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Commentary
Lessons Learned from the Implementation of a Person-Centred Digital Health Platform in Cancer Care
Curr. Oncol. 2022, 29(10), 7171-7180; https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol29100564 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the development and use of digital health platforms to support individuals with health-related challenges. This is even more frequent in the field of cancer care as the global burden of the disease continues to increase every year. [...] Read more.
The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the development and use of digital health platforms to support individuals with health-related challenges. This is even more frequent in the field of cancer care as the global burden of the disease continues to increase every year. However, optimal implementation of these platforms into the clinical setting requires careful planning and collaboration. An implementation project was launched between the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Centre-Ouest-de-I’Île-de-Montreal and BELONG—Beating Cancer Together—a person-centred cancer navigation and support digital health platform. The goal of the project was to implement content and features specific to the CIUSSS, to be made available exclusively for individuals with cancer (and their caregivers) treated at the institution. Guided by Structural Model of Interprofessional Collaboration, we report on implementation processes involving diverse stakeholders including clinicians, hospital administrators, researchers and local community/patient representatives. Lessons learned include earlier identification of shared goals and clear expectations, more consistent reliance on virtual means to communicate among all involved, and patient/caregiver involvement in each step to ensure informed and shared decision making. Full article
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Article
Failure Analysis of Hydraulic Expanding Assembled Camshafts Using BP Neural Network and Failure Tree Theory
Metals 2022, 12(10), 1639; https://doi.org/10.3390/met12101639 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Due to the complex and changeable working environment of assembled camshafts using tube hydroforming (THF) technology, the manifestations of failure, the causes of failure and the preventive measures for these failures are a major concern. Therefore, in view of this new connection technology [...] Read more.
Due to the complex and changeable working environment of assembled camshafts using tube hydroforming (THF) technology, the manifestations of failure, the causes of failure and the preventive measures for these failures are a major concern. Therefore, in view of this new connection technology for assembled camshafts, it is important to put forward a prediction and evaluation method of failure for hydraulic expanding assembled camshafts. In this study, an isometric-trilateral profile cam was used to complete the hydroforming connection with the hollow shaft (tube) under different hydraulic pressures. Orthogonal torsion experiment and laser measurement experiment were performed. Finite element analysis was carried out using ABAQUS 6.14 software, and relevant research data were obtained. A more accurate BP neural network model was constructed to predict the main failure factors of assembled camshafts. The failure manifestations of assembled camshafts are displayed by the experiment from the microscopic perspective. The causes of failure are analyzed by using the minimum cut set in the failure Tree (FT) theory. The effect of basic causes on the subsystems is analyzed, and the weight distribution of the main events in the FT is given. Finally, the specific measures to prevent failure are proposed from a macro perspective. The research is of great significance to study the failures of assembled camshafts in service to further the production, manufacturing, failure prevention, faults monitoring and performance improvement of assembled camshafts in the engine industry. Full article
Review
Review of Under-Recognized Adjunctive Therapies for Cancer
Cancers 2022, 14(19), 4780; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14194780 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Patients and providers may not be aware that several adjunctive measures can significantly improve the quality of life, response to treatment, and possibly outcomes for cancer patients. This manuscript presents a review of practical under-recognized adjunctive therapies that are effective including exercise; stress-reduction [...] Read more.
Patients and providers may not be aware that several adjunctive measures can significantly improve the quality of life, response to treatment, and possibly outcomes for cancer patients. This manuscript presents a review of practical under-recognized adjunctive therapies that are effective including exercise; stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, massage, yoga, Tai Chi, breathing exercises; importance of sleep quality; diet modifications such as calorie restriction at the time of chemotherapy and avoidance of high carbohydrate foods; supplements such as aspirin, green tea, turmeric, and melatonin; and repurposed prescription medications such as metformin and statins. Each recommendation should be tailored to the individual patient to assure no contraindications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adjuvant Therapy in Cancer)
Article
Science|Environment|Health, One Health, Planetary Health, Sustainability, and Education for Sustainable Development: How Do They Connect in Health Teaching?
Sustainability 2022, 14(19), 12447; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141912447 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
In this paper, we explore Science|Environment|Health, One Health, Planetary Health, and Sustainability/Education for Sustainable Development in the context of the 2030 Agenda as four major frameworks that take a step toward investigating health from different angles to tackle the grand challenges that lie [...] Read more.
In this paper, we explore Science|Environment|Health, One Health, Planetary Health, and Sustainability/Education for Sustainable Development in the context of the 2030 Agenda as four major frameworks that take a step toward investigating health from different angles to tackle the grand challenges that lie ahead of humanity. In most of these frameworks, the topic of health is no longer limited to the health of humans; it also encompasses the health of ecosystems and planetary systems. Therefore, our ways of teaching and discussing health in science education may need to be adjusted. To this aim, we first shortly characterize the four frameworks and then analyze the concepts of health, the contributing sciences, and the role of values in the frameworks. In our opinion, three main questions have to be settled: (1) Which concept of health lies at the root of each framework? (2) Which sciences should be considered when teaching about health, and what role will they take in an interdisciplinary, integrative approach and under complexity restraints? (3) What is the role of values in these frameworks, and how can the is–ought fallacy be avoided? We finally discuss our findings in light of the concept of two-eyed seeing in science education. This concept helps us disentangle and sharpen the three main questions and draw implications for teaching about health in school science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflexive Processes on Health and Sustainability in Education)
Review
Study on the Mechanical Properties of Loess Improved by Lignosulfonate and Its Mechanism Analysis and Prospects
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(19), 9843; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199843 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
As an organic material with large reserves and environmental protection, the application of lignin in loess improvement can greatly improve the engineering properties of loess, such as water loss disintegration and water collapsibility. This paper summarizes the main achievements of lignosulfonate in improving [...] Read more.
