell Diffusion System and Biomimetic Liquid Chromatography
Molecules 2022, 27(13), 4263; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27134263 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Parabens (PBs) are used as preservatives to extend the shelf life of various foodstuffs, and pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations. In this work, the membrane barrier passage potential of a subset of seven parabens, i.e., methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- isopropyl, butyl, isobutyl, and benzyl paraben, [...] Read more.
Parabens (PBs) are used as preservatives to extend the shelf life of various foodstuffs, and pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations. In this work, the membrane barrier passage potential of a subset of seven parabens, i.e., methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- isopropyl, butyl, isobutyl, and benzyl paraben, along with their parent compound, p-hydroxy benzoic acid, were studied. Thus, the Franz cell diffusion (FDC) method, biomimetic liquid chromatography (BLC), and in silico prediction were performed to evaluate the soundness of both describing their permeation through the skin. While BLC allowed the achievement of a full scale of affinity for membrane phospholipids of the PBs under research, the permeation of parabens through Franz diffusion cells having a carbon chain > ethyl could not be measured in a fully aqueous medium, i.e., permeation enhancer-free conditions. Our results support that BLC and in silico prediction alone can occasionally be misleading in the permeability potential assessment of these preservatives, emphasizing the need for a multi-technique and integrated experimental approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analytical Aspects in Environmental Pollution Monitoring)
Article
Is Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Wounding Frequency Affected by the Presence Versus Absence of Visitors? A Multi-Institutional Study
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2022, 3(3), 316-327; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg3030025 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Visitor effect studies have had inconsistent results, due in part to the inability to control for all confounding variables such as time of day, seasonal weather patterns, and so forth. This study represents the first instance where chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) wounding [...] Read more.
Visitor effect studies have had inconsistent results, due in part to the inability to control for all confounding variables such as time of day, seasonal weather patterns, and so forth. This study represents the first instance where chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) wounding frequencies were investigated across extensive time periods in the presence and complete absence of visitors, thus eliminating many visitor-related variables. Additional variables were eliminated through the zoo selection process, based on institutional responses to a 29-question survey, providing a novel approach to the question of visitor effects. The aim of this study was to determine if visitors were associated with a change in chimpanzee wound event frequencies across four 51-day time conditions, three of which occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one during the first wave of pandemic-related zoo closures. We analyzed the archival records of 21 chimpanzees housed at three U.S. zoos. Due to the small number of wound events across all study windows, frequencies of “no wound” events were analyzed. A chi-square goodness of fit test was performed to determine whether the frequency of “no wound” events was equal between the “open” and “closed” trials. Results indicate that the frequencies did not differ, suggesting that chimpanzee welfare, as it relates to wounding, may not be adversely affected by zoo visitors. Full article
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Article
Comparative Transcriptome Analysis Reveals the Gene Expression and Regulatory Characteristics of Broad-Spectrum Immunity to Leaf Rust in a Wheat–Agropyron cristatum 2P Addition Line
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7370; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137370 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Wheat leaf rust (caused by Puccinia triticina Erikss.) is among the major diseases of common wheat. The lack of resistance genes to leaf rust has limited the development of wheat cultivars. Wheat–Agropyron cristatum (A. cristatum) 2P addition line II-9-3 has [...] Read more.
