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Life, Volume 13, Issue 2 (February 2023) – 345 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Some of the icy moons that orbit Jupiter and Saturn, such as Europa and Enceladus, contain a subsurface water ocean that is putatively habitable. Fed with chemical building blocks from silicate mantles, and likely bearers of chemical disequilibria, these water oceans are of high interest for the search of potential extraterrestrial life forms. However, their inaccessibility hinders their sampling with our current technology. In order to inform future in situ space missions to these icy moons, researchers seek places on Earth that mimic specific parameters of interest, the so-called planetary field analogues. Polar regions of the Earth are proven proxies for these icy moons. In this review, we explore how spectroscopic measurements taken on Earth, in particular in its polar regions, may help researchers to identify potential biosignatures on the surfaces of icy moons. View this paper
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18 pages, 2751 KiB  
Article
Determination of Heterogeneous Proteomic and Metabolomic Response in anti-TNF and anti-IL-6 Treatment of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
by Alexander A. Stepanov, Kristina A. Malsagova, Arthur T. Kopylov, Vladimir R. Rudnev, Dmitry E. Karateev, Evgenia I. Markelova, Elena L. Luchikhina, Elena E. Borisova and Anna L. Kaysheva
Life 2023, 13(2), 596; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020596 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1795
Abstract
Reduction in tumor necrosis factor (αTNF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) activities is a widely utilized strategy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with a high success rate. Despite both schemes targeting the deprivation of inflammatory reactions caused by the excessive activity of cytokines, [...] Read more.
Reduction in tumor necrosis factor (αTNF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) activities is a widely utilized strategy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with a high success rate. Despite both schemes targeting the deprivation of inflammatory reactions caused by the excessive activity of cytokines, their mechanisms of action and the final output are still unequal. This was a comparative longitudinal study that lasted for 24 weeks and aimed to find the answer to why the two schemes of therapy can pass out of proportion in attitude of their efficiency. What are the differences in metabolic and proteomic responses among patients who were being treated by either the anti-TNF or anti-IL-6 strategy? We found increased levels of immunoglobulins A and G (more than 2-fold in anti-IL-6 and more than 4-5-fold in anti-TNF groups) at the final stage (24 weeks) of monitoring but the most profound increase was determined for µ-chains of immunoglobulins in both groups of study. Metabolomic changes displayed main alterations with regard to arginine metabolism and collagen maintenance, where arginine increased 8.86-fold (p < 0.001) in anti-TNF and 5.71-fold (p < 0.05) in anti-IL-6 groups but patients treated by the anti-TNF scheme suffered a higher depletion of arginine before the start of therapy. Some indicators of matrix and bone tissue degradation also increased 4-hydroxyproline (4-HP) more than 6-fold (p < 0.001) in anti-TNF and more than 2-fold (p < 0.05) in the anti-IL-6 group, but the growth dynamics in the anti-IL6 group was delayed (gradually raised at week 24) compared to the anti-TNF group (raised at week 12) following a smooth reduction. The ELISA analysis of IL-6 and TNFα concentration in the study population supported proteomic and metabolomic data. A positive correlation between ΔCDAI and ΔDAS28 indicators and ESR and CRP was established for the majority of patients after 24 weeks of treatment where ESR and CRP reduced by 20% and 40% finally, respectively. A regression model using the Forest Plot was estimated to elucidate the impact of the most significant clinical, biochemical, and anthropometric indicators for the evaluation of differences between considered anti-TNF and anti-IL-6 schemes of therapy. Full article
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14 pages, 2899 KiB  
Article
Helixor-M Suppresses Immunostimulatory Activity through TLR4-Dependent NF-κB Pathway in RAW 264.7 Cells
by Doil Park, Hyun Min Ko, Wona Jee, So Mi Park, Ye Rin Park, Ji Hoon Jung, Hyung Suk Kim, Won Seok Chung, Sang Ki Kim, Jong Sup Chung and Hyeung Jin Jang
Life 2023, 13(2), 595; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020595 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 2948
Abstract
Inflammation causes a protective immune response, which can be observed by examining the inflammatory responses of macrophages. Macrophages release various immunostimulatory factors when destroying external pathogens. We induced lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in RAW 264.7 cells, a macrophage cell line, to determine whether Helixor-M can [...] Read more.
Inflammation causes a protective immune response, which can be observed by examining the inflammatory responses of macrophages. Macrophages release various immunostimulatory factors when destroying external pathogens. We induced lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in RAW 264.7 cells, a macrophage cell line, to determine whether Helixor-M can cause immuno-suppression. Helixor-M is known to have anticancer and immune effects. However, an indicator that regulates immunity has not been clearly confirmed. To this end, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay was conducted to confirm Helixor-M was not cytotoxic. Western blotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed the anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, immunofluorescence assay confirmed the translocation of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) p65, a representative inflammatory pathway. Helixor-M was found to be non-cytotoxic, induce the NF-κB pathway, and reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). We found Helixor-M affected the PI3K/AKT/JNK pathway. Therefore, we confirmed Helixor-M acts as an anti-inflammatory agent through NF-κB, TLR4 and PI3K inhibition and that it could be an effective immunosuppressive drug. Full article
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16 pages, 490 KiB  
Article
Effects of Substituting the Two-Spotted Cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus) Meal for Fish Meal on Growth Performances and Digestibility of Striped Snakehead (Channa striata) Juveniles
by Noratat Prachom, Bundit Yuangsoi, Jarongsak Pumnuan, Mohamed Ashour, Simon J. Davies and Ehab El-Haroun
Life 2023, 13(2), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020594 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2477
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate the potential of using field two-spotted cricket Gryllus bimaculatus as the main protein source in fish feed for striped snakehead (Channa striata) juveniles. A 10-week feeding effect on growth performance, feed utilization, digestibility of major nutrients, [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate the potential of using field two-spotted cricket Gryllus bimaculatus as the main protein source in fish feed for striped snakehead (Channa striata) juveniles. A 10-week feeding effect on growth performance, feed utilization, digestibility of major nutrients, including amino acids, and physiological outputs of nitrogen and phosphorus were determined. A total of 225 C. striata juvenile fish (Initial weight, 15.0 ± 0.1 g) were randomly distributed into three dietary groups in triplicate (25 fish per rectangular aquarium within a semi-recirculating system). Each group was hand-fed one of the experimental diets containing the graded level of a cricket meal (CM) replacing 0%, 50%, and 100% (CM0%, CM50%, and CM100%, respectively) of fish meal (FM) protein component. The results showed that growth performance and protein retention tended to increase with increasing dietary CM levels, whereas the waste outputs of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) decreased. Apparent net protein utilization (ANPU) and P retention values increased with increasing levels of cricket meal inclusion level in the diet. There was a significant reduction in both N and P solid waste and dissolved waste output for snakehead with increased CM inclusion. There were significant effects of CM level on fish whole-body composition in terms of elevated protein and fat content. In conclusion, the CM is a viable alternative protein source for aquaculture feeds and can be included up to 100% as a replacement for FM without compromising the growth performance of striped snakehead Channa striata juveniles. This may also have a more favorable impact, with the potential to reduce N and P loading to the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Nutrition, Production, and Welfare)
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14 pages, 1263 KiB  
Review
Varicella-Zoster Virus Prevalence among Pregnant Women: A European Epidemiological Review
by Anna Bertelli, Valentina Carta, Lucia Mangeri, Arnaldo Caruso and Maria Antonia De Francesco
Life 2023, 13(2), 593; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020593 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 6343
Abstract
Europe has faced a massive spread of the varicella-zoster virus through the years. Since the introduction of an effective vaccine, complications and severe forms of chickenpox have been restricted. Nevertheless, among the population, some categories need specific care, such as pregnant women, who [...] Read more.
