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Open AccessArticle
Effective Desulfurization and Alumina Digestion of High-Sulfur Bauxite by New Roasting Process with Conveying Bed
Processes 2021, 9(2), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/pr9020390 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
A new roasting process with a conveying bed was constructed and used to remove sulfur of high-sulfur bauxite. Roasting temperature, phase transformation, microcrystal, specific surface area of high-sulfur bauxite, and the mechanism of the reaction during the roasting process were analyzed. The digestion [...] Read more.
A new roasting process with a conveying bed was constructed and used to remove sulfur of high-sulfur bauxite. Roasting temperature, phase transformation, microcrystal, specific surface area of high-sulfur bauxite, and the mechanism of the reaction during the roasting process were analyzed. The digestion properties of roasted bauxite were also investigated. The results showed that the sulfur in high-sulfur bauxite can be efficiently removed by roasting in the conveying bed at 520?720 °C for 2 s. Major reactions of high-sulfur bauxite during roasting were the dehydration of minerals, desulfurization of pyrite, sulfation of SO2, and decomposition of sulfate. The rate of mineral dehydration reaction was significantly slower than that of the desulfurization reaction. The specific surface area of roasted ore greatly increased, and the microcrystal of Al-O mineral was refined, which was conducive to Al2O3 digestion. The mass fraction of sulfide sulfur in high-sulfur bauxite was reduced from 1.20% to 0.01%, and the relative digestibility of alumina reached more than 99% when roasting at 600 °C for 2 s. This paper provides revelations and instructions for the process development and application of high-sulfur bauxite. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Absence of Adiponutrin (PNPLA3) and Monoacylglycerol Lipase Synergistically Increases Weight Gain and Aggravates Steatohepatitis in Mice
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 2126; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22042126 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Altered lipid metabolic pathways including hydrolysis of triglycerides are key players in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether adiponutrin (patatin-like phospholipase domain containing protein-3—PNPLA3) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) synergistically contribute to disease progression remains unclear. We generated double knockout ( [...] Read more.
Altered lipid metabolic pathways including hydrolysis of triglycerides are key players in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Whether adiponutrin (patatin-like phospholipase domain containing protein-3—PNPLA3) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) synergistically contribute to disease progression remains unclear. We generated double knockout (DKO) mice lacking both Mgl and Pnpla3; DKO mice were compared to Mgl?/? after a challenge by high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks to induce steatosis. Serum biochemistry, liver transaminases as well as histology were analyzed. Fatty acid (FA) profiling was assessed in liver and adipose tissue by gas chromatography. Markers of inflammation and lipid metabolism were analyzed. Bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs) were isolated and treated with oleic acid. Combined deficiency of Mgl and Pnpla3 resulted in weight gain on a chow diet; when challenged by HFD, DKO mice showed increased hepatic FA synthesis and diminished beta-oxidation compared to Mgl?/?.DKO mice exhibited more pronounced hepatic steatosis with inflammation and recruitment of immune cells to the liver associated with accumulation of saturated FAs. Primary BMDMs isolated from the DKO mice showed increased inflammatory activities, which could be reversed by oleic acid supplementation. Pnpla3 deficiency aggravates the effects of Mgl deletion on steatosis and inflammation in the liver under HFD challenge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Link between Steatosis and Obesity)
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Open AccessArticle
Angiotensin-I Converting Enzyme Inhibition and Antioxidant Activity of Papain-Hydrolyzed Camel Whey Protein and Its Hepato-Renal Protective Effects in Thioacetamide-Induced Toxicity
Foods 2021, 10(2), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020468 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Papain hydrolysis of camel whey protein (CWP) produced CWP hydrolysate (CWPH). Fractionation of CWPH by the size exclusion chromatography (SEC) generated fractions (i.e., SEC-F1 and SEC-F2). The angiotensin- converting- enzyme inhibitory activity (ACE-IA) and free radical scavenging actions were assessed for CWP, CWPH, [...] Read more.