Wheat leaf rust (caused by Puccinia triticina Erikss.) is among the major diseases of common wheat. The lack of resistance genes to leaf rust has limited the development of wheat cultivars. Wheat–Agropyron cristatum (A. cristatum) 2P addition line II-9-3 has been shown to provide broad-spectrum immunity to leaf rust. To identify the specific A. cristatum resistance genes and related regulatory pathways in II-9-3, we conducted a comparative transcriptome analysis of inoculated and uninoculated leaves of the resistant addition line II-9-3 and the susceptible cultivar Fukuhokomugi (Fukuho). The results showed that there were 66 A. cristatum differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and 1389 wheat DEGs in II-9-3 during P. triticina infection. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment and gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) revealed that the DEGs of II-9-3 were associated with plant–pathogen interaction, MAPK signaling pathway–plant, plant hormone signal transduction, glutathione metabolism, and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis. Furthermore, many defense-related A. cristatum genes, such as two NLR genes, seven receptor kinase-encoding genes, and four transcription factor-encoding genes, were identified. Our results indicated that the key step of resistance to leaf rust involves, firstly, the gene expression of chromosome 2P upstream of the immune pathway and, secondly, the effect of chromosome 2P on the co-expression of wheat genes in II-9-3. The disease resistance regulatory pathways and related genes in the addition line II-9-3 thus could play a critical role in the effective utilization of innovative resources for leaf rust resistance in wheat breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Recent Advances in Plant Molecular Science in China 2021)
Systematic Review
Axillary Web Syndrome in Breast Cancer Women: What Is the Optimal Rehabilitation Strategy after Surgery? A Systematic Review
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(13), 3839; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11133839 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Background: Axillary web syndrome (AWS) is one of the most prevalent and underrecognized disorders affecting breast cancer (BC) women. However, the optimal therapeutic strategy to manage AWS is far from being fully characterized. Therefore, this systematic review aims to provide a broad overview [...] Read more.
Background: Axillary web syndrome (AWS) is one of the most prevalent and underrecognized disorders affecting breast cancer (BC) women. However, the optimal therapeutic strategy to manage AWS is far from being fully characterized. Therefore, this systematic review aims to provide a broad overview of the available rehabilitation treatments in this burdensome condition. Methods: On 13 January 2022, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane, and PEDro were systematically searched for clinical studies assessing rehabilitation interventions in post-surgical BC women with AWS. The outcomes analyzed were pain, AWS clinical resolution, upper limb function, and health-related quality of life (HR-QoL). Results: The search identified 1115 records, of which 11 studies were included. A total of 174 patients were assessed (ages ranging from 37 and 66 years old). The interventions included manual lymphatic drainage, manual therapy, stretching, resistance training, mobilization techniques, and Kinesio tape. Positive improvements were reported in terms of pain relief (in 7 studies), AWS clinical resolution (in 9 studies), upper limb function (in 10 studies), and HR-QoL (in 2 studies). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that rehabilitation might be considered an effective therapeutic strategy in AWS patients. Further RCTs are needed to characterize the optimal rehabilitative interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Updates and Advances in Breast Cancer)
Review
Scales of Cancer Evolution: Selfish Genome or Cooperating Cells?
Cancers 2022, 14(13), 3253; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14133253 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The exploitation of the evolutionary modus operandi of cancer to steer its progression towards drug sensitive cancer cells is a challenging research topic. Integrating evolutionary principles into cancer therapy requires properly identified selection level, the relevant timescale, and the respective fitness of the [...] Read more.
The exploitation of the evolutionary modus operandi of cancer to steer its progression towards drug sensitive cancer cells is a challenging research topic. Integrating evolutionary principles into cancer therapy requires properly identified selection level, the relevant timescale, and the respective fitness of the principal selection unit on that timescale. Interpretation of some features of cancer progression, such as increased heterogeneity of isogenic cancer cells, is difficult from the most straightforward evolutionary view with the cancer cell as the principal selection unit. In the paper, the relation between the two levels of intratumour heterogeneity, genetic, due to genetic instability, and non-genetic, due to phenotypic plasticity, is reviewed and the evolutionary role of the latter is outlined. In analogy to the evolutionary optimization in a changing environment, the cell state dynamics in cancer clones are interpreted as the risk diversifying strategy bet hedging, optimizing the balance between the exploitation and exploration of the cell state space. Full article
Review
Moisturizer in Patients with Inflammatory Skin Diseases
Medicina 2022, 58(7), 888; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina58070888 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
As interest in skin increases, the cosmetic market is also growing. It is difficult to choose between the numerous types of basic cosmetics on the market. This article aims to provide advice and guidance on which products to recommend according to a patient’s [...] Read more.
