The 2023 MDPI Annual Report has
been released!
 
38 pages, 2592 KiB  
Review
Metals on the Menu—Analyzing the Presence, Importance, and Consequences
by Vedran Milanković, Tamara Tasić, Andreja Leskovac, Sandra Petrović, Miloš Mitić, Tamara Lazarević-Pašti, Mirjana Novković and Nebojša Potkonjak
Foods 2024, 13(12), 1890; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13121890 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Metals are integral components of the natural environment, and their presence in the food supply is inevitable and complex. While essential metals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and copper are crucial for various physiological functions and must be consumed through [...] Read more.
Metals are integral components of the natural environment, and their presence in the food supply is inevitable and complex. While essential metals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and copper are crucial for various physiological functions and must be consumed through the diet, others, like lead, mercury, and cadmium, are toxic even at low concentrations and pose serious health risks. This study comprehensively analyzes the presence, importance, and consequences of metals in the food chain. We explore the pathways through which metals enter the food supply, their distribution across different food types, and the associated health implications. By examining current regulatory standards for maximum allowable levels of various metals, we highlight the importance of ensuring food safety and protecting public health. Furthermore, this research underscores the need for continuous monitoring and management of metal content in food, especially as global agricultural and food production practices evolve. Our findings aim to inform dietary recommendations, food fortification strategies, and regulatory policies, ultimately contributing to safer and more nutritionally balanced diets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Food Quality and Safety)
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14 pages, 2316 KiB  
Article
AgIn5S8/g-C3N4 Composite Photocatalyst Coupled with Low-Temperature Plasma-Enhanced Degradation of Hydroxypropyl-Guar-Simulated Oilfield Wastewater
by Xiang Li, Yuhang Zhang, Yiling Wang, Li Zhu, Yuhang Liu and Lingxing Wang
Molecules 2024, 29(12), 2862; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29122862 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
The effective treatment and recovery of fracturing wastewater has always been one of the difficult problems to be solved in oilfield wastewater treatment. Accordingly, in this paper, photocatalytic-coupled low-temperature plasma technology was used to degrade the simulated wastewater containing hydroxypropyl guar, the main [...] Read more.
The effective treatment and recovery of fracturing wastewater has always been one of the difficult problems to be solved in oilfield wastewater treatment. Accordingly, in this paper, photocatalytic-coupled low-temperature plasma technology was used to degrade the simulated wastewater containing hydroxypropyl guar, the main component of fracturing fluid. Results indicated that hydroxypropyl-guar wastewater could be degraded to a certain extent by either photocatalytic technology or plasma technology; the chemical oxygen demand and viscosity of the treated wastewater under two single-technique optimal conditions were 781 mg·L−1, 0.79 mPa·s−1 and 1296 mg·L−1, 1.01 mPa·s−1, respectively. Furthermore, the effective coupling of AgIn5S8/gC3N4 photocatalysis and dielectric-barrier discharge–low-temperature plasma not only enhanced the degradation degree of hydroxypropyl guar but also improved its degradation efficiency. Under the optimal conditions of coupling treatment, the hydroxypropyl-guar wastewater achieved the effect of a single treatment within 6 min, and the chemical oxygen demand and viscosity of the treated wastewater reduced to below 490 mg·L−1 and 0.65 mPa·s−1, respectively. In the process of coupled treatment, the AgIn5S8/gC3N4 could directly absorb the light and strong electric field generated by the system discharge and play an important role in the photocatalytic degradation, thus effectively improving the energy utilization rate of the discharge system and enhancing the degradation efficiency of hydroxypropyl guar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical Research on Photosensitive Materials)
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14 pages, 5777 KiB  
Article
Transcriptomic Revealed That Selenium-Rich Lactobacillus plantarum Alleviated Cadmium-Induced Immune Responses in Bulatmai barbel Luciobarbus capito Kidneys
by Qingsong Sun, Yuran Pang, Yuhan Qin, Ziting Dong, Yanling Ma, Yuan Zhao, Zhanning Zhang, Jinmei Liu, Binghui Mao and Baishuang Yin
Fishes 2024, 9(6), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes9060230 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Cadmium (Cd) is a common environmental pollutant that accumulates mainly in the kidneys and thus endangers the physiological health of aquatic animals. Selenium (Se) is a natural antidote to heavy metals that antagonises heavy metal toxicity and enhances the antioxidant capacity of organisms. [...] Read more.