As an organic material with large reserves and environmental protection, the application of lignin in loess improvement can greatly improve the engineering properties of loess, such as water loss disintegration and water collapsibility. This paper summarizes the main achievements of lignosulfonate in improving loess over the past five years and discusses and analyzes its microstructure, mechanical properties, and mechanism of action. The microscopic results show that the incorporation of lignosulfonate produces a three-dimensional network structure, which can effectively cement loess particles and improve soil strength and impermeability, and the Quantity of this network structure depends on the amount of lignosulfonate. An excessive amount of lignosulfonate preferentially combines with itself due to its cohesive and chelating properties, resulting in an increase in soil porosity and a decrease in the improvement effect. Based on the macroscopic and microscopic tests, it was concluded that the optimal dosage reference range of lignosulfonate-improved loess is mostly between 1% and 1.5%. However, considering the limited number of references in this paper, the differences in physical properties of the experimental loess used in the literature, and the different curing ages, the optimal dosage needs to be further studied. The discussion and analysis in this paper provide a reference for research on lignosulfonate-improved soil, as well as new knowledge and information for more efficient engineering applications of lignin-improved loess. Full article
Article
Toxicological Aspects of Methotrexate Intoxication: Concentrations in Postmortem Biological Samples and Autopsy Findings
Toxics 2022, 10(10), 572; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10100572 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The aim of this study was the establishment of a UHPLC-QqQ-MS/MS method to determine methotrexate in postmortem biological samples and quantify the postmortem distribution of methotrexate in a case of fatal intoxication of this drug. A volume of 100 µL or 100 mg [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was the establishment of a UHPLC-QqQ-MS/MS method to determine methotrexate in postmortem biological samples and quantify the postmortem distribution of methotrexate in a case of fatal intoxication of this drug. A volume of 100 µL or 100 mg of postmortem specimens was precipitated with 400 µL of cold methanol and then analyzed using UHPLC-QqQ-MS/MS. The validation parameters of the method were as follows: limit of quantification: 0.1–1.0 ng/mL or ng/g, coefficient of determination: >0.998 (R2), matrix effect, intra- and inter-day accuracies and precisions: not greater than 13.6%, 14.8% and 17.4%, respectively. The recoveries were: 89.0–113.6%. The postmortem distribution studies revealed methotrexate concentrations as follows: blood—7.2 ng/mL, vitreous humor—0.8 ng/mL, liver—43.7 ng/g, kidney—20.6 ng/g, bone marrow—29.9 ng/g, lumbar vertebra—20.0 ng/g. The highest concentrations of methotrexate after poisoning were found in the tissues with the most rapidly dividing cells. The method described is simple, precise and selective. Methotrexate concentrations can be routinely determined in postmortem specimens. Determination of methotrexate in the postmortem biological material is possible after a few days of intensive treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advance in Forensic Toxicology)
Article
Formulation of Solid Lipid Nanoparticles Loaded with Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) and Characterization in a Murine Model of Airway Hyperresponsiveness
Pharmaceuticals 2022, 15(10), 1210; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph15101210 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation and a variable degree of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). Our previous papers documented a role for Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) and its receptor N/OFQ peptide (NOP) in AHR. Therefore, the aim of this study was to improve the bioavailability [...] Read more.
Asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation and a variable degree of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). Our previous papers documented a role for Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) and its receptor N/OFQ peptide (NOP) in AHR. Therefore, the aim of this study was to improve the bioavailability of N/OFQ by developing solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs). N/OFQ-loaded SLNs were prepared by the Quasi Emulsion Solvent Diffusion (QESD) technique and then characterized. Brown Norway rats were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) and treated with an intratracheal administration of saline solution or N/OFQ-SLN. Then, 24 h after the last challenge, functional histological and molecular evaluations were performed. SLNs showed a mean diameter of 233 ± 0.03 nm, a polydispersity index (PDI) value around 0.28 ± 0.02 and a drug release percentage of 84.3. The in vitro release of N/OFQ from SLNs showed that the release of the peptide starts already after two hours of incubation. Animals receiving N/OFQ-SLN showed a significative decrease in allergen-induced AHR compared to the control group. These results showed the positive effects of N/OFQ-SLNs on the inflammatory process and on the mechanical properties of the airways, suggesting that the innovative nanotechnological approach may be therapeutically beneficial for asthmatic patients. Full article
Article
The Importance of Measuring Arsenic in Honey, Water, and PM10 for Food Safety as an Environmental Study: Experience from the Mining and Metallurgical Districts of Bor, Serbia
Sustainability 2022, 14(19), 12446; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141912446 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Arsenic and toxic metals can reach food and honey through water and air, thus endangering the safe consumption of the same. These toxic substances can damage human health through the food chain, which is contrary to the goals of sustainability related to health [...] Read more.