As interest in skin increases, the cosmetic market is also growing. It is difficult to choose between the numerous types of basic cosmetics on the market. This article aims to provide advice and guidance on which products to recommend according to a patient’s skin condition. Appropriate application of a moisturizer attempts not only to improve the dryness, but also improve the skin’s natural barrier function to protect the skin from internal and external irritants to keep the skin healthy. Moisturizers consist of various ingredients, including occlusive agents, emollients, humectants, lipid mixture, emulsifiers, and preservatives. Pathophysiology of dry skin is also discussed to provide readers with the background they need to choose the right moisturizer for themselves. As moisturizers play an important role as adjuvant in the treatment of common skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and rosacea, which type of moisturizer is appropriate for each disease was also dealt with. Basic cosmetics, especially moisturizers, should be recommended in consideration of the ingredients, effectiveness and safety of each product, and the skin condition of each patient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic Inflammatory Skin Diseases: Current Treatment and Future)
Article
The Influence of Glow and Afterglow Cold Plasma Treatment on Biochemistry, Morphology, and Physiology of Wheat Seeds
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7369; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137369 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Cold plasma (CP) technology is a technique used to change chemical and morphological characteristics of the surface of various materials. It is a newly emerging technology in agriculture used for seed treatment with the potential of improving seed germination and yield of crops. [...] Read more.
Cold plasma (CP) technology is a technique used to change chemical and morphological characteristics of the surface of various materials. It is a newly emerging technology in agriculture used for seed treatment with the potential of improving seed germination and yield of crops. Wheat seeds were treated with glow (direct) or afterglow (indirect) low-pressure radio-frequency oxygen plasma. Chemical characteristics of the seed surface were evaluated by XPS and FTIR analysis, changes in the morphology of the seed pericarp were analysed by SEM and AFM, and physiological characteristics of the seedlings were determined by germination tests, growth studies, and the evaluation of α-amylase activity. Changes in seed wettability were also studied, mainly in correlation with functionalization of the seed surface and oxidation of lipid molecules. Only prolonged direct CP treatment resulted in altered morphology of the seed pericarp and increased its roughness. The degree of functionalization is more evident in direct compared to indirect CP treatment. CP treatment slowed the germination of seedlings, decreased the activity of α-amylase in seeds after imbibition, and affected the root system of seedlings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-Thermal Plasma Interactions with Different Living Systems 2.0)
Article
Deep Reinforcement Learning for Integrated Non-Linear Control of Autonomous UAVs
Processes 2022, 10(7), 1307; https://doi.org/10.3390/pr10071307 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
In this research, an intelligent control architecture for an experimental Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) bearing unconventional inverted V-tail design, is presented. To handle UAV’s inherent control complexities, while keeping them computationally acceptable, a variant of distinct Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) algorithm, namely Deep [...] Read more.
In this research, an intelligent control architecture for an experimental Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) bearing unconventional inverted V-tail design, is presented. To handle UAV’s inherent control complexities, while keeping them computationally acceptable, a variant of distinct Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) algorithm, namely Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (DDPG) is proposed. Conventional DDPG algorithm after being modified in its learning architecture becomes capable of intelligently handling the continuous state and control space domains besides controlling the platform in its entire flight regime. Nonlinear simulations were then performed to analyze UAV performance under different environmental and launch conditions. The effectiveness of the proposed strategy is further demonstrated by comparing the results with the linear controller for the same UAV whose feedback loop gains are optimized by employing technique of optimal control theory. Results indicate the significance of the proposed control architecture and its inherent capability to adapt dynamically to the changing environment, thereby making it of significant utility to airborne UAV applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Process for Engineering Optimization (II))
Article
Drivers of Routine and Outbreak Vaccination Uptake in the Western Democratic Republic of Congo: An Exploratory Study in Ten Health Zones
Vaccines 2022, 10(7), 1066; https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines10071066 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
We performed a cross-sectional survey on vaccination-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) among randomly selected parents of <5 years-old children, elderly populations (aged 55 years), and health care workers (HCWs) in 10 health zones from 4 provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo [...] Read more.