Cadmium (Cd) is a common environmental pollutant that accumulates mainly in the kidneys and thus endangers the physiological health of aquatic animals. Selenium (Se) is a natural antidote to heavy metals that antagonises heavy metal toxicity and enhances the antioxidant capacity of organisms. Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum) can reduce the toxicity of heavy metals through adsorption, reduction and metabolism. Studies have confirmed that the biological synthesis of Se nanoparticles (Bio-SeNPs) using bacterial microorganisms is simple, safe and less toxic than the synthesis of inorganic and organic Se, but the effect on Cd-induced immunosuppression is un-known. One hundred and eighty Bulatmai barbel (Luciobarbus capito: L. capito) plants were randomly divided into control (C), Cd and Cd + Se-enriched L. plantarum groups (S1L1-Cd) and fed for 28 days. The analysis methods included histopathology, test kits, transcriptomics and real-time quantitative PCR. The addition of selenium-enriched L. plantarum significantly attenuated cadmium-induced pathological changes such as glomerular atrophy, detachment of renal tubular epithelial cells, mild swelling, and interstitial inflammatory cell infiltration. Cd stress can lead to significant decreases in RBC, HCT, WBC, LZM, C3, and IgM levels, and the addition of Se-enriched L. plantarum can significantly reverse the changes in these indicators. Transcriptomic analysis revealed 488 DEGs in the Cd groups, 301 of which were upregulated and 187 of which were downregulated. There were 1474 DEGs in the S1L1-Cd group, of which 720 were upregulated and 754 were downregulated. In addition, GO enrichment analysis revealed that the biological regulation of the most differentially expressed genes involved metal ion binding, ATP binding and nucleotide inclusion. KEGG enrichment analysis revealed six of the most enriched pathways: oxidative phosphorylation, Huntington disease, retrograde endocannabinoid signalling, natural killer cell-mediated cyto-toxicity, the IL-17 signalling pathway, and leukocyte transient migration. Moreover, we selected 12 DEGs for qRT-PCR, which showed that the qRT-PCR results were consistent with our RNA-Seq results. Our results suggest that Se-enriched L. plantarum can enhance immunity and alleviate Cd exposure-mediated immunosuppression in L. capito. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Environment and Climate Change)
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9 pages, 229 KiB  
Article
Younger Children with Respiratory Tract Infections Are More Exposed to Off-Label Treatments: An Exploratory Retrospective Study in a Pediatric Emergency Setting
by Greta Venckute, Erika Zekaite-Vaisniene, Urte Oniunaite and Lina Jankauskaite
Children 2024, 11(6), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/children11060735 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Off-label drug use is prevalent in the pediatric population and represents a patient safety concern. We aimed to identify factors for off-label drug use in our pediatric emergency department (PED). Methods. We performed a retrospective data analysis. All patients aged 0–18 referred to [...] Read more.
Off-label drug use is prevalent in the pediatric population and represents a patient safety concern. We aimed to identify factors for off-label drug use in our pediatric emergency department (PED). Methods. We performed a retrospective data analysis. All patients aged 0–18 referred to PED from 1 September to 1 October 2022, were included. Further analysis was performed when respiratory tract infections were diagnosed. Data collected: gender, age, triage group, chronic diseases, vital signs, and PED-prescribed treatment (medications, dosages, methods of administration). Statistical analysis used SPSS 28.0, with significance at p < 0.05. Results. Data from 473 patients were analyzed, median age 3.5 years. Chronic diseases were present in 17.1% of children. 387 medications were prescribed, 47.5% being off-label. Off-label treatment was common for external otitis, acute laryngitis, and acute bronchitis (p < 0.001). There was incorrect administration of tobramycin with dexamethasone for otitis (n = 16, 100%) and inappropriate use of salbutamol inhalations by age (34.8%, n = 16). Some medications were given orally instead of injections (ondansetron n = 5, 62.5%; dexamethasone n = 82, 98.7%) or intranasally instead of intravenously (IV) (midazolam n = 7, 87.5%). IV adrenalin was prescribed for inhalations (n = 46). Younger children were more likely to receive off-label treatment (p < 0.001). Conclusion. Our study highlights the widespread issue of off-label and unlicensed drug prescribing in pediatric emergency care. Further research is necessary, because this reliance on off-label prescribing raises concerns about patient safety and compliance, especially given the limited clinical trials and therapeutic options available. Full article
21 pages, 4859 KiB  
Article
Tripartite Social Roles of Urban Underground Pipeline Informatization in China
by Zhiqiang Xie, Yun Liu, Yuyun Feng, Lei Zhao, Xingfeng Fu, Fengshan Jiang, Zhengang Zhai, Daoyang Zheng and Junyu Lian
Sustainability 2024, 16(12), 5115; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16125115 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Urban underground pipelines (UUPs) are critical infrastructure, and their safe operation has become a key concern in Chinese society. Currently, the tripartite social roles of the local people’s government, pipeline management departments, and the public are crucial in the informatization of urban underground [...] Read more.
Urban underground pipelines (UUPs) are critical infrastructure, and their safe operation has become a key concern in Chinese society. Currently, the tripartite social roles of the local people’s government, pipeline management departments, and the public are crucial in the informatization of urban underground pipelines. In this study, a survey was conducted among 126 professionals and technical personnel involved in underground pipeline informatization across eight cities in different regions of China. A quantitative weighted evaluation model was established using the Project Quantitative Index (PQI) and principal component analysis (PCA) to investigate the value of the tripartite aforementioned social groups in UUP informatization. The results indicate: (1) There is a significant positive correlation between the tripartite social roles and the promotion of UUP informatization. Moreover, the indicators with the highest PQI value are “Establishment of UUP informatization management departments” and “Support the work of the UUP informatization industry association” under the role of the local people’s government. (2) The informatization work of underground pipelines in different cities is affected differently by the tripartite social roles. This suggests that the local people’s government and professional management departments in different cities can proactively leverage their unique advantages in UUP informatization based on their specific circumstances. (3) PCA results showed that the indicators related to the public carried significant weight, indicating that the public also played an important role in UUP informatization. The degree of UUP informatization in the eight studied cities is ranked as follows: Guangzhou > Beijing > Qingdao > Kunming > Shanghai > Chengdu > Wuhan > Sian. This paper further discusses the unique roles and contributions of the tripartite social groups in UUP informatization, aiming to provide decision support for the future construction, management, and safe operation and maintenance of urban underground pipelines in China. Full article
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13 pages, 4563 KiB  
Article
Biomass Estimation of Milk Vetch Using UAV Hyperspectral Imagery and Machine Learning
by Hao Hu, Hongkui Zhou, Kai Cao, Weidong Lou, Guangzhi Zhang, Qing Gu and Jianhong Wang
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(12), 2183; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16122183 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Milk vetch (Astragalus sinicus L.) is a winter-growing plant that can enhance soil fertility and provide essential nutrients for subsequent season crops. The fertilizing capacity of milk vetch is closely related to its above-ground biomass. Compared to the manual measurement methods of [...] Read more.