Europe has faced a massive spread of the varicella-zoster virus through the years. Since the introduction of an effective vaccine, complications and severe forms of chickenpox have been restricted. Nevertheless, among the population, some categories need specific care, such as pregnant women, who present one of the most fragile conditions facing this infection, both for the mother and the fetus. In this review, we highlight how the varicella-zoster virus can be dangerous during pregnancy, underlining the problem of treatment and vaccination, and collect information about the European epidemiology among this particular category of women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Epidemiology)
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12 pages, 3482 KiB  
Article
Santin (5,7-Dihydroxy-3,6,4′-Trimetoxy-Flavone) Enhances TRAIL-Mediated Apoptosis in Colon Cancer Cells
by Małgorzata Kłósek, Dagmara Jaworska, Grażyna Pietsz and Ewelina Szliszka
Life 2023, 13(2), 592; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020592 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1789
Abstract
TRAIL (Tumor necrosis factor–Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand) has the ability to selectively kill cancer cells without being toxic to normal cells. This endogenous ligand plays an important role in surveillance and anti-tumor immunity. However, numerous tumor cells are resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In this [...] Read more.
TRAIL (Tumor necrosis factor–Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand) has the ability to selectively kill cancer cells without being toxic to normal cells. This endogenous ligand plays an important role in surveillance and anti-tumor immunity. However, numerous tumor cells are resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In this study, the apoptotic effect of santin in combination with TRAIL on colon cancer cells was examined. Flow cytometry was used to detect the apoptosis and expression of death receptors (TRAIL-R1/DR4 and TRAIL-R2/DR5). Mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) was evaluated by DePsipher staining with the use of fluorescence microscopy. We have shown for the first time that flavonoid santin synergizes with TRAIL to induce apoptosis in colon cancer cells. Santin induced TRAIL-mediated apoptosis through increased expression of death receptors TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2 and augmented disruption of the mitochondrial membrane in SW480 and SW620 cancer cells. The obtained data may indicate the potential role of santin in colon cancer chemoprevention through the enhancement of TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. Full article
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15 pages, 2801 KiB  
Article
Foliar Fertilizer Application Alters the Effect of Girdling on the Nutrient Contents and Yield of Camellia oleifera
by Shuangling Xie, Dongmei Li, Zhouying Liu, Yuman Wang, Zhihua Ren, Cheng Li, Qinhua Cheng, Juan Liu, Ling Zhang, Linping Zhang and Dongnan Hu
Life 2023, 13(2), 591; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020591 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1535
Abstract
Improving the economic benefits of Camellia oleifera is a major problem for C. oleifera growers, and girdling and foliar fertilizer have significant effects on improving the economic benefits of plants. This study explains the effects of girdling, girdling + foliar fertilizer on nutrient [...] Read more.
Improving the economic benefits of Camellia oleifera is a major problem for C. oleifera growers, and girdling and foliar fertilizer have significant effects on improving the economic benefits of plants. This study explains the effects of girdling, girdling + foliar fertilizer on nutrient distribution, and the economic benefits of C. oleifera at different times. It also explains the N, P, and K contents of roots, leaves, fruits, and flower buds (sampled in March, May, August, and October 2021) and their economic benefits. The results showed girdling promoted the accumulation of N and K in leaves in March 2021 (before spring shoot emergence) but inhibited the accumulation of P, which led to the accumulation of P in roots and that of N in fruits in August 2021 (fruit expansion period). Foliar fertilizer application after girdling replenished the P content of leaves in March 2021, and P continued to accumulate in large quantities at the subsequent sampling time points. The N and P contents of the root system decreased in March. In October (fruit ripening stage), girdled shrubs showed higher contents of N and K in fruits and flower buds, and consequently lower relative contents of N and K in roots and leaves but higher content of P in leaves. Foliar fertilizer application slowed down the effects of girdling on nutrient accumulation in fruits and flower buds. Spraying foliar fertilizer decreased the N:P ratio in the flower buds and fruits of girdled plants. Thus, foliar fertilizer spray weakened the effects of girdling on the nutrient content and economic benefits of C. oleifera. In conclusion, girdling changed the nutrient accumulation pattern in various organs of C. oleifera at different stages, increased leaf N:K ratio before shoot emergence, reduced root K content at the fruit expansion stage and the N:K ratio of mature fruit, and promoted economic benefits. Full article
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11 pages, 1434 KiB  
Article
Altered Language-Related Effective Connectivity in Patients with Benign Childhood Epilepsy with Centrotemporal Spikes
by Fei Yang, Juan Tan, Yue Huang, Ruhui Xiao, Xiaoming Wang and Yanbing Han
Life 2023, 13(2), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020590 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1541
Abstract
Benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS) is one of the most common childhood epilepsy syndromes and may be associated with language deficits. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected from a total of 78 children: 52 patients with BECTS (28 [...] Read more.
Benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS) is one of the most common childhood epilepsy syndromes and may be associated with language deficits. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected from a total of 78 children: 52 patients with BECTS (28 drug-naïve and 24 medicated) and 26 healthy controls (HC). Granger causality analysis (GCA) was used to investigate alterations in effective connectivity (EC) between the language network core node (Broca’s area) and the whole brain. EC from Broca’s area to the left Heschl’s gyrus (HG), right putamen, and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was significantly increased, while EC from the bilateral putamen and left ACC to Broca’s area was significantly decreased in BECTS. Moreover, altered EC of Broca’s area to the right putamen was significantly positively correlated with verbal IQ (VIQ), while altered EC of Broca’s area to the ACC showed significantly negative correlations with the frequency of seizures. Altered EC from the left putamen to Broca’s area was also significantly negatively correlated with performance IQ (PIQ) and full-scale IQ (FSIQ) in the drug-naïve group. In addition, there was a significant positive correlation between the EC of Broca’s area to the left HG and the number of seizures, as well as between the EC of Broca’s area to the right putamen and the age at onset in the medicated group. These findings suggest abnormal causal effects on the language network related to Broca’s area in children with BECTS. Longitudinal investigation of language network development and further follow-up may be needed to illuminate the changes in organization and rebalancing over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Neuroimaging and Brain Functions)
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19 pages, 2333 KiB  
Article
Understanding COVID: Collaborative Government Campaign for Citizen Digital Health Literacy in the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Mónica López-Ventoso, Marta Pisano González, Cristina Fernández García, Isabel Diez Valcarce, Inés Rey Hidalgo, María Jesús Rodríguez Nachón, Ana María Menéndez García, Michelle Perello, Beatrice Avagnina, Oscar Zanutto and Alberto Lana
Life 2023, 13(2), 589; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020589 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1926
Abstract
The strategy “Understanding COVID” was a Public Health campaign designed in 2020 and launched in 2021 in Asturias-Spain to provide reliable and comprehensive information oriented to vulnerable populations. The campaign involved groups considered socially vulnerable and/or highly exposed to COVID-19 infection: shopkeepers and [...] Read more.