We performed a cross-sectional survey on vaccination-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) among randomly selected parents of <5 years-old children, elderly populations (aged 55 years), and health care workers (HCWs) in 10 health zones from 4 provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Questionnaires targeted both routine (BCG, measles, polio) and outbreak-related (cholera, Ebola, COVID-19) vaccinations. In total, 2751 participants were included, 1165 parents, 1040 elderly, and 546 HCWs. In general, KAP expressed were supportive of vaccination uptake, although concerns regarding side effects and feelings of being insufficiently informed were more prevalent among parents and the elderly. Vaccine acceptance was lower for outbreak vaccinations (57%) than for routine vaccinations (90%). HCWs expressed the highest vaccine acceptance. Problems with the vaccine supply chain were reported by 20% of respondents. Despite a high level of positive KAP towards vaccination, parents and the elderly expressed a need to be better informed and had concerns regarding vaccine side-effects. A high acceptance for routine vaccinations was reported by participants, but somewhat less for outbreak vaccinations. In conclusion, HCWs in the communities could play a key role in the increased uptake of routine vaccinations and in optimizing uptake during outbreaks, provided that the supply chain is functioning well. Full article
Article
Biocompatibility of ZrO2 vs. Y-TZP Alloys: Influence of Their Composition and Surface Topography
Materials 2022, 15(13), 4655; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma15134655 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The osseointegration of implants is defined as the direct anatomical and functional connection between neoformed living bone and the surface of a supporting implant. The biological compatibility of implants depends on various parameters, such as the nature of the material, chemical composition, surface [...] Read more.
The osseointegration of implants is defined as the direct anatomical and functional connection between neoformed living bone and the surface of a supporting implant. The biological compatibility of implants depends on various parameters, such as the nature of the material, chemical composition, surface topography, chemistry and loading, surface treatment, and physical and mechanical properties. In this context, the objective of this study is to evaluate the biocompatibility of rough (Ra = 1 µm) and smooth (Ra = 0 µm) surface conditions of yttria–zirconia (Y-TZP) discs compared to pure zirconia (ZrO2) discs by combining a classical toxicological test, morphological observations by SEM, and a transcriptomic analysis on an in vitro model of human Saos-2 bone cells. Similar cell proliferation rates were observed between ZrO2 and Y-TZP discs and control cells, regardless of the surface topography, at up to 96 h of exposure. Dense cell matting was similarly observed on the surfaces of both materials. Interestingly, only 110 transcripts were differentially expressed across the human transcriptome, consistent with the excellent biocompatibility of Y-TZP reported in the literature. These deregulated transcripts are mainly involved in two pathways, the first being related to “mineral uptake” and the second being the “immune response”. These observations suggest that Y-TZP is an interesting candidate for application in implantology. Full article
Article
Lim Domain Binding 3 (Ldb3) Identified as a Potential Marker of Cardiac Extracellular Vesicles
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7374; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137374 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are considered as transporters of biomarkers for the diagnosis of cardiac diseases, playing an important role in cell-to-cell communication during physiological and pathological processes. However, specific markers for the isolation and analysis of cardiac EVs are missing, imposing limitation on [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are considered as transporters of biomarkers for the diagnosis of cardiac diseases, playing an important role in cell-to-cell communication during physiological and pathological processes. However, specific markers for the isolation and analysis of cardiac EVs are missing, imposing limitation on understanding their function in heart tissue. For this, we performed multiple proteomic approaches to compare EVs isolated from neonate rat cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts by ultracentrifugation, as well as EVs isolated from minced cardiac tissue and plasma by EVtrap. We identified Ldb3, a cytoskeletal protein which is essential in maintaining Z-disc structural integrity, as enriched in cardiac EVs. This result was validated using different EV isolation techniques showing Ldb3 in both large and small EVs. In parallel, we showed that Ldb3 is almost exclusively detected in the neonate rat heart when compared to other tissues, and specifically in cardiomyocytes compared to cardiac fibroblasts. Furthermore, Ldb3 levels, specifically higher molecular weight isoforms, were decreased in the left ventricle of ischemic heart failure patients compared to control groups, but not in the corresponding EVs. Our results suggest that Ldb3 could be a potential cardiomyocytes derived-EV marker and could be useful to identify cardiac EVs in physiological and pathological conditions. Full article
Article
Sex Differences in Anthropometric and Physiological Profiles of Hungarian Rowers of Different Ages
