Annual Report 2022
released!
 
Review
Current State of Knowledge Regarding WHO High Priority Pathogens—Resistance Mechanisms and Proposed Solutions through Candidates such as Essential Oils: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(11), 9727; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24119727 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is among the 10 global health issues identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021. While AMR is a naturally occurring process, the inappropriate use of antibiotics in different settings and legislative gaps has led to its rapid [...] Read more.
Combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is among the 10 global health issues identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021. While AMR is a naturally occurring process, the inappropriate use of antibiotics in different settings and legislative gaps has led to its rapid progression. As a result, AMR has grown into a serious global menace that impacts not only humans but also animals and, ultimately, the entire environment. Thus, effective prophylactic measures, as well as more potent and non-toxic antimicrobial agents, are pressingly needed. The antimicrobial activity of essential oils (EOs) is supported by consistent research in the field. Although EOs have been used for centuries, they are newcomers when it comes to managing infections in clinical settings; it is mainly because methodological settings are largely non-overlapping and there are insufficient data regarding EOs’ in vivo activity and toxicity. This review considers the concept of AMR and its main determinants, the modality by which the issue has been globally addressed and the potential of EOs as alternative or auxiliary therapy. The focus is shifted towards the pathogenesis, mechanism of resistance and activity of several EOs against the six high priority pathogens listed by WHO in 2017, for which new therapeutic solutions are pressingly required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antibacterial Activity of Drug-Resistant Strains)
Review
The Emerging, Multifaceted Role of WTAP in Cancer and Cancer Therapeutics
Cancers 2023, 15(11), 3053; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers15113053 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Cancer is a grave and persistent illness, with the rates of both its occurrence and death toll increasing at an alarming pace. N6-methyladenosine (m6A), the most prevalent mRNA modification in eukaryotic organisms, is catalyzed by methyltransferases and has a significant impact [...] Read more.
Cancer is a grave and persistent illness, with the rates of both its occurrence and death toll increasing at an alarming pace. N6-methyladenosine (m6A), the most prevalent mRNA modification in eukaryotic organisms, is catalyzed by methyltransferases and has a significant impact on various aspects of cancer progression. WT1-associated protein (WTAP) is a crucial component of the m6A methyltransferase complex, catalyzing m6A methylation on RNA. It has been demonstrated to participate in numerous cellular pathophysiological processes, including X chromosome inactivation, cell proliferation, cell cycle regulation, and alternative splicing. A better understanding of the role of WTAP in cancer may render it a reliable factor for early diagnosis and prognosis, as well as a key therapeutic target for cancer treatment. It has been found that WTAP is closely related to tumor cell cycle regulation, metabolic regulation, autophagy, tumor immunity, ferroptosis, epithelial mesenchymal transformation (EMT), and drug resistance. In this review, we will focus on the latest advances in the biological functions of WTAP in cancer, and explore the prospects of its application in clinical diagnosis and therapy. Full article
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Article
Accurate SARC-F Score in Patients with Liver Disease
Diagnostics 2023, 13(11), 1959; https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics13111959 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
SARC-F is a well-accepted screening tool for sarcopenia. A SARC-F value of 1 point is reported to be more discriminating in identifying sarcopenia than 4 points (recommended cutoff point). The prognostic impact of the SARC-F score was investigated in patients with liver disease [...] Read more.
SARC-F is a well-accepted screening tool for sarcopenia. A SARC-F value of 1 point is reported to be more discriminating in identifying sarcopenia than 4 points (recommended cutoff point). The prognostic impact of the SARC-F score was investigated in patients with liver disease (LD, n = 269, median age = 71 years, 96 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cases). Factors associated with SARC-F ≥ 4 points and SARC-F ≥ 1 point were also examined. In the multivariate analysis, age (p = 0.048), and Geriatric Nutritional Risk Index (GNRI) score (p = 0.0365) were significant factors linked to SARC-F ≥ 1 point. In our patients with LD, the SARC-F score is well correlated with the GNRI score. The 1-year cumulative overall survival ratio in patients with SARC-F ≥ 1 (n = 159) and SARC-F 0 (n = 110) was 78.3% and 90.1% (p = 0.0181). After excluding 96 HCC cases, similar tendencies were found (p = 0.0289). In the receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis based on the prognosis for the SARC-F score, the area under the ROC was 0.60. The sensitivity was 0.57, the specificity was 0.62, and the optimal cutoff point of the SARC-F score was 1. In conclusion, sarcopenia in LDs can be affected by nutritional conditions. A SARC-F score of ≥1 is more useful than a score of 4 in predicting the prognosis of patients with LD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pathology and Molecular Diagnostics)
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Article
Impact of Salinity, Elevated Temperature, and Their Interaction with the Photosynthetic Efficiency of Halophyte Crop Chenopodium quinoa Willd
Agriculture 2023, 13(6), 1198; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13061198 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Chenopodium quinoa is a genetically diverse crop that can adapt to a wide range of environments, including temperatures and salinities. However, only a few studies have assessed the combined effects of two or more environmental factors on C. quinoa. Here, we investigated the [...] Read more.