Arsenic and toxic metals can reach food and honey through water and air, thus endangering the safe consumption of the same. These toxic substances can damage human health through the food chain, which is contrary to the goals of sustainability related to health and food safety. It is necessary to continuously control and measure the concentration of pollutants to ensure the safety of food produced near mining areas. The arsenic content of honey samples from a territory up to 32 km in diameter from the mine (Bor town, east Serbia, and its surroundings), as determined by ICP-MS, is presented in this paper. PM10 particles and water were also analyzed for arsenic content. Pearson’s correlation and hierarchical cluster analysis were used for statistical analysis. The obtained results showed that the content of arsenic in honey was below the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) value. The honey was not contaminated, although the results showed that the concentrations of arsenic in water and PM10 particles were elevated. The results indicate that the environment in these areas is damaged and point towards caution. Full article
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Article
Spatiotemporal Variability, Trends, and Potential Impacts of Extreme Rainfall Events in the Sudano-Sahelian Region of Cameroon
Atmosphere 2022, 13(10), 1599; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13101599 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The Sudano-Sahelian region of Cameroon is mainly drained by the Benue, Chari, and Logone rivers; which are very useful for water resources; especially for irrigation, hydropower generation, and navigation. Long-term changes in mean and extreme rainfall events in the region may be of [...] Read more.
The Sudano-Sahelian region of Cameroon is mainly drained by the Benue, Chari, and Logone rivers; which are very useful for water resources; especially for irrigation, hydropower generation, and navigation. Long-term changes in mean and extreme rainfall events in the region may be of crucial importance in understanding the impacts of climate change. Daily and monthly rainfall data from fifteen climate stations in the study area from 1980 to 2018 and measurements from the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI) were estimated using the non-parametric innovative trend analysis (ITA) and the Sen slope estimator. The precipitation concentration index (PCI), the precipitation concentration degree (PCD), and the precipitation concentration period (PCP) were used to explore the spatiotemporal variations in the characteristics of rainfall concentrations. The results showed complex spatial patterns of the annual average PCI values across the Sudano-Sahelian region; which varied from values lower in the south to higher in the far north, which were the characteristic of seasonality and a strong seasonal precipitation distribution throughout the year; respectively. The PCD results revealed that the annual rainy days in a year decreased from the south to the far north. Additionally, the PCP results indicated a slightly later occurrence of precipitation. A significant trend toward more intense–extreme rainfall events was observed in most parts of the study area, but a significant trend toward more humid days was observed in the southeastern part. Trends in dry days significantly increased in the central and southwestern parts of the study area. This could mean that the prevalence of flood and drought risks are higher in the study area. Overall, the increase in annual rainfall could benefit the hydro-power sector, agricultural irrigation, the availability of potable water sources, and food security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture)
Article
Peptaibol Production and Characterization from Trichoderma asperellum and Their Action as Biofungicide
J. Fungi 2022, 8(10), 1037; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof8101037 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Peptaibols (Paib), are a class of biologically active peptides isolated from soil, fungi and molds, which have interesting properties as antimicrobial agents. Paib production was optimized in flasks by adding sucrose as a carbon source, 2-aminoisobutyric acid (Aib) as an [...] Read more.
Peptaibols (Paib), are a class of biologically active peptides isolated from soil, fungi and molds, which have interesting properties as antimicrobial agents. Paib production was optimized in flasks by adding sucrose as a carbon source, 2-aminoisobutyric acid (Aib) as an additive amino acid, and F. oxysporum cell debris as an elicitor. Paib were purified, sequenced and identified by High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)coupled to mass spectrometry. Afterward, a Paib extract was obtained from the optimized fermentations. The biological activity of these extracts was evaluated using in vitro and in vivo methods. The extract inhibited the growth of specific plant pathogens, and it showed inhibition rates similar to those from commercially available fungicides. Growth inhibition rates were 92.2, 74.2, 58.4 and 36.2% against Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Botrytis cinerea, Alternaria alternata and Fusarium oxysporum, respectively. Furthermore, the antifungal activity was tested in tomatoes inoculated with A. alternata, the incidence of the disease in tomatoes treated with the extract was 0%, while the untreated fruit showed a 92.5% incidence of infection Scanning electron microscopy images showed structural differences between the fungi treated with or without Paib. The most visual alterations were sunk and shriveled morphology in spores, while the hyphae appeared to be fractured, rough and dehydrated. Full article
Article
Lipidomics for Determining Giant Panda Responses in Serum and Feces Following Exposure to Different Amount of Bamboo Shoot Consumption: A First Step towards Lipidomic Atlas of Bamboo, Giant Panda Serum and Feces by Means of GC-MS and UHPLC-HRMS/MS
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(19), 11544; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms231911544 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Lipidic metabolites play essential roles in host physiological health and growth performance, serving as the major structural and signaling components of membranes, energy storage molecules, and steroid hormones. Bamboo, as wild giant pandas’ exclusive diet, is the main determinant of giant pandas’ lipidome, [...] Read more.