The strategy “Understanding COVID” was a Public Health campaign designed in 2020 and launched in 2021 in Asturias-Spain to provide reliable and comprehensive information oriented to vulnerable populations. The campaign involved groups considered socially vulnerable and/or highly exposed to COVID-19 infection: shopkeepers and hoteliers, worship and religious event participants, school children and their families, and scattered rural populations exposed to the digital divide. The purpose of this article was to describe the design of the “Understanding COVID” strategy and the evaluation of the implementation process. The strategy included the design and use of several educational resources and communication strategies, including some hundred online training sessions based on the published studies and adapted to the language and dissemination approaches, that reached 1056 people of different ages and target groups, an accessible website, an informative video channel, posters and other pedagogical actions in education centers. It required a great coordination effort involving different public and third-sector entities to provide the intended pandemic protection and prevention information at that difficult time. A communication strategy was implemented to achieve different goals: reaching a diverse population and adapting the published studies to different ages and groups, focusing on making it comprehensible and accessible for them. In conclusion, given there is a common and sufficiently important goal, it is possible to achieve effective collaboration between different governmental bodies to develop a coordinated strategy to reach the most vulnerable populations while taking into consideration their different interests and needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Digital Health in the Pandemic Era)
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18 pages, 695 KiB  
Review
Addressing Spaceflight Biology through the Lens of a Histologist–Embryologist
by Paschalis Theotokis, Maria Eleni Manthou, Theodora-Eleftheria Deftereou, Dimosthenis Miliaras and Soultana Meditskou
Life 2023, 13(2), 588; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020588 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2110
Abstract
Embryogenesis and fetal development are highly delicate and error-prone processes in their core physiology, let alone if stress-associated factors and conditions are involved. Space radiation and altered gravity are factors that could radically affect fertility and pregnancy and compromise a physiological organogenesis. Unfortunately, [...] Read more.
Embryogenesis and fetal development are highly delicate and error-prone processes in their core physiology, let alone if stress-associated factors and conditions are involved. Space radiation and altered gravity are factors that could radically affect fertility and pregnancy and compromise a physiological organogenesis. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of information examining the effects of cosmic exposures on reproductive and proliferating outcomes with regard to mammalian embryonic development. However, explicit attention has been given to investigations exploring discrete structures and neural networks such as the vestibular system, an entity that is viewed as the sixth sense and organically controls gravity beginning with the prenatal period. The role of the gut microbiome, a newly acknowledged field of research in the space community, is also being challenged to be added in forthcoming experimental protocols. This review discusses the data that have surfaced from simulations or actual space expeditions and addresses developmental adaptations at the histological level induced by an extraterrestrial milieu. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Space Environment on Human Health and Disease)
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19 pages, 2863 KiB  
Article
Prevalence of Serum Antibody Titers against Core Vaccine Antigens in Italian Dogs
by Paola Dall’Ara, Stefania Lauzi, Jari Zambarbieri, Francesco Servida, Laura Barbieri, Roberto Rosenthal, Lauretta Turin, Elena Scarparo and Joel Filipe
Life 2023, 13(2), 587; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020587 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2870
Abstract
Canine vaccination is the main tool for preventing dangerous and widespread diseases. The strongly recommended (core) dog vaccines are against Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2), Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), and Canine Adenovirus (CAdV-1), but vaccination protocols should be tailored to dog lifestyles. Vaccination [...] Read more.
Canine vaccination is the main tool for preventing dangerous and widespread diseases. The strongly recommended (core) dog vaccines are against Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2), Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), and Canine Adenovirus (CAdV-1), but vaccination protocols should be tailored to dog lifestyles. Vaccination guidelines suggest vaccinating adult dogs no more frequently than every 3 years using modified live (attenuated) vaccines (MLV), thus obtaining a long-lasting (sometimes throughout life) specific protection in many but not all animals. The aim of this study was to determine the actual levels of seroprotection against CPV-2, CDV and CAdV-1 in a cohort of Italian dogs by using the in-practice test VacciCheck. A total of 1,027 dogs (951 vaccinated and 76 unvaccinated) were analyzed for Protective Antibody Titers (PATs) against CPV-2, CDV, and CAdV-1. Differences related to sex, age, breed size, health status, and time elapsed since last vaccination were evaluated. Half of the entire canine cohort (50.6%) had PATs for all three viruses (68.5% considering only vaccinated dogs). In particular, 90.8% of dogs were protected against CPV-2, 68.6% against CDV, and 79.8% against CAdV-1. Most dogs remained protected for 3 years after vaccination or longer. Revaccination on a 3-year basis can then be recommended for core MLV vaccines without altering individual’s seroprotection or even herd immunity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Animal Science)
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11 pages, 787 KiB  
Review
SARS-CoV-2 Infection and the Male Reproductive System: A Brief Review
by Vittoria Rago and Anna Perri
Life 2023, 13(2), 586; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020586 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2949
Abstract
Many studies have suggested that SARS-CoV-2, directly or indirectly, can affect the male reproductive system, although the underlined mechanisms have not been completely elucidated yet. The purpose of this review is to provide a summary of the current data concerning the impact of [...] Read more.
Many studies have suggested that SARS-CoV-2, directly or indirectly, can affect the male reproductive system, although the underlined mechanisms have not been completely elucidated yet. The purpose of this review is to provide a summary of the current data concerning the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the male urogenital tract, with a particular emphasis on the testes and male fertility. The main data regarding the morphological alterations in the testes emerged from autoptic studies that revealed interstitial congestion, micro thrombosis, reduction of Sertoli, Leydig, and germinal cells, infiltrated immune cells, and atrophic seminiferous tubules consistent with orchitis. Furthermore, men with severe infection exhibit sperm parameter alterations, together with abnormalities of the hypothalamic–pituitary–testis axis, strongly suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 could increase the risk of male infertility. However, despite the inadequate number of longitudinal studies, spermatogenesis and sex hormone imbalance seem to improve after infection resolution. The yet unresolved question is whether the virus acts in a direct or/and indirect manner, as discordant data related to its presence in the testis and semen have been reported. Regardless of the direct effect, it has been postulated that the cytokine storm and the related local and systemic inflammation could strongly contribute to the onset of testis dysfunction, leading to male infertility. Therefore, multicentric and longitudinal studies involving a large number of patients are needed to understand the real impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on male reproduction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection COVID-19 and Life)
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13 pages, 836 KiB  
Article
Sex-Determined Alteration of Frontal Electroencephalographic (EEG) Activity in Social Presence
by Anna Soiné and Peter Walla
Life 2023, 13(2), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020585 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 2043
Abstract
This study represents a follow-up event-related potential (ERP) analysis of a prior investigation. The previous results showed that participants had most negative-tending ERPs in the mid-frontal brain region during exposure to neutral emotion pictures (compared to negative and positive pictures) while being accompanied [...] Read more.