Milk vetch (Astragalus sinicus L.) is a winter-growing plant that can enhance soil fertility and provide essential nutrients for subsequent season crops. The fertilizing capacity of milk vetch is closely related to its above-ground biomass. Compared to the manual measurement methods of milk vetch biomass, remote sensing-based estimation methods have the advantages of rapid, noninvasive, and large-scale measurement. However, few studies have been conducted on remote sensing-based estimation of milk vetch biomass. To address this shortcoming, this study proposes combining unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based hyperspectral imagery and machine learning algorithms for accurate estimation of milk vetch biomass. Through the analysis of hyperspectral images and feature selection based on the Pearson correlation and principal component analysis, vegetation indices (VIs), including near-infrared reflectance (NIR), red-edge spectral transform index (RE), and difference vegetation index (DVI), are selected as estimation metrics of the model development process. Four machine learning methods, including random forest (RF), multiple linear regression (MLR), deep neural network (DNN), and support vector machine (SVM), are used to construct the biomass models. The results show that the RF estimation model exhibits the highest coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.950 and the lowest relative root-mean-squared error (RRMSE) of 14.86% among all the models. Notably, the DNN model demonstrates promising performance on the test set, with the R2 and RRMSE values slightly superior and inferior to those of the RF, respectively. The proposed method based on UAV imagery and machine learning can provide an accurate and reliable large-scale estimation of milk vetch biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Satellite and UAV Data in Precision Agriculture)
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11 pages, 844 KiB  
Article
Impact of Ocrelizumab on Disease Progression, Memory Improvement, and Quality of Life in Patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: A Longitudinal MRI and Clinical Criteria Analysis
by Amanda Claudia Schuldesz, Ram Kiram Maganti, Raluca Tudor, Amalia Cornea, Mihaela Prodan, Ana-Olivia Toma, Roxana Manuela Fericean and Mihaela Simu
Diseases 2024, 12(6), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/diseases12060127 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder that significantly impacts quality of life and functionality. Ocrelizumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting CD20-positive B cells, has emerged as a treatment for relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). This study aimed to assess the impact of ocrelizumab [...] Read more.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder that significantly impacts quality of life and functionality. Ocrelizumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting CD20-positive B cells, has emerged as a treatment for relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). This study aimed to assess the impact of ocrelizumab on disease progression and quality of life over a longitudinal course, utilizing clinical criteria and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analyses. Conducted at the Neurology Department of Pius Brinzeu Clinical Emergency Hospital in Western Romania from 2020 to 2023, this observational study enrolled 93 patients with RRMS who commenced ocrelizumab therapy. The study employed the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and MRI to evaluate disease progression, while quality of life was assessed using the World Health Organisation Quality of Life (WHOQOL) questionnaire, Beck Depression Index (BDI), and MOCA scales. Significant improvements were observed post-treatment. EDSS scores decreased from 4.61 to 4.08 (p = 0.038), indicating reduced disability. MRI analyses showed a substantial decrease in expansive lesions (from 67.74% to 26.88%, p < 0.001) and an increase in stationary lesions (from 32.26% to 73.12%, p < 0.001). Quality of life improvements were notable in the physical (from 58.42 to 64.84, p = 0.005) and environmental domains (from 63.21 to 68.44, p = 0.033). Cognitive functions, assessed via Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), showed a significant total score increase from 20.38 to 22.30 (p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis revealed more pronounced effects in females and younger patients, with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms measured by BDI scores (from 14.35 to 11.62, p = 0.003). Ocrelizumab significantly reduced disease activity and disability in RRMS patients, as demonstrated by improvements in EDSS scores and MRI findings. Quality of life and cognitive functions also showed considerable enhancements. These findings support ocrelizumab’s efficacy in not only managing MS symptoms but also improving overall patient well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multidisciplinarity and Interdisciplinary Basics in Mental Health)
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13 pages, 1169 KiB  
Article
Aquaporin 2 in Cerebral Edema: Potential Prognostic Marker in Craniocerebral Injuries
by Wojciech Czyżewski, Jan Korulczyk, Michał Szymoniuk, Leon Sakwa, Jakub Litak, Dominik Ziemianek, Ewa Czyżewska, Marek Mazurek, Michał Kowalczyk, Grzegorz Turek, Adrian Pawłowski, Radosław Rola and Kamil Torres
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(12), 6617; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25126617 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Despite continuous medical advancements, traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Consequently, there is a pursuit for biomarkers that allow non-invasive monitoring of patients after cranial trauma, potentially improving clinical management and reducing complications and mortality. Aquaporins [...] Read more.
