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Open AccessArticle
Cytoprotective Effects of Mangiferin and Z-Ligustilide in PAH-Exposed Human Airway Epithelium in Vitro
Nutrients 2019, 11(2), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11020218 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders, respiratory diseases, including COPD, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections, neuro-degenerative and other diseases. It is also known that various phytochemicals may mitigate such risks. This study tested if
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According to World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular disorders, respiratory diseases, including COPD, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections, neuro-degenerative and other diseases. It is also known that various phytochemicals may mitigate such risks. This study tested if phytochemicals mangiferin (MNG) and Z-ligustilide (Z-LG) may protect PAH-exposed human lung bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B). Organic PAH extract was obtained from the urban fine PM with high benzo(a)pyrene content collected in Eastern European mid-sized city during winter heating season. Cell proliferation traits and levels of intracellular oxidative stress were examined. Effect of MNG (0.5 µg/mL) alone or in combination with PAH on bronchial epithelium wound healing was evaluated. Both phytochemicals were also evaluated for their antioxidant properties in acellular system. Treatment with MNG produced strong cytoprotective effect on PAH-exposed cells (p < 0.01) while Z-LG (0.5 µg/mL) exhibited strong negative effect on cell proliferation in untreated and PAH-exposed cells (p < 0.001). MNG, being many times stronger antioxidant than Z-LG in chemical in vitro assays (p < 0.0001), was also able to decrease PAH-induced oxidative stress in the cell cultures (p < 0.05). Consequently MNG ameliorates oxidative stress, speeds up wound healing process and restores proliferation rate in PAH-exposed bronchial epithelium. Such protective effects of MNG in air pollution affected airway epithelium stimulate further research on this promising phytochemical. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Grain Sorghum Polyphenols on Microbiota of Normal Weight and Overweight/Obese Subjects during In Vitro Fecal Fermentation
Nutrients 2019, 11(2), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11020217 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The human gut microbiota is considered as a crucial mediator between diet and gut homeostasis and body weight. The unique polyphenolic profile of sorghum bran may promote gastrointestinal health by modulating the microbiota. This study evaluated gut microbiota and modulation of short-chain fatty
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The human gut microbiota is considered as a crucial mediator between diet and gut homeostasis and body weight. The unique polyphenolic profile of sorghum bran may promote gastrointestinal health by modulating the microbiota. This study evaluated gut microbiota and modulation of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) by sorghum bran polyphenols in in vitro batch fermentation derived from normal weight (NW, n = 11) and overweight/obese (OO, n = 11) subjects’ fecal samples. Six separate treatments were applied on each batch fermentation: negative control (NC), fructooligosaccharides (FOS), black sorghum bran extract (BSE), sumac sorghum bran extract (SSE), FOS + BSE, or FOS + SSE; and samples were collected before and after 24 h. No significant differences in total and individual SCFA production were observed between NW and OO subjects. Differential responses to treatment according to weight class were observed in both phyla and genera. Sorghum bran polyphenols worked with FOS to enhance Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and independently stimulated Roseburia and Prevotella (p < 0.05). Our results indicate that sorghum bran polyphenols have differential effects on gut health and may positively impact gut ecology, with responses varying depending on weight class. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Unexpected Emails to Submit Your Work: Spam or Legitimate Offers? The Implications for Novice English L2 Writers
Publications 2019, 7(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7010007 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This article analyzes the discourse of what have been termed ‘predatory publishers’, with a corpus of emails sent to scholars by hitherto unknown publishers. Equipped with sociolinguistic and discourse analytic tools, we argue that the interpretation of these texts as spam or as
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This article analyzes the discourse of what have been termed ‘predatory publishers’, with a corpus of emails sent to scholars by hitherto unknown publishers. Equipped with sociolinguistic and discourse analytic tools, we argue that the interpretation of these texts as spam or as legitimate messages may not be as straightforward an operation as one may initially believe. We suggest that English L2 scholars might potentially be more affected by publishers who engage in these email practices in several ways, which we identify and discuss. However, we argue that examining academic inequalities in scholarly publishing based exclusively on the native/non-native English speaker divide might not be sufficient, nor may it be enough to simply raise awareness about such publishers. Instead, we argue in favor of a more sociologically informed analysis of academic publishing, something that we see as a necessary first step if we wish to enhance more democratic means of access to key resources in publishing. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Meta-Control in Pigeons (Columba livia) and the Role of the Commissura Anterior