Papain hydrolysis of camel whey protein (CWP) produced CWP hydrolysate (CWPH). Fractionation of CWPH by the size exclusion chromatography (SEC) generated fractions (i.e., SEC-F1 and SEC-F2). The angiotensin- converting- enzyme inhibitory activity (ACE-IA) and free radical scavenging actions were assessed for CWP, CWPH, SEC-F1, and SEC-F2. The SEC-F2 exerted the highest ACE-IA and scavenging activities, followed by CWPH. The protective effects of CWPH on thioacetamide (TAA)-induced toxicity were investigated in rats. The liver enzymes, protein profile, lipid profile, antioxidant enzyme activities, renal functions, and liver histopathological changes were assessed. Animals with TAA toxicity showed impaired hepatorenal functions, hyperlipidemia, and decreased antioxidant capacity. Treatment by CWPH counteracted the TAA-induced oxidative tissue damage as well as preserved the renal and liver functions, the antioxidative enzyme activities, and the lipid profile, compared to the untreated animals. The current findings demonstrate that the ACE-IA and antioxidative effects of CWPH and its SEC-F2 fraction are worth noting. In addition, the CWPH antioxidative properties counteracted the toxic hepatorenal dysfunctions. It is concluded that the hydrolysis of CWP generates a wide range of bioactive peptides with potent antihypertensive, antioxidant, and hepatorenal protective properties. This opens up new prospects for the therapeutic utilization of CWPH and its fractions in the treatment of oxidative stress-associated health problems, e.g., hypertension and hepatorenal failure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Products Consumption and Health Benefits)
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Open AccessArticle
SDNN24 Estimation from Semi-Continuous HR Measures
Sensors 2021, 21(4), 1463; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21041463 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
The standard deviation of the interval between QRS complexes recorded over 24 h (SDNN24) is an important metric of cardiovascular health. Wrist-worn fitness wearable devices record heart beats 24/7 having a complete overview of users’ heart status. Due to motion artefacts affecting QRS [...] Read more.
The standard deviation of the interval between QRS complexes recorded over 24 h (SDNN24) is an important metric of cardiovascular health. Wrist-worn fitness wearable devices record heart beats 24/7 having a complete overview of users’ heart status. Due to motion artefacts affecting QRS complexes recording, and the different nature of the heart rate sensor used on wearable devices compared to ECG, traditionally used to compute SDNN24, the estimation of this important Heart Rate Variability (HRV) metric has never been performed from wearable data. We propose an innovative approach to estimate SDNN24 only exploiting the Heart Rate (HR) that is normally available on wearable fitness trackers and less affected by data noise. The standard deviation of inter-beats intervals (SDNN24) and the standard deviation of the Average inter-beats intervals (ANN) derived from the HR (obtained in a time window with defined duration, i.e., 1, 5, 10, 30 and 60 min), i.e., ANN=60HR (SDANNHR24), were calculated over 24 h. Power spectrum analysis using the Lomb-Scargle Peridogram was performed to assess frequency domain HRV parameters (Ultra Low Frequency, Very Low Frequency, Low Frequency, and High Frequency). Due to the fact that SDNN24 reflects the total power of the power of the HRV spectrum, the values estimated from HR measures (SDANNHR24) underestimate the real values because of the high frequencies that are missing. Subjects with low and high cardiovascular risk show different power spectra. In particular, differences are detected in Ultra Low and Very Low frequencies, while similar results are shown in Low and High frequencies. For this reason, we found that HR measures contain enough information to discriminate cardiovascular risk. Semi-continuous measures of HR throughout 24 h, as measured by most wrist-worn fitness wearable devices, should be sufficient to estimate SDNN24 and cardiovascular risk. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Characterization of the GBoV1 Capsid and Its Antibody Interactions
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020330 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Human bocavirus 1 (HBoV1) has gained attention as a gene delivery vector with its ability to infect polarized human airway epithelia and 5.5 kb genome packaging capacity. Gorilla bocavirus 1 (GBoV1) VP3 shares 86% amino acid sequence identity with HBoV1 but has better [...] Read more.