Despite continuous medical advancements, traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Consequently, there is a pursuit for biomarkers that allow non-invasive monitoring of patients after cranial trauma, potentially improving clinical management and reducing complications and mortality. Aquaporins (AQPs), which are crucial for transmembrane water transport, may be significant in this context. This study included 48 patients, with 27 having acute (aSDH) and 21 having chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH). Blood plasma samples were collected from the participants at three intervals: the first sample before surgery, the second at 15 h, and the third at 30 h post-surgery. Plasma concentrations of AQP1, AQP2, AQP4, and AQP9 were determined using the sandwich ELISA technique. CT scans were performed on all patients pre- and post-surgery. Correlations between variables were examined using Spearman’s nonparametric rank correlation coefficient. A strong correlation was found between aquaporin 2 levels and the volume of chronic subdural hematoma and midline shift. However, no significant link was found between aquaporin levels (AQP1, AQP2, AQP4, and AQP9) before and after surgery for acute subdural hematoma, nor for AQP1, AQP4, and AQP9 after surgery for chronic subdural hematoma. In the chronic SDH group, AQP2 plasma concentration negatively correlated with the midline shift measured before surgery (Spearman’s ρ −0.54; p = 0.017) and positively with hematoma volume change between baseline and 30 h post-surgery (Spearman’s ρ 0.627; p = 0.007). No statistically significant correlation was found between aquaporin plasma levels and hematoma volume for AQP1, AQP2, AQP4, and AQP9 in patients with acute SDH. There is a correlation between chronic subdural hematoma volume, measured radiologically, and serum AQP2 concentration, highlighting aquaporins’ potential as clinical biomarkers. Full article
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2 pages, 168 KiB  
Editorial
Publishing Urologic Research from Low- and Middle-Income Countries
by Peter Black
Soc. Int. Urol. J. 2024, 5(3), 225-226; https://doi.org/10.3390/siuj5030033 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Global reach is a key component of the mission of the SIUJ [...] Full article
20 pages, 942 KiB  
Review
New Frontiers for Raw Wooden Residues, Biochar Production as a Resource for Environmental Challenges
by Giorgia Di Domenico, Leonardo Bianchini, Valerio Di Stefano, Rachele Venanzi, Angela Lo Monaco, Andrea Colantoni and Rodolfo Picchio
C 2024, 10(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/c10020054 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Biochar has gained significant interest in the agroforestry sector, mainly because of its ability to improve soil quality and sequester carbon in the atmosphere. Among the feedstocks of possible use for biochar production is biomass, understood as products and residues of plant origin [...] Read more.
Biochar has gained significant interest in the agroforestry sector, mainly because of its ability to improve soil quality and sequester carbon in the atmosphere. Among the feedstocks of possible use for biochar production is biomass, understood as products and residues of plant origin from agriculture and forestry. The quality of the biomass used for biochar production is important because the physicochemical characteristics of the final product depend on it. This review examines the use of biochar produced from forest wastes and its impact on agriculture, forest ecosystems and the environment in general. This work demonstrates that the use of biochar not only improves agricultural productivity and production, but also that the sustainable management of the environment and forests and contributes to forest fire risk mitigation. The authors, examining the physico-chemical properties of biochar produced by forest waste, noted that the most critical variable is the process (pyrolysis temperature, residence time and heating rate), but the type of biomass used as a raw material and the forest species used also have a significant impact in determining the characteristics of the final product. Full article
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21 pages, 6978 KiB  
Article
Associations between Indoor and Outdoor Size-Resolved Particulate Matter in Urban Beijing: Chemical Compositions, Sources, and Health Risks
by Shili Tian, Liming Wang, Qingyang Liu, Liang Luo, Chunyan Qian, Baocheng Wang and Yanju Liu
Atmosphere 2024, 15(6), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos15060721 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Ventilation may lead to a deterioration in indoor air quality in urban environments located close to roads. Understanding the differences in the chemical compositions of size-resolved particulate matter (PM) in indoor air and outdoor air could aid in assessing the health impacts of [...] Read more.
Ventilation may lead to a deterioration in indoor air quality in urban environments located close to roads. Understanding the differences in the chemical compositions of size-resolved particulate matter (PM) in indoor air and outdoor air could aid in assessing the health impacts of air in these settings and establishing relevant regulation policies. In this study, indoor and outdoor size-resolved PM was collected from an office in Beijing in summer (between 5 and 25 July 2020) and winter (between 5 and 31 January 2021). Its chemical components, including sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, chlorine, organic matter (OM), elemental carbon (EC), crustal materials (CM), and heavy metals (HM), were analyzed. The mean levels of indoor and outdoor PM2.1 and PM9 were found to be much higher than those in the guidelines for PM2.5 and PM10 outlined by the National Ambient Air Quality Standard. Moreover, the levels of PM2.1 and PM2.1–9 mass were higher outdoors than they were indoors. The size distributions of mass concentrations were shown to be bimodal, peaking at 0.43–0.65 μm and 4.7–5.8 μm, respectively. The most abundant chemicals were OM, nitrate, and sulfate for PM2.1 and OM, CM, and nitrate for PM2.1–9. We found higher percentages of sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, EC, and HM in smaller-size fractions of PM. Additionally, positive matrix factorization showed that biomass burning, secondary inorganic aerosol, coal combustion, dust, traffic, and industrial pollution were the main sources of PM during the study period. The greatest non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic hazards were found at 0.43–0.65 μm in summer and 2.1–3.3 μm in winter. Our results indicate that size-resolved PM of ambient origin may infiltrate buildings near roads to varying degrees, resulting in negative health effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights into Exposure and Health Impacts of Air Pollution)
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17 pages, 5274 KiB  
Article
Matrine Ameliorates DSS-Induced Colitis by Suppressing Inflammation, Modulating Oxidative Stress and Remodeling the Gut Microbiota
by Ningning Mao, Yaming Yu, Jin He, Yang Yang, Zhenguang Liu, Yu Lu and Deyun Wang
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(12), 6613; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25126613 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Matrine (MT) possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and antioxidative properties. However, the impact and underlying mechanisms of matrine on colitis are unclear. The purpose of this research was to examine the protective impact and regulatory mechanism of matrine on dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced ulcerative colitis [...] Read more.