Chenopodium quinoa is a genetically diverse crop that can adapt to a wide range of environments, including temperatures and salinities. However, only a few studies have assessed the combined effects of two or more environmental factors on C. quinoa. Here, we investigated the effects of salinity (300 mM NaCl), elevated temperature (35 °C), and their interaction with growth, water–salt balance, the efficiency of photosystem II (PSII), the activity of cyclic electron transport (CET) around photosystem I (PSI), Rubisco and PEPC enzyme content, and the expression of photosynthetic genes. We found that elevated temperature did not decrease the biomass but caused a significant increase in the water and potassium content of C. quinoa leaves. The decrease in PSII efficiency under elevated temperature was accompanied by an increase in the expression of genes encoding the components of PSII (psbA) and linear electron transport (FDI), as well as the main photosynthetic protein Rubisco (rbcL). Moreover, the strongest effect was induced by the combined effect of elevated temperature and salinity, which induced high oxidative stress (a threefold increase in MDA), a threefold decrease in the biomass, a twofold decrease in PSII efficiency, and a two- to eightfold decrease in the expression of the photosynthetic genes psbA, FDI, and rbcL. PSI was more tolerant to all forms of stress; however, the combined effect of elevated temperature and salinity downregulated the expression of PGR5 and FNR1, which may diminish the role of PGR5/PGRL1-dependent CET in favor of the NDH-dependent CET of PSI. The obtained data on the functioning of photosystems and the expression of photosynthetic genes under combined stress (elevated temperature and salinity) can make a significant contribution to understanding the mechanisms of tolerance of C. quinoa to multiple stresses under climate change conditions. Full article
Article
Tumoricidal Activity of Simvastatin in Synergy with RhoA Inactivation in Antimigration of Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(11), 9738; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24119738 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Among kidney cancers, clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) has the highest incidence rate in adults. The survival rate of patients diagnosed as having metastatic ccRCC drastically declines even with intensive treatment. We examined the efficacy of simvastatin, a lipid-lowering drug with reduced [...] Read more.
Among kidney cancers, clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) has the highest incidence rate in adults. The survival rate of patients diagnosed as having metastatic ccRCC drastically declines even with intensive treatment. We examined the efficacy of simvastatin, a lipid-lowering drug with reduced mevalonate synthesis, in ccRCC treatment. Simvastatin was found to reduce cell viability and increase autophagy induction and apoptosis. In addition, it reduced cell metastasis and lipid accumulation, the target proteins of which can be reversed through mevalonate supplementation. Moreover, simvastatin suppressed cholesterol synthesis and protein prenylation that is essential for RhoA activation. Simvastatin might also reduce cancer metastasis by suppressing the RhoA pathway. A gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) of the human ccRCC GSE53757 data set revealed that the RhoA and lipogenesis pathways are activated. In simvastatin-treated ccRCC cells, although RhoA was upregulated, it was mainly restrained in the cytosolic fraction and concomitantly reduced Rho-associated protein kinase activity. RhoA upregulation might be a negative feedback effect owing to the loss of RhoA activity caused by simvastatin, which can be restored by mevalonate. RhoA inactivation by simvastatin was correlated with decreased cell metastasis in the transwell assay, which was mimicked in dominantly negative RhoA-overexpressing cells. Thus, owing to the increased RhoA activation and cell metastasis in the human ccRCC dataset analysis, simvastatin-mediated Rho inactivation might serve as a therapeutic target for ccRCC patients. Altogether, simvastatin suppressed the cell viability and metastasis of ccRCC cells; thus, it is a potentially effective ccRCC adjunct therapy after clinical validation for ccRCC treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Oncology)
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Article
Improving Surface Wear Resistance of Polyimide by Inserting KH550 Grafted GO
Polymers 2023, 15(11), 2577; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15112577 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
To improve the wear resistance of polyimide (PI), surface modification was developed. In this study, the tribological properties of graphene (GN), graphene oxide (GO), and KH550-grafted graphene oxide (K5-GO) modified PI were evaluated by molecular dynamics (MD) at the atomic level. The findings [...] Read more.
To improve the wear resistance of polyimide (PI), surface modification was developed. In this study, the tribological properties of graphene (GN), graphene oxide (GO), and KH550-grafted graphene oxide (K5-GO) modified PI were evaluated by molecular dynamics (MD) at the atomic level. The findings indicated that the addition of nanomaterials can significantly enhance the friction performance of PI. The friction coefficient of PI composites decreased from 0.253 to 0.232, 0.136, and 0.079 after coating GN, GO and K5-GO, respectively. Among them, the K5-GO/PI exhibited the best surface wear resistance. Importantly, the mechanism behind the modification of PI was thoroughly revealed by observing the wear state, analyzing the changes of interfacial interactions, interfacial temperature, and relative concentration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Tribology of Polymer Composites)
Article
High-Capacitance Manganese Dioxide Oxide/Carbon Nanotube/Carbon Felt as a Bioanode for Enhanced Energy Output in Microbial Fuel Cells
Coatings 2023, 13(6), 1043; https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings13061043 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology can potentially recover bioelectricity from wastewater. However, its practical applications have been limited because of its low power density and since the energy generated from an MFC cannot be stored. In this study, manganese dioxide (MnO2) [...] Read more.
Microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology can potentially recover bioelectricity from wastewater. However, its practical applications have been limited because of its low power density and since the energy generated from an MFC cannot be stored. In this study, manganese dioxide (MnO2) coupled with carbon nanotubes (CNT) was chosen to in situ modify carbon felt (CF) as a capacitive bioanode (CF/CNT/MnO2) to improve the power generation and energy storage of MFCs. The maximum power density of the MFC with the MnO2-CNT-modified bioanode reached 3471.6 mW m3, which was 1.96 times higher than that of the CF/CNT anode (1772.6 mW m−3). During the experiment of charging for 30 min and discharging for 30 min, the MFC with a capacitive bioanode had a total charge of 8777.1 C m−2, 2.74 times higher than that of the CF/CNT anode. The excellent electricity-producing and energy storage performance of the MFC equipped with the CF/CNT/MnO2 anode is attributed to the composite materials, which can be due to their better biocompatibility, large capacitance, and high specific surface area. This study provides a new way to improve the performance of electricity generation and energy storage of MFCs. Full article
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Editorial
Special Issue “State-of-the-Art Polymer Science and Technology in Japan (2021, 2022)”
Polymers 2023, 15(11), 2576; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym15112576 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
It has been 100 years since the first article on polymerization was published by Hermann Staudinger [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Polymer Chemistry)
Article
A Prediction Model to Cost-Optimize Clean-Out of Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavers
Water 2023, 15(11), 2135; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15112135 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Permeable Interlocking Concrete Paver (PICP) systems provide onsite stormwater management by detaining runoff and removing contaminants. However, a major problem with PICPs is the significant maintenance cost associated with their clean-out to restore the original functionality, which discourages landowners and municipalities from adopting [...] Read more.
Permeable Interlocking Concrete Paver (PICP) systems provide onsite stormwater management by detaining runoff and removing contaminants. However, a major problem with PICPs is the significant maintenance cost associated with their clean-out to restore the original functionality, which discourages landowners and municipalities from adopting the systems. A combination of laboratory experiments and machine-learning techniques are applied to address this challenge. A total of 376 laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate four independent variables (cleaning equipment speed over the pavement, air speed in the cleaning jets, top opening width of the cupule, and filter media gradation) that affect the cleaning of PICPs. The Buckingham Pi-Theorem was used to express the four main input variables in three dimension-less parameters. This current investigation provides a novel understanding of variables affecting the sustainable and economically feasible maintenance of PICPs. A new model is derived to more accurately predict the percentage of mass removal from PICPs during clean-out using a machine-learning technique. The Group Method of Data Handling (GMDH) model exhibits high performance, with a correlation coefficient (R2) of 0.87 for both the training and testing stages. The established simple explicit equation can be applied to optimize the maintenance costs for industrial applications of Regenerative Air Street Sweepers for sustainable and cost-effective PICP maintenance. Pavements with larger surface areas are found to have lower maintenance costs ($/m2/year) compared to the ones with smaller surface areas. This study estimates $0.32/m2/year and $0.50/m2/year to maintain pavements with larger (5000 m2) and smaller (1000 m2) surface areas, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Quality for Sustainable Development)
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Review
Salivary Biomarkers of Anti-Epileptic Drugs: A Narrative Review
Diagnostics 2023, 13(11), 1962; https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics13111962 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Saliva is a biofluid that reflects general health and that can be collected in order to evaluate and determine various pathologies and treatments. Biomarker analysis through saliva sampling is an emerging method of accurately screening and diagnosing diseases. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are prescribed [...] Read more.
Saliva is a biofluid that reflects general health and that can be collected in order to evaluate and determine various pathologies and treatments. Biomarker analysis through saliva sampling is an emerging method of accurately screening and diagnosing diseases. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are prescribed generally in seizure treatment. The dose–response relationship of AEDs is influenced by numerous factors and varies from patient to patient, hence the need for the careful supervision of drug intake. The therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) of AEDs was traditionally performed through repeated blood withdrawals. Saliva sampling in order to determine and monitor AEDs is a novel, fast, low-cost and non-invasive approach. This narrative review focuses on the characteristics of various AEDs and the possibility of determining active plasma concentrations from saliva samples. Additionally, this study aims to highlight the significant correlations between AED blood, urine and oral fluid levels and the applicability of saliva TDM for AEDs. The study also focuses on emphasizing the applicability of saliva sampling for epileptic patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evaluating Novel Biomarkers for Personalized Medicine)
Review
Regulation of EMT Markers, Extracellular Matrix, and Associated Signalling Pathways by Long Non-Coding RNAs in Glioblastoma Mesenchymal Transition: A Scoping Review
Biology 2023, 12(6), 818; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12060818 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Glioblastoma (GBM) mesenchymal (MES) transition can be regulated by long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) via modulation of various factors (Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal (EMT) markers, biological signalling, and the extracellular matrix (ECM)). However, understanding of these mechanisms in terms of lncRNAs is largely sparse. This review systematically [...] Read more.