Human bocavirus 1 (HBoV1) has gained attention as a gene delivery vector with its ability to infect polarized human airway epithelia and 5.5 kb genome packaging capacity. Gorilla bocavirus 1 (GBoV1) VP3 shares 86% amino acid sequence identity with HBoV1 but has better transduction efficiency in several human cell types. Here, we report the capsid structure of GBoV1 determined to 2.76 ? resolution using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and its interaction with mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and human sera. GBoV1 shares capsid surface morphologies with other parvoviruses, with a channel at the 5-fold symmetry axis, protrusions surrounding the 3-fold axis and a depression at the 2-fold axis. A 2/5-fold wall separates the 2-fold and 5-fold axes. Compared to HBoV1, differences are localized to the 3-fold protrusions. Consistently, native dot immunoblots and cryo-EM showed cross-reactivity and binding, respectively, by a 5-fold targeted HBoV1 mAb, 15C6. Surprisingly, recognition was observed for one out of three 3-fold targeted mAbs, 12C1, indicating some structural similarity at this region. In addition, GBoV1, tested against 40 human sera, showed the similar rates of seropositivity as HBoV1. Immunogenic reactivity against parvoviral vectors is a significant barrier to efficient gene delivery. This study is a step towards optimizing bocaparvovirus vectors with antibody escape properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Parvovirus Research 2020)
Open AccessArticle
Kinetic Modelling of Biodegradability Data of Commercial Polymers Obtained under Aerobic Composting Conditions
Eng 2021, 2(1), 54-68; https://doi.org/10.3390/eng2010005 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Methods to treat kinetic data for the biodegradation of different plastic materials are comparatively discussed. Different samples of commercial formulates were tested for aerobic biodegradation in compost, following the standard ISO14855. Starting from the raw data, the conversion vs. time entries were elaborated [...] Read more.
Methods to treat kinetic data for the biodegradation of different plastic materials are comparatively discussed. Different samples of commercial formulates were tested for aerobic biodegradation in compost, following the standard ISO14855. Starting from the raw data, the conversion vs. time entries were elaborated using relatively simple kinetic models, such as integrated kinetic equations of zero, first and second order, through the Wilkinson model, or using a Michaelis Menten approach, which was previously reported in the literature. The results were validated against the experimental data and allowed for computation of the time for half degradation of the substrate and, by extrapolation, estimation of the final biodegradation time for all the materials tested. In particular, the Michaelis Menten approach fails in describing all the reported kinetics as well the zeroth- and second-order kinetics. The biodegradation pattern of one sample was described in detail through a simple first-order kinetics. By contrast, other substrates followed a more complex pathway, with rapid partial degradation, subsequently slowing. Therefore, a more conservative kinetic interpolation was needed. The different possible patterns are discussed, with a guide to the application of the most suitable kinetic model. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Development of an Instrument on Knowledge of Food Safety, Practices, and Risk Perception Addressed to Children and Adolescents from Low-Income Families
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2324; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042324 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
In the fight against foodborne diseases, expanding access to information for different groups is needed. In this aspect, it is crucial to evaluate the target audience’s particularities. This study constructed and validated an instrument containing three questionnaires to identify the level of knowledge, [...] Read more.
In the fight against foodborne diseases, expanding access to information for different groups is needed. In this aspect, it is crucial to evaluate the target audience’s particularities. This study constructed and validated an instrument containing three questionnaires to identify the level of knowledge, practices, and risk perception of food safety by low-income students between 11 and 14 years old. The following steps were used: systematic search of the databases; conducting and analyzing focus groups; questionnaires development; and questionnaires analysis. After two judges’ rounds, the final version was reached with 11 knowledge items, 11 practice items, and five risk perception items. The content validation index values were higher than 0.80. The adopted methodology considered the students’ understanding and perceptions, as well the appropriate language to be used. Besides, it allowed the development of questionnaires that directly and straightforwardly covers the rules set by the World Health Organization for foodborne disease control called Five Keys to Safer Food (keep clean; separate raw and cooked; cook thoroughly; keep food at safe temperatures; and use safe water and raw materials). Its use can result in a diagnosis for elaborating educational proposals and other actions against foodborne illness in the most vulnerable population. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Recent Hydroxychloroquine Use Is Not Significantly Associated with Positive PCR Results for SARS-CoV-2: A Nationwide Observational Study in South Korea
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020329 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Background: To evaluate the role of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as pre-exposure prophylaxis against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we investigated the prevalence of positive test results for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing according to recent HCQ use in patients who had been [...] Read more.