Matrine (MT) possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and antioxidative properties. However, the impact and underlying mechanisms of matrine on colitis are unclear. The purpose of this research was to examine the protective impact and regulatory mechanism of matrine on dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced ulcerative colitis (UC) in mice. MT alleviated DSS-induced UC by inhibiting weight loss, relieving colon shortening and reducing the disease activity index (DAI). Moreover, DSS-induced intestinal injury and the number of goblet cells were reversed by MT, as were alterations in the expression of zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) and occludin in colon. Simultaneously, matrine not only effectively restored DSS-induced oxidative stress in colonic tissues but also reduced the production of inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, MT could treat colitis mice by regulating the regulatory T cell (Treg)/T helper 17 (Th17) cell imbalance. We observed further evidence that MT alleviated the decrease in intestinal flora diversity, reduced the proportion of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, decreased the proportion of Proteobacteria and increased the relative abundance of Lactobacillus and Akkermansia in colitis mice. In conclusion, these results suggest that MT may mitigate DSS-induced colitis by enhancing the colon barrier integrity, reducing the Treg/Th17 cell imbalance, inhibiting intestinal inflammation, modulating oxidative stress and regulating the gut microbiota. These findings provide strong evidence for the development and application of MT as a dietary treatment for UC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Immunology)
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12 pages, 7894 KiB  
Article
The Anti-Atherosclerotic Effects of Endothelin Receptor Antagonist, Bosentan, in Combination with Atorvastatin—An Experimental Study
by Marianna Stasinopoulou, Nikolaos Kostomitsopoulos and Nikolaos P. E. Kadoglou
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(12), 6614; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25126614 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Bosentan, an endothelin receptor antagonist (ERA), has potential anti-atherosclerotic properties. We investigated the complementary effects of bosentan and atorvastatin on the progression and composition of the atherosclerotic lesions in diabetic mice. Forty-eight male ApoE/ mice were fed high-fat diet (HFD) [...] Read more.
Bosentan, an endothelin receptor antagonist (ERA), has potential anti-atherosclerotic properties. We investigated the complementary effects of bosentan and atorvastatin on the progression and composition of the atherosclerotic lesions in diabetic mice. Forty-eight male ApoE/ mice were fed high-fat diet (HFD) for 14 weeks. At week 8, diabetes was induced with streptozotocin, and mice were randomized into four groups: (1) control/COG: no intervention; (2) ΒOG: bosentan 100 mg/kg/day per os; (3) ATG: atorvastatin 20 mg/kg/day per os; and (4) BO + ATG: combined administration of bosentan and atorvastatin. The intra-plaque contents of collagen, elastin, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a), matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2, -3, -9), and TIMP-1 were determined. The percentage of lumen stenosis was significantly lower across all treated groups: BOG: 19.5 ± 2.2%, ATG: 12.8 ± 4.8%, and BO + ATG: 9.1 ± 2.7% compared to controls (24.6 ± 4.8%, p < 0.001). The administration of both atorvastatin and bosentan resulted in significantly higher collagen content and thicker fibrous cap versus COG (p < 0.01). All intervention groups showed lower relative intra-plaque concentrations of MCP-1, MMP-3, and MMP-9 and a higher TIMP-1concentration compared to COG (p < 0.001). Importantly, latter parameters presented lower levels when bosentan was combined with atorvastatin compared to COG (p < 0.05). Bosentan treatment in diabetic, atherosclerotic ApoE/ mice delayed the atherosclerosis progression and enhanced plaques’ stability, showing modest but additive effects with atorvastatin, which are promising in atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. Full article
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19 pages, 1893 KiB  
Article
Post-Harvest Behavior of Seedless Conical and Mini-Conical Peppers: Weight Loss, Dry Matter Content, and Total Soluble Solids as Indicators of Quality and Commercial Shelf-Life
by Manuel Díaz-Pérez, José Javier Hernández-García, Ángel Carreño-Ortega and Borja Velázquez Martí
Foods 2024, 13(12), 1889; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods13121889 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
This study aimed to assess the post-harvest dynamics of seedless conical and mini-conical pepper cultivars in terms of fruit weight loss, dry matter content, and soluble solid content. The above parameters were demonstrated to be effective commercial pepper shelf-life indicators. The commercial quality [...] Read more.
This study aimed to assess the post-harvest dynamics of seedless conical and mini-conical pepper cultivars in terms of fruit weight loss, dry matter content, and soluble solid content. The above parameters were demonstrated to be effective commercial pepper shelf-life indicators. The commercial quality of pepper fruit intended for export was evaluated weekly under simulated fruit storage conditions for over 28 d. Results revealed that fruit weight loss, dry matter content, and soluble solid content were affected by cultivar type and storage duration. Additionally, a strong correlation between these variables was observed confirming their linear relationship which was more profound between dry matter and total soluble solid content. Daily changes during storage were similar in both seedless conical and mini-conical peppers, while the fruit weight loss daily rate was greater than that of dry matter. Water loss was identified to be the main factor causing reduced fruit quality. Solid content reduction occurred predominately during the initial storage period. Notably, fruit with lower dry matter content at harvest tended to maintain their commercial quality for a longer time due to their ability to resist water loss without any visible signs of deterioration, which is beneficial during prolonged storage. Full article
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19 pages, 280 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Special Education Professional Development Program Based on the Council of Exceptional Children’s Advanced Preparation Standards: A Mixed-Method Inquiry
by Reem A. Alabdulwahab
Sustainability 2024, 16(12), 5114; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16125114 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
A national call to promote the capability of the educational system to meet the development and job market demands initiated the development of the Special Education Higher Diploma Program (SEHDP) to create robust special education (SE) school programs. A concurrent explanatory mixed-method approach [...] Read more.