Glioblastoma (GBM) mesenchymal (MES) transition can be regulated by long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) via modulation of various factors (Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal (EMT) markers, biological signalling, and the extracellular matrix (ECM)). However, understanding of these mechanisms in terms of lncRNAs is largely sparse. This review systematically analysed the mechanisms by which lncRNAs influence MES transition in GBM from a systematic search of the literature (using PRISMA) performed in five databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, and Web of Science). We identified a total of 62 lncRNAs affiliated with GBM MES transition, of which 52 were upregulated and 10 were downregulated in GBM cells, where 55 lncRNAs were identified to regulate classical EMT markers in GBM (E-cadherin, N-cadherin, and vimentin) and 25 lncRNAs were reported to regulate EMT transcription factors (ZEB1, Snai1, Slug, Twist, and Notch); a total of 16 lncRNAs were found to regulate the associated signalling pathways (Wnt/β-catenin, PI3k/Akt/mTOR, TGFβ, and NF-κB) and 14 lncRNAs were reported to regulate ECM components (MMP2/9, fibronectin, CD44, and integrin-β1). A total of 25 lncRNAs were found dysregulated in clinical samples (TCGA vs. GTEx), of which 17 were upregulated and 8 were downregulated. Gene set enrichment analysis predicted the functions of HOXAS3, H19, HOTTIP, MEG3, DGCR5, and XIST at the transcriptional and translational levels based on their interacting target proteins. Our analysis observed that the MES transition is regulated by complex interplays between the signalling pathways and EMT factors. Nevertheless, further empirical studies are required to elucidate the complexity in this process between these EMT factors and the signalling involved in the GBM 40 MES transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epigenetic Regulation of High-Grade Glioma Plasticity)
Article
Evaluating Risk in Prefabricated Building Construction under EPC Contracting Using Structural Equation Modeling: A Case Study of Shaanxi Province, China
Buildings 2023, 13(6), 1465; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13061465 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Prefabricated buildings have the advantages of high efficiency and saving resources. However, China’s prefabricated buildings were built relatively late, and there are problems in terms of their low standardization, integration, and industrialization. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of [...] Read more.
Prefabricated buildings have the advantages of high efficiency and saving resources. However, China’s prefabricated buildings were built relatively late, and there are problems in terms of their low standardization, integration, and industrialization. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of constructing prefabricated buildings under the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) general contracting mode from the perspective of general contractors and to propose countermeasures for the key risks. Firstly, a risk evaluation index system was established via a literature analysis, and a questionnaire survey was used to collect the data. SPSS was used to conduct the data factor analysis to finally identify 4 first-level indicators and 14 second-level indicators. Then, a structural equation model (SEM) was developed to further evaluate the impact of each indicator on the risk of constructing prefabricated buildings under the EPC general contracting mode. The results showed that the construction and design risk had the greatest impact. Among them, the technical level of the construction personnel while conducting the hoisting, stacking, and protection of on-site materials and the lack of integrated design experience among the designers were the key points for risk control. On the one hand, this study explored the whole life cycle of a project, which makes up for the lack of risk analyses and the control being limited to a single engineering stage that has been presented in previous studies. On the other hand, in terms of the design, procurement, and construction as a whole research object, we found that the fuzzy evaluation method and analytic hierarchy process (AHP) used in previous risk analyses and evaluation methods have defects. They cannot verify the rationality of the logical relationship between the evaluation indices. In contrast, this study used the SEM method to fill this research gap. This ensures the scientific nature of our research to the greatest extent. Additionally, we also found some problems with this type of research: the selection of the evaluation indicators and data collection vary with the region, project characteristics, project contracting mode, and risk management subject, which influence the results of studies. Overall, the SEM method established in this study provides a reference and can help us conduct similar research and model evaluations in other regions. This method can guide project implementers to make the best risk-management decisions, so it is of great significance for practitioners in this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Project Management in Construction)
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Article
Optimized APF-ACO Algorithm for Ship Collision Avoidance and Path Planning
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(6), 1177; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11061177 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
The primary objective of this study is to investigate maritime collision avoidance and trajectory planning in the presence of dynamic and static obstacles during navigation. Adhering to safety regulations is crucial when executing ship collision avoidance tasks. To address this issue, we propose [...] Read more.
The primary objective of this study is to investigate maritime collision avoidance and trajectory planning in the presence of dynamic and static obstacles during navigation. Adhering to safety regulations is crucial when executing ship collision avoidance tasks. To address this issue, we propose an optimized APF-ACO algorithm for collision avoidance and path planning. First, a ship collision avoidance constraint model is constructed based on COLREGs to enhance the safety and applicability of the algorithm. Then, by introducing factors such as velocity, position, and shape parameters, the traditional APF method is optimized, creating a dynamic APF gradient for collision avoidance decision making in the face of dynamic obstacles. Furthermore, the optimized APF method is integrated with the ant colony optimization algorithm, the latter modified to overcome the inherent local optimality issues in the APF method. Ultimately, validations are conducted in three areas: static avoidance and planning in restricted sea areas, avoidance under conditions of mixed static and dynamic obstacles, and avoidance in situations of multiple ship encounters. These serve to illustrate the feasibility and efficacy of the proposed algorithm in achieving dynamic ship collision avoidance while simultaneously completing path-planning tasks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Motion Control and Path Planning of Marine Vehicles)
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Review
Advances in the Field of Graphene-Based Composites for Energy–Storage Applications
Crystals 2023, 13(6), 912; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst13060912 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
To meet the growing demand in energy, great efforts have been devoted to improving the performances of energy–storages. Graphene, a remarkable two-dimensional (2D) material, holds immense potential for improving energy–storage performance owing to its exceptional properties, such as a large-specific surface area, remarkable [...] Read more.