This study represents a follow-up event-related potential (ERP) analysis of a prior investigation. The previous results showed that participants had most negative-tending ERPs in the mid-frontal brain region during exposure to neutral emotion pictures (compared to negative and positive pictures) while being accompanied by a significant other person (social presence condition). The present analysis aimed at investigating potential sex differences related to this phenomenon. Female and male participants’ brain activity data from the previous study were analyzed separately for one representative mid-frontal electrode location selected on the basis of having the highest significance level. As a result, only female participants showed significantly more negative-tending potentials in response to neutral pictures, compared to both other emotion categories (positive and negative) in the social presence condition. This was not found in male participants. The respective ERP effect was most dominant at 838 ms post stimulus onset, which is slightly later than the effect found in the prior study. However, this result is interpreted as evidence that the general effect from the prior study can be understood as a largely female phenomenon. In line with the prior study, the present results are interpreted as a predominantly female activation in the mid-frontal brain region in response to neutral picture stimuli while being accompanied by a significant other person (social presence condition). Although only speculative, this would align with previous studies demonstrating sex-related hormonal and structural differences in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). In general, ACC activation has been associated with an integrative weighting function in ambiguous social settings, which makes sense given the ambiguous nature of neutral pictures in combination with a social presence condition. Full article
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12 pages, 1794 KiB  
Article
3D Exoscopes in Experimental Microanastomosis: A Comparison of Different Systems
by Ahmad Hafez, Roel Haeren, Justiina Huhtakangas, Ville Nurminen, Mika Niemelä and Martin Lehecka
Life 2023, 13(2), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020584 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 92 | Viewed by 2325
Abstract
Background: In recent years, three-dimensional exoscopes have been increasingly applied in neurosurgery. Multiple exoscopic systems are available, all offering specific features. In this study, we assessed practical and visualization performance of four different exoscopic systems in a highly challenging microsurgical procedure, and [...] Read more.
Background: In recent years, three-dimensional exoscopes have been increasingly applied in neurosurgery. Multiple exoscopic systems are available, all offering specific features. In this study, we assessed practical and visualization performance of four different exoscopic systems in a highly challenging microsurgical procedure, and evaluated whether these affected the quality of work. Methods: We included four different exoscopes: Olympus ORBEYE, Zeiss KINEVO, Storz VITOM, and Aesculap AEOS. With each exoscope, ten experimental bypass procedures were carried out on chicken wing vessels at a depth of 3 cm. We evaluated the quality of the anastomoses, the practical considerations for the setup of the exoscopic systems, and the visualization quality by tracking the number of unnecessary movements. Results: All included exoscopes enabled us to perform the bypass procedures with mostly adequate or excellent results. Surgically, the most pronounced difference between the exoscopes was the duration of the procedure, which was mainly due to the number of unnecessary movements. Practically, the exoscopes differ highly which is important when considering which exoscope to apply. Conclusions: This is the first study comparing different exoscope systems while performing the same challenging microsurgical procedure. We found major practical differences between the exoscopes that determine the suitability of an exoscope based on the demands and conditions of the surgical procedure. Therefore, preprocedural practical training with the exoscope is required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Research)
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20 pages, 2172 KiB  
Article
Embryonic and Larval Development of Stinging Catfish, Heteropneustes fossilis, in Relation to Climatic and Water Quality Parameters
by Balaram Mahalder, Mohammad Mahfujul Haque, Mohammad Abu Baker Siddique, Neaz A. Hasan, Md. Mehedi Alam, Md. Mahamudun Naby Talukdar, Mobin Hossain Shohan, Nusaifa Ahasan, Md. Mahmudul Hasan and A. K. Shakur Ahammad
Life 2023, 13(2), 583; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020583 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5485
Abstract
In terms of hatchery-based seed production, one of the most important aquaculture species in Bangladesh is the stinging catfish (Heteropneustes fossilis). Scientific and evidence-based embryonic and larval development research on this fish species in the context of climate change is limited. [...] Read more.
In terms of hatchery-based seed production, one of the most important aquaculture species in Bangladesh is the stinging catfish (Heteropneustes fossilis). Scientific and evidence-based embryonic and larval development research on this fish species in the context of climate change is limited. This experimental study was conducted via induced breeding of stinging catfish using a conventional hatchery system, rearing the larvae in hapas placed in ponds. A series of microscopic observations using a trinocular digital microscope and an analysis of the relationship between larval growth and climate-driven water quality parameters such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids, alkalinity, and ammonia were performed. During embryonic development, the first cleavage was observed between 30 and 35 min of post-fertilization. Embryonic development (ranging from the 2-cell to the pre-hatching stage) took 21:00 h. Hatching occurred at 22:30 to 23:00 h after fertilization, with an average larvae length of 2.78 ± 0.04 mm. In the post-hatching stage, four pairs of tiny barbels appeared at 36:00 h, and the larvae started feeding exogenously after 72:00 h. These larvae fully absorbed their yolk sacs on the 6th day and attained an average length of 6.44 ± 0.06 mm. Aerial respiration of the larvae was investigated through naked-eye observation on the 10th day of hatching. The average length of the larvae was 32.00 ± 2.0 mm at the end of the 30-day post-hatching observation period. Bivariate correlation analysis showed significant correlations between key climatic variables and water quality parameters under hapa-based larval-rearing conditions. According to canonical correlation analysis, the first canonical function revealed the highest significant correlation between the two sets of variables (r1 = 0.791). The response variable weight of larvae (6.607) was linked to two explanatory variables: pH (0.321) and dissolved oxygen (0.265). For the second canonical correlation function, a positive correlation (0.431) was observed between the two sets of variables. Larval weight (−18.304) was observed to be linked to climatic variables, including air temperature (−0.316) and surface pressure (0.338). Results of this study reveal the subtle correlation between larval growth and water quality driven by climatic variables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lipid Nutrition and Metabolism of Fish)
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11 pages, 775 KiB  
Article
Left Ventricular Unloading in Patients on Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Therapy in Cardiogenic Shock: Prophylactic Versus Bail-Out Strategy
by Darko Radakovic, Armin Zittermann, Sebastian V. Rojas, Dragan Opacic, Artyom Razumov, Emir Prashovikj, Henrik Fox, René Schramm, Michiel Morshuis, Volker Rudolph, Jan Gummert, Christian Flottmann and Marcus-André Deutsch
Life 2023, 13(2), 582; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020582 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2290
Abstract
Background: The benefit of prophylactic left ventricular (LV) unloading during venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) in selected patients at risk of developing LV distension remains unclear. Methods: We enrolled 136 patients treated with Impella pump decompression during VA-ECMO therapy for refractory cardiogenic shock. [...] Read more.