Background: To evaluate the role of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as pre-exposure prophylaxis against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we investigated the prevalence of positive test results for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing according to recent HCQ use in patients who had been tested using nationwide health-insurance data of South Korea. Methods: All adults tested for SARS-CoV-2 from 20 January 2020 to 15 May 2020 were identified. HCQ users were defined as patients who had been pretreated with HCQ for at least 30 days until the date of SARS-CoV-2 testing. The prevalence of positive PCR results for SARS-CoV-2 was compared between HCQ users and nonusers. Results: Of a total of 216,686 individuals who had been tested for SARS-CoV-2, 743 (0.3%) were pretreated with HCQ. The prevalence of positive results was not significantly different between HCQ users (2.2%) and nonusers (2.7%; P = 0.35), with an odds ratio of 0.79 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.48–1.30). Propensity score-matched-cohort analysis showed similar results in terms of the prevalence of positive results (2.2% in HCQ users vs. 3.1% in nonusers; P = 0.18), with an odds ratio of 0.69 (95% CI, 0.40–1.19). The rate of positive PCR was not significantly different in long-term HCQ users (more than 3 or 6 months) compared with nonusers. Conclusions: In this population-based study, recent exposure to HCQ was not significantly associated with a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data do not support the use of HCQ as pre-exposure prophylaxis against COVID-19. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vaccines and Therapeutics against Coronaviruses)
Open AccessStudy Protocol
Immune Fitness and the Psychosocial and Health Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in The Netherlands: Methodology and Design of the CLOFIT Study
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2021, 11(1), 199-218; https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe11010016 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
This article provides an overview of the design and methodology of the “Corona lockdown: how fit are you?” (CLOFIT) study, including the questionnaires and scales that were included in the online survey. The aim of the CLOFIT study was to investigate the psychosocial [...] Read more.
This article provides an overview of the design and methodology of the “Corona lockdown: how fit are you?” (CLOFIT) study, including the questionnaires and scales that were included in the online survey. The aim of the CLOFIT study was to investigate the psychosocial and health consequences of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the Netherlands. The survey was conducted among the Dutch population to collect data on immune fitness and the psychological and health consequences of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown in the Netherlands. The CLOFIT dataset contains measures from N = 1910 participants and is broadly representative of the Dutch general population. The dataset represents both sexes, a range of ages including the elderly, different education levels, and ethnic backgrounds. The cohort also includes people with a diverse health status and range of medication use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research in Clinical and Health Contexts)
Open AccessReview
Disturbance of Mitochondrial Dynamics and Mitochondrial Therapies in Atherosclerosis
Life 2021, 11(2), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/life11020165 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a wide range of chronic human disorders, including atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that undergo constant turnover in living cells. Through the processes of mitochondrial fission and fusion, a functional population of mitochondria is maintained, [...] Read more.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a wide range of chronic human disorders, including atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus. Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that undergo constant turnover in living cells. Through the processes of mitochondrial fission and fusion, a functional population of mitochondria is maintained, that responds to the energy needs of the cell. Damaged or excessive mitochondria are degraded by mitophagy, a specialized type of autophagy. These processes are orchestrated by a number of proteins and genes, and are tightly regulated. When one or several of these processes are affected, it can lead to the accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria, deficient energy production, increased oxidative stress and cell death—features that are described in many human disorders. While severe mitochondrial dysfunction is known to cause specific and mitochondrial disorders in humans, progressing damage of the mitochondria is also observed in a wide range of other chronic diseases, including cancer and atherosclerosis, and appears to play an important role in disease development. Therefore, correction of mitochondrial dynamics can help in developing new therapies for the treatment of these conditions. In this review, we summarize the recent knowledge on the processes of mitochondrial turnover and the proteins and genes involved in it. We provide a list of known mutations that affect mitochondrial function, and discuss the emerging therapeutic approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Physiology and Pathology)
Open AccessArticle
Numerical Study of Spray-Induced Turbulence Using Industrial Fire-Mitigation Nozzles
Energies 2021, 14(4), 1135; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14041135 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
A numerical investigation of the spray-induced turbulence generated from industrial spray nozzles is carried out to better understand the roles of the nozzle spray on the fires or explosions in different accidental scenarios. Numerical simulations are first validated against experimental data in the [...] Read more.