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8115; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138115 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine sexual differentiation in the anthropometric and physiological characteristics of Hungarian rowers in different age categories. These characteristics were measured for 15–16-year-old juniors (55 men and 36 women), 17–18-year-old older juniors (52 men and 26 women), [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine sexual differentiation in the anthropometric and physiological characteristics of Hungarian rowers in different age categories. These characteristics were measured for 15–16-year-old juniors (55 men and 36 women), 17–18-year-old older juniors (52 men and 26 women), and 19–22-year-old seniors (23 men and 8 women). The degree of sexual dimorphism was expressed in units of measurement as percentages and the dimorphism index. In all age categories, females had significantly higher body fat indices. Body fat percentage was determined by electrical impedance and by the Pařízková formula, BMI, and skinfold thicknesses. Males had significantly higher body mass, body height, skeletal muscle mass, sitting height, arm span, lower limb length, and body surface area. Males also scored significantly higher values for the following physiological characteristics: peak power, relative peak power, ErVO2max, jump height, speed max, force max, and relative maximal power. Analysis of anthropometric and physiological characteristics in Hungarian rowers revealed that sexual dimorphism tended to increase with age, regardless of whether it was expressed in units of measurement, percentages, or dimorphism index values. The age-related increase in the sexual dimorphism of Hungarian rowers suggests that training methods should be carefully selected to accommodate the needs of various age and gender groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Physiological Effects of Sports Training and Exercise)
Article
Improvement of the Coupling of Renewable Sources through Z-Source Converters Based on the Study of Their Dynamic Model
Electronics 2022, 11(13), 2074; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics11132074 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The classical coupling of renewable energy sources greatly limits the coupling power and the output voltage of the coupled sources. Moreover, it does not eliminate the randomness of the sources. In this work a renewable sources coupling with high randomness is obtained by [...] Read more.
The classical coupling of renewable energy sources greatly limits the coupling power and the output voltage of the coupled sources. Moreover, it does not eliminate the randomness of the sources. In this work a renewable sources coupling with high randomness is obtained by series connection of the output terminals of Z-source converters. To achieve the coupling, the stationary and dynamic models of a Z-source-based converter have been studied. With the results of the stationary model, the converter behavior has been evaluated as a function of its parameters and a method for calculating the Z-network parameters has been implemented. Moreover, with the dynamic model a controller has been designed for all the converters. The main contributions of this work are the coupling of the sources, the stationary and dynamic models obtained and their analysis. The coupling achieves a stable supply avoiding the sources’ randomness reaching the load. A system composed of a wind turbine, a set of photovoltaic panels and two groups of batteries has been modeled. To study the system behavior and the supply quality, several aggressive tests have been forced and experimental evidence has also been provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Power Electronics)
Article
A Short-Term and Long-Term Prognostic Method for PEM Fuel Cells Based on Gaussian Process Regression
Energies 2022, 15(13), 4844; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15134844 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
An accurate prediction of the remaining useful life (RUL) of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is of great significance for its large-scale commercialization and life extension. This paper aims to develop a PEMFC degradation prediction method that incorporates short-term and long-term [...] Read more.
An accurate prediction of the remaining useful life (RUL) of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is of great significance for its large-scale commercialization and life extension. This paper aims to develop a PEMFC degradation prediction method that incorporates short-term and long-term predictions. In the short-term prediction, a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network is combined with a Gaussian process regression (GPR) probabilistic model to form a hybrid LSTM-GPR model with a deep structure. The model not only can accurately forecast the nonlinear details of PEMFC degradation but also provide a reliable confidence interval for the prediction results. The results showed that the proposed LSTM-GPR model outperforms the single models in both prediction accuracy and confidence interval. For the long-term prediction, a novel RUL prediction model based on an extended Kalman filter (EKF) and GPR is proposed. The GPR model is used to solve the problem that the EKF cannot update the model parameters in the prediction stage. The results showed that the proposed EKF-GPR model can achieve better RUL prediction than the model-based approach and the data-driven approach. Full article
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Review
The Role of Vitamin D in SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Acute Kidney Injury
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(13), 7368; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23137368 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
Vitamin D has been described as an essential nutrient and hormone, which can cause nuclear, non-genomic, and mitochondrial effects. Vitamin D not only controls the transcription of thousands of genes, directly or indirectly through the modulation of calcium fluxes, but it also influences [...] Read more.