Background: The benefit of prophylactic left ventricular (LV) unloading during venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) in selected patients at risk of developing LV distension remains unclear. Methods: We enrolled 136 patients treated with Impella pump decompression during VA-ECMO therapy for refractory cardiogenic shock. Patients were stratified by specific indication for LV unloading in the prophylactic vs. bail-out group. The bail-out unloading strategy was utilized to treat LV distension in VA-ECMO afterload-associated complications. The primary endpoint was all-cause 30-day mortality after VA-ECMO implantation. The secondary endpoint was successful myocardial recovery, transition to durable mechanical circulatory support (MCS), or heart transplantation. Results: After propensity score matching, prophylactic unloading was associated with a significantly lower 30-day mortality risk (risk ratio 0.38, 95% confidence interval 0.23–0.62, and p < 0.001) and a higher probability of myocardial recovery (risk ratio 2.9, 95% confidence interval 1.48–4.54, and p = 0.001) compared with the bail-out strategy. Heart transplantation or durable MCS did not differ significantly between groups. Conclusions: Prophylactic unloading compared with the bail-out strategy may improve clinical outcomes in selected patients on VA-ECMO. Nevertheless, randomized trials are needed to validate these results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Heart Failure Therapy and Mechanical Circulatory Support)
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13 pages, 860 KiB  
Article
Higher Dietary Vitamin D Intake Influences the Lipid Profile and hs-CRP Concentrations: Cross-Sectional Assessment Based on The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
by Zahra Hariri, Hamed Kord-Varkaneh, Noura Alyahya, Kousalya Prabahar, Mihnea-Alexandru Găman and Ahmed Abu-Zaid
Life 2023, 13(2), 581; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020581 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2207
Abstract
Background. An unanswered question in the field of nutrition is whether there is an association between vitamin D intake and the lipid profile in adults. We conducted this cross-sectional study in order to investigate the impact of vitamin D intake on the lipid [...] Read more.
Background. An unanswered question in the field of nutrition is whether there is an association between vitamin D intake and the lipid profile in adults. We conducted this cross-sectional study in order to investigate the impact of vitamin D intake on the lipid profile of adults in the context of the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Methods. Serum lipids and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) concentrations and the Vitamin D intake in 2588 people aged 19 to 70 years was collected using laboratory analysis and 24-h recall, respectively. The one-way ANOVA test was used to compare quantitative variables and the chi-squared test was used to compare qualitative ones. Multivariate logistic regression for three models was performed to assess the odds ratio (OR) of high total cholesterol (TC) (>200 mg/dL), triglycerides (TG) (>150 mg/dL), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (>115 mg/dL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (<40 mg/dL) and hs-CRP (>1 mg/l) based on the tertiles of dietary vitamin D (D2 + D3) intake. Results. After adjusting for age, sex, race, body mass index, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D2, alcohol intake, energy intake, protein intake, carbohydrate intake, fiber intake and fat intake, individuals in the tertile with the highest versus lowest vitamin D intake (>1 mcg/day vs. <0.10 mcg/day) had lower odds of displaying elevated TC, LDL-C and hs-CRP concentrations (OR 0.57; CI: 0.37 to 0.88; P-trend: 0.045, OR 0.59; CI: 0.34 to 1.01; P-trend: 0.025 and OR 0.67; CI: 0.45 to 0.99; P-trend: 0.048, respectively). Based on the results of the logistic regression, no correlation between vitamin D intake and changes in TG or HDL-C values was noted. Conclusions. Our cross-sectional study indicates that higher dietary vitamin D (D2 + D3) intake is associated with lower TC, LDL-C and hs-CRP levels. No relationship between dietary vitamin D intake and TG or HDL-C values was detected. Further large-scale randomized trials are needed to evaluate the actual association between dietary vitamin D intake and the lipid profile. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Causes and Effects of Nutritional Changes)
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14 pages, 1740 KiB  
Article
Intraobserver and Interobserver Agreement between Six Radiologists Describing mpMRI Features of Prostate Cancer Using a PI-RADS 2.1 Structured Reporting Scheme
by Rafał Jóźwiak, Piotr Sobecki and Tomasz Lorenc
Life 2023, 13(2), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020580 - 19 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2010
Abstract
Clinical practice has revealed ambiguities in PI-RADS v2.1 scoring, but a limited number of studies are available that validate the interreader and intrareader reproducibility of the mpMRI PI-RADS lexicon. We decomposed the PI-RADS rules into a set of common data elements to evaluate [...] Read more.
Clinical practice has revealed ambiguities in PI-RADS v2.1 scoring, but a limited number of studies are available that validate the interreader and intrareader reproducibility of the mpMRI PI-RADS lexicon. We decomposed the PI-RADS rules into a set of common data elements to evaluate the inter- and intraobserver agreement in assessing the individual features included in the PI-RADS lexicon. Six radiologists (three highly experienced, three less experienced) in two sessions independently read thirty-two lesions in the peripheral and transition zone using the structured reporting tool, blinded to clinical MRI indication. The highest agreement between radiologists was observed for the abnormality detection, the evaluation of the type of signal intensity, and the characteristic of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Moderate agreement was reported for dynamic contrast-enhanced images. This resulted in a decrease in abnormality detection (PA = 76.5%) and enhancement indication (PA = 77.3%). The lowest agreement was observed for highly subjective features: shape, signal intensity level, and type of lesion margins. The results indicate the limitations of the PI-RADS v2.1 lexicon in relation to interreader and intrareader reproducibility. We have demonstrated that it is possible to develop structured reporting systems standardized according to the PI-RADS lexicon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MRI in Cancer: Ongoing Developments and Controversies)
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13 pages, 3076 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Morphological and Structural Skin Alterations on Diabetic Subjects by Biophysical and Imaging Techniques
by Veronica Rego Moraes, Maisa Oliveira Melo and Patrícia M. B. G. Maia Campos
Life 2023, 13(2), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020579 - 18 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2270
Abstract
Diabetes causes increased production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which may lead to irreversible damage to collagen fibers, and early and more accentuated signs of skin aging. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate diabetic skin’s mechanical and morphological characteristics [...] Read more.