A numerical investigation of the spray-induced turbulence generated from industrial spray nozzles is carried out to better understand the roles of the nozzle spray on the fires or explosions in different accidental scenarios. Numerical simulations are first validated against experimental data in the single nozzle case using the monodisperse and polydisperse assumption for droplet diameters. The polydispersion of the nozzle spray is proven to be necessary to correctly predict the gas and droplet velocities. The turbulent kinetic energy has dominant values inside the spray cone, decreases rapidly with the vertical distance from the spray nozzle, and is strongly affected by the spray droplet diameter. On the contrary, the integral length scale is found to have high values outside the spray cone. Two interacting sprays injected from different nozzles are then investigated numerically using the validated polydisperse model. The water sprays generated from such industrial nozzles can generate turbulence of high intensity in the near-nozzle region, and this intensity decreases with the distance from the nozzles. A better understanding of the turbulence generated by the spray system can be beneficial for the evaluation of several important phenomena such as explosion enhancement. The guideline values obtained from this investigation of single and double nozzles can be useful for large-scale numerical simulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section State-of-the-Art Energy Related Technologies)
Open AccessArticle
Two-Population Coevolutionary Algorithm with Dynamic Learning Strategy for Many-Objective Optimization
Mathematics 2021, 9(4), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/math9040420 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Due to the complexity of many-objective optimization problems, the existing many-objective optimization algorithms cannot solve all the problems well, especially those with complex Pareto front. In order to solve the shortcomings of existing algorithms, this paper proposes a coevolutionary algorithm based on dynamic [...] Read more.
Due to the complexity of many-objective optimization problems, the existing many-objective optimization algorithms cannot solve all the problems well, especially those with complex Pareto front. In order to solve the shortcomings of existing algorithms, this paper proposes a coevolutionary algorithm based on dynamic learning strategy. Evolution is realized mainly through the use of Pareto criterion and non-Pareto criterion, respectively, for two populations, and information exchange between two populations is used to better explore the whole objective space. The dynamic learning strategy acts on the non-Pareto evolutionary to improve the convergence and diversity. Besides, a dynamic convergence factor is proposed, which can be changed according to the evolutionary state of the two populations. Through these effective heuristic strategies, the proposed algorithm can maintain the convergence and diversity of the final solution set. The proposed algorithm is compared with five state-of-the-art algorithms and two weight-sum based algorithms on a many-objective test suite, and the results are measured by inverted generational distance and hypervolume performance indicators. The experimental results show that, compared with the other five state-of-the-art algorithms, the proposed algorithm achieved the optimal performance in 47 of the 90 cases evaluated by the two indicators. When the proposed algorithm is compared with the weight-sum based algorithms, 83 out of 90 examples achieve the optimal performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Computation 2020)
Open AccessArticle
Performance Evaluation of LoRa 920 MHz Frequency Band in a Hilly Forested Area
Electronics 2021, 10(4), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10040502 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Long-range (LoRa) wireless communication technology has been widely used in many Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications in industry and academia. Radio wave propagation characteristics in forested areas are important to ensure communication quality in forest IoT applications. In this study, 920 MHz band propagation characteristics [...] Read more.