A national call to promote the capability of the educational system to meet the development and job market demands initiated the development of the Special Education Higher Diploma Program (SEHDP) to create robust special education (SE) school programs. A concurrent explanatory mixed-method approach was employed. A web-based survey based on the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC)’s advanced preparation standards (2015) was sent to 561 Special Education Teachers (SETs) who were registered in the SEHDP. One hundred-and-fifty-six SETs responded to the survey (27%). Differences among participants’ responses based on gender, geographical region, educational qualifications, disability programs, and years of experience were examined. Furthermore, 10 interviews were held with SETs to explore their perspectives regarding the SEHDP strengths and challenges they encountered. Data were analyzed using descriptive and thematic analyses. The study found a consistently high rating of the seven CEC standards with an overall mean of 4.190. Statistically significant differences in terms of gender, educational qualifications, and years of experience were identified. SETs’ overall perspectives about the program were positive, indicating the program’s impact on the knowledge and skills they gained, which aligned with other studies, along with the program’s challenges and suggestions. Study limitations and implications for practice were included. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Education and Approaches)
15 pages, 3602 KiB  
Article
Defending the “Backward Civilization”: The Resurrection of a Forgotten 17th Century Text in 20th Century Intellectual Discourse on Islam
by Mahmut Cihat İzgi and Enes Ensar Erbay
Religions 2024, 15(6), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060734 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
It is an irony of history that since texts transcend the intentions and purposes of their authors, their meaning and significance are often contested anew as they enter new historical contexts; even historical texts are thus subject to reading and criticism over time. [...] Read more.
It is an irony of history that since texts transcend the intentions and purposes of their authors, their meaning and significance are often contested anew as they enter new historical contexts; even historical texts are thus subject to reading and criticism over time. This article discusses the posthumous fate of Henry Stubbe’s own text on Islamic history, The Rise and Progress of Mahometanism—seen by some to represent a Copernican revolution in the study of Islam. The fate of this work is a clear example of the critical contingencies and fluctuating fortunes experienced by a corpus of texts. The continuing existence of a text as an object open to reconfiguration and re-evaluation is termed its after-history (Nachgeschichte) or afterlife (Nachleben). This notion of the afterlife of an object as a period of critical appreciation and political appropriation aptly defines the fate and fame of The Rise and Progress of Mahometanism. The present study seeks to explore the narrative surrounding a publication authored by Stubbe in the 17th century and finally published by Hafiz Mahmud Khan Shairani, with the critical support of Ottoman intellectual Halil Halid Bey, nearly two centuries later. Its objective is to investigate how the life and contributions of a figure whose work has transcended generations was resurrected within the political backdrop of the 20th century, as evidenced in the columns of Ottoman newspapers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam and the West)
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20 pages, 1722 KiB  
Review
Exploring the Potential of Endophytic Microorganisms and Nanoparticles for Enhanced Water Remediation
by Madira Coutlyne Manganyi, Tshegofatso Bridget Dikobe and Mametsi Rahab Maseme
Molecules 2024, 29(12), 2858; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29122858 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Endophytic microorganisms contribute significantly to water bioremediation by enhancing pollutant degradation and supporting aquatic plant health and resilience by releasing bioactive compounds and enzymes. These microorganisms inhabit plant tissues without causing disease or any noticeable symptoms. Endophytes effectively aid in eliminating contaminants from [...] Read more.
Endophytic microorganisms contribute significantly to water bioremediation by enhancing pollutant degradation and supporting aquatic plant health and resilience by releasing bioactive compounds and enzymes. These microorganisms inhabit plant tissues without causing disease or any noticeable symptoms. Endophytes effectively aid in eliminating contaminants from water systems. Nanoparticles serve as potent enhancers in bioremediation processes, augmenting the efficiency of pollutant degradation by increasing surface area and bioavailability, thereby improving the efficacy and rate of remediation. Their controlled nutrient release and ability to stabilize endophytic colonization further contribute to the enhanced and sustainable elimination of contaminated environments. The synergistic effect of endophytes and nanoparticles in water remediation has been widely explored in recent studies, revealing compelling outcomes. Water pollution poses significant threats to human health, ecosystems, and economies; hence, the sixth global goal of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 of the United Nations aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water resources, recognizing their crucial importance for current and future generations. Conventional methods for addressing water pollution exhibit several limitations, including high costs, energy-intensive processes, the production of hazardous by-products, and insufficient effectiveness in mitigating emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics. Noticeably, there is an inability to effectively remove various types of pollutants, thus resulting in incomplete purification cycles. Nanoparticle-enhanced water bioremediation offers an innovative, eco-friendly alternative for degrading contaminants. A growing body of research has shown that integrating endophytic microorganisms with nanoparticles for water bioremediation is a potent and viable alternative. This review examines the potential of using endophytic microorganisms and nanoparticles to enhance water remediation, exploring their combined effects and applications in water purification. The paper also provides an overview of synthetic methods for producing endophyte–nanoparticle composites to optimize their remediation capabilities in aqueous environments. The final section of the review highlights the constraints related to integrating endophytes with nanoparticles. Full article
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11 pages, 2482 KiB  
Article
Fried Soybean Oil Causes Systemic Low-Grade Inflammation by Disrupting the Balance of Gut Microbiota in Mice
by Lianhua Hu, Ling Huang, Zhijia Fang, Chen Wang, Jinjin Luo, Qi Deng, Defeng Xu, Lijun Sun and Ravi Gooneratne
Microorganisms 2024, 12(6), 1210; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms12061210 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Previous reports have mainly investigated the long-term effects (>30 d), such as gut microbiota dysbiosis and systemic low-grade inflammation, in mice fed fried oil. However, short-term intake of deep-fried oil is more likely to occur in daily life, and such studies are lacking. [...] Read more.