Lipidic metabolites play essential roles in host physiological health and growth performance, serving as the major structural and signaling components of membranes, energy storage molecules, and steroid hormones. Bamboo, as wild giant pandas’ exclusive diet, is the main determinant of giant pandas’ lipidome, both as a direct source and through microbiota activity. Interestingly, the consumption of bamboo has attracted little attention from a lipidomic perspective. In the current study, we outline the lipidomic atlas of different parts of bamboo. By gas chromatography—mass spectrometry (GC-MS), we have been able to obtain the absolute quantification of 35 fatty acids pertaining to short chain fatty acids (8), medium chain fatty acids (6), long chain fatty acids (17), and very long chain fatty acids (4), while liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS/MS) allowed us to obtain the relative quantification of another 1638 lipids. Among the fatty acids quantified in absolute terms, eight showed significantly distinct concentrations among different bamboo parts. Subsequently, we investigated how the giant panda’s serum and fecal lipidome adapt to the most important annual change in their diet, represented by the consumption of high amounts of bamboo shoots, typical of spring, the weight-gaining season. Five fatty acids were significantly altered in feces and two in serum, respectively, due to the different levels of bamboo shoot consumption. Furthermore, significant differences of the main bacteria strains were observed in feces between the two groups at the genus level, pertaining to Streptococcus, Leuconostoc, and Vagococcus. Correlations between giant panda fecal microbiome and lipidome were evaluated by Pearson correlation analysis. These findings suggest that a balanced diet, important for the overall lipidomic function and giant panda health, could be reached even in this remarkable case of a single food-based diet, by administering to the giant panda’s combinations of different parts of bamboo, with specific lipidome profiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantitative Mass Spectrometry of Small Molecules to Proteins)
Article
Mexico’s Forest Diversity: Common Tree Species and Proposed Forest-Vegetation Provinces
Forests 2022, 13(10), 1598; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13101598 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
We report a relatively rare study of a national forest inventory in a megadiverse country with the systematic collection of herbarium specimens. The taxonomic identification of 22,659 herbarium collections from 6942 collection sites of Mexico’s national forest inventory resulted in 1464 native tree [...] Read more.
We report a relatively rare study of a national forest inventory in a megadiverse country with the systematic collection of herbarium specimens. The taxonomic identification of 22,659 herbarium collections from 6942 collection sites of Mexico’s national forest inventory resulted in 1464 native tree species (approximately half of Mexico’s estimated total) in 470 genera and 117 plant families. We compared visual tree-species identifications in the field by hired crews, with much more rigorous identification of submitted (mostly sterile) herbarium samples by experienced taxonomists and specialists at the National Herbarium: for 40% of the 22,659 collections, the species identification from the field was confirmed, for 32%, it was corrected at the herbarium, and 27% had been sent without any identification. The most commonly collected plant families were Fagaceae (oak family, 21.7% of all collections), Fabaceae (legumes, 17.7%), and Pinaceae (pine family, 13.3%). The most commonly collected tree species in six major forest-vegetation types were Pinus leiophylla in “coniferous forest”, Quercus magnoliifolia in “highland broadleaf forest”, Liquidambar styraciflua in “mountainous cloud forest”, Bursera simaruba in “lowland evergreen forest”, Lysiloma divaricatum in “lowland dry forest”, and Parkinsonia microphylla in “xerophilous scrub”. We overlapped the six major forest-vegetation types with Mexico’s 15 mainland floristic provinces, as circumscribed by Rzedowski. This resulted in 75 so-called forest-vegetation provinces, of which 35 had at least 20 collection sites. The similarity of species composition among these 35 forest-vegetation provinces was only 17–34% with the Jaccard community index, and 15–42% with the Morisita-Horn community index. The number of physically undetected species was estimated statistically for the 35 forest-vegetation provinces, which indicates that there are forest-vegetation provinces, where the number of species could be up to 8.8-fold higher than those detected in the present work. Finally, we suggest a method to distribute sites optimally among the country in future forest inventories, such as to minimize the average area represented by each site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Biodiversity)
Article
A Box–Behnken Extraction Design and Hepatoprotective Effect of Isolated Eupalitin-3-O-β-D-Galactopyranoside from Boerhavia diffusa Linn.
Molecules 2022, 27(19), 6444; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27196444 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The objectives of this study were to optimize and quantify the maximum percentage yield of eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranosidefrom Boerhavia diffusa leaves using response surface methodology (RSM), as well as to demonstrate the hepatoprotective benefits of the bioactive compound. The Box–Behnken experimental design was [...] Read more.
The objectives of this study were to optimize and quantify the maximum percentage yield of eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranosidefrom Boerhavia diffusa leaves using response surface methodology (RSM), as well as to demonstrate the hepatoprotective benefits of the bioactive compound. The Box–Behnken experimental design was utilized to optimize the eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranosideextraction procedure, which also looked at the extraction duration, temperature, and solvent concentration as independent variables. Boerhaviadiffusa leaves were extracted, and n-hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, and water were used to fractionate the dried extracts. The dried ethyl acetate fraction was thoroughly mixed in hot methanol and stored overnight in the refrigerator. The cold methanol was filtered, the solid was separated, and hot methanol was used many times to re-crystallize the solid to obtain pure eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranoside (0.1578% w/w). The proposed HPTLC method for the validation and quantification of eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranosidewassuccessfully validated and developed. The linearity (R2 = 0.994), detection limit (30 ng), and quantification limit (100 ng) of the method, as well as its range (100–5000 ng), inter and intraday precision (0.67% and 0.991% RSD), specificity, and accuracy (99.78% RSD), were all validated as satisfactory. The separation of the eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranosideband was achieved on an HPTLC plate using toluene:acetone:water (5:15:1 v/v) as a developing system. The Box–Behnken statistical design was used to determine the best optimization method, which was found to be extraction time (90 min), temperature (45 °C), and solvent ratio (80% methanol in water v/v) for eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranoside. Standard silymarin ranged from 80.2% at 100 µg/mL to 86.94% at 500 µg/mL in terms of significant high hepatoprotection (cell induced with carbon tetrachloride 0.1%), whereas isolated eupalitin-3-O-β-D-galactopyranosideranged from 62.62% at 500 µg/mL to 70.23% at 1000 µg/mL. More recently, it is a source of structurally unique flavonoid compounds that may offer opportunities for developing novel semi-synthetic molecules. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chiral Chromatography Analysis of Natural and Bioactive Compounds)
Article
Propolis as a Potential Novel Histological Tissue Fixative: A Preliminary Analysis
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(19), 9842; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199842 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Background: Fixation of biopsy specimens is a critical step before processing and staining them for histological tissue examination. Formalin is considered the gold standard fixative solution for its attributes. However, it has concerning side effects, such as carcinogenic and potential irritational properties. [...] Read more.