Symmetry 2019, 11(2), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11020124 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Meta-control describes an interhemispheric response conflict that results from the perception of stimuli that elicit a different reaction in each hemisphere. The dominant hemisphere for the perceived stimulus class often wins this competition. There is evidence from pigeons that meta-control results from interhemispheric
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Meta-control describes an interhemispheric response conflict that results from the perception of stimuli that elicit a different reaction in each hemisphere. The dominant hemisphere for the perceived stimulus class often wins this competition. There is evidence from pigeons that meta-control results from interhemispheric response conflicts that prolong reaction time when the animal is confronted with conflicting information. However, recent evidence in pigeons also makes it likely that the dominant hemisphere can slow down the subdominant hemisphere, such that meta-control could instead result from the interhemispheric speed differences. Since both explanations make different predictions for the effect of commissurotomy, we tested pigeons in a meta-control task both before and after transection of the commissura anterior. This fiber pathway is the largest pallial commissura of the avian brain. The results revealed a transient phase in which meta-control possibly resulted from interhemispheric response conflicts. In subsequent sessions and after commissurotomy, however, the results suggest interhemispheric speed differences as a basis for meta-control. Furthermore, they reveal that meta-control is modified by interhemispheric transmission via the commissura anterior, although it does not seem to depend on it. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Differentiations in Women’s Land Tenure Experiences: Implications for Women’s Land Access and Tenure Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
Land 2019, 8(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8020022 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Most literature on land tenure in sub-Saharan Africa has presented women as a homogenous group. This study uses evidence from Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe to show that women have differentiated problems, needs, and statuses in their quest for land access and tenure security.
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Most literature on land tenure in sub-Saharan Africa has presented women as a homogenous group. This study uses evidence from Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe to show that women have differentiated problems, needs, and statuses in their quest for land access and tenure security. It illustrates how women-to-women differences influence women’s access to land. By investigating differentiations in women’s land tenure in the three countries, the study identifies multiple and somewhat interlinked ways in which differentiations exist in women’s land tenure. It achieved some key outcomes. The findings include a matrix of factors that differentiate women’s land access and tenure security, a visualisation of women’s differentiation in land tenure showing possible modes for actions, and an adaptable approach for operationalising women’s differentiation in land tenure policies (among others). Using these as evidence, it argues that women are a highly differentiated gender group, and the only thing homogenous in the three cases is that women are heterogeneous in their land tenure experiences. It concludes that an emphasis on how the differentiation among women allows for significant insight to emerge into how they experience tenure access differently is essential in improving the tenure security of women. Finally, it makes policy recommendations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Femtosecond Pulse Laser Near-Field Ablation of Ag Nanorods
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(3), 363; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9030363 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Ag nanorods (Ag NRs) with a mean aspect ratio of 3.9 were prepared through a wet-chemical method, and the absorption spectra for various aspect ratios were obtained. The morphology transformation of Ag NRs irradiated with a femtosecond pulse laser was investigated through transmission