Long-range (LoRa) wireless communication technology has been widely used in many Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications in industry and academia. Radio wave propagation characteristics in forested areas are important to ensure communication quality in forest IoT applications. In this study, 920 MHz band propagation characteristics in forested areas and tree canopy openness were investigated in the Takakuma experimental forest in Kagoshima, Japan. The aim was to evaluate the performance of the LoRa 920 MHz band with spreading factor (SF12) in a forested hilly area. The received signal strength indicator (RSSI) was measured as a function of the distance between the transmitter antenna and ground station (GS). To illustrate the effect of canopy openness on radio wave propagation, sky view factor (SVF) and a forest canopy height model were considered at each location of a successfully received RSSI. A positive correlation was found between the RSSI and SVF. It was found that between the GS and transmitter antenna, if the canopy height is above 23 m, the signal diffracted and RSSI fell to ?120 to ?127 dBm, so the presence of the obstacle height should be considered. Further research is needed to clarify the detailed tree density between the transmitter and ground station to propose an optimal propagation model for a forested environment. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Complexes of Formaldehyde and α-Dicarbonyls with Hydroxylamine: FTIR Matrix Isolation and Theoretical Study
Molecules 2021, 26(4), 1144; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26041144 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
The interactions of formaldehyde (FA), glyoxal (Gly) and methylglyoxal (MGly) with hydroxylamine (HA) isolated in solid argon and nitrogen were studied using FTIR spectroscopy and ab initio methods. The spectra analysis indicates the formation of two types of hydrogen-bonded complexes between carbonyl and [...] Read more.
The interactions of formaldehyde (FA), glyoxal (Gly) and methylglyoxal (MGly) with hydroxylamine (HA) isolated in solid argon and nitrogen were studied using FTIR spectroscopy and ab initio methods. The spectra analysis indicates the formation of two types of hydrogen-bonded complexes between carbonyl and hydroxylamine in the studied matrices. The cyclic planar complexes are stabilized by O–H???O(C), and C–H???N interactions and the nonplanar complexes are stabilized by O–H???O(C) bond. Formaldehyde was found to form with hydroxylamine, the cyclic planar complex and methylglyoxal, the nonplanar one in both argon and nitrogen matrices. In turn, glyoxal forms with hydroxylamine the most stable nonplanar complex in solid argon, whereas in solid nitrogen, both types of the complex are formed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Thermomechanical Multifunctionality in 3D-Printed Polystyrene-Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) Composites
J. Compos. Sci. 2021, 5(2), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcs5020061 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
In this work, polystyrene (PS) and boron nitrides nanotubes (BNNT) composites were fabricated, prepared, and characterized using modified direct mixing and sonication processes. The polymer composites were extruded into filaments (BNNTs at 10 wt. %) for 3D printing, utilizing the fused deposition modeling [...] Read more.
In this work, polystyrene (PS) and boron nitrides nanotubes (BNNT) composites were fabricated, prepared, and characterized using modified direct mixing and sonication processes. The polymer composites were extruded into filaments (BNNTs at 10 wt. %) for 3D printing, utilizing the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technique to fabricate parts for mechanical and thermal applications. Using a direct mixing process, we found that the thermal conductivity and the mechanical strength of the PS-BNNT composite were respectively four times and two times higher compared to the sonication method. The thermal stability and glass transition temperatures were positively affected. A 2D microstructural mechanical entanglement model captured the exact geometry of the nanotubes using the MultiMechanics software, and the performance of the additive manufactured (AM) PS-BNNT composites part for thermomechanical application was simulated in COMSOL. The modified direct mixing process for PS-BNNT, which affects morphology, proved to be effective in achieving better interfacial bonding, indicating that BNNTs are promising fillers for improving thermal and mechanical properties, and are applicable for thermal management and electronic packaging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiscale Analysis of Polymer Nanocomposites)
Open AccessArticle
Hospital Emergency Room Savings via Health Line S24 in Portugal
Econometrics 2021, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/econometrics9010008 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Hospital emergency departments are often overused by patients that do not really need urgent care. These admissions are one of the major factors contributing to hospital costs, which should not be allowed to compromise the response and effectiveness of the National Health Services [...] Read more.