To meet the growing demand in energy, great efforts have been devoted to improving the performances of energy–storages. Graphene, a remarkable two-dimensional (2D) material, holds immense potential for improving energy–storage performance owing to its exceptional properties, such as a large-specific surface area, remarkable thermal conductivity, excellent mechanical strength, and high-electronic mobility. This review provides a comprehensive summary of recent research advancements in the application of graphene for energy–storage. Initially, the fundamental properties of graphene are introduced. Subsequently, the latest developments in graphene-based energy–storage, encompassing lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, supercapacitors, potassium-ion batteries and aluminum-ion batteries, are summarized. Finally, the challenges associated with graphene-based energy–storage applications are discussed, and the development prospects for this field are outlined. Full article
Article
Analysis of the Gut Microbiome and Dietary Habits in Metastatic Melanoma Patients with a Complete and Sustained Response to Immunotherapy
Cancers 2023, 15(11), 3052; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers15113052 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Immunotherapy has improved the prognosis of metastatic melanoma patients, although most patients do not achieve a complete response. While specific gut microbiome and dietary habits might influence treatment success, there is a lack of concordance between the studies, potentially due to dichotomizing patients [...] Read more.
Immunotherapy has improved the prognosis of metastatic melanoma patients, although most patients do not achieve a complete response. While specific gut microbiome and dietary habits might influence treatment success, there is a lack of concordance between the studies, potentially due to dichotomizing patients only into responders and non-responders. The aim of this study was to elucidate whether metastatic melanoma patients with complete and sustained response to immunotherapy exhibit differences in gut microbiome composition among themselves, and whether those differences were associated with specific dietary habits. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing revealed that patients who exhibited a complete response after more than 9 months of treatment (late responders) exhibited a significantly higher beta-diversity (p = 0.02), with a higher abundance of Coprococcus comes (LDA 3.548, p = 0.010), Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum (LDA 3.392, p = 0.024), and lower abundance of Prevotellaceae (p = 0.04) compared to early responders. Furthermore, late responders exhibited a different diet profile, with a significantly lower intake of proteins and sweets and a higher intake of flavones (p < 0.05). The research showed that metastatic melanoma patients with a complete and sustained response to immunotherapy were a heterogeneous group. Patients with a late complete response exhibited microbiome and dietary habits which were previously associated with an improved response to immunotherapy. Full article
Article
Targeting Store-Operated Calcium Entry Regulates the Inflammation-Induced Proliferation and Migration of Breast Cancer Cells
Biomedicines 2023, 11(6), 1637; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines11061637 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Persistent challenges complicating the treatment of breast cancer remain, despite some recent undeniable successes. Sufficient evidence currently exists demonstrating the crucial role of inflammation, characterized by the enhanced activation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and the COX-2/PGE2 pathway, in the migration and proliferation [...] Read more.
Persistent challenges complicating the treatment of breast cancer remain, despite some recent undeniable successes. Sufficient evidence currently exists demonstrating the crucial role of inflammation, characterized by the enhanced activation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and the COX-2/PGE2 pathway, in the migration and proliferation of breast cancer cells. Interestingly, the store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) pathway was shown to be essential for the TLR4 activity and COX-2 expression in immune cells such as macrophages and microglia. However, whether SOCE influences inflammatory signaling and the inflammation-induced proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells is still unknown. Thus, the current study intended to delineate the role of SOCE in the TLR4-induced inflammation, migration, and proliferation of breast cancer cells. To this end, MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to activate TLR4, BTP2 to inhibit SOCE, and Thapsigargin to induce SOCE. Following these treatments, several experiments were conducted to evaluate the proliferation and migration rates of the MDA-MB-231 cells and the expression of several inflammatory and oncogenic genes, including COX-2, PGE2, IL-6, IL-8, and VEGF. Different techniques were used to achieve the aims of this study, including qRT-PCR, Western blotting, ELISA, MTT, and wound healing assays. This study shows that SOCE inhibition using BTP2 suppressed the LPS-induced migration and proliferation of breast cancer cells. Additionally, treatment with LPS caused approximately six- and three-fold increases in COX-2 mRNA and protein expression, respectively, compared to the controls. The LPS-induced elevations in the COX-2 mRNA and protein levels were suppressed by BTP2 to the control levels. In addition to its effect on COX-2, BTP2 also suppressed the LPS-induced productions of PGE2, IL-6, IL-8, and VEGF. Conversely, SOCE induction using Thapsigargin enhanced the LPS-induced inflammation, migration, and proliferation of breast cancer cells. Collectively, these results provide evidence for the potentially important role of SOCE in inflammation-induced breast cancer progression processes. Thus, we argue that the current study may provide novel targets for designing new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of breast cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Calcium Signaling and Its Dysregulation in Cancer 2.0)
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Article
Flexural Strength Characteristics of Fiber-Reinforced Cemented Soil
Materials 2023, 16(11), 4185; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16114185 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
This work deals with the flexural performance of a soil-cement for pavement reinforced by polypropylene and steel fibers, and the main purpose is to evaluate the effect of different curing times. In this sense, three different curing times were employed to investigate the [...] Read more.