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Ag nanorods (Ag NRs) with a mean aspect ratio of 3.9 were prepared through a wet-chemical method, and the absorption spectra for various aspect ratios were obtained. The morphology transformation of Ag NRs irradiated with a femtosecond pulse laser was investigated through transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The near-field ablation was dependent on the laser polarization and wavelength. Laser-induced high electric field intensity was observed at the ends, middle, and junctions of the Ag NRs under various ablation conditions. Through simulation, the evolution mechanism was analyzed in detail. The effect of laser polarization angle on plasmonic junction welding was also investigated. By controlling the electronic field distribution, several nanostructures were obtained: bone-shaped NRs, T-shaped NRs, dimers, trimers, curved NRs, and nanodots. This study suggests a potentially useful approach for the reshaping, cutting, and welding of nanostructures. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cold-Responsive Regions of Paradigm Cold-Shock and Non-Cold-Shock mRNAs Responsible for Cold Shock Translational Bias
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(3), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20030457 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In Escherichia coli, the mRNA transcribed from the main cold-shock gene cspA is a thermosensor, which at low temperature adopts a conformation particularly suitable for translation in the cold. Unlike cspA, its paralogue cspD is expressed only at 37 °C, is
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In Escherichia coli, the mRNA transcribed from the main cold-shock gene cspA is a thermosensor, which at low temperature adopts a conformation particularly suitable for translation in the cold. Unlike cspA, its paralogue cspD is expressed only at 37 °C, is toxic so cannot be hyper-expressed in E. coli and is poorly translated in vitro, especially at low temperature. In this work, chimeric mRNAs consisting of different segments of cspA and cspD were constructed to determine if parts of cspA could confer cold-responsive properties to cspD to improve its expression. The activities of these chimeric mRNAs in translation and in partial steps of translation initiation such as formation of 30S initiation complexes and 50S subunits docking to 30S complexes to yield 70S initiation complexes were analyzed. We show that the 5′ untranslated region (5′UTR) of cspA mRNA is sufficient to improve the translation of cspD mRNA at 37 °C whereas both the 5′UTR and the region immediately downstream the cspA mRNA initiation triplet are essential for translation at low temperature. Furthermore, the translational apparatus of cold-stressed cells contains trans-active elements targeting both 5′UTR and downstream regions of cspA mRNA, thereby improving translation of specific chimeric constructs at both 15 and 37 °C. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying Data Dependencies with Rényi Mutual Information and Minimum Spanning Trees
Entropy 2019, 21(2), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21020100 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In this study, we present a novel method for quantifying dependencies in multivariate datasets, based on estimating the Rényi mutual information by minimum spanning trees (MSTs). The extent to which random variables are dependent is an important question, e.g., for uncertainty quantification and
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In this study, we present a novel method for quantifying dependencies in multivariate datasets, based on estimating the Rényi mutual information by minimum spanning trees (MSTs). The extent to which random variables are dependent is an important question, e.g., for uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis. The latter is closely related to the question how strongly dependent the output of, e.g., a computer simulation, is on the individual random input variables. To estimate the Rényi mutual information from data, we use a method due to Hero et al. that relies on computing minimum spanning trees (MSTs) of the data and uses the length of the MST in an estimator for the entropy. To reduce the computational cost of constructing the exact MST for large datasets, we explore methods to compute approximations to the exact MST, and find the multilevel approach introduced recently by Zhong et al. (2015) to be the most accurate. Because the MST computation does not require knowledge (or estimation) of the distributions, our methodology is well-suited for situations where only data are available. Furthermore, we show that, in the case where only the ranking of several dependencies is required rather than their exact value, it is not necessary to compute the Rényi divergence, but only an estimator derived from it. The main contributions of this paper are the introduction of this quantifier of dependency, as well as the novel combination of using approximate methods for MSTs with estimating the Rényi mutual information via MSTs. We applied our proposed method to an artificial test case based on the Ishigami function, as well as to a real-world test case involving an El Nino dataset. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Wave Energy Assessment around the Aegadian Islands (Sicily)
Energies 2019, 12(3), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12030333 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This paper presents the estimation of the wave energy potential around the Aegadian islands (Italy), carried out on the basis of high resolution wave hindcast. This reanalysis was developed employing Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) and WAVEWATCH III® models for the modelling