Background: Fixation of biopsy specimens is a critical step before processing and staining them for histological tissue examination. Formalin is considered the gold standard fixative solution for its attributes. However, it has concerning side effects, such as carcinogenic and potential irritational properties. Owing to its various harmful effects, a safer natural substitute should be explored. In this study, we compared the effectiveness of propolis to 10% formalin and determined its ability as a natural fixative solution. Materials and Methods: Sixty tissue specimens were collected from goats’ tongues and immediately placed in (1) 6.6% propolis, (2) 10% natural buffered formalin (positive control), (3) 6.6% propolis followed by 10% formalin, and (4) 0.9% saline (negative control). Tissue samples were fixed at different time points (12, 24, 48, and 72 h) at room temperature, followed by processing and staining. The quality of the microscopic parameters was blindly assessed by two oral and maxillofacial pathologists using a numerical scoring scale. Scores were statistically analyzed. Results: The fixation of tissue samples placed in 6.6% propolis was statistically significantly better than that of samples placed in 10% formalin and 0.9% saline at different time points. Conclusion: Propolis showed promising fixation properties and can be considered a natural alternative to 10% formalin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oral Pathology and Medicine: Diagnosis and Therapy)
Article
Lighter and Simpler Design Paradigm for Widespread Use of Ankle Exosuits Based on Bio-Inspired Patterns
Biomimetics 2022, 7(4), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics7040148 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Soft wearable robots are attracting immense attention owing to their high usability and wearability. In particular, studies on soft exosuits have achieved remarkable progress. Walking is one of the most basic human actions in daily life. During walking, the ankle joint has considerable [...] Read more.
Soft wearable robots are attracting immense attention owing to their high usability and wearability. In particular, studies on soft exosuits have achieved remarkable progress. Walking is one of the most basic human actions in daily life. During walking, the ankle joint has considerable influence. Therefore, an exosuit design paradigm having a light and simple structure was developed with the goal of fabricating a soft exosuit that supports the ankle. The new exosuit matches the performance of existing exosuits while being as comfortable as everyday wear. A walking test through a combination with a mobile actuator system, which can maximize these advantages, was also conducted. The combination with the mobile system demonstrates the potential of using the new ankle exosuit as inner wear that maximizes the advantages of a lighter and simpler design. The exosuit design paradigm could serve as an effective guideline for manufacturing assistive exosuits for various body parts in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biologically Inspired Robotics)
Article
Decision Conflicts in Clinical Care during COVID-19: A Multi-Perspective Inquiry
Healthcare 2022, 10(10), 1914; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10101914 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The early COVID-19-pandemic was characterized by changes in decision making, decision-relevant value systems and the related perception of decisional uncertainties and conflicts resulting in decisional burden and stress. The vulnerability of clinical care professionals to these decisional dilemmas has not been characterized yet. [...] Read more.
The early COVID-19-pandemic was characterized by changes in decision making, decision-relevant value systems and the related perception of decisional uncertainties and conflicts resulting in decisional burden and stress. The vulnerability of clinical care professionals to these decisional dilemmas has not been characterized yet. Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire study (540 patients, 322 physicians and 369 nurses in 11 institutions throughout Germany) was carried out. The inclusion criterion was active involvement in clinical treatment or decision making in oncology or psychiatry during the first year of COVID-19. The questionnaires covered five decision dimensions (conflicts and uncertainty, resources, risk perception, perception of consequences for clinical processes, and the perception of consequences for patients). Data analysis was performed using ANOVA, Pearson rank correlations, and the Chi²-test, and for inferential analysis, nominal logistic regression and tree classification were conducted. Results: Professionals reported changes in clinical management (27.5%) and a higher workload (29.2%), resulting in decisional uncertainty (19.2%) and decisional conflicts (22.7%), with significant differences between professional groups (p < 0.005), including anxiety, depression, loneliness and stress in professional subgroups (p < 0.001). Nominal regression analysis targeting “Decisional Uncertainty” provided a highly significant prediction model (LQ p < 0.001) containing eight variables, and the analysis for “Decisional Conflicts” included six items. The classification rates were 64.4% and 92.7%, respectively. Tree analysis confirmed three levels of determinants. Conclusions: Decisional uncertainty and conflicts during the COVID-19 pandemic were independent of the actual pandemic load. Vulnerable professional groups for the perception of a high number of decisional dilemmas were characterized by individual perception and the psychological framework. Coping and management strategies should target vulnerability, enable the handling of the individual perception of decisional dilemmas and ensure information availability and specific support for younger professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Services)
Review
Plasmonic Nanosensors and Metasensors Based on New Physical Mechanisms
Chemosensors 2022, 10(10), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemosensors10100397 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Plasmonics can bind light to their surface while increasing its intensity. The confinement and enhancement of light allows high–density, independent, subwavelength sensor elements to be constructed in micrometer–sized arrays. Plasmonic nanostructures have been widely used in the sensing field because of their fast, [...] Read more.