Diabetes causes increased production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which may lead to irreversible damage to collagen fibers, and early and more accentuated signs of skin aging. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate diabetic skin’s mechanical and morphological characteristics and compare these to healthy skin. Twenty-eight female participants aged between 39 and 55 years were enrolled: half had type 2 diabetes, and the others were healthy. Wrinkles, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum water content, skin color, elasticity, morphological and structural characteristics of epidermis and dermis echogenicity were evaluated using biophysical and skin imaging techniques. Higher TEWL values were observed in participants with diabetes, who also showed lower skin elasticity and wrinkles with greater volume, area, and depth. In addition, the Reflectance Confocal Microscopy (RCM) imaging analysis showed that all participants with diabetes presented polycyclic papillae and deformed and amorphous collagen fibers. The obtained data showed significant differences between healthy and diabetic skin and could help develop more specific topical treatments to improve the treatment of skin conditions in people with diabetes. Finally, RCM is an advanced imaging technique that allows for a more profound analysis of diabetic skin, which could assist in the evaluation of dermocosmetic treatments to improve the skin alterations caused by this disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Skin Homeostasis: Mechanisms, Communication Routes, and Imbalances)
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14 pages, 43197 KiB  
Communication
Molecular Dynamics Simulation of the Complex of PDE5 and Evodiamine
by Ayame Kobayashi, Motokuni Nakajima, Yoh Noguchi, Ryota Morikawa, Yukiko Matsuo and Masako Takasu
Life 2023, 13(2), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020578 - 18 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1544
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible neurological disorder for which there are no effective small molecule therapeutics. A phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor is a candidate medicine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Rutaecarpine, an indole alkaloid found in Euodiae Fructus, has inhibitory activity [...] Read more.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible neurological disorder for which there are no effective small molecule therapeutics. A phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor is a candidate medicine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Rutaecarpine, an indole alkaloid found in Euodiae Fructus, has inhibitory activity for PDE5. Euodiae Fructus contains more evodiamine than rutaecarpine. Therefore, we performed molecular dynamics simulations of the complex of PDE5 and evodiamine. The results showed that the PDE5 and (−)-evodiamine complexes were placed inside the reaction center compared to the case of PDE5 and (+)-evodiamine complex. The binding of (−)-evodiamine to PDE5 increased the root-mean-square deviation and radius of gyration of PDE5. In the PDE5 with (−)-evodiamine complex, the value of the root-mean-square fluctuation of the M-loop, which is thought to be important for activity, increased. This result suggests that (−)-evodiamine may have inhibitory activity. Full article
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15 pages, 2022 KiB  
Article
Proteomic Analysis of Ferrochelatase Interactome in Erythroid and Non-Erythroid Cells
by Chibuike David Obi, Harry A. Dailey, Yasaman Jami-Alahmadi, James A. Wohlschlegel and Amy E. Medlock
Life 2023, 13(2), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020577 - 18 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2350
Abstract
Heme is an essential cofactor for multiple cellular processes in most organisms. In developing erythroid cells, the demand for heme synthesis is high, but is significantly lower in non-erythroid cells. While the biosynthesis of heme in metazoans is well understood, the tissue-specific regulation [...] Read more.
Heme is an essential cofactor for multiple cellular processes in most organisms. In developing erythroid cells, the demand for heme synthesis is high, but is significantly lower in non-erythroid cells. While the biosynthesis of heme in metazoans is well understood, the tissue-specific regulation of the pathway is less explored. To better understand this, we analyzed the mitochondrial heme metabolon in erythroid and non-erythroid cell lines from the perspective of ferrochelatase (FECH), the terminal enzyme in the heme biosynthetic pathway. Affinity purification of FLAG-tagged-FECH, together with mass spectrometric analysis, was carried out to identify putative protein partners in human and murine cell lines. Proteins involved in the heme biosynthetic process and mitochondrial organization were identified as the core components of the FECH interactome. Interestingly, in non-erythroid cell lines, the FECH interactome is highly enriched with proteins associated with the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Overall, our study shows that the mitochondrial heme metabolon in erythroid and non-erythroid cells has similarities and differences, and suggests new roles for the mitochondrial heme metabolon and heme in regulating metabolic flux and key cellular processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heme Metabolism and Porphyria)
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15 pages, 4036 KiB  
Article
Designing a Novel Monitoring Approach for the Effects of Space Travel on Astronauts’ Health
by Anurag Sakharkar and Jian Yang
Life 2023, 13(2), 576; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020576 - 18 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3233
Abstract
Space exploration and extraterrestrial civilization have fascinated humankind since the earliest days of human history. It was only in the last century that humankind finally began taking significant steps towards these goals by sending astronauts into space, landing on the moon, and building [...] Read more.
Space exploration and extraterrestrial civilization have fascinated humankind since the earliest days of human history. It was only in the last century that humankind finally began taking significant steps towards these goals by sending astronauts into space, landing on the moon, and building the International Space Station. However, space voyage is very challenging and dangerous, and astronauts are under constant space radiation and microgravity. It has been shown that astronauts are at a high risk of developing a broad range of diseases/disorders. Thus, it is critical to develop a rapid and effective assay to monitor astronauts’ health in space. In this study, gene expression and correlation patterns were analyzed for 10 astronauts (8 male and 2 female) using the publicly available microarray dataset E-GEOD-74708. We identified 218 differentially expressed genes between In-flight and Pre-flight and noticed that space travel decreased genome regulation and gene correlations across the entire genome, as well as individual signaling pathways. Furthermore, we systematically developed a shortlist of 32 genes that could be used to monitor astronauts’ health during space travel. Further studies, including microgravity experiments, are warranted to optimize and validate the proposed assay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Space Biology)
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25 pages, 2502 KiB  
Review
Photobiomodulation with Blue Light on Wound Healing: A Scoping Review
by Thais P. Prado, Flávia Cristina Zanchetta, Beatriz Barbieri, Caroline Aparecido, Maria Helena Melo Lima and Eliana P. Araujo
Life 2023, 13(2), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020575 - 18 Feb 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 6043
Abstract
Background: Photobiomodulation consists of inducing healing by irradiating light. This scoping review investigates the effect of blue light on the healing process. Methods: The MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, and CINAHL databases were searched. Two reviewers independently examined the search results and extracted [...] Read more.