Hospital emergency departments are often overused by patients that do not really need urgent care. These admissions are one of the major factors contributing to hospital costs, which should not be allowed to compromise the response and effectiveness of the National Health Services (SNS). The aim of this study is to perform a detailed spatial health econometrics analysis of the non-urgent emergency situations (classified by Manchester triage) by area, linking them with the efficient use of the national health line, the Saude24 line (S24 line). This is evaluated through the S24 savings calls, using a savings index and its spatial effectiveness in solving the non-urgent emergency situations. A savings call is a call by a user whose initial intention was to go to an urgency department, but who. after calling the S24 line. changed his/her mind. Given the spatial nature of the data, and resorting to INLA in a Bayesian paradigm, the number of non-urgent cases in the Portuguese urgency hospital departments is modeled in an autoregressive way. The spatial structure is accounted for by a set of random effects. The model additionally includes regular covariates and a spatially lagged covariate savings index, related with the S24 savings calls. Therefore, the response in a given area depends not only on the (weighted) values of the response in its neighborhood and of the considered covariates, but also on the (weighted) values of the covariate savings index measured in each neighbor, by means of a Bayesian Poisson spatial Durbin model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Econometrics)
Open AccessArticle
Paternal Inheritance of Bisphenol A Cardiotoxic Effects: The Implications of Sperm Epigenome
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 2125; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22042125 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Parental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked to a greater incidence of congenital diseases. We have demonstrated that BPA induces in zebrafish males an increase in the acetylation of sperm histones that is transmitted to the blastomeres of the unexposed progeny. [...] Read more.
Parental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked to a greater incidence of congenital diseases. We have demonstrated that BPA induces in zebrafish males an increase in the acetylation of sperm histones that is transmitted to the blastomeres of the unexposed progeny. This work is aimed to determine whether histone hyperacetylation promoted by paternal exposure to BPA is the molecular mechanism underlying the cardiogenesis impairment in the descendants. Zebrafish males were exposed to 100 and 2000 μg/L BPA during early spermatogenesis and mated with non-exposed females. We analyzed in the progeny the expression of genes involved in cardiogenesis and the epigenetic profile. Once the histone hyperacetylation was confirmed, treatment with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an inhibitor of histone acetyltransferases, was assayed on F1 embryos. Embryos from males exposed to 2000 μg/L BPA overexpressed the transcription factor hand2 and the receptor esr2b, showing their own promoters—as well as that of kat6a—an enrichment in H3K9ac. In embryos treated with EGCG, both gene expression and histone acetylation (global and specific) returned to basal levels, and the phenotype was recovered. As shown by the results, the histone hyperacetylated landscape promoted by BPA in the sperm alters the chromatin structure of the progeny, leading to the overexpression of the histone acetyltransferase and genes involved in cardiogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Development, Differentiation, and Toxicity of Gametes)
Open AccessArticle
Marine Exopolysaccharide Complexed with Scandium Aimed as Theranostic Agents
Molecules 2021, 26(4), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26041143 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
(1) Background: Exopolysaccharide (EPS) derivatives, produced by Alteromonas infernus bacterium, showed anti-metastatic properties. They may represent a new class of ligands to be combined with theranostic radionuclides, such as 47Sc/44Sc. The goal of this work was to investigate the feasibility [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Exopolysaccharide (EPS) derivatives, produced by Alteromonas infernus bacterium, showed anti-metastatic properties. They may represent a new class of ligands to be combined with theranostic radionuclides, such as 47Sc/44Sc. The goal of this work was to investigate the feasibility of such coupling. (2) Methods: EPSs, as well as heparin used as a drug reference, were characterized in terms of molar mass and dispersity using Asymmetrical Flow Field-Flow Fractionation coupled to Multi-Angle Light Scattering (AF4-MALS). The intrinsic viscosity of EPSs at different ionic strengths were measured in order to establish the conformation. To determine the stability constants of Sc with EPS and heparin, a Free-ion selective radiotracer extraction (FISRE) method has been used. (3) Results: AF4-MALS showed that radical depolymerization produces monodisperse EPSs, suitable for therapeutic use. EPS conformation exhibited a lower hydrodynamic volume for the highest ionic strengths. The resulting random-coiled conformation could affect the complexation with metal for high concentration. The LogK of Sc-EPS complexes have been determined and showing that they are comparable to the Sc-Hep. (4) Conclusions: EPSs are very promising to be coupled with the theranostic pair of scandium for Nuclear Medicine. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Integration of Energy-Efficient Ventilation Systems in Historic Buildings—Review and Proposal of a Systematic Intervention Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2325; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042325 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
Historic building restoration and renovation requires sensitivity to the cultural heritage, historic value, and sustainability (i.e., building physics, energy efficiency, and comfort) goals of the project. Energy-efficient ventilation such as demand-controlled ventilation and heat recovery ventilation can contribute to the aforementioned goals, if [...] Read more.