Plasmonics can bind light to their surface while increasing its intensity. The confinement and enhancement of light allows high–density, independent, subwavelength sensor elements to be constructed in micrometer–sized arrays. Plasmonic nanostructures have been widely used in the sensing field because of their fast, real–time and label–free characteristics. Numerous plasmonic metasensors have been configured for next–generation technologies since the emergence of metamaterials and metasurfaces. Among these applications, the development of high–sensitivity sensors based on new physical mechanisms has received tremendous interest recently. This review focuses on high–sensitivity plasmonic nanosensors and metasensors based on new physical mechanisms, especially based on Fano resonance and the exceptional point (EP). The asymmetric Fano resonance generated by the interference of different resonance modes has a narrower bandwidth, while an EP occurs whenever two resonant modes coalesce both in their resonant frequency and their rate of decay or growth. Both physical mechanisms could tremendously improve the sensitivity of the plasmonic sensors. We summarize the working principles, the latest development status and the development trends of these plasmonic nanosensors and metasensors. It is believed that these new sensing mechanisms can inspire more fruitful scientific research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Bio-Chemical Sensors Based on Plasmonic Nanostructures)
Article
Effects of Nitrogen Deficiency on the Metabolism of Organic Acids and Amino Acids in Oryza sativa
Plants 2022, 11(19), 2576; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11192576 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Organic acids metabolism and nitrogen (N) metabolism in rice seedlings and the relationship between them are not fully understood. In this study, rice (Oryza sativa L. ssp. Indica) variety “Huanghuazhan” was used as the experimental material, and three N levels (5 mM, [...] Read more.
Organic acids metabolism and nitrogen (N) metabolism in rice seedlings and the relationship between them are not fully understood. In this study, rice (Oryza sativa L. ssp. Indica) variety “Huanghuazhan” was used as the experimental material, and three N levels (5 mM, 1 mM, and 0 mM NH4NO3) were set by the hydroponic method for different levels of N treatment. Our results showed that the increased content of malate in rice leaves caused by reducing N level was related to the increased synthesis of malate (the activity of leaf PEPC increased)and the decreased degradation of malate (the activity of leaf NADP-ME decreased), while the increased contents of citrate and isocitrate in rice leaves caused by reducing N level might not be caused by the increased biosynthesis, but due to the decrease in degradation of citrate and isocitrate (the activities of leaf CS, ACO, and NADP-IDH decreased). The increased content of malate in rice roots caused by reducing N level might be related to the increased biosynthesis and the decreased degradation of root malate (the activities of root NAD-MDH and PEPC increased, while the activity of NADP-ME decreased). Compared to the control (5 mM NH4NO3), the increased content of citrate in rice roots caused by reducing N level might be related to the increased biosynthesis rather than the decreased degradation of citrate, due to the higher activities of CS and ACO in rice roots under 0 mM N and 1mM N treatment when compared to that of the control ones. At the same time, the increased content of isocitrate in roots was related to the increased isomerization of isocitrate (the activity of root ACO increased) and the decreased degradation of isocitrate (the activity of root NADP-IDH decreased). With the reducing N level, the activities of N metabolism-related enzymes, such as nitrate reductase (NR), glutamine synthetase (GS),and glutamate synthase (GOGAT), decreased in rice leaves and roots, resulting in the decreased contents of total free amino acids (TFAAs) and soluble proteins in rice seedlings, and finally led to the growth inhibition. Our results showed that the dynamics of organic acids metabolism caused by reducing N level were different in rice leaves and roots. In conclusion, there was a close correlation between organic acids metabolism and N metabolism in rice leaves and roots under N-limited conditions; furthermore, such a correlation was more obvious in rice leaves than that of roots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Regulation of Crop Quality and Stress Responses)
Article
Investigation of the Temperature Effect on Electrical Characteristics of Al/SiO2/n++-Si RRAM Devices
Micromachines 2022, 13(10), 1641; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13101641 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
In this work, we investigate the effect of temperature on the electrical characteristics of Al/SiO2/n++-Si RRAM devices. We study the electroforming process and show that forming voltage and time-to-breakdown are well described by Weibull distribution. Experimental current–voltage characteristics of Al-SiO2-(n++Si) structures are presented [...] Read more.
In this work, we investigate the effect of temperature on the electrical characteristics of Al/SiO2/n++-Si RRAM devices. We study the electroforming process and show that forming voltage and time-to-breakdown are well described by Weibull distribution. Experimental current–voltage characteristics of Al-SiO2-(n++Si) structures are presented and discussed at different temperatures. We show that some intermediate resistance states can be observed at higher temperatures. In our analysis, we identify Space Charge Limited Conduction (SCLC) as the dominating transport mechanism regardless of the operating temperature. Full article
Article
Probing Mechanisms of Binding and Allostery in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Omicron Variant Complexes with the Host Receptor: Revealing Functional Roles of the Binding Hotspots in Mediating Epistatic Effects and Communication with Allosteric Pockets
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(19), 11542; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms231911542 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
In this study, we performed all-atom MD simulations of RBD–ACE2 complexes for BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, and BA.3 Omicron subvariants, conducted a systematic mutational scanning of the RBD–ACE2 binding interfaces and analysis of electrostatic effects. The binding free energy computations of the Omicron RBD–ACE2 [...] Read more.