Vitamin D has been described as an essential nutrient and hormone, which can cause nuclear, non-genomic, and mitochondrial effects. Vitamin D not only controls the transcription of thousands of genes, directly or indirectly through the modulation of calcium fluxes, but it also influences the cell metabolism and maintenance specific nuclear programs. Given its broad spectrum of activity and multiple molecular targets, a deficiency of vitamin D can be involved in many pathologies. Vitamin D deficiency also influences mortality and multiple outcomes in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Active and native vitamin D serum levels are also decreased in critically ill patients and are associated with acute kidney injury (AKI) and in-hospital mortality. In addition to regulating calcium and phosphate homeostasis, vitamin D-related mechanisms regulate adaptive and innate immunity. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections have a role in excessive proinflammatory cell recruitment and cytokine release, which contribute to alveolar and full-body endothelial damage. AKI is one of the most common extrapulmonary manifestations of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There are also some correlations between the vitamin D level and COVID-19 severity via several pathways. Proper vitamin D supplementation may be an attractive therapeutic strategy for AKI and has the benefits of low cost and low risk of toxicity and side effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Vitamin D in Human Health and Diseases 2.0)
Article
Development and Validation of an Automated Magneto-Controlled Pretreatment for Chromatography-Free Detection of Aflatoxin B1 in Cereals and Oils through Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy
Toxins 2022, 14(7), 454; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins14070454 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
A chromatography-free detection of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in cereals and oils through atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) has been developed using quantum dots and immunomagnetic beads. A magneto-controlled pretreatment platform for automatic purification, labeling, and digestion was constructed, and AFB1 [...] Read more.
A chromatography-free detection of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in cereals and oils through atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) has been developed using quantum dots and immunomagnetic beads. A magneto-controlled pretreatment platform for automatic purification, labeling, and digestion was constructed, and AFB1 detection through AAS was enabled. Under optimal conditions, this immunoassay exhibited high sensitivity for AFB1 detection, with limits of detection as low as 0.04 μg/kg and a linear dynamic range of 2.5–240 μg/kg. The recoveries for four different food matrices ranged from 92.6% to 108.7%, with intra- and inter-day standard deviations of 0.7–6.3% and 0.6–6.9%, respectively. The method was successfully applied to the detection of AFB1 in husked rice, maize, and polished rice samples, and the detection results were not significantly different from those of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The proposed method realized the detection of mycotoxins through AAS for the first time. It provides a new route for AFB1 detection, expands the application scope of AAS, and provides a reference for the simultaneous determination of multiple poisonous compounds (such as mycotoxins and heavy metals). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Detection, Control and Contamination of Mycotoxins)
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Article
Chemical Characterization, α-Glucosidase, α-Amylase and Lipase Inhibitory Properties of the Australian Honey Bee Propolis
Foods 2022, 11(13), 1964; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11131964 (registering DOI) - 01 Jul 2022
Abstract
The use of functional foods and nutraceuticals as a complementary therapy for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and obesity has steadily increased over the past few decades. With the aim of exploring the therapeutic potentials of Australian propolis, this study [...] Read more.
The use of functional foods and nutraceuticals as a complementary therapy for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and obesity has steadily increased over the past few decades. With the aim of exploring the therapeutic potentials of Australian propolis, this study reports the chemical and biological investigation of a propolis sample collected in the Queensland state of Australia which exhibited a potent activity in an in vitro α-glucosidase inhibitory screening. The chemical investigation of the propolis resulted in the identification of six known prenylated flavonoids including propolins C, D, F, G, H, and solophenol D. These compounds potently inhibited the α-glucosidase and two other enzymes associated with diabetes and obesity, α-amylase, and lipase on in vitro and in silico assays. These findings suggest that this propolis is a potential source for the development of a functional food to prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity. The chemical analysis revealed that this propolis possessed a chemical fingerprint relatively similar to the Pacific propolis found in Okinawa (South of Japan), Taiwan, and the Solomon Islands. This is the first time the Pacific propolis has been identified in Australia. Full article
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