This work deals with the flexural performance of a soil-cement for pavement reinforced by polypropylene and steel fibers, and the main purpose is to evaluate the effect of different curing times. In this sense, three different curing times were employed to investigate the influence of fibers on the material’s behavior at varying levels of strength and stiffness as the matrix became increasingly rigid. An experimental program was developed to analyze the effects of incorporating different fibers in a cemented matrix for pavement applications. Polypropylene and steel fibers were used at 0.5/1.0/1.5% fractions by volume for three different curing times (3/7/28 days) to assess the fiber effect in the cemented soil (CS) matrices throughout time. An evaluation of the material performance was carried out using the 4-Point Flexural Test. The results show that steel fibers with 1.0% content improved by approximately 20% in terms of initial strength and peak strength at small deflections without interfering the flexural static modulus of the material. The polypropylene fiber mixtures had better performance in terms of ductility index reaching values varying from 50 to 120, an increase of approximately 40% in residual strength, and improved cracking control at large deflections. The current study shows that fibers significantly affect the mechanical performance of CSF. Thus, the overall performance presented in this study is useful for selecting the most suitable fiber type corresponding to the different mechanisms as a function of curing time. Full article
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Article
South Anze Structure and Its Control on Coalbed Methane Aggregation in the Qinshui Basin and the Mechanism of Syncline Gas Enrichment in the Qinshui Basin
Energies 2023, 16(11), 4521; https://doi.org/10.3390/en16114521 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
The phenomenon of coalbed-methane synclinal accumulation in the Qinshui Basin has been widely reported, but it has mainly been observed in the core block of the Qinshui Syncline. The questions arise: does this phenomenon exist in the wing of the Qinshui Syncline and, [...] Read more.
The phenomenon of coalbed-methane synclinal accumulation in the Qinshui Basin has been widely reported, but it has mainly been observed in the core block of the Qinshui Syncline. The questions arise: does this phenomenon exist in the wing of the Qinshui Syncline and, if so, what is the mechanism behind it? Further study is required to answer these questions. This paper focuses on the South Anze No. 3 coal seam in the Qinshui Basin as an example. It conducts a systematic sorting of coalbed-methane geological characteristics and an analysis of the effects of structural assemblage characteristics, genetic mechanisms, and structural control on coalbed-methane accumulation. Additionally, it examines the basin structure and evolution during the critical period of the Qinshui Basin, as well as the gas geological characteristics of adjacent areas, in order to discuss the gas-rich mechanism of the syncline in the Qinshui Basin. Key insights obtained from the study include the following: (i) The whole South Anze is a nosing structure that plunges from west to east and superposes secondary folds and faults in different directions. Four deformation zones can be identified based on the characteristics of structural assemblage, including NEN-oriented compressive structures, ENE-trend shear fractures, EW-trend compressive fractures, and EW-trend compressive folds. The formation of structural assemblage in the study area is attributed to the compression in the Indosinian and Yanshanian, and the fault inversion in the Himalayan period. (ii) The ENE-trend shear fracture deformation area located in the nosing uplift is a low CBM (coalbed methane) content area due to gas diffusion during the Himalayan extension. The syncline in the combination of NEN-trend and EW-trend “ejective folds” in the west and south of the study area is a high-value area of coalbed-methane content. It is further verified that the law of syncline gas accumulation in the Qinshui Basin is also applicable to the wing of the Qinshui Syncline. (iii) Since the formation of the Qinshui Syncline, the main coal seam has been in an extensional environment below the neutral plane, resulting in the main dissipation of coalbed methane. During its geological history, surface water penetrated the aquifer above the main coal seam through two channels: the extensional area above the neutral plane of the adjacent anticline and the shear fracture. A hydrostatic pressure seal is formed in the Qinshui Syncline and the secondary syncline is superimposed upon it, which is the cause of gas enrichment in the syncline of the Qinshui Basin. (iv) Weak deformation in the syncline basin is the focus of global coalbed-methane exploration and development. The mechanism proposed in this paper can provide ideas and references for further understanding of coalbed-methane enrichment in this type of basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coalbed Methane Exploration and Production)
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Data Descriptor
Physico-Chemical Quality and Physiological Profiles of Microbial Communities in Freshwater Systems of Mega Manila, Philippines
Data 2023, 8(6), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/data8060103 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Studying the quality of freshwater systems and drinking water in highly urbanized megalopolises around the world remains a challenge. This article reports data on the quality of select freshwater systems in Mega Manila, Philippines. Water samples collected between 2020 and 2021 were analyzed [...] Read more.
Studying the quality of freshwater systems and drinking water in highly urbanized megalopolises around the world remains a challenge. This article reports data on the quality of select freshwater systems in Mega Manila, Philippines. Water samples collected between 2020 and 2021 were analyzed for physico-chemical parameters and microbial community metabolic fingerprints, i.e., carbon substrate utilization patterns (CSUPs). The detection of arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) was carried out using standard chromatography- and spectroscopy-based protocols. Physiological profiles were determined using the Biolog EcoPlate™ system. Eight samples were free of heavy metals, and none contained PAHs or OCPs. Fourteen samples had high microbial activity, as indicated by average well color development (AWCD) and community metabolic diversity (CMD) values. Community-level physiological profiling (CLPP) revealed that (1) samples clustered as groups according to shared CSUPs, and (2) microbial communities in non-drinking samples actively utilized all six substrate classes compared to drinking samples. The data reported here can provide a baseline or a comparator for prospective quality assessments of drinking water and freshwater sources in the region. Metabolic fingerprinting using CSUPs is a simple and cheap phenotypic analysis of microbial communities and their physiological activity in aquatic environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Chemoinformatics)
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Article
Research on High-Precision Position Control of Valve-Controlled Cylinders Based on Variable Structure Control
Machines 2023, 11(6), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines11060623 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
During the operation of valve-controlled cylinder position systems, there are some problems, such as uncertainty and time-varying of the system parameters, imprecise modeling, and external interference. These problems will affect the position loading accuracy and safety reliability of the electro-hydraulic position servo system. [...] Read more.