In this study, we performed all-atom MD simulations of RBD–ACE2 complexes for BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, and BA.3 Omicron subvariants, conducted a systematic mutational scanning of the RBD–ACE2 binding interfaces and analysis of electrostatic effects. The binding free energy computations of the Omicron RBD–ACE2 complexes and comprehensive examination of the electrostatic interactions quantify the driving forces of binding and provide new insights into energetic mechanisms underlying evolutionary differences between Omicron variants. A systematic mutational scanning of the RBD residues determines the protein stability centers and binding energy hotpots in the Omicron RBD–ACE2 complexes. By employing the ensemble-based global network analysis, we propose a community-based topological model of the Omicron RBD interactions that characterized functional roles of the Omicron mutational sites in mediating non-additive epistatic effects of mutations. Our findings suggest that non-additive contributions to the binding affinity may be mediated by R493, Y498, and Y501 sites and are greater for the Omicron BA.1.1 and BA.2 complexes that display the strongest ACE2 binding affinity among the Omicron subvariants. A network-centric adaptation model of the reversed allosteric communication is unveiled in this study, which established a robust connection between allosteric network hotspots and potential allosteric binding pockets. Using this approach, we demonstrated that mediating centers of long-range interactions could anchor the experimentally validated allosteric binding pockets. Through an array of complementary approaches and proposed models, this comprehensive and multi-faceted computational study revealed and quantified multiple functional roles of the key Omicron mutational site R493, R498, and Y501 acting as binding energy hotspots, drivers of electrostatic interactions as well as mediators of epistatic effects and long-range communications with the allosteric pockets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Molecular Biophysics in USA)
Article
Characterization of Infants’ General Movements Using a Commercial RGB-Depth Sensor and a Deep Neural Network Tracking Processing Tool: An Exploratory Study
Sensors 2022, 22(19), 7426; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22197426 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Cerebral palsy, the most common childhood neuromotor disorder, is often diagnosed through visual assessment of general movements (GM) in infancy. This skill requires extensive training and is thus difficult to implement on a large scale. Automated analysis of GM performed using low-cost instrumentation [...] Read more.
Cerebral palsy, the most common childhood neuromotor disorder, is often diagnosed through visual assessment of general movements (GM) in infancy. This skill requires extensive training and is thus difficult to implement on a large scale. Automated analysis of GM performed using low-cost instrumentation in the home may be used to estimate quantitative metrics predictive of movement disorders. This study explored if infants’ GM may be successfully evaluated in a familiar environment by processing the 3D trajectories of points of interest (PoI) obtained from recordings of a single commercial RGB-D sensor. The RGB videos were processed using an open-source markerless motion tracking method which allowed the estimation of the 2D trajectories of the selected PoI and a purposely developed method which allowed the reconstruction of their 3D trajectories making use of the data recorded with the depth sensor. Eight infants’ GM were recorded in the home at 3, 4, and 5 months of age. Eight GM metrics proposed in the literature in addition to a novel metric were estimated from the PoI trajectories at each timepoint. A pediatric neurologist and physiatrist provided an overall clinical evaluation from infants’ video. Subsequently, a comparison between metrics and clinical evaluation was performed. The results demonstrated that GM metrics may be meaningfully estimated and potentially used for early identification of movement disorders.  Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensor Systems for Gesture Recognition 2021-2022)
Article
Stability and Stabilization of TS Fuzzy Systems via Line Integral Lyapunov Fuzzy Function
Electronics 2022, 11(19), 3136; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics11193136 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
This paper is concerned with the stability and stabilization problem of a Takagi-Sugeno fuzzy (TSF) system. Using a non-quadratic function (well-known integral Lyapunov fuzzy candidate (ILF)) and some lemmas, new sufficient conditions are established as linear matrix inequalities (LMIs), which are solved with [...] Read more.
This paper is concerned with the stability and stabilization problem of a Takagi-Sugeno fuzzy (TSF) system. Using a non-quadratic function (well-known integral Lyapunov fuzzy candidate (ILF)) and some lemmas, new sufficient conditions are established as linear matrix inequalities (LMIs), which are solved with a stochastic fractal search (SFS). The main advantage of the technique used is its small conservatives. Motivated by the mean value theorem, a state feedback controller based on a non-quadratic Lyapunov function is designed. Unlike other approaches based on poly-quadratic Lyapunov candidates, stability conditions of the closed loop are obtained in LMI regions. It is important to highlight that the time derivatives of membership functions do not appear in the used line integral Lyapunov function, which is the well-known problem of poly-quadratic Lyapunov functions. A numerical example is given to show the advantages and the utility of the integral Lyapunov fuzzy candidate, which provides a wider feasibility region than other Lyapunov functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Systems & Control Engineering)
Article
Sex Differential Dynamics in Coherent Mortality Models
Forecasting 2022, 4(4), 819-844; https://doi.org/10.3390/forecast4040045 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The main purpose of coherent mortality models is to produce plausible, joint forecasts for related populations avoiding, e.g., crossing or diverging mortality trajectories; however, the coherence assumption is very restrictive and it enforces trends that may be at odds with data. In this [...] Read more.