Background: Photobiomodulation consists of inducing healing by irradiating light. This scoping review investigates the effect of blue light on the healing process. Methods: The MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, and CINAHL databases were searched. Two reviewers independently examined the search results and extracted data from the included studies. A descriptive analysis was performed. Results: Twenty-two articles were included. Studies were categorized as in vitro/mixed, preclinical, and clinical. The power density used was 10–680 mW/cm2 in most of the in vitro/preclinical studies, the irradiation time ranged from 5 s to 10 min, and different wavelengths and energy densities were used. In clinical studies, the wavelength ranged from 405 to 470 nm, and the energy density varied from 1.5 to 30 J/cm2. Conclusions: A low energy density (<20 J/cm2) was able to stimulate the different cell types and proteins involved in healing, while a high energy density, 20.6–50 J/cm2, significantly reduced cell proliferation, migration, and metabolism. There is a great variety of device parameters among studies, and this makes it difficult to conclude what the best technical specifications are. Thus, further studies should be performed in order to define the appropriate parameters of light to be used. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Blue Light and Wound Healing)
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19 pages, 2636 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Suitability of a Virtual ‘Pink Warrior’ for Older Breast Cancer Survivors during COVID-19: A Pilot Study
by Maria C. Swartz, Michael C. Robertson, Ursela Christopherson, Stephanie J. Wells, Zakkoyya H. Lewis, Jinbing Bai, Michael D. Swartz, H. Colleen Silva, Eloisa Martinez and Elizabeth J. Lyons
Life 2023, 13(2), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020574 - 18 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2080
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the conduct of in-person physical activity (PA) interventions among older survivors of BC, who need such interventions to stay active and prevent functional decline. We tested the feasibility of virtually delivering an exergame-based PA intervention to older BC survivors. [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the conduct of in-person physical activity (PA) interventions among older survivors of BC, who need such interventions to stay active and prevent functional decline. We tested the feasibility of virtually delivering an exergame-based PA intervention to older BC survivors. We enrolled 20 female BC survivors ≥55 years and randomly assigned them to two groups. The intervention group (Pink Warrior 2) received 12 weekly virtual exergame sessions with behavioral coaching, survivorship navigation support, and a Fitbit for self-monitoring. The control group received 12 weekly phone-based survivorship discussion sessions and wore a Mi Band 3. Feasibility was evaluated by rates of recruitment (≥0.92 participants/center/month), retention (≥80%), and group attendance (≥10 sessions), percentage of completed virtual assessments, and number of technology-related issues and adverse events. Intervention acceptability was measured by participants’ ratings on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The recruitment rate was 1.93. The retention and attendance rates were 90% and 88% (≥10 sessions), respectively. Ninety-six percent completed virtual assessments without an adverse event. Acceptability was high (≥4). The intervention met benchmarks for feasibility. Additional research is needed to further understand the impact of virtually delivered PA interventions on older BC survivors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Digital Health in the Pandemic Era)
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20 pages, 2211 KiB  
Article
In Situ Gel with Silver Nanoparticles Prepared Using Agrimonia eupatoria L. Shows Antibacterial Activity
by Ľudmila Balážová, Tomáš Wolaschka, Simona Rohaľová, Nina Daneu, Martin Stahorský, Aneta Salayová, Ľudmila Tkáčiková and Jarmila Eftimová
Life 2023, 13(2), 573; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020573 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2059
Abstract
Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) with antibacterial activity can be prepared in different ways. In our case, we used ecological green synthesis with Agrimonia eupatoria L. The plant extract was used with Ag NPs for the first time to prepare termosensitive in situ gels [...] Read more.
Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) with antibacterial activity can be prepared in different ways. In our case, we used ecological green synthesis with Agrimonia eupatoria L. The plant extract was used with Ag NPs for the first time to prepare termosensitive in situ gels (ISGs). Such gels are used to heal human or animal skin and mucous membranes, as they can change from a liquid to solid state after application. Ag NPs were characterized with various techniques (FTIR, TEM, size distribution, zeta potential) and their antibacterial activity was tested against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. In accordance with the TEM data, we prepared monodispersed spherical Ag NPs with an average size of about 20 nm. Organic active compounds from Agrimonia eupatoria L. were found on their surfaces using FTIR spectroscopy. Surprisingly, only the in situ gel with Ag NPs showed antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, while Ag NPs alone did not. Ag NPs prepared via green synthesis using plants with medicinal properties and incorporated into ISGs have great potential for wound healing due to the antibacterial activity of Ag NPs and the dermatological activity of organic substances from plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Synthetic Biology and Systems Biology)
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28 pages, 4462 KiB  
Article
Numerical Response of Owls to the Dampening of Small Mammal Population Cycles in Latvia
by Andris Avotins, Andris Avotins, Sr., Viesturs Ķerus and Ainars Aunins
Life 2023, 13(2), 572; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020572 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1838
Abstract
Strong numerical and functional responses of owls to voles in cyclic environments are well known. However, there is insufficient knowledge from the boreonemoral region in particular, with depleted populations of small mammals. In this study, we describe the dynamics of the small mammal [...] Read more.
Strong numerical and functional responses of owls to voles in cyclic environments are well known. However, there is insufficient knowledge from the boreonemoral region in particular, with depleted populations of small mammals. In this study, we describe the dynamics of the small mammal population in Latvia from 1991 to 2016 and link them to owl population characteristics. We used food niche breadth, number of fledglings, and population trends to lay out the numerical response of six owl species to dampened small mammal population cycles. We found temporarily increasing food niche breadth in tawny and Ural owls. There were no other responses in the tawny owl, whereas the breeding performance of three forest specialist species—pygmy, Tengmalm’s, and Ural owls—corresponded to the vole crash years in Fennoscandia. Moreover, the populations of forest specialist owls decreased, and the change in the Ural owl population can be attributed to the depletion of small mammal populations. We found evidence of a carry-over effect in the eagle owl arising from a strong correlation of declining breeding performance with the small mammal abundance indices in the previous autumn. We conclude that dampening of the small mammal population cycles is an important covariate of the likely effects of habitat destruction that needs to be investigated further, with stronger responses in more specialized (to prey or habitat) species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abundance and Dynamics of Small Mammals and Their Predators)
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18 pages, 1954 KiB  
Article
Hippocampal Metabolic Alterations in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study
by Foteini Christidi, Georgios D. Argyropoulos, Efstratios Karavasilis, Georgios Velonakis, Vasiliki Zouvelou, Panagiotis Kourtesis, Varvara Pantoleon, Ee Ling Tan, Ariadne Daponte, Stavroula Aristeidou, Sofia Xirou, Panagiotis Ferentinos, Ioannis Evdokimidis, Michail Rentzos, Ioannis Seimenis and Peter Bede
Life 2023, 13(2), 571; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020571 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4061
Abstract
Background: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been overwhelmingly applied to motor regions to date and our understanding of frontotemporal metabolic signatures is relatively limited. The association between metabolic alterations and cognitive performance in also poorly characterised. Material and [...] Read more.
Background: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been overwhelmingly applied to motor regions to date and our understanding of frontotemporal metabolic signatures is relatively limited. The association between metabolic alterations and cognitive performance in also poorly characterised. Material and Methods: In a multimodal, prospective pilot study, the structural, metabolic, and diffusivity profile of the hippocampus was systematically evaluated in patients with ALS. Patients underwent careful clinical and neurocognitive assessments. All patients were non-demented and exhibited normal memory performance. 1H-MRS spectra of the right and left hippocampi were acquired at 3.0T to determine the concentration of a panel of metabolites. The imaging protocol also included high-resolution T1-weighted structural imaging for subsequent hippocampal grey matter (GM) analyses and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for the tractographic evaluation of the integrity of the hippocampal perforant pathway zone (PPZ). Results: ALS patients exhibited higher hippocampal tNAA, tNAA/tCr and tCho bilaterally, despite the absence of volumetric and PPZ diffusivity differences between the two groups. Furthermore, superior memory performance was associated with higher hippocampal tNAA/tCr bilaterally. Both longer symptom duration and greater functional disability correlated with higher tCho levels. Conclusion: Hippocampal 1H-MRS may not only contribute to a better academic understanding of extra-motor disease burden in ALS, but given its sensitive correlations with validated clinical metrics, it may serve as practical biomarker for future clinical and clinical trial applications. Neuroimaging protocols in ALS should incorporate MRS in addition to standard structural, functional, and diffusion sequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research Updates on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
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10 pages, 1463 KiB  
Communication
Effects of E’Jiao on Skeletal Mineralisation, Osteocyte and WNT Signalling Inhibitors in Ovariectomised Rats
by Kok-Yong Chin, Ben Nett Ng, Muhd Khairik Imran Rostam, Nur Farah Dhaniyah Muhammad Fadzil, Vaishnavi Raman, Farzana Mohamed Yunus, Wun Fui Mark-Lee, Yan Yi Chong, Jing Qian, Yan Zhang, Haibin Qu, Syed Alhafiz Syed Hashim and Sophia Ogechi Ekeuku
Life 2023, 13(2), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020570 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1835
Abstract
E’Jiao is a traditional Chinese medicine derived from donkey skin. E’Jiao is reported to suppress elevated bone remodelling in ovariectomised rats but its mechanism of action is not known. To bridge this research gap, the current study aims to investigate the effects of [...] Read more.