Previous reports have mainly investigated the long-term effects (>30 d), such as gut microbiota dysbiosis and systemic low-grade inflammation, in mice fed fried oil. However, short-term intake of deep-fried oil is more likely to occur in daily life, and such studies are lacking. This study aimed to investigate the short-term effects of fried oil intake on systemic low-grade inflammation. Male Kunming mice were fed non-fried soybean oil or low (25%), medium (50%), or high (100%)—fried oil at 4.4 g/kg for 6 d. Serum and fecal samples were collected on day 7. In all groups fed fried oil, the serum levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) were significantly elevated 2-4-fold. Among the gut microbiota, the abundance of Alloprevotella significantly decreased by up to 76%, while Lactobacilli significantly increased by up to 385%. The fecal valeric acid content was significantly increased and positively correlated with TNF-α levels. Both valeric acid and TNF-α levels were positively correlated with the abundance of Lactobacilli and negatively correlated with that of Alloprevotella. In summary, a short-term ingestion of even low doses of fried oil alters the gut microbiota Alloprevotella and Lactobacilli and increases fecal valeric acid content, which correlates with increased serum TNF-α levels. Full article
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10 pages, 1264 KiB  
Article
Dentifragilones A–B and Other Benzoic Acid Derivatives from the European Basidiomycete Dentipellis fragilis
by Winnie Chemutai Sum, Sherif S. Ebada, Mahmoud A. A. Ibrahim, Harald Kellner and Marc Stadler
Molecules 2024, 29(12), 2859; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29122859 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
A chemical and biological exploration of the European polypore Dentipellis fragilis afforded two previously undescribed natural products (1 and 2), together with three known derivatives (35). Chemical structures of the isolated compounds were confirmed through 1D/2D NMR spectroscopic [...] Read more.
A chemical and biological exploration of the European polypore Dentipellis fragilis afforded two previously undescribed natural products (1 and 2), together with three known derivatives (35). Chemical structures of the isolated compounds were confirmed through 1D/2D NMR spectroscopic analyses, mass spectrometry, and by comparison with the reported literature. The relative and absolute configurations of 1 were determined according to the ROESY spectrum and time-dependent density functional theory electronic circular dichroism (TDDFT-ECD), respectively. Furthermore, the absolute configuration of dentipellinol (3) was revisited and revealed to be of (R) configuration. All the isolated compounds were assessed for their cytotoxic and antimicrobial activities, with some being revealed to have weak to moderate antimicrobial activity, particularly against Gram-positive bacteria. Full article
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20 pages, 27585 KiB  
Article
Non-Destructive Monitoring of Peanut Leaf Area Index by Combing UAV Spectral and Textural Characteristics
by Dan Qiao, Juntao Yang, Bo Bai, Guowei Li, Jianguo Wang, Zhenhai Li, Jincheng Liu and Jiayin Liu
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(12), 2182; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16122182 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
The leaf area index (LAI) is a crucial metric for indicating crop development in the field, essential for both research and the practical implementation of precision agriculture. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are widely used for monitoring crop growth due to their rapid, repetitive [...] Read more.
The leaf area index (LAI) is a crucial metric for indicating crop development in the field, essential for both research and the practical implementation of precision agriculture. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are widely used for monitoring crop growth due to their rapid, repetitive capture ability and cost-effectiveness. Therefore, we developed a non-destructive monitoring method for peanut LAI, combining UAV vegetation indices (VI) and texture features (TF). Field experiments were conducted to capture multispectral imagery of peanut crops. Based on these data, an optimal regression model was constructed to estimate LAI. The initial computation involves determining the potential spectral and textural characteristics. Subsequently, a comprehensive correlation study between these features and peanut LAI is conducted using Pearson’s product component correlation and recursive feature elimination. Six regression models, including univariate linear regression, support vector regression, ridge regression, decision tree regression, partial least squares regression, and random forest regression, are used to determine the optimal LAI estimation. The following results are observed: (1) Vegetation indices exhibit greater correlation with LAI than texture characteristics. (2) The choice of GLCM parameters for texture features impacts estimation accuracy. Generally, smaller moving window sizes and higher grayscale quantization levels yield more accurate peanut LAI estimations. (3) The SVR model using both VI and TF offers the utmost precision, significantly improving accuracy (R2 = 0.867, RMSE = 0.491). Combining VI and TF enhances LAI estimation by 0.055 (VI) and 0.541 (TF), reducing RMSE by 0.093 (VI) and 0.616 (TF). The findings highlight the significant improvement in peanut LAI estimation accuracy achieved by integrating spectral and textural characteristics with appropriate parameters. These insights offer valuable guidance for monitoring peanut growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Vegetation)
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13 pages, 4213 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Tibial Plateau–Patella Angle (TPPA) in Dogs
by Nedim Zaimovic, Dragan Lorinson, Karin Lorinson, Alexander Tichy and Barbara Bockstahler
Animals 2024, 14(12), 1798; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14121798 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Estimating a dog’s patellar position involves various methods, which categorize it as norma, alta (high), or baja (low). However, they require various calculations. We aimed to evaluate the clinical applicability of a new method, the tibial plateau–patella angle (TPPA). This could aid in [...] Read more.