The main purpose of coherent mortality models is to produce plausible, joint forecasts for related populations avoiding, e.g., crossing or diverging mortality trajectories; however, the coherence assumption is very restrictive and it enforces trends that may be at odds with data. In this paper we focus on coherent, two-sex mortality models and we prove, under suitable conditions, that the coherence assumption implies sex gap unimodality, i.e., we prove that the difference in life expectancy between women and men will first increase and then decrease. Moreover, we demonstrate that, in the model, the sex gap typically peaks when female life expectancy is between 30 to 50 years. This explains why coherent mortality models predict narrowing sex gaps for essentially all Western European countries and all jump-off years since the 1950s, despite the fact that the actual sex gap was widening until the 1980s. In light of these findings, we discuss the current role of coherence as the gold standard for multi-population mortality models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mortality Modeling and Forecasting)
Article
Full Blood Count Trends for Colorectal Cancer Detection in Primary Care: Development and Validation of a Dynamic Prediction Model
Cancers 2022, 14(19), 4779; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14194779 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Colorectal cancer has low survival rates when late-stage, so earlier detection is important. The full blood count (FBC) is a common blood test performed in primary care. Relevant trends in repeated FBCs are related to colorectal cancer presence. We developed and internally validated [...] Read more.
Colorectal cancer has low survival rates when late-stage, so earlier detection is important. The full blood count (FBC) is a common blood test performed in primary care. Relevant trends in repeated FBCs are related to colorectal cancer presence. We developed and internally validated dynamic prediction models utilising trends for early detection. We performed a cohort study. Sex-stratified multivariate joint models included age at baseline (most recent FBC) and simultaneous trends over historical haemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and platelet measurements up to baseline FBC for two-year risk of diagnosis. Performance measures included the c-statistic and calibration slope. We analysed 250,716 males and 246,695 females in the development cohort and 312,444 males and 462,900 females in the validation cohort, with 0.4% of males and 0.3% of females diagnosed two years after baseline FBC. Compared to average population trends, patient-level declines in haemoglobin and MCV and rise in platelets up to baseline FBC increased risk of diagnosis in two years. C-statistic: 0.751 (males) and 0.763 (females). Calibration slope: 1.06 (males) and 1.05 (females). Our models perform well, with low miscalibration. Utilising trends could bring forward diagnoses to earlier stages and improve survival rates. External validation is now required. Full article
Article
Older People’s Long-Term Care Preferences in China: The Impact of Living with Grandchildren on Older People’s Willingness and Family Decisions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(19), 12455; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191912455 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
The purpose of this paper was to better understand the long-term care preferences of older people based on intergenerational demonstration effects and social exchange theory, derived from the literature on intergenerational family relationships. The authors relied on the 2014 China Longitudinal Ageing Social [...] Read more.
The purpose of this paper was to better understand the long-term care preferences of older people based on intergenerational demonstration effects and social exchange theory, derived from the literature on intergenerational family relationships. The authors relied on the 2014 China Longitudinal Ageing Social Survey database to test the study hypotheses. The results indicated that living with grandchildren was negatively related to the institutional care preferences of older people. Family members’ attitudes and older people’s life satisfaction significantly mediated the relationship between living with grandchildren and their institutional care preferences. Gender and marital status had potentially diverse effects on institutional care preferences. Therefore, in the context of China’s culture of filial piety, social exchange, and intergenerational demonstration, motivation may help foster intergenerational exchange and reciprocity in eldercare arrangements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Aging)
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Article
Developing a Predictive Grading Model for Children with Gliomas Based on Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging Metrics: Accuracy and Clinical Correlations with Patient Survival
Cancers 2022, 14(19), 4778; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14194778 (registering DOI) - 29 Sep 2022
Abstract
Purpose: To develop a predictive grading model based on diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) metrics in children affected by gliomas, and to investigate the clinical impact of the predictive model by correlating with overall survival and progression-free survival. Materials and methods: 59 patients with [...] Read more.
Purpose: To develop a predictive grading model based on diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) metrics in children affected by gliomas, and to investigate the clinical impact of the predictive model by correlating with overall survival and progression-free survival. Materials and methods: 59 patients with a histological diagnosis of glioma were retrospectively studied (33M, 26F, median age 7.2 years). Patients were studied on a 3T scanner with a standardized MR protocol, including conventional and DKI sequences. Mean kurtosis (MK), axial kurtosis (AK), radial kurtosis (RK), fractional anisotropy (FA), and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps were obtained. Whole tumour volumes (VOIs) were segmented semi-automatically. Mean DKI values were calculated for each metric. The quantitative values from DKI-derived metrics were used to develop a predictive grading model to develop a probability prediction of a high-grade glioma (pHGG). Three models were tested: DTI-based, DKI-based, and combined (DTI and DKI). The grading accuracy of the resulting probabilities was tested with a receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis for each model. In order to account for dataset imbalances between pLGG and pHGG, we applied a random synthetic minority oversampling technique (SMOTE) analysis. Lastly, the most accurate model predictions were correlated with progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) using the Kaplan–Meier method. Results: The cohort included 46 patients with pLGG and 13 patients with pHGG. The developed model predictions yielded an AUC of 0.859 (95%CI: 0.752–0.966) for the DTI model, of 0.939 (95%CI: 0.879–1) for the DKI model, and of 0.946 (95%CI: 0.890–1) for the combined model, including input from both DTI and DKI metrics, which resulted in the most accurate model. Sample estimation with the random SMOTE analysis yielded an AUC of 0.98 on the testing set. Model predictions from the combined model were significantly correlated with PFS (25.2 months for pHGG vs. 40.0 months for pLGG, p < 0.001) and OS (28.9 months for pHGG vs. 44.9 months for pLGG, p < 0.001). Conclusions: a DKI-based predictive model was highly accurate for pediatric glioma grading. The combined model, derived from both DTI and DKI metrics, proved that DKI-based model predictions of tumour grade were significantly correlated with progression-free survival and overall survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cancer Causes, Screening and Diagnosis)

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