During the operation of valve-controlled cylinder position systems, there are some problems, such as uncertainty and time-varying of the system parameters, imprecise modeling, and external interference. These problems will affect the position loading accuracy and safety reliability of the electro-hydraulic position servo system. This paper used the position servo system of a valve-controlled cylinder as the research object, and a mathematical model was established. Then, a sliding mode variable structure controller and dynamic soft variable structure controller were designed, and the Grey Wolf algorithm was used to adjust the controller parameters. The control effect of the two controllers in the valve-controlled cylinder system was verified with a simulation and experiment. The results showed that compared with the sliding mode variable structure controller, the dynamic soft variable structure controller had higher control precision and better stability and avoided the chattering phenomenon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Control of Electro-Hydraulic Systems)
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Article
Prevalence of Active Primitive Reflexes and Craniosacral Blocks in Apparently Healthy Children and Relationships with Neurodevelopment Disturbances
Children 2023, 10(6), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10061014 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Background: In healthy children, the frequency of the anomalous persistence of primitive reflexes (PRs) and craniosacral blocks (CBs) is unknown, as well as their impact on neurodevelopment, behaviour disorders and related consequences. We aim to know the prevalence of anomalous PRs and CBs [...] Read more.
Background: In healthy children, the frequency of the anomalous persistence of primitive reflexes (PRs) and craniosacral blocks (CBs) is unknown, as well as their impact on neurodevelopment, behaviour disorders and related consequences. We aim to know the prevalence of anomalous PRs and CBs in apparently healthy children and their relationships with behavior and neurodevelopment anomalies. Methods: Participants (n = 120) were evaluated via a physical examination to detect PRs and CBs and an ad hoc parent survey to collect perinatal events, and children’s behavioral assessments were conducted by teachers using the Battelle score. Results: PRs were present in 89.5%. Moro (70.8%), cervical asymmetric (78.3%) and cervical symmetric PRs (67.5%) were the most frequently observed PRs. CBs were found in 83.2%, and the most frequent CBs were dura mater (77.5%) and sphenoid bone (70%) blocks. Moro, cervical asymmetric and cervical symmetric active primitive reflexes were significantly associated with cranial blocks of dura mater, parietal zones and sphenoid bone sway. Gestational disorders or perinatal complications were associated with a higher frequency of PRs and CBs. The presence of PRs and CBs was associated with abnormal Battelle scores and neurobehavioral problems. Conclusion: The presence of PRs and CBs in children without diagnosed diseases is frequent and related to disturbances in childhood neurodevelopment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focusing on Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders)
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Article
Enhancement of Mechanical Behaviors and Microstructure Evolution of Nano-Nb2O5/AZ31 Composite Processed via Equal-Channel Angular Pressing (ECAP)
J. Compos. Sci. 2023, 7(6), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcs7060230 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
The automobile industry uses magnesium for load-bearing components due to its low density, durability, and ductility. This study investigated a nanocomposite containing Nb2O5 (3 and 6 wt%) nanoparticles as reinforcement with AZ31 magnesium alloy made by stir casting. A severe [...] Read more.
The automobile industry uses magnesium for load-bearing components due to its low density, durability, and ductility. This study investigated a nanocomposite containing Nb2O5 (3 and 6 wt%) nanoparticles as reinforcement with AZ31 magnesium alloy made by stir casting. A severe plastic deformation was conducted on the cast samples via equal-channel angular pressing (ECAP) after homogenization at 410 °C for 24 h and aging at 200 °C for 10 h. The microstructural distributions and mechanical properties of the magnesium metal matrix composites (MMCs) reinforced with Nb2O5 nanoparticles were investigated via ECAP. With the increase in the number of ECAP passes, the grain sizes became uniform, and the size of secondary phases reduced in the pure Nb2O5/AZ31 MMC. The grain size decreased remarkably after the ECAP process from 31.95 µm to 18.41µm due to the dynamic recrystallization during plastic deformation. The mechanical properties of hardness, ultimate tensile strength, and elongation effectively improved after each ECAP pass. The maximum values achieved for the Nb2O5/AZ31 composite subjected to ECAP were 64.12 ± 12 HV, 151.2 MPa, and 52.71%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Nanocomposites)
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Editorial
Editorial for the Special Issue “Torsion-Gravity and Spinors in Fundamental Theoretical Physics”
Universe 2023, 9(6), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe9060269 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
The Einsteinian theory of gravitation is among the best-established theories ever
conceived in physics […]  Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Torsion-Gravity and Spinors in Fundamental Theoretical Physics)
Article
Efficient Method to Solve the Monge–Kantarovich Problem Using Wavelet Analysis
Axioms 2023, 12(6), 555; https://doi.org/10.3390/axioms12060555 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
In this paper, we present and justify a methodology to solve the Monge–Kantorovich mass transfer problem through Haar multiresolution analysis and wavelet transform with the advantage of requiring a reduced number of operations to carry out. The methodology has the following steps. We [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present and justify a methodology to solve the Monge–Kantorovich mass transfer problem through Haar multiresolution analysis and wavelet transform with the advantage of requiring a reduced number of operations to carry out. The methodology has the following steps. We apply wavelet analysis on a discretization of the cost function level j and obtain four components comprising one corresponding to a low-pass filter plus three from a high-pass filter. We obtain the solution corresponding to the low-pass component in level j1 denoted by μj1*, and using the information of the high-pass filter components, we get a solution in level j denoted by μ^j. Finally, we make a local refinement of μ^j and obtain the final solution μjσ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization Models and Applications)
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Article
Validation of Calcein Violet as a New Marker of Semen Membrane Integrity in Domestic Animals
Animals 2023, 13(11), 1874; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13111874 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Many fluorochromes routinely used in semen quality analysis emit in the green and red channels, limiting their possible combination for multiple parameter analysis. The use of fluorophores emitting in different light channels broadens the possibilities of combination to expand the range of simultaneously [...] Read more.