Estimating a dog’s patellar position involves various methods, which categorize it as norma, alta (high), or baja (low). However, they require various calculations. We aimed to evaluate the clinical applicability of a new method, the tibial plateau–patella angle (TPPA). This could aid in planning patella luxation surgery, estimating the patella position after TPLO and various osteotomies. We conducted a two-step study: first, on 15 stifles without pathologies from nine canine cadavers, and second, using 100 patient X-rays from the archive. Three stifle angle positions (45 ± 5°, 90 ± 5°, and 135 ± 5°) and three weight groups (S, M, and L) were evaluated in the first part of this study. Based on these results, the second part of this study was conducted using 100 pathology-free radiographs at the optimal stifle angle (90 ± 5°) from the archive. All radiographs were measured by three observers with varying levels of experience. Our results indicate that the stifle angle significantly impacted the TPPA, whereby lower values were detected with higher stifle angles, which remained consistent within the weight groups. High inter- and intra-observer agreement was achieved. The physiological TPPA values ranged from 26.7° to 48.8°, remaining consistent within the various weight groups. Observer 3 in Group S exhibited a 20% (insignificant) deviation, possibly due to challenges in determining the caudal point of the tibial plateau. In contrast with humans, TPPA values in dogs are negatively correlated with stifle angles, independent of weight. Our reliable and reproducible protocol suggests the potential benefits of training on small-breed dogs stifles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation)
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11 pages, 921 KiB  
Article
Predictive Value of Ultrasound-Measured Quadriceps Depth and Frailty Status for Hypotension in Older Patients Undergoing Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty in the Beach Chair Position under General Anesthesia
by Sang-Mee An, Hyun Jung Lee, Jae Hee Woo, Ji Seon Chae and Sang-jin Shin
J. Pers. Med. 2024, 14(6), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/jpm14060642 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
The beach chair position (BCP) is widely used in shoulder surgery; however, it frequently leads to hypotension. Hypotension in BCP is prevalent among older patients who are at risk of secondary complications such as ischemic injuries. Therefore, this prospective study aimed to investigate [...] Read more.
The beach chair position (BCP) is widely used in shoulder surgery; however, it frequently leads to hypotension. Hypotension in BCP is prevalent among older patients who are at risk of secondary complications such as ischemic injuries. Therefore, this prospective study aimed to investigate the association and predictive value of frailty, as assessed by ultrasound-measured quadriceps depth and questionnaire, in patients aged ≥65 years undergoing elective shoulder surgery under general anesthesia. A multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to identify independent risk factors for hypotension in BCP under general anesthesia. Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed to assess the predictive values of various parameters. The results indicated that a quadriceps depth < 2.3 cm and BCP for an extended period significantly increased the risk of hypotension. The combined consideration of quadriceps depth < 2.3 cm and frailty demonstrated markedly superior predictive power compared with each factor individually. In conclusion, the study findings facilitate the screening and identification of risk factors for older patients undergoing surgery in BCP, thereby enhancing perioperative management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anesthesiology and Pain Management in Clinical Medicine)
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12 pages, 542 KiB  
Systematic Review
Body Contouring as Gender-Affirming Surgery in Transgender Patients: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature
by Alejandra Aristizábal, María Ríos-Sánchez, Joseph M. Escandón, Dean DeRoberts, Enrique Armenta, Gabriel Del Corral, Andrés Mascaro and Oscar J. Manrique
J. Clin. Med. 2024, 13(12), 3523; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm13123523 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
Background: There is an increasing demand for body contouring and gender-affirming surgeries, and so is the need to compare outcomes between techniques. Gender dysphoria is a discrepancy between gender identity and the sex assigned at birth. One way to address this is to [...] Read more.
Background: There is an increasing demand for body contouring and gender-affirming surgeries, and so is the need to compare outcomes between techniques. Gender dysphoria is a discrepancy between gender identity and the sex assigned at birth. One way to address this is to perform procedures to enable patients to look according to their desired gender identity. Gaps in knowledge regarding the best approaches and which surgical techniques yield the most patient satisfaction remain. This article summarizes up-to-date studies, including upper and lower body contouring procedures. Methods: A systematic review was performed using terms related to body contouring in gender-affirming surgery for transgender patients. All articles included surgical and patient-reported outcomes following either chest or lower body contouring procedures. Results: 15 studies, including trans male chest wall contouring, trans female breast augmentation, and lower body contouring, with 1811 patients, fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The double incision (DI) techniques consistently resected more tissue and had better BODY Q scores than non-overweight patients. Bleeding was increased in periareolar, semicircular, and obese patients with DI techniques. Nipple depigmentation and sensation loss were more common with double-incision-free nipple graft techniques (DIFNG). Lower body contouring patients had average implant sizes bigger than 200 mL and reported 2 gluteal implant displacements, 1 exposure, and one rupture. Eight percent of patients who underwent large-volume fat grafting reported dissatisfaction due to fat reabsorption. Conclusions: The debate between the double incision and periareolar techniques continues. Variations of the DIFNG technique continue to be the most common approach; however, nipple depigmentation and loss of sensation are also more common with it. Regarding increased bleeding with periareolar techniques, there is still no evidence that hormonal therapy may be playing a role in it. For lower-body trans female contouring, implants could help with the longevity of contouring results in patients needing large-volume fat grafting. There is an increasing evaluation of gender-affirming body contouring patient-reported outcomes; however, there is still a need for a validated way to report satisfaction scores in lower body contouring. Validated surveys could help identify surgical candidates based on satisfaction patterns, specifically for transgender and non-binary patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art in Plastic Surgery)
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