E’Jiao is a traditional Chinese medicine derived from donkey skin. E’Jiao is reported to suppress elevated bone remodelling in ovariectomised rats but its mechanism of action is not known. To bridge this research gap, the current study aims to investigate the effects of E’Jiao on skeletal mineralisation, osteocyte and WNT signalling inhibitors in ovariectomised rats. Female Sprague–Dawley rats (3 months old) were ovariectomised and supplemented with E’Jiao at 0.26 g/kg, 0.53 g/kg and 1.06 g/kg, or 1% calcium carbonate (w/v) in drinking water. The rats were euthanised after two months of supplementation and their bones were collected for Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, histomorphometry and protein analysis. Neither ovariectomy nor treatment affected the skeletal mineral/matrix ratio, osteocyte number, empty lacunar number, and Dickkopf-1 and sclerostin protein levels (p > 0.05). Rats treated with calcium carbonate had a higher Dickkopf-1 level than baseline (p = 0.002) and E’Jiao at 0.53 g/kg (p = 0.002). In conclusion, E’Jiao has no significant effect on skeletal mineralisation, osteocyte and WNT signalling inhibitors in ovariectomised rats. The skeletal effect of E’Jiao might not be mediated through osteocytes. Full article
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32 pages, 1472 KiB  
Review
Epigenetic Modification Factors and microRNAs Network Associated with Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells toward Cardiomyocytes: A Review
by Afshin Zare, Aria Salehpour, Arezoo Khoradmehr, Shabnam Bakhshalizadeh, Vahid Najafzadeh, Sahar Almasi-Turk, Mahdi Mahdipour, Reza Shirazi and Amin Tamadon
Life 2023, 13(2), 569; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020569 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2469
Abstract
More research is being conducted on myocardial cell treatments utilizing stem cell lines that can develop into cardiomyocytes. All of the forms of cardiac illnesses have shown to be quite amenable to treatments using embryonic (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In [...] Read more.
More research is being conducted on myocardial cell treatments utilizing stem cell lines that can develop into cardiomyocytes. All of the forms of cardiac illnesses have shown to be quite amenable to treatments using embryonic (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In the present study, we reviewed the differentiation of these cell types into cardiomyocytes from an epigenetic standpoint. We also provided a miRNA network that is devoted to the epigenetic commitment of stem cells toward cardiomyocyte cells and related diseases, such as congenital heart defects, comprehensively. Histone acetylation, methylation, DNA alterations, N6-methyladenosine (m6a) RNA methylation, and cardiac mitochondrial mutations are explored as potential tools for precise stem cell differentiation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Mesenchymal (hMSC) and Induced Pluripotent (hiPSC) Stem Cells)
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26 pages, 1976 KiB  
Review
Novel Approaches in the Drug Development and Delivery Systems for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
by Himanshu Paliwal, Bhupendra Gopalbhai Prajapati, Teerapol Srichana, Sudarshan Singh and Ravish J. Patel
Life 2023, 13(2), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020568 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3729
Abstract
The number of patients with ocular disorders has increased due to contributing factors such as aging populations, environmental changes, smoking, genetic abnormalities, etc. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the common ocular disorders which may advance to loss of vision in severe [...] Read more.
The number of patients with ocular disorders has increased due to contributing factors such as aging populations, environmental changes, smoking, genetic abnormalities, etc. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the common ocular disorders which may advance to loss of vision in severe cases. The advanced form of AMD is classified into two types, dry (non-exudative) and wet (exudative) AMD. Although several therapeutic approaches are explored for the management of AMD, no approved therapy can substantially slow down the progression of dry AMD into the later stages. The focus of researchers in recent times has been engaged in developing targeted therapeutic products to halt the progression and maintain or improve vision in individuals diagnosed with AMD. The delivery of anti-VEGF agents using intravitreal therapy has found some success in managing AMD, and novel formulation approaches have been introduced in various studies to potentiate the efficacy. Some of the novel approaches, such as hydrogel, microspheres, polymeric nanoparticles, liposomes, implants, etc. have been discussed. Apart from this, subretinal, suprachoroidal, and port delivery systems have also been investigated for biologics and gene therapies. The unmet potential of approved therapeutic products has contributed to several patent applications in recent years. This review outlines the current treatment options, outcomes of recent research studies, and patent details around the novel drug delivery approach for the treatment of AMD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Age-Related Macular Degeneration: From Mechanisms to Therapy)
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23 pages, 7463 KiB  
Systematic Review
A Preclinical Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Behavior Testing in Mice Models of Ischemic Stroke
by Ianis Kevyn Stefan Boboc, Alexandra Daniela Rotaru-Zavaleanu, Daniela Calina, Carmen Valeria Albu, Bogdan Catalin and Adina Turcu-Stiolica
Life 2023, 13(2), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020567 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2474
Abstract
Stroke remains one of the most important causes of death and disability. Preclinical research is a powerful tool for understanding the molecular and cellular response to stroke. However, a lack of standardization in animal evaluation does not always ensure reproducible results. In the [...] Read more.
Stroke remains one of the most important causes of death and disability. Preclinical research is a powerful tool for understanding the molecular and cellular response to stroke. However, a lack of standardization in animal evaluation does not always ensure reproducible results. In the present study, we wanted to identify the best strategy for evaluating animal behavior post-experimental stroke. As such, a meta-analysis was made, evaluating behavioral tests done on male C57BL/6 mice subjected to stroke or sham surgery. Overall, fifty-six studies were included. Our results suggest that different types of tests should be used depending on the post-stroke period one needs to analyze. In the hyper-acute, post-stroke period, the best quantifier will be animal examination scoring, as it is a fast and inexpensive way to identify differences between groups. When evaluating stoke mice in the acute phase, a mix of animal examination and motor tests that focus on movement asymmetry (foot-fault and cylinder testing) seem to have the best chance of picking up differences between groups. Complex tasks (the rotarod test and Morris water maze) should be used within the chronic phase to evaluate differences between the late-subacute and chronic phases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Research)
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