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This paper presents the estimation of the wave energy potential around the Aegadian islands (Italy), carried out on the basis of high resolution wave hindcast. This reanalysis was developed employing Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) and WAVEWATCH III® models for the modelling of the atmosphere and the waves, respectively. Wave climate has been determined using the above-mentioned 32-year dataset covering the years from 1979 to 2010. To improve the information about wave characteristics regarding spatial details, i.e., increasing wave model resolution, especially in the nearshore region around the islands, a SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore) wave propagation model was used. Results obtained through the development of the nearshore analysis detected four energetic hotspots close to the coast of the islands. Near Marettimo island, only one hotspot was detected with a maximum wave energy flux of 9 kW/m, whereas, around Favignana, three hotspots were identified with a maximum wave energy flux of 6.5 kW/m. Such values of available wave energy resource are promising to develop different projects for wave energy converters in specific areas along the coast, in order to improve the energetic independence of Aegadian islands. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A New Wind Speed Forecasting Modeling Strategy Using Two-Stage Decomposition, Feature Selection and DAWNN
Energies 2019, 12(3), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12030334 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Accurate wind speed prediction plays a crucial role on the routine operational management of wind farms. However, the irregular characteristics of wind speed time series makes it hard to predict accurately. This study develops a novel forecasting strategy for multi-step wind speed forecasting
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Accurate wind speed prediction plays a crucial role on the routine operational management of wind farms. However, the irregular characteristics of wind speed time series makes it hard to predict accurately. This study develops a novel forecasting strategy for multi-step wind speed forecasting (WSF) and illustrates its effectiveness. During the WSF process, a two-stage signal decomposition method combining ensemble empirical mode decomposition (EEMD) and variational mode decomposition (VMD) is exploited to decompose the empirical wind speed data. The EEMD algorithm is firstly employed to disassemble wind speed data into several intrinsic mode function (IMFs) and one residual (Res). The highest frequency component, IMF1, obtained by EEMD is further disassembled into different modes by the VMD algorithm. Then, feature selection is applied to eliminate the illusive components in the input-matrix predetermined by partial autocorrelation function (PACF) and the parameters in the proposed wavelet neural network (WNN) model are optimized for improving the forecasting performance, which are realized by hybrid backtracking search optimization algorithm (HBSA) integrating binary-valued BSA (BBSA) with real-valued BSA (RBSA), simultaneously. Combinations of Morlet function and Mexican hat function by weighted coefficient are constructed as activation functions for WNN, namely DAWNN, to enhance its regression performance. In the end, the final WSF values are obtained by assembling the prediction results of each decomposed components. Two sets of actual wind speed data are applied to evaluate and analyze the proposed forecasting strategy. Forecasting results, comparisons, and analysis illustrate that the proposed EEMD/VMD-HSBA-DAWNN is an effective model when employed in multi-step WSF. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Microstructure and Magnetic Properties of Grain Refined Pr2Co14B Melt-Spun Ribbons
Magnetochemistry 2019, 5(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/magnetochemistry5010006 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The correlation between the grain refining effect of TiC on the microstructure of Pr2Co14B melt-spun ribbons and the magnetic properties is presented in this study. TiC enabled greater control of microstructure both in the as-spun and heat treated Pr
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The correlation between the grain refining effect of TiC on the microstructure of Pr2Co14B melt-spun ribbons and the magnetic properties is presented in this study. TiC enabled greater control of microstructure both in the as-spun and heat treated Pr2Co14B, compared with the material without TiC. As a result, coercivity of the sample with TiC was nearly twice that of the sample without TiC. In addition to Pr2Co14B, two other phases were found in the sample with TiC: one rich in Co and the other having a composition near PrCo2. TiC was found near the grain boundaries and at triple junctions. Also no Ti or C was found in the matrix phase indicating extreme low solubility of the elements when both are present with Pr2Co14B. As expected, both the samples with and without TiC have similar anisotropy field but the presence of room temperature non-ferromagnetic phases (TiC and PrCo2), caused a small decrease in magnetization of the sample with TiC although the romance of the isotropic materials were comparable. Full article
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