Historic building restoration and renovation requires sensitivity to the cultural heritage, historic value, and sustainability (i.e., building physics, energy efficiency, and comfort) goals of the project. Energy-efficient ventilation such as demand-controlled ventilation and heat recovery ventilation can contribute to the aforementioned goals, if ventilation concepts and airflow distribution are planned and realized in a minimally invasive way. Compared to new buildings, the building physics of historic buildings are more complicated in terms of hygrothermal performance. In particular, if internal insulation is applied, dehumidification is needed for robust and risk-free future use, while maintaining the building’s cultural value. As each ventilation system has to be chosen and adapted individually to the specific building, the selection of the appropriate system type is not an easy task. For this reason, there is a need for a scientifically valid, systematic approach to pair appropriate ventilation system and airflow distribution solutions with historical buildings. This paper provides an overview of the interrelationships between heritage conservation and the need for ventilation in energy-efficient buildings, regarding building physics and indoor environmental quality. Furthermore, a systematic approach based on assessment criteria in terms of heritage significance of the building, building physics (hygrothermal performance), and building services (energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and comfort rating) according to the standard EN 16883:2017 are applied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
Open AccessArticle
Standard Bacteriophage Purification Procedures Cause Loss in Numbers and Activity
Viruses 2021, 13(2), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020328 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
For decades, bacteriophage purification has followed structured protocols focused on generating high concentrations of phage in manageable volumes. As research moves toward understanding complex phage populations, purification needs have shifted to maximize the amount of phage while maintaining diversity and activity. The effects [...] Read more.
For decades, bacteriophage purification has followed structured protocols focused on generating high concentrations of phage in manageable volumes. As research moves toward understanding complex phage populations, purification needs have shifted to maximize the amount of phage while maintaining diversity and activity. The effects of standard phage purification procedures such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation and cesium chloride (CsCl) density gradients on both diversity and activity of a phage population are not known. We have examined the effects of PEG precipitation and CsCl density gradients on a number of known phage (M13, T4, and ΦX 174) of varying structure and size, individually and as mixed sample. Measurement of phage numbers and activity throughout the purification process was performed. We demonstrate that these methods, used routinely to generate “pure” phage samples, are in fact detrimental to retention of phage number and activity; even more so in mixed phage samples. As such, minimal amounts of processing are recommended to introduce less bias and maintain more of a phage population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Viruses)
Open AccessArticle
A Critical Discourse Analysis of Representations of Travellers in Public Policies in Ireland
Societies 2021, 11(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc11010014 (registering DOI) - 20 Feb 2021
Abstract
In Ireland, negative stereotypes of the Traveller population have long been a part of society. The beliefs that surround this minority group may not be based in fact, yet negative views persist such that Travellers find themselves excluded from mainstream society. The language [...] Read more.
In Ireland, negative stereotypes of the Traveller population have long been a part of society. The beliefs that surround this minority group may not be based in fact, yet negative views persist such that Travellers find themselves excluded from mainstream society. The language used in discourse plays a critical role in the way Travellers are represented. This study analyses the discourse in the public policy regarding Travellers in the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS) 2017–2021. This study performs a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of the policy with the overall aims of showing signs of the power imbalance through the use of language and revealing the discourses used by elite actors to retain power and sustain existing social relations. The key findings show that Travellers are represented as a homogenous group that exists outside of society. They have no control over how their social identity is constructed. The results show that the constructions of negative stereotypes are intertextually linked to previous policies, and the current policy portrays them in the role of passive patients, not powerful actors. The discursive practice creates polarity between the “settled” population and the “Travellers”, who are implicitly blamed by the state for their disadvantages. Through the policy, the government disseminates expert knowledge, which legitimises the inequality and supports this objective “truth”. This dominant discourse, which manifests in wider social practice, can facilitate racism and social exclusion. This study highlights the need for Irish society to change the narrative to support an equitable representation of Travellers. Full article

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