Many fluorochromes routinely used in semen quality analysis emit in the green and red channels, limiting their possible combination for multiple parameter analysis. The use of fluorophores emitting in different light channels broadens the possibilities of combination to expand the range of simultaneously evaluated criteria. This is of great interest in cases of small ejaculated volumes, such as those naturally occurring in roosters, small dog breeds and drones (Apis mellifera). The purpose of this experiment is to establish Calcein Violet (CaV), a blue fluorochrome, as a marker of viability and acrosomal integrity in domestic animals in order to free the red and green channels. SYBR®14/Propidium Iodide (PI) was used as reference dye, heat-treated samples as negative controls, serial staining combination for validation and epifluorescence microscopy for observation. Dead spermatozoa marked in red with PI showed no blue fluorescence either from the head or the tail. Live spermatozoa showed a decreasing blue emission from head to tail when single stained with CaV. Unreacted acrosomes showed intense blue fluorescence irrespective of plasma membrane integrity. This needs to be further confirmed for species with small and difficult to observe heads. Establishment of CaV as a marker of membrane integrity by fluorescence microscopy is a decisive first step towards further technical development and use with flow cytometry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Reproduction)
Article
Study on the Performance and Mechanism of Cement Solidified Desulfurization Manganese Residue
Materials 2023, 16(11), 4184; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16114184 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
Desulfurized manganese residue (DMR) is an industrial solid residue produced by high-temperature and high-pressure desulfurization calcination of electrolytic manganese residue (EMR). DMR not only occupies land resources but also easily causes heavy metal pollution in soil, surface water, and groundwater. Therefore, it is [...] Read more.
Desulfurized manganese residue (DMR) is an industrial solid residue produced by high-temperature and high-pressure desulfurization calcination of electrolytic manganese residue (EMR). DMR not only occupies land resources but also easily causes heavy metal pollution in soil, surface water, and groundwater. Therefore, it is necessary to treat the DMR safely and effectively so that it can be used as a resource. In this paper, Ordinary Portland cement (P.O 42.5) was used as a curing agent to treat DMR harmlessly. The effects of cement content and DMR particle size on flexural strength, compressive strength, and leaching toxicity of a cement-DMR solidified body were studied. The phase composition and microscopic morphology of the solidified body were analyzed by XRD, SEM, and EDS, and the mechanism of cement-DMR solidification was discussed. The results show that the flexural strength and compressive strength of a cement-DMR solidified body can be significantly improved by increasing the cement content to 80 mesh particle size. When the cement content is 30%, the DMR particle size has a great influence on the strength of the solidified body. When the DMR particle size is 4 mesh, the DMR particles will form stress concentration points in the solidified body and reduce its strength. In the DMR leaching solution, the leaching concentration of Mn is 2.8 mg/L, and the solidification rate of Mn in the cement-DMR solidified body with 10% cement content can reach 99.8%. The results of XRD, SEM, and EDS showed that quartz (SiO2) and gypsum dihydrate (CaSO4·2H2O) were the main phases in the raw slag. Quartz and gypsum dihydrate could form ettringite (AFt) in the alkaline environment provided by cement. Mn was finally solidified by MnO2, and Mn could be solidified in C-S-H gel by isomorphic replacement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microstructures and Mechanical Properties of Cement-Based Composites)
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Article
Maternal Th17 Profile after Zika Virus Infection Is Involved in Congenital Zika Syndrome Development in Children
Viruses 2023, 15(6), 1320; https://doi.org/10.3390/v15061320 (registering DOI) - 04 Jun 2023
Abstract
 Brazil is one of the countries that experienced an epidemic of microcephaly and other congenital manifestations related to maternal Zika virus infection which can result in Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS). Since the Zika virus can modulate the immune system, studying mothers’ and [...] Read more.
 Brazil is one of the countries that experienced an epidemic of microcephaly and other congenital manifestations related to maternal Zika virus infection which can result in Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS). Since the Zika virus can modulate the immune system, studying mothers’ and children’s immune profiles become essential to better understanding CZS development. Therefore, we investigated the lymphocyte population profile of children who developed CZS and their mothers’ immune response in this study. The study groups were formed from the Plaque Reduction Neutralization Test (PRNT) (CZS+ group) result. To evaluate the lymphocyte population profile, we performed phenotyping of peripheral lymphocytes and quantification of serum cytokine levels. The immunophenotyping and cytokine profile was correlated between CSZ+ children and their mothers. Both groups exhibited increased interleukin-17 levels and a reduction in the subpopulation of CD4+ T lymphocytes. In contrast, the maternal group showed a reduction in the population of B lymphocytes. Thus, the development of CZS is related to the presence of an inflammatory immune profile in children and their mothers characterized by Th17 activation.  Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mother to Child Transmission of Viral